Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
It’s been a while since the last entry and I wanted to give you an update on what’s been going on so far.
No major news, just taking time off the blog, working and keeping middle and high school students in line (smile). Moves are being made to speed up the publication of #StormOverSC, aka Storm Over South Central, the latest book coming out in 2017. I will have other e-books and print books planned for the future so you should expect them coming soon.
I should have Storm on the website within the next month, just in time for holiday pre-orders and snippets to share. If not, then it will be on the site eventually. I’m learning that things go at their own pace, and this project is one of them.
Meanwhile, let me share a picture of my usual day after work. This is me driving from one school (In my civilian life, I’m a substitute teacher, pray for me) and the ‘mean’ face stays constant after a long and hot day. Hopefully the temperature won't be as hot for the weekend.
Until the next time, enjoy yourselves and more news to come, along with more Thoughts.
(Keep in touch with me on social media. Links to the right ---------->)
Ten years ago this day, I accepted the position of becoming executive director of the L.A. Black Book Expo. I accepted based on the fact I didn’t want the event to ‘fade away’. I can say the experience was worth it as I met a lot of authors, plus a few people I’d never thought I would know personally. I’m also proud of the fact we did our best to encourage literacy in the city of Los Angeles, as well as exposing the public to new, up-and-coming authors who deserved the spotlight.
As for the problems that ensued along the way? They’re going to happen every time you run an expo or festival of some kind, and we had our share. I can say that everyone who volunteered (because it was mostly run by volunteers) put their heart, soul and resources into LABBX (LABBE) and their efforts were and still are, very much appreciated. I can’t say enough how much they worked for this cause, even though the process was less than smooth at times.
If I had the chance to do it all again, I would have not been as ambitious and made LABBE a smaller event than let’s say, another competing festival in the city. That said, it’s still all good and even though it’s been ten years since I accepted the position, I can say is that it was a worthwhile task, one that had to end in order for me to move forward as a writer. If it makes a return in whatever form it chooses, I only wish the organizers of the new LABBX much success and love as they continue to keep literacy alive in L.A.
Charles L. Chatmon
Former Executive Director
L.A. Black Book Expo (2006-2014)
Maybe this will attract a few supporters of this idea, but I have trouble following it.
My alma mater, Cal-State L.A. is offering ‘segregated housing’ to black students which the Black Student Union and the school president agreed upon. If you’re into ‘investigating’ this matter, the link from our local ABC affiliate is posted above detailing the topic of this day.
The conservative blogs and websites such as Breitbart had a field day with this issue, which is unfortunate. What’s even more unfortunate is the question why is this needed? Alumni such as I experienced racism in subtle forms while on campus. Trust me, after I was chewed out by a tenured professor or asked if I was a ‘gang kid’ in class, I had no ‘safe zones’ to retreat to except….the Black Student Union. To create another venue for students to connect takes away the very reason to have a BSU in my opinion. I will say I had no problems, no hesitations with the University Times when I submitted my two articles, “Life Goes On in South Central L.A.” and “Welcome to 1990”. You can find them in the Books section of my website to your right.
I will also say that as the only black student in a few of my English classes, I understand the awkwardness, the many eyes watching you to see how you ‘measure up’. This occurred during the Reagan-Bush years on campus where times were vastly different than they were today, but the thoughts were still the same. Oh, I wish I can share some stories with you but perhaps one day, I shall………
While it would be predictable to say, “I don’t see the reason for this”, I’m trying to see the view of the students. College as an institution with people from different backgrounds and ethnic groups is a challenge. There’s a reason why a BSU is needed, although folks who oppose the idea may see it differently. Life does not have a series of ‘safe zones’ to seclude yourself from, even as my own experience would indicate. The black students at CSULA were all very close with each other and it was during that time in the 1990’s where the Black Consciousness movement was very strong in movies, music, television and magazines. The early 2000’s has not translated into that same consciousness as it has been hijacked by the Progressive crowd who believes in the creation of safe zones and other thoughts and ideas they propose.
Tell you what; I will go on record in saying that this is not a good idea and just gives the Powers That Be an opportunity not only to mock, but celebrate segregation as a ‘positive’ thing. (this view is shared by the not-so Powers That Be as well). I will hope that students who feel as if their voices aren’t being heard or a need to band together should get involved with their BSU’s and work to create something which will give their voices more weight in conversations on and off campus. If one current student at CSULA(or anyone else) wants to offer an opinion, they have the right to do so in the comments section. I’m curious to know if this is a good idea or not from their own words.
Until then, I await your responses.
Charles L. Chatmon
English (BA) ’95 CSULA
The one thing about social media – is that everyone must have an opinion about something. Our multi-platforms are designed so that folks such as you and I can ‘chime’ in and express our displeasure or comment about a certain topic of the day. Allow me to humbly tell you boys and girls out there who use these services and/or created a ‘brand’ because of your constant presence on them…it doesn’t matter.
Face it, we’re living in a pop-culture driven society which means we 'believe' we are given the right to present a cause, start a ‘movement’, or be outraged over a story that offends our sensibilities. Even a candidate for president can type out a hastily, ill-advised ‘tweet’ and it becomes newsworthy. Besides the antics of one Donald Trump, you and I don’t have that much clout to sway the masses to what's going on our Twitter feeds or Facebook posts as Mr. Trump. I’m an ordinary writer, a scribe aiming to push a book I’m working on at the moment. Reader, you may be at your desk passing the time on your job, taking a look on your computer screen to see what’s ‘newsworthy’ with our pop-culture icons. When you and I post or tweet online about a 'hot topic', it doesn’t matter.
For example, we may be outraged or supportive of what Colin Kaepernick the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, has done by taking a stand for not rising during the National Anthem before games. Online, we have shown our anger, shared pictures or videos of former fans or current Niner fans burning his jersey, even taken time on our personal blogs to say a word or two about his stance.
Even then, it doesn’t matter what we say.
I find myself after absorbing story after story asking, “Who am I to share my views on this topic? What does it matter whether or not I agree with his stance/those two people getting married/this new social movement?” I’m only one of seven billion people on this crowded planet who has an opinion and a viewpoint that most will agree or will not agree with. I believe social media is a medium which depending on who controls it, tries to push as many of us as it can to their way of thinking, adhering to their philosophies. It’s where free will runs free to say what we want without consequence, or until a potential employer refuses to hire us due to an unfortunate comment posted on our timelines.
What does it matter what I have to say?
Our need to express ourselves comes from the fundamental need to say something, anything to share what’s on our minds. Police brutality, pollution, better wages and wars in other countries provoke conversation, thought, and the need to say what’s on our hearts about said topic. While it doesn’t matter in the long run as posts and tweets remain on our timelines without the responses we anticipated, it is the basic human need to ‘be heard’. As long as we have our social media, the same voices who have built networks, brands, gathering followers along the way are the ones who will always have something to say. You and I, who add a comment once in a while or perhaps a string at a time……won’t change anything much at all.
This is the perfect old school response to the 'talking heads' on social media today. From the superstar Twitter 'users' to the blog fanatics, this message from Run DMC.
It's all yours gentlemen..........