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Cynique

2014

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Hello 2014.  Glad to meet you.  I knew you were a possibility but I was never sure you'd be a reality for me.  Sooo, here I am, out here in the frigid heartland, snowed in and holed up in my woman cave, emerging briefly from  the malaise of my cabin fever to marvel at the news that records may be broken when it comes to the winter weather besieging the Chicagoland area.  Baby, it's cold outside, and somebody got the memo to let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

 

What to do, what to say??  My writer's block is descending into a deep freeze. 

 

Let's see; I ended up being locked out in the wee small hours of January 1, 2014.   Having attended a small gathering at one of my daughter's houses, after drinking and eating and laughing and talking, once the clock struck midnight and mushy kisses exchanged, one by one the attendees gradually began to take their leave, glad we managed to survive the barrage of gun fire that exploded throughout the neighborhood. 

 

Everyone was going their different ways and my son, who I came with, entrusted me into the care of my granddaugher, who was to take me back to where I live with my other daughter.  To make a long story short, when we got there, the house was locked and nobody was there to let me in. Phone calls only succeeded in pointing fingers at everyone who should've known better than to leave me stranded without a key. 

 

Whatever.  I ended up spending the night with my grandaughter and her boyfriend at their place.  I slept on the couch, keeping a wary eye on their adored pit terrier who they swear is the most gentle creature in the world and who seemed to be mistaking me for his nana, too, nuzzling and snuggling up to me. 

 

Anyway, when I woke up a few hours later from a restless sleep, since nobody else was aroused from their alcohol stupors, I proceeded to browse around, gravitating naturally to the book case, and what immediately caught my eye was what seemed to be laying there on a ledge waiting for me:  a manual entitled "Christianity for Dummies".  Dummy that I am, it seemed like a good idea to pick up this book and flip through it, which I did. Captivated  by its chapter headings, I sat down and began to read. 

 

I was especially inspired to do this because one of my New Year's resolutions was to stop harassing people about their steadfast devotion to Jesus and his clone, Obama.  I read just enough to know that I would take this book home and complete it in the leisure and quiet of my solitude.  One should never stop learning and I need to be better enlightened about what it is that I am scoffing at. I doubt that I will become born-again, but I feel that mellowing out is an appropriate stance to take at this juncture in my life.

 

I've refrained from classifying myself as an atheist because I'm still searching but I found this post on FaceBook an interesting one.

 

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These are also some interesting quotes that I have come across recently and found thought provoking.

 

"Religion is belief in someone else's experience.  Spirituality is having your own experience." 

Deepak Chopra 

 

"My brain is only a receiver. In the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secret of this core, but I know it is there". Nikola Testla

 

"The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood were made in the interiors of collapsing stars...Because the cosmos is also within us...we're made of star stuff..." Carl Sagan

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Just curious, Troy.  Is there a reason you have changed your profile picture to an ankh symbol?

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Hi Cynique, yes there is a reason.  Here is the long winded version :-)

 

As you know I started working on AALBC.com back in October of 1997 it was not exactly the high point of African American Literature, there simply were not a lot of books written by or featuring Black characters and stories.  I could easily keep up with all the Black books that were published back then.

 

A few years later, there was a surge in the number of Black books being published.  This was driven by the success of self published authors like E. Lynn Harris and Terry McMillian. Advances in technology was like pouring gasoline on a fire.  The growth in the number of Black books literally exploded.

 

For a time Black writers truly benefited.  Today most of that benefit, and I mean financial benefit, accrues to a handful of large corporations.  Black writers are, in my opinion, worse off collectively than they were in 1997.  This is not hyperbole.  Since writers are worse off readers are worse off as well.

 

I have faith (hence the new profile photo), that this will change.  But we have so far to go.

 

First we have to really understand that no corporation has our best interest at heart--especially this ones profiting the most.  The only way we will turn this around is to do what E. Lynn and Terry did back in the 1990's and that is do it ourselves.  But McMillan and Harris had it easier in the 1990's, than we will have it moving forward, they did not have to compete against social media (the opiate of the masses) to garner readers.

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There is absolutely nothing we can do on some social media platform that will benefit us collectively.  Until people recognize this, and more importantly care, things will only get worse for Black writers, readers and Black culture.

 

Reversing the trend will take effort, sacrifice, money and organization. 

 

This holiday season, I was looking at Maulana Karenga's Seven Principles of Kwanzaa and realized, for the first time, what they meant for Black people.  I just thought of Kwanzaa as some replacement for Christmas, made up in the 1960's, by some uber-afro-centric dude.

 

I was not until I got off the corporate plantation (working in corporate America) and begin working as an entrepreneur in the Black community that I realized that much of what ails could be quickly remedied by adhering to the principles of Kwanzaa. 

 

I changed my profile photo to the symbol for the 7th day of Kwanzaa Imani (Faith).  I figured it would give me an opportunity to talk about these principals to anyone who asked what it meant.

 

I saw this video for the first time the past weekend.  Here H. Rap Brown (Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin) talks to Gil Nobel about way it will take to organize Black people.  Interview is about 1/2 a century old, but could be given today and have even more relevance. Brown headed SNCC after Stokley Carmichael.

 

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Is Rap still alive?  The last I heard he was in jail,  serving time for murder. He was always uber radical and down through the years he changed his name yet again and became increasingly militant and erratic, undoubtedly frustrated with the lack of true racial progress.

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Yes he is still alive.  It looks like he was sent to that Supermax prison in Colorado.  He was given life, and then some, for the murder of a police officer that some how resulted when the officers were attempting to serve a warrant for a traffic violation.  Being locked up in a super maximum security prison, for life, is torture.  I have to believe a death sentence is preferable...

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