Culture, Life, New York City, Personal Liberation, Politics/World Issues, Technology

Topfreedom vs. Real Freedom

I woke up this morning with an intense need to discover what it truly means to experience real freedom. It’s the number one right out of all the basic human needs that people have fought and died for, because if you start with that all other needs will fall into place. I wonder why that is?  Right now in my heart body and soul I know exactly why the phrase “Give me liberty or give me death” became so popular, not only was it ironic that a president who would later be involved in the slave trade could say such a thing (and none of the textbooks throughout my day pointed out the irony) but even right now I am feeling restricted on many levels. The more research I do, I find that I have had liberties taken away on such deep and broad levels that I don’t even realize just how easily the neck of freedom can be crushed by the boot of oppression. To be honest, I don’t want to think about it.  The ultimate expression of being human is to express the essence of God in you. To me this is peace, love, and neutrality. Another important concept I associate with my idea of God is omnipotence. God is everywhere at all times, free, like the air, and to me that is a satisfying illustration of freedom. It gives me a sense of understanding about what it truly means to be free. There is the freedom to think for one’s self without being bombarded with media propaganda, the freedom to move about without being confined, the freedom to go anywhere in the world without having to show a document that says that you “belong” only to this or that country. I don’t know if we will ever live on that type of planet Earth, it seems we’ve g one too far away from having personal and collective liberty, and I don’t know what we will have to do to get it back.

For example, as a country, we have agreed to give up certain freedoms because we have been told by the government that it will make us safer. Freedom of privacy is one of the major ones that has been systematically chipped away. Now we have to identify ourselves so that our moves can be tracked, and more technology  is being introduced to the masses over time to streamline that process so that it’s even more efficient at predicting your next move by configuring all of your past ones. It’s a fear mongering technique to tell us that “there’s someone out to get us, so we need your cooperation on identifying every living soul on the planet” and it works, and it has caused us even to support killing others who were just minding their own business because we need to eradicate people who are “jealous of our lifestyle.” Do you see how our need for liberty can be politicized so that people can have their way with us as “citizens?”

If I had to choose a place that comes to mind when I think of freedom it would be California-The Sunshine State. The desert in Arizona might work for me as well. I feel like my time in The Big Apple is winding down. I never cared to much for apples anyway, but I have ALWAYS loved sunshine.

Feeling like I need a life plan, a way out of this madness of putting myself in positions where I must answer to someone, I stumbled upon a self determination assessment by the UIC NRTC Self-Determination Series EXPRESS YOURSELF! ASSESSING SELF-DETERMINATION IN YOUR LIFE, Prepared by Judith A. Cook, PhD, Carol Petersen, MA, and Jessica A. Jonikas, MA. It’s really intended for people with mental illnesses, but I say it’s arguable as to whether we aren’t mentally handicapped ourselves as a country, as a world, considering the ways we have been tricked into believing we are in a free country, a free world. Below is a list of statements that I pondered and realized that so many of them do not apply to me (i.e. “My basic human rights are respected” See my post on the Right to Bare Breasts), and that is simply unacceptable as a woman who is committed to exploring ways of living out my personal liberation (simply put: my dreams.)

How many of you can say yes to ALL of these statements? They only scratch the surface of what it really means to be free on every level of your being; they touch on economic freedom mostly, although some statements explore the freedom to choose who is around you. It’s kinda deep.  If you can honestly say yes to every statement, I will give you a virtual dollar. But the satisfaction in itself should be enough.

 

_____I decide whether to live alone or with someone else.

_____I control who can and can’t come into my home.

_____I can choose where I live.

_____I choose my own friends.

_____I decide whether or not to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

_____I have people in my life who respect my values and choices.

_____I decide how to be part of my community.

_____If I want to go somewhere, transportation isn’t a problem.

_____I’m able to stand up for myself to get what I need.

_____I can deal with abuse, whether it’s verbal, sexual or physical.

_____My basic human rights are respected.

_____I’m free to choose the kinds of goals I want to pursue.

_____I’m able to choose my medical doctor.

_____I freely choose what kinds of medical treatment I get.

_____I decide how involved I want to be in my medical treatment.

_____I have the money I need to live the kind of life I want.

_____I have the final say over how I spend my money.

_____I’m able to control my finances in a way that enhances my life.

_____I feel responsible for my financial future.

_____I decide whether or not to work.

_____I choose what kind of work I do.

_____I choose where I work.

_____I know how to deal with prejudice and discrimination.

_____I’m able to avoid people who show prejudice toward me.

_____I have people in my life who accept me for me.

 

So, according to this list tell me, are you really free?

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Culture, International Relations, Life, New York City, Politics/World Issues, Race Relations, Technology

Education Industry Creates Greater Inequalities…Here are 2 Solutions

It’s about time I addressed the problem of the education industry in this country. I’m sure you’ve never heard it described that way, education as an industry. I haven’t. I have heard that college is a business but I have never heard those two words put together. It’s about time it is addressed though. I can’t take it anymore.

The reality is that income is disproportionately distributed in this country. The better schools are often in the more affluent neighborhoods. So if you have a certain group of people getting the better schools, more scholarships, the degrees, and then you have these jobs that a person WITHOUT a particular degree could do, requiring college degrees…who will get the better jobs that pay more? And how DARE some of these jobs require degrees and pay you close to minimum wage? Isn’t this policy ensuring that people who have had to work their way up through the ranks of certain fields, gaining a lot of experience but never going back to school, isn’t this ensuring that they will be locked out of the better paying jobs, therefore ENSURING THAT INCOME WILL CONTINUE TO BE DISPROPORTIONATELY DISTRIBUTED?

First policy I want to bring up, if I had my way:

It is unlawful to require a degree for a job candidate who demonstrates experience in a field related to the job. I don’t know if this is worded right, but if two people who have the same amount of experience apply for a job and one has a degree in an unrelated field, I don’t think that a person who does not have the degree should be thrown out of the job pool just because they didn’t obtain a degree. Other factors like volunteer experience, life experience, and self-study should be taken into account.

My second gripe is: If I owe a school money, I can’t get my transcripts from that school unless I pay off my balance, so I can’t transfer to another school that has my choice of study, staff, location, or a more affordable tuition. If I can’t get a decent paying job because I didn’t finish my degree, then I won’t qualify for a personal loan because of lack of income. Student loans only go back so many years. Even education awards from programs like AmeriCorps won’t cover balances over a certain number of years.

The 2nd solution: I think it should be REQUIRED BY LAW for the school to RELEASE THE TRANSCRIPTS if a student expresses interest in attending another institution or for any reason, and the institution must work out a feasible payment plan based on various factors so that they can MOVE ON WITH THEIR LIFE. Why should I keep paying for a mistake I made when I was 16 or 17 years old? I made the decision to attend a $30,000 a year cockamamie school and my parents did all they could to pay it all. $1100/month for housing. I scoff at it now, it makes me sick, because at 16, I DIDN’T KNOW THE VALUE OF A DOLLAR.  (Blame my parents and I’ll curse you to to hell.) The point is, colleges constantly engage in false advertising like most business who inflate the quality and price tag of their services. Now I’m indebted to this institution and there is NO WAY that they will release my transcripts except by me paying out of pocket. It’s ridiculous and it needs to change now. It would work out in the institution’s best interest as well because they’d be getting paid rather than getting nothing and having a lot of bad energy directed at them in the form of resentment. I’m just sayin’.

See the conversation below to see how I responded to an actual prospective employer (names have been omitted)…

On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 6:13 AM, Helese wrote:

Hello,

My name is Helese, and I feel that I am a perfect candidate for your position. As a past and current resident of Brooklyn, I am deeply invested in the community. I have utilized the community resources here to create a show that educates and entertains called Helese TALKS! I have a strong relationship with YAA where I gained experience doing outreach, working with high school interns, and planning events and curriculum for children of various ages. I enjoy building relationships with parents and connecting young minds with big ideas to their world around them. Thank you for reviewing my resume.

My apologies; in my last email I failed to submit a salary requirement: from $24,000-$26,000/year.

Best Regards,

Helese S

On Aug 13, 2012 3:45 PM, he wrote:

Hello Helese,

Thank you for your application.  One of the job requirements is a bachelor’s degree and it is unclear to me based on your resume if you have on or not.  Could you clarify this please?

Thank you,

Program Coordinator
On Mon, Aug 13, 2012 at 4:02 PM, Helese wrote:

No, I do not, but my last job required one, they hired me despite not having one, and they kept me on for two years and counting. Also I just got hired by a child care facility where an associate’s degree is required, but honestly they pay close to minimum wage which is why I am still looking. I find having a degree has nothing to do with actual capabilities.

If you have any more questions please let me know.

Best,

Helese S

On Aug 13, 2012 5:09 PM, he wrote:

Thank for your response and your interest in the position.

Best,

Program Coordinator

This is how I want to respond:

Does that mean you will still consider me the position, or not? If not, then I would like to use this dialogue with you as inspiration for my next piece in the Black Star News and my blog, Helese TALKS! I want to address the degree requirements for certain jobs as a form of income discrimination. College is a business and not everyone can afford to go or complete their studies. Employers often have told me that having a degree can never trump experience. It is absolute nonsense to require a degree for the position you are trying to fill, when if you didn’t think I had the experience to do the job you would not have replied. Regardless if these rules are yours or are coming from someone higher up, it must be addressed. You want someone who will work with youth and encourage them to go to college. Why not give someone like me who couldn’t finish because of financial reasons a chance to give someone what I didn’t have? Ironically, I find the people who are awake enough to know that anything that college teaches in the classroom can be learned by self-study, are the ones who benefit from college the most because they are the most resourceful and most likely to use opportunities that come as a result of being a student who can gain college credit. I am one of those resourceful people. I am using even this conversation as a resource and I’m going to use it to put my voice out there via various channels and hopefully this type of thing will become illegal after a while. Do you want to put an average person in the midst of these geniuses who don’t even know their own worth? Someone who will accept no for an answer and lay down without a fight? That is not how change in this society is made! Or, do you want to have someone who defied all the odds and knows who she is regardless of a piece of paper, has the experience and passion to enlighten youth…will you pass a gem like me up because I didn’t have the finances to finish college? And still don’t. The time will come when I will get the degree, but now is not that time. I don’t know if you can afford to wait that long though. Of course, with all due respect, it’s your call.

Best,

Helese S

What do you all think? Is this a wise decision? I can’t be quiet any longer…

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Culture, Life, New York City, Politics/World Issues, Sex, Uncategorized

Support and Attacks on Topfreedom and the T.I.T.S. Movement

As it stands, T.I.T.S. is a movement of one, physically. Although, in spirit, and through the power of their complaints, people are supporting or attacking the Right to Bare Breasts. I was almost arrested today. I quoted laws to the offending officers but none of that worked. The cops rolled up behind me while I was chillin, minding my business on a bench on the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights, and told me that I could be arrested for endangering the welfare of a child because their parents were complaining about me being topless. They said they had about 10 or 20 people complain, and if they had waited, it could have been 50. I explained that children are not being harmed, and I am exercising my right. Besides, children breast feed up until 2 or 3 at times. They were angry and frustrated and said that I wasn’t using “common sense.” I guess today was a test, because this was my second day to do this on that location, and I wasn’t bothered before, but I quieted my solar plexus, my will, and I used my head and calculated what the physical, emotional, monetary, and long-term costs would be to be arrested at this time. Output=not worth it. Maybe another day, but I still refused to agree with their reasons as to why I should put my top back on. They asked for my ID, and I said “I’m complying by putting my clothes on, so I don’t understand why you would need that.” Today, I understood the power of threats and intimidation to get compliance. I had no fear, I just didn’t feel it would be worth it to go through the discomfort of being arrested. I suffered a migraine and emotional pain all night, thinking about the man who I would soon decide to let go, for my own good and his. I’m sure he won’t miss the long texts of me explaining how my needs aren’t being met, and I will enjoy the power of balance, discernment, and exercising my right to end the relationship. He actually told me the other day “You don’t make the rules here.” But what he failed to realize is….I DO, I WILL…and most importantly I AM THAT I AM. I created him, so I can create another reality. It really is my right. I choose to put my metaphorical top on and leave the park of that situation crying, just like I did today in real life, knowing in both situations that I avoided a totally unnecessary uncomfortable situation. Sometimes the growth from situations can come from making a choice NOT to go through something. There are many ways to learn.

Anywho, on a positive nod to the movement, please check out a very POWERFUL response from India Olowokande-Ame’ye:

 I am so excited to catch up on all this. Thank you Itheopiah Chiamaka you too are very powerful…I peeped yr goddess a long time ago ;). no I haven’t done much of anything on the internet. I had to take a break from photographing and filming and sit quietly, alone…for a few months. Gave myself full permission to do that. But I’m cumming out my yoni temple soon, soon. Also I’m finalizing my book, and things are happening offline. I’m abt to go get a glass of wine and check this out. Thank u, I love when black women bare our breasts and write about it. We are meant to be alive and loving outloud and all that juicy jazz. So just seeing yr picture magnetized mah lil smile, u have no idea! Xo…Wow, just watched your brilliance and I’m sooo moved by your candidness, commitment, and sincerity. What an honor and pleasure to read your words and watch the accompanying video in all its rawness. I tell ya, I appreciate your movement and courage to do what u are doing. Now u got me thinking abt the “laws” and knowing my rights and honoring my right to do so. I am out of doors, topless at minimum, at least once a day and I do believe that breasts are powerlines to the divine, and when I started taking time to allow them to feel the sun, wind, rain, clouds, grass, rocks, trees, wata, red clay ,u name it..that’s really when they began to come alive again, carrying tremendous life force energy. I don’t wear bras and stopped wearing them abt six or seven years ago and my breasts sit how they sit…plus I command them to do so u know. I tell my body how I want it to be. The mind has great command ova the anatomy and how smart the bra companies and BIG Pharma (because bras have been linked to breast cancer) are to make (some) women believe if we stop wearing bras our gorgeous breasts will sag, etc..as if 1. Its true 2. There is something “wrong” with breasts that fall….when breasts that fall are lovely and can contain just as much life as breasts that sit high. Also many women believe that their breasts will fall with age or childbirth….the body does whateva the owner thinks and feels it should do…that is the silent command we have ova ourselves. I love my breasts…omg …do I. Yes honeys I do…and my breasts know it too and that get all happy when I talk with them, rub them, kiss them, set them free, and tell them what to do. Girl I’m over the moon and off topic now, but I just love u Helese and I love what u are doing. I nearly in tears typing. Wheeee! Xo

I couldn’t have said it better. This woman is one of my role models. She so eloquently stated my reasons why I choose to bare my breasts and the healing therein. Even though I “stood down” today, movement won’t stop-today I chose to be water, not earth, and comply to fit into the container of this FUCKED UP SOCIETY….But the movement won’t end. Tied to my personal liberation, it has only just begun.

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Celebrities, Culture, Events, Life, Politics/World Issues

Oh, Whitney

A still from the "My Love is Your Love" video

Sorry I took so long to jump on the bandwagon and write about one of my childhood/teenage musical idols. I just needed time, guys. This one, like the death of Michael, really felt like a sort of personal loss, and I was pissed off at how these people are going to be remembered going out, like some druggie, as if the vulture-like industry didn’t have anything to do with their deaths.

Even now, as I look at Whitney Houston videos, I realize that my favorite songs were the ones that weren’t the ones that I feel everyone went crazy about, at least they weren’t the ones that necessarily made her anymore famous, like “My Love is Your Love” (if you listen to the words, you will understand the kind of love that I’m striving for in my life) and “Why Does It Hurt So Bad” (because damnit! It really fucking does.)

But… I also see ads for movies played before the video, just like any other YouTube clip, and I think about how sick it is that so many people will profit from the loss of this great human being. I believe she was great just because she was sincere, not because she could sing. She was “stank” as we call it in my social circle, and that’s a compliment: it’s an inner strength combined with a little soul, and a knowing that you won’t take shit off of anybody, at least not for long.

I even have had to stop several times while writing this and just sob, not just shed a few tears, but one of those heaving cries that comes from your gut. Whitney even said in her song “My Love is Your Love,” If I should die this very day, don’t cry/cause on Earth we wasn’t meant to stay. Wow, the implications of that lyric are more important now than ever. And it’s strange that, dealing with some things in my own life, everyday feels like a kind of Judgement Day for me. So I listen to that song over and over again just feeling like she’s talking to me.

A recurrent theme over the last few days for me has been “gifts,” probably because Whitney had such a great one and literally sacrificed her life to share it with the world. I thank her for that, because I just wanted to be able to sing a little bit, just an ounce of how she was able to, and I could tell it came so effortlessly to her. Anyone who sings, or admires a person because of their talent that they too possess can probably relate. We want to hone our skill to the point where we make it look easy. It was scary how good she was though. It gave me chills.

Really, I think she was simply a vessel for God to work through, and what’s better, she sang about Love. As Generation X and Y, through her music we learned about what Romantic Love felt like before we had experienced it, and we knew God had to be the most generous God, because look what gifted souls he had blessed us with?

I’m not here to idolize this woman, but how do you express such pain about the loss of someone whom you’ve never met? How do you do that without adding to the pressure that is part of what made them break? Is this just a trick of the media? Why does it hurt so bad?

I don’t have any answers. I just know that it does hurt. And years after we lost Michael, I STILL get pissed off at all the drama and controversy of how he died, I still have Michael music video marathons, and think about what could have been. But then, selfish as I can be, I’m also grateful that I even got to experience him through his music, and that gorgeous smile.

Whitney also had a breathtaking, perfect smile…

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Culture, International Relations, Life, Politics/World Issues, Race Relations

Dark Girls- A Film Review

As I sat in the legendary Apollo Theatre, which I had just performed at in September, I knew that I was experiencing an event that was truly epic. As the dark girls the moviebeginning credits of the premiering film began to roll, the song playing in the background made my heart smile because the singer spoke true words about black women: there aren’t many songs written about our beauty.

I wanted to hear something positive. I didn’t know what I was in for. I wanted something that would make me feel warm inside. I expected the unexpected from the movie Dark Girls. But then in one swoop I was disappointed. I heard the words “enslavement” and talk of trauma passed down to us through our cells, post traumatic stress disorder and such, and I took out my pen and made a note to myself, “Got-damnit!” When are we gonna stop talking about this same bull-”

…I guess I became like a lot of white people in that way, I was just sick of hearing Black people talk about the history and presence of racism and it’s very real affects on Black people’s lives in general, and Black women’s in particular, self image. I wanted to hear something I hadn’t heard. And I didn’t wanna hear about me being oppressed. I’m living my dream right now. I’m in my bubble. Ain’t nothin’ oppressing me.

I guess it’s because when I first became “conscious” as a Black woman, meaning I studied some of the history of my people, (some hidden, some public) I really came into my own. It started when my sister gave me her copy of The Auto Biography of Malcolm X. I indulged myself in so called self-righteousness. I read Roots, I hated white people for a while, and I was a Black supremacist for a while. I think that’s what can happen when a person is well read on a certain topic. They get “over-zealous.” Instead of letting the highs and lows of life (which is a really good teacher), sound wisdom passed down through generations, and a really good book that has been banned from the library (just to spice it up for good measure) teach them some universal truths, we tend to get one-sided with the information that we obtain. So at that point in my life I was pretty unbalanced.

When I really started to be real with myself, my life began to open up in new ways.

I felt a knot in my stomach, like I was leading a double life, when I said that white people were the devil. I knew it wasn’t true. I knew it couldn’t be that simple, because if it were there’d be no need for me to continue living, because they simply cannot be escaped. And neither can my skin. One time on Facebook I posted “sometimes I wish I could forget my skin.” Not because I felt less than beautiful. It was because identifying with it too much made me feel less than spiritual. And in a way, less than connected to other humans. Less alive.

Basically, I didn’t wanna be sad for the rest of my life because I have melanin. In fact, it’s a reason to praise God.

I still remember riding in my Mom’s red station wagon pretending my skin was lighter and that I had long brown curly hair, and that my sister was light skinned too. But by the time I was in 5th grade, my sister told me I needed to get more Black friends, “dress Black” and start reading about my culture. I still love her for that, because it was important for me to interact with other children who were experiencing some of the same things that I would. It was just good to have one more thing in common with them.

Honestly, I don’t live inside a white supremacist framework anymore. That framework can only exist in your experience if it exists in your mind. I never said I was color blind. It’s not that I don’t see the difference in race in the wider context, but when dealing with individuals, I must feel their vibe first. (I’m sooo New Age in that way.)

So, I actually thought I had this whole movie Dark Girls wrapped up. But about 20 minutes into the movie, I realized I was wrong. That’s when I put my pen down and stopped writing. I realized that on this road of colorism there were some twists and turns I hadn’t yet seen, and I wanted to take my shades off and really take it all in.

What I realized about colorism, is that when you look at it through the many lenses that the movie does, you see that the rabbit hole goes as deep as one can imagine. I felt literal visceral responses to what was being said, good and bad. It would have been ideal if I could have paused the movie and had discussion upon discussion about almost every scene. Some of it made me angry, but maybe not for the reasons that one may think. Others just made me, more importantly, want to ask more questions to everyone around me, including the people in the film. The filmmakers, the characters in the film, and the person sitting behind me. This film will make you want to TALK. I have to give it to Bill and Chann (the co-directors/producers of the film), they threw me for a loop. Talking heads and oft reused b-roll can be powerful if the words spoken are from the heart. The real stories and accounts from real women who had once lived their life in skin that made them feel less than enough took me for a ride. But who knew the journey would be so rich, nuanced, so bumpy, disgusting, sad, disheartening, riveting, exciting, and beautiful? It made me feel a little guilty for not going out of my way to support more media that focuses solely on this issue…but then, I had to not beat up on myself for being where I am in my life.

There was once a time where if it wasn’t Black media, I wasn’t buying it. And I criticized and nitpicked every mainstream piece of media I saw. I thought my world was going crazy, my friends were watching Friends DVD’s and not bothered by the fact that there was only one Black woman in the whole series, when the show is set in New York City, the melting pot of the world. But now I’m just into what makes me laugh. And now that I’ve truly accepted the fact that regardless of all the scientifically proven superiority of melanin versus lack of melanin, spiritually, we all have a chance to live our dreams. Dark Girls burst my bubble. But tonight, as I close my laptop, I will go back into it, my crazy world in my head, where everyone forgets their skin, and doesn’t see a Dark Girl, they just see me.

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Politics/World Issues, Race Relations

The $5 Million Dollar Dialogue: The UN’s Conversation about the Slavery Memorial

Lovin' this guy.

UN Article

I’m at the General Assembly for the Transatlantic Slave Trade Memorial. It’s held at the UN, where a lot of countries from around the world come and give their two cents (or $50,000) regarding a memorial that will be built to honor victims of slavery. And it is soooo boring. I’m not quite sure how I got on this list, but I’m happy to be here and I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth. I jotted down several notes in the margin of my little book,(In Their Shoes: Extraordinary Women Describe Their Amazing Careers, by Deborah Reber) since I brought no real paper.  I’ve decided to tell you 30 thoughts I had about this conversation, and about my first experience at the UN in general. So, here it goes, much ado about nothing:

  1. I’m disappointed in the UN. The canolis cost 4 bucks. The coffee shop doesn’t take credit cards and is overall inefficient. No one speaks English or even knows the prices of anything.
  2. Everyone in this assembly is way too serious. And I wish they would stop say the words “transatlanctic slave trade.” Haven’t they ever heard of the law of attraction?
  3. There is a man here (who I later found out was a rep for Tanzania) says that he is talking on behalf of the African people. But all he keeps talking about is oppression, struggle, and injustice. I’m sorry, but that is not my reality. So, speak for yourself.
  4. There is illuminati symbolism everywhere. (See this link to know more, but be careful, it will change the way you see everything, forever. http://vigilantcitizen.com/)
  5. It looks like a lot countries decided not to show up. Of course, Jamaica is here. The Jamaican woman from the General Consulate of Jamaica who signed me in here was rude and bossy. And she was the one who was late! The nerve.
  6. Nippon (Japan) is in the house! Haiti is here. Iraq. Israel. Maybe I can get a full list later. (Never happened but if I find it, I’ll let you know.)
  7. So, when you go to the General Assembly, you can get the speeches translated in real-time. For reasons I wish not to disclose, I am trying to brush up on my Spanish. I’m listening to the Jamaican rep’s speech in Spanish. It’s way more interesting this way. LOL, the translator got stuck. “Em…em…”
  8. I wonder how you get this job of translating UN speeches. My very conservative friend applied for a job here and hasn’t heard anything yet, and I actually know a very left-wing radical photographer who works here. How appropriate!
  9. This ish is DRY. They need a comedian to come in here and fuck it all up. (My slang for “make it fun.”) Chris Rock would be great for that. Hell, even Chris Tucker. I’ll even take Wayne Brady at this point. Did the translator just say something about Beyoncé? Ok, I think it’s time for me to turn the dial back to English now.
  10. Now they’re talking about money. $4.5 million dollars is how much more they’re trying to raise. Relatively speaking for memorials, that’s pretty low. (It cost over $1 Billion to build the 9/11 Memorial, but that only “affected” about 3,000 people. See how ridiculous it is to put a number on that type of thing? More on that later.) I still think that all that money could be used to actually help (read: feed and educate) people.
  11. The website for this project is www.slaverymemorial.org. How about changing the name to the Freedom Memorial! We should be thinking about Freedom!
  12. So they’re going to hire a professional fundraiser for the job, and they’re taking private and public donations. But I still say this, you don’t build a legacy of slavery, you build a legacy of freedom! They want to put this memorial in a prominent location, say, the visitors entrance of the UN, so that every time someone walks through the door, we can be reminded of this travesty. Is this really such a good idea considering how many people already hate each other for no reason?
  13. Suriname and Cuba is in the house. Ok, I can get with what he’s saying. He described the former slaves as having a “temper and rebel spirit” which is awesome. It’s not just exclusive to them though. I think I have that same fire in me. Guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree! (Ouch! Strange Fruit reference.  Others that would have worked: “the lynched man doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” “the pickaninny doesn’t run too far from the cotton field”…you got it.)
  14. Ok. I see the rep. for Guinea. I think he’s on his laptop tweeting this whole ordeal. Or is he on Facebook?
  15. Cuba’s speech was short and sweet, and full of flavor like a pressed pork sandwich. I would expect nothing less from the home place of good ol Fidel, and the political asylum of the Black Liberation Queen, Assata Shakur. Her autobiography is quite delicious. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assata_Shakur
  16. Old white man from Australia is speaking. Everybody is quiet. Every time a new country’s representative comes up to speak, they quote a number that they probably just Googled of how many people were affected by the slave trade. As if you can put a number on that! The funny thing is, I think each country said a different number, yet the monotony of the speakers themselves is killing me! Add me to the list.
  17. I don’t know, but I find the quote “remembering the dark part of our history” somewhat disturbing and offensive. Are dark people going anywhere? You don’t have to “remember” us, you have to face us, right now!
  18. National End to Racism Strategy=everyone one race? Something tells me they’re talking in code.
  19. Brazil rep is up. Oh Come on! I thought she was gonna be hot! She looks homelier than a worn out house coat. In fact, she IS a house coat! (Ok, low blow, I know, but it made me lol.)
  20. There are people walking up and down the aisle, passing out papers.
  21. I’m having a hard time staying awake.
  22. The rep for the US is a Black Man. Hey! I saw him in the cafe. A fellow journalist said “He should have stayed there.” He talked about reducing inequality. But this is the US, so we must be sure not to eliminate it completely. Wow! He didn’t mention Black History Month as African American History Month. Did I miss the memo that this was the politically correct title of the so very racist nod to our collective humanity’s history! (By the way, he did not seem prepared at all. He was stumbling over so many words I thought he was running for his life from the lynch mob. Or the NYPD.
  23. Side note:  ***Do you remember what happened with Sean Bell? The NYPD shot him 50 times. Now, you decide for  yourself was it a murder or an “accident?” You know my slant. But I respect your brain so I will provide the neutral Wiki article on Sean Bell http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Bell_shooting_incident (the watered down shit) and then the Revolutionary Communist’s Party’s take on it: http://rwor.org/a/071/nyc-police-shooting-en.html***
  24. Israel is up. Now this is gonna be real interesting. “Hope without memory is like memory without hope.” Really? What does that even mean? And wait…HE’S NOT PALESTINIAN.
  25. I’m so surprised he didn’t mention that thing. You know that thing that happened? You know, the Holocaust? So much for memory. It seems like anytime a Jewish person gets a chance they mention the Holocaust. Yet they always downplay the impact of slavery. Must be why they’re only contributing $20,000 to this very important memorial. (Other smaller countries, like Haiti, even contributed more.)
  26. Luxembourg rep is looking snazzy. Black slim fit jacket, crisp white shirt, red tie. Very dapper. I love those European cut suits. Can’t wait to start traveling again. Jet Blue needs to hurry up and respond to my application!
  27. I just find it so funny that they keep saying “dark chapter of our history.” I mean who wrote these people’s speeches. Is this all that they could come up with?
  28. Now India’s rep is interesting. He looks like a plumper version of Osama Bin Laden (R.I.P.) He sounds like the guy who does customer service for HSBC. Also the guys at Milon. (Great Bangladeshi food!)
  29. After the speeches were over, we had the option of staying. That was when most of the press took the opportunity to leave. I got a chance to talk to a fellow journalist about what we had heard that day. She says think of it like this: 4.5 million dollars isn’t a lot relatively. Visibility of this memorial+correlating educational programs=awareness. With the world we live in, a world of ideas, a world ruled by symbols and not rules or laws, we need that. She also told me about the racism prevalent in the UN building itself. No respect. When we sat down, we were approached by the white security guard and told that only press was allowed to sit in those seats. All of our group was Black. This is apparently not a coincidence. In fact, she was accredited with the UN for 9 years, and as a sign of protest to the racism there, she canceled her accreditation. Ballsy!
  30. I would love to sit down and talk to her more, maybe do an episode of http://www.youtube.com/helesetalks interviewing her. That would be a great conversation. And it sure as hell wouldn’t cost $5,000,000 dollars.

Let me know what you think. This is my first article on any type of international relations issues. I hope I made you proud.

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