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A Mostly Center-Right Place For Those With Irritable Obama Syndrome and Diversity Fatigue

The Fog Lifts…Maybe May 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — afrocity @ 9:40 PM
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Yes, it has been a while.  In December, I penned my last blog post and never returned.

Zip.  Nada.

Never even visited my WordPress page.

It was never intended you know.  What was supposed to be a short Christmas break turned into a six month hiatus.

Maybe unlike Sarah Palin, there was not any fire in my belly.

For Palin, this obviously refers to her possible 2012 run for the presidency.

For Afrocity it means getting the courage to come back to something that she was not sure was helping any one.

For Sarah and I.  Time will soon tell.

Autograph Letter Signed,

Afrocity

 

Birthday Soliloquy: The Lion Queens August 2, 2010

Filed under: Sunday Soliloquy — afrocity @ 1:01 PM
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Prairie Farm French Vanilla Ice Cream.  A bowl of cherries.  Strawberry shortcake…Red Baron Frozen Pizza.  A pitcher of Kool Aid. Homemade potato salad, oven cooked barbecue ribs. These all all foods that I associate with three birthdays.

Mom- July 27

Afrocity- August 2nd

Grandmother- August 6th.

Three Leo lionesses all laughing it up for a summer week of food stamp spending and fun.  The everyday things that would seem mundane to most were the very source of our pleasure.  Watching the Price Is Right, Family Feud, or MatchGame.  Grandma would always root for the African American contestants.   I would find a nice crisp sundress to wear for the day- my day.  August 2nd always hot.  Rarely has it ever rained on my day.   Even if it did would it have mattered?  This was a child’s love affair with her mother and grandmother.    Once three lionesses.  Now only one remains.

On this day, I should be happy.  I am forty-one years old.  I am alive, successful and independent of  government money.

No foodstamp bought birthday cake for me. I am a proud conservative. An escapee of the “Great Society”.

This lioness is not in need of Obamacare or liberal platitudes.  Look everyone! I made it all on my own.

Mother would be proud. At forty-one I am not on government assistance. Educated, clothed and housed rather nicely. Cats have their own bed. Stainless steel kitchen with double sink. Washer/dryer- not the stackable kind either.

But why are the memory police still chasing me down?

To the extent that I allow myself to be  happy,  I am also equally resigned and well stuck…  College, graduate school, good job, nice apartment…All gifts from God.  However, non of these things have led magically to the happiness that my mother promised me.  By giving me her blessing to pursue the government assistance free “American Dream”,  I was the one left carrying the burden.

I was the one strapped with the historical ambitions of two African American women who never realized their dreams.  One a divorced maid, mother of eight.  The other a welfare mother of a so called young gifted and black daughter would would grow up to scoff  at all of her liberal teachings.

The lioness den.  Imperfect in its protection,  little did the two women know that it is what saved me from being another black victim and made me a conservative.

Grandmother paid for my private schooling until her hands could no longer scrub suburban Chicago Jewish floors.  Mother spent hours teaching me huge vocabulary words like “artificial” and “articulate”.

You may laugh, but she only had a high school education.  For mother those were huge words. Between watching game shows, she would sit on the floor next to me:

“See Jane run…Go Jane go…See Jane eat the cake… Oh my do you know what tomorrow is?”

I shook my head.

“It will be your birthday”

Afrocity was approaching six years of age on August 2, 1975.

Birthdays to me at the time were a concept not rooted in anything that I could calculate.  I knew there was cake and balloons. I knew that people had to like you on that day. Did I know when the day actually was?

No.

Mother could have said absolutely nothing and August 2nd, 1975 would have been like any other day of cartoons and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to me.

“Your birthday is August 2nd.  This will always be a special day for you to celebrate being born. “

“Like that big party and Snoopy cake we had at Grandma’s place?”  I asked while  recalling myself, a cake and a bunch of family members and food.

Mother nodded, ” Yes, that was your fourth birthday party. Now you will be six.”

“What happened to five?”  There was no cake in a long time I thought.  1…2…3…4…

Mother formed her most child friendly lie, ” God does not allow you to have a party every year…Only on the even numbers.

“What’s an even number?”

“2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20…”

I nodded, “Seven is next year…so no cake?”

“No,” she answered. ” No parties during odd years. God wants you to rest some years. People get tired of coming to someone’s birthday party every year, giving you gifts. Moms can’t handle all of those kids every year. “

The answer was accepted.  No one could make stupid logic sound more realistic than my mother. However unrealistic this answer was, this was a cake year and she owed me a party.   Party first.  Philosophize later. “So there is going to be a party for me tomorrow?”

“Yes, and cake and pineapple sherbert, balloons, pizza…”

“John’s  sausage pizza?”

“Yes sausage pizza and lemonade and-“

Sausage pizza. I liked John’s frozen sausage pizza but something was not right.  “So at eight I get another party?”

“Yes and ten and twelve”

Mother had either made a serious miscalculation or God lied to her. ” You are wrong because God let me have a birthday party when I was one, you  showed me the picture.”

Mamma lioness lied.  Scores of reasons could be given for the absence of parties  and she knew it. She was most likely depressed in 1974 or bereft of funding but would not admit it.  ” Your first birthday is different because it is your first one. “

Young Afrocity still ever so skeptical, “Did I have one at two or three?”

Mother sighed “No, we skipped two because you had a party at one and three was odd so we let you have a party at four and now six…You get to make a wish too”

Wishes??? ” Can I make three wishes for the birthdays I missed?”

Mother was tiring of me, “Yes, but make the ones you missed now and save the birthday one for tomorrow.”

“So I get three wishes just like in the story books?”

“Yes three wishes.”

For several moments, I confess that I wanted mostly selfish things. A new pet, some clothes, a ventriloquist dummy like Lester. But it occurred to me that mother and I together needed much more. ” I wish I had a father like most white kids.  I wish you had a job like most white people…and I wish you would smile more and not be so angry when you need more money when we run out of food because the check has not come…I do not like that.”

The moment was heavy, I looked down at the red linoleum floor, tracing the black designs with my finger. But there was food today because it was August 1st and the check comes on the first.  I knew that because she told me. My birthday was a lucky day.  Party tomorrow and now that the disestablished logic of odd and even birthday celebrations were firmly planted in my head. I again just wanted to be clear on the whole birthday cake/party allotment.

“Party tomorrow? Six is an even year?”

Mother was stumped. She was throatless.

I took the Dick and Jane reader from her hands. I opened it to a page where Dick, Sally and Jane are eating cupcakes at a picnic.  Maybe it was Jane’s birthday too. Spot steals one of the cupcakes.

“BAD SPOT! He messed up Jane’s party. “



Perhaps Jane had her party when she was seven. That is why God let Spot steal the cupcakes. I don’t want to get God mad at me.

And I did not.

I had a birthday party at 8,10,12, 14, 16, 18, 20, and so on.  Just like mother taught me.   Other sinners followed the conventional wisdom of having a party every year.  How un-green.  All of those invitations wasting paper.  Helium shortages.  Barbarians!

Let me add that the memory police do not assault me with the birthday party years.  I can hardly remember those.  The commonplace odd years were of great significance and the years that linger now.

Year seven: Mom coming in the bedroom and waking me up after I waited for her to come home all day.  She placed a Marshall Field’s dark green shopping bag on my chest filled with Fisher Price toys.  Yes it was 8:00 PM but she remembered me.

Year nine: A card filled with quarters and silver dollars and a movie downtown with cheeseburgers at McDonald’s  afterward.

Year eleven:  Naturally a sad summer in the homeless shelter but mother still took me to Walgreen’s soda shop for a root beer float.  This simple act of dining in public and paying for my meal without foodstamps or vouchers or soup kitchens made me feel human and normal. I needed that.  I needed to forget that we were homeless.  Mother gave me that for my birthday.

Year Forty-one:  I am alone. It is a odd year numerically and emotionally.  The lone lioness is home alone with the memory police, ice cream, Kool Aid, and sadness.

Thank you God for another year.




Thank you mother and granny for the memories and life.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

(The Leo Lion Queen)


 

Happy Birthday Autographed Letter Signed April 8, 2010

Cakes By One of my favorite artists, Wayne Thiebaud

A sense of accomplishment is in the air. Today is the first anniversary of ALS. Wow an entire year. What brought me, lil ol’ Afrocity to create this blog in the first place? In short, after not quite fitting in at The Confluence and not quite fitting in at Little Green Footballs (which turned out to be a liberal blog disguised as a center right blog or some strange experiment in blogger as evil puppet master), I decided to get my own diggs.

"Lemon cake" by Wayne Thiebaud

Shedding a political spouse, in my case the Democratic Party, required some solitude and space to explore my values. What do I really want for my country? What causes are worth fighting for? I had to ask myself these things because for so long I played in the liberal sandbox watching my pals kick down castles of military defense, christian values, parental rights and all sorts of things that really mattered to me. Externally, I muttered yeah “fuck the military!”,  “burn that flag” , “sure the government owes blacks” but internally, especially as I aged, I winced at mostly everything liberals stood for with the exception of women’s rights.   Compassion and equal opportunity for all is something I can agree with.  I had it in me to be a good liberal, however I also had it in me to be a better conservative.

There is a difference between being a compassionate person and an enabler.  Liberals have a tendency to dramatize the human condition,  particularly that of minorities and any one they see as down-trodden.   When you just spend, spend, spend money- tax dollars- on “compassionate programs” , you have to take a step back in order to see if those programs are really helping anyone or are they enabling a persistent problem to turn into a generational saga.   Let’s take welfare programs for example and you know how I feel about those.

"Watermelon Slices" by Wayne Thiebaud

One of the reasons I am against government assistance is because I grew up on it.  And yes, it fed me, kept me adequately healthy, but did it advance me or my mother?  No.  Did it pay for my prom dress?  No.  Prom was a big deal to a 17 year old girl.  How would the $250 government check pay for my prom gown, my hair appointment,  my #352 pink dyed shoes to match my dress and my jewelry?   The answer was, it would not.  Mother went looking for dresses at the Salvation Army store, meanwhile Afrocity began looking for a job.   This image of one of us actually working was a bit much for my mother to handle,  “you know they will cut us off, ” she warned.

"Rosebud Cakes" by Wayne Thiebaud

I did not care, I had a date with a Victor Costa gown at Nieman Marcus.   School by day, working until 1am as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant was tough.  In retrospect, it was dangerous to take the bus home so late at night.  My school work was neglected B’s morphed into C’s.  One night I was so tired, I fell asleep with the curling iron still rolled in my hair.  When you are young, you can put up with a lot and my first paycheck made all of the trouble worth it.  My first paycheck- that I earned for my work. Money not for nothing but for something I did besides being black and poor.  I came to a particular understanding that my mother had yet to achieve.  Welfare may let you survive but it doesn’t let you live.   Maybe I got the job out of necessity.  I had a need that a welfare check could not fulfill.  I had a dream about a dress but what about my life beyond the dress?  What happens when welfare will not pay for your dreams?

Republican candidates would appear on television, right away before they could speak several words, my mother would shout, “They are only for the rich people, they want to cut welfare and programs in order to hurt blacks.”    Funny how our lives did not improve much under Jimmy Carter.  Funny how mother’s life did not improve much under Bill Clinton, until she was forced to get a job because the conservative state of Texas would not let her draw a government check just for being her wonderful self.

Shakes by Wayne Thiebaud

In working, she began to buy nice things, take me to lunch, actually act and behave as mother.  When she lost the job, she lost her sense of self again.  Being 65, by that time, the government was there waiting for her to pick up the pieces.  Back she went to waiting for their check.  When she died, she had not more than $345 in her bank account.  I reported her deceased and the government took back $325 and left her with $20.  Why was I angry?  True, it was Uncle Sam’s money to give to her and she was dead.  However, could he not at least left her with some dignity and money to be buried with? He left her with what she came to him with…Nothing.  Nothing at all but her life and the clothes on her back.

The reason I created this blog was to chronicle the thoughts and feelings of a reformed liberal.  To some degree I am still evolving.  One of the problems some of my critics have with me is my ability to be so compassionate and pathetic, yet turn into a brutal critic of the Obama administration.  A lot of people, especially those of color call me a self-loathing Auntie Tom who has sold out.  They think I am really a liberal and delusional on some level about my move towards conservatism.   I have struggled this year with the enormity of my exodus from Donkeyville.   People especially, PUMA’s have posted and gone.  Once friends are now distant acquaintances in the political blogosphere.

"8 Lipsticks" by Wayne Thiebaud

Am I happier now having left the Democrats? Oh definitely yes.  That party is unrecognizable to me.  This country and the direction it is moving in is unrecognizable to me.

Am I a well rounded conservative? Oh definitely, no.  I remain pro-choice.  There are many things to admire about the pro-life movement but a woman’s choice is a woman’s choice and she should always have the freedom to make that choice.

As this blog continues, I am always hoping to attract people who are willing to hear and understand both sides of an issue.

Before you can help people, you have to first listen to them.  This simple  practice  is something that is severely lacking in the Obama administration and among many compassionate liberals.

Give people what they need, not what you think they need.  Give people the ability to help themselves, not a lifetime sentence to be helped by you.  You cannot wave a magic wand and expect to end world hunger, wars, pain, sickness, global warming and paper cuts using other people’s money.  Your reward will be debt, depression and a lowered moral among those who actually do contribute to society.

You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

Autographed Letter Signed on this our 1 year anniversary,

AFROCITY

 

Sunday Soliloquy: In the Heat of the Night April 4, 2010

It is never really one place or one time that I think about how lucky I am to be alive…How lucky we all are.

My mother always taught me that life is a gift, something that we should respect. Since childhood, the Easter holiday has been special to me.

Mother and I would always buy jelly beans and Paas Easter Kits.  Off to Marshall Fields department store we would go to purchase a nice outfit for myself, complete with a flowerful purse, lace gloves and a bonnet.

Would the cruel Chicago weather subside to allow the use of these holy garments? Ah! It did not matter. Even if it were 45 degrees, young Afrocity would dress to the hilt on Easter, patent leather white Mary Jane shoes and all – freezing her cottontail off.

Mother would shake her head in disapproval,

“You just had to wear that outfit didn’t you? Look at how foolish you look in those lace bobby socks shaking like a leaf.”

Who cared if my body temperature was that of an icicle! I was stylin’ and honoring the day that Christ rose from the dead.  Jesus wanted me to look my best. Later on Easter night, we would watch The Ten Commandments.  My favorite part was God’s powerful voice:

“THOU SHALT NOT KILL.”

Spiritual salvage is all about reusing lessons of the past but today, I am a far cry from that little Easter girl.  There is no clove scented ham baking in the oven or failed attempts at blowing eggs to make Ukrainian style decorations (that was a passing childhood obsession that drove my mother crazy).  Instead just me and my boxes in my new apartment.  Tired and sore from lifting.  Not a chocolate bunny in sight, only empty pizza boxes and bubble wrap.

I have never missed my mother more than today.

Unlike Jesus, she is not coming back from the dead.  This was made more evident when I opened the box containing her ashes.  Moved from one apartment to another just like my china.  With a deep sigh, I placed the box in a credenza cabinet.  The only thing that would be resurrected was my yearning for the past.  When life was simpler.  When I could recognize my country.

During my unpacking frenzy, I was able to sneak in an internet break or two and catch the daily happenings.  One unfortunate event in Chicago caught my eye, it seems my fair city is getting some much needed practice in before Obamacare goes into full effect.  This year, the Chicago weather ignored the trend of freezing off the cute Easter bonnets.

Once April hit, the Windy City was boasting temperatures that climbed into the low 80’s…and a murder rate that climbed into the 40’s in just two days.   While warm weather devotees rejoice over the Easter holiday and peel off the winter clothing, Chicago’s youth are hatching out of hibernation with knives and guns.

From the Chicago Sun Times:

Brazen shooting just blocks from top cop

Weis was speaking about recent crime wave in which 41 were shot

April 3, 2010

BY ART GOLAB

After 26 hours of violence that left 41 people shot and four dead, Police Supt. Jody Weis called a press conference Friday afternoon in the Englewood neighborhood — the site of three of the shootings.

But just as the press event ended, Weis had to cut short an interview because of a report of shots fired just blocks away.

It turned out a 25-year-old man was shot at 69th and Paulina and taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Weis had just announced a series of police responses to the warm-weather crime wave, including a crackdown on what he called “large gatherings, illegal parties and large house parties.”

It was a house party that got out of control that led to three separate shootings and one death in the Englewood neighborhood, Weis said.

Weis said problem parties often occur in vacant or abandoned buildings, and he appealed to the public to alert police to such happenings.

“These unauthorized parties often involve underage drinking, little or no security and are held in unlicensed locations,” Weis said. “They are simply not equipped to handle large crowds. They are a disaster waiting to happen.”

Police will also step up enforcement of curfew violations, increase foot and tactical unit patrols in targeted areas and focus on bars and other “problem establishments” that generate more than their share of 911 calls.

“These places are madhouses of criminal activity and tie down precious resources which could be deployed fighting crime,” Weis said.

The 41 people shot between the end of Wednesday and 2 a.m. Friday included four people who were wounded outside the Magnolia nightclub near 122nd and Halsted, Weis said.

Other shooting sites included Bronzeville, Grand Crossing and South Shore. During one especially violent stretch, 16 people were shot in a little more than two hours.

Among those was a woman who said she was shot in the arm in Millennium Park about 12:30 a.m., but did not report it until she was treated in a Melrose Park hospital. Police have questioned where the shooting happened.

Weis noted that the second Englewood shooting occurred despite the immediate presence of three dozen heavily armed and uniformed police officers.

It shows the complete brazen lack of respect for authority.” Weis said. “The question that I have to ask is, what would they do when we’re not here?”

Ahem,  excuse me Officer Weis who uttered “…It shows the complete brazen lack of respect for authority.”   Don’t you think that is an understatement?  The Chicago Police Department have gotten into the bad habit of thinking they are holding the remote control for Chicago’s violence.   When you find black on black crime- and this is what it is.  I am not about to parse this as a Chicago wide problem.  It is about African Americans and Latinos killing each other while Louis Farrakhan is worried about some conservative nut job killing President Obama.

The Tea Partiers are not the problem in America.  Obamacare will never put a Band Aid on what is going on in Chicago.

Louis Farrakhan, Barack Obama, William Ayers, Father Pfleger,  Valorie Jarret are all opportunistic parasites on Chicago’s African American community.  These are not community leaders.  Chicago murders and youth violence is plentiful in supply, more abundantly so since Obama’s election.   The hot trend at the moment lies not in the weather but in a surprisingly brazen lack of respect for LIFE in the black community.  A surprisingly brazen  lack of hope after the chosen one resurrected “black pride” from the dead.

Rather than enjoying the Easter weekend outside in the 70 degree weather, I stayed in and unpacked.  A little spider crawled on the widow sill as I opened a box of knick knacks. Annoyed, I began to swat him with an old Vogue magazine then I remembered God’s loud voice.

“THOU SHALT NOT KILL”

Stopped dead in the rolled up magazine’s tracks, I calmly searched through boxes for my Dust Buster.  In the spider went, vacuumed and alive.  It was good for the little creature to be outside I thought as I emptied the filter and he crawled onto my patio.

“Use your imagination, ” the black kids were told. “Now even YOU can be President of the United States.”

Sure they can ..If they can only hope to have a much of a fighting chance for life as a spider.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

 

Sunday Soliloquy: Ain’t Nothing Going On But The Rent March 14, 2010

Painting By Alice Neel - Westreich Family

For sometime now I have been sporadically posting. I should share with my readers that that I suffer from panic/anxiety disorder.  The condition cropped up when I was living in New York, triggered by September 11th stress and the death of my beloved Dalmatian- Paloma.  Afrocity thought she knew how to cope. She handled homelessness, starvation, September 11th…Why should the death of a dog be any different?

It was.

"Last Sickness" by Alice Neel

After staying awake all night with my dog who was obviously having trouble breathing, I fell asleep for one hour.  When I woke up, she was dead. What do you do with the body of a dead Dalmatian in New York City?  I decided to call the veterinarian who instructed me to physically wrap and bring the body four blocks to 75th and Broadway.   My hair was all over my head, dark circles were under my eyes.  I smelled musty.  Must run a bath first.  Must wash up.  The dog is sleeping upstairs.

Then it hit.  A sharp pain in my left arm. Throbbing chest pain, my heart began racing. I was sweaty and faint.  I was gonna die. This is what a heart attack feels like. Oh my God, I am dying.  Call 911!!!

The next thing I knew, paramedics were carrying me down five flights of stairs, past a few onlookers. What a beautiful Saturday morning and I was dying.

That day, my heart rate would dangerously elevate four times before the doctors finally decided to dope me up with Xanax.  Before discharging me that evening, the physician gave me a card.  It was for a psychiatric facility.  I had panic disorder and would deal with it the rest of my life.

Why now? Why after all of these years of coping with molestation, hunger, cold winters in Chicago without heat– why would the death of a Dalmatian send me to a shrink’s Eames daybed?

Questions still persist five years later. I  still deal with anxiety, especially when something from the past harasses my present and future.

My lease is ending and I need to find an apartment. The scars of evictions past haunt me to this day, despite my well heeled zip code, my more than adequate income. Despite my good fortune, I am still anxious and at the mercy of young Afrocity and mother, walking the streets with the Chicago Reader classified ads.  We wanted to live on the North Side of the city. With the white people so I could attend better public schools where my classmates did not get pregnant.

Alice Neel, "Nancy and Olivia"

Our being on welfare was a huge obstacle.

Section 8 housing was beneath us. Mother never applied for it. She hated welfare enough as it was.

“Section 8 only puts you in projects with other niggers,” she told me.  “If we want to live in Lincoln Park, we can. We just need a co-signer or someone to give us a break.”

Day after day, mother and I would look for apartments. Levolor blinds were always a draw for me.  It just sounded classy, unlike the newspaper that covered my windows at the time.  Levolor blinds, electric stove, elevator building with a doorman.

That break never came for mother and I.  There would be no co-signer. No welfare moms in Lincoln Park.  We could not afford $500 a month for rent when our check was only $225.

“Maybe if you found a job-“

“Be quiet Afrocity,” she retorted as we sat on the stairs of a brownstone apartment. We were just rejected again. “I am thinking…Shut up and let me think.”

Heat was shining on us. We were getting blacker by the second.  A half eaten bag of Doritos would do nothing for my thirst.   Across the street was a school, white kids were playing on the swing sets with their nannies.  See Sawing up and down without a care in the world. Though I am ashamed of my thoughts then, for a moment I wondered how our lives might be different if we were white.   There would be Levolor blinds,  a father who worked on Michigan Avenue.  I would attend fancy schools and learn to play Suzuki string violin.

“Here is a place on Pulaski and -“

The very mention of the street name “Pulaski” snapped me out of the daydream.

“Pulaski!!! But that is on the West Side you promised we would live where the white people lived this time,” I protested. “You promised me we would live on the North Side with good school and the Levolor-“

“Not this time,” she shook her head. “School is about to start and we need an address. We can take one of the places where we can get a place… You said you liked Oak Park better than Chicago anyway.”

Glass came over my eyes. I put my head down.  She did not like to see me cry.  She never allowed it. Lumps came in my throat.  Envy swelled for the kids in the school yard.  Mother stood up which meant it was time to go.  I left the paper and bag of Doritos on the brownstone steps,  the #72 bus was waiting to take us home.   While I looked out the window, the bus passed through neighborhoods turning from vanilla to coffee, to chocolate.  Within an hour, we were back in the ghetto, defeated again.

As I leaf through home decor magazines today, I see much of the same furniture not through some North side stranger’s window but in my own apartment.  The Levolor blinds of yesterday are now the stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops of today.  I have a real estate agent that helped me find an apartment.  My foot and more is in the door.  Open houses are now offered by private condo owners facing foreclosures.  Beautiful empty apartments once inhabited by slap happy metrosexuals. Others by families who have to move in with their parents because someone lost a job.

“It is cheaper to rent my condo out and live with my parents,”  a woman would tell me.  “…Recently…there have been some unexpected circumstances in my life…It can even be furnished if you like.”

Somewhere in the Bible, there is a verse that says:

The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.

-Psalm 118:22

Funny how life works out.  Who ever would have thought that the nappy headed little girl would now get calls from people in Lincoln Park actually needing her.  Needing her to rent their apartments. That once  enviable feeling has now turned into pity. Pity over the foreclosure sales, pity that healthcare is being shoved down everyone’s throat while people are losing their jobs and homes.

Painting by Alice Neel

I still have my own bitter pills to swallow.

Xanax guards me from my nightstand.

The thought of moving yields night sweats and panic.

So what is it like to rent an apartment now?

It is not different than before.

It never will be I suppose.

The fear always moves with me no matter how much I box, bubble wrap and pack it away.

I can find the perfect place with the perfect arrangement of bay windows,  a lakeside view.  Like the place I live now. The place my mother died before she got to see it.  A high-rise in the sky.

Mother never made it to the promised land.

She never got to see me with the blinds.

AUTOGRAPHED LETTER SIGNED,

AFROCITY

 

Thank You Booker T. Washington: Afrocity Named in Top 25 Bookeristas!!! December 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — afrocity @ 10:07 AM
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Santa came to Afrocity’s blog a bit early this year as I made the top 25 Bookeristas of the year by the hair of my moderate Republican chin. Booker Rising is one of my favorite conservative news sites.

I would try to explain what they do but I think this paragraph from the website does a better job of it:

…This is a news site and media watchdog for black moderates and conservatives, regardless of party affiliation. It’s particularly geared to those ages 50 and under, the post-Civil Rights Movement generations.

Booker Rising was begun to counteract negativity, victimology, and defeatism, which is too often thrust upon black Americans by schools, the media, and so-called leaders. We’re concerned about eroded values, hopes, and dreams, even though overall we’re living better than ever. Booker Rising wants to help stop the sacrilegious assault of our grandparents’ (and ancestors’) legacy, as if little to no progress has been made and the civil rights movement was almost for naught.

Inspired by Booker T. Washington’s work, this website will promote self-help, education, enterprise, democracy, and society as the seeds for Black America’s future. We won the civil rights movement. It’s now time for Stage II: further propelling black American success in this increasingly globalized era, via our “seeds.”

Booker Rising will provide commentary, highlight our progress and achievements, and discuss moderate and conservative solutions to our communities’ challenges. We have love for and faith in black folks. We deserve better, our ancestors deserve better!

Please visit the Booker Rising site, even if you are a liberal.  I find that Booker does an outstanding job of remaining conservative loyal while being informative and poly-partisan (if there is such a thing).

Thank you to the folks at Booker Rising. I am happy to be #25 and cannot believe that your viewers would place me in the company of such African American conservative greats as Thomas Sowell and Michael Steele.

Becoming a conservative is one of the most liberating acts I have committed to  in my entire life. I am proud to say that only welcomed arms have met me on the conservative side…and yes liberals that does include Caucasian southern conservatives as well. I am not a token in the Republican Party. I am home. Where I want to be, where I should have always been. I am free.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

 

Sunday Soliloquy: Afrocity is Politically Right of 637 N. Central Avenue August 23, 2009

Victorian Shirt-Waist

Victorian Shirt-Waist

“Late August was always characterized by an increase in anxiety for young Afrocity.”

August symbolically heralded the end of summer. I did not care if the autumnal equinox was not until September 21, for most adolescents summer was over the day one returned to school.

Summer is something of a mixed blessing when you are living in squalor.

Summer represents days of relaxation, sunshine, time with mother, more television, waking up at the crack of noon with nothing to do but live.  The darker side of summer also marked the beginning of days cooped up in an un-air conditioned bedroom with no running water or stove.  Meals were served straight from the can or cooked on our Sunbeam electric hot plate.

It was 1982. My place of residence was 637 N. Central Avenue in Chicago’s Austin community. It was my uncle’s 6,000 square foot, four-story Victorian home. Large, painted white, with shingles, gorgeous wood work, crown moldings.  Despite being run down, the house had its charms. There was a porch swing in desperate need of a paint job which could still swing but scratched the bottom your thighs with chipped paint and splinters if you wore shorts.  A steeple roof was a round shaped room and had tiny windows all around it.  My uncle purchased the home during the early 1970’s from an aging marijuana addicted hippie, the son of a wealthy man who never quite aspired to the same ambitions as his father. The hippie had turned the home into something of a boarding house which was quite understandable because it had 10 bedrooms.

The actual home I lived in on 637 N. Central in Chicago as it looks today. The two windows directly above the porch roof is the bedroom where I lived with my mother for 5 years. Today the home is section 8 housing.

This is the actual home I lived in on 637 N. Central Ave., in Chicago as it looks today. The two windows directly above the porch roof is the bedroom where I lived with my mother for 5 years during the 1980's. Today the home is gutted and was turned into section 8 housing.

Neglect made the home far too heavy of a burden for the hippie. The neighborhood was also getting darker by the year. My uncle got the fixer-upper for a song. Always a work in progress, the home would get sporadic attention. A kitchen updated here and there, a wall painted, a floor sanded. After some time my uncle’s wife who was blond and very Polish American wanted to return to her own neighborhood and the comfort of her parents.  They would move, leaving the home to a starving artist named Al, their dog Gypsy, and my alcoholic uncle.

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Drawing from 1800's edition of Peterson Magazine

It was with passive obedience that I followed my mother to 637 N. Central after being homeless for 3 months. There was little doubt that it was better than living in the homeless shelters and depending upon the kindness and quirkiness of strangers.  However, from my perspective it was free, dirty and a place where my mother could become too comfortable (lazy).

“How long will we be staying this time?” I asked her. I needed to ask because I never knew exactly where I would be from month to month.

My two shopping bags filled with my belongings were sitting in a corner of this bedroom. The room had two windows, smelled moldy and had cob webs. The floor was wood but looked like dirt from all of the dust. Noticeable was the absence of a bed.

“Until I get back on my feet,” she answered.

(Great that means never) “Can we find an apartment in Oak Park (Illinois) like before? I don’t understand why we can’t Ronnie found a place for her kids and she was homeless like us.”

“Ronnie” was a woman that mother and I had met at the homeless shelter. She was a battered wife with two kids who escaped from her husband in the middle of the night. Leaving all of her possessions behind. She boarded a Greyhound bus to Chicago. Her family wired her money from Arkansas to place a deposit on an apartment and start a new life.  Within record time, Ronnie secured a job as a waitress and was out of the shelter in three weeks.  Ronnie, was a different kind of mother. Not better, just different. Mother and I would never be so lucky.

“I can’t find a place without a job or co-signer you know that. We can stay here just fine. Your uncle says there is a used mattress emporium on Chicago Ave., we will get something there to sleep on.  I need a place to think and rest. I could not do that in the shelter with all those chores and bible classes they made us go to.”

victorian-clipart-4I was silent.

I needed her to focus. Her clear mental state was imperative to my survival. Lately, she had not been responsive to my pleas to find a job.

Her actions were suddenly marked by a certain lack of domesticity. She no longer washed my clothing, or cared about my meals –which concerned me. The homeless shelter gave me three squares a day Now I was worried about going hungry now that we were on our own again.

Considering that I had to steal to feed us in Oak Park before we became homeless, mother lapsing into the deep state of depression which got us here in the first place would not be beyond the pale of her normal behavior.

“What will we do for water?” I asked.

The pipes had frozen and burst the winter before.

“We will have to buy it in jugs, I guess.”

She shrugged her shoulders.

This movement denoted that she was “winging it”.  “We can flush the toilet with water.”

Oh, I had not thought of that. I was only 12.

It was difficult to understand her mood. She almost seemed happy and that was a good change.  Her attitude must have caught on. I began to understand but I needed her to understand me as well.  I did not want to ever attend a Chicago Public School.  As a “CPS” virgin, my peers would smell me out like fresh meat in the dessert.

victorian-era-clothing-7I feigned a half smile- a very weak closed mouthed smile.

“Promise me we will be out of here in time for me to start school…Okay?”

She looked guilty and only nodded.

It was not a lie if “Okay Afrocity” was never uttered from her lips.

And it was a lie.

Within a few weeks time, mother would enroll me in the Chicago Public School system for the first time.

I would remain in that Victorian home on Central Ave. for nearly 5 years.

My menstrual period would start there, my breasts would grow there and my self-esteem would end there.

That house watched me put on makeup for the first time, attend high school and would hear my nighttime tears more than any other,

Dusting off her jeans which were two sizes too big because they were given to her by the shelter, mother went to leave the room. “You know this is not permanent, right? Someday we will look back on this and laugh.”

“I know,” I said lowly, resigned.  She lied to me again. I would never look back and laugh.

Sighing, I sat down on the floor. There was nothing I could do but make the best of this. At least there were no roaches, only silverfish from what I could see. No curfews like at the shelter. I took a small green Gideon bible out of my shopping bag. The shelter had given it to me. It only contained the New Testament and books of Psalms and Proverbs.  I read Psalms 23 as mother found a broom from the basement and began to clean.  Her thick black hair had become nappy from the summer sweat so she hid it under a red bandanna. The dust made her take the bandanna from her head and tie it around my mouth and nose. She did not want me to get the sneezes.  Adjacent to my left was a closet door with a full length splotchy mirror. I looked like a bandit.

victorian clothes

“I’m the bible thumping bandit,” I laughed. It would be the day’s only humorist dialogue and our collective sanity clung to that one God given moment.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

 

 
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