Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Real Charlie Charlie Challenge

As a little girl, whenever we ran from worms or dogs or anything that my mother deemed harmless, she would say, “What you all are supposed to be afraid of, you’re not afraid of.”  I used to think, of course we are afraid of what we consider scary.  As I got a little bit older, I realized that she was referring to boys; and she most likely was talking to my older sisters because when she died, I was 11 and had the body of a nine year old……boy.

For the past 45 years, nobody was skillful enough to convince me that ghosts existed.  Not saying that hearing the stories didn’t scare the crap out of me; and if we had to go home alone in the dark, it wasn’t fun trying to see who was pulling up the rear.  And over the course of my life, I’ve always known somebody who knew somebody who was a friend of somebody who got possessed by demons and had to eventually leave Antigua for the United States.  And for some reason those same people also knew of a young girl whose jealous neighbors went to an obeah man/woman who worked obeah on her and she too had to leave.  But for some reason, I never personally knew these people; and no one I knew personally ever knew them personally.

If you are not familiar with the Charlie Charlie Challenge, here it is in a nutshell:  you balance a pencil on another pencil, draw two lines to form four quadrants, write the words YES and NO twice so that they are diagonal to the identical word.  You summon this Mexican demon name Charlie…..go figure.  And if it lands on YES, something something.  If it lands on NO, you cannot leave.  Oh yeah, if it lands on YES, it follows you home.  I personally lost interest halfway.  Apart from Charlie not being a common Mexican name, I have a few questions.

Does it matter what kind of pencils are used?  Like do they have to be brand new?  Have an eraser?  Be perfectly sharpened?  Do they specifically have to be No. 2, because I know for exams that is a requirement?  Some pencils are of very bad quality and every time they get sharpened, they get smaller and smaller.  Can these short pencils work? 

Since Charlie is Mexican, do I have to call him Charlie Charlie by the way, or one Charlie will do when I’m talking about him, BUT not summoning him....digressing...if this game is played in some African, Asian or European country, is it implied that Charlie is multilingual?  I mean no is no in both English and Spanish, and even if most Mexicans don’t know English, they at least know yes.  But what happens when kids who speak Swahili play this game?

And my last issue is this, if it was that easy to summon a demon: two pencils, YES facing YES, NO facing NO on a piece of paper, why the hell did people waste so much money hiring obeah men and women?  If any child can summon a demon all the way from Mexico at that, why are celebrities selling their souls to the Devil for fame and fortune?  If any idiot can summon a demon, why did those people have to leave Antigua for good when they were possessed?  Couldn’t their enemies simply follow them and work obeah on them again once they crossed oceans?

When I first heard about the Charlie Charlie Challenge, I thought it had something to do with Charlie Edbo, and I thought to myself, “Okay, as much as you think these people are fanatical about their religion, it is not worth dying over to piss them off.”  Trying to see if an Islamic extremist group will issue a fatwa on you if you write something negative about Mohammed is a challenge.  Summoning a Mexican demon named Charlie that no one has actually ever seen is a joke.

Look, I’m not trying to convince you not to believe any more than I expect you to convince me to believe; however I just feel that praying for protection from Charlie might be bit futile.  What might be more effective is telling your young daughters about charlie if she comes into contact with one and was never given “the speech” because perspectively speaking, without the right information and necessary tools, summoning that charlie can cause her in nine months to deal with a demon for 18 years to life.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Where’s the Bleach?

You people are waaaayyyyy toooo sensitive!

Who people?

Black people.

Yes, Black people are very sensitive and sometimes paranoid.  When Apple came out with new emojis, Clorox tweeted, ‘New emojis are alright but where’s the bleach.’  Well, Black people took that as a racially charged offense; stopped everything and called or rather tweeted Clorox out for being racist.  I mean nobody had time to find TBT pictures.  Stuff was going down!  To avoid further backlash, Clorox eventually removed that tweet and followed it with a more remorseful one: ‘Wish we could bleach away our last tweet. Didn't mean to offend - it was meant to be about all the      emojis that could use a clean up.’ 

Clorox is not stupid.  Over there, they know how much Black people are crazy about clean clothes.  Meanwhile, I’m over here thinking, “Is that it?  People are offended by emojis!”  And I know for sure that there is no way that I would have been hurt by bleachgate.  Here’s why.  As a business major, I learned that the number one goal of EVERY company is to make a profit.  Looking at the photo of the Clorox bottle made from emojis, I know that Clorox was just thinking about Clorox and not about the new dark faced emojis.  Just like how Black people think that everything is about racism, Clorox thinks that everything is about Clorox.  Do you know how much more money Clorox would make if it had an emoji? 

Secondly, as an old schooler, I don’t think I’d have time to update or locate aon my cell phone.  If I have to go to the toilet, I don’t think that I’d be so busy that I can’t write the actual word.  Plus, we just are in the habit of giving way too much information.  If I have to go, BRB will suffice.  Who needs to know if I’m going to take a dump, eat dinner, have a quickie or take a nap?  I’m assuming that’s what an emoji like that would be used for.  I’m not technologically smart enough, so please correct me if I’m wrong.

But this is America; and this is 2015, dammit.  There are plenty of things that are actually racially insensitive.  There are plenty of things that are actually prejudiced against us, and Clorox trying to increase its bottom line is not one of them. 

For instance, outside my neighborhood, there is a miniature golf course called the Golf Plantation.  Can you imagine how people would cringe if that was called Auschwitz Golf Camp?  And please don’t tell me that that is quite a leap because just the other day, Coca-Cola got in trouble with the Jews.  As Fanta celebrated its 75th anniversary, it greeted us with a little history of how it originated.  As people realized that Fanta was invented because Coca-Cola’s German operation could not get the ingredients for coke to the bottling plants during World War II because of trade embargos with Nazi Germany, all hell broke loose. 

Of course Coca-Cola pulled the ad.  What, Jews don’t drink Fanta?  And if they learn the history after the fact, will Fanta taste differently?  What would happen if Black people decided that they would never wear cotton?  Or what if we decided to stop using sugar?   (Actually that might not be a bad thing with diabetes and all.)  Or what if we decided never to step on a boat, go on a bed or a ship because the first propeller was invented by Benjamin Montgomery, the corded bed was invented by Henry Boyd, and Benjamin Bradley invented the steam engine?  All these men were slave inventors whose creations alleviated the lives of others. 

Every Easter, millions of Black people go to church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Easter usually, but not every year, coincides with Passover which is when the Jews celebrate their exodus from Egypt.  So it makes me wonder, why Black people don’t celebrate the anniversary of their freedom every January 1 to commemorate the proclamation signed by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863.  Oh, could it be because the proclamation was just an executive order and not a law passed by Congress?  I know it couldn’t be because over 600,000 people died during the Civil War.  I mean, for Black people to celebrate that proclamation would not seem insensitive in light of the demise of hundreds of thousands of people, right.  If that were the case, then there would be no need for us to debate the insensitivity of the Confederate flag still proudly flying on people’s trucks, in front of their houses and outside some federal buildings.

Although the swastika is over 3,000 years old, because of its use by Nazi Germany, it is now prohibited in many countries, if it is used as a symbol of hate; but its sight alone is just simply frowned upon.  And although its presence sends a lot of people into a tizzy, people like me have to endure driving by the Golf Plantation.

As a Black person, I can see why we have become so sensitive and paranoid.  With the police pulling people over just for being Black, driving a car that is too nice, driving in a neighborhood that is too polished; with police killing close to a thousand people each year just for being Black; with owners of basketball teams saying that they don’t want Black people attending the games; with frat boys singing that they don’t want Black people in their fraternities, I guess anyone can see why Black people can be a tad bit touchy.

I mean, long before our cause was being championed by Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, women’s suffrage was a done deal.  After child labor laws were passed, people became cautious about taking advantage of youths working for them.  Although there will always be bigots, Italians, Irish, Jewish and Asian people don’t get near as much flak as they did many years ago.  But for some reason, when it comes to Black people, it’s like bigots have reverted to the Jim Crow era.

So it is understandable why Black people have to fight for every little thing, like Black woman forever stating that the color ‘nude’ does not apply to us.  And after many decades, I found out why Band-Aids are the color that they are – they were not made with Black people in mind.  As if we don’t get cuts too!

But these latter fights are easily fixable.  Either we don’t buy Band-Aids or ‘nude’ clothing and makeup or we make our own.  And there are generic emojis that one can use if one is not comfortable using a White faced one; but perspectively speaking, wasting time and energy about not seeing ourselves represented in emojis is time and energy we are not spending in seeing ourselves represented in leadership roles within law enforcement, legislative branches, corporations and civil service where we can actually make a difference.

Monday, May 18, 2015


Does that offend you?  Well, how do you think I felt having those words hurled at me? 

Even before the shock wore off, I got into analyzing mode.  Did he mean niggas, like his dawgs, his peeps?  Did he mean niggaz because I’m are so cool?  Nope, he was angry.  He meant niggers!!!

So this was what happened.  It was a Sunday morning, and what do non-churchgoers do on a Sunday morning, the one day of the week where there are no kids to drop off, no kids to pick up, no games to watch, no concerts to watch?  Well, if you’ve had a really tough winter like we did, and on that Sunday you were gifted with awesome weather, then you go to exercise – take a few laps around the tracks, play some tennis.  So there I was playing some great tennis, if I do say so myself.  And you know what, I do say so myself.  Not only was I returning the balls, but they were actually making it on the court.  I was making my husband work for his points.  I was getting some much needed exercise.  I was enjoying the great weather, finally.

So the tennis courts are pretty close to the streets, and the next thing I know I hear the horn of a greyish/creamish pickup.  I’m thinking that I don’t know anyone who drives that color pickup, but since the horn was directed at me, I conceded.  I’m thinking it’s almost 8 am, on a Sunday morning at that, so who could it be, and would they even be able to recognize me?  Hey, it must be my neighbor down the street.  Sharon is always on the go, and always early.  But no, it’s not a dreadlocked Black woman with an ever present smile.  Wait, John, another neighbor has a similar pickup.  But why would John be up that early?  And there is no way he would have recognized me playing tennis.  But since all of this is happening in seconds, although it felt like slow motion, I finalized that it is John and waved.

OH……MY……GOD!  It wasn’t John either.  It was some frigging rednecks.  And with venom, one of them screamed those words at me and my husband.  And the first thought that came to my mind was, “Is that how they see me?”  I don’t see myself as a nigger, or even a nigga, and certainly not one of the niggaz.  Those words are not even in my vernacular.  I don’t even like to hear them in songs.  Then I remembered; this is not the first time.  Please, not even the second time.  In hindsight, the kids and I have been subjected to that as we played tennis.  But since it always sounded like an afterthought, we’d go like, “Did they just say that?”  But never had I heard it so clearly; and never was it directed at me so potently.

Then as I tried to get my head back in the game, I thought, “Wait, what if that man is the husband of one of my kids’ teachers?”  Or even worse, “What if he’s an actual teacher?”  Or the worst, “What if he’s the father of one of my kids’ friends and has hosted my child for a sleepover?”  Oh no, what if he’s smiled at me in the past because our paths crossed.  But would he have done that, knowing that he had such words in his heart?  Could be.  Oh shit, what if he’s on the school board?  Oh please don’t let him be the cop that ever finds the need to pull me over.  After all, I am usually going 15 to 20 miles over the speed limit.  They are just suggestions, right?  I mean, nobody really drives 40 miles per hour.  And who drives 55 on the highway?  Not even grannies!  Geez, he better not be a prosecutor, judge, or lawmaker.  The list was endless.

But before I finally got my head back in the game, I thought to myself, so what if I was a nigger?  Does that mean that I don’t pay taxes and don’t deserve to use the tennis courts?  Can I not be in my own community?  Don’t I belong here?  And it got me thinking, even if a person is a nigger or a redneck, an evangelical or an atheist, a liberal or a conservative, gay or straight, obese or skinny, perspectively speaking, he or she still has the right to enjoy a game of tennis without being bullied.