Monday, November 02, 2009

[Government and Politics] Dear Mr. Bloomberg…

There is no doubt in my mine that you are going to win the New York City mayoral election occurring tomorrow, HOWEVER my vote will NOT be marked for you, Mr. Bloomberg. I don’t think you are a bad guy and if the circumstances were different maybe I would have a different reaction to your candidacy, but as of this moment I have to announce that I can not support you. So this election day, I will vote for Bill Thompson for Mayor. Do I think he is going to win? Hell no! You might come off with a bigger margin then the last election for several different reasons. The main one being that the Democrats haven’t nominated a decent candidate in years. Besides, you’ve been successfully painting the man every which way you can while trying to boost about your “accomplishments” in education and he has been unsuccessful at not only decelerating who he is and WHY he is better then you, but the direction New York City needs. After seeing the only two debates on NY1 and on ABC channel 7, those points I made earlier became very clear.

However I wanted to take a moment and explain why you are not getting my vote in the election tomorrow, as meaningless as it may seems. As of late last year, you have constantly blamed the national economy for the woes of the city. While it is true that the world was going to shit in a basket with massive layoffs and bailouts to companies that became to big to fail, the cost of living in New York City had gone up dramatically since you’ve been in office before that time. While it has never been cheap to live in this city, it really says something when you find yourself paying double or triple for necessities and rent. The New York sales tax went up to 8.8% (that was just this past summer, right after the fiasco in Albany), The MTA has raised the fare amount many times on unlimited rides and twice on the base fare as you stood by and did nothing (from $1.50 to $2.25). What happen to the reform of the MTA that you had promised on the campaign trail twice before? The only proposal you have put out there has been the congestive pricing plan (which failed thankfully) to further tax people here in the city. I guess we all have to do our part right? The MTA received a bail out and do whatever they want and new Yorkers get to flip the bill. Whenever the topic is brought up concerning the MTA , you nonchalantly dismiss the asker as some kind of a nuisance. You have a habit of doing that, Mr. Bloomberg and it is very disrespectful.

By the way, Mr. Bloomberg, Downtown Brooklyn is slowly disappearing. I don’t know if you know this or if this is a part of the master plan started by Dinkins and his administration to continue the removal of the middle class from the city of New York. The once focal point of Fulton Street, Albee Mall has been torn down to make way for more and more condos that 80% of the people cannot afford. Why? Because you and your flunkies in the city council have pushed emanate domain to further displace New Yorkers living around the Atlantic rail yards, since that is the site for the future home of the Net’s Stadium. A stadium that was a part of your unsuccessfully bid to win the summer Olympics for 2012.

As you lead your war against tobacco smoking (which I understand, but do not like, because of health concerns), by making the price of a pack of smokes raise from 4 -5 dollars a pack to, in some places 11 – 12 dollars a pack… not once have I seen you go after alcohol or any other product that might have adverse affects to one’s health with that same gusto. It’s like I can’t have a drink at the bar or club and smoke at the same time plus I have to take out a personal loan for pack, but can get a beer for 99 cents and get into a car. What kind of sense does that make?

Honestly, I do not think you know the feeling of what it like to live in a place where you have to struggle with the Landlord for heat during the long winter months. I wonder if you know what it feels like to know that any day you will have to mange without electricity because you had to pay other bills instead of Con Ed that month. As I see from many Youtube clips, you like to ride mass transit, but do you have any idea what it is like to feel the pinch when the MTA ups the fare and trying to come up with the money to pay for your only means of transportation to support yourself AND everything else. Yes, there is no doubt in my mind that you are out of touch with many of the citizens of this city.

However my main concern was this…

You see, right after 9/11 when the whole country was going gaga over Rudy Giuliani and calling him “America’s Mayor” for some strange reason during the last few weeks of him term, there was mention of extending his term beyond the limit. The reason why I voted for you was because you were probably the only person that said NO WAY! That the citizens of this state voted for term limits and it would be up the next mayor to continue the job. That was why I voted for you, Mr. Bloomberg. I thought you understood that term limits was something voted by the people of this city. For weeks you were on the stomping ground trying to pump life into the idea that YOU were the only one that could get this city through it’s finical woes. You however took it upon yourself to go through the city council and had it overturned. What backroom deals did you make to get that done, Mr. Bloomberg? Plus you have the absolute GAUL to belittle, name call and dismiss those that question your motives. When one day you give speeches about how dire the city’s economy was and yours is the only leadership the city needs to get past it… then turn around and give another speech about it was on the rebound, do you not expect people to question ONCE AGAIN your reasoning behind a third term?

This little blog will mostly not matter because you are the status quo. It is better the have the devil you know then the one you don’t right. On election night, while you are celebrating your third tern as mayor, I will seek comfort in the fact that I’ve made the right choice in who I voted for.

You have bought this election, Mr. Bloomberg. I hope it was worth it…


Monday, October 26, 2009

[My Life] The Good Lord will provide, just NOT today… (Pt. 1)

1: Day Three

My body smelled something horrible. I haven’t noticed that fact until I was underneath the weak currents of my bathroom’s showerhead. After spending the past couple of days on energy that I didn’t have, my sore and bruised body felt as if it could not go on. The lack of sleep, food and pain was obviously taking it’s toll. I closed my eyes and let the warm water pour down my body. I was trying so hard to convince myself that this was just really a nightmare I was having and not reality. However, the pain and discomfort of my swollen face, mouth and my blistered hands and body were undeniable. Standing there with my eyes closed, flashes of the event flooded my mind. My grandmother, the fire, everything was coming in like a tidal wave and it was unbearable. Why wasn’t I fast enough? Why did this have to happen to her and not me? Why did we have that stupid fight hours before it happened? Mixed in with soap and shower water, the tears began to flow. Wincing ever so often as I pass the wash cloth over the sensitive areas of my body that were still badly bruised, the odor I smelled was slowly being replaced with the smell of Old Spice body wash.

Twenty minutes later, I stood there naked in front of the bathroom mirror. My right cheek was still red, raw and beginning to blister. My 2 front teeth were gone with three others barely holding on. The tips of my fingers were already blistering and spreading to the palm of my hand. There were blotches on the right side of my body that seemed to develop. Taking some ointment, I smeared them on my wounds and bandaged as much as possible. It will be okay, I told myself half-heartedly. I had spent so much time trying to figure myself out, trying to understand who I was and what I wanted to be in this life that I never excepted something like this to happen… and to all people, my grandmother. One minute I was posting a blog about using Twitter and the next thing I know I was in a borough that I never thought I would ever be in hoping that my grandmother was still alive. None of it made sense to me. Once again, the tears fall uncontrollably.

When I finally collected myself after several minutes, I began cleaning up the bathroom and putting on some underwear. Once I was finally dressed, I knocked on my mother’s bedroom door. She was up, just barely, sitting next to my grandmother’s unmade bed. She wasn’t ready to go to the hospital just yet, in fact she wasn’t even prepared to take a shower. She looked at me with a glazed look and asked me to run to the ATM to take out some money to pay a bill that was due that day and put some money on our metrocards for the trip out to see my grandmother. I agreed, took the ATM card, the bill and her metrocard off her bed without breaking a stride. As I was leaving, I told my mother to listen out for the phone and to be ready to go when I get back. She nodded, but it was obvious that she was in another place altogether.

2: Breakdown

The second I left my apartment building, I could feel the cool breeze hit my freshly washed face. Everything seemed ghostly as I moved out of the door and around a couple of tenants, a man and a woman, that lived on the top floor of my building. They stopped me in mid stride. By now, I suspected that the whole building was a buzzing about what had happened to my grandmother. “Hey!” said the woman in that sweet friendly tone that was almost to diabetic. “How are you? How is grandma?” I gave a shrug and told her that we didn’t know. I didn’t want to nor did I feel the need to share intimate details of my family pain to people that will add to the building gossip pool.

At this time in the morning, kids were running around a local schoolyard, people were making there way to the train station and cars were speeding down the parkway, but I didn’t notice any of it. My thoughts lingered on my grandmother. If this was any other day, I would be in school, my mother would be at work and my grandmother would be at home watching her stories with the bible in her lap and my cat Kimiko at her feet. It was a twenty minute walk to the bank from my house. I had to travel through a couple of long streets, go through a local park and past the busy intersection of Utica and Eastern Parkway. Surprisingly the bank was empty, a good thing since I was in no mood to wait. At the ATM, the card would not work. After trying twice more, I realize what the problem was… the card had expired. So I departed cursing to myself. Arriving home, I told my mother about the problem with the ATM card and she instantly lost it. “I can’t lose her…, I can’t… I’m not ready!” my mother kept mumbling through her tears while tearing through her papers. She threw a box on the floor in frustration and collapsed onto her bed in a heap, burying her face in her hand. I knelt down grabbed her. For the first time I need to be strong for her at a time when I couldn’t even be strong for myself. She sobbed on my shoulder as I fought back the tears. Grandma’s a fighter, I told myself. She will get better. She had too.

“Mama, take your time and look for your new card and if you can’t find it, we will find another way to get the money out of the bank” I told her. As my mother started to collect herself, the phone rang. The Caller ID display on the television scrolled: STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL with a number that I didn’t recognize. It was a mad dash to grab one of the headsets in the house, which I was hoping would work.

“Hello, may I speak with the daughter of **** ***?” asked a soft-spoken woman.

“Um… that’s my mother. Is everything alright with my grandmother” I said with my heart beating a mile a minute.

“Yes, Yes… she is still stable. This is the grandson, right? Kenny?”

I nodded, forgetting that she could not actually see me.

“Yes, that’s me” I answered as I handed off one of the headsets to my mother.

“Hello!!!” my mother chimed in.

“Hi, Ms. ***, I was just telling your son that everything is … still the same, I just wanted to know if either you-“

“We’re definitely coming” my mother interrupted.

“Oh okay, good… I am the Social Worker here at the burn unit and I would like to meet with you when you come here today about your mother and the fire…”

My mother and the social worker spoke for a few more minutes as I listened on. She gave us her name and number at the hospital and after we hung up, my mother took a deep breathe and started the search for her new ATM card once again. After a few minutes, she found it with a sigh of relief. I grabbed my jacket once again and repeated my journey to the bank, this time leaving my mother running around the house trying to get things done. By the time I arrived home once again, she was dressed and made us lunch for the day. At this time, we were now ready to go to Staten Island to face what was to come.

3: Journey

Until this moment in my life, I never had a reason to go to Staten Island. To put it frankly, there was never a reason for it. We were still working out the timing of each ferry, when they arrive at the terminal and how often an hour do they come. When we arrived, there was a crowd forming at one of the doors. Some how we maneuvered ourselves through the crowd of people to get as close to the door as possible. With in minutes half of the terminal was overflowing with people. When the ferry docked and the double doors open it was like this race to get in the boat. Since I was faster, I half walked, half ran inside and got a seat for us in the front of the boat. I held my mother’s hand on during the boat ride. As I stared out of the window, I could not but to take in the beauty of the city. It was weird. At the age of 28, I felt like a kid again when I went with my mother to the statue of liberty… but of course, this wasn’t a good trip or a trip that we wanted to take at all.

Within 30 minutes, we docked and after the ferry departure, we dashed along with the crowd to one of the bus ramps for the S52. It was the only bus available to take us directly to the hospital. As we waited, I sat on one of the benches holding onto my bag and the lunch back my mother had prepared for us. A little girl walked past holding onto her mother’s hand. She stopped, pulled her mother’s hand and asked her: “Why his face all messed up?” Her mother grabbed her up and pulled her along, telling her that it wasn’t nice to say things like that to strangers. At that moment I felt like the Elephant Man, because I forgotten that I had I bandage covering the right side of my face. I did look like a freak, didn’t I… but my wounds were not as bad as my grandmothers were.

As the bus turned the corner, we mounted into one of those hybrid buses and started traveling through out the hill, slopes and communities of the Island. One second you are in the projects of Jersey Street, then you are staring at million dollar homes, the suburbs, a very lame downtown district and more projects. It was something I had never seen before, because it was all within blocks of one another. After almost an hour on the bus, were we in front of the Staten Island University Hospital. The sidewalk was littered with discarded cigarette butts, nurses smoking and people chugging down coffees. Wild Turkeys just walking by wobbling around while people gawk at them. I seriously thought I was heading into the zoo and not a hospital. We entered the lobby, made a couple of turn and started down the corridor to the unit my grandmother was in.

“I am going to use the bathroom” my mother told me as she handed me the lunch bag. I nodded and told her I was going to go on ahead. I entered the Burn Unit ICU and after washing my hands, I went to my grandmother’s room and stopped dropping my bags. My mouth dropped in horror. The bed in the room was stripped bare and the machines were turned off. “WHERE IS MY GRANDMOTHER???” I screamed with tears beginning to form in my eyes. “WHERE IS SHE???”


Sunday, October 11, 2009

[My Life] A Broken Mind

Late September, 8 years ago, I died.

Every person has some sort of dark chapter in there lives they would never want to relive. For me, it was a little over 8 years ago when I tried to commit suicide. However before I can talk about that event I must enlighten you the reader about how it happened. 2001 was not one of my highlight years. Besides the events surround 9/11, I was on a slippery slope of self-destruction. Up until that point, I lived my life at arms length from everyone else in the world out of fear that I would be hurt.

The problem was I didn’t value my self worth and often took out all the negative emotions I had internally. I was only 20 and even through I suffered from depression for most of my life, this was something completely different. You see, I couldn’t feel anything. Good or Bad, it didn’t matter because I was just unable to feel any emotion. I started to abuse alcohol and painkillers, behind my family and friends back just to make myself feel something more than emptiness, more than then disappointment I caused others or failure. I faced the real possibility of losing my mind and there came to a point where I no longer cared.

A lot of the time in the African American community, depression or mental disease is something that is not either talked about or even acknowledge. Why? Because there are other things, you are except you to worry about and get through no matter what like bills, work, family, etc… All I kept hearing was: Take it to God, but to me God wasn’t listening. So I was left alone with my destructive thoughts. Until one night while very depressed and drunk, I tried to end my life with a mass dose of different prescriptions medications. My mental state was so fragile at best but it made sense to me that this world would be better without me.

Almost everything around that event is still foggy even today, a side affect of the several seizures that I had. I floated around, that I can remember clearly. I saw the doctors and nurses all around my body pushing things in and out of me. It was one of those out of body experiences that you hear about however there was no bright light or tunnel around me. Just space… just empty isolated space that I wonder through aimlessly without direction. It was similar to the way my life was at that point… and so I died, but I was brought back. For a few minutes my heart stopped and I was brought back to witness what my actions had done to not only myself but my entire family. It was at this point I was diagnosis as Manic Depressive (Bipolar), sent to a psychiatric hospital for over a week and then referred for follow-up therapy .

I was ashamed to say the least and as the days and weeks went by, I pretended that it really didn’t happen. That maybe it was a nightmare. I even went as far as to tell the people closest to me that I had some sort of surgery and never talked about it again. A fact I only realized a short time ago when I was talking to one of my best friends about it and he had no idea that I actually overdosed.

Now that I am older, I’ve opened up more concerning that situation. I don’t hide the fact that I tried to commit suicide anymore, in fact I’ve been open and honest about it because I know there is some one out there that is going through or did go through similar things I went through. So you might ask yourself: Do I believe in man’s version of God saved my life that day? No, no I do not. However, I do believe that something brought me back for some reason yet determined. A reason that I need to find out for myself one day…


Friday, August 14, 2009

[Lifestyles] Blackout

Think back for a second and try to remember where you were 6 years ago today. Most likely if you lived in the north east section of the United States or in some parts of Canada you would’ve been in darkness. A total and complete Blackout.

Picture it!

New York City.

The Date is August 14.
The year is 2003.

It was one of the hottest and humid days of the summer when all of a sudden, just after 4 in the afternoon the day long power outage began. Lucky for me, I just got home from work and began to work on my novel. My mother was out grocery shopping and my grandmother was in the living room with her friend, talking as they watched Judge Judy. Out of no where, everything thing around just shut down. My first thought was: “Oh crap, did I pay the bill”. It took me a second to locate the receipt in a draw and exhale a sigh of relief.

So I was really puzzled on what was going on, now. I ventured out to the living room where my grandmother asked me what I did to turn the TV off. Just like my room, the whole apartment was without power. I told both of the ladies that I was going to find the Super, in which my grandmother told me NOT to because she didn’t want any trouble. For some reason she thought we would get in trouble and get kicked out of RENT CONTROLLED apartment if we complained or asked for help. I really didn’t want to spend the time to explain so I just left. In the hallway a young girl was braiding some boys’ hair and inquired if the power went out in their apartment. She told me yes nonchalantly, as if it something like this happen everyday. Through the stairway window, I could see the 3 train was stuck on the elevated tracks behind my building. The traffic lights and store around were completely dark inside. Cars were cautiously moving to and fro. People were stumbling around in the state of confusion. I walked one floor down where a crowd of people had collected talking about the outage. Many thought this was another ploy by the new landlord, but after informing them that everything was dark outside as well, many started to take out radios from their apartments. After a few minutes of hearing what we all knew, everyone pulled out there cell phones and started making calls since they all said that there home phones (all cordless) were no longer working.

By this time, my mother was making her way up the stair drenched with sweat and carrying the empty shopping cart and I informed her of the situation and after some choice words, she joined the conversation, briefly. We went back into the apartment where I went into my room and pulled out a box buried in my closet. It contained an old corded phone that worked just perfectly. Funny, how everyone in this digital age forget the benefits of a corded phone.

After making a few phone calls, my mother and I rambled around the house to see what supplies we had. It’s funny when you realize how unprepared you are for an emergency when it actually happens. Our family had two little battery operated portable televisions, a container of matches, about 6 flashlights and there were no batteries or candles in the entire house. I couldn’t believe it at all. This presented a minor dilemma. We would have to go out and get as much as we could before people lost there damn minds and did something stupid. It was too late for that. When we went outside cops cars raced pasted our building like a bolt of lightening.

Great. I wasn’t even a thought during the 1977 blackout, but I was going to witness it reincarnate itself in 2003.

Most of the stores on Rutland Road, which is the little shopping strip in my neighborhood, were closing or would not allow anyone in expect for one store right next to the Sutter Ave./Rutland Road 3 train station. It was a small little discount store that people were starting to gather around. Thankfully we managed to get inside within a few minutes. The store was total dark besides that light coming from the outside. One of the employees stood in middle of an aisle, blocking so no one could further back into the store. We scooped up as many batteries as we could, but the small space was no match to the massive amount of people trying to get in.

A guy started, about 18 – 20, started to push pass the employee. The employee pushed back and all of a sudden the store erupted in chaos. It was a blur really, much of it went by so quickly that I moved on instinct. The guy and his friends started a fight that spilled outside of the store. In retaliation that started to throw whatever was in front of the store at anything that moved. A woman and her child were in the middle. I pushed my mother to the side and grabbed the baby carriage to move it out of the way. The child’s mother was screaming hysterically and asking why. When the coast was clear we ran out of the store, breathing a sigh of relief. As we walked the child’s mother kept screaming, yelling and saying: “Why are you people like this!” I placed my hand on her shoulder and told her sternly that she needed to take her and her child home as fast as she could. I don’t know is she realized that even through I could tell she was a fair skinned Spanish woman, she looked Caucasian in a neighborhood that mostly African-American or Caribbean.

For the rest of the afternoon, the family sat around the televisions hearing the updates as they came, watching the interviews with people as they walked around in the blazing sun and saw the Mayor lie about how everything was okay. After the sun went down, my neighborhood fell into total darkness. There was this eerie silence through out the streets only disturbed by the occasional car or pedestrian. By candle light I wrote in my journal, documenting the events of the day and thinking for cool things to combat the humidity.

On the morning of the 15th, the streets were once again deserted, but as time went on, some stores would open while others were completely shut down. Grocery stores that had there own generator limited the amount of people enter while others only sold perishables like milk and meat. Once the power was restored later that afternoon, people wanted to examine the causes. Was it Con Ed? Terrorism? Sponge Bob Square Pants? But like all things in this world everything started to go on as if nothing had happen. The aftermath of Blackout 2003 was seen in neighborhoods like Flatbush for months afterwards. Several stores were broken into, looted, and in one case a sneaker store was burn down, but you didn’t hear about it on the news. The Mayor constantly talked about how nothing went wrong besides little pockets.

Yeah right…


Thursday, August 13, 2009

[Faith] Is “Religion” mental slavery?

I wanted to ask those out there a very simple question. Is Religion a form a mental slavery? I’ve been thinking about this for sometime now and when I ask people who consider themselves “religious” they give me this deer caught in the headlights expression and never give me a concrete answer. I wonder many times if “Religion” is just a tool that the powers that be out there use to have us do there bidding in the world.

Growing up, most people in my family were heavily involved in the Baptist church, but I was one of those kids that really didn’t get the whole concept of believing in something just because. It’s not like I wanted to see God himself, I just wanted some one to explain to me why this “religion” was the right one over all others. Being a youngster, my questions were just dismissed and I was told that I had to believe because if I didn’t then I was going to Hell. Threats like that kept in line for awhile. I didn’t go to church because I believed, most times I was asleep in the pewees waiting for that final prayer while people danced and shouted in the aisles because the caught the “spirit”. It was that fear that if I didn’t go then I was damned.

When I began to study in African American history in college, I asked my pastor why any African-Americans would believe in the Bible when it was something that was forced down slaves throats by there masters. I even mention the whole “Curse of Ham” theory (Curse of Ham is supposes to be a curse that Noah placed on his son Ham’s children and descendants to be slaves to Ham’s brothers descendants, because Ham saw his father’s nakedness as he lay in a drunken sleep.) many people of faith used during slavery to justify its existence. Once again, after 15 minutes of bible quotes, I never received a solid answer, which caused me to not to return.

As an adult, I’ve become very wary of “religion”. I do have faith there is a Higher Power in the universe. A being that is just and all knowing, but I believe that many of the worlds “religions” distort it to fit their own agenda. The most horrible atrocities done in world history have been done in the name of God, men like Jim Jones, who used religion as a way to attract followers to come to the People’s Temple in Guyana, comes to mind.

So I am going to leave this to a debate. Is “religion” just a tool to trap people in some sort of mental slavery, being blind followers to something that may or may not be real or is it something good that will bring people closer to the God they believe?


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

[My Life] Personal Space.

For those that do not know I am a big fan of personal space and get really upset when someone tries to force there way into my personal space. So, here’s the story that happened this afternoon. I had to go Western Beef to get a soda, and when I got on the line, a woman had her shopping cart nowhere near the cashier, so I stood at the end of the line. She then said “Excuse me, but I am on the line” in a heavy Spanish accent. Instead of making a fuss, I just made a comment like she should’ve been standing in the right place and not 10 feet away, and allowed her to get in front of me. After waiting like ten minutes to pay for one item I was getting frustrated. This guy decides to stand next to me and place his bag of corn on put it on the shopping cart in front of me. I had to move away from him because he had this smell. Not a smell of funk, but a smell of some one showering in too much Brute cologne. It was extremely over powering. I thought maybe this guy was with the two people that were in front of me, because he started talking to the guy. When the woman came back and inquired about the corn. The man said “Oh, naw… this guy is resting his corn on our cart”.

So I am getting ready mentally to tell this guy that he has to go behind me since I was clearly after these two people. Before I could say anything, a new cashier opened up. The guy stated that he was open and I went to go on that line. Here’s the kicker, as I started to walk to that line, that man PUSHED me forward.


So I stopped, turned around and screamed at this man, not to touch me. In this crowded supermarket, I wanted to grab my full 3 littler bottle and beat him with it. His reply to me was “Oh, you want no one to touch you!” with the heavy island accent and for some reason he started to get upset.

I laid it out like this: “Not only did you touch me, you pushed me! I don’t know you so what are you pushing people to this line! That’s something you don’t do at all. If I had knocked you in the eye with my elbow when you first started touched me, I would’ve been wrong… so keep your f-ing hands to yourself!” (Yes, I did say f-ing… I was trying really hard to not curse)

This is where the Spanish lady with the shopping cart three feet away from the cashier wanted to put her 2 cents saying that she’s been on this line longer and started to complain in Spanish to the manager about us cutting in line. The cashier rang me up and I paid, but he didn’t bag my soda. Cursing under my breath, I was about to bag it myself when he took the soda and told me: “Don’t let them stress you, pa” then gave me the bag. I said thank you and left.

I am just glad I didn’t catch a case.


Monday, August 10, 2009

[A Negro in Black America] Acting Black

While on the phone with a friend of mines, he made a statement to me that I found very troubling. He stated that he told his friend, who is Caucasian, that he was “acting black”. When I asked him what that means, he told me that his friend was unmotivated, becoming increasingly lazy and not doing anything with his life but using drugs and having random sex. This shocked and offended me greatly. My friend, who is a dark skinned African American, just belittled his own race and he couldn’t understand the repercussion of what he said and why I was so upset with him.

I asked him: “Do you do any of that stuff?”

He promptly said: “No.”

I followed up with this: “Then why are you stereotyping yourself and as being the things you told him he was being?”

He replied with: “Well look outside and that is what you see!”

I was disappointed with his replies to this and other questions I asked him and we argued for quite some time about what “acting black” really means. With that one phrase, he stereotyped every African American, including himself as trash. That to be black is to be the lowest in society.

In a previous blogs on other sites, I talked about how education and success in some urban areas is not seen as an accomplishment, but a person who endlessly trying to be something that they are not, which is Caucasian. They are called Uncle Toms, Oreos and a whole host of other names, by people that share there own skin color. So why do we divide ourselves along the lines of race? If you act white, then you are a sellout and not respected… If you act black then you are ghetto and will never amount to anything…, but can a person really act a skin color? You can’t help but to shake your head at the acceptable racism and self hatred that still dwells in our society and this time I am only talking about those in the African American community.

Who should be blamed for this? The government? Anyone who is Caucasian? Our own selves? In fact is there anyone to blame at all?


Sunday, August 09, 2009

[My Life] I Heart Me… (Sort of)

I love myself. Even on my crappiest of days, I try to look in the mirror and say that over again until it sticks. In this day and age, people really do not do that as much as they should. In previous blog called I am, I expressed that people should accept themselves the way they are flaws and all since they are the only one who can work them into something unique and special. Yes, I do love myself… However, there is a small problem with that. I can say I love myself all I want but, I have to admit that I sort of don’t at the same time.

I’ve smoked cigarettes for over 10 years knowing the full weight of what they are doing to my health. Yet still, I block it from my mind when I am lighting up that Marlboro between my lips. It’s an after thought really. Those minutes that people say cigarettes take off of your life are years and year’s away right? Well no… but that is the logic behind my continues use. I went from a 4 pack a day habit (when they were like $2.50 a pack) to a pack every 2 days (Damn you Governor Patterson for raising the price so high that you need a Pell Grant to afford one!), which most would say is excellent, but not good enough.

Besides I am not getting any younger. The 30 year marker is looming over my head like a vulture and I am out of shape. Adding to the problem that I do not eat right, it’s like a time bomb lurking in the weeds. I know that I need to get healthier, but it seems every time I try to work out some sort of a plan to something… There is this force from stopping me. That force is me!

I can say I love myself, but my actions do not match those words. How can I REALLY love myself when I am not taking the actions to live in prolonged life? I am, like so many people in the world, a work in progress. The old habits of that I have from yesteryears need to be morphed in into something productive. Now I understand while I am saying that I care and love myself, I need to follow up with actions that prove it at the same time.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

[My Life] Embarrassing Moments.

Did you every have one of those moments where you find yourself in a very compromising position. Last summer, I had one of those moments in my own home. Even through we had a very mild summer here in New York there were some days where it was hot as hell leaving me sweating more than a nun with a positive pregnancy test.

Well, sometime during a very humid night, I became hot and decide to sleep in the nude. No big problem really, however I was in the living room of my family’s apartment. You see, I wake up before my grandmother and in the mornings. She usually just wakes up and goes into the bathroom for about 20 minutes and then rushes back into her room and does appear again for another hour at the most.

During that time I usually slept in the living room because the cable and computer are both in arms reach. Since it was Saturday morning, I like watching the cartoon network while writing or listening to my songs on the PC. So it was like just after 7 a.m. and I wasn’t excepting my mother home for another hour from her night shift at her job. The plan was to wait until 7:30 and take a cold shower and be dressed before she walks into the door. As we all know the best laid plans are usually flawed. I gave myself 5 more minutes of sleep and that 5 minutes turned into 45. I awoken to my mother screaming at me to get off the couch and put some clothes on. Now, I walk around this house during the summer in only boxers half the time, so I know she would not have been shocked to see me there, but through my sleepy phase, I turned to her and saw another woman standing next to her. There I am nude as a jay bird and my mother’s friend from work just looking at me and smiling. Yeah, Good Time… Of course I high tailed it to my room for the length of her stay.

Yeah it was SOOO embarrassing and all that was running through my as I hid was the gossip that was going to occur at my mother’s job the next week. After she left, my mother, instead of screaming at me, she couldn’t stop laughing and saying that this will teach me to not wear clothes in the house. Good Parenting, Mother…


Saturday, July 25, 2009

[My Life] Fire Happens

Last month there was a fire in the building across the street from me. I was getting ready to go to Staten Island when I felt this kind of explosion from the outside. Within minutes I heard fire trucks roaring around the neighborhood. At first I thought it might’ve been my building. I already had to deal with the aftermath of one fire I did not think I was strong enough to deal with another. However, when I left my apartment there were people in the hallway, looking through the windows towards the building across the street. Outside there were tons of fire trucks, police cars and bystanders looking at the scene unfolding in front of us. A firefighter was helping a frighten woman down the fire escape. There was a brief second where I thought she would fall but the man grabbed her tight even with that smoke and flames biting at there heels. Seriously, the whole thing looked like a scene from either Third Watch or Rescue Me. As I stood there, I had the foresight to take a photo of the scene, but most of the madness was over before I found that cheap ass camera. The pervious day, a car exploded near the train tracks by a garage. No one knows exactly what happened (except for the people who did it of course), but the smoky ruins could be seen and smelled for blocks around.

Yesterday, I was in the foulest of moods. At a certain point, I laid down and really did not want to be bothered with anyone or anything. For twenty minutes, I just laid there In silence until I heard a knock on the door and screaming that there was a fire. Opening my door of my apartment, smoke was everywhere. I went back into the living room, put some clothes on and walked to the other said of the building where others where gathering trying to get out. Smoke was looming all around. It was a smell that I recognized but could not put my finger on. As I descended to the lobby, more and more smoke appeared coming from the other side of the building, my side of the building really but on another floor. As people piled out, firefighters rushed in and I was out of it. For twenty minutes, I waited outside wondering where this fire was coming from and if it was going to destroy the whole building until the only Black firefighter on the scene came out with the object. Some one had set fire to a trash container in the incinerator on the second floor. Fucking idiots, I swear. I personally I think it was one of the kids in this building who run around like idiots, half naked might I add playing stupid games when there is a park like 3 blocks away. But I digress…

While going down was easy, going back up the stairs proved to be much harder as all the floors were now flooded in off-white smoke that smelled like brunt plastic. For a second I was overwhelmed, but I pushed myself to my floor and to the apartment. For a little while, I was dizzy and I ended up sitting on the couch for what I thought was a few minutes but ended up passing out. I came too around, 10 this evening, dazed and confused. It’s about 4 in the morning. I can’t sleep. I have a slight headache that is slowly going away on it’s own and I am cold. What a wonderful day…


[Lifestyles] Flashing Jackson

I get it. You have the ability to gather in front you of you a lot of bills with the face of Andrew Jackson on them and you understand the complexities of a digital camera to take a picture. Plus you understand the how to upload a photo onto your webpage.

Here’s the thing through…

Now that you got the memo, stop doing it! I know it’s the realm of cyberspace, but actions in cyberspace have very real consequences. What if an uncouth person in your area stumbles onto your page and sees your happy ass holding up a wad of 20 dollar bills. Do you think that he is not going to start checking for you in the future? Many times I wonder with all that flashing, how much of the money is actually the person who is fanning it. You have grown ass men in there 30’s still living at home with their mother, have no job or prospects trying to avoid there umpteen child support request, trying to internet pimp with some one else’s money. I can not count how many pages I see on different networking site, where guys and a few girls are flashing around money like it’s going out of style. Some people even think it’s cute to drown some infant in paper money as well. Newsflash, money has germs. In fact some still have drug residue on them and you are going put that all round a child that really hasn’t developed a strong immune system yet? Where are child protection services when you need them, huh?
I think I am going to blame the Hip-Hop with this one. When you see certain rappers going around flashing the bling they have around their necks and teeth, throwing money in the air like they don’t need it any more, getting people thinking that it would be cool for them to do the same thing as well. But you know what they never show the rappers doing? Putting that money they earn in a bank account which is entrust baring! Unfortunately that might lead to a new group of fools posting photos of themselves at the ATM punching in their code.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

[Lifestyles] Dead End

After I watched the video above this morning, I started to wonder if this was staged somehow or could people really be this idiotic to film themselves while hold guns and talking about hustling when their face is clearly shown on camera. Besides that point I started to wonder about the people who are not in front of the camera, but doing the exact same things portrayed in the video snippet. What do we do about them? Shouldn’t there be this giant uproar from our so-called Negro leader about this matter? The 800lb Gorilla in the room that at times no one seems to want notice are the atrocities that we do to one another. I find it interesting how the same people who want to hold accountable other people for their misdeeds against the African-American community, happily ignore what’s going on within the community itself. Are we no longer compelled to speak out against all violence and situations that bring down us as a community or should it be the norm now? A better question is: Why are so many people willing to glorify the negative aspects?

I tried to set some sort of rationalization in my mind and the only conclusion I could come up with was that this life is their DEAD END, so nothing really mattered to them anymore. Nothing, but the here and now and what they can accumulate in the meantime. How can some one feel worth anything when they see nothing around them that IS worth anything? If this video was real, the people exposed have accepted the fact that there is nothing more to what they see in front of them since some many have been detoured because of lack of education, employment opportunities, health care and other hurtles that seem to just knock people off the straight and narrow path and onto the broad and crowded one, which only leads to the dead ends of prison and premature death.

If this video is false, you have people trying to glorify or make role models of images that clearly DO NOT deserve it and once again exploit a “Thug Gangster Lifestyle” we see all over the mass media. Besides, with so many people of color advancing in the arenas of politics, film and industry, a child’s role model should not be Pookie the drug dealer that stands on the corner, but some one who is going to stand for them even when they do not have the strength to stand for themselves. While parents carry the bulk of the responsible in making sure that their children are taught with certain moral values, I ask myself if the old proverb that it takes a village to raise a child is true. In fact shouldn’t we all be each others keeper in this day and age? Is it finally time for people to stand up and say that this is not acceptable anymore and we want it out of our neighborhoods?


[My Life] Adventures in Employment.

I was 23, unemployed and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life besides being a writer. My mother’s solution was of course to GET A JOB! So, I started going on an interview blitz. My mother one morning placed a classified AD in front of my face of a company looking for general office work. I called, made an appointment for that day since it was in the same area inQueens I had to go to that morning for another office job interview.

That afternoon as I rushed down Woodhaven Blvd. to keep this appointment, something told me to just turn back and go home. But that was drowned out by the angry voice of my mother telling me to move my ass…

The office was shabby looking. The walls were painted this ugly hospital blue color and many areas needed repair desperately. The “reception” area, if you can call it that, was lined with these raggedy beat down chairs. Since hindsight is always 20/20, that should’ve been my queue to run for the hills, but I was so nervous about getting this job that I just held onto my thin resume for dear life. After a few minutes and a few more people arriving, I sat down with one of the people who was going to interview me. She was a nice Puerto Rican woman, friendly and talked very fast. She explained about the company she was working for and after a few minutes of Q&A, she said that I should call back around 5 that afternoon after she reviewed the information. Nervous, thinking that was her kind way of giving me the brush off and that I would never see her again, I called and she told me that I had one more step to be hired and congratulations. I was SOOO f-ing excited. The next step was the group interview directed by Puerto Rican woman along with her husband the following day. They went more in-depth about the company they worked for and how we too can be like them if we pass this point. They explain that this was a sales job with opportunity to advance to own and manager your own store.

Still excited about this new opportunity I did my best to shine above everyone else, which I did. I didn’t even have to call back! The woman pulled me to the side and told me that training was going to begin on Friday and I should be here bright and early. The training was going to be unpaid, but there incentives I could achieve. On that day, I walked in all spiffy in my suit with a positive attitude and sat aside the other 7 people who were picked from the second interview. As the man talked about the multi level advancement system and what the company offered, some of that excitement evaporated. By the end of that first training day, the goal was to sell at least five items that cost 20 dollars a piece.

Mind you that everyone I knew at the time were living hand to mouth, having them break off 20 bucks for an item they were not going to get until the next week was impossible. I went by my old GED school and sat with the employment coordinator who I had becomes friends with. I showed her the information I had received from the company, the products and pamphlets. She took one look and started laughing and started pulling out job fair listings, vocational school brochures and anything else she could get her hands on to place right in front of me. When I told her that I could own my own store, she laughed even harder and TOLD me to call them and say that I was not going to return. Hell she even called my late mentor and he not only told me the same thing, he took my phone and dialed the number for me.

So yeah, I called told them that this wasn’t for me and never looked back.Now, what company did I sign up for? Well see for yourself…


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

[My Life] Sins of the Father.

To say that I have a very complicated relationship with my father would be an understatement and at the same time false. The bottom line is, I had NO relationship with my father. I met him once, talked to him less then a handful of times with each time being more hostile and colder then the last and he did a very good job of keeping my existence a secret from the people in his family, a fact that I only learn in my early to mid-twenties. Now as I get closer to 30, I can admit to the fact that he abandoned me, but as a kid and teen, I felt ashamed by it. It was as if he somehow knew from the start that I was extremely flawed in some kind of way and wanted no part of me because of it. Yup, I am a statistic. I am one of millions of men that did not grow up with a father figure their life. The things I know about him now has come from external forces. The memories of my mother, my brothers, some of his family… and honestly it is nothing good. Without getting so personal to reveal what type of man he is, let’s just say that I am not proud of the things he is reportedly has done. The only reason why I put some much stock in believing that the things told to me is true, is because of the limited interactions that we have had.

In the one and only time meeting him, I expressed that I was too old for him to be some sort of father figure to me, but I want him to be my friend since I was going through that odd time in every man’s life where I was at the crossroads. I needed that guidance from the older generation on things I should and should not do. I don’t know if I was just too naive, delusional or maybe a little bit of both to expect something different would result from this. He told me in no uncertain terms that he never wanted to be in my life from the start. A part of me died when he told me that. What I couldn’t understand was why? What would be the point of creating a life if you want nothing to do with it in the end? Were condoms not invented back in 1980 and the only option was the pull out method that men THINK they know how to do oh so well? But I digress… Sometimes my thoughts drift onto my father from time to time. I don’t know why really. He abandoned me before I even took a breath in the world and I had no choice in the matter. Funny, there was a point in my life where I would’ve forgiven him if he only said he was sorry. Yeah, funny… I hate him; there is no doubt about it. He is the only person in my life that I could honestly say that about and no matter how much therapy I go through I can not seem to let that hate go. He left my brothers, he left me and raised his lighter skinned children. Another funny joke to be made right there isn’t it…

When I was a kid, I always felt like a black sheep. Even through I had a loving mother and grandmother around me, I felt embarrassed as I watched all the other kids who had there father’s with them. I didn’t understand why that couldn’t be me. It lead to me isolating myself, withdrawing from the world around me because I didn’t want to get hurt by anyone. When I started to get to know my father’s side of my family, I felt myself drawing back and retreating, thinking that they were going to be just like him. Cruel, manipulative, deceptive… and I as normally do, disappeared before they could hurt me. I had no proof. I did not have any “Miss Cleo” powers telling me that they would. In fact, they loath him more then me, but I just followed my impulse and ran.

The more I learned about him, the less I wanted to know. I found myself engulfed in the knowledge anyway and it weighed heavily on my mind for sometime. I always wonder what made him the way he was? Was it the Jamaican air? Was it something my grandparents did to him when he was growing up? Or Was he born that way? Nevertheless, the ultimate question that clouds my mind is whether that same frustration, rage and cruelty is a part of me somehow waiting for a catalyst to provoke it. Every time I look in the mirror, I see his face staring back at me, so is it SOOO far fetch to believe that I might have more of his traits that are unseen. Will I do the things that he did and hurt so many people? Am I a carrier of his sins?

Every time I look in the mirror and see the face staring back at me… I just don’t know…

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