Friday, November 27, 2009

I love you

You gave birth to the woman who gave me birth
A great woman who I wished I knew better
But we lived an ocean and a world apart
You no longer being with us is bittersweet
I guess I'm just selfish, because I want you to stay
But I know you're in a better place
No more suffering, no more pain
You are now with the love of your life
I guess it's the cycle of life
You were my last living grandparent
So now I just have my parents
And I fear the day I have to say goodbye to them
This is my goodbye
Grandma, I love you and I always will.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stupid Dope Fresh Lyrics

I think I have a pretty good ear for music. I love listening to hip hop songs that have tight lyrics. Lyrics that actually make you think. I think as far as the rap game is concerned so many people get caught up in the beat of a song and hook that they believe this makes a quality record. The craftsmanship of actually writing a verse that makes the listener think was starting to become a thing of the past.

With the freshman class (Wale, Drake, J. Cole, Kid Cudi, etc) the art of writing dope lyrics is making a comeback. One of my favorite up and coming rappers is J. Cole out of Fayetteville, N.C. At first I slept on son but then I took a hard listen to his latest mixtape, The Warm-Up. Two verses stuck out to me on that mixtape. The first is his verse off of The Badness ft Omen:

Believe in God like the sun up in the sky
Science can tell us how but can't tell us why
I seen a baby cry and seconds later she laughs
The beauty of life, the pain never lasts
The rain always pass, the sun don't always shine
When its gone I'm lonely but when its there I'm fine
I hate the winter time because the nights come quicker
The light make the whites think I'm a nice young n***er
But at night they think twice and walk a little faster
Funny 100 years ago I woulda called this n***er master
How the tables turned but still the fire's burning
I feel the heat, the world is a dryer turning (turning)
I'm looking for some higher learning (learning)
Girl you what I desire, yearning (yearning)
You say I'm easily distracted
I think the problem is that I'm easily attracted
by the dark side,
the temptation got me questioning where my heart lies
I'm trying to separate myself like apartheid
But hey the liquor keep swallowing
I swear I walk with God but the devil keep following

The second verse is off another track that i am really feeling. Its called Losing Your Balance. I love guitar in the background and the song is a song meant to uplift. The entire song is dope but I really feel the first verse:

Ms. High Profile, caught you shopping on Canal
I guess it make sense, it seem as phony as your style
Your hair and your nails just as phony as your smile
Fake eyelashes you drew your eyebrows
Make a brother ask do you pride yourself
Your makeup like a mask trying to hide yourself
It seem on the outside you thinking you the sh*t
But its a soulless inside that you ain't even knew exist
So you so out of touch that the world mistreat you
Rich n***as f*ck you and broke n***as beat you
Hope that this will reach you and you understand
That your value ain't determined by another man
Cuz right you let them brothers get the upper hand
And you just tell 'em go deep like Cunningham
And just let em OD like Len Bias
And that pussy so good he let his friends try it

If you want to download The Warm Up mixtape click here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just Black...?

*****After having a good discussion, I asked my favorite, Milan, to write a guest blog post. I think she has an interesting perspective. Enjoy. Also laides if you want to know about the latest make and beauty products on the market hit up her blog. Click HERE to see it. *****

So I was actually pleased when my boy Tunde suggested I get on and write this post for his blog because it’s a topic I feel strongly about and have some ‘not so great’ experience with. It’s actually a follow-up to a post he wrote HERE that I thought was extremely thought provoking.

After reading Tunde’s post, it brought back a ton of memories I had of situations in the past (that were essentially the reverse of what he was talking about) where I was made to feel inadequate or “less than” because…well…I am ‘just’ black or ‘just’ African-American, if you will. Yes you read right, JUST black…as if being so was simply not good enough. I’ve heard some Africans and even Afro-Caribbean people say African-Americans are “lost, lazy and lack true heritage”. Instead of embracing African-Americans as an extension of who they are and the cultures they represent, many have chosen to shun us or write us off as “lost”. This is mind-boggling to me. And hurtful.

I identify myself as black or African-American. I tend to use the two interchangeably a lot although African-American speaks more to my culture whereas black can include people of various cultural backgrounds with a common tie to African ancestry. I was born here in the United States, so were my parents, so were their parents and several generations before them. Yet, I know I am a descendent of Africa. I know my roots and heritage can be traced directly back to that continent. I know my ancestors were taken from Africa, brought to America as slaves and that’s essentially where my family’s story in this country begins. I’ve had family members trace our ancestry back to the early/mid-1800s. I know my people were slaves in this country. I even know what states some of them lived, who may have owned them, how they married, what children they had, how they moved and migrated across this country, and how I came to be born and raised in California. These are things I know.

What I do not know is exactly what country in Africa my people came from. I do not know what village or tribe I am a descendant of. I do not know what region I am from. I do not have names of my African ancestors. I myself do not have an African surname. But my heart is there, I know it, I feel it and there’s nothing anyone can say or do to take that away from me or any other African-American in this country. I am proud of who I am, I am proud of the ancestors that struggled in THIS country for me to have the opportunities I have, I am proud of what African-Americans here represent. I am proud of my family and my name.

When I was in college, I had a Nigerian guy I liked tell me although he liked me too…his parents would never accept me because I was ‘just’ black. I think this was the first of many of these types of comments I would encounter throughout the years usually from well-meaning African friends of mine. At the time I didn’t even fully understand what that meant…’just’ black. But it did stick with me. I guess I was na├»ve and looked at us all in much the same way. Yes, I was aware of cultural differences, however, black was black to me. Whether you were Haitian, Nigerian, Belizean, African-American, Trinidadian, Jamaican-American, Eritrean, etc. It was the first time I started seeing the major division that WE create amongst ourselves. The various sects that had arisen, the “culture snobs” (as I tend to call them) that existed…those that shun anything and everything that is different from the specific African culture they were a part of. The “oh you can’t know ANYTHING about this over here because THIS is Naija”. Yeah, that attitude. I have more stories along these lines, but in the interest of not writing an epic novel (just a short book apparently LOL), I won’t share them all. But you get the idea. I’m all for cultural pride. I get that. I love seeing it. I think blacks are some of the most diverse and interesting people on this planet. But when that pride turns to elitism, that’s when I have a problem.

I think we have enough “outside forces” that try to divide and conquer black people and that try to make us feel inferior that it’s sad to me that we do it to ourselves as well. That internal rejection tends to hurt more than the rejection you receive when you expect it from “others”.

I used to feel bad when I would hear the “you’re JUST black”comments. Like I was lacking something that made me inadequate. Now that I’m older, I don’t feel bad…I’m extremely proud to be JUST black or African-American. Black people in the United States have had to endure incredible pain and suffering and have had to overcome numerous struggles to be able to live equally and fairly. We STILL struggle for that. But we have a fighting spirit that can’t be matched. We’re survivors. And not for nothing, I think that strength was born and fed in Africa and has been passed down from generation to generation and still exists to this day in this country and around the world. We are resilient.

I have always been interested in learning about various cultures, especially various African/Afro-Caribbean cultures. It’s fascinating to me. Not because I’m searching for something that I lack, but because I tend to discover an aspect of these cultures that has translated into African-American culture in some way. I think that’s pretty special and I would encourage other African people to do the same. Especially those that are hung-up on the idea that being ‘just black’ isn’t good enough. They may discover that what connects us if far greater than what separates us. They may also discover that when they look at us, they’ll see themselves more often than not.

Ethiopian, Nigerian, Ugandan, Eritrean, Belizean, Trinidadian, Jamaican, Bahamian….yeah, I think African-Americans are all of those mixed up and rolled into one. I think that’s pretty dope and I’m extremely proud to be JUST black.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Capital Punishment

***Before you read any further please know that I'm writing this blog based on my own opinions and views. If you disagree or have different opinions take it up in the comment section. Opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one.***

After the execution of John Allen Muhammad I have many thoughts about the views of others. Do I think that Muhammad was a monster? Of course. Do I believe that he got what he deserved? Of course not. I'm absolutely do not believe in capital punishment. The past 24 hours or so I have been having conversations about whether capital punishment is wrong. I've been getting mixed reviews.

I feel like it is no man's place on Earth to judge whether another man lives or dies. That is for God to decide.

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her (John 8:7).

This is not to say that adultery is the same as murder but is all sin not equal? In the Old Testament the Bible describes various sins that are punishable by death. These include kidnapping (Exodus 21:16), bestiality (Exodus 22:19), adultery (Leviticus 20:10), homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13). Based on this a lot more people in this world deserve to die then.

Another issue I have with people who are for capital punishment is if you were given the choice to pull the lever, inject the needle, let the gas in the chamber, etc. could you? If you couldn't because your conscious or religious beliefs couldn't/wouldn't let you physically take another life then I don't think you are really for the death penalty. In a way it is being cowardice because you want an individual to die but you just don't have the balls to do it yourself.

What about those people that have been wrongly accused of crimes and were sentenced to death? Yeah I know they all say they didn't do it but what about those cases when they actually didn't? It happens a lot more than you think, click this here to see some statistics. Here are two examples:

Earl Washington, a Virginia man with limited mental capacity, was sentenced to death after he allegedly confessed to committing a 1982 murder he didn't commit. He served a decade on death row, once coming within nine days of execution before receiving a stay. He would serve a total of 17 years behind bars before DNA testing obtained by the Innocence Project cleared him in 2000.

Frank Lee Smith died of cancer on Florida’s death row after serving 14 years for a murder and rape he didn't commit. He was cleared by DNA testing obtained by the Innocence Project 11 months after his death.

Where is the justice for these men? What if they were actually executed then who should answer to God for that? I wonder how many people in this country have actually been executed for a crime that they didn't commit.

Yesterday on twitter I saw a barrage of tweets that really had me questioning people's moral integrity. People actually went in on a girl who asked for other to pray for Muhammad. How can you actually get mad at someone who asks to for prayers for another individual? I don't care how much evil that many has done. Once he passes over into the next life he has to answer to whatever higher being he worships.

Do you believe in Capital Punishment? Are you glad that John Allen Muhammad was executed? Am I being overly sensitive? Do you care either way?

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Masks We Wear

**In honor of Halloween, the one holiday where everyone tries to be something that they aren't, I decided to write this post.**

We all have a variety of masks that each of us wears daily. These may be the identities that have been given to us, or ones that we have assumed over time.

As long as we recognize that we are wearing a mask we should be in good shape. But when the mask becomes a seeming reality for us, then that's when trouble begins. We confuse the mask with the person, and if we are to consummate enough, so do those around us. Gradually the mask becomes a trap, and we become the mask.

I see so many people who wear masks in their every day lives. They attempt to be something or someone that they are not, failing to realize that sometimes who they are under the mask is better than any mask that they can attempt to wear. It's easy to believe that we we really are is simply not good enough.

On the flip side not every use of a mask is negative, however. Masks can help us build our own defenses for the time we need them. They can give us power, or at least the illusion of fortitude, in a time when we may feel powerless. As long as the masks remain flexible and breakable, we can alter them at will, still realizing that we are not what we wear on our face as the mask we present to others.