i am

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harlem, usa
same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. mjt975@msn.com.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Family Reunion Looms On The Horizon

my mother, youngest sistah & i've been talking about having a family reunion lately. nearly half a century on the planet & i've yet to participate in a family reunion. back in tha day the o'jays recorded a wonderfully heartfelt song about family reunions but i thought they were singing about somebody else's family. not my family. my family has a long-standing reputation of always showing up late to family functions. the one's we plan!

after speaking to a few folks who've experienced family reunions of their own, the consensus is it takes at least a year to plan such an event. are folks genuinely interested? will they show up or cancel on cp time? where should we gather? what will we do? how much will this cost? does anyone know oprah? well, seems everyone knows oprah but the most practical way to get to her is thru her best friend. gayle king. but i digress.

after we gauge folks' interest it was suggested to establish a planning committee. can't imagine how that would work considering we plan poorly in this family: plan b means fuck it cuz i ain't going. although i must admit the women in our family have always held it down, especially when it comes to nurturing the kids. ah, yes. bebe's kids. there are so many now. can't remember every one's names. of course, with all these hip hop inspired, post-9/11, weird ass spellings...what happened to simple names like john, paul, george & ringo?

i was watching an episode of america's next top model & one of the participants was a fly young sistah from the west coast; california, i believe. her name was spontaneus. 4 real. i gagged. what was her momma thinking? or drinking? why do black folk do shit like that? ok, i prolly spelled her name wrong - she changed a letter here & there. u know how we do. tryna be creative. & shit. something different. oh, how we lie to ourselves. but that was her name. a model named spontaneus. right. she lost early. not bcuz of her name. but it wasn't a plus. trust me.

the idea of a family reunion intrigues me for so many reasons. most of our tribe lives in chicago, yet we got folks scattered in florida, indiana, missouri, new york & texas. our world has become more & more isolated as we speak, or tweet. nobody talks to each other. krs-one once rapped about the difference between civilization & technology. growing up we talked about the cosby show or the weather, but not about how we felt. do i expect a reunion to change family dynamics? no. but we can have fun in the spirit of unity. also, we can model the young folk a template for love.

from what i understand, family reunions are unique opportunities to learn about ancestral legacies. we learn to practice patience as we wait for the elders to take out their teeth before they talk. we learn to practice more patience as we wait for the elders to remember their train of thought. we learn to practice more patience as we wait for the elders to wake up when they fall asleep. we learn to practice even more patience as the elders go on & on & on about stuff nobody understands. yo, i don't care what nobody says: u can't make a long story short. why? bcuz it's a long story...

granted, some folks would rather text than talk. some folks prefer e-mail to real mail. i'm cool with it all yet i believe a family reunion could impact us in ways none of us might imagine. after all, it'd be a first. a new experience. we'd be together bcuz we really wanted to, not bcuz we feel we have to, like when someone dies, for example. we can start a valuable tradition for generations to come. many of us come home from work & bury ourselves into the computer, tv or latest video game. others don't connect. at all. i miss being around my peeps more & more as i get older. so, i hope we do it sooner than lata.

besides, like antwone fisher, i can eat.

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