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.


Related Posts with Thumbnails