Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Birth of a Nation

Posted: March 10, 2015 in Current Events, Race Matters

imageRacism is like that crazy uncle who lives on the top floor of the house and his family brings him dinner on a tray and leaves it on the floor and then knocks and runs back downstairs. That uncle is up there doing what crazy uncles do, and the family pretends he doesn’t exist, and the family NEVER acknowledges “unc” in public cuz everybody knows crazy uncle is alive and well and crazy.

Remaining oblivious on purpose is awkward but it quickly becomes normal. Until one day someone IMPORTANT decides they “NEED TO LOOK INTO” the fact that someone is harboring a crazy uncle on their premises.

Yeah, sometimes racism is like that. Some folks try to pretend it doesn’t exist.

When the video of the University of Oklahoma frat KKK kids sang their little new millennia Birth Of a Nation team spirit song, America got outraged. A lot of Black people did the slow blink. The collective national white shock and anger about overt racist issues often over-shadows the voicing of  the everyday slights and injustices that people of color live with on a constant basis. When a black person complains, its “pulling the race card.”

It’s a good, and interesting thing to see the outrage of white America when racist events are publicized. I know they wonder why our reactions vary from wild fury to indifference. I bet they’re dying to ask their one black friend who they only see at work:

“Hey how come Black people aren’t more angry about this fraternity thing?!?!?”

“Well, white people, you gotta understand we’re STILL furious from two incidences ago and Ferguson still stings and Trayvon’s not yet a distant memory and there’s Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, he was only 12 you know. We’re trying to decide if it’s safer keep our children off the streets and lock our sons in the basement till they’re about 40. We’re processing ANOTHER teen just recently being gunned down by police and we’re trying not to do a weekly body count because that’s just too frightening.  We still think about how Marissa Alexander was jailed for three years for trying to stand her ground, which we heard was a law in Florida. What’s that you say? She was finally released? The ish shouldn’t have happened in the first place.  So forgive us if we’re not throwing furniture and as shocked as you are because some privileged fraternity children do what we know people do when they think no one’s going to find out. This is the racism WE know exists that YOU try to pretend is a thing of the past. WE ARE ANGRY, but not surprised.”

The Ferguson Report was finally released and national outrage erupted because someone decided to finally “LOOK INTO” the rampant racism that people of color knew was there all along. We shall see what steps are taken to rectify the situation there. It’s fascinating how often issues like these are not considered “valid” until the situation is “studied” and then recognized by non-blacks.

I’d really like an explanation about this so-called post racial color blind nation that idealists like to pretend exists?  What the hell does post racial mean anyway, and when was the birth date? Was it November 4th 2008 A.O. (after Obama)? How about November 6th, 2012 A.O.II (second election) cuz that REALLY upset a lot of folks who couldn’t believe a brother got voted in again.

This crap is exhausting.

 

 

SELMA

Posted: January 13, 2015 in Current Events, General Interest, Race Matters

 

This is an open request – PLEASE GO SEE SELMA.

I know you have reasons why you might not go.image

To all those who lament “why do we have to keep telling these depressing stories?” I feel you. But as long as there are those who don’t know their history, or who prefer to learn their history from fictitious movies told by those who re-write history for their own commercial gain, new movies still need to get made. If you went to see D’jango, then you really need to have yourself in a seat watching Selma.

To those who can’t go to see these kinds of movies because they’re so raw, sometimes brutal, and often disturbing, I’m feeling you too. But as hard as those scenes are to watch, those are just actors, imagine how painful it was to actually experience it. So put on a couple of pair of “extra strength big girl panties” or “man up.” Knowledge is power, inspiration, and fuels appreciation for all that has preceded us.

Many say “I don’t want to see it cuz it’ll just make me mad.” I’m SO feeling you too, but you know what? You’re probably already mad about something racial; you might as well learn more of your history, so you can get that anger more focused and specific. Yes I agree with you, PLENTY of events have happened lately to be absolutely furious about.

Selma is a movie that elevates the usual civil rights movie to a higher level, including the important contributions of John Lewis, and the inclusion of the participation of Bayard Rustin.

I was six years old when the four little girls were killed in the 16th Street church bombing in Birmingham Alabama. Children are like sponges, absorbing much more than they can comprehend, I knew Alabama was way “Down South,” but I still felt scared when I watched reports of the bombing on the news, and saw the pictures in Life and Ebony magazines.  I remember seeing voting booths (which used to be enormous and had an actual curtain for privacy) at my elementary school; I thought everyone got to vote. I thought it really sucked that the people “Down South” couldn’t vote. Watching Selma yesterday brought back many memories.

If I can’t convince you, perhaps listening to Director Ava Duvernay’s interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross will help. Mz Duvernay is THE FIRST black woman EVER nominated for best director by the Golden Globes, no she didn’t win, but her skills are superlative.

Or maybe reading an excerpt from Malcom X’s last speech on February 14, 1965, here in Detroit at Ford Auditorium will help convince you.

 …Every time you pick up your newspaper, you see where one of these things has written into it that I’m advocating violence. I have never advocated any violence… I saw in the paper where they — on the television where they took this Black woman down in Selma, Alabama, and knocked her right down on the ground, dragging her down the street. You saw it, you’re trying to pretend like you didn’t see it ’cause you knew you should’ve done something about it and didn’t. It showed the sheriff and his henchmen throwing this Black woman on the ground — on the ground.

And Negro men standing around doing nothing about it saying, “Well, let’s overcome them with our capacity to love.” What kind of phrase is that? “Overcome them with our capacity to love.” And then it disgraces the rest of us, because all over the world the picture is splashed showing a Black woman a with some white brutes, with their knees on her holding her down, and full-grown Black men standing around watching it. Why, you are lucky they let you stay on earth, much less stay in the country.

When I saw it I dispatched a wire to Rockwell; Rockwell was one of the agitators down there, Rockwell, this [George] Lincoln Rockwell [leader of the American Nazi Party].

And the wire said in essence that this is to warn him that I am no longer held in check from fighting white supremacists by Elijah Muhammad’s separatist ‘Black Muslim’ movement. And that if Rockwell’s presence in Alabama causes harm to come to Dr. King or any other Black person in Alabama who’s doing nothing other than trying to enjoy their rights, then Rockwell and his Ku Klux Klan friends would be met with maximum retaliation from those of us who are not handcuffed by this nonviolent philosophy. And I haven’t heard from Rockwell since.”

Malcolm never got the opportunity to honor his pledge of protection, he was killed one week after that speech.

I’m so geeked to drum up support for Selma, I pledge to go again with anybody who needs a movie hostess. Last year I was so excited about Fruitvale Station I saw it four times. I saw The Butler three times, and 12 Years a Slave twice. Then I wrote a post begging people to support all three.

Hollywood’s usual lame excuse for lack of funding and support of good black movies is that Black audiences don’t always go to see them. Please help prove them wrong. If you wait for it to come to cable and plan to catch it On Demand, you’re not buying a ticket and that’s one less body in a seat at the theater.

No Justice No Peace Part 3

Posted: August 12, 2014 in Current Events

Updated August 12, 2014

I posted this a little over a year ago. I was angry about the sense of injustice that permeated the United States last summer. There have been multiple shootings and violence against People of Color again this summer. In response, I’m republishing last year’s post, a satire on the Black Codes many of us know and live by/with. We don’t like them, but we know them well. As I said in a previous post, “Black boys are not decoys for target practice.” I offer it  for your consideration.

 

Originally published July 15, 2013

Official Complexion Behavior Manifesto

Important information for African American People of Color (POC) for surviving successfully while navigating the planet with those who are colorless

cp_i_am_a_man_original_medium(POC) Men

You MAY as often as possible:

Be subservient and obedient including when in the presence of those who have no authority and/or are much younger than you

Be cheerful

Be humble

Be peaceful

Be helpful

Be modest

Be as non threatening as possible even if you’re in a threatening situation

If you’re tall make yourself  small, if you’re small make yourself smaller

Wear non descript clothes, so you’ll be easier to accuse and identify, because you will be perceived as a suspect just because you exist

Present yourself as someone who is there to serve others and make their life easier

Appear as if you don’t have any personal needs

Smile constantly as if you never have any concerns.  Show your teeth A LOT

Act eternally grateful when someone expresses surprise and complements you by saying “You’re so articulate!” Be sure to appear that it’s the nicest compliment you’ve EVER received, and that you’ve never heard that before

Act like you enjoy being stared at, especially if the person has a dismissive or disdainful expression and attitude

DO NOT STARE BACK

Pretend that you don’t know what the words disagree, rebel, or anger mean

Specific for young male (POC) ages 12-25:

Do not:

Walk alone on public streets

Walk in groups of 2 or more

Ride in cars alone

Ride in cars with 2 or more

Put your hands in your pockets

Take your hands out of your pockets

Reach for your cell phone (to the uneducated, all cell phones look like guns)

If your parents live in a “nice” neighborhood:

Walk the streets of that neighborhood

Ride in a car on those neighborhood streets

Be advised you may not EVER be able to get home on neighborhood streets if you leave the house, without experiencing extremely dangerous consequences up to and including death (for which you will be blamed)  It is highly recommended that all young male POC ages 18-25 remain indoors in the center of the home away from windows until protective measures guaranteeing their safety have been developed.  Please be advised that navigating the planet in any public capacity puts YOU AT GRAVE RISK at all times. Please be advised that unfortunately,  protective measures have yet to be fully developed or effectively implemented during the last three centuries. Black boys are not decoys for target practice.

10-african-american-women-backbone-of-boycott-copy(POC) Women

You MAY as often as possible:

Be positive

Be sassy but only in a non combative, entertaining way

Present yourself as someone who is there to serve others and make their life easier

Appear as if you don’t have any personal needs

Find a way to appear incredibly unrealistically strong, yet super passive and non intimidating

Be seen as sexy even if it’s inappropriate to the situation

Be open and accepting to being overtly disrespected and sexualized

Smile constantly as if you never have any concerns. Show your teeth A LOT

Act eternally grateful when someone expresses surprise and complements you by saying “You’re so articulate!” Be sure to appear that it’s the nicest compliment you’ve EVER received, and that you’ve never heard that before

Pretend that you don’t know what the words disagree, rebel, or anger mean

Let anyone and everyone touch your hair, especially if they don’t first ask permission, and be sure to act like you like it

Never ask to touch their hair

Act like you enjoy being stared at, especially if the person has a dismissive or disdainful expression and attitude

DO NOT STARE BACK

Pretend that you don’t know what the words disagree, rebel, or anger mean

For female POC who are mothers:

If you are a mom, be prepared to feel perpetually anxious, helpless, hopeless and hopeful about the safety of your children, particularly if they are young male POC. Be hyper vigilant AT ALL TIMES.  Although this may put your health and your relationship with your children at risk, at least you’ll feel that you’re taking some kind of action. Be so strict that your children can barely breath, hover so close that they can’t move, AS LONG AS THEY ARE SAFE

NO JUSTICE NO PEACERules For Traumatic  Situations All POC:

When faced with injustice of any kind – PEACEFUL, PASSIVE REACTIONS ARE MANDATORY!!!!!

Note: expressing any emotion other than the above will be subject to censorship, will evoke fear and surprise, and will elicit smug “I told you so” reactions.

When reacting to the death of a Person of Color and the possible victimization or criminalization of said deceased person, WAIT UNTIL AN OFFICIAL PERSON OF COLOR REPRESENTATIVE (who is expected to speak for ALL PEOPLE OF COLOR) is interviewed, and they will tell you how you’re supposed to feel, then take immediate steps to feel and act that way

Cultivate a noble persona

Never raise your left eyebrow, clench your jaw or fist, or roll your eyes when you hear the media act surprised as they report that some POC openly expressed anger or even worse, obvious rage at any perceived injustice.

NOTE: Rage is unacceptable

Suspect and accept injustice especially if its obviously of a racial nature.

NEVER point out that perceived injustice is of a racial nature (no matter how obvious)

Whenever injustice and/or anything negative of a racial matter happens, NO MATTER HOW HORRIFIC, expect to be advised to “do something positive” as your reaction

Do not EVER voice emotions that may be perceived as aggressively non compliant, you will be permanently labeled controversial, regardless of the validity of the issue.

The above policies should be posted and kept accessible, all adults must have the above policies committed to memory and followed completely by the age of 18-NO EXCEPTIONS.   Parents are required to incorporate the complete Complexion Behavior Manifesto into your families’ Home Training sessions.   Random Attitude Testing Is Now In effect.

Failure to comply is not an option-your life could depend on this.

Shades

Posted: April 28, 2014 in Current Events, General Interest

image Here’s the deal:

Who do we grant permission to define and affirm our beauty? Who do we allow the privledge  of determining the opinion of the reflection we see? Is the space in print and digital media so purposely limited when it comes to covering non white beauty, that  journalists of a certain pale hue limit their choice to a very few or just one, and then write about the newly annointed one like dark skinned beauty was just invented? Suddenly popular, desirable, and attention worthy.

This need by the press, to over-hype a single icon is annoying. I’ve been  debating with myself for months on how to share this perspective without it sounding like a rant, a whine, or Lupita hateration. This post is none of those things (okay, maybe a little bit ranty). I’ve been watching the trajectory of Mz Goddess Nyong’o since  I saw “Twelve years a Slave,” and the beginning of awards season. I cheer and wear my “We Love Lupita” team jacket and my pride and admiration for her continues to grow with each new achievement.

I’ve done multiple posts on her. She’s poised, well spoken, humble, yet cosmopolitan. She seems grounded with the ability to stay above the constant attention and not get blinded by the glare of her new found celebrity. I’ve adopted her as my global daughter. Felicidades mija! Lupita gives a voice to girls and women who look like her, who’ve often been relegated  to the outskirts of what’s considered beautiful. Her Essence  and Academy Award speeches were the ultimate truth, and left me twisting a wet hanky, moving me with her raw honesty. She was recently named People Magazine’s Most Beautiful Person, and journalists are in full swoon.

As I champion Lupita’s success and the sudden demand and popularity for her visual aesthetic, the frenzy from the media is jarring. Yes, her look is unique when compared to the typical Eurocentric definition of beauty, and perhaps there’s more interest because she’s international, but truthfully, brown women from all corners of the globe have been beautiful for centuries, since before there were mirrors, since forever. Go any place where there are enough Black women and you’ll see a wall of 100% chocolate good looks. All shades, shapes, heights, ages, natural hair, locs, heads shaved, or fluffy kinks, permed, dyed fried, weaved, twisted, and woven.  Full of class and feminine swag. Clothes worn expertly tapered,  because why not show that shape, no matter the size. Stunning, attractive, exquisite, impressive, fine, flawless, pretty, statuesque, petite, eye-catching, adorable, traffic-stopping, brick house, amazon, picturesque, ravishing, fierce, WERKING deep ebony realness. As I celebrate Lupita, I celebrate all the everyday home grown lovelies, whose beauty continues to unfortunately be overlooked, and for whom acceptance is long overdue. All beautiful. PERIOD.

 

The Right of First Refusal

Posted: February 16, 2014 in Current Events

imageI refuse to step over the bodies of young black boys shot dead in Florida
I refuse to wash away the blood that was shed
I refuse to wipe away the tears
I refuse to CALM DOWN
I refuse the advice that anger won’t help the situation
I refuse to COMPREHEND the fact that a child was killed over “LOUD MUSIC
I refuse to FORGET the fact that a child was killed over “LOUD MUSIC
I refuse to accept the fact that this keeps happening over and over

I refuse to be numb to the fact that once again justice was NOT served and a man WAS convicted for attempting second-degree murder for attempting to kill three young men who fortunately survived, but was NOT convicted for the obvious murder he did commit

I refuse to accept the fact that crime scene investigators did NOT find  weapons of ANY KIND  in the vehicle occupied by the victims; nothing, NOTHING, nothing resembling a shotgun, handgun, sidearm, piece, gat, or heater, YET the killer claimed self-defense

I refuse to accept the fact that young Black men are an endangered species

Black boys are not decoys for target practice

The life expectancy for young Black men in Florida has got to increase

Jordan Russell Davis was only 17

In Defense of “Lady Like”

Posted: January 30, 2014 in Current Events

Tina+TurnerI’ve been thinking a lot lately about women’s role models and the barrage of Internet/media driven images that bombard young ladies today.

I didn’t blog when Miley Cyrus did her public parade of poorly executed twerking, and social media lit up like a Christmas tree. I didn’t see much point to commenting, although I was amused by the fact that a well-known, ancient stripper move now had an official name, and everyone acted like the child had invented it, and for a minute, we all lived in “Twerk Nation.”

I didn’t blog about the fact that young white performers seem to think adopting/co opting black culture is the ticket to their success.

I didn’t blog about the fact that the original hip shaker, Mz Tina Turner, whose stagewear barely covered her cookie jar, and whose big, pretty legs were insured by Lloyd’s of London would never be caught twerking in public.  We’re all familiar with her superlative rump shaking skills, yet she somehow managed to escape looking trampy. Sure that was a long time ago, and I know I shouldn’t live in the past, and “Shannyn just move on” and things change but…

I wasn’t even gonna blog about Beyoncé’s Grammy performance with her husband who actually joined her onstage wearing a tux. Jay Z was creeping around like an old man, adding his stamp of approval to her lackluster overly sexualized performance. It didn’t bother me that it was hypersexual, it WAS Beyoncé after all. What was striking to me was how boring it was and the firestorm of feedback that resulted. Many were offended by her choreography, and the subject matter of the song. I wondered why  people were finally getting upset. Some people were  just fed up.

She was really no more sexual than any of Janet Jackson’s or Rihanna’s, or even Madonna’s early performances, or even Prince when he wore his see-through pants. What’s puzzling  is that the woman who used to sing about how “Girls Run the World” is NOW mostly singing about how sex runs her life. It’s logical that a performer who has been in the game since she was a teenager doesn’t feel compelled to continue to be an example for young girls. I just wonder who’s her demographic of choice now? A lot of moms are dismayed about the example Beyoncé is setting, but my dears, seriously, if you’re depending on Mrs. Carter to be a role model for your daughters, you need to go look in the mirror, and hopefully make sure you’re being the best you can be when little eyes are watching.

Beyonce’ is a mom herself now, and fortunately her daughter is still too young to understand that mommy and daddy were up on stage proclaiming to the world how much mommy likes to ride “daddy’s surfboard.” Beyonce claims her new album celebrates feminism, and one song even includes an audio clip from my favorite author Chimamanda Ngozi’s TED talk on feminism. But feminism is much more than just owning  your sexual power,  and throwing it around like a weapon. You can’t  let that be your only calling card. What else are you bringing to the party?

tumblr_lztbusENvH1qjx5b2o1_500Black female role models used to come from TV, the movies, and Jet and Ebony magazine. Sounds quaint doesn’t it? Who do impressionable young girls and teenagers look to now as examples of how to shape their own image? The Real Housewives of this and that, music videos, etc. Digital images are so readily accessible, young kids can watch porn on their cell phones, and young women constantly receive mixed messages about their beauty, and desirability, and what they should do with it.

Nowadays, conducting oneself like a lady, is considered old-fashioned, prissy, corny, and unnecessary, which is a scary thought. Being lady like is becoming  a lost art. Men often tend to treat women based on how they see women treating and conducting themselves. If the strongest message of your self definition is your sexuality, don’t get mad if the only place he takes you is to bed. So what kinda treatment do young women think they’re gonna receive by posting YouTube clips of themselves  twerking like their  life depends on it? Or running around in club wear in the middle of the day in dresses so short they’re practically showing their “good china.” It’s not always appropriate to have your face made up way past flawless, tipping across the line toward porn star face. Young ladies are under so much pressure on how to define their looks, natural hair vs. weaves. Their mom’s rules vs. what’s popular at school. Raging out of control hormones. Ugh, no wonder kids are so confused.

Ladies, if anyone ever accuses you of being too prissy, or gets annoyed and says you’re much too lady like, just say “thank you” and consider it a compliment.

imagesThree movies, three different critical points in time, one major unique similarity. All three movies about Black men, were directed and championed by three visionary Black men. Ryan Coogler, Lee Daniels, and Steve McQueen.

Three film makers who humanized issues and told three-dimensional stories,  giving us a view of history  from their side of the lens. Telling our own stories has always been the best way to deliver the message of who and why we are.

No, we’re not obligated to attend these movies, and you may  not even like them, but good Black directors deserve support. All three movies provided a “back story” about the lives of three men and their role in history past and present.

To all those who lament “why do we have to keep telling these depressing stories?” I feel you. But as long as there are those who don’t know their history, or who prefer to learn their history from fictitious movies of slavery told by those who re-write history for their own commercial gain, new movies still need to get made.To those who can’t go to see these movies because they’re so raw, sometimes brutal, and often disturbing, I’m feeling you too. But think about this, if you can’t watch it on film, then please go read about it, think about it, know about it, learn about it. Knowledge is power, inspiration, and fuels appreciation for all that has preceded us. Many say “I don’t want to see it cuz it’ll just make me mad.” I’m SO feeling you too, but you know what? You’re probably already mad about something racial; you might as well learn more of your history, so you can get that anger more focused and specific.

Unknown-1Many didn’t/couldn’t see Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station” because it was so soon after Trayvon Martin’s death. Many felt like a painful, walking open wound, but if you’d seen the movie, you would have seen the last 24 hours in the life of a young man who the director humanized, and elevated from his “senseless tragic death of a young black man status” to a young man with a full yet often troubled life who had people who loved him, as he deserved.

Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” was shunned by many because the time period was one so full of the institutional racism that ran rampant for those in the service industry. We forget that maids, chauffeurs, railcar porters, mail carriers, were the middle class of the day during the 40’s 50’s and 60’s.  To see the men in the back room of the White House just being themselves, and seeing what was behind the mask of the serene “always ready to serve butler” was awesome. To see the lead character go home, to watch the struggles within his own family, and his ultimate reconciliation with his son was touching. His willingness to finally embrace the cause of civil rights, highlighted the conflicted two worlds those in service professions had to inhabit, and the code-switching that was, and is still so automatic.

images-1Think of the year 1853, 12 years before the 13th Amendment ended slavery, and what was depicted in Steve McQueen’s  “12 Years a Slave”, and then  examine our current racial/cultural tension, and ponder the intersection of the then and now 160 years later. Lots of progress has been made, but in a lot of ways we’re all still running in place. The differences in social classes, status, suspicion, interdependence of cultures, uneasy co- existence, the feeling of existing under a truce or a treaty, etc. Now think about “12 years” again. This is a movie that unraveled the very fabric of slavery 46 years after the 1807 Act banning importation of slaves to the United States. That didn’t stop the trade, it was just perfected. It takes all that’s ugly and doesn’t try to dress it up. It showed the humanity, the cruelty, the depravity, and the will to survive. No excuses, no apologies.

Even if you pick only one of these flicks to support, I hope you feel it’s worth the time and the emotional energy you may expend in the aftermath, processing what you viewed. No, the movies aren’t perfect, no movie is, but I wanted to emphasize the positives to try to push you into seeing them.

OK, I’ve almost grown back my huge 70’s afro, and have gone completely too deep into Black Studies mode. I’ll step down off my soap box before I fall off.  Just wanted to give you a lil more to think about.

If you do see any of these movies, come back and comment, I’ll be curious to hear what you thought. Even if you totally disagree with me, the best thing about an opinion, is that we all get to have one.

Shannyn

Michelle+Obama+TRacy+Reese+March+Washington+8The commemorative Marches are over, the National Mall is clear, and the speeches have been dissected. Comparisons have been made about the state and progress of civil rights then and now. There were calls to action, words of encouragement, praise, and complaints of lack of inclusion.

Congressman John Lewis, is one of the remaining prominent figures to speak at the original March. In 1963 at the young age of 23, he was already a committed solider for civil rights. He was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and a Freedom Rider. He summed up his feelings and those of others the best when he tweeted on Thursday, “Sometimes I hear people say nothing has changed. Come walk in my shoes.” Imagine being age 23, the youngest speaker at the March 50 years ago.  I’m inspired by his perspective on the status of social justice today.

Two years after the March on Washington, Mr. Lewis suffered a fractured skull when he was struck in the head by police on “Bloody Sunday” during the March from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. According to Lewis, he was arrested 40 times during the fight for equality in the 60’s, and now at 73 years old, he’s still a fighter. More info on Mr Lewis here.

I’d had mixed feelings about all the hoopla this week. I had my own personal childhood memories of the March and wasn’t sure if the grand celebration would live up to the hype. I felt we should honor those who’ve made sacrifices for civil rights on an ongoing basis, not just on anniversaries. I was also torn by the fact that just like 50 years ago, in some ways, the progress of social justice still feels slow. Then I heard John Lewis’s words yesterday, on the radio, in a news story and stopped whining immediately.

Fifty years after the March on Washington we have the first African American President of the United States serving his second term. I can’t begin to imagine how that feels for those who were at the original March. To see Barack and Michelle Obama, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with the vast statue in shadow behind them reminds me of the enormity of the responsibility to stay committed and to continue to stay hopeful. The President’s speech is here.

We all know the 50th anniversary of The March on Washington is today. The day will be marked by speeches, reflections, appreciation by some, and innocent and not so innocent indifference by others. Relevant stats on the day are here.

I had just turned six that August, and my recollection of the many specifics of the March is vague but my memory of how I felt is still pretty vivid.  Long before the immediacy of the internet, news traveled slowly and much of TV was still in black and white.  I remember the excitement of all the adults, their admiration for Martin Luther King, and their suspicion of Malcolm X.

Kids weren’t nearly as sophisticated and informed as they are today. The biggest thing on my mind during the March was the injustice King and other Civil Rights leaders were fighting against. At six, I’d heard and seen enough news stories to know about racism, but I’d been pretty shielded. What I did know was the hardships for those in the South. George Wallace’s Inaugural Address where he’d proudly proclaimed “Segregation Now, Segregation Forever” had happened earlier that same year on January 14th, I wondered how he got away with talking so openly about segregation. The differences between the two regions, North and South seemed so vast to me that it seemed like we lived in two Americas. I remember being worried (I tended to be an anxious kid) that what was happening in the South, would somehow move North if the March on Washington, and King’s efforts failed. How could so few Southern states wield so much power.

Even at my young age, I knew the March was  a big deal. It was covered on TV, in black and white, and I was so amazed and impressed by the masses of people, all colors, and professions. I could feel the awesome galvanizing energy. The glamourous celebrities looking flawless in the Washington DC heat. I remember hoping everyone would be kept safe because violence and Civil Rights always seemed to coincide.  I wasn’t so sure about nonviolence; why would anybody let themselves get beat up on purpose? At age six, the whole thing was just too deep for me, I just didn’t “get” civil disobedience.

The March on Washington was in 1963, seven years after the 13 month Montgomery Bus Boycott made Rosa Parks an iconic symbol of equality. The Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery wouldn’t happen for two more years. In my six-year-old opinion, change was happening much too slowly, and I remember wondering why the President didn’t just make all the States obey the same laws. President John F. Kennedy would be assassinated three months later, that same year.

I wondered why it was OK for segregation, discrimination and racism to co-exist so easily. I may have only been six, but the whole thing just seemed totally, ridiculously,  unfair to me back then.

It still does.

#31WriteNow daily blog challenge-Day 28.

1b9f8301a4bd15acaecbceb2cc6a1a5dUPDATED: Facebook is not always your friend. Spend even 5 minutes there and you’ll come away with a rant list as long as your arm lol. Now friends are testing me by sending me rant-worthy information. Thanks for the help. I Love this challenge! I am defiantly going to NOT RANT for the rest of this month. I’m past the half way mark. I am winning this fight. YEAH BABY! I HAVE POSTED 19 BLOG ENTRIES ALMOST EVERY FREAKIN DAY!!!!!!!!!! Sorry about that, I know  that sounds hyper. I KNEW I could squeeze more posts out of this.

If you’ve already  read the original list posted last Monday, skip down to new additions to the list starting at #6. 

Due to the fact that I joined the #31WriteNow blogger’s challenge to post daily in August (it’s day 20), and then I decided to also try to keep this month rant free, I’ve had to resort to desperate measures.

Okay, I just gotta do this. Even my powerful Denzel vision of happiness couldn’t stop this. Soooo, I’m just gonna start this lil list of things I WOULD rant about if only I hadn’t sworn off ranting this month. HINT: I’ve discovered the joys of the sneak rant and the group rant on Facebook. LOVE IT! If you’re curious, about the information included in this post, click on any of the links below, and visit the articles, and then if you want, YOU CAN RANT FOR ME lol.

I know this list is might grow. So that means I can get updated multiple posts from it. That’ll help me with my 31 day posting challenge.

1. Kevyn Orr’s comments to the Wall street Journal have been written about on the blogs for Forbes magazine, and CBS news, and almost every Detroiter’s Facebook and Twitter page, and fortunately most follow-up articles from the media were sympathetic to the City, and not to Mr. Orr. Even the national media, which never passes up a chance to diss Detroit seemed to know that this was NOT the time to slam the City. I wanna say something about this soooo bad. But I’m NOT. I’ll just gently say (in a soft Captain Kangaroo reading to children voice) that it’s fascinating how this man so easily talks like some VERBALLY ABUSIVE PARENT, about The City he’s supposed to be taking care of .

2.Queen Oprah getting dissed in Switzerland This was interesting on a few levels, the fact that now that Oprah has re-embraced her ethnicity, (she’s got that natural hair look going and she’s in The Butler) and she got dissed, people’s reaction’s are so all over the map. Just because Ms O is more loaded than just about everybody on the planet doesn’t mean she’s always gonna get the treatment she and her money deserve. Racism and rudeness go hand in hand. I like the way she flexed her indignation about this.

3.Conservatives slamming Queen Oprah for having an opinion about Trayvon and Emmett Till. Of course, nobody really cares about what conservatives think, except other conservatives, but it’s interesting to me that the people who don’t even remotely understand what it’s like to navigate the planet day in and day out as a Person of Color, feel it’s appropriate to dictate, or even comment, how we’re supposed to feel. Not ranting, just commenting.

20130810-120059.jpg4.Trying not to rant is kinda HARD. I’m not ranting or whining, just stating a fact. It feels like my finger is always hovering over some pause and delete button in my brain, stopping every rant-filled thought that comes up. I now live in edit mode.

5.I don’t even think keeping a rant list is helpful-it’s not like I’m gonna go back and retroactively rant about these things later, like in September, when the rantless challenge is over.

6.New skank info on the halted Wayne County Jail project. Ugh-that’s all I’m gonna say.

7.Queen O’s Swiss purse drama continued, now the clerk is speaking out, but the real question, is she speaking the truth. What would the woman with one of the world’s largest wallet have to gain by making up a story about receiving racist treatment? Hmm. I’m not even a big Oprah fan, but this a prime example of how perpetrators of racist behavior try to turn-the-tables when they’re called out. Mz O got the last laugh. Her new movie opened #1 at the box office.

8. Mayor Bloomberg and his dismay about the recent censorship of his beloved “Stop and Frisk” law”. Check the link to read a heartbreaking personal account of a young man’s experience. The privileged class always navigates with the blind entitlement of “free movement”, and they have no idea what it’s like to be treated with constant suspicion. Bloomberg elaborated further by saying if he had sons, he might have a different opinion. I hope someone advises him to just not talk for a while. If I comment on this too much, the rant might not ever stop. This one hurts A LOT.

English: Dequindre Cut Detroit MI

English: Dequindre Cut Detroit MI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9.The lady that I saw last week in one of my ultimate favorite places, The Dequindre Cut, who pulled down her pants like she was at home in her powder room and decided that broad daylight up against the wall, down in the Cut, was the perfect time and place to relieve herself. I’m still traumatized by the audacity and tacky skankability of this. Then she turned to her friend who handed her back her lil two pound weights, and they proceeded to continue exercising their skanky way down to the River. There are no words to rationally discuss this . WHO DOES THIS??? This is just not done, in MY CUT! I wanted to say something but anybody who pees in public is very likely to jump my indignant self and I’m not much for fist fighting with someone about not sharing bathroom practices in public.

10.The Harriet Tubman so called “spoof” sextape that blew up this last week on YouTube, and the powerful collective outrage that blew right back at it on Social Media, including a change.org petition, thank you Black Twitter from the bottom of my unranting heart . Russell Simmons first heartily endorsed and then just as quickly renounced the video. Does lots of money make you dumb? Let’s call it “suffering from big paper disease“. I didn’t put a link here cuz I didn’t want anyone’s eyes to be disrespected by the visual insult. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE THIS MONTH?

11. Centipedes-Why? Really? Seriously, what purpose do these, hideous things serve other than to creep me out every time I see one? Why is my house so full of em? Not ranting just forceful observation.

12.Low Winter Sun, a new TV series set in Detroit, that even filmed in my townhouse complex bringing 15 semis, and techs and film crew scurrying around. Why make another show that makes Detroit look awful, with mostly awful people, awful plot lines, unlikable characters, and B list actors when we can just watch the news? This is how the media depicts the City everyday. I’m just curious who thought this show was a good idea.

OK I know I’m easing my way toward a full on rant. I will stop here for now. I will think pleasant thoughts. I will not rant,  I will not…

Acupuncture. Deep breath . Asante sana…