12.13.14: a date of progress, a moment of tears

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To say yesterday was memorable is an understatement. To see hundreds quickly grow into thousands then into tens of thousands was inspiring. To know that people will no longer stand for injustices that are ever-present in this country is encouraging. To hear white, black, brown, young, old, male, female voices unified in the shout for change stirred hope. But what was most moving was to see the emotions. The anger, the tears, the frustration, the joy, the humanity.

One moment in particular stands out. As we marched down 5th Avenue I caught eyes with a black woman who had tears running down her face. She embraced the moment and continued her eye contact, as if to silently share the origin of those tears. Listening with my eyes, I heard and felt her overwhelming promise that this march symbolized. The hope that the thousands who joined her in her desire for justice and equal treatment represented. #Progress.

LD
#MillionsMarchNYC

New Music: Lance Drummonds – “Stars and Stripes”

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New Music Alert! This one is a bit more politically focused. Considering it is election day, the day to express your pleasure or displeasure with our country and its representatives, I am releasing a song called, “Stars and Stripes.” This song was inspired by the events in Ferguson, Missouri and was born out of frustration with the common misperceptions of this country. I believe in this country, and believe at this point in time we are far better than those events displayed. So as an artist, I took the liberty to express those sentiments through the majesty of song. I hope you enjoy and I hope it resonates.

LD

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New Music: Lance Drummonds – “Elm Street”

Good day and Happy Halloween!

In an effort to celebrate the horror season and more importantly embrace courage, I’m releasing a song that should have been released before today.  Music for me, especially now, is less about fame and validation, but more about contributing to this world.  If I can impact ONE person, I’ve done my job.  With that said, if you like the song, please feel free to pass it on, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, whatever you wish. I am grateful and thank you.  If you don’t like the song, thanks for stopping by, but a song that you do like will soon come *Caribbean accent. But ultimately, I’m excited to share it with you.  

Sincerely,

Lance  Drummonds

“Be Safe Out There” – The new concern

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After re-engaging my gym rat status, I hit the locker room for the standard shower and wardrobe change.  As I’m putting my shoes on I encounter a fellow baller, basketball specifically.  You know those guys, the ones who, after a few intense ball games, you develop a distant but solid bond that encourages cordial banter.  After we spoke about pro-sports and recent gym observations, I got up to leave and offered him a pound (aka the fist bump–can’t stand that name btw).  As our fists hit, the 30-something year old black man looked at me with a casual, but earnest look and said, Be safe out there my dude.” 

The words echoed in my mind for much longer than I would have ever imagined.  “Be safe out there?” From what? From who? A decade ago when someone told me to be safe out there, it meant to protect myself from myself or from the mean streets of wherever the local gang and violence was.  BUT NOW, a whole new worry has saturated my mind: law enforcement.

Let me just say that I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. Sue me. So I don’t completely believe that the police are barbarically and mercilessly trying to intentionally/consciously shoot young black men. [ Sidenote: I do, however, think unconscious bias is a serious issue in policing decisions.] But in that moment, that baller’s salutation led to a personal mental scroll through a gallery of police images, most of which were negative. Be safe out there my dude.” 

In the past few years, we’ve been inundated with story after story, statistic after statistic, and video after video all leading us to think that the police are the people who need watching.  Couple that with the fact that in most of these images, stories, and videos, it is young, often unarmed, black men getting shot. It gets you thinking: “I may have to watch my back around the cops,” “My skin color resembles a bullseye,”or “Am I a threat?”  Rarely did such questions enter my consciousness before.  Maybe I was sheltered growing up in Nassau County and the dynamic between law enforcement and people of color has always been this way.  But regardless, lately, I cannot avoid the countless reminders that I, or someone I care about, could be next.

It reminds me of the Henry Louis Gates solution.  You know, the Harvard Professor who attempted to “break and enter” into his own home and had a…let’s say “challenging” encounter with police.  The incident itself is one thing, but what I am reminded of is President Obama’s solution.  He sat them both down and talked race over a beer.  Remember that? It was a “teachable moment.”  Wouldn’t it be great if we could get law enforcement to sit down with the prevailing minds in the black community and just talk differences, perceptions, and ideas over a nice cold beer? You know, hash it out like civilized people.  Is that too far fetched? Are our biases so solidified that there is little hope to change for the better?

As I grow older my thoughts are less about my own well-being and more on my current and future family’s.  How far have we really come when studies continue to show that someone is instinctually more likely to shoot a black man with his hands raised than a white man with a weapon (See: Melissa Harris Perry and Project Implicit Weapons test)

It is dreadfully unfortunate that anyone has to deal with this mental burden, but it is the reality that we live in.  “Will I be next?” “Will my brother be next?” “Will someone I know be next?” I’m tired just typing that.  It is also sad to know that I, and other black men, spend considerable mental energy being aware of our presence in public spaces and of the perception of others, taking away from the capacity to being completely focused on career, wedding plans or anything that a 30-something year old should look forward to. In reality, I am a positive person, with no intention of ill will, someone who always gives others the benefit of the doubt.  But I just pray that if I should ever interact with law enforcement, for whatever reason, they offer me the same courtesy.

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Nas. His music represents more than dope lyrics over a classic beat.  It represents the period of my life where I became aware, self-awareness specifically. Repeatedly, I’d listen to track after track ’till I memorized the lyrics.  For me, there was existential power in Nas’ music and to see his journey in this documentary is a focus of mine this weekend.

LD

Yosemite National Park/Napa Valley – What a journey.

After a weekend of partying at the now infamous #HennyPalooza party, I realized that I never had a chance to post pictures from my recent excursion to Yosemite National Park and then to Napa Valley. Yosemite which you can see from the first gallery was nothing short of breathtaking (literally in some cases, 9,000 ft altitude will do that).  The sites were truly marvelous and the experience was memorable.  From the hikes to the people Yosemite is a must do.  We stayed in Yosemite Valley; it is where the treacherous 11 hour Half Dome trail is located and also where some of the best views of the park are as well. Check out the pics below.

After our journey through the mountainous, Sequoia tree filled wilderness we ventured onward to Napa Valley for some relaxation. We stayed in Calistoga at the Chateau de Vie, a simply charming, five star service, bed and breakfast. The owners Philip and Peter were a delight to be around and they wanted nothing less than to provide us with the best service they possible could, and they succeeded. THE FOOD WAS OUT OF SIGHT. *psychedelic voice. If you ever go, try the Tampanade. Overall, wine country was a very relaxing experience. I’m more of a green person, so to walk through vineyards, bike through the quaint downtown, and to enjoy the fruit of the towns labor was everything I needed. Calistoga specifically, to me, had a little more character than Napa. Nothing against Napa, but it seemed slightly too touristy for me. And yes, we were there six hours before the earthquake, so we made it out JUST in time! All the best to the valley in its recovery. A great experience indeed. Pictures below. DSC_0178

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