Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"James Died"


This was originally posted as a part of the most beautiful Blaq Diasy's Reverb 11 series. Check out her blog HERE.

I received a text at 11:16 A.M. on the 23rd of December that my friend James had passed away. My defining moment of the year happened in a split second via a simple text message that read: “I’m sorry to tell you this. James died.” The tidal wave of emotions that washed over me motivated me to write this. Please allow me a few moments to reminisce.

I met James Newsome at a Wine and Spirits store I worked at for extra cash during the summer of 2001. He was medium built, around 5feet9 inches tall, with yellowish dull skin like a raw chicken. In fact, the first time I saw him I jokingly remarked to a co-worker, “Dude needs some Aloe Vera or something. What’s up with his tone?” During my first couple of weeks of working with him I noticed that he always looked sad or mad, but he worked really hard, a little too hard for my taste. So one day I walked up to him while he was furiously slinging cases of Merlot and Cabernet in the store basement and said: “Dude you are working too damn hard. If you continue at this pace, the owners are going to expect everybody to work as hard as you, so calm your ass down and drink a Sprite or something.” He looked at me for a minute and then let out a hearty laugh that was so joyous that I couldn’t help but laugh too. He explained that he just found out his longtime girlfriend was cheating on him and he was working his way through the pain. And from that point on me and James rolled thicker than Arabian thieves through Persia, until I left for the greener grass (or so I thought) of another job two years later, creating a distance between us that would prove to be irreparable. We kicked it from time to time bar here-strip club there, but after I left the store things were never the way the same again.

I feel sad and guilty about James’ death. The sadness is obvious. I feel guilty because the loss I feel now I should have felt years ago when I let a great friendship slip through the cracks. My defining moment of the year is: It shouldn’t take for someone to die for me to realize how important they are to my life. James didn’t try to talk to my girl without my knowledge; he didn’t talk about me behind my back or default on a car loan that I co-signed for. James was James, all smiles, crooked shape up and anxious belly. I can still hear that DC drawl,“Let me get five wings and fries and put the mumbo sauce on the side.” He was a good dude who only asked to be treated the same as he treated others. The pause in our friendship was created by me being so consumed with the mediocrity in my life that I failed to stay in contact with the one person who served as the propeller to my jet plane. Now, I can’t tell him, “My bad dog, you know I’m an asshole sometimes.” Now, I can’t buy a twelve pack and we go to the park and I sit and listen to him cuss me out about my frustrating moments of selfishness. Now, I can’t hear him say, “Man, I always got your back,” or “When you’re going through shit, you’re supposed to call and let your friends know. That’s what friends are for dumb ass.” Now there are only memories because death is permanent and that’s deep.

Now I’m mournful and regretful because I can’t thank him for always reminding me that I was friendship worthy. Now I can’t be there for him like he was there for me and a few times he shouldn’t have been. Now I can’t tell him because of his death I’ve learned to never take another friend for granted. Now, it’ll be a long journey to make peace with--Now. Rest in love my friend; The Explorer is out of gas, the Hennessey bottle is empty and the carry-out is out of mumbo sauce. It was your time to go home, but I’ll catch up with you later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This or That or The Other...


• Robin Thicke or Justin Timberlake or Bruno Mars
• Nook or Kindle or iPad
• Nina Simone or Billie Holiday or Abbey Lincoln
• Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr
• Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor or Chris Rock
• Beyonce or Alicia Keys or Rhianna
• Papa John’s or Dominos or Pizza Hut
• NFL or NBA or MLB
• Spiritual Connection or Physical Attraction or Financial Stability
• Miles Davis or John Coltrane or Charlie Parker
• Viola Davis or Angela Bassett or Taraji P. Henson
• Spike Lee or Tyler Perry or John Singleton
• Terry McMillian or J. California Cooper or Toni Morrison
• Marvin Gaye or Donny Hathaway or Al Green
• Birthdays or Christmas or Thanksgiving

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

In The Maw of Judgement

"Somebody needs to pay, for all my children and my mine and Gary's, all our suffering... somebody needs to be held accountable, and they needs to pay!"

The lady featured in this video is named Angel Adams. She has 15 children by three different men. The quote above is Angel’s frustrating cry for help. She was removed from her two bedroom apartment, to a hotel room and is now staying in a living space provided by the city with twelve of her children.

What caught my attention was that Angel blamed everybody for her circumstances except herself. She came off ungrateful, belligerent and dare I say ignorant. She eventually ended up in court and was found in contempt because she refused to answer the judge’s question about if she was pregnant again or not.

She has since received donations and assistance from caring community members, but it’s still not enough. Having twelve kids is a really large load and of course, this woman’s story has created a firestorm of activity on some of your favorite websites. The reactions on comment threads range from disgust to anger to pity.

I for one am ambivalent. Having grown up around women in similar circumstances, my emotions are a mixture of anger and disbelief. Sadly, there are women like Angel in any ghetto U.S.A. And as ridiculous as their choices seem to us, there are children that still need to be clothed and fed. I feel that this is a classic case of immaturity meeting irresponsibility and driving off of a cliff.

What are your thoughts about women that continue to have children and can’t afford them? There are many reasons why(Psychological, emotional), but what kind of solution based programs would you create that may curb the problem?