Celebrating “Loving Day” in Alabama

20 Apr

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Here’s partially what I’ll be sending to potential sponsors for Loving Day. Share – the official crowdfunding campaign starts April 27th, but it’s live now!

What: Loving Day Celebration to commemorate Loving v. Virginia anti-miscegenation case

Where: Rojo Birmingham

When: June 18th, from 2-5 p.m.

For the past few years, we’ve been celebrating a civil rights Supreme Court case that isn’t as famous as Brown v. Board of Education, but it’s just as important.

On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court declared bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional in the Loving v. Virginia case. (Yup, they were literally a “Loving” couple. So a small group of friends in New York City has turned this day into a worldwide celebration.

But in Alabama, there wasn’t anything listed. So, I started one myself.

Why? Because my husband and I are an interracial couple, and this case literally changed our lives forever. We wouldn’t be together if this hadn’t happened.

Also, Alabama was the last state to officially remove the defunct laws from their constitution – in 2000. Yes, that’s the 21st century.

While we can’t change the minds of the 40% of the population polled who wanted the laws to stay, what we can do is let everyone else know the magnitude of such a day.

I’d like to make this year special. I’d like to contribute to the official Loving Day organization. While the founder, Ken Tanabe, has been grateful for starting a celebration here, I’ve never actually given them money.

I want this year to change.

On April 27th, I’m officially launching a crowdfunding campaign – you can give money and get swag from the official Loving Day store. The money will also help make the celebration better for everyone who attends – I’d like to offer free food and desserts for the first 10 people who arrive.

The desserts will be provided in a nearby park by Magic City Sweet Ice. The owners are an interracial couple and last year, they got some unwanted attention when an anonymous bigoted letter was sent to their business. Now I’d like to celebrate their business in a positive way!

If I meet my $2,000 fundraising goal on Generosity.com, I can recoup shipping costs for the Loving Day items. If I exceed it – that means more food, swag and LovingDay.org support!

$10 – “Liking” Level: For being so awesome, I will give you a personal mention on Facebook, Twitter and any documentation or advertisements used for sponsors.

$20 – “Caring” Level: You get the “Liking” thank-you as well as an official Loving Day pin.

$40 – “Loving Level: All of the previous level benefits, plus an official Loving Day mousepad!

$60 – “Adoring” Level: All of the awesomeness above plus either an official Loving Day t-shirt or baby onesie

More information: Williesha C. Morris – willieshac@hotmail.com

No, Really. Being “A”-Political Wins.

14 Mar

drump trump drumpf

Donald Trump.

He is the reason why I’ve avoided every single Republican debate.

He is why I have all political words blocked on my Facebook.

Despite so many people like me asking  “why him?” he’s still headed to become the presidential nominee for the Republican party.

I’ve already imagined myself in tears on election night. I thought he wouldn’t even get this far, yet here we are.

Trump and most politicians are why I’ve been apolitical – “not interested in or involved in politics” is the definition. Why watch debates when I can get soundbites and images later? (Yes, I treat political debates like awards shows. That’s how “valuable”  they are to me.)

Hopelessness would be another good word to describe apolitical. Even if you’re apolitical, it doesn’t mean you don’t vote or don’t know anything about politics.

I know that the president is largely a figurehead and doesn’t have as much power as people presume. I know that real change occurs at the local level, so people should pay much more attention to those elections than the presidential one.

I know that if Donald Trump becomes president, our nation will be the laughing stock of the world and other countries would hesitate to work with us.

I’ve heard Trump voters say, “I don’t care what foreigners think.”

*sigh*

I’m still convinced that Hillary Clinton is actually an android from the future. Once she becomes president, the machines will rule the world. Finally.

And Bernie…well Bernie better pick one heckuva VP candidate, because I’m not sure if he’s going to make it four years.

*sigh* Yeah, that’s why I’m apolitical.

This year, I’m going to be a-political. And the “A” stands for action. And yes that “action” is primarily standing up against the “Drumpf.”

The internet makes everything easier, so here’s what happened when I Googled “how to get involved in the political process:”

getinvolvedinpolitics

With pictures? Golly, that’s awesome!

21 million results.That’s a good start, right?  And seriously, though, the WikiHow article is really useful.

So after reading a few of these, here’s what I’ve done: I already support U.S. congressional candidates in other states, like Rep. John Lewis in Georgia, so I’ve subscribed to his newsletter and may donate to his re-election campaign.

Check!

In the morning, I’m going to do deeper research into local candidates. I did some cursory research for the primary, but I actually voted undeclared to support two people that were running undeclared.

Check!

If there are voter registration drives happening in my area, I’m going to take part.

Check!

Will I ever become a politician? Nah. I don’t think I have the political know-how or oratory skills to make it very far. Oh, and I don’t have millions of dollars at my disposal. But I do support local organizations (watch for a new blog post on TEDx tomorrow or the next day) and am working to get to know Alabama politics, since I’m a newb at it.

So if you’re like me and disillusioned or even frightened about election season, then get “a-political.”

Take action. Now.

For an “Intentional Blogging” challenge, I’ve created a freebie for folks who subscribe to my blog. It breaks down the word ACTION into six steps to getting more involved…painlessly. Grab it here. 

I’m a Southern Black Woman & I Hate “Formation”

7 Feb
beyonce

I am seriously considering this as cosplay for DragonCon. Seriously.

Yesterday morning, I was taking a shower thinking about Beyonce.

Don’t get any crazy ideas. I was daydreaming about some inconceivable moment where she and I were in New York at the same time. I did something nice for her without realizing it – tackling a purse snatcher or some such nonsense. (Because, you know, everyone in her posse was…in the bathroom…? Looking the other way?)

Somehow her schedule was open for the next two hours (yeah, right!). She wanted to pay me a reward for getting her purse back.

But I didn’t want her cash. I just wanted to talk to her. We had a conversation about my background and writing/VA business without me hyperventilating. (Not possible.) I wanted her to talk a few minutes with one of my blogging buddies, Javacia Bowser, who has always been a superfan. I weighed my options on how to tell her.

Should I just hand the phone to Beyonce and start chatting? No, she may be at work and could pass out. Should I call her husband first? No.

I decided on just telling her myself, asking her to take a few deep breaths because “a friend” wanted to talk with her.

The daydream (and my shower) ended somewhere around the part where Javacia was trying not to scream. It made me smile.

Then later on in the day, I heard about her new song and video “Formation,” and decided to check it out.

Someone used the word “subversive” to describe the video, and it certainly is. She’s perched atop a drowning New Orleans police car. There are images of a young black boy raising his arms up in front of a line of police officers.

And there’s plenty of what to expect from Queen Bey – epic choreography and even more epic costumes. I mean, wow.

But the lyrics?

Well, that’s a different story.

There have already been several blog posts floating around about the hidden “meaning” behind the lyrics. That she’s finally “returning to her roots,” and “embracing her blackness.”

Let’s forget the fact that she’s not really singing…she’s rapping, and the beat isn’t dance-worthy (although she looked amazing dancing to it).

Let’s talk about her “blackness.” The lyrics in particular:

I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros
I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils

Of course, she’s referencing her daughter Blue Ivy (whose adorableness makes an appearance in the video) and her husband, rapper Jay-Z.

Then there are these lyrics:

I twirl on them haters
Albino alligators
El Camino with the seat low
Sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser
Sometimes I go off, I go off
I go hard, I go hard

or

When he f— me good I take his a– to Red Lobster, cause I slay

Wait, what?

First of all, who hates Beyonce? I’m joking of course, but it’s difficult as a fan of hers to imagine anyone being a “hater.” Her reference to the “Illuminati mess” in the lyrics was clever. Some crazies always like to associate celebs with the Illuminati and it always angered me.

But now…now after all of her hit records and essential world domination, now she’s “embracing her blackness?” I’ve noticed her progression to this kind of music over the years, and I was starting to feel alienated as a fan. This kind of clinched it for me.

If so, then I haven’t been black for years. Then again, many people think that way about me.


 

I shouldn’t have to say any of this, but now that this video has popped up, and with some of the comments, I’ve seen it’s time to finally get real about this.

“Yeah, I bet she’s a virgin. I bet she’s never sucked a dick in her life.”

This was just one of the many lovely phrases uttered loudly by my bully as I passed by on my way to journalism class in 10th grade. She made it her business to make my life miserable and ensure my place outside of the popular black folks in school. (Ironically, she’s now a Christian business coach, but hey, people can change, right?) At the time, I had dedicated in church to stay a virgin until marriage, so it stung.

In middle school, she berated me for having white friends, even though the school district was mostly white, and most of my black friends were at church.

A couple of years before the virgin comment, she and I went to a guidance counselor in some feeble attempt to make amends.

Clearly that didn’t work.

Now some of the commentary about “Formation,” is simply reminding me of this. How being bullied made me afraid of my own people. Sometimes I’m still afraid. Of judgment. Of side eye or whispers. My adulthood is still hampered by my “whiteness” to this day.

I didn’t have any close black friends outside of church until I graduated from college. Most of the black folks who weren’t bullying me either talked about me behind my back or felt sorry for me.

When I was dateless for the prom, someone suggested I ask one of the least popular black guys in high school. I guess that’s what I was worth?

Sometimes I still get scared. I’ll say something with my “New York white woman” accent to a black friend and feel my heart skip. (Yes, I’ve heard that before. I found that pretty funny as a kid.)

Everything I’ve read so far about “Formation” is about how the only people criticizing her work are either haters, not Southern or not a person of color.

Well, I really like Beyonce and I’m a Southern black woman. Will I be ostracized again?

Is it “white” of me to say I miss her Sasha Fierce days and her time with Destiny’s Child?

What if it’s simply because I’m not a fan of modern hip-hop? I despise Auto-Tune and like lyrics that don’t require an existential translation from an intellectual?

Oh, wait. That makes me “less black” too.

Beyonce is one of the greatest performers to ever grace the stage. I will always love her style, her grace and her sense of humor.

I’d totally tackle a purse snatcher for her. For real.

But the fact that we categorize ourselves to act a certain way, like a certain type of music, talk a certain way, and *that* is what it means to be black is simply pushing this kind of stereotype to other races.

Beyonce’s inner thug is finally out, so now she’s black and no longer under “white gaze?”

I’ve loved Beyonce’s blackness years ago. Why is it because she’s wearing her hair in braids, flipping off the camera and using foul language in her music has this become her emergence as a true black woman.

Why must I embrace this as an anthem for all Southern black women? I can’t. And I won’t.

My black experience was different. When the rest of the women in my family went shopping, I stayed in Radio Shack and played on the computers.

Sometimes my Mom would let me stay at the library for an entire day. It was heaven.

My best birthday moment involves getting Super Mario Bros. 3.

This doesn’t make me less black or somehow negates the instances of prejudice and racism I experienced.

I haven’t forgotten about my roots – about the struggles my parents went through living under a Jim Crow south.

There’s another conversation entirely about the “double-paned” glass ceiling black women face in their careers.

Let’s forget about all of the side-eye and inappropriate behavior from everyone for marrying a white man in Alabama.

My black card is barely existent, I suppose.

And that makes me hurt. Almost as much as the first time I was bullied in 7th grade.

But, hey, I love collards and cornbread, so that’s a plus, right?

What do ya’ll think of Beyonce’s new track? Do you think the rest of her new album will be similar? Have you ever been ostracized for not being “black enough?” Talk to me in the comments. 

 

An Open Letter to Coach Muschamp: Please Prove Me Wrong

6 Dec

I know enough about football to love watching it for hours. Over the past 20 years, I still get confused about player roles and play differences.

But as a lifelong Gamecock, I do know one thing. Winning at football is more than just stats and win-loss columns. Like everything else in life, winning is about attitude.

I know you’ve always been a very fired up and passionate coach. Most of the good coaches are. They get angry at bad calls, reprimand their players for making a mistake and even throw their headsets on the ground. We expect that!

But remember: you are coaching young men. Some are in their late teens and still learning about themselves and developing their talent. They are impressionable and will look to you for guidance and wisdom.

The kind of behavior you showed at the Iron Bowl and at previous games is embarrassing and intolerable. Not only did you cause havoc on the playing field, you showed young men what it looks like to be completely out of control.

That’s just not okay.

We still feel a bit green here at SC. We are used to disappointment and are overjoyed at wins as part of the SEC.

While I will always support my Gamecocks, you haven’t proven to me that you have what it takes to get our team back on track.

You have the knowledge and talent to make positive changes in our team and university. We know you are really awesome at what you do.

But you haven’t shown you have the heart.

You don’t have enough love and patience to be a Gamecock. I hope and pray you will learn from these mistakes and become a head coach we can admire.

Please take these words to heart as you embark on a new journey here in SC.

A Writer’s Dream: Review of the Rocket City Literary Festival

12 Oct
She said she has the same dress!

She mentioned she has the same dress!

Spontaneity is a word I can’t even spell without using spell check. (Seriously, I just used spell check for that.) It’s literally not a part of my vocabulary!

But I just had to make the drive up to Huntsville for the first ever Rocket City Literary Festival, less than a day after I realized it existed. One of my favorite blogger/authors, Jenny Lawson, was there. I’d never attended a book festival before, and I couldn’t miss a “first ever” event.

It was worth the exhausting drive to attend. Here are a few reasons why this festival was awesome, and a few suggestions for next year.

Huge venue, but spread out crowds – I have a feeling the coming years will see more and more people attending, especially with big authors as guests. The sheer number of vendors/authors was awesome. I got so much swag.

Yes, I got free books!

Yes, I got free books!

But it still felt intimate. I never felt rushed or smushed, and I was able to stop and talk to everyone for a few minutes about their book or organization. And I even got to spend a few minutes chatting with Jenny on how she manages her anxiety during book tours and raving about the dress I had on. She had one just like it.

When it was time for food, I only had to wait in line a few minutes, and there were plenty of chairs available at the Reading Corner, where authors shared excerpts of their work.

I made it my mission to visit every single table. I think I managed to get 95% of them. (The sore feet and throat the next day was a reminder of my endeavor.) I also attended a fantastic panel on diversity in writing.

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I was exhausted when I left.

So kudos to the organizers for managing to run a huge event without feeling too crowded and keeping both your volunteers, guests and attendees happy.

Of course, the only major issue was that I had just heard about it the day before. Even avid book lover friends hadn’t heard about it until I mentioned it.

My husband said he may have seen a billboard in Birmingham, but I missed any press that it had garnered. It seemed to be an event catered towards locals, because every time I mentioned I drove two hours to get there, people seemed shocked.

rocket city literary festival volunteers

Please bring back the balloon guy. This is just epic.

So they could definitely work on spreading the word more. Perhaps with bloggers (ahem?🙂 ) I’d also recommend maybe a hotel discount, since the venue was next to the Embassy Suites. That would also be a draw for out-of-towners, and possibly post-convention events inbetween days.

I think there also could have been more outdoor signage. For a newbie like me, it was a bit difficult to figure out exactly where to go. Plus, I think there should be an hourly parking area for folks who only stay a little while. (Although $7 isn’t bad.)

As a writer, it was the perfect opportunity to connect with fellow authors and publishers. Plus, it gave me the encouragement and strength to read and write more. On the way home, I listened to an audiobook. That was the first audiobook I’ve purchased in about a decade.

Plus, I told Jenny I want to write a book about anxiety that she’d want to read. She mentioned there isn’t a lot out there, especially written by people of color, and that I should send it to her when I’m done (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!). So of course, I’m going gangbusters trying to flesh out the idea more.

Next year, I’m bringing family and maybe staying both days.

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