Shane Paul Neil

A quick note on why MLK day as we know it can miss me.

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As a child, my father sat me down and, much to my chagrin, had me listen to a Malcolm X speech that he had going on the record player. I was immediately transfixed. I don’t remember what the speech was about, but I remember the fire in Malcolm’s voice. It was the first time I ever heard a Black person be that passionate talking about Black people.

It was the opposite of how Martin Luther King was introduced to me.

It’s sad to admit, but Martin Luther King day never really meant much to me. Three-day weekend? Awesome. Black folks will never turn down a three day weekend. …


A young boy’s (me) first lesson on economics and alcohol.

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This past Christmas, through various relatives, my son managed to accumulate what to a seven-year-old must seem like a vast amount of money. His newfound windfall has gone largely to purchasing various streets and toy s, much to my mother’s merriment. She specifically instructed me that this money was for toys and bullshit. In translation, she didn’t want her money going to anything practical. My son being of like-mind, when asked why he doesn’t buy his own pizza and junk food when we go out to answers, “You’re the grownup. You’re supposed to pay for it.” Fair enough.

The other part of being the parent of a newfound hundredaire is attempting to teach the value and meaning of money. It’s a tall order, especially when dealing with a child who is still more entranced by the shine of a quarter than the crinkle of a $20 bill. …


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For a long time, I hated Nina Simone. For me, her voice was a portent of sadness. If upon coming home from school I heard her music as I walked up the stairs to our house I knew what kind of day it had been. My mother would either be locked in her bedroom or defiantly sitting in the living room smoking a cigarette amid the aftermath. My mother almost religiously wore a wig except in those moments. Looking back, I believe that it was a part of her baring her soul. It was a statement to my father. Look at the thing you hurt. See the soul that you bruised. …


In a world of unequal justice, watching post-Capitol attack arrest videos is pure joy.

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scha·den·freu·de (noun): pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.

I’m a notoriously bad sleeper. Often when I wake up in the middle of the night, I do the worst thing possible. I reach for my phone and check social media. This morning around three, after twisting and turning in the bed for however long, I grabbed my phone. As I scrolled through Twitter there, it was in all its glory. In last week's attack on the Capitol building, a video of participants found out that they were on the no-fly list for acts of terrorism and, even better, being arrested for it.

I watched the videos on repeat for a couple of minutes. The warm glow of my phone bathed my face as I smiled. I tweeted a simple request. …


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Big tech made a big show of rejecting MAGA, the alt-right, and Donald Trump himself. And while the attack on the Washington Capitol was the impetus for the white supremacy cancel party, it’s roots lay in the calculation of value and not in any great moral discovery.

You are only relevant as long as you are useful.

This realization I came to years ago has become a mantra that has made my life much easier to navigate . My usefulness in any given situation dictates how relevant I am to the people in that situation. …


It’s all common sense, but these rules get violated every day.

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Rule #1: The internet is forever. Say what you mean and mean what you say because someone is always ready to call you on your bullshit.

Think twice before you hit send. For every hastily posted status or think piece that turns out to be a little racist, homophobic, or sexist, someone is grabbing a screenshot before it’s deleted. The Internet is forever, and Google never forgets, so if you’re planning to run for office, get a job, or pass a social media background check by your next date, take a second to decide if that really ridiculous viewpoint is worth shouting to the entire known universe.

Rule #2: Don’t use other people’s following for your side hustle without permission. Nobody wants to hear your new mixtape, poorly edited podcast, or join your Ponzi scheme.

It’s one thing if I don’t know you. Everyone gets spammed at some point by some overzealous bot or someone trying to sell me a million followers for three bucks, but if we know each other spamming my feed is a complete dick move. If you have a business or some other venture, I’ll probably promote it myself (shout out to Haus Urban) but if I don’t, just ask. If you are doing something of quality, I’ll shout you out myself. My reputation and my endorsement, however small, are important to me. …


The boogeyman was really nothing more than their own shadow

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Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

We were supposed to celebrate Stacey Abrams saving the country. We should have enjoyed at least a day’s worth of (tempered) joy at the prospect of the country beginning to right itself.

That didn’t happen.

What we got instead was an act of domestic terrorism. Worse still, we watched as those terrorists received coddling under the cloak of White privilege.

In my lifetime, I don’t think I have witnessed this kind of White panic. We have all watched as White supremacy and fragility converged on themselves and created a wave of paranoia. …


Recovering creatively from the holidays.

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My first photo of 2021

I haven’t written or shot anything in over a month. I want to say I took the month off, but shit was still getting done. We moved from our cute but cramped luxury apartment to a much bigger home. Still renting, for now, #2022goals. My better half slogged through a fairly big writing project that became an all hands on deck situation. She wrote more words in a month than I wrote in a year. In the midst of her trial by cursor, I was there to help with ideas and to make sure the dog was walked, and the kids stayed alive. …


Happy day after Eat and Sleep day! I’m working on new stories but I thought today would be a good day to go back and look at some of my older work. This piece was originally published by The Huffington Post in 2014. Commentary after the story.

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Photo courtesy of Flowtography by @PhenomBlak

I was raised in the Bronx in the ’80s at the height of both the crack and AIDS epidemic. My neighborhood gave birth to Pistol Pete and the Sex, Money, Murder set of the east coast Bloods. I had guys I considered family deep in gang life as I had close friends deep in the drug trade. I came incredibly close to having my face slashed one night, something my parents will learn upon reading this. I would learn as an adult that the local precinct had a file on me because they thought I was the local drug runner (I forever wore a backpack and would literally run everywhere). …


A personal shaming and recommendations based on books I’ve only half-read.

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When the pandemic kicked into high gear and we were all nestled scarily in our homes I, like many of us, resolved to take the time to do some self-improvement. Workout more (or at all), take up a hobby (photography was the ultimate winner), write more (ta-daaa!), and read. That last one…

Reading has often been a difficult thing for me to do. Physically I have been battling with eyesight issues for years. I have had three separate eye operations with two more on the way (that’s a story for another day). …

About

Shane Paul Neil

Writer. Bylines @LevelMag @thegrio @NBCBLK and @Huffpo. Former Weekend Editor @TheGrio. Co-creator of the Good Talk Podcast Network..

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