It’s Oscar season.

9/18/2013 I am not sure if I have ever been this moved to anger by anything.  I didn’t just see Oscar Grant on that screen.  I saw my brother, my nephews, [my ex-boyfriend], every black man that I have loved or thought to love.  My heart is broken into a million pieces about the cheapness of a black life.  It isn’t right.  It’s far from just and it was never meant for us … this American life.  It has served us in no tangible way.  We remain entangled, snared in our own weaknesses and short comings.  Constantly kicked in the stomach, but told to get up.  I am [resentful] at and for black men everywhere and I am choking on the words.  My fingers can’t write them and my mouth can’t speak them.  I am burning with anger.  God please help me find a way to express this to the goal of healing rather than self destruction.

I wrote that on the subway ride home the night after I’d seen Fruitvale Station.  I have not ever in my life reacted so strongly to a film.  From the opening scene, footage of the actual murder of Oscar Grant, to the last moments of the dramatic re-enactment on film I was destroyed.  I sobbed openly and out loud as if I’d seen my own son murdered. I exited the theatre and walked Third Avenue mad enough to strangle someone.  Not a White person, not the Police … anyone. Even the next morning, when I looked back on it, I still harbored residual anger.  How could any human life be so worthless? Why are incidents like this treated so nonchalantly?

These questions danced around in my head for the proceeding days. People were talking about this film everywhere.  I didn’t run across one person who’d seen it and not walked away feeling gut punched.  This is what I want my work as an artist to do, I thought, rattle the consciousness of people, and maybe … just maybe … affect change.  Surely, most people speculated, This film will do well in award season.  Even I, knowing better, allowed myself to dwell in the illusion that the power of this film and the issues it raises would have to be acknowledge by the artistic higher ups.

As we know, and should not be too shocked by, Fruitvale was summarily snubbed by the more illustrious award granting bodies (Oscars/Globes).  I could spend the remainder of this post bitching about that, citing my issues with films of inferior quality/content that were nominated, but I would be missing the point.  The lesson or I should say the reminder, at least for me,  is this: Film is film, a  subjective art form made by an endless variety of creators for an endless variety of reasons.  There are a million and two reasons why certain films, actors, and directors are (or are not) chosen for esteemed awards.  I’d lay the cost of my Tisch tuition on some of the reasons having little to do with the quality of the work. That’s neither here nor there.  What I need to remember is that if I choose to participate in this industry (and it is a choice) I must lay to the side any expectation of glory and tell stories because I want to or because on some cellular level I  need to.

Most of the time I try to tell stories that set me on fire. After all, I am a Black female writer and mother of a Black Son.  I am creating during Oscar season, and I speak not of the award, but a time when it appears to be open season on young Black Men like Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis … etc. etc. It is imperative that these stories are told and retold as America has a nasty tendency to forget what she looks like and needs to be reminded every now and again, by bold artist unthreatened by the withholding of “head-pats” and “atta-boys”. (See: Spike Lee)

Now, I know, every film can’t be Fruitvale or Milk or a political diatribe meant to raise awareness about x to y so that z can be forced to change its evil imperialist ways, nor should it be.  I mean where the fuck would I be without Pee Wee’s Big Adventure or Dumb and Dumber ( especially the scene where Jim Carey slaps dude in the legs with the cane)  to rescue me from the madhouse between my ears and the debacle of George Zimmerman’s budding art career.  What I do want us to remember as we huddle around the television and pick apart red carpet fashion do’s and don’t this evening is that film has greater power than any one evening of pomp and circumstance can contain.  It sent me out of a theatre a screaming crying mess ready to write all that was wrong with the world.    That’s great shit.

Rosie.

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Unity Mobs and other side effects of xenophobia.

It was the 80s. Cyndi Lauper was reppin’ Cap’n Lou Albano hard.  The then WWF was in its golden age and was the happy ending to many children’s (and adults) Saturday morning brain freeze. There were the rivalries. Oh, the rivalries! Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Superfly Jimmy SnukaRandy “Macho Man” Savage vs. The Ultimate WarriorGeorge “The Animal” Steele vs. any turnbuckle he encountered. The rivalries that really made you lick your chops though … I’m talkin’ the ones that would unite the neighborhood bully with the lithe bookworm whose ass he’d just kicked the Friday afternoon before; were the USA vs. the “Evil Foreigner” grudge matches .  The USA would usually be represented by the Sergeant Slaughters or  The Hulk Hogans of the world. The  “Evil Foreigner” would be represented by some one like say, The Iron Sheik. The shit felt real as hell too. It felt like the world was going to end and evil would run rampant throughout the planet if Sergeant Slaughter got snared in The Sheik’s deadly Camel Clutch.

This sort of sentiment is not new and it echoes throughout American life. It’s like the US can’t find shit else to unite about except a tragedy reigned down upon our innocent souls by a real or imagined demonic boogie men (exclusively from somewhere else, because you can’t honest and for true be American and evil simultaneously) or our hatred of other countries/races because of their refusal to bow down to our natural superiority.  I don’t say this from an “above it all” place either.  I was sitting on my couch, crying uncontrollably, and singing God Bless America on September 12th 2001 like many other Americans. As far as I was concerned, on that day, “W” coulda rendered the entire middle east dust. The fact is, at that time,  that level of violence on American soil was extremely foreign, at least to my generation. It felt like a complete violation of who we were and something had to be done, right  then, right there,  no matter the cost. America … FUCK YEAH.

Over ten years of hindsight has removed the rose-colored glasses that allowed us to continue the view of America as “Police Officer of the World” … well  some of us anyway. Many now recognize that we  may need to sweep around our own proverbial front porches before we go about taking on the liberation and democratization of nations around the globe.  However, lately when it seems every week POTIS is headed to another American city to give a speech of condolence and empowerment, the Unity Mob mentality seems to have grown and mutated (with the help of social media of course) into this beastly caricature of stock American values that rages like a new pimple for about a week, but is salved by a healthy dose of baby KimYe coverage.

As horrible as I felt about what happened in Boston, I could not help but cringe while listening  to the post capture rhetoric that began to sound like Oscar speeches. It’s fantastic that they caught this guy alive, and that we’ll  hopefully be able to peek into the mind of people like him to find out why they carry out horrific attacks like the one at the marathon, but does there need to be an exaggerated sense of celebration in a major American city being on lock down (to the tune I’ve heard of $33 million a day?!)  There were Lock Down Parties.  Jesus M. H. Christ what does it all mean?

At this point, I’ve become a little unpatriotic to some, sacrilegious to others,  and probably both to Newt Gingrich who would probably call me an ungrateful black slut if I ever made it onto his radar, but I would really like to know where the extended man hunts are for the crime trodden streets of the inner city of Chicago? Do they  not occur because you can’t encapsulate the issues of the inner city into a neatly boxed media package that can be consumed and shat out in under  a week? Where are the Unity Mobs when our kids are being fed directly from schools into prison by a sub par education system? Where are the Unity Mobs when young black and latino teens are privy to being target by NYPD on a whim because the police have carte blanche to determine who “looks” like a criminal? Is it that these segments of America not worth getting fired up over to  the angry masses?

Or are they so busy warming up their typing fingers for the new big “it” tragedy? Maybe they’re somewhere wracking their brains trying to figure out where the dreadful folks who do this type of thing come from? Well I’ve got a theory. I believe they come from Us. Yes, the great old US of A that has been creating sociological problems and ignoring the repercussions since inception.  We made these monsters, and instead of chasing them down desperately trying to connect them to the “other” via religion or race, maybe we should be trying to figure out and take action to heal the parts of our system that is creating such beautiful minds with a propensity for death and destruction.

Rosie.

Martyr May I.

The conversation usually goes like this:

Person: Wow! Congrats on getting into NYU! That’s an incredible opportunity.

Stacey: Aww, Thank you. I’m really excited.

Person: Is your son going?

(Here, as we say in theatre, is a “beat”. The length of the “beat” usually depends on how many times I’d been asked that question within 48 hrs. The extent to which I go to explain my choice is directly proportional to the level of maternal guilt I’m feeling that day, but it all boils down to this:)

Stacey: No, He’s not going (… insert excessive rambling here as needed.)

(Next, the reaction. It varies and is typically some combination of: 1. A “beat”, some type of facial grimace, followed by an expulsion of air … usually from the mouth and then 2: Oh … )

Person: … who is he staying with?

Me: …my mom.

(Now, the conversation either ends here or rambles on in some awkward dance between my guilt and the other person’s judgement/the judgement I perceive them to have, then dies an even more awkward death in pregnant silence.)

This post is not an explanation of why my son will not be moving to New York with me. This post is about the fact that this question is always the first to be raised with mothers pursuing lofty goals.

I have watched my mother, and countless other mothers “sacrifice”, martyr their peace, happiness, and in some cases their physical existence for children who didn’t benefit one way or the other from said sacrifice. In some cases this “sacrifice” was ultimately the child’s downfall. Why? Because all that additional motherly love was enabling, that’s why. Mothers and specifically single mothers have for far too long worn the badge of the martyr, forfeiting any dreams or potential they had before they gave birth. It’s as if your goals and desires for yourself can’t exist in the same space as parenthood, or if they can, those goals and desires had better damn well be minimal and involve a papoose. (I just pictured my 5’8” 155lb 14 year-old strapped to me as I navigated Washington Square and died a little.)

Ye verily I say unto all the mothers who think they have to give up happiness and personal satisfactions in order to be a “good” mother … fuck all of that … in its entirety. I am a 37 year old woman with a lot of life left (hopefully), and a lot of shit I want to do. I love my son immensely and will not cease to handle my basic parental responsibilities, while also continuing to do everything within my power to guide him into a successful life. That, for me, is what parenthood is about. I refuse to give up my life as a testament to what a wonderful mother I am. I would rather live a full and purposeful life that can serve to inspire and empower my child into a better way of living. My pursuit of a full and purposeful life just happens to involve me being away from my kid for a while. This is not an ideal situation, but it is not Life’s job to serve up ideal situations. Besides, I’m pursuing graduate education for baby Jesus’s sake, not smoking crack. (Unfortunately, the latter in the eyes of some, seems to be a more acceptable reason for a maternal hiatus :/.)

Then there’s the shitty male/female double standard. If I were a father, even a single father, I don’t think anyone would give a second thought to me taking off to school or even better enlisting with the military and leaving my son with family. In fact, it’d be encouraged. This, in the eyes of some, makes a father joining the army, potentially being deployed to war, and killed a better choice than me, a mother, pursing higher education. I don’t blame fathers. Hell, I don’t even blame the people who ask me this question. It’s kind of just the way things are. We exist in a patriarchal society where the man goes out hunts the meat, clubs us over the head then …

Maybe you think I’ve written this assuage my guilty conscious and maybe you’re right. Maybe I don’t give a fuck* what anyone thinks. Maybe I do, but I shouldn’t because it’s my life. Square biz, I don’t know a parent who doesn’t have regrets about choices they’ve made raising their children. I know I will have regrets a plenty, possibly with the decision to leave him in Charlotte for two years topping the list. Time will inevitably reveal the decisions that will land my ass in a shitty nursing home per my son’s request. However, If I look at my parenting job so far I can honestly say the danger of me stewing in my own juices while medical staff is on break is pretty remote. All I can do is check with my gut, check with Sonny Jim, and pray for the best

Rosie.

*Please read the linked article ad nauseum. You will either become completely reckless, stop being afraid of what people think and live, or both. Shouts to KNKYTHT for sending it to me, it was the highlight of my week.

What faith ain’t.

I’m tired. I’m tired of pep talks. Anxiety attacks. Positive self talk vs. Negative self talk. Healing Mantras. Hard work.  Fits of crying. Fits of laughing. Fits of screaming. Fits.  Patience (yeah, I’m REAL tired of that bitch).

At an early age, I was sold the bullshit idea of faith being this thing that sagely folk sit stoically by and “have”.  They clasp their Bibles, Korans, Torahs, Self Help Books, Meditation beads or  whatever sacred possession they have and trust all nice and floaty like.

Well I want my fuckin’ money back, because faith ain’t none of that shit. If it is, it’s only that for a small section of people (e.g. The Pope, Deepak Chopra, Oprah, and Prince).  For the rest of us regular muphuckas , faith is a battle to the death between your needs, wants, and the “higher good”. That last item is a fuckin’ lu lu.  You never really know what the “higher good” until that one issue you were grappling with is ancient history.  Then you get the gift of “lessons” and “ones to grow on.” UGHK!

In the meantime you get to be utterly miserable … if you choose to. Right now, I can honestly say I’m choosing misery (it’s a subconscious choice … my default mode if you will). I’ll pull my head out of my ass momentarily only to reinsert it at a later date. Samsara? Purgatory? Limbo? Call it what you will, but I heard that even the almighty Billy Graham found himself in spiritual dilemmas so befuddling that he would lie prostrate on his bedroom floor for hours talking to Jesus.   (Wait … I haven’t tried that yet :/ )

Whatever the hell it is and whatever obstacles the task presents, I intend to keep the faith. As shitty as the process is at times I know the alternative, at least for me, is worse.

Rosie.

Give it away now.

Ever since this post and the circumstances surrounding it I have been or have made an earnest effort to be less attached to material things. I’ve found myself giving away earrings I once thought I could never part with or losing some other “treasured item” but being okay with it, sort of like the baby who gets their pacifier taken away, after a few days they’re fine.

Alas, I think my tolerance for letting go is wavering. After conceivably the worse weekend I ever spent in a hotel (there were children, there was screaming, there were ungodly bodily secretions), I lost two of my favorite bracelets. Grounded me would be okay with letting them go, accepting that these items had had their time in my life and it was now time for them to move on to the next owner. The thing is, I’m not grounded me, and I can’t get those two fucking bracelets out of my mind.

So I ask my self:

Q: Is it about the bracelets?

A: Not likely.  It’s really about how tossed I feel with this impending move, my son’s general unhappiness and the difficulties he’s having in school, and the feeling that I have zero control over anything that is happening in my life right now. The least I can do is hold on to the things I love, huh Universe? Are you even fucking listening at this point?!

But I digress …

I am not going to return to the hotel in a desperate search for my two favorite bracelets that were so fucking awesome and made noise when I clapped and it seemed like I had musical instruments with me everywhere I went and fuuuuuck!!!!

Re-digressing …

The reason I’m not going back is because I, at my foundation believe that I am going to live and more beautifully simple and musical jewelry will come into my life. It’s just that I need to live with the uncertainty of when and how this new jewelry will show up.

Q: Am I even  talking about jewelry at this point?

A: Not likely.

I just want this transition not to feel so fucking crazy or at the very least once again enjoy and be willing to do the things that I know help me feel better. So when my new jewelry shows up I’m ready to handle the abundance of its beauty and musicality, but be willing to let it go … all the way … if I need to.

– Selah

Rosie.

Rosie’s CIAA cautionary tale.

Let the record show that I have not, in the time that it has been hosted in our fair city, chosen to participate in the activities surrounding the  CIAA’s (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) annual tournament.  The reasons are varied, but not limited too: Hating crowds, Hating myself in crowds, Hating crowds of drunken black people , Hating crowds of pretentious black people, and MOST important – I hate being in crowds of black people who’d spend $75-100 on a day party, but who will hem and haw about financially supporting local programming for children. This year I waxed sentimental and decided to go because all the buzz seemed so exciting, that one party sounded like what the business is (it was dope as hell, I won’t lie) and I won’t be here next year … so what the hell, right?

The night started out well enough. I did somethings to ground myself in sanity (prayed, burned incense, listened to the ATLien’s album), then headed out to an event called Grits & Biscuits. All southern hip hop, all night. Yessir! After I had sufficiently twerked away my cares, I exited the party into a sea of half naked self proclaimed “bad bitches” and the men who loved/lusted/thirsted after them.

As awesome as all of that was, my friend Danielle and I were ready to go and process the levels of ratchet debauchery we’d just taken in over artery clogging food stuffs. We’d ran across a group who was in need of a jump and I was glad that I was able to be of assistance (being the ever faithful good Samaritan I am) with jumper cables I had in my car.  However … when I got to my car I realized … I was actually in need of jump, as my car wouldn’t start.  Things promptly went to hell from here.

With the help of two eager young gentlemen I get the car started again, and head out into the mean side streets surrounding the NC Music factory that at this point looks a lot like Juicy J‘s rendition of Kolkata. I’m visually overdosing on bare tri-fold midriffs and men doling out piggy back rides to colored girls who considered crawling with them rainbow pumps became too much, when … my car stops in the middle of the street. Just stops. Right in front of this dude who is drunk out of his fucking MIND and believes, somewhere in his delirium that my car has arrived to pick him up.

I, distracted and disgusted, could not process why this man was getting in my car, and before I could say two words, he was in there. CHILLIN’.

I’m like:  Sir … get out.

No response.

To add to the fun, his drunk friends get into the act,  facebooking  and tweeting videos of all the festive shenanigans as I sit, mouth agape, looking on. The good times were soon to get better, when the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department gets involved, those champions of justice.  They actually SWEAR that my new friend is actually my estranged boyfriend/hook up and that I need to attempt to manage the situation.

This is when drunk man in my car starts flexin …
… like he’s on Instagram
He’s angry now …

He’s all: Get the fuck off me yo! Get the fuck off me son!

I promptly exit the vehicle, cause I wanna live and shit. There are now 3-4 officers in a heated debate with the drunken gent in an attempt to get his drunk ass out of my car. The officers are STILL swearing I know said drunk and disorderly negro, a fact I adamantly deny. After realizing the real possibility that their friend/brother may be tased or shot they beg the police officers to let them remove him from my car.

Negotiations are successful, the drunkard exits my vehicle.

CMPD: Ma’am I’m gonna need you to get back in your vehicle and move along.

Fuck. My. Life., I think to myself and am surprised by my ability to remain calm (probably had to do with my own non-desire of being tased or shot) and tell the officers that the reason why I didn’t take off and drag the dude down the street when he attempted to get in my car in the first place was because it would. not. start. (SIGH).

The officers FINALLY realize that hey … she really didn’t know that guy, and wait, her car won’t start! That’s why she was in the middle of the road! They determine that they will  offer me the assistance I need to get to the side of the road when just then, a clutch of ratchet pussy decides that my predicament is funny …

“Aw sheet that bitch done ran outta gas!”

“Ha. Ha. She slippin’!”

I verbally abuse the shit out of them.
It was quite satisfying.

The rest of the evening, that did not end until 5:30 am, ended with little more event than: me coming to the aid of two scantily clad “bad bitches” whose phone was dead and ride “had done gone” by allowing them to sit in my dilapidated vehicle, and me thrice having to give a Charlotte based tow truck driver direction to a major Charlotte landmark.

The lesson: I’m not sure there is one. Just a lot of individual shit that could have happened on any other day happening to me at the same damn time.

To all CIAA in CLT visitors: I enjoyed you, now please … go home. ❤

Rosie.

*Warning: The preceding song should only be enjoyed in controlled environments and under the clear understanding that you are probably not now nor will you ever be a drug dealer that … enjoys … two “bad bitches” at the same damn time.

Wait … Am I Your “Magic Nig -ga -ger -roe”?!

Start here:

This, by the way, was and still is some of the most potent realness I’ve seen in a film. Ever.

Now on to the:

Magical Negro: The Magical Negro is typically but not always “in some way outwardly or inwardly disabled, either by discrimination, disability or social constraint,” often a janitor or prisoner.[7] He has no past; he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist.[8][9] He usually has some sort of magical power, “rather vaguely defined but not the sort of thing one typically encounters.”[8] He is patient and wise, often dispensing various words of wisdom, and is “closer to the earth.”[4]
-courtesy of Wikipedia

Now the post:

This morning as I  nodded in and out of post third shift consciousness, I perused the good old face space to see what the people in my virtual (and a few in my real) life were up to and I see friends of mine “liking” shit like this:

11520_10151305732995911_1096464547_n

and I’m like:

cropped-4-up-on-1-7-13-at-12-44-am-8.jpg

I pride myself in knowing and embracing a wide variety of people who represent varying racial and ethnic backgrounds, and political ideologies. It is, however, becoming increasingly difficult to understand how it is that people who I work and socialize with can be so unwavering in their “conservative” views,  “conservative” views that have them peeking through the curtains of racism, sexism, and classism’s bedroom window if not sitting in their living room, but still “love” me in the way they say they do. Then it hit me … am I filed away in the minds and hearts of these folk as not being one of those kinds of blacks?! Am I their “Magic Nig -ga -ger -roe” like the Magic Johnson’s, Prince’s, and Oprah’s that have come before me?!

I simply cannot understand how people who show me so much genuine love, concern, and camaraderie can co-sign policies and ideologies that are aimed square at the disenfranchisement of people just like me.  YES, as magical as a nig -ga -ger -roe as I may appear to be, I am or have been the 47% at some point in my life. Let’s check my qualifiers shall we?

Rosie’s top ten “those” people qualifiers

1. Grew up in low-income housing to …

2. A single mother who …

3. While working and during brief periods between children received food stamps.

4. I am a single mother who had a child …

5. Out of wedlock! O_O (no dead husband, no failed marriage [that came after the kid … and he wasn’t the father x_x] , just good old fashion fornication with no intention of extended dedication.)

6. I have immediate family members in jail (that I actually maintain contact with and love very much because contrary to what your “conservative” media outlets would have you believe, people don’t cease being human because are incarcerated! … take all the time you need to process that one.) hell I’ve even …

7. Been arrested! (no jail house tats though, but my street cred is up and that is GOOOD), Oh and I …

8. Don’t like working! (for other people, that is), and I …

9.  Have been on Medicaid as an adult (quite shamelessly, I paid into that shit for 12 years prior, what?! So know that when I was on it, you’re conservative dollar was technically still free willy), but worst of all I …

10.  Voted for Obama to ensure my continued leaching from the great America built by the Founding Fathers off the backs of my ForeFathers!

Again, take a moment, a day if you need to process.  There are more qualifiers, but those may bust your heart wide open and leave you with no hope for savage… I mean American minorities. Think I’m overreacting and “making it racial”? Stop and take a look at the “conservative” base and tell me what you see? I may be going out on a limb, but I think to some point I represent some type of saving grace to my conservative friends (who I actually love and accept despite what their views are). I am, I believe, in their eyes “a credit to my race.” I am well spoken, fairly well read, and goddamn it I make them laugh! What they don’t realize is that it’s not always comfortable for me to be the funny nig -ga -ger -roe. What they don’t realize  is that there are many times that their sweeping indictments of  people who “leach off the system”, or how their tax dollars are paying for this ones healthcare, or the cadence with which they say our president’s name … as if trying to scrape shit off their tongue, often leaves me hating their asses for brief intense periods.

But then I let it go, because my intense hatred will do nothing to elevate the their mind state about the broader reality of minority life, and it’ll run my blood pressure up which we know all black folks suffer with anyhow. So, I just try to live honestly as possible, calling “bullshit” when I see it … when I have the energy to do so,  and serving as an example of the many varieties of  “those people” who exists.  I know I seem angry, well fuck it, I am, but underneath this anger is a pressing need to be understood in the same ways I seek to understand.

If I can manage to separate the political ideology from the living breathing person that I know, then why is it that so damn hard for some to conceive of the fact that I might not be that magical. Maybe, just maybe, blacks and other minorities are not just some mass of bottom feeders that seek to drain an innocent America of all its xenophobic glory. Iono, one day it’ll all make sense I suppose. In the meantime, for those who are ready, consider this an open call to conversation. It’s a call that I will continue to make until I’m no longer able to speak. If we want change we can believe in, we have to believe we can change, and speak that change into existence.

Rosie.

Now go laugh at racism’s sting dammit!