Is it Enough to Be Pro-Reparations for Black Americans?

December 21, 2023 — Jt Spratley

I remember going pro-Black during the peak of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and starting to support Black-owned businesses like D'IYANU. Then I started learning about the reparations for Black Americans movement. Today, many, which definitely is synonymous with "not all," Blacks are joining pro-Black and reparationist spaces to hear about reparations initiatives. It is a good incentive for African Americans new to efforts centered around rebuilding Black communities. That should only be a starting point.

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Saw X Was Great, Until the End

December 13, 2023 — Jt Spratley

I've been a fan of Liongate's Saw franchise for years, not because of the gore, but because of the stories behind the traps which influence victims' decisions. I know, many people have a hard time getting past the red room-esque murder scenes. Each Saw movie, including Chris Rock's "Spiral," has at least one sociopolitical theme that was prominent around the time of its release, though. Saw X, whether intentional or not, had some tropes that bother me. Spoilers ahead.

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Boycott Stuff Made Using Prison Labor, Support Black-Owned

December 02, 2023 — Jt Spratley

Colorado Correctional Industries (CCI), Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE), and UNICOR (most notably) are just a few of the companies which specialize in providing prisoner-made products, at least according to reports by University of California, Berkeley, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and Prison Inside. It may not sound important if you're apolitical, but we Black Americans should care more about how the brands we support spend and make money.

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Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence But Not For You

November 02, 2023 — Jt Spratley

In 2023, the Biden-Harris administration quietly released an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Bill of Rights and executive order on securing AI. Both are quite long reads. Although I share my thoughts on them below, I recommend reading both if you're interested in the topic.

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Late Review of VP Kamala Harris Hampton University Interview

October 24, 2023 — Jt Spratley

On September 14, 2023, I watched US Vice President (VPOTUS) Kamala Harris during the first stop in her national "Fight for Our Freedoms College Tour": Hampton University (HU). Hampton U is one of three Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Virginia, and three hours away from her alma mater, Howard University. The conversation was moderated by Terrence J from the classic 106 & Park show. I was not a fan of what I heard in the 42 minute video.

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Why I Stopped Endorsing RallyPoint

October 24, 2023 — Jt Spratley

In 2016, I wrote about why United States military veterans should use the RallyPoint forum and best practices for usage. By that point, I'd been a member for a few years already. I'd ignored the gradual increase of trolling, even when the Hillary versus Trump nonsense peaked with dozens, if not hundreds, of posts against each of them daily. I slowly trail-blazed a community with posts about cybersecurity, Linux, and free open-source software (FOSS). In time, those familiar names I'd regularly see in my IT forum posts disappeared from the platform because of inconsistencies and favoritism from moderators, the platform's refusal to clamp down against trolling and non-military related topics, immaturity from users, and likely boredom.

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Things We Misunderstand as a Society

October 24, 2023 — Jt Spratley

A short, random list of things I think we misunderstand as Americans today.

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Why I Stopped Endorsing the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF)

October 24, 2023 — Jt Spratley

For years I recommended US military veterans seeking free entrepreneurship training or certification testing to check out Onward to Opportunity (O2O) by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). I'm Syracuse University (SU) alum. IVMF is on SU campus. It's a rarely discussed benefit that can help vets of all ages. Then I attended an entrepreneurship program.

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Pacemakers, Medical Devices, and Cyberbiosecurity

September 28, 2023 — Jt Spratley

Pacemakers are one of the most commonly used medical embedded systems in homes today. With the strides in wireless networking, pacemakers have evolved into mobile electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) machines, tracking patients' cardio activity remotely to assist doctors with heart health treatments [1]. These now networked embedded systems are unfortunately developed without serious effort given to cybersecurity. There have been many incidents within the past decade highlighting such vulnerabilities and their potentially fatal effects.

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Black-Owned Supplement Businesses

August 27, 2023 — Jt Spratley

I rarely write about supplements. My best posts regarding the topic are about weight management and overcoming fitness plateaus, and years old. These Black-owned supplement businesses can help you build muscle, reach a healthier weight, and improve general health.

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How to Convert PDF Files on Linux

August 19, 2023 — Jt Spratley

Linux users have various light-weight, terminal applications for editing portable document format (PDF) files. You need to be somewhat comfortable with the Linux command-line interface (CLI), or be careful when copying commands to ensure you're doing what you want. I'll start with the two graphical user interface (GUI) apps with PDF editing features.

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Music Production Lessons 2023

August 16, 2023 — Jt Spratley

I read a lot about American music history from Dr. Claud Anderson's magnum opus "Powernomics" and book series. Most within this Black music history listacle come from "Black Labor White Wealth" and "Dirty Little Secrets."

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Selling Black-Owned Businesses to White-Owned Corporations

August 14, 2023 — Jt Spratley

I'll make this short. I hope that black business owners selling their companies to larger, white-owned corporations does not become a trend. I believe that we need to keep that money in our communities. However, I do understand that many founders sell their business to a larger company to make change elsewhere.

If a Black-owned business is sold outside of the Black community, I prefer that it be publicly announced, unlike Greenwood bank reportedly did. Remove the business from any Black chamber of commerce listings. Remove "Black-owned" from all parts of the brand's online presence. And I'll find a new Black-owned business to support.

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Native Black Americans' Relationships with Other Groups

August 14, 2023 — Jt Spratley

A short, random post about Blacks' relationships with many, which means "not all," Whites, Mexicans, Jews, Asians, Africans, gays, and other Blacks. At no point in this post, unless specifically mentioned, do I mean all or 100% of anyone.

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Norfolk State University (NSU) IBM Partnership

August 10, 2023 — Jt Spratley

In September 2022, Norfolk State University (NSU) released a news post announcing the IBM NSU cybersecurity partnership. This is part of Biden-Harris' White House initiative to allot more resources and professional development opportunities to students within Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), specifically related to information technology (IT). Four months later, I was entrusted with the role as IBM NSU student ambassador. I've since completed many free IBM courses and released content in an effort to bring more HBCU students' attention to these resources. Course topics include cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, IBM products, and more.

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5 Black Inventors to Know

August 10, 2023 — Jt Spratley

Have you ever wondered what amazing things we have today because of the innovation of Black Americans? Are you curious about entrepreneurship but need some motivation? These short biographies might spark something.

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HBCU Music Playlist (2023)-50th Hip-Hop Anniversary

August 10, 2023 — Jt Spratley

A sister said she needed a list of songs to learn before the school year starts. I recommended KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions' blog listacles on Hip-Hop pioneers to know. But after finishing my Historically Black College and University (HBCU) student address, I rethought my response. Why not make a HBCU music playlist of songs I think every HBCU student today should know?

Some art speaks for itself and should be first experienced without external interference. Below I'll add context to some tracks that deserve a solid call-to-action (CTA) or more notoriety.

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Black Conscious Music is Getting More Respect, Less Mainstream Attention

August 08, 2023 — Jt Spratley

I recently watched a YouTube video titled "Something weird is happening in hip-hop." I don't care enough to rewatch it to challenge my initial thoughts. All I remember was the author boasting about experimentation in music production and a comparison to the punk genre. I primarily want to explain my opinion to the clickbait-ish "Hip Hop is Dying" thumbnail message. TL/DR: many Black hip-hop/rap artists are returning to the roots - Black culture.

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10 HBCU-Focused Platforms to Follow

August 08, 2023 — Jt Spratley

After having the nerve to write an unofficial address to students attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), I used that momentum to consolidate a HBCU music playlist. Below are some social media platforms to keep HBCU students in the know about college news, specifically HBCU culture.

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Genealogy Research Resources for Black Americans' Reparations

August 06, 2023 — Jt Spratley

Black folks serious about reparations need to ensure your family tree is squared away, traced at least back to slavery. Below are some (mostly free) online databases for researching ancestors.

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Address to Black HBCU Students (2023)

August 05, 2023 — Jt Spratley

I know, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are more inclusive than predominately White institutions (PWIs). However, this is an exclusive message specifically for native Black Americans, including those who identify as American Descendants of Slaves (ADOS), Foundational Black Americans (FBA), or United Sons and Daughters of Freedmen (USDOF).

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5 Things I Thought Were Gay as a Teenager in the Early 2000s

August 04, 2023 — Jt Spratley

When I was a teenager, we were taught that a lot of random stuff was gay. You ain't hairy? Homo. You dress nice? Fruity. You talking to girls, trying to get to know them? That's gay, bruh. This short listacle is probably the most light-hearted gay culture piece I'll ever write.

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2 Congress Bills Black Americans Must Follow

August 04, 2023 — Jt Spratley

It takes a lot of effort, but native Black Americans must learn and share our lineage and history. Here are two legislations you should be aware of with the constant discussions of reparations for Blacks.

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Black History in Canada?

August 04, 2023 — Jt Spratley

While reading Michael Harriot's blog post ripping Florida's Black history education plans arguing that slavery benefited slaved, a specific section spiked my curiosity about people known as "Black Loyalists":

"Approximately five thousand Black men fought for America in the Revolutionary War; more than 20,000 fought against America. Even the Black Loyalists in the American Revolution were not fighting to preserve the British empire. They were fighting for their freedom."

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Florida's Black History Education Plan is Must-Know Information

August 04, 2023 — Jt Spratley

In March 2023, the National Education Association (NEA) reported that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis planned to drastically limit what can be taught in grade school and colleges, particularly Black history. I kept a lookout on this because Florida has a lot of rarely explained Black history per Dr. Claud Anderson's books. Those wishing to deep dive into Florida's Black history should check out Dr. Marvin Dunn and his book "A History of Florida: Through Black Eyes." At the end of July, I heard troubling updates to the story.

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Military Family

August 04, 2023 — Jt Spratley

My mind wandered a bit while watching the 2005 military TV series E-Ring episodes 3-6. I thought of a black person who tries to make everything about race when discussing two people not getting along. I don't remember why. This made me wonder. Who were my primary battle buddies during each duty station from basic training to end of service? Who were my closest military family members?

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Two Sides to Suicide

July 29, 2023 — Jt Spratley

Suicide, the act of someone taking their own life, is always a heavy topic. Military communities have the "22 veterans a day commit suicide" statistic. The "suicide by cop" scenario is mentioned in some news reports. Christians say that suicide condemns you to Hell. Politicians claim that ArmaLite (AR)-style rifle bans will stop gun-related murders, while ignoring the fact that "self-deletion" is the leading cause of gun-related deaths. No matter what communities you represent, there are suicide rates, patterns indicating "why," and hopefully dedicated suicide prevention resources for those specific issues.

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Blacks and Healthcare

July 28, 2023 — Jt Spratley

A few months ago, I attended a Norfolk State University (NSU) black history webinar about how native Black Americans are treated by healthcare service providers. I saw few men in attendance. Furthermore, the talk was led by and mostly catered to Black women. There was one major point that deserved more attention.

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What is an IBM HBCU Ambassador?

July 17, 2023 — Jt Spratley

Starting with the basics, what is an HBCU? "HBCU" stands for "Historically Black College and University" (in the USA). How many HBCUs are there? At least 100, mostly in the south-eastern US. You likely know of the IBM technology corporation. But what is an IBM HBCU ambassador, and why is it important for native Black Americans?

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Black-Owned Parenting Brands for Black Empowerment Education

July 02, 2023 — Jt Spratley

I've discussed the importance of teaching Black youth about navigating racism and messages in popular media. Since grade schools are teaching less and less about true Black history, below I'll share a few Black-owned parenting companies educate Black children about their lineage.

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Gun Laws are Constantly Under Attack

June 20, 2023 — Jt Spratley

I want to quickly share some thoughts on this YouTube video titled "Swiss Guns: What the U.S. can learn from Switzerland’s gun laws."

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Understand the Racist Arguments Against Reparations

June 20, 2023 — Jt Spratley

Some RallyPoint members (RP) recently praised arguments in an article titled "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks [And racist too]." I replied to the post in detail but wanted to also write it here for a few reasons:

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I Needed 4 Smartphone Apps in South Korea

June 14, 2023 — Jt Spratley

Traveling to South Korea and teaching English as a second language (ESL) was a great experience. When I wasn't working, I wanted to explore. I'm not recommending any specific apps, so it doesn't matter if you're using Android, iOS, or even BlackBerry for some odd reason. Here are the few smartphone applications I needed to get around the home of "Gangnam Style," which might help some aspiring "passport kings" or "passport bros."

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My Problem with the LGBT Pride Progress Flag

June 14, 2023 — Jt Spratley

June is lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. In this summer month, gays (many, obviously not all) flood the streets for pride parades wearing rainbow pride flags and boasting about gay unity. Then there's the LGBT "slacktivism," a fancy synonym for "virtue signaling," which basically means speaking about issues without actually doing anything to support a solution. For example, many companies overlay the rainbow pride flag over their logos on social media. How often do you hear about those same companies giving opportunities to gays and trans folks? I liken it to people with "#BLM" in their Twitter bio but nothing to show that they truly support or even understand Blacks' fight against racism. But my primary issue with gay pride month:

How native Black Americans care more about it (and gay pride in general) than Black history month and Black pride.

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From the PPW and ERB to Veteran Badges?

June 14, 2023 — Jt Spratley

Army veterans understand the importance of making sure your authorized awards match your Army promotion points, promotion point worksheet (PPW) and other paperwork. Those awards and badges provide a snapshot of your experiences. Once you leave the service, that concept is still applicable to some business ventures and career goals.

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