Monday, March 26, 2012

My Trayvon Moment

So I had been pretty quiet about the Trayvon Martin case. I felt like I didn't need to explain to the world how I felt; it was more important to explain to my son why people would single him out...think the way they did about him etc. This was a "home" moment. However, after hearing that Trayvon himself called 911, it made me think about what exactly was killing my spirit about this situation.

I remember the Rodney King trial. I grew up in Orange County, CA...LA is 15 minutes away. I can remember coming home from school and watching the Channel 7 news when the verdict was read. I had not ever in my life felt like a "nigger" until that point. That was my ah ha moment. And than the looting began...

I cannot describe 20 years later how horrible it was seeing the smoke...watching the news of the looters. What damage they would create. What permanent damage the whole incident created in my life. My boyfriend at the time was sent out to Orange County to spend the night because his house was right in the middle of things. Friends were no longer friends of mine because of it. Like I said...I was now "just a nigger"...

So out of the madness, I found Spike Lee movies. I helped start a black student union at my high school. I choose my college based on how many Black students attended. I tried to figure out how to be Black in America.

Fast forward 20 years. Trayvon. I now have an eleven year old stepson. His mom is Mexican. I'm having to explain SB 1070 and this bullshit to him. When we talked this weekend, he asked me "did he get killed because of racism or bullying?". After a pause, I said both. Because this child was stalked (bullying) and killed because he was Black. I can't wax poetic about it. That is the bottom line.

So though his father and I work hard to provide a certain life for him, in the eyes of society...he's just a nigga. My concern for him gets more and more complex the older he gets because while I want him to enjoy growing up, I need him to realize that not everyone sees him as a kid. Some people view his hoodie buddy's as a threat. They view him as a threat.

I have many males in my family and while I see them as cute and sweet...society is still seeing them negatively. As a parent...as a woman...as a Black person...I don't know how to raise them to be anything other than themselves. I do not want to stifle who they are. I don't want to teach them to hate anyone based on their color. To be concerned with how the world sees them. I want them to be free to be them. Isn't this the same things our forefathers wanted though?!!

I have no solution. I have no solid answer for my son. All I have is love and compassion and knowledge to share with him. All I can do is love him and hope that the best in life is what is in store for him. And while that's beautiful...it may not bring him home tonight.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Charity Starts at Home


Let me start by saying that I downloaded Charity Starts at Home at the same time that I got The Wonder Years, so I haven’t listened to either separately yet. He really should have charged more than $8 for this….

I was a little apprehensive about what a solo project from Phonte would sound like. Was it going to be Authenticity part two? The Minstrel Show minus Pooh?

What he gave his fans was the same honest lyrics whether he sang or was rapping. I’m a lyrics fanatic so I have to applaud the feeling behind Dance in the Reign and The Life of Kings. He seems to effortlessly speak from his heart and you can’t help but relate in some way. This album is a great representation of why he has been instrumental in two outstanding groups.

If you’re a fan from the Little Brother days, you won’t be disappointed. We Go Off with Pharaoh Monch and Eternally with Median remind you that indeed, there are quality lyricists still doing it. If you were introduced via Foreign Exchange, you can appreciate the relaxed, two-stepping vibe of Gonna Be a Wonderful Night with Carlitta Durand. To Be Yours (I haven’t read the credits yet but it’s clearly a Zo! production) is a beautiful ballad. I’m not sure too many other artists could pull off an album with all of these different styles of music that just makes sense like this one.

My favorite though? Who Loves You More with Eric Roberson. “Make a living or have a life? I guess I have to choose one.” “I got a room and a microphone and a family I ain’t seen in months. I play this record a million times just hoping you’ll listen once. “

New Tigallo, New Tigallo….thank you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jr's Birthday Lesson


This weekend we celebrated my kids 11th birthday by letting him have his first slumber party. He had a small group of 5 boys that partied and ate up e’erything in my house…all weekend. It was epic (for an 11 year old).

I won’t go into the boring parental details, but the lesson I learned from it has stood out so much than I needed to write it down. Who knows how many more opportunities I’ll have like this in his life since he’s like a little man these days?

One of the things I have understood early on in being in his life (I came into the picture when he was 5) was that he appreciates experiences way more than things. Now don’t get me wrong…he digs things too. He’s a Jordan fanatic, Lego’s make me go broke and he’s discovered his “style” of clothing. I took him on his first plane trip to California for a cousin’s birthday and the look on his face when I dropped him back at his mom’s was priceless. Like he had had so much fun that he didn’t want to leave me. That’s what I cherish the most. He was the same even with our recent trip to bury my Grandfather. My nephew saw him and went nuts! Lol…He loves Jr like you wouldn’t believe.

I work to be able to afford for him to be comfortable. I take him places so that he realizes that there’s more to life than the blocks between McDowell and 44th St. I take random days off in the summer so we can watch movies and put put around Phoenix. I buy him clothes so he looks nice when we’re out and he has an appreciation for nice things rather than dickies and a polo. I take him to get his hair cut so when he’s older he knows where to go and how to ask for what he wants. I buy him little stanky cologne stuff so hopefully he’ll know the difference between Axe and Burberry when he’s a man. I take him on hot dates so he knows how to act when he goes to restaurants with his friends.

Life experience’s is what we as parents should be showing our kids. It’s the meat and potatoes of life. Yes you need to teach values and integrity, etc. But how to live life? That’s a skill that needs to be developed early and often. I don’t want him to sit on the couch in my house eating Hot Cheetos playing video games while life is passing him by. I want him to know what a good time is and how to make that happen for him. I will continue to do what I can to make sure that he has these things because he needs them. We all need positive experiences in our lives. Moments that celebrate us and who we are. People pausing to say “Happy Birthday”.

When I was dropping him back off yesterday I was thinking “Man, I remember when he got that look on his face like he had had the time of his life and didn’t want to leave. He’s too old for that now”. As I gave him and hug and sent him to his mom, he looked back at me again with that same look from when he was little. Lol…I cried all the way home. SCORE!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Home

So 2011 has ushered in a new experience for me….death. My grandfather passed away April 3. He’s the first person that I’ve lost that I’ve been close to. I am having the most difficult time trying to accept that he’s gone. He was something so stable and strong and alive and vibrant in my life. You never realize how impactful people are until they’re gone.

I got a bbm from my cousin asking when I had seen Papa last. It had been over a year. He basically told me I needed to get home to see him soon. Now, my Dad and sister hadn’t mentioned anything about him being sicker than usual. I knew Papa was getting old….My mother had sent me a message saying that he was talking about his life as if it was ending. But I didn’t believe that it really was. But the bbm scared me. I flew home that day.

I had the best time with my cousin. We didn’t grow up together so it was nice to hang out and have lunch. And cry together because we knew something wasn’t right. I got to the hospital and my grandfather just looked….he didn’t look good. The way my Grandma was further alerted me to some issues. My Daddy was there reading a paper…chilling. They acted like everything was ok, but Papa didn’t look ok to me. I finally broke down and pulled Dad out into the lobby to cry. He knew…but didn’t want to admit that Papa wasn’t doing well.

I stayed by my grandfather’s side as much as I could without seeming concerned. He was fussing about
Charlie Sheen. He told me to give him some suga on the way out. For some reason I stayed and gave him another kiss before I left. I just didn’t want to let him go. On the way to my grandparents house, I couldn’t stop yapping because I couldn’t help thinking that this is what is was going to be like. My dad driving Grandma around. Grandma being in the house by herself.

On the way home I couldn’t stop crying. I knew I’d never see my grandfather again. I literally cried from the minute the plane left LAX and landed in Phoenix. When I got home, I thought of all these great things I wanted to tell my papa before he passed away. I called him every week until he passed away 3 weeks later. I never told him what I needed to.

I wasn’t surprised, but was hurt just the same. Now 3 months later I’m still trying to come to grips with the fact that my Papa is no longer with us. He did everything he could to make his passing easy for us…no funeral, requested to be cremated to avoid a burial, etc. And I’m thankful for all of that…but I can’t find a way to say good bye.

He was who I used to talk history with. He was funny. He was a strong soul. He was the backbone of our family. He wasn’t perfect by any means…but he was the best grandfather I could have ever asked for. He bought my first bike…bought our piano so his girls could learn to play. He made sure we grew up with both of our parents when my parents weren’t sure. He was the best blessing I could have ever had.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be ok with him not being here. I know he’s with me. I have a lot of his traits I know that he avoided a lot of pain, but I still wish he were here…I wish I could get one more hug or hear him fuss about one more thing. He impacted my life and I’m so thankful that he was mine.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why Effort Is So Important To Me

I’m not sure if I notice the level of effort because of my age or just that lately it seems people don’t understand the value of it, but effort is what sustains so much in our lives. Effort is required at work, in your home (#nohoarding), with friends, family and yourself. I just can’t see how your life can be happy or fulfilled without effort to make it so.

I was chatting with someone on Twitter the other day about how people don’t date anymore. It seems that the effort to really get to know someone is a lost art that not too many people are interested in revisiting. So many folks would rather jump into a “relationship” (sex) and hope that things work out rather than taking the time to get to know the person first. Not everyone is for you; not every personality is going to work with yours. And that’s ok. Just figure that out pre-sexual encounter. Also, when you finally settle into a relationship, continue to grow that friendship and romance by going on dates. When you’ve been with someone for awhile, it’s more about time away from the daily grind than needing to be impressed. I don’t want to be impressed. I want to get out of the house. Lol…again…effort to keep the love alive.

Effort is also important in relationships with your family and friends. Sure they love you, but that doesn’t mean that they require less effort in terms of staying in contact and showing an interest in their lives. I committed to calling my grandparents once a month this year. My first phone calls were phenomenal and made me feel like hell. These were the people that had no problem helping to raise me, watch me when I was sick and pick me up from school when I was too little to walk home by myself. All they want is to say hi and make sure I’m doing well. My lack of effort in checking in on them was pathetic. The same can be said with friends. If you don’t make the effort to check in every now and then I guarantee they’ll check out at some point. Life isn’t about accumulating acquaintances; it’s about developing lasting relationships with people who will love and support you. So support and show love back.

One thing that I stress (to the point of sounding like a broken record) to my son is that I expect him to do great things with his life. To accomplish this, he needs to put effort in now with school and his extracurricular activities. The desire to do well and have a winning mentality will carry him far. In work, I try to do the best I can if for no other reason than less emails and visits from upper management. You can’t stay under the radar if you’re constantly effin up. People take notice of the effort you put into you; your work, the way you keep yourself up, the way you interact with people. It’s all a part of how you carry yourself and people are attracted to those who carry themselves well. I know I tend to want to get to know co-workers who seem on the ball rather than ones who act like they don’t care or seem to be there for a reason other than work.

In conclusion, effort is what is going to determine what type of day you have, what type of relationships you have, if you’re able to have people come over your house (#nohoarding) and whether you accomplish goals you set out for in life. If you don’t do anything else, put some effort into you and to those who put effort into knowing you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Networking or Self Medicating

I have to share this story…if for no other reason than to remind myself that everyone is not for me and to be cautious of whom I allow myself to deal with.

Many moons ago, I was a member of an online site. I met some really nice people and some not quite right people. The experience stays with me as I continue to log into sites like Twitter and Facebook. The site had a blog feature which I loved because I was able to write random bits about topics ranging from relationships to football to political topics. From writing, I met a group of people who commented on my blogs and the networking began.

There are certain levels of popularity online and the attention can come from a variety of things such as intelligence, talent, looks or lunacy. What I discovered however is the lunatics tend to trump anything else. While I had a pretty good following for my blogs, there was an undercurrent of madness that I was just too na├»ve to see. I appreciated people’s comments and it encouraged me to write. Well, I became friends with a woman due to some unforeseen issues (hot mess). We got to know each other, learned about our families etc.

After awhile, we stopped talking as much because I was busy and her blog/posts seemed a little…well erratic. One minute she was praising God and the next she was threatening to “go off”. Never really understood online beef, so I distanced myself.

Long story short…we fell out quite publicly. So glad it happened because I learned so much from the experience. Here are some tips I learned:

If you are online all of the time, how are you raising your family or focusing on your career? The clue I’ve now learned is if someone is talking about their “real life” something ain’t right. Your reality can and should include any online activity.

When the things you post online range from “I love the Lord” to “I’m gonna fuck you up” there is a problem. The best thing you can do is recognize the instability. I think social networking has become a new means for people with mental health issues to self medicate rather than seeking professional help. I have seen so many “I’m going to kill myself” messages as well as known of people who actually did it. Rather than encouraging help…real help, people would rather rally behind them. Someone who’s bi polar doesn’t need to hear that they are pretty; they need someone to love them enough to get them help.

Side note: My biggest pet peeve online is people encouraging poor behavior or “going in” on people. Sometimes all a crazy soul needs is encouragement to continue to be nuts rather than facing their real issues and seeking help. Mental health issues are serious and should be treated as such. At some point, it’s just not funny anymore.

I have never understood women who have no women friends. This extends to people in general. If you don’t have friends in your real life…why not put the phone down and enjoy life? Turn off the computer and look someone in the eye?! I’m pretty heavy on Twitter, but I’ve got a pretty solid group of friends and family as well.

People are only going to share what they want. Recognize and respect their right to do so. People don’t owe you a thing. If they’re married and don’t tell you, that’s their choice. If they only come on every blue moon, that’s completely their business. If they choose not to interact with you, so be it. Everyone is not for you. Everyone does not have the same purpose when they log on. And that’s ok. By the same token, protect yourself and your life. Don’t give all your info to someone you’ve never met. It’s just not safe or worth it.

As for internet dating: PROTECT YA NECK! Lol….I’ll do a separate post for this. It can be a beautiful thing or trauma. Also, completely up to you.

In conclusion, I am still a heavy social networker. I’ve made great friends, genuine friends online. I think that online just like life is what you put into it. I’ve gotten great music, TV and movie reviews, found some loyal Cowboys fans (yes!!) and been able to find another medium to communicate with my friends and family. But like all things, use at your own risk.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Are You Mixed With?

UGH!!!! I absolutely hate that question! It is a question that I have been asked all of my life and to tell you the truth, I’m starting to get really annoyed with. I haven’t figured out if this is a geographic dilemma or people with no filter, but it is just not an appropriate question to ask…especially of people that you do not know.

Now don’t get me wrong…I am proud of all that I am, but if you are not in a position for it to ever really matter in your own personal life…why ask? Trust me…if you get to know me, you will soon discover what my ethnic combo is.

Let me replay my conversation yesterday. I was in training with about 20 other people. All of a sudden my neighbor (a sistah) leans over and asks who does my hair. I explained that I do it myself. Then she asks what kind of shampoo I use. Ummm…Pantene. Next thing I know she’s asking what I’m mixed with and who is what. Apparently, she’s dating a white guy and wanted some hair pointers if she ended up having kids with him. So many issues with this convo besides the fact that I was embarrassed.

First of all, I’m not black and white…so the chances of your kid having the same hair texture as me is slim to none. Second, you’re female. We will never have kids together, so how exactly does my background effect you? And finally, why are you asking me to explain who I am to you. Because my ethnicity, my family is who I am.

I have yet to meet one person of mixed decent who thinks this question is appropriate or ok. It’s offensive and ignorant. Please understand… we are people too. We don’t want people walking up to “pet” our hair, compare our skin coloring to yours or think we’ll co-sign on interracial dating just because both our parents aren’t black. Very few of us have hair complexes…well at least I don’t so discussing whether or not my hair can actually grow is mad ignorant.

I do feel different, but not because of what color my parents are…it’s because of who they are. WHO my family is. I don’t care what my hair looks like 90% of the time and I tan to even myself out. This doesn’t make me special and I’m tired of people trying to set me apart because of it. The divide has occurred pretty much all of my life and it hasn’t been all positive. I have had people not want to be my friend because I’m not “black enough”; I have had guys want me to have their baby because “our kids will have good hair”.

I hope that people take the time to really think before opening their mouths to ask “What are you?” I’m a human being that would appreciate you using some sort of filter before you open your mouth in the future.

Please and thank you.