Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Curiouser and curiouser.....and more and more painful.....

Seriously?????   Can you imagine going to pay your respects and participate with peaceful, non-violent intentions and then you turn around and see these guys scowling back at you in their festive camo ensembles????  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I spy with my little eye.....

I spy with my little eye....something that is too surreal and disturbing to be just an innocent misunderstanding.  Seriously???  
What do YOU see?????
Look closer.


**** Check it out:

Monday, July 6, 2015

So proud of this young sister......

Woke up this morning....turned on Democracy Now for my daily dose of hope and sanity....and here she was doing an interview with Amy:


I remember watching the initial footage of her on the day of her brave climb....I wondered aloud, "who is this brave girl???"   

I'm so proud of this young sister.  We are all capable of doing amazing, powerfully brave things.  Each and every one of us.  Thank you for reminding us, Bree.  We all have a stake in working towards peace and liberation.   


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Saturday, July 4, 2015

What are you doing today??

This is always a complex holiday for me.  Always.

Going as far back into childhood, I vividly remember the Independence Day themed coloring books and puzzles and how they were geared towards teaching us little ones about the so-called founding of this country.  Colorful images of historical figures wearing fancy short pants in dramatic poses became ingrained in our young minds.  The messages were sinking in.  But somehow I couldn't quite swallow it all. 

It felt very distant to me.  I felt like a bullied outsider who would never fit because of who my ancestors were.  And I know the exact moment that happened for me.  It was in a grade school history class after reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for the assignments we had to do.  Everything shifted profoundly for me when I read the Declaration of Independence's indictment of King George III and felt the sickening sting of the portion stating:
"...He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."
And I felt a deeper burn when I began reading and processing the Constitution and saw the grave inequities built upon the foundation of slavery.  

In light of all of the hate-fueled racial violence and corruption in these times we're living in, I still feel the sting of reading those seminal documents and the trauma-filled awareness of the daily reality my ancestors were living when those the documents were being argued over and written.  So....yes.  This day is very complex for me.  And I know I'm not the only trying to make daily sense out of the legacy of intergenerational racial trauma.

I'll pass on that hotdog....
and I don't drink anymore, so I'll pass on that cold beer, too.  And I'm not up for any red, white and blue fireworks set to the 1812 Overture.  
I'm taking this day to rest, give thanks and remember the truth about the history of this troubled country.
Here's prayers and thanks to both sides of my ancestors whose shoulders I now stand upon.  
Here's prayers and thanks to my ancestors who walk with me on every step of my journey in this challenging, imbalanced world.  We have to keep working for peace, justice and equality.
Yakoke and Asana ("Thank you" in both Chahta and Swahili)
Sankofa -- We must strive to learn from the past or we will continue to repeat it

Monday, June 29, 2015

How do we relate to each other as human beings??

Brother West keeps planting seeds of truth and clearing away the distracting weeds...

Homework for a lifetime:
**Teach the world something about love in the face of hate

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The flags come down.....the news vans leave.....what happens next??

   A protester scaled a 30-foot flagpole outside the South Carolina State House on Saturday to remove the Confederate battle flag. The police identified her as a woman from Raleigh, N.C.          
 ** Credit Bruce Smith/Associated Press**

SO....What do YOU think is the next step??

I'm thinking...........
Integration, equal quality and opportunities in schools...
Equal quality and opportunities in housing and jobs....
Consistent and permanent efforts to help rebuild low-come communities of color with an eye on activities and services for youth and elders.......
Consistent and permanent quality efforts to work hard on issues of poverty, finding safe quality housing for the chronically unhoused, providing affordable long-term behavioral healthcare (mental health as well as substance use recovery support) and quality primary healthcare would be a fantastic start. 

It's trippy watching all of these conservative politicos trip over each other after being so dug-in about resistance to removing that flag.  And now, they can't get in front of the news cameras fast enough to express their dissent. 

And regardless of what Senator Graham says, removing the names of any so-called "confederate war heroes" from schools and street signs -- particularly in communities of color -- is an absolute priority.  It's an insult and a deep burn to think that people have lived their whole lives staring at those names, some perhaps having knowledge of the true, bloodied history behind them, while others are so innocently unaware.  

As I read his words on NBC this morning, I nearly choked on my coffee to see the statement -- in reference to Robert L. Lee: " If it wasn't for his leadership after the war ... only God knows what would've happened after 1865." 

Um.  Seriously??? I can think of two powerful words.  
This man was not an abolitionist.
This man did not love slaves.
This man believed that freed slaves did not have a right to vote.
This man supported the effort of Blacks leaving the United States and returning to live in Liberia, Africa because America was a country for White men.

The rebel flag may finally come down....but the attitudes that support it may remain as entrenched as ever.

Enlighten yourself and keep the dialogues going....

Food for thought:

***Clockwise from top left: Susie Jackson; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton; DePayne Doctor; Ethel Lance; Daniel Simmons Sr.; Clementa Pinckney; Cynthia Graham Hurd; Tywanza Sanders
**Credit Clockwise from top left: David Goldman/AP; Jeffrey Collins/AP; Leigh Thomson/Southern Wesleyan University, via AP; David Goldman/AP (2); Grace Beahm/The Post and Courier, via AP; Adam Ferrell/The Post And Courier, via AP; Anita Brewer Dantzler, via AP

Saturday, June 27, 2015

What a beautiful new day.......

Friday, June 26, 2015, in Washington. 
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

What a beautiful sight.

Yesterday was such a complicated day.  When I heard the news I cried.  I'm at an age now where I deeply miss so many of my old friends who didn't survive the first wave of the AIDS epidemic.  We should all be growing older together.  They should be here to see this day.  This victory is theirs as much as any of the LGBTQIA folks celebrating in the Castro right now and throughout ever state, county, city and suburb in this country -- BIG and small.  Urban and rural.  Marriage is an equal right for ALL.

Here's to you Miss Bette (fabulous, grand Queen who gave me my first package of eyeshadow and taught me the mantra of "blend-blend-blend!" and had endless artistry with color palettes that were magic for women with beautiful brown skin).....Mikey and MoMo (foreverJoined at the hip and heart)....punk rock Ratzzo and metalhead
Davey....Tim...Carl....Uncle Milo....sweet Rico and far too many other friends I lost to AIDS between 1981 and 1995.  They should all be here celebrating -- and planning their weddings.  How many of you out there can say you remember a time where there were so many funerals happening, you kept the same outfit cleaned and ready for the next one that might be just a week away?  I went through a period where I was so ashamed of saying I was tired of going to funerals.  I was overwhelmed, depressed and filled with so much bitterness and anger about the inaction and bigotry I saw against gay men suffering with HIV and AIDS.  I became very aware of the struggle for gay rights as a kid growing up in 1970's Chicago.  I used to hear so many "what if" conversations on BOTH sides of the issue -- from the paranoid, resistant religious zealots who were quick to sing the praises of Anita Bryant and railed against "Adam and Steve", to the incredible LGBT folks I began to count among my beloved friendships who just wanted to love who they loved and live equal lives like any other person on earth.

Finally....after all of the fighting and political toil...tears, brutal assaults and bloodshed...."what if" is finally here.  And what a beautiful, groundbreaking day it is to say....
I remember the day the supreme court made same-sex marriage the law of the land.   
Not 25 years from now....
or 50 years from now....or 100. 
but TODAY....June 26, 2015.

What a turn....to think back to the time when one used to say there were so many funerals happening you could hardly think....AND NOW -- to be in a time where one might find themselves amidst soooo many weddings happening you might overload on receiving lines, wedding cake and the chicken dance!???

What a beautiful new day. 

                            ****Have a Happy Pride!***

Friday, June 26, 2015

Unique Mayhem

It's been a long, long time since my last post.  Life has been happening.  Ups and downs and downs and ups.  I'm in grad school right now studying for my Masters in Counseling with a concentration in Expressive Arts Therapy.  If anyone would've told me a year ago that this is where I would be today?  I would've taken their temperature to make sure they weren't having a fever dream.  

But here I stand, facing the start of my second year in just a couple months, but it's absolutely bittersweet. 

SO MANY reflections, frustrations, outright anger, shock and other thoughts have been flowing through my mind in all of these days and outrageous times we've been living through, but, after watching President Obama's eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney (http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4542228/president-obama-eulogy-clementa-pinckney-funeral-service ) I feel inspired to say something today.

Here we are again.
President Obama called it "Comfortable Silence."
The funerals for the victims begin.
The flowers, teddy bears, cards, candles and loving posters shimmer in the wind.
Here we are again.
And what happens next?  When the eulogies and funerals are over and the TV cameras and news vans move on to the next 24 hour news cycles....what happens then?

Talk? Yes. 
Do talk. And listen.  You, me....ALL of usFIND THE TIME to talk and listen and understand the construct of race.  Learn about intergenerational racial trauma and liberation psychology.  Challenge racist jokes at work....at school....in the check out line at a store.  If you're around kids and teens, get them involved.  Keep the conversations going. Talk about hate and bigotry....talk about privilege and delusions of supremacy.  Make the connections the real history of this country has with the troubled present we're living in.  Keep the conversations, hope and learning going.  This doesn't all end with the last funeral and eulogy.

I've been thinking so much lately about when I relocated to Louisiana for a very brief time in the 1990's.  I was right outside of New Orleans for a short moment before finding my own apt in NOLA.  I'll never forget how BEYOND surreal it was to ride into town from an overpass and see a massive confederate flag draping the huge roof of a business down below.  And the shock and dismay when we rode into a neighborhood near my cousin's apt.  Every lawn was decorated with confederate flags -- flapping proudly amidst flowers and other lawn decorations as well as suspended from flag poles on their roofs.  It was a sea of flags for as far as the eyes could see on the streets of the neighborhood.  For the life of me I can't remember now if that was during some sort of "the south should've won" kind of yearly celebration or if it was during the 4th of July holiday time.  I can't remember.  But I DO remember as we passed one particular home, there was a noose hanging from its porch near their proud confederate flag.  A noose.  I remember my mouth opened in shock and I caught a glimpse of my reaction in the side mirror outside the car.  And the very next thoughts were cloaked in nausea and disbelief:  
Where the hell was I?  
What the hell year was this?  
And how fast can I move to New Orleans???

Something else that has struck me ever since is how many people I've heard over my whole life who've tried to defend the symbolism of that flag do their frenetic best to sidestep all issues about the civil war being connected with supporting slavery and keeping Blacks subjugated, separate and unequal.  Never in a million years did I ever expect that there would ever be a serious mounting push from so many against the worship and celebration of that flag as a positive image.  Not in my time.   
But here we are.
It's unreal.....and it's about damn time.  

During Reverend Pinckney's funeral, President Obama used a phrase to describe the gun violence in this country, but I believe it really sums up so much of what we're living through -- the gun violence, the racially-steeped police overreactions and brutalities and all of the injustices and inequities being faced by communities of color and difference:
UNIQUE Mayhem.

And I'm STILL having these flashbacks to the footage of that Texas officer who slammed  that young, unarmed, half-naked Black girl in a bikini down to the ground, as if she was poised to do him some grievous bodily harm.

Unique mayhem, indeed.

Monday, June 9, 2014

We've lost our beloved Peoples' Poet.....

I just heard the news about dear Rik Mayall's sudden passing.

Cracking up at the Young Ones helped so many of my deep blues in my 80's college years.  As did his hysterical WOOF's on Black Adder, too.  

 He's left us with such amazing gifts.  I encourage anyone who has never heard of him, or never watched an episode of the Young Ones, to pop some popcorn and explore YouTube for the many oodles of his hilarious wit, delivery and comic timing.  The Young Ones and Black Adder are definitely the perfect places to start.

Rest well, Rik.

I hear the 4 Horsemen are looking for a 5th to join them...and Pestilence and Famine would love BLT sandwiches x0x0x



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

She has helped so many of us rise.......

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."  

"People will forget what you said....people will forget what you did....but people will never forget how you made them feel."


I just don't have the words right now.

x0x0x0x Rest well beautiful, brilliant Maya.