Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Here I am, sitting at my computer being disturbed by my neighbors' loud music. Today is pretty tame in terms of time it is being played…..it is about 1 in the afternoon. Normally they reserve that kinda loud music for between the hours of 12 midnight to 4a.m. Call the who? The poe-leece??? No, dear we are not in the suburbs. We in the ghetto. Well technically in the ghetto. We're in the part of the ghetto that just has individual houses instead of tenement apartments….Y'all know what I am talking about ……in the ghetto but just a step from where all the real grimy action goes on…..Don't worry - you can hear a coupla gunshots in the distance though… Anyway, ain't no police coming for noise in the ghetto. Doesn't happen. They come after the gunshots, if at all. I often tell my Mom that when I grow up I want to move out to an apartment on the hills with rich, white people and no noise. And I think that is the crux of my identity problem (or just complexity whichever way you want to look at it)…

You see, even though I live in the ghetto, with all the pre-requisite characteristics….the neighborhood weed man, the mini-mart in somebody's house selling soft drinks (soda to you Americans), the chicken and fries on a Friday night, the loud rap and dancehall music………I was different. I went to a prestigious school of mostly middle to upper class kids. I was the kid who didn't play outside. I was NOT allowed to have a boyfriend till I was 18 and left high school while there are people in my neighborhood who were moms at 14 and 15. While teens were playing R&B and dancehall, I was appreciating classical music and I LIVED in the library. In short I lived an existence considered by most of the denizens of my neighborhood as well, bougie.

As adult however, once I leave my home, I am really more or less in middle to upper class world. My close friends and acquaintances are mostly people with degrees, some of them multiple. Those that don't have, like me, are in the process of earning one. I remember one night, myself and a friend who attends university with me travelling home on public transportation and discussing some coursework we were doing and thinking, I wonder what the driver must be thinking? Of course, the driver was an obvious ghetto denizen. And of late, even though I don't want to because I am basically proud of where I come from and will defend it to the eyeteeth if anybody dares to say something negative about it in my presence, I find myself more and more irritated by what Chris Rock would call "niggas." I am wondering if three years in this university environment has gotten me too accustomed to what he calls "black folk" instead. And even as I feel irritated at the "niggas" who are playing loud, inane music right now, there are definitely things about ghetto life to be enjoyed. The realness and the simplicity can't be beat (and the Friday night fries are tha bomb! Better than KFC any day).

Despite cries for all black people to unite, there is difference in upper to middle and lower class blacks. I have felt it keenly at times as I switch fairly fluidly from world to the next. And despite being upwardly mobile, there is still that humble chick inside of me waiting to come out at moment's notice (especially when I see upper to middle class conspicuous consumption. I'm too cheap for that crap.) So I think I will coin a new phrase to describe a girl that is too ghetto to be completely bougie but too bougie to be completely ghetto – BOUGHETTO anyone?

Monday, August 3, 2009


There are writers all over the world. From those who write poems in their notebooks…..odes to love lost, love, desired, anguish and pain………..to those who slave away in front of the computer screen every day. There are columnists, novelists, poets, playwrights, humorists, satirists, journalist, bloggers, screenwriters, pulp fiction authors, professional authors and amateur hacks. There are those who stand the test of time and are called classics – Shakespeare, Dickens, Machiavelli, Aristotle and the modern classics….Toni Morrison, V.S. Naipaul, James Baldwin to name a few. There are the New York Times Bestsellers with hundreds of thousands, even millions of readers and those who labour in obscurity and just wish for a single reader. But essentially wiring is the written expression of what is in the human psyche and soul about the human experience. Thus I'd like to boldly venture that there are certain elements that form part of the soul of all writers.

This is my bold and forward listing of the elements of soul of a writer.

  1. Love of language, in particular the written word. No matter what language, the writer writes in or how he does it, he must love language. For it is his tool and his craft at the same time to convey what he desires to be heard.
  2. Passion about his subject matter. The true writer feels deeply about his subject matter and uses language to craft his ideology about it to display in his work to the world. Without it, a writer cannot endure to create words and images out of seeming nothingness.
  3. The universal horror of tow things……the blank page and writer's block. Unfortunately the two are not mutually exclusive. A blank page is the canvas for a writer's art to flourish…however, a blank page that stay there too long is a sign of that horror of horror, dread of dread and fear of fears –WRITER'S BLOCK. When there is nothing so awful as when the writer desires to create and there is nothing that comes to mind to create. Writer's block is made especially worse when one is under a tight deadline…..
  4. Experience. A writer must draw on some element of his own and other's experiences to create his material. A writer with NO experience whatsoever is one that is not human.
  5. A desire to chronicle something of what he has seen, heard, felt or dreamt. Basically something to say.
  6. A desire to have his work read, even if it is just by himself.
  7. A love-hate relationship with editing. Whether he self-edits or somebody else does it for him, no writer is exactly thrilled to be edited. For a writer's creation is part of his soul and editing means somehow, squeezing, molding, cutting or chopping off a bit of it. However, a writer will appreciate and submit to good editing if the final product is better than he intended.
  8. And finally, a simultaneous capacity for solitude and yet the need to be among people. Writing is done best in relative solitude…..but unfortunately(or fortunately depending on the mood said writer is in) , one needs other people to write……to edit his material, to read it, to give feedback, to draw on for experiences, to have something to say about..

So folks, there you have it so far. If my writer friends have anymore to add….feel free. This writer is done.