and a lil b. scott for your life:
lemon grass coconut soup
friends who encourage me
coworkers who actually get it
new bed linens
any and all french fries
lime and cucumber
ill doctrine is great. see below:
on alicia keys & paranoia
some of mlk's other quotables
rappers + steroids = foolishness
i have such a crush on jay smooth, just on the strength. tsk, tsk.
also: go check out gordon gartrell radio, courtesy of dj brainchild and phonte from little brother.
but if you fux with puppets, then this is for you!
don't hate on alisa peoples' fashions, either.
i wanna wear some shit like that to a dinner party. killin em.
in my two years in this area of philadelphia, i've experienced y'all in various settings: the ethio restaurants, an array of porch gatherings, on the trolley, and the local plexiglass chinese food spot.
the chinese food spot is kind of a holy grail of around-the-way-ness. it is probably the last thing east of 52nd street (what is now the border according to the university city district ppl, o'donnell realty, and everyone else who wants to buy up houses) to really imply what this particular portion of west philly used to be: the teetotal motherfucking all-the-way hood. trees, three-story victorians, and random hippies be damned. ten to fifteen years ago, if your zip code ended in 43 or 42, pretty much all of your neighbors were black (and you probably were too). and your dining options kind of revolved around places that were take-out only, or were so grimy that you made your to go. like this place. it's just a stone's throw from my apartment, and though i used to frown continually at it, i made my peace with lucky's. why? because garden court isn't really where i'm tryna go at 1:30 in the morning. it's too far for the post-club, post-weed, post-booze munchies. so, i've become a bit of a repeat customer at the joint.
and you have, too, white folks. i see y'all: someone brought a table and chair in, presumably so more of y'all can sit inside and chatter while you wait or so y'all can 'dine-in.' & there are menu items like sesame tofu, general tso's tofu, and veggie egg rolls (all of which were brand spanking new when i first started hanging out around here 4 years ago) that i'm most certain that the former usual patrons of this establishment would have never requested. great! sometimes i want my tofu fried in the same exact grease as the chicken wings, fish, fries, chicken-on-a-stick and hamburgers too. it gives it that extra panache that regular deep frying just doesn't. i'm thankful for the varying ways in which i can indulge my bourgeoisie leanings even when i'm fresh off some drinks or a late night out, or just want sour patch watermelon candy.
but let me tell y'all somethin white folks:
lucky's will always be the most hood of hood spots, for as long as it's open. so will that hell pit on willows next to the brew pub, and that piece of shit that sells tokens illegally on catherine street. know why? because if they need plexiglass to stay in business, that means there's a certain caliber of food you're not eating. there's no quality. it's on some fast food shit, only they make everything to order. fine dining establishments are not giving you cheese fries or canned pineapple in takeout containers. they just aren't.
you look like a dickhead standing on baltimore avenue eating your $3 meal with chopsticks. stop that shit. i know it may feel authentic to you, but you just look like an authentic simpleton.
you aren't slick, ordering grape dutches and swedish fish to go with your sesame tofu. wtf do you think that blunt flavoring is made out of? and the gelatinous properties of your candy? the same pork that's in the grease they fried your bean curd in!
and another thing: leave your fucking teacup yorkie outside. i don't want dog hair with my deep fried death. that'd just put it over the top.
thembi's lady laws for black women (with my notes in italics):
1. Stay Off Of The Pole. And For That Matter, Out Of Videos. I haven’t decided whether or not I have a real problem with strippers or strip clubs in general - who am I to say that men shouldn’t be allowed to gather in a public place and expose their inability to be fully intimate with their spouses by fondling and ogling some stray woman? What I do know is that YOU shouldn’t be one of said strays. Letting your body be drool-worthy for a room full of men cheapens and degrades you, and in the long run is not at all worth the money (no matter how pressed you are for cash). You never know who will be in that club, and when the "I saw Keisha on the pole!" story is told, your future boss or uncle who was "just in there with his boys" won’t be the shamed one, you will! If you like showing off your sexy side, which all of us should, save it for the right man, who will love enjoying all of the freaknasty you have inside of you without having to pay for it on a dollar-by-dollar basis. Someone will always do it, just don't let that someone be you. The same goes for being in videos. That is NOT a profession and will not lead to any sort of meaningful career, modeling or otherwise. A ho is a ho, root word whore, meaning sex for sale, and your stuff is priceless. Got it? [my note: this ties directly into lady law #8. if you're gonna strip, you're gonna strip. but don't walk out of the shaky butt feeling like someone has managed to get more out of you than what they've paid for. unfortunately, we all know about becoming a sex worker (i include strippers in that) to pay for tuition and to feed babies. in my opinion, there are a few social issues that come into play when it comes to dancing vs. working 3 jobs or whatever. i kinda doubt that most of the women who might need this caveat even read thembi's blog. but she makes a damn valid point: your future boss might be there with his boys. then what do you do? sometimes, the immediate need outweighs any potential fallout. especially when it comes to maintaining the roof over your head and that of your family. ultimately, though, shame/ embarrassment seem to tie directly into whether or not you fully own your history and present. living with no regrets usually involves being unabashedly yourself, which leads us into lady law #2.]
2. Go Where No Blackgirl Has Gone Before. The obvious interpretation of the title of my blog is that I think that I’m some Jesus figure. Not so. Actually, the very weekend before I started blogging, loyal commenter Aaliyah was at an almost all-white party filled with beefy frat boys and was asked to do a kegstand. At her side were two other friends of mine, one of which said to her "What would Thembi do?" The obvious answer – go where no black girl has gone before and do the freaking keg stand! It really IS ok to be you, whether it’s as trivial as going snowboarding or as major as pursing a PhD in Greek Mythology. Do the most random or ridiculous things you feel like doing even if you’re not technically supposed to do them, and do them at all times. The same goes for rock concerts, tattoo conventions, playing the accordion, or whatever! Being a blackgirl comes with a unique set of baggage - on the one hand, we’re accustomed to being a minority in almost any situation a million times over. On the other hand, we feel like there are certain places and activities that aren't "ok" for us. Forget all of that, risk ostracization, and trailblaze for us all. We can’t keep saying "But blackgirls don’t _______" or else we’ll never do anything at all. Be YOU, regardless of whatever skin tone, sorority, thickness, neighborhood, or whatever you may be a part of. None of it is as fresh as plain old blackgirl you. [ummmm, BASICALLY. do what you want to do because it makes you feel tingly and warm all over. screw what everyone else thinks your blackness makes you. you're yourself. period. it feels good to own and love your whole self. there's nothing like it.]
3. DON’T Get Pregnant, DO Have A Baby. When people say "Life Is Short," they really mean that life is short – when you’re unencumbered. Life is really, really long when you’re tied down to some dude who seemed great when you were sixteen years old but hasn’t even made it through his baby boy years when it’s time to send junior off to middle school. In fact, it can even seem too long when you start to calculate the potential unpaid child support, the number of times you tried to "make it work for the baby", and the time you’ll spend child rearin’ instead of actually growing up, getting degrees, and making a name for yourself. Not to say you can't have a baby early and have it all turn out rosy in the end, but howsabout having children with someone who can actually agree to be with you in a family unit for the long haul whether or not you just happen to get pregnant? Sidenote: It should go without saying, but why even risk diseases by not protecting yourself? A baby is not the only gift that keeps on giving, you know. [again, the women who probably need to at least be exposed to this concept are not reading thembi's blog. unless thembi is posting her blog for the world on blackplanet or in the back covers of teri woods 'novels' so folks can at least impede their hurtling toward disaster. *shrug* you can't win 'em all.]
4. Know Your Own Hair. Black women have more hair options than almost anyone else, and we exercise them to the fullest. But even those of use who switch from weave to ponytail and from blonde to red would never dare to wear our natural hair in public. I can spend the whole day running errands and not see one blackgirl without a perm, and the same goes for watching television or opening a magazine. What is up with that? Granted, I went natural the easy way with the Philly soul thing being at my heart and a head of naps that never really took a perm quite right, but what pains me is when another blackgirl says to me "I love your hair! How long did it take to grow? I could never get my hair to be that texture. How did you do it?" The reality of it is, most of us don’t even know what is growing out of our own heads, and its very sad. Not one other group of people on this planet can say the same. It’s fine if you settle on a perm or some braids or even a Jheri curl after exploring your options, just get to the point where you can say that you know what your natural hair even looks and feels like before you aspire to be Beyonce by default. [it is IMPORTANT to know what your hair is really about. it is really important to style, care for, manage, and possibly even cut your own hair YOURSELF. dependency on a stylist is kinda, like, not cute. no matter what your choice of hair is. if you've got a natural and only ever wear microbraids or wigs or weaves because your hair is 'ugly underneath that' SOMETHING IS WRONG. love yourself enough to know how to do specifically what you want for yourself at all times. it's a liberating feeling.]
5. Get Out Of Town. I’ve met young women who have never left their cities, seen the ocean, or even set foot in another zip code. It’s not always cheap, and it’s not always fun, but the sooner you start traveling the better. In fact, this Lady Law applies to almost everyone of every race and gender. Make a list of dream locations and get started as soon as possible. The more time you spend in the same surroundings the less you understand about the world, and for that matter, what the world thinks of you – you’ll learn that you’re not trapped after all. Besides, you can’t conquer the world if you don’t know what’s out there, and it should be your goal to conquer it! Let the trailer trash of West Virginia confuse Mexicans with Spaniards and believe that Africa is a country and not a continent. Learn your world because it is yours to learn, even if you have to do so only an inch at a time. [i used to feel bad about not having hit every country i've wanted to by age 25. but then i met someone who's never spent a night in a hotel (even in his own city, which can still be fun and eye opening depending on where you stay), never even been to the airport (cuz his ppl never go anywhere or do shit), and was so amazed at my proclivity toward traveling to nyc on a whim that he nearly pissed his pants at the chance to go himself. i got over that feeling of inadequacy. i am gonna go where i wanna go at every given chance. this year: a conference in harlem, caribana in toronto, quality time w/ the fam at the jersey shore (you aren't a philadelphian without it), and a good girlfriend of mine is moving to atlantic city. it doesn't take a lot, except maybe a plan or at the very least the real genuine true desire. things happen for us all at the right time, when they need to happen. no need to rush to be amelia earhart, but you most certainly need to get out of your zip code. not not just to go to court.]
6. Don’t Get Called Out of Your Name. I’m not on this whole "we were queens" tip, but I know that none of us should be called or let ourselves be called any of the following: bitch, ho, trick, and on and on and on. Don’t sing along with songs about "makin' it rain" unless it's for the sake of irony. Don’t even participate in anything misogynistic unless you know it’s only a joke to you, and even then don’t ever pay for it. Recognize that just like when he talks about selling crack you're not selling crack, that when some rapper talks about his hoes he doesn’t mean you, download that song from Limewire, and keep it moving. And lastly, never, EVER call yourself anyone’s "baby’s momma." My first encounter with an ex’s grown BM involved her introducing herself to someone as such, and as much evidence as I may have already had that she was feeble-minded, giving herself that label sealed the deal. Don't be that broad. [context means everything, y'all. formal introductions should not ever in your life or your former partner's life include the words 'baby's mama' or any variant. that shit's not cute. my mom occasionally refers to my estranged father as her baby daddy because she thinks it's funny. she generally refers to him as her ex. big difference. also, the context within which we use the words bitch, ho, trick, etc. means a lot. a lot. if you're at a drag ball, bitch is thrown around liberally. it's culture. it's context. watch yourself.]
7. Act White. I won’t bother justifying this term because you all know just what I mean. Talk white by speaking the King’s English, using full sentences, and the most intricate vocabulary you can muster. Act white by doing well in school, participating in any activity that suits you, and playing musical instruments. Don’t worry, you will never, ever actually BE white. If it were possible, don’t you think that all of those people who were lynched and beaten back in the day would have white-acted their way out of it? [i am a second-generation 'oreo'. my mom said they used to call her white girl for being so precise with her english, and it's definitely managed to rub off on me and my two sisters. it's so serious that i have charged myself with the task of learning perfect, unaffected spanish so that i sound the best i possibly can to native speakers. i'm not playing. i know my vernacular, i have my moments where i'm like 'you ain't shit!' or whatever. but when it comes time for that good code-switching i learned in my school days (penn charter and project learn STAND UP!), i go toe to toe with the best. furthermore, i've always believed that excellent grades are the ultimate smack in the face to the very white ppl whom your brown/ black/ red/ yellow peers can't stand. fuck what the other black kids are telling you. strive to get that perfect score on the SAT's. i took AP art history senior year. it was liberating, despite being the only black student in the class. again: be unafraid of your whole self.]
8. Get What You Deserve Without Worrying About What He Deserves. This is a weird one. All too often women say "I’m not giving it up to him, he doesn’t deserve it!" But what do YOU want? While it’s not smart to just go giving it up to any old body, getting caught up in the idea that your sexual desires should be based on what men deserve is the exact opposite of feminism. If we only had sex when men deserved it we would be a bunch of bitter, mean, deprived wenches. Learning and maintaining the balance between withstanding pressure from dudes and getting yours is part of becoming a real woman. [get yours, boo. GET IT. you want to fuck the guy or gal who delivers the milk to your supermarket? does she or he meet or exceed your standards for an acceptable fuck buddy? nobody said you had to marry the motherfucker. go on and make it happen. if you make everyone jump through a bunch of hoops when you aren't trying to go far with their ass to begin with, you may find yourself bothered with the lack of good sex in your life. the key: having and maintaining real standards. truuuuust me. i had a dope boy as a fuck buddy. i never let him talk much, cuz he wasn't the smartest. but he met the standards: ready, willing, able, clean penis, proximity to my home, a deep love for cunnilingus. my standards have since changed, as have i. but y'all get the point. there's a difference between sleeping with someone who's a total waste of your time/ energy and getting yours from someone who simply isn't the boo of your dreams while still being a great sex partner. really.]
9. Don’t Eat That Mess. Our country is facing an obesity epidemic, yadda yadda blah blah. But it’s all so very real, ladies, and I’m as guilty as the next chick. The thing is, you can get fat and out of shape eating regular food and that’s damning enough. It’s the Chinese Store chicken wings and fries (saltpepperketchup or no), grape soda, chips, quarter water, or other mess. If you can believe for one second that AIDS or crack was planted in the black community to kill us, what do you think Crown Fried Chicken is here for? And your body may be able to metabolize it before you hit 25, but after that it's just a quick ride to Lane Bryant once you get addicted, so don't do it. [she is NOT LYING. 'regular' to most ppl is hyperprocessed foolishness that comes wrapped in plastics and wax paper and shit, then goes in the microwave. and that's just what you eat at home. not a good look. i live in a walking city, yet we used to be the fattest city in the nation. the problem: most of us are walking to get junk food. i have a warm(er) weather routine: walk at least 1 mile each weekday, whether it's on lunch hour or on the way to work or on the way home. it's at least a weight maintenance measure. the next issue is making sure i don't get high and wander about in search of wings and cookies at midnight when my ass needs to (a) be asleep or (b) eat a damn apple and go to sleep. the munchies are real shit. i think this city is also full of potheads who will eat anything that isn't nailed down. it's unfortunate, but true. if you have a crazy work schedule like mine, it's super easy to do takeout instead of cooking. it's pricey, though. and depending on where you live, you may only be able to get junk. the key is balance.]
10. Be A Lady. I have never been the most ladylike of blackgirls and most women like me can trace that to our upbringings, but it’s really very simple. It’s very natural for us to speak loudly, but it’s more powerful when used in small doses, just like hot sauce. Making that lip smack before you start speaking is not cute either, especially if it’s followed by a "weeeeeeeeaaaaal," twist of your neck, and then whatever it is that you have to say. By doing that, not only have you butchered the word "well," but whatever you have to say is eclipsed by that attempt to get attention and gear up like you need prep time just to speak your mind. Swearing every other word may be cute to around-the-way boys but if you ever want to get off of the block (see Lady Law #5), it won’t do you any good. Although every once in a while another female may make your blood boil, fighting is not cute – just think, aren't you way too pretty to get into a fight and get some gash across your face? I don’t think I need to caution young blackgirls on good grooming because we’re good at that, but do you really need to let all of that unravel just because some girl is talking about you? What does that even really mean? Like Katt Williams says, if you’ve got fourteen haters, you need to find a way to get sixteen! [i've never fought someone who didn't hit me first. i'll never be the one who advises a friend to go slap the shit out of someone -- that just is not my style. i believe in maintaining my relative freedom by not getting locked up. i also think it's lame to fight someone when you have a job, or rent to pay, or kids to feed. then again, anyone who needs to consider this probably isn't reading my blog. next up: lenée's life skills classes. after doula training/ certification and a bit more day jobbing.]
i think he's onto something. it's a 3 year old article but it really resonated with me. especially considering creflo dollar's recent senate probe situation, it seems as relevant as ever . . .
Everyone from Harold Bloom to George Will to Cornel West has publicly lamented the moral status of the hip-hop generation. Now it's the 'New Black Church' insulting us -- but why?
In a desperate attempt to fend off boredom, I found myself at home on a recent Saturday afternoon flipping through television channels in search of a diversion. After a few minutes, I stopped at one of the local public access stations, which was re-broadcasting a Sunday service from one of the area's largest and most popular churches.
By the time I tuned in, a middle-aged preacher was nearing the climax of his sermon entitled "The Lost Generation." "Kids growing up today don't care about nothin' and nobody," he insisted while dabbing a silk handkerchief against his chin to save his Armani suit from his own sweat, "All they want to do is party and have fun."
In spite of my instincts, I continued to listen as he enumerated the faults of the current generation of "hip-hoppers" who have apparently cornered the market on sin. "Hedonistic," "selfish," "materialistic," and "lazy" were just a few of the labels that the preacher assigned to my generational cohorts. After a few minutes, I could no longer suffer his rhetorical assault and changed the channel.
Still, I continued to replay the comments in my mind throughout the ensuing week, struggling to figure out why I was so unsettled. After all, everyone from Harold Bloom to George Will to Cornel West to my own momma has publicly lamented the moral status of youth culture. Why would I care so much about a random preacher? After a few days of reflection, the answer hit me.
According to much of America's ostensible moral leadership -- both religious and secular -- the hip-hop generation (those born between 1965 and 1984) is no longer in possession of the values, beliefs, and traditions that have sustained our predecessors. In its place, it is argued, stands a selfish and hedonistic individualism that prevents our moral and social development.
Unlike many of my peers, I can accept that analysis on its face, although I tend to resist the romantic version of the past in which it is often grounded. What troubled me, however, was that the stance was articulated by a preacher, who was representing the perspectives and interests of the "New Black Church."
By "New Black Church," I am referring to the current configuration of mainline black Christianity. The New Black Church, which has taken its current shape over the past two decades, is the progeny of civil rights-era movements, but can be distinguished by its increased materialism, questionable theology, and dubious politics.
While this description is certainly not exhaustive -- the erasure of denominational boundaries and resurgence of neo-Pentecostalism (spirit-filled charismatic worship) are also critical features of the New Black Church -- it speaks directly to the contradictions between the New Black Church's own practices and its critiques of the hip-hop generation, which have been used to fuel the current moral panic.
As a full-fledged member of the hip-hop generation, the shibboleth of "keepin' it real" that informs my worldview made it difficult for me to accept the preacher's commentary, because I knew that it was coming from a profoundly hypocritical place. Who was he, or anyone from the New Black Church for that matter, to diss us for having strayed from the supposed path?
Of course, I am not suggesting that the truth-value of the New Black Church's critiques is necessarily compromised by its own contradictions. To do so would not only be a logical fallacy, but also ignores the fact that Christian faith is grounded in the belief that flawed messengers can send right and exact messages.
Although the New Black Church's claims to moral authority are certainly betrayed by these contradictions, the larger issue is about its role in replicating, reiterating, and resonating the same ideologies and practices that its critiques are intended to disrupt.
This suggests that the hip-hop generation is not as directionless as others would have us believe. Rather, we are following the flawed moral compass of the very people waging generational war against us.
Money Ain't a Thing
Since the beginning of hip-hop's "ice age," circa 1994, showboating has been a linchpin of the culture. In today's industry, no commercial rapper worth his salt appears in a video without the necessary accoutrements: shiny jewelry, expensive cars, designer clothes and large homes.
Hip-hop's baller elite have even graduated to mainstream commerce, selling everything from sneakers to energy drinks. To be sure, such decadence lends legitimacy to claims of wanton materialism and consumerism among the hip-hop generation. Yet, a brief survey of the New Black Church's leadership would yield a remarkably similar conclusion.
Hip-hop's obsession with "flossing" and "stunting" (showing off) is matched only by the New Black Church's flair for the ostentatious. Many of today's superstar preachers are similarly lavish in their public appearances. For example, televangelist Creflo Dollar (real name!) drives a Bentley and owns a private jet worth $5 million. T.D. Jakes, the Russell Simmons of the New Black Church, owns several multimillion-dollar estates.
While this is certainly not a new phenomenon -- preachers have been driving Cadillacs and wearing expensive clothes since the first amen corner was built -- the stakes have grown considerably higher given the increased amount of revenue generated by the New Black Church. Best-selling books, tapes, seminars and mainstream films have all created new sources of wealth for today's preachers by turning them into household names.
The most profitable project for the New Black Church has been the development of the "mega-church." Founded on corporate business models, these super-sized sanctuaries draw tens of thousands of parishioners per week and hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Additionally, mega-churches create huge stages for superstar preachers to perform for their congregations, which include politicians, athletes, actors, and rappers.
Despite the remarkable wealth of mega-church congregations (or perhaps because of it), it is no surprise that the most bedazzling "Jesus pieces" in the building can often be found around the necks of the people giving the Sunday sermon.
Thou Shalt Not Be Poor
Few would argue that hip-hop's hedonistic impulses aren't at least partially rooted in the belief that financial prosperity is the ultimate measure of success. Given this market-driven logic, it is no wonder that hip-hop narratives abound with rags to riches stories that celebrate the individual over the collective and the material over the spiritual.
Artists such as Notorious B.I.G., who once rapped that "God meant me to drive a Bentley," argue that their enormous wealth is a divine reward, or what Jay-Z has termed "pro-jetic justice" for their impoverished pasts. And where would they get such convoluted values? A look at the New Black Church, whose good news has been reduced to "God wants you to be rich," provides a good answer.
Through their curious readings of Bible scriptures, depictions of Jesus as wealthy and belief that people are poor because they "ain't living right," the New Black Church reinforces the tired conservative argument that the problems of the disadvantaged are self-inflicted.
While gospels of prosperity have always been commonplace within the black religious tradition -- leaders from Sweet Daddy Grace to Elijah Muhammad have, to varying degrees, promised wealth as a consequence of religious devotion -- "name it and claim it" mantras have moved from the margins to the center of the New Black Church community.
Word-faith pastors no longer preach the virtues of struggle, sacrifice, or redemptive suffering, instead exhorting the poor to "get right" with God by accumulating capital for themselves. As word-faith preacher Creflo Dollar explains on his website, "When you find out how to live your life according to the word of God you will become a money magnet."
Of course, becoming a money magnet requires the congregant to share their bounty with the church. Dollar tells his congregation, "God is not coming back to a church in debt. [T]hat would be against his word" ("Changing Your World," 27 March, 2000). In other words, salvation comes with a price.
To ensure that the people pay it, many New Black Church pastors are beginning to ask their members to bring in tax returns to guarantee appropriate tithing. Others request that members submit their entire checks and allow the church to manage their finances in order to certify that they are appropriately sharing God's grace with their spiritual shepherds. Can anyone say Suge Knight?
The connection between New Black Church theology and hip-hop's materialism became no more apparent than when rapper Mase staged his 2004 comeback. As one of the pioneers of the shiny suit era, Mase was the poster child for hip-hop's bling-bling agenda. Disillusioned with the immoral underside of the music industry after becoming born-again, Mase retired from music to devote his entire life to the ministry that he built and modeled after his mentor and pastor, Creflo Dollar.
After being called back to the game (by God or his accountant, depending on who you ask), Mase dropped the disappointing Welcome Back LP. While the album was devoid of profanity, violence and sex, it remained chock full of pro forma references to his wealth of money, cars, homes, and jewelry. Although it was a commercial flop, the album was celebrated by the gospel community for its "positive message," which can be summed up by the final line to his verse on Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" remix: "I'm healed, I'm delivered, I'm rich. And it's all because of Him."
When the Wu-Tang Clan released the single "C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)," the song reflected the hip-hop generation's developing profit-driven consciousness. It is this belief system that substantiates many critiques of the hip-hop generation with regard to its lack of political focus and activity. Despite the culture's ability to galvanize millions of youth, American hip-hop has become increasingly divorced from concrete political action.
With the exception of the intriguing but shortsighted "Vote or Die" campaign, the hip-hop generation has failed to live up to its political potential and muster a legitimate large-scale movement in the interest of social justice. Of course, comparable claims can be made about the New Black Church, which has grown increasingly detached from politics except under very opportunistic circumstances.
Since the days of slavery, the black church has been a fecund site for political organization and mobilization. Although its politics have never been radical, particularly with regard to issues of gender and sexuality, the church has always been a counter-public space committed to spotlighting and allaying the worst forms of social misery.
Over the past few decades, however, the church has grown increasingly unresponsive to the social conditions of its members. With annual revenues skyrocketing but less than 10 percent of the nation's black churches considered activist in nature, the New Black Church seems to have gained the whole world and lost its soul.
The development of the mega-church has created enormous possibilities for large-scale forms of social activism. Unfortunately, mega-church leadership often deliberately sidesteps controversial politics by not organizing rallies and marches or publicly supporting political candidates. Such moves, clearly done in order to avoid alienating particular segments of their congregations and losing revenue, are reminiscent of the notorious political coward Michael Jordan, who once refused to support a presidential candidate because both Democrats and Republicans buy his sneakers.
One of the more disappointing examples of the New Black Church's profit-driven cowardice came in January 2005 when President George W. Bush spoke to the First Baptist Church of Glenarden, a mega-church in Maryland. Pastor John Jenkins, an affirmative action advocate, refused to publicly challenge the President's stance on the subject because he considered it inappropriate to take a political stand against the President's policy from the pulpit.
Bishop Eddie Long, who pastors a 25,000 member mega-church in Lithonia, Georgia, encourages his members to "forgive, forbear, and forget" racism on the grounds that "we're already in the promised land" (Atlanta Journal & Constitution, 15 February 2005). By eliminating political protest from the church's agenda, these leaders effectively strip the church of its transformative potential while enhancing their own earning capacity.
While some observers have attributed the New Black Church's political passivity to the neo-Pentecostal focus on individual spiritual connectedness, the New Black Church has demonstrated that it is willing to join the political fray when the economic stakes are sufficiently high.
The best example of this came in light of the faith-based initiatives introduced by the Bush administration in 2000. In order to better position themselves to grab the money dangled in front of them, these churches have moved too close for comfort to white evangelicals on ostensible "moral issues," while endorsing horrific public policy initiatives, such as privatization of Social Security and the No Child Left Behind Act.
This proved particularly disastrous during the 2004 elections, when President Bush wooed several mega-church leaders with extremely slippery faith-based funds, ultimately convincing them to support his successful re-election bid. At least "hip-hoppers" have sold on their own terms.
Don't hate the playa
My point here is not to excuse the troubling condition of the hip-hop generation. Clearly, we have moral and ethical issues that must be resolved in order to approximate the level of service rendered by our forebears. I also do not intend to isolate or vilify the New Black Church, as they are not the first nor the only institution that fails to fully practice what it preaches.
Rather, I am responding to a pressing need to protect my generation from the feelings of moral alienation and historical exceptionalism that inevitably accompany the New Black Church's self-righteous onslaught. Hopefully, this defense will inspire the type of self-criticism and humility necessary for social change.
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A Rio de Janeiro tour company could be in trouble for giving tourists too intimate a view of life in the city's notorious slums, including photo opportunities with drug gang leaders.
The Brazilian city's tourism chief said on Monday that the company, Private Tours, could be stripped of its license after a report in Sunday's Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper that it had set up meetings between traffickers and tourists.
The paper sent a reporter disguised as a foreign tourist on the 4-hour, $55 tour of Rocinha, the city's largest slum, that included visits to the "bocas de fumo" where traffickers sell drugs to Rio residents.
It said the traffickers told the tourists stories about their time in prison, described the life of a Rio drug dealer, and would then pose for pictures with their guns -- as long as their faces were not photographed.
Rio tourism chief Rubem Medina said the firm could lose its license if the story was accurate.
"It's not necessary to do this kind of tour in Rio; there are a lot of wonderful attractions," he told Reuters.
Pedro Novak of the Private Tours firm acknowledged that he ran that kind of tour but that "I'm not the only one."
Several companies have for years offered tours of the city's more than 600 slums, offering tourists a controversial alternative to the city's beaches and an insight into the lives of the more than 1 million people who live there.
The slums, or favelas, are largely controlled by heavily armed drug gangs with names such as "Red Command" and "Friends of Friends" that fight each other for control of the lucrative cocaine market.
(Reporting by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Todd Benson and Vicki Allen)
to get here. that must be why i came early. and i know that, from the very start, you've held my hand. no matter how wrong i was, without regard to my stubbornness, you never let go. i appreciate that. i don't know one word to sum it up. i've drifted, come back, drifted again but deep down i always knew you were anchoring me. i'm thankful.
you taught me
how to politely tell someone that i don't cosign their foolishness
what it is to make a dollar out of 15 cents
how to be sharp as a tack on a really low budget
how to make a wreath out of trash bags
what the last laugh really is
how to be a maverick
when to walk away
that faith without work is dead
what forgiveness is without forgetting
how to say goodbye to someone you love
the difference between forward movement and running away
how to love myself regardless of what other people think
that crafting a gift can be better than a store-bought item
discipline for the sake of something i want
how to share without giving myself away
when i was a little girl, i wanted to be you because you exemplified composure and class. your hair, your choice of clothes and jewelry . . . i even used to sneak your cigarette butts because i wanted to know what it'd feel like to be you. i don't know if you ever knew that. but i wanted to be just like you when i grew up. i can only hope that i can capture and utilize a fraction of your uniqueness. the way you move through the world is miraculous to me -- some days i don't think i have the grace or patience. but then i remember whose daughter i am, and i have to correct myself.
i don't really know if i'll ever be able to articulate how much taller i stand because you've helped me and been there and said 'okay' even when i wasn't sure of myself.
every day should be your day, but i'm just making sure i take the time to speak on how i feel.
i admire, respect, thank and love you. happy mother's day, mommy!
this is a copy of the email i sent my mom. all the manicures, pedicures and jars of honey-roasted peanut butter won't ever do it.
but it's what i asked for.
i wanted to communicate with you only in dreams. clearly, & with no punches pulled. last night/ this morning, you asked for the chance to talk to me. i said i needed to think about it. a mutual friend was the one i told this to in the dream -- i presume that this person was the conduit of that energy, he represented the path. if you'd come to me any other way, i wouldn't have accepted it. it was a lot for me -- you know i have some serious anxiety about dealing with you. but i've been touched by the dream; i understand. i know. i wonder if your dream was the flip side of what i just experienced. even if it wasn't, i'm good. for now, i'm okay w/ dreams. you have to have my permission to reach me, anyway. this is just another way for me to let go. it's really easy to say that past hurts shouldn't be able to reach you, but fuck that. we're human. we're super sensitive to traumatic and hurtful things no matter how we allow them to manifest. i respect your humility. you don't have to try to reach me in the waking world. i already know. it's okay. say peace, and let's leave it at that. whatever happens next is up to our ori and the universe at large.
*an end note:
i know you show up every time i dream of you. i can't stop you. but if we engage w/ each other in the waking world i want you to act right, okay? don't make an ass of yourself or make me wanna wish you harm. thanks.
( from too sense, swiped from postbourgie)
I'm sure you've seen the video of Obama denoucning Wright yesterday, and the emerging narrative seems to be that Obama wasn't forceful enough when he said this:
You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.
They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs. And if Reverend Wright thinks that that's political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn't know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought, either.
Of course he wasn't. What people want is not for Obama to denounce Wright, but to denounce black people everywhere who have the gall to be angry at America for how they are and have been treated. What they wanted Obama to say was that racism is uneqivocally a black problem, that white people have moved past it but that black people cling to greivances as an excuse for out of wedlock births, unemployment, or incarceration.
It doesn't matter that rhetorically and policy-wise, Obama has struck the right balance between personal and governmental responsibility. It doesn't matter that he's confronted black anti-Semitism, black homophobia, black apathy. When Obama dared to mention that white people might harbor irrational prejudices of their own--he was pilloried by conservatives and liberals everywhere who don't want to feel guilty suspecting every black teenager of being a drug dealer for "throwing his grandmother under the bus."
They didn't want him to condemn Wright, they wanted him to condemn black people. So of course they're not satisfied. For all the talk of how white people are attracted to Obama and the alleged "absolution" he could offer them, what they really want is for him to publicly shift the blame for the racial divide squarely on the shoulders of the black community, so white people can stop thinking about it.
And he didn't do that, so they're not happy.
Being biracial, I know the feeling of searching for that "older brother" or father figure to help you make sense of the world in terms of racial and gender identity.
Obama had the added burden of his father being absent--and so he was looking to fill both a personal void and find someone to help wade through all the self-destructive bullshit black men are told to be. Though Wright was surely not the only one of these father figures, he was clearly an important one. And the idea that Wright would betray him so fully and completely is both heartbreaking and infuriating.
And anything Obama did or said in response was completely justified.