Reads and Reels: Feast of All Saints, Part I

Reads and Reels: Feast of All Saints, Part I

This weekend, I had a lovely spring-reminiscent time with my mom.  We ate dinner with my cousins, went to the Battle of the Bands, went to Sunday brunch at Pecan (who wouldn’t take my groupon without it being printed), went to the Georgia Aquarium, and spent more time with my cousin Kesha, who grilled for us.  While eating last night, we talked about our family and some of the little hush hush things about which our family never talks.  One of those issues is color.  Because of my family’s lineage (maybe one day I will expound), there exist(ed?) some superstitions and prejudices about darker hued skin and resulted in differences in how kids and grandkids were treated.

It’s always been fascinating to me.  Maybe because I am brown.  Just a pretty, smack dab in the middle, smooth, lovely brown. I’m not light. I’m not dark. I’m brown. A shade my ma said was “light enough” to escape the punishment issued to those who were “too dark.” Even when I was a kid, I wondered what I would have looked like if I had come to the world looking like any of my cousins (on my mom’s and dad’s sides–on my mom’s side, I’m one of the darkest).  We pretty much are the three shades of the Kenya dolls back in the day.  Light, medium, and dark, lol.  I can remember walking into the kitchen hearing my parents arguing about who had the most color in their history–bragging on how dark my granddaddy was or how dark my ma’s granddaddy.  Kinda weird since outside our home, I would hear other groups of blacks vying for who had the least color.  I never really understood the psychology of color.

This may be one reason that New Orleans has always been one of my favorite, mostinteresting places.  I remember the first time I read Anne Rice’s Feast of All Saints, really imagining this world of quadroons and people basing status on how far removed they were from slavery or how “whitened” they had gotten their blood. So I was very very happy to see how engaged the Atlanta group was while watching Part 1 of the DVD based on the book.  Our conversation was very lively.

We spent a good bit of time talking about the purpose and benefits of marriage. One reason, which really made me go hmmm melikey, was that marriage is an institution that assists us in moving forward and building our culture.  We talked about how marriage is used strategically, but the real question is what is the strategy?  Where are we headed? One thing I said was that if everyone did what they were put here to do, collectively we would all prosper at a faster pace than each of us individually–thus, our goal should be to marry someone that helps us in our purpose, that supports and uplifts us, that complements us.  Some people are all about marrying for love–well I would say that’s all good and fine, but it’s not.  Why? Because we may not have any control over our emotions per se, but we totally can control who we spend substantial time and energy with/on. In the movie, the strategy was a combination of their perspective of bettering their lives by “marrying” into money and into lighter skinned children who would be able to keep the cycle going. What’s your strategy?

In that same discussion, we talked at length about whether or not we have to “play by the rules” in society. Well whose rules are they?  My personal opinion is that we need to know the rules–not necessarily play by them unless that’s just what you choose to do.  If you know them, though, you can use them and play around them.

Another thing we ended up discussing (because we live in Atlanta and that’s what we discuss) was how as we get older, our pool of romantic possibilities gets smaller and smaller, not only because we’re second and third rounders (more on that in a minute), but also because our circles just overlap and overlap until the point where it’s rare that you meet someone completely new.  The answer? Some say we should start going to the gym or somewhere completely new. We’ll see.

So I’m a “second-rounder” (well, I guess I should hope that I am??).  One of our group members says that the first round of marriages occurred around 25. The second round will occur around 30; the third round, 35; and so on. And some of those first-rounders have come back around to be second-rounders because of divorces (you know, because some of those first-rounders were in starter marriages).  This was an interesting concept (and hilarious since one friend said she’s a sixth-rounder even though she’s my age).  I guess it applies to motherhood as well since a large crop of folks had babies last year, evidently drinking the same water.

Something else we discussed was how important knowing our history is.  In the movie, the main character Marcelle finds out that the Haitian Revolution wasn’t just some great, fun story to hear about–it actually directly affected his life.  He starts to make really crazy decisions because he finds out that he never knew that he didn’t know important parts of his history.  He doesn’t know who to trust–he doesn’t know what is really important–he really doesn’t even know what to do with his life.  Be who his mom and aunts want him to be? Or follow his passions?  That applies to our lives as well. We have to know where we came from, understand where certain gifts come from and how they can be used, and take advantage.  We may not have the generational monetary wealth and connections that some are born with, but we are born with certain generational gifts and lessons that we only have to seek out.

There was plenty more discussed (including how the issues in the movie have contributed to the modern-day “independent black woman”and we touched on classism a little bit–I’m sure it’ll come up more next time), and they enjoyed the movie so much that we’re moving the discussion of Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America by Eugene Robinson to March (you have more time to get it and read!) so that we can watch Part II of Feast of All Saints in February (Sunday, 2/27 at 4).  Join us! The movie is full of twists and turns! 🙂

Memory Lane Monday – Firsts

Memory Lane Monday – Firsts

I’ve been thinking of doing this post for quite some time but haven’t had the chance. So here we go.  A fun little post about some firsts in my life and the music that goes with it!

My first tape ever was Oaktown 3-5-7’s Wild and Loose in 1989.  Even though “Yeah Yeah Yeah” was the first video (one of the first that got me in trouble for wanting (and asking) to wear sports bras and biking shorts), below is my fave song on that album, Juicy Gotcha Crazy (despite the fact that I didn’t have a clue what “juicy” was! lol).  B Angie B was my girl!!  And my cousins used to love getting me to do all the dances in this video (and I mean every step haha) and many many more after school. I so wanted to be a teenager in this era.

My first CD was 112’s self-titled album in 1996. My first high school boyfriend gave that to me.  I can still sing every song, complete with adlibs, on this album from start to finish.  Here are a few lyrics from one of my fave songs on there. I may have to record myself singing so I can post a youtube link, lol.

All the love you’ve given me
So special, seems to be no limit
I’ll do anything
There’s no boundaries to how we can grow
How can I let you know
Girl, let me sit and think, ohhhh

Why does the wind blow
Why does the sun shine
Why does the rain fall down on my face
Why does the earth spin
Why do the waters reach the shore
And tell me, tell me why
Why do I love you like I do

The first time I went to a dance at someone’s school was the 1998 prom at Murrah High School.  And boy, was that drama filled.  No, like, really drama filled.  I only got to dance to one song, and here it is.

In college, I was really reserved, probably primarily because I was the youngest one there.  I only went to maybe 2 parties freshman year. Really, it totally could have been 1.  Then I pledged.  And although I was still a little shy, especially compared to my line sisters and prophytes, I loosened up a lil and became a regular party-goer and a major party-walker.  In GA, all the AKAs start strolling when Set It Off comes on. But at home, the AKAs take over when Pump The Party comes on (well, really any song, but especially this one). This is the first song I learned a strut–THE Gamma O strut–to. 🙂

Speaking of college, again when I was a freshman, I was a bookworm and pretty much either in class, at work, tutoring someone, or goofing around on my hall in the dorm.  So alot of people outside of those things didn’t even necessarily know my name.  Just that I was the smart 16-yr old girl.  So to step out just a smidge, I decided to participate in the Freshman Showcase.  Ever the tomboy, I put on a fitting dress and sang a duet with a very outgoing freshman that EVERYONE knew could sing, Tyrone, who also played piano.  Now, the people on my hall knew I could sing, but that’s it. So when I stepped out and got the mic, I heard a few whispers of “oh Lawd, this girl better know how to sing.” I’m sure I surprised some folks. 🙂  Here’s the song we sang–the first song I ever sang in front of an audience at Tougaloo.

So speaking of singing in public, in high school I was in a singing group called G99.  We used to sing all the time, at school, at church programs, even competed once to go to Showtime at the Apollo but we were duped into entering the wrong contest (kids instead of adults) so we got beat out by some 5 yr old playing drums that got the crowd to say awwwww. I used to love love love singing with those girls, Faith and my bestie Kenya.  Our most requested song was Kirk Franklin’s My Life is in Your Hands, but here’s a song I really liked singing with them, and I’m pretty sure it’s the first song we sang together, even if just testing out the waters with our voices.

I could do this all day, but this one will be my last first.  When I was at church while I was at home helping my mom, a member came over after service to tell me that no matter how old I get she will always remember me singing this song when I was growing up, that she’s never heard another version that moves her like when I sang it.  It’s the song I sang in my first pageant.  And I bring that up because both of my mentees have participated in pageants and did really well.  I really enjoy pageants and what they contribute to the self-esteem of girls.  I know it did for me. I was in 10th grade when I did my first pageant, and I was soooooooooooooo nervous and so wondering if I even should since I wasn’t all that girly back then.  Here’s the song I sang.

Hope you enjoyed this post!  And I hope you’ll be checking back in to read the posts about the first Reads and Reels discussions in 2011.  Atlanta and Jackson had a great time, and Chicago is sure to have a blast this Sunday!!

A Hectic New Year

A Hectic New Year

A beach... where I wish I could go for a coupla days

Hi folks! Long time, no see, huh?  2011 has started off with a vengeance–nonstop responsibilities, so I had to choose what to neglect. I’m slowly but surely rejoining the life of the cyber living.  I have a great Firsts post planned–I just have to sit down and do it before it’s no longer the first month of the year!

But just to give you a glimpse of all that I’ve been dealing with:

– I got a promotion at work in the midst of working on three slightly concurrent projects. Talk about a workload!

My grandfather had a stroke, so I have been trying to be as much help as I can be to my mom, including going home for a few days.

Jackson and Chicago Reads and Reels are launching!!! So I’ve been working with my chapter presidents on that.

– My computer crashed right before the ice storm, so I was stranded without internet outside of my phone for a lil while.

– The effects of the ice storm in Atlanta lasted WAY longer than it should have. We were trapped!!

I’m fasting as I always do in January, but this time it’s so much more difficult.  I don’t know if it’s because I skipped the MasterCleanse portion of my norm or what.  Maybe it’s bc I’m stressed and I want to drown my worries in food. *shrug*

– I’m finally DONE with one of the positions that has monopolized my time and mailbox for the last 4 years, but the transition ain’t as easy as I thought it would be.  I just know how to do what I was doing–never really thought long about how to explain it to someone else!

– The other positions still exist, so I have been doing some only-in-my-mind planning about some things I want to do in my capacity.  Stay tuned. I’ll be solidifying the ideas when I can.

– I am finally making a conscious effort to make my house a home, but I know myself–to keep from getting overwhelmed, I’m doing room by room. One room will be done this weekend, if the Lord says the same.

All that to say, I’ve been busy.  Physically and mentally.  But it’s all good in the hood, folks. Stay with me. I’ll be rolling off inspiration, opinions, recommendations, good music, random ramblings, etc., in just three shakes of a tailfeather. 🙂

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, and anything else for which I didn’t get to send well wishes.  Until next time (which will be soon)!