Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Melanin Monroe

Karma comes back to you Hard

Now don't you understand man universal law
What you throw out comes back to you, star
Never underestimate those who you scar
Cause karma, karma, karma comes back to you hard
You can't hold God's people back that long
The chain of Shatan wasn't made that strong
Trying to pretend like your word is your bond
But until you do right, all you do will go wrong
Now some might mistake this for just a simple song
And some don't know what they have 'til it's gone
Now even when you're gone you can still be reborn
And, from the night can arrive the sweet dawn
Now, some might listen and some might shun
And some may think that they've reached perfection
If you look closely you'll see what you've become
Cause you might win some but you just lost one 

My escape from reality for a few days

A friend on Facebook recently said you should do something that scares you. Every time I board a plane, I do something that scares me.
I flew to Toronto this morning.

I love the city and the attitude of Canadians. They're so polite, and always apologizing for something!
I only know the people I stayed with when I was here in April via Airbnb. I didn't tell them I'd be here. I stayed at another place through Airbnb.
What's scarier than being in a different country all by yourself?
I wanted to experience Toronto as if I was dropped off in the middle of the city left to my own devices. I love traveling. I always wished I had someone to travel with, but I'm okay with being by myself. 

Though I'm trying to get back to Madison Wisconsin or close to it, I can see myself living here as well. For real. The city has got everything that the entire state of Oregon is lacking. 
And I loved my place. Look what $55 per day got me. An apartment all to myself for 4 days. The owner lives 4 floors below this apartment. 

Thanks AirBnb!

A Life in the Day of Benjamin André

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

BE (basement elevation)

You are a piece of the puzzle of someone else’s life. You may never know where you fit, but others will fill the holes in their lives with pieces of you.
– Bonnie Arbor

The right ting

Mi did at a seafood restaurant todeh having mi lunch an mi ritual before mi even open mi mouth to nyam to sey grace; to " tank God fi dis blessing dat mi bout to receive inna Jesus' name amen. " Half way during mi meal an olda couple approached mi an dat it make dem feel gud to si sum'ady out inna public saying grace mi say thanks an ' mi always sey grace.'
Dem talk to mi fi a few minutes den say goodbye mi say bye wen mi did finished an ask fi mi bill mi did tell mi bill did pay inna full by dat couple.

Always duh di right ting mi a Christian 24 hours a day mi proud of being a Christian yuh neva kno who's watching yuh


We're all born originals but most of us die as copies.  Do you want to be an original? 

I heard this in a dream

Go in, and let God do the rest.


Monday, August 29, 2016

The Way Out Is Through

From the creative mind of Alieux Casey-George,  comes  the novella The Way Out Is Through 

available now for free, on Kindle Unlimited,  or just $3 from Amazon Kindle. 

#amazonkindle, #amazon #kindle

He would have turned 58 today

Beyoncé brings mothers of four black men killed in the US to MTV VMAs

Beyonce’s guests at the MTV Video Music Awards included the mothers of four unarmed black men killed in the US: Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and Eric Garner.
All of their sons were killed by people who were armed, including police officers, transit officers and a volunteer neighborhood security worker. Activists have used their deaths as examples of racism, especially in policing.
Before the show began, Beyoncé posed on the awards show’s special white carpet with Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden-Head; Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton; Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson and Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr.

The mothers were also featured in Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade, holding photos of their deceased sons – Brown, the 18-year-old fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri; Martin, the 17-year-old fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida; Grant, the 22-year-old fatally shot by a transportation security office in Oakland, California; and Garner, the 43-year-old who died after being placed in a chokehold by police in New York City.
Martin’s death inspired the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew exponentially after Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri and the intense protests across the city that followed.
After Lemonade was released in April, McSpadden said Beyoncé had instructed the mothers to appear “regal” in the music video.
“I tried to hold it together, but anytime I’m talking about my son – looking at a picture – I just think about all that’s gone and how he had so much ahead of him,”McSpadden told Rolling Stone. “So I appreciate her for being bold enough to confront things and be sensitive at the same time.”
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who has worked on cases involving Martin and Brown, said in April that Beyoncé had personally invited the mothers because she was inspired by them.
“Our clients were honored that out of the hundreds of mothers who unfortunately have to join a growing group of women who lose children to senseless gun violence that Beyoncé selected their sons to honor,” Crump told the Tallahassee Democrat. “They were very pleased that she would use her platform to promote and raise awareness of the need for change”.
Along with the mothers, Beyoncé appeared on the white carpet with other artists who collaborated on Lemonade including model Winnie Harlow and actress Quvenzhané Wallis.

Andre 3000 - Sixteen (Solo)

Southside With You

I was the only one in the theatre but I don't care. This was a really good movie. And I like that Barack was listening to Janet Jackson's "Miss You Much" on the way to the date.

The main challenge Southside With You sets for itself isn’t a very difficult one. Richard Tanne’s gentle romantic drama charts a first date from its uneasy opening to its hopeful conclusion, with its protagonist Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter), as a skeptical young lawyer being wooed by subordinate at her firm. The film, at times, tries to cheekily inject some suspense into whether she’ll be won over. But given that her associate is a young Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers)—her future husband and President of the United States—the film inspires very little “will they, won’t they?” nail-biting.
So the real task for Southside With You may be justifying its own existence. In portraying Michelle’s cautiousness and Barack’s halting, but eventually successful charm offensive, the first-time writer-director Tanne revels in the qualities Obama would later use to captivate much of the country. But with President Obama still in office, there’s a sense that it may be too early to retell the story of his and Michelle’s first date—even if the election for his successor is still months away. But leave the oddity of Southside With You’s existence aside, and the film is still compelling for the way it celebrates a powerful partnership by unraveling its earliest moments, and I loved every minute of it. 

I lived!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

BE (Basement Elevation)

Sometimes if you live in your truth, you might ruffle some feathers. So what?
That, I can live with. 


Teacher And Poet Kate Rushin On Weaving Stories

When Kate Rushin is teaching third-graders how to write persona poems using the story of the Amistad captives, she's connecting them to a history that is personal to her.
Rushin is an in-demand teacher and storyteller in Connecticut. She's a published poet, a former writer-in-residence and director of the Center for African-American Studies at Wesleyan, and a panelist on Colin McEnroe's WNPR radio Friday culture roundup "The Nose."
"What is it about storytelling? Of course I'm telling stories in my poetry," she says. "A lot of my poems have to do with my personal family history … and I like to think about [how] my history is connected to larger American history. I have also been doing a number of poems inspired by art. And that's something I did when I worked with the Poetry Outreach program of Sunken Garden through the Hill-Stead Museum. Writing poems and teaching poems inspired by art. I still do that in my current writing group, which is Connecticut River Poets."
Rushin's personal history helps her relate to the Amistad story of African captives on their way to slavery who rebelled, took over the ship, were recaptured and tried, and eventually set free.
She grew up in Lawnside, N.J., a small town in Camden County, started in 1840 by Quaker abolitionists who purchased the land to house black families. Incorporated in 1926, it is believed to be the first self-governing African American town in the North. Rushin is the great-great-granddaughter of Davie Arthur, who with his two brothers and sister, escaped from bondage on the eastern shore of Maryland and fled to Haddonfield, N.J., through the Quaker run Underground Railroad.
Her memories are of a close-knit community. She was a shy kid. When her mother died in 1962, her aunts and grandparents paid her special attention and helped the 10-year-old find solace in poetry.
"That first Christmas after my mom passed her sisters asked me what I wanted. I told them nothing. But you must want something, they said. Books, I said. Poetry books."
They gave her "The Best Loved Poems of the American People," and "Poetry of the Negro," edited by Harlem Renaissance writers Arna Bontemps and Langston Hughes. She added it to the six-volume set of world poetry that her grandmother gave her when she was 7.
"I didn't think I was going to be a poet," Rushin says. "I thought I would follow my mom and my aunt into some kind of social work."
In the sixth grade she decided to memorize and recite Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" at an assembly. The long-memory poem about a dead woman was a bold choice for a young girl.
"I think about that now and wonder if I was stiff. But later my cousins told me they were amazed I could memorize all that."
She attended Mt. Zion Methodist Church and remembers a lady in a flowered dress and big hat getting up to recite the poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar, who was known as the Negro poet laureate.
"That had a big effect on me," she says.
There were four daily newspapers in her house and a big emphasis on reading. She graduated from local public schools and went to Oberlin, majoring in communications and theater. She joined an African American student-run theater group and took classes with Calvin C. Hernton, a social and literary critic best known for his book "Sex and Racism in America" She was familiar with Field, a poetry magazine created at Oberlin.
"But I didn't really know or understand the world of professional American poetry," she says. "I didn't know how all the little magazines were connected to the big universities."
She ended up teaching at South Boston High School, at colleges as an adjunct about black women writers and working at New Words, a feminist bookstore in Cambridge. Her first collection of poetry, "The Black Back-Ups," was published in 1993 by Firebrand Books, a feminist/lesbian publishing house.
In the 1990s she earned her MFA in creative writing at Brown University, which led to her posts at Wesleyan. She was invited to read at Sunken Garden in the summer of 1994 and read again 10 years later. This summer she attended the 20th anniversary of Cave Canem, organized to support black writers. She is a fellow there. After Wesleyan she taught at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and was the dramaturge for the production of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin In The Sun." Her poem, "My Lord, What A Morning," about singer Marian Anderson, was commissioned by The New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas/Connecticut Freedom Trail Poetry Project.
She's been living the life of a for-hire poet and teacher for a long time.
She was invited to teach in the Amistad Pilot Program/Bringing the Connecticut Freedom Trail to Life, which is where she met the third-graders. They study the life of Sarah Margru Kinson, which is told in first person in "Africa is My Home." Kinson was known as Magulu in Mendeland (Sierra Leone) when at 9 she was captured by slave traders, taken to Cuba, then sold and put aboard the Amistad. After freedom and her return to West Africa, she came back to America and attended Oberlin College (just as Rushin did later).
"I performed a poem I wrote called 'The Rapper As Light' for them to get us started," Rushin says about her approach to the third graders. She is not a rapper and it's not her favorite music, but she says "it's fun and the kids like it and it's a place to start."
She starts reciting and the years of theater training and public speaking shine through in her performance.
"I am bad and tough enough, super cool and super jive. Just listen to my rap and don't tell me lies. My lips are all honey and my heart is pure gold. My clothes are all fine and my rap is bold."
"It's funny because I was commissioned to write this poem and years later I find it useful as a teaching tool for persona poems." (In persona poems the writer takes on another character and writes in the first person.) She starts the kids with poems such as "I'm a Little Teapot," then gets them to take on African animal personas so they write in the voice of a lion. "Then we switch to real people and I have them write their own poems.
"I'll try different things to engage them. They start relating to the little girl in the Amistad book, [who] is a real person. I get them to think about what life was like for her in Africa, then what is was [like] in captivity, then again as a free person."
She has the young poets read aloud to each other, then exchange poems and have another read it.
"There is value in hearing the poem out loud and then hearing how another interprets it."
Rushin sees an importance to the work of passing on the stories.
"I think it endures because people make a connection. What I have come to see over time for myself and through students and other people I work with is that engagement in the arts whether it's poetry or drawing or music or theater, allows us to bring our best selves forward."
Copyright © 2016, Hartford Courant

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Top 5

My top 5 all-time (maybe 10) favorite male singers

Al Green

Marvin Gaye
Howard Hewett

Kenny Lattimore

Luther Vandross

Stevie Wonder

Teddy Pendergrass


Michael Jackson

Peabo Bryson
& Honorable Mention,


Halle Berry is in a new kidnapping thriller that looks so intense — here's the trailer

Halle Berry is not a mom you want to mess with in the trailer for her latest movie.
The first look at Berry's latest kidnapping thriller, aptly named "Kidnap," is now out via an exclusive to USA Today
Berry plays Karla McCoy, a mother who will stop at nothing to rescue her son after he is kidnapped at a park. Instead of filing a report and waiting, Berry's character takes action and enters into what looks like an epic car chase that will at one point see her driving backwards on a highway.
"Being a parent, I understood this in a very visceral way. I play an ordinary mom forced to act in extraordinary ways," Berry told USA Today. "I got to put in a little of what Halle Berry would do in this situation. That was fun."
Berry actually drove during the chase scenes as a stunt driver controlled the maneuvers from a roof pod. So those petrified expressions are real.
"Driving backward in highway traffic, that was a first for me," Berry told USA Today. "That looking-back visual of cars speeding toward you at 80 miles per hour, your heart leaves your body."
This is the first lead film role Berry has done since 2013's "The Call," which was coincidentally also a thriller about Berry trying to help rescue a kidnapped teen. 
"You took the wrong kid," Berry says in the trailer before she ferociously attacks the likely kidnapper with a shovel.
Watch the trailer:
I will be at the theater, Day One. 

My umbilical cord

 As attached as I am to my iPhone, I can't imagine how I ever survived before smartphones were invented. I remember saying the same thing about microwaves and vcrs in the 80s!  A couple weeks ago I went camping,  and far far up in the mountains I didn't have a signal, so I didn't have access to the internet or phonecalls for 24 hours. Though I enjoyed myself, I was still anxious, and as soon as we were able to get a signal, I checked facebook immediately. I missed nothing. I had about 76 notifications, none of which were addressed to me.They were all political, and some were of people posting that they had lunch or dinner somewhere-the usual mundane stuff I could live without.  I had no texts, and no voicemails. I felt like I had wasted all the time being anxious for nothing.

Yesterday for the first time I left my iPhone at home intentionally while hanging out with friends-the only two friends from my previous job that have  consistently kept in touch with me. I decided that when I was home relaxing and they insisted that I get dressed and meet them out somwehere, that I didn't need my iPhone to connect with anyone else.

I was with my friends.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Anderson .Paak - Room in Here (feat. The Game & Sonyae Elise)

Black Writers Rally To Save Langston Hughes’ Home

A black artist collective is trying to raise money to keep the space occupied by the literary giant and turn it into a cultural space and museum.

The home occupied by one of the great leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes, still stands on 127th Street in Harlem today.
Hughes used the top floor of the home as his workroom from 1947 to his death in 1967; it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
The current owner, who remains anonymous, listed the unoccupied dwelling for $1 million (which still has his typerwriter on a shelf) a few years ago, but it did not sell.
CNN Money reports that in a rapidly gentrifying New York, the home is now worth over $3 million.
Now that it’s on the market, writer Renee Watson has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $150,000 to rent the home and turn it into a cultural center.
On the fundraiser’s home page, Watson writes,
For the past ten years, I’ve walked past the brownstone where Langston Hughes lived and wondered why it was empty. How could it be that his home wasn’t preserved as a space for poets, a space to honor his legacy? I’d pass the brownstone, shake my head, and say, “Someone should do something.” I have stopped saying, “Someone should do something” and decided that someone is me.
Change is happening in Harlem and I believe it is important that in a place like Harlem, the historical and cultural spaces where African American pioneers lived and created be preserved. This is not just for nostalgic reasons. I see a need for young people to know about and understand the legacy they are a part of; the artists and activists who paved the way for them. I also believe artists need affordable spaces to create and share their work. Because of this belief, I am launching I, Too, Arts Collective [and] our goal is to lease and renovate the brownstone where Langston Hughes lived in Harlem as a way to not only preserve his legacy but to build on it and impact young poets and artists. We welcome you to join us in our endeavor.
 Over 250 people, many of them black writers, have given money in support and so far, the initiative to save Hughes’ house has raised almost $34,000.“Hughes is deeply influential and important not only to me, but many writers of color,” says author Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the National Book Award for Brown Girl Dreaming, which opens with a Hughes poem.The great fear is that the funds to rent and restore the home won’t be raised in time.Watson says she has spoken to the owner, who says she would definitely sell it, but “like me, she doesn’t want it to become condos or a coffee shop.”
One can only hope that the legacy of one of our greatest poets, authors and cultural critics will be preserved before it’s too late.

To donate to the fund, please go to the  I, Too, Arts Collective Indigogo page.

--Angela Bronner Helm

I don't normally contribute to these things, but my speech therapists introduced me to Langston Hughes' poetry when I was about 7. She was looking for ways to calm me down, something in which I can escape. That was poetry. Langston Hughes's poetry.  I'm unemployed, but I wanted to contribute, so I contributed 20 bucks. I'd contribute more if I could.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Top 5

My all-time top five (well, 10, because I couldn't break it down any further) favorite female singers:

Minnie Ripperton
Thelma Houston

Stephanie Mills
Miki Howard
Aretha Franklin

Diana Ross

Chante Moore

Chaka Khan

Donna Summer

Oleta Adams

Canada Would Gladly Take Omar McLeod From Homophobic Jamaica

I don't know about you, but if I just created history for my country on a world stage and my fellow citizens reacted by calling me derogatory names that could potentially put my life in danger, I would seriously think about moving to another country where people see people for the human beings they are and nothing less.

Sadly, Jamaican athlete Omar McLeod was not so lucky, even after capturing his country's first gold medal in the men's 110-metre hurdles at the 2016 Olympic Games, currently taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Dne response left many familiar with the Jamaican vernacular in shock. It read "Goldfish" and was tweeted from manufacturer Lasco's account. What's the problem? In Jamaica, the term "fish" is among the words used to belittle gay men, and is also pulled out when a man doesn't appear to be "macho" enough in a society with a big machismo culture.

While the company apologized and explained that an employee hacked its account and has since been terminated -- a move that paves the way for more tolerance -- many Jamaicans on social media used the opportunity to let the world know that a gay athlete would not be welcomed in their country, even if that athlete is an outstanding Jamaican flying Jamaica's flag.

In the comment section of one online news article, the reactions reminded us of how many Jamaicans feel about the LGBTQ community. I've rewritten some of the language for those who do not understand patois.
"Free speech... she said what she saw. He behaved effeminate when he won. Him no (he doesn't) look straight."
"If the employee want use her own account and call the young man battyman (gay man), that' her business..."
"I didn't even cheer after the race because of his reaction to the win... a fish is a fish in water or out."
"America backs battam man (gay men) and that's why they light up the place with the batty (gay) colored lights (rainbow lights)."
Interestingly enough, that reference to the coloured lights being lit up is about the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica marking a significant event in the country's history -- Gay Pride Week, which angered homophobes -- much like when the country's attorney general blasted the embassy for flying the rainbow flag in Jamaica following the Orlando Massacre, which left 49 LGBTQ members dead.
Trust me, I know how crazy that sounds, but it doesn't surprise me one bit, as I lived in Jamaica for five years and saw enough for me to make the decision to stay deep inside the closet, while attending university.

The sad thing is that Jamaica has a large LGBTQ population with many closeted gays from every walk of life. Yet, Jamaicans choose to bash every man that has "feminine tendencies" and women with "masculine tendencies."

This type of attitude can be seen across the Caribbean which, oftentimes, lead to both suspected and openly gay members of the LGBTQ community being harassed and discriminated against.

Why can't we just accept people for who they are? It is time for Jamaica and other Caribbean islands to recognize that homophobia does more harm than good. We are all human beings and our sexual orientation should not take away from our achievements... on or off the track.

What will happen to Omar now?
Ultimately it shouldn't matter if Omar is gay or straight, but if he is and Jamaicans cannot celebrate a gay athlete who has made their country proud, then please ship him to Canada as quickly as possible. We'd welcome him with open hearts and open minds.

But knowing the hypocrisy that tends to lift its ugly head in Jamaica and other Caribbean territories, Jamaicans will most likely close their eyes and end the homosexual accusations and go back to singing Omar's praises... as long as he continues to bring in the gold medals.
--Tasheka Lavann, LGBTQ Activist, Singer, Motivational Speaker, YouTube Channel Host, Instagram Blogger and MAX Model.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


If I have learned nothing else in my life, I have learned that I can depend on God. I know now, without a shadow of a doubt, that God can and always will hold me up, sit me down, push me forward, pull me back, turn me around, keep me in line, teach me what I need to know, and remind me of what I already know.

--Iyanla Vanzant

I'm in a Me'shell Ndegeocello mood today

and last but defnitely not least,

T B T - Silk, Keith Sweat, & Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Who's bigger in Jamaica, Usain Bolt or Bob Marley? One answer.

On Sunday, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won a gold medal, his third consecutive Olympic victory in the men's 100-meter race. And 24-year old Jamaican runner Elaine Thompson took the women's gold.
Not long after Bolt's victory lap, NBC announcer Bob Costas suggested Bolt may be bigger even than Jamaican music legend Bob Marley.

"With apologies to all you reggae fans, I think that Bolt has even outdistanced Marley, the way he outdistances the field," Costas declared. For his part, Bolt says he’s honored even by the comparison. So the question is this: Is Usain Bolt bigger than Bob Marley? The comparison has prompted a spirited discussion on social media.

“I would say no, right now,” says Jamaican journalist Zahra Burton, an avid track and field fan who’s based in Kingston.
“As a journalist looking on and knowing the magnitude of what Bob Marley has meant, not just from a musical standpoint, but from a political standpoint here in Jamaica, I would say no at this point. But you just never know. I mean, if Bolt can do sub-19 seconds as he’s hoping to do in the 200-meter race, will that happen? We don’t know, but it could be definitely debateable if that ever happens.”
Many have dismissed the comparison as crazy talk. Apples and oranges. One person on Twitter suggested that Costas probably also believes it’s “Quite possible that Katie Ledecky is bigger than The Beatles ever were.” Others suggested that comparisons between Usain Bolt and Bob Marley would only happen if they are the only two Jamaicans you’ve ever heard of.
But Burton says there’s no offense taken.

“We are so proud of Usain Bolt. We are just so proud. It has just made our weekend, if not our whole year. I mean, when I was watching the finals I was just like 'OMG is he going to make it?' There was a blip there when I thought that American Justin Gatlin was going to make it and when he came up and ran across that finish line for the gold, I was ecstatic and so was everybody in Jamaica. ... It’s just a wonderful feeling.”

No doubt Bolt is a legend, says Burton. “You hear the commentators say it all the time. They don’t know if they will ever see this again in their lifetimes.”
And you can count on Burton watching her TV closely when Usain Bolt runs the 200 meter final on Thursday. “We keep watching. In Jamaica, this is what we do every Olympics. This is what we do.”
Fans cheer while watching a broadcast of Jamaica's Usain Bolt winning the men's 100 meters final and becoming the first man to win three successive Olympic titles on the track, in Kingston, Jamaica, August 14, 2016.
Credit: Gilbert Bellamy/Reuters