Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Roots Revisited

Book 1
One Year Reading ChallengeCategory: A book over 500+ pages


I thought I'd get one of the hard ones out of the way.
I chose Roots by Alex Haley, the co-author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, because I already owned the 888 page book. That didn't matter, I bought the Kindle version on the third day because I couldn't continue carrying that book around.

Roots is a novel loosely based on the lineage of Alex Haley. It follows his ancestors from free Africans in Africa to unwilling voyagers on inhumane slave ships to slavery in America then (so-called) freedom in America after the Civil War.

We all know that black people are resilient and strong because we have survived all the horrible conditions put before us. If you didn't know, now you know. So I wrecked my brain trying to come up with an original gleaning perspective for this post and decided to focus on the end of the book.

I can imagine how happy Alex Haley's family was when they were first granted freedom. It opened a whole new world to them. Their patriarch, Chicken George convinced his wife, children, and grandchildren and a few other recently freed slaves and white indentured servants to travel to Tennessee where blacks and whites were developing a new town together.  
When they got settled in their new town, one of Alex Haley's ancestors, Tom was the most sought after blacksmith around. His services were so much in demand, Tom decided to open his own blacksmith shop in town.  But when some of the white residents got wind of it, they approached him and told him he could not own his own shop. A white man would have to own the shop and he would have to work for him.
He was so angry when presented with this, he was going to take his family and find a place where he was wanted but after he cooled down, he decided to turn his wagon into a mobile blacksmith shop so he could go directly to the people. Eventually, he did open his own shop after he became so endeared to the community.
Tom must have felt so hopeless at the moment the white settlers told him what he couldn't do. Finally, his family had reached freedom and it seemed to be taken from right under them. That resiliency I talked about earlier kicked in coupled with ingenuity to find a way or make one.
I felt that hopelessness while I read Tom's story. Much like the hopelessness many African American men feel in this country today because the police in their community that are supposed to serve and protect them are killing them without any repercussions.
But just as Tom found a way by making one, African American men and women are still resilient and we still have the strength of our ancestors to build on to do the same in our current situations.

This Christian's Response to The Book of Mormon (the play)

I'm offended.
I am an open-minded person. I love satire. I can relate to some of Bill Maher's views on Christianity but this play, this play. . .  took it too far.  
I've always wanted to see it  and was so excited when I learned it was coming to Birmingham. The BFF sponsored this outing based on my word alone. She didn't know what she was getting into and apparently, I didn't either.
My understanding of the play was that former members of the Mormon Church decided to get together to make fun of its inconsistent parts. I thought I could trust the creators because they were affiliated with the play, Avenue Q which I loved.
In The Book of Mormon, a new group of missionaries are paired up and sent to mission fields all over the world. The play focused on the pair that were assigned to Uganda in Africa and their hardships trying to baptize the natives.
The play turned out to be an indictment of religion, period. It grouped the Mormon church with the "regular" Christian Church that asserts Jesus is God's son who came to save mankind. In the play, the Bible was explained as really a "trilogy" instead a collection of the Old and New Testament.  The actual Mormon church advertised the real Book of Mormon in the playbill ("The book is always better").
Offense #1- The Ugandans greeted the missionaries with a song in their native language that translated to F* You, God complete with a dance move that included the middle finger. I find it hard to believe this to be remotely true. Africans are a spiritual people. Even though they may not believe in the same god, they do believe in a higher power.
Offense #2- Jesus masturbating. Need I say more?
There were a few shocking but funny parts including an appearance from Johnny Cochran in Mormon hell and God reconsidering his initial declaration that dark skin is evil and a curse.
Nevertheless, this play seems like it was created by a people with no hope. I mean, are they not a little afraid of getting struck by lightening? Its like they were constantly stepping on live power lines as if they were blocks on the yellow brick road.
You may feel that religion is silly and it is just a hodgepodge of fairy tales, campfire stories with Hobbits and Star Trek episodes, but have some respect for the people in your life who do believe.
My oldest nephew never believed in Santa Claus but he knew not to go to school broadcasting it as to ruining it for the other kids. . .and his grandma.
Please grant us that same common courtesy.

Monday, February 16, 2015

No More B*tches

Within the last 12 months, I've written many blog posts about my relationship struggles with rap music. In "Green Eyes," I talked about feeling convicted at a Goodie Mob concert held in an old church while chanting, "put some fire on the a** in of that weed." How Many B*tches dealt with my hatred of the "B" word but overlooking its usage in my favorite artists' songs.  Then A Trip Down Miracle Lane detailed the lengths God went through to keep me from going to the much anticipated Outkast ATLast concert.
All summer long, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to stop listening to rap music. I was like, "Okay, I'll pray about that." It was nothing to pray about! I had already received my directive but I continued to listen to my old school hip hop playlist on my iPod and Pandora anyway. See, I don't listen to this trash on the radio today. I marveled at how lyricists wove words together like Ms. Lauryn Hill on Mystery of Iniquity- "Teaching ambition to support the family superstition." Ahh, its magical.

I've gone through stages in my life where I would throw away, give away, or sale all of my secular music only to buy it again a year or so later. I knew I needed to give it up. I'm not saying rap music is bad. I'm saying that God doesn't want ME listening to it. I mean, I can quote a song lyric to fit any situation. I need to be more in love with His word rather than the words of Andre 3000, Mos Def, and Cee Lo Green before he pursued his pop dreams.

So the day of the Outkast concert, I was discharged from the hospital at exactly 5:00p.m., the time the gates opened at Centennial Park. Never mind, the paramedics cut up my good jeans and I had to walk out of the hospital in a hospital gown and tennis shoes. I could've still made it to that concert but my sister-in-law insisted on taking me back to Birmingham that night.

My cell phone with all my music on it fell out somewhere on HWY 285 and someone blessed themselves with my iPod because I know I saw it in my car after the accident.

We make things so difficult when it can be so simple. No More B*tches for me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

In Love and Admiration

You are one of the strongest women I know. It amazes me how organized and efficient you are. I remember you working all day, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, preparing for the next day and still having time to relax and watch The Cosby Show, A Different World then New York Undercover.
My father adores you. He has told me on many occasions that you are one classy, dignified, and loyal lady. You should have seen him at your bedside, day and night, during your long hospital stay. He brought you roses and got all dressed up to brighten your day. He held your hand while you were hooked up to all of those tubes. It was sickening when you had me sending selfies back and forth- you in your hospital bed and him at dialysis.

As the Bible states in Proverbs 31, "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." . . ."Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. . . "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her." You all have been through things that would destroy a family but you all have grown stronger and closer through the fight.

I remember the silky caftans you used to wear around the house and the Black History school projects you used to do for us. Yes, you have a quick tongue, sarcastic humor and a wealth of good comeback lines. You are the only one I know who can work gustabo in everyday conversation and have family members question their intelligence because you keep beating them in "Words with Friends." Thank you for spelling my name with one "L." 

You keep your stash of M&Ms in your nightstand, out of my father's sight. The cold candy war you have with him is hilarious. He bought different kinds of candy and placed them in pretty clear containers on the entertainment center in your bedroom to tempt you- your favorites like lemon drops and orange slices. Visitors be warned, do not touch this candy because my dad has glued them together  to tease my mother.
I'm glad to have parents that still like each other after over 40 years! I love you, Liz and Jimmie.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Trip Down Miracle Lane

I've had some crazy things happening in my life lately so I haven't been blogging much. 

It all started with this one event.

Friday September 26, 2014, I left home at 4:00a.m. headed to Atlanta, GA for the Outkast ATLast concert. Reportedly, this would be their last tour together; no more Big Boi and Andre. Of course, I had to attend this monumental event in American Hip Hop history.

Trying to get to my sister-in-law's house before she left for work, I didn't want to run into any incidentals (like a traffic accident) so I left at the crack of dawn. No one was going to prevent me from being at the gates of Centennial Park promptly at 5:00p.m.

I had already run into some challenges earlier in the week. Stupidly, I left my car keys in the ignition overnight and my battery died. Several people tried to help me revive it to no avail; I had to get a new battery. I jokingly posted on Facebook that maybe Jesus didn't want me to go to the Outkast concert. Oh, I was going to that concert even if I had to rent a car but I was able to get my car out of the shop the day before the concert.

Five miles away from my sister-in-law's house, something terrible happened. I don't know what caused me to swerve off the road; all I remember is stark darkness. I frantically tried to get control of the car. My first thought was "I can get this under control." Then my second thought was "Is this the way I'm going to die?"

I didn't feel the car land in the grassy area separating I-285 southbound from I-285 northbound. The car landed right side up and I was able to open the door with no problem. Two good Samaritans, one male and one female, pulled over to see about me. They explained I hit a guard rail and my car rolled over in the air. Praise God, no other cars or people were involved! The male good Samaritan pointed out that my left hand was bleeding but I was too busy staring in awe at my legs. I couldn't believe they weren't broken! I dislocated my knee once just walking slowly down the hall at church! I searched frantically for my cell phone but I didn't find it. I guess it is somewhere on I-285 but thankfully my glasses sat delicately on the passenger side floor.

When I arrived at Grady Hospital (just minutes away from Centennial Park, I'm just saying), I asked them to run every test imaginable and not to worry, I had good insurance. Repeatedly, nurses, paramedics, police officers asked me where I was headed. None of them knew who Outkast was! Most people in Atlanta are not from Atlanta.

There was no damage done- no broken bones, no traumatic brain injury, and no internal injuries. Hallelujah! I WALKED away from that accident with just a cut on my hand, a bump on my forehead and soreness from the seat belt.  God is amazing!!

I was released from the hospital exactly at 5:00p.m. eastern standard time. . .

Friday, February 6, 2015

Dream Catcher

I believe God speaks to me in dreams. Yet, I often have weird dreams so I don’t know which ones to pay attention to and which ones to ignore. For example, I had a dream that I was driving down Highway 78 with Def Jam artist, Joe Budden. He stops the car abruptly and is ejected from the car. At the same time, Russell Simmons was driving towards us from the opposite direction. I woke up. What am I supposed to do with that? Email Def Jam? So, I would put this dream in the category of ignore.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a reoccurring dream about being stuck in a room with the hamburgler. More recently, I’ve had an incessant dream where I fear telling my parents I’m flunking out of college when I graduated 11 years ago!
Over the summer, I had two dreams. In one, I’m driving and I lose sight of the dark windy road. I can’t see where I’m going but finally I come to a lighted area where I can see my way again. In my second dream, I’m driving down a pitch black road and can’t see anything. All of a sudden, I fall down a cliff- going down, down, down. It seemed endless. I woke up before I landed on anything. I put this dream in the category of crazy but I ended up having a terrible car accident on September 26.
Are dreams cautionary warnings? Can/will the outcome change if we take heed to them?
Some of my dreams have proven to be prophetic for me and other people in my life. I didn’t tell a particular person about a dream I had about them until it came true 2 years later. They asked me why didn’t I tell them when I had the dream. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t know what to think of it and even if I mentioned it, would the outcome change?
How do you feel about dreams?
Share your crazy dreams in the comments so I'll know I'm not alone!