Category Archives: Personal

Random stuff about me and my life

Summer Pop Culture RoundUp

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Before I get back to being all heavy and serious – because life is heavyand since I couldn’t be bothered to read hardly anything on my vast, ever increasing reading list this summer – here’s a taste of how I spent my summer (when I wasn’t holding hands and praying with folks at hospital beds).

SUMMER POP CULTURE ROUNDUP

(cue frantic Fraggle Rock drumming)

AudioBooks

I discovered audiobooks – free from the library. Yay! I listened to two nifty novels about smart and feisty southern ladies

And for the YA crowd

  • Matched, by Ally Condie; the first in a three-part series (because apparently teens only read books in series nowadays. Meh. Government control of all aspects of life, and you just know the people are going to rise up and fight the power – led by the youth. Not as good as Hunger Games (no Rue), but it’s okay to listen to and now I’m curious to see how the series ends.
  • Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater; the first in  the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy (I said – “threes”). Don’t bother with this one. Werewolves are the new vampires. But witches are more interesting that werewolves, so maybe try
  • The Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness. I haven’t read this, but I’ve read good things about it.

Music

With all the audiobooks, not a lot of music this summer. But here’s what I can’t stop listening to now:

“Blurred Lines,” by Robin Thicke. Mired in controversy and preemptive lawsuits, sure. And do we really need all the b*&#@s from TI? But this is a not heavy blog post. I will say, though, this song with its sly, playful and kinda sexy lyrics reminds me a lot more of His Royal Badness than Marvin Gaye. And it was so much fun that it made me also download Thicke’s “Meiplé with Jay-Z (who is having his own trifling summer).

It’s  really challenging to talk about music and keep things light, so just two more:

Icona Pop’s “I Love It“. enough said.

And the CD that I’ve been driving too all summer long: Motown Remixed, Volume 1. I can’t even describe how hot this is. Motown classics with new beats courtesy of Z-Trip, ?uestlove and the Randy Watson Experience, DJ Smash, Salaam Remi, and more more more. Just Listen Now.

Shows

Since I ditched my television, most of my tv watching is via Netflix streaming, but it gets the job done.

  • The much awaited Arrested Development was alright, but not as good as I remembered.
  • Drop Dead Diva:  Super fluff, but I went back and watched Seasons 1 and 2 just to catch up for Season 3. I can’t get that time back.
  • Dr. Who! Series Seven, Part 1. Mad thanks to Matthew and to Ariane for reminding me that I could watch this via Amazon Prime. And then, since my New Whovian nephew is getting his mother up to speed:
  • Dr. Who from the 10th doctor. With
  • Torchwood: Children of Earth thrown in for good measure. And since I already had the accent in my head anyway,
  • Mistresses – the BBC version. All three series. Just a whole lot of poor choices there. And now I’m watching
  • Alphas, season 2.

Alas, sweet summer, it was real.  Now back to work.

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The Pain of Racism

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I have been wanting to return to blogging for a while. My schedule has cleared up considerably and I’ve had all manner of observations – from tedious rants about how annoying people are, to joyful observations about how beautiful life can be, to indignant responses to our sorry political state. I had carved out some time today to finally string some coherent sentences together. But this morning, I can’t help but think about the Zimmerman verdict.

I think I’d be hard pressed to find any Black person who has grown up in this country who is really surprised by this verdict. Furious, Fearful, Heartsick – sure. But we’re not surprised. For me, some of the fury is heightened by the belief that this farce of a trial was doomed to this outcome. Some of the Sunday morning justification is that ‘the justice system does what the justice system does’ Yes. We know all about what the justice system does. And all week, the media has prepped the public for this verdict with the warning: ‘well, the prosecution presented a weak case; there just wasn’t evidence.’ Yep, those police that cared enough to do a drug test, but did not place enough value on the life of this murdered child to search for his identity, didn’t collect enough evidence; shocker. My heartsickness is compounded by the view that whatever the outcome it would be inadequate restitution for this life that was taken. And inadequate restitution for the countless lives taken before and since.

We hear all the time that racism is different today. It’s structural. It’s institutional. It’s not a guy in white hood. Yes it’s true, racism is structural and institutional – but that’s not new. And in some places in this country it is still a guy in a white hood. Ask any ten Black kids over 15 in this country, and I’ll bet: most of them will tell you it’s not a guy in a white hood that has got them looking over their shoulders. It’s the cop in a uniform (or a ‘non-uniform’). It’s the guy who follows you on the street because he thinks you’re up to no-good – or fair game. I knew it growing up in the ‘80s in Jersey City and East Orange. And Trayvon Martin knew it in Sanford, Fl. in 2012.

So, here’s the other thing that I have been stewing about this month. I heard some interesting (that’s the word I’m going with) feedback from colleagues that I am not open; I am difficult to connect with and I am not allowing myself to be vulnerable. This may not be important in most jobs, but in ministry it’s a pretty big deal. I circled the gamut of surprise, confusion, hurt, more confusion, concern, and then denial. I talked to friends who seemed equally surprised by this read. But I wasn’t dismissive, because I know it’s an issue.

Because, here’s the other thing: the other bit of news that I’ve been wrestling with this week is the story about the racial empathy gap. The study, broken down for popular consumption by anthropologist Jason Silverstein, finds that people are less able to empathize with the pain of Blacks, and in fact, believe that we feel less pain than others in similar situations. This goes for people, regardless of race, and has serious implications for things like pain management in hospitals. But it also has some serious implications for the rest of our interactions.  Part of what accounts for this perception is the belief that Blacks are hardened to pain, because we have learned to take it. This is a simplified, but accurate summary of the findings. The fact is, for some of us, this is true. When your survival (physical, psychological, emotional) depends on you being able to withstand being hurt over and over again, and continue to get up and move forward, you learn how to live with pain. But the reality of that doesn’t make it OK.

So, yeah. I’m not shocked by the Zimmerman verdict. Because my expectations are not always as high as they should be. They certainly are not as high as I have a right for them to be. And there are parts of my heart that are closed and guarded for my own self-preservation. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be opened. In the words of Marge Piercy, connections are made slowly. And as much as my activist brain agrees with the sentiment that we need to get right to work fixing the system, my spirit needs a minute. Because for real, for real – the system won’t ever be fixed if we can’t open our whole hearts. And I can’t open my whole heart unless I know that you can really feel my pain – not rush past it; not ignore it; not pretend that it isn’t there; or be relieved that I can take it.

Voices

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It has been a minute since I blogged anything, I could say that I’ve just been so busy with school that I haven’t had a chance to write anything that I wasn’t getting graded on or that wasn’t a ministerial requirement in some way. But that would be only half the truth. I have been extraordinarily busy, but at some point, I just completely lost my nerve. I convinced myself that I didn’t have anything important to say. And the longer I waited to write something – the more important that next post needed to be. Despite the fact that the whole point (half the point?) of beginning this blog in the first place was to get myself in the habit of putting my voice out there.

Today, I heard some good advice (I’m paraphrasing): If you want to make some changes, you have to do something different. Actually, I have been hearing this advice in all kinds of ways for a while, but sometimes I don’t listen, so…

So, this is my something different. I’m just sharing whatever new insight comes my way, at least once a week. And it probably won’t always be the most brilliant thing posted ever ☺           Hmmm, last week, somebody told me that I need to give myself permission to not do everything perfectly all the time; but I didn’t really listen at the time.

And the week before that, a whole bunch of people kept telling me that I have to let go a little and have some confidence in my voice. They were talking (ostensibly) about my singing voice – so I didn’t really listen to them either. Instead, I induced a truly embarrassing personal crisis – complete with moping and lots of crying. But then yesterday, I joined the choir. Go figure.

Doing some things differently. Shaking things up a little ☺