Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Weekend Vibe

It's the last day of January. We might as well boogie and be glad it's over with.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Michael Steele is the First Black RNC Chairman

I would like to congratulate Michael Steele on this historic accomplishment. Before I get too excited for the brother I need to know if the other members of the party got permission from Rush Limbaugh before making this decision. The way things have been going lately, if he starts going off about this pick on Monday the party will get together and take another vote to put someone else in this spot. It's going to be very interesting to see how things go as Mr. Steele tries to open the party up to other people. I just hope no one says anything too crazy or insensitive about a man that stuck with his party even when they didn't seem to care about including his own people in the discussion. That has to make him a true believer right? I sure hope Mr. Limbaugh finds it in his heart to allow Michael Steele to lead for whatever length of time it takes to groom Sarah Palin to become the face of the party.

Peace to Mr. Cerasoli

I think Robert Cerasoli had the best intentions when he took the job of Inspector General. I am sorry to see that he had to step down. I think once everyone really got a chance to know him outside of being pulled in every direction between the mayor’s office, the city council and the media they would have learned that he actually had no agenda at all besides trying to help the citizens do the right thing for themselves. I’m sorry he wasn’t feeling well enough to stick around. I hope the next inspector applies the same outlook that Mr. Cerasoli expressed here and here. I also hope that everyone would just be quiet, let the new person do their job and stop stirring up emotions on either side. The end result should be about the numbers and making sure our tax dollars aren’t being wasted. Let’s get the information out there and then we can form opinions after that. No one that I know is living that great in this city to dismiss what the inspector general can provide. We should be welcoming someone to take a look at things. I mean, all you have to do is ride around the city and know that something isn’t right. It may not be criminal or underhanded but even the things with good intentions haven’t worked out the right way. I realize some people have a vested interest in keeping things the same but personally I am tired of feeling like my local government can’t do the right thing on my behalf. I wish Mr. Cerasoli well with his health issues and hope we find someone with the same good intentions.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blogging While Medicated

I have been under the weather this week because my body and Mother Nature can’t get in tune. There’s a virus going around and it found its way to me. I left work today and burned one of my 20 weeks of sick time. I never take off from work. There are some new strains of virus out here. It’s like one person gets sick and 10,000 other people get it. I have to get right because I don’t want to be the sickly looking dude on the Beyond Jena Panel Saturday morning.

I just got through watching Governor Blagojevich’s press conference. That guy is entertaining. If he gets a radio show I am listening. He’s a little crazy but it all appears to be so natural that you start liking the guy. I wonder what’s worse, getting impeached by a vote of 59-0 or having the entire state senate stand up and cheer after the vote was announced. The governor was standing outside listing all his accomplishments as governor to reporters. I was thinking if he could do all of that and still be improper than he can run for office here. At least he did some things for the citizens and himself. Our leaders get in trouble and can never rattle off that many good things.

I went to a parental involvement meeting down at the school yesterday. There were thirty parents there and only four men. Brothers, we can have a black president, governor, mayor and the entire city council can look like Wesley Snipes. It won’t mean anything unless you get involved with your own kids and family.

I understand Republicans have basic principles and that the new administration wants an end to old politics. Everybody’s trying to pass this stimulus bill and judging by the numerous reports of layoffs everyday they need to do something soon. I just want to tell all the republican senators and congressmen and women that if you guys are so weak that Rush Limbaugh actually scores a personal triumph and gets any official meeting with someone in government about the stimulus, none of you should get re-elected. I know you need votes and campaign funds but that should be embarrassing.

No matter how much money we give the banks and the auto industry the stock market is still dropping and people are still being laid off. When you factor in the fact that President Obama ended up hiring some of the same people who caused the problem and put them in charge of fixing it, isn’t it time for everybody to just admit that no one knows what to do about the situation? When are we going to call the Wal Mart people up and put them in charge?

Remember when everybody thought that Richards and Metro Disposable were over billing the city for sanitation? There was almost a riot about wasting money on sanitation. Remember all those blogs that listed how much money Richards and Metro had contributed to certain members of the city council? Remember when the report surfaced that these two companies were actually under billing the city and it appeared that SDT, the company that takes care of downtown and French Quarter was actually over billing the city? How do I explain to all my angry black friends the reasoning behind not only no one being that upset about SDT’s over billing but we are about to go to court to force the mayor to keep paying them every dime? People have been coming to the French Quarter for decades and it smelled like vomit and old garbage. Tourism has been down lately so maybe we should let Bourbon St. go back to smelling bad. I don’t care as long as no one tries to take away my big black garbage can provided by Metro that seals in all smell between pickup days.

At the same time, it’s a shock to the system to hear Councilwoman Stacy Head on the Home Team morning show taking questions from citizens and engaging them. When she first did it I thought she was just going to do it one time to take the heat off the people thinking she was a racist. She’s been on a few times now and she’s not patronizing at all. I respect her for that. Now it’s time for the two ladies who run the area I live in to come on and take some questions.

I’m taking another happy pill and I’m going back to sleep.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Can't Nobody Ruin My Day

If you want to see joy and hope in a person talk to your neighbor who just had his first daughter.

If you want to be reminded of what your role is in everything help a five year old read a book or have a conversation with a three year old about how every time she goes to sleep she gets bigger!

If you need to be reminded that things are possible, talk to a brother older than you that is doing great things in spite of coming from rough circumstances.

If you just want to feel normal call your boy and let him crack a joke about something really stupid all in the middle of having a serious conversation about life.

Living in the city is a delicate balance of joy and pain. It’s a dance between hope and despair. You have to find signs of the good things in order to deal with the bad or you will drive yourself crazy. I am sorry but I can't let the actions of a few knuckleheads define me and my whole community. I have put too much work in to get back to this point to be mad all the time especially when I am doing the right thing. You shouldn't either if the right things apply to you.

Now, I am going drink this big cup of coffee, run some reports, chat with my friends, and continue the Jay Electronica movement. I hope you all have a good day because I am.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What Else Can I Say About This Crime Thing

Crime is the big issue in the city right now. It always is actually. All the local bloggers are talking about it. I was just sitting here reading some of them and couldn't think of one new opinion about the topic. This topic is an old issue for me. I have lived it forever and wrote about it since I discovered that I knew how. I decided to search my own page for references to crime and murder. I don't want to be out of the local blogger loop on this so I thought I would go a little retro and present.

This link

and this one

and this one

and this one.

This one was ten days before the hurricane and might be the best one of all.

This one is my favorite.

Just for an added bonus, here's a short one before Hurricane Katrina in April 2005 back when I was a blogger puppy trying to learn how to express myself.

I don't see myself as some kind of hood messenger or anything. I come in contact with black people all day and 90% of them have no idea I do this. I also don't get paid for anyone clicking on these old links. All I have invested is concern for my city and my community, a little bit of ability to explain what's going on and absolutely no idea how to fix it besides doing the right thing myself and making sure none of my people contribute to the problem. If correspondence and statistics are true, there are more people reading what I have to say now. Someone might find this and use it to help them understand some things that are not always on the news to work towards an idea that might change it. I might have something else to say later on. Right now I think I have said everything that one brother can say.

Goodbye For Now Sweet Pigskin

This was the first weekend since late August without a football game. Every year I exercise my right as an American to not engage in any non emergency or non parental activity until after football season is over. I am sure it’s not healthy to watch at least six college football games every Saturday but I don’t know how to stop. It takes lots of dedication to the sport to shut down every weekend for four months in a row. I have gotten better as I have gotten older. I used to watch every football related show on television for seven days a week during the season. Now I can survive by only watching half of them. The first weekend without football is a withdrawal period. The next week is Super Bowl week and I don’t follow any of that until the kickoff of the game because my home team is one of five teams never to play in the game and every year the number gets less. That’s a very deflating feeling.
I guess I have to go back to doing stuff like getting dressed or doing yard work on the weekends. I went in the back yard today to access the landscaping needs that I have been neglecting. Since Katrina there have been many strange looking bugs flying around New Orleans that I can’t identify. There’s also a bunch of strange looking plants and weeds that sprout up when you don’t cut the grass for awhile. I have to break out the boots because I am scared to touch some of them. I also have to start returning phone calls on the weekend that don’t pertain to the games and also start paying attention to people again without yelling “watch out for the blitz!” in the middle of the conversation. The good part about football season ending is that I always lose a few extra pounds because I am a lot more active. Of course, I just gain it all back when the season starts but I consider that balance. At least I can take part in some fun weekend activities before next season and the Saints magical Super Bowl run. I can see it now. 2009 is our year. I can’t wait for training camp to start. When is the draft? September can’t get here fast enough.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sitting On My Porch Part Twenty One

It’s been a week full of hope and pride as well as a week full of aggravation and frustration. I don’t know what happen to these young cats when the clock struck twelve on New Years but we need to figure it out. Maybe there’s something in that baby’s diaper that they drop on top of Jax Brewery for the New Year. We got to do better because tension is thick and it’s not even hot outside yet.

For years black people have made fun of parents that gave their children names that we didn’t think would help them get a job interview like Taquawandana and Alterdarius. Now that mainstream America has an elected a man named Barack Obama anything goes. I don’t have a son so I am depending on one of my brothers to name their son Kareem Pharaoh Bamboola Harris. With a name like that he may get invited to join Skull and Bones in 25 years.

Have you ever had a person say something to you so disappointing you went from being happy to see them to never wanting to again in seconds? My favorite instance of this is when I ran into my friend Stacey from high school and the first words out of her mouth were “Damn Cliff! What you been eating? Everything?” …….I have not seen her since.

You what I can’t stand? I can’t stand people who rhyme their New Year’s resolution with the sound of the year. You know “Doing fine in 2009” or “Everything’s divine in 2009”. You can’t get any cornier than that.

I totally support the move to block multi family developments in New Orleans East. I’m just sitting here thinking about our low insurance rates, world class dining, smoothly paved roads, state of the art schools and medical facilities, great family recreation, and last but not least our great shopping areas and entertainment venues. Why would we want to share this paradise with renters? How did people know about our great way of living anyway with our sound wall protecting us from the noise of the interstate? We have to protect our high quality of life.

The country may be in a recession but I know one group who is not hurting at all. Who ever is making those bootleg President Obama t-shirts and paintings that people are selling in the hood is making so much money they can’t count it fast enough. The one hazard when buying anything bootleg is that sometimes things are not what they seem. I saw a guy selling President Obama t-shirts with Michael Evans from Good Times on the front. I know Mike was the smartest kid in the projects but I don’t remember the episode when he made it to the White House.

Next Saturday is the Beyond Jena forum at Xavier. There are a handful of tickets left. I just want to tell all the people who told me they registered when I sent them the link that you better show up. Mr. Everson deserves a good turnout. Because of that I will spend the next week blogging about absolutely nothing related to local issues, politics, crime or anything of that nature. I’m getting all my fresh material together for the public. In the meantime I will waste some time and try to expose folks to the hip hop talents of Mr. Jay Electronica. I had no idea the brother was from New Orleans. I have checked out a few songs and I think he’s going to be next cat from New Orleans to make it big. That will be cool since he’s sort of the opposite of Lil Wayne. This is an old song I am posting but since I just heard it, it still feels new to me. Guys like this always seem to have to leave New Orleans to make it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Maybe This Is The Final Straw

By all accounts Wendy Byrne was a great person. Her life was taking after an armed robbery went bad. Just like the stories earlier this month, the community should feel down when things like this happen. The beginning of the year has been a rough one for stories like this. The assailants were three 15 year old boys. They will be tried in court as adults. The two boys that are already in custody were turned in by their mothers after seeing their sketches on TV. Although people are dogging the mothers on messages boards and comments(That's why there are no links on this post.), maybe those ladies are just tired of the violence and decided to do the right thing by making their sons accountable. The person that gave the description of the teenagers to the officers had to be scared but maybe they wanted justice and decided to overcome the fear and talk anyway. Our police chief Warren Riley said the kids should never be allowed to walk the streets again after killing an innocent woman. Maybe he’s finally had it with all the violence and is going to speak out like this all the time. The district attorney had a press conference earlier to keep everyone updated about the status of the case just to ensure the public that justice will be served. Maybe dangerous criminals won’t get out after 60 days because the cases against them weren’t together. Maybe Ms. Byrne’s unfortunate passing and the reaction to it will encourage every witness, parents, the police chief, the district attorney and the press to react to every case like this all year long no matter who the victim is so we won’t have to read about 200 more murders. I’m just trying to keep this hope thing going surrounded by all this drama.

Rest in peace Ms. Byrne and all the other victims.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Now The Fun Part Starts

All of the pageantry and speeches are done. The weight of the world is on Barack Obama’s shoulders and now we get to see who among the mass of support is going to stay engaged and pay attention to what’s going on. People in my generation can be real trendy. It’s hard to tell exactly what our agenda is sometimes as even as I had people sending me email after email with stories about Barack Obama’s campaign, most of those same folks couldn’t tell me one thing going on in their own district and city. I hope all those folks realize that now is the time to be even more diligent and engaged than you were during the campaign. Everyone got mad at Tavis Smiley but he was right. If you can’t apply leadership to your own agenda then it’s worthless. That applies to Americans of any race, class, or location. When President Obama comes to your area you better be ready with ideas you want to do and how much it’s going to take to pay for them. As great of a leader he may possibly be, he still can’t sit in on your city council, school board meetings or at your house with your kids. We have to do all the ground work, the volunteering and the lifestyle changes ourselves. If there are any local officials in place that want to stop that kind of progress then get rid of them too. If we do all of that then maybe he can sign a bill to send us the funds to move forward.

The other thing people must do is very important. Please do not let your love and support for him lead you to convince yourself that everything he does is right. If you do, it may make you and him feel good about your ideals but in the end people are going to pay for it. I think if you ask a George Bush supporter who is willing to be honest they will tell you that they could have pulled him back in on certain issues before things spiraled out of control. They got too concerned with validating the principle and they forgot to think objectively. Now they are struggling too. That’s why his approval rating was so low. Many of those people were mad at themselves for not speaking out. It’s easy for a person to dismiss his enemy’s critique. It’s another thing for the people that love you to say you are screwing up. That forces you to look at yourself harder. There may be a decision or two that is not so good and you have to tell the truth and call him out on it. If we don’t call him out then who will? Everyone else will just sit there and watch him fail. It’s not hate if you challenge him. That’s what you are supposed to do to people you want to see succeed. That's why his administration has so many different kinds of people in it. He doesn't need you to kiss up to him. He needs you to speak openly and honestly even if you think he's wrong. That’s how I am going to approach this new thing. Let’s actually do something so in four years we can say things are better because of this moment.

There is Still Time to Register

You have four days left to register for the Beyond Jena Forum and watch the look on my face as I try to figure out how I am on a panel with other people from New Orleans and managed to be the only one with an accent this thick. Who can pass up a chance at that?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Bush Years Got A Jazz Funeral

If you click this link you will see the best celebration of the end to George Bush's time in office.

I have to start hanging out more in the hood again so I can catch wind of stuff like this. I would have rather watch the oath of office out there in the cold with them than with some of my co-workers and their attitudes (Louisiana is a red state for real.) I guess the people didn't dig his response to Katrina so much after all. I wonder if they brought the casket to Mt. Olivet Cemetery.
I am not going all soft on everybody or anything like that but Cliff has a sensitive side. I have to admit, seeing this man loving his wife and dancing with her like this in front of the entire world probably wiped out 20% of the damage Maury Povich, Jerry Springer and the ten o'clock news has done to the black male image. Now we just have to let the world know there are millions of us out here. Today did not suck.

This Moment Felt Better Than I Thought It Would

Monday, January 19, 2009

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent

Barack is going to get his spotlight on Tuesday. Today let us take a moment to remember the man that paid the ultimate price for a day like tomorrow. I can not put it into words what he must have felt so I will let him do it himself. This clip explains it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Life of A Saints Fan

I can't believe the Arizona Cardinals made the Superbowl before the New Orleans Saints.

A Moment of Pride

I will admit that during the presidential campaign I was never overly excited about Barack Obama. I was too aggravated about things going on around my city to really let go of my anger to let the hope movement affect me. Regardless of all of that, I never thought I would see a man that looks like me being elected president and running my country. There’s no way I can not get caught up in watching him take that oath. I am going to work Tuesday but as soon as he steps forward to put his hand on the bible everything is going to stop and I will take that moment in and try not to cry. Since Monday is MLK Day and Tuesday is the inauguration, I’m just going to take this time to be black, proud, and optimistic about what the future could be for America. I think enough dues were paid for everybody to let go and bask in the moment.

There are only two things that you can’t do. The first thing is you can’t get fired from your job trying to take off from work to watch the inauguration. The man has a hard enough task as it is without you adding to the unemployment rate just to watch the speech. Trust me, it’s going to be replayed all day so if you don’t have the time off then don’t do anything crazy.

The other thing is that while he’s speaking you can’t forget the Emancipation Proclamation, the March on Washington, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Think about all the people who sat at lunch counters, marched, and gave their lives just to have a chance to see things like the inauguration. You have to remember that because acknowledging your foundation is how you get the strength to do the things you need to do because Wednesday morning President Obama has the keys to the house and that’s a whole different ballgame. Tuesday is just the beginning and you have to be even more engaged than you were during the campaign.

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's almost that time of year. Learn the culture.

My Personal Apology to Mychal Bell

I would like to apologize to Mychal Bell for wearing black clothes on the day of the Jena 6 rally. I’m not sorry for highlighting the unfairness of justice that was happening in the Jena case. I am sorry for how everyone abandoned the kids involved. See, around the time of the rally I was actually thinking that the Jena story would be a catalyst to spur on a broader look at social injustice and start a discussion about how to improve the situation for people on a broader scale using a grass roots movement that would eventually spread to the mainstream media. That’s what happened in Jena. Who could have known that just four months later Barack Obama would win the Iowa Caucus and black people all over America would forget about you and blindly embrace the same structure they were getting poised to challenge. Everybody started wearing their “Change” t-shirts and chanting Yes We Can! and you had to fend for yourself under all that pressure. The pressure must have been way too heavy because you tried to commit suicide to escape from it.

I have been checking the black blogosphere and visiting the same sites that posted stories about you until the rally. I have seen nothing about the need to send someone to down there to help you deal with all the pressure or to get you some counseling because you were getting in trouble before the Jena incident so it’s obvious you had some other issues. It’s our fault Mychal because we still think it’s 1965 and things are over once we get the symbolic victory. The only saving grace to me is that you didn’t deserve to be in jail as long as you were so it’s good we came down there in that aspect. It’s also a good thing that the presidential campaign was in 2008 instead of 2007 because you would still be in there now and the famous folks that spoke out on your behalf would have been too caught up in the election to talk about it. I hope you can forgive our lack of following through to the end.


My friend Lawanda really wants me to call out Michael Baisden for making himself famous at your expense but since we don't listen everyday we can't say you didn't mention it. Although if you had mentioned his personal problems as much as his legal ones when it was popular you could turn your show on at any moment and hear his name.

Sometimes Things Don't Make Sense in a Good Way

How did all these people make it off of that plane alive? That is truly unbelievable. That pilot is a real life Ted Striker.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I Just Can't Figure It Out

On a personal level I am not experiencing any real problems at the moment that I can speak of. On a broader scale I am pretty melancholy. I don’t pretend to be anything but some random. I am just one small voice in a very large scheme of things. I try not to be overly pessimistic because like I said before, you have to have some hope to keep going. I'm not writing this for anyone or to inspire anything. I just have to get it off my chest.

I ride through my city and look at the buildings leaning and the blocks full of abandoned homes. The last two weeks I have saw the faces of two babies murdered by their fathers and one elderly woman killed by her son. I read a piece by Jarvis DeBerry that made me realize that I and almost every black person I know has become desensitized to the death of young black men as long as someone doesn’t tell us he was not a thug and I am trying to deal with that revelation and change it. If someone shot me would the news take the time to let the public know that I wasn’t a dealer on the corner and if they didn’t how empty that would make my parents feel to know the taking of their son’s life was placed behind the Winn Dixie sales paper in the metro section. Someone I know had her rear windshield shot out by a stray bullet on her lunch break. I could tell a few more strories but people would think I am lying for dramatic effect. I have this sad ritual I do whenever things feel like they are getting to rough in New Orleans. I browse news sites from other cities just to make sure it’s not some defective strain in our DNA that makes us overly crazy. Every time I do that I find stories from other cities that double the despair I already have from my local shit.

There is rioting in the city of Oakland because the police killed a young man. The same thing happened here only everyone is too beat down emotionally to get that angry anymore. I saw two police officers get physical with a pregnant woman that lives across the street from my daughter's school. They put her handcuffs behind her back when she wouldn't calm down after fussing with her boyfriend. I would play the race card except that the two officers were black and one of them was a woman. I also know two mothers who can no longer send their kids to public school because the other black kids want to harm them for not being crazy like they are. I know another one that has to meet her son at the school bus pickup spot to keep him from getting ambushed. I asked her why would all those kids want to her son and her response was “Cliff, I don’t know. They all say he thinks he’s too much.” You can’t even be a confident and respectful kid in the hood anymore.

Maybe this is just me being low in spirit at the moment but we have this inauguration next Tuesday and there will be millions of black people with tears in their eyes. Who knows, I may have them to that day. Up until that day and every day after I am going to be wondering why I don’t see evidence of this new found hope in the folks that are suffering. It seems to me like the people who are inspired do bigger things by Barack Obama were already on the right track anyway. There are some sad things happening and I don’t think the affected are in any condition to just get motivated by a speech and a slogan on a t-shirt. We either have to lock them up to protect everyone else, take all the babies away from them or get some serious policy changes to get the funding to help them out. It’s too bad we made it okay that no one asked candidate Obama about these kinds of policies when he was running so we wouldn’t scare some white voters.

I wish I had the tunnel vision it takes to judge the condition of the world on my own personal condition or just rich and successful black people. I would go home and watch my 55 inch flat screen, watch The Housewives of Atlanta, sip on a glass of cognac and call the bank to hear that after paying all the bills that were do there is still a positive balance. If I could block the reality out like that I would be good; but I am trying to always improve myself as a man. Yesterday someone shot a beautiful teenage girl and no one knows why. If the size of my television or debating how the Obama’s should decorate the White House helps me get over that soon then I have not progressed as far as I think. I might as well spend the money I was saving to buy books for my daughter at the strip club tonight. I can't do that. You have to keep trying to get things right because when we figure it out life is going to be so damn sweet! I guess I will try again next week.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's A New Week and Another Chance

Last week was not the way I wanted the first week of the New Year to be. I was not a happy guy. I won’t get into it again but if there was anyone who tried to have a conversation with me about something and I broke into a speech about morality and fatherhood I apologize if I rambled on and on. I couldn’t help it.

My second week was about to get off to a bad start too as I received three phone calls from people I care about with issues I couldn’t help them with. Things are rough in the city. I also somehow acquired a computer virus on my personal computer that was so mean and vicious that I am certain whoever wrote the code for it has to be living in his mother’s basement and has never had a girlfriend. Only a man that frustrated could think of something like that.

I’m like an amateur self help guru since Katrina. The best way to deal with a bunch of negative news is to combat that with something positive because negative news tends to spiral out of control if you can't mix in a reason to keep pushing forward. You also need something that makes you feel good without any effort. Let’s get to the positive stories first. Lil Wayne gave 200,000 dollars to help rebuild a park in his old neighborhood. I am going to scratch him off of the things I would like to see this year. I didn’t think I would be checking off Wayne coming back this early. I was actually hoping for the Buffie The Body email first. If I get that email tomorrow this week is officially off the chain!

The other positive story is that after three and a half years of wanting to kick the president’s ass for taking his time about rescuing my people from a drowning city, it turns out that I was wrong and the response was not slow after all! I know you are waiting on the positive spin on that and here it is………The fact that he can even find the slightest amount of balls to stand up there and say those words speaks to the bravery and diligence of those folks from the Coast Guard and Navy that kicked ass and was rescuing people while Kathleen Blanco was still deciding what shirt to wear on television. If our city leaders weren’t all being controlled by zombies there would have been a parade in their honor and unlimited credit to any gentleman’s club they wanted to go to within city limits. They earned it because things would have been much more horrible if it weren’t for them.

See, things aren’t that bad. Lil Wayne helped the kids, George Bush isn’t incompetent, and we even have a black senator…I think, maybe. Who knows what’s going on with that mess. At least it’s not Louisiana which is another positive. If none of that helps you feel any better, you need to do what I did today. Find your favorite performance including the awesome voice of Marsha Ambrosius and listen to it over and over. If her voice doesn’t give you at least a few minutes of good vibes then you might need medication.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Struggling to Find My Fault in All This Drama

The last week of conversations and soul searching have caused me to have a self revelation and I think it’s a topic the black community needs to have with itself if we are every going to change some of the issues we have with violence and crime in the community. I’m probably going to piss some people off and be labeled a hater. I don’t care because what I am about to say is the truth. If two year olds are going to get murdered for child support then I have no concerns about pissing people off anymore. I know there are many men who feel like I do so I will write this for them.

Thursday there was an editorial letter in the news paper by Minister Willie Muhammad of The Nation of Islam titled “Black men must lead the way to end violence”. I agreed with everything he said in that letter 100% but there was a paragraph that stuck with me. He said, “It is time for the clergy, social groups, community activists, civil rights groups, and everyday citizens to come together for the sole purpose of helping to reduce this pattern of senseless violence.” He’s right but the problem is that the people in these groups are not making the decisions that have us in this situation. It’s time to address the black community’s love affair with the thug mentality and figure out why those guys get the same respect as responsible men.

All my life I have had to work against the image of the ignorant thug as an example of masculinity. I pride myself on being a respectable man and a good father. Outside of a schoolyard fight I have never harmed another black man. There is not one woman anywhere looking for me to claim my child or telling stories about how I harmed or disrespected her. Anything I have was earned without any shortcuts. Frankly, if every black man conducted themselves like I do there would be no crime in the community. Yet, in my lifetime living in this city I have had my masculinity judged based on the character of some fool that doesn’t have half of my character. It’s an eye opening moment in life when you realize that you can never have the girl in school that you have a crush on because her boyfriend is 16 years old with a car that cost more than your house. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t read and stopped going to school in the 8th grade.

Thugs strut around our neighborhood and get treated like kings. We have an entire genre of music and entertainment that glorifies them. Even after they are convicted of crimes that destroyed their communities we support them like they are political prisoners in the struggle for freedom and fight the justice system so you can get out sooner and go right back to the same corner. Beautiful women compete for the chance to gain their favor and be with them and all those women are not sitting in the hood in public housing either. I have seen my share of educated professional sisters with some of the craziest guys. Everyone knows a sister with a man that doesn’t match because his wild nature is sexy and he reminds her of 50 Cent. I know this is about the brothers but the question has to be asked that if a man has several children in the same neighborhood, what was it about him that made all those girls that know one another want to get with him. It’s the fame these brothers have that causes it. They are not the outcast. The glory for those who reach the top of the mountain of this lifestyle is so great that even some successful brothers with legitimate money hang out in the same places they do. That’s how some rappers and athletes get into so much trouble. They are going to places where the hustlers go because they wanted to be him growing up. We even give them good solid excuses and free passes when they keep doing the same stupid things over and over and call other people who try to speak against the ignorance snitches and haters and put them in danger for trying to be responsible.

I and many brothers navigated our way through all the trappings to develop into responsible adults yet sit here at the beginning of 2009 with our manhood in question because of a bunch of ignorant goons who survive by destroying their community and have lots of fun and pleasure in the process. Everybody falls in love with the street solider until it’s time for real work. That’s when they turn to all the regular hard working cats and want to hold them accountable for fixing things. If all the groups Minister Muhammad mentioned in his editorial get together I will be there. I will even bring some brothers with me. If I get there and don’t see the deadbeats, gangsters, pimps, hustlers, goons and the drug pushers in the same room ready to accept responsibility for all the damage they did and start pulling their own weight then I am going home and watch T.V because if the guys who dwell in the mess aren’t going to change then how do you fix it? After 34 years of living my life the right way and having to prove myself in the same environment that these guys grew up in it’s hard for me to calculate how I have to do more work than they do.

Beyond Jena

On Saturday January 31 there will be a forum at Xavier University titled Beyond Jena. It’s a forum on bloggers of color, education and social justice in New Orleans. I would like to invite anyone who wants to register to attend, please visit the website for more details. Once again I have been convinced to speak in a public forum and destroy my shy and reserved personality that no one believes I have anymore. I will be one of the panelists along with some very intelligent people. Join us if you can.

Thank you Mr. Everson.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

There will not be a part two to what I said last night. Some things are not meant for a blog. Next week will be much better.

The Ja'Shawn J. Powell Memorial Fund has been opened with Liberty Bank. People interested in making a donation to help defray the cost of his funeral can make a deposit in person (go to for listing of locations) or mail your donation to Liberty Bank P.O. Box 60131, New Orleans, La 70160.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hope and Aggravation Part 1.

I have more respect for Pastor John Raphael more than anyone in this city. The reason is that he’s a man that is making the lives and future of the young men in his community a priority when he really doesn’t have to. I respect that to the highest because how many of us have made the decision that a section of our community is just going to act wild and destroy themselves? The truth hurts sometimes and the reality is that we have regressed to the point where our outrage towards an act of violence is dependent on the value of the victim or the status of the perpetrator. Just like today when the NAACP met with Chief Riley about the killing of Adolph Grimes by police officers. I have no tolerance for police brutality and if these officers did something wrong then they should be punished. His family deserves that justice. However, for the last twenty years they have been over 100 Adolph Grimes that were probably killed by a person who looked just like him and we hardly say a thing. What about those families? What happens when you slowly start to accept a certain level of violence is that eventually the mentality will fester just like the dream deferred Langston Hughes was talking about and it will evolve into thinking that murder is a way to eliminate any problem. I think this week we saw the end result of that in the murder of two year old JaShawn Powell. You can only keep that accepted destruction confined to a certain criteria so long. I wouldn’t be surprised if crimes like the one Danny Platt committed keep happening in some form.

It could be the foolish dreamer in me or my deep love for my dark skin; but I have always held out hope that this was all a passing phase and that somehow we would get by it without a certain amount of pain. Even after the numbers of kids I knew as a teenager or a child were being killed or locked up I still had my hope intact. After seeing what happened to that baby and the reason why, my level of hope is less than it’s ever been. It might be a little less but I still have some. Just like Pastor Raphael, I know the rest of us need to do something. I have been trying to figure out exactly what I can do to bring about a positive impact. Because I can never ignore the reality around me when I think about things like this, I now have to reconcile some sad truths about what’s happening in certain areas of this community. That is when my hope and desire to make things better clashes with my aggravation. I will tell you about that part tomorrow.

Monday, January 5, 2009

If I Had the Money I Would Pay For The Whole Thing

Thanks for the information Red. I can't blog about another topic until this stops bothering me as much as it does right now. I don't have much but I have to give something. I'm just really upset about this.

The Ja'Shawn J. Powell Memorial Fund has been opened with Liberty Bank. People interested in making a donation to help defray the cost of his funeral can make a deposit in person (go to for listing of locations) or mail your donation to Liberty Bank P.O. Box 60131, New Orleans, La 70160.

Holidays Are Over So Let's Get to Work

The holiday season is over and there’s about 6 weeks before Mardi Gras season. That means it’s time to be productive. This will be the first regular week in a long time. That means the coffee will magically disappear without anyone making another pot before I do. There will also be that one person in the office that seems to have computer software problems even though 20 other people are using the same software and have no issues at all. One thing I was guilty of in 2008 was slacking off too many days at work. While things are in decent shape, I still could have done much more so that’s my focus. I guess it’s hard to tell since I am drinking coffee and writing this blog but trust me at 9:00 AM I am going 100mph.

I was just sitting here trying to get my energy right after being upset for most of the weekend. It’s hard because everyone in the office is discussing this 2 year old baby’s murder. When you add that to the rain and fog the vibe is kind of dark. Nevertheless, I will try and focus on the positive. 2008 was the first year of my adult life that I didn’t make at least one questionable decision. For a full calendar year I didn’t do one thing that caused me to look at myself in the mirror one morning and say “What the hell were you thinking?” I should be proud of that. I used to have a goal of no more than three bad decisions as the sign of a good year but I managed to get through without one. Being this sensible is safe and rewarding but it sure is boring and it might drive me crazy. I guess I will get to work while I play my rainy day music.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy Birthday to Big Cliff

Last night I sat around sad and angry because a young man's self worth was so low that he saw no problem in murdering his own son so he wouldn't have to pay child support. While he was an extreme case, there are many young men walking around with the same problem. Eventually their children are going to deal with it too. It's an epidemic that we haven't started treating as such.

Today is Clifton Joseph Harris Sr.'s birthday. On behalf of my brothers and sisters I would just like to say happy birthday, I love you and thank you for making this one community issue that we never had to deal with personally. You set the bar for manhood really high. I have a nice big cigar to smoke in your honor today. I think you would like this video clip.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I Wanna Kick Danny Platt's Ass

This is not a good way to start the new year.

This could be the worst story ever
and that’s saying a lot when you live where I do.

If this is an indicator of what kind of things are going to be happening during the year I am going to stop blogging. My only wish is that I had five minutes alone with this asshole in a room. I would kick his ass on behalf of his two year old son who never had a chance to survive what this grown man did to him. If there was ever a time a New Orleans jury was going to hand out the death penalty this is it. As a community we should demand the highest amount of punishment. There was absolutely no reason for this to happen. I hope he’s having a long night trying to fight off the other prisoners.

Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday and besides my first set of football equipment I really don’t remember too many things he bought me in detail. I can say without a doubt that there hasn’t been a day I have been on earth that I haven’t felt wanted or that he wasn’t proud to be my daddy. Even when he busted my ass there was love involved. Sometimes you can make decisions that piss off your father. Sometimes they can say or do things to piss you off too. If you are a parent you know that everyday is not going to be a good day but you have to keep trying to make it better. All you really have control over is love and effort. If your dad is still around and you can go by his house or pick up the phone do it tonight or as soon as possible just to say hello and thank you. If he’s not around say thanks to yourself because even if he isn’t the shining example of fatherhood like Big Cliff, he’s still not Danny Platt.