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Some Things Never Change

Thu., January 27, 2011 4:38pm (EST)


Race Divides Savannah Council
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 1 week ago


SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  

Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson succeeded the city’s first African-American Mayor, Floyd Adams, Jr. (photo Geoff L Johnson)

A racial rift has opened on Savannah City Council that could make it hard for a new chief executive to take the reigns in the port city.

The divide is over the search for a new city manager.

Tensions had been simmering for weeks but came into the open at a fractious meeting in which white and black council members ended up backing different candidates for the city’s top administrative job.

The white members wanted the white candidate but the 5-4 majority black council chose two black candidates as finalists.

Former councilman Ellis Cook says, the situation isn’t good — whoever wins the job.

“Whoever wins will have to patch up the wounds that have been made. It’s very sad,” says Cook, who also is a candidate for mayor. “The teamwork just went out the window. It’s very, very bad for the city.”

Council members say publicly, they want the best candidate, but they also make not-so-veiled insuations that others don’t.

The finalists are outgoing Albany city manager Alfred Lott and current Savannah interim city manager Rochelle Small-Toney.

The rough edges of recent politics lay bare long-simmering divisions.

The entire council is up for re-election this year and several are considering a run for mayor.


This is an old writing I was working on like  year ago. I a consolidating many of my works in an effort to motivate msyelf to write consistently. Tell me what you think or if you have anything to add…

“We ain’t like them, man. We built different. We warriors out here, man.”  Those words have always resonated with me. They resonated more after a long phone conversation with a great mind. But once I read “Killing” by Theodore Nalson, the thoughts were ringing so loud, I just had to release them from my brain. So here it is. My apologies if these thoughts seem jumbled or arbitrary. This is an exercise in theory building. It is about war. It is about bonding. It is about culture. But most of all, it is about killing. More succintly, it is about what happens to a person when the idea of killing becomes an everyday occurence. What happens to a group of people who become intimately entangled with extreme violence and death. This is about veterans of war. But not the traditional veterans. I will, however, use them and literature  concerning their difficulties in transitioning as foundation for the theory that I am seeking to construct. The veterans I speak of are ex-convicts. But also the children growing up in violent neighborhoods where the convicts are made and released. They are veterans of a different type of war. A war being fought simultaneously in the streets, the jails, and the prisons. The culture I speak of is the inner-city culture affected by the violence, concentrated in the prisons, and perpetuated in Hip Hop.

*Violence as a right of passage*

I watched this news special on CNN a couple nights ago…. about the recession, and how a large percentage of Americans’ retirement money had vanished when the real estate bubble popped. There were all these old people crying, begging for jobs. Most were complaining about how they would have to work until they were 70, some would have to work until they died. THey put their faith in the system and the system fucked them, pulled out and then expected them to say thank you as they wiped off their chin. I refuse to be like that. I went to college and I came home with no degree, a baby, and a criminal record.  No felonies but what I’ve learned, no what I have experienced is that employers don’t care if you have felonies. To them a non violent marijuana charge is the same as murder. But I’m not blaming anyone. I tak that back. I blame myself. I went to school with the wrong worldview. I should not have went to school to make anyone happy or to find a job. All that time I spent doing research for others and trying to impress professor to be accepted into the academic social circle, I should have spent it creating my own job. The formula (college + job= happy life) does not work anymore. It never worked if you really wanted to live a life of freedom. Look around the country and you can see millions of old people who invested in that dream. Where are they now? They are in unemployment lines, and job fairs begging and pleading for jobs. If they havent blown their brains out,that is. And what they don’t seem to realize is, they should have never been asking for jobs in the first place. Instead of relying on some other individual to create stability for you, you should have created your own.

Today my mother gave me my 30 days notice. Her reasoning: Even though everyone in our house has the flu, it is unacceptable that I left the house last night but was too sick to go to work. I didn’t say a word. She wouldn’t understand why I felt it was imperative to go to a friend s house and work on a business plan, but I didnt feel it was important to go and stack boxes in a trailer for $8.50 an hour. Especially since I hadn’t taken a day off all week and I have been sick since Friday of last week.  I didn’t explain because that explanation is not in her grasp. To her my aspirations are just dreams. She doesn’t realize that the company she works for was started by a man who had a dream, or at least a really good idea.She doesn’t understand that Just because I am a single father doesn’t mean that I have to throw my dreams away. She wants me to be like her. She wants me to strangle my dreams, throw them in the back of a closet, and go and work for peanuts. She wants me to surrender.  I will not. I will not be like you. I can’t. The sad thing is, my life would have been so much easier if I had just acted as if my son never existed. I wouldnt have to deal with her. I wouldn’t have to come straight from work, watch spongebob,  run bath water, and get my son ready for bed every night. I would be able to focus on what I really should be focusing on, me. No good deed goes unpunished. Thats what they say. Thats what I live. She doesnt get it; that I have to do more than just go to work if I ever want to be more than what I am right now. I guess she has given up on me.I guess she gave up on herself a long time ago. Maybe I think I owe it to myself and my son to never have to beg anyone for  a job; to never depend on any man or company to supply my life stability. Maybe she has surrendered. I. Will. Not.

What is Church Really For?

Something just occurred to me. There is a huge philisophical gap between our generation and our parents generation. This statement may seem obvious. But in the Black community, this divergence of ethos, if you will, causes many problems. It occurred to me while having a conversation with an older woman who I have known all my life. Mrs. Fulcher is  a member of the same church that I went to as a child. She is what we called down here a “sanctified” woman. She attends church every Sunday and is very active in the church’s extra curricular activities. My mother would also fit into this category. I believe that many middle-aged people, women especially, feel the need to do things out of traditions sake or just to keep up appearance. I have a firm belief that being a christian does not really affect the lives of many of the people who I know. The following story will help you see my point.

Mrs. Fulcher called my house one evening to speak to my mother. My mother was not at home. Once the obligated courtesy questions were out-of-the-way, Fulcher informed of her real intentions. She had called to speak to my mother about an incident that happened last sunday. Apparently, my mother and another woman had to be pulled outside of the church after almost getting into a physical altercation at the church. This may be surprising to you. But I know my mother to have a very explosive temper. My siblings and I often were the ones to feel her wrath. My mother, despite all her good deeds and her ability to provide for her children materially, has always been verbally, physically, and emotionally abusive. A fact that most people who know me are not aware of. It is funny how people call you “Spoiled” because you have this or that. But no one really knows the price that we paid for what we had. Anyway, Mrs. Fulcher and I spoke about my mothers explosive anger, her need for therapy. The conversion than moved to myself. The last time that I spoke with her, I had just received my certification in Early CHildhood Education. She had been an employee for the Board of Education here in Savannah for many years and naturally, I came to her for a recommendation. So, I told her that I had a chance to get a job teaching but when the board reviewed by criminal background, they determined that I was not eligible to teach. Oh yeah, I have two misdemeanor marijuana possession charges on my record and three probation violations, all misdemeanors. But the hiring manager felt that enough time had not passed since my convictions. ” You guys sure do love that stuff,”  was Mrs. Fulchers response. She then told me that her grandson, Jordan, was going through the same type of trouble.She was disappointed because Jordan had not gone to college this fall. SHe told me about the disappointment that my mother had for me and how my life and Jordan’s paralleled each other. This was true. Jordan and I spent our school years in gifted programs. The brightest of the bright, our family and friends placed the highest pressures on us to succeed. And we did. Unlike Jordan, I actually went to college (Morehouse) and made it all the way to my senior year and then began getting in trouble with the law and having a son born unexpectedly (that I know have custody of).  I guess this writing is just as much about me venting as it is about me making a point.

But that conversation got me thinking. For the longest time after I came home I felt  like a failure. But it wasnt because I thought I had failed. It was because I felt that I was disappointment to everyone. When I didn’t graduate on time, it felt like everyone turned their back on me. Even to this day, I am still rebuilding from a tumultuous few years and I am not where everyone thinks that I should be. But here’s the point: My mother and Mrs. Fulcher have been going to church their entire lives. What is the point of church if it does not help you to understand when things don’t go as planned. It is selfish and arrogant to feel ill will towards any person because they didn’t do what you expected them to do. Maybe what our parents want for us or what we want for ourselves is not what God had ordained for us. The bible is filled with stories of men who went through trials before becoming the great men of legends. Jesus himself, by all standards, led what would have been considered in his time to be a controversial life. African Americans have such a deep relationship with church but what good is it really doing? A grandmother and a mother holding ill will towards their children because they are not where they expected them to be. A woman nearly fighting in a church. I am not the most religious person, but I can tell you one thing:  If your religion does not give you temperance and does not provide comfort at times of stress, what good is going to church?

Help me write it…

It wasn’t what he expected. The office was filled with middle agers. Everyone wore suits and none of them cursed. When he got the call saying that he had been chosen to be on the show, he almost lost it. He didn’t get the spot on the singles game show he originally applied for, but for some reason the casting producers held on to his audition tape. It had been so long he had nearly forgotten the tape existed. This was much better. He wouldn’t just be a contestant, now he would be the star.

They left a message on his phone saying something about a show that was going to resemble “Flavor of Love” and he would be the star. It was a “once in a lifetime opprtunity” the talking head told him, and he had one week to reply. He replied on the sixth day. They were waiting.  He received more information. They hadn’t come up with a name for the show yet. But he was exactly what they’d been searching for. Here’s what they wanted: come into the office, talk with the big faces, sign your life away. Done, done, and done.

When he arrived at the office,

Bittersweet Epiphany

So, I am realizing something about myself. I never finish anything. I’m not a loser. I am good at a lot of different things. It’s just, nothing seems to hold my interest for long. I do something new. I learn it. Then I get bored and quit doing it. It has just recently occured to me, with age, that you can never be a master of anything to which you can not commit. I cringe at the thought of working a job for years. I am not that guy. I’m not the type of person who gets a job and keeps it for long periods of time. Maybe it is because I do not want a job. Jobs are just things that get me money. I want to be great. I want to create.

I’m drowning in my own thoughts…I forgot how to swim.

We have all been through it. “It just seems no matter how hard I try, My girl(or guy) just doesn’t seem to understand what I am saying.” Okay, let’s cut through the bullshit. For years, we have been talking about how hard it is for a black women to find a good man, how hard it is for a black man to find a good woman. But, is there really a shortage of good black men and women? I seriously doubt it. Had I written this a couple of weeks ago, my response would differ.

A few days ago, I began reading a book entitled “How to Love a Black Woman” by Dr. Ronn Elmore. Ladies, he also has a book entitled “How to Love a Black Man.” I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is no. This isn’t one of those touchy- feely, how-to-guides that will give you a list of things to do tomorrow to make your mate feel like a princess. Dr. Elmore prescirbes some real-life medicine for a real-life ailment that has plagued men and women, especially black men and women. The problem stems from two things. First, many black men come to a relationship with a distorted self-image and a distorted image of black women. Secondly, men and women, plinly, speak tow different languages when it comes to love and we have to learn to communicate our wants and needs to them in a manner that they can understand.

The distortion.For men, especially black men, our masculinity is of paramount importance. The problem comes in when we have a twisted sense of what how that masculinity is defined. For many of us a man is only defined by the degree to which we do things right, and the amount of applause that we receive from those who watch us do it. The problem with that is that we wthen need our women to constantly be head-over-heels for us. Then when she gets closer to us, that need turns into a fear of being exposed. This is what Dr.Elmore calls “the charmer.” He also explains three other situations where our distorted image of self or our woman causes a breakdown in the fabric of the relationship. I think it is important to mention here, how black men also have a twisted perception of the women in our lives. Dr. Elmore offers four black female archetypes: the Fits On Me Black Woman, the Steps On Me Black Woman, the Leans on Me Black Woman,and the Works On Me Black Woman.

The Fits On Me Black woman is the personification of perfection. This is the image that many brothers have in their head as the perfect woman. She is incredibly, eternally fine with no visible flaws. She is an absolute genius that elevates her mans status. Her brilliance can be turned on and off. She’s only interested in what her man is interested in. She is highly spiritual, but pleasing her God is never more important than pleasing her man. Shes outspoken and honest, but only says what he wants to hear. She’s ambitious and self-reliant, but is willing to throw it all away if it inconveniences him or intimidates him. Of course, this image is created from a twisted sense of perfection.

The Steps on Me Black Woman is the exact oposite. She competes with men, trying to outdo them in every area and feels justified in pointing out how men come up short in each area. She is never satisfied and constantly demands more and more sensitivity and emotional expression from her man and then criticizes him for being “weak” when he gives it. She is suspicious, convinced that her man is no good. SHe is unfaithful or fantasizing about having some other man who her man comes up short. She’s acid tounged, eyes rolling and neck swiveling when her man comes up short. Though there are women who have these qualitites, on the whole, this does not reflect how women relate to their men.

The Leans On Me Black Woman is another misrepresentation she eneds you for everything. She needs you to make her life work, needs you to take her hurt away,needs you to finance her existence, etc.

The Works on Me Black Woman is determined to make her man fit her desires and her agenda. She has lots of unsolicited advice, is chrinically controlling, and can’t seem to connect romantically when her man’s performance soes not amtch her preferences.

Before we can have a meaningful relationship, we have to clear our minds of past relationships. Too often, black men and women are too judgemental of our mates. When we meet people, we have a tendency to put people into boxes or categories. Though this cna often save time, in relationships, we are doing ourselves and our significant others a disservice. We have to developed a more balanced perception of our sisters.

Communication is key in any relationship. If you are speaking the same language that is. Imagine for a second that you are lost in the desert. You encounter a man. He has a map, you have a compass. But you do not speak the same language. Needless to say this is a major problem. This is a representation of the biggest problem we have as men and women, black men and women especially: We have the tools to create beautiful, fulfilling relationships, but we do not speak the same language so we cannot work together to reach our destination.Dr. Elmore calls it speaking on two different frequencies, like AM and FM. The fact is, men and women have very different primary motivators in in relationships. Womens primary motivator: security (stability, harmony, and intimacy). Men’s primary motivator: significance (competency, admiration, approval, and self-confidence). “Women flourish when a man proves that you treasure her and are thoroughly devoted to her emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being. when she senses that you care about what’s in her best interest as mauch as your own, and above all, when she’s confident that you are not going to kick her to the curb. She is secure.” Men feel assured that you have her respect, admiration, and appreciation.

The point: you are much more likely to get the love you want, when you give the love that she wants. The challenge: finding a way to speak to your woman in her language. How to do that? Figure out what is importnat to her, fugure out what is important to you. Pay attention to the way she loves yu. She is always telling you the way she needs to be loved, you just have to listen. Check your perceptions and expectations of her. Are they realistic?

More to come…

Do any black women still trust thier men?

Sometimes it is discouraging to hear women talk. Last night I had a revelation of sorts. Me and some friends of mine were sitting on the porch drinking, the usual in Savannah, when  his female cousin, CiCi, came by. It seems like whenever the sexes mix, somehow relationships always seems to be the topic of interest. The topic tonight revolved around cheating. Now, it has always been a hobby of mine to sit back and listen to women talk amongs each other. I have always had this belief that women are very different people when there are no men around. This is why I have so many female friends. I say, if you want to know the truth about women, don’t ask your significant other, ask a female who is not afraid to be judged by you. Anyway, by the time we were in the thick of the conversation, which involved the usual trite banter that most black men and women seem to have when talking relationships and sex, I posed a question. Throughout the conversation, I had filtered through the bullshit and come up with what I thought to be the main reasons that women cheat on men. It seemed that women cheated on their men for specific reasons: their man didn’t have enough money, their man didn’t satisfy them sexually, or their man was cheating on them. My question was ” Okay, what if a man has a good sex game, pays the bills, and you have no proof that he cheats? Do you still cheat?” The answer was discouraging. From what I gathered, even if a man is doing all these things, he has an elevated status in the woman’s life, but there is still no sense of faithfulness. Their reasoning was that no matter how good a man seems, you “can’t put nothing past nobody.”

It hit me then. Is this how all women think? Do all women keep that guy on the side, just in case. I guess it mattered so much to me because I am hitting that age where I am thinking about settling down. I think I have outgrown the need to cheat. I want that one female who I can give my all to. But after that conversation last night, I wondered if there was any hope.

But it was bigger than the coversatin from last night. Like I said, I have several female friends. And it seems that a lot of women have no since of fidelity. I wonder if my girl is the same way? But I wonder, is it just the “tyoe” of women that I am accustomed to interacting with that is the problem. Are educated and hood women the same. I mean, I have been in all circles. I have mingled with high class and low class. And as much as we all would like to think, there really isn’tm uch difference. Are there any women out there who haven’t been so scarred? Are there any women out there who still trust men? Do all women talk like that?