There’s Gonna Be some Changes Round Here!

Did you miss me? I ask that question to the 120 or so of you who were nice enough to follow my blog, and the other handful that read my posts. Well, this thing has been silent for more than a week. Did any of you notice?

I ask, not in a whiny, ego driven way, but out of the genuine desire to do better. I started this blog about six months ago, with the earnest desire to go viral and blow up all of your computer screens with my sheer fucking awesomeness. As I look at my watch, I realize that I am about five months late on my goals. By now, I had planned on sitting back and collecting royalties as thousands and thousands of people clicked, liked and shared me into financial freedom.

Okay. That’s a (slight) exaggeration. But I do take this blog seriously, and looking back, I realize that I have made some serious mistakes. My content has been all over the place. My posts, though regular, have followed no defined schedule. My distribution and networking have been laughable.

I’m proud of Chadvs… I’ve written some things that really shook me up. And when I shake myself up, I know I’m on to something. But, after six months of flying blind, It’s time to step back and reevaluate things.

Don’t be surprised if you don’t see any posts from me for a little while. And don’t be surprised when I return, with a different name and greater focus. It’s time.

I’ll see you in a week.

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Illuminati Free Playlist: Strong Black Women being Strong, Black and Womanly

Straight up, I didn’t really know who Jean Grae was until Christmas. That’s when posts announcing the debut of Life With Jeannie started popping up on my facebook newsfeed.

I knew about her. She was chick with the tattoos floating just outside of my pop culture periphery. But if you asked me to name one song, I’d shrug. I’m into music, but in a fashion that is absolutely miopic and bull-headed. So, as I play Fela Kuti’s, Expensive Shit, over and over and over, a lot of good music slips by.

The sitcom is great, by the way. Wierd and Black and totally urban while side stepping every single Black urban stereotype there is. But that’s not why I’m playing Kill Screen in this here blog. Nah, this is my response to the backlash against Lupita Nyong’o.
Didn’t know about the backlash? Yeah, it’s out there. A tiny, smug and vocal minority of people wondering what the big deal is.
They say the movie wasn’t that good (I disagree), and her performance wasn’t that good (I totally disagree), and the Oscars shouldn’t have recognized her anyway. To which I say, blame the Oscars, not her. Or, better yet, find a hobby.
What’s the big deal? Well, she was very honest about her exeriences with colorism in America. She was given an opportunity to tell her story, she expressed it eloquenty and it resonated. Maybe not with you, but with a whole lot of other people. But if you don’t get something, it’s okay. Maybe its not yours to get.
What’s that got to do with Jean Grae? Nothing. But, as awesome as Nyong’o may be, there are as many ways to be awesome as there are jaws to be dropped by said awesomeness.
Jean Grae is my Nyong’o counterbalance. A sista whose raised the quest for individuality to a fine art. And the beauty of it is, you don’t have to give a damn about either one. They’ll be okay.

12 Years a Slave wasn’t about Rebellion. Would you have liked it any more if it was?

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I have been championing 12 Years since before it hit the theaters. I’d seen the trailer and read the back story. To me it showed some things that we don’t often see; depictions of freed Blacks in the North, slaves interacting with the Native Americans, and the raw insanity that the system of slavery produced in both the master and slave…

I know… there are folks out there that feel as if we have had slavery movies shoved down our throats since the seventies. Those movies, 50 by one person’s estimation, were in fact, one mini-series. Roots. Roots is the alpha and omega of our education on how we endured the holocaust of slavery. It was… impressive. I’ve read the book and seen the series. It doesn’t show the entirety of the story. No one movie could.

12 Years a Slave did an incredible job but, like Roots, it’s just one movie. It isn’t an omnibus of every experience during those 246 years. If you want to see depictions of rebellion, (I do!) you may have to wait until Danny Glover lands the funding for his long shelved Toussaint Louverture project. Or you can check out Sankofa. It was the labor of love of Haile Gerima, who wrote, produce, directed and then distributed it in 1993.

The fictional piece followed a narcissistic fashion model as she was transported back through time at during a Goree Island photo shoot. Like 12 Years a Slave, it was an exhausting movie to watch. Unlike 12 Years, there was no white savior in Sankofa. Victory was won with the machete.

Of course, some folks feel as if we need to jump over those centuries all together. We were Kings and Queens in Africa (and scholars and priests and even lowly subjects). They want to see more of that in our theaters.

Let’s. I would like nothing more than to bring my kids to a movie about Nzinga, scourge of the Portuguese in pre colonial Angola. But that doesn’t mean that I feel that our experience here has been exhausted. The force of slavery continues to influence who we’ve become as a people. Until we navigate that mental minefield, it’s going to be damned hard for us to advance. We can’t slip the snare if we refuse to look at it.

Besides, our heroes; Harriet Tubman, Denmark Vesey, Gaspar Yanga and countless others, were every bit as powerful and Queen Nzinga. Someone must sing their praises, but to do that we have to learn their struggle.

Anna-Nzinga.-Angola

The Elegant Machete

Ghost Dog.
It came out in 99. Afterwards I bought a copy of the Hagakure.
It had a dope cover and some true pearls of wisdom about politics and the value of patience and perseverance. It also told me how to scrape off a person’s face, in order to help preserve his skull. That hasn’t come in handy yet.

In this scene, Forrest Whitaker, who plays Ghost Dog, runs through a handful of martial disciplines, many of them badly. The way he handled the machete, however, made my jaw drop. It was the first time I’d seen it deliberately used as a weapon, rather than an instrument of opportunity.

Lupita Nyong’o: The Essence Speech

This speech…
I’ve written before about the challenges that my daughter is going to face. Challenges unique to Black folk of her particular hue. Those chosen ones, celebrated, pigeon holed, resented and punished for something totally outside of her control.

I’m not comparing her to the multitude of beautiful, young, darker skinned children out there. I’m not trying to say that her blues are deeper or heavier. All I know is, this world wants us to think that who we are is somehow a curse.
There is no right answer when you’re Black. You’re either not enough or too damn much. Too fat, too skinny, too light, too dark, too smart, too dumb, too bougie or too damned ratchet… when you’re Black someone is always headhunting. Always trying to tell you that the person that you are, isn’t the person that you should be.
Thank you Lupita. Thank you for finding peace in a world that would love to cultivate and then feed upon your self hatred.

The Politics of Booping Schnozes

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Actual (not really) footage of my daughter post nose-boop.

My little girl landed in time-out the other day.

She had been going to the same day care center for about a year and a half, with nothing but gold stars and smiley faces. She was that child that the teachers wanted more of.
“Why can’t they all be like her?” they asked.

Why indeed.

Some time on Wednesday, another little girl came to class. Is she a new little girl? Has she always been there, lurking in the shadows and waiting to strike (or get struck)? I don’t know. My daughter has never mentioned her name among her litany of little friends.

Word on the street is, that new little girl was messing with the Uma. Poking her chest and chin out at her, as only children do. The two of them, sitting at that little table in their little chairs… tensions building steadily over graham crackers and fruit snacks. Just like The Wire, but with sippy cups instead of crack.

Then it happened. My daughter raised her little fist and… “*Boop!” Right on the schnoz. (The Boop sound was relayed to me from the teacher. I can only assume that it was absolutely accurate, and the other little girl’s nose sounded like the horn of a tiny clown car).

When the teacher approached my daughter she looked around the room in widest eyed innocence. But there were witnesses, including the little girl, now cupping her nose in shocked disbelief. It was open and shut.

Then they were both escorted to time out. My daughter’s first time out. Where the Uma, cried inconsolably until her three minute sentence was commuted to one minute on the grounds of, “Aint nobody trying to hear all that…”

Upon release, the other little girl grabbed her things and moved them to another table, as far away from my daughter as the little room would allow.

When I got there, the teacher relayed the incident to me, sternly… until she snickered a little bit. But mostly sternly. She told me that they have a firm policy on fighting. Nobody was above the law, not even the Uma. Then she told me how glad she was that Uma had stood up for herself.

I agreed. She has to stand up for herself. But then, she has to pay the consequences, even if it means time out.

The Dekalb public school system has a zero tolerence policy. That means that Uma’s nose *Boop might have landed her at the police station if she attended one of the area middle schools. At the very least, she would have been suspended.

At the school where my oldest goes, a *Boop will get you kicked out. Not right away; first they’ll suspend you, whether or not you were at fault. But at a certain point near the end of the year, they reevaluate all of the children’s admission status’s. And that *Boop on the nose will get a big red stamp on your transcript. Technically you weren’t expelled. You just weren’t asked to come back.

With all of the bullying and violence in our schools, I understand zero tolerence. It sends an iron clad message to the students. If you bully, abuse, put your hands on or *Boop someone’s schnozz, there will be reprecussions. I get it. I just don’t think it’s right. Because, to put it simply, sometimes honkers need *Booping. 

My oldest daughter relayed this true life scenario to me. One boy had tormented another boy all year long. He called him names and spat at him. For one reason or another, he had taken it as his mission to break that other boy’s spirit.

The other boy, for his part, kept a low profile. Right up til the last day of school, as the students were boarding the busses for summer vacation. Then he ran up on his bully as he was getting on the bus (he had launched one last taunt, for old times sake) and knocked him unconscious.

That’s what bullying is. Psychological warfare. It is a long game that steadily, quietly escalates. The bully targets a child that he doesn’t think will fight back, and succeeds only to the degree that he can infiltrate the interior of his victim.

It’s extremely hard to punish. Teachers aren’t always there, and even when they are present it is their job to maintain an orderly status quo, and not the individual morale of each child. So they enact zero tolerance so that once things explode, and they almost always do, they can levy the full force of their administrative authority upon the perpertrator. The only problem is, in the eyes of zero tolerence there is absolutely no difference between the bully and the child whose decided that they can’t take it anymore.

That’s not a big deal when the reprecussions are as simple as time-out, but when we make children choose between accepting torment or getting expelled from school, you put them in a position that is emotional poison. When, every so often, the solution is standing up for yourself, raising your fists and booping schnozes.

Slugger (that’s what they call my daughter now) probably won’t be booping any more little girls for a long time. She’s not cut out for that time-out life. The other little girl, on the other hand, might as well move her juice and crackers into the time out corner. Every time I pick up the Uma, she’s standing silently in that corner, tear tracks dried on her cheeks. I don’t know what goes on in her home, but they are cultivating a little bully. But there is one little girl that she is going to leave alone. Thanks to that *Boop.