Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

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!