Yes, We Can

Posted: November 7, 2008 in Politics
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obamawin

Growing up, Black History, to me at least, consisted of repetitive information about Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, Harriet Tubman and Booker T. Washington among others. This was the case from the classroom to the church.

Sure, it was good information and gave me a sense of from whence I came, but that’s were it ended. It was the 80s and 90s now. And while problems still existed, I fortunately didn’t have to deal with some of the struggles like my parents, grandparents and people I read about had to experience.

So, in many ways, I couldn’t relate. I often watched and cringed at old civil rights footage and listened to my relatives talk about the feeling they had back in the 60s hearing Dr. King speak. I marveled and wondered what that time period was like and how they made it through.

But at the end of the day, I still couldn’t relate.

I never felt the way they felt.  I didn’t understand the pride that they showed when they had moments of reflection. Outside of Sports, there were few

In February of 2007, a young black senator from Illinois launched a campaign for President of the United States. Barack Obama. Many, including those in the black community, never game him a chance. Not for the fact that he wasn’t qualified. I attributed it to the mere fact that, because of history, people just couldn’t fathom the idea of a person of color actually winning the presidency.

Times hadn’t changed that much, had they?

As time progressed, I saw the potential. The potential for change. Many others who looked like me and talked like me saw the same thing. Throughout the primaries, to the debates, battling Hilary Clinton and eventually with the securing of the nomination, an excitement and optimism overcame me. We had hope. He was our guy.

I shared with the girlfriend how I felt above. And because of Obama, how the feeling I had heard about many times before had begun to ignite within.

Yes, we can.

There was a unique pride I felt every time I heard Sen. Obama speak. And although I’d voted before, I’d never been so involved and interested in politics as I was this year. I never missed a debate, educate myself on the issues, wore the gear and encouraged family and friends to do the same. Like generations before, Sen. Obama had given people, particularly those of color hope.

Yes, we can.

So on Tuesday, Nov. 4, I was up at 5:50 am, eager to vote. This was my first time voting in Connecticut, so I wanted to make sure I was there in time and that everything went smooth. And, much to my surprise, it did. I was in and out in 20 minutes.

Never before had I had a day so filled with such anxiousness. I was glued to CNN all day and while I got my work done, nothing was more important than what I hoped was about to occur later in the day. I called my parents, other relatives and friends to share my excitement and to make sure they had exercised their right to vote.

That night, I join some of my closest friends to watch history. We laughed, joked, drank and cheered every time Wolf Blitzer made a projection for Sen. Obama. We watched attentively to the key states — Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia among others.

At about 11 p.m., our lives and worlds changed forever as Sen. Obama was projected as the winner and President-elect of the United States of America. Cheers echoed throughout the condo and while we couldn’t physically hear them, we heard them in our minds from people across the country and world.

Yes, we can

I watched and cheered in amazement and awe. Admittedly, my eyes moistened up a bit. I called my parents, two people who remember hearing Dr. King speak when they were children, to share this moment with them. I did the same with my grandmother.

No matter how much I write, words can’t describe the feeling I had and still have. President-elect Obama has preached change and hope throughout his career and campaign. With his election, our country has changed and, as a result, has given millions a new sense of hope.

Yes, we can.

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9/11 remebered…

Posted: September 11, 2008 in Uncategorized

I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was Tuesday. Not hot, but not yet fall. In other words, a typical September day at Hampton U. I was a sophomore so I had not yet figured out that it wasn’t cool to have class at 8 in the morning. Following my biology class I walked out Turner Hall and ran into one of my boys. “You heard what happened?” he asked. “Naw, what’s up?” I replied. “They blew up the World Trade Center,” he said. I didn’t think much of it. I figured it was just another minor incident.. Nothing major. “I’ll holla at you later,” I told him. I made my way back to my dorm and found my roomate glued to CNN. Then I realized that this was much more serious than I’d ever thought.

I’ll never forget the look on my roomates face. He was from Newark, right across the river from Manhattan. This was home to him. This was a skyline he saw every time he opened his door. “What the hell is going on?”I thought to myself. A lot of my associates/classmates/friends were from the tri-state area. They couldn’t get in contact with family. They were nervous. They were scared. Some were crying. I sat and I watched. I don’t think I went to class the rest of the day. I watched people jump 100-plus stories to their deaths. I saw the World Trade Center, an American landmark, something that defined the NYC collapse right before my eyes. Again I asked “What the hell is going on?” Meanwhile, closer to home, I fiind out that a plane has crashed in the Pentagon and one was on the way to the White House. My dad called me to see if I knew what was going on. I had lots of family in Arlington, Alexandria and the surrounding areas. I know people who work in the Pentagon and with the government in D.C. “Are they ok?” I wondered.

In a matter of about 50 minutes, our lives changed forever. I would later find out that a cousin of mine was coming up the elevator of the Pentagon City METRO station around the same time the plane struck the Pentagon. I have a cousin that works for the Deparment of Defense who frantically was evacuated of the building due to the fact that there was a plane supposedly heading for the area.

It’s been seven years, yet the memory of the day still lingers. My generation doesn’t remember the Civil Righs Movement, we weren’t around for Vietnam or the Great Depression. For us, September 11, 2001 was a day that will with us for ever. Wherever we are, not matter how old we are, whenever the calendar shows September 11, we’ll always remember that day.

Dear Summer

Posted: August 29, 2008 in Life Lessons
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You left me abruptly last September, saying it was getting to chilly for you to stick around. As sad as I was, I decided it was best for us to take some time apart. I looked up to the sky hoping you’d come back, if only for a weekend, but you didn’t.  No longer could I walk around wtih shorts and cut off tees. No more cruising through the streets with the windows down and the sunroof back. Summer, I wished you were around last December as the scent of the Holidays was in the air and over a foot of snow was falling on the ground. But I was patient. I knew before long, we’d find our way back together again — if only for a short while.

Summer you’ll never know how good it felt to see you, feel you and smell you again this year. You came back into my life in my co-workers backyard Memorial Day weekend. You tapped me on the shoulder with a humidity I hadn’t felt in some time. It was at that moment I knew you were back in my life.

The past three months, you and I have experience laughter and joy, frustration and pain. But with every year we spend time together, it’s one of the best times of the year.

We spent a few days in Atlantic City. You and I walked the boardwalk together. I was tempted to ruining our relationship early on by gambling all my money away in the casino, but I was strong. We chilled in the 40/40 club together watching the Celtics win their 17th championship.

You know Summer, I can never take you for granted because I owe you my life. I was birthed to you. And this year, the 26th one, we celebrated like never before. We partied on a Friday and on Saturday, with your heat beating us on our backs, we grilled outdoors, taking in your fresh air.

As July came, you challenged me. You wanted to see if I could take the heat of your 90 degree temperatures and in life. You set obstacles on my job, with my finances and in my relationships. I admit, I, like others get jaded by your beauty and sometimes you’re going to only give me sunshine and no rain. But this summer, Summer, you definitely had some scattered showers along the way.

But like always, the clouds cleared, just in time for you to join me and my family in VA for a family reunion. A week later you went with me on my first trip to Chicago. I’d recommend a week in Chicago with you to anyone, Summer. You have the reputation of being an ideal host for weddings. And this year, you didn’t let me down. You and weddings in the south go hand in hand. I was fortunate enough to travel with the Moose and her family to NC and again, you gave us good weather.

So this is our last weekend together. As always, you can’t stay around forever and I know this. I just hope sometimes you lasted longer. In the next few weeks, you’ll slowly make your exit. You’ll tease me by showing your shinning sun as I look out the window in the morning. But when I step outside, it will be another story. Before long, you’ll be a distant memory.

Thank you Summer. It’s been fun. You brought joy to me and others for three months. All good things must come to an end. This isn’t goodbye, it’s just see ya later.

Until next year,

Huddy

Baptized

Posted: August 17, 2008 in Sports
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I’ve said it before and I’ll say in again.

My generation — those in their 20s and 30s — have been fortunate enough to grow up in what I consider, the greatest era in sports.

The 80s gave us, Showtime, the 49ers, Phi Slamma Jamma among others.

The 90s gave us the Cowboys, Jordan and the Bills, Mike Tyson, the Yankees and Braves, Duke and Carl Lewis.

The beginning of the 21st century gave us Kobe and Shaq, the Patriots and of course, Tiger Woods.

The old heads will always swear the games were better in their day. Mostly due to fact that players simply played for the love of the game and weren’t caught up with hefty salaries, shoe contracts and endorsement deals.

Part of this argument I can see. But you can’t convince me if the means where the same then as they are now, players wouldn’t take the money. But I digress.

To have witnessed Jordan, Tiger, Barry Bonds and Barry Sanders in their prime is incomparable. We have arguably, with the inclusion of Wayne Gretzky and Pete Sampras, grown up watching the best athletes of all time in the major sports. It’s a gift and a curse in some respects. Now, every basketball player we watch, we compare to Jordan (i.e. LeBron, Kobe) and every tennis player (Nadal, Federer) is compared to Sampras and so on and so forth.

We have been spoiled to a point where it sometimes takes a lot from athletes to “wow” us. Mainly because we, like some of those older people I was talking about, think we’ve seen it all. We refuse to believe it can get better than the mid to late 90s and early 2000s.

However, with anything, every once in a while something or someone comes along that catches our attention and if fact gives us that fuzzy feeling as fans.

For me and others, the last few days, Michael Phelps has ignited that feeling within.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Olympics are going on. And, while the Redeem Team has been grabbing some of the headlines, the face of the Olympics has been Michael Phelps.

And on Saturday, Phelps reached a milestone that has stood for 36 years.  Team USA won the 4×100 medley relay, giving Phelps an unprecedented eight gold medals in one Olympics — surpassing the great Mark Spitz.

In the sports world, swimming is way down on the totem pole, but Phelps, from the Baltimore area, captured the attention and imagination of millions, including mine. And while we probably won’t care about competitive swimming for another four years when the Olympics arrive in London, even then, it will  be hard pressed to have the feeling we’ve had the last week witnessing history.

For those my age, younger and older we should appreciate what we were fortunate enough to witness, because it may never happen again.

My Joy

Posted: August 12, 2008 in Life Lessons

A couple of years ago, I found myself stuck in a Connecticut DMV, trying to get my car registered in the state and get a new driver’s license.

It was a few days before Thanksgiving so the lines where ridiculously long, so I waited and waited, trying not to get frustrated.  Eventually my number was called and I went up, took my picture for my new license — officially selling my soul to Jodi Rell and the state of Connecticut.

Like most DMVs there were multiple stops and this was just one of three for the day. The nice lady instructed me to go upstairs to get a “ticket” so I could get my new plates. Sigh — yet another line.

When I finally made it to the counter to get my ticket to wait — yet again–for my plates, the lady looked at my new license and made a comment on my picture. While I don’t remember the statement verbatim, it was something to the effect of why are you smiling?

I was surprised by her reaction — and to mines as well. I said something to the effect of, I have no reason not to smile.

And I don’t

That day in the DMV made me think. I took a look at some pictures of myself and noticed that I, in fact, do smile a lot in my pictures. And as I thought about it more this wasn’t the first time someone had questioned my cheesin’ Often times, for some reason, there’s a perception that young black men always have to be hard and not show emotion as it is a sign of weakness.

Not I.

I smile because I’m happy and pleased. I look at my life and the things I’ve been fortunate enough to experience and I can’t help but be happy. Yes, things aren’t always going to go smooth and there are times when I get upset, cuss and fuss, but I have a joy that sometimes is unexplainable.

Often times it’s called been silly and I have to keep it in the pocket to not go overboard, but when I’m in a good mood and happy, I’m not going to apologize and change who I am. I just hope the joy that I have will make someone else smile and be able to experience some of the happiness I enjoy from time to time.

RIP Bernie Mac

Posted: August 11, 2008 in Comedy
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About a week ago, a cousin of mine sent me an e-mail asking if Bernie Mac had died.

Immediately, I flipped over to CNN — nothing.

I checked the major news sites online — nothing.

I went to Wikipedia and they had something about his death, but apparently it was just a rumor. The truth, at the time, was that Mac had been admitted to a local hospital in Chicago for an undisclosed situation.

I knew he had had some help problems in the past, but it was nothing serious. I thought nothing of it.

Unfortunately, what was a rumor just a few days ago, became a harsh reality Saturday morning as Bernie Mac, one of the funniest comedians of our time, died due to complications from pneumonia.

He was just 50.

Mac was one of my favorite comedians off all time to go along with Richard Pryor, Rickey Smiley, Earthquake, DC Curry and others. His unique style of dress and his unique storytelling set him apart from others.

The mainstream audience came to know him through Kings of Comedy, the Bernie Mac Show and several movies he was in. However the black viewing audience, particularly those in the Chicagoland area knew him from his underground work and later on in the early days of Def Comedy Jam.

No matter if you were a long-time fan or just caught a couple of his acts casually while flipping the channel, Bernie Mac always made you laugh to the point of tears. And, as George Clooney said, the world just got a lot less funny.

Friend or Foe

Posted: August 6, 2008 in Men vs. Women, Relationships

“I’m not a biter, I’m a writer for myself and others…”  Jay-Z

In the blogosphere, it’s not uncommon to get an idea for a post by reading someone else’s blog. For me, when I’m experiencing writer’s block, I sometimes scroll along my blog reads in search of some inspiration to get started.

For a better part of the summer, the first lady kept a poll on her blog asking the question: Can men and women truly be platonic without attraction? The choices we, the reader, had were 1. Absolutely, 2. Hell Naw, 3. Perhaps.

The poll was open for at least 20 days and I was always curious as to how the voting was coming along. While she doesn’t have a huge following on her blog, it’s a enough to generate good traffic and ignite healthy discussion. So when the polls closed a few weeks ago, I was curious to see the results.

Hell Naw: 9 votes

Absolutely: 7 votes

Perhaps: 5 votes

Interesting.

While voting was and still is confidential, I’ll admit I voted for “Hell Naw” and am not at the least surprised by the results.

From a man’s perspective, since the beginning of time, we have been attracted to females. We like the way they look, talk, walk, smell and umm…taste.  Heterosexual men spend a lifetime chasing women, often succeeding and often embarrassing ourselves in the process. But we want what they’ve got and I’d like that think, in many cases, the feeling is mutual.

So I believe that it’s extremely difficult to maintain a platonic friendship with the opposite sex without attraction. To be clear, by “attraction” I don’t mean sexual tension or even the idea that you want to have sex with said person. I believe that attraction in this situation is the acknowledgement that you find said person interesting and good looking and, if the situation presented itself to “take your friendship to the next level;”, you wouldn’t turn it down.

I’ve discussed and debated this subject with the Moose on several occasions and she believes women are easily able to differentiate the two than men are. And I tend to agree. I believe women are able to maintain the “just friends” tag and leave it at that. Whereas us men, always ignorant, tend to think that if a woman wants to hang out with us and spend time with us, she’s “in to” us. This may totally not be the case, but that’s how a lot of us think, even if we know said female may already be in a relationship and she may be just cool with us.

So when men are skeptical about their wives/girlfriends/SOs having “serious” platonic relationship, it can often be perceived as jealous or possessive, when if fact we are just viewing the situation from a man’s point of view and are simply warning the female to be cautious and not be naive.

Because for both men and women, every smile received from the opposite sex is not given with good intentions.