Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another Angel in Heaven!

I begin this blog today with a fullness in my heart. This weekend, we laid my grandmother to rest. She was 80 years-old, and lived the kind of life most people read about. She was kind, compassionate, funny and the type of person that could do just about anything.

As I sat in the church during the funeral, I heard person after person talk about how faithful and loyal and incredibly dedicated she was. It hit me, we truly write our own obituaries. How we live our lives, no matter how imperfect we are, our life story will always be written based upon the actions we made throughout our lifetime and the lives that we touched. It made me think about my daily comings and goings and whether people will be able to say the same types of things about me.

I realized that I genuinely liked my grandmother at a young age. She was the type of person that you just enjoyed being around. She was known as a "jack of all trades," which my family said I inherited from her. I believe that too, ever since I was a little girl, I have been good at doing a lot of little things. One thing I loved about her was her sense of philanthropy. Every year at Christmas time, she often volunteered to feed the homeless and wrap gifts for the poor. I often would help her out and it too gave me a sense of peace. Another trait I loved about her was her sense of humor. My grandmother was really funny, and she could get so tickled about the funniest things. Laughter truly is a gift from God and I just believe that she made sure that she got her daily dose.

Another thing my gram taught me was about marriage and family. Although my grandparents divorced and both eventually remarried, my grandparents were an ideal American couple. Both came from poverty in the South and made their way to Chicago to make a life for themselves. Soon after they met, they got married and began a family. What I loved about them, was for two people who didn't have a lot, they sure did a lot together. They obtained properties together, they ran their own business, they often rehabbed the property they owned, sold or rented it. That made me realize how much anyone can change their own situation. My grandmother picked cotton as a child, and came to Chicago and ended up being a landlord, owning a business and being a tax consultant. She showed me the ultimate possibility of life for someone, especially an African-American woman.

I don't feel sad anymore, instead I feel an overwhelming sense of happiness for her. She made her flight, received her wings and has been reunited with my grandfather. Life is a short journey. We have to truly make the most of it, while we're here. I plan to do that for as long as I am here. But for now, I am truly happy that I have another angel watching over me in heaven!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Little Insight on Race from Paul Mooney!

Piggybacking off of this whole Obama-Wright thing, I can't help but think about generational differences between black people. My grandparents did not like white people at all, and I always thought this was harsh. But I didn't pick cotton or share-crop. I was not a product of the pre-civil-rights south. I came across this video of Paul Mooney talking about race and the N-word some time ago, then I didn't get it. Funny how much of a difference a few more years in corporate America makes.

I can't even watch this video now without laughing and nodding. But more than anything, it is a searing realization of how different blacks and whites view America. Our truth is soooo different, it seems harsh, but that doesn't make it untrue.

You have to admit, he makes some good points! Although now, he doesn't say the N-word anymore!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama Speaks of Hope Amidst Issues of Race!

Today Barack Obama gave a very enlightened speech amid a week of controversy over comments made by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ. Before I delve into his speech, I would like to give a little background. Trinity is one of the largest African-American churches in the city of Chicago. It is also in the top twenty largest churches in America. They have four services on Sunday to accommodate the membership, and Rev. Wright is a pillar in the United Church of Christ as well as in Black America. He has been admired and toted from people such as Michael Eric Dyson to Tavis Smiley. One thing that has stood out has been his undying quest to teach today's generation the importance of race in America and how Christianity is the vessel to get them through it.

So, what was the controversy about? A series of about 13 sermons, that had been edited into a damaging video of Rev. Wright angrily preaching to his congregation about how Hillary Clinton is not in the same arena as Obama, because unlike him, she hasn't had to deal with racism. He also compared present day America to the Roman Empire in the bible. Once this video got out, which conveniently was about two days after the whole Geraldine Ferraro situation, the media went on Obama attack. His patriotism was called into question, Rev. Wright was called a bigot, a cult leader and unpatriotic. For days now, you can't turn on any news channel without this being their main news story. Now all of a sudden the one candidate who hadn't been talking about race or making it an issue, had the issue of race swirling around him.

So, to clear things up and address the controversial remarks, Obama made a speech this afternoon. He wasn't nervous, panicky, guilty or any of the many things the media guessed he would be. In fact, he took the high road and took this situation as an opportunity to finally address something that has plagued this nation since day one. Here is an excerpt of his speech:

"[R]ace is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. The reality in which Rev. Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up" in the 1950s and 1960s was one of legal segregation, and discrimination even afterward. For many, he said, "the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away, nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years." It still finds expression, he said, in black barbershops and kitchens, and in black churches.

What was even more interesting to me were the comments that came from this speech. It didn't surprise me how different they were based upon race:

"It wasn't until he was forced to take a stand against Wright's screed that he finally did," Republican strategist Tony Fabrizio wrote in an email. "Why didn't he denounce what he said when he said it? Why didn't he distance himself then? What Wright said was no one-time slip of the tongue."

Even Obama supporters have seen dangers in the senator addressing racial tensions so directly. "The more he has to talk about race, the blacker he becomes in the public imagination," said Randall Kennedy, a Harvard law professor and Obama backer, before the speech.

Sen. Clinton, also in Philadelphia to campaign yesterday, told reporters she hadn't seen or read the Obama speech. "Race and gender are difficult issues and therefore we need to have more discussion about this," she said, adding: "Obviously the more Sen. Obama and I talk about it or put it into some context...that's good for the country."

I am just befuddled at how out of touch so many Americans come across since these comments saw the light of day. I am 30 years-old, obviously a product of the post civil-rights era, and without a shadow of a doubt, I have experienced Real Racism in this country in my time. It is something you never forget and consequently it is also something that a white person in America will never experience or understand. I feel like white Americans are walking around with a veil on if they think racism is over. While I don't agree with the method in which Rev. Wright was addressing racism, I understand the anger. Once you have experienced racism, it is so demoralizing and humiliating, you NEVER forget it. But for the media along with right-wing conservatives to say that his anger makes him a bigot and unpatriotic is a real slap in the face, and further encourages racism in this country. The message that it sends out is, well you should just suck it up. So what if you have been oppressed and still don't have equal rights, keep your anger to yourself, complain in private. That notion is racist as hell! I can relate wholeheartedly with Barack Obama's explanation of the generational difference. My grandparents literally don't like white people. Both are direct products of pre-civil rights America. They picked cotton and share-cropped in an extremely racist south. As much as I didn't care to hear the hatred they felt, I understood it because what they've seen and been through, no one ever apologized for. Thus, it is much harder to get past.

What was compelling was when Obama who denounced Rev. Wright's statements, didn't denounce the man. He said he couldn't, just like he couldn't denounce his white grandmother who helped raise him and yet also admitted to being afraid of black men, and made racial epithets around him that made him cringe. I can understand that as well. I have a friend whose grandmother was white and basically raised her to fear and dislike black men, so she does. What that tells me is that race is very strong still in this country. We, all of us, black, white, red, yellow, brown - are dealing with the residue of slavery. No one wants to talk about it. In fact I have often heard people say, "I wish you people would just get over it." How do you get over something that still exists? Slavery wasn't just about the physical detainment of an entire race, it was also about the mental division and cultural elitism of races in this country and those ideals still exist in 2008.

We have to deal with it, otherwise we will go another hundred years holding on to anger, saying racially explosive and hurtful things about each other and still having generations recycling the pain of one of the biggest acts of terrorism to ever take place on this earth. Obama's speech today was a wake-up call to America. Racism must be dealt with, otherwise, generations to come will still be recycling the same conversations, the same speeches, the same protests and worst of all, the same pain!

Monday, March 17, 2008

What Dat Do Wednesdays!!!

I am privileged to live in Chicago, IL, a city with a host of incredible comedians. One of the hottest up and coming comedians is "Lil Rel". His DVD's sell out with the quickness. He shut down Diddy's Bad Boys of Comedy and TV1's Who Got Jokes. My friends and I go to Jokes and Notes comedy club on Wednesday nights to see Lil Rel and a host of other comedians that will have you gasping-for-air laughing.

If you are ever in Chitown on a Wednesday or Sunday evening, please check out Lil Rel and company at the Jokes and Notes Comedy Club on 46th & King Drive. It is $5 on Wednesday with a two drink minimum, and $10 on Sunday. The crowd is of course the young urban professional, with a chickenhead or two thrown in, but you can't beat the laughs. Personally, I think this is the best kept secret in town. Jokes and Notes, being the only black-owned comedy club in town has to compete with places like Riddles and Zanies, their mostly-white competitors downtown and in the suburbs, but Jokes and Notes has quickly become the most sought-after spot to try out new material. Comedians of all races, even celeb comedians (DeRay, Monique, Sommore, George Wilborn, etc.) come through regularly.

I have decided to post a few clips of the fun we have on Wednesday nights. I have blogged about Lil Rel before, he is working on a cartoon, so keep your fingers crossed, I think it will be up there with the Boondocks. Enjoy!

In the second vid, that bit about the lounges is soooo true! I could not stop laughing at that one!

Madonna has joined the Timberland/Timberlake revolution!

Here is the link for her new single which features JT and produced by Timbo.

I have to say when I first heard it, I didn't like it. After listening to it again, it isn't bad, but I am just so sick of the Timbs! Need a break from them, but Madonna clearly knows how to reinvent herself.

Is DMX Serious??????

There always comes a time when you have moments that you wish you could take back or maybe you just weren't having a good day. Apparently DMX had one recently when he gave an interview for XXL mag. Media posted this excerpt, and I have to say, I am royally embarrassed for him.

XXL: Are you following the presidential race?
DMX:Not at all.
XXL:You’re not? You know there’s a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then there’s Hillary Clinton.
DMX:His name is Barack?!
XXL:Barack Obama, yeah.
DMX:What the f*ck is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?
XXL:Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
DMX:Barack Obama?
DMX:What the f*ck?! That ain’t no f*ckin’ name, yo. That ain’t that n*gga’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the f*ck outta here.
XXL:You’re telling me you haven’t heard about him before.
DMX:I ain’t really paying much attention.
XXL:I mean, it’s pretty big if a Black…
DMX:Wow, Barack! The n*gga’s name is Barack. Barack? N*gga named Barack Obama. What the f*ck, man?! Is he serious? That ain’t his f*ckin’ name. Ima tell this n*gga when I see him, “Stop that bullsh*t. Stop that bullsh*t” [laughs] “That ain’t your f*ckin’ name.” Your momma ain’t name you no damn Barack."

And to think, he wasn't even in Blackface!

Remember back in the day when they would have those PSA's for drugs, and they would show the butter sizzling in the skillet, "this is drugs," then add the egg, "this is your brain on drugs, any questions?" Well, this interview is the new PSA.

How in the name of all that is logical does this man not know who Barack Obama is? There are kids in Africa who don't even have modern electricity that know who Barack Obama is and that he is running for president. This negro is right here, and don't know. Obama announced his candidacy in February of 2007, where the hell has DMX been, in a cave with Osama bin Laden?

- Ecstasy....a place of fulfillment and fantasies, where your dreams become realities. enhances your most inner desire to become more free with your thoughts and feelings.
---Missy Elliott

Random Procrastinations!

I am at work and very successfully procrastinating from starting an assignment that has needed my attention for a few weeks. I work in the legal field and there is always something so inherently important it has to be done NOW. Yeah, whatever, it's Monday and I just feel the need to do what I want for a change.

I am sitting in my office/cubicle/work-area listening to Faith Evans on my Ipod and I could sit here doing what I want to do for the rest of the day. I really need to get back to performing again, I have been thinking about it too much. I find myself on the bus or in the car and runs and licks go through my mind like a scrolling ticker. I haven't felt that way since my freshman year in college, which was ages ago. I am almost embarrassed to admit that stage fright has kept me from doing what I love for at least the past decade. I can reminisce on my 17 year-old self in college singing in front of groups and wonder what kind of gumption did I have then that I no longer have? I save my ministrations through song for the shower and my moments of silliness with the remote in the peace and quiet of my apartment. I never guessed that something as minuscule as fear would keep me from doing what I used to spend hours perfecting. God, I miss those days. I used to go to a rehearsal booth, interestingly enough, they had them at both schools I attended in undergrad. Those wonderful sound-proof rooms equipped with a piano and the best acoustics you could imagine. I would go in there for hours singing away the perils of the day. I realize now I don't have that outlet anymore and it is with a subtle exhilaration that I remember my days of crooning and preparing for what I thought would be a side-career of good old-fashioned Chicago soul-singing.

Instead I have spent the past decade working many days and nights for the benefit of others. I have to cringe a little at that thought. These years are blurred with too many days of not going out, working late, working weekends, spending weeks out of town for work, work, work! I sometimes feel like I take a nightly walk outside of myself. I look down on myself and see the fatigue, the wasted hours, the self-imposed coma I sometimes find myself in when I get home. No wonder, I have gotten out of shape, I expend too much energy working and not enough having fun. Lately though, that artistic side of myself that used to enjoy hours of singing and writing, has begun to rear its head. In fact, I even went as far as singing on video for my You Tube channel. Reminder: Erase that video before it falls into the infamy of the wrong hands!

I am laughing right now because when I was a 19 year-old self-made go-getter, I would tell anyone who cared to listen that settling down right out of college was for those not ambitious enough to go after their dreams. No, sitting at home watching soaps, eating bon-bons while breast-feeding was not for me. No, I am going to change the world, move to D.C. and take over Capitol Hill. Ah, to be young, naive and idealist. Reality sets in as you get older, and the things that used to be so important suddenly don't mean squat. In fact, the more I worked, the more I realized my dreams of Capitol Hill were just not what I currently want. Ambition is great when you have a goal and you go about achieving it. But, more than anything, I realize that with a changing society, I have changed. My goals and desires are different, and after tackling corporate America for the past seven years, I realize that I just want to do whatever makes me happy. I don't want to spend the rest of my life working just to make a paycheck, but rather spend it doing something I love! When I saw Common last fall, he said that hip hop was what he loved. It wasn't a stereotype to perpetuate or some road to riches and fame, but rather a constant love affair. I can respect that.

So, my quest in '08 is to do just that, the search for a new love begins...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Playing Hooky From Church!

So today, I stayed at home. I woke up and the sleep just didn't leave me and I found myself playing the age-old mind trick of, "I'll just get fifteen more minutes." Those fifteen minutes turned into an hour, by then I would have been so late for church, it didn't even make sense to go. I used to feel bad when I missed church, but considering my current disgruntlement with the black church, that guilt just isn't there anymore.

I grew up in the church. I had one of those mothers that made sure my brother and I went every Sunday. My church has a children's church (a separate building from the main sanctuary) so it wasn't so bad. I basically went and hung out with my friends for two hours. But when I got older and became a fixture in the main sanctuary, I realized how much people play church. For a lot of people, church is what you do on Sunday. In other words, getting dressed up, grabbing a highlighted bible and going to the sanctuary is a habit. It makes people feel like they are somehow giving back to God for getting them through all of the mini crisis's they experience during the week. It also gives people the right to feel self-righteous about judging others. I grew tired of this very soon into my adult life.

Very often on Sunday, the pastor delivers a sermon that could very well be far-reaching. People say, "Amen." They stand, they clap, and some shout and speak in tongues, but a closer look at a lot of these same people makes you realize it is just an act in this habitual play called going to church. I became heavily involved in my church about seven years ago. It was then that I began to see folks for who they really were. All of the backstabbing, married folks sleeping with other married folks in the church, and I don't even know where to begin with how the gays have completely taken over the church. Now, don't get me wrong, I am definitely not a homophobe. I have a ton of gay friends. But, this arena is the one area I don't understand. It is no secret that a large number of people use the church as their own personal eharmony or better yet Adult Friend, and a large number go to church faithfully every Sunday.

Now, I look at this, and I wonder, if I can't sin in peace, then why can you? If I came to church with a live-in lover, that I eventually got pregnant by, those evil old bitties would drag my name through the dirt. I would be called all kind of Jezebels, strumpets and whores. But the gays in the church can sleep with half the choir and the minister's board and no one seems to care! That, ladies and gentlemen is one of the biggest problems in the black church. The black church encourages relationships between men and women (even if they're bad - look at Juanita Bynum) but then turns the other cheek on all the gay (and straight) promiscuity and drama. When J. L. King, the infamous down-low brotha was on Oprah, he emphatically stated that he found the men he dealt with at church, prominent churches. So, why is it that you hardly ever hear pastors talk about DL brothas (and sistas for that matter)? Why don't they talk about domestic violence, infidelity and divorce? Half of their members are dealing with those very issues and they still giving these fire and brimstone sermons as if that's actually working. Meanwhile, members both gay and straight are caught in a cycle of trying to get their souls right but can't get it at church when the church is the very place they are going to try and get away from the very behavior the church is secretly encouraging.

I don't question my faith or my beliefs, but I do question religion. I realize that when I am no longer here, I can't take that church, pastor or traditions with me. All I have is my own personal relationship with God. And in today's society, personally that's all that matters.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hey Blogger!

Since this is my inaugural blog for blogger courtesy of Google, I am inclined to keep it real. I have a blog on My Space and Yahoo, but have fallen off a bit on both so I figured I would start anew on here, and hopefully this will be a better marriage.

So, to start let me give some sort of introduction of myself. I am a young urban professional from Chicago, IL. I am a child of the 80's so I have a somewhat old school perspective on things. Being a beneficiary of the best years of hip hop: 1993-1998, I am a bit dissatisfied with the commercial rap that has taken over the airwaves of present day. I honestly feel sorry for these kids today who thinks the world starts and stops with Souljah Boy! That is clearly tragic. So, in my own way I try to school the youth by giving them the gifts I received - good music. Case in point, my little cousins (age 3 and 9) were all ecstatic over High School Musical, and I was duped into watching it with them. The storyline was cute, but the music left a little something to be desired, and for this to be a musical, I found this a bit disturbing. So, being that it was summer, and they wanted their big cousin to take out the kiddie pool for them to play in, I bargained with them. I would take out the pool, if they watched a movie with me first.

They were so excited, jumped up and down and popped the popcorn. We sat and I shared with them, The Wiz. They sat transfixed, watched the whole movie, and even got up and danced around at times. The following week, before they uttered anything about the pool, they asked to watch The Wiz. I couldn't have been prouder. I digress.

I am also a BIG SPORTS FAN! Now, in case you were wondering, no it's not cheer leading that I am huge fan of, although I do like to watch championship cheer leading. My first love is basketball, college and pro and I probably know more about it than the average guy. I also love football, golf, tennis and baseball. I am serious about it. I have had men completely judge me for it, as if somehow I am less of a woman for being a big sports fan. It is so disappointing. But I am no guy, in fact, I have often done my nails or feet while I watch the game.

I love to cook. I think at times I am addicted to the Food Network. I love Paula Deen, Rachel Ray, Giada DeLaurentis and of course Emeril. I like trying out new dishes, especially Italian specialties. I also like cooking things that most people would go to a restaurant to get. It's the challenge of it all, and it's fun.

I also love my family. Ma famille is very important to me, we are close-knit group, and I think that in a day where the black family is damn near becoming extinct, it is a good idea to hold on to one another and take care of each other. I grew up in the church, but don't really like chuuch folk, I'll discuss that in a later blog. I am a political enthusiast, love the history of my people and how that history affects present day politics.

Well, enough about me....on to the issues!