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Saturday, July 18, 2015

"Plantations" & Such...


A Friend shared this great article with me about one woman's impression after touring a few southern plantations, Plantation Tours, Don't Expect to Hear How Horrible Slavery Really Was. The author, Demetria Lucas D'Oyley, did a nice job of summing up and sharing her experience after touring four plantations. At the time I read the article there were only six comments left by other readers. As was the article, each comment left was thoughtful and insightful, especially that of Victoria Pynchon, a self described White northern woman who would have been the stereotypical angry Black woman if her ancestry was not European.Comments from another reader reminded me that the word "plantation" was just a flowery, feel-good word created to describe what in fact were Slave labor camps, chambers of forced labor and horror, grounds that housed barbarity at levels no other has endured. Thank you Mr. Scaminaci! 

While I love exploring Black history and doing what I call, my regular treks to the south where I can feel the undeniable presence of my ancestors; their heritage, their courage, their strength, their endurance, their pride, heretofore, I have been unable to convince myself to tour a Slave labor camp. Not sure I am ready or equipped to deal with confronting that pain and unsure with whom I would prefer to take such a tour, White folks or Black? Which group would make it more palatable, less painful? 

I further rationalize that I have not taken these tours because (1) I find something inherently bothersome about paying to tour a place where my ancestors were tortured and forced to provide unpaid labor for 400 years. I think such toil and free labor should have paid any entrance fee that is now required of me, Ya' Think? Moreover, by participating in such a tour, am I helping to promote my own criticism of the insensitive treatment of the institution of slavery by some Americans who ignore or seem indifferent to the pain and suffering still associated with slavery by most Blacks in America? Americans whose ancestors profited and gained their wealth and stability on the backs of my enslaved ancestors now continue that legacy by expecting to earn a profit from the ancestors of those they enslaved. Something about that just doesn't sit well with me... Finally, what is a fair price for such a tour? My ancestors worked there for free, what price should I pay to tour what is essentially their burial grounds? Have they not paid the price for free pass or earned right to pass "go" if you will... I'm Just Askin'...    

And (2) my other reluctance to take these tours is because I am sure I would be overcome with emotions of grief, anger, hurt, pain, mourning, etc. These "plantations" represent for the US, the same symbolism and pain of the "doors of no return" associated with the holding pens of Blacks in West Africa prior to making the middle passage to ports unknown to be Slaves throughout the "civilized" world. As I feel the pain and presence of my ancestors when touring historic sites in the south, I know that my blood would rise with frustration as it did for the author and the White female commenter. I, too, would find it difficult to conceal my hurt and would likely not be able to refrain from challenging fables as told by the innocent tour guide employee who would undoubtedly give a watered down version of the atrocities of slavery and the fairy tale version of reality of life for the Slave... 

The cruelties and acts of inhumanity of slavery have been purposely distorted. It is foolery to believe that such an institution could have existed and been maintained without acts of unsurpassed cruelty and barbarism. White America wants to forget or distance themselves from the cruelties of their ancestors. Black Americans don't want to be reminded of the pain and dehumanization endured by our ancestors... As a result and unless Black folks start telling our own story, the good and the bad, we risk that the true story of what happened to us will always be distorted by the heirs of those who did the happenings or worse, cease being told. As a nation, we will never move on...  

Good for the Jews for always telling their story... No one will forget, distort or repeat what happened to them under the cover of not knowing.  I spoke of this during the radio program I participated in last week on Hot 97 in New York, Street Soldiers with Lisa Evers, where we discussed the unprecedented and celebrated decision to remove the defeated confederate flag from the state capitol grounds in South Carolina. 

Across the south, Slave labor camps have been turned into bed and breakfast inns, ignoring the continued pain of Black Americans, making light of the tragedies of slavery. Along with flying the defeated confederate flag, naming buildings, statutes, roads and such in honor of those who terrorized Blacks in America, this notion of "plantations" being turned into festive bed and breakfast inns is the height of American insensitivity as it pertains to slavery. NEVER in Germany will there be a time when frivolity is made of the pain suffered by the Jewish community. NEVER will we see concentration camps turned into places of festivity. The Jews and civilized Germany will never allow it... 

Also of note is that in South Africa, where apartheid ruled until less than 30 years ago, there has been a decision to rename street signs and such commemorating those who inflicted violence and terror on Blacks in that country. During my visit in 2013, I was impressed and received this gesture as a sign of the government at least trying to reckon with its past. I pondered then, America's reluctance to do the same. We have never had anything close to truth and reconciliation in this country. Because we have made minimal attempt to deal with our truth, again confirmation that racism is alive and well in America played out on an international stage for all the world to see, the tragic church shootings in Charleston, SC, June 17, 2015. Once again, as in the 1960's and 70's, America was forced to face her ugliest demon, racism, under an international spotlight, Flags started coming down...  Its a start. It is now up to us to keep the momentum going... 

Maybe, just maybe, it is time for me to suck it up and risk being the rabble rouser on one of those Slave labor camp tours. Pray that I don't get arrested... 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Can You Imagine?

Can you imagine that you give your children everything, not only material but love too. You work your ass off so they will never know hunger, will always have a roof overhead, clothes on their back, an education and all the necessities of life. You adore them! You raise them to know that there is nothing in life you would not do for them, even die for them... And then in your greatest time of need, when you need them to save your life, they are not there for you, physically or emotionally. They don't even bother to call on your birthday, on Mother's/Father's Day, not even on Christmas. They don't bring the grands by to see you? Tomorrow could be your last day and NOTHING!!! Can you imagine??? 
Folks often ask me what will I do when I get old and have no children to care for me. Are you kidding? I tell them that I'll be sitting in a nursing home right next to them! Only difference is, I won't be longingly spending my days endlessly watching the door desperately hoping that some child I raised will come to visit me...  Instead, I will be gleefully flirting with the cute young attendant, who in my mind still finds me drop dead sexy. I will be rocking away in my chair watching TV or reminiscing about all the good times I had while my fellow residents sacrificed their dreams, their lives, their health to raise these children who have now deposited them in a nursing home never to come see them... I will be content and accepting of my lot in life. Sad but something has gone wrong! Terribly, terribly wrong?
Stop over indulging these kids folks and making them think that the world not only revolves around them but did not evolve until they were born. Stop calling little girls "princess", they take that shit literally. Stop buying their love with material things, leave them something to earn or to look forward to. Stop making excuses for their bad behavior because everything they do ain't cute. Just Stop it!!! 
Start holding your children accountable and let them fail. Newsflash: There is no ninth place prize. Ninth place means you lost and that you should dust yourself off and try it again!!! 
Where are we headed? These children are our future. How will the next generation treat their parents? What will their children do to or for them? Scary prospect to even consider... If you see yourself in this post,  if you are neglecting your parents or over indulging your children misleading them to believe they walk on water, can do no wrong, that they are perfect little "angels" and that the mold was broken the day they were born, PLEASE STOP! JUST STOP!!!  It is serving no one well, most of all you, not to mention them and future generations who are watching and learning from us...     
I recommend that my Friends children watch the movie classic, Imitation of Life. If they watch til' the end, they will see what is to be their destiny. They will not be able to look to me for sympathy and understanding. In their time of need, as they have not been for their Father, I will not be there for them...
Can you imagine? I mean really can you imagine? Nor could my Friends. Do the right thing parents. Stop spoiling your children...  

Feeling ESPECIALLY disgusted with my Friends awful children this morning so I vent. Forgive me...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Miss Higgi on Cosby Fall Out...

So everyone has spoken on how they feel about the continuation of the Cosby saga and a few have even joked that those who did not jump on the bandwagon to crucify him are now as quiet as church mice. I can only speak for myself, so here it goes....

Am I happy about what we have heard so far revealed from the transcript of a SEALED deposition given by Mr. Cosby in his defense of one woman's accusation with whom most of us, including those currently demonizing him, knew something improper had taken place? Absolutely not...

Do I regret not jumping on the bandwagon to kick a man when he was down but instead giving him the benefit of doubt as I would aspire to afford, under unpleasant circumstances that may befall any one of us, most who criticized my decision not to condemn BC? Absolutely not...

Do I agree that he, his Wife and by extension, his Daughters should be villianized and excommunicated or that now we should forget that BC ever existed and remove/ban from society anything good he has ever done; take his shows off the air, remove statues in his honor, take his star off the walk of fame? Absolutely not....

Am I a woman who cannot think of an act more horrific than rape happening to me or any other woman and would want for it NEVER to happen to ANY woman under ANY circumstances? ABSO-FRIGGIN'-LUTELY!

Does my heart go out to true victims of rape by Mr. Cosby or any one else? ABSO-FRIGGIN'-LUTELY!!!

Do I think it proper that absent agreement of the defending party or avoidance of something truly catastrophic that will bring great harm to or that will preserve the overall well being or stability of the American public that a judge should break precedent and make a decision to unseal the contents of a legally protected document based on personal but not legal standing? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  Mr. Cosby is not the first and certainly will not be the last person of objectionable character, questionable morals or of ill intent who will come before the justice system or be held out for public scrutiny. While the accusations being lodged against BC were horrific, they were not of significant relevance for this judge (Eduardo C. Robreno) to deviate from legal practice and to make this decision... If you disagree and think this is sound legal judgment then, as a Friend pointed out, I wish you (us) a safe landing and a careful slide down that which will prove to be a very slippery slope... I would think that very few lawyers nor anyone who understands or who has relied upon the legal assurances made when s/he agrees to settle a matter of court, is publicly applauding this decision. In addition to the benefit of saving the courts a backlog of cases, time and money, out of court settlements are encouraged and agreed to (1) to avoid records of any admission of guilt, public ridicule and to reduce or to avoid the potential of damaging effects of public ridicule or embarrassment to Family, Friends or a business entity and (2) to reduce one's liability, financial, personal and otherwise...

What I do know is that, ironically in the last two weeks before these latest revelations, in two different conversations, two young Black people both shared with me that their decision to attend college, particularly an HBCU, was inspired by the work of Mr. Cosby. What I do know, is that theirs are not isolated experiences of people who have been positively affected by the works of Dr. Cosby.

So yes, let's be disappointed in, disgusted with, feel anger and hurt, betrayed or misled by Mr. Cosby but join in his public crucifixion? STILL, I say, absolutely not.... No thank you. I am not interested. Instead I will lift my voice to say that I hope BC receives much needed psychological help. I will lift my voice to say that I am happy that those women who felt victimized can now feel vindication. I will lift my voice to say that I hope that his Wife and his lovely Daughters will be alright...  I will lift my voice to say that I hope relatives, friends and other supporters can weather this storm with him as they have weathered or enjoyed sun shiny days with or because of him....  Who needs ya' if you can't be there for them during their most difficult of times? I can't imagine there being a more difficult time for Mr. Cosby than now and I am certain that his troubles are far from over...  I wish him well and I encourage that we be balanced and fair and that we apply the same level of intense outrage and indignation extended Mr. Cosby to matters of dire concern affecting our society. I encourage that we all be reminded of that old adage about people who live in glass houses... And you know the rest...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Take Down That Flag...

Unlike South Africa, America has never had a day of reckoning, if you will. We have never had anything close to resembling a Truth & Reconciliation Commission or anything of the like. Perhaps, just perhaps, the good that will come from those peaceful, devoutly Christian and incredibly forgiving Black folks in Charleston, SC will be that America might come to terms with some of the lingering effects of her tainted past. Perhaps these mourning Families have paved a way to allow that some of America's wounds that cause such discomfort and conjure such painful memories for so many will begin to heal...  

Not only is there finally serious talk about bringing down the divisive and defeated confederate flag, retail outlets like Walmart & Amazon will stop selling products displaying the flag, also there is talk of changing names on street signs, buildings and the like that suggest honor to those who served to terrorize Black Americans and others in the name of defending the south. This is good. If you recall when I was in South Africa in 2013 I wrote about that country doing the exact same thing, In Pretoria they were changing names on street signs that celebrated persons who terrorized Blacks or who held prominent public office during apartheid. I applauded those efforts and questioned when America would examine herself through a similar lens.

While I believe in my heart that partly this drive to "take down that flag" is motivated by some who desire to deflect from calls for gun control in America after yet another horrific act of senseless killing, I think also that the strong faith and willingness of Black victims to forgive a young, clearly deranged, admittedly racist and unquestionably diabolical White man so soon after his commission of the most horrific of acts, compelled others to step forward and meet them in their place of integrity and serenity and offer up the defeated confederate flag to help soothe the pain in the hearts of the Families and as an offer of peace to the community and the nation. It is history repeating itself.

Much like the international broadcasting of horrific acts committed against peaceful Blacks in the 1960's, including a church bombing, prompted a national response and raised the consciousness of America to rectify the atrocities of the south, again we find ourselves in the same predicament. Too much is happening and being broadcast around the world about race relations in America for us to continue to ignore the elephant in the room who is trampling us while we try to pretend he does not exist. Everywhere I go folks assume, for a variety of reasons but mostly because of effective marketing of a false image, that racism no longer exists in America. There is an assumption that America is the face of democracy, equal opportunity for all and certainly that she has dealt with and resolved her past... But here we are again, more than 50 years later, being prompted again, maybe shamed, by the power of the media exposing in full color for all to see, the truth of our dirty little secret, that racism and hate for some is alive and well in the good ole' US of A. Again, the world sees Black southerners respond to the worst of mankind with incredible bravery, peacefulness, resilience, dignity, honor and valor. It appears again too that America is prepared to take steps to respond in kind. This is a good thing...  

Finally, 150 years later, it might become unpopular and unacceptable to fly the confederate flag.
Finally, mainstream America is willing to be critical and not just sit back and say "it is not my problem" while ignoring the symbolism, fear and pain conjured up for so many by the mere sight of the defeated confederate flag...
Finally, America just might start reckoning. It's about time..

Emanuel AME, thank you for your strong and abiding faith incredible to many, and thank you Charleston and others for following their lead. There is hope for a changing of times...

Now let's shut down the plantations that have been turned into bed & breakfast inns. That too is symbolic of incredible insensitivity. I'm Just Sayin'... A blog for another time...    

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Feeling Bobbi Kristina's Pain...

I look at Bobbi Kristina and think of myself. My Mother was my world and we were very close when I lost her at the tender age of 26. Folks thought I was going to lose my mind, especially her Friends who also feared I would starve to death. Didn't cook or do laundry then, Don't cook and can barely do laundry now... (smile) SOMEBODY brought me dinner almost every night for weeks. I think partly to feed me, partly to see how I was doing. Thank you Village...
I knew I would be alright and I am pretty sure my Mom did too. Reminding myself to live in such a way that would make her proud, sustained and kept me going... My advice to those who still have parents is to treasure and do right by parents who treasured, sacrificed and did right by you. When they pass, you will only miss them. You will not suffer from regrets and guilt about what you coulda', shoulda' said or done... Make sure they know that you love them while they are here. You will find comfort in your selfless deeds and acts/expressions of love when they are gone. Trust me, to look back and know that your parent will say, "job well done son/daughter", will make a world of difference and console you greatly in your time of grief.
However, I do understand the overwhelming void Bobbi Kristina must feel. Immediately after the loss of my Mother is the ONLY time in life I was sure I wanted a child. Thankfully, I realized very quickly that it was not a child that I wanted as much as I wanted to have my Mother back. I wanted to replace the relationship. While I am sure motherhood is rewarding in its own right, I came to understand and appreciate that there is no replacing a Mother's love and I have never regretted not having children. Lesson: Don't make life decisions in the face of pain and uncertainty...
Bobbi Kristina was much younger and less rooted than I was when we lost our Mothers, 18 as compared to 26. I remember often thinking of a family in our neighborhood where the children had lost both of their parents at such a young age that the baby child called his big Sister, who was no older than me, "Mommy", which became her nickname. I thought of them and how little time they had to spend with their parents to console and give me strength in those times when I was feeling especially sorry for myself. It's all relative however when we are dealing with our own grief and pain. We all cope in different ways and we should never let others tell us how or how long to grieve or how to deal with our pain and NEVER let them tell you not to talk about your loved one. That person was a very intricate part of your life, of course you should talk about them and do whatever you can to keep their memory and love alive in your soul, in your mind, in your heart... Grief is a very personal state of mind. It is one of those times in life when we have license to self diagnose and counsel ourselves through what can be the greatest pain we will ever know. You can only do it your way and in your time... Family and True Friends will respect and support that...
Perhaps Bobbi Kristina did not have [or open up to] the village around her to make sure she was nourished, both mentally and physically. Perhaps she was not quite ready to grasp the concept that in time, things would get better, her pain would lighten and she would adjust. Perhaps she was just too young and too inexperienced in life...  Who knows? I just know that I feel her pain and hope that by the grace of God, she pulls through. Prayers...

Saturday, January 31, 2015

First Lady Sets Another Trend...

Remember early on when the First Lady upset the tea kettle by showing her arms in February? Oh My!!! How incensed they were. Well, true to form seems the First Lady set a trend. Has anyone noticed all the bare arms on TV no matter the season? What does strike me as odd however, is the weather lady clad in summer attire, sleeveless dress, summer sandals and all, while reporting on subzero temperatures and cutting away to another reporter who is outside the studio dressed like an Eskimo! Now that's comical!!!  

Here is what the original haters had to say about the First Lady being sleeveless in Feb 2009: "'Does the lady not understand that these Big Speech Events are serious and important? Not a cocktail party?'" wrote one Chicago Tribune reader. "''The season is winter. The occasion is business. Dress was wrong place and time.'"

And Glamour magazine editor wrote;  “Oh my god,” Cindi Leive, the editor of Glamour magazine, exclaimed while watching the address, she said via email. “The First Lady has bare arms in Congress, in February, at night!”

The blogger who shared this story also pondered; "In a few years, will she still look as confident as she did last night, or will she reach for cover?" I'd say given the recent clamor about her fashion statement in Saudi Arabia and all that she has endured with her head STILL held high, YEAH she's as confident now as she was in 2009! Love The First Lady!!! But still I don't get the weather lady! LOL!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Re-post on Bill Cosby...

So many opinions out there on Bill Cosby. Here is one worth considering. Check it out...

THE PR CAMPAIGN… Against Bill Cosby

CosbyTemple

Click on the link above... Thoughts?