No Church In The Wild

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My mornings usually begin the same way. I’ll wake up at 7:30, immediately pick up my laptop, and spend a half hour reading emails, checking VSB, and doing EBONY-related work. I’ll also pray. By this time, my fiancee is usually awake too, so I’ll lay back down with her for a couple minutes. By 8:15-8:20, I’ll get out of bed again and make my way the bedroom upstairs, my de facto office. Sometimes I’ll stop in the kitchen and grab some orange juice or a granola bar before heading up. From then until approximately 9:15, I’ll work exclusively on EBONY stuff.

While upstairs, I’ll hear my fiancee get up. This usually happens around 8:45. Within five minutes, the shower will begin to run. 15 to 20 minutes later, I’ll hear her:

“Morning babe. I need to be at work at 9:30. I’ll be ready in 15.”  

Sometimes it’ll be this instead:

“Morning babe. I need to be at work at 10. What do you want for breakfast?”

(These are my favorite mornings)

If it’s one of those “9:30″ mornings, I’ll stop working, put on whatever sweats and sneakers are near, and come down stairs. The dog — who usually sleeps upstairs — will follow me. I’ll put food and water in his bowl. He’ll ignore it — for now — and I’ll take him to the backyard to pee and shit. If it’s cold, I’ll throw on my parka.

If you looked out our front window then, you’d see a collection of well-manicured brownstones. You’d also see (mostly Black) families and various young professionals doing their morning routines (Taking the kids to school, going to work, walking dogs, jogging, etc).

The back of our house is a different story. Behind our backyard is an alley. Behind that alley is a group of three dilapidated row houses. And behind those houses is where the “hood” part of our neighborhood begins.

One of these houses is boarded up. One houses an interracial couple (Black man, White woman) who used to argue so loudly that it would wake us up. (They haven’t argued in months. Maybe they went on Marriage Boot Camp or something.) And one houses a drug dealer who sees light traffic throughout the day.

The drug dealer guy and I are usually cordial. If our eyes happen to meet, we’ll nod at each other. Sometimes you might even get a “Hey. What’s good?” out of both of us. His friends and customers, on the other hand, aren’t as friendly. They’re usually not out there. But when they are…let’s just say I pay very close attention to my surroundings then.

I’ll go back inside. If it’s a “10:00″ morning, we’ll sit down and eat breakfast together. Usually some combination of eggs, bacon, and fruit. If it’s a “9:30″ morning, she’ll be in the kitchen making and packing her lunch, getting ready to go.

We’ll leave five minutes later. She only works five minutes away, but in that short time we’ll use our shorthand to share a half hour’s worth of information with each other. I’ll drop her off, we’ll kiss, and I’ll head back home.

My route back home takes me through the hood part of the neighborhood. Sometimes there will be cops circling around. I do not consider the police to be an antagonistic entity. But I do not feel safe around them. I don’t necessarily feel unsafe either. I guess the best word to describe how I feel is aware.

They’re just doing their jobs, I’ll say to myself. Don’t pay them any mind, and get back home so you can finish your work.

But there are also times when I notice them paying me more attention than I’m comfortable with. I might even get followed for a block. And then, at that point, I realize nothing matters. I’m a popular published author and professional writer with a fiancee. A fiancee with multiple degrees. We’re renting a brownstone with hardwood floors throughout and 12 foot ceilings. We’re getting married in July. We go to gallery crawls and board meetings. I own t-shirts proclaiming my love for Bougie Black People. We have four corkscrews, collected over time from the parties we throw and attend. I have a morning routine. And a dog.

But, in that moment, I’m a Black man in a sketchy neighborhood wearing a parka, sweats, and sneakers, and driving a Charger. To them, I am a potential suspect. Or, even worse, a potential threat. One awkward move or one overzealous officer could end everything for me.

I’ll eventually make it home and I’ll finish working. Maybe I’ll moderate comments on VSB. Or, maybe I’ll make some edits to something I’m writing for Complex. I’ll forget about the morning. And I’ll forget that, between the people across the alley and the cops on my way home, I’ve had to be on guard every moment I was out the house. Because I’m Black in America. And when you’re Black in America, there really are no safe spaces, no recluse from potential danger, no time when you can be certain that what you do and who you are will not cease to matter because someone considers you to be a threat. Nowhere I can relax without reservation. Nowhere where I can be me and not worry.

But I will forget about all of this. Because it’s everyday. And when something happens everyday, it becomes forgettable. Mundane, even. I’ll relax in my chair, play with our dog, and moderate comments on my blog. It’s just another day.

  —Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

overtime pay: the four sexiest professions (according to the champ)

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as the verysmartbrothas continue to prove, sexiness is a gift, but the process of being extremely sexy can be work. its occasionally hard out here for a black blogging pimp and sh*t.

with this in mind, an envious champ has decided to share the four sexiest occupations, jobs where being sexy isn’t hard work at all. enjoy and sh*t Continue reading

Black and Positive: What Black in America Brings To The Table

TIME OUT: It’s almost the LAST DAY to VOTE us into the final round of the Black Weblog Awards. Please make your mama proud and vote for us, it takes only 12 seconds to do if you know how to read. And we KNOW you know how to read. CLICK HERE NOW.

292-big-1-1243698551So, I missed the 8pm showing of Black in America 2.  I was out doing my part to bring the truth, the light, and the American way to minorities at a major university.

Yes, Panama is a teacher on the side.

As I currently sit and watch the last episode, I must admit, though its depressing as all hell, BiA2 has done some good.  And you know how much I love to highlight the good, great, and Beyonce things that exist in this world.  I mean, what the world needs now, is love, sweet love, that’s the only thing that there’s just to little of. Continue reading

Still Black: 7 Things I Learned While Watching CNN’s Black In America 2

black-in-americaI’d love to venture deep into my soul to discuss how deeply moved I was by CNN’s Black in America 2 presentation, but much like the first one, it just wasn’t that deep.  In fact, I didn’t even expect it to be.  It’s CNN.  I only watched it because I know people expected me to watch it because people expected me to say something about it.

I do this for my culture.

And just in case you weren’t sure, we’re still Black.  Same sh*t, different toilet. Continue reading

VSB.com Special Report: The Return of the Black Man’s Hat…Again

*Administrative Note: If you’ll look to the right you’ll see that VSB.com has been nominated for three Black Web Awards! Best Blog, Best Relationship Advice Site, and Best Site for Brothas. Hooray. Go click and vote. If Obama can do it, so can we. Yes we can! Yes we can! Thank you all for helping us get to this point. I’m not really big on awards and all that to be honest, but it’s cool that anybody thought enough of us to nominate us…so thanks for helping to make VSB.com a hot spot on-line. And thank CP3 for just being hot.*

Last week, CNN aired a special entitled “Black In America”, a two-day documentary about the state of Black people in our adopted homeland of America.

And despite my lack of actual expectations in regards to what CNN would actually be able to accomplish, I still found myself to be disappointed. Essentially, CNN aired:

Black People For Dummies.

Dummies = white people.

(And um, not that I think white people are dummies. Naïve? Yes. Dummies? No.)

I found this documentary interesting for a few reasons, and none of them positive. For one, if you actually gained insightful information from this documentary…

…you need to read more. Point blank. Period.

Similarly, I don’t actually understand their point or whom they were actually trying to reach with it. For instance, any white person that actually watched it probably already knew the stuff they were talking about or at least had a clue. Hell, any white person that actually watched it was probably interested enough to care about Black people…so they’re probably empathetic-ish to the Black cause and therefore know that stuff.

With that stuff = being Black can blow ass at times.

For second, most white people probably didn’t watch it anyway. It was on CNN, and what with all the commercials I keep seeing about having to go digital in 2009, much of middle America probably didn’t catch CNN with their bunny-ear antennas. Or better yet…

…most white people probably just didn’t care. I could be wrong on that one.

In fact, I’d actually be happy to be wrong about that but really, I barely watched it and I did only because I didn’t want to be the one Black person who DIDN’T watch it. Basically, I just didn’t want to NOT be apart of the conversation.

And I’m Black.

For third, most Black people don’t have cable so they weren’t exactly watching it though. I do assume that similar to Tyler Perry movies, a lot of churches and stuff had “Black In America” viewing parties…and they did have T.D. Jakes up in there.

Anyway.

Ultimately, I just don’t understand what their point was – if there even was one. It wasn’t enlightening…if anything, they lightly touched on the successes of Black middle America. Even the successful people that were profiled (Asst. Superintendent in Arkansas, Michael Eric Dyson, etc.) weren’t immune from the regular f*cktasticness of the rest of the Black community.

Was it supposed to inspire? Or to shine a light on the failures of Black America? Was I supposed to feel pride in being Black? Probably not because it wasn’t really positive. But after watching it I didn’t even feel anything. Was it depressing? Not really. It wasn’t anything I didn’t already know. But then again, why just put more stuff out there that adds nothing to the conversation.

You can’t actually do justice to the question about being “Black in America” if nobody actually ASKS anybody…

… “what does it mean to you to be Black in America?”

When you just lightly touch on varying issues, desperations, and almost-successes of the Black community what are you actually trying to accomplish?

Maybe I read too much or maybe I expect too much where I shouldn’t expect anything. But for some reason, I expect people (CNN) who decide to undertake something so complex to approach the situation with a little more respect than to merely touch the surface with no real attempt at any depth. Granted, discussing what it means to be “Black in America” would require about 27 years and two weeks to give due diligence to the subject but still…

Perhaps you got the point and I’m just slow. But good people of VSB.com, did you watch Black in America, and if so, what did you get out of it?

By the way, I’ll be talking about this all week…today, I pulled a CNN…I just lightly touched on the topic. Tomorrow, I’m pulling a Panama Muhf*ckin’. I’m digging deep.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST