Last week, I could feel something had breached my anti-bacterial defenses. Unlike my other Tuskegee Experiment conspiracy-theorist friends, I had actually gotten a flu shot, but I knew that did not give me full protection. When you work in education and work around students who are always in various stages of contagion, you have to be prepared.
I quickly descended upon my neighborhood drugstore and stocked up on all the basics: Zinc, Theraflu, DayQuil, NyQuil, tea, ginger ale, Kleenex and a myriad of daytime cold and flu tablets.
Side note: Exactly when did the sick turn into crime suspects? All the medicine in drugstores is on lockdown, and I had to show proof of ID. I could purchase a hunter’s knife, rope, tape, chloroform and a copy of Serial Killer’s Digest and no one would bat an eye — but purchasing a box of cold medicine gets me the third degree. Go figure!
I made my way home with my arsenal of contemporary cold remedies. I sat in bed in my congested state, and I’m not sure if it was the cold medicine or my rapidly advancing childlike manner, but I began to wax nostalgic for my grandmother and her homemade remedies.
When I was younger, my grandmother had a very interesting healing ritual. One cough at night would set her in motion. I would try and muffle my cough into the pillow, but her bionic hearing would always reveal that there was someone in need.
After identifying the sick party, she would rush into the room with her tray of hot water, tea, ointments and other concoctions. The steam and the soft light from the other room created this vision of a mystical Southern version of Marie Laveau, high priestess of home cures.
Her ritual started with a spoonful of castor oil, which you had to swallow quickly to deal with the smell and taste. The oil also had the added benefit of disorienting you for the next stage of her rituals. She slipped a thermometer under your tongue to take your temperature … and also to ensure you did not spit out the nasty castor oil.
You were then stripped of your pajama top and your chest was slathered and coated like a Butterball turkey with Vicks Vapor Rub. She would even place a few globs under your nostrils. She then made you down a cup of lemon honey tea spiked with whatever dark liquor was on hand.
The last part of the ritual was to wrap you up tightly under a mound of covers. So you lay there in the dark sweating and panting from both the weight and effects of the Vicks Vapor Rub as you slipped into a whiskey-spiked-tea-induced state of slumber. But the next morning, you always felt better when she checked in on you.
So as I lay there surrounded by all my modern remedies, I had to ask myself what really triggers this childhood state of nostalgia when I am sick? Maybe, I truly miss my grandmother’s healing rituals. Maybe I miss the feeling and comfort of someone and something familiar when I am not feeling my best and vulnerable. Or maybe it could just be the whiskey … smile.
Please share your old-school healing remedies or stories.
Here is where I begin my rant. I typically have a problem with Hollywood period films that especially deal with race or in most cases do not deal with race accurately.
I read the book The Help and although it too seemed to waterdown the real atrocities of race relations during that time period you did get a more gritty sense of what Black women went though as Domestics.
My grandmother worked her entire life for white families and I saw first hand the caste system at work.
The film The Help was a worst representation than the book. I will not deminish the roles of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, in fact more on that later but the film, which is typical of mainstream Hollywood, reduced real life racial tension to a more palatable "feel good" film.
The Help almost became some kind of interracial version of Steel Magnolias.
It is no secret that Black actors struggle to find significant roles and characters with depth and interest. But it does seem somehow ironic that here we are in 2012 and we are still dealing with Black actors playing domestic roles.
What is it with these mainstream awards that only seem to recognize certain roles as significant.
Hollywood seems to be much more comfortable with the Black actress as comedian and or fallen figure. Let's test that theory:
Hattie McDaniel- Best Supporting actress for happy domestic in Gone With the Wind
Whoopie Goldberg- Best Supporting actress as funny medium in Ghost
Halle Berry- Best Actress as a Black woman who falls for her racist ex-husband's executioner in Monster's Ball, now that was a real feel good film.
Monique- Best Actress for her role as a caustic, abusive, sexual predator and Mother in Precious.
Octavia Spencer- Best Supporting Actress as the outspoken, witty domestic in The Help.
Did I miss anyone?
I have always maintained that it is not the responsibility of one film to carry the weight of an entire community and culture but the real challenge is that more films are made that show the rich diversity and experiences of that culture.
And I think we are in a better place where more films are being made that showcase Black women and their complex experiences but also show them in very affirming roles.
The issue or problem at hand is when will the mainstream industry both acknowlege and honor such great performances that do not fit it's historical narrow perspective of how Black women are portrayed?
Guys cross-dressing for laughs is not a new concept, Milton Berl, Flip Wilson, Martin Lawrence and the reigning Drag Lord, Tyler Perry. But funny is still funny and I guess this show did not have the comic chops so they were appropriately chopped.
I mean really when you have RuPaul's Drag Race with fierce Diva professionals how can you try and compete...lol.
I found a clip and you can watch it below. I found it painful to get through. You share what you think about Working It.
According to an article published by The New York Times on Dec. 30, Terry (who, the Times reported, once resided in North Carolina) has been arrested hundreds of times for working the same area, Hunts Point.
Some of you may recognize Hunts Point; the neighborhood was featured years ago in the HBO documentary, “Hookers at the Point.” Ms. Terry appeared in the documentary under her street name “Cleo.”
Terry was not always a working girl. The Times reported that she attended two years of college to train as a medical lab technician and only entered the adult profession when, at 21, her husband left her and she had two small children to support.
She seems to be a very lucky woman to have survived in that environment all these years. This is not some Hollywood romanticized version of “Pretty Woman.” There are real consequences for working the streets, but she seems to have a “unique” if not maybe skewed attitude.
“I love the excitement of coming out here and seeing all these beautiful people I know,” she told The New York Times. “Even my dates are a comfort. This place has made me strong. It keeps you young.” And to think I’ve bee wasting my time eating more fiber, exercising and cutting back on red meat. Go figure!
She has been, the article states, somewhat of a mentor to other women getting into the profession. Sharing important survival tips like: check the vibe, look for weapons, if they look strange stay away and get your money upfront. (I was actually given similar advice when I was younger and used to tutor kids at an inner-city school.)
I am not quite sure what is more tragic — the fact that we have a woman at her age still working the streets or, more strangely, a clientele that support her business.
My place is to not judge. I have not walked in her shoes, nor do I know her circumstances. I only observe and critique media and popular culture.
So in that spirit (not that any of you would need this knowledge I offer) I present Professor Locs' Top 5 Signs You Could Be Dealing With a Very, Very Seasoned Working Girl:
5. Instead of holding a 40-ounce, she is gripping a can of vanilla Boost.
4. When her rates include an option of with or without dentures.
3. Instead of working the streets in fishnets and stilettos, she is sporting rolled up knee-high pantyhose and orthopedic Crocs.
2. You retire to the back seat for some loving, but the constant chatter of the operators coming from her Medial Alert Bracelet distracts you.
1. Negotiations go sour, and she calls for her pimp. You are at first frightened, but then become strangely amused when you spy in your rearview mirror what looks to be an elderly deacon in a purple hat on a tricked-out Hoveround bearing down on your vehicle.
Please share your observations … or working-girl tips …
New Year’s Eve is about celebration and reflection.
Back in the day, the plan was to turn it out. We would organize our party of adventurers and descend upon some nightspot. This would usually include some random club charging a $75-$100 cover price with the promise of holiday cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.
But reality kicks in once your are admitted and you are greeted by “Good Times” “rent party” decorations, a bustling crowd of 20 patrons and a VIP section comprised of two tables roped off next to the kitchen. The libations are watered-down cocktails and flat champagne. The holiday spread is crackers, a can of Cheez Wiz, a veggie plate from Food Lion and a tray of cold hot wings.
It is funny how things change, as you get older.
The last few years, I’ve preferred a quiet gathering with a few family and friends to bring in the New Year. Each year the gatherings seem to get smaller and more subdued, which is fine with me.
If New Year’s Eve is about celebration — then New Years Day is about resolve.
Most people have such high expectations for the New Year. I have friends who’ve made dedications to being better parents and more attentive partners. Let’s not forget our requisite fickle fitness fanatics who bloat the gyms with their presence for the first two weeks in January, never to be seen again. Other folks run the gamut of everything from stop smoking to start recycling and even being a better humanitarian.
Like many of you, I have found that when my goals are too lofty, I tend not to stick to my resolutions. So this year, I am trying something different and lowering my expectations and hopefully improving my success quotient.
Think of simple things that you can do to make the world a better place.
So to help you, I am offering "Professor Locs' Top Five Lowered-Expectation Resolutions":
5. For every episode of “Basketball Wives” I see, I vow to watch something more educational … like “The Making of Basketball Wives.” (LOL!)
4. I resolve to not stare daggers at the Verizon Vixen speaking so loudly on her cell phone that the entire Family Dollar is privy to her conversation. (This is also practical as you could bring her pink acrylic wrath upon you and end up with a container of discount bleach upside your head.)
3. I resolve to not become confrontational with Walmart greeters who do not speak.
2. Instead of hitting the floor like I’m in Kosovo avoiding enemy fire, I promise to engage at least one drive-by-saint a month who knocks at my door.
1. Finally, and maybe the most difficult, I will be more patient with the cashier at the Bojangle’s drive through when I don’t give exact change — and I witness the wave of panic wash over them as they realize they may have to actually execute a mathematical transaction.
Avoid the guilt of not completing unrealistic goals, just lower your expectations and enjoy the New Year worry free. Go ahead try it! And feel free to share your own down-sized resolutions.