Tonight, I began watching 102 year old Alice Parker, seeing herself during the Harlem Renaissance as a young dancer. My heart was heavy. I’m trying to escape my thoughts.
Yesterday we officially entered a war with Syria, by bombing their airfields. More than 460,000 people have already been killed in their civil war. It doesn’t even look like there is anything left to bomb by pictures. This, after Russia warned us not to intervene in Russia.
My heart has been heavy. My father taught me about cycles. 100 years ago, America entered the first world war. So, in a hundred years we still haven’t learned enough to settle our differences without killing each other. We are still no better than people who thought the world was flat. We’ve got all this technology and we are poisoning babies in their homes. We are dedicating energy to making chemical weapons instead of curing all of the cancers, aids and autism which seems to be on the rise.
I am heartbroken. People often ask me if I’ve seen different shows. I started to follow some on Netflix. Before this I didn’t see a television for months at a time. Real life politics has enough twists and turns. I don’t need to watch death and destruction for entertainment. Mourning all the people forced to fight, fighting without knowing exactly why, all the secrets of my own government we are still held accountable for internationally and the people dying who look just like me. They are still doing mass rapes in Darfur, there’s the Israeli and Palestinian conflict… A civil war in Syria.
I was watching Scandal recently, and was upset to see the treatment they gave to the Mike Brown and Ferguson issue. Mainly, because Judy Smith, the real life Olivia Pope came here to handle other black people outraged by police brutality. There were so many issues, Mike Brown was just the tipping point. I couldn’t even finish the episode.
Scene from Scandals version of Michael Brown’s murder.
I had gone to see Judy Smith give a talk a few months after Ferguson. People asked her, as a black woman how she felt and she… Said she couldn’t comment on it because she was involved. Soooo… My heart is heavy. Every time something bad happens that involves a person with money I wonder if she is the person they call to get out of consequences. Caitlyn Jenner as her former self hit and killed a woman in California. The news demonized the murdered woman’s family. It hadn’t even been two months, I think, and it was as if it didn’t happen. Everyone was celebrating Caitlyn’s coming out. She was getting an award for being a woman. It was crazy.
I mean the best fiction writing happens on the local and national news. Seriously. We are lied to or not given all the information. Not having enough of information makes it seem like other countries are just wild, when it’s us…
We’re still looking out for our best interest economically. I don’t know when we will start operating in spirit and stop treating people like dollars. I’m on a tangent, but the term “human capital” objectifies and dehumanizes us all. Anyway, I choose to read international news or independent news to get a full picture of our place in the world and conflicts… Our place, being America. I don’t like news programs, I prefer reading what’s going on. I don’t trust people to tell me anything these days, I need to see everything for myself.
Sooo… I went seeking a distraction to focus my energy somewhere else. I needed to get out of my head. I was on a downward spiral, as you can see. Alice Parker was a beautiful distraction. I love my elders. I loved seeing her come to life as she sings along with “soundies” they are called, from the Harlem Renaissance.
I also love that people took the time to write her, send her cards, flowers and balloons. She was humbled by all the love. Which moved me immensely. My great grandmother once told me that as you age, you become invisible. People treat you as responsibility rather than someone they love. I try to always be in awareness of this when I’m encountering my elders. I rub their heads. I talk with them bout what’s going on in their life, not just about their health.
Some elders get conditioned to sharing their health for attention and to get some compassion. So I listen. Then I ask about other things. My grandmother use to call me and tell me what she ate and whatever information she had. That’s how I learned everybody’s business. She was always home when not at work. Her own life was pretty routine. So when she’d run out of routine things, she’d tell me all the happenings. LOL!!!
Who’s pregnant, who’s getting a divorce, who got kicked out, who got promoted, who got a new car and who got fired. She loved to talk about what people were wearing. What color their dresses and hats were.
I don’t think my grandmother was a gossip, I honestly believe she didn’t really have anyone to process with. When my grandmother talked she spoke nothing but FACTS. I couldn’t even get her to give an opinion. She’d just stop talking. If pushed she’d get off the phone. I don’t know why I liked messing with her.
She taught me not to judge. She taught me that people are all different and beautiful in their differences. She also taught me when you acknowledge and celebrate difference you free a person to live their purpose. I’ll have to write about her and that last lesson one day.
In between keeping me updated on family, she taught me how to cook. I grew up on the West Coast, so I couldn’t learn in her kitchen. As an adult, raised on take-out and the highest in fine dining, because of my dad’s position, I didn’t really know how to cook. Well, I cooked Mexican food, being from Vegas, it was my thing.
I didn’t actually start cooking Soul food until I moved to Atlanta, Georgia. I’d never heard of sweet tea, only tea sweetened. I learned to cook an amazing pot of beans. So good, my mom asks me to make them for her and my dad compares it to his own mother’s cooking. I learned to make a spaghetti sauce from scratch with chopped bell pepper, celery, tomatoes and all the onions, chile. People ask for it all the time… I plan to make some later today.
My mother’s mother, Shirley taught me to handle tragedy… By phone, on speaker phone in my kitchen while I followed her strict instructions, she helped me become a better woman. So I love hearing from my elders. I once read this African quote, that said… Every time an elder transitions it’s like a library of rare books is burned to the ground.
In my thoughts, reading about Alice Parker, because I didn’t initially catch her name I let the videos play. All of them about the Harlem Renaissance, Parker and the Savoy. Until another video followed with Mrs. Parker talking about Obama.
By then I was reading history, so I had to come back to my Youtube screen. Mrs. Parker wasn’t alone, there were other elders all of them in their nineties. I loved hearing them speak. The video was recorded in 2008, they were in their 90’s. They’d lived through the Civil Rights movement, Jim Crow, Black codes, lynching, people being forced to work before there was a minimum wage.
Black people could be pulled out of their own fields or home and forced to work in a white person’s home, for pennies, literally. So it was amazing to hear how they felt about going from sitting in the back of the bus, walking miles through hostile rural eras to and from work, having the police also be open klan, segregation and arriving at the possibility of a black president. Obama hadn’t won his first term yet. Hearing their thoughts were sobering.
My grandmother, Shirley, died the year after Obama was elected. It was her dream. She never thought he could win, she’d seen so many things in her life. The burning of black churches, lynchings, beatings and the killing of children. All done by people who called themselves Christian.
She’d seen the Black Panther Party fall. Before that, King, JFK and Malcolm X killed. She was afraid for Obama’s life while he was running. Sometimes she’d get lost in her concern. To bring her back, I’d tease her and say, “I know how much you love John McCain.” To which she would say “Tuh!” the official black woman “get on call.” LOL!! I’d tease her until she got irritated and present. Then she’d say out loud, “he better be careful.”
For a moment, I imagined how powerless a person must feel to have leaders fighting for them assassinated by their own government. In my life time, I’ve learned the Kings won a case in 1999. http://www.globalresearch.ca/court-decision-u-s-government-agencies-found-guilty-in-martin-luther-kings-assassination/5320024 During that time period in the 1960’s more Kings would be killed.
In my life time, one of Malcolm X’s daughters attempted to assassinate Louis Farrakhan. As a result, we learned that the government killed him too.
I read in the last few days, that CIA and FBI agents were infiltrating Black Lives Matter. I won’t get on the media slander of a group of people just saying stop killing us and treat us fair. I keep hearing people say, why don’t black people get their selves together… There are so many external sources fighting to keep us down.
Back to my elders in this video. I loved the grandmother at the end. I loved her singing. It reminded me of being in church with the mothers. Her singing is stirring like African drumming. I watched it on repeat several times.
My heart was heavy because so many people had such high expectations for Obama, and he turned out to be another president. He did an amazing job facing the challenges he inherited. I loved when he said Trayvon Martin could have been his own son. At the same time, I felt abandoned by him. Some days I would blame the system, some days I would say I don’t know what he has to face and other days I wondered if I expected too much.
Some days I would blame the system. That first term, I never expected him to start walking around the White house with his wave cap on. Obama had to use a wave cap. Even though he is biracial, them waves though… I wondered weird things, like how long was he up before that forehead print left so he could meet the press.
I also realized, being black in America and working different kinds of jobs you can’t be yourself. I thought about all the times I was passionate about something. Shit, Black Lives Matter came to my job and did a die in. The drumming, them chanting stirred my spirit. I wanted to join them on the floor. I felt all kinds of on the wrong side of things. But I had bills to pay. I couldn’t stop adulting in that moment.
I also felt guilty. There was a lot going on personally when Mike Brown was killed. It was like there were two different worlds. There were the people protesting. Then there were the legal maneuvers our elders were engaged in. Where I saw none of the protesters. I fluctuated between feeling like I wasn’t there enough and trying to be in my own life. We did eventually get a citizen’s oversight board. https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/public-safety/civilian-oversight-board/index.cfm
Some days, I would hear people coming for Obama. I’d think, I don’t know what he has to face. I never talked about my job at home. Whenever someone asks me how is work, I would say nothing really changes. Meanwhile, it was the most racist experience I’d ever had. I couldn’t quit. It paid well. I had recently moved to a city where it’s about who you know, more than what you know. I liked the freedom of my job.
I also felt like it was the pulse of the city. I meet tons of cool people. I wouldn’t know half the artists I love without this job. Not to mention, I’ve had 9-5’s where I carried a lot of responsibility. It’s nice not taking work home or having folks call me about anything.
But it was hard being watched more than white coworkers. It was hard being hired for less and having to fight for that less while the other woman was offered more. Which especially ticked me off because she lived at home an didn’t have any real responsibilities.
I’d go through periods of applying for other places, but I was tired. Shit, it’s hard as fuck being black. The emotional work alone… All the battles you have to sidestep to stay employed. I’m not allowed to have feelings. My coworkers can come in and say, hey I’m hungover or I’m having a bad hair day and everyone babies them.
I am quiet because I just witness someone being raped (which I don’t tell them) I’m still being friendly, just absent and working mindlessly. I’m told I need to smile more. I’m told I need to adjust my attitude. White people can literally yell at others and me. If I am just quiet it is treated with greater importance. I’m like shoe shine Jimmy in this mutha fucka. And I can’t see this changing.
There are different expectations for black workers. I have to always be moving, working… They tell me to walk with a purpose. Meanwhile, my white coworkers go stand in the back for 45 minutes without any interference. I mean, I’ve had people talk to me on the toilet through the bathroom door.
Knowing what I deal with, and I’m not running a country… I know Obama’s shuck and jive game has to be real. I hoped in his second term he would wild out. I wanted him to come out and support Black Lives Matter. I wanted him to walk on the front lines. Honestly, he still could.
I wanted him to move for a global change of how people of color are treated. I wanted him to do some of the things Bernie would later propose. I wanted to be saved from all the persecution we receive just for being black. That’s a lot to put on anyone.
Anytime you wait on someone else, or expect someone else to speak for you, you’ve already abandoned yourself. Then Obama drank that water in Flint and said it was fine. Which shot his integrity for me. I mean, just last week, Flint’s water system was being replaced. It wasn’t fine. I don’t believe he actually drank their water.