Friday, April 28, 2006

Ode to Randomness

I have wanted to post something for the last few weeks. There are so many things on my mind. Unfortunately none of them took hold strongly enough for me to come up with a good post.

So...I'll just share my snippets of random thoughts.

My life as an actor has been in full swing lately. In June I'll be performing a one-woman show about the life of Lena Baker. I've also been asked to perform at the NYC installation of the Hip Hop Theater Festival, also in June. Perhaps the thought of trying to learn all these lines has something to do with why I haven't been able to formulate a complete blog post idea. My brain can only handle so much stuff.

The year of the reunion continues, much to my chagrin. I'm certain that High School Boy wants to be my boyfriend. In my effort to be more open I went on a date with him. This time, there was no need for a post-date scorecard. A good time was had by all & if I never see or talk to him again, it'll be fine with me. He's a decent person, but the thought of him touching me skeeves me out bigtime. Hopefully I won't have to have the "there's no chemistry here" conversation with him.

I am officially obsessed with the unfortunate events going on in Durham, NC. Thanks to song4assata for keeping me in the know. Still keeping homegirl in my prayers. The media/legal system is a bitch!

I've done quite a bit of reading during the last few months. Michael Eric Dyson's "Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has The Black Middle Class Lost It's Mind" was interesting. I wasn't buying his argument, but it was an insightful read all the same. Suzan-Lori Parks' first novel "Getting Mother's Body" was enjoyable. May is my month to host the monthly book club meeting & I've chosen that book. I'm certain that the group won't like it. Particularly since the last 2 books have been the typical no-plot-or-character-development-required, "sistah girl" nonsense - and they seemed to enjoy that crap. Well, they won't be reading any ridiculous soap opera dramas this month, no siree. This month we will explore the human condition and emotional growth. They may kick me out of the group.

I constantly find myself angry at some corporation for their business decisions or bad customer service or some other such rant. This week, I'm super pissed at XM Satellite Radio. With no warning, they discontinued the Neo Soul station that I had been listening to 75% of the time. For a few days, I thought maybe they had decided to widen the scope of programming, because whenever I would turn on the radio I heard some rap song. As upsetting as this was, I wasn't quite at "You people are gonna hear from me in a strongly worded letter! Oh, yessir, heads are gonna roll!". No, I was willing to ride it out, positive that I would not be the only outraged listener. But one day last weekend I had to be in the car for longer than usual & I tuned into the station - number 1 on my presets - and they were playing some song by T.I. Still, I managed to keep my hysteria at bay, for a while anyway. I got to one of those ridiculously long stoplights and decided to investigate this matter. I'm still thinking that there might have been a user error. And at first that seemed to be the answer, because upon closer examination, I realized that preset number 1 was no longer XM61 - The Flow, it was XM68 - The Heat. Well, it's entirely possible that I pushed a few wrong buttons and screwed that up - no problem. Still stuck at this red light, I go through the stations to find good ole XM61 so it can reclaim it's rightful place on my in dash listening device. Still stuck at the red light, still scrolling.

68 - The Heat (no thank you)
67 - The City (why would anyone pay $13/month to hear "Urban Top 40"??)
66 - Raw XL (uh...NO)
65 - The Rhyme (old school hip hop - already preset on station 5)
64 - The Groove (old school R&B - already preset on station 3)
63 - doesn't exist (these mf's can't count???)
62 - Suite 62 (urban adult - I'm not even sure what that means.)
60 - Soul Street (at this point I don't care...where is 61???)

You can imagine that there was much more scrolling (this is a really long light) and the intensity was ramping with each push of the scroll button. Well, needless to say, XM Radio decided to eliminate channel 61, for reasons unknown. As upsetting as this is, if they told me that not enough folks were listening to it, I would eventually get over it. But what jackass decided that since I couldn't hear Jill Scott, Amel Larrieux and Kindred, that choice B was sure to be The Ying Yang Twins, Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne??? Help me understand the logic here!

I have already penned part 1 of the "strongly worded letter" and I'm not happy with the response. Heads are gonna roll.

So, you can see, I have been terribly random lately. Any day now I'm sure that I will find some focus.

I guess.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

By Any Means Necessary

Monday, April 17, 2006


It just makes me sick to my stomach.

Three weeks ago no one was talking about it. Not the university, not mainstream media, not the one. Except for a few bloggers. And I wondered if this would become another "underground" story, like Latoyia Figueroa, Rashawn Brazell and Sakia Gunn. I mean, it doesn't take much to become invisible, right? It doesn't take much for folks to blame the victim. All you need is an unpleasant family history (a murdered mother), a not so picture perfect life (a child out of wedlock), a social stigma (homosexuality) or non-traditional employment (an exotic dancer).

But I was wrong. Because the "visibility" (a.k.a. race/power/wealth/prestige) of the accused offsets the invisibility of the victim. Now lots of folks are talking about it.

And most of the talk makes me sick. Folks are talking about prostitutes and their propensity to steal, cheat & lie. Folks are talking about Tawana Brawley. Folks are talking about the morality of earning a living while the children are at home sleeping. Folks are talking about deserving to be raped.

Here's what we know:

Something happened to this young lady. She was badly hurt that night and somebody knows who did it. She and her children will live with that pain forever.

It is so easy to jump to conclusions with limited information. Anyone who watches CSI is certain that cases are cracked in an hour; evidence is readily available; accused attackers fold under the pressure of long interrogations. But real life is not an episode of CSI. All strippers are not necessarily prostitutes and all prostitutes are not necessarily thieves or liars. Lawyers are not necessarily interested in getting the facts out to the public.

Is it so hard to remember that this is a real human being? A person who has to wake up every morning and deal with herself, just like you and me. She is a woman, a daughter, a mother, a friend. And she deserves to be respected as such.

Whatever happens for the next few weeks (or months), let's remember that.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Sponge Barbie Square Pants

I have fond memories of the days when I could go into any clothing store, pick up a size 6 pair of pants, proceed to the register, go home & start trying on outfit combinations. Shopping was fun then - the possibilities were endless - my closet ran-eth over.

And then I turned 30.

I woke up one morning and had a new body.

But I'm flexible. Take the scenario described above, remove the 6 and replace it with an 8. No biggie. Give size 6 pants to smaller friend & wonder if the IRS would consider that a deductible charitable contribution.

Another year goes by and I find myself beginning most days wondering why the dryer keeps shrinking my pants. After a thorough investigation, however,I realized that the dryer was not to blame. Whatever - my search began for bigger 8's and small 10's. And I still don't have enough hangers or closet space for all my clothes. Repeat the aforementioned charitable contribution, only this time, take the tax deduction.

Months go by and I notice that I am wearing the same few pairs of pants constantly, since they are the only ones that fit comfortably. No problem - the stretch phenomenon has swept the nation, so one more trip to the mall & crotch comfort has been restored. Put old pants in the trash - smaller friend probably doesn't want them with missing buttons, broken hooks and busted seams. Increase charitable contribution deduction.....just because.

Actually, I lied. There was way more than just one trip to the mall. In each store I visited, I noticed that the pants were fitting rather strangely. They would be comfortable all over, but there was an enormous gap between my back and the back of the pants. I mean huge. Big enough to fit a soccer ball in.

After talking it over with friends, I discover the reason for this - women's clothes are no longer designed to accommodate and accentuate curves. They are designed for women whose waist is the same width as their hips. I start looking around to see these women for myself. Who could they be? How did they get their bodies to be rectangles? When did the average woman stop being shaped like an hourglass?

More months go by. I consider bringing suit against pants manufacturer, since they're not stretching as advertised. Realize that lawsuits are long and costly & go with Plan B: stop trying to zip & button pants and get longer shirts.

More attempts at buying new pants. (When did shopping stop being fun?) More square shaped pants for square shaped girls.

Plan B is a success for a few months. Until one morning I went to put on some pants and couldn't get my thigh into them. Not a good way to start the day.

More pants shopping. To my delight, several retailers have introduced new cuts for their pants, designed for girls with figures. This has to be good news, right? Wrong. During a fitting for a bridesmaid dress I discover the reason that even "curvy" pants are not a sure thing for me.

There is a 12 inch difference between my waist and my "hips". (You say hips, I say junk in trunk. Semantics.)


But, I'm also a trooper - I fought back the tears and got on the treadmill. And after a few months of working out, not only did the thigh compartment suddenly decide to stretch (must have heard about the pending law suit), but I could zip AND button my pants.


Like most victories, however, mine was shortlived. It seemed only fair to me that my reward for all that sweating in the gym should be not sweating in the gym. So I stopped going. Instead I used my lunch hour for eating and after work I went home.

And then the thunder returned to my thighs.

What was once loosely fitting material had become razor blades, digging into my bikini line.
What was once left only in your imagination had become camel toe.
What was once a fun, quick trip to TJMaxx, had become a painstaking process.
  1. select pants
  2. try on pants
  3. wonder who the hell has thighs this small
  4. guess how many basketballs could fit in the back of pants
  5. tell sales girl , "No I don't need a bigger size"
  6. pick self esteem up off the floor
  7. tell sales girl, "It sucks not to be shaped like a rectangle"
  8. leave store empty handed
  9. consider coming to work in pajama bottoms

But yesterday, all my pants-related dreams came true. Apparently some sympathetic sales girl must have told her boss about the customer who was crying and screaming about square hips and rectangular junk. And that boss must have told the corporate office. And the super stretchy, curvy slack was born! The Gap is my new best friend! (Who knew?)

So for now, I can abandon my thoughts of coming to work naked. I'll be wearing my fancy new black pants every single day until The Gap makes them in a different color. For now, shopping is fun again.

Monday, April 03, 2006

What's in a word?

NIGGER (or nigga or niggah or whatever).

There is a direct and strong link between the word and anti-black caricatures. Although nigger has been used to refer to any person of known African ancestry, it is usually directed against blacks who supposedly have certain negative characteristics.

The Coon caricature, for example, portrays black men as lazy, ignorant, and obsessively self-indulgent; these are also traits historically represented by the word nigger.

The Brute caricature depicts black men as angry, physically strong,
animalistic, and prone to wanton violence. This depiction is also implied in the word nigger.

The Tom and Mammy caricatures are often portrayed as kind, loving
"friends" of whites. They are also presented as intellectually childlike,
physically unattractive, and neglectful of their biological families. These later traits have been associated with blacks, generally, and are implied in the word nigger.

The word nigger was a shorthand way of saying that blacks possessed the moral, intellectual, social, and physical characteristics of the Coon, Brute, Tom, Mammy, and other racial caricatures.

Nick's etiquette class came into his home and with his permission, called him "nigger".


And the poor child didn't know what to do about it. So he kept telling them it was ok. And they kept saying it. Boy, were they having a ball!

The local barber was called upon to consult Nick about the incident and what we heard from him was "Why would you want to hang around some kids like that?" Fair enough question, still not sure Nick (or the teens from etiquette class) have any idea why that's such a hurtful word.

Enter the Sparks adults armed (?) and ready to put these little rich kids in check. And lo and behold, out of the mouths of college educated black adults, "You shouldn't use that word because you might get beat up. It doesn't mean anything to your generation, but it means something to mine. It's for your own protection."

Well I guess he really told them, huh?

Yeah, apparently the Sparks adults are unaware of the history of the word or surely they would have made better use of their opportunity to "school" these youngsters (their son included). I sure hope they can educate themselves before someone calls them another big word that they don't understand.