WE ARE: 5 women navigating our twenties in search of peace, happiness and love (or not). WE WRITE: about everything and nothing. From the insane to the mundane- you will find different paths taken, lessons learned and lives lived. WE THINK: you’ll enjoy it...Warning: Consumption of these views may leave you enlightened while intoxicated.


The View From Here will conclude on Friday, October 1, our third year anniversary. We would like to spend this month thanking all of our readers, followers, haters, visitors, family, friends, and fans for your continued support, encouragement, and comments over these past few years. Thanks y'all!
-The Five Spot

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Revolution Will Be Styled

Remember when a certain kind of man wore locs? Think about it. What kind of man are you visualizing? The one I am picturing usually bought oil from the incense corner man, was a poetry reading regular where he recited verses about the forthcoming revolution and was regarded as "deep", a walking encyclopedia of the history of the African Diaspora.

I remember a time when a woman would describe a man she had just met and after giving the particulars: height, weight and skin shade, she would say in a hushed tone, "girl, and he has locs..." Like that was icing on the mothafuckin cake! Like that meant he had memorized the entire kama sutra and would have your legs quivering, that is after he made love to your mind first (of course). It seemed that if you were a man and you had locs, there was a good chance you could get a woman who just “couldn’t help herself around a brotha with locs” to drop her draws.
Well it seems those days are a'changin...

Because now I see nothing but (and excuse my stereotyping) lil' hood niglets wearing what appear to be haphazard locs, thanks to their biggest heroes, Lil' Wayne and Co.

I know you've seen them in your city, on your train and on the block. And um yeah, it's becoming an epidemic and it concerns me. Now I obviously can't tell someone what they can or can't do with their hair but I was under the impression that deciding to grow locs was not something you entered upon lightly. You know, it was something you consulted the Heavens and the Earth about first, lit a candle, did a little loc growing chant. You did your research on starting & caring for your new coiff and worried about how you would look in that 'in between' phase. Now it seems that you just have to ask the girl in your neighborhood who can do some hair to start locing you up. And now I find myself questioning these youngins’ “authenticity”, wondering if they know the history of dreadlocks, the strength that is their hair, saying to myself: oh they have dreads but they don’t have locs. Catch my drift?

So now with the niglets taking up the loc craze, it seems that many men I know have cut theirs (also something you don't do lightly)...Is it because the trend is changing? Are these men who were once regarded as "deep" fearful that they won't be taken seriously because now they will look like and be associated with the ‘Snap your fingers, do your step’ generation? And how will we know who the "deep" brothers are once they've cut their locs? Should we be on the hunt for some type of RBG clothing item?

Perhaps the locs of the earlier generation was just a trend as well, cloaked in incense, bad poetry and weed smoke and we just couldn’t see through the haze. But it was a trend nonetheless, reserved for a certain type of man. I mean if those men were really down and ready to start a revolution; wouldn’t it have happened by now? And just because these new crop of youngins’ have provided a different version of the trend, does that mean they won’t be just as down when the revolution comes?

So just when I’m ready to write these lil’ niglets off for just substituting the cornrow trend with locs, I think of the following words from the great Andre 3000:
Now question is every nigga with dreads for the cause?

Is every nigga with golds for the fall?
Naw, so don't get caught in appearance
It's Rum Punch Friday another Black experience*

Happy Rum Punch Friday! Have a great weekend! Join us again on Monday…

* Yeah I changed that last line. What are y’all going to do, tell Andre?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

what are we here for?

This guy has been on my mind all week, not in some weird stalkerish way and not because he did anything particularly groundbreaking this week, although in a sense, he does something groundbreaking every week. I tried to post about love/relationships, the confusing twenties or even how much I hate my job but I just kept coming back to him … Bryan Stevenson. This weekend, during one of my monthly visits back home I was perusing my mail (yes, it still gets sent to my mama house…I can’t let go). Anyway, as I laid aside another student loan bill *sigh*... there he was...on the cover of my alumni magazine and I smiled, excitedly thinking, it’s Bsteve! That’s what we called him. We meaning the small cadre of liberal ladies with whom I hung out during law school. We gushed and smiled during his death penalty class, amazed at this man who seemed to us to be the most wonderful person on earth but also the most perplexing. Here was a relatively young (and handsome!) single black man who had dedicated his life to representing those without a voice, expressing dedication on the level of God-like sacrifice. Truly, if Jesus walks among us, Prof. Stevenson could surely be Him!

There were no signs of a wife or a family or even the semblance of a personal life. He shuttled weekly to the city to teach several classes at the law school and then back again to Montgomery, Alabama to oversee the organization he had built from the ground-up. He is profound and thoughtful while also remaining down to earth and approachable….he even plays in the faculty basketball game each year.

As I paged through the article on the plane ride back to my life as it now exists, his eloquence in discussing his life commitment to helping exonerate those condemned to death as well as righting the wrongs within our criminal (in)justice system made me began to wonder, what had happened to me….where was the girl who had avoided tax law and corporations courses like the plague, who was all over any thing criminal or civil rights-oriented, who had written her personal statement about starting her own organization to help educate “her people” so that they would be better able to confront the man, the system, the popos! Where was she? I suddenly got angry at myself for having forgotten her, letting the slightly lazy, shopaholic, worried-about-student-loans me sweep us into the corporate machine.

Of course, this life, my life is not so black and white: I can’t just leave my job today and take a vow of poverty a la BSteve. Like I could really live off only $18K a year while turning over the rest of the offered $50K salary to charity. The student loan man (in my mind, it's always a sour-faced old White man sitting on stacks of my money, collecting more each month) is not gonna let me forgo these monthly payments simply because I now want to change course. And I surely couldn’t relinquish my desire for a husband and children, traveling, and just doing something frivolous every once in a while. Somehow, I don’t think that’s in my nature. But still, even given these considerations, it’s hard to read the story of Prof. Stevenson and not question oneself, his life being a sort of quiet indictment of the way in which I, and young (Black) lawyers generally, can go about the business of mind-numbing doc review and attempts to help corporation X avoid big bad lawsuit Y for 60-80 hours per week without seeing his sacrifice and feeling a little guilty. Especially for someone like me who has dreams of doing such things, took classes to help prepare me for the work and yet am now so far from it. As my grandmama says, if you know better, why don’t you do better? Or better yet, what am I here for?

That’s why I’ve been thinking about this man all week. And I hope that after reading this post and this piece, you will think on him a little bit in the coming week as well and ask yourself these same questions.

“The real question isn’t whether some people deserve to die for crimes they may have committed. The real question is whether a state such as Alabama, with its racist legacy and error plagued system of justice, deserves to kill.”

Bryan Stevenson, as told to Paul Barrett, “Bryan Stevenson’s Death-Defying Acts,”
The Law School Magazine, August 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Whose America?

Well hello folks!!
This week has definitely been interesting thus far, not to say the least -- summer like temperatures in October -- you get my drift . . . Ok, back to my blog, the Washington Post featured an intriguing op-ed piece. So, intriguing that I decided to postpone my original blog for later . . .

In Which Black America, Eugene Robinson introduces dialogue on how mainstream America has defined black America's existence and black America's degree of agreement/disagreement. Wonderful story --- why you might ask, because he explores the current evolution of black America. Some people get it and some people don't, but I'm here to help you out. Black America has a middle class, a considerable population -- although I must add this view is relative (in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago there's an abundancy), in Tuscon, Denver, and Walla Walla we're more like anomalies. Yet, even with our presence in certain metropolis black folks are still a periphereal presence for mainstream America.

Let me expound, sure mainstream America sees you at work, but after work and on the weekends, they can not detect your presence. Black folks don't attend their church, their kids don't attend the same schools (even if your kids attend the same schools after the last bell those kids won't see each other until Monday), nor do they live in your neighborhood. . . and if black folks live in mainstream America they're the only family that lives in there neighborhood, furthermore they are the only reminder on Main Street. . . Yet, mainstream America refuses to acknowledge the presence of that America (the rare population of affluent blacks -- i.e. C-suite titleholders-- are anomaly for mainstream America and black America in general no need to discuss this population for purposes of this blog -- by no means does my omission negate their significance).

Mainstream America is obsessed with Nothing is More American -- please read, courtesy of Amaretto -- and the black America that they heard of or observe from afar lives in the (1) "ghetto", (2) "sketchy" neighborhoods on their eve of gentrification, (3) inner-city, (4) or in the suburb -- but it's the suburb on the other side of town that you have to pass the enumerated neighborhoods to get there, so with that being said they've never been there or lived there, unless of course their situation is ideal to #2.

So, what have you noticed, that this America and mainstream America are co-existing, but mainstream America prefers the fixation on their America. Read the former sentence thrice. Mainstream America is used to the role or lack of role black America has played in their psyche. . . Ahh. . . but Mr. Robinson is genius because he highlights a series of events that coerce you to think about mainstream's America "reality" -- it ain't that real. The current black middle class which has a direct relationship to the strides made in post-Civil rights America, is very active and opiniated (that doesn't mean all blacks espouse the same opinions) so much so that when certain events surfaced that are very characteristic of pre-Civil rights America, black America refused to be silent and voiced their concerns. Which just goes to show that maybe the roads leading to Main Street are a lil' too narrow to accomodate America, but the great architects created the roads that way.



Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Nothing is More American

America. Home of the brave, the land of the free, a country of opportunity. When most think of America they have visions of communities. These neighborhoods have homes surrounded by white picket fences and children merrily playing on green lush lawns. There are apple pies cooling on window sills. For many this is the American dream. I too agree that this is a dream-for this image is not a true depiction of the country I live in. When I think about this image it is blond haired children that I see in those fenced in yards. Where are the people of color? In this American dream why have I been excluded?

It's sad that in 2007 there is still an epidemic in this country. For years we have been told that this ailment was cured by the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. Legislature was passed to allow us to go to the same schools. Places boast of equal housing and employment opportunities on their placards. Today we can turn on the television and see that the black faces are no longer the maids or the butlers. Now we are the wise cracking sidekicks, giving sage advice wrapped up in witty attitude to help our white buddies. But here lately the media has been reporting what most Black Americans have always known to be true-that as a nation we're still sick.

I have never had a cross burning in my yard and no one has ever called me the n-word to my face, but I have seen the faces of my Anglo co-workers. Its hard for some of them to mask their surprise when I tell them that I don't have any children or that I do not live in the predominately black side of town. There are preconceived ideas in their heads that I shouldn't know as much as I know or speak as well as I do. But I am not surprised by this. When I was 10 the white father of my twin best friends told me that my family and I were different from the rest of them. I didn't realize at the time that this was a WTF moment. That this comment was his stamp of approval for me to play with his precious children. That had I been like the rest of "them" I would not have been allowed to share giggles with his girls about which boys we thought were the cutest in our class. Nearly two decades later I struggle to remember the names of his daughters but I can't forget what he said to me in the kitchen of his home. What does this say about a man compelled to say something to a 10 year old because his preconceived ideas on Blacks were destroyed by us being ourselves? What does this say about the health of America?

While I fight for people to see me as an individual, I realize that I can't be judgmental of those who can't see a single black female as anything other than a welfare recipient and a crass mother of 6. I can't because I too show symptoms of this disease that afflicts America. Maybe I caught it by watching television, picked it up in history class or maybe while playing with my friends. I truly don't know. But when I heard young Latino men speak to each other in English about computer programming I was taken aback. And even when I think of the perfect neighborhood to raise my clan, Juan and Juanita are not there. And I think I am okay with that. Sadly.

Ah America. Is there anything more American than baseball? Apple pie? Or the racism that allows us to continue to dream of neighborhoods that only people like us can inhabit?

See you in Seven