Category Archives: Occupying the NArrative

Morality and Practicality

Morality could be described as what we ought to do; practicality as what we can do. When what we ought to do and what we can do are the same or at least in sync, we have no problems and we do good work. But what happens when when we can’t do what we ought to do? What if we can not satisfy the good, but only, perhaps, satisfice it?

This is the argument that separates the Democratic candidates for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sec. Hillary Clinton, on the subject of healthcare. Sen. Sanders is preaching a gospel of medicare for all, a single payer system that leaves no American behind and eschews the private insurance market for, at the very least, all basic healthcare needs.

On the other hand, Sec. Clinton has said emphatically,

“People who have health emergencies can’t wait for us to have a theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass.”

So Sec. Clinton says that Sen. Sanders’ call for medicare for all is a better idea, but that it can never happen. It is the moral thing to do, but not the practical thing to do, the ACA is the practical thing to do and she believes that to be the case for all time.

Now it would be silly to call people to do something, even though is better than what we do now, that will “never, ever come to pass,” but it would not be silly to call people to do something better that not only can be done, but is being done right now, across the globe; an example of which is just a little ways north of here in a place folks like to call Canada.

(And to clarify, Sen. Sanders has not called for people with or without emergencies to wait for healthcare while he and anyone including Sec. Clinton have a “theoretical debate about some better idea.” Sen. Sander has not said to scrap the ACA, but evolve it over time into Medicare for All).

Is it impractical to do something, a better thing, that other people are already doing and have been doing for decades? Is it immoral to do something, a better thing, that other people are already doing and have been doing for decades? If a thing is neither impractical nor Immoral to do, isn’t saying that it is immoral and impractical the real immoral thing to do?



My life is not your teaching moment.
My tears are not yours to drink.
My pain is not here to grow your empathy.
My words are not your thoughts to think

White folks, it’s your turn now
To take up your cross and walk
To do your work of justice
To stand up in your world and talk

I will not leave you forsaken
I will still include you in my prayers
but I will not do your work for you
I will not ease your cares

It’s your turn now to bear the fear
Of facing the demon called Race
It’s your turn now to stand and fight
And set your own healing pace

We can stand beside each other
And build the Kingdom grand
But we cannot be actor and spectator
And expect to save this land.

So take your stand and do your work
Stare down your fear, don’t blink
My life is not your teaching moment.
My tears are not yours to drink.

A Damn Rant

The President just called out the GOP for refusing to pass “a darn bill.”

The last time the President said “damn,” conservatives lost their tiny minds and the Drudge Report ran a headline “President Goes Street.”

To which I say “So?”

Barack Obama is a grown ass man. And him saying “darn” like a six year old makes him sound like, well, a six year old. It is an attempt to “boy-ify” Obama and he’s going along with it so he won’t be seen as an angry black man.

But he is an angry black man. I am an angry black woman. And the people who voted for him, TWICE I may add, are all angry in every color in the rainbow of humanity.

Mr. President, we have much to be angry about. BE ANGRY! And if it upsets bigots, bullies and buffoons, GOOD!

if Clark Gable could say damn in 1939, then the POTUS can say damn in 2014. And he can say it any damn time he wants.

He grown and if anyone has a problem with him being grown, they can write their complaints on a piece of paper, fold it five ways, and stick it where the DAMN SUN DONT SHINE!

The “extra 200 points on the SAT” argument

When I was in High School, I heard a myth that all black students got an extra 200 points just for being black. White student would then lament about how they wished they were black and they could get those special extras that only the blacks get.

Now to my knowledge, and that of Princeton, there are not extra points for being black and there never were. But let’s say there were. The problem for the white students is that they dont get to be black for just the day or the few hours they have to take a test

Black is a lifetime commitment

You have to be black when you try to hail a cab
You have to be black when visiting NYC and stop and frisk is in effect
You have to be black in all job interviews, loan applications, and high school guidance sessions
You have to be black when you explain to your child why little Johnny called her that name
You have to be black in all those statistics that say your life expectancy is shorter than other demographics, that you more likely to be arrested and convicted, that you are more prone to chronic illness.

Still want the 200 points on a test?

It Ain’t about the Plums

Allow me to tell you a story

When I was small, I spent a great deal of time with my Gramma at her home in SE NC. It wasn’t a bad way to spend the summer. I was surrounded by family and the neighborhood was brimming over with kids my age. We’d run and play and work (or what children call work) all day. There was always something to do and if not, we could always think of something. It was the “we could always think of something.” that this story is about.

Down the road from my Gramma’s house was her cousin Florence’s home and in Cousin Florence’s backyard was a plum tree, quite possibly the biggest plum tree ever to grow on the Earth. It grew those big black plums. You know the kind, big as an apple and sweeter that sugar cane and when you bit into one, the juice would run down your face in tiny torrents and no matter how hot the day, the flesh of the plums was always cool.

Whenever we would visit Cousin Florence, we would ask if we could pick a plum from her tree. She would say, “Oh, I wish you would. They are breaking down my tree. Don’t take just one, take two or three.”

She’d say to you, she’d say this to me

And she’d say it every time, to friend and stranger alike.

So what transpired one week in my eighth summer is worthy of note.

One day in mid summer, we, the kids in the neighborhood, had finished our chores and we were thinking of something to do. We came upon a plan.

It was brilliant plan, one of stealth and daring do. It would involve all of us and require precision, coordination, and cunning. Timing was of the utmost importance and  communication was essential.

What was this plan, this mission impossible you ask?

We were going to steal Cousin Florence’s plums.

Our plan, and it was beautiful, was that the girls would stage various distractions along the highway and in people’s front yards while the boys would sneak through the woods behind the houses until they were behind Cousin Florence’s house. While distracting her and her husband on their front porch, the boys would stealthily come upon the tree and steal the low hanging fruit.

We thought our plan flawless and we executed it with the skill of a James Bond (minus the whole getting caught part). We met in my backyard upon completion of the mission and shared the spoils of our labor. It all went so perfectly and the thrill was so intense that naturally, we decided to do it again the next day.

Out next expedition did not go so well.  It seemed our odd behavior the day before had raised suspicions and the adults of our community were on alert that something was up.

We were caught

Our bounty was confiscated

And belts and switches were waiting for us in our respective homes.

My grandmother, with each swing of the switch, asked in staccato fashion, “Why… did… you… steal… those… plums?”

All I could get out between yowls of pain was, “I don’t know!”

And the truth was, I didn’t know. See, the theft of the plums wasn’t about the plums. Every child involved knew all he or she had to do was ask and they could have all the plums they wanted. Ever child involved had bowls and bags of those same plums in their refrigerators.

The theft wasn’t about the plums, it was about the PLAN. It was the planning, the pretending, the creeping that was the attraction, was the fun.

Not about the plums, but about the plan.

What is going on in Raleigh, and in state house across Red-state America, ain’t about the plums, but about the plan and if you don’t get that, then you are missing the point.

  • If you think the problem is Republicans making govt so small it can fit in woman’s vagina, then you have missed the point
  • If you think the problem is making voting so complicated as to disenfranchise as many non-GOP voting bases as possible, then you missed the point
  • If you think the idea is to purge the nation of Spanish speaking dark skinned people people, then you have missed the point
  • If you think the idea is to privatize public education, then you have missed the point
  • If you think the problem is any ONE thing, then you have missed the point

It ain’t about the plums, it’s about the plan.

And what is the plan?


Not the 1953 that was, but the one on the TV. Pre-Roe v. Wade, pre-Brown v. Board, pre Griswald, pre color. A place where everything and everyone stayed in his, her, its place; a place determined not but work or merit but a script writer selling eyeballs to advertisers using formulaic story telling transmitted through a picture tube.

They want to bring back a time that never was in order to further an agenda that never worked and to enrich people who never deserved it.

You can’t just protect one plum, you have to watch the whole tree, guard the whole tree, protect the whole tree.

You can’t be distracted.

It ain’t about the plums, it’s about the plan.

A very ugly word.

The word nigger is a very ugly word.

This poem sums just how ugly

By Countee Cullen

(For Eric Walrond)

Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, “Nigger.”

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That’s all that I remember.

Not saying not to use it. Not my place to say.

And I know I shouldn’t give power to the word. I have heard all the arguments from co-opting it to using it until it is rendered useless.

In the end, none of those arguments work because the need for those arguments betrays them. Why would I want to co-opt the word nigger? Why should I need to render it useless? What good has or does the word done or do? What are it’s redeeming qualities? What beauty does it hold that makes it too precious to let go? Perhaps there is a tragic truth that only it can express and to lose it would be to break from reality?

Not saying not to use it. Not my place to say.

But perhaps a more judicious use of it? It is a word with a history, a word that to this day holds the power to order murder. And the Queen’s English is a poor enough vehicle for communication, we can ill afford to lose more words, lose more meaning. Nor should we hide our precious egos from the ugliness of history, the wretchedness of truth, the nakedness of shadow.

Not saying not to use it. Not my place to say.

I will say this, it doesn’t make you cool, doesn’t make you down with the cause. Black folk who use it as a ball in a game of keep away, you do the world no favors. White folk who use it to show how you have embrace your inner “wigger,” you do the world no favors. It seems as had been the case for most of its history, the honesty in that word comes served with venom, bile, and malevolent revulsion. It always comes from a place of self hate, no matter the color of spewer. And its purpose is always cruel, even when said with a smile and hug and proceeded by “my.”

Not saying not to use it. Not my place to say.

Poets and prosists have used the word to great effect exploring its violence and exposing its parasitic nature. Its tragic truth, its seductive misery, its damning invective against speaker and listener. And yet…

And yet we cannot let it go. It is the bastardization of our exceptionalism, it is the hate that gives us meaning, our cross to bear and on whose timbers we sacrifice whatever gods we see, whatever souls we be and loathe in the truth of our imperfection.

Not saying not to use it. Not my place to say.

What Girls Don’t Want

I watched the new HBO show Girls.

I was not impressed.

The direction was good, cinematography was good, the performances were OK, I guess.

I didn’t like it.

I don’t like shows that depict self-indulgent behavior as acceptable. I don’t like shows about whiny women (particularly young whiny white women with college degrees and influential parents living in a city where thousands of children haven’t time to worry about dumb shit because they are on constantly the verge of homelessness, hunger, incarceration and deprivation), I don’t like shows too obsessed with themselves to take the time necessary to understand themselves.

I like this article tho.

But the show doesn’t just get race wrong, it gets class wrong, and from the episode I saw, it is even getting women wrong.

First the race thing.

Do you have to have black friends? No.
Black love interest? No.
Black landlord or whacky neighbor next door? No.

But really, no black people in restaurants, stores, elevators, ON THE SIDEWALK???
Strike that, one black man is on the sidewalk and he compliments the main character. He’s homeless and most likely insane but he allowed to use the sidewalk and flatter white woman.

Oh happy day.

The Asian woman (“the” as in the singular) is hired because she knows software? Really? This is as original as you can get?

Computer person, Asian
Homeless person, black.
This member of the viewing public, not surprised

Now class.

We travel, we attend university and finish, we lose parental support and then go to grandmother, we get to be eternal unpaid interns and NOT get the lights cut off or our possessions put out on the curb. And when we have problems (such as they are), we get to whine. We get to have mothers who actually make sense but are obviously evil and cruel, so we, the whiny and willfully weak, get all the sympathy even though we are wrong. And no doubt their therapists bills will get paid as will their medication bills and any other bills that may come up.

And finally, womanhood.

Why is the star having bad sex? Why are grown women sounding like twelve year olds? Why is a show about grown assed women called GIRLS?

All these things could be forgiven, hell even celebrated if not for the fact that the show doesn’t own what it is doing. It, like its main character, is denial about what it is. She is a young woman with ambition, talent, and a history of some damn lucky breaks and NONE of that has she decided to used to her own advantage. The show could be cutting edge and deep and timely …

we’ll see if it ever is