My photo
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it; I believe it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mr. Obama Goes to Washington

A picture is worth a thousand words...

PS - I AM still working on my dissertation. This week, more so than last, as you can probably imagine!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes, We Will.

YES WE CAN. YES WE DID. Yes, we will.

We made history tonight and I am so grateful to have been a part of it. President-elect Obama, may God bless you, and keep you and your family. May we hold you and your administration accountable for making the positive changes that we need. May we keep this new sense of purpose, participation and power. May we all be kept from pride, and despair. May we always remember this time in our long history in this country.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Okay, so let's try a word of the week...not that I can't post everyday (a quick look at my "daily posting" history will dispell that rumor), but I am still stuck on love. Today, its love a la Fantasia's "I Believe" - love keeps lifting me higher. And it does, above disappointment and distractions and exhaustion, it keeps lifting me higher.

When you look out in the distance

You see it never was that far

Heaven knows your existance

and wants you to be everything you are

There's a time for every soul to fly

Its in the eyes of every child

Its the hope the love to save the world and oh we should never let it go...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Let's Talk About Love

I am finished with a major part of my dissertation folks. Concept paper - check. Now, it is on to field work, data analysis, and more writing. May 15th - save the date - you are invited to my graduate ceremony!

I am starting Najmah's Word Of The Day (NWOTD) to help me post more, think more and listen more.
NWOTD for 10.26.08 is LOVE. I'm thinking about love and its many forms; how hard it is to find, maintain and re-gain when lost. I think love is putting something or someone before yourself, even (and especially) when you have every reason not to.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Where Is Tekenya Wooten's Amber Alert???

Thank you to Electronic Village and What About Our Daughters for this story . Little Takenya Wooten is missing; she is 12 years old and 8 months pregnant. She was last seen on October 18th at the group home where she lived. The Durham Police Department, despite pleas from members of the general public to do so, have yet to tag this case as 'high risk' and have not issued an Amber Alert.
I have to pause now and refrain from using every four-letter word in my vocabulary here. I just want to make one point clear: this child is 'high risk', this child is in danger, this child is scared, this child is alone, this child has been sexually abused (a 12 year old child does not consent to sex I don't give a damn what anyone else says) and this child deserves our attention. Her life is worth just as much 'Amber's. I will call, email, text until I get word about this baby girl. Pray that anyone reading this blog will do the same.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Senator McCain, I Feel Your Pain

I was going to blog (I shouldn't even call it blogging really, since I can barely post once a month!) about the "that one" heard around the world from last night's debate. But the more I think about John McCain, the more I understand his plight. Before I continue, I should state that I subscribe to a particular notion (I borrowed it from somewhere to be sure, but the person or place escapes my memory so just forgive me in advance here) that 'there is some good in the worst of us and some bad in the best of us'; and I don't think John is on either of the far sides of this particular spectrum.

All things considered, I think he is a relatively decent man. And he is being faced with a serious dilemma: John McCain really wants to be POTUS; he truly thinks that he knows what is best for the country that he loves, the country that he suffered for. And he is not winning this race right now. He is looking at a very real possibility that he might loose this election come November. It is not then surprising why his campaign is resorting to the personal attacks and hate-baiting antics of late. It is because he knows that he will have to appeal to the worst in the electorate in order to have a shot at the presidency.

But John is also facing the very real possibility that even this might not be enough to win. And if that is the case, not only would he have lost the election, John would have lost his own identity. His sense of pride and dignity; he would have permanently damaged his personal and professional reputation, and lost the respect and admiration of so many, regardless of what they thought of his party or positions. And this 'hurts like brand new shoes' for John. This is a man who has always put himself out there as a stand up kind of guy and a decent politician. This is the man who wrote that he "would be held to a higher standard…. I was especially obligated not to disguise my own selfishness as counterfeit patriotism….; for the politician who promises to put patriotism before selfishness, who promises not to lie, and then reneges, does more harm to the public trust than does the politician who makes no issue of his virtue. (– John McCain, Worth the Fighting For, Chapter 12, “Straight Talk,” page 379, hat tip to News One).

John as you look up at the bar of the higher standard and wonder "how have I sunk so low" just know that I feel your pain. Truth be told, we've all worn a pair of new shoes in our lifetime.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Concept paper status report

Well, my concept paper is almost approved! I have to make a few additons and that will be it. Major hurdle complete here folks. Now, its on to the second phase - field wor

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Choice About Choice

Okay. So. The republican VP candidate is Ms. Sarah Palin, Gov. of Alaska. Much adu is being made about her pros and cons, some possible scandals and the like. I will let the professionals handle that. My main concern about Ms. Palin is reflective of my main concern about most republicans in general: their desire to legislate morality, regardless of how reckless and cost-ineffective that aim may be. Ms. Palin is a staunch pro-lifer. So much so that she would legislate against terminating a pregnancy, EVEN in the case of rape, incest, or in cases where the life of the mother is serioulsy threatened. My argument is, and has always been, that's okay for YOU, if that's your plan, but please do not attempt to legislate the way I live my life or the decisions I make for my family. Those things are clearly outside of the realm of government and for good damn reason Ms. Palin, et al. Now I have made my case, but I also have heard the case but more eloquently than this. Check out the following comment from this blog, from a mother who, in hindsight, would like the choice to make a difficult choice. The personal statement is honest and candid and must have been very difficult for this mother to make. I commend her for saying what so many can not....

Mother Who Thinks (11:49:42) :
I am a mother who thinks. I am a mother of a child - now 21 - with Down syndrome. I am an Alaskan who raised her child in Alaska (along with another kid, a husband, an education, and a job with benefits.)

IT IS THE HARDEST THING I EVER DID. It took everything I had, and more. There were highlights - but they in no way balanced the demands, frustrations, and dark nights of the soul. The impact on my nondisabled son is still being felt. My marriage effectively turned into a parenting partnership with no future that escaped the impact of having a child with significant and inescapable needs.

I was, by our society’s standards, well-equipped to cope with this unexpected aspect of parenting. It devastated me nonetheless. When my son was born I had no idea what lay ahead. It was gut-wrenching determination and motherlove that carried me forward. I still can’t count it a success.

I learned, through much hard work, how to navigate the system that we all think exists for “all” children and adults with disabilites. Had I not been intent on accessing services, finding out how agencies and regulations work, and forcing them to work for us, the outcome would have been far worse for my child, family, and self.

Had I been less able, less determined, less economically able, less educated….I don’t know how I could have survived to “make the best” of the life I had been handed. I can’t count the times I thought, “What do other parents do? I want to quit trying to make this work.”
Do I wish I could have been spared this challenge? Make that a resounding YES. Do I think that my child should have been spared the difficulties, loneliness, heartache, and exclusion that disability, by nature, means? Make that a YES too. Would I have chosen to terminate the pregnancy had I had the foreknowledge and choice? Yes, even from the other end of the trail, now that my child is grown in years but will forever remain a child, dependent, vulnerable in an uncertain world.

What disturbs me most about Sarah Palin’s choice to continue her pregnancy, knowing that her child would have Down syndrome, is that she would make that choice for me, or my sister, or my daughter, or my friends, male and female alike. No one can decide for us. Certainly not “government” who cannot be counted on to help the hundreds of thousands of those with disabilities, already and to-be-born.

Oh, and have I mentioned this? I, who through struggle and persistence and crisis, mastered the service and funding system, have a reasonably happy kid. He still and will struggle through his lifetime with mental retardation and related behavior and communication issues. He lives in federally subsidized housing, attends public school as an intensive-needs student, gets his healthcare through medicaid, and has 24 hour care from direct service providers. When you make the system work, you can build a community-based life for your child.

Only a small percentage of those who need this level of care can get it. Without advocacy, forget it. Without continued funding of education, healthcare, vocational, and independent living services, this will all go “POOF.” The waitlist, even in a small state like Alaska, has over a thousand people on it, many for years. Most languish at home with aging parents or siblings. Some are receiving “care” in corrections while they try to find someone to “take” them. Some are homeless.

My son’s cost of care is over $200,000 a year. Thank you, taxpayers. And the Chinese lenders.
Palin has delegated the care of her infant with Down syndrome to others. I don’t know how this can be done, emotionally or financially. Kudos to her if she and her family pull this off. They are well-positioned financially, socially, and politically to do this. I think that this is not an option for 99.9% of families who include children and adults with disabilites.

To take the position that EVERY American family SHOULD and MUST be denied the option to terminate a pregnancy that will result in hardship, cost, heartache, and diminished possibilities that will last a lifetime is just plain wrong. I could never support a candidate on any ticket that would take the hardline prolife position she takes. She can no more use her experience to decide for all than I can.

But it is about CHOICE. About REALITY. And no one can decide that for someone else, and force them into the netherworld of disability.

How do they do it???

Okay, so it has been a minute or two since my last post (I SWEAR I don't know how the daily bloggers DO it...I can count on on hand the things that I can manage to do everyday, with any great deal of consistency of quality, and blogging just ain't hats off to folks like the Field, who manage to keep it coming on the daily, and keep the quality to boot!). much has happened and I will try to summarize:

I saw Barack Obama give a live town-hall style meeting in Chester, VA - I crashed the party - so cool and I will post photos soon (I had to buy one of those DISPOSABLE cameras from Walgreens because I went to the meeting on short notice and left my handy-dandy digital cam at home - what DID we do for photos before digital? I can't possible figure out how to both go drop the damn camera off at Walgreens AND pick up the damn photos however many hours or days later....but I digress). Also, Obama came to Petersburg. Yes PETERSBURG!!! Well, there's just nothing else to say about that. Except that I damn-near broke my ankle trying to see him in the 'burg (should've been happy with my party-crashing success, but noooooo, I just want everything!). Okay, what next? Oh, I hosted a fabulous Convention Watch Party at my house last week - 22 folks came - I even met two neighbors of mine (I've been living on this street for nearly two years and I am just now meeting these folks - what is WRONG with us??). Party was great. Speech was GREAT. Obama looked and sounded like a champ - hitting every point from A-Z. Best one-liner of the night: "8 is enough". Hell yeah 8 is enough; 8 was too damned much for my taste. Boy, I loved the love illustrated on that stage, 45 years to the date when the honorable Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made a speech about the possibility of such a day! Words do not do justice to how we all felt.

Whew. That was a lot. Oh, and by the way YES - I have been working like that on my dissertation. I am a few drafts away from a final concept paper. Small steps folks, small steps.

I am going to make up for my limited posts by doing two today! Next up, Sarah P....

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Thinking of a Doctor Plan..."

Well, I have not posted a PhD status report in a few weeks, but that does not mean I haven't been hard at work! Slowly (very slowly) but surely, things are coming together for this concept paper. The devil is in the data...

Sad news this weekend on the passing of Bernie Mac, as well as Isaac Hayes. I never met Bernie in person, but he came across as a genuine, caring, funny soul. May God be with his family in this time of loss.

And finally for this post (how folks like The Field manage to post on a daily basis and still keep up with life in general is beyond me and my hat goes off to them for sure!), what about Darfur?

Received my Essence magazine in the mail on Saturday (with a wonderful pic of the next 1st fam on the cover) and read an article about Dr. Halima Bashir, author of "Tears of the Desert", and survivor of rape and torture at the hands of Janjaweed militia, because she spoke out against the rapes of scores of ELEMENTARY SCHOOL GIRLS. Read the rest of the story in this article.

I don't know if I can bear to read the book, but I will purchase it. That's the least I can do. We CANNOT forget Darfur - crimes against humanity are going on as we speak. WHAT ABOUT DARFUR?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Marketing Campaign...

While sitting under the dryer for an hour (man I can't stand sitting under the hot-a dryer!!!) I found a link to this article about how Michelle O is helping to recast the image of Black women in the US. According to the author, Mrs. Obama doing much to dispel long-held mis-truths about the Black woman:

"Jones and others say that Michelle Obama knocks down old stereotypes of black women: Sapphire, the angry black woman; Mammy, the caretaker and nurturer of her own children and everybody else's, and Jezebel, the loose woman."

The article goes on to state how Michelle is not just a good role model for one race:

"She's brilliant, she's beautiful, she's classy and she's a warm caring individual. Not only is it great for black women to see a sister who could be the First Lady, it's good for all women because she has the qualities we can all admire."

I am hereby co-signing on that statement. I love the way Michelle carries herself, how she handles her multiple responsibilities and roles, and how she sets the example for so many other women, regardless of their race, socioeconomic status, etc. But I could not help saying an amen to Whoopie's comments:

Typically, society has touted a narrow image of the attractive black woman, Thomas says. That woman has usually been a lighter-skinned black woman -- something Whoopi Goldberg brought up when Michelle Obama recently cohosted the ABC television show "The View."
Goldberg complimented Obama's brown skin saying, "I know it sounds funny and silly, but if you are a black woman and you are tuning in and every time you see someone who is supposed to represent black women and ... not very, very fair skin women, I am talking about dark black women, I just want to say thanks."

Yeah Whoopi, I know it sounds funny and silly to, but it is the truth. And I want to say thanks too. Even though there are much more important things about this campaign, I can't help but enjoy the fringe benefits: Michelle is truly helping to market a standard of beauty that has been there all along.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Princess Like Me...

So I've been waiting on the latest Disney movie for two years now. Those of you who are familiar with me will understand why. The nonprofit org that I founded (and now volunteer for) is Prince & Princess, Inc. for the same reason I am waiting for Disney to finally add a Black Princess to their Princess line. Even if you don't know me, you probably know a young Black girl who loves to play dress-up, who wants to be a princess; you've probably purchased a Disney Princess item for a birthday and wondered why the characters were not at all similar to the little princess you were buying for. We all have heard of the doll test ; the Disney Princess thing may seem like a small matter, but it really highlights a bigger issue - that for as much as we try to tell our girls (and ourselves for that matter) that Black is beautiful, we are constantly faced with a mainstream society that insists (directly and indirectly) that there is only one standard of beauty, and Black ain't it. I hope this little movie about a Black Princess goes a long way to undue some of the damage to our self-image. I know it's only a movie, but hey, I can dream...
On a related note check out this site for Princess Briana - a lovely book that helped my niece see herself as a beautiful Princess - even at 8 years old, she already has concerns about the color of her skin (beautiful dark brown like her momma and her auntie). She shared this book with me and I could tell it really made her see things differently. I am so grateful that her grandma found it!
Have a wonderful Monday folks!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

PHD Status Report 2

Okay. So I have been writing! As promised. I am 1/3 complete with revisions to my concept paper. AND - I fine-tuned my research question, so things are looking very good. My goal is to complete the concept paper revisions by month's end and submit to my committee chair. Stay tuned...

Also, attended organizing meeting for the Tri-Cities 4 Obama team tonight; finally getting a headquarters established in Petersburg!!! ('bout time folks) I will try to stay focused on my dissertation mission, and to demonstrate that, I only signed up for 1 1/2 days of volunteer availability per week...


Friday, June 20, 2008

PHD Status Report 1

Okay, so last night I was supposed to post a status report but I didn't - I had a late board meeting! Now, I did not write this week, but that is because I had to prepare to teach a course for the Summer Leadership Program at VSU. Soooooo, I get a pass this week. And next week too, cause I'm going on vacation. I will post my next status report on July 3rd. PS - Happy Juneteeth folks!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Another Smart Albert...

Tonight while preparing for a short class I was asked to teach at VSU (short notice given but I need the experience so I'm on it and sacrificing Monk dvd time tonight...) I happened across Dr. Albert Schweitzer. I used a quote of his in my presentation for the class, and sense I like to be prepared to give some amount of detail about the person making the quote (if asked), I did what any lady would do when she wants information on a man...I Googled him. Turns out Dr. Albert S. was one bad man (Nobel Peace Prize recipient), and boy did he speak some truths to power! For example, his take on human rights postulated by the European culture:

Oh, this "noble" culture of ours! It speaks so piously of human dignity and human rights and then disregards this dignity and these rights of countless millions and treads them underfoot, only because they live overseas or because their skins are of different color or because they cannot help themselves. This culture does not know how hollow and miserable and full of glib talk it is, how common it looks to those who follow it across the seas and see what it has done there, and this culture has no right to speak of personal dignity and human rights…"

Sounds like the good doctor is commenting on the current state of affairs, huh? Well, here's more. Stumbling upon great stuff like this makes me praise the lord for the ability to read! The final line below really speaks to my feelings on why we must do good work, especially when we keep hearing bad news...

-Albert Schweitzer, M.D., OM, (January 14, 1875September 4, 1965) was an Alsatian theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician. He was born in Kaisersberg in Alsace-Lorraine, a bilingual Romano-Germanic region which Germany returned to France after World War I. Schweitzer challenged both the secular view of historical Jesus current at his time and the traditional Christian view, depicting a Jesus who expected the imminent end of the world. He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his philosophy of "reverence for life",[1] expressed in many ways, but most famously in founding and sustaining the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, now in Gabon, west central Africa (then French Equatorial Africa) .

Schweitzer considered his work as a medical missionary in Africa to be his response to Jesus' call to become "fishers of men" but also as a small recompense for the historic guilt of European colonizers:[30]

“Who can describe the injustice and cruelties that in the course of centuries they [the coloured

peoples] have suffered at the hands of Europeans? … If a record could be compiled of all that has happened between the white and the coloured races, it would make a book containing numbers of pages which the reader would have to turn over unread because their contents would be too horrible.

Rather than being a supporter of colonialism, Schweitzer was one of its harshest critics. In a sermon that he preached on January 6, 1905, before he had told anyone of his plans to dedicate the rest of his life to work as a doctor in Africa, he said:[31]

"Our culture divides people into two classes: civilized men, a title bestowed on the persons who do the classifying; and others, who have only the human form, who may perish or go to the dogs for all the "civilized men" care.

“If all this oppression and all this sin and shame are perpetrated under the eye of the German God, or the American God, or the British God, and if our states do not feel obliged first to lay aside their claim to be "Christian" — then the name of Jesus is blasphemed and made a mockery. And the Christianity of our states is blasphemed and made a mockery before those poor people. The name of Jesus has become a curse, and our Christianity — yours and mine — has become a falsehood and a disgrace, if the crimes are not atoned for in the very place where they were instigated. For every person who committed an atrocity in Jesus' name, someone must step in to help in Jesus' name; for every person who robbed, someone must bring a replacement; for everyone who cursed, someone must bless.

And now, when you speak about missions, let this be your message: We must make atonement for all the ter­rible crimes we read of in the newspapers. We must make atonement for the still worse ones, which we do not read about in the papers, crimes that are shrouded in the silence of the jungle night…”

Monday, June 9, 2008

Words can help...

Short note about a book I purchased today (actually, last week, but Amazon via mail, ya know) - Letters to a Young Sister by Hill Harper. This is Mr. Harper's follow up to his Letters to a Young Brother. I'm no speed reader, so I am not going to offer a review just yet. I picked up this book so I can review it and purchase several copies to give to my OPAL girls as a senior year present this fall. As I read the forward by 'my girl' Gabrielle Union (love! her!), and the introduction by Mr. Harper (beginning to like him lots), I thought about how we (ordinary folks like you and me) can use words to help young people become great people. I also thought (you know I was going to work Obama in here somewhere!) about how the Obama for America campaign used words to make powerful change, especially in regard to young people and political activism. It is no surprise that Barack and Hill are good friends from college. It is no shock that Michelle Obama lent her words of wisdom and encouragement to this book. I just am so struck by the entirety of it all. So moved by the power of positive prose and meaningful messages. I swear we can move this mountain of a world if we want to...

PS - Amazon also sent me Lalah Hathaway's Self Portrait - very lovely wonderful listen all the way through. Pick it up 2day. Word.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Makes me wanna holla...

The local media (much like the national media) pissed me off again. This time, I had to write to them, see below for the email. Dammit, I swear, sometimes you can't get these folks to see postive change even if it runs up and gives them a big fat french kiss. Makes me wanna holla - throw up both my hands!

"Dear Sirs,

Petersburg resident Gloria Brown recently sent a note to me regarding the coverage on June 5th; I commend her on her immediate response to this poor coverage and her commitment to bring it to the attention of other like-minded citizens. Like Gloria, I am a concerned citizen working and residing in the City of Petersburg; my son will attend Peabody Middle School in the 08/09 school year. I was very encouraged upon seeing the early SOL test scores during this week's school board meeting. For example, the Algebra I test scores improved in the double digits (as indicated by preliminary results) - this is nothing short of phenomenal. I was encouraged by the atmosphere of excitement and expectation among all stakeholders; it is clear to me and many others that this city is experiencing a bona-fide renaissance. In almost every area – from education to economic development and housing to health services, Petersburg is redefining itself. The city is not where it wants to be, but together stakeholders have created a practical road map to reach the final destination, and we are well on our way.

Needless to say, I was most discouraged upon seeing the poorly-worded media coverage from Wednesday’s school board meeting. Gentlemen, you had an opportunity to report positive news on the school system, but instead, you choose to give a markedly negative story. You had a direct request from the Superintendent to make note of the City Council’s increase in the school budget, but you focused on the RFP (stale news as it is). You had a ready-made feel good piece on how a once struggling public school system is slowly but surely making its way out of crisis; you had a prime time piece, complete with the distribution of roses and blow-pops to the school board and audience for crying out loud. And yet, you selected to accentuate the negative. It always amazes me, how the local media rarely ‘misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity’ when it comes to positive press for Petersburg.I implore you, please, give the teachers, students, administrators, parents, and concerned citizens of this city the same respect that you seem to be so willing to give other localities. There are students who are doing wonderful things in this school system. There are teachers who are going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that students receive a quality education. There are administrators who are meeting a mountain of separate (and often conflicting) objectives in order to build a ‘world class school system'. And there are parents and concerned citizens who attend long meetings and sift through mind-numbing lines of budget items and policy proposals on a regular bases, in order to stay informed and engaged. Even though the test results showing MARKED improvement from this time last year are only preliminary, one would think that you would be EXCITED to report this change in direction, in order to encourage even more positive strides within the school system.

It is worth noting that when the City of Petersburg does well, the entire region stands to gain from its success. We are all inter-dependent, and we all should acknowledge that we share a stake in each others success. Please, take a moment to consider this fact, and perhaps you will consider a more positive angle when covering Petersburg news, particularly when there are so many positive angles available for your use."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

To be ABD no more...

It bears noting that I am working on completing a very important piece of work at the moment - my doctoral dissertation. I must admit that I have made many detours (honorable ones - such as working on Barack Obama's presidential primary election, starting my consulting firm, helping my son survive early puberty) since completing my comprehensive exams last fall. However, I am determined to complete this thing and graduate in May 2009.

I remember back in October 2006 I made a statement on my blog (back in my Yahoo 360 days) that I would work at least 20 hours a month on Obama's campaign if he would just run for president. Well, I am a woman of my word. And I stuck to that promise because I believe in what we can do with the right leadership.

Now I am going to make another statement on this blog that I will hold myself accountable to (and if you are reading this, do me a favor and check back every now and again to see if I am still a woman of my word): I will work at least 20 hours a month (5 hours a week) on my dissertation, beginning June 16, 2008. This work includes actual written material - not just mental analysis! I believe if I do this, I will be able to defend no later than March 2009. I will then graduate in May 2009 and finally lay to rest my status as ABD. Lord knows that is the least that I can do, in honor of my Aunt Dot, who made it possible for me to go back to school, and for the countless other family members and friends who have had my back all the way thru this thing.

I will post a progress report on Thursday nights, so stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

First they ignored us...

Mahatma Gandhi said “first they ignore you; then they laugh at you; then they fight you; then you win”. I can find no words more fitting for Barack Hussein Obama’s history presidential primary victory last night. No one believed he would win. Except those of us who knew he could win.

I am proud to have worked on this primary campaign here in Virginia. And excited, energized, motivated to do the hard work to get our candidate elected in November. The Obama team, from the bottom to the top, is ready, willing, and able to win.
Praise God for this day, which will no doubt go down in history, as the day we turned the page in America. YES WE CAN. YES WE CAN. YES WE CAN.
See here for a good synopsis of this historic presidential primary.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

'Music is the Soul of the Woman'

Happy Black Music Month! ‘I love music – any kind of music’ is a favorite refrain of mine. Sadly, I don’t know enough about the history of music – of Black music’s influence on all genres – as I would like. I did not even know who Bo Diddley was, until he passed on yesterday.

Apparently, he was “a founding father of rock 'n' roll whose distinctive "shave and a haircut, two bits" rhythm and innovative guitar effects inspired legions of other musicians”.
The AP article goes on to say: “The legendary singer and performer, known for his homemade square guitar, dark glasses and black hat, was an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, had a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and received a lifetime achievement award in 1999 at the Grammy Awards. In recent years he also played for the elder President Bush and President Clinton. Diddley appreciated the honors he received, "but it didn't put no figures in my checkbook." "If you ain't got no money, ain't nobody calls you honey," he quipped. The name Bo Diddley came from other youngsters when he was growing up in Chicago, he said in a 1999 interview. "I don't know where the kids got it, but the kids in grammar school gave me that name," he said, adding that he liked it so it became his stage name. Other times, he gave somewhat differing stories on where he got the name. Some experts believe a possible source for the name is a one-string instrument used in traditional blues music called a diddley bow. His first single, "Bo Diddley," introduced record buyers in 1955 to his signature rhythm: bomp ba-bomp bomp, bomp bomp, often summarized as "shave and a haircut, two bits." The B side, "I'm a Man," with its slightly humorous take on macho pride, also became a rock standard. The company that issued his early songs was Chess-Checkers records, the storied Chicago-based labels that also recorded Chuck Berry and other stars. Howard Kramer, assistant curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, said in 2006 that Diddley's Chess recordings "stand among the best singular recordings of the 20th century." Diddley's other major songs included, "Say Man," "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover," "Shave and a Haircut," "Uncle John," "Who Do You Love?" and "The Mule."

Diddley's influence was felt on both sides of the Atlantic. Buddy Holly borrowed the bomp ba-bomp bomp, bomp bomp rhythm for his song "Not Fade Away." The Rolling Stones' bluesy remake of that Holly song gave them their first chart single in the United States, in 1964. The following year, another British band, the Yardbirds, had a Top 20 hit in the U.S. with their version of "I'm a Man." Diddley was also one of the pioneers of the electric guitar, adding reverb and tremelo effects. He even rigged some of his guitars himself. "He treats it like it was a drum, very rhythmic," E. Michael Harrington, professor of music theory and composition at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., said in 2006. Many other artists, including the Who, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello copied aspects of Diddley's style. Growing up, Diddley said he had no musical idols, and he wasn't entirely pleased that others drew on his innovations. "I don't like to copy anybody. Everybody tries to do what I do, update it," he said. "I don't have any idols I copied after." "They copied everything I did, upgraded it, messed it up. It seems to me that nobody can come up with their own thing, they have to put a little bit of Bo Diddley there," he said.” For the entire article By RON WORD, Associated Press Writer click here.

Thank God for news outlets like the Tom Joyner Morning Show, which gives a ‘little known Black History fact’ to listeners every day. Those little facts really help me fill in the gaps left by my American ‘His’tory mis-education…

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

...But I Know Change 'Gone Come.

The newsrags and pundits are all wondering out loud about the role that race and gender played in this campaign. Sexism and racism should be discussed, because they are both salient issues. But let’s not let that discussion proceed without an acknowledgement of the realities of this primary:

The Obama for America team simply ran a better campaign than the Hillary for President team. And a majority of primary voters have demonstrated that they believe Barack Obama is simply a better candidate to lead America. These are the realities.

Now, I have already heard, and fully expect to continue to hear, the ‘chorus of critics’, the naysayers and doubters. They caution us and warn us that Obama simply cannot bring about the change that he has promised us. Washington is too set in its political cement to be bothered by change.

And let me be very clear: I understand that the task at hand (changing the politics of Washington, changing the domestic issues that challenge our country, changing our foreign relations, etc) is by no means simple. And there will be nothing easy about an Obama Presidency. The change we desire, the change he has promised, will be at best, very difficult to achieve.

But for one (or for many) to suggest that change is impossible, is for one to be willfully (and woefully) ignorant of the facts: in one year, the Obama for America team significantly changed the way presidential primaries are ran in this country and viewed from abroad; the Obama for America team significantly changed the way presidential primaries are funded and managed; and if current numbers are any indicators (and I believe that they are) the Obama for America team significantly changed the way presidential candidates are elected. Considering these facts, it stands to reason that in four years, the Obama Administration can significantly change the politics of Washington, significantly change domestic issues, and significantly change foreign relations (and change them all for the better).

Those who don’t believe need only look at the composition of the Obama for America team to understand why and how the change happened, and why and how still more change is possible. Millions of previously disengaged citizens, young, old, and in between, now have the ear of a true leader, and he has theirs in return. So to the ‘chorus of critics’, naysayers and doubters: do not underestimate the power of many who are committed to changing the power of few. Others have and they are not better of because of it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Obama/___ Short List...

So yesterday Senator John Edwards endorsed my good man Barack Obama for President. I immediately thought "well ain't he a day late and a dollar short". But further analysis (we should always do further analysis) gave me reason to consider his timing. I want to give Edwards props for supporting Obama even after a major loss in West VA (West VA - never forget Megan Williams see here for the hate crime story that West VA's Senator never even commented on - the same Senator who made a speech on the Senate Floor over the M. Vick case...) and for keeping the light on the poverty stricken citizens of one of the most prosperous country in the world.
Even so, I do not think Edwards is the best choice for Obama's VP. As usual, I was inspired by the Field after reading his post this morning; I gave some real consideration to who Obama should select as VP. I was really leaning heavily toward a woman, for the obvious reasons, but an article from News One, which by the way appears to be shaping up as a very decent alternative news source for people like me, made me think twice about that. My good Governor, Tim Kaine, was listed by the author, for some darn good reasons:
"Another man of faith Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia might be a good choice. A devoted Catholic, next to governing Virginia, he and his family spend a lot of time helping his Church. He appeals to neighbors in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the Carolinas, which would help Obama. During Governor Kaine's tenure, Virginia has been recognized as the most business-friendly state in American, the top-performing state government in America and the state where "a child is most likely to have a successful life." These are great credentials to help build upon Obama's economic plan as well as education reform. The Governor who once was a missionary would even rock the evangelical voter too--and give McCain some trouble in the Bible Belt."
Woodson also points out that Sam Nunn of Georgia may offer the best option against McCain:
"...preeminent foreign policy and defense strategist former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia could be the total package that Obama will need to finish off McCain. Nunn, who represented Georgia for two decades, chaired the Armed Services Committee and now heads Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a nonprofit that works to reduce global threats from nuclear or biochemical weapons. Obama, who wants to pull the troops out of Iraq, could use the advice of Nunn, who voted against the first Gulf War. And geographically, Nunn can help Obama lock up Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Texas and add to Obama's base in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, and Mississippi. Nunn, having been a former colleague of McCain's, knows his weakness and is better recognized for his command of foreign affairs."
Now I have to go do some research on Nunn. Because I think this argument is sound; one of my primary reasons for backing Obama is his stance on the war, and his commitment to ending it. But I also know that it will be no easy task pulling our troops out and leaving the region, and I think an experienced, level-headed foreign policy and defense strategist would be a great asset to getting this done. Obama and his team really have a tough job in selecting the VP choice, and I pray that they will do so wisely.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Another Day Goes By in Darfur (2)

I am attending a Council on Foundations Conference in MD this week; we had the pleasure of hearing about how the philanthropic world is attempting to keep human rights on the forefront of the international conversation, from three individuals from South Africa, Ireland, and the US. The crisis in Darfur continues and I will highlight it in my own small way until it ends. This is an article updating the status of the conflict. Another day goes by...

UNITED NATIONS, New York: The conflict in Darfur is deteriorating, with full deployment of a new peacekeeping force delayed until 2009 and no prospect of a political settlement for a war that has killed as many as 300,000 people in five years, UN officials said.

In grim reports to the Security Council, the United Nations aid chief and the representative of the peacekeeping mission said that suffering in the Sudanese region was worsening. Tens of thousands more have been uprooted from their homes and food rations to the needy are about to be cut in half, they said.

"We continue to see the goal posts receding, to the point where peace in Darfur seems further away today than ever," said John Holmes, under secretary general for humanitarian affairs at the UN.

The conflict began in early 2003 when rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated central government of Sudan, accusing it of discrimination. Many of the worst atrocities in the war have been blamed on the janjaweed, the militia of Arab nomads allied with the government.
A joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force took over duties in Darfur in January from a beleaguered AU mission of 7,000 officers. But only about 9,000 soldiers and police officers of the 26,000 authorized for the new mission have been deployed.

"We are late, and we are trying to speed up the deployment of this mission, and we facing many obstacles," said Rodolphe Adada, the envoy for the UN-AU force. "But eventually, with the help of some donors, we could be in a position to achieve maybe 80 percent of the force by the end of this year."

The mission faces major problems in putting troops into a very hostile environment, Adada said. It still lacks five critical capabilities to become operational - attack helicopters, surveillance aircraft, transport helicopters, military engineers and logistical support.

Holmes said that further progress in deploying the joint peacekeeping force, known as Unamid, would help protect civilians and possibly humanitarian convoys.

"But only an end to all violence and concrete steps toward a political settlement will make the fundamental difference needed, as the rebel movements themselves above all need to recognize," Holmes said.

The UN and the AU have tried for months to open peace talks between Sudan and rebel groups after the failure of a 2005 agreement to stem violence. But most rebel chiefs are boycotting the negotiations, and security in Darfur has further deteriorated in recent months.

Adada told the council that "unfortunately, it is commonly understood today in Darfur that peace is not at all attractive - neither economically nor politically."

When Jan Egeland, the former UN humanitarian chief, brought the Darfur conflict to the Security Council's attention in April 2004, he said approximately 750,000 people were in danger.

Now, Holmes told the council, "of Darfur's estimated six million people, some 4.27 million have now been seriously affected by the conflict."

Holmes said that many of them have had to flee their homes, with 2.45 million people sheltering elsewhere in Sudan and 260,000 more in neighboring countries. Approximately 100,000 civilians have been forced to flee this year, he said. Sixty thousand of them were displaced in West Darfur, which has recently seen an increase in violence.


Friday, May 2, 2008

"Teach them well and let them lead the way..."

Questions: Where can I get one of these posters? Why isn't it a news story that these posters are necessary? What can I do to encourage more Black men to take young boys in our community as their responsibility (fathers or not!)?
Answers forthcoming...
(Hat tip to News One for this article

Friday, April 25, 2008

How long?

I don't know Mrs. Bell, and she doesn't know me. But I know that we are both wondering the same thing today. How long will a young Black man's life be worth less than anything else in America?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Opportunity of Lifetimes

No need for backdrop on the current status of the Democratic Primary needed. My thoughts, especially in light of The Field’s ‘you have to start somewhere’ commentary, wandered about in my mind. What is my other option in November?

I am ideologically on the other side of the state from McCain, and he probably couldn’t care less. I find the whole ‘Bush-Clinton-Clinton-Bush-Bush-Clinton monarchy equally unappealing (and just plain wrong when you think about it, if anyone would ever stop to think about it). A third party would be great and I would be on board, but it is improbable at best, though not impossible.

So in truth my options are limited, in fact, singular. I can only vote for Barack Obama. If his name is on the ballot, or if I have to write him in myself, I will cast my vote, a right purchased for me with the blood of ancestors who knew that I would never take it for granted, for the only candidate can help us do the impossible.

And if we in these United States, don’t come together to elect this individual, if we do not find a way to choose as our next leader an individual who has energized previously dormant swaths of the electorate (young and old alike) with a simple call to community and civic service, who has re-invented the entire game in terms of political campaign financing by allowing people with less than five dollars to have a real stake in this campaign, who has implemented a strategy that rests on (gasp!) the collective needs of all portions of the electorate as opposed to the top 18 percent or the ‘big states’, who has demonstrated the ability to build working coalitions and bring about meaningful and useful public policy on issues that matter, who has exhibited a enormous amount of grace under fire and dignity under duress, who has come through an unnecessarily evil and ugly season with preserved integrity, who knowingly puts life and limb on the line for the like and love of this country, if we do not find a way to elect him, and are only able to offer as our best excuse, the color of his skin, then shame on US, and sorry is our future.

No one individual in particular will suffer from the inability of the US to move forward. But everyone in general will have missed out on what can only be called the opportunity of lifetimes. And the consequences will be devastating, far-reaching, and painfully long-term.

The truly regretfully part will be that we in these United States have been at similar junctures before; where fate, or decency, or dumb luck has offered up a chance for this country to live up to its true creed; we are provided at fleeting intervals, occasion to do the right thing. And, with a predictable regularity, we rarely miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. We are slow to pass up a chance to pass up a chance. If there is one thing that we do with consistency, confidence and pride, is snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Let it not be so this time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rape of the Earth...

Happy Earth Day Folks.

I am sad to say that we have made some, but not as much progress as I would like on saving our planet. The environment is not "sexy" enough, I suppose. As I celebrate today, and think of what else I can do in my little corner of the world (changed most of my light bulbs already, recycle even though there is NO curbside pick-up, cut off my boiler every day even though I have to go in the dungeon-basement to do it...), a song from one of my favorite artists, Tracy Chapman, comes to mind:

"Mother of us all

Place of our birth

How can we stand aside

And watch the rape of the world?

This the beginning of the end

This the most heinous of crimes

This the deadliest of sins

The greatest violation of all time

Mother of us all

Place of our birth

We all are witness

To the rape of the world

You've seen her stripped, mined

You've heard of bombs exploded underground

You know the sun shines

Hotter than ever before

Some claim to have crowned her A queen

With cities of concrete and steel

But there is no glory no honor

In what results

From the rape of the world

She has been clear-cut

She has been dumped on

She has been poisoned and beaten up

And we have been witness

To the rape of the world

Mother of us all

Place of our birth

How can we stand aside

And watch the rape of the world?

If you look you'll see it with your own eyes

If you listen you will hear her cries

If you care you will stand and testify

And stop the rape of the world

Stop the rape of the world"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wise Men (and Women) Still Seek the Truth...

This is by far the best analysis of the the whole "Rev. Wright Flap" that I 've read thus far. I can't re-state any of this better that Tim Wise did, so I will just provide a snippet of my favorite part of the essay (entire essay can be found at Hat tip to the Field Negro for always planting these great seeds of knowledge. I can't wait till harvest time...
"So that's the truth of the matter: Wright made one comment that is highly arguable, but which has also been voiced by white America's favorite black man, another that was horribly misinterpreted and stripped of all context, and then another that was demonstrably accurate. And for this, he is pilloried and made into a virtual enemy of the state; for this, Barack Obama may lose the support of just enough white folks to cost him the Democratic nomination, and/or the Presidency; all of it, because Jeremiah Wright, unlike most preachers opted for truth. If he had been one of those "prosperity ministers" who says Jesus wants nothing so much as for you to be rich, like Joel Osteen, that would have been fine. Had he been a retread bigot like Falwell was, or Pat Robertson is, he might have been criticized, but he would have remained in good standing and surely not have damaged a Presidential candidate in this way. But unlike Osteen, and Falwell, and Robertson, Jeremiah Wright refused to feed his parishioners lies."
"But white folks have a hard time hearing these simple truths. We find it almost impossible to listen to an alternative version of reality. Indeed, what seems to bother white people more than anything, whether in the recent episode, or at any other time, is being confronted with the recognition that black people do not, by and large, see the world like we do; that black people, by and large, do not view America as white people view it. We are, in fact, shocked that this should be so, having come to believe, apparently, that the falsehoods to which we cling like a kidney patient clings to a dialysis machine, are equally shared by our darker-skinned compatriots."
"Whites refuse to remember (or perhaps have never learned) that which black folks cannot afford to forget. I've seen white people stunned to the point of paralysis when they learn the truth about lynchings in this country--when they discover that such events were not just a couple of good old boys with a truck and a rope hauling some black guy out to the tree, hanging him, and letting him swing there. They were never told the truth: that lynchings were often community events, advertised in papers as "Negro Barbecues," involving hundreds or even thousands of whites, who would join in the fun, eat chicken salad and drink sweet tea, all while the black victims of their depravity were being hung, then shot, then burned, and then having their body parts cut off, to be handed out to onlookers. They are stunned to learn that postcards of the events were traded as souvenirs, and that very few whites, including members of their own families did or said anything to stop it."
"And oh yes, I said it: white preachers lie. In fact, they lie with a skill, fluidity, and precision unparalleled in the history of either preaching or lying, both of which histories stretch back a ways and have often overlapped (my emphasis added here because let's face it, this is such a way to put the truth!). They lie every Sunday, as they talk about a Savior they have chosen to represent dishonestly as a white man, in every picture to be found of him in their tabernacles, every children's story book in their Sunday Schools, every Christmas card they'll send to relatives and friends this December. But to lie about Jesus, about the one they consider God--to bear false witness as to who this man was and what he looked like--is no cause for concern."
Tell the truth Tim Wise. Tell the truth.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Another Day Goes by in Dafur

I don't have to go into details here. The crisis in Dafur is horrific, especially for women and girls. We should be more proactive (we = USA) and I support the current efforts to use the Olympic Games as a way to highlight China's connection to this. In order to keep myself from feeling absolutely powerless on this issue, I am forming a campaign with my young OPAL members to write our elected officials, sponsoring agencies, and the Olympic Committee. I am also going to host a year-long education and awareness campaign on this issue - I think it will be very beneficial for my high school Seniors during their last year.

Much kudos to my President, Barack Obama, for being on the right side of this issue in MHO; he believes that a boycott of the opening ceremonies should be up for consideration, in order to shed light on this continued crisis and China's involvement in it. While all the pundits pontificate on political ‘problems’ (read: not actually problems, just non-issues that make for good bad news coverage and ratings), another woman in Dafur is violently raped; another child becomes an orphan, another tear is made in the fabric of family, another day goes by in Dafur.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Back from my local travels!

It has been a while since I last posted - I've been busy changing the world one day at a time! Actually, I've been doing the majority of my blogging on my Barack Obama page. But, my brother just started a new blog, and I've been tracking the Field Negro and Electronic Village very regularly for the past few months, so I thought I would re-activate over here as well.

Needless to say, I have been volunteering for the Obama for America campaign here in Petersburg, VA. I am still doing youth mentoring work in my community as well - can't change the world by focusing on the world!

Late shout out to "Villager" for that great advice on local travel. I am going to take your advice, and take some young people with me on a scavenger-discovery hunt around our great city. I may devote several posts to the current condition of the City of Petersburg, and my determination to be one of the many people who help turn it around.

'live well'.