Friday, September 23, 2016

The 2016 National Book Award List

Ok.  I want all of these along with $100.00 loaded on my Starbucks app to really get this Fall Season started.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Oh Say I Don't See

This whole notion of patriotism by submission is incredibly disturbing to me.  We are living in a time where people are quick to focus on symbolism instead of depth.  So many people are furious at San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick because he is choosing to not stand for the National Anthem as a protest against police brutality and the oppression of people of color.  People are accusing him of being anti-American or anti-veteran.  As if, singing the National Anthem is a prerequisite for being American or supporting veterans.  Other folk say if he doesn't like this country he should leave it and find another one.  What sense does that make? Since when did loving something or someone and calling for it to be better and trying to make it better - a bad thing. 

These people who equate patriotism with blind submission are not only disturbing but scary.  They may be cut from the same people who sat by silently when the Japanese were interned or when America turned Jewish immigrants away (who were later killed in concentration camps) or folks who sat by for years silently accepting Jim Crow laws.  In today's times, people claim to be pro-veteran because they salute a flag or sing a song, but they do nothing to make life better for homeless veterans, do nothing to speak out against military sexual assault or hold our elected officials accountable before they decide to place our men and women in the military in theater in harm's way.  There are 525,600 minutes in our year, how many of those minutes are you spent in service to your country, to your fellow Americans.  How many of those minutes do you spend demonstrating your patriotism? If the only time you are showing your love for a country is the three minutes once a week during the playing of the National Anthem at a sports event - then you have no room to question the patriotism of Colin Kaepernick or anyone else. 

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Membership Does NOT Have Its Privileges

Sometimes it is NOT a good thing to be a member of an organization.  Particularly if an organization that you love has a contigent that wants to limit membership instead of expanding it.

Been thinking about that a lot in terms of the Church.  I love the church, but her members get on my nerves sometimes.  What with their bigotry and sexism and classism and just ickyness.  Worried about stuff other than serving and loving and learning and forgiving.  UGH. 

Also been thinking about that in terms of Public Radio.  I love NPR.  I'm a public radio fan and supporter.  I was a financial supporter of my beloved WFYI in Indianapolis and now am a monthly supporter of my new local station, WAMU of DC as well as the magical WBGO of Newark.   To me there is nothing fancy or exclusive about public radio.  It's free, it's accessible and on any given day you can hear stories about everything from the Wu Tang Clan to ways in which people utilize bitcoins around the globe.

Some months ago I participated in a focus group of NPR users.  We were asked our opinions on their story selections, presenters and the insertion of advertising and sponsorship.  Most of the people were like me consumers of public radio, appreciative of its' programming but we didn't necessarily feel our consumption of it said anything special about ourselves.  But, there were a couple of people who continued to speak in language that affirmed their view that as consumers of public radio we were more or better or something than the general public.

This being the DMV, there are always douche bags in any situation like that.  People here are accomplished (although I don't necessarily think they are more accomplished than folk any place else I've lived, but you can't tell them that) and work in all kind of cool fields and professions.  It's the nature of the beast, I guess.  A couple of these people were insistent that because we chose to listen to NPR we were exclusive, chosen, the shit.  Me and a couple of the twenty somethings in the group kept challenging them.  At one point, I even said, it's just radio.  Sometimes I listen to All Things Considered when I'm washing dishes, sometimes I listen to Mary J. Blige - I'm still me in both the listenings.  Miss me, with your exclusion, your membership.  Instead of keeping this great secret to yourself and disparging people who choose not to listen or don't know to listen - how about sharing it?  That way more people can be exclusive, the chosen, the shit, right?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sigh for the Side Eye

So by now we have all seen the selfie taken at today's Memorial for Nelson Mandela. Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt snapped a pic of herself with President Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Internet is abuzz about Michelle Obama's apparent displeasure about the selfie.  There are memes and caption this picture exercises, most of them portraying Michelle Obama once again as the angry black women getting ready to "read" someone, "snatch" someone or give someone her famous "side-eye".  It's interesting to me that most of the reactions that people have imagined the First Lady saying revolve less around being disturbed about taking a selfie during a memorial service but more around "I can't believe this chick (the Prime Minister of Denmark) stepped to my husband like that".  I mean I haven't checked what's up in the UK right now, but I wonder if folk have apportioned the same sort of reactions to Samantha Cameron.
If a Harvard educated, former CEO is quick to be summed up as a neck snapping, eye rolling, hands on hip angry black women there truly is no hope for the rest of us. 
Shortly after the January 2009 Inauguration I was volunteering at a Junior League event when a nice white couple sought me out.  You are so pretty the husband said.  Thank you, I said.  He nudged his wife,  Doesn't she remind you of Michelle?  His wife said, She sure does.  They went on to rave about what I thought was their friend Michelle.  In fact I said to them, Is Michelle a neighbor or friend from church?  They looked at each other like I had lost my mind and the husband said, Oh no honey we mean Michelle Obama.  Now I really felt like I had lost my mind.  Really?  I wear glasses, my hair was kinda like hers but only because it was straightened, I was about two inches shorter with a different shade of brown and a good 30 lbs on the First Lady.  But whatever, I mean I guess there were worse black women they could have compared me to.  I smiled and took my Junior League cardigan wearing self back to my station and ignored them for the rest of my shift.
I also got Michelle Obama love when I would visit my son's elementary school.  Kids, especially young white girls would come up and give me hugs and love on me.  I joked to my then fourth grader, your friends love me.  He (so damn wise beyond his years and blessed with too much cynicism and pop culture commentary for a child) looked at me and said, Mom you are black and you wear a suit.  They think you are Mrs. Obama.  There was always a deference especially from the staff, hello Mrs. Coffman how are you Mrs. Coffman.  I ran up to school one day to pick up my kid after working from home in a baseball cap and sweat pants and literally got ignored for a second by the staff.  When I signed my name by my kid's name, the woman looked up at me and said  I didn't recognize you.  You are always dressed so nice.
I was worried that my Michelle Obama cover got blown though that one time I chaperoned my kid's field trip.  There was a whole lot of drama over a swing set and folk pushing and not sharing and the other chaperones standing around watching this melee.  I walked over to the swing set shenanigans and yelled I need everyone OFF this swing set. I then explained that we were going to take turns on the swing or NOONE from this school would get a chance to swing as long as we were here.  It worked, the kids shared the swings, no more pushing and shoving and order was restored.  I'm sure the First Lady wouldn't have hollered at a bunch of children in New Harmony, Indiana but whatever I ain't her.
I did worry though especially since there were not a lot of black moms in suits or hell in sweats at this particular school and I did not want that vision to be the vision that kids and adults have.
But that cultural capacity to believe the angry black woman is real and easy, even when that woman doesn't exist.  Hell, there have been two times in my son's super diverse middle school where an interaction that I had with staff and other students have been relayed back to my son as his mom going off or his mom going in on someone.  In the first case, there wasn't a neck snapping or eyes rolling or even quite frankly a voice raised.  My own mother was with me, and if people know anything about black women of a certain age and certain breeding you are NOT going to get an angry black woman.  So, it was interesting and a bit sad to me that black, brown and white kids witnessed behavior where I was assertive (and right) but processed that as going off.  Second situation, I called out a group of my son's friends at a Career Fair.  They were more interested in goofing off as opposed to speaking with the professionals on-site.  One of the kids in the group lied to me about going to speak to a professional and I called him on it.  When my son came home he was like Yeah mom, my friends said you went off on them.  I was like what?  Really?  I mean I could have, but that was so not going off.
So while we're sharing FLOTUS reactions and imagining her "going off" on the President on Air Force One, it may be that the "side eye" captured by the pool photographer was really the face of someone reflecting on the moment, someone thinking about all the stuff they need to do back home or someone whose tongue is bleeding from biting it for fear of how her You all might want to save that for later comment will be twisted in going in or going off because that's how black women get down.



Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Nike Women's Half Marathon Experience

Finish line with Howard ROTC Members!
Dozing on the Metro after the race.
13.1 miles.  Three hours and sixteen or seventeen minutes.  I just completed my first half marathon.  What a glorious half marathon it was.  16,000 women and men, mostly women running through the streets of Washington, DC.  Past the Dr. King Memorial, past the World War Two Memorial, the Kennedy Center, the Capitol and 13.1 miles of Washington, DC pavement.  It was an amazing day.  There were tears and smiles, twerking and twirling, praying and cussing and at the end Tiffany! 
So there is a lot you learn about yourself when preparing for and running in your first half marathon.  I learned that I am not a planner.  Ok, so maybe I didn't learn that - but it was definitely reinforced for me during this process.  I like planners, I respect people who can order their steps and follow that order.  That isnt me.  My friend Rhonda used to say that my favorite saying back in the day was Do What You Feel.  I mean with a plan that spans the ages - how are you sure that how you feel when you create the plan is how you are going to feel when it is time to implement the plan.  The idea of planning is fabulous and yeah, like everyone I do create plans.  I guess I am not married to the plan, but rather more interested than the outcome.  The how we get there is not important but rather that we get there. 
But back to half marathon training - the how you get there - especially if you are carryng 30 more pounds than you would like and not sleeping enough and dealing with more stress at work than you are used to - is important.  After being selected for the Nike lottery, I started researching training plans online.  There were really serious ones with meal plans, rest and run schedule and a great deal of compliance that I knew I wouldnt be able to adhere to.  I found a great plan that worked for me.  Run (for me) my normal 3-4 miles per day during the week.  Four days a week run, one rest day, one day to cross train and then one long run each week building your miles from 4 to 12.  It was great.  A realistic plan that took into consideration crappy weather, crappy work schedules, crappy life stuff and most importantly a lazy, crappy  runner. 
The rest day I had down pat.  The cross training started out really good - doing Shawn Ts  Hip Hop Abs or taking a spin class at the rec center or Yoga.   About week six of my plan the cross training day quickly morphed into another rest day or a run day. 
The long runs were the beast.  I run with my running group, BGR - DC on Saturdays and Sundays.  Well both of those were 3 - 5 miles at the most - would I be motivated enough to keep running as my mileage was scheduled to increase.  Um---not sure.  My husband who is an accomplished half and full marathoner offered to run with me.  Hmm.  I thought.  This is the same dude that I cussed out when we were building our house over some damn cabinets and who I cussed out back in 95 when he tried to teach me how to drive a stick.  We have a great history together of making a life and raising an incredible son.  The whole sharing and imparting knowledge thing was a slippery slope.   But, dude CAN run.  He ran hot ass Sunburst Marathon up in South Bend.  He ran Richmond where he qualified for Boston and then in 2012 ran and finished the Boston Marathon on one of the hottest days in the history of the Marathon.  He has done long runs in the time it takes me to wake up, do a load of laundry and have a cup of coffee. 
My plan did not call for a long run running buddy - but I did what I felt and put my long runs and the core of my half marathon training in the hands of my hub.  What a blessing that was.  He has just as crappy work schedule, probably less sleep than me but he has mad discipline when it comes to running.  He runs when he is sick, when it is cold, when the last thing he wants to do is run.  For the past 10 weeks, we were incredibly disciplined - hell, selfish even and got up and out and ran all over beautiful DC and Northern Virginia as I trained my body to long run.  When you get tired you drag your feet, pick your feet up he said.  Make sure you are drinking water and taking enough gels in he reminded me after I almost threw up in Whole Foods after one of my first long runs.
You would think running with your husband every week would lead to deep, meaningful conversations but while they weren't played out in words, they definitely were in energy.  We both ran with music and every now and then he would shout out some direction with me or more importantly check in to see how I was doing.  On one really hard run he asked me around mile 8, how I was doing.  I thought for half a minute, what would he do if I said, shitty, I cant finish.  Instead I said, fine and kept going.  Hub is fast, a really fast runner.  I know all those weeks running slower than what he could walk took its toll.  Hell, plenty of weeks he did a long run with me and then turned right around the next day (or the day before) and knocked out his real long run. 
As the weeks went on, I got more confident and realized that maybe I would be able to finish this half marathon.  That was always my goal - I had no time in mind.  I just wanted to be able to run the whole time, pain free, beat the bus and finish the damn thing.
So - with all the planning, week before the race comes and I get a cold.  Nasty cold that actually kept me in bed one day off sick from work.  I was TERRIFIED.  Work, life, weather, everything hadn't derailed my plan but a damn cold could.   Jesus, be a Fence.  The day home from work, helped.  I took every cold medicine we had in the house. Slept, drank fluids, slept some more.  Thursday I started feeling human.  Got up ran two miles, went to work.  Friday I actually started feeling human, ran 3 miles, worked until 7:30 p.m. and even felt well enough to do a pre race gathering with my running chicks. 
Started to get freaked out because ladies were talking about their race outfits, their race plans, their race strategies - WHOA.  I had none of that.  I mean I had the training behind me, but other than my shoes and socks - had not even thought about what I was wearing.  The only race day planning I did was to get my hair colored the morning before the race coz I thought I was cute.
Saturday came and went.  I worked a volunteer shift.  Hub had to work until midnight.  Kid almost made me cry by doing all of his homework on Saturday, because he wanted to have Sunday free to cheer for me.  He also took his shower the night before AND laid his clothes out.   This child was really trying to make me do the ugly cry.
Sunday morning.   We got up, got out of the house.  I had packed my bag the night before - so I had everything I needed.  Hub, kid and I make it to the race.  I was too late for the group picture, amazingly enough I was a little disappointed but I didn't bug me as much as I thought.
I was VERY nervous.  Standing at the race line, checking my watch, my music, my bra, my sunglasses.  The only thing I wanted to concentrate on was my race I wanted no distractions.  Hub and kid gave me a hug.  Race started - I was off.
13.1 miles - that is a long damn way.  In this day of multi-tasking and overscheduling it is a blessing to be with you and yourself in your head for three damn hours.  There is a lot you can work out, plan, do and feel.  I was blessed to have my beautiful hub and kid cheer me all over the course.  They were at mile 2, 4, 8, 10 and then at the end.  Between them and the damn Team in Training folk with their dedication shirts, I knew I was going to be an ugly crying mess at the end of the race.  I started to get emotional around mile 11 and felt the tears, but then I kinda got short of breath.  I quickly shut that down because I was like, hell, I need to breath.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  No tears.
BGR women all over the course also challenged my cry rule.  Ebony, Steph, Markeshia, Tracy, Ashante, Bridget, Leigh, Meg and SO many more.  It was also wonderful to get shout-outs from BGR women from around the country AND shout-outs from BGR supporters lining the route.
The whole day was an incredible blessing.  I'm proud, happy, thankful and almost ready to think about my next half marathon.
13.1 miles.

Homestretch.  Mile 12 or 13, I think.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Did the big chop November 2011

Small fro 9 months later!

Thursday, June 14, 2012