WHOSE REALITY IS IT ANYHOW?

real_housewives_logo-9401They are stunning in their expensive jewelry and designer clothes.

There is never a hair out of place on their well coiffed heads.

Their make-up is always on Fleek.

They live in magnificent homes and drive luxury cars.

People who can’t be them, want to be with them.

They are surrounded by individuals who hang on to their every word and while always agreeing with them, never dare to tell them the truth.

They spew malice out of expensively tinted lips and are applauded from the sidelines by the lookie-loos.

Gifted with abundance, there is a poverty of spirit, of hope, of compassion, of understanding

They act out in public, perhaps because of private grief.

Surrounded by one another, they stand alone, wrapped in self-righteousness and self-approval even as they yearn for acceptance and validation.

Sighhhhh. . .

 

IN SEASONS OF DISTRESS AND GRIEF

https://livehomeandaway.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/quotes-on-life-and-empathy/

Grief can often catch you unawares, blindside you with raw memories that threaten to overtake your day. When someone comes alongside to simply walk with you through the “new normal,” their gift of quiet concern is a balm of compassion applied to the wounded soul.

ALL THAT REMAINS

Daily Post WordPress Daily Word Challenge

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“But now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old fashioned kegs”

I have discovered something.

The older one becomes, the more one realizes life is not forever.

Eighteen takes forever to arrive and the years after that much ballyhooed milestone flash by in a blur!

Leaving the eighteen year old mind to ponder the rather decrepit condition of the body in which it lives.

What happened and when did it happen and where was I when it happened?

In startled realization the eighteen year old mind begins to mull over the undeniable recompense of having been born.

Life ends, sometimes not with a bang but with a whimper or maybe with a sigh or a slight whisper of regret.

What will remain?

When that day of reckoning comes, what will remain to say to the world (or at least my world) that Donna was here?

The Bible reminds us that life is like a vapor, you know, like the steam from a tea kettle that dissipates as soon as the flame underneath it is extinguished.

What will remain behind to say, “There once lived a woman named Donna?”

Kind of sounds like the beginning to a really bad limerick, doesn’t it?

But, really, what will remain?

It’s a little late to become a mogul or a tycoon or even a thousandnaire, so material goods are out!

Material goods of any great value, I mean.

What will remain?

Three daughters whose sharp wits outpace mine but whose humor is reflected in my own?

Yep.

Grandchildren who will remember me as Granny without the “r,” the woman who always asked the typical old folks question, “How is school?”

Yep, again.

Life inspired words splattered across virtual pages released to searching eyes in hopefully exotic places?

Yes, indeed!

Memories of yesterday cocooned in the hearts of those left behind to remember and laugh and cry and cherish?

Now, that is the real question, isn’t it?

Really, what will remain?

Legacy

TUESDAY TANTRUM: Cliched Encouragement

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At some point in our lives, death, the unwelcome interloper, will knock on the door of someone we love.

Though we may do our best to hold on to them, the steely cold hands of death will eventually  win that awful tug of war.

When death interrupts the normal flow of life for someone we know and love, our first instinct is to try and fix their brokenness. We just don’t want them to suffer in their sorrow.

A noble intent, indeed, but I have a word or two for all of us well- meaning souls. . .

STOP IT!!!

We can’t fix it! We can’t change it! We can’t make the pain and sorrow go away!

Yes, I know we rush to their sides because we love them, our heart breaks for them, we want them to feel better!

Yes, yes and yes, I get it! Compassion, sympathy, empathy, pathos, all of that, I. Get. It!

BUT

We must do our best to not hand out clichéd encouragement to those who are going through those gut wrenching moments of sorrow!

Cliched Encouragement

“God has another flower in His garden.”

“You loved them but God loved them more.”

“Now you have an angel to watch over you.”
“You can handle this!”
“Stay strong!”
“What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger!”
“He won’t put any more on you than you can bear.”

Yeah, stuff like that.

Don’t misunderstand. I am not saying do not try to encourage those who find themselves wrapped in grief.

What I am saying is stop trying to fix the person, fix their view of their situation.

Support them through their hard times. Sit quietly with them when there are no words. Weep with them. Share their tears. Hold their hands through the valley. Listen to their stories. Allow them their sorrow in your presence.

Yeah, stuff like that!

TUESDAY TANTRUMS: A Random Rant

 

Commercial: PR generated contrivance created to lure unsuspecting souls into the abyss of consumerism to purchase what they didn’t know they needed until they realized they didn’t have it

I have yet to meet a commercial featuring bare chested cowboy hat wearing wranglercized men that has made me run out into the world in a sweaty rush to buy anything!

I have yet to meet a commercial featuring hot bodied daisy dukes wearing females manhandling hamburgers with pouty lips that has made me run out into the world in a feverish pitch to find the nearest burger joint screaming “I gotta have me some of that!”

I have yet to meet a commercial swollen with double entendre that has made me rush out into the world faint and flushed to find the nearest apothecary to buy anything that will increase my bedroom pleasure!

I have yet to meet a commercial rife with stereotypes that has made me rush out into the world for anything because “dey sho got dat one rite!”

i have yet to meet a commercial where an evening jacketed man pitching the superiority of a liquid detergent has made me rush out into the world to purchase that wondrous remover of stains because I did not realize doing laundry could be so glamorous!

I have yet to meet a commercial that can convince me that I should be anyone other than who I am doing what I do because I love doing it!

Addendum: Can anyone explain to me the point of the commercial where a well dressed African American woman carrying a microphone walks to the back of a wanna be muscle car and puts the microphone  to the tailpipe of said car and as the engine of said car is revved up she smiles knowingly into the camera?

😳

Ohhhhh … yeah, now I get it!

 

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Sigmund Freud would have a field day with this stuff!!!

ONE DAY WHEN THE GLORY COMES

I love the sitcom “black-ish.” Usually, the thirty minute episodes are filled with laugh generating moments.

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The episode of 2/24, not so much.

The summary for that episode is as follows:

HOPE“A highly publicized court case involving police brutality and an African American teenager leads the kids to ask tough questions, but Dre and Bow have conflicted views.  Dre and his parents think the children need to know the harsh reality while Bow would prefer to give them a more optimistic view of life “

Usually the setting of the sitcom  is split between the upscale home of the Johnson’s and the PR office where the father, Dre, holds a high level position. Oh, by the way, Dre’s wife, Rainbow, is a doctor. Yes, this black family is an affluent black family raising black children who have never known the hardness of poverty, the mis- education of public schools, or the mean toughness of urban streets.

But, this time, the conversation is contained inside the four walls of the Johnson home against the backdrop of a wall mounted flatscreen TV through which a talking head keeps the Johnson’s apprised of the turmoil in the community.

Life has indeed been good to the Johnson family, but in this episode, they try to come to grips with the police brutality and harassment that too often targets the black community.

Dre was raised in the hood by a tough no-nonsense father and a doting black Jesus loving mother (who really needs to stop ragging on Rainbow) while his wife was raised by interracial bohemian type hippies. This difference in background is bound to result in how each sees the criminal justice system and black people in America.

Rainbow holds on to hope while Dre “knows” there is no hope!

The struggle comes when the adults engage in the often circuitous conversation about what will happen, what has happened, what should not happen and how to cope with the potentials of possibilities and eventualities.

Needless to say, there is no hard resolution to an issue so complex.

“I don’t need some book to tell me how I feel. I know how I feel and it’s lost.”   ~Zoe, teenage daughter, ” black-ish”

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All that remains is the determination to hold on to hope, a concept that is more often than not too nebulous for the African American community. The Johnson’s make the decision to take a proactive stand for the right to have access to a justice that is always just, to be part of a movement even when the future is murky.

This will be a thought provoking episode for some viewers. For others, it will be a revisit to conversations they have already had in their own living rooms. For too many it will be uncomfortable and downright troubling. Others will label it black paranoia and African Americans need to get over it!

My hope us that this episode will generate conversations across those hard drawn lines of them and us, that though we may not come to an agreement, we will at least take the time to listen to one another.

One can only hope!

 

 

 

GORDON PARKS’ SOUL IMAGES

As a Black History Month slides quietly into the end of its short month (hey, we did get an extra day), just a few thoughts:
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Though the above  picture illustrates the oxymoron that was the Jim Crow south, I still love it, for it reminds me of home. It reminds me of my mother and her friends in those times when they weren’t restricted by work clothes, times when they would dress to the nines.

I remember those hot summer Sunday mornings when my mother would wrestle herself into that obligatory long line girdle as sweat streamed down her face.

I remember the fancy suits she wore, the strappy high heeled shoes and the oh so necessary church hats. Oh, those church hats! We cannot forget those church hats, those regal crowns worn proudly with alacrity, attitude and panache.

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Before pants were de rigueur, shirtwaist dresses were always appropriate when a lady went shopping. The woman in the first photo appears to be wearing a shirtwaist dress. I loved them when I was a teen-ager; I love them now, except my waist will no longer accommodate those tightly cinched belts. . . but I digress.

A few months ago, someone posted a Facebook status about the beauty of the picture and the ugliness of the sign. I got that, but all I could see was the classic beauty of the woman as well as her best dressed child, neither of whom appear to be burdened by the weight of the times (at least not in this moment). That was the irony of those times; you could see beauty and ugliness in the same moment.

Another Gordon Parks picture popped up in another Facebook status and this time I added my own two cents to the thread.

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The women appear to be seated in a waiting room, perhaps a bus station or a train station. Their expressions do not tell us much. Each woman is somewhat stoic in her position, giving no clue to any internal musing. We can assume, I suppose, that the only reason the black woman is in that waiting room is because she is the “nanny” to the child (I thought about using “mammy,” but that would send me off on another tangent and I am really trying to stick to a point).

The status was not that of a Facebook friend but it popped up on my page, I presume, because of a mutual Facebook friend. Their comments, of course, dealt with the incongruity reflected in the picture juxtaposed against the schizophrenic background of the times.

But I did not fall in step with the their chain of thought in that particular thread. Instead, I recalled another memory of those days, days when I lived with my grandparents in rural backroads Texas.

“What can never be understood unless you witnessed it first hand are the friendships that were forged between employer and employee as the years passed by. No, social lines were never crossed in those Jim Crow days, but the so-called nanny became sounding board and confidante for the often frustrated employer. Yes, they trusted their right to superiority but they also intuitively connected with the humanity in the employed. I saw it with my grandmother and mother, both of whom worked as maids for white women, in whose presence I could observe and learn the wisdom of grace.

The movie, “Places Of The Heart” was on last night. Though set in a time long before my birth, it takes me back home without bitterness or rancor because my sense of self was fine tuned in that crucible that formed the souls of my grandmother and mother.

My soul looks back in wonder……”

I was simply stating a truth from my past. The following is one of the responses to my truth:

“Not necessarily, Donnanotdiva. As a child, I watched one grandmother treat her maid as a non human and the other, treat hers as a friend. If we hadn’t had our Elizabeth taking care of us during WW2 while my father was a POW and mother had to work, I don’t know how we would have survived.”

My response to that response:

“I have no doubt but that there were those “employers” who treated the help as the inferiors they believed them to be. I am saying that my personal experience as a child growing up in the Jim Crow South was that I  witnessed first hand the bonding as women between the two groups. I was privy to the conversations of the women in my community as they spoke of those relationships. As time moved on, I watched those work relationships turn into friendships that outlasted their pasts but were forged in those pasts. The issue is we so often point out the evil without acknowledging that there were those relationships that transcended the times or even the upbringing of both sides. I am a realist who sees things as they are but who also knows there are many back stories unspoken and unheralded, stories that go beyond the too often superficiality of liberal speak.”

Then, someone else decided to chime in (perhaps with a soupçon of sarcasm?):

“[E]veryone[,] I’d say most[,] don’t think the way you do. Most were treated less than human. You make it sound like a beautiful place.”

Sighhhhh. . .

“I would be the last person to tell you it was always beautiful place. But, what I will say is that I was allowed to see a little of the humanity possible in those relationships. I know the inequities firsthand, the brilliant grandfather who caught the truck every weekday morning to go to the cotton field, the father from Mississippi whose prior occupation listed on his enlistment papers is farm laborer, a euphemism for sharecropper, a community marginalized and stigmatized as “boy” and “girl” rather than ma’am” and “sir.” Yes, I lived through it all, the first generation to step into integration and still had to prove myself by working twice as hard as they continued to doubt. No, it was not all roses and sunshine but it refined and fine tuned me to not color every experience with a broad brush of bitterness. I still see the inequality and inequity and I am very proactive about telling my story, both sides, but I am also grateful for those glimpses into possibility.”

There you have it, my “ah ha” revelation. My Jim Crow past not only developed in me a strong sense of self-awareness as well as a heart for the village. It also imbued me with grace, mercy and compassion. If there is any residual bitterness, it reveals itself in those moments when I am once again reminded that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING!

 

Starbucks Furor: Full Of Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing

Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells

All seem to say throw cares away

Christmas is here bringing good cheer

***

Said the night wind to the little lamb, do you see what I see

***

It came upon a midnight clear that glorious song of old

Of angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold

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Hark the herald angels sing

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For unto us a child us born

Unto us a son is given

***

Silver bells speak of joy,  night winds whisper promise, angels bend near with harps to announce, Herald angels sing of glory, Kings bring gifts that bespeak royalty/life/death and Isaiah writes 700 years in advance…

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And the red cup declares what?

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

Continue reading

YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

“In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’

That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.” ~ Viola Davis

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So, Viola Davis spoke her truth at the Emmy Awards Program last night
While holding an Emmy she had just won, I might add
And this soap opera actress
Of whom I have never heard
Because I don’t watch soap operas
Decides that Viola’s truth is not really Viola’s truth
That she, Viola, has never suffered loss because of her color or her hair
That, in fact, she (the soap opera actress) has suffered discrimination just like Viola and every other female actress
Because “All Female Actresses Matter”
So, stop your whining Viola, we are all in the same boat together
Say, can you hear echoes of Matt Damon explaining to the woman who has lived on the periphery of diversity all her life exactly what diversity looks like
😳
Even if this soap opera person’s take were true for Viola
And I’m pretty Black sure it isn’t
She would still be seen as the exception rather than the rule
And probably is still seen as such by many in that industry
The break-out talent that the industry deigns to accommodate as the token accepted one
So, let me see if I have this right
Only the white privileged have the authority to define diversity and discrimination to those who who are not included or accepted

And the beat goes on …

I WILL CELEBRATE!!!!!

I may have mentioned that I watch food and home reality shows. One of my favorite food reality shows is “Master Chef” where home cooks compete against one another for the grand prize.

Now I am a great home cook but I do not cook like those contestants. They are like gourmet home cooks. I don’t know any home cooks who cook like they do. I often wonder if they are given recipes on the show for those fancy schmancy five star restaurant dishes they create.

But, this is not the point of this post. Last evening a woman won “Master Chef.” At the end of the show she proclaimed herself “The first Latina Master Chef.” This is the point of this post.

In my limited observations, it appears to me that every culture openly and unapologetically celebrates its culture except African Americans. It is almost as though we have to hold back a little on the celebration lest we offend someone. We do not declare our pride in our history of determination or our traditions forged in the fire, and we are, too often, the first to apologize for being too visible. It is as though we learned the rules of assimilation too well.

The woman who won “Master Chef” last night stuck to the recipes of her culture just elevating them from rustic to gourmet. She never moved away from, in her words, “who she was.” In fact, every other contestant whose ethnicity would be considered minority represented and celebrated, for the most part, their culture in their cooking. The African American “chefs” sometimes offered “me on a plate,” but not very often and too often with calamitous results.

Here is my take-away from last night’s show. The time has come for me to celebrate me, to celebrate the pain and the traditions of my history, individual and collective.

I will celebrate the pain for it has taught me how resilient African Americans truly are. Trace the timeline of our history and recognize that no matter what we endured, and we have endured a lot, we have survived. It may be true that much of our pain today is because we have not come to grips with the pain of our past, but we must learn to celebrate the tenacity inherent in that pain. I will celebrate!

I will celebrate the traditions passed down to me from ancestors who created their own from scraps, who learned to lead while shackled in servitude, who clothed themselves in their Sunday Best after celebrating Black on a Saturday night. I will celebrate!

I will not apologize for the natural locks or the darker melanin.
I will code switch without explanation or apology.
I will not succumb to “I don’t belong here.”
I will not back away from the conversations that assume I have no voice or opinion about my place.
I will be visible in unexpected places.
I will sing my song of difference and dance my dance of uniqueness in homogenous venues.
Dressed up or dressed down, my confidence and pride will always show.
I will celebrate ME with no apology!

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~My Mother back in the day

“Weekend Glory” by Maya Angelou

Some clichty folks
don’t know the facts,
posin’ and preenin’
and puttin’ on acts,
stretchin’ their backs.

They move into condos
up over the ranks,
pawn their souls
to the local banks.
Buying big cars
they can’t afford,
ridin’ around town
actin’ bored.

If they want to learn how to live life right
they ought to study me on Saturday night.

My job at the plant
ain’t the biggest bet,
but I pay my bills
and stay out of debt.
I get my hair done
for my own self’s sake,
so I don’t have to pick
and I don’t have to rake.

Take the church money out
and head cross town
to my friend girl’s house
where we plan our round.
We meet our men and go to a joint
where the music is blue
and to the point.

Folks write about me.
They just can’t see
how I work all week
at the factory.
Then get spruced up
and laugh and dance
And turn away from worry
with sassy glance.

They accuse me of livin’
from day to day,
but who are they kiddin’?
So are they.

My life ain’t heaven
but it sure ain’t hell.
I’m not on top
but I call it swell
if I’m able to work
and get paid right
and have the luck to be Black
on a Saturday night.