Ode to the Good Guys Part 1

Before I begin, I want to talk a little about this series. I recently met some of the most wonderful humans ever. I was in Sao Paulo having my last meal in Brazil when the folks at the table next to me saw me eating alone and invited me over. Turns out they were my flight attendants on my flight home the next day. I can not tell you how wonderful that night was, and how equally amazing my flight was, all thank to THEIR random act of kindness. So that meeting inspired me to just want to say think you to all the people who are wonderful or do wonderful things, just because. They are the Good Guys…and they deserve a little love so here’s my shout out/recognition/thank you to some of the Good Guys out there! And the first edition is my Mom and Aunt!

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Hello there from Dubai!

This week I’m traveling to the Middle East and I have my mom and aunt, Valerie and Cessalyn, along for the ride. Every few years we hit an international destination for their birthdays (Sept. 1 and 3) and it’s usually a pretty good time although we all have completely different travel styles. Mom wants to sit somewhere, preferably in air conditioning or at least with a major breeze, and read her book. Auntie wants to see and be seen, but with major breaks for resting and napping in the middle and I would be happy if I never sat down until it was back in the airplane seat to come home. Needless to say, we drive each other nuts. I’m always barking about tomorrow’s agenda, mom is looking for a place to sit down and auntie is ready to go back to the hotel.

But I wouldn’t trade these vacations for anything.

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Do you have any idea how cool it is to be able to travel the world with your family?

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To be able to see and do things that I’ve never done and will hopefully never be coerced into doing again (I’m looking at you desert dune ride) with the people you love. I have to say, it’s pretty awesome. Now I’ve been married a time or two so I’ve definitely done trips with a signifiant other, and that’s great too-don’t get me wrong. But mom/aunt/daughter time is great because it after 15 years of not living in the same city, it gives me a chance to just hang out with my girls. There is no worry about the Christmas dinner menu or the birthday party for uncle so and so or whether or not we’ve got tickets to see my show and what she’s going to do while I”m at work, it’s just us. In a neutral place where I don’t know anyone or anything and you don’t either and to make it out with some fun stories, we’re all in this together. Sometimes I get short with them because we’re not on the schedule or they don’t have a seven item want-to-do list prepared upon arrival in Abu Dhabi. But the truth is, I love these ladies. I love these trips and the fact that I can still be 100% myself around my other friends here and my mom just smiles and laughs (and sometimes video tapes) is awesome. And after the after party turns to the after after party, I still want to go home with my family instead of hitting turn up Part 3. Just so we can get up early and do it all again tomorrow.

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Ladies, you’re great.

But I hope you set your alarms. We have a lot to accomplish tomorrow!

That time I had white privilege 

In case you missed it, I’m a Black American woman.

   
 (I don’t take issue with the term African-American, I just wanted to use Black for this conversation.) I wouldn’t have passed anyone’s (except Bessie Smith’s) paper bag test, and I certainly wouldn’t find myself in pink in green had I pledged before 1950*. You get my point.

So last week in Brazil, I got this funny feeling that I’ve been trying to come to understand. And I finally figured it out. Or at least I sort of did. I felt White Privilege. Well, American privilege is more accurate. But it was this general feeling of ickyness. Feeling like I was able to do things and be places and receive a level of service not afforded to others. 

So to preface the situation, I have been on very stringent restrictions about how much I can talk. I had microlaryngoscopy and upon arrival to Brazil was only allowed to talk for 5 minutes out of every half hour. Add to that my entire grasp of the Portugese language can be summed up in one word, obrigada. 

So on day one, most of my interactions went something like this: I enter a store to silence and side eyes. Finally someone says to me, “sybbuinvetjknbcdyjb ssjijvgchbjohfer tsryunojdfg fsgvhinnnfd” to which i respond, “I’m so sorry, I don’t speak Portugese.” And as soon as those magical words escape my lips, the side eyes turned to smiles and impatience is replaced by pity.

Now to be fair, I don’t know the shopping culture in São Paulo or Rio and I can’t begin to assume I know everyone intentions. And most certainly, everyone didn’t have the same attitude. But I had a hunch so I needed to perform a scientific exercise to test my hypothesis. I needed to get out of the stores (mostly for my wallet’s sake) and into the street. 

For days I compared how many people genuinely smiled back at me on the street when I did or didn’t say hello. Two stinking syllables and all of a sudden I’m no longer a less-than Afro-Brazillian, now I’m an American with a great tan visiting your lovely country. I wish I could say it didn’t make a difference. But it did. And that made me laugh at first! Ha! I figured it out! But then I got really sad. 

I didn’t like that feeling. I didn’t like being seated first even though I came in last. I didn’t like people needing to warn me over and over about places because it wasn’t safe for “someone like me” only to arrive and find a multicultural area or just a bunch of brown people. I didn’t like seeing people who looked like me being literally kicked in the streets and no one doing anything. I just didn’t like it. 

And to think, should these same people visit the U.S., the Trumps of the world would hear them speak and instead of, “you’re a visitor in my country,” they’d get “I’m sure you’re an illegal in my country.” That’s some crazy stuff. (Now the whole topic of the travel privileges afforded to Americans that are withheld for other world citizens is just too much for this post, but I have a lot to say on that too!! 😉

So I think I would visit Brazil again, but I have a different perception now. While the whole of me isn’t my skin, the soul of me shares the color and history with those in my skin. I still don’t think I’ve totally come to the word or phrase for what I felt. But if this is what privilege feels like, I don’t think I like it. And I guess I’m glad I get to give mine back. 
   

   
 

*absolutely no shade intended to those mentioned. My step mom is a proud soror as are many family and friends. 

Live rejoicing

Hello! This is going to be a great day! 

A few months ago I went with some amazing friends (Braden, Jacob, Brandon & Marcus) to New Orleans Jazz Fest. And it was awesome! Stupidly delicious food, great music, and the most amazing vacation from life ever. At that time I was tits deep into my 2nd divorce, I was having issues with my money maker (my voice…come on people!) and let’s just say times were rough. 

But thank God for the gospel tent. 

It was Sunday and we had been on a partying spree. Partially as a joke, I said, “We need Jesus today, let’s go into the gospel tent.” Jacob, born and raised in NOLA, said, “I bet I know all the songs, let’s go!” So we’re having a good time and the set is ending with a song we all know, Oh Happy Day. Never the one to back down from a singalong, I chime in we’re all singing and dancing and getting our 1996 Sister Act 2 lives, and next thing I know, I’m boo hoo sobbing (a common theme in this time in my life). 

And it hit me. 

LIVE REJOICING. EVERY DAY. 

After all those years in Sunday School, VBS, Revival, 2 hours of church service every week, how had I not figured it out? After we fight and after we pray, we are supposed to be alive and rejoicing. Every single day. Not just content with our surrounding. Not just thankful the hangover is gone-though I am rejoicing after the particularly bad ones. We have to LIVE REJOICING. EVERY DAY. 

Today from my cozy bed in Brazil, I woke up to see some Facebook posts that really inspired me. A girl in one travel group is raising money to bike Toronto for MS as a tribute to her father who passed away. In another group a woman with polio who relies on crutches to walk posted, while on one vacation, that she’s looking for a companion for her next because physically she can’t do it all alone, but she’s definitely gonna do it! 

Thank you ladies for the reminder. I’m getting out of bed (and off Facebook) and I’m headed out to live rejoicing. I am so thankful for the ability to travel and see the world and so on this day I will REJOICE AND BE GLAD! 

#journeyon