Sometimes The Only Person You Can Rely On Is Yourself

Black people as a group have too long depended on others. By depending solely on others and not trusting yourself you can end up miserable for the rest of your life. There are times when you need others working for you, but there are times when you must help yourself. was created to help people help themselves. Historically, access to legal information has been among of our greatest obstacles. The Internet now provides access to the greatest wealth of information in history, but many of us use it primarily for entertainment rather than education.

The more informed you are, the harder it is to control you. Slaves were prohibited from reading to create the illusion of white supremacy. Blacks were systematically banned from the legal profession and useful legal information was restricted. Black people account for only five percent of American lawyers and many of them work against the interest black folks in corporations and help perpetuate mass incarceration in the judiciary. Law controls everything including when a child must attend school, how long a work week should be, the minimum wage to be paid, and who you can marry. If you don't understand the law or how to use it, you cannot control anything! You'll simply become a slave to the law.

Organizations are not always the answer

Don't fall into the trap of assuming some organization or group will help or save you. Organizations are helpful and have their place, but organizations can become ineffective, out of touch, and even corrupt. Historically, some organizational leaders have sold out and been used to mislead followers. Sources of funding can be used as weapons. Once an organization starts accepting large sums from individuals, corporations or government, they eventually become dependent on that funding source. Once an organization becomes dependent on outside funding, they can be controlled by the funder. If the entity providing the funding doesn't like or agree with what the organization is doing, all they have to do is threaten to stop the funding to either make the organization perform as it wishes or actually stop the funding and watch the organization fail. 

ACORN (1970 – 2010) was the nation's largest community organization of low and moderate-income families, working together for social justice, better housing, schools, neighborhood safety, health care, job conditions, voter registration, and stronger communities.

Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe secretly recorded and "heavily edited" videos to create a misleading impression that ACORN was assisting a pimp and a prostitute create a brothel using under aged girls. The videos received major media attention and destroyed ACORN's reputation. When the video scandal erupted, ACORN had over 400,000 members and more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in over 100 cities across the United States. It maintained 70 offices nationwide and had over 1,300 employees in 2008.

About six months after the videos aired, ACORN's annual budget was reduced from $25 million to $4 million and its staff   reduced to four. The videos led to the U.S. Census Bureau and the IRS to cancel their contracts with ACORN. The U.S. Congress suspended its funding and most private funding dried up which effectively caused the ACORN to close. 

Below is one of the edited videos used to discredit ACORN. The videos were recorded during the summer of 2009 and appeared to show low-level ACORN employees in six cities providing advice to Giles and O'Keefe on how to avoid detection by authorities of tax evasion, human trafficking, and child prostitution. O'Keefe framed the undercover recordings with a preface of him dressed in a "pimp" outfit, which he also wore in TV media interviews. This gave viewers, including the media, the impression that he had dressed that way when speaking to ACORN workers. However, he actually appeared in the ACORN offices (not shown on camera) in conservative street clothes. Furthermore, the ACORN employees involved reported his activities to the police after he left. Racial media bias can be a powerful form of propaganda.

Who is more motivated to help you than yourself?

No one on Earth is more concerned about your success, problems, and issues than you. Will any attorney care as much about your situation as you? Of course not, their interest in your case will be as strong as your ability to pay. I was blessed with an exceptionally supportive family. However, no matter how close your family or how many friends you have, there will be times when the only person you can depend on is yourself.

As I have mentioned before, my wife and I both lost our jobs. I held an executive management position and reported directly to the President of the company. Prior to our job losses, my wife and I contributed to organizations that provide safety nets for people in their hour of need. The safety net I had always assumed would be there was not cast nearly as wide as I had once thought. 

One in three people in America is one paycheck away from homelessness. A job loss, injury or illness can have devastating effects. When I lost my job, my employer owed me weeks of back pay. They eventually made good on the pay, but by then the damage was done and I was even further in the hole. Banks and bogus creditors created phony but realistic documents to use against me in court. Fortunately, I was able to prove to a jury that the documents were unreliable and ten of the twelve jurors ruled in my favor.

We've all heard the saying, “The only person you can depend on is yourself.” I was smacked in the face with that reality by legal issues. There was no legal aid available to me other than what I provided for myself. Various legal aid organizations explained they already had a full case load, didn't handle my type of case, or I didn't qualify for their services. When you need help the most is often when you cannot find it. Those are the moments when it's easy to become depressed and you can literally feel the weight of the world on your back. 

Luckily, I had some prior experience researching the law for traffic tickets and other minor issues. Building upon those experiences, I conducted legal research and won approximately thirteen cases since 2012 and two other cases are in the appeal stage. That experience was very humbling for me. But more importantly, I realized how horrible it would have been had I not been able to defend myself. I witnessed other people who did not possess the same knowledge devasted by the courts.

I wouldn't wish what I went through on anyone else. Unfortunately, my experience was not that uncommon. The justice system is not just. Wealthy individuals and corporations have lobbied legislatures to create biased and unfair laws to enhance their profits at our expense. Had I not been able to defend myself in court, I would most likely have been homeless long ago. 

Don't get stuck on one philosophy, keep an open mind to competing ideas. 

Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Dubois had different ideas, but both of those ideas were valid. Washington's ideas would have led to black industrialization and business ownership, Dubois' ideas would have led to an educated and a politically astute leadership class that would help educate and assist other blacks to achieve success. 

In additional to my uncle, two of my civil rights heroes are Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. They had different philosophies. Non-violence versus by any means necessary; they were both good concepts and strategies. Governments have both diplomatic and military channels. When non-violence fails, the military steps in. How much more could MLK and Malcolm X have achieved if they had worked together? Just because an idea is different doesn't mean it's wrong.

Some great lessons I have learned came from people I did not like or respect, but I didn't let that stop from absorbing the truth of their ideas. As the saying goes, "I never met a man I couldn't learn something from". For example, many of the "Founding Fathers" were slave owners. Although, history has painted them as great men, to me they were oppressors, rapist, and hypocrites. Those men espoused freedom and spoke of all men being created equal. The expressions of those ideas were thought provoking and timeless and I often quote them even if the men who spoke them did not personally live by those principals. Good ideas spoken by bad men does not condemn the idea. During your research of the law, you'll discover how unfair the rules are. Use the rules to your benefit even if you personally disagree with them, because your opposition certainly will.

Don't give away your power

The Constitution's expressions of freedoms, liberties and rights were not intended to be bestowed upon the Black man in America. Even the abolitionist fighting for the end of slavery did not necessarily believe in equality for Black Folks. However, those ideas did eventually trickle down and Black people today at least theoretically enjoy the same rights and privileges. We must learn how to assert and invoke those rights individually and collectively and convert them into practical rights and privileges. The great irony is that the First Martyr and major symbol of the American Revolution was a Black man named Crispus Attacks, who may have been an escaped slave. 

Fighting for your rights won't guarantee success, but if you don't fight you're guaranteed to lose. When you don't exercise your rights, you give away your power. Once your power is given away, it's extremely difficult to get it back. Start learning about the law today and share with everyone so we will be even more powerful collectively!