National Black Book Festival

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Gonna Rise and Fly!! I hope.


NUMBER 121
Back from a very long commercial break, let’s return to “Part Time Job at the Asylum,” before I get to my fantastic volunteer assignment at the SC Book Festival in Columbia, SC and so many other happenings over the past three weeks.  
If you remember Gail, who was moved up the ladder a notch after Leslie was fired to Shift Manager, (If I did not bring that up earlier in my blog, my bad, I will update you on that later!), she told me that Kat, the manager, tried to get her fired because she was not updating the daily books and did not call in that Tuesday. She tells me she did not care because she knew something had been up since Kat hired Betty and Doug.  She always felt something was not right when those two were hired.  Kat did not hang out with anyone on the job, but all of a sudden, she was hanging out with Betty and they were caught whispering and laughing together.  Also, it bothered her that Kat hired more people when there really was not a need.  I did meet one new person hired, a young black kid name Rodney on my following Saturday, but by the next Saturday of my shift, (I only work Saturday and Sunday), he did not call in and did not return.  Supposedly, he wanted more hours and was looking for another job.  Did not have one to go to, but was living with his mother, girlfriend and their baby.  Since I started in February of last year, out of 17 staff, 7 people were either fired or just left after one or two weeks.  Now when I meet a new employee, I hide in the back of my mind, “how long are they going to be here?”  “How long?”
I told Gail, “what did you expect,” you and Cynthia (her sister who also came down from New Jersey with one baby and expecting another; by two different men.  One of which is in jail who continues to call her at work asking for money, but that’s another story to tell), did not listen to me when I told them to get your act together and move forward with passing their online tests to move up in management.”  

Both complained that the computer was always down at work and they did not have the time to go to the local library.  They were too busy with their babies and such.  Now the crap is coming back to haunt them and it’s only a matter of time.  A week ago, the online training/management sessions were discontinued.  They think they are OK, but my gut tells me differently.  
When you apply for a job at this company and receive an offer, you have to go online and take the required testing.  Either for a cashier, stock or management.  It’s pretty easy (I took the cashier.  Was not in all of hell and heaven interested in managing nobody or nothing) and simple since the answers are provided, but it was discontinued and I don’t actually know why, but once again, my gut is telling me something different.
Gail came back and stated, “yeah, you’re right, but it’s wrong of Kat to do that.”  “Oh, yeah, I said, whose the manager, you or her?” she is and she can do whatever she wants.”  Unfortunately and fortunately, when Kat submitted the paperwork to fire Gail, the owners rejected it.  Writing back that you cannot fire someone when another staff member called and informed you that Gail was admitted to the emergency ward.  
I was gone only one week and every time I return to the “asylum” someone has been fired or quit and personnel issues are off the chain.  I can’t help but laugh sometimes because these are not all young people.  The ages are 19 to 50, and they still have not learned a damn thing, not one damn thing.  Gail was not fired and started applying for other jobs.  Got a good interview with another store, but her car broke down.  I remember telling her to please go to a real car dealership and not some on the road dealer, but she did, and they are giving her hell with the car.  She will be paying for that car for years and years to come.  She lost out of the job, but I’m sure she will try again.  Maybe if she get’s her teeth fixed, they do have free dental for people on medicaid/food stamps, but she rather deal with boy friend in New Jersey who has a wife, girl friend in New Jersey, who is a psycho .  Oh, my bag, did I mention that she is bi?  with another girl friend here.  Now that one scares me.  She is hard core with the baggy pants hanging down from her but, cut to the bone hair style and work in construction with the worse teeth I have every seen.  Does anyone in this state go to the Dentist?  Let's get to some books:
I do not always read and buy books by African Americans, I buy every type there is.  You never know what you will find and I usually read 3 to 5 books at a time, it keeps my hunger down, and one in particular which I’m enjoy so much is ROBERT K. MASSIE - CATHERINE THE GREAT: PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN - $17.99 - - My major in college was history, specifically, Roman history and since I heard about this book on my New York Times Book Review podcast and it mentioned how much she loved books, reading, and her communication with the most famous literary figures of all time: Voltaire, Frederick the Great, Marie Antoinette and the American John Paul Jones.  I knew, that's my kind of book.

I have read to the point of her “non-loving and feeling not as important as a she should be seen and admired, mother.  An impending marriage to, of course it was arranged due to the political climate, Grand Duke Peter, heir to the Russian throne, who lost his mother and father and left in care with servants and a very nasty nutty teacher.  Massie’s writing catches you by the way he writes each chapter of a particular time in her life then closes the same chapter by connecting the dots.  Fascinating.  I did not know much about Peter the Great or many of the other Russians players, but I’m learning now.  This book also, so far, got suspense and I tell you, it’s like reading a murder/history/love story.  All rolled into one.  

JOSEPH F. GIRZONE - THE HOMELESS BISHOP - $9.22 -
I found this in the library while volunteering and I asked the guy about this book who is always in there reading.  I thought he was homeless, but found later that he lives in one of those senior shelters.  I liked him from the beginning and he is always telling me all the time about what he is reading and have read, as well as bring me new authors to read.  He recommended this book and I liked it.  A story about the treatment from the Catholic Church and very rich and snooty people who look down on others and how invisible these people are to them.  Marty saw such a homeless person (Charlie) in church one Sunday and saw the wretched treatment he received.  Yes, he smelled badly and wore tattered clothes, but the bad treatment he received from others in the church made him ask if he is like that.  He followed him after services and over the course of time, realized that this man was smart, giving of himself to total strangers and actually following Christ lead.  I know how it feels to be treated so differently or badly because you don’t have enough money or finer things.   This book, even if you are not Catholic, will have you think again, don’t judge a book or person by it’s cover.  God is good in his own time and way.  It also has a great ending that you will love.

Got to get one in for Black History Year
TOURE` - WHO’S AFRAID OF POST-BLACKNESS? - $11.99 - First I had to pull out my dictionary to read Erick Jerome Dyson’s forward, but the book did not come across as I expected.  What he is saying in essence is to stop trying to be black, but be yourself.  Stop worrying about people stating to you that you talk white, who gives a damn.  Stop worrying about what people say when you do something that is not “black.”  I hate when people tell me, “you are the only black person at this function, too bad.”  No, too bad for you.  You’re the one sitting down and complaining about what “white people” are doing instead of doing something yourself.  
His book is asking you “what is black” and do you have to be “black” to do the things you want to do.  On on particular chapter, “How to Build More Baracks” It was great that Obama was elected.  We would be proud and help the man, not knock him down because he is “black” and grew up with some resemblance of common sense and intelligent.  We should be raising our kids with that same resemblance of common sense and intelligent.  He did not rise up by himself.  But on the other hand, this book does not help the lower class blacks who did not have someone to push them.  Maybe I’m off the wrong track, but I didn’t get it.  I’m black and proud and not afraid of any Post-Blackness.  I thought the book was OK, but read Monique A. Williams review, maybe she got it right and I’m just missing something:
“Dr. Carter G Woodson's "The Mis-education of the Negro," Dr. Frances Cress Welsing's "The Isis Papers," and Elijah Muhammad's "Message to the Black Man in America" are standards in African American studies. I've read these books and came to realize and recognize the plight of the Black man and woman in America. I learned that white supremacy/racism is as real as leftover lasagna. Unfortunately, reading these books did not give me a better understanding of myself because they do not describe my experience. These books provide insight into someone else's Blackness and have, in various ways, made me feel far removed from what is deemed a genuine and authentic Black experience. However, Toure's "Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?" articulates my heart's understanding, a reflection of my own journey, my own walk in the magical forest of Blackness.
Post-Blackness suggests that we are in an era where, if there are 40 million Blacks, there are 40 million ways to be Black. Toure' says "Post-Black is not a box, it's an unbox. It opens the door to everything. It's open-ended and open-source and endlessly customizable." "Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?" delves into this theme, but is not littered with annoying factoids and shady statistics. It instead is a collection of pensive prompts and provocative posits that will inspire intense conversation. Toure's tome becomes the catalyst for our own catharsis, the mirror with which to examine our personal role in Blackness. He weaves together indisputable facts with his own personal anecdotes as well as those of 105 revered Black thinkers and professionals. Many of the personal accounts brought me to tears as we see how far we are from Post-Racial and how the current Post-Blackness is a harbinger to such a time. Jesse Jackson, in particular, contributed powerful musings.
A highlight of the book is "Chapter Three: The Rise and Fall of a Post-Black King" where Toure' intellectualizes "Chappelle's Show." It's truly a delight to read his analysis on the well-loved and familiar segments in such detail as it relates to Post-Blackness and offers a thorough examination into the work of one of the most brilliant philosophers of our time.
Though I do not consider myself as an Obama fan, the chapter "How to Build More Baracks" was spot on in its characterization of the man who became the first Black President of the United States. Without subscribing to the Illuminati/Boule' or One World Order theories, Toure' offers some of the more obvious reasons for Obama's rise to the highest seat of the land while detailing the nuances of Obama's movements that are similar to those of other high powered Blacks before him. This section is a necessary read for all school teachers and parents in helping to mold Black children into world leaders.
"We are Quintessential Americans" felt a little heavy on jingoism, so I was reluctant in conceding that yes, we are. These passages describe quite a love-hate relationship while making no excuses for racism, instead empathizing and wiping away tears with each empowering word. I completed it with a better understanding of how we can say something like "I'm from Brooklyn, but I'm not American." It's been said that a cat born in the oven is not muffins, but is a kitten, yet those of us groomed in America cannot separate our Black consciousness from our environment as if we're raised in the vacuum.
"Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?" is an excellent guidebook in learning how to effectively toe the line between the conventional Pro-Black militancy and current, more progressive and less limiting Blackness, i.e. Post-Blackness. Toure almost betrays the "tokens," exposing the tricks of the trade employed by the easily assimilating Blacks, the "browning sauce Blacks" who can fit in every dish injecting flavor without changing the environment's composition. This is an important read for detractors as the uber-Black will want to pick apart the notion of post-Blackness with the veracity of vultures on hyena. Toure' is more than ready for their attacks.
But "Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?" best serves those like me who have had to justify, explain, reason, or excuse our behavior to the Blackness Police time and again. It's of great comfort to the "Oreos," particularly as Toure' and his contributing sources explore the infamous "talking white" phenomenon plaguing our community with such clarity and honesty that those who have used this reference will be embarrassed at the notion. This book serves as commiseration for those of us who were post-Black before there was a Black President. "Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?" puts my open-minded, highly confident take-over-the-world ideals of childhood into perspective, before being jaded by the "discovery" of my Blackness. This book was written for me. Maybe you can relate. If not, pick up a copy to better understand why you don't.”