Coffee Rhetoric: humanity
Showing posts with label humanity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label humanity. Show all posts

January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream Deferred

The Importance of Looking Beyond the Words: "I Have A Dream" 

Once a year, during Martin Luther King, Jr.'s day of commemoration and/or during the anniversary of his famous 1963 "I Have A Dream" speech, people are prompted to do one (or all) of a few things: fist pump about having an extended weekend before rolling over to sleep-in, hit up all of the MLK shopping deals at the mall, cull a cursory menu of food items that include fried chicken, collard greens, and other edibles ascribed to Black-Americans, or reduce Martin Luther King to nothing but the opening line, “I Have A Dream…”, gleaning the parts that best suit myopic platitudes to peddle post-racial propaganda and silence or they'll co-opt his words and misuse them to condescend to black people, in hopes that black folks will stop talking about racism and the daily microaggressions we have to navigate.

November 11, 2011

Coffee Buzz: Shakespeare in Love- Cindy Martinez's Fundraising Goal!

 I'm a huge believer in the arts... especially the Hartford arts and I love making the masses privy to the creative movers and shakers in my town. My homecity may not be the biggest and it may not be New York City (as many NYC transplants love to pompously remind us, while still partaking in our offerings), but it is home to a LOT of talent and it has a lot of hart, which is why we affectionately refer to Hartford as The HartBeat.

The Hartford arts scene is home to a diverse sub-genre of artists who thrive in the myriad of different disciplines. They include but aren't limited to; writers, poets, spoken-word performers, performance artists, hip-hop lyricists, playwrights, professional theater companies, filmmakers, producers, museums, publishers and the like. Many young people from Hartford and across Connecticut hone their respective crafts via a wide array of different program offerings including Greater Hartford Arts Council's Neighborhood Studios, Hartford Stage Young Company (where they perform an annual, contemporary production from Shakespeare's body of work), the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, Niro Boutique's Niro Foundation, and HartBeat Ensemble's Youth Play Institute.

Hartford native Cindy Martinez, a Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts alum and HartBeat Ensemble cast member/Community Liaison, is looking to make her mark as an actress. Talented and driven, Cindy has starred in a number of local stage productions and independent films. Looking to sharpen her acting skills, Cindy has taken on an aggressive fundraising goal in hopes of gaining enough funds to attend professional actors training at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts (prompted to action after getting a rejection letter for a scholarship). Cindy has set a lofty fundraising deadline of November 29th for herself and has already managed to raise $2,672!

Having had the opportunity to work with Cindy during my blogging stint with HartBeat Ensemble, I can vouch for her talent and how motivated she is!
"My dream is to be on Highway 91N on December 27th!" Says Cindy. 
If you're interested in helping her reach her goal of $4,000, click her PayPal account to donate! More importantly, peep her appeal in this video...






September 04, 2011

Dream Chasers Unite


Dream chasing... a stirring, albeit it daunting, idea to conquer. There are very few of us who actually enjoy going to work everyday in an environment conducive to what we dream of doing. So many of us mull over endeavors we feel we can't accomplish or shadow box against obstacles when we hit the ground running tackling our goals... myself included. It's not uncommon to reach an impasse and not know how else to proceed or how to even begin... Enter Abdul-Rahmaan I. Muhammad (who often performs spoken-word poetry under the moniker, MIRA w/ his partner-in-poetry, Mind Evolution). 
Muhammad... a self-professed Dream Motivator, is on a mission to spread his Dream Chasers Movement, determined to empower people and encourage them toward their goals. Muhammad himself fulfilled quite a bit on his list of accomplishments; including skydiving, mountain climbing, and trekking around Africa and China, among other things. His list is growing and while he continues to check off his to-do list with gusto, he's also determined to prompt the masses to conquer their dreams via motivational speaking and an actual Dream Chasers kit, which I was lucky enough to get my hands on the other day! The kit contains brainstorming essentials to help impel anyone forward... It includes a t-shirt with the Never Stop Dreaming logo (to help remind Dream Chasers that they're in it to win), a workbook (a comprehensive tool that encourages readers to brainstorm, journal thoughts or ideas, and to chart their progress), and a CD: Dream Chasing Volume 1 (a rousing, 17-track motivational CD, chock-full of helpful suggestions to keep folks on the path towards success). The kit is $19.99 and is well worth it! 
In addition to being a motivational speaker and heading the Dream Chaser Movement, Abdul-Rahmaan Muhammad is also the Executive Director of My People Clinical Services (founded in 2005) which is emphatic with its message: "To enable My People to help Your People so that Our people will Succeed." Doesn't get anymore driven than that. I'm not a person who listens to or even subscribes to self-help books or motivational CD's, but I definitely enjoyed listening to all 17-tracks on Volume 1 of  the Dream Chasing CD.  None of it is cliched. Having had several opportunities  to build with Abdul and see him perform as MIRA, I'd say he's definitely well-equipped to be at the helm of this movement and I encourage anyone to hop aboard his Never Stop Dreaming bandwagon, because in this current climate we're struggling to navigate, it's easy for people to become discouraged in the wake of rampant unemployment, questionable leadership, travail, and financial uncertainty... These times call for some much needed motivating. 
Visit Never Stop Dreaming's Official Website for more information on the Dream Chasers Movement, T-shirts, CD's, and workbooks.
Watch Abdul on the Stan Simpson show!




March 10, 2010

Fat and Greasy

Bastion of all things lewd, crude, sexist, and sophomoric, Howard Stern- (with the approval of his trusty dick wart, Robin Quivers)- has managed to make his ramblings relevant again by attacking up-and-coming actor and recent Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe for her appearance. Gabourey, who was up for an academy award for her debut performance in the film 'Precious' -(adapted from the book 'Push'  by author and performance poet, Sapphire)- is witty, college educated, articulate, comfortable in her skin, and did a hell of a job interpreting the title character in her very first film role. I read the book twice and saw the film an equal number of times. The film and book offer a bitter, gut wrenching pill to swallow and is glaring with the delivery. It could not have been an easy role for an actor just getting her feet wet in the industry, to perform, and so Gabourey was lauded for the strength of her debut by Oprah Winfrey, with a heartfelt tribute... but none of that matters... 
According to Howard Stern- (whose own physical appearance is a few notches under average at best, which makes his career in radio that much more fitting)- and Robin Quivers, Oprah is a "filthy liar," for Gabourey will never work in the industry again due to how she looks...  overweight, darker complected, and apparently offending to Howard's personal aesthetic and views on what he considers to be attractive and worthy. I won't bother linking to the offending diatribe available on YouTube, but I will relay some of the more notable quotes:
"There's the most enormous, fat Black chick I've ever seen. Everyone's pretending she's a part of show business,  and she's never going to be in another movie," he opined.  
"She should have gotten the Best Actress award because she's never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?" Stern continued to quip. 
He and Robin- (who has struggled with her own weight via questionable diet methods)- also said Gabby would die in about three years and should basically just shrink away into the abyss because she didn't resemble any of the other Oscar nominees. They suggested that she may have a shot starring in a sequel to 'The Blind Side,' though. There you have it. It's just that simple, despite the fact that Gabourey actually has several projects lined up beyond her role in 'Precious.'
Some Black people, in fact, refused to support 'Precious' while it was in theaters, simply because they were turned off by the fact that Gabourey didn't fit some hegemonic beauty standard. I can't even begin to count the reasons relayed to me, why people weren't interested in it... not even knowing the movie's premise. Someone complained to me, "Why do they have that big, fat, DARK-skinned girl in the movie??? She's a bad representative for Black people! I'm not going to see that mess!" Needless to say, I blinked at her incredulously. I've also read the hateful jokes on Black entertainment blogs... hyucking over Sidibe's complexion and weight.
Once again, a Black woman's body and overall look has been codified and reduced to a thing of repulsion... othered... her personality and creative gifts gently placed down her throat for her to swallow and perhaps spit back up, so that she'll pare down her substantial size to a body that's more palatable. Much of the unofficial jury seem to agree that Howard's biting remarks has some merit, because Gabourey just looks so... so, unhealthy. Suddenly folks are speculating and ticking off a list of issues she could potentially, but may not even suffer from! I am in awe that merely looking at a person automatically determines their vitals. Since it's that easy, to hell with Sidibe's doctor, because anybody not skinny automatically has health problems and live sedentary lives steeped in deep-fried Twinkies, while every skinny person is automatically healthy and fit sans any issues to speak of. It's official... everyone's an expert... medical licenses for all!  *insert side-eye here.* 
Dictating who's healthy and who isn't... who's beautiful enough to be on film and who's not, undermines what is essentially wrong with how this cult of personalty rate and judge people ... and it's also indicative of how often we don't mind our own business. Essentially, we all have room for self-improvement... Howard Stern especially.
In the grand scheme of things, who cares if Gabourey does have health problems? Those are between she and her doctor. So what if in addition to being overweight, she has the unmitigated gall to be darker-skinned than most people are comfortable with seeing on their American screens? The contempt that people like Howard Stern display when body-snarking and in determining whether Sidibe's race and figure will guarantee her continued fame and success, is indicative of their own self-loathing. Gabourey's health is no more at risk than actors' who smoke, binge and purge, get excessive amounts of plastic surgery, or snort coke.
I'm still enraptured by her spirit, the outstanding performance she gave in 'Precious,' and how infectious her personality is during interviews. Sidibe seems to be above the nonsense, as she  stated that suddenly one day, she woke up and determined for herself, that she was beautiful.

That is all.









January 24, 2009

These and Those

Another boring and quiet Saturday. Actually, I'm starting to develop an affinity for quiet, boring days. It gives me time to think about a myriad of things, people, developments, etc. It also seems as if I'm conserving my energy for Spring and Summer.
In any event, being able to mull things over has led me to the following conclusions: Some people are naturally miserable and bitter. There needn't be any justification or circumstance for or behind it. Until recently, I don't think I've ever met a person who is just rotten to the core for no apparent reason. Most of the assholes I've come across have been hurt in the past in some way and use it as a defense mechanism, or have had rocky upbringings and dysfunctional relationships with one or both of their parents. Never were they just simply allergic to being personable and genuine. I'm not a cheerleader nor would I classify myself as one of those "nice people." I'm simply me. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am genuine, and while I'm not "nice," I'm personable enough that people actually want to engage me in conversation or hang out with me. While I don't have a huge crew that I pal around with (I prefer small, intimate groups or solo), I think it's safe to say that I'm not a social pariah.
It's absolutely fascinating (and somewhat amusing) watching a person struggle to be polite to others. I've never seen or experienced anything like it. An adult person conflicted over whether or not they want to continue on with being a small-minded, uneducated jerk versus acting like someone with sense and social etiquette. I'd be willing to wager that they wake up in the morning jumping up out of the wrong-right side of the bed, rush to the bathroom, splash tepid water on their face, and then look in the mirror at their reflection thinking aloud: "Now yesterday I was a first-class, Grade A cunt! Good job me! How on EARTH am I going to top THAT today though?!" Insanity.
I've also come to the conclusion that debating a point with someone who is set in their particular way of doing things and have already determined they're right in their assessment, and will talk all over you to drive and park their point on home is useless. Better to say, "but, but, but..." shrug, and let them get the last word, because the jockeying back and forth becomes a fruitless effort on your part. Find the comedy in their smug, know-it-allishness- because you know you're open minded and knowledgeable enough to bow out gracefully. Why exert energy on someone who hasn't a clue, even though they think they do? Not worth it.
Lastly, I think Bobbi Brown's Limited Edition Brights Eye Palette is simply beautiful, but I can't justify spending $70.00 on eye makeup when I can go to the drugstore and buy Loreal H.I.P. eye colors for just a fraction of that cost. It's better to stare at Bobbi's palette longingly and wonder, "What if I COULD afford it though, and wasn't in the throes of financial trials and tribulations?" That there is grocery money. Spending it on eye makeup would be cause to get dildo-slapped. I also want a block of this for my natural hair. More attainable than the $70.00 eye palette, non? Oh, and shout out to the brotha who tapped me on the shoulder, beckoned me to unplug my earphones in the middle of a great song, and who opined, "You look like a VERY elegant Black woman. I gotta learn more about you." and sauntered away. He probably will never learn more about me, but thanks for the compliment anyway, oh, and two middle fingers to my older sister who commented, "Oh, was he wearing glasses? Ohhhh, I know, he must've been retarded." When I relayed the story to her last night ...
That's it.
**Updated to include: How about that Inauguration Speech? Very thrilling. It'll be interesting to watch how our new President tackles the mess at hand. Hopefully with fervent determination and grace. I for one am proud that a person of color has galvanized a nation to embrace change (kicking and screaming in some instances), allowing him to break the class ceiling and hold the highest politial office. One thing to inspire hope... another thing to carry through and see that message to fruition. At this juncture, I'm over the "We have a Black President" mania. I'm more interested in what our new President, who just happens to be Black, will do to help mend the damage done to our country. He has an arduous task ahead of him and seems up to the challenge. Many of us are still caught up in the rapture of change, but I think it's time to move past Obama's skin color and focus on his politics and what he has in store for us. **

December 13, 2007

First Born Second

"I was born as a second child. All I got was hand-me-downs. All that is what was left..." Bilal, from his debut album, First Born Second
Psychiatrist and theorist, Alfred Adler has surmised that the order in which one is born, influences their personality. That order can have leave an indelible impression on that sibling's quality of life and the way in which they cope with life's trials and tribulations. Of course many psychologists of yore and today dispute Adler's suggestions on birth order. I was born right smack-dab in the midst of the madness. A middle child. Introspective, mercurial, passionate, self absorbed, creative, sensitive, aloof, stoic, an aversion to being told what to do by my mother sometimes/but clinging and crying to her other times (preferably in the absence of my sisters). I've been spending a lot more time with my immediate family amidst my transitional phase, and I've never been more aware of where I fall in the triad my mother has created, as I have been recently. Middle Child Syndrome, it has been christened. Regardless of how people cope with being the second born, the syndrome feels very real to many of us middlers. A feeling of being somewhat solitary and misunderstood. Alone in my philosophies and ways of thinking and living, a sense of feeling undermined or disputed, fighting to be heard over competing voices, wanting to be left alone, creative, artistic, caught between a rock and a hard place, sometimes wanting to slip under the radar, a bit eccentric and self contained ... While theories abound on Middle Child Syndrome and we all cope differently with being wedged in between two siblings, it is a rather interesting and complex situation to deal with sometimes. I suddenly feel compelled to delve deeper into the order of such things in order to figure out some things about myself. I suddenly feel a deep empathy for Jan Brady.

September 21, 2007

I Think? That's What Happened... Maybe? I don't know...

When you ASSUME. You make an ASS out of U and ME.

Dear Presumptuous One,
If there is one thing that irritates me, it's when people try to read or over analyze my demeanor, acts, body-speak, deadpan facial expression or what have you, and assume they know me within two minutes. People presume to think they have me aaaall-llll figured out in a matter of minutes, and then will try to read me the riot act, using their poorly gathered data against me. ahem- See, me? I prefer to talk to people. Cop a proper feel from the comeliness of their personalities, if you will. Ask, probe, poke, prod, confirm so that I truly know. Getting to the root of some matter does wonders when one is attempting to be accurate in their assumption about someone. As time consuming as it can be, I like to do thorough research. No one ever scored a proper grade on a term paper, having done shoddy research... not having cited their sources. Paraphrasing for their convenience, in that regard (when using direct quotes) just doesn't cut it. Period. You either quote or cite verbatim or don't bother attempting to relay or repeat. Makes for a sloppy argument. Makes for a dubious presentation. In any event, I bid you well on your journey. Perhaps in your new-prior life, this will be your best, last, greatest chance at a great start to a new, but familiar beginning. Makes sense? Good. It didn't make any sense to me either. I guess I'm hoping that you've learned your lesson and that you will proceed accordingly in your new dealings. Where I'm from, people tend to prefer personalities that are genuine and organic. In fact, I think that's a universal feeling. No one likes a disingenuous facade hiding behind a vacuous smile and dead eyes. Sayonara, my friend. And do your research thoroughly. People don't like being defamed and misunderstood, without so much as an inquiry. Your truth is not necessarily the truth. You're forgiven. Godspeed. Keep it tight.
Regards,
Coffey

May 25, 2007

Keeping Our Head Above Water...

Yesterday, after I was settled in at home from work, I caught an episode of Good Times on the TV Land network. Florida (matriarch of the Evans clan) came home, excited and breathless... ready to share with her family that she had just enrolled herself back in school, in hopes of obtaining her GED. Before she could relay the good news to her family, father James [Evans] interrupted, chastising her for not listening to HIS good news first. He had been hired for a better paying job with a construction company as a foreman, and the opportunity would possibly allow him to move up. Excited, Florida heaped praise upon her husband, before telling her family that she was back in school, and may finally have the opportunity to get her diploma after having dropped out in the 10th grade. Thelma, J.J., and Michael were ecstactic and hugged their mother. James (who dropped out of school in the 6th grade) on the other hand wasn't thrilled and a dark look came across his face. Suddenly he became discouraging and somewhat insulting... commenting, "Everybody knows that you can't teach an old dog new tricks!" He suggested that best friend, neighbor, and modern woman (for the time) Willona was the one, undoubtedly, putting such nonsense, as going back to school, into Florida's head. James also demanded to know what she planned on fixing for dinner. Willona proudly told James that she had finished school, got her diploma, and that it afforded her the opportunity to work at a clothing boutique. Florida challenged James (with Willona's encouragment) that if he tried to stop her from achieving her goal, he was gonna be faced with "One hell of a fight!" from her and suggested that she wouldn't be able to improve the quality of her (or the family's) life if she didn't see her education through to fruition. It was an intense episode. Due to my getting up to get a glass of vino and some Ramen, I missed the end. Good Times was filmed during the mid 70's, which wasn't that long ago. That particular episode, where James discourages Florida's desire to improve herself by turning into a chauvinist extraordinaire... brow beating and insulting his wife's desire to excel, prompted me to think about how difficult women... black women (as well as other women of color) in particular, had it during that time (and how difficult it still can be for us). I'm reminded of the whole concept behind (and need for) the womanist movement, encouraged by author Alice Walker and adapted from her book: In Search of Our Mother's Garden: Womanist Prose. The concept of womanism came to be, because women of color were left out of the mix during the feminist movement... which dealt largely with issues pertaining to white, middle-class women; and focused predominantly on suffrage and sexism. Racism and classism were not issues they related to or felt compelled to fight against. Womanism paints a portrait from the perspective of black women. When discussing issues of race or classism, the focus tends to be about the oppression of black men. Sexism tends to chart the plight and suppression of white women and how they overcame their struggles. It's rare to find literature that deals specifically with the oppression, suppression, and plight of black women, specifically. There are Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, but how many other black women have traveled tumultuous roads, paving the way and fighting for civil rights and liberties for women of color? We grapple with sexism, classism, and racism. Throw sexual stereotypes based on ethnicity into that equation, thanks to the rump shaking featured in rap videos and the media's portrayal of us, and you begin to understand WHY the Don Imus incident caused such an uproar, after he described the Rutgers University women's basketball team as being "nappy headed ho's." Many people seemed flummoxed about the furor that statement incited. Some martyrized him, saying that his constitutional right to free speech was being infringed upon... which is true, but so is our right to freely be WHO and WHAT we are, without having to continously apologize or go through this multi-step assimilation process, because people aren't happy with how we look. It's maddening, and I'm sick to death of it. Snoop Dog weighed in on the Imus controversy, by justifying his (and other rappers') use of the term "ho's", after the rap community came under fire (or were scape-goated) for desensitizing the masses to the use of the word ho'. Snoop suggested that it was okay for rappers to disrespect certain types of women by calling them the ugly name, because they're referring to the ho's living in the projects, not "a successful basketball team." That didn't really do much to help our cause, now did it? It's a neverending battle, particuarly when you consider that we already have 3 strikes against us. I think of some of my own personal struggles, particularly since I wear my hair natural, I carry around an ample rear end, and I constantly have to defend the reasons WHY I don't act like [insert stereotype here], WHY black women aren't one- dimensional, and WHY I'm not going drop my shit like it's hot for some ignoramus who has OD'ed on videos shown on BET... or WHY I want you to kiss my ample rear, when you pigeonhole me and women of color or chastise me for my blackness. I will gladly continue to fight the good fight and refer to myself as a 21st century womanist.

May 15, 2007

Fureur

Last night, I re-visited the Japanese horror flick, Ju-on: The Grudge and then followed it up with the American rendition, The Grudge. The original version felt as chilling, as if I were watching it for the first time. I still felt goosebumps as I watched the haunting and disturbing images float across the screen. The American remake was slightly less compelling, but wasn't short on providing chills. The Grudge is about a supernatural curse that is born after a wife and her young son die violently, in the grip of rage and sorrow (at the hands of the woman's husband, in a fit of jealous anger). Anybody who comes into contact with the curse, of course dies, causing it to grow and constantly repeat itself in a deadly chain of events... bouncing from person to person and feeding off of them. After watching both films, I began pondering the power and emotion behind passion and rage. I'm a passionate and tempestuous woman. When I was young and precocious, I had a difficult time harnessing those emotions and my anger. As annoying and selfish as preteens and teenagers can be today, I commiserate with them to a certain degree. Their young brains are still developing. That coupled with raging hormones and being caught in the throes of adolescence as well as being on the cusp of adulthood. Sheer insanity. Once we blossom into adults however, we are responsible for our behavior and how we choose to channel passion and rage. Some of us harbor it more than others. Our brains may be developed and common sense should no longer be a foreign concept at this point in our lives, but it still requires a great deal of restraint and grappling, to harness such intense emotions. I know I grapple with it, anyway. There are some with laid back, tranquil personalities sans incident and despite whatever turmoil and anger they may be feeling. What can I say, I'm intense. I boil, I seethe, my insides churn (even if I don't project that emotion externally). Kissing, eating, sex, anger, contentment... all of these wonderful and ugly things, I experience with an unbridled intensity. Passion and rage work in tandem as far, as I'm concerned. And are just as strong if not stronger, than the act of loving. Pondering and realizing all of this, I've come to the conclusion that perhaps this is why I may seem aloof to strangers or to those who haven't gotten to know me completely. What is in fact me showing restraint and being miserly, by not laying my emotions bare, for someone who is unfamiliar to me, to cash in on, and not having earned any of it. That's me, not wasting that passionate anger on the petty and insignificant. This applies to the brief relationships I've had too ... the confusion some of these men have felt, when I didn't chase them down or beg them for their time... me simply opting to move on and not look back. I'm personable and cordial enough and I open myself up, juuuust wide enough. I don't feel compelled to expend that type of energy on someone, with abandon and without thought. That passion, I'd rather save for something (or someone?) exciting and relevant, and channel it in productive ways, and have it paid back to me ten fold. I'd hate to waste passion and rage on the undeserving, only to have the results end up a tortured entity that continues on in a familiar pattern of anger and sorrow.