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Lessons From A Black Brat

Sooooo, I spent Thanksgiving 2007 visiting friends in Indianapolis and family in Chicago.  What kind of soul would go on vacation just before the end of semester 1 in Graduate School? 

 

I don’t know about you, but I dread the question, “Where are you from?”  Moving from Maryland, to California, to Indiana, to North Carolina, and back to Maryland I don’t have a place to call home.  Don’t get it twisted though…I’m not a Military Brat and this is not a Pitty Party! 

 

I won’t use this blog to tell my life story, but rather to share the lessons of my journeys and to shed a LITTLE light on the people they call Brats.  Brats sacrifice a home for priceless experiences and rich memories.  An assortment of cultures, values, trends and behaviors result in a mixed-breed like none other!  Brats may be odd, but we have an interesting perspective on travelling and meeting people from various backgrounds.

 

Here are some lessons I’ve learned …

 

San Diego, California:  There is no perfect place.  Sunny Diego comes close to perfection with its mild weather and gorgeous mountains and valleys, but there are earthquakes, wild fires and serious droughts.

 

West Lafayette, Indiana:  To be a part of the minority can be beneficial.  At times I felt awkward because I was the only black girl in sight and the culture of most of my peers didn’t mesh well with mine.  From this I’ve learned to be independent, fearless and able to adapt to the most uncomfortable situations…you won’t catch me following the crowd!

 

Raleigh, North Carolina:  The dirty south is so fresh and so clean.  Yep, North Carolina, among other southern states, is making some major contributions to society in terms of education for African-Americans.  Living in Cary, NC, I was 20 minutes away from THREE Historically Black Colleges/Universities.  I loved being surrounded by black folks who challenge stereotypes!

 

Baltimore County, Maryland:  Originality is the key to enjoying life.  Black people in the Baltimore area do not care what other people think.  Some speak a different dialect of the English language–For instance, they say DUG when they mean DOG.  Known for their own sense of style, people in Baltimore have taught me to truly value my own original ideas.

 

Soooooooooo, when I’m really stressed out, revisting the places that have helped to develop my character is the BEST MOTIVATION EVER!      

 

 

November 27, 2007 Posted by | African American dilemma, Blog, NCCU | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Truthiness” and Other Mess

 

Who is a teacher?  Who is an expert?  Who are we to believe either of them?  And heck, where can the truth be found and what in the world are facts?

 

I remember an incident that happened thirty some years before I was born.  My dad, then an elementary school black kid in the mid-1950s, sat in his class full of white students in Los Angeles, California only to look up to his teacher’s finger pointed straight at him and hearing the factual sounding statement, “You are a Negro.  You have no history.”  Remembering this incident, my dad began to question every authority, teacher, book and word that he heard or read.

 

I’m still struggling with the concept of this “truthiness” term that Stephen Colbert plays around with to describe what people know without the help of evidence, facts, or intellectual thought.  It’s funny because I make up words as they are needed, and I love to throw a “ness” on the end of just about anything, but never would I have thought of coining the term “truthiness.”  The truth in itself has always been blurred for me as the daughter of an African-American studies/political science professor who questions and challenges what is represented as the truth in culture, politics and history.  What we choose to accept as the truth must always be questioned, researched and verified before it gets buried under a lie.  With that being said, I can only accept the term “truthiness” as a “temporarish” word, representing the twisted, endless road to the truth.  “Truthiness” must be the first step in arriving at some agreeable conclusion, but it certainly can’t be the last.

 

All this talk about “truthiness” reminds me of writing research papers at William G. Enloe High School and North Carolina Central University.  Of course all papers required sources and teachers made it clear that using the internet was not acceptable, unless the author could be proven reputable.  I wondered how any author could be trusted for that matter.  The complete history of black Americans was left out of all of my U.S. History textbooks and if I hadn’t been encouraged to think for myself I’d still believe everyone who said Christopher Columbus discovered America.  Ha! 

 

On top of all this mess, there’s 9/11.  We certainly can’t just accept what history books have to say about the devastation that occurred that day.  Sure enough, information is leaking that suggests our government had something to do with the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.  Do a little of your own research on YouTube or just google the mess out of 9/11 and see what you find.

 

And when you find something you like, go ahead and add it to Wikipedia if it’s not there already.  Why not?  We’re all googling and searching for the truth anyway.  Just keep in mind that no one can be trusted and we all have to think for ourselves whether we believe in “truthiness” or not.  Darn.       

     

October 17, 2007 Posted by | "truthiness", African American dilemma, Blog, Google | , , | 2 Comments

Don’t Leave Hip-Hop When It’s in Trouble

I have hip-hop on my mind, as I often do, because I am hip-hop. I grew up with hip-hop, listening to people like Da Brat, Lil Kim, Nas, Jay-Z, Biggie and Tupac, to name just a few. I’m guilty of writing down lyrics and memorizing songs in junior high school because I loved hip-hop. In high school I listened to freestyle battles at lunchtime and on the bus. I’d like to testify that I have gone to college and have a good job with my hip-hop.

 

The loudest voice in today’s black community gets a bad rap, which disappoints me. A lot of rappers have gone from talking about guns and violence to flaunting their money, cars, and clothes. Some rappers talk about selling drugs and degrade women by calling us bitches and hoes and some say “money over bitches,” and rhyme about pimping women.

 

People seem to pay most attention to the bad rap, and for all the wrong reasons. I pay attention to the affects of slavery, destroyed families, segregation and poverty on black people that are overlooked, but well represented in hip-hop. Curse words and materialism distract many people from hearing messages that are essential in understanding the African American position today.

 

The fact is, many black males are failing in school and going to prison at an alarming rate, and I’ll step out there and say that nearly all of them want to be rappers or involved with the entertainment industry somehow. More black women are succeeding in the professional world than black men and the gap is increasing. Collectively, black women are uplifting the statistics of the black community with our hip-hop and hope for more opportunities given to black men with no role models.

 

Many black women still have not given up on hip-hop. Never would I abandon black men under any circumstances because I am hip hop. When I listen to rap I hear black people with high aspirations who use similes, metaphors, word play and yes, profanity and slang to describe their lives. Why stop recording history? Hip-hop is my soul and it represents the African American dilemma of my generation and I’ll rap it, dance to it, and blast it in my car as long as it lives.

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This blog was inspired by the editor’s note in the September 2007 edition of Vibe Vixen.

October 5, 2007 Posted by | African American dilemma, Hip hop | , , | 2 Comments