Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year from Me & The Bourgie Baby!

Thanks for all the love, the follows, the comments, and just the outright bourgie rapport we've established in the last year. Thanks for the patience when the blog went radio silent because someone (pointing at self) had to deal with motherhood and ya know...that takes up a lot of time. I know I'm not the only one.

So how am I spending my new year's eve? With the bourgie baby of course, who is literally pulling one of my kitchen chairs across the floor into the living room, and the first ladybug to capture my heart, my niece whom I lovingly call Pootie. As they spaz out with the Wii and sour gummie worms, I am thankful for such a great year that really wrapped up perfectly!

So let me act like I'm receiving an award and rattle off my thanks and kudos...First off, Thank you GOD! Hallelujah! Thank you Mama for being the only Mama I know and got. That was a mouthful. I can't even begin to articulate the love and support my dear husband gives. He's just awesome and one of the joys God has given me to have in this lifetime. Much love for friends who got your back, pray with you, who I see growing and evolving before my eyes, and even cross their fingers and toes for your success! I have mad love for those who've shared a drink or two or three throughout this year, gave me a place to rest, and a shoulder to cry and scream on. I love you love you love you & I'll throw some OLAs in there too! O O O OLA!

Big ups to the writing community that sprouted out of love, afros, and Mississippi kudzu running for miles and connecting us, Memphis PEN & the Hansberry Baldwin Society! Big ups to the LoveJones Lifestyle Blog & the GioD's can be viewed through all things Love Jones. Best of all, I've had the privilege to read some really great blogs and writings from other like minded intellectuals who are going to rock out our generation.

I'm out! The Bourgie Baby will ride on in the V Dub into two thousand and lebben'! Peace,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Keep It Simple, Sister: Beenie Weenies Rock Their Socks

There are some days where I can't put together a well-meaning, sophisticated meal for my tot. Sure...on Sunday I whipped up some ahi tuna steaks with a cracked pepper crust and Caesar salad...but this recent cold, blustery weather has me craving warm hearty meals that radiate warmth into my wide feet.

What can I say about Beenie Weenies? And I'm not talking about the ones with the unnaturally small weenie slices that have a strange, plump center mixed in a tomato slurry. I'm talking about the homemade kind where I boil my own weenies, open my own can of vegetarian beans (thusly, destroying their virtue), adding barbeque sauce and chopped bell peppers and BAM! Let it steep down into one delicious beenie weenie bechamel and you will have your own bourgie babe running to the table.

I knew my bourgie babe was destined for epicurean greatness, even in utero. I craved raw vegetables, well dressed grilled chicken sandwiches, hummus, and all variety of nuts, fish, and Thai food. But her gastronome leanings also lead her to appreciate the charm and bounty of Southern food and nostalgic staples. I remember when I was 2 weeks from delivery and my mother made me a huge pot of chicken and dumplings...she was convinced I had ate so many, Noodle would come out during her birth with one hanging out her mouth and one on her forehead. That would have been awkward, but, fortunately, she just looked like a dumpling in my arms.

As I watched my tot just pour herself over the beenie weenies, giving occasional mmmmm's and oooohhhh's, I was affirmed that my kid's exposure to the finest cuisines at places like Drago's or Byblos hadn't snootied up her palate. She rubbed her feet together and she did happy eating dances and wiggles just as she does whenever we take her out to eat. Obviously, I must be a good cook or I would have been like some moms on the opposite end of the spectrum who have to sue McDonald's in order to get her kids to eat healthy, if at all. A tough NO and the threat of starvation should fix that for ya'.

I always find it funny whenever I go out to eat with snooty types who couldn't imagine eating at a local BBQ haunt but end up swooning over a slow, cooked BBQ bologna sandwich topped with coleslaw. They usually end their gourmand session with, "I love how you Southern folks eat! This was the best meal of my life." It begs the question of whether they are starving at home or too busy laboring over snail shells and harvesting caviar in their basement. We can all admit that the best gourmet food isn't always the best, or well seasoned, or filling. In these lean times in America, we'd threaten the chef with mighty blows if our salad is a mere endive leaf topped with a tablespoon of ceviche and smear of cream sauce aesthetically placed on the plate and we're charged $30 bucks. But it is perfectly fine if your tot knows the joy of ceviche or who has the best charbroiled oysters or that tuna is best served rare to medium or how to spit their food out in the napkin or how to place their fork on your plate to let the waiter know you are done.

Folks, its all about exposure and appreciation; don't be afraid of relatives or friends reprimand of your kid's supposed "bourgie" ways (Texas de Brazil? Commander's Palace? Girl, just take their arses to McDonald's!). After all, it's about keeping it simple, Sister Moms, and cooking homemade meals as often as possible. Yet, its perfectly fine for training your kids to socialize and network in restaurants that are not mass marketed for quick in-and-out meals. Teach your tots balance, otherwise, those nitpicky eaters will throw that cabbage and corn bread back in your face and demand their French bistro inspired meal ASAP.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Feeling "Some Kinda" Way or Can I borrow #Dwele's horn section?

Since becoming a mother, much of my world view has shifted a tad. Being a motherless woman through the 90s and early 2000s, my womanist acrimony ran rampant against the ills of the patriarchy; the relentless hegemony on my people; the endless persecution of the Diaspora time and time and time again. My former Black, militant, grad school reading marathon rostrum has given way to weariness at times from how far we have strayed. My bourgie babe is growing up in strange times...from silence to leopard print...from the lone token Black girl in the Babysitter's Club series to The Cheetah Girls.

But in a time where I shield my Noodle from Nicki Minaj's "Barbie-face" and give her the fashion sense to steer away from 2T underwear with "Baby Girl" on the ass or the inevitability of toddler Apple Bottom jeans, it makes me feel some kinda way. Some kinda way about how we love our people...What are our intentions when we live in a world where everyone is out to get, rise, come up, win, exploit, destroy, embellish, fake-it-till-you-make-it? Dwele said it best: "Oh...what's your kinda love? Your some kinda love? What's your beautiful?"

There's so much that can muddle a mother's love as one raises their child, much of which is railed into the media we consume. I have been deliberate in my attempts to give my tot airplanes and Hot Wheels with her baby dolls, relish in the fact that her favorite color is yellow (TAKE THAT PINK!), that she openly lauded her afro puffs and braids long before lil Black girls had to wait on Sesame Street to tell them to. But thanks anyway, WE DO LOVE OUR HAIR!

But, I'm still feeling some kinda way about what my bourgie babe and what life has in store for. She won't be able to share with others about her "rise from the hood" story that the media loves to exploit because its not her reality. By then, the memories of Nicki Minaj's "Roman's Revenge" will be as faint as her career because she will have thus reaped the very seeds of her success. I want my Noodle to have her own voice, but still know that her voice shares the same melody as her mom's. The truth she spits is a homage to what I gave life to. If you remember my past revelation of raising myself or what I'd like to call baby mama karma (could be a Ben & Jerry's flavor), teaching the younger generation about heritage is more than just opening a history book and telling them to read. My life is that open book, and from time to time, we have to go back to the reference section in order to contextualize our experiences. Its a matter of teaching respect, a nuanced dance between telling the truth and willing to be wrong at times. I see many of my students wanting respect without learning the virtue of humility and silence. Like Nicki Minaj, they think it might sound cute to make comparisons to themselves as a frightful dungeon dragon (RAWR! RAWR!), but do you realize you are enslaved? Did anybody else catch that? Yet, she lavishes in the attention she gets: "Look at my show footage/ how these girls be spazzin’/
So fuck I look like gettin’ back to a has-been?"

Unfortunately, Minaj's blanket use of Busta Rhymes iconic RAWR does not suggest much deep philosophical digging...or did she even note Bussa Buss' homage to Peter Tosh in the same song...? Eh,...just put this in your pipe and smoke it:

Busta Rhymes - "What's the Scenario" by Tribe Called Quest
Watch, as I combine all the juice from the mind
Heel up, wheel up, bring it back, come rewind
Powerful impact BOOM! from the cannon
Not braggin, try to read my mind just imagine
Vo-cab-u-lary's necessary
When diggin into my library

There's that BOOM again...Once the upcoming generation thinks that we're all a nation of has-beens, then they think we are disposable. Wonder what that scenario will look like when they can't learn from the mistakes of the past or the very history that gave birth to much of the movements and genres they merely dabble with and exploit...makes me feel some kinda way...that leering I felt when I watched Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls, or when I cringe at Beyond Black & White/No Wedding No Womb's critical refrain on Fantasia, or the fact that what we all need is a little more love, a hug or two, a more positive way to ask for attention, and maybe an intense womanist roundtable with crudités and hot tea to get to the solutions of dealing with this generational dissension.

By pointing fingers and essentially, and unconsciously, yelling that we have forgotten to love each other, maybe we just feel we've been left behind, forgotten, lost, isolated, silenced...bullied, forced, poked, and pulled into our own dungeons. Lord knows Fantasia is not part of the problem; she's just one of the many stories we all share and do nothing about it. It all makes me feel some kinda way. Like the fight has left us a bit. Some of us can't even get mad over something like cupcakes gone blackface. They're just toying with us now...a dragon with no fight in them. Some kinda love...

I sure do need Dwele's horn section now more than ever. Hopefully we won't see anymore of his McCafe commercials anymore...the brother needs to get back to the studio. "Some kinda love in the Cafe...?" I do think that's what he said...

Still one of the flyest McDonald's commercials I've seen...

Let's remember, when we start to feel some kinda way about the world our bourgie babes are growing up in, we should not hesitate to express a "kinda love his [or her] kinda love so hopefully our children's, children sons and daughters will hear these expressions of our kinda love."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#forcoloredgirls who raise their babies on mother-wit when Tyler Perry is not enuf

My Noodle surprises me everyday with things she knows that I didn't know she knew, ya know?

Like the hippopotamus she identified on her cup (shouldn't I have explained that already)

...Or similarities between dead and sleep:

Noodle: "That man dead, Mommy."
Me: "No, he's sleep...wait a minute...How do you know what 'dead' is?"

..Or that "Almost There" is her favorite song from Princess & The Frog...from all the others...and yet, everytime she sings, "And I'm allllmmooosssstttt tttthhheeeerrreee. BOOM, Mommy!" she has to note the falling of the pillars at the end of the song, perhaps Disney's comedic rib-shot at this grown ass colored girl really thinking she's going to buy this massive property and be the queen of her destiny. BOOM!

Perhaps my bourgie babe knows the deal. She's got her eye on the man and she's going to stick it to him ad hominem style. Or maybe its just a catchy tune. BOOM!

That BOOM had never been louder when a friend and I went to see For Colored Girls, Tyler Perry's surgically altered womb of a tale.

I wholly believe in the power of the female voice. Our words, our songs, our love, our network: think double-dutch as an artform for my colored girls. It embodies the ties that bind us. The songs that keep us in step. The constraints of our paradox.

What I wasn't prepared for was the brutal, tragic, and bitter portrayal of women who seemed less victorious and more embattled than their beginning with the exception of Loretta Devine's character. She knew her lover-in-residence had run off with "a simple bitch with a bad attitude" but that didn't keep her from creating that vessel for which the other women could pour up a cup of mother-wit. Mother wit: the substantive nature of women who instinctually nurture from that part of them that is the recuperation of their ancestors - humorous, brash, wise - everything Madea attempts to be. These are the women who know that good bras, panties, and girdles are the root of our foundation. Can't have all your stuff hanging out or you just might lose it.

I compelled myself to want to really like each colored girl and love them fiercely for what they represented to our struggle. Red, blue, green, purple, yellow, white...but each woman was flawed, blazingly distorted, through Perry's own lens, all carrying destroyed wombs, whether it was destroyed by HIV, untreated STDs, abortion, infidelity, post-traumatic stress disorder, rape, and religion. At every turn, I saw a woman destroyed, rumpled up like paper and thrown in the corner in tears, literally. When does she rise? Was it supposed to be at the moment when all the women encircle Kimberly Elise's character on the roof and her manic declaration of "I found god in myself and i loved her - i loved her fiercely!"

Or Thandie Newton's cocaine chic portrayal of a young woman who should have been adorned in glitter and butterflies...and yet, all is forgiven and lives to be the life of the party because Mama ain't gonna change, now go to college!

Or maybe its Janet Jackson's (what's a weaker synonym for "stirring") confrontation with her down-low, HIV positive husband and she has all these sorries greeting her at the front door. Did she rise up from the ashes of her marriage or was it when she was told that HIV drugs have come a loooonnnngggg way since the 80s and she has to hope to live. I guess now's a perfect time to be philanthropic and learn to be nice to people since you saw your abused co-worker's children thrown from the window.

Or was it seeing Anika Noni-Rose's triumphant return to her dance studio, dancing in the spirit of Sechita, willing away her shame by her latent rapist. The voice behind my bourgie babe's favorite song and movie. BOOM! a woman who kicked viciously thru the nite catchin stars tween her toes. What I was not prepared for was to see this brutal rape. I felt a communal leering about the threatre. Silence. I felt my hands clench the arms of the theatre chair, my anxiety welling up...this latent rapist was upon us. women relinquish all personal rights when in the presence of a man who apparently cd be considered a rapist. BOOM!

Tyler Perry attempted to turn this beautiful choreopoem into something it was not, a man's portrayal and homage to women's struggles. This film needed a laying on of hands...simply allowing a wonderful assemblage of Black women to star in these roles is not enough. Their needed to be a laying of the hands on the script. With the last words being yelled to me at the end did not ring true for me. It seemed hysterical, livid, deeply morose, a realization made before the recuperation. Keep this in mind:

(from After Mecca: Women Poets and the Black Arts Movement by Cheryl Clarke)

I have seen several theatrical performances of this play and remember the wonder of the PBS American Playhouse production (1982) I found in the public library I worked in as an undergraduate back in the 90s. Directed by Oz Scott, screenplay written by Ntozake Shange, starring Alfre Woodard, Lynn Whitfield, and Shange as herself, this portrayal set the precedent for me. So imagine my confusion when I witness the clumsiness of the dialogue, the lack of fluidity between the characters, their words, and connection, the viciousness and coldness of the male presence. It lacked the communal responsibility of a woman's story told by herself and her reflections.

Maybe I'm a sucker for a linear story, the accursed Tyler Perry plot line. I wanted to walk away feeling that a woman's struggle and ultimate empowerment and joy is real. We are not just broken bodies with bitter hearts. Colored girls have a lot to teach this world and despite the failures and fallacies of the laden male voice on womanist subjectivity, we cannot convince ourselves that Tyler Perry is the "new voice" for Black women. I'd rather take some mother-wit from a brown, braided double dutch girl.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A ladybuggin' we will go!

Big ups to Old Navy for giving me 50% off on this cute ladybug costume b/c its missing the antennas. But don't fret my bourgie babe...afro puffs will fill in just fine.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Womb Full of Wedding Cake

Its been no secret. I have an intense love of wedding cake and I am always delighted in the occasional invitation I receive. Its not the love of two people joining together that bring me, its not the potential retail therapy I will partake to find just the right dress for this glorious event...nah, not even the prospects of gossiping about my dear friend's special day, replete with cell phone videos (yes, your love is like the Holy Ghost), pictures (for your viewing pleasure), texts, and Tweets. After all that, its all about the cake for me. I want my cake and eat it, too.

Cliches aside, the wedding cake is one of the most endearing parts of the wedding for me. So much thought and art is put into such an element that will be ultimately shared and devoured by the masses. Married couples have their cake. Sommeliers savor their wine. A death row inmate in his final hour digests his last meal. Kids and their ice cream. Jimmy Dean and his sausage. Love and food...What must be nurtured can be devoured. What we grow, instill, celebrate, revere, and titillate about in this peculiar world cycles around. Sometimes what we endear the most can't be saved from the likes of ourselves.

The No Wedding/No Womb movement exists in this paradigm for me. Started by Christelyn Karazin, it began as a well-meaning dialogue to stop the bastardization of a generation of Black children. Now, cue all the hysterical YouTube videos you've seen in the last 5 years and Essence blogs that critique, delineate, and rally the Black heterosexual relationship...It probably sounded a bit like this: Black woman, you will not get married in your lifetime. Did you ever say to yourself in the last year, "I think Black men hate me." Even Oprah dabbled in Cleveland, Ohio's adopted son's home spun playa-gone-good brand of advice for riveted single Black women.

Steve Harvey became a nation of Black women's heroes and his stock rose so much, Essence's Editor-in-Chief has to call his morning show everyday and get derailed without ever making a full point on the issues that matter most to Black women. But we'll save Essence for another post.

Sure, there must be some confusion when many of these broken-hearted, solutionless women read his book Act Like Lady, Think Like A Man and mulled over lines like, "From the moment we come out of the womb, we're taught to protect, profess, and provide. Communicating, nurturing, listening to problems, and trying to understand them without any obligation to fix them is simply not what boys are raised to do." Well, what are we going to do? Steve Harvey is telling me that men are coming out the womb with instinctive gender constructs buried in their DNA BUT what do I have to change in order to accommodate these men because I'm trying to finish this race to the altar? Rhetorically, speaking...

I understand Christelyn's perspective. Yes, it is troubling that so many children grow up without their fathers. I was one of the 'fortunate ones' to grow up with both parents though it was not ideal. Like Jon Stewart put it, "Parenthood gives you the opportunity to ruin a human from scratch." But when I see such lines that suggest that Black men shirking their responsibility is equivalent to keeping "scores of black women and their children in emotional and economic enslavement", I was taken aback. Is this more male bashing? Was this an unwarranted attempt to further sever the bonds of the Black love paradigm? Was this an attack on the 'baby mama syndrome' - scores of Black women needlessly, selfishly, willingly opening their legs, and becoming impregnated by a man who had no idea there was a price tag attached to that xy merrying in her womb - that sacred place she obviously doesn't understand it's worth? Ah, yes, the womb. Christelyn defines it as the safe place in which we nurture and that a two parent household "married" to the idea is better than a "single, struggling one".

So, is that what it's about? Is it more about being compensated for our role as mothers than raising well-adjusted bourgie children?

Should we just marry well and THEN we'll be able to have our cake and eat it, too? Or will we be left with having to buy the ingredients, slave in the kitchen all day, ice it, serve it, and never savor in any of its saccharine delight?

I don't think the solution is just marriage but goes further back to acculturating a generation of children who do not know their worth. So much of our worth is tied into how our parents raised us, instilled in us, loved us, taught us, reproached us and how much our community embraced us. As an educator, I see children everyday floating through life "married" to idolatry. Their worth, esteem, and identity is tied into material idolatry.

I remember Christelyn and I had a respectful Twitter exchange about the importance of community as it relates to NWNW. She believes parents are the ones who create the village and I likened it to the "chicken or the egg" debate. We cannot create community if we do not look back to the tiny pieces of our ancestral wisdom, the egg itself, the idea of creating communal values. As Martin Buber believes, we must directly and indirectly accept our past and present, learning to distinguish the individual life from the culture as a whole. He states that once this is distinguished only then can a culture of people

We cannot just approach the issue of out of wedlock births as a danger to our financial and emotional prospects as women. But, most adeptly, Christelyn does refer to the "trauma" these children face and it is often a result of the very emotional trauma placed on the child by the parent. Many believe the "village" concept of raising a child is not working, but it cannot work if we do not "absorb foreign experiences" that will lead to our expansion as a people. Thus, there is more than one way to raise a child. As mothers and fathers, we have to create support systems to keep us sane, to nurture our children when we are absent or in addition to, to offer advice, and to create a community. Much like the blogosphere, we must often seek out others who share our ideals and even challenge us to make us stronger in our convictions or make us rethink our approach; perhaps then we can stop living in fear of who seeks to devour us. Maybe then, we could share in our expertise and rebuild the village that can deal with the challenges we face due to generational neglect.

Now, who's bringing the cake?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cooked Noodles can be the worst Noodles of all

Well's been 2 years in the game now and I'm not sure if I'm any wiser about this whole motherhood thing. In some ways, I think I have taken some steps back since Noodle has blown the lid off of toddler-hood. I'm about sick of Noggin turned Nick Jr...I'm always surprised by what shows she will like...what she'll actually eat.

I hear her peacefully watching Lazy Town (EXCUSE ME?!) and eating her left over oatmeal. Most days, she would toss both to the side and would rather put on my shoes and walk around in them. Once upon time, all that would satisfy my little babe was a bowl of mashed potatoes and grilled chicken. Now, she raves about butternut squash and the wonders of hummus. She scoffs at the sight of mashed potatoes, but have no fear: as my friend Laurie would say, tater tots are still her "jam".

I've made peace with the fact that my little Noodle is growing up. We have both waged an epic battle over the potty, and 3 out of 5 visits would agree, we are making progress. But there are those days where I could pull my afro apart when she would rather be engrossed with DJ Lance than the Rubberband Man; get your cane little one and run your ass to the bathroom!

My miniature version of moi is just as finicky and attidunal as me; as with every cut eye she makes and selfish toddler diatribes of "I don't want dat!" & "Mine!" & "I wanna eat eat Mommy" & "Let's go!", there are times where I have to realize, she doesn't know any better...this is just a stage in development. I spend most days overwhelmed by her selfishness and ponder could my story end up on Law & Order if I just dropped her off at the local fire station and never looked back...?

Nah! That's not even me. Maybe this woman who may be duly dealing with her own and her eventual toddlers' selfishness. We'll just reminder, it's purely natural to feel overwhelmed that you would act out in ways like this. Nah, I'm not giving up on my Noodle, no matter hard boiled she may seem at times. Sometimes she turns down the temperature and becomes my little baby again.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stinky down but not out

I am beyond elated! I've had to go to Twitter and Facebook seeking help from my fellow mothers in the struggle, those who've seen the perils of poopy for some advice. I've heard advice from putting cheerios into the potty to 20 minute field trips to the pot. Well my sisters, I followed the ques of a toddler on the edge of no return and I ran her to the potty and ploomp! ploomp! Success!

I would post pictures but that would gross. You wouldn't want to look at something like that. Not even something as gross as this...

What the hell is going on over there at Huffington Post?