Author: Antonio Maurice Daniels

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels is an editor and columnist at The Good Men Project. Also, Dr. Daniels is a University of Wisconsin-Madison Research Associate in Education and Co-Founder and Vice Board Chairman of The Why You Initiative [YU?]. He is a minister, theologian, higher education finance consultant, university instructor, non-profit executive, published scholar, and Earl E. Hoffmann Fellow. His cultural commentary blog, Revolutionary Paideia, can be found at https://revolutionarypaideia.com, and follow him on Twitter: @paideiarebel.

Don’t Let Leaders and Activists Dupe You

Duped

Photo Credit: One Hundred Hearts

When trying to lead a righteous movement or advocate for a noble cause, one must have an authentic commitment to truth and justice. You cannot have a genuine commitment to justice if you’re not willing to tell the whole truth, which includes the whole truth about yourself—not just the whole truth about others. It’s easy to tell the truth about others, to expose others, but never forget to give a full account of your truth. Although in this moment of “alternative facts” it may seem that truth and truth-telling don’t matter, they still do. In fact, they’re more important than ever. Those calling themselves leaders and social justice activists have an obligation to tell those they’re leading the whole truth—even when it’s unsettling.

One way to know if someone has integrity is to learn what he or she does in private. Most of the time, of course, we cannot know what people do in private. When they engage in corruption in private, however, that corruption has a way of telling the truth on them in public. Once we discover their corruption, we shouldn’t immediately attempt to justify them and/or their corruption. We have to hold our leaders and social justice activists accountable.

Never deify a human being.

Before you place too much investment in leaders and social justice activists, do the work necessary to gain an understanding of who they really are. Don’t just listen to a few of their speeches. Don’t just attend a few of their rallies. Don’t just look at their nice physical appearance. Research them, ask them probing questions, and discern their values and principles.

Yes, no man or woman is perfect, but do your due diligence to discover if a leader and/or activist you support truly aligns with your values and principles.

If you find out that a leader or activist you support has a record of committing fraudulent acts, will you continue to trust this person? Yes, the person may have engaged in these acts years ago, but was he or she honest with you about past wrongs? When people have committed certain wrongs, no matter how long ago they happened, those misdeeds may warrant reassessing your connection to them. You can value their productive work, but when you continue to lend your support to corrupt people—and “stand by your man or woman”—you become complicit in their corruption.

Integrity is telling the truth when it hurts. Integrity is telling the truth when it may cast you in an undesirable light. Integrity is not misleading people about who you are. Integrity is not permitting people to advertise you as someone you aren’t.

Understand this: If a person does not have integrity, he or she isn’t committed to justice. Why? Because integrity and justice are inextricably linked.

We all have a responsibility to hold ourselves accountable to honoring truth and justice. We all fail truth and justice when we allow people we have exalted, placed on a pedestal, to trample on truth and justice. If we’re willing to let these people lie to us, then we have to question our own commitment to truth and justice.

Ethical principles should reign supreme over unhealthy ties to people.

Closely examine the leaders and social justice activists you support and determine if they’re holding firmly to the values and principles you desire them to maintain. If you discover they aren’t who you thought they were, and aren’t principled individuals, then don’t foolishly continue to lend your support to them.

Make wise decisions about who and what you elect to champion.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Understanding the George Floyd Uprisings

George Floyd Protests

Photo Credit: Al Jazeera

Too many whites and, unfortunately, too many blacks are communicating that they don’t understand why many protests emerging after the lynching of George Floyd by corrupt white police officer Derek Chauvin—with lethal assistance from three other evil police officers, Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng, and Tou Thao—in Minneapolis, Minnesota, feature some rioting, looting, violence, and significant property damage. These whites and blacks assert that they don’t see the purpose of such licentiousness, especially since, from their collective perspective, this will not resurrect George Floyd. In this piece, I offer clarity about some of the reasoning that informs illicit elements of the George Floyd uprisings.

This will, therefore, disabuse folks of the argument that the uprisings lack purpose. Although one may disagree with unlawful elements of these uprisings, once a rationale is divulged, one cannot genuinely say that the criminal acts are meaningless; one can oppose the meaning offered, but future attempts to claim these uprisings are bereft of purpose will be intellectually disingenuous.

The George Floyd uprisings signal a national and global flowering of resistance to the vicious and enduring legacies of racism, white supremacy, Jim and Jane Crow, poverty, and militarism that the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM), an organic and revolutionary citizens’, including global citizens, movement for racial, social, economic, and educational justice, has initiated. To be clear, these uprisings are part of the BLM.

Is Peaceful Protesting Possible?

Although most in the BLM are peaceful, non-violent people, they are fighting for peace. They are protesting the absence of peace in America. This dearth of peace does not make “peaceful protesting,” as traditionally conceived, possible. When so many racists, especially those who can employ state power against blacks, are unwilling to recognize black humanity, blacks and their allies cannot “peacefully protest”—if by “peacefully protest” one means asking for equity, freedom, and justice.

If you’re black, it’s futile to ask racists, especially those capable of using state power, for anything. They don’t see and hear you. What most of us in the BLM are doing isn’t asking anyone for anything; we’re demanding equity, freedom, and justice. For blacks and other ethnic minorities, we can never have peace in America until we force America to see and hear us.

America can never be a nation of peace until she’s compelled.

See and Hear Black People

While rioting, looting, and violence develop sometimes during demonstrations by those in the BLM, although these prohibited acts are primarily done by opportunists, individuals and organizations unconnected to the BLM, blacks are now being seen and heard. Racists and whites who are not allies of those in the BLM are feeling unsafe and experiencing significant financial wounds due to property damage and loss.

Whites see and hear blacks when they feel unsafe and have their money seriously affected.

The George Floyd uprisings are forcing the nation and world to see and hear black people.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Explained Rioting

In “The Other America,” a speech delivered at Stanford University, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., contended:

“I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”

If you don’t like “riots,” then radically change the “certain conditions” that “continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots.” For whites and blacks who don’t understand why some are resorting to rioting, looting, violence, and general lawlessness, remember Dr. King’s powerful words: “…a riot is the language of the unheard.” King let us know what America has not heard from the unheard: its poverty and denied freedom and justice.

Also, I want to accentuate, as it is critical to those lacking comprehension about why some are engaging in rioting, looting, violence, and general lawlessness, Dr. King’s point about how many whites have failed to recognize that they are more concerned about peace and the status quo than justice, equality and humanity: “And it [America] has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity.”

Dr. King ultimately indicted America, white America, as responsible for the “certain conditions that continue to exist” that promote rioting: “And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again.”

If you want the rioting to end, then implement Dr. King’s solution: “Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”

While Dr. King joined white America’s advocacy for peace (“tranquility”), he desired for white America to be just as committed to justice, equality, and humanity. Too many whites, however, have failed to heed this message.

Black People Have Had Enough 

George Floyd is the latest example of how it has always been “open season” on blacks in America. An increasing number of white police officers are heinously and senselessly killing blacks in public and private space. And black people and their allies have had enough.

Again, we’ve had enough.

We’re showing you we’ve had enough.

We’ve been tired of white folks killing us, including at the hands of white police officers, but you, white America, are beginning to feel just how tired we are.

Too many black bodies have been murdered by white police officers and white people in general. No one has been held accountable for most of the black blood on their white blood-stained hands.

If you don’t like what you’re witnessing, then become a part of the change, radical transformation America needs.

The Dawning of a New America

A beautiful multi-ethnic national and global coalition demanding equity and justice for all is rising; you see it in your streets and on your televisions.

America will become a more just, more equitable, more peaceful nation, and the revolution that will engender this radical transformation will, in part, be televised, tweeted, and shared on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Happy 40th Birthday to Dr. Santresa Glass

Dr. Santresa L. Glass

With the arrival of a new decade of life, one has a valuable opportunity to reflect deeply on the previous decade. As humans, we have undesirable experiences. We often bemoan those experiences. Unfortunately, we don’t devote enough time to auspicious experiences. Although everyone needs to wrestle properly with disappointing experiences, as I penned in “Don’t Let Disappointment Defeat You,” published by The Good Men Project, we should dedicate much more time to thinking about the good, those things, those experiences, those people who have helped us to simply be. Dr. Glass, thank you for being an example of resilience, for modeling and championing a version of what it means to simply be.

As I told you a few years ago, we all need to ask ourselves daily this essential question: “How you be?” Thank you for checking on “how you be.” Thank you for checking on me to ensure that I see “how I be.”

What your previous decade of life has taught me about you is you really care about those you love. You really care. I say this not because I’m surprised; I say this because of how you care for others and how you care for me grows more and more intense.

Although our love for one another has become a sister-brother relationship, I never want to discard the “friend” label—and “best friend” label. Why not? Because it’s important for me to employ how you do friendship to push back against those antithetical versions of “friendship” that, to be transparent, make me cynical sometimes about friendship. When I think of you, and our friendship, that cynicism retreats.

What do I know for sure about you? You’re my constant. What else do I know for sure about you? You’re a horrible singer—without question. Lmbo!

Even though this COVID-19 pandemic has made things less than ideal, to say the least, let today be a day of more than celebration; let it be a day of critical reflection, an ode to gratitude.

Reflect on the good of the past decade. What did you learn from the past decade? What did the past decade prove to you that you value? What can you take from the past decade to add fuel to this new decade of life?

Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for being you.

Again, have an awesome day of celebration and critical reflection.

You’re old. I’m young and amazing. You’re old and kinda amazing. Okay, okay, okay, you’re amazing, too (sorta). Lmbo!

Happy 40th Birthday!

Love ya,

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Everybody Doesn’t Want You

Flirting

Photo Credit: Getty

If someone jokes around with you, it doesn’t necessarily mean the person is seeking an intimate relationship with you—even if the jokes are sexual. When an individual gives you a compliment, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she desires an intimate relationship with you. People helping you out of the goodness of their heart aren’t looking for sexual favors in return; in fact, when they’re truly doing it out of the goodness of their heart, they’re not looking for anything in return. When someone shows you some attention, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she wants you. If you believe any attention shown to you means someone wants you, then you need a serious wake-up call: you’re not irresistible. Don’t flatter yourself.

People can be so vain. Before you think someone is seriously flirting with you or pursuing you, ask him or her. If his or her jokes, playful flirting, compliments, and/or general interactions with you make you feel uncomfortable, tell him or her.

You should, however, gain a proper understanding of why you feel uncomfortable in the first place. Could you feel uncomfortable because you actually like what the person is saying and/or doing and you don’t know what to do with your own feelings? Try to understand your own feelings before you attempt to comprehend someone else’s.

Yes, people can employ jokes, playful flirting, compliments, and their general helpfulness to mask their true intentions. Even if they are doing this, are you being harmed? If you feel they are creepy, then let them know you want them to stop. You have that right.

Don’t make a big fuss about nothing, though. Stop creating problems where no problems exist.

Get over yourself.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Faking Happiness Makes Your Unhappiness Transparent

Trying to fool people you’re happy when you’re not is a self-sabotaging practice; you’re deceiving nobody and denying yourself time, space, and opportunities to heal and grow. Ostentatious displays of imaginary “happiness,” especially following tragedy or heartbreak, does not reveal true happiness: it exposes your cowardice, your unwillingness to sit with the pain, the heartache you’re confronting.

Even though the pain of tragedy or heartbreak is unsettling, one should never resort to facades, misrepresentations. Sit with your pain in private first, and when you’ve given yourself the proper time, space, and opportunities to heal and grow, then you can publicly share your authentic happiness or demonstrable progress towards it.

Loss, betrayal, dishonesty—all dimensions of the human condition we face. How we respond to them determines how we emerge from them. Do you want to emerge more liberated, more empowered from them, or do you want to live imprisoned in self-doubt, eternally vexed by your toxic response to them?

Fake it until you make it—a vain, otiose philosophy—spoils any chance you have to advance beyond unhappiness. In fact, this fallacious and disingenuous philosophy is rooted in unhappiness.

You cannot experience emancipation when you’re committed to shackling yourself to unhappiness. The previous sentence evokes Audre Lorde’s powerful statement of resistance to enslaving one’s self to the control of an enemy: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Unhappiness cannot be eradicated with the tools of unhappiness.

In the midst of your storm, find hope, hope in what’s possible beyond the storm. The storm can be ephemeral; the storm can be surprisingly enriching. Your commitment to truth in the storm will lead you safely on the other side of it. On the side of the storm is joy, peace, and gratitude.

Joy is enduring and more fulfilling than happiness. To arrive usher in happiness, one must begin a serious gratitude praxis, a praxis that ultimately leads to joy.

When you embrace gratitude, a life of gratitude, you enjoy the beauty of life: you savor victories and effectively process disappointments. Disappointments are natural human experiences, but we should never live in fear of disappointments; we should live in expectation of one thing—the good.

A spirit that expects the good, found in the heart of a person committed to permitting herself or himself to receive the fruits of truth, love, and justice, is necessary to maintain joy and peace.

Allow nobody or anything to displace you from joy and peace.

Always remain honest with yourself.

Although in this late stage of capitalism, where Guy Debord’s notion of “the society of the spectacle” is decidedly more pronounced, you may feel compelled to project a phony public image, which leads you to becoming nothing more than a spectacle, love yourself enough to give the world your truth. If you’re not happy, then don’t display a happy facade.

Give the world your best—even if your best is a temporary period of unhappiness. The world knows you’re human; don’t try to be a robot, falling prey to self-deceit. 

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

Don’t Let Disappointment Defeat You

Overcoming Disappointment
Photo Credit: Everyday Feminism

Disappointment is a natural part of the human experience; take time to learn from it—never hide from what it invites you to confront. One grows stronger when he or she learns to discover what disappointment offers, but fear causes people to attempt to bury the initial pain and restlessness it materializes. The pain indicates an undesirable, yet necessary pressing against love residing in you; the restlessness, love striving toward healing. Given a chance to run their natural course, pain and restlessness buttress your interior life: they engender resiliency, crucial to surviving and thriving in an often callous world.

Resisting the perception of vulnerability as weakness, a chink in your spiritual armor, inadequate emotional intelligence necessitates courage. To be fearless in the face of adversity, fill yourself up on faith and hope, joy and thanksgiving, rest and gratitude. Doubt, failing to develop a critical reflective praxis, denying vulnerability time and space to speak—all stifle your progress. Extracting value from disappointment requires one to use her or his organic processing tools—reading, writing, and meditating—leading to a higher, more enlightened self.

After reading yourself through disappointment, after writing yourself through heartache, and after meditating yourself through the unpleasant experience, you birth essential knowledge about resistance, resistance to malevolent forces aiming to destroy you. This knowledge of resistance grants you power to shine light into darkness, power to bring tranquility to tottering people and places—and regimes on the brink of ruin.

When you offer peace to chaotic people and places, two guiding principles are important to maintain: stay focused on the mission and understand that you will face opposition—often formidable opposition. Recognize that your opponents, those trying to thwart your continuous progress, suffer from brokenness, requiring someone like you, someone committed to truth, love, and justice, to move them from a barren place to a fecund place.

Misunderstood by many, disappointment torments people. Frightened, they become docile bodies held captive by it. At some point, however, these docile bodies must shatter the manacles of oppression and depression disappointment imposes.

Bondage, it’s dreadful. The more one surrenders to subjugation, the more she or he will accept it. What subjugated people fail to resist, they fail to comprehend.

Mentally and spiritually enslaved people, blinded by ignorance, face inevitable destruction—unless liberators come to their rescue. Resistance can crush bondage. But how? By unseating the false authority granted to bondage.

You have the power to dethrone disappointment’s reign of terror in your life.

What’s holding you back, though?

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison    

Liberate Yourself from People Using You

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Post-Examiner

When you transition to living a life free from allowing folks to take advantage of you, it’s a liberating experience. It’s not about revenge against those individuals who have used you; it’s about giving yourself a chance to be, to live, to breathe. If you’re living a life where you’re constantly serving every beck and call of others, then it’s time to stop. In fact, it has been time for you to end such an unhealthy, unproductive lifestyle.

Recognize that people will continue to take advantage of you as long as you allow them. You must muster the will and courage to stop doing this to yourself. After all, those people who have used you could only do what you permitted.

Once you close the door to users ever being able to use you again, leave that door closed forever.

When you’ve truly given yourself an opportunity to live free from leeches, folks always with their hands out looking for what you can do for them, it’s time for you to celebrate. Celebrate what? Celebrate your newfound freedom, or the rediscovering of such freedom. You deserve it!

You don’t have to announce you’ve closed that door to those individuals forever. Let your actions inform them. When they see your actions speaking, they will see your new liberated self.

People will start to realize they need to give you something before you continue to pour into their lives. This new liberated self isn’t about embracing selfishness—it’s about granting yourself the right to experience personal equity and justice. One shouldn’t passionately fight for equity and justice for others and not extend that same equity and justice to herself or himself.

Yes, those who have used you will begin to make some of the following comments: “You’re acting funny now,” “You’re acting brand new now,” “You weren’t really for me in the first place,” and “You weren’t doing things for me out of the kindness of your heart; you were always looking for something in return.” That last comment really strives to make you feel guilty and compel you to return to a life of bondage.

Never taste the sweet nectar of freedom and then revert to bondage.

Fight for you; fight for your freedom.

If people who have only taken from you want something now, respond to them by inquiring about what they plan to do for you in exchange for what they desire. This dramatically changes the power dynamics: it moves you from being a pushover to the person who holds all the cards.

When you understand that you hold all the cards, you will exercise your power to thwart attempts to victimize you.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison   

Make Some Sacrifices to Get What You Want

Quid Pro Quo

                                     Photo Credit: Minnesota Lawyer

Although you may hold a position that you are not willing to do something someone wants you to do to obtain something you desire, you may want to consider making a sacrifice for it. Yes, this defies conventional wisdom: don’t sacrifice your values; don’t sacrifice who you are for anyone and anything. Is what you need to do to receive what you want really forcing you to sacrifice your values and/or who you are? Face this reality: Successful people take risks and make sacrifices.

Don’t do nothing to risk your life or health, however.

In our present reality, you have to give something to receive something. Although during the impeachment proceedings for President Donald Trump the notion of quid pro quo, “a favor for a favor,” has become a dirty term, a quid pro quo in many contexts is fair. As long as the favor on one side is equal to the favor on the other side, a quid pro quo shouldn’t be viewed as a problem; in fact, it’s fair.

Too many folks want something for nothing. While I am a philanthropist and give much of my time to charitable causes and helping others, I understand how damaging it can be to one’s life when your giving and receiving are in a chaotic imbalance. You cannot pour from an empty vessel. When you are constantly giving and never receiving anything, you’re not taking care of yourself.  Unfortunately, when you need something from the same folks you have helped, most of those folks will not be there to help you.

For over 32 years, I have been a person who has given and given to people—with little being received in return. It’s time for me and others like me to stop feeling guilty about asking people to give us something in return for what they want from us. You’re not a criminal for looking for something in return from others who want huge favors from you. Be kind to yourself by treating yourself justly and demanding others to treat you justly.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing: A Summary

The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman

Photo Credit: Amazon

Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing (2019) offers readers important insights about how to make successful decisions. The book strives to help readers see decision making as an opportunity for spiritual growth. For Freeman, one can find peace even when it does not seem possible. The author contends that doing the next right thing is about moving one’s focus from outcomes to the present moment.

When a person removes distractions, Freeman argues that he or she can better understand inner experiences.

If an individual is not being real with himself or herself, the author asserts that God is not able to reveal what He desires to communicate to him or her in the present moment.

The Next Right Thing challenges the reader to question his or her desires and motivations. Freeman believes that questioning one’s desires and motivations allows him or her to find clarity on their spiritual paths. This does, however, require one to be candid with himself or herself.

Freeman recommends that one invest more time in listening to his or her believers rather than critics. She asserts that keeping yourself uplifted with positive words of others empowers you to arrive at the heart of the person you really are.

The writer values surprises, for they, she argues, more often permit one to resolve decision making chaos than perceived clarity does. The book emphasizes that it is not wise to expect clarity about every detail of the future, considering life unfolds in complex and unpredictable ways.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

Doing Justice by Preet Bharara: A Summary

Doing Justice by Preet Bharara

Photo Credit: Amazon

Preet Bharara’s Doing Justice (2019) offers the lessons the author has learned during his career as a former federal attorney. Bharara contends that effective investigations require investigators who have a strong work ethic and who commit to withholding judgment until the appropriate time. The author explains that a successful investigator must be willing to reassess evidence. Also, he helps the reader to understand that successful investigators often question the processes they use.

Bharara divulges that reasonable questioning of witnesses is necessary to gain the cooperation of witnesses. Doing Justice makes clear that posing the right questions is crucial to the final outcome of an investigation.

The writer warns investigators against making hasty accusations because they can severely damage their chances of success. Bharara posits that police officers and prosecutors who are not careful in their decision making are serious threats to justice. He urges them to muster the courage necessary to endure harsh criticisms from various people and maintain their focus on the proper pursuit of justice.

Doing Justice emphasizes the importance of governments and prosecutors ethically exercising discretion.

The author encourages prosecutors to prepare themselves diligently for their court dates, for surprises during trial are certainly not pleasant. The book argues that prosecutors have to be willing to challenge judges who demonstrate partiality.

Bharara has a strong interest in prison reform. For the former federal attorney, prison reform is necessary to true justice. He asserts that any just society must demonstrate a real concern for how prisoners are treated. The author acknowledges that many problems in the American prison system need to be addressed immediately, and he sees that it is going to take the American people to champion prison reform for these problems to be addressed.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison