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All Right, I’m Finally Breaking Out The MJ

1 Mar

My friends, family, and especially my two daughters know how much I love my MJ (Michael Jackson, if you really have to ask).  Even my daughters’ friends tease me about it.  At one sleepover, Leni’s friend June, upon spotting my MJ  pajama top, said, “You’re really obsessed with Michael Jackson aren’t you?  That’s kind of bizarre.”

Yes, lovely June, at age 10, was a bit precocious, but, perhaps  not far off the mark.  It’s not like I live in a home stuffed with MJ memorabilia, but when he passed away, I pulled out the box in my basement stuffed with magazines, two MJ dolls (still in the box), t-shirts, pins and MJ trading cards, and kept a few things out around the house to remind me of him, and his greatness as an entertainer.

I had  loved Michael since I was eight, and when I was a mature ten years old, I conjured up all kinds of fantasies on how we would meet and then marry.  This is my favorite, one that I thought up when my family was planning a vacation to California, and the one I thought had the most chance of working: […]

Wendy Jane’s Soul Shake Book Shelf: Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness by Toure

28 Feb

I just finished reading Touré’s recent book, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness.

Touré 40,  is an author, correspondent for MSNBC, host of two shows on the Fuse Network, Hiphop Shop and On the Record, and contributing editor to Rolling Stone Magazine.

The book’s impetus seems to come from two places.  The first, is Touré’s feeling that with Barack Obama as our first black President, and as a black man unlike others we have seen before on the national scene, we now have a more complex and varied definition of what it means to be black. […]

We Are All The Same

24 Feb

 My former husband used to turn the NPR station on every morning, drink his coffee to it and then go to work, leaving the radio on. One morning, I was listening to his radio the only way you can when bent over your chair tying your sneakers at the kitchen table. It was an in-and-out kind of listening, until something grabbed my attention. […]

Thalia

23 Feb

Thalia Hicks was the only black girl in my class until school busing started in 1970, when we were in the third grade. She lived on Cooke Street, only a few blocks from where I lived, but I don’t remember going over Thalia’s house to play.

Thalia dressed nicer than the white girls. She wore conservative, neatly pressed dresses, bobby socks and loafers. Her hair was usually either braided into two neat side-braids, more like french braids than corn rows, or into a ponytail, with a short curl of a bang in front. We all played together in the schoolyard—all the white girls and Thalia, or Birdie, her nickname that we sometimes used. She told us why she was named that, but now I can’t recall—was it for her long, slender legs? The only times I do remember all of the white girls and Thalia coming together outside of school was at our birthday parties.

Whether it was out of politeness or genuine friendship, Thalia was invited to all of the white girls’ birthday parties, and we were all invited to hers. While there was never any fallout at the white girls’ parties, every time we were at Thalia’s birthday, […]

Is Poppy A Black American?

21 Feb

I first started working on this piece when my older daughter, Leni, was five years old.  At sixteen now, she has a more formed opinion about her mother’s obsession with race relations, and has even written a few posts for me on WJSS.

“Mommy, I have a secret to tell you,” my then, five-year old daughter Leni exclaimed, as we sat eating lunch in a Pennsylvania pub-style restaurant.

We were on a summer road trip, traveling from Tulsa, Oklahoma where we had lived for several years, to my home state of Connecticut. Leni and her little sister Darla were going to visit their grandpa, their “Poppy.”

Cupping her hand over my ear, Leni whispered… […]

My Six-Word Memoir

19 Feb

A few months ago, I came across a book in the bookstore–a compilation of six-word memoirs, called, Not Quite What I Was Planning  By Writers Famous and Obscure.  The idea was to write your life story in six words. You had to say a lot in very little.  Not even thinking, I instantly wrote my own right there at the bookshelf.

[…]

Black People Are Better As Us

17 Feb

When I lived in New York City, I shared an apartment for some time with a fun couple, Melanie and Hendrik. Mel was Canadian, Hendrik was Dutch. I always admired Melanie for her artistic talent, her practical way of approaching life’s challenges, and for the fact that she always treated everyone the same. Mel never put on any airs, whether she was talking to a pseudo-celebrity artist, one of Hendrik’s co-workers, (a globally diverse team of United Nations tour guides), or a cashier at the corner Korean Deli.

Hendrik, a former performance artist clown (quick to say not of the Ringling Brothers variety), was free-spirited, and extremely creative. He often challenged my shyness by his fearless, interactive daily live “performances” at home, like […]

Some of My (Virtual) Best Friends Are Black

15 Feb

One night during the last run of American Idol (honestly, the first season that I watched), my eleven year old daughter, Leni, plunked herself down on the couch beside me.

“Oh, I hope we didn’t miss Jacob,”  she said, “You’ll want to see him.  He’s black.”

“Why do you think I want to see him because he’s black?” I challenged her. […]

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