Thursday, September 09, 2010

We, the People....

......are seriously fucked up.

What is this trajectory this country is on?? Seriously, I'm not all Pollyanna and Mary Poppins with my patriotic optimism but I never imagined I would find my country moving in such a divisive manner . Is this what having a Black president brings out of people??

This controversy over the site of the Islamic Cultural Center in lower Manhattan is appalling. Yes, men who professed to be followers of Islam commandeered planes and committed crimes against humanity so egregious it's still a sore wound for me, almost 9 years later. And yes, in the aftermath there were some who cheered because to them the hijackers were David and we were the fallen Goliath. However, that does not give us the license to condemn this project. Every religion has fanatics and extremists (wait....are there Buddhist extremists??? I don't know). The KKK claimed to be Christians. I don't see anyone protesting the building of churches near where people were lynched, brutalized, terrorized. Timothy McVeigh was raised Catholic. Are we saying that no Catholic Church or anything related to the tenets of Catholicism can be erected any where near the site of the Oklahoma City Bombing because doing so would be "insensitive"?
(Sidebar: I see no one protesting the current existence of strip joints and "massage" parlors in such close proximity to these hallowed grounds in lower Manhattan. Sooooooo, sex is okay but religion is not?? Ohhh, okay. )

This blanket condemnation has to stop. The people behind this project had NOTHING to do with the mass murders that occurred on September 11. Don't you think that if they did, the government and the media would have figured it out by now?? All they want to do is build a center that accommodates their congregation since they have outgrown the space they currently occupy (which, by the way, was already in the neighborhood). The religion itself is not responsible either. The Pope may not be happy with the way I live my life all the time but I'm still a Catholic. It's my interpretation of my faith that plays a role in how I live my life. That doesn't mean that every single Catholic in the world subscribes to my interpretation. Instead of burning the Qur'an - a book held sacred to some just as the Bible and the Torah are sacred to others, how about we read it and understand the beliefs of this religion we clearly know nothing about? In this case, knowledge is definitely power. Power against propaganda and close minded viewpoints. Don't get hoodwinked by the zealots that stirred up your fears. If so, we're doing EXACTLY what they wanted us to do. We no longer need to elect politicians, we're allowing them - the terrorists- to govern our lives. We are becoming no better than them. Why stoop to their level??

Personally, I believe the Islamic Cultural Center would be a great addition to the lower Manhattan neighborhood. It would stand as a symbol of tolerance and acceptance of diversity. A testament to not allowing the actions of a few to define the beliefs of all. If the center is built as planned, it will include a performance arts center, a childcare center, fitness center, culinary school, art studio, September 11 memorial, and a prayer space for Muslims to worship. Someone please explain to me what is so evil and insensitive about such a structure. I've tried to see the opposing points of views but it all just sounds like codes for bigotry and xenophobia. I'm almost expecting a resurgence in white hooded outfits and cross burnings. Will I be considered 3/5 of a person again? Will I be relegated to the fields picking cotton?? Will people be burned at the stake for not going to church?? How far are we taking this??

Some people do cruel unconscionable acts, all in the name of religion. Why can't the rest of us turn our backs on the hate and embrace our differences, all in the name of humanity? Isn't that what this country was founded on? If we, as a country, as a people, continue on this intolerant, insensitive, hate filled road, we will see more attacks, more divisiveness, more hate. We can't afford anymore wars. The United States essentially becomes an oxymoron and the Constitution becomes nothing more than some old piece of paper. Like Spike Lee famously admonished through the voice of Laurence Fishbourne at the end of School Daze, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKEEEEEEE UPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!

*To those who may stumble across my blog because you've set up an alert for any of the controversial terms mentioned above, respect my space. We can agree to disagree, however I won't tolerate or publish any viscious or negative attacks on me personally. I can't go for that, no can do.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


On Sunday, after dancing my wings off in the hot sun at Spike Lee's birthday party for Michael Jackson in Prospect Park, my friends and I boogied on down to a restaurant near the Brooklyn Pier. As a native New Yorker, I can say I've never been here. As many times as I've been to Brooklyn, I've never actually taken a walk down to the Brooklyn Pier. And it was absolutely beautiful. With the Brooklyn Bridge to my right, and Manhattan directly in front of me across the river, the entire setting was simply........ New York. If life had a movie soundtrack, at that moment you would have heard the instrumental piano version of Empire State of Mind quietly playing in the background. At least that's what I heard in my head while standing there. I couldn't help but smile.

My friends and I were in the area to go to some restaurant/lounge know what?? I still have no idea who or what we were there for. All I know is I was with friends and having an amazing time. LOL We get to the venue and they are playing all the music that I love. I'm dancing through the crowd like its a Sooooooooooooooul TRAIN line. This place was packed. Wall to wall beautiful browns in more colors than Crayola could invent, more flavors than in Baskin Robbins (the real Baskin Robbins ice cream store not the blog person...LOL). After about an hour of cocktails and 2 stepping to everything MJ, we FINALLY finagled a table made for 2 for our party of 4. Yeah it was that packed. Unfortunately, we were informed by a member of staff that food orders were on a moratorium for an hour. Ummmmmm, I have to wait at least 3,600 seconds BEFORE I can even tell you that all I want is an order of sweet potato fries and another cocktail??? *scratch the needle alll the way across that life soundtrack*


My girls and I hit up another popular Brooklyn hotspot for a bite to eat and people watching. We settled into a table outside (it was finally cool enough to appreciate being outside but still warm enough to make you want to linger and enjoy the evening) and were joined by 2 guys who were friends of a friend. Of course, the conversation kicked into high gear at that point. You know how it is, you put a table of men and women of a certain age and maturity, the conversation is ALWAYS going to turn to relationships. Never fails. In between bites of yummy goodness (that food was pretty tasty; never disappoints. ), we laughed, joked, and laughed some more over the nuances of dealing with the opposite sex.

Towards the end of our evening, the question was "What are 3 attributes you look for in a mate (besides aesthetics)?" Usually when questions come up like this I roll my eyes, like here we go with the bullshit. Everybody's gonna say something that sounds good, but they know they don't mean it. But lately, maybe because of my mother's illness, I've been thinking about the make up of my mystery man. As we went counter-clockwise around the table, I listened to everyone's answers and couldn't help but think, regardless of background, gender, educational pedigree, we all pretty much want the same damn thing. Everyone before me (I was last), gave answers that I nodded my affirmations to like "Yep, that's on my list too" or "Yeah, that's a good one too". But since we could only give three, here were my picks:

1. Consistency. Simply put, the tactics you use to woo me in the beginning, need to be present throughout the relationship. I'm not saying that you must take me to 3-star Michellin rated dining establishments everytime we go out to eat if that's what you did in the beginning. I'm talking about not taking me for granted. I observe a lot of relationships, and just like a career, relationships take work. At work, you can't slack off once you get the promotion. If you do, you're demoted or fired and someone else will be doing your job. Same holds true for relationships. Consistency builds trust. This is not to say that you don't or can't evolve while in a relationship. But be consistent in who you are fundamentally as a person.

2. Communicator. I need to be with someone I can have difficult conversations with. Whether it's about money, family, work, etc. it doesn't matter. It is very difficult for me to let down my guard but like consistency, communication takes work. I have to work at not only effectively speaking with my mate, I also have to work at effectively listening to him as well. I also need a mate who is willing to work at effectively communicating with me as well. Years ago, I dated a guy who was the nicest, sweetest guy I'd ever met. He was consistent, loyal, trustworthy, funny...everything you could bring home to momma. However, our ability to communicate with each other was blah. I would ask him "Oh what are you doing this weekend?" and he would respond "Oh, nothing." Eventually, I had to tell him "When you say 'nothing', I hear 'I don't want to see you." He stated that's not what he meant and couldn't understand how I interpreted his message that way. I, on the other hand, knew of no other way to interpret it. Eventually, our relationship ended. It became stagnant. I had to realize that we communicate very differently and it wasn't going to work. I also realized how important I needed communication to be in future relationships (okay, so I didn't always follow my own sage wisdom with some of the mistakes I dated afterwards, but hey you live and learn, right?! lol)

3. Ride or Die. No, I'm not talking in the literal, rap song implication. I'm not committing a crime for anybody, ya heard me?! My friends and I use this term because no matter what, we are there for each other, no questions asked. When my mom became ill and my so called immediately family wasn't there for me, I thought a lot about being with someone who would just be there for me, no questions asked. Of course, people have jobs and obligations but there were many times, I wanted someone to just be there for me, whether it was serving as a buffer between me and the dysfunction I'm related to, or reminding me I have to eat, or just holding my hand when I had to sit in my mother's room and watch a machine breath for her. Like Meth said, I wanted someone that "even when the skies are gray, you would rub me on my back and say baby, it'll be okay/that's real to a nigga like me baby". There are no guarantees in saying it will be okay, but knowing that someone is there to support and protect you is all I need to get by. Ride or Die for me is also synonymous for being adventurous or at the very least, being willing to step somewhat outside your comfort zone for that other person. I could never commit my life to someone who is soooo closed off from the world and its experiences, so boring and dull. Eat something besides chicken every single day, go ziplining through the Costa Rican forest, dance with me in the street because oooh that's our song and we don't care what these strangers walking by may say. That's what I want. No, that's what I need.

That night I left Brooklyn rejuvenated. It was as if another piece of the puzzle I call life had fit perfectly into place, clicked into the groove right before my eyes. *cue up that life soundtrack again, maestro.*