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Thirteen Thursday Thoughts

“We’re having too good a time today. We ain’t thinking about tomorrow.”

Trayvon Martin (again)

This Trayvon Martin situation will not go away, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it’s such a frustrating, aggravating, disheartening, and infuriating thing. Just when I thought this would be a quieter week, we get blindsided by Geraldo Rivera (1) making asinine comments. According to Rivera, “Trayvon Martin’s hoodie killed him as surely as George Zimmerman did.” I really don’t know where Geraldo gets off saying stuff like this. His own son was even disappointed in him. His logic is just so incredibly flawed to me. It’s like saying that a rape victim should blame the dress she was wearing. Don’t wear dresses or skirts, ladies. Just typing that feels stupid. Meanwhile, a police video (2) surfaced that showed George Zimmerman without any signs of blood or being attacked. This gives me more reason to be angry with the way the Sanford Police Department has handled this situation. Not to be overshadowed, The Daily Texan (3) ran an incredibly offensive cartoon earlier this week. Mind you, this is a student paper that is financed by student fees. The University of Texas just can’t seem to stay out of the news, and it’s not even football season. I’m all for people’s First Amendment rights and their right to express themselves, but those rights shouldn’t come at the expense of other people. I’m more upset with the editors of the paper than I am the cartoonist herself. How was that cartoon given the green light? What’s worse is that the editor tried his best to deflect the anger. #FAIL The statement was later taken down and replaced with a late apology. The damage has been done, though. Am I the only one who is just emotionally spent from all of this? This entire Trayvon Martin situation has reopened a huge wound in the flesh of this country. I have seen the absolute worst in some people, and it is so upsetting. I get tired of writing about racial issues every week on here, but they keep presenting themselves. I’ll have to go back and look at my Thursday Thoughts, but I don’t think there has been one without some instance of racism. It’s not like I even go looking for them. They find me. Just like this Hunger Games (4) foolishness.

Books

Speaking of The Hunger Games, I finished the book in about 3 days, and I loved it. I’ll be picking up the second installment of the series in the very near future. I’m happy I jumped on this bandwagon because it was very rewarding. The book itself is a whirlwind that refuses to let go of you or put you down. I’m sure I’ll find myself in someone’s movie theater this weekend to see the movie. I’m also getting REALLY excited about Eric Jerome Dickey’s new book, An Accidental Affair (5), which isn’t scheduled to be released for another 3 weeks. I realize I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but I have thoroughly enjoyed his work over the years. Here’s a quick rundown of my favorite EJD books:

  1. Cheaters
  2. The Gideon Series (Sleeping With StrangersWaking With EnemiesDying for RevengeResurrecting Midnight)
  3. Chasing Destiny
  4. Milk in My Coffee
  5. The Other Woman

Yes, I realize I’m cheating by putting four books in my number two spot, but this is my list, and I can never decide which one in the series I like the best.

Sports

Dennis Rodman (6) seems to be having problems again. This hurts me to hear because I was a fan of the troubled, enigmatic, defensive guru. Michael Jordan wouldn’t have gotten those last few rings without him. Supposedly, he’s broke, sick, and could be facing jail time for failing to pay child support. *sigh* I hope he can get his life together. Another basketball great, who I happened to write about last week, is part of a team of millionaires who purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers (7). That’s right, the other MJ, Magic Johnson, is now a part owner of the storied baseball franchise. This man has seriously bought up the city of Los Angeles. I’m really happy for him. Johnson has done very well for himself. It’s a stark contrast in money management when compared to the aforementioned Dennis Rodman.

I have one more basketball note. Skylar Diggins (8) is still playing. I don’t know what to say about it; I don’t know what to call it. I don’t typically watch women’s basketball. There is just something about watching Ms. Diggins in uniform. We’ve talked about this phenomenon on this blog. A few times. She is just that rare mix of beauty, athleticism, and feminism. That’s the best I can explain it. I’m hoping for a Baylor/Notre Dame championship game. No, I have nothing to say about the men’s Final Four (9) this week. It’s Kentucky’s title to lose. That’s that.

The Month of April

I’m very excited about the month of April. First, there are a flurry of movies coming out that I want to go see. Judge me if you want to, but I’ll be there at some point to see Titanic (10) in 3D. Call it nostalgia or something, but I have some strange desire to go see it. I hate Hollywood. They have somehow convinced me that owning the VHS and DVD of the movie aren’t enough to keep me from wanting to pay again to see it in 3D. I won’t take this $17 price tag sitting down. Also, for nostalgia’s sake, I’ll be seeing American Reunion (11) as well. I’m not expecting much, but it’ll give me a reason to watch the first three two so I can relive my high school and college days. I refuse to count those other American train wrecks that tried their best to ruin the franchise. Band Camp?  Naked Mile? Beta House? REALLY?!?!? 

My fellow Threader, MichaelYoungHistory, convinced me to run in a 10K run (12) in a few weeks. I still don’t know how this happened. I’m not nor have I ever been a distance runner, but I’m looking forward to participating in it with a couple other Threaders. I’ve been training and preparing myself for a grueling 6.2 miles. Pray for me. I’m not built for this.

Closing Thought

Once again, thank you to the loyal and new thREADERS who have supported our new Radio Show (13) endeavor. We’re all looking forward to seeing where it eventually goes. Don’t miss Monday night’s show on “Interracial Dating” with TP4, Justinfication, and MichaelYoungHistory at 10pm Central. If you want a refresher, it will be based on this gem from TP4. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/threadradio

-23

 

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Liquid – Episode IV

“Freeze!”

I’m running.

“Freeze, got damn it!”

I hear a gun cocking behind me. I keep running. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch as a bullet just barely sails past my face, nicking me on the cheek. It stings like fucking hell. The shooter isn’t aiming to kill, though. I understand that. The shooter just wants me to stop. But stopping is something I cannot do. I keep running.

“Fuck!” I hear the voice behind me exclaim. I hear the footsteps pounding upon the pavement, hear the huffing and puffing, the hard breathing of someone who can’t afford to fail. They know like I know that it will end tonight. As I run, I look around the abandoned railroad yard I’ve been chased into. I look for an out or at least for some place to catch my breath. I dart between the two stationary boxcars and run for the set of buildings I see just past. I run up to the door in the building on my right, attempt to jerk it open. Fucking shit, it’s locked!

I look back behind me briefly. They haven’t caught up yet. I run towards the building on my left, try to pull open its door. That one’s locked, too. Quickly, I pick up a brick from off the ground and smash it through one of the building’s windows. I don’t intend to climb through it. No, no, the purpose of that is to distract them, to make them think I’ve hidden there… I run to through the next set of buildings, try the doors. Still locked out. I keep running. Finally, in the second to last building on the left side, a door breaks free. I sigh deeply and look up at the heavens, then go inside, making sure to shut the door behind me as quietly and carefully as possible. From there, I find a set of metal shelves and boxes to hide behind. I can’t hide here forever, I know that; I just need a moment to catch my breath… to figure out how it had all gone wrong.

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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in #LIQUID, Literature

 

Liquid – Episode III

The gasp tumbled out of my mouth almost as soon as I saw what was going on.

Before then, it had been a typical day for me. I was six years old at the time, and my brother was fourteen. In the spring, he would walk over to the elementary school when he got out of his last middle school class to pick me up, and together, we’d walk back home. Ordinarily, we’d get home and I’d plop down on the living room couch, watching cartoons while my brother got to work whipping something up for us to eat in the kitchen. But that day, almost as soon as my brother had unlocked the door, we’d heard loud noises coming from the basement. My brother told me to ignore them, so at first, I thought I’d just been hearing things. Except the noises kept coming from the basement… and they kept getting louder… and louder… and louder. My brother told me to turn the television up. I listened to him.

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Posted by on July 7, 2011 in #LIQUID, Literature

 

Liquid – Episode II

“A young man like you… can’t be, what, any more than 16 or 17 years old, right?” The young man glared up from his seat at the metal table.

“Nigga, I’m 21!” The young man snapped at Devon. I guess he expected to get a reaction out of him. But what the young man didn’t know, was that he’d fallen right into Devon’s trap. The kid’s inexperience showed in his response. Devon simply nodded, then looked over in my direction. He was tagging me in. I got up from my resting place up against the back wall of the interrogation room, and walked over to the table.

“So… you’re 21?” I asked him. The hard expression on the young man’s face was easily offset by the fear in his eyes. I could see now why Devon hadn’t been bothered in the slightest.

“Yeah,” the kid said, furrowing his eyebrows.

“What’s your name?”

“Fuck you wanna know my name for, ho?!” the young man snapped. Oh. He wanted to play. Except a whole hour had passed since we’d first busted him, and I was NOT in the mood for games. I looked away from him for a minute, let my eyes travel around the interrogation room. Then, when I felt he’d gotten comfortable, I went in. I slammed my hands down on the metal table and leaned in closely to the young man’s face.

“Look, you little shit.” I started. “I’ve had a long motherfucking day and it’s only 2 in the afternoon. Now, you wanna sit here and lie to me about being 21, okay, cool. I’ll pretend that those three little peach-fuzz ass hairs dangling from your chin make you look closer to 21 than they do to 15.” His lips twitched a bit. The scowl on his face started to resemble a pout.

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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in #LIQUID, Literature

 

Black History 24/7 #1: Raising Fences

Greetings, thREADERS! I decided that today would be the perfect time to kick off my “Black History Year” movement. As was promised in my previous entry, my pledge is to educate you all weekly with a Black History fact or review of something “Black related.” I’m starting off… with a book.

Raising Fences: A Black Man’s Love Story is the second-best book I’ve ever read. I’m fortunate to where people know I’m a huge bibliophile nerd and often ask me to recommend something to them when they’re looking for a new book to read. I don’t mention Building Fences often because, well, for years, it’s been my little secret. I hold it very dear to me because it’s one that I personally relate to in many ways. Luckily for you, THREADers, I feel I can trust y’all with this “secret.” So I’m sharing it now.

Raising Fences is an autobiography written by Michael Datcher, a journalist and spoken-word poet from Los Angeles. With writers like Teri Woods and Vickie Stringer finding their works being deemed too raw for mainstream (when, quite honestly, Donald Goines and Robert “Iceberg Slim” Beck published similar stories decades earlier) and thusly starting up their own “strictly hood fiction” publishing companies that quickly gained a following; and writers like Eric Jerome Dickey, Bebe Moore Campbell, and Omar Tyree firmly staking their claim on national book lists, it was easy for someone lesser known to slip through the cracks in 2001 (though The Today Show Book Club took notice). Datcher’s story is very different from these authors’ works. It doesn’t drip sex or violence, or overindulge in profanity. Its male protagonist isn’t cocky and doesn’t boast about his sexual prowess. Its male protagonist is Datcher himself, a man trying to find love and a better definition of himself that exists outside of the fact that he was brought up without a father.

The premise for the book’s title can be summed up in the opening words of Chapter Two -

“I’ve been obsessed with being a husband and father since I was seven years old. Quiet as it’s kept, many young Black men have the same obsession. Picket-fence dreams. A played-out metaphor in the white community but one still secretly riding the bench in Black neighborhoods nationwide…  [But we young Black men] Hide Huxtable-family dreams in the corner: Can’t let someone catch us hoping that hard.”

That paragraph sets the tone for the rest of the book. From then on, it’s clear that Datcher is “wide open” – he’s baring his soul for the reader, seeking neither affirmation nor encouragement, but merely just wanting some place to tell his story. And it just so happens that the pages of this book serve as Datcher’s safest haven. Without giving away too much of the story, Datcher recounts many things throughout the book, including how he dealt with being an adopted child; life-changing, borderline traumatic encounters with police at a young age; how his earliest approach to sex was based upon him wanting to “measure up” in the eyes of his boys; and how he found therapy (and perhaps rebirth) in prayer and especially in poetry.

Poetry plays a huge part in Raising Fences. Datcher lets readers know early on of his involvement with the World Stage Poets of Los Angeles, but that doesn’t prepare them for how fluid the book actually is. Building Fences reads like a 280-page epic poem, a Black man’s Beowulf where the “Grindel” is his own personal demons and self-questioning. Chapter by chapter, as Datcher bounces back and forth between childhood, young adult experiences, and his adult life, readers will watch him grow before their eyes. They’ll see him stumble, see him (re)gain confidence, see him become a stronger, more self-assured man… so much to where, at one point, he relies upon his love of poetry in order to take the most daring leap of his life. Datcher also inserts some poems written by his fellow World Stage Poets. I first read this book in 2003 and even now, I still feel affected by the “Raising Children” poem.

I strongly recommend every young Black man read Raising Fences; but really, anybody should. It provides an unflinching, vulnerable look into the mind of a Black man. It doesn’t make excuses, it doesn’t say “this is the way a man acts because that’s what a man does.” Instead, this book provides readers with an alternative image: Often, the Black man is depicted as someone with built up brick walls shielding his spirit and feelings. This book recognizes the other kind of Black man, one who is trying to “raise fences” around the life he is trying to build – fences just high enough to protect his dreams, but not so high that they shut out anyone willing to hear his story.

 

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Blind with Two “I’s”

So this post was inspired partly by the recent holiday – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day – and as well by fellow #ThreadBlogger primemeridian11′s entry on purposeless venting.

It has often concerned me when people refer to someone as the “next so-and-so.” I’m sure you’ve done it before. We all have, myself included. There was a time when I definitely wanted to be the next Michael Jordan. I wanted to go to The University of North Carolina on a basketball scholarship and everything. And then my older cousin dunked on me when I was five, sending both that dream and the backboard and rim we’d nailed to the tree in our backyard crashing down (credit must also be given to the fact that my jumpshot became fantastically atrocious by the time I was 12).

In high school, I “had a dream” of wanting to write the Black man’s Waiting to Exhale. Having read the actual Terry McMillan work prior to seeing the film – and having heard quite a bit amongst my female friends already that “Niggas ain’t shit”) – I was CONVINCED that Black men needed a side of the story, too! And I was going to be the one to write it! Then I stumbled upon the “Black books” section of my local library. And I read Carl Weber’s Lookin’ for Luv. I read Michael Baisden’s Men Cry in the Dark. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had that idea for a “Black man’s Waiting to Exhale.” And both of those books, while well told in their own regard, didn’t quite live up to McMillan’s original in my eyes. So my goal has now adjusted: now, I just want to write a great novel, period.

I think everyone needs role models, people or things we set as an idea of what we want to attain or live up to once we reach a certain point in life. And it’s practically human nature to have a comparison standard, to establish something in relation to (or to measure against) something else. However, we should be wary not to confuse a standard with what I have come to refer to as irreproducible ideal (I.I., for short). So, what exactly is an irreproducible ideal? It’s an image that we build up to the point that it transcends common sense and logic – something we aspire to be or have, without fully taking into account that there can only be one like it. In embracing an irreproducible ideal, we unfairly minimize our own potential for greatness. We can’t live up to that, because it’s already BEEN lived up to, if that makes sense.

I’ve heard people say they want to be “the next Oprah.” Some women may have unconsciously (or willingly) adopted a Denzel principle, whereby they’re looking for “the next Denzel” in a future mate. For years, I felt like Black people were waiting on “the next Martin Luther King, Jr.” or “the new Malcolm X” to come along in order to feel energized to mobilize for a cause. Relating this to my earlier mention of primemeridian’s #ThreadBlog post, Black viewers keep waiting for “the next/new Cosby Show.” When television programming with a predominantly Black audience in mind thus falls short of resonating with us the way The Cosby Show did, we are disappointed and discouraged and hate it. The show’s not necessarily under fire because it’s a bad show; so much as it is scrutinized because it did not live up to our OWN expectations. That’s not just with TV, but with everything in life. What did Wale call them, “impossible standards?” If your expectations are so high, why don’t YOU create something… why don’t you BE something that lives up to your own expectations, instead of relying on others to?

We need to stop with this “I’m/she’s/he’s going to be the next” so-and-so mindset. It’s good to look up to moms, or grandpops, or LeBron James or Lil’ Wayne. However, let us keep in mind that God creates us ALL uniquely. There is something special about each and every one of us. We’re irreproducible. There will only be one MLK. There will only be one Oprah. There will only be one Beyonce’. As I had to learn, there will only be one Michael Jordan. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be just as distinctive as these people are.

A friend of mine, C.J. Robertson, once said, “In contemporary times, nothing is more radical than being yourself.” Don’t allow yourself to be blind or confined by an irreproducible ideal. Seek out good examples of people who are where you want to be, but don’t set a high expectation for yourself based solely upon where that person is. To quote Paul D in the novel Beloved, “you are your best thing.” Do your best to be an original with your own legacy. Sure, you could try to be the next “them”… but you know what sounds even better? Being the first you.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2011 in Literature, Philosophy

 

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Huck Finn’s New Look

I really want thoughts and opinions on this topic.

Basically, two scholars are going to edit Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and remove the “N” word.  It will be replaced by the word “slave” instead.  Any offensive references to Native Americans will be removed as well. Read the article here…

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Posted by on January 4, 2011 in Literature, Philosophy

 
 
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