27Jan

Reclaiming Kindness

I’ve been told good help is not only hard to find but almost impossible as I attempt a year long journey on house repairs.  Right now I’m trying to get a wall painted that was damaged by water from a roof leak.  The wall has been in it’s present condition for two years but I’m not complaining.  I finally found someone who wanted to repair the damaged part of the roof and not the whole roof. That took two years as I fought with insurance agents and roofing companies on what really needed to be done to the roof.  Finally we have moved beyond and there is not longer a risk of a leak.

I was so excited I jumped right into the paint job.  The first guy must have summed me up to be a fool when he quoted 2,000 for one room.  I think people should be paid what they asked for as entrepreneurs in the free world.  So I told him thanks for his time and that I would have to get back to him shortly all the while I was cursing him out under my breath.  I then went to the sea of friends and found other resources.  Because it’s my money and I too have the right to decide how much I want to pay.  The next runner up gave me a quote that was over 50% cheaper and brought a smile to my face.  We had a deal.

My painter has stood me up two times.  I mean he responded and shared some situations had come up.  The second time he stood at my door as he explained.  And honestly I saw a genuine person not talking no bull shit.  I actually developed concern as he relayed to me what had come up.  I was a little disappointed but totally understanding.  My wall wasn’t going to get worked on that day but he had a situation that could affect his livelihood.  I get it.  There are real things happening to folks in life and we need to be more generous and kind to one another.  It will come back I promise.

Honestly, I felt good about extending kindness.  By the way, my potential painter looked really bad.  I think all of us could be more kind with one another.  So many are like tight rubber bands as they go through their day.  An it’s okay.  A smile.  A hug.  A pause.  Take time to notice a child.  Have a conversation with a stranger.  Like folks statuses on fb page.  Give out 10 compliments.  Pay for the person’s grocery behind you (if it’s under 5.00 right).  Laugh at a joke that’s not funny.  Look at the lines in an elderly person’s face.  Spend quality time with someone.  Take a different route home.  Play a game with your family.  Hug someone for a long time until they let you go.  Write a letter and mail it.  Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk.  Hold the door open for the person behind you.  I think you get my point.  Reclaim kindness.

 

 

 

14Jan

Breastfeeding in Public: The Work Is Not On Us

Back in my early days of social work, I had one mother who was working hard to retain custody of her kids.  She had four kids and had been financially sustained by a drug dealer/lover.  He died and so did her source of income.  The home he brought for them caught on fire and was condemned.  Having no place to go she went back to the condemned building and started living there with her children.  When they were discovered, the kids were instantly removed due to the their physical condition.  At first mom was resistant to DCFS system but then she had an epiphany.  She started complying and it became obvious she was going to be one of the few parents to get her kids back.

During the process of getting her kids back she got pregnant with another child.  We were in court one day when the baby got hungry.  She whipped out her breast and began feeding the baby.  At first I was a little surprised she pulled it out in public but upon further reflection though how else could she get it out.  It’s not easy working with the breast and a crying hungry child.  After she got the baby on her breast and a constant flow was coming out she put a blanket over it’s head.  The baby wanted none of that and would push the blanket off.  I realized the baby wanted to see what was going on and did not like being hidden/covered.  It was a private situation in a public context.

As I aforementioned, I was a little awkward with seeing my client’s breast.  I reflected on my own awkwardness and it was mine.  This mother had chosen to breastfeed, which is the healthiest milk to give to a baby I believe.  She was being attentive to child #5 while trying to regain custody of her other four children.  She was providing not only nourishment but being nurturing.  She didn’t have a problem.  And if I felt a little bit uncomfortable it was my issue and my problem to deal with on my own time.

Recently there seems to be some energy around mother’s breastfeeding in public.  I am shocked that a woman’s breast is garnishing this much conversation.  But then I realize it’s just another form of sexism in European countries as we understand it is mostly men who are having the problem.  It’s not much difference than our obsession with the hijab.  This is bothering me, as I just finished watching a man humiliate a mother on a subway for breastfeeding her child.  While the commuters came to her defense, I could see her getting visibly upset, and furthermore, no woman should have to deal with such badgering.

So I have a response for upset men (and women) who have a problem with public breastfeeding.  The work is on women not to get pregnant.  If we get pregnant the work is on us to have the baby because to not have the baby is murder. The work is on us to raise the child.  And in heterosexual households if the man leaves his pretty young thing, we are now lowered into poverty and the work is on us to take a little and stretch it far.  The work is on us to teach and provide moral instruction.  The work is on us to nurture the baby.  The work is on us to feed the baby.  I probably missed a few.  So get this you need to work on your discomfort.  Work on your privilege.  Work on your compassion.  Work on your ignorance.  Work on your insecurity.  Work on making the world a more human place where breastfeeding mother can whip out their breast and feed the world.  With all that mothers do, can you do one thing, work on yourself.  And if none of that works, turn your head because that has got to be much easier than a woman undressing to get the breast out and maneuvering the hungry curious baby.  Work on you!

 

 

13Jan

Living Outside the Box: Bowie & Lorraine & Bill

So my Cousin Lorraine’s husband died and I’m suppose to give her a call.  And I’m thinking about what to say.  And now the call is over and I’m thinking that wasn’t bad.  Cousin Lorraine sounded pretty upbeat.  And then I start doing what people often do when someone dies, remembering.  I don’t have a lot of experience with Cousin Lorraine so most of what I know is hearsay.  But I remember that Cousin Lorraine just got married at 70 years old after burying a few years before her mother at 90.  She rides her bike and swims frequently.  Bill did do even up until the last day.  Cousin Lorraine is pretty active and lived her whole life dancing between single and dating.  She has lived a full life.  So when at 70 news spreader she was getting married it sounded as odd as my play mom getting divorced at 80.  As odd as it sounds we think of 70 as too old and why.  But I had enough decency to never ask and so I can only imagine.  My cousin married Bill and they had over a decade together.  They lived life not by necessarily our standards.  And his family took in a 70 year old only child.  And my cousin is so happy.  She had over 10 good years that probably knocked love out of the ball field.  And I believe it was worth it.

I am reminded of another two people who had such chemistry.  One was my worker and another worker in another department.  She was black and he was white.  They would talk non stop.  There was a flow with them.  But she believed in dating only black men.  I can’t knock it… but one day the supervisors mentioned the obvious connection.  I’m not saying they should have got together but noting the obstacle that stopped any chance of them together.  A few years ago I was saddened when I got the call that she had died after battling cancer. She did marry.  And she did have one child.  But again death brings memories and so I tried to remember.  And I remember two people who loved each other and had an inseparable bond.  That is all.

And Bowie who battled cancer and lost that one but won at life.  As he weaved in and out of relationships and music and creativity I realize I can’t even peg him which is as it should.   Others are trying and have tried to label him this or that and you shouldn’t try.  He was many things as he challenged, like Jaden Smith, our notion of sexual conformity.  And so no doubt he lived outside of the box.  And when someone lives outside of the box and we find it hard to label them it makes us uncomfortable instead of seeing it as opportunity to enrich one’s life.  His words and creativity, like all music and art, took us places we would dare not otherwise go.

I want to live my live outside of the box.  By that I mean my cousin chose to enter into something that obviously would draw eyes.  She chose to enter into something that was cloaked in visual mortality. But often what is good for us draws visual obstacles and those judgmental eyes, even sometime our own glaring eyes.  And I realize the quality of 10 years is pushing me to explore how I might more fully live my life authentically in ways that pleases God and me.  And I am grateful for my partner who gives a mean back massage when I most needed.  I am grateful for the observation of two precocious boys.  I am grateful for the laughter me and my mother stumbled upon more and more these days.  I am grateful for conversation after church with members that speaks to my heart more than the organized worship.    I am grateful for family and friends who come to our home and/or invite me to their home. I am grateful for tea  shared with play moms.  I am grateful for nourishing memories of those who have transitioned over.  And I want even more nourishment for my soul as I learn how to live outside the box.

11Jan

Hello from the Other Side: The Oregon Ranchers

So there are ranchers who have seized a federal building in Oregon as a stand off against the government’s control of the land.  This stand off was precipitated by the arrest and re-sentencing of Dwight and Steve Hammond who abused federal land.  The Oregon ranchers feels as though these two men were targeted by the government.  They had already gone to jail but a judge later ruled that the terms fell short of minimum sentences requiring them to serve about four more years.  These two individuals left for prison last Monday and they have expressed they want nothing to do with the stand off that is still going on.  So the people the Oregon ranchers say they are representing have said you do not represent us.  The community has said you do not represent us.  But they represent some bodies.

So it’s a land issue.  While the federal government owns about 24% of land in America the government owns a lot of land in Western states.  It owns 85% of Nevada, 66% of Utah, 62% of Idaho and Alaska and 53% of Oregon.  Environmentalist say that rancher’s mining, logging and ranching have run roughshod for decades on public land and left a legacy of pollution for taxpayers to clean up.  They have been known to break environmental laws and refuse to follow the rules.  However the ranchers feel like they need more land to manage their animals.  And they feel like the land should be managed locally and not by the government.  We are talking about a lot of land here.  The ranchers want to bring attention to their cause which they seem to have effectively done with the seizing of federal property.

As a minority in America, I am amazed that we have allowed a couple of dozen people with guns to reside on federal property with no physical force.  I understand that history yielded unfavorable results with a similar situation and so more precaution has been used this time.  I also understand that the ranchers feel like the government has singled them out and not been kind – restricting land usage, not renewing land usage contracts, raising fees for land usage, etc.  Their relationship has grown ever hostile with the government.  Like most of us they want to live their lives with some amount of autonomy and fair wages.  Their cattle is what financially sustains them and they are experiencing a blockage.  And if this is a land injustice for them should they not peacefully protest?  Is that not their right?  But taking over federal property I agree with locals who are sympathetic to their cause but not with how they went about it?  I think they have been inhaling their own rhetoric a bit too much.  But how do you get the government’s attention?  Well they certainly got mine.

I am trying to understand the Oregon ranchers because I want someone to understand what’s important to me.   And I realize in all of my efforts and reading I still have a ways to go.  And it strikes me as sad that we are so polarized as a country that getting to the other side seems almost impossible.  We really are strangers in the day.  It is out of that strangeness that the infamous rancher, Cliven Bundy, can say he wonders if black people were more happy with their whole families, under slavery than broken up now living on government subsidies.  For most black and liberals we feel nauseas immediately, but after the stench I recognize that the amount of travel I have done to understand the Oregon ranchers perhaps needs to be reciprocated.  The travel I have done to get to their side has not been reciprocated by the Oregon ranchers in understanding the land originally belonged to Native Americans.  I have listened to the Oregon ranchers because no one cries out simply to cry; generally we react because someone is stepping on our toes.  And for now I hear you from the other side.

 

 

 

07Jan

Get the Hell Out: Professor Larycia Hawkins and Wheaton College

I initially support Professor Larycia Hawkins wearing the hijab as an act of solidarity with the Muslim community who has received a fair amount of discrimination.  As one who has observed discrimination against Muslims (not hard to do) I am glad for acts of kindness.  Like others I was quick to feel frustrated with Wheaton College for placing a black female tenured professor on leave for her beliefs.  I felt a disdain, not new, for a college that is so conservative in its views it does not allow for freedom and creativity counter cultural to their belief system.  I was right there with the liberals though I am not a liberal and feel it is important to distinguish.  The truth is Larycia had beat me to an act I’ve been wanting to do for years.  So I understand this hijab wearing as an act on the part of a Christian to be affirming of another religious group.

I have had a change of heart.  I still support Professor Hawkins act but I think she needs to resign from Wheaton.  Wheaton is not a secular school.  Wheaton is not a secular school with denominational affiliation.  Wheaton is not a progressive school.  What Wheaton is is a evangelical Christian school that believes in one God that is distinctly a Christian God.  And it is unashamedly committed to it’s own belief system.  There is one triune God who has no relationship with the Muslim God or any other religious group God.  And at the beginning of employment, employees are asked to sign on to this belief system.  They were and have been transparent about their belief system.  They raise money based on it.  Families send their kids based on it.  They have existed this long based on this belief system.  So where was Professor Hawkins head when she signed the document.  The school has not changed but maybe Professor Hawkins did and trying to stay somewhere that is not a good fit makes me question you.  The shoe is too small.

Professor Hawkings impresses me as someone who is open and inclusive.  She strikes me as someone who is conscious about sin as a societal act in the world.  She strikes me as one who believes justice work is a part of her vocation.  She is compassionate for others and that compassion is expressed in courageous acts.  I have much respect for her stance and her convictions.  But as far as it relates to Wheaton it’s time to get the hell out.  You don’t really believe as they do.  You cannot support their closed minded views of God and spirituality.  You signed the document but you have not upheld it.  You break bread with sinners on Halsted.  You want to say that Christians serve the same God as Muslims.  You have been brought in 3 others times because your statements and your life are not congruent with the religious beliefs of this institution.  Wheaton has one problem and it’s you.  It’s time for you to get the hell out and find another space that welcomes who you are.  You will be glad you did.

06Jan

We Don’t Want You Either: A Letter to Not Black People

So here we go again.  Another miseducated black person, Lark Voorhies, who declares she’s not black.  The argument goes something like this, I am an American;  I wasn’t born in Africa so I’m not African.  At this point I want to send you for a week long stay with Lauryn Hill so that she can school you.  We’ve heard this a few times now from known celebrities who are able to cushion their ignorance with economic privilege.  They consider themselves enlightened but really they are rejecting their heritage.  Whether you go by Black Negro, or African American, really, they are all the same thing.  I’d rather not get too caught up in semantics right now.  What such folks are saying, in essence, is that they do not want to be black.  You don’t hear European Americans saying I wasn’t born in Europe so I’m not European.   It’s only African Americans who didn’t want to be African Americans in the first place that find idiosyncratic reasoning to distance themselves from their own skin.  We are so eager to claim our Indian ancestry and European ancestry with shame for our Kunte Kinte roots.

I take it personal when black people and in particular black celebrities say they are not African American.  This includes biracial individuals as well.  There is no group that celebrates your success more than the black community.  For example, when Gabrielle Douglas won the gold medal at the Olympics, black folks were cheering.  When the William sisters play tennis, no one is rooting for them more than the black community.  We didn’t even watch the game until they came on the scene.  The same for Tiger Woods.  We crave s/heroes to call our own.  And when you turn around and say I’m not African American it’s like you shit on those who love you most.  And that’s not cool.  It’s not right to treat your fan base shitty.  It’s not right to not appreciate the ones who show you major love and support for what you do.  Keep those insensitive comments to yourself and work out your internal stuff in therapy; you have the financial resources.

So I have a response for the African American celebrities who do not want to be African American.  If you don’t want to be black, know this, we don’t want you either.   But you must report to the nearest DMV and turn in your black state id and driver’s license.  And when you get in trouble, don’t look to the black community to support you.  Make sure you give all credit to the white race for your blunders and ignorance.  When you are down and out, don’t look our way because you are forever banned from our hospitality.  And when you get in a tight bind, don’t come running to us.  And when you think you deserve that award, that you got nominated for only, do not look to Essence, BET and other cultural sensitive institution to give you any awards on behalf of the black people that were rooting for you along.  And you must also return your shape, your athletic ability, your gift with words, your love for people, your laughter, and your intelligence back to us because these too are a part of your rich African American heritage.  It is your right not to be African American, though the police might still confuse you for one; and it is our God given right not to acknowledge you as an African American.  And remember this, we do not want you either.

(note:  I post this note with some hesitation because there are some rumors that the celebrity’s name mentioned above has mental health issues.  My intent is to focus on the issue and not a particular person).

 

04Jan

Why is the Black Community in Denial about Bill Cosby?: The Other Ism

The black community is clear about racism.  We are clear that the road for Black in America has been stony.  We are clear that discrimination still exist.  We are clear that black men are being incarcerated at a higher rate than any other group.  We are clear about the lack of resources most often not available to us.  In the words of Jesse Jackson we are very clear that the playing field is not fair.  And so when our black men are attacked, true or not, such as O.J. Simpson, Clarence Thomas, and now Bill Cosby we are quick to defend them.  And good black heterosexual women who love our men like Jill Scott, Phylicia Rashad, and Whoopi Goldberg are ready to throw their bodies and voices out there in support.  There is only one minor problem, in looking at race we forgot about gender discrimination (i.e. sexism).  And since one cannot be passionate about two things at the same time, we stick by race without ever really having an honest conversation about gender.

I proudly watched every episode of the Bill Cosby Show, Good Times, The Jeffersons, and because my grandmother watched it, Sanford & Son.  I watched A Different World.  I loved the stuff and could not get enough of it.  I loved the Bill Cosby Show and Good Times because I thought they both portrayed the black family in loving relationships.  I love the gift of Dr. Huxtable.  Let me be clear Bill Cosby is talented and he offered a gift to us with his character Dr. Huxtable.  And the humor innate to black people was present in both sitcoms.  They tackled serious issues.  And nothing, or nobody or even the present situation can take away the value of that show.  The Bill Cosby Show was great for that time period.  And I still love the occasional clips on youtube that are shared on social media.  I loved that show.

However, our allegiance to race and black men has often caused us to  look over and be less diligent about class and gender and sexuality.  We are not betraying our allegiance by somehow recognizing the multiple ways in which individuals can be oppressed.  Some of us get an A in our understanding of racism but we flunk in sexism and heterosexism.  We flunk at understanding how women have been exploited by men (all races and ethnicities).  We flunk at understanding the power dynamics of male pastors, politicians, professionals, and pimps.  We flunk at understanding how we have domestic violence, rape, molestation, etc. in which women are overwhelmingly the victims.  We flunk at understanding why men do it, and continue with little consequences across the globe. We flunk at understanding that up until the last couple of decades laws around domestic violence and rape were like slaps on the hand.  We flunk at understanding when a woman comes out about her sexual experience the world is hostile and accusatory.

In my long memory bank, I will never forget the story of Cicely Tyson who was married to Miles Davis.  Cicely is 90 and has received numerous awards including the most recent Kennedy Center Honor.  She just finished up starring in a Broadway play.  When asked when will she retire she responds retired folks die so I will retire when God says so.  But decades ago she lived in a prison with her husband who beat the crap out of her.  She was playing slaves on the screen and enslaved in her home, full time oppression.  One time the police got called.  They came over and had a beer with Miles Davis.  They talked and joke and left Cicely in a violently turbulent home.  You can probably chance the names and the story is the same across America.  And Miles nor Ike nor Singleton got defamed for their assault on women and the black man’s reputation was left untarnished.  And the black community got to remain in denial.

We, as the black community, have to learn that our denial comes at a great cost.  Our denial continues to give permission to men that it’s okay to violate and victimize women.  Our denial communicates an unhealthy love ethics.  Our denial says R.J. Kelly keep writing your music.  Our denial gives the rap industry permission to relegate us as bitches as hoes instead of asking why the hell Drake is she not calling your cell phone.  Our denial lets Chris Brown keep making music without ever dealing with his internal issues.  Our denial allows Spike Lee to sell sex, as a revolution, in his most recent movie Chiraq because the thing we’re not talking about has the power to change our relationship with each other.  We are so much in denial that the trailer of Barbershop 3, where Nikki Minaj character informs us that her booty is like walking out with an Amex and she never gets denied, doesn’t even offend us.  And now we’ve confused holding Bill Cosby accountable with tarnishing his character the Bill Cosby show because we are denial and cannot hold in tension the targeting of black men with the sexual assault of women.

 

01Jan

Tell the Truth

Danielle and I went to see the movie, “Concussion, and it was a really good movie.  The main character, Dr. Bennet Omalu, discovered that in football a certain blow to the head could cause a concussion that is deadly.  When he uncovered this realization the National Football League was scared of what this information might mean to the most money producing sport in the world.  They tried to discredit him, and in discrediting him, discredit his research.  But more men died and the truth had to be recognized. But in the process the powerful did everything to suppress this information.  At one point in the movie he says “tell the truth.”  He says it repeatedly with such force.  And I, a student of love, feel the power of this proclamation.  And while I am known for being honest, it is at this instance I see the subtle difference between honesty and telling the truth.

A long time ago I was molested by my stepbrother, Eddie.  I moved on with life and I have lived a good life.  Trauma did not stop me but it has impacted me.  It has impacted the ways in which I am open with sexual partners.  When it happened to me, I was shocked.  I was visiting my Dad in Guam and so I was alone and far away from my family.  When I returned back to America, the first few people I told were less than compassionate.  After a while, it got more than cumbersome even to share my story.  The present moment took hold and the event faded.

My Dad always wanted his family to be close, step and biological.  I always gave a verbal yes but I knew I had no interest.  He and my stepmother took it to mean I did not like her or my step brothers.  Over the years he would always state his desire to have us all close.  Family was very important to my Dad.  And yet I had no desire to be in the same space with my step brother, Eddie.  I began to think I should tell my Dad but I lacked courage.  And it was easy to procrastinate because we 14 hours away from each other.  And then my Dad got cancer and it certainly wasn’t the right time to lay the bomb shell on him.  And then he was dying and I knew I would not tell him.  And there on hospice in the hospital, over 20 years, I would come face to face with Eddie.  My step mother was happy that we were all together.  We were cordial and I was angry.

So here is my truth, my step brother Eddie Tudela molested me multiple times in the summer of 1986.  He would come to me in night and do things and in the day he acted as if I were invisible.  He berated me to my other stepbrother.  But at night when everyone was asleep he did not find me as reprehensible.  And I was quiet then as I have been quiet for much of my life.  And this is not disclosure for sympathy because frankly I don’t need it.  I really don’t.  I am sharing because I needed to tell my truth just for the record.  I can hear Dr. Omalu saying, “tell the truth.”

I now know that telling the truth is not a one time act.  And I know that my own wings are partially clipped and damaged.  That is not all of me but it is part of me.  I am honest, and I am direct and harsh but I sometimes have cut corners because telling the truth is often hard work.  To tell the truth also means one has to engage principalities and powers.  To tell the truth means you have to be ready for violent reactions because there will be those who do not want to hear it.  I knew this and perhaps that why I never told my Dad but I regret I didn’t.  I now know I still need to be able to “tell the truth.”  That is one of my resolutions in 2016, to tell the truth.  Happy New Year!

 

23Dec

Give Steve Harvey A Break

This past month I made a mistake.  Well I didn’t know it was a mistake until someone was hurt and I realized that I had not made the best of decisions.  As part of damage control I apologized to all those involved.  But there was one person who wanted to stay in that place of hurt.  This person is known for holding on to stuff a while.  The rivers run deep.  And that’s okay but I feel like at some point it’s right and healthy to move forward.  Everyone else is making steps forward.  And I respect that this person has chosen to stay upset for one or more reasons.

As I listen to the mistake that Steve Harvey made, I come to it with awareness that people do make mistakes.  They say the wrong thing.  They do the wrong thing or do not do the right thing which sometimes can be two different things.  We stumble.  We fall.  We turn in the wrong direction.  We get lost.  We find our way but not before making mistakes.  Most of us make mistakes often, weekly, daily.  It’s really a part of the human plight.  There is a saying that, “shit happens.”  Well “mistakes happen” too.  The man apologized.

There is a big different for me between intentionally doing something that has terrible consequences and unintentional.  Steve Harvey accidentally goofed.  He feels bad about giving the crown away to the wrong lady.  I believe, with the world looking on, he feels badly.  His mistake was caught on camera.  It affected the runner up who thought she was the winner.  And folks are talking about it all over the world.  I am actually shocked how abrasive folks, especially black women, have been with their comments.  It’s almost as if they already had a problem with him and are using this mistake as reason to shoot him down, assassination style.

I don’t get it.  I hear a lot of labels placed on Steve Harvey and his treatment of the black woman.  Maybe because I know so little about show biz I missed this one too.  But he loves his wife.  He loves his children.  He’s sentimental and cries at the drop of a hat. He tries to do good.  And he uses humor in a positive way.  And maybe he is patriarchal.  Can we find another black man to attack. This man is trying to do something positive and even if we don’t totally get him, and some of his statements lack awareness, he’s not a socially conscious guy.  He is not academic.  He’s a blue collar cut guy who made a mistake and knows how to make some of us laugh.  He apologized.  Let’s move on.

17Dec

No Pussy No Peace

So I went to see Spike Lee’s new movie Chiraq.  My best friend said it was an excellent movie.  My colleague said it was a waste of time.  Numerous folks weighed in that it was one of Spike Lee’s better movies while others lingered between ambivalent and unsure.  So with varying opinions, I decided to go see the movie for myself.  At least I was supporting black film.  And so having seen the movie, I can understand the varying opinions.  I have decided not to critique the movie but to ponder the ways in which the movie engaged me.

First, I felt immense sadness over the killing of black bodies in the streets of Chicago.  True to Spike Lee’s style he hits you with it at the beginning of his movie.  In spite of Jennifer Hudson’s mediocre acting skills, I could imagine and feel the pain of a parent discovering their child had been killed by, what appears to my rational thinking mind as, a senseless act of violence.  The crowd stood there and nobody saw a thing.  I get the hopelessness and defeat of a parent trying to raise her child in Chiraque.  But where else is a poor black single parent going to go?  Early on you are gripped with a sense that there is a real war that is killing our young people right here in Chicag0 a.k.a. Chiraque.

Second I like, if not amused by, the link between the women in Liberia who prayed and took a stance on the violence in their country and the premise in this movie that it will take the women of the world to bring peace to our war ridden communities.  In the history annals, men create war.  Men do fight.  Men do use violence to resolve conflict.  Men are responsible for the mass killings here in Chicago, policemen or gang members.  And perhaps it will take women to deposit a different solution to the violence.  Since we are short on solutions I think Spike Lee raises an intriguing and compelling point.

Third, I think Spike Lee is head on to point out the power of pussy.  Heterosexual men ( and same gendered women) grow weak without it.  So whether humorous or satire or whatever his purpose was in using pussy, I think we all get the point.  Alice Walker academically argued the power of pussy and Spike has used mainstream entertainment to make the same point.  The lack of pussy will cause people to do strange things, maybe, including end the violence.  But I also think it’s a far stretch because women will never unite on that level to put pussy on lockdown but might we understand just how powerful it is we could use it as a way to empower our selves.  Even if women never put pussy on lockdown nationally, I like sleeping with the premise that it could happen.

I’ll leave others to say what Spike Lee movie was not.  There were holes, no doubt.  But for me he treated seriously an issue that often is polarized.  Regardless of what your ideology is around the violence in our inner cities, and in particular Chicago, something has to happen.  I am aware that even for me I cannot continue to live the way I do.  The numbers quoted at the beginning of the movie, more than casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, pierce my heart.  We have to do something about the violence and maybe it begins with women.