Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sexual Fitness Video (Action Bar) on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Kyle Phoenix

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler on The Kyle Phoenix Blog (Liberation List Selection)

Parable of the Sower

Kindred by Octavia Butler on The Kyle Phoenix Blog (Liberation List Selection)

Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall on The Kyle Phoenix Blog (Liberation List Selection)

“Astonishingly moving.”—Anne Tyler, New York Times Book Review
“A work of exceptional wisdom, maturity, and generosity, one in which the palpable humanity of its characters transcends any considerations of race or sex.”—Washington Post Book World
“There is no limit to the kind of readership to which this novel will appeal.”—Booklist
Avey Johnson—a black, middle-aged, middle-class widow given to hats, gloves, and pearls—has long since put behind her the Harlem of her childhood. Then on a cruise to the Caribbean with two friends, inspired by a troubling dream, she senses her life beginning to unravel—and in a panic packs her bag in the middle of the night and abandons her friends at the next port of call. The unexpected and beautiful adventure that follows provides Avey with the links to the culture and history she has so long disavowed.

The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara on The Kyle Phoenix Blog (Liberation List Selection)

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on The Kyle Phoenix Blog (Liberation List Selection)

Monday, December 26, 2016

Oprah's 2 Minute Advice on Failure/Success on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Click above for a short video from Oprah, during a business seminar discussing the way to find meaning in failure, teh real meaning of failure and identifying your path.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Nothing Really Matters on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Butoh, the dance form, you'll see in this video is fascinating.  Jerky, provocative, evocative, sharp, alabaster, striking.  Married to the surrealistic imagery of the geisha, the concubine, the dojo is startling and amazing.  I actually have the Vogue magazine of Madonna from this period of her Asiatic/Japanese geisha period.  It's beautiful, hyper transformation.

Now to the song.  I've done a whole episode of The Kyle Phoenix Show on this song because it's simply a hip, pop tune, it's also poetry and at the same time a sutra.  Madonna's original intention was for it to be a sort of love letter to her daughter, to the transformative power of having a child in one's life and yet, for me at least, it's taken on an almost spiritual meaning and power.  I rock out to it and remind myself that....nothing really matters, love is all we need.


Male Belly Dancers Shake It Up in Istanbul on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Because the world, men, dance, art comes in all forms!  Men of color in America, especially MSM are soooooooo concerned about masculinity and whether they appear feminine in truth or other's perception that it's easy to forget, there are tens of millions of men around the world who have bluntly, stopped giving a fuck.  

Look at the radiant joy in his eyes, his art, his face.


Son Of A Gun (Remix)-Janet Jackson featuring Missy Elliott & P. Diddy on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Janet Jackson...I mean come on.  Anyone who knows me and knows that I have been an admirer of her work since day one (once running in a torrential rain storm to a record store for a copy of Rhythm Nation when it first came out).  Of course that she would be a featured artist on this blog.  And that's what I'm going to do,,..share some of the visual/video/media art that I like, respect, enjoy with you.

Now, Son of a Gun, featuring Carly Simon and Missy Elliot (yes, I have all of the remixes, even the one with P. Diddy) should've been a bigger hit than it was.  It wasn't the first single released from the album.  But this here...this is the work.  Now the video, the video does something unique.  It pays homage to the Orishas, Yoruban intermediaries in the spiritual world in a fantastical way.  It re-imagines how one would employ, entreat and have them assist in revenge against a smug 
son of a gun.


La Lupe "Don't Play That Song" on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

La Lupe was out of her the truest,m deepest sense of the word, in the best ways possible.  I was first exposed to her a few years ago watching a documentary and had to get as much of her work as possible.  The way in which she controls, changes, mangles, unravels and emotionalizes a song, not in her original tongue, and transforms it, we Americans so used to this tune, is amazing.


Eli Pope (Scandal) Monologue on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Ok, Joe Morton is an amazing actor.  Absolute credit and accolades due for his role on scandal as Eli Pope, mastermind, father, intelligence chief.  But his monologue, his character is a black site prison, about to be tortured---and here comes the President to mock him is IT.  The epitome of true power as a character, a Black man on TV, unafraid of the President of the United States....because teh work he does is above the President's pay grade!  Even the mocking of having slept with his daughter is turned around in Pope's deft hands and turned into a weapon.  Let us not forget the master stroke usage of Summertime lyrics and Cicero's work about Nero.  With a complete self-allusion to the South, their situation, the lyrics of Summertime and looping back again to Nero!
Masterful as fiction and in acting.


Jennifer Lopez - Get Right on The Kyle Phoenix Blog


Beyoncé - Get Me Bodied (Timbaland Remix) ft. Voltio on The Kyle Phoenix Blog


Beyoncé - Upgrade U ft. Jay-Z on The Kyle Phoenix Blog


Beyoncé - Deja Vu ft. Jay-Z on The Kyle Phoenix Blog


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Black & Latino Men And Their Success by Kyle Phoenix

I've worked a lot over the years, towards my own personal version of success.  I've had the unique opportunity to have worked for several Black and Latino MSM organizations as a coordinator, a teacher, a counselor.  One of the things that comes up is the role of success as individuals and within the framework of dating and/or becoming a couple.  A point, a problem that comes up between men is the imbalance of success.  Men are socially taught to compete with one another, so what happens when you're emotionally and sexually tied to the competition?

I've had the experience of doing well, seemingly from the outside, we all look better, simpler, sleeker, more successful from the outside.  The work from the inside, the nights of unwavering focus, the hours working on projects is rarely seen by those who then look at the train in motion.  Even this, the world wide web of Kyle Phoenix in blogs, books, TV show, newsletters, magazines, book tours, classes, is like the tip of the iceberg to all the work and time I've had to put in.  So when old friends come back and make comments, suggest simplicity to my outcomes or worse yet, throw some shade onto it, I wonder, aloud and privately, if it's just man to man competition.  But then I got some green envied flack from a female friend too.  So it comes up between friends too.

But maybe what connects these observations and experiences is the target, an MSM Black man.  I wonder if within the paradigm of others thinking of me, was I suppose to ever be successful?  I mean I could be the bestie who goes to bars and strip joints and to shop with and go to the movies but was I suppose to ever move outside of that box?  Was I suppose to do more than go to a 9 to 5 job and earn a certain number and complain about my job and express constant misery at the rat race?  What was I suppose to be?

I remember when I would be counseling other men, couples, about this issue and I never thought so many in my life would attack, vanish minimize my own success.  I get so many accolades, from new friends, from strangers from grateful students....and that's fantastic.  But what about the past?  What I've learned so far is that success is a process of steps and in those steps you move from one frame to another, like a movie script.  In high school, my high school lover never moved from the neighborhood and I realized that then.  In college, several past loves have settled into being all the things they railed that they would never become---staid, boring, stuck in the rat race at jobs that don't even fit their degrees.  Then in my adult years---friends and lovers---have fallen into two categories----those who weren't doing what their highest success would be and those who were.  Now I see that there is a bridge, a choice, a path from which one you'll be.  The one trying to materialize your success and not.

There isn't much expected of MSM.  Beyond titillation and sex and fabulousness and occasionally activism, people, even MSM, expect very little of MSM, especially Black and Latino men,  Maybe school, maybe a job.  But definitely hung.  Definitely fabulousness.

So if you're out there, trying.  If you're trying to do something, something incredible.  Know this: they all can't come with you.  In fact, as I learned from Lisa Nichols, the doorway of change, of one's personal success is only big enough for one person to fit through.  You go through alone.  You go through the doorway, through a hallway for years, alone.  Maybe you come out on the other side and decide to go back, to retrieve relatives, old friends.  But a lot of them can't come.  That's the price of success, that's the secret of success: you have to know you can't bring most of the people you know with you.  That's what the guy you're with or want or pine for or dumped you knows---that in order to walk through the doorway to success in a business, in a marriage, in love out of the closet with you----he'd have to let so many people go that he'd be alone.

And most people are terrified of being alone.
The second price of success is you have to be able to tolerate, endure being alone.
The third price is this insight comes to you when you're through the doorway, when you're far enough through the hallway that when you look back, when old friends, relatives and perhaps eve new lovers yell at you from the threshold of your doorway to come back, to be with them, to let go of your efforts.  But maybe their words, their comments, your regrets are the last vestiges of ashes flaking off as you go to and become the new thing....that perhaps our strictly heterosexual counterparts aren't as lambasted from breaking the confines of.

Or perhaps they too have their own confines, it's just not as pronounced or sexuality related?

Kyle Phoenix

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Here’s What LGBT Life In The Middle East Is Really Like

“Oriented” follows the lives of three gay Palestinian friends determined to “change their reality.”
by Yasha Wallin

Watching his fluid movement through the streets, freedom is the first word that comes to mind. Yet the message of freedom is not typically what the West associates with being gay and Arab. But “Oriented,” released on iTunes to coincide with this summer’s Pride celebrations, is not your typical take on the Arab world.The brainchild of Jewish director Jake Witzenfeld, Oriented offers a candid view of LGBT life in the Middle East.
As the Israeli-Gaza conflict escalates in 2014, viewers follow Khader and his friends Fadi Daeem and Naeem Jiryes, all Palestinian, through the daily complexities in their world; waiting out incessant air raids, navigating family dynamics, and the moral implications of dating Jewish men.

And while Khader and his friends are free in many ways, they are also bound: bound by living as a Palestinian in Israel; being gay within sometimes conservative Arab communities; and bound by being labeled something they are not simply because of their religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. After screening “Oriented” in more than 100 theaters internationally, we spoke to Khader over Skype from Tel Aviv.

What would surprise Western viewers about what it’s like to be gay and Arab?
Regardless of the fact that we’re gay, [the film is] an opportunity for the world to see that you cannot rely on some small terror unit and call them Islam, call all of them Arabs or think that we’re eating the same, drinking the same, and praying the same. [Oriented] is the first time you can watch a movie that three gay Arabs are the heroes and not the victims. Usually it’s their family trying to kill them, they’re running away, etc. This is the first time you can see open-minded, really educated people that speak at least three languages, Arab gay guys who are actually not so far from the Western [way of] life and can talk at the same eye level as Western people.
As an Arab living in Israel, how much do you identify with the larger Arab world, especially the gay community?
I identify with almost 80 percent of the Arab world because there is at least 20 percent that I cannot even relate to. I’m talking about fanatic Islam and I’m talking about Muslims that are homophobic. But 80 percent of the Arab world today are fighting the same fight that Europe and America are fighting, the common people who just want to live in peace. I can relate to that totally.
The film shows the dynamic of co-existing with your boyfriend who is Jewish. What were the difficulties you went through as a Jewish/Palestinian couple?
I think you will be affected by politics and things that are happening around you. But does that mean it should ruin your relationship or have a huge argument about it? I don’t need politics when I’m having sex. Love is love.
What would it mean for you if there was a recognized Palestinian state?
We don’t really know. I can say for sure just one thing: that would make my life so much easier or maybe so much harder. But I would have just one cause to fight, over my sexual and personal identity. But because I’m living under the occupation, because I’m living in Israel, I need to talk about two things: the fight of being proud saying that I’m Palestinian without judgment, without racism or without people thinking that I’m going to kill them. The second thing is the fight over my sexual identity in front of my community. I’m not sure that I’m going to see it in our generation, but maybe in the future.
You’ve talked about the idea of “privileged gays,” people that have the luxury of looking for surrogates, getting married and doing all of those things. Can you elaborate?
It is a luxury. These are people who are coming from privileged countries. I don’t underestimate their struggle, and I’m sure that it’s super-hard to have a child with a surrogate, or get married. But to me, it’s just something that I could dream of. Israel/Tel Aviv is well-known as the gay capital of the Middle East. But until today, we don’t have one law to protect us. We cannot get married in Israel. We cannot have a surrogate in Israel. As gays, we don’t have any rights inside the only democracy in the Middle East.
We cannot get married in Israel. We cannot have a surrogate in Israel. As gays, we don’t have any rights inside the only democracy in the Middle East. 
After something like what happened in Orlando, do you feel that people in the U.S. are still in a “privileged” position?
I think that everybody has their own fight. I was so sad when I saw what happened in Orlando because the guy who did it was a Muslim and said he was in ISIS. I started to see a lot of articles and Facebook statuses about Islam—we need to bomb them, destroy them all—coming from within the LGBT society. That was so sad because we are Muslims and we are part of the LGBT community and you are calling for killing all of us. For sure, somebody needs to destroy ISIS. I’m into that. I want that to happen but you cannot blame all of us. We should fight them together.
How do you, and I—the individual—go about fighting them?
We need to start from the understanding that ISIS are not representing all of Islam. We will not participate in this game of Donald Trump, ISIS and I don’t know who. We shouldn’t all go right wing and hate each other. I will not hate Christians. I will not hate Americans. I will not hate English people because they are not from the European Union anymore and going right. Our generation really wants peace. I think that the first step is to say no to this whole system, to the government, to the people who are trying to separate us by our ethnicities, colors, and I don’t know what.
How frustrating is it for you that the Western World immediately associates anything Arab with Isis?
It is frustrating. It’s generalizing everything and you cannot really be yourself anymore. I wish that I could live in a utopic world where I could say, “I’m just gay” or “I’m just human.” But today when the West is turning its back on Arabs and on Islam and on humanity, you start to be afraid.
Why is very little, if any, mention of religion in the film?
While I am Muslim and Fadi and Naeem are Christians, we don’t talk about it inside of our relationship because we are not those kind of boys. We are human. We are not religious people. But for me, it’s super-important for me to say I’m Muslim because I want to show the world, the sheiks, the Muslim fanatics, that we have LGBTs and gays inside our community, to understand that we are here and we are not afraid.
A lot of the film takes place in Jaffa, one of my favorite places. Can you describe what the area is like?
It’s our little island three to five minutes from Tel Aviv, super quiet, super beautiful, with an amazing, historical past. I will say it in the gay language: “Jaffa, give me life.” I am from Jaffa, born and raised and the fact that I could live openly out from the closet in Jaffa and nobody will assault me or attack me, that shows you how the community can use the idea of what it means being gay. Three days ago I was walking in the street and there were two boys, 12 or 13 years old and one of them started mocking me saying, “Look, he’s gay.” Both of them were Arab, and the other kid looked at him and was saying, ““Dude, what do you care? He can do with his life whatever he wants.” For me, that was the point I understood that I can change my city. I can change the world if I changed this situation. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Why I'm An Undecided Voter by Kyle Phoenix

Ironically, I try to stay out of politics.  I say ironically because I've held an appointed political position and I often have to teach politics to teens and adults from a current to historical perspective.  This year long----I don't even know what to call it----gearing up to a Presidential choice has saddened me.  That saddening has made me reticent to "get behind" any of the 4----yes, there are 4 candidates.  One thing that I will say before I get into my mini-rant is that I don't make choices/vote from a perspective of whether I personally-emotionally "like" a candidate.  I see candidates as public employees and my vote as my "hiring" of them.  Oh, and I really dislike and find it disrespectful from sides that scream at me why I should follow them.  Because we all know that being screamed at how wrong you are is exactly what has transformed all of our opinions throughout life.

I'm also deeply concerned about real issues being relegated to non-issues in this election.  Like racism, misogyny, emails, immigration, integrity and the environment  Somehow in the swarm of dualism, the perception that there are only 2 candidates, and therefore two ways of considering the lection and it's issues we've lost sight of this as a leadership role instead of a popularity/agreement contest.  The other day I was strolling along thinking about my undecidedness and I thought about Trayvon Martin and Michael Garner and Sean Bell and about Syrian refugees and Obamacare and Newtown and Detroit and unequal pay and persistent poverty for 40-60 million Americans.

I believe that it takes time for humanity to progress, to move along, to evolve but I also believe that if we are pushed in to only two choices, that's not a choice.  Evolution is not bullying by two political parties to accept one over the other because of disappointment in the current political system or repudiation of negative social traits of a candidate.  What happened to an alignment to hope, to evolution, to progress?  Is gender or it's now this or that one's turn the best progress we can make?  Are there no new ideas?

These past few years have given us an increase in racialized violence frm a police force, armed by the military to no longer be simply peace keepers but paramilitary forces, armed for war in small towns and cities across America.  So we're under a formulating martial law backed by overwhelming armament on the local level.  There was a time when if you and I opposed the police force and got together with a thousand like minded people concerned about our rights, we had a chance.  Now we're against a standing army, everywhere.

Children kill children because of mental illness, influences of excessive violence from their entertainment and a 4000% increase in diagnosis in being of wrongmindedness.  This means that the coming generation is being bombarded by a self-doubt of internal reality perception.  A disconnect from self.  Perhaps even a disconnect from how to connect to a higher power.

I think about candidates expressing racism, discrimination and prejudice and the shock and ire that some react with----often people who've by the virtue of skin color haven't experienced directed racism.  They champion the racists' remarks as character of exclusively his own when even as LBJ crafted the Civil Rights Act with MLK his recorded phone calls have him talking about niggers this and niggers that.  Those of us darker than milk know that many men, particularly older ones, occasionally the rich ones, are the milk most soured.  Walls of color and wan have been built and reinforced for decades by Presidents.  We are in no way surprised by candidates of racialized bent.

EMails really don't matter to me and I watched several seasons of Homeland recently on Hulu so I believe that things that happened in Banghazi and Benghazi, they are two separate places, are often the tip of a classified, interwoven web.  Whether military or diplomats, I believe that when you offer to serve or choose to apply to work for them, make a conscious decision about what they are willing to sacrifice themselves for.

I am undecided because the maelstrom of drama in this election makes me believe that like a bout of diarrhea both those with decades of experience and those with decades of money must go.  It is their level of thinking that lacks solution to domestic and foreign issues.  To the issues that will free people who are now under martial law and children who are targets.  I believe that our societal political system of left or right, dualism, is limited, it demands that in order to be heard, you must first conform to either left or right.  That there are only two ways of seeing the world.  Us or them.  Good and bad.  Male or female.  Black or white.

To not vote is not to sacrifice a candidate it is to say I disagree with you and I disagree with you too.

Now imagine this: a racist in the White House.  We've survived.  There should of course come a time where women manage the office just as they do in European, Eastern and Africa countries.  But is femaleness reason enough?  Was Blackness enough?  I often bristle at the way right and left promise the end of the world should one vote for the other instead of their candidate.  Because that suggests that the rest of us would allow one person to destroy the world because of their elected position.  Humanity is a smidge better than that.  Or that we should flee the land if someone we don't agree with is elected because we've never survived a person of iffy character and personality traits.  Those who suggest they'll flee are of course privileged and what about the rest of us, what about the poorest of us?  What about the people of Detroit who can't leave?  Is one's faith so fragile that one person would make you relinquish your home?  Then what good were you to begin with?

We need men and women of both character and ideas and compassion and strength and even ruthlessness to change the world.  Those kinds of people generally wrestle with themselves, their convictions and watch the world and participate on the levels that matter and those that don't.

I've got students to get through college no matter who is in the White House and a company to manage that will continue to help and educate people all over the world with books and videos and articles.  A President that I'm not in love with, nor like, that will move the boulder and inch is small to me.  Maintaining the status quo of how Washington politics works or simply bringing in brashness isn't moving to me either.    It would be nice to hear on a national platform from the other two candidates, put their feet to the fire and see what the numbers look like then---when opinions and positions that aren't aligned to left or right are taken seriously....because historically that's how we've grown.

Never forget Presidents didn't like or trust MLK......and 93% of Black churches wouldn't host him for years on end DURING the Civil Rights Movement.

Tell me what you think on here or in email:!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Real Issue of Guns (Video) on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

The Real Issue of Guns on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Black Financial Intelligence on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Black Financial Intelligence on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Ezra Klein: Donald Trump's rise is a scary moment in American politics.on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Ezra Klein: Donald Trump's rise is a scary moment in American politics.on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Why Ted Cruz is Dangerous by Robert Reich on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Why Ted Cruz is Dangerous by Robert Reich on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Antonio Neves on Success on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Antonio Neves on Success on The Kyle Phoenix BlogAntonio Neves's Profile Photo

Black Girl Magic by Author and poet Mahogany L. Browne on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Black Girl Magic by Author and poet Mahogany L. Browne on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

Racism Is a Mental Illness (Video)

Racism Is a Mental Illness (Video)

Oprah's Friendship with Gayle King

Oprah's Friendship with Gayle King

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Unhappy Men, Happy Men and Happiness by Kyle Phoenix

                I’m tired about 3% of the time.  And from years of teaching and counseling I recognize that by tired I mean sad or depressed.  Not a heavy blanket of deep ennui but a film, a mild sadness at a host of things.  I’ve noticed this in the past couple of years in relationship to my work, to the people I work with and to the outcomes from that work.  For quite a few years I worked with MSM around relationships, sexuality, identity, and personal advancement.  Now unfortunately there are issues, institutional systems, that affect MSM and pointedly people of color but ultimately, all people.   The agencies I worked for are somewhere between handcuffed and willingly bonded to focusing on HIV funding, exclusively.  Yet a lot of the issues---lack of education, unemployment, poverty, health related issues, psychological health issues and dealing with the social construct (the delusion) of race.

                It can be tiring to experience these issues and it can also be exhausting to experience them as a facilitator/guide/teacher trying to get people to move along to the next level, whatever that might be for the individual.  That’s where I come from, I want advancement for everyone without barriers.  I think such simply that more fulfilled people would be happier and happier people would create a happier society.  Yet I’ve had the work experience for years (totaling thousands of men) to see that MSM, particularly of color, are unhappy.  And that unhappiness leads to destructive behavior, such as Barebacking, drug addiction, impoverishment, because we all want to feel better, however we define “happiness”.  I watch so many good men, along a continuum of reasonably intelligent to brilliant, constantly absorbing the concept of oppression in their words, their actions and the, outcomes.    I often listen to MSM talking about the conspiracies of what they can and cannot do; what the unexperienced world is like; attributing the actions of one (or a dozen) men to ALL men.  God, what I’ve heard about ALL men when a few men have hurt the feelings of an MSM.  They never consider that the Good Man that they pine for is often sitting (or online, viewing) their rant and upset about, dismissing them as the men to avoid.  But because Good Men get to “goodness” by learning to avoid these upset men so the upset men never get the feedback of what isn’t working.  The upset men then get left to only experience Not Good Men because they’ve given off the plague-smell.  No one in their right mind wants to take a chance (or being trapped on a date, much less in a relationship) on this upset man.
                I started The Kyle Phoenix Show online and cable TV to translate my workshops that I’d done with thousands of men (hopefully helping some of them) because I wanted to heal their upset.  My workshops tend to fall into two major demographics: upset men and Good Men (which I went on and titled a book Good Men for Men) and helping them to navigate their lives, wants, desires and such, I’ll say pointedly, without the lessons that women directly and intimately teach men about relationships.  (More of that in my forthcoming book He Is Not You.)

                Personally though when people wonder why I’m a bit of an introvert or sporadically attend parties and events or send missives and cards but not show up all the time it’s because of the fact that I’m pretty happy.  Like 97% of the time unless I see something pointedly sad, I’m pretty much having a red and gold balloon party in my head.  That other 3%, which I believe is natural and levels of empathetic feelings and wistful memories, is rarely hardcore unhappy.  Like when I eat, I tear up.  No, really.  Last night I wanted a small meal and not to cook so I stopped at 7-11 and bought a burrito and put some of the free salsa on it, got home about 10 minutes later and began chomping down on it and my eyes welled with tears.  It was just the right level of warm (I’m not big on very hot food), it was shockingly spicy, it was soft, I could taste the beef and it struck me as a good thing.  Earlier I’d had a big twelve ingredient salad and that too made me tear up.  There’s a deep gratitude and pleasure in food for me.  Ironically I don’t eat emotionally, by that I mean if I feel distressed (rarely) or upset, I don’t reach for food as a salve.  I just like food.  It doesn’t exactly make me happy as it supports my happiness with a gratitude at being a chewing, tasting human.

                Here in NYC, on the trains, in the streets, particularly in Manhattan, I see various people in levels of distress, pain, homelessness and I make it a point to look at them full on, whether I’m going to give money or not.  Because I believe people should be seen.  IF you’re ever with me, and someone approaches asking, depending on a variety of reasons and observations (I’m somewhere between Detective Columbo and Dr. Cal Lightman of Lie to Me in reading people), I might tell them “No, thank you.”  Particularly if they speak to me/ask for money.  Because I believe that person is still a human being who should be eye to eye acknowledged, even if it’s a no and treated with courtesy.  At the same time I believe that I have the self-human right to say yes or no to that which is presented to me to participate in or with.  “No, thank you (I don’t want to participate in your energy.  Why?  Because I have the intrinsic right to decide the yeses and noes for this body and its’ resources.)”

                But I also pray for people.  Sometimes the prayer is thanks when I see people who’ve had some hand---drugs, alcohol---in their bad circumstances---“But for the Grace of God go I.  Thank you, God for my being this way instead of that way.”  Other times it’s “Thank you, God for giving me the resources I have that I’m not in that situation and the reasoning capability to keep myself form that situation.”  Then there’s: “Thank you, God for not putting me through that right there.”  (Sometimes that’s someone with a handicap or an affliction---it can get a little Lord of the Rings make-up cast truck in the NYC subway system.  Years ago, at least 10, Richard Gere on The Oprah Winfrey Show talked about a prayer taught to him by the Dali Lama that I’ve practiced regularly since, when looking at someone, anyone thinking to one’s self: “The Light of God within me, salutes and blesses the light of God within you.”

                If you’ve read my blogs or books you know there’s been death, disappointment, abuse, pain, drama, foolishness, madness, racism, imprisonment, betrayal and bad customer service in my life so far.   I expect there will be more…because that’s life.  But when people are ragging on about the world, about the Them who are destroying every little corner of possible hope and happiness (yet amazingly people can recognize this vast conspiracy yet kind of standstill for the rape, I notice), I notice the lack of gratitude, generosity, and a new thing I learned, but had been practicing form the book The Presence, suspension.

                I often suspend myself with you, others, the world.  Like I’m not a big political person (no, I haven’t watched any of the debates; mainly because I see it all as theater.  Grand theater.  Political theater.  But theater all the same.) I think it’s more important that I go somewhere and teach a class to immigrants or people in poverty or to geniuses in the evenings.  Or that I volunteer to feed people or cook for a few hours for them.  But I decided to listen/watch Dr. Ben Carson (I’d seen the biographical movie on him a few years back) on Charlie Rose.  I like Charlie Rose (and Tavis Smiley) but I don’t watch TV (I own a giant flat screen but use it for expanding my pc/laptop monitor capacity so I can type without contacts or glasses on) so I watched his interview on Hulu.  There were things I agreed with and disagreed with.  Then I watched Peter Travers interview Michael Moore on his show Popcorn.  Then I watched him interview George Miller (the first movie I’d seen in theaters in almost two years was Mad Max: Fury Road, so I was interested in the director.  I didn’t know he used to be a medical director and had directed all the Mad Max films, Happy Feet and the Babe pictures!  I saw Happy Feet in the theater as an animated lark and went out and bought the Earth, Wind and Fire collection right afterwards because of wanting their music after seeing the film.)

               I thought of Dr. Carson and where he was at within the context of Clare Graves / Don Edward Beck’s Spiral Dynamics theory (whom I discovered through Dr. Ken Wilber’s Theory of Everything book) and then I thought about the Future Files by Friedman paralleling some of Carson’s thinking on foreign policy. Then I watched Shonda Rhimes on Charlie Rose. 

                While eating my lunch, fried chicken from Popeye’s (I try to limit it to once a month because my family are the not only the poster children but the graphic designers and delivery team for heart disease) and writing this piece up.  Yes, I’ve meandered through things that make me happy and unhappy and no, I haven’t given you any magic serum for happiness because the truth is: it’s a choice.  You either choose to be happy, to be optimistic, to think well of people (even the shitty, dumb acting ones) and to wish ugly, mean people well and to accept attitudes (I have a customer service feedback rant in me ready to spring out---but I’m going to channel it into a vocational book) and the literal unfairness of life.  Because only children (and the juvenile minded) expect fairness from the universe---ask nature, beautifully embodied in the lion and the gazelle about the fairness of slaughter vs. starvation---and you’ll discover the truth.  Happiness does not feel like a party all the time.  Just 97% of the time.  The rest, you’re a little saddened by stuff.  But grateful to have had the experience because you know it could be worse or is worse for others.


Thank you for reading.
Thanks and enjoy!
You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter!
Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on
Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon)
Fridays at 11pm simulcast on and

All books by Kyle Phoenix are available through and Barnes & Noble.
Sign up for the mailing list on my website (I’ll never share your information with a 3rd party) and you’ll receive the E newsletter and alerts about new products, books, and Special Reports.

Copyright © The Omni Group, Inc , 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016

Keep Calm, It's Just Melanin, Part 1 by Kyle Phoenix

                 I’ve written a lot about race.  Examining it and sexuality as two sides of an identity coin as I try to make sense of two categorizations that to the audience say everything about a person but to that person, the subject, reveal very little.  I live and work on the island of Manhattan, moving through millions of people every day who fall into such myriadical categories that I have a hard time sometimes discerning what language, much less dialect of that language is occurring next to me.  As I try to mature my work, through reading and research and talking to people, I find myself torn.  Torn between the concept of racial solidarity and human evolution.  I know that both exist but I suppose I want validation form the world, or definition from the world that one is a road trip to the other.

                While teaching I am often challenged by either the topic or sometimes even the students to define race or two give a back story to it.  If I’m teaching about the Cuban Revolution then I have to define some aspects of the culture, the relationship to Western powers, what it means to be Latino, where the concept of Latino came from.  If I teach about the Haitian Revolution then I have to answer the classifications and injustices that sparked off such a vicious and lengthy struggle for liberation from the French, English and Dutch empires.  I’m literally forced to explain what I can only personally perceive as insanity. 
                By insanity I mean the lining up of people, in America, and based upon 4 arbitrary characteristics (lips, hair, nose and amount of melanin) creating a whole social system with deep stratifications.  Daily I watch the world around me revolving, pushing against, struggling with, railing at these arbitrary assignments.  Whether it’s young people routinely, and loudly, calling each other nigga or Black and Latino people attributing racial bias to everything that occurs negatively from someone who we would consider White, I see the roiling manifestation of this insanity.  While we’re able to track overt racism and the impact it has on individuals in terms of violence or the prison system or employment ias, I often look at the softer, deeper impacts.  Simply the stress of constantly carrying race as a burden, as a targeting system, as a weapon---whatever classification, Asian, White, Black, etc. you might fall into.  I remember when I was a teenager and I was experimenting with writing, figuring out plots and characters to explore, stories to invent and situations to imagine when race became an obstacle for me.  I’d written a ten notebook opus, The Hemmingways, a twisted ode to shows like Dynasty and Knots Landing and soap operas like One Life To Live.  As an exercise I can say that good parts were in the doing, trying out language and how to describe everything from clothes to the look of a room.  How to build and hold tension.  All the aerobics a young writer needs to go through with.  Suddenly I was confronted within my handwritten script by some characters being White, some Black, some Latino, a couple Asian and what did that mean?  I’d found that characters could attack each other and suddenly racial epithets became available but by their use I had to deal with the fact that meant that my characters, in their bubble micro-verse, had carried in racism.  And if they’d carried in racializing others then what did that mean for their characters?  Suddenly I was further confronted with the fact that I hadn’t done a very thorough job of dealing with race and the situations I was proposing in my fictitious world.  Okay, I thought and continued plotting and designing lives and plots and soon I realized that every time I introduced a character, race was either assumed or had to be explicitly stated.  By that I mean suddenly my characters seemed all White unless I said they weren’t.  And if they weren’t White (or worse if they were) I suddenly had to deal with race.  I found that I couldn’t have a multi-ethnic cast of characters without dealing with race.

                The game over the years in my writing has become when designing a character to consider his or her race and then build a character appropriately.  But if I build them and they don’t fall into White then part of their inherent existence is dealing with race.  I then found that this translated off of the page as well, suddenly I too was conscious of dealing with race, experience race, considering race or purposefully not considering it, shutting off my racial barometer.  It’s possible but difficult.  In fact I wouldn’t call the shutting so much of off as a hypersensitivity to seeing people, seeing the potential for racial classification and trying to experience them beyond it.  For instance, young people, in their early twenties and below, especially women, I’ve noticed, are loud in public and on the train.  When I glance over I have to upbraid myself for racializing that general observation.  Often it’s Black or Latino people but sometimes it’s White ones too.  But I have to catch myself. I have to edit the idea that it’s just Blacks and Latinos.  That the Blacks and Latinos are loud because they’re Black and Latino.  I also notice that White people get negated, are treated like a necessary evil, pushed to the background of reality like white noise or static, unless I have a personal relationship with them.  Is that what they do to people who aren’t White, I wonder?

                I spend a lot of time forgiving people nowadays.  It has a lot to do with understanding that race is a social construct and to my thinking an unclassified mental illness/delusion.  The delusion swings both ways though.  Recently with an invitation form a friend, I started attending a book club.  A Black book club.  She’d mentioned reading some interesting fiction and I thought it was going to go there, that it was going to be more fun fiction rather than the intense non-fiction discourse it became.  It happened right around my own school break from being a student and teaching so I had some mental hard drive space to do some really critical thinking about a text.  What discovered was that we could all agree that we were looking at the world but often times there was a racial prism that we saw through and that prism deposited us in only two possible spaces---us vs. them.  The them were the enemy, the enemy was White people.  Don’t get me wrong there were places and spaces socially and historically where we were reading about overt racism and prejudice but when we rounded ourselves up to the 21st century, I found a distinct lack of cogent thought.  I found myself throwing out a challenge to the anger and frustration and mental desire to rearrange reality with White people, I challenged the group: What do we want?  What do we really want?  Do we want to create systems and structures or recompense that is the equivalent of prejudice against White people?  Is that the greatest, deepest lesson we’ve collectively learned from oppression?  To be prejudiced?  Did we want to change White people or did we want to become them?

                On the intellectual surface the questions seem salient, even incisive but in the group they became incendiary.  Why?  Over the years of doing workshops and teaching classes and being in classes, I’ve learned that people exist on two wavelengths at the exact same time.  They believe things which they don’t believe.  Or their deeply held beliefs that they use to construct their identity, don’t make sense, aren’t fruitful nor empowering but are viciously defended.  The answers to shifting social power to how to dismantle oppressive structures disintegrated to “…let me tell you how wrong they (White people) are today…”. It became a sort of victims topping game where seething anger and frustration was levelled at anyone who wasn’t seething and frustrated.  I’d hoped to not be in such an arena where I had to defend radical and progressive thinking (that somehow in spite of a truly disturbed and entangled history, we must find a way to dismantle this social delusion for the betterment of all humans) that it wasn’t aligning to White people or just as bad, denying Black people.  But any questioning or non-militant stance or seeking to evolve is often seen by Black people as collaboration, as if there are only two modalities within race.  We’ve adopted the oppressors concept of anything that questions the system is inherently opposed to it and therefore villainous and anyone that doesn’t vehemently deride the  ”other” group is a collaborator with them and a “race traitor”.

                Ironically we’ve learned such tactics and perceptions from the very oppressors we label as oppressors.  We’ve found the enemy and he is us.
                I wish I could tell you that it got better within the book club, it didn’t.  In fact, I watched as others fell out of the group for extremist reasons.  They felt the rhetoric was too extreme or more interestingly some felt it wasn’t’ extreme enough.  But a consensus amongst the people who left was that we were going around in intellectual circles, we were textually revisiting a closed past, we weren’t learning new skills to deal with the oppressive system we found ourselves in at varying levels, we weren’t sharing personal strategies and networking.  We were commiserating and definitively placing blame.  I bring this inclusively full circle to sexuality because I’ve been in groups that did the same but that notably in Black mixed sexuality groups, non-heterosexuality bias/homophobia and misogyny/patriarchy eases it’s way in, nibbles at the edges, offers to become a rallying cry or a standard.

                White people don’t know completely what racism is because they project it but don’t always experience it.

                People who aren’t designated as White think they know accurately what racism and prejudice are and use the value of their being racialized as a measurement of their ability to identify the bias.  “White people label me Black therefore I know what prejudice is.”
                But do we?

                Case in point.  I sit typing in a classroom on the Columbia University campus on a snowy day.  I have a few haunts on campus, buildings where I know classes are over, closer to food spots, closer to the train, that I frequent for my long sessions of editing and typing.  The system here is that if a classroom is free a singular person or during finals sometimes small groups acquire classrooms but if you want it definitely exclusively to yourself, you have to reserve it.  Everyone is trumped by an incoming class.  On this snowy day after three hours of typing, sitting in a hard wooden chair and having pulled a muscle slipping and sliding in the snow, I laid out on the carpeted floor, just to pull my back muscles, to relax them in something other than this crunch I’m in in the seat.  I even found it was warm on the floor by the gentle heating system and I could read by the floro level windows or glance out and muse on passing students.
            Then two officers arrived.
Was I okay?
Was I a student?
Yes.  And an employee.
            The public safety officers left. 
            Now when I thought about it I wondered had someone spied me through the frosted glass door in this 16-person (pretty small) classroom by myself for the past few hours?  Had they see me lay down and stretch?  Were they concerned I was having a heart attack?  Or was I just a Black man not doing what Blakc men are supposed to do?  The public safety officers were both Black, male and female, and earlier a Latina maintenance worker stopped in, checking to see if she had to clean.  Suddenly I’ve become racially alert or self-conscious.  Have I don’t something wrong?  Did a passing White person think I was out of pocket in my actions?  What can I do or not do besides sit and type?  AM I under video surveillance in the classroom?
           Now here’s the rub.  I sure as hell know and notice that the White kids ain’t thinking this deeply about the whole situation.  In face when confronted with these racial-maybe situations I imagine myself “White” to check reality without my sense of Black identity and all the suspicion that goes with it.  (Harshly I want to get one of those shirts that’s says Keep Calm and add…It’s Just Melanin.  Or Keep Clam I won’t Be Raping You Today.  Or Keep Calm, I Won’t Be Asking for Money.)   Aside from my dark thought digression what I do see is that I regularly tour through about three different buildings, on various floors, midterms and finals increasing my visitations, to get blocks of time to work in relative quiet, in a safe, clean environment.  But race, the social delusion can make me crumple into either a frothing Black warrior wronged by the invisible White gaze siccing the Black proletariat workers on me, their brother!  Or Herbert Marcuse’s thoughts about the societal subject taking on the internalized paranoia of the “being watched by Big Brother” stance whenever challenged so as to self police.  Or suddenly uncomfortable in a room I’ve been coming to for years, when it’s free and have gotten an immense amount of work done.

                What if, as I think about, as has happened in the past, they were just doing a routine touring of the building, saw my stuff on the table---laptop, books, Pepsi, coat and wondered where I was?  What if they were checking on me to make sure I hadn’t had a heart attack or some sort of genius mental stroke out? 

                Has race gone so deeply into our collective psyche that one has to literally sit back and do a five-minute critical self-analysis to figure out reality?  And what becomes of those who can’t critically think this reflectively, this calmly, present back to public safety I’m fine, my back just hurts?

                I’m evolving.  I know race doesn’t exist.  I know it’s an illusion.  But in order to know that I literally have to wage psychic war, mainly on myself.


Thank you for reading.
Thanks and enjoy!
You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter!
Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on
Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon)
Thursdays at 1130pm simulcast on and

All books by Kyle Phoenix are available through and Barnes & Noble.
Sign up for the mailing list on my website (I’ll never share your information with a 3rd party) and you’ll receive the E newsletter and alerts about new products, books, and Special Reports.

Copyright © The Omni Group, Inc , 2015