Archive from August, 2020

Gratitude – 2nd chapter

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was bittersweet — with, really the only sweetness being that I’ve lived to see another year.

Between the pandemic, Hitlerian political rallies, senseless shootings, extreme disrespect, the staggering amount of garbage people in this country, and now the death of Chadwick Boseman, I can’t say that I’m in the mood to swing from the rafters.  Not that anyone is gathering in the first place.

I’m having a hard time with the death of Chadwick Boseman, and I take it as a sign that he expired on my birthday.  It has crystallized, in my mind, that we require escapism for inspiration.

Looking back at the last four years, I saw him twice.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Howard University graduation of 2018 in Washington, DC, and witness his keynote speech.  Boseman, himself, had graduated from Howard in 2000, and he was clearly a proud Bison.  He looked great. Healthy.  He was engaging, down-to-earth, inspirational, hilarious, and sent that beautiful class of brilliant Black graduates – and their adoring families – on an energized path to success.

The second time was in February of this year, at the closing party for the NBA All-Star game.   It was a relatively intimate setting in the VIP area. D-Nice and Clark Kent were spinning, and the party was a who’s who of Black celebrities and NBA stars.  Boseman walked in alone.  He was low-profile, wearing a backpack and his signature smile.  He greeted D-Nice and Clark Kent at the turntables and gave polite smiles to everyone in his midst.  Everyone was happy to see him. He walked past me, and I turned to get a better look.  I’d seen the pictures of him from recent months, where he was very thin, and I was pleased to see that he wasn’t nearly as gaunt as he’d looked in photographs. He hung out and joked with friends, and left within an hour or so.

People are awestruck that Boseman was able to accomplish so much while quietly battling a deadly illness, while I believe that his projects and ability to dig deep to make an impact and inspire others probably propelled him to live longer than the disease prescribed.

According to the press, Boseman had a four-year battle with colon cancer, so if we do the math, Black Panther was released in 2018 and took some years to make.  Boseman first appeared as Black Panther back in a 2016 Captain America film.  Four years ago.  And while it must have taken all of his energy to play that character — the first Black superhero — with his secret cancer, I can’t imagine the energy it gave him to know that he was going to motivate millions of people.  It was a true, selfless gift.  I can only imagine that he didn’t talk about his health because he didn’t want to distract from the message, and likely because it gave him the ability to be “normal” (although, what exactly does that mean, now?) for at least a few hours a day.

And, Cancer.  It’s probably the only thing that we can ALL agree on.  It’s not racist, sexist, elitist, or homophobic.  It’s an equal opportunity killer.

Looking back on all of it — Black Panther, my experiences, the photographs — I come away from it feeling as though I — and the rest of us — are going to need to escape into something to make it out of this.  Even if it’s only a few hours a day.  Life really is too much right now, and it’s easy to spend hours gaping at the television and watch everything happen to us.  I find myself having to be very intentional about taking the time to be creative, contribute to the world, lighten someone’s load, connect with friends on whatever level possible, and above all, be grateful.

Granted, 2020 is a dumpster fire of epic proportions.  Lots of people have lost their jobs.  Many friends have caught COVID, and some have passed away.  Several people have lost their parents.  2020 is the most productive serial killer that we’ve ever known.

BUT, I have to catch myself, because it’s easy to go down the slippery slope of sadness, and realistically, I have a lot to be grateful for. I have beautiful friends who thought enough of me to wish me a happy birthday.  I’m starting my new year with a busy job, a thriving small business, a fun new business, a home in which I don’t mind being quarantined, a father who is across the street and easy to stalk, I mean visit, and a great quarantine partner who is my favorite person, makes me laugh and gives me hope.  Also, as a bonus, we’re all in good health (today).  My germaphobic tendencies, which were previously regarded as kind of strange,  have made me especially equipped to remain healthy and so far COVID-free.   In fact, I’ve come to appreciate masks and might insist on wearing them going forward.  :-)

Now, I do realize that any of the aforementioned could change…on a dime, so I’m determined to make the best of this situation and be happy for what I have — at this moment — and live with the realization that I never know what others are going through.


Aug 27, 2020 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

America and the trend of disappointment – 1st chapter

I’ve been meaning to blog for several days, now, and each day my reason for blogging changes . . .  and escalates.  I’ll need to do this in chapters, and start with what’s bugging me the most.  I don’t know how many chapters there will be.  I’m going to surprise myself.

Let’s start with the shooting of Jacob Blake.  It was deplorable, right?  And before anyone chimes in to call him an “alleged” shooter, please don’t.  We all saw it, which means that there are no allegations in this situation.  Only facts.  Jacob Blake was BRUTALLY SHOT BY RUSTEN SHESKEY SEVEN TIMES, and the shooter should be charged with attempted murder.  Get comfortable with the label, just as Black people have grown accustomed to police shootings. Just because.

Scrolling through my social media feeds earlier this afternoon, I saw a story about Brian Urlacher, the meathead hairplug-having football player (who has a Black son), who is standing up for the little murderous psychopath whose deranged mother drove him to the protest with an illegal weapon so that he could openly kill and shoot protesters in Kenosha.  Again, no allegations here.  ABSOLUTE FACTS.

There were comments, and an idiot chimed in with a “Blue Lives Matter” sentiment.  Okay . . . you know what?  Let’s get something straight.  Blue Lives Matter is NOT a thing. Okay?  It doesn’t exist.

I’m sorry . .  . what’s that, Karen?  You don’t get it?  Well . . . let me drill it into your head.

My birth certificate states that I was born a Black female child.  Even before I knew the difference between people or understood the depths of the gutter of inequality that existed between myself and others.  I had several talks by my parents starting when I was a tiny child and was made to understand that there were things I couldn’t do, and places I couldn’t go – especially nestled in the racist neighborhoods of Beverly and Mt. Greenwood on the south side of Chicago, where I attended private school with white students who paid the same tuition, but with more freedom and the privilege of peace.  I had to be twice as good to get half as much.

At the end of the day, I and my Blackness go to sleep together, wake up together, and take the good and the bad of life . . . together.  I couldn’t escape it if I wanted to. And for the record, I don’t want to, because I believe that being Black is an amazing way of life.  We’re colorful with creativity and complicated and storied histories.  Our ancestors have strength and fortitude and have passed along the concepts of humor, great food, and spices.  (Ah, blessed spices!)  We have beautiful skin that remains majestic against time and weather conditions.  Most clever things originate with us, and we have natural elements of beauty that other races pay dearly to replicate.  We are amazing.  If only we could get people to stop condemning us, murdering us, and loving everything about us . . . except us.

People like to combat Black Lives Matter by saying that Blue Lives Matter, which is nothing short of an insult.  See . . . people choose to be police officers.  Cops are made, not born.  They attend the police academy and earn their blue suits. They can also take those suits off at the end of the day or retire their uniforms should they so choose.  Sure, people should have pride in what they do for a living, but when off-duty police officers go to the grocery store, or out with friends, or anywhere,  they’re just people.  There’s no real culture around the blue, unless you count keeping mum while your corrupt co-workers steal, kill and serve themselves rather than society.

Police officers can matriculate stealthily in crowds without being detected.  And, guess what?  There are several bad police officers, just as there are bad doctors, lawyers, and nurses.  It’s a profession,  Karen and Chad.   And if you’ve taken it that seriously and turned it into a way of life, I would suggest re-examining your choices. Because, were I you, I wouldn’t align with the deep culture of corruption that resides in the police force.  And sure . . . there are a lot of good cops.  But, dirty cops?  They’re like malignant cancer cells that metastasize until they cripple the entire entity.   (And if you choose to continue in your profession as a police officer who actually protects and serves as outlined by the job description, do yourself and the rest of us a favor and stand up against your criminalistic cohorts.  They’re giving you a bad name.  But I digress . . . )

The bottom line here is that you cannot compare Black life to your profession, or your father’s profession, or your husband’s.  When you stand firm and say things like “blue lives matter” or “we back the blue,” what you’re really saying is that you stand behind even the very worst police officer  — the one who is an embarrassment to the police organization.  You’re saying that you condone the murders of the innocent and the mentally incapacitated.  You’re saying that you are perfectly fine with the actions of the cops who have raped young women in their custody.  You stand firm with people who are SO power-hungry and depraved that they operate on a platform of taking advantage of citizens, rather than upholding the law.

It’s fine, though, because I like to know who I’m dealing with.

Again, the unfollow button is somewhere . . .