Wednesday, December 28, 2016

It's Not About The Money or the Fame:
Remembering Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds circa 1987
Source: Wikimedia Commons

I was afraid this was going to be my next post. Debbie Reynolds died from a stroke just a day after her daughter Carrie Fisher. She was 84. 

During funeral planning with her son Todd Fisher, she reportedly said, "I miss her so much. I want to be with Carrie." She had a stroke 15-minutes later. Those were her final words.  

Debbie Reynolds' stardom catapulted before my generation. I identify more with her daughter's fame. But I knew about her from Singin' In the Rain and Will & Grace. Of course I knew the scandalous story when ex-husband Eddie Fisher left her for Elizabeth Taylor. It rocked the media like when Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie.  Fisher and Taylor didn't last either. 

There was an Oprah interview you can watch below where she talks about forgiving Elizabeth Taylor, moving on with her life, other loves, raising Carrie, etc. It's a great interview and very funny. 

I was concerned that this would be my next post because people die from broken hearts. I have a few relatives who couldn't bear to go on without loved ones they were super close to. I've seen people mentally give up after experiencing a lot of deaths. It's hard. 

She supported her daughter through the drug abuse, bipolar, Hollywood drama, divorce and other stuff. They survived so much together and I guess burying her was too much. Can you imagine? I feel bad for Carrie's daughter who lost her mom and grandmother within a day of each other. I also feel bad for Reynolds' son. 

I find it interesting that these women died during the holidays. The holidays is about spending time with the ones you love. But too many of us get caught up in the gift giving.  Debbie Reynolds had fame, money, awards and beauty. She lived in Beverly Hills. She had a life that many dream of.  But none of that could replace her daughter. None of that could fill the void of losing her child. They were just things. What she lost was love. 

My grandfather migrated here from Texas, worked as a longshoreman, and bought a nice home in Oakland. He provided for his children and grandchildren. He lived the American Dream with his homemaker/entrepreneur wife, nice cars, nice home, etc. I remember during the last Christmas we spent with him, he took in that moment with his family. When he was on his deathbed, he didn't ask for his car or clothes. He just wanted my grandma. He wanted his family. Your family may not be your blood relatives or people who adopted you. They may be good friends, in-laws or your spouse. Family is how you define it. In the end what matters is love. 

And so Reynolds probably died because she lost someone she loved deeply.  It's a tragic story, but a beautiful story about the importance of love. I hope she and Carrie Fisher are resting in each others' arms.  


What Carrie Fisher Meant to This Girl Nerd and Mental Health Advocate

Carrie Fisher
Source: Riccardo Ghilardi photographer via
WikiCommons
I woke up to these words from my alarm radio, "Actress Carrie Fisher has died."

I shed tears for Carrie Fisher, 60, throughout the day. I got into Star Wars when I was a teen in the '90s thanks to my religious teacher. We had to analyze the moral messages George Lucas was dropping in the series. Like so many girls and women, I appreciated Leia for being a badass princess. She was not sitting on a throne looking pretty. Leia fought evil, even into her later years when she became a general. Like someone pointed out on Twitter, in the last Star Wars movie you have a woman who lost her son, her ex-lover, her brother, her parents, her planet--but she still fought for goodness. She pressed on in adversity, just like the real Carrie Fisher.

Fisher also had to fight her own personal battles. She wrestled with addiction and was open about living with bipolar disorder. When I was wrestling with my own internalized stigma about being diagnosed with depression, I looked up famous people with mental health challenges and there she was. I read some of her personal stories and felt a bit more hopeful and normal.

She dealt with people judging her for not having the 19-year-old look and body from Star Wars decades ago. Isn't that silly?! She said when she was 105 lbs, she was asked to lose 10 more pounds. Anyone talk about Harrison Ford or Mark Hamill getting wrinkles and gaining weight? NO

She kept it real about aging, addiction and living with mental health problems. She lived openly to control how information about her came out to the public. Which was a smart idea. It doesn't work for everyone, but she made it work for her. And she often had a, "I don't have time for this bullsh*t" mentality.

I hoped she would pull through after having the heart attack. Her life and art touched me as a woman, Star Wars fan and mental health advocate. I love Princess Leia, but Carrie Fisher is my shero for her role in life as Carrie Fisher. She entertained us, made us laugh and gave a lot of people hope through her strength and realness.

Per her request, Carrie Fisher died being drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.

May she rest in power and may the force be with her.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Watch What You're Reading: Fake News, Foolishness and Spiritual Toxicity


I was meditating the other day because I've been in a funk. My mood was dipping and I needed to check in with myself. During meditation what came to my spirit was to be mindful of what I'm consuming. I've been on social media watching folks get worked up over lies. Look at this Twitter exchange:



Here you have Donald Trump, then so-called Donald Trump Jr. criticizing Obama, then an Obama supporter reacting. After that Obama supporter is an exchange with him and a Trump supporter. Total discord right? I thought it was strange that Trump's son would attack Obama because since Trump and Obama met, the billionaire hasn't been criticizing POTUS. Usually candidates stop attacking former presidents after joining the exclusive POTUS club. Plus, Trump looked like he saw a ghost after his Come-to-Jesus White House meeting with Pres. Obama.

Now take a closer look at Donald Jr.'s Twitter handle. It says @denaldtrumpjr. Denald Trump? I visited his page and saw this:



It says this is just a parody account. People actually thought the person was Trump's son. This user got me for a second. There is so much anger and hatred in our country and a lot of it is due to people reading lies. People are being manipulated. People are consuming what they want to believe. And these creators of fake sites are making tons of money off of our emotions. Even credible sites with click bait headlines that don't have anything to do with the story should share the blame.  It's sick and it makes me angry because it's costing people's lives.

Dylan Roof, that monster who shot up Black church members during prayer at a South Carolina Church was found guilty yesterday for their murders. One of the reasons why he was motivated to kill those people was because of the racist garbage and lies he read online. That's an extreme example but people are being assaulted because of the hateful rhetoric that was unleashed and condoned during this election.

I visit social media sites where content targets the right and the left. The bickering and anger is sad. The hate scares me. What's even more scary is that when the truth is revealed, like U.S. intelligence confirming Russia interfered with the election--many on the right don't want to believe it. And I'm not just targeting the right because there were people on the left who bought into fake news too.

Consuming hateful, bogus content and digesting it into your minds and spirit is not healthy. It's what has caused so much madness in this country.  I've seen a lot of lies and people circulating lies on the internet without checking the sources of information.

Be careful what you read. Read the full article instead of the headline only. Lately I've noticed headlines are there to get clicks and may not even reflect what the article is about. I've even had to contact editors when headlines to my articles were inaccurate and misleading.

Check the source of the information. Don't just go by what someone is sharing online. Make sure you check many sources. Also, you should have more than one news source. I read BBC, Guardian, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Fox News, Mother Jones, Ebony, Latina, New America Media, Ms., Bitch, NPR, my local news, etc. I don't get my news from just one place. I don't get my news opinion from just one angle either.

Media is very powerful. Be careful what you read, hear or watch. Denzel will tell you.



Sunday, December 4, 2016

Many Perished in Oakland Fire

My heart goes out to the victims of the Oakland fire and their families. I grew up in the area where the fire occurred. It's a few blocks away from my high school. Many of the people are either poor, working class and/or people of color.  I noticed on social media that people were victim blaming because the warehouse, called Ghost Ship,  was used for a rave. They assumed people were using drugs and were therefore "asking for it."I don't care if they used drugs or not. Someone is hurt and devastated that their loved one died so tragically and probably painfully.


Oakland, San Francisco and Berkeley were meccas for artists. This was a community where you live out of the box and let your freak flag fly. With gentrification and rising costs in housing, we are losing artists. I know talented people who left the Bay Area because they couldn't afford to live here. And I have never in my entire life seen so many homeless people in Oakland. Times are tough. I'm not surprised artists have chosen to live and socialize in an unsafe place like this warehouse. Other spaces are unaffordable. Last I checked Oakland doesn't have an arts commission.

It's hard for me to watch some of the city politicians look saddened by these losses when they haven't done much to stop long-time residents from being priced out of their homes. Maybe Ghost Ship wouldn't exist if they helped poor folks. Don't get me wrong. They owner of the building needs to pay big time for this. Neighbors called the city with concerns about the building. The city didn't do anything enough in time and now it's too late. I heard through the grapevine from an inspector that the city doesn't pay as much attention to buildings in that area. I wonder if the residents being poor, working class and/or people of color have anything do with it.

There's a lot of blame to go around. But right now that's not important. I feel bad because a lot of people are grieving tonight and will be for a long time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Too Angry to Write

I'm starting to get back into the groove again. I was so disappointed after the election, it was hard for me to write.  Actually I was more than disappointed. Anger, fear, anxiety, uncertainty were swarming through my body. Then I dived into the news and social media to keep tabs on what was going on. It actually made me more stressed out because some of the stuff I read were fake stories. Some were used to incite and feed on people's fear. And seeing how people were so fearful was hard to take in.

As I stated in my last post, hatred and injustice are nothing new in this country. I've never seen so much homelessness in Oakland. That's because gentrification is pushing people out of their homes. Child sex trafficking is another problem. Of course people are doing work to better relations between African Americans and the police. Lord knows the last thing we need is a federal government ran by white supremacists. They can call themselves "alt-right" all they want. Those people are white supremacists.

I hope we can come together and work together.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I'm Not Surprised Trump Won


How did America allow a racist, sexist, misogynistic, egotistical, short-tempered, politically inexperienced, reality star come to power? Easy. See below




If you're surprised that Trump won you've been living in a bubble. Wake up and see what kind of conditions and issues people are facing. 

It's unfortunate that liberals and independents who would normally vote Democratic either didn't vote or cast a protest vote. The point they tried to prove is going to cost people healthcare. Muslims and Latinos are scared. People overseas are scared. The Senate, House and Supreme Court will be dominated by conservatives. The country will be run by one political ideology. That's not good no matter which side you're on. But a few people who had power in this election wanted to prove a point. How unfortunate that all of the work and progress Obama put into helping Americans may be undone because people have a point to prove or weren't motivated. 

This election was not about politics, but power. White, male, Christian, heterosexual power that Trump supporters believe will make America great again. Donald Trump is going to be America's wakeup call. I just pray it's not too startling. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Deeper Meaning Behind the Beyonce and Dixie Chicks Country Music Awards Performance



While fighting some bug so I can salvage the fun weekend I have planned, I caught Beyonce and the Dixie Chick's "Daddy Lessons" performance on the CMAs. They killed it! But they also sent a message. The message was, "We all belong on this stage." 

The Dixie Chicks were on top of the music industry. Then in 2003 they got the (cowboy) boot and  from the country music scene after member Natalie Maines told a London crowd she was ashamed of then Pres. George W. Bush. I remember after that people would say to watch your words so you don't get "Dixie Chicked." Country music conservative fans labeled them unpatriotic and you didn't hear much from them after that. This CMA appearance was their first after a 10-year hiatus.
They returned to the stage with a lethal weapon, Queen Bey, who also has faced criticism for speaking out. In Bey's case she has spoken against police brutality. 

Some country music fans didn't want her on the show because they think she's racist, hates, cops, yadda, yadda, yadda--all that foolishness. And of course we've been fooled to think that Black artists have no place in country because it's white music. 

WRONG! 

Black folks played a major role in the creation of country music. Just like other art forms we created, white folks ran with it and blocked us out of the industry. There's a great article here that tells the story. 

A group of liberal women, attacked for their views, performed at the 50th Country Music Awards. The Dixie Chicks deserved to be up there despite their political views. Beyonce was letting folks know that country music has Black roots. They all deserved to be on the stage. They deserve a place in country music. I hope their performance inspires other women and people of color to give country a try. 

Okay now back to me battling this bug. I need some whiskey in my tea! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fifty Shades of Trump and Shaming Women Who Enjoy Erotica

When I thought this election couldn’t get any more sensational, disturbing and sexist, a tape leaks of Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump from 11 years ago explaining how he grabs the genitals of women he’s attracted to. “When you’re a star they let you do it.” I’m sure his wealth, power and male privilege also play a part in why he feels entitled to grab women. Trump’s boast of sexual assault triggered women across all political spectrums. I don’t care what party you vote or don’t vote for, many women can identify with being sexually assaulted, harassed or encountering a perverted man who made them feel uncomfortable. 

But some Trump supporters think women are not only overreacting, but actually opened the doors for this kind of language. Since Pussygate, I’ve noticed memes and political commentators comparing Trump’s remarks about force to Fifty Shades of Grey.

“Unfortunately we have made that to be a culture, a 50 Shades of Gray culture in society where man can talk like that,” said Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes on CNN. She also mentioned Magic Mike, a film about male exotic dancers, as another example.


Many issues rose up for me.  First, those dismissing Trump’s remarks as locker room talk are focusing on Trump using vulgar language, instead of the aggressive actions he is speaking about. Second, author E.L. James and the Magic Mike filmmakers aren’t running for president. And last time I checked, men were saying disgusting things about women long before Fifty Shades hit bookshelves. Yes, Fifty Shades is about a couple into BDSM. While I have myissues with the series, the actual practice of BDSM is about consent. Finally, they’re implying that women who enjoy adult, erotic entertainment shouldn’t be outraged because they like reading and watching things about sex.

Now we’re tipping into the shaming area for women who consume erotica. A woman choosing to enjoy erotic entertainment isn’t an invitation for language glorifying sexual assault or the act itself. Nor does it mean they condone it. One in five women are sexually assaulted. It’s hard for me to believe that the millions of women who read Fifty Shades, watched Magic Mike are okay with a man saying he wants to grab the genitals of a woman he’s attracted to. There is no correlation between Trump’s actions, and women being fans of erotica. These kind of remarks remind me of people who say women are asking for rape when they wear short skirts.

Erotica is one of my favorite genres of literature, especially by Black authors. I read it, write about it and have researched it.  The ways writers, of all backgrounds, use words and stories for sexual expression interests me. That doesn’t mean I want or enjoy unwelcomed touches.

My butt started to poke out and get rounder in middle school.  I hated when boys in my class grabbed my behind.  I hated when men sexually harassed me in college and at the workplace. It’s not just men. The last person to grope me was a female co-worker.  Yes I like erotic art and literature. My interests don’t justify me being harmed. The fear, anger and vulnerable feelings that followed from these violations shook me.

Saying that women took part in creating this culture, which is actually rape culture, because we read and watch erotica, or even listen to sexy joints by Beyonce is ludicrous. If that’s the case then men who watch Westerns and mafia films condone gun violence and shouldn’t be upset when innocent people are killed. Silly right? Should I assume people who watch slasher and horror movies have established a culture of evil and stabbings? Should we blame boys and men when they are sexually assaulted since so many males in this country consume pornography? No to all of those questions. Yet, society judges women.

Even Melania Trump, who posed nude years ago, denounced her husband’s words. I have nothing against Mrs. Trump’s photos. It’s her body, she was a model and that was her right to pose. I’m not surprised she disproved of her husband’s remarks.

If Trump said the word “pussy,” but didn’t share how he force touches and kisses women, I don’t think there would as much outrage. There might be even less outrage if over the past year Trump showed more respect to women. But between the sexual comments about his daughter Ivanka, body shaming women, interrupting Hillary Clinton – his public engagement with women is disgraceful and misogynistic.

As my Southern grandmothers say, “You got to tell it like it is.” First Lady Michelle Obama did that in New Hampshire when she said to a crowd, “Strong men, men who are truly role models, don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful.”

This election and Pussygate is just another reminder that rape culture continues to be a major problem in our country and our world. As Mrs. Obama powerfully stated, “A measure of any society is how it treats its and women and girls.” If one and five women are sexually assaulted, we need to treat our women and girls better.


-->
Tuesday, Nov. 8th can’t get here fast enough.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Brunch and Prose

 Cheers! Today I met awesome women and one awesome guy at Liminal's "From All Points But Center" brunch potluck. Liminal is a feminist/womanist writing space in Oakland. I love meeting new people there because they're so interesting. Everyone has a story. It was a great way to kick off the weekend.

The photo you see of me with a wine glass is not from Liminal but it reminded me of brunch. And so does that photo of a fruit tart from BlogHer a few years ago.

At this even we had a discussion and read our work. Once again Trump came out and how we triggered so many women. We talked about our relationships with our periods. The impact of social media and technology eroding our in-person communication skills also came up. It was a good day. Being in literary spaces feels good. These spaces are very healing during all of the hatred and nastiness going on with this election.  As we get closer to election day, enjoy some art. It does wonders.





Thursday, October 20, 2016

Boo! I'm Telling A Ghost Story

Come by Books Inc. tonight in Alameda. It's ghost story night. All stories are non-fiction. I have one of my own to share. :)


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Brunch, Bloggers and Books in Atlanta: The Literary Experience

If they're serving champagne at this event, I might have to catch a flight to Atlanta!

One of the many reasons why I love Atlanta is because so many Black entrepreneurs have emerged from that city. This event is one example. The Literary Experience is a collaboration between the African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC) and Blogging Beauties. Book lovers can interact with authors, major bloggers, meet new people and nibble on some goodies. Plus there will be a panel of women from various media professions and one of the topics they will cover is entrepreneurship.

It looks like a fun and inspirational event. Tamika Newhouse is founder of the AAMBC and Jelisa Raquel heads up Blogging Beauties. I love these kind of events. And the tickets are super reasonable. I'll be missing all of the fun on Saturday Nov. 5th, 2pm at The Haven. Get your tickets here. If you go, let me know how it went.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Pussy and Politics: Enough of Donald Trump and This Reality Show Election

I hate this election. I really, really hate this election. It's a joke. It's sensational. It's a cross between a rowdy reality show and a long episode of Scandal. Now a tape has leaked where Donald "Coochie Monster" Trump said to then Access Hollywood Billy Bush, that when he likes a woman he "grabs them by the pussy." And he likes to kiss women too. All of this without consent. Enough is enough! This election has exposed so much of what is wrong with America: racism, sexism, xenophobia, ableism,  greed, class discrimination, lack of support for our veterans, division, and our FAILING EDUCATION SYSTEM. Here are a few points and observations I'd like to make all of this craziness:

  • I've been groped. I've been touched by people without their consent since middle school. These people have been students, relatives, men and women, strangers and people I know. I didn't like ANY OF IT.  Groping is sexual assault. Donald Trump basically said on that tape that he assaults women he's attracted to. And he knows he can because he's a wealthy, powerful, famous white male. He's one of the most privileged men on the planet. And since we live in a society where so few sexual violators are punished, even if Trump weren't rich he could practically do whatever he want. That's male privilege for you. 
  • On the tape Trump made comments about trying to get then Access Hollywood host Nancy O'Dell in bed. Trump has made offensive sexist and racist comments from the beginning of this campaign. But it took crude remarks about a thin, successful, wealthy, famous, Southern, married, straight white woman for more Republicans to be repulsed. It took his insults of that type of woman for more Republicans to call out Trump. It's okay to talk about Black folks, call Mexicans rapists and killers, disrespect a fallen soldier's family because he's Muslim, talk about women and their weight. But the line was drawn Nancy O'Dell. And that's no disrespect to Nancy O'Dell because I love her on Entertainment Tonight. But had Trump made a comment about grabbing Black pussy, Brown pussy, poor women's pussies, etc. I don't think there wouldn't be such an uproar from the conservatives.
  • Not to my surprise many of Trump's supporters aren't calling him out on that video. I don't care if you support Trump. What he said was wrong. And people labeling his comments as "locker talk" are disturbing. Bragging about assaulting women is what men say in the locker room? 




  • Did you see all of those men get off of that bus? I wonder if any of them heard what Trump said. If only Billy Bush had said, "That's not cool Donald." Instead he laughed at Trump's lewd and violent comments. What disgusted me most about Billy Bush is that Trump said he likes to kiss women without permission, and Billy suggested to the actress on the set that she let Trump kiss her. GROSS!
  • I don't usually cover politics on this blog. I could go on but this election is a circus. I miss boring, presidential elections where people disagreed but still had respect for each other. America has come far, but has a long way to go. And it's not coincidence that Donald Trump has become a strong contender for president during a time where the quality of our education system is declining. He doesn't even carry himself in a presidential manner. He's boorish. He cuts of Clinton during debates. A hot-headed bad ass is not what we need in to be the most powerful leader on the planet.
  • I've said on here before that my family is made of conservatives and liberals. I've met a lot of conservatives. I've met people who worked with Pres. Reagan.  This behavior, is not the GOP I remember as a kid. They had class and were educated. Trump lacks class and spews misinformation. The fact that he appeals to so many people says a lot about the state of this country. When this election is all over, how do we address that? 







Friday, October 7, 2016

Nate Parker Doesn't Have to Apologize

It seems like every time a big story breaks about some famous person doing something wrong, people demand an apology. Sometimes an apology is not enough.

People want Nate Parker, star and creator of the Nat Turner film Birth of a Nation to apologize for the gang rape he was found not guilty of being a part of. People honestly think he's going to apologize for something that not only he says he didn't do, but the justice system said he didn't do? Seriously?

Hell no he's not going to apologize. And what's an apology going to do? It's not going to bring the victim back. This is an example where an apology is not enough.

Nate Parker was either so arrogant, or stupid, not to have media preparation for, if and when this rape trial story broke. He saw himself more as a victim and showed little remorse for the whole situation. You can tell he learned very little about rape culture in his earlier interviews.

I don't want an apology. Actions speak louder than words. He should take some of that FOX films money and donate it to programs that help rape survivors. Or, hold events for boys and men to talk about respecting women and consent. And I think he should share what he tells his college-aged daughter about sexual violence to the public. Right now it looks like he don't give a damn and just wants to push this movie.

People can see Birth of a Nation if they want. I really don't care. And I'm not judging people who do see it. I'll wait until it's on video. With so much violence and racial tensions going on I'm not comfortable going to see that movie in the theatre. Also, I am sitting out on this because I do think he and his friend/college buddy/co-writer of this film raped that woman. I'm also disturbed that a historian of Black history said there are a lot of inaccuracies in the film, including a gang rape scene that supposedly moved Nat Turner to rebel. Apparently that's not true. Two men accused of gang rape, write a fictional rape scene in a historic film. I'm cool. I'll go see Lupita N'yongo's Queen of Katwe.

Update: There's a rumor going around that Oprah offered to help Nate Parker with some media strategies when his rape trial came to light. And he declined. If this is true, he made a stupid mistake. I always said that Hollywood would never greenlight a Nat Turner film. And from what I understand, others have tried to get his biopic made. I wonder why Nate Parker was able to do it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Let Go Of Your Enemies and Focus on Your Blessings

I woke up yesterday to the news that Brat Pitt and Angelina Jolie were done, over, a wrap. I'll keep it real with you, the first person I thought of was Jennifer Aniston. Brad Pitt would publicly make jokes about Jenn since leaving her. And now his behind is getting dragged. Whether we treat people wrong or right, we reap what he sow.

But instead of wishing for those who hurt me to have hell in their life, I put that energy into wishing for my life to be beautiful, full and blessed. I talk about that in this video that you can watch here.

Trust me it makes a difference when you allow yourself to be mad, release what those people did to you and convert that energy to blessings in your life. As my mama always says, "Don't let people rent space in your head."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I'm Reading at Get Lit TONIGHT




I'm reading at Get Lit tonight in Oakland at the Jingletown Jazz Room, right across from Fruitvale BART Station. I will be reading with a heavy heart after hearing another unarmed, Black man has been killed by police. This man was sitting in his car reading a book. Tonight I will be reading in a literary space, with people who love words.  And I'll hold in my heart a dead man who did something that I do everyday, for enlightenment or comfort--read.  He was killed and all he had was a book. This must stop. Black people don't deserve to live in fear like this.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I'm Hyped About The Emmys and The People v. O.J. Simpson

Photos provided by FX



 It's Emmy Sunday! I love awards shows but this one is extra special because actor Sterling K. Brown was nominated for his supporting role in The People v. O.J. Simpson. Brown played my father, former prosecutor Christopher Darden. The show received 22 nominations! Only second behind Game of Thrones.

I'm also rooting for Courtney B. Vance (Johnnie Cochran) and Sarah Paulson (Marcia Clark). The entire cast were amazing. Brown is up against his fellow cast members John Travolta (Robert Shapiro) and David Schwimmer (Robert Kardashian).  Despite the competition the entertainment press report Sterling K. Brown is the favorite.

Tomorrow night I will be ready with my glass of Stella Rosa and popcorn. This is so exciting!

The Emmys air live on ABC, 7pm EST/ 4pm PST.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cocoa Fly Podcast Update

My heart is in radio and podcasting. That's where I'm planning to shift the focus of CocoaFly.com. I love writing, but I love audio storytelling too. Video is starting to grow on me.

I'm still working out the logistics on iTunes. But feel free to listen to Cocoa Fly interviews already on iTunes. I'm also working on getting it on the Libsyn Podcast Source app.

I'll have more updates soon!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Battle for My Black Womanhood



I broke up with spoken word about 12 years ago. Or maybe spoken word and I took a break. I was more focused on news writing and I felt the scene became so cliche. I felt like I heard everything before and people weren't original. The spoken word scene is smaller in LA compared to Oakland/SF.   Just trying to write a poem was hard for me.

I moved back to the Bay Area and met all kinds of people in the literary scene. New people and and a re-emergence of violence against people of color and women inspired me to write creatively again. It feels really good.

This reading was special because the night before was my surprise breakup. I hadn't slept much, but I wanted to be there. I told the audience that I felt awful and why I felt awful. They were ALL so supportive. I joked that I wished he had broken up with me sooner so I could have better breakup poetry. LOL

 I love this piece because it speaks to my journey to loving myself and the woman I have become. I'm prissy and girlie and hella feminine. Many times it was an internal and external to accept that because society looks down on the feminine, while at the same time try to deny femininity to Black women.

By the way, I filmed this in early August. I have on a leather jacket and a head wrap in August. That's San Francisco for ya.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Feeling Your Feelings After a Breakup

Photo by Kiomi from FreeImages
Today I saw a meme on Facebook that said sensitivity is a super power. It is a super power. And like  a superhero coming into their powers, they have to learn how to release and control them.  They have to learn when it's right to use their power. They must learn how powerful they really are and not be afraid of their powers. But having superpowers isn't always easy. And as the hero learns their strengths, they also learn their weaknesses.

I love and appreciate my sensitivity because it helps me connect to people. It also helps me disconnect from toxic people. My sensitivity, has a Spidey-like sense, that's pretty good at telling me who I should engage with and who I should stay away from.

My sensitivity keeps me in touch with my own feelings. Right now I'm really in touch with my own feelings. Right now I'm hella in my feelings. And I don't like it. But I know I have to feel them to get through this.  I'm drinking an emotional cocktail of disappointment, anger, hurt, nostalgia, but I have to finish the glass. One day I'm mad at the person. The next day I miss them. The third day I'm mad that I miss them. The fourth day I have compassion for anger and hurt for missing them. I HATE THIS! LOL And a breakup raises other questions in my life like, "Why is it so hard to meet the right guy?" or "Are all of the good men taken?" or "Who can I trust?"

My sensitive superpowers got me feeling
some kind of way. 
I know allowing myself to feel without letting emotions overtake me is how to get through. It's a balance of controlling and releasing my superpower. But it doesn't feel good. This is one reason why people turn to drugs, booze, sex, shopping addictions,  etc. They numb their feelings. Feeling your feelings can be torturous. Ooooh when the feelings are good, they're sooooo GOOD. But when you feel like sh*t, it's baaaaaddddd. Those of us with torn hearts have to go through the tears, hating Facebook because it feels like everyone is booed up except you, analyzing what went wrong and what mistakes you won't make next time, missing and hating your ex at the same time, feeling bad because you miss and hate your ex at the same, horny from no sex or having no interest in sex, feeling sad when places you went on dates resurrect memories, wishing you had done something different, and fear. You have to face whatever fears that came out of that broken relationship, so you can move on and trust someone with your heart again.



Not enough booze to drink away these feelings. 
Some years ago I got my heart broken real bad. Like Jazmine Sullivan, Carrie Underwood, Waiting to Exhale Angela Bassett pissed off, bad. No cars were damaged or burned, but I understood why that goes through a woman's mind. Still, ain't no man worth me going to jail over.  Thank God this breakup was not on that level at all. But that other Jazmine Sullivan-angry breakup left me hating my ex. I hated that guy for a long time and wished all kinds of hell on him. Until I realized it did more emotional damage to me than him. I couldn't open my heart to anyone else until I let go of how he hurt me. You know what I did? Instead of wishing him hell on Earth, I began to wish for blessings in my life. The greatest revenge is success. Or as said in the Book of Formation, the best revenge is your paper. I would rather be blessed with a great life and a good man, than for that jerk to suffer. Think about it. If you hate the hell out of your ex and could have one choice, which would it be? Would you rather them be in so much pain and agony that they regretted the thought of hurting you? Or would you choose to be so blessed and happy that he or she did doesn't even matter to you anymore?

In my Wonder Woman shirt with
my superpowers of sensitivity. I'm smiling
because I'm at SF Comic Con.  
I've grown up because I don't hate the person involved in my latest breakup. I hate how they made me feel. I hate that I'm going through this emotional roller coaster. But I learned in the past that I have to deal with this in order to heal from this. I have to feel the rawness and let it pass.  I know this bumpy, emotional ride will end. I've been on this ride before. I've gotten off of it and straightened myself up. I'll open my heart and mind with the intention that the next ride with a special person will be so pleasant, neither of us will want to get off. Hope and faith are good superpowers to have.

*Sorry for the ramble. I just felt like rambling. And I just came back from SF Comic Con which is probably why I'm on the superpower kick.*

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Get Into the Writing Groove Workshop



I'm teaching a writing workshop! I'm so excited to be hosting my Get Into the Writer's Groove workshop on Saturday Sept. 10th at Liminal. The workshop is for writers, new and experienced, who are struggling with writer's block or in a creative rut. I have been there. And thankfully I was able to pull myself out. The workshop I created is what I needed when my creative juices weren't flowing. 




This daylong workshop will be filled with discussion, activities and writing exercises to help you get back into the writing groove. Learn more here or sign up here

Space is limited. This will be a very intimate workshop. There will be NO onsite registration the day of the workshop so make sure to sign up early. I look forward to helping you get into the WRITING GROOVE! 



I'm Talking Mental Health and Self-Care on Hard Knock Radio with Davey D


Listen to the interview here

While taking in the beauty of The Black Woman is God exhibit, I ran into longtime media personality and Hard Knock Radio host Davey D. We got to talking to and he invited me and my friend to be guests on his 94.1 KPFA show to talk about mental health during these violent times. It airs at 4pm.  Below are links to resources. I also have a short video that you can watch here where I talk about wellness tools.

One thing I forgot to mention in my interview is for people to see a therapist. And that when you go seek out a therapist you can ask for someone who is of your culture, race, sexual orientation, sex, gender, etc.


Black People Take Care of Yourselves
This is the short Periscope video I made after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Whether you're Black or not, I think you can benefit from some of the wellness suggestions I made. I did mention that I had to drink 1 glass of wine to take the edge off. I'm not condoning being dependent on alcohol. For me I just needed a little something to bring me down. Sometimes it's lavender tea, and that day it was chardonnay. But I strongly suggest not isolating yourself and checking with friends.

JFK University in Oakland
I've never been but I know of people who have. They say the counselors, who are grad students, are great. Counseling rates are lower because these are grad students. When I was in grad school, my counselor was a grad student and she helped me get through a tough year.

Mental Health Association of Alameda County
This link has a ton of resources in Alameda County

Call 211 or visit 211BayArea.org
This is a resource when you need info on shelter, counseling, food programs, health programs etc. You can also call for information in case of a disaster. It's a 24/hour line in more than 150 languages.

East Bay Meditation Center
This is a diverse, social justice Buddhist community that hosts daylong retreats and meditative spaces. Their services are donation based. Give what you can. Many of their daylong retreats are for people of color, LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, etc. They've hosted retreats to help people dealing with depression and anxiety.  I'm not Buddhist but I love coming here for the friendly environment and to quiet my mind.

Beats, Rhymes and Life
BRL is a nonprofit that uses hip hop therapy to empower youth dealing with mental health issues. Trauma is one of those challenges and many of us are living with post trauma in light of what's happening in our communities.

Mental Health Podcast 
I hosted a podcast on mental health for a former employer. I have a ton of great interviews, and uplifting stories on mental health for people to listen to.

I wish us all peace and healing. I pray the violence stops. Until then, take care of yourselves.






Sunday, August 28, 2016

Why Colin Kaepernick's Anthem Protest Doesn't Surprise Me

Source: Instagram
Colin Kaepernick shocked football fans when he refused to stand for the National Anthem during a preseason game. Kaepernick explained to the press:

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

I've been following Kap on Instagram for over a year. He has been very open about his disappointment with the unjust police killings of unarmed Black AMERICANS. If you go on his Instagram there are quotes from Malcolm X and  Dr. King. You'll see images of the Black Panther Party and comments about the death of Sandra Bland. This sentiment is nothing new. And he has taken a lot of crap from people on social media before this sit down protest for speaking out against racial injustice. 

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, many white people are caught up in what he did and not WHY he did it. Here are a few thoughts: 


  • For the record I have friends and family who are veterans and work/worked in law enforcement. So I'm coming from different angles in my opinion.
  • I understand if people don't agree with his tactic, but it's sad and sickening that they're not recognizing why he sat down. They're not talking about him standing up for racially motivated killings by bad cops. Which shows how little importance Black lives are to some people. 
  • An argument that I keep reading is that he is disrespecting the lives of veterans who fought for his freedom. But he has the freedom and the right to not stand. That's allowed in this country. 
  • People are saying he's disrespecting veterans. There are Black veterans concerned about these killings. There are Black veterans who have been racially profiled by police. The flag isn't protecting their freedom from racism. Who is standing up for them? Also do some research on racism in the military. Research how Black veterans were treated after coming home from World War II and Vietnam. 
  • People are calling Kaepernick unpatriotic but how we mistreat our veterans is unpatriotic. I know saluting the flag is a way of showing our appreciation to our veterans, but the flag is not providing them housing, healthcare and jobs. We need to do more than salute a flag for our veterans. 
  • He's putting his reputation, football career and endorsements on the line. The comments are so hateful. Which is another reason why I think he is doing this out of sincerity. This may end his career. 
  • His wealth, being adopted by white parents and being half-white are not reasons why he shouldn't silently and peacefully protest. He sees something is wrong and is saying something about it. His race and income shouldn't matter that he cares about innocent lives being lost to hatred. 
  • Racist cops getting away with murder doesn't help the Black community, nor good cops. The Black community continues to live in fear. While good cops are not trusted by civilians. The silence from non-Black people only makes it worse. 
  • I've seen more anger over Colin Kaepernick peacefully sitting down than over Ryan Lochte acting like a fool and a thug in Brasil, then lying about it. Ryan Lochte gets called a "kid" and Colin Kaepernick is called all kinds of nasty names for sitting down. 
  • Don't say you love and admire Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson, but take issue with Colin Kaepernick. They also did something similar. Same goes for the Black Olympians in the 1968.
  • An American can still criticize injustice in this country, call for our nation to do better and still appreciate the service of our veterans. As I said, we need to do more for our veterans than stand up for the National Anthem and flag. 

Colin Kaepernick is taking a lot of heat and hatred for this. Disagree with the tactic all you want, but he's making people talk about the issue. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sterling K. Brown on The Emmy's and the Cuba Gooding Jr. Turn Up

Sterling K. Brown on Entertainment Tonight
Emmy-nominated actor Sterling K. Brown has been all over the media lately as we closer to the Emmy's.

Brown played my father, attorney Christopher Darden on the mega-hit miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson.  After all of the drama and madness during the trial, I had no interest in watching this series. But I watched and read interviews with Sterling K. Brown and he seemed like a good guy. So I gave him a chance. I'm so happy I did!

Sometimes we see the same actors in Hollywood over and over again. I'm glad to see when other talented people get big opportunities. And Sterling seems like a nice and humble guy. He has the cutest family. So if anyone is going to benefit from playing my father, I'm glad it's Sterling.

Here's his "exclusive" with Entertainment Tonight. The reporter asked him who from the cast will party the hardest on Emmy night. And of course he said Cuba Gooding Jr. Cuba is known for partying hard. Cuba gets lit. Nobody is ready for the Cuba Gooding turn up. LOL

Watch the short interview here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Reading at Books Inc. Is Canceled



My apologies. I will not be reading tonight. I have a stomach virus and for the sake of the public I'm staying home. Sorry I couldn't bring the "heat" tonight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

‘The Black Woman Is God’ is a Beautiful, Spiritual Experience


Sistas I met at the exhibit posing in front of
Karen Seneferu's work. 
Black women, we need to celebrate ourselves as much as possible. Black women, we need to celebrate ourselves as much as possible. Black women, we need to celebrate ourselves as much as possible.

I NEEDED to take BART, then MUNI then walk 20 minutes to the SOMARts gallery for The Black Woman isGod exhibit. I made it there on the last day. Karen Seneferu and Melorra Green curated this vivid, glorious, woman-made heaven of artwork by more than 60 Black female artists.

I NEEDED to be there because of the Black community’s silence after the killing of Korryn Gaines and so many other Black female victims of police brutality. I needed to be in a space free of cultural appropriation. I needed to be in a space where Black women of ALL shades and sizes are the stars because Black women are so often invisibilized. I need to be in a space of love while dealing with my own heart. With Black women athletes shining in the Olympics and Black Girl Magic all around me, I wanted to celebrate the beauty, strength, magic, color, vulnerability and power of Black women. 

Honoring ourselves in this way is a spiritual experience.  I felt it in the main hall. I felt energy. I felt the ancestors. I felt the Black women who were enslaved, maids, scientists, artists cooks and writers. I felt the spirits of women who were ignored, brutalized or not able to live their potential. I felt the spirits of women who had pride in their culture and womanhood. I felt the spirits of women who wanted the Black women there to know there is so much more to us than our struggle. I felt peace. I felt a sense of refuge. That’s the power of art.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces.

"Zeluma" by Shona McDaniels
photo by Jenee Darden

 If I were a rich woman, this painting would be coming home with me. Zeluma by Shona McDaniels captured me. I love the colors the woman’s rich, dark brown skin and hairstyle reminded me of myself and some of my dear sista friends. I have friends who look like this woman. I see the beauty in them just as I see it in this extraordinary piece.

"Ancestral Womb Portal" by Sage Stargate
Photo by Jenee Darden

 Sage Stargate’s Ancestral Womb Portal Mural shook my soul. I believe the Sage Stargate is only 21. This chalk mural is so powerful. Humankind came to Earth through that womb portal. The mural conveys the Black woman is the galaxy, Goddess and the beginning.  Stargate honors the Black vagina and menstruation – the flow of life and our own creation.  And that glorious, cosmic pink Afro of energy gives off more energy. I see womanism. I see the Black woman as the past, the present, the future and the original. I looked at this work the longest. I feel blessed to be able to see something like that. Seriously. It was a blessing to behold something that magnificent.


"Mammy, Mammy" by Yetunde Olagbaju
Photo by Jenee Darden


This was the display I’ve been waiting to see since I realized Black women suffer from oppression inside and outside our community.  Yetunde Olagbaju’s Mammy. Mammy portraits are DEEP.  Zora Neale Hurston once said that Black woman is the mule of the world. Patriarchy on all levels sucks the life out of us. I see a woman who puts others before herself.  I see a woman who has to put others before herself. Black women are expected to solve and save everyone. Even in 2016 folks are still suckling off us.

 Some of us voluntarily whip out our breasts. How many sistas out there are still supporting and allowing grown men to suckle from them—financially, emotionally and spiritually? She’s providing so much to these “men” who rely on her, but they weigh her down. DEEEEEEPPPPP.



"Mission Accomplished" by Latisha Baker
photo by Jenee Darden

Black Girl Magic came to life through so many textures in the exhibit. Latisha Baker created Mission Accomplished on wood. I’m amazed at how artists are able to turn something simple as wood, into a complex and dynamic art piece. I love images of little Black girls because there’s something special about Black girlhood. I was blessed to have a good childhood and I loved being a girl. Little Black girls have their own style and energy in the world. Her innocence in picking flowers with her doll is so girly. I’m all about Black women celebrating the feminine. If you look close, notice the girl’s hair is braided. Amazing!  I would buy this one too. It reminds me of one of my favorite pieces by Brenda Joysmith called Barefoot Dreams.


I met co-curator Karen Seneferu and she said the exhibit will return next year. I’ll keep you posted. Until then, let’s continue to celebrate ourselves.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Fly Visitors

blogger statistics
blogger statistics