Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
Yesterday I witnessed one of the most courageous yet heartfelt testimonies from a young woman who lives near Watts and attends one of their high schools there. It was a confession from the heart that hours later, still affects me in a difficult way.
To be fair, her testimony resulted in an exercise from a drama teacher at the school who needed volunteers to participate in an exercise that would allow them to drop their guards and become vulnerable. The young woman was one of the four who stood up in front of the class and faced a partner. The instructor directed the volunteers to focus their thoughts to someone who ‘messed them up’. The volunteers stood in a shroud of darkness, still reflecting on the person who caused them the most pain in their lives. The young woman said she wouldn’t be able to finish, and decided to back out. Once the exercise was completed, her partner, a young man burst into tears as the result of her energy pouring onto him. She didn’t say anything yet, but her energy was enough to make the young man cry. Although it’s been used as a joke for the movie Two Can Play That Game, I believe this was an example of energy transference – which the characters of the film mentioned:
What's the law of thermodynamic energy by Newton?
-Energy is neither lost nor destroyed. -I remember.
It is transferred from one party to the next.
So when you see it up close in person, you know it’s far from a joke or plot point in a movie.
In the next go around, the young woman had her chance to speak and when she did, the room fell silent and I would say, the mood changed dramatically. The author of this piece is going to respect the young woman’s privacy and simply say she revealed a lot, quite a bit that one of the characters in a future poem (in the next book) can relate to. What can be said is the betrayal of a young man’s trust, his duty as a man and his love emitted a painful reaction and a very honest one from her. The drama teacher probably didn’t expect this except her emotional confession elicited a reaction best used in art, whether in acting, writing or any mode of expression. As a method of base humanity, the young woman’s energy was more than enough to make us hear her words of pain and feel them.
I greatly applaud the young woman’s courage. It is never easy to share your personal pain at any age, including when you’re in high school. This world has a tendency to overlook our young people, even in our so-called ‘urban’ areas. We get caught up in hashtags, slogans, political agendas where advocates wind up on a social media site as a form of popularity contest that we often omit our young people live in a world of actual heartbreak, social problems that existed long before the creation of the internet and still live under them today; add the fact their skin colors are black and brown provides another challenge for them to overcome.
Yesterday, a young woman bared her soul and without knowing each of us in a classroom became more mature learning from her. Her tears were not in vain. I pray there will come a time every young woman with the same story finds the courage within to move forward and discover their lives are not over from a few bad experiences but that they will learn from them and grow.
Tabloid TV, has it gone too far?
Maybe in 1988, it might. In 2015, the results are clear: everything’s tabloid!
Here is a discussion on the matter in an old clip of Nightline with Ted Koppel, Morton Downey Jr, and media critic for the Baltimore Sun, Bill Carter. Please enjoy informative journalism at its best instead of the tabloid, sensationalism crap we have today.
Last school year, I confronted a student who I felt was disruptive to the class. After I had a discussion which resulted in me calling out his behavior, I felt bad and asked him how was he feeling. Apparently, that set him off. He retorted loudly by saying my question bordered on the effeminate side and he followed it up with a derogatory word. Through that rage, that anger in his words, I understood what the young man meant. He took what I meant the wrong way (since I’m sure another adult would have probably asked the same thing), but I ‘got’ what the young man was saying to me, even if it was meant to be personal. (which I didn’t care) He felt his manhood was challenged, and a response was needed. Message received, loud and clear.
These are very interesting times we live in. Up to a couple of decades ago, Black manhood was equated with the thug life, a lifestyle of being up front about their feelings, saying what’s on their mind, being ‘real’. It also meant identifying close with our cultural identity maintaining a tradition of what a man is supposed to be. It’s no secret these ‘soldiers’ were attractive to the opposite sex, as they were bold, outspoken and ready to prove they were every part of the man as the world saw them to be.
It didn’t happen overnight, but slowly the aspect of manhood eroded. In the world of hip-hop, the strongest voices began to fade away either by death or some other means. The Down Low became a phenomenon that eventually found its way into mainstream media by way of bestselling books and conversation fodder for talk shows. At this moment in time, the act of manhood has changed, been challenged and turned upside down by activists promoting a alternative to masculinity, which has found its way onto the mainstream with no signs of stopping. I can see why the young man was furiously upset.
I would wager this young man, who I believe is not a bad kid or knucklehead; felt as if he needed to protect his manhood in a world that increasingly has become more progressive and ever-changing. It’s been tough for the author of this piece to see how our American society has been transformed in the past decade. We’re dealing in a ‘new world’ of shifting attitudes and social mores. We hear keywords such as ‘constructs’ without realizing they are nothing but roles men and women have played since the beginning of time. We see that freedom to offer a different, albeit, opposing opinion does not exist unless one risks the wrath of social media users across the internet. Yes, I understood the young man’s anger and I sympathized with him because I realized had I grown up in this time instead of the Reagan era, I might have unleashed my anger as well, without the derogatory word.
I have not returned to that school since our confrontation, so I cannot say if the young man has a change of attitude or opinion since then. Why should he? It’s his life and obviously he felt an affront on his manhood several months ago. It’s safe to assume he probably has the same thoughts and ideas of what manhood means to him. It is my wish he makes the right choices in life and uses the power of his free will like a man. It is the author’s sincere hope he truly understands manhood isn’t about shouting down anyone with an alternative sexual preference. It means so much more than that.
The unthinkable happened; Amazon, the online juggernaut which started out as a bookstore, opened their doors in their new brick-and-mortar store. Yes, you read that right: Amazon opened a brick-and-mortar store. It’s hard to believe, impossible to digest but this actually happened. Known for their overwhelming consumer power online, the retail giant has now occupied space in University Village in Seattle. Perhaps this quote from BuzzFeed sums up how indie bookstores feel about Amazon’s recent acquisition: “Amazon just convinced us to divorce our wife then married her.”
Now doesn’t this make for a delicious dish of irony? Amazon, which caused so many indie bookstores to close their doors because of their notoriously low prices, free shipping and convenience at the click of a button, now finds themselves selling physical books to customers in an actual bookstore! Of course, it wasn’t long before the indie bookstores had a little fun with them. For one, Paul Constant of the Seattle Review of Books offered a challenge to anyone who would ‘showcase’ one of Amazon’s books and then buy it from an indie bookstore. Allison Stieger answered the call by finding the book at the Amazon store, but buying it at Queen Anne Books, a local bookstore. Take that Big A! This has been a method Amazon has used to their advantage, so it was nice to see the tables being turned for once.
Who knows how long Amazon’s physical store will stay in service. A year? A month? A week? It doesn’t look to be a ‘pop up’ store, where businesses set up in vacant retail space for a short amount of time. They’re in it for the long haul, it seems. With that, you would think the other brick-and-mortar bookstore, Barnes and Noble, would feel threatened by this move, right? It’s not enough that Amazon’s new store is located in a mall where they used to be (link at bottom), but now with 647 stores and counting, BN’s latest weapon against its ruthless competitor seems to be – coloring books.
This revelation comes to you courtesy of Adweek.com:
But Barnes & Noble does have one obvious advantage that dot-com competitors don’t, and that’s spacious, comfortable stores—647 of them at last count—stores that the chain has gotten extremely good at turning into event spaces, most often for book signings with bestselling authors or celebrities hawking their latest tell-all tomes. But on Nov. 14, Barnes & Noble will be staging its most colorful event yet: All of its stores are inviting adults to come in, sit down and color.
Yes, as in crayons, pencils, markers and coloring books. Between noon and 5 p.m., anyone can wander in and regress to an activity lost to childhood. The company is calling it the All-American Art Unwind.
Barnes and Noble will encourage attendees to submit their drawings to Instagram or Twitter for submission to “a huge mosaic that a computer program will create from thousands of expected submissions.” The bookstore is gambling the experience will bring more interactivity that will be the hook for supporters to keep coming back – one they hope will keep their stores open for the long run. It would be easy to knock this, it really would. However, one wonders if Amazon will expand from the one store in Seattle to across the nation. If and when that happens, Barnes and Noble might be in serious trouble.
Amazon is Corporate America personified. The irony is that while they’ve encouraged self-published authors to have more of a say in their written works, the outlets like indie bookstores and their closest competitor Barnes and Noble have suffered. How long will it be before Amazon dominates the entire literary market and completely guides the destinies of many authors in the field? Time will tell if Amazon Books is a passing fancy, or the beginning of the end.
The Seattle Review of Books – Independent bookstore fan showrooms Amazon Books
BuzzFeed: Here’s Why People Are Upset At Amazon’s New Seattle Bookstore
Amazon is opening its first bookstore today—in a mall where a giant Barnes & Noble used to be
Note: here's another old poem that I hope you enjoy.
on the bus I ride
over near the window
on left hand side
scripting on white paper
scribbling with blue pen
recording my daily thoughts
I think about melodies
of the songs of my life
being young, single
without children, wife
I think of friends
on whom I`ve passed by
to those I said "hello"
and the ones I`ve told goodbye
I close my eyes
head back,gently at rest
the days have been good to me
even when they weren`t the best
so off I go on my way back home
pausing for a brief moment
on the bus
Copyright (C) Charles L. Chatmon