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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.

Hair I Am

Hair is on my mind today. Probably because I am in the middle of “wash day”. Those of you who are natural know what I mean.

I returned to natural hair just over 11 years ago and it has truly been a journey. I had NO idea how to take care of this hair and have tortured it for way too long. I remember going to the Dominican salon one time to get a blowout and to see how long my hair had gotten. I left with the true meaning of “fried, dyed and laid to the side”. It was just to my shoulder, silky and looked nice…for a short while. My hair had a burn smell and didn’t revert back for 6 weeks before I asked for help online. I was crushed to find out that I would have to cut off those ends. I resisted for several more weeks, then finally did the big chop – again.

I was sure my hair would grow back in about 2 years. It’s been six years now and my hair is barely past my ears. During that time, I’ve trimmed it constantly and cut it a few inches at least 4 times. So I know that I contributed to the lack of growth.

During those same six years, I had my hair braided 3-4 times back to back (where or where are my edges now?); I combed my hair every night for about 6 months straight; I twisted my hair every night for about 3 months straight; I tried to ‘wash-no-go” 10Z hair. Yes, 10Z; my hair is straight from the mother land. It’s thick and super kinky/curly/coily. For a long time, I didn’t like it because it didn’t behave the way I wanted. Until I realized, that I didn’t treat it the way it needed to be treated.

I’ve since watched YouTube videos and read blogs from ladies like me, with 4C hair who learned how to take care of their hair and willingly shared tips. Kinky, Curly, Coily Me!, Naturally Me 4C, and NappyFu all speak about treating your hair like silk, finding products that work, and being patient. I also like Jouelzy and the natural hair maven Naptural 85 – they don’t have the same grade of hair, but I learned how to create some cool hairstyles and DIY treatments from both. Slowly but surely, I have come to know my hair, it’s grade and porosity and density and most importantly, I know that I CAN take care of it and produce great results by myself.

So I am now at a place where I enjoy my coils. I pre-poo, even when I don’t want to, because it makes my hair moisturized and well conditioned. I have found 3-4 shampoos and conditioners I like and plan to stick with those – instead of the 50-11 products I was quick to run and buy every few weeks. I take the time to deep condition (as I’m doing right now), at least twice per month. I detangle, with my fingers. I moisturize using the LCO (liquid, cream, oil) since that works better for my hair than the LOC method (liquid, oil cream). I’m still working on not pulling out knots when I run across them on a regular basis – so it’s still a work in progress. And I am comfortable adding hair.

I learned to crochet braid late last year, and did it for about 8 months off and on. I’ll slap a wig on in a minute – cause it’s quick and easy and they look good on me (mostly). I have yet to get a weave, but never say never, right? Overall though, I am pleased that I am in a good place with my hair. It’s health, strong, thick and growing slowly but surely. I can’t ask for anything else – so I won’t!

Shifting…

Hola good people!

Yesterday I updated my profile and cover photos on Facebook. Now that I’m on it (late bloomer, joined in 2014), and actively participating (fairly regular posts since May 2016), I try to change my cover and profile pics often. Usually I update the cover photo to correspond with the new month, or a great picture from an event during the month, or an inspirational quote that moves me. For profile pics I tend to favor ones that are usually me or a cool animated pic like this one:

SassyLady

It’s colorful, and she looks like she is cool yet fiery, smooth yet sassy all at the same time – kinda like me.

Today I posted this profile pic.

Queen Shift

I think it speaks to my current situation. I am in transition in several areas of my life, so I consider this time as a work in progress. The etymology of my name is Divine Queen in Greek, so I’ve taken to using that nickname – see the QueenD113 moniker on this site.
Until I am able to share more, this is my motto: There is nothing impossible for a QUEEN on a mission to shift herself into a better position. Let the shifting begin. I am moving out of my comfort zone and stepping into some fresh new areas. It’s quietly exciting and slightly scary at the same time. Scary because it’s the unknown for me, and quietly exciting because it involves several dreams being realized. That’s all I want to share for now.

Oh, except this:

Godfidence

It’s my cover photo on Facebook, and a reminder of Timothy God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. With Him and confidence, I know I’ve got it. Soon you will know it too. Onward and upward!

Colin Kaepernick and the new age of athletic activism

 

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) stands on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Much has been made lately of San Francisco Forty Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his recent refusal to stand during the playing of the national anthem before the game.  He explained it by saying “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”  Very rare to hear that from any prominent pro athlete these days.  Of course the condemnation was swift and inevitable, everything from police union spokesmen with hurt feelings demanding an apology to offended right wingers referring to Kaepernick as a terrorist, a reverse racist and other terms that can’t be repeated here.  My take?  Kaepernick has every right to express his opinion, he is not required by law or by the NFL to stand for the national anthem and he’s not doing anything wrong.  What’s really refreshing is to see someone in his position taking a stand which could be costly for him in public appeal, endorsements and the overall future of his career.  So far he doesn’t seem to be fazed by it.

Kaepernick represents what many felt had gone the way of the station wagon, the 8 track tape and leaded gasoline, the activist athlete.  Up until the early 1960s, any athlete fortunate to make it to the pro level was very careful not to engage in social issues.  Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball was activist enough and that was just to play the game.  As the Civil Rights movement gained steam, however, more and more felt compelled to speak out.  NBA legend Bill Russell, before the 1961-62 season, was refused service in a Kentucky restaurant before an exhibition game and in response he and other black teammates flew home.  Because he realized that many of the same white fans who cheered him on the court called him and other blacks the N word behind his back, he once stated “You owe the public the same it owes you, nothing! I refuse to smile and be nice to the kiddies.”  He referred to Boston, where he helped the Celtics to win numerous championships during the 1960s as a “flea market of racism.”  Everyone knows about the popular heavyweight great Cassius Clay converting to Islam and changing his name to Muhammed Ali which alienated many white Americans.  Even the most mortified among white Americans, however, were not prepared for Ali’s refusal to submit to the draft or his declarations that “I aint got no quarrel with them Vietcongs.” and “No Vietcong ever called me n—-r.”  Before the 1968 Summer Olympics, many black athletes talked about boycotting the games to protest racism in America.  Among those was UCLA center Lew Alcindor, who we now know as Kareem Abdul Jabbar.  The boycott never materialized, however, and it was decided to leave any decision to protest, or not protest, up to the individual athletes.  Two of those were sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who finished 1-3 in the 200 meters, with Australian Peter Norman finishing second.  During the playing of the Star Spangled banner, Smith raised his right black gloved fist while Carlos raised his left black gloved fist in a “black power” salute.  Norman, who remained friends with Smith and Carlos until the day he died, wore a button in support.  Smith and Carlos were sent home and were vilified by the press and the public but are now regarded as heroes.  Norman was barred from future competition in Australia but never apologized for supporting his black American friends.  Abdul-Jabbar, who refused to play on that year’s Olympic team, to this day speaks out against things he finds wrong in society.

Compare the before mentioned individuals to who we have seen over the last three decades and where is the comparison?  Society has changed for the better but many would argue that there has still been much left to improve.  Michael Jordan, considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time, was notorious for shying away from social issues.  When asked about endorsing former Charlotte NC mayor Harvey Gantt in his 1990 campaign against Jesse Helms for senator he reportedly said (and later denied) “Republican buy sneakers too.”  During the 1992 Olympics, the first year the pro athletes were officially allowed to play, as part of the “Dream Team,” Jordan threatened to not take part in the victory ceremony due to the warm up suits being manufactured by Reebok while he was under contract with Nike.  In 1972, the U.S. men’s basketball team refused to accept the silver medal in protest of what was perceived as them being cheated out of the gold medal game in favor of the Soviet Union.  Compare that to millionaire athletes standing up for the grand cause of representing a shoe manufacturer 20 years later.  Draw your own conclusion.

One notable exception is former Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf who in March of 1996 was suspended one game by the NBA for refusing to stand for the Star Spangled Banner.  Abdul-Rauf claimed that the U.S. flag was a symbol of oppression and tyranny.  He worked out a compromise with the NBA where he would stand and pray  during the playing of the anthem.  Many compare Kaepernick’s more recent stance to Abdul-Rauf’s.

Let me be the first to say that no individual, celebrity or not, should be compelled to be an activist.  People should be free to do what they feel is right and it isn’t up to me or anyone else to make that decision for them.  I myself have defended Jordan and others against charges that they don’t get active enough in social issues or do enough for the black community.  My issue with Jordan has been that while he has the right to keep his political views to himself, he has shown himself to be quick to stand up for the grand cause of Nike and anything that affects his financial bottom line and that represents what many feel to be the problem with today’s athlete, more about making money than about what’s going on the world outside of sports.

What we have seen in recent years, however, is more and more athletes speaking out on issues that matter to their community as a whole.  In December of 2014, five members of the St. Louis Rams protested the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson MO police officer Darren Wilson by entering the stadium with their hands up.  Cleveland Cavalier superstar LeBron James, along with teammate Kyrie Irving and other players wore shirts with the slogan “I can’t breathe.”in protest of the death of Eric Garner due to a police choke hold.  That would have been unheard of a decade ago.  Even Jordan contributed to President Obama’s campaign in 2008 and about a month ago spoke out against police brutality and the murder of police officers in retaliation.  I have not heard any news reports yet of Hell freezing over.

I have no idea where Kaepernick’s career goes from here but I predict that as far as his protest goes, history will be kind to him as it now is to Russell, Ali, Smith, Carlos and Abdul-Jabbar.  In the meantime, the boos will be rained down on him, the calls for him to be cut (which may happen anyway due to his performance) will intensify and he will surely receive a threat or two.  I have a feeling though that like the before mentioned, he will end up not regretting a single moment of it.

See, even sweet little Gabby isn’t immune to the vilification

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Anyone care to tell us what’s wrong with the above picture?

 

Nothing, right?  Okay, tell us what’s wrong with this one?

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Still nothing, right?

 

What do the individuals in these photos have in common?  Both show USA athletes on the victory stand while the Star Spangled Banner is being played.  The former pic is Gabby Douglas receiving her gold medal as part of the winning women gymnastics team.  The former is of men’s shot put winner Ryan Crouser and American silver medalist Joe Kovacs.  There is one big difference that stands out though.  Yes Douglas is a black woman and Crouser and Kovac are white men.  But which one received condemnation, hate and vitriol from many in the social media universe for not having her hand over her heart during the playing of the national anthem?  I’ll give you three guesses.

For those of you who don’t know, Gabby became the first black women to win an individual Olympic gold medal in gymnastics in 2012 by winning the women’s all around.  She won another gold medal in the team competition, making her the first American woman, black or white, to win both.  I have observed, as well as many others, that whenever a black person breaks through in an area in which our very presence, let alone success, is rare, there are some whites who are, at best, uncomfortable with it and, at worst, threatened by it.  We saw it with the hatred thrown at tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, speed skater Shani Davis and, most recently, Cam Newton.  The Williams sisters have been accused of having bad attitudes and have had nasty comments about their femininity thrown at them for years.  Davis was accused of being unpatriotic and of having a bad attitude during the 2006 Winter Olympics when he refused to take part in the men’s team pursuit at the last minute so he could concentrate on his individual events.  When he came back to win another gold medal in the 1000 meter event in 2010, some reporters talked more about his attitude and demeanor in 2006 than they did about him repeating as champion in his best event.  Cam Newton is arguably the most dominant quarterback in the NFL right now and last year he had an outstanding season leading the Carolina Panthers to a regular season record of 15-1 and eventually to the Super Bowl.  He received much attention for “dabbing” in the end zone after a touchdown (not to mention handing the ball to children in the stands) and other expressions of joy.  For that he has been called a thug, a bad influence and everything else but a child of God.  Of course there are many who still believe that the quarterback p0sition should be the exclusive domain of white men who, in their minds, are more intelligent and have greater leadership skills to lead an NFL football team.  Go figure.

Of course only a miniscule number of white bigots are going to publicly admit to having an issue with black people breaking through in areas in which white dominate.  The days of umpires yelling “Get those n—–s off the field!” ended well over 60 years ago.  Instead we get manufactured crises, claims of bad attitudes and not being a team player.  Gabby, who already had to deal with criticism about her hair mostly from a handful of shallow black women, had to deal with criticism about her not smiling enough and seeming to bitter and upset about not having the opportunity to repeat as all around champion.  I don’t know of anyone, even those well conditioned enough to be Olympic athletes, who have enough in them to keep a smile on their face 24-7 just to avoid having their emotions analyzed, but l guess Gabby is supposed to be special.  That was before her egregious act of treason on the medal stand.  Among her critics was Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke who devoted a whole article toward the incident.  Gabby issued a tweet in which she apologized, explaning that she didn’t mean any disrespect and that she was overwhelmed at what the team had accomplished which Plaschke responded to with “If Douglas was truly overcome with emotion as she claimed, that would have been visible, yet her expression was black and distant.”  Excuse me?  The most prolific mind reader and body language expert in Southern California, knowing that it would be pointed out that very few athletes at sporting events put their hands over their hearts explained the lack of criticism there with “Except those players aren’t representing an entire country as it’s flag is being raised to the world.  The next time Gabby Douglas stands on a podium for the national anthem, she can forget the words, disagree with them, protest them.  But there’s hoping she never again ignores the weight of their meaning.”  My head is still spinning from that.

Let me note that we still haven’t gotten Plaschke’s body language and mind reading analysis on Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs.  It’s doubtful that we ever will.

To be fair, I do not believe that the criticism and hostility directed toward Gabby Douglas and the others mentioned earlier comes from a majority of whites.  Gabby was considered by many to be America’s sweetheart in 2012 and her beaming smile and personality delighted many just as much as her electrifying performances.  The Williams Sisters, especially Serena, are acknowledged as being two of the greatest female tennis players of all time and if you took a popularity polls of NFL players, Cam Newton would probably be near or at the top.  The negativity, however, still shows how long we still have to go.  Just like President Barack Obama’s election in 2008, and reelection in 2012, show how far the U.S. has progressed in terms or accepting black people in previously white only clubs, the disrespect, hate and vitriol thrown at him show that old habits die hard.  No one is suggesting that black athletes or other prominent individuals should be free from criticism but what is that criticism based on?  What white speed skater would have had his patriotism and commitment to his team questioned for wanting to concentrate on his individual events rather than a team pursuit he was asked to join at the last minute?  What other tennis player would have been accused of disrespecting her opponent after a loss simply for saying “I didn’t play my best.” as opposed to showering her opponent with praise or be criticized, for, God forbid, having interests outside of tennis such as fashion design?  Black people in certain positions are often made to feel like they have to almost walk on water in order to avoid criticism and they usually have two choices, walk on eggshells on a constant basis with the hopes of maybe not rubbing anyone the wrong way or develop a “To hell with it” attitude which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.  I doubt that Gabby takes that approach but I hope she realizes also that you can’t please everybody and it’s not worth the stress to even try.  If she is as smart as she is talented, and I believe she is, she’ll take the right approach for her.

Ms. Douglas, who according to her mother was driven to tears by all the social media negativity, will continue to be one of America’s most popular athletes and will get past all this even stronger, just like Venus and Serena Williams, just like Shani Davis and just like President Obama.  Right now she is getting a hard lesson in how a certain segment of our population will never see her as anything other than a n—-r gal who doesn’t know her place.  As for her multiracial, multicultural support base, which I am proud to be a part of, the only place she belongs is the top of the victory podium, hand on heart or not.

Lochtegate & Privilege

#Lochtegate When I first heard the news, I was sadly surprised; followed by more surprise when the IOC denied it. I mentioned that their story was probably a coverup for some foolishness they caused.

And apparently that’s what they did. I know they already earned their medals but there should be some type of sanction for their behavior. Yet here is what the IOC had to say: “I do not regret having apologized. No apologies from him or other athletes are needed. We have to understand that these kids came here to have fun. Let’s give these kids a break. Sometimes you make decisions that you later regret. They had fun, they made a mistake, life goes on.”

Ummm…duuuuude, seriously?!?!?
I thought you were considered an adult at 18; Lochte is 32. And if there are no consequences at all, when they do this again, do you shrug your shoulders even more?

In discussion w #myvips and I said “Man, I wonder what would happen if you guys made it to the Olympics and we saved our money to go support plus vacation in that country, only to hear that your lives were in danger, only to find out that you made it all up.”

Youngest #vip says, “It wouldn’t be good for me, not at all.” You better KNOW IT!

Rio has enough real issues without them adding fuel to the fire with this fake ish, lack of remorse, and excused behavior.

Shameful!