Die in the Winter
“Do not go gentle into that good night… Rage, rage against
the dying of the light!” -Dylan Thomas
The presents are gone, the lavish holiday meals have been digested, and
the champagne bottles are empty. The wonderful white Christmas is turning
into, “not that white crap…again!” It’s a new
year!! Although we greet it with great expectation, this is the time of
year when many of us begin a slow death until spring arrives to rejuvenate
Living in Boston during the winter is almost an oxy moron. It's next to
impossible to “live” when it's twelve degrees and the wind
feels like a pair of claws scrapping your face. So many Bostonians retreat
indoors, where the sofa is comfortable and the heat is warm. Can you blame
us? For many whom have lost loved ones in the past year, have recently
relocated, children have left the nest, or have experienced a life-altering
event in 2003, this is a time of grave loneliness and or depression.
The chill of the outdoors, gloominess of being inside, and the absence
of the familiar, combined, can weaken even the most stable. Like the vibrant
red, yellow, and green leaves that appear each fall in New England, by
January we too die in the winter!
If this situation rings familiar, fear not. I have a suggestion on how
we can all be like the evergreens...vibrant and colorful throughout the
cold and dark winter.
Mark Twain said, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand!”
The Rev. Dr. Conley Hughes Jr.(Concord Baptist Church) reminds his flock
often that, “ this joy I have…the world didn’t give
it to me, and the world can’t take it away!” Life is meant
to be a joyous experience all of the time.
The Bible tells us (James 1:2) to count it all joy when hard times come.
So you see, it's imperative to smile, laugh, and be joyous during this
was the last time you laughed? I mean a gut busting, side splitting, tears
rolling down your face, good laugh! If you can’t remember, do you
remember what a good laugh feels or looks like? We can take our cues from
children. When children find something funny, their laughter is uncontrollable!
Children make the ugliest faces and their little bodies contort into the
most unimaginable positions. This is pure joy, and it is contagious. Somewhere
on our journeys we were conditioned into believing that it is politically
incorrect to laugh out loud. But it is high time we change our minds and
Go ahead, try it; I dare you! Call your friends and family and laugh about
the time when... Laugh about that dating mishap. Laugh about the shirt
that you thought was the bomb, but was a bomb. Go ahead, try it; I dare
you! Invite your co-workers to lunch and laugh. Laugh about the holiday
party. Laugh at the boss. Laugh at each other. Go ahead, try it; I double
dare you! Have a party, large or small, and laugh. Laugh with your neighbors
until they become friends. Laugh at your childhood pictures. Laugh at
the person you used to be. Laugh at the memories. Laugh at the diets failed.
Laugh at the gym membership you are paying for and never use. Laugh at
the economy. Laugh at the bills. Laugh at your paycheck. Laugh during
good times. Laugh during bad times. Laugh when it hurts. Laugh when it
feels good. Laugh! Laugh out loud and laugh for your life!
So this winter, when you feel the leaves of your life wilting and the
color starting to fade, stop. Stop and remember that no matter how dark
the situation, the evergreens hold their color because they know that
this season won’t last forever. Remember that you are still here,
and you are your best thing! Remember until you start to smile. Remember
until that smile turns into a giggle. Remember until the giggle turns
into thunderous laugh. And when asked why you are laughing so hard, simply
reply, “Because I just can’t help myself!”
*A special thanks to Mildred Rock for your research and assistance.
Nation, Under God” or Religion?
Recently I attended a well known church in Brooklyn where the “man
of God” aggressively stated that if you don’t want to be thought
of as gay, then don’t hang around gay people. This was the first
of many outlandish statements. I haven’t heard such nonsense since
the late eighties when teen pregnancy was rising. Similarly, if your friend
got pregnant you couldn’t associate with them because you too would
get pregnant. Is this what we, as humans are teaching our children?
He went on to say that if you came to “his” church and stated
that you are gay and needed help, then you could stay. BUT, if you stated
that, “This is who I am, and you have to accept it,” then
he would put you out. In his opinion, this is a necessary action because,
“rebellious spirit is contagious and before you know it…there
will be more of them than there are of us!”
How could the merciful and loving God that I have grown to know agree
with such foolishness?
I was born and raised in the “Bible Belt” of America. There,
I was taught that you can’t measure your goodness by what you don’t
do and whom you don’t hang around, but Jesus represents goodness
because of whom he embraced, even though many considered him undesirable
due to the taboo places he journeyed.
The difference is Jesus knew his calling and was able to shine in the
darkest of places. So, if we are made in His image, then we too are able
to do the same. I also learned that the church is like a hospital, it
provides care, healing, and rehabilitation to the sin sick soul. But as
I sat there, I thought that if a sick person were to come here with wounds,
salt would be the bandage of choice. The Church is supposed to be winning
souls. When church folk* are preoccupied with Bible beating, judging,
and condemning others, it leaves me to wonder, when do they find time
to save souls?
What exactly is the message are we teaching our children? That if you
are gay, you are a bad person? The sad thing is that many in the black
community still believe this. And as the number of African-Americans with
AIDS grows, we still make it harder for our sexually alternative brothers
and sisters to be open about who they chose to love. They feel threatened
and alone. So, they hide from their spouses, lovers, and families, and
many unknowingly spread the virus throughout the black community.
What we need to do is to educate our children about compassion and how
to respect one another. Let them know that people are allowed to make
choices for their lives. Although we may not agree, it’s ultimately
their choice. Show our children what is means to be human and Christ-like.
We have to lead by example. Religion isn’t doing it. Religion lets
pedophiles disguised as priests, nuns, pastors, deacons, and missionaries
molest and or turn out our children at young ages. So sure, let’s
blame the gays…Why? In our minds do we believe that they are weak,
thus an easy target?
I long for the day when we fight not just some, but all the little battles
that create the wars. If we're going to protest gays then we should also
get this upset and feel this passionately about everything. Why not protest
Kobe Bryant for being an adulterer. Not passively accepting it because,
“he’s a baller!” I want us to protest our neighbors
that are living together and are not married. I want us to protest our
President for lying to us about, “weapons of mass destruction!”
I want us to protest everyone who has sex outside of marriage. I want
us to protest the crooked CEO that is stealing from the company and it’s
Let’s make a BIG deal out of all of them and not just easy targets
like Martha Stewart. Let’s us not down grade our issue and upgrade
someone else’s “in the name of Jesus!”
Practice some love, compassion, and respect for one another…. like
*Church Folk (people whom attend church and connect more with the teachings
of their religion than with God)
On the Grind
“Everyday it’s a struggle trying to hustle some dough. If
you were raised in the hood, well then you already know. It be days it
be good, but mostly money be slow. Have you ever been hungry be fo?”
– Dead Prez.
It seems that lately my “normal” schedule has been anything
but normal. Even as I write, tomorrow has crept into today. I remember
days when I woke up with the sun and went to bed shortly after the moon
came up. Now, I am awakened at 6:15am and the day doesn’t end until
1:30am the next morning. Why, all for the pursuit of money, money, and
We desire the lives our parents didn’t have to give us. We want
the lives we see on television. “What do we want, MONEY! When do
we want it, NOW!” And now is the time, but many of us forget to
We often get caught up in the grind and forget to live right now, in the
moment. We are working harder. We have gotten promotions and raises. Yet,
we still put off that trip that we’ve been planning since we graduated
from college. We have put our lives on hold for our families. We have
sacrificed our dreams and our passions in order to get…there.
Somewhere, someone told us that there was better than here. Somewhere,
somebody lied. There is never better than here. Or as my “big mama”
would say, “the grass ain’t always greener on the other side,
and if it is….they water bill is sky high.” Here is where
we live and work, why not make the best of it? Here is the path we have
chosen to travel, why not enjoy the scenery along the way? I am reminded
of my 9th grade teacher saying, “half the fun is getting there!”
But are you having fun? Or are we too busy being tired, broke, and disgusted
to look at how healthy our families are? Or have we been on the grind
too long to see all that we have accomplished and acquired over there
years. Truth be told, we have more than our parents ever had.
If you are looking around and still aren’t happy….you are
the author of your story. Write yourself happy! Resurrect you inner desires,
dreams, and passion. Have a dream revival, right her and right now! But
instead of associating your dreams with money. Know that your wealth is
in your dreams. Bill Gates had a passion for computers and by doing his
passion, he became wealthy. Donald Trump has an eye for prime real estate
and has made a fortune with his gifts. Oprah didn’t set out to be
a billionaire, but by following her passions she has become the most powerful
woman of our time.
So the next time you find yourself dreaming of this phantasmagoric, bling-bling,
bootylicious, storybook life, remember that the life you seek… just
might be your own!
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They say that you never really know a man until you’ve walked a
mile in his shoes. But many would never make it a block in a black man’s
shoes. Whether you are a black man, raise a black man, live with a black
man, or love a black man, you see first hand the day to day demons that
seem to plague him everyday.
Far from the everyday prejudices and stereotypes that black men face on
a daily basis, ask any black man and he will tell you that the lack of
support from family and community makes life more difficult.
No one is to blame and everyone is to blame. You see more black men marrying
white women, and why? Many say it is because white women are supportive
and don’t nag, gripe, or complain all the time. Sisters say that
brothers have commitment issues. Many brothers grew up in single mother
homes. So they weren’t given good examples about committing to relationships.
What most brothers learned about women and sex came from friends and or
trial and error. Sisters also state that all the good brothers are either
married or gay. Hint- if you think this way, this is what you will find
.The good news is that there are plenty “good” brothers out
there. The question I have found myself asking is, “are you a good
A relationship is about two “whole” people joining together
for the purpose of growth. You see, just because he looks like 50 cent
on the outside, doesn’t guarantee he’ll be your knight in
shinning armor. Black men have issues, past hurts and daddy hungers that
they deal with also. Black men feel, black men hurt, and black men love.
The problem is you may have to go through the feeling and the hurt to
get to the love. But that’s where making him your friend first is
a crucial step. Someone once said that, “loving a black man is like
welcoming home a war veteran.”
Unlike black women, black men suffer alone and in silence. Black men aren’t
taught to have “sister circles of support” with other black
men. Black men are taught that it is weak to show emotion. Black men don’t
have talk shows and magazines like Oprah and Essence that address their
issues. All black men have is what black women offer them. What are you
offering your brother, son, husband, or lover? Love, compassion, and understanding
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t imply that you should be a doormat
or play the fool for a black man. But once you love a black man, work
with him not against him, and commit to understanding his plight. As Susan
L. Taylor says, “before he becomes your lover, make him your friend
and see him as your brother.” Choose your battles carefully because
everything can’t be worth arguing over. “And when there’s
conflict- soften your heart, see his innocence or ignorance, and don’t
have an attitude. Practice peace in your home and all the behaviors you
want him to adopt.”
Loving a black man can be very rewarding for him and our communities.
Allowing the black man to stand and take his position in our homes and
communities takes away the additional burdens black women have taken on
in his absence. So the next time you see the blue collar, white collar,
thug, sexually alternative, damaged, broken, and or confused brother don’t
make a judgment. Ask yourself, “Am I my brother’s keeper,
and if not… who is?”
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