Sunday, December 1, 2013

The One Where Vic Blogs About World AIDS Day

Today is World's AIDS day. The theme is "Getting to Zero."

Have you and your loved ones been tested? Regardless of how committed you are to each other, being tested is still important.

AIDS and HIV have really affected me, I have lost people to it and I currently have two of the most precious people in my life living with (not dying from) the HIV disease. They are two of the strongest, most amazing men I know and I love them very much, but because of them I make sure that I get tested whenever I can. Because of them I am even more diligent about being tested. Because of my friend, Justin, who died from AIDS, who was fully committed to a man who was not fully committed to him, I am fierce about making sure I NEVER leave my house without a condom (or two or three-because let's face it, it's me) and that I always get tested.

Today is the day when the entire world turns its attention towards this very serious, fatal disease and we focus on how to cure it, how to end it, what we can do to educate each other on it. And I want you, my readers, my author friends, family, friends, acquaintances, etc. to be safe. So if it's been a while, go and get tested. If you know that someone needs to be tested, volunteer to go with them. But let's work towards getting the number of those living with HIV and AIDS down to zero.


Friday, November 29, 2013

The One Where Vic Blogs About A Special Christmas Request for Someone Else


Okay, you guys know me. I donate. I'm a giver. I'm not perfect. I never pretend that I am. I don't judge. I don't condemn, criticize or judge. I give back. I try to make the world a better place. I forgive those that hurt me and I move on. I want to be a world changer. I always have been. I want my daughter and any other children I have to be proud to have me as their father. I said all that to say this:

I just heard a story and I want you all to get involved. The Christmas season is coming upon us and I know everyone is probably scrambling around buying presents last minute for family and kids, but I'm asking you, if you can to help out these two very special causes.

The first is a young girl: Naidelin, 11, who lives in South Carolina. She has cystic fibrosis. The doctors have given her six months to live. Her family is poverty stricken, her older sister and her four children live in the home with Naidelin and her parents. Naidelin can no longer attend school and has an IEP where tutors/teachers come out to her home to teach her, however after about 1.5 hours she is struggling for breath and in pain and it becomes too difficult for her to continue. Her parents are barely able to pay for their bills and Naidelin's hospital bills which means that Naidelin will be going without Christmas presents this year. Naidelin likes Hello Kitty, SpongeBob SquarePants, she is in the sixth grade and focusing on math and english (so any of those helpful toys/electronics would be great), she hates baby dolls and barbie dolls, likes batman, and wants a blanket.

The second is Morningside Middle School in South Carolina: This school is in desperate need of computers. It is a Title One school. Many of the female students there aspire to growing up, having children and getting on welfare because that's what their mothers did and they barely know better. However, they have a few teachers there now who are teaching them that they can aspire to better, but there is a new policy that is going to be coming into play that is supposed to help them, but it will only benefit schools that have computers, because instead of allowing students to breeze through school and just guess at the right answer, multiple choice questions will disappear and students will have to show their work. Morningside does not have enough computers at their school and many of their students do not have the comprehension to be able to speak or write to be able to use one to be able to use one efficiently. I want to be able to supply this school with some computers. They don't have to be top of the line, but I think it would be awesome to either send the school a check from "The GLBTQ Community" (LOL) or buy a bunch of computers and have them just be delivered or something (Unless someone lives in South Carolina and can deliver them?) I'm thinking if we can donate about 5 or 6 computers that will go a long way to helping that school which is about 1300-2000 if we don't get top of the line.

If you want to help out, you can send the gifts:

                    Vicktor Alexander
                    For Naidelin
                    5549 Black Hawk Lane
                    Lakeland, FL 33810

If you want to help out Morningside Middle School, address the checks TO Morningside Middle School (DO NOT address them to me, I don't want to be responsible for that) or buy a gift card to Best Buy or Walmart.

If you can't help, I completely understand, but for those of you who do something, even if all you do is send a Christmas card to Naidelin or something to the kids at Morningside, thank you so much. I appreciate you. I'll keep you all updated.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Transgender Day of Rememberance

From the NBJC:


On this day, thousands will gather across the globe to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). It is on this day that the world will pause to honor and remember the lives of our loved ones lost due to anti-transgender violence.  Many of those whose names are sounded on this day will never be recognized by the mainstream media--meaning the public outrage over their senseless deaths will never take place. Today, we say their names for the world to hear. Today, we speak out about the heinous crimes being committed against a whole segment of our community. Today, wehold accountable the perpetrators of those crimes, the failed justice system investigating those crimes that are still unsolved, the media outlets that mis-gender and disrespect the victims of those crimes, and society for failing to create safe and affirming climates, thus making such crimes possible and acceptable. 


According to a 2012 study conducted by theNational Coalition Against Violence Projects (NCAVP), transgender women and people of color encounter the most severe forms of violence. In fact, the report found that 53.8% of anti-LGBTQ homicide victims in 2012 were transgender women. This is a considerable increase from 2011 (40%), and continues a three-year trend of disproportionate and severe violence experienced by transgender women.


However, these lives are not lost in vain. As we gather in community to remember our fallen, we must own this platform as an opportunity to take action. Allies and trans people together must continue to support efforts from organizations such as the National Black Justice Coalition, the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC), theNational Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the National Center for Trans Equality (NCTE), alongside the many more individuals and organizations that have dedicated their time, efforts and resources to the wellbeing and equity of trans people of color.


As we pause to mourn today, we must also remember that there are trans women and men making amazing strides toward true equality for our community every day. From trailblazers like Janet Mock and Laverne Cox, uplifting the authentic stories of Black trans women in popular media, to Kylar Broadus, the first transgender person to testify before the United States Senate, to historians and icons like Valerie Spencer, Monica Roberts and Earline Budd, who work had to ensure that the lives and stories of the Trans community are not lost. These few out of the many are examples of why we must celebrate all members of our community every day. Progress like the recently Senate-endorsed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that seeks to protect the rights of lesbian, gay AND trans individuals in the workplace would not be possible if it were not for the tenacity and resilience of the transgender community.

This week there are numerous events around the world honoring and remembering our departed. Today, the NBJC family will observe Transgender Day of Remembrance at theMetropolitan Community Church, which will also recognize local trans community leaders and allies. Join us at 6:00 pm at 474 Ridge Street NW, Washington, DC 20002.


For a full list of worldwide events, visit TDOR Events and Locations 2013.


The NBJC family will stand in solidarity with our trans brothers and sisters as we fight to eradicate transphobia and end the silencing violence against members of our community.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The One Where Vic Blogs About Quitting

I am not a quitter.

I've never been one who just quits without thinking about it and having no other option but to walk away. I'd much rather be kicked out than to walk off and find out that I could have stayed around.

I'm also not very emotional or sensitive.

I've been through way too much in my life to be mired down in emotions. You can't go through the hell I've gone through and be emotionally sensitive. And I've endured a lot. The end of an eleven year friendship over a guy who wanted to have both me and my friend at the same time so he lied on the both of us to each other. I've survived hell, gossip, lies, criminal activity I've done and that I've had done to me, I've survived losing my family and I've survived getting them back, I've survived medical problems, losing people I thought cared about me, finding out that some people just are not trustworthy no matter how "nice" they seem, I've survived heartache, heartbreak, and everything in between.

But for the last two weeks I've thought seriously about quitting.

No, not quitting life, quitting writing.

I really got sick of the pettiness, the lying, the gossiping, backstabbing, the negativity, and the "clique" mentality. It weighed heavily on my soul. I couldn't take it. Not the two-faced behavior or the superior attitudes. I couldn't write because every time I sat down to do so I was bombarded with tweets, Facebook statuses, blog posts, reviews, etc. not necessarily about me but about other people, other authors, bloggers, reviewers, readers... I have teased with other authors about having graduated from high school over 12 years ago but it's not a joke. I didn't want to deal with it.

I've learned the beauty of forgiveness, second chances, and moving past a hurtful incident just in dealing with friends and family over the past few years but how do you handle an environment that's constantly toxic?

My thought for a week and a half was to leave it. Walk away and never look back. That's what I was gonna do. This was gonna be my last year as an author. I was going to shut down everything and just turn to something else to do with my life.

Then, while talking to an aspiring author who is a friend of mine, who really just encouraged me, I realized that the best way to try and handle a toxic environment is to take your medication to build up your immune system and then go into that toxic environment and change it from the inside out.

So, I didn't tell anyone besides those who needed to know that I was thinking of quitting, but the encouragement I got from those who didn't know was just as refreshing and beautiful as the encouragement from those who did know.

So, while my soul is still battered, and my spirit is still bruised and my heart is still a little broken I have decided not to quit writing.

Thank you to those of you who have supported me tirelessly and unconditionally. Thank you to those of you who encourage me daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly. And for those of you who have decided to stick by me after either having to forgive me or having to ask for my forgiveness, thank you.

And to every author, blogger, reviewer, and reader who has thought, is thinking, or will ever think about quitting this genre because of all the nonsense and negativity, remember that there are just a few bad apples, but the whole bunch isn't bad. We have to stop walking away and taking away the goodness because of the badness out there. If anything, we need to stand together more and make that light shine brighter.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

-Vicktor A. B.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Never Forget

I will never forget.

It is a day etched in my memory.


I awoke after a night of drinking and sex, dazed and running late for my theater class at USF. I rushed to class noticing the lack of students out. When I arrived in my class the television was on and the class, usually full of energetic dramatists stood silent as they watched the horror unfold on the screen.

I thought of my friend, Justin, who lived in the city and my grandfather, aunt and cousins who lived in Harlem. I was afraid. I was angry. I was sad. But even more than that I was determined to do what I could to ensure that America stood strong.

I had a roommate who was in the Air Force who was immediately recalled and prepared to go to war. I had friends who were in the marines and the army who I can no longer speak to because their lives were lost. I have friends who fought, a stepfather who fought, in the military who will never be the same again.

Those acts of terror had far-reaching and permanent effects upon this nation and yet, even in our most difficult times we are a nation who will continue to persevere. We are a Phoenix rising from the ashes of despair, pain, fear, and grief to be a nation forged by fire, made of steel and wearing the beauty of our scars with honor and dignity.

My thoughts today turn to those who lost their lives on that day and days following on a day of terror. I remember and honor the officers and firefighters who jumped into the fire to rescue all that they could, many who ended up losing their lives. I offer comfort to those whose lives were affected and changed by the events of that day. I stand with the soldiers who took an oath to protect and defend America at any cost. And I join hands with a nation too strong to buckle or fall to terrorists.

We will never forget.

Where were you on 9-11-01? And how will you remember those who were affected?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

L'shanah tovah tikatevu ve techatemu

The One Where Vic Blogs About A Time To Kill

This is going to be a tough post to read and may trigger those of you with a history of abuse, rape, assault and/or racism.

Have you all seen the movie A Tine to Kill? It stars Matthew McChonahey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Ashley Judd. It's a hard hitting, emotionally wrecking movie about the trial of Samuel L. Jackson who is facing murder for killing the two men who brutally beat and raped his eight year old daughter.

The first time I saw this movie I was young. It made me angry. It made me cry. It made me want to become a lawyer so that I could help to change the world for the better like Matthew's character did.

Listening to the movie now as an adult it just makes me sad. Why is it that now in the year 2013, this stuff is still happening? Children being beaten and raped, parents put on trial for defending their children.... Black men put on trial for something that a man of another race would have gotten away with?

I don't want to make this blog a "race card" one or one where I bemoan being a gay, black man in America, but the reality won't go away even if I stop talking about it. I have had people who have turned their backs on me for whatever reason only for me to find out from someone that it was really the whole "black thing" (and I'm quoting one person here). And I could put those people on blast here, but I won't. The main reason is that I hate gossip with a passion and that's not really my personality. But I think that when you don't really want to be in someone's life it's easy to walk away from them. Especially if you were looking for a reason to do that anyway. When you're uncomfortable with someone or an aspect of someone's life then the smallest thing will give you that "out" you've been looking for.

In the movie A Time to Kill the city in Mississippi where this took place was looking for a reason to explode. Racial tensions were high for a long time and while blacks were persecuted and attacked for the most part it was looked over, one of the police officers was in the KKK, for fuck's sake. That isn't uncommon it happens a lot, especially here in the South. While many of us would be appalled if something like that happened today, we've become desensitized to other atrocities and horrors being inflicted upon others. We've stopped gasping and crying when we hear about a rape, about a woman or a man being in an abusive relationship, about a child being molested or kicked out of their home for being gay, or someone being murdered.


Is it all the violence in our movies, our books and on our television or are we like Samuel L. Jackson in the movie and are so jaded by the justice system that we no longer have any faith in it?

Or maybe it's because it's not personal to us anymore. There used to be a time when we imagined ourselves or our loved ones in every situation, it made us compassionate, it made us loving people full of understanding and willing to forgive and help others. Have we stopped doing this? Why? And how do we get back to being a people who are affected by the world around us and compelled to make it a better place?

Maybe we should do as Matthew McChonahey said and close our eyes and imagine the person hurt, killed, raped, assaulted, on trial, abused, or kicked out is white or in my case, black. Maybe then we will go back to being affected by the news stories of real life events taking place around us and not just the movies based on them.

Some of my favorite parts from the movie:
Jake Tyler Brigance: We're going to lose this case, Carl lee. There are no more points of law to argue here. I want to cope a plea, maybe Buckley will cop us a second degree murder and we can get you just life in prison.
Carl Lee Hailey: Jake, I can't do no life in prison. You got to get me off. Now if it was you on trial...
Jake Tyler Brigance: It's not me, we're not the same, Carl Lee. The jury has to identify with the defendant. They see you, they see a yardworker; they see me, they see an attorney. I live in town, you live in the hill.
Carl Lee Hailey: Well, you are white and I'm black. See Jake, you think just like them, that's why I picked you; you are one of them , don't you see?. Oh, you think you ain't because you eat in Claude's and you are out there trying to get me off on TV talking about black and white, but the fact is you are just like all the rest of them. When you look at me, you don't see a man, you see a black man.
Jake Tyler Brigance: Carl Lee, I'm your friend.
Carl Lee Hailey: We ain't no friends, Jake. We are on different sides of the line, I ain't never seen you in my part of town. I bet you don't even know where I live. Our daughters, Jake; they ain't never gonna play together.
Jake Tyler Brigance: What are you talking about?
Carl Lee Hailey: America is a war and you are on the other side. How's a black man ever going to get a fair trial with the enemy on the bench and in the jury box?. My life in white hands? You Jake, that's how. You are my secret weapon because you are one of the bad guys. You don't mean to be but you are. It's how you was raised. Nigger, negro, black, African-american, no matter how you see me, you see me different, you see me like that jury sees me, you are them. Now throw out your points of law Jake. If you was on that jury, what would it take to convince you to set me free? That's how you save my ass. That's how you save us both.

Jake Tyler Brigance: [in his summation, talking about Tonya Hailey] I want to tell you a story. I'm going to ask you all to close your eyes while I tell you the story. I want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to yourselves. Go ahead. Close your eyes, please. This is a story about a little girl walking home from the grocery store one sunny afternoon. I want you to picture this little girl. Suddenly a truck races up. Two men jump out and grab her. They drag her into a nearby field and they tie her up and they rip her clothes from her body. Now they climb on. First one, then the other, raping her, shattering everything innocent and pure with a vicious thrust in a fog of drunken breath and sweat. And when they're done, after they've killed her tiny womb, murdered any chance for her to have children, to have life beyond her own, they decide to use her for target practice. They start throwing full beer cans at her. They throw them so hard that it tears the flesh all the way to her bones. Then they urinate on her. Now comes the hanging. They have a rope. They tie a noose. Imagine the noose going tight around her neck and with a sudden blinding jerk she's pulled into the air and her feet and legs go kicking. They don't find the ground. The hanging branch isn't strong enough. It snaps and she falls back to the earth. So they pick her up, throw her in the back of the truck and drive out to Foggy Creek Bridge. Pitch her over the edge. And she drops some thirty feet down to the creek bottom below. Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she's white.

Friday, August 2, 2013

You Just Don't Understand....

I don't know how many times I've uttered those words since the murder of Trayvon Martin to my "non-ethnic" friends and authors. It isn't that I'm trying to be patronizing, or even that I'm suggesting that they can't be understanding, compassionate, and sympathetic. It's T.A. Chase who actually told me about the death of the young man via-Twitter. But what I am saying is that the anger, the sadness, the fear that I feel is something that is only shared by other African-Americans in this country.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm very honest about my community. I know all about the alarming number of black-on-black crime that takes place every day and that is something that we as a community needs to change, but here's the difference between that scenario and what happened with Trayvon Martin: when a black person kills another black person, they go to jail.

Period. End of story.

As a matter of fact, here in the South especially, if a black person kills anyone they go to jail, or in the case of Marissa Alexander, who had a restraining order against her husband, Rico Gray, for previous incidents of domestic violence, just firing a warning shot can get you 20 years.

Yes, firing a warning shot, not shooting someone or even killing them, can get you locked up.

Now, I'm not saying that I know all of the details of the case. I only know what's been reported on the news and what was said in the trial, but even with that, I feel that George Zimmerman should be in jail. The Stand Your Ground Laws in place here in Florida, and 20 other states, is dangerous if it's not modified for clarification and to prevent this from happening again. What's to stop someone from confronting someone else, engaging in a fight and when they start to lose, pulling out a gun to shoot that person and getting away with it?

George Zimmerman did.

And I know here in this country we move from one sensational news story to the next, paying the barest amount of respect to those who lost their lives, before we're jumping onto what celebrity is sleeping with what celebrity, but for me, and others of the African-American community, what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family haunts us.

We are angry, hurt, disappointed in the justice system that sends so many of our innocent boys and girls to prison or death row even with the evidence states that there's reasonable doubt or even that we're innocent (Troy Davis is a prime example), and we're scared. What's to stop people in these states from simply having an open season on black men and women and claiming that they were standing their ground? You scoff and say that this wouldn't happen in this country. This land of the free and home of the brave. But who is really free and who is really brave?

Is bravery, Michael David Dunn, who gunned down four innocent black teens in their SUV at a gas station, killing Jordan Davis who is now using "Stand Your Ground" as his legal defense which states that he only had to "perceive" that there was a threat to his life in order to open fire? John Phillips, the prominent attorney who's representing Jordan Davis's family in its civil suit against Dunn said in an interview "In Florida courts, you don't need to be right; you just need to believe that you are."

Doesn't that just sound delightful?

I was talking to my friend, Ryan P. who lives in Florida and whom I've known since freshman year of high school about the Trayvon Martin situation and had to remind him of our history when he told me to "just get over it." Ryan was in the classroom with me, Angel, and Justin, when there was an announcement made over the intercom about keeping the students in the classroom because there was a "situation" taking place out in front of the school. That situation? The KKK was riding through the streets yelling out for the "niggers" to be sent out so they could be "taken cared of."

My friends and I all lived in fear for weeks after that.

This is my reality. No matter how educated my speech, no matter how I dress, no matter what music I listen to, what colleges I attended, no matter my IQ, or even the fact that I'm a published author, when people look at me the first thing they see is that my skin is brown. I'm catalogued as being "black" before I'm even catalogued as being a "person" and in the state of Florida, in the South, that's dangerous.

I couldn't believe Ryan's words to me, I think that probably hurt more than the comments made by other people, that it was "good" that Trayvon was killed because that's another "thug" gone or even that slavery should be brought back to this country so that blacks will be "protected" by their Masters.

I shit you not, that's an actual comment.

I asked Ryan if he remembered Black History Month our senior year in high school. We didn't learn about black history in any of my schools here in Polk County until the last day of the month of February, where we were taught that blacks were brought over on the slave ship, most of us were treated well by our owners, Harriet Tubman got a lot of slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves during the Civil War, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, Martin Luther King, Jr. marched and now racism is a thing of the past.

Black History 101 in Polk County, Florida.

But our senior year of high school, I was so annoyed with the lack of teaching in my history classes I asked my teacher if I could stand up every class and share a bit of African-American history. It took a letter from my mother, my pastor, and my Drama teacher before he agreed. So every class I would stand and share some black history with the class. Daniel Hale, a black man who performed the first open heart surgery. Langston Hughes, Phyllis Wheatley, WEB Dubois, George Washington Carver, these were some of the people I shared with my class and on the last day I stood before my class and shared the "I Have A Dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr with them all. And when I finished I stated quite plainly: "People would have you believe that Dr. King's dream has been recognized but that's not true. Because as long as I am judged by the color of my skin and not the content of my character, I'm still in a fight for my civil rights."

This is why we're so angry, so hurt, and so fearful. Because like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, so many African-Americans in this country, in the south, especially, are judged on a daily basis by the color of their skin and not the content of their character. Not by their actions but by the actions of others. Not on their own merit but on the racist, discriminatory, prejudice beliefs of the society in which they live.

While being transgender and gay can get me attacked and even raped in this country by those who think I am an abomination, being black can get me killed. And that's not an exaggeration, that's just the cold, hard truth.

I have shared pieces of myself with those around me. Very few people know most of my whole life story, I share as I feel comfortable, as I feel I can trust someone and no one knows everything that has happened to me, been done to me, that I have done, besides me and YHVH. I protect myself in that way, but one of the biggest things I don't really share is what it feels like to be black in America. That people expect me to be ignorant, a thug, on drugs, in a gang, an animal, uneducated, ignorant, poor, on food stamps and welfare, and always pulling out the race card. Just waiting to blame the hardships of my life on white people and not taking responsibility for my own actions.

Ha! I laugh at that.

It's because of that I don't tell friends about going into stores and seeing white women clutching their purses, or getting in elevators and getting watched carefully while they try to scoot away from me. It's because of that I don't talk about the way I'm talked down to as if I'm stupid, or about the way I'm followed around no matter what store I've stepped into. I don't talk about the slurs I hear muttered beneath the breath of people who think I'm beneath them just because my skin is darker. A person can only be called "nigger" so many times before they become numb to it.

I pointed out to Ryan that he would never truly understand what it's like to be reminded on an almost daily process that your life is inferior to someone else's because your skin just happens to be darker. He asked me why I had never shared this with him before and I told him that I didn't want to be the person who constantly pulls out the race card or makes it seem like everything is about race. I know that it isn't, but I also know that some things are. A lot of things are. Because of that I can't just "get over" something like this.

If Trayvon had been white would I still be writing about his murder? HELL YES!

The murder of a child, because by law Trayvon was still a minor as he was only 17 years old, he still had a long life ahead of him, is wrong and should be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Which in this case it was.

I know, I know, I've just rambled this whole time and now I'm saying that the law was followed? Yes. The State of Florida has a "Stand Your Ground" law that made George Zimmerman's murder of Trayvon Martin, legal. Remember what John Phillips said? Yeah, the law is on the side of anyone who says that they thought their life was in danger. And the worst thing is that in situations like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, the witness to the crime, someone who can provide another side of the story, is dead an unable to speak for themselves. And more often than not, their lives are put on trial. They are painted as thugs, drug users, troubled teens on the way to becoming felons, murderers, rapists and gang members. Even if they were nowhere near that path in life.

I've done drugs before. I think I've share here that I was an addict for about six or seven years with three instances of "falling off the wagon." However, I am not a thug. I laugh when someone tells me that they thought I would be one. Even as an addict I watched the History Channel for fun, listened to jazz music, got almost straight A's in school (when I was there), and volunteered in my community. But had someone confronted me in the gated community that I live in with my family, and when they started to lose the fight that they initiated and then shot and killed me, it would be my life on trial and I would be found guilty and my murderer would get off.

Guilty of what?

Guilty of being black.

Yes, that's an actual thing. It's not on any books officially, at least not stated in those words, but it exists and those who are honest about the world in which we live, about our nation and about the fact that racism still exists, acknowledge that it is as well.

And yes, I'm venting my frustrations, my anger, my hurt, my disbelief that in 2013, with a biracial president, someone who is half-black in office, this is still a battle that we are having to fight. It hurts me to know that I had to call my daughter and tell her to try to stay off the streets at night. I cried when a reader, who has biracial children, told me that she had to tell her sons that when the world sees them they will see black men and instantly peg them as thugs. I wanted to throw something around the room when another reader told me that she had no idea what to say to her sons but that she wanted to lock them in the house with her and keep her eye on them at all time so that they wouldn't become the next Trayvon.

How is this okay in this day and age? How can we go about our lives knowing that there are people who are having to live their lives in such a way and still insist that our society is not in need of change? Are we as a society so delusional?

So what can you do? Well, I figure if you've read all the way to this point that you want to do something to help. There are a number of petitions floating around in the air, either for a civil suit against George Zimmerman or for Florida to modify it's Stand Your Ground laws. I am having my sister copy and paste the links here:

And after you do that what can you do? Well, one of the biggest things is to assess yourself. Change begins with one person. When you see a black person, a hispanic person, a person of an ethnicity different from your own, what is your initial reaction? If it's anything other than something either flattering or outside of the color of their skin, if you have an instinctive reaction to clutch your purse or your wallet, to move to the other side of the street, to lock your doors, to expect them to speak ignorantly, then there's a change that needs to be done withing yourself. Trust me when I tell you that I had to do this very thing myself. It's hard to realize that you have some preconceived prejudices about a race or a group of people based on what is shown on television. In my case, it's worse when it's the very community that you come from.

See if there is a march for Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis or against the Stand Your Ground laws taking place in your state or your area. If so, march or contact the organization and see how you can help. If we want to see change in this nation, it's up to us to make it happen.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" Speech: (Bold sections are the parts that have not yet been realized or still hold true today, August 02, 2013 almost 50 years to the day that the original speech was given.)

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon of hope to millions of slaves, who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the colored America is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the colored American is still sadly crippled by the manacle of segregation and the chains of discrimination.
One hundred years later, the colored American lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the colored American is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our Nation's Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our great republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed to the inalienable rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice.

We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is not time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy.

Now it the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now it the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of its colored citizens. This sweltering summer of the colored people's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end but a beginning. Those who hope that the colored Americans needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the colored citizen is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the colored person's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity
by signs stating "for white only."

We cannot be satisfied as long as a colored person in Mississippi cannot vote and a colored person in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of your trials and tribulations. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by storms of persecutions and staggered by the winds of police brutality.

You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our modern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you, my friends, we have the difficulties of today and tomorrow.

I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day out in the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interpostion and nullification; that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be engulfed, every hill shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father's died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!"

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi and every mountainside.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

(Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. August 28, 1963)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

For Christopher

In memory of Christopher B. my fiancé who passed away seven years ago from brain cancer.

I will always love you Christopher. Always and Forever.

Monday, July 15, 2013

We Are Trayvon Martin (A Call To Action)

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I was ten years old when I first heard the story about Emmett Till. A young black man who reportedly flirted with a white woman at the age of 14 in 1955's Mississippi. It horrified me. It made me angry.
Emmett Till: Killed at the age of 14
after flirting with a married white
woman. Beaten, eyes gouged out,
shot and drowned.

It made me want to do something to change the world.

I think that might have been the moment my life became about philanthropy, advocacy and wanting to be a world changer.

You see, I didn't even realize I was black until I was 10.

My parents were in the military and they didn't really talk to my siblings and I about racial differences. About being black in America. About our heritage and our history. You may think that's wrong or that they did us a disservice, but growing up without the stigma of being black over my head was actually a good thing for me.

Because the people in my family are all various shades and ethnicities, some having married in and some born into the family, when my friend, Tiffany, told me that her sister said that people who stay out in the sun get darker, that was my explanation for all of the different shades of the world. I grew up ignorant of racism. I grew up being truly colorblind because of that.

My parents were also big in teaching us to appreciate different musical stylings, languages, cultures, etc. and while I grew up hearing all of this I also grew up watching COPS with my father. And living in America in the early 90s, late 80s, it seemed as it everyone being arrested on the show was a "black male." So I grew up thinking that there was "us" and then there was "black people." It never occurred to me that the reason why my skin color looked the same as some of those being arrested on television was because I WAS them.
Participants in the Civil Rights Movement
at a sit-in being taunted, harassed, and mocked
while having drinks poured on their heads.

When my teacher asked us to create a family tree and pointed out me and two other classmates and told us that we might only get to slavery in our family tree and that it was "okay," I remember the confusion that assaulted me. I asked her why she singled out me and my two classmates and I will never forget the conversation as long as I live.

10-Year-Old Vic: Mrs. Sanders why did you tell me, Greg and Brian that we might only get to slavery?
Mrs. Sanders: Because you're African-American honey and African-Americans were slaves when they were brought to this country and many of them don't have the history of their ancestors. Now, class, I want you to make your family trees as beautiful as you can.
10-Year-Old Vic: -raises hand- Mrs. Sanders?
Mrs. Sanders: -sighs- Yes?
10-Year-Old Vic: What's African-American?
-the class laughs-
Mrs. Sanders: Black, honey. African-American is black. You are black.

A sit-in. A peace protest enacted by
blacks during the Civil Rights Movement
I remember my world shattering in that moment. Black people were criminals. They were on COPS. They got arrested and used foul language and killed people and sold drugs and.... I was one of them? How could that be?

I went home and slammed my bookbag down on the floor, hands on my hips and yelled accusingly at my mother "YOU NEVER TOLD ME I WAS BLACK!"

What followed was a crash course in African-American history. That weekend my parents had my siblings and I watching ROOTS, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, KING, and every other VHS (yes, this was before DVDs and Blur-Rays) they had that talked about black history. I got angry. I got sad. I got disappointed in the country that I had loved so much up until that point. I marveled at the strength that black people displayed. I was amazed at how far black people had come. And then I experienced a rage so fierce that my parents kept me out of school for a few days and showed me the videos of white people that weren't racist that joined in the fight and struggle of blacks and helped them get their freedom and their rights.
A common weapon used against blacks who protested
was being shot with a water hose on full blast. Many
were injured, some died because of those injuries.

When I returned to school I had a new lease on life. My eyes had been opened to the ugliness that surrounded me and jokes I'd heard before from classmates and their parents had taken on new meaning.

Perhaps having my bubble shattered in such a way was wrong to you. Perhaps you think my parents shouldn't have done that. But I much prefer that way than the way I had my first encounter with racism.

When my parents separated we moved from Mississippi to Florida and you'd think I'd have experienced more racism in MS than in FL but you'd be wrong. It was here, in the state that I have moved back to, that I experienced racism so horrific at so many different times that to think of it or talk about it still makes me cry

I was walking home from the bus stop one day when a red truck drove past me. The truck turned
A Freedom Riders Bus is set on fire.
around and came towards me. Inside of the car a group of white teens and older white men shouted words like "nigger bitch," "nigger," and "go back to Africa!" at me. I was confused. I'd never heard those words directed towards me. I'd never lived in Africa. I was American. I was born in Virginia, on a naval base. My parents served in the military. I spoke English. Why were they telling me to go back to Africa when I'd never been there in the first place? When the truck came back up behind me, I was pelted with rocks as the men in the car continued to yell racist epithets and obscenities.

I ran home and told my uncles what had happened and they took off after the men. They didn't catch them, but I was shaken. I cried. I asked my auntie why they had targeted me. My mother was called at work and when she came home I asked her. Why me? Why had they attacked me?

Their words were all the same: Because you're black.

When the KKK showed up at my middle school and called out for all the "nigger children" to be sent outside so that they could hang us from the trees and our teachers kept us in the classrooms, my family's words came back to me.

They wanted to kill me because I was black.

Jim Crow laws restricted blacks and white from using
the same restrooms, water fountains, etc.
When I was in high school and the KKK rode the streets again yelling out for the "niggers" and shouting out death threats, again I heard those words.

They hated me because I was black.

I have grown up and spent my life hearing that because I'm black (or because when people look at me they see a black person-regardless of the fact that I'm multi-ethnic) it gives some people the right to think that I'm a thug, a drug dealer, a drug addict, on welfare, uneducated, violent, an animal, worthy of being hung from a tree, less than other people.

I grew up being followed in department stores, hassled by the store associates. I grew up being asked in every interview if I had a "criminal record" and after I said no having them tell me that if I was lying I wouldn't be hired and was I "sure" that I didn't have a criminal record?

Black men march hold "I Am A Man" signs
I have had people shocked and amazed that I can speak other languages, maybe not fluently but I can speak them. I have had people amazed when I tell them my IQ is 162. They are amazed when I tell them that I've been on the Dean's List, that I read Shakespeare as a child for fun. When they hear my verbose vocabulary they are shocked that I "speak so eloquently."

Why? Am I supposed to continue to perpetuate the stereotype that black people only have a limited education? That we're stupid and all dependent on white people to help us out?

Living in the South, growing up here I got used to the discrimination. To the blanket racism. The subtle hate and prejudice. I got used to the comments. I knew how to hide myself when a member or members of the KKK came into the store and started to taunt or threaten me. I knew that while there were black people in the police department, if I got arrested it wouldn't be them I'd be dealing with.

I knew that no matter what I was guilty until proven innocent. Even if I was the victim.

The Trayvon Martin Foundation
seeking donations and volunteers. Please
Trayvon Martin was a young man with his entire future ahead of him. I mist admit when I first heard about his death, tweeted from a fellow author friend, I didn't immediately get angry, especially when it happened in Florida. I sighed and said: "Damn. They got another one."

You see, I'd grown complacent. I'd started to expect it. It didn't shock me anymore. With the Jena 6, and other black men who have been gunned down by police officers, unjustly arrested, profiled, murdered by whites who then got off, Trayvon's death was, unfortunately, just another dot on the screen to me.

And then it hit me. If I sat back and accepted the fact that this happened every single day, that there were many cases that never reached the media, then I was, in a way, encouraging the actions and the murders. I was tired of being afraid. I am tired of being afraid.

I'm tired of being followed and harassed. I'm sick of knowing that there are people who look at me and think they are superior to me just because my skin is darker. I hate knowing that I live in a state where people can kill an unarmed teenager just because he's black and in his hoodie looks "suspicious."

The infamous hoodie symbol
I have a hoodie. I have a couple of them. I had them before the Trayvon Martin incident and I will continue to wear them. I wear them to stores, around the neighborhood I live in (a gated community in Florida). I wear them to my doctor appointments. I hate knowing that being black and wearing a hoodie at night, or even during the day makes me "suspicious." I hate knowing that still, today, in 2013 I am guilty of "Walking While Black," "Talking While Black," "BREATHING While Black."

"We Shall Overcome" is the anthem of
The Civil Rights Movement. It is still sung today.
Even last year, while sitting outside in New York with a friend, a policeman called for back up because he saw me sitting on the stairs. He kept his hand on the butt of his gun and watched me closely, he and his other cop friend, both Caucasian, as if they were afraid that I, a young, thin, black man, was going to jump down from the stairs and attack them. The fact that I just sat there, listening, drinking my beer and smoking, didn't seem to penetrate their skulls. I was black. I was outside. I was suspicious. I was "guilty of being black."

The March on Selma, Alabama. The first march
came under attack. The second was held the
following Tuesday and 2500 protesters turned
around after crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
The third march was led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and had
protection provided as they marched to Montgomery.

My family and I have gone to stores to shop and had store managers tell their associates to "watch us" because we looked suspicious. My family. My well-dressed, educated family. Armed with credit cards and dressed in high end attire was "suspicious." Why? Because we were a group of black people walking into a department store. Those same managers tell their associates to keep an eye on everything we touch to make sure it's still there if we don't buy it.

It's a serious issue and one that's uncomfortable and one that no one wants to talk about. You see, unless you live it you don't understand it. I have heard people say that this wasn't about race, but it was about race. No, it's not ALWAYS about race, but this time? This time it was. Trayvon's skin made him suspicious. My skin color makes me suspicious. And it's the same for every other black person out there.

Racism is alive and well. It's breathing, growing, forming, changing and adapting to the times. It's hiding in plain sight, but it's still there. It's in the police department, it's in the classrooms, it's in businesses, schools, in the neighborhoods... it's in the highest castes of our government. And if you don't have to deal with it, it fools you into thinking that it's not really there.

Many people think that racism is a thing of the past because our president is half-black, because there are so many black people doing such great things... I'm happy about that, PROUD of that fact, but in the ghettos, in small towns and small counties, in more populated areas, in places like Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Sanford, Lakeland, Orlando, racism is a beast still tearing away at the spirit of a people that has sadly gotten very used to the bites and the tears in their souls to put up much protesting.

"The Little Rock Nine" are the first
black students to integrate an all-white
high school in 1957 in Little Rock, AK
If you aren't black, living with this struggle every day, dealing with the heartache being black in America brings on an almost daily basis, living with the fear, the disappointment in a system that continuously fails you, that calls your children "special needs" in the foster care system just because they're black, you can only empathize with our plight, but you'll never truly understand why some of us are so angry and why some of us have just gotten used to it and stopped fighting. I was one of those people. I accepted it as my due. As my struggle. I knew, when I began my transition from female to male, that becoming a black man in this country was to make me more of a target, was to make me more suspicious, make me more of a perceived "threat" to people that don't even know me. I almost didn't transition and the fear and heartache I experience every day had sometimes pulled me into a pit so dark I thought I'd never climb out of it. I have gotten used to my mother or sisters telling me that my presence in a store caused everyone to tense up when they saw me. I've gotten used to being told that a police officer or store employee is following me around.

Many people posted this image
of Trayvon with this slogan to show
support and to show that anyone, any black
person could have been Trayvon Martin, killed
at 17 years old.
I grew complacent. I grew familiar with the routine. I hated it, but I stopped fighting against the system that still sees so many of us as little more than "free slaves," (a comment thrown at someone that I know).

Well that changes today. Now. Here. I, along with many others, are now standing up to fight against this injustice. We are declaring loudly that what happened to Trayvon and so many others will not be something that we just "get over." We are going to protest. We are going to invoke change. Just as so many did with the brutal murder of Emmett Till, so we too are marching, speaking out, calling on those with the power to change laws. We are invoking change. We are proclaiming loudly and with vigor and strength that:


James Craig Anderson: Beaten and ran over
by a truck driven
by a group of young white teens
who wanted to go and "get a nigger."
I am Trayvon. I am the young black man walking home from the store, attacked by an adult and shot in the heart. I am the young black man going home from my bachelor party and gunned down by police in my car, never to marry the love of my life. I am the young black man dragged behind a truck driven by racist men in Texas. I am the young black men on trial for attempted murder for a school fight sparked by a student hanging a noose from a tree. I am the young black man gunned down by police while reaching for my wallet to show them my ID. I am the young black man arrested for looking "suspicious" in a predominantly white neighborhood that my parents live in. I am the young black man, in college, with a bright future, put on trial for a rape that I didn't commit, only to be released eighteen years later when DNA acquits me and it's discovered that it was actually a white man that committed the crime.

I am the young black teen, followed around in the department store, suspected of stealing when I have more than enough money in my pocket.

I am the black person who is told in snide tones that they can't afford an item of merchandise because the store "doesn't accept food stamps."

A young black woman is arrested during a peaceful
I am the black woman who is raped by white officers who wants to put her in her place and treat her like "the nigger slave she is," who never speaks up and gives birth to a biracial baby.

I am the black student that teachers suspect of being the cause of all the problems in the class.

I am the group of black students who are followed by police officers when walking home from a school event.

I am the young black teen who is told not to walk the streets at night because they might be followed.

A young black boy is attacked by police officers
and dogs during a peaceful protest.
I am the black man who is questioned by police while sitting outside having a smoke at night.

These are things that happen every day in this country. Unjust profiling of a people whose only "crime" is being black. Being darker than other people. Having a heritage that comes from Africa and the

And no, it's not just blacks, it's Hispanics, and Asians, and other minorities, but it happens to blacks more than all of these put together. I heard a statistic that said every day 28 black men are killed in this nation. Some of it is by other blacks, and I acknowledge that this too is something that should be changed, but the number of these murders that is perpetuated because of the color of the man's skin is astounding, alarming and heartbreaking.

T-shirt for support of Justice for
Trayvon Martin. It says "iRefuse To Keep
I am refusing to take this lying down. I am refusing to be another statistic. I won't be another news story and I will fight to protect others like me from being one as well.

Growing up my granny always told me that the Lord would never put more on us than we can bear, and we have borne a lot. But the time for action is now. The time for justice is now. It's not too late to act. It's not to late to stand OUR ground and say


We are Trayvon Martin, a people who are suspicious because we are black.

A young black woman is carried out by police
after a peaceful protest.
We are Trayvon Martin, a people afraid of being followed and gunned down in the street.

We are Trayvon Martin, a people with the knowledge that if someone white kills us, especially in the South, that they will more than likely get off because our pasts will be put on trial.

We are Trayvon Martin, a people who are tried and convicted, found guilty even when we are the victims.

We are Trayvon Martin, a people who are tired of being killed off. Tired of being afraid. Tired of being profiled. Tired of having to tell our white friends and our Hispanic friends and our Asian friends that they "just don't understand" why we're so angry. Why we're so hurt. Why we're so motivated.

We are Trayvon Martin, taking this injustice to the streets. Protesting. Demanding change.

Young black teen holding a sign that
says "Justice."
There is a movement brewing from this. I am a part of it. I am (just as Roland Martin said) turning this moment into a movement. I am inviting you to join with me and with others.

Racism is not biological. Racism is not hereditary. Racism is taught. It is spread. It's in our media. It's being taught to our children in our homes.

Join with us in this fight. Not just against racism, not just against gun violence, not just for a people who are still being oppressed hundreds of years after the abolishment of slavery. Not just for the young teens dying every day or the innocent men being arrested and killed because they were guilty of being black.

Join with us because you see that there's a need for action. Join with us because you see the need to stand with us to protest the death of an innocent, unarmed boy and the family that lost him. Join with us because you're tired of hearing about these stories, mad that they keep happening, sick that there are so many that never reach the media outlets and because you, like me, want to invoke change.

Join with us as we declare "No Justice. No Peace!"

And as we declare that


-Vicktor Aleksandr Bailey

[ETA: I have decided to donate 20% of my profits from the sale of Raising Shawna and Chain Me to The Trayvon Martin Foundation]