The Benediction: Love is Love

ImageI’m not a fan of marriage in general.  I did it once, for all the wrong reasons like so many people who refuse to admit so. I think the institution has become as trite and jaded as “the American Dream“, chock full of false expectations, superficial wants and desires that have little or nothing to do with the happiness of the people who are lassoed into filing the papers. So why, you might ask, am I taking the time to write about marriage equality? Two reasons: First, the ability of a person to marry whomever  you want is basic as hell. For real … why are we even having to debate this bullshit in court, America? I mean don’t we have bigger fish to fry? It is truly embarrassing that we as a nation are having to take to go to court to argue something that is a private matter between individuals with the contrasting arguments being just as bigoted as the counter arguments to the abolition of slavery, integration, interracial marriage, and women’s reproductive rights (wait … we’re STILL talking about that shit too. UGHK … America, just fucking UGHK.) I won’t get into the white male privilege of it all or the presumption that America is an exclusively “Christian Nation“, but I will say that if certain believers in the “America of Our  Forefathers” don’t pull their heads out of their asses, it’s going to be a loooong decade or so … for them anyway.

Now to my second reason. In the same way a person can be spiritual and hate religion, I believe with my whole heart in love and don’t believe that marriage is  requisite for a lifetime of loving another person. One of the first times I’ve been stuck dumb by the love I witnessed within a relationship, was one where the couple was of the same sex.

It was roughly 2 am in the morning and this woman came in through the emergency room sicker than hell. She had pneumonia and was so weak that she could barely do anything for herself.  While I was assessing her, her partner who’d been parking the car came in. She quietly moved to the opposite side of the bed from me and took her hand.  I was just about to stick the sick woman for blood when she sneezed. I froze immediately, to keep from sticking myself or the patient, and looked up to see her partner cleaning snot from her face and clothing without even flinching.  She was caring for her with a look on her face that reflected pure love. Sounds sappy, but it was as if I were supposed to see it.  In that moment something inside of me said “that’s what I want”, “that’s how I want to be loved by another human being.” Those two women were in that thing together for better or worse, and if a love like that can’t be confirmed through marriage then the whole institution should be outlawed.  It has been years since this incident, but I never forgot it or how it affected me.

This past weekend I had the honor of attending the wedding of my friend Séan and his now husband Christopher.  It was my first gay wedding, and I have to say that it was one of the most simple and sweet ceremonies I’d ever attended. Words of love and encouragement were exchanged between family and friends .. like any wedding. There were jitters, blunders, and late arrivals …  like any wedding. And I, of course, bawled like a complete idiot … like I would do at any wedding. As the debauchery and merriment of the weekend unfolded, I found myself wishing that human beings in their infinite pursuit of control and understanding wouldn’t insist on making others miserable along the way.  Love can’t be defined by a court case or really anything rational, if I look at my own life as an example.  Love just is.

Rosie.

Vote, and shut the fuck up. Please.

ImageOn the eve of this evening’s final Presidential debate, it has become painfully obvious to me that I’m over it.  All over it.  Social networking battles to the death containing little or no semblance of truth, the ending of friendships over comment strings all serves to do what exactly?  Send you to bed pissed off, or worse, out into the world pissed off looking for a release.  Here’s a little bit of insight that hit me the other day. Voting is a very self-centered thing. Our current democratic system plays on every fear, real or imagined, that we have THEN asks our paranoid, self-obsessed crazy asses to go out and select someone to lead the entire nation.  We go, and we vote our own needs and rarely the needs of others.  If you say that’s not true then you’re lying to someone you should never lie to … you.

I know I’m not going to vote in a way that may necessarily benefit a rich corporation more than it’s going to benefit my poor black artist ass.  Why would I? It’d be self-defeating.  Are there solutions that would be mutually beneficial to all American citizens?  Hell, probably.  But, that’s not what I’m here to write about.  I mainly just want to say that the odds of anyone’s minds being changed by endless online banter and diatribes, t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. are slim to fuckin’ none. So hush.  Go do something more productive, like volunteering and being as selfless as you are with your vote.

Me?  I’m plotting my campaign for 2016. Since world domination is clearly just one rageful tweet away. Governing an entire country can’t be that damn hard.

Rosie.

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.

Black Mom’s Burden.

I am the mother of an intelligent, articulate, talented rambunctious 13-year-old boy.  As a mother my natural expectation, barring any unexpected illness or accidents, is that I will see him grow, get his heart broken, break hearts, learn to drive, graduate high school, go to college, start a career, get married, raise a family, raise children … in short my son should bury me; not vice versa.  An inconvenient truth in these great United States is that as a black mother of a black son there are other things I have to factor in like:

1. Getting him through a public school system that does not instill in him any cultural sense of self and within which I have to do battle to ensure he receives the basic knowledge he needs to survive adulthood.

2. Teaching him the realities of institutionalized racism.

3.  Keeping him out of the back of a cop car.

4. Preparing him  for the reality that he may end up in one any way because he “fit the description.”

5. Keeping him ALIVE in a society where black boys like Trayvon Martin can be murdered simply because he fit the fear based convoluted description in someone’s head.

… and this is the short list.  I have to fight this fight within a society that refuses to acknowledge any of it or either chooses to lay the blame at the feet of the “black community” and its “leaders”, whoever the hell that homogenous group of folks might be; this society that views the election of a black president as a “game over” for racism, all the while ignoring the rise of neo-racism in the form of “ultra conservatism” that has resulted from that election.

One foot in front of the other, one day at a time; I’m am raising a self sufficient, independently thinking black male that can not only be a productive member of society, but who can also be a vital asset to any community he chooses to be a part of. I pull from as many resources as I can to make sure he gets what he needs. I do everything in my power to instill in him a base sense of morality. Damn it, I am doing my part. It is so fucked up and utterly frustrating that I cannot rely on the society within which I live to do its.

No matter how  hard we as black moms of black sons try it seems we’re still behind the eight-ball. It’s the reality of our situation, but it is by no means a reason to sit in victimhood.  We have to continue, along side our men and any others who would chose to be a part of the solution, to engage and empower our boys. We can only hope and pray that one day society will catch on.

During our ride to school chat yesterday I asked my son how he felt about it all. Unfortunately this type of racism did not shock him. What did bother him, and me for that matter, is the rising level of “anger” and threatened violence surrounding the situation.  To use his words, “What is fighting gonna do? If they wanna get angry and do something there are plenty of other things they could do besides fight somebody.” So true.  I cannot begin to fathom life without my son. Today, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin have to.  They have my deepest sympathies.

Rosie.

 

Beware Ye The Ghetto

Question, where the hell does the concept of poor innocent white folks wandering into the ghetto only to be raped and otherwise pillaged come from? I, being a ghetto connoisseur having been born and raised in one, am highly confused by this. Mainly because in the 20 years that I did live in the ghetto not once do I remember any innocent white folk wandering into our hood being violated in anyway. Notice I said innocent white folk. Even if some Mary in search of her lamb did end up in my humble hood, at most she may have been heckled or propositioned for the sale of cocaine or marijuana (which was the main reason white folk would show up in our hood.) It … bothers? Me that this myth is perpetuated so often by people who know little or shit about ghetto people outside of what they see on television or in completely biased films.

My mom began work at 16 and at 42 was fortunate enough to be able to retire with pension even!  She was one of the first group of blacks even allowed at that time to work for New Jersey Bell.  My mother is proud, wants the best for her children, and has always—ALWAYS worked her ass off so we could have what we wanted, even when we didn’t deserve it. Yes, my mom was a ghetto mom. The typed often not mentioned when the ghetto is being trashed.

Nikki Giovanni once wrote (and I paraphrase) that she hoped no white person ever had cause to write about her unfortunate upbringing, as she grew up quite happy.  I echo her sentiments. Overall, my childhood in the Pioneer Homes was a happy one. We as a commuity were a family that defied convention while overcoming unbelievable obstacles on a daily basis. We laughed harder, played harder, cried harder, and fought harder than anyone I knew outside that world.

It was definitely not an ideal existence, and not one I would recommend raising children in, but it was mine. I have no shame about where I come from only gratitude for having survived it. I didn’t just survive either, I thrived! There are so many of us that grew up in the projects that I’m from that are living tremendously successful lives. I guess it’s like Tupac’s rose that grew from concrete. To get the best ghetto flowers, you gotta get through a lot of shit.

As to Microsoft’s patent on “Ghetto Avoidance”  software, which was the stimulus for the above on tangent rant, Fuck ‘Em. Perpetuating stereotypes while simultaneous taking advantage of the butt of those stereotypes, is the way of corporate America. Alack. Alack. To those who would seek refuge in such software, I’ll leave  you with this stirring bit of verbage brought to you by Naughty By Nature:

“If you ain’t never been to the ghetto, don’t ever come to the ghetto, cause you wouldn’t understand the ghetto, so stay the fuck out the ghetto.”-Treach “Ghetto Bastard”

Rosie.