Saturday, June 25, 2011

50 Means Reset

50 means reset; means reflecting on your past lessons, making way for even more blessings and affirming your personal mission. I write books for and about marginalized youth. I also say what needs to be said, even when it causes some to question my seat at the Family table. Because it's our tendency to avoid the obvious that I want to examine. Our collective experience as people of african descent who still suffer from the on-going holocaust of americanization has undoubtedly caused us to be victimized. Yet many of us find ourselves stuck in victim mode, unable to move beyond our rage. Those of you who know me personally have watched me deal with the rage. You've celebrated my growth when my wings allowed me to think beyond my resentments and been patient with me when the bars of anger imprison me each time one of our haters cuts my flight.

50 also means noticing your physical transformations...

I used to be very angry at European Americans for their privileges due to insitutional racism. but anger is like cancer. It eats at your spirit and stifles your creativity. It's a delicate, often times difficult process to avoid terminal dis-ease while still being conscious of what's going on around you politically. But I know 'whites' who treat me like fam and Blacks who could care less about pan african solidarity or my personal welfare. That fact alone forces me to close my eyes when I really want to see someone and focus instead on intentions and energy. At this point I'm less interested in reacting to our haters and more invested in our work as a pschologically damaged people still recovering from post-slavery syndrome.

Part of my agitation was the fact that 'white' people get to simply be. This is their collective luxury; never having to think about their skin color. They simply get up in the morning and start their day. We, on the other hand, have the burden of constantly being reminded that we're guests in our own home from subtle to blatant messages. But this is the challenge that I'm offering myself and you. To learn how to simply be; to be judged by our intentions and not by other's insecurities or superiority complex, which brings me back to my initial call. And that's for us to do more self-reflecting and face accountability when we play a role in our own demise.

We want our President to come up with an agenda that will address our issues (unemployment, miseducation, crime in our neighborhoods, generational poverty, affordable healthcare, political representation and urban development, as opposed to gentrification). but are we addressing our contradictions? (job unpreparedness, expecting teachers to raise our children for us,

Our 'no snitching' policy when it comes to calling out those who we know are terrorizing our hood,

The disrespecting of our girls and women, predatory mindset,
hair and skin shade politics,

Aspiring to parenthood but not marriage, making bad choices in mates, allowing fear to rule us,

Mental illness,
avoiding constructive criticism, preferring down low behavior over reality). I'm just sayin...

I believe in a higher power. I've seen too many unexplained events happen in my first 50 years to think it's just me doing the driving. Much less, the writing. I believe I did the right thing when I quit my doctoral program to instead keep my voice and write books that motivate, educate and hopefully inspire, rather than fulfilling somebody else's definition of success. And I believe I came through my mother to meet my father.

I also believe there's a silent war going on between Black people and niggaz (sorry, uncle). Same war going on between shirt ties and ankhs, wigs and nat'rals, gays and men who have sex with men; between those of us who are religious and those who are more spiritual, those of us who style social consciousness and those of us who live it. but no matter our differences, it's still us. It's still all good, as we try to redefine what it means and looks like to be an American or find our way back to African.I love our youth, especially when they find it safe to smile. There's a part in the book I'm working on where I tell our sons that I want more from them; that I want them to want more from themselves. And I want their parents to do the same. So if you're still with me then come go with me. Education. Revolution. Change starts with us.

Thank you for reading.

Images 14: Montreal

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Male Youth Book Update...

It's a powerful place to stand in when you make the decision to by-pass the frustrating process of seeking a publisher who respects your voice and publish the damn thing on your own. But it also means having to deal with the technical disruptions involved when you and your printer bump heads on style...Note to self-- Patience. It will all be done when it's supposed to be done!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dear Dads...

We already know about the deadbeat dads who do nothing but piss on people's lives and force mothers to fend for themselves. I'm talking about the good dads out there who don't always get the recognition and the props they deserve. If you're fulfilling your role as both provider and advisor, that in itself is a blessing because it promotes harmony in the family, whatever family means to you, and adds to the solutions of our collective struggle. If for whatever reason you're not allowed to fulfill your role and you decide to give up on the stress of constantly having to fight for your right to parent, know that your child will eventually become a young adult; and as such, she or he will look you up (they always do, no matter what they hear until you confirm the hype). So on the day your daughter or son decides to hear your version of the story, be prepared to respond to the following:

1. Do you have any proof that you appealed to a Judge to be allowed to see me?

2. Did you keep any receipts showing you paid child support, but was still not allowed to help raise me?

3. Are there any letters you wrote to me or my mom that were either never sent or returned to sender?

4. Do you have any photos of me or of us together?

5. Can you name any relatives or close friends who can back up your efforts to father me?

If you can't answer one 'yes' to these here questions, then you're merely setting yourself up for a harsh reality check later on when your seed tells you that their mother was more man than you!

Excerpt from my upcoming book (still working on the title).

Photo of print by Jahheal Massac

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pro Doesn't Have to Mean Anti

Pro doesn't have to mean anti. Love your culture. Love your race. But be careful not to make hate your flag!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Chose

Our newest and youngest NYC Writers Group member, Chris Mohammed was telling us about his struggle having to raise himself. When we asked him what makes him stand out from the kid standing on the street corner he said, "I chose."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tribute to Us, and Us

Every year round this time the Black Family comes to Coney Island to give tribute to the ancestors. We form a circle around the drummers and rejoice in the beats and rhythms of the old ways. Some of us stand around the circle. Some form their own smaller circles. And some like myself prefer to meditate by the rocks where the waters splash the soft green moss that glisten after each tide. But we all make it a point of dipping our bare feet into the sea or go knee to waist deep as part of the tradition of giving thanks and cleasing away any dis-eases. There're usually flowers and fruit, something you wrote, something you made, as offerings to the ones who crossed the seas to give us our voices, to the ones who either chose to cut their lives at the middle passage or were thrown overboard, to the ones who recently transitioned. So I was there doing my part. And since I'm leaving my 40s, this was an especially heartfelt reunion what with all the heavy 'classroom' discussions we've been having about Black and black, is and not. Us, and us.

Getting older tends to cause you to become less tolerant and less flexible. You get set in your ways and see life through eyes that have become too wise for excuses and arms exhausted from carrying the flag of consciousness. But my personal friends were there. they reminded me of the importance of not giving up on the ones who may not ask for help yet need it. I also remembered Bro. Rico's words-- "let's try to come from a place of love, not disgust". It kept playing back to me and at me, and I knew it was meant as a gift to apply to my book and life, in general. Rico wasn't merely coming from a younger person's perspective, but a more optimistic approach to raising an unruly child. I don't know if I'm making any sense here. All I can tell you is that I love us so much that when we fail to behave as the proud people we were meant to be, I take it very personally. And though there are forces that are aimed at prolonging our holocaust, I expect us to not only have children but raise their image as well. But here I go again, so I'll just leave it here where annette smith writes from her book 'Etched', "...and just when i'd gotten used to the rhythm of the rain beating on everything outside and touching every sad place inside of me, it was time to go."