Archive for December, 2013

Blogs You May Have Missed in 2013

Even though I seem to be blogging less and less these days, I did manage to have a few up over the course of the year.  Here’s a few of my favorites/most popular:

Road to Mo*Con Series – I had no idea what the response to Mo*Con VIII: The Mind and Spirit of the Artist was going to be.  Leading up to that discussion, I invited several friends to share their experiences with dealing with some of their mental struggles.  I was stunned by the honesty of these folks.  In case you missed any, here they are:  Maurice Broaddus – Being Crazy, Christian, and Creative, Lucy Snyder, Doug Warrick, Jim C. Hines, Gary A. Braunbeck, Nate Southard, Delilah Dawson, Michelle Pendergrass, Steven Saus, Janet Harriett.  These folks are my heroes.

Rejecting Papa SMOFs – growing up black and geek has always been an issue of mine.  One I’m sure I’ll be coming back to in 2014.

Django Unchained and Fambul Tok reviews.  Originally they were meant to be one review.  I wanted to compare to approaches to handling the legacy of horrors that people inflict on each other.  Two sides of the same coin, Django Unchained is a revenge fantasy while Fambul Tok is a documentary on an on-goig mission to do the hard work of forgiveness.

Every now and then I like to pull back the curtain and reveal a little bit of what life is like in the Broaddus household.  Apparently the blog that managed to “explain a lot” about me was this one explaining why I seemed to drop off the planet for a while.  And led to my grandmother becoming a folk hero to many of my friends (my grandmother passed away unexpected a few months later.  We returned to Jamaica for the funeral).

Speaking of family, my kids were in rare form this year.  Although I co-wrote a story with my oldest.

I also managed to remind folks that social media was a loaded weapon, then declare that I was done arguing with folks online, just in time to write a non-controversial piece on the use of the N-word.  Yeah, that pretty much sums up my year on the blog.

[Facebook sums up my year this way.]



Cities of Refuge Ministries: Work in Progress

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I probably ought to put this a bit in context.  Officially founded in October of 2012 (unofficially, we’d been at it since January), Cities of Refuge Ministries is a non-profit organization that helps homeless adults through a relational model, extending the compassion of Jesus Christ, as we spend time with each other working through emotional and spiritual struggles together.  We provide a long-term residential environment where program opportunities are tailored to the individual’s situation and goals in a case management framework.

In March 2013, Cities of Refuge Ministries purchased two pieces of property.  With our first transitional home at full occupancy and having support volunteers, we launched CoRe Indy, our micro-business side which provides job opportunities for some of our clients.  Cities of Refuge Ministries partnered with Volunteers of America to form a work crew.

Basically, we believe it takes a collaborative community approach to break the cycle of poverty.  We partner with our neighbors and other organizations. As the men move through our program, we wish to provide them with skill sets that they can use to pursue long term employment opportunities.  We want to create opportunities for men to reunify with their families and pursue their dream of homeownership, maintaining the neighborhood’s assets, and reinvigorate communities, one stabilizing family at a time.

We celebrated the debut of our first rehabilitated property with an Open House (catered by RoE Creations, pictured!).  Real Scene TV came out to do a profile on us.  (Keep in mind, the camera adds ten pounds and there must have been at least three cameras on me at all time.  I blame RoE Creations!)


Sometimes Your Kids Just Win

As many folks who enjoy the peek into the Broaddus household via my tweets or Facebook status updates, there are those who are convinced that I am simply making stuff up for the sake of entertainment. Granted, I’m not above such antics, however, sadly, tales of me and my family don’t really need embellishing. Also, no such accusations ever come from those who have actually been around us. To this day, Chesya Burke won’t let me forget the time my kids peed in the vents. She actually uses it to win arguments:

Me: I completely disagree with your point and every argument you make.
Chesya: Yeah, well, at least my kids don’t pee in vents.

[To be fair, the boys were 3 and 4 and were watching their favorite cartoon, Spongebob Squarepants. They didn’t want to miss anything, so rather than wait until a commercial, they peed down the air vents. For those who have wondered how we cleaned that up, simple: we moved.]

The vent peeing was also on my watch, meaning mom wasn’t home. I couldn’t bring myself to punish them because prioritizing television watching over mundane niceties, well, I considered it some pretty solid reasoning. [I think this is the crux of Chesya’s point, now that I think about it.]

I’ll admit, teaching them how to pick locks, that was on me, too. It seemed like a great idea at the time. However, it meant that I would never be able to have peace in the bathroom ever again.

FINALLY, something I can blame on my wife. I’ll just quote her Facebook status:

Are you kidding me???!!!!! My kids make me wanna pull my hair out at times….. on Thanksgiving day the boys asked if they could make a tin can telephone, so I said yes. Which that was a mess in itself since I told them be careful the can is sharp, and my youngest goes and puts his hand in it and cuts his hands up…… But today I see they poked a hole in the wall, put the string through the wall so they can talk to each other while they are in their own room. UGH!!!!!

reese on the phone
[You’ll be glad to know they used HER “stud finder to check for studs and look for the plugs (electrical outlets) and made sure it wasn’t near the wiring. Then they poked a huge screwdriver (hitting the screwdriver with a hammer) through the wall.”]

Yeah, this is what we call a Tuesday.

You Know If You’re Down

Fritz Pollard Alliance Asks NFL Players To Stop Using The “N”Word In Response To The Recent Incidents With Richie Incognito And Trent Williams

n-word1I always find discussions about whether or not we in the black community should be using “the N-word.” The N-bomb is an often sticky point of dialogue within the black community, but the argument that has my interest today is the notion that we shouldn’t use the word because it’s confusing to white folks because if we can use it, they should be able to use it.

Wait, what?

Whenever this discussion comes up (like when folks wanted to take the N-word out of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), quite a few thoughts hit me at the same time. On the surface, I see the possible point of confusion. The word has become so ubiquitous in our language and music that it is woven into the fabric of who we are as a community. We can call one another a nigger with a familial familiarity, term of endearment and brotherhood. Some even argue that such co-opting of the word saps it of its power, and that we have reclaimed the power of it from those who had used it against us. So since “we” use it, we can’t act shocked when we’ve sent a mixed message to the millions of white folks who buy the hip hop CDs and sing along, repeat the routines of their favorite comedians, or who want to hang out with “their boys” in that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I guess I’m old school. I think defending the use of that word only rationalizes the internalization of hatred. The word perpetuates the legacy of hate, in one powerful word encompassing the history of slave ships to Jim Crow. The word is the penultimate form of dehumanizing, the spit-in-your-face kind of assault to one’s sense of dignity and self-worth. This is particularly tricky for me as an artist when I write. I think long and hard (read: agonize) when I choose to use the word in my stories. I want to be true to my characters and how the word gets used informs those characters. On the flip side, it throws me off when I hear people reading my work and repeating those words out loud.

Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing folks read my work. I WANT folks to read my work (by the way, here’s Mark Reads King Maker Prologue Part 2), but sometimes it gives me pause. I’m putting “the word” out there, to be consumed as entertainment. Yes, I want to push the reader and make them think, but I haven’t written a treatise, I’ve written a piece of entertainment.

But then there’s the notion of who “gets” to use the word. With all the news from the Miami Dolphins football team a few weeks ago, I found it curious that Richie Incognito use of the word didn’t divide the locker room the way Riley Cooper using it did. Because there are rules of friends, private, and inclusion.

In short, you know if you’re down.

In private, my wife (who is white) has been around and adopted by family and knows that she probably gets a pass if she dropped the N-bomb … given the proper context and usage. She wisely believes that 1) she doesn’t want to ever get comfortable using the word and 2) because she doesn’t always get the “rules” of proper usage and context, that she’s going to play it safe and just never use the word.

See, white folks? It’s really not that hard. It can seem a little complicated. The word can work in art, be it movie, television, books, or music. I get it: you get all excited to repeat that David Chappelle skit you laughed so hard at or sing the words from your favorite song. And it seems like folks introducing the word into public usage to be consumed and repeated by fans makes it socially acceptable. And perhaps with your boys/girls/folks you’re down with, in a situation that’s considered private usage, you probably can. Though a simple rule of thumb is if you have to ask if it’s okay for you to use it, it’s probably not.

By the way, white folks, sorry if your feelings are hurt on this, but you don’t get a vote on this issue. I understand that some folks have entitlement issues. They get so used to their sense of privilege that they take any infringement of their “freedoms” or “rights” or them not being able to do something that others can and thus will call foul with a quickness. But it’s not a double standard, it’s life. Some groups get to say things others can’t. Be they members of the same fraternity, military branch, sports team or what have you. People not in their groups don’t get the same leeway to say what they want. Membership has its few privileges and some membership has its costs. There is an entire history and legacy to the existence of the N-word.

So, in short , we in the black community “get” to use it because we’ve “earned the right”/paid the price to use it. Yay us. To paraphrase Chris Rock, I guess I’ll wait at my mailbox to receive my N-word prize.

Did Brian Keene Visit This School?

Students to hospital after Axe body spray released at Medgar Evers College Preparatory School

Emergency crews went to a Brooklyn school to investigate a report of a hazardous smell — only to learn that someone released Axe body spray in a classroom.

2010 05-02-10  House - Brian, nice suitYou may think this is one of my random attacks on Brian Keene (see Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas are Dicks), but you have to know the history.  (Plus, he’s on a blogging hiatus and can’t argue back.)*

During an extended a Mo*Con visit , he “accidentally” left behind a bottle of Axe body wash. Yeah, I’m probably breaking the man code by revealing that Keene must enjoy smelling like a prepubescent boy drenched in perfume.

My sons, however, loved it.

They would slather on that stuff to the point where my wife once uttered the now famous-in-the-Broaddus-household line: “Get away from me, you’re burning my eyes.”

Flash-forward two years into our now mandatory Axe purchasing purgatory: the boys, being boys, had friends over and discovered the joys of puncturing aerosol cans. Yeah, you know where this is going. I come home from work to find my family on the lawn because the boys were playing “grenades” in the garage with a can of punctured Axe. My entire garage, three weeks later, still smells like an excited Justin Bieber fan.

It should be aired out by Mo*Con.

Thanks Keene.

*And I really wish I could find that pic of me and Keene dressed as Crocket and Tubbs because that would be the perfect pic for this blog post. You’ll have to make do with him as Crocket. It could be worse: I could be posting the pics of us in dresses, but no one wants to see that again.