My review of Paris

From May 23, 2017, until June 4, 2017, I was in Paris France. It was my second time ever outside the United States( The only other country I’ve been to was Japan) and my first time in France. I didn’t really have any expectation before I came to France. I decided to come to Paris as a vacation. The reason I choose Paris is that for the past year I’ve been teaching myself French. So I thought to myself France would probably be the best place to get some practice in. So here goes my review of the entire trip(from of course my own personal opinion)

Paris I found to be pretty boring and really expensive to the sum of my experience there. The entire city looks virtually the same with its cliche three to four story buildings. I found myself sometimes in new parts of the city wondering to myself “if I’ve been here before”. You can walk the city for hours yet see the same old canals and cobbled streets. Now I’m from New York City and I’m used to experiencing total different scenery after a couple hours of walking. In New York, neighborhoods can look totally different from each other and have a totally different vibe altogether. This is not true of Paris where the entire city can be pretty uniform in both scenery and vibe.

Now the second strife I had with paris is how extremely expensive it was(particularly the food). In Paris, there is a lot of bistros and one can commonly observers Parisians eating outside many of these bistros. I myself ate at some of these places and yes the food is good, but I soon found out bistros where the only places one could find good quality food (of course the exception is if you cook your own dinner). In New York if I was hungry and wanted to eat out on a budget I have a plethora of options, maybe I can go to the local deli and order a hero for four dollars or maybe go to a Chinese takeout and order meal for less than six dollars. This is not true of Paris where you will be hard pressed to find any fast food joints. I’ve seen about two McDonald(which were not as good as the McDonald’s in America in my opinion) there are no food trucks in Paris. The only option I found myself taking if I wanted to eat for cheap was to visit a supermarket and buy some refrigerated sandwich(which let me tell you aren’t really that good and doesn’t certainly doesn’t fill you up).

There are a ton of scamming gypsies all over Paris, they congregate by the tourist attraction, usually asking tourist if they would like to sign some form and then asking them for some Euros. Here’s one example, my second day I went to visit The world famous Musee d’Orsay(It contain the famous Van Gogh self-portrait) I was across the street from the museum when a woman who I thought was deaf(as she played the role) came up to me with some forms with a pledge to donate to some bogus institution for the deaf. I smiled and signed to her that I wasn’t interested in making any pledges. As I crossed the street I see here going up to two females and immediately conversing with them. I must tell you I was a little upset at this revelation of deceit. She had me perfectly fool that she was deaf and had me feeling a slight remorseful for her. I witness more gypsy scamming besides this such as an old gypsy woman asking children at a McDonald’s for food, the children proceeded to give her food, she smiled and took the food. I walked outside ten minutes later to find this woman with a bag full of bread( I guess that wasn’t enough to satiate her treacherous hunger). I also notice that virtually all the homeless in Paris are in fact gypsies and they can be seen sitting on cardboard(sometimes entire families including children) and begging for money.

Overall I believe Paris is overtly hyped up as this great and magnificent city. But hey I guess it all depends on what you’re looking for. Me.. myself I am more of a big city cosmopolitan kind of guy. I like to walk around a large city and be in awe like I am in New York and I was in Tokyo.

The argument on prisons

Recently I had had a few debates with several people about the relevancy of prisons. Whether or not prisons where an appropriate form of punishment in our modern times. The opposing view was that prisons did more harm than good, by further indoctrinating people into crime or that prisons permanently hinders people from ever fully entering mainstream society after they are released. Off course many people who hold an anti-prison viewpoint don’t give an alternative to prisons or when they do it’s a vague answer such as rehabilitation, without giving details on how this rehabilitation would be administered.

I am not at all condoning our justice system. There is certainly many ways in which it can be approved. It is particularly audacious that the United States has less than five percent of the global population but holds about twenty-five percent of its prison population. So I say the problem isn’t necessarily prisons, but the fact that we have too many people in prisons and that one particular ethnic group is overly represented among that prison population. 

I wholeheartedly believe that many offenses that warrant prison sentences today are unjust. Such as drug offenses, which on the surface is a victimless crime since it involves two consenting parties, the drug dealer and the purchaser of the drug. I also believe crimes like tax evasion and failure to pay child support shouldn’t warrant prison time since it does more bad than good by having society pay for the maintenance of offenders who essentially didn’t pay society in the first place, an unusual sense of justice if one truly thinks about it.

To run any modern society you need to establish a government with effective rule of law. The government must have some coercive power to make sure all it’s populace abide her laws. How do you deter people from engaging in crime? By establishing punitive retribution for anyone who breaks the law. The most popular form of such a retribution in all nations is a prison system. In prehistoric human societies, humans probably carried punishment on an offender in three ways. The first was in a form of payment to the offending party through cattle, tools, or involuntary servitude; second would be in exclusion from the clan or in other words being permanently banned from the group; third would have been death.

All three are used today in a modified form, the first through fines that one would pay( usually as tickets for a minor offense); The second would be imprisonment which is essentially separating someone from everyone else, and third (although not very common among industrialized nation) is the death penalty.

Many would argue that prison act as a conditioning for criminals, but has that to do with the Prisons are the innate conditions of the prisoner himself. Among people there are just bad apples, some people are naturally more aggressive; more impulsive; less able to use foresight in their decisions as compared to others, coupled this with unsavory environment leaves some prone to criminality, and of course leaves the rest of us with the difficult decision of the best way to deal with said crime.

Off course I am not arguing against any imposition of reform. I feel as if reform is important particularly in the case of minor offenders. But this should be available as an opposition for prisoners and not so much a requirement. First and foremost prisons are meant as punishment and should be seen as such, consequences are that best deterrent to ill behavior. Still, access to some reformatory programs would be good for both the inmate and society. Programs such as skill training or educational opportunity would help inmates reintegrate into mainstream society after being released from prison.

In point, in order to truly argue against prisons, you have come up with a system that both keeps society safe and can address how to reduce crime.

 

Dangers and misconceptions of masculinity among Black males

On an early bus ride to work one cold morning, I had a conversation with an old drunkard. The conversation began when he had made a remark of the book I was reading, which happened to be the “Souls of Black folk” by W.E.B Dubois. He remarked how I was reading a very important book, to paraphrase him 

“ The black man is lost…..the black man isn’t the gangsta…..the white man is the real gangsta….the black man is weak…you see how they emasculate the black by having him wear dresses and these kids think it’s cool…. The black woman doesn’t respect the black man(as he was saying this he pointed to two black female passengers who were in front of us)” He spoke on until his stop.

This brief conversation left an impression on me. Everything this drunkard old man said wasn’t nothing I haven’t particularly heard before spurted out particularly by older black men. I must say some aspects of his brief speech I actually agree on.

Chiefly that the black man is emasculated. But his emasculation has nothing to do with black men being depicted as being gay or wearing a dress but is because the black man in this country holds no power.  A brief definition of masculinity states “possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men”. This is, of course, a very broad definition leaving one to have many interpretations of this. But generally, masculinity is associated with power. Now let’s define power( in the noun sense). In a quick google search, I have came upon two definitions. First, “the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality”, second, “the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events”.

Is the black man in this country in possession of either definition. I am in particular interest of the second definition as it is potent to my argument. When asking yourself who are the most powerful people in the world what comes to mind. For most people, it might be a political leader or a business magnet, two groups that exempt the second definition to the fullest. Now consider your typical political or business leader, what else comes to mind? Generally men, who wear suits, that are well spoken, and who possess great intelligence. Men of these positions are not your general ideals of urban masculinity. They are generally not physically imposing or brash in their speech, but yet they hold considerable power in any modern society.

Now when you began to think of the race associated with these types of men it generally tends to be white (i.e Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Elon Musk) of course there are notable exceptions(Barack Obama, Jay-Z), but in general we see the men with all the real power in our society as white men.

In Urban culture masculinity is heavily associated with gangsterism( the exhibition of gangsta behavior,  promiscuity with many women, and the ability to murder other men with little remorse), This is something I have encountered many times myself as a black man who grew up in South Jamaica, Queens, NY. Your entire identity is based on not being deemed soft and earning the respect of your peers through the acts of violence. OF course, this isn’t exclusive among inner city blacks( I can think of Machismoism in Latin America as an outward example), but this is dangerously pervasive in the black community among black males.

I believe the contemporary understanding of what it mean to be a man in the black community leads to violence in the inner city, the sexual objectification of black women, and the pervasiveness of homophobia in the black community. I believe that as black men we need to question what it really means to be a man, and if that definition is holding us back from achieving true masculinity i.e power.

Social media and narcissism

As I scroll through my Instagram feed I can’t help but notice similar patterns appearing. Mainly people(particularly females) posting relentless selfies. It dawns on me then that Instagram was just a place for people to feel as if they are important as if a hundred million other people haven’t posted the same type of picture. I see nothing but pretty girl amassing tens of thousands sometimes million of followers for nothing other than being pretty. By the luck of a genetic lottery, you can have thousands of people all over the world follow and take an interest in your daily life.

It becomes as if some people live their lives for social media. Going on trips just to brag about where they went later on facebook. Going out to fancy restaurants just to take a picture of their meal. Posting how depressed they are to gain sympathy from their virtual friends. It becomes quite disgusting in many aspects. This has become such big business that people literally make a living from posting on social media. Companies will penny out a lot of many for kylie Jenner seventy million Instagram followers. So it becomes profitable for her to endlessly post pictures of the “glorious life” she lives, her famous friends, extravagant parties, trips to far away getaways, all make her extra richer.

Social media has become a place to feed upon essential human needs, first is to gossip and second is to satiate the feeling of boredom. We as human are naturally nosey and want to know what our neighbors are doing so we scroll through their news feed, pry into their photos, and see what friends we share. Second, in this passive digital time, we are constantly seeking an avenue to pass time by. As Heidegger pointed out boredom is the acknowledgment that time is passing, if your job is unstimulating you have your phone and scroll through  Instagram. But is social media the best way to learn from each other or the most constructive use of our free time? The answer to both these questions is probably no!

According to recent studies, prolong use of social media increases your chances of depression. Why is this? Because people feel their lives are inadequate compared to others they see on Instagram and facebook. But what they don’t realize is that people don’t show the “nitty gritty” side of their lives on facebook(unless of course to gain sympathy from a depressing post). People generally curate their lives on the internet.

I wonder constantly if people do this just to feel good about themselves. Those Brittany post a photo of herself in a bikini just to gain appraisal from her followers? Does John post about his recent promotion to gain flags of congratulations? These internet celebrities essentially do nothing but indirectly brag about how much better their lives are compared to everyone else, and people just passively feed into this virtual game of appraisement

I myself use social media and do fall trap to everything I bare onto this post. I have at times taken a hiatus from facebook and have generally felt much better for it. I only use Facebook or Instagram as a way to promote any of my endeavors. This being said there are legitimate benefits to social media, whether it be promoting a product or service, getting an important message out, or keeping in touch with far-away friends and relatives. The question is what are you using it for?

The Answer to the Great American Pandemic

A short film I made a couple of years ago. It wasn’t the best of quality, but I did try my best on it. The premises of the short, is a satire of the black male experience in the United States.

Black America is White America entertainment

Black America has become white America source of entertainment. At glancing a list of the richest African Americans, I noticed an alarming trend, here is a link to the list so you can see for yourself, “http://www.ranker.com/list/the-20-richest-african-americans/worlds-richest-people-lists

Have you figured it out? Basically with the exception of a few nearly everyone on the list are entertainers of some sort. Whether it be sport, music or film.

Now look at a list of the richest Americans in general, “http://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/top20/#3df0ffc3d8d5”, not one person is an entertainer, the list is made primarily of tech entrepreneurs, energy tycoons, and media moguls.

Black people have been “chucking and jiving” for white America since the minstrels of the 19th century. The only difference today is the market reach and the profitability. Many African Americans take great pride that black people have an influence on pop culture, but at what cost. Have black people become so ghettoized in how they aspire to be successful in this country.

Go to any urban school in this country and ask the typical black child what would he or she aspire to be, and the most popular answer is either a sports athlete or a rapper. You will be hard pressed to hear child aspire to be a tech entrepreneur or business mogul. Why do young black people have such a limited scope of career choices? The answer lies on what black youth see in the media. Media is very important in how people view themselves. Films, music, television, etc. informs us on how to think, how to behave, and how to view life. When you’re black you are particularly sensitive to media influence. This because as a minority you have limited exposure to representation that you can relate to, and when you do get that representation, it hold a lot sway on your thought process.

The worst of this is that black Americans don’t even fully profit from their talents, behind every multimillionaire black entertainer there is a much richer white person in the background profiting handsomely of black ingenuity. Yes, Michael Jordan became a billionaire from his signature sneaker, but Nike in return became a multi-billion dollar sportswear company with a near monopolistic hold in their industry. Yeah, rappers make millions of dollars from tours and single sales, but record companies make billions of dollars every year in licensing royalties.

Black America epitomizes cool in this country, and corporations gladly use us as marketing tools, finding an athlete to petals their sneakers, rappers to wear their clothing or appear in their soda commercials. I’m am not at all angry at anybody for profiting off their marketability, but I do just want to fully analyze the situation in terms of race in this country.

Us as black people need to do better for ourselves, we need to teach our children to have a diversity of aspiration. You have a lot better chance of becoming an oral surgeon or an electrical engineer than a rapper or an athlete. It vital for the future of Black America that our youth have realistic aspirations.

Why Black America need a conservative revolution!!!

I know many black people took the victory of Donald Trump very hard, but I would like to suggest maybe such a victory isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Black people in this country(certainly not all) are content on receiving government handouts. A Trump victory was seen as a sign of a reduction in public housing, food stamps, and Medicaid. My issue with this is how did so many black people become so reliant on the government for self-sufficiency.

The bottom line is that the government is not going to help black people with their issues, which are (but not limited to) high cases of violent crime in black communities, low educational achievement, a high incarceration rate, high illegitimate births, and high instances of poverty. All these can neither be solved by either Democrat or Republican party.

In the case of inadequate education, is it a system of bad funding in the school systems or a culture that prompts anti-intellectualism in the black community. What is a school but not just bricks and books, it’s the pupil and the quality of teachers that truly set the educational standard. The chief reason Asians do so exceptionally well in school is because of their collective attitude towards education.

In the case of black crime, when will individual accountability be taken into account. The same sob story that been going on for decades, of black men being forced to a life of crime because of lack of opportunity. My argument against this is was there even an attempt of many of these black men to make their own opportunity, by investing in themselves through education, setting up their own business, etc. In a predominantly black city of Detroit were African American make up 80% of the population, only 10% of the businesses are black own. Who’s at fault for this? Is it the opportunistic South Asian immigrant or the sluggishness of black entrepreneurs in these communities.Many black people complain about the inability of getting loans to set up businesses, but is it racism or lack of creditworthiness that many blacks are unable to attain loans.

Black American are currently caught up in a downward spiral. Black people in this country has one of the lowest median income of any racial group, currently standing at about 35,000$. There is absolutely no wealth being generated in swaths of black communities across this country. Constantly people complain about gentrification, but many time gentrification is the only way to invigorate these blighted communities with the investment and capital that is needed to improve these areas. Without urban renewal schemes these communities, Harlem, Brooklyn, the South Bronx would remain poor.

Let’s talk about housing projects and how it basically became a way to keep millions of people in concentrated intergenerational poverty. Many of the urban developmental programs can trace the history back to 1930s as a way to provide low-income citizen access to modern housing. What started out as a progressive housing policy became an urban-policy disaster from Cabrini Green to the South Bronx, thousands of public housing projects became infested with crime, poverty, almost any case of urban blight one can think of.
The solution for the Black American for his advancement is to as I proposed in the introductory paragraph is to stop relying on the government and start relying on himself, no more food stamp, no more public housing, no more government welfare. It’s quite simple, get educated(particularly in a marketable skill such as engineering, finance, and medicine), wait until you are married to have children, invest your money in stock and bonds instead of a pair of air Jordans. Bottom line, take responsibility for your own life!!!

The black men infatuation with the other

Black men more so than any other group of men holds an ‘aw’ for women outside their ethnic group. Now some would state I am making a bold statement and that I am generalizing all black men. But I would like to pose crucial points to prove my case and to also acknowledge that not all black men fetishize for different ethnic women(I include myself in this acknowledgement).

Let’s examine the media, one needs only to watch the typical hip-hop video and would be hard pressed to find a black woman who possesses dark skin, typical African feature, as well as natural hair. The male protagonist in these video’s(the rappers) are for the most part  black men themselves but yet they surround themselves with fairer skin women. Hip hop acts as a form of fantasy, typically men brag, about their access to wealth, power, and women. In the fantasy that hip hop portrays women who are light skin, possess straighter to curly, and have racially ambiguous features are seen in high esteem.

As a black man who lives in New york City I can tell many women of other ethnicities do not hold the same gaze on black men as we do towards them. One only need to go on a dating website to find how many advertise how they prefer white and Hispanic men, with some explicitly listing “no black men”. I personally do not mind if some women are not attracted to black men for I do not seek their validation. But many other black men do. One need to search countless forums asking the same typical questions “Do Asian women like black men”, “do middle eastern women like black men”, “do Russian women like black men”, I would highly doubt if the same question is asked vice versa.

One has to look at the disparities in marriage rate between black men and women, more black men are married than black women, despite the fact that there are 1 million more black women to men. This can be(at least partially) explained by the fact that 20% of black men who get married, marries women outside his race.

My case in point is that as black men we need to stop putting these white, Asian, and Hispanic women on these pedestals. The reason I believe we pedestal these women is because the black community still holds a lot of self-hatred which is has passed on to us through hundreds of years of slavery. That ‘s the only reason why as collective so many black men find typical eurocentric feature so attractive i.e light skin, straighter hair, etc.

In conclusion, I have nothing against being attracted to women of other races, I myself see the beauty in all races of women. My only objection is the pedestalling of other women while black men undermine our women. We as a people are still in a sense an “oppressed class”, particularly in the state of our mental affairs, and should do our best get out of it, first starting with some self-love as people.

Fashion and identity

We live in a very materialistic world. in which how we dress defines what type of person we are. I say this because people stereotype and get a sense of idea on what type of person you are primarily by the way you dress. Here’s an example you walk down Wall Street what do you see a large number of men wearing suits, your immediate assumption these are all wealthy men, you see another group of men in jeans and hoodies your opinion of them may begin to deter.

Why is it that we spend so much of our income on how we dress. what is the sole purpose of clothing? To regulate the temperature of our bodies(in which why we wear coats in the winter), or is it to protects us from the environment that why we wear shoes on our feet(at least in the industrialized developed world); but yet people become obsessed with fashion to the point that they’ll spend their entire paycheck on one a shopping spree.

so what is the purpose of clothing? As I alluded to in my introductory paragraph human beings use cloths as a form of identity. you recognize a doctor by his white trench coat, as you recognize a police officer by his blue sometimes black uniform.we impose identities onto people based on how they dress. A young man walks down the street sagging paint, wearing a do-rag it might come to mind that he is a hoodlum, another man walks down the street wearing an Armani suit we say to ourselves this person is wealthy and respectable.From my observation cloths are used as a status symbol.

Yet is a pair of air jordans worth its 250$ price tag. Especially when you consider the amount of capital in labor(very little since it’s made by a laborer in china the gets paid a third of a U.S workers would) or the material input which is may not be more than 20$ dollars. I appreciate free market capitalism in which firms seek to make a profit, I get it. But at the same token some common sense has to prevail, as consumers we shouldn’t be so swept into spending our money(many of us work extremely hard for) just to wear the same iteration of sneakers that essentially hasn’t changed in design for 25 years and is purposely kept in low supply by Nike to jack up the price, to feel any type of self worth.

In society many people(many times typically from poor minority background) spend a great deal of their income on clothing, finding self-worth through keeping up with trends, this can be quite destructive, one can look at all the black that have gotten murdered just for a pair of 200$ sneakers. How a person living in public housing and substitutes on government assistance still finds the spare income to allocate towards a pair of jordans, yet some of the rich’s people in the world spend very little in thought or on income on the way they dress. Most famous is Mark Zuckerberg the founder of Facebook whose net worth as of 2016 stands around 46 billion, famously only wears a gray t-shirt, blue jeans, and converse as his typical attire.

There is a serious need for dialogue on priorities when tech billionaire spends less on clothing than your typical inner city young man.

 

Is being black ugly?

What is it about black features that supposedly makes it so unattractive to some. Is it the lush lips, High melanin skin complexion, or just the coarse and strong hair. In my personal opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the physical features of the African, which I shall demonstrate

First and foremost we need to understand why do different groups humans look so varyingly different from each other. Before I get into this, I also want it to be known that humans share about 99.99% of our genetic code with each other regardless of “race”. Humanity as a species(anatomically modern) first originated 200,000 years ago somewhere in east Africa. Then around 50 thousand years ago bands of humans left Africa for Europe and Asia(Human reaching the Americas 15,00 years ago). That being said the first humans had to survive in very hot and arid condition of Africa. The sun provides humans with vitamin D, through ultraviolet radiation. Too much UVR and a person can develop skin cancer, a good protection from this is to have a lot of melanin, which translates into darker skin, to protect Humans from skin damage. To project the tops of our heads, coarse and tightly bound hair was needed. To better expatriate sweat, broad facial features with larger surfaces tend to do a better a job.

So why are African features so unattractive if it was so evolutionary advantages. First it has to do with the legacy of slavery. When one group of physically different humans, subject another group of humans, those attributes that belong to the subjected are deemed inferior, just as their status in that respected society.

Black people in the United States as well as across Latin America. Embody a sense of inferiority in their appearance. This is why black women in America spend billions of dollars every year on hair straightening product as well as hair extensions(colloquially called weaves). The fact that women who are lighter in skin complexion and possess European physical features are considered more attractive by many black men. And why many black people will ridicule each other for possessing features that deemed to African, such darker skin(being called crispy, darker),thicker lips(bottom lip jocks), or coarser hair(nappy hair, bad hair as opposed to good hair which would be European).

There is a societal delusion in the inferiority appearance of Africans. One common derogatory remark is the comparison of black people to monkeys. I will show how this dis-remark can be reversed on Europeans

First and foremost Monkeys are quit hairy, African tend to have very little in body hair as compared to Europeans. Secondly monkeys tend to coated in hair that is similar to Europeans texture then to Africans. Thirdly monkeys are quite pale if you were to shave them. Fourthly monkeys have extremely thin lips and noses similar to Europeans than to Africans. This is not to compare Europeans to primates but just to demonstrate how nonsensical it is to call Africans monkeys.

There is no reason why black people or any other racial group should be demonized by their appearance. At the end of the day, we are all humans and beauty can be found in every skin hue, hair grad, eye shape, and body size!