“Our Treasure” by Butch Ford

Chadwick Boseman

“Our Treasure” by Butch Ford

It was 6 am Saturday, August 29, 2020…and the news of the sudden passing of Chadwick Boseman essentially shook me to my core.  It felt like a family member was taken away.  At 43 years young, he made his mark in the African American culture in so many ways. 

He portrayed the iconic roles of Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and my favorite…the convincing and believable King T’Challa in Marvel’s’ The Black Panther. He made us beam with pride as he gave children of color a superhero we would identify with and be proud of.  He brought the fictitious Wakanda to life and into our hearts and culture.  He had everyone doing the handshake greeting, followed by the arms crossing the chest.

As a black man, 2020 has knocked me to my knees more times then I care to discuss.  From the pandemic to the current administration and the clown-like antics of the arch-enemy/villain #45 and his divisive underhanded, racist agenda. It’s a day to day struggle just having to wake up and face the day’s ills as a black man in Trump’s America. 

As that kid who wanted to be a superhero from age four or five…I wish I had the lightning-fast speed of The Black Panther, to outrun the bullshit I’m faced with daily. It’s difficult waking up black in a country that doesn’t value or respect me and having the strength, endurance, and durability to carry an entire race on my back as we fight for justice & equality. I wish I could possess the power of his suit (with Vibranium weaved into the fabric) and absorb kinetic energy or energy in motion to use when the weight of the world is on my shoulders daily.

The point I’m making is, Mr. Boseman is yet another jewel our community has lost way too soon.  He touched so many lives at such a young age with his talent.  And he’ll be remembered and treasured for his excellence in the way he portrayed some of our greatest heroes.  We will forever carry you in our hearts and souls, young brother.

Although we’re mourning and may disagree, I guess your work here was done.  Rest peacefully. Wakanda Forever!

-Butch Ford

“A Vicious Cycle” by Butch Ford

“A Vicious Cycle” by Butch Ford

I read a post a few months ago, and it read, “If we kill US & if they kill US.  There will no more US.”  That resonated in my spirit, and my soul couldn’t rest.  It inspired me to write about it.  Then you factor in the lives lost to COVID-19, and the lady who posted it was right.  We’re becoming the next endangered species.  I’m appalled, outraged, deeply concerned, and morally defeated.

In broad daylight, Minnesota resident George Floyd, yet another unarmed black man senselessly lost his life to four Minneapolis Police Department officers.  Breona Taylor was slain in her own home during a “no-knock” search warrant executed by the Louisville, Kentucky Police.  And there are several other similar cases too numerous to mention.

Our country has a serious problem, and it’s time to address it.  It’s 2020, and the same social injustices that my grandparents fought about and against 60+ years ago still exist today.  People have had enough.  It’s time for a change.  But where do we start?  The hatred is so deeply rooted in the fabric of America.  Only now, it’s blatant and extremely obvious…plus highly visible to anyone who cares to pay attention.  But we are fighting a losing battle?

The one bright spot in all of this is, several other ethnic groups are protesting and standing alongside African Americans in our fight for equality, this time.  It’s pleasing, and it shows that we aren’t in this battle alone.  Some things have changed since the Civil Rights Movement in the ’60s, and there are still good people in our country. 

My biggest concern is the heinous and senseless black on black crime…we’ll get into that topic later.  But make no mistake about it.  It’s time to stop the mistreatment of minorities and end all racial discrimination once and for all.  We should all be outraged and should demand systematic reform.  What are your thoughts? 

My First Love By Butch Ford

We met way back in 1976 when I was just eight years old. I didn’t know very much about you at that time. But my grandmother felt it was a great idea for us to meet and get further acquainted with one another. You were as foreign as a far and distant land. Little did anyone know how close we would become in the subsequent years that followed.

I remember being intimidated by your very presence. It was hard to figure you out, initially. It felt like trying to pick up a second language. And as a shy kid…I couldn’t look you in the eye without feeling intimidated. But I was determined to conquer my fear of you and accept every challenge we suddenly faced.

You were extremely fast…so very complex and even intricate…down to the slightest detail. Yet my intrigue was through the roof. I had begun to eat, drink, and dream of you only…non-stop! You had become my obsession. The more time I spent with you, the deeper I fell. You were all I wanted to do.

As time went on, people would see us together, and they knew we were a match made in heaven. You were good to me, and you made me happy. We would go to experience and accomplish many great feats together. I got to meet some incredible life-long friends. And I don’t know what my life would have been like without you.

I don’t see much of you anymore, but the memories are forever embedded in my soul. I still miss your scent, the joy you brought into my world, and the confidence I gained from being with you for so long that can never be replaced. My grandmother must’ve seen something in you. I’m glad she introduced us. BASEBALL…you will always be my first love.

-Butch Ford

“Gone But Not Forgotten” by Butch Ford

Joe Louis Areana

“Gone But Not Forgotten” by Butch Ford

As the world continues to change and as we further adjust to our new way of life, two staples in Detroit sports history have recently been demolished, right up under our noses; Joe Louis Arena and The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Both monuments were the homes to several  NHL Stanley Cup and NBA Finals Championships by the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons respectively…as well as countless concerts, Monster Truck Shows, The Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus, and NCAA Collegiate Athletic Events.

Some of my fondest memories took place in these venues.  The Controversy and Purple Rain Tours by Prince; New Edition’s Heart Break and Home Again Tours, The Soldier of Love Tour by Sade, and The Triple Threat Tour featuring Bell Biv Devoe, Johnny Gill & Keith Sweat.

Palace

But it was the championship tradition established by our two winning franchises that make these such colossal losses.  We all remember The Bad Boys in the late ’80s.  Who could forget Steve Yzerman and The Russian Five?  And the “Going To Work” Pistons of the ’90s with Big Ben, Rip, Chauncey & Rasheed made us beam with pride.

We’re all gonna miss “The Joe” and “The House That Isiah Built” as they were affectionately known, but the memories will last for generations.  Detroit is a sports town with a rich sports history.  We’re just patiently awaiting the next wave to ride.  Don’t worry.  It’s coming soon.  But this time it will take place in the beautiful Little Caesars Arena.

 

Butch Ford

“A Match Made in Heaven” by Butch Ford

 

Friendship

“A Match Made in Heaven” by Butch Ford

There was a hodge-podge group of people I met back in the fall of 1982.  I was the new kid and essentially “a fish out of water.”  I didn’t live in the area and had no history with any of them to speak of.  I would just observe and take mental notes until I felt more comfortable with things.

KB was the first one I met. She was a sweet, quiet, and shy young lady who was really kind to me but was always about her business.  YB was the “cutie” in the designer jeans.  She had long flowing hair and always seemed to turn heads whenever she would strut past you.  RR was this fast-talking, loud chick who always appeared angry to me.  You would hear her coming long before you’d actually see her.  She was an acquired taste, in my opinion.  DD was a bright, charismatic, intellectual sista who was simply brilliant.  And she knew it too.  A precursor of things to come, perhaps?

Double J. was the “around the way girl” who knew everybody and vibed with everyone she came in contact with.  LS and BS were the laid back biological sisters who you could barely tell apart.  They had million-dollar smiles and were sweet as pie.  They had a younger sibling LS, who was a little rough around the edges and wasn’t one to play with.  But we got along great.

DM and NP were best friends from way back. They were a bit hard for me to assess.  Probably because I didn’t see them very often.  According to the brothas, NP flaunted the physique of a grown-ass woman much older than her actual teenaged years.  A “traffic stopper” if you will.  And DM was a lady in every sense of the word who carried herself with a quiet and sneaky confidence…like she was hiding something.  JE was the athlete.  She played every sport…and excelled at each one of them.  She was smart, as well.

KM was a quiet brother who resembled someone from the DeBarge family. He barely spoke above a whisper.  SS and OP were down-to-earth, cool individuals that were unassuming and mostly played the background.  But they were loved by all.  And then there was me.

None of us really hung out together.  And we all seemed to run in different crowds.  I’d later discover that the majority of them did indeed have a history with each other.  As they attended elementary and middle school together years prior.  But at that time, everyone was trying to find themselves and carving their own niche in the world.  It’s called growing up.

Today…35 years later: Kecia, Yolanda, Rita, Dionne, Joycelyn, Linda, Brenda, Lisa, Dianne, Nichelle, Jacqueline, Keith, Sylvia, Onza, La’Tricia, Patricia and my cousin Freda share the tightest and most incredible bond.  They are more than just my friends.  They are my family.  Although It’s hard to put into words what they truly mean to me.  If you were to sit them down and ask them about it… I’m sure they’d tell you something similar to what I’m trying to describe to you right now.  It’s special.

Life is so short and nothing is guaranteed.  Love one another.  Be good to each other.  We never know where life will take us or what God has planned for us.  I couldn’t have foreseen the closeness I would eventually share with these people.  None of us saw this coming.  But it’s here and we’ve embraced it.  I can’t imagine what my life would be like without any of them.  We’re all still very different, but that’s what makes it all work.  Truly a match made in heaven.

 

Butch

 

“Motown Philly” by Butch Ford

Motown Records

 

“Motown Philly” by Butch Ford

The 1960s introduced us to a brand new sound.  It originated in a tiny little home on the westside of Detroit called “Hitsville”  The founder and visionary Berry Gordy recruited every talented musician, singer, and songwriter in the area to put his dream in motion.  He wanted to make “music for the people.”

The result was a musical revolution dubbed “The Motown Sound.”  Happy music with the ability to bring people together peacefully and harmoniously.    We fell in love with The Temptations, The Tops, Marvin, Stevie, The Supremes, Smokey, Gladys, The Jackson 5 and so many others.  The backbone was a group of relatively unknown musicians named The Funk Brothers (google them) who brought Gordy’s vision to life.  Songwriters such as William Robinson, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Norman Whitfield, and countless others combined to form this dream team that changed American History forever.

In 1971, Philadelphia International Records was launched.  It was the brainchild of the legendary songwriting/production team of Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff with their long-time friend and collaborator Thom Bell.  The goal was to tap into the endless supply of talent in and around the city of Philadelphia.  Hence…”Philly Soul” was born.

The sound was built upon beautifully orchestrated string arrangements combined with driving bass and percussion.  Not to mention strong soulful vocals and intricate harmonies.  From this…Patti LaBelle, The O’Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, Billy Paul, Lou Rawls, and The Jacksons (who defected from Motown) made their mark in Soul/R&B History.

There’s still a friendly debate that exists today.  You might hear some old cats arguing about which Record Company or era produced the greatest music.  It’s a matter of opinion, I suppose.

New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe member and co-founder Michael Bivins were onto something when he coined the phrase “Motown Philly” back in the early ’90s while developing Boyz II Men.  He understood the influence of both companies and the impact they had on the history of Black Music.  Personally…you can’t go wrong with either.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the contributions of Staxx and Chess Records.  They both played a huge part in the fabric of soul music as we know it today, as well.

Butch Ford

 

 

 

 

“Inspired by George Floyd” by Butch Ford

George Floyd

“Inspired by George Floyd” by Butch Ford

Sometimes I sit and reflect on the way life used to be.  Naw that’s actually some bullshit.  Honestly…I do that quite a bit.  Things were a lot easier when we were the kids.  We had parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles to lead and guide us.  They showed us right from wrong and there were lessons in everything they would say.  Life seemed so pure and innocent back then.
There were obvious challenges, but we were protected from them.  We didn’t know we were poor.  We weren’t aware that they struggled so mightily.  All we saw and felt was the overabundance of love that they showered us with.
Personally, I had strong ties in my church home in which I was raised.  The block I grew up on was a tight-knit extended family.  Little League, Highschool & College Baseball produced unbreakable lifetime bonds. And dozens of friends have lasted throughout the decades.
But today…a lot of the influential people I made reference to earlier have gone on to glory.  And life isn’t quite the same without them anymore…as now, we are the parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.  It’s our responsibility to carry on the legacy of strong, positive, respectful, and proud role models & leaders to the generations watching us.  In some aspects, we’ve made strides.  And in several ways, we’re failing them.
The name George Floyd has become synonymous with change, reform and unity.  But there’s a lot of additional work that has to be done.  This is only the beginning.  But it seems as though we’ve turned the corner.  Whites are standing with us in our struggle.  Our voices are being heard.  And it’s stretched beyond our borders.
I can’t speak for everyone.  But I know my relatives, church family, neighborhood family, educators, coaches, friends, and Civil Rights Activists who are no longer with us…have to be smiling down on us & beaming with pride.  Maybe we have finally “overcome.”
                                               Butch Ford

Fool’s Paradise by Butch Ford

Fool's Paradise

Fool’s Paradise by Butch Ford

Comedian Chris Rock once said the profound words, “I love my black people.  But I can’t stand n***as” during a comedy tour two decades ago.  I laughed hysterically as did the rest of the audience.  But sadly, those words still reverberate in my mind, body, and spirit to this very day…for obvious reasons.

I’m saddened, embarrassed, and infuriated at how far we…as prideful people have fallen in just over a half-century.  Dignity, self-respect, and honor have all but dissipated.  Almost as if it never existed.  Mission Accomplished!  I feel that this was orchestrated by “the establishment.”  But we’re playing right into their hands.  Keep us poor, uneducated, unhealthy, superficial, angry, barbaric, and at odds with each other…fighting for scraps.  That way we’re diverted and unaware of the bigger agenda.

Stimulus packages, unemployment bonuses and government hand-outs were implemented to create further chaos and dissension within our communities.  Designed to infiltrate, separate, and further destroy…in my opinion.  But when does it end?  There’s a target on our backs.  And the majority of us can’t see beyond the current fashion trends, the marijuana dispensaries or the latest beef in the entertainment industry.  Mass media outlets flood us with this garbage.

Black on black crime, unspeakable acts committed against African Americans by other races, and the Covid-19 pandemic are at a premium and are taking us out at an alarming rate.  Either nobody’s paying attention.  Or…no one seems to care.  That’s what’s so disturbing.  And the government wants us to believe that it’s safe to open everything back up and resume life as we knew it previously.  Jump starting the economy seems to have taken precedence over the general safety and welfare of the U.S. citizens.

But it’s a trap people.  We must stand for something…or we’ll continue to fall for anything.   It starts by using common sense and exercising good judgment.  It’s a tall order to expect the millennials (who refuse to listen and feel as though they have all the answers) to buy-in.  But we must take accountability and fight for what our ancestors believed in and what they died for.  We are lost and directionless and can’t seem to get out of our own way.

The once-proud People (who are the pulse of America) must take back control and lead by example.  We can’t continue to walk this path of self-destruction that’s been laid for us.  If so…we’re doomed.  To trust and believe in the media and our current administration is equivalent to living in a Fool’s Paradise.  “You better think twice.  It’s not very nice.”  Don’t fall for the okey-doke.  If we know better, we’ll do better.  Continue to protect yourselves and love one another.  It’s the only way.

 

Butch Ford

 

“Wake Up vs. Stay Woke” by Butch Ford

 

Coronavirus Crisis

“Wake Up vs. Stay Woke” by Butch Ford

It’s week seven of being confined in my home. And there’s not much to do other than observe, learn, accept and change. If anyone comes out of the Coronavirus crisis the same as you entered it…you should seriously consider getting your life in order. Things have become so vivid and crystal clear. So why is it so difficult for “some” to see what’s going on?

“Stay woke” is a trendy term that gets tossed around far too loosely by the masses. But what does it really mean? You must first WAKE UP before you can “stay woke.” Let that sink in. What are we missing here? There’s a bounty on our heads, and we’re focused on things of irrelevance. The government shut down is real. But it’s not being taken seriously. Why are we in such a hurry to purchase superficial items that we are programmed to depend on? Why is there a rush to re-open beauty supply establishments, beauty and barber shops, nail salons & tattoo parlors? These aren’t essential businesses. But they’re establishments that rely on the African American consumers to survive.

It saddens me to see a generation of people lost and in need of direction and purpose. Where are our community leaders? African Americans are losing our lives senselessly by other African Americans and everyone else…for that matter. While we’re busy twerking on social media and filming each other committing unspeakable acts against one another, the enemy is stocking up on firearms and ammunition. And they’re teaching their youth how to defend themselves and protect their assets.

We need to WAKE UP! Does it really matter that your designer mask matches your outfit on the daily? What’s wrong with giving yourself a mani/pedi? Save that stimulus package. We’re not out of the woods yet. Why are we standing in line to purchase $200 pairs of Jordans during a pandemic? Why are we still congregating in large groups socializing? Hospitals and Funeral Homes are over-crowded and haven’t a clue what to do with the astronomical number of sick and deceased patients. And we’re acting as if there isn’t a care in the world.

Y’all better WAKE THE F*** UP and stop talking about stay woke. This ain’t no joke. So why are we the only ones laughing? Get your life and priorities in order.

 

Butch Ford

“There’s Only One Way To Turn” by Butch Ford

road

“There’s Only One Way To Turn” by Butch Ford

Today is Resurrection Day 2020.  But globally, it’s more popularly known by its other name. I have some thoughts and intense feelings on my mind and in my spirit this morning.  Yet I didn’t know which platform to utilize.  I just knew I had to get it off my chest.  So I chose to vent via my friend Chellyz View’s blog (as I’ve grown to rely on the past several months).
Each day we’re forced to accept this new norm, and I try harder to sort out my feelings regarding the state of the world.  It’s a combination of disappointment, anger, sadness, concern, confusion, and embarrassment.  I’m disappointed in the current White House Administration for apparent reasons.  I’m angry with how racially divided our nation is.  I’m sad because of the devastation this pandemic has caused.  I’m concerned that there are so many unknowns.  I’m confused as to how we got here in the first place.  And I’m embarrassed by the actions and irresponsibility of my people.
Waking up daily to hear the mounting death totals is mortifying and becomes more difficult to accept.  I find myself having to socially distance myself from all news telecasts and social media commonly.  The heart/soul can only take so much.  We need to take accountability as people and learn to be of one accord.   There’s a need for us to be more unified and work peacefully and harmoniously.  We need to wisen up and recognize that we are our own worst enemy.  We’re destroying our present and our future.  When is enough, enough?
                                                   Butch Ford