Monday, February 18, 2013

“Who’s Your Daddy:” Our Creeping Cultural Crisis

The other day my wife and I pulled into a gas station where several others were already fueling up.  From all appearances, they were “good-ol’-boys”, friendly southern White folks who have risen above the old historically offensive and racially charged “redneck” culture.  Good-ol’-boys are light-hearted about their own culture and appreciate the cultures of others.  As we filled our tanks, an African American fella pulled up in his ‘hoopty’, gangsta rap booming so loud that it distorted his speakers.  With pants sagging, he promptly left his car with the ground shaker blasting, leaving the rest of us in the noise that required us to shout to be heard.  Everyone at the pumps was similarly affected and annoyed.

As we left the gas station with our ears ringing, my wife commented, “the ol’ redneck culture meets its progeny.”  (I’ll explain this in a bit.)  This incident caused the memory of Lil’ Wayne’s tasteless and insolent lyrics from "Future's Karate Chop" to intrude into my mind: "I’m gonna pop a lot of pills / [then] beat that p***y up like Emmett Till…" – disgusting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Chocolate Heart

Don’t tell my husband’s mom, but I bought her one of those giant boxed hearts full of chocolates for Valentine’s Day.  I really can’t think of anyone who enjoys chocolates more than my mother-in-love.  She can detect chocolate in the house more accurately than a heat-seeking missile – after all, she’s had some eighty-plus years to refine her detection technology. Between her and my chocolate-loving husband, such treats don’t last long in our house, but I think I’ve successfully hidden the chocolate heart out of the range of her highly-refined cocoa-radar … so far.

Since the purchase, I’ve found myself reflecting on a poem from Langston Hughes that my mother-in-love would remember, having lived in New York during the Harlem Renaissance.  It echoes in my head every time I think about that chocolate heart, knowing that it contains a diverse selection of candies that will be received by a woman who’s learned to appreciate each one for what it may have to offer. 

Here’s an excerpt from that poem:
“Molasses taffy,
Coffee and cream,
Licorice, clove, cinnamon
To a honey brown dream.
Ginger, wine-gold,
Persimmon, blackberry –
All through the spectrum,
Harlem girls vary –
So if you want to know beauty’s
Rainbow sweet thrill,
Stroll down luscious,
Delicious, fine Sugar Hill.”1
Hughes has spelled out something that could take a lifetime for many of us of color to embrace – that everything about us can reflect God’s deliberate artistry and handiwork, down to the DNA that determines the way each of us is made.