23823733_138888600215765_3100894069052669952_nI mark the beginning of this holiday season full of gratitude. Grateful for my family, blood and chosen, old friends and new, each of whom love me in their own way as much as love them.

Grateful for the privilege of having known and loved friends that didn’t live to see this day. Derek S. and Priscilla S. – may your souls find rest in the hereafter knowing how much you were loved.

Grateful for this peach and contentment that has enveloped me like a warm blanket.

Grateful.

Thankful.

Joyful.

I wish the same for you.

“Satisfying and compelling” – K. Austin Collins, The Ringer

“gorgeous digital cinematography…deserving to be seen on the big screen.” Simran Hans, The Guardian

“The story is centered on racism, on the fears, the humiliation, the terror, and the violence inflicted upon black people in the south by whites.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

In the name of art, the trauma of Black souls and bodies is yet again the focal point of the critically acclaimed film, Mudbound. Writing beyond this sentence has proven to be quite difficult for me.

Expressing the complicated emotions that bubbled up as I watched the story unfold has proven to be no easy task. A story told repeatedly over the years. A story that Hollywood apparently never gets tired of telling but one that many Black Americans (i.e. ME) are sick and tired of seeing. A story where Black Americans are under the thumb and heavy boot heels of white America forced to choose between dignity and life. A story where, more often times than not, a white savior is always present because of course, “not all white folks”. A story that film critics fall all over themselves to reward with praise and accolades. (The Guardian 4 stars; Rotten Tomatoes 97%/5 stars; RogerEbert.com 4/5 stars; IGN.com 9.1/10)

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I do not consider myself a film critic nor did I major in cinematography so I can’t speak to the technical aspects of the photography, editing, lighting, etc. Having never acted a day in my life, I will spare you my opinions on the performances given by the talented thespians. Save to say that I forgot Mary J. Blige was Mary J. Blige. Whether to attribute that to her mastery of the craft, the compelling story, or my state of mind I have yet to determine.

As with the slave narrative, I can go the rest of my life without seeing another movie where Black people are subjected to physical and emotional trauma at the hands of white people, where Black men and women are forced to choose between their dignity and their lives as well as those of their loved ones. On more than one occasion, you see this play out in the movie.

  • The young black soldier just returning home from his WWII tour of duty in Germany faced with the unbridled hatred of an older white man who reminds him of his place.
  • The black sharecropper with a broken leg under doctor’s orders to stay off his feet for 6-8 weeks who is pressured into leasing a mule from his white landlord farmer/boss in order to plant seed immediately.
  • The black mother whose assistance is demanded to care for the white children with whooping cough and subsequently offered a job to cook, clean and care for the children when she has no inclination to leave her own family – as if she actually has the choice to decline without repercussion.

Ever present throughout are the antagonists: the mild mannered educated and cultured white woman, her equally educated engineer-turned-farmer husband who knows his position and power and exercises it like a skillful surgeon with a scalpel, and the hateful bigoted patriarch of the white family.

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And then we have the “savior”, the great white hope, the “see, not all white people” knight in shining armor, who is, by the way, absolutely and unequivocally the most dangerous of them all. It is his actions and behavior that places the black family directly in the crosshairs of those looking for any reason to inflict hurt and harm.

I walked away from this film as I do most films of the same nature – pissed off and tired of  the same theme play out before my eyes, again. I know it all too well having been told stories by my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. What I really want filmmakers, both black and white, to understand is that there is more to the post-slavery Black American narrative than suffering.

To my Black brothers and sisters, if you choose to see the film, brace yourselves. Or you can save yourself the misery and wait for the February release of Black Panther and walk away with your head held high, chest out, back straight, feeling affirmed, empowered, and loved in all of your blackness.

 

 

 

“When someone’s delicious passive-aggressive pettiness directed at you makes you say “well done’ and you giggle without the urge to reciprocate…that’s #growth.”

pettyThis was my Instagram post Sunday morning but allow me to give it some context so that you can enjoy it completely…as I did.

I live in a townhouse, an end unit. Between my building and the one next to it, there is the “common area”. My neighbor who lives in that building’s end unit is a Black woman and a dog owner, like me.

When I let Lola out to potty, she goes in this 20 foot space between the buildings, in the front and sometime closer to the neighbor’s side. Recently I have been extremely lax in picking up behind Lola, allowing a few days or even a week to pass before I do a massive “poop-pick-up”. I know…bad pet owner here!!

Sunday morning during our daily routine, Lola is out and I notice poop has been tossed closer to my driveway in a random sort of way. Immediately I know what’s up!! I giggled so hard at the level of pettiness but I could not get angry because I KNEW it was a response to me being an irresponsible lazy pet owner.

I decided to write a note to my neighbor which read as follows:

Wrong is wrong.

Admittedly I have been lax in picking up after Lola. Your deliciously petty move made me laugh really hard but also got my attention. I apologize for being the lax lazy neighbor. Please enjoy a cup, or two, of coffee on me! Hell, make it hot tea and sip with satisfaction.

Mea Culpa!

Included in the note was my name, number, and a $10 Starbucks gift card.

A couple of hours later, I received the following text message.Screenshot_20170911-144549

Lesson? Humility and being able to admit when you’re wrong will bring you so much peace. Never stop trying to be a better version of yourself!

Namaste.

 

 

Never enough. Or am I too much?

Unlucky in love is what I am for sure.

terribleYou’re cool, a good girl. An awesome woman who is smart, funny, caring, nurturing with a good head on your shoulder. Any man would be more than lucky to have you on his arm as his life partner or wife. That man isn’t me though.

The all too familiar ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ send off.

When I find myself in the same situation repeatedly, I am compelled to do some self-assessment which begs me to question…

-What am I doing that lands me here over and over again?
-What is it about me that drives them away or gives them pause?
-Why am I not enough?

Here I am, almost 50…wondering.

Am I unlovable? Oh, I’m fuckable…friendable (is that even a word), one with whom you can have deep meaningful conversations on everything from world politics, religion, to social issues and the latest fads, laugh, joke and be your silly self. But, I cannot have your heart.

All of the aforementioned is what he (each and every “he”) wants in his life partner/wife/mate…sans me.

Oh, but we can still be friends.

Yeah…. NO. I am not into collecting male friends like souvenir magnets to hang on the refrigerator door.

Another thing I know for certain is I am tired. I am sad. I have virtually no hope that things will change. I have nothing left to offer in the area of optimism. It is time to accept the hard truth that I will probably be alone forever. My RSVP will never include a plus one.

Well-meaning loved ones rush to offer words of encouragement and positive antidotes to affirm admonitions of how important they think it is to remain hopeful and steadfast.

Not now. Please…. Not. Now.

Sit with me. Hold my hand. Hug me tightly…quietly.

After not seeing or communicating with him for almost three months, I thought when I finally did see him that my heart would stop and my stomach would drop -neither happened when I ran into him in the hallway today.

13100890_10207943549445542_7039338577417378047_nWhat did linger was a nervous energy similar to the caffeine shakes I get after taking a NoDoz. What lingered was this nagging urge to cry. Through stubborn pride and self-respect I willed myself not to shed a tear.

At the very moment we made eye contact, the person I was calling on my phone answered diverting my attention thus leaving the exchange to an acknowledging nod and half smile in response to whatever it was you mumbled. So here we are several hours later and you haven’t reached out to say anything.

As I have reminded myself so often in the past months, if he wants to talk to me, he will reach out. In the meantime, keep moving forward toward the day when I will no longer love him.

Loyalty.

What does that mean to you? To me? How does it manifest itself in your life? In mine?

loyaltyRecently I posted an old picture of some family on Facebook. This picture brought back many warm memories but also some very painful ones. Bitter sweet and conflicted, it invokes emotions that reveal just how complicated and conflicted life can be. That picture’s image is juxtaposed against the actual reality I was experiencing at that time. Pictured are loved ones who have passed to the next realm, a few that are still with us and despite the seemingly boyish grin, a child molester.

When posting the pictured, I tagged several extended family members so they could enjoy their own trips down memory lane. Forgetting that most of those relatives are friends with “He Who Shall Not Be Named” (HWSNBN), I was taken aback and shocked he requested to tag himself in the picture – a request that I have ignored. But this brings me to the question of loyalty.

Many, if not most, family members know what happened because I told them years ago. They are all his FB friends, except for my mother. It bothers me and I wonder is it unreasonable for me to want her to NOT be connected with HWSNBN?

Even though I have forgiven, I have not forgotten nor do I allow him access to my life. Is it asking too much to want all of my immediate family to cut ties with him as well? Does loyalty to me preclude them having any contact with him?

As I sat in the amphitheater listening to Joe Williams’ baritone voice, I longed to talk to my dad. I find myself walking to another section in the amphitheater and sitting on my dad’s lap. Laying my head on his shoulder, I tell him how much I miss him. He responds be telling me how great Joe Williams’ voice is and how I just missed his performance with Joe Sample. The rest of the conversation is a blur but it was more about some great musicians.

This happened last night. It was all a dream. My father’s been deceased 17 years.

I went to bed last night feeling some kind of way about my current life situation and I longed to talk to my dad. It’s been 17 years but I still miss him. The older I get, the more I miss him.

FramptonLiveI could engage my dad in hours-long conversations just about anything but talking about music made the man glow. GLOW! I remember being 9 or 10 years old standing in the driveway of our home to view the lunar eclipse when he opened the trunk of his car to retrieve a pair of binoculars when I saw an album with a white man on the cover. I asked, rather incredulously, why he had that album.  “Baby, that’s Peter Frampton!” He goes on to tell me how awesome the LP was (Framptom Comes Alive). I can’t recall the details of the conversation only how my dad’s face glowed when he talked about it. He was in his sweet spot.

My dad had a vast music collection. An impressive collection of vinyl of which he was very protective and forbade my sister and I from playing without his “assistance”. That assistance was him taking the album from the sleeve and putting it on the turntable himself. He didn’t want his vinyl scratched son!! I did eventually earn his trust and was allowed to use the stereo and handle his collection without his supervision.

Through my dad, I learned to love music, all music, as much as he did although I’ve never amassed a music collection as he did. But I do remember the very first album I purchased though. Al Jarreau’s “Breakin’ Away”. Daddy was so proud that his 13 year old daughter’s first purchase was mister scat himself and not, say, New Edition or Stacey Lattisaw.

As I sit here listening to George Benson and remembering last night’s dream, I’m thinking of my dad. Still missing him but feeling a little closer through the music.

There I go, there I go, there I go, there I go
Pretty baby you are the soul that snaps my control
Such a funny thing but every time I’m near you, I never can behave
You give me a smile and I’m wrapped up in your magic
Music all around me. Crazy music.
Music that keeps calling me so very close to you.