Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Malcolm X!

View Comments

Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 - February 21, 1965)

Growing up in Chicago's Bronzeville area, I witnessed the skeletal remains of one of Chicago's most prominent neighborhoods. Prior to its more politically correct name change to Bronzeville, this area was known as the Black Metropolis. A mecca for Black culture and financial independence, this Black Belt came about due to the segregation of Chicago expressed in the form of restrictive covenants.

Then came the victories of the Civil Rights movements, the passing of legislation, the lifting of restrictive covenants, and the general lure of better opportunities. As a result, there was a slow but sure migration of Blacks who had the wherewithal to relocate to other communities. Leaving this neighborhood behind, the interest in and the financial support of its institutions dwindled. I took a particular interest in the destabilization of this area when in high school when its gentrification became a prominent theme. How could a neighborhood so rich in history succumb to such poverty and destruction?

"There can be no black-white unity until there is first some black unity.... We cannot think of uniting with others, until after we have first united among ourselves. We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves."

Thinking about this, I took a serious interest in the teachings of Malcolm X. I began to study his ideas that revolved around Black Separatism and what he believed would happen to our communities in its absence. A quintessential leader in the Black Power Movement, Malcolm believed capitalism and equality could never coexist for Blacks. Borrowing from Pan-Africanist ideals, he advocated a separate society in America where blacks should control their own economies and communities.

I had grown up seeing Malcolm X as a figure in pop culture, based on his portrayal by Denzel Washington, in the movie bearing his name. I saw Will Smith staple a poster of Malcolm to his wall, while listening to the song "Back to Life," in the first episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I knew the version of Malcolm X described by fear-mongering editorials, passed off as purely factual lessons in my public school history books. Yet, as I began to use his teachings to understand important sociological lessons, Malcolm X took a totally different meaning in my life.

I began to take a serious look into the oppression and the struggle blacks faced, and are still facing, as a result of constant oppression. Specifically, Malcolm taught me to focus on the social disruptions and cohesions of African Americans. His teachings led me to me to question what mechanisms make or break a community and a race.

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz at a Mosque in Mecca

One of the reasons Malcolm is still relevant today is because of the ways his humble beginnings shaped his life and ideals. In the latter part of his life, Malcolm would rethink his own teachings, shying away from his separatist ideas. It was these teachings that wrapped me up in his theories emphasizing accountability and empathy for all humans, despite external subjugation. Malcolm was an advocate for the powerless, believing their hunger to be treated as equals would fuel their fight in a revolution.

Now, on what could have been his 85th birthday, I rethink the ways in which Malcolm expressed his disdain for cultures of domination. His weariness in watching the oppressed become the oppressor. As I remember Malcolm, I reflect upon his understanding in the interconnectedness of historical, sociological, and structural barriers that could serve to either unite or sever our common decency for one another. I look at the problems and progressions of African Americans and can only hope that Malcolm's legacy continues to steer us in a direction exemplary of the life he died for us to live.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Once, Twice, Three Times the Sendoff

View Comments

I've been funemployed, as my girl Luvvie calls it, for the past six months. I went back to the educational world, but that doesn't count as work, nor does it count as real income. So now I'm almost done, only one quarter left, I think it's time to go back to work. Besides the money, I'm just plain bored. Not to mention when you have the entire line-up for a TV channel memorized and get mad when you miss your shows, it's probably time to let go of your funemployment.

Anyways, back to the story at hand. The other day in my job search, I was invited to an open call for an upscale bar and lounge that I frequent. They were looking for an event planner and promoter, and even though I have a legal work experience, I'm trying to expand my hustle. The open call was supposed to be Tuesday and Wednesday, so I showed up on the first day to make a good impression. Unfortunately, for me, NO ONE was there. o__O Hmm... I knocked on the door, called the number to the lounge, and no luck. A little irritated I went home.

The next day, I wasn't sure that I was going to go down there again. Then later that afternoon, I started thinking, "Well, this might be the last day, you don't want to miss out just because you're upset." So, I called the place, no answer again. Against my better judgment, I went anyway. Deja vu. No one there. This time when I called, I got an answer. I told the man that I was at the location, there was no one there and I had came yesterday as well. Ya'll know this fool told me they rescheduled the open call from Tuesday and Wednesday to Thursday and Friday because of the weather??? Besides my initial level of pisstivity, I was floored that, in CHICAGO, a job fair had been closed because of some gotdamb rain! Really?

Fast forward to Thursday. What chall think I did? Yep, took my aloof butt back down to the bar. This time I was sure I'd be at a job fair. The man explicitly told me that it would be held today, so I didn't feel like I was blindly going this time. Well, I was wrong. WHAT IS THIS SH&T!?! THREE TIMES!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! Needless to say, I was floored. How the hell can you tell someone that you're hosting an open call and then you, the employer not show? I have to think that maybe they didn't get a lot of interest in the job and just decided not to waste their time. Needless to say, I won't be going back today or anytime soon to even patronize their place of business. *smh*

As if finding a job in this economy isn't hard enough without getting sent off THREE times!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Seasons of a Life: R.I.P Lena Horne

View Comments
I Love her"Doe Eyes." I Think They Are the Classic Trademark of a Timeless Beauty.

On May 9, 2010, Singer, Actress, Civil Rights Activist, Lena Horne passed away at the age of 92. A few weeks ago, while I was visiting a forum, when I came across a conversation about who, amongst actors would receive the next crown for the most beautiful female or handsome male. I questioned the need for our generation to constantly desire a next great, in place of those who can be considered timeless. Pointing out those timeless people, of course, I mentioned Lena Horne.

Lena Horne will always be known for her beauty. However, her indelible impression on humanity goes far beyond the mirror of her looks, and penetrates the mirror of her soul. What always fascinated me about Horne, and those of her generation, was their readiness to be "race-people" and not just for the social construction of the African American race, but for the Human race. She made it her responsibility to stand up for Civil Rights and her position in that movement is notable.

Like most my connection with Ms. Horne traces back to her appearances on The Cosby Show and A Different World. I was reintroduced to her, when I was in the eighth grade. Every year, at my school's ice cream social, the graduating class would put on a production. For that year, our class was chosen to perform the Broadway version of The Wiz and for reference, we watched the movie. When I heard that Lena Horne passed this evening, I was truly shocked. Her being 92 years of age, did nothing to soften the blow. In fact it made me sad for the future generations.

In the wake of this news, the conversation I had two weeks ago came full circle and like I do after every legend passes, I find myself wondering what legends will I have to pass on to my children. Lena Horne was a star for the generation of my great-grandmother, entrusted to the generation of my grandmother, heralded as an icon for the generation of my parents, and passed down through heritage to me. I am grateful to my exposure of this incredible woman. There will never be another Lena Horne and may she rest in peace.

Man Up! In Defense of Chivalry...

View Comments

*Disclaimer - While my post appears to talk in generalizations, know that I am aware this does not apply to ALL males. I however, am too lazy to constantly make references to "most" males, "some" males, not all males, etc., throughout this post...
Fellas please stop blaming Ms. Independent for the Death of Chivalry. To do so willingly relinquishes your own accountability while bogusly passing it off as merely cause and effect. Au contraire, chivalry has never been about what you expect to get out of holding the door open, helping your woman put on her coat, or pulling the chair out. Although I admit I do have to take into account, that chivalry has been perverted by politics and is now the currency used in the exchange of goods and services as eloquently stated in B.I.G's I'm F*&king You Tonight.

Whenever I hear conversations about Ms. Independent versus Mr. Chivalrous it always makes me think of the chicken before the egg argument. Men love claiming they refuse to be chivalrous because women don't appreciate the gesture. Yet, I find it hard to believe that a chivalrous man, will always reap the complete opposite. When women stop doing things for the opposite sex because of bad past experiences, we are misdiagnosed as bitter. However, when men do it, they are called wise or heralded for "keeping it real." o__O Also, it is interesting to note how the dynamics of chivalry has played out in non-romantic relationships. I can't count how many times I've seen a man scurry in front of a woman to have a seat on the bus.

Whatever your reason for not being chivalrous, know that I'm judging you. Men expect women to cook, clean, put it down in the bedroom, yet expect us to believe that there is something so draining about holding a door open, or helping to put on a coat. It's not like we're asking you to go all LL Cool J, I Need Love, style on us and lay down your jacket so we can walk over a puddle. Just a simple act of kindness will suffice. We can dissect all day whether the beginning of women being independent was the decline of chivalry, or if it was the decline of chivalry that made women independent. However, I think the act should be regarded as an inner characteristic that you take wherever you go, simply because you want to be polite. Naive? Perhaps.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Psychiatric Prose and Poetry...

View Comments
This has been a rough week. Well, actually month and it's only the 7th. *sigh* Twenty minutes ago, laying on the floor, I just wanted to curl up into a ball and go to sleep. I had closed my eyes when I remembered "oh crap, it's Thursday, I have to post a blog for tomorrow." I started to shrug it off, but see that's how it all started. I put off posting once, then it got easier for me to put it off. I mean it's not like I'm trying to become some blogger extraordinaire and neither did I think there was anyone expecting to read my blog today that would be disappointed. On the other hand, I knew it'd be me who was disappointed.

Recently, when things have gotten tough I admit I've been content with taking the easy way out. That's not who I am though, at least not who I used to be. Furthermore, I remembered I am a writer. Not the best writer, not one by trade, but when I used to be frustrated, sad, angry, brokenhearted, whatever I'd write. It always proved therapeutic. The same is proving true for this post. Even though I didn't let out any confessions or get all analytical, writing made me feel a little better. I call it psychiatric prose.

Speaking of psychiatric prose, check out a piece I wrote awhile ago with a similar name called Psychiatric Poetry...

When you cry
Where do the tears go?
They stain your face
Or you wipe them away with your hands
Seeping back into your skin
Reentering your body
Inadvertently recycling your pain
That is why I write instead

I use the pen as an anesthesia
Ink flowing freely from the tip of the needle
On the paper I write my heart's lyrics
My prescription
For when I need to be numb
From that coughy, achy, sneezy, headache type love

The medicine that helps me
When I'm losing my mind
A panacea to my psychosis
A premium HMO
My life is the virus
In my hand, the cure
For the malignant growth in my head
I write pharmaceutical stanzas
Chemotherapy for my brain's cancer

When I can't remember why life is worth living
A lifetime of joys erased
Plagued by senility
My formula I formulate
On the pad of paper
I am grateful
For my words' permanency

I am a doctor of poetry
Mastering in the school of thought
I compose
Lines of living limericks
From my fountain pen of youth

So I'll write when I'm in pain
Even if it hurts me
I'll write
Antidotal anecdotes
Filling up the pages
Until I restore my health
I'll write
Remedies of rhymes
And I'll write
Until I'm too tired to cry 

- B. Antoinette

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

You Sound Dumb As Hell...

View Comments

Last season when BET first premiered "Tiny and Toya" I was a HUGE critic of the show. I had only seen the previews for the show and I didn't know much about the two outside of what I'd read on the gossip blogs. Obviously I knew Tiny as the mother of TI's children and from my days of being an Xscape fan, (in grammar school my friends and I were Xscape for Halloween and I asked to be Tiny #dontjudgeme I really liked her). Not only that, but I knew Toya as Lil Wayne's babymama to which she quickly corrected America in saying "I am his ex-wife." Other than that, I knew nothing and I didn't want to know. But besides their personal life, I saw the commercial.

"Ugh, they sound dumb as hell!"

In addition to dumb, I might have said ghetto, uneducated, retarded. *cough*

Then one day I was watching BET against my wishes, Tiny and Toya came on and I had no control over the remote. I thought I would end up justifying my preconceptions but it turns off I was all types of wrong. Oh and you know me thinking they they were dumb? Yeah, I realized that was just a result of my northern head in the sky. I had criticized them for being ignorant solely off of a southern accent.

Ashamed, I changed my tune very quickly and wanted to inform everyone all over the world that these women weren't dumb they just had a southern accent! So one night while everyone was on Twitter live tweeting the show, I looked for people talking about how they sounded so ignorant. They called them classless. People with no accent didn't understand and people with accents that weren't so heavy were quick to differentiate themselves in order to continue their assaults.

So while I had realized the error of my ways, it was hard to enlighten others. Black people love to say another black person with a Southern drawl sounds ignorant, yet no one will say Bill Clinton sounds stupid or John Edwards sounds stupid. I've even heard Blacks with an accent being relegated to sounding like a slave. *faint*

I hate to be one of those people who in tries to force my new found intellectual freedom upon others and I understand the sanctity of people's opinions. However, I do think it's about time we stop using any distinguishing characteristics besides personality, qualifications, etc to determine another person as worthy of respect or status. People who know how to assimilate or "code switch," as I like to call it, often become the perpetrator of classist, sexist, even racist ideologies associated with the status quo because their name isn't "ghetto," or they're middle or upperclass versus lower class, or they speak "proper."

We need to move past the language barriers. We need to move past the condescending mentalities that we have against one another as a result of dialect, or region, class, gender, hue, educational background, whatever. At the end of the day, it makes no sense because the person who thinks they're better for one reason, will always have someone trying to one up them. Everyone isn't going to talk the same way. Realize this and realize maybe it's not them that sounds dumb. It's you.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Can I Take You Out?

View Comments

Walking down the street, in a lounge, restaurant, or club I am approached by men of varying backgrounds. It usually plays out with the guy chatting me down while I or my friends give him the side eye. After passing the "Can you make me laugh, think, and/or blush" test, I give him my number, listen to him tell me that he'll call me and then I go about my way.

Now, I'm not the type of girl to sit by a phone wondering when a man will call me. However, if I just meet you I do expect a call...NOT a text. It irritates my loins when a man tries to find out everything about me over text messaging. I understand that we live in a fast paced society and phone calls are almost obsolete. Yet, if a man asks me for my phone number, showing some kind of interest, I expect some effort.

iDigress. Although, first contact texts make me seethe, nothing grinds my gears worse than a man who calls or texts me to ask "When are we gonna hook up?" or "What are you doing later, I wanted to try and come over." *screeching* Realllllly?

This is where that effort talk comes into play. If a man went through the trouble of asking for my number, shouldn't he also have a game plan? I expect him to call me with a concrete plan. Be it a restaurant he's been wanting to check out, a movie, or a museum exhibit. Whatever it is, he needs to have it worked out BEFOREHAND. I'm not apologetic that I am old school. Furthermore, when the old school me wants to be in a relationship, I expect to have courtship and conversation. Contrary to popular belief a first date does NOT consist of you/me leaving your/my house to go and kick it at my/your house. I have almost 100 DVDs at my own house and a wireless connection that allows me to watch whatever I want online. There is nothing a first date at someone's house can afford me that I can't already get on my own.

As I have gotten older my expectations have matured. In any arena of life when you know better you do better. Your girlfriends and the guys you meet will love to call you picky if you set certain standards for yourself. Yet, ladies we have to stop falling for it. A man should never force you to compromise your standards but that doesn't mean they won't try. If you give in, well then that's on you.
Copyright © Black Is Breezie
Blogger Theme by BloggerThemes | Theme designed by Jakothan Sponsored by Internet Entrepreneur