Sniper fire rang out during an otherwise peaceful #BlackLivesMatter protest last night in Dallas, TX. I thought at the time, and I believe now that the chickens that Malcolm X spoke about before his murder in 1965 are finally coming home to roost. Four police officers are dead. The 2016 death count for United States police officers shooting civilians: 115.
…and the day came that the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anain Nin
I cannot write another post on a second day in a row about yet another young Black male killed on film by police for no reason (in front of his girl and child; reaching for his registration and insurance; licensed to carry). Therefore, I’ll leave this poem by the precursors (stewards) of Hip Hop, The Last Poets:
I saw numerous posts the other day about “respecting the flag.” None of those assholes will say a Goddamned thing about Alton Sterling.
Fuck your flag.
Until my people are treated equally to whites in this country, take your flag, rub it in dog shit, set it ablaze, and then stick it in your ass.
Alton Sterling was a hardworking family man with permission from a store’s owner to sell his CDs outside. He was shot and killed, in the coldest blood, because he was Black. NOT because he was carrying a gun as Louisiana is an open carry state.
Their names are Blane Salamoni, son of the heir apparent to the chief of police in Baton Rouge, and Howie Lake II, a 3-year veteran. And they’ll probably get a complete walk for shooting someone trying to earn a living. Yes Sterling had a gun. Did you see it? Was it drawn?? He was face down on the ground. Yet we now know more about his background and personal life than these “officers.” Someone close to the incident recorded the murder. The officer’s body cams were conveniently missing. When actor Jesse Williams gave a stirring acceptance speech pointing out these systemic issues, there were calls for him to be fired from his job (LOL) and accusations that he’s the racist.
Oh, and the police-triggered death count is now over 500 for the year, higher than last year’s toll at this time, which was the deadliest year ever. The death list just keeps on growing.
Therefore, if you posted anything the other day about “respecting the flag” and you say nothing about this case, kindly remove your ignorant, prejudiced, clueless ass from my social media pages. Ignore me in the streets. You’re not a good American.
Fuck the flag.
This is graphic. This is disgusting. This is America.
I have so many ideas now I don’t know where to start. Methinks I’ll just jump in and not worry about the mess or the confusion.
See that photo above? That’s my note case. And beside it are more than 20 years worth of research scraps, faded compositions, song lyrics, characters and short story and screenplay ideas that I’ve put on the back burner. Some I even forgot completely about.
I decided (powerful word, decide…different from a choice) to dedicate myself more not only to essays rather than continuing to exclusively swim in the cesspool of journalism — which isn’t getting me anywhere but neck deep in shit –but to my creative prose, including short stories and starting a screenplay.
It’s amazing when unlocking memories how all the emotion of an idea will come rushing back.
This is what I was supposed to do. When I was in college I believed journalism to be more “practical” than prose writing. I’d use both sides of my brain and combine my creativity with business. I’d always have a job. Man, is that now a hilarious joke! Its now become obvious that the more practical pursuit is my biggest, scariest dream. And that the reason for the lack of success is my playing it safe. It reminds me of my favorite quote from one of my favorite writers…
“…and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud became more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin
I came across this fantastic article about functional anxiety recently, and it coincides with the start of my work with a web therapy program called Joyable.
Web therapy? Yes, girl. Web therapy.
When I quit in-office talk therapy, it was because I didn’t have the money to keep going. I knew I was at some sort of crossroads (I’d gotten the panic attacks to stop, but I still couldn’t actually lift myself off the couch to really do anything) and didn’t want my progress to slip. I’ve done so much reading and researching it’s ridiculous:both Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns and The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron changed my life and I learned I’m a high sensation seeking, highly sensitive (HSP) extrovert who’ll lean toward panic and borderline personality disorder when under great stress. Yikes! Through all the reading I’d done I learned about different techniques and came to the conclusion that Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT was best for me. I believed CBT would help me conquer the last of my anxiety issues that my therapist couldn’t help me with from her office: literally getting me back into the world I’d become so afraid of.
CBT puts therapy into action by first explaining how our brains go into overdrive to produce anxious thoughts and then breaking down into tiny steps what’s most frightening (while actually doing what you most fear). Picture someone afraid to fly getting step-by-step training to reduce anxiety leading up to being able to stand at the gate at the airport.
Joyable puts all this information online in a 12-week, $300 program. It’s designed to reduce anxiety significantly while working with a coach online, doing online exercises and planning outside challenges. After just a few exercises, I’m making incredible progress…significantly more progress than their averages show.
If you have trouble with anxiety too and can’t afford the fancy in-office cognitive therapist, please consider Joyable. It’s really helping me and at just the perfect time!
Jesse Williams has been an activist since high school. He attended the Moses Brown Quaker School in Providence, RI with my heart Jonathan Dyson. There was a “racial incident” one day at school. And since the Quakers don’t play that, a school wide meeting was called to discuss it. From what I was told, Jesse brought it then — in front of the entire class — just like he did last night. This is nothing new for him. But it seems to be new for the many Black folks who’re so amazed that this brother with the perfect, crossover looks can be so radically down for his people. This reminds me of my middle and high school classmates who believed that because I look like I do, which obviously means I think I’m white, I shouldn’t have been raising up on our teachers for our inaccurate and whitewashed history lessons: something I did EVERY DAY.
Therefore, some folks like Sil Lai Abrams penned brilliant responses dealing with colorism, like THIS. Others, like for the Providence Journal, delved into his upbringing with activist parents. Many posted tweets like this:
We have got to do better.
Yes, Jesse is fine. Yet his brain is finer. So what that he’s “light?” While we’re so busy competing in the light skin vs. dark skin Olympics as Abrams so pointedly described it, the oppressor gets to keep on skipping down the primrose path whistling a happy tune!
WE’RE ALL BLACK! We’re all in this shit together. Let’s act like it.
Here’s Jesse’s BET Humanitarian Award acceptance speech:
I just recalled a story my Dad told me about my Granddad back when I was sick with the panic attacks the first time. I just started having them again.
M dad knew I’d lost all my self-confidence and was really down.
He said that once, back when Trenton still had Jazz clubs, he and my Uncle Barry were listening to a band play when my Granddad walked in. He was still in uniform (Papa, as I called him, was a Trenton Police Officer at the time) but wearing a leather jacket. He heard the band from outside and came in to investigate. He went over to my Dad and Uncle’s table and said, “I don’t have anything to wear.” He left the club, went out to his car, and came back with his saxophone, which he always kept in the trunk. He returned and said to my Dad, “I’m just going to keep the jacket on.” Papa proceeded to go onstage and play along with the band into an open mic. And the only way the owner of the club could get him offstage was to cut off the mic.
My Dad then told me, “Think about that. THAT is CONFIDENCE. THAT’S where YOU come from.”
Now, I think of that story whenever I’m scared.
Thank you, Papa. I’m about to make another comeback.
I loved the cast. I loved the storyline. I loved the diversity.
After season four dropped last week, we all see now just how diverse this show isn’t. Not a single Black writer on the show’s writing staff.
I haven’t begun the fourth season of Orange Is The New Black yet. There’s a reason for this. I want to finish reading my screenwriting how-to book first, so that when I start watching, and the inevitable onslaught of ideas hits me, I can begin writing my sample script of the show with a full arsenal. This is especially true since this season has upset a lot of viewers and drawn attention to the fact that although the cast is diverse (the show is about PRISON, how can it NOT star Black and Brown folks?!), and the creator is a super-sharp and stylish woman, Jenji Kohan, THERE ARE ZERO BLACK WRITERS ON STAFF.
Jackie Robinson will forever be connected to my Great-Grandmother in my heart.
My Great-Grandmother was born in October, 1898 in Georgia. Her name was Azzie Lee Parham-Jones-Glover. She was a HUGE baseball fan. But not just any baseball fan, a Brooklyn Dodger fan. That carries some weight, especially for a Black woman raised in the segregated South.
I was the one who in 1997 told her, with my dad standing beside me, that Major League Baseball made the decision to retire Robinson’s number 42 in perpetuity. It took us about 15 minutes to convince her we weren’t playing a trick on her. And then, she launched into some stories. Old folks always have stories.
See, she’d travelled with my Great-Grandfather, Len Jones, all the way to Toronto to see Jackie Robinson play. That was where one of the Dodger minor league teams was based and where Robinson warmed up before his debut at Ebbet’s Field on April 15, 1947. And yes, my Great-Grandparents were in attendance that day too.
She remained a Dodger fan until they abandoned her to California in the 50s, and then when the Mets came about she began staunchly rooting for those underdogs (you won’t find very many older Black people who are Yankee fans, as the Yankees were THE LAST American League team to call up any Black players).
Anyway, PBS aired a fantastic Ken Burns-directed two-night special on Robinson’s life and career this week. Y’all should check it out. Robinson wasn’t even Mama Glover’s favorite player. Roy Campanella was. Go figure.