Wednesday, October 21, 2009

FLIPSIDE : Letter to King

I was listening to The Game's last album, "LAX" the other night. More specifically, I was listening to "Letter to King". Of course my mind began to spin while I thought of all the marchers and protesters who devoted their lives to the cause. Our future was made possible through their efforts, however, it seems as though our generation has forgotten. If we have not forgotten, we have definitely acted as though we have.

Every night, news reports tally up shootings and deaths in our neighborhoods. Shootings and deaths conspired by our own neighbors. Perhaps we need a history lesson. Oddly enough, while listening to Letter to King, I was browsing the web and found a "Letter to Mrs. King". What a coincidence? Now I would like to share my findings with you. Catch ya' on the FLIPSIDE.

Thank you Ms. Coretta for the grace, strength, and dignity that you displayed. Since your wonderful husband was assassinated by the bullets of fear and hate. You know they killed him because of their ignorance. Thank you for not allowing bitterness and anger to engulf your very existence. Now that you are reunited with Martin tell him that they are stripping our rights away, day by day, but his fight was not in vain. Tell him that although my generation glorifies drugs, debases black women in song, and calls us vulgar names - that his dream still remains. Our men no longer celebrate our natural black beauty - we have to have long weaves, small waists, and big ole booties. The videos are so degrading, they mirror soft porn. Us Blacks own television stations now, but that's all that's shown. Tell Martin that my generation apologizes for its lack of respect for his legacy and the dormancy of our elders, we might as well call this the Civil Rights of Unmovement Era. Tell him that although we as black people make more than we've ever seen, that we squander it on diamond clad teeth, 24 inch rims, and designer clothes due to our sagging self-esteem. Tell Martin that our babies are growing up without fathers, while the mothers are catching buses just like he remembers. Our children take to the streets in droves, not to march or proclaim the injustice of this nation, but to pledge their gang affiliation. I can't rhyme to this next line. On any night thugs hang out while bullets ring out - not freedom. And yes we continue to be judged by the color of our skin by America but I wonder most about the lack of the content of our character. Advise him that the grand-daughters of the Civil Rights era are making their money as strippers. The Grand-sons of the marchers are ignoring their sons and daughters and hanging and slangin' on corners. They're going to jail in mass numbers, not for protesting, marching, or defying racism, but because they commit illegal acts to gain materialism. Our children are making babies, ignoring education, committing felonious capers, I wish they'd read his Birmingham Jail Papers. Tell Martin that those in the ghetto are not the only ones forgetting his dream. There are those who've forgotten where they came from because of a little cream. Who refuse to give back to the community, because their motto is 'More for me'. They've forgotten how to lend a helping hand, to help their fellow man - all the while thinking, 'If I can make it, they can'. Looking down without offering a leg up, getting on elevators with their noses up. Some of us are even republicans now, but that's a very exclusive black crowd. Striving to get to the top of the ladder, to make their pockets fatter - instead of doing something that truly matters. Leaving the 'hood' in droves and only moving back when Whites buy up all of the homes. Tell Martin that we still like to dance and sing, but not Negro spirituals cuz we've got Beyonce grinding and shaking her thing. Ms. Coretta, this may hurt poor Martin the most - it just may seal the deal, we as a people don't attend church anymore. Cuz we've gotten a little education and found out that God wasn't real. For those of us who still believe, it makes us want to holla, we've got a pimp named Bishop and a Bishop named Dollar. I don't know Ms. Coretta, maybe you'd better not tell Martin that for all that he's done to make us free, equal, and just - that we still migrate to the back of the bus. I'll bet looking down - he doesn't recognize us. We've forgotten how to march, protest, and vote - but be at the club, standing in line for hours - in the freezing cold. Sporting the latest gear; stilettos, hoochie clothes, teeth that's froze, and Tims - driving cars with less tire more rim. Dying to get in so that we can 'shake it fast', drop it like it's hot' - forgetting the respect and dignity that we were taught. I neva' thought I'd think this thought, but please don't eva' give Martin your report.
Ms. Coretta, maybe you should just avoid mentioning my generation all togetha'.
Bitter B
Released: January 31st, 2006

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

FLIPSIDE : Random Thoughts

Dope Boys

Sometimes I forget the world exists
Caught up in another place, another dimension
Not the Twilight Zone, but close.

Bake up the pies, open up the bakery
Cakes all day, assembly line like Lucy
But none of these bitches better be eatin’ off the line!

Trappin’, hustlin’, rollin’,
Joints and blunts serenade nerves to sleep
Waking from the demands of the job.
Where am I? Who am I? What the hell is going on?
If you don’t know, I certainly have no clue
Mind still conjuring meaningless answers

The block loves me like no family of mine
Owe it my life, your life, anyone’s life to satisfy
The block. Don’t flip me like Brutus—

Caesar I feel your pain.

After years of loyalty, betrayed by the streets that raised
My eyebrows mangled by fear and anger resting on my face
The world is mine today, until she decides I’m no longer worthy of her glance.

Monday, October 19, 2009

FLIPSIDE : The "ME" in America

It's amusing sometimes to sit back and soak up society. Tucked away in some small corner of existence, I found a pebble of absurdity among the tremendous heap of large stones that build the foundation of good ol' America. A place where capitalism rules. A place where greed strives. A place where slaves were once held captive, both mentally and physically. A place where overseas wars are funded, but children starve at home. A place where money reigns supreme. There is no place like home.

I often wonder what the big deal is about President Obama's health care plan. Is it so controversial that health care seminars have been mimicking an episode of WWE Monday Night Raw? America has been a place where supposedly everyone here has the right to the pursuit of happiness. After all, this is suggested to be the land of opportunity. Unfortunately in the shadow of capitalism and our neighbors on Wall Street, it seems as though it is the land of opportunity, but only if you can afford to do it yourself.

While a very small percentage of Americans are wealthy beyond belief, there is a hefty percentage of Americans who are not that fortunate. Some are even less fortunate than that. With this in mind, it is disturbing to come to the realization that Obama's health care program is being scrutinized so harshly. What is saddening though, is the sheer selfishness of America. We spend millions on liberating a country who has been trying to kick us out since we've been there. We spend millions on relief efforts for every country other than our own. If you don't agree, I'll just let you think about Katrina and New Orleans. The 5th Ward still looks like Katrina just happened yesterday. When do we take care of home?

The health care debate fits accordingly. The conflict may appear to be about plan particulars and a loss of freedom of choice. It may even seem to be a ploy for "Big Brother" to manipulate and dictate our lives. That's the absurdity that I mentioned earlier on. The basic and idea that is evident here is the overall audacity of the "haves" to think of it as despicable to give a helping hand to the "have nots". I thought that was the whole aspect of charity. Helping out others who are less fortunate. Or, is that only true when its a tax write off? Catch ya' on the FLIPSIDE.

Friday, October 16, 2009

FLIPSIDE : Letter to Ben

Dear Ben,

What's good lil' homie? I noticed that you are from Farmington Hills. That's not too far from where I live. I was watching the evening news last night and I saw your story. I can't lie. I cried a little. They said that you were fighting brain cancer and most doctors had given up on you. I know that you are only 8. It must seem as though the weight of the world is on your shoulders. In spite of all this, I saw you smile. On several pictures, I see you smiling and enjoying life to the fullest. You are a brave little guy. I wonder if I would ever have shown the strength that you posses if I were in your shoes at that age .

As I and probably millions of other people watch your story unfold on the evening news, we all no doubt are wishing, hoping and praying for a happy ending. In the meantime, in the midst of a storm, you respond by smiling and saying how much you miss your friends at school. Alas, the beauty of a child's innocence inspires and softens the most hardened heart. Your friends also miss you as they appear on your website coloring a banner as wide as the chalkboard. The huge banner that says "Get Well Soon Ben" is also filed with the names of all of your adoring friends who miss you dearly and hope for the best.

We've never met, but I feel compelled to write you this letter to let you know that you have the support of a young writer who hopes one day we will meet. Sometime after the treatment from the Burzynski Research Institute has spared your life and you become a cancer survivor, we might have a chance meeting. Perhaps on the way into a local 7-11, I might hold the door for you and notice that it is indeed you. Maybe I'll introduce myself and you'll probably respond, "Do I know you." Then I'll just say not really, but I did write you a letter once. Be strong BJ. Catch ya' on the FLIPSIDE.


Q. Lewis

Thursday, October 15, 2009

FLIPSIDE : Accepting Failure

For years the people in my community have struggled to keep their children out the violence and drugs that plagued our neighborhoods for so many years. It was once a community that was lead by parents who worked collectively to discipline and teach its youth how to survive the struggles of inner-city living and how to make it out into the world. Times have definitely changed.

Everyday I ride down Conner Avenue near the City Airport and see a neighborhood that has lost its motivation to exceed the expectations of the general American public. America already sees inner-city living as futile and unworthy of existence. The only time ghetto living is popular is when its selling newspapers and music. Unfortunately, the youth of my fledgling neighborhood have decided that they will accept their label and strive to personify this label as opposed to breaking through and proving that our community can produce an upstanding citizen. The average person in my community would rather cause trouble than get rid of it. Where did we go wrong?

Directly across the street from the City Airport was once a vacant lot that we used to walk through back and forth to the candy store when we were children. Since then, investors who thought perhaps a small shopping strip could offer our neighborhood some employment and shopping opportunities, built a strip of shops where the vacant lot once was. What a novel idea?

Opportunities for business owners to lease space became available as soon as the construction was done in a few months. Then it happened. Broken windows. Glass in the parking lot. Finally graffiti on the building. Oddly enough, what was once a vacant lot has now become a row of abandoned buildings. When will we learn? Why would you destroy things in your own community?

America has already labeled mine and neighborhoods like mine as a problem that has become unsolvable. It is a direct reflection of the people who live in these neighborhoods. Nevertheless, we navigate through life as though destroying our own neighborhoods with vandalism, violence and drugs is what we were put on Earth to do. It is unacceptable. But, does anyone realize it? Catch ya on the FLIPSIDE.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

FLIPSIDE : Understanding the Struggle

We have the first black president of America. We have multi-million dollar music producers. There are black men and women in high ranking positions in the political arena as well as corporate America. More and more black students are attending and graduating from universities. There are even black entrepreneurs who have built empires from little or nothing to begin with. We have indeed accomplished some astounding and humbling feats that were seemingly unimaginable not too long ago. With this in mind, it is more than certain that the younger generations will not fully understand and appreciate the movement of black success. Will they realize that the struggle was not that long ago?

Less than sixty years ago we couldn't even dine in the same restaurants. We even had to enter the Apollo Theatre in Harlem through the rear entrance in the alley. The Apollo! Will they realize that our entire future was threatened by white supremacists who thought blacks to be less than human and didn't mind treating us as though? Will they read the Willie Lynch letter?

The intent is not to dwell on the past, but the history must be acknowledged in order to fully appreciate the strides of black people in America. Small lessons in black history should be introduced to our up and coming generation so that they do not take the grand opportunities that have been afforded to them for granted. The struggle is what makes you stronger and strength is what will be needed to make it to the highest plateau of what ever endeavour you set out to conquer. Without that you cannot truly enjoy and appreciate the movement of the black community.

Knowledge of the past will allow for the next black president to realize his or her dream and prepare him for when racism sneaks up behind him and draws monkeys and think its a joke. Catch ya' on the FLIPSIDE.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

FLIPSIDE : Thinking Out Loud

Today was a quiet day. Not much going on. So, with the tranquil atmosphere I began to reflect on life. The is a certain ambiguity to life. It would seem that the uncertainty in life would motivate us to strive harder in everything we do, however there is a tendency for us to hold back and become lazy. We lose the tenacity to forge our own avenue into the asphalt that has held us hostage our entire lives. With that in mind, I work hard. When I become tired, I work harder. This is because I know when I'm sleeping, there is a writer writing. I will continue to work harder to hone my craft. For those who have passed on before me and I owe my existence to, I will not quit. Love you granny! Enjoy our conversation and I'll catch ya' on the FLIPSIDE.
In My Granny's Words
All my children, oh I have loved you all so dearly and unconditionally,
Even though I am gone, I want you to always smile when you mention me.
I look down from Heaven and have been blessed with a brand new start,
And though I am not physically with you, trust that I still love you with all my heart.
My sister, oh I know times have been rough for you, but your head must rise,
You must be strong, laugh about the good times and wipe the tears from your eyes.
Don’t weep for me, for I am hand in hand with our creator and free from pain,
Good times and joyous memories is what you should have when you hear my name.
Oh Lord, it’s my time and I accept you as my savior,
To my family I won’t say goodbye, but rather I will see you later.
Love you all.

Monday, October 12, 2009

FLIPSIDE - Obama Drama

We found out the hard way in 2000 that winning a popularity contest does not earn you the right to be the leader of the free world. This was evident when Al Gore had the rug yanked from beneath his campaign as G.W. ignored his vote tally and stole an election that wasn't his. To top off his devilish deed, he tormented us for 8 years with economical miscues and a war that we have yet to figure out the purpose. Then comes Obama. Popular in most aspects of the living, Obama somehow managed to become the first black president of the United States. Did that show progress, or just some people fed up with Bush's unorthodox leadership?

I first thought that it was a sign of progress. then I realize it was nothing of the sort. Two weeks into a presidency that was taken over amid financial chaos, an unexplained war venture, oil prices that moved on up more than the "Jeffersons", and a country begging for change, I saw it. This wasn't progress. In fact it almost felt like a set-up. People were upset that nothing was being done. How quickly did they expect a change? Now the detractors are saying not only did he win because of his popularity, but it was an all together bad decision to vote him in as president. The bid for him to win the Nobel Peace prize just added to this position.

Newspapers, blogs and magazines everywhere are teeming to the brim with opinions that Obama did not deserve to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Some even suggest that he won because of his popularity. yet, others say that most people who voted for Obama don't even support him anymore. That's odd. if that's true, then how could he be winning so many things for being popular? What a contradiction. I've never been on a panel that chose Nobel Peace Prize winners and neither have most of the people who are suggesting that he doesn't deserve it, but they toss around judgements nevertheless. I thought we were making progress, but I see we are still in the same place after all. Catch ya' on the FLIPSIDE.

Friday, October 9, 2009

FLIPSIDE : America's Addiction to the Dope Game

“My man...” Followed by Denzel Washington’s signature grin. Drug kingpin, Frank Lucas is portrayed in the two year – old film American Gangster as being mild mannered, likable and business oriented. Lucas was credited with running the country’s most notorious drug ring which reportedly flooded the streets of Harlem with pure heroine that he imported directly from Asia himself with the help of a few greedy US Army officials. After seeing American Gangster too many times to remember, I decided to search the web to find more information on the Harlem drug kingpin. After finding and reading an article in the New York Magazine about Lucas, I believe Washington’s portrayal may have been on point, but an even more visible truth underlines the movie and the article.

In the article, Lucas talks about some of the scenes in the movie and how they happened in real-life. The two follow closely in comparison. A lot of critics seem to pass the movie off as just another film glorifying drugs and violence. These are probably the same people who blame hip-hop for their child’s lack of education or behavioral issues. Nevertheless, the movie as well as Lucas’ life, solidifies an idea that has been evident throughout most of urban America.
The article suggests that the government knew about Lucas’ involvement in drug trafficking, yet did nothing to prevent it from happening. Supposedly, the authorities were waiting for Lucas to lead them to a bigger source. This suggests to me that the government could put an end to drug distribution to America if it wanted to. It is for this reason that the government’s involvement in America’s drug addiction seems to be obvious. It is saddening in the aspect that the drugs that hip-hop discusses in its music and the violence stemming from such drug issues can be attributed to a government that allows it to happen, yet our culture gets the heat.

In the grand scheme of things rappers, hip-hop, movies and even Lucas have very small roles in an epidemic that has outlived generations of drug induced violence, addiction and subsequent deaths. There is a government presence that will make record companies take a rapper’s music off of shelves and make film producers keep their ideas to themselves. However, there is no government presence that can bring an end to the trafficking of drugs that serve as the penitentiary bars for our trapped society – and the graveyard for our dying community.

American Gangster is a good movie. The acting is good. The story is told beautifully, both cinematically as well as theatrically, but above all else, it is thought provoking. How long has the government known about certain drug trafficking? Why has it known, but done little to slow its deadly invasion of urban America, or is it even a problem as long as it stays here – in urban America? Catch ya’ on the FLIPSIDE.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

FLIPSIDE : Detroit, Politics, and Public School

A room full of unused Blackberry devices. Defibrillators still in boxes ready to use. Textbooks and other school supplies sit idle in a locked room. The unfortunate thing about all of these items locked away in some forgotten office is that everything has been paid for with our tax dollars and has never seen the light of day. Paychecks for people who don’t even work. This is the state of our school system.

When state government decided that the Detroit Public Schools were in a financial mess, an outside source was ushered in to resolve the DPS money woes. That outside source was Robert Bobb. Bobb has been brought in to straighten out the DPS finances and find out just why there is a room housing useful school materials that have never been used for their purpose. Why aren't people upset?

The future of our existence is at risk and Bobb has found some astonishing acts of misuse of DPS funds. Following one audit, it was recorded that many people were using the benefits from DPS issued health care and were not even on the payroll. Some of them were even dead! This is all money that could be used to paint schools, buy books, renovate libraries, save music programs and buy toilet paper. Would you believe that students are being forced to bring their own toilet paper to use in the school facilities? Their own toilet paper.

Bobb along with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy have assured that they will be seeking charges for anyone who has misused or taken money from the DPS. Some seem to think that Bobb has no right. The school board is even trying to take Bobb to court so they can have a say in the direction Bobb is taking. That is a laughable idea. Why would anybody trust the same board of people who have been in charge while all of this mishandling of the DPS finances has been going on?

The odd thing about the situation is that nobody seems to be upset. Where are the angry parents in the community who paraded around town hoisting “I hate Kwame” posters because he cheated on his wife? Where are all the citizens who shouted at the TV and wrote blogs on the Detroit FreePress website in protest of Mike Vick getting a second chance after spending time in jail for murdering dogs? Where is the same tenacity to bring to justice those who are guilty of murdering our future? Catch ya’ on the FLIPSIDE.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


In a city where violent crime often keeps it circulating in the top three of the most dangerous cities list yearly, Detroit is also a place where fashion thrives. Is it a possibility that the two can somehow correlate one another?

Detroit is a city where hip-hop fashion is apparent. Alligator shoes, Dobb hats, Steve Harvey suits, white tees, Enyce jeans, Timberland boots, Prada shoes, Louis bags – the list could go on forever. In the same breath, Detroit’s crime rate is just as apparent. With the downturn in today’s economy, these fashion statements may not only make headlines in the fashion magazines, they may make headlines in the local newspaper after a robbery or robbery attempt. The Detroit Police Department revealed that of 100,000 victims, 736 were robbery victims in 2008 in a statement released by the Crime Analysis Unit.

With numbers like those, it is conceivable that there is a direct correlation between the two. It almost seems obvious that hip-hop fashion creates a setting for violence. Unfortunately, that is the idea people have of Detroit before they even visit the city. The thing that people fail to realize is that while Detroit’s economy has been going down, oddly enough, the crime rate has been going down as well. The city’s fashion scene has been steadily emerging as Detroit forges its way into the national fashion scene more and more everyday, uplifting a city that has dealt with its share of failures both economically and criminally.
Major cities often have higher crime rates, but mainly due to the high volume of people who live, work and play in those heavily populated places - not the clothes they choose from the closet that morning. Catch ya’ on the FLIPSIDE

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


SHIRTS, TIES, AND BABY BOTTLES: My life in corporate America as a single dad.

I was asked by a real close friend of mine to delve within my thoughts and re-live the last four years of my life. It was a ride full of the best times a person can imagine and the worst nightmare brought to life.

It has been fours years since I became a father to a beautiful son and joined the rat race of corporate America. These two worlds of fatherhood and 9-5 -ism have given this young dad a lot to think about, so I am split right down the middle. The basics of negotiation 101 with big time CEO’s or if you eat the carrots you will get a cookie. These are just some of the dilemmas I face throughout my week.

I would be wrong not to acknowledge my son’s mother because we both share the duties of raising him even though we are not together. I know that society uses labels such as “Baby Daddy” or “Baby Momma” to describe un-wed couples these days, but I feel -no excuse me- I know that I don’t fit that term. I would be lying to you all if I said we never argue about his development. That is where we clash like titans over every issue. She has her opinion and I have mine. No one is right or wrong; let’s just say we will agree to disagree until he is old enough to make his own decisions and live with them.

Reading articles, books, or surfing the web I notice one main problem. As single parents we let society force us to take the short end of the stick when it comes to parenting. In no way shape or form am I defending all single fathers in the world, but in essence, this is telling all those single fathers that we have a voice.

I have been given the privilege of writing about my experiences of being a single dad in corporate America. In those four years I have grown as a dad and I have been working my way up the ladder of success making things better for my son and me financially by any means necessary. If I was getting coffee for my boss, staying late to finish my reports or walking my son into school the following morning, each day is a new story. These are my experiences as a single father in corporate America, take a look into my world.

-Ryann Caudillo

Monday, October 5, 2009

FLIPSIDE - School Daze

With the economy folding faster than a bad poker hand, job seekers are leaving their tool belts behind and grabbing their pocket protectors.

Nationwide, institutions of higher education are enjoying a higher rate of enrollment. This is theorized to be because of the lack of available jobs. Seemingly a good idea, out of work workers are focusing on educating themselves to hopefully qualify for new jobs, but is it worth the financial strain?

Some state aid allows for job seekers to utilize job training in other fields for free, but for those who need to finance school on their own, the financial burden may be less than affordable. The fact remains that most people searching for higher education will more than likely have to use government assisted funds. Those funds come in the form of grants and loans. Grants do not have to be paid back, however, an overwhelming amount of students are using loans and will create a substantial amount of debt in an economy that is not guaranteeing job placement after school. Will school shelter us from the economic storm that is sweeping the nation?

The education institutions, oddly enough, are still increasing in cost each year. With the heavy incline in degree hopefuls, it would be probable that the tuition would decrease at least some small amount. However, this has not been the case whereas institutions in Michigan alone have increased in cost over 7 percent in the past five years. A degree in the past would help solidify your position in the workforce, but today, so many degree holders are competing for the same jobs that there is no clear advantage for new graduates. Hopefully, the economy will rebound and employment opportunities will become available for all of us government loan snatchers to finally pay the FEDS back for sending us to school. Catch ya' on the FLIPSIDE.