Monthly Archives: November 2015

Praise The Pie, Saints

So, I counted myself among the fortunate last Friday night. I got together with the crew and we sat eating snacks and drinking wine like any good crew will do, but after a couple hours, PIEthings got real. A friend came in with a Patti pie and our dispositions changed immediately. Was this truly the magical pie about which folks had been raving? Was I really going to get the change to treat my palate to a forkful of “If You Asked Me To” goodness? I was beyond excited.

Before we got started, we took a moment to read the back of the box. Mostly, the verbiage just talked about making much with the little one has, taking pride in one’s life, and enjoying life’s moments. I mean, how sweet is that? You know what I didn’t see on the back of that box? I didn’t see anything about Patti claiming her pie was better than anybody else’s mama’s, meemaw, ainie (Yes, “ainie,” not aunt or auntie. If you know anything about Black folks, you know what the hell I mean.), that her pie, when eaten in copious amounts, could never cause a spike in a diabetic’s sugar levels, suggestions one lay prostrate and worship the pie as his/her savior, or that the less than four damn dollars it costs to buy one is all part of her nefarious plot to singlehandedly bleed Black folks all over America dry financially. Nope. There wasn’t any of that. It was just a nice message about being a well-adjusted human damn being. Are you surprised?PIE2

Per the instructions on the box, we heated that thing up and sliced it as much as one can slice a somewhat small pie between six salivating sistas. And boy did we play it up. We took pictures. We sang a bar or two of Patti hits, and we even did a few dances in sheer anticipation of what the future with our forks might hold. I tasted that pie and was immediately impressed. No, it didn’t make me feel like my mother came over and baked my friends and I some pie. No, I didn’t close my eyes and imagine I was in the deep South on somebody’s grandpappy’s farm where fresh sweet potatoes were picked, boiled, mashed, and seasoned to perfection while grandmammy rolled out her homemade dough. But I didn’t need to feel any of those things. I just needed the pie to be good and that is exactly what it was. It was good. It was the very best store bought dessert I have ever had and every ingredient was evident in each bite I took. I can’t say as much for any other store bought dessert I’ve had. Sure, some have been pretty decent, but none of them came close to the experience I had that Friday night.

PIE3So listen, before you try to come off as super savvy in the kitchen (you probably aren’t) or as some sort of potato pie pontiff, just understand you don’t ever have to eat a Patti Potato Pie. Not ever. You don’t have to smell one, warm one up, slice one, or put that fork to your lips and taste one. There is no Patti Potato Pie mandate. There is no requirement to eat one (or several) in the interest of maintaining one’s Black Card. You simply don’t have to indulge. However, in the interest of decency and avoidance of general douchery (yes dammit, it’s a word), shut up about it if you don’t want it. Just keep eating that Sara Lee sadness with a dollop of wack whipped cream because that is what you like and that is wholly ok – just like it’s ok for me to be over here naked – crouched down in a corner – hording Patti Potato Pie straight from the pan. Plate? I don’t need no stinking plate.

 

 

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

I watched this video today and was saddened. Unlike the brotha in the video, who was disheartened by what he considers to be the complete lack of unity on the part of Black folks, I was bothered by the idea we often oppress ourselves by the way we speak on who we are and what we do. Take a moment to watch the video before reading: Black People Why Can’t We Do What Everyone Else Is Doing
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Though I certainly understand the sentiment behind this brotha’s story, I have a mixed response. I am incredibly tired of the narrative Black folks assign to themselves with this broad brush. “We’re the ONLY race who doesn’t (fill in the blank with something positive)” or “We’re the ONLY race who DOES (fill in the blank with something negative).” It bothers me greatly because 1) the narrative isn’t fully true or fair 2) the narrative sets a tone for how folks believe they are supposed to behave instead of setting one of expectations to do better 3) the narrative stereotypes other folks.

Listen, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have a solid covering of friends and family who come through for me in the clutch EVERY DAMN TIME. BLACKFOLKS3If it’s an emergency, help implementing a plan, a request for input, a ride, some food, help moving, or just his/her subject matter expertise, they come through and I do the same for them. And guess what? 99% of my folks are Black. No, we aren’t an anomaly. I chalk what I have up to the kind of person I strive to be and the effort I make to surround myself with like and BETTER-minded folks so I have the opportunity to grow from our relationships and so do they.

“Black folks don’t come together?” Really? Well then what are we doing in Missouri, California, New York, Florida, online, in print, in television, in film, in books, and on lecture circuits? These aren’t solo missions. We don’t write, speak, create, love, feed the hungry, tutor the academically challenged, counsel the downtrodden, and teach our communities alone. We build together. We fight oppression together. We create and foster families BLACKFOLKS4together. We plant gardens together. We build homes together. And without question, there is always room for improvement in our endeavors, but we are not the disjointed, hateful, envious, lackluster, ambitionless folks we are so mistakenly quick to purport ourselves to be. We are fighters, believers, thinkers, creators, and lovers and we don’t have to live three families to a two bedroom apartment to be those things. We are not less than and even though some of us don’t get it and opt to not get on board with the plan, we are still brilliant.

So, I get it. I get what this brotha saw when he looked at his neighbor’s house and his people who came through to help him be great. I get what he thinks he doesn’t have for himself. I get it he doesn’t feel he has what his new neighbor has. I get he’s hurt because he has bought into the narrative Black folks do absolutely nothing as a team. It is certainly BLACKFOLKS2true as humans, we can be self-involved, indifferent, removed, and just plain mean at times, so I fully agree we all can and should be better in the interest of our survival and progression. However, I challenge him to think about what he really sees around him. To think about each time he’s seen folks who look like him reach out to others and help. To consider when he’s been in the clutch and his folks came through for him. To think of every time he’s seen donations of time, money, and talent going into the realization of some Black person’s dream. I challenge him to help change the narrative. I challenge him to rave about the times his folks helped him. Consider the times Black folks got together in the interest of greatness. And when I say him – I’m talking about all of us.