Friday, November 28, 2008

"Everybody Say Yeah"! OSF Stevie Wonder

I had to choose Fingertips because of the preacher-like call and response routine of "Everybody Say Yeah"! But also because it is reminiscent of the music and parties of my pre-adolescent days. Stevie, displaying his genius on the harmonica and bongos, was an inspiration to many of us children during this historic period.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Loving Home

The selection of Marian Robinson as First Grandmother flew under the radar of many, but may reveal more of President-elect Obama's mindset and values than any of his other cabinet or administrative choices.

Rather than the view of the dominant culture that the mother-in-law is a nuisance, in our history, extended family has promoted our survival in hostile or complex environments. Particularly, the raising of children has been a communal responsibility as we have always understood that "it takes a village." In recent years this family perspective has become fractionalized as we have become a collection of individuals at the expense of the caring community that has been our strength.

Marian Robinson, the mother of First Lady-elect Michelle Obama, by moving into the White House to care for Malia, 10 and Sasha, 7 as their parents attempt to run a nation as well as a household means reviewing our child-rearing practices as part of reclaiming our family values.

It also means the following:

Parenting in the 21st century is a complex issue, indicating the need to adapt or for creativity in providing safety, care, and discipline to ensure emotionally healthy children.

The days of saying children should be "seen and not heard" should be replaced by a new refrain that states "Children are Important" and raising them requires a plan and not leaving their future to chance.

The first task of the village or extended family is to provide a place of learning, love, wisdom, understanding, and comfort. When peace and harmony are added, that is home.

Not where I was born, but where it goes well with me is my home.
Kanuri Proverb

Monday, November 24, 2008

For Me?? You shouldn't have!

Nothing is more transparent than when we try to conceal feelings of pride with protestations of modesty. So I won't even try. Aw shucks, I am elephant-happy and rhinoceros-glad to be the recipient of a Superior Scribbler award from my powerful sista' SjP at Sojourner's Place! You feel real, real good when folk you respect say something nice about you. I have the utmost respect for Sista SjP for her style, substance, and perspective. I truly feel that I have been knowing her all my life. So this is quite an honor.

Now, the rules that follow as a consequence.

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

I am passing the Superior Scribbler Award to the following diverse five who have inspired me through their unique insights, providing me with a more diverse perspective. Y'all keep up the good work!

These are my choices:

My sis Hagar's Daughter
Another sis The Old Black Church
My lil' bro Fresh & Fab
Pjazzy @ Traces of a Stream because anyone who is familiar with J. Royster is alright with me!
Sista gp at A Southern Thang because the culture fascinates me and contributes to our dignity in under-appreciated ways.

There are many other bloggers whose work touches me deeply and who are really doin' it but I am limited to these. Please check them out as well as my sista and friend Sjp @ Sojourner's Place.

Peace Be With Thee!

Friday, November 21, 2008

To Be or Not To Bop: OSF Jazz Tribute

Nancy Wilson, jazz, blues, cabaret, and pop icon aka "The Complete Entertainer" and Ramsey Lewis, aka "The Great Performer" team up on this number and bring their combined 150 plus albums, six grammy's and numerous other awards and recognitions together in their 1984 collabo Just The Two of Us.

Jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and Bebop pioneer, Afro-Cuban, bent-horn styled legend and icon Dizzy Gillespie in his prophetic Closer To The Source, recorded near the end of his career.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The election of the first African American president in the United States has triggered a backlash of more than 200 related hate crimes, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In inner-cities and among other marginalized youth however, the Obama victory appears to have sparked an interest in urbanity and civility, according to my own unscientific but sagacious observations.

The meaning of Barack Obama's election, to many African American youth, has revised their definition of manhood from gangsta' to professional, from dumb and don't care to intelligent and passionate, and from falling down pants to well fitting business suits or other more refined attire. Obama's overcoming has also added or is adding hard work, intelligence, dignity, family, and anti-sexism, racism, or classism to the definition of black masculinity and desirability.

What was it in Obama's method, that has been successful in changing the behavior and values of our youth, where our past leadership and parenting efforts have been fruitless? I attribute it to the following:

1. He was blunt and direct in articulating past and present failures rather than becoming an enabler or co-dependent by making excuses for dysfunctional behavior or covering for or minimizing embarassing failures.

2. Yet, he did not allow articulation of failure to become a permanent mantra which would have destroyed the future of our youth, relegating them to a prison of hopelessness so that their lives would have become a self-fulfilling prophecy of the put-downs.

3. Obama exposed his own obstacles and humble life experiences to allow his victory to trumpet the message that "the future ain't like it's always been" and no longer do we have to continue hurting ourselves by internalizing the pain of rejection.

4. Believed in us. The President-elect assumed that concealed somewhere in our tattered existence, was something glorious and very noble and made his appeal to the dignity and the best within us. Obama's certainty that we are still great human beings, more than anything else, separated him from the other candidate, draws the best from within us, and makes the difference in changing our attitudes and behaviors because it restores the hope that unlimited possibilities are now attainable.

For we are saved by hope....
Romans 8:24

Friday, November 14, 2008

OSF Birth Year Song

Youtube credit: ripa171 March 29, 2008

There are many thrills and chills that have entered and exited since this song was originally written and recorded by Roy Hawkins in 1951, but popularized by BB King in 1969. The Thrill Is Gone was also recorded by Aretha, Little Milton, and many others and is a blues classic.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Keeping Change Alive

The election of a President who campaigned on a promise for change puts us in a unique position to enact legislation that provides comprehensive health and mental health coverage for all children. With many competing issues in the mix, we must let our voices be loudly heard by our legislators letting them know that we expect them to keep their campaign promises and not let this issue fall off their agenda or settle for a quick fix. We must keep shouting until they cover all children in 2009.

President-elect Obama has put up a new website and is soliciting policy recommendations that we would like carried out in the next four years. To ensure that change is carried out, we need to do 3 things:

1. Visit Obama's new transition website,
2. Complete the form and tell Obama to:

a. Fulfill his campaign commitment to ensure that every child has health coverage.

b. Ensure that any legislation enacted meets the following criteria:

- Ensures every child and pregnant woman has access to affordable health coverage and health services.

- Guarantees all children and pregnant women comprehensive benefits, which must include all medically necessary services.

- Simplifies the application and enrollment process to make it easy for all children to get covered and stay covered.

- Resists the temptation to go for a quick fix that falls far short of covering all children.

3. Submit your vision of a country where all children in America have health coverage! (You can even include a photo or video with your submission!)

link: Children's Defense Fund
photo credit: Tom Ethington;
Center of Hope Freedom School

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Challenge of a New Start

Transitions are always difficult because they require an exchange, which includes both the passing and the receiving of the means of control from one hand to another's. The exchange can become the source of disastrous consequences if it does not go smoothly. Related to transitions, and perhaps a more dangerous pitfall with the possibility of bringing even more devastating outcomes, is the necessity of getting off to a good start.

The biblical account of Joshua begins with a new generation coming into its own, receiving the reins from Moses whose responsibility was to get Israel in position to be totally free. Because God always gets the glory and won't let any of us do it all, Joshua's responsibility was to actually lead Israel on a campaign to take possession of their new home.

As Joshua takes charge his first order of business is a reconnaissance mission to determine how to capture Jericho, a fortified entrance into the promised land and which held the key to success of the entire campaign.

A calm, deliberate President-elect Barack Obama surrounded by a multi-generational, multi-ethnic group of economic advisers has announced that his first order of business once taking over the reins of leadership will be to stabilize the economy. The substance of the policy includes: (1) an immediate stimulus for Americans seeking work and aid to states and localities; (2) help to keep homeowners in their homes; (3) aid to industries such as autoworkers where they focus on building green cars and tap into funds already allocated; (4) scrutinizing the bailout to be sure it helps people without unduly enriching banks; and (5) a middle class tax cut for 95% of working families and capital gains tax cuts for small businesses.

Obama's deliberate focus on what his advisers and the public believe to be the most critical or key issue facing the American people reveals his strategy and also provides us with the following Practical Lessons for governing, leading, and living:

Learn how to begin and where & how to strike first.

A blow struck with precision, directed at the right time and in the right place will have 10 times the effect of flailing aimlessly in the dark.

Being effective from the start may save a lifetime trying to play catch up, fighting an uphill battle, and fizzling out trying to come from behind.

Barack Obama: Effective from the Start

Friday, November 7, 2008

Old School Friday #38: A Night To Remember

Thank God it's over and the first African American president of the U.S., leader of the free world is elected on November 4, 2008

Shalamar: Jeffrey Daniel, Howard Hewitt, Jody Whatly

And a Classic, Marvin Gaye: Got To Give It Up

for other OSF participants, click here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Matriarchal Misconceptions

The biblical patriarch Abraham is known as the Father of the Faithful and is a pivotal figure in the three Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in spite of inconsistencies in the patriarchal picture we are accustomed to have of him. On more than one occasion he hid behind his wife Sarah to protect himself, leaving her vulnerable. But not only did Abraham fail to protect Sarah's honor, he also submitted to her wishes without challenge when she urged him to take Hagar as a wife in order to become a surrogate for her. When Sarah later regretted this decision, Abraham again submitted to her will and was thus complicit in allowing Hagar and Abraham's "outside child" Ishmael, to be kicked to the curb and to make it on their own. So Abraham, by abandoning Ismael and later threatening to kill Isaac, appears to be something less than a "man of the house" and an ideal father to his boys, an image that many readily apply rightly or wrongly, to contemporary black men.

It is also clear that the boys' mothers played the pivotal role in guiding them to become leaders of the nation - Sarah, in a traditional household, but also Hagar, in a non-nuclear, single, female-headed household. Among the most myth-busting, misconception-mashing accomplishments of Barack Obama's ascendancy to the White House would have to include that: Great outcomes and strong values can indeed spring from the seeds nurtured in and by nontraditional families that may or may not include the father or a man. From the roots of assessment based upon a patriarchal nuclear family structure, we have long attached the negative labels of deficient, selfish, abnormal, or tragic to women, who by choice or circumstance, find themselves without a husband.

However, a startling fact came out of 2008 presidential election as reported by The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research along with Women's Voices Women Vote.

Unmarried women supported Barack Obama by a stunning 70 to 29 percent margin, exceeding the support among both younger voters and Hispanic voters. In fact, there was a 44 point difference in the behavior of married women and unmarried women.
If not for the overwhelming support of unmarried women, John McCain would have won the women's vote and with it, the White House.

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. Proverbs 31:10

A nation can rise no higher than its women. Elijah Muhammad

Full Story

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Sober Promise

If some of the rhetoric and negative advertising during the now concluded presidential campaign was inflammatory and caustic, the frequency and unrealistic optimism of the candidates' campaign promises - from tax cuts to reform and establishment of elaborate programs with simultaneous balanced budgets - left us "promise-hardened" and "campaign-calloused."

However, a grateful and classy President-elect Barack Obama, in a tempered enthusiasm, promised the following in his acceptance speech:
"I will listen to you... I will ask you to join in the remaking of this nation... Block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand." "A new dawn of American leadership is at hand."

It is a magnificent achievement for America to elect an African American president, but with the enormous challenges that lie ahead, will the American people, having elected the first African American president in it's history, allow him to lead?

If the sin of slavery has retarded the "eligibility" of African Americans for the office of President of the United States, it also plays a role in the success or failure of black leaders. During the nearly 350 years of slavery there was the belief as well as systematic propagandizing of slaves themselves, that no slave was capable of even leading another slave let alone a white person of supposed superior culture and social position. As a result a growing disrespect for black leadership has evolved except in instances where these leaders have played what amounted to ceremonial or ornamental leadership roles in mainstream culture.

Obama was right to temper his enthusiasm as navigating the tasks, function, and expectations of this uncharted position will be very complex, particularly as a pioneer. His remarks last night were telling and on-point considering that we often want leaders whom we can shape and mold rather than leaders who possess the required vision that we often do not see.

If this New Dawn of American leadership is to still be held accountable and be successful and not operate in a dysfunctional, divisive atmosphere of second-guessing, suspicion, and ultra scrutiny then yes - it must be a joint remaking of the nation, with mutual listening and cooperation. Then if Obama is blamed for mistakes, it will be because he was allowed to lead (as others before him) and we were willing to follow. And, the nation as a whole - all races, genders, young and old, and Republicans and Democrats, will collectively share in the successes as well as it's mistakes or failures.

A shout out to the hip hop generation for your participation in the process and for your ability to obtain cross-cultural appeal, respect, and acceptance. That played a role in the election of our first African American president.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Revelation: SHOUT NOW!

Don't wait til the battle is over, I'M CLAIMING THE VICTORY NOW!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A New Demon

Indifference or voter apathy has been a demon that has historically affected the American citizenry in general and the African American community in particular. The 2008 Presidential election however, thanks to war fatigue and an economy in shambles, the resultant subordination of past wedge issues, and a massive increase in new voters, has enabled this malaise to slip into apparent remission.

This curing of the disease of lukewarmness, rather than providing a total healing, has in the long lines of those waiting to cast their ballots a possible residual side effect. Early voters have waited as long as 8 hours in Georgia, 5 hours in Indiana, and have been reported to arrive at 4:30 AM to stand in line for doors that do not open until 8 AM in Oklahoma. These delays, whether voter suppression tactics or due to lack of available resources, will disproportionately affect the traditionally disenfranchised poor, working poor, and people of color who cannot afford the added expenses or lost wages of an entire day.

In this day before the biggest election in the history of the United States, our prayer should be as we vote, for God to inspire us to utilize our innate creativity and improvisational genius gifted to us through our survival instinct. But also and more importantly that the demon of impatience, which causes us to do more harm to ourselves than others can do, be exorcised from our hearts and minds.

A person's wisdom gives them patience; it is to their glory to overlook an offense. Proverb 19:11

If you patiently endure, you come out victorious. Twi Proverb

An inch of progress is worth more than a yard of complaint. Booker T. Washington