Q is for Queen … City that is.

I began visiting Charlotte, North Carolina when I was about four. By the time I was ten it became a staple of my summer break.  I loved it.  It was so very different from the concrete jungle of Elizabeth, NJ.  There were trees! There was the Charlottetown mall, just a short walk from the Main Street in Cherry Community where I’d stay with my extended family.  Then there was the Cherry Reunion, where each year I’d have to hear, as if for the first time, that “Jenny” from the Jeffersons grew up there. The “country” (what we called the small towns in Anson County where my ancestors as far back as 1864 originated) was a place of  particular magic and mystery with corn, pigs and gaggles of down southness that a city girl like me was not used to.  Going to the country was an all day affair. We’d load into my cousin Big Debbie’s Datsun and head off at about 100 mph down Independence Blvd. The music jammed. The ice in my cousins illegal container full of boiler maker jiggled as the car became aerial over the hills and valleys of the road to White Store.

When I visited Charlotte I didn’t feel like the alien I often did at home due to my chubby nerdishness.  Here, I could just be me and people seemed okay with it. Call it “southern hospitality” or phoniness, but whatever it was I thoroughly enjoyed it. By the time I was 20, and my mom bought a house in here.  I was ready to escape the hardcore north and live in the southern splendor.  I was so ready, in fact, that I took it upon myself to load our vehicle and inform my mother and Nana that if they weren’t ready to go on the day after my brother’s wedding, that I’d be leaving them in Elizabeth.  We arrived in Charlotte, NC on June 3rd 1996 (the day after my brother’s wedding.)  It felt like it was going to be a complete reboot, that life as I’d known it could only go up.  It took approximately 6 months for me to wish I was in Elizabeth again. I felt lonely and isolated. Things closed too early, so I was desperately bored after 10pm.  The people weren’t the same either.  The newness wore off. The southern hospitality disappeared. You name a complaint, I had it.  I stayed though, because where the hell else was my immature co-dependent ass going to go?

This past week when the delegates and visitors from around the country and world descended upon our fair city, their excitement made me think about my times here as a kid and my first few months here as an adult.  Uptown Charlotte was a mecca for any kind of fuckery imaginable this week. Documentary films, protests, news broadcasts, visual and performing artists, and random celebrity sightings made Charlotte actually feel like the New Southern oasis it often presents itself to be.

There were the skeptical among us (myself included) that smirked at the Welcome to Charlotte video that played at the top of the convention.  Watching the visually stunning HD film clip I wondered “Where the hell that place was, and how do I get to live there!”.   It was as if they took the rampant crime and drug issues on Beatties Ford Road (just blocks from Uptown), The gutted ghost town of Independence Boulevard,  and the armies of homeless folk who call Uptown Charlotte home, swept them under a rug, or stuffed them in a closet and shot this film.

Now, I’m not unrealistic enough to believe that a clip meant to show our  face to the world would include our “bad side”, but I do believe Charlotte can on a more honest level be that shiny boom town reflected in the video.  The issue is,  as a friend of mine puts it, Charlotte doesn’t have a “soul”.  It doesn’t have a thing that defines  and connects us as citizens … unless you count money which is generally soulless. Charlotte from where I sit is like a wealthy father (or in our case Mother) who throws money at her children instead of engaging them and building a real relationship.

This week, Queen Charlotte dressed her children up to show them off for company, but will most assuredly go back to gentle pats on the head followed by a stern “run along!” She will continue to gentrify communities as rich and meaningful as Cherry Community out of existence.  She will continue to turn her attentions toward fiscal advancement for those who need it least, hoard all of the cities  attractions to her center denying the benefits of expansion to North,  West and Eastern areas of the city.  She will continue to create a culture that reduces artists to novelty acts,  and rarely compensate them what they’re truly worth.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  We can challenge the Queen to “do better”. We can challenge ourselves to engage in the city more.  Leave our comfort zones. Take in a show we wouldn’t normally see. Venture into an area of town you wouldn’t normally visit and check out what’s going . Invest time and finances in communities that need it. Seeds are already being planted by the non-profit arts and social service organizations in the city.  These are the seeds of hope that will continue to grow Charlotte into its own living breathing city with a soul and a heart that beats, with or without company. Who knows, maybe we’ll actually stop being compared to Atlanta!

Truth be told and cynicism aside, I love Charlotte.  It’s where I “grew up”.  I became a writer, a theatre artist, a mother, and a career health care provider with the education and experiences I’ve had here.  I guess this is why I feel so invested in her future.  I would like to hope that one day I can give back to her as much as she has given to me. It was terribly exciting to have the DNC here in the “QC”.  Hopefully it is the beginning of bright future for her.

Rosie.

Isn’t she lovely? Oh and she’s black … they think. Click the picture for details :).

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V is for Vagina. Keep your religion and laws out of mine.

I was absolutely BUSTING to be in the middle of the melee that is the DNC in CLT when I arrived in Uptown Charlotte this past Tuesday. No sooner than my feet hit the pavement had I been greeted by the mad bullhorn ravings of the pro-lifers. They gnashed their terrible teeth, roared their terrible roars, rolled their terrible eyes, and brandished their terrible photos of mangled fetuses.  They called the president a Muslim as if it were the most wicked thing one could be. They said “Mmmmussslim”  in a tone that eerily mimicked the sound of the word Nigger in pre-civil rights Alabama.  Then in the next breath  spoke about the loving redemption to be found in Christ and how we must protect our children  against the threat posed  by the Obama administration.

For my money, the pro-lifers are far more threatening and imposing than any presidential administration I’ve ever lived through. It is not their religion, but more so the application of it that is frightening.  Using the Bible/Christianity to justify dictating a woman’s reproductive rights  mirrors the mentality used to justify the enslavement of an entire race of people.  It’s that “white-male-forefather” mentality re-imagined and thinly veiled.  It implies that there is one moral code that applies universally when that simply isn’t true.

While there are certain things that tend to apply across cultures (e.g. though shalt not kill, steal etc.) almost everything else really depends on the views of the individuals or groups within a culture.  When those “views” impeded on individual human rights then it’s time to re-evaluate those views; as was done with slavery, as was done during women’s suffrage … Oh wait, we have dealt with this shit already (See Roe vs. Wade).  Then, as was stated and re-stated during speeches and discussions after last night’s DNC coverage, “Why in the hell are we still talking about it?”

My theory:  Because  of those damn monsters!  Those control seeking, white-male-paternalistic monsters inside the minds and hearts of certain men. They  continue to seek to make their religion, their morals, their values the law of the land, all while conveniently forgetting this patch of green wasn’t theirs to begin with.  They resist the inevitable transitions happening in this country sometimes aloud with bullhorns, hellfire, and brimstone or sometimes quietly with laws and legislation designed to “protect” women and children.  Well I, as a woman and the descendant of those that were “owned”, would like to suggest that these folk shove their ideology up their asses.

I’m a grown woman who is mentally intact (on most days).  I’m fully capable of making my own decisions (“right” or “wrong”) about my body. I will resist at the cellular level any attempt to control, dominate, suppress, undermine or otherwise violate my Barbara Goodbush or the body in which she resides. I would hope any woman in her right mind would do the same.

Rosie.

The word of the day is VAGINA. Can you say that Vuh J-eye Nuuuh

A is for African-American, B is for Black … hell yes it matters.

Given the history of race relations in this country I find it 100% absurd that black Americans are often silently requested to mute their pride in America’s first black president.  At the same time we’re also asked to ignore the fact that every president before him was white and male.  God bless America and it’s bottomless self-denial. God bless America’s blissful ignorance that allows people to ignore the air of bitterness, resentment, and out right hatred have supposedly has nothing to do with the color of our president’s skin.

I refuse to hold my tongue a second longer.  The fact that Barack Obama is our president and black at the same time does my heart good. Something that was deemed a mission impossible that quite frankly I’d given up hope of ever seeing happen, happened in 2008.  I was proud of our country’s ability to galvanize behind someone that more closely represented what we’re supposed to be as a nation, and it’s tragic that some don’t see it that way.

As much as I disliked George Bush, I never hated him.  I never wished ill on him. Did I question his decision making skills?  Yes. Did I or anyone I knew for that matter create racist bumper stickers lobbying against his re-election … No.

Well, wait. I’d have to be in a position of power or a member of a dominating majority, thus enabling me to withhold certain rights and privileges from another group to in fact be “racist”. So umm no, couldn’t have done that effectively if I’d tried … moving on.
 

There is a dialogue about race that bubbles under the surface of this country that longs to be had. That erupts in groups like the Tea Party that call for a return to the America of our “Forefathers” who may I remind,  grew this country on the backs of slaves.  It’s the continued perpetuation of falsehoods about President Obama’s nationality and what religion he practices. Really? Like any of that nullifies that he’s probably one of the most intelligent presidents this country has had and that his story and that of his wife are walking interpretations of the “American Dream”.

The story of blacks in America is a story among many thousands of stories about people who endure adversity around the world. It begins and ends with race for black people in America. Period. To deny the story of  race in America would be like Jews denying the holocaust. We would never dream of asking Jews to forget the atrocities of the holocaust, so why then does it seem within reason to ask that blacks in America forget, deny or (my favorite) “get over racism” when it penetrates every facet of our lives? You don’t see it?  Then there’s a great chance you’re not black.

My race is not ALL that I am,  but it has played a major role in making me who I am. Why am I playing the race card? Because it is the card I was dealt, and dammit  we have to play the hand we are dealt.  Barack and Michelle Obama played the  hell out of theirs and they inspire me to achieve despite any circumstances that are in my way.  That lesson applies across race, creed, sexual preference, physical ability, you name it … it applies.  Republican or Democrat you can’t deny that.

Barack Obama’s success can be our success as a country. We as a nation have to “call a spade a spade” when it comes to the underlying rage displayed by so many at the mere mention of the Obama name. We’re better than this. We must allow ourselves the opportunity to see the significance of who Barack Obama is and what his story means outside of our feelings one way or the other about his politics.  And after that damn speech Willie Clinton laid down, I don’t know about you, but I am FIRED UP and READY TO GO!!! I’m ready to believe, like a five year old in the tooth fairy, that this country can be a nation united.

Rosie.

My President. My Inspiration.

The A.B.C.’s of the DNC

I’ll be the very first to admit that I don’t know much of shit about politics.  I’ll go even further and say that most people who cast their votes don’t either.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We’re all too busy living our lives I suppose.   However, as a writer, I sometimes feel compelled to have a  “voice” or a solid opinion on “key” issues when all I really have is my experience which is the source of most of the material I write.  If it resonates with a group or speaks to  larger “profound” vision.  Cool.  If not, it doesn’t really matter.  It’s still my truth, and I am the only person I can speak for.

Now I find myself in the middle of a political convention as a writer wanting to say something, but not feeling qualified enough.  There are plenty of people up and down the glorious throughway of North Tryon St., on television, on the internet, and on the radio poised to shove their opinion down, through, and in any orifice you have available whether you’d like it or not.  Me, well all I can give you is this whole shindig through my own cultural filter.  With that said …

… this is who I am:  I’m a lower middle class black female, a single mother of one.  I grew up culturally rich but fiscally poor and black in the New Jersey.  These elements are my lens through which I see my life. It is that lens that I will present my muses, random ramblings, and flickers of inspiration for the next few days. It may not be comfortable for all audiences.  I will be non-belligerent, and as honest as my cowardly soul will allow me to be. I vow to keep is simple as Sesame Street when I can.  Come to think of it, that’s what Uptown Charlotte feels like right now … a really warped Sesame Street … only  there are too many guest stars and not enough Muppets to greet them so they just roam endlessly and scream about the things that bother them …  All while Snuffy sits in the infamous “empty chair” and smokes a hooka and giggles. Anyway … Ready kids?  We’re going to the DNC!

Rosie.

 

The Gospel of House.

And on the 8th day God created House

Music  generated by inspired bodies that brought forth

rhythm, beats, and voices that did not sing about freedom

but that were FREEDOM.

Unbound these voices disintegrated shackles to dust for feet to

STOMP, slide and shuffle across dance floors in dimly lit santuaries

that earthlings called “clubs” but  which the liberated ones called

Gateways, portals, to a land beyond the one that would render their being

imperfect.

Here they are GODS moving in time to the Voice

Stepping, shuffling, jirating to a rhythm that origins surpass that of time.

Writhing in ecstasy to a force beyond their control

The heart beat.

That

thump-thump-thump-thumpthumpthump-thumpthump

The souls became one exploding with applause of gratitude

For the gifts of the sanctuary.

The sweat. The aliveness. A high not available on this plane.

It fueled their movements, fired their souls, and united them ––

Under the Gospel of House.

Thou shalt not settle for the petty limitations placed upon thee by petty muthaphuckas.

Thou shalt jump, shout, kick, scream, and MOVE, like there is no tomorrow because there might not be one.

Thou shalt dance away the pain, the stress, the fear, the turbulence of everyday life … because there is nothing a good soul clap and bunny hop can’t cure!

One Love. One God. One Sky. One Day. One Life. Let’s live it!*

Rosie.

*(just make sure you have ibuprofen and an ice pack in the freezer for when you get home ; )  )

House in the Park in Atlanta was a spiritual experience.  Here’s
a tiny peak B).

Oh and if Alvin Ailey is ever in your burg, it is strongly suggested that you see this piece live.