President Obama Comes to Cleveland

The news junkie in me was in full force yesterday as I trudged through monsoon like rain (exaggeration intended) to hear President Barack Obama discuss his plans for health care reform at Shaker Heights High School. Shout out to Kelly for hooking me up with a ticket!

Knowing that parking would be a high commodity I drove a couple of blocks and found a decent spot, and as luck would have it the rain begins to come down in torrents, but I would not be deterred and began my trek to the school.

Carrying my straw bag with my 35mm SLR, palm sized digital, Flip video, note pad and othe goodies I arrived soaked from my thighs down. The upper body was insulated by my hooded raincoat. Everything was held in my straw bag because the letter with my ticket said no bags, so I figured my camera bag might not get in – a fact I would later find was probably incorrect.

Again, as luck would have it as soon as I arrived at the line to enter the gymnasium the rain stopped! Luckily I had timed my arrival pretty good, and didn’t have to stand in line more than about fifteen minutes before reaching the security checkpoint. The officers manning security were very nice and conversational, one actually telling me I could ony bring in five items as he checked out all of my electronic equipment. They were also very helpful in assisting me in retrieving my cellphones and bluetooth – inadvertently left at the check in table. I guess I had too many items after all!

Inside I chatted with a few local politicians and media types and awaited the President’s arrival. I was surprised at how punctual he was, starting only about five minutes later than scheduled.

Introducing the President was a retired autoworker who spoke of having to work part-time in order to pay the rising costs for health care.

The president stuck to his message ensuring those present that his proposal is an effort to help more Americans receive adequate health care. He knows the plan is not without some flaws, but that it is desire for the various Congressional Committees to hammer out the details.

When questioned about the timeline, the President said he believes that in order to have anything done in Washington you have to set deadlines, and his true goal is to have reform in place before the end of the year.

Speaking to a largely Democratic audience, President Obama’s message was well received and he closed by urging the attendees to keep the heat on their Congressional representatives.

The Continuing Question of Race in America

Timing is everything, has become cliche’ and I’m not sure who said it first, but it is so apropos to the events of the last week. The topic of race in America has been a very prevalent topic in the various Social Networking sites from Twitter to Facebook, and has extended into the mainstream conversation because of a couple of events.

Last week a question was posted on Facebook by Rhonda Crowder, a reporter for the Call & Post Newspaper, “Do you think we live in a post-racial America? Does racism still exist? Have WE really overcome?” The question prompted a great deal of conversation, with most saying that racism is still strong and present in the United States.

My take on the question was that yes, we have the first black president and life has definitely changed for him, but on “Main Street” things are very similar to what they were prior to January 20, 2009.

My full response was: Racism is a condition that will continue to exist for a long time. The fact that we have a black president does not negate racism, it simply says that more whites and other minorities were willing to vote for President Obama. For main street the issues of racism have not been eradicated and in some ways have been exacerbated by the economic times that we now find ourselves in. As time continues there may be an end to racism as we know it today, but as human beings I agree with a previous respondent – we will always find a way to see ourselves as better than someone else. Finally, at the heart of racism is power, or a sense of power, so it really depends on who has the ultimate power many years from now as to what shape racism will take on.

The exchange was interesting and thought provoking, but it became very timely on Monday when I learned that Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates had been arrested at his own home. The headlines, blog posts, and tweets spoke of racial profiling and racism. I immediately thought of Rhonda’s question, and thought here is a living example of how things have not changed in America.

Dr. Gates is world-renowned for his documentaries on genealogical research and tracing African American history. He definitely does not look like a thief, but then again what does a thief look like? During an interview on CNN he explained that he would not leave his house because the moment he was out of his house he could be arrested for suspicion of burglary. To think that the officers responding to the call had never heard of him or seen him is astonishing! But it is further proof that there is a long way to go before racism is non-existent.

I don’t think that we will see that day because racism is about more than differences in skin color, it has a great deal to do with perceptions of power and superiority, and while the level of racism felt by people of color may shift as those of color become more powerful the shift will be to another undeserved group.

What do you think? Next…Racism within the race.

Are You A Natural Woman?

When asked to describe yourself, would a natural woman be a likely response? If so, check out author Lori Johnson’s Old School Mix and participate in her poll, or just read the accounts of women who for a number of reasons choose to be “Natural Women”.

This is all in honor of the release, this November, of Lori’s new work of fiction A Natural Woman. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Lori’s first novel, After The Dance then you have missed a treat. For those of us just this side of 30, After The Dance is an adult love story filled with humor and good musical references. The words have a rhythm of their own and the story will keep you reading.

In the meantime, stop by the Old School Mix for a mix of humor and down home wisdom.


Signs from Above

Today I’ve been battling with how to deal with some very delicate issues to no avail, and although I haven’t found the answer to my questions I was relieved to read a couple of articles in the August Essence that reinforced my beliefs.

In the “‘get lifted” monthly column written by Bishop T. D. Jakes the focus is on self love and being comfortable in ones self. I have been debating the issue of happiness with a loved one for months now, and Bishop Jakes summed up my argument with the use of scripture. Well not scripture per se, but the wisdom of a man who has studied the scripture extensively.

At the core of the dilemma is understanding that God has placed each of us here on this planet with a purpose, and it is our job to find, embrace and live that purpose. Further he stresses that the companionship and love of a partner is not the cure to our own internal happiness. That happens within, we must embrace ourselves, get to know ourselves and develop a self-love that will transcend to others.

The second article, also focusing on the challenges and consequences of a lack of self-love dealt specifically with the competition and cattiness so prevalent with black women. While many of us have established and nurtured lifelong relationships with one another, we can also be very vicious and mean to other women. From snide comments and remarks to just downright hostile treament.

At the core to this behavior, according to a number of experts including Phyllis Chesler, professor emeritus of pschology and women’s studies at Cit University of New York and Angela D. Coleman, president and founder of the Sisterhood Agenda is again, a lack of self-love. Many women who have issues with themselves including a lack of self-esteem find the solace and self-worth we need in deflating the image other women have of themselves.

My point in recounting these articles is a need for us all to embrace the You in You! We have only one life to live and it is imperative that we live it to the best of our ability, knowing that We are the Best part of ourselves, and when we see something lacking within ourselves – focus on adjusting You for the better. Do not look for others to fulfill who you are.

At the core, You Are the Best You there is!


Remembering Michael Jackson

For more than a week we have all been captivated by the videos, the pundits and everyone speculating about the death of our beloved Michael Jackson, but not until today did it really hit home.

I watched from the sidelines, not trying to pay close attention because somewhere along the way I had fallen out of love with that gorgeous chocolate brown teenager I grew up with. I still liked his music, but it wasn’t like the thrill I had to go to Cleveland’s Public Auditorium and see Michael and his brothers perform for the massive crowd of giggling and screaming teenage girls.

We had all written our wedding vows, and they undoubtedly joined us in holy matrimony with Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jackie. What joy they all brought us, but the greatest joy came from Michael. He had the infectious smile and those beautiful eyes that assured you that he was looking at you and only you.

Today, see the photos of that young Michael I am forced to stay focused and admit, this is truly the end of the mortal being, but I know that his spirit and his music will live on.

God Bless you Michael, thank you for the memories and may you finally rest in peace!

Photo originally appeared on