Three Reasons Why Ferguson is on Fire

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To understand why Ferguson is on Fire, you do not need a Ph.D. However, you do need to reflect and to allow your heart to guide your thoughts, words and actions. Given that we live in a democracy, every man and woman is entitled to express his or her opinion and I am simply sharing mine as a Black male.
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A Grieving City and Front-line Leadership: Capt. Ron Johnson

 

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Upon returning to my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri on August 20, 2014 to give back to my community and to support outstanding leaders like Capt. Ron Johnson, I experienced mixed emotions. On one hand, I felt proud, grateful and excited about being in a position to provide psycho-education to mourning individuals. On the other hand, I felt troubled, worried and disheartened. Read more

Black Economic Empowerment: “I Can” Speech

In celebration of Black History Month, I would like to share a speech that I recently gave at an event.

Here it is:

Throughout history, blacks have fought for economic equality and were inspired by an “I Can” attitude. The Black Economic Empowerment movement was designed to transform the economy to be representative of this diverse and great country. And our forefathers and mothers envisioned a world where you and I would acquire economic equality and one day stand with our heads held high and say with confidence and conviction “I Can”. Read more

How Does a Black Male Determine if His Life Is Meaningful?

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I want to preface this article by telling you that I believe that every man’s life is significant regardless of his ethnic background. I am sharing my personal view as a Black male and do not claim to be a representative for all Black males. I provide this disclaimer up-front because I want this article to be read with a non-judgmental and empathic heart. I encourage individuals to seek to understand the Black male’s mind-set and plight before providing commentary or passing judgment.

In light of the recent George Zimmerman “Not Guilty” verdict, millions of Black males who look like Trayvon Martin are questioning their significance.

Throughout history Black males have lived with the disturbing assumption that our lives are insignificant and dispensable. Why? To help you better understand this mind-set, I would like you to join me as I take a historical review of the Black male’s plight in America.

Over the course of my educational journey, I have read countless stories about violence against Black males, but the seven stories that deeply shaped my mind-set about the meaning of my life as a Black male are listed below.

1. Nat Turner was lynched in Jerusalem, Virginia in 1831.
2. Lint Shaw was lynched in Royston, Georgia in 1936.
3. Emmitt Till was murdered on August 28, 1955 for whistling at a white woman.
4. Medgar Wiley Evers was murdered in Jackson, Mississippi in 1963.
5. James Meredith was shot in Mississippi in 1966.
6. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
7. Sean Bell was murdered in New York in 2006.

Learning about the suffering of other Black males helped me understand my pain and mind-set. The manner in which I currently view the importance of my life and that of other Black males has been passed down from generation to generation. Thoughts of being insignificant are so deeply-rooted in our minds that it invades the very fabric of our souls.

As I reflect on my personal experience of growing up in urban America, I am disheartened by the fact that violence has and continues to be a constant factor in how most Black males experience life.

Here are seven experiences that caused me to question the meaning of my life.

1. At age seven.  I was shot in the arm by mother’s ex-boyfriend while riding in a car.
2. At age ten. I saw a local drug dealer gunned down.
3. At age nineteen. I was robbed at gun point in broad daylight after visiting the library in downtown.
4. At age twenty-one. I attended my seventeen-year-old nephew’s funeral after he was gunned down while walking home from the store. No arrest was made.
5. At age twenty-two. I received a phone call informing me that one of my close friends was murdered during an attempted robbery.
6. At age twenty-three. I attended my thirty-four-year-old cousin’s funeral.
7. At age twenty-four. I received a phone call informing me that another close friend was shot during an attempted robbery.

The violence that I experienced and witnessed as I entered into manhood was the by-product of the suffering endured by Black males throughout history. Unfortunately, experiencing violence is a tragedy that continues to plague Black males and causes many of us to question the significance of our existence.

When asked “How Does a Black Male Determine if His Life is Meaningful?” I remind people that all individuals have a basic need to feel safe and secure. Black males, like others feel that their lives are meaningful when they are protected from violence and receive justice when victimized.

As we all strive to cope with historical and current injustices, we must not forget to address the psychological challenges experienced by Black males. We must provide resources to help them define and give meaning to their lives. To live life without an identity is as harsh as living life without a soul. Knowledge of self and why we exist provides a road map for living our lives and helps shape our souls.

Like many others who have died due to violence and experienced injustice, Trayvon Martin has become the identity of Black males and touched the soul of the Black community. We identify with his plight, pray for his family and will take action to ensure that all Black males are protected from violence. The safety and security needs of our youth must not go unmet.

Trayvon

If you or someone you know is struggling to understand the meaning of a Black male’s significance,  please secure a copy of my book “A Black Man’s Worth: Conqueror and Head of Household“.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

6 Messages That Prevent African-Americans from Achieving Emotional and Financial Stability

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Messages are forms of communication that are transmitted to individuals either in writing, in speeches or in behavior with the intent of informing or advising them to take action. Messages can either be uplifting or destructive. As an individual who was raised in the 70s, I heard messages that were empowering, heart-felt, educational and uplifting. During the 70s and 80s era, I like most African Americans, felt proud to be Black. Through the messages I heard and read, I was challenged to embrace my heritage, examine the moral fabric of my character and strive to advance myself and my community.

Over the course of my childhood and educational journey, I have read hundreds of messages, but the six messages that profoundly shaped my mind-set and behavior as I ventured into adulthood are listed below.

  1. Thurgood Marshall’s “Equality” speech inspired me to Fight for civil rights.
  2. Booker T. Washington’s “Atlanta Comprise” speech inspired me to Advocate for myself and others.
  3. Mary McLeod Bethune’s, “What Does American Democracy Mean to Me?” speech inspired me toValue education.
  4. Madame C.J. Walker’s “I Am A Woman Who Came from the Cotton Fields of the South” speech inspired me to Invest.
  5. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech inspired me to Dream.
  6. Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” speech inspired me to Excel.

As I reflect on my childhood experience and educational journey, I kneel to God daily and thank Him. I thank Him because my moral and ethical foundation was built on messages that were uplifting and inspiring. Throughout history, African American’s prosperity and growth has been linked to the messages that we embrace. Unfortunately, we are now living in times, where the messages are not so inspiring and uplifting.

Here are six messages that prevent African Americans from achieving emotional and financial stability.

1. Get Yours and Don’t Worry About Others. In this day and age, many Black people place more emphasis on meeting their personal needs than ever before in history. The “Village” concept is a thing of the past as more individuals are doing what is best for them. This is definitely not in line with our ancestors’ legacy of helping others. If our ancestors were self-centered, selfish and lacked consideration for others, the Civil Rights Movement would have never occurred. Individuals like Rosa Parks and Dr. King did what was unpopular and dangerous because they understood the value of doing what is right instead of what is popular. They also understood that emotional prosperity is achieved by helping others. Commitment to yourself will cause you to be by yourself.

2. Experience Is The Best Teacher. Many individuals in the Black community are quick to say, “You cannot tell me anything unless you have gone through what I have been through”. We have a tendency to place a great deal of emphasis on learning through experience. Whether intentionally or not, we often encourage individuals to experience some form of drama or hardship so that they can have creditable testimonies. For most, our experiences lay the foundation for the majority of our learning. While experience is a great learning method, we must be careful not to minimize the importance of learning through study or education. Through my personal experiences, I have learned to recognize my mistakes and through my educational experiences, I have learned to prevent them. Simply put, experience in my opinion is an intervention and education is prevention. In the famous words of Vernon Law, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives you the test first, the lesson afterwards”. With this in mind, I highly recommend that you do not solely rely on experience or education alone. Balance your life by incorporating both so that you can grow in a healthy manner.

3. Get a Good Job and Work Hard For Others. This message definitely hinders progression in the Black community because many of us are taught to do well in school so that we can get good jobs. We are also taught to value hard work. Personally, I do not believe that there is anything wrong with securing a good job and working hard, but I am mindful that working hard for others will not propel my lifestyle or my loved-ones’ lifestyles to the next level. In my short-time on this earth, I have never met anyone who has acquired wealth by solely working hard for others. In order to build an empire, it is paramount that we seek opportunities to generate some form of passive income. Although Madame C.J. Walker was orphaned, abused and uneducated, she understood that the acquisition of wealth was acquired by working for self. She began her own cosmetic company and later became the First African-American female Millionaire. If you desire to have financial stability in the twenty-first century, you must continue to work hard, but also strive to become financially independent.

4. Psychological Problems Can Be Resolved By Praying and Attending Church. As a devoted Christian, I truly believe in the power of prayer and believe that God is capable of healing the wounded and sick. However, I also believe that church should not be the only place where Blacks seek assistance for psychological distress. On a daily basis, I interact with a large percentage of individuals who are clinically depressed and suffering from anxiety. Many of them could benefit from psychotherapy and psychotropic medication, but are often encouraged to just pray. As an African-American, I understand the financial, social and culture challenges associated with accessing counseling services. However, when confronted with medical problems or sickness many of us do whatever is needed to seek and receive medical care. We do not place our physical health in the hands of our pastor or the church. So after you finish praying get some professional help. If you desire to achieve emotional stability, you must learn to nurture your mind, just like you nurture your body and soul. As the old saying goes, “The Mind is A Terrible Thing to Waste”.

5. Look Good Even If You Do Not Feel Good. This message encourages individuals to purchase material items (clothes, shoes, cars, homes, etc.) in order to cover up their emotional or psychological distress. It also encourages individuals to internalize their problems. As a community of people, we have mastered the art of faking it until we make it. However, by now most of us should have learned that the possession of expensive clothes, shoes or cars will not resolve our internal turmoil or psychological distress. I grew up hearing individuals say, “Looks can kill you”. I used to believe that this was not true, but after years of observing African Americans invest more money into their outwardly appearance than they do in their emotional and physical well-being, I am starting to believe that looks can kill.

6. Support Black Businesses, but Make Sure You Get The Hook-up. Some of us will only patronize each other as long as we are getting the hook-up: “something free or a discount“. I am often told that I have to offer something free or some kind of discount in order to gain the support of African Americans. While this is disturbing, it is somewhat true. How can African American business owners grow our businesses if we are constantly being asked to give away products or perform services for free. I do not have a problem with giving because I believe that Givers Gain and God has blessed me to be able to give. However, I do have a problem with people always looking for the hook-up. Please understand that getting the “hook-up” does not always benefit you because you get what you pay for. Also, please understand that for profit businesses exist to make money and to grow. If we as a people are to achieve financial stability, we must support each other and be willing to pay fair market price for services and products we receive.

As you continue to celebrate Black History Month, please remember that messages have power and often influence behavior. If you desire to achieve emotional and financial stability, please be careful of the kinds of messages you listen to and embrace. Disregard messages that demean your character, reinforce negative stereotypes and stagnate the Black community. You cannot always control what you hear or influence the kinds of messages that are delivered, but you can control how you behave after hearing them. Remember that your belief system is a composite of messages that you have embraced. With this in mind, I strongly recommend that you disregard messages that inhibit your ability to achieve emotional and financial stability. Listen to the right messages and I guarantee you that your life will change for the better.

Black on the Outside, Christian on the Inside

Life as a Christian is easier than Life as an African American

As an African American, I struggle to find peace in this Sinful World, but as a Christian peace finds me.

As an African American, I am judged by my physical attributes, but as a Christian I am judged by the condition of my heart.

As an African American, I am consumed with feelings of bitterness, emptiness and discouragement, but as a Christian I am consumed with feelings of peacefulness, wholeness and hope.

As an African American, I am judged by the steps of my forefathers and mothers, but as a Christian I judged by the steps of my Lord and Savior.

As an African American, I am influenced by Worldly things, but as a Christian I am influenced by Godly things.

As an African American, I have the potential to be a great spiritual leader like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but as a Christian I have the potential to nurture others and to lead like Jesus Christ.

As an African American, I struggle to connect with and love other ethnic groups, but as a Christian connecting with and loving others come with ease.

As an African American, my image is tainted by negative labels such as hostile, aggressive, overbearing, and selfish, but as a Christian my image is illuminated by positive labels such as friendly, considerate, humble, and selfless.

As an African American, my life is influenced by capitalism, racism and violence, but as a Christian my life is influenced by helping the needy, loving thy neighbor and turning the other cheek.

As an African American, I cannot change my skin color nor do I desire to, but as a Christian I can change my attitude and must strive to.

As an African American, I despise diversity because some people use it to justify unruliness, but as a Christian I celebrate diversity because it verifies God’s creativity.

If I could embrace my role as a Christian as equally as I embrace my role as an African American, my life would be easier.

Diversity should be recognized as a means to celebrate God’s creativity, not as a mean to justify unruliness.

Excerpt from “A Black Man’s Worth and A Black Woman’s Worth” 

I wrote this and put it in both of my books because I wanted to encourage all African Americans to remember that God created us to live as Christians. There is nothing wrong with celebrating and honoring our diversity as African Americans, but we must also put forth just as much effort to celebrate and honor Christianity. Being a Christian means we can enjoy peace with God. When we are weary and tired, we can rest assure that we can find peace in Him. If most of us lived in harmony with God, our lives as African Americans would not be as bad. I Peter 5:7 reminds us that one of the greatest blessings enjoyed by Christians is that we can cast our cares on the Lord.

I Am Nobody Without Somebody

As I reflect on my childhood, I am humbled by the fact that my beloved and deceased mother worked long and hard hours to ensure that I had a roof over my head, food in my stomach and clothes on my back. For this I am grateful and will never forget that I am nobody without somebody.

As I reflect on my journey into manhood, I am humbled by the fact that my older brothers, uncles and cousins taught me how to survive and face adversity with a conqueror’s attitude. For this I am grateful and will never forget that I am nobody without somebody.

As I reflect on my desire to place women on pedestals, I am humbled by the fact that my sisters and aunts provided a nurturing environment so that I could learn the value of giving back and treating women with respect and kindness. For this I am grateful and will never forget that I am nobody without somebody.

As I reflect on my success as a professional therapist and entrepreneur, I am humbled by the fact that my family and friends have supported me through the years and believed in me when I did not believe in myself.  For this I am grateful and will never forget that I am nobody without somebody.

As I reflect on my life in general, I am humbled by the fact that God has enabled me to understand the importance of gratitude and humility. For this I am blessed and will never forget that I am nobody without Him.

The ability to humble one’s self is a skill that every Christian should strive to master because Proverbs 3:34 tells us that God “mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble”. No matter how successful you become in life never forget to humble yourself.  Individuals who are too proud to recognize, honor or submit to others will eventually face destruction. As we humble ourselves, we come to truly understand how much we need others and learn to be thankful for people who influence, shape and impact our lives.

As you continue on your life’s journey and travel your path to success, do not forget to practice humility and never forget that you are nobody without somebody.

Always humble yourself, recognize others and give God the glory.

Sick and Tired – Ferguson and Baltimore

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I want to preface this article by telling you that I believe that sharing is caring. I am sharing my thoughts with the intent of creating productive and healthy dialogue.  I am not judging anyone, but simply expressing my personal view. My hope is that you read this article with an open-heart and non-defensive posture.  I am open to dialogue about solutions because I do not believe that you can empower people by focusing more on their weaknesses and challenges than their strengthens.

Like Fannie Lou Hamer, I am sick and tired of fighting against systematic injustice and discrimination. I’m tired of the police brutality, overt and covert racism, violence and waiting on a corrupt system to correct its wrongs.  I am sick and tired of being called a “House nigger, Sell-out and Oreo by Black people because I have achieved some level of success and choose not to be extremely angry with individuals who may have directly or indirectly contributed to my suffering or the suffering of Black people in general. But more importantly, I am sick and tired of Black people making excuses and defending ignorance and destruction within black communities. The oppression and victim mentality is counterproductive.

I can relate and empathize with the struggle, but we as a group of people can do better.  Everyone has a story to tell and I am sharing my story. My story is my story and your story is yours. We are all unique in our own ways, but I am sharing my story to simply say, “I get it” and to hopefully inspire change.

Here it is.

Yes, I was born in St. Louis, MO and raised in the ghetto by my single parent mom.  Yes, I was born with a speech impediment and did not receive proper services until I was in kindergarten.  Yes, I repeated the first and second grades because I did poorly in school. Yes, I lived in a three room house (not bed rooms) total 3 rooms with my siblings. Yes, I had to get firewood from vacant houses to keep warm because we did not have heat. Yes, I had to heat water because we did not have running hot water. Yes, I had to take a bath in a washing bucket because we did not have a bath tube. Yes, I had to share my sleeping space with rats and roaches. Yes, I witnessed police brutality and was harassed. Yes, I saw dead bodies and was exposed to violence daily. Yes, I ate sugar and bread for dessert. Yes, I ate thick government cheese. Yes, I grew up with and hung out with crips and bloods, drug dealers and thugs. Yes, I have seen too much death. And Yes, I was filled with anger.

Despite all of my hardship, I never bought into the victim mentality. Like others, I did wrong, but I never blamed society for my wrongdoing. I made a decision each day.  Please stop making excuses and blaming people. If you blame others for your emotions, they will control you. If you take responsibility for your emotions, you will control yourself. If there is will, there is a way.  Forward progression requires forward thinking. If I Can Become a Doctor so Can You. Get help and guidance. I did.

Remember that resilient people find solutions in problems. In contrast, troubled people find problems in every solution. If you are ready and willing to find solutions, please contact me. You provide the platform and audience and I will provide knowledge and education.  I do not claim to have all the answers, but I am willing to share what I know and what worked for me. I do know that adversity builds resilience, and resilience is a precursor to success.

Be blessed,

Dr. Buckingham

Why We Mourn: Michael Brown and Robin Williams

Michael Brown  Robin Williams  

As a native of St. Louis, Missouri and a compassionate clinical psychotherapist, I wrote this article with sadness and sorrow in my heart. Over the past few days we have witnessed the negative impact of what happens to a nation when individuals who are troubled do not receive any or inadequate mental health intervention.

In light of the recent loss of Michael Brown an unarmed 18 year-old black male who was shot and killed by a police officer in a St. Louis suburb and the death of Robin Williams an American actor, stand-up comedian and screenwriter who committed suicide, millions of Americans are mourning and trying to figure out what went wrong.

The answer is simple. Peace for all cannot be achieved until individuals who are troubled receive adequate mental health intervention, because murder, rioting, homicide and/or suicide are by-products of troubled and distorted thinking. It is impossible to have a peaceful nation when a large percentage of Americans do not have peaceful minds.

Here are two explanations for why we mourn:

Michael Brown 

The rioting that is currently occurring in St. Louis is a result of unresolved and suppressed anger that is associated with a history of real and/or perceived injustice. Anger is an emotion or mind-set that typically causes individuals to strike out when they feel that someone has treated them unfairly or unjustly. Anger often intensifies when individuals are frustrated, hurt, disappointed or threatened. The unfortunate death of Michael Brown caused this powerful emotion to manifest in many African Americans. It is important to remember that unmanaged anger is unhealthy and those who feel angered over an extended period of time typically lose their ability to think clearly and act rationally. Anger is part of the grieving process and is one of the most poorly managed emotions in society today. When expressed in a negative manner, it can and will hurt others. Marching and protesting can bring about legal justice, but mental health intervention is needed in order to heal troubled and angered minds. No mental health intervention = no peace! This is why we mourn.

Robin Williams  

According to CNN, Robin Williams committed suicide as a result of struggling with drug addiction and severe depression. Depression is an emotion or mind-set that typically causes individuals to internalize their suffering and/or distress. Depression often intensifies when individuals feel hopelessness, helplessness and discouragement. No matter how much money or fame an individual acquire, thoughts of hopelessness can cause him or her to do the unthinkable (commit suicide). Hope provides a means and desire to move forward in life. A person who lacks hope lacks the desire to progress. Money and fame can offer temporary peace and happiness, but adequate mental health intervention is needed in order to heal troubled and depressed minds. Inadequate mental health intervention = no peace! This is why we mourn.

I provided these brief explanations to help you understand why we mourn and to emphasize that the key to having a peaceful nation is to ensure that all Americans, especially those who are troubled receive sufficient and timely mental health intervention. Although tragedy after tragedy continues to occur on a daily basis in our great nation, politicians and social activists have yet to realize that laws and the legal system cannot ensure peaceful living. Laws, protests and/or fame cannot change or heal troubled minds. Psychological peace is the key to creating a healthy nation and this can only be achieved through mental health intervention.

Experiencing adversity is not avoidable, but overcoming it is definitely achievable. We cannot always determine and control the challenges we are confronted with, but we can determine and control how we cope with them. Sometimes our mind is our greatest weapon. It is only natural to want to attack those who hurt, devalue you, belittle you or disrespect you. However, fighting fire with fire has never proven to be effective. Get your mind right and your life will follow. Mourning is normal, but destruction is not. Remember that resilient people find solutions in problems. In contrast, troubled people find problems in every solution. Empowering people does not happen by highlighting their struggles, but by highlighting their strengths. Seek professional counseling and ask God for strength, but do not engage in self-destructive or self-inhibiting behavior.

Resilient Thinking

Resilient Thinking was written to inspire individuals who struggle with overcoming adversity. What this life-changing and inspiring book makes clear is that being realistic and maintaining a positive attitude are key ingredients to becoming a resilient thinker and successfully navigating through life, love and relationships.
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Resilient thinking is the cognitive ability to identify and embrace realistic and optimistic thoughts that promote growth and forward progress after facing adversity. The heart-felt thoughts that are outlined in this timeless and motivational book are personal sayings that have helped Dr. Buckingham and thousands of his clients to exchange lifestyles filled with hardship, disappointment and dread to lifestyles filled with favor, satisfaction and confidence.

After reading this empowering quote book, you will learn the importance of embracing realistic and optimistic thoughts; learn how to replace hopeless thinking with hopeful thinking; and most importantly, you will learn how to successfully navigate through life, love and relationships. As you immerse yourself into this book, remember that resilient people find solutions in problems. In contrast, troubled people find problems in every solution.

“Resilient Thinking: The Power of Embracing Realistic Thoughts about Life, Love and Relationships” is available now for just $10.80 at Amazon.com.

Click here to secure your copy today.

Thanks in advance,

Dr. Buckingham