Feature Friday… well kinda

Feature Friday… well kinda

Today, I’m still in a sanging mood, and during an impromptu yet really solid conversation about knowing who we are and what we deserve,¬†Sirobe reminded me of a very special song that I’m going to feature. ¬†So I’m dedicating this one to my favorite guy (I really am singing over here, lol), especially since the artist (well, a member of the group) is living his second chance.

You knew you had me
With your sensuous charm
Yet you looked so alarmed
As I walked on by

An awesome wonder
You had to know why
I did not respond
to carry on

Chorus:
Love me in a special way
What more can I say?
Love me now
(Repeat)

Love me now
Cuz I'm special
Not the average kind
Who'll accept any line
That sounds good

So reach into your chain of thought
Try to find something new
What worked so well for you before
For me just won't do

Chorus

Love me now...

(Instrumental)

So reach into your chain of thought
Try to find something new
What worked so well for you before
For me just won't do

Love me in a special way
What more can I say?
Love me now
Love me in a me in a special way
Just love me now

Nooowwww
And tell me what more can I say
Just love me nooowwww
And tell me what more can I say?
Just love me now
Love me in a--and tell me what more can I say?
Feature Friday: The Number Game

Feature Friday: The Number Game

So on Facebook this week, the number game blew up! ¬†I particularly liked it because my FB friends were very positive about the people for whom they dedicated their statuses. ¬†I only played for about 30 minutes Tuesday night, but here are a descriptions of those who sent me numbers. ¬†Some made it into that 30 minute window, and others were sent after I stopped playing. ¬†So needless to say, I’m blessed to know some great people. ūüôā ¬†Happy Friday!

3.14 I feel like you’re buttering me up. hmmmm lol. No really, you are the smart and super spunky lil sis that refuses to be placed in the nerd box. Keep on pursuing your dreams while enjoying every minute!

4 I used to love going to the barber shop when my stylist had a chair in there so that I could joke with you and get my eyebrows arched! ¬†You’re a great guy, and your family is gorgeous!

17 I’m proud of you for all that you’re trying to do with your life. I want you to spend more time focusing on the good than the bad, and I promise the world will look like a better place!

20 I love that we became fast friends. From our mutual love of soul music and natural hair to your benefit-of-the-doubt giving nature, hanging out w you is always a blast!!

227 I always felt safe with you on the bus. You were always really sweet and cool to me and wouldn’t let anyone mess with me!

‚Äé0329 I think u were my 2nd friend when I got to Clinton. So many memories, esp in orchestra. Like when u left your violin at hm and “borrowed” one and it turned out to be a viola and the whole year with Massimino. Haha

601 You are one of those least judgmental, most optimistic people I have ever met. ¬†You can see the silver lining in any storm cloud. ¬†I hope you never outgrow that remarkable and uncommon trait. ¬†I love you for always being there and refocusing my perspective. ¬†You’re beautiful inside and out, and I am blessed to have you in my corner.

‚Äé799 You were one of the only non-freshman guys that would risk befriending a 16-yr old the 1st semester of my freshman year. I’m happy to see that you’re thriving like I always knew you would. Oh and I have a pitch to make to u soon. lol will msg you.

808 When I met you, I noticed how great you are with the kiddies!  Keep being stern yet soft with them!

1003 You and I have been through a lot, and we have such special memories.  From hating each other freshman year to being attached at the hip (and forehead haha) sophomore year through our rough patches through being grown-ups together now.  Keep being positive, keep being a trendsetter, and keep taking such good care of those cutie patooties!

1908 You are the best front a girl could ask for. When I need to lean forward, you’re right there! You are the most fabulous diva I’ve ever known, and I’m sooooo happy that we’re more than just sorors–we’re friends. I’m proud of everything you’re doing. Keep that infinite finesse going!

[Side note: How cool is it that my front and back ended up next to each other? Smooches to both of you! And no wonder I ended up going from pseudo tomboy to super girly–how could I not stuck between two super fashionistas? lol!]

1976 I remember when I met u and I’m pretty sure we changed ur opinion of good MS stock forever lol. You even married a MS magnolia! I’m very proud of you and can’t wait to meet your lil mini you!

2408 You were the cutest young kid I knew way back in the day. I’m so happy to see how well you’re doing despite adversity! Ill always be a member of your fam, even if y’all don’t see me often, lol.

‚Äé7890 You and DP showed me how huge skeephi love really was. I still remember how special I felt when yall got an ad for me for the Miss Black and Gold pageant. I enjoyed being a Step Afrika groupie after the skeephi.com stint. You’re so talented and I hope life is treating you well.

46038 Being friends w your crazy, funny butt was the highlight of freshman year. Let’s see, I stood on top of a dangerous annex, spun around in a car and laughed as ur roommate cursed us out, rode Amtrak and got hit w my first snowball all w you. I know u don’t believe me, but I’m coming to Indy asap!

111169 Jr high would have never been so memorable without you. Many many laughs and I’m glad you’re still my bro after allllllll these years! Keep it funky!

384426 I’ve seen you evolve into a mature, creative, good mommy. I wish you the best in all your current and future projects. Keep up the good livin!

Feature Friday: Afrika Book Caf√©

Feature Friday: Afrika Book Caf√©

I hope all of you had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, I visited the Afrika Book Café, located at 404 Mitchell Street in my hometown Jackson, MS.  This much needed black-owned book store is in the Fondren area and has books, African inspired jewelry, African clothing, music, incense, and oils at great prices.  I had the fortunate opportunity to talk at length with one of the store owners Dr. Sizewe Chapman, who is originally from Jackson and wants to see and help the city of Jackson grow and prosper.  After discussing economic development in Jackson, he recommended I read Black Labor, White Wealth by Claud Anderson.

Another book, The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke, caught my eye, so I purchased those two and look forward to reading them.

Now I wish I were flying back to Atlanta so I could get started!

After browsing through all Afrika Book Café has to offer, I sat on the porch with the store owners (a beautiful married couple!) and Skipp Coon and his wife (another beautiful married couple! Black love lives!).  One of the things I miss most about home is the simplicity but profundity of sitting on a porch learning from each other and talking about the world and what we can do and are doing to make it better.  Skipp, Sizewe, and I talked strategy, history, our reality, and dreams.  Sizewe, a former African history professor at Jackson State University, really inspired me to keep reading and finding historical significance and lessons as I move forward in trying to affect positive change in the black community.  Skipp, who is a rapper who speaks the truth (and someone whom you should support!), and I finished a conversation we had awhile back about colonies, and we shared stories about our experiences as blacks traveling in Europe.

Lemme tell you, my visit to Afrika Book Café is one of the highlights of my trip home.  If you’re in or near Jackson, I encourage you to check this treasure out.  It’s still a new business, so let’s make sure it stays open, serving our community by providing educational and mind-expanding resources and a space for community interaction.  Go support this small business! And while you’re at it, support Skipp Coon!

Feature Friday: Green Building

Feature Friday: Green Building

In preparation for our New Orleans’ volunteer trip, one of my group members helped me tremendously (and graciously!) by creating a card that gives green tips in building to give to organizations and residents who may be interested. ¬†As a Feature, I’m giving Sirobe a shout out (soon to be one of less than 300 black women architects!!) and the tips in case any of you are doing any home improvements over the holidays.

Here are a couple of the tips:

  • Since appliances and electronics are responsible for 20% of the average energy bill, it pays to make your home more energy efficient. ¬†You could receive up to $500 in rebates or $1500 in tax credits if you purchase Energy Star appliances. ¬†Visit www.energysavers.gov for more information!
  • If you’re moving any time soon, remember that large trees are your friend. ¬†They can help to shade your home from direct sunlight as well as block cold winds.

If you know any one building a house or anyone who is rebuilding on the Coast (or anywhere else), send them to my page.  They can contact Reads and Reels for more information.

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!

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.

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!

Feature Friday: 10-10-10

Feature Friday: 10-10-10

I had several things in mind to feature today, but this special day was on my heart, so here goes. ūüôā

I want to explain why 10-10-10 is an important day to me. ¬†Y’all may think I’m crazy, but you wouldn’t be the first, lol.

If you didn’t know by now, I love numbers. ¬†I love what they represent, I love what you can do with them, I love that they are simple yet so complex. ¬†So what does 10 mean? ¬†Biblically, it means divine perfection or completion. ¬†But just numerically, it marks the end of a cycle–our decades and centuries are built on the number 10. ¬†While it’s the end, it’s also the beginning–the first 2-digit number.

So enough of the math geek stuff, lol. ¬†Let’s talk some Bible highlights. Of course you know there are ten commandments and that tithes are 10%. ¬†But did you know:

  • There are ten clauses in the Lord’s Prayer,
  • Abraham endured ten trials to prove his faith,
  • Israel was represented by ten virgins,
  • There are ten I AM’s in the Book of John,
  • There are ten parables about the Kingdom,
  • There were ten righteous people found in Sodom and Gomorrah,
  • There were ten plagues,
  • Fire came down from heaven ten times, and
  • It is after the tenth recorded Passover that Jesus is crucified, the perfect sacrifice to save us.

And that’s not even almost the extent of “ten” in the Bible. ¬†And I won’t even get into the fact that there are 3 10‘s involved. ¬†Three represents divine perfection as well. ¬†But I’m dedicating this one to 10. ūüôā

After I realized I would not be getting married in a storybook tale right after graduate school (I never wanted to get married right after undergrad), I started hoping that I would get married on 10-10-10. ¬†Such a symbolic way to start a union, yanno. ¬†Clearly, that’s not happening Sunday, lol (oh yeah, and I don’t think it a coincidence that 10-10-10 landed on the Sabbath).

But y’all know me, I do plan to make myself feel special on the day. ¬†It’ll be a great time to start a new topic of personal study, and I will start back on my hot yoga regimen, which I’ve been neglecting lately. ¬†I also will go see this production, which will likely be a Feature one of these ole days.

But most of all, even though I may not be becoming one with anyone right now, that’s ok because I am celebrating the fact that I am living happily ever after anyway. ¬†I’m about to embark on the first volunteer trip I’ve ever organized myself, and there are so many other things I have my hands in. ¬†I can make myself feel special–and sometimes I forget that. ¬†I want to take the day to remind myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)–I’m perfectly imperfect, and everything will work together for good as long as I’m walking my purpose. Because that’s how God designed it. ¬†Just like He designed the number system and its involvement in all the symbolism and nature patterns and so much other stuff we don’t even always notice.

What, if anything, are you doing Sunday? ¬†ūüôā ¬†Happy Friday, lovelies!