Saturday, February 27, 2010

Attempted Double Etheree: Still Writer's Blocked.

Flit.
Not safe,
Yet embracing.
Overwhelming.
Imagination.
Trapped deep inside the mind.
Closed eyes. Deep breath. Vacancy.
Cold outside, damp, dark, and lonely.
Oh, stars, I wonder how you are.
Twinkle twinkle to the jazzy hearts.
Effortless attempts at optimism.
Tick-tock, flying without a safe landing.
Red blushed cheeks fading, gasp but no exhale.
Feel your way through it; naturally.
Confined without a clear thought.
Soulless, whisper to me.
What do I give now?
Listen. Closed eyes.
Supplicate.
Succumb.
Lulled.


It took me three days to get this attempt at a poem out. I'm (obviously) really struggling. Curse this writer's block.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I can't help it.

The other day I was driving and flipping through channels, and landed on this gem. I could have wrecked the car from laughing so much! I guess I was sleep deprived, but I was seriously so very tickled! Enjoy.



...and to think, I almost turned the channel because I was afraid it was genuine Christian country.

The night was...



I'm a movie fan, and I have lots of the most random movies that I've enjoyed throughout the course of my twenty-something years. One of these favorite movies is "Throw Momma From The Train", from which the title for this post was taken. That's right; I might be the only person who actually thought to purchase this move on dvd, might I add, in the year 2000-and-something. In fact, this movie is one of very few that will make me laugh so hard I'm crying every time I watch it.


In this movie, Billy Crystal plays Larry, a failed writer who teaches a class at a community college and in his class is Owen, played by Danny DeVito, a mama's boy who is often downright tormented by Momma. Larry's unhappiness roots to his ex-wife stealing his novel and becoming rich as a result of publishing it...


Owen spent a good bit of the movie begging Larry to read his story, and Larry encourages Owen to see a movie which involves two men swapping potential murder victims to get rid of the alibi. Owen then gets an idea: Owen kills Larry's ex-wife, Larry kill's Owen's Momma. The perfect crime. Now, now; it's quite comical because Larry didn't actually sign up for it. No one is actually murdered.


What brought the film to mind is the fact that throughout it, Larry comes down with an extreme case of writer's block. He sits down at his type writer and writes: "The night was..."


"The night was..."


"The night was..."


"The night was hot, wait no, the night, the night was humid. The night was humid, no wait, hot, hot. The night was hot. The night was hot and wet, wet and hot. The night was wet and hot, hot and wet, wet and hot; that's humid. The night was humid."


For six months this goes on.
This line to begin the book of his, the next chapter of his life, plagued him throughout the course of the movie. In fact, he begins reading Owen's story in class and Owen's story began with "The night was humid" and he abruptly ends class, disgusted.


I want to bang my head against the wall. I have a serious case of writer's block. It's painful to be stuck on "the night was" when I really have the time and motivation to get some good things out; nothing seems to move me right now.


Sigh.


In the final scene of "Throw Momma From The Train", Owen, Larry and Momma are on a train and Larry is giving Owen one last lesson in writing. He explains the writing process and the importance of great beginnings, and Larry ends the thought in pondering, "what do you say, the night was humid or do you say the night was moist?"


Momma interrupted with "The night was sultry." (I nearly die laughing every time I see that scene...starts around 1:32)


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Depression


You were incredible for my poetic heart
but forced my growing mind to mend with tear-filled puddles
Depression was, by far, the most consistent aspect of my life
Throughout my life
And it will never rule me
Or ruin me
Again.


I found post that I started a little while ago, but it wasn't finished. I don't think I can, which is ironic; something that consumed so much of my life is now falling under a category that is very characteristic of the non-depressed version of myself: short, sweet, and to the point. I don't know whether to feel silly for not being able to finish writing this "poem" or proud for having no desire to.


Be Righteous.

Lean. Mean. Homophobic. Machines.


While I have spent some time in private school, I've majorly spent my educational career in the good old public school system, and I happen to think that I turned out okay. As a matter of fact, my high school was semi-new (I was the fourth or fifth graduating class) when I was enrolled, and it was one of the highest ranked schools in the country for most of its programs, though recently there has been debate about whether it should have it's magnet status pulled. In the last ten years, it's gone from the perceived public Ivy League to Dangerous Minds. As a matter of fact, I'm very good friends with a teacher there, and a student recently interrupted her class and beat a girl with a hammer. Yes, a hammer.


I started elementary in private school, and when my parents became dissatisfied with that, I switched to public school (and ultimately repeated kindergarden because of accredidation issues -- but since I was early, it wasn't a major set back). I was an early learner, always aced spelling tests and began reading novels at an early age because my dad made me begin reading newspaper articles before school when I was 6 or so. Third grade they were interested in skipping me but my mother was more interested in my being properly socialized, and as such was certainly in no hurry to move me toward the awkward time known in everyone's life as middle school. My parents made into a machine: school, leisure reading, basketball, ballet, tap-dancing, writing, reading Romeo and Juliet for school in the fourth grade, learning religion, excelling in foreign language, breaking me out of my shyness by appearing in talent shows and theatre productions, and having my school friends and my neightborhood friends. I loved my parents for this push to become a prodigy, but eventually the pressure that I was under became very much ingrained in the way I perceived myself and success.


Middle school I began at a private school and, again, transferred to public school. High school, I was publicly schooled all four years as a result of my being wait-listed for the prestigious science and math private school my junior year; this devastated me, especially because another girl in my school actually got into the school but would later transfer back to our public high school as a result of the other kids having back-alley abortions and taking drugs in order to feel successful. I eventually became grateful for staying at my school, and very proud of every opportunity I had, including being in the top two highest ranked choirs in the school, performing in state-wide competitions, being invited to sing at Carnegie Hall...and most importantly, I felt educated and unafraid to opine toward my teachers since a few of them felt as if I were too smart and active for my own good (smirk). I eventually decided to repeat the cycle of my education one more time and begin at a private school (since I was given scholarships), and I ended up transferring twice and graduating from a public university on time.


At any rate, I know that not every where is as lucky or successful as the public school system in which I was raised. Especially in relatively big cities and metropolitan areas. I do believe my cousins have spent the majority of their upbringing in private schooling, and in a sense I am grateful for that; I am semi-close with some people that were locally raised and I've heard horror stories of their upbringing in school both directly from them, and indirectly through their abilities to maintain a healthy, and "smart" conversation.


I think that private school provides a certain sense of social elitism, and that is a downside. However, I hope and pray(?) that kids enrolled in private academies learn what they need in order to grow appropriately socialized first, and secondly (but equally important) a lover of education. I don't have kids, and I often emphasize that fact when sharing my opinions about them. I think it's very easy for me to say what I would or wouldn't do in terms of parenting, and maybe that isn't fair.


Last night, my twelve-year-old cousin and I were sitting around being silly, and in our mindless banter, she asked if I would rather be one thing, or gay. I asked her if gay was supposed to be a pejorative, and I told her that she shouldn't use it negatively. I felt like this was my duty as the cool older cousin (and just someone who believes in doing the right thing). She replied, "well, all the gay people and lesbians and bisexuals aren't going to heaven. Did you know that? Because God says it's Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve." My cousins don't know that I am a mostly non-theist because while living under my aunt and uncle's roof, I think that the respectful thing to do is to allow them to raise their children the way that they see fit. It isn't a closeted thing with me; as a matter of fact, my aunt and I discussed religion just yesterday. I have no qualms discussing what I believe with people, but having two pre-teen girls is difficult enough in their adolescent rebellion and I think that I'd rather aid the transition than encourage deliberate disobedience when they don't even know why they believe what they believe.


I responded with my adult authority and plainly said, "Stop repeating things that you hear people say and do your chores." She responded with, "I didn't hear anyone say it, I read it. In the Bible."


I had to take a deep breath and woosa. It's saddening to me. Is she learning this in private school? Does she think that this is right? Has she researched anything beyond the surface? I'm afraid that private school is turning my little cousins into lean, mean, homophobic machines. I know better than to engage and argument with a child, but I wish I had thought of something clever, like "did you know your new-found celebrity idol claims to be openly bisexual?" but I felt like this would create detriment in my point since I don't believe they should listen to Nicki Minaj, just for the sake of her explicit lyrics and the ditsy-white-girl imagery that she intends to create in the hearts of the little girls that are following her.


I wish I could reach them without feeling as though I'm stepping on anyone's toes. I think that the subtle pushes I'm giving them toward a more progressive mindset is a start, but is it enough?


If she were a little more mature, we could have had a more in depth and open discussion. Because I might not believe in virgin births or magical powers (beyond time travel..heh), but if Jesus were forrealforreal in my mind, I'd be in line with Sir Elton John. Oh, and he was Black.


Be Righteous.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Murphy's Law

The Murphy's Law of my life isn't necessarily a statement of the bad more than it is a statement of the unusual. If something completely strange and random is to happen, it will happen to me. Especially when it comes to random and mysterious illnesses. I spend a huge chunk of my early adolescence playing a different form of "House" than my peers (and that would be the doctor, not the other kind, sillies..)


I'd like to think of my being sick as infrequent, especially recently, but when I get sick, it's so strange and rare. I apparently have a rare non-contagious and non-recurring skin condition that I only found out about today when I decided to visit the doctor after having what I thought to be the flu for three solid weeks. Oy vey!


I've been avoiding the computer the last few days just because I've been concerned, but now that I know the culprit (and that it's on the way out of my life!), I'll be able to find some inspiration aside from being sick, broke, and lonely.


Still having a blast in this new life of mine, but the blast would be even greater upon generating income. CREAM get the money, dolla-dolla-bill, y'all!


Be Righteous.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

10 Crack Commandments for Everyday Folk :)



























Not too long ago, my sista-friend from Philly and I were riding in my truck on the way to a work luncheon (and a coworker who wasn't a hip-hop enthusiast was also riding in my backseat), and as soon as I cranked up, my hood-side came out: most early workdays, I listen to "Life After Death" for no particular reason at all. I'm a hip-hop head and I'm a really big Biggie fan. I confess.


Anyway, sista-friend was thrilled. We have such similar upbringings from the 'burbs-hood-'burbs upbringing to our general interests, and after moving from the 'burbs in Jersey to South Philly, she and I maintain a certain level of "street" (smile). When the "Ten Crack Commandments" came on, sista-friend posed a question that is soon to be answered in my translation: "Just think: how many of the 10 Crack Commandments do we use every single day?" I swear, after we vibed on that for a good little while, completely forgetting the company of the country music enthusiast in the backseat, our other coworker could have had a heart attack.


So, here are the "Ten Crack Commandments":


1. "Never let no one know how much dough you hold cause you know the cheddar breed jealousy..."
2. "Never let them know your nest move; don't you know bad boys move in silence or violence.."
3. "Never trust nobody, your moms will set that ass up properly gassed up.."
4. "I know you've heard this before: never get high on your own supply.."
5. "Never sell no crack where your rest at, I don't care if they want an ounce -- tell 'em bounce.."
6. "That goddamn credit, dead it. If you think a crack head's paying you back, forget it."
7. "This rule is completely underrated: keep your family and business completely separated.."
8. "Never keep no weight on you..."
9. "Should've been number one to me; if you ain't gettin' bagged stay the fuck from police..."
10. "If you ain't got the clientele say 'hell no'..'cause they gone want their money -- rain, sleet, hail, snow.."


Well, now..how on earth can educated people use this to their advantage, beyond slanging yayo to get through college? (Ain't no tuition for havin' no ambition, and ain't no loans for sittin' yo ass at home...Thank you, Kanye!) Allow me to translate:


1. Well, that one is pretty basic; don't brag. Jane Austen said: "Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us." Who are you trying to impress? Do for yourself and don't let your vanity be your downfall. And yes, I did just throw Jane Austen in the same post as the "Ten Crack Commandments".
2. Very similar to number one; don't go around putting your business in the street. I will admit that I am a lot more discrete about my personal life (feelings et al) than most people but it's for a reason: people can only attempt to tear you down with the information that is given to them. If they don't know your business, they won't know how to get to you! Yes, I'm talking to alllllllllll you facebookers who have to tell people every single little thing, and then go off on long-winded "F ALL YALL" facebook rants. Stop it, it's your fault.
3. I'm not the type of person that goes around parading that "I don't trust anyone" bit, because trust is essential in any form of human relations and there is very certainly a difference in being extremely distrustful and wise about giving information to people. However, I think that there are very different levels of trust. I've seen people's family turn them (and I've seen people do their families wrong)...and if you have the right person trying to ruin your foundation, they'll say anything to anybody to have them on their side.
4. What you have to offer other people, especially in terms of material things, shouldn't be what you use for yourself, because, eventually, there will be a conflict.
5. Don't do dirty work at the crib...people are capable of anything.
6. I definitely apply this to loaning things like money and anything else of "real" value. I don't believing in loaning anything that I wouldn't be willing to permanently part with because you never know when you'll see it again. If you aren't my mother, father, or brother, I highly doubt that I'll be allowing you to borrow any money, ever. And I'm the only person that drives my vehicle; if I'm drunk, I'll pay for a cab.
7. Keep your family and business separated. Business and pleasure, for that matter. Seriously. In my experience, the outcome is overwhelmingly negative.
8. If you're being secretive, be secretive. That's fine. But don't be openly secretive...because the people who want to get at you (see rule #2) are gonna be allllll up in your kool-aid trying to figure out the secret.
9. We all know about how Black folks feel about the police. I linked a video to a previous post called "Snitch Nigga, Bitch Nigga" that discusses it from a street perspective..ehh, not (always) my personal feeling. I like to apply this rule to anybody with a proven reputation in creating drama or participating in any sneaky type stuff.
10. Don't over-commit yourself and follow through with what you tell people you'll do. Don't make excuses; you create a situation for yourself and you have to pull through with it.
People aren't trying to mess with you if you're messing with certain people. I know I stay with a progressive mindset, and I'm not saying any of this is right. It is what it is.
Be righteous.

Bill Maher on Haiti


Admittedly, I'm quite critical of any information just handed to me, and that includes anything from the mainstream media to personal interactions. I'm perfectly fine with learning things on my own; I'm up front and ask questions and, very honestly, research after the queston is answered.


That said, I'm glad that Bill Maher decided to make the comment about the information being shoved down our throats about Haiti. I agree with his sentiments; as a matter of fact, just the week after Haiti's first earthquake, I had to school some girls at my job because I was focused on the murdering of the African migrant workers in southern Italy. He doesn't hate Black people because of his desire for a better balance of information reported by the media. I agree that the media decided to take and run with Haiti because it was the closest, most immediate, and easily understood current event (even though just days before Haiti there were reports on the issues in Italy). While I think that it is very, very important to care for Haiti, I also think that having a balance of information is important. I feel absolutely awful about Haiti; it is tragic. I also feel bad about other things, too. The world is a scary place because in the absence of man-made tragedies come natural disasters. I very much wish peace and prosperity to the people of Haiti. I also wish well to the people of other struggling and disaster stricken areas.


Be Righteous.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

False Dichotomies.











Along with my love/hate/confused relationship with hip hop (many argue that hip hop hates women), I'm gonna go ahead and confess to having the same relationship with contemporary R&B with both men and women performers. Between the Dream saying "she said 'take it if you want it'.." (I don't think I've ever uttered the words "go ahead, take it if you want it", but maybe someone somewhere said it to him and that was his motivation? sigh) and R. Kelly, even back in his R-uh days, perpetuating and promoting unhealthy relationships (you never meant to hit her? And now you're begging for forgiveness? What kind of message are you actually trying to send to the masses?). Female artists aren't exempt from any judgment though.


I will say, though, that a major problem I have with belief boxes is the fact that they allow people little room to be who they be. For example, I have major problems with the Pro-Life movement and not because I've ever had an abortion or intend to, or because I hate kids, or because I think that people shouldn't exercise proper usage of birth control. My problem is that it doesn't allow women a choice in matters concerning her own body. As a mostly nontheist, I sometimes have problems with atheism because of the effort to open the eyes of those with religious convictions. This effort doesn't make you any better than religious fanatics that wish to bring people to "the light"...and, personally, I don't see a purpose in ruining someone's devotion to anything. There's nothing closeted about it, either. I believe what I believe. Do I find mockeries of religiosity hilarious? Yes. Admittedly. But, I think that I am equipped to know the difference between what's appropriate and not, and what is entertainment and what is not. I think that people should just do what they do and not worry about fitting in anyone's box (which is my entire argument both for and against religion).


My digression from the major point of this post is to illustrate the false dichotomies created by many people with certain convictions. I often say to people that being a Womanist can be confusing because on one hand, you want to extinguish all of the stereotypes that have been historically used to define Black women - who we are, how we act, how we're supposed to act, what we're good at, what we fail at - but on the other hand, you also want to allow women the option to do what they want and be who they want to be. However, it's difficult to know what someone wants if they appear less than informed about their options and opportunities.


I will admit that I have never been a fan of fitting in boxes at all. Junior high, however, was as confusing a time for me as for any other awkward adolescent. I think it was a lot different for me, though, because having began my schooling in private schools, I never had a concept of what was really popular (but my parents always pushed the nerd in me). Having always been in advanced courses, I gained a different concept of what "Black" was supposed to look like in middle school. I was often the only non-Asian colored face in my advanced courses. I had teachers try to intimidate me. When I transferred to public school in the middle of sixth grade, the first friends I made were a white girl and an Indian girl. I sat with them at lunch one day, and the people I knew from my neighborhood laughed at me, and asked me why I wasn't sitting with the other Black people. It was all very silly and confusing, especially in that hyper-hormonal era when everyone is trying to understand where they belong without being equipped enough to navigate away from the status quo. It was just like the clickish lunchroom scene in "Mean Girls"..and very, very exhausting.


My problems with the entertainment industry are along the same lines. I have a really good friend who refuses to listen to radio or any bullshit passed as music; he's intelligent and he knows all about music in its high quality, artistic form. I also have a best friend that loves her some of what's on the radio, and that's fine. I'm totally okay with that many times. I will admit that there are some things that I just can't stomach as far as the industry goes; for example, a good friend of mine tried to convince me one day that The Dream is an incredible writer. I wanted to vomit, and if anyone has any arguments as to why, I highly urge you to scroll up and read the aforelinked set of lyrics to "She Rockin' That Thang". As a 20-something who didn't actually begin clubbing regularly until she was almost 22, I will say that there are things that are entertaining but not high quality art, and my major problem with the entertainment industry besides the nature of the business is the fact that there are too many people who aren't fully equipped with the ability to decipher messages and understand the difference between what's real and what's entertaining. That is not to say that there isn't a line that shouldn't be crossed; just recently, I was discussing my recent lack of amusement at Family Guy because of the repeated rape jokes in one episode.


I've always had strong opinions about messages that are illustrated, whether or not they were the perceived intention of the creator. I don't make excuses for anyone because I think that part of the human experience is contradictions. A big part of the reason the way things are how they are is that there aren't enough people equipped with the proper ability to decipher certain messages and take things for what they are. I mean, have you ever seen a Nicki Minaj look-alike contest? Everybody wants to be a Barbie doll and kiss girls because of the image; you know what? If that's what you like, fine. I'm amused by Nicki. I don't hate her, but I also don't want to be her look alike because it's an image that, unfortunately, only pushes a certain standard of beauty that lacks both authenticity and Africentricity while trying to establish success among the mainstream. Growing up, though, I enjoyed listening to Queen Latifah shout "Who you callin a BITCH?" and sneaking to hear Lil Kim claiming to be the Queen Bitch. It never once confused me that they were both using the same word and meaning very different things, and I think that people expect so many things to be either/or when life, itself, is not.


This morning, I came across No, I am NOT a BEYONCE Fan-”Sasha Fierce for me, but not for thee!” about Beyonce versus Sasha Fierce, and the dangerous false dichotomy that they are creating for women and young girls about what it means to be classy versus being comfortable with sexuality; I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it largely inspired this post.


Aside from the dichotomy created by established convictions, entertainers who send certain messages to their audience about what it is okay to be makes the progression of women and femininity all the more difficult. Why does Beyonce (classy and reeled in) feel the need to have an alter-ego, Sasha Fierce (the performer, hyper-sexual and wild)? Is it not okay that she be a performer and perform as herself? Why isn't it okay for women to be comfortably sexual? Is there something wrong with women enjoying sex? Why does Beyonce, a seemingly powerful Black woman feel the need to distinguish this difference, and do her fans also understand the whys and hows?


You know what? I like to wear make-up and get my hair done (I'm a weave-free, natural texture kind of gal, though). I enjoy wearing heels sometimes, and I love to shop. I'm sometimes afraid of spiders, and sometimes make silly mistakes where cars and mechanics are concerned. But I will still drop some serious knowledge on you, and I've been known to have a little bit of a temper. As noted in my profile, a friend of mine called me a post-modern hippie; I can sit back and plot out where I want the revolution to go while getting excited about the latest 12-inch Alexander McQueen masterpiece (smile). I'm just me!


Now, I will be the first to admit that I woke up doing the "Single Ladies" dance on Valentine's Day (smile). I have Beyonce in my ipod (along with Sarah McLachlan, Common, Jill Scott, MC Hammer...need I go on?) and I'm certainly not afraid to admit it. I don't think that the qualities that she majorly tends to illustrate as a performer are (or should be) what make a successful woman; I have respect for her drive and the girl(/her alter ego) is a performer. But, I think that there should be a yearning for more from a female "leader" by Black women because as long as adult women don't identify and understand these messages, the children will not, and the inability to understand and know how to be successful in the real, and not entertainment, world will continue to be recycled.


In actuality, though, Beyonce/Sasha Fierce may think they have created and controlled this image, and I am not going to say that she/they should be absolved of any responsibility in this, but somebody besides her fans signs her paychecks. I do suppose that somehow, this relates to my all time favorite speech about the image of Black people in America and our lack of desire to identify with Africa. X said, "You can't hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree itself"...it's a good speech. Check it out:



Saturday, February 13, 2010

In Defense of Valentine's Day


I can't seem to get it to show entirely, but click the picture for the full image (and hopefully a Valentine's Day laugh!)

Most people know how I feel about consumerist holidays that, without proper knowledge, encourage only the good aspects and nothing about its true origins. I enjoy congregating with the ones I love and, I guess in a sense, that is "celebrating" for me. I don't claim to know everything about everything but I do like to research and, hopefully, understand what things really mean. After a conversation with my good friend Phlip yesterday, I got to thinking about Valentine's Day and whether/why it should be celebrated.


Apparently, Valentine's Day does have Christian roots in that it was named for "one or more" Christian martyrs with the name "Valentine" waybackwhen. However, as with certain other Christian holidays, Valentine's Day dates back to a Pagan holidayLupercalia, named for either "Lupa", shewolf of Rome who nursed Ramulus and Remus, or a Roman god of fertility. Lupercalia rituals included a feast of cakes, animal sacrifice, nakedness, and, well, things dealing with animal blood and women that supposedly symbolized or aided in fertility. Hoping to Christianize the Pagan holiday, Pope Gelacius I declared February 14th Valentine's Day, and, well...after other, sometimes violent, events over time, we have our holiday. [Fun fact: According to a slew of sources, Pope Gelacius I (evil and oppressive or not) was the third and last pope of disputable African origin.]


Check out this History.com video - it's only about 4 minutes long.
History of Valentine's Day


As a closeted romantic, the idea of love is of year round consumption. I think that if you have a wonderful beau or lady-friend, you should treat them wonderfully the entire year instead of making Valentine's Day your one day to deliver grand gestures for things you have yet to do the other 364 days. It's interesting to me, how people decide to bank on love one day a year, or being religious one day a year, or deciding to make big changes in their life one day of a year, simply for the sake of keeping that day meaningful. In the words of my good friend Phlip: "I don't believe in making up for fuckups, I believe in not fucking up." [sidenote: that is now two links to his blog..show him some love!:)]


Does that mean I hate flowers and romantic evenings on Valentine's Day?


Heckie nawww! I love getting gifts! As a matter of fact, my favorite flower is the midnight lily (it's a type of trumpet lily), I love white chocolate on days I'm less than concerned about my calorie count, and jewelry isn't really my thing (hey, I'm a little more a complicated lady than I put on..)! Okay, but seriously, as with any gift, I appreciate gifts from the heart much more than gifts for the sake of giving.


Okay, for real though. Let me stop kidding around; I hope all the love birds every where enjoy their Valentine's Day weekend. Make sure you're making it meaningful and not about the holiday itself; because, well, it really doesn't mean what you think it does. Be safe and wrap it up, because those Pagans were serious about those fertility rituals...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Darwin Day


It's International Darwin Day, a day commemorating the birthday of the father of evolutionist biology, Charles Darwin. As a nontheist/free-thinker (and a person who generally finds much validity in the ideas of evolutionary "theory"), I think that it's important to acknowledge the validity in scientific arguments, despite whether you believe in them or not. I can't say that my beliefs (or lack of beliefs in the religious majority's minds) have encouraged me toward evolution, because I do remember as a church-girl, back in the day, being fascinated with the idea of evolution. However, evolution is important because it does, in a sense, provide evidence for human origins.


I do know, however, from my own personal research that "scientists" have attempted to use science to prove their own agendas. I mean, it's true: from nature v. nurture, right down to eugenics and the Holocaust. One year while in undergrad, in contemplating a third minor (anthropology), I researched the biological justification of men being naturally impulsive sexual creatures and correlations in that argument an a then-new book about how male rapists "can't help it". The evil genius in me was very much interested in the subject, though it was more for kicks and giggles; the entire report spawned from an argument I had with an ex-boyfriend (barf) and, well, I got an A+ for my very original work in a class about Victimology. What can I say? (sheepish grin)


Did Darwin give any credit to, what is now known as, Social Darwinism? Could he have been racist? Sexist? I know that post-Darwin anthropologists have made insensitive claims on the basis of race and gender of "primitive" cultures...quite certainly, eugenics and ideas of the like are adaptations and personal interpretations of Darwin's original work, but what did he think of that? In researching Darwin, he did oppose racism, slavery, and the classification of human beings based on racial differences. As a Black woman, though, I think it's important to know and understand all aspects of the argument. Because an argument has valid points does not make it all completely true or valid (I mean, I think there are high points in every religion and I still don't buy into religious organizations).


Certainly, this requires more research than I can provide in my blog. It certainly is a question that cannot be missed or ignored; I personally am not sure that Darwin's original works were written as or intended to be racially insensitive. I'd like to do more research on the subject though.


Ah, but Happy Darwin Day! Evolutionist Theory is important...whether you buy into it or not. I'm going to make an effort to do more research on racism and sexism (or lack thereof) in his work.


Be Righteous.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Random Existentialism


I create my own rules. I don't create my own rules in hopes that someone else will follow, either; I think that, given my convictions (and lack thereof), that sets me a part from a lot of people.


We spend a lot of time practicing to be what we find fitting of perfection. Otherwise, how do you know once you've found of the perfect career, community, love...sigh, love. I believe in fairy-tales. Not in the sense that women should hold their breath and wait for Prince Charming to come and rescue her from her lonely brimstone encompassed tower all of her life and then realizing that he can love her the way she deserves because he is the one that rescued her and only a knight so noble and brave and daring and wonderful could rescue her from the isolated hell. I think that life should be lived magically.


Keeping much of it very low key (I'm sure that not even my facebook "friends" know), I moved from semi-sunny Carolina to Maryland. Mid-winter. In the midst of a true winter wonderland (snowsnowsnowsnowsnowsnow). As a matter of fact, I moved right before the biggest snow storm since 18-something-or-other, and I've been so content with myself. The weather conditions aren't bothering me. I dug into my magic hat (purse?) and made a huge leap into 50-something inches of snow. The most snow that my warm, North Carolina heart has ever seen at one time.


The move has been existential. I've been having some in depth silent conversations with myself. I know who I am and I love the person that I am. The question, though, is this: in my life's latest chapter (and yes, I do know that I am the mothermind behind it all) who will I become? I've practiced becoming a good girlfrend in scrimmage bouts with shitty relationships. Does a good girlfriend make a good wife? I've practiced being a good roommate but I'm not trying to live with anybody! I've practiced being a great mentor and coworker and when I get a job, I'll show them! I was thinking, though, about kids: I live with two pre-teens and I think I'm a heck of a cool big sister (and they think so to, since they don't respect my authoritay!), but one day, would I make a good mom? How the hell do you gauge that? Of course, all of these thoughts are distant thoughts for the future as I am still aligning the path to take my present. I'm young, and happy with myself..single or not-so-single(?). I'm sure I've expressed this before, but I'm a planner. I know that life does not always veer to the direction that we plan, but dreaming about the future can be fun and magical. Especially if you have little an idea of where you want to intend up (gradschoollawschoolanotherbachelorsdegreepeacecorps? artcounselingartwritingartlawenforcementartartbackpackingthrougheuropewritingbooksandartworkingforthegovernmentchangingtheworld?)My stars! I have so much time to think about where I want to be because the possibilities are endless! I have time for writing again! I have time for photography again! I have time to smell the roses!


In being trapped in my new home as a result of El Nino and all of the windy snow thrown atop my life, I decided to look at some furnishings with my best friend who is six-and-a-half-or-so hours away. And then, earlier today, I decided to look for an apartment. It sounds silly. It was exciting though. Because this is my new life. And I am happy. And grateful.


Be Righteous.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Winter Heat.

Snow
tender sinless
flowing falling blanketing
wintery wonderful sweet sweat
pondering heart-pounding burning
passionate fiery
Lust


Ambiance
Elegance
Radiance
Love's own dance
Ambiance. Snowy calm darkness's elegance.
Radiance, burning desire in love's own dance.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Letter to Oprah


Dear Oprah,


While I respect your ability become on of the most powerful people in America, as a Black woman, I am not a fan. As a matter of fact, there are days where I feel as though I could not dislike you more for the dangerous messages that you have thrown to the public, either intentionally or unintentionally. I do think that you have the ability to philanthropically provide more in terms of becoming inspiring to young Black women. I have heard many sisters, younger and older, describe their desire to be like you; however, I think that they would like having your image and power and not your character. In fact, I am blogging so angrily right now about your current show topic, "Inside the Minds of Child Molesters" and it is not even half way over. I am not a fan, Oprah; I do not watch your show regularly. I used to want to be like you too, but it was about being capable of casting a positive shadow and outlet for young Black women to grow into if they so choose. I'm not perfect. I'm not wanting to be revered as a goddess; I do, however, want to help provide education and inspiration to Black girls at home, because heaven knows that they need it, especially if some parents just aren't providing it for them. The fact is, O, that while you prance around like you went from Sophia to Harpo Industries and should be worshiped on that basis alone, you have become, in my eyes, not much more than a high-folutin' Auntie, and I honestly just can't take it any more.


Oprah, what the hell is this "Inside the Minds of Child Molesters" bullshit? You made quite a few counterrevolutionary points, and as a survivor of sexual abuse, you should know better! My becoming physically ill at your show today was the last straw because, you know what? It was not the first time and I think that you just have to be stopped. There is no respect in my disagreement because you very rarely pick a stance and stay in it; Oprah, I was honestly proud of you for putting your foot down with the Chris Brown situation. Can you just tell me why you did a segment that pretty much decriminalized child molesters? At one point, you made the comment that if child molestation is done right, it will not hurt and agreed with a molester that parents have to be more aware! My stars, I am so very disappointed in the positive you could have done with this.


I understand that these people are people; but you know what? Not all child molesters have the gall to puff up their chests and contend that they did these acts because they love children. As a matter of fact, I've read studies that say that the molestation is not about the child, but about children in general, especially if they are prepubescent. I am willing to bet that many survivors of child sexual abuse have been triggered as a result of this show.


I am very deeply and sincerely disappointed in you. I am confused by your motives in this show because it never really got to a point. In fact, it was just kinda like "hey, look at me, I'm interviewing child molesters". I would like to hope that you wanted to do good in this endeavor, but I would also be willing to say that you are have failed. I hope that your fame and attention grabbing is worth all of the negative that you have potentially caused.


Be Righteous.

Sigh II.

Growing up without my grandmother living in state wasn't too difficult. By the time she moved to North Carolina, I was off at college and still only saw her occasionally but I talked to her all the time. She was one of my inspirations, even through our tough times (there were times that we didn't speak at all, but every family has issues). I talked to her on the phone all the time, especially when she was ailing. When something began to bother me, I'd have to talk to her.


After she passed last year, it just didn't dawn on me. I was devastated after coming home post-graduation to help take care of her, and was locked away for quite sometime. It hurt; she was one of my best friends and I certainly got my fashion sense from her. After a while, though, it was like she was just was still in New York or I was still off at school -- especially with my hectic work schedule.


...until I just picked up the phone and involuntarily began dialing her number. It's been a crazy last few days. I think I'm going to have to take a brain-break from everything and just relax.

Sigh.


As a self-identifying feminist and a firm believer in girl power and an "I don't need anyone to do it for me" attitude (I mean, if I wanted to do something, I COULD really do it), I do have multiple sides to who I am: I like to be pretty and can be quite "domestic" at times, but I also have an incredibly low tolerance for genderilazations; I am who I am and it isn't because I am a girl.


I drive a truck, and there's no convoluted gender-based Napoleon complex behind it; I got a deal and I like to ride big. That's it.


Well, once I got my truck not-so-long-ago, I did a little research on the internet and thought that I'd be as informed as I could be about my truck, especially because it was the first vehicle that I purchased for myself!


The very first thing I learned as a kid when the internet got incredibly popular, especially in doing school work, was to use scholarly sources because anybody can post some bullshit on the internet. But, oh, 15 years later, I found some bullshit article/forum online and some schmuck convinced me that my car was equipped to handle this snow. Now, having grown up and lived in the South the majority of my life, I've also never had to use 4 Wheel Drive, so I never thought about it. Until "Snowmaggadeon".


So, after getting beautiful and preparing to break the heck out after over 72 consecutive hours in the house, my uncle came in the house and shook his head. Because apparently, my truck is not equipped with 4 Wheel Drive.


So, I'm still stuck. And going out of my mind.


What is stupidity again?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stupidity.


After recently having a conversation about my hyper-self consciousness in speaking to certain people out of concern for sounding less than intelligent and commenting on Sarah Palin's lack of intelligence in a post regarding her talking slick about our current administration, I stumbled upon a 2003 grade-B documentary called "Stupidity". It was released on The documentary channel in Canada, apparently, and in looking to maintain my sanity while snowed in, I decided to do some mental exercises; after all, the brain is a muscle.


Honestly, it was quite enjoyable. It begs the question of why stupidity is "cool" and qualities like intelligence (not to be confused with education) are viewed as less than desirable. Why are apparent simpletons the most successful? Absolutely something that I constantly consider given my upbringing and current situation.


I learned a lot watching this, and was genuinely amused by the documentary. As a matter of fact, having one of my two minors in Sociology, we discussed the topic in a course on the Sociology of Education. In the beginning of the documentary, people on the street were asked to define "stupidity" and words similar. As with any label, it always blows my mind when people use certain words, ideas, and definitions without knowing what they mean.


Cons: largely, my problem with the documentary was a point made in the beginning using Biblical characters as fact and history, but providing no bridge to our current societal state. Also, much of the movie talked around the point and I was left unsatisfied, like he never really got to what he wanted to say.


However, I absolutely enjoyed the point of the documentary. I think that it is important to illustrate and redefine intelligence as it relates to popularity and power. There was some information thrown in there, especially in the definition thrown in about the origin of the word "dunce" and how, at such an early point in society, the alienation of intelligence began and evolved into a characteristic currently revered as less than popular. Check it out sometime.


Be Righteous.

Triggers.



The purpose of this blog is certainly not by any means to serve as a journal; I don't want to describe my inner feelings about the things that have happened in my life. I'd much rather share my opinions and have someone feel me, so that I know I'm not the only person on earth that knows the difference between "right" and "wrong". I'm not a black-and-white type of girl; I live for the gray area because I know and have seen exceptions to everything that I believe. Even outside of the internet world, there are few people I share the intimacies of my life with, but in all truth, I'm one of those "I-can-handle-this-alone" types of people. I'm not big on keeping secrets. Not at all. I'm an open book; I guess one of the characteristics that I inherited from my detective-dad is my "just the facts" mindset. I can tell you anything you want to know about what is happening and I can do it without including my emotions on it. That was all an aside; I just wanted to prepare dear readers for a "how I'm feeling" post.


So. Heregoes:


Yesterday, something happened that has not happened for well over a year: for some reason, I began thinking and contemplating the details of my being sexually assaulted years ago. Some days, it seems like an eternity ago; something in the distant past that has developed me into the force of nature that I work toward in my daily life. I had therapy for a very long time and dealt with the initial physical-psychosocial-emotional scarring constantly reminiscent in all of my actions, thoughts, and beliefs. For a very long time, I hadn't even stopped to think about this - one of the most traumatic things that had ever happened to me - because when I speak about it, I talk as if I'm talking about a friend or client of mine from back in the day.


Fact: being raped happened exactly a week after my birthday. So, for every year after it happened, I was constantly locked away to deal with myself for the entire month of November. It became less a lonely dealing eventually with my incredible circle of friends (who encouraged my epic party-and-worry-about-the-bullshit-later attitude adjustment), but it has always been there. Fact: last year, I did not think about my rape at all during the month of November. As a matter of fact, I didn't even realize the date had passed because I was incredibly happy and well-balanced in everything in my life. I had come to realize what my very close friend meant in lecturing me about "celebrating anniversaries of bad shit".


Even when I think about it now, I block out many specific details because this guy doesn't control the person I am, nor did he control the person I became in order to survive that night. Yesterday, though, for some reason, I really pondered on it. It was a tiny trigger that totally blew my mind for two reasons: 1. I am human and this traumatic occurrence did happen to me, and 2. Why the hell am I so suddenly consumed in the thoughts of it after not looking directly back to it for so long?


I have a tight circle of inspirational sisters that are very active in the Womanist/Black Feminist anti-discrimination/anti-sexual violence/anti-discrimination/anti-average-stereotypical-bullshit movement. One of my biggest inspirations and motivators is sister Aishah Shahidah Simmons, the mothermind behind "No! The Rape Documentary". Last year, she invited me to a conference dealing with Sexual Assault and what the Black Church can offer in terms of support and awareness to victims, survivors, and secondary victims. (Aside, she introduced me to the congregation as her Sister Warrior and I very much take pride in being recognized in my activist ventures and passion toward the movement...especially by one of my heroines.)


During the conference, Aishah said something to me about triggers; that even when the pain is gone, there will sometimes always be triggers. I could sympathize completely. There is actually one part of the documentary that is so chillingly similar to my own rape that I have to take a deep breath and woosa. But that tended to be the only trigger for me. I'm happy, I'm healthy, I'm balanced, and I am at peace with myself and driven toward my future. I'm a go getter and a mover, and I am very much capable of conquering all the attempts to intimidate me. I am strong, and I accept myself. I overstand the things I am confronted with. I am livication. Yesterday, though, the thoughts of my own traumatization really threw me off.


I truly believe that one of my purposes in life while I'm busy snatching pearls from my oyster-of-a-world is to serve as an inspiration to survivors and to work toward a brighter path to healing, if there is a such thing. I am glad that I was brought to a place where I had to face myself yesterday. I tend to forget that I am human at times, and I push myself to my own limits. I'm grateful.


Be Righteous.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Attitudes Toward Rape.

One of the more sickening things of my experiences as an activist and self-proclaimed cultural anthropologist, if you will, is examining the attitudes that are prevalent in certain communities and trying to understand why they are the way they are. For instance, for my undergraduate thesis, I wrote about the historical evolution of rape in Black women (by all men, not just intra-racially) in American society from slavery to contemporary times. I also examined the current resources available, and the criticisms of what may be lacking. Aside, I am quite proud of this work because I think that working toward such a cause can, hopefully, yield awareness and enlightenment. I think that the Black community subconsciously recycles poisonous attitudes about many issues, and the main issue that I find myself concerned with is sexual abuse and domestic violence as it relates to any person; self-care is important in dealing with said issue and Black women are traditionally handed an attitude that says "take care of your community" instead of "take care of yourself". I have also found that a contemporary split in this mindset is the fact that Black women are taught so many different things about identity: who are we? Who are we supposed to be? What are we supposed to look like? Is this sexy? How old should we be before we have kids? Is marriage an option? There is a constant identity crisis..and this reinforces negative concepts and victim blaming in the minds of many Black women without thoroughly evaluating why our opinions are as they are.


I know I should not be surprised when visiting mediatakeout.com (which I do not take seriously by any means; I truly go visit to research the interactions encouraged by online commenters and moderators..it's a project I've been working on for another book idea I am toying with). At any rate, I am never really surprised at the ignorance and stereotypical slander that is thrown around the site. For example, an article was recently posted about the rape allegations thrown toward NFL's Michael Irvin. Apprently, there is a civil suit in place about a sexual assault that allegedly occured in 2007. People tend to think that the court system works a lot like Law and Order, and it clearly does not happen that quickly -- whether civil or criminal. And often times, criminal charges are not filed for a variety of reasons. Aside, though, some of the comments were intensely disrespectful and it made me wonder...what OTHER ways are there to get the message out about the appropriate measures in dealing with sexual assault? I do understand that not every "victim" claiming to be a "victim" is truthful. However, why not err on the side of caution? There are so many reasons that abuse is not reported, and many of these deal with the victims own guilt/doubt about the attack. Anyway, some comments are as follows:


These celebs better start filming sh*t for vindication later... I don't think he did that crap! Disgruntled whore that's all. Sucks he lost his job


Women nowadays are becoming more scandalous.


Dam shame! That's some real live BS tho. If it happened in 07', why she feel da need 2 come 4ward in 2010? And when will these famous guys quit f-ing their life up 4 a piece of puss that is plottin on yall a*s from da get! stop smashin those triflin ho*s & find a real woman! I don't feel sorry 4 u, or Kobe, or Tyson etc.


This is why I stay away from black men. Sistas you gambling with your life when you stay with black men.


damn

why u wait so long to press charges

she grown, why is she being identified as a jane doe--was she a minor when this supposed to have happened...need more info cuz fred has confused me


Ok so SHE drank too much alcohol to the point of her losing all of her faculties right?..See They need surveillance cameras to prove this one.Becoz if she walked to that room on her own accord with 2 men?...The Prosecution has no case.What ever she does once she gets inside that room is on her...She was a grown woman,1 woman 2 men?..you do the math!..But If this IS true in ANY sense, Mike should be ashamed of himself...isn't he married,and supposedly a Christian Man?.*shruggz*...He shouldn't even be caught up in no mess like this!..


No proof of wrongdoing & he still loses his job. That's that bullsh*t. Why would a rich man rape a bitch in the wh0re capital of America anyway? Them bunny ranch wh0res are cleaner than most regular chicks. This story reeks of bullsh*t.


BLACK MEN ARE THEIR OWN WORST ENEMY AND REALLY S T U P I D!! When Jane Doe gets identified, and eventually she will, watch her real name be B E C K Y! DUMBASS BLACK GUYS! HA, HA!!


It's ourageous, and sickening. The victim's race wasn't identified, and you know what - that's cool. This is about the overall attitude toward rape/sexual assault accusations. I do what I can, but what else can I do? How else do we reach the people? How do we open the minds of the apparent younger generation?


Be Righteous.