“I Had No Idea…”


Yep…I heard it again! While listening to a news segment talking about a town meeting with residents of Ferguson, MO and how they proceed from the tragedy of the shooting of Mike Brown, Jr. I heard one of the White residents say that her son was friends with a young Black man and “she had no idea” that the young man’s mother gave him specific instructions about how to conduct himself when he rode his bike over to visit her home. “When my son goes out to ride his bike I admonition him to watch out for traffic. I didn’t know his friend’s mother talks to him about how to respond to police and White people he might encounter… I had no idea!
I heard this same phrase after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin when Black parents were interviewed and explained how they instructed their children, especially their sons, about how to respond if they are stopped by police officers. I can appreciate the veracity of their statement–“I had no idea”– but I do wonder where on earth they have been all of this time to have no idea how dangerous it is for Black people to encounter Whites–whether police officers or citizens–in environments where Whites wield authority like roads, streets, or predominately White neighborhoods.
Twenty-five or so years ago when the world witnessed the Rodney King beating I heard White students say they had “no idea” that Blacks were subject to ongoing police brutality. Thirty years ago when I was raising my own sons in the Palo Alto, CA area we were explicit in telling them where to go and how to respond if they were stopped by police while riding their bikes and later while riding in cars with their friends. My White neighbors and friends claimed to have “no idea!”
Almost 60 years ago when Emmitt Till was brutally murdered, his body mutilated, and his killers exonerated in less than an hour, there were northern Whites who “had not idea.” Last year when director Steve McQueen brought Solomon Northrup’s story of being sold into slavery to the big screen and revealed aspects of how horrific American slavery was I heard White friends and colleagues declare they “had no idea.”
Is having “no idea” an excuse for permitting injustice to continue? Whose responsibility is it to educate people with “no idea” about the realities of life for people who live their American lives inside a darker skin? Once you have learned of an Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, and Mike Brown, Jr. what is your responsibility to teach others about what happened?  How can we permit school districts to ban the teaching of the Ferguson incident when we know we will raise yet another generation of uniformed, naive White students who will grow up to say yet again, “I had no idea?” What do you think we should be doing? How can we break this cycle of ignorance and help the entire community become more aware of the terror that awaits some people just for being who they are? Tell us what you think!

Stay Black & Smart!

“May You Never Bury A Child!”


By now the world has seen the photo of Mike Brown, Sr. crying in anguish as his son’s casket is being lowered into the ground. Funerals and burials are for the living. There is a finality to the closing of the casket and its lowering into a big hole in the ground. I experienced that finality when my father died and then 5 years later when my mother died. In both instances, despite their having lived almost 9 decades it still hurt to sit at their gravesides and see their remains taken away from us forever.
As excruciating as my parents’ deaths were they would be nothing if I had to compare them to the loss of one of my children.
One of the articles I read said that Mike Brown’s mother cries all the time. Of course she cries all the time. Her son is not entering college…he is entering his final rest. At 18 years of age his life is over and some how his parents are supposed to carry on with their lives.
In another newscast I saw Mike Brown’s mother, Leslie McSpadden, Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Sean Bell’s mother, Valerie Bell sitting together. All I could think was, “That has to be the worst sorority any woman could be a part of.” The mothers had not only lost their sons to early deaths, they lost them to violent deaths at the hands of people who were supposed to “serve and protect” (even George Zimmerman and his neighborhood watch gig). (Earlier this summer I was on a panel with Lucy McBath, mother of Jordan Davis the young man shot dead in a car at a gas station because his music was “too loud!”)
Right now Mike Brown’s family is still surrounded by the media and plenty of family and well-wishers but soon people will return to their homes and their everyday lives. Leslie McSpadden and Mike Brown, Sr. will have year after year of not being able to celebrate their son’s birthday. They will have year after year of Christmases, New Years’, Easters’, Family Reunions, 4th of July picnics, Labor Days, and beginning of the new school year without their son. When parents of Mike’s friends brag about their sons’ and daughters’ accomplishments McSpadden and Brown will have to congratulate them while feeling the emptiness of not having their own stories to share.
The shooting of Mike Brown, Jr. has sparked a movement of activism and interest in stopping police brutality and abuse against people of color. People of all races, classes, and ages have flooded the streets of Ferguson, MO to protest what happened to Mike and people in cities and towns throughout the nation. On the opposite side people have declared Mike Brown, Jr. to be a thug, a robber, and the aggressor in the confrontation between him and Officer Wilson. Mike Brown Jr. has become a symbol on both sides.  But at the end of the day this is a story of a family that lost a son, a grandson, a brother, and a cousin. Despite the heat and light surrounding the Mike Brown shooting the bottom line is an 18-year-old is dead. I can only hope that you never bury a child!

Stay Smart & Black!

“So Much Sufferring…So Little Attention?”



Unless you have been living in a vacuum sealed tube these past few weeks you have seen plenty of news and social media focusing on the shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent protests and civil unrest. Each day tensions built and for nights there were confrontations and arrests in Ferguson, MO.
At the same time #Ferguson was trending both on social media and in the public conversation, civilians–men, women, and children were being killed in Gaza as the conflict between Palestinians and Israel escalated.
Also, many of us were challenged by friends to take the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” where people were asked to pour a bucket of ice water on their head and donate $10 to support research and treatment for what is a somewhat little known debilitating disease. Somehow in the midst of the ice bucket challenge, Gaza, and Mike Brown’s killing a war of words emerged about “what is worth doing.” Some people claimed they were not doing the Ice bucket challenge because there were more serious causes to attend to. I understand, but I also know that the human mind can only process so much suffering at a time.
On Friday I was driving to a community event that is a fun gathering of people and music that I had been looking forward to. A hot summer day, live and recorded music, good food, and great people–it sounded wonderful. However, on my car radio I heard a broadcast about a 10 year old boy in Monrovia, Liberia shivering naked on a beach with a crowd of about 50 people surrounding him. He was suffering from Ebola and the crowd was afraid to touch him. Out of nowhere someone produced a red t-shirt for him to put on but he was too weak to put it on by himself. Finally, the reporter and his crew produced some rubber gloves and two middle-aged women stepped forward to help the child. Then some people found a large piece of cardboard and the women got the boy onto it and he was dragged from the beach to an alleyway where an emergency team finally picked him up to take him to a clinic. Sadly, the child did not make it through the night. The reporter was overcome with a sense of sadness and helplessness as he tried to describe how horrible it was to witness a child dying. I was overwhelmed just listening to this story and tears steamed down my cheeks.
This story was about somebody’s 10 year old baby. He was alone and helpless and had become a public spectacle in his sickness and nakedness. No one was throwing ice water over his or her head for him. No one was protesting in the streets for him. No high level diplomat was going to convene talks on his behalf. He would suffer and die all by himself.
The world is filled with suffering and there is no hierarchy of “my suffering is greater than yours.” If you are doing ANYTHING to alleviate suffering (of any kind) I don’t think I have a right to judge you. Just keep doing your part. What do you think?

Stay Black & Smart!

“In Praise of the ‘Ordinary’ Sistas”


I remember the first time I saw her. She was a rich, dark chocolate, overweight (or what my parents used to call, “heavy set”), and wearing a flowered dress that could have been a “house dress” or passable for church. Her hair had been recently pressed but because of either the summer heat or the intensity of the press lights, her edges had already sweated out. She looked like a million other Black women I had known. I recognized her as a church mother, a cleaning lady, or a cafeteria worker. I have seen her (or someone looking exactly like her) riding city buses almost every day. She was just so ordinary and it was that ordinary-ness that made the fact that she was speaking truth to power so captivating.
That woman was Fannie Lou Hamer and I fell hopelessly in love with her as she sat before television cameras and power brokers and announced that she was Fannie Lou Hamer from Sunflower County, Mississippi and the duly elected delegate from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Yes, this ordinary woman was speaking truth to power and she was everything I ever wanted to be. She was bold. She was courageous. And, she was herself–no pretense, no fear, no playing!
I became so enamored of Fannie Lou Hamer because she was not a heroine or role model that someone else was giving to us. She was not the tragic mulatto of Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Halle Berry, or Beyonce. She was not ambiguous in her racial identity. She was not some skinny slip of a thing. She was thick and proud of it. But more important than how she looked was how she made us pay attention to what she had to say.
To this day I have found no one fiercer than Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer. She was beaten and abused because of her stand for freedom. She lost babies and suffered in jail but in the end she stood up and said, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!” She uttered those words as a challenge. In other words, she did not intend to keep accepting bad treatment. She was letting nothing stand in the way of justice, freedom, and right. And, in the end for as powerful and special as she was as a leader, she was just an ordinary sista! Let’s continue to praise those ordinary sistas’ (and brothas’)!

Stay Black & Smart!

“The Angry Black Woman…and Man”


The recent shooting of unarmed Black teenager Mike Brown and the subsequent unrest in the streets of Ferguson, MO have made me so angry and frustrated that I have had to step away from it before it totally consumes me. Thus, I’ve taken a few days to participate in the ubiquitous “Ice Bucket Challenge.” Having had a member of our community die from ALS there was a reason to help build awareness about the disease and donate to our local ALS chapter. I found an albeit temporary distraction for my anger. Although everyone grapples with anger at some point in their lives it seems that Black people–women and men–are characterized by anger. The phrase, “angry Black woman/man” is so over done  by media and Hollywood images that we come to expect all Black women and men to be angry–all the time. No one talks about the angry White man/woman. Black anger when enfolded into the personalities of women and men means that such anger is regarded as not legitimate. It signals that we need to go through attitude adjustments. It suggests that our anger has no basis in reality. Angry is just who we are, not what we become.

An example of the pervasive concept of the “angry Black woman” is the way the label has been assigned to First Lady Michelle Obama. Unfortunately, the use of “angry” as an adjective for Black people has been used to diffuse any justified anger expressed by either President or Mrs. Obama. I have seen anger expressed by George Bush, Bill Clinton (and Hillary), George Bush, Sr., Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon but no one has called them “angry.” Scholars in communication, like Thomas Kochman, point out that Blacks and Whites have very different communication style. When (some) Black people get upset about something they typically get louder to make their points. (Some) Whites on the other hand are more likely to express their anger by becoming silent and withdrawing from interactions. These different cultural styles leads to miscommunication and mis-identification of meaning.

But let’s look at what is happening in our country right now (and I am deliberate in saying “our country”). We have witnessed a series of shootings of unarmed Black men–particularly young Black men–over the past few years. The deaths of Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and now Mike Brown represent a long history of brutality against our people and yes, we are ANGRY! What other group of people is asked to sit by and remain even-tempered in the midst of all out assault? We do not expect Palestinians to be without anger. We do not expect Israeli’s to be without anger. We do not expect the Kurds to be without anger. We do not expect law abiding Iraqis, Afghanis, or people in the Ukraine to be without anger. Yet, somehow we want Black people to keep calm and trust the system to treat us in a just way.

Yes, I am angry…really angry…and I think if other people aren’t angry they aren’t paying attention! What do you think? Let us know!

Stay Black & Smart!

“When It’s More Than The Blues!”


“I got the blues so bad it hurts my tongue to talk” ~ Son House

The recent suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams has thrust mental health issues back into the national headlines. Unfortunately, we hear little about such issues until something tragic happens. The discussion of mental health issues in the Black community is even more muted.
The music tradition of the blues began in the cane breaks and cotton fields of the South where our ancestors expressed their pain and despair. Of course they buffeted those mournful songs with the hope of spirituals and their voices lifted to God. Blues migrated from the south along with Black people who were searching for a brighter future in the North. Chicago, Kansas City, and New York were sites of urban blues. We have sung sorrowful songs throughout our sojourn in these United States.
But having the blues also expresses a feeling of being “out of sorts” in our everyday living. We have talked about those “Monday morning blues” that signal our reluctance to go back to that job that makes us more than a little annoyed. However, we know that by Friday that particular blue feeling lifts as we plan for family, friends, and fun that the weekend portends. Many of us have felt the weight of the blues after the break-up of a relationship. Those blue feelings are sometimes alleviated by a night out (or more) with close friends where there is a rehashing of all the things that “low down dirty dog” did–real or imagined.
Some of us get that “blah” feeling when winter sets in and there is day after day of gray skies. We just want a little sunshine to lift our spirits.
But there is something much more than “the blues” that also plagues Black life…it is depression! It is a clinical condition that is more than just a day or two of feeling “out of sorts.” It is a dark seemingly inescapable place of hopelessness. We recognize it in certain situations. More recently we have heard people talk about “baby blues”–that period of time after delivery where a mother cannot seem to feel the joy and excitement that we associate with new parenthood. And of course, having been immersed in a long period of war we are seeing veterans return home with what is clinically known as PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder).
However, we know that one does not have to have any of these catalytic experiences to bring on a depressive episode. Depression has a biochemical connection. Somewhere in the brain powerful brain chemicals (serotonin, dopamine, etc.) are not functioning the way they should. Thus, telling someone with depression to “shake it off,” “pull themselves together,” or “pray” is no solution to the MEDICAL condition from which they are suffering. We would not tell that same person to “shake off” diabetes, cancer, or high blood pressure. We understand that they need MEDICAL help.
The silence surrounding mental health in the Black community is deafening. I argue that the majority of our young people who get caught up in the juvenile justice system are suffering from some undiagnosed mental health issue. In an effort to “feel better” they try to “self-medicate” using alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. This involvement can lead to other illicit activity and progresses to imprisonment (and sometimes death).
As a community we need to admit that we do not understand most mental health disorders and we need to commit to educating ourselves about them so that we might help ourselves. Author and depressive Andrew Solomon writes in his book, “The Noonday Demon” that depression is that disease that even if the cure were sitting on your dresser, you would not have the motivation to get up and get it!”
We need to have some serious talk about mental health issues—it’s more than just the blues! Tell me what you think.

Stay Black & Smart!

“It’s Not Me…It’s We!


I’ve lived long enough and have had the conversation with enough of my Black family, friends, acquaintances, and associates to know that whenever there is a particularly heinous crime–murder, rape, robbery, assault–to know that each of us gets that uneasy feeling in the pit of our stomach and says to ourselves (either silently or aloud), “I sure hope they’re not Black!”

Now I have some close White friends with whom I can discuss most anything and they have asked me, “Why do you feel responsibility for somebody you don’t even know? You know YOU didn’t do it and probably no one connected to you did it. What difference does it make what color they are?” I will confess, I don’t have a good answer. All I can say is that it just does.

The paradox of this collective feeling is that while dominant culture tells us that we are too linked to our “group” and that we should be more individually focused, this same culture almost always asks us what “the group” thinks about something…”What do Black people think about OJ?” “How do Black people feel about President Obama?” “Why are Black people so hard on Clarence Thomas?” They rarely ask me about me…they want to know about…we!

Indeed, there are times when dominant groups respond collectively–during the Olympic games (to the chant of, “USA, USA”), during the World Cup, and clearly during times of national tragedy–but those collective identities are fluid and temporary. It reminds me of the young people on my campus and their raucous behavior at football games. They are rowdy, often drunk, and shouting obscenities but other young White people do not feel responsibility for their behavior.

But, I can remember my late parents talking about how they and their Black friends and neighbors crowded around a radio to hear Joe Louis’ prize fights. Somehow Louis’ victory was seen as a collective victory for the Black community. Similarly, soon after the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson as the first Black player to make it to the major leagues, everybody in my family and neighborhood became Dodger fans. None of us knew Jackie Robinson we just knew he was one of us.

I suppose it is our collective suffering and pain that links us. We often don’t have the luxury of individual identities. We get mistaken for each other and become a part of some indistinguishable mob. It reminds me of the incident where Samuel L. Jackson was congratulated for his “Super Bowl” commercial by a Los Angeles entertainment reporter. Turns out that Jackson did not have a commercial, it was Laurence Fishburne who had the commercial. The man whose job it is focus on the entertainment world could not distinguished between two very well known entertainers. We’re always a part of the “we,” never the individual “me.”

There is some value to the solidarity we feel as a people. We rejoice in our cultural and historical pride. However, like people everywhere we want to be recognized for our individual identities and accomplishments. But, as long as race remains a primary marker for human categories I have to maintain some sense of “us-ness” regarding Black people. It’s never just me…it’s always we! What do you think? Leave your comments at:

Black & Smart!

“Dying for Nothing…Absolutely Nothing!”


The title of today’s blog is a tweet I sent out a few days ago when I learned of the murder of Mike Brown in a small community outside of St. Louis. I can think of no more helpless feeling than to know that someone has lost their life at the hands of those who are sworn to “protect and serve!”
This almost wanton killing of unarmed Black people is getting so tiresome. We have gone from Trayvon Martin to Jordan Davis, to Renisha McBride, to Eric Garner, to Mike Brown over the past few years and there seems to be no end in sight.
Some argue that Black people only get exorcised over these incidents when White people are the shooters while at the same time hundreds of Black youth are killing each other in places like Chicago and Philadelphia. Neither kinds of killing are justified. The seeming immunity we have toward neighborhood youth killing each other is rooted in our understanding of the utter hopelessness that pervades their lives. Without jobs or prospects for the future, the only sense of power some of these young people have is feel of a gun in their hands. This doesn’t make it right–it makes it their reality.
But how do we explain the shoot first and ask questions later mentality expressed by those who already have power and privilege? Why are the police and White citizens so quick to assume the absolute worst about Black youth and believe the only response to an interaction with them is to kill them?
My first memory of a Black youth being brutally murdered just for being young and Black happened with the murder of Emmett Till. The mutilation of his 14 year-old body left an indelible mark on my memory. It simultaneously terrified and enraged me. When I finally had my own sons Till’s memory had an inordinate impact on how I raised them. Even though they are adults I can still remember those conversations about what they could not do that their White classmates could and the specific instructions I gave them about how to respond WHEN (not if) they were stopped by a police officer. We schooled them on the careful way they were to speak, keep their hands visible, and respond to an officer’s request. As teenagers they balked at what they saw as our paranoia and over–protective parenting. But, as Black friends and classmates were starting to have negative interactions with law enforcement they began to realize we actually knew what we were talking about. They’ve learned that as Black men you could end up dying for nothing…absolutely nothing!
What do you think about what’s happening to our youth? How can we help them stay…

Black & Smart!

“Please Don’t Ask Me That Question Again!”


Once again I received an email with that question. What question you ask? “Does race still matter?” It has emerged more frequently since the 2008 Presidential race but it’s been creeping into conversations since the growth of the Black middle class. It typically comes from a place where people think policies and laws designed to level the playing field (e.g. Affirmative Action, Voting Rights Act, the 1965 Civil Rights Act) are enough to erase over 200 years of chattel slavery and another 100 years of  legal apartheid. Quite frankly, if these legal remedies and policies had done their job our universities would not look like they do, our executive offices would not look like they do, our corporate boards would not look like they do, the halls of Congress would not look like it does!

Of course some would argue that the election of Barak Obama leveled the playing field (incidentally, those who say that to me are never people who themselves voted for President Obama). But, a careful examination of election politics tells us something different. Major news outlets like to talk in terms of red states and blue states because the electoral college is a “winner take all” game. However, if you do a more careful analysis of voting patterns and look at the county by county vote (as opposed to state-wide) you will see that the “blue” portions are primarily on the coasts with a few portions in the midwest areas that constitute Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee. The rest of the nation was red, red, red!

A racial/ethnic analysis of the 2008 (and 2012) voting patterns indicates that Barak Obama was the recipient of demographic shifts because although he won large majorities among Black, Latin@, and Asian American voters, he did not win the majority of White voters. We live in a country that still votes largely along racial lines.

Does race still matter? Of course it does! I am not suggesting that class has no impact but we have to be clear class and race co-vary. It is difficult to separate out class when the proportion of Black people who are poor is so large. However, I know far too many middle class Black people who continue to suffer the stings of racism. I am a parent of 3 adult sons–all law abiding, gainfully employed homeowners who are doing their best to live as good citizens and raise their families. But, all 3 have been unjustly stopped by the police. All 3 have been overlooked for opportunities that less qualified White co-workers received. All 3 have been mistaken for Black people who look nothing like them because for some reason it is hard for some White people to distinguish among Black faces.

Last year I went to give a talk at a major university. I was picked up from the airport and driven to the hotel by a very nice White graduate student. She accompanied me into the hotel to make sure all was in order regarding the reservation. While we were waiting at the front desk of this quaint, historic hotel, the hotel manager appeared. Immediately, he engaged the graduate student in conversation. He went out of his way to show her the historical photos on the walls and the various restorations that had been done. He invited her to return and bring her family for a visit. Finally, she told him, “I’m not the guest. I live here. I’m just transporting our “distinguished scholar.” He turned to look at me with his mouth open and forced a smile. Later, the student said to me, “Wow! I am so embarrassed! I can’t believe he would ignore you like that.” I smiled and said to her, “Welcome to my world!”

Does race still matter? When I can go into an upscale store without being treated like I have no right to be there, then race will not matter! When my sons can hail a taxi without being passed up over and over again, then race will not matter! When Black people who are managers and supervisors can  stop having irate White customers say, “I want to speak to the manager/supervisor,” when they have a complaint, then race will not matter! When our children can walk into schools and not be assumed to be in remedial or special needs classrooms then race will not matter! When something is all black–a community, a school, a workplace–and people do not assume it is inferior, then race will not matter! When our children are not shot down in the street because of how they look, race will not matter! But, since we are not there yet, I assert that race still matters. What do you think?

Stay Black & Smart!

“Who Are Our Civil Rights Leaders?”


I grew up in an era when anytime a Black person’s rights were violated we knew who would stand up and speak against the injustice. We knew we would hear from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Mrs. Dorothy Height, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, or any number of artists (e.g. Harry Belafonte) or states people (Adam Clayton Powell). But today, I am not sure who truly represents our civil rights. I know if some of the traditional folks–Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jessie Jackson, or Julian Bond–attempt to speak up some Whites consider them “race pimps” and Black young folks consider them irrelevant. Who then has the authority to speak for Black folks? Where are our civil rights leaders?

Perhaps because of the widespread use of electronic technologies (cell phone cameras, computers) and social media we now believe everyone can speak for themselves and everyone is a journalist, pundit, or spokesperson. Perhaps because our airways are saturated with “reality shows” we don’t find mundane issues like civil rights all that interesting. Or maybe because some of us have financial security, impressive careers, and the distance of class, we don’t seem as invested in civil rights as generations in the 50s and 60s.

Today’s “civil rights leader” is as likely to be an Ivy League university professor or a television commentator as a full time activist. To be sure there are some people who continue to lead the charge against injustice. For instance, Rev. William Barber of North Carolina regularly leads Moral Mondays–acts of civil disobedience at the state capitol building. But, he does not yet have the name recognition of activist of the past.

Civil rights is not nearly as “sexy” today as it once was and I think I know why. At the height of the civil rights movement the leaders of the time galvanized our youth. I know because I was one of those kids attending rallies, protests, and marches. I was reading everything I could about our struggle–papers, books, poetry–and our music reflected where we were. We listened to Curtis Mayfield (“Keep on pushing”), Marvin Gaye (“What’s Going On”),  Sam Cooke (“A Change is Gonna Come”) and James Brown (“Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”). The youth were the foot soldiers of the movement.

Today, despite being pushed to the margins of social movements, our youth are engaged in some of the most exciting cultural production the world has ever seen. Everything about hip hop culture says protest, revolution, and counter culture. Here I am not talking about the wildly commercial forms that emphasize misogyny, homophobia, racism, and the glorification of drugs and money. No, I am talking about the cutting edge music of Jasiri X, Immortal Technique, Intikana, and Kendrick Lamar that draws on the traditions of KRS-One, Public Enemy, and Talib Kweli. The music of MC Lyte and Queen Latifah pushed the role and power of women to the forefront of the industry. However, in today’s civil rights discourse, our youth are not a part of the movement.

Perhaps we cannot decide on civil rights leaders because the real leaders are not in front of us…they are (in the generation) behind us! What do you think?

Stay Black & Smart!