Some Natural Disasters are not so Natural, but Vodou (Spirit) will Prevail

Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end. Cant’ no one know at sunset if the next day will be here. In this world of trouble and wars a member must be ready to go. We look forward to things to save us but in a twinkling of an eye everything can be changed. Troubles of this world feel our heart with wage from Soweto to Stonewall, Birmingham to LA. We searching for hope that lie within ourselves as we fight against misogyny, racism, hatred, and pain. Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end. Cant’ no one know at sunset if the next day will be here**

—Sweet Honey in the Rock, Spiritual

I begin this post with a song written by Sweet Honey in the Rock because its title and lyrics invoke Spirit and Spirits. Furthermore, the song weeps and wails not only of troubles, but of justice, “justice that rolls down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” It lets us know that the way of the world is not as predetermined as governments, private contractors, and multinational corporations believe it to be because Spirit and Spirits “can change some things” as the old people say. So, as we stand on the eve of remembering not only Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all the Spirits that joined the movement for freedom in the US, I write this blog to acknowledge the power of Spirit and Spirits to deal with the injustices of what has happened and continue to happen in the country of Haiti.

This week I’ve read many articles and blogs about the devastation and abject poverty in Haiti and how international loan agencies and governments like the US (i.e. World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) have benefited greatly by keeping Haiti in debt. I’ve seen Christian fundamentalist like Pat Robertson say vicious anti-Christ love statements like, “[ the earthquake is] a blessing in disguise . . . [Haiti] made a pact with the Devil in order to liberate themselves from French rule [therefore they deserve what is happening].” Oh, this sounds very familiar to his statements about Hurricane Katrina. Furthermore, I’ve watched as CNN’s pundits contort their mouths and faces to convey the inevitability of rioting and looting saying with Hurricane Katrina’s conviction, “We heard gun shots.” In addition to all of this, I’ve read some of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism and I’m left feeling completely hopeless about the long-term fate of Haiti being left vulnerable to the free market’s social experiments. Yes, my heart grieves.

But, as the song says, “Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end. Can’t no one know at sunset if the next day will be here,” there is hope because there is Spirit and Spirits. For me Spirit and Spirits represent faith-based practices/rituals, spiritualities, religions, justice, transformative collective action, community, Love, and all the things that have “brought us this far a mighty long way” as my Sunday school teacher would say. Spirit and Spirits are the things that allow me to wake up each morning with a renewed belief that the world can change and that I have the ability to change the world.

And for some people of Haiti Vodou is their Spirit and it also was their collective frame for mobilizing against French enslavement and other forms of oppression. Though I am not fully familiar with the practice of Vodou, I do understand the power of believing in something bigger then yourself and something that embodies community, love, and justice. I know I am sounding a little sermonic, but my intent is not to preach. I just need to know that there is something more than greed, capitalism, and hegemonic power structuring the world and the only place I can surmise where this may be the case is in the Spirit and within the Spirits of people. It is in the faith-based, spiritual, and communal practices that preach love, justice, and community that challenge us to envision and create a world of collective peace.

Ugandan Updates and LGBT Progress…in some sense

Set Backs vs Progress

This past week the president of Uganda gave a statement that made many happy, but didn’t bring much gratification to my life. I’m not one that likes to accept the lesser of two evils. When people ask me if I would prefer to be hot or cold, I tell them neither, I want to be comfortable. I don’t like to compromise, point blank. (some say this is something I need to work on, but I gave up my aspirations to be a politician a long time, but hey, who knows what can happen).

The Ugandan President fed into international tensions and decided to oppose the new legislation. President Museveni announced that the gay-genocide bill is too “harsh” and just this week attempted to convince the National Resistance Movement Party to reverse the death sentence section of the law.

So time to party right? Sing a little kum-ba-ya, hold hands in peace and harmony because now their president isn’t going to kill the gays…right?obama_gay

Well, before we start the celebration of dancing through the hills and rainbows too early, lets examine other parts of the bill and understand that the president only slightly encouraged legislators to remove the “death penalty” from the gay-genocide bill. So at the very least, we can stop calling it gay-genocide, and begin to call it, gay-life-imprisonment! In the proposed bill, there is a section that states “anyone convicted of a homosexual act, which includes touching someone of the same sex with the intent of committing a homosexual act, would face life imprisonment.”

I'm Going Pro

“It’s all about the U”. Growing up in South Florida I heard this chant all the time, especially between the months of August and January. For those of you who don’t speak “college football”, the “U” is a reference to the University of Miami. During the late 80’s, early 90’s, and early 2000’s they were a college football dynasty. As a kid, I vividly recall listening to Trick Daddy’s “Take It To Da House” while watching Edgerrin James run down the sidelines for one of his many touchdowns as a Hurricane. University of Miami football was not just a powerhouse program, it was the epicenter of my universe during my middle school years.

During my little league football days I dreamt of suiting up in the orange and green and breaking every NCAA rushing record. I eventually grew up and realized that God had called me to do other things, but my love for that program never waned. A few weeks ago I watched Billy Corben’s documentary the “U” on Espn. Corben, a Miami filmmaker, had already won many awards for his documentary “Cocaine Cowboys”- a film about how the cocaine trade changed the culture of South Florida. Not only was I pumped to see a film about my favorite college team, I was excited that the rest of the United States was going to learn about how “The U” invented swagger. Surprisingly, after I finished watching the film I had mixed emotions.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdjCUrNM7jo&feature=related

January 4, 2010 – January 10, 2010

County gives Los Angeles International Charter High School a second chance
Mitchell Landsberg, LA Times, January 10, 2010

Closing the Gap: Hamden seeks to boost minority test scores
Ann DeMatteo, New Haven Register, January 10, 2010

Gainesville group’s awards honor King’s legacy
Dante Lima, The Gainesville Sun, January 9, 2010

High school graduation rates rise in D.C.
Bill Turque, Washington Post Staff Writer, January 9, 2010

Big Brothers Big Sisters & African American Fraternities Enter Mentoring Month with Action Plan to Help Black
Boys Succeed, PR Newswire, WKBT Philidelphia, January 8, 2010

The Identity Thing
Christine M. Flowers, Philadelphia Daily News, January 8, 2010

Christian Author Shares Journey from Poverty and Pain to Prosperity to Encourage Inner-City Youth to ‘Dream Big’
Jordan Media Group, Christian Newswire, January 7, 2010

Q&A with Morgan Park Academy’s Jerricka Boone
Chris Murphy, Chicago Sun Times, January 7, 2010

MLK Day to focus on Girard College
Vernon Clark, The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 7, 2010

Michigan’s black/white male education gap is worst in nation
Joe Serwach, University of Michigan News Service, January 6, 2010

At Admission Possible, she’s a coach but also a role model
Elizabeth Sias, Pioneer Press, January 6, 2010

South: First U.S. region with majority low income and minority students
Maureen Downey, Atlanta Journal Constitution, January 6, 2010

Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities
Tamar Lewin, New York Times, January 6, 2010

Letters: Police officer: It was 20/20 justice
Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Daily News, January 5, 2010

Four Blair High graduates team up to succeed at college
Seema Mehta, LA Times, January 4, 2010

Today in Post-Race History: What I (Had) Meant to Say Was…

There are 3 things my Grandma Charlotte used to tell me all the time:  1. That books are my friends; 2. That she is always right–even when she’s wrong (she’s right); and 3. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.  I remembered that last point when I heard about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s comments about then-candidate Obama.  If the extent of Reid’s comments were what I read in the HuffPo article about the book, Game Change, the interview appears in, then I’m really not all that mad at Senator Reid.  In fact, I agree with him.  He’s only in hot water because we need a dose of (racial) honesty.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid apologized on Saturday for saying the race of Barack Obama – whom he described as a “light skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one” – would help rather than hurt his eventual presidential bid.

Um, this is racist?  Let’s take it point by point.

The police need to teach corporations like the NBA

(response to “NBA needs to teach guys like Arenas”)

In the early hours of the Arenas debacle—the post-suspension one, commentators took to the airwaves, blogs, and news sites to talk about what changes the NBA would need to make, to not only teach Gilbert Arenas a lesson, but to teach all the other boys in the league as well—not in my house! According to Jason Whitlock, Fox Sports resident turncoat, what “they” need is education. They being the “children from highly dysfunctional families and boys raised to be replacement husbands by single mothers.” As an aside, Whitlock represents the growing post-Imus trend of black people say racist, ahem, conservative things for white conglomerates to lessen protest possibility. Please don’t drink the kool-aid.

Of course, I’m not defending Arenas. 90040591RM025_Washington_WiI’m only saying there is little difference between his actions and those of a disgruntled USPS employee who takes weapons to their place of employment to solve petty intra-office disputes. And just like the USPS worker, he should be fired. All work places need rules and all transgressions need to be met with not only punishment, but with changes that will directly prevent them from occurring again. Thus, Whitlock’s idea to raise the league age requirement to 21 years of age after a near-30 year old player acts out is ludicrous. Let’s try and stay on point. Install metal detectors in the locker room, ban gambling on work property (as did Flip Saunders after the incident)—do the things you would do to foster a safe work environment in any other place of employment.

The First Step is Acknowledgement: I Have Class Privilege

Aloha . . . Mahalo . . . Hula . . . Hana Hou . . . are a few Hawaiian words I’ve learned this week while visiting Hawaii. You know, I think Hawaii is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen with its luscious green mountains and its sparkling blue beaches. There is something special about this place that makes me want to be less troll-like to people who attempt to break my camel’s back or who attempt to pull my last nerve. Indeed, Hawaii is a special place. Perhaps, it has something to do with the bounty of green vegetation that encircles the island. And given that I grew up in an inner city, went to school in an inner city, and probably will die in an inner city, seeing the abundance of fauna and flora is simultaneously breathtaking and a little disturbing as well.

Breathtaking for all the reasons listed above. But disturbing because I seem to be allergic to Mother Nature and of course I have capitalism, pollution, and chemically enriched foods to thank for all of this. Furthermore, seeing all the vegetation and the beauty of Hawaii is equally unsettling because it reminds me of how privileged I am and how many in my immediate biological family will never be able to visit the land of Hawaii because they do not have the funds and/or time to do so.

Yep, you’ve guessed it this blog is not about Hawaii per se, but more about my inner turmoil with dealing with my increasing class privilege. I know the phrase “inner turmoil” seems a tad bit dramatic, but it’s the best phrase I can conjure up to use while struggling with jet lag. Also, Hawaii is a metaphor for talking about privilege. Well, even though my going to Hawaii was based on my services of being a part-time grad school nanny. It still feels like a privileged state because I did not have to pay for anything. Furthermore, the child was extremely well-behaved and I had an abundance of time to explore Hawaii. So, to say the least I felt inner turmoil about being in Hawaii when so many in my family struggles to keep their heads above water.

Recently, my mother told me she and my two younger siblings will have to move yet again because of a faulty housing agreement. This will make the fifth time they have moved in the last five years. Of course, my mother told me not to worry about her because she’s a hustler, but I can’t stop worrying about her and the need for my younger brother and sister to have a stable place to lay their heads. In addition to this, my older sister is continuously in and out of the hospital because her insurance–which she got only a year ago after working at the job for two years–does not provide her with the best doctors to ensure correct diagnoses. And these examples of hardships are just the tip of the iceberg.

In response to me telling people I have “inner turmoil” about my class privilege, they say, “Well, you’ve made the right decisions in life. You’ve worked hard in school and so you deserve to have.” There is something unsavory about their response because they assume I’ve made the right decisions at every moment of my life and that if you make one bad decision than you are forever doomed to be poor living pay check to pay check.

Hate The Fags…Just Don’t Kill Them? WTF

uganda protest

They said it would make my life better. They said I would find my “purpose.” It was my 8th grade school year. My pastor said I should read this book that would change my life. The name of the book was A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. It’s always interesting to reflect back to my pre-teen life and think about the different things I was involved in. Some of my childhood experiences were amazing and shaped who I am today, other experiences—like buying Rick Warren’s book—are just embarrassing. I was reading a book by one of the most divisive and homophobic/anti-gay men in America, at 13.

The author of the very same book, seven years later is now in the limelight being accused of supporting the Uganda Anti-Homosexual Legislation Bill. Proposed on the 13th of October 2009 by Member of Parliament David Bahati, the Bill would criminalize key aspects of comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention education and imprison health-care workers who refuse to report sexually active gay patients to the police. rainbow ugandaIf enacted, it would also broaden the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda, including introducing the death penalty for HIV positive people who have previous convictions, instituting extradition for those engaging in same-sex sexual relations outside Uganda, and penalizing individuals, companies, or media organizations who support LGBT rights.