Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rhythm In Motion

peace, sistergarteners.

a few of my pieces were just published in In Motion magazine.  check me out, along with a few of the other participants from the first annual Hope Springs Women's Poetry and Performance retreat.  there's also a great article about the retreat.  as i mentioned before, that place, that experience, and those women have forever changed me.  and i am so grateful.

be.  fly.

The Spirit House, photo courtesy of Hope Springs Institute

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"I Wonder" Wednesday

i wonder when it will sink in that MJ is gone.  it's been about 4 months since his passing, and there's still a surreal element to that fact.  at least for me there is...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sister Story: Sarah Kruzan

nnamdi osuagwu over at Ice Cream Melts brought my attention to this heart-wrenching story of a woman who was sentenced to life in prison when she was only 16-years old.

the sentence and the reported comments from the judge are commentary on the lack of value our society places on our children, particular female children.

for more on sarah's story and human trafficking, visit's human trafficking site.

Thursday Throwback (Yellow is the Color of Sun Rays)

so, i really have to make an effort not to live in throwback mode.  they're just so damn good.  but in support of my forward movement, i'll allow myself a weekly venture to the land of throwbacks.  moderation will help keep it in check, right?  so to kick off this installment, we'll visit Soul II Soul's "Keep on Movin'."  get it?  it fits the category of CLASSIC throwback, and it encourages us to move forward!!!  i'm too good sometimes.  you're welcome.  and i dare you not to jam.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tupac and Omar Little: Ode to Dichotomy

"That woman raised me! And for as long as I been grown, once a month I been with her on a church Sunday, telling myself ain't no need to worry, 'cause ain't nobody in this city that lowdown to disrespect a Sunday morning!" -(Michael K. Williams as) Omar Little

"I never committed no crimes that weren't honorable" -Tupac Shakur

i recently got involved in one of those "who's the greatest mc?" (online) conversations.  i'm not nearly astute enough of a hip hop fan to have an informed conversation on this topic.  so all i offered was this: "i can't choose the greatest, but my personal favorite is tupac.  besides the fact that he was dope lyrically, he captured the dichotomy of a lot of black men: the gangsta and the good brotha.  he's the prototype of omar little, if you will.  i just came up with that last part.  i think i'll blog about that now."  so i am.

omar little was by far my favorite character on hbo's "the wire."  his dichotomy was fascinating.  he robbed big time drug dealers for their money and drugs.  but he made a point to pay in full for any items or services he needed.  he spent most of his time engaging in illegal activities, but he consistently escorted his grandmother to church once a month, and he almost never used profanity.  he was a complex man with complex values that somehow seemed simple.  his character was masterfully written and portrayed in a way that made me (and most viewers, i suspect) truly enjoy watching omar shift between the roles of gangsta and good brotha.

i enjoyed watching this beautiful struggle so much, partly because i knew the writer and actor were capturing a phenomenon that really occurs within many men (black and otherwise).  sometimes you hear people refer to the old gangster code or the way street life used to be honorable.  they're referring to the idea that "back in the day," gangsters had a strict "code," or set of morals and values which dictated their behavior and activities.  for instance, omar thought he could safely escort his grandmother to church on sundays because there had previously been an unspoken understanding that one should not disrespect such an activity.  "a man got to have a code."  such a code exists in the midst of all kinds of vile and inhumane acts.

tupac is a classic, real life example of this phenomenon.  and that struggle is what intrigued me so much about him.  it's almost a form of double consciousness.  and while some would call it hypocrisy, it's deeper than that.  the man who wrote "dear mama" followed up with "hit 'em up" and then "life goes on" and so on and so on.  all of these voices were his.  but i truly believe he was struggling with this dichotomy.  and the fact that he honored the good brotha within him by allowing him to speak showed a tremendous vulnerability that men, particularly MC's, don't normally show.  letting the gangsta speak is relatively easy in a world where that's what's fed, encouraged, and expected of you.  tupac was dealing with the conflict between the two.  it was real.

and so are the struggles of many men.

so omar wasn't just a figment of some crafty artists' imaginations.  he was as real as tupac.  perhaps even inspired by him.  art imitating life, indeed.

Coming Home...

round and roud the world will spin.  oh, the circle never ends.  so you know that i'll be coming home... -john legend, "coming home"

this past weekend was homecoming at my alma mater.  sometimes i hesitate to use the term "alma mater," as it's literally translated as "mother of my soul," or more loosely, "nourishing mother."  but i'm beginning to understand and accept that this beautiful institution was indeed a nourishing mother for me.  so much of who i am as a woman, particularly a young black woman, can be directly attributed to having attended this HBCU.  and i'm proud to count it as one of my influential mothers.

walking that campus and seeing my brothers and sisters, some warmly familiar and some new, i felt like i was indeed coming home.  i get this feeling every october, and yet i somehow manage to forget how good it feels until the next time.  and for some reason, visiting that home makes me feel so good about growing older, emphasis on growth.  in that space, i am able to better appreciate the things that i have accomplished since living and learning there.  and i have a sense of renewal, with which i can continue to move forward towards accomplishing more goals.

i love my alma mater.  and i'm grateful for the people and memories that make it so beautiful.

be.  fly.


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