TALK TO THE DADDY

Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Are we gettin' negro comfortable up in here?

Farwell

"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Are we gettin' negro comfortable up in here?"
--RawDawg

Listen up. Here in Minneapolis, a lot of black folks were hungry over the holidays. The food shelves were low in food. A few gave out. Some folks phoned and asked me to help. The daddy got a small caravan of his buddies-- three other guys-- and we got a couple of agencies to open up their door on Christmas Eve and Christmas day to give us food and the one thing the adults said they wanted the most, coffee. Evidently, food shelters don't give coffee out to people.

Now, after helping out, the daddy was still feeling bad about the plight of these families but happy that he and his buddies got the opportunity to help. On January 1st, some brothas came over to help him celebrate the end of Kwanzaa. And in the midst of the celebration, several brought up the idea that the daddy "don't hang with the brothas much anymore." And they cited Christmas Eve party that I missed. Now, after the daddy apologized and told them he was gathering and delivering food on Christmas Eve, one said, "Mac, you know that's always our time together." The daddy asked him, "Did you hear what I said? I was delivering food to families!"

Some other brothas used the notion of hunger to talk about the Palestinians. But, after they left, it stayed on the daddy's mind. Why did some brothas in my group nod their heads when
he said, "Mac, you know this always our time together--" after the daddy told them he was delivering food to poor people? Eventually, the daddy had to admit something he had seen but refused to believe: that, as much as he loves these brothas, he has a different sensibility from them. Check it:

*They have new SUVS; and it's a status thing to keep getting new gas guzzlers just about every year. I have an SUV, which comes in handy in winters in Minnesota. It's 2001.

*They buy expensive clothes, cologne, ties and shoes. I just get something that coordinates and cologne without alcohol in it and doesn't smell like Aqua Velva.

*They gamble at casinos around Minnesota and Vegas, where they getVIP cards, which gives them free suites, food and parking. They bet on horses in Shakopee, Minnesota. The daddy doesn't gamble.

*Though some grew up poor, they don't care about the poor now, including the black poor, including poor relatives. They care about their jobs, their immediate family and an occasional nephew or niece that's gone astray. That's it. The daddy was raised poor, worked in poor neighborhoods, and still volunteers now and then.

The daddy doesn't know for sure, but he suspects that there are other African Americans who no longer care about the poor, even their poor relatives; who would rather be at a banging bar with dance music, with people out on the floor letting loose and having a good time, with big steaks, spicy appetizers and with people holding drinks and a warm smile than toting boxes in the cold. The daddy understands. He would like to be there too. But something pulls at him, at some of us, to do something, something more, something bigger than us as individuals. Truthfully, the daddy didn't want to feed anybody, not even himself. He was recovering from the flu. But something--this sensibility thing-- pulled him out of bed, put on his clothes, pushed him out of the house, picked up his phone so he could guilt-trip friends to help provide food for 9 families.

But what's bothering the daddy is that on January 1, 2009, he sat with about 10 guys celebrating the end of Kwanzaa (which is all about family and community) and realized that they had absolutely no interest in the poor-- no sympathy, empathy or concern that could pull them, that could move them to think of anyone, or do something for anyone, but themselves.

And what almost jolted the daddy out of his seat was the sudden and stark realization that, on this sacred night, the only thoughts my buddies had was of another imported beer or another shot of Absolute Vodka; and the only thing that got them to speak with passion was the thought of the next woman they hoped to--as Bob Dylan put it-- "lay across my big brass bed." Obviously, the only "freedom" ride these guys ever had was cruising down highway 94 in their new SUVs with navigation, trying to stay as far away from the hood as possible.

Listen, the daddy knows that perhaps he has used his friends unfairly here. He knows that a lot of black people who care about the poor, including my three buddies that helped me deliver food to some families. But after observing the behavior of my other male friends and others, he is convinced that some of us just don't give a damn about poor people anymore, if we ever did. And the daddy is reminded of that quote from Dr. King:

"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

And he is feeling a basic question from poet and wise blogger Rawdawg (http://rawdawgb.blogspot.com/). In a down-home urban language but sure-fire logic, he asks a question that has drifted into the daddy's heart and threatens to stay there until the end of his days:

"Are we gettin' negro comfortable up in here?"

Well, are we?

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

daddy, you're being too harsh. It was the holidays.They just wanted to chill.

rainywalker said...

daddyBstrong,
The stats say that Americans are the most giving [charities]in the world. But I believe we can all do more regardless of black or white. Are many of us to confortable regardless of holiday or not? Yes! A few cans of coffee, sugar and creamer is not going to kill any of us. The time others considered wasted may not look that way to a cold homeless person or veteran.

Anonymous said...

Mr. MacDaddy, no disrespect. Some of us have to work a lot of overtime or 2 jobs. So, on a holiday, all we want to do is have a good meal and chill.

Jimmy said...

I agree with the daddy, a lot of folks just don't care about the poor.

Yes, there are people like the daddy that find a way to get it done, But just think if everyone that was able to gave one quarter of their time and resources that McDaddy does, we could wipe out hunger in America. No Joke!

I give what I can and do volunteer work when I am able. It isn't always as much as I would like, because like anonymous 2 said, some of us need to work two jobs.

The part that may be a wake up call to many in this sagging economy, is many of those that drive the new suv every year, and drink the best champagne, can afford to do so but they really are living check to check. They are a layoff away from being one of the ones in need.

Anonymous said...

Now ain't you just the man!

Daddy it's better to lead by good example and leave the preachin in the pulpit

who knows, maybe you and other do-gooders lay an example on folks and they might change too. keep the faith

Sista GP said...

More each year I come into the understanding of my father's last words to me. "You will get your answer."

I am understanding that the worldly aspects has no real meaning. None of it matters.

The only thing that matters is what is inside of us. Our heart, our faith.

What we do for others matters most, not what we do for ourselves. It took the loss of a 200K+ house, 30K+ cars, and a decent credit rating for me to get to this point. I am not complaining, I am grateful.

God had to stop me, bring me down, to see the light. I hope many more are able to see it too.

It's great you and your friends were able to help those families in need. I wish my daily life was structured so I could volunteer at places and spread this awareness.

Blessings to you and yours

rainywalker said...

Anonymous,
The daddy and many of us may be naive humanitarian's but no one can say we lack individuality, distinction or recognizability. Keep the Faith!

nun in the hood said...

Hi, macDaddy
When I was teaching I took several teens to Haiti a couple of times....They ate like the people, rode the public transport of the people, and basically lived like the people. That was a GOOD way to develop that sensitivity you spoke of...It was life changing for several of them, and they have simplified their life styles.
One of the things that concerns me about our president-elect....He is so protected and secured, that he may lose some of that sensitivity you spoke of.
Going out from time to time to deliver food, etc. is good for all of us....We need to keep in solidarity with folks who struggle beyond our imagining...I went to the funeral of the 15 year old who was found dead,pregnant and frozen in an abandoned garage in our neighborhood. Her mom called me from the bus she was taking to find help to bury her daughter....One of our Sisters arranged beautiful roses...one bouquet for the daughter and one for the baby.
Yes, your are right, we need to be sensitive and we need to act on behalf of our brothers and sisters in need..We can't take vacations from that....

Stella said...

Everyone here is right. We can do more and, due to the economy, we have to work a lot of overtime and two jobs.

I think some people care in the abstract but have little time to help. On the other hand, I admire MacDaddy who does good for others and teaches good by example.

And here's me blogging.

MacDaddy said...

Stella & Jimmy: Thanks for the compliment, but I haven't been doing as much volunteering as I've done in the past. I will do more in 2009.

Anon: You are right. Times are tough. Some people do have to work overtime or two jobs. Some of them need support. Thanks for reminding me.

MacDaddy said...

nun: Thanks for all the loving work you do on the north side of Minneapolis. Knowledge of your good work precedes you.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey there Daddy!

I understand what you are saying and there IS a detachment from the plight of the poor by those who used to be poor themselves.

Thanks for this post.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa


P.S. By the way...Anon 2:46 PM is most likely a white blogger using "ain't you the man" to sound hip! It just doesn't work when they try does it?? Not that it matters.

CurvyGurl said...

Well, MacDaddy, you know I have a bunch of comments about this but I'll focus on one that's been on my mind recently. I think many people have lost sight of the things that truly matter in life in a general sense. Add in thinking about someone else's needs and it falls on deaf ears. Some of us have become complacent spending a bunch of money on things that only put a temporary plug on what's really lacking in our lives, only to continue to be a issue that constantly needs a fix...handbag here, shoes there...still empty.

There are some selfish folks in this world, but I'm wondering what the response would have been if you put your buddies on the spot. Perhaps they didn't make the immediate connection of what you said and why you chose to lend a helping hand. Maybe this leaves an opp to have a (sober sans machismo) discussion later. Of course, there will be those who still won't get the point, but I think some may surprise you...even apologize for not grasping the gravity of the situation. Don't let this discourage you, turn it into an open for more dialogue and teaching.

MacDaddy said...

Lisa: Thanks for coming my way. You know I love to hear from you. And thanks for the tip about the blogger. I thought he sound funny.

CurvyGurl: How did you get so wise?

CurvyGurl said...

LOL. I appreciate that, MacDaddy, but I don't know if I can claim it. As my momma used to say when I'd make a comment about being shocked/disappointed in someone's lack of regard for others...just live long enough, you'll see a lot of things that open your eyes to the harsh reality.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Sista GP you are SO singing my song!
I've lived in a mansion and driven the cars. Today I live in a four room farm house out in the middle of nowhere and I've never been happier.
I spent decades reading philosophy, religion, getting an MA in cultural studies, ets., etc., but it wasn't until I looked inside myself that I felt the real power of existence that only exists within me in the moment of right now.
The Daddy knows and he just told me that his brothers in the black community are about as clueless as mine here in my rural white community.

Question: What is "community" and how deep should it go?
I'm feelin a blog post.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Daddy, did anyone ever tell you that you are a good writer?

jah said...

Hey daddy,

Up front, let me apologize for rambling...I do that when something slaps me.
I agree with anonymous. I also think you're being way too harsh on your buddies. I certainly don't want this to in anyway be construed as being in agreement with the other anonymous comment about "do-gooders" (is that the opposite of "evil-doers"?) As Rainywalker said, we can all do more...and more of us should. For most, and I can only speak from the perspective of the black experience, I believe giving is an innate consciousness. Because all of us have had to deal with varying levels of oppression at some time in our lives, many have lost this essential and moral characteristic. It then has to become a learned experience. I also don't think we can assume that because we don't see or hear about the contributions of time, talent and resources, that people aren't reaching out in some way. Spending time connecting with friends and family is also healthy and, necessary for some. It too can be a need. Frankly, I don't often gather with friends and family, I gather solace from nature; but when I do, it too serves to ground me, and I'm told it grounds them. A kind of health, if you will, that supports the consciousness and sensibility you expect of those with whom you choose to associate. Sounds too like that's what your buddies are looking for in asking to connect with you. I think is a good thing. I'm thinking too that many folks, more than you know, actually do share that sensibility you speak of, but demonstrate it differently. I don't know who the heck is is, but I agree with psychologist James Messina, who said that "martyrs are "professional" help seekers. They make the rounds of paid and volunteer helpers, advice givers, counselors, consultants--anyone willing to listen to their tale of woe. Unfortunately, they usually ignore the assistance, advice or direction they are given. This frequently results in their "helpers" giving up on them in frustration and discouragement." That said, quit doggin your buddies out and try to bring them into the fold starting with your own quote of MLK: "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

Kenyan, Kipsigis' african proverb found in "African Traditional Religions," is quoted as follows:

"It is humility that exalts one and favors him against his friends."

'course now, you did say the daddy "used his friends perhaps unfairly." If this was a metaphoric call to action... I get that! I pledge to step up and do more than I ordinarily do working with and for those in need. If not, don't tell them why, just haul your "friends" into your truck and show them how it's done!

Keep the faith and remember that while we all like music, we might just dance to a little different beat.

jah

P.S. If we're among those fortunate enough to still have a check coming in, we bet not get too comfortable up in here...that paycheck doesn't go that far anymore, and all the folks I know, including me, are one paycheck away from standing in that same ever dwindling food line. That, in and of itself, ought to remind folks to be thankful and reach out to those who are struggling right now!

jah

MacDaddy said...

"For most, and I can only speak from the perspective of the black experience, I believe giving is an innate consciousness."
Jah: I agree with much of what you say. However, on the idea of black families giving as some kind of innateness, I would like to believe that. I don't. I grew up in a community where black people chipped in and helped each other out. But there was anything innate about it. Black people were highly cognizant of their oppression. They knew what was objectively going on with each other. They consciously helped each other out. Some still do this today, especially in the South where communities are more homogeneous.

Since writing this post, I've discussions with my male friends; and they told me flat out that black people have got start thinking about saving themselves as individuals. One said, "The Urban League and the NAACP won't be able to help them in the future." Another said "Times are getting hard for everybody. People got to save themselves." I'm not saying times aren't tough for everyone or that, ultimately, people don't have to depend on themselves. I'm saying things can happen to any of us to throw us into poverty. For example, I've worked with a number of women who were instantly put into poverty when their male partner divorced them or just left, taking half or most of the income with them. I'm saying things happen; and some of us can help. That's all. And I'm saying some of us are not saying "I don't want to deal with it." I'm saying that because that's what I'm seeing. That's what some of my friends have now told me so.

nicki nicki tembo said...

There's just something corrosive about complacency. We should all be striving, as in a race, toward all that is good. And when we are done with our immediate task, still labor hard...Too much needed to be done to chill. I digress.

Where did this concept of 'chill' come from anyway?

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

thanks for the lovbe folk

blackgirlinmaine said...

Sadly I think you are right, I grew up poor and never forgot where I came from...I work in the non-profit sector. Christmas Eve I was in my office trying to get help for families who had nothing eventually taking from my own pocket to make sure 3 little kids had something.

Yet I have relatives who grew up like me who are just like your boys....seems folks don't care for the poor. The thing is in this economy more of then we like are only a few paychecks away from being those folks we don't like to speak of.

Excellent post!

MacDaddy said...

Blackgirlinmaine: Guys like me volunteer in the community once in a while. You do good work in the community all the time. As you know, working in non-profits, you work long hours, longer than 40. Thanks for all the work you do.