Saturday, December 31, 2005

This is Just Sad

I did not write 100 posts this year. Well, I have in other places, but just not here on my blog.

I just wanted to post a quick howdy. I've been busy again--grading, working, shopping, visiting, and so I am just taking a quick breather before I fall into bed.

Tomorrow (technically today) is the end of the year. I can't say that this has been a terrible year for me. For others, it has been the pits. For me, it has been alright.

I had planned to post one of those end of the year round-ups, but the draft that I started is on a another computer. This might be one of those signs that I need a laptop or maybe a Blackberry like the rest of the modern world. My stationary home computer seems so 2003 (I think that's when I bought this). It was so revolutionary to get one of the first flat screens for the home it seems like I have the equivalent of charcoal and cave walls for communicating. Maybe next year I'll join the 21st century with a Blackberry.

I had a good Christmas. In NYC, we celebrate on Christmas Eve, so I spent most of Christmas day in my pajamas. I love days like that. I can forget the fact that I am an overstressed adult most days of the year and just pretend to be a kid. It helps that my mother-in-law likes to cater to us when we visit.

Well, I should sign off now because it is past my bedtime. Ciao!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

How Do I Know if I’m Really Black?

I could do a top ten list. I could stand next to someone and compare my skin tone and hair texture. I could look at my parents, the neighborhood where I grew up, and where I went to school. Or I could look in the mirror.

According to certain people, none of those actions matter if I don’t "keep it real", so depending who you ask, I am a suspicious case.

My people have a lot of issues regarding our collective self-image. We recognize that for the most part, black people are complex, just like white people. We are contradictory–we sometimes say one thing and mean something else entirely. We have strange relationships. We embrace our heritage, but then we sometimes run from it. We constantly strive to be more than how we are defined by the mainstream culture, yet we sometimes prefer those definitions in determining our comfort levels with each other. We abhor racism and discrimination, yet we also practice it.

So, just like white folks (and everybody else on the planet), we are human.

I initially planned to write about the drama taking place in Philly over the Eagles, but then I decided that the real conflict is not concentrated there, but it is anywhere black people live, work, play, worship, etc. This is a universal concern–who are we?

I’ve been upset by the forgiveness Terrell Owens has received from certain black leaders. I am offended by the criticism Donovan McNabb has received from some of the same folks. In our zeal to display "unity", we are quick to forgive some of our brethren for major transgressions, yet we are reluctant to understand others whose only sin is difference. This is the Colin Powell/Condoleeza Rice problem–these are the most powerful black people in the world, but we miss that because we are too busy hating on them for their political affiliation.

I harped on this same issue the other day when I railed against Christian intolerance. Black intolerance is equally troubling. As I read some of the blogs and message boards about the Philadelphia Story, they all reflect the internal conflicts we have concerning how blackness is defined. Must black always be the polar opposite of white? Are we so threatened by shades of gray that we must suppress it as soon as it appears?

Personally, I choose not to deal with such abstract concepts. I just want to be a good person. And many times, it is a lot harder to be good than to be black. Being black just is, while being good requires effort. How I express or represent myself is far more important to me. That's how I keep it real.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The War on Being Different

It sucks to be a person of color in some countries because the white majority might try to kill you for merely being accused of doing something wrong. Sound extreme? Well, it’s happening in Australia right now.

It sucks to be a woman because if something happens to piss you off, then someone (a man, perhaps) might accuse you of being too emotional. If you get angrier, then you are accused of not being tough. If you decide to change tactics, then you are accused of being spiteful and vindictive.

It sucks to be anything but an evangelical Christian this time of year, because only evangelicals can lay claim to the good tidings of the season. If you are not evangelical, or are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, etc., then you might as well have a scarlet “H” on your chest for heathen.

I am not white, male, nor am I an evangelical Christian, yet to be everything that I am—black, female, and a non-denominational progressive Christian is somehow offensive because I defy the “norm”.

I had no control over what I was born to be. My parents are black and the chromosome thing worked in favor of the girls’ team. But I can control my faith. Although I was born and baptized a Christian, I decided that after years of being told what to believe and how to practice those beliefs, I would finally think for myself. Then I rejected certain aspects of the ole time ‘ligion that was good enough for everybody else, so now I find myself out of the fold.

Oh well.

When did changing one’s mind become a crime? Isn’t this supposed to be a country that prides itself on religious freedom? Yet, if you say or do anything that is perceived to be contrary to “traditional values” then you might be hauled to the tribunal of public opinion and flogged for your transgressions.

It appears that the only way to be a good Christian these days is to agree wholeheartedly with George W. Bush. Or that the South was right all along. Or that people really need Hummers to carry all their stuff. Or that a city should erect a manger scene next to an inflatable Frosty the Snowman. Or that God should only bless America.

Cause if you don’t, then you’re headed straight to hell…in a hybrid car.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Loose Ends

My birthday was on Monday. I am now 32, so I can stop anticipating the worse. My life is not over, and God willing, I'll get to see 33.

There I said it. "God willing..."

That is one of those statements that scream "I've gotten old." My grandmothers said it. I'm sure that my grandfather said it, and I know that my late uncle said it too. One day, I'll torture my children by saying it all the time.

I spent my birthday at work. I have a temp gig downtown, and I can set my own schedule. I had initially intended to spend this week preparing for trial, but I thought better of that and decided to spend the time earning money. You see, at the beginning of the week, I was scheduled to be in trial today. As of yesterday, I was technically fired from the case. So, it appears that I made a good call.

The other thing I did on my birthday was to buy a cup of coffee and actually put money in the tip jar. I think that whole concept of a tip jar at what is essentially a fast food place is silly. All the coffee people do is fill a paper cup (esp. in my case, since I rarely order the designer joe). Why should I tip them for that? But it was my birthday, and I wanted to do something nice for someone else. The guy got a dollar. Now he can afford a cup of coffee too.

The other thing I did was get my nails done. That was a waste, because clearly, it takes very little skill to paint one's nails. But because it was my birthday, and I never get manicures, I thought it would be a nice change of pace. Well, she spent about 20 minutes on me and then she abandoned me for some busy chick who was getting a pedicure. I tipped four dollars, so now she can buy herself a nice cup of designer coffee.

And that was that. The hub and I had lunch together, and then later he cooked dinner for me. It was a pretty cool day.

I don't think that birthdays make that much sense. Why should people make a fuss about their birthdays when the day should really be all about our mothers, the ones whose hard work made the day possible? All I did was show up, cry and poop. My mother deserves a medal just for cleaning that sh** up. The only thing I manage to accomplish every 5th is to stay alive (and cry and poop).

That sounds very cynical. I've been in that kind of mood lately. And God willing, I'll be just as cynical about my 33rd birthday.