Saturday, July 28, 2012

Good morning. Still sugar free.

Good morning all. It's 6:27 and I am happy to say I slept so well. It's Red Stories day today. I love Red Stories day. If you are in the Los Angeles area come out and join me there at Vibrations at 2435 Manchester, Inglewood at 7:30pm. The features tonight are Korlah and Big Arch! I'm hosting the show. I do hope to see you there.

Red Stories plug out of the way, I've been doing well. I did not go walking yesterday so I know I need to go today. Either walking or swimming. I know that I cannot half do my daily exercise which is what I'm starting to do. I am proud of myself for staying away from sugar for this long. It's a challenge every day but I've been doing it. When I am tempted I remind myself that whatever it is I want to put in my mouth won't last very long but the cost of a depression trigger will last and it's just not worth it.

Well I have some work to do today but before I get started on it I'm going to get a few more hours of sleep. I'll connect later. I hope you all have a great day. I intend to.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday already

Good morning beautiful people. It's Friday again. It came quickly I think. I'm sitting in Starbucks with my mint tea that I probably won't be able to drink for another hour or so because the water is so crazy hot. But that's cool. Aint nothin' gonna take my joy, ain't nothin' gonna bring me down, oh no, I got to keep on moving'. Or however the song goes. It's therapy day and that happens early and her office is right next door to the Starbucks. That's part of what makes us a match. True it's a small part because she's a great therapist.

I didn't go swimming yesterday and the only walking I did was the walk around the block with my client. What's good about me walking with her is that it takes her a while to get around the block so I get to soak up some good ole sun rays.

I go to work today after I leave here. My plan is to go swimming tonight after work but I really don't know. I do have a few other things to do. I gotta move every day though. Gotta keep that up.

I've made some progress in a particular area of my life and so am looking forward to sharing that with her today. I'm just blah blazing right now when I should be making my way to the restroom before I head upstairs to her office.

Y'all have a good day now, ya hear!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Morning all

Good morning all. It's 5:54 right now and I am up feeling great. I'm glad that I went swimming yesterday. I feel amazing and I slept very well. I may go hiking after work. Maybe. If I don't then I'll go for a walk or something. But something. Also I've been doing very well staying away from sugar. I did have a cheat yesterday. I had two small bowls of dried cereal. Mini wheats frosted somethings.

I'm going to try to go back to sleep for a little while then get ready for work. Oh, I picked up some vitamin B12 yesterday. I took some valerian root last night for sleep and I guess it worked. Or it could have been the swimming that had me so tired. I also took an iron pill yesterday. Tomorrow I'll pick up some St. John's Wort.

Well that's the 411 on my new medication so far and my physical activity. I'm still on the journey. I have a way to go but I'm taking one step at a time. This feel so much better than the numb feeling I had when I was taking the other meds. I am thankful for this day and for being in my right mind and for the desire to participate fully in this day.

I am also thankful for my son and mostly thankful that Uraeus is God's son and is so loved by the most High Mother/Father.

Well before I fully wake up, I'm going to see if I can get a little more sleep. Not that I need it. I'm just being greedy now.

Have a great day everyone. I intend to.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Motivating myself to swim today

It's 3:33 pm and I am off work. I taught my class today then shot the musicians performing at the event at 7th and Fig today. I said I was going swimming and am still trying to motivate myself to do so. The pool closes at 7 so I have a little time to chill if I choose. Of course we know the problem with choosing to chill for "a little while" now don't we. But no, I'm going to do it. It's for my health, I keep telling myself. I know I will feel better once I grab the towel and get in the car.

Morning. Earthquake.

Good morning all. It's 3:50 am and I am up. There was an earthquake at 3:21.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sweet time

Just came back from a walk with my client. She's 87 and I love how she takes the time to kiss, touch and talk to every tree, plant and flower she can reach along the path. It's my lesson and opportunity to breathe. To take in the moment, and then the next and then on to the next tree.

Monday, July 23, 2012

photos from 7th and Fig show last Wednesday

Morning all

Good morning all. It's about 8 and I am up and getting ready to head out to teach my creative writing class then go and meet my client. I have a full day today and that's cool. I'm looking forward to all of it.

I am thankful for the opportunity to see this day and participate powerfully in it. To make choices with my sound mind. I am thanful for the opportunity to love and be loved. I am thankful for family and friends. I am thankful for forgiveness and freedom.

I hope that you all enjoy your day today.

The sugar connection to depression

As many of you know, in March of this year I was diagnosed as bipolar 2. I am experimenting with different types of healing methods to see what works best for me. From March until about two weeks ago I was on medication. I stopped taking the meds because I didn't like how numb I felt. Always. I am now trying more natural methods and am tracking what's working and not working here on this blog.

I greatly believe that there is a connection between the depression side of bipolar and sugar. So I gave, up, sugar. Hey, it's a process. I've been staying at my mom's place this week because it's summer vacation and my son, nephew and niece have been on a marathon playdate here at the house. I mentioned that to say that I don't control what kinds of food come into the house. I said yesterday that there are a few chocolate bars in the refridgerator calling my name. I resisted. But that doesn't mean I didn't sugar cheat. I had two gingerales and a root beer soda. I also had two cups of dry fruit loops and two small bowls of rasin bran cereal. In a day, that is a lot of sugar.

When my depression is triggered I begin to cry and have a great desire to be alone. I allowed myself the small sugar cheats as a reward for ignoring the chocolate. At about 9 last night I felt the tears coming and the desire to be alone. The disease has me check in with myself quite often. I quickly started adding up how much sugar I had eaten and drank yesterday. I said a prayer and decided to go to bed. Prayer and rest are very important. No tears in the bed just a dedication to do much better on my diet the next day. And I am committed.

It's now 2:39am and as is common with people who are bipolar, I rarely sleep through the night. Writing, blogging, painting are better activities for me than staring at the ceiling trying to follow the wooden blades of the fan above me. Of those activities I enjoy blogging the most lately at this time of morning. Just before I got up I was thinking about how many times I have crashed mentally and wished now that I had kept a food journal then. But better late than never right? I do remember though that the day before I drove myself to the hospital I was on my way home and was already feeling very very low and very very anxious at the same time. I pulled over to get gas and also bought five tootsie rolls. You know, the ten cents ones at the register calling our names. Well, I answered in a moment I was weakest. I didn't know then what I know for sure now about sugar and how awful it is for my mind.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted. Oh, and of course my treatment includes more than just not eating sugar. I also have to exercise daily, stay away from white flour (which I also had yesterday) and take supplements which I listed on a recent previous entry. Please check it out. I did go for a short walk yesterday. I'm trying to be in the sun for at least fifteen minutes a day to get some of that good natural vitamin d. Like I said folks, it's a process and I'll keep you posted. I usually do.

Enjoy yourselves today.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I cheated

I cheated and had a slice and a half of pizza but I didn't andi won't have the chocolate!

Chocolate calling

As bad as I know sugar is for me, and by bad I mean it triggers my depression spells, I still want the chocolate bar in my mom's refridgerator. I keep making excuses to myself like, ok, Sunday can be my cheat day and I can have whatever I want. When I look at how serious the disorder is and how much sugar affects me then I know how crazy it is to cheat. It's like someone addicted to crack allowing himself a cheat day once a week.

I love myself more than I want chocolate.

How funny, just as I close this post on saying no to chocolate the kids walk in with a box of pizza. White flour is as bad as sugar.
Sheesh, maybe I should go home. But then the sound of the children playing basketball in the backyard, laughing and trash talking. Priceless. Who's afraid of chocolate and pizza?

Another path to healing

Yesterday I met with a friend who was diagnosed with bipolar 2, as I was. Instead of medication she is managing the disease with natural remedies. I have taken myself off of the medication and met with her to discuss other options.

We sat on the sand at Venice Beach loving the sun on our faces and our feet in the sand and talked. About life and healing. Sugar is the devil. I say that all the time. She agreed. The first thing she knew to do was release the sugar from her diet. Not just adding sugar to food and drinks but not eating or drinking anything with sugar in them. This of course includes alcohol. She also gave up white flour and foods containing it. I'm on board with all of this. Her recommendation for supplements are St. Johns Wort, valerian root (for sleeping), B12. Also daily exercise and acupuncture twice a month. Again, I'm on board with all of this though I may add vitamin d and fish oil. She said she tried the fish oil but had a funny feeling about it. I'll try it and see how it fits.

Yesterday Uraeus, Deja and I went swimming and then to the beach. I'm so glad I went. I am considering swimming every day. Or at least every other. Between that and walking I think I'll be pretty straight. Until I come up with something else.

Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes. I usually do.

Enjoy yourselves today. I will.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Morning. Swim. Meds and sugar free.

Good morning all. I'm up and getting ready to go out for a morning swim with my son, nephew and niece. Swim session starts at 8 and it's my job to get them up and push them out of the door even though I'm the old lady of the group. 8 is not even that early.

I'm so glad I'm up and feeling like swimming. Seriously I like my mornings and days much better without the meds. Maybe I'm being one of those people who decides they feel better and stops taking meds too soon but oh well. I like this feeling over that. Besides, if I need them again I know where they are. I have an appointment with the doctor on Tuesday and I'll let him know then that I stopped taking them. I know I have more adjustments to make but I think I'm doing pretty well. I had to let go of the sugar. Sugar is the devil by the way. Seriously. Also I stopped drinking. Completely stopped. I'll keep you posted. I usually do.

Enjoy yourselves today.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Colorado shooting during Batman

I took my son and niece to see Spiderman last night. We enjoyed the movie and ride home together. This morning I found out that during the Batman movie in Colorado someone went into the theatre and sprayed his gun. About twelve people were killed. Killed. Because someone walked into a theatre with his gun! My heart aches for all of us. For the world we live in where something like this could happen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Happy 94th birthday Nelson Mandela


7th and Fig today

This morning I taught my creative writing class then went downtown to perform at an event on 7th and Figueroa. It was cool. I'm not a big fan of performing outside at lunch for folks who work downtown and are on their lunch break. But it was cool. Just when I thought no one was really listening I completed my set and was walking off and some folks in the crowd screamed for me to do another piece. I liked that. I also liked who I was working with today. Deana was the promoter of the show and I performed with Thea Monyea and Paul Mabon. I have some pics but for some reason can't post them on the computer I'm using right now. I'll work it out and find a way to get the pics up here.

Hope y'all are well. I am.

P.S. I told you I stopped taking my meds. Yeah, I think I'm done with them. I'm meeting with someone on Saturday about some natural remedies and hopefully that works. I. Just. Don't. Like. The. Way. The. Meds. Make. Me. Feel. I'll keep you posted.

Family time

Right now I am sitting in my mother's house in Long Beach. This is family week. I have spent every night here for the week. With my son, my mother, sister, brother in law, nephew, niece and the dog. We have taken pictures and laughed and eaten and watched television and played some game on the wii and we mostly, were together. In the mornings we get up and go to work and then somewhere between 4 and 6 we are together again. This time is a blessing to me, to my heart and my head. I didn't know I missed this...together until I had it this week. Next week will be different. Basketball games in Vegas, meetings, Uraeus with his cousins and us spread out but for right now, this day and the few days before we had and have this...together. That I cherish.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Morning all

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, hope you can feel it too. I stopped taking my meds about a week ago. I seem to have more energy now. The pills that were supposed to help me sleep just had me tired and sluggish the next day. I'm monitoring myself carefully and if I feel I need to go back on the meds, perhaps I will. For now though, I'm free of them.

My class at Girl Blue went well. I admire the way the girls are so willing to be so free and honest in their writing and sharing. We are creating a book for the end of the term and I am editing the project. So far it's shaping out to be a good book. Who knows what they will call it.

I have an early class tomorrow because I'm performing downtown during the time my class is scheduled so I switched with Marlow. Hopefully the show tomorrow will go well. I feel prepared and am excited about it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Right now I am at work. We just got back in the house because my client went to physical therapy. She's resting now and I am taking the time to clear my head of these words. Uraeus and I are going to the movies today when I get off of work. He has gotten so big. He's almost a whole head taller than I am now. I'm very proud of him for the human being he has become.

Signing off for now.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The best of times

Today my son sat at my feet while I twisted his locks. I listened to him laugh and play with my niece who won her championship basketball game today. I watched my nephew carry his long body across the room. I worked on the lesson plan for my class tomorrow. These are good times.

Enjoy yourselves today. I already am.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Life lessons everywhere

Today I got a much needed pedicure and as the nail technician was scrubbing the bottom of my feet I grimaced. "Tickle?" She asked. I nodded my head and she said, "well then laugh."

Dear Uraeus - A work in progress letter

I told you I just want you to be happy
but that is not completely true
I also want you to be kind hearted
to be loving
a responsible voter
a searcher of truth
a giver of smiles

I want you to be a chooser
instead of waiting to be choosen
To be an explorer and brave
A walker, communicator and honest

I want you to be a super hero, a ninja, a king
Be a leader and humble
Be a reader and thinker
An educator and example

Be the human being your lover will be proud to call friend
Be the man who can admit his faults and do better at any age

Believe in hope
in yourself
in humanity
in God

and fly

Friday, July 13, 2012

The day - free write

Yay! The workshop yesterday went well. I was happy to see a great response and the conversation was inspiring. I so love writing workshops. Today is a pretty easy day. Sleep is thankfully coming easy. I had a therapy session this morning and as usual I left feeling twenty pounds lighter and also clearer about the work I need to do with myself. I'm at work right now and my client and I just got back from a nice walk and now she is resting. I am editing the poems from The Girl Blue Project that they wrote on Wednesday for the book we are putting together. This book is going to be amazing. Already these girls have me crying. Their work is more honest than I've seen in many poems and stories by adults.

Today is a good day. I'm taking time to breathe. Hope you are too.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Workshop today

Good morning all. Slow start today but I'm up now and getting ready for the day. I am teaching a women's writing workshop today in Los Angeles and like most projects, I'm looking forward to it. As much as I enjoyed being back east I'm glad I'm home. The weather here is great. The workshop doesn't start until 5:30 and I should go walking before it starts. Maybe I will. I've been thinking about the beach a lot so maybe a quick stroll.

Love yourselves today.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Girl Blue Project

My class went well today. The girls are very eager to learn, to laugh, to play. We did all of that today. I teach the creative writing class at The Girl Blue Project. I'll be very brief and general about my classes there to protect the privacy of the girls. But know, these high school divas have some stoooooorrrriiiieeeesss!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I made it home! Yay!

I'm glad to be home. Just like I knew I would I hit the ground running. My mom picked me up from the airport at 8:30 this morning and I had an appointment with the doctor at 10:00. My car was filthy from being parked under a sappy tree so I went to get the car washed before my appointment. I made it on time. This was a new psychologist I met with today to talk to about my meds. How they are working, what I'm taking, blah blah blah. I'm thinking about easing myself off of the meds but I didn't mention that to him today. Val said I shouldn't do it cold turkey. I think I'll listen.

Had some errands to run after the doctor including picking up some supplies for my poetry class with The Girl Blue Project tomorrow. I'm looking forward to that. My class started Monday but I wasn't here so Marlow took over for me for the day. I went home for just a minute then came in to work. I'm glad to be here. I haven't had a nap (or a shower) but I'm glad to be here.

Still on my way home

It's 3:37am here in Phoenix, AZ and I am at the airport. The flight from Philly was easy and I slept well (to be in the middle seat of the emergency exit). We didn't get into Phoenix until about 11:30pm and I take the first flight out to L.A. at 6:24am. I wasn't able to sleep well here in the airport terminal. Just couldn't find a position. That's cool, I walked a bit and pulled out my poetry notebook and started memorizing (again) some old and some new poems. It's scary how my mind keeps drawing a blank at the oddest times. I have a show coming up and want to try some new stuff so I'm going to work on it now in an almost empty airport at 3 something in the morning.

There is a recording to the left of me at the escalator and it keeps saying "escalator has ended, please watch your step." It won't friggin' stop. But that's cool. See how I keep saying that's cool? Yeah, I'm trying to just be with the things I can't change."The escalator has ended, please watch your step. The escalator has ended, please watch your step. The escalator has ended, please watch your step." And on and on. But that's cool.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Heading home

It's been a relaxing and fun time here on the east coast but it's time for me to head back home. The shows were great here and I'm glad I got to be here. Thankful for the time and space to clear my head, or at least move some things around. I am looking forward to getting home and taking care of what there is to do there. I slept well last night which is really good for me because I hadn't been sleeping well the few nights prior. This is my post for the day, nothing big except oh, I woke up this morning. But then again, that's big.

Enjoy your day.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Morning all

Good morning all. The storm from last night has passed and the heat hasn't set in yet. It's early though. I feel great. It's my last day here in Lancaster for a while. I leave tomorrow. I have a lot of work to do when I get back but I am well ready for it. I begin teaching the poetry class for The Girl Blue Project. I'm looking forward to it. This will be my third year teaching the summer program. I also have a writing workshop I'm leading two days after I return home. I'm ready.

Well I was just saying good morning and I do hope you all have a great day. I intend to.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Being with the quiet in the storm

So there was a thunderstorm and all of the power in the house went out. There was nothing to listen to but my thoughts, the light rain, the wind, the leaves. I let it happen. The quiet. As if I had a choice. I was wrestless at first then I just gave in to it. I let it be. And life is like that sometimes. It just is and you have to let it be.

The power is back on of course, and now I am sitting under the fan. Letting the dark clouds blow away. Sometimes it's not quite so easy. But then sometimes, like right now, it is.

Monica - Don't Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days)

Just one of those days - free write

It's a million four thousand degrees in the house today because the air conditioner went out and while my skin loves this sauna, I don't particularly. I'm still in Lancaster, PA and will be heading home on Monday. I'm having a moment. You know those moments that sneak up on you, or is it just me? I'm spiraling a lot lately. Down and downer. Each time I pick myself up though. I'm hearing the voices of all the church women in my head right now. "No you didn't pick yo self up, chile, that was the Lawd!" And they are right. Thank You, God.

Maybe you think this blog is a bit depressing. If I were you I probably would. But I won't apologize for that. I have to write about it or I won't get through those moments. Those moments that just sneak up on me. From nowhere. Those moments when I'm not sad anymore I just wanna be alone and the only voice I can stand to hear is my son's. Not even my own.

I haven't been eating much lately. There are a few reasons for that though. 1. It's been a kagillion seven degrees. 2. I haven't felt like it. 3. I haven't felt like it. I've had a few aha moments while I was here in PA. I won't share them now but soon maybe. Maybe. Bear with me or not but I'm just writing through this junk in my head. The words are much better out than in. I have a private journal I write in and maybe I'll do that later. That's where the I put the stuff I would never say here. Some stuff is mine. All mine.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


the memory is always itchy
killing and creating boogieman
out of paper mache
I with poets tongue
mamas mouth
preacher voice and dangerous yesterday
cut into us
shark teeth until we bleed
the simple of us

dig my toes in the clay
til we know which way we stand
and where we headed
I am fire and snow
confused by the sun
don't know dark from day

depending on how the wind blow
we just friends or lovers
don't know which to do
this windmill round and round

got my butter fingers
reaching for better days
more solid than this sand we stand

I am dizzy over all this


Star Spangled Banner Whitney Houston

Marvin Gaye sings American National Anthem

"A talk to schoolteachers" James Baldwin on the fourth of July

(Delivered October 16, 1963, as “The Negro Child – His Self-Image”; originally published in The Saturday Review, December 21, 1963, reprinted in The Price of the Ticket, Collected Non-Fiction 1948-1985, Saint Martins 1985.)

Let’s begin by saying that we are living through a very dangerous time. Everyone in this room is in one way or another aware of that. We are in a revolutionary situation, no matter how unpopular that word has become in this country. The society in which we live is desperately menaced, not by Khrushchev, but from within. To any citizen of this country who figures himself as responsible – and particularly those of you who deal with the minds and hearts of young people – must be prepared to “go for broke.” Or to put it another way, you must understand that in the attempt to correct so many generations of bad faith and cruelty, when it is operating not only in the classroom but in society, you will meet the most fantastic, the most brutal, and the most determined resistance. There is no point in pretending that this won’t happen.

Since I am talking to schoolteachers and I am not a teacher myself, and in some ways am fairly easily intimidated, I beg you to let me leave that and go back to what I think to be the entire purpose of education in the first place. It would seem to me that when a child is born, if I’m the child’s parent, it is my obligation and my high duty to civilize that child. Man is a social animal. He cannot exist without a society. A society, in turn, depends on certain things which everyone within that society takes for granted. Now the crucial paradox which confronts us here is that the whole process of education occurs within a social framework and is designed to perpetuate the aims of society. Thus, for example, the boys and girls who were born during the era of the Third Reich, when educated to the purposes of the Third Reich, became barbarians. The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. The purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions, to say to himself this is black or this is white, to decide for himself whether there is a God in heaven or not. To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his own identity. But no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around. What societies really, ideally, want is a citizenry which will simply obey the rules of society. If a society succeeds in this, that society is about to perish. The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change it and to fight it – at no matter what risk. This is the only hope society has. This is the only way societies change.

Now, if what I have tried to sketch has any validity, it becomes thoroughly clear, at least to me, that any Negro who is born in this country and undergoes the American educational system runs the risk of becoming schizophrenic. On the one hand he is born in the shadow of the stars and stripes and he is assured it represents a nation which has never lost a war. He pledges allegiance to that flag which guarantees “liberty and justice for all.” He is part of a country in which anyone can become president, and so forth. But on the other hand he is also assured by his country and his countrymen that he has never contributed anything to civilization – that his past is nothing more than a record of humiliations gladly endured. He is assumed by the republic that he, his father, his mother, and his ancestors were happy, shiftless, watermelon-eating darkies who loved Mr. Charlie and Miss Ann, that the value he has as a black man is proven by one thing only – his devotion to white people. If you think I am exaggerating, examine the myths which proliferate in this country about Negroes.

All this enters the child’s consciousness much sooner than we as adults would like to think it does. As adults, we are easily fooled because we are so anxious to be fooled. But children are very different. Children, not yet aware that it is dangerous to look too deeply at anything, look at everything, look at each other, and draw their own conclusions. They don’t have the vocabulary to express what they see, and we, their elders, know how to intimidate them very easily and very soon. But a black child, looking at the world around him, though he cannot know quite what to make of it, is aware that there is a reason why his mother works so hard, why his father is always on edge. He is aware that there is some reason why, if he sits down in the front of the bus, his father or mother slaps him and drags him to the back of the bus. He is aware that there is some terrible weight on his parents’ shoulders which menaces him. And it isn’t long – in fact it begins when he is in school – before he discovers the shape of his oppression.

Let us say that the child is seven years old and I am his father, and I decide to take him to the zoo, or to Madison Square Garden, or to the U.N. Building, or to any of the tremendous monuments we find all over New York. We get into a bus and we go from where I live on 131st Street and Seventh Avenue downtown through the park and we get in New York City, which is not Harlem. Now, where the boy lives – even if it is a housing project – is in an undesirable neighborhood. If he lives in one of those housing projects of which everyone in New York is so proud, he has at the front door, if not closer, the pimps, the whores, the junkies – in a word, the danger of life in the ghetto. And the child knows this, though he doesn’t know why.

I still remember my first sight of New York. It was really another city when I was born – where I was born. We looked down over the Park Avenue streetcar tracks. It was Park Avenue, but I didn’t know what Park Avenue meant downtown. The Park Avenue I grew up on, which is still standing, is dark and dirty. No one would dream of opening a Tiffany’s on that Park Avenue, and when you go downtown you discover that you are literally in the white world. It is rich – or at least it looks rich. It is clean – because they collect garbage downtown. There are doormen. People walk about as though they owned where they are – and indeed they do. And it’s a great shock. It’s very hard to relate yourself to this. You don’t know what it means. You know – you know instinctively – that none of this is for you. You know this before you are told. And who is it for and who is paying for it? And why isn’t it for you?

Later on when you become a grocery boy or messenger and you try to enter one of those buildings a man says, “Go to the back door.” Still later, if you happen by some odd chance to have a friend in one of those buildings, the man says, “Where’s your package?” Now this by no means is the core of the matter. What I’m trying to get at is that by the time the Negro child has had, effectively, almost all the doors of opportunity slammed in his face, and there are very few things he can do about it. He can more or less accept it with an absolutely inarticulate and dangerous rage inside – all the more dangerous because it is never expressed. It is precisely those silent people whom white people see every day of their lives – I mean your porter and your maid, who never say anything more than “Yes Sir” and “No, Ma’am.” They will tell you it’s raining if that is what you want to hear, and they will tell you the sun is shining if that is what you want to hear. They really hate you – really hate you because in their eyes (and they’re right) you stand between them and life. I want to come back to that in a moment. It is the most sinister of the facts, I think, which we now face.

There is something else the Negro child can do, to. Every street boy – and I was a street boy, so I know – looking at the society which has produced him, looking at the standards of that society which are not honored by anybody, looking at your churches and the government and the politicians, understand that this structure is operated for someone else’s benefit – not for his. And there’s no reason in it for him. If he is really cunning, really ruthless, really strong – and many of us are – he becomes a kind of criminal. He becomes a kind of criminal because that’s the only way he can live. Harlem and every ghetto in this city – every ghetto in this country – is full of people who live outside the law. They wouldn’t dream of calling a policeman. They wouldn’t, for a moment, listen to any of those professions of which we are so proud on the Fourth of July. They have turned away from this country forever and totally. They live by their wits and really long to see the day when the entire structure comes down.

The point of all this is that black men were brought here as a source of cheap labor. They were indispensable to the economy. In order to justify the fact that men were treated as though they were animals, the white republic had to brainwash itself into believing that they were, indeed, animals and deserved to be treated like animals. Therefor it is almost impossible for any Negro child to discover anything about his actual history. The reason is that this “animal,” once he suspects his own worth, once he starts believing that he is a man, has begun to attack the entire power structure. This is why America has spent such a long time keeping the Negro in his place. What I am trying to suggest to you is that it was not an accident, it was not an act of God, it was not done by well-meaning people muddling into something which they didn’t understand. It was a deliberate policy hammered into place in or4der to make money from black flesh. And now, in 1963, because we have never faced this fact, we are in intolerable trouble.

The Reconstruction, as I read the evidence, was a bargain between the North and South to this effect: “We’ve liberated them from the land – and delivered them to the bosses.” When we left Mississippi to come North we did not come to freedom. We came to the bottom of the labor market, and we are still there. Even the Depression of the 1930’s failed to make a dent in Negroes’ relationship to white workers in the labor unions. Even today, so brainwashed is this republic that people seriously ask in what they suppose to be good faith, “What does the Negro want?” I’ve heard a great many asinine questions in my life, but that is perhaps the most asinine and perhaps the most insulting. But the point here is that people who ask that question, thinking that they ask it in good faith, are really the victims of this conspiracy to make Negroes believe they are less than human.

In order for me to live, I decided very early that some mistake had been made somewhere. I was not a “nigger” even though you called me one. But if I was a “nigger” in your eyes, there was something about you – there was something you needed. I had to realize when I was very young that I was none of those things I was told I was. I was not, for example, happy. I never touched a watermelon for all kinds of reasons that had been invented by white people, and I knew enough about life by this time to understand that whatever you invent, whatever you project, is you! So where we are no is that a whole country of people believe I’m a “nigger,” and I don’t , and the battle’s on! Because if I am not what I’ve been told I am, then it means that you’re not what you thought you were either! And that is the crisis.

It is not really a “Negro revolution” that is upsetting the country. What is upsetting the country is a sense of its own identity. If, for example, one managed to change the curriculum in all the schools so that Negroes learned more about themselves and their real contributions to this culture, you would be liberating not only Negroes, you’d be liberating white people who know nothing about their own history. And the reason is that if you are compelled to lie about one aspect of anybody’s history, you must lie about it all. If you have to lie about my real role here, if you have to pretend that I hoed all that cotton just because I loved you, then you have done something to yourself. You are mad.

Now let’s go back a minute. I talked earlier about those silent people - the porter and the maid – who, as I said, don’t look up at the sky if you ask them if it is raining, but look into your face. My ancestors and I were very well trained. We understood very early that this was not a Christian nation. It didn’t matter what you said or how often you went to church. My father and my mother and my grandfather and my grandmother knew that Christians didn’t act this way. It was a simple as that. And if that was so there was no point in dealing with white people in terms of their own moral professions, for they were not going to honor them. What one did was to turn away, smiling all the time, and tell white people what they wanted to hear. But people always accuse you of reckless talk when you say this.

All this means that there are in this country tremendous reservoirs of bitterness which have never been able to find an outlet, but may find an outlet soon. It means that well-meaning white liberals place themselves in great danger when they try to deal with Negroes as though they were missionaries. It means, in brief, that a great price is demanded to liberate all those silent people so that they can breathe for the first time and tell you what they think of you. And a price is demanded to liberate all those white children – some of them near forty - who have never grown up, and who never will grow up, because they have no sense of their identity.

What passes for identity in America is a series of myths about one’s heroic ancestors. It’s astounding to me, for example, that so many people really appear to believe that the country was founded by a band of heroes who wanted to be free. That happens not to be true. What happened was that some people left Europe because they couldn’t stay there any longer and had to go someplace else to make it. That’s all. They were hungry, they were poor, they were convicts. Those who were making it in England, for example, did not get on the Mayflower. That’s how the country was settled. Not by Gary Cooper. Yet we have a whole race of people, a whole republic, who believe the myths to the point where even today they select political representatives, as far as I can tell, by how closely they resemble Gary Cooper. Now this is dangerously infantile, and it shows in every level of national life. When I was living in Europe, for example, one of the worst revelations to me was the way Americans walked around Europe buying this and buying that and insulting everybody – not even out of malice, just because they didn’t know any better. Well, that is the way they have always treated me. They weren’t cruel; they just didn’t know you were alive. They didn’t know you had any feelings.

What I am trying to suggest here is that in the doing of all this for 100 years or more, it is the American white man who has long since lost his grip on reality. In some peculiar way, having created this myth about Negroes, and the myth about his own history, he created myths about the world so that, for example, he was astounded that some people could prefer Castro, astounded that there are people in the world who don’t go into hiding when they hear the word “Communism,” astounded that Communism is one of the realities of the twentieth century which we will not overcome by pretending that it does not exist. The political level in this country now, on the part of people who should know better, is abysmal.

The Bible says somewhere that where there is no vision the people perish. I don’t think anyone can doubt that in this country today we are menaced – intolerably menaced – by a lack of vision.

It is inconceivable that a sovereign people should continue, as we do so abjectly, to say, “I can’t do anything about it. It’s the government.” The government is the creation of the people. It is responsible to the people. And the people are responsible for it. No American has the right to allow the present government to say, when Negro children are being bombed and hosed and shot and beaten all over the Deep South, that there is nothing we can do about it. There must have been a day in this country’s life when the bombing of the children in Sunday School would have created a public uproar and endangered the life of a Governor Wallace. It happened here and there was no public uproar.

I began by saying that one of the paradoxes of education was that precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society. It is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person. And on the basis of the evidence – the moral and political evidence – one is compelled to say that this is a backward society. Now if I were a teacher in this school, or any Negro school, and I was dealing with Negro children, who were in my care only a few hours of every day and would then return to their homes and to the streets, children who have an apprehension of their future which with every hour grows grimmer and darker, I would try to teach them - I would try to make them know – that those streets, those houses, those dangers, those agonies by which they are surrounded, are criminal. I would try to make each child know that these things are the result of a criminal conspiracy to destroy him. I would teach him that if he intends to get to be a man, he must at once decide that his is stronger than this conspiracy and they he must never make his peace with it. And that one of his weapons for refusing to make his peace with it and for destroying it depends on what he decides he is worth. I would teach him that there are currently very few standards in this country which are worth a man’s respect. That it is up to him to change these standards for the sake of the life and the health of the country. I would suggest to him that the popular culture – as represented, for example, on television and in comic books and in movies – is based on fantasies created by very ill people, and he must be aware that these are fantasies that have nothing to do with reality. I would teach him that the press he reads is not as free as it says it is – and that he can do something about that, too. I would try to make him know that just as American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it, so is the world larger, more daring, more beautiful and more terrible, but principally larger – and that it belongs to him. I would teach him that he doesn’t have to be bound by the expediencies of any given administration, any given policy, any given morality; that he has the right and the necessity to examine everything. I would try to show him that one has not learned anything about Castro when one says, “He is a Communist.” This is a way of his learning something about Castro, something about Cuba, something, in time, about the world. I would suggest to him that his is living, at the moment, in an enormous province. America is not the world and if America is going to become a nation, she must find a way – and this child must help her to find a way to use the tremendous potential and tremendous energy which this child represents. If this country does not find a way to use that energy, it will be destroyed by that energy.

Frederick Douglass - The fourth of July for the Negro

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

No Shame Day

Yesterday was No Shame Day a day created by Bassey Ikpi, founder of The Siwe Project (go to A bunch of us shared stories of living with mental illness. One of the comments I got was from a woman in South Africa who stated that the stigma of mental illness is the same there. Sadly it's probably like that everywhere. I believe that the more people share the more it helps to create a different picture. Thanks Bassey.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I Am Me

I have no shame

My name is Jaha Zainabu and I have no shame. In March of this year I was diagnosed with a disorder called bipolar 2. For many years I had been dealing with mental bouncies from ups and downs to an extreme I knew wasn't "normal." I would go from high to uncontrollable HIGHS where I would be laughing beyond the joke, prancing around not easily able to be still and overall in an extremely good mood for reasons I couldn't understand and certainly not explain. Shortly after the high I would get very depressed again for reasons I could never understand. I went to see an herbologist once who looked through a tube and into my eyes, made some grunt and um hum noises then told me I had a "chemical imbalance." When I asked him what that was all he told me was, "Well, you know what chemicals are right?" Um, yeah. "And you know what an imbalance is right?" Okaaaa? "So that's what you have." After that I didn't bother checking it out.

I live mostly as an artist but usually have some kind of job on the side. My jobs are rarely jobs I have to go to every day and do the same routine. That helps. When I had jobs I had to go to every day and do the same thing at the same time, I felt incredibly trapped and the routine after a while would trigger a depression episode. When I started having severe depression episodes and uncontrollable ups too often I knew that I needed to seek professional help. On the day I saw my therapist I sat on the couch in her zen like office and was so off. It was her first time meeting me and even she could see it.

I told her details of my depressive thoughts and she called a friend of mine who worked nearby to take me to the hospital that day. I am forever thankful to her for that. I was later checked into the hospital and treated for a week. I have tried different methods of treatment and have found medication along with prayer, journaling, blogging, walking and art to work best for me right now.

I speak publicly about the disease because I want others who may be experiencing it to know that they are not alone. It makes me sad and angry when I hear messages from the pulpit, from parents and others in postitions of influence and authority putting down getting mental help. For some reason, if I break my leg or need help regulating my blood pressure then it's encouraged that I go see a doctor, but if I need help dealing with a mental issue then I should only pray it away or not claim it. Anything but see a mental health professional about it.

Well, I do believe in the power of prayer and that's what gave me the strength to go and get help. Too many of us are living with post-traumatic stress and other disorders and need help but are afraid to reach out. I speak publicly for myself and for them. Once I asked my godmother why I go through so much. Why artists go through so much. She quickly responded, "because you will tell it."

My name is Jaha Zainabu and I have no shame.

Please visit and twitter - the siweproject #NoShame

Deana and me

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lauryn Hill | Every Ghetto Every City

Erykah Badu feat. Common - Love Of My Life

Lauryn Hill - Sweetest Thing

Brandy - Best Friend + Lyrics

Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill Speech PT.2

Lauryn Hill Speech

Lauryn Hill's song against the illuminati - I Get Out

Public Enemy - Fight The Power

Tracy Chapman - Give me one reason

tracy chapman - tracy chapman - mountain o'things


"If you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into you."

because love

(this poem is not finished. who knows if/when it will be.)

love comes with red caveat
that i tread trepidatiously
on polished and calloused toes
into blue deep waters too heavy
too plastic for my
always spread cocoa buttered fingers

i am forever hardheaded
constantly seeking
what if i am never stable enough for this
i convince myself that i am all in
but my befuddled heart still knows it is being protected
remembering my befores

i only know love from a side eye view
my hand is always at the door