Monthly Archives: October 2014

VSCO: No Liking, No Following

Among many things I dabble in, writing, knitting, crocheting  and more, I’m also a photographer.

I had an interesting conversation with a guy at my job during a casual gathering a few weeks ago about what exactly constitutes dabbling (he loves the word dabble), enthusiast, “Geek”, fan and hobbyist. The discussion of what actually defines a photographer is one that never stops, especially with everyone and their mother out there with a cellphone and access to countless photo apps and filters to apply to each image. There was someone in my FB network who years ago would totally rip into people who shared photos they took with their cellphones and considered it photography or “art.” This person was classically trained in darkroom photography, developed their prints by hand and took great offense to what she felt was the lack of craft that went into most forms of digital photography.

Well…

I’ve seen some pretty bad photos that were shot manually and printed in a dark room as well. For me, it’s not the device. It’s the intention.

Which brings me to VSCO.com. Unlike flickr, instagram, dubble, or most any social network image apps, VSCO is about creating and viewing images only. You can follow people, but they will receive no notifications about who is following them and if you have an account there to display your images, you will never receive notifications on who is following you. And you can actively like all you want. But there is no like button, no comment button, nothing. You just post, look, get inspired and repeat. At least that’s what I do. Of course one of the other main points is for VSCO to promote their amazing film preset filters by providing this format to it’s many users. So this is very filmy, photo, geeky business going on here. It pretty much eliminates those who are just looking to rack up “likes” and “followers” for whatever reasons.

Last night I spent a lot of time on Adam Scott’s grid. I don’t know Adam Scott from Adam. I just found his images at random on the VSCO. I love his photos, particularly of kids and babies. I like when there is an emerging theme in people’s work. I’m not sure I have one in mine but I try not focus too much on creating one. I just use my grid to put up what I feel are my best shots.

This Tuesday I met a friend of mine for for lunch who also loves photography. He lent me his fixed prime lens for my Nikon. Someone needs to get me this lens for Christmas because it just makes me see everything differently. Like all of a sudden I can actually capture the beauty I see in everyday things and people and bring them to life. VSCO film preset filters are great for this as well. They really make me remember how much I love the look of film and how the very subtle nuances of those old films really shape my feelings and memories, and perpetually trigger my love for the art of photography.

I admit that as a person who is susceptible to wanting my images liked by faceless strangers on the internet, I often feel like VSCO cuts me off from what might be some critical feedback from some incredibly talented peers. But a community does exist there and their contact information is available. The VSCO grid is very clean and simple and shows only the work without any recorded data of likes or comments or follows. Those things make a huge difference in what people are drawn to looking at these days. The only curated or featured photography spaces on VSCO are those which the team chooses to highlight in it’s journal. Other than that, you’re free to shoot, post and view whatever you like, as long you’re okay with not having a trail of likes or followers behind you.

I’m fine with that.

I have two IG accounts. LOL!!

Advertisements

Room for Another?

Where does the craving to care for something or someone come from?

When I was around ten or so I remember specifically playing with one of my many baby dolls and being struck suddenly with the feeling that this whole situation was not a coincidence. I suddenly thought to myself that this whole baby doll rocking thing was preparation for the real thing. My reaction was nausea. The idea that a baby might be 100% reliant on me made me a bit sick. It was a short and fleeting moment but I remember it very well. My mind made the connection between play and a possible reality and I was a momentarily panicked little girl.

I’m always ready for play. Taking care of another person or thing besides myself? Not so much. But recently, I’ll say in the last two or three years, the need to love, to care for someone other than me has surfaced in my odd, aloof, anti-clingy sensibility. And it’s weird for me.

When I was a girl we had a cat that mostly my parents took care of and my brother and I played with. When she died as the result of a freak accident, my reaction was complete denial. My brother was way more emotional than I was. I kind of just couldn’t handle my feelings and sort of chose not to express them. When I think about it, that cat’s death was the first death I ever experienced in my family. I know a lot of people don’t take pets seriously or take them too seriously or hate people who take them too seriously or not seriously enough. We all have different feelings about it. But the fact is all pets are forms of life you take care of. Plants are forms of life you take care of. You benefit or don’t benefit from their being around in one way or another. But if you care you have to make room. You have to pay attention.You have to make time.

I have a plant, a plant I inherited from a co-worker who passed away years ago. And I was worried I wouldn’t be able to take care of it. I don’t even know what kind of plant it is, but I liked the look of it and it absolutely flourishes in my care. I water it once a week as directed, play music around it and occasionally talk to it and always take notice of its progress. I don’t have a green thumb. I don’t know if I would have this kind of patience with any other plant, just this one. I just happened to bond with it. There’s a plant someone dumped on me at work many years ago which I neglect shamelessly all the time. It’s sitting on my counter now as I write this.

Okay, I’ll water you today. Jeez.

All this is to say that yesterday, when my supervisor told me about a cat she took in to her home over the weekend, something about the way she described her just got me all emotional and choked up and not just because I’m a cat person. Apparently this is a domesticated cat that the owner or owners abandoned in the street. That broke my heart.  UGH! Just thinking about it now bothers me. My husband and I have also both been wanting a pet for ages. He loves animals! But like the prospect of having a baby, we’re both are in agreement that we need way more space first. But what if space isn’t really as necessary as we think for a pet or a baby? What if a pet is just a starter baby?

Sigh…

I want a cat.

I want a baby.

I want a cat baby. LOL!

What is “The Black Experience?”

I was never “Black” enough for the Black kids in my high school for whom society and dominate culture media would deem examples of “The Black Experience.” If a reporter came to my home looking for examples of the stereotypical “Black Experience” they would have found, lots of Tofu, whole grains, Golden Legacy Comic Books, handmade Christmas Ornaments, yearly PBS “Eyes on the Prize” viewings, in house play dates with the only Caribbean family that lived in our neighborhood, weekly trips to the Union Square Farmers Market, and the Food Coop in Brooklyn where my mom has been a member for years. They would have found me reading and journal writing obsessively while staring out the window of a large bedroom at a guy who I had a crush on who incidentally was probably living the life most likely to be voted as the “Black Experience” at least from the outside.

I used to buy into that bullshit too. I was as scared of outspoken, rambunctious, healthy black males in high school as any latently racist white person crossing the street to avoid them. Classism breeds these kind of destructive notions. They thought I was an “Oreo,” that I didn’t speak “Black,” that I thought I was all that. I thought they were too loud, disrespectful, “Ghetto,” mean and scary. None of us went any deeper than that until after a few years and even then, it’s taken me several High School reunions and a series of enriching friendships with people from different backgrounds to really appreciate the fact that among people of color, there is no “Black Experience.” What the fuck is that anyway? I never hear critics review movies with all white casts using words like “a slice of the White experience.” I do understand the need for the term in the Black community but from the mouths of White people it just exposes the usual narrow-minded ignorance that makes the daily news.

People of all colors, cultures and backgrounds have a human experience. Media sells us these categories to perpetuate a sense of classification, which unfortunately raises the constructed experiences of “Whiteness” to the level of sought after preference while it devalues, dehumanizes, denigrates, marginalizes and falsifies the experiences of people of color.

The funny thing about “Whiteness” though is that most everything they promote is stolen from an historic ethnic and or urban culture to be appropriated and repackaged on White faces and constructed White lifestyles. Am I saying that White people have no culture of their own?

I’ll go even further and say this.

Whiteness doesn’t really exist, just like “The Black Experience” doesn’t exist. Think about the definitions of each given to us in the media and really think about if you believe it’s true. The reality of what Black people experience in America as they navigate the odds of systematic racial profiling, poverty, bogus drug wars and a racist educational system is not “The Black Experience.” But it is the experience of a lot of Blacks.

Growing up, I didn’t experience poverty, drive by shootings, violence, a one parent household, or living in the projects. In fact, now when I think of it, I can see how specific incidents in my childhood communicated to me demonstrably, that people who did experience these things were not as valuable as me. For instance, growing up in Brooklyn my brother and I were strictly forbidden to run the streets with the kids in the neighborhood. I remember the strange tension I would feel climbing down a stoop with my brother and parents through a gauntlet of stoop sitters from the building and the neighborhood. They looked up at us with judgment. And we made sure to be friendly without really engaging. We made our way through to go off to some cultural and our extracurricular activity and we never really connected with these people. I never played hopscotch or double-dutch or handclapping games with the girls on my block. No time was spent on hot Brooklyn Summers running through illegally opened fire hydrant floods. Mine was not the Spike Lee directed Brooklyn “Black Experience.” I was pulling up weeds in the Children’s Garden, making Kachina dolls at the Brooklyn Museum and filling my head with stories at the RIF club in the Brooklyn Public Library.

But I remember those hopscotch and double-dutch, hand-clapping girls. I wanted to double-dutch. I still thrill at the skill of double-dutch. I still don’t know how to do it. I used to mimic their movements as a girl at home when I was alone. I guess we all miss out on experiences we wanted to have because of invisible gaps and lines we didn’t draw and don’t understand the meaning of.

I just know I don’t want anyone defining my experiences for me but me. When I wore apparel in High School that said, “It’s a Black thing, you wouldn’t understand.” It was in response to a dominant White culture that told me my experience wasn’t as important, valuable or significant because I lived in Black skin. That’s the reason I chose to start my locs in high school. I wanted to be an example to Black girls my age that being natural was okay too, that it was in fact just as good as straightening or relaxing, or hair extensions all of which I had done to my hair as well. But I was also told by some of my Black peers that my experience wasn’t shit to them because it wasn’t “Black” enough. That confused and angered me. I guess it still does. But as an adult, I’m very careful not to respond to those kinds of one-dimensional assessments by being one-dimensional myself. I know that as people of color, our experiences are broad, complex, diverse and ridiculously untold by popular media and culture that would have the world believe that the “Black Experience” is the single story and that the experience of those who define themselves as White is just the human experience.

Where the Black People Are

Is that a Black person following me on Flickr? No? Oh. Okay. Hey is that a Black woman in a feature on a Mind Body Green article? Oh. no. Hey, is that a Black person following me on IG? Oh cool! I look them up, check out their profile, look at their images, etc.

When I got married in June of this year, a trusted adviser (A woman of color if you haven’t gotten the gist) recommended the magazine New York Weddings to me. When I finally found a copy at Barnes & Noble  I noticed that, like New York Weddings, every single wedding magazine had a white woman on the cover. Flipping through one or two of these magazines didn’t reveal much diversity in ads or feature articles. Wedding dresses are white enough! I needed to see some color and variety in shapes in these dresses. I never bought one single wedding magazine during the months of planning leading up to my wedding.  I just couldn’t. This was too important. And with things that are this important in my life, marriage, art, health and more, I get excited when I see Black and Brown faces representing. And as a Black woman I am always aware of the fact that I have to go looking.

We have to go looking.

With dolls, we have to looking, with hair products we have to go looking, with children’s books we have to go looking, with photography we have to go looking. Quick! Name a famous living Black Photographer! No, not Gordon Parks! I said living. I said famous. Not too easy is it? Is it because they don’t exist?

Carrie Mae Weems exists. I don’t mean to be condescending. I know you all knew that.

Right?

Getting back to my point. When I was getting married I found a site and Web Magazine called Munaluchi Bridal Magazine, the only one I’ve found so far which featured Brides of color in all phases of nuptial and post nuptial planning from engagement photos to wedding ceremonies to mommy to be images. And that was one of my most primary references for ideas about my own wedding. I was so happy too see Brides of color in my IG feed every week and not just the standard stick thin models but actual real women of color with real bodies getting married all over the country and sometimes the world! There is where I stayed.

About  a year ago, Life as I Know It told me about a nail shop in my neighborhood in Harlem called Bed of Nails. B.O.N. is owned and run by a young Black woman who hires Black nail technicians. I had my own reservations about going there for the first time, the kind anyone would have about a brand new place of business. Would they know what they were doing? What would the ambiance be like? Would they be nice? I made my appointment, showed up one afternoon and the minute I walked in I was greeted by a sister who took my coat and offered me a choice of tea or a mimosa.

HUH? YES PLEASE!

Exposed Brick on one side and a wall of designer nail polish from Christian Louboutin to Deborah Lippmann on the other. Six velvety Black high back chairs set up in the back for pedicures have a very inviting and royal  to them. A large purple sofa in the waiting area with natural light streaming in from the window behind you. It’s a very warm atmosphere, not just because of the layout and design of the place but the treatment, professionalism and yet laid back casualness of it all. No one is rushing you in and out. They want to be there and they want you to be there as well. Plus they play the best mix of hip-hop/R&B up at the front desk while you’re getting your nails or feet done. It’s so relaxing. And there I stay. I never go anywhere else to get my nails done. This is the experience I want. If there was a Black owned, Black run Bed of Nails chain in Midtown Manhattan I would go there.

The reason I bring this whole subject up is that there are certain white people who like to pull the Racist card whenever Black people manage to organize or build anything of their own or patronize Black owned businesses exclusively that cater to the people in their community. Listen. If I didn’t have to go looking so hard for representation of Blacks in the areas of life that are most important for me in the first place, this wouldn’t even be an issue. It’s not my fault that dominant culture has tipped the scales in it’s favor for so long that any logical attempt towards filling the needs which are not met by this culture will be interpreted as “Reverse Racism,” a term whose definition I will not even dignify with a discussion because it is a fiction.

The idea that you get to fuck with descendants of African people for this long, tell them to get over it so that you can absorb them in a culture that is defined and built on a foundation of theft, genocide, appropriation, assimilation, and gentrification of native and indigenous spaces is what’s really sick and racist.

If I decide I want to go away to an island where only Black and Brown people exist (and sometimes I really do), I damn well have every right to. After all, White people do this all the time.

It’s called a vacation.

You may not always get what you want

So I have been at my desk literally for like 45 minutes talking to our IT tech about kids. He’s a 42yr old father of four and apparently he’s losing his mind. He asks me if I want to start a family and I said yes. He told me not to wait too long and a 45 minute conversation ensues. Another of our co-workers, a much younger female has a little girl who seems to be the light of her life joins us and give a little of her own perspective. I am pushing back as much as I can on the notion that having kids as an older person is the worst idea ever because…well I’m older. And he’s a dude so what does he know?

He knows plenty.

I won’t go into details but during our conversation he said something that really rang true to me in my zero years of being a parent but having read an excellent parenting book a few months ago entitled “The Conscious Parent.” He said in response to the negative way in which his wife was responding to her son who has a severe mental disorder that she had to “mourn the death of the child she wanted to have” and confront the one in front of her.

WHOA.

WHOA.

Yeah, Dr. Tsabary totally explained that in a different way in “The Conscious Parent” but this is the first time I’ve heard anyone I know say anything like that with regards to child rearing. This is why it’s so important to talk to people in person, you know…as opposed to disjointed virtual or one way dialogues in social networks.

Every parent has an idea of the kind of child they want and what I am learning among so many other things as someone considering late motherhood, is that there can be a deep emotional heartbreak involved when you have a child who is totally different than what you desired or expected. Behavioral patterns are one thing. Handling mental disorders or birth defects are something I cannot even imagine. But I know that people deal with their children the way that they they deal with people and life challenges in general and that people often look at other people’s children totally differently than they see their own. You never know what you’re going to get.

I have to be honest, that freaks me out a bit. But not enough to say I will never have a child. I understand that there is always risk involved where creation or birth is concerned and that we all meet challenges in different ways and for different reasons. I can also tell you that I came away from the conversation with a deeper respect for the institution of marriage because children need to know why they are how they are and to be able to connect their identities through their family line and this can be done most successfully through documented forms of ritual unions. We inherit behavior and for better or worse I believe we are able to make better decisions for ourselves once we learn how the connections to our patterns of our behavior have played out in the past, through those who were here before us, our ancestors, and those who still remain. If we are caught up in a bad cycle, we can understand why and begin taking steps towards both acceptance and awareness, thereby breaking that cycle.

I remember sitting in the pastor’s office with my husband several weeks before we got married and going over our family trees together. Wow. If there is ever anything to inform you what your children might possibly be inheriting emotionally and behaviorally, family tree talk is the one. It’s a moment when you realize that you are marrying into one another’s families. It’s a confidential meeting wherein you look at all the twists and turns, losses, gains, disconnections, triumphs and points of pride and celebration or achievement. It’s intense. It’s real. Not everyone knows who their real daddy is. Not everyone is doing okay or accepted into the fold. Not everyone did what was needed or expected of them. That’s life. Some people break from their blood family altogether and find that connection spiritually with others. But you only get one set of parents in your life. And they don’t just bring you here. They have plans. Those plans can make you, break you or shape you depending on how you choose to look at it. As human beings we often operate from a place of unresolved fears. I have plenty of my own. But I don’t want them to come to define who I am as a person or the choices I make, especially the choice of whether or not to have a child.

How to be a Black Woman and remove your make-up in “How to Get Away with Murder”

viola davis

When was the last time you saw a leading actress remove all her make-up in an extended, tight, super close up shot?

The only scene that leaps to my mind is Glen Close as the Marquise in the last few minutes of “Dangerous Liasons,” one of my all time favorite films. As she removes her make-up in a show of total ruin we see how truly ugly she is in spirit because she has destroyed any chance there ever was for love in her life. Now it’s Viola Davis in the last ten or so minutes of the last episode of “How to get Away Murder” when she removes all her make-up and gains more and more ground with every swipe.

I’m only just beginning to immerse myself in the series and I have to admit, I still have not seen the first episode in its entirety as yet.

I KNOW! DON’T THROW THINGS AT THE SCREEN.

I think I was just a bit annoyed at all the law student characters. All I wanted was Viola but they’re starting to grow on me and I can see where they are essential to the plot and the movement and development of the show. There have only been four episodes of the series so far and with each one, I see more than I’ve never seen in any television series before.

For instance, I think it was in one the two episodes before the last that Annalise is shown at her home taking off her wig revealing her own short natural hair, pinned back to her head. I was not prepared for that and was immediately intrigued by the fact that Shonda included this reveal with zero fanfare. I watched Annalise deep in thought, and sitting in bed alone and something in me was just like wow. This happens all the time, everyday. Women come home, take off their wigs, make-up, sit in front of a mirror and contemplate. But rarely see this process documented on screen. The idea with everything women do to beautify themselves or appear presentable, particularly Black Women (because we’re not supposed to consider ourselves beautiful unless we have applied some cosmetic form of skin lightener or hair straitening, curl loosening potion) and especially as power players in a high level positions, is that even if the world knows your appearance is a constructed facade based on white standards of beauty, or male standards of power, you never show the world how you put it on or take it down.

V Davis Make-upWhen Annalise is shown in this last episode, not only taking off her perfect wig but slowly removing all of her make-up in front of her dresser mirror, there is such a powerful and subtle statement being made. It was no surprise for me to learn that this was actually Davis’ idea.  The removal of all her cosmetic arsenal does not disarm an actress like Viola Davis. And I don’t believe it is meant to disarm her character. You don’t even get the sense that she cares about any of it. She’s quite beyond the power of make-up or wigs to define who she knows she is. The scene is electric with the building up of inevitable confrontation with her husband. It addresses a multitude of systemic relational dynamics by engaging the audience with it’s own feelings about what is taking place rather than making Annalise a victim or soul representative of something many Black women fall prey to with regards to the dominant culture’s construction and evaluation of female beauty.

This scene is not primarily about make-up or wigs the removal of them or their application. Shonda just shows you what happens in the households of nearly every adult American woman alive on a daily basis. She leaves it up to you and proceeds on with the development of the story.

That Wrap Life

Back in the 90s when Brand Nubians, Neo Souls and the Zulu Nation were emerging, my BFF and I started rocking our newly started locs and mudcloth headwraps in high school and to date that is the last time I can remember wearing them. I do wear one to bed but that’s just to protect my locs from damage and dryness and to lock in conditioning treatments.

All my life I’ve seen many woman of color rock some fly ass head wraps both in cultural and casual contexts but I have never had the confidence to try it myself using the Ankara print fabrics. Plus I was never very imaginative with mudcloth. I basically just wrapped it around my head like a wide band that pulled my hair back. There was no real art to it.

I really love the way these tutorials from Wrap Life make make the process of head wrapping more accessible and less intimidating. As much as I love to be creative and make things by hand, I’ve never been able to figure out how African women are able to create these amazing shapes around the head with these large beautiful pieces of fabric, but these fun videos are inspiring me to give it a try.

Here’s My Point

The weekend before last, my husband and I spent the evening upstate with our parents. My mom made Roti, a traditional West Indian dish for my husbands mom, my dad, my husband and me. My mom is from Trinidad, my dad from Savanah, Georgia and my husband parents are both from Haiti.

At the dinner table just listening to then talk, I discovered that both my mom and mom in law came to America in the June in the late 1960s. My dad made his first ever train trip to New York around the same time. He told me that his mom packed him a shoebox lunch because Blacks were not allowed to go the dining car. My father would not have been welcome in the dinner car of the train he paid the fare to travel on. But he said he was fine. His dinner was great. Chicken, pound cake, classic homemade Southern cooking. I may not be able to imagine a time when I could have been killed for drinking from the same fountain as a white person but my parents came up during the end of segregation and they all agreed that segregation was not the problem.

Life as I Know it says it best.

“When the subordinate culture integrates with the dominant culture the subordinate culture ALWAYS conforms to the dominant cultures ideals and values.”

In fact, in her post, she highlights my point, unpopular though it may be, perfectly.

Is race a quality?

I’m still not sure how to answer that question although I told Abbey I thought it was. I think I was trying to draw a definite line in the sand to ensure she would never cross it to try and occupy a space in my life she could never even begin to understand.

If race is a quality than it is systematic racism as implemented by the White race, which has made it so because it ascribes the worst of qualities to anyone with Black or Brown skin and the best to those who identify as White. But since all of those ascriptions are obviously lies, the truth keeps bringing White people back around to the same tactics. Slavery, Segregation, genocide profiling, incarceration.

It’s not my fault that Abbey and I would never be close friends but the fault of those who, like her, identify as White and never question the reason for their privilege, yet want to play hopscotch around the boundaries of race like it’s an amusement park.

Integration should create beneficial change, uplift and opportunity for all involved, not only the dominant culture. Integration was never integration. It is assimilation, homogenization, appropriation by the dominant culture.

Lies.

My favorite definition of integration in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary referes to organisms:

b : the process by which the different parts of an organism are made a functional and structural whole.

I believe that human beings can be classified as very complex organisms with boundless untapped potential. But as long as I’ve been alive I’ve have rarely ever experienced the kind of integration described above in the ways in which is was allegedly meant to function. Would we even be able to recognize the true definition of integration among the races in action if we saw it?

Sometimes I worry we’ve become too comfortable with the lies or worse, that those who suffer predominantly at the hands of these lies don’t even understand that they are lies.

And I didn’t come here to lie to you.

When we Think of Segregation Part 2

So at some point I was hanging out in the Stevenson Library at Bard College with my White Jewish friend, I’ll call her Abbey, who loved the way I used Ebonic vernacular and was very excited about playing RUN-DMC for me in her car. She convinced me to ask the vice president of the BBSO if she could join and in my ignorant, “We are the World”, “Hands Across America” glow I floated off to another floor where he was sitting at his Senior desk doing important Senior work.  I consider myself very lucky that he didn’t curse me out because he would have had every right to. When I look back on it now, I realize that he was very patient with me when he said in so many words and in no uncertain terms that there was no way he would accept my friend into BBSO.  He was very unwavering in his ideas about race relations, at least with regards to racism on the Bard College Campus. He was always butting heads with white Dorm monitors and seeking out all the events that supported people of color on campus. He was a proactive organizer when it came to supporting these events and I really admired him for it.

Me. I had other things on my mind and couldn’t see that I was a Black girl in a microcosmic, hippified utopia. I would not have even understood what that meant. I did know that sought to connect with any Black or Brown face I saw not that I was in the “minority.” I had fled what I felt was oppression from my own people in High School  for not being “Black” enough and ran right into a situation where I was often the first Black person that many white students had ever met. It was culture shock for sure. But nothing was more unsettling than the conversation I had with Abbey one day, also at the Stevenson Library where she asked me to compare my friendship with her to the close friendship I had with my Black High School BFF, Janet.

I talked about Janet a lot as was normal for many of us to do about close friends at home, particularly when feeling homesick and longing for something or someone familiar to relate to. Janet and I share a very tight bond to this day and until this talk with Abbey, I had never thought of the part race might play in it. I mean I knew we were both Black but I I never thought of myself as someone who formed relationships based on race. Oh I was in a bubble.

“Do you think that you and I could ever be as close as you and Janet?” Abbey asked.

First of all, I was very wary of the fact that she was even asking the question. I registered this as a sign of very low confidence on her end and I found it unattractive. I told her that that she and Janet were two different people and that there was no way I could be close to both of them in the same ways. This is when Abbey started to get emotional. She started crying. UGH! What was happening?

“Do you think of being Black as a quality?” She asked

What? Who asks a question like that? I was stumped. I had never thought about it. And whenever I think back to that conversation, I realize what an important question it is despite the fact that she was baiting me indirectly. Is race a quality?

In that moment of pause I was aware of a couple of things. I would never be as close to Abbey as she wanted me to be because although I wasn’t sure if I thought Blackness was a quality, it was quite obvious that she did. And I couldn’t be close to anyone who tokenized my race unconsciously or otherwise. She also engaged with her body (She was a plus size girl who was not happy about it) in a negative way and was uncomfortably envious of my stick thin physique at the time so nothing about this relationship was promising to me as having potential for deeper bonding. It all turned me off.

“Yes,” I said. “I think race is a quality.

Tears. Audible sobbing, gushing tears. In the library,

UGH! What the hell man?

Day off Interlude

Day off Interlude

I have no particular point to make here. I just wanted to share what I did today on my day off from the morning to this very moment perhaps so that you can learn a bit about me.

I watched two episodes of “Project Runway” on my phone while in bed on the Lifetime Channel app. I live for people making things and I when I saw the commercial for “Threads” the Jr. version of PR I lost it. Shows about kids cooking and making clothes or anything. I live for it.

I wished everyone in my Facebook network a “Happy Indigenous People’s Day” and responded to a status update I made last night that “Goldilocks was mad rude.”

My mom has been visiting with me for the last couple of weeks so I got up, sat and talked with her for over an hour while crocheting a hat and watching “Wendy Williams” and “The View.” Among the topics of our discussion were, Heidi Klum, Kimora Lee Simmons, marriage, gay marriage, and several things that came up related to guest on both shows. I’m not into Wendy but I paid attention when Betsy Johnson was on because I adore her. I love how spry and youthful she is at 72! I also love that she has her daughter walk the final walk at her shows and that now she brings her granddaughter with her as well. I just love that whole image.

Next I paid attention on the View because Russell Brand was on and I really dig him. He always brings a certain element of anything can happeness around him and it always keeps interviewers on their toes. I like that. And I love comedy and I like his politics most of the time.

After that mom went out to do her thing and I got myself reluctantly together to go to Chelsea and get my eyebrows threaded, a ritual that I enjoy because when I do it it’s usually all I do. It’s a laid back day.

It was so cloudy out I almost convinced myself I wanted to stay in but I am so thankful I didn’t. It was very nice out. On my iphone, I played WTF, one of my two favorite podcasts at the moment and lost myself in it as I rode the train. I listened to Marc’s ranting and venting and sadness and totally wished I could be there and tell him it would be all right. It’s usually a cross between that and wishing I could tell him GET OVER IT! Then I listened to his interview with the second Black Comedian he’s interviewed since last week with Ms. Pat. Today was Larry Wilmore. I found I could totally relate to his humor influences as a young person (as a girl, I also loved Groucho Marx and Monty Python) and that, like him, I am also a “contrarian.” That’s not a good or bad thing. Just an accurate assessment. In not all but many ways, I aim to always to be going the opposite direction from everyone else.

After my brows were done wonderfully because my favorite lady, the only one I ever want to see, did them, I decided to stroll down to 14th Street. When I’m listening to podcasts, walking alone is great. And although Chelsea is covered in dog shit, I somehow always like to walk down there. I like taking photographs of building and things I find in the side streets.

At 14th Street I hoped on the uptown express to head home. The podcast ended somewhere around 116th Street. I had my eyes closed because I’ve had a period headache (I can say period to you right?) all day. I ended up smiling because Marc played the show out unexpectedly on his acoustic guitar. It was really nice. Music is really important to me and I really liked the spur of the moment improvisational feel of what he played because it sounded like it came right from his insides. I like how he shares.

When that was over I played Hugh Masakela’s album “The Lasting Impressions of Oooga Booga” where I had left off listening in the apartment earlier that afternoon before I left. There’s this track that always plays on one of my hundred Pandora Stations called “Mas Que Nada,” Masakela’s cover of the Jorge Ben song and it lays me out every time. I mean I think it’s magical. After hearing it like three times over the weekend, I finally broke down bought the entire album on iTunes last night.

I’ve known about Hugh Masakela all my life and have certainly heard “Mas Que Nada” many times before because my parents played him in the house while I was growing up. But this happens to me all the time. It’s like one day something that was all in the background of my upbringing just comes to the forefront and a strong definition takes shape and I feel it in my core. It speaks to me. This song speaks to me. The entire album is fucking brilliant but I just want to get on my knees and give thanks for “Mas Que Nada” even if it is a cover.

When I got home I heated up some Roti my mom made last night and continued listening to Masakela on my stereo and then I started writing this.

I’m really glad to have had this day off.