Special Love

Nah… Not that type of love. Not the kind that you have for a significant other and want to spend the rest of your life with.

I’m talking about special love.

No. Not the kind that loves the face that only a mother could love, because you may be the mother. Neither am I referring to the kind that loves a mother despite her flaws, because you may be her child.

I’m talking about SPECIAL love. There is a type of love that you have to develop for those that you have no intention, no desire, or no incentive to love. Read More »

Love While You Can

The most unfortunate thing about my mode of thinking is that every once in a while I have to turn and face what society forces me to accept as reality. On one of my trips back to what we call the “real world”, I realized that if the conditions under which we live continue in their current direction, the possibilities of growing peacefully to old age are slimming each passing day.

Pessimism is not my forte. However, being aware of factors that could effect my wellbeing is indeed my forte.Read More »

Week 26 Recap

With this week at a close, I’m going to attempt to give race issues a break for a while to cover some other stuff that I’ve been working on since before February. It is not that I have run out of topics on the issue, but because there is a lot more to my interests as a writer. I want to share, ask, and explore the blogging community as a writer too; and not just use it for bringing attention to what is the most obvious and overlooked problem in America. For example, I have seen more support and awareness driven towards the NCAA March Madness tournament than I saw for Black History during the month of February. I say that without any bias as I am a sports fan and black man. This also speaks to the profit-driven culture of our country. I am not complaining though; it is what it is, and all we can do is play our part in changing things for the better.

Last week though, I shared my experience in marching at the 50th Anniversary of the March at Selma. As pro-black as I am, I do not rush to every single event just because it bears the image of Black American rights or justice. I have to be thoroughly informed on the purpose of the event, organizers of the event, and whether or not I personally feel that it is for a just cause. Well, this march was to commemorate the pain and hardships that went into granting voting rights for Black Americans; a feat that changed the course of justice for our people from that point on. I had to be a part of it. I described as much as I could of it in #Selma50: To The Bridge. One part that I left out though was the exchange of money from black hands to other black hands. It was so refreshing to see our people spending money amongst ourselves via the hundreds of vendors there. I feel as though that is a major downfall within our communities — we spend the more money than any other people, but over 90% of that money goes outside of our own business. Seeing the unity among the people that day though gave me hope that things will get better. You can never lose hope; and if in fact you do lose it, you will have find it again if the cause is great enough.

Wednesday, March 12th, I wrote added another encounter to the Thirty Seconds Ago… series. I honestly thought I was done with that and considered removing it from the blog altogether. However, as long as I am me, weird stuff is bound to happen. I mean, weird stuff happens to everyone, but I seem take a large percentage of everyone else’s occurrences (keep in mind, to maintain a reasonable level of dignity, I do not share everything). Well, in Speechless, I described how I was saluted with the black power fist… by an Asian man. It was definitely a first; I had not even been greeted by another brother in that fashion. Interestingly enough, I heard that he was married to a black woman. I feel that I have a right to ask and confirm if you take into consideration the awkward place he put me in… I just haven’t figure out how to do it yet.

Me: Good afternoon.

He: ‘Sup.

Me: So… Married to black lady, huh?

He: …

That is all for now. I hope everyone had a great Monday, and hope that you have a great week going forward. Thank you for reading and being open to my perspectives as I try to make sense of the some of the unnecessary issues surrounding us all. Until next Sunday (or Monday), try to share perspectives, show compassion and spread the love.

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!

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.

Black and Hopeful

Earlier this week, I started writing about the status and progress of Black American men. I’m not even sure what prompted the thought at this point, but I wanted to know whether there was any chance of the improvement of black men. When I say improvement, I would like for that to refer to the mental condition of all of us as a whole; a healing of the social stigmas that we have been conditioned to live by. Considering the fact that it would take generations upon generations to reverse what generations upon generations have done, I settled for the idea of hoping for the change of how the Black American man is viewed. Even though, this would take long as well, I believe it would be a great start to a more permanent change within the minds of black men.

Typically, I try to keep my topics more open, hopefully to broaden the perspective of anyone who may read no matter what ethnicity they come from — But on so many levels, who you are, is who you look like. I am a black man and there is only so much that I can say without exclusively referring to all black men. In the general American eye, we are all the same, and for me to want progress for myself, is to want progress for us all. So even though everything (as far as I am concerned) falls under the umbrella of being a Christian, I, being just a man, feel compelled to address more specific people, even though God sees us all the same.

My core thought process of the entire issued though, was based this theory: All of us want better; all of us want to do better; but not all of us have seen better. Therefore, we have nothing better by which to model ourselves.

Then handy-dandy Google, absorbed a few hours of my time. I came across a video that took place in 1994 of a convention for black men. At that particular session I watched, there were approximately 13,000 men on the inside of a large church and another 18,000 outside surrounding the building. The leaders at this convention were not catering to their egos, or telling them of blessings soon to come. The leaders there were not telling them that everything would be alright. These men were being told the importance of raising families, caring for their women and loving one another, instead of acting out violence towards one another. The crowd was filled with young men who were extremely receptive to what they were hearing. This made me feel that whatever progress had to be made, could be made; until I realized 1994 was twenty years ago. I enjoyed maybe an hour of hope and writing, before I realized “1994”. After just a few minutes more of thinking about all the detriment that has been done since then, I gave up and scrapped the essay.

The deterioration that I’m referring to is not limited to blacks only though; it has affected the entire nation. However, blacks might have taken the longest strides towards progress, while at the same time, taking even larger strides backwards. We have made the most progress in the fields of entertainment, which in most instances glorifies lives of crime and degradation. I am not faulting the artists, and producers, and actors, and directors (completely), but when this media is passed along without the proper checks and balances, we turn and act it out in real life. So the success for one can indirectly turn into failure for thousands. To add a bit of validity to my point, how many times have car accidents and school shootings by adolescent boys and young men been attributed to or linked to video games? Well then why can’t movies and music do the same to the actions of our young people?

With all of that being said, let me explain why I am writing this now. Today after Sunday service, my brother and I stood talking in the parking lot maybe fifteen feet from the sidewalk. From one end of the sidewalk, two young, dreadlocked black men walked towards three slightly younger black men coming in the opposite direction. The sidewalk is barely wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side on. As the two groups came closer to each other, meeting adjacent to where my brother and I were standing, I became quiet… as did my brother. I’m not sure what my brother was thinking, but I was thinking, “It’s about to go down.” That lets me know that my mind is no better than that of general America towards my own people. I expected there to be at least an exchange of words due to simple sidewalk territory. Nonetheless, I was blessed to see my ignorance proven wrong. Without a spoken word, both parties aligned themselves to smoothly pass by each other without incident. But yet and still, in my ignorance, I thought, “That was close.” So to combat that layer of corrupted thinking, one of the guys in the duo turned and addressed the younger trio and said, “Hey guys, I really appreciate you moving to the side like you did. Most people might not have done that.” The younger group thanked them for their gratitude and continued with looks of accomplishment on their faces. I could tell that with those kind words, they would be more eager to be courteous when the next opportunity presented itself. Now I’m left standing there in amazement with a sense of stoopid that I’m almost too ashamed to admit. Even though, I had just walked out of church, neither my heart nor mind showed any hope of common courtesy between these young men. I was shown that it is a lot easier to have faith in my mind that it is with your heart, and in my heart, I did not expect better from my own brothers.

My brother and I chased down the older two guys and told them how much it had encouraged us to see them do what they did. They replied, “You have to give, to get. We show that to get that.” At that point, it was confirmed with me that all you need is a good heart to make a change. Those guys had hearts of gold. I believe I was allowed to see that to encourage me not to give up on what I hope and pray for when it comes to my people, specifically. If things continue in the direction that they are going, things may not get better, but if everyone gives up hope, things definitely will not get any better. I feel 100% better about black men than I did last week, all because of that. I feel like there is hope for a few more black women because of that. Because of what I witnessed today, I feel better about the future of our families and the progression of our people; not monetarily, but in standards and integrity. This was something that let me know that the condition of our men is not completely lost, and with enough effort, their lives can be improved, and their souls can be saved through love and Jesus Christ.

Relationship Failure Theory: Revisited

After speaking with a few people about my previous post on relationship failures, something became apparent to me. It seems as though I have placed all of the responsibilities of the relationship on the man.

“See, Reggie, that’s what I’m talking about. I wish all guys thought like that.”

Well there’s only one thing about that; when you meet a guy who thinks like that, he will be expecting the same mode of thinking from you. Just because a man has the criteria set for the relationship, and has everything together for a comfortable life, you still have to be able to compliment him. For example, if he has spent the last ten years working hard and saving money, he will probably choose from the women who have done the same. The women who have spent the last ten years partying and spending money, should not expect a hard worker and money saver. It is just not fair.

I wrote the last post from the perspective of what the man should do to secure a sound relationship. I did not anticipate that it would excuse the woman from all responsibilities on her end. I was not writing from the female perspective, but from the males’ point-of-view and what we should do.

Now, for men and women alike, if you are satisfied living a three-star lifestyle, you should be satisfied with a counterpart with three-star criteria. I am not one to tell anyone what they deserve or should have, but I do know that you will work for what you want. You will be disciplined and dedicated to that cause. Now if you are happy with a life with no God, no morals, no values and no money, the one-star route may be the way to go. When the Reverend announces that you are now man and wife, you can both punch each other in the throat, so that the entire congregation knows that you both have a clear understanding of what you are agreeing to.

Please understand too, that the criteria set does not have a dollar amount on it or beauty scale. I hold my religion, morals and values as the primary set of criteria. After that, the most important things would be how many children she wants, physical appearance, and what your food tastes like. Does this consist as five-star criteria? For me, it does. I know that there is a lot more that goes into choosing someone to spend the rest of your life with, but that is where my checklist begin. The rest of the details will be ironed out. For example, there is a 10 and a 7 (we all know what the number scale is), and the 10 wants two children, but the 7 wants five; I’m going with the 7… Hands down. The important things that life will actually be centered around, outweighs the vanity that will only last for a few years. It’s up to every individual, man and woman, to set that standard though. The criterion is not for one-half to set and the other to simply follow and/or be carried; there is a balance that must be met.

Men are called chauvinist or shallow for wanting a good-looking girl who can cook and clean and wants to raise children. Women are called gold diggers for wanting a nice man with a good job, house, and car. How about we decide that those things are all needed to make the typical dream relationship work, and drop all the labels. The labels intimidate both sides into stating what it is that they want from a partner. If you don’t want to raise children, don’t call me a chauvinist, just understand that we have a different set of criteria. I won’t judge you if you will only date a guy who makes a certain amount of money. That is what you require for yourself and it’s okay. Whatever it is you want though, you are expected to play your part in attaining it.

There is one thing that I did not consider though:

“You don’t know what it’s like trying to find a good man out here these days.”

Honestly, I do not. I have never been out looking for a good man. I don’t know what to tell you. That’s when I run out of things to say. I don’t know what a woman considers “good”. It seems like I know a few “good” guys myself, but they all have the same story. It usually goes something like, “she said I was too nice”, or “she said I was boring”, or “she said I don’t make enough money”. I’ve been that guy (typically to unholy women, so it’s fine). The baffling part is when you have to sit and watch her go to a cheating dog of a two-star man simply because he drives a hot car. The “nice guy” will be sitting there thinking, “What the heck just happened?”  The hot car may not be the reason the girl went to him, but that’s all the good guy will see.. Because he’s obviously what you, the woman, have already labeled a dog. So I don’t know how to set the criteria for women, so I didn’t address it. Understanding women has already been said to be an impossible task. So the only one that I will even attempt to understand is the one I marry; and from what married men tell me, I will never even figure her out.

All I can tell you is that everyone should be what they are looking for, and that you shouldn’t expect any more than you put in. It’s just that simple.

Southern Sundays

Monday through Saturday is just about the same all over the United States. You start the week waiting to get to Wednesday, or as we like to call it, Hump Day. Thursday is the preview to Friday. When we wake up on Friday, we are normally already on a countdown until five o’clock. Then it’s the weekend.

Saturday is the day we shop and relax and do all the things that we did not have the time to do during the week. If you have children, you have probably planned something with them to that they can unwind from their progressively intensive school curriculums. For the single people, they probably spend Saturday morning recovering from partying Friday night only to do it again in a few hours. Couples have the day planned to spend time together. They have had to suffer all week without doing all of the mushy things that make single people sick and married people laugh; pet names and picnics and the like. Generally speaking though, Saturday is an overall pretty good day. I think even the people who work on Saturday find a way to enjoy some of the activities and company of the Monday through Friday people.

However, when it comes to Sunday, I cannot help but think southerners do it best. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday may be the same, but not Sunday.

On Sundays, I remember waking up to old-school choir music on the radio while the smell of breakfast encouraged you to get out of the bed. The rules were to wash up and get dressed, but don’t put on your shirt. That was because before leaving home, you were going to spill something; so wore your t-shirt until right before walking out of the house. Mom and dad got the family together and we made our way to church.

At church we listened to the sermon because someone was going to ask you what did the Pastor preached about, and you had better be able to give an answer. They don’t call this the Bible Belt for nothing. I’d go as far as to say that the moral state of the entire country is based in the South. This is because generations and generations back and countless of people like me can recall Sunday mornings like these. This is where we learned respect, discipline, friendship and love. It was the other family.

Now I am in no way saying that Sundays are only like this in the South, but I just find it hard to believe that they would be as good. Is it a biased view? Definitely! I’m a fan and the South is my team.

After church, the boys would tear off their clothes and get together to play. The little girls would prance around in their dresses and do whatever little girls did together. The women would talk about whatever woman talked about, usually the kids and such. The men would stand together and talk while facing the churchyard of women and children as if watching their accomplishments. Slowly we would all break away a family at a time, only to meet at each others’ houses for dinner.

Southern Sunday dinner was the glue that brought it all together. The people, the food, the love; what we like to call fellowship. The hosting house may be small, but there would always be enough food and that was pretty much all that mattered. The women would take the living room and do what women did. The men took the living room and watch sports, and the boys and girls played in separate rooms with the parents taking turns checking on everything.

I like thinking of Sundays in a reminiscence because it was so fun and innocent then. I was unaware that there were actually bills to be paid. Sometimes the dinners were to help out another family. I’m older now and I still enjoy my Sundays, but not with that same innocent view; it’s just a part of growing up. When I look at my younger siblings and their friends, it makes me remember what I felt like going all week without seeing my brothers and then getting to spend all day Sunday with them. Every Sunday was a mini-holiday.

Again, the rest of the country may be able to attest to having Sundays like this too. I’m only saying that church probably wasn’t as good. The people probably weren’t as nice and hospitable either. The tea wasn’t as sweet; the girls’ hair wasn’t as pressed and the mens’ shoes weren’t as polished. I honestly believe everything that anyone would encounter on a Sunday, would just be better in the South. Biased? Definitely!

Sunday in the Bible Belt surrounded by southern hospitality is going to be a hard experience to beat.