Saturday, June 28, 2008

Where Did The Love Go: Did It Ever Begin?

The arguments persisted. One voice over another. One man interrupting the woman next to him. One woman screaming at the top of her lungs because he would not let her speak. One man saying "I am not responsible for your kids!" and one woman saying "But, you are responsible for all of our children". Sounds like a repeated episode of Maury or Jerry Springer, but no it wasn't. It was Part II of "Where Did The Love Go: Hip Hop versus America". It's hilarious, but insulting all at the same time. Primarily, because this is what white America, the great five percent, want us and every other person who tunes into B.E.T. to see and then they want us to conclude that the stereotypical conclusions about African-American men and women are true. Men are loud, obnoxious, chauvenistic, and ignorant. The women are both loud and at times silent (due to their submissiveness), hot-headed, hoes, and sack chasers. Thank you BET for aiding in the degredation of our community once again! But, aside from the anger that has come out of an episode such as this one there were a few good things that came out it. Some of them are personal for my own knowledge building tactics and some are just general conclusions.

Our Distorted Past..

There is, indeed, a great divide in the African-American community. This divide stems from the very origins of what it means to be black in America. Now, of course there was misogyny which existed in Africa before Africans were brought here, but the misogynistic attitudes which personifies America's imperialistic nature persisted and was immersed in those who forcefully became Darkies, Porch Monkey's, Nigger's, Negros, and now, African-Americans. During slavery, the black male was utilized and commodified for his strength and endurance. The woman was utilized and commidified for her domestic and laboring abilities, as well as, her body. She was itemized as an animalistic creature whose primary purpose was to continously produce more male slaves by any means necessary. She was also objectified as her "Master's" sexual canvas. This created a great divide between black men and women and one which perpetuated a learned hate for the other gender. For the man, there existed envious, and betrayal-ridden thoughts. For the woman, there existed thoughts of helplessness and desertedness. At the end of the day, we were made to hate ourselves and each other.

So, lets fast-forward to the 1960's and 1970's...

The Civil-Rights Movement, which was when black men and women discovered their abilities to raise their voices and symbolically their fists to demand change from a America that provided nothing, but poverty and limited opportunities, also lurked with sexism. During this time blacks had leaders and groups that made it their job to speak out against racial oppression. It seems that we were united as one group and some changes would finally occur. But as you pick apart the layers of the Civil Rights Movements and black-power movements, at the center still lurked self-hatred and sexism. This is why Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, and bell Hooks took a stand. If problems did not exist then there would be no need for a movement. They served as the catalyst, along with Sojourner Truth, for the black feminists or womanist movement. Mainly because within the Civil-Rights Movement women were simply supposed to be the buttress for the men who did the "real" work, thinking, protesting, etc.

Now, today...

Things have not really changed! So, for all of those who think that feminism is dead, YOU ARE Dead WRONG! We are just fighting a different battle, but the ground on which we fight is the same. Black women, as pointed out in the above mentioned program, are still the objects of sexism. Scratch that...they are still objectified! Black men are often the scapegoats of so-called problems within the media, but women are too. In the music industry and on the news, sex and violence sells mainly because those who buy these goods and buy into the broadcasts have been conditioned to consume such trash. African-American's, in turn, utilize rap to find a way out of the traps that they have been forced into. The millions that they generate symbolically aids in dismantling those traps, but not realistically. Truthfully, those traps still exist because these same artists, if you even want to call them that, aid in building or perpetuating the next black woman's or man's struggle. They literally rap about "trap or die" and those who view this, who have no other choice, take the bait, but usually they die because they do not have a skill such as rapping, and in some venues playing sports, that they can utilize to generate cash and get them out of their newly created trap.

For the woman, they are also pushed into a trap. When we view music videos created by black and white rap or r&b artists the women are personified as objects. Objects that are to be seen, but not heard. So, when the little girl who is home alone, because her mother is working her second job or watching right along with her, is watching Lil' Wayne's video and begins singing "Lick, Lick, Lick,...Like A Lollipop, She Said It's So Sweet, She Want's To Like The Rapper" how does her mother explain that one. She also is bombarded with images of personalities such as Deelishis shaking her ass around the television. the way, Deelishis was on the program as well. So for a child who knows nothing else, but rap videos and video girls and realizes that they 'seem' happy what should she do? She probably emulates that which she sees on television.

To conclude, the media is not the sole problem, which exists in the African-American community, but it is a major problem. African-Americans, as a whole, are damaged and most of us have not found ways to undue the pain. Most of us fail to even recognize that we are a hurt People. So, how can a man respect me if he is in a constant state of denial and is not aware of his history and his forced oppression? How can I respect her if I have not come to love myself and who I am? How can we love each other if we have yet to embrace our history and move forward TOGETHER towards the future? So in response to the title of BET's program, "Where Did The Love Go?", I ask, When did it begin?

All and all, B.E.T. set out to make a difference, but it simply aided in perpetuating erroneous stereotypes about African-American women and men. But, the one thing I pride it on is that it catalyzed conversations...conversations such as this one, which I hope will continue.

Cherish The Day

You've got this look I can't describe,
You make me feel like I'm Alive,
Whenever everything else is a fade,
Without a doubt you are by my side.
Thanx, Ms. Rae
This weekend I have come to the realization, with the assistance of some people and other things, that love in the black community and in general is hard to come across, but when you stumble upon it it is important to remember that it something to be cherished and preserved especially when it is very rare. I have come to realize that regardless the type of relationship it might be, female and male, male and male, or female and female, it is very difficult to come across those who possess the total package...not that people are packaged up to be commodified, but it is true. So, when you meet someone who is intelligent (not smart, but intelligent), driven, spiritual (not religious, but spiritual), confident, goal oriented, sometimes it helps if they are attractive to YOU (lol), and SINGLE, cherish them as a friend first and as your significant other half second. Then maybe the words of Corinne Bailey Rae s will represent how you feel.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Daily Ramblings Part II...The Coffee Shop Experience

Today, the majority of my day actually, has been spent at this little cafe in Hamtramck. And, it makes me feels so chill. In fact, I haven't felt this way in a very long time. I discovered that besides my fav Soy Dirty Chai's that I also enjoy Soy Caramel Latte's with Caramel drizzle on the top. I also discovered for about the fifth time that I can listen to smooth/sultry music by southern artists like Erykah Badu and Tweet (Don't Sleep On Her First Album) and British artists like Corrinne Bailey Rae, Adele, and Amy Winehouse (Eventhough I am a little angry with her right now) and never get tired of them. It's just this vibe that you get when you can just chill and write or chill and read and sip simultaneously. This is just great! Im serious! I also like to people watch because people are so unique. That is what makes this coffee shop the best one I have been to ever. First of all, Hamtramck is very unique due to its diversity. This coffee shop could serve as a microcosm of the entire world. To my left there is this Polish middle-aged guy who is reading the sports section of his newspaper and next to him is this African-American middle-aged woman with dreads down her back reading a book. At the counter is a Caucasian lady, I don't really know of what race she is, but she just ordered a coffee of some sort. And then, there's Heather and I. If you know us you know that we are very diverse or rather unique in nature, which just goes along with the demographics of this coffee shop. And, to top it all off, the freakin' barista is nice as hell, you don't get that everywhere-especially not Starbucks, but they are not to blame (me included because unfortunately I work there) because they more than likely hate their jobs. Hey did I mention that they have tons of artwork all around, a library, and an enclosed patio that you can just relax on. And they play their own awesome music, I heard Maxwell and Blue Six, and that's the shit! Well, I'm about to get a salad and prepare to read my poem for open-mic night, but maybe you should visit sometime! It's called Cafe 1923 and it's on E. Holbrook about a mile from I 75.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ain't I A Woman? The Answer--It's Poetic

In response to someone asking: Where are all the black feminists?


Raised Fists, Bronzed and Goldened

Grazed Afros, Blackened, But Sometimes Grayed

Dark Stares At The Bronzed Faces Thirst For Change...

That's When My Foremothers Came

That's When The Lives Of The Dually Oppressed Became

Firmly Dedicated To Asking: Aint I A Woman?

Soujourner, Assata, Angela, and bell

I'm Sure They Felt That With No Rights Life Was Near To Hell

That's When Raised Fists Became Moist With Sweat and Cramped From Anger

When Tears Formed The Question: Ain' I A Woman?

Lurked Deep Within Hearts Which Were Torn

Flowed, Those Words, Those Words They Flowed, Through Their Lungs

To Their Lips Tasting The Sweat Tinged Tears...

So, I Ask: Ain't I?, So, She Asks:Ain't She, So, We Ask: Ain't We...WOMEN?

Sit-ins, Protests, Speeches, Novellas, Anthologies, Too Many Damn Apologies

For The Exiles, The Denials, The Oppression, The Possession, And The Obsession

With Neglectin' Me...Because I Represent We!

Asked Once Where Did All The Black Feministas Dissapear To?

Well, By Which Medium Are You Attempting To Steal A View?

Because I, Better Yet, We Are Still Professing Their Names.

Now, Their Stories and Glories Are Our Ammunition To Continue Asking:

Ain't I A Woman?

Their Trials and Triumphs Are Our Catalysts For Change.

It's Just Somethings Resemble The Same Games But, Simply Decades Away.

From Being Called Mammies, To Prostitues, To "Welfare Queens",

To Booty Shakin' Video Hoes Chasin' HIS Green...

Things Haven't Changed If You Asked Me!

We Don't Fight Together Anymore, Or Maybe We Never Have, Only Each Other

The Answer:

The Real Change Comes From Both Our Sisters and Our Brothers...

Smoking Cigarettes...To Be Free

Au·then·tic –
not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique.

What is this about? Well...lately I have been feeling as if I was in some sense of a false reality. Like the life I am living is somewhat fake and the life I want to live by is somewhat distant and unreachable...So, I am now on a journey of authentication and realizing the truth about life and a real worldview. Life's little mysteries make you want to wake up, but when you do its like you are still asleep and you attempt to awaken yourself over and over and over again. So, how do you live a life that is genuine when what surrounds you is often imitated and superficial. Side note on authentic free-thinking: There is a lady outside of the locality in which I sit smoking a cigarette and drinking some iced drink and she looks free; free of complexity and anger. It seems that her thoughts are slowly perusing through her mind at their own free will, but yet she is slowly killing herself with this same freeness, but she hasn't a care in the world, she seems so free and that's the point she seems authentically free. I want to be free of labels, ie the black girl typing on her computer. I want to smoke a cigarette and be authentically free, but to me I would be filled with thoughts that keep me from letting go and simply being me. And, I would be plagued with the thought of the freely flowing nicotine filling my body which acts as a parasite to my left lung creating, twenty years from now, the beginning of my demise...SEE that's what I mean. I am not yet authentically free because every thought turns into another Negative thought which prevents me from being my true self. I am so uptight and afraid of change, but want change so badly. I want to be this free spirit, but I am not free. I am afraid of your judgement..even when I am probably not even being judged. I hate hurting people, but still I hurt them. I am against racism and sexism, but still I am not as outspoken against it as I should be! I claim I like to write, but I fail to write enough. I am against large-exploitive corporations, but still I work for one..which is killing me softly by the way. I buy books that I foresee reading, but never read them...this is not being authentic.'s time to do what I say and say what I mean! It's time to smoke that metaphorical cigarette that is eager to seep freedom and knowledge throughout my soul...Put simply its time to be authentically me!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Soy...The Conspiracy

So...I am heated and very disturbed at the fact that eating healthy is much more expensive than eating unhealthy food. Why is it that I have to drive anywhere between twenty to thirty minutes simply to find a health food store or a grocery store which caters to people who want to be sure they are eating either fresh, organic, or dairy free products. Why do we live in a world that prides itself on feeding us 99 cent quarter pounders, but laughs and blames us when we are overweight as if they urge us to do things differently. So why am I writing about this? Well, I just went to Seattles Best Coffee inside of Borders and ordered a cup of coffee and asked if I could have about an inch of soy to put in my coffee and the cashier attempted to charge me 55 cents as if I asked for a latte made with soy. Why isn't soy included on the condiment stand anyway, enough people drink it! And why are soy connoisseurs forced to pay extra for non-dairy products? It should probably be less if you ask me because it is guilt-free meaning no animals were harmed, poked, or proded just to formulate such a product. I wonder if people who are lactose intolerant who don't drink soy know that it could alleviate their problems...problably not... corporations don't want you to know that. Did you know that it is not natural to even drink the bi-product of another mammal...cows and goats...our bodies are not capable of breaking down the enzyme that is in milk properly. This consequently causes a heightened need to flagellate and have a bowel movement or the lack thereof.

But, lets talk about another food topic, grocery stores...why are liquor stores the new grocery stores in the city. Why do I have to drive so far just to get to a Kroger (not that Kroger is the best grocery store in the world), but why? And, why do the grocery stores in the city charge so freaking much for their Kroger Boca burgers are like $3.50 at the grocery stores in the city they are like $4.09...I know the technical answer so save me with the explainations, but it is just simply ridiculous. In my eyes, corporations are attempting to kill those who live in urban areas slowly, but surely regardless of if it is through high-priced products or through the unsanitary handling of their products. Does anybody remember when Mayor/Player Kwame Kilpatrick attempted to place a food tax on fast food to try to put a stop on "obesity" in Detroit? I wonder if he ever took the time to look in the mirror? Or, did he even attempt to read a freakin' book? Why attempt to punish the people who go to these places because they constantly are bombarded with there advertisments on the television, radio, internet, magazines, and billboards and because many of the consumers of the fast food industry can not afford anything else? Why? Why? Why? Tax the freakin' corporation, but no you probably wouldn't do that because then you would stop profiting from the exploitation of the lower class. A class that Kwame and many other politicians probably originated from.

Well that's enough!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised...The Revolution Is Here

Have you heard of Reverend Edward Pinkney? Hmmm, the answer is probably not and the reason is probably because the news media only televises what they want to. Did you realize, you Michigan residents, that Benton Harbor, Michigan is largely segregated in 2008 by a river? Did you know that 90% of it's African American residents are poverty stricken? Hmmm, probably not! See what they want you to believe is that those who are overwhelmingly impovershed are this way by choice and by disproportionate laziness, but see the TRUTH about the matter will Never be televised.

You see, in Barrien County, a county which encompasses Benton Harbor, Michigan, WhirlPool Corporation is attempting to practice a little thing called gentrification or the taking over of impoverished land and replacing it with new thriving businesses and residences. The only problem with this is that there are people already living on this land that will probably never be able to afford the new residences! So, our previously mentioned friend, and he is our friend, Reverend Pinkney spent his days protesting against these acts because the majority of the people who stayed here were..yes you guessed it...African-American. Pinkney also protested against unjust killings, sentencing, and trials of African-Americans from this area. Long story short, Pinkney, in the past, participated in activities such as voter registration drives and polling assistance, but the Barrien County court sytem found him guilty of 4, lets count 1, 2, 3, 4, felony counts of interferring with absentee ballots even when evidence showed that these allegations were false. This all happened when a certain candidate, Glenn Yarbrough who planned to lead this expansion of WhirlPool, lost in the election by 54% , but due to the allegations he got a chance to reelected and won.

Unfortunately, Reverend Pinkney still sits and jail! For more information read the linked article and to donate to help in his appeal refer to the listed blogspot site.

Related Article:

Dear Mom...I Miss You,

So it has been exactly twenty years, give or take a week, since you passed away and I simply miss you! Although we might be crying or reflecting sadly I am sure you are happy somewhere watching Carlton, Kevin, Richard, and I and everyone who comes into our lives because remember they said you were just too nice. And although it might be difficult sometimes for us to deal with the many ugly realities of this world it is all transformed when we think of your angelic face and demeanor. I wondered if you noticed that you and I are similar in least that is what I am often told. Don't worry, Richard your Dear, is just fine! He is the greatest father in the world and he is taking care of your baby girl. And, don't worry I know this world is filled with lies and deceit, but that is why I am educating myself and keeping you near to my heart to prepare for its defeat.

Well, with subsequent years come continious reflections...So, I'll reflect again this time next year

Nicole..Betty (You) In Your Prime

Monday, June 16, 2008

So Long Capitalism...Hello Harmony and Equality

I Wish...and You should too!

Unfortunately,we live in the Good Ol' US of A, which was founded on the ideas of free markets and individualism. It also makes its profit off of exploiting those who are continously marginalized. There should be a day honoring Native Americans, African Americans, other voluntary and involuntary immigrants, and others that have put up with the crap of those too narcisstic to realize that if it weren't for us, the United States of America would not exist. Preferably every day of the year! So, it is obvious that there is a major relationship between inequality and the practice of capitalism. This is due to the fact that capitalism creates 'hierarchies of domination', which serve as the basis of class systems and disproportionate amounts of poverty. Someone has to be on top (the rich, white, male five-percent) and someone must be on the bottom (the minorities..mostly African-Americans ).

So maybe you are asking... Ok, And?

But, that is the problem...why is this okay? Why are so many people in a state of denial? Why have we been coerced into embracing a government which is controlled by big business or billion dollar industries or corporations. Apparently, if it was worth the strife we would not be in a 9.5 billion dollar debt. We also, we meaning American citizens, would not support the utilization of our tax dollars that are being spent to fund a fake/made up war on 'terrorism', which is only aimed at gaining possession over an industry that is not ours to own in the first place. I mean damn corporations should heed the examples of those who poverty stricken...damn you can't own everthing! Now, yes the oil industry and the giants in control of it might be charging unjust amounts for the oil, but how much will your neighborhood Shell make from this sale? Hell, we keep going over there messing with them and killing those they consider 'collateral damage', but yet they are human beings just as we are! And dear American's are dying too! But, that doesn't matter since the majority of these Americans are mostly lower-class and people of color. Does it even matter that even when they are risking their lives in the name of the great Oil, they are still poverty stricken?

So what about Harmony and Equality...well unless you are white, male, and the wealthiest 5 percent of our nation then good luck with that one. Unless you plan to protest, lobby, petition, and boycott these corporations that are at the heart of capitalism and therefore at the heart of inequality and risk going to jail. That said, in a true harmonious and egaltarian society imprisonment is the small price you pay to gain equality for all. Hey... and guess what...Bush doesn't really matter because if we wanted to perform a mass takeover of Our government, and it is Our government, we could transform the status quo as we know it. Besides why is it that such a small percentage of people are controlling the remaining 95 percent. I think it is a matter of thinking out side of the box or the bun as my father states, as well as, some other corporation which thrives on serving us 'roach' meat because it can't be real beef for just 79 cents. Better yet, JUST THINK!!!!
And, before you get mad at me just realize the TRUTH hurts!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

How Am I Supposed To Believe When...

Since I was a child I have questioned the existence of this person or spirit called Jesus or God. My bestfriend in high school always asked me to go to church with her and as we moved on to college she even joined a Christian fraternity...I just don't really think God or whoever would want anyone to be tortured in his or her name. But, back to, when my mother died and then my grandfather died and the my aunt died...things really got complicated. I just did not understand why I should be praying to this being that took all of my loved ones away. I remember sitting in mass and/or service anywhere from one hour to three hours and focusing on the lion making noises in my stomach or the fact that I wanted to sneeze, but I did not want to interrupt the lady in front of me talking about how fine the pastor was. Now that I think about it, my father was a religious sceptic if you will; he went from being an Athiest to practicing some African religion that believed in giving double hugs to being a Baptist to being dead stuck in the middle somewhere. The thing I can recall for sure is that he always told me to make decisions about religion on my own without the force of others. So...I wouldn't exactly call myself an athiest, because then that would entail a label, but I simply can not praise another person or spirit that walked this Earth just as I have. There is also the little notion that Christianity was once a form of control during slavery in America and other places that colonization took place. Christianity and many other forms of organized religion are STILL utilized to control women and that simply does not work for me. And, it seems that followers of religion are confused...Who is it that you are exactly praising...God, Jesus, Allah, Jehovah, etc. So, how am I expected to believe when there is no proof, there are too many names to remember, and when the same God that loves me will also 'strike me down' for getting a tattoo or considers me worthless and too filthy to sleep in the same room as my significant other..oh, I mean husband...Lord forbid I sleep with a man I'm not married to, just because I bleed once a month. And, it takes more than a passed down script telling me that it is all Eve's fault that I have a period once a month! With all the sarcasm set aside...How is it really possible to believe?

Fathers, Brothers, Yoga, Iced Coffee, and Ms. Badu

Father's Day....A little unconfortable this year because my money was sort of funny, but he's still greatly appreciated. Side Note: My father raised me by himself since I was seven and twenty years later he is still the most courageous and praiseworthy person in the world. Richard Carter you are my hero!

So...I talked to my brother today and I am very happy. It's been about a year since I spoke to him last. The conversation, filled with giggles and sarcasm, was a breathe of fresh air. Thank you Carlton for reaching out today. You reached out at just the right time.

I did yoga for about twenty five minutes today and for a few minutes I thought I was going to pass out from an asthma attack, but I feel good now. I am also happy I took the time to stretch and do some cardio. I had my first attempt at iced coffee and let me just say I had three cups! It was GOOOOOOOD:) So long Starbucks!

Finally, I downloaded about two hundred songs to my iPod and I am happy about it. I now get to listen to an unlimited amount of Erykah Badu...her sultry/southern voice always makes my day!

Off to doing the presentation I have been procrastinating about for about 8 hours....

See...I Smile Sometimes!

See...I Smile Sometimes!