Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

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