Friday, October 26, 2007


imagine a world where some people think that something is so important that it becomes necessary to advertise desired behavior to people who they think are either behaving badly or are badly informed on how they should behave.

imagine that the people suggesting desired behavior decide that a good way to advertise this behavior is to print big, bright posters with pictures of the desired behavior that they want to see and then place those posters on city buses.

imagine that some person on the bus sees one of these posters, pulls out a pen, and decided to add their own suggestion of desired behavior to the poster. apparently the poster doesn't say enough. the person on the bus leans over the railing and scrawls, not graffiti, but additional advice for passersby to read.

imagine that that person decided that if you're going to suggest desired behavior, you might do well to target everyone that behavior affects.

imagine that a blogger with a camera phone happens upon this very bus one rainy morning, and notices the brightly colored poster, with pictures of desired behavior, an admonishment from the advertiser, and somebody's editorial addition written in pen. the blogger chuckles, looks around wondering if the others on the bus will think her crazy, and then resigns herself to the fact that she probably is anyway.

imagine she fumbles with the camera, taking video after video but failing to take a snapshot. her stop is coming up, quickly. she might miss her opportunity to capture what could be accidental art! finally, the right method dawns upon the technologically remedial blogger. she snaps two pictures hastily, and walks off the bus into the rainy morning, armed with a visible memory of what made her chuckle... and what made her think... about social advertising, assumptions people make, and the utility of graffiti.

the poster reads: "Think you're pregnant? Get prenatal care as soon as you think you're pregnant - and keep all your prenatal appointments. Give Your Baby a Healthy Start." what's missing are the several pictures of smiling black and latino couples with babies. go prenatal care!

the scribbles read: "If you are man enough to get her pregnant, be man [sic] to Raise your child."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

new developments

first of all, i love my new fabric softener. i switched from dryer sheets to liquid and it makes all the difference! i love it in my clothes... in my sheets... in the linen closet... it's just wonderful.

2006 was the year of change... 2007 is the year of action. i've known this for some time now. but why did i forget that action brings about change? my finances are looking up because of some changes i made to the way i handle my money. my job is looking up because of some changes i made to my priorities. my home life is looking up because of some changes i've made - hey, i moved! (again!)

and i've already started to figure out what 2008 will be. the year of fulfillment. because of this year's actions, some things are getting ready to come together for me on the grown folks tip. dreams i've had for years will manifest. it's a very, very good feeling.

i have to find some dance class or something. any suggestions? i have to stay off the couch, and poetry is lovely but it doesn't work your abs and thighs.

i have to get my passport, too. i am so leaving this country. i don't even know where i'm going first, but there's a whole world out there and i need to go see it. i know i keep saying that, but bear with me. it takes time for someone like me to move on stuff like this.

oh yeah, and i'm recycling again and it feels good.

that's enough randomness and cryptic bragging for one day, don'tchathink?

Friday, October 12, 2007

it's who we are, not what we hear

Let me just say this about hip hop.

The problem is not the music, or the images, the industry, greed, capitalism - none of that.

The problem is culture. The problem is family values. There will always be something that turns a mirror back on society, reflecting the culture in that society. Misogyny, greed, violence, hedonism, materialism - all these things are in mainstream commercial hip hop and other media because all these things are in society. No one recording artist, video model, producer, or record label has the patent on these things. If there was no appetite for these morally questionable displays of vanity set to simple beats, then these opportunists would be out of business.

I don't excuse these opportunists for what they're doing. The problems with today's mainstream commercial hip hop are inexcusable. In fact, that's exactly where things start to go awry - people are excusing the inexcusable. People know some songs say things that don't reconcile with their values, but they like the beat, so they turn it up... with their three year old listening in the back seat of the car. They wouldn't like if their three year old grew up to have a credit card swiped through the crack of her behind, but they'll watch some other man's daughter in that very position late at night while their little girls are sleeping (or up way too late, watching TV too). They would rather their son get a good job when he grows up, but they allow him to hang pictures of admitted drug dealers - street thugs - on his bedroom walls. Not affirming our values - not honoring the values of our grandparents, is excusing the inexcusable, and as long as we let this and that continue to slide under the radar of what we should know is worthy of our time and attention, that which is considered "entertainment" will continue to degenerate. It's not just the music, it's the movies, it's celebrity "news" and gossip, it's fashion - it's culture at large, not just hip hop.

The stuff I hear on the hip hop station as I turn by it disappoints me - not just because it's bad to me, but because I know people are listening and are entertained by it. Not very long ago, stuff like Chicken Noodle Soup and Laffy Taffy wouldn't have gotten airplay, because people would have said, "This song is stupid," and turned off the radio. Rappers who rhyme a word with the very same word in the next verse were once clowned. But as people allow music to dumb down by excusing mediocrity and ignorance, this is the future of radio hip hop. We have arrived. Maybe this isn't where we want to be, but until we change our appetites, we will be spoonfed whatever we tolerate.

If we, as a group, rose to the level of the people we have the potential to be - people hungry for creativity, ingenuity, integrity, and variety, the problems we have with hip hop would ebb away like a bad dream after you wake up. We have to raise, not just feed and clothe, but guide, instruct, encourage, and believe in our children. We have to teach them their worth and about the opportunities available to them in this age where the ancestors have cried, bled, marched, and achieved so much so that we wouldn't have to shake our behinds or shuck and jive, grinning ear to ear, celebrating ignorance just to make a buck. We have to expose them to a variety of music, so they can appreciate a good hip hop sample when they hear it. We have to give our kids the tools to see hip hop and evaluate it for themselves - to separate fantasy from reality, and be able to tell walking, rapping stereotypes from genuine men and women.

In short, we don't need hip hop to go away. If we know who we are and what we're capable of and we give our kids the right tools in life, they'll see the negative things about commercial mainstream hip hop, or other media images and preoccupations for themselves, and respond in kind by rejecting that which is abhorrent, embracing that which doesn't appeal to the basest levels of our existence, and changing the game.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

i appreciate folks

it's nice to be able to share your joys with the people you love, admire, and respect... there's something about seeing yourself through the eyes of others that can give you some idea of the impact that you're having on the world around you. if they share your joys and pains, it's an indication of their connection to you, and if not... well then, let's hope it's a good thing that you know where folks stand.

i am loved.

it feels good to have people to share my life with. it feels good to know people are praying for me, hoping for the best for me, taking joy in my joys, investing concern in my struggles.

i am so blessed.

He ministers to me through the love of others. i know all roads lead back to Him.

all love, all patience, all optimism, all faith...

it all leads back to Him. it all leads forward into Him.

Monday, October 01, 2007

personal is personal

this used to be such a personal blog.

but i feel a little less anonymous here. people who've met and known me in person know how to find this blog. i've had readers who know my (distinctive) given name. and something about that just holds my tongue. somewhere along the line, i became too afraid to talk about myself, and started talking about the state of black america, using capitalization. if you've noticed, and you don't like it, all i can say is, it's just not that type of party anymore.

i've got career things going on right now. i've got money things going on right now. let's not forget the loving relationship things going on right now (this may be a pivotal turning point in my election of more privacy). i'm so busy on the grind, and in the gym, and being involved with my family - my poetry has slowed down so much. i'm still writing preliminary lines in my head that get lost to the four winds because they're never written down. i'm okay with it. this too shall pass.

i'm trying to talk to the Creator more often. it's not easy. once you get out of the habit of doing it, doing it requires effort. it's so silly how when we need him most - those times when we're juggling our worries and our cares with the day-to-day requirements - it's the time we (I, anyway) find it hardest to make time. i'm being pulled back to the church, slowly but surely. i haven't attended regularly in some time, especially since the importance of attendance has waned for me in the grand scheme of faith and faith-based action and living. but i feel that by returning with some regularity, i can regain some balance that i used to have... that i can reclaim some much-needed focus.

i decided at the beginning of this year that this year would be an important one of action. last year, it was all about change. the year before that, it was all about discovery. so many developments are happening with me - i've met milestones that i hadn't even set for myself yet, and it's not even my new year yet: i've still got all of fall and most of winter until this biological year passes into a new one. and yet, the idea of a deadline means little to me. the more i experience, the more i realize the truth of what people say about things happening in their own time - in the Lord's time.

i realize that this whole process, beginning with my exodus from the south which preceded the creation of this blog by mere months, is the process of me becoming who i've wanted to be since i was a child. that amazes me. i'm recognizing the idealistic child i once was in the woman i am becoming. if this is full circle, then what happens next? this is why i need to invest in my connection with the Creator. i don't want to get lost along the way. i have a purpose bigger than whatever i may dream of on my own. my faith can lead me there.

in the meantime, i am seriously pursuing physical, emotional, mental, financial, and spiritual well-being. privately. i can't work it all out here. i believe my written journal will begin to take back the favor i'd bestowed on this public blog and become, once again, the holder of my story - the breadcrumbs of my journey. this isn't a goodbye... it's just a clarification that i haven't lost my rich thought life. i've just pulled it in closer to my chest.