05
Mar
10

just cuz….

this has been sitting with me for the past few days… what can i say? Nikki tells it like no other and sometimes it be just like that… complicated.

Habits

i haven’t written a poem in so long
i may have forgotten how
unless writing a poem
is like riding a bike
or swimming upstream
or loving you
it may be a habit that once aquired
is never lost
but you say i’m foolish
of course you love me
but being loved of course
is not the same as being loved because
or being loved despite
or being loved
if you love me why
do i feel so lonely
and why do i always wake up alone
and why am i practicing
not having you to love
i never loved you that way.

By Nikki Giovanni

04
Mar
10

throwDOWN thursday’s: Madlib- Crate diggin’

Some what of  a throwback but the Stone Throw crew’s appearance at SXSW this year has me going back through some of my favorite cali crew’s joints.

if you plan on being in austin for SXSW go see the crew you wont be disappointed!

25
Feb
10

ThrowDOWN Thursday’s! Whole Wheat Bread

Black rockers from Fla. need i say more?

25
Feb
10

Henrietta Lacks: cervical health, theft, & Black Bodies

I would like to think i was a good student in High School. I may have fallen asleep in class but hey, i was still in AP bio and for the most part i still remember my anatomy and science. On top of that i try to stay up on what goes on in health debates especially when Black women’s health and justice are concerned. That is why i was TOTALLY surprised to learn of Henrietta Lacks and the way her cells have traveled the world a billion times over.

So, what would you do if one day you found out that your mother’s cancer cells were being incubated and tested in scientific labs around the world. More importantly, you might have wondered how they got there in the first place right? What if you learned that in 1950 your mother went to the hospital seeking treatment for an unknown reproductive health concern and was turned away. Then after her insistence, she was treated for a venereal disease without a screening (well didn’t you know, you can tell black women have some sort of sexually transmitted infection by just looking at them…), then again pushed out the door. But that couldn’t be it, right? how did they get her cells? well, you find out that your momma unwilling to take no for an answer goes back to John Hopkins and demands comprehensive testing. Well, it would be during these tests, x-rays, and blood transfusions the doctors find out she had cervical cancer and it had metastasized through out her body causing her deep pain. The doctors then take samples of her cells to create cultures of the significant growth they have never seen before, the cells have infinite regeneration capabilities, meaning they do not die. The doctors of John Hopkins in their excitement about the scientific ‘find’ hold a press conference the day after your mother’s death, announcing the availability of the cells for scientific research. You wouldn’t know this because your momma died at 31 and was buried in an unmarked grave. you would only learn the full story when a young white graduate student contacts you and your family for interviews to include in her book.

This is the story of Henrietta Lack’s cells and her family’s discovery that her cells have been shipped out and tested for over 5 decades all over the world. This is the story of the availability of the Black women’s body for use and furthering of medical science. What is remarkable is that Henrietta’s family, some of whom still live on the plantation where their ancestors where owned, whipped, and died, do not have the resources to seek the medical attention they need. Henrietta’s cells have been used to develop a vaccine for polio, they have been sent to the moon to test the affect of gravity on human cells, they’ve been helpful to further research on Cancer and AIDS. They have even been used to test human sensitivity to chemicals! Her cells do not die which means the opportunities for capitalist gains in medical industrial complex are too infinite. One only has to think of all the money the N1H1 and HPV vaccines have generated for pharmaceutical companies and the political entities that promote them (Texas governor Rick Perry i see you). So even with all of this her family cannot afford medical attention or preventative care? Word, its’ like that?

When i first heard this story i was floored. How did i miss this? How did women who organize and fight for reproductive justice miss this thievery that happened? Was the assumption that it’s ok to take material from this Black woman’s body without the consent or knowledge of her family just to be taken as another great contribution to history… well happy Black History Month yall. With all the debate of stem cells, cord blood, and many other advances, the bureaucracy for donating body cells has become a specialized legal terrain.

On a spiritual note, what does it mean that this Black woman’s life is infinite and is keeping the world alive in various ways? Additionally, i don’t know if i would want my momma’s cells out in the world traveling all willy-nilly. It’s worth thinking about. What will happen to medical science when there stops being enough Black bodies to experiment on? Look at them, they like the Black woman they came from are beautiful, but they too are copyrighted. damn…

c/s

juliRED

18
Feb
10

to live and die in LA

Sometimes my LA driver tendencies cause me to heave a deep sigh when ambulance sirens are close enough that i have to pull over, becoming irritated at the delay.

Today, i heard them, slowed down, sighed, stopped and… Today, i saw his perfect pink black feet. 1- one thousand, 2-one thousand, 3- one thousand. the man in blue stretched out above him, pumping in a silent dance with his unknowing partner… up, down, up, down .1- one thousand, 2-one thousand, 3- one thousand. Stop.

You don’t have to see the final breath to know, nor is the final breath the only time you see death. It’s walking next to you, it brushed your shoulder, didn’t you feel it? see it? it is everywhere. How well are we?

Yesterday the LA Times reported that “Los Angeles County ranked number 26th in health outcomes and 44th in health factors.” This is out of 56 counties surveyed. This newly released report, published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin, took a comprehensive view of factors leading to positive or negative health outcomes. The times reports, “Each county was ranked based on residents’ health, longevity and factors such as smoking, obesity, binge drinking, access to primary care providers, rates of high school graduation, rates of violent crime, air pollution levels, liquor store density, unemployment rates and number of children living in poverty.” Clearly this report established what many Black and Brown community health organizations know, where you live and lifestyle opportunities available to you affect the length and quality of your life.

Los Angeles, specifically south LA, has incredible rates of premature death for Black residents. According to reports by the LA Department of Public Health more Black people die of preventable illness such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, than “gang violence” or any other highly racialized  or seemingly criminal activity.  Ever been down south Vermont and try getting food from a place that does not have a drive through? Good luck.

What this county report failed to analyze is the obvious structural racism that is at work here, yet it is remarkably clear, those who have privileges of whiteness and all the opportunity it affords you, live longer. The placement of liquor stores and fast food chains are not arbitrary, all one must do is to think back to redlining to make the case for racialized urban planning. The disproportionate death that occurs in the city and rural areas, are those that are mostly populated by Black and Brown people. While LA was 44th, counties that fell even further behind were those of the Central Valley including Kern.

Are you wondering who made the top ten, well you shouldn’t.  That would be the most clearly white affluent counties with minimal ‘diversity’ including Marin, San Benito, Colusa, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Placer, Orange, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma.

My point is that for us death is not always sensational nor sudden, it is the daily struggle against state violence that tears us apart cell by cell. It is in the make up of our neighborhoods, it’s the policy, and budget cuts that allows for fewer clinics, fewer health programs, afters school camps, green areas, a decent grocery store and adequate jobs. It is not the fact that negro made it back on the census because for as long as we look for intentional and racial slurs as the sole markers of racism we miss this slow death and some of the reasons why Black people are the only racial population shrinking in the U.S.

c/s

juliRED

18
Feb
10

ThrowDOWN THursdays!! Carolina Chocolate Drops!

So for the past few days i listening to them nonstop! im telling you, you need this in your life!

They have been out for awhile, i was slow to the game… i mean to be fair, i ain’t never really like the sound of a bango but the Carolina Chocolate Drops change all of that!

http://www.carolinachocolatedrops.com/ go buy some music.

i love it

c/s

juliRED

14
Feb
10

not a Valentine

“To be sensual, i think is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life its self, and to be present in all that one does from the effort of loving to the making of bread” ~ James Baldwin

Check out one of my favorite dudes take on Romance by Obligation at The Champion Lover fan page.

we need to radiate love in all directions everyday, from that possibilities are endless.

there are no empty spaces.

c/s

juliRED