Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Herbs for the Tummy

Here's a list of herbs that are good for relieving stomach problems: gas, bloating, pain, etc.

Wild Yam Root
Angelica Root
White Willow Bark
Echinacea Root
Strawberry Leaves

This isn't an herb but I've heard that Cola Syrup works wonders for an upset stomach.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Film: Voices from the Water

During a period of 350 years an estimated 15 to 20 million Africans, from all over West Africa, were held on Goreé Island. More than 6 million of them died in captivity on this island, from cruel treatment and deprivation. Twice as many more were put on ships that took them to a life of chattel slavery on the other side of the Atlantic. A growing number of people are beginning to make make a connection between the psychological traumas of slavery and our behavior today.

Goree Island, Senegal
The shipping point where many slaves, brutally treated, were housed
before they took the long and horrific journey to the Americas.
The text above is taken from the Website for the film The Healing Passage: Voices From the Water, which explores the residual impact of the African Holocaust, slavery and its reverberations in the world today. View a clip from the project, directed by filmmaker and journalist S. Pearl Sharp, at, and find out where you can purchase this moving film. The Healing Passage features such luminaries and artistic giants as Oscar Brown, Jr., Ysaye Barnwell, Tom Feelings, and Babatunde Olatunji.

From S. Pearl Sharp's Website:

How do we heal from the residuals of The Middle Passage?

Cultural artists, along with historians and healers, look at present day behavior that is connected to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. For more than 300 years Africans were carried from their homeland, across the Atlantic Ocean ("The Middle Passage"), into chattel slavery in the Americas and the Caribbean. The residual impact of this African Holocaust still reverberates in the world today through psychological trauma, genetic memory, personal and community consciousness. The artists use music, dolls, dance, altars, spoken word, visual art and ritual to create paths to healing.

How has the psychological trauma of centuries of slavery affected our lives, souls, and behavior today? The answers to that question have filled thousands of pages in books and hopefully will lead to the intense healing that we still, so desperately, need.

House of Slaves

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Sing to Me

I heard this on the radio this morning as I was waking up:

I wouldn’t be able to get through the day without somebody singing to me.

Me too.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

God Bless Mr. Delgado

May God send many blessings upon Gallo Delgado, a skillful mechanic with a HUGE HEART.

Friday, December 03, 2010

2011 Sundance Film Festival: Hot Picks

Here are some of the films selected for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary Competitions that caught my eye. This year’s 16 films were selected from 841 submissions. These films take you to such places as Gun Hill Road in the Bronx (very near one of my old neighborhoods), Liberia after the civil war, and a small Ukranian town where 16 black orphans are being raised. We also get to hear about the story of A Tribe Called Quest, Harry Belafonte’s life as an entertainer and social activist, and a Swedish journalist’s view of the Black Power Movement.

The Sundance Film Festival runs January 20-30, 2011 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. Can I go?

Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (Director: Michael Rapaport) - The story of the rise and influence of one of the most innovative and influential hip hop bands of all time, the collective known as A Tribe Called Quest.

Gun Hill Road (Director and screenwriter: Rashaad Ernesto Green) - After three years in prison, Enrique returns to the Bronx to find his wife estranged and his teenage son stumbling towards a transformation that will put the fragile bonds of their family to the test. Cast: Esai Morales, Judy Reyes, Harmony Santana, Vincent Laresca, Miriam Colon.

Hot Coffee (Director: Susan Saladoff) - Following subjects whose lives have been devastated by an inability to access the courts, this film shows that many long-held beliefs about our civil justice system have been paid for by corporate America.

The Redemption of General Butt Naked (Directors: Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion) - A brutal warlord who murdered thousands during Liberia's horrific 14-year civil war renounces his violent past and reinvents himself as an Evangelist, facing those he once terrorized.

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (Director: Jon Foy) - An urban mystery unfurls as one man pieces together the surreal meaning of hundreds of cryptic tiled messages that have been appearing in city streets across the U.S. and South America.

Sing Your Song (A film by Susanne Rostock) - Most people know the lasting legacy of Harry Belafonte, the entertainer; this film unearths his significant contribution to and his leadership in the civil rights movement in America and to social justice globally.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (Director: Göran Olsson) - From 1967 to 1975, Swedish journalists chronicled the Black Power movement in America. Combining that 16mm footage, undiscovered until now, with contemporary audio interviews, this film illuminates the people and culture that fueled change and brings the movement to life anew.

Family Portrait in Black and White (Director: Julia Ivanova) - In a small Ukrainian town, Olga Nenya, raises 16 black orphans amidst a population of Slavic blue-eyed blondes. Their stories expose the harsh realities of growing up as a bi-racial child in Eastern Europe.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

African Proverb: Who Forgets

The victim does not forget, the victimizer forgets. (Lesotho)

Friday, November 26, 2010

African Proverb: They Ate Our Food

This one made me cry:

They ate our food, and forgot our names.
-- (Ghana, Togo)

from Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs by Yvonne McCalla Sobers and Askhari Johnson Hodari

Monday, November 22, 2010

Recipe: Mom's Macaroni and Cheese

Since a lot of you might still be deciding what you’ll cook for dinner this Thursday, I thought I’d share this family recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese with you.

About six years ago I asked Auntie Carolyn to share her recipe for macaroni and cheese with me. She wrote back with the instructions and said, “Actually, it’s your mom’s recipe.” So here’s my mom’s (Mary’s) recipe for macaroni and cheese via Auntie Carolyn – (also known as Auntie Teedie or Auntie T) – in Carolyn's own words, verbatim.

Mary's Homemade Macaroni and Cheese


1 box of macaroni
2 tablespoons of margarine
Dry mustard (if you have it. I don’t ever add this because I don’t have any.)
2 types of cheese (or how many you want. I use mild and sharp combination.)

In a sauce pan combine 2 tablespoons of margarine, dry mustard and 2 tablespoons of flour.

Cream together at a low heat, then add about 3 cups of milk (depending on how much you are making.) I usually use a medium size macaroni box, which makes a large casserole dish full.

After the milk has gotten warm, add in about a cup of grated cheese (combination of the two cheeses or just one kind). Cook this slowly so it will not scorch, until it thickens.

Boil water for your macaroni and then when it’s ready, drain and put the macaroni in a casserole dish. Add salt, pepper, and cheeses, which if you have bought in block form, you have already grated. Mix it good throughout your macaroni. I like to make sure I have it good and cheesy. Once your sauce has thickened, pour over the macaroni (you can put bread crumbs on top, if you wish.) Put in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes.

Whala – Macaroni and Cheese.

For your family, you might not want to make this much -- just adjust your portions.

Thanks mom and Auntie Teedie. Needless to say, I’ll be cooking this for Thursday’s dinner. I've made it before and it turned out well!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Single Mothers Surviving

Cassandra Jackson (center) with Emerald (left)
and Jewelia
Always Tough, Single Motherhood Gets Worse
by Lynette Holloway
The Root

November 18, 2010

A recession, vanishing family support and rising unemployment have left single black and Hispanic mothers with zero wealth and a rough road ahead.

Forty-four-year-old Cassandra Jackson recently returned home to Chicago from Memphis, Tenn., in hopes of upgrading her quality of life and beating the odds faced by so many single African-American mothers: finding a job.

Jackson, who had worked as a secretary for the state of Tennessee, was barely making ends meet in Memphis. That's why she packed up her two daughters and went to live with her mother in her childhood home in Englewood, a gritty neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, known to be one of the most dangerous in the nation.

She moved because she needed child care and she wanted her daughters -- Emerald, 11, and Jewelia, 10 -- to be in the safest hands possible: her mother's. She needed peace of mind while enduring the stress of pounding the pavement looking for administrative-support jobs.

She said she has refused to shack up with a man for the sake of paying the bills, as she's seen so many other women do, not just for moral reasons but also out of concern for the safety of her girls. She has heard too many stories about women's boyfriends abusing and molesting their children. Jackson, a practicing Christian, attends a Baptist church.

"In Memphis, the neighborhood was changing for the worse," Jackson told The Root. "I know Englewood's reputation, but I grew up here. My family is here, and I can get on my feet in time. Meanwhile, I know my girls are in good hands if I need to run out to a job interview or go grocery shopping. And I know who's in the house and that my girls are safe."

Jackson is lucky because most single black mothers -- who have been hit hardest by the current recession -- do not have a support system that mirrors the ones of days gone by. The safety net was made up of grandmothers, known as Big Mama and Madea -- strong black women. They are cut from the same cloth as Rosa Parks, Mary McLeod Bethune and Ida B. Wells. Yes, you know of them.

But women exemplified by these models have fallen by the wayside because of changing demographics and evolving times that have forced them to go back to work themselves, rendering them unable to stay at home to tend to their grandchildren. Or they have died off because of unchecked health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. In other cases, these women may be in need of care themselves because they are sick or unemployed.

"I think it's a myth that we don't still have strong black women anchoring our communities," says Tricia B. Bent-Goodley, Ph.D., a professor at Howard University School of Social Work. Still, she says, many single mothers do not have the strong caregiving safety net of yesteryear. Today Big Mama may be your friend's grandmother, an auntie, a woman in the community or a woman at a social service center.

Add an unyielding recession into the mix, and it's no wonder that African-American single mothers are being crushed financially, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a recent report from New York University's Women of Color Policy Network, "At Rope's End" (pdf).

The NYU report shows that African-American and Latina single mothers have a median wealth of zero, compared with white women, who have a median wealth of $6,000. Last year 40 percent of African-American female heads of households with children lived in poverty, compared with 23 percent of white women, the report says.

The unvarnished numbers for joblessness among African-American single women are just as alarming. In October, the most recent numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among African-American single women was 20.3 percent, compared with 17.7 percent for Hispanics and 11.3 percent for whites.

The numbers have skyrocketed from October 2008, when the unemployment rate was 12.8 percent for African-American single women, 10.7 percent for Hispanics and 7.1 percent for whites. They're even up slightly from last October, when the unemployment rate was 19.1 percent for African-American single women, 13.7 percent for Hispanics and 10.7 for whites.

The recession has been especially tough on single mothers because they are the only income providers for their families and their traditional safety nets have been shredded, including by limits on unemployment and welfare benefits, says Joan Entmacher, vice president for family economic security at the National Women's Law Center, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

"It's hard for single moms because a disproportionate number have lower education levels than the general population," Entmacher says. "As jobs become scarce, there is more competition for few available jobs, and college grads are taking those. The highest unemployment rate is among people with few job skills, and that population includes poor men and women. Black women and black men have suffered incredible job losses during this recession."

Jackson, who attended some college, agrees that it's been tough. The challenges she faces are steep. She's been looking for work for more than six months and hasn't found any. She's surviving off public assistance. She does not receive child support because her ex is also unemployed. He stops by her mother's house every now and then and gives each of the girls $1, maybe $3, she says.

"You learn who you can depend on and who you can't," she says. "You learn to find advocates. Back in Memphis, another single mother and I used to alternate buying a case of chicken wings each month and split them equally. That way, at least we had chicken. This recession is making us single mothers learn to be thrifty and proactive. If we get nothing else from it, at least we get that."

Lynette Holloway is a Chicago-based writer. She is a former New York Times reporter and associate editor for Ebony magazine.,0

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Preliminary Hearing: Richmond, Calif. gang rape case

My God!!! How awfull -- to read some of the gruesome details of this tragedy. Where are the other boys/men who did this? 20 minus 7 = 13!!! Where are they? Let the hunt continue.

Richmond officer's harrowing saga of gang rape
by Kevin Fagan
San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MARTINEZ, Calif. -- A Richmond police officer choked up in court Monday as he described what he called one of the worst experiences in his career - finding the 16-year-old victim of last year's gang rape at Richmond High School slung half-naked over a bench, bloodied and vomiting while her alleged attackers ran from the scene.

"She was wet and clammy," Officer Todd Kaiser testified, struggling with his words and clenching his jaw. "I thought she was dead. The only thing touching the ground were the tops of her feet and the side of her face.

"I went up and shook her and she moaned a little bit."

The seven men accused of raping the girl Oct. 24, 2009, as she left a campus homecoming dance sat impassively while the officer spoke. And that's how they remained throughout a daylong preliminary hearing at Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez, which will determine if they will be held for trial on rape and robbery charges.

Six of the defendants could be sentenced to life in prison. They are Cody Smith, 16, of San Pablo; Ari Morales, 17, of San Pablo; Manuel Ortega, 20, of Richmond; Jose Montano, 19, of Richmond; Marcelles Peter, 18, of Pinole; and John Crane Jr., 43, of Richmond.

The seventh defendant, 23-year-old Elvis Torrentes of Richmond, faces charges including aiding the act of rape that could land him in prison for 26 years.

Most of the two dozen relatives of the suspects who attended the hearing declined to comment, and the victim's family apparently was not in court. She is not expected to testify.

"People were just mentioning names to save their own skin, but Elvis was not one of the people who did this," said Torrentes' brother, Raul Torrentes. "He left before things got started.

"Right now we're leaving it to the hands of God. We expect justice."

The preliminary hearing before Judge Gregory Caskey is expected to last one to three weeks.

Kaiser, the first witness to testify as the hearing began Monday, said he had found condom wrappers and the victim's underwear flung to the pavement. He told the court that the victim's father had arrived while the girl was at the rape site, waiting to be taken by helicopter to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek.

The father said he had been frantically calling his daughter for some time when he couldn't locate her after the dance, and that finally a male had picked up the phone, Kaiser testified.

"The male told him 'how good his daughter' performed sex acts," Kaiser said.

Kaiser's partner on the scene, Officer Gunnar Googins, testified that he had arrived a block from the school just after another officer caught Ortega running away.

"I went over to where (the other officer) and Ortega were, and he (Ortega) said, 'I just wanted to pimp her out,' " Googins testified. Ortega was drunk, he said.

Googins said he had asked Ortega "what he meant by 'pimping her out,' and he answered, 'Just go ahead and kill me.' He said it several times."

Ortega's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Jack Funk, tried to question Googins about how intoxicated the victim was, with the idea of addressing whether she had consented to sex. The judge stopped him from doing so.

An empty brandy bottle was found at the scene, the officers testified, and Googins' incident report indicated that she seemed intoxicated.

Witnesses told police that as many as 20 people had participated in the two-hour rape, but only the seven in court Monday have been arrested.

The hearing will resume today.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rza Gets Gritty

I missed this one when it came out -- it's definitely moving and shows RZA's knack for finding or creating hypnotic hooks and relevant themes. I can't help but think he's got more to tell us. I was most impressed with his work on two of my favorite films -- Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai and Kill Bill.

Grits by Rza

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Homicide....

For all the men and boys out there who are sulking because they don't like the way black men are portrayed in the new film "For Colored Girls," -- relax. There's something out there for you too. It's a play by Keith Antar Mason, based on Ntozake Shange's powerhouse drama "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf," and it's called "For Black Boys Who Have Considered Homicide When the Streets Were Too Much."

It's raw, poetic, and speaks to you like you probably want it to. I've directed excerpts from the play and I've seen black men respond to it viscerally. I took some actors to perform the excerpts in places like a prison (in Wilmington, Del.), a reform school for boys (in Wilmington, Del.), and a college campus in Philadelphia. One guy, a fellow African-American directing student, said to me after seeing the performance: "Now that's what I'm talkin' about family!" I took that as a compliment. Two other young men from my old neighborhood just simply nodded their heads up and down, said "yes" and "We wanna see more!"

So, hang your heads no more gentleman. Find a copy of Mason's play and bask in the understanding. Here's a partial monologue from the drama to tide you over:

i must be mistaken
some monster
i know
i can tell by the way you look
at me
you tighten up
and never smile
like aggression can only
be symbolized
by me
like the male gender
and colored black means
death carrier
potent poison
like the only mind i
have is between
my legs
and all it does is piss
the sewage out
the raw unadulterated
and i know
somehow i know
i want to live
a long time but
i am gonna die
some obscene
cuz' you clutch
yourself around me
hold back
all the good things
even precious smiles
from me
somehow i know
i wuz' born to die
to die too soon
and i don't understand

and that's the confusion you see
that's the fear
you feel
i am no more than
the stacked up
cemented aggression
black tornado
come back from
oz no hell
born to die
and i mus' be
a zombie
walkin' the streets
the livin' dead

African Proverb: The Words of Women

The words of women do not fall down.

Alicia Benjamin's Writing Samples

I am a Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School

ESL Students Express Cultural Identity

The Art of Community Organizing

For This Writer’s Group It’s All About the Critique

Erykah Badu: Missed Opportunity

Tito Puente, Jr.: His Contagious Music Makes You Want to Dance

The Storeroom Features Some of Charlotte’s Most Respected Artists

Poem: The Way of a Lover

Music Review: Apothecary Rx by Carl Hancock Rux

Splish Splash: Families Soak Up the Fun in Custom In-ground Pools
(The article begins on page 37)

"Star-Spangled Banner"-singing students muzzled at Jefferson Memorial

Muralists Casey and Tom Kilgore bring your imagination to life with CK Paints(The article begins on page 26)

Park Commissioners Want 'Bad Words' Deleted from Play

Maryland Woman Claims Record Company Mislabeled 'Clean Version' CD

Chuck Brown's Go-Go Game

Spider: A Tangled Web of Reality and Fantasy

Appeals Panel: Reprimanded Prison Workers Can Pursue Speech Claims in Court

Protecting the Purity of Olive Oil

Nina Simone, George Clinton, Fantasia, and More at N.C. Music Hall of Fame

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Song: I Found God in Myself by Mem Nahadr

Go straight to
this link to hear Mem Nahadr sing the song "I Found God in Myself," which is featured in the upcoming film "For Colored Girls." You'll immediately feel the chills and warmth at the same time.


I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely
I found me deep direct and I loved her deeply
I’ve been through it all

Seen a lot of things that made me weep
But the call to myself I'll ever heed
Cause I realize that I am, everywhere I am
And no matter what, I’m still standing, I’m still standing
Cause I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely
No other one has always been there
I saved me
This ain’t no cause, nor is it charity to know yourself and recognize
That everywhere you are , there you are
On this there’s no compromise
I found out what was in me
No room for regret
I am here and I am all I’ll ever need or ever gonna get
I recognize within myself that
I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely
God in myself and I loved her loved her fiercely,
For all the love that she gives me
I loved her fiercely
I loved her fiercely
I found God
I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely
I loved her, I loved her fiercely for all the love that, love that she gives me
I love her, love her fiercely,
I loved her, loved her fiercely

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Remembering Childhood and Running for Shelter

It's a shame when you ask a student "What do you remember about your childhood?" and he answers, "I remember fighting in a war." (in Vietnam)

Question for my ESL students: "When do you run for shelter?"

My example: I run for shelter when I hear gun shots.
I run for shelter when I'm being attacked (unless there's no exit), in which case, I stand and fight.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Forest, Michael, and Tito: Stars We Really Like

"Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai"

When it rains and we are met by a sudden shower
Why do we run or try to shelter under trees
Why do we try so hard not to get wet
If you resolve yourself to the fact that you will get wet
Then you have no reason to get vexed
Even though you will get the same soaking
This understanding extends to everything.

-- Ghost Dog, translation of text from the Hagakure

"Remember the Time?"

"Oye Como Va"


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dizzy Gillespie: Salt Peanuts and Afro-Cuban Jazz

Happy Birthday to Dizzy Gillespie who was born John Birks Gillespie in 1917 in the great city of Cheraw, South Carolina. I've been there, and it's obvious that they still love their native son.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Pair of Perfect Legs

Pianist Liu Wei

Excerpt from Harper’s Weekly
(Harper's Weekly Review), October 19, 2010

… a Russian court seized a woman's piglet--her most valuable possession--to pay off some of her debts. An 8-year-old Florida boy watched the pet turtle he'd just donated to the Gulfarium be eaten by an alligator. "Oh no, alligator," he screamed. "Let it go!" The boy's mother made him look away from the scene, but they could still hear the turtle shell crunching between the gator's teeth. Some dogs, scientists determined, were pessimists. Liu Wei, a 23-year-old armless man who plays the piano with his toes, won the first season of "China's Got Talent." Liu, who was offered a three-month stint performing in Las Vegas, said, "At least I have a pair of perfect legs."                  -- Rafe Bartholomew

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Providence: Photos on the Fly

Photos taken by Gigi, on the fly, while riding in the car (Albemarle, N.C.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why I Wouldn’t Vote for Christine O’Donnell

Chris Coons at Widener Law School's
Delaware Campus
Although I haven’t lived in Delaware for quite a number of years, I still feel connected to the Blue Hen state. Why? For one thing, my parents live there, as do many of my relatives and friends. We were all so proud when Barack Obama selected Joe Biden as his running mate in the last Presidential election. We were even more elated when the pair won! I think I speak for a number of my Delawarean family members and friends when I say that Biden has done us proud.

I’d like to see Biden replaced by someone of good character, who has constructive plans for the good people of Delaware, who can lead the people to a more promising future. After looking at the Web sites of U.S. Senate candidates Chris Coons and Christine O’Donnell, I would have to endorse Chris Coons.

Here’s why I would not vote for O’Donnell:

Have you seen her talk substantially about any issues anywhere? Her Web site gives general and vague descriptions of her positions on a few issues, but I don’t really get a feel for how she’d vote on issues or what specific issues she’s passionate about.

Here are some examples:

O’Donnell’s Web site says: She “strongly believes in protecting the sanctity of life in all stages.”

Okay, what does that mean specifically? How do you stand on Roe v. Wade?

O’Donnell’s Web site says: She “believes jobs are created when businesses are freed from endless taxes and bureaucratic red tape.”

How so? Please describe in detail how this would work to create more jobs for people like me. Can you guarantee that businesses will create more jobs once the government decreases their taxes and untangles “bureaucratic red tape?”

O’Donnell’s Web site says: She “believes our country was founded on core values of faith, family and freedom and will fight to defend those values. Will always fight for maximum choice for parents about where to educate their kids, including private, parochial and charter schools or in the home.”

How maximum? Will you vote to give parents like me – single mothers – 100 % vouchers to send our children to private schools like Country Day or Charlotte Latin School in Charlotte?

O’Donnell’s Web site says: “Christine’s strong support of 2nd Amendment rights has earned her an ‘A’ rating from the NRA.”

What politician doesn’t support 2nd Amendment rights? What exactly do you mean here? What specific proposals do you have concerning gun legislation?

O’Donnell’s Web site says: She “believes that the solution to the healthcare crisis is less government meddling in the doctor/patient relationship, more competition in the insurance market and more choice for families about their health plan.”

Yeah, but what about those of us who don’t have healthcare coverage (like me!) As United States citizens, shouldn’t we all have the same access to quality healthcare?

And finally, Christine doesn’t have one person of color represented on her Web site. What does this say to Delawareans like my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends in Delaware?

Here’s why I would vote for Coons:

Straightaway, I like Chris Coons' Web site a whole lot more than O’Donnell’s. Why? He provides a clear link to the page where he talks about his stand on the ISSUES. Coons also goes into more elaborate detail about what he supports regarding the issues. As a matter of fact, all I need to do is list information about three issues that Coons discusses on his Web site for you to see how much more thought Mr. Coons has given to the issues.

About Education, Coons’ Web site says:

Every student should have the opportunity to receive a quality public education that offers support and training for the jobs of tomorrow… Chris supports efforts to improve early childhood education by strengthening Head Start, Early Head Start and high-quality pre-K programs. He will work to fix the failures of No Child Left Behind while still upholding the goal of providing a quality education to every child.

Through his work with the “I Have a Dream” Foundation in Wilmington and nationally, Chris learned that performance in the classroom depends on more than teachers and curriculum. Housing, health care, crime and poverty all have a direct impact on a child’s development and their ability to learn. Tackling these broader issues at the federal, state and local levels and approaching education reform as a component of a holistic approach is critical to long-term success for our children.

About Health care, Coons’ Web site says:

Chris Coons believes that good health is the foundation of economic prosperity. Crippling health care costs have robbed American families and have hurt our nation's competitiveness. Although he does not believe it is perfect, Chris supports President Obama’s landmark health care legislation and is committed to working across the aisle to make it better.

Chris supports efforts to improve pre-natal care for all women to give babies a healthy start in life. Chris believes that decisions about a woman’s health, including issues surrounding pregnancy, should be left to her and her doctor. Abortion should remain safe, legal, and rare for women regardless of their financial means. He has received a 100% pro-choice rating from NARAL.

About Jobs, Coons’ Web site says:

Well, this list is extensive and I recommend that you click here to go to his Web site to see all that he proposes on this issue.
Coons also studied at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Hmmmm. I’m intrigued. Here’s what Chad Livengood wrote in The News Journal yesterday about Coons' study abroad (via Amherst College):

Coons admits in interviews and writings that living with a struggling host family in Nairobi changed his attitude about the poor, which ultimately motivated him to a position that would serve the public. It also altered his view of America.
"I had to see the slums of Nairobi before the slums of New York meant anything at all, but without the experiences of Amherst, I never would have seen either," Coons wrote at the end of the column [in a 1985 for a college newspaper at Amherst]. Coons later spent time working in homeless shelters in New York City.

To conclude, after studying the Web sites of both Coons and O’Donnell, I’d have to cast my vote for Mr. Coons – that is IF I were still a Delaware resident. But rest assured, I’ll soon call and write my family and friends in the Blue Hen State to try to influence their choice.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Gigi at North Myrtle Beach

Yeah, this is the place.
I love it here!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

International Violence Against Women Act

Dear Readers,

I know that keeping women and girls around the world free from fear and harm is as important to you as it is to me. That's why I'm inviting you to use your power as an American citizen to empower the millions of women around the world who suffer from violence and abuse.

I recently contacted my Representative and Senators asking them to support the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA, H.R. 4594, S. 2982). I urge you to do the same by visiting where you can send an email to your Senators and Representative.

Just visit the following link:

This bill matters! Drafted in consultation with more than 150 groups around the world, the IVAWA (H.R. 4594, S. 2982) is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that incorporates proven solution for reducing violence into U.S. international assistance programs. It would impact millions of women, empowering them with tools to escape abuse.

Millions of concerned Americans like you and me are speaking up and taking action. Please add your voice by contacting your Congressperson!

The Des Moines Register featured an article on the International Violence Against Women Act and its importance in helping end violence against women and girls worldwide. (July 28, 2010)

Six months after Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake, female survivors living in camps for the displaced fall prey to rapists inside them. In India's northern states, "honor killings" have seen an uptick. People are killed under edicts issued by religious councils as punishment for marrying outside their caste or religion, or within a kinship group. In Congo, where mass rapes of women occur in front of their children, there is no word for rape. It's just called sex.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

African Proverb: The Darkness of Night

The darkness of night cannot stop the light of morning. (Burundi)

Friday, September 17, 2010

For Colored Girls: I Found God in Myself

Ntozake Shange

Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Janet Jackson, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington, Thandie Newton, Kimberly Elise, Macy Gray, and Loretta Devine are coming to you soon in the upcoming film, For Colored Girls, directed by Tyler Perry, with a screenplay by Perry (based upon the groundbreaking play by Ntozake Shange, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf). I guess after seeing the film, viewers will decide if Shange's play -- which appeared on Broadway 35 years ago, and around the world on so many stages since then -- should have been enough.

Ntozake Shange's name means: She who comes with her own things.

lady in brown

dark phrases of womanhood
of never havin been a girl
half-notes scattered without rhythm/
no tune/ distraught laughter fallin over a black girl's shoulder
it's funny/ it's hysterical
the melody-less-ness of her dance
don't tell nobody don't tell a soul
she's dancin on beer cans & shingles

Click here to see the trailer for the film.

(I can't tell you how much this play means to me, so if Tyler Perry has messed this one up, I may have to go looking for him.)

i found God in myself and i loved her/i loved her fiercely

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Telling Horror Stories

I hate it when people read or recount tragic stories IN DETAIL -- out loud. Why do they think everyone in earshot wants to hear that? I don't. I have a very vivid imagination and can visualize things in color and detail and only cringe and feel awful when I hear those stories told or shown. (This morning at work a woman felt compelled to read, out loud, in full voice, a newspaper story about a child who was run over by a school bus!)

On the other hand, I haven't been able to explain why I love a well made horror film that really scares me and shows the main characters overcoming evil and despair. Some of my favorites: Rosemary's Baby, 30 Days of Night, 28 Days Later, The Exorcist, Zombieland, and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane.

These stories are especially appealing to me when I'm going through my own personal traumatic experiences. I'm sure this attraction can be explained by some Psychologist somewhere.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Black Woman's Cells are Immortal

Henrietta Lacks unknowingly helped
launch virology as a field and made
billions for Invitrogen and BioWhittaker.
Editor's Note (Feb. 8, 2011): Here's an update to this unbelievable story:

Returning the Blessings of an Immortal Life

Thank you sister Marchelle for telling me about this unbelievable story!

Book review: 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks'
By Eric Roston

(This article was first published in The Washington Post on January 31, 2010 )

By early 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a mother of five in Baltimore, had suffered for some time from what she described as a painful "knot on my womb." She sought treatment at Johns Hopkins, a charity hospital and the only one around that treated black patients. The diagnosis: cervical cancer. Before administering radium for the first time, the attending doctor cut two dime-size samples of tissue, one cancerous and one healthy, from Lacks's cervix. No one asked permission or even informed her. The doctor gave the tissue to George Gey, a scientist who had been trying to establish a continuously reproducing, or immortal, human cell line for use in cancer research. According to protocol, a lab assistant scribbled an abbreviation of Lacks's name, "HeLa" (hee-lah), on the sample tubes.

HeLa succeeded where all other human samples had failed. Gey gave away laboratory-grown cells to interested colleagues. Scientists grew cells in mass quantities to test the new polio vaccine. Soon a commercial enterprise was growing batches for large-scale use. Discoveries piled up. HeLa led to the understanding that normal human cells have 46 chromosomes. NASA launched HeLa into orbit to test how human cells behave in zero-gravity. The cells, in turn, helped launch virology as a field and shot medical research forward like a rocket.

Nearly 60 years later, Lacks's tissue has yielded an estimated 50 million metric tons of HeLa cells. Scientific and medical researchers add about 300 HeLa-related studies a month to the library of 60,000 studies. Lacks's surviving family members have learned what was going on -- and have become subjects of interest for researchers, too. HeLa cells are still being used today because they grow so relentlessly in culture, which is rare for cells generally and for cervical cancer cells in particular.

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot is a biography of the eponymous heroine and her offspring. There are her children, and their children, all reared in poverty and too often without health insurance. Lacks's world-changing cells, meanwhile, have been lavished with attention and money by scientists around the globe for nearly twice her lifetime. The story raises questions about bioethics and leaves a reader wondering who should benefit from scientific research and how it should be conducted. In the words of Lacks's youngest daughter, Deborah: "If our mother cells done so much for medicine, how come her family can't afford to see no doctors?"

Rebecca Skloot, an accomplished science journalist, became curious about Lacks at age 16 when a biology instructor shared her name and skin color but nothing else. Skloot's book is the result of a decade of research that took her to a Lacks family cemetery where black descendants are buried atop white slaveholder relatives, to depressed Baltimore neighborhoods, to Johns Hopkins's world-class medical research center and to Crownsville Hospital Center in Maryland, formerly the Hospital for the Negro Insane.

Skloot's vivid account begins with the life of Henrietta Lacks, who comes fully alive on the page with her "walnut eyes, straight white teeth, and full lips" -- a woman who loved dancing and, in the words of her cousin Emmett Lacks, was the "sweetest girl you ever wanna meet." Skloot goes on to reveal the complex emotional, scientific and legal issues that Lacks's life engendered. Her cells lead a life of their own, from Gey's research lab in Baltimore to the Tuskegee Institute and the for-profit venture Microbiological Associates (which became a part of the companies Invitrogen and BioWhittaker).

The Lackses learned about HeLa in the 1970s and embarked on a bewildering quest for comprehension and reconciliation. Henrietta's first cousin Cootie puts the entire remarkable HeLa history in stark relief: "Nobody round here never understood how she dead and that thing still livin. That's where the mystery's at."

"Immortal Life" reads like a novel. The prose is unadorned, crisp and transparent. Skloot frequently glides into section and chapter breaks with thought-provoking quotations from interview subjects. This technique sometimes lets well-meaning scientists demonstrate through naivete how easy it is to objectify human research subjects. Years later, Gey's lab assistant Mary Kubicek told Skloot about Lacks's autopsy: "When I saw those toenails, I nearly fainted. I thought, Oh jeez, she's a real person." An afterword takes the reader from the story into current thinking about bioethics. (President Obama created his own bioethics advisory panel before Thanksgiving.)

This book, labeled "science -- cultural studies," should be treated as a work of American history. It's a deftly crafted investigation of a social wrong committed by the medical establishment, as well as the scientific and medical miracles to which it led. Skloot's compassionate account can be the first step toward recognition, justice and healing.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Reprise: Should Voting Be Mandatory in the U.S.?

Editor's Note: I initially posted this article in April 2008, but the issue is still relavant today? What if ... ?

I’ve learned from some Brazilians that voting is mandatory in their country –- that’s right, you must vote in Brazil if you are at least 18 years old. Imagine the look of horror on one Brazilian’s face when I told him that not only do millions of Americans not vote, but millions are also not even registered to vote. His look said, “Why, that is a disgrace!” I think he’s right.

The battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has inspired many unregistered people in this country to not only register but to exercise their right to vote.

Whatever the outcome of the Primary election might be, I say Obama and Clinton deserve credit for getting younger people, African-Americans, and others to express themselves politically.

If voting were mandatory for all citizens in America who are 18 years old and older, how would that change the look of Congress, the White House, and our state and local governments? I wonder, would we see more women, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, disabled and handicapped representatives?

Here’s part of a post by a Washington state resident, Bill Center, who visited Brazil less than 2 years ago. He talks about the effect of mandatory voting in that country:

We were in Brazil during the final weeks of the election campaign. The race for President is closer than anticipated and seems to be drawing a lot of attention from the citizens. In Brazil every citizen is a voter. Voting is "mandatory."

Interesting idea.

Technically there can be serious penalties for failing to vote, including loss of government pension. In reality the serious penalties are seldom imposed. Most often there is a fine equal to about $1US. It hardly seems necessary as most people appear to view voting as a serious responsibility.

President Lula — who rose from poverty himself — is very popular with the poorer classes because of the social programs he has implemented. Even so, his reelection is in some jeopardy because of recent scandals involving some of his top aides. His challenger is the Governor of the State of Sao Paulo [population 40 million!]. Under Brazilian law, he had to give up the governorship to run for president.

Click here to read U.S. Census figures on voter turnout numbers in the 2004 presidential election in the U.S.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Better Than Wine: Song of Solomon

"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine." -- Song of Solomon, 1:2

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Share a Space in The Black Girls' Corner

Inviting Black girls, ages 10-15, in the Charlotte, NC area to participate in a bi-weekly group, The Black Girls' Corner.

Girls will role-play various topics, show off talents, view/discuss media, play games, establish new friendships, and gain cultural exposure. The mission of the group is to give young girls a voice and an outlet away from their home, school, and church environments. Upcoming topics to be discussed will include the importance of education, negative aspects of media, bullying, and alternatives to violence. Mothers of the girls will participate in separate or joint group discussions each session.


Peace and Serenity Garden Room @ The ArtHouse (in NoDa)  
3103 Cullman Avenue, Charlotte, NC  

Saturdays, 10 a.m. - Noon

Next Meeting:
Saturday, September 18

Directions and room views:

There is a $10 fee per session/per girl to cover room/equipment rental and refreshments.

Contact Vickie L. Hughes at for more information.

Founder of The Black Girls' Corner, Vickie L. Hughes, J.D., is a seasoned professional, with a diverse background in business, civic advocacy, and training. She has also earned Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Psychology. “Miss Vickie” has a genuine passion for mentoring and assisting young people in positive growth development.

A few years ago, the death of a friend's son changed my life. Although I am single with no children, that death affected me so that I devoted the rest of my life to assisting youth/young adults. I have had a great life; I must help those in younger generations. I believe that to be my life's calling and the legacy God wants to leave behind through me.

Within the next year, I plan to be the Executive Director of my own national non-profit entity. Recently, I founded/started a program component of that entity. It is "The Black Girls' Corner," for Black girls ages 10-15. Join me in doing whatever you can to reach out to our youth, our leaders of tomorrow. "Their lives depend on God and US!"
 -- Vickie L. Hughes, J.D.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

One of the Great Cities

New Orleans is one of the great cities, yet our country seems indifferent to it.
      -- Douglas Brinkley, author, The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My People: Gullah Language and Culture

Listen to Gullah. (Da lettle smaat gal ober yah.)

The Gullah Language
by Dennis Adams and Hillary Barnwell
(of the Beaufort County Library, Beaufort, SC)

Gullah is a creole form of English, indigenous to the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia (the area extends from Georgetown, SC to the Golden Isles of Georgia above Florida). Like all creoles, Gullah began as a pidgin language, transforming into a language in its own right with the first generation born in America. A similar form of plantation creole may have been widespread at one time in the southern United States, but Gullah now differs from other African-American dialects of English (which do not vary greatly from the standard syntax, pronunciation and vocabulary). Though creole languages the world over share a surprisingly similar structure, the speakers of one creole can seldom understand speakers of another on first contact.

According to David Crystal in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, the word "comes from Portuguese crioulo and originally meant a person of European descent who had been born and brought up in a colonial territory. Later, it came to be applied to other people who were native to these areas, and then to the kind of language they spoke." Creole languages have been spoken on every inhabited continent, and are "English based," "French based" – even "Romany based" like Sheldru, used by Gypsies in England. Krio, spoken in Sierra Leone, is just one example of an English-based creole with many similarities to Gullah -- the creole language of the Sea Islands.

"Noon Wash"
by Jonathan Green, an artist out of the Gullah
Most of Gullah vocabulary is of English origin, but the grammar and major elements of pronunciation come from a number of West African language, such as Ewe, Mandinka, Igbo, Twi and Yoruba. The name, "Gullah", itself probably derives from "Angola" (and possibly from the large number of slaves who arrived from that part of Africa in the early 1800s). "Geechee" -- another name for the language and culture of black Sea Islanders -- comes from a tribal name in Liberia. Traditions, language and myth stayed longer with the coastal Carolina Gullahs, who were allowed a greater latitude of self-sufficiency and were relatively isolated on the Sea Islands.

Most Beaufort slaves in the first decades of the 1800s may have been first-generation African arrivals. So it was not merely the remoteness of the Sea Islands that preserved the African culture and language influences among Gullah speakers. 23,773 slaves came to South Carolina from Africa between 1804 through 1807, and 14,217 of these originated from Angola, Congo, or "Congo and Angola". The newly arrived slaves breathed new life into African traditions already established on the islands. A new infusion of pidgin influences would have had a profound impact on the existing creole language.

As with many minority languages the world over, television, education and increased social contact have all undermined Gullah to a large extent. Gullah speakers now use various Black American English dialects in dealings with non-Islanders, though Gullah is the language of home, family and community. Whatever its fate as a living vernacular, Gullah will live on with the general public as the language of Uncle Remus in Joel Chandler Harris's Bre'r Rabbit tales and of the fiction of South Carolina's Ambrose E. Gonzales.

Here Gullah Folk Tales by Aunt Pearlie Sue.

Dey bless fa true, dem wa saaful now, cause God gwine courage um.
(Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.) -- De Nyew Testament

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sand in the Hands at Venice Beach

For you film buffs out there, this reminds me of the shot that Julie Dash captured in her film, Daughters of the Dust. What makes this even more special is that these are the hands of my daughter. Thanks for the image Ms. Dash.
Venice Beach Dust

Friday, August 20, 2010

All About the Santa Monica Pier

Lovely Santa Monica water
Grinnin' at the Santa Monica Pier
I'm so cute in Santa Monica.

California Dreamin': The People 2

Gigi at the California African American Museum

New friends: Gigi and Haley at the pool

Gigi and Solomon

Gigi in front of the fountain

Alicia in front of the fountain

Thursday, August 19, 2010

California Dreamin': The People 1

Gigi and I had a grand time in the City of Angels, and we're so grateful for the warm hospitality of my dear friend Cheryl and her family. God bless you Cheryl!
The lovely Miss Odell

Siblings: David, Cheryl and Yolanda

Gigi and her Godmother Cheryl
The regal Miss Inther

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Family Reunion Photos by Brandon Miller and Gigi

Sisters united!

"Remember when we danced like this back home?"

We is cousins.
Brandon's T-Shirt design
We are family.

Caught me smilin'

Monday, August 02, 2010

Silly Putty Sandal

Gigi made a sandal out of silly putty last night -- Ah, the creative minds of children.

All about silly putty (from Wikipedia):
Silly Putty (originally called Nutty Putty] and also marketed by other companies as Thinking Putty, Bouncing Putty, Tricky Putty and Potty Putty), is the Crayola owned trademark name for a class of silicone polymers. It is marketed today as a toy for children, but was originally created by accident during research into potential rubber substitutes for use by the United States in World War II.

After its success as a toy, other uses were found. In the home, it can be used to pick up dirt, lint, and pet hair. The material's unique properties have found niche use in medical and scientific applications. It is used in large quantity by physical therapists for rehabilitative therapy of hand injuries. A number of other brands (such as Power Putty and TheraPutty) alter the material's properties, offering different levels of resistance. The material is also used therapeutically for stress reduction. Because of its adhesive characteristics, it was used by Apollo astronauts to secure their tools in zero-gravity.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Try and Make it Better: The Whispers

"People stop complainin' bout this world of ours
Try and make it better ...."   (by The Whispers)

Try And Make It Better by The Whispers

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's a Family Reunion: Part 2

More beautiful faces and family fun!

Uncle Will                                       

   Tasha and her little lady      

Ajemu and Shelley

Gigi and Brandon