Archive for August, 2012

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On a recent trip to the grocery store, I was confronted by an illicit practice that had me in a pensive frame of mind.  It was blatant, hurtful and downright wrong!  The Grove Hall Mecca, in Dorchester, MA, the checkpoint between Roxbury and Dorchester, where Warren Street meets Blue Hill Avenue, is where the injustice took place.  In Grove Hall, there are several businesses; one of them is Stop & Shop.

This landmark of a national food store is inthe proverbial core, the “Mecca” for African-Americans, sitting on the convergence of the two aforementioned towns.  I entered through the slow-opening automatic doors, with two babies sitting in the carriage, I went in, in search of quality “organic” fruits to feed my children and was utterly shocked and disappointed to learn that this location does not carry organic products.  “What!?”  I asked the Grocery Manager, Peter.  He gave me a poor prejudicial excuse saying that “people don’t spend the extra money on organic in this part of town and it goes to waste, so they’d rather not carry it.”  I understand about the waste part but, to say that people in this part of town don’t buy organic is just unacceptable.  I’m a part of this part of town and I’m a part of these people.  If I didn’t feel that I could go to the Grove Hall Stop & Shop, for my convenience and expect the same quality of produce and products that I could get elsewhere, I surely wouldn’t have been there.  It was painfully clear that I was basically told that Blacks don’t by organic!

NOT TRUE!  I know several people from my diaspora that exclusively buy organic.  They do it because of the several health benefits, the taste is superior, the way it treats your insides is a lot better than non-organic foods.  The issue is cost.  Organic foods are 70 cents to $1 more than conventional foods.  The higher rates also includes meats, vegetables and grains.  Organic = Hands On, so it’s more personal labor and not machine so it costs more to produce it and more for us to buy it.

After looking around in the store under a faded-spell of hope, I packed the boys back in the truck and drove about two miles to South Bay Stop & Shop.  As soon as I walked in I was greeted with a big sign “Organic Blueberries” then I saw another sign, “Organic Strawberries”, these were exactly what I was looking for.  I usually go to the South Bay store anyway because its closer but, I said let me go to Grove Hall since I was in the area, not anymore.

There are reports from universities and hospitals about studies done on the affects of foods in Urban versus Suburban communities.  The findings are disturbing but, not surprising.  In Urban areas you have fast food and liquor stores next to each other, in the Suburbs not so much.  So not only do African-Americans not have access to healthier Organic foods, we’re exposed to being abundantly overfed and inebriated at an easier rate than our well-to-do friends.  There are ways to get these institutions out of the hood; it’s called “Don’t shop there anymore!”  When they can’t afford to stay where they are, they leave and go elsewhere or out of business altogether.  We must demand better for ourselves and our children.  Although, urban development initiatives shelter the fast food and liquor stores in our communities with “certain” monies to keep them afloat, it’s still up to us to not let them keep us unhealthy and drunk at discounted rates.

Maybe with all of the re-zoning and re-redistricting going on in Boston, we can get some organic produce in the hood?  Hey they’re taking our votes so why not have something beneficial in exchange?

So, my conclusion is that in order to eat healthy, you have to shop outside of urban areas and shop where the potential for white-consumerism is higher.  I’m going to start up a ‘protest-for-produce’ campaign, who’s with me?

I think I’ll write a letter and sign it….

Sincerely,
Berry Disappointed

CT

A Merry Maid!

Blog! O’ Blog, where have you been my old trusty Blog?  Hey, I’ve been off the blog tip for a couple of days now but, I think I’m back.

The Academy Awards…what a spectacle of shit.  Sorry, but not really.  Glitz and glam, all pomp and no circumstance (I usually use that term to describe people at my job but, I digress), in the real world people are dying and all we seem to pay attention to is how well someone welled up some fake tears or how good a gaping digital hole in someone’s body looked.

Can we poor folks borrow a dollar please….I just want to keep my lights on.

I do enjoy the movies but, at the same time, the realism that surrounds us regular people every day is worthy of greater recognition and not as important to me as who is a better actor or a better ‘pretender’ than the next.  Real tears, real struggles and real holes in people are a non-scripted problem in our society today.  Okay, I get it, we all need a break from reality sometimes but, what if movie fiction becomes our reality…Oh, wait it already has.

As I watched the show, there was so much money floating around the Kodak Theater in Hollywood I’m sure their combined cash could save the world or at least this part of it but, what’s important to them isn’t important to a little person like me and vice-versa.  For them, the caviar may be too salty, for regular folk, will I be able to feed my family tonight?

I have never really watched the Academy Awards before but, the fact that a couple of women of color were nominated this year, drew me to the exhibition.  Now, my mind isn’t color-coded but, I do support my own when it’s needed so don’t go calling nobody on me.  I’ll tell you in a minute.  Anyway; Yes, my bias reasoning for watching the Oscars was because two Black women were up for awards.  Guilty as charged!

The opportunity isn’t really there for Black actors or actresses so; it was a definite draw to the TV for me.  I felt I had to watch because usually when Black women or people in general are nominated for this ethnically-elusive award, it’s usually because the portrayed character is usually a criminal, a whore or some societal-destitute, in this case; Maids or mammies, whatever you want to call them.  These women were in subservient roles and played them very well to the standards of the house and the hands that wrote the story and for those that brought it to the big screen.  I also felt comfort knowing that I wouldn’t  have to worry about seeing any Madea movie clips!

Congratulations to Octavia Spencer for her win for supporting actress and for “The Natural” Ms. Viola Davis for going toe-to-Salvatore Ferragamo with megastar Meryl Streep, which is a great accomplishment all its own.

Still, there are complaints from within the Black community about this and that so, in the words of Hilly Holbrook “Shut Up Mother!”

Maybe if so many of us weren’t sitting in front of the TV so much, we’d have bigger things to worry about…like my next Blog 🙂

CT

FATHERHOOD

Posted: August 27, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Fatherhood is defined as:

1. the state of being a father.
2. fathers collectively.
3. the qualities or spirit of a father.1) I believe in Fatherhood. I believe in it strongly, even though I wasn’t privy to it as a child. I made pledges and promises to be there for my children no matter what. Sacrifices made, hearts broken and lives and attitudes changed but, overall it’s been a “maturing” and “humbling” experience nonetheless. Being a father is about being there as best you can, working hard to provide for your family, being a leader, a protector and an example to be followed.

2) Not speaking for all fathers but, isn’t it a great feeling to feel that little hand inside of yours, and then watch that same hand grow and grow and grow as it fills your hand and your heart. It’s amazing how fast they grow; how fast they learn and absorb the good and the bad we offer them. I love being a father and by no means is it easy.  I enjoy being in the company of other fathers, good fathers and good men, that are there for their children and families.  In a way I see them as being there for me to help me be a better man and father to my own.

3) Being a father to 3 boys is great. Of course if they were girls or even if I had one, it would be just as wonderful.  I’m faced with a great challenge, an almost 17 year old and almost 2 year old twins…wow, I have to deal with teen angst and dirty diapers. This is a great experience and its all mine.  My children are my heart, its in my spirit to be the best father I can be!

Fatherhood….I love it!

Until you have a son of your own… you will never know the joy, the  love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of a father as he looks  upon his son. You will never know the sense of honor that makes a man  want to be more than he is and to pass something good and hopeful into  the hands of his son. And you will never know the heartbreak of the  fathers who are haunted by the personal demons that keep them from being  the men they want their sons to be.

CT

More Of This, Please!

More Of This, Please!

What a Mess …and I don’t mean that as a euphemism.  From half naked tweens to mud beaten streets, Caribbean Carnival Boston 2012 was certainly a treat, but more of an eyesore.

Its celebration time, wave your flags, jump around and get undressed? – Boston Carnival 2012 surely didn’t disappoint this blogger that always has his finger on the trigger.  The one day that Ladies can let everything they’ve worked for hang out, literally and where Males walk around with ‘saggin’ Capri’s, effeminate house slippers (with socks) and multi-colored sunglasses.

Now, I’m certainly not a hater but I am a concerned parent and citizen.  Our people are a mess.  Don’t we have a full year to wait before each Carnival; isn’t that enough time to get whipped into shape so that you don’t looked like whipped cream trapped in a too-tight body suit?  I mean, c’mon ladies, is it really that serious that you have to come to Carnival with butts hanging, boob swanging and just wrong in your festive presentation?  From 6 to 16, I saw female children dressed err, barely dressed in the skimpiest loosest pieces of clothes in my life.  It can’t be right to think that this is okay.  These young girls walking with “they mama ass” I mean, serious trunk sized booty parading up the street.  Why does the Caribbean Carnival bring out such displays?  I can already hear the moans and groans and complaints about this blog but, how can anyone defend it.  Is it me, is it okay to dress half naked in public, in the streets just to say, “Hey, I’m West Indian, look at my ass.”  I don’t think so.

Let’s talk about the Americans.  So, suddenly all of us are West Indian when Carnival comes around.  Is it because we still don’t have anything cultural to attach ourselves to, so like other events or holidays we cling to it and make it our own in a fake-the-funk kinda way.  Saw people reppin’ Jamaica hard, Trinidad, Barbados like crazy look, just because you eat the food, know the dances and respect the culture that does not make you that culture.  Represent fine, but don’t talk to me in an accent you didn’t have when we were standing at the water fountain talking about your 401K. I’ve gotten the, “Oh, my cousin is Jamaican or my uncle on mama daddy side was Trini” So, that makes it okay for you to waive a flag?  I guess it’s like celebrating Fourth of July and not really knowing why, just wanting to fit in or like I said earlier, attach to something else since we don’t have anything of our own to cling to.

From fresh fruit stands, dollar waters, food vendors, a shit-load of cops and a truck load of ass, the festival was more than I bargained for.  I wasn’t going to attend in the first place but, the call of the wild was loud and I was drawn to it, like Square One was the pied piper and I was a stray cat that kept being pulled in by the roving bass.  Many years passed since I’ve been to the Boston carnival, mainly, due to senseless violence but, I took a chance and steered clear of thickly settled areas.  The sights, I tell you weren’t anything to really disgust, I mean discuss but, there was no shortage of SMH moments.

The event has moved on until next year and I hope that this message comes off as sincere, to my readers and that what I say is from the heart and I love you but, suggest to your Carnival revelers to work out! Go for a hike, hit the gym, and eat better so that next year, so many of us won’t have to be subjected to “Mama’s gutta booty” on a 15 year old!  We need more Fathers!

CT

Gone Camping with Hike4Life

Posted: August 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

Gone Camping with Hike4Life.

The Liberation of Aunt Jemima
Inspired by art that no artist would claim

Liberation Of Aunt Jemima

I came across this image today and was intrigued by the title. “The Liberation of Aunt Jemima” and decided to blog about it.  It’s been a while kiddies, I hope that you haven’t forgotten about your friendly neighborhood pot stirrer!  In my moment of mental brevity, I studied this image and came to a startling assumption.  Aunt Jemima, whoever she was caricatured after, was probably never paid royalties!  Based on the history of Black Americans in this country especially, during the Slave era, blacks were paid menially or not at all.

Allegedly, this flour laden treat was mixed together first in 1889, 25 years or so after the civil war and the “on paper” end of Slavery, I’m sure there were poorly carried out negotiations for that oh so secret recipe.  Credit for its embezzled goodness is given to Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood of the Pearl Milling Company and if we all know Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, we know that it was stolen and claimed to be their own.

If that’s not the case, Aunt Jemima, the name, the product and the imagery has been a clever marketing icon that’s lasted for over a century!

We may ask why would the Pearl Milling Company do that, use a Black woman to market their product?  This country was still full of hatred and disdain for these newly freed Africans.  Mockery and cruelty was publicly accepted and perpetuated through stage shows and later radio and television; could the interests of turning the “suffering” of Blacks into tasteless entertainment be conceived as a fool-proof marketing tool?  Could it be that way back when, they knew that marketing Black women was going to be acceptable no matter how negative it was?  African women were a big draw at slave auctions, attracting 1000’s from all over to pay and vie for “suitable wenches” that would be good around the house and in the masters bedroom.  So for this company to use the “mammy archetype” in pre-civil rights America would seem like a recipe for disaster and yet it happened and it worked!

Nancy Green

Nancy Green was hired in 1890 as the first Aunt Jemima representative to be on the boxes and on the road at cooking shows.  A former slave, Nancy Green probably didn’t have the knowledge or even an idea of what she needed to get compensation for her image and her time.  In 1914, the new owners of the pirated recipe, R.T. Davis Milling Company, renamed the company “Aunt Jemima Mills”, which was credited to the success of the company and its minstrel spokeswoman.  Green was offered a lifetime contract to adopt the Aunt Jemima moniker and promote the pancake mix.

Although her money was short, she did have some financial freedom, using her income to engage in activism and anti-poverty campaigns.  Unfortunately, at the age of 89 years, she was killed after being struck by a car in Chicago.  As the first African model hired to promote a national American product and corporate trademark, Nancy Green will forever be remembered and endeared as Aunt Jemima or “Slave in a Box”.

Anna Robinson

Next up to the auction block is Anna Robinson, our second Auntie J.  From this picture it looks like she may have had too many flap jacks…Whoa! Guess I was being a bit insensitive, but she clearly wasn’t a picture of health.  As I read up on Ms. Robinson, she was 350 pounds and darker than Nancy Green, which worked out for the marketers and promoters to help them stick with their pancake making mammy.  Even today, corporate America hints a silent prerequisite for thick robust Black women to promote products that may not be good for us.  Whether it’s fried chicken, inhaling harmful cleaning products or distasteful music videos, these women are used as tools, to fool the fools, into suckling the brand that is being endorsed.

Speaking of suckling, is “mammy” a play on mammary, as in breasts, Black breasts that white children suckled on while the “mammies” watched over the slave masters chil’ren?  I wonder if that is where the word originated from.

Edith Wilson

Here is Edith Wilson, one of the more socially acceptable Aunt Jemima’s.  She doesn’t have the appearance of the stereotypical “mammy”.  She is of lighter complexion, suitably attractive; she has that classic 20-30’s look.  Her career lasted 18 years as the face and voice of Aunt Jemima – first on radio then in advertisements and appearances at pancake breakfasts’.  So, back to liberation!  Who was she, who was the real “mammy” that gave those white boys the pancake recipe that has endured for 123 years?  Was she compensated, if so how?  After all of these years has she received her due?  I think she has.  Yes, the name, Aunt Jemima is one of the most degrading names from the Slave and Minstrel Era that has endured up to this day, Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and Asians, consume this product without thought and without recognizing the history behind the offensive, delicious goodness in every flapjack we eat.

It’s funny how Blacks,  at our own expense, motivate profitable ideas to others through our self-slander and misery.

The Old Aunt Jemima was a popular song composed by an African comedian, songwriter and minstrel show performer, a Black man named Billy Kersands (c. 1842–1915) The Old Aunt Jemima song was not only the inspiration for Aunt Jemima pancakes, it also inspired several characters in film, television and on radio.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Aunt_Jemima)

I for one take guilty pleasure in eating AJ pancakes, I do it to honor the sacrifice, to honor the history of the product and they taste so much better than Bisquick or Eggo so, yes I’m guilty.

“Idealism”

There is a subtext lurking beneath the Aunt Jemima advertisements. She embodied an early twentieth century idealized domesticity that was inspired by old southern hospitality. There were others that capitalized on this theme such as: Uncle Ben’s Rice and Cream of Wheat’s Rastus. The backdrop to the trademark image of Aunt Jemima is a romanticized view of antebellum plantation life. The myth surrounding Aunt Jemima’s secret recipe, family life, and plantation life as a happy slave all contribute to the post-civil war idealism of southern life and America’s developing consumer culture. Early advertisements used an Aunt Jemima paper doll family as an advertising gimmick to buy the product. Aunt Jemima is represented with her husband Rastus, whose name was later changed to Uncle Mose to avoid confusion with the Cream of Wheat character, and their four children: Abraham Lincoln, Dilsie, Zeb and Dinah. The doll family was dressed in tattered clothing and barefoot with the possibility to see them transform from rags to riches by buying another box with civilized clothing cut-outs.” – Credit goes to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aunt_Jemima)

Idealism aside and taste buds appeased, The Liberation of Aunt Jemima is an interesting piece of artwork and unfortunately I was unable find the artist to give credit or grievance to.  Finance & Freedom: would have been absolute liberation for a woman of that era,  but I’m sure the real Aunt Jemima never experienced either.

“In recent years, Aunt Jemima has been given a makeover: her skin is lighter and the handkerchief has been removed from her head. She now has the appearance of an attractive maid — not a Jim Crow era mammy.”  (http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/mammies/)

At least she’s not a mammy, or a slave in a box, she’s been upgraded to a maid…Hope that came with a pay increase?

Free Aunt Jemima!

Aunt Jemima Pancakes

CT