Competing with the Yin

In Chinese philosophy, yin/yang conceptualizes the existence of the totality of nature as a whole made up of two sometime complimentary parts and sometime opposite. The philosophy dates back to the Yin Dynasty (1400-1000 B.C.). It is key to understand that yin/yang are not separate but actually are complimentary. When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created. When people see things as good, evil is created.


I don’t mean to elaborate on the philosophy behind the yin/yang but only to borrow the concept as a method to elaborate on what is happening within the African American culture. The point to be made here is that the Chinese contrasts exist within most cultures. There is the good and bad, the beautiful and ugly, and the love and hate. That certainly is present today in the African American culture. A couple tragic examples are all that is necessary to demonstrate its presence.

chi-6pendleton-20130130-1The beautiful, the good and the love were personified in young Hadiya Pendleton in 2013 when she traveled with her school band to participate in many of the festivities surrounding the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. “It was the highlight of her young 15 year old life,” Senator Richard Durbin (D. Ohio) said at a hearing on gun violence in the United Senate. Hadiya was an honor student at King College Prep High School in Chicago, Illinois. She planned to travel to Europe in the spring with the school band. Her cousin described her as a “walking angel.” Hadiya was a part of the very best we have within our race to perpetuate the positive image of our culture.

Less than a month after she returned to Chicago from the celebration in the nation’s capital, this beautiful princess was gunned down at a Chicago park. She and about twelve other students had taken shelter from the rain when evil approached the crowd and opened fire, striking her in the back.  In this instance, the hate, the ugly and the evil won out over the beauty, good and love. And when Hadiya died that day a part of all of us died, including the shooter even though he may not recognize her death as his loss also.

One additional incident also substantiates the battle we confront between the good and evil within the Black culture.  This past Martin Luther King Jr., birthday celebration in San Antonio, the city sponsored one of the largest marches in the country. There had to be at least 200,000 participants from most of the communities, organizations, schools and churches not only in the city but surrounding communities, also. It was certainly a show of solidarity and love among the participants. A real sight to behold. We could see, feel and experience the beauty of that day. Other cities had similar events from church services to theatrical dramatizations of that great man’s life.  One can surmise that the Black culture was on display in its entire splendor.


However, that night after the march and on the same street about one mile from the park where the celebration was held, there was a shooting. Two young black men were killed and four others injured. A few more miles from that incident there was another shooting. Later that evening there was an additional exchange of gunfire. It was the ugliness destroying the beauty on display earlier in the day. That seems to be an unfortunate pattern that now defines the totality of the African American culture in this country.

The danger we are confronting is manifested in the yin/yang, and that is at any given point, one of the two will dominate. But there still has to be a perfect balance. In other words if yin becomes stronger, yang is weakened. In Chinese culture, yin characterizes the negative nature of things and yang the positive. Within our culture the yin seems to be gaining momentum. Much of what we read, the programs on television, and the music reflect the yin whereas we get only portions of the yang, with movies every once in a while like Selma and Twelve Years a Slave. If you happen to drive down any inner city street the music you will hear blasting out of the cars will be songs like “I’m in love with the CoCo,” obviously a song about crack cocaine. The yin is on the rise and yang is in retreat.

This past October, nearly a million Black men gathered on the Mall in Washington, D.C. These men represent the good of our culture and they have made a commitment to fight, with all their power and energy, the negative forces we all confront when one of our youth are murdered in gang warfare or shot and killed by America’s many different police departments. It doesn’t matter who pulled the trigger, the result is the same. But we need much more than a million men gathering in one place to pledge their support for change. We must all begin to act in our own way. Not all of us will take leading roles in the fight to save our culture but we all can do something, no matter how small or how large.

As we near the end of what has been a very difficult year for our race with police shootings and gang violence, we should make a pledge to carry out some act with positive implications. As the Executive Editor of Prosperity Publications, my commitment is not to publish any literature that perpetuates the negative yin, but to produce only works that accentuate the positive yang. Our initial publication for 2016 will be Black Is the Color of Love, an anthology of beautiful short stories written by some outstanding writers.  Over the year, we will release at least five works in all genres, along with the six already listed on our website (Prosperity Publications), and hopefully these books will serve as a catalyst for other publishers to do the same. In doing so, maybe we can begin a deluge of books that attempt to make sure the balance in the yin/yang leans toward the latter.


An Unnecessary Attack on Christmas

It appears that one of the major goals coming out of the recent Million Man March, labeled “Equal Justice or Else,” was a call for Black America to boycott Black Friday and every shopping day throughout the entire Christmas season. This appears to be another attempt by Minister Louis Farrakhan and his followers to eradicate the celebration as part of the African American culture in this country. I watched and listened to one of the minister’s attacks on the manner in which most Black Americans celebrate the season. In his peroration, he claimed that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wanted to boycott Christmas after the killing of the four little girls in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing in September 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama. He then made the appeal for all us to boycott this year’s Christmas shopping season in the name of Dr. King. “I’m going to ask us in his name (King) to do something he wanted to do when they bombed the four little girls…he wanted to boycott Christmas.”


For a very long time I did a great deal of research on Dr. King for a course I taught on African American Political Thought at the University of Texas in San Antonio, and I never remember reading from any credible source where it is mentioned that he wanted to boycott Christmas. Since Dr. King was a Baptist minister, who sincerely believed in the teachings of Jesus Christ, I found it rather interesting that the minister made this assertion. Now I am sure that the minister would not make such a claim just to complement his call for a boycott, so if there is anyone who reads this post and can direct me to the passage where Dr. King called for the boycott, I would appreciate receiving it.

Santa-Claus-02-300x300In his speech, Minister Farrakhan continued to disparage those millions of African Americans who are Christians because of the manner in which they celebrate Christmas. According to him, the tradition of displaying a Christmas tree in your home with decorations is comparable to “practicing paganism.” He quoted from the Tenth Chapter of “Jeremiah” as evidence of his accusation. He then referred to gifts that families and friends exchange as foolishness. He claimed that we pay more respect to the “Big fat Caucasian who flies out of the North Pole with a bag full of gifts, and is supposed to come down a chimney that most homes don’t have, than we do to Christ.” The thrust of his message was that we spend money on gifts that leave us in the red after the holiday season, while the merchants make enough money to last them throughout the year.

He then talked about the amount of liquor and dope that is consumed during the holiday. Again, he accused us of placing more importance on the dope and booze than on Jesus. That makes us, according to Minister Farrakhan, part of a heathen and pagan practice.

I guess my question to Minister Farrakhan would be, is this kind of attack on his fellow Black brothers and sisters really necessary? I’m not sure whom he is referring to, but the friends and associates I know consume very little, if any at all, liquor and no drugs. I imagine there are thousands of Black families that celebrate the holiday and consume no booze or drugs.

My family, as is the case with thousands of other Black families, has a tradition of placing a Christmas tree in our home and I really do not appreciate anyone, Black or white, referring to me and all my brothers and sisters who do the same as heathens and pagans. I believe our race has suffered sufficient name calling over the decades that we don’t deserve it from one who considers himself a leader.

Finally, there are millions of beautiful Black Americans throughout the decades who have turned to Jesus Christ for sustenance and salvation, and their worship of Him  is real and necessary for them. Throughout the turbulent years of apartheid, mothers turned to the church and their minister when their husband was lynched or their daughters raped. The minister, in the name of Christ, provided them with the strength to make it through those terrible times. The Christian church has been the pillar of strength for our race since emancipation. The church continues to play that role. So the gifts bought at Christmas are not foolishness, it is symbolic of the love that our people feel toward Christ. It is the giving of the gift that counts, and for that reason it is not foolishness.

If Minister Farrakhan doesn’t believe in celebrating Christmas and doesn’t indulge in gift exchange, we as Christians have no problem with that position. And if the followers of the Nation of Islam want to celebrate Founder’s Day when they pay deference and respect to those held in high regard, we as Christians will wish them well. However, I think it is quite appropriate that we expect the same kind of respect from the Nation when we celebrate Christmas in the manner we choose.