Friday, June 29, 2007

The fire to come. (Inspired by Mr. Cooke)

It's been a long time coming
And has yet to arrive,
but it exists and
It will come.
Some call it the hope of our generation.
Some call it a flighty dream:
Rhetoric based on fantasy,
concocted from tales of the past while focusing on the future.
Little do the doubters know
is that the hope already exists.
The changes needed are coming
Already on their way
And if you look in the eyes of some
And listen to their voices as they rise above
The din of apathy from others who they resemble
You will see and hear the building blocks of that hope
being assembled.
The change will come because this group exists.
The change is coming because we are evolving.
As we inherited the benefits
of our forefathers' fight for freedom and equity
We too inherited their drive to push against oppression
When faced with few options.
As we inherited their complexions we inherited the spark
Which lead to a major conflagration long ago -
The heat of which still warms us
When faced with the cold reality that although much has changed,
Much has stayed the same.
We all have that spark, and while it is smoldering in the ones
Vested with the hope,
For others it remains latent, waiting for the unjust to set it off.
The guarantee is that there is a fire to come.
The much-doubted hope will be the quencher of the flames.
The coming change will emerge from the remaining ashes.

© 2007 Patricia B.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A change gon' come

The past few days I've been privileged to attend a number of events: seeing Michelle Obama in Harlem, a symposium at the Schomburg, and the free showing of Don Cheadle's new movie, Talk To Me. Although these events vary on their face, they all provoked the same questions: When will things in this country in regard to how it treats race (in particular, black people) change for the better? What will it take for there to be change? Can there be change at all? I have various thoughts on these events and opinions on these questions - all of which I need some time to collect and organize - but I felt the need to note this briefly.

Whether we like it or not, things will change. All living things - including a people, a nation - invariably MUST change. We are given a choice to be proactive or reactive in the face of impending changes - and we make that decision all the time, whether we're conscious of it or not. One thing that dawned on me as a result of attending all these events is that in the past, strides were made for the better when our backs were against the wall. Black people in this country were STRUGGLING during the time that preceded the Civil Rights Movement of the 50's and 60's in a way our generation could never truly know - racism was blatant: disenfranchised, living in a world where "separate but equal" made sense. The news of a black man being lynched was saddening, but not surprising depending on where he lived. And when one's back is against the wall, they either take the beating or fight back. And so black people in this country fought. In many ways black people in this country won. Strides were made.

What many of us have lost sight of is that the fight is NOT OVER. We are still in the struggle - in another phase - a more dangerous one, I believe. Black people - people of color - whatever you want to call it - are comfortable. Our backs aren't against any walls. We come and go as we please, we get the same opportunities as the melanin-deficient. To some, we have it easier because of our history of disenfranchisement: it gives us the edge. No. Racism is still in place - it's just more latent, for the most part. There's a reason why some of us still believe affirmative action is necessary that goes beyond the errors of the past that affirmative action policies purport to try to correct. Still, in the 21st Century, our youth are starting the race with a handicap. In many of our communities the schools have to FIGHT if they want decent conditions for the students, decent books, decent teachers. Also, Black people still have to be concerned with how we are perceived based on our appearance, our speech, our hair, our culture in terms of job opportunities. Strides have been made but the major concerns STILL exist. Thank God for the work that has been done - but the negative effect of the Civil Rights Movement is the complacency that currently pervades. This phase of complacency is dangerous but I believe it's gonna to come to an end soon enough.

Reading about the Supreme Court's decision today striking down integration efforts in Kentucky and Washington just further supports my feeling. Our backs will be put back against the wall but in a different way. The Supreme Court of the 50's and the 60's were so INTEGRAL to the strides the Civil Rights Movement made - because as deftly as the NAACP argued for rights to an equal education for the youth back then, if the Court wanted to uphold separate-but-equal in terms of education opportunities, they could have. Based on my studies, the Court has issued many decisions to uphold or strike down one thing or the next based not so much on legal reasoning and public policy but just to come to an end that supported their own political positions. If you read the decision of Plessy v. Ferguson (which set the stupid separate-but-equal precedent in the first place) you might see what I mean. I wouldn't call them civil rights activists or anything - but the people sitting on the Supreme Court at the time of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka et. al. did so much to benefit the movement that most people just DO NOT recognize. The Court helped uplift the movement in a crucial way, and the Court of today is likely to do much to suppress our people. I intend to read the decision to examine the reasoning used - based on the article I read the Court is saying (in a 5-4 decision, the 4 being the liberals sitting on the court) that in order to obtain racial diversity schools have to use race-neutral means? Hmm?

Anyway, a change is gonna come. I think a lot of sh*t will go down before it happens though - unfortunately but fortunately. And the leaders are already here - they haven't emerged yet - but they will soon enough.

More on this later. Just noting this down has me inspired to write.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Word usage.

Some try.
Others do.
Which of these are you?
Is your dream a potentiality
To which you've assigned a maybe -
Or is it already in pursuit -
A destination to which you're on route?
The difference here is more than semantic.
The perspective you take influences your tactics.
And a mere try comes with no guarantee
But when you do you are likely to succeed.

© 2007 Patricia B.

Monday, June 25, 2007


The thought of approaching you makes my blood run cold. And I don't know why, because usually I have no problem being bold - I go for what I want and clearly I want you. But I think it's a result of what I've been told - that men are scared away and won't have much to say when a woman takes initiative and makes the first move - waiting for you to speak is what a lady should do. But since when did I care for propriety? Why should I wait for you to approach me? Why take that chance when there's more of a guarantee of you speaking to me if I say something first?

While all that's true, I still feel like an icicle when you pass my way. Now how hard could it be to just say "hey I've seen you around and I really love your smile I think your eyes are beautiful I really dig your style - where do you shop?" Hmmm. Maybe I should just hop on over the next time I see you in that same place - but will those words come out of my mouth when I gaze on your face? Oh how I love to gaze at you - strong nosed, full lipped, bright brown eyed, chocolate dipped but still you manage a ruddy glow - expressive with your eyes and a smile that forms slow and evokes peace - and makes me want take a piece of you wherever I go.

Now here you come, walking into my purview. If only I could say a quick "how do you do" - but I don't. And I won't - I just watch as you sit in your familiar spot and chat with the guys with whom you always chat - and its funny because as hot as you are, I freeze at your sight and I realize now that it might be obvious that I'm watching you. One of your boys is giving me the eye really hard - and now I just want to fly when I see your friend walk up and say "Hi. I've seen you around - and you're just so pretty - I wanted to meet you. I'm Sam." What the bloody hell?

And then I see you looking in our direction as I melt.


© 2007 Patricia B.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

You couldn't have known.

I have been suffering from serious writer's block these past two weeks. Ugh.

There's a short story I'm working on - started it maybe a month ago and finally made some really good progress on it and then WHAM! Blocked. Started some poems here and there and then WHAM! something comes up and I have to let them linger. Ugh.

It's interesting though because in the past two weeks I've been so busy living it up in the city: I've started a new fabulous internship - I've met/dated a man or two - I've swooned over at least one - I've got over both of them - I've shopped - I've scrimped - I've networked - I've partied - I've ate out. So I've been having fun. But something about solstices/equinoxes always makes me feel renewed - so it's fitting that on the summer solstice, I jump back into my writing efforts.

I guess living it up a little has now given me something to write about or at least a reason to write. I'm feeling inspired to write a little something based on/inspired by the Motherland - don't know what or how or when - but there will be something. The inspiration started with one of the guys I've met/dated/swooned/got over in the past two weeks - a highly intellectual man from Mali who does work involving issues on the continent and (of course) is very passionate about the work he does.

Ok. Maybe I haven't gotten over him. But I don't feel that oomph I initially felt for him anymore. Whatever. That's a whole 'nother story.

Another source of the inspiration is the latest issue of Vanity Fair:

(Edit: There once was a picture of Iman and Alicia Keys here. A lovely photo.)

Isn't that picture of Iman GORGEOUS? She's one of my fashion icons (the others are Phylicia Rashad as Clair Huxtable, Dorothy Dandridge as Carmen Jones, and Janie from "Their Eyes Were Watching God"). To me, Iman personifies elegance. But I digress.

I love that cover but I didn't buy the magazine with her on it. I bought it - I felt I had to buy it - when I saw this:

That's right. Good ol' GW, Condi and the word "AFRICA" across the bottom is why I bought it. I don't read VF that often but I wanted to see what VF was trying to say putting THEM on a cover of their magazine! Quiet as it's sort-of kept, GW and Condi have done a bit to help efforts in the Motherland, which is interesting to me considering that GW actually called Africa a country once (True story. This was way back tho - very early in his first term). There's PEPFAR (the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief)- which is great. And aid to Sub-Saharan Africa has increased since he's become President. I'm sort of skeptical of the editor's decision to put them on the cover - but I guess you really can't knock their efforts, so why not big them up? There are 20 of these covers total. (Check them out on VF's website. The series is pretty cool).

The overwhelming majority of the issue is dedicated to issues pervading the continent. It's a great issue - has me considering a subscription to the magazine - and has me thinking about my heritage.

Ok, so a bit more about your humble blogger:

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY but my family (both parents) are from Jamaica. My mother's mother was born in Cuba and my mother's father is from lord knows where, but apparently is/was mixed with Chinese. My mother never knew her father. My father's parents were both Jamaican but at least one, if not both, are of East Indian descent. I say at least one because I KNOW based on my grandmother's maiden name that she's Indian. My grandfather's last name - which is my last name - is as British as it gets. The last name thing doesn't mean anything though - there are plenty of Indians with Anglophone last names. My mother (who never met my grandfather) always said that my grandfather was black - but I have heard otherwise - and looking at my father and his whole siblings you wouldn't know that they were anything but Indian (he does have a half-sister that's pretty dark skinned though. Who knows.) And if you saw my face, you'd know I have a lot of East Indian in me too.

Appearances aside, it's pretty hard to deny that I come from a melange of ethnic/racial groups - I just am unclear as to who came to what country when, from what tribe/clan they came from - and so forth. How did it all come together to create me?

To anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with the history of the West Indies: please don't perceive my background as that unique. It's not. There are plenty of people of Black/Indian/Cuban/Chinese/Other descent running around the Caribbean, particularly in the British West Indies. One of the best things to come from European imperialism is the fusion of ethnicities that resulted in the West Indies. You can taste it in our food, feel it in our music, hear it in our dialects, and see it in our beautiful faces.

So in case you didn't know: I am one the greatest results of European imperialism.

Ooooh!!! I'm inspired! Off to write.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Warning (A Portrait)

She's a beautiful threat.
While you sleep, she stays up late nights
honing her talents,
polishing them like precious stones.
She tends to sparkle when she speaks.
Her words can transmit luminescence in the dark;
they blind those not ready for the glare.
Often restless, she runs after her dreams -
catches them and colors her reality with their hues,
the majestic swirls of their vibrancy abound her.
She often confuses and astounds
those more grounded, for though
she walks the earth like you, she flies away free
from expectations placed on her and
weighty criticism which could crush you.
She lives her life as she chooses
and is never concerned about losing,
for her heart is secure in God.
Her happiness is a matter only for Him and
she's aware that He carries her daily,
so she walks, often alone, unabashed, unafraid.
She tends to be regarded as wise beyond her age
yet she knows her mind has no limits based on years
and maturity is never quite linked with visage
So she balks at being called an old soul.
She digs deep at all times, but will cater to
her shallower matters until she finds satisfaction.
She believes her outside has to match her inside
so on sight, she can seem mired in conceit -
but she's confident in her blessings
and wouldn't be afraid to tell you that she's
great of mind, heart, and face -
an effort in appearance couldn't be a waste for her.
And she might not be able to beat you with brute force
but she's a threat to you anyway.
She's stalwart when she's committed -
loyalty's bounds are tested in her connections -
no one but she can break her bonds.
She'll see right through any trickery if you try it.
She deciphers the gems from the disgenuous
and this most of all tends to scare others
because she has a way to see right through.
So, this is to warn you - be prepared for
the might of her mind and beauty of her soul.
It will sneak up on you.
It's never obvious right away
But if you're not ready,
you'll be left in her path like the others -

© 2007 Patricia B.