Thursday, December 18, 2008

Love: The God of All Things

Christmas is a strange time of year for me, since I was not raised in a home where we celebrated Christmas for the same reasons most others did. My grandmother, Berdis Emma Baldwin, was born on Christmas day, and so for us, the day was all about honoring the woman who was for us, a living, breathing, embodiment of the teachings of Jesus Christ. She was a special woman who possessed a deep capacity to love, bless and honor all those she came in contact with. Also, having a West African aunt, who was a recent convert and became a Jehovah's Witness, I was exposed very early on to the idea that Christmas very well may be, the biggest pagan holiday of the year. Jesus, according to their teachings was born in September and something else about the Christmas tree being a symbol for nature worshipers. Go figure? Well, my mother never really took sides, we had all kinds of books and studied a lot of different religions... Sometimes we had a Christmas tree and got gifts, sometimes we did not, but Christmas was always special, because for us it was Queen Berdis' day! The fact that our focus was not on getting gifts and spending a lot of money, which we did not have to spend in the first place, meant that Christmas took on a deeper meaning for us, than for most. Christmas was about family, celebration of life and it's many blessings, giving thanks, food and plenty of laughter and smiles. It meant I got to run around with a gang of cousins, dance, play and eat lots of delicious food. Sometimes the excitement was so high, that we could not sleep, but we knew that when did finally drift off to slumber land, that we were blanketed with the love of our family and drifted in a sea of joy.

My grandmother has been gone for several years now and I don't have the same reason to refocus my energy during the Christmas season towards her. So I am have become sort of an observer, and I watch people run around and buy gifts and get into the "Christmas spirit" and wonder what it is really about for them. Are they like me, and is Christmas about honoring the embodiment of The Christ in those we love? Or is it even about becoming more like Jesus, by becoming more compassionate, loving and kind? I mean nowadays, even people who were not raised "Christian" celebrate Christmas, buy and exchange gifts, decorate their homes and host Christmas dinner. Why are they celebrating? Do people even think about it, or do they just celebrate because everyone else is doing it, so they don't feel left out? Is it even legal to mention Jesus when you talk about Christmas? It is all quite confusing. I mean, what is Christmas really about for most people? Does a primary focus even exist for most people? Is there a deeper reason or meaning? Or are most people spending money that they don't have, in order to celebrate something that they don't really know or care about the meaning of?

I am so grateful for the memories that I carry of Christmas, of my grandmother and yes of the principles and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christmas for me has always been about love...Sharing love, giving thanks for love...Basking in the glow of familial love. My grandmother taught me that love was Christ's ruling principle and that all things can be made better with love. It is my hope that people who celebrate Christmas, whether they be Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Agnostic, remember that what we should exchange, share, wrap up, chase after and come together for, not only during Christmas, but all year round, is love...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Michelle And The Red Dress

When I watched the news report last week of president-elect Barack Obama and our first lady to be Michelle Obama's recent visit to the White House, I was in awe. It was such a historic moment to watch the future President of the United states and his wife, check out their new digs, 16 blocks from where I live in Washington DC. The first part of the report showed Barack looking quite handsome in a Nike jogging suit, dropping Sasha and Malia off at school. The film then fast forwarded, showing Barack stepping out of his limousine in front of the White House. He then turns of course and puts his hand out to help his wife Michelle, out of the the car. When I saw Michelle with a Crimson Red dress on I nearly screamed!

I thought to myself: "What a freakin' power move?" Michelle wore a red dress to the White House! I knew immediately that Michelle had chosen to wear red as a symbol and a sign that screamed to the world: I will not be taken lightly. I am here and I am to be taken quite seriously.

Red for many centuries has been a color that symbolizes power and it is hard not to notice or focus on the color red, as evidenced by the excessive use of the color in advertising. The color red symbolizes both love and war (we all know that Michelle loves Barack and is a warrior) and has been known to be a sexually provocative color. In the past, red was known as the color that prostitutes and women who were considered sexually "loose" or wanton wore. That is because scientists have found that the color red, when worn by a women, acts as an aphrodisiac on men. In India red is the color worn by the bride (unlike in our culture where the bride traditionally wears white). It is nonetheless a very controversial color, especially when worn by women.

I even remember when I was a little girl overhearing old folks say that dark skinned women should not wear red, because it brought too much attention to their color. Of course this is due to our legacy of slavery where being dark skinned, especially for a woman was considered a burden. Navy blue and other darker colors were considered more suitable for women of darker skin tones.

Well whatever side of red you are on, the side that views red as a color associated with the devil, war and aggression, or the side that sees red as the color of love, sensuality and power, I think as a dark skinned woman, Michelle decided to break all the rules, stood tall ( both she and Barack literally towered over the Bushes) and said to the world; "I will not be the demure and shy type of first first lady... I am putting on my red dress!"

I even noticed as the two couples stopped to take pictures, Laura Bush lift up her arm and compare the color she chose to wear(a brownish tweed) to that of Michelle's. It was quite painful to watch as the Bushes were clearly outshone by Barack's smile and Michelle's red dress!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Post Election Musings

Peace To The Tribe!

It has been several months since my last post. As our president elect, Barack Obama's campaign took off, I choose to simply take it all in as opposed to getting heavily involved with all the back and forth. The one post I wrote about him was an open letter telling him how as a woman with an African father and an African-American mother, I did not understand how folks were debating his authenticity and his ability to represent, considering how history has inextricably linked the African struggle with that of the Black American freedom movement. Anyway, all the naysayers have been put to bed and the man with a Kenyan father and White mother is our 44th president. Moving right along.

So what happens now? Barack (am I being a little to familiar here?) is headed to the white house and the euphoria that has existed since election night has yet to completely fade away. People are optimistic, but also uncertain and this uncertainty lends itself to the atmosphere, creating a mixture of joy and anxiety. Hopefully this is due to the fact that people deep down inside recognize that play time is over. We all are going to have to become better people in order for America to become better. This has been Barack's clarion call from the getty up! He is not going to sprinkle magic stardust and heal the seven plagues. He is here to remind us what is best about us, and to help us let go of the worst of us and this cannot be done in the twinkling of an eye. There are many who want to hold on the the old guard and those who want something new, but may not be really prepared or really understand the risks involved in creating something new and better. Here lies the feeling of uncertainty. So in fact we have two Americas (more like four, but I digress). The things that both Americas share is fear of the unknown. Neither one of us, the old guard or the new order, really knows how this "great experiment" is going to pan out. A few things that are for sure; whether we want to surrender to the fact that we are all connected and are all one, we are all going to experience collectively the effects of past greed, corruption and waste and we can all experience the benefits of coming together, allowing our differences to work for the collective and learn to allow love instead of fear to guide us.

This a going to take work people, not just outside of us by making "things" better, but inside of us, by making ourselves better. In other words, we gotta "Be the change!"

One Love,