Only For A Limited Time

For one month out of a 12-month calendar year, the African American Community comes together to celebrate more than bhm400 years of achievements and strides made by our ancestors. In my youth, since I was so disconnected from my history, I felt like it was fitting for my people to learn of our rich and sordid pasts. I can remember being in the 9th grade getting upset that we no longer celebrated Black History month like we did in elementary and middle school. My friends and I would cause a ruckus when we did not hear of the great contributions of the people that fought for our civil liberties as African- Americans to be in desegregated classrooms and diners.

As I grew and began to learn of my ancestors, I began to question my motives.

My first question was: How can we fit 400+ years of achievements into a 28-day month without missing some great details?

My second inquiry was: Why is this one month the only month that my culture comes together to celebrate each other?

The second inquiry was the most pressing. For one month, there is minimal fights, thefts and deaths that take place in the urban community but the other eleven are  saturated with hate and fatalities. For one month my community is more loving and gracious for each other but as soon as March 1st arrives we are back to our same shenanigans of self-hate and more thancommunity degradation.

Why can’t we celebrate our ancestors all year round?  If our pride and love is only offered for a limited time, how will we move forward to accomplish more goals? Do we celebrate Black History month because we need to be reminded that we were more in unison with each other when we were enslaved?

I think that it would behoove us as a society to begin to embrace each other every day of the year to create a  new foundation of honor and respect for one another.  Until we begin the process of daily encouragement and education we will continue to be forced to look upon our former glory as we forfeit the potential of having a brilliant latter that our children and grandchildren can  look upon and embrace.

*Images found on http://www.google.com

In The Name Of

“The tendency to turn human judgement into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.” – George Harkness

I was in the 10th grade when the September 11th attacks took place. I was on my way to World History class where we were learning about The Crusades. When I entered the classroom I heard a reporter on the television, “Oh great!” I thought. “We’re watching a movie, NAP TIME!” I ran over to my desk to place my book bag on the floor, I looked up and saw an airplane crash into the side of the World Trade Center. For the days that followed I learned that the attack was crusadescaused by terrorists declaring war in the name of Allah and they were ready and willing to do more damage.

In the second semester of the  year that I attended college I took an Intro to Communications class and really enjoyed it (on the days that I decided to go). For a group assignment we were split into groups of five and were given a country to research and deliver an oral presentation. The group was to give each person a sub-topic that would describe the culture of the given province.

My group was given India and I was to research the religions that were practiced. I was truly overwhelmed with mixed emotions. On one hand, I was given an opportunity to learn something new and to talk about it. On the other, I had to present without any biases or judgement.  As I began to research, I discovered that the three major religions were all striving for “peace”. This took me aback because growing up in a Christian American home I had come to think that anything else outside of the name of Jesus was rebellion and anarchy.I remember going to church and denouncing anyone 2 is the loneliestthat worshiped anyone but Jesus Christ.

As I delved deeper into my research I realized that each religion had more things in common than they differentiated on. Just like Christianity- Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism encourages  peace and love through prayer and self-examination by submitting one’s self to the higher Divine Power. This finding caused me to ponder the reason for war in the world; so many wars have began in the name of God and the right religion.

“We’re all a part of the same One God” -Russell Simmons

That assignment awakened a thirst of spiritual knowledge for me and for the past couple of years I have found myself pinching a few practices of each religion and incorporating it into my daily quiet time.The more I learned of each religion, there were  less  reservations I held towards them. I have benefited from taking two 15-minutes breaks to be still and would like to practice Yoga in the near future. I have not gotten up to praying five times a day, but I do make a conscious decision to do so at least three. I have gleaned so much from all religions that I have gained a healthy eye and eyerespect for them all.

Religion forces us to fight for what’s right and destroy anything that is wrong while spirituality encourages us to see the Divine in all. With religion, we tend to focus on what we believe instead of the things that we should  know that are essential to have to be a positive force in our society.  When we release religion and embrace spirituality, we begin to realize that our Creator  is the Father of many. Like a good Father he wants all of His children to be healthy, productive  and happy.

 

*Images found on http://www.google.com

Dumb Songs (An Observation)

chucklesThe world needs “dumb songs” . Only an idiot would think about what they were dancing to  at a party.

Dude it’s a party. Dance. Be silly. If your shoe is too tight, take it off. If you are not hurting anyone with your pelvic thrusts, hurl on darling.

Just be happy. I mean if that’s what you want to do.

Have you listened to something stupid today? Have you laughed uncontrollably until tears came out? When was the last time you did that?

If you are still angry after I post this there is something wrong,because the only thing dumb right now is this post. I have not mentioned not one dumb song  title. I’ve just kept asking you question after question.

That’s the point.

Don’t question it.

Comment if it makes you happy.

mustache

Salt

“The end did not forget the beginning, nor did the beginning remain sterile to the end.” – James V. Schall

 

“You were born a nigger, you gone be a nigger and you gone die a nigger.”  he  proclaimed smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

It pierced through my body, sending a shock that knocked  the breath out of me, awakening a quiet rage that swirled like kuntacreamer in coffee. In disbelief, I stood there hoping to wake up and it would all had been a dream. I felt my expression change as the blood began to rise to my face. The lump that always comes to my throat when I want to fight back my tears rose like a dam that was about to gush through the seams of my cheeks.

That phrase pulled me back into a past hurt that my ancestors bore. The more I tried to move past that pain, something inside of me kept me looking back at the shackles that my predecessors were forced to wear around their hands and feet. As I continued to reflect on all of the horrid depictions of the former, I became frozen in the thoughts of history and how it continued to repeat itself.

“Is that what you think of me?” I asked slanting my head hoping that through my glasses he saw more. More than the girl who had tried so hard to win the affections and respect that he rendered. More than a government dependent junkie waiting for her food stamps to come in. More than an affirmative action charity case from the bad side of the tracks. More than a “wannabe like him so I wouldn’t have to deal with remarks rendered by a society that had labeled me since birth” type of person

I don’t remember ever crying as much as I did that day. It was an angry cry. A cry that wanted to burn the building down and light a cigarette from the inferno. This was 2014 man! This was the present. We don’t say that word in this part of Georgia without  somebody getting cussed out or sent on to glory and here I was doing nothing but crying and regretting all of the things that I did not do.

afro loveI did not set the place on fire (Glory be), but I began to think about what made me so angry? For obvious reasons of course, you know the whole being black thing, but there was something beyond the surface that penetrated my makeshift  armor of being color blind  and liberal.

I had connected that word to the struggle that my ancestors fought. My great-grandmother was born into slavery and had endured  some of the most horrific things that even she did not want to speak about nor remember.But, it was there. Like a big pink elephant in a cramped room that no one wanted to address, the pain of the past. I associated the word with depictions of Kunta Kinte being whipped or Sethe being raped by School Teacher and his boys.

  “The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.” – Mary Pickford

Though slavery was a pain to my ancestors it does not have to be my pain today. That does not mean that it did not happen. Nor does it mean that I will forget it. It means that I will not allow that pain to keep me stuck in an uncontrollable rage that leaves me battered and wounded. It means that I have been given an opportunity to show my ancestors  that I appreciate the hardships that they endured yesterday to accommodate my dreams for today. It means that the next time that someone of any race-including my own, uses that word I will inform them that their ignorance will be the death of our society.

We cannot change what happened in our history nor can we open the minds that refuse to be opened. We can only strive the worldtoday to make our latter better than our former. If we continue to look back on what was we will be left  paralyzed and unable to make the necessary changes that our community needs today.Let us embrace the past as a point of reference  that teaches us to be grateful for the strides that we continue to make as a society, not as a pillar that leaves us powerless and pathetic.

* Images found on http://www.google.com

So What? The Badonsky Method

“Approval is overrated. Approval and disapproval alike satisfy those who deliver it more than those who receive it.”  – Gregory Maguire

So I was on Facebook and my gentleman friend posted a picture of me at a New Year’s birthday bash that we attended with the caption: My WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday)No one  that I’ve dated has ever paraded me around like a beauty queen and it caught me by surprise when he posted. I was so flattered that I was the first to like the picture. Although I was excited, it was a short lived high because  my Jonesitis went into overdrive with questions such as:

2015 sexy

Ringing in the New Year

What if no one likes my picture?

What if I get no likes at all?

Now, I don’t profess to be a supermodel or even a regular model, but I did rock the dress that I wore that evening and I really wanted others to agree. I began to think about taking the picture down to save me from the embarrassment of having no likes at all. I began to think about all of the other beautiful ladies that I was friends with on Facebook and how they could post a picture of a thumbnail and get close to 200 likes- I couldn’t compete with them and now that this post was on Facebook I was free game.

Then, like a mighty wind one phrase changed my attitude: So what?

I learned the power of this sediment about a year ago at a Creativity Seminar hosted by author and artist Jill Badonsky. At this seminar Ms. Badonsky spoke on the things that blocked our creativity and personal power. One of the biggest blocks was worrying about what people thought of us as individuals, informing the seminar attendants that this hindrance paralyzed us from moving forward.

jill

Thank you Jill Badonsky

After educating the attendants on the many blocks that are presented throughout the day, Ms. Badonsky offered the remedy of so what. She encouraged us all to use this power phrase when we were bombarded with negative thoughts of not being good enough  as artists or individuals. She prompted us to keep this expression when we felt like we were being sucked into the abyss of opposition and when it began to get too ugly to bear, to say it with an even uglier face.

This utterance pulled me out of the vortex of self doubt and defeat by allowing me to see what was really important.

So what if no one else liked the picture, I liked it and so did my guy. I rocked the dress that I had on and that evening I danced all night in 6 inch heels!  So what if I only received one other like, I brought the New Year in with a man that thinks I’m simply gorgeous  and no one else had my dress on (which would have been a tragedy in itself).

When we get tied up in what others think of us, let us take a deep breath, exhale and say: SO WHAT?

 

Too School For Cool (Journal Entry)

One of my super powers is learning. I love learning new things that others may deem trivial. In my skole, I watch documentaries or read books;a vitophilia that brings me great pleasure. For a long time I would hide this pleasure to be like others so I could be accepted. I thought that if I fit in for a while others would loosen up and allow me to finally be myself,  but the more I made alterations to myself, the more others seemed to find fault in me.

bookwormIn retrospect, I chose to neglect my zeal of learning because I didn’t want to be viewed as a phony  who was trying to be a “white girl”. I wanted to stay true to my race and be “hood”, because that was what being black was all about. I risked and forfeited many great opportunities because I was trying to “keep it real” with everyone but myself.

It took me a while to realize that the things that make me weird distinguishes me from others, and that’s not a bad thing at all. There is nothing wrong with intelligence because intelligence does not discriminate between race  or religion; intelligence is available  to those that are in constant pursuit of knowledge.  In fact,  our greatest leaders sought after intelligence with a color blindness that allowed them to speak and  reach groups of people who were once biased and calloused towards minorities.

When we put limits on our education we limit our potential to reach others from diverse  walks of life.smart girl

I am no longer afraid to admit that I enjoy reading, writing, museums, and most importantly thinking. I enjoy being optimistic and accentuating the positive. I watch Jeopardy every night and guess what, both of my parents are B-L-A-C-K! I am grateful for all of the things that make me who I am. I may not live up to the standards of the hood and that is just fine, truth be told, I think that the standards of the hood should be raised a couple of notches any way.

Our race does not determine our intelligence, our willingness to learn does.

 

* Images found on http://www.google.com

Paint It Black (A Poem)

You never know

who loves you

Until you paint it black

A big black

heart

Full of black love

The block won’t be right

Not til you paint it

Black

The struggle will go unnoticed

until you paint it

Black

Though white washed

and placed in this

Unrealistic world

with

Unrealistic goals

Forced to become an animal

Constantly in and out the

Cage

Paint it

Black

We will remember the color

No one will forget

The sidewalkthe futre

that was painted

Black

Humiliated

Degraded

The one’s you

Loved

You protected and

that’s why I take my

Pen

and paint my paper

With the colors of my neighborhood

Praying that the reader is

Saturated

with the

Thought

Feel and

Taste of

Black

* Image found on http://www.google.com

What I Saw ( A Poem)

I saw her

sitting in McDonald’s

without a care

Just sitting there

saying a prayer

Everyone else

was ordering

and taking orders

She sat

eyes closed tightlytranquil

Secretly calling on

His name

Praying

maybe asking

that her steps be ordered

Praying

Believing

Hoping

Knowing

Something had to change

* Images found on http://www.google.com

Reflection ( A Poem)

You look too much like me

for me to hate you

With a smile like that

you don’t need eyes

I take pride

That you are my relative

And that we can relate on things

that others find

Commonreflection

But the ground that we stand on

Is oh so familiar

Rolled up in

Zigzags

or Swisher Sweets

Illuminated

exuberance

Aroma

released

Let us cease to be extinguished

Allow clouds to leave a trail

of humanity

Forming an environment

that brings

Clarity

* Images found on http://www.google.com

Before She Leaves Series: Cicely Tyson

“A person is wise if he listens to millions of advice and doesn’t implement any of it.” ― Michael Bassey Johnson

Everyone seems to want to be famous by any means necessary. With the reality television sensation that is sweeping the nation, it doesn’t seem hard to achieve. It does not matter if you are a house wife, a rapper or a member of a sorority, if you have drama, the media wants you to bear all for entertainment purposes. Anyone  has the opportunity to make it big on television, as  long as you are willing to fight, tell secrets and ruin other lives.

Though this source of entertainment is riveting, the impression of the urban community is left more tainted than it was Ms. Tysonalready perceived to be. These shows depict our communities as uneducated sex fiends with little or no moral standards that are obsessed with money, cars and clothes. We are illustrated as a generation that is preoccupied with the mirage of the body instead of the intelligence of the mind, causing us to only glorify the movement of hips and how much money it costs to attain them.

In spite of the fact that media seems to show the less graceful and sophisticated  side of the urban community, one can imagine a day where the residents refuse to endure such demeaning roles for pretty accessories.

The 1950’s were the pinnacle of racial tensions forcing the nation to view  social structure differently. This era birthed the Civil Rights Movement that introduced the urban community to the ideas of pride and unity to put an end to inequality. At the forefront of the speeches were urban artists, actors, actresses and models who made it their business to not portray systematized characters.

Born into a family of hard workers, Ms. Cicely Tyson was once a typist. When her mother discovered that Ms. Tyson was going to be an actress, her mother kicked her out of the home in fear that Ms. Tyson would indulge in an immoral life. new newThough the majority of roles for black women at the time were waitresses, hookers and other inglorious depictions, Ms. Tyson refused to accept them. One could assume that although Ms. Tyson and her mother were not on speaking terms she still remained determined to bring her family honor. With this determination, Ms. Tyson began to receive more dynamic roles that allowed her to show her true ability as an actress. The decisions that she chose to make paved the path for her to go on and receive numerous accolades including two  Emmy Awards and co-founding  the Dance Theater of Harlem.

Although Ms. Tyson could have had more screen play if she had accepted any role, she stood strong in her beliefs and decided to only accept the best.

Before she leaves the earth, I would like to say thank you to Ms. Cicely Tyson. Thank you Ms. Tyson for showing me that I never have to settle for anything but the best. Thank you for creating a standard for women around the world by exemplifying grace. Thank you for not giving into the illusion of fame and glamour by striving to recreate the image of the urban community.

I am forever grateful.

* Images found on http://www.google.com