Posts Tagged ‘change’

Michael Jackson

Posted: January 9, 2012 in Life
Tags: , , , , ,

I decided to write about people who’ve influenced me for an entire week. Each day I will highlight someone who has made a big impact on my life and view of the world.

There’s no particular order of importance to the list of people that have inspired me the most in life, but I have to highlight Michael Jackson first. A man of extreme talent, endless energy, and tireless dedication. I can’t tell you what age I started listening to and watching Michael, but it was probably before I could walk. My mom was always a big Michael Jackson fan and had played his music around me when I was young. My earliest memories of Michael Jackson was of the Moonwalker VHS my mom purchased. I burned a whole in that tape from watching it so many times over the years. I would put on my vest and dress shoes and act out the entire video to Smooth Criminal. I had the entire VHS memorized (and I still know it front to back today).

Michael impacted me in two very distinct ways. The first being that he showed me my first outlets of art and expression, song and dance. I was extremely shy in the area for most of life, but it’s something I always held close and in secret. I love to dance and sing (though I’m not good at singing), and I still do till this day. Being able to express myself in this way has helped in shaping the person I am today. Expression, mainly in the form of art, is what I value most about humanity and life itself. Michael Jackson showed me the first forms of that, and through song and dance, empowered me to share my own gifts and talents with those I love most.

The second way I Michael left an impression on me didn’t come til later on in my life when I began to look into his personal life to see what was behind the entertainer I had grown to love. He was a true humanitarian. Michael’s views of the world, it’s problems, and potential solutions should be something everyone should look at. His message can really be seen in the album History: Volume 2, but sadly it was overlooked.

“I realize that many of our world’s problems today, from inner city crime, to large scale wars and terrorism, and our over crowded prizons, are a result of the fact that children have had their childhood stlen from them. The magic, the wonder, the mystery, and the innocence of a child’s heart are the seeds of creativity that will heal the world. I really believe that.”-Michael Jackson

Below is a short list of various organizations, charities, and events that Michael has donated his earnings and more importantly, his mind and time to. Through song and dance, Michael’s vision was to inject love back into people and the world. That’s inspirational, that’s something people should try to live up to.

AIDS Project L.A.
American Cancer Society
Angel Food
Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles
BMI Foundation, Inc.
Brotherhood Crusade
Brothman Burn Center
Camp Ronald McDonald
Childhelp U.S.A.
Children’s Institute International
Cities and Schools Scholarship Fund
Community Youth Sports & Arts Foundation
Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)
Dakar Foundation
Dreamstreet Kids
Dreams Come True Charity
Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation
Juvenile Diabetes Foundation
Love Match
Make-A-Wish Foundation
Minority Aids Project
Motown Museum
NAACP
National Rainbow Coalition
Rotary Club of Australia
Society of Singers
Starlight Foundation
The Carter Center’s Atlanta Project
The Sickle Cell Research Foundation
Transafrica
United Negro College Fund (UNCF)
United Negro College Fund Ladder’s of Hope
Volunteers of America
Watts Summer Festival
Wish Granting
YMCA – 28th Street/Crenshaw

December 13, 1984: Michael visits the Brotman Memorial Hospital, where he had been treated when he was burned very badly during the producing of a Pepsi commercial. He donates all the money he receives from Pepsi, $1.5 million, to the Michael Jackson Burn Center for Children.

1986: Michael set up the “Michael Jackson UNCF Endowed Scholarship Fund”. This $1.5 million fund is aimed towards students majoring in performance art and communications, with money given each year to students attending a UNCF member college or university.

March 1, 1988: At a press conference held by his sponsor Pepsi, Michael presents a $600,000 check to the United Negro College Fund.

February 1, 1988: The Song “Man In the Mirror” enters the charts. The proceeds from the sales of this record goes to Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, a camp for children who suffer from cancer.

February 1992: Within 11 days Michael covers 30,000 miles in Africa, to visit hospitals, orphanages, schools, churches, and institutions for mentally handicapped children.

July 1992: Michael donated L. 821,477,296 to La Partita del Cuore (The Heart Match) in Rome and donated 120,000 DM to children’s charities in Estonia and Latvia.

November 24, 1992: At Kennedy Airport in New York, Michael supervises the loading of 43 tons of medication, blankets, and winter clothes destined for Sarajevo. The Heal The World Foundation collaborates with AmeriCares to bring resources totaling $2.1 million to Sarajevo. They will be allocated under the supervision of the United Nations.

October 1993: Donated $100,000 to the Children’s Defense Fund, the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, the Atlanta Project, and the Boys and Girl Clubs of Newark, New Jersey.

October 3, 1996: Michael visits a children’s hospital and brings small gifts for the patients during a HIStory tour visit in Amsterdam. A room in the hospital (for parents who want to be with their children) is named after Michael.

September 4, 1999: Michael presented Nelson Mandela with a check for 1,000,000 South African rand for the “Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.”

April 25, 2002: Michael Jackson performed at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at the Apollo Theater in Harlem helping to raise nearly $3 million dollars towards voter registration.

This only scratches the surface to how much time and money Michael humbly donated to help bring peace to the lives of people who deserved it.

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Combating the stereotype habit is just like any other tendency, or addiction. First you should understand how habits are constructed. Habits are just patterns followed repeatedly enough to where it’s almost second nature. It takes three characteristics to make up a habit; knowing how, knowing why, and having the drive to do so. If you can eliminate any one of these traits, you eliminate the habit.

If someone knows why people stereotype and wants to stereotype people, but doesn’t know how to stereotype, it’s not a habit.

If someone knows how to stereotype and wants to stereotype people, but doesn’t know why the do it, it’s not a habit.

If someone knows how and why they stereotype people, but they don’t want to, it’s not a habit.

I will be the first to admit that this is much more easily said than it is done. It is very hard to break people from the habit of stereotyping, just as it is for any other habit because it’s about reconditioning the mind to do something that took years to discipline itself into doing. However it is this simple and you can go about breaking the habit in different ways. You can counter any of the three with a new habit. Having to re-consider why something is done is an easy approach. Commonly, when people are exposed to new reasoning on “why”, they soon loose the drive to do something as well. The how and drive are the hard characteristics to topple, particularly the drive.

Even more, how do you break the habit of an entire nation and society? One theory that has proven effective is disaster. When 9/11 happened most people lost sight of what they saw in groups of people. Everyone lent a helping hand and pulled through the catastrophe. Most people lost sight of why and for a moment in history (until the blame game) people were united in an effort to help their fellow man and woman regardless of what they looked like. As beautiful as it was, it’s just not practical. We cannot have a catastrophe every month until the American people are conditioned. By then there simply wouldn’t be enough people to care.

In my opinion a more practicul start to the solution is attacking advertisers and the media. It sounds so rebellious but when you look at it, they play off the most stereotypes just to push what they’re offering on groups of people. Television networks like BET, Mtv, and LMN play on groups of people of race, age, and gender. Products and advertisers use ways to market toward people all the time. Is it me or is every product marketed towards African-Americans playing urban music in the background? It’s funny and holds some truth, like stereotypes, but look at how serious it is and it’s effectivness. I really hope I have shed some light on the subject and the small steps we can take toward helping the issue. It’s a shame America has so far to go in this struggle. My search for understanding on this subject is far from complete and if you feel I’m lacking in some of things I say, feel free to tell me.  Next time you have a chance, think of an ethnicity and what first comes to mind when you think of it, then talk to someone of the descent. It’s cool to see what you have in common in contrast to what you may already be conditioned to thinking.

What problem can you think of that most people do but most people don’t do anything about? No, it’s not laughing when seniors drool. “Ill be short and sweet…lol…stereotypes!!!” was a topic suggested by a friend of mine so lets talk.

Stereotypes are used by just about everyone who doesn’t live under a rock both mentally and verbally. I say it’s one of the most talked about things but never acted upon because of the vast amount of people who use stereotypes everyday versus those who see it as deviance and doing something about it. It’s almost a new age taboo that’s become such a standard it falls shy of being an everyday commodity.

Stereotypes are harsh generalizations about an entire categorie of people. These  irrational views give people rigid views of groups of people when really there is no direct evidence that people of that categorie should share that generalized trait. Such views as white youth being prone to taking lives in retaliation to bullying or black youth being prone to stealing are so conditioned in society that it is often joked about and those who fall into the categories are exploited. This conditioning builds unwanted attention to anyone who outward appearance fits the description. This also allows for some to get away with deviance when they don’t fit the type by exploiting the idea of stereotypes.  There is also such a thing as positive stereotypes, where a particular group is seen as possessing a good trait among other groups. These stereotypes, such as people of asian descent being good at math or African Americans are better dancers, put an unwanted strain on someone who doesn’t fit the portrayal, or status quo.

Stereotypes, or prejudices, also leads to a scapegoating. Scapegoating is when people of a particular catagorie unfairly blame people of another catagorie for their own problems. Such as when people of lower middle and the working class may feel strain and notice financial change in their world, they may blame people on welfare or even immagrant workers for the strain on jobs and financial woes. It all traces back to those irrational views of a group of people.

So why do we do it so much? The answer is hierarchy (Short and sweet). Hierarchy simply is a system of rank in any society and stereotypes only help to inforce this idea. By enforcing that people in one categorie do one thing and people in another do differently creates a classification, or logical order, of everyone in society. For example, If people commonly agree that African Americans are lazy, what’s going to stop a future employer from turning someone of African descent down for a future job or referring him to a lower, more subordinating employment? If people commonly don’t see Euro-American males in business suits as thieves, what’s to stop a store owner from not watching the guy in the suit and paying attention to the working class Mexican shopping? Stereotypes form and invoke the structure of people’s standing and class in society. When some people have noticed the system, they play up or play down parts of their lives to stand apart from those who are seen as “fitting” the stereotypes.

So what can we do? I was struck recently when my uncle commented on one of blogs and said,”…What do you think of when I say the words “Apache-Indian”? Do you think Doctor, Lawyer, Businessman or Statesman? I would guess you don’t and I ask you to ask yourself why? Your answer is the key to truly understanding and fixing the problem…” It wasn’t until then that I realized the conditioning and habit society has with stereotypes. BUT I am a firm believer that habits can be broken….

I asked a couple of friends to ask me a question about something they see in today’s world that they don’t sit well with. I’ve received good responses and I’m dedicating my next couple of blogs to shedding a different light on some of their views. One of the replies struck me because I hate the way the system is run and I chose this subject first. She writes “Ok, my most recent annoyance with the world is the fact that they are trying to eliminate music from schools. Choir, band, etc. I’m so pissed. In my opinion, music is very therapeutic. 90% of kids who come across a problem, or are just having a bad day, turn to music. They close their door and put on the radio. Some kids want to pertain music as a career. Without music in schools there will be total chaos. What, is it not “educational enough?”

I love music. It helps me cope with stress and just make it through my travels (bus rides can be very long). Music programs have been decaying in the public school system for years now and much of it has to do with funding, but there is more to it. So I do agree but I will use a different approach into what is happening. For those who see holes in my reasoning, please feel free to check me on what I say. This is solely based on my opinions and perspective.

Understand that the public school system is run bureaucratically. What that means is that the system is structured only be the most efficient at achieving their goals. The goal is to have the least amount of kids drop out and have the most number of kids go on to college. This sounds very ideal but I find it to be very idealistic because there is a dark undertone to the structure.

I’ve said in a past blog that public schools lack the unity of the school teachers, parents, students, and communities so if you want to read more on that I suggest reading that blog. https://b4barcus.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/the-problem-with-public-school/ I don’t want to touch on that again. What I see in this system, to get back on subject, is students are reduced to nothing but a number and a score. They reduce the passing scores on tests so more kids can pass such as the SAT and PSSA testing. This only gets students out of schools but it doesn’t mean they are prepared to face what lies beyond those doors and in life. Instead of preparing and educating the youth for life, all they accomplish is pushing these kids out their doors as fast as they can.

To step away from the subject at hand but for good reason I have to touch on American industry briefly (bear with me, it all comes together). America is in the “Information Technology” revolution. Our society is moving away from the industrial-labor society we’ve seen in the last century to the post-industrial society of today. We have moved from producing to servicing the world. What this means instead of back in the day where being in a skilled labor and physical jobs and make a decent living, we now work more with our minds. Our jobs have moved from factories to banks and marketing. These jobs require critical thinking and most importantly imagination.

That’s why, to me, music education is extremely vital to the development of the generations to come. I strongly agree with you in saying that schools may not see it being “educational” enough when all along it is almost fundamental to the development of a healthy mind in today’s society. When the youth feel individualism and expression, their imagination and horizons broaden. To bring everything together, music programs are very vital to developing the imagination and a sense of character in youth to better prepare them for the post industrial society we now live in. The problem then is with public schools being structured to pass kids through quickly, it may be seen as a “waste” to have kids involved in something that doesn’t generate good reports and numbers that schools want to show.

There is much that can be done to help with these problems, but to change the world we must first change ourselves. I hope I shed a little more light in the understanding of the issue, fixing it is a whole different issue.

https://i1.wp.com/www.meredith.edu/music/images/tunisia-flute.jpg

Need vs. Want (Part 1)

Posted: February 12, 2009 in Life
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m putting out a challenge for everyone that reads this blog! Far too many times do I have this conversation and nobody seems to get it. I bet you can’t do this!

I have come to realize through personal studies, findings, and viewing other people in my society that most (90%) people are locked into a serious cycle of dependence. It’s funny to see people strive to be independent, free, and outspoken people and then have their words contradict everything they think. It can be helped if everyone would recognize that have control over everything they do and choose.

Commonly when people hear the last sentence of my first paragraph, because of personal stratification they, often say that “yes, I do have control over my life” or “nobody can make me do anything”. Then, I get into this steady argument about the things we say to ourselves and to others in general conversation that go against what you believe.  I often ask the question “Do you make money or does money make you?”. Naturally most people respond “I make money”, which is completely fine. We all want to “make money” and have it not make us simply because we feel that something like money or other materialistic items should not have dominance over us. In fact, of all the people I have asked this question only two people have answered “money makes me”. It’s the question I follow up with that tends to spark outrage and argument between me and others.

If I then ask “With that said, do you need to work?”, what would you then say? Think about that right now. When we work we participate in an “utilitarian organization” for income and most of us join one to make a living, but is it something we need to do. I have heard many answers to this question, and these are actual responses I’ve received;

“Yes”

“Of course you do because there is lives you have to take care of.”

“I need to work to pay bills. And feed, myself, health insurance, ect. If I could hang out all day I would. If you mean do I feel useless if I’m not working, no.
You make money, but you need to work.”

“Not really… But in order to survive I will work.”

“No let money generate tons of revenue, hahahahahahahahaha”

I’ve heard all sorts of answers from different types of people from this very thought provoking question. All have something in common: work is something people need to do in order to survive. What do you think right now about answering the question? I can tell how some of you may react, maybe you’re saying “no we don’t have to work” but don’t understand why we don’t so again it becomes a thing we have to do. Maybe you haven’t even budged and said “No matter what, we all have to work”. I hope and pray that some of you out there see why we don’t need to work already.

So what happens a lot is that it boils down to “surviving”, where we work to maintain a standard of living, but the serious question is “Do we “need” to survive?”. The answer is actually “no” and to some it’s hard to swallow the concept. Living, survival, and prospering isn’t something we need, its something we “WANT”. Life itself is a want, so how is it that we “need” to work. To me and hopefully to you by the end of this blog, everything in life including life itself is a want, there is nothing that we need.

My personal reading and studies have led me to understand some differences in the Japanese society from our own and what may be the key to why and how they produce cars and other goods the way they do. First understand that the American society is highly based off individualism. We reward those who work harder, study longer, and stand above the rest. It’s why many people see the U.S. in the form of a capitalist nation where higher up in the pyramid you are, the more power and control you have. The Japanese have a different approach to the work system. They work with “Groupism”, where collective organizations work toward a common goal. Their personal interests are tied in with the companies interests so their ambitions are with the ambition of the company. William Ouchi, a business professor, differentiates 5 differences between the societies.

1) U.S. organizations reward and promote people as prize. We typically gain bonuses and salary as a result of individual competition for and at work. However, Japanese organizations hire new graduates together and everyone gets the same salary and responsibility. Usually someone gets singled out for promotion after a couple years.

2) In the U.S., we typically move from one employer to the next to advance our careers. Also, U.S. companies are quick to lay off employees in troubling economic times (as you all know). Japanese companies tend to hire for life and build strong loyalties with workers. If a Japanese worker becomes obsolete, the company will retrain employees for new positions to avoid layoffs.

3) U.S. workers often see work and home as two distinct places, hence “Don’t bring your work home with you”. In Japan, however, the companies play a big part in the workers’ lives. The companies provide mortgages, sponsor recreational activities, and other schedule daily events such as group exercises and yoga for employees. This company/personal interaction also allows for workers and bosses to voice suggestions and criticism respectfully.

4) U.S. workers tend to be specialized in their field, whereas Japanese companies train on a more broad range of company aspects and positions since it is assumed that employee will be there for life.

5) In U.S. industries, the top executives make all the important decisions. Though Japanese companies make decisions, they involve employees in “quality circles” to discuss how decisions will affect them. Also, Japanese executives have smaller salary differences from employees. The modesty in pay also builds closer relationships between execs and workers.

With these five differences I see how Japan can make make an efficient car with low costs within the car’s class. They operate differently than we do. Instead of a pyramid shape like the U.S. with individualistic bureaucracy, they adopt a more football shape to their organization. Its more open to change, flexible. They focus on the goal together as an organization where we tend to meet our goals for our own advancement, which in the end compromises goods.

So which is better? The only trade off I see is the loss of individualism. But what we gain in return is reasonably costly goods, more lifelong employment, and a more balanced society. Are we capable of making the sacrifice? Of course we are, but since it goes against the functions of the big wigs at the top of the pyramid,  it wont be easy!