Category Archives: Uncategorized

What the fall of Bill Cosby means to me

 

I remember being a small black child in the 1970s, stumbling into the kitchen on Saturday mornings pouring a big bowl of Capn Crunch, turning the TV on and watching every cartoon I could find.  One of those was “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” hosted and narrated by none other than Bill Cosby.  I remember the easygoing man with the fro giving his commentary on the shenanigans of those quirky characters.  I remember seeing more of him in movies, hearing his clean comedy routine and in the crowning glory of his career, starring as an obstetrician married to a lawyer and raising five well adjusted children on “The Cosby Show.”  When that show ended, I wondered what was next for the man who, by that time, was one of the wealthiest black men in America and was nichnamed “America’s Dad.”

I sure as heck never thought it would be a rape conviction and prison sentence at the age of 81.

 

When I first heard the accusations made against William Cosby, I, like many others, was very skeptical and doubted the validity of every accuser.  I won’t go into the accusations themselves because we a know what they were, but I was admittedly more doubtful due to the image of the man rather than whether or not he could really be capable of such a thing.  I later began to doubt that every accuser could be lying and based on what Cosby himself admitted to, including having cheater on his wife of several decades, Camille, previously, realized that he could very well be guilty of sin.  In at least one case, the eyes of the law said he was.

For Cosby of course, it means being held accountable for an indefensible wrong, in which many of us would want more than 3-15 years if it were done to a loved one of ours.  It also means a forever tarnished reputation and at least 52 years of being a beloved entertainer who transcended race coming down to nothing.  Very sad for him personally.

While I personally believe that Cosby deserves whatever he gets for what he’s guilty of, I can’t help but feel a sense of sadness.  I am forever appreciative of the images he presented of black people and what he tried to accomplish with Fat Albert and the Cosby Show.  I remember the “edutainment” value that those cartoon characters based on him and his childhood fiends represented and it was refreshing to see after so many years of blacks being portrayed as criminals, buffoons, junkies and other blatant stereotypes for an upper middle class black family to star prominently on prime time TV and to set viewership records in the process.  Sure a few hoteps and “blacker than thou” types panned the show for not being a “real” representation of being black in America but those types, as far as I’m concerned, are little more in favor of black mobility in image and real life progress than white racists are.  I also agree with him when he publicly scolded those in the black community who weren’t making as much of an effort to progress or to do better and defended him against the likes of Michael Eric Dyson, Mr “Blacker Than Thou” himself.

Let me state that unlike so many others, I was never under the illusion that Bill Cosby and Cliff Huxtable were one in the same.  Too many times people get caught up in images and in what the media would have you believe about certain individual but we forget that they’re human like us and that what we see is, just that, what we see.  Perhaps what this experience should remind us of is that we should never put even the worst tendencies past anyone.  Any fan of Woody Allen, Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen or would know what I mean.

So while I feel that Cosby deserves no different treatment than any average individual convicted of any type of rape, I still have to feel a sense of sadness at witnessing this kind of fall.  It’s a much shorter drop from the 1st floor to ground level than from the penthouse.  Perhaps Coz and emerge from thia a better man if he lives through his sentence.  Ike Turner, the most famous wife beater of all time, enjoyed somewhat of a newfound respect before hsi passing so it may be possible with redeemed Bill Cosby after he’s paid his debt to society.  Hey hey hey!

A Full Moon Kind of Day

Yesterday was a full moon kind of day.  Where things go awry and people act crazy and you wonder, “Is there a full moon out tonight?”.  Well, it turns out there WAS a full moon yesterday.  I didn’t know it until late last night but the day sure presented itself as such:

#myvip elder forgot his bookbag.  Not a book or pencil, but a whole, entire book bag.  Sure, he could get a loaner laptop from school but everything that he needed for the day was left at home.  He asked me to pick him up right after school because he didn’t have practice while his brother would be at an away meet.  He also asked if his phone was ready; he had been having problems and the phone carrier recommended one of those cell phone repair places at the mall. I’d dropped it off the prior week and it should have been ready by then.  I called after I dropped the boys to school but no one answered, because the mall wasn’t open yet.  I filed it away in my mind to call back later.

Tax season is in full swing at the office.  I had several clients and between phone calls and entering data and checking and responding to emails, before I knew it the time was 5:17, when…

I get a phone call from an unfamiliar number and when I answer, completely preoccupied, I was surprised to hear my man-child’s voice. “Um, are you coming to pick me up?”  Uuggghhh, and AAAAAARRRRGGGHHH – I plum forgot to get him!  I always DESPISED being late to pick up my children from school or afterschool. I didn’t want them to wait a second longer than necessary and if traffic prevented me from getting them on time, my anxiety spiked, until I saw their sweet faces and realized that they were not bothered  In fact, on the few times I was late, they had occupied themselves in a game or book or video and usually looked at me like, “You’re here already?” Yesterday was NOT one of those moments.  I raced through Friday afternoon Atlanta traffic, and promised him anything he wanted for dinner, plus I waived his portion of his cell phone payment for the month.  If he has asked for that Nintendo Switch I probably would have figured out how to buy it for him too – I was just that upset with myself.  And he called on a weird phone because he didn’t have his own phone, and do you think I remembered to call the cell phone repair people??

So, what could have been a two hour trip to school and back turned into a 3.5 hour tour: traffic was horrible, I had to get gas, he asked for fries from Chick-Fil-A to tide him over until we could go to Steak-n-Shake, which was near the mall we needed to stop at to pick up his repaired cell phone.  When I called the repair place on my way to get my son, they checked and said “Yes, the phone is ready”.  And I replied, “Well, I thought you were going to call me about it”, to which they answered, “We were going to call you in another hour”.  Really?!?  So yes, it took 3 1/2 hours to get all of this done.

As we’re driving back, we both spot the biggest, brightest full moon that we’ve ever seen.  It was sitting so low in the sky, it felt like we could reach up and touch it.  That moon was so round, so clear, and who bright, it looked like when you get a new shiny toy and take it out of the package.  It looked freshly scrubbed and clean.  We get back to the office (after some back and forth about office/home/office/home and who would get him), and he decided to stay until we all left for the night.  It was already after 8:00 and I knew we would leave by 10:00, so no more than 2 hours of waiting.  That man-child had his Steak-n-Shake meal, complete with a big ol’ chocolate peanut butter milkshake…and within 30 minutes he was knocked out.  He had his shoes off, his glasses on the table, and his head drooped all the over onto the chair; so instead of watching TV, the TV was watching him.   Of course that brought a smile to my face and I called my father over to look, and he also smiled.  It was a welcome bit of levity to the day.

Until

We got home and my husband relayed the story of an incident that happened when he picked up #myvip younger.  He got off the exit near home with the intention to stop at Wendy’s and give him a treat.  He said he had just passed a spot when he heard a loud crash and tires screeching.  As he exclaimed “Oh Wow”, he saw something fly across the street; he thought it was a smaller car.  Our son said he thought it was a person. They went through the drive-through and as they were leaving they saw the ambulance and police cars, and most unfortunately, a tarp draped over a body.  When they got home, he checked the news a little later, and they did report a pedestrian fatality, and minor injuries to the driver.  It’s believed that the pedestrian wasn’t visible until the moment of impact – it was dark and he or she was not wearing reflective clothing, plus this was in the middle of the street and not at a crosswalk.  How sad!  I was shocked, they were shook – because it could have been them, they just missed the accident by a few seconds – they could have been the ones to hit that person.  We are all upset at the loss of life, no matter how it happened.

So yeah, man…yesterday was a full moon kind of day.

 

Representation Matters – Wakanda Forever Represents

I can’t say enough about Black Panther.  The movie evoked so many emotions and thoughts that I have to write more than one blog post about it.  Today we’ll focus on representation, in the forms of: origin and heritage, costumes, hair and makeup, gender and age

A cast and crew of hundreds of people literally came from around the world to create the majesty that is Black Panther.  People from countries in Africa, North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia were all represented in the film.  Here are a few:

Angela Bassett (Queen Mother Ramonda) – St. Petersburg, FL (born in NYC and also raised in NC)

Isaach de Bankole (River Tribe Elder, w the lip plate) – C’ote d’Ivoire

Nabiyah Be (Linda) – Brazil & Jamaica

Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa) – Anderson, SC

Sterling K. Brown (Prince N’Jobu) – St Louis, MO

Connie Chiume (Mining Tribe Elder)-  South Africa

Ryan Coogler (Director), Oakland, CA

Winston Duke (M’Baku) – Tobago

Jason Elwood Hanna (stunts) – Nassau, Bahamas

Danai Gurira (Okoye) –  Zimbambwe (born in Grinnell, Iowa)

Michael B Jordan (Erik ‘Killmonger’ Stevens, N’Jadaka) – Santa Ana, CA

Daniel Kaluuya (W’Kabi) – England and Uganda

John Kani and Atwande Kani (Elder T’Chaka and Young T’Chaka, and real-life father-son acting duo) – South Africa

Florence Kasumba (Ayo)  – Uganda and Germany

Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) – Mexico and Kenya

Sydelle Noel (Dora Milaje) – Grenada

Danny Sapani (Border Tribe Elder) – Ghana and England

Rashad Smith (stunts) – Hattiesburg, MS

Dorothy Steel (Merchant Tribe Elder) – Atlanta, GA (side note: I heard a snippet just today on radio station V-103 as part of the morning news blurbs that Ms. Steel is 91 years old, and has been acting for only the past 3 years – it’s NEVER too late to pursue anything you want to do)

Denzel Whitaker (young Zuri) – Torrance, CA

Forest Whitaker (Zuri) – Longview, TX & Carson, CA

Shaunette Renee Wilson (Dora Milaje) – Georgetown, Guyana (SN: Guyana, STAND UP!)

Leitia Wright (Shuri) – Guyana and England  (SN: once again, Guyana, STAND UP! )

 

I am sure there were many more states and countries represented – but could you just take a minute and marvel (yes, marvel) at the representation of our black and brown brothers and sisters?

 

We also had representation in the attire, hair and makeup for the movie.  Can we take a moment to reflect on the 30+ year career or Ruth Carter, two-time Academy Award nominee (for Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and Steven Spielberg’s Amistad)?  She also did the costumes for many other Spike Lee movies: School Daze, Mo’Better Blues, Do the Right Thing, and Chi-Raq, as well as The Five Heartbeats, What’s Love Got to Do with It, Love and Basketball (one of my favorite movies), Four Brothers and Sparkle (Ms. Whitney Houston’s last cinematic effort), the Butler, Selma and television’s Being Mary Jane.  So the lady has put in the work, for many years, and through many different genres and time periods; she has been recognized in the form of two Oscar nominations, but the ultimate cinematic recognition has not been bestowed up on her…yet.  Now have you seen Black Panther?  From the authentic attire in 1992, to the various tribes represented in Wakanda, Ms. Carter’s designs rang true to form.

The Atlantic did an extensive interview with Ms. Carter, which you can find here: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/02/why-fashion-is-key-to-understanding-the-world-of-black-panther/553157/

My two favorite paragraphs are:

Of course, Carter couldn’t rely on this familiarity for Black Panther. “We didn’t really have … a visual model of people living in Wakanda,” she told me. “So it was kind of a fantasy or an imagined place for me. It was very intimidating. Creating a world is no joke.” The comic books alone couldn’t explain everything Carter needed to know. So to pull Black Panther off the page, she and her team relied on the Wakanda “bible” created by the director Ryan Coogler and the production designer Hannah Beachler. Carter said she kept four words on her vision board as she designed: Beautiful. Positive. Forward. Colorful. The costumes had to fit seamlessly into the film, telling a story of their own but not competing with or distracting from the plot. The result is a dramatic look that makes clear that Wakandans use clothing as an important form of self- and community expression, to honor their ancestors, and to maintain a progressive social order.

Carter’s first step was to do a deep dive into the continent’s diverse history of dress. “My approach was the same as [it is] on a period film: I did a lot of research,” she said. The textile production, hand-dyeing, and beading techniques of the Tuareg, Zulu, Maasai, Himba, and Dinka peoples helped inspire an eclectic color palette: deep aubergine and crimson, effervescent chartreuse and tangerine, rich jade and silver.   

If you saw the movie, I know you would agree with me that Ms. Carter’s vision was “mission accomplished”.

Hair and makeup played an important part as well.  Makeup for dark skinned people often comes off as ashy, dry, monotone (because there are not enough shades available).  But in Black Panther, every single one of the sisters, from the lightest milk chocolate to the deepest dark chocolate hue, looked smooth, vibrant, moisturized, properly shaded, colorful, and flawless.  Regarding hair, checkout this interview excerpt from The Cut with Camille Friend, who headed up the hair department of Black Panther:

The movie’s hair wizard explained the month-long process of creating Angela Bassett’s wig, why Michael B. Jordan needed to wear extensions, and what it was like working on a film that celebrated natural black hair.

What was the overall creative direction for the hair in Black Panther?
There were three parts. For the “traditional” look, we used inspiration from the Zulu tribe, the Maasai tribe, and the Hima tribe. Then we looked at the modern styles in the natural-hair movement. Finally we looked at the Afropunk movement, which has a lot of natural and creative styling. Also, there are five tribes in the story, and we had to create different looks for each tribe.

All of the Best Products and Methods for Curly Hair

What was it like working on a movie where everyone was styled in natural hair?
There’s no press and comb in this movie. No relaxers, no nothing! That was one of the things that I really was firm about. I requested that people come with their natural hair. People were like, “Are you sure?” and I was like, “Yes, I am sure! We have a qualified staff of hair people who are phenomenal and who are well-versed in natural hair.”

A dark skinned, kinky haired little girl – who wore her hair in various cornrow styles for years, who braided her own hair and didn’t get a press till 10 and a perm till 14/15, who got ridiculed for hair texture and hair styles, and lack of long full, lush, flowing hair; who got ridiculed for her darker skin and broad nose; who didn’t see many stars or celebrities who looked like her growing up – swelled with immense pride at seeing the natural hairstyles, the flawless darker skin and makeup, the bold and colorful authentically African costumes, and the fully realized depictions of gorgeous dark skinned women.  Yes, people costumes, hair and makeup are important.  They set a tone and mood and look, just like cinematography, scenery and location.  And the tone, mood and look of Black Panther is one that completely embraces, celebrates and luxuriates in people of color who look like me.  What a powerful piece of artistry that is also affirming to Black womanhood everywhere!

 

Representation Matters – Wakanda Respresents

I cannot say enough about Black Panther.  It has evoked so many emotions and thoughts that I will be posting multiple times.  Today we’re focusing on representation, in the forms of: origin and heritage; hair and makeup, costumes, gender and age.

A cast and crew of hundreds of people literally came from all parts of the world to create the majesty that is Black Panther.  North and South America, the Caribbean, many countries in Africa, Europe and Asia were all represented.  Here is a partial list:

Isaach de Bankole (River Tribe Elder, w the lip plate) – C’ote d’Ivoire

Angela Bassett (Queen Mother Ramonda) – St. Petersburg, FL (born in NYC and also raised in NC)

Nabiyah Be (Linda) – Brazil & Jamaica

Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa), Anderson, SC

Sterling K. Brown (Prince N’Jobu) – St Louis, MO

Connie Chiume (Mining Tribe Elder)-  South Africa

Ryan Coogler (Director), Oakland, CA

Winston Duke (M’Baku) – Tobago

 

Danai Gurira (Okoye) –  Zimbambwe (born in Grinnell, Iowa)

Jason Elwood Hanna (stunts) – Nassau, Bahamas

Michael B Jordan (Erik ‘Killmonger’ Stevens, N’Jadaka) , CA

Daniel Kaluuya (W’Kabi) – English and Uganda

Florence Kasumba (Ayo)  – Uganda and Germany

John Kani and Atwande Kani (Elder T’Chaka and Young T’Chaka, and real-life father – son acting duo) – South Africa

Sydelle Noel (Dora Milaje) – Grenada

Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) – Mexico and Kenya

Danny Sapani (Border Tribe Elder) – Ghana and England

Rashad Smith (stunts) – Hattiesburg, MS

Dorothy Steel (Merchant Tribe Elder) – Atlanta, GA (side note: I heard a snippet just today on radio station V-103 as part of the morning news blurbs that Ms. Steel is 91 years old, and has been acting for only the past 3 years – it’s NEVER too late to pursue anything you want to do)

Denzel Whitaker (young Zuri/James) – Torrance, CA (Denzel is no relation to Forest but they did favor each other in the movie)

Forest Whitaker (Zuri/James) – Longview, TX & Carson, CA

Shaunette Renee Wilson (Dora Milaje) – Georgetown, Guyana

Leitia Wright (Shuri) – Guyana and England

I am sure there were many more states and countries represented – but could you just take a minute and marvel (yes, marvel) at the representation of our black and brown brothers and sisters?

Let’s shift a bit and focus on the costumes, hair and makeup.  Can we take a moment to reflect on the 30+ year career or Ruth Carter, two-time Academy Award nominee (for Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and Steven Spielberg’s Amistad)?  She also did the costumes for many other Spike Lee movies: School Daze, Mo’Better Blues, Do the Right Thing, and Chi-Raq, as well as, The Five Heartbeats, What’s Love Got to Do with It, Love and Basketball (one of my favorite movies), Four Brothers and Sparkle (Ms. Whitney Houston’s last cinematic effort), the Butler, Selma and television’s Being Mary Jane.  So the lady has put in the work, for many years, and through many different genres and time periods; she has been recognized in the form of two Oscar nominations, but the ultimate cinematic recognition has not been bestowed up on her…yet.  Now have you seen Black Panther?  From the authentic attire in 1992, to the various tribes represented in Wakanda, Ms. Carter’s designs rang true to form.

The Atlantic did an extensive interview with Ms. Carter, which you can find here: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/02/why-fashion-is-key-to-understanding-the-world-of-black-panther/553157/

The two paragraphs that, to me, crystallized the process are:

Of course, Carter couldn’t rely on this familiarity for Black Panther. “We didn’t really have … a visual model of people living in Wakanda,” she told me. “So it was kind of a fantasy or an imagined place for me. It was very intimidating. Creating a world is no joke.” The comic books alone couldn’t explain everything Carter needed to know. So to pull Black Panther off the page, she and her team relied on the Wakanda “bible” created by the director Ryan Coogler and the production designer Hannah Beachler. Carter said she kept four words on her vision board as she designed: Beautiful. Positive. Forward. Colorful. The costumes had to fit seamlessly into the film, telling a story of their own but not competing with or distracting from the plot. The result is a dramatic look that makes clear that Wakandans use clothing as an important form of self- and community expression, to honor their ancestors, and to maintain a progressive social order.

Carter’s first step was to do a deep dive into the continent’s diverse history of dress. “My approach was the same as [it is] on a period film: I did a lot of research,” she said. The textile production, hand-dyeing, and beading techniques of the Tuareg, Zulu, Maasai, Himba, and Dinka peoples helped inspire an eclectic color palette: deep aubergine and crimson, effervescent chartreuse and tangerine, rich jade and silver.   

If you saw the movie, then you know it was “Mission Accomplished”; beautiful, positive, forward, colorful.  You only had to experience the pagentry and lush richness of the Warrior Falls scenes to know that the costumes hit on every part of Ms. Carter’s vision.  Give. This. Woman. The. Academy. Award. For. Costume. Design. For Black Panther.

And this excerpt from the Cut sums up the why the hairstyles played such an integral role:

Ahead of the movie’s premiere, the Cut talked to the head of Black Panther’s hair department, Camille Friend. The movie’s hair wizard explained the month-long process of creating Angela Bassett’s wig, why Michael B. Jordan needed to wear extensions, and what it was like working on a film that celebrated natural black hair.

What was the overall creative direction for the hair in Black Panther?
There were three parts. For the “traditional” look, we used inspiration from the Zulu tribe, the Maasai tribe, and the Hima tribe. Then we looked at the modern styles in the natural-hair movement. Finally we looked at the Afropunk movement, which has a lot of natural and creative styling. Also, there are five tribes in the story, and we had to create different looks for each tribe.

All of the Best Products and Methods for Curly Hair

What was it like working on a movie where everyone was styled in natural hair?
There’s no press and comb in this movie. No relaxers, no nothing! That was one of the things that I really was firm about. I requested that people come with their natural hair. People were like, “Are you sure?” and I was like, “Yes, I am sure! We have a qualified staff of hair people who are phenomenal and who are well-versed in natural hair.”

A dark skinned, kinky haired little girl – who wore her hair in various cornrow styles for years, who braided her own hair and didn’t get a press till 10 and a perm till 14/15, who got ridiculed for hair texture and hair styles, and lack of long full, lush, flowing hair; who got ridiculed for her darker skin and broad nose; who didn’t see many stars or celebrities who looked like her growing up – swelled with immense pride at seeing the natural hairstyles, the flawless darker skin and makeup, the bold and colorful authentically African costumes, and the fully realized depictions of gorgeous dark skinned women.  Yes, people costumes, hair and makeup are important.  They set a tone and mood and look, just like cinematography, scenery and location.  And the tone, mood and look of Black Panther is one that completely embraces, celebrates and luxuriates in people of color who look like me.  What a powerful piece of artistry that is also affirming to Black womanhood everywhere!

 

 

The Day the Snake (almost) Took Over

We are a three person operation; the founder/owner, the operations manager (me) and the front office person.  All three of us are deathly afraid of snakes.  I don’t know anyone who likes snakes, who wants one as a pet, who speaks of them in loving terms.  I know those people exist, it’s just that I don’t know any; those people are not in my circle and are not my friends.

Today, after I dropped the boys to school, I made a couple of stops before I went home to get Dad.  He in turn wanted to pick up a few items from the grocery store.  So we got to the office a little later than usual.  A was already there and I saw another car.  “Oh we have a client”, I said.  As we pulled up, Dad asked me to get the door leading into the kitchen as he took out the four bags of groceries that he bought.  I picked up my purse and saw A open said kitchen door.  She motioned from behind the screened door “go around” and I thought I heard her say “snake” but I wasn’t sure.  I just know she asked us not to come in from that direction.  We walked into the front door as usual and saw that the client was a family friend, so someone from Guyana.  As this was registering in my mind, I definitely heard A say “snake; there is a snake out there”.  WTH, WTF, and all the WWWWWWW’s that you or I can think of at a time like this.  She explained, “I was mopping, and I went to take out the garbage.  As soon as I opened the door, I saw something drop and it started to move and my whole insides just turned”.  Then she went on, “I was waiting for Dionne to come in”, to which I immediately replied, “FOR WHAT????  I do not do snakes; I will kill a roach before I look at a snake, and I don’t kill roaches, I call the boys or my husband when I see a ‘water bug’; nuh uhh, you were NOT looking for me”.  Dad doesn’t like snakes either; all three of us said that if we even see a snake on tv, we turn the channel.  In the meantime, the family friend who came a repeat client, was laughing at us.  She asked for a cutlass, which we didn’t have; she asked for a stick and I think A gave her a broom and dustpan.

She went out the kitchen door and the next thing I know, she said the snake was dead.  She was calling us to take a look and no one wanted to see it.  I told everyone that if she wasnt’ there, I would have gone back home.  And if we couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the snake then I would have shut down the office for the day.  I mean that too.  I. WILL. NOT. DEAL. WITH. SNAKES.

I don’t care if it’s bad business to close up shop during the peak season.  I don’t care if we had clients who were there.  I don’t care if clients spread the word about the fraidy cat business owners who can’t stand snakes.  Unless they’re coming with cutlasses, or Snake-Be-Gone, then I don’t wanna hear it.   I. WILL. NOT. DEAL. WITH. SNAKES.

J, the client, said that in Guyana, her family lived just beyond a swamp, and that her mother didn’t like snake either, so it was up to the children to deal with them.  And apparently, there were lots of times when snakes would sidle up to their front steps, even though those steps were UP ONE LEVEL.  The ding-dang nerve.  My skin crawled as she told me and I knew, I just knew that God knew what He was doing by having me be born and raised in the streets of Brooklyn.  I am a city girl through and through.  Thank God J was at the office at just the right time.  If I was there by myself, it would be a wrap, and some exterminator would have to provide proof (to my husband, cause I won’t want to see it) that the snake was gone.  If it was just Dad and me, I would convince him to go home.  If it was just A and me, I would leave and she would probably follow.  And if it was the three of us, I would speak up about shutting down for the day (“Stop. Drop. Shut ‘Em Down, Don’t Open Up Shop. No-oh oh; No-oh oh, That’s how Ya Girl Dee Rolls”  Shout out to DMX and Ruff Ryders) Anyway, my vote forever and always will be for us to vacate the premises because I. WILL. NOT. DEAL. WITH. SNAKES.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that; God sent a snake Killmonger to our midst (yes, I will make a Black Panther reference very chance I get).  Now to continue the rest of our day, snake-free.

6 Ways That the Black Panther Movie Already Has People Trained

So Black Panther is a cultural phenomenon that is breaking records, capturing attention and creating a sense of pride all across the nation  It’s also causing people to change behavior or to tighten up their behavior, all in positive ways.  This is a strictly observational, unscientific poll conducted by moi, but I’ll bet if you peeped what I’ve been peeping, you’ll feel the same way.  Black Panther is causing people to: plan ahead, expect multiple viewings, dress accordingly, arrive on time, not talk during the movie, and not share spoilers.  Check the details:

  1. Plan Ahead: Pre-sale tickets broke all types of box office records; people have been anticipating this movie for days, weeks, months and years.  So yes, they already planned time off work, make arrangements with baybsitters and adults sitters and pet sitters – whatever it takes to make sure faces are in the place during opening weekend. Also, there is a commitment to see the show more than once, which can get pricey. But I know folks ate rice and beans, bought the basic necessities, gave up a few luxuries (Starbucks, lunch, dinner, drinks, shopping) – however you spend your disposable income, I  am sure it was curtailed so that you could get multiple tickets.

2) Multiple Viewings:  I mean this should go without saying, but Imma say it – you will want to see Black Panther at least twice.  AT. LEAST.  The storyline, the dialogue, the acting, the COSTUMES, the cinematography, the set design, the direction, the production value, the action scenes – you need at least two viewings to take it all in.  I mean, you don’t have to go five or six times like I plan to do, but you HAVE to go, and go more than once.  I think people expect that this is how they’re going to spend their weekend and or next few weeks – going to see Black Panther.  Trust me, this is what you want to do for February.

3) Dress Accordingly: The African themed ahn-sahm-blays (ensebles) that I have seen so far have been giving me So.MUCH.LIFE.  Dashikis, and kente, and anakara, and geles and other headwraps and makeup and colors and ladies and gentlemen – everyone has come through with the African HAUTENESS and it has been a visual feast for the eyes.  All the YASSSSS that can be mustered, just prepare yourself to say it every time you go to see the movie.  And you will want to see this more than once.  With different attire, cause that’s how we roll when we plan ahead.

4) Arrive on Time: We already know what happens with blockbuster movies, especially during opening weekend.  If you don’t have reserved seats then you choose your seats based on first come first serve.  Opening weekends of blockbusters pretty much mean that the theaters will be packed, so if you’re towards the back of the line to get in, then you’re sitting towards the front of the theater.  You know the seats, the ones so close to the screen that you have neck cramps just trying to look up.  So imagine a blockbuster on steroids, cause that’s the level of Black Panther’s opening weekend.  Every body is going to see it.  Which means if you arrive late, you know what, just don’t arrive late.  That’s it.  Get there ahead of time, take some pics of your crew in your attire, get your snacks and then get your seats.  Or you could be like one lady who walked in at 10:35 and the movie showtime was 10:15. So you’re already 20 minutes late, and I guess it didn’t matter to her because she correctly assumed there would be previews.  But did she anticipate that she’s going to the THE biggest movie release in months, and possibly the most anticipated movie for black people, ever?  I guess not, cause she walked in late, with 5 other people.  Listen, you already know where the seats were…in the front row.  But yes, sis still had the nerve to say “Let’s see where we’ll sit”.  Chica!!  Ma’am! Miss Girl! You’re going to be sitting in that front row, where the seats are waiting for you and your crew; don’t even waste time looking around.  I watched her scan the crowd for about five seconds, then the party of six slowly sunk to their awaiting seats…in the front row.  Neck cramps in full effect.  Get to the movie on time, people, get there on time.

5) No talking during the movie: I cannot recall the last time I attended a movie and no one talked.  I mean, you could hear other people breathing, that’s how quiet it was.  No one was on their cell phone, no one’s cell phone rang accidentally, no one shouted back at the screen, no one cracked jokes; when we laughed in all the right places, we did it quickly so we didn’t miss the next line or scene.  Everyone was transfixed.  Again, I’ve seen Black Panther twice so far, and this was the case both times.  There was one time, towards the end, when an audience member made a comment; it was funny and appropriate and the entire theater laughed.  We all laughed because we all heard the joke; I’m telling you everyone was staying quiet and soaking it all in during this epic event.

6) No spoilers: So far no one on social media has given anything away.  I’m not looking for it, so maybe it’s there but the people on my timeline on “the Twitters” and the “Book of Faces” have posted pics of the attire and the joy and excitement of being there.  No one has reviewed or rehashed the movie, no one has quoted lines from the movie beyond what was already in trailers, no one has given away plot points, and no one has shared details that you can only see…at the movies.  So YAY good people, way to keep it classy and contained.  Now, it’s only Friday; I can’t promise that this will still be the case on Tuesday or even Monday.  People have a lot to say about this cinematic marvel (see what I did there); and they’re not going to wait a week because some of you have dragged your feet.  So get up, get out, and go see Black Panther!

 

#WakandaForever

#BlackPanther

#KingsandQueens

My POTUS & FLOTUS make Black History, again, during Black Panther Month

So for this year, I’ve renamed Black History Month to Black Panther Month.  If you don’t know why, shame on you.  In the meantime though, Black History to continues to happen all around us and we should continue to applaud all of the #peakblackexcellence every time it happens.

For example, the only POTUS and Forever FLOTUS I acknowledge in these 20-teens are once again giving us reasons to stand tall, applaud, and cry happy tears of joy.

Per CNN.com “The former first couple’s official portraits were unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, a rite of passage for most former presidents, all of whom have their portraits hanging in the museum.”  The difference is that this is the first Black President (because there will be others, as well as women Presidents and other People of Color) to grace the Smithsonian, and the first Black First Lady of the Unites States to do the same.  As reported in several publications, the power couple interviewed and vetted the artists who were commissioned, with former President and First Lady Obama choosing Keyhinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, for the final portraits.  And the results still have people talking, four days later.

Keyhinde Wiley, known for utilizing floral patterns in his work, used flowers of significance for Mr. Obama: the African blue lilies represent Kenya, Barack’s father’s birthplace; jasmine stands for Hawaii, where he was born; and the chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago, reference the city where his political career began, and where he met Michelle – according to the NY Times.  President Obama looks…presidential: wise and strong and competent and capable and charismatic – all the traits we knew and loved while he was in office.

 

Obama Portraits

Amy Sherald created the portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama and it appears to have the most debate.  While Ms. Sherald’s work is known for using greyscale to depict Black subjects, people have commented that this particular piece is too “grey”, not dark enough, not enough color, the blue background is too light, too flat, and the depiction of Aunty Shelly is not Shelly enough.  Oh my, it’s a portrait, meaning it’s the artists’ rendition, who said it had to be exact?  You can tell it’s Michelle Obama, her pose is regal and strong and polished and purposeful – again, traits that we came to know and appreciate about FLOTUS while she graced us with her presence in the White House.  And I love the dress, I wanna know where I can find a copy…after I get these arms in shape.

Image result for Barack and michelle obama portraits

 

So what’s all the rah-rah about Ms. Sherald’s rendition? Did she create a Picasso-when-he-was-crazy version?  It is what it is, and Mrs. O know what she was signing up for when she signed her up.  On the flip side, I don’t agree with the comments that people need to study the artists or go experience art before they comment.  That defeats the purpose of viewing art.  Art is everywhere and is subject to interpretation base on your personal views.  So this may not be an exact likeness in the exact colors that many were expecting, but I don’t agree that you need to study other portraits to have an opinion about this one.  Everyone should take a few deep breaths and keep it moving.  You know POTUS and FLOTUS did.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: Artist Kehinde Wiley, and Amy Sherald attend their official portrait unveiling of former U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during a ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, on February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. The portraits were commissioned by the Gallery, for Kehinde Wiley to create President Obama's portrait, and Amy Sherald that of Michelle Obama.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

How awesome is it though that two Black artists were asked to create indelible permanent portraits of two of the most important figures in our immediate history, the first Black President and First Lady of these United States?  Really, how amazing and special and excellent is all this blackness that just happened?  During Black History Black Panther Black Panther History Month?  C’mon now.  Let’s celebrate this peak blackness that just happened, during the reign of he-who-shall-not-be-named.  And couldn’t didn’t find time to make an appearance in support of – which is probably for the best; you just know he would have found a way to make it about him.  It would have just messed up a historic moment, and now that I’ve typed two sentences too many about B-I-C, let’s bring it back to the reason for this post.  The best POTUS and FLOTUS in my lifetime hired two Black artists to render their portraits for the Smithsonian and the results speak for themselves.

Image result for Barack and michelle obama portraits

 

Get into it!  Your thoughts?

A Question of Faith

Faith is still a fairly new concept for me.  For 21 years now I have considered myself a Christian.  Unlike most black Americans I did not grow up in the church or follow any particular faith at all.  There were many reasons for that, not the least of which is I simply did not believe what I couldn’t see.  Part of what led me to finally accept the Lord was looking back at my life and realizing how blessed I was when things could have gone awry.  While I have been dutiful in praying, going to church and trying to live a life that the Lord would approve of, I have fallen short many times and have had my faith tested in many ways.  The latest example being the last two weeks.

My wife had a health scare which could have shaken us to the core.  She had a condition which, when she read up on it, was very symptomatic of cancer.  We prayed on it every day and reminded ourselves that it could be any number of things but one can’t help but fear the worst.  As much as I tell myself, and have been told by others, that God doesn’t make mistakes, we shouldn’t question him and that he knows what he’s doing, you can’t help what you feel.  I found myself angry at God, questioning the fairness of it all, trying to be as supportive as I could of my wife while trying to hold it together myself.  Like many others we claimed that 2018 would be a year of prosperity and breakthroughs but how could that be if the worst case scenario were true?  Our sons are still teenagers and they need their mother.  My wife should not spend the best years of her life undergoing surgeries and treatments which are not even guaranteed 100% success.  Yet we’re still supposed to be thankful and full of praise.

In spite of my feelings I did the only thing I could do, stay in prayer.  After all, we didn’t know what the condition was for a fact and even if worst came to worst it was early enough to treat it and beat it.  I spent more time praying in the spirit not just for my wife’s health but for emotional and spiritual health for us all.  There would be no reason for the Lord to help us if we curse and reject him now, especially for something that hadn’t even been confirmed.  Perhaps this was just a test, perhaps it was Satan messing with us, and Satan certainly will.  Perhaps we were merely being impatient and overly anxious.  Whatever it was, could anyone really blame us?

Then we got the news.  It wasn’t cancer!  It was a viral condition which, over time, will run it’s course, not ideal but way better than having cancer.  Instead of fear, anxiety and uncertainty we now feel relief and absolute gratitude.  If anyone asks, “Won’t He do it?” the answer is an absolute yes!

What is the takeaway from this?  Number one, prayer works!  You have to not just say the words but to believe that they are at least being heard.  Number two, you can’t lose faith or disconnect ourselves from our problem solver.  I’ve also come to accept that fear, uncertainty and even occasional anger at God are sometimes okay.  We are still human and we are still entitled to our emotions.  The key is channeling those emotions the right way.  Instead of lashing out at God, I simply prayed harder not just for healing for my wife but for emotional and spiritual strength for both of us.  When Job had everything taken from him, his family, his wealth and his health, he was bitter against God for allowing his life to fall apart but when his wife told him to curse God and die, he would do no such thing.  He knew that God was the one who gave him everything that he lost in the first place.  His reward for his faith was being blessed with everything he lost in greater abundance.  What the Lord eventually has in store for us remains to be seen but we already claim the good things he has to offer.  As long as Satan exists we know that there will likely be temptations, trials and tribulations but that’s why we continue to pray for understanding how to deal with it.  What proof do we need that what we pray for and claim will come to fruition?  We need nothing more than the numerous blessings we’ve been bestowed with over the last several decades.  The question will no longer be “Won’t he do it?” but to merely state “He did it!”

 

White Privilege, A Crash Course

white-privelege

If there are two words that unsettle unknowledgable white people as much as the words Black Lives Matter, they have to be white privilege.  Given the racial climate over the last eight years, exacerbated by the election and reelection of President Barack Obama, we’ve been hearing a lot about it lately.  To the willfully ignorant or simply misinformed white person, they’re fighting words uttered by anti-white black people to stir up resentment and to emphasize black victimhood.  Well actually no and no.  For those whites who really want to know what I’m getting back, sit back, have a cup of patience sweetened with open mindedness and just listen.

When we talk about white privilege, are we saying that the life of a white person is a bowl of cherries?  Of course not.  No one with any sense believes that being white means that life is trouble free and that white people don’t have to work for anything they have.  It also doesn’t mean that being white is to be insulated from injustice.  The fact that the majority of welfare recipients and recipients of other forms of public assistance are white (there goes a convenient racist stereotype) and that, in strictly numbers, more whites are killed by police than people of color shows that struggle and pain doesn’t bounce off of white skin.  Those who choose to interpret otherwise are doing themselves a disservice as well as those of us who recognize it.  What is white privilege then?

White privilege is being able to take for granted the rights, dignity and freedoms that are denied to others on too far a regular basis.  Don’t black people have the same rights and freedoms as everyone else?  On the law books, yes, but that isn’t always how it is in practice.  If we look at the numerous attempts by some states, mostly in the South, to suppress voting rights, we have an example.  Many of these laws require voters to present picture ID and others are doing away with early voting, same day registration and weekend voting.  What’s wrong with that you ask?  Just having to ask the question is a form of white privilege.  Black people, especially the elderly, are far less likely to posess picture ID due to being more likely to use public transportation, therefore not needing a drivers license as much.  Many elderly black Americans, who were born during a time when they didn’t always receive or keep birth certificates, would find obtaining a picture ID much more difficult.  The state of Alabama, where ID  is required, is actually closing down many license offices in predominantly black areas which really makes you go hmmmm.  Republican legislators will swear to the max that these laws are not discriminatory and that they are meant to prevent voter fraud but the number of proven cases of fraud has been so miniscule that even talking about passing laws to combat it seems a waste of time.  Well I guess it isn’t if you’re trying to disenfranchise people.

Let’s talk about white privelege in law enforcement.  You say obey the law, respect the police and use common sense, right?  Well I’m very certain that Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Terence Crutcher and John Crawford III would give you a sideye if they could.  Crawford was simply looking at a BB rifle on the shelf at Wal Mart and talking on his cell phone when officers gunned him down after reports of a man with a gun in the store.  It’s likely that they simply saw a black man with a gun and all preconceived stereotypes led to the worst.  In spite of the many school, theatre and shopping center and church shootings committed by whites, it’s still a safe bet that a white man looking at a BB gun in the store would be assumed to be browsing.  Terence Crutcher, who first committed the heinous act of having his car break down, was walking with his hands up when shot.  An officer in a helicopter, without knowing what was going on, concluded that he was a “bad dude” from high in the sky.  Lavar Jones, who was stopped by a South Carolina state trooper for a seatbelt infraction two years ago got shot in his hip after he reached in his vehicle to get his drivers license, as he was asked to do.  Let me add that his hands were up and he was backing away.  Thankfully Mr. Jones survived and the trooper, Sean Groubert, pleaded guilty to assault and although, at the time of this writing, there is no word on his sentence, will never be a law enforcement officer again but the fact that the shooting victim survived and that the officer received at least some repercussions is an anomaly.  I seriously doubt that there are many whites who are wary about reaching for their licenses when stopped by police for fear of being a statistic.  Last year an Indian man named Sureshbhai Patel, while visiting his son in Madison Alabama, was tackled by a white cop and partially paralyzed while taking a walk through his son’s subdivision.  Mr. Patel was already handcuffed mind you.  The officer was responding to a call from a neighbor reporting a “skinny black guy” in the neighborhood.  White privilege is not having to worry about being confronted by the police while simply taking a walk.  It also means not having to worry about a neighbor calling the police in the first place after taking one look at your color and assuming that you’re up to no good.  Oh and did I mention what happened to Dylann Roof after he shot and killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston SC last year.  Not only was he taken alive without a scratch, he was treated to a meal at Burger King.  Get the privilege idea a little bit now?  How about being able to drive an expensive car without being pulled over because the officer, who can’t afford it himself, suspects that you sold drugs for it or stole it, or is simply sore at seeing someone who doesn’t look like him with something that only he should be driving?  Or not being suspected of burglarizing the house in the affluent white neighborhood that you recently moved into.  That’s a privelege that many of us would welcome.

Now let’s talk about white privilege and personal achievement.  Let’s start with sports.  Most of us know about Michael Phelps, not only the winningest swimmer in Olympic history but the winningest Olympian period.  Most of us would attribute his success to hard work, dedication and sacrifice, as we should.  We also know about Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, winner of nine Olympic Gold medals and world record holder it the 100 and 200 meters.  I attribute that to hard work, dedication and discipline also but there are many asking the question “Why are Jamaicans such good sprinters?” Those of us who follow track know that Kenya has some of the best middle-distance runners in the world but that wasn’t always the case.  Until Kenya began to stand out, the best middle-distance runners were Great Britain’s Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram and New Zealander John Walker.  No one asked, however, why British Commonwealth runners were so good.  No one asks why Canadians are such good hockey players, why white Americans are such good speed skaters and why southern good ole boys are such good stock car drivers.  Ever since Jesse Owens shattered Adolf Hitler’s myth of Aryan physical supremacy, scientists and casual observers have credited black athletic success with black people having inbred physical and genetic features which give us an advantage.  Larry Bird, undoubtedly one of the greatest basketball players ever was a 6’9 tall example of white privilege in the 1980s when his accomplishments were heavily touted as being due to his intelligence, court sense and work ethic while Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan were merely faster and more athletic.  Jon Entine authored a junk science book called “Taboo” which was published in 2000 which suggests that black athletes have genetic advantages over whites.  Venus and Serena Williams have often been commented on for the supposed physical advantages that they have over their white counterparts.  When the Arkansas Razorbacks, who were predominantly black, defeated the Duke Blue Devils, who had more whites on the roster, to win the 1994 NCAA basketball title, a white female reporter asked Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski if the Arkansas players were bigger and quicker.  Uh lady, maybe Arkansas simply played better basketball!  If you ever achieved anything in sports without anyone thinking that you achieved it due to any special advantages, consider yourself privileged.

Oh and lets get to academics.  As everyone knows, it is generally believed that whites are more intelligent than blacks and that makes white the superior race.  If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed many examples of black teenagers making the news by being accepted into multiple Ivy Leagues schools, some being accepted to all eight.  While they have all received many accolades, they have had detractors suggesting that their acceptances were due to affirmative action, in spite of their high grade point averages, their SAT scores, extracurricular activities and other positive accomplishments.  White privilege is being accepted into a prestigious university and it is assumed that it’s because of your qualifications and nothing more.  As flattering as some may think it is to credit Asians with being an intellectually superior people, many would quickly tell you how insulting it is to credit anything other than rigorous study habits for that.

Need further explanation?  Feel free to ask someone instead of being defensive and/or in denial.  The racism that still exists in our society has gotten more exposed over the last several years and with that includes a greater awareness of what I just explained.  Don’t worry, no one is asking you to give up anything or suggesting that the better your life is the worse ours are.  What we see and know, however, is what we see and know and progress isn’t made with a buried head.

 

#whiteprivilege

#blacklivesmatter

I Care About Black Every Day

I wrote and posted two statuses to Facebook earlier, and then mused, “these are my thoughts, I should blog about it”.

Here is the first post:

And another day, another hashtag

#terencecrutcher

 

And the second post:

Taking a break by scrolling FB…and there is no break. Diatribes, think pieces and thought pieces about the ‘latest hashtag’ Mr. Terence Crutcher who was more than a hashtag – all, ALL valid commentary from the OP’s.

And then there is news mixed in about brangelina. Listen, I don’t give one good hot diggity about their love life. I’ve been entertained by some of their work, and appreciate the humanitarian efforts I’ve seen from them, but their love life ain’t changing mine so…
No, not really caring about their news today.

What I do care about is praying and hoping that my Black husband and Black sons and Black fathers and Black brothers and Black nephews and Black nieces and Black sisters and Black mothers and Black uncles and Black aunts and Black cousins and Black friends make it home safely today. And every day.

I care about Black today. And every day. Oh yeah, and I agree with these two pics below.

#carryon
#saytheirnames
#icareaboutblackeveryday

I copied all pics from other posts that I saw; I don’t know who to credit because it wasn’t listed anywhere.  However, the point is that the pictures reflect my thoughts perfectly.  It’s ok to bash Colin Kapernick, QB for the San Francisco 49ers because he refuses to stand for the National Anthem during the football games.  Calling him unpatriotic and directing vitriolic commentary towards him and others like him is just fine.  Because this is America, where we can say what we want, as long as what we want is the freedom to bash others who don’t agree with us, right?  And America is the land of the free, as long as we’re the right type: white, straight, male, Christian, employed, educated, married with children…have I missed any?
I am beyond frustrated.  We have yet another clear homicide by a police officer.  Yes, I believe that our service people do a tremendous job: teachers/educators, policemen, firemen, paramedics, first responders, and the like; they are often overworked, underpaid and there are many heroes amongst this group.  Yet there is a definite issue that we cannot ignore.  Police officers need additional training.  Academies need additional programs.  Organizations need more funding.  None of that matters if our mindset remains the same.
People of color matter.  Immigrants matter.  Homeless, uneducated, LGBTIQ, single, disabled – we’re all here, and we all matter.  You cannot, should not, better not in my presence, say that tired trope of “All Lives Matter” without acknowledging that indeed ALL LIVES MATTER; Black Lives Matter, Immigrant Lives Matter, Homeless Lives Matter, LGBTIQ Lives Matter, Single Lives Matter, Disables Lives Matter, Uneducated Lives Matter, Ethnic Lives Matter, Nationalities Matter, Race Matters, Gender Matters, Age Matters…People Matter.
When you ignore and are willfully ignorant about people who don’t look like, talk like, think like or act like you, then you are part of the problem.  Period.