Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #30 . . . 13 Trick Or Treat Don'ts (REDUX)

Yes, I posted this very same list of Trick or Treat Don'ts last year. But it was a fun list and it's not like anything has changed. So, if you and yours are out there doing any of this mess on Halloween, please stop (smile)>

1) DON'T send your kid out to knock on doors until you've first taught him/her proper Halloween etiquette. "Give me some candy!" and "Is that all you've got? are not acceptable subsititutes for "Trick or treat! and "Thank you."

2) If you're 13 years old or older and you're thinking about knocking on my door and asking for candy . . . DON'T . . . unless you're looking to be embarrassed or have the police called on your behind.

3) If you're thinking about letting little Ashley dress up like Peaches the stripper or Kitty the call girl and calling it a costume . . . DON'T! That mess is SO NOT cute.

4) If you forgot to buy candy, DON'T try to subsitute those stale mints and those dried up sticks of gum that have been sitting in the bottom of your purse or in that dusty bowl in the living room forever. That's just nasty . . . and trifling.

5) If you're one of those anti-sugar freaks, DON'T pass out toothbrushes and dental floss--sheesh, just turn out the lights and keep your durn door shut.

6) DON'T send your child up to my house clutching one of those big, green, 30-gallon sized trash bags, unless he/she is pretending to be a sanitation worker. It's Halloween folks, not garbage pick-up day.

7) If you're sitting in the house in your drawers, getting your drank on, when the door bell rings, do us all a favor and just DON'T answer it.

8) DON'T pass out candy you had left over from Valentine's Day or worse yet, last Halloween.

9) If you notice that my porch light and all of my house lights are OUT or I've got a big a$$ neon sign on my door that says, NO CANDY HERE!" DON'T bother to knock or ring my freaking doorbell.

10) If you see me out trick or treating with my kid, DON'T jump out the bushes and holler "Boo!" unless you're looking to get clubbed, maced or possibly even shanked. Mama DON'T even play that.

11) If your religious beliefs prevent you from participating in Halloween, DON'T spoil it for the others folks/heathens who do, by passing out prayer cards, verses from Revelations or communion wafers.

12) If there's a thunderstorm or a blizzard or the weather man says there's a tornado, hurricane or a freaking tsunami in the immediate vicinity, please DON'T show up at my door trying to trick or treat.

13) DON'T send your child out door-to-door on Halloween without a costume or at least some make-up. That's not trick or treating folks, that's just plain ole begging.

Okay, did I just about cover them all? Are there any others you'd like to add? (LOL)
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Vote For Change In 2008 . . .

I early voted yesterday. I live in North Carolina, one of those all-important "swing states" and folks here have been early voting since last week. Given all of the local new reports about the record turnout and having witnessed for myself the overflowing parking lot at the library when I intended to cast my vote, I knew to arrive early. So, even though the polling place didn't open until 11:00 am, I arrived at 9:30. It was good thinking on my part, because, sure enough, there was aleady a line of 15 or more people in front of me.

Patience is not one of my virtures. Most of my friends and family members know if they keep me waiting for too long without a damn good reason, I either leave or start (whatever it is) without their slow behinds. The last time I can remember waiting in a line with that many folks in front of me was for concerts tickets to see the R& B artist, Maxwell back in 2001. The main thing the Maxwell ticket line had going for it was constant and steady movement. In contraxt, the early voting line I joined yesterday at 9:30 was one that didn't lurch forward until 11:00.

Still, I resisted the urge to say, "later for this." No, I stood there with the others and waited, comforted by the fact that at least I'd arrived early enough to stand inside of the building as apposed to outside in the elements. My decision to endure the 1 and 1/2 hour wait was further affirmed when by 10am the line behind me was already outside and consisted of probably three times the number of people standing in front of me.

I first registered to vote shortly after my 18th birthday. Even though I haven't necessarily voted in every election since then, I've always taken the right to vote seriously. For me, it goes beyond "civic duty" or even the often touted, "folks died for your right to vote," line of reasoning.

I don't have any memories of the speeches, rallies, protests, marches, sit-ins, beatings and murders that took place during the Civil Rights movement. Even though I was living in Memphis, TN at the time, I was a preschooler when Martin Luther King was assassinated. All I can remember and never will forget from that chaotic and emotional period in our nation's history is the sight of my mother weeping . . . (see here for the full story)

But what I do know and fully appreciate is my history--my own personal history . . . my family's history . . . United States history as well as the history of African Americans in these United States. And I know it hasn't all been pretty and triumphant or the crystal stair (smile) that some might have us believe. There has been, on the other hand, plenty of inexcusable, unwarranted and unacknowledged horror, pain, struggle, poverty, depravation and inequality, the kind of wich doesn't necessarily fill me with pride for my country or fellow citizens.

Just this past weekend, a suspicious event at one of the local polling sites, prompted my husband and I talk to talk to our school-age son about the historic suppression of the Black vote, the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and the election tampering and tomfoolery that's occured in recent years in places like Ohio and Florida.

So, if you're waiting for me to say, "It doesn't matter who you vote for, as long as you vote," it ain't gonna happened (smile). Sorry, just because something is the nice, polite, politcally correct thing to say, doesn't make it a truth I'm willing to buy into. Nope, for me, the truth is, it does matter, this year more than ever. Our nation seems to be at a crossroads and I, for one, am fearful of what lurks at the end of the narrow and treacherous path we've been plodding and stumbling along for the past eight years . . . if not, all of my life and then some.

That's one of the main reasons why, yesterday, I was so willing and eager to wait in an unmoving line for however long it took to cast my vote . . . my vote for change. And if you really want to know the truth, some of us have been standing in this line for generations. When the time finally came for me to press that lever, don't think I didn't feel the presence of all those who dreamed of such a moment, but never lived to see it, standing right there beside me.

And later that evening, when my son arrived home from school and the first thing out of his mouth when he burst through the door was, "Mom, did you get to early vote?!" not only did his interest and enthusiasm make me smile, it made me view my relatively small sacrifice within the larger context of generations to come.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #29 . . . 13 Interesting Facts & Juicy Tidbits from THE LEGS ARE THE LAST TO GO (by Diahann Carroll) . . .

Just about everyone knows Diahann Carroll, right? The African American actress who played Corey Baker's mom in the groundbreaking '60's television series Julia? Since that time Ms. Carroll has played quite a few other memorable tv "mom roles," among them Whitley's mom in A Different World and Preston Burke's mom in Grey's Anatomy. One of my favorite Diahann Carroll "mom roles" took place on the big screen when she played opposite James Earl Jones, in the '70s movie classic, Claudine. Surprising enough, the beautiful and talented Ms. Carroll also managed to pull off playing a b!tch, as Dominique Deveraux in the '80s tv series Dynasty.

I'm more than mid-way through Diahann Carroll's new memoir, The Legs Are The Last To Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying and Other Things I Learned The Hard Way, and I thought it might be both fun and somewhat englighting to share some of what I've discovered about her from my reading.

1) She's 73 years old.

2) She was born Carol Diann Johnson.

3) She considered giving the following title to her latest book--Too Old To Give A Damn: Things I Never Could Have Said While Working In Hollywood.

4) She was 19 when she starred in her first movie, Carmen Jones (she played one of Carmen's sidekicks).

5) Her first marriage was to Monte Kay, a man 17 years her senior and whose dark coloring and curly hair initially led Ms. Carroll to assume that he was African American, rather than Jewish.

6) Hal Kanter, the creator of Julia, wasn't sure Ms. Carroll was right for the role. He thought her a bit too worldly and glamorous.

7) She had a tumultuous 9 year affair with Sidney Poitier, which helped wreck her marriage to Monte Kay.

8) She admits to having had plastic surgery.

9) She admits to having undergone "medically guided" LSD therapy."

10) She lip-syched "Summertime" in the movie version of Porgy and Bess and while she loved the music in the movie, she despised its portrayal of African Americans.

11) She was once engaged to David Frost.

12) She was married to Vic Damone for 10 years.

13) In this book, Ms. Carroll comes off as very much "the diva" and a bit of a drama queen, but one with a truly wonderful sense of humor and grace about herself and her less than perfect past.

While I'm not yet finished with The Legs are The Last To Go, I'm already eager to go back and read the book Diahann Carroll penned in the '80s about her life, if ony to see what I missed (smile). Did you discover anything about Ms. Carroll that you didn't already know. Do you know anything about Ms. Carroll that you'd like to share?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Parameters of Blackness: Too Black vs. Not Black Enough . . .

I bet I'm not the only one who has ever wondered what makes something or someone too Black as apposed to not Black enough. Come on, don't act like y'all don't know what I'm talking about? Okay, wait . . . does the use of a word like y'all mark me as Black? Southern? Ignorant and uneducated? Are any (or perhaps, all) of the aforementioned synonymous? In some people's book, apparently so.

Okay, so what if I make a practice of always speaking and writing in grammatically correct English. Will it have an impact on my DNA? The melanin in my skin? My cultural identity? Will it somehow make me less Black?

One of my best friends, a woman who has known me since my freshman year in college has this peculiar habit of laughing at something I've said and then telling me, "Girl, you so Black!" Hmm, so what exactly does that mean? And when compared to whom, I wonder?

Every few years, I have this habit of giving my hair a break from chemical relaxers and wearing my tresses au natural. In case you're wondering, yes, I am currently in the middle of one of those stages. But I've long been fascinated by what other Black folks read into both this practice as well as the appearance of my hair in its natural, unrelaxed and unstraightened state.

I remember being in a conversation with a co-worker once and her making a comment that I'm sure a number of Black & White folks alike would have deemed politically incorrect. After making the remark, my co-worker looked over at me (and my naturally nappy head) and said something along the lines of, "I guess that means my Black card is gonna have to be revoked, huh?" I grinned back at her and said, "What? Did you miss the memo? Naw girl, see, I'm not even in charge of that this year."

The truly funny thing is--just as soon as somebody labels me "too Black" for one reason or another, someone else is quick to step forward and suggest I'm somehow not quite Black enough.

I never will forget the time I was talking and laughing with one of my Black male co-workers when he up and said, "You must be married to a White guy." I was like, "What? Huh? Where in the heck did that come from?" By the same token, my spouse (who is indeed, very much an African American man) tells me his co-workers (the ones who've never met or seen me in person) are in the habit of assuming he's married to a White woman.

Okay, so obviously, I'm in a no win situation here (LOL). But you know what I've decided? Just as folks have a God-given right to think whatever the hell they please about me and mine, as long as I know who the hell I am, it's all good (smile).

Still, I'd very much like to know from all of those who have deemed themselves the arbitrators of such--what sorts of things define Blackness? I'm saying, is there like a list or something? If so, what sorts of things are on it?

--Whether or not one can get down with a plate of collard greens and neckbones?

--Whether or not one grew up in the ghetto, in the projects or in the hood drinking red Kool-Aid and eating fried bologna sandwiches?

--Being able to rap, dance, carry a tune, play Bid-Whist and sing Old Negro spirituals?

--Belonging to a church where folks shout and speak in tongues?

--Being sexually promiscuous? Being athletically gifted?

--Wearing locs? Braids? Sagging pants?

--Having any (or all) of the following in your immediate family--a crack head, a pimp, a gang-banger, a stripper, a two-bit ho . . .

--Being loud, ill-mannered, always ready to fight and or cuss somebody out?

--Being a high school drop-out? Having a criminal record? Being on welfare? Having five children by five different partners?

Do any (or all) of the aforementioned fit into your definition of Blackness? If so, why? If someone who wasn't Black described African Americans exclusively in those terms would you or would you not be offended? Is there a difference between embracing a positive stereotype and embracing a negative one? What qualifies one to decide who's too Black and who isn't quite Black enough?

To Be Continued . . .

But feel free to comment now, if you'd like (smile).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #28 . . . 13 TV Shows I'm Embarrassed to Admit I Watch . . .

I don't watch a lot of television. Never have. But these days, I'm watching even less than in previous years. Frankly, most of the stuff that makes it on the tube either bores me or I find insulting. Yes, I am hard to please and most of the shows I do like, don't stay on for very long and/or a good number of folks find rather odd. Hey, such is life.

The only NEW prime-time series that currently interests me is Life On Mars. It's different enough to hold my attention, though I'm not sure for how long. At the present, the only prime-time series I watch with any degree of faithfulness, outside of NBC's Nightly News, is Brothers and Sisters. Like I already admitted, I'm weird like that (smile).

Even though I don't have any problems owning up to the fact that I enjoy a number of news programs, a variety of music specials and documentaries, as well as shows like HBO's Real Sports and The Wire, the following list is composed of TV shows I'm ashamed to admit, I have actually been known to sit down and watch from beginning to end. Sure, I watch them, but there's only one in the bunch that really has me hooked . . .

1) The First 48: I just started watching this over the summer. So all of the repeats are new to me. I'm not so sure why it fascinates me, other than the fact that I've been able to gain some insights into the minds of criminals and detectives. Perhaps this is research for some future novel? (smile) And of course, I especially enjoy the episodes filmed in Memphis. Gotta give it for the homefolk in the Dirty South.

2) Jon & Kate Plus Eight: Every time my son and I sit down to watch this show, the hubby leaves the room. He doesn't have to worrry, my dreams of having 4-5 kids have long since passed. Besides, watching this crew will most definitely make you think twice about having additional children.

3) Blues Clues: Well, only the reruns featuring my boy, Steve, mind you. This is one of those back down memory lane sorts of things. Blues Clues was the first show I allowed my son to watch as a preschooler.

4) Bridezilla: How these women, (particularly the ones who are tore up, from the floor up, as we used to say back in the day) get away with the crap they pull both amazes and amuses me.

5) The King of Queens: The hubby got me hooked on this over the summer after he talked me into watching an episode with him. Even though I do find the show funny and very well-written, something tells me the hubby identifies just a wee too much with that nit-wit Doug.

6) Divorce Court: While I'll watch any of them, I prefer the reruns with Judge Mabelean. She cracks me up.

7) Real Sex: What can I say, other than it appeals to my inner freak (LOL)?

8) Soul Train: I doubt this one comes as any real surprise. The fact that I'm old school has been well established.

9) Joel Osteen: "Don't drink the Kool-Aid!" is what I used to whisper at my hubby whenever I'd catch him watching a Joel Osteen broadcast. But one day, I sat down and listened for a minute and even though I'm still a little leery of dude's smile, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

10) Inside Edition: Mainly, I watch this show in order to get my entertainment news and because I'm generally too lazy to get up after the evening news goes off.

11) Buy Me: Since in recent years it always seems like I'm in the process of either buying or selling a house, this show appeals to me.

12) Funniest Home Videos: Just call me a sucker for silly cat, dog and baby videos.

13) Oprah: It's only been in recent years that I've become ashamed of being such a hardcore Oprah fan. But yes, I've watched her show ever since it hit the airwaves One of the best things about living in Charlotte is that Opie's show is repeated in the evenings, so I don't ever have to worry about having to record or miss a show. But don't worry, you'll never catch me on one of her "favorite things" give-away specials screaming like an idiot. That's so uncool (LOL). I also don't typcially don't bother to watch the show when she's doing her in-depth celebrity interviews. Sorry, celebrities just aren't my thing, unless, of course, we're talking about somebody like, PRINCE!

So what shows do you watch that might surprise those who THINK they know you?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Quotes That Make You Go, "Hmm . . . "

I'd like to thank one of my Old School Mix visitors and Goodreads Friends, Damika, for introducing me to the following quote by Quincy Jones:

"The tradgedy of Tupac is that his untimely passing is representative of too many young Black men in this country . . . If we had lost Oprah Winfrey at 25, we would have lost a relatively unknown, local market TV anchorwoman. If we had lost Malcolm X at 25, we would have lost a hustler named Detroit Red. And if I had left the world at 25, we would have lost a big-band trumpet player and aspiring composer--just a sliver of my eventual life potential" (Quincy Jones)

Doesn't that make you think? Not just about the lives of talented celebrities like Pac or Oprah, but ordinary folk, like yourself? We live in a society that appears to worship youth, money, popularity and little else and personally, I think that's unfortunate. Tupac was young, good-looking, popular, talented and doing better than most of us ever will financially, but we'll never know what else he could have been or accomplished. We'll never know his true potential or genius.

Isn't the same true for any us? Had you died at age 25 how might it have impacted the lives of the folks nearest and dearest to you? Moreover, what might you NOT have accomplished, seen to fruition or watched come to pass? What lessons or opportunities migh you have missed had you died at 25? Or for those one or two of you who have yet to reach that grand ole age (smile), what if your time had come at age 19?

A few of the things I would have missed had I breathed my last breath at age 25 include:

*not being able to see my still healthy, alert and funny grandfather live well into his '90s;

*being married to my college sweetheart for more years that I care to announce on this blog (smile)

*bringing another life into the world and watching him grow into the smart, handsome and vibrant young man that he is today;

*publishing my first newspaper article, my first magazine article, my first short story and my first novel;

*helping one of my oldest and dearest friends through the end of her 17 year marriage;

*accompanying my husband through the removal of a cyst from his brain;

*witnessing the joy and delight my parents take in being grandparents.

What about you? What sort of life enriching experiences might you have missed had you departed this world at 25? What gifts or talents might you have missed out on sharing with the rest of the world?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #27 . . . 13 Bad News Neighbor Types . . .

Note: I posted this last week, but when the date on the Thursday Thirteen web site never changed, I pulled the post. Hopefully, all will go well this week (smile). Comments are welcome!

Since I've been an adult, I've lived in three homes and six different apartments and/or townhomes. At one point, we were moving around so much, my folks started calling me and the hubby the gypsies. So, I've lived in a lot of different neighborhoods and had both the pleasure and the displeasure of getting to know a variety of neighbors. The following are some of the more . . . memorable.

1) The Loud Music Lovers--All right! If I have to hear the theme to the Beverly Hillbillies and/or Working Nine To Five, on blast one more time . . .

2) The Anti-Lawn Care Crew--You mean to tell me there are six of y'all living over there and don't none of y'all know how to use a lawnmower!?

3) The Dope Fiends--When it comes to the neighborhood crack house, at least you know where it is. But as the hubby likes to say, the bad thing about living next door to a meth-lab is that you usually don't know that sucker is there until it blows up.

4) The Cat Lady and/or the Dog Man--Umm, why is it that the nice ole lady who lives with the 15 cats always wants to bring you home-made goodies?

5) The Good Time Gal--Look, if you're skanky enough to sit out on your patio in the wee hours of the morning, boo-hooing into your beer about all the men you done did or let do ya (below my bedroom window, no less) don't get mad if my hubby yanks up the window and yells down for you to pipe down and take your stank butt to bed. Personally, I'da told you to wash first, but that's just me.

6) The Nosey-Butt--Why is it that every time I break out my barbecue grill or I'm getting ready to add something to my landscaping or I'm talking to a contractor, you've got to bring your nosey-butt over and see what's up?

7) The Thief--My uncle shared this one with me. He said one night his shed got broken into and some of his lawn equipment was stolen. A couple of days later, he hears what sounds like HIS lawn mower. (Hey, he swears he knows what his lawn mower sounds like). Anyway, he peeps over the fence and spies the neighbor, the one who belongs to the Anti-Lawn Care Crew, out there cutting his grass with what looks like my uncle's stolen lawn mower.

8) The Broke Down Car Bunch--Dag man, whatcha doing over there, running a chop shop? Can't you do something about all those rusted out cars and engines you've got in your yard sitting up on bricks, providing shelters and playgrounds for cats and rodents?

9) The Chain Smoker--Tell me this, how is it that you can keep your car so spic and span, I'm saying, be outside bright and early on a Sunday morning washing that bad boy, but you've got so many durn cigarette butts in your yard, it looks like two inches worth of accumulated snow and it's the middle of July?

10) The Folks Who Fight--Okay, here's a thought, why don't y'all find yourselves a boxing ring or sign up to be guests on The Jerry Springer Show and get that mess out of your systems? A relative once told me, one of his neighbors called the woman he was living with out of her name so often, he (my relative) just knew the couple's poor kid was gonna grow up thinking his mama's name was either bit@h or ho'.

11) The Lovers--Okay, enough with the bedroom gymnastics already! If you must got at it like elk, why not get rid of the loose head board and the old box springs or better yet, just toss the mattresses on the floor so I don't have to hear all of that racket?

12) The Folks With The Bad-A$$ Kids--To the parents, care-takers and or guardians of the bad-a$$ kids. Look, I know it's hard. So why not just pack your bags and let them have the house? Hell, they're tearing it down around you anyway.

13) The Nut-Case--True story. We once lived next door to a fool who got a kick out of feeding the neighborhood raccoons. He said he found it therapeutic. Okay, fine. The only problem was after eating their fill on Mr. Nut Case's balcony, the nasty-a$$ critters would come over and take a crap on ours. When we asked Mr. Nut Case to stop, he said we were being mean and kept right at it. When we complained to management, Mr. Nut Case accused us of putting sugar in his gas tank. After the hubby started talking about getting a gun, I agreed it was time to move.

Okay, so who lives in your neighborhood? (LOL) Have you ever have to deal with any characters like these?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Few Thoughts On . . . The "Black" Bookstore Section Debate . . .

Okay, let me just confess up front, that I've deliberately avoided sharing my views on this "hot topic" for reasons which, if you continue reading, will become readily apparent (smile).

Basically, I view the Black book store section as a marketing strategy that has long worked in favor of African American authors and readers of our work. As the story I shared in a previous post suggests (See Here), I enjoy both browsing in bookstores and reading the work of African American authors. The Black bookstore section makes it easier for me to find my favorites as well as discover work by authors with whom I'm less familiar.

While I can understand why some might feel this strategy has out-lived its usefulness, I'm not so sure shelving all of our books alongside the books of White & Other mainstream authors is necessarily the Best or the Only solution to what some folks in recent years have come to view as a Problem. Certainly, if there is a section in the bookstore set aside for mystery, then African American writers of mystery ought to be in that section. The same, I think, should be true of romance, sci-fi and other such well-defined genres.

But I have serious doubts about the notion of there being a financial benefit to all of our books being shelved in with the general population. I think for many African American authors, especially new and lesser known ones, the exact opposite would be true. Why do I say that? Well, for one, folks like me, who like to browse, would be doing a whole lot less of it. If you're a debut author and your book is shelved in among the millions of other books in the store, chances are, I'm not gonna stumble upon you.

As a debut author myself, what I want more than anything when it comes to bookstores is VISIBILITY. That means, number one, I want to be IN the bookstore, which can be a battle itself, even if one is traditionally published. (Believe me, I could tell you some interesting/horror stories, not just about the chains, but the smaller "Black" bookstores too). And number two, I want to be some place where folks, who are interested, or just might be, can readily find me.

And to those who might ask, "Well, don't you see the importance of courting a non-Black readership, too?" my response, "What makes you think I don't?" (smile). I value ALL of my readers and I'm open to sharing my work and discussing it with any and everyone. Just yesterday, a friend, who just so happens to be Indian (from India) called and told me how much fun she had discussing my book with a friend of hers. At my last bookstore signing, the only copies of After The Dance I sold were to White women. And get this, about a month or so ago, a predominately White bible study group read and discussed my work (LOL). Yes, there is quite a story behind that last example and no, my book isn't Christian fiction.

What I've discovered is that the people who truly want to read my book will . . . and oddly enough, they seem to know how and where to find it--whether in the bookstore or elsewhere (smile). Yes, I am being somewhat sarcastic, but that's only because I've begun to sense that underlying SOME of the current angst about the African American bookstore section is a desire to stamp certain forms of African American literature as "less than." For the record, I don't think my work will be tainted if it sits on a shelf next to the latest street lit author, any more than I believe it will be elevated somehow if it sits on the shelf alongside a book by Morrison or Atwood. Nor do I view the Black bookstore section, as so many others apparently do, as some sort of waste-land or rat and roach infested ghetto. Sorry, I just don't.

Yes, there is plenty of what I'd call garbage out there, not just in the Black book store section, hell, all over the dang bookstore. But that's the beauty of life and being able to make choices. As I've stated elsewhere in the Old School Mix, one person's 10 day old cabbage is quite often another's manna from heaven. So, no, I don't really have any problems with my work being shelved in the "Black" section of the bookstore.

Now, on the other hand, what I don't care for so much is all of our books being labeled, "urban." I'm sure for some, this is the same issue, but for me, it's a trickier matter of semantics. Not every book written by a Black author is necessarily "urban" in either tone or feel or subject matter. I have a friend who writes historical fiction, primarily from the Civil War period and recently while wandering through the bookstore, I saw a stack of his books on a table marked, "Urban fiction." Clearly, my friend's work is anything but "urban."

But you wanna know some even bigger pet peeves of mine? Bookstores owned by Black folks who offer little beyond street lit and erotica and mainstream publishers who have apparently decided that the aforementioned are ALL we read. Now, until some folks are willing to discuss those kinds of issues in an open, honest and zealous fashion, there's not a whole lot more I care to say about the buying, selling and marketing of books by African American authors . . .