25.Aug – { When to Stop Traffic }

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So….

On Sunday I decided I wanted to go and get some seafood in the great city of Seattle.  I asked around, and googled what might be the best place for that, and it was almost unanimous between people and the interwebs that Elliot’s Oyster House was the knees on the bees.

I drove downtown and parked a good country mile from the restaurant (which gave me an immediate attitude)…because it was hot and i didn’t want to sweat in my clothes…i prefer to stay fresh at all times.  While walking and talking to my homegirl…we joked about me waiving a cab down.  This was a joke to us because if you’ve ever tried to wave a cab down as a black man, then you know they’ll drive right by you without a single care in the world, as if it’s protocol to do so.  As we’re making jokes about it, a cab appears in my line of sight…i contemplate on whether or not I’m actually going to attempt to hail this cab or not…because if i do, and he passes me, not only will i be pissed but also embarrassed because OBVIOUSLY everyone is watching me be rejected be a cab driver, who’s sole job is to pick people up and drive them places.

I decide to give it a shot…because this time I might actually get a cab.  I stood on the corner and waived my arms (which comes to a 7’6″ wingspan – so i know he saw me) frantically, he drove right by me and was signaling with his hands that he was not going to stop for me. I was shocked…even though I expected that outcome…I was still shocked.  I immediately calmed myself because maybe he was on a call to go and pick-up someone else.

As i waited for the red hand to turn into a white man…letting me know it was ok to cross the street, I saw the cab coming from the opposite direction, I’m like….OH SNAP! – he was turning around to pick me up from the other side of the street, and here I am being all racial and stuff – I smiled as i picked it up to a light jog…the car passed me up by about 20 feet, stopped in front of this random white guy just standing by the curb (mind you…not waiving his arms at all) and asked him “hey, you need a ride?” – the random white guy says “no” and the cab takes off as I am about 10 feet from his rear bumper.

WHAT THE HEEZY?

I felt like an idiot….it was actually extremely comical to me.  I walked down the street, a little embarrassed at what had just happened and then THIS HAPPENED! – a truck stopped in the middle of the street and the person in the truck said “hey! you look nice…and i like your ink!” I gave the classic KB smile and said “thank you!”

This person stopped traffic to compliment me.  This person stopped to offer a compliment to a stranger when I couldn’t get a cab that’s paid to stop….paid….to stop.  Balance was restored in my universe.  I continued to slowly walk to Elliot’s.

The food there was amazing – it was everything it was cracked up to be.  On my way back I just decided to walk – I have about the same amount of faith in cabs as I do in cops to protect and serve me.

I’m good B.

– Kenneth

 

23.Aug – { Angola Part I } by Shae Loren

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The Journey to Angola…

The moment I made the decision to travel to Luanda, Angola to teach English to employees of a local government agency, I resolved to consciously carry with melessons taught by those who throughout my lifetime have had the courage to love me. 

And so they came. 

Borrowing from the sentiments of Maya Angelou when speaking of her tradition of carrying those who had ever been kind to her with her into certain foreign situations, “There was not a moment when I felt as though I had no help.” 

When I left Washington, DC seated in the last row of a very small plane headed to Newark, NJ my father’s grandmother made herself present and I welcomed her.  Anxiety reared its ugly head when the wheels retreated but I heard Big Momma’s voice over the sound of the engine hums, “Do what you know, pray,” she said. I couldn’t fashion my own words but, the Lord’s Prayer flowed from me as fluently as it had when I first committed the words to memory at age ten, seated at Big Momma’s feet, reading from the index of her old pocket-sized Bible in Montgomery, Al on Rosa Parks Avenue. In this moment, I was like Rosa Parks. The differences; my bus was an airplane and fear arrested me, instead of a white police officer. The similarities; Parks and I share the same unchanging God, so as it had been for her, freedom was just a prayer away for me. 

Touching down in Newark, I couldn’t help but think of Whitney. I stole away from the airport and found myself on the intersection of Sussex Ave and Day St. to spend a brief while under the burgundy awning and brick steps of The New Hope Baptist Church, Whitney’s childhood sanctuary and the last place she stopped by before she was sent home. 

I was in her world. 

She grew up looking at the same buildings I passed by, walked down the same streets, breathed the same air. I made myself available to notice her presence. I welcomed her back home to share a few moments with me. 

There is something about the intersection of spirit and place that can transport me to a different time I’ve never experienced that feels oddly warm and familiar. In a moment it was 1979 and a 16 year old Whitney sat beside me on the steps looking at the view of the New York skyline between the buildings to our right, daydreaming about a future she hoped she’d one day have. If I thought it would make a difference, I’d describe what she was wearing and how her hair was styled, my imagery is that extensive, but the point I hope you get is that I saw her.  A lot has changed in the world since she looked at the skyline in 1979.  She saw two towers that made up the World Trade Center, I peered at one, but what remains poignantly the same is the ability for the steps of New Hope to cradle dreamers whose possibilities are endless and by God’s grace are indestructible. 

After leaving New Hope I braved airport security in Newark International. My mother was with me then as I helped a young mother traveling alone juggle her newborn baby, a car seat and stroller. Her sensibilities toward mothers traveling alone is probably strong considering her experience traveling across the world with up to three small children at one time. 

 “You are his surrogate auntie” the woman told me as she thanked me profusely. 

She was a white woman, so my Trinity Mother, Felicia Allen, was very present when I imagined the historical context of her calling me the auntie of a white child, but her intentions were honorable so decidedly I was not offended. 

I was quickly rewarded for my good deeds with an unexpected upgrade to Business First Class – I knew then that my Aunt Rita must be with me. Her spirit breeds first class energy. “Boo, if you’re going to be traipsing around the world why not go in style,” I could hear her say, even before I called her to excitedly share the news. I took a few sips of red wine in her honor, enjoyed my meal, which could have easily been mistaken for an entre’ at Bonefish Grill — dessert included, reclined in my seat until it became a bed and watched Everybody Loves Raymond on the 13 inch television screen – I knew my brother was with me then!  

When I touched down in Lisbon, Portugal I was heavily reminded of the life my father afforded me through his military career choice. The landscape and architecture in Lisbon reminded me a lot of Italy where I spent many years growing up.

Riding via bus to the city center, Willie Porter was with me as gazed out of the window at the intricate artwork painted on the sides of the buildings, “Yo that’s fresh” I heard him say. 

While walking to a 19th century castle nestled on a hill overlooking the city, I was hit by a car. 

Literally.

The narrow cobblestone roads left very little room between my body and the rearview window of a C230 Mercedes.  I immediately wanted my mother, but I had to self soothe and scold myself at the same time, as I knew she would.

“Shae, are you ok?” 

“Uh no mom, I just got hit by a car,” I would probably quip back. 

“Well you have got to be more careful and pay attention to your surroundings,” she’d probably say. 

I got it mom. 

Fortunately I was hit in front of a cute tapas restaurant, which created a great excuse to stop. 

Christian Iman met me there. I sang the words to her song Clark Kent over a selection of meat, cheese and soup. I may have disturbed a couple of people, but didn’t care, I had my own private Kindred moment. 

After a tour of the city I returned to the airport to catch my flight to Luanda, Angola, my final destination on this journey. 

Before boarding the plane I realized a few things, (one) I wouldn’t be in first class, (two) I was exhausted and (three) I had been hit by a car. I figured I deserved a decent beer. Super Bock, a Portugal standard was my choice, I was sure my uncle El had never had it. Actually, I probably couldn’t be sure of that, but I could credit him for my ability to be an informed critic.  It was pretty good. I probably would have had several more had I known what to expect from the airline I was about to board from Portugal to Angola. It was mediocre at best. 

I scarfed down the terrible airplane food, chicken alfredo, with no alfredo sauce, — “What in the world Jesus,” as my Kindred sister would say–  and gave up the fight for a piece of the armrest I had to share with a man that clearly needed to buy two seats. I slept the entire flight. 

When I landed in Angola I wanted to kiss the ground, but I don’t have healthcare so I decided to save that gesture for another time.

22.Aug – { The Face is Strong On This One } by Sydney Charles

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The Face is Strong On This One

First of all, I want to apologize for not writing for a while. I became busy with shows and rehearsal and finding a way to not choke life out of, and then back into, and then out of people. However, I have become increasingly motivated and inspired to write again due to some of the things that I have seen on my Facebook news feed.

I have a good amount of FB friends (I don’t know how because I am a complete non-respecter of feelings. I am without fawks to give most of the time). Yet, people still add me and I see their unimportant posts about which jelly they used on their biscuit this morning or what vegetable their 6 month old spit up at dinner time. In between the mundane posts, every once in a while, you get to see a picture. There are 1089 likes on the picture and 65 comments all saying “OMG, you’re Gorg” or “WERQ!” or “Get It”. You see this picture and in that brief moment, you wish that you couldn’t see…anything…ever…again. Commence to scratching your own cornea for deliverance.

Let me slow down. When you see this pic and all the comments, you begin to question your own judgment. You say to yourself, “Maybe that is just her bad side”. Then you see another pic of the “other side” and it is just as bad. This person’s face is like an evil Rubik’s cube of neverending displeasure. You start to wonder if you need glasses. Maybe you need glasses and contacts to be worn at the same time. Maybe you need to squint and turn your head to the left about 34 degrees and cough. Something must be wrong because you don’t see the beauty that is allegedly oozing from this selfie. All you see is confusion and a strong face.

What is a strong face? I’m glad you asked. You ask intelligent questions. It isn’t a compliment. Let’s just get that out of the way. Strong face is pure rudeness and can be considered as a more subtle way of expressing the fact that a person does not have an attractive face. The more powerful the inanimate object used in the simile, the less attractive the person is. This morning, on my FB page, I stated that someone had a face stronger than Popeye after eating a spinach omelette and washing it down with a spinach smoothie. We all are aware of how the level of strength increases in Popeye after spinach consumption. It is enough to overthrow his worst enemy and move boulders and cars. Now, let’s connect that to the face of a FB friend. Perhaps this person has a jaw line that looks like it was drawn with a chisel tip Sharpie, by a 5th grader who just learned what a rhombus is. (Caution: Sharp Turn). They may even have eyes that look as though they are trying to come in for the first date kiss (Cue “Just to be Close To You” by The Commodores). Still confused? No worries. Let’s go over some examples. I’ll give examples that cover the spectrum of strong face.

1)      Man, her face is strong as gorilla glue.

2)      Did you see that guy? His face is stronger than 3 kids who ride on the short school bus.

3)      I’m serious. She has a face strong like bull. (If I said this, it would be in a Russian or Hungarian accent, it makes it more sincere).

The last example brings us to a new term I recently developed: BULLFACEDNESS. This is the strongest of faces. I mean, have you ever seen video footage of people running with the bulls? Have you ever seen a bullfight? Seen a redneck ride an agitated bull for 2 minutes? These animals are relentless with their mission to show others how strong they are. To destroy lives. To flaunt their strength. The bulls careth naught. And the most intriguing part is that, most of the time, they are unaware that they are doing anything wrong. It’s all about survival with bulls.

This is also true of people who are plagued by BULLFACEDNESS. They don’t know they are doing anything wrong by posting these pics that make eyes cry tears of blood. Their intention is not to ruin my day. They just want to flaunt their strength, their face—and will continue to do so until they feel as though they have been acknowledged for their power.

So, next time you see a good strong face on FB or you are startled by someone suffering from bullfacedness; just remember these few tips for survival (kind of like owning a Mogwai)…try to distract them, like a rodeo clown. Tell them that’s a nice shirt. Talk about House of Cards. Point to a random building with a gargoyle on top and ask them if that is distant family (okay, maybe not that one). If it is on a computer, save yourself from continued trauma by removing from your news feed. Most importantly, don’t wear red around them in public. It probably won’t end well for anyone in the arena/office/bar/church service. TORO! TORO!

 

Syd Chas…

And I’m Gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21.Aug – { #TeamNatural } by Tina Nagbare

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There can be a thin line between encouragement and harassment…… like a very thin line. And #TeamNatural toes that line a lot. To be clear, this is not an attack against #TeamNatural or Naturalistas, but more of a request that you all find your chill. #TeamNatural can be your best friend or a hornet’s nest (just ask Solange) and one is never quite sure what will set them off.
Most alarming to me is the division within #TeamNatural. I’ve seen too many arguments, debates, blog posts on who is “truly” natural and who is not. I think the general consensus is if you have chemically-treated hair by way of texturizers or relaxers, you’re definitely not #TeamNatural. But there are also fringe groups (not unlike the Tea Party) with a message for all of us.
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Some expand that definition to include hair dyes, rinses, and anything that changes the color of your hair.
Some have expanded further to say if you continue to have your hair straightened (not chemical relaxers, but flat irons folks), you’re not natural.
Some in #TeamNatural don’t have chemically-treated hair, but proudly rock wigs and/or weaves faithfully…. *side eye* *sips tea*
Some say if you wear braids with extensions you can’t be counted amongst the number.
NOW some are saying your hair don’t count unless you have a Black Panther-esque afro – meaning if you “manipulate” your hair texture with twists, braids, etc. you’re not truly natural. Others will also note that your fro should still have *some* type of definition.
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Ma’ams PLEASE!
You all are doing the most. Maybe you should elect a board and call a meeting to clarify the definitions for membership and even then — I’m not interested because….
It’s hair. Is it really that serious? It’s confusing to me that the same group that proclaims “I am not my hair” also judges other Black women for how they choose to style their’s. It is hair. Literally it is just hair. And no, it’s not always as deep as you all try to make it. A Black Woman with straight hair is not always “struggling with her authentic African identity and succumbing to the European standards of beauty”. Some simply prefer to wrap their hair at night instead of twisting it because that’s easier for them. Some just want to keep their jobs. There are pros & cons for straight and natural hair for each woman; what’s “easy” for one does not hold true for another. And each woman makes the choice that makes sense for her. That should be ok. And while your insight and occasional encouragement on daily care, maintenance, and products are welcome — it should end there.
I’m not one to tell someone else how to live their life. I may offer insights and suggestions if asked, but ultimately what you choose to do is up to you. Quite frankly I don’t have a dog in the fight and I’m too busy trying to get/keep my own life together to be overly concerned with yours. (Love you though! *muah* *air hug*) I am a firm believer that we cannot afford to be divided — especially over hairstyles. There is simply too much going on in this life for one to have to justify their hairstyle decisions. And that is why I choose not to identify as a member of #TeamNatural.…because it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter if my hair is – Straight or Curly (4c, 3a, or 9q…). Relaxed, Texturized, Hot combed, or Flat-ironed. Twisted or in Locs. Dyed, Rinsed, or neither. Wigged, Weaved, Braided, or with Extensions. Faded, Layered, or Long. Side part, Middle part, No Part, or all parts with Bangs. It is mine (naturally or purchased) and it’s none of your business.
So to my friends over at #TeamNatural – Please make a right, travel north for about 5 miles, then make a left at the light, and make another left at the stop sign. THERE you should find your chill.
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Personally, a relaxer has not touched my hair in 1 year, 8 months, 1 week, and roughly 4 days (I’m not counting or anything) – in the process I have tried no less than 5 different hairstyles. It has been a long, hard road and for now I’m enjoying working with my natural hair. HOWEVER, I reserve the right at ANY time to throw a chemical treatment should I ever get tired of it. And I won’t feel bad about either. And I don’t want to hear nary a word from any of yall if/when I do, unless you are also volunteering to come into my home and do my hair everyday. (cues: These curls ain’t loyal.)

18.August – { Recipe: BOMB.COM BIRD }

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have you ever been in a rush – and you needed to cook something quick?…well if you’re busy like the kenmeister general is on most days…then recipes like this come in handy.  I like to call this the “BOMB.COM BIRD” – NO, the chicken does not contain any ingredients that you would find in a bomb….but you will explode in pure, unfiltered emotions on how awesome the chicken tastes.

1.  Preheat the oven to 350.

2.  Take some chicken (who cares how much? I know i don’t)

3.  Season it with whatever season you like…just don’t over do it – but make sure you use some garlic powder…I would normally use freshly pressed garlic – but right now we don’t have time to be fancy. – so shut up and follow the instructions.

4.  GET SOME ITALIAN DRESSING! – pour as much as you want over the chicken…the more the better! (any left over salad dressing you may have – I highly advise that you use it for a salad…please don’t drink it.)

5.  Put it in the oven – get it out in an hour.

6.  Eat it with other stuff.

**please note – you can use a balsamic vinaigrette  as well**

…you’re welcome.

– Kenneth