East Of Eden

"A curious mix of the relevant and reverential"


Throwback Thursday: Great(ly different) Expectations.

Note: This post was first published on my old blog, Far Above Rubies, on December 31, 2012. ~Li

 Princeton University. I did not attend. I did, however, drive by a number of times on my way to the neurologist's office.

I attended and graduated from a state university, and one not in the top tier at that. That is not to say I received a second-rate education. Far from it. I learned so much, in class and even more-so, from occurrences not transcribed on to a syllabus. Reading "Lost in the Meritocracy" by Walter Kirn at The Atlantic, I was heavily reminded of my college days. Sure, he matriculated at Princeton around the time I was just arriving on this Earth, but there are some transcendental experiences with which I could relate:

With no stored literary material about which to harbor critical assumptions, I relied on my gift for mimicking authority figures and playing back to them their own ideas disguised as conclusions that I'd reached myself. The deployment of key words was crucial, as the recognition of them had been on the SATs. With one professor the charm was "ambiguity." With another "heuristic" usually did the trick. Even when a poem or a story fundamentally puzzled me, I found that I could save face through terminology, as when I referred to T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land as "semiotically unstable." The need to finesse my ignorance through such stunts left me feeling hollow and vaguely hunted. I sought solace in the company of other frauds (we seemed to recognize one another instantly), and together we refined our acts. We toted around books by Jacques Derrida, and spoke of "playfulness" and "textuality." We laughed at the notion of "authorial intention" and concluded, before reading even a hundredth of it, that the Western canon was illegitimate, an expression of powerful group interests that it was our sacred duty to transcend—or, failing that, to systematically subvert. In this rush to adopt the latest attitudes and please the younger and hipper of our instructors—the ones who drank with us in the Nassau Street bars and played the Clash on the tape decks of their Toyotas as their hands crept up pants and skirts—we skipped straight from ignorance to revisionism, deconstructing a body of literary knowledge that we'd never constructed in the first place. I came to suspect that certain professors were on to us, and I wondered if they, too, were actors. In classroom discussions, and even when grading essays, they seemed to favor us over the hard workers, whose patient, sedimentary study habits were ill adapted, I concluded, to the new world of antic postmodernism that I had mastered almost without effort. To thinkers of this school, great literature was a con, and I—a born con man who hadn't read any great literature and was looking for any excuse not to—was eager to agree with them.

I never drank anything stronger than coffee with my profs (I shudder to think how some of the wackier ones would be wasted), but that... that contrarian deconstruction of great literature, of bad literature, of politics, poetry, religion, life... that type of postmodern thought ran rampant throughout my English department. While Kirn hid not reading the lit he so heavily lambasted, I didn't. I didn't have to because many of my profs never bothered to even assign them. How I received a Bachelors in English without having read a single book by Hemingway or Steinbeck, I'll probably never know. But I felt like something of a con myself. Closing in on graduation, Kirn fumbled at what to do next. Years of prepping for academia left him feeling unprepared.

All around me friends were securing places in grad schools and signing contracts with worldwide corporations, but I found myself without prospects, in a vacuum. I'd never bothered to contemplate the moment when the quest for trophies would end and the game of trading on them would begin. Once, I'd had nowhere to go but up. Now, it seemed, I had nowhere to go at all.

I felt similarly adrift as my undergrad career came to a close. I majored in English and Communications. I remember complaining repeatedly, "What does that even mean? I can speak and write. Big whoop." SAT prep class, years of honing study skills and writing on index cards for drills to get to college. And just like that, college was a wrap. How did this relate to life?

... I couldn't quote the Transcendentalists as accurately and effortlessly as he could. I couldn't quote anyone. I'd honed more-marketable skills: for flattering those in authority without appearing to, for ranking artistic reputations according to the latest academic fashions, for matching my intonations and vocabulary to the background of my listener, for placing certain words in smirking quotation marks and rolling my eyes when someone spoke too earnestly about some "classic" work of "literature," for veering left when the conventional wisdom went right and then doubling back if the consensus changed. Flexibility, irony, class consciousness, contrarianism. I'd gone to Princeton, and soon I'd go to Oxford, and these, I was about to tell Karl, are the ways one gets ahead now—not by memorizing old Ralph Waldo. I'd learned a lot since I'd aced the SATs, about the system, about myself, and about the new class the system had created, which I was now part of, for better or for worse. The class that runs things. The class that makes the headlines—that writes the headlines, and the stories under them.
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My cynicism had peaked, but later that summer something happened that changed me—not instantly but decisively. A month before I was scheduled to fly to England and resume my career as a facile ignoramus, I came down with a mild summer cold that lingered, festered, and turned into pneumonia, forcing me to spend two weeks in bed. One feverish night I found myself standing in front of a bookcase in the living room that held a row of fancy leather-bound volumes my mother had bought through the mail when I was little. Assuming that the books were chiefly decorative, I'd never even bothered to read their titles, but that night, bored and sick, I picked one up: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Then I did something unprecedented for me: I carried it back to my bedroom and actually read it—every chapter, every page. A few days later I repeated the feat with Great Expectations, another canonical stalwart that I'd somehow made it through Princeton without opening. And so, belatedly, haltingly, and almost accidentally, it began: the education I'd put off while learning to pass as someone in the know. I wasn't sure what it would get me, whose approval it might win, or how long it might take to complete, but for once those weren't my first concerns. Alone in my room, exhausted and apprehensive, I no longer cared about self-advancement. I wanted to lose myself. I wanted to read. I wanted to find out what others thought.

It's oh-so amazing what one learns in the school of life, where the best classes often occur far outside ivory towers. Away from the pretending and preening, no need for false provocateurs. Meritocracy can shove it. Life lived apart from the race has much merit.

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Some Sunday Stuff: July 23rd.


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Zoe is 6!

 

Happy Sunday! It was quite the week in news- Kermit got fired, R. Kelly may be head of a creepy cult, the Juice is (about to be) loose, and Sean "Spicey" Spicer is out at The White House, disappointing legions of Melissa McCarthy fans (like me). 

But in the De Freitas household, the biggest news of the week was Z's sixth birthday. We're thankful, amazed at how fast time has flown, and proud of our not-so-little girl. She's been- and continues to be- a blessing from God.

 

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Flashback Friday: The Newark Riots.

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(Image Source: NJ.com)

 

I heard the story countless times growing up. My grandmother had warned my grandfather they shouldn't go into Newark that Sunday in July of 1967. Not *that* Sunday. But my Papa, veteran of WWII and the Korean War, was not one to scare easily, and was also equally determined not to miss Sunday services. So off they and their four kids went, ranging in age from 15 to 6. My dad was the 15 year old. He remembered sitting in his ironed suit in the back of the family car, riding in from nearby Linden, where they lived in a neat little pink cape cod, the family's first house after having moved over from packed apartment buildings in Brooklyn two years prior.

They knew pretty quickly upon entering Newark that things were strange. There was no traffic. Or people walking in the sidewalks. And then Papa made a turn onto Broad Street and my grandmother gasped. She grabbed his arm, and said, "Joseph!". It was then that they all saw it: a huge rolling tank. It was as if the nightly news footage of the Vietnam War had popped out of their black and white TV and became all too real, all too present. Papa braked and then put the car in reverse, simply saying, "There'll be no church today."

The Newark Riots, which occured over five days fifty years ago this month, resulted in far more damage than a few cancelled church services. Twenty-six were killed, over 700 were injured and well over a thousand were arrested. To my parents, who would enroll at Newark's Essex County College a couple of years later, the Riots were a harbinger of the decades of decay, rot and rising crime that were to come.

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Throwback Thursday: "You're HUGE" & Other Dumb Things Not to Say or Do to a Pregnant Woman

Note: This post was first published on my old blog, Far Above Rubies, on March 30, 2011. Enjoy! ~Li

 (Photo: Flickr)

God bless 'em, the jerks who have thought it all in good fun to poke at my ever expanding belly, the same ones who question every bit of food and drink I consume. Even the one who commented on my larger bust line (and this came from a guy... a guy who is NOT my husband). God bless these folks, because I don't want to. But, I will. I will bless them with some sage advice on how not to address or behave towards an expectant mom, speaking as a sage expectant mom.

  • "You're HUGE!", "You are getting so big!" "Wow, your stomach has really popped out" or any other variant of the bulging belly bump kind. I believe most people are genuinely just amazed at the gestation process when they let exclamations like this slip. The thing is, not too many women, even if they are awaiting a bundle of joy, enjoy being repeatedly told how much weight they've gained. Think about it. We ladies try all kinds of fad diets, hit the treadmill, and wear clothing to try to disguise so much as a two pound gain. Suddenly, we've gained, let's say, twenty, and no amount of scarves or drapey tunics can hide that. We now have to face up to the fact... we're fat. And that's hard. So give us a break. If you MUST make a comment, try referring to the growing baby instead of the growing belly.
  • "That better not be coffee!", "You know there is caffeine in tea" or "That juice is too full of sugar for you and baby!" These comments come from genuine concern, but being a drink monitor to a grown woman is demeaning. I've been cautioned against the evils of coffee, only to inform the person the hot creamy brown liquid I was sipping was cocoa. Most women have heard such warnings already, so if they choose to drink, they most likely are doing so knowing the risk. Now, if you see a momma to be gulping down Captain Morgan's, THAT would be a time to speak up. Similarly, that brings me to my next point. Do not say
  • "You're not eating that are you?", "That snack is full of sodium!", or "More pickles?" Do not cause us preggos to develop eating disorders by constantly commenting on the foods we choose to indulge in. Yes, we should be eating lots and lots and lots of fruits and veggies and getting our calcium through glasses of skim milk. But sometimes we just to eat lots and lots of oreos and get some calcium through a big bowl of Hagen Daaz. Now, I know you're probably thinking, "That's no good for you!" Too much of it, no, definitely not. But an occasional splurge is not the end of the world. But let's say your pregnant friend or sister has diabetes or is overweight... okay, you can speak up, but again, not in a condescending tone or manner. Gently encourage her to choose some lowfat , sugar-free yogurt, and then go a step further and eat it with her. If you really want to support her, you best not condemn while your chowing down on the Carvel.
  • "Your back must be hurting!" or "I know you're feeling exhausted." Don't assume to know how another person is feeling. You might have been miserable (or fantastic!) throughout your pregnancy, but that doesn't mean your co-worker is. Everyone is different, and every pregnancy is different. If you'd like to know how she's feeling, just ask. And for anyone wondering, I'm doing pretty darn well. For reasons unbeknown to my doctors (or me), I'm actually feeling better most days now than before I was pregnant, even on the medication. My doctors have hypothesized it might be the extra vitamins or the flow of hormones (my money is on this). For whatever reason, I'm thankful that my sinuses aren't inflamed, my back isn't aching and while I do feel the extra weight slowing me a bit, I'm not feeling extra pain because of it. Thank God!
  • "You are having a boy since you are carrying out!" or "That has to be a little girl as round as you are!" For us few ladies who opt not to learn our child's sex until birth, there is a constant barrage of declarations as to our babies' sex. I've mainly received, "It's a boy" comments, with a sprinkling of girl pronouncements. While I might be good natured fun to want to guess, these comments usually are tied to opinions on a woman's bulging bump... so more weight and appearance talk. I also find some of it offensive. "Girls take away all their mothers beauty." Think about that... so not only are you passing on a sexist belief, but you're also saying a woman is now... ugly. Augh. 
  • "Your naming him what???" Okay, so your cousin has just told you she is christening Junior with a name so instantly detestable that you know this poor kid has years of bullying ahead at school. And that's just from the teachers. What do you do? Try asking why she's chosen the name. Maybe it has a very special meaning or is her father-in-law's name. Try to find out details before you just come right out and say her son will hate her for life and wind up in counseling for having to go through childhood be referred to by that moniker. Even if you still object, remember that if she hasn't asked your opinion, no need to give one. And that many people happily go by their middle names.
  • Proceeding to rub her belly without so much as asking. Or even asking if this isn't a close friend or family member. Don't do this. As I tweeted yesterday, I am not a Buddha. I do not want you to rub my belly. If you do, you are guaranteed to have bad luck. And as my buddy Shaun pointed out, normally, a stranger touching a woman is usually grounds for a call to the police. This is not acceptable behavior. If she offers, rub away. If not, don't be a creeper. 
 My most recent picture, taken by my boss at work. I've got a big belly and big hair!

Got any more tips? Comment away!

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PSA: So you noticed I'm disabled...


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... and I am. Now get over it. 

 

It's summer, and the more I go out, the more I run into people who get spontaneous, explosive, diarrhea of the mouth because of said disability. Or rather, the walker I use because of said disability.

Here's the thing: over a year after having a HSCT, not only am I not any better, I'm actually more dependent on a walker than I was before it. While I definitely made use of the walker for trips to malls, museums and parks pre-HSCT, I didn't usually bring it to church, doctor's appointments, cafes or book stores. Now, it's constant.

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Some Sunday Stuff: July 16th.


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I love these flowers. Like a little bit of the tropics. (Photo taken by me)

 

Happy Sunday! Let's get to the links. First up, I have to strongly recommend Crash Course Film History if, like me, you're a novice on the subject but fascinated, nevertheless. Here's the preview so you can get a feel for the series:

 

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Flashback Friday: The 1977 NYC Blackout.


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(Image Source)

 

Forty years ago yesterday, New York City, which supposedly never sleeps, went dark. And then, went mad. From Time:

The blackout that hit New York on... July 13, in 1977 was to many a metaphor for the gloom that had already settled on the city. An economic decline, coupled with rising crime rates and the panic-provoking (and paranoia-inducing) Son of Sam murders, had combined to make the late 1970s New York’s Dark Ages.


Then lightning struck, and the city went dark for real. By the time the power came back, 25 hours later, arsonists had set more than 1,000 fires and looters had ransacked 1,600 stores, per the New York Times.
Opportunistic thieves grabbed whatever they could get their hands on, from luxury cars to sink stoppers and clothespins, according to the New York Post. The sweltering streets became a battleground, where, per the Post, “even the looters were being mugged.”

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These are a few of my favorite themes...


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So, I made you all a little video. Please watch and then comment with some of your own favs, and be on the lookout for more in this series on the best theme music in TV, film and video games.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Romancing the ordinary.

Note: This post was first published on October 2, 2012, on my old blog, Far Above Rubies. Enjoy! ~Li

On Thursday, my friend Kawania stopped by to pick up a flash drive. She was just leaving her job as an elementary school teacher, and as I opened the door to let her in, I said, "Wow! Is this what the teachers are wearing these days?" Decked out in a brown, above the knee shirtdress, with leopard print, four inch, peep toe heels, she laughed and said assuredly, "Gone are the days teachers wear long flower skirts and penny loafers." I laughed, too, thinking how cool it would be to find a pair of penny loafers nowadays. But hey, these glasses aren't for show. I'm a true blue nerd. Kawania began playing with Z, and I slid back over to the dining room table where I had been cutting up peppers, tomatoes and onions for dinner. She looked at me, dressed in a tank and shorts, scarf on head, chopping away, and said, "You know, even though you don't think you're doing anything great or exciting by staying home full time with Z, you are. It's so awesome that you're with her. It's not glamorous but it'll pay off." No, there was nothing glamorous about me or that scene at that moment. I was definitely not Facebook pic-ready, and even using three Instagram filters couldn't change that. But why did she start off by saying I don't think I'm doing anything great? Because I not only think  it, I know I am.

Oh, did that last line seem boisterous? Yes? Well, good. I'm not bragging. Far from it. I am no supermom. Z is not reading or potty trained at 14 months. I sneak her chocolate milk when her Dad isn't around. I play like 10 Alphablocks episodes in a row to stop her squealing when I'm doing her hair. No, my pride comes from my job... no, strike that, my vocation as a mother, not in my skills (or lack thereof) in this role. In the six months that have passed since I resigned my professional job, a number of people have given me pep talks similar to Kawania's. Others, like my 82 year old Grandmother, have asked me, in an almost pleading tone, how I manage to stay home and stay sane. Some have just bluntly said, "Not me! I'd dump my kid off in daycare so fast...". Putting my health issues aside (which is the actual reason I resigned), I can't seem to convince people of how amazing it actually is to be with Z full time. I've watched her grow from a squiggly newborn who could only manage two ounces of milk to a curious toddler who devours just about anything she can find (scarily, not necessarily food, either). Outside of a couple of colds and tummy aches, there have been no illnesses. When she took her first steps, it was to me. I'm her teacher, chef, nurse and playmate. And maid. And janitor. And custodian. I don't have one job. I have at least a dozen. There is no fanfare, no glory. It's so ordinary. Millions love "The Kardashians" because their "ordinary" includes dating rap stars, marrying (and divorcing) millionaire athletes, flying across the globe, vacations, glitz and glamor.  Yesterday I posted about St. Therese and her "little way" to Jesus. Little steps. An appreciation of and love for the little things. I'm reminded of India Arie's "Little Things":

"Got everything that I prayed for
Even a little more
When I asked to learn humility
This is what I was told
 
 It's the little things 
 And the joy they bring 
 It's the little things 
And the joy they bring"
 

No accolades. No paycheck. Total reward.

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Some Sunday Stuff: July 9th.


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(Video screen grab) 

 

Happy Sunday, All. Have you seen Jay Z's video for "The Story of O.J.?" I'm so utterly fascinated by the thing. Check it out:

 

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Flashback Friday: Princess Diana visits AIDS patients.

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Princess Diana was photographed in April 1987 shaking hands, sans gloves, with an AIDS patient, demonstrating that the disease could not be transmitted via casual contact. (Getty Images/ Source)

 

Next month will mark 20 years since Princess Diana's sudden and tragic death in a Paris car crash. There have been numerous articles, magazine spreads and documentaries being released to mark the anniversary. This post, however, will go back 30 years, to Princess Diana's visit with AIDS patients, and her decision to touch them. This was huge; the story and the accompanying photographs would be published around the world. At that time, many people so feared the disease, they refused even casual contact with those infected. People with HIV and AIDS were viewed by many as dirty, degenerate, even cursed by God. Many of the earliest patients were gay men and/or IV drug users, and a shameful amount of people pondered if they deserved public sympathy... or even to be treated medically. 

This was the backdrop for Diana's visit. Supposedly, some in the House of Windsor were none too happy that the Princess chose such unhaqppy charity works. But, as would become clear in the following decade, Diana did what Diana wanted. Here's the UPI story from April 9th, 1987:

LONDON -- Princess Diana opened Britain's first AIDS hospital ward Thursday and shook hands with nine homosexual patients to 'explode' the myth that the disease can be passed through casual contact.

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Throwback Thursday: Zoe 101: Lessons From My Daughter

Note from Li: This post was first published on my old blog, Far Above Rubies, on March 6, 2012. I'm republishing it today, with an update: Matt is now an awesome dad to two adorable boys. I knew he'd be a great dad. ;-) ~Li

 Last week at The Church of No People, Matt topped off his month long series on Parenting by explaining why he didn't want to have kids. At least anytime soon. I laughed out loud reading it, and not in that fake "LOL! But I only wrote that because I don't know what else to write except maybe a smiley face, but I don't want to" type way, either. Especially that part about Go-Gurt. I don't know why, but before having Zoe, seriously thinking about having kids always conjured up images of gross poopy diapers, crazy kid temper tantrums, and yes, Go-Gurt. Sticky, sour-smelling, old Go-Gurt on teeny fingers and chubby cheeks. And I shuddered. And wrote this. And recorded this. In other words, I understand. In fact, I still shudder when I think of what others have told me about parenting. The sleepless nights, the illnesses, the ruined... well, just about everything, from carpeting to electronics to waistlines. But as God as my witness, in my admittedly short time as a mom, I have yet to feel that chill. Really. Yes, there were sleepless nights, and being popped and peed on. Yet, I wouldn't have it any other way. Why? One, because just as with everything else that has challenged me- Pre-Calculus, working at a super awful job, being married, dealing with a chronic illness- I have emerged much stronger having had to deal with it. Well, except for maybe Pre-Cal, which taught me the lesson that I should've stopped at Algebra. Two, because I've learned much from Zoe. So much. Here are a few: 1.) Don't take things too seriously. Nearly everyday lately, I've turned around for LITERALLY two minutes and return to Zoe having my cell in her mouth. Or the TV remote. Or a corner of my iPad. Sometimes, she's managed to crawl into near disaster. My first reaction is, "What the ksfhkrfskhs!" And my second, is to quietly laugh to myself. Like my daughter, I am learning to call them how I see them. And sometimes, it's really not that serious. Or really, not serious at all.

 2.) It's okay to cry. Other times, it is serious. At least enough to cry. I'm not saying I go into hysterics, but I know, balancing church, family, etc., can be trying. Sometimes, letting out some tears is totally cleansing. It's like a little emotional reset. So when two loved ones passed a few weeks ago, I sat and cried. And was the better for it.

 
 

 3.) Smile often. Zoe is one of the smiliest babies I've ever known. Really. Most mornings, she wakes up smiling. She smiles at us. Her Big Poppa. Our pastor. And especially Keiron's co-worker Tim (yeah, she's totally a flirt). It's good to smile. Meet a new day with happiness.

4.) Be determined. When Z focuses on something, she'll keep going (even it means a tumble off the bed) until she gets it. There have been many days I've  felt weak and did not even attempt to go out. I'll stop myself before I even tried. Watching Zoe crawl, squiggle, wiggle and kick her way to her goal inspires me to do so. Onward march! Or crawl. 5.) K is awesome. Yeah, duh, I know he is. But I need to show him that. Daily. Zoe will scream and laugh when K gets come home from work. Or goes into the living room and then comes back. She shows her Daddy how much he is missed. A reminder to me to throw some of that excitement his way, too. P.S. to Matt, you're going to be a great dad. You already are.

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Some Sunday Stuff: July 2nd.


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My Z this past week.. :-)

 

Happy Fourth of July Weekend. Hope you'll find time to take in some rays at the beach, lake or park. Or maybe have a backyard barbeque full of grilled treats, yummy sweet and nice, cool beverages. Maybe you're going to just laze around the pool or sunbathe on the deck. It's all good!

If, however, you're like me, and have absolutely zero plans, and this will be just another weekend, then welcome to The Blah! It's awkwardly quiet here, but pull up a seat. I'll keep you company!

First up, this episode of The United States of Anxiety called "Music, McCarthy and the Sound of Americana". Some deets:

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The Preachers: Charles Colcock Jones, Christianizer of the Negroes.

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(Image Source: Wikipedia)

It's time for another entry in the ongoing series "The Preachers", in which I look at some of the United States' most influential spiritual/religious leaders. All of the previous entries are of people who had their biggest impact in the 20th Century, even if they were born in the 19th. This post, however, will take us back to the Antebellum Period, when the Industrial Revolution was just taking off in the North and cotton was king in the South. Oh, and there were thousands and thousands and thousands of Black slaves. 

The slaves, coming from various countries (mostly in west Africa), originally spoke different languages and followed different religions. From Kimberly Sambol-Tosco at PBS:

At the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade, African religious beliefs and practices were numerous and varied. In addition to a wide variety of polytheistic religions, a significant portion of the continent had for centuries fallen under Islamic influence. Despite this diversity, there were some common threads across cultural groups. For instance, West African societies, the largest source for American slaves, shared a belief in a Supreme Creator, a chief deity among lesser gods, to whom they prayed and made sacrifices. Through laws and customs honoring the gods, the ancestors of one's people, and the elderly, West Africans sought a harmonious balance between the natural and spiritual worlds. Further, they made music and dance vital components of their worship practices. Enslaved men and women kept the rites, rituals, and cosmologies of Africa alive in America through stories, healing arts, song, and other forms of cultural expression, creating a spiritual space apart from the white European world.

 

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Flashback Friday: Merle Oberon, Hollywood (Secret Indian) Star.


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(Image Source)

 

Merle Oberon was stunningly beautiful, and one of Hollywood's first genuinely glamorous stars. She was also mixed-race, born in India, and acutely aware of existing racism and prejudice that could've easily derailed her acting career before it even had a chance to develop. So the beautiful actress became Tasmanian with a faux studio-promoted bio, and lived for decades with a lie that even had her mom acting as a live-in maid. Sigh. From The Daily Mail:

She was one of the great stars of Hollywood’s golden age and shared a kiss with Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights.


But mystery has always surrounded Merle Oberon’s early life, not least because of the version of events given by the actress herself.

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Some Sunday Stuff: June 25th


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From left to right: Greg, Nate, Joe, Justin, Jenny and the judge.

 

It's been a looooong time since I did a "Some... Stuff" post, but here goes. On Friday, my brother Joe and his wife, Jenny, officially adopted our nephew Justin (our sister Joscelyne's son... she passed away in 2012). It was a long, arduous process, but thank you Lord, it's done. Congratulations, guys!

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Chanell, after receiving her diploma.

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So maybe Indians are kinda, sorta Black?


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Bonda girl in Orissa. Image by: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0/Flickr/Otabi kitahachi (via HuffPo)

 

Well, at least some Indians are... a few weeks ago, I confessed up to thinking as a kid that Indians were Black. And a few of my Indian/Bangladeshi friends gave me e-props for it (what up?!). One of them, Wafi, passed on this HuffPo article by Rita Banerji from 2015 that goes into fascinating detail about how there is indeed a strong genetic link between Indians and Africa:

 

 Growing up in India, I never met or heard about Indians with African lineages. Then in 2005 I watched a dance performance by the Sidi Goma, a group of musicians from the African Indian community, the Siddi, and I was astonished and mesmerised. Since then I've discovered that India's African roots are much older than the Siddis, and are not only evident in numerous other communities, but percolate through direct descent in the blood of at least 600 million Indians.

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Flashback Friday: Lena Horne on the Blacklist.


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Lena Horne (Image Source)

Lena Horne- singer, actress, glamour queen of the 1940's- found herself blacklisted in Hollywood, labeled a Communist betrayer of democracy in the early 1950's. It was a particularly spectacular fall, and Horne was determined to not have her career tarnished by smears of Red.

First, some backstory on Horne from PBS' "American Masters: Lena Horne" page:

Born in Brooklyn in 1917, Lena Horne became one of the most popular African American performers of the 1940s and 1950s. At the age of sixteen she was hired as a dancer in the chorus of Harlem’s famous Cotton Club. There she was introduced to the growing community of jazz performers, including Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, and Duke Ellington. She also met Harold Arlen, who would write her biggest hit, “Stormy Weather.” For the next five years she performed in New York nightclubs, on Broadway, and touring with the Charlie Barnet Orchestra. Singing with Barnet’s primarily white swing band, Horne was one of the first black women to successfully work on both sides of the color line.

 

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Flashback Friday: When Sammy Davis Jr. got devilish.

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(Image Source: Vice)

 

Last week in the Anton La Vey post, I mentioned how Sammy Davis Jr. became a member of The Church of Satan for a while. This struck me as... well, pretty weird. I could see why the publicity-loving Jayne Mansfield would sign up to be Team Lucifer, but Sammy "Member of Sinatra's Rat Pack" Davis Jr.? He was so... laid-back and... cool. And Jewish. He most definitely had converted to Judaism. So what the what? Let's go to Helen O' Hara at The Telegraph for more:

 

Sammy Davis Jr, the singer, actor and Rat Pack member whose own philosophy of life drove him to try just about everything that presented itself - women, men, religion, drugs - became involved in 1968. He had noticed a gang of lively young people each with a single red-painted nail at The Factory, a nightclub he co-owned, and was invited to go with them to a party he described as “dungeons, dragons and debauchery”.

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Flashback Friday: When Buddy Holly Broke the Color Line- at the Apollo.


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Bespectacled Buddy. (Image Source)

 

Before his shocking death at only 22 in 1959, Buddy Holly managed to make major moves. A native of Lubbock, Texas, Holly began playing the guitar as a kid, and counted a number of Country Music singers as influences. As a teen he began listening to Rhythm & Blues over the radio late at night, and it wasn't long before he combined Country and R&B and began playing the hot new sound of the 1950s: Rock & Roll.

Amazingly, Holly's professional career really only took off when he signed with Decca Records in 1956, meaning he hit the top of the charts, toured the country (and even internationally), and packed theatres in 3 short years (along with his band The Crickets for part of that time).This post is going to focus on one particular set of performances in 1957, when Holly took Harlem. From The Delete Bin:

Rock ‘n’ roll is not a type of music. It was a social phenomenon that threaded together music of many American cultures by the 1950s, and continues to be that today on a global scale. To prove the point of the range of rock ‘n’ roll music of their era, Lubbock Texas band Buddy Holly and The Crickets performed at the Apollo Theatre in August of 1957. Expectations were certainly undercut in the days before the civil rights movement, when audiences and musicians of various races simply did not mix. But, thanks to their historic show at The Apollo, this rule was gloriously broken.

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