Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What's wrong with Black people In America

So I just concluded watching the second installment of CNN "special" report on what's its like to be Black in America and all I can say is good thing I don't own a gun because I'm about ready to shoot myself in the face. Who knew that being Black in America was so depressing, so bleak and so problematic? The only thing that was missing from this series was the theme from the television show, "Good Times" playing in the background.

For the record, I can tell you that Black folks doesn't particularly care for being prodded and picked at like some indigenous rare breed of animal found deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle. And personally, I not really sure I understand the rest of America's new found fascination with "understanding" Black folks (maybe it has something to do with Obama's chances of becoming the next president). Nevertheless, the previews for this special proclaimed that it would provide some insight to the Black experience no other series on television would have. I have to admit that prior to watching the series I did have some reservations this would be the case. But I sincerely hoped that CNN, a so-called liberal 24 hour news channel, and more importantly Soledad O'Brien, who is a woman of mixed heritage, would go beyond the exploitive nature of what seems to be commonplace on the nightly news.

But to no surprise, as a 30 year old Black women, who has lived in America ALL of her life, I saw no parts of me, my family, my friends nor my Black neighbors in this series. Instead I watched sound bites of bad punditry and the same parade of racial stereotypes we read about everyday in newspapers; The educated and successful Black woman who can't find a husband; the poor, uneducated single mom and the out-of-work baby's daddy; the drug addict turn preacher; the dangers of rap music; the teen on the road to prison; the upper class Black family, who just isn't convinced that racism still exist. Was this the best they could come up with?

What's even more disturbing is that all weekend, CNN had the nerve to pat itself on the back about how "revolutionary" and "groundbreaking" this so-called in-dept bullshit was. Finally, someone dared to turn the mirror on Black America and put "our issues" on Front Street. Groundbreaking? Not even close. Revolutionary? More like revolting. Why weren't the voices from the other side of the Black community, the Black America that I love and live in, reflected in this dialog? Their were no mention of growing popularity of Islam in our community; the continued need and success of HBCUs [that's Historically Black Colleges and Universities] and Black Greek letter fraternities and sororities; why Black folks celebrate Kwanzaa in addition to Christmas; the Black gay, lesbian and transgendered community; the cultural differences between American born Blacks and Blacks here from other countries [yes, there are differences]; The arts; the culture; even the food – all of these items we're never mentioned in the discussion.

No other races of people are expected to justify for White America their existence as much as Black folks have. Are we that much different than the rest of America? Do we not put wake up every morning, shower, eat and go to work just like everyone else? Have we not contributed anything to the progression of American society that warrants mentioning at all? If CNN was really interested in being "groundbreaking," maybe they should have cleared the air and answered some of the questions that Black folks have been asked by curious White folks at least five times in their lives. Questions such as "Why don't we wash our hair more than once a week?" or "Why do Black folks name their kids those funny names?" or "Can all Black people really dance?" or my favorite, "Did O.J. really do it?" Or maybe their lack of Black folks in their newsroom (yes, because I do count the heads of Negroes in the background behinds the anchors desk and I have yet to see one. You don't believe me, check for yourself) prohibited them from really knowing for sure where to begin on discovering what it is truly like to be "Black in America."

And what was up with that little Black dude in the old Boys-to-Men get up spouting bad poetry during the breaks, anyway? Any thoughts?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Perfect Summer

EVERY year around March, I began my usual ritual of proclaiming just how sick and tired I am of the snow and the cold! Do not get me wrong I love the winter. In fact, I might be one of a handful of persons who will readily admit to being a winter baby. Maybe it has to do with me being born in the early fall. Or perhaps loving the combination of frigid chill-you-to-the-bone-temperatures and knee-deep snowfall, which present the perfect excuse to cower beneath a stack of blankets and be as lazy as you want to be. But it's something about that time of year, in between spring and winter, when I fall into a slump of boredom an anxiety, ready for something new and different to come into my life. Usually, I would chalk this feeling up to my loathing for the long summer months. For this winter baby, I equate summer to big nasty bugs, allergies, loud-noises and excessively hot days, which no matter how many clothes you shed off, you're still hot.

It is a well-known principal among some theologians and earth conscious folks that we are one with the universe, taking our rhythmic cues from the environment. And just like the seasons, our bodies, mind and spirits runs on a human circadian clock, evolving us through seasons of rest and reflection to seasons of renewal and vigorous action. Very recently I began to understand and appreciate that principal as once again, March came around and I felt the same feeling of world-weariness. So this year I tried something new. This year, I learn to listen to what my body was telling me and sought out the perfect internal summer day. You know, when the days are warm enough to wear your prettiest sundress, sit out on the grass with some ice cream and a good book. And the nights are cool enough that you can leave your windows open and still get underneath the covers without breaking into a massive sweat. For me, that meant seeking out balance in my life, learning to give my creative, spirited side of the brain a chance to shine, while telling my overly analytical left side of the brain to chill for a bit. And just like summer, it also meant learning to tide those hot and sticky heat waves as well as those chaotic thundering and lightening summer storms, which tend to stifled the mind, force your creative side into a drought and cloud judgment, until those perfect days could come around again.

This summer, I sought out new challenges to write, create and love more than I had ever done. I put myself in situations where I was forced to learn something new about myself and the world, meet people whom I'd never thought I had anything in common with and achieve something I never thought I could do. I took up bike riding (something I haven't done since I was a teenager), produced a talk show, co-wrote two scripts, took a belly dancing class, started a garden, gave up smoking and learned to let go of situations where I was seeking the approval of others and not my own unique purpose. I also challenged myself to exist in peace and enjoyment. Letting go of the need to fill every waking minute of the day with activities and learning to exist in stillness. From the many endless city festivals, where I would find the most pleasure in sitting back and absorbing myself in the music and company of others to just maxing on the couch with my boyfriend and watching bad reality shows. It was about bringing a balance, creating that perfect blend of challenges and calm, which made me become a better writer, a more understanding girlfriend, a caring sister, an appreciative daughter, a more pleasurable aunt and an overall better friend to myself.

While not perfect (who is), my journey has taught me some new skills, which will make my mind rest easy for the winter season. And when next March comes around, I will have already reaped the fruits of this newfound knowledge of myself and my internal grounds will be shifted again, ready to plant, sow and harvest some new challenges. As I began the second season of People, Places & Things, which begins this August on Gtown Radio (shameless plug), I'm curious of how other people view their perfect summer. What does this time of year mean for you and more importantly, what do you mean to this time of year?