SO LONG, FAREWELL...
Friday, February 8, 2008
Attending shows, plays, etc. became ingrained in my heart and soul. I have picked up the torch where my mother left off and I am becoming a certified patron of the arts. I am often times coordinating outings for the Fab 5 to attend: Black Lily Festival in Philly, Sugar Water Festival and independent film screenings. So, last weekend, Amaretto and I caught a matinee of The Brothers Size at the Studio Theatre. In a word: excellence. The play was written by a young Black male playwright, featured three young Black male actors, and explored the “Black” male experience in the 21st century, the push & pull that too many Black men experience: to walk the straight and narrow road or take the crooked path was beautifully captured.
So tell me why there were only like 10 Black people in attendance?
This seems to be the norm. I remember when I was little, wondering why so many white people came all the way into Chocolate City to see a show that was clearly not “about” them. As I got older, I just started asking the question out right: “how come there are so many white people here?” Cause, every time I went to a insert your favorite “conscious” hip hop artist show here or a play written by a “new, fresh, Black voice” or a Sweet Honey and the Rock show, white folks were in abundance. And I wondered what the hell they were getting out of it. Sure, there is the whole enjoying the arts, blah, blah, blah argument. But there were also the inside jokes that flew over the white people’s heads while Black folks were cracking up. There were uncomfortable silences when the word n****a was used repeatedly (this is at plays, not at hip hop shows, mind you). There were the white people clapping off beat. There was the nationalist song a little Black girl sang at the Dead Prez show, that went “hey do you want a nation…be Black, be Black, be Black” that left white people with puzzled looks on their faces.
So, if you can’t tell, something about all these white people being at Black shows sticks in my craw. I have pondered this and I have narrowed it down to this: they want to see Black people in dance, in word, in music, but they don’t want to see Black people, in their every day lives, in the streets, in reality, live and in color. They would rather see a show on how Black folk live, go home and feel enlightened: ahh yes, now we know about Black people, now we know what makes them tick, now we understand their perspective, now we know how they feel about that pesky little racism thing…
It’s how I felt when I saw a bunch of young white people showing support for Obama in one of the most gentrified parts of D.C. And I said to Amaretto: there they are holding signs for Obama while they are taking Black people’s houses and shit. Exaggeration? Maybe a little bit, but there is also truth there. There, standing in the cold, holding signs for a Black man to be President, because race doesn’t matter, they were seeing the parts but not the whole, ignoring their part in changing and dividing the city. They see Obama as a different kind of Black person, not as one of those Black people who threaten to mug them on the way home. They view these artistic performances as a glimpse into "real" Black life without feeling the need to actually know "real" Black people.
So what are you saying, Rum Punch? White people just shouldn’t come to these shows? YES! Ok, no, of course not. How would Black Art survive without the patronage of white people? We won’t even buy a $10 ticket to see the Great Debaters, let alone a $40+ ticket to a live show. And therein lies the problem. It’s not that I want to see less white people but rather that I would like to see more Black people. I would like for Black people to realize there are more than Tyler Perry plays and the Oprah stamped Color Purple Broadway show. I would like for Black folk to understand that there are so many shows that are telling our stories from various angles. I would like not to receive the looks and smiles from the older white folk that say, “oh it’s so nice that you came to this play too.” What?!? I’m supposed to be here! I would like for us to take our children to these shows so that they can see what exists for them, the possibilities, the creativity. I would like for Black people to realize that too many times, it is white people who are keeping our stories, our traditions, our sounds and rhythms alive. I would like for us to recognize that if we can work to make history, then we must also work to preserve history. Preserve our stories, our voices. If we won’t, who will?
That’s my time y’all! Happy Rum Punch Friday!
Thursday, February 7, 2008
And then Chris talked about how he wanted to be president when he was little. "President or a comedian" and his mother was like noooo. To paraphrase he said, "I was born feb 7th and 2 weeks later Malcolm X was shot. That was the world I was born into." His mama said, "You want to be somebody that might get you kilt?"
and that immediately made me think of Obama and all this talk about people not wanting him to run cause he might get kilt. But watching the AAL2 and also having just finished Lalita Tademy's Red River (the true story of the masscre of hundreds of free Black men who dared exercise their right to self-government in Reconstruction-era Louisiana), I thought damn is this what we have evolved to?
self preservation over progress. unwilling to sacrifice so that we can maintain what we have. I know it's hard to make comparisions to those before us. those where-would-we-be-if-they-hadn't-marched-and-fought type arguments. Cause they aint had much to lose (or did they?) So many of us think it is futile today but wasn't it even more futile then? With what they went up against: Jim Crow, the White League, the KKK, and regular apathetic white folk who didn't stop their more radical brethern, just on the other side of slavery, not a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, practically speaking they couldn't have possibly had a chance in hell to overcome, succeed, win yet they tried anyway and they did.
Why? Because they were fed up with the way they were living. And fighting was better than pushing through, barely making it, living with the scraps.
You know I think about it sometimes. Why bother? What are we all doing just playing in the White man's bullshit game. Let me protect me and mine. It's funny this mentality is the norm from middle class to the projects. young men die sensilessly cause they don't see nothing better. the middle and upper class die the death of complacency cause they don't want to lose the small status they've attained and they damn sure aint steppin out to push for better, more for those who don't have.
True enough, Obama is no Martin (he says so himself) he's not the conventional civil rights leader gettin bricks thrown through his window. and he's not ours alone (which may be the real problem). But dammit if that uppity Negro aint trying to do something. Stepping over the black establishment, the white establishment, the democratic establishment and saying ima do this my way. And yeah I hear it, can he really, what if he flip when he gets in, what if he fails? really though, these are concerns any time we elect a new president.
But watching AAL2 last night I kept thinking, damn the ancestors would be proud, those who stepped up, fought and died. One difference may be that they didn't have so many whites behind them. Or maybe we have memories of those whites that were behind them during reconstruction who cut and run when things got difficult. who knows...
Listen as Michelle talks about her husband's safety in america as a black man...
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
So, Gloria Steinem kicked things off, first. There may have been others before her, but I honed in on her op-ed piece in the New York Times Women are never Front-runners . An op-ed written and published in that newspaper is a big deal, since it is a national newspaper with undeniable national exposure. The brouhaha began with Steinem’s declaration of why she was voting for Hillary. Her assertion that Hillary’s fight for the White House is to break the highest glass ceiling and that Barack Obama’s candidacy embodies the “good ol’ boys network” of preclusion – is bull****. Now, I’m not sure if Gloria truly believes what she meant or the implications of her assertion, but if you have the clout and you utilized your leverage to run an op-ed piece in the New York Times you want to be heard. And Bellini heard you loud and clear.
Did Steinem forget the glass ceiling was created by white men? Unbeknownst to Steinem she alienated legions of women of color – me included – who find her assertion inaccurate thus insulting. If you want to make the reckless decision and dismiss Barack Obama’s candidacy as a cakewalk, I am hear to inform it is not. I’m sure you read his autobiographies. This man had dealt with paternal abandonment, interracial upbringing, substance abuse – all while being Black in the United States of America – don’t get me started. But that’s okay Gloria, I’ll characterize your opinion as pure naiveté. All your life you’ve seen black men active members and participants of the “good ol’ boy club”, you’ve seen them create businesses just to tell women NO, you’ve seen black men flourish with their wealth and deny you entrance – right. . . right?
Let’s move south of Intestate 95
Over the weekend, Erica Jong featured an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Hillary vs. the Patriarchy (read this crap). (Folks when you travel to the Nation’s Capital you will get caught up inside the beltway – and the Capital beltway by virtue of its design creates an echo chamber. At times, there are views and opinions espoused by our Members of Congress, punditocracy, etc. . . that only resonate inside the echo chamber. So for most of your benefit, you are given the pleasure of not hearing what bounces of the walls of the beltway. . . I digress.)
Although, Jong does a better job of pinpointing the target by exposing Bill Kristol, her title’s inclusion of patriarchy does little to buffer the damage. Jong asserts her support for Hillary, yet implores the reader to identify with Hillary’s obstacles including persevering in a precarious marriage with a philandering husband – ummm. . . that’s not my problem. She would also add that Hillary’s commitment to raising their child is pure admiration – ummmm. . . that’s her job irregardless of the circumstances. Jong wants sympathizers for Hlllary, she is running for commander-in-chief – there is no sympathy. You must get the job done irregardless of sex, creed, or gender.
You feminists are hurting your plight, yes your because I choose to dismiss myself from this farce.
P.S. Folks Tsunami Tuesday shook things up and the Dems have a long way to go -- there is no clear victor. To my Republicans -- do yourself a favor and tell Romney to go sit down (he is a stubborn somebody) Just like the Super Bowl Sunday's upset -- continue to expect the unexpected in '08!
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Let it eat at them?
Carry it along in the repressed places of their minds?
Let it go?
Friday was the first day that I felt guilt again. It slowly seeped in, occupying space. Dominating my thoughts. I'm feeling it's weight on my throat...
A lady I used to work with had been on my mind a lot lately. When I first came to my good ole government job she was one of the Sistagirls I lunched with who schooled me on the ways of the organization folks. She was from Baltimore and commuted all the way to DC everyday for her temporary assignment (not that Baltimore is that far-30 miles-but it’s still far to come just to work). These assignments allow people from different offices to make more money and learn about a different position. Most beg to go on these assignments under the guise of personal skill enrichment but it’s mostly about the money…mo money, mo money, mo money!
At any rate we become good work friends during her stay. She was my lunch buddy. My “I hate this job” soapbox audience. My source of office gossip. My off da hook-all meat-no-bread crabcake provider. My bootleg CD supplier. My knowing partner in the trenches of the job. A very supportive presence after the death of my grandfather in ‘05. An example of a strong black woman working. Trying to make it for herself, her children and their children.
It was a sad day for me when her assignment wasn’t extended and back home to Baltimore she went amid our promises to keep in touch and hang out one weekend. But ya’ll know how it is when life gets going. You forget and neglect stuff. We kept in touch less often. But after more time than usual passed, I emailed her to quote-unquote check in this past September. She replied that things weren’t going too well on her end, but that she would have to tell me about it later. I don’t know if these things were personal or job related (because the job had been crazy for a minute). I was concerned and eagerly awaited her tale. After all you never expect someone to tell you things aren’t good when you check in with them, we just want to hear their happy readers digest update on life.
But she never got back to me. And when I really realized this about a month ago I told myself that I had to call her. But it slipped my mind. When I did call her cell about two weeks ago, an automated voice told me that she was no longer a subscriber. When my friend found her house number through Google, it rang busy. When I tried to email, her address was gone from our network. Yet when I found out on Friday that she died from a massive heart attack about a month ago, I was still surprised.
Now guilt is causing me to think about this. A lot. I Coulda done a better job of keeping in touch. I Shoulda visited her like I said I was going to. I Woulda warned her this was going to happen to her…had I known. I know that’s crazy right? But this is where my mind goes. Because I’m talking about someone who was in her fifties (like my parents). Not old like my great-grandmother who was 101 when she died. Not sick, like my grandmother who slowly died from Colon cancer. Not living in the face of death like the soldiers in the Middle-East.
And though we didn’t talk everyday, weren't BFFs, it sucks to know that I don’t even have the option to say “Heeeeey, girl” and hear her say the same. That maybe she didn't know that I cared despite my delayed follow up. That the “one day…” I planned on will never take place.
I'm not an overtly affectionate person, but I wonder if my family and friends know just how much I do love them? Even when I don't say it first or daily, and my actions may lead them to assume that I don't. Guilt keeps pressing, saying I could have done better when I had the chance.
Damn. You will be missed MVJ.
See You in Seven
PS. Heart disease is a leading cause of death for women. Black women in particular.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Dancin' drippin' wit' sweat
Nobody tired yet
Jam you go get
Pure love no hatin'
Man jammin' on woman
Gyul win'in' back on man
Drinks flowin' down like rain
Party insane no one can see me
Cause dis is time to party
And we nah goin' home, til de mornin' come
And we nah goin' home, til we see de sun
- Nah Goin Home, Biggie Irie
I just spent most of the weekend celebrating Trinidad & Tobago's Carnival, which officially begins today. To say I am in need of sleep and a good detox regimen is an understatement. I think I may have been a Bajan [from Barbados] or Trini gyul [chick] in my last lifetime. Seriously. I have always loved all sounds & rhythms from the Carribean. Reggae, dancehall, soca, calypso... love it all. I grew up listening to old skool favs like Peter Tosh, Third World, Steel Pulse, and of course the one and only Robert Nesta Marley. I can "wine" like a dancehall queen. I look forward to food items like corn soup, doubles, bussup shot, and goat roti. Wouldn't be surprised if I ended up marrying a brother from the islands... lol. Though he'd probably have to be somewhat Americanized 'cause I ain't the one to be his maid and his cook and sit at home waiting for him to walk through the door each day like his mama and 'em. But that's another conversation I won't start today.
I saw "de mornin' come" Saturday AND Sunday. Today is my first day back in the real world after a week of vacation. In addition to lack of sleep and 100+ emails in my inbox and unread faxes and millions of voicemails and a mailbox overflowing with envelopes, I just lost the last two originally typed paragrapghs of this post. I am ready to go home now.
I hope to regain my sanity (what little I had at least) soon. In the meantime, I leave you with this in spirit of this festive season.
Dark & Stormy