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Thursday, December 31, 2009

"African- American Me"?!!!

You know what?.... I don't Like the term "African-American". I'd rather just be called Black. Most Black People I know as well as their Parents, Grandparents, etc. Have never even BEEN to Africa. I was just sitting here wondering Who passed the Bill on declaring the term to be "Politically Correct"? No controversy intended and I don't mean to offend any Black Organizations with the term in their title...just wondering if I should answer to something that I can't explain the origin or reason for. Even my Friends from Nigeria and Ghana, Africa don't understand how a culture can be displaced from it's Origins for hundreds of years becoming it's OWN and then slapped with a tag based on a culture that it hasn't lived as for Centuries.
The truth is.... that when We as Black Americans visit Africa, We're not viewed as one of them. There's not even a "Prodigal Son" theme at play here. in Africa, Black Americans are viewed by the Citizens of Africa as "Americans". The irony to me is that over here in America, We are referred to as "African- Americans". Adjectives are usually used to describe a noun (i.e. "fuzzy peach", "hot day"). In My point of View...if You're going to describe an American as "African", then You should at least (if asked) be able to answer how that "Adjective" describes that "Noun" (PERSON,place or thing). Skin color is not a viable option unless there's a Crayon in the Big Crayola box labeled, "Africa". I know it's a mouthful but "American of African Descent" actually makes alot more sense to Me because there is scientific proof that makes this term accurate. Like they say, "It's not what You call Me but what I answer to that matters". I'm open to hearing reasons why some of You may believe this is a fitting name to describe Us. I may even re-evaluate my Point of view if presented with reasons that compel Me to do so. The truth is... some of You agree and some of You of course don't. However, no matter what Your point of view is...Your opinion matters. Please feel free to comment with your Point of View! Best Wishes and a Happy New Year to All of You!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tribute To The Man Who Walked The Moon Through Music

First of all, I'm writing this Blog solely on my memories of Michael Jackson so I ask you to forgive me if I jump back and forth in my recollection of events. I wanted this to be from the heart so I chose not to consult a Wikipedia or other source of chronological information in order to put my "Point of View" in print. As always, I'm reminding the Reader that this is just my Outlook and me Blogging how I feel about various topics.
Seems like all my life Michael Jackson has been a Household Word. I remember the 70's when "Rock With You" was at the top of the Billboard Charts...I was in Elementary School and my classmates were sneaking the "Off The Wall" album cover to class.
I can remember like it was Mom teaching me how to do "The Rock", a dance that was created to accompany the song. That was my first real memory of Michael Jackson.
Seems like that "Off the Wall" album (and the singles that were released from it) were etching themselves into the very fiber of who I was and would grow up to be although I didn't know it at the time.
I remember when "Thriller" was released. I was a little older (not much) and was able to figure out the hottest King of Pop dance steps myself. The entire world watched when the "Thriller" video was released as a mini-movie-esque Prime time record breaker. People my age (some much older) memorized the dance steps that are still classic choreography in some party circles today. Once again....the singles off the Album rocked the airwaves for what seemed like years.
Eventually, as the years went by...more Classics like "Bad" "Man in The Mirror" (Even his little part in "We are The World" before the recently mentioned hits..helped to form the very foundation on which I perceive music!!! Michael was Bad!!!
Millions of people gathered in front of their Television sets in order to view "Motown 25" and what Michael did that night....that futuristic, groundbreaking "Moonwalk" donning the "Glitter Glove" that became synonymous with the "King of Pop"...set tongues wagging for years to come!!!
For an era, sold out concerts around the World, Magazine Covers, Cutting edge, long awaited (much appreciated) Music Videos became commonplace for the man whom the media dubbed as "Jacko". America gasped at Pepsi Commercial fiasco that threatened to put the most revered performer in the World out of commission..only to be relieved that it was only a momentary setback and Michael went back to doing what he did best....delivering song and dance to the Globe that would break and set trends like no other artist ever has!!!
Consistently entertaining America..better yet...the World, Michael Jackson kept reaching higher plateaus than most of us imagined possible for years to come...Until his name became cloaked with scandal.
There was speculation and allegations in the early 90's that Michael was involved in sexually inappropriate acts with minors...namely, little boys. The Media Blitz and charges he was facing caused a dark cloud to form over the otherwise Pristine, child like Superstar that in some ways (even though charges were never proven) remained over his head for the rest of his life. Even his marriage to Priscilla Presley years earlier was rumored to be a sham, however, the sexual criminal allegations were far worse. Michael went into what seemed like exile after releasing very few hits but the Worldwide acknowledgement of his music and all his songs that could be heard on Radio Stations everywhere...even in Movie Soundtracks made sure Billions of his fans held steadfast in their adoration of the Superstar.
In recent news it seemed that a "comeback" for Michael Jackson was imminent. We were waiting for him to do what he always does...make beautiful music for generations to remember always. Regardless of what "might" have happened...We were ready to hear what "Jacko" was gonna do next.
On Thursday, June 25Th, Like a shot heard round the World..It was announced that Michael Jackson had died at age 50. The World is in mourning. I spoke to a friend in London as well as a friend in the Netherlands via "Skype" and they informed me that their countries were in a state of shock and grief that the "King of Pop" had his last breath earlier in the day.
Even as I write this...I still find it hard to believe that such a Super Talent (Who seemed like he would live forever) gone.
Even if you only look at the Music and not the Man, Michael Jackson was and will always be a Legend. He brought Decades of Music that filled our Hearts, Homes, Backyards, Walkmans and iTunes/iPods. Regardless of Scandal...The Man was Loved by so many. Speaking for myself, I will always love his music..there was so much. I will always remember his soft, quiet demeanor when he wasn't performing and the fact that he helped to shape my musical ear and assisted me in my transition from the clumsy kid who was taught "The Rock" by his Mother..into a true aficionado of Pop Culture. For that alone....I will always be grateful to Michael Jackson... The "King of Pop", "Moonwalker" "Jacko" or whatever you choose to call him. He'll always be Music to Me and the World will miss him but never stop playing his Music. Rest in Heavenly Peace Michael!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Embracing Our Diversity

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect.
It means understanding that each individual is unique,
and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along
the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs,
political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration
of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.
It is about understanding each other and moving beyond
simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the
rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

It appears that in America, we are finally gravitating towards a "cohabitation" of sorts that I'm finally beginning to feel comfortable with. I really hope we continue this progress until we reach a point where we ALL feel free to be ourselves. I hope and pray we really do become a "Free Zone". Some may find this to be a "Pollyanna" outlook but when you look at how far we've's not so far fetched. We once lived in an era where Women and Blacks were not allowed to vote. Slavery and the cruelty that went with it was not only condoned but encouraged. Millions of Jews were murdered simply for their race and/or beliefs. Gays were forced to hide in obscure, dark places in order to be together. There was no such thing as Higher Education for the Poor. People with mental illnesses were put away and forced to live in inhumane conditions for the remainder of their lives. The list of crimes against humanity went on and on.

Today, we all have certain inalienable rights that protect us from such unfairness and cruelty. I don't know about you...but it looks like we've come a long way, I call that Progress.

We should give credit where it is due. Take a look at who's in the White House...that says alot.

I pray that we continue to speak out against injustice, racism and discrimination and embrace not only what makes us different but what makes us the same........Humanity!!!

An Ode To The Upper East Side

I had just gotten in from a Day's work last week when my phone rang and it was a good friend of mine calling to invite me out to Dinner. I had already gotten undressed and was in my Boxers and a T-Shirt but the idea of meeting her in the City for Dinner was really appealing. We hadn't seen each other in a very long time, although we talk on the phone almost daily. It was still relatively early so without hesitation..I gladly accepted the invitation.
I freshened up, threw on some Blue Jeans and a pair of Nike's and was on my way into Manhattan (from Staten Island) within the hour. The plan was to meet her at her Job, she was scheduled to punch out at 6:30p.m. I had gotten there just in time and was pleased to be in Manhattan's Upper East Side (East 80's at @ 2ND Avenue). The warm Spring air, the busy streets, a plethora of different aromas emanating from all the different Restaurants was so intoxicating to me. At first we were going to eat at "Trata's" but then decided we would just play it by ear.
We walked a few blocks then we approached a "Big Daddy's Burger". I was instantly drawn to it's casual. colorful all American atmosphere. They also offered outdoor dining which is what my friend and I were really in the mood for..this way we could enjoy the Spring air and take in the eclectic New York scenery. All kinds of people from all different walks of life, people walking their exotic dogs or very unique and interesting mixed breeds with lots of personality.
The Yellow Taxi cabs picking up and dropping off everyone from the young urban hipster to chic, swanky, sophisticated artsy types and even the local construction workers seemed to be silently, inwardly humming the tune of the East 80's that we all seemed to hear. We took a table for two out on the sidewalk and were greeted by Suzy, a wonderful young waitress with a style all her own.She was petite with blue eyes, blond hair, twisted dreadlocks and a look authenticated in the "Big Apple".
After looking at the colorful menu, Toeny (my friend) and I both decided on a Cheddar Cheeseburger that was stacked with avocado, bacon, romaine lettuce, ripe tomato with a side of Tater Tots and coleslaw. She ordered medium well and I of course..medium rare.
We ordered drinks and as we waited for our food I was pleased with the way people seated near us as well as the pedestrians walking by would smile and nod hello...some even spoke and greeted us warmly. I was amazed at all this because I was born and raised in New York. This is a Borough known for the surliness and constant "I'm in a hurry" attitude of it's inhabitants.
I've spent lots of time in Harlem, Times Square, Greenwich Village, Brooklyn and The Bronx.
However, this area seemed like it had been hidden from me all my New York life and I couldn't help but be amazed at the almost musical under current that permeated the air here. When our food had arrived after our pleasant exchanges with the diners surrounding us as well as the warm and friendly waitress , Suzy...I proceeded to enjoy the best Burger I had eaten in years (not to mention the biggest).
After an enjoyable meal, allot of laughs between Toeny and myself and taking in all that the area had to offer, we decided to take a leisurely walk to the Subway instead of taking a Taxi. I noticed so many things in this amazing Metropolis, A huge selection of all kinds of fine dining, Movie theaters, Gyms, Retail clothing and shoe stores (Victoria's Secret, Aldo and much, much more). The beautiful Men and Women of all races, sizes, backgrounds and various "Modes De Vie".
I was almost sad to be leaving not only the great company of my friend, Toeny... but the warm, inviting embrace of my newly found friend.....Manhattan's Upper East Side.
The whole thing was a beautiful experience that was an unexpected surprise to me. I made a mental note and promise to myself that I would make it to this part of town as often as i can this Summer. To pursue a love affair with my latest satisfy the curiosity and re-visit this place where everybody may not know your name..but you feel as though they do. I want to walk by "Jack Russell's" Pub ...where right across the street some one's walking their pampered Jack Russell Terrier. The smell of Souvlaki intermingled with Curry from the Indian Restaurant right up the Block. The long line of friends and lovers waiting to see "The Hangover" outside a local Movie Theater. This is my New York...this is my "Upper East Side". I must admit...I think I'm in Love. Cheers!!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Interacial Dating?... We have the Right!!!

I was on a Gay Forum site that discusses various topics and I happened to come across a thread started by an individual who seemed to be a little vehement in expressing his distaste for Black Men and White Men dating each other. This is what he had to say:

"I know people inter racially date all the time , either it be gay, straight, men, women, whatever ..... I can tolerate interracial dating and although black men have the highest rates of inter racially dating, I can still tolerate it to an extent BUT not when it comes to black guys dating white guys. I guess the issue is further and I'll explain why ..... firstly, slavery. slavery being that it was the white mans territory to fulfill his hatred and jealousy of black men and even have his way with black men sexually and forced.. utterly disgusting.. during slavery, Slave masters used to Castrate black men (means cut their dick off) CASTRATE BLACK MEN ! It's so sickening... with all the years of abuse and torture, it's so demeaning to see a black guy with a white guy fulfilling his Mandingo fantasy's ! When I see white men lusting black guys I think "your white male ancestors were beating the shit out of black men and castrating them and now you want his 'big black d#*k" ... it's so demeaning because of the relationship and history in America between black and white males... even til this day, the white man still holds black men down and I hate that sh*t, that's why interracial dating between white and black guys is just so degrading in my eyes to black men.... you can agree with me or not, but this is just the way I see it"!!!

I found this to be ignorant to the point that it was almost Metaphoric so I replied to his post with:

"Wow!!!! How many different ways are Brothers like you gonna milk this topic?!!! Okay, you don't have a right to your opinion, however, we can't hold people accountable for the actions of their ancestors..only their own. Personally, as long it's 2 consenting adults, I don't give a damn what color they are. What people choose to do in their bedroom is their business and nobody Else's. While your spewing the bitterness of Christmas past..they're living and loving and not bound up by bigotry. Who can blame Whites for having "Mandingo Fantasies"? I love the fact that Brothers are at the Top of the list for sexual prowess and satisfaction, therefore desirable to ALL races..even our own!!! We've come a long way Baby, Highest paid Hollywood Actor- Will Smith
Highest Paid Pro-Golfer- Tiger Woods. Highest paid Talk show Host- Oprah Winfrey. President of the United States- Barack Obama!!! We are no longer slaves and we have the right to to exercise our freedom to screw who we want (provided that it's legal and safe)!!! You should stop being a slave who is whipped and chained to your refusal to acknowledge our progress. Even if my Great Grandpa was a serial killer...It doesn't make me guilty of murder. I suggest you dig deeper because I suspect there's a larger systemic dysfunction at play...Live and let live....Yes We Can"!!!

As usual...I end with...this is all just my point of view. We can not justify Racism in this day and age. Just because we are African American, Jewish or even Klingon for that matter doesn't mean there's an "entitlement" to be bigoted or biased based on one's skin color, nationality, sexual preference or religion. I despise double standards. If we don't want to be judged..then we shouldn't judge anyone ourselves.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Internet is Killing True Romance

It all started when I turned on my PC and my Yahoo Instant Messenger contact list popped up automatically signing me in when the reality of of my social life punched me right in the gut.
Somewhere in the midst of this new age that we're in, this world of Social Networks like, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Linkedin, E-Harmony. Adam4Adam and other dating and/or Sex sites....we've lost sight of a very important aspect of American culture..meeting people face to face the good old fashioned way. He would be in the produce section in Pathmark, picking through tomatoes to find one without bruises for his Roast beef and Pepper Jack on Whole Wheat and she would would be searching for the perfect bag of apples that were just the right color to use as the main ingredient to her Grandma's famous Apple Pie recipe for Sunday dinner dessert. They would back away from their respective sections and accidentally bump into each other. He would stutter and smile as he apologized and she would demurely let him know that it was okay. This would subsequently lead to slightly uncomfortable small talk eventually giving way to light-hearted banter, laced with lingering eye contact or a subtle touch that lasted a second too long. In the end they exchange numbers and eventually....he takes her out to Dinner and a Movie.
One Date leads to another (if the first date was good) and the two get more comfortable and they eventually end up in bed. If the Sex is good and they're compatible...this leads to more sex and sometimes even love.
In recent times, chance encounters like this have become the exception rather than the norm.
Nowadays it's more common to log into a site, view a profile offering a persons stats (Height, weight, race, religion, interests etc.). If the "Member" finds these stats appealing they express their interest (In many different ways, depending on the site and the individual) to the person whose profile they've "scanned" or "thought was really Hot"!!!
The ritual continues when the other party receives this notification and in return "Scans" their admirer. If they're not interested...with the click of a button (or no action at all). They convey their lack of interest (in some cases disgust), However, if the opposite occurs and they reciprocate the attraction , It leads to a series of spasmodic correspondence between the two. She says she's 10 lbs. lighter than she actually is and he adds an inch or 2 to his height. They both swear they have to have the other and begin fantasizing about the Movie themed eventual meeting (for her: "When Harry Met Sally", for him: "9 1/2 Weeks"!!!
Soon they meet... One always tends to find nothing but flaw, meanwhile the other overlooks the obvious embellishment to certain physical attributes. In some cases (RARELY) the couple end up the same way the first pair in the Supermarket does...Blissfully happy (or at least comfortable with one another to some degree) but more often, they are quick to give up on trying to make something of this "not so random" pairing.
I believe that this is due to how easily they can dismiss their date, log in again, and go back to the old drawing board. The Internet has removed the natural progression of things by reducing people to screen names and their stats, whereas once upon a time...people would attempt to work through differences of opinion while learning to agree to disagree. Learning what makes the other "Tick", growing towards a rewarding co-existence with one another.
Some of us have become accustomed to deleting someone from our friend list and essentially..our lives. We look for perfection where once upon a time we only wanted compatibility.
My question is...while we "delete" people in search of that perfect, exquisite, supreme human being..what the Hell are we offering? Who are we to demand rock-hard abs as we lug around a spare tire? insist on someone with a 6 figure salary and yet you're behind on various Utility Bills? Wanting the Model on the cover of "Vogue", "Essence" or "G.Q." when we barely make the cut for the cover of "Soldier of Fortune" or even "Readers Digest" for that matter?
I miss the old days of realistic (but not lowered) expectations. The days when relationships were based on how well we communicate, the things we have in common, physical attraction (of course) and just plain old liking someone who you can very well grow to love. If it didn't work out...we got dressed, got up, got out and socialized...maybe even bumping into that "special someone" in the produce aisle again. The truth is, I doubt we'll ever find anything worthwhile if we don't work at it. While we're busy "deleting" possible happiness in search of Nirvana...we are also deleting the chances of finding someone we can truly be happy with. What our parents and everyone had before Internet Dating. In closing...who are we to expect flawlessness when we don't have it to offer. Just something us "Internet Dating Aficionados" should give a little thought to. as usual...this is just my point of view.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Love and Friendship

I was talking to a close friend of mine today and she shared that she had gotten into a "feel space" about some of her other friends. Apparently she's going through a transition (which most of us go, through, sometimes repeatedly, after 30). Where one evaluates their accomplishments, shortcomings, family hierarchy and of course love and friendship.
Throughout the years I've formed what seems to be like hundreds of relationships.. be it friends, family, colleagues and what I believe can be the most traumatizing....lovers. I've experienced (and sometimes still do) the desire to actually "will" a relationship into a bond that will always be pleasant and last forever, only to come to the disappointing realization that it won't.
It seems that whenever I placed that "BFF" badge on someone, there's an unrealistic expectation that I'd place on the poor fool, and as I've learned where there are expectations..make room for disappointment (there goes that word again)!!!
Moving along, some of you can identify with the euphoria of falling in Love (romantic relationships) just having that unwavering belief that "This is the one"!!! Only to subsequently realize that indeed they are not. Knock down drag-outs with parents and siblings are usually also incorporated into the heartburn inducing pot of "Relationship Gumbo" we've been brewing for years. Sometimes we wonder, "Is it my fault that these bonds are often tarnished or in some cases broken"?
After over 2 decades of this recurring "wet, lather, rinse and repeat", in a long awaited moment of clarity, (some moments last longer and are more revealing than others) I finally had an epiphany or a breakthrough if you will.
The startling revelation that I had was...this is the way it's supposed to be!!!
Everyone that has ever come into your life was placed there for a reason. Each relationship is designed to teach us something, no matter how trivial the lesson may be, They are ALL important. It takes more than one failed love (sometimes many) to mold us and shape us into individuals who are equipped to give and receive love. I've learned something from EVERY lover..even if the lesson is merely learning what I don't want in a lover. Our friends are not placed on this earth to do our bidding and "Yes" us to death. They're barometers that can see in us what we often don't see in ourselves. It's human nature to want love in our lives, however, we have to understand that when we form bonds with someone that they are just as complex and individual as we are. Not all relationships are meant to last forever. Sometimes we're just meant to hold a hand down a particular path and let go at the end of it until someone comes along to lend a hand down the next one. None of our past connections were a waste of time unless you didn't derive the valuable life lesson or opportunity to grow that's attached to it.
Embrace who you are as an individual, love yourself, accept yourself. Eventually you'll find that loving and accepting others for who they are have become second nature. The payoff form bonds and friendships that are with you through many paths and the "walk" becomes more interesting. Be fair and open minded...this way you learn the most about yourself, the person with whom a lasting relationship with is the most important. I accept you, I embrace doing so, I embrace Me!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

"The Ugliest Beauty Pageant Winner Ever"

I'm gonna start this off by saying that 2009 has so far been a year of progress and positive change.
We have a new, African American (or at least mostly) President. Gay marriage/Civil unions are being made legal at a rate some of us would never have imagined possible and intercultural cohabitation has reached a "This Land is Our Land" level of comfort.
Imagine my disappointment when Beauty Pageant (Miss California) winner, Carrie Prejean begins spewing ignorance, bigotry and discriminating comments within her highly publicized speech(Which by the way was supported by Bad Hair Day Spokesmodel, Donald Trump),She made statements that speak harshly against Gay marriage and gays having the right to adopt children. Adding insult to injury, she iterates (with a Shit-eating expression) that the President, (Barack Obama) shares in this belief.
I couldn't help but instantly feel a strong dislike for this woman who has become California's celebrated Village Idiot. She later goes on to say in a press conference (which aired later) that if Americans share this belief with her, as long as they say "no offense" it's okay to say it. (WTF)?!!!
Carrie Prejean then not only reiterated that Obama shares this outlook but Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as well. Let me just say that if the American Majority had this narrow minded point of view, there wouldn't be an African American President or a female Secretary of State!!!
Miss Prejean has been foolished dubbed as the "Biblically Correct" Miss California yet what seems like minutes later, out comes her "See my Tits" photos!!! Where in the Old or New Testament is that Biblically correct?!!
She then goes on to insult ALL Americans by blaming the exposure of her breasts on the wind that day, claimimg she didn't know those photos were being taken...yet it's painfully obvious she proudly posed for them. If she's opposed to Gay rights ...that's okay. I just find it reprehensible that she uses a public platform to promote and "recruit" others to join her in that belief. It's toxic and sets us as a country back at least 30 years. I have faith that this socially retarded idividual (Prejean) is gonna end up being reduced to nothing more than SNL/MadTV spoof material.
I've posted several links on Twitter that point directly to Prejean's, inconsistency, dishonesty, hypocrisy and stupidity. Another beautiful aspect of the progress we've made in America is to project our voices throughout the world via internet. Her freedom of speech is also freedom for me. Let's continue to grow in our tolerance, understanding and even appreciation for those who are different.This is America...Carrie Prejean should be viewed as nothing more than a typographical error or a faulty stitch in this beautiful "American Quilt" that we all (Knowingly or otherwise) contribute to. Let's keep moving forward as a whole and really become one nation under God.