Monday, March 27, 2006

Marriage is for white people...hmmmm?

My friend Sharon keeps me up to date with the latest interesting tidbits in the New York Times, Washington Post and any number of newspapers throughout the country and today was no different when I opened my email to find a suggestion from the Post, "Marriage is for white people". It was a hectic day and I didn't have time to read the piece right then so I printed it and brought it home to read.

What a read! Joy Jones is to be commended for this well researched and well written article which suggests that black folk have just given up on the "...until death do us part." I, like Jones, grew up during a time when two-parent families were the norm and not until I basically reached adulthood did I begin to notice that a lot of people around me were saying "See ya!" Yet even with many folks getting divorced and many of my friends now having children without the benefit of a husband I still felt that marriage was in my future.

I however, was not rushing and reeling to get to the altar I had a lot of living to do before I would say "I do". I can't say I did it all, but I don't have many regrets about waiting until I was kissing 40 to take that plunge. It was not a quick decision - my husband and I dated and lived together for more than 10 years before making it legal, and ultimately that's how I looked at it for a number of years. It's just a piece of paper. We committed to each other years before and I know that the first time he proposed I was not ready and brother wasn't either.

While I could relate with a lot of what the women and men interviewed said about marriage it was sad to read that so many of us, particularly women are opting not to enter into these unions.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Secret Life of Bees, a must read!

It's been more than a week since my last post and I don't know where to begin. I have just finished reading The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd's wonderful story of a young girl's search for love, acceptance and the nurturing that you would think only your mother could provide. Wrong! Lilly, the narrator and star of this beautiful story, finds nurturing in the most unexpected place - well unexpected for those who are unfamiliar with the DNA found in black women. If you haven't read it, please do and I promise you won't regret it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Oscar Surprises!!

Couldn't believe the Academy actually chose Hustle & Flow's "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp" as best original score! I saw the movie and basically enjoyed it. What I found interesting was the fact that the character seeking a new life was the pimp and in most movies the prostitute is the person seeking a better life.

Heard on the Tom Joyner show this morning that it really is a modern version of the 70's blaxploitation hit "The Mack". I don't really recall "The Mack" so I'll have to find it on tape and take a peak.

Also truly surprised that "Crash" took home best picture! Will admit I have not seen it, but will check it out this week. Seems that in some areas we are taking baby steps forward - that is realizing that issues such as racism do still exist and must be addressed!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Hormone levels must be elevated

Riding to the store today I was listening to Heather Headley's new CD and the track "I Didn't Mean To" caught my ear and had me nearly in tears! The song is so sad, but so beautiful. I also loved the fact that a sister was singing about how we (ladies) also do dirt. Don't know why it touched me so. I haven't been in that situation. Maybe it has to do with the characters I am currently writing about. Similar story line in that Mommy leaves, but not due to getting her swerve on elsewhere.

Light bulb Moment!

As I was supposed to be getting dressed to go out to the grocery store this afternoon I paused and caught a portion of Singletarry Says with Michelle Singletarry and it was like being on the highway late at night and the high beams are piercing your eyes. Having a few issues of late with cash flow, because unlike the America in GWB's world the economy in Ohio is still on the very lean side but I digress. Listening to the advice offered to this couple I realized that I am preparing for my retirement future in a large way, but that rainy day fund is dry, so I think I'll divert some of my direct deposits to the rainy day fund until it is whole. Thanks, Michelle!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Protecting our Mental Health

Had a conversation with a colleague yesterday and the subject of how the black community deals with mental health issues surfaced. We were discussing how traumatic experiences from childhood or years gone by are repressed only to cause very complex problems in the years to come. I stated that we as a people have to stop looking only to the church for answers, because the routine response to many of these issues in our community is "Chile, don't you fret. Just put in the Lord's hands He'll take care."

While I strongly believe that we tend to fret about a lot of things that we shouldn't and often times one must "Let go and Let God", but when tragedies such as incest, molestation and traumatic deaths occur it is sometimes necessary to rely on the mental health professionals that God gave the ability to help work through these issues.

This topic has been swirling through my mind for a number of weeks because I am working on a story that deals with Mental Health, as well as the apparent increase in commentary on Bi-Polar Disorder, Manic Depression etc. Over the last couple of years it appears to me that these mental health issues have been attributed to many violent crimes. This may not be a new phenomenon, but I believe it is growing in acceptance to openly discuss bi-polar disorder for instance as the reason "Aunt Mary sometimes sits in her house for days on end without responding to the knock at the door."

So I was pleased to read that Cleveland activist Art McKoy plans to help spread the word about depression and suicide in the black community. It is unfortunate that he has had to deal with the pain of loosing his daughter to suicide, but to see that he will attempt to bring something positive out of his own personal tragedy is to be commended.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Thanks fellow bloggers

If you look at this blog you will find infrequent posts due in part to one of my worst character flaws - PROCRASTINATION, but also in part to my voracious appetite for the written word. You see lately if I haven't been working at my 9-5 I have found myself setting up to do some writing and being lured away by bloggers including Tayari Jones and Nichelle Tramble.

A friend forwarded a post from Jones' blog a few months ago and I have been hooked ever since. She has wonderful topics and is an established professor and author. I truly enjoyed Leaving Atlanta her debut novel and am currently enjoying the Untelling. After daily visits to her blog I was introduced to Nichelle Tramble either through a comment or checking out some of the blogs Jones listed on her site. This led me to read both Dying Ground and The Last King - truly enjoyed both and found them to be well written stories about drugs, crime and violence in our community and a far cry from the Urban Fiction permeating the bookshelves.

Tramble has been interviewing fellow authors on her site every Friday and this lead me to pick up T. Greenwood's Breathing Water - a great story about finding one's own true place in society, as well as overcoming abuse and low self-esteem with a prince charming at the end, but not who you would expect.

Now it's time for me to get to my bookclub reading "Some People, Some Other Place" by J. California Cooper and back to writing a couple of stories I have brewing in my head.

The State of Black America

Kudos are sent to Tavis Smiley for once again gathering a stellar group of Black folk to sit down and discuss the issues plaguing our communities as well as offer some good advice on how to swing the pendulum back up.

The most uplifting segment in my opinion was the morning session which focused on Economic Empowerment. This is the Civil Right that we have just not been able to grasp as a group. Too many of our people continue to live paycheck to paycheck -- that is if they are getting a check and we have not fully grasped the concept investing and wealth-building.

Down home advise on prioritizing our goals in life were offered by columnist Michelle Singletary, and one of them that stuck out to me was her sage advise from Big Mama "If it's on your ass, it ain't an asset!" If that isn't the truth and something more of my brothers and sisters should take heed in. If you're looking for good info on economic empowerment and handling your finances check out Singletary's site.

Another sister waxing financial was Lynette Khalfani. Khalfani found her self in deep credit card debt and turned it around without filing for bancruptcy. The catch to the average joe is that she was making six figures and didn't have the bill collectors hounding her, but I'm sure you'll find sound advice on her site as well.

Rev. Floyd Flake was profound as ever when he encouraged us to take a good look at wealth building and supporting black businesses.

The afternoon session was uplifting in part because of the stellar group of individuals gathered from Harry Bellafonte to Minister Louis Farrakhan. I tell you every time I hear the Minister speak I am moved by his biblical knowledge. Saturday he really got a charge out of the audience when he stated the Bush administration lacked "testicular fortitude."

This year's symposium also served as the backdrop for the release of The Covenant with Black America, which outlines the "state" of Black America and how each individual in the black community can begin to play his part in rectifying the problems.

If you didn't catch it on C-Span Saturday, ask somebody about it and see if they taped it. It is well worth the time. Also check the Covenant site to see if the tour is coming to your community.

Getting Down to Business

Boy, I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, but not nearly enough writing! That doesn’t mean the thoughts or ideas have not been racing through my mind, so I’m going to make a commitment to myself to stay on task and at least post something every day. No matter how short I’m going to post!

The Color of Residency Laws

The Ohio Senate recently adopted a bill which prohibits municipalities, like Cleveland, from requiring their employees to reside within the city boundaries. This action has been met with opposition from Mayor Frank Jackson and many of the 21 Council members that represent the city. Mayor Jackson believes the Senate action to be unconstitutional because Ohio is a “Home Rule” state, which is supposed to mean that cities which operate under home rule are exempt from these statewide sanctions.

Others look at this as a slap in the face of Cleveland voters who overwhelmingly voted for a residency requirement more than 20 years ago. At the forefront of this debate are the City of Cleveland safety forces, particularly firefighters who have been fighting to have the requirement removed for a number of years.

My dander was raised when a press conference was held on the steps of Cleveland City Hall by the firefighters and I did not see a minority in the bunch. Not an African American, Hispanic, Asian American, just white men and women who it appears are turning their backs on the residents who pay their salaries.

They will argue that the City has turned its back on them because the school system is in deplorable shape and allegedly services are mediocre. I will not fight them on the issue of the schools, but this is a problem that has existed for more than 20 years and they were well aware of the conditions when they signed on for the job. As far as services, it has been documented that the firefighters and police officers for the most part live in the same neighborhoods. These happen to be the safest and have some of the nicest homes, because they can afford the nicest homes.

I believe that the underlying problem here is race and class. The city is becoming darker and darker every year as “white flight” has escalated leaving behind a struggling population.

I work for the City of Cleveland and had to make the choice to move into the city five years ago. It wasn’t a hard choice. I wanted my job so I found a nice house on a nice street in a neighborhood teeming with police and fire fighters.

It is my hope that the men and women in the safety forces will begin to work in the neighborhoods and with the school system to try and improve the situation for themselves and for those who do not have the ability to run.