“Do Y’all Get Along?” and Other Silly Questions : Happy Father’s Day

1. My son has two fathers. Not in the ABC Modern Family Cam & Mitchell sense, but in the old school, biological parents didn’t work out and decided to move along separately for the best, of course, sense. The follow-up question to “Where does your son live” is always “Do y’all get along?”

What should be considered a dumb question is actually pretty valid. What shouldn’t be applauded, is. “Of course we get along. Why wouldn’t I get along with the father of my child?” Strange question, but that’s who he is. You have to genuinely ask, “Why wouldn’t you love someone who loves your child?” The more I have this conversation with folks who have children, the more I see how complicated some lives are. Of course it wasn’t always the easiest situation, but that small hiccup was short-lived, and of course none of that had anything to do with the kid, and everything to do with the ego, and that had to be destroyed. We grow. You then look and see a child who’s lucky to have two fathers who love him, and an even bigger family, and what can be wrong with that?

2. With big eyes and raised eyebrows, they ask, “Your son’s mother lets him come to you for the entire summer?” After I explain that I typically split the summer with my parents because they tend to love to kidnap him and do country-living things, I explain that my son’s mother’s son is also my son. There was never a situation where we even needed to discuss when he’d spend time with me because as pretty decent decision-makers, we knew whoever he was with, he’d be as safe as humanly possible. Why have a child with someone you wouldn’t want in the child’s life for long periods of time?

To those who may need it:
Father’s Day, at least where I’m from, already comes with bad jokes and awful stereotypes. What if this Father’s Day, or tomorrow if it isn’t too late, egos and negativity are sent to pasture to die, and the well-being of all children is the priority. Mend broken relationships and start new ones, make a phone call and start with “I’m sorry,” if need be. You can’t say you want what’s best for your child and in the next sentence say what you’re not willing to do to achieve it.

Happy Father’s Day.

Black History Has Never Repeated Itself.

(photo taken in 2015 America probably)

“To be Black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage” – James Baldwin

Our history, Black History, never had time to be true history. Not like those stories they tell us in school about those things that happened that will never happen again because there is no place for them in the present. There will never be another Trail of Tears, and the Japanese Internment Camps will not be rebuilt.

But there will always be church bombings, church shootings, lynchings in Mississippi, and black men urinated on, chained to fences, then dragged behind pickup trucks in Texas.

There will always be Presidents who use the same language to define white supremacists and Black freedom fighters.

History, Black History, has never repeated itself. We’ve been in a constant state of now with no way out.
“Rage” is a strong word, James Baldwin. Rage drives people places. There was rage in 1963 when these words were born, but now, to be Black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of “SMH.” Rage was Colin Ferguson and Omar Thornton and Christopher Dorner.

The beginning of Rage was Vaughn Dunlap begging the people to “waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake uuuuuuuuuup” to be taught.

Divesting, A Different World, Haitians, and the DR.

This post is probably about divesting, financial power, and such. I’m hungry, and it may not make sense. Redi it anywhere and pretend I said something profound or simple.

When you’re 18 years old and from a small town, it’s Spring 2001, and you’re now in Daytona Beach, FL, you head to the beach for Black College Reunion with your closest new college mates, and you post up on a wall with a Solo cup full of brown liquor and watch the big rims, asses, and lives ride by. This is the heaven you dreamed of in high school when all the girls thought you were lame. You, not me, I was cool. As fun as this is, there’s this nagging thought that something is wrong. Perhaps it’s the 10 cops every five feet, or the closed stores that should be open according to the hours posted on the door, or the 150% price increase in room rates and rental rates. Being in Daytona since August of the previous year and seeing these same rooms for only $30 per night, and sticking around through the college spring break season, you see only a small increase in price, and you’d think cops didn’t exist. So why now that Black folks are making their way to “The World’s Most Famous Beach,” and “Most Racist Town,” are these things happening?

Oh! According to “Big Bird” at the Harley Davidson Store on Main Street, Black folks are not wanted in Daytona and should be pushed out. This is evident, and I decide to divest as much as possible while still getting my education from the great institution Mary Mcleod Bethune founded so many years ago. And asking around, others knew this, too. So why were they still coming back to support this podunk town?

Why do we do it? Why do we continue to invest in these folks and places who aren’t investing in us? This is why A Different World is one of my favorite shows. Two episodes come to mind:

1. Season 3 Episode 14: Whitley goes shopping in a store with a racist clerk. Instead of leaving and flexing her financial power, she decides to buy one of the most expensive items because she feels she has something to prove, and because she wants to show the woman that she has the right to be here like the other customers. Who won here? Who lost? “I knew they were racist,” my friend said about Daytona Beach officials, “so I showed up to give them a slap in the face.” He doesn’t realize the racist officials are the winners in this story.

2. Season 3 Episode 16: Kim turns rejects a much-needed scholarship from a company investing in South Africa during apartheid. Yes! I was 8 years old and reading about apartheid and divesting, and even though this show was fiction, I knew Kim was making a difference somehow.

Why are we not divesting more? I didn’t go back to Black College Reunion. The Dominican Republic has never been on my list of places to go. Hell, my friends think I’m cheap, but I’m simply divesting in this corrupt country I’m living in. The Dominican Republic has been killing its Haitian citizens long before my friends decided to travel there, and even after I shared the information with them, they still go. Why are they not divesting? Convenience and comfort and fun are greater than revolution, I suppose.

Food time.

We Didn’t All Come From Kings & Queens: Umar Johnson, Fried Fish @ 2am, and Pimp C

The problem with too much education is there are too many people with too little. And not the education that requires classrooms, number two pencils, college-ruled notebooks, and teachers who either don’t make enough in exchange for their dedicated service, or make too much for showing up and watching as we teach ourselves. As reluctant I am to quote the words of a slave master whose estate is just a few minutes from my folks’, these words ring true: “I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led.”

My latest pursuit was preceded by a conversation with my brother, Grandville. Once a week we have these conversations that are often venting sessions necessary after a day of dealing with bullshit, shuckers, jivers, godless children, foolish adults, and people who quote “Dr.” Umar Johnson (quotations because I’m almost certain his degree is made of bubblegum, wishes and hope). I hope no one ever finds fault in their mentor’s teachings. Growing up, I never found comfort in the “we all come from kings and queens” spiel, because it made no sense to me. Who were the people who cleaned the palaces then? Are we all related? Grandville, more like a pastor on the call this time, spoke words I needed to hear: “That’s bullshit.”

I get that folks sometimes need encouraging words, but I’m more on the side of telling history as it is/was. History, speaking specifically about Senegal, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria, would suggest that, yes, some of us do come from kings and queens, but finding the descendants of the working class and the descendants of peasants would be easier and you’d still have hours left in your day to educate others. Similar to us in this barrel of capitalism we’ve grown accustomed to calling America, the folks in old school West Africa weren’t confined to their roles if they worked hard to come up, or didn’t work hard enough.

The late and great Pimp C, on FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt, says:

“A little over a year ago I was in bondage, and now I’m back out here reaping the blessings and getting the benefits that go along with it, everything that’s out here for kings like us. The reason why we like this, this jewelry and this diamonds and stuff, they don’t understand is, because we really from Africa, and that’s where all this stuff come from. And we originated from kings, you know what I’m saying? So don’t look down on the youngsters because they wanna have shiny things. It’s in our genes, know what I’m saying? We just don’t all know our history, so—”

And finally, something we can agree on: “We just don’t all know our history.” I wanted it to be me, not Rick Ross, who interrupted Chad to talk about those folks in West Africa who weren’t high enough to be peasants; the slaves. I wanted to offer a counter to what the Underground King said. Perhaps, Chad (and everyone who took his words to heart to justify your foolish spending on goon chains and jesus pieces), some of these youngsters wants shiny things because they come from a bloodline that’s never had much to show off. And perhaps it’s the minimalist who come from those who never felt the need to shine (#HighThoughts).

And here I am, at 2am, eating a fried fish, black bean, and fried egg sandwich with Texas Pete, reading over this foolishness Umar Johnson posted, trying to cover his ass after tricking off on a stripper, perhaps with some of the money I assume disappeared from the St. Paul Acquisition Fund (or whatever clever name he came up with), and some other donated funds. “If you ever see his photos,” Grandville said, “You’d see he’s always traveling with sketchy characters.” I listen, nod every once in a while when group economics is on the table, but outside of that, my face is screwed and eyes are tightly squinted when listening and deciphering (I promise I’ll go deeper in a later post). Us who came from the loins of village educators, hardworking dreamers, kings, queens, and griots can easily spot those who came from the cesspools of jesters.

“Fuck the strippers,” Taquon, another brother, shouted. “I just wanna know where the degrees come from!”

Rachel Dolezal, Lil Wayne, and Lucky Charms: Me @ 5:14am.

It was 5:14am, I’d just brushed my teeth, and there I was wondering why I decided to break my “don’t argue with idiots” rule and engaged in a pointless conversation with an internet troglodyte about Rachel Dolezal, blackness, whiteness, guilt, lies, and hair care products. Thanks to Ms. Carla Lester at Bethune-Cookman University, I’m now able to listen effectively, and in this conversation, I heard nothing but regurgitated tweets and status updates from those who only read the news when published on Worldstar or MadameNoire.

Then I thought about most of my facebook friends who had strong views on the unfolding events; views in the shape of nooses and hooks, ready to string poor Rachel up by the neck or achilles tendons. I opened my phone’s note app, and jotted what I’d need need to send out when the people were awake:

“If Rachel Dolezal has done more for Black folks, equality, reform, and human rights than you have, even in her lies, you cannot join this conversation.”

I excused myself from the conversation, poured a bowl of Lucky Charms, and was suddenly upset that Black folk still listen to and love Lil Wayne.

Lies They Told Me: Sleep is Necessary for Survival & Coffee Stunts Growth

Explaining how to make instant coffee to 5-year-olds can be difficult. It wasn’t with me. My grandmother liked hers brown. “Put some water on the stove,” she’d say and I’d find the kettle used so often it never had the chance to be washed. Watched pots boil, they just take longer than neglected pots. I’d sit at the table in what I’d now, not then, call a really small kitchen, and wait for the steam, and I’d grab one of the big spoons I used for Lucky Charms and scoop the black bits from the jar and dump them in one of my grandmother’s 700 mugs, adding one spoonful of sugar and just enough milk to make it match my inner wrist in summer and face in winter. Stir, then pass it to my grandma for validation. A certified coffee maker, I was.

My grandmother died, and I don’t believe I’ve had coffee in many years, and there’s no one to make it for. I’m at the black coffee phase in my maturity, or at least I should be. Black coffee alone on a patio reading the newspaper, holding a cigarette, knowing I don’t smoke. I bought a book of Malcolm X Speeches and a journal the same weekend in 1998 I first heard the voice of Mumia Abu Jamal, and I sat there, at my grandmother’s kitchen table, almost an adult, listening and reading, drinking instant coffee, scrunching up my face with each sip, wishing I’d known she ran out of cream before I dumped in the 4 spoons of sugar. Determination and my grandmother saying “don’t you waste my good coffee” made me finish it.

There was no cream to weaken the coffee, to cool it down, to make it look like coffee never existed. It was just black and strong as hell. That weekend, I’d never been more awake. When Monday came around and I started telling my friends and classmates about the revolution and reform I fell into over the weekend, I realized they listened too closely when they were told “sleep is necessary for survival, and coffee stunts growth.”

What It May Mean To Support Caitlyn & Not Rachel

There are people who are no comfortable with the body they’re in. We can all agree with that. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, however, when those uncomfortable people make the necessary changes to sit comfortably. Bruce Jenner told the world he was a woman deep down, and was ready to make the necessary changes to prove it. Well, he said something like that. Then Caitlyn appeared in Vanity Fair, and the applause grew, the awards came, and we’ve all moved on by now.

Looking over my little evidence, I’d say Rachel didn’t feel comfortable in her whiteness. Her parents sold her out, that means something. But in that discomfort, she found where she feels she belongs, and where she was accepted until recently. Perhaps finally comfortable in her tanned skin, shea butter coating, and “natural” hair. Perhaps as comfortable as Bruce felt in heels, a dress, bra, and panties. If Rachel speaks out as Bruce (now Caitlyn) did, and says she’s always been a Black woman, what then?

The roots and histories and hand-me-down amazing DNA aren’t there, I know. But I know Black folk who are as removed from Blackness as David Duke. In obtaining this level of Blackness, did she have to relinquish her privilege? Questions, man!

Transracial has been thrown around the internet so much in the last 24 hours. Is this a case? What is your argument for supporting Caitlyn and not supporting Rachel?

Not supporting Rachel may mean you don’t truly believe people are uncomfortable in the skin they’re in. Perhaps people aren’t born in the wrong body. If you’re Blackm it could also mean you hold your Blackness so very close to you, that giving it away so easy is a utterly ridiculous. Not everyone can walk into your mother’s house and pull up a seat at the table. They have to earn the right to be there, and sometimes “earning it” may be as simple as being born.