Night Beauty Speaks

Posted: March 1, 2014 in General Interest

My fantasy daughter Lupita Nyong’o was recently awarded the Best Breakthrough Performance Award, for her role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon.  Her acceptance speech was moving, enlightening, and honest. Her speech sends a positive message to women who feel they never fit any traditional standard of beauty because of the shade of their complexion.  She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress last night  at the Oscars, and she has won the hearts of many young girls and woman with marginalized self esteem, who loathe their looks because they don’t conform to any ideal image. Here’s her speech:

image“I wrote down this speech that I had no time to practice so this will be the practicing session. Thank you Alfre, for such an amazing, amazing introduction and celebration of my work. And thank you very much for inviting me to be a part of such an extraordinary community. I am surrounded by people who have inspired me, women in particular whose presence on screen made me feel a little more seen and heard and understood. That it is ESSENCE that holds this event celebrating our professional gains of the year is significant, a beauty magazine that recognizes the beauty that we not just possess but also produce.
     I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: “Dear Lupita,” it reads, “I think you’re really lucky to be this black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”
     My heart bled a little when I read those words, I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.
I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before. I tried to negotiate with God, I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted, I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.
     And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no conservation, she’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then … Alek Wek. A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me, when I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty. But around me, the preference for my skin prevailed, to the courters that I thought mattered I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.
     And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away.
     And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.
There is no shade to that beauty.”
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Guest Blogger Melinda Christine Johnson is a daughter, sister, aunt, Church of Christ member, independent MakeUp Artist, poetry writer, juicer, goal setter, lover of love who is on the best journey of her life. Here is her story:

imageI have spent a great deal of time running from my image in any mirror.  Especially the one in my bathroom.  When I moved to and from the shower, I wouldn’t allow my eyes to view my naked body.  One day, January 2013, while drying off I decided to look.  As I continued to dry the water from my skin I noticed the water falling from my eyes.  I wondered how did I get here? Why did I let it go this far?  Many answers whirled around in my mind but I didn’t focus on just one.  I knew something had to change.  I decided to join my good friends, Sheila and Jeff, on their healthy journey.  They had started during the summer of 2013.

January 7, 2013 was the day that I started working out.  I would walk from work to the gym and mentally dedicate 20 minutes on the treadmill but my arthritic knees had a much different agenda. I would get frustrated with myself for not doing the 20 minutes on the treadmill.  Due to knee pain and inflammation, I generally lasted 10 minutes.  I tried to make up the difference on the bike but that too would be painful.  So I would walk back to work feeling defeated, not giving myself credit for walking to and from the gym in pain but doing SOMETHING at the gym. It was much more activity than I was doing prior to.  I also started working out with my friends Pam and Crystal at a bootcamp that they attended.  I would go with them every Friday.

In February, I  joined an amazing group called Run This Town (RTT). It is a group of professionals and aspiring professionals who network and workout together twice a week.  My good friend, Shawn Blanchard is the co-founder and Jeff had been attending since the summer.  Originally, I would work out in the back because there were so many of the moves that I couldn’t do, but eventually worked my way up to working out in the center, then close to the front.  This group has been an important part of my journey.  The people are beyond supportive.  Where can you workout, get your sweat on and have fun, all for free?  Nowhere but with RTT.  With Run This Town, I saw a change in my figure and my energy.

My workouts were limited because of knee pain, so I sought out help from an orthopedic surgeon.  He sent me for x-rays and after viewing the results, told me that I would need surgery.  The first surgery would include  removing debris from my knee and seeing what type of damage there was to repair. I informed him my limitations with working out, and the constant knee pain I experienced at night that affected my sleep for a few weeks.  He gave me a shot in my knee and scheduled me for surgery.  The date was to be December 17, 2013.

In the latter part of October, I reached out to a local trainer, Aaron Scott and he would bring me to another level.  I started personal training with him once a week.  Not only did he give me a serious workout, he instructed me to change my eating habits.  He introduced me to the world of Paleo, which I am currently practicing.  He put me on a 45-day Paleo challenge, and a 21-day challenge after that.  Now I must admit that I went kicking and screaming.  The challenge was to start on November 1.  My mind was racing.  He told me I had to give up: alcohol, dairy, wheat, pasta and bread. Now before the challenge, I would drink coffee every morning with flavored creamer in my cup. Hell it was more creamer than coffee. I didn’t know how to process all this but I knew I had to do it.  For two reasons, I have seen the results of his work , and I was paying for his services.  He informed me that dairy causes inflammation and that was most of the problem with my knee.  So off started our journey.  A journey that would prove to be very challenging and rewarding.

I followed Paleo to the letter. Paleo forced me to come out of my “food box” and explore so many other things. Not only did I watch my waistline get smaller I also noticed the decrease in my knee pain. The decrease was so major that I cancelled my knee surgery. Now before canceling I consulted with the ortho surgeon about my weight loss and new eating habits and he gladly cancelled my surgery.  To date, my knee pain has been very minimal.  I can do more things that I have ever done.  One of the things that I can do now  that I simply love, is purchase clothes at Flo Boutique.  I have been shopping at Flo’s for accessories for about a year or two but I could not really fit the clothes.  Now I get ultra excited when I walk in and I am greeted by Sheila or Felicia and they are showing me new things to try on.  I find so much love and encouragement from other patrons as well: Sharon, Kizzie and Donna.

Over the last two months I have added some additional challenges.  My first challenge started with the wonderful ladies of Go!Smoothies, the website is  here, and I partnered with a good girlfriend, Diviniti, on this journey.  Today we are on day 28 of the juice cleanse.  Go!Smoothies provides fresh coldpressed juices that are not only full of nutrients and goodness but they taste delicious. For the month of February I started a Vegan challenge: 28 days vegan.  This is truly a challenge because I want to incorporate paleo as well.   Vegans, eat some sugars, bread and pasta. Those have been a no no for me.  I started my journey at 278 and currently I am 239.  My goal weight is between 180 and 150 so I have a ways to go.  But I know that I have come a long way as well.  I am truly excited about this journey and all that it has brought me.  I have been gifted many things: money, a book on paleo, a juicer, a one month membership and an abundance of support. I am truly living in a happy place.

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

imageLupita Nyong’o is the new “It Girl” darling of Hollywood. The fashion world is obsessed with her and doesn’t hesitate to describe her in the same breathy tones the French used to use to describe African-American ex patriots that fled to Paris during the Harlem renaissance. They’re absolutely mesmerized by her, and they’re convinced she’s so exotic; as if a talking peacock rang the doorbell and announced they’d arrived for tea.

She’s always described as poised and articulate, in multiple languages. Born in Mexico to Kenyan parents, she was educated in the United States. Her Spanish is as flawless as her fashion sense. She carries herself elegantly like royalty, yet she’s only 30 years old.

Lupita is a graduate of the  Yale University School of Drama acting program.

It’s bittersweet that some of the media are most obsessed with her complexion and fashion sense, and not the merits of her acting ability.

How ironic that the daughter of a diplomat had to portray a field hand, to be recognized by Hollywood for her superior abilities. Imagine how difficult it was to play Patsey, a slave whose major claim to fame was that she picked more cotton than a man, and had to endure the nickname “Queen of the Fields”. Patsey’s other jobs were sexual vessel at the whim of her master, and to be the object of the sadistic jealousy of her mistress.

Mz Lupita is an ebony skinned beauty who gravitates towards bright, bold colors that set off her glowing skin. Colors that dark skinned women used to be warned to avoid: “Girl don’t you dare buy that bright yellow dress. You know you’re way too black for those loud colors.” I hereby order the women who are still clinging to that joy stealing idea to SHUT UP, and rotate 180 degrees towards that wall in the corner, and stay there. Ladies, lets all wear colors so bright we put the sun out of business.

She won the Screen Actors guild and Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. We hold our breath and cross our collective fingers for the Oscars.  I swoon in approval.

This girl is the brown-skinned truth!

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

Mz Carroll’s Coded Message

Posted: September 24, 2013 in General Interest, Scandal

20130923-170718.jpgTwo acting icons, one old, one new, stood on stage Sunday night at the Emmy’s. Both WERKED their age appropriate collective fierceness. Both brought a level a class and elegance to the stage. Both recognized the significance of their presence at the event.

Mz Diahann stood off to the side of the mic, waiting for Mz Kerry to introduce her.

Then Lady Di stunned the director in the control booth by whipping out a lil folded piece of paper with a speech so full of coded messages to Black viewers you would have thought she was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It just didn’t seem like a scripted part of the show, and probably wasn’t on the Teleprompter. When she spoke about how TV has come a long way, what she meant was that it’s been 50 years since she was first nominated, and did not win, and a black female still has not won in the lead actress drama category. When she joked about how male costars are better looking now, and her co star in ’68 was Lloyd Nolan, what she meant was just because Kerry got to roll around and have TV sex almost every week, on national TV in 2013, HER male costar was an old man so there would be no risk of the appearance of interracial hanky panky. What these two woman have in common is that  neither one of them have  yet to be recognized for their ground breaking performances.

Here’s what’s different. “Julia” was a nurse so beautiful and alluring that the show did everything it could to de-sexualize her in order to sell her to the masses. She worked as a trained professional, not a maid, she lived in the suburbs. She didn’t even have a husband, she was the widow of a pilot who got shot down in Vietnam. A black hubby would’ve meant that 1968 TV would have had to show a loving, intact, black family from the suburbs,  openly showing each other affection.  She did get a boyfriend, Fred Williamson’s swaggy self, but he came later. I LOVED JULIA, at eleven years old I thought everything about that show was fabulous. I probably watched all 89 episodes.

Mz Pope in 2013,  has been hypersexualized, so alluring that even the fictitious Prez of United States can’t resist her. They can barely be in the same room without setting the seats on fire. “Look America, we’re having hot interracial sex on national TV.” I LOVE SCANDAL, I love everything about the show and think it’s fabulous. The clothes, the plots, the way Olivia stares a person down and “reads them for filth”, Fitz, and more Fitz, but in the episode where Olivia looked Fitzgerald Grant dead in his handsome irresistible face and told him “I’m feeling very Sally Hemmings here,” we all knew exactly what she meant.

Since Mz Carroll was a presenter, announcing and handing out an award that she would never receive, there was NO WAY the director could have cued the “shut it down and get off our stage” music they so rudely play when people take too long at the mic. So I bet there was a ton of fretting and sweating up in the control booth while they wondered how long her probable impromptu speech would go on. I would have paid to see them squirm; how do you silence an acting icon who is up there TELLING AMERICA THE TRUTH? Ha you don’t.

Mz Caroll was the FIRST EVER person of color of either gender to be nominated for an Emmy in 1963, for a guest roll in the miniseries Naked City. Six years later, she was nominated for best actress lead in a comedy, for her role in Julia. Complete stats for People of Color and the Emmys, are here. Notice I didn’t say winner. Here’s what’s the same. There has NEVER been a black female winner in the best dramatic lead actress category in 65 freakin years of Emmys. We’ve won sporadically in other categories, but never for best actress lead in a drama. SERIOUSLY, it’s 2013, so I get to use my favorite saying: WE ARE STILL GOING BACK TO THE FUTURE!

So Mz Caroll got to have her say, and Mz Washington got to stand there thinking “YESSSSS Aunt Diahann, TEACH,  you better put it on em.  Whoa, and thank you very much.” Since Mz Carroll has spent multiple decades on the world stage, she did what she knew Kerry Washington could not, she gave her protege the gift of a public service announcement on the sorry state of lack of inclusion in Hollywood. Sure she didn’t make it overly controversial, you had to listen for what was unsaid. At 78 Diahann Carroll can say whatever she wants, she could have also batted her fluffy false eyelashes, and told the Emmy voting panel to kiss her shiny 1962 Tony award, and her 1968 Golden Globe (for Julia), but she’s too much a lady to sink that low.

Kerry didn’t win, but like all actors of color, ANY color, she makes a damn good presenter.

She’s the first black actress since 1995 (do the math) to be nominated in her category. Notice how almost two decades were skipped before one of us was nominated again?

Black viewers are crushed, but not surprised. People are calling for boycotts, but Hollywood hasn’t really changed in 75 years. Ever since the 40’s and 50’s when Black actors took the role of chauffeur, or maid, actors have to take whatever work they can get. Sure some can be selective when they can afford it, but everyone in Hollywood doesn’t  have  that luxury. Black Hollywood also can’t afford to blatantly boycott, and throw themselves under the mainstream awards show bus.

In the mean time, I’m going to stomp around and be mad on their behalf, and continue to bow down to these two.

20130923-170704.jpg

They are beyond fierce!

Survived Car Crash. Killed by Cop.

Posted: September 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

I wanted to blog about this but, Jeff Winbush’s blog The Domino Theory really “makes it plain.”

Zero Tolerance For Silence

Remember when you were in school and Officer Friendly came to class and told you , “the police officer is your friend?”

Some are. Some aren’t.

Sometimes you can’t tell until it’s too late.

A North Carolina police officer who authorities say fatally shot an unarmed man as he sought assistance after he crashed his vehicle early Saturday morning has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the man’s death.

Authorities in Charlotte say former Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University football player Jonathan Ferrell appears to have crashed his car down an embankment about 2:30 a.m. and then knocked on the door of a nearby residence shortly after looking for help.

The homeowner opened the door thinking it was her husband. When she realized it was 24-year-old Ferrell – a stranger – she closed the door and called 911, according to reports.

When officers arrived, they found Ferrell a short distance…

View original post 1,723 more words

Phones-Down, Hands-Off

Posted: September 9, 2013 in General Interest

20130906-203902Senator John McCain was recently caught playing digital poker during a critical Senate hearing on possible United States involvement in Syria. What’s interesting was his reaction. He didn’t care enough to apologize, he actually seemed proud about the fact that he obviously wasn’t  paying attention.

The developing crisis in Syria has effected hundreds of civilians with Doctors Without Borders reporting up to 355 deaths due to poisonous gas. This sounds kinda important right? Like something pretty serious right?

Yet Mr McCain, a decorated Navy veteran, who was also a POW, who is all too familiar with the horrors of war, figured his on-line poker game was more important than staying mentally present and engaged in the proceedings.

Proof positive of how easily we rely on virtual recreation even if it leads to rudeness, and disregard for the seriousness of chemical warfare.

I’ve sat through whole meetings, (sending sneak text messages to people across the room) been at the movies, and church services watching people text, play games, visit Facebook, tweet. Basically doing anything besides pay attention. Have you ever been talking face to face with something and just whip out your phone and start aimlessly digitizing? That’s pretty much the equivalent of opening a newspaper and holding it up in front of your face, as a barrier between you and the other person. I’m totally guilty of this myself. How did this get to be OK?

I spent seven “phone free” hours on Saturday. It wasn’t on purpose, I accidentally left my phone at home and happily went to hang out. When I first discovered I didn’t have it, I almost felt like I’d left one of my arms at home. After awhile, it was kind of peaceful. There wasn’t really anything I needed to do on my phone. I didn’t get bored. I stayed in the moment and connected to the people around me. I could feel my brain slow down without that easy access to infinite information.

I went to a street festival, and my good friend SP was going to meet me there. I wondered how she’d find me without my phone. The festival was packed, and covered multiple locations, and was full of drunk people, but guess what? We found each other without much difficulty using our natural God-given eyeballs that are stuck in our heads, lol. No  signals pinging off satellite towers, no reliance on location services. No phone call with our favorite secret agent greeting, to “I.D. your location”. I only borrowed SP’s phone once, to place a carry out order for pizza, when the pizza joint answered, I told them what I wanted, and was told that due to the street festival, they were only offering a very limited menu. When I asked what was on it, the guy rudely asked “You mean you want me to read the menu to you?”, I just as rudely replied “Yes, unless you want me to guess what’s on it.” Needless to say, they didn’t get our business, and that was a call I could have skipped. The only thing I worried about was that someone would try to contact me about a family emergency and think I was MIA. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

I’m doing a big presentation for work on Tuesday. Before I start I’m gonna ask everyone whose phones are visible on the conference room table, to please turn them face-down, keep their hands off, and to leave them that way. I could ask them to turn their phones off, but at our meetings, that’s like asking someone to stop breathing. I want to try this experiment to see if we can resist the urge to peek, and see if we all stay engaged and in the moment.

Wish me luck.

Day 31 of the #31WriteNow daily blog challenge is finally here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I did 30 posts, and met my add-on rantless challenge. I stopped ranting and did more observing. I blogged about my three true loves, 1. Civil rights, 2. Denzel Washington, 3. Idris Elba (a character in DGG is based on his swagalicious fabulousness). I did frivolous posts and serious posts. I blogged about my Mom’s computer dilemma; update-she got the one she wanted and is computing like a champion. There were simple posts consisting of poetry from Langston Hughes and J. Rumi. I only skipped one day, and ending up writing two new Detroit Get’s Gladiated posts when I was supposed to be taking a break. Then I blogged about that lol. Near the end of the challenge I got desperate and did a post that was essentially just a screenshot from my Facebook page. I gained some new readers and virtual friends, and I appreciate everyone’s moral support and comments.

Many of the posts were written from a chaise lounge facing the Detroit River, at my fav place, the Detroit Riverwalk. I did this post from there yesterday, where I watched eight young ladies in frothy sherbet colored ball gowns and eight young men in snow white tuxes sitting on the fountain in front of the merry-go-round taking Quinceañera pics side by side with a bus load of serious looking Amish people in traditional bonnets and long beards. That unexpected clash of cultures made my eyes happy. That’s the melting pot view of Detroit that visiting  journalists and photographers always miss.

During the challenge I sometimes worried that I’d run out of ideas but fortunately I never did. I’m taking a break for a few days. Thanks so much for reading.

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