Thursday, May 29, 2008

Subway Apologizes To Homeschoolers!

Various email lists and World Net Daily report that Subway has apologized for excluding homeschoolers. One mother I know who wrote an especially wonderful letter got a lovely reply. It just goes to show that taking a little bit of time to challenge assumptions can go a long way.

One email list to which I belong posted this personal reply to a letter.
Regarding your concerns about the Subway contest that excludes
home schools from contest eligibility, Scholastic and Subway apologize
to all individuals who have taken offense at this. Our intention was
never to make independent schooled children feel discriminated against
or excluded from this specific promotion.

Throughout the course of the year Scholastic runs a number of
contests and sweepstakes that are open to all teachers and students.
The eligibility of this contest in particular was solely put in place
to award a large group of children with the grand prize of $5,000
worth of athletic equipment. We do however understand how home-
schooled children could benefit from this type of prizing and will
make sure eligibility is open to everyone in future promotions.

We appreciate your feedback and will make sure a similar situation
does not happen in the future.

I want to thank you for taking time to contact Subway. AFA has thanked
them on your behalf."
Thanks to any of my readers who took time to write an email or call. Your voices were heard.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Only Government Sanctioned Rhetoric Welcome

Subway has a writing contest for kids! Yes, the "health conscious" fast food corporation wants children to express themselves. They may be pushing health - but not emotional health. And they make it a point to let potential applicants know that if they are being educated outside of the traditional indoctrinisation industry---they are not welcome.

Phooey on them! Is excellence so scary? Afraid of a few vocal midgets? Was the 2007 homeschooled recent Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion too terrifying? Wikipedia seems to think so.

Advantage....huh, what, excuse me? Scrabbling for resources? Pinching food money to pay for gas to get to lessons? Transforming 15 minutes of adult time into the foundation for a healthy marital relationship? Going to bed flattened and unsatisfied because everyone is so exhausted by facilitating learning?

Everyone makes the best choices for their families. Every single parent on this planet is making sacrifices for their children's benefit. So, why should home educators be excluded because our best choice often works to the advantage of our children?

Wasn't the Civil Right Movement about creating a level playing field? Subway's exclusion of homeschoolers - and Black homeschoolers in particular - negates years of advances which were paid for by death, beating, firehoses, busing and disintegration of the family.

We are exercising our right to have our children educated. It is a scary nation where corporations seek to subdue knowledge displayed on a field which welcomes all comers.

Correspondence / calls may be directed to:

Contact: Franchise Sales
Phone: 203 877 4281
Address: 325 Bic Dr
Milford, CT 06460
United States

If you can't write, call or email....just don't dine with them. We've crossed them off our list. If I get time, I'll post some tips on packing neat picnics for the on-the-go family. It's easier than you think.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Strut On Home | Reginald Lockett Makes His Transition

Strut On Home, Then
for Reginald Lockett

don’t mind me here in the garden
of glitter supervision, dish doing and
legal numbers sung in four languages.

strut on home,

only my capillaries ache. the veins
may sprout mushrooms soon, but
the floor mops itself. a great
relief now as one garden pushes
spreading roots and leaves.
the other fades.

strut on home,

it is Spring
filled as usual with big boned boys cutting
their Mamas bellies open for a first breath;
old women pressing Rosebud leaves to their wrinkled lips;
and single malt voiced men with nothing left to say.


It's been a few days. I'm glad my daughter, Imani, dragged me out of retirement and into my first American reading in five years. It was lovely!

Then, dear, sweet, kind, talented Reginald Lockett passed away quite suddenly. It made me realize the importance of staying out there. You never know. These days - these things make me a little more crazy about keeping a clean house. My grandmother used to always say, You never now how you'll be returning. I am profoundly aware of this wisdom right now.

And I am very sad. And I have been very sad for a few days.

I'm grateful for Cave Canem bringing him into my awareness. Poet, Al Young, has the most moving tribute on his site here. Please drop by Al Young's site and share these memories with me. Thanks.

More of Reginald Lockett's work can be found here.

Or you could always just check out his books

Random History Lessons

Where The Birds Sing Bass

The Party Crashers Of Paradise

I'll leave you with this lovely poem.


Reginald Lockett
from The Party Crashers of Paradise

I say yes!
Yes to love yes to you
Yes to me yes to us
Yes to the sun yes to the moon
Yes to the stars yes to trees
Yes to grass yes to rocks
Yes on top of mountains
And hills yes down in valleys
Yes to our minds yes to our hearts
Yes to our souls yes to the heavenly bodies
Yes yes yes the simple yes
Yes yes yes the profound yes the honest yes
The illuminated yes the diaphanous yes
The sanctified yes
Yes yes yes
Yes to the sparkle in your eyes yes when I gaze at you
Yes when I think about you
Yes in our embrace
Yes to the traces of your lipstick on a wineglass
Yes to the fullness and softness of your lips
Yes to the warmth and smoothness of your skin
Yes in the ways you touch me yes
Yes to the father who sired you yes
Yes to the mother who gave birth to you yes
Yes to your ancestors yes yes yes
Yes to the ground you walk on yes
Yes to the air you breathe yes
Yes to the water you drink yes
Yes to the fruit you eat yes
Si si si qui qui qui to the places you have traveled yes
Yes to the sky you fly through yes
Yes to the roads streets and highways you drive on yes
Yes to the oceans you sail across yes
Yes to the Orishas who bless and protect you yes
Say yo-ho on the stages where you dance yes
Hunh! To the thought of you
That yes
Mmmm-mmmmm! To the scent of you
That yes .
Ooooweeee! To your kiss
That yes
Yes to the secrets we whisper at nigh
Yes to the song we sing at dawn
Yes to the walks we take on the bead
I give thanks to the yesness of your e
And the essence of your yesness
Oh yeah
Oh yeah
Oh yeah
Say yo-ho on the stages where you dance yes
Hunh! To the thought of you
That yes
Mmmm-mmmmm! To the scent of you
That yes
Ooooweeee! To your kiss
That yes
Yes to the secrets we whisper at night
Yes to the song we sing at dawn
Yes to the walks we take on the beach
I give thanks to the yesness of your essence
And the essence of your yesness
Oh yeah
Oh yeah
Oh yeah

Yes, thank you, Reginald.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

They Still Care!

City Paper put my reading on their short list! (Scroll all the way down to the bottom!)

I'll read old and new work. The show will follow three loose themes:
young womanhood/identity,
motherhood/ witnessing children's lives and
elder wisdom/ blessings.

If you're around, see you there!

Heads Up Austin

Back when Imani was growing up, I explained to her why casual sex was a bad idea. Every time we had one of the many big talks, I let her know that every time she had sex with somebody - their souls and auras merged. This meant that if her romantic attachment didn’t work out in this lifetime, she ended up carrying a piece of that persons soul for the rest of her lifetimes.

But, you don't have to get that deep to forge those permanent connections. Sometimes souls inexplicably link up and remained tied together. I have someone whom I’ll be carrying for a long time. His name was Ricardo Ramos. He helped me bring Imani into this world. He was my co-parent for six solid years...before he died tragically of lymphoma. I do not write of him often. (I’m not willing to dive that deep into pain.) I light candles and stew upon him with a somewhat obsessive regularity. He was my family of choice. And his family became mine.

Who says Blacks and Latinos don't get along? Hah! (Well, actually, I know who but we won't be name-calling on this blog tonight.)

Regardless, Ricardo's family and I have connected willy-nilly, catch-as-can these past years. And so - with a flood of memories into my inbox -they invite me to wake up Texas and go do something by my man Obama.

Ricardo’s family has come together to rally behind Obama. His brother and sister, Danny and Eva - pictured to the left - will be working up the crowds in Austin. Go get your groove on for me and add your wispy essence to this greater “US” the country is trying to make. Besides - it’s on my Dad’s birthday. Can you say karma?

What: House Party hosted by Austin’s Team Deliver Puerto Rico
When: Saturday, May 17, 2008, 4:00 to 6:00PM
Where: 7801 Moonflower Drive , Austin , TX 78750

4:00-5:00PM -- Salsa DJ Fabian – Austin 's favorite salsa DJ
5:00-6:00PM -- Live Music by Cienfuegos Duo

Come help support Team Deliver Puerto Rico – Puertorican style, with salsa music and dancing! Puerto Rico 's primary will be June 1 (the last primaries are on June 3). Delegates up for grabs in Puerto Rico : 63 – more than 4 remaining states! (Proportionate distribution, not winner-take-all.)

Eva Ramos is going to Puerto Rico to help the local Obama campaign in the days before this important island primary. Let's send her off with our support!

Come to our Puertorican House Party to show your support! Texas state delegates and alternates have been invited, as well as other Obamans!

Yes we can – Si, se puede!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Small Shiny Secret Bits Of Joy

I despise direct marketing and postage paid envelopes. I vastly dislike having to clutter up my house recycling them. In one of my "order, now! frenzies," my Self boxes and bruises my Self about contributing to consumer waste and adding needless waste to our over-burdened landfills.

I adore my son's artwork. I worry about using so much paper. Thanks to one of the PghMamas, I have found a happy, joyful solution. I am now mailing the day's least favoured artwork - postage paid - to some lovely minimum wage worker who has to slog through and log hundreds of pieces of mail everyday. On each one, I write specially handcrafted to brighten your day.

I only hope they enjoy it. As for the corporations.....well.....let them figure out how to recycle all of it. Regardless, it gives me some small shiny secret bit of joy.

Since I 'm Stuck on Old Fashioned Hair Texts, Let Me Recommend A Lovely Hair Book

Say "hair" to a Black woman and you will provoke strong emotion. I've been scanning through poems as I prepare for my reading on Thursday. (8:00 at Your Inner Vagabond Cafe) I have more hair poems than any one writer should amass in a lifetime. I'm beginning to think I should just skip all of the descriptive language in a poem which deals with being a little girl and getting my hair done. I could eliminate the 3 to 4 stanzas and simply begin,

My Mom.
The Comb.
You know the rest.
This poem is really about
__insert rest of poem here.____

Instead - I debate reading The Motherboard versus this one:

Real Dolls

Mother yanked me out of the crumpled
cozy basket of my bed. Every morning,

slammed me onto the ironing board.
Ran the solid heat back and forth until no

deviant angles ruined the complex
folds and pleats. Hung me out

for the world to admire. When
I pried the wind-up key from my back,

my lungs took their first deep breath.
Frigid air blinked my eyes.

A jittery strobe light world.
Plucked out each spirit pinching pin,

scoured my soul on an old washboard.
until one wrinkle of laughter

unraveled me.

Double starch straight and pressed,
my cousin's mouth forces a crease. Real smile

hidden behind her teeth.
Behind her tongue. Her epiglottis.

Guilt. Snarls of rigid voices.
When emotions arrive at her throat,

she swallows. I see the forbidden
pushing, bulging against her neck.

Under powder and rouge,
flushed young skin

flawless deadpan face,
Shirt collar so stiff,

if she turns her head too fast,
I worry the soft arch of her

throat will slice open.

What could I see
if I startled her?

I want to caress the small of her back.
Touch her key. If I yanked it out,

she might flop over
eyes glazed and lifeless.

Instead, I hug her gingerly.
Lots of space between us.

Careful. Afraid to break her.
My hand grazes the girdle

squeezing her size from six to four.
Black slash near the base of her skull.

A curling iron beauty mark.
Wonder if she will ever refuse

dry cleaning. Curl lascivious
spent next to a pink satin hanger

on the floor. Or fondly stroke
a stain from one humid night

when she gorged ice cream.
Let it dribble down her chin.

Cool her nipple.

an abandoned chuckle.

So, when I encounter an writer who has put the agony to the side and approaches hair with warmth and humour, I am impressed! Let me recommend, Catching The Wild Waiyuuzee by Rita Williams-Garcia. The text is lively and spirited. The illustrations are lovely wonderful. They kept Winston guessing until the end that The Wild Waiyuuzee is a little girl running away from her mother on hair day.

(Of course, it has never occurred to him to scream, fuss and carry-on when I actually sit down to remove the mini-dreads which form on the back of his head. Don't let all of those lovely curls foll you. He has real, honest-to-goodness Black hair side by side with those "soft" curls.)

This is a book for the permanent library. This is one you will save and give to your daughter (or son) on their first Mother/ Father's Day. This is one I'm sure we'll act out the next time I come towards him with a comb in my hand. This is one that I wished had been written when my daughter was little. This is one which shows me how much more growing I have to do. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Spring Constructions

Mother's Day was a bust. But, the day before was awesome. So, I'm not complaining. Instead, I want to celebrate. Tonight, I want to celebrate children who can create magic out of a few sticks, rocks, bricks and natural bric-a-brac. I want to celebrate the act of witnessing "construction and self."

Installation One - Bench

Bench was a creation built by the newly forming "No Global Warming Club" at PALS. Between classes, a few children took it upon themselves to create a bench. They spent an inordinate amount of time using the material at hand; negotiating and implementing design. The result was a major victory in the areas of collaboration; design; architecture; and physics.

Here is Bench. Constructed of rocks, vines, sticks, and dirt - all materials found in their immediate surroundings - it held the weight!

Because our host site for classes seems less than child friendly, we had to dismantle Bench. The kids were sad, yet, cooperative. Somewhere deep inside of them is a steady pulse which beats a mantra of "leave no mark." For this, we are blessed.

Witness the end of Bench.

Installation Two - Virtues

One afternoon, Winston and his friend Pearl were having trouble connecting. So, I dug deep into my bag of theatre tricks and pulled out a story. I sent them on quest after quest to save my kingdom. Together, they had to find many wands. Time after time the "enemy" came against us." Each time they would have to seek an object which would transform the enemy into a friend.

I sent them searching for the wands of unity, compassion, understanding, justice, unity, unconditional love, courage, cooperation and a few more I can't remember. Each time I sent them out, we reviewed how these goals were achieved. (Okay - it was a basic vocabulary lesson.) Then, once the "queendom" was secure, we built a monument.

Here is our monument to Peace through the deep passageways of compassion, understanding, justice, unity, unconditional love, courage, cooperation, etc., etc.

What I found interesting is that as we constructed the monument, they remembered which stick was which. (I had long fogrotten.) And each idea leaned - somehow - appropriately upon the other.

It has since been mowed by the city.

Friday, May 09, 2008

I Would Rather Be An Elephant In A Healthy Herd Than A Human

The cops in Philly went nuts on a suspects after an officer was recently gunned down in an unrelated incident. Of course, the blogosphere has a lot to say about this. The Field Negro understands that two wrongs don't make a right. And refers to the cop-killer as an animal. Raving Black Lunatic makes a plea against stripping away the humanity of anyone regardless of how heinous their crimes are.

I just want to leave a thought. Animals do not rape, murder or abuse their children. Animals do not willfully destroy their habitats or the habitats of others. Animals do not set up elaborate systems designed to suppress other animals.

They do none of these things unless humans have messed with them. This New York Times article is very illuminating. There are moments when you can simply change the word elephant for Black. It is scary how quickly and easily we - as humans - can undo thousands of years of evolution towards maintaining a healthy, balanced, peaceful social infrstructure. Excerpts from An Elephant Crack Up?
Since the early 1990’s, for example, young male elephants in Pilanesberg National Park and the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa have been raping and killing rhinoceroses; this abnormal behavior, according to a 2001 study in the journal Pachyderm, has been reported in ‘‘a number of reserves’’ in the region. In July of last year, officials in Pilanesberg shot three young male elephants who were responsible for the killings of 63 rhinos, as well as attacks on people in safari vehicles. In Addo Elephant National Park, also in South Africa, up to 90 percent of male elephant deaths are now attributable to other male elephants, compared with a rate of 6 percent in more stable elephant communities.
But in ‘‘Elephant Breakdown,’’ a 2005 essay in the journal Nature, Bradshaw and several colleagues argued that today’s elephant populations are suffering from a form of chronic stress, a kind of species-wide trauma. Decades of poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the intricate web of familial and societal relations by which young elephants have traditionally been raised in the wild, and by which established elephant herds are governed, that what we are now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture.

The number of older matriarchs and female caregivers (or ‘‘allomothers’’) had drastically fallen, as had the number of elder bulls, who play a significant role in keeping younger males in line. In parts of Zambia and Tanzania, a number of the elephant groups studied contained no adult females whatsoever. In Uganda, herds were often found to be ‘‘semipermanent aggregations,’’ as a paper written by Bradshaw describes them, with many females between the ages of 15 and 25 having no familial associations.

As a result of such social upheaval, calves are now being born to and raised by ever younger and inexperienced mothers. Young orphaned elephants, meanwhile, that have witnessed the death of a parent at the hands of poachers are coming of age in the absence of the support system that defines traditional elephant life. ‘‘The loss of elephant elders,’’ Bradshaw told me, ‘‘and the traumatic experience of witnessing the massacres of their family, impairs normal brain and behavior development in young elephants.’’

Sound familiar? And it took under 30 years for them to get really angry and fight back.

I'd rather be an elephant in a healthy herd than a human. I wouldn't have to worry about the other elephants. I'd just worry about the real predators - the humans. Those creatures who not only have messed up their own herds, but are hell bent on destroying everyone else's.