Spark! is dedicated to igniting thought, provoking conversation, and moving individuals into a deeper reflection of life. The SPARK! is just the beginning of the journey. Will you let your SPARK! burn brighter and expand your horizon or will you let it simmer out and dissipate? BrotherWord is here to help SPARK! your deepest desires, motivate you to a higher plain of thought, and help broaden your expectations beyond your circumstances.
Disclaimer: I did not vote for the President-Elect nor am I in favor of the new regime entering the White House or being appointed to create policy and make decisions that will ultimately and drastically change the landscape of our country. Please read this with that in mind and feel free to comment AFTER you have read it in its entirety.
Today is a day that will for sure will go down in all of history and will be a worldwide spectacle in more ways than one. Some will cheer in jubilation, while others will watch in disdain and disbelief. But no matter what side of the fence you stand on, every last person can agree that anything is possible.
Eight years ago the United of States of America witnessed history in the making as @BarackObama was elected as the first African-American President. On a platform centered on “hope,” President Obama galvanized a splintered society and rallied the masses by literally giving hope to the forgotten, disenfranchised, broken, poor, unpopular and found a way to bridge the gap between the “well-off” and the “I just want a fair chance.” Hope may be a slogan on a bumper sticker to some, but it is a lifeline of last resort to others. Without hope, I shutter to think where we may be or where we are headed. (more…)
Excellence, distinguished, dignified, eminent are all characteristics that would be apropos to describe our President, @BarackObama, but humble, serene, sympathetic, cerebral, strategist, husband, father, and ultimate leader, would suffice just as equally. While many may have cheered his departure from the White House, many more mourned that he would no longer preside from the oval office.
Looking back over the past eight years, it is easy to say that no civic leader or politician, let alone the President of the United States, has been vilified to such an extent. Attacked moreso for anything and everything other than policy and presidential duties, we had a firsthand and up close view of what it means to not “stoop to their level” and “forgive them in spite of.” Not sure how many of us could withstand such a barrage, especially eight years of ridicule, racism, and cruel and ugly rhetoric, but this man not only handled it, he rose above it and shined through it.
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 AMP). Watching the farewell speech, we had one final, public glance of grace and prestige. We saw a man of the people despite some of the people literally cursing his name and disparaging his character still championing hope and unity. Never once did President Obama look down on the less than, crucify the accuser, or hold himself on a pedestal. He has been and continues to be a man of the people, all people, no matter they supported him or not.
I cannot speak for anyone else, but I am saddened that hope is leaving the White House and the polar opposite is entering. I understand wholeheartedly why many wept watching the farewell speech and why so many feel hope is a delusion and forgone conclusion. But as President Obama so eloquently stated in his last speech as Commander-In-Chief, “It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.”
Thank you President Barack Obama for all you sacrificed, the bridges you built, the hope you inspired, the legacy you cemented, and for showing us all that it is possible to love your family and lead with equal passion and superb excellence. Please take time to watch the farewell speech and listen to the tribute by @JoeyGallant. Both will stir in you all that is beautiful in America!
It’s the weekend baby and although we should not be living for the weekend, it is always good to look forward to a break from the work week. It has been a week of continued nationwide turmoil, political madness, tragic deaths in the sports world, and the normal stresses of daily life… but we made it!
With the climate of the culture being what it is, it is hard to find inspiration or things to find hope in, but as often happens, when you look for a silver lining there is one on the horizon. Thanks to @PrinceEa for pointing out the continued flaws in our educational system and shedding light on the direction we all need to go.
To all the educators, please heed his message and act accordingly! #BeInspired
My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing; Land where my forefathers and brothers continue to die, land where it seems okay to kill a black man and still no answer to why, Yelling from the mountaintops, when will justice ring?
As yet another name, #TerenceCrutcher, has been added to the list of black males slaughtered at he hands of police officers, I cannot help but be enraged. When is enough enough!
We have seen terroristic attacks across American soil, as recent as a few days ago in Manhattan, and those suspects be treated more humanely than African-Americans. We have all seen the video of the Anglo man physically attacking the officers, disobeying their commands, verbally abusive, and yet he was still able to live. When did we revert back to yesteryear when black men were thought of as less than human, 3/5 human, or have I been fooling myself?
No matter the rhetoric, justification, or any suggested rationale, the fact remains, these people are dead! As Crutcher’s twin sister profoundly stated, using the depiction the helicopter officer foolishly uttered, “that bad dude was someone’s brother, someone’s son, someone’s uncle, he loved God…”
We have lost a sense of humanity and the divide between the “law” and the people widens by the second. America, if you, we, claim to be the greatest country, it is beyond time to start looking in the mirror. We have become a distorted, pathetic joke of everything we try to push on others and claim to stand for and trust me when I tell you the rest of the world is laughing at us in disgust. As I recently traveled abroad, I was put in a position to defend a country, my country, that thinks of me less than human, as I was asked question after question about the ignorance, disparity, cruel treatment, and malicious, deplorable inequalities and injustice that is so obvious to even those outside of the U.S.A.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! And yet people continue to question why some have chosen not to stand during the national anthem? Many have not read Francis Scott Key’s original poem. It is only the first stanza that is used for the Star-Spangled Banner, but it is the last stanza that we need to remember.
O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
This is applicable to every man, woman, and child, so do not be shocked when its words become life and the “freemen” stand (or kneel) and take upon themselves the motto, “… then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, [and ONLY] in God our trust.” Even the meekest and mildest of man has a breaking point and America, you are pushing us to a point of no return.
Jay-Z penned a heartfelt ode entitled “Song Cry” (circa 2002) that depicted an array of emotions that no longer manifested physically, so instead, he had to make the “song cry.” As I write this opus to mankind, all I can think to do is make the pen cry.
Unless you are oblivious to the world and live in an underground bunker with no outside contact, every single person is aware of the atrocities involving the murders of #AltonSterling and #PhilandoCastile. Outrage, anger, heartache, sadness, bewilderment, do not even begin to scratch the surface of emotions I feel. Anyone with a conscious and half a thought can clearly see there is a physical, mental, and spiritual attack against African-American men and a clear disregard for our lives and/or well being. Sadly, we as black men are an endangered species being systematically slaughtered, persecuted, and one-by-one eradicated as if we are less than, irrelevant, and disposable. America is hurting and her people are suffering and the stoic appearance you see in me is because I have #NoMoreTears, so I let my pen depict my pain and watch it cry. (more…)
Every person, whether still in school or not, should read this, print it out, and remind themselves as often as needed that they possess everything to #LiftOff.
By: Donald Livingston (@DLive87)
“Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin,
Is a great equalizer of the conditions of men.” – Horace Mann, 1848.
At the time of his remarks I couldn’t read — couldn’t write.
Any attempt to do so, punishable by death.
For generations we have known of knowledge’s infinite power.
Yet somehow, we’ve never questioned the keeper of the keys —
The guardians of information.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen more dividing and conquering
In this order of operations — a heinous miscalculation of reality.
For some, the only difference between a classroom and a plantation is time.
How many times must we be made to feel like quotas —
Like tokens in coined phrases? —
There are days I feel like one, like only —
A lonely blossom in a briar patch of broken promises.
But I’ve always been a thorn in the side of injustice.
Disruptive. Talkative. A distraction.
With a passion that transcends the confines of my consciousness —
Beyond your curriculum, beyond your standards.
I stand here, a manifestation of love and pain,
With veins pumping revolution.
I am the strange fruit that grew too ripe for the poplar tree.
I am a DREAM Act, Dream Deferred incarnate.
I am a movement – an amalgam of memories America would care to forget
My past, alone won’t allow me to sit still.
So my body, like the mind
Cannot be contained.
As educators, rather than raising your voices
Over the rustling of our chains,
Take them off. Un-cuff us.
Unencumbered by the lumbering weight
Of poverty and privilege,
Policy and ignorance.
I was in the 7th grade, when Ms. Parker told me,
“Donovan, we can put your excess energy to good use!”
And she introduced me to the sound of my own voice.
She gave me a stage. A platform.
She told me that our stories are ladders
That make it easier for us to touch the stars.
So climb and grab them.
Keep climbing. Grab them.
Spill your emotions in the big dipper and pour out your soul.
Light up the world with your luminous allure.
To educate requires Galileo-like patience.
Today, when I look my students in the eyes, all I see are constellations.
If you take the time to connect the dots,
You can plot the true shape of their genius —
Shining in their darkest hour.
I look each of my students in the eyes,
And see the same light that aligned Orion’s Belt
And the pyramids of Giza.
I see the same twinkle
That guided Harriet to freedom.
I see them. Beneath their masks and mischief,
Exists an authentic frustration;
An enslavement to your standardized assessments.
At the core, none of us were meant to be common.
We were born to be comets,
Darting across space and time —
Leaving our mark as we crash into everything.
A crater is a reminder that something amazing happened here —
An indelible impact that shook up the world.
Are we not astronomers — looking for the next shooting star?
I teach in hopes of turning content, into rocket ships —
Tribulations into telescopes,
So a child can see their potential from right where they stand.
An injustice is telling them they are stars
Without acknowledging night that surrounds them.
Injustice is telling them education is the key
While you continue to change the locks.
Education is no equalizer —
Rather, it is the sleep that precedes the American Dream.
So wake up — wake up! Lift your voices
Until you’ve patched every hole in a child’s broken sky.
Wake up every child so they know of their celestial potential.
I’ve been a Black hole in the classroom for far too long;
Absorbing everything, without allowing my light escape.
But those days are done. I belong among the stars.
And so do you. And so do they.
Together, we can inspire galaxies of greatness
For generations to come.
No, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning.
It’s graduation season again and many are being promoted to their next elevation. Whether it is the kid who is now graduating from kindergarten and entering “big school” or the junior high student venturing off into the shark pool of high school, or even the high school graduate that is cutting the strings to become an independent college student or even those who have surpassed college and are now accepting post-graduate degrees, there is a commonality. That commonality regardless of what phase the graduate may be in is where he or she goes next is heavily dependent on that individual and their willingness to work hard, be unrelenting and undeterred, and a passion and desire to chase their dreams no matter the challenges or obstacles that lie ahead.
And if you still are wondering what lies in store or how to get there, please take six minutes to be inspired! Donald Livingston (@DLive87) prolifically sums up every students potential and lays out a map to navigate the roads ahead. If you do not know where you are going or how to get there, it’s time to #LiftOff!
This pain I feel is wearing me down, how much turmoil can one person endure before they begin to drown. One thing is for sure, either you are going through, about to go through, or just coming out the storm, but before you give in, it’s after when the sun comes out and rainbows are born. There’s purpose in this pain and lessons learned, what didn’t kill has not only made me stronger, but made me wiser and for that, I no longer have to yearn. ~ BrotherWord
Pain attacks in a multitude of ways and affects us in all areas of our lives – physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual. Pain is one of those things that is inevitable, but what is often missed and overlooked is that even in the pain, there is still purpose.
Pain in the physical form brings forth a reaction from the central nervous system telling us that something is uncomfortable, does not feel well, is conflicting with our body. When our body aches, it triggers the mind to do something different or stop altogether, cease whatever action is causing the pain, but anyone who has ever worked out, trained, done any physical activity, will tell you that is not until you push through the pain that you begin to conquer the mind and your body. As much as pain may warn you, it can also trick you into prematurely quitting. If you succumb to the pain, how would you know how far you could go, how much you can achieve, how would you discover the deeper purpose.
Emotional pain is even more debilitating. An emotional blow can cause a ripple effect that will destroy the psyche and the physical if allowed. Emotional wounds attack the deepest recesses of our mind and cause us to doubt others and ourselves, retreat from the world, and at worse become recluse and anti-social. Some of this can be diagnosed as chemical imbalances or mental breakdowns and require medication and therapy, yet there are so many more instances of people being disappointed, hurt, betrayed by someone else or even feeling inadequate and having a self-loathing demeanor. It is painful to think you are alone, no one cares, or everyone is against you, but do not let the pain fool you into thinking you do not have purpose or were not created for a purpose. The greatest trick of the enemy is to make you believe you are inadequate, your life is irrelevant, and you have no worth. The devil is a liar! Discovering purpose breeds a renewed energy, it invigorates and revitalizes, the purpose in the pain is knowing that despite what the world my say or, you have confidence knowing that you were created on purpose for a purpose!
Spiritual pain can possibly be the most devastating and dangerous because at this point you have lost hope and any reason for carrying on. A pain such as this will not only cripple, but can possibly lead to internal and eternal condemnation. To lose hope in life, in others, and self means you have given up and given into the pain. The misnomer about pain that escapes us all is that pain is temporary! It will not last forever nor will it always be painful, because the same thing that once caused you pain may very well be the same thing that elevates you to your purpose. When you feel like quitting, don’t! It is at that very moment when breakthrough happens, revelation takes place, and your are enriched and enlightened. It is at the moment of last hope and desperation that we discover inner strength and realize that all the pain we endured was meant to strengthen and never to break us.
On the mountaintop we get to bask in our achievements, but it is in the valleys where the lessons are truly learned. It is in the pain that we discover what we are truly made of and also why we are experiencing the pain. If you are willing to endure, to tarry just a little longer, I promise you that on the other side of pain, you will discover a greater purpose! Do not get me wrong, pain is not fun and no matter the target, physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, it hurts. Just know that it is temporary. If you just started exercising, at first it will hurt, there will be pain. But if you continue and push through, inevitably you will see the desired results and the pain will dissipate. No different when tackling emotional or spiritual pain. Do not succumb… OVERCOME!
Anyone that is feeling the pains of life, please hang on! Pain reminds us we are still alive, alerts us there is still fight left, is an alarm to the brain, heart, and thoughts, letting us know we are near our purpose. Pain is no more than a prelude to finding purpose! Do not believe me? During childbirth, a woman suffers what may be the most excruciating pain of her life, her body literally being stretched and ripped apart, yet she endures the labor. And if labor can be defined as physical or mental exertion, a painful or arduous work, especially one that is difficult and exhausting, cannot the birth of that child not be deemed purpose – the very reason why something is done, a determined, resolute outcome. In other words, your labor is not in vain because what is birth was worth any pain!
Your pain is a divine right of passage through which you will be reborn as a being of strength, wisdom, and purpose.
~ Bryant McGill
Knowledge is one of those things that can either build or destroy. When intellect and confidence collide, it becomes a magnanimous moment that can enlighten or at the least spark thought and delve into our deeper recesses. In the clip below, this theologian was asked, “So, where did God come from,” and in one of the most insightful and efficient explanations I have heard, he leaves no doubt to the aforementioned question.
After listening to his explanation I cannot see how anyone could ever ask again Where Did God Come From! Can you?