Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving thanks with a heavy heart...until Tamia came along!

Today has been pretty strange for me. This is the first major holiday I've had without my mother...and I am definitely feeling it. Even if our house doesn't host Thanksgiving, there is always a palpable energy around the house....anticipation of the after-thanksgiving sales...visits from random neighbors and family members...baking of cakes and pies for various family members...the introduction of the infamous lay-you-on-your-ass egg nog...the building of the x-mas tree... always something going on. However, this year our house is eerily quiet. No scrumptious food, no loud ghetto banter over spades games, no dancing contests, no homemade corn bread...nothing.

My mother owned the holidays around here, and with her not here it just doesn't feel the same. We (meaning my immediate family) didn't even do anything this year...just hung around the house and vegged out. Without my mom planning the Thanksgiving festivities, nothing went down. It's like nobody even feels like celebrating. Sigh.

I thought it would be fun to reminisce by breaking out some old Thanksgiving videotapes...BIG MISTAKE. I could only stand to watch about 5 minutes before I got too emotional and my dad had to turn it off. So much love and warmth came from those tapes...everybody laughing and acting a mess...seeing the ridiculous spread of food my mom prepared...a capture of my mom cuttin' up and trying to learn the latest "booty dances"...the wide shot of everybody laid out after the 'itis' kicked was all too much for me.

Everybody says the grieving process hits the hardest during the holidays...I think they may be right. I hope that Christmas and New Years will get better, because I don't like feeling this way. I'll have to pray on that.

I went out with my brother to a restaurant for dinner. My dad didn't want to go so he stayed at home. My mother is probably rolling in her grave knowing we weren't chin deep in somebody's turkey and corn bread dressing....sorry Mom, just wasn't feeling it today.

I had a nice surprise when I returned home. I received an e-mail from a fellow blogger, theBlacks. I opened it to find a link to a Tamia interview held by The Steve Harvey Morning show.

Listening to Tamia's RIDICULOUSLY BEAUTIFUL VOICE has put me in a good mood. Lord, I swear it takes some talent to be able to KILL IT OVER THE RADIO!!!! Not only did she tear it up on her own tracks, she had the NERVE to take an Anita Baker classic and kill that as well! Don't believe me? Listen for yourself:


Beyonce, Keyshia Cole, Christina, Jojo, and all the rest of the young "divas" out there...i'm gonna need to you to sit it down real quick, pick up a pen and paper, take some notes, and witness how it's really supposed to be done! Until you can just bust out like that with no digital assistance, keep studying!

Just like that, I've purchased Tamia's new CD and have dusted off her old CD's for my listening pleasure. Damn, Grant Hill is a lucky man. If I had a (man) to come home to that could sing like that....we'd both have to work from home cuz' there would be no leaving the house, LOL!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! If you are surrounded with family and friends, toss up a prayer of thanks and praise. If you are also dealing with the loss of a loved one this holiday feeling, toss up a blessing as well and know that you aren't alone.

And support a sista that can SANG from the POO-NAAN-NEE and buy Tamia's new CD! That song they dropped on the waves is SOOO not the #1 song on the

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ward Connerly is a DAMN FOOL...and this proves it

While at my internship site yesterday, I picked up a copy of UCLA Magazine to read up on what's new on campus. The lead story highlighted the RIDICULOUS racial disparity of black students admitted over the last 8 years. There has been uproar throughout the University of California system concerning Black student retention, and UCLA is in many areas doing the worse.

For example, this past fall quarter, out of an estimated 4,900 new freshmen class, only 96 were Black or of African American descent. 96!!!!!! And this is Los Angeles people, arguably the most diverse metropolitan geographic area in the WORLD! And believe me, from my experience walking that campus, it shows.

When I read about the ongoing "crisis" of UCLA admissions policy and the effort to actively recruit Black students, it makes my blood boil. I remember when this whole madness started...the year Prop 209 was passed. I was a senior in high school, eagerly awaiting my journey to UC Davis. I was in the first class of students in the post-Prop 209 era, Class of 1999. From beginning to end, I saw with my own eyes the subtle but noticeable fading away of Blackness on campus...the relentless slashing of ethnic minority retention program designed to keep Black students performing at a competitive level...the damn near disappearance of Black Greek life...the loss of the historical African Diaspora House...a diminishing morale amongst Black students...the SERIOUS disappearance of Black faculty and staff... SO MANY areas were affected by the ending of affirmative action policies in the UC system.

I wish I could just sit down and talk with the brainchild of Prop. 209, former UC Regent Ward Connerly. In case you're wondering, this dude is not some stiff-shirted hyperconservative salt n pepper haired White, he's A BROTHA. I'd like to take him on a tour to all the UC campuses and have him take a long look at the absence of Blackness. I'd want to show him a list of all the special programs cut due to his lovely creation. I'd defintely have him interview with the myriad of BRIGHT and SUCCESSFUL men and women who were given a shot due to affirmative action programs. We'd definitely visit a handful of public schools in LA and show him the students that will likely fall through the admissions process because of their circumstances, despite their abilities. And after we do all that, I'd have him check out the minority admissions rates of the Top 3 Ivy League schools in the nation; Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. He would be blind not to see that these schools, which historically have presented barriers to admission for minority students, still manage to put the minority admissions rates of the UC system TO SHAME.

After Mr. Connerly has had a chance to see and hear all of these things, I'd put him in a room for a little bit so he could think about the consequences of his beloved Proposition 209. Then, I'd take my arm, reach back, SLAP THE HELL OUT OF HIS DUMB AZZ, take him by the shoulders, SHAKE HIM a bit, then ask him, in a not-so-timid tone, "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING!!!!!???"

Alas, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In an effort to save face, UCLA has launched a crusade to "figure out" the admissions problem and pound the pavement to find Black students capable of surviving the admissions process.

I've been very impressed by the efforts of Dr. Darnell Hunt and the Ralphe J. Bunche Center of African American Studies for their committment to improving the status of Black and ethnic minority students at UCLA. I may even join their think tank when I start my doctoral program there, because I'm itching to actively speak out on this.

For those of you out there affiliated with or attending a university, PLEASE be a part of the solution. And if you happen to run across Ward Connerly (or other like minded folks), please sit his ass down and educate his behind!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One more week...ugh

It's 3:25 am and I'm feverishly completing a paper that was deadlined YESTERDAY. Sigh...the life of a grad student.

I had a hell of a birthday weekend, which is why I'm scrabbling now. As much as I hate not following through with work before fun, I gotta admit the festivities, tombfoolery, and dramatics of this weekend were WORTH me being a little sleep deprived now. Because BABEEE after I finish this paper up and work my way through this week, I'M DONE! (for a week at least).

So yeah, pray for a brotha until then. I'll be posting on my 25TH BIRTHDAY moments, life as a "saved Scorpio", and other juicy tidbits as soon I get this damn beast off of my desk and into my professor's hands. HOLLA!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Help with Blogger?!!!

Ok, so I think I'm finally getting my Blogging mojo back....wooohoo!!! Anyways, I need some help if anybody's out there. I want to liven up this space, but my Blogger IQ is like 2.7 right now :(

I have questions!!

1. I have a few audio/mp3 files I want to post. How do I do that?

2. I've seen a few folks with links to their Flickr page on their do I do that?

3. Is there any way I can widen the display so that the text in my page isn't confined to just 1/3 of the page?

4. Random computer/hardware question. Any one know of a good Macbook compatible portable microphone I could use? I'm having to conduct a lot of interviews for my master's project, and I'm thinking of dabbling in some sort of podcasting for personal and professional purposes. A friend of mine mentioned the iRiver, but I'm having trouble finding one. Suggestions?

5. I want to do funky stuff with fonts, colors, and other stuff for the text. Are there any magic buttons I need to push? Cuz I can't find them.

Any help you can provide would be MUCH appreciated. I hope all of you are well and thriving. HOLLER BACK!

Some of My Best Friends...???

A long time friend of mine offered me a book to read; Emily Bernard's "Some of My Best Friends: Writings on Interracial Friendships". I finally got around to opening it up, and the book's contents have really hit home for me.

You see, I was raised in a working class, racially mixed neighborhood. In high school, the crowd I associated with was also very multicultural. In fact, my close H.S. friends and I gained the title "Rainbow Coalition" because we were so ethnically mixed. Imagine a black guy and girl, a hot mess of a Nigerian girl, a self proclaimed "Thai princess", a seethingly blunt Chinese girl, a mixed white/Filipino guy with an affinity for hard alternative music (booo!), and a crazy lil' filipina all running in the same circle. Man, we would crack up at all the attention we got while in public. Wake up people, this aint 1955 and we ain't in the Deep South!

The high school crew:

Sure, we (and our extended network of friends aka. the 'smart' kids) all took more than enough shit from our respective ethnic communities for not being "down" enough, but we didn't give a damn about others' perceptions. We were friends, down for each other, and destined for success. I always though of my multicultural friends as a huge blessing...I grew a much stronger sensitivity to others, learned real quick not to make snap judgments of other ethnic groups, and I appreciate my blackness and Black culture even more having been exposed to other cultures.

As I headed off to UC Davis, I kept that sense of multiculturalism close to my heart. When I arrived on campus, I found myself ethnically isolated in not one, but two ways. First of all, there were hardly any Black folks on campus, especially brothas. Second, the existing Black community was happily segregated and out of reach. Although I was making friends and acquaintances with the White, Asian, Indian, and other folks, I felt something was missing not having a bond with the Black and Latino community.

It took two full years to form some kind of connection to the at-large Black community on campus. And when I did, I felt as if I were enduring an internal tug-of-war match. On one side I had the Black community I had been yearning for, which did not look too kindly of me associating so extensively with the "others". On the other side, I had the network of Non-black friends who I'd grown to love and appreciate despite our ethnic differences, but were clueless to my struggle as a young black man in America. I was indeed "sittin on the fence". I couldn't make up my mind which way to go....I felt such a strong connection to my fellow Black folks, but I couldn't fathom the thought of forsaking the friends who accepted me as I was. In the end, I decided to just DO ME, and BRUSH THE HATERS OFF. And wouldn't you know it, I gained the respect of the open minded black folks, maintained the other friendships that were open to learning about the Black experience, and got written off by the others. Whatever. Even though I found peace within my friendships and acquaintances, there was still this invisible line that separated the two groups, which really bothered me.

The Homies from Cow-Town (UC Davis):

I bring this up because I feel the same thing happening again, but with different circumstances. Now, there seems to be a growing separation between my gay/SGL and heterosexual social networks. Up until about 2 years ago, an overwhelming majority of the people I socialized with were heterosexual (or I assumed were). Now that I'm settling into my identity as an 'out' black gay male, I have a yearning to form bonds with gay folks, particularly black gay men.

As I become more involved in connecting to the gay community, I feel some of my old friendships slipping by the wayside. One of my best friends, Nan, actually put me on blast about this a few weeks ago. It's not that I don't love them any less, it's just that being black and gay presents a very complicated set of challenges and circumstances that many folks who aren't black and gay can understand. My straight friends, for the most part, are accepting of my sexuality, but don't seem to be open to knowing more about the experience. Again, the damn tug-of-war...and my behind is getting tired from sitting on this sharp ass fence.

Can a happy medium be made here? Or is this something that will always be present if I decide to associate with both heterosexuals and SGL folks? I hate having to divide my social time between the two.

Do any of struggle with "sittin on the fence" in some capacity?

Can y'all help me get off this damn fence?

***By the way, for those who don't know, SGL means "same gender loving"***

Thursday, November 02, 2006

America's Next Top Hot Mess!

A friend of mine forwarded these pictures to me. Even though Tichina and Tisha are DEAD WRONG for going there, the ish is still funny as hell!!!

No offense to any of you die hard America's Next Top Model fans out there. Hell, you know it's funny!

Have a great day! :)