BOYZ N DA HOOD? NOT HARDLY!

18815888Someone once argued with me that leaders are born not made. I had to think about that. And I found myself taking note of our young men who seem lost. Is it simply a case of a lack of opportunity? A poor work ethic? A lack of appropriate role models? Or the age-old oppressor – racism?

In looking back, it seems that the great ones always knew they were special – no matter the odds. They had a certain je’nai se quoi. You can’t buy it and you can’t fake it; it must be deep within. After meeting Chris and Dana Pittard, and their cohorts Tony Nelson and Hector Cooley through the written word, you will be convinced that these four young men knew they were special and destined to make a difference in the lives of the people they would touch later in life.

These young Brothers, three of whom are members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., knew what they wanted in life and set out to accomplish their goals. Dana, in particular, a West Point graduate, has had an influence on events on the world stage. He led the efforts to save thousands of starving Kurdish refugees desperately clinging to the side of a mountain top in Iraq. He turned back the threat of ISIS as the recent overall commander of American forces in Iraq. Major General Dana Pittard is currently the Deputy Commander Army Forces Central Command, and as a lieutenant colonel served in the White House as a senior military aide to President Bill Clinton. Dana’s brother, Chris Pittard, is himself an impressive leader – a former Army Ranger and honors graduate from St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio. He has repeatedly been named as one of Texas’ Best Attorneys in the field of employment and labor law, and is a partner in the firm of Forté & Pittard, PLLC. Tony, a Texas Tech alum and ROTC scholarship recipient, is a systems engineer with a major defense contractor; and Hector, who went to New Mexico State University on a track scholarship, specializes in internet security programs.

How did their journey begin? “The Transmanaut Chronicles,” is the true coming of age story of four African-American males just out of college and high school. The Chronicles features the two brothers from El Paso, Chris and Dana, who with their two friends, Hector and Tony, embark on an exciting road trip to California to unleash their own brand of Texas bravado in Chris’ college graduation present – a brand new, 1977, black and gold, special edition Trans-Am. The self-named Transmanauts take on all challengers to their manhood, encounter bodacious women, test the envelope at speeds over 120 mph, face off with L.A.’s finest with guns drawn to their heads, encounter gun-toting gang members, and survive dangers of the deep blue sea to return to Texas with incredible – but true – tales of their journey from boys to men!

Flashbacks, jaw-dropping dialogue, unabashed in-your-face attitude, and rolling humor diffuse tense and sometimes heartbreaking episodes. Set against a backdrop of vibrant Disco fashions, heart-thumping R&B funk and synchronized dancing, the story opens in California – surprisingly with one of the Transmanauts chained in jail! And that’s just the beginning!

The story is told after 30 years when these young men have grown into successful professionals – Chris, the attorney; Dana, the general; Hector, the computer expert; and Tony the air defense systems engineer. Learn how their Road Trip, and their unbreakable bond, changed the life of the beautiful Aurianna, the girl they met on the Road Trip – forever. A twist of fate that nobody could have foreseen!

“The Transmanaut Chronicles,” is a great read, full of humor, and drama with important life lessons for the young and old. Check it out on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, or the Prosperity Publishing website at prosperitypublications.com.

Remember, “Life is not a journey, it’s a Road Trip!” Enjoy the ride! And after you finish reading this amazing story, you tell me which side of the argument you believe. Are true leaders born or made?

Where Have All the Heroes Gone? or Should African American Literature serve as a vehicle to uplift the race and perpetuate a positive image of the culture?

Image Courtesy of: Studies in African American Literature core.ecu.edu
Image Courtesy of: Studies in African American Literature
core.ecu.edu

In the June 1941, issue of Crisis Magazine, Langston Hughes asked the question, “Where are the Black heroes in our literature?” The greatest of all our cultural icons was alluding to the failure of Black writers to create heroes in their works. Hughes went on in that article to elaborate, “Where, in all our books is that compelling flame of spirit and passion that makes a man say, ‘I too am a hero because my race has produced heroes.’”

It is the responsibility of the artist to critique the literature of his or her time and determine if the writing will serve as a vehicle to uplift the race and perpetuate a positive image of the culture. Hughes obviously was not happy with the images portrayed through novels of his time, to include Bigger Thomas in Native Son. Even though Native Son was an excellent written novel and no doubt Richard Wright was one of the great artists of his time, it is difficult to view Bigger as anything other than a tragic depiction of the Black male.

The question then is why have Black writers failed to create positive images of the male when writing of the Black experience in this country? Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois argued that it was not the fault of Black writers but the fault of publishers not willing to publish works that portray the strong Black hero. In a speech given at the 1926 National Association for Advancement of Colored People’s national convention he raised the issue, “Suppose the only Negro who survived some centuries hence was the Negro painted by white Americans in the novels and essays they have written. What would people in a hundred years say of Black Americans?” His conclusion was that they would see only weak men and subservient women. DuBois went on to point out that, “In responding to material portraying positive images of Blacks, the publishers would often say, “It is not interesting to white folks. They want Uncle Toms, Topsies, good darkies and clowns.”

Essentially Black writers were limited in their ability to strike back at the false images painted of Black people and their culture. The only Black writers published were those willing to follow the rules established by the publishing houses. Twenty years later, Zora Neale Hurston observed that publishing companies used their control as a way to dictate the kind of stories from Black writers suitable for publication.

The constant barrage of negative portrayals of Blacks in the ante-bellum south and after the Civil War, right up to the present has had a devastating affect on the race. The irony is that segments of the Black population have internalized these images and now play them out in reality. That is clearly demonstrated through what is termed “Urban Street Fiction”. Much of the literature is nihilistic in theme and holds out no hope for the future. Writers of “Urban Street Fiction” write about the chaos with no consideration for the human dimension. The plots are built around, “you get yours and I’m going to get mine at any cost.” There is no redeeming value only an ugly reality feeding into an age-old belief system that Blacks must be contained because of their bestiality. If one reads these novels and internalizes them as a true depiction of the contemporary Black race, they would be inclined to believe the negative stereotypes painted over a hundred years ago. Many of these books are sitting on the library shelves and are available to children of all ages. How then is it possible to inculcate them with a positive and healthy image of their culture if it is depicted in such a pejorative manner? This is in no way an argument for censorship, but instead a plea for works that counter some of the negative writings.

How many times have you heard the saying, “Our youth are our future?” If then our children are our future don’t we have an obligation to give them an opportunity to succeed? But how can they possibly succeed if they are surrounded by negativity. Some of the rap music they listen to is negative. The urban fiction they read is negative. Often their home environment is negative, and their peer groups reek of negativity. Then how is it possible for them to ever enjoy a positive experience about who they are?

In that Crisis article, Hughes continued, “We have a need for books and plays that will encourage and inspire our youth, set for them examples and patterns of conduct, move and stir them to be forth-right, strong, clear-thinking and unafraid.” Consistent with Hughes’ advice, we must define ourselves for our children in order to alter the destructive direction in which our culture is going. Ralph Ellison, author of the great American classic, Invisible Man, wrote as early as 1944, “The solution to the problem confronting the Negro will be achieved when he (she) is able to define himself (herself) for what he (she) is and what he (she) desires to be.”

Prosperity Publications, an African-American owned publishing company, has taken on the tremendous responsibility to counter these negative portrayals of our race and culture through works that stress positive messages to the world. It is the company’s principal philosophy that knowledge of one’s heritage and culture is key to the sustainability of the culture. If a race has very little knowledge of their history, then they really do not know who they are and therefore are easy prey for those who produce this devastatingly dangerous literature. Again, Hughes addressed this problem, “The negative behaviors and altered mental states of lead characters in literary works (by Black authors) might leave future generations wondering if Black people lacked heroes.” Hughes’ observation in 1941 is still applicable today. A Spanish writer, Mario Vargas Llosa stated, “Literature is the window to view the soul of a people.” If much of our contemporary literature reflects the quality of our culture and our collective soul, then as publishers and writers, we have a great deal of work to do.

Prosperity Publications’ goal is to improve on images of Blacks in literature. Accepting Ralph Ellison’s challenge to define ourselves by telling our stories our way, we can begin to alter the destructive images of our race. With that as our goal, the company will publish works by and about the African American culture that accentuates the strength, beauty, and an enduring love generated by our ancestors for decades.

Please contact us at www.prosperitypublications.com