09.16.2016 | The More Things Change . . .
Social Media, Protest and Arab Spring
The Black Lives Matter movement has always reminded me of the Arab Spring protest of 2011. I hold out hope for the BLM movement to become stronger, more vocal and force to be reckoned with. During the height of the Arab Spring protest I did a news interview about how new media was helping the Arab protesters gain momentum. I recently watched that interview again and couldn’t help but think of Black Lives Matter.
07.13.2016 | A Free Black Woman in America?
In 2005 I created a news and information podcast. Since then I have been the show’s producer and host. The truth of the matter is that it was talk radio that truly owned my heart. But I always felt that mainstream media, which I worked in for most of my career, was failing minorities and especially women. So down the podcasting rabbit hole I went to express my need to do something about the ridiculous state of news and information served up to the minority community. One such commentary is titled “What is that Smell? Radio & TV Programming for Black Audiences.” The first year of podcast episodes actually came with an explanation of what it was that people were listening to. Times have changed.
As I contemplate officially closing down my podcast site and archives, I consider how much the world, the internet and I have changed in eleven years. I’m sorry for all the lost early voices of podcasting that populated the iTunes store. Those regular folks who had something to say, took their shot and faithfully posted episodes. They created content as a labor of love, but they were always trying to find a way to monetize their shows. I wish that I had the strength to continue being “The Small Voice in the Nation’s Capital.”
My podcast was also a marker of my personal life and times–as a mother of two children who were coming of age, my ugly and protracted divorce, friendships lost and found, and my love for my grandmother, Adele. I put it all out there for anyone who cared to give a listen.
Well, my son has just turned twenty-one, and my grandmother died last year at ninety-eight years old. After my divorce, I moved in with my beloved Adele when she was ninety-four to help see her through to the end. There are several stories on my website that I wrote about the woman I called, “the original badass.” I even fulfilled a dream to write a fictionalize novel about her life and times and the community she lived in (www.seatonplace.net). She died a week before I wrote the last few pages. It’s no wonder then that as my writing and care-giving for my grandmother increased, my internal calling to continue producing, recording, editing and posting new hour-long podcast episodes faded. (Hard to believe, I know, but I’m not sure if there’s that much #BlackGirlMagic in the world. I damn sure tried.)
Almost simultaneously, as I was mastering the care and feeding of Adele, in 2012, Trayvon Martin was murdered. My son, too, was 17-years old at the time and at all times I was knots-in-my-stomach-frightened for him and for all Black boys. You see, in the winter of 1995, my ob/gyn told me I was having a boy. I was home alone when I got the news. I crumpled to the floor in tears that day with prescient accuracy, repeating to just me and my invisible bundle of joy, “How am I going to raise this boy.” Needless to say, most recently, he and his dreadlocks have been pulled over for driving while Black or dreadlocked, I’m not sure which. Let’s just say both. And his very first day at the University of Maryland he was stopped and frisked by campus police for carrying a backpack on a college campus. WTF?
The increasingly blatant and hatefully specific misanthropic assault on Black folks over the last several years makes me wanna holler—sing Marvin. I have kept my tears and words in strict lockdown—fearing the flood and anger that I am absolutely sure will follow. But I have cried as I have read spectacular and eloquent writing by people profoundly affected by Black lives bullied, harassed, degraded and lessened in jobs, schools—the elementary through the university variety, on any street and at the always troublesome pool parties. And, of course, there are the Black Lives that have been just haphazardly murdered in whooptys, idyllic parks, by the side of dusty country roads, in the crowded hood, up against super highways, in front of convenience stores, in the middle of quiet neighborhood streets—in broad daylight and under assumed cover of darkness. For the first time just last spring, while I was running on my regular route along the National Mall, right here in the Nation’s Capital, steps from the Obama White House, surrounded by cherry blossom-seeking white tourists, I actually felt like there was a target on my back. For the first time since I left South Boston as a little girl, I felt like a nigger again–like strange fruit. I still wasn’t free. As Jesse Williams said, “Freedom is somehow always conditional here. . . Freedom is always coming in the hereafter . . . We want it now.”
So, I am at a point where most of life’s tethers are worn or have fallen away. My grandmother’s home has been sold and in a few weeks I’ll be homeless. After almost 70 years, what my grandmother worked like a dog to have and to provide shelter for others has fallen to the gentrifiers.
It’s a challenging time to want to be a free, Black woman in America. There so much more for me to do and see. I’d love to take a cross country trip—how safe would that be? I still have my dreams of talk radio. Yes, my voice and my heart still ache to be heard. I’ve never been to New Orleans—I’d like to get into formation with the #BlackLivesMatter protesters wherever they’re protesting. I so want to experience New Orleans, the Grand Canyon and the Pacific Ocean. There’s never been a better time in my life to check some things off of my bucket list. But really, how safe is it out there to be so frivolous and to be thinking I’m a free Black woman in America?
04.13.2016 | WABA Interview
The community of Eckington has been a part of my grandmother’s life for over 67 years…
I LOVE this community!!!
02.19.2016 | Hello 2016!
A new year and Seaton Place the novel is still my consuming passion. 2015 was full of challenges and creativity and I expect the new year to be more of the same. I am, after all, trying to get a book published. A part of the same creativity that gave birth to Seaton Place also gave birth to the creation of the pretty pendant pictured below. If you’re not familiar, this pendant is a mashup of the DC flag and outline of the Nation’s Capital–all done up in sterling silver. I originally designed this piece as a kickstarter contributor’s gift. Lot’s of folks have asked where they can find it. Well, you’ve come to the right spot. Shoot me an email from the “Contact” tab and this sweet little piece can be yours too. The necklace that is, not me! Oh my!
Progress on Seaton Place continues. I’ve spent most of the winter making minor tweaks to the story and whipping misbehaving commas and testy initial caps into shape. Time to submit to realio, trulio publishers.
10.24.2015 | Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone!
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, BEGIN IT.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
These words are oft attributed to Johann Goethe. Of late, Goethe scholars have come to think they are misattributed. Wherever the words came from, I offer a full-throated and lusty “Yes.”
My Kickstarter campaign was a great experience in boldness and, yes, even magic. I met interesting people and shared, with whoever would listen, my absolute belief in the book that I’ve written. In the hope of getting my book published, I risked my limited finances. In addition, I brought a career worth of skills and who I am as a person to the project.
Somewhere on the Kickstarter page it announces “project failed” along with the date–truth, but rude. And while I fell waaaay short of my fundraising goal, I will always be confident that I wrote a good goddamn book and told a great goddamn story. I was and will always be ready to share the story of the small Eckington community in the Nation’s Capital. It was encouraging to chat with people who wanted to know the story and the history and who wanted to help.
To all the folks who contributed, watched a video, attended a party, or who listened patiently to the best brand ambassadors on the streets of DC, while trying to get to lunch, I say–
10.19.2015 | Sandwich Boards Abound!
Naturally, wanting my kickstarter campaign to be successful, I took some of kickstarter’s expert advice. They suggested a sandwich board promotion and that’s just what I did. On three beautiful, early, fall days in the Nation’s Capital, my sandwich board commandos and I got out and walked around various DC neighborhoods–from Connecticut Avenue to Bethesda.
39 years of Adele’s life spent at the Mayflower Hotel
We talked to anyone who’d listen (and some who tried unsuccessfully to resist my charm). We talked to folks excited for the project and who wanted to know more, people who just didn’t have the time and folks who couldn’t care less. But it was all good and a great time.
It was a great experience that I’ll always cherish–trying to get Seaton Place published.
Next week open mic nights!
Please continue your support!
08.29.2015 | Seaton Place and Kickstarter Soft Launch…
A Great Success and Neighborhood Event!
On August 29th, Eckington neighbors, friends and family turned out at the James family homestead on Seaton Place to support Seaton Place the novel . There were stories of Eckington history and its future and even an Eckington trivia game. The winners received Starbucks gift cards.
Finally there was a fitting toast to Adele, who died on a beautiful spring morning, April 18, 2015 at the age of 98. Glasses were raised with her most favorite E&J Brandy as Function at the Junction, the song that most reminds me of Adele and Seaton Place’s halcyon days, played in the background.
Adele Belcher James, antagonist or protagonist? You decide. She plays a major role in Seaton Place. Love her or hate her she made a way for herself and so many others to survive and sometimes even thrive.