Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Friday, December 22, 2006

Andre Braugher Nominated for Golden Globe Award

“I am a free man, as was my father before me.”

When Andre Braugher delivered this line in the film Glory, I knew he was going to be one of the great ones. He probably saw that line in the script and thought, “This is what all the training has been for. That Shakespeare preparation is gonna pay off right here!”

Braugher just oozes with confidence and fierceness when it comes to acting. That’s why I was thrilled that he won the Emmy award for his role as Nick Atwater in the FX miniseries, Thief, and why I’m rooting for him to win the Golden Globe best actor award for the same role.

In the series, which began shooting in New Orleans just before Katrina struck, Nick leads a band of robbers on heist jobs that yield millions of dollars. Although Braugher’s character can be scary at times, he also has a soft side when it comes to his family. Mid-robbery he answers a cell phone call from his wife who wants him to talk to a police officer who has taken his stepdaughter Tammi down to the station. Nick convinces the officer to give Tammi another chance and goes right back to breaking into a bank vault.

In another well-done scene, Braugher displays his charisma and fine acting skills as he deals with one of his Christian born-again robbers, the sad-eyed Clifton Collins, Jr. Collins, who plays Jack in the series, tells Nick that he’s feeling guilty about the robbery they’ve planned. Seemingly amused, Nick looks at him as if to say, “You can’t be serious.” But in the next second he grabs Jack’s shoulders and tells him, “I need you.” Braugher delivers the line like a mother telling a child to “stop this nonsense and straighten up.” Jack hops to it.

It’s obvious that Nick adores Wanda, his white wife, but has trouble relating to Tammi. Scenes between Nick and Tammi, trying to get along, after Wanda is killed in a car accident, are some of the most compelling father-daughter pieces ever done on television.

Unfortunately, FX isn’t bringing Thief back due to a lack of viewers. What a shame. Why do the quality television programs always get the axe?

Oh well. Although he won’t be back for another season of Thief, Braugher deserves the Golden Globe award for the hard work he put in down in the Big Easy. The Golden Globes Awards will be televised on NBC, Monday, January 15.

Check out this interview with Braugher on

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Shot Police Officer Gets Friendly Visit from Titans Player

I don’t know much about the Tennessee Titans because I haven’t followed professional football in years. Even if I were to watch a game, it would be one involving the Philadelphia Eagles, my former favorite team and the team my Dad pulls for every week.

But I have been hearing a lot about the troubles of Titans player Adam “Pacman” Jones. I haven’t focused much on the news about Pacman’s run-ins with the law, but when I found out that Jones jumped at the chance to visit Danita Marsh, a Nashville police officer who was severely wounded on duty in late October, I took a look at some of the press clips on Jones. It seems “Pacman” has had some bad luck with the law, including charges of disorderly conduct, misdemeanor assault, and public intoxication. What a shame that this 23-year-old with such a shining chance to establish a great football career is finding it hard to behave himself.

Maybe his visit with Marsh is a sign that he’s going to try to turn things around. The Tennessean reported last week that Metro Police Commander Louise Kelton was in Marsh’s hospital room when Jones visited. The newspaper also reported that Jones spent over two hours with Marsh.

“He pulled a chair next to Danita’s bed and they had a conversation like they had been friends for years,” Kelton told The Tennessean. “They had this down-home conversation about food, likes, dislikes. They had some laughs. It really meant a lot to her.”

Hopefully, like Jones, others will want to extend warmth and help to Marsh who is paralyzed from the waist down. The officer was shot when she responded to a call from a domestic violence victim. The victim’s boyfriend, Willie Lee Lindsley, shot Marsh several times in the upper body and in the hip.

Funds in Marsh’s name have been established for those who want to support Marsh and her 9-year-old son. Checks payable to the Danita Marsh Fund can be mailed to any Citizens Bank in Nashville. Checks may also be sent to the MPD Community Credit Union, 306 Gay Street, Suite 105, Nashville, TN, 37201 and The Hundred Club of Nashville, P.O. Box 190428, Nashville, TN, 37219.

Let’s send out lots of love and healing energy to Danita Marsh and her entire family.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Let Them Eat for Goodness Sake!

The Homeless Guy, Kevin Barbieux, reports some disturbing news today about police officers chasing away people in Nashville public places who are trying to feed the homeless. “It's just another attempt to rid cities of homeless people, based on the idea that homeless people are attracted to certain areas because of offerings of food,” he said.

But he says church groups take the food to places where they think homeless people are. He says this effort to thwart the feeding of homeless people is a way for “certain people” to cut off the source of food for the homeless so that homeless people won’t congregate in certain areas. It seems cruel to try to zone off certain public places for only certain kinds of people. Why not let homeless people eat and sleep in places like parks? Is it that we don’t want to see the devastation that this society has caused in various segments of the population?

Also, the practice that Kevin mentions of “declaring that any food given to the homeless must be prepared in a kitchen subjected to the same municipal codes as restaurants,” is ridiculous. My mother, who lives in Delaware, says that officials there and in Pennsylvania have tried to enforce the same kind of silliness for churches and other groups who feed homeless folks. But a judge in Delaware called an end to the farce. He allowed a church to continue to feed the homeless without any kind of “inspection.” The judge, in essence, said officials took the code guidelines too far. Did it really take a judge to tell them that? Anybody with a modicum of compassion could see that holding a church kitchen to the same rules as a full-fledged restaurant is quite unnecessary.

Anyway, as Kevin said, he’s never gotten sick from food offered by independent operations. On the other hand, he has barfed a few times after eating food prepared at a rescue mission.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Immigrant Mothers Snatched from their Children

Most of the reactions posted on an Iowa newspaper’s Web site about last week’s swift raids on the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in Marshalltown, Iowa have been nothing short of cruel and hostile. Close to 100 immigrants were rounded up by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (known as ICE) and taken to Camp Dodge, an Iowa National Guard camp in Johnston, Iowa.

One reader posted this comment on the Des Moines Register’s Web site:

Who cares if the officials "violated rules"—the illegal invaders violated rules (also known as LAWS) when they ILLEGALLY came into the country …

Let's get some more of those busses loaded and rolling toward the jails, airports, and the Mexican border!!!!

Way to go ICE. You rock!!!!

How could you be so heartless when you hear this kind of story?

Mothers were taken away, leaving many children behind without supervision. One horrendous story involved a 22-year-old woman, Escalante who was arrested last Tuesday without being given time to find care for Ariana, her 4-month-old infant, who she was BREASTFEEDING. Immigration advocates who began fervently gathering these children, including Ariana, to care for them had problems feeding the child. Sister Christine Feagan, part of the St. Mary's Hispanic Ministry, said another mother tried to breastfeed the child, but the little girl knew it wasn’t her mother.

Anxious to find out whether this mom was reunited with her hungry baby, I e-mailed one of the Des Monies Register reporters covering this shameless story, Jennifer Jacobs. The reporter responded Saturday to inform me that the mother has been reunited with the child and the baby is eating. Thank God!

But many other children have still not been able to see their parents since the raid. At one point, early in this heinous mission, advocates, who were desperately trying to match parents with left behind children, were denied access to the detainees. Camp Dodge officials would not allow advocates to talk to the immigrants. Some advocates who were also immigrants were threatened with being arrested and deported if they, themselves, did not possess legal documentation.

Many aspects of this Iowa sweep are painful to read, but one thing many people may not know is that the people seized in the raid have not committed criminal infractions. If they do indeed lack the legal documentation needed to be in this country, that constitutes civil violations of immigration law. Was this sweep a just response to such civil violations? I say no. The crime here is that these government officials separated the breastfeeding mother and the other mothers of small children who depend on their parents for shelter and sustenance.

As the story moves along Immigration attorneys are questioning the ICE officials’ actions. Some of those officials are being accused of violating rules. I hope justice will prevail.

Here’s a comment posted by another Des Moines Register reader that quelled my shaken spirit after hearing about this human rights tragedy:

The vast majority of American citizens are descendants of immigrants (prior to the 1940s there were no immigration policies and all US borders were open.) Those of us whose ancestors were able to enter the country prior to any policy have no business looking down on those who are trying to achieve the same result—a better life for themselves and their families.

As far as these undocumented workers are concerned, it is important to realize that they are NOT criminals. They are breaking a civil law, which is the same as you and I getting a ticket for a traffic violation.

Perhaps a trip to the many parts of the world that live below the poverty line would help people in this country understand the desperation of those who can barely feed their families while living in sight of the richest country in the world. The true solution requires creating fair and just immigration policies that allow those who desire to be productive an easy process to become citizens. Building fences and mass arrests only reinforce the poor reputation that America has in the eyes of the rest of the world.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Forest Whitaker, Will Smith Get Golden Globe Nominations

The Golden Globe Award nominations were announced today and surprsingly two African-American actors have been picked to compete for the Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture category: Will Smith for The Pursuit of Happyness and Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland.

Whitaker is one of my favorite actors and so I was elated to see his name on the list. His performance in the 1999 film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is shere poetry. I have even written a poem that's partially inspired by the film.

Whitaker has lost a considerable amount of weight recently, but when he played Ghost Dog (the name of his character in the film), he was a hulking piece of work. Despite his size, he moved as gracefully as a martial arts expert. His dance-like movement on the roof when he’s practicing with his katana sword is like watching ballet. You wonder how such a big man can move so effortlessly.

In a completely opposite role, Whitaker plays the delusional Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. Amin, who became Uganda’s President from 1971–1979, gained power after overthrowing Milton Obote. He then persecuted and killed upwards of 300,000 people from several ethnic groups. Amin was reportedly a cannibal who ate some of his victims, but Whitaker, who thoroughly researched the part, says those reports have never been proven.

All reviews thus far have raved about Whitaker's powerful performance in the film. I can’t wait to see it. Unfortunately, it’s not showing here in Nashville! A Belcourt Theatre representative said the film will not be shown there and I’m still waiting to hear back from the Nashville Film Festival Artistic Director. (My fingers are crossed!) Let's hope we get a repeat of the 2004 Oscar nominations when Don Cheadle and Jamie Foxx were picked to compete for the Actor in a Leading Role prize.

If The Last King of Scotland is playing in your town—-run, don’t walk to the theatre to see it! I’m sure you won’t be dissappointed.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Here's what the Nashville Film Festival's Artistic Director has to say about the film coming to Nashville;

Hi Alicia,

From what I understand the film probably will come to Nashville between now and Oscar time. The distributor opened the film in some major markets and is slowly rolling out the film. As Forrest Whitaker has begun to receive recognition for his role in the film, and therefore interest in the film is building, it will make its way here.

Looking forward to seeing it, too.


Brian Gordon
Artistic Director
Nashville Film Festival

Interview with Forest Whitaker on

Comments from customers who have seen the film:

When I saw this film opening weekend, a few people left the theater visibly shaken from these very disturbing scenes. Make no mistake, these scenes are appropriate to the film, but anyone squeemish in the face of film violence may want to think twice about seeing "The Last King of Scotland." — Padraig

This may be Whitaker’s best role to date and should earn him a Best Actor Oscar nod. The moment he first appears the tension becomes palpable. When he smiles, you sense the evil behind the grin. Throughout the film you cannot predict what he will do next, a reflection of Amin’s instability and a testament to the talent that Whitaker brings to the role. — Richard Krzemien

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Remembering Tara Cole

The story of Tara Cole is one that should be told over and over if we are to ever end such human tragedies as homelessness. For those who don’t know, in August, two Tennessee men pushed Tara Cole, a 32-year-old homeless woman, into the Cumberland River in Nashville, as she slept. I’m not going to go on and on here about how angry I am about this. I’m so appalled and still in such disbelief about Tara’s story that I’m not able to voice my opinion with any sort of coherence yet.

But if you’re in Nashville this weekend, please come to a place where Tara Cole will be honored--the 16th Annual Nashville Homeless Memorial Day service for those who have died while homeless. The event, sponsored by the Nashville Homeless Power Project, will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, December 16, Riverfront Park. Breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m.

The American Negro Playwright Theatre will also remember Tara Cole with its performance of Shelter, a play by Jim Reyland that explores a night in the life of some homeless people in Nashville. Barry Scott, ANPT’s Artistic Director, will direct and perform in the piece. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. December 13-16, the Thomas Edward Poag Auditorium on Tennessee State Unviersity’s campus. On December 17 the performance will start at 3:30 p.m. Call 615-579-4223 or e-mail for more information. All performances are free!

My friend Howard Allen, a homeless man who has been a longtime activist for the homeless, told theThe Tennessean that Tara didn’t have a chance to ask God for help because she was asleep. “But she’s home now,” Allen said. But he also said, “there are plenty of Taras still sleeping on the streets.” Let’s work hard to change that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Pomegranates—Super Fruit of the World

I have loved eating pomegranates (or as we called them "Chinese apples") since I was a child. I associate certain foods like Tastykake and the gorgeous red pomegranate with childhood. I just discovered the Tastykake company's Web site, so now I can have a taste of home in Nashville! The company's slogan was "all the good things wrapped up in one." We also loved pickles, Italian ice (water ice), sunflower seeds, Now & Later candy, subs, Utz and Herr’s potato chips, and the awesomely juicy pomegranate. I don't know why we loved them so much in my neighborhood, but somehow we found a way to eat them often as we played in the street.

Lately I've been noticing the fruit more and more in grocery stores. Also, the juice seems to be pretty popular (and expensive!), especially the POM brand. Lately I've introduced the fruit to our four-year-old daughter and surprisingly, she has adopted my passion for the fruit. She was surprised that I was able to chew most of the deep red pulp off the seeds and present bare white seeds.

I was surprised to see actual instructions on the Internet explaining how to eat a pomegranate. My friends and I used to simply break open the beautiful red skin of the fruit with our hands, pick out the burgundy red seeds, and eat them. Most of the time we'd savor each seed individually, but I can remember sometimes taking big bites out of the fruit, eating a mouthful of seeds at one time. This was pretty messy so I rarely ate it that way.

Only recently have I discovered the many health benefits of the "Chinese apple" from my childhood. Evidently the pomegranate, one of the oldest fruits known to man, has extraordinary health benefits.

Results from studies at Washington University in St. Louis last year suggest that pomegranates may help to prevent brain injury in newborn infants. This wonder fruit, high in vitamin C, folic acid, vitamins A and E, is said to both increase fertility AND prevent pregnancy (go figure). Research studies also suggest that eating pomegranates can prevent cancer, arthritis, and heart disease.

So the next time you're in the grocery store and spot a pomegranate, why not give it a try. The juice can stain your fingers, but the temporary discoloration is worth the sweet flavor!

Interesting Facts:
Every pomegranate has exactly 840 seeds.

Some scholars say that the apple mentioned in the Bible's Adam and Eve story was really a pomegranate.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Kanye West—Son of a Black Panther?

I had not heard about the unfortunate comments that Kanye West made about biracial women in the upcoming January issue of Essence magazine. But after a Cappuccino Soul reader, Lakissha Taylor, called my attention to West’s comments, I’ll be looking for this issue in the mail.

For those of you who have not heard, Kanye West makes some off-color comments about biracial women in the upcoming issue of Essence. “If it wasn’t for race mixing there’d be no video girls,” West is quoted as saying in the January issue of Essence magazine. “Me and most of our friends like mutts a lot. Yeah, in the hood they call ’em mutts.”

How could West think that referring to women as “mutts” would fly? And as the son of a former Black Panther/College Professor, shouldn’t he know better?

My full response to West’s comments could potentially serve as a term paper for an anthropology or African-American history class, so I won’t respond fully. But I will say this. Somewhere in West’s consciousness, he has to know that most African-Americans who live in the United States have some sort of mixed racial ancestry—including people in his own family. This is a fact that doesn’t even require much research, all you have to do is look at the range of colors and facial features of “black” people in this country and this is obvious. Both my mom and dad’s family trees have African, Native American, and Caucasian elements—this is the truth for MANY of us in America.

This whole discussion made me think about an e-mail I received from a reader of this blog about two weeks ago. The reader wanted to know if I was biracial. I had to pause because I wondered why she had asked. Had she seen me around town or a picture of me somewhere? To my knowledge, we’ve never met.

I guess I could I match the image of lots of “biracial” folks. When I lived in New York, Spanish-speaking people would frequently speak to me in Spanish, assuming that I was a “Boricua” or hailed from some other Latino land. (Boricua is a word sometimes used to denote a Puerto Rican or a person of Puerto Rican descent. It is derived from the Taino name for the island of Puerto Rico, Boriquén.)

The reader said she asked because of the “Nuyorican Poets Café” link that’s included in my “Favorite Sites” to the right. I guess she thought that my interest in the café came from some connection to the “Nuyoricans.” (Nuyorican is a blending of the phases “New York” and “Puerto Rican.”)

Well, yes. I’m connected to the Nuyoricans, as are many black people in New York and many places on the East Coast. As a matter of fact, people from all over the world have either performed there or been an audience member at the Nuyorican Poets Café. It’s a premiere vehicle for poets, musicians and thespians.

Puerto Ricans and Latinos from other places have been a part of my life since childhood. My neighborhood friend David Cruz had a crush on me and I had a mad crush on his cousin Jose, who also lived in the neighborhood.

But my experience can’t be that much different from Kanye’s. I’m sure he’s had biracial friends and people from other cultures in his life. I can’t imagine why he would make such an ugly reference to mixed race women. As Morgan Freeman said recently on the Charlie Rose show, "We as Americans don't really know who we are."

Here’s what Lakissha Taylor has to say about the mess:

Kanye has forgotten our history; historically we were all considered black and had to use the colored only facilities. For Kanye to make such a derogatory statement towards biracial women (society considers us Black women) is indicative of the misogynistic culture we have created and condoned in the world of hip-hop. While not all Bruth'as in hip-hop would put women on par with a mix-breed dog, for Kanye to use his influence and power in such a derogatory way is a HUGE statement for all young people who love his music. He is only participating in the JIM CROW legacy of slavery. I wonder would Kanye call the following a mutt to their face? Sean Paul, Barack Obama, Alicia Keyes, Maria Carey, Faith Evans. I am sure he has produced beats for many of these artists too.

Be blessed, don't fall into the trap, and don't believe the hype!

I’m with Lakissha. Family, let’s pray for Kanye.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Black Girls Like Us

A teenage filmmaker from Manhattan, Kiri Davis, decided to make a film called A Girl Like Me, that reflected the concerns of today’s black girls, so she pointed her camera at some friends at her own high school in Manhattan to explore their perceptions of beauty and self-image.

Davis thought a replication of Dr. Kenneth Clark’s infamous “doll test” would shed some light on how black girls perceive themselves and how the dominant culture’s standard of beauty affects them.

As early as 1939, Dr. Clark and his wife, Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark, began conducting “doll tests” to try to understand how black children saw themselves. This test was used in the landmark 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case. Black and white children across the U.S. were shown black dolls and white dolls, as part of the experiment. The children were asked which dolls were nice, which were bad, and which they’d like to play with. Overwhelmingly, both groups chose the white dolls to play with and gave them positive attributes. Also overwhelmingly, both groups called the black dolls “bad.”

In Davis’ short film, she places two dolls—one black and one white—on a table and asks several black children (mostly girls), a series of questions:

Show me the doll that looks bad.
Show me the nice doll.
Can you show me the doll that you like the best?

Yes, the pattern remains the same after 50 years. Most of the children said that the black doll was bad, the white doll was good, and they overwhelmingly chose the white doll as the one they liked the best. Sad isn’t it?

When Davis conducted interviews with girls from her high school she got some honest, raw, and sometimes disturbing comments from these ladies. One brown-skinned girl says that the message that she gets from society is that darker girls aren’t smart and that light skin is better than dark skin. Another girl says when she started wearing her hair in a natural style, her mom told her to stop because she was “starting to look African.”

All women raising little black children, please watch this film. It might make you cry, but just dry your tears and remember to tell your little lady or man how beautiful she or he is—-everyday.

“Human beings who are forced to live under ghetto conditions and whose daily experience tells them that almost nowhere in society are they respected and granted the ordinary dignity and courtesy accorded to others will, as a matter of course, begin to doubt their own worth.”

-- Dark Ghetto: Dilemmas of Social Power by Dr. Kenneth Clark, the
the first African-American to earn his doctorate in psychology from Columbia University in 1940.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Yayyy for One of Us Bloggers!

The New York Times reports today that a Canadian judge found that Brunswick blogger, Charles LeBlanc, did not obstruct justice when he took pictures at a protest rally during the Reaching Atlantica business conference in Saint John last summer.

Police officers deleted all of LeBlanc’s photographs while he spent four hours in jail, LeBlanc told CBC News in Canada. LeBlanc said he was standing beside a CBC cameraman at the protest when police arrested him. "Next thing you know, they handcuffed me right to the ground, and they paraded me in front of all the businessmen and they told me I was charged for obstruction," he told CBC News.

A photograph on the CBC News Web site shows two police officers holding LeBlanc on the ground. LeBlanc yelled, “I'm a blogger, I'm a blogger. I'm just taking pictures!" according to the site.

“Members of the so called mainstream media were taking photographs and filming in the same area without interference from the police,” provincial court judge, William J. McCarroll, wrote in a 20-page decision. “I believe it’s fair to say that the defendant was doing nothing wrong at the time he was approached by Sergeant Parks and placed under arrest. He was simply plying his trade, gathering photographs and information for his blog alongside other reporters.”

LeBlanc also proves that you don’t have to look a certain way or belong to a certain socioeconomic class to work as a journalist. CBC News also reported that the officer who arrested LeBlanc said he didn’t consider the blogger to be a legitimate reporter because he looked “scruffy” and had a cheap-looking digital camera.

Hey! As long as it gets the job done! Big ups to Charles LeBlanc who won a victory for all the bloggers of the world.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Tale of a Debased African Queen

In the name of the mother, the daughter, and the feminine spirits, I’d like to tell you the story of Saartjie (Sarah) Baartman—also known as Hottentot Venus. I discovered her story several years ago, but the tale still shakes me.

Saartjie, whose life has inspired both a play and a novel, came from the Khoikhoi people—the indigenous group that once populated what is now the Eastern Cape in South Africa. When her people were attacked, had their land seized and were enslaved by the Dutch in the late 18th century, Sarah moved to Cape Town to escape capture.

When she was 16, Alexander William Dunlop, a doctor, convinced her to go back to Britain with him where he said she could make money by showing her body to the public. You see, the Khoikhoi women were famous for their protruding buttocks and enlarged external genitalia. Her inner labia, like the other women, had been stretched to allegedly make sex a better experience for the males.

The Khoikhoi were called “Hottentots” because the Dutch thought their language—which includes distinctive clicking sounds—sounded like stuttering, so they called the people “stutterers” or “Hottentots” in their language. Of course, to the indigenous South Africans, the Hottentot reference is considered offensive. The Europeans called Sarah “Venus” because of her unusual genitalia.

Sarah, working as a servant for Dunlop in England, was put on display as part of a freak show, alongside people with circus-like attractions. Sarah’s demise continued in Paris where she worked for circus manager Sieur Reaux, a down-on-his-luck French nobleman.

She was poked, proded and insulted by onlookers. Imagine the comments:

“Look at her. Look at that black wench!”

“She sure is an African! Big lips, big nose, big bottom! Have you ever seen such a thing?” Words like these must have been spoken.

Washington Post writer Lynne Duke describes the shameful scene: “She endured ogling, lascivious audiences who poked at her, hissed at her, grabbed at her rear end, even tried to probe her private parts.” (Duke, 2003)

Sarah had been duped. She was lured to Britain with promises of wealth and fame, but instead was treated like a circus animal with no more dignity than a caged monkey or ape. For it is the ape that many European “natural” scientists said black people were linked to. Sarah’s physical attributes became proof for these scientific racists that black people were subhuman.

Suffering humiliation and mistreatment, Sarah tumbled into alcoholism and drug abuse. No wonder. The French scientist Baron Georges Cuvier, a famous naturalist of the time, examined Sarah for three days at a special meeting for scientists at the Museum of Natural History. He used her body to try to prove that blacks were on the low end of the human development chain.

At some point Sarah became a prostitute and died from tuberculosis or syphilis— the records aren’t clear—at the age of 26. Sarah was defiled even in death as Cuvier cast her lifeless body in plaster and dissected her—preserving her brain and genitals by pickling them in jars. Sarah’s body parts were displayed at the Musée de l’Homme (The Museum of Mankind) until 1985 when they were put into storage.

With the ending of apartheid, South Africa fought France for the return of Sarah’s remains to her homeland. It wasn’t until 2002, when Senator Nicolas About of France wrote a bill that called for the lost African’s return, that her body was sent to Cape Town where her fellow South Africans celebrated her homecoming with fanfare. At her burial celebration, the Khoisan herb “boegoe” was burned to purify Sarah’s spirit and a women’s choir sang, “You are returning to your fatherland under African skies.” Thabo Mbeki, South African President at the time, declared Sarah’s grave a national monument. (BBC, 2002)

Sarah’s story made me evaluate the ways black women’s bodies have been exploited and disrespected since Europeans pillaged Africa during the slave trade. The raping of Venus was like the raping of Africa. Bodies were taken from Africa, bought, raped and enslaved. Sarah was taken from Africa, defiled and enslaved in cages for people to gawk at like slaves who were poked and prodded on auction blocks.

What made Cuvier, the scientist, feel privileged to do such a thing? Did he think he owned Sarah’s body? Did he think that she existed merely to entertain the whites? I believe it was Sarah’s African heritage and femaleness that allowed Dunlop, Reaux and Cuvier to assume she was their property. “Anyway,” they must have thought, “she is not fully human—she is an African and a freak at that. Why treat her with any semblance of dignity?

When Sarah’s unfortunate journey to England began in 1810, slavery was alive and flourishing in the Americas. African women brought to the Americas were treated with equal cruelty. They were separated from their husbands and children, some died or were killed along the way on the ships. Many (if not most) were raped, had babies cut from their wombs and worked as slaves for no compensation. Like Sarah, these African women were seen as ugly, subhuman animals by the European slave traders and masters that brought them to the New World.

Slave women were also expected to readily give their breasts to their master’s children. They were forced to breastfeed the tots on demand. In the article,“More Slavery at the South: By a Negro Nurse,” (The Independent, 1912) a former slave discusses her experience as a wet nurse.

“I myself have served as “wet nurse” to more than a dozen white children. On the one hand, we are assailed by white men, and, on the other hand, we are assailed by black men, who should be our natural protectors; and, whether in the kitchen, at the washtub, over the sewing machine, behind the baby carriage, or at the ironing board, we are but little more than pack horses, beasts of burden, slaves!”

Did slave masters think they owned the milk that flowed from the breasts of these African women? This must be so. How else did they rationalize such a heinous practice? How has this historical practice of white males lustfully using the bodies of black women affected how people all over the world view African women?

To read more about Saartjie Baartman read a fictionalized account of her life, Hottentot Venus by Barbara Chase-Riboud, the play Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks, and a new book to be released in January 2007 by Rachel Holmes called African Queen: The Life of the Hottentot Venus.

Works Cited:

1. Duke, Lynne. “Listening to the Lady in the Glass Case.” Washington Post. Nov. 16, 2003. Page D01.

2. “Hottentot Venus Laid to Rest.” BBC News World Edition. BBC. London, UK. Aug. 9, 2002.

3. Rosenberg, Andrea (transcriber). “More Slavery at the South: by a Negro Nurse.” The Independent. Jan. 25, 1912. Pages 196-200.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Chess Pie Anyone?

I sent an e-mail to some family and friends yesterday asking them how much they would pay for a delicious homemade chess pie that was delivered to their homes. I knew my friend Lisa in Jersey City wouldn’t know what a chess pie was. She grew up in Brooklyn and Delaware and hasn’t had as much contact with the south as I’ve had. But my friend Cheryl who was born in New Orleans (she moved to Los Angeles when she was 8), my friend Andrea from Florida (who now lives in a D.C. suburb), and my cousin Monica in the D.C. area, really should know all about the chess pie. Especially Monica, who has tasted the same chess pie that I’ve had in North Carolina when we would visit OUR grandmom Pauline.

Last year I made my first chess pie and I have to say it was quite delicious. I was calling on the spirit of my grandmother who loved sweets and could whip up a mean chess pie in no time. Although I won’t divulge my recipe for chess pie here (it’s a secret!), most chess pies use the same basic ingredients, including sugar (sometimes brown sugar also), flour or cornmeal, eggs, butter, vanilla extract and a few other things.

Lisa wanted to know the origin of the chess pie and I had to admit that I didn’t know. After doing a little research I’ve found a few theories. It seems that the chess pie is a southern delight, most especially well liked in the Carolinas. One explanation for the name of the dessert is that someone asked a cook what she put in her pies and she replied “Anything in our chest.” Evidently, the word “chest” was pronounced “chess.” Another story is that a plantation cook was asked what she was baking that smelled so delectable. Her answer was, “Jes’ pie.”

Click here for a recipe that I’ve found on the internet. If you have a favorite chess pie recipe, please send it to me. I’d like to compare it to my own, which is a pretty good one, I must say. And if you live in Nashville and you’d like to purchase a homemade chess pie from me (with free delivery), please send me an e-mail at

Monday, November 13, 2006

“Bring the Boys Home”—Freda Payne’s Homage to Soldiers

"Bring the Boys Home" has been bouncing around in my head for about a week or so. I’m hopeful that people in power will read this and heed the call.

The U.S. Command banned the song from the U.S. Armed Forces Radio during the Vietnam war, claiming it would “give aid and comfort to the enemy.” Freda Payne
released the tune 35 years ago as a single, but it wasn’t added to her “Contact” album until the song became a hit. We still hear echoes from the lyrics today.

Fathers are pleading, lovers are all alone
Mothers are praying-send our sons back home
You marched them away--yes, you did-on ships and planes
To the senseless war, facing death in vain

Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Turn the ships around, lay your weapons down

Can't you see 'em march across the sky, all the soldiers that have died
Tryin' to get home--can't you see them tryin' to get home?
Tryin' to get home--they're tryin' to get home
Cease all fire on the battlefield
Enough men have already been wounded or killed

Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Turn the ships around, lay your weapons down
(Mothers, fathers and lovers, can't you see them)

Oooh, oooh...
Tryin' to get home--can't you see them tryin' to get home?
Oooh, oooh...
Tryin' to get home--they're tryin' to get home

Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
What they doing over there, now (bring 'em back alive)
When we need them over here, now (bring 'em back alive)
What they doing over there, now (bring 'em back alive)
When we need them over here, now (bring 'em back alive)

I hope the powers that be will work hard to bring the boys and girls home—alive.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Recognize! There's a Muslim in the House.

By now, most people are aware that California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is set to become the first female speaker of the House in the new year. This is most definitely something to celebrate.

But have you heard about Keith Ellison, the newly elected U.S. House representative from Minnesota—the first Muslim to be elected to Congress? Ellison is also the first African-American from Minnesota to win a U.S. House seat. He has served as a member of Minnesota’s State House since 2002.

This 43-year-old Michigan native, who converted to Islam from Catholicism when he was 19, seems to be well liked in Minnesota. He was endorsed by the Twin Cities’ American Jewish World newspaper, over his rival Alan Fine, who is Jewish.

As you can imagine, there’s been lots of investigation into Ellison’s possible ties with the Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. It’s not clear whether Ellison was ever an official member of the Nation, but he does seem to reiterate that his connection to Farrakhan and the Nation was "limited" to helping to organize as aspect of the Million Man March in 1995.

"It's very interesting that Minnesota would be the first state to send a Muslim to Congress," Lawrence Jacobs, Director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, told Voice of America.

"I think many Americans think of Minnesota as a state that's overwhelmingly dominated by whites, but Minnesota has changed in rapid and dramatic ways," Jacobs said. "The other key factor is that Minnesota has a long tradition, stretching back to Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, in supporting civil rights and the inclusion of African-Americans and others of color in the political process."

Ellison, who is married with four children, favors gay rights and abortion rights. While serving as a Minnesota state representative, Ellison authored and passed a repeal of vagrancy laws that criminalized homelessness and raised funds for homeless outreach. He fought against a gay anti-marriage bill and authored a bill to restore voting rights to ex-offenders.

This week Ellison told CNN that he is inspired by the Quran’s message of "an encompassing divine love, and a deep faith that guides my life every day."

Do your thing Keith!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Want to See Sommore!

Why in the world didn’t somebody tell me that my girl Sommore will be at Zanies comedy club tonight? Had I known about this earlier, I could have arranged for a babysitter. I don’t think I have enough time now! Dag nabbit! I’ve never seen her in person and I know I’d be guaranteed some big laughs. This is my homegirl people! (Well, she’s from Trenton, which is about an hour away from my hometown in Delaware). But that’s close enough. Sommore reminds me so much of some girls that I grew up with. She has the same mannerisms, speech patterns and everything. Oh well…..maybe next time.

By the way, did you all know that Sommore and Nia Long are half-sisters? They have the same daddy.

Zanies contact information: 2025 Eighth Ave. South, Nashville, 615-269-0221. Tickets are $23.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

At Least I Have Some Cappuccino

I am part sad and part tickled about the looong election night. Harold Ford didn't win and therefore, didn't make history, but some other developments happened all over the country that I'm really excited about--namely the results in Minnesota and California. More on that a little later.

But I do have some caramel cappuccino to sip on this morning, thanks to my co-worker Gayle! Thanks girl!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Make Your Voice Heard--Vote Now!

Yeaaaaaaah Boy! I just left the polling place in North Nashville and cast my vote. I’m not going to say who I voted for but a quick survey of this blog will give you the answer. The line was long but it was well worth the wait. Some people were walking in with crutches and canes. One man was a dialysis patient and had to sit down every few minutes while he was waiting in line, but he said NOTHING would keep him from voting, especially in this election.

The space was a little tight at the 15th Avenue Baptist Church, but it was not too uncomfortable. After hearing a story on NPR today about unusual polling places in Southern California, I realize how lucky we are to have such a nice polling facility. Some of California’s more unusual polling places include a mortuary, an ice rink, and a few private homes.

Make your voice heard—get out there and vote!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Obama for President?

My dad and I have been talking about Barack Obama’s chance of winning the next presidential election. We’ve shared many hopes, dreams and even some jokes about the matter. On the one hand, we’re proud that there is such a strong, intelligent, and charismatic politician like Obama out there—on the other hand, we know all too well the attitudes of not only southerners, but people all across the nation who would never vote for a black presidential (Congressional, mayoral, etc.) candidate.

Kurt at Bring It On! Shares his pessimism about Obama’s possible run for president. In a letter to Mr. Obama, Kurt writes:

Mr. Obama, I believe you to be an honest, intelligent, even charismatic politician, with a refreshing message of hope. Unfortunately, the cold, hard fact is that you cannot possibly carry any southern state, since racial bigotry is still so prevalent.

A Bring It On! Reader named Nelson responded:

I live and work in a very red part of the country, a part where the desire for a hunting season on “Mexicans” is considered a good idea. A part where African-Americans are still refered to as “niggers” by old and young alike. A place where homophobia is rampent and anyone even remotely effeminate is assaulted and the authorities turn a blind eye.

This sad backwards part of the country that Nelson refers to is not Tennessee or any other southern state. Click here to find out yet another place where "Mexicans" and African-Americans aren’t respected.

Friday, November 03, 2006

‘First Black Senator Since Reconstruction….’ Please explain!

Blanche K. Bruce, U.S. Senator

The statement, “If Harold Ford wins, he would become the first Black Senator elected in the south since Reconstruction,” is starting to get on my nerves. Why? Because no news outlet, as far as I’ve read or heard, has discussed who these Black Senators were!

Here are some interesting facts:

The first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate was Hiram Rhoades Revels, a Mississippi state senator who was selected to fill a seat in 1870, which Jefferson Davis vacated to become the president of the Confederate States.

But the Black Senator credited with serving a full Senate term was Blanche K. Bruce, another Mississippi resident who was elected in 1874. The African American Registry reports that Bruce advocated the fair treatment of African Americans and Native Americans. He also sought to expose fraud and corruption in federal elections. Bruce, who served as a Senator from 1875–1881, lost his seat when Reconstruction ended in Mississippi. He then was appointed register of the Treasury and went on to become a Howard University trustee.

Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts was the next African-American to serve in the Senate when he was elected in 1966. Let’s share this news with one friend and then they can pass it on to others!

Will Harold Ford, Jr. become the first Black Senator elected in the South since Reconstruction? I predict that he will.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

'She is Excellent, She is Wonderful'

Dinqnash College (The Women's College of Africa) is currently being developed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A group of supporters in Nashville, Friends of Dinqnash, are raising funds and resources for the College. But the school would welcome support from people all over the world. The funds will support Dinqnash's current drive to purchase land, build classrooms, buy books and instructional materials, computer labs, classroom and office furniture.

The Web site offers this worldview for women:
At Dinqnash we envision and cultivate a community comprised of a rich diversity of women, representing all cultures and regions of the world; women who live healthy lives in balance with nature; women who will become caretakers of the earth, women who cherish excellence and commitment; women who serve as catalysts for Life Centered Life. In the Amharic language of Ethiopia, Dinqnash means, “She is excellent/she is wonderful.” We are committed to the good and to excellence.

Friends of Dinqnash would appreciate your help. They need Fundraisers, Administrative Assistants, Writers, and all who would like to help. For information contact: Nefertiti Makeda,, and you can visit the school's Web site at

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Harold Ford Willl Speak at Fisk University Today!

Harold Ford, Jr.’s Nashville office has just confirmed that the Congressman will speak today, Tuesday, October 31 at Fisk University, 3–5 p.m. on the steps of the student union. It should be a lively conversation! Since it’s Halloween, maybe Ford will loosen up a bit. He looked almost as stiff as his opponent, Bob Corker, during the debates at Vanderbilt University last Friday night. I don’t know about you, but I like a little fire and passion in a candidate.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Could We See a Possible Bird Flu Pandemic in the U.S.?

We haven't heard much in the news lately about Avian Influenza (bird flu), but after receiving news from a relative in the Atlanta area who is nearing the completion of his nursing degree, we might want to read up on this health topic. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has very recently had meetings with healthcare professionals in Georgia about how to prepare for a bird flu outbreak in the U.S., the CDC Website offers little updated news about the virus. Information on Avian Influenza outbreaks in the U.S. stops at 2004.

The World Health Organization has answered the question: "Is the world adequately prepared for a possible bird flu pandemic?" The short answer is NO. Here's the long answer.

Also, check out these two New York Times articles for more background about bird flu in the U.S. and the bird flu vaccine:

States and Cities Lag in Bird Flu Readiness

Maker Calls New Bird Flu Vaccine More Effective

I don't know about you, but I'm tempted to call some television news programs, The New York Times, The Tennessean, etc., to ask why they aren't covering this possible health catastrophe. Shoud we go out and purchase loads of masks, hand sanitizer and bottled water, just to be prepared?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Breaking Bread with the Poor

Recently The Homeless Guy quoted this passage from Luke 14:12-14. It's a timely quote given the number of homeless people in Nashville and the country, not to mention those who live at or near the poverty level.

Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

And here's a beautiful translation of the same passage from De Nyew Testament (The New Testament translated in Gullah, Sea Island Creole). This Bible has been translated from the Greek by a team of experts who know the Gullah language intimately. For those of you not familiar with the Gullah or Geechee people of South Carolina and Georgia, look for more information about these amazing folks on this blog in the near future.

Den Jedus tell de man wa eenbite um say, "Wen ya hab dinna eeda a big feas, mus dohn eenbite ya fren dem, ya broda dem, ya kin, needa ya rich neighba dem. Cause den dey gwine eenbite ya back ta dey house fa nyam (food) an wen dey eenbite ya back, ya done git ya payback. Bot wen ya hab feas, mus eenbite dem wa ain got much, dem wa cripple op, an dem wa ain able fa waak good, an dem wa bline (blind). Dem people ain able fa gii ya de payback fa de good ya done fa um. Bot God gwine bless ya fa dat good ya done. E gwine gii ya de payback pon de day wen dem dat done wa God say gwine git op fom mongst de dead an lib gin."

Over the past year, over 3 million men, women, and children were homeless, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty in Washington, D.C. In 1995 the demand for shelter increased by 11%. Also according to the center, over 40% of homeless persons are eligible for disability benefits, but only 11% actually receive them. Most are eligible for food stamps, but only 37% receive them. Most families are eligible for welfare benefits, but only 52% receive them. Some 12% of children are denied access to school, despite federal law.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What's the New News from Africa?

"We have to understand that the audience is not tuning out on Africa. It's the media decision makers who decide that Americans aren't interested." -- Charlayne Hunter-Gault, journalist

What's really going on in Africa and why should people be interested in the continent? To learn more, check out this in-depth interview with Charlayne Hunter-Gault, a verteran U.S. journalist and long-time African resident. Some of you may recognize her from PBS Newshour or others may know of her as the great challenger of segregation at the University of Georgia. Charlayne became the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Georgia in 1962. She's been living in Johannesburg, South Africa for almost a decade. Her book, New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa's Renaissance was released this year.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Jimmy Scott Gets Deserved Recognition

I was thrilled to hear that vocalist Jimmy Scott has been awarded the 2007 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Fellowship. This is the vocalist, the only one, that Billie Holiday said she admired--and once you hear Jimmy sing, you'll know why. His voice is gentle, haunting, and gets the story of the song across in just a few notes. If you've never heard this man sing "Slave to Love" or "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," you're missing a lot. This mesmerizing crooner, with an almost 60-year career in music, should have been honored with such an award decades ago. His stints as a janitor, hotel shipping clerk, and caretaker for his father, make him one of the most tenacious and deserved musicians around. He was determined to sing, even after facing periods of great adversity.

Congratulations and thank you Jimmy Scott! Your songs have served as lullabies for me and my little girl.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

'Is He Fake, Is He True?'

I know Nashville’s own Young Buck, a.k.a. David Brown, has gotten into some trouble in recent years, but you gotta give him credit for comin’ back home and tryin’ to do the right thing. He has supported some worthwhile educational and charitable organizations in the city.

When I checked out his Web site, I was especially impressed with how deftly the writer characterized Young Buck's persona in the first paragraph.

Everybody wanna know who 50 done signed/ And who he is, what he ‘bout, where he from, can he rhyme/ Is he real, is he fake, is he true, is he lyin’/Did this Young Buck really get shot two times?

I’m hoping the guns and violence are behind him and that he can truly bring up Nashville and help the world see the creative other side of town down here, including the musicians, visual artists, writers, poets, thespians, etc.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Nashville Black Covenant Coalition Meets Tomorrow

The Nashville Black Covenant Coalition will hold a Mass Meeting on Saturday, 10 a.m., October 21 at Pearl-Cohn Business Magnet High School, 904 26th Avenue North in Nashville. The Coalition will address political, social, and economic issues that have had devastating effects on African-American communities. For more information about the event, contact Kenneth Caine or Henry Blaze at (615) 668-9156.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Never Stop Dancing!

My four-year-old daughter and I were dancing Saturday night to music from Jill Scott's Beautifully Human CD. We both love Jill's song "Golden" and sing it often. Although she's still struggling to learn most of the words, she does know the "livin' my life like it's golden" part and will sing that loudly. Before "Golden" we listened to "I am Not Afraid," as a warm up. I wasn't sure whether we should dance to that tune because a few of the lyrics are a bit too provocative for a little girl. But my daughter really identified with the song and made up her own short spoken word piece as we were dancing.

"We're not afraid because we're women! We're strong and brave and we'll never stop dancing!"

"Right mommy?" she asked.

"That's right babe!" And we continued to dance.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Check the Rhyme Poetry Anthology released

Want to read some fiery poems by some hot female poets from the U.S. and around the world? Here's a fresh new book for you poetry lovers out there. New York-based publisher, Lit Noire Publishing has recently released Check the Rhyme: An Anthology of Female Poets & Emcees.

"Check the Rhyme is a cross-generational volume of poetry, featuring the work of 50 thought provoking and inspirational women writers, lyricists and spoken word artists from diverse cultures and backgrounds," Frazier said.

I might as well tell you that I have two poems in the book--"Nuyorican Dreams" and "Dancin' at the Printz Grille (Wilmington, Delaware)." You can order the book at

Thanks for your support!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jolie: Western Nations Don't Care About Refugees

In Angelina Jolie's recent article for the United Nation's Refugees magazine, she said that Europeans and other Western nations have turned their backs on struggling refugees.

"It's a scandal, really, in such a rich world, that we are not even finding a way to help feed refugee families properly," she wrote.

Jolie also described her disgust over a photo printed in an earlier 2006 edition of the magazine that showed a white couple lounging on a beach, ignoring a black man's dead body that had washed ashore.

If Angelina keeps calling attention to stark injustices like these, we may just have to adopt her as an honorary sister! Click here to check out the full Associated Press story.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

To "N-Word" or not to "N-Word"

Washington Post assistant managing editor, Don Podesta, has called for the newspaper's writers not to substitute the word "nigger" with "the N-word."

"We've used this euphemism in more than a dozen stories in the last month. It's trivializing and almost cutesy, as in 'Johnny said the f-word in school today, Mom,' " Podesta wrote in a memo to staffers last week. He said it would be better for reporters to use a phrase such as "a well-known racial epithet."

The shame of it is not that the Washington Post has printed the "N-Word" 1,254 times since 1977, but that people are using the word so much to describe other people. Here's my suggestion to Washington Post editors—-Why not write more stories about racial tolerance to help alleviate the need to use the word anywhere?

Here's the Editor & Publisher article on the topic.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Film at Watkins Art Institute reveals tragedy of “Invisible Children”

As I was hanging out at the Watkins Art Institute on MetroCenter Blvd. last Saturday, I spotted a flyer hanging on the wall called Invisible Children. The graphic on the flyer was the most compelling thing about the piece. It shows a photo of a little black boy wearing camouflage and holding a huge gun. (I don't know much about guns, so I don't know what kind it is.) I tried to imagine where this child was supposed to be—was it Los Angeles, New York, Nashville?

I immediately thought of South Central LA when I saw the boy's picture because in 1992, very shortly after the Riots in L.A., I went to visit my friend Cheryl Noel. She took me to a play on Theatre Row and while waiting for the play to start, we saw an intriguing poster hanging on the wall that featured a young black boy holding some sort of weapon. It wasn't a gun, but some huge stick. He was obviously ready for some sort of battle. I don't know if the poster was advertising a photo exhibit, play, or film. The poster read, Flatfield Presents: "12th & Central: Through the Eyes of the Children."

But this disturbing picture on the Watkins poster was an advertisement for a film called, Invisible Children. The child featured on the poster is a SOLDIER in the the Northan Ugandan civil war. Evidently, children as young as 8 are being kidnapped from their homes by a rebel group called the
Lord’s Resistance Army.
The abducted children are forced to fight, but some do escape and hide in fear. The film features four young boys, Jacob, Thomas, Tony, and Boni who live in terror of possible abduction.

The filmmakers, Jason Russell and Bobby Bailey, were so affected by this tragedy that they formed a nonprofit organization, Invisible Children, to help give aid to these Ugandan children.

If you get a chance, check out this powerful film and tell me what you think. Showtime is Friday, October 13 at 7 p.m. in Room 608. It’s sponsored by the Progressive Artists League and it's free!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Let Your Locks Fly in Philadelphia

If you’re planning to be in or near Philadelphia this weekend, October 7–8, you should check out the Annual International Locks Conference at the Laborers' Local 332 Union Hall, 1310 Wallace Street. The Queens of Lockdom, Mama Akosua Ali Sabree and Sakinah Ali-Sabree, plan to gather some of the best experts on natural hair care, health, and African-inspired beauty.

You can get a massage, eat some delicious vegetarian meals, buy healthcare products, or get more information on yoga and meditation.

This year’s conference is held in the memory of Locks Conference founder Sharon Cynthia Ellawesia Leonard Goodman, who died last year. God rest her soul.

To find out more about the history of dreadlocks, visit Knotty Boy

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Art of Community Organizing: Giving Power to the People

Recently I had the privilege of participating in the Nashville Peace and Justice Center’s Leadership Institute. It was an amazing experience and inspired me to become more active in social justice issues. Before I enrolled in the Leadership Institute, I didn’t have the confidence to stand before people and make the following brief speech:

Did you know that across the country prisons often shackle pregnant inmates in labor or chain them to a bed? When a woman is in labor, it helps the process if she can move around, walk or squat. What real danger does a pregnant woman, screaming in pain, cause to anyone? Every woman deserves the right to give birth the way nature intended. Not with her legs shackled together like some wild animal. This practice of shackling and putting chains on pregnant inmates in labor is UNJUST and we need to fight to make it ILLEGAL.

This speech, which takes about one minute to deliver, was my homework for the public speaking portion of the workshop. Actually, I forgot some of the words as I was giving the speech. I looked at the floor and couldn’t remember what I was supposed to say next. But the encouragement that I received during my brief lapse of memory motivated me to gain my composure and finish.

I truly hope I’ll be able to one day say these words to people who can make a difference in the prison system. My anger and frustration with the way all prisoners are oftentimes mistreated was one of my motivations for attending the Institute. I’m also looking forward to working with such groups as the Nashville Homeless Power Project. My friend Matt Leber, who persistently encouraged me to participate in the Leadership Institute training, John Zirker, and the other NHPP organizers, have been tirelessly working to empower Nashville’s homeless community and erase homelessness in Nashville. I hope I live to see the day when all homeless people find and keep safe affordable housing.

When I see homeless people in Nashville, I’m reminded of the homeless family that I saw in New York City shortly after I had moved there. I saw a mother and father with three young children sleeping under dirty blankets at the World Trade Center subway station. I was appalled that whole families were so unprotected and vulnerable in such a harsh environment.

Institute facilitators taught me that the role of community organizers is to challenge people to act on behalf of their common interests. Organizers identify leaders and enhance those leaders’ skills and commitment to their cause. In other words, organizers give people the power to help themselves. Imagine that entire family in New York City visiting their City Council representative and requesting that he or she vote yes for a resolution to build affordable housing clusters for homeless families. Imagine a group of single mothers lobbying their state representative to vote yes on a bill to increase the minimum wage rate in the state.

Organizers can give folks like the homeless, single working mothers, pregnant female inmates, and many others the education, advice, and encouragement to stand up and fight for their rights. This is the work that I’m hoping to accomplish and the Nashville Peace and Justice Center Leadership Institute has given me the tools to send me on my way.

A luta continua.(The struggle continues.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Here it is!

Alright family. I finally got up enough nerve to create this blog. I should start out by saying thanks to Kevin Barbieux, creator of The Homeless Guy, for inspiring me to do this.

I want to also thank my family and a few close friends who helped me pick a name for the blog. “Cappuccino Soul” beat out four other possibilities: Nashville Soul, Chocolate City Soul, Soul of a Poet and Geechee Girl Soul. Most people picked Geechee Girl Soul and I was leaning towards picking that name, but for various reasons (ahem, A’Donni), I didn’t choose that one. Thanks Cheryl, Pamela, and A’Donni for picking this name. I think it really suits me because I AM a coffee fiend—and I do LOVE to feel that Cappuccino go down my throat.

Here it is yall!