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Words Don’t Do It Justice: YOU are Forty Thousand Strong on our 2nd Anniversary

Just a reminder where we started.

Just a reminder where we started.

Words Don’t Do It Justice

“It was all a dream.

I used read word up magazine.”

I could keep going with that, but really I don’t feel like quoting too much of anyone else today. So let me address this with the style most comforting.

When this all began it was an idea.

The thought that we could give the world something in this blog that would be read by our friends, maybe a few co-workers and classmates. And every once in a while I’d get to deal with the issues I have to face on a daily basis by just ranting into a text window for 30 minutes to an hour and let the world read. Certainly if we accomplished that I would have called this a successful idea and when the view dwindled I’d close it up and say I had a good time.

But that isn’t what you did. And I say that isn’t what YOU did, because it is true. You are the reason this fun time didn’t turn into just another thing I used to do. YOU made it worth it to find Rufus, Ronin, Roddo, Rebellionista, Realistic Royalty, Princess Devy, Reign, The Revanchist, The Radical Ref, Carl McPhail, Xion, Driving Misty, Rhapsodic, Reason, Kudo, Rhythmic Journey, Revolution In A Jar, causeandeffect88, Bami O, Render Verdicts, Ruminated Thoughts, Keith Labell, Smooth Phuzion, Bree the V, TEH Bobbo, and all the people who wanted to commit but just didn’t have the time to write, be on the podcast, contribute music, or be interviewed.

That wasn’t just me plodding through on my own. That was you reading. That was you sharing. That was YOU telling the world our little corner of the internet was worth checking out. in the first year we did 3500 views. In 2 years we have done 40,000! Because of all of you. And now things are possible that weren’t not long ago. YOU made this happen. People asked me when I started what I expected. They asked me what I wanted. I just wanted people to listen to my thoughts sometimes. It was so simple back then. Now? Now I want the sky and everything beyond. lol just kidding.

Now I want to give you more of what you come here for. So covering Gaming, and other topics, We’re proud to announce that Nine To Five Gamer will be joining us run by Bami O. Look for the official page as well as forums soon. You’re going to read pieces from many of our alumni writers. And that long-awaited revamp/update to the site. I can’t promise you we’ll turn into a Super Villain run Huffington Post by tomorrow. Heck I can’t even promise that by next year. But I can promise we will keep hitting these hot topics with our cold analysis. I can promise we are committed to giving you what you came here for. And I can promise you I WILL NEVER FORGET what drives Words Don’t Do It Justice. Because what drives us is YOU!

My humanity wants to cry by my Super Villainy is smiling too hard and is too excited. Thank you all. THANK YOU. Every super fan. Every random reader Every casual person who checked us out a few times or just once. THANK YOU FOR ALL OF THIS FROM ALL OF US! We couldn’t have done all this without you. Words Do Not Do YOU Justice!

– THE Ruthless Wonder

My complex relationship with Black History Month

Yes, today especially, will be one of those days.

So one of the things I’m often loathed to deal with is the current month we take part in here in the US. And there are a lot of reasons for my general state of annoyance. Some of which I’ll get to over the course of this particular piece for your viewing. Whatever this month means to you, I’m sure you will be offended. Remember all emails should be sent to yourruthlesswonder@gmail.com, but let’s get moving.

I hate the necessity of Black History Month

One of the glaringly obvious things to me about Black History Month is that we do in fact need one. The adage is often said that they teach black history 1 month out of the year, and 11 months out of the year it is white history. Now other ethnic groups with their own ceremonial months may disagree, but the very existence of their months honoring their heritage in fact exists because of black history month. So y’all can have several seats while I finish my point.

I hate that we need to have a dedicated month recognizing very specific and generally speaking, the same old accomplishments. It is one thing to talk about major firsts in a culture, it is another altogether to only talk about them, and never add in discussion of new, and or alternatively important milestones. But then I think about kids now who don’t know Missy Elliot has been rapping since the 90’s and I get it…a bit.

The deeper reason I hate the need for the month is the outright ignorance the rest of the year. Part of the problem is the thing that comes from the exceptional nature of America in the first place. What do I mean? Well because America is the first, and one of few current nations made based on commonly united political beliefs and not geographic similarities, we have a “not everyone is the same.” problem when it comes to heritage. Because things can never be complex enough, add in slavery, reconstruction, the great depression, the civil rights movement, Korean war, Vietnam war, The hippies, and the 70’s and by the time you get to the birth of the legend you now know as THE Ruthless Wonder in 1982, things are odd.

Thus what seems like a good idea really can get out of hand. I hate the idea that it isn’t common knowledge how important schools like Lincoln, Langston, Alcorn, and basically every HBCU not named Morehouse, Spellman, or Howard are to the collective history of America. And that’s right I said America not black America. Black America as an idea pisses me off, but I’ll save that for another day and a probably a full on Note from your favorite super villain.

That we still need a true out and out campaign for black history month, where even giant corporations have to make some half ass attempt to act like they care about black people by repeating lock stock and barrel the same classic accomplishments on company flyers is demeaning to me. I look no further than Black Enterprise. I’ve been a BE reader to some degree since my parents were getting it while I was a kid. But when we talk about achievements related to african americans in American society, it rarely comes up. The same magazine which has not been handed over to larger(white), media corporations. That has not had the financial instabilities. That has a respectable presence, and has since the 70’s. “No no, tell them about CJ Walker, and Harriet Tubman again.” Which brings me to the next problem I have.

I hate the fake pro-black focus of Black History Month.

When I was truly a child the point of Black History Month seemed to be hyper focus on accomplishments, and talk about things that could make you proud of your heritage. As I have gotten older things have taken a turn. I remember them in waves. Wearing only red black and green. Busting out African cloths. only wearing black designers clothes. blah blah blah. The reality is for Americans who are black each of these was a means of at least acting the part of reconnecting to your roots. Which might be a good idea if the rest of the year wasn’t the almost exact opposite of that.

Dashiki aside, 90% of those who appear black in the US have only ancestral connections to the continent, and 5% of the remaining 10% are more than 3 generations Americans. And I’ll save the Black but also Latino folks for another discussion as well. Given the numbers I can understand the idea of wanting to know who you were. But for an exercise ask your Italian friends the last time they dressed up in Roman robes and spoke random latin words or phrases. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Now that they are done laughing you can see my point. It is good to research, learn about, and especially learn from the root of all people(Yes I said all. You denying humanity came from Africa is like me denying Gravity applies to feathers). But homogenizing African culture into a single outfit, and one particular language’s catch phrases is buffoonery. And it disrespects the very idea of what Black History Month seems to have been about. Woodson very rarely references the direct link of American Blacks to Africa when coming up with black history day. And even civil rights leaders focus on the accomplishments, trials, tribulations, and triumphs of Black Americans when they address the then week long and later month long celebration.

This wasn’t supposed to be back to Africa day. This wasn’t to be “Come out as a black Israelite” week. And most certainly it wasn’t call everyone not buying into your unintelligible and oblivious pro-black faux-afro-centrism month. This was supposed to be a day, week, and month to look at old, modern, and contemporary black accomplishments here in America by Black people and celebrate them. The way the month is now abused to get people to buy your stupid book, listen to your “Afro-consciousness” struggle rap mixtape, or pick up another copy of the hidden colors series is disgusting. Celebrating Black American Achievement is laudable. Trying to push your faux revolutionary agenda along with merchandise is race pimping.

I hate what it really says about America and Americans.

The hardest part of this piece today is that for all the complexity in my relationship with Black History Month, I love parts of it. Seeing parents post videos of their kids reading Langston Hughes like I did as a kid. Watching young women and young men talk about the influence researching Malcolm X now has on them. Students fighting to get to see Selma. These are great things. They are things we need to remember and cherish. These are things that we wouldn’t have the access to 15 years ago. That is beautiful. That is what I love about this month. No matter that it is the shortest of the year.

The reason I say I hate what it really says about America is that I know these things will only occur in months like this. Save the students who began their struggle at the end of January, these kinds of moments are part and parcel February only. Anything else will be an outlier. A seeming non-sequitur. Because unlike our schools, events, drinking fountains, transportation, and voting rights, history is still highly segregated. It should be normal to talk about the alleged role Benjamin Banneker had in crafting Washing D.C. alongside Pierre Charles L’Enfant after being part of the survey group. It should be simple for Literature teachers to reference the fact that Alexander Dumas was black French writer who also would use some of the lavish gifts he received to help support American Abolitionists.

It is disheartening for me, to see the various things I know because I read about them in history, or learn about them in the present day, never grace history books that get updated yearly. From College texts, right down to the entry level reading for pre-schoolers. It says Americans, don’t actually care about learning. It says Americans, don’t really want to know more about the cultures that have come together to make us great. And for all the granola munching, soybean slurping, rice milk drinking, vegan cheese making, dog rescuing, gentrifying liberal wastes of my time that give it lip service, they are no better than their dip spitting, klan member, confederate flag waving, Santorum supporting, racist assholes.

But bigger than my hatred of bigots, It says America is regressing. It says we don’t want to be exceptional anymore. The fact that we need black history month to remind white America that some things are just not okay is sad. That we need it to remind black people to try and achieve is sad. That we need a specific month to pull black children aside and tell them how important to the fabric of this great experiment they are, and the ones who came before them were is sad. When American History is taught to include all the cultures that have made us great, hopefully we will have advanced enough to no longer need this month. Until then I loathe the month, but I lovingly endure it. Because It just might make us all better. And also because it pisses off racists and bigots alike, and you know I love that. I could talk about the problem of Black vs. African American. Maybe next week. For now though…Words Don’t Do It Justice!

 

– THE Ruthless Wonder

Let it Reign

When I think about 2014 and Words Don’t Do It Justice certainly a lot of things come to mind. The beginning of the year and our posts, the to date biggest day we’ve done as a blog, the podcasts, moving to our own hosting, all the behind the scenes stuff. But the thing that sticks out the most is probably the addition to the Staff that would forever change WDDIJ and absolutely for the better. Of course, I’m talking about the debut of Reign.  When I look back and see where we were going into the end of the year I can’t imagine how we would have had the ability to make 2014 what it was without her. When the questions are asked about how we got to 10 thousand views less than a year after getting to 3500 I really only have one thing to say. Reign. Because it wasn’t just about  what, it was about who.

When I look back and see where we were going into the end of the year I can’t imagine how we would have had the ability to make 2014 what it was without her. When the questions are asked about how we got to 10 thousand views less than a year after getting to 3500 I really only have one thing to say. Reign. Because it wasn’t just about her posts. Sure she accounted for 1600 total views over the course of this year, but there is something more than that insanely cool number she brought us. Hope.

Yes that’s right. Even I have a need for that lightning charged word Hope. At the beginning of the year I knew I would be around less and less often because I would be studying for the bar exam, and in the middle of that I was losing writers due to burn out and a sudden lack of interest as well as technology issues on their end. Without her I’m distracted again trying to keep the place working while studying. And I don’t have time to do the first post to break 1,000 in its first day. I don’t have time to go out looking for Xion, Ruminated Thoughts, Revanchist, and our various guest bloggers. And without her Kudo, and Reason would never have come here with their work.

People assume because I’m generally the antagonist of the site that I’m not a grateful person. Far from it. I know the sacrifices people make to bring me a post each week. I know the revisions they go through, the time they spend to make it look like they want it to. And for all of our writers I thank them for it. But like I said. We don’t get here without her. Because when it was going to be shut down WDDIJ or face not passing the bar, she was not just a good solution, she was THE solution. A lesser writer with her drive to post wouldn’t have made it. For those months while I couldn’t be here, and was reduced to tapping all of my pre-written pieces, she was giving you fresh takes and pieces that keep you reading, that kept you believing. And that made the difference.

As 2015 starts I look at the other contributions she’s given. Stumping for the site in her personal circles. recruiting, and being a voice of clarity and reason in times when I have been unreasonable. So today I am happy, and dare I saw proud, to have her as part of WDDIJ and our future. Words Don’t Do HER Justice!

– THE Ruthless Wonder

Happy Anniversary… I mean … Happy New Year!!!

Reign's 2015Yeah… that’s what I meant… Happy New Year folks. And what a year it was. I promised to call you out, piss you off, and talk about random stuff that interests me. After reviewing all of my posts, I’m pleased to say I kept up my end of the bargain… You guys; Not so much. So here’s the question: What have you learned this year? What have you done? I know *I’ve* done a lot of Reflecting, and I’ve invited you all to participate in my journey.

Remember the angry days when I was sounding off about race classification, or that time I went in on my fellow Black people? Or that fool who went on a killing spree because he couldn’t get laid? Those were not good times, but you shared them with me. And how about when we talked about relationships, self love, and my own struggle with my image? Believe it or not, those were good times, and I shared them with you too.

Looking back, you’d have thought we could only talk about race relations but so much until I had to embrace my lack of decorum and the Supreme Court ruling against Affirmative Action in of all places, schools. We had to discuss Ferguson, “White Privilege,” and people choosing to focus on race when they shouldn’t. Oh, and by the way, the assault on schools didn’t just end with Affirmative Action… Nope, we had people shooting them up again.

Looking forward, I think we’ll keep this positivity train moving forward. Of course I am committed to sounding off about social injustices and current events, but I think MJ said it best:

If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.

I might have been forced to change my name to Reign Justice by a fascist FaceBook, this is still the Reign of Change. You can expect to have more notes to take in Self Improvement 101. I’ll have a few more letters to add to The Letter Series, and since writing is how I’ve decided to treat my ails, you’ll have to clutch your pearls because of my Decorum Deficiency Disorder, so consider yourself warned. We’ll be checking your Depth Perception and making PSA’s as necessary, and I’ll still expect you to Dig Deep.

So here’s the answer: you’ve made it with me to another year. Congratulations folks, we’ve earned it! Between technical difficulties and my ongoing struggle with Decorum Deficiency Disorder, I feel like we’ve grown so much closer. I just want to thank all of you for reading me this year, sharing your stories with me, and letting me share mine. I look forward to even more learning, sharing, and growing with you… and as always…

Do More. Require Better.

 

Welcome to 2015.

Words Don’t Do It Justice: Breaking News

Just a reminder where we started.

Just a reminder where we started.

Over the weekend we were very close to an amazing achievement.

On Monday it was so tantalizingly close I was thinking of dropping a post just to help push it over after the Holidays Don’t Do It Justice post.

But Tuesday Night after Posts from Ruminated Thoughts and of course from THE Ruthless Wonder reacting to the decision by the Darren Wilson Grand Jury, we hit a milestone that if I’m honest I didn’t expect until 2015.

SO

On Behalf of the Weekends Don’t Do It Justice Writers Reason, Kudo, Xion, and Lucremo.

On Behalf of the Words Don’t Do It Justice Guest Bloggers, The Justice League.

On Behalf of the Words Don’t Do It Justice Alumni writers

On Behalf of the Keith Labell and Smooth Phuzion who provide music for The WDDIJcast and The WRATH of Ruthless.

On Behalf of Reign, The Revanchist, Ruminated thoughts, and Ronin

And on Behalf of 314 Publishing, Imperial Dreams Productions, and WORDS DON’T DO IT JUSTICE

THE Ruthless Wonder is proud to announce that as of November 25th, 2014 Words Don’t Do It Justice has reached 9,200 views!

ALL Because of YOU!

ALL Because of YOU! Photo edit credit: JohnHenry Balsa

And we have you to thank.

Every one of you who shares us with you friends on facebook and your followers on twitter.

Every one of you who comes back even on days when no one has posted just to see if something is dropping.

Every one of you who has stuck by us since my very first post to this very day.

Thank you for being our superfans.

Thank you for believing in us.

Words do no do you justice.

 

I could say it a thousand times and it wouldn’t be enough. But I’ll say it one more time.

We love you all.

Thank you!

THANK YOU!

THANK YOU! Photo Edit Credit: Steven Cockrell

– YOUR Ruthless Wonder

Politics & You: Election Day 4 Nov 2014

Nightmare Before Election Day 2014

‘Twas the week before election day and all through the land
There were protests, debates, and politicians shaking hands.
All throughout the season, distractions ran a muck.
One thing after another proving that our local elected officials suck.
There was Furguson, and Isis, and now we’ve discovered Ebola too
But Reign’s here to remind you that none of this is something new….

 

.   .   .  

NYS Voter Reg Form

So here’s the thing… while all the other teenagers were all angst about turning 16 so they could get their driver’s licenses or 21 so they could drink, I could barely wait to turn 18 so I could mail in my Voter Registration Form. I used to hear people complaining about politicians and policies that don’t serve the people. I attended City Council and Board of Education Meetings and remember hearing foolishly proud people proclaim “… this is why I don’t vote!” Even as a child I thought;

“… but maybe if you had voted, you wouldn’t be dealing with the idiot who got elected?”

So that folks is what this post is all about…

Obama  Romney

Politicians pander to the largest group of their voter base. President Obama, a Democrat, panders to women and young people; wage equality, education debt forgiveness, the Dream Act. Mitt Romney, a Republican, pandered to rich people, and multi-billion dollar corporations; the makers and the takers, and the age-old “Trickle Down Theory” from the days of Ronald Reagan. When we vote, we tell them who to pander to. When politicians “pander,” they fight for the legislation, policies, and values that will make their base more likely to keep them in office, and get their friends into office. Voting encourages them to pander according to your preferences. You should vote.
What do I vote for?Short Memories
I vote for my right to not be judged by my race, gender, creed, or someone’s skewed statistics of my potential. I vote according to my right to make my own decisions about my body, my future, my goals, my dreams, and most importantly, your right to make your choices according to your values too. I vote for education, gainful employment, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I vote for civic duty, personal responsibility, and the village it takes to make everything work. I vote for community. I vote for justice. I vote for diplomacy over irrational warmongering. I vote for innovation. I vote because so many who came before me couldn’t. I vote because so many after me might lose that right.

Trickle Down Theory

Get to know your local politicians. Vote for the ones who will fight according to your preferences. If you don’t want to see more police getting away with murder: vote. If you don’t want your employer to be allowed to pay you the least while keeping the greater share of their profits to themselves; vote. If you realize the trickle-down economics isn’t the right way to go; vote. If you don’t want corporations getting tax breaks while your family struggles to make ends meet; vote.

Vote for the things that will make an immediate difference in your life.

Do More. Require Better.

I Have No Mouth, But I Must Scream [The Fourth]

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It’s the Fourth of July, so I’m sure that you guys have other plans than to sit here and read what I have to say, so I plan on keeping this pretty short. The Fourth of July is a special day to alot of people, but it hasn’t been all that special for me in quite sometime. I would have to say the holiday lost its allure when I was 17 or so, when the reality of the world set in and what had once been a fun holiday that the entire family had enjoyed became a nightmare. Truthfully, my family hasn’t celebrated the fourth like we used to in so many years, though I still have fond memories of going to the lake, BBQing and firing off fireworks, those memories seem now like fleeting images of someone else’s life. I can remember them, but it is hard to believe that I lived them.

Why did it all change? That requires some explaining. In 1991, my father was a participant in Operation Desert Storm and was among the soldiers pulled to provide aid to the Kurdish refugees that had fled Kurdistan into Turkey. He always carried with him the things he saw there, though this is really just the catalyst that lead to the real issue. Fast forward a decade or so and my father is out of the military and the United States was just attacked by al-Qaeda. A few years later and the United States had invaded Iraq and Saddam was quickly deposed and the country occupied.

I cannot even remember the exact conversation that was had, I was young and I didn’t pay nearly enough attention — one day we moved out of our apartment and into my mother’s house, a little while later and my father was gone. In his civilian career he worked in construction which provided him with a set of skills which were in high demand. He figured that with his experience in the Army he would be alright, and he didn’t want to sit idle when he could still be of use. More than anything, he told me that he wanted to help rebuild the country. He told us the story about the Kurds and what they had suffered under Saddam, and about the general state of Iraq. I’m not sure I was ever included in any serious discussion beyond him informing me that he had gotten a job working in Iraq. He was a civilian contractor for KBR. Say what you want about them, but the work my father did for them ultimately provided running water to places in Iraq which had none. It was apart of the bid to rebuild the country, to make amends for the fact that we had just freedom’d all over their faces with bombs.

The infrastructure was shit and Saddam had cut off water to alot of places in the country from what I was told. They were also responsible for providing the plumbing for the bases which the American’s were erecting. He was in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, and then he volunteered again to go to Afghanistan in 2006. His stay in Afghanistan was cut short because he got a really bad infection and he ended up being sent home for medical reasons.

2007 was the first time he was actually in the country for the Fourth of July since 2003. We had no idea what was going to happen, but my mother wanted to celebrate. We all loaded up into our cars and went out to the lake. My father never really talked about what he had seen and what had happened in Iraq and Afghanistan before that day, it was the day that changed everything for us, really. Likewise, we never knew that he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder until that day. The combination of the fireworks and children screaming resulted in him breaking down entirely. I had never really seen my father cry before, and that day the strongest man I had ever known was curled in the fetal position in the back of the car bawling and shaking uncontrollably. It wasn’t until we were far away from the Lake that he calmed down enough to tell us what had happened.

He informed us that one year in Iraq he was in a convoy out of Baghdad during one of the Islamic holidays when a suicide bomber struck. The bomber ended up killing a bunch of civilians, including a bunch of children, which was the source of the panic he experienced. Celebrating the Fourth of July ever since that has been something of an experiment. He has good days and he has bad days. One year he even purchased fireworks and set them off, but he had to leave and go back inside after awhile. The combination of certain words and the sound of the fireworks triggers memories and puts him on edge. Sometimes just the sounds of the constant explosions and projectiles being fired into the air by other people is enough to set him off.  We don’t really do fireworks anymore and we typically stay inside on the fourth. I’m not disappointed or ashamed of this; he sacrificed more than he had to, for a country that was not his own, to try and better the lives of people that were not his own. He may not have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, but that does not subtract from the service he gave or from the wounds he suffered. There are few people that would volunteer to go to a warzone without a gun.

So while you celebrate The Four of July, please take a moment of silence to remember those that have sacrificed for this country — to remember that somewhere out there tonight, there are veterans of all types suffering in silence as the sound of fireworks brings back memories of the time they spend abroad. Honor the sacrifice they have made, be safe, be smart, and be courtesy. I’m not saying that you should not have fun, just to take a moment of your day to remember those current serving overseas, those that did not survive, and those that did.  If you know anybody who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, be with them tonight — even if they do not show signs of it, they could be suffering in silence. The Fourth of July is a hard day for alot of people I know, because so many people have friends and family who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan now, and even as I write this my own step-father is currently deployed in Afghanistan.

Thanks

From the bitter cold winter at Valley Forge, to the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq, our soldiers have courageously answered when called, gone where ordered, and defended our nation with honor.” – Solomon ortiz