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#If I die in police custody

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If I die in police custody, I did not kill myself. Ask questions and ask loudly.  Tell them you must see the video tape. Protest and do more than hashtag my name.

If I die in police custody, I did not kill myself. Know that I was murdered and that I deserved better. And that I thought it could happen but I prayed that it wouldn’t.

If I die while in police custody, I did not kill myself. I cooperated. I gave them my license and registration. I stepped out of the vehicle and placed my hands on top of the car. I did not kick the policeman.

If I die while in police custody, I did not kill myself. I have plans for the future. I am too blessed to let their anger and disrespect drive me to despair.

If I die in police custody, I did not kill myself. Give them anger, resistance and passion for justice. Let them find peace and forgiveness elsewhere.

If I die in police custody, I did not kill myself. Remember that I loved you but I loved me more. Believe that.

I did not kill myself.

Natural woman

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Yesterday, I had lunch at one of my favorite Mom and Pop restaurants. Well, actually I don’t know if there is a Mom, I’ve only seen Pop. Anyway the food is good, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the  laid back lunch crowd is diverse.

I sat in my second favorite booth and ordered my food. I always sit facing the front of the restaurant so that I can see out of the huge glass windows. The view isn’t much. Just the parking lot and the busy street beyond but I get a good look at everyone who comes in.

Yesterday was one of the sunny southern spring days that reminds you that summer is just a few moments away. Shorts, sandals and tank tops are already survival gear.  I dug into my “meat and three” plate of baked chicken, cabbage, collards and potatoes. Yes, I know that’s heavy for lunch but I don’t eat here everyday and after all, this is the South. 

Anyway, I spotted a beautiful woman across the parking lot toward the restaurant. She wore a black jumpsuit with high heels and understated jewelry. Her hair was in a huge lush Afro that grudgingly gave way to the wind now and then.   She strutted, more than walked, with her hand bag firmly hung from her bent elbow.  In one hand, she held her cell phone while the other moved leisurely back and forth in time with her steps.

She walked with the confidence that I love to see in early middle aged black women. 

My sister! I thought as she stepped toward me.  Just then, a man approached walking down the sidewalk toward the restaurant. He seemed a little hurried but there is no way he did not see my sister approaching.   He reached the door just ahead of her, swung it open, walked through…and let the door slam shut in her face!

I was shocked!  Again, this is the south and good manners are expected. Letting the door close on a woman is inexcusably rude!  There was an audible gasp in the restaurant. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one who saw what happened. 

The sister, more than surprised I’m sure, hesitated for a fraction of a heartbeat then  proceeded to the door. She opened it wide and stepped in.  She removed her shades revealing a slight sheen of perspiration around her eyes. 

Our eyes met. “That was so rude and disrespectful!” she stated quietly. 

“Yes, it was,” I responded. I shook my head a bit in sympathy as she walked on. A few seconds later, I heard the gentleman seated in the booth behind me say, “That was rude, ma’am. I wouldn’t have done that. Some of us do have manners!”

I didn’t turn around but I smiled to myself because that gentleman had just saved the day for my sister…and me too. 

We Don’t Need Another Hero?

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Yes, I was listening to the song by Tina Turner. It seems to come on the radio when everything seems kind of bleak.  It’s an instant pick me up.  Downright anthem-ish.

I really got into that song today for some reason I cannot readily identify.

We don’t need another hero,
We don’t need to know the way home,
All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome.

We could find something to love about those lyrics? Isn’t that just the kind of music you like to ride with?  You know when you’re driving along and have your dark shades on, AC blasting and you’re on your way back to work after lunch. And you really don’t feel like going back to work.  As a matter of fact, you’d rather go almost anywhere than back to work.

So’s Tina sang to me. Made me imagine myself in that metal mesh and wire  ThunderDome outfit she wore as Aunty Entity in Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome.  So I walked in the office with that music playing in my head like my own private theme song.

And made it through the rest of the day. Thank you, Aunty Entity!

Letter to My Lost Lover

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Dear Sleep,

I dont know what is happening with us lately. I’ve noticed a change in our relationship. No, no, you’ve changed. I feel like you have been avoiding me. You don’t come around like you used to and I have to spend long nights wondering where you are and when I’ll see you again.

Sleep, you know I love you and I need you in my life! We used to be so close and we had such big dreams together. You even introduced me to your brothers, Nap and Snooze. I grew to love them almost as much as I love you. Then Snore showed up. Although Snore and I didn’t get along very well, I tolerated him since he was your love child. I made it work just for you.

Oh, how can you just leave me here with these bags! Yes, your bags that I carry under my own eyes for you. You are such a tease. You make me think you will come to me but I wait and wait long, dark hours just to have you stand me up. My friends have suggested that I cheat on you with Tylenol PM or even Ambien… but I don’t want to do that. I’ve been your girl for far too long.

Can you tell how much I miss you? Remember when I used to call you my best friend? We had our own sign, remember? I used to take a deep breath and hold my hand over my mouth. We called it “yawning” and everyone knew that meant I was missing you and that you would be along real soon.

Listen, I think we can work this out. I think we can still make it. When I close my eyes, I know you are near and I don’t believe that you want to leave me. So, let’s try it again. Ok? Tell you what. Let’s meet tonight… Let’s meet at our old spot. I will wear something special, maybe those flannel pajamas you used to like so much. I’ve got a new pillow that I know you will love. I’ll even make our favorite drink, hot chamomile with extra milk.

Come on, say you’ll come. I’ll be there in the dark, waiting for you.

Hoping to see you soon,
Tav

Black Man Running

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It seems odd to me that, at this time of year when I am usually sad about and missing my mother, my father has been on my mind so much.  A lot of recent circumstances and conversations have focused my thoughts on him and who he was and how I became who I am because of him and, as you will soon learn about, the lack of him.

I wrote this piece about my father a while back.  I have never published it and have only allowed one person to read it before now…but it seems I am in a period of healing and prayerfully, renewal.  I guess it is time that I let go of some of the things that I have held onto so tightly for so long.  So, here it is.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was 5 AM.  Early morning early cold 5 AM and he had just finished his shift.

Gray workshirt and pants black workboots over full body thermals under dark work jacket against early morning early cold 5 AM cold.

Midwestern early cold wind cut across his head and face, so cold he pulled a dark wool cap from his dark work jacket pocket and against early morning early cold pulled it over his needing a haircut head and ears

     ahhh warm.

He walks tucks metal lunch bucket under his arm other hand casual waves

      See Ya 

with that you know upward nod to his boys and heads off to home.

Him, a husband now not so new anymore but still amazing after five years

that he goes home,

home that word so amazing that he has to say it twice sometimes

     I’m going home Man home to a wife so pretty and sweetmean

and his son just three and looking exactly like him

still sleeping now and his baby daughter tiny brown delicate smelling like a new baby daughter

powdery and made to be hugged

thinking about her made him smile and more warm so

he walked faster

faster to home

home where his pretty wife now awake and shuffling softly through the house,

their home,

would be rubbing sleep from her brown eyes and ironing her skirt for work

so she would be dressed and in the kitchen stirring soft scrambled eggs

glancing at two strips of bacon and hoping for enough butter for toast,

coffee in the old percolator that her mother gave them

said it made coffee good enough for his father in law while father in law

worked at the steel mill and now that son in law was on at the plant

he would need good black coffee too.

Thinking of his pretty wife moving her lovely hips back and forth in front of the stove timing his eggs so that the eggs would be hot soft scrambled the way he liked

just as he walked in the door not too cooled down or not yet ready so he would have to wait

made him move faster

he started a jog to get home faster

his home where his pretty wife would be warming a plate and cup for him

and son who looked just like him big headed and long brown legs

already the eyes of a son who knows his father works but plays with him too and

delicate baby daughter who needed lots of hugs.

The jogging became a run

a feeling good in the early morning early cold run that would get him home and

when he got home sooner because he ran,

she would pretend to be angry and it would make him smile while he ate his soft scrambled eggs that she would pout and

he would smack her lightly on the behind

Him only 27 and not spotless but now with a home with a pretty wife

a lookalike son and tiny new daughter

Oh he ran faster

on the early morning early cold sidewalk past the bus stop where he didn’t stop

because to catch the bus meant a quarter the he needed to save towards the car that

he wanted to buy so she didn’t have to catch the bus in the early morning early cold to get to work and

some of the fellows from the neighborhood on the way to the dayshift hollered

     Hey Man Where you going in such a hurry

but he only ran faster

running

     home Man home

running

If he got home in time he could watch her finish getting dressed

tucking her blouse in her skirt while he finished his toast and sipped his coffee

then help her bundle the children for the trip to her mother’s so he could sleep,

running past the barber shop and Best Place In Town for Ribs

     Black Man Running! Slow down Man! HaHaHa You running from the law?

Running

she would pretend to fuss over what to have for dinner running so he could tell her not to worry he would cook before his shift

running

and she would turn and smile at him in their house with his son who looked like him and knew daddy worked but played with him too and his delicate baby daughter who needed hugs

Running

Running home to the reason he worked lived breathed ran

running to home his pretty wife and looks just like me son and tiny new daughter who needed hugs

     Stop Police!

Running

he only heard the sound of his pretty wife saying to his son

     You can sleep a few more minutes until Daddy gets home

running

so he could wrap his son up warm in a blanket and his delicate baby girl for the trip to her mothers before she went to work

     Stop or I’ll shoot!

running

he heard a loud bang

running

he began to turn but the bullet spun him around

     No!

away from home

     BANG OHMYGOD BANG

     Home! I need to get home!

warmth spread over his chest and stomach but he wasn’t running anymore

     Did they just shoot that boy?

     Get in the house.  It aint our business.  Go now!

     Oh my God! The police just shot that boy lives down the way!

     Did you see that?

     Hey, why yall shoot that boy?  He wasn’t doing nothing.

His legs still wanted to move kicking a little now and again

     Home Man Home

to his pretty sweetmean wife and his lookalike son who would yell

     Wake Up Daddy Wake up!

at the funeral and his tiny delicate baby daughter who would not get his hugs

but would grow up to write about how he got killed

running

in the early morning early cold on the way home to his pretty wife who was making him soft scrambled eggs two slices of bacon hoping for enough butter for toast.

For My Father, William                                                                                                           (c) May 2, 2006

 

Regifting

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This past Christmas, a close relative of mine gave me a holiday package.  You know the kind that contain summer sausages and cheese? This one had two different kinds of summer sausage, a package of crackers, some spreadable mustard and spreadable cheese. I was delighted!  I thought this is the perfect gift!  My husband and I will be able to enjoy this on New Year’s eve.  I took the package home and stored it as mentioned on the directions.  I actually went ahead and put it in the refrigerator.

On New Year’s Eve, I made a beautiful snack tray for my family.  It is our usual New Year’s Eve tradition to enjoy snacks as we listen to music, watch comedy shows, sip champagne and wait for the ball to drop at midnight. The champagne was chilled. The candles were lit.  I had sliced some lovely fruit and decided to add the summer sausage, cheese and crackers to our snack tray.  I went into the refrigerator to retrieve the snack package and went to open one of the flavored summer sausages. Much to my horror, the sausage was molded!  There were large areas of mold on both packages of sausage.

I searched the package to see if I could find the expiration date.  Much to my amazement, the package indicated that it had expired in February 2010!  The package was almost 2 years old! Disgusted, I threw the entire package into the trash can.

I called my relative and thanked him for the snack gift and I also informed him that the expiration date was almost 2 years ago. I wanted to make sure that he had not purchased an expired package. He was embarrassed and admitted that this was a re-gift. (duh!)  He said that someone had given the package to him and that he had passed it on to me because he did not eat that kind of meat.  Hmmmm… As I always say, there ain’t nothing like family!

Well, lesson learned here:  If you are going to re-gift, make sure that your gift is appropriate and within the expiration date.

Happy new year!

2012 in the Middle

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Well, yeah, I guess this year I’m ready to accept that I am in my middle years.  For some, I’m actually a senior citizen! Yeah that’s right, I can get senior citizens’ discounts and I’ve got my AARP card! So I guess that’s it. I’m literally in my middle.  I have decided that for me this is going to be nothing but positive so this blog is about how I’m going to start 2012.

I decided to take 2012 and do the 31 day reset challenge featured on the Happy Black Woman blog. I’m going to do 31 days of activities and exercises that should give me the ability to create new possibilities for my life. Give me the ability to think about my goals and actually find my way to higher place in my life and that’s exactly what I want in 2012.

To get started, I completed the first challenge.  I chose a mantra for myself: Think like a queen.  I chose this mantra from a quote from Oprah Winfrey and although I haven’t been a really big Oprah Winfrey fan, I do respect and admire her for her accomplishments, for her perseverance, and for all the struggles that we probably don’t even know about that she had to endure to get to where she is today.  Oprah’s quote says “Think like a Queen.  A Queen is never afraid to fail.  A Queen knows that failure is nothing but a stepping stone to greatness.”

My theme song for 2012 is the same theme song that I have had for years and that song is “I’m Every Woman”, the Chala Khan version.  With all due respect to Whitney Houston, Chaka’s version has brought me through many days and tight situations so I am partial to that one.

The third thing that I did to get started on my 31 day life reset was to choose a notebook to keep my exercises and notes.  An actual physical notebook although anybody that knows me knows that I’m such a techie.  I have an iPad and all of that and I’m actually recording this on a dictation app for my blog but I like the idea of a physical notebook. I like the idea of an ink pen sliding over paper.  So I chose a notebook that I have been using for a few months as a kind of spiritual notebook or a gratitude journal.  I really like this journal and I have plenty of room in it for my 31 day challenge.

I am excited about this life reset and ask that you pray for my motivation and perseverance. If you are interested in joining me and others on the 31 Day Life Reset Challenge, check out happyblackwoman.com.  Rosetta Thurman has to the whole thing laid out for us and I think it’s going to be great. I’d love to see all of us take 2012 and make it into the most wonderful, positive, powerful, productive year that we have ever had!

Y’all take care. Happy new year!

Taviaz

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