All posts by Coco Rivers

There are many things that I am passionate about, but my favorite obsessions are the written word and anything horticultural. I wear the many hats of a small business owner & entrepreneur, but by far my favorite is my gardening hat. The best days end with the sun setting over a newly planted garden & sweat dripping off my brow. Seeing that which has lived only in my imagination come to life (via ink or trowel) = Priceless. Beautifying the earth one garden at a time ™

A New Toni Morrison Story…

Is on the horizon and I’m besides myself with anticipation. I love Ms. Morrison, she uses fiction to explore truth in a way no one else does. Her perspectives are always insightful, peerless and masterpieces that excavate and explore the human heart in all it’s complexity. No mean feat.

Here’s an excerpt from her upcoming book, God Help The Child, courtesy of the New Yorker:

It’s not my fault. So you can’t blame me. I didn’t do it and have no idea how it happened. It didn’t take more than an hour after they pulled her out from between my legs for me to realize something was wrong. Really wrong. She was so black she scared me. Midnight black, Sudanese black. I’m light-skinned, with good hair, what we call high yellow, and so is Lula Ann’s father. Ain’t nobody in my family anywhere near that color. Tar is the closest I can think of, yet her hair don’t go with the skin. It’s different—straight but curly, like the hair on those naked tribes in Australia. You might think she’s a throwback, but a throwback to what? You should’ve seen my grandmother; she passed for white, married a white man, and never said another word to any one of her children. Any letter she got from my mother or my aunts she sent right back, unopened. Finally they got the message of no message and let her be. Almost all mulatto types and quadroons did that back in the day—if they had the right kind of hair, that is. Can you imagine how many white folks have Negro blood hiding in their veins? Guess. Twenty per cent, I heard. My own mother, Lula Mae, could have passed easy, but she chose not to. She told me the price she paid for that decision. When she and my father went to the courthouse to get married, there were two Bibles, and they had to put their hands on the one reserved for Negroes. The other one was for white people’s hands. The Bible! Can you beat it? My mother was a housekeeper for a rich white couple. They ate every meal she cooked and insisted she scrub their backs while they sat in the tub, and God knows what other intimate things they made her do, but no touching of the same Bible.

For full text click here. You’re Welcome.

Great precursor to my upcoming piece on Colorism….

The Race Card

I hate that expression. Don’t you?

I have never once heard it posited with honest, intellectual inquiry.  It is always uttered with an attendant scorn and a slight sneer that implies the argument has already been won.

It is the equivalent of dropping an F-bomb in the middle of a Sunday sermon. It’s always successful in it’s aim, to cast aspersion and suspicion. The accusation strikes at the heart of motivation, implying that justice and equality aren’t the driving factors of your grievance but instead self-aggrandizement.

Sadly, it has certainly become de rigeur in contemporary racism discussions. Certainly, it is lobbed at African Americans with increasing frequency, without understanding of the insult or implications.

Do people really believe…

That utilizing the pain of the racism and it’s attendant scars are somehow a badge of honor?

That there is something worthwhile in admitting one’s dehumanization?

That the alienation which results from marginalization is an easy thing to unearth an share with others?

I’m not saying that race baiters don’t exist but to imply that they are a majority seems at best facetious, at worst intellectually and morally reductive.

I also find it highly suspect that the charge is only leveled at select groups. I’ve never heard anyone say it in response to anti-semitism, or to Native American Indians when they discuss their continued discrimination.

I’ve been blessed to have a diverse set of friends and have never questioned anyone’s experience of racism, sexism, homophobia etc. I would consider it supremely arrogant and ignorant to deny their experiences because I haven’t shared them. Yet many people do just that.

The “race card” attempts to delegitimize concerns about racism and imply that it’s no longer an issue. It is a strategic attempt to derail the conversation and turn the tables to point the finger at the one leveling the charge of racism. That’s probably why it’s so popular with Right Wing media and those who insist we’re living in a post-racial society.

If racism doesn’t exist then there is no need to heed the cries of those who claim to suffer from systemic racial oppression, police brutality, poverty, educational inequality and the like.We can easily dismiss them as the strivings of people who want free stuff, who want a pass, who desire unearned privilege in a meritocratic society that claims to reward those who work the hardest.

See how that works?

The problem with that is that is that the present doesn’t uphold the myth of meritocracy or post-racism. Neither do polls, or statistics, pesky things. Americans are working harder with less to show for it at any other time in history. Racial inequality and tensions are clearly on the rise. People taking to the streets by the thousands is definitely an indication that utopia is still not in reach. I’m just saying.

Call the “race card” what it is, a false, cowardly assertion that serves as a strategic impediment to avoid discussion and bar efforts to attain racial equality since it would mean less for those who benefit from the privileges accorded by White supremacy and racism.

One of the central reasons that discussions of inequality are so difficult to have is because the oppressed expect to be met by skepticism by those who are dissimilar. Imagine what would happen if we turned that supposition on it’s head? If we honored those who had the courage to speak out exposing their scars and crying out for justice? Gave equal weight to the words of those who are so clearly marginalized, empowering them. Hearing them.

Instead of leaving them to discuss their grievances in the dark, choke upon our indifference, or violently act out their rage at their subjugation.

Imagine.

If we truly want societal progress, we must first open our minds and hearts to listen to those who are not like us.

*Check out The Race Card Project turning suppositions on it’s head and having a much needed dialogue on race.

Chris Christie: warm in a luxury box at Lambeau while Camden High kids have no heat

I loathe Chris Christie and this post Is just one reason among many. If I had to go to school under such conditions it would be a sure bet that I wouldn’t go. These prison to pipeline schools MUST be addressed by Federal guidelines. Fee community College means nothing if we still have so many failing school systems :(.

teacherbiz

The temperature in Green Bay at this Sunday’s NFL divisional playoff game between the Packers and the Dallas Cowboys will be in the upper teens. But don’t worry: New Jersey governor Chris Christie will be well shielded from the cold.

It’s not clear if the governor will be traveling to Wisconsin in a private jet, as he did to Dallas when the Cowboys faced the Detroit Lions last week, but he will–once again–sit with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in a warm, toasty luxury box while the Green Bay masses watch the game in the cold. (Christie has announced he’s paying his own way this time to “keep silliness out of the football season.”)

While news of Christie’s Cowboy-love isn’t new, recent media coverage of him groping Jerry Jones in celebration has renewed banter about the significance of the governor’s Cowboys allegiance. His sharpest critics have leaped to criticize the governor for deliberately flaunting his fandom in the…

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Shattering Silence…

Happy New Year!

A new year, the same me with a renewed focus. I’ve been mulling over what I wanted to write because there is so much clattering about in my brain. There is a great deal that I wish to express, or expel as it were, and all of it deserves equal air time.

But often our stumbling block to success begins at the starting line and there we hover for an untold amount of time lost in contemplation. Contemplation leads to hesitation and so we wait for our inner voice to tell us that we are ready, when the truth is we ARE ready but fear has won the battle.

This is a lesson that I’ve learned very well and so these days I tend to…JUMP and trust in self that my steps will be ordered.

BREATHE.

Motivation breeds momentum which propels us to progress.

I don’t like the alternative, you see.

The alternative is silence, white noise, and every writer’s nightmare – the dreaded blank page.

This is not a time for silence.

The world does not need our silence.

The world needs our voices, raised in collective, unifying dissent.

Dissent against the status quo and those who would languish in the comfort of their ignorance and privilege while others die beneath the weight of racism, patriarchy,  poverty, White supremacy, homophobia, class war, misogyny, gun violence, militarization of our police force and the massive prison industrial complex.

The status quo thrives off our silence and complacency.

It is the unified voice, fueled by outrage, compassion and our internal moral compass that searches for truth and justice, which propels humanity forward.

___________________________________________________________________________

So, you can look forward to hearing more from me this year.  I am interested in being part of the unfolding conversation on the difficulties that we face in this country. I am compelled by the young men and women of Ferguson who, cloaked only in their anger, outrage, sadness and courage, have fearlessly given rise to a national movement, #BlackLivesMatter.

The conversation they’ve begun challenges much of what we accept, exposes the racism, corruption and machinations of government exploitation of citizens, the injustice of our judicial system and the lack of police accountability which has taken the lives of countless African Americans. Sadly, it is not a new conversation but it now has urgency and weft behind it, and it is forcing us to peel back the layers of institutional and structural inequality which is as American as apple pie.

It is an uprising against injustice whose time has come.

As I write, I look forward to feed back from each of you to have a much needed conversation on race and a myriad of topics. Some of it will be difficult to discuss, as difficult as it is for me to write about. We all have bias and operate from a place of privilege, cemented by our gender, socio-economic status, education and race – long before we even know that any of that matters. What we do about them, how we examine them, and attempt to connect with others in spite of them, as we move through our world – matters.

The willingness to engage and shatter silence, on an individual level – matters.

Conversations bring to light that which is hidden and encourage us to examine our beliefs. From our beliefs arise action and change will happen, one conversation and conscious decision at a time.

Wishing you peace, courage, consciousness and joy.

C.

 

 

A Poem: Between the World and Me – Richard Wright

A few weeks ago, during the height of the heartbreaking events in Ferguson, Jelani Cobb tweeted the poem below. In my younger days, I’ve been privileged to read Richard Wright’s work. I believe that Native Son is required reading on college syllabus’ in the US. However, I did not know that he was also a poet…and what a poet.

I am the victim of a haunting. Recent events have wedded themselves with this poem and it has stayed with me ever since. So perfectly does it do it’s job of taking you to the scene of a crime, injecting you, and immolating you.

I gasped with grief when I was done…as I did when I imagined the blood draining and pooling around the body of Michael Brown as his family stood near by in what must surely have been paroxyms of grief – for HOURS. Or, Trayvon Martin….Oscar Grant….Ramarley Graham….a list that keeps growing.

Just wandering along about my business only to be bludgeoned senseless with evidence of hate. On a page, from a screen, screaming at me from a headline, or the eyes of some stranger.

Hate, too, can be a coursing highway that ends in death.

Hatred, a living palpable thing, a gift that is mine from the hands of strangers who neither know, nor care, anything about me…or anyone who looks like me.

Black like me.

I close my eyes and the words disappear but they are seared in my memory. My mind plays tricks on me and invokes their imagery when yet another name is added to what has become a whispered litany.

I carry that with me and yet so many around me say this is a thing of my imagining, defying history, evidence, reason and all human feeling.

I count myself lucky that while I imagine, I have at least not been called to witness…. Or have I?

___________________________________________________________________________

Between the World and Me
Richard Wright

And one morning while in the woods I stumbled
    suddenly upon the thing,
Stumbled upon it in a grassy clearing guarded by scaly
    oaks and elms
And the sooty details of the scene rose, thrusting
    themselves between the world and me….

There was a design of white bones slumbering forgottenly
    upon a cushion of ashes.
There was a charred stump of a sapling pointing a blunt
    finger accusingly at the sky.
There were torn tree limbs, tiny veins of burnt leaves, and
    a scorched coil of greasy hemp;
A vacant shoe, an empty tie, a ripped shirt, a lonely hat,
    and a pair of trousers stiff with black blood.
And upon the trampled grass were buttons, dead matches,
    butt-ends of cigars and cigarettes, peanut shells, a
    drained gin-flask, and a whore’s lipstick;
Scattered traces of tar, restless arrays of feathers, and the
    lingering smell of gasoline.
And through the morning air the sun poured yellow
    surprise into the eye sockets of the stony skull….

And while I stood my mind was frozen within cold pity
    for the life that was gone.
The ground gripped my feet and my heart was circled by
    icy walls of fear–
The sun died in the sky; a night wind muttered in the
    grass and fumbled the leaves in the trees; the woods
    poured forth the hungry yelping of hounds; the
    darkness screamed with thirsty voices; and the witnesses rose and lived:
The dry bones stirred, rattled, lifted, melting themselves
    into my bones.
The grey ashes formed flesh firm and black, entering into
    my flesh.

The gin-flask passed from mouth to mouth, cigars and
    cigarettes glowed, the whore smeared lipstick red
    upon her lips,
And a thousand faces swirled around me, clamoring that
    my life be burned….

And then they had me, stripped me, battering my teeth
    into my throat till I swallowed my own blood.
My voice was drowned in the roar of their voices, and my
    black wet body slipped and rolled in their hands as
    they bound me to the sapling.
And my skin clung to the bubbling hot tar, falling from
    me in limp patches.
And the down and quills of the white feathers sank into
    my raw flesh, and I moaned in my agony.
Then my blood was cooled mercifully, cooled by a
    baptism of gasoline.
And in a blaze of red I leaped to the sky as pain rose like water, boiling my limbs
Panting, begging I clutched childlike, clutched to the hot
    sides of death.
Now I am dry bones and my face a stony skull staring in
    yellow surprise at the sun….

 

 

 

 

YOU & ME

I dig this poem sooo much! Very clever, love the use of alliteration and who does this NOT resonate with? Anyone?

*You over there with your hands raised – “Please sit the hell down!” lol.

Prosodigy

I see a ME without YOU and wondered if you knew
there’d be a YOU without ME and that’s the way
you really wanted it to be.

I wanted there to be a YOU with ME that would
make up a WE and see how that would feel,
but alas, that’s not a vision YOU could see.

Were “we” not in the same space and time when it was
ME you would find as your needs itched so deep only I could
give the relief YOU claimed to seek… Or was that just ME?

Was it not YOU that said, in time just another one of
your repeated lines that we could be two lovers
Who could share the same space not just smile in each
other’s face,But yearn and live for each other’s embrace.

YOU said though it would take some time I should accept that
It’s better to…

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The Foreclosure Crisis

Excellent post on Foreclosure crisis.

Rcooley123's Blog

What happened to all the homes foreclosed on when the housing bubble burst? Millions of people lost their homes and most of their life savings when the value of their homes plummeted during the most recent financial collapse. Many found they could not keep up with mortgage payments, either because they lost their jobs during the recession or because they were overextended financially for some other reason. Some would say many never should have been offered the loans in the first place. The fact remains that many people went from pursuing the “American Dream” of home ownership to struggling just to keep a roof over their heads by renting in a very short span of time.

The banks lost tons of money on loans that would never be paid in full, but they did have something very tangible in place of the money – the property. The real estate still…

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Helping Those In Need

A few weeks ago, I landed in the Emergency room with a massive toothache. I sat for three days until the pain was shooting up into my temple and down the right side of my chest. It might seem ridiculous but I’ve never had a toothache before and thought it was just temporary until I woke up on the third day and could no longer close my mouth.

Lucky me, we were in the hospital on MLK day and the dental clinic was closed so all they could do was give me antibiotics and pain killers and refer me to the clinic. I went to the dental clinic the next day, only to be told that they were not a part of Hackensack Medical University and so did not bill clients or offer Medicare. Lacking health insurance, as I have for three years, I shelled out $100 for an X-ray and evaluation. Only to be told that I needed a Root canal and crown. $1,1100 for procedure is completely out of my reach as I’m currently on unemployment.

Since then, I have been on a mission to find low cost or charity care in NJ and what a nightmare that has been. I’m hoping that one of two sources that I’ve found may be able to help me in this week since the antibiotics have run their course.  Mind you, Bergen county is the most densely populated area of New Jersey but that is all the help I’ve been able to find.

I even spoke to an ACA representative and much to my disgust, they don’t even show you available dental plans until you’ve signed up for healthcare, which means you don’t know what the deductible will be and there are no emergency provisions for care. So, even if you signed up today, you aren’t eligible for care until April 1st.

In the ten days since the emergency room visit, I’ve contemplated just how awful and obscenely expensive our medical system is; been enraged at how little resources there are to help sick people and struggled with how completely demeaning it is to be unable to take care for yourself as an adult. My loathing for the stranglehold that the insurance companies have over this country is boundless.

For me, the financial free fall that I’ve been in since 2009 hasn’t ended as for many millions of Americans whose stories are not told. It breaks my heart to think of just how many people suffer silently while struggling valiantly with illness and financial woes.

Coincidentally, I found out today that a childhood friend of mind is ill with a rare blood disorder called Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Pupura (ITP). Reading about Damon’s struggle has made my tooth woes pale into insignificance. It reminded me of what I already know, our health is a priceless gift.

Please read Damon’s story, share and support, if you can.

Damon & His Wife

**Image for this post is Keith Haring’s Heart. Keith Haring was Damon’s favorite artist as a teenager.**

Memories & Blood

Found this post that was supposed to be published on 7/20/13 *shakes head in despair*. On the other hand, since it’s about one of my ancestors and Black history month is just around the corner, today seems altogether appropriate.

See? You can always turn it around. 😉

MEMORIES AND BLOOD

I’ve been running about like a wild dog in the heat, cursing and sweating. The sweat pouring down my face brings my Great Grandmother to mind.

Strange but true.

She too despised the heat and had a per-spir-ation problem lol.

Tactile memories.

Geneva died when I was 12 years old and she was 72 years young.

This Sunday, I will be 45. Yet, she remains with me, a strong, warm, supportive, loving and tough as nails woman who as long as she drew breath, was always there for me… and all her family.

In my mind’s eye, I see her black wig, with one grey streak, askew, raving about the water pouring off her and the damned heat, damp tissue clutched in hand. Then, just like a movie scene, the focus shifts to her hands.

Hands that were rough but beautiful, careworn. Hands that could make magic out of food, or wicked hospital corners, scrub knees, or slap you like lightning if you got fresh.

Hers were the first hands I ever noticed, imbued as they were with character, and it inspired a lifelong love of hands.

She was a beautician.

They don’t say beautician anymore but that’s what my Grannie was…making beauty out of nothing much.

Standing on her feet sometimes twelve hours a day, gossiping with her booth mates, listening to the cares of her customers, offering sage advice, cursing about the Numbers, sending me off to play the Numbers, raving at her Soaps, stuffing her purse in her bra and laughing heartily. Everything Geneva did, she did heartily.

I remember her real hair, pure silver, usually in pigtails beneath her wig. She was big boned, as they used to say, about 5’9 and moved with alacrity and purpose.

She worked for everything she had and never do I remember her complaining a single day.

If you were in need and she had it to give, you had it.

When I was all grown up my mom told me that she never knew what real suffering was until Geneva passed. Every year, she’d call my mom at school time and ask what I needed without fail.

She loved to shop and taught me about the value of a good shoe and bought me kick ass clothes. I remember outfits to this day that she bought me. Gorgeous butterscotch gauchos with a chocolate banded floral ribbon around the hem and a cream skirt suit with puffy sleeves inlaid with lace. For a twelve year old, no less.

She wholeheartedly believed that you needed good, expensive shoes or you’d ruin your feet. So, when I lived with her, I was the best shod kid in my class. I will never forget Buster Brown on 125th and Lenox. Only many years later did I realize that her shoe obsession probably had to do with being deprived of shoes as a child and the red dirt roads of Virginia in the early 1900’s.

Like every Leo I’ve ever known, she was a morning person. We will never forget her snatching back the covers with a cry of, “Rise and shine, give God your glory.” A cry that was the joy and bane of the next three generations.

The only time she sat still was in church, when she fell asleep reading “the paper”, and after she ate. She’d fall asleep in a chair, spectacles sliding down her nose, paper in her lap. The very picture of repleteness.

So many memories wreathed in laughter…

Geneva had a zest for life that was unparalleled. She made time to have fun and she traveled. By bus, by plane, on foot, she was always on her way to, or from somewhere.

The year she died, she went to San Francisco and came back full of tales that she walked barefoot across the Golden Gate Bridge. And even now, I remember the joy and pride with which she said it. Maybe, that was because she had traveled so much further than she was supposed to go, as the daughter of a slave. But at 72, she still had the heart, the backbone and the spirit to actualize dreams.

As long as I draw breath, I will never forget that.

Even as a little girl, I respected her and loved her madly. Somehow, the child in me knew that I stood in the presence of greatness, gusto and grace.

The adult in me now marvels at the trajectory of her journey and the wherewithal required. Sometimes when I am lost, I cry to her for strength and remembering her example try that much harder so that she would be proud of me.

33 years later and I’m still trying.

I wish to snatch back time and tell her just what she meant to me. Tell her what I suspect that she already knew, she was the glue to my family and how sad it is that since she’s been gone no one had the strength to keep up that torch she held so high. How I wish that she could come back and remind them of what family is supposed to be. How I hoped to be that person for my children and I just need to know how to handle dreams that die, fleeing like petals, from my grasping hands.

I want to talk to her, woman to woman, share our trials and tribulations and know how she made her stand.

I want to know…

What it was like to live through segregation and the Civil Rights Movement and who did she believe in, Malcolm or Martin.

How did she meet and come to love the Cherokee Indian who was my Great Grandfather, whom I was never privileged to meet.

What stories did her mother tell her perched on her knee of slavery and survival?

Then, time skips forward.

I nod my head accepting what is and was.

Does it ever get any easier to accept? The finite nature of human existence and our quenchless thirst for the unknown?

The little twelve year old girl now turned 45 nods her head…

“Just a little,” is her knowing reply.

I am grateful for the roots from which I spring

and that Geneva’s blood runs still –

through my veins.

President Obama: “A child’s course in life should be determined not by the zip code she’s born in.” “Promise Zone” locations.

Good news! Especially when I was just raving about our ineffectual gov’t and why can’t they do more to help people. Good thing the post was mysteriously erased lmao.

The Militant Negro™

 

By Jueseppi B.

 

 

President Obama: “A child’s course in life should be determined not by the zip code she’s born in”

 

Remarks by the President on Promise Zones

 

Yesterday, on the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, President Obama announced the first five “Promise Zone” locations across the U.S. The program, first unveiled at his State of the Union address last year, is an initiative that partners with local communities and businesses to create jobs, expand access to educational opportunities and spur economic mobility and security.

 

 

Joined by students from the Harlem Children’s Zone — a 17 year undertaking that found children will do better if those around them are doing better — the President spoke in the East Room of the White House on the importance of making sure everyone who works hard has a fair shot at success, no…

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Want to teach your students about structural racism? Prepare for a formal reprimand.

I am in Reblog heaven! Another excellent post. What is happening to education in this country? If ever we were in need of education, beyond technocracy, it would be now. It’s sad how stupid people are becoming on subjects of any real depth. How easy we want everything handed to us. How averse AND slow we are at seeking spiritual knowledge, exploring moral depths and upholding justice SMH. Ok, but I digress. Part of this tide of eroding educational standards must be laid squarely at the doors of Corpocracy and Capitalism polluting the waters.

It’s a sad and sobering day when teachers, from grade school to college, are shouting warnings that few seem willing to listen to.

The New Ramblings of D.A. Adams

This article is from Slate:

Shannon Gibney is a professor of English and African diaspora studies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). When that’s your job, there are a lot of opportunities to talk about racism, imperialism, capitalism, and history. There are also a lot of opportunities to anger students who would rather not learn about racism, imperialism, capitalism, and history. I presume MCTC knows that; they have an African diaspora studies program. Back in January 2009, white students made charges of discrimination after Gibney suggested to them that fashioning a noose in the newsroom of the campus newspaper—as an editor had done the previous fall—might alienate students of color. More recently, when Gibney led a discussion on structural racism in her mass communication class, three white students filed a discrimination complaint because it made them feel uncomfortable. This time, MCTC reprimanded Gibney under their anti-discrimination policy.

Elevating…

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Don’t you think you deserve it?

An excellent post, aptly timed. This resonated with me as I know many people who struggle with similar issues. I was not one of them, however. The day my divorce was final, I jumped up and down in the halls of justice and hugged my lawyer lmao. On my way home, I played Sweet Justice by the phenomenal Ms. Jill Scott ;).

Listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bb2GBsLSMtA

Take Courage,

C.

One Sister's Rant

Happy New Year!
Image by Evan Leeson

A close friend called last night to tell me her divorce had been finalized.

Twenty three years of hardships and struggles had finally come to an end.

“I guess now I can tick the box that says single on my tax return” she said through her tears.

Hearing her sob on the other end, I felt confused.

During the two years it had taken for her divorce to become final, I had heard her talk about how unhappy she was, of how she felt like a prisoner in her home, how she wished she could break free.

Yet the day had arrived and she had welcomed it sobbing.

“What will I do now?” she wailed. “I feel utterly incomplete.”

For once, I was at a loss for words.

Should I tell her to host a party to declare her new state of independence, or should I…

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Happy 2014!!

Happy New Year, to my Blogosphere beloveds!

I’m fashionably late, as always, but let’s hope that my buoyant and well-meaning wishes bring you warmth. Know that I have thought of you all and miss the circumlocutions of your minds and words. You bring me joy, enlightenment, inspiration, humor and a world of differing perspectives at times when they are most needed. For that, I am thankful.

I look forward to 2014 with a renewed commitment to my writing and that means you’ll be seeing more of me in my ongoing quest for sanity in a world gone mad. Yeah!

I wanted to share the following poem which is a great source of inspiration for me and a perfect start to the New Year…

COURAGE

Courage not only means being able to do something new.

It also means taking steps to “be” someone new.

Some of us talk a great deal
because we are afraid we won’t be heard.

Others, never say anything
in fear of saying the wrong thing.

Some of us, are overactive and hyperactive
because we fear missing out.

There are those of us who are withdrawn,
lethargic, inactive,
in fear of messing up.

One of the first steps in developing
a courageous outlook and approach to life
is being able to look at ourselves,
our beliefs,
attitudes and patterns.

Courage enable us to examine.

Examination enables us to choose.

Courage is more than a forceful,
aggressive, bold outward action.

At it’s most infinite level,
courage is an in-depth,
inward examination
which leads to alteration and application
of a new way to be.

– Unknown

Wishing you courage, peace and passion!

Signed,

A member of the “It’s Too Damn Cold Committee”

40 Something Me…

image

All those things I said would never happen have surreptitiously crept into my peripheral vision and like a Jack in the Box appear with alarming frequency when I least expect it.

Insert blinkered sign flashing “50 Dead Ahead” here.

“How old are you?”

The fluidity, and let’s face it, honesty, with which I used to answer this question is totally gone.

Now, there is a noticeable pause and stutter as my brain grapples its way round to the inevitable mathematical conclusion and issues forth a begrudging reply.

“40 something.”

Short of hot pincers beneath my fingernails, or an official badge, it’s the best response anybody will get from me.

I am a woman after all.

Also? I’m old enough to embrace the wise adage, “A lady never admits her age.”

I think that’s pretty normal. If you’re blessed to live long enough, most of us will reach an age that serves as a mental impasse, we wish to neither discuss, or acknowledge.

For me, that’s 45. The glorious no woman’s land, halfway between sophisticated 40, and fuck it all 50.

What alarms me is the gray area where my age used to reside. Not to mention, the gray hairs.

More often than I care to admit, I pause and calculate my age because, a. I flat out don’t remember it, or b. I think my memory is wrong. This just can’t be.

I spent a whole year telling people I was 43 when I was 44 soooo not on purpose.

That’s not early, onset Alzheimer’s, it’s a very subtle form of mental erasure, a selective memory processing as it were. Mind you, it happened of its own accord and began around 42. Please tell me I’m not the only one with this affliction.

People don’t believe my age, they keep telling me that I look like I’m 30 something.

Cause celebre?

Hell to the no.

Mental circumvention tactics aside, I FEEL my age. Or more aptly, all biological and societal indicators have begun to point North.

It started with the glasses. I was prescribed glasses and in a complete state of denial refused to wear them for a whole year.

Finally, I was forced to face reality because I got tired of squinting at small print on labels and moving things back and forth in a foolish attempt to focus in public places like a moron.

Along came bizarre conversations with my friends about “appropriate” attire for 40 somethings. Seriously?!

I refuse to let anyone tell me what to wear. If I look good enough to rock it, it’s all on the table. Fierceness is ageless! Think Tina Turner ;).

Fast forward to friends calling to inform me that they’re now peri-menopausal. WTF is that? Ok no.

Or, the long minutes of my life that I’ll never get back, standing in Pharmacy aisles staring at the extensive line of products aimed at women of a certain age.

There are so many products for dark spots, wrinkles etc. that it’s nothing short of baffling. I can’t tell you how many aggrieved women I’ve met in these shadowy aisles who look completely stressed out and leave empty handed in disgust and terror.

Oh for the days when I could snatch up any product and bounce. Now, I feel like I need to be a dermatologist to pick the right one. Never mind, the obscene prices. The beauty industry is pimping us out and making a gold mine.

If one more person calls me ma’am I won’t be responsible for what I do. They can have that mess.

Nor, has it escaped my notice that most of my favorite things are now classics. Considering the gray music and movies they’re turning out today that one’s not so bad.

Words have changed in their definition. Jail bait used to mean anyone under 21. At my age, it means anyone under 35. Try as I might, physical attraction still exists but once they start speaking, I’m tripping on how little they know. I can’t help but contemplate the ocean of inexperience that lies between us and the inexorable dwindling of desire is a foregone conclusion.

Gone is my desire for the fast, the quick, the cutting edge new. In it’s place, I find the precious ability to be still and delve deeper.

I know what matters to me now and certainty guides my steps as I pursue joy, knowing fully how transient and important it is.

I savor now, not just gulp lol.

I am more compassionate and wiser in ways that I never imagined and that’s priceless.

I think of all the time I spent trying to find myself, a necessary but arduous and painful task, and I’m happy to settle more comfortably into my 40 something, requires extra care, skin. Truly.

It’s all part of the process. A process that I’m blessed to continue experience unfolding.

Besides, I cant get distracted, I have a bag of pharmaceuticals dragging behind me and it takes all my concentration to hide their bulk behind my miniskirt. 😉

Why ‘stop and frisk’ is worse than NSA surveillance

Great post! Thought provoking and well written.

The Fifth Column

New York Police Department officers monitor a march against stop-and-frisk tactics used by police on February 23.If my boys, who are now in their 40’s had lived during these times in NYC there is an overwhelming chance that they would have been stopped and frisked several times.  Today my  sons and daughters are professionals in their chosen fields, but would they have had that chance in today’s NYPD environment?

The New York Civil Liberties Union has published data that show African Americans and Latinos are the prime targets of the Stop and frisk programs.

The Compass – Marc Ambinder

My black friends in New York, particularly those who don’t live in the fancier precincts of Manhattan, have been harassed by the NYPD in a way that I, as a white guy, will never experience.

They’ve been stopped and frisked, for reasons known only to the officers. Almost every young black male I know has a story to tell.

The news today that a federal judge found…

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NY Stop and Frisk Ruling: “Who Watches the Watchmen?”

Who watches the Watchmen?” Who indeed?

YEAH! Stop and Frisk has been ruled unconstitutional. It’s one of those rare occasions when we get to cheer progress, however incremental it may be. I smiled all day Monday! That’s an anomaly. I typically spend most of my time quelling the impulse to curse, most times unsuccessfully. 😉

In my book, Judge Shira Scheindlin is a shero.

Bloomberg on the other hand is a friggin scourge. When the man leaves office I will throw a party to celebrate. Loathing is too nice a word.

I have been a fierce critic of Stop and Frisk forever. It is cruel, unjust and racially discriminatory. There is no doubt in my mind that in many cases it has lead to murder. Full stop.

Also?

I can’t even tell you how it thrills me that the police will have to video stops. My joy is boundless. “Who is watching…” See how that works? *pulls self together* Let us hope that it has a significant impact on unjustified policing and curtails the abuse that seems to be reading so rapidly. Case in point, WTF is happening in Texas? Illegal cavity searches for the love of all that’s holy?!!

But I digress.

I’m losing my mind reading all the excellent coverage out there, so for your reading pleasure, have a gander:

1. Jelani Cobb – Ruling on Stop and Frisk, Remembering Trayvon Martin, courtesy of the New Yorker

2. John Cassidy – The Statistical Debate behind Stop and Frisk, courtesy of the New Yorker

3. Floyd vs. City of New York – Judge Shira Scheindlin Decision, courtesy of the New York Times

4. Ta Nahesi Coates – Ending Michael Bloomberg’s Racist Profiling Campaign, courtesy of The Atlantic. *Check out the last link in the article re: Officer Adrian Schoolcraft – The NYPD Tapes.

Happy Reading!

Callsign: Hatred

This left me speechless with it’s power, pain and veracity. The world will only change if we speak our truths and fight for justice.

A Matter of Scale

Found a wonderful collection of hate-filled racist tweets from Saturday ranging from cheering Zimmerman and the awesomeness of the American Justice system to being glad someone was standing up for White people and putting niggers back in their place. (Bear with me. If you know my work, I never use that word lightly.) Part of this is the internet promoting anonymous ass-hattery, most of these were fake accounts created for inciting and promoting anger and frustration. I know this because I have used Twitter long enough to know how to recognize fake accounts when I see them.

But the sentiments they voice are still quite real. The hands on those keys in anonymous places are connected to real honest-to-God (I know) racists, bigots and culturally-deprived idiots. More than half, probably have never left their state, and a good percentage of them, the county in which they were born. Most have…

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Obama Speaks Out on Zimmerman Verdict

Obama Speaks Out on Zimmerman Verdict

Excerpt…

Here is the link to the full transcript of the speech.

And then there was Eve…

1billion-home-india

Favorite thing of the day #2. #1 is We Are Not Trayvon Martin :).

This article, Boys with Tender Hearts And Big Dreams In Their Hoodies, and video broke my heart and put it back together again.

I’ve always loved Eve Ensler. She is a phenom, scribe and agent for change, all things closest to my heart. Now, I love and respect her even more for breaking it all the way down like this and doing that thing she does so well, turning passion into purpose. Read and watch… #J4TM #StopViolenceAgainstWomen #Rising

Visit http://www.Onebillionbising.org