Selma – 50 Years Later

Disappointed that plans to be in Selma, Alabama this morning fell through, I sit and watch the program on CNN. This may be a once in a lifetime occurrence to be in a reunion of the Civil Rights Movement that changed the face of this nation hosted by an African-American president. Usually I refer to our people as Black American as we all identify differently. In this case, however, our president is in fact half Kenyan! He is African American.

I am in part, surprised and relieved of his blatant admittance of the existence of America’s lingering racial issues. It is not a dead horse that we continue to beat. I am no criminal and never have been, but I feel as though I have experienced enough discrimination to know personally, that skin color is enough to get you in trouble. Over the last few years, with the publicized deaths of a few innocent blacks, I believe that the nation is becoming more aware as well.

I am glad too that he is discussing the personal responsibility of Black Americans to vote and make sure that our call for equal rights are met. As we grow more and more complacent with the  illusion of equality, actual equality start to slip back into nonexistence.

I have just as much patriotism as the next man, but it comes in a different form as I come from a different branch in our nation’s history.

Week 24 Recap

This month has led to a lot of additional learning for myself that I had not prepared for. So the accumulation of reading and exploration has put a squeeze on my time for sharing my perspective. Last week was great though. On Monday, February 16th, I discussed the issue of displaced location that some Black Americans still wrestle with. The fact that I am American and that I live in America is completely okay with me. The fact that the Black American has come into existence partly by rape (in my own personal lineage) is something that I am at peace with as well. I’m not happy about it, but it is who I am, and I accept it as a token of my stake in this country. Moving back to Africa would have been a reasonable solution during the more treacherous times of oppression. Now that life for us here can be lived conformably — despite nuances that could be worst somewhere else —I’m not leaving. This isn’t to say that I would NOT leave, but not under the reasoning that our ancestors are from there.

Wednesday, February 18, I wrote about my first time experience of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. I have been following the schedule of the show to see how soon will I be able to see it again, because I don’t think I can wait for it to come back to Atlanta next year. It was awesome. I hate that I had not seen it before, but I will not let it be the last. The cultural fusion of dance and song vaulted me through an online scavenger hunt of similar performances and songs. The album by Alvin Ailey, Revelations, has been on repeat while I have returned to Langston Hughes’ work, but this time discovering his work with music and Negro spirituals. Alvin Ailey has really set a standard for my year and has carved a whole new section into my perspective about proudly being a Black American.

Saturday, February 21st, I wrote about the feud that has set a divide to this day concerning the advancement of Black Americans; that is the feud between W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington. DuBois’ opinion of raising the majority by an elite minority is a great way of looking at the issue. If the concentrated focus of law and educating succeeds from the top, it would be an overnight open door of opportunities for the awaiting ninety percent of people. However, Washington’s view consisted of a gradual undercurrent of growth by the masses that would go unnoticed by whites that may disturb the movement. I respect both men and their views without question, and I feel that whatever side an individual may choose may simply be because of their personal perspective.

That’s everything that I covered last week, but I really feel as though I could go another week on the same three topics…

No, I’ll move on. Enjoy this week and help someone else enjoy theirs. Remember to keep an open perspective and share compassion.

And thanks for reading!  Whenever I see that a post from Perspective Park has been shared by a reader, I like to image that I saved a life… That’s just my perspective though!

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – Revelations

Recently, I had the pleasure of finally seeing the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform Revelations.

It was everything I thought it would be… except better.

Now it may be because I have a proclivity to dance that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Tap, ballet and modern dance have always been interest that I have had neither the time nor the courage (simultaneously) to explore. When I was younger and had the time, I had not the courage. Now that I am an adult and have the courage, I have not the time. So I have enjoyed the explanations of their histories primarily through documentaries and Youtube. 🙂

Like most other things I enjoy, I tried to find where dance most closely linked with the overall powerful sense of strength and unity within Black American culture. It started when I was younger watching Savion Glover on Sesame Street. As I grew I learned the history of our culture and our roles as entertainment to whites. It did put a damper on my interest a bit; but after growing even older and learning of systemic progress needed for people like Glover to exist, I took a second round of interest. By this time though, I had already committed to writing; feeling as though there was never any shame in the practice.

However, when I finally sat in my seat at the FOX Theater, I witnessed a display of art through dance that embodied Black history in a way that could be explained in the fashion that it was before me. Alvin Ailey’s Revelations reminded me of one of my favorite books called, The People Could Fly, by Virginia Hamilton. It is an advanced children’s book telling a tale of slavery through folklore passed down from generation to generation. The book was written in a way where you feel as though nothing was lost through reading it, as nothing would have been lost if you were listening to the story being told for the first time. That’s what I felt about Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. The dancers brought life to the music; the music gave life to their movements, and combined they gave me an experience that is nearly unmatched in my lifetime.

ailey_ii_in_alvin_ailey_s_revelations_photo_by_eduardo_patino_2-1

Was it something that I feel every Black American should put on their bucket list?

No. It did not shed light on anything we don’t already know.

Did it teach me anything from a Christian perspective?

No. Even though it was based in the Christian faith that our ancestors had, it did not enlighten my understanding any as we have advanced in our knowledge of the gospel since then. It depicted what their faith would have been like in that day, and stayed true to the time period.

So what was so special about it?

It was an overall experience. The music, the dancing and all around showmanship was nothing short of passionate perfection. Alvin Ailey shared his perspective of the hate stricken south perfectly through song and dance.

I would recommend any cultural or art enthusiast to go see it. I find it hard to believe that you would be disappointed. I would even recommend purchasing the album from iTunes just to hear the songs; you will not be disappointed. I’m looking for something to top that for 2015 — the bar has been set.

Week 23 Recap

There was a skip in February (as you might have noticed). Anytime I attempt to put together a schedule, it gets shaken apart. So unfortunately, I missed the end of the first week and all of the second.

However, I did  manage to squeeze out a couple on Saturday the 14th…

…to be completely honest, I didn’t have to squeeze them out.

I wrote Mediaheads in an attempt to explain how much we are constantly bombarded by media events that rarely do anything to benefit us — financially, mentally, or spiritually. There is virtually no benefit to what we spend so much of our time doing. While we admire other people’s success, we forget that they spend all of their time practicing to keep us entertained. In short, I realized that entertainment is a luxury. It doesn’t matter if it’s inexpensive or even free; it should still count as a luxury if I spend time on something that doesn’t add to my needed improvement.

I had been waiting to share the interview of Danny & Annie Perasa that I found while browsing NPR. I actually wanted to share as soon as I found it, but since it was so close to Valentine’s, I decided to wait. Their two-part interview covers their not-so-glamourous but love-filled 27-year marriage. It’s really a great story the was done by StoryCorps and was a perfect fit for a February 14th post.

I will be continuing the black history month schedule going forward. I hope that you all have a wonderful week showing compassion and and sharing perspectives.

This Kind of Valentine

I enjoy Valentine’s Day for what it represents — Love.

However, I enjoy real love; not just uncommitted lust repackaged as love. I’m talking about elementary school puppy love and old retired loved. Everything in between are either hormones or growing past the hard parts to get to the old love phase. It’s all part of the process, but who can resist the notion of love without flaws?

I was on NPR the other day and came across a story that was too good to pass up for Valentine’s Day.

Am I a sap? Maybe… But I think it would be awesome if people could make their relationship goals to match a couple like this. There’s no dollar amount on it or no fancy lifestyle attached. It’s the love that everyone say they want, but selfishness won’t allow. I thank God that I have examples that I can look at in real life, but this is a really sweet interview from a couple of 27 years. Hopefully you enjoy it as much as I did.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mediaheads

I scrolled past this picture on Facebook the other day. It was the first time in a long time that I had seen anything that actually made me think on social media.

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Do I agree with what this picture says? Yes, but it surpasses this month.

Black History Month is not the only thing that media targets. A majority of enjoying life has been subjected to media and how it interprets life for us. It actually speeds time up to the point where you can’t enjoy life for what you have — especially if it isn’t what you see in movies, on television and social media. That goes for whites and blacks and every month of the year… Not just February.

I believe a person’s level of success in anything will have some correlation in his/her ability to tune out unnecessary distractions in the world (or media). For me personally, I like sports. But I have  to realize that it’s hard from me to tell how fast time is going by because I’m living for the next game, series and championship. The NBA, NFL, MLB and NASCAR all profit from me; I profit nothing from them. These luxuries, must be enjoyed under strict regulations in order to attain spiritual, financial or any other personal growth. I call them luxuries because I can’t afford to entertain myself with someone else’s success.

In short, if you let these four events in the picture distract you from Black History Month, maybe you should reprioritize. If you let anything distract you from a goal, you should reprioritize. Life can pass by you regardless of your race and there are no shortages of distractions to keep it from happening. Set your own priorities.

Love Born into Slavery

February 4th, 1822 – Columbia, South Carolina

“You doin’ an awful lot of grinnin’ tonight, Jeremiah.”

“And I’ma keep on grinnin’.” Jeremiah grabbed his new wife by the waist and brought her close to him. “We been married now for forty-one days. Now what you thank about that?”

Sarah laughed and rested in the crevice of his labor sculpted chest. “You still countin the days, I see. Well it’s been the best forty-one days of my twenty-three years. Let’s get some supper and get to bed; it’s like the sun been risin’ earlier every mornin’.”

The two sat and enjoyed supper at the table Jeremiah had made himself. They had been so deep in each other’s thoughts that the sudden banging on the door startled them both to embarrassment. The bad thing about knocking in this hour is that rarely does anything good come from it. Jeremiah stood from the table and made his way to the door. He cautiously opened it and did not like the sight that stood before him.

“Evenin’, Masta Jamison.”

“Evenin’, Jeremiah.”

Jeremiah opened the door a bit wider and stepped out onto the porch of his small shack of a home. He looked to the left and right of his home to see if any others were with the master. His mind raced as he thought if he had done anything that would have called for a late-night beating — no; not since last year.

“What brang you down from the big house at this late hour, Boss?” Jeremiah asked, nervous of the response.

Mr. Jamison sucked in a gulp of air and started, “I need Sarah up at the house for a few chores.” There was a pause. “You know, since the lady of the house is gone to visit her mother.”

Jeremiah’s stomach turned in knots. He knew what that meant, and he could smell the liquor coming off of Jamison. “You mean to tell me that Sarah ain’t been doin’ her duties during the day, Masta Jamison?” he asked. “Since it’s late and she gettin’ ready for bed, I can come on ova’ and do whateva you need.” The attempt to deter the situation was obviously going nowhere, but Jeremiah had to try. There might be some change in heart that would spare them from such disgrace.

“Now these here are lady duties, Jeremiah. Just send Sarah on out and she’ll be back in about an hour.” The pause was longer and quieter than the first. “Boy, am I gonna have any trouble out of you tonight? If so, you about to get you and that lil’ nigga wife of yours a real bad lashin’!”

Jeremiah turned and went into the house. His wife was staring at him with hopeful eyes, welling with tears. “Sarah, Masta gonna need you up at the house for just a few minutes,” he said as assuredly as possible.

“I ain’t goin’ up there, Jeremiah,” she whimpered. “You remember what he did to that girl last year? He gonna do that to me, Jeremiah!”

“No he ain’t,” he responded. “One thang for sho; if you don’t go he likely gone beat you real bad, and I don’t wanna see you hurt, Sarah. If you go, he just might need the bathrooms cleaned or somethin’ small like that. It’ll be alright.” He kissed her on the forehead and walked her to the door.

**********

Hours later, Sarah gently walked back into the house. Jeremiah was sitting in his dinner chair in the middle of the floor. His hands held his head up as he sat slumped over, staring at the floor. Sarah came and sat on the floor in front of him. Her face was bruised and clothes were torn. He stared at his wife, and she stared back at him. Jeremiah stood up over her and went to bed without saying a single word. She cried until she fell asleep; right there on the floor.

As Jeremiah lay in the bed, he thought about his wife laying there on the floor. He had never learned to deal with any problems without use of force. It was all he had ever known. The only two people that had ever calmed him or had been able to get him to talk, was his mother and his best friend from years back — Sarah. Those were the only people he had ever trusted since his father and siblings were all sold away. He knew in his mind, that none of what had happened was Sarah’s fault, but he felt as though it was his. He thought that if there was anything ever worth dying for, it should have been that. He hated himself for not doing more. He hated himself for the fear that he let lead him and his wife into this situation. He wanted to tell her. He knew that if he did tell her, that they could heal together. But his disdain for the white man who had defiled his wife, caused him to be disgusted by the sight of her. His emotions for her were spread in every direction that his heart could reach. So he did nothing; he said nothing.

Sarah knew Jeremiah. She knew how he thought and why he though it. So she did nothing; she said nothing. He needed time and space. After it was noticeable that she was pregnant, he said to her at supper, “I’m running away to Charleston. It’s a free man, named Denmark Vesey, talking about starting a revolt.”

“Don’t go, Jeremiah,” she said as tears ran down her face. “I’m pregnant and I’m scared.” With those words, Jeremiah saw that he still had a duty to serve as a man and as her husband. He had not been degraded to uselessness, though he had felt as such the whole time. He got up and rushed to Sarah and hugged her like he had wanted to on the night she returned from the big house.

**********

On day three-hundred and two of their marriage, Sarah gave birth to a beautiful chocolate baby girl. Their relief was immeasurable to say the least. Jeremiah thanked his wife for asking him to stay. If he had fled, he would have surely been caught and killed, and he would have missed out on seeing this little girl. Sarah thanked him for being the man that he was, making things work for them, and not just him.

They both thanked God for what they had, and for keeping them from worse; and prayed that one day their baby would see better days.

Week 21 Intro

Well it’s finally February. It’s ever so fitting that this month started on a Sunday, which gives me an even four weeks to cover the some selected topics surrounding Black History and Culture. I remember saying in one of my earliest blog posts that I would rather not limit a lot of my writing within the confines of race. I would rather blog about the my personal perspective of the world on a much wider spectrum. However, since making that statement, I realize that much of my perspective is simply a counter of the world’s perspective of me.

This month I will center all my posts around black history, culture, a few of my key people in history and an imaginative explanation for some of the conditions — positive and negative — of black people in America today. As of now, I have a format for the month that allows for Recaps on Sundays, culture topics on Mondays, my creative perspectives (short short stories) on Wednesdays, and my key people on Fridays. Now for those of you that follow my blog, you already know that it’s difficult for me to strictly stick to a schedule. Sometimes bigger issues come up, and I might want to address something on a Tuesday. I may want to switch days for different topics or whatever; so I never write up a strict schedule to follow. As you can see, this Intro was supposed to be done yesterday; I apologize for that. I’m finishing up my post for tonight though, that way I will not be behind.

When it comes to the recap, last week I posted “Nearsighted Point-of-View”. I tried to explain the reasons for why I am as optimistic as I am, and how and why I think we should practice spreading it to everyone we come into contact with. I also briefly went over reasons why this practice would not work for everyone in every situation. In a nutshell, it’s just a detailed explanation of another Christian way to love.

Show some compassion, spread some love and enjoy your week!

Week 19 Recap

This week actually ended on an uphill slope. Most weeks, I would have been worn down by the daily struggles that I have admittedly and ignorantly accepted as life, that the recap is best post of the week. I’m not ashamed of it though. Going forward, I will be scheduling a block of time to actually unwind. It may be daily, every other day or half of a Saturday or something. I’ll sort that out this week so that I’ll have it in effect by February (I already have the whole month of February scheduled; excited about that.)

Tuesday, January 20, I took an educational field trip to the movies to watch Selma. I had plans on writing a review of the portrayal of struggles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his supporting cast to get the Voting Rights Act passed via the marches in Selma, Alabama. Well, I went and saw the movie, but the review did not go as planned. I have an incredibly hard time sitting through depictions of the struggles of slavery or the Civil Rights Movement; so until Tuesday night, I never did. However, I’m glad I gave it a watch. It was an excellent, realistic and accurate reenactment of the movement. The directors, actors and casting crew were all excellent. My review turned out to be just a screen shot of the notes that I took during the movie. That was something new for me — sharing notes — because I really did not have the mental strength to go in depth about the film. Those are the types of emotions that I can’t just close off when I feel like it, so from the start of the movie until I went to bed, the emotions flowed… and you ended up with a screen shot of halfwitted notes. I laughed when I read back over them the next day.

Wednesday, January 21, I literally had to battle all day to find my regular optimistic mode of thinking. The day went on on and on without an upside, until I had finished Blogging vs. Journaling. It was something that I had taken a couple notes on and never got around to. Since I needed an easy write, that I needed not put a lot of new thought into, I pull it from my notebook and posted it. It was basically about how blogging can easily turn into journaling even if that had not been the initial purpose for which you created it. Since my blog started as a medium to share cultural relevance the way that I — a young black Christian male in the south of the United States — see it, some things will naturally take on a journalistic style. I have to make sure that it falls within the guidelines of relevance that I’ve set though and be sure not to vent, because that’s not not my point. My point is to share, encourage and make aware that there are people who fall outside of the stereotypes, but still being very very much engrossed in the culture. So basically, my blogging is about being me, and journaling is whining about being me… and I’m not a whiner. 🙂

Yesterday, January 23, I wrote I Was Looking For Me; I Found Black. This was basically about the path that I took through 2014 to become a better person to make way for a better future. In doing so, I neglected the parts of me that the rest of society sees first; and that’s being black. Honestly, as strange as it might sound, I became so focused on me, and what I needed to do, and me me me, that I actually forgot that by simply being black, all of those plans could be taken away from me just as fast as I could think them up. It was the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases that reminded me. “I could be killed for no reason at all, forgotten and my killer could go on living with no justice being served. If it could happen to one black man, it could happen to me. If it could happen to any man, it could happen to me.” This was my realization that I needed to adjust me re-identification process to include someone other than myself. We live for each other; living any other way is selfish and is not Christ-like.

I look forward to the rest of 2015, but I’m really looking forward to February. I know, you’re probably tired of hearing about February, but I can’t help it. I’m getting a lot off my chest and a lot of barriers are coming down next month. It’s nothing bad or extreme, but I’m a person of conservative nature; at first. The more comfortable I get with anything or anybody, I’m actually one of the most liberal. So when it comes to blogging, I’m reaching the point where I’m okay saying some things that I dared not say in the beginning.

With that being said, I hope you have a very enjoyable week sharing perspectives, showing compassion and spreading your love. I know it’s not always easy; trust me I know… But any other way is just not as fulfilling. 🙂

Blogging vs. Journaling

Brother: What’s up Red? I just read Country Guy, City Life; I think that was favorite post so far.

Me: Really? That one didn’t seem to go over well.

Brother: Well I can kinda see why though. I think I liked it because I know Atlanta, Alabama, and you. It was really personal. More than likely if someone reads that one, they’ll be thinking, “Why would I leave Atlanta to go to Alabama.”

Me: Ahhh… Gotcha. Didn’t see it like that.

When I first started this blog, I quickly realized that blogging could easily turn into journaling. That is not what intended to do. In fact, that’s my biggest issue with a bulk of social media activity — “Who cares?!” is what I ask when I scroll past a check-in, relationship update or a picture of your dinner. Of course you will post random pics of you and yours friends and spouses at different locations and festivities, but I should not be able to account for nearly every waking moment of your day. Some parts of your life should remain exclusive, and not just the emotional death that over-posting is sometimes used to mask.

However, after I started blogging, I felt as though I had found a social media that works for me; one that would be a bit more difficult for me to critique. There had been many occasions where I had scrapped an essay because it did not meet the criteria that I had set for the purpose of the blog. If it doesn’t share a constructive outlook on life, or concerning something of literary relevance, or even the occasional comedic relief, I deny it. So when I received this criticism from my brother who is currently attending college in New York, it forced me to reevaluate the post. As he explained it to me, “The students up here know very little about Alabama, but Atlanta is way more popular than you might expect… And besides, they don’t know that 99% percent of our family resides in Alabama. It’s a really personal post, bro.”

When I went back and read the post, I could tell that most of it came from the frustrations of my own monotony combined with the pageantries that are city life. It was something the was written predominately personal emotion that pertained only to me and the way that I was feeling at the time. I had, metaphorically speaking, posted my dinner to Facebook. That should be a testament to the subtleness of blogging though. It’s a very relaxing (and productive to a career writer) way to keep the wheels of creativity going, while networking and learning through others. But if sight is ever lost of your purpose, you can begin to treat your blog like the ever trusted pages of a diary and forgetting the presence of an audience. And you know what happens next? You’re a weirdo with a webpage, that’s what happens.

Kidding…

If your blog is not meant to be personal, it takes a bit of diligence to ensure that it doesn’t happen. It’s another curve that I had to learn and I think that it would be unfair for me recognize something and not share to others who may fall for the same thing. I read a few blogs from beginners like myself to see where, I could improve and I found that it is not to uncommon to see the patterns of posting something that lacks relevancy. Then on the other hand, the blogs that are in fact more personal to the author are usually exceptionally good. That is just too much exposure for me. Like I described in Writing and Schizophrenia, sometimes the person in real life, is not ready to be shared with the online world of strangers. It’s a fear that most writers share — but if you ever want to get over it, start blogging.