Thursday, July 31, 2008

Police Stop

I knew my car was past due for inspection. I thought maybe 5 or 6 months. But, it’s a relatively newer mini-van. It is dented and dinged up a bit. (I lent it to my mother while I was living in London.) But, it’s safe.

I had put inspection on my “Round To It” list - somewhere between “weed the front flower bed” and “obtain 45 minutes of peace and quiet.“ That was the wrong thing to do. I should have been a law-abiding citizen and given up my car to the mechanic's for a day. But, it just gets so busy around here! I kept putting it off.

The fastest way home from my son’s violin lesson is through a neglected neighbourhood. Homewood is a fairly crime-ridden, depressed, predominantly Black section of Pittsburgh. I’m jaunting along, relieved that my son was willing to work extra hard today. I notice a police cruiser make a u-turn. I get the feeling they’ve turned around to head back for me.

In the back seat, my son is happily munching his kids meal reward. Chomping and singing along with his Bollywood music. I think to myself, “Oh, travesty packet! Here it is, we are about to have Lesson Number Two in his studies of civil liberties.” I could only pray that it would be a good one.

The lights flash. They bleep the siren. Calmly, I say to my son, “The police want to talk to Mommy,” as I pull the car over. I turn off the cd player and say, “The police like it quiet when they talk with you.”

“Okay,” he says crunching a chip.

In my rear view mirror, two officers leave the cruiser. One heading toward my window and the other heading towards my son’s side. I crack the window enough to slip my information through.

The officer approaches my window. “Good afternoon, Officer,” I say with a smile.

“Can you roll your window down a little more?”

I crack the window another 2 centimetres. Not enough for him to get a hand through, certainly not enough for him to get his head in the window. I smile my most innocent and guileless smile.

He looks at me appraisingly.

I wait.

He waits.

I wait.

He shuffles his feet. The other officer peers into the passenger side. I wonder what he must think. Sitting upright in the passenger seat is a case for a 1/10 size violin. Starbucks cups fill both cup holders, each inside of a ceramic mug. A tupperware container of almonds; granola bar wrappers; organic chocolate milk and juice boxes on the floor jumbled between crayon drawings and a jumble of toys. A regular mess of busy mommyhood.

I wait.

“I pulled you over today because your inspection stickers are one and a 1/2 years out-of-date.

I am flabbergasted. After all, I only returned from London one and 1/2 years ago. How could my parents have let the car go uninspected? Craziness! My father - a lawyer who believes firmly in the infallibility of the law (except as it often pertains to issues of civil rights) - would never let this happen! But, he did.

And it must have shown on my face.

So, I wait.

“May I see your license and registration?”

“Of course!” I exclaim. I pause. “My license is in my purse and my registration is in the glove compartment. May I produce them for you?”

“Yes Ma’am.” He is clearly put off by me. I’m weird.

I hand him my old license (with my new change of address card) and all three registration cards I find in the glove compartment. “I don’t know which is what, but one of them is right. Can you help me?” I smile sheepishly.

He hands back two out of date registration cards. “I’ll be right back.”

In the rear view mirror, he confers with his partner. I see them looking at my bumper sticker. It reads “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.”

He returns. I wait. He looks at my license and verifies my address. (a lovely cul-de-sac in the “good” neighbourhood bordering the one I am in.)

“Yes, sir.”

“Are you going home?”

“Yes, sir,” I sputter, “well no sir, I’m going to one of those inspection places....actually sir I should drop my son off at home with his father before and I go to one of those places. What do you think?”

“I actually can’t recommend an inspection station. But, I’m going to let you off with a warning. You need to have your husband sign the registration. That’s a $150..00 fine. And I could have cited you for the inspection. But, you just get it taken care of.”

“Oh! Thank you sir!” I gush, “Really, really. thank you.”

All right Ma’am, have a god day.”

“Well you have a good day and stay safe out here.” I gush as he walks away.

I drive off. I’m a little shaky thinking of all the ways this could have gone wrong. But, my son stayed calm and quiet. I stayed calm and in control of my knowledge of the Bill Of Rights.

What I Hoped My Son Learned.

1. Be calm, patient.
A. I greeted the officer respectfully.
B. I waited for him to tell me why I was pulled over.

2. Be cheerful and co-operatively non-compliant.
A. I obeyed his request to open my window,
B. BUT, within parameters that would not provide any opportunity for any requests for search my property.

3. Be patient and quiet.
A. I knew why I was being pulled over.
B. BUT, I volunteered no information and made no admissions of guilt.

4. Be enthusiastically submissive - as it pertains to your health and well-being.
A. I agreed to turn over my information.
B. Even given permission to do so, I asked for confirmation that I was safe to comply with his request. I would be reaching into concealed locations in my vehicle. So, I provided the exact location of each item.

5. Be delightfully ignorant.
A. Let the officer feel as if he is in control. By giving him all of the old registrations, I allowed him to protect and serve me.
B. I asked the officer for help when I asked him what he thought I ought to do in regards to the situation at hand.

The Magic Of Boyhood

Winston and his friend R.J. bang a stormy song on drums and xylophone in the living room. Looking out of the window, Winston notices clouds in the sky. Excited, they play louder and faster. It has reached a deafening cacophony. Suddenly a crescendo.

They jump up to run outside. Sitting on the lawn, they marvel at the dark clouds in the sky. Amazed at their powers. Positive that they have called the rain clouds to water the garden.

A victory scooter ride down the driveway. The clouds pass. Something new catches their attention. No rain for the garden. Who cares.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

first lesson


water conducts electricity.
amplified current. i am

the science of love.
135 beats per minute

my healthy heart
faster than songs

in clubs preceding
my conception.

this turgid roiling
amniotic sac

flung wide. open
the hope safe. will i


Blogging For Justice

Pregnant Woman Tasered:

Another Pregnant Woman Tasered

Blind Woman Tasered

and on and on...see preceding post for links to others on this day of blogging for justice sponsored by the AfroSpear.

Wish I Had More Time

This is my 300th post. Today many of my peers on the AfroSpear are Blogging For Justice. In many ways, this is my blog for justice. However, time is limited. I have a son to raise and educate. It leaves little time for the things I love to blog, stay on top of every and each issue and contribute ideas.

Most of you who have been following along know
that the origin of the word sacrifice is to make sacred.
What is so holy about a child that compels
a parent to make their lives sacred?

Legs and arms measured against your own body. The so soft
skull growing hard and closed in your cradling arms.

Remember the foot smaller than the palm of your hand;
a whole body stretched along your arm; the lost teeth hidden

in the jewellery box; hair in an envelope; looking up suddenly
when bent knees used to be the only way to have eye to eye

communication. Simple words.
please, thanks, love, Mom.

that singular cellular connection
like church bells at midnight.

In return, there is no “down time,” no break, not even a proper weekend. Sacrifice and reward ~ sometimes ~ like last Saturday ....I muttered “fucker” under my breath
at another driver. My son didn’t hear me clearly. I wouldn’t repeat myself. We’ve now added the expletive “muck bucket” to our list.

(For more pre-school appropriate expletives see here.)

Another blogger, Jose recently asked what I thought of Obama’s views on education. I am very sorry to say, I really haven’t time to notice (or care that much.) I know it is selfish. But, a long time ago I gave up the notion that any system - private or public- was going to educate my child. After I sent the first born to school, it was made abundantly clear that everything she ever really learned, she learned at home.

She’s a bright spark of life - that one - when she chooses to shine. And when she's wallowing in darkness and lost direction, I trust her to be having a Robert Frost moment.

When Number 2 came along, my husband and I vowed, “no compromises this time.” So, we make sacrifices by living simply. So, we can home educate.

The only time I’m going to really stand up and take notice of a political figure’s view on education is when they are threatening my right to educate my child as I see fit. If you’ve been following along, the state isn’t so happy about home educators these days.

It seems they wait for some lunatic to come along so they can gather the forces behind them to jump down our majority peaceful throats and regulate us. As in what happened in D.C. recently. Or California.

People are under the misconception that many homeschoolers are lunatic fringe Christians or elite, wealthy White people. But, more and more average people are choosing to home educate their children. They make tremendous personal and professional sacrifices to do so. (This rather poorly written article shows a growing movement of “alternative” families also making this choice.) Currently, 25% of the home schooling community is non-white. Many of us have simply given up on the system.

I wish Obama’s educational policies were important to me. But, by the time my child would benefit from any changes made, he’d already be in college. Sometimes, I do worry about my “selfishness.” But, when I read about Kindergarten children in handcuffs for
temper tantrums. When I notice the trend towards using police officers in schools. When I witness the criminalisation of childhood
- it becomes impossible for me to submit. It is these exact behaviours which train children to submit to unfair authority. It is these exact problems which make teens resist authority irrationally and therefore result in countless unnecessary deaths.

Obama will fix none of these things immediately.

For me, my son’s education is directly related to his ability to survive adulthood. Let me qualify that ~ his ability to survive adulthood without being tasered ; brutalized by police, co-opted into the miltary complex or rail-roaded to jail by an unfair justice system.

Whilst I can control none of the above, I can wish and work for all of these things combined with the ability to think rationally, critically, innovatively and compassionately.

Today, on this day of blogging for justice, I’d like to remind people to love their children; prepare them for reality and honour the largeness within them that allows them to sacrifice of their well-being. Take the time ~ it’s all you have.

For better information about tasering and this day of blogging for justice, please visit here:

What Tami Said - A day of blogging for justice

InkogNegro - Day of Blogging for Justice - Don't Tase the Bros to death

African American Opinion - A Day of Blogging for Justice ...

African American Political Opinion -
"A Day of Blogging for Justice ...

African American Political Pundit -
A Day of Blogging for Justice - Blogging Against Extra-Judicial Electrocution via Tasers

All About Race - A Day of Blogging for Justice

Black -Blog On Wednesday Against Abusive Taser Use

Electronic Village -Electronic Village: End Police Pre-Trial, Extra Judicial

Electrocuted While black - Electrocuted While Black: "A Day of Blogging for Justice

Jack and Jill Politics - Extra-Judicial Electrocution - Jack & Jill Politics

Police Brutality Blog - "A Day of Blogging for Justice

Regina's Family Seasons -
"A Day Of Blogging For Justice" - Tasers.

Tasered While Black - Tasered While Black: A Day of Blogging For Justice

Ultra Violet Underground - Day Of Blogging Opposing Pre-Trial Electrocution aka Tasering

The Black Snob - A Fight Against Taser Abuse and Other News

The Super Spade - A Day of Blogging for Justice - Against - Extra - Judicial Electrocution

Now back to monitoring a playdate....

Monday, July 28, 2008


Recently, I was thinking about the whole “book thing.” You know the one where the writer finally gets their first book. Not a CD, not a performance of their script, not a film or few pieces in a literary journal. The capital letter BOOK.

The past few weeks have found me distracted., I got lost in the whole “just put the damn poems together” exercise. I went back to the beginning of my blog. I noticed how impersonal this blog has gotten. How much of it has become clippings from the news.

And I thought. Where is my voice? (Thanks Jose.)

What I originally liked about blogging was the sense of building a life quilt. I liked the fact that my raw, barely edited first drafts of poems had a public place to hide in plain sight. I love it even more when the raw, baby poems grew up, left the house and found a place to be in the world. (This usually happened because some kind person commented on them, which made me invest in them.) I liked the documenting "now."

It also made me realize again how true that old saying from the feminist movement is. The personal is political.

So, as I approach my 300th blog entry, I’m hoping to return to my voice again.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with this infant poem below.

Self | Portrait With Child

Age 44 and 21

when the painted ladies hatched,
they adorned the habitat's thin white mesh
with wet red ovals of meconium; drank

our organic garden flowers and fair trade
sugar water. they flapped dry;
tasted our salty hands with their feet

then flew away.

growth stains.

even an amoebae strains
to split the first time. spasms.
shudders. wastes no thought,

simply surrenders to being
torn in half. bodies jerky as gunshots.
an ephermal umbilical cord

tenderly pulls me inside out.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Is Nothing Private Or Sacred Anymore?

Some knuckle-head orthodox seminary student took it into his head to fish Obama's prayer out of the Western Wall and deliver it to Maariv, a newspaper. The newspaper did its best to add tomfoolery to knuckheadedness and published it! I don't even have the words to express how heinous and sacrilgious this is.

My higher self wanted to skip the section of the article which contained the prayer. But, the worst part of me figured it had already been read by millions of people. So, I did.

Obama's prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Nothing was said about the student recieving any consequences for his horrific behavior. So, I think I'll just pray for this misguided soul. If he isn't kicked out of the seminary, I'll hope he'll learn to serve his future congregation better. I hope one day he finds himself closer to God.

According to Time magazine:
The newspaper's decision to publish Obama's private words was "an outrage", said Rabbbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, supervisor of the Western Wall. "It damages the personal, deep part of every one of us that we keep to ourselves," the rabbi told Army Radio. "The note placed between the stones of the Western Wall are between a person and his maker. It is forbidden to read them or make use of them."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Amiri Baraka Speaks Out About Obama

Amiri Baraka - also known as a founding father of the Black Arts Movement - had the following to say about Obama's campaign. As a young person who has benefited from his time, energy and gentle support. I pass along his words as he requested.

The Parade of Anti-Obama Rascals
- Amiri Baraka

We certainly know the animals of the right, the US Reich, the Foxes and Klan in Civilian clothes, e.g., O'Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh &c and certainly a coon or two Tavis & Andy, some people even came up with the slogan Strangle Rangel. Happily w/the departure of Bonnie & Clyde more of these Negro retainers will replace their " HillJig" buttons with the shit eating grin of exposed Toms as they try to ease painlessly into at least the margin of the masses who support Obama .

But I'm talking about another substantial pimple of soi disant, dare I say, intellectuals & self advertised radicals who are quite audible & wordy in opposition to Obama. You might say, 'but how is that, since now there is only the prisoner of war, McCain , whose proves every time he opens his mouth that he is still a prisoner of the Viet Nam war' that Obama faces. McCain's major campaign plank is that Americans need to keep dying in Iraq and our tax monies need to keep being fed to Halliburton and the other oilies and cronies. McCain also holds that we continue the Bush type savaging of the US constitution by denying habeas corpus and the legal rights of prisoners in Guantanamo. Keep it open as a Bush-Cheney concentration camp. McCain also wants to maintain the widespread hatred of the US by the world, as well as making Bush' giveaway Tax cuts for the super rich permanent.

Here's a charming character who on returning from Viet nam soon dumped his lst wife who had been severely crippled in an automobile accident, to run off with, among others, a beer brewery heiress who cd support his political barn storming. Here's a man, who for all the media clap about him being "an independent" is the spiritual follower of the man whose seat he sits in as Senator from Arizona, Barry Goldwater.

I mention all this because it is criminal for these people claiming to be radical or intellectual to oppose or refuse to support Obama. I hope we don't have to hear about "the lesser of two evils" from people whose foolish mirror worship wd have us elect the worst of two evils.

For those who claim radical by supporting McKinney or, brain forbid, the Nadir of fake liberalism, we shd have little sympathy. As much as I have admired Cynthia McKinney, to pose her candidacy as an alternative to Obama is at best empty idealism, at worst nearly as dangerous as when the Nader used the same windy egotism to help elect Bush.

The people who are supporting McKinney must know that that is an empty gesture. But too often such people are so pocked with self congratulatory idealism, that they care little or understand little about politics (i.e. the gaining maintaining and use of power) but want only to pronounce , to themselves mostly, how progressive or radical or even revolutionary they are.

Faced with the obvious that McKinney cannot actually do anything by running but put out lines a solid left bloc shd put out anyway, their pre-joinder is that Obama will be running as a candidate of an imperialist party, or Imperialism will not let Obama do anything different or progressive…that he will do the same things any democrat would do and that the Democrats are using Obama to draw young people to the Democratic party. Also that there is a sector of the bourgeoisie supports Obama to put a new face on the US as alternative to the Devil face Bush has projected as the American image.

Some of these things I agree with, but before qualifying that let me say that no amount of solipsistic fist pounding about "radical principles" will change this society as much as the election of Barack Obama will as president of the US. Not to understand this is to have few clues about the history of this country, its people, or the history of the Black struggle in the US. It is also to be completely at odds with the masses of the Afro-American people, let us say with the masses of black and colored people internationally. How people who claim to lead the people but who time after time tail them so badly must be understood. It is because they confuse elitism with class consciousness.

And at this point, the US body politic has been taken too far in this present election campaign to easily dissolve this heavy challenge to its historic race & class exclusivity. The positive aspect of Hillary Clinton's candidacy and commitment to work in the Obama campaign has certainly shredded some of the gender exclusivity as well, so that there is in reality a prospect that some substantive change can be made. Obama is the democratic nominee. Only repeats of the outright election theft of Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 can put McCain in the white house. In 2 weeks, since the Democratic Party primaries ended, McCain's poll numbers have dropped from a dead heat w/ Obama to trailing by 18 points.

It is up to revolutionaries and progressives and radicals of all stripes to make it difficult for another larceny in November. We should agitate for serious disruption across this country and internationally if such a criminal attempt to steal the US presidency is mounted.

For the so called left and would be radicals (and some grinning idiots who say they don't even care about politics) the McKinney gambit is to label oneself "Quixote of the loyal opposition" to pipsqueak a hiss of disproval at the rulers while being an enabler of the same. Neither McCain nor McKinney will help us. Only Obama offers some actual help.

Even the dumbest things Obama has said re: Cuba and the soft shoe for Israel must be seen as the cost of realpolitik, that is he is not running for president of the NAACP and not to understand that those are the stances that must be taken in the present political context, even though we hold out to support what he said about initiating talks with the Cubans, the Palestinians . After years of Washington stupidity and slavish support for the Miami Gusanos and Israeli imperialism, there is in Obama's raising of talks with the US Bourgeois enemies something that must be understood as the potential path for new initiative. It is the duty of a left progressive radical bloc to be loud and regular in our demands for the changes Obama has alluded to in his campaign. We must take up these issues and push collectively, as a Bloc, or he will be pushed inexorably to the right.

Some people were grousing about the father's day address and the stance he took lecturing Black men to actually become fathers not just disappearing sexual partners. But can anyone who actually lives in the hood, and has raised children there really claim that what Obama said is somehow an "insult to half a race". We need to take up that idea of making Black men stand up and embrace fatherhood (a lifetime gig) as men and quit winking at the vanished baby makers that litter our community with fatherless children. This is where a great deal of the raw material comes from for the gangs that imperil our communities.

As I answered one irate e-mailer who was pissed off at Obama for leveling that challenge, a Negro man killed my only sister, a Negro man killed my youngest daughter. I can't give no mealy mouth slack about that, we need to Stand Up!

Obama has addressed the Israeli lobby and the Gusano (anti Cuba) lobby. But where is the Black left and general progressive, radical and revolutionary lobby? That is the real job we need to address. We must bring something to the table. It is time for the left to really make some kind of Left Bloc to support Obama. I was at the Black Left meeting in North Carolina and had to argue with a group of folks who want to be revolutionary as heck with a Reconstruction Party supporting Cynthia McKinney. Though there was some good discussion, nothing concrete has been offered especially around the Obama campaign.

There were even a few badly disguised nationalists, posing as part of the left who think such posturing somehow more revolutionary than getting Obama into the oval office and dealing with getting him there and the rocking and rolling that will go on in this country whether he makes it or not. We ought to be putting together a left bloc document that can be circulated as soon and as widely as possible and in Denver and depending on the circumstances, beyond. Using this as a means of drawing the excited masses to the left.

We always knew that the Obama campaign had the potential to do this. And the closer we get to the convention and then the election even more excitement will be generated. We shd not let our role be to stand on the sidelines and mumble how hip we are, we can't be so hip we let this cross roads of US history pass us by and possibly even let the lobotomized Robocop of right wing Republicanism serve us up more Bush' it.

I am sending this document right after I finish writing it to the Black Radical Congress who is meeting in St. Louis this weekend. I would hope it could be circulated.

Amiri Baraka 6/21/08

Monday, July 07, 2008

Compelling Reasons To Vote Republican

The video "I'm Voting Republican" has been floating around for awhile. But, it must be seen. So, if this hasn't already crossed your inbox, enjoy!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Great Ideas - Free To Make, Hard To Manifest

Some ideas - if realised - may make a stunning contribution towards social justice. Others may simply be a way to create some financial independence. Regardless of the long term outcome, there are innovative ways to make things happen for yourself.

I’m one of those people who often sits around pondering the next multimillion dollar business. Sometimes I see variations on my ideas brought to life by some other industrious person. And I’m glad for them.

I don’t necessarily crave the stress and time consuming obsessive commitment that it takes to sustain your own business. Done that a few times, enjoyed it. Now, I’m all about chilling with my family.

But, I’m always fascinated by philanthropy and/or anything that has to do with using OPM* to get things moving and shaking. To that end, I thought ‘d take a moment to share some interesting sites for my more industrious and clever readers. And some interesting sites which are using OPM to make a difference in the world.

Want to start a business? Want to pilot a program? Save the world and make money? Try Ideablob. This site allows anyone to submit an idea. The person with the most votes towards their idea wins $10,000. Yes, you heard that right, $10,000.


Want to make a film? Want to get your pet an expensive surgery? Need money to get married? Losing your home? Try Fundable. The idea is that you set a goal for how much money you need. A deadline is given. People make donations. If you don’t reach your goal, nobody looses any money. You can always try again another time.

Want to be the O in OPM? Feeling altruistic? Want to economically empower someone in a developing nation? Kiva lets you lend someone $25 and actually make a difference. Just log on, read about different entrepreneurs and lend them money. Most likely, they’ll pay you back. I’m amazed by the numbers of men and women in Africa who are participating in this program.

I’m sharing these sites because I’ve been clicking around some of these sites. It is fascinating what people are willing to ask for. I see a lot of socially conscious ideas on Ideablob. I see a lot of pet surgeries and whining on Fundable. But, I’m finding it difficult to actually cough up some cash - or in the case of Ideablob - even offer a free vote.

What strikes me the hardest is a lack of participation by Persons Of Colour, specifically blacks and Black women. The only site which continues to uplift me is Kiva. Even in this case, the lender profiles I always see tend to be People Of European Descent. C’mon guys! Let’s begin using these resources.

*Other People’s Money

Friday, July 04, 2008

shock and awe

"The US has been in Iraq for a while now and every time I see a clip on tv about an American soldier or Iraqi people dying I do not react and it does not disturb me in the least. And I fear that this is the usual reaction of most people to reports about Zimbabwe and the people dying there."
- Lister Chapeta
in an email about her homeland, Zimbabwe
to former teacher and Cave Canem poet, Monique Adelle Callahan


day ~ a movie;
a place used
by candidates
to underline
their message;
the beer;
& bbq. the children


rockets; laughing
dance sparklers;
throw snaps;
(gunshot sounds flung from the tips of their fingers)
scorch pavement black
thrilled to be outside
after street lamps

turn on.


* about Zimbabwe in the Herald Tribune, US Pushes For UN Sanctions On Zimbabwe.

* the flickr page which inspired the poem which was sent in the email. Warning: not for the faint of heart or the easily ill. But - it's what the news doesn't want us to see. Zimbabwe Photostream and the Children Photostream