I’m usually late to the news and other events because I have a lot of stuff on my plate both family and personal, but because of the age of social media, I get snippets of news from Facebook, Twitter, and the like. When I do get caught up, it’s stuff I don’t want to hear.
I normally don’t like to comment on things without getting the full story, however, this is a story which I’m all too familiar. I don’t have to know their names, know what high school they attended, or if they liked hot sauce on fries because all of that is irrelevant. What I do is two more black men are gone due to police violence. Yes, I do know that one sought out to kill white officers and under no circumstances do I condone that, but on some level, I get what led him to want to hurt people. As my pastor once said, “Hurt people, hurt people.”
What went down in Dallas is what went down when four officers were freed on charges of beating the hell out of the late Rodney King. What went down in Louisiana is the same thing that went down with Oscar Grant on the subway. What went down with Tamir Rice is the same thing that went down with Emmett Till. It’s the same old story with different characters with the same agenda; kill at will. Emmett Till allegedly whistled at a white woman and his murderers felt justified beating his 14-year-old body beyond recognition. The officer who murdered Oscar Grant felt threatened by a young black man who dared to express his rights while handcuffed. The officers who killed Tamir Rice knew he had to be up to something on that playground so just to be sure…
Don’t think that I’m not torn. I have a love/hate relationship with police officers just like a lot of black people. I have a dear friend who is a police officer; a white police officer. He is a good guy, a great husband, and a loving father. When something like this happens, I pray he is never in that situation where he feels he has to pull the trigger on a black man, woman, or child just because his training says to treat all of us like the enemy. Yes, I do believe there is some suggestive training going in police academies in America. I’m fully aware that current media doesn’t do the best job of portraying most of us as human, but simply saying we are here to protect the public isn’t enough. There are some serious issues going on.
Currently, there is a heated debate going on my timeline about Dallas. It was my intention to read it and then move on until I realized that another dear friend of mine was a victim of racially profiled. She was pulled over less than a mile from where I lived for driving while black. According to my friend, the officer attempted to question her older teenaged daughter on the passenger side before talking with my adult friend who was driving the car. The officer also tried to question her young son who is about age six before talking to her. After she redirected the officer’s attention the pull over came down to what happened in Dallas. The officers were making random stops because they didn’t want to see the incident happen here in San Antonio.
There are just so many emotions, questions, and facts running through my mind like a cashier at the ten items or less line. I wonder if white people in Stone Oak are being pulled over? I wonder how threatening is a mom with her hair in a ponytail, driving a used car with her two children really is? I wonder if Sandra Bland knew forgetting to put her blinker on was going to get her killed? What is it about us that makes us so threatening? Why do officers feel the need to pull a gun and murder us? I naively thought if I follow the rules, trouble wouldn’t find me because after all isn’t that what’s been ground into our heads since birth? I can’t afford to mildly acknowledge our tragedies anymore because this shit keeps getting closer and closer to home. I lived in fear for my daughter because she attended Prairie View A & M University just minutes away from where Sandra Bland was murdered. And now my beautiful friend being racially profiled? What the fuck?!!!!!!!!!!
I really didn’t want to blog about this but the universe kept sending me signs. As I said before, I’m late on everything. I just finished watching BET’s Being Mary Jane on Netflix. The last episode featured her niece being handcuffed and tased by an officer in front of her children who didn’t like her loud music. Just this morning, I watched the BET awards show so I can dance and shed purple tears for the late icon Prince. I heard about Jesse Williams’ phenomenal speech and the memorable tagline, “just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.” What I was not prepared for is the other set of tears that threatened to stain my face. Honesty really is the best policy, but you better be prepared for the figurative and sometimes literal bloodshed to come. Simply put, people get tired of being screwed over.
I was bullied as a child. I outweighed my tormentor by at least 50 lbs but this girl made my life hell in fourth grade. She stole from me, turned the other girls against me, and would pretend to be my friend only when she wanted something from me. I tried forgiveness, ignoring her, and even buying her friendship. None of that worked because she was content to make me feel small. Long story short, I got tired of that shit and I slapped the hell out of her in front of her audience; after that, she left me alone. As an adult, I wouldn’t recommend violence to solve problems, but that was before it was easy to get guns to settle a grudge. To make my point, people who are discriminated against, disenfranchised, racially profiled, set up to fail, followed in department stores, nervously smiled at in an elevator, advised by white women that nothing is in the purse they’re stupid enough to leave on the table for anyone to grab, severely punished on first minor offenses, overcharged at the dealership for the same car the white guy bought, and just a little too black for mainstream comfort is fucking tired, fed up, had it up to here with the shenanigans, mad as hell, and don’t or won’t take this bullshit from people who want to keep America white. E-fucking-nough!
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, said be part of the solution or part of the problem. My natural hair, my young millennials window busting base from the speakers, my darker hued people is not the problem. Mainstream’s and the police’s perception is the issue. Oprah ain’t the only good black person left on the planet and President Obama is not the devil. American classrooms need to incorporate the 4 R’s; reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic, and racial understanding. If I had to sit through a class to listen how Christopher Columbus invited slavery, oops, I mean discovered America, then why don’t we teach them something they can use because news flash, we’re not going anywhere, let’s learn how to get along; for real.
My last thought for today is my children. I’ve been blessed with a 20-year-old, a four-year-old, and a two-week-old granddaughter. I went to visit my granddaughter yesterday after reading my friend’s post. On the way over, I encountered a police car and my heart started beating, I had my license, registration, I wasn’t speeding but it was the same anxious ball of fear I get in my stomach anytime I see them. If he pulled me over, he wouldn’t find anything illegal, but knowing one wrong word or move to the wrong officer and my children and grandchild would never see me again. Yes, it is that real for black people. I suspect why Micah Johnson did what he did, he was sick and tired of being sick and tired, but most of all he was scared. My heart really goes out to the victims’ families because in that line of duty you don’t know if your loved one is coming home on a daily basis, but real talk, us black folks don’t know if we are ever coming home again either.
Bonnie Harris Price
This blog is dedicated to my beautiful friend, artist, and mom who was racially profiled and to my children and granddaughter. May God watch over you when I can’t.
Netflix is the devil! There I said it, now let me humbly apologize because I freaking love Netflix! For less than $10 a month, you can get TV shows, documentaries, comedy, things for the kids to watch, old school movies, indie movies, etc. Missed a season of Being Mary Jane? It’s on Netflix! Need to find out what all the fuss is about on Scandal? You can catch up to the most current season on Netflix! Favorite show on summer vacay? Netflix! What the hell did we do before Netflix? Oh I remember; we recorded everything on VCR/DVD. For the rest of you who had the coins there was Tivo or maybe your cable company offered DVR. There are other streaming web services out there (Hulu, Amazon Prime) but there is none like Netflix.
Netflix is giving HBO and other overpriced cable shows a run for their money whether they care to admit it or not. Being able to watch killer shows like Orange Is the New Black without a pricey cable subscription is the best thing since fake eyelashes. All you need is a good Internet connection or wi-fi and you are in there. Here are just a few gems I have picked along the way. Sit back grab a box of light butter popcorn, with wine and enjoy.
Bloodline. The Rayburn family lives in a cozy little beach town in Florida. Mom and Dad run a quaint little inn, the second eldest son is a respected police officer, the middle children Meg, an attorney, and Kevin, who owns a boating business, are doing well, and then here comes the eldest Danny, the fuck up of the family. Danny comes home to celebrate his parents anniversary and brings a shitload of problems with him. Secrets are pouring out quicker than beer at a frat party and all hell slowly begins to break loose. The family that everyone has come to cherish is in deep turmoil over Danny and his shenanigans.
What I love about this show
I grew up watching day and nighttime soaps with my mom with my favorite being Dynasty. Joan Collins will go down in history as the bitchiest woman on television, but this family saga is relatable to us working class. Rich people fight about money, sex and power. Working class people fight to keep secrets. Not that cat fights and tossing the b word around isn’t entertaining, but Bloodline goes deep into that dark corner of a person’s soul. Academy Award Winner Sissy Spacek portrays the matriarch of the Rayburn with the same fluidity of her Oscar nominated character Ruth Fowler In the Bedroom. She loves her children, but something in her crystal clear blue eyes tells you she wished she never had them. Throw in betrayal, drug smuggling, and murder, and you have the perfect recipe for one hell of a show.
Beasts of No Nation. Child soldiers. A taboo subject no one really want to discuss because it is heart breaking to fathom that children are forced to carry weapons and kill. This story is set around Agu a boy whose village and family were taken from him after guerilla soldiers stormed into his life. His mother was able to escape with the two younger children while his older brother, father, and ailing grandfather were left behind. Soon he is captured by the same army and forced to lead a life of unspeakable crimes.
What I love about this movie
I had the opportunity to read A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah with my daughter. Reading does wonders for the imagination because it takes you there with the narrator. Yet seeing a story like Beasts of No Nation on film brings you face to face with the horrors of being ripped from the life you’ve known and forced to fight a war you didn’t start. As much as you want, you will try to tear away from the movie, but you can’t. There is something in Agu’s eyes that will call you back. And what can I say about the phenomenal Idris Elba? He embodies the beast in the colloquial sense as his believable portrayal as Commandant the leader who snatches what’s left of Agu’s and the rest of the boy soldiers childhood away. I will admit I had to watch this movie pieces at a time because there is no way I could sit through the whole film without crying. When the credits roll, you will hug your children and if you don’t have children, you will want to find one to hug.
Sense8. If Rod Sterling from the Twilight Zone and Annie Lennox from the Eurythmics had eight children, this is who they would be. Eight complete strangers from around the world are connected by Daryl Hannah, yes the original Little Mermaid herself. In some cosmic event she spiritually birthed these souls. The show was created by the Wachowskis of The Matrix trilogy. The characters are Riley an Icelandic DJ, Will a Chicago police officer, Sun a Korean business woman, Capheus a Nairobi cab driver, Kala the Hindu pharmacist, Wolfgang a German gangster, Lito a closet homosexual Latin film star, and a transgender blogger and computer hacker named Jamie. The story begins as Daryl commits suicide to keep the Whisper, a dangerous adversary from tracking her eight children from being found. She awakens their connections and soon everyone is involved in each other’s lives.
What I love about this show
I will be the first to admit I wasn’t a Matrix fan because I couldn’t make sense of what the Wachowskis vision but I love this one because the truth is that we are all somehow connected to each other. I love that people who will probably would never meet are getting to know each on an emotional level. The lines of race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation are erased as they enter each other realms to assist in the troubles they are experiencing. For example Capheus drives a cab to help pay for AIDS medication for his mother when he is approached by a crime boss to be his personal chauffeur after Capheus (through Sun’s expertise fighting skills) kicks some major ass of a rival gang. In Korea, Sun, a savvy business woman is devalued simply because of her gender, even by her own father. To burn off steam, she competes in underground fights. Despite her father’s total lack of respect, she sacrifices herself to prison to save her family from financial ruin. The two are connected due to bad choices and strong devotion to family. This show reminds me of the adage, we are more alike than we are different. This show celebrates this.
Mississippi Damned. This is not a Netflix original, but one of those movies that landed on Netflix. This movie is fact based on the experiences of Tina Mabry, an indie film maker from Tupelo, Mississippi. If you love The Color Purple, you will love this movie. As Beasts of No Nation, this story does not sugarcoat the horrors of growing up poor, black, and disenfranchised. The story begins with sisters, Leigh and Kari, and their cousin Sammy. Leigh is a young gay woman who wants to come out of the closet, but doesn’t because of fear. Sammy is a talented basketball player who has dreams of playing in the NBA so he can escape the sexual abuse he encounters. Little Kari is the dreamer of the group who finds her escape by learning to play piano. While the children watch the grown ups struggle with their own demons of violence, divorce, and poverty, the children are left to sort out their own struggles. Two of them turn to each other for support, one of them turns against.
Why I understand this movie
As hard as it was to watch some of the scenes, this is a story that hit close to home for me in many ways. I grew up in poverty Memphis, but my father lived in Mississippi. My daddy’s relatives did not welcome me and I was referred to as a “maybe” because I didn’t look anything like him. Financially they were slightly better off than me, but they made no effort to embrace me which is what a child really needs. I can feel Kari’s innocence, Leigh’s uncertainty, and Sammy’s pain through every line. With the help of another gifted director, Ava DuVernay, (Middle of Nowhere) Tina Mabry’s indie film brought hushed topics to light with earnest, humility, and a striking reality I haven’t witnessed since The Color Purple. If you’re looking for an indie film that tells nothing but the raw truth, this is the one.
What Happened Miss Simone? I know there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the biopic Nina Simone. African-American women like myself are up in arms because Hollywood chose light-skinned Dominican Zoe Saldana to tell Nina’s story. Without feeding that topic anymore fire, I love Netflix’s epic piece on the life and times of Nina Simone. I discovered her in my early 20s after watching Bridget Fonda’s Point of No Return. Her character Maggie was into Nina Simone’s music. Miss Simone’s longing sad melodies sometimes played through out the scenes when Maggie was in a bad place. Subsequently Maggie was a druggie punk kid who was given a last chance to redeem herself as an assassin. The music really went well with the scenes so I went to the library and did some research on Miss Simone’s music. I didn’t become a musical fan right away, but after the documentary aired, my interest reawakened. Now you can hear her musical influence everywhere even in the sexually charged movie 50 Shades of Gray.
Why this documentary put a spell on me
Hollywood has come a long way with us African-Americans, but they still have a long way to go. Personally I appreciate an African-American movie winning the Best Movie Oscar. I love seeing African-American women on film, commercials, and magazines, but I still love it when our stories get told. I’d be super naive if I believed all our stories are positive. I love documentaries because they tell the good, bad, and ugly. I’m a movie lover, but movies are made for mainstream. They will delete important parts, glamorize certain scenes by making them more (or less) than what they were, and sadly choose the wrong actors at times. I’m not taking anything away from Zoe Saldana, she is a beautiful force of nature. There are far too many known and unknown African-American actresses that could have done for Nina Simone what Jamie Foxx did for Ray. When Hollywood gets it wrong, thank God for documentaries.
The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne. Forget Bonnie and Clyde and forget what you think you know about gangsta women. Miss Doris Payne was the shit. This is another documentary I trolled across one day. Of course it caught my eye because this was a black woman who was one of the world’s biggest jewel thieves. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to brag on any wrongdoing, but I think she would have impressed the hell out of John Gotti. Doris Payne was like butter, she dressed, talked, and walked like the smooth criminal she was. Doris had it all, looks, money, and a streetwise swag that would intimidate most men. Doris stole millions of dollars in diamonds, had the ear of famous jeweler who taught her how to steal, and was rarely busted. And what’s more shocking is that even in golden years, she was still up to it. Now if that ain’t gangsta, I don’t know what is.
Why this documentary stole my heart
I’m going to say this very clearly. I do not condone anything Doris Payne did. I’m just amazed because even with her race and gender; she made a successful criminal career out of white men’s game without a gun! Doris was an expert on the con game. She knew how to lure her marks, take what she wanted, and was halfway across the world before they even knew what happened. That takes some serious lady balls and ingenuity. I feel guilty about walking away with pens that don’t belong to me and this woman jumped off a train after she stole a $1M dollar diamond. There were no masks, no high-tech plans and equipment at her employ, she just took it. If it weren’t for technology, she would still be at it. Doris eventually gets caught, but what a story! Coincidentally, there were rumors about Halle Berry bringing her story to life. If this is true, we are in for a treat!
Fuller House. Who’s ready for some nostalgia? If you were a kid in the eighties and you weren’t old or popular enough to date, then you spent your Friday nights watching Full House. The Tanner clan consisted of a widowed father, three girls, hot Uncle Jessie and goofy buddy Joey who lived under this one roof. Toss in annoying Kimmy Gibbler and a few tag lines “You’re in big trouble Mister” and you have a sitcom that the whole family could enjoy. The scripts weren’t the best, but it was one of the many shows you could let your children watch without supervision. Almost the full cast showed up for this show (sans the Olsen twins, but I don’t think you’ll missed them) for this reunion. The cast looks great, the material is Disney rated with some adult situations that aren’t too raunchy for the little ones. I will be the first to admit I did a mental eye roll when I heard the show was coming back, but I’m glad the Tanners are back.
Why my heart is full for this show
My biggest like is that I can watch this show with my four-year old and he loves it. I thought this show might be a little out of his league, but he is glued to the television set when I play it. Maybe it’s because DJ and Stephanie grew up to be hotties or he likes the catchy theme music. Who knows? Besides how many child actors can you pull out of the way back machine who look and are doing well? I know a couple of the Full House actors went through some trials as we all do in our lives, but judging by Season 2 renewal, they have something to look forward to. Fuller House gives us a reason to get together on Friday night as a family.
The Do Over. This is Adam Sandler’s second Netflix comedy. The first one was The Ridiculous Six which I liked, but I like this one better. David Spade portrays Charlie, Max’s best friend (Sandler) through high school. Max AKA Maxi Pad reconnects with David at their high school reunion. David is a bank manager at a grocery store who married his slutty high school sweetheart after she divorced her first ex-jock husband who is the father of her two twin boys. Max is living La Vida Loca as a FBI agent convinces Charlie to fake his death so he can live the life he really wants. The two buddies are in for a wild adventure and even wilder lessons as one learns to appreciate what he has and the other discovers to make the most of everyday.
Why I’d watch this film over
Adam Sandler is comedic genius. Most of his movies are screwball comedies with a hint of wisdom buried deep in the raunchy exploits of mishaps his characters go through. Charlie is a character anyone could relate to at one time or another. He takes a boring job. He settles for a person who could care less about him. He tries to make the best of a bad situation. Max is a friend everyone wish they had. Max is fun, daring, and if you’re in a jam, he has your back. And what would an Adam Sandler film be if he didn’t have a hot female lead. Paula Patton, divorced from Blurred Lines crooner Robin Thicke is the perfect pick for a love interest. She’s the perfect answer to the question, how the hell did he land that babe? If you ever feel yourself taking life too seriously, watch an Adam Sandler movie.
I’d be remissed if I didn’t add movies like Bully, Bleeding Heart, and the Netflix original series Narco. These are fantastic shows and movies to watch if you’re not in the mood for sticky theater floors or people who are too cheap to hire a sitter. For less than the price of a movie ticket, you have access to thousands of hours of quality entertainment at your fingertips that you can watch on your cell phone, tablet, computer whatever. Feel free to share some of Netflix gems with me and until then happy bingeing!
Bonnie Harris Price
writer, mother, part-time poet
This blog was not solicited by or affiliated with Netflix. I just love Netflix y’all.
Living with you is like being in a trailer park…
Loving you is like driving off a cliff
And into a bed of nails
Rolling down a hill made of barbed wire and broken glass
And bathing in alcohol to sooth the fire in my heart for
Your twisted soul
Living with you is like being in a trailer park
Caught up in a bloody twister
Throwing my heart, my kindness, my feelings around
Like deadly debris in a storm
As I make a feeble attempt to dodge
That cracked up board
Yanked from my crystal stair
Trying not to care about you
I might was as well gut myself
With a Japanese sword made of lies
I tell myself to keep
The tears from flooding my face
Running down my breasts
Ripping me apart like that
Lone wolf you long to be
But I’m trying to love you anyway…
Written by Bonnie Harris Price
Mother, author, and part-time poet
Any and every poem, short story or blog I write cannot be used without my permission, ya dig?
Dreams are a sweet escape from reality but when partnered with a plan, it becomes a goal.
There are some things I said I would never do, yet the older I get the more I find myself in contradiction. I’m more confused now than I was at 18. After graduation I had plans to go to college, become a writer, and move to Denver, Colorado. I would gaze outside at the snow-capped mountains in April while sipping on coffee writing my latest novel. I would later adopt two girls because marriage, natural childbirth, and white picket fences just wasn’t my thing. While the rest of my cohorts of Westside class of 1989 didn’t have a clue; I was certain I was going to leave Memphis behind for good. Boy was I in for a wake up call. What do the comedians say, you want to make God laugh, make a plan.
I left college after my freshmen year because it wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. I eventually went back to community college because I convinced myself an associate’s degree was just as good. I dropped out again because the love of my life at the time convinced me to leave school to spend more time with him. After a few mishaps including a restraining order and handcuffs against the jackass of my life, I was free to start over which I did a couple of times. I have a life I’m comfortable with so why do I feel the need to do something else? What is that desire to climb new mountains and explore new territory? Am I freaking insane or is the shelter of unfulfilled dreams my comfort zone?
Okay, now I’m trippin’
The question of the day ponders on why do we keep trying to escape the lives we made? What is so wrong or maybe a better question is why are we so intrigued about the promise of better days when things are just fine the way they are? What’s wrong with having a regular job, working regular hours, for a steady paycheck? What’s wrong with going to church on Sundays, meatloaf Thursdays, and a movie every now and then with your boo. What purpose is served for chasing dreams? Our parents and grandparents seem to get along just fine with one TV, a landline phone, and the evening news. They didn’t have a lot and they sure as hell didn’t have a lot of stress either. The two to three generations before us managed to enjoy life without learning how to snowboard, Vogue, or beat their scores in Angry Birds. They gave us childhoods, home cooked meals, and a sense of family. Why do I and others like myself feel the need to jump off a cliff? Are we crazy? Needy? Loathing in self-hate? Maybe it’s a Molotov cocktail of irrational, penurious, revulsion waiting to be thrust into the place we call ‘better’ only to incinerate the greener grass until there’s nothing left, not even ashes.
Okay, now I’m really trippin’
Dreams are a sweet escape from reality but when partnered with a plan, it becomes a goal. My dream or should I say, my goal, the thing that won’t leave me alone is to write for a living. I really want to write for living. I mean I really want it, I want it, I want it, I WANT IT! I want it so bad, that I find any excuse not to want it. As crazy as that sounds, it’s true. I can’t come up with a good reason for keeping my day job. I don’t like having a back-up plan when my passion keeps picking at me like a relentless bully on the playground. Even though I work from home, I still don’t like being told when to eat or pee. If I didn’t have a family, I would be the 45-year-old intern working her way up the top at a publishing house because I want it that much. I have written poems and presented them as wedding and retirement gifts. I attend open mic poetry to perform and listen to voices. I love reading books from other writers. Most of the apps on my phone are word games. I’m always trying to find ways to make income from what I love to do. I even did the unspeakable; something I said I would never do. I’m going back to school for my Master’s Degree in Creative Writing…in the accelerated program.
There is a part me that knows learning never stops. The trouble is no one really has a clue how to maintain your home fires without burning down the whole house. It’s only a matter of time before something or someone gives. Schedules are stretched thin, patience runs out, money is tight…it’s no wonder why lots of people give up on their dreams. Reality ain’t nothing to be played with. Children need their mothers, husbands need sex, the utilities have to be paid. How can you chase after what you want without everything else falling apart? Is it even wise for me and other dreamers out there to even try? The cruel irony is I will hate myself either way. If I give up, I will always wonder what I could have been and if I keep pushing myself I will hate it if I fail at what I love. All the positive affirmations in the world vanish like fog in sunlight when you don’t live up to your own expectations.
Back in the 80s the legendary Gap Band had one their biggest hits, “You Dropped the Bomb” on me. The song will still get old heads like me on the dance floor. However, on the flip side of that 45 (that’s vinyl for you Y2K babies) had a song called Life Is A But A Dream. Charlie Wilson, who still looks and sounds amazing, gently sang this cautionary tale (click this link to read the lyrics) http://www.metrolyrics.com/nothin-comes-to-sleepers-lyrics-the-gap-band.html I used to listen to this song constantly because I felt like the words were speaking to me. There is a fine line of who we are and who we want to be. It makes me wonder why am I fighting so hard when there is no real guarantee that this is going to work out for me.
Thousands of young boys out there who have dreams to be playing in the NBA or NFL, only a handful make it. What happens to the rest? Are they still out there chasing their dreams or do they decided to give up? If the latter is chosen, are they able to live with that decision? Radio personality and philanthropist Tom Joyner shared a story some years ago about an uncle who washed out the Tuskegee Airmen program. Tom reported his uncle’s decision to quit haunts him to this day. I saw the HBO movie; I empathized with his decision to quit. It had to have been hard enough to be a black man during those times without the additional pressure of trying to complete a program with the odds purposely stacked up against you. Not that my opinion matters, I get it. His peace of mind was important to him than trying to prove a point.
Dreams are good to have, but a goal will get you there. I think dreams fail because no one takes into account the amount of work, planning, and mistakes made to get you where you want to be. Yes, it hurts when I suffer a setback, when I check my stats and see my blog audience isn’t growing the way I want it to right now, but I have to keep pushing. I know I will feel even worse if I gave it up all together. I just don’t want to live out my dreams in my head. I want to touch, feel, taste, and share it with the world. Life is but a dream, and there is no way you or I should give up. We just need to make a plan and stick to it. After all, if all the Wright did was dream about flying, we’d still be taking the bus.
Bonnie Harris Price
…my life was crazy and complicated enough and then I started listening to country music. WTF?
Is there a place for black folks in country music? My musical tastes have grown since my days of listening to WDIA for the Saturday morning blues on my mother’s old Panasonic radio in the seventies. Musically, I’m a 60s baby. I grew up on Motown phenoms like Steve Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and the Temptations. I had a ginormous crush on Jackie in the Jackson 5 during their popular, yes I know Michael was the star, but I had a thing for older men when I was a youg-un. I was determined we were going to marry until I laid my eyes on his Purple Highness Prince (RIP.) Before Rick James declared his supremacy (I’m Rick James, bitch!) on all things funky, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown and Marvin Gaye raised my consciousness and rocked me to sleep with smooth melodies infused with messages of black love and pride. When hip hop and rap birthed into my urban universe, I experienced a kind of poetic justice that spoke to my needs, desires, and frustration of living in an impoverished environment where it seems that no one would make it out alive unless it was in a body bag or handcuffs. When I wasn’t looking Terrence Trent D’Arby, Culture Club, and George Michael sneaked in there causing me to crave things like neon socks, ridiculously large hair bows and feathers in my hair indulging in my own British invasion.
Look out world, here came the nineties! Hip hop grew by leaps and bounds, Tupac, Biggie, Puff Daddy, were just a few of the megatrons of music storytelling who dominated and influenced the next generation of hip hop hierarchy. And then there was girl power, TLC, SWV, Xscape and a comet by the name of Mariah Carey shut the boys down with harmony that redefined what female artists look and sound like. Somewhere in the industry “crossover” began in hushed whispers. Music lovers like me who usually chose sides were hypnotized by infectious pop music, enigmatic indie chicks and Neo Soul artists. Yes, I dabbled in a little in Alanis Morissette, got dirty with XTina, and dangerously attached to Erykah Badu and Maxwell. In the Y2Ks, I moved to Texas, got married and had my second child. As if my life wasn’t crazy and complicated enough–I started listening to country music. WTF?
Blame it on me for marrying a white man, who by the way is a huge Tupac fan. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I hated country music. My love for it now really was an accident. I hate long distance driving so I leave it to my husband. The cardinal rule is whoever is driving gets to control the radio. At first I hated it, but little by little, and much to my surprise I started remembering some of the words, and then the whole song. I even managed to make my spouse do a double take when I sang along to Kenny Chesney’s Come Over. Prior to my exposure the only black country singer that I knew of was Charley Pride. The only reason I knew he existed was from infomercials. Those companies could put out a million country themed albums a year and he was the only brother mentioned. What’s even more crazy is that I couldn’t pick him out in a line up now to save my life right. In my experience black people and country music is like black people and the KKK. We just don’t mix. Since my marriage, I find myself listening and loving country music. If my friends back home knew, I would lose my cool points. Remember The Blind Side? I grew up in the same housing project. There wasn’t any country music being played anywhere in Hurt Village unless white police officers were coming through to do a sweep in the projects, but I digress.
In some of her books, fictional author Terry McMillan refers to country music as blue-eyed soul. Being raised in Memphis, the blues were all around me. My earliest memory is taking a picture on Easter Sunday standing in front of WC Handy statue on Beale Street. My mother would hum tunes from legendary artist BB King (RIP) and secretly wish she was Lucille, his trusty guitar. Blues tell the story beneath the story. It is gut wrenching, makes you pick a fight with your significant other so you can spend the rest of the night making love and helps you to cry the tears in front of the one who done you wrong. They take you there. Country songs or the ones I grew up hearing seem to be about dogs, tears in beers, and the twangy twang, yodeling, yee haw type of noise that would only be popular among people who still had outhouses and looked like refugees from the movie Deliverance. Country music just wasn’t cool…when the country music category would come up on the award shows, I took the opportunity to use the bathroom or get a snack. Country music, pfffft!
But wait! Listen. Oh say can you hear Shania Twain, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill? See hairstyles that don’t create a bigger gap in the ozone, clothes that were made by someone other than Wrangler, and even black people singing in the backup. Luke Bryant featuring a cute black girl in Country Girl (Shake it For Me) video? Jason Aldean featuring African-American boys in the background playing football paying homage to his high school? An African-American man wrote American Idol tenth season’s winner Scotty McCreery #1 song? Say what? African-Americans are slowly but surely coming out of the closet to tell the world it’s okay to want to hear something different. It’s okay to be country.
Doing some research I found out that we have always been around, so no Darius Rucker didn’t resurrect blacks in country music. Recalling the movie Ray, the autobiographical masterpiece about jazz and blues artist Ray Charles got his start playing piano in a country music band. He often played country music during his shows because he loved the stories. Tina Turner, yes Miss Sexy Legs herself released a country music album in the UK before her Grammy winning album What’s Love Got to Do With It? Before Lionel Richie danced on the ceiling all night long, country music was his first love. Don’t believe me? Listen to Sail On. And let’s not forget Whitney Houston’s tour de force performance of Dolly Parton’s beautifully sad love song I Will Always Love You.
The more things change, the more they well, change. Every time I watch a country music video I continue to be amazed at the diversity of artists. The Brothers Osborne Stay A Little Longer video feature couples of all kinds, African-American, gay, interracial attempting to sort out the facets of their relationships. Ludacris, Beyoncé and Jamie Foxx performed at the CMAs a few years ago. Country duo Florida Georgia Line are changing the way country artists look with their tattoos, skinny jeans, and Tyler’s bad boy biker look. I’m loving the direction country music is going and quietly appreciate the classics from artists like Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, and Loretta Lynn. So yes, I’m more familiar with country songs than I admitted earlier. I’m a late bloomer just arriving to a place where I don’t give a damn about what others think. I like what I like.
I love writing and one day I hope to write a hit country song. I’m dead serious. As soon as I get the right words, I plan to tweet someone like Jo Dee Messina, Reba McEntyre, or even Carrie Underwood to take me on. My blues may be a different color, but they come from the heart. Until then, be on the lookout for me, and as Minnie Pearl would say, “Y’all come back now you here!”
Bonnie Harris Price
Author, writer, part-time poet
Country song writer?
I tried to be everything a good girlfriend could be patient, kind, loving, understanding. I lived I Corinthians 13:4-13.before I even knew what it was. I wanted to be loved so much I was willing to endure any kind of torment to keep the someone around.
If Beyonce’s Lemonade didn’t teach us anything else, we all fully aware that beautiful people have their problems too. Most of us don’t get the luxury of expressing our pains on top of a car hood, pulling a Jasmine Sullivan slaying a Robert Cavalli dress, but thanks to social media outlets others know that we are hurting or have been hurt by others.
Despite the rise of African American women finishing college, holding white collar positions, and rewriting history, no one cares that we are walking around bruised and abused from those who are supposed to love us unconditionally. During a segment entitled Daddy-less Daughters on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), Iyanla Vanzant voiced black women have too many -uns. Black women are unloved, under nurtured, and under appreciated. Even the campaign blacklivesmatter was geared towards the death and destruction of black men by the hands of police and self serving viligantes. I grieve, anger, and cry out with those mothers without sons. I literally and figuratively pumped my fist in the air at the conviction of Jordan Russell’s murderer Michael Dunn. Tears of frustration wet my face after watching Fruitvale Station, the story of Oscar Grant’s murder by a L.A.police officer who was charged then released after serving less than six months in jail. Pain should never be discounted or disregarded, but who cries for the sisters?
Even after the “trial of the century” open conversations regarding domestic violence; it is still a swept under the rug topic. Yolanda* is a luminous brown eyed, cafe au lait skinned young woman, with curves in all the right places. We work together but never really talked. We’re Facebook friends through mutual acquaintenances. I’d smile at her in the hallways and occasionally we might like or laugh at each other’s post. Yolanda radiates beauty, poise and confidence. Imagine my surprise when I was trolling my Facebook page only to see her recent post admitting the biggest secret we or someone we knew carried. Yolanda admitted that she suffered years of physical abuse from her husband. I was appalled. How could this bright, wonderful star be tarnished at the hands of someone who promised God he would love, honor and cherish? How did she manage to keep a smile on her face like everything was okay and go home to a prison? Why did she stay so long?
Minister TD Jakes describes abuse as the abnormal use of persons or property. We all suffer from abuse periodically. It may come from your children or coworkers trying your patience. Your boss or friends who constantly depend on you for things they are more than capable of handling. Maybe it’s that guy in traffic who hits his brakes every minute in heavy, stagnant traffic. Abuse of time, resources, and money can be controlled with behavioral modification, but what do you do about abuse of spirit? Long after the bruises have healed and disappeared emotional scars remain as fresh as a gaping wound. Every time she passes a mirror or hears a song, her memory will make her relive that horrifying experience. How do I know? I was Yolanda.
Nearly every relationship I encountered outside of marriage has ended in tears, physical abuse, and even a restraining order. What was it about my younger self that drew in psychopaths, abusers, and other dregs of society? I tried to be everything a good girlfriend could be patient, kind, loving, understanding. I lived I Corinthians 13:4-13.before I even knew what it was. I wanted to be loved so much I was willing to endure any kind of torment to keep the someone around. While I didn’t last as long as Yolanda did in her relationship, I know the way of misery. It feels like you’ve been with a bulemic vampire; you’re drained. But here comes the hard part…trying to leave an abusive relationship is hard. Don’t believe me? Then you haven’t seen What’s Love Got to Do With It? Tina suffered twenty years of physical, emotional and financial abuse at the hands of Ike Turner. Some of those violent scenes would go down as some of the most horrific in cinema history, but it is nothing compared to her autobiography, I, Tina. Why did it take her 20 years to leave him? Why did it take Yolanda eight? Why did I stay with him nearly two years? The answers go far beyond the bumps, bruises, and even death threats. The answer lies within that deeply wounded girl. The girl who sought her abuser out with an unopened mind and eager heart to love him like she wanted to be loved…because no one on earth felt that way about her–ever. Even after the bloody noses, swollen eyes, round the clock insults hurled at everything you do or say, the common denominator is every abusive relationship is fear. Fear is the invisible noose around the neck of a soul trying to break free.
The fear of being alone.
If there was bucket list comprised of things we didn’t want to do or be, alone would make it in the top ten. By now we are aware that people in relationships live longer than perpetual singles. Ever tried to have lunch alone or enjoy a book on a park bench? Someone who happens to walking or jogging by will take a break to ask about it, even though you barely moved past the acknowledgement page. It is in our nature to want to be a part of something or someone. Women in abusive relationships will stay with their tyrants if he promises to lighten up on the physical and emotional abuse. Women like me reveled in the good times and prayed the bad goes away quickly because being alone is the universal sin. Growing up as teenager, I was often teased because I didn’t have a boyfriend. My friends never understood why I went to the movies or shopping alone. They took pity on me and introduced to my first abusive boyfriend because they thought I needed a “man.” Although this guy wasn’t physically abusive, he made it a point to let me know he wasn’t interested in me and was just passing the time until something better came along. I accepted his callous behavior because I didn’t know any better, plus back then I thought that’s what boyfriends were for, to take you places and flirt with other girls, then brag about it to you later.
The fear of him hurting you and others you care about
In my first serious “adult” relationship, I was introduced to a guy because I was feeling sorry for myself for not having anyone special. The pressure of not being alone and my low self esteem led me to date someone who didn’t value himself, let alone me. I was a college student, he was a high school dropout. I went to church on Sunday, he smoked weed. I’d pay for our dates; he had another “friend.” Everything about him was wrong, but I kept going because I didn’t want to be alone. I eventually quit school to spend more time with him. He moved in, I got pregnant and hell began. He didn’t want me going anywhere without him, but was content to leave me alone while he hung out with his ex. After a confrontation with him and his friend, I threatened to leave. He threatened to kill me and our baby. I ran away to a nearby women’s shelter where a nun told to get the hell out of Dodge. The stress caused a miscarriage yet I stayed with him because I didn’t want to die. Little did I know I was already dead.
The fear that everyone will judge you
Make up, dark glasses, long sleeves in the summertime. Oh this? I ran into the coffee table. I couldn’t make it the party because Tommy wasn’t feeling well, again. Abused women are the master of excuses. I should know; I have lied my way out of numerous commitments and situations all in the name of keeping my pain to myself. The shame of captivity in a prison made of heavily armed threats, punches, and isolation is the heavy cross abused women bear. The mere idea of anyone knowing about your trouble at home is enough to send you into isolation. Why wouldn’t you want anyone to know? Maybe they can help you? The truth is most people underestimate the gravity of living in domestic hell. Once the shit hits the fan, here come the stares, the whispers, the judgement and then the questions. Removing the mask is hard enough without the constant questions and redundant opinions of “that couldn’t have been me, I would have…” No one wants or NEEDS to hear that. When the cat is finally out the bag, offer up a safe place to talk, cry, or just be.
Fear immobilizes a person even when they know salvation is right around the corner. I was in my early twenties when I was in my first physically abusive relationship. The same man who painted my toes pulled a gun on me while pregnant with his child. I’ve feared for my life, my unborn child’s life and feared what could happen next if I stayed with him. The fear of not being here was enough to make me leave with the clothes on my back and seek shelter. It wasn’t easy. I worried about what others would think. I dreaded carrying the weight of raising a child alone without a proper education, housing, or finances. The fear of it all enveloped me yet despite the fear, I had a decision to make. I fearfully chose to live, whatever that meant. I made it. Tina Turner made it and I know Yolanda will make it. Fear in the right circumstances can also be a great motivator.
This is for my fearless girls who dare to keep living in spite of the fear that tries to snuff out the wonderful light awaiting the dawn, you are not alone.
Bonnie Harris Price
*Name changed to protect the fearless
The joy of a new beginning
The hope falls on your heart like spring rain
Possibilities bloom like May flowers, the reds, the yellows, and purples
No greater love there is when I held you like an eager bride clutching her bouquet
Ready to take that leap into the bliss of your earth
I love you
The first trimester of trials bordered on tedious
No arguments, fights, or disagreements
Just the sweet nauseating of verses
About how we can’t breathe
Can’t eat without you, babe
We Natalie Cole-d our love, marked our territory into the tree of life
You and me 2gether 4ever
The second trimester brought some surprises
Back rubs became the cure for nausea
Music the remedy for fatigued muscle memories
Redbox, red wine and a red gingham quilt
Sheltered our fears, hopes and dreams
We picnicked on the future
Toasted to the past
Until we were so drunk
We never noticed the ants
Taking our stuff, leaving nothing behind
But crumbs and tiny wounds from the
Bites of doubt gnawing at the present
The final chapter of the third trimester
Unspeakable pain from unspoken words
My stomach is sour from bitter bile
Of secrets, angst, and unanswered prayers
Dull aches rippling across my mind
Trying to figure out how to release
This bastard we created of
Sandy foundations and blue horizons
Ignoring the vast oceans of
Differences between us
Waves upon silent waves of weeping
Washing like rivers against my skin
Crashing against the shores on my pillows
My heart is crowning like a newborn
I’m a mess but I know I must shed this pain
Knowing each tear I cry brings me closer
And closure on this laborious journey called the end.
Bonnie Harris Price
The benefits far outweigh the little snafus a WAH (work at home) person may encounter.
Working from home is where it’s at! I love peeing with the door open, coffee that doesn’t suck, and no traffic. Working from home is a win, win. Nothing could be better than working from home. It’s not for everybody but for those of us who do it, my only words are nanny nanny boo, I’m not stuck in the office like you.
It took me nearly two years, but I finally got the opportunity to work from home. This was one of the deal makers when I took my customer service position. If companies want to improve their customer service, send your employees home for Pete’s sake! There is nothing in the world more relaxing, than rolling out of bed, putting on a pair of basketball shorts, oversized T-shirt, and fuzzy socks to go to work in. My CSR job is cool, we could wear jeans, t-shirts, and on certain days, ball caps and flip-flops at the office, but at home wardrobe is righteous! If I felt like it, I could sit there naked and no one would be the wiser.
In the early Y2Ks gas was at an all time high with some states reporting as much as $4.00 per gallon. Some companies were offering four-day, 10 hour work schedules to help employees save money on gas. This was a super idea at the time and many people benefited from it. The three-day weekends were a plus, yet the only issue was ten hour days. If you’re not used to ten hour days it takes a little getting use to… your friendly demeanor leaves the building like Elvis around the 7th hour because your mental clock tells you work is about to end. The last two hours become mind numbing. You send fervent prayers to the telephone gods to keep the calls silent at least until the end of your shift. Candy Crush is begging to be played, but you can’t because of HIPAA laws. It’s all you can do to keep from banging your head against the keyboard to ride out those soul crushing minutes.
On the same note, if you work a straight 8 hour shift, it’s sunshine and rainbows. Time goes by like a leaf in the wind easy and carefree. I practically skip at the end of an eight-hour day because I can go from my office to anything else I need to do. No running to get to my car. No freeway shuffle or traffic jams. As Kenny Chesney says, no shoes, no shirt, no problem. The benefits far outweigh the little snafus a WAH (work at home) person may encounter. Besides wardrobe freedom, a K cup machine, and two ply toilet paper here are some reasons why working from home rocks.
Using my own bathroom
I’m a germaphobe. I hate using public restrooms. The girls restroom in junior high still gives me nightmares to this date. the only thing nastier than teenage girls is adult women. I’ve seen stalls with everything on them from urine to blood to feces. Used tampons and pads set on top of the receptacle and every piece of paper known to man strewn on the floor is enough to make a goat gag. Finding a clean restroom was like finding a needle in a haystack. I work for a reputable company but that doesn’t mean everyone rises to the occasion of cleanliness. Even the janitorial team hated going in there and I felt for them because only God know what they will find when that door opened. I’m a junky female with cosmetics I don’t wear in my bathroom and my decor desperately needs an upgrade, but filth? Ewwwwww! Another plus is not having to identify whose feet belongs to who isn’t washing their hands. Double ewwwwww!
Using my own microwave
My company houses over 200 agents on the first floor alone. Despite different scheduled breaks, lunch, and a cafeteria there is always a line at the microwave. Some don’t work, some are just too dirty (thanks to the jerk who forgot to cover his food before nuking) and some just too far away for the miniscule 30 minute lunch break we get. By the time food is warmed up, it is time to go back to the desk. We have privileges of eating at our desks, but it’s hard to get in reasonable bites of nourishment between calls. 99 percent of the time I’m the only one here unless my husband takes a rare day off from work. I can zap my food in less than five and enjoy at least 20 minutes of lunch in peace and quiet (or Netflix) and have enough time a few minutes to spare.
I’ve been at home less than a month and I’ve lost 7 pounds without evening trying to diet which is almost impossible when working at a call center. There are always potlucks, it’s someone’s birthday, anniversary, or some celebratory thing like Crazy Socks day that brings in the food like a membership drive at a Baptist church. I rarely turned down any free food. When someone shoves a Krispy Kreme donut in my face, I’m a Sir Mix A Lot parody, Baby Like Snacks! Working from home changed that. I don’t have access to overpriced, sugary snack filled vending machines, the expensive cafe with the cheap chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven, and perusing the vast ocean of home cooked meals are in the past. There will be some days I will have to go into the office, but I won’t be there everyday to indulge. As a side note, most call centers are still behind the times despite studies proving that sedentary workers are 50% more likely to have a heart attack. Hopefully the trend of in-house gyms, desks with treadmills, or even office yoga can make its way to all call centers.
Keeping the home fires burning
Working at home is less stressful. I’m not as tired or stressed out as I used to be. My days still start early because I have a young son. After I drop him off, I get home in about 10 minutes. I have enough time to get a cup of coffee, eat breakfast, and catch a few minutes of True Blood, (yes I know I’m late, sue me I couldn’t afford cable at the time) I can take a walk on my treadmill or to the mailbox. I play catch with my dog, make a few phone calls, etc. I can fold clothes, load the dishwasher, even start dinner in the crock pot. The possibilities are endless. These perks affect the way I do my job and a happy life makes for a happy wife, mom and employee. Managers and others fail to understand the importance of work/life balance. The short work week gave new life to 9-5ers. Even if employers could sacrifice a half of day, they will see a spike in production, employee satisfaction, and increase in profits.
Working at home is not for everyone. There are some downfalls like isolation, complacency, and sometimes depression. These are manageable pitfalls. There were five people who received the opportunity to work from home. As far as statistics go, there was one person who wanted to know if she could come to the office when she wanted. Thank God this was a teleconference so I could roll my eyes at the sound of voice when she dared to suggest an asinine thing. “Patty” is a social butterfly and loves her teammates. She wanted the flexibility to come in when she felt like it. Imagine the grin on my face when our host stoically replied not to make it a habit. My immediate thought was what was the point of applying to work from home if you were so happy at your cubicle? The slots are limited and it could have been given to anyone who worked best in their own setting.So Patty when you become the CEO you can come and go as you please!
The rest of us WAH workers, we’ll continue to carry the torch, the coffee, and the remote until you come to your senses.
*Name has been changed to protect the annoying
Bonnie Harris Price
writer, mother, part-time poet
Racism is more than white sheets and bonfires celebrating hatred; it is a subtle but powerful smug, a set of an unattainable standards, and denial that stretches longer than the infamous river in Africa.
If I don’t put my feelings on paper, I’m going to keep seeing her face over and over. The face of racism affects African-Americans daily. We cannot escape it, even on a good day. There is usually someone or something that reminds us we are considered less than human.
I dropped my beautiful, energetic son off at school every morning. After securing his Lightning McQueen backpack and taking his warm hand into mine, we head towards the building. Right ahead of us there was another mom and her daughter. We usually arrive at the same time but she’s always in the lead. Little boys; or at least mine tend to focus on other things such as the unofficial mascot of a stray dog who faithfully shows up to watch the children, but even Grey escaped his inquisitive mind. He got out the car without delay or distraction enabling us to walk a safe distance behind them. The mom kept looking at me over shoulder. She continued to cautiously watch me until we got to the building. Once we arrived at the door, she opened it just enough where she could dash in. The door slammed on my son and me. I called her a not so nice name (rude heifer) under my breath so my son couldn’t hear, but I know she heard me because she eyeballed me as I walked in. I mean mugged her and kept stepping.
Some people would simply write her off as rude, but not racist. If you’ve never been black, gay, a woman, or poor then you don’t have a clue how hard it is to be judged, feared, and excluded from the human race. I’ve seen this woman countless times and I know she’s I’m a parent. What would possess her look at me as if I’m going to rob her at gunpoint is a mystery Sherlock Holmes couldn’t solve. It angered me to the point of speaking ill of someone I barely knew. The only story that matters to me is that moment in time where I was treated like shit.
I’m a large black woman of average height. I’ve worn my hair natural for almost three years sans perm or any other method to chemically straighten my hair. I don’t smile a lot, not because I’m mean but because I don’t like my crooked smile. I walk as if I’m going to run someone over usually because I work from home. I crave my peace before my customer service job begins. I’m slightly anti-social because I know all things do come to an end so I don’t waste my time building relationships with things that aren’t going to last. That woman could have a smorgasbord of reasons to dislike or fear me, but she saw a black woman walking too close behind her and she freaked. Once the anger of reaction subsides, the real feelings emerge.
A myriad of feelings surface after unjustified fear or ignorance is thrust upon the offended. Hurt, disappointment, indifference, depression, and even feeling numb is Tuesday for us who know without a shadow of a doubt racism is alive and well. There has never been a more blatant cast of putrid evidence found in every corner of the world. The last eight years obliterated the thin veil of polite conversations, fake smiles, and vacant stares from people who wished we would go back from “where we came from.”
Racism is more than white sheets and bonfires celebrating hatred; it is a subtle but
powerful smug, a set of an unattainable standards, and denial that stretches longer than the infamous river in Africa. Three children called into the principal’s office for throwing spit balls are called nasty, filthy little girls while little Billy who committed the same offense is just “being a boy.” A highly respected 15 year veteran African-American drug abuse counselor with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and leadership experience is denied a promotion because he didn’t have what they were looking for in a supervisor. Russians refusing to shake hands of the current leader of the free world just because…Even Robin Roberts called Diane Sawyer out for her subtle racist ways a few years ago after doing a segment on racism at Good Morning America. Those were just a few examples the hundreds of times I’ve been hurt by it, had a friend who experienced it, or saw it happen to someone else. Racism is a devastating wound on the human race.
How do we live with an open wound? If racism is covered up, it never heals. Didn’t Taylor Swift say that band aids don’t fix bullet wounds? An ignored wound gets infected; threatening to contaminate healthy, viable parts. Scabs may suggest healing, but scars underneath serve an ugly reminder that something bad happened. Some people, including some upwardly mobile blacks try to escape by pretending there is no problem. Slavery is over, move on, you are the captain of your destiny, I pulled myself up by my bootstrap chorus is sung by every member and sponsor of the Race Don’t Matter Choir.
Somber sighs from the battlefield of living with this festering ferocity are deafening. The glances from brothers and sisters walking this Underground Railroad with me are potent enough to stop a train dead in its tracks. Witness upon witness of racial discord continue to rise as more young men like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown are murdered in cold blood. The more we “try to get along” like Rodney King suggested, the more we suffer. It’s not just white people looking at us crazy, but other minorities are getting in on the act too. I’ve had Latino sisters grab their purse when I walk by and the person cautiously looked at over her shoulder in broad daylight in a public place was Asian. Really? I grew up in the South so I’m used to being discriminated by white people. However over the last ten years the ignorance has trickled to other cultures. Maybe it’s always been there. Lack of knowledge and misplaced trepidation dilutes the melting pot. The audacity of hoping for a better tomorrow to leave my children and grandchildren is futile. I have to hang my hopes on the strength of my elders who endured unspeakable conditions just to live another day.
Don’t be fooled, subtle racism cuts like a knife. My daughter was called the N-word by a Mexican student at age 14 in front of the principal, also of Latin descent. She responded by slapping his face. Calling an African-American by that name isn’t subtle by any means, but the principal reaction to that situation –lukewarm. The offending child didn’t receive a suspension. My daughter didn’t get a suspension either, but to sweep it under the rug like it never happened? My daughter revealed this to me in her Senior year long after the principal and the child left. I still have mixed feelings about it to this day, but honestly what could I have done to help her? And how will I help my biracial son? What do I teach him about race? How am I going to respond to him when he comes home in tears after someone asks him what are you or is that your nanny when I pick him up from elementary school? I know I have only so many moments left that he will accept he is my little snookums, his sister’s Booga Bear, and his daddy’s shadow. I think both of my children’s future and the future of my granddaughter who is on her way to this sad, crazy world.
Marvin Gaye sang the only way to conquer hate is love. I do try to love my enemies as best I can, but I’m not perfect. I lose my way just like anyone else. I know I’m going to see that woman again. She will avoid eye contact with me. I will return the favor. What I will not do is dwell on it. I will see her face again, but I leave her soul to a higher power. My fervent prayer is that she realizes her action has a ripple effect. We’re both mothers and if I haven’t learned anything else, I know children pay way more attention to what you do than what you say. No one is born a racist, it is a learned behavior. Let’s teach our children and ourselves love.
Bonnie Harris Price