The thoughts, reflections, rants, raves, on my life; The life of a Christian, black, gay, male.

20080810180201_americandream The other day I was watching “The Pursuit of Happiness” and on the special features it explained that the producers including Will Smith chose an Italian man (Gabriele Muccino) to direct the movie. One of the things he said completely incarcerated my thoughts and forced me to write this.


As Americans you guys don’t really understand and appreciate ‘The American Dream’. To fully appreciate and understand ‘The American Dream’ you have to be a foreigner.


I wonder how true that statement is? I’ve had plenty of friends whose parents (and some themselves) have come to this country; made good and tell the story,


“I came here with nothing and now look at me.”


As children we are taught to go to school and get good grades you so can get into a good college. Once you have gotten into the good college you get a good education so you can get a good job. Once you have the good job you’re to buy the nice big home with the white picket fence, the nice car that you trade in for a nice sports car latter in life, and start the nice family so the cycle can repeat. That particular dream is ok for some, hey this is American and if that is what a person wants from life then they have the right to pursue. It took a very long time to figure out that particular dream was not for me. Some people’s American dream is to be the richest they can; richer than anyone ever and being born and raised in a democratic society with a capitalistic economic structure you already have an ingrained propensity for the wealth acquirement itch. I’m not saying wanting to be the richest man/woman there ever was makes you greedy capitalistic scum and a leach upon the world and its resources (although I know some reading this would say that). I’m not say that NOT wanting to be rich but seeking a life different from wealth acquisition maybe even seeking spiritual or personal education and elightenment makes you a hippy or a terrorist (although I so some reading this would say that).


What I am saying or asking rather is as Americans do we (myself included) understand and appreciate “The American Dream?” I think as Americans we fully understand “The American Dream” but I think we as Americans do not fully appreciate the access we have to that/those dream(s) verses what most people have in other countries. Keeping with the movie theme take into consideration movies like “Slumdog Millionaire” or “Jerusalema” both movies about men whom came from the unthinkable and achieved the unbelievable. One man in India one man in South Africa but both made good on what we in have claimed in America as our own. The idea of surpassing any and all odds to achieve our hearts desire whatever that might be. That is what we have claimed as “The American Dream.” I have some friends whose ideal would be to see America and all its hypocrisy come full circle. I know that they would like nothing more for all of its greedy corporations and double talking politicians expunged from the face of the Earth. I also have some friends whose ideal would be to make over the world and fill it with capitalism and democracy in every corners and all its crevices. I’d just like to write and have a few of my books and poetry published and make enough money to be what they call “comfortable.”

I’m thinking and I could be wrong is maybe Gabriele Muccino might have meant is that we as Americans do not appreciate and understand. The ease of access and the options of opportunities we have for success in and as Americans.


As a gay black man in America I could play my little violin (and I did for a while) and say how “the man” keeps me down and how “the government” wont even grant me first class citizenship in this country. Explicitly defining what my pursuit of happiness should be and there by limiting it. I think as you get older you start to realize that there will always be something. There will always be something that will be an obstacle in the way. I hate to use these words seeing how they have been overused in the past few years but it is sort of elitist (to me) to think that things should be handed to you just because you want them weather it be ten million dollars, a mansion, and a yacht. It seems (to me) a bit on the entitlement side to think that everyone should want to go out and protest the things (or anything for that matter) that you feel are unjust and unfair, to think that everyone should rally behind the banner of a cause that you (or anyone for that matter) have deemed personally righteous. In Africa certain people are denied jobs for the simple fact that they are from a particular tribe. In America I know that I have been turned down for jobs (and in one case actually given) simply because I am black, but the difference I think he meant is that we have recourse in America. We can take action and depending on how much and how hard we are willing to fight( not how much we willing to complain about how wrong it was) the outcome can be changed. In those places in Africa that’s simply just it, you can not have the job (or most other things that you want )and there is nothing you can do about it.


I think he might have meant that we do not appreciate the fact that as Americans we can do something against something that is negative in our eyes. We do not have to settle for any glass ceiling that is said to be given to use. I know some (reading this right now) scoff and say that you can only go so far and THEY will let you and you’ll NEVER get passed that. I say for THEM that is true. They will only go so far and will only ever achieve so much because they have accepted what someone else has transcribed as their limitations. I think what he meant is that even though America can seem to be all about money, greed, and corruptions is also about opportunity, and choice. You can choose to listen to what THEY tell you and only go as far as THEY will let you or you can take hold of the opportunities available to ALL BY LAW (something very few other countries offer) and at least try to achieve whatever it is that is your own personal American Dream.


©Christopher F. Brown 2009





Its funny how when God is trying to speak to you and you’re not opening your ears to listen to him he will continue to speak. The other day my I was at my aunts house and I overheard my cousin on the phone speaking to someone about Jesus and church. Without getting into too much detail this cousin is one of the few people that I thought I would never hear mention the name Jesus let alone minister like they were that night. I was a proud of them. On the way home there were two homeless people pushing their carts down the street. It was late at night and there was no other people on the streets, no cars on the road so I could hear their conversation clearly.


“You know I’m so blessed, my brother lost his job and just found out he has cancer, all of are parents and children are gone and he does not know what he’s going to do.”


Just to hear him say that re-awoke something in me (or turned up the volume rather) that I had been ignoring.


I have been mulling over whether or not to let go of someone that I had once called friend. I had been feeling in my heart that I finally had gotten to my last straw with them. I thought over how many times I had been a shoulder for them to cry on, an ear for them to speak to, even offer them a couch when they did not want there own. I then compared that to how many times when I call them and they don't even answer the phone. I contrasted that to when I had no one to turn to and turned to them they showed me their back.


“Who need a friend like that.”


is what I thought. They were (as Madea said) a branch, when I put a little pressure on them they broke.


I had already cut one person I called  “Friend” loose because I figured them to be a user. They got what they wanted out of me and from me then like a magic smoke they seemed to forget my name existed. They I deemed a user. This friend I told about themselves and told him how they were not being the type of friend I was to them and how hurt i was because I thought they felt as I did. I thought they understood and was of the like that  a friend is a family member that you get to choose yourself. This is the reason why I can count the people I call friend barely on both hands. This is the reason why most of the people that I give that name to have been that for more that 10 years.


This week I listen to God and God told me no. God told me not to cut this person loose because they are my friend. I would never disown a family member so how could I disown a friend.  Of course I wrestled with this one. This one friend that I had cut loose and this one that I was going to cut loose were toxic people, they were users; why would god tell me to keep these people in my life when they were brining me down? God gave me the answer.


Like any family member you do whatever you can for that person simply because they are that person, no more no less, so how could you do less for a family member that you yourself chose. “Old friends” are the achievement of being a good person, the achievement of being a person who's spirit is truly blessed and a heart that is truly kind so getting rid of them when they might need you the most is not the way to get them to be “Old friends”. And  No matter how many friends you have NONE of them are god and none of them are you.


I already knew that part of friendship  is staying in contact and seeing how that person is doing and wanting to know what is going on in that person's life and just showing general concern, but I was expecting these people to WANT to do those things in return and that was my error. You cant make a person WANT to do something if it is not in there heart to want it. The only thing that you can do is what is in YOUR heart to do. I forgot that the only people I that I should ever expect anything out of is myself and God. I forgot that the key to having old friends is treating them like family and that is showing them unconditional love. If you let him God will weed out the people in your life that do not need to be there.


The day may come when these people will call on me to do something for them: maybe listen to their story, let them cry on my shoulder, sleep on my couch, or just sit next to them in their empty house. Its up to me to be available to them because god has directed them to my doorstep for a purpose and it is up to me to let God work out whatever God needs to work out.  


I apologized to the one friend I cut loose and if god ever does send the other friend my way again I will ask them for their forgiveness.


In the United States of America the celebration of the fourth of July is a time to celebrate the freedom that as Americans possess.  The irony to me is that in most states setting off fireworks without a permit or even possessing most of them (as if they were drugs) is considered illegal.  The very thing that is one of the iconic symbols that represents  this nations freedom is also contraband.


People attend corporate sponsored events sanctioned by the local governments where one can purchase this and bye that. All the while little children look up in awe at the pretty colors and loud sounds and lovers share hotdogs, sodas, and candy.


When I was a young child everyone in the neighborhood would gather in the alley or at the park on the basketball court and set off bottle rockets, screamers, and what have you. This was what the fourth of July was to me as a child. It was a time when the whole neighborhood gathered and the community came together and had a fun and eventful time. We did not need any local officials telling us what we could and could not do. What was and was not suitable.


The counter argument is of course the perpetual story of some young child blowing off a finger or two playing with M-80’s, or how one fourth of July little somebody got into the “stash” and burned mama’s grandma’s uncle’s or simply “The House” down.  I wont do the whole thing and blame it on parenting because even as a child I set off a firecracker in my hand and for those few seconds while my hand hurt and my ears rang (convinced I had gone deaf) I just knew I would be in trouble. I learned my lesson, but I believe that education not total prohibition of most things is a better answer in most cases. When the people want something they tend to find ways to get it. When it is something that could be monitored and regulated and actually bring people together without strife, malice, or discord I just wonder why?


It seems to me a bit Orwellish or something from a Kafka short.


“The celebration of the day that the nation claimed it independence from imperial rule, its freedom from unjust and unfair laws and taxations. The celebration of when those colonial rebels bested the British crown. A celebration in remembrance of the rebel spirit  freed this nation and created the term “Americans” but only in the ways the government sees fit, only in the way the government will allow”


As I sat in Jack London square last night watching the bombs burst in the air I questioned (as always) how free are we? How free are we not from Imperial rule but how free are we from capitalistic domination. Where does the line between government protection and corporate control end?


Adding more salt in the wound is that the majority of the fireworks that are used to celebrate and remind us Americans (and the world for that matter) of our freedom  comes from a nation that is equally known world wide for its oppressions of its people (China). In recent years China had enjoyed an economic boom and most people that cared to think of it thought that more economic freedom would automatically equate more social freedom for its people. The world assumed incorrectly. With more people in China able to afford laptops and internet service the government asked (told rather) the American internet companies to implement search restricting software in its china based programs.  The average Chinese citizen born after 1989 has never even heard of the JUNE 5 1989 (think about that one for a second) democratic protests Tiananmen Square. I know for a fact that by me mentioning that date and those words Chinese search engines will not find this article so just to make sure “Tank Man”


The land of the free in bed (in so many and too many ways for me) with the home of the civilly oppressed. I again wonder is this the nation that those colonial rebels had in mind when they stood their ground against the British crown all those many years ago and said.



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I offer my own unique voice, my own vision. I think the saying goes that writers write because no one else can say what they have to say quite the way they have to say it. That is why I write, that is what I offer.



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