I'll be life skills coaching some of our suns next Saturday, Oct. 26 at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. If you know of any teens and/or 20soms who need life coaching, please don't hesitate to have them attend this day long workshop on empowering young males and guiding them to productive choices.
When a parent says Thank you for saving my child! You smile a thank you back smile cos you know you're doing exactly what you came here to do!
Sunday, October 6, 2013
"Our youth don't see dropping out of school as a failure. They actually see leaving a broken system as freedom. Our job as progressive educators is to bring freedom to education. Right now it's a jail."--From my next youth motivational book; release 2014.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
"Mr. Koromantee, it gives me great pleasure to give your book a big THUMBS UP! I have worked in the Baltimore City Public School System for many years and have found very few if any books that have addressed the issues (with answers) the wa...y your book does. I am now an Employment Advocate at YO! Baltimore, Westside and can honestly say that our members are really enjoying reading this very insightful and interesting compilation. It has touched these young men where it counts, in their heads and in their hearts. Thanks for a great read!"-- Stanley Smith
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Every year round this time, Carib folk from and around Brooklyn, NY take over Eastern Parkway to celebrate the annual West Indian Day Parade. I used to go as a child when the Parade was a gigantic/awesome gathering with floats showcasing each Caribbean flag/music along the sidewalks filled with on-lookers and food n souvenir vendors who, in turn, showcased the matching flavors. I stopped attending when the event became more of a dangerous place to be caught in, what with gangsta wannabe's turning it into an excuse to shoot at one another. It became something both residents and visitors tolerated, until NYPD decided to curb the ra-ra. Now the floats pass through Crown Heights and down to the plaza circle with a more controlled threat of violence in the air. Efforts by po-po to be friendlier to the natives also helped. But it backfired last year when Blue was caught on video sexually fraternizing with some of the floaters and then bragging about it, even using racial tags to add to the insult. But no one talked about the insult that the men and women had already put on themselves.
Maybe I'm just getting older. But I want more from us. Too much compromising of what Black pride looks like. I know. What's wrong with just having a good time? Nothing, if you consider a good time bending your back forward to let another dry fuk you for all to see, or cheering a 5yrld girl for gyrating her privates in front of grandma. Or better yet, a group of males bumrushing a female to show what they do when the lights are out, while the female drunkenly grins at the mere spectacle of it all. If we're okay with teaching our daughters and sons that showing your ass is showing our pride, then let's not act surprised when non-Family members don't take us seriously. Older boys, especialy, who use our flags as gangsta face masks are not expressing Caribbean pride but emulating gang mentality which have nothing whatsoever to do with forward movement, but everything to do with misguidance and identity crisis.
I'm bringing this up cos I'm wondering if we're at a crossroads in defining our collective pride. Those who see a parade as an opportunity to display their flags and colors, and those who see it as a chance to wile'out. Reminds me of the debate over 'gays' who see pride as exhibitionism and those who'd rather push with their clothes on. I'm just sayin...
Look, I'm not trying to force my words on you. And from a photographer's standpoint, the more outrageous the fun, the more interesting the shot. But I'm celebrating my West Indian pride by remembering our Maroon, Yoruba and Taino heritages, the meaning of the conk shell, and the fact that Ayiti gave the rest of Carib and Latin America the blueprint for independence. Our West African traditions still show in our ways, food, and parade costumes like the one here representing the Devil. Devil Man is called upon by painting the body either blue, red or black; sometimes mud, but the one color is smeared from head to toe and the horns add to the drama. This is all part of the Jab Jab, an offshoot of the Parade that actually occurs before sunrise. The idea is that the Devil walks through town warning people about not paying for their wickedness. It's all mythology, of course. But the myth got hyjacked by marchers who sexualized the character (FYI-- The island of Grenade is considering banning the sexually provocative 'devil man' from their carnival, while supporters are siding with freedom of expression).
The full coloring of bodies or tarring began as a form of collective protesting when male slaves smeared themselves with tar, mud, paint or molasses so their masters wouldn't recognize them. As in, I'm stealing the very molasses I'm forced to cultivate for my keeper. Colonized French called it Jab Molassie while Black Brits named it the Jab-Jab. All of that got lost with the rest of the old folk tales, with some grown men who do recall and make sure we don't completely forget. Even the ones who paint themselves green or purple, who are just doing it cos they saw someone else do it, somewhere in their psyche they know it's a form of beautiful protest.
Sometimes on-lookers gotta wait between floats cos the gaps can be a block long. That's when some of us show their ass the most! All that jump off space and liquor to join you, until the next float comes or police regulates. The beauty queens try to get some of the attention by waving at the crowd, the way Queen Elizabeth waves at her subjects or how Marie Antoinette looked like she had a following but in reality didn't. Most times on-lookers remember the crowns. These times we wanna hear the noise and skip the symbols. I like to watch the White politicians try to look like they belong while hurrying to get the fuk outta there! Makes me laugh to see what someone will do to get a vote that's already taken for granted, but expected.
Ayiyi (Haiti) usually comes last. We're the final reminder of West Indian marching. A militaristic forward two-step that can be very intimidating to newbies and euros, but as familiar as DNA to those who honor their West African ancestry. Not everyone can get in on the whip cos you gotta do like the doubledutch girls be doing when they're ready to jump them ropes. You gotta prep yourself, keep your legs sturdy and feet ready as you wait for the right second to add yourself into the mix. Come in at the wrong time and you get pushed back by overwhelmed arms or aggravated elbows, unlike in doubledutch where everybody gotta start over on account of you. (And everyone in the neighborhood will know it!) Here, there's no stopping for you. You either know what you're doing or don't, but the Ra-Ra gonna keep moving with or without you. Our way of calling on the first Shango to push the French out from us. Our determination to withstand the tides of imperialism and global economic punishment for having the audacity to stand for something; for believing, still, in a free, self-reliant Black nation, even if crime lords and egotrippin government officals in Port-au-Prince are blocking progress.
So I'm gonna sit this one out. But I do find it interesting that the word RaRa made it from Gonaive all the way to Crooklyn; that it started as a march through Haitian villages and now a jump off. Stop that ra-ra means stop acting out. Keep the RaRa moving means cultural pride. We're at a crosssroads in defining pride. And I want more from us.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
"The secret to living a life of peace and fulfilliment is more than meditating and deeper than doing what comes natural to you. It's part of it. Like me writing help books for young people is my purpose or you following your own instincts/your spiritual guides. But the key to creating happiness is being mindful of your thougths. Because your thoughts decide your feelings, your feelings decide your actions and your actions decide your outcomes."
Excerpt from my current book, Message to a Youngblood.
(photo by Marton Apai)
Excerpt from my current book, Message to a Youngblood.
(photo by Marton Apai)
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Finally working on the manuscript to my next youth motivational book. Spirit is doing her usual say this/say that/leave this in/take this out. And just like my last book, I'm adding illustrations to match the chapters. Here's a sample student artist, Jackie Torres submitted. Gracias, hermana. Much appreciated!
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Thank you, Bmore! An anonymous donor from the Maryland city purchased copies of my book Message to a Youngblood for Yo! Baltimore. A workforce development agency that works with young Black males in Baltimore city. The books are for their fall session of workshops.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
I turn 52 this month; and 52 for me means reflecting on past accomplishments and making way for new blessings; means more opps to help my students become critical thinkers and writers, and see their personal lives as great investments; means providing more workshops on general life skills, motivating teens n 20soms and giving voice to the outcast. 52 also means making peace with those who served their purpose but must now stay in the past and welcoming those whose purpose is to carry me over to the next level. 52 means finding forward thinking school administrators who are willing to get out the way, so that our sons and daughters have access to my books; means working on my fourth youth motivational book and having it ready for publishing by the end of 2014. It also means learning how to play the role of caregiver to a parent who wasn’t there for me; means aging gracefully by treating others gracefully. And damn it! 52 means suddenly joint pains and looking at your arm, and sayin ish like, When the what did that get here? But in the end, it all comes down to being comftble in your skin. Come keep growing with me...
Thursday, May 30, 2013
His mom couldn't beat cancer like he couldn't pass High School Kept at it like a soldier drinks chemo, but the taste of isolation Seemed to always get in the way Had his father knew his own worth, He would've been the one telling this story But there's a reason why some boys are men at sixteen And some men play video games cos they got nothing to say It be a lie if I told you that suicide was never at the family table Or that it doesn't cling to a kid's backpack And forced smiles at the school cafeteria And it be a shame if I waited for too late Just to scratch a more profound poem out from my head His mom couldn't beat cancer like he keeps tryina pass High School But this year is the year he learns to say words like 'graduate' and 'elevate' Cos it's not natural for grown men to watch any and all sons slowly kill themselves It's not natural at all for a boy not to even know how to smile. From my next book of poems, Throw
Friday, May 17, 2013
When you feel closer to your dog than your son cos a dog doesn't challenge you to do more/be more, you're not just acting out your drug addiction but also your refusal to do The Work/your inner work. Still, let's not single out dmx cos so m...any of us are other types of addicts; so many of us avoid The Work, whether it's our chaotic lives that we blame on others or seeking love from individuals who don't know how to show love yet we keep at the fantasy to avoid reality. DMX is just on volume kaboom. another's volume might be simmer, but we all have our demons. The best of us face them dead on while others sleep with them to then die with them, slowly.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Every Mother's Day I thank my own mom for giving me life, along with all the years of support and guidance she's offered and the lessons she's thought me. At the same time, I consider the many students who reach my desk with stories of motherly neglect and abandonment that don't make the Sunday news. These are the wounded young and older souls who are forced to face their childhood scars, tolerate Mother's Day hype and walk by flowers that deserve a holding hand but because of past trauma, cannot appreciate the beautiful colors and smells that represent pleasant memories of being considered and held. For these wounded individuals, the term mother is somewhat of an oxymoron; a figure of speech. A total assumption that vagina automatically means motherly/nurturing when we know of many moms and grandmoms who shouldn't be parents by the lack of emotionality in their giving hands. Not all mothers are flowers. Some make babies to keep a fleeing man. Some create life to have a life. Some define their womanhood according to social welfare benefits. Some just plain don't have a clue, so they pass on the burden onto the kid whose job will be to figure it out for themselves. And when that same kid, now transformed into an angry, jaded young woman/young man, my job or hope is to transform years of neglect back to when disillusionment wasn't yet a side effect; before rage found its name, before mother became an absent figure and before Mother's Day became an annual thorn to their side. How we get rid of our thorns is up to the wounded. The other side effect of being left with questions unanswered. We can either continue allowing the void to dictate how we live and love, and in turn raise ourt own children, or turn victimization into victory by releasing the pain, giving it back to the very person who created it and create a new identity for ourselves. One that is more accurate, closer to who we believe/feel we are, in order to prevent more wounded children. We do this in the name of love and the One we pray to and say to our ancestors aloud and with newfound pride-- This is the year I welcome Mother's Day, as I mother myself in the way that my mother didn't know how to. Ashe!
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
From new reader, Chavaughn Christie (21)-- "Message to a Youngblood is the realest book I ever read. It made me think, caused me to laugh and be upset because I had to reflect on my flaws. But it also touched me deeply. It's great to read a book that's about me, that I can relate to and not about dead White men."
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
So I finally converted my book to e-format, after my students kept pushing the benefits in doing so. And I get that. The whole keeping up with the times thing and how reading is now not only fundamental but part of the gadget trends. Maybe it's my 52 this summer talking, but I still like seeing stacked books in my personal library or my fav soul seeker books by my bed or next to the tub. I still like reaching for a book that transformed me in my earlier years and now serves as a reminder to keep transforming or I'm already dead. Guess that's why I still buy photo albums. I like the idea of opening a life and flipping through the visuals, as opposed to turning on a machine so I can see life through it instead. My suns and gems will tell you that if it ain't on the screen, it never happened. Precious sepia artifacts is dinosaur talk to a quick fixer. So if keeping up with technology will help me sell even more copies, then I welcome it. But I'ma hold on to my photo albums in case the lights go out and all I have are my frozen memories and someone to share them with.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
It's all them accessories we attach to our selves in order to get over that collective pain or avoid reality altogether. That tendency to call our divides natural when we know deep inside that together we make the supernatural. That's what like to write about. Cos popularity's cheap. It's staying power that reaches the soul. Like a kid gone bad suddenly making a turnaround cos he read a book none of his teachers were allowed to show him.