Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I am currently in the process of making some changes to my blog and other websites. As much as I really don’t want to, I’ve decided to turn A Drop of Jewel into a niche blog site. The reason why I didn’t take the same route as most bloggers, and focus on one particular area, is because I don’t like limiting myself or being put in a box. Also, my brain just doesn’t work that way. My brain waves are all over the place, very random. Hence, I’m a random person and so is my writing. However, it doesn’t really make sense for me to post about different topics if no one is actually reading them so…

I’ve noticed over the past [almost] 3 years that I’ve been blogging that my dating and relationship posts seem to draw the most attention. So going forward I will be blogging about topics that relate to dating, relationships, and sex (just because I can’t help myself). The only issue I see arising is that I may run out of things to write about, another reason I never wanted to “niche blog”. This is where your help is needed. I’d love it if you would help me with some topics I can blog about. What are some things you’ve wondered about when it comes to these categories? What are some areas you see others struggle with in their dating lives? I welcome all comments and suggestions. Please help me turn this blog into one that people want to read. Thanks in advance!

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I think the innocence of children is so precious and remarkable. You ask a child a question, and you are sure to get an honest answer or opinion, whether good or bad. Kids have no filters in the early years. They will tell you if your breath stinks. They’ll tell you if they don’t like your outfit. They will tell you exactly what someone else said when recounting a story or conversation.

But somewhere along the way a parent or adult tells them their honesty is “rude”. At some point we begin to tell children that they’re being “impolite” by sharing their honest opinions or feelings about someone or something. A child tells a stranger, “You have a booger” or “You’re bald just like my cat Fee Fee,” and your response to them is “Shh! That’s not nice!” It is because, as an adult, you become embarrassed by their blunt comments because somewhere in your childhood someone probably shushed you in the same way.

So how is it that as adults we can’t understand the liars and phonies of the world? Of course we are going to talk behind one another’s back. Of course we will be fake and tell a friend we like their outfit, when asked, instead of telling them we absolutely don’t. If we are taught from childhood that expressing how you really feel is taboo, impolite, rude and socially unacceptable, how can we get upset when people show up as representatives of themselves instead of their true selves? I understand the rule; if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. But where do you draw the line between being polite and just being a phony bologna? And how do you teach your children the difference?

A few days ago I was reading an article where a mother let her child starve to death and was convicted and sentenced to 34 years (I think or something like that) in prison. I then read all the readers’ comments that followed. People were outraged, of course, and saying all these mean and awful things about the mother, damning her to hell, etc. I don’t know why or if I’m the only one who does this, but whenever I hear tragedies similar to this, I always put myself in both the victim and the guilty person’s shoes. Why did they do this? What were they thinking while they did this? What is their reasoning like? What are their skills of logic like? Are they balanced or insane? Were they abused? If so, how and for how long? Did they just snap or were they breaking down over time?

I definitely don’t believe in making excuses for people but I do believe there is usually a reason behind everything. However, the reason is never exposed or it doesn’t make it in the article. As I scrolled down the article, I found pictures of the woman and immediately I thought, Aha! Look at this woman. She’s damn near starved herself. She is obviously on drugs. I went on to read that she gave birth to another baby that tested positive for drugs and that the child she let starve was born underweight with serious health issues; which, to me, means this woman is obviously producing crack babies. Now, if I was able to put all this together just from reading a one-page article, why weren’t the social workers able to? This woman had no business being allowed to take either of those children home from the hospital, but somehow was.

The question I am trying to raise here is why do we always stop at the headlines? I’ve done enough freelance work where I’ve interviewed people or people have interviewed me. So I know there’s only a certain amount of words you’re allotted to get everything you want to write in one article. I’ve had interviews with 3-4 pages worth of material but had to cut it down to one. I’ve read interviews that people have conducted with me and thought to myself, Hey they left out the part where I said “blah blah blah”. I really wish he/she would’ve left that in.

Again, I’m not making excuses or saying I feel bad for the woman. A child was lost, and I’m sure once she’s thinking with a clear head, the guilt she’ll place on herself will far outweigh anything a commenter might say. What I am asking, though, is why are we so quick to read/see and judge, never taking the time to think about the whole scenario. A person strung out on drugs does not think clearly, nor make rational decisions. None of her children should’ve been left under her care in the first place. But nobody’s talking about that. We just see a headline and read a one-page article when the whole story probably requires days to tell.

Has anyone else noticed the influx of posts on social media regarding missing black children? It seems like there’s a different one posted every day. I will admit, when I first started seeing these, I didn’t take them that seriously. I ignored them, but let me tell you why. I ignored them because there’s just so much spam online nowadays. You see a posting for one thing, click on it, and it turns out to be something totally different. Also, I see that some people like to revive old posts for absolutely no reason. Out of the blue they’ll put something back in circulation that was already sent around 3-5 years ago. It wasn’t until I visited New Jersey and I happened to see an actual flyer posted at a 7-Eleven that matched one of the posts I’d seen on Facebook. That’s when I knew these were real and started to take them seriously.

There’s also a show on TVOne called “Find Our Missing”, which profiles cases of missing black people, some children. It just seems like the increase came out of nowhere. Has there always been this many black children gone missing per year or has the number increased? Has the number stayed about the same but it’s just that social media has provided a new outlet to get these stories out where the mainstream news won’t? Or, (and this is the conspiracy theorist within talking), is there a plot against our black children of today? Are they being targeted for kidnapping? If so, why? And why now?

Halfway through my ninth grade year in high school I moved to a different town where I attended a new high school (new to me). Making friends has never come easy to me because, believe it or not, I am extremely shy and quiet. I would soon find out that a lot of people throughout my life would make assumptions about me because of this. One thing I didn’t have a problem doing in the new school was making money. I sold candy out of my book bag and it wasn’t long before other students noticed how I excelled in most of my classes. Side note: the school system there was way behind my previous one so didn’t require much brainpower. After being approached by a “dumb jock” (his own words, not mine) to do one of his papers, it became a regular gig. Essays, research papers, poetry; if it had something to do with writing, I was available for hire. I am the reason why quite a few failures ended up passing classes. I guess you can partially blame me for some of the dummies in the workplace today. Sorry.

If my fellow student didn’t have the money up front to pay me, sometimes I would accept collateral and they could pay me later. This was the case with Romeo. He didn’t have the money so he gave me a fairly new Polo hoodie for collateral. Long story short, he got an A on the project I did for him. That A was the only thing that kept him from failing History. How did he repay me? Instead of money, he sent a girl, who supposedly had a rough reputation around school, to corner me at my locker one morning. She was one of those loud, rowdy types, always getting in trouble, always getting in fights. She got in my face and threatened me to return the hoodie to Romeo or she was going to beat me up. What did I do? I responded naturally, with a smirk I got back in her face, “Am I supposed to be shook? I’m not scared of you or anyone else in this school. You must have me fucked up. You can tell Romeo that he can get his collateral back when he pays me my money.” Then I slammed my locker and walked away. No, Romeo never paid me but I wore my new hoodie with no shame, and the girl never bothered me again.

When I was a kid, that’s how you handled bullying. You either took your chances and stood up to the bully, fighting it out, or you went and got an older sister/brother/cousin/friend to come help you fight your battles. I never had to do too much fighting because I always let my words fight for me. Of course most will say fighting isn’t the answer but fighting does toughen you up. Most of the time when you stand up to a bully they will leave you alone because bullies are predators. They prey on the weak. That’s why it’s important to show strength, whether it be through words or through fists, if necessary.

While I applaud the current day campaign against bullying, I think the campaign is misdirected. I don’t think it’s necessarily the bullying that’s the major problem. I’ve witnessed bullies growing up and people have tried to bully me. I’ve seen kids fight and I’ve even been in a physical fight or two (or three). I even got a black eye once. We all turned out just fine. No one killed themselves. However, we didn’t have cell phones and YouTube when I was a kid. Once the fight was over, whoever got their butt kicked might’ve been taunted for the next few weeks until the next fight happened. Then it was forgotten about, yesterday’s news. Whether you were the winner or the loser, you gained respect for standing up for yourself. That’s what it was really about. I think it’s the technology that is crippling the children of today. Little Susie can’t hide from a video of her getting her block knocked off that’s being played over and over on the internet. She can’t move on to the next thing. She’s forced to relive her humiliating experience over and over. Little Billy’s secret confession in his diary about his homosexuality has been plastered on a website for all to see and forward through emails. Once it’s in cyberspace, it’s there for good. There’s nothing he can do to move on. That, in my opinion, is the issue – not the actual act of bullying. Boys tease, girls are cruel, children fight. It’s a part of life. It’s a part of the coming of age process. It’s the technology that’s the real problem. Maybe the issue is allowing children access to technologies they don’t yet need before they are mature enough to handle it.

Now children are encouraged to go tell an adult if they’re being picked on. I know parents want to protect their children and I know I’m not a parent, but it seems to me that we are really softening the children of tomorrow. In addition, they are going to be unprepared for the world as an adult. I think what people forget is that there are adult bullies too. There are grown people who try to intimidate other grown people every day in college, on the job, and at social activities. You see, it doesn’t stop after adolescence. The method might change. It may not be stuffing you in a locker but you better believe there are bullies in the boardroom, just like on the playground. So what happens then? What does the grown ass man, who was told as a child to run and tell when someone made fun of him, do as an adult being bullied? Of course I know there is a difference between harmless teasing and antagonizing someone, but where is the line drawn? That’s my question. I don’t make light of those who have taken their own lives due too bullying, but I can’t help but wonder if things can turn out differently if we teach children to stand up to bullies and toughen up a little.

Recently I held two book signing events for my novel, Two Way Mirrors. There were two different occurrences I witnessed during each event that has urged me to write this post. The book signing in San Diego took place on a rooftop, which, I thought was a nice and classy location. I served wine and appetizers and asked a few poets I know to perform. I knew most of the people that came. They were either friends or people I knew from the open mic circuit. There was a nice turnout from a Meetup group I belong to called San Diego Black Professionals. Most of them I did not know but was glad they came out to support. They seemed a little reserved, but still, just seemed like regular people to me. It wasn’t until I arrived home later that evening to find that one of the attendees made a comment on Facebook while at the signing. Don’t quote me but it was something like I know these uppity Negroes are probably wondering what I’m doing here. Not only did I find this offensive, but also unnecessary. I definitely don’t consider myself an “uppity Negro” and I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the other people there weren’t paying this guy any attention. It was, after all, an evening about me and my book :).

The second book signing was held at a nice bookstore in the heart of Downtown Newark, NJ. It was a great location because it was a high traffic area and at a well-known store that was recently on a reality show. Once again I had wine and cheese but instead of having poets perform, I went out on the street and performed to engage the passer-byers. My family was there to help and support. My mother, being the proud mother hen she is, was on her job talking to customers. One guy was there with his friend who had purchased my book. He was holding it for her and my mom asked him if he’d just purchased the book. He told her no and after she walked away I heard him say to his friend, “Here, take this book before these people think I’m trying to steal something.” He didn’t know I heard him. He also didn’t know my mother was only asking about his purchase because she was making sure no customer left without having their book signed by me. Just like the other guy I mentioned, I didn’t care enough to say anything. Plus I didn’t know this guy; so I continued on about my business. He waited until after the signing was over to approach me. It turned out he was also a new writer and was interested in having me publish his book(s). Before I let him tell me about any of that, I made sure he knew that I heard what he said and I explained to him why my mother asked him about the book. I could tell he was embarrassed, as he should’ve been.

What is the point of my telling you these two stories? I’m sure you’re familiar with that saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”. I think people come from certain backgrounds and/or lifestyles and histories are so use to being pre-judged that they have now turned into the judgers themselves. When you are surrounded by or come into contact with people who come from a different background than you, it is not fair to automatically assume that they look down on you. Not everyone who may have had a privileged upbringing, or is “educated”, or speaks properly, or has class thinks they are superior to those who don’t. When you take one look at a group of people and call them uppity because they don’t look or act the way you think they should, YOU are preemptively placing yourself beneath them. Sure, I’ve had people look down on me because of places I’ve lived or maybe the way I wear my hair. I’ve even been outright dismissed and cut off by some once they found out I don’t have a degree. So I know it happens. I’m not saying it doesn’t. I’m saying give people the benefit of doubt. It is unfair for you to make up your mind about what people may or may not be thinking about you before they even open their mouths or converse with you. When you do that, you’re confirming that you are no better than them. Don’t deflect your insecurities off on other people because you subconsciously feel less than or even possibly intimidated.

My first real book review. I’ll take it! Thanks UFN!

Urban Fiction News

 

I love a good story especially one that is written by a great storyteller. Two Way Mirrors appeared to be a story of a young woman in love with the typical bad boy but readers soon find out that is all on the surface. The story follows the tale of Angela Delimar a young lady who shares a close bond with her mother, is in love with her incarcerated bad boy and does things she doesn’t care for the world to know. Through a series of events which include deep family secrets and breathtaking brutality Angela finds herself fighting for not only her life but for her sanity. She is in a race to find out the one woman who can expose the truth and help Angela heal but will the ever elusive stranger come from out of the shadows long enough?

I loved how well the story was…

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