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Showing posts from December, 2013

My Only Resolution for 2014: To Use What I Have

As we approach the beginning of a new year, the default mode for most of us, myself included, is to draw up plans for the coming year.  Many of us have fallen away from those plans in the past, myself included.  This year, I've decided to keep it simple, making one resolution and only one for 2014:  To use what I have.

The idea came to me when I thought about how I had organized my pantry and, to my detriment, had to throw out a lot of food that had expired.  I wasted a lot of food out of sheer disorganization.  I could have fed myself, BMNB, and a whole host of others if I had donated the food before it expired.  I decided going forward to use what I have -- to look in my pantry before making grocery lists or find recipes using what I already have.

The idea of using what you have applies to more than food in your pantry.  Many times I think that if I buy this or that new gadget (Zumba DVD) or pay money for something I already have (a gym membership near my new job despite the fac…

A Double Standard in Judging Bigotry (Phil Robertson versus Paula Deen)

I noticed that Phil Robertson has been allowed to return to "Duck Dynasty."  Well and good. Actually, I don't know how you allow someone to return to a show that probably would not exist without him, but hey, what do I know.

But isn't this a double standard in judging bigotry?

I noticed last week in Wal-Mart that none of the "Duck Dynasty" licensed goods -- t-shirts, blankets, etc. -- had been removed from the shelves.  Yet, when Paula Deen was vilified for a racial slur she uttered decades ago, she not only lost her show, but her licensed goods were yanked from Wal-Mart's shelves tout suite.

So, Phil Robertson's comments that were offensive to two groups -- the LGBT community and the African-American community -- were less offensive than the one racial slur Paula Deen uttered in the '60's that was offensive to only one group?

Am I missing something here?

I guess calling ducks is more remunerative to corporate America than cooking them.

In Defense of Phil Robertson (The Right Thing To Do)

I haven't been following the dust-up about Phil Robertson's quotes in GQ magazine as closely as some, and I don't necessarily share the same feelings about them as does my sister, The Writing Diva.  I think issues of race and sexual orientation in the South are more complex than those of us raised outside the South understand.  When a white Southerner expresses a point of view about sexual orientation or race that isn't in line with moderate America's expectations, we're quick to dismiss that person as an ignorant, backwoods hick.

It's more complicated than that. 

Maybe it's because of Nelson Mandela's recent passing that I'm stepping back and taking the longer view on what Phil Robertson said in light of his life experience and mine.  Here's my life experience.

I lived in Mississippi for a year.  What I learned living there is that even if Southern or rural Southern whites believe that the Bible forbids what you're doing or how you'…

Home Ownership Is Not "Acting White"

This blog entry is dedicated to Bob "Treebob" Williams, who gave Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB) the gentle nudge to buy his first home.  Rest in peace, Bob.

Sadly, there are many characteristics that my people write off as "acting white":  Being intelligent, speaking English well, doing well in school, having good credit.  But there's one that strikes fear in my heart for the next generation:  Home ownership.

The Housing Bubble and the Great Recession resulted in lots of African-Americans losing their homes.  Many of us have written off home ownership, thinking of the whole real estate market as being shady (and there's something to that; more on that later) and of home ownership as being beyond our reach and for white folks.

The reason this scares me is that the gains we as African-Americans made in home ownership in the late '90's and early 2000's won't be regained if we as a people simply write off home ownership.  Why does it matter?  Bec…

If Mandela was a Communist and a Terrorist, What Were the Afrikaners?

I had been reading all the online tributes to Nelson Mandela, learning things about him that I didn't know (his favorite dish was tripe, which the author incorrectly identified as animal intestines -- tripe is stomach), when I made the mistake of reading the comments below one article.  One commenter objected to the tributes for Mandela, calling Mandela a communist and a terrorist.

Really?  And what were the Afrikaners?

I usually don't respond to stupidity because the response elevates the stupidity.  But in this case, I won't let the ignorant corrupt history, anonymously online, no less. Never mind the fact that such comments violate the maxim that you should not speak ill of the dead.

We've seen this all before.  When a great political figure, usually a person of color, is known for having stood up to make humankind accountable to the principles of freedom and equality, they are politically slurred in death without any reference to the context in which they acted.  T…

Thank You to the Family of Nelson Mandela

There's not much I can say about the passing of Nelson Mandela that hasn't already been said.  I don't have the encyclopedic knowledge about him that historians and Wikipedia have.  I participated in anti-apartheid sit-ins once or twice, not with the same commitment to the cause as some of my college and law school classmates.  Much of what I know about him comes from accounts about him, not from what I observed first hand.

But there is something I can say that may not be said enough during this time of grief and mourning:  Thank you to the family of Nelson Mandela.

We often forget that when someone accepts the mantle of leadership, they serve their cause, their country, or both, usually at the expense of their family.

Nelson Mandela's leadership of the ANC, his imprisonment, and his leadership of his country meant that his family was deprived of time that might otherwise have been spent with him. I doubt he would have had it any other way.  His sacrifice was his famil…

For Those of You Who Didn't Pass the CA Bar Exam the First Time (I Am One of You)

For those of you who didn't pass the California bar exam on your first try, I want to encourage you.  I am one of you.

I remember getting the news that I didn't pass.  I remember doubling over in pain, laying on the floor of my Oakland apartment nearly unconscious, hobbled by an infection that ravaged my kidneys, bladder and entire urinary tract.

I remember the guy I was supposedly dating at the time calling to "console" me ("Sorry you didn't pass . . . ") and hanging up despite the fact that he knew I was ill.

I remember one of my closest friends coming to the rescue, literally picking me off the floor and carrying me to the hospital, where I was told that if I had waited any longer I would have had to have been hospitalized.

I remember having to tell my family over Thanksgiving dinner that I had failed.  My siblings tried to cheer me up and my dad reminded me, "You're the only one in this neighborhood qualified to even take the bar exam."…