Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's All Effie's Fault..?!

First of all, I'd like to apologize for my absence in the last several days. Though this post will be brief, I will be back in full force eventually. You see, I've been living my life like a string of parabolas and the down part of the spiral included a trip-turned-unpaid-vacation down the highway to home(though not incredibly pleasurable). Experiencing a loss is something every person has to grow to experience and accept, and I had to turn on my ability to nurture in order to soothe my family's hurt. A huge pet peeve of mine, though, is people constantly questioning whether or not I'm okay; so dear readers, if any one is out there, I guarantee you that I am absolutely fine and I appreciate your thoughts of encouragement in advance.

I left the city to head home last Saturday morning after punching out at work in the morning, and I was hardly tired. As a matter of fact, I ended up staying at work an extra few (okaaaay, thirty) minutes to finish "The Banality of Heterosexism" before getting on the road. Unfortunately for me, my trek was filled with far too many stops (maybe I was tired, maybe I was bored), traffic, and a phone conversation with a former friend.

Somehow, throughout the conversation, the question of my current love life came to light. I'm not the type of person that delves into my personal life with too many people as it relates to my relationships and decision making, and sometimes less is more. Besides elaborating on my being single and content, I also spilled the beans on a rat guy I was seeing, and actually liking, who actually had a hundred couple other "girlfriends", all complete with the same nickname, other than me. I wasn't incredibly heartbroken, as I dumped him weeks before even realizing that he was just awful. That's right, even with the broken dates and bullshit excuses, there was still some inkling of what I thought was a combination of good person/shitty boyfriend left, and it was the most peaceful "I'm just gonna walk away" thing I had ever done.
...until it wasn't.

Yet, the ugly details aren't included and since they don't really matter, I only shared that the person that I very much liked at one point, and even more quickly bounced back from, turned out to be the very deserving object of my disgust.

The friend on the phone, a Black man himself, allowed me into the world of "how Black men think"; as he began to postulate, I rolled my eyes all the way down ninety five and even caught myself almost kicking my feet up on the dash and munching on popcorn.

The gospel according to him was as follows: since I am a plus sized lady, Black men think that I am easily controlled as a result of a lack of self esteem. Therefore, if I don't want to be treated like shit, I need to be a size two. Easy enough formula, right? As he expanded upon his theory, I did not find myself upset at his preachy "I know Black men as a Black man"-itudes; I giggled because I thought it to be one of the sillier things I had heard. His explanation for this was the "fact" that the only Black men I am to ever attract (by my own fault, no doubt) are looking for a woman that they can impose their views on; as a matter of fact, he even threw this little diddy in the mix: when a Black man dates a Black woman, she's the most shapely, finest goddess that he can find -- but when they go after white women (again, to impose upon), they're always "nasty looking". Yes, folks: it was all Effie's fault that Curtis dogged her

...word? Well, on top of this conversation being utterly random and disgustingly stitched together, I find a few faults with this logic:

1. That some Black men take offense to this idea that any Black man is or could ever be controlling (ergo, abusive) in one context, but will justify it in another.
2. That this one Black man speaks for the lot of Black men.
3. That I'll never have/have never had a "successful" relationship because of my appearance and not my other attributes.
4. That plus-sized = ugly, lowered self-esteem having wenches who are chosen by these men.
5. That aforementioned wenches never have a say in with whom they choose to enter relationships.
6. That skinny women do not have self esteem issues or relationship problems.
7. That non-"nasty looking" white women are not interested in or dating Black men.
8. That plus-sized women are of less value than average-to-skinny women.
9. That any one person is to blame for another party's actions.
10. That there are not men (or for argument's sake, women) who enjoy a little more..erm..fluff.

...and that is just to name a few. Now, I didn't take this as a personal attack because obviously, I think this is utter foolishness. Could I stand to drop a few lbs? Sure, but when I do, it isn't because I'm attempting to draw attention from another person. I don't think that I should even seem combative in saying that I date; I've documented a few dates on here on the blog and the people that I encounter are interesting enough. I don't think I should even have to harp on the fact that I'm satisfied with the person that I am/am becoming, and that my singlehood is by my own volition. Sure, we would all very much enjoy companionship, but having no anchor to anything right now (and being the personable anti-social that I tend to be), I can up and move away as I am currently contemplating any time the mood strikes. And honestly, I believe I'm always "fly" (actually a nickname given to me by an former boyfriend) and of all the attributes that might keep me single - Black power fueled with feminism, opinionated nature, inability to produce a successful joke, Billy-Bad-Assedness, heavy flow (read: straight-up-inappropriateness when I'm trying to tell a joke, ha!) - my appearance is the least of my concerns. Lastly, I don't think that I should have to elaborate on the fact that the way I am online - forward, opinionated, sometimes-bitchy (and even sometimes offending) - is exactly the way I am when I click "sign out" - which pretty much rules the no-confidence-and-lowered-self-esteem malarkey instantly. More than anything, this was all very amusing before I opted to hit him with the shrug-and-"I'mma let you finish"-move; I hung up and continued rolling down 95 as pleasantly as I began my journey.

I don't have control over another person's actions; that mickey-fickey decided for himself to cheat and go in the direction that he would - and he has total ownership of that. Other people's problems are...well, they're their problems.

Know that. Smile. Be Righteous.

Article: Washington Post - 5/30/10

I did not write this but I really enjoyed reading it! Here's a snippet and there is a link to the full article in the title.

The fake feminism of Sarah Palin

By Jessica Valenti
Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sarah Palin sure is dropping the f-bomb a lot lately.
In a widely noted speech this month to the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion-rights group, Palin invoked the words "feminism" and "feminist" no less than a dozen times. She called for a "pro-woman sisterhood" and addressed the "sisters" in the audience. If it weren't for the regular references to gun rights, you might have thought you were listening to Gloria Steinem.

If this rhetoric seems uncharacteristic of the former governor of Alaska, that's because it is. When running for vice president in 2008, Palin flip-flopped on the feminist question, telling CBS's Katie Couric that she is one, but later telling NBC's Brian Williams, "I'm not going to label myself anything."

Today, however, Palin is happily adopting the feminist label. She's throwing support behind "mama grizzly" candidates, describing the large number of women in the "tea party" as evidence of a "mom awakening" and preaching girl power on her Facebook page.

It's not a realization of the importance of women's rights that's inspired the change. It's strategy. Palin's sisterly speechifying is part of a larger conservative move to woo women by appropriating feminist language. Just as consumer culture tries to sell "Girls Gone Wild"-style sexism as "empowerment," conservatives are trying to sell anti-women policies shrouded in pro-women rhetoric.

Check it out!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Banality of Heterosexism

Heterosexism, or the presumption that man-woman relationships are the norm, is a dangerous spirit that haunts the eventual future burial ground of gender-based discrimination. You know how they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Well, see…I don’t know about that heaven and hell thing in the literal sense, but there is definitely a metaphorical context that makes the saying true. Think about it: the crazy people that think whatever they do about whatever they do are so moved by their own personal truth, however sick and demented it may sometimes be, that they disregard the fact that their "truth" is, not only largely offensive, but also not believed by the people that they choose to judge using their belief system as the standard.

Does that sound right? Or preachy? It’s definitely far too early on Saturday morning (as I write this) to get preachy. I just know this much: people have to open up and accept the fact that the driving force behind who we are is our own free will. That isn’t specifically to go against any particular set of religious beliefs, though we know my feelings on the matter; but chew on this for a minute: how do we grow into whoever we are without will?

Get this, dear readers – I am on Facebook days ago and I see a status up by a friend of mine that had very apparent heterosexist ideas in it. Now, I’m not one for internet beef (or real life beef, I don’t eat the stuff). I think that shit is so 8th-grade and passé bullshit really isn’t my thing. Though, if I am to have an intelligent and healthy debate, as I do with aforementioned friend regularly, we tend to keep Facebook out of the picture because, to me, it’s so much more personal than a forum, a blog, even twitter. And it got out of hand.

Featured below, m’loves, are screen shots of all the action. The last two comments were not captured before the entire exchange was deleted. My self-diagnosed OCD kicked in and I actually color coded the conversation for your convenience – I am featured in the yellow-gold color. The intention of this post is not to ruin any relationships that I have with any of the people directly or indirectly involved (which is why I even colored out the avatar images). Note: you may have to click the images for a better view of the conversation.


Now, much like the work of Hannah Arendt, I feel that the banality of an individual’s ideas and actions of any sort are lost in the dominating force that is group think. Unfortunately, people think they are enlightened; they think that they believe these things to be true and they have some sort of social advantage (without basis, mind you) over other groups – whether directly or indirectly – because of the overwhelming support they have from other people who believe the same thing. It takes a considerable amount of courage (and, hell, sometimes even insanity) to move away from the wrong ideas you’ve been spoon-fed for lifetimes.

This conversation spilled over to twitter. After it spilled over to twitter, it spilled over to a telephone conversation of my dear talented, passionate(but misguided on this particular topic) friend pleading with me that he is a good person, not a homophobe, that wants to encourage "men" to be "men" - whatever that means and however that should happen. And my entire problem with that is this: far, far too many individuals allow their beautiful individual selves to die within someone else’s definition of who and how they should be. Aside, what makes a man a man? Do you not see the skewed origin of this thought pattern? I have friends, many great people, caught up and torn in the ideas of what the mainstream deems “normal” – and the scariest part is the fervor and depth of their rationalities.

And though some (and not all) people’s ideas of normality – especially in dealing with the banality of heterosexism” or the ignorance of passing, albeit rationalized-to-them, hate speech – is backed by “good intentions, it’s still just another way for a member of the social status quo to further impose their belief system on other people. So, uhh…how else do you approach individuals with good intentions? I mean, besides the inter-technological beating of a dead horse to a pure pulp? You do what I did – email several different educational resources about gender versus biological sex, so-called “gender roles”, heterosexism/homophobia, hate speech and the idea that all people are actually people!

...being a decent human being does not excuse any of this. It doesn't make it less wrong, and it doesn't make my volume against the issue less audible. As I told my friend, if he were anybody - and I do mean anybody - else saying the things that were said, I'd have been just as riled up and vocal about it all.

Be Righteous.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sister Inspirations: Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Not so long ago, when I was doing research for my undergraduate independent research thesis, I was so very fortunate enough to come into contact with many inspirations; sisters livicated to the same causes, devoting the same volume of activism to change, making moves: inspiring. My chosen topic for the project was historical contexts of sexual assault toward Black women in America; with that, I wrote about the transition through the major movements in America, and about the deficiencies in current crisis centers where culture and cultural competency are involved. My passion (and what I believe to be my life's work) is healing Black women where relationship (sexual, mental, emotional, physical) violence as a gender issue and a cultural issue intersect because they are issues that cannot be divorced in the issues faced by women of color.

Among the several of my inspirations that I was introduced to in the interest of research and reflection is a Sister writer/activist/survivor/scholar/everything-I'm-working-toward by the name of Alexis Pauline Gumbs. She is amazingly talented and incredibly intelligent, resourceful and inspiring. Moreover, to me it was so refreshing and motivating to know that there are sisters in my generation who are speaking out about Black womanist thought. I truly enjoy her presence and I hope that we are all successful in the journey to change the world that we live in and know by reinforcing the strengths that sisters of color - bisexual or lesbian or queer/questioning or straight or trans - formally educated or working to better the community in different ways - religiously affiliated or not - or whatever other qualities (because there are many) we may bare.

Alexis is just amazing. She recently received her Ph.D in English, African and African American Studies, and Women's Studies - and if that does not get any of my sisters and brothers, younger or older, motivated and worked up then I don't know what will do it!

Lex maintains a podcast: Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind. In a recent edition entitled "Still Brave" was her graduation gift to the Black feminist world and I know that everything that she involves herself with will succeed without question. It already has.

Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind: Still Brave - listen here!

Lex, you have truly been an amazing Sister-Inspiration of mine, and I hope to touch other sisters the way that you've touched me. Congratulations on all of your successes - I know there are so many more written into your future! And kudos for putting this podcast together; very well composed and the message and music are amazing.

Be Righteous...and inspired!

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

I recently heard: "Why read the book when I can watch the movie?"

...and responded with:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Happy Friday!

Just the other day, I was sitting around having my nightly coffee, and for some reason I had a flashback to college which, believe it or not, was not that long ago. In my last year, I became close with a new professor who shared my love of the Beatles. I try to avoid using the ideas associate with the term "typical", but I am sure that when people think of fans of the Beatles, young Black women don't necessarily come to mind. Yet, as someone who is musically inclined (and generally a glutton for all types of music), I can't help but brag about having every Beatles album released -- including solo projects! Yes, my darlings, even when George Harrison and Ringo Starr kept plugging away with white noise.

At any rate, I remember seeing this viral video of a kid singing "Hey Jude" and falling in love. I remembered my advisor lecturing me for my plot to jokes about kidnapping him and raising him as my own. If I ever decide to have children, I want them to be talented enough to belt out "Hey Jude" by the time they're two, too. Oh, I also want them to be able to describe Star Wars, like this little darling.

This is soooo embarrassing. I usually don't take pleasure in the internet's exploitation of talented children.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Is "Draw Muhammed Day" Supposed to Be...Cool?

Just briefly, I'd like to explain why I am not interested in taking any part in "Draw Muhammed Day":

While I understand the point being driven by some non-Muslims to be that fear should not dictate what the rest of us do with such simple liberties as doodling and the like, I think that it is calling for the deliberate pidgeonholing of a single group of people bound by one religious belief. I'm all for free speech and, frankly, I tend to care very little about offending people in my thoughts, speech and opinions. However, I think that calling for people all over the globe to do something deliberately disrespectful toward a single group of people is petty, pointless, and a silly group-think tactic to "other" a category of people.

And when I see the groups of people that are traditionally "othered" doing it (you know, the classes of people I belong to: Black, female, atheists, et al), it only makes me think that there's to be no progress for humanity because you're doing the same thing that they do to us. It is amusing to me that a common gripe that a group of people can have about the way they are treated can be turned around with the snap of a finger when they're not on defense.

While I am sure that someone will bring up my affinity for all things inappropriate - cartoons included - and the idea that I draw random lines wherever I see fit, I'd like to say that there's a difference between satire in my own sardonic wit, and the real-world discriminatory thinking of the circumstantial status quo.

I'd rather not waste time drawing some entity (that I personally feel to be imaginary) for the sole purpose of pissing people off; instead, I'll use my powers for good.

Be Righteous.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

...but, is it right?

As an all around human rights activist, I often become torn between human rights and cultural/religious values (and/or freedom of expression of such from a more legal nature). Most recently, I've been connecting online with fellow nontheists (even Black ones - and that really helps my not feeling erm, well...alone in thought). Unfortunately, between my work schedule and my not even knowing where and how to get out and meet people, the majority of these acquiantances have been made on twitter and the like while lurking in the wee hours of the morning. I'm beginning to make time for people, but it's a little aggravating to seem to only attract sexual deviants or losers of varying other degrees. I've gained a few other friends and am slowly but surely making progress, though I miss my best friends from home incredibly.

Yet, recently stumbling upon more people with similar not-so-religious world views has become encouraging to me in more ways than one. Most of all, though, it's good to be able to engage in religious debate without being seen as combative or some fisherperson looking for a fight (because, contrary to popular belief, we don't all believe the exact same thing). I was engaged in a conversation with a nontheist friend of mine from college weeks ago, and we shared the same gripe that more and more, atheism/non-religion is becoming organized and behaving religious-like in congregation, even though in our own minds, it's about "unbelief". I truly take pride in contemplating carefully the words choose to use as descriptors, and like another good friend of mine, I loathe labels. I yam what I yam!

At any rate, recently being engaged in another stimulating conversation with a new acquaintance while at work, we were discussing human rights and religious tolerance. And upon reading this re-post on Richard Dawkins' blog, I felt it important to write about. The general gist of the post is the fact that the Saudi Arabian police and fire department "actively hindered" 15 young girls from the escape of their burning school. Why would they do that? Why would the people who maintain an occupation where they ideally would want to help other people participate in trapping young girls in a burning school turned-graveyard? Well, because in fleeing for their lives, they were attempting to escape the school without their head-coverings. Now, as for the recent post on Dawkins' website, there was recently a legislation passed by the religious police to allow male emergency response workers to enter girls-only schools in the event of an emergency (and sorry, the only link that was attached was Dutch, but there is a translation on the other blog). Of course this raises church and state issues, the same issues that seem to cause most social issues in seemingly every society, and that is an issue?

What about Afghanistan's epidemic of child rape? Or in South Africa? Or the women in the Congo? Or the abuse of nuns (that is largely ignored by the mainstream media!) and children's sexual abuse by the Catholic church as an establishment?

He asked if I thought this practice, mainly speaking to Afghan child-rape, to be right and while I naturally said no and elaborated on why - even when abusers claimed the young girls participate in these actions - children cannot consent, why there's no circumstance where an adult should even feel justified in having sex with a child, why it's wrong, becauseweallknowhowlongwindedIcanbe.
And he said, "Okay, I understand what you're saying...but, is it right?"
Well no, hell no it's not right. As a matter of fact, under no circumstances is rape acceptable -- let alone child rape. Not in Islam, not in Catholicism, not in less religious society, not in any form of human interaction is this at all "right".
"...then, why aren't we doing anything?"
Well, now..when you say we? When you say we, are you meaning we, the US? We, the non-religious? We, Black people?
"We, every other person on the planet that behaves under the assumption that this behavior is abusive. Why aren't we doing anything?"
And while I could think of so many reasons that people use to justify why we don't get involved, I couldn't honestly think of one rational reason as to why we don't get involved and stop it.

Now, this isn't about my opinions on religions. This isn't even about my own personal "religious tolerance" - though I hate the term tolerance because it insinuates uncaring acknowledgment versus acceptance of other people. This is about human rights over the right to practice what you believe, however radical and warped a version of whichever concept you believe. Who cares what religious/social/cultural/political/whatever-al label you identify with if you are using that label to justify sexual and physical (and, psychological, as a result) harm toward another person, child or otherwise?

I'm not on a crusade against any ideological group in particular because I am completely fine with who I am; does that mean I don't voice my opinion tactfully with religious people willing to engage in an open discussion about their beliefs? Not at all. I don't go around instigating such situations. I don't passively allow people to discuss religion, prayer or the like as a means to "other" people who may hold the same belief, either. However, upon reflection, is passive non-theism just as allowing of such crimes as the passively religious? -- you know, the people who say "well, see, the way I interpret it..", etc. Is religious tolerance more important than intervening - as people from all over, not governments - where we can without waging war and further upsetting the balance of human and environmental rights worldwide? Should we be doing something more?

Then why aren't we?

Be Righteous.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sexual Deviants Need Not Apply

Sula: I'm speechless. Like...
Me: Yeah, I know.
Sula: I mean...
Me: ..I know. So, uhm...yeah.
Sula: I really...I mean...
Me:...that's when I knew.
Sula: I didn't see that coming at all...

As old Sophia Petrillo says, picture it:
A few weeks ago, I met a guy who actually seemed pretty cool. After deciding that I just wanted to meet people without any expectations of anything more serious happening, I was really excited that I met someone who seemed to have a very fun and lively personality. We exchanged numbers and began communicating from there; admittedly, he got extra points for being so cool about hearing my trash-talk during our first conversation, and he's so animated and funny to maintain a conversation with.

We went out recently, but it was a really rough day for me. I figured, though, that I would definitely give him another shot at hanging out because he knew the things that unexpectedly ruined my day and he seemed really sincere about offering support in any way.

We had lunch the first day, and it went incredibly well. We parted ways and after a while, he began texting me. I think that he must have been feeling extra flirtatious and wanted to test his boundaries, and that's fine because I have no problem correcting certain behaviors in awkward or inappropriate situations. He began telling me how gorgeous I looked, and even made a joke(?) that the waitress at the restaurant was checking me out. I tried to keep the conversation tame, but somehow he decided to be bold and it went left.

...and that is when he revealed to me that he enjoys watching bestiality porn.

He said he wasn't into acting it out or actually seeing anyone he knows act it out, but that he enjoys watching it has much as he enjoys watching lesbian porn.

Now, in the time I've ever discussed pornography with anybody (including with such issues as ethnically insensitive acts and the objectification of women) I have nevereverevereverevereverEVER had anyone come out of the closet as a deviant saying, "yeah, I love the type of porn where people are fxcking animals." Ever. Naturally, I deflected and just ignored his messages.

What the hell does one even say to that? Before we even had this conversation, I had an idea that our hanging out would not really be on a boyfriend-girlfriend level and I was fine with it, but do I really want to spend any amount of time with someone that...likes bestiality? Like, I don't even know what to say to that...(confused face)

Now, let's discuss bestiality for a minute. I think that many people are anti-anything a lot of times without the ability to articulate why they feel a certain way about a taboo. This is how, in my opinion, morons so easily equate consensual non-heterosexual relationships with things like zoophilia; they just know that they wouldn't do it without understanding why not. In my opinion, the defenseless need protecton and I have very strong views on sexual assault, including engaging in sexual activities with those who don't truly have a say-so in the matter. Animals aren't equipped with the mental capacity to be able to say "I don't really think this is right" or the ability to give verbal/non-verbal cues as to their level of discomfort with the situation. Further, engaging in sexual behavior with animals is similar to sexually abusing children, the elderly, the physically/mentally-disabled, or any other group that is unable to protect themselves. As such, someone coming out of the closet to me about enjoying Tijuana horse shows is along the same lines as someone saying "I only like kiddy porn; I don't actually have sex with children!"

No, but seriously.

So what do you even say to that? Is it okay to just spend time with that if you're for sure about it never progressing to a certain point? Further, what is it about me that attracts this type of person? (confused face, again)

I..don't..really..get it.

Edit: Thanks to @dredpiraterob for much of the conversation that inspired my writing this post. I'm not sure that I'd have fleshed out these ideas a bit more without discussing the above incident with him.

Bigger Than Hip-Hop

Okay, hip-hop. As a music lover and a member of the Black community, I don't feel I can completely turn my back on you. I've often expressed a confused-love-hate relationship of hip hop music as a result of the disrespect that Black women live with in the music and the glorification of certain degrading social situations, but that doesn't make these situations less relevant, prevalent, or invalid as experiences faced within Black culture and the hip-hop listener's community.

I take issue with the idea that there are disingenuous and unauthentic self-claiming hip-hoppers that are being unexamined in terms of, not only the quality of product they are producing, but the accessibility of poor messages to children (which, I know, speaks also to parenting). Some artists don't fail to acknowledge the fact that their audience is 12-15 year old children, and with that acknowledgment comes an uncaring attitude.

There are so many good qualities in hip-hop. Having had my upbringing, I experienced life in different communities. I used to play kick-ball in the street with what seemed to be the kids from "Hey, Arnold!" I got a boom-box for one of my earlier birthdays and it had a double tape-deck, and I sat on the deck during sticky-hot North Carolina summers listening to mix-tapes that I made of singles from the radio. I've always been an over-thinker and I can even recall when my thorough examination and interpretations of music began: I was around ten and had heard an unedited version of "Mo' Money Mo' Problems." And, of course, I figured if they weren't one of George Carlin's 7 Dirty Words, it isn't off limits. I didn't stop to think that there might be a reason the radio bleeps the words out! So, I'm listening to the song in the car with my dad, and I was boppin' my head, proud to know that they sampled Diana Ross's "I'm Coming Out" so perfectly, probably wearing one of those horrid looking jumpsuits worn by Mase and Puffy in the video and giggling with thoughts of "Ma$e Gumble" and "Puffy Woods", and - of course - rhyming to Biggie, and said the phrase "triple beam, lyrical dream - I be that cats you see at all the 'vents bent". Generally, my dad could appreciate my love of music and ability to recite any song after hearing it once; musically minded, I also have a talent at identifying and perfecting pitch. However, also being an early scholar, I hated (and still hate) when people challenge me to make me stupid, as my father did plenty of times growing up. Immediately, he turned the radio down and said, "do you know what a triple beam is?" Well now, I knew it was that thing my teacher taught us about during the science part of our day. Proudly, I told him this. And he explained to me that it is a device used to measure drugs. Truly, this experience might be the reason I question everything to the point of annoyance; I like to know the origin of words and phrases so that I don't mistakenly look buffoonish.

Yet growing up in hip-hop has made me appreciate the things that I can relate to, and even experiences that I cannot because I feel how real they are. Despite what some may tell you, I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I've grown through more experiences than a lot of people are privy to; a lot of those situations intersect with old school, new school, and pop-culture hip-hop. However, I also experienced social situations that aren't exactly understood to be what is portrayed as "the Black community" - complete with "talking/acting white" - and I don't think that this invalidates my opinions as a scholar and interpreter of the message or experience.

Since I don't completely have a work-sleep-blog-leisure schedule worked out yet, I tend to catch up on the happenings of the week on Sunday mornings after I get off work. Finally getting around to episodes of The Michael Eric Dyson Show, I was excited to be able to listen to a(/nother) hip-hop discussion. The tail end of the show featured Thomas Chatterton Williams, author of "Losing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-hop Culture". Now, I don't like to judge a book by it's cover (or title), but...well, just fast forward through all the really informative (and very well stated) stuff about the President and financial regulation and have a listen:

Is Hip-Hop Culturally Valuable?
(I couldn't embed the soundclip, but the link will take you straight to it)

I don't think Mr. Williams' argument was well-rounded enough for the show, and taking task with Jay-Z is not exactly a careful examination of hip-hop culture's realism and societal importance to the minority communities that experience what is spoken about. While I may not like to listen to much of the bullshit music on the radio, I'm more anti-listening-to-the-bullshit-music-on-the-radio-without-proper-interpretative-skills. I don't hate hip-hop, I hate the complacency associated with our culture's allowing such vulgarity and outdated ideas to be recycled and allowed such a substantial influence on how our culture is portrayed. I'm sick of parents not explaining to children what's what. If my dad hadn't challenged me to understand the rhymes I was recycling, would I even be as thorough a thinker as I am now? Granted, I have my own definition of what "real" hip-hop is, but that doesn't discredit the bullshit music and musicians to whom I refuse to listen.

Also, I have a problem with the fact that Mr. Willams is so caught up on Jay-Z and drugs. At one point, he seemed to be heading in the direction of the often blatant disrespect of Black women, but didn't. What about the women in and affected by hip-hop? Have we, yet again, been othered?

Maybe I'll purchase Mr. Williams' book tomorrow, just to hear his argument. It's difficult to read a man in a snippet of the conversation; yet, from what I hear? Bullshit, son.

Be Righteous. And also, be insightful.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Got an Award, Y'all!

I've been dealing with a minor setback over the course of the last few days; I'm sure it always seems as though I've got some minor set back on but the definition of of "livication" is making a living devotion to causes and a high priority cause for myself is survival. I guess that's life!

At any rate, it is nearly 2am where I am. Typical of this wee hour of the morning is my listening to Al B. Sure! on my ipod (hey, I grew up in the 90s..) and going through my neglected google reader, as I try to (and usually fail at) sleep during the day. Today was a great day for me; I got an "I-love-you" package from my younger cousin in Hawaii, complete with a teddy bear, chocolate covered toffee with macadamias, and squid jerky (yum!). Also, I am now county certified to do basic mediation, and I've done some networking and made some connections throughout the class. I got a lead on a job! Annnd, while at work going through my reader, I read the latest update from Keep It Trill, and I've been awarded a Beautiful Blogger Award! I'm flattered to know that someone understands the words coming out of my mouth!

While I never intended for my blog to become as personal and intimate about my own life as it has, I think that I've poured enough of my personal experiences and characteristics into the posts and I refuse to bore anyone who may be reading with who I am. I'm seriously humbled and it was a pleasant surprise to know that someone thinks enough of my thoughts to include my blog in their daily cipher. Thanks so much for listening to me bitch reading. I'm glad someone is paying attention.

Be Righteous.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Real Love: I Am Not a Groupie!

I was going to write a late post on Earth Day and the festivities on the National Mall a few weeks ago, but I'm having a difficult time writing something well-rounded and informative. While I'm sure I got more of a message out of the activities meant to encourage stronger climate legislation and environmentally responsible practices than the majority of the potheads people in attendance, I can't really see past the man (men?) of my dreams that were there. So, in lieu of writing something incredibly stimulating, I'm going to have to discuss the man I'm pretty sure is my soul-mate. Yes? Cool! I took these photos from the Earth Day festivities.

I fell for Ahmir Khalib "?uestlove" Thompson when I was ten years old. I can't name an exact instant; I just remember overhearing my pops playing The Roots around the house, and being the music snob that I am, I was into it. Kids in junior high didn't understand, and it sucks to be closeted when you're the only person that's into something real-real. Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter has probably given me a very high percentage of my all-time favorite quotes. The music is so real.

It isn't his fame or musicianship though. I swear. I know that groupies try to rationalize their infatuation of whichever celebrity that happens to be the object of their affection, but I promise. He's a real musician: capable of acknowledging, dissecting, respecting, and overstanding the different layers in different types of music. I enjoy fellow music geeks; I read music and I, again, began school as a music major. I love the minds of musicians, especially ones who actually play an instrument. Yes, that sounds silly of me since I began school as a vocal music major. While I consider my voice to be my best instrument, I play a little guitar and piano and I probably have a minor version of synesthesia.

Aside from that, he's well spoken and read, and a technology nerd. Plus he's politically active and confident. I love hearing him speak. Whenever I see him, I get butterflies! Whenever he plays a really bad ass solo? I go crazy! I love reading his tweets (thaaaaaat sounds groupie-esque, I'll give you that). Everything about what I know of him just makes me want to sing; my sometimes warped mind, he's my soul-mate.

Now all I have to do is convince him of that so that we can fall in love together, wed and have a dozen evil genius musically inclined children. Anybody wanna help? Any takers?...whatever then!

Be Righteous.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why I Can't Give Up on President Obama

The above image is a banner on On this site, you can track his progress and you can also get clarification on the bullshit level of truth in the comments that politicians and news sources report on.

I certainly have my criticisms of President Obama, as with any other politician. I remember the feelings of euphoria when he was elected; but I did not expect him to change these "United" States of America overnight. I didn't vote for him just because he's Black. Even in his earlier days as a politician, health care has always been...well, a big f*cking deal to him. Moreover, being an activist myself, I am very interested in politicians who make it to office majorly based on the collaboration with and campaigning among grassroots organizers. I felt like part of the influence, and I also hoped to be a beneficiary of said influence.

Moreover, I am willing to acknowledge that he has enough struggle to deal with in terms of being the first Black President of the States. I mean, honestly, it brought a lot of shit to light that people were not (and still are not) willing to acknowledge. I mean, I'm gonna keep it real: I get on my Dead Prez sometimes and feed into the idea that politicians are the same entity catering to the same masters. However, I am also of the opinion that we cannot complain or expect a substantial improvement of policy and economics to come about if we are unwilling to be a part of the process. Jay Smooth hit the nail on the head when he spoke about the T-Pain and Sean Hannity incident. I was going to insert quotes from the episode, but the video provides so much more context. Check it:

Let's be clear: Dead Prez is n o t h i n g like T-Pain, I'll give you that. I'm a huge fan of their music and their willingness to speak out about everything from politics to veganism. In a sense, though, it's like - why even speak about or worry with politics if your talking isn't giving the people the change that we need? I mean, honestly, that Mau Mau shit can only go so far; if you want to have opinions about the process and not participate in it then fine, but realize that your opinions run the people straight to a dead end. You know why? Because, while you may only be one person, you should realize the more people that get down with the withdrawal from meaningful political activism (shit that is noticeably effective) means there are fewer people hitting the ballots - ergo, fewer votes going to the lesser of the evils the candidate that actually believes in change.

I realize that President Obama is one man. I realize that he is one man that is representative of so much, and that any genuine change in anything does not occur overnight (like I told my ex-boyfriend..ziiing!). However, I also realize that he could not have gotten into office without the Black community and I am of the opinion that other "agendas" have been catered to in a peculiar order. I think that it is amazing that so much has been completed, and I give big ups to President Obama. However, I also know that my people are looking at him like he's a unicorn and since he's in office, the pressure is off of them to promote change and push for policy. And it isn't.

At any rate, this post was supposed to move in a more lighthearted direction than it has taken; I finally got to see the video re-cap from the White House Corespondents' Dinner and as I laughed my behind off at President Obama's cracking jokes, I remembered why I initially decided to support him. Even when under scrutiny for insignificant bullshit like, say, whether or not he is a US Citizen, he's still cool as a fan. He's a charismatic guy, and not sweating in front of the opposition is what really pisses people off about him. Plus, his nerdy jokes about politics and pop culture illustrates his intelligence. Take a look:

I don't get caught up in "hope" any more than I get caught up in "luck". Just because he's charismatic doesn't mean we should fall back and follow him blindly. Black people, it's okay to be critical of the President's political movements. It doesn't make you an Uncle Tom. It doesn't make you a hater. It makes you a politically active mind! I believe in skills, and I believe that if you want something, you make it happen. So, like Waka Flacka says...ohledoooiit! No? Nothing? After that serious comedy I just shared, I get crickets?! Pffft. Whatever.

Be Righteous.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mmmm. Soul Food sans Meat!

In gaining employment after what seemed to be an eternity and re-working my entire life's schedule, I've been extremely busy and have yet to work out a consistent regime by which to adhere for updating the blog! At any rate, over the last week or two, I've had so many ideas and experiences swirl through my mind but have had limited time to sit down and actually write everything out. I'm thinking of a master plan...

Now that I'm finally getting on my feet, my next order of business is meeting people with similar interests and characteristics as myself. Last week, a friend of mine from home referred me to a local vegan soul food restaurant and I became so excited. Ever heard that adage you are what you eat? Well, honestly..I believe what a person eats speaks a lot about them and their beliefs and mentality. I could get into it and go deep, but here's my example: I could not date a guy that eats pork. I mean, I'm only just slightly more flexible with beef or other mammals, but I'm largely anti-swine.

Again, I'm not always perfect; I try to be conscious of the foods that I eat. While I do eat poultry occasionally and majorly fish, I go days without any "meat" and eat veggies, beans, rice, tofu. So, when I decided upon what I just learned to be one of a few vegan soul food spots in the area, I was so very excited and satisfied. The people there were engaging; there were oils and soaps and clothing sold there. The fact that it has a loose religious affiliation matters not for several reasons (that might turn into another post in itself). I meant to take a photo of the building and of my food, but got caught up in the atmosphere so quickly.

I ordered a Brunch platter. This consisted of: steamed broccoli, grits, vegan sausage patties, tofu scramble and juice. Wow. It's filling, healthy, organic, no animal by-products, no caffeine...homemade. Just plain wonderful. For...drumroll...ten bucks! Amazing? I think so.

I think it's admirable to promote healthier eating habits within (and with-out) our communities. I know that it's difficult for a lot of Negroes to wean themselves from eating thewhiteman's swine, or cow, or anything else. It doesn't coincide in my beliefs, and again, not that I have a perfect body by any means, but I think that being conscious of the chemicals and, well, just plain nasty shit that we put in our bodies. We lead the planet in being affected negatively by numerous health problems!

Again, I wish I had taken a picture, but it does look partially like the above photo. And I felt as though I made a connection with the people. No doubt, I'll be back!

Be Righteous.