My ‘fro is bent out of shape…

Ok, so I am now officially in the blogisphere. I understand this blog habit helps with getting ideas out into the world, sharing funny stories and antidotes, or spreading important or not so important information to the world. There, however, must be a fine line between getting some thoughts off of ones chest (writing as therapy) and putting all of one’s business  “in the streets.” This is because one does not want ones partner to read a blog that is public and seeing a some craziness that just happened to you and realizing that your privacy was violated. The other possibility is to be sued for slander, but I am not worried about that, mostly the former.

So, I planned on going to my first Zumba class. I had been planning this all week, done my research, found the class that was taught by a good friend of mine and everything  (I do realize that I am a little late with the exercise trends, but I mean well). I am setting aside the fact that I have a really painful heel situation (also known as plantar fasciitis) that gives me great pain in my right foot, but my hubby has been away for a week and I have not been to the gym that entire time. Well, the time came, I showered, dressed, nursed the baby and was out the door with a whopping 5 minutes to get to the studio…and I could not find my money. I mean anywhere! Where I thought it was, where it should have been or where it was supposed to be, I could not find it! Then I yelled at my hubby (who was taking all the children to the park to  meet with friends) for no damn reason and realized it was not him, but it was simply because I am never by myself. Oh, I sneak out to go grocery shopping and when I can be motivated I go to the gym for an hour, but the reality of most of my summer days have been that there is usually someone either attached at the breast, climbing on my lap or just on me in some way (and I am not talking about my husband in this case). I am suffering from no ME time. And no ME time is a direct result in me not TAKING that time. I find everything else to do but what I need, ME time.

Oh I remember the pedicures and manicures I used to get. The random moments where I would skip into TJ Maxx and buy something just because it was on sale. Spend a small fortune (usually a credit card) to get my ‘fro done. Or other frivolous things I used to do in my spare time (which I don’t know about anymore). Oh yes, I would meet my “sisterfriends” for drinks from time to time (multiple times a week). And I have moved to many different states over my many years in graduate school , so these adventures of self happened all over the place. I was broke, but somehow always found a way to do ME. Well, I thought I would always be that selfish only child, but it turned out that I am not your typical only child, but the one who takes care of everyone before herself (and that is really not gangst(h)er). I look up some days and its like 1pm and I haven’t eaten yet, but I have fed folks in my house at least two times (sometimes including snacks). How does a diva fall so quickly. I got married in 2005 (just celebrated my 6th wedding anniversary) and I have been pregnant, nursing or almost pregnant that entire time, hmmmn?

I am not mad at anyone, I am wondering what happened and when. Was it from early on or was it just recent? I got married and let that little gansta girl calm down to a slight poof. (what the hell is a poof, sorry).

So, there it is, I just need to straighten my ‘fro, calm down, and find a way to bring it all together. Brush down the hairs that are standing up on my back and shoulders (a metaphor) sitting up straight, wipe the tears away and just wait until I can get to that Zumba class on a different day, without scrambling and rushing and being all crazed about it. Enjoy my little hours that I steal away and realize that I have to TAKE it if I want it, I cannot expect anyone (especially not my cute little children) to understand. And my husband does not read minds, sooo – if one is to be gangst(h)er for real, one has to pick one’s ‘fro out extra high and comb the curls out and let the hair speak for you. Either that or just let the fully forked out ‘fro scare folks – either way, I’m trying to get that gangst(h)er swag back in that extra ordinary way!

blog out…

“Lest we forget…

Celebrating 23 August, the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

“By its decision to proclaim 23 August each year as the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, UNESCO sought to pay tribute to the tireless struggle of the slaves for their freedom.”

Return to Gorée: Remembrance of the Slave Trade and of its Abolition

© Kakemonos
Poster ” Journée internationale du souvenir de la traite négrière et de son abolition” Gorée

UNESCO-BREDA, in collaboration with the Senegalese National Commission for UNESCO and other institutional partners commemorates, on 23 August 2011, the International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and of its Abolition, within the framework of the International Year for People of African Descent.
The event taking place at the symbolic site of the Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye socio-cultural Centre in Goree, is to inscribe the slave trade and slavery in the memory of all peoples.

A conference-debate on the educational dimension of the slave trade, cultural interactions and human rights, will be held at the Centre, along with an exhibition of paintings and photographs on the Slave Trade, slavery and intercultural dialogue.

Also planned at the Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye socio-cultural Centre are:

– exhibition of UNESCO publications (and others) on the slave trade, with the BREDA Documentation Center;
– screening of the documentary produced by the UNESCO Slave Route project “Slave Routes: A Global Vision”;
– Cultural and artistic animation by groups such as “Hopes of the suburbs” and “Acoustic Law” Angelique Dione.

This commemoration will be chaired by the Minister of Education, Mr. Diallo Khalidou.

 

Details

Type of Event Category 7-Seminar and Workshop
Start 23.08.2011 10:00 local time
End 23.08.2011 15:00 local time
Responsible Dakar
UNESCO Responsible Ndombi, Christian
Country Senegal
City Gorée
Venue Centre socio-culturel Boubacar Joseph NDIAYE à Gorée
Contact Christian Ndombi/c.ndombi@unesco.org
Themes Dialogue and Reconciliation, Intercultural Dialogue, Cultural Tourism, Cultural Diversity
Language of Event French

August 23 is a day or moment that I take seriously. I find that as I turn my head outward and look to the world, I often see a recognition of the struggles and triumphs of African people and their descendents. This is the stuff that I want my children to experience. We have folks across the globe and I want them to visit and experience life outside of this particular form of “democracy” in the United States.  Although I appreciate being and American and my ancestors were here before Columbus or pilgrims, I understand that the African experience is a global phenomenon.  Just the other night as I was getting my daily dose of Nollywood greatness, I realized that even though I understand very little Yoruba (language), I can always understand the situation by the shared ways we communicate, express thoughts and feelings, physically move and react to particular situations. These are very real connections and as a scholar of the African Diaspora, these glimpses always make me smile.  To see things that are so familiar that they move beyond language (and as an anthropologist, I do realize that the importance of language!). I am not making an essentializing argument, however the reality is that as a self-proclaimed “strategic essentialist,” I understand the universailities of Blackness even in the realm of entertainment. At moments like these I appreciate my global family and want to celebrate and remember what it is that makes me who I am and what it is that will aid my children in becoming global citizens in the future. Here is to those Egun (ancestors) that came before. Who loved, toiled, sacrifices so that generations of Diasporas such as myself can live and reflect on a blog on the internet.

Egun, E se O!

Chocolate Breast Milk: A Review of The Help (via Phillis Remastered)

I know there is much talk, but I most admit, that I have yet to see this movie or read this book. I am just a little tired of the basic message, the genre and tired of the fact that it won’t go away. Here’s to the women who fought hard to tell a story – they were not mentioned in this book.

Chocolate Breast Milk: A Review of The Help Warning: this review contains LOTS of spoilers.:-) —- In 1923, the Virginia chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy enlisted the help of Senator John Williams of Mississippi to put forth a resolution to build a national monument dedicated to the Black Mammy. Several prominent leaders of the African American community, including Mary Church Terrell, rallied against the monument and it was never built. But by that time it was too late: … Read More

via Phillis Remastered

Return of the Gangst(h)er

I am not from the Bronx, the home of hip-hop, the subject of infamous movies such as Fort Apache and The Warriors, but honestly, I am not from the roughest of neighborhoods. The burned out Bronx happened between my mother’s childhood in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx and my childhood in Co-0p City located in the Northeast section.  My childhood circumstances were not dire or even close to be harsh. However, when I compared my past experiences (or should I say situations that I often crazily put myself in), they were very different from the world I entered when I continued on to graduate school.  As I sat in seminars and listened to people discussing these “inner city” folks and problems and issues about the underclass, I often felt alienated and put on display simultaneously.  This is a difficult quandary to be in. I felt as if someone had left the door open so to speak and I snuck into the lobby of the Ivory Tower, however, my ability to get in the elevator and go up to the top was another story (a scenario given to me by my “intellectual auntie” Michele Wallace).

So, here I was looking for my place in all of this and I searched, made some mistakes along the way, but essentially always had a different “take” on the analysis of most of my graduate school peers. I began to shape this intellectual awkwardness into a makeshift identity that I, until recently, really didn’t understand.  I mean the first time I wrote for a journal (not really a peer-reviewed one, but a journal that more than one or two people read – African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter – ADAN), my contribution was the only one without citations. Not because I didn’t cite anyone, but because I was speaking from the heart.  While at the College of William & Mary, trying to get my MA degree, my confidence was really quite low. I was under the impression that I would never be able to write with the fluid (and factual) ease of a real historian. I was characterized as the Affirmative Action experiment (they had recruited me at my Historically Black undergraduate institution – Virginia State University) that would probably survive, but never really be that rigorous scholar that was usually the product of the History Department.

I slinked through and the pieces of my identity began to form and then I went off to Texas. The University of Texas (Austin, that is).  It became my first foray into the world of anthropological thought, theory, methodology and hypocrisy. There my pieces took greater form.  My experiences there were conflictual.  They were positive and building and tearing down at the same time. I had the insulation of the African Diaspora Program in Anthropology (my saviour), but I still had to deal with the racism of the larger department of Anthropology. But that is another story, another entry for a later date.

Postdoc at Cornell University. The Africana Studies & Research Center! Wow! I really felt out of place when I got there, felt like I didn’t deserve this Ivy League opportunity, but I was there and stayed there for three years! I made it, my armor was beginning to get  a little wear, but it was starting to fit nicely. I could move in it with a little more ease.

And then my first  real job as a PhD person…my first book…and then the realization that although I thought I was building up my identity as a “sista scholar,” I was still invisible to my true self.  I needed my gangsta back. I needed my swag back.  This is a part of my larger life’s work, finding my own voice that is different (and not in a marketable way), but different in a way that is real to one of the main people I answer to – myself. So, this realism is what I call gangsta, not in the take what doesn’t belong to you sense, but gangsta in the sense that takes what should be mine intellectually – my own way of talking and walking and thinking and writing. Not to conform to that which is the academy, but that which is realistic to those who have never had the keys to the elevator (or the stairs for that matter), those who have considered academia, but felt it might be suicide, that is that gangsta for which I speak.

That gangsta has yet to really be perfected, I have a long way to go, however, I am beginning to recognize (like through my book), I gots to be about it, if I am going to make a difference and make that difference last.

In the immortal words of Outkast (with some changes):

“Return of the gangsta thanks ta’
them n.. that thank [think] you soft
and say y’all be gospel rappin’
but they be steady clappin’ when you talk about
bitches & switches & hoes & clothes & weed
let’s talk about time travelin’ rhyme javelin
somethin’ mind unravelin’ get down

Now, roll that up into a seminar…let’s do it….

I could have been a stripper…

 

I was on my way to the gym. Sitting in the car and listening to my favorite R & B/hip hop station from Hartford. You know the heavy rotation type where you can hear the same 8 songs at least twice while on any road trip. Well, on came Lil’ Wayne’s “How to Love.” And as crazy as it may seem, I felt an idea forming in my head, that idea and that train of thought was one of the main motivations for me starting a blog, I had to get this stuff out of my head, to do the other things I need to get done, like laundry or starting my pre-tenure review narrative!

Well, I got to thinking, there is such a proponerance of songs about strippers, praising strippers, categorizing women just having a good time and dancing as strippers, in other words – strippers are in abundance on the airwaves. I have wanted to write something about it for a while, but it wasn’t until that pre-gym moment and the “sensitive” nature of Lil’ Wayne’s homage to the complicated psyche of a stripper unable to speak.

Let me begin by saying that I respect the art of stripping. The ability to move and use your body in a way that can be beautiful, enticing, and let’s face it – it is something that we all are not born being able to do. So, I thought about the words in this song. I thought about self-esteem, I thought about those crooks that tried to steal my heart (adlib from Lil’ Wayne) as well as the idea of “You had moments that didn’t last forever/Now you in the corner tryna put it together.” Well, I am not in a corner, but it was because I had pressure from my Mom, my immediate and extended family to go down a different path. But I too was searching, growing up way too fast in the Northeast Bronx, trying to fulfill some antiquated B-girl (in the fly girl sense, not the break dancing sense) aesthetic. I wanted to be that girl from the ‘hood that was “discovered” by that ghetto knight in shining armor with either a music contract or a street pharmacy business.  To take me to a mythical place where all fly girls become wifey and live in the lap of luxury (or at least get some new earrings and a chain).

However, there were other plans for me. I didn’t take that route. I absorbed the environment around me, I understood my place, I was able to move between the world of my ‘hood and the expectations of my family and went on to college and beyond. Got a bunch of degrees and then landed a job at a state university in a quaint New England town. Married to an incredible man with three beautiful children…If I had thought about my life at almost 40 when I was struggling to find myslelf as a woman, I would have not seen myself today. The images that Lil’ Wayne sparked for me were much deeper than I expected, they reminded me about choices and the ability to decide where your life will take you. I am still processing all of what it stirred up in me, but for now, I do recognize that with a decision or two different, I too could have been in that corner tryna put it together…a stripper I could have been…

more to come…

Breaking the Blogging Cherry

Well, its been real. Staying in the background of the social media world. Too afraid to enter into the world of blogging in a tangible way. Yes, I created a blog through my University, and posted a total of three times in three years. The truth is, I wasn’t sure if I would have anything to say. Or if anyone would read it for that matter. However, after the third baby, the completion of the first book, my husbands transition from the life of an academic scientist to an entrepenuer has given me quite a lot to say. Plus, I am on leave and need to make sure I find an outlet for all of this Momminess mixed with intellectual queries about everything from why they play the songs they do on popular radio to why Marxist theory and class are often mutually exclusive from discussions of race and gender…and so we shall see how this goes, how long it lasts, and what type of ride it will be…onward.