Monthly Archives: July 2012

“Eat Mor Chikin” – Nah, I’m good.

First, here’s the thing:  my immediate goal in life is to finish my dissertation.  This means everything that isn’t my dissertation is on the back burner.  Everything.  “Doing what I have to do so that I can do what I want to do” – I’m all about that life right now.

Over the next year, I suspect this is how things will go.  I’ll interrupt your regularly scheduled program with bits of social and/or political commentary, and I’ll slip back into seclusion.  My friend, who finished his Doctorate a couple of months ago, calls it “the bubble.”  The bubble is my reality from now until graduation day.

But before I go, here’s a nugget I’ll just leave here for your consumption.

My Beef with Chik-fil-A

Today is my early day.  Ideally, I’d go home to drop off my things, and head to the Chik-fil-A on Exit 13 – it’s my favorite location.  The nuggets there are always fresh, waffle fries are always crisp, and when I order a ‘half and half, more tea than lemonade,’ they make it perfectly every time.  The customer service is also great there – they respond to all of your ‘thank yous’ with ‘my pleasure,’ and they call you by name before bringing your tray over to your table.  And they’re always so well-stocked in those after dinner mints I love.

I don’t eat fast food often, but when I do, I eat Chik-fil-A.  It’s been my favorite fast food joint since I was in high school.  But I can’t go there anymore.  I can’t spend my money there.  And I’m not being petty about it; I don’t care that Truett Cathy doesn’t support marriage equality.  As long as the recipe for the nuggets and fries didn’t change, he and I could coexist at opposite ends of the spectrum just fine.  What eats me up is that Chik-fil-A has taken personal opinion into the political realm.  In politics, money contributed to campaigns translates into politicians who push policies that have real consequences for people’s’ quality of life.  As a general principle, lawmakers are supposed to create policies that expand opportunities for individuals, and ensure their liberty and dignity.  This idea is the most fundamental element of American citizenship and spirit.  We are free to disagree, but we don’t use religion disguised as tradition to impose our will.

Chik-fil-A and those who are misguided in their support of these supposed “traditional Christian values’ are doing exactly the opposite of what our Founders intended – blending church, state, and commerce to elevate their position.  I said in a Facebook status last week that  it’s important to remember when it comes to arbitrary moral designations, the pendulum swings both ways.  In other words,  one day someone’s arbitrary moral compass will devalue something or someone you care about and you’ll understand why claiming allegiance to ‘values’ which strip folks of their dignity just doesn’t square.

As it stands today, despite having the same qualifications and levels of experience, women in certain types of jobs are still paid less than their male counterparts.  For every $1 earned by their male colleagues, they make approximately $0.70.  If you support the logic of Truett Cathy, then support it all the way.  Technically, traditional Christian values affirms this inequality.  Eve is of Adam’s rib, right?  Thus, in all things, and for all time, She is His subordinate.  You’d be hard pressed to find a woman as qualified as her colleagues, who works as hard as her colleagues, who’d be willing to accept being compensated less than her colleagues, gender differences notwithstanding.

I’m sorry folks, the logic just doesn’t bear out for me.  Chik-fil-A’s political contributions equal outright discrimination that’s permissible only because it’s couched in the terms “traditional,” “Christian,” and “values”.  I don’t have the patience for this.  I’m sick of fighting these culture wars because progress wins, or society loses.  In that regard, I’ve lost the taste for the kind of chikin-shit Chik-fil-A serves.

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Ocean of Emotion

Ocean of Emotion

I don’t think Frank Ocean’s recent revelation about his first love is the ‘coming out’ story we’ve tried to make it.  I’ve maintained since the first time a woman’s love pulled at my own heartstrings, that sexuality is more fluid than fixed.

Frank Ocean’s is the first voice you hear on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘Watch the Throne’ album.  He’s a rising star.  So when I read his tumblr post yesterday morning, I knew right away it would shake things up in the hip hop world.  Folks talked themselves in circles and worked themselves into a fury trying to define Ocean:  oh, so that n*gga gay now; he’s bi; he’s on the down low.  I don’t know if he is any of those things, but either way, I don’t think that was the point of the post.

Frank’s  “thank you’s” speaks to the complexity of human emotion.  His letter was a love story, not one of homosexual discovery.  That the object of Frank’s affection was a man isn’t inconsequential, I can admit that.  I understand how difficult it is socially and culturally for a young Black man in the hip hop world to admit feelings that his contemporaries would probably never admit to themselves, or find the courage to share with the world.  Frank took a tremendous leap to let a piece of his truth live.

The intimacy shared between Frank Ocean and his male friend is more layered than the one-dimensional identity public opinion is trying to force.  Frank’s letter offers a more interesting take on love, namely that it isn’t picky about social variables.  It doesn’t take race, religion, income, gender, or political affiliation into consideration when it settles in.  When it hits you, it hits you.  And there’s nothing you can really do about the feeling, or that you felt it.  Frank said it beautifully:  “By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life.”  Yep, that’s how it goes.

The implications of same-sex attraction are always the hurdle.  But the attraction itself usually happens naturally.  And if you’ve never had one before, then your opinion lacks credibility on what it is, or what it feels like.  No one gets to decide for all of us what is and isn’t “natural.”  You just don’t.

Frank Ocean’s personal testimony is powerful because it’s so basic, and so common to the human experience.  Cats fall in love.  And for whatever reason, sometimes the cats they fall for can’t handle the pressure.  Frank’s story didn’t have to be activist to resonate.  It was a love story.  It was just a dude exposing his truth with personal freedom being the ultimate end.  That’s what makes the story all the more engrossing and courageous.

Frank’s letter and the reactions to it, also expose a few blind spots in our perceptions about sexuality and intimacy.  Attraction, in my experience, hasn’t been just about gender.  I accept that for most folks it is.  But sometimes gender is merely a variable, like good skin or pretty eyes.  Sometimes you fall for the person first, and his or her gender is an afterthought – a bridge you’ll cross when you come to it, if you ever have a need to.  Sometimes the love is all that matters.

Frank fell for a person who couldn’t fully reciprocate.  For Adam and Eve, or Adam and Steve, rejection is hard to take.  But four summers later, Frank had grown strong enough to share his secret and strong enough to move through it.  He’d grown strong enough to show, through his experience, that people are just people.  We have emotions and feel things we don’t expect.  But whether we expect them or understand them, doesn’t change the fact that they are.  They just are.

The ocean of emotion is vast.  If you find love out here – if you find someone who makes you feel genuine love and affection – you don’t look the gift horse in the mouth.   I’m grateful to Frank Ocean for being an ambassador of this idea.  I’m proud of him and I love him for his honesty and vulnerability.  In telling his story, he gives voice to many people who’ve experienced the same, but never had an ally.  Now they know.  People are just people, and we feel what we feel.  We just do.

 


BET Awards

Was it just me, or was last night’s BET Awards more respectable than they’ve been in years!?  In the past, I tuned in mostly to make jokes about how far from grace the network had fallen.  I haven’t been a regular BET view in a while, but I can say my experience with it last night left me more like “Ok.  I see you, BET” as opposed to “Really, BET?  Really?!”  They attempted to mix ratchet with a tish more respectability.  I’m wasn’t mad at it.

Here are a few observations that stood out.  In no particular order:

  • I can’t believe Samuel L. Jackson hosted that joint.  How’d BET pull that off?
  • The rendition of ‘Niggas in Paris’ performed by SLJ and Spike Lee was pure torture/comedy.  It reminded me of when my uncles first heard rap music and exaggerated everything about it.  It was absurd but hilarious. But whatevs, it was Spike Lee and SLJ – two cats I kinda love – cuttin up on tv.  There are way worse ways to spend 5 minutes of your life.
  • Speaking of SLJ, Django Unchained looks good!  Could this be my people’s ‘Inglorious Basterds‘?  I.  Can’t.  Wait.
  • It was dope to see Jay-Z and Beyonce, Kanye and Kim K in attendance.  Seems like they usually call it in on the BET Awards, like they too cool for that.  So it was a nice surprise.
  • Oh, and Jay’s “scuse me, Kanye,  I’ma let you continue but…” jab was pretty great.  Whatever your feelings about whether Taylor Swift or Beyonce should’ve won that award that year, Kanye was a dick about it.  The moment last night was a collective get back.  Gotcha, ‘Ye.
  • Looks like D’Angelo might be back, y’all.  Dude sounded and played pretty good.  My fingers are crossed that this is an actual come back, not  a Lauryn Hill style tease.
  • So Lauren London’s the new character on The Game,eh?  Yeah, that’s incentive to at least watch the season premier.  But I’m out after that if the show otherwise still blows.
  • I get what y’all see in Kevin Hart.  He’s funny.  I like him.  The divorce stuff from his acceptance speech was awkward though.  Funny/sad isn’t the same as funny…
  • I’m so glad the great work of Maze featuring Frankie Beverly was honored last night.  Those cats are so smooth.  Maze’s music has been part of the soundtrack to some of the best moments of my life.  My college band, the Marching Crimson Pipers, used to play ‘Before I Let Go’ in the stands between plays at football games.  And no proper cookout is complete without  ‘Happy Feelings’ and ‘Golden Time of Day’ to wind it down.  Here, get to know Maze ft. Frankie Beverly.  You can thank me later.

  • I was nervous about the Whitney tribute after BET had completely dropped the ball on Michael’s in 2009.  But it turned out nicely.  Short, sweet, and sincere.  Well done.
  • Now I, too, thought it was wack to end the show on Tyga’s Rack City, and not Whitney’s swan song.  But I remembered that it was Mindless Behavior,  a group whose music I don’t think I’ve ever heard, that won the viewer’s choice award.  Their song, ‘Hello‘, beat out Jay-Z and Kanye ‘Otis,’ Beyonce’s ‘Love on Top,’ Wale and Miguel’s ‘Lotus Flower Bomb,’ and Drake, Lil Wayne, and Tyga’s ‘The Motto.”  In other words, R.I.P. Whitney, but life goes on.  And the show must go on.

C’est la vie, I guess.  Last night’s awards show was definitely Black entertainment television, and with a lot less cringe.  I enjoyed it, and I could still face myself in the mirror this morning.  I’d say that’s progress.  I see you, BET.

One last thing:  SLJ did shade the shit out of BET though.  “I did my job.  Now I gotta go back to being professional.”  smh…