Feature Friday: Twist

Feature Friday: Twist

As Drake says, “Better late than never.”  So here’s my review of Twist at the Alliance Theatre since I’m New Orleans-bound in just a couple of hours.

 

Overall, the musical was worth seeing.  This “twist” on the story of Oliver Twist was full of great music and great storylines. A result of an interracial couple in New Orleans in the early 1900s that experiences the wrath of a mob, Twist is born in the orphanage that his mother drags herself to while dying after watching her fiance carried off.  Twist is ridiculed for being a “half-breed” by the other orphans as is sold to a funeral parlor director.  During his short stint with the funeral home, Twist learns that he has a great dancing talent and shows out during a second line before running away and joining a gang of lost boys who are selling libations during Prohibition for a guy who turns out to be the dance partner of Twist’s deceased father.  This guy also just happens to be booed up with the girl who delivered Twist and got a locket from his mother before she died, which the girl still had after all those years.

The story becomes twisted when the gang leader, who also owns a cafe in the Quarter, is approached by Twist’s uncle, who happened to be a member of the mob who killed Twist’s parents.  The uncle learns that as long as he has no proof that the baby of his sister is dead, he can’t get her part of their inheritance.  So he tries to buy Twist from the gang leader, who at first, despite his girlfriend’s pleas, heavily considers the agreement.  Thank goodness for the family attorney, who just so happened to love the work of Twist’s father and who has an affinity for protecting youth, who steps in and gives Twist a safe and happy home through all of this drama.

The two main issues that came up in the musical included of course, the lack of belonging for interracial people on either side of the spectrum and the need for adult influence and love in the lives of children.  Now, I had a slight problem with the interracial aspect of things.  In New Orleans as well as in other parts of the world, interracial people were seen as a notch up from black.  So although they were not accepted by white people, they were not necessarily “rejected” by blacks–many times, they chose not to be grouped in, instead going by names like quadroon and octoroon.  Interracial people in these days of New Orleans, many times had a choice between living among blacks or living in this created world of their own, where the women became concubines of Frenchmen who traveled back and forth between lands.  So it kinda disturbed me that in the musical, blacks and whites were banding together (getting along although they killed Twist’s parents for banding together) to ostracize Twist.  It was just a really weird dynamic.  For instance, in the orphanage scene, the black and white kids were in cahoots to make Twist’s life a living hell.  Now, this may have been a little more believable if  the white kids were sitting at a table of their own and the black kids at the other, and neither would give Twist a seat.  But for them all to be seeming to be loving each other across racial lines but hating Twist?  No sense.

Most importantly, though, the production did a good job of illustrating that children will accept love anywhere they can get it.  Even if it’s not under great circumstances.  It made me really consider what I think about whites adopting black children vs. blacks adopting them.  I mean, in the grand scheme of things, there are so many children out there that need love that I don’t really think about what race the adopting parents are–I just want them to be good parents who really just want to love kids.  Yes, there’s the issue of ensuring culture in a child, but I’d rather a child be placed with awesome white parents than sucky black parents (as would have been the case in the production–a single well-off white attorney who loves children and can actually tell Twist about his father’s legacy versus a black couple that is shacking up and sending kids out in the streets everyday to sell illegal liquor).  But the world isn’t so black and white.  There usually aren’t situations where a kid has a choice between the exact same family besides one being black and one being white.  So, I just say, those of you out there who really have the resources and the time and the love to adopt a child, go for it.  You won’t hear anything from me, regardless of your race or the child’s race.

Again, overall, the play was enjoyable.  Check out the Alliance Theatre to see what they have this season.  Reads and Reels will be seeing Nacirema Society mid-November, and I can’t wait!

It’s time for Halloween and my volunteer trip!

It’s time for Halloween and my volunteer trip!

I have no costume for myself as of yet, but I hope you like my “spooky” look on my blog.

I hope to have an AWESOME time this Halloween weekend.  I’m going to New Orleans to volunteer, and I am too excited.  New Orleans is my fave fave fave city, so I’m happy to have the chance to pitch in and do my part.  I hope to do this again next year.

There’s alot on my mind in terms of politics, relationships, fashion, and much more, but it’s not in sharable format.  So until I can make some sense of all this hodgepodge in my head…

Here’s a video about Post-Katrina Lower 9th Ward, where I’ll be working Sunday morning.

And here’s one of my fave party songs, which is from New Orleans.  I’ve been dancing to this mug for YEARS.  Some songs are just classics. 🙂

MLM: Life’s Challenges

MLM: Life’s Challenges

I picked this post, written 10/10/06, because it’s funny to me now, 4 years later, that I actually titled it “Life’s Challenges” (when the challenges seem like much more of blips on the radar–but maybe that’s a brain thing–maybe my current challenges are just as surmountable as they were then and as soon as I overcome them, I’ll be laughing about it). It’s also funny just how consistent I am.  In this post, I talk about someone who can dish smart aleck comments but can’t take them, I talk about my birthday plans, I talk about my social life, and I talk about being busy.  Well, guess what.  I was just dealing with someone who can dish the sarcasm but can’t take it; I just sent an email about part 1 of my birthday plans (an awesome trip to do some volunteer work in New Orleans, my fave city) and I’m still trying to figure out part 2; I was just telling a friend that I feel old now because it seems that now I hibernate in the winter with the exception of Red Tie Soiree and that I’m not the young socialite I used to be; and I am still as busy as ever (but now I have a handle on it).  I love it that even my blog shows what people tell me all the time–I’m one of the most consistent people alive.  Another thing that is consistent over time is that when I’m stressed or feeling challenged, although it’s hard sometimes, I try to focus on other, not so stressful parts of my life while overcoming the challenge (which is why only part of this post is actually about my challenges then).  Anywho, I hope you enjoy this window into the past.


I didn’t go to bed till about 5:30 this morning. And I have to leave my apt to 7:25 to ensure timely arrival to work. I left at 7:45. Yes, I was late. WHy did I stay up so late? Because my partner in one of my classes is something… He sent me his part of the paper we’re writing (mind you, I’m the one compiling our findings to make a consistent and worthwhile paper AND editing) at 12:15. YES, 12:15. And do you think he appreciates any of the extra I’ve had to give in order to make assignments even remotely okay? Nope, cuz he’s too worried about whether or not I’m kissing his ass (and I’m not). Every thing that I say results in a “Why are you so mean?” or “You shouldn’t be so sarcastic.” To which I reply, if you can’t take it, don’t dish it. He always has smart ass things to say, but he can’t handle when I simply reply. I know this is a test from above, so I’m trying to hold my peace and make it through this class without cursing him out. And the paper still isn’t done. But after his monologue about how we’re a team and if he needs to sacrifice to get it done, he will, I’m letting him. I’m sacrificing my assurance in myself to write a good paper to let him write a possibly mediocre one since I had to take off work last time we had an assignment because of his late ass. And he had the audacity to tell me how he’s juggling so much as if I’m not. UGH! Lord, help me through, PLEASE! But because I wrote most of it and gave him directions about what is needed to complete the paper, hopefully, he can’t botch it up too bad. And I’m still going to review it before we turn it in. I just hope I have enough time to edit if I need to.

Anyhow, on to more positive things to think about. I woke up because of a very plain but somehow very meaningful “Good morning.” text from someone I only see in a social setting every blue moon, and it really made me smile and get on up and tackle a new day on less than 2 hours sleep. Looks like I quite possibly got my mojo back. *hmmm* I need to find my calendar so that I can try to make time for special people.

I am throwing a birthday party the weekend before my birthday. I’m so excited about it. This weekend and next weekend we are gonna shop venues. I’m leaning toward the Royal since I’ve been there more than once and since it’s one of those low-key under-the-radar spots. But I’ll have to see if I can get the DJ to be a smidge more crunk. I usually like the laidback thing, but I have a feeling I’m gonna wanna shake my groove thang that night. But we have a copla more places on the list to check out. I would go back to Sutra (where I threw my graduation party) if they hadn’t tried to kick me out of my own party even though I wasn’t doing anything but sitting down looking inebriated. Ugh. But yeah I’m sure out of the places on this list we’ll find a good spot. I just gotta find me a super fly outfit. And I gotta do something with my hair. I don’t think I want the big fro that night. I think I’ll want a sleek sexy look. 🙂

Have I said on here how much I love being a little urbanite/socialite? I love mixing and mingling and expanding my social network. I like it that people know they can count on me to support them, whether it be a community service activity or a party or a roundtable discussion or a happy hour. I like being that girl that people love to send their evites to. I bask when people call during their event to ask where I am if I haven’t arrived yet. I didn’t really have a point for that besides that I just really enjoy the social part of my life.

Who am I kidding? I pretty much enjoy all parts of my life. Staying busy with the stuff at the top of my priority list keeps me happy. Yeah, I get stressed out every now and then, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have my hands in a bunch of worthwhile activities/projects at one time. I enjoy seeing projects from start to finish. I enjoy seeing stuff executed properly and successfully. I enjoy working with those people with whom I work very well. Oh yeah, and I enjoy making A-‘s on my first midterm! *yay me* I still want to push to do better on the second midterm and final, but I’m so happy that so far I have a solid A in that class. I’ll need it since I’m not so certain about making an A in the other class. And since my stream of consciousness has guided me full circle, I guess it’s time for me to sign off. Until next time, folks!

And I’m still talking about my hair and what to do when I’m not wearing a big fro.  lol. I have an event in a couple of weeks, and I need another “sleek” style.  We’ll see what happens.

Here’s a song to get you through life’s challenges.

Happy Monday, folks!

Feature Friday: Asheville, NC

Feature Friday: Asheville, NC

I’m currently in Asheville, NC, to attend an economic development research conference.  It is absolutely beautiful here. Just what the doctor ordered. Getting to explore and experience various communities is one of my favorite parts of my job.  I get to see (and help guide) what communities are doing to make themselves better while keeping the culture that makes each community so special.

Yesterday, I went on a trolley tour of the city, and despite the wind aggravating my current throat ailment, I really enjoyed it.  Asheville is full of so much history and beautiful architecture.  Downtown reminded me of a little European city.  Our tour guide said this is a city for the wacky, wild, and whimsical.  Sounds like my kinda place, right? I ate at the snazzy Grove Park Inn, which had awesome views of the Asheville landscape.  In addition to great conversation with colleagues, the food was yummo.  I had a porkchop with “FROG” jam.  FROG = figs, raspberry, orange, and ginger and a delectable dulce de leche creme brulee.  (Can you say good sleep?)

Well, you know me–Ilove to share the wealth.  Here are some interesting facts about Asheville.

  • During the Great Depression, Asheville had the highest debt per capita of any city in the entire country.  On Nov 20, 1930, four banks closed their doors.  But instead of squiggling out of it, Asheville officials vowed to pay off every single dollar of debt.  They finally got out of debt in 1977.  As a result, they have a charming skyline–they weren’t able to build any buildings or tear any down.  So by ’77 they had a bunch of great historical buildings hat probably wouldn’t have been there otherwise. They took advantage and invested in the preservation of them, and now they’re reaping the benefits.
  • The French Broad River, the 3rd oldest river in the world, runs through Asheville.
  • Asheville’s Biltmore Estate is the country’s largest privately owned home.
  • Writer Thomas Wolfe was from Asheville. (And who knew the guy was 6’7″?)
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda lived in Asheville.  Zelda was quite a character from what the tour guide told us.
  • Asheville has a history of being a health destination.  There’s lots of specialty and alternative medicine here.

If you need to get away, I highly recommend Asheville.  Bring your mom as I plan to do for a mother-daughter weekend, bring a boo for a romantic getaway, bring your artsy friends for an arts excursion, bring your outdoorsy friends for a mountain experience.  Lots to do here, and lots of stories to hear.  I’m sure I’ll be back soon.

So I’ll leave you with a song from an area native with a smooth, buttery voice. After “Closer I Get to You,” this is my fave of her songs.

Happy Friday, hunnies!

Almighty Debt

Almighty Debt

So last week, Reads and Reels along with TEO hosted an advance screening of CNN’s Black in America: Almighty Debt, which is airing in full tomorrow night. The event was well-attended, and people definitely had lots to say about the segment.  Here are some highlights.

  • Many people in the group, while they appreciated the topics touched on in Almighty Debt, felt that there should have been an added focus on those who have triumphed over debt.  They expressed that instead of showing all our problems, showing people who have overcome debt issues would have provided some hope to the watchers.  Some people thought the segment was realistic, and some thought it didn’t represent enough of the black diaspora.
  • In the piece, Pastor Soaries said that debt is a bigger problem than racism.  Some agreed, but others did not.  One attendee said that this debt problem is a byproduct of racism, and that there are still systems that encourage a disproportionate affect on our community in comparison to others.  She even made reference to a quote from the first Black in America: “When America has a cold, Black America has the flu.”  In essence, financial issues affect us greater–as Julianne Malveaux said during her interview, many of us are middle class by income, not by wealth.  So when stuff happens, we don’t have as much cushion, and we’re more easily knocked out of middle class.  It’s troubling that the wealth gap between whites and blacks is $75,000.
  • One point that was made over and over again in the segment as well as in our discussion is that we get emotionally attached to our stuff.  Due to a long history of not having much, it was said that we spend a lot of our money trying to catch up and show that we’re worthy of having stuff — stuff, as in houses, cars, clothes, designer purses, etc., that we can’t or won’t let go of when times get tough.  I shared with the group that in 2007, black buying power was $845 billion and was expected to top $1.1 trillion by 2012.  What are we doing with this money?  Why aren’t we leveraging it? Why are we buying tons of stuff instead of investing in our communities, in black businesses, in our education systems, in programs that will help us?
  • One very important topic of this new segment of Black in America is the church’s role.  Should the church be focused on salvation–getting people to heaven–or should it also be teaching and advocating for our communities–helping people on earth?  (Y’all know I think it should be doing both.)  The church, which used to be the single most important institution in our communities, should be investing in building up our communities.  I am in support of those churches, including the one in the documentary, who have community foundations that buy property and help people find jobs and teach financial literacy and help people get out of debt and hold entrepreneurship workshops and the like.  We need to think beyond our individual selves and get back to thinking long-term for our community.  We know what many of our problems are–so let’s get to fixing them.

There was so much more that was said, and there is so much to be said–and to be done.  Overall, I think the screening, and I’m sure the complete show tomorrow, fulfilled an imperative purpose: to get us talking about what we need to do become better financially.  It’s a personal and community problem–we each have a responsibility to get our own lives in order and make better decisions; and we all need to chip in and do something to position future generations to be better stewards of money and to understand how to build wealth, not just increase income, or as one participant said: “make money while we sleep.”

One thing that I’d like to see expanded and implemented to a wider audience is our ESP Kids Club, where members of TEO along with some brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha teach middle school kids on Saturdays about financial literacy.  The program is so enriching that some parents have asked to sit in because their kids were going home sharing information that the parents didn’t know!

There’s an information gap from which our community suffers gravely.  We need to fill it in order to empower the black community economically.  We have to have the foresight to ensure that our $1.1 trillion will be spent creating products, innovating, and growing assets, not just being consumers.

MLM – Appreciating the Rain

MLM – Appreciating the Rain

Well, I’ve been dealing with some personal storms, and this morning, this story came to mind.  I posted this on 8-18-2003, and the story actually occurred in 2001.

On my way to work, I kept having the feeling that I left the stove on. So I turned around, and of course, it was not on. Luckily, I wasn’t late for work, but I hope I’m not becoming obsessive/compulsive. My ma says it’s probably just that I am growing up and realizing that I no longer have anyone to check behind me. Anyhow, it reminded me of two summers ago, my first summer in Atlanta, when I had an internship here, and I lived in the graduate apartments at Emory. I didn’t have my car with me in Atlanta, so I would walk to the Marta bus stop and catch the bus to the train and ride the train to my internship. Well, one particular morning, I was running late. It was raining lightly outside and I couldn’t find my umbrella or my hooded windbreaker, which was odd since I didn’t have much to look through. So I decided to walk through the drizzle so I wouldn’t be too late for work. The closer I got to the bus stop, the harder it rained. The whole way I fighting tears and asking the Lord to please let it stop raining until I got on the bus. When I got to the bus stop, it started pouring down. Rain was just beating down on me, and I was so upset that I was standing out there in the rain and that I would look a mess when I got to work. I decided to walk back to my apartment and dry off and start over. During my walk, I kept asking the Lord, “Why would you do that to me?” while crying and trying not to be hysterically upset. I walked back in my apartment completely drenched, and there was my answer… I had left my gas stove on. I immediately apologized to the Lord for doubting Him and started laughing after my heart stopped beating so fast after turning the stove off. What a tragedy it’d been if that gas had stayed on from 8-6… After I started over and got ready again, guess what. It was beautiful outside. And of course, I found my windbreaker under my books and folders in my bag (the one I was digging through as I walked in the rain trying to find something with which to cover up). And my umbrella was where I had left it–beside my desk… Unreal, huh? It’s instances like that one that let me know there is a higher power, and that I am watched over all the time. Well, let me get back to work.

One of my mantras is “perspective.”  Everything happens for a reason, yanno.  Even if it seems horrible or sad or negative now, there’s always a greater purpose that you’ll recognize when you try.  Even when you seem to not have any support or “covering,” God’s always there crafting and managing the situation.

One of my favorite quotes is “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass… it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”

And there it is.  Time to put my dancing shoes on.

 

Feature Friday

Feature Friday

Boy, this week has been full of ups and downs, but the ups were AWESOME!! I have *three* Features, and I haven’t yet decided if I need to just spread them out over the next three weeks or if I need to find time to spill my guts about all three today.  Either way, they’re coming.  Last night’s Black in America: Almighty Debt was a well-attended event with tons of great and thoughtful dialogue.  Wednesday night I saw Night Blooms at Horizon Theatre, and the production is a must-see.  Finally, last Saturday, a couple of friends and I participated in the Atlanta Challenge, and it was uber fun.  I also owe my thoughts on a bunch of other stuff (Twist, I Dream, Soundtrack  of a Revolution, 41st and Central–I haven’t forgotten!).  Who knew I was so busy? (Yeah, I know, I know, we all did.)

So stay tuned.  And THANKS to everyone who has been joining me in all this fun!