Thursday, December 27, 2007
Kujichagulia: To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
(no images, just audio ~ black star "K.O.S." ~enjoy)
day 2 of Kwanzaa is dedicated to self-determination, or defining one's self in spite of what others may say or think of you. self-determination and defining one's self is, arguably, the purpose of life. once we are able to create our own authentic identities for ourselves and by ourselves, i argue that we, as individuals and a people, will have achieved true freedom. it's like being able to be your own boss, and basking in how freeing that can be. but with that freedom comes immense responsibility. let's not take it, or ourselves, for granted.
"The fire's in my eyes and the flames need fanning
With that what? Knowledge Of Self, Determination"
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 5:39 PM 3 comments
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Umoja: To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
today marks the first day of Kwanzaa, the seven days after Christmas that aims reinforce the seven collective principles of African culture. today's focus is Umoja, or Unity.
i have always LOVED this song. for a time, it operated as my theme song, my anthem. i played it daily, sometimes several time a day basking in the strength and beauty of the horns and Latifah's words. even today, i am still moved whenever i hear it, and my swagger becomes that much more fierce.
at first listen, the song may seem not to speak much to "Unity" as it does to female empowerment, but when you think about it, a community cannot rise and achieve FULL unity until all of its members are valued and respected. as audre lorde so aptly stated, "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."
in this Kwanzaa season and beyond, let us focus on trying to celebrate and accept that which makes us beautifully unique.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 5:16 PM 3 comments
Monday, December 24, 2007
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:47 AM 3 comments
Friday, December 21, 2007
i have struggled to define myself for so long.
for years i allowed others' definitions of me become who i was, as least temporarily. as a mother & wife, i'm having a hard time really figuring out who i am. like...who would i really be without all of these titles (mommy/wife/teacher/sister/daughter/visitor of inmate #06XXXXX)?
when i'm still, when there is no one around who needs anything, then who am i really?
& who are you?
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:30 AM 5 comments
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
On a recent trip to the park, I was reminded of the staggering gaps in race and class when it comes to mothering. The park was full of moms—mostly white—with coolers chock full of snacks, toys, screaming, barefoot kids, and Benz SUVs. This world felt foreign to me and about as inviting as a new, awkward kid’s first day of school.
Of the many moms out that day, I was the only Black mother, or parent, for that matter. As I listened to a group of moms discuss plans for their next playgroup and Mom’s Night Out activity, I wondered, where are all the black moms and playgroups for people that look like me?
I hit the net searching for information. First I did searches for African-American moms, mothering, and working moms and playgroups. After punching in a myriad of search terms dealing with mothering, I came up empty handed. Most resources for African-American moms either dealt with stay at home moms, or poverty and African-American moms, none of which answered the questions I had in my head.
Despite the lack of internet resources, I know I’m not alone. My situation is hardly unique. I’m an educated, working mother, who is solo parenting a rambunctious two-year-old son. There are millions of women like me, yet no one seems give a damn. An article on the National Organization of Women website discussed the media’s virtual ousting of mothers of color. It states,
If you read major newspapers and news magazines or watch network news broadcasts, you may have the impression that all mothers are white, married, college-educated and have (or have abandoned) careers in high-profile professions such as law, medicine, broadcast news or finance.
And although they are poorly represented in media reporting on working mothers, African-American mothers have a higher rate of working outside the home than any other demographic. Married African-American mothers with children under 18 have higher rates of workforce participation than other married mothers (82 percent compared to 71 percent of white moms, 66 percent of Asian moms and 62 percent of Latina moms, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
So where are the real representations of moms that live outside of what society deems as the norm? Are we left to fend for ourselves, and continue to feel like outsiders on playgrounds across America? Something has got to change.
We need a place, a resource where both working and stay at home moms (married or single) can come together and share, commune, and find answers together. I have to yet to find that place, so maybe I should stop looking, and create one.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 12:17 PM 10 comments
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
1. not having to wake up at 5:45am: i am SO not a morning person, but have been forced to become one in order to earn a living. when i was in NYC i had to be at work at 7am, and would have to be up, out, and on the train before the sun even got up. it sucked getting up so early, but watching the sun break over the river almost made it worth it.
2. being able to watch the today show in its entirety: normally when i hear the Today Show theme music, i know i'm running late. everyday i need to be out of the house before 7am in order to drop the little man off at the sitter & get to work in time to make copies, write the agenda on the whiteboard, and listen to a little music before my students start pounding on my door. being on break allows me time to catch up on all the fashion mistakes, complicated recipes, and the weather reports in my neck of the woods.
3. spending time with my son: you are probably wondering why this is number 3 on the list. i could have easily made it #1, however, at some point, i want my son to take a nap because i can only watch so many episodes of Thomas & Friends, or read Hop on Pop, or play with the trains. i absolutely LOVE my son, but now i realize that i don't have to have him tied to my hip to be considered a good mom.
4. not having to change out of my PJs: i confess, i'm lazy...sometimes. i don't like to get dressed up to go into the world everyday. i like the softness and ease of my cotton basketball shorts, or ultra-soft capris. i'd rather be barefoot, in shorts, and a tank-top & lounging around my house than stuffed into a pair of slacks and uncomfortable shoes.
5. unlimited options: this is probably THE BEST thing about being a part-time stay at home mom. if i want to stay home all day & let the munchkin run around the house like a madman, cool. if i want to get us dressed and go to a museum, cool. if i want to walk to Borders and browse for books & let him run around in the kid's section, cool. every decision, every idea, every day trip is possible because i don't have to answer to anyone but myself (and bank of america). whatever we want to do, we can do because i'm the boss. the freedom of being able to plan, or not plan, your day according to YOUR needs is priceless.
when i'm working and my students are driving me crazy and it's march or april or november, i always try to keep my eye on the prize: break! although i can't afford to stay home full time, being able to have a few weeks or months off allows me to experience life on the other side of the mommy coin.
each time i'm off i cherish these days, love the freedom they offer, and long to have them again. hopefully one day my passion will allow me to sustain us financially, and i can officially make the switch from part-time to full-time stay at home mom. until then, i will enjoy my time off while it lasts.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 8:48 AM 5 comments
Monday, December 17, 2007
(some of the books i have yet to read, but have owned for quite some time. i will try to get through these over break.)
it's finally here: a break, an extended siesta from the day to day work and struggles of teaching. i've been looking forward to this time since september (lol), and it's FINALLY here!
for the first time since i've ever had a break from anything, i don't have a ticket in hand to go visit beloved. i'm broke & the weather sucks. hopefully we will conjure up a visit before i have to return back to work (crossing fingers). but the lack of travel plans feels very weird and foreign to me. i halfway don't know what to do with myself right now.
(veggie lasagna with spiniach, mushrooms, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, onions, and lots of cheese!)
yesterday, as i do lots of Sundays, i cooked. the stay at home mom in me likes to go on allrecipies.com to see what tasty things people are cooking up. yesterday i made a veggie lasagna & tricked my uber-picky two year old into eating more veggies than he's had in a long while. in an attempt to return to the healthy eating that i exhibited this past summer, i wanted to make something meatless, and although it had lots of cheese (yum!) it was all made of skim milk, and i used whole wheat pasta. it came out quite tasty. the little one ate ALL his and kept trying to dip his fork in my plate. mission accomplished.
one thing i will do with myself over the break is read & write. all the hype surrounding my one page a day goal evaporated. my child got sick, i got sick, and my ideas stopped flowing. i will pick up my story again and hopefully make up for the week i lost. i also picked up the new issue of Poets & Writers, and FINALLY was able to get my hands on Bodega Dreams. i'm excited to read it. will give you my review, not that it matters, when i'm done.
so, what are your plans for your winter break--no matter how long or short?
& what are you reading right now?
give a sista some recommendations.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 8:04 AM 4 comments
Sunday, December 09, 2007
right now beloved & i need your prayers, well-wishes, positive thoughts, whispers to the ears of God, lit candles, and any anything else you can muster.
we are not in a good place right now.
i'm not going to hash out all of our intimate details, because some things are private, but we have been arguing more than talking, and we haven't done either in almost a week. this life is extremely difficult. having to have arguments, as all couples do, via the phone, is completely exhausting and frustrating. having to trust and love across thousands of miles is a test that many fail. the separation, and financial burden, and just the lack of our freedom is taking its toll, BUT i know we are SO much stronger than this & one day will look back on these days and know that because we made it through this, we can make it through anything.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 11:45 AM 7 comments
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
crafting the great american novel is almost impossible, and i'm good at setting myself up for failure.
i've always been fairly good at writing. for years i was the woman who came off the bench to save my family's and friend's letters, and essays, and poems. putting words together never took much of a thought, but i was never really sure if they were any good.
although i consider myself the master of procrastination, i've decided to try to master something else entirely: actually writing. in the last post i mentioned that i carried a line in my head for a month, and just decided (or willed myself) to write it down.
on monday i began writing with little more than a rough sketch of my character, and a rickety plot idea. i'm a sucker for love stories, and happy endings, but i know that life isn't always so forgiving and kind. the story i'm writing is...both full of me, and not about me at all. it's complicated, and painful, and exceedingly optimistic.
i am only 3 pages deep, and i'm finding it hard to harness my thoughts into anything i can stand. i'm overly critical of my writing. i always hate it and think it's the worst thing since Eddie Murphy tried to sing. but i'm hopeful and trying REALLY hard not to psych myself out and lose focus. i've decided that in order to stay on track, i will write at least one page per day. at worst, i will have a lot of horribly written prose, and at best, i will have 365 pages of genius (ha!). either way, i'm going to keep plugging and putting fingers to keys.
[sidenote: to my fellow blogger authors (Geoffery? Torrance? Bless?)...know of any good sites and books that help when writing fiction? i'm in desperate need. holla.]
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 8:08 PM 5 comments
Monday, November 26, 2007
I am a master procrastinator.
I have been saying I am going to write for the longest time. I’ve walked around with the same line, and the same idea for a story in my head for at least a month. Even though I’ve had the itch the write, the need (or perhaps just the want) to write, I haven’t been writing.
Over the long weekend I planned on cracking open my laptop, starting a new, bright, blinding word document, and…writing. This weekend I read. I devoured the book Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc and marveled at just how much my life was both so similar and yet completely opposite of the lives of those in her book.
Her book is amazing. Although it is a work of non-fiction her words possess the beauty and realness of a novel. I found myself rooting, and hoping against hope that the people in the story came out ok. And then I got jealous.
Whenever I read a good book, I am envious of the author’s ability to connect word to meaning, and meaning to emotion. To weave stories and words and ideas into something so complete and so real, people are compelled to tell others.
I dream of being that dope one day.
I dream of writing words that touch people in a real and profound way. I dream of being more than the 13th man in the literary crowd, cheering others on, but really wanting to get in the game.
Tonight. I cracked open my laptop and wrote down that line I’ve been carrying in my head for the past month. I also began writing the story. It’s not astounding. I am not a fiction writer, but I am a person with stories--many, many stories just waiting to march from my head and onto the page.
At the end of it all (or maybe the beginning?), I hope to be able to share them with you, and welcome you into another section of my mind, my life. When it is all said and done, I hope you will enjoy what it is I have to offer. And if not…hey, at least I tried.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 11:53 PM 5 comments
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
sometimes I sit and wonder how my life ended up like THIS. this meaning a solo wife & mommy, trying desperately to hold it all together…on my own (sorta). I wonder what God is trying to teach me by going through all of this. sometimes I wonder why I wasn’t more dedicated to my writing when I was in the city of dreams. Why I let so many opportunities slip through my fingers. I wonder why I’m still not doing what my heart wants to do. I wonder will I ever be brave enough to just go for it.
I wonder and I wonder and I wonder some more.
When I’m alone with my thoughts I question how we get into the situations that are our lives. I try not to sit and feel sorry for myself, or wonder what could have been if I would have just turned left, and not right, because that’s useless. it’s all spilled milk and there’s no use in crying over it now, right?
When I get into a funk and start feeling all down for myself, usually, something or someone comes along and makes me smile. Lately, it has been my little one. He cracks me up with all of his 2-year-old bravado.
My baby is hilarious. He is starting to “read.” Every morning he runs to the car and starts calling out letters, while pointing to those on the back of the car (“E!” “A!”). Although he hasn’t quite matched up the right letter to the correct sound, it cracks me up. He is so happy to point & shout out letters, it makes me happy just to see him having so much fun. And that makes our commute just a bit more pleasant. I am no longer grumpy, or tired, or feeling down….
I am thankful
I am thankful to see the day break across the sky. Thankful I can pay for extra collect calls on holidays. Thankful for beloved’s sanity (and my own!). thankful for long weekends, and 44 hour rendezvous with my Mr., and cheesecake(!), and holding hands, and cooking dinner for my princes, and reading with my son, and everything I often overlook. I am thankful for the struggle and the lessons God is constantly teaching me, in spite of how much they sometimes hurt.
As the holiday season approaches…what are you guys MOST thankful for this year?
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 2:14 PM 4 comments
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
i have been in a constant state of motion for the past few weeks: rushing to complete a huge project for school, feverishly grading papers & getting them into the system, and traveling 2,578 miles and back to see beloved for 44 hours.
i am spent.
there are so many emotions and words and sounds caught up in my head right now, but i just can't get them out. perhaps if i rest, they will flow.
for now...i'm just saying hello, it's me.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 7:38 PM 3 comments
Friday, November 02, 2007
it's amazing how the universe works.
lately i've been feeling as if something has been missing. feeling like i'm spending my life working, and not enjoying my time on earth. in the last post i mentioned that i was searching for my passion, when all along, i already knew.
i love to write. i love to fling my words and thoughts into the atmosphere for people to digest, to enjoy, to discuss, to devour (nightly lol). it's something i've always been (fairly) good at. but yet i continued to hesitate. i continued to make excuses as to why i wasn't writing (no inspiration!), why i wasn't submitting work (lazy!), or why i wasn't working within the writing world (too hard to break into!). all along my issue wasn't about being unaware of my strengths & passion, but rather it has ALWAYS been about doubting myself and being afraid i'm not good enough.
slowly, i have been taking steps to sort of break free of my self-doubt. recently i've submitted to two mags, and just when the idea of (re)starting my own lit journal/press weighed heavily on my mind, last night a friend asked me if he should ressurrect a lit project we founded some time ago. kizmet.
immediately my mind began racing and i started talking a mile a minute about how we could/should/WILL do it. how, this time, we need to be super serious and business-minded and not just take our talent and skills for granted. after all, we have kids and families we need to feed. i think i overwhelmed him. matter of fact, i know i did. he told me my energy was like a bully LOL and we needed to slow down. but i'm so excited. the seed has defintely been planted.
the moment you make a conscious decision to find ways to be in pursuit of, to try to reach for what you want, to grab it with both hands and believe...the universe opens up and makes room for you.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 1:08 AM 7 comments
Monday, October 29, 2007
i am feeling restless.
this past weekend was a pretty lazy. thankfully, there wasn't much going on & i had a chance to rest and relax. but as usual, the weekend felt way too short. too rushed. and as Monday approached, i began to feel hurried and not quite ready to go back to work.
this feeling isn't unusual.
i've felt this work-day uneasiness my entire (working) life. although the jobs have changed, that feeling--the one that tells me i COULD be doing something else--overtakes me. and, as usual i began to wonder.
am i doing what i'm SUPPOSED to be doing?
or is there even something i'm SUPPOSED to do?
i've always been curious about those who are uber passionate about their work. i've wondered how they managed to figure out what makes them SO happy. i've tried to sit, and think, and figure out what would make me jump out of bed and run to work, but i can't quite put my finger on it. there are a slew of things i dig, but not many i truely LOVE.
i've been scouring the web (and my brain) for ways to help me solve this mystery. i know i dig writing. at one point in this blog's history, i posted daily, always wanting to get out a burning thought & discusses things with y'all. i love music. i'm a decent poet (i think). i dig being in the company of interesting people, but finding the passion that taps into all of the things i really can't live without...alludes me.
perhaps i'm just playing it safe.
afterall, i have a son to look after now. i can't be some irresponsible starving artist, hoping my art will pay off. that's selfish. i HAVE to be able to make money (and, i want to be comfortable), so being broke isn't an option. perhaps i'm just afraid to take risks? or maybe, i'm just afraid to fail?
because she has all the answers (lol) i turned to Oprah, her site as least. they have a few articles on "finding your passion." Cheryl Richardson, some life-coach guru, poses questions that will (supposedly) help you discover your passion. it's a fairly long list, but i'm going to try to anwer 5 of them here, and i invite you to do the same (i'm nosey!). so here goes...
the questions (see the full list, here)...
What interest, passion or desire are you most afraid of admitting to yourself and others?
i'm not really sure. i'm not really afraid of admitting any passions or desires. most of my friends know that i write, perhaps they don't know i've always wanted to perform (singing, acting) in some way.
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
hmmmm....be writer, open my own publishing company, and start a magazine. i've always loved writing, it seems SO damn difficult to break into to. i'd write books as well as write for magazines. i've always been a sucker for the glossies & would love to sit across the table interviewing folks.
What do you love about yourself?
my sense of humor. i'm sarcastic as hell, but i'm also pretty damn funny. i love how easy-going and flexible i am. i rarely loose my temper or get stressed out.
What would you do if money was not a concern in your life?
travel & write.
What one thing do you dream about doing that you've never told anyone?
hmmm....i'm not really sure. perhaps that i wanted to have my own magazine, but i think i told a few folks about that. i'll have to think about this one.
When you were young, what did you know you would do when you grew up?
when i was young, i had my heart (or my head, at least) set on being a pediatrician. how typical. i also wrote stories & tried to get my mom to enter them in contests.
How would you like the world to be?
i'd like the world to be fair & loving & accepting of people's differences and ideas. non-judgemental & safe.
What would you regret not having done if your life was ending?
traveling & publishing a book.
hmmm...i think i see a trend forming. how about you?
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 2:24 PM 8 comments
Monday, October 22, 2007
so, as i do every weekend, i peruse the NY Times & The LA Times for interesting articles about real estate, education, and an update on the homicide rate in LA County. for the record, the number of homicides in LA County is nearing 700 (692 & counting. see my previous post). insanity.
this week, while reading The Homicide Blog, i came across an interview with Kenny Mitchel, the founder of Gangster's Anonymous, a 12-step program for recovering Gangbangers. the interview & his premise that Gangbanging is a mental illness is very interesting. my first thought was to dismiss this idea. i'm sure many gang members suffer from a myriad of mental illnesses, including depression, but to call bangin ITSELF an illness...i'm not completely sold.
over these past two years as a teacher i noticed that many of my students are fascinated with or are satellite members of gangs. i didn't really understand their fascination with gang life, especially considering the devistating effects gangs have had on our communities. however, i realized that my students weren't alive to witness the constant shootings, and beef over colors, and strife of the 80s. the OGs that COULD speak on these issues are dead, in jail, or have just moved on to other things. so, these kids create their own idealized versions of the gangster lifestyle, based on what they THINK happened.
it makes sense.
when i sit to think about it, i realized that most of my students live in a single-parent household or come from the foster care system, and have a problematic view of families, or really have no "family" to speak of. this lack of family forces them to forge their own bonds--dysfunctional as they may be--out of others just like them. a clique, a set, and a gang is born out of fear, and perhaps longing for love.
but does this longing for a family qualify as a mental illness? will classifying banging as an illness help stop the spread of gangs?
gangs--bloods and crips, MS13, Folks, Disciples--are not just an urban problem anymore. i remember watching a documentary that focused on the spread of LA street gangs, specifically bloods and crips throughout Latin and Central America and even as far away as New Zealand (i.e. the Tongan Crip Gang). i was amazed to see just how far they have spread. this new breed of gangs is like wildfire, burning through the hearts and minds of our youth.
so, perhaps it is an illness.
it is as potent and as deadly as any contemporary disease. and so far...there is little to no end in sight.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 6:45 PM 5 comments
Sunday, October 21, 2007
i really tried to write
a poem in honor
of my little one's second birthday,
but nothing sounded right
at about 4am yesterday morning, i was awakened by words. this used to happen to me all the time back in the day, but not so much lately. i was unprepared. no pen, no paper...nothing. and so i tried to remember the words until i got to a pen & paper. but when i sat down to write...i had forgotten.
but poems can only do so much.
there are few words to describe my little one's two years of life and my 2-year stint as somebody's momma (i'm STILL amazed at THAT). you would think i'd have volumes of poems about being a mother, but rarely can i capture these types of moments to my liking.
there is a poem...sorta. perhaps i will edit, fix it up a bit, and post it at a later time, but perhaps not. what's important is that my baby is not really a baby anymore. he is 2! a little man who loves to dance, and color (on the kitchen floor!), and loves cars/trains/trucks, and who's swagger is just like his father's: bold, always smiling, stubborn, and intense.
i have learned so much about him (and myself) in SUCH a short amount time. i have learned to be patient(!!!). i realze now how similar i am to my own mother. how i spit out old sayings at the drop of a hat (child...don't you know fat meat is greasy!) how forgiving & flexible you MUST be in order to stay sane. and just how much you talk to God & ask Him to watch over your child when you can't be there.
despite it all...the difficulties of raising my son without his father's daily presence, the financial sacrifices, the late nights, the early mornings...i wouldn't tade it or him for ANYTHING in this world. my son is SO beautiful y'all, i can't even begin to describe it. all i pray for is that we have many more years together to share, grow, and laugh.
Happy Birthday, baby...mommy loves you! *kisses*
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 10:11 AM 3 comments
Friday, October 19, 2007
(pic taken by my camera phone. i took this after her encore. she came out to test out a song she wrote in the hotel. check out the hotel pad in her hand. an artist never stops. lovely!)
untitled (inspired by she)
last night a testimony of words
echoed through wombs
waves of blues met
earlobes hips and fingers
pursed as if
waiting for a savior
a philly jawn
honeyed and aged
rain in the dessert
weaving stories through time
i had the pleasure to see jill perform last night. WHEW LAWD! is all i can say about THAT. you. must. go. see. her. now.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 8:52 PM 4 comments
Monday, October 08, 2007
buried beneath a mound
of papyrus i breathe abstract
minds meld time & words
into a revolution of syntax
i break back pack minds
raw and heavy
even if heads ain't ready
i'm on time
full of grammar and rhymes steady
student of this game
my students name's may change
but i break levies and brains
be growing like weed smoke
permeating rough throats and sentences
wondering what use this writing shit is
life blood to silenced laughs
the cadence of a smile
before it breaks
face screwed like minds
birthing dope lines that reach
more than anything
we could imagine
before we saw it
felt it in our bones
the difference between what's known
and that foreign shit you only dream about
grabbin paper and
to write your story
late nights when
the lights won't burn
when darkeness inhabits everything
but your imagination
it is that
everything in between
didn't set out to write a poem...just wanted to say i've been busy teaching, but it be like that sometime. ~peace
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:44 PM 11 comments
Thursday, September 20, 2007
oh how i love black people, young people, and ALL people. how did you spend your Black Thursday?
the little one and i donned all black in solidarity with the cause. i made sure i bought him a black t-shirt last night, just so he could support the movement, even if he didn't understand what was going on. these boys could easily be my son, our son.
(the fliers posted in my classroom)
wednesday, i briefly mentioned the Jena 6 to my students. i was pleasantly surprised when many of them knew SOME, albeit wrong, information about the situation. when i realized HOW confused their information was, i set out to help them to understand the gravity of the situation and how it affects them. i put together a short powerpoint explaining the Jena 6, the significance of nooses & how lynching was used to terrorize blacks, and in particular black males.
they sat in awe.
i saw their questioning faces look up at me for answers. why would anybody HATE in such a way? kids are funny, full of the ideologies of their parents. last year i was frustrated when my attempt at a discussion about the juvenile justice system spiraled into a bunch of missed points. but today...the points were not missed.
during the course of our discussion some of my kids went from completely ignorant, to hating whitey, to hearing & knowing that ALL people (black or white) are not just one way. see, we have to be careful not to get our youth SO riled up they begin to carry around their own brand of hate. i made them remember those (non-minorities) that love and care for them, and then we were cool. we moved from helplessness to empowerment as we wrote letters to the Governor of Louisiana (i will be mailing them tomorrow).
i am so proud of everyone who sacrificed their time & energy to this cause. i am proud of my students and their young, precious, BRILLIANT minds.
today was a GREAT day
but we can't stop
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 7:17 PM 4 comments
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Warning: if you are offended by the n-word & expletives, this post ain't for you. proceed.
BLACK radio is doing it! there is an air of protest and youth-activism that we haven't seen in YEARS. If it weren't for black radio's on air personalities (Michael Baisden, Steve Harvey, and Tom Joyner to name a few) & black bloggers around the globe, many of us would be completely in the dark about the plight of the Jena 6.
I am an avid news/news magazine junkie and I have YET to see a story of substance regarding the Jena 6 on ANY mainstream news outlet. Over the weekend there was a BRIEF story (about 2 minutes) about the Jena 6 on MSNBC because one of the anchors was interviewing Al Sharpton, but other than that...silence.
I am at a loss at why the media chooses to BLACKout the racial issues that continue to plague America. The MSNBC anchor had the audacity to ask Rev. Sharpton if "deep seeded racism" still exists in "pockets" around the country. ummm, HELLO!? sometimes i wonder what planet most white people live on (anybody? explain?). racial inequities continue to exist in the media, in our education system, in our cities, and let's not get me started on the VAST inequalities in the justice system. over 40 years after we marched on Washington, Selma, and Watts...Marvin Gaye (RIP) is still wondering WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?
(phil spector's crazy ass & oj's dumb ass...a media match made in heaven)
The media's lack of coverage is troubling, especially in light of the stories they choose to cover. Michael Vick was all the rage for a while, now it's OJ's turn. *shakes head* I wish OJ would go into a hole and sit down somewhere. this fool, makes Chris Rock's "black people vs. niggas" routine all the more relevant. i'm with Chris...i love black people....but...
I HATE NIGGAS!
and OJ is the coon-ing-ist (yeah, i made that up) ass NIGGA on the block! Damn! even crazy ass Phill Spector, who blew this white chick's brains out, can't even take his shine. OJ has to be fuckin delusional. how a nigga gon' run his own "sting" operation without that shit going awry? how can he NOT realize white people (and now black people) HATE his guts and want to see him wearing prison blues? get ready Orenthal....you're about to be inmate #1234567, a ward of the State of Nevada. bend over, nigga.
i hope i don't sound crazy, i'm just angry. and black. i'm not paranoid either. hundreds of years of oppression have colored my stance on things. being a teacher, a facilitator of young black minds comes with a whole host of responsibilities. i feel as though it is my DUTY to shed light on the plight of our kids. these random news stories are merely distractions. we need to focus our attentions on the Jena 6. many of you probably won't make it to the rally on Thursday (i will be at work telling my students about this), BUT we have been asked (and i am asking you) to wear BLACK on Thursday to show your support for the Jena 6.
(i *heart* mos def & cornell west...preach brovas!)
read up on the plight of the Jena 6, write a check, tell somebody....DO SOMETHING...
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 8:05 PM 9 comments
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Black men are America's most likely crime victims. Even Latino men, who suffer high homicide rates, are much less likely than black men to be murdered. A black man is safer in prison today than living free in Los Angeles County.
THIS scares me.
According to the Los Angeles Time Homicide Report, a weekly tally of all the homicides in LA Country, young, black men are safer in prison than walking the streets of LA. I am shocked, appalled, and afraid, especially for my bothers & son.
where have i been?
i am an 80s baby. i grew up in the heart of South-Central LA in the 80s, lived through gang wars & colors, and I suppose, i figured everything had died down. nowadays, when my students come to me refusing to write in anything EXCEPT blue ink, spelling my name wrong ON PURPOSE because they refuse to put the "C and K" together, and claiming they are from "such and such set," I shake my head and can't understand. for some strange reason I thought gang bangin was dead, burried deep in our memories right next to Cube's jeri curl & Raiders jacket. But apparently it's still alive and well in the hearts and mind of our youths.
This year Six Hundred & Seven people have been murdered in Los Angeles County. 607. of those, 180 (or 17%) have been Black Males. An overwhelming majority of them (156) met their demise by the way of a gun.
I don't even know where we can begin to change this (suggestion?).
I'm sure these statistics aren't foreign to other major cities. where do we begin to pick of the pieces of our broken youth? In 2005-06 many news sources did several news reports on the state of Black men in America, but I have yet to read or hear anything about the brothas this year. Perhaps our men are out of style; overshadowed by celebrity gossip and political scandals. But the question remains...what can we do about it?
How do we begin saving ourselves, because it is OBVIOUS, no one else will do it for us. Where do we even begin?
Personally, I am starting with my son. My son has a living, breathing example of how bad decisions & choices can really cause setbacks in your life (his father). beloved and I talk, at length, about our hopes and dreams for our son and how no matter what, he will NOT make the same mistakes we've made.
my son will not be statistic
we can keep him safe
long enough to succeed
Since posting yesterday, the number has gone up to 620! this is damn ridiculous.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 5:52 PM 10 comments
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
(my classroom. pic taken by camera phone)
tomorrow is the first day of school. i have been preparing for/dreading this day all summer. don't get me wrong, i dig my job and my students, however, i am not as excited as last year. but on the other hand (and more positively so), i am not as nervous either. i know what to expect. i know the kids will come, full of energy. full of life and gatorade. hot cheetos and attitude. my students are comming, and i am not ready.
i am still new to this.
fresh in the teaching game, and i kind of feel like this is my first day of school all over again. i wonder, what will i wear? what will they think of me? how will they like the class (and me)? i know i am not supposed to care how the students view me. i am the teacher, after all. however, i don't want to merely be an authority figure who they look for every opportunity to buck. i'd rather be a mentor. a facilitator of words and sounds and thoughts that get sparked somewhere in the back of their mind. i want to be THAT teacher that movies and books are written about. THAT teacher that kids think about every time they are asked, "who inspired you to be....great?"
lofty goals, i know. ambitious. perhaps even foolish. but if we, teachers, enter our classrooms thinking that we can't save them all, or thinking some will ultimately fail...WE will fail.
my kids...yes, MY kids, not by birth but by birth right, are a blank canvas waiting to be filled. they need love and manners and slaps on the wrist. they need us, teacher-folk/parent-folk to stand in the gaps and help them dream.
a daunting task, but i'm ready.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 10:42 PM 4 comments
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
(attica correctional facility. this pic was taken with my phone. i wasn't sure if you are allowed to take pics of prisons, so i tried not to look so blatant & use my camera.)
and we're back. the little one and i are back from our week-long dance marathon with beloved. it was wonderful seeing him. he hasn't changed much in the nearly 2-months i've seen him, but it did look like his face has thinned a bit (but he still has the belly lol).
seeing him made me realize how MUCH i actually miss him. i know that sounds weird, but somehow i am able to sort of deal with the feelings of him not being here. don't get me wrong, i miss him dearly, but i've been able to cope, i suppose. but seeing him made me consider moving to cold-ass buffalo, even though when he first mentioned it i balked. i still doubt that we'd move upstate, but it has crossed my mind.
beloved is good though, tired of being there, but he is maintaining, which makes me feel a little more at ease. i'm also so worried, especially after we visit, that he will get extremely depressed, but he sounds good. while we were there i got a chance to meet the Imam, whom i bothered so many Saturday mornings to make sure beloved's name was on the program list. he seemed happy to meet us, and he was happy for beloved that we were there. everytime we visit, people seem SO surprised that we would go all that way. but i often ask them...what would YOU do? i love this man with the fullness of my heart, he loves me, we have a son...so it's imperative to keep our family together. i mean, what else is there to do?
work is starting soon, in a week to be exact. i am SO not ready to go back to work. i've been spoiled this whole summer. every time i'm off work--any job--i wish it could last longer. i wonder if that means i'm not passionate about what i do? or does it just mean i'd rather spend time watching my son grow up? i mean, i am the only documentarian to his growth. daddy can't be here, so it's up to me to record, and capture all of his important moments. who knows...i just wish summer lasted just a bit longer.
on our trip to see beloved, i got the chance to stop in New York City & Toronto. I liked Toronto a lot & wish i could have stayed a bit longer to see what it's all about. it's not especially far from beloved, so who knows...perhaps we can move there. i'd still get the big city feel, in a relatively safe place, with a diverse community (with lots of west indians). but i'd have to visit a lot more & really check the place out. for now...i will enjoy the pictures (and so will you!) lol. be blessed y'all.
(i saw that while walking around and just HAD to take a picture. *lowers head* i'm guilty of txting & driving)
(CN Tower--the tallest building in the world--Day & Night)
(downtown T dot O)
(posters of B'way plays...i STILL want to see Avenue Q)
(a lake at Central Park)
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 1:06 PM 8 comments
Friday, August 10, 2007
this week i've found myself moving through the streets of los angeles....i've never really stopped to look at my city in detail. found some interesting things, wrote a (bad) poem...thought i'd share them with you...
place color crime rate
blood blue in red
my neighborhoods dead
covered in ashes
weather be classic
times is passin'
south central cries foul
tell me how
one can afford to live
hood's for sale but
we only got blood to give
rites of passage
sometimes i ask when
brown gon' win
just one of these games
wondering how many
hit the grave before
they go to college
it's the way we get through
praying HE grew us up strong
not wanting to do wrong but
options be limited
time is closing in
cash & posers win
and i'm tired of the games
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 4:23 PM 3 comments
Friday, July 27, 2007
ok, so i have been incredibly lazy lately. blame it on the weather, the fact that i've been off since June, or whatever else the case may be, but day after day i find myself bored, sitting in front of the computer or tv or watching my son play in the park.
don't get me wrong, i LOVE the fact that i'm off for the summer. i wouldn't trade that for ANYTHING (well, except maybe a free house or a million bucks lol). i enjoy not having to get up early, fight traffic, and rush to work just to complain how much i need a vacation. so i'm cool with being off, but i wish i just had something exciting to do. i know, i know...you are probably thinking i should take my son to the zoo or museums, right? i've thought about it, but have yet to take him there. for one, he is young enough that he doesn't really care, and two, i'd rather not go alone. being that beloved is away & my friends with kids are back in NY, i just don't feel like going everywhere alone. it's hard. not only is he the only one i can talk to, i have to pack EVERYTHING under the sun so i can cover the "just in cases" that always come up. i have to entertain him, cater to him, and not really get that in return. it's not his fault..the munchkin is nearing 2, so his world revolves around him, but mommy needs some conversation, someone to talk to as well. and then there are the families...
every time i take my son out i always see lots of families. mothers AND fathers, and part of me is so jealous. i want that to be our family. beloved, the munchkin and i...just hanging out and exploring things together. one day, right? i just wish that day wasn't so far from now.
lately i have been spending my time focusing on eating better & fitting in some workouts (walking or dvds). so far my efforts are paying off. i've dropped 12lbs since July 6, so i'm happy about that. i guess i am being sort of productive, right?
today i order a few books (classroom management & teaching creative writing) and a pedometer on Amazon.com. now that it's approaching August, i have to get back into the swing of things and start planning for the fall & my new crop of students. i am a bit nervous about returning to work. last year was SO difficult, this year can only be better, but i'm still nervous. ahhh, i guess that feeling will wear off once i'm a vet, right?
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 12:33 PM 2 comments
Monday, July 16, 2007
just when i was running out of steam, wondering if it's worth it to come to this blog and write about nothing, about random things, about the struggle that is my life, i checked my TPW email and i was greeted with THE most beautiful email from a reader. this is why the old folks say, God works in mysterious ways. i received an email from a woman (hello, sis) whose nephew is locked up. apparently she has been reading this blog for a while and was afraid to write me, and i assume comment, because she is not "in love" with someone who is incarcerated, so she continued reading silently. thankfully, she pushed past her trepidation and sent me an email.
in this email i found...inspiration, validation, and love. i found someone who spoke to the critic inside me who constantly wonders if this blog/my words matters to anyone besides me. i literally starting to get all teary-eyed as i read it, because it was just BEYOND my comprehension that anyone, anywhere would find strength, comfort, or anything profound out of my thoughts. it made me think...made me wonder...how many people are searching for someone to spark a bit of love, some calm, ignite them with passion, grant them solace...and never find that because we are too afraid to share ourselves?
I absolutely love Mos Def, and this song, "Umi Says" is one of my all time favorites. I love the simplicity of his prose, wanting to live a good life, wishing freedom to the oppressed, begging us to share our light, ourselves with the world. no one can contribute what we can. this reader's email was a testament to the power of sharing a piece of yourself...you will get it back a million times over.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 6:28 PM 2 comments
i haven't watched a music video in THE longest time, but i love this one. i happened to be flipping through the channels and came across Common's video, "The People." AYO! he looks BEAUTIFUL! he shook e. badu & the knitted caps, put on some muscle and is looking mad fly! *whew* heard a few cuts from the album (Finding Forever ~ July 31st) & i can't wait!
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 12:47 AM 2 comments
Thursday, July 12, 2007
the prisoner's wife?
who really knows. we made it back safely after a week of visiting. it was WONDERFUL to see beloved, although the city we stayed in was a bore. he is almost in Canada, he's so far away from the city! but it was great seeing/touching/kissing/holding him. he is doing well. he looks older now. perhaps that is due to the weight he has gained, but he is still sexy!
i haven't posted in...forever. i don't know where my head has been. i haven't written any poems, any letters to beloved, any posts...in such a long time. the words all seem jumbled and foreign. beloved has been wondering when he will get a letter from me, but we talk on the phone almost daily, so i guess i just don't have anything to write. nothing EXCITING is going on here. i am off for the summer. the little one & i are just roaming around the neighborhood, taking trips to the park or bookstore, almost daily. the only new thing is that i've started a new eating plan. i'm giving the Fat Smash Diet a shot. so for the last 7 days i haven't eaten any meat, bread, or sugar. it's not so bad, but i do want a cheeseburger LOL. what can i say, i do like meat! lol
this post is going no where....beloved has an immigration hearing tomorrow, don't know why it's happening so soon, but i guess we will find something out. wish him luck! hopefully he won't be barred from this country for life...*sigh*
i am going to stop rambling now...i pray you all are well.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 11:12 AM 5 comments
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
way too much going on to really recount what i've been up to over the past few weeks. at present, i am feverishing grading a MOUND of papers (procrastination is a mutha!). it's almost midnight & grades are due tomorrow! tomorrow also brings the last day of school (ashe!). i am so happy this year is over & done with. i've learned a lot about myself. learned that i'm not the dopest teacher on the planet...yet...*smile*...i've got lots of growing to do, but i am much more patient than i once thought.
recently i stepped out of my comfort zone & began taking Capoeira--Afro-Brazilian martial arts. after my first class, every single inch of my body ached. i could barely walk, let alone attemp a one-leged push-up! but i kept going. today i am a lot less sore, a lot more confident in my Ginga & ready to learn even more. playing Capoeira makes me feel powerful. i feel like i have the spitit and the energy of the ancestors coursing through my limbs with each movement. perhaps i am overthinking it, but i like the way i feel when i am in the roda.
friday we are flying out to see beloved. i can't wait to see him & this belly he speaks of! it has been over 6 months since i looked him in his eyes and said hello. for a week we will dance, wine & dub on the visit floor...slow & savoring every inch of time.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 11:41 PM 8 comments
Thursday, May 31, 2007
yesterday joseph came
home draped in crimson
muslin smelling gentle
white lotus leaves
they call him hero
into the cadillac
hoist old glory
and play riffles
like trumpets in a parade
was it worth it?
was it worth it?
we all wonder angry
he came home
fireworks paint the sky
a ghastly purple
Mosul erupts a cacophony
of women and wailing
babies struck down
without uttering a sound
seduced by the blood
beneath our feet
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:38 PM 7 comments
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
ok, so i've found a glitch in the matrix...you won't be able to see the full layout if you are accessing the web from places that block certain sites (like my job)! that is annoying. i will have to find a new hosting site for the images...but i'll be up and running room. i was up till like 1am working on this site! it WILL work! lol.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 8:30 AM 4 comments
so, i was feeling restless & wanted a change.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 12:04 AM 1 comments
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
(one of the walls in my classroom)
there are 17 days left in the school year (!!!). i have been counting down since day 34. each day my students are itching for me to change the amount of days, and to be honest, so am i.
with each day that falls away from the calendar, i am one step closer to summer. one step closer to hanging out w/ my son. one step closer to seeing (hugging.kissing.holding beloved!), and one step closer to NOT having to wake up at 5:45am.
i'm SO tired
i'm exhausted. teaching has been the most difficult experience of my life. this year has felt like THE longest year of my life. these kids--my kids--ask (demand) for every ounce of energy i have. i leave here feeling tired, drained, but not completely "out of it." my coworker next door says that your first year is all about endurance & survival...and he continues to say that "you just have to think the kids are funny." when he first said that, i thought he was loosing his mind. afterall, he has been teaching for quite awhile (and had just got several teeth knocked out playing softball--crazy!), so i attributed it to burn-out. but he has a point. if i couldn't sit back and laugh at all of my kid's quirks (and manish ways), i'd drive myself crazy.
this year i strived to teach my kids how to be better writers & open them up to new things. i'm not sure how much i've succeeded, but i know where I went wrong, and where i can improve for next year. being a reflective teacher is key to being a successful teacher.
i have come to the realization that i don't have ANY control over what happens to my students at home, on the schoolyard, or in other classes. all i can control is what happenes in room 234. i want my room to be a shelter, a safe space where they allow themselves to take risks, to learn, and to love learning.
i haven't quite gotten there yet, but soon come.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 2:54 PM 4 comments
Friday, May 25, 2007
I rarely check my email anymore, but recently I received a note from a woman whose boyfriend is locked up (hello, if you’re reading). She wanted some advice. I wondered what profound bit of information I could offer to comfort and guide her? All of my years of education, and nearly two years of dealing with THIS, led me to one clichéd phrase: take it one day at a time.
Since this journey (and blog) began I have been so full of colliding emotions: doubt, love, blame, dedication, sadness, joy…each fighting for a seat on my train of thought. I have made it through all of this by sheer divine force. It is a wonder I haven’t gone (completely) crazy yet, but we women aren’t afforded the luxury to lose our minds, permanently.
I have my moments, fits of crying—always hushed—where I feel I can’t go on like this, trapped by the distance and loneness. But the alternative…isn’t even in question.
This weekend was the first time beloved and I actually spoke the gravity of the years we are facing out loud to each other.
Ten summers will pass before he is home
Our son will be just about to turn 13
I will be pushing 38
And the world
Will have changed so much
Everyday I question what I/he/we will look like in 10 years. Ten years from now, what will “us” even feel like?
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 1:41 PM 9 comments
Thursday, May 24, 2007
my son is determined
to break his arm
standing atop our
leather ottoman proud
& grinning as if
he just conqured
last week he fell
and wailed until
salt caked his lashes
hysterical he was
comforted with kisses
i ask my mother
how to keep him
off the furniture
"a boy" she says
"what do you expect?"
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 7:27 PM 8 comments
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 8:41 AM 6 comments
Sunday, May 20, 2007
i am a sucker for love stories
stories that speak
to every inch of
i and i
on wednesday, i perused
the bookstore searching
for something to inspire
a depressed student
instead i stumbed upon
Kwame Dawes' magnificant pen
you see, i am drawn
to love stories
set afire in the belly
of the caribbean
full up wit history
and black bodies lovin
themselves and tryin
to make it
in spite of
i stayed up till 4am
wrapped up in
Keshia and Kofi's complications
their arguments, their lovemaking
beloved was here to
[hello all. no, this is not a commercial lol...it's just an offering inspired by a great book. buy it! Akashic Books ]
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 6:30 PM 7 comments
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
17 months training
legs arms and toes
exploring every inch
fear lives not
in his heart
when i see him
brown legs jumpping
from tables or chairs
or jungle-gyms or stairs
straining to reach
i wonder when
he will be tamed
reckless spirit lost
amid mommy's worring words
17 months training
legs arms and toes
exploring every inch
fear lives not
in his heart
when i see him
brown legs jumpping
from tables or chairs
or jungle-gyms or stairs
straining to reach
i wonder when
he will be tamed
reckless spirit lost
amid mommy's worring words
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 7:57 PM 7 comments
Saturday, March 31, 2007
beloved's voice came
clear cross rivers
and cities and lakes
and projects and concrete
and razor wire
slick and soft like
he was tryin to
win me over
i was open
as if it were my last meal
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 11:07 PM 8 comments