#Selma50: To The Bridge

This past Saturday, I watched on CNN as Obama spoke at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. I was glad just to be watching the events unfold live. The longer I watched, the prouder I felt to be culturally connected to the many struggles that have been overcome by the efforts of black men like Martin Luther King and Hosea Williams; producing President Barack Obama.

As I watched, I questioned (as I often do) the time, thought and energy that I put into educating myself on race issues and attempting to bring awareness to them as I see necessary. It seems that so much was done during the eras of slavery and segregation that there is nothing left to fight for. There is plenty though; as long as lives are being lost there is plenty to fight for. The tricky part now is finding out what angles to fight the injustices from as most of them are covered by laws riddled with loopholes (i.e., The Stand-Your-Ground law).

There is enough for me to fight for and still make a difference; even if it is just in my community. Besides, the fight for Civil Justice, could soon turn into a fight for Religious Rights — this could be practice.

Sunday morning, I headed to Selma with a tank full of gas, a heart full of pride and a very inquisitive little sister.

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On the way, we got more and more anxious with every road sign marked for Selma. The traffic was thick, but flowed smoothly. We saw license plates from all over the country, but being an Alabama native gave me game an attitude to want to welcome everyone else to the state. There was no horn-blowing, no fighting for parking spaces (even though there were none), and everyone seemed to know everyone. I found myself in conversation multiple times with people that I had never even seen before; yet I cannot call them strangers. The theoretical sense of unity that I often speak of was present there; all of our differences were overlooked by perspective, compassion and love.

When I first laid eyes on the Edmund Pettus Bridge from five blocks away, I took it as the sight of our Statue of Liberty. It was beautiful, and I could not wait to get to it (neither did the thousands of other people there).
IMG_6988As I read the name, Edmund Pettus, stretching across top of the bridge, I saw an awful name, that represented an awful person, and should remind us of an awful past. Instead we took that awful person’s name and monument and made it a symbol of equality and freedom that is now more closely related to our triumph than our bondage.

My march across that bridge represent more to me than I realize yet. I am still taking in the fact that I was there for such an event in history. I believe as time goes on, I will be able to build from what I experienced on the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama.

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.

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.

Week 14 Recap

It’s four days until Christmas and about ten days until the New Year — which I am very excited about. For now though, I will just focus on what I wrote this week.

On Monday, December 15, I actually wrote a piece of poetry. I didn’t intend to though. I was in a bit of a creative mood while writing something else. So when my pen ran out of ink, it gave me an excuse to stop what I was originally writing and do something a bit more… useless. I enjoyed it though. “Words” was just an expansion on what could have happened if I had tried forced my pen to write. Even though it is kind of farfetched that a splotch of ink could spell out anything, you can’t judge my imagination (maybe my style; but not my imagination). It also released a bit of pressure off the poetry valve. Since I have been blogging, I have complained about my discontentment with my poetic skills, even though I write a great deal of it. Maybe next year I will exhibit more personal writing in that area.

I also found out that the editing functions in WordPress did not allow me to double-space between stanzas. That was kind of a bummer, because I wanted it to be clear that there were five three-line stanzas in front of you instead of whatever else it could have been interpreted as. I am still unsure if it is the theme that I am using or not, but I am soon to find out.

On Wednesday, December 17, I wrote about the pros and cons of city life versus the lifestyle offered by my hometown in Alabama. Having grown up in Atlanta, I never thought that I would see the day when I would even fathom of wanting to permanently reside somewhere else. Maybe that is a change that comes with age, familiarity, or simply wanting to explore more. Nonetheless, the rural quiet ways and family accessibility is drawing a distinct line between what I thought I wanted and what I may really want — even if it is just for a temporary change of speeds.

No matter what city you live in, I wish you all the merriest of Christmases this week. Remember that this is a season for giving just as well as receiving. No matter what happens, keep and open perspective and show compassion during this holiday season, and I guarantee it will brighten the spirits.

Country Guy, City Life

The fact that I cannot occupy two places at once is a disappointing reality that I accept simply because it’s impossible. The next best alternative to my problem is relocating to face extensive travel times and gas prices.

So what problem would one be facing for these to be possible solutions? The problem is not knowing whether you prefer the peacefulness of rural living or the constant and ever-changing days of city life.

I grew up in inner city Atlanta. I went to school in downtown Atlanta. I attended Georgia State in downtown Atlanta. I am currently employed in downtown Atlanta. Atlanta is all I know; and I have loved every moment of it. I can honestly say that there is always something happening, there is always something going on, and there is never a dull moment. Is it a New York City? No, but the city is always buzzing. There is always something to be seen and someone to be heard. Something is always changing, so there is always something new to do. As the city grows, I never feel a need for more. No one I know, not even the most inquisitive and adventurous people have discovered all of Atlanta. No one has done all there is to do. No one has eaten at all the hot spots or relaxed at all the cool spots. Everywhere is within thirty minutes (max) of the next destination and each destination leads to another. The city is small in size, but is condensed with activities, changes and life. It never gets boring.

However, even though is does not get boring, it think it does get tired. There are instances when you need a break from it. For me, that is when I get thrown into a decision of which is better. I am originally from Phenix City, Alabama, where my mothers whole family (for the most part) still reside. My father is from the next town over — Seale, Alabama — where his parents still live. It is quiet and homely. Out-of-towners stick out like sore thumbs and when I have gone to the local grocer, I have been asked, “You must be a Richardson?” There are no strangers except the ones passing through vacationing in Florida. I love it. It’s quiet and quaint. To me, the quality of life now seems to have a direct correlation with the busyness around you and the amount of visible vegetation. The days are brighter and the nights are darker. The clouds are whiter and the stars are brighter. It is a relief every time I go, and every time I go, it gets harder and harder to come back to the city that I have loved my entire life.

After thinking about it for a while, I think I came up with the reason that the city life may be losing its grip on me. I think it is because of the slow but steady loss of culture that is spreading across Atlanta. I’m not saying that there is not a culture here, but it is a new culture that is replacing what the heritage and history of Atlanta. I came to this when I thought about this when I was  considering my favorite part of Atlanta; Historic West End, Cabbagetown, and Little Five Points/Grant Park areas. Even though these are popular areas, they all have historic and symbolic places to offer. These were hubs for Civil Rights movements, places of historic interest and when you are in either, there is a sense of history the rests there. There are stories behind certain buildings and sites that may not mean much to anywhere else, but to Atlanta, it means a great deal.

For example, a few months ago, Friendship Baptist Church and Mt. Vernon Baptist church were both bought by the city so that the land could be used for the building of the new Atlanta Stadium and future home of the Atlanta Falcons. Friendship Baptist Church is the oldest African-American church in Atlanta being organized in 1866. Morehouse and Spelman colleges were both started with some of their first classes being held in the basement of that church. That is the type of culture that I am talking about. Whether the city forced them to sell or they did on their own, the deal is done now. Cities attract money; money is capital; and in capitalism, everything has a price tag — even history. As different historical sites are lost amidst the city growing in entertainment and cosmopolitan attractions, more of the original feel of what Atlanta used to be is being lost.

The parts of me that enjoy naps on the porch surrounded by quiet greeneries grow more and more every time I think about where I intend to live out the rest of my life. The commutes do not seems as long. The loss of urban adventures do not seem that great. The beckonings of my family to move “closer to home” does not help either. Lord knows I love the country life and everything about it, but I never thought it could compete with living in Atlanta.