Black Jeopardy

Published March 31, 2014 by Sandee

I hate that SNL “Black Jeopardy” skit. Why do people perpetuate stereotypes of themselves? I saw an Asian comedian go along with the idea that they are bad drivers, and do a parody of himself by squinting his eyes. White comedians happily go along with the myth that they can’t dance. These examples aren’t true for all of the people in these respective groups, but some people embrace these traits as a mainstream way of identifying themselves.

This comedy is lazy and perpetuates stupidity. And black people definitely get the short end of the stick in stereotypes. But I don’t mind a dig in the area of a stereotype if it’s clever. Maybe black people embrace stereotypes more readily, because for the most part our national identify began in the American South during slavery, so when we perpetuate the stereotype ourselves, it might help us feel more connected, by unifying our identity. I am not ashamed of my history, but you have to be clever about making a parody out of this culture.

There is a lot to imply that black people are stupid in that SNL “Black Jeopardy” skit. The comedians in it joke that we only have $20 in our bank accounts. The skit also illustrates that we don’t respect that we should speak the language properly. Kenan Thompson and Sasheer Zamata, who participated in this skit, help undermine the culture. This lays groundwork for younger black people who don’t have strong role models to use this as an example.

When you portray these ideas in the media, they get branded into our brains. And the stereotype in some cases becomes actualized.

I rarely use the word racist. Of course black people should continue to fight injustice, etc. But while I know that racism coming from the group that holds more power is more pernicious, I think everyone is racist. If black people want to control racism, we need to admit when we’re being racist, and promote the same values we want white people to have. And we need to stop playing tit for tat, that game of, ‘They do it to us, so we should do it to them’.

I’ve seen a few stupid and racist black stand-up comedians. That Wayans Brothers movie, “White Girls” was racist. Too bad, because I think the Wayans Brothers are funny and talented. Nick Cannon doing “white face” was racist. It all illustrates a double standard. Why should some white people stop doing what they’re doing when they insult us, when we do the same thing?

We should all have the balls to stand up for the qualities of decency and mutual respect.

I don’t fling my racism accusations around loosely. But, SNL is racist. I enjoyed SNL for years. The talent on the show was brilliant. I didn’t care that there were few black people on the show. I close myself off from the world when I don’t partake of something just because there aren’t any black people involved. It’s dumb.

However, when I saw that almost half of their negative reports on that comedic news segment included black celebrities, while there were only a couple of black people on the show, it didn’t sit right with me. Then I had read how Ellen Cleghorne, one of the few black women on the show, had problems with the white cast, and it made me uncomfortable, though I don’t know the story behind it. There were also other skits that didn’t portray black people positively.

I can take a joke and laugh at myself. I have heard white comedians make fun of black people and have laughed, but I began to see SNL in a different light after this, and stopped watching it. It’s not funny anymore to me anyway.

Now in the media, SNL made this huge deal about hiring this black woman, the first one since Ellen Cleghorne, in over two decades. Sasheer Zamata wasn’t even funny to me, by the way. She’s in that horrible “Stepin Fetchit” styled spoof on “Black Jeopardy.” Thanks for taking it back 100 years SNL. I don’t know why Kenan Thompson and Sasheer Zamata would even “co-sign” on this bullshit.

I know several black doctors. I know black scientists, stockbrokers, RNs, business owners, lawyers, homeowners. The first millionaire I ever met was black. Have any of you heard of The Black Wall Street in Oklahoma? While I’m no great proponent of capitalism, I do want to celebrate intellectual power.

I’m tired of seeing the athlete, musician, and singer/celebrity held up as a role model in the black community. Why not the scientist or mathematician? My nephew is in a minority of black kids in his class and his teacher says that he excels in math. His father is an engineer. And though he’s from sub-Sahara Africa, he doesn’t like it when it’s too hot. So that blows that stereotype out of the water.

Why can’t we embrace this instead of embracing big dicks and dancing. I know white people who dance much better than blacks, and I know first hand that all black men don’t have big dicks. It’s a myth. I think it’s dumb to embrace these stereotypes. ‘Yeah, I have a big dick and I can dance, but I can barely read and don’t have any money in the bank.’ It’s also mythology that we can’t swim, and that we all like watermelon and fried chicken. But thanks to the SNL skit, we can all help to keep these myths alive.

Therapy

Published March 25, 2014 by Sandee

Headbangers

Auntie Sandee has to find a death metal concert. The last concert I went to was a while ago on 14th Street in Manhattan. It was a theater that had auditorium seats sweeping upward, stadium style. At the lower level were the stage and the floor where the boys and girls were slam dancing – is that what they call it? My friend and I sat up up up, away from that shit with other oldsters – I respect old people who aren’t afraid of liking what they like in public.

It was cool looking down at the slam dancers from that level. They looked like Satan’s minions. It’s interesting that some of these bands are middle-aged while the audience is mostly youngsters. This was an Obituary concert. There were two bands I also knew who opened for them, Goatwhore and Krisiun.

Between sets the audio system played the same barrage of death metal groups I have on Pandora. I was in my element. When Obituary came on, fuck that shit, my friend and I ran down the stairs and hit the floor. I screamed my ass off, “Fuuck meeeeeeee!!”

Two days later — whip lash. Dummy me didn’t moderate my head banging. I wondered why the oldsters in the stadium seats seemed only to bang their heads just here and there. They knew better. Every time I think I might outgrow the music, no.

One day last week I was depressed, angry, anxious. I put the music on and it went away. I have it on as I’m writing this. It’s therapeutic. I have anger issues. When I went to that show I was home. So I need to find another concert. I can’t be in my apartment screaming like this and banging my feet on the floor. The concert has to be in the city though. If I had a band it would be this kind of band. I can’t growl, but I think my sister can. She’s young and pretty. She could front it.

At the end of that last show I went to they played Ol’ Dirty Bastard through the sound system – I loved that they crossed two extreme genres like that:

Vampire Cigarettes

Published March 20, 2014 by Sandee

Smoking

There was this pretty girl who starred in a vampire movie that we made in our high school film class. I was in that film too, sort of. I was the clapboard girl, the take one/take two person. Usually these people aren’t on screen, but the joke was on me. I learned later in a big way how much of a cow I look like when I chew gum.

The day the vampire movie screened in the school’s auditorium, I discovered that they had included me in the footage. My huge face took over the screen while I clapped that board, fiercely chewing, blasé as hell. The audience was hysterical. It was comic relief in intervals throughout the film. I guess the teacher thought it would be funny to include it. Yah, thanks pal!

Back then I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day – I smoked, chewed gum, suffered angst…  I bummed cigarettes from the vampire star of that movie sometimes. “How much do you smoke,” I asked her. “Two packs,” she said. “Two packs?!” A pack was too much, but two packs seemed over the top, especially for someone so young. We were 16, 17 years old. I had an uncle who smoked a carton a day, but he was much older and had mental illness. It probably gave him some kind of relief. At my exclamation, the girl explained that it was because she gave most of her cigarettes away.

Really?

That sticks with me to this day because it was so generous of her. Maybe that’s why she was the star of the film and I was just the cow chewing gum clapping the board. There were other kids I had grown up with who were generous, thoughtfully buying x-mas gifts for friends, nicely wrapped bottles of perfume, gift bags with trinkets of jewelry in them.

I admired this behavior. But gifts, for other kids? Not me. I probably did buy gifts for friends but only because I felt pressured. These other kids seemed to be doing it freely.

My spirit has shifted, I’m pleased to say. And I realize that giving isn’t just about material things, it’s about giving time, effort, presence. It takes me out of myself, especially when I get too self-centered. I don’t force give though – ha! It has to be organic.

I learn so much from others on this issue – the people who have helped me. I have a few great examples of friends who give thoughtful gifts and help other people, and there’s my aunt, an amazing woman with boundless energy that she uses to volunteer at organizations. My aunt doesn’t go around bragging about it either.

Yeah so, I need to erase some of that bad karma I created when I was younger. Anything I can help anybody with? – No, never mind, seems I’m not available — hahaha!

How’m I gonna get to Katmandu?

Published March 7, 2014 by Sandee

Me in the merry merry month of May

My hiatus is almost over and I’ll be back to work — yay!  Maybe I’ll even buy a new outfit. While I’m glad to be getting back to work, I had looked forward to my break this year, though I still didn’t have enough money to go to Greece or Katmandu, or Morocco.  Ah well.

During this break, I did have time to read the hell out of the newspaper. As a young woman, I read the New York Times, trying to learn something about this “crazy world” we all live in. That was quite a while ago, the era when blackened finger tips were common from newspaper ink. This predated online periodicals. I buttressed that with historical books and a subscription to the New Yorker, where I read really long essays about this “crazy world” we all live in.

In my thirties I realized that politics was a game of power that escaped my idealistic mind-set. I became preoccupied with trying to establish a life as a writer (which never happened). I was disenchanted with the job that I had, and overwhelmed generally by life. Fuck the newspaper! I proclaimed then, and stopped reading it.

I had been slowly getting back to reading the paper.

During my hiatus, I bought an on-line subscription to the New York Times, tired of being shut down after reading the ten free articles they allow you to read on-line per month.

While it’s been illuminating, I still would like very much for us to be running around naked and sharing things, though I know it’s ridiculous. People are people after all, and a lot of us want to kill each other just because – oh and a lot of us aren’t very smart. So I suppose this is the best model we have for now.

It’s just that with my “colorful” personality, I like using pretty colors to outline my prescription for life. Politics still escape me, though it’s been the same for thousands of years.

Oh but come on, the world’s so small now. That means there’s a better chance to communicate new ideals. The United States is a great country, leaders of the world, we could easily champion a new way of life — with our eyes closed! The young folks could then etch out the details, how it’s all going to work out — and stuff. Yeah.

Noam Chomsky referred to the market system as barbaric. Mm hmm. And I’m infected. I participate in this market, and have certain expectations as well, having been weaned on the teat of capitalism. I’m off now to shop for my new outfit. And later I’ll figure out how I’m going to get to Katmandu. Carry on!

I’m too old for this shit

Published March 3, 2014 by Sandee

manhattan

You’ve seen those Buzzfeed tests with results revealing what “Friends” character you are, which 70s rock band, what sandwich — what arbitrary thing you are – these tests are clearly out of control.  By the way, I’m Courtney Love, the group Heart, Captain Kirk, and should live in the State of Washington.

Facebook friends who got the State of New York were pleased, proud to be associated with a high-powered, sophisticated city.

I was born and raised in Manhattan.  My dad, an artist, had a studio in the west 20s, and my friends and I took trains all around the city.  My mother’s from Harlem.

But when my results said that I should live in Washington, I thought – exactly!  This city was always too much for me.  My dad thought that I should live in Berkeley California, where it’s laid back and bohemian.

He had to make me go out and play with the kids yelling up at our window for me to come outside.  I was content to stay in my bedroom and dream, play with dolls, and write stories.

So I went outside, and before you know it, I was an alcoholic.  The cliques, the rules, the pace to keep up — I wasn’t suited for it.  I didn’t even care about going to college, though I scored high in my elementary school tests, and could read when I was three.

Early on I was anti-establishment – I saw how people were influenced to think the same way, and to follow trends.

I still live in Manhattan with filth, noise, and rude people.  I have principles and try to have manners, but in the city it’s hard.

In Whole Foods, I was nearly run over by shopping cart speeders.  I wanted to yell, “Where are you all going!!”  There were mostly upper-middle class young people, who pretty much own the island.  Yes, Manhattan is Dubai now — very expensive.

I was on the Upper West Side, a place where the gritty, the working class, and the intellectuals coexisted way back; the northernmost tip of that area being Columbia University.  At the base was the area immortalized in “Panic in Needle Park,” where junkies were.  A lot of that area was dangerous.

We knew a doctor in the seventies who bought a brownstone in the west 90s.  She was warned against moving there.  That house is probably a couple of million dollars now.  The people in that area today are wealthy, designer people.

Where I live is not like that, but it’s a matter of time.  Even though my neighborhood is considered good, in pockets it’s still noisy, dirty and overcrowded.  Even the airplane traffic is excessive.  I can’t take a decent nap because I’m hypersensitive to the noise.

I would love living in the woods of Washington State.  But for now I’m thinking about New Mexico.  I’m too old for this shit.

I wish that I could be satisfied

Published February 28, 2014 by Sandee

Półakt_kobiecy_-_Franciszek_Żmurko

I wanted to post something before the month ended.  Maybe I’ve allowed a month to pass between posts before, but tonight I didn’t want that to happen, which isn’t usually how I operate.  I’m relaxed about blogging.

For the last few months I’ve focused on writing two short stories and trying to get them published.  After this, I’m “relaxing” and working on other aspects of my life.

Since my job at the botanical garden became seasonal, I have four months off.  My other job as a cemetery guide is also seasonal, so during a hiatus I can fantasize that this time was created for me to fulfill my aspirations.

The reality is that it’s simply a break.  If these stories get published, I could reflect in this way on the break.  The problem with having a hiatus in conjunction with these aspirations is that I have time to fantasize.  I don’t want to become delusional.  My ideal life would be having these two jobs as day jobs, while being a writer.

I was excited when I sent my story “Night Terrors” to Calliope from a listing in Poets & Writers, and they contacted me days later to say that they were interested.

But I became an ingrate.  They were small potatoes – self admitted.  I wanted to be in Glimmer Train, or one of the other ones that paid big – hahaha!

I sent my latest story to quite a few magazines.  I wanted to hear from them a few days later, the same way that I had heard from Calliope.

I don’t feel like I can call myself a writer if I haven’t been published “big time.”  I need to be satisfied with my personal progress.  I said I wouldn’t write anymore if these stories are rejected.  That’s probably not true.  I hope that I could get these stories published then get an agent for the novel that I wrote, which was rejected by agents years ago.  My “fantasy” is to get my “Mean-Spirited Tales” (at the sidebar) published also.

I think if I had an office job again, I would be distracted from writing, which would be good.  But, I’m here now.  So I need to be fine with it, and simply take steps in the direction that I want to be in.

I also want to lose weight faster.  I know people who would be satisfied with the weight that I came down from.  My friend said she’d be satisfied with a similar weight.

It would be less strain if I was fine with the 15 pound weight loss, but I got greedy and want to be skinny again.

It has to do with the illusion that I have control over something.  Life is wild and I need to be flexible.  Having fixed ideas or the illusion of control makes me brittle and neurotic.  I wish that I could take this relaxed attitude that I have about blogging into other areas of my life.

Day by Day

Published January 13, 2014 by Sandee

I believe the Bible is a collection of metaphors.  People just have this colorful way of speaking.  It’s how we communicate.  A lot of symbolism in religion is intuition.

It’s about energy.  Very scientific, really.  Call it what you want.  But I believe when people congregate in a place of worship we create energy that connects us to people.

A friend wanted to go to church, so I went with her yesterday.

However, I like distance from organized religion because ministers are just vehicles for the spirit, but they are flawed humans.

I love Jesus — the symbol Jesus.  He carries our sins because we’re weak – it’s the way we’re made.  That’s why spiritual leaders have spiritual leaders.  They need someone to advise them so they don’t form cults, and tell people God told them to have sex with them, or to drink Kool-Aid with cyanide in it.

I do need a spiritual leader, some authority.  I have to appreciate that the spiritual leader is human, to have compassion for that.

Religions and spiritual texts have exercises where at the end of the day you assess your behavior – it’s necessary to function in a healthy way.

There are people who take the message too literally, tainting the idea of religion.

There is no cosmic Santa Claus, as the minister of my family church has said. God’s not going to save me from disease, death, debt – maybe to an extent.  I don’t think it makes sense for me to think that I made it through something death-defying because God loves me.  I’m sure there are people involved in some of the myriad tragedies who believed and who were worthy of this “salvation”, but didn’t “make it”.  We’re so self-centered.  I do believe it’s okay to thank God that you did come through.

God is my higher consciousness.  When I’m aligned with it, I get the answers to problems, because I open my energy up by being willing.

My spirit life is about radiating positive energy within challenges I face with people day to day.  It’s also about facing death, my own death, the death of loved ones.

I think the way we look at death encourages gluttony, greed, and hatred.  We believe it’s so final, that we cling to temporal things, including other lives.  That energy is transformed and not final.  I don’t know what happens when we die, but I should be okay with it because it’s natural.  So why is death bad?

You see it on refrigerator magnets, but really, we only have today.  That’s where my joy and so-called blessings are – not in the future after I’ve obtained my goals.

My spiritual quest is about learning how to stay in the present and being alive where I am now.   This makes my life more manageable and I can start new each day.

The minister who preached at my family church was intellectual, but he would build up a fervor, after he captured you with reason.

Reason is what keeps me faithful, despite outward appearance.  I say vile things, and contemplate evil, but in the end my spirit strives for moderation.  Mostly I walk in a certain direction, despite what I say.  But sometimes I am mischievous.  Sometimes I don’t want anything to do with God.

I don’t want to preach.  Maybe I have here – fuck it.  This is just my experience.  I believe that the universe is vast, and that the possibilities are just as vast.  And there’s so much I don’t know.  Why shouldn’t I embrace the idea of God? There, I said it.

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