RIP Bernie

I had no plans to blog today seeing as how its the weekend, but I just heard that Bernie Mac passed, and I have to say for a moment I felt like I had lost a loved one. Regular readers know that despite the name of this blog, I am from Chicago, spent a good share of my life on the southside in fact, same general area that Bernie Mac hailed from.

I can’t say that I knew the brother, but I have known of him for years just in Chicago and have always loved his routine. Admittedly his style of humor was not for the faint of heart or PC crowd. That said, I loved his piece in Kings of Comedy about watching the kids and the little girl (I believe his niece) who wanted her milk and cookies. The fact that as he said in the routine, that she looked at him like he was small, always got laughs around here, especially in this last year as mini-me at times seems like she has the personality of that niece he talked about.

Anyway the beauty of blogging is when you got something to say, you can just post it, so I say RIP to Bernie and his family. Chicago and the world lost a true king of comedy. Perhaps you can meet my Mom up there in the great party and tell her some jokes.

Race card… whose really playing it?

Can I just saying I am starting to get really bored by the current election season, its like damn lets just get to November and vote already. Seriously, it seems like this shit has just being going on and on, so much that honestly I have lost a bit of my enthusiasm especially once my man Obama got the nomination and started acting a little strange. That said, I sure as hell ain’t voting for crazy ass McGrampy so unless some real nasty shit comes out about my man Obama, he’s got my vote.

That said, I woke up this morning as I do most mornings listening to NPR and heard the latest in this long crazy trip known as an election season, seems McGramps said Obama played the race card from the bottom of the deck… dayum, he played it from the bottom? For real? Thankfully being NPR, they then played a snippet of what Obama said and well in quick paraphrasing he essentially said that there are some who would tell you I am scary because I don’t look like the other cats who have ran for president, my name is funny, yada, yada.. Um, tell me something I don’t know… shit, how many emails have gone out this year basically saying because the man’s name is Barack Hussein Obama he is a Muslim and ya know them Muslims are scary. Come on, didn’t Hillary herself use coded racial language, like hard working folks aka white folks.

I must admit that after I heard the story, I laughed, shit was funny until I stopped to think about something that I went through last year where I was accused of playing the race card. Long story short, I was teaching at a school where I was only 1 of 2 teachers with an advanced degree, I was the only person of color and after being promised a ft gig with benefits after being worked like a Hebrew slave, I was let go, given some bullshit ass reason. Well turned out a sista was the lowest paid instructor at that joint despite having more education than only one other person, well as you can imagine, my Chicago side came out when I was being let go and I called bullshit. Anyway I was told I was playing the race card, former boss lady got all red in the face and huffy when I said basically I had been screwed and was pissed, of course by throwing in the ole race card, she threw me off my game for a minute. The end is not really relevant since I have been blessed since leaving that shit-hole ass job.

My point though is that incident coupled with many others have revealed to me that it seems when white folks get uncomfortable with Black folks especially us loud mouth ones who won’t back the fuck down, we are accused of using the ole race card. However it seems to me if anything its them using the race card, seems when you are white, you can tell a person of color especially a Black person they are using the race card and it will prevent said white person from taking a look at themselves and taking personal responsibility about a situation.

Call me crazy, but by the rules many whites seem to live under that is definitely playing the race card and playing it from the bottom. No, McCain is feeling bitter and clinging to outdated ideas, so its better to attack Obama on bullshit than to create his own real platform.

McGrampy, shame on you for playing the race card, by the way is that the Amex Black card you have?

Blackness..who defines it?

In my daily cruising of blogs, I was struck by a blog I read about Soledad O’Brien and the issue of Blackness. Soledad is hosting a two part program on CNN that I have not yet seen on being Black in America and guess some folks questioned whether Soledad was really Black enough to be a part of such a discussion. For starters I will admit that I didn’t even know she was Black, over the years I thought she looked like she might be Black but with that name honestly, I never gave it a second thought.

However in the larger picture, reading about her Blackness or lack thereof brought me back to my own childhood and how often I endured cutting remarks from family members on my supposed lack of Blackness. As I have talked about before, I attended predominantly white schools even when we lived in Black areas, I was the kid in high school who had to get up at 5:30 am to trek across Chicago to get to school by 8 am. In my early years, we did though live in a predominantly white area.

For starters, as a kid, I was the kid who couldn’t jump rope, not just any rope, double-dutch, that definitely earned me lots of laughs as a kid.. later on I was put down because I talked white, I read books, and the worse offense in the eyes of relatives, I listened to white music. Back in fourth grade, I bought my first albums, Duran Duran and The Police and yes these were indeed albums. LOL

Later on growing up I grew to embrace all kinds of music, yet despite my love of music, I have been told I cannot dance. How many family gatherings did I attempt to let loose only to hear the family “Look at S, she dance like a white girl”.. laughs all around.

It wasn’t until in the past 10 years I realized I wasn’t the only Black kid who grew up being cracked on because of my supposed lack of Blackness as a kid, yet even when we become adults if you were a member of the non-black enough crew growing up, you still get it from adults. Its never ending, but the reality is what the hell is Blackness?

Honestly I beleive much of what we in America call Blackness makes no sense, to say that a group that  has millions and millions of members must all do the same thing is group-think on a crazy level. What I consider the Black experience in America is a rich diverse array of experience. It shapes us individually and creates Black folks as diverse as John McWhorter, Jesse Jackson, and many others. Even factoring for socio-economics, we are as diverse as white folks. No one ever expects white folks to be all the same.

Yet for many of us Black folks if we see someone engaging in behavior that we associate with White America we are quick to slap a label on that individual and heaven forbid we might even call said not real Black person an Oreo. Yep, been there, done that too. Thankfully I have reached the age where it no longer irritates me that family members think I am an Oreo, I suspect my move to Maine solidified in their minds that I am a true Oreo.. oddly enough these same folks like many who are quick to judge who is really Black, no nothing about Black history.

Blackness as I define it is a state of mind, its the ability for me to take pride in my roots, its when I reached that place where I can proudly share about my humble family roots, the grandfather who was a sharecropper. Its that place where as a Black woman I can look upon my own natural attributes and be at peace with how I was created, I see joy in my nappy hair, my full lips and hips and cocoa complexion. Its the place where I want to embrace all members of the diaspora, where I understand that the Dominican brothas and sistas are the same as me.. we all hail from the same place, we just ended up at different places.

No, Blackness can not simply be reduced to a few points, Blackness is not necessarily growing up in the hood, Blackness allows for the richness that gives us the Soledad’s who choose to embrace her heritage because she understands that Blackness is more than skin color. I like to say its in our blood, we feel its strength, its the strength that allowed a people who had been taken away from their homes to create in this new and strange land that was forced upon us. I sometimes think that if the ancestors could see this silliness that many of us engage in that they would cry out in shame at what we have become.

Instead of deciding who is Black, let us make sure we understand who we are first and foremost.