Picture of the month

Picture of the month
Life is circular

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Death Life and Overcoming

Late on the night of July 20th 2007 my mother received a call from her oldest sister. Aunt G was gone she had passed earlier that day of an heart attack.It was not totally unexpected since she had bypass surgery five years ago, but still it did not seem real.
For me it was yet another death to deal with while wondering if the pain my mother has suffered in the past few weeks would take her too. I have learned many things this past month about excepting what life has dealt me minus the anger of wondering
why the cards on my side of the table have come up lacking lately.
Dealing with older parents and the stressful situations that comes with them can be a hassle.However I feel blessed to have had least had the time to do and say everything I needed to before my mother goes.I think of my cousin aunt G's son and know that was not the case for him.In that I resolved the greatest lesson we can learn from in life is how to over come the tough things life dishes out to us, while allowing ourselves time to chew on them long enough to move on in a healthy state. Aunt G was a piece of work but in death she provided me one more lesson to share, never let the expected turn into an unexpected shame.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

a long ride home

I talk about many people but recently the person who has shone me the most strength has been my mother.In late June she began experiencing pain by mid July it was so bad she went to the doctors in extreme misery and that's when it happened.She asked me to look into funeral arrangements.I didn't take this lightly from a woman who always covered up her pain so I would not know. So having to consider what funeral
plans I may need to make for my her floored me.
In the past month we have been through every test there is with no relief for her what so ever.Last week she told me she could not take the pain anymore and felt
like giving up but worried about what would happen to me. Isn't that
just like a mother.I do freelance work now and while it pays good she
still worries it's not the 9-5 corporate thing i used to have. So I
told her that's what nearly killed me and one way or another she will
make this journey with me and we both will be alright.
I admit that in the past I was tired of the responsibility of handling
all of this but honestly I hope the end is not near but a sense of calm
has come over me.So this week as I pack her up to go home I know this
might be the last trip we physically take together. Not that I won't
miss her but I can not take the tears and her cries of pain anymore.If
she needs to go I'm letting her,she has suffered enough. Last year I
lost my cousin who is the same age as me and at Christmas a good
friends mother passed.I have prayed and put it on the alter thats all i
can do.
I am a walking miracle myself and having been given the gift of a
little more time on this earth I choose to travel.I have not done it
all but I 'm working on it.So many people have said oh don't tell all
your business, why do you have a travel blog etc.
I would say I spent 30 plus years being introverted and I often found
that I did not need to wait for any friends to take a trip or go across
town.This puzzled many folks and a few could not accept the fact that I
I was even happy discovering the world without someone else going
along.Since I have started traveling though the people I have met from
here and abroad have told me some wonderful stories of which I have
become addicted.That' s why I talk now because somewhere there is
another person who needs to hear they are not in the same place
alone.Finding a connection to human beings is not telling your
business.I'm not giving bank account or social security numbers after
all.I still have a need to hit the road solo but now I write about it.
This week I will be back at the doctors picking up the last round of my
mothers test.I know that whatever these results turn up it won't keep
me from living this sort of gypsy life.My only wish is to be able to
share it with her. I still hold out that i can but it is not up me and
I'm at peace with that.
I made that trip two weeks ago and half way back east she became so sick we stopped
a little after midnight at a gas station outside of Tyler texas to call an ambulance.
We spent the rest of the morning in the ER and she has insurance.Finally learning she was mismanaged by her quack of a doctor.We hit the road and arrive home where we are slowly making head way to find the right doctors.Through it all I have discovered what I always knew.My mother is the stongest woman I know or will ever meet but that strength has it's limits and it up to me to make sure I understand exactly what they are.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

C Vivian Stringer

I take from quotes she has given over the years in various media

There just are not that many black females coaching college basketball and that number shrinks even further when you look at division 1 schools.If you were
to add in major conferences that number would dwendall even more.

"All I've ever wanted to do is coach basketball and love doing it; I just want to be a good person and do a great job."

John Chaney said in an interview "There isn't a more creative basketball brain in this country than Viv. Forget men, forget women, forget black, forget white."

A graduate of Slippery Rock in PA she played basketball field hockey and tennis and is now in their hall of fame.

Started as a volunteer coach at cheyney in 1971

lead them to the first final four in 1982

She told Sports Illustrated in 1997 that "Iowa began to signify for me the best of times and the worst of times. I knew as long as I stayed there I'd continue to feel sorry for myself, and people would feel sorry for me."

On the Imus incident hillary clinton said "She and her players have shown us the difference between bravery and bravado".

of former player Tia jackson appointment as Washington head coach "It warms my heart to know she has been given this opportunity, and I am extremely proud of her," feel she will be extremely successful," Stringer said of her former player who helped Iowa reach the Final Four in 1993. "Everywhere Tia has coached, every program Tia has touched, has excelled because of her."

Player essence said "She has brought up many things that have happened to her in her life to show us that no matter when you're struggling, or how much you're struggling, that there's still light at the end of the tunnel," Essence Carson, a junior guard from Paterson, New Jersey, said at the Final Four. "But most importantly coach Stringer's our motivator just simply because we exemplify her character. Her teams are known for tough defense and her practices are often intense. Other coaches say that attitude shows up in games

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The thunderous sound of drums could be heard beating in the distance as the
salty taste of blood drifted through Miloh’s mouth. Although his head was
pounding he could not help being drawn into the melody of bells chiming in
unison with a chorus of heavy voices. The Joyful noises were coming from a
group of women standing near a small church directly across the street from
his condominium. Their musical vibrations almost seemed to be oozing
Through the buildings crevices. He could feel every souls harmony as it
seeped through the form stone walls. Just their mere presence called to him
to join them but he could not move, and was becoming nauseated laying still
in bed.
In his disorientated state he tried to figure out what was happening to
his body but was distracted by the music which continued sweetly calling
him. It took him a few minutes of tossing about before he was able to gather
enough energy to push himself up from the bed and stumble towards an open
window, in the process he slammed his knee on the central air unit beneath it.
A large clot of blood shook loose from the hole in his mouth as he yelped.
The room was instantly filled with the stale smell of rotten blood, his first
reflex was to spit it out. Instead the heavy fumes from the funeral incense already permeating in the air caused him to gag and then inadvertently swallow while choking on the thick frankincense.
He had always disliked breathing the intensity of those fumes it took him back to a world he left behind long ago. He hadn’t spent much time in the church but his roots were firmly planted in Catholism. His mother had practiced it in her own way, the one thing your grandpa and I still Share is faith she used to say while clutching a hand full of rosary beads. Now standing by the window in the corner of his dark room he found himself trying not to remember the damp day in October that the aroma had released From the bowels of his memory . Yet the harder he tried to concentrate on the singing outside in the churches court yard the further he feLl into the bosoom
of those bittersweet memories. Even the trauma of having two wisdom Teeth
pulled couldn’t trump the pain he felt on that day, and so he listened more
intently to the chorus hoping to surpress an unforgettable event in his life.

Sweet Jesus take meee
Taaake me

Coming hoooome

Coming home

He found himself unable to stop staring at the choir of sisters decked out in gold robes with purple trim and for some reason he didn’t know he began watching their feet. A sacred pattering of assorted brown feet which stumped out a heavy rhythm while kissing the ground. Their bodies rocked from side to side and then swayed north and south. As they moved their heels sprang back as if landing on cotton and when they moved forward a dozen pairs of matching tan sandals marched gracefully down the street. Sheer energy danced from their heads to their toes, the spirit was everywhere in the processions rhythmic movements through sorrow and joy. As he leaned against the curtains peering out through just a slit in the middle his eye made contact with a little girl. No more than seven or eight he thought as a familiar pang exploded in his heart. Pulling the drapes open as wide as they could go the two pairs of eyes met, not able to turn away they looked at each other for a moment but it felt like hours. There were no words exchanged but in only a few moments volumes of emotions passed between two troubled spirits windows, just one lonely gaze meeting another. They were two souls experiencing the same loss but dealing with it in different stages of life. Finally able to look away he observed her fingers griping a larger hand attached to a body that was out of view to him from his basement level view.
The line of mourners moved on and the child with the empty gaze faded down the street with them. He wondered for a minute, how did he know the kid had lost someone too. Shaking his head he thought aloud “the eyes, they tell to much”.
A quick glance at the clock on the wall revealed the hour to be nine forty seven it was time to get his own day started. He closed the curtains walked to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and then showered. While shaving he watched his image standing in the mirror and began to break down. His mind started falling amongst petrified pictures from the closet of his memory, until he was slowly sucked into the worst day of his life again.

'Heartache blew through the air as the wind swirled around an empty tune of loss. Over in a dark corner shaded by stressed out maple trees a mahagany colored casket crept as it was lowered in to the ground.The only people around to witness this were nine year old Miloh Plaino, the undertaker, and all the souls condemned to wait out eternity in the shabby Mount Olive cemetery. The one acre plot of land had long become over grown with weeds and malt liquor bottles. Only a few neighbors who cared knew it had once been the burial place of all the upper class blacks who were fortunate enough not to be clumped in the black commentary down the street. The more money one had the closer your final resting place was to Gods house the old folk always said. To those who didn’t know it was perceived as an eye soar located between the corners of South and West street. It Stood hidden against the facades of Leons pigs pen bbq shop on the left and the vacant leviwitz shoe store. The only place in town blacks could put their foot in a shoe and not have to buy it during the sixties. Most of the head stones had disappeared it seemed every head stone placed before 1960 had long since turned over and retreated in to the earth joining the departed. The markers that came after that were luckier, they were mostly ground plates now masked by years of garbage from chicken wing boxes to cigarette packages.
Little Miloh didn’t pay attention to all those distractions though. His eyes were firmly planted on his shoes, shinny black loafers being covered with falling snowflakes that were more icy than flaky. His vision was blurred by tears that wouldn’t fall. Instead they clung to the corners of his eyes and when full he wiped them away. It was another way he tortured himself just because, he felt he deserved it. Finally a drop fell on those little sized five shoes, defeated he looked up at the funeral director who’s hand was extended. Grabbing the just a few finger on the hand in a gentle lock the old man lead Miloh towards the edge of the world, the hole in the earth where he Instinctively threw the rose he was holding dearly down in to the pit, part of him fell in with it. A lightness filled his body as the flower landed squarely on the casket without so much as a sound.'

Miloh forced the images to stop by leaving the bathroom and grabbing his jacket before heading out the door. He didn’t stop to greet the elderly woman who walked her shaggy dog everyday near the end of the parking garage nor did he speak to the parking attendant who watched as he hurried away in the classic black and gold TransAm. His trip would take him pass the very place he had avoided for years but he was heeding to a bigger calling than his own demons. Summer school was starting and as a teacher he really wanted to inspire some young minds to reach for greatness and if he had to work at Mount Olive Academy named for the church that once stood on the land then so be it he would. He whipped pass a mail truck as he pulled in to the faculty lot finding a space in the back of the building that looked straight out towards his memories. A faded shoe could still been seen on the side of the brick wall that housed levitwitz. He turned and walked briskly towards the entrance of the building but was stopped by the postal carrier, a tall slender dark brown skinned man.
“Hey reds what’s going on man, it‘s been to long” the voice said. No one had called him that since childhood. He could never hide anywhere with his rosy brown complexion and reddish hair. He had always been lovingly named after his carrot top and coloring.

“Marcus it’s good to see you man” as they hugged like long lost brothers.

“I heard you still lived out west somewhere, what brought you back” he said sitting his mailbag on the seat.

“Actually I moved back to teach, I guess I missed the place”

“Well I know I missed your band coming through town. Your grandfather might have been the top jazz trumpeter around these parts but your Latin beats with all that mambo stuff was alright with me. I heard you were touring with Tito Santigo for a while too”

“Yeah, I was but as much as I love music, I love to teach even more so.
I came back to help guide these young brothers to a better future . I learned a good deal in Chitown but this will always be my home”

“Well good luck, these young gangster want to be’s out here need somebody but you know me I’m southern. Spare the rod man. you hear me!”
They both laughed He had enjoyed seeing Ricky again every one he knew back in the day had moved away or died and not by natural causes, that made what he was about to venture into more important.

“It’s been to long and you know ain’t nobody left over this side of town but some knuckled heads”. Marcus looked down the street and continued “ I remember we had some good times way back when, you remember getting those Easter loafers up in there and old man Saul giving us those large crunchy pretzel sticks rolled in a ton of salt afterwards.”

“Yeah we really looked forward to that. You used to dog out some shoes on those raggedy skates of yours” he joked. “Oh I see talk about my metal skates without the ball bearing uh” they both broke out in laughter again then Marcus became serious for a minute.

“Well things are different now, not much of anything in this area, their trying to rebuild and this school is supposed to be the anchor. I’m just working on this part of town because no one wanted this route and I took it because at least I know the area. I’ve got a wife and three kids so I wasn’t going to be picky and lose out. What about you, married?” Marcus questioned.

“No I’m still looking, guess I’m like pops the music was my mistress for a long time and then one day I woke up and decided to expand my passion so to speak. I always wanted to give back at least I bit of what I was blessed enough to have been taught.” he smiled

“I see, your looking to nabbed one of those teachers or maybe students mamas” Marcus raised an eye but Miloh shot back.
“You haven’t changed in all these years man, still thinking like a reformed player” he had a boyish grin on his face.

“Of course” Marcus grinned back “ no flies on me man”.

Miloh looked at his watch, it was eleven thirty. “It sure was good to see you we need to keep in touch. Now that you know where I work maybe we can catch up a little more sometime”.

“Sounds like a plan to me, I’ll be around too you know I won’t be giving up these benefits.” They shook hands and Miloh made his way into the school.

Walking pass the principle office he hurried up the stairs and into a small room filled with instruments. He had a Masters degree in history, but a good deal of his life had been spent studying music. His grandfather was a living legend and anyone that was someone and a few unknown innovators had sat in their living room in Chicago and jammed at some point. He didn’t need to study music in college he had lived the lessons. He took the job as music teacher for summer school to ease his transition into teaching. Hoping to be picked up fulltime at least before he made next years touring schedule.
He placed his briefcase on a chair in the front row and began to walk around and inspect all of the instruments. The rain in his soul was starting again and so he let the rest of his memories flood back. He reminded himself it wouldn’t be a good sight to be seen choking up in front of the class for no apparent reason so in his few moments alone he would get it over with. The view from his classroom faced the cemetery and he refused to fall apart by looking out the window across the way while lecturing.
He began to let himself drift back in time once again.

'A stern hand on Milohs’ shoulder was followed by a “lets go young man”. Constance Phillips the Hospice supervisor had agreed to take Miloh in until relatives could be notified. She hadn’t stepped foot on the grounds of the cemetery in twenty years and was all to happy the service was over. She briskly walked through the gates and toward the two as she was not one to linger in places like cemetaries or churches. Having received word the night before his grandfather was going to take him in, her pushy demeanor took over as she began to hurry the child. The last thing they wanted to do was be late arriving at the train station where Ms Marlene the boys grandfathers new wife was waiting she thought. He didn’t remember the ride, only seeing his new grandmother for the first time.She was a welcome sight after spending
the week with his mothers ex lover Connie,who was not into kids but she was saved.Her decision to remain strong in faith and leave the lesbian lifestyle devastated his mother who was deeply religous herself.However they had remained cordial enough that she was entrusted with Miloh's care in his mothers waning days at the hospice.He could still feel Ms Connie gently nudging him from behind as his
grand mother called out to him.

“Come on Miloh your going on a trian ride, I’m sure you like trains most
little boys do. Did anyone ever tell you your grandfather was a Pullman

“I thought he played in the navy band, that’s what mom said” Miloh
watched as she smiled, his eyes settled on the small creases that formed in the
corner of her mouth. She reminded him of his mother, they shared the same
honey complexion and same soft brown eyes.

“He worked for the railroad after he got out the navy. Your gramps loved to
travel, he sure did see a good deal of the country on those cars and he was so
handsome in his uniform. I met him in Chicago while visiting my sister, he invited me to come hear him at a local club. I used to watch the bands play at the Sphinx all the time but your gramps he was something special.” she smiled at the memories.

“My mom said granddad worked hard and never made enough money. He didn’t
have time to see his own family because of his job and when he did he wasn’t
nice. How did you have time to see him.” There was silence for a moment as
Marlene thought just how to answer the question. She decided to ignore it and
hurried the child onto the train. Chicago was going to be their new home now
and once Herbert came back off the road he could explain it all. She certainly
wasn’t going to tell the child about her on and off affair with his married
grandfather. He had asked her if she would allow Miloh to come live with
them, so it was his job to do all the explaining. Not that she minded, although
nervous the idea of having a child to raise thrilled her. She had tried so many
years ago to conceive and now found it strange that at the ripe age of fifty
nine she would finally get a child.
Her mind flashed back to counseling sessions that followed the pain of a lovers betrayal and her bodies rejection of an offspring.She could still see Herbert crying, heaving actually moaning out in a way she had never seen. His hurt felt more painful than hers at the time, even though she blamed him for not being there with her through the crisis she could not deny he was hurting too. Now they both had the chance to start again and raise his grandchild as their own.
Herbert had never been around long enough to be a father to his daughter and he wanted to right that wrong by way of his grandson. Life in the military had taken him to many places and he enjoyed the comradorary he felt amongst the some of the best jazz musicians of the time. The Navy’s all black band helped him form lasting relationships with men who later would become world famous it had it’s price though. His job made him a familiar stranger at home something he did not know quite how to fix but Maxine did. They would do this together and the right way, she had insisted they get married and he had agreed. His only regret was his first wife had passed five years earlier and had never gotten me meet the kid. Miloh discovered that part of the story from over hearing more than a few phone conversations.

Snapping back to the present he heard the sound of feet moving through the hall and he was ready. A group of various shape and sizes of twelve year olds
Came walking through the door.
“My name is Mr. Plaino, welcome to the summer school bridge program you’re here because you either don’t like school and are being punished or more than likely your parents wanted you to have a head start on the demands of this academy by participating in this program. Either way I’ve got you for six weeks and when I finish with you……..” He stopped in mid sentence. A young man with a long lanky body sat slumped in his seat tapping on a hand drum he scooped up from the desk beside him.
“What is your name young man” his eyes focused on the slumping child.

“It’s crucial” he answered back.

“Well I know that’s not your given name so why don’t we start over. What’s your name young man” he spoke sternly.

“It’s Toussaint” he muttered

“ So you were named after Francois Toussaint the Haitian revolutionary.

“How’d you know that dude” he shifted upright.

“Because dude I make it my business to study history.” He walked over to
stand by the kid and began speaking again.

“Since you have an interest in music you are going to have no problems
passing this course right.” the young man shook his head.

“Ok than we will begin with young Toussaint here” he picked up a larger djembe and place it in front of the boy.

“Son all you need to know is in the notes of a jazz melody, the history of our
people is locked within the tunes. Now look at your drum, run your hand
around it’s curves, every human being enters this world through the womb of
a woman. As a man you don’t have a biological womb but this drum is the way you give birth to your ideas, this is your womb. Do you feel it’s power,
it is a the entryway from which your emotions meet the world. In ancient
times it was used as a messenger service from one village to the next. The
same applies today except now your message is about unifying the soul with the creativity that comes from the mind. All your friends are listening to it’s beat but what they don’t know their hearing is the rhythm of life. The first music you heard was the heart beat of a black woman and as you grow it is she who will always hold a special place in the core of you. So it is not the song being played on this instrument that captures the imagination of your audience but the familiar calling of their first home, the womb.
Music allows you to feel every emotion, fear and comfort, joy and sadness they all live in an exhilarating range of keys for a reason. In order to truly be the great musician you aspire to be you must find center. Your going to have to learn how to control the energy that flows from a place deep within you. You have to know when and how much and then interrupt the best way to send those meaning to your audience and it all has to feel natural not contrived, just as important your energy must flow through a cycle .
Our people arrived on these shores before Columbus we were navigators and tradesmen but when we came back the second time they had taken our freedom, we had lost our drums. They thought that if the way we could communicated with each other without anyone else understanding died so would are spirits and we would become a broken people. Despite their best efforts they could not kill our voices and so we honed them, our vocal cords became instruments and we thrived here by keeping alive history in our oral tradition. From Mexico to Cuba, down through Panama and over to Brazil we reinvented what we were forced to leave behind. Our music became varied as we sought to tell new stories of love, heartache, freedom, and joy. Boy don’t be fooled by rap and hip hop it’s not new, it’s an extension of what we brought here. The dances and the lyrics are now turning inward and are being ruled by the dollar not by culture. Make no mistake though without a struggle and a strong community there could be no rap or spoken word artist speaking their dysfunctional truths. Rhyming about your sad life and doing wrong is not therapy for the healthy. Trying to use the dirty money you made sending out messages to the world that our women are not worth valuing or that we are somehow unable to be productive law abiding citizens is an even greater evil.No tragedy is to hard to overcome, let nothing stop your dreams from becoming reality. A desire is nothing more than a lazy mans dream, it’s a want, it stays inside his heart but he isn’t willing to fulfill it. Now a goal is something he will set to bring that seed planted in his mind to fruitation. I want you all to understand the difference.” He turned towards the class and continued.

“The main ingredient to success is hard work not slacking or defaming others. If you give me the effort and do the task your assigned you will not fail this class. Every failure is a stepping stone placed before you to build on and succeed, believe that and you’ll always be a winner. Before you leave this room today I want every one of you to commit to bettering yourselves on an academic and personal level. I don’t want you to tell me I want you to show me. When you walk through these doors Monday morning this is going to be your poetry slam, you are going to need the fine skills of composing, knowledge of history and the ability to articulate what you’ve learned. All you would be rappers in here I’m challenging you to tell me a story without profanity, tell me something about the world beyond where you live that interest you, tell me about you, minus what other people have branded you as. That young mister crucial is what this class is about and what it will take to pass.”
He then allowed for thirty minutes of question and answers so that the class
could get to know each other before bringing it all to a close.

“I will see you all next week minus the baggy pants.”
The young man who called himself crucial walked away still trying to be hard but as he exited through the doors of the classroom Miloh noticed the hood swagger had turned into just a little more of an average walk, it was a slight variance but it was a start. Seventh grade was not the easiest level to teach. It was in fact he thought to himself preteens with raging hormones and twenty year old looking bodies sitting disinterest in history class while waiting for the bell to ring. Though some of their voices had already started to deepen and mostly all had developed “smart” mouths it was where he had always longed to be. These kids needed to see a man, a black man, college educated, not flashing bling but still successful. He didn’t doubt they would think his beautifully restored 1980’s TransAm was pimped out. He already knew that being a jazz musician with a record contract who had already traveled the world would make him “the man“. He was going to use those things to show The young men that being well rounded wasn’t a white thing.

If they were smart enough to teach themselves music and dance forms and compose lyrics they were sharp enough to apply that same energy to lessons in the classroom. He would tell them the story of a little boy who lost his mother at eight and proceeded to lived a self imposed lonely life after being raised by his grandparents and how that shorty had grown into a positive man.
He was rich because he was blessed to be a positive role model giving back.
All these years he ran from the grief of losing a mother his first love.
She was the one woman he loved deeply who had left him in so much pain. The one person in the world who opened up the door and showed him what real strength was. In her last words she left him a lesson for living
“ Son be the kind of man that makes himself accountable for all his actions,a good man is a honorable one”. she said

He was now doing what she had done teaching, they shared so many of the same loves and he felt closer to her for it. A few minutes after the class had filed out he was still sitting on the stool in the front of the small band room and clasping a small djembe. He tried to think back on his life but he was interrupted by three figures who were approaching from the back of the class, the search committee. How he thought had he forgotten they were back there during the entire class analyzing his worthiness to make the job permanent for the up coming school year.
Getting a gig at one of the local public schools would be no problem. Yet it was this one he wanted so badly, this was an all male school, full of a mixture of poor kids from the hood and those from better families out in suburbia. It was a throw back to the days when the black community lived together regardless of their economic level. The schools mission was to embrace the diversity by blending the best and brightest with those struggling in hopes of helping both.
Their motto read, “understanding a better village can only be made by every resident working together for a common goal” but the message etched in concrete on the over head walkway as you entered the building read
“I am my brothers keeper”.
Each young man in the school which was comprised of seventh through twelfth grade was expected to strive for this goal, and he wanted to share in it as a mentor the name given to all teachers at the academy. Now he braced himself not knowing what their reaction to his teaching style would be.
Mr. Plaino the strong voice of principle Marcell Winters echoed toward him. “I’m proud to offer you the position of history mentor here. These young men need a role model like you. Of course this won’t become official until the board meeting on Wednesday.”
The second older and distinguished voice added “ Miloh I have been a jazz lover for more years than you’ve been alive. I have never heard such an analogy as you made today. You not only taught those kids something, you schooled me and that is not easy.” His words meant a great deal to Miloh because this man, Charles Morgan had learned to play jazz trumpet from his grandfather . He was also a classmate of his mothers and donated the land for the school. The third member of the trio Mrs Ariel Billingsley who was a member of the schools board only gave him a smile before saying
“we are thrilled to have you” and walking off.
As he watched them leave a familiar tingle gripped his heart, he knew then his mother had never left him and he had grown to be the man she had hoped. He also knew it wasn’t her dream, it was his reality and nothing more seemed right but to stop running. He began to have thoughts of a family of his own. He picked up his briefcase, it was time to take a drive around his new old hometown. The winter road trip was off, his students needed him more.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Florida African Dance Festival

I try to tell the story of women from their point of view or mine by way of what I have learned from them.It's been about two weeks since I attended the Florida African Dance Festival and I still can't pen my feelings. I was overwhelmed by the spirit of black folk and it was wonderful. I found sisterhood and sense of community I have not felt in years.I'm going to let the pictures tell this story.



She was a busy woman but took time out to share a few words with.Thanks for such a great festival!

These two little girls mother made the dance belts they are wearing in fact several of the dancers were customers.The kids were able to go to free dance class which was a plus for many parents attending.


Cheap disposable camera shot is dark but these ladies are getting a real work out.
As an big beautiful woman I was inspired by big "gals" holding their own.


This was one of the instructors what a beautiful spirit and patient teacher

Providers of our dance beats and a drumming workshop.


more to come

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Alone at this Crossroad

My mom and I are baby boomers,she at the beginning and myself at the tail end.
I now find my life impacted by the older child taking care of parent stage.Actually my mom is still somewhat independent but there are issues and we are going through a few health crisis. Trouble is I have only my faith to fall back on. I can not believe how draining this is,how honestly trapped I feel.
I love this woman unconditionally but there is fear and resentment on my part that as the only child I have had to give up so much in my life recently to make sure she is alright. Deep down she feels guilty over this so I never tell her about the opportunities I turn down. Still we are a team, we help each other and with all the love and strength a mother daughter relationship entails we also have our moments.Honestly I wouldn't change a thing but I do wish that for just a day I didn't have to worry about her well being.
Thankfully she did give up driving (don't get me starting on those tales),although she still has her license! She told me as she has gotten older seeing at night is more difficult and her arthritis gives her fits so it makes driving a bother most days.So I am the chauffeur now and trust me there is no worst copilot than your mother as a side seat driver.
Thus today I deviate a bit from telling the story of others through my eyes and release a bit of me. I know I am not alone but I very much feel so and worst what does one do knowing without a second thought I would do anything for my mom even if it means I hurt myself. I have no regrets other than not being able to afford to do more for her, perhaps that's where my main guilty and anguish come from. Everyday I stay in prayer it is my only comfort. so I do know I'm not really alone but it is still a challenge.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Patricia Stephens Due freedom in the family

I came across Patricia Stephens Due, long time civil rights activist and author of Freedom in the family at a festival in Tallahassee, Fl in June of 2007.
Her life as a civil rights activist is documented in the book freedom in the family which she wrote with one of her daughters. I learned in her lifetime she has received many honors including Florida A&M's first freedom award. I found myself pulled into her words as I sat in the audience and listened to her sixty seven year old voice still very strong rich and deep told this story.
She has worn shades since 1960 when the police threw tear gassed into a crowd she had gathered with.As she says she wrote the book because "I had a story I wanted to be told." What really influenced her was the fact many people thought her recollections were fabricated. "They told me tear gas being thrown didn't happen"..."I knew then it was critical to document what I knew."...
There were incidents in the coming to market process with her book worth sharing.
She stated writing is a business and we must treat it as such.Noting one editor wanted her to pen historical fiction. "I wanted all the stories of the foot soldiers to be true." Over the years Ms Due hasn't forgotten much either and if something was not clearly recalled she could turn to her journal as she says "I write things down.This was just the way I was, if I had a good day or a bad day".She was also shocked to discover after looking at her book tour schedule places like Houston's Shrine of black Madonna had been left off the list.In fact there was no consideration for black stores at all.She insisted that there be a stop in her hometown small market of Tallahassee,Florida though. She mentioned even the cover jacket was misleading."The picture shows all women but there were a few young men too..We had no control over what the jacket would be.She concluded that portion of her talk by saying "There were things I would have preferred not to put in the book".Although she was comfortable with what ended up in the final version, saying she was glad to leave a few things off because it would intrude on others privacy
making the statement "I didn't put everything in the book."
She went on to ask the audience "how much do you know about your family",and Talked about the importance of documenting our history. The meaning of which starts at home and getting our kids to develop reading skills for life long enjoyment.
"If we have not provide a place for our young people in our community we have failed".
On black bookstores struggling and closing she recalled that E Lynn Harris had said the Internet would pose a problem for independent black bookstores."We need to support our black bookstores." and "Even in the worst of times we buy books".
She also spoke about this being the best of times for black authors "who are now seeing more shelf space" and the worst of time as a good deal of the shelves is being "narrowed to street literature". Making the analogy to "violent rap taking over mainstream black music." She went on to say " I think about the 50's and 60's
it was okay to be lynched.So "who are we,If we condone violence by letting our children read it. We still set the example our children are not in charge by the books that we want them to read".
The crowd clapped with approval as the subject matter of these new gangsta books are becoming increasingly controversial.The session neared a close and she left us with some parting words "Stories live forever,story tellers don't".

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The African Dance Festival

A few years ago that I came across a web site that was instantly added to my list of favorites. The African Dance Festive held in Tallahasse Florida.

A full gym of predominately female dancers with a few preteen boys warm up for class.
All of the woman and girls are dressed in various states of African ethnic clothing
yet most of the males have on athletic wear all are barefoot.

Across the hall vendors are setting up in an even larger gym that has soft biege tarp covering the flooring.This is also where classes for kids to learn so dances take place and later in the day it was set up for the lecturer series.One with authors and a health synposium.

Despite being held at a local community college's athletic areana the festival had a warm that only black folks can bring. Kids ran from room to room playing and being corrected by elders without the threat of their parents being upset over them being put back in line.

I sat next to the sweetest little two year old quietly watching her mom in one of the dance classes.Her dark chocolate angelic face look up at me and smiled as I silently wondered just how wonderful it would be to have a little me to share it with.

Sisters of all ages filled the gyms with an assortment of young boys and a handful whites.
I noticed one lone white girl pounding on a djembe up in the bleachers,I later saw her in a drumming class.She looked to be enjoying herself and I felt that in that place and time all of us who were there sharing the moment were home.

Monday, February 19, 2007


I surf the web sometimes I think more than I should and often I come across something I feel that needs to be shared.This personal account is one that needs to be told in this space not for those who don't want to know but for those of us opened to being enriched by knowing.

I contacted Kori Dade wright by email after reading his journey from female to male or FTM as it is often shorten too. I asked if he coulds shared a bit here and thankfully he agreed.

"I'm surprised and flattered to say the least. Not many lesbian women understand transmen, or are correctly informed about who we are. I haven't found too many women only or lesbian identified spaces really accepting of us, especially on the net".

What did you draw from to make your transition?
I drew on my inner strength and knowledge of who I knew I was on the inside, not what the exterior depicted. I grew tired of being a conformer, not wanting to hurt or embarrass my mother, and just "being" but not LIVING. I just existed and drew in the breath that the Lord God gave me each and every second of my heart beat, but not enjoying the breaths that I took in this body that I felt betrayed me.

What is the most important thing to you?
Is being respected and recognized for the man that I've become. To not be judged or ridiculed because of who I am, for I have many internal and external battle scars to prove my time in war. I'm tired of fighting with the dykes and aggressives in the community because of their hatred, digust, unacceptance and lack of knowledge of the transmen. The acronym is LGBT or GLBT, but notice the "T" holding up the rear? Completeing the acronym? We MUST learn to love and accept one another IN the community. We don't have to agree with any one process, but damn, can we at least just let people live and enjoy who THEY are?

I'm at the point where I just don't give a damn any more. For the first time in my life, I feel alive. I'm free in BODY, soul and spirit. I feel happiness deep down within, and I am completely content. I will no longer allow the ignorance and phobia of others steal my joy and freedom of expression. God is my judge, NOT man, and no MAN has the right to judge another man, no matter how high or close to God he THINK he may be.

I have a wife that I am legally married to, as my gender has been legally changed. A woman who loves me explicitly, who has been in my corner from the day she first met me, who has my back in every way and who is proud to tell everyone I'm her man. I am blessed to have her in my life, and I'm thankful that this great woman has chosen me to partner with. She is definitely a priceless treasure to put up with me, and has also had her share of ridicule from others. But she's held her ground when it came to who I am as a person, and what we share as a couple, and people have finally accepted us and became an integral part of our lives. We moved from NY last October to start our lives together in a new place, free from old demons and ways of thinking and have thrived since we've been in our new place. God is blessing us beyond expectations, and we're so very grateful and thankful to him.
I worked and suffered hard to get to where I am now, and I don't want or need any drama in my life or my family life.

Kori Dade Wright

Thank you for allowing me freedom of speech

His story was chalked full of information check out his web sites for more information.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Remembering Aicha

Sometimes I change the rules in this space in order to send out an important story.
I want you to read this because the innocent suffer and at least in this space they will not go over looked.Where ever there is war there is pain unfortunately
it is the innocent who suffer the most.

GUINEA: Aboubacar Diallo,
CONAKRY, 16 February

“I buried my 7-year-old niece this morning”

Aboubacar Diallo says his seven-year-old niece, Aicha, was shot and killed by uniformed soldiers shooting randomly in the Taouyah suburb of Conakry on Wednesday night. The girl made it to hospital, but died because blood and medicines were not available. She was buried without a ceremony on Thursday morning.

Conakry and other towns have been under martial law since President Lansana Conte called in the army on Monday to end days of rioting and looting by youths demanding his resignation. Residents say the army is spreading terror by robbing and raping residents in the suburbs, and shooting in the air and at people.

“Last night after the start of the curfew at 8pm soldiers came into the district and started shooting into the air to warn people not to come out. They are doing that in all the areas where there was rioting before, shooting into the air to announce the start of the curfew.”

“One of the bullets came through the wall and hit Aicha, who was lying in her bed. The bullet hit her in the head.”

“She was unconscious and hemorrhaging blood and we knew she had to go to hospital.”

“When the shooting stopped, her father took her in his arms and went out into the street. It was deserted. He walked about half a kilometre to the main road and waited a long time until a private car with two soldiers passed and took them to the Donka hospital.”

“By the time they got to the hospital she was almost dead. The doctors there tried to help but they had no blood and no medicines. The bleeding could not be stopped and she passed away not long after they got there.”

“Today her father is so devastated he can’t speak. We can’t stop her mother crying. She is crying and crying.”

“God gave us Aicha and it’s him who took her back.”

“She was buried this morning at 11 am in the cemetery close to her home. Hardly anyone came because of the curfew. It was done very fast, without any honour.

Walk the walk

I posted this on another web site but felt it should also be posted here.I really don't plan to get off blog theme much but when a former NBA star and now commentator feels comfortable saying he hates gays on national radio with no out cry from black organization it became my duty to call them all out.


I'm just wondering about all those out there who are rebuking Hardaway for his statements.Who are you really, and does it feel good to point at someone else who was stupid enough to share his true feeling with the world despite being a public figure and even a role model to some.
I now know where Isaiah( I've already posted on greys anatomy) and Tim are coming from but the rest of the smile in your face people who's actions speak louder than their words scare me.I need to know who my enemies are as the saying goes "keep you friends close and enemies closer".
I see lip service being given the issue but who really cares strongly enough for black males in order to see where this open disstain comes from in that community.
The "f" and "n" words are tossed around with many meaning in black circles. In some sort of strange dysfunction negatives stand right next to positives like oil and vinegar mixing and then separating.While my personal convictions leave me not using either term I'm not naive enough to believe anything is going to change.In fact if I add bulldagger which has roots and strong ones in our village it can open a whole other can of worms.
So we can raise our kids to be tolerant of others but it is then their responsibility as grown men and women to embrace it or except other points of view.
Hatred is an evil word and an even worst place to reside. One can not love themselves if they hate others period.It is mentally unhealthy as energy wasted on negatives ruins your spirit and poisons your soul.Its a shame that Hardaway will found his pocket being lighter an incentive to apologize but this is a reality.I'll let him sort his own demons out as I have no need to judge him or the manhood he feels in need of protecting or proving.
What troubles me was I didn't see where the NAACP made any type of statement but just change his gay word to black and have a white guy saying it... Also where were members of the black church calling for him to be accountable for that type of lashing out.I'm not focusing on the black bashing media or anyone else for a reason.
Sakia gunn died in our community and a gay brother in Atlanta was beaten viciously at one of our HBCU's.The black church has been slow to embrace or acknowledge the multitude of glbt people within it ranks. It is that fear that has lead many a person especially black women into an aid crisis, because it was supposed to be gay punishment.As long as institutions in the community continue to ignore and not reach out to those of us in the community that
are deemed not truly afrocentric, I'm not holding Hardaway and Washington any more accountable than I do the rest of the grand standers. I will continue to call them all out 365 because I know if I don't, the feel gooders who ask where is the parenting or who has let this behavior continue might just keep missing the real issue.Which in my humble opinion is do you live the word or preach it,the legacy we leave for future generations are built on that foundation .

Friday, February 16, 2007

marquites cobbler

Monday, March 06, 2006 : Femmes have a responsibility to the community

I had to do a guest lecture for my public relations class this past Saturday. I'd known about it since last Saturday and had briefly put together how I would structure the lecture in my head. It was a simple task really but I had to ask myself if in doing my lecture about my event planning ventures if I would reveal the TYPE of events I put together. I questioned this because my teacher is African and I feared his particular cultural bias and my class just split up into groups and I questioned whether or not my group would respond to me differently if they knew I was gay.

I was scheduled to do this lecture next Saturday but my teacher asked me if I could just do it this past Saturday instead. Ummm, sure, I guess.

I'd already decided that I'd talk about the fact that I throw parties for women because I felt that it really was integral to my presentation and because I didn't feel right "passing". (For those of you not familiar with the term, "passing" is what it's called when fair skinned Black people "pass" for White). Last year at Sistahfest, the question was raised if being a femme was a modern-day form of "passing" and at the time I didn't have an opinion one way or the other but I felt that this was one of those moments when as a femme had an obligation to speak up.

I don't have very many femme friends so most of my conversations with gay women are with those women whose sexual orientation is announced everytime they enter a room. In talking with them, I realized that their business is on the table everytime they go to the bank, a restaurant, get a cab or simply put one foot in front of the other. For them, every interaction can turn into a question of who and what they are and why they are what they are. As a femme, I have very few such experiences because assumptios are made about me based on my high heels. I choose who to tell and when to tell them. I have the luxury of sitting a person down and revelaing what's what if I feel safe enough to do so. Many of my other sistahs do not have that same luxury.

So, my second day in class, in front of my African teacher and my entire public relations class, I had a decision to make. I could take the "it's nobody's business" route or I could be honest explaining that I started throwing parties because I was disappointed with the lack of social options for queer women of color. I could go on to talk about how I had to use my original motivation of wanting to unite a disenfranchised community when things got really complicated and daunting.


I could pretend that I was throwing events for a mixed crowd, leaving out key points and not entirely lie but tell an "untruth" just to get by.

So, I stood in front of these people and I said....

"In 2002, disappointed with the social options available for queer women of color, I decided to start a social, networking and activist organization for queer women of color..."

and they just blinked at me. In unison.

and then I got nervous because it was just out there but I continued on...and on..and on.

and they exhaled.

and they wow'd...and then they applauded.

And then they thanked me.

They asked lots of questions about what I was doing and they smiled at me with their eyes, genuine in their appreciation for lecture. The chick who sits in the front (who I KNEW was a dyke) asked for my website address and my African professor who said he called me a week early because he knew I'd set the bar high for the other guest lectures said that was he was genuinely impressed and asked me if I did any consulting.

Anyway, patting myself on the back aside, I would have felt like a traitor had I chickened out by "passing". I feel that if we as a community want to change how straight people look at us, we have to give them the opportunity to look at us, really look at us and see that we're in their classrooms, at their jobs and approving their loans. We come in a variety of shapes and sizes, in Tims and high heels, long hair and short.

Have you told anyone you're a dyke today?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Michelle Billingsley

Michelle Billingsley is a young artist on the rise who produces a weekly cartoon strip entitled Joe and just who is this kid I asked.
" JOE! (the self-title character, whom the story centers around) is a sarcastic and mischievous 10-year-old, known among his loved ones for being the lil' brat in their lives. Whether he's with family, friends, or at school, Joe frequently finds his way into trouble. He usually has a smart-aleck response to get him back out of it, but that doesn't always work. This kid is definitely the poster child of punishment."
She adds "So far, my comic is inspired by true stories. My family and friends are hilarious. There's not a day that goes by that something funny hasn't happened."

So I asked her how she became interested in cartooning. "There was local television minishow called the "Fox Kids Club." Kids would submit drawings of cartoon characters, and win a gift. Everyweek there was a winner, so, I wanted in on it. There were a few times that I actually won, and I never made it to the station to claim my prize. I use to draw every character that appeared on Darkwing Duck. I recorded the show just to press the "pause" button to draw them. That's when I knew I was interested in cartooning. I've been drawing for 20 years now (man, I seem old), and I'm only 26. The internet is my teacher.There are some fine tutorials on the world wide web, and if it wasn't for them, my art would have never improved.Eventually, my work will only get better."
While she gives praises to her mother who also has artistic talent,she names one of her big influences as Lynn Johnson the creator of the cartoon "For Better or For Worse". She says "I've enjoyed reading her comic for the past 16 years. Words can't describe how much this woman inspires me.If I can obtain any amount of success with my strip, she will be the second person I would thank. Gotta put God first, ya know?
The comic isn't my only project, but it is the only one that I'm consistent with. I've written about 5 books, and one screenplay (believe it or not). I think the screenplay is cheesy, and no one will ever see it for as long as I shall live. I'm also in the process of writing 2 graphic novels, although, I don't know if I want to handle the art.It's too much.If you're wondering have I ever been published, I haven't."
I don't doubt that Michelle will find continued success in her endeavors.Now for those of you who are interested in art but have not pursued it,she says "The ability to draw is one of the most beautiful,God-giving talents.Don't waste what the man upstairs has blessed you with. You have it for a reason!"

As a person who doesn't read comics often I found myself taking notice of her other characters.She does an excellent job of incorporating the parents into the script.Joe is the third of four children, he has an older sister and brother as well as a baby sister.All have had strips written from their point of view.This work reminds me of a black "Family Circus" only updated for our times. Check out her site for yourself.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

"May I always strive to be the person my dogs think I am"

Brenda Crawford is a woman on a mission.She is one in a small but growing circle of animal rescuers.Every year thousands of perfectly healthy dogs are euthanized because their owners were either to lazy to research and inform themselves about the traits of the bred of their new cute puppy before buying it.Worst some just plain mistreat innocent animals.This is her story of love.

My name is Brenda Crawford and I turned sixty on Christmas Eve. I am looking forward to as one of the women at a local senior center in Oakland describes it as "the Second Spring" of my life. About a year ago I started working with a Terrier group.I am now a volunteer with Ratbone Rescue which is an organization that rescues Rat Terrier. This organization is made up of people who are dedicated to the breed and work to provide loving homes for dogs who have been neglected and abused.
I love the breed and I have rescued two.I recently got into agility training for my two adorable Rat Terriers.You get a physical workout designed to keep you healthy as you age..You can't beat it..best deal in town!!!
They are a source of unconditional love and Joy and in the top ten breeds in terms of their intellect. They are incredible smart and easy to train. They make wonderful fly ball, agility or just chasing a ball in the back yard or park dogs. Please think about adopting or fostering one of these wonderful little creatures.
Dogs are the greatest source of unconditional love known to human kind...If I had my way I would have people licensed, which means you would have to prove your worthiness in order to have one of these magnificent creatures in your life.
In my forty years of being an activists I have never done work that brings me the kind of joy that working with dogs does. There is nothing to compare with nursing a sick, abuse or abandon dog back to health and watching him/her become carefree as they run and play.
I ran across this poem recently which describes why I do this work and how important it is to get others involved. There are not a lot of black women or black folks in general who do this. In fact when I go to my rescue meeting I am often times the only black person in the room. However, the thrill and joy of giving an abandon and often abuse dog a second chance at happiness is one of the greatest joys that the universe provides for all of us.It's a shame that more people do not take advantage of it.Please consider adoptions or becoming a foster parent. These dogs are incredibly loving and intelligent creatures.I know some of you sisters have a lot of love to offer one of these magnificent little dogs (average weight is eighteen pounds).

My Foster Dog

My foster dog stinks to high heaven.
I don't know for sure what breed he is.
His eyes are blank and hard.
He won't let me pet him and growls when I reach for him.

He has ragged scars and crusty sores on his skin.
His nails are long and his teeth, which he showed me, are stained.
I sigh. I drove two hours for this.

I carefully maneuver him so that I can stuff him in the crate.
Then I heft the crate and put it in the car.
I am going home with my new foster dog.

At home I leave him in the crate till all the other dogs are in the yard.
I get him out of the crate and ask him if he wants "outside."
As I lead him to the door he hikes his leg on the wall and shows me his stained teeth again.

When we come in, he goes to the crate because that's the only safe place he sees.
I offer him food but he won't eat it if I look at him, so I turn my back.
When I come back, the food is gone.

I ask again about "outside."
When we come back, I pat him before I let him in the crate,The joy of not being in the tub and the joy of being clean.

I, the bath giver, am allowed to share the joy.
He comes to me and lets me pet him.

One week later I have a vet bill.
His skin is healing. He likes for me to pet him. I think.
I know what color he will be when his hair grows in.

I have found out he is terrified of other dogs.
So I carefully introduce him to my mildest four-legged brat.
It doesn't go well.

Two weeks later a new vet bill for an infection that was missed on the first visit.
He plays with the other dogs.

Three weeks later his coat shines, he has gained weight.
He shows his clean teeth when his tongue lolls out
after he plays chase in the yard with the gang.

His eyes are soft and filled with life.
He loves hugs and likes to show off his tricks, if you have the cheese.

Someone called today and asked about him,
they saw the picture I took the first week.
They asked about his personality, his history, his breed.
They asked if he was pretty. I asked them lots of questions.

I checked up on them.
I prayed.
I said yes.

When they saw him the first time they said
he was the most beautiful dog they had ever seen.

Six months later, I got a call from his new family.
He is wonderful, smart, well behaved, and very loving.

How could someone not want him?
I told them I didn't know.
He is beautiful.
They all are.

Take care.

Letter to brothers like YOU

A few weeks ago I stopped at a flea market to have some artwork done.The artist was a young black man who told me he wanted to know my vision of what my company was about in order to create a piece of work that would suit me.As we talked the conversation changed from my business project to our lives.Here was a man,a black man telling me about the error of his ways,the bad things that happened in his marriages while uplifting his faith and current wife.He did this without putting down his ex's in a demeaning way. I shared with him as well and then he asked THE question.
Why I had not given up on black men. I answered with my lifes resounding truth.I have had powerful role models and once you see with your own eyes and experience deep within your heart true black love no scandal can steal your feelings of love for a righteous black man.This poem is dedicated to the brothers out there that are stand up guys true to the the definition of a real man.

I don't have to fall in love with a black man to love my brothers.
A man that can see a woman for who she is not what he wishes her to be has self love.
It takes a village of season men and women to raise our future I admire the men DOING THEIR PART.

I will not condone those that dwell in the house of negative behavior but,
I'm calling you out to stand and contribute to a cause greater than yourself.
I have no desires to condemn all men of African decent,I'm saving energy for the POSITIVE ONES.

I'd like to raise my son to be a man of courage and conviction
Respectful of black woman other than his mother and all women in general.
I don't want him holding sisters to a greater standard than other woman
I pray he finds the one women who he can grow and raise a family with
regardless of who she is or where she came from.

For those black men that can see the beauty and struggle of a sister I love you back.
You know when no one else has your back a black woman will be there for you period
A real man understands a sisters strength is a compliment not a draining force.
He wraps himself around it making the bond stronger because nothing is sweeter than,

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Liberia)

I have been thinking about what Oprah said concerning educating young women to become future leaders in Africa.My thoughts turn in particular to Liberia because after all it is the most Americanized of all countries on the continent.I do not mean this in a good way either.
Liberia has a checkered past that makes me uncomfortable.First the effect of American blacks coming back to Africa and virtually taking over a land where native people were squeezed out, troubles me.One wonders what the area would be like today if they had not settled there.I do know that without ties to the states the chances of recovery would be slim. Still,America never stepped in to help the country in ways that would benefit it before,or during the war and the jury remains out now.So maybe The president should have gotten done away with that American style flag and found something more inclusive like South Africa did but she is a member of that very class of people who are descendants of the freed slaves and at the moment she has more pressing issues.
Just before she took office mama Ellen as some of the people call her made the statement
"Just my own performance … is going to raise the participation of women not just in Liberia but also in Africa. It's a big challenge but I'm looking forward to it."

On a web site about the country I also found this tidbit:
"Liberia, a resource-rich West African country of about 3.3 million people, is struggling to recover from a civil war that left around 250,000 dead, an estimated 40 percent of the women and girls raped and forced more than half the population from their homes."
In her inaugural speech the mentioned some priorities concerning these very traumatized women."The administration must endeavour to give Liberian women prominence in all affairs of our country. We will empower all Liberian women in all aspects of our national life. We will support and increase the weight of law... and deal drastically with crimes that dehumanize. We will enforce without fear of failure the laws against rape easily passed by the national assembly. We will encourage all families to educate all children especially the girls."

This will be tough because right now the schools,at least the few that are open are over crowded.They could use every kind of supply and they need teachers most that could are not even in the country.In addition i read only twenty five percent of the country is literate thanks to years of war and people being misplaced.All this ads up to a daunting task but the Harvard educated "first lady"should have some contacts and be able to call in some corporate help.During the war over 100,000 Liberians of "American decent" migrated back to the states.It is said that the money they send home is invaluable to economic growth.
Now consider that last week the Chinese blew in to town and next week G W is supposed to be there.China is looking out for it's own interest and in Liberia it is blamed for exploitation of workers no surprise since they do the same to their own people too.Now do we even want to know what junior Bush will do to help.While economic resurgence is needed to fuel growth and get her country back on track ethnic turf wars could be heating up as people begin leaving refugee camps and returning to the country.Juggling that mess is going to have to be done first or all else will fail.
I will be watching to see how she handles it and to see if, indeed we educate young women will the pull of power and money derail their priorities like their male counter parts. How will she pull her country up by the boot straps and do so without favoring one ethnic sect over another on the road to forming a better country.I guess they really are a baby America,question is can they over come it.

Chisholm and Me Unbought and Unbossed

Recently a black man Obama and a white woman Hillary Clinton cast themselves into the presidential race.It is only fitting after all is this not America,yet the moment it became clear to me that both would run I thought of just one person,Shirley Chisolm who said:
"I ran for the Presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo. "The next time a woman runs, or a black, a Jew or anyone from a group that the country is not ready to elect to its highest office, I believe that he or she will be taken seriously from the start." from her book the good fight.
I picked up several quotes she made in AP articles and they just seem to fit times we are in now.I tend to love her spunk and willingness to step out on the limb for what she believed right.
Chisholm went to Congress to represent New York in the same year Richard Nixon was elected to the White House and served until retiring in 1983. "She was an activist and she never stopped fighting," Jackson told The Associated Press from Ohio. "She refused to accept the ordinary, and she had high expectations for herself and all people around her."
Newly elected, she was assigned to the House Agriculture Committee, which she felt was irrelevant to her urban constituency. In an unheard of move, she demanded reassignment and got switched to the Veterans Affairs Committee.
Not long afterward she voted for Hale Boggs, who was white, over John Conyers, who was black, for majority leader. Boggs rewarded her with a place on the prized Education and Labor Committee and she was its third ranking member when she left.
"My greatest political asset, which professional politicians fear, is my mouth, out of which come all kinds of things one shouldn't always discuss for reasons of political expediency," she told voters.
During her failed presidential bid, Chisholm went to the hospital to visit George Wallace, her rival candidate and ideological opposite, after he has been shot — an act that appalled her followers.
"He said, `What are your people going to say?´ I said: `I know what they´re going to say. But I wouldn´t want what happened to you to happen to anyone.´ He cried and cried," she recalled.
And when she needed support to extend the minimum wage to domestic workers two years later, it was Wallace who got her the votes from Southern members of Congress.
"She was our Moses that opened the Red Sea for us," said Robert E. Williams, president of Flagler County's branch of the National Associated for the Advancement of Colored People.
In her book, "Unbought and Unbossed," she recounted the campaign that brought her to Congress and wrote of her concerns about that body:
"Our representative democracy is not working because the Congress that is supposed to represent the voters does not respond to their needs. I believe the chief reason for this is that it is ruled by a small group of old men."
Chisholm's leadership traits were recognized by her parents early on. Born Shirley St. Hill in New York City, on Nov. 30, 1924, she was the eldest of four daughters of Caribbean immigrants.
She began her professional career as a nursery school teacher, eventually becoming director of a day care center, and later serving as an educational consultant with the city's child care department. She became active in local Democratic politics and ran successfully for the state Assembly in 1964.
She bested James Farmer, the former national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, to gain the House seat in 1968.
"I am the people's politician," she said at the time. "If the day should ever come when the people can't save me, I'll know I'm finished."
After leaving Congress, Chisholm was named to the Purington Chair at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., where she taught for four years. In later years she was a sought-after speaker on the lecture circuit.
"Whether you agree with her politics or not, she had a moral compass," said Shola Lynch, director of "Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed," a documentary on her presidential campaign. "Why I was attracted to her story was because in some ways she's an average American woman who evolved into a a strong and courageous politician."
Chisholm was married twice. Her 1949 marriage to Conrad Chisholm ended in divorce in February, 1977. Later that year she wed Arthur Hardwick, Jr., who died in 1986. She had no children.
"She was a mouthpiece for the underdog, the poor, underprivileged people, the people who did not have much of a chance," 88-year-old Conrad Chisholm told the AP early Monday from West Palm Beach.
Once discussing what her legacy might be, Shirley Chisholm commented, "I'd like them to say that Shirley Chisholm had guts. That's how I'd like to be remembered"

During her time in office she spoke up on womens issues and spoke out about vietnam
and she was always articulate when she did.No wonder I identify with her I realized that speaking my mind and wanting to know what is on others mind is good medicine.
I now resolve to continue my journey here in what I hope will become my own little think tank.Perhaps my lazy behinds will proof read my text more too.I often try to get thoughts to paper before they are lost.In the process I've seen "genius" slip from my grasp whole losing various lines.Yet I know if only half of my visions make it from my mind to text form it will have been worth the war I fought to get them there.I marvel at those able to write so smoothly their audiences hang on every word.
That's not me and I'm not going to try,I only strive to share with others in hopes of growth.Which is why I tell people I once heard a woman give a speach that made me take notice.I listened to her like so many black women that raised my awareness at the time Barbra Jordon, Angela Davis,Nina Simone to name just a few.From them I learned a voice is solitary as in rises up but when it echos a song in unison with others thoughts,it becomes magic.
That woman was Shirley Chisholm the first black woman elected to Congress in 1969 in which she spent seven years and was a founding member of the congressional black cuacus. She was also the first black person to seek a major party's nomination for the U.S. presidency. Before you could have a Condaleeza Rice you had to have a Shirley Chisolm and a few other black women politcal pioneers. The Rev. Jesse Jackson called her a "woman of great courage."
Losing folks in the community like Shirley make me more determined to keep my struggles on page one.This woman has passed the candle to the next generation to keep burning strong and I'd like to take her up on the honor by holding up my part of the light that needs to be shinned on our work at hand.Sometimes the walk is a lonely one but at least the path has already been worn.The only other question I ask myself is how long do I walk before it's time to forge another road to connect to the highway.Today I can answer the byway starts here and now.I thank all who came before me they have made my journey a bit easier.


Friday, February 9, 2007

In Praise of Black Men

The piece was originally published in the Nov. 6, 2002 issue of the Famuan, which is the campus newspaper of Florida A&M University.Reprinted with permission from the author.

In Praise of Black Men
By Rahkia Nance

Black men.

You are the most loved, most beloved, most hated, most emulated, most feared, most revered creatures on the face of this earth.

And I love you for it. If anyone hasn't told you lately, then let me say it.

This message probably doesn't conform to what mainstream media is spewing. I'm not bitter.

I'm not complaining. I'm not pointing fingers.

I'm celebrating the black man -- the beautiful . . . most deserving of respect and adulation.

For me to say I hate you is to hate a part of myself. It's because of a black man that I am a black woman celebrating her 20th birthday.

You can't tell me that a black man isn't a gem.

(And it's no coincidence that you come from the same continent that produces diamonds.)

There's no need to look far for riches. It's found in your self-reliance. Your strength. Your creativity. Your individuality. Your style.

Don't be discouraged by the negative images, instead be inspired and proud of the rich foundation laid by the great black men throughout history. Let them be your light.

I'm talking about the Nat Turners and Gabriel Prossers, with their bravery and unwillingness to relent to oppression.

The Huey Newtons and Bobby Seales, the men who recognized the beauty of the black race and demanded respect when and where it was due.

The Joe Louises and the Jackie Robinsons, princes of athleticism and pioneers of their race.

The Langston Hugheses and Ralph Ellisons, visionaries blessed with the ability to create magic with a pen.

The Charles Drews and Benjamin Carsons, doctors whose work remedied ill-conceived perceptions of blacks.

The Duke Ellingtons and Stevie Wonders, who created the soundtracks for an entire culture, the Jan Matzeligers and Garrett Morgans, who changed life as we know it with their revolutionary inventions.

The Matthew Hensons and Estevanicos, foraging into lands unknown, broadening our world perspective.

The Scott Joplins and Chuck Browns, taking a beat and inventing a phenomenon.

The Booker T. Washingtons and Alain Lockes, advocates for using education as a ladder to equality and success.

From the lauded and applauded to the unsung and forgotten, I stand

Don't carry being a black man as a burden, but as a badge of honor. Let your words be formed from intelligence, not arrogance.

Let reason govern your actions, not pride. Be steadfast and earnest in all that you do.

You have standards to uphold and precedents to set. You have a charge to keep as black men.

Rahkia Nance, 20, is a junior newspaper journalism student at Florida A&M University from Herndon, Va. She is The Famuan's deputy copy desk chief and can be reached at Petite8228@aol.com.

Copyright © 2007 Black College Wire.
Black College Wire is a project of the Black College Communication Association
and has partnerships with The National Association of Black Journalists and the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Comments?

Big Mama Thorton

I love the blues and one of my favorite artist has to be big mama Thorton.She wasn't always on the hefty side but she was six foot two and mama had good pipes too. I don't know much about her history except she always said she was cheated out of royalties for writing hound dog.Although two white boys claimed they wrote it I believe mama,that song was written in a black lingo whites didn't even understand or speak back then.Its hard for me to believe that a male would even come up with a song like that let alone white boys of the fifties era. So my tribute to mama in pictures stays here.We need to honor more of our female innovators of the blues.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Draft,Spell Check and Saving Face

Well we are all allowed the occasional bad day but when it happens for all the world to see it can be embarrassing.I was trying to sort out stories for black history month to post when I decided to take a break.That's when my new hobby of reading blogs to get a feel for where my peoples interest are at the moment got the best of me.
So I broke my golden rule and started responding on a few. Big mistake,the one thing I know about myself is that if I have been reading anything for awhile my ability to proof read goes out the door.So let me tell you the horror I felt when I did proof read right over some big time spelling mistakes. These were words I know how to spell too not unfamiliar territory.So all I can do is hold my head down in shame and restrain from ever posting anywhere again in life.Even on my own blog I will write a piece of work and set it in the draft column so I can scan it the next day and then post.I'm one of those people who become to close to their words and have to step back and reread after a long break.Anything else will have way to many mistakes in it that I will not notice.Hence today sails words to the world show a sister that didn't check her work and has disgraced her whole family.I know it's wrong but I hope those blog post disappear into blog heaven. Shame on my sorry self when the dictionary is always right by my side!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Oprah's School in South Africa

I was reading another blog and tried to post but blogger was not allowing me to.
So I post here my response to Oprah and her new school.

I am about a stronger African diaspora period.Europe has raped the mother continent for so long it has become a wealthy dependant of the world.Where else are there so many natural resources, wealth and beauty over ridden by even worst poverty and hardship in places.

Liberia is a good example,the country where former slaves were sent only to end up in a civil war with "natives" over who should be ruling.Wait they now have a Harvard educated WOMAN trying to lead the country back. That is the power of educating young women,they will grow to be the keepers in their native lands.Most are not going to be in politics but womanist concerns are about families and strong countries need to be concerned with social and economic issues. It's not so much the Iron ladies Ivy league sheep skin but the fact that she has the tools and contacts to make a difference.I will be watching this as I expect not only for the Oprahs of the world to help rebuild but the me's of the black diaspora to stop "wolfin and do something to contribute.
So I wonder about the evil spirits trying to pull down Oprah for reaching beyond borders.It's no secret she has contributed to black schools both in private and public.I'm aware that quotes can be broken down and repackaged any way the media likes,and frankly this sister is not offended by Oprah's words or actions.How many black millionaires are living in America and what are they doing for their OWN people, our future generation to be more specific? It's always some person in the community without much trying to start some program or activity for the kids and even that is fading in some areas.
Lets call out the rappers sending negative images to the world about blackness and then turning around and throwing hush money at the community. Let's add mothers who turn the other way when their grammar school drop out kids start rolling in big bucks of which they made from do what? Let's call out the baller culture of get rich on the field or court.Lets praise our high achievers and demand they help mentor some of their peers who are struggling academically in exchange for scholarships. While I'm on the soap box how about we say to Oprah,job well done how about an exchange program with some of our private black schools.In other words I'm trying to see the possibilities.Most importantly at the end of the day I like what blackamazon's author said:

"she looks happy in the way that very few People and even less sisters get to look . The happy that happens when you don't have to ask nobody about how you are supposed to do things."

We have to be proactive in leaving a legacy for our kids and that means all of us and anywhere or way we are able to do it.

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Saturday, February 3, 2007

Why DO we still need black history month

A picture on Tarleton state admission page.Is it me or does that sister need to try and make some new friends.Of course her other option might have been to hang out with fellow student Aunt Jasnowflake above.

As we make our way to another black history month my mind is still lingering on incidents that happened on Martin Luther King day.It seems more than one group of whites on college campuses have been holding parties where they put on black face and or dressing up as caricatures right out of the jim Crow south. Now one group had the nerve to be law students at UConn,future district attorneys I presume. So I want to post these pictures not because they are worthy of this space but because they are the reason this blog exist.Ignorance is alive and well and living in the heart and soul of white America.Even more sadly the slave mentality is still embedded in many negroes who have stood up for their white friends who "they knowz aint means no harm".They all need a pot of American history xyz to stick to their ribs.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Grocery Day (short poetry fiction)

On occasion I dabble in fiction and usually it is not that exciting but hey this is a blog were else should I post my creative flows.I think I'll post fiction and poetry more often.I might as well add my own stories to the mix.

Morgan McWilliams and I have been friends for twenty years and over one hundred barbecues.

Time has flown by so quickly since the day we met in the meat section of Food A Rama.

That was the year I found my prize winning roast, yet to hear her tell the story I stole it.

I recall spotting that particular piece of meat laying in the bin slightly peering out at me.

It was underneath a couple of fat laden rewrapped excuses for fresh quality pork.

I scooped it up and into my cart before she even made it out of the poultry section.

Of course after the fact, miss eagle eyes came running over to view what was in my basket.
Then she had the nerve to get in line behind me,I had to find out who this noisy body was.

We started chatting,in five minutes we shared our love of cooking and similar sense of humor

Today I'm back in the same market, for the same reason, well almost.
It's smaller than I remember,the grey speckled pattern floors look old too.
At least they are clean, after all who wants to sort through dirt to find loose change.
Yes that is exactly why they put that design in here, they want their sale money back.
The minute you reach in your pocket and a dime drops a silent alarm goes off in the back.
A guy with a extra long dust mop comes out during store hours to claim these little offerings.
They could clean the floor at closing like the other chains do but customers might slip on silver. If that happened prices would go up higher than they already are in this little dinky place.
That's not why I'm here though, I'm searching for another little beauty to grill on Labor day.

I can still recall the best ever plate of swine I have had, it was in September at Morgan's.
Labor day she invited to me her house for the traditional last cookout of the year.
Front and center on the table was a beautiful piece of grilled pork, picture perfect.
Never have I tasted a piece of meat as tender and flavorful, I had to know the recipe.
She smiled and said "I would give it to you but I've suddenly developed culinary amnesia".
We laughed, I figured she would take that secret to her grave and she did so I thought.

I found it neatly written in between the creases of my birthday card,the last one she sent me. Two years, that's how long it took to discover the hidden message, girlfriend tricked me again!
I was on a budget that year having just sent my only clone off to college leaving moi in a funk. One year older and an empty nester at that the note said,it also had a gift card from Shelley's.
It fell in my purse immediately, I didn't even call her up. Instead I rushed to Shelley's boutique. What woman wouldn't like to treat herself to bath oils, soaps, chocolates and spices in a crisis. She knew I had not pampered myself in years, not since my divorce and that food was my joy.
I needed those things to get me through the insane world I found myself working in at the time.

I forgot to tell y'all I'm a pack rat,everyone knows it,I no longer deny the fact, it's pointless.
I managed to hold on to everything from the day I was born, at least it appears that way.
When Morgan passed I went back over every note,picture and card she ever sent me.
That's how I found it,Baby sis surely did get me good on that one.I can see her smiling now.
I was one month older than her but to me she was the wiser elder and a good listener.
Somehow she knew my heart stories, as I tried to sugar coat them with verbal reconstruction.

That's why I drove back across town to the old neighborhood to grocery shop.
Driving down University Ave was the only familiar left on that side of the city for me.
I wanted to go back home and walk into the memories I left behind so long ago .
We were two young sisters living a block apart.I was raising my child alone,she was all alone.
I found a built in baby sitter and she found a new extended family all was perfect.
Still holds so many memories most have faded but a few are still as clear as a Autumn day.

My cart had to be as old as the store and of course I found the one with a broken wheel.
The section for meats had more factory packaged butts than nicely trimmed butchered cuts.
Still I managed to find a nice shoulder at a decent price eighty nine cents a pound not bad at all.
My daughter the wonder lust child was coming home and I wanted to prepare aunties roast.
Never mind the child gave up meat years ago but conveniently forgets when I grill a shoulder.
We sat and talked that night a deep mother daughter exchange full of love and life tales.
It felt like she was there with us, as we cleared the table and our hearts I thought of the future.

I said a silent prayer for the both of us that we may both continue our journey in light.
My wish for my child included spiritual wealth,to be able to live a life of substance.
Her world should be balanced with enough joy to overcome any sorrow in it's many forms.
If she chooses to raise a family that she stays open to learning what must be passed on.
I hoped too she experiences the joy of unconditional friendship the core of true sisterhood.
I found that many years ago and I haven't stopped growing since .