Monday, June 29, 2015

Fighting for Truth, Justice and How to Relate to Each Other as HUMAN BEINGS....

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



Homework review for eternity:
**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 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 ( ) 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 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 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.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What a difference a day makes.....

Banned for life for his hateful, racist rants.  But the dialogue isn't matter what the 24 hour mainstream news cycle says and how quickly they will pounce and salivate over the next news story dripping with controversy and rating spikes.  The only way we're going to keep evolving and elevating ourselves past this kind of blissful bigotry is to keep opening our minds, mouths and ears and really connect with each other -- beyond skin colors, ethnicities and race...beyond sexual orientations and religious preferences...beyond mental illnesses, addictions and physical/mental challenges...beyond socioeconomics and class.  There's still a lot of work to be done and every single one of us is a vital piece to solving the brutal puzzle of inequality, discrimination and racism.  Never underestimate the power one person can wield towards making positive change.

***Check out this opinion piece written in the New Yorker today:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Phrase to ponder for the evening....."Plantation Mind"

Trying hard to put my feet down and ground myself.  Things have been really challenging and chaotic for a while....but I'm slowly catching up to things.  Through it all....I've still been tuned into the news of the world around me thanks
to Democracy Now, Mother Jones, AlterNet and other more progressive media.  There's something that's been buzzing in my head for several days now...And I know I'm not the only one watching the sensational insanity of the story go deeper and deeper into a disgusting mess of anger and behavior far beyond dysfunction and mental instability.

Is it the latest "Housewives" reality drama with yet more women battling each other and behaving badly on nationwide -- er, WORLDwide -- tv and all forms of media ??


Is it another ridiculous installment of that Canuckle-head barely 21 year old
from the Great White North????

Take off, ay.

-- and, again, NOPE (but I did love how Cartman made the Cthulhu smash him while he sang that damn "Baby, baby..." song on Southpark -- ahhh, good times)

NO.......this is all about the shocking racism and bigoted hate flowing out of the (alleged) mouth of the owner of the LA Clippers.  I could write an intense series of novels (and maybe several research papers) about how I'm feeling
right now, but, like many others, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around all the bizarre info swirling around this (allegedly) hateful man.  I just read the newest litany of his past record of disgusting discrimination touching on the housing controversy he was wrapped up in and other
related racially-tinged barbs flowing out of his mouth.  Here's the latest of what I just read on Yahoo:

I can't stop thinking about the phrase "Plantation Mind."  Ever since I heard the (ALLEGED)remarks he crowed about being the reason why his players have things like clothes and houses, admiring their "black bodies" and so much else, I can't help but think about that confused, racist rancher guy in Nevada who Jon Stewart picked apart for his brilliant musings on slavery and knowing "things about the negroes" -- um...yup:

Check out this glorious bit from Stewart's show from last week:

  I just can't shake it.  The more I think of that NBA owner's (ALLEGED) sick, racist ranting and bigoted past, I can't stop thinking of the brutal "mandingo fighting" scene from Tarantino's Django Unchained.  Wealthy racist owner making his big bucks from watching a team of his predominantly Black men he "owns" through their contracts and other stipulations sweat, work and beat their asses into exhaustion for him?  Don't get me wrong....I've loved watching basketball and other professional sports since I was a kid back in the 70's cheering for the Chicago Bulls, Cubs, Da Bears and the Chicago Sting (our very first soccer team).  I grew up with plenty of kids who would be out playing basketball at local basketball courts til nearly midnight because they were so into their games.  I know there are men who passionately breathe, eat and sleep the sports they play because they adore the game as much as anyone else in the world lucky to be working a job they always dreamed of having.  I know many play for the love of the game, without a doubt.  I just can't help but think of the glaring comparisons I see swirling around this guy -- not to mention the other white wealthy sports team owners out there with similar racist beliefs (anyone remember Marge Schott???).  The more things change...the more they stay the same.  It's time for serious in-depth dialogues and action.  There's no excuse for anyone to be able to get away with this kind of seething bigotry, particularly someone with such strong power over the lives of others.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Has it really been 50 years??

 I originally posted this back in 2012, but the weight and vital importance of Kitty's story is as powerful as ever.   Like many women of a certain age, growing up in the 1970's, we often heard about Kitty as a cautionary tale as we took part in activities after dark -- particularly in urban strongholds like Chicago and New York City.  When we'd dare to ride our bikes and skateboards into the late evening, we'd hear her storyWhen we were on our way out, alone, to babysit or work into the late evening, we'd hear her storyWhenever we went out to punk rock shows, movies or parties into the late night, we'd hear her story.  Whenever we took the subway or bus home late at night by ourselves, we'd hear her story.  And when the time came to move out on our own as post-college young adults into unfamiliar neighborhoods and large apartment buildings, we'd hear her story.

Kitty's presence in this world should never be forgotten.  It's a blinding light reminding us that we should never give in to being ruled by fear, hate and apathy.  She was more than just a Facebook post or a blurb on twitter. She had a life.  Family, friends and a loving life partner.  Dreams, desires and hopes, like any of us dare to believe might come true.

Honor her memory....


Dare to give a damn about what's happening right outside your door....and KEEP giving a damn.

On March 13th, 1964, Kitty Genovese was brutally attacked and raped while trying to make it home from her late shift at work.  She would've been almost 80 years old this coming July.  Maybe still living a loving, committed relationship with her partner, Mary Ann...with grown children of their own...and loving grandchildren...or at least a crowd of beloved friends and other loved ones who cared for her as deeply as any of us care for the loved ones around us.  But on March 13th, 1964, her future was violently ripped away from her.  And a very large number of witnesses (some said it was around 38 people) heard her calls for help tucked away inside their safe apartments...but no one responded to her screams.  Not one.

Dare to care about the community you're living in.  Whether it's an apartment building in a densely populated big city or homes in the far-flung suburbs and rural areas, dare to give a damn and get to know the people living near/around you.  Fear, racism, xenophobia and ignorance have a mighty hold on our society that gets worse every day.  It's too easy to sink back behind our burglar bars and security doors and turn the tv or computer volume up to drown out the life around us.  As Kitty's case unfolded, there was no shortage of racist bigots who tried to use her murder as a wedge to keep blacks and whites divided and perpetuating the ideas of wild black men on the loose to rape and kill delicate, white women.  Men of ALL races commit violence, rape and murder against women of every race.  They did in Kitty's time and they STILL do today.  Many people still sink back in the quiet shadows when they see crimes being committed or hear screams outside their windows.  Dare to be different.  Dare to care.  Get to know your neighbors and dare to speak up when you see something bad happening.  Honor Kitty's memory and dare to care about the people in your community and the quality of life around you.

**If you've never heard her story before, please listen to this interview featuring her life partner, Mary Ann Zielonko, who lovingly speaks about her and the life they shared together.  So bittersweet:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rest well Bob Casale x0x0x

To those of us of a certain age growing up punk rock in Chicago in the late 70's and early 80's, hearing the word "DEVO" screamed at you out of the loud mouths of various muscle-head jock-offs and liquored-up bigots was pretty much a regular occurrence.  And, ohhhh, those especially colorful days when it was punctuated with the occasional empty/slightly-full bottle of Old Style or Miller High Life being whipped at one's head at a high velocity mid-stride.  Ah, Good times, indeed.  It became quite obvious, that to their sad wee, ignorant minds "Devo" was an uber strange punk-techno-new wave-whatever weird band...soooo, any human being walking around who didn't quite fit the norm -- aka looking like a strange punk-techno-new wave-whatever-kind of weird person -- should OBVIOUSLY be labeled a DEVO and, of course, were only worthy of being shouted at from passing cars or EL platforms.

Still...I wouldn't go back and change one damn thing (well....except for those fast-flying airborne beer bottles and the more combative jockos who felt empowered to try for more up-close interactions, aside from speeding past in their shiny Novas and Pintos).  I was a serious DEVO-tee way back when...right down to sending in for my own red dome and black shirt with white letters.  My love for Devo started with their unbelievable Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! LP.  I'll be honest, by the time I really started to hear the choruses of "HEY-you-effin'-DEVO" being hurled out of those passing Novas and Pintos, I'd already begun to roll my eyes because "Whip It" had begun to climb the charts and play
endlessly on Mtv in 1980.

I still remember watching them on Rock Concert (78 or 79?) in the early days before Mtv and being so in awe of what I saw.  Their experimental/conceptual stuff hit me as hard as the early punk rock/no wave and other underground stuff I had been falling in love with.  I remember how big Pink Floyd's The Wall was in 1979 around the same time as I bought Devo's Duty Now for the Future album.  It was such a huge contrast.  There was no contest in my mind for which band was more progressive and groundbreaking for me.  Punk rock had already blown the doors way off of mainstream music and stadium rock/arena rock shows anyway.  We'd had enough of the 3 minute guitar and drum solos.  Much more radical things were being born. And the 80's had barely started.


Bob 2....thank you for helping us all to wake up and think of what having a "beautiful world" could really mean.  Rest well x0x0x

Devo / Jules Bates / Artrouble / February 18, 2014)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

"Dark Girls" documentary -- A Look At Colorism and Internalized Racism .....

This is a truly thought-provoking and very real documentary
about what it means to be a woman of color in this society, or any others around the world who don't the narrow standards of dominant Anglo/European beauty -- particularly hair texture and skintone/color.  Far too many of us have been drowning and floundering in it since time immemorial.  It's heaped and shoveled from every corner of the media and pop culture.  It festers as long simmering self-hate, colorism and the deep legacies of genocide, colonialism, slavery and lingering structural racism within our communities.  And these issues run just as deep for American Indian, Latina and Asian sisters with darker skintones, as well.

I can't help but think of a sorrowful story my mom used to tell me about my entry into this world in 1967.  She described the Black woman in the hospital bed next to hers and what it was like on the first days they were able to hold their new babies in their arms.  The nurse brought the other woman her newborn around the same time as I was placed into my mom's arms.  My mom said when she looked up at the woman to smile at her and ask how she felt to see her little one, she saw a look on her face that looked like anger and confusion.  She glanced hard at me and then glanced down at the baby in her arms and pushed the child back towards the nurse who gave it to her.  She angrily said "I don't want that dark baby.  I want a light one like hers. I don't want that dark baby."  Mom always said seeing that woman react in such a way was one of the absolute saddest moments in her life.  She also said, for the remainder of her stay in the hospital before she took me home, she never saw the woman ask for her baby or hold her again.

And  Still the stigma burns as bright as the sun.

I've always wondered whatever happened to that child.  Was her mother only suffering from some momentary deep post-partum depression in rejecting her?  Did her mother grow to realize how much she adored her baby and wouldn't want to replace her with any other, no matter how pale or light?  

Or was her rejection the first in a life-long psychological chain-reaction of shame, self-hate, colorism, chronic mental anguish and self-destruction?  

Did she grow into an adult who has continued to perpetuate the same kind of disdain and disgust with her own darker-skinned children/grandchildren, only elevating and praising the lighter-skinned???

I'd like to think that maybe...even in the face of brutal colorism and critical, hateful eyes all around....she grew up to find an endless well of strength, self-love and self-acceptance within herself.  And maybe even the inspiration to take a powerful stand like the sisters in this film and break the cycle of stigma and hate.

Look and listen with your heart and mind.
(The doc used to be available at YouTube, but it's now broken into segments on their site....if you'd like to see the entire doc also check out NetFlix -- As of June 2014, it's streaming on their site now)