African American Community

#TrustTheProcess | 2015: a Year in Review

...If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen me post the now infamous hashtag, #TrustTheProcess. This process began in 2014 when a still small voice told me not to pursue my doctoral studies on the East Coast and, instead, to come back home to Los Angeles to be with my Grandmother. After coming home, I saw just how much the process needed to be trusted as I found myself unable to find gainful full-time work, living on my Grandmother's couch,  and working part-time, making $9.25/hour at my local YMCA, even with a master's degree. Although 2015 had its ebbs and flows, I have plenty good news to share and want to chronicle the months to show you just how much has transpired over the last year.

Here's my recap of how I trusted the process in 2015:


In March of 2015, I started my first podcast entitled the #TheCut  with the support of my lovely girlfriend, Makiah. I also wrote what would become one of my most popular blog posts: On Mo’ne, SAE, & The Burden of Black Forgiveness, which was shared by my professional role model, Marc Lamont Hill! #TrustTheProcess



In April, I was invited by Huffington Post Black Voices  to become a blogger and contributor for their site! Being excited from the responses to my writing, I decided educate Raven Symone on the importance of knowing what continent you come from in 5 things Raven-Symonè Still Doesn’t Know About Africa | List. #TrustTheProcess



In May, I wrote my most poignant essay entitled, The Theology of Black Unrest. Though it wasn't as widely circulated as I originally anticipated, it allowed me to grapple with how my faith informs the rising social unrest in cities like Baltimore and Ferguson and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. #TrustTheProcess



In June, I still found myself working diligently at the YMCA part-time. While there, I was configuring ways to use my writing as an outlet to chime in on cultural matters while still looking for full-time work.


Shortly afterward,  I was inspired to write about Rachel Dolezal on Huffington Post in a essay called: Post Rachel: 5 Things Rachel Dolezal Taught us About Race. In the same month, I also was featured on MadameNoir's #AskABlackManLA video shoot (dropping in 2016). During the same month, I also got to meet a major inspiration of mine, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill at Th BET's Experience Genius Talks. It was quite clear that the process was being trusted and I was right where I needed to be. #TrustTheProcess



In July, I wrote my next piece,The Color of Hatred, an essay surrounding the failure of the media to portray the humanity of the nine African-Americans killed in the Charleston attack.

Shortly after writing this piece, I was unexpectedly invited to become an Adjunct Professor at Pacific Oaks College to teach Race + Culture courses.

In the same month, while working on a fellowship application, my Macbook was stolen at my local Starbucks.:( Primed by friends to start a GoFundMe to raise donations for a new one, I created #TheBounceBack Campaign, and by the grace of numerous friends and loved ones, I raised enough money to buy a BRAND NEW laptop! #TrustTheProcess



On a high from July, I was even more excited about August 2015! As I made preparations to begin teaching at Pacific Oaks, I received an opportunity to host a screening of Ava Duvernay's Selma at the California African American Museum.

Shortly after that,  I was invited to attend Amnesty International's Human Rights Leadership Conference in St. Louis. While there, I went to Ferguson to support the activism surrounding Michael Brown, who had been murdered a year prior. #TrustTheProcess


Upon my arrival in California, I was invited to teach at Cal State Dominguez Hills Africana Studies Department, and by the grace of God, was finally able to resign from the YMCA! #TrustTheProcess


September of 2015 was even crazier in relationship to the process! As the beginning of the quarter started at both CSUDH & Pacific Oaks, I wrote Dashikis and Face Paint: Decolonizing The African Cultural Line. This essay was so popular, it became the top post in the country on Huffington Post Black Voices. And graciously, because of that essay, I was then invited for an  interview on Philadelphia's 900AM WURD. #TrustTheProcess

WURDFM Radio Interview - September


In October, I hit more of a stride regarding my process. Inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates' Book Between The World and Me and the classes I was teaching,I decided to create a book club for Black millennials called #BarnesAndNobleAndChill.


Then, I was randomly was named a Herb Carter & Yvonne Braithwaite-Burke Distinguished Lecturer of CSUDH, where I gave the first public lecture of my career, On Dashikis and Face Paint: Decolonizing the African Cultural Line, based on my article.#TrustTheProcess


November was even more turnt! Inspired from reading and teaching about Harold Cruse and pluralism in my classes, I decided to challenge myself to model economic solidarity in my community. So, after a discussion with my  wonderful girlfriend,  Makiah, we decided to create a list to support Black businesses in Los Angeles: 15 Black Businesses for Black Friday in L.A.


Because of that list, I was invited for an interview in the The Wave newspaper regarding the power of Black businesses. #TrustTheProcess


As the year came to a close, I  decided that addition work was needed to further advance Black culture in LA. After approaching the Executive Director of CAAM, I created the museum's first Millennial Advisory Council. 


While visiting the memorial for Nicholas Robertson,  a young man who was senselessly murdered by the LA County Sheriff's in Lynwood, I was interviewed by the New York Times regarding #BlackLivesMatter and the unjust treatment of Black people by the Los Angeles Police Department. And last but not least, I was interviewed by 2Urban Girls  regarding my thoughts on the plight of minority students in higher education. #TrustTheProcess

In Conclusion....

2015 has been quite the year. Not only did I find growth in trusting the process, I found strength. This year was not easy, but it was worth it and I've learned significant lessons along the way. For all those who find themselves in the middle of a difficult process, I encourage you to keep trusting and never give up!

If this was 2015, I can't imagine what the process has for me in 2016!


15 Black Businesses for Black Friday in L.A.!

Let's put the Black back in Black Friday! 


Black Friday is here and we're all looking for great gifts for our loved ones. If you're looking to spend some of your hard-earned dollars with black-owned businesses this Friday, we've got you covered!

I've compiled a list of amazing businesses in Los Angeles, all run by Black entrepreneurs. You can buy everything from jewelry to natural beauty products to a captivating photo shoot session. Check them out below.

Gifts & Books


Dual-purpose tea light/tea storage tins at Cultural Interiors West.

  1. Cultural Interiors West
  2. Eso Won Bookstore
  3. Shades of Africa



Green Grotto Juice Bar has an assortment of the best juices in L.A!

  1. Green Grotto Juice Bar
  2. Pips on Labrea Restaurant
  3. Simply Wholesome
  4. Stuff I Eat (Vegan Cuisine)

Desserts & Treats


Southern Girl Desserts brings a taste of southern hospitality and a taste of home to the West Coast.

  1. Southern Girl Desserts
  2. Cobblers, Cakes, and Kream
  3. Bonnie B Bakery

Black Beauty


Whether they are faux-locs or senegalese twists, get your hair "did" at Mahogany's Hair Revolution.

  1. Mahogany Hair Revolution
  2. Kyra’s Shea Medleys

Dry Cleaners

  1. Bowers & Sons Cleaners



Seeking beautiful wedding photos? Enjoy Morgan Raquel's beautiful photos of Black love here.

  1. Morgan Raquel Photography
  2. Rhoda’s Best Spot (Custom Wedding Brooms)

Did we miss something? If you know of any Black-owned businesses in Los Angeles, let us know in the comments.

This list was compiled by The Woke Folk. 

Between the World and Me: A Conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates at CAAM

On October 30, 2015, the California African American Museum hosted a book signing with Ta-Nehisi Coates, made possible by Eso Won Books. The atmosphere was electric, as attendees waited eagerly to hear Ta-Nehisi Coates share his insight and wisdom.

As a journalist and memoirist, Ta-Nehisi Coates brings personal reflection and historical scholarship to bear on America’s most contested issues. Writing without shallow polemic and in a measured style, Coates addresses complex and challenging issues, such as racial identity, systemic racial bias, and urban policing. In a seamless balance, he intertwines the present with historical analysis in order to illustrate how the implications of the past are still affecting people today.

Ta-Nehisi’s work recently granted him the MacArthur Genius Award and his latest book, Between the World and Me, is a New York Times Bestseller. Needless to say, the Los Angeles community came out in in full force to see the man of the hour in action and to revel in the ambiance of CAAM's draping exhibits and positive vibes.

During his talk, Ta-Nehisi raised some very thought-provoking ideas, of which were his embellishments on the concepts of race in America. He also expressed a disdain for being labeled the “Voice of Black America,” and outlined the irony of feeling American for the first time in Paris, France.

In Between the World And Me, Coates repeatedly stressed the significance of Howard University––which he refers to as The Mecca. He beautifully describes it as the bedrock of the Black experience where he saw the breadth and depth of the Black experience. These sentiments were ever present in his talk at CAAM, as he discussed the influence of his father, Paul Coates, and the importance of Black institutions. Ta-Nehisi explained that had it not been for his father’s publishing house, his wouldn’t have had the foundation that eventually led to his historic career as a writer. “Black institutions are very important for us,” said Ta-Nehisi Coates. Those words reverberated as it parallels the very direction in which CAAM is headed.

The California African American Museum, a cultural landmark, is currently on the rise, as it seeks to reimagine ways to serve the Black community. Recently, CAAM and the State Board of Directors appointed a new Executive DIrector, George Davis. As the museum navigates this transition, events like these are great for engaging new audiences. Hours before the event started, people started lining up to gain entrance into the museum. I spoke to a few people as they waited outside.

Tyler and Shanel Perry, a young couple from Orange County, said that they had been reading Ta-Nehisi Coates for several years and made plans to attend as soon as they heard about it. When asked about the importance of CAAM to the community, Tyler stated that, “the location of CAAM is very important. I didn’t know this, but more than half of those who founded Los Angeles were of African descent. There’s this deep history that all people should be aware of.”

Caroline Vera, a graduate student at UCLA, first learned of Ta-Nehisi Coates via social media. After reading Between The World and Me,she believed that his voice was important to larger discussions of race. When asked about why CAAM is so important to the South Los Angeles community she asserted that, “We need our youth up in here!”


With new leadership and a renewed commitment to the youth, CAAM is in prime position for growth and expansion. With events like the Ta-Nehisi Coates book signing and discussion, CAAM is sure to attract a range of people from across Los Angeles to experience all of the enriching exhibits that it has to offer.

For more photos of the event, see the gallery below..

All photos taken by Makiah Green and Tyree Boyd-Pates.

#TEDxCrenshaw 2015 | A Recap

On October 24, 2015, the Crenshaw Community hosted the inaugural TEDxCrenshaw,made possible by lead organizer Zaneta Smith. The atmosphere was lively and fun, as attendees came together over a love of their community and engaging new and innovative ideas.

TEDxCrenshaw was an independently organized TED-like event comprised of passionate volunteers who were dedicated to ideas worth spreading.

The theme behind TEDXCrenshaw was “Changes.” According to the organizers, they believe that change challenges us to question the old assumptions, stimulates us to explore new possibilities, and encourages us to make positive and impactful decisions that affect our lives and the future of our community. And TEDxCrenshaw was the was event to commemorate that.

The convening saw nearly 100 people from the Crenshaw community come out to learn and engage in conversation.Throughout the day, people showed up in droves to support local speakers and innovators. The attendees had much to say about the significance of the event.

Koree Yancy and Shinquell Green, two of the attendees, said that this event was very significant. They both heard of the event on Facebook and knew that they had to attend. Shinquell mentioned that she felt empowered by the event. Koree stated that it was very refreshing to be around like-minded people who want the same thing. They both agreed that unity is just what the South LA community needs and that TEDxCrenshaw was a step in the right direction.

Another great set of attendees came in the form of married couple Ronnie and Cree Craig, South LA natives who work in education. They both emphasized how grateful they were that education was a priority at TEDxCrenshaw. When asked what changes they felt need to be addressed in South LA, they both agreed that the solutions were, "in hope and unity” –– things they felt TedXCrenshaw exemplified, especially in the speakers.


Jody Armour, a law professor at the USC Gould School of Law, delivered a speech entitled Black Hearts in White Minds: Race, Crime, and Redemption.” In his thought-provoking speech, he discussed the need for the abolishment of respectability politics in the Black community.

Another stand out speaker was art dealer and owner of Leimert Park’s Papillion, Michelle Papillion. Her talk on the “The Art of Doing Good” was a great discussion on following your passions and the power of believing in––a message that resonated with many in the audience. Another notable speaker was Los Angeles born and bred Hip-Hop artist and CEO, Dom Kennedy.

Kennedy’s talk was entitled the “The Time is Now.” In it, he described his experiences growing up in South Los Angeles and offered advice to the youth. He and the other speakers really set the bar high and left the audience clamoring for more. As I glanced across the auditorium, I could tell that everyone was becoming more and more inspired with each speech. By the time it came to an end, everyone looked content and eager to apply what they had learned.

At the close of the event TEDxCrenshaw organizer, Zaneta Smith, expressed her appreciation for everyone as she mentioned that the event was “meant to spark change.” Everyone felt the result of that spark and looked more inspired than they did upon arriving. As everyone waved goodbye, the organizers volunteers vowed to do everything in their power to bring back this marvelous event to the Crenshaw community.


Enjoy more photos of the day below.

Shutting Down City Hall: Kayla Ingram and the #TheBaltimore16 | The Tikisa Series

Welcome to #TheWokeFolk!

In this months fist installment of The Tikisa Series, we are honored to highlight Baltimore activist Kayla Ingram. Kayla Ingram is a M.A. Social Design Candidate at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD, and affiliate of the grass roots organization Baltimore Bloc.

In a exclusive interview with, Kayla shares the motivation behind City Bloc's student-led direct action at City Hall in Baltimore, her experience being arrested alongside her peers, the growing movement for Black Lives in Baltimore, and how, ultimately, her faith is what inspires her to continue to protest. Read her riveting story below!

Hi Kayla, give us some background about who you are:

My name is Kayla Joy Ingram. I am a M.A. Social Design Candidate at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. I am also an affiliate and advocate of Baltimore Bloc.

What inspired the decision to shut down City Hall and your desire to participate in something so audacious?

This action was inspired and led by Makayla Gilliam-Price, a student at Baltimore City College and founding member of City Block, which is the youth (but equally awe-inspiring) version of the grassroots collective, Baltimore Bloc.

Upon moving back to the country after a year-stint in Central America, my burden for my people grew immensely as I became conscious of the systemic bondage that plagues us. As my passion for Christ grew I realized that I serve an audacious God who requires me to live the Gospel out in tangible ways. For me, this action and any other action that I will be involved in will ultimately give way to the poor feeling love, the oppressed experiencing liberation, and the broken healed.

How would you describe the social climate of Baltimore right now? Has relations changed/ strained between the community and police since the death of Freddie Gray?

Since the death of Freddie Gray, the social climate in my city has remained stagnant. The uprising still continues because the toxic relationships between the community, activists, and the Baltimore City Police Department has remained the same in lieu of Freddie Gray’s death.

Can you describe the first several hours of the action being inside of Baltimore’s City Hall?

For the first several hours of the action (occupying city hall after the hearing), we were very hopeful. We were told that we would get what we came for–an open conversation with Commissioner Kevin Davis, where we could discuss our “rules of engagement” and our three demands. So, naturally, we waited and the opportunity to engage in conversation with him never came. We tweeted and flooded our social media accounts in hopes that our live tweeting and periscope streams would not only keep the public in the know, but would also keep the BPD and the other powers at play responsible for their direct and indirect actions.

After several hours, the authorities decided to close off all access to food, restrooms, and electricity? When you noticed this, what was the response?

Once we knew that they weren’t allowing us access to fundamental human needs and electricity we continued to grow closer in community. We had a poetry slam, expressing our qualms, got to know one another and even took turns napping as we anticipated occupying City Hall as long as it took for our voices to be heard.


Can you recall those moments as police officers were approaching you with zip ties to arrest you. What were you all chanting?

We were not only physically linked arm-in-arm, but we all were united on one mind and one accord. We chanted Assata Shakur, reminding ourselves of our commitment to fight for our liberation and that we had nothing to lose but the systemic chains that bind us. As the police approached, we banned more tightly together declaring to the BDP and all who watched, “United we stand, divided we fall.” And we did just that. We stood united until the end and had to forcefully be divided.

Describe how you felt when you were put in the back of a police van and later arrived to the holding area.

This was a time a reflection for me. As I tried to maneuver my tightly cuffed hands, I couldn’t help but to take in my surroundings. The dried droplets of splattered, dried blood on the ceiling and door of my paddy wagon caused my mind to race and I couldn’t help but wonder whose blood it was. I anxiously counted each detained body as it took well over an hour and a half for everyone to come outside of city hall.

Were you ever struck with any fear or trepidation about the sit-in?

I was never fearful for my own safety.

...What was it like being in jail for nearly 24 hours? 

Everything about Central Bookings is cold. For the nearly hour-long wait, some of my fellow activists stood outside to the dealings with personnel inside. From the time we arrived we were told that our sit-in flustered city officials, the BPD and jail employees alike. Having been disconnected from social media for many hours we had little knowledge of how much traction our action received. We moved from cell to cell. The process to see one commissioner is daunting. We had to see two. I ate enough mystery bologna meat to last me a lifetime. Exhaustion and thirst for water that didn’t come out of the same system as our silver communal toilet were recurring thoughts. It was an emotional rollercoaster. There were times of laughter as we interacted with some of our fellow inmates who told us their life stories and applauded us for our bravery. There were times of sadness as we worried about the wellbeing of our brothers who were across the hall and Makayla (the leader of the action), who was the only arrested female minor and alone.

I eventually was left alone for hours as all of my other counterparts and cell mates were released. I spent the remaining few hours with my eyes closed singing praise and worship songs. As I waited for my second commissioner hearing, the guards would walk by and ask me if I was Kayla Ingram and laugh. One eventually told me that their phone lines were blowing up with requests and demands that I be released. Not only that, but a crowd of familiar faces had gathered outside of Central Bookings cheering and chanting in solidarity.

As a millennial, what are your feelings about this youth-led movement? Do you think it’s important for other young people get involved with the movement for Black Lives?

This movement led by us is imperative. If we look at history, youth have been at the forefront of leading the charge for social justice. Youth involvement is not only important, but necessary for sustainable change.

What does #BlackLivesMatter mean to you?

Black lives matter essentially means that I matter. My predecessors, the people I am passionate about, and the people that the majority deem as unlovely are vital fibers to the fabric of our communities and our world.From this experience, I am now certain that our voices have validity and have earth-shattering potential to create platforms for change. [And] Until there is sustainable change, I will not be silent and I will act.

What words do you have for other Black millennials who are living inside this historic moment beside you?

Now is the time to rewrite our history. Pick up a pen and be relentless in creating the change you want to see.

Ase! We salute you and wish you nothing the best. #Tikisa

For more about Kayla and her activism follow her on Twiitter.


Uptown Latin Jazz & Blues Fest '15 | Recap

On August 23, 2015, North Long Beach hosted its 4th Annual Uptown Latin Jazz & Blues Festival, made possible by Long Beach City Councilmember Rex Richardson. The atmosphere was lively and fun, as attendees bonded over a love of music and enjoyed live entertainment.

The Uptown Latin Jazz & Blues Fest brought the entire community out in full force. Throughout the day, people showed up in droves to support local vendors and artists who had much to say about the significance of the event.

One of the most stand-out performers was The Brown Suede Experience  & Tiara Monet, a four year-old band based in Long Beach. When asked what kind of advice they would provide to young artists who hope to be in their position one day, they responded with, “Don’t limit yourself. You are a unique individual and you have something to bring to the table.” They also had encouraging words for Rex Richardson. “Without Rex, this would be an empty park. Thank you for giving us a platform to showcase our skills.”

The next thrilling performance came from Box Car 7, a seven-piece show band from Southern California. Scott Griffith, the lead singer, delivered an engaging set of riveting jams that brought the crowd to their feet. The dynamic group came together 5 years after noticing that there was a void in the Long Beach music scene. Wanting to provide “that big wall of sound” to the people, Box Car 7 has performed at the Uptown Jazz Fest for the last 4 years since its inaugural year. In appreciation for their continued involvement, Rex Richardson awarded them with the Long Beach City Commemoration.


Soon after, the following act forced everyone to hit the dance floor: DW3. DW3, an R&B, funk and contemporary urban jazz powerhouse, came to give everyone in Houghton park a show. They delivered flawless mash-ups ranging from Frankie Beverly & Maze to Jidenna’s Classic Man and left the audience begging for more. Also a veteran Jazz Fest performer, DW3’s Eric Mondragon was grateful to Rex for putting this on and is looking forward to playing next year. For their contributions, they also received a certificate of recognition from Long Beach City and Rex Richardson!

The host for the day, Nautica De la Cruz, a radio personality from KJLH (102.3), came out to North Long Beach to show some love. She said that she loves the way that communities are being rebuilt throughout Long Beach and appreciates how events like the Uptown Jazz Fest uplift the spirits of the people. She mentioned that this year’s event was a huge success and predicted that the fifth annual is going to be even bigger.

Tito Puente Jr., the headliner of the event who flew all the way from Miami, is the son of legendary Mambo musician, Tito Puente. He carried on his father's legacy by presenting much of his father's repertoire through his performances and recordings. Tito Puente Jr. lured everyone to the dance floor to perform their best mambo.

The 4th Annual Uptown Latin Jazz & Blues Festival was a huge success. After a full day of dancing, music, and fun, Rex Richardson waved everyone goodbye and vowed to do everything in his power to bring back this marvelous event to the city of Long Beach.

Check out a FULL Storify of the whole day here of the day’s best tweets.

All photos were taken by Makiah Green.


Selma at CAAM In LA


11800466_1033461986678941_3724557572329430917_n On August 9th 2015, the California African American Museum hosted its monthly Sunday cultural experience, Target Sundays. An event that brings in community members, contemporary artists, cultural historians, activists, and leaders to celebrate the diversity and achievements of the African Diaspora.

This month, CAAM offered a FREE screening of Ava DuVernay's Oscar award-winning film, Selma Movie. The atmosphere was live and joyous over the a love of art, culture, and live entertainment.


At the event I took the initiative to interview several Los Angeles community members about their thoughts on the movie Selma, #BlackLivesMatter, the effectiveness of marches and protests, and ultimately, their definitions of justice.


Not only did we have an amazing time under the stars, we carved out time to acknowledge the ones who've paved the way for us to be here. If you didn't make it out this month, come on out next time.  It's sure to be a wonderful time with family and friend that you won't likely want to miss!

THANKS AGAIN to Target and the California African American Museum for such a wonderful event!

 All photos + video were taken by Makiah Green.

cropped-cropped-p1130772Tyree Boyd-Pates is a man on a mission. As a writer, he aspires to expound on Black culture from a millennial perspective and unite and empower communities through journalism and social media. A Master’s in African American Studies, he also is the creator of#TheCut, a brand new podcast! You can follow him on Twitter: @Tyreebp.

Post-Rachel: 5 Things Rachel Dolezal Taught Us About Race | List

Post-Rachel: 5 Things Rachel Dolezal Taught Us About Race | List

Aside from ‪Rachel Dolezal’s hair deserving a BET award for being so on point, I am still disturbed by this bizarre story. I’m not particularly disturbed at her high levels of delusion (though, it would be valid), but moreso of how delicate our definition of race is in 2015.

The Theology of Black Unrest

In the wake of the budding unrest in Baltimore, Ferguson, and the terrorist attack at Emmanuel AME, Black Christians are trying to comprehend how Christianity informs their forms of resistance. While some have dismissed the faith altogether, others are attempting to fit their radical ideologies within the confines of their faith. This dichotomy is emblematic of a double consciousness that can be paralyzing in moments of social unrest. But in order to reconcile our Blackness with Christianity, we must reexamine the attributes of God, reconsider the role of the church, and reclaim the Gospel.

In seeking to qualify God and his attributes, it is imperative that we situate God alongside us in our distresses along our quest of liberation. Much like the Hebrews marching out of Egypt from Pharaoh, Black people need to situate God in their exodus from racism.

To do so, we must strip Jesus of his whiteness and center Him in his otherness and marginalization. Instead of seeing God as a tyrant, we must reimagine Him as a God who is completely given to the notion of grace and a love that transcends human performance. Instead of requiring perfect adherence to the law, the true God extends unmerited exchanges of love and forgiveness. And the true Jesus is one who loves and forgives unconditionally, consistently empathizing with those on the fringes.

The Black soul recognizes that bigotry was not a part of the creation story, nor was it outlined in the attributes of God himself, but is still confronted with the absolute of it’s existence. But the Black soul rejects this false gospel. Any gospel with tinges of tyranny and exclusion could never proselytize this soul. In the interim, the Black soul, due to this false gospel of intolerance, attaches itself to the evidence of any faith at all, which often manifests as unrest. This unrest is indicative of the symbolic groaning of all creation—the same groaning outlined in Romans 8:22-24. A day where Black souls long for our bodies to be released from sin, suffering, and societal oppression.

In the climate of Black unrest, the Black soul is confronted with the perceived sinfulness of his/her resistance. In these moments, the Black Christian is often paralyzed, unsure of where their allegiance lies. They can either defend their blackness against the onslaught of systemic aggression, or defend their Christianity by remaining patient and complacent in their own oppression as they await spiritual deliverance.

In the same way that self-righteous Christians attempt to make amends for their moral indiscretions, the Black soul is constantly attempting to atone for the sin of his predicament - but to no avail. Unaware of the fact that the quandary of his social position is not of his own doing, he tries to satisfy the demands of white supremacy through respectability. But even after integrating, assimilating, and whitewashing, it still doesn’t remedy his distress. The sin of his skin is ever-present, unyielding to his efforts.

This devotion to respectability is so deep that it has driven some to believe that Black bodies are to be offered up as sacrifices to a fictive white supremacist, Old Testament God. From Emmitt Till to Renisha McBride, we consider these figures as covenantal lambs. But no Black lamb will ever be without blemish in the eyes of white America due to the perceived sinfulness of black skin. From Michael Brown to Rekia Boyd, these bodies are offered in hopes that they will satisfy a false god built in the image of white greed, who has a never-ending appetite for Black Death. But unlike the fabricated god of white supremacy and political repression, the real God is eternally satisfied with the sacrifice that Jesus made once and for all.

The true God is a divine figure void of the trappings of racial bias, exclusion, and an insatiable desire for destruction and demise. God, personified in his Hebrewness through the life and death of Jesus, was sent to proclaim a simple and radical message that has the power to release captives, heal the blind, and free the oppressed. However, today, that Gospel message remains largely unemployed to address societal unrest in spiritually productive ways.

In an attempt to maintain the status quo, the church has exalted white supremacist values over the true message of the gospel. Their modern interpretation of the gospel misses the opportunity to cast down the systemic apathy responsible for the Black soul’s unrest. To do so would invalidate the politics of respectability that society places on Black people in times of turmoil. And instead of encouraging righteous indignation, the church often uses religion to quell rebellion and reasonable outrage.

The indignation that should be directed towards the infrastructures of white Christian indifference is instead inverted. In the same way that victims are blamed for the crimes committed against them, the poor in spirit are met with more rules and regulations rather than support. These pillars, erected by white privilege, are so lofty that they shut out those on the margins and unwittingly cooperate with racial exclusion. Until there is an adequate gospel response to Black unrest, this contention will persist and religion will be of no utility to us.

As Baldwin wrote in The Fire Next Time, “If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.” I assert the same. I believe that God can indeed make us larger, freer, and more loving; it is our current conception of Him that has rendered Him null and void. God, in light of the work of Jesus, still situates Himself alongside the oppressed and afflicted. But until we reclaim the Gospel and contextualize the unrest that surrounds us theologically, historically, and spiritually, God will be of no use to Black people—or anyone else for that matter.

My (Brief) Thoughts on Walter Scott!



There was something extremely visceral about the video of  Walter Scott being gunned down with 8 bullets. A video, with the same visceral quality that one had witnessing Michael Brown lay on the ground for 4.5 hours or watching Eric Garner gasp for air. Visceral. Visceral. Visceral.

However, for many African Americans, this incident was too visceral. Viscerally triggering something devastatingly instinctive. An instinct, I sense, so situated in survival, that it's only credit to fame is a acute awareness of systemic endangerment. Presentiment, almost.

African American men (women and children) - whether acknowledged or not - are in jeopardy inside of this society; from infancy to eldership. Their deaths: expected; Their success: mitigated - without contrition or legitimacy. Constantly being forced - even beyond the grave - to explain their existence; almost always searing the conscience. And everyone aware of  the Black condition in America is cognizant of it.

There's an implicit fatigue. An unexpressed exhaustion. An unutterable desire for absolution. A desire for miraculous exoneration.  An exoneration from a menacing white gaze that constantly threatens black lives  - especially when it relates to power and authority.

Power, in relation to the uncompromising expectation that Blacks must submit. Authority, when it comes to carrying out unlawful punishments on those who decide to leave that gaze - without remorse. It's this white gaze - and any deviation from it - is where we find Walter Scott's body lying: lifeless and handcuffed. That's the kind of exoneration Black people are seeking reprieve from. Reprieve from a state sanctioned gaze that seemingly is snuffing out Black men, women, and children routinely.

When will that occur? I'm unsure. I just know that the Earth (and its hearts) are groaning for change- at least, I know I am.

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On Mo’ne, SAE, & The Burden of Black Forgiveness


Mo’ne Davis, an All-American little league pitcher was called a “slut” by a White male college student after receiving a movie deal from Disney. In equally outrageous news, SAE chant leader, Levi Pettit, called a press conference to collect support from the Black community in Oklahoma after leading a rendition of a colonial lynching song.

Although both incidents were commenced by white male students, both incidents became black people’s responsibility, as we were left to bear the burden of forgiveness.

Is it me, or is anyone else frustrated that there is an implicit expectation on Black people to absolve the guilt and racist behavior of white people?

We recently witnessed Mo’ne Davis, a 13-year-old black girl, express maturity in her magnanimous approach to forgive despite being called a whore by an adult. And instead of seeking any kind of retribution, Mo’ne turned the other cheek – going so far as to request that the college student be reinstated to his sports team. And though this act of forgiveness was a very noble thing to do, I’m frustrated by the implicit cost she had to pay for it.

After forgiving the man who called her a slut, many on social media celebrated Mo’ne for being a “class act.” And in fact she was, and is. But to measure her character based on her capacity to forgive an act of racism was - and is - still erroneous.

The media labeling Mo'ne a 'class act' is double-pronged. In addition to dismissing the accountability necessary for his actions, it normalizes Mo'ne's response to racism and sexism, and consequently deems more confrontational methods as illegitimate.

By not confronting his racism and sexism, Mo’ne’s actions suggest that it is appropriate for people to say and do whatever they want. It insinuates that Black men, women, and children are meant to carry the burden of inflammatory claims, and suggests that people aren't exemplifying classy behavior when they decide to challenge it publicly.

The public’s celebration of Mo’ne was not about her integrity on the field, but her inadvertent compliance with oppression. She, having been the victim, forfeited her right to be outraged because she believed his comments were isolated, when in fact they are a part of a larger system. A system that perpetually demands black people to forgive their oppressors – even in the absence of accountability.

An all too familiar scene - almost identical to SAE's Levi Pettit's Press conference.

Similarly, instead of placing the burden of correction on SAE’s Levi Pettit, it fell on the Black Oklahomans he targeted in the video , who, ironically, flanked to his side during his poor excuse of a press conference.

Pettit's apology and press conference was a complete farce and showed no real signs of remorse or empathy that would lead me to believe that Pettit actually gets it. When you listen to the video, you hear traces of indignation and apathy. None of it confirming that he understands the ramifications of his actions – just that he’s sorry he got caught. *Cue further frustration*

I am frustrated because I did not watch Pettit apologize for himself or his actions. Instead, I watched Black community leaders apologizing for Pettit.

Black community leaders and clergy, in routine fashion, came together to cape for the indiscretions of dominant culture instead of being bold enough to hold it accountable. To see those leaders standing behind him made me sick because it was an obvious (and strategic) publicity stunt. And though the individuals behind him didn't actually speak during the conference, their silence verified their buy-in.

But why did they feel so compelled to stand behind someone who chanted his preference of seeing their sons hung from a tree as opposed to joining his fraternity? And what kind of message does it send out to OU's Black student population? And to the larger community? That one should feel inclined to forgive those who desire to kill you, because you'd want the same done for you? Frankly, I 'm beginning to think so.

That's why I pose this very simple hypothetical to those Black Oklahoman leaders that stood behind Pettit: If the shoe was on the other foot, and their son had sung a similarly racist and hate-filled chant directed towards White students, would Levi Pettit’s father be standing in solidarity with one of their Black sons? 

Quite simply, in this society, even when White people are to blame for racial indiscretion, Black people are always expected to absolve the crime, its guilt, and the repercussions of the actions in a timely fashion. It is for this reason that the media was so quick to celebrate Mo’ne Davis’ willingness to forgive. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, they then attempted to measure her character based on her decision to excuse racist and sexist behavior.

But contrary to popular belief, Black people are not responsible for carrying the burden of white remorse. We are no one’s moral mules and neither are we anyone’s ethical scapegoats. We are more than that. Much more. Black people are autonomous and responsible for none other than themselves and deserve to operate as such. And gratefully, people of color are starting to redefine morality on their own terms and are casting off the burden of forgiveness, one highly publicized racist incident at a time.

cropped-cropped-p1130772Tyree Boyd-Pates is a man on a mission. As a writer, he aspires to expound on Black culture from a millennial perspective and unite and empower communities through journalism and social media. A Master’s in African American Studies, he also is the creator of #TheCut, a brand new podcast! You can follow him on Twitter: @Tyreebp.

National Coffee Day | #TrustTheProcess | Ep. 2


...In this episode of #TrustTheProcess, My Grandma and I travel to our local Starbucks for our usual Coffee date. While there, she imparts her lovely wisdom on just why I should just 'trust the process'.

#TrustTheProcess Ep. 1


Follow a day in the life w/ Tyree!

In this episode (the first of many ) I travel across Los Angeles on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Both, to stop in to serve at my local Church and meet up with friends along the way.  I'm doing  this new series, to show you guys just how I 'Trust the process' after Grad School.

Disclaimer: It's pretty EPIC!


Why I Won't Step Back into Walmart: John Crawford & The Mess America Made


“Somebody’s going to have to explain to me how anybody goes into Walmart and ends up dead,” said John Crawford Jr., the dead man’s father.

Walmart's motto is Save Money, Live Better. However, what happens when you go in to do so and are killed in the process?

In what seems to be a compounding issue in the U.S., here we find another case completely reflective of the justice system we so proudly espouse. What we've found is a recent inductee into the pantheon of Black male lives taken by police officers without any form of recompense.

News outlets reported today that the Beaver Creek Ohio Police officer responsible for the slaying of John Crawford (22) would go without indictment by the Ohio Grand Jury. He was originally charged for murder, reckless homicide, and negligent homicide. According to the law enforcement’s version of events, Crawford failed to drop the weapon when ordered, a claim that his lawyers dispute.

Note: this is third time in five years police in this county have fatally shot someone. None have faced charges.

Having seen the surveillance video of Crawford being executed by the Beaver Creek Police officer, I can see why it was withheld for so long. It was completely nonsensical. I was left with questions:

  1. How does one deserve this?
  2. Where was the miscommunication?
  3. Isn't Ohio an Open carry state?
  4. Could this happen at my Walmart?

After this ordeal, I’ve come to the conclusion that the U.S. is a lot like Walmart. While it’s one of the leaders in bargains and products, its aisles are in desperate need of repair.

Walmart, like the U.S, doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to race and class. They both have a history of cluttered aisles, disheveled shelves, and an inordinate amount of aisle spills. In this case, it’s John Crawford’s blood that has been spilled and left for us to mop up.

If we want to see any change in this Walmart that we live in we must require more from those who work for it. Moreover, those who continue to let these spills happen while they are on the clock create even more of an issue. They enable other people to refuse to acknowledge that the messes we've all been stepping over for generations.

The Corner: Episode 11| Nommo /Spoken Word


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When words collide!

Listen to this past week's show with one of Temple's finest spoken word artist's, AADS Doctoral Student, Christopher Roberts! Listen here to him blaze the Mic..

" ...Whips and Chains, Whips AND Chains..." 

The Corner: Ep. 10| What's The Word?!


Ep.10 was AWESOME! Poetry, lovely discussion and my favorite cuts.. I could get used to this. ;)

..We are the CORNER; the intersection of two points.

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An Invite from the White House...

.. So what would you do if I told you I got past White House clearance and was 60 feet away from the President of the free world?


Well, that's sort of how it went...


I must admit, when the President first entered the room there seemed to be an electricity that spanned across the auditorium as a number of dignitaries entered and sat down quickly.

Obama went into detail about his passion for My Brother's Keeper initiative and the broadening of the Health Care system. The President also went into great detail about Voter ID laws and how access to the ballot is inextricably bound to the Civil Rights Act that we are currently commemorating its 50th year.

Obama stated that "The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago,". Most of the President's critique were against his Republican contemporaries and their attempts to set further restrictions against voters, some of which only reflect the bi-partisan interests.

However, against such restrictions, Obama encouraged everyone in the room that they still have a duty to participate. Without participation, "we give our power away" by becoming discouraged and staying home on Election Day.

Go out there and vote. You can make a change. You do have the power - Barack Obama


"Go out there and vote. You can make a change. You do have the power," he said. "I've had my last election, but I need you to make sure that the changes that we started continue for decades to come."

These remarks were certainly powerful and inspiring.

What an amazing experience covering the 44th President of the United States of America.


The Corner: Episode 8 | What's Love got to do with It?

..Did you miss The Corner's show last week. Don't worry we gotcha!

On the show we discussed:

- A World premiere of the show's new Intro
- A New Segment with Melanie called "Mel Tells"
- What is Love?
- & Our April Def Poetry Jam

We are #TheCorner

The Corner: Episode 7| New and Improved

..Did you miss "The Corner" yesterday?

..Don't worry, we gotcha! We had a fiery show with a lot of great dialogue, loud arguments, and lots of jokes. We discussed:

- TU Alerts - An interview with #RenewTU; Temple's newest TSG candidates - Nick Canonn's Caucasian conversion - & Kobe Bryant's controversial Trayvon Martin comments

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We are #TheCorner 📻