Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
It's been a long time since Iâve seen my friend 'James'. On this blog way back when, we discussed M.A.N.T.I.S., a television program back in the 1990's about a paralyzed Black scientist who puts on an exoskeleton to fight crime. It didn't last long, of course. Don't worry, because Marvel Studios has caused 'woke' Black bruthas and sistahs to dust off their dashikis, pump their fists and scream.........oh, it's not that kind of movie? So I found James after thirteen years and we're talking about the next great Black superhero movie.
Chas: James, how've you been? I haven't seen you since 2005! Remember when we talked about M.A.N.T.I.S., that Black superhero show that used to be on Fox?
James: Yeah, the one where he had two African assistants in the pilot only to have them taken out of the regular series once it was approved by two white assistants? Yeah, I remember.
Chas: What about how the show ended? Wasn't that weak?
James: Dude, he was stomped by a dinosaur! I'll tell you white folks play evil man. He didn't even get to keep that trench coat he wore in the pilot! They are so wrong!
Chas: Thirteen years later, we have Black Panther from Marvel Studios. Bruthas and sistas are determined to see this movie no matter what! What about you? You plan on going?
James: Does the Black Panther wear a trench coat like my boy M.A.N.T.I.S.?
Chas: Uh nope. He does wear a bullet proof costume though. He could have used that in any issue he appeared in my stack of my 1970's Avengers comics.
James: If he doesn't wear a trench coat even for five minutes, I'm out. White folks need to give Black superheroes some class man.
Chas: You know how much social media is going to blow up on February 16, the release date. You wouldn't watch it because heâs not wearing a trench coat........
James: Think about it. I've heard righteous brothers said they don't plan on seeing the movie because A) he was created by a white man and b) the Panther doesn't wear a trench coat.
Chas: I can see why folks wouldn't go to see the film. They have their reasons, but they should let us decide for ourselves whether or not it's worth it. They do understand that Virgil Tibbs (The Heat of the Night), Shaft and Hawk were all created from the minds of white men right? John Ball, Ernest Tidyman and Robert B. Parker. Even M.A.N.T.I.S. was created by Sam Raimi who directed the Evil Dead and Spider Man movies.
James: That dude? He's the one who thought up our boy?
Chas: Yep, and I didn't hear from the righteous crowd from the 1960's to 1990's telling us to boycott those television shows and movies. But hey, maybe one day I'll create my own iconic character so if he or she ever makes it to film, there won't be an excuse not to come out and support.
James: You know there are going those people who say we shouldn't watch it. I'm still on the fence because.....
Chas: The trench coat thang, yeah I got you on that.
James: Seriously though, I saw on the movie poster that the movie is going to be written and directed by a Black man. I have no problem with that. My problem is that when they change things around after the movie or TV show is out.
Chas: If I see it, I would like to see the changes later writers like Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin and the late, great Dwayne McDuffie contributed to T'Challa (the Black Panther's real name) back in the early 2000's long before there was a movie. These creative bruthas gave him an upgrade and new motivations to his character. If I plan on seeing the movie, it's because of those writers. I follow them and they do great work.
James: I second that my brutha, but still.....they should have given him a trench coat! That would have been a sweet upgrade!
Chas: I think Marvel should be careful when trying to sneak in an agenda that not everyone is ready for, if ever. It should be all about the characters, nuff said. If there's some political strife that threatens to tear Wakanda apart, write about it.
James: Yeah, I caught a snippet that Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing his stories now. For his sake, he better give the Panther a trench coat or I'll be mad!
Chas: Chill with the trench coat nonsense man! LOL. Whether it's Don McGregor or Coates, all we ask for is for great character development, challenging plots and action! Lots of it! I can't get enough action! Marvel left that back in the early 2000's and that was their bread and butter back in the day!
James: You mean Stan Lee was getting all the bread from the books he wrote and the butter? Anyone not named Stan Lee.
Chas: It's only a month left, but do you plan on seeing Black Panther?
James: Still on the fence. I know there's a ton of great actors in it, but there are some things I need to check out for myself before I decide to give the Mouse my money. I hope it's not another M.A.N.T.I.S. or it's like Shaft. You know it was twenty-seven years before the so-called 'powers that be' filmed another Shaft movie. When they did, it was WEAK!
Chas: Wesley Snipes, the candidate for that role made it plain why he wasn't involved. It's on the internet.
James: At least Carl Lumbly, our boy on M.A.N.T.I.S. found some work.
Chas: Yeah, 'Alias' was a good spot for him. That is until we hear some 'behind the scenes' commentary on YouTube.
James: Tru that. About that time C, we'll find out in a month. Black Panther fans, keep calling and email Marvel to insist he wears a trench coat in the movie in memory of M.A.N.T.I.S!
Chas: You're too much James. Hope it's not another thirteen years before we have another conversation. Chas out!
Charles L. Chatmon
Who played the part of 'Chas'
I'm teasing the peeps I know on social media that 'instead of claiming 2018, just go ahead and take care of business'. I didn't exactly say those exact words, but doesn't it just puzzle you that folks online will make these declarations only to find themselves making the same declarations the following year? For example:
'It's 2016. I'm going to claim this year as my own. I'm going to speak it into existence.'
'It's 2017. I'm going to claim this year as my own. I'm going to speak it into existence.'
'It's 2018. I'm going to claim this year as my own. I'm going to speak it into existence.'
'It's 2019. I'm going to claim this year as my own. I'm going to speak it into existence.'
It's 2020. I'm going to claim this year as my own. I'm going to speak it into existence.'
And so on, and so on........
I'm finding out that instead of establishing a big goal or task early in the new year, it's best to accomplish it piece by piece. Attempting to go for the 'home run' is a surefire way to discourage you and cause you to consider putting it off until 'tomorrow' which we know may never come.
Yes, this may be your year but take it easy. As it is said, 'slow and easy wins the race' and it will help take care of your plans for 2018.
Good luck in making this new year yours! Make it the best for yourself and others!
Here's the easy way to be a writer for the 18:
Turn off all distractions (that means you too social media and internet)
Take a minute to think about what youâre going to write about
Focus, concentrate and write!
Just like that, youâre finished! On to the next project!
If writing was only this easy, there would be no problem with producing the work (smile).
For those of you just tuning in.......
2018 has already started to be a year of hard choices and challenges. I should act as if I should care, but I really don't. Whatever is going to happen will and whatever doesn't, nothing to get excited about. It is all about the Storm, though.....
Let's get to the main event; The Story of Shontell. This is a poem that is part of Storm over South Central, the anthology coming out this year. I'd like to share more of Shontell's story and why it's important for her tale to come out. You may state a Black man has no business writing about a young Black girl, but as a teacher who has met many Shontells over the years; this is very much my business.
As a 'conscious' writer or as someone who writes about South (Central) Los Angeles, I must be honest and present the positive as well as the negative of what goes on in the neighborhood. In 2003 when The Voices of South Central was published, much of the poems I wrote about were a reflection of what Iâve seen, heard and experienced as a teacher, a volunteer counselor for my local YMCA, a resident of the community. So I know of what I write about here.
There is a Shontell in each of our lives. She's faced so-called 'directionless dudes' who left her nothing but a bloated belly and a newborn in their wake. The reality of writing 'conscious' poetry is to touch on the subjects we'd rather not discuss or talk about. To keep them private as we celebrate Black Girls Rock and Black Girl Magic. Shontell may eventually have her day in the sun but as the poem will show, that day is a far off. We men have to be more disciplined when approaching a young woman like Shontell and display our gentleman-like qualities to them or better yet, practice before you approach.
Women want a real man, and when they say that from their lips, they want a man young or old, to have a depth of knowledge, able to speak clearly and concisely about what's on our minds, to prove our passions aren't restricted in our pants but rather what do we have to advance ourselves and hopefully a woman who takes a chance to build a life with us. It's no mistake Black women are in the media doing big things now. It's not because we Black men have failed, but there haven't been many of us who tried and succeeded past the street-like attitude we're content to remain in, our social quicksand, so to speak.
Of course, we Black men have heard this before along with the criticisms that devalue our worth in this society. This isn't to place the blame squarely on those directionless dudes, but to acknowledge Shontell is in the predicament she's in merely on her choices with the men she's fooled around with. You and I make choices that affect our lives believe it or not. Whether or not we stand our ground or run away from those decisions depends on each of us. Shontell made her decision in the poem as you will find out. It is a life choice many of us rich or poor, Black, brown or white either has made or will make. The Story of Shontell is a poem that I hope book clubs, schools, libraries and readers will give great pause and consideration for discussion. It's time we deal with the Shontells in our lives. Not to learn or criticize their example, but to take the time out and show them how much we love them without prejudice, to be by their side if help is needed.
Advice to conscious writers in this new year:
Not every issue is worth a response. There are issues which on the surface look important but clearly not worth your effort for a rebuttal. Besides, since this matrix of the internet is full of opinions and vastly devoid of facts, it helps to cite resources to help with your argument.
Make sure your argument is valid with facts. Should you decide to respond to an Issue of the Day, be certain to do enough research to prove your argument. Facts, not speculation or pure emotion will assist you. Take your time and dig, dig, dig for proof your argument stands up against the foolishness of 'writers' who insist their point of view is just because.......
Research is the key; your feelings in defending your topic are moot.
Beware of the Click Bait. Do you know why certain articles exist on the internet? Their purpose is to drive like-minded readers to a website, blog or social media outlet to build on their audience. Whether the subject is toxic masculinity, gender bending or swirling tales, the rights of a particular gender or class of people, there is a chance you may want to respond with an opposing view. As written in the first piece of advice: not every issue is worth a response. These click-bait articles are merely a trap to ensnare your mind into getting into a needless argument with the writer of said piece who merely writes out of opinion, rather than fact. If youâre not interested in what the writer has to say, just click that 'X' or delete the link from your sight.
The Matrix of the Internet is full of opinion, short on tact. Let's say I wrote a piece that challenges your belief system of any one of many subjects related to that belief. You respond to me and I challenge you by calling you the most vile piece of !@#$%^&*()_+ in the world and I hope your mother dies. Does that look like a steady, cool-headed, thought-provoking writer or just someone having a bad day or night? Everywhere on the internet, even this blog, offers an opinion or two and the writers of these sites work hard to establish their agenda. Your rebuttal to their issue is considered to be an affront to that agenda so they will attack you with foul language and vicious words just because they're 'right' and you're an 'idiot'.
2018 like all past years is full of examples like these. Your responsibility as a conscious writer is to present your argument in such a way that it makes perfect sense that even the nastiest troll or opinionated writer has no choice to agree. You should not feel drawn into their argument or agenda; make sure they're drawn into yours. Conscious writers should make sense out of the nonsensical, even on the internet where there's nonsense aplenty.
Make this a 'conscious' year. Write, respond, and act as if you are.