Suppression vs. Expansion (it’s not the economy it’s your voting rights… STUPID)

I have been silent for two months, because I needed to shut up and observe.  I needed to take as much information in as possible from as many sources as possible.  Politics does and has always fascinated me, so much so I changed my major from journalism to political science as a sophomore at Indiana University.  There is nothing comfortable about politics so there is nothing comfortable about political debate.  You do not have to run for office, have a primetime slot on FOX News or MSNBC, or have a blog to feel heat for your opinions, you just share them.

As much as race, gender, workers’ rights, health care, and a host of other social issues will decide the vote for people on November 6, 2012 nothing will decide who is elected to countless offices in this country more than voter suppression or expansion.  Simply put in this country, considering current social agendas, the more voters that show up the more likely it is liberals/progressives grab control.  The party most in touch with the concerns of the ‘common man’ tends to win if they can get more common people out to the polls.  This has been true since Reconstruction, when the Republican Party was considered to be a better representative of the concerns of those most in need of government support to find access to the American dream.  This did not guarantee that those elected would put into place the programs and services wanted by their constituents but it did mean a measure of safety from those seeking to move in a different direction.

PB+D>C

When considering what to expect this November nationally and locally remember that equation.  P is probability, B is benefit, D is civic duty, and C is time.  The battle of voter suppression vs. expansion is simply time, how much time it will take for an individual to not only vote but to register to vote.  The probability that a person’s vote will effect an election combined with their belief that the person they vote for will carry themselves in a way that will benefit them plus how committed an individual voter is not only to their voting rights, but their social and political beliefs, must outweigh the amount of time any individual voter is willing to give to register to vote and then vote… for them to vote.

Time, political strategists figured out a long time ago the longer it takes for someone to vote the more restrictive the process becomes and the less those that feel disenfranchised are likely to take the steps necessary to become registered voters.  Every voting act since the end of slavery was attacks on the time of those that can least afford to give time.  Jim Crow laws to prevent Blacks in the South were attacks on time.  To pay a poll tax would mean putting in countless of hours to earn the money needed to pay your tax and still provide for your family, literacy tests would require time to catch a person up to the educational level needed to answer the questions.  Yes both could be reached and some Blacks did work hard to meet both of those requirements but the sacrifice was time.

More recently some counties and states have moved to purge the voting rights of many.  Example being the States of Georgia and Michigan removing the rights of registered voters based on foreclosure lists and/or returned mail as proof an individual may not live in the county or state that registered.  Time again is the tool being used, if you are still a resident of that county and state you now have to take time to prove you live where you say you live.  When your residency is challenged it is challenged on every level; you must prove your citizenship, you must prove your identity, you must prove your residency, and you must prove you did not commit fraud.  If you no longer live in the county or state where you were born it can take up to 12 weeks in some cases to receive your birth certificate.  If you need identification you may need your birth certificate… you get the idea.  A lot of time, of course many will argue that the right to vote is worth your time and add-on to those arguments that many people who do not vote have plenty of FREE time.  No matter what your economic status, nobody has free time.

Ironically those that would seem to have the least amount of time are actually those that can make time to prove their right to vote or challenge any questions about their rights.  Those that do not feel the need for government ‘safe guards’ usually can take time off from work, paid time or just leave the office for however long it takes to get the necessary documentation required to register to vote.  Again, time is not free, when I need to take time off of work there are benefits in place for me to receive my pay for that time I am missing from work.  An hourly employee, someone making minimum wage, a single parent that needs to pick their kids up from school, may not have the time to prove that as an American citizen they have the right to vote.

In the 2008 November election the states of Georgia and Ohio attacked time… specifically time.  Making registered voters wait between 2 to 10 hours to vote.  In Franklin County, Ohio the Attorney General had to order polls to stay open longer to allow voters that wanted to vote, the time and the opportunity to vote.  In the 2010 Maryland election for governor a campaign manager for Republican candidate Bob Ehrlich ordered calls to phone numbers of people considered to be most likely African-American, on Election Day.  Those calls were made to seem as if they were coming from Democratic Party officials’ informing them the election was an obvious land slide, nothing else to do but stay home and wait for the results, in other words “don’t waste your time voting”.  This campaign manager was convicted for his actions, but it was revealed that the chief strategy considered for this campaign was voter suppression.

These are games played by both parties; Democrats usually work by redistricting which is also done by Republicans.  Though I believe if you have earned the votes to make those moves, you can.  I may not like it or agree with it, but if it is in the rules than those challenging you will have to fight harder and do a better job of organizing to stop you.  Usually these fights are decided in the courts and if gerrymandering is discovered than those plans cannot move forward, that is what a ‘safe guard’ really is about.  Time, how much time do you have to make a statement.  How much time is worth for you to give to make sure your voice is heard?

PB+D is not always greater than C

Happy Black History Month!! Today We Salute… BET

Today we celebrate BET and their inspirational programming… hold on, I threw up on my keyboard a little.  Let me wipe it clean, ;lkhjuyjikol;.,lmkjnbhujik

Okay, back to Black Entertainment Television, nice name.  Not an accurate name, but nice, there is nothing entertaining about it and what they consider Black borders on slightly embarrassing and a waste of talent.  I would rather see Malcolm Jamal-Warner selling oranges on the side of an expressway than watch him rot away on one more episode of Reed Between the Lines.  Only BET could take a good concept for a sitcom featuring a Black family and remove the humor and soul from it.  Some things should be left to ABC or CBS… only if they were interested in Black talent.  Sadly, you are our only hope for uplifting programming that features people who look like us.

To your credit BET, you have worked hard to avoid any drama you use to constantly associate yourself with and that can be called… progress?  Instead of being a ‘music video’ network, you decided to focus on actual programming, poorly, but you focused on it anyway.  Today on BET is mostly reruns of decent Black comedies, hood movies, and on Sundays 4 to 6 hours of Chit’lin circuit plays featuring talented Black actors dying slowly in front of our eyes.  Gone are 17 hours of videos, with one hour of ‘Black news’, followed by an hour of bad comedy, to be topped off with an hour of ‘mature’ music videos meant for adults but kids watched all the time… 3 hours of infomercials a half an hour of Joyce Meyers and Joel Osteen ministries each and back to videos.  I miss the days when the only advertisements you had were that “Rough Side of the Mountain” Gospel compilation “WHO IN THE HELL LEFT THE GATE OPEN” and the classic “Hey Love” compilation that featured 3 Black couple belly rubbing in a living room listening to an actual record (no 3 Black couples actually did that)… “Hey man you got to let me borrow that?”, say it with me people…  “NO MY BROTHER!  YOU GOT TO GET YOUR OWN”.

How we miss the days of The Mayor of Rap City, pushing the envelope and providing a space for the voiceless to have their say.  We think we miss when you were introducing artists, comics, and covering events that were impacting our community.  We think we miss these things, but as the network that ‘represents’ what is good in our community if you are not showing it to us, we must not really miss it.  Who are we to crave substance and credibility?  You keep telling us what we must like.

You are an equal opportunity employer as well; you will make anyone famous, even if they do not have talent.  After joining Def Comedy Jam to introduce great comics to us.  When Russell Simmons realized that the talent was running thin on good Black comics, they shut down production where as you let every hack in the world fly out to any place you were filming gave them five minutes and paid them nothing for their efforts.  Even repeatedly airing their material and not offering them one cent in residuals, nice.  Your pimp game is strong!  It took white comics like Jerry Seinfeld to ask for comics to boycott your shows until you paid your comics fairly.  When you finally agreed to pay at ‘scale’ you finally went the Def Jam route and shut down.  Although, you claim to have made more Black people millionaires… outside of the NBA.  It is always nice to see Black people play into a stereotype, now that’s progress!

We must give you credit for the one thing you do well, the BET Awards.  You do know an awards show is not about the awards but about the music and the performances.  Unfortunately, you let untalented people walk onto your stage and treat them like they are selling records like Prince in 1983.  You are like Jesse Jackson, supposedly our voice but nobody remembers selecting you to speak for us.  We have come to accept that you will reward those that limit our culture, you are not Fox News you have never claimed to be fair and balanced.  August Wilson, arguably one of the greatest play writes Black or White of the 20th Century, passed away without a blip from you.  Even though his plays launched the careers of many of our finest actors, including Denzel Washington, but if Tyler Perry died we know you will shut down what you call programming all week-long in memory of great American writer/director/activist… I am sorry, I threw up on my keyboard again.  A lot this time, let me wipe this off again, ‘[;phyjumgtfbvnhjmhjmhjmhjmhjmhjmhjmhjmhjmbjuki9867yugtbhjnuikmo897yuhjni9 043oilk-09.  Sorry about that.

Only you BET can present a show saying how much Black women rock right after airing 3 hours of videos where women walk around in G-strings, bouncing up and down around rappers lip-synching songs talking about how much they do not respect them. We all love that you tell our young men they can be more than rappers & felons then make Lil Wayne’s release from jail “breaking news”. Thanks BET for… All you do?  Oh Lord… I threw up again!!!  P’7yukjiop-0897uiljko09iojfhyupio6y89iojp0899709uiogjpu089yioj  Actually that is really symbolic… BET has been throwing up vomit on our community for over 15 years now.  Happy Black History Month BET!  Are you guys doing anything special for it this year?

Happy Black History Month!!! Today We Salute… C.P. Time

My bad for posting so late, I got caught up… Thanks for holding me down.  Since I am late in putting this together let’s just go ahead and salute something found in every situation involving more than 4 Black people… Colored People Time (CPT)!  If you have to be some place on time, I hope you are not depending on Black people to help you get there.  If you do find yourself in a situation where the meeting starts in 15 minutes and the Black person you are riding with has noticed the bakery you are passing just opened and there isn’t a line, start getting your lie together.  That’s even if it is that simple as realizing you are going to be late.

Most CPT’ers cannot put a finger on why they are always late.  They eventually get to a point where their tardiness is their excuse for being tardy:

“Come on let’s get to the meeting”

“I ain’t in no rush.  They know I’m always late”

True, people have come to expect the CPT’er to arrive late, pushing anything that needs to be discussed with them present to the back of the agenda.  CPT’ers cannot tell you exactly why they are late, they leave on time.  They stopped to get gas, an Egg McMuffin, and a card for everyone to sign for the boss’ birthday.  That is not enough to make them real late.  The 10 minutes they spent checking their lottery numbers at the gas station, the 3 minutes it took for the attendant to check those numbers again, and the additional 5 minutes it took for them to get today’s numbers (no quick picks for a CPT’er) all before they got to the 10 second transaction of “20 dollars on pump 7” never factors in to their thought process.

The 4 minutes they spent staring at the McDonald’s menu, trying to figure out what to order, after spending 10 minutes in line complaining about ‘how can someone get to the front of the line and not know what they want’?  Only to order the same Egg McMuffin the CPT’er orders every day, add to the situation that this is a CPT’er we are talking about which means they stopped at a Black owned and operated McDonalds where the ‘fast’ in fast food in considered something to aspire to, not something to be applied today.  So add another five minutes to the standard 3 minute Micky D’s wait time.

Picking up the birthday card from the pharmacy was the easy part, walked right in, grabbed the first card in the birthday section that made reference to ‘Our Boss’ and the CPT’er made their way to check-out.  Oh, the magazines are here, and the new Jet Magazine is out.  If it is a woman CPT’er, they have to read that article about how Toni Braxton or LisaRaye overcame something, if the CPT’er is a brotha straight to the Jet Beauty of the Week, a check of the Top Singles and Albums, and one more good look at the Beauty of the Week.  By the time they arrive to work, the ‘birthday breakfast’ for their boss is about over and everyone had to awkwardly step out to sign the card without the big guy seeing them do so.  What is usually 30 minutes of errands for most people before work, the CPT’er turns into an hour and 47 minutes of randomness and a written warning from HR.

Let’s take some time to recognize some famous CPT’ers:

Dr. Dre: Made his fans wait 7 years for the follow-up to The Chronic and is currently putting those same fans through a 13 year wait for his ‘final’ CD Detox.  It now takes Dr. Dre so long to complete projects that beats he has made for Detox just end up on the albums of people signed to his label, if they stay.  Contracts of some of his artists expire before he gets around to working with them. Last year he finally released a song that is listed as being from his upcoming Detox CD called “We Need A Doctor”… as in, “We need a doctor, to hurry the fuck up and release his album”.  Ironically, Dr. Dre is from Compton, California a city also known as the ‘C.P.T.’, can’t make this shit up folks.

Halle Berry:  Made brothers wait 13 years into her acting career before she showed us a titty.  Then she couldn’t stop showing her titties.  Most amazing thing is (other than her titties, honestly very nice.  I don’t know how they are holding up post babies), once she started showing the C-cups to us she won an Academy Award.  So she made herself wait too… she could have popped a titty out back in 1998 in Bullworth with Warren Beatty and saved herself the shame of begging Billy Bob Thornton to make her feel good.

The Black community’s recognition of their own economic power:  Real talk, still waiting on this.  Hold tight, this should have been here by now.

Kobe Bryant: It took Kobe Bryant 5 years to realize what most basketball fans already knew, he is no Michael Jordan and needs a star center by his side for him to win titles.  It took 10 years, even though his daddy Joe “Jellybean” Bryant screamed it at him in 2002, for Kobe to realize he DID need a prenuptial agreement.

Black Entertainment Television:  In what is an absolute record for CPT’ers… 25 years!!! 25 years is how late BET was to getting to something.  It took 25 years for BET to arrive to the conclusion they didn’t give a fuck about reporting the news, even when the news meant something to Black people.  When every cable network carried Corretta Scott-King’s funeral, BET put its big black middle finger up, took a swig of Hennessy and aired 106th and Park again.  Bye Ed Gordan, Bye Tavis Smiley, Bye Jackie Reid (that one hurt me most of all), bye accountability to your community.  Hello butt naked hoes in rap videos!!!

Happy Black History Month!!! Today We Salute… 2 Dollars

2 dollars have helped more Black People get by than a police escort. You want to see a Black person at their best?  Give us two dollars and get the hell out our way!  Today you see on Yahoo, the Food Network, and other places “How to prepare dinners for your family on $10 dollars a day”.  For $10 a Black family can get through 2 weeks of dinners.  I have personally seen Black people (from my grandmother to people on the blocks I have lived) turn two bucks into a full meal with leftovers for the next couple days.  Bag of beans from the corner store for 75 cents, grab some salt pork for 30 cents, a small container of milk for 35 cents, and grab a bag of cheap caramel at 50 cents for dessert.  That’s $1.90 with room to spare for when the store decides it wants to charge tax today.

Some of you see the meal I am talking about and your mouth is watering now.  Those of you that are thinking “what kind of meal is that and what the fuck is ‘salt pork’?” are about to get a lesson in ‘making it work’.  Salt pork is just that pork cured in salt and it is very, very cheap it has also caused more heart attacks than shoveling snow and walking in your home finding your woman bent over and getting raw dogged by the deacon of your church.  Along with the salt it is loaded with fat, actually there is very little actual pork; it should probably be called ‘salt fat’.  As we all know, fat TASTE GOOD and when it sits in some boiling water with a nice amount of seasonings whatever you add to it taste like you should pay way more than 2 dollars.  Even if you have a six-figure salary in the Black community, you still find yourself eating a salt pork flavored meal a few times a year.  You’ll have a stroke one day, but if you are already left-handed what do you care.

Add the beans to the pot of salt pork, water, and seasonings and leave it alone.  With the small container of milk, you hook up some cornbread.  That’s if you have eggs.  If you do not have eggs and the corner store won’t let you buy just 1 egg (oh yeah in the hood, depending on who is working or how cute the store owner thinks you are you can buy just 1).  So what if you don’t have eggs, you are asking and don’t you need cornmeal?  A little secret about Black people, there are a few things you can find at every Black home, a bottle of hot sauce, cornmeal and a picture of Malcolm X next to Martin Luther King Jr. sitting with Jesus.  With no eggs, we do not buy the small container of milk and apply that change to buy the bigger piece of salt pork.  Then we make HOT-WATER CORNBREAD!!!  Heck we make hot-water when we get money.  It is exactly what it sounds like, hot water and cornmeal.  The hot water begins to cook the cornmeal when combined and then you put in a pan, fry it up like a pancake and tell everyone you know you are making hot-water cornbread because it means you are eating something tasty with it.

When dinner time hits, which is usually around 8 PM in a Black house (we don’t eat too early white people, if we have dinner at 5 or 6 it means we will be hungry again at 9, who has money for that!  We got two dollars to last us until our check comes and this meal needs to drag out at least one more day) the kids run in see a bowl of beans with little pieces of meat floating in a thick gravy like sauce with a side of HOT-WATER CORNBREAD!  When we find out mom bought us candy too, we don’t even get upset when we find out that the only thing she could afford for us to drink was one packet of ‘red’ Flava-Aid.  MMM… this is bringing back memories, PASS THE HOT SAUCE!  I bet you want some of this Malcolm and Martin.

It just isn’t a pot of beans that we can make happen… a cheap loaf of bread, a 99 cent pound of ground beef, some ketchup and mustard packets snatched up from the cafeteria (or from the last time you could afford White Castles) and now you have ‘Burger Night’ at the poor little Black family home.  If you live buy yourself, McDonald’s is your best friend if you only have to try to make it through the night.  Two McDoubles or McChicken with small fries, hold off eating it until you are really sleepy and you can fall off to sleep with a satisfied tummy and wake up to payday.

Man $2 dollars can be your best friend in hard times.  As Tupac said in “Dear Mama”:

Working with the scraps you were given’

This is a survival instinct that is just in us, it dates back to slavery.  We had to take what was not wanted and make something we enjoyed out of it.  Why do you think the intestines of a pig have turned into a holiday delicacy for our people?  You heard the saying ‘from the rooter to the tooter’?  Now it means ‘the whole thing’, but it started from Black people talking about the pig.  We would (and still do) eat everything on the pig from the ‘rooter’ (the snout) to the ‘tooter’ (the tail, yes the tail!  Walk into a corner store in a Black community and right next to the pickled eggs, there should be a big jar of pickled pig-tails and an assortment of other ‘pickled’ items… except actual pickles.  We like our pickles individually wrapped in plastic coming in an assortment of flavors and heat levels)… WE EAT THE WHOLE PIG!  If you eat hot dogs at a baseball game, so do you!

We have written songs about 2 dollars:

OH I LOVE THAT SONG!  I have been in many a bar on the South Side, drunk, at 2 o’clock in the morning (the only time that song can legally be played in Chicago, Detroit, and Mississippi) singing that song louder than the DJ could play it or the band could sing it.

Sadly, we have to pay a solemn tribute to a 2 dollar classic never to be uttered again.  When you said this, you knew you were about to have a great night or go get something you been wanting for a long time (like that girl you been chasing since 11th grade), “let me get 2 dollars on pump number fo”, in the Black community from 1955 to 1998 that phrase was second only to “let me borrow… 2 dollars” in number of times heard per day.  Here’s to you 2 Dollars!!! We love you more than this country, most of our cousins, every member of Destiny’s Child not named Beyonce… but not as much as Marvin Gaye and the 1st of the Month. We celebrate those last 2 dollars because when we get to those last couple, that is exactly what is next…

Happy Black History Month!! Today We Salute… The Thug ‘As A Fashion Statement’

As important as the ‘Jheri Curl’ or the ‘Zipper’ jacket Michael Jackson wore in the “Beat It” video.  Bigger than an Andre 3000 bow tie or Throw-back jersey with some S. Carter Reeboks and dookie gold rope chains, the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ has lasted longer than the careers and lives of rappers. 20 years ago rappers started dressing like they were going to rob their fans.  NWA came on the scene and even though they looked tough, nobody could remember seeing their local gang member walking down the street in a black Raiders hat with matching $200 Starters jacket.  That changed after an arrest and eventual release from jail of Tupac Shakur.  Tupac emerged from a precinct after making bail, spitting on camera men and cussing… acting like a real G!  From that point on, people wanted to dress like they were ‘real’.

In 1994, a group out of Cleveland, Ohio emerged and changed not only the sound of rap for a brief period, but changed fashion… for a really long time.  When people became fascinated by the sound from the song “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”, they ached to see who these guys were.  When the video “Foe the Love of Money” appeared on BET (where else), people finally saw what a ‘thug’ wore.  Looking like they were in the same clothes they rode the Greyhound bus to Los Angeles wearing, young men began to dress like they couldn’t afford anything else, on purpose.  Bones Thugs and Harmony not only made Eazy E relevant again; they put iron and ironing board manufacturers out of business.  They also saved a lot of money on the wardrobe budget… MO WEED MO WEED MO WEED!

Schools across the country had to issue uniforms to offset a student body looking as if they would shoot you for getting a Master’s in Education.  This did not stop the thug ‘as a fashion’ statement, the thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is intelligent in his ignorance; “you want me to wear a uniform?  I won’t put on the belt”.  The thug ‘as a fashion’ statement never grew out of (or into) their choice of clothes.  They became 35-year-olds with a closet full of oversized jeans, 40 pairs of Nikes but not a pair of slacks or dress shoes for a job interview.  The thug ‘as a fashion statement’ helped society in one major way… it let companies know who not to hire.  The unemployment rate has been tied to trends in the economy, bad decisions by the Federal government, even the greed of Wall Street.  High unemployment rates can also be tied directly to a large number of people in the ‘hiring pool’ that don’t own a tie and think their whitest T-shirt is appropriate interview attire.

The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ has a hard time making connections.  He questions why the police are always stopping him when walking down the street.  He fails to make the connection that REAL thugs only wear hooded sweatshirts, in 90 degree heat, when they have something to hide… like when they are trying to hide their gun or their face, after they have used their gun.  Police are trained to stop people who look like they are hiding a gun, they learned this in class they took while in the police academy called “Characteristics of Individuals Carrying Guns” which has been retitled “What Thugs Wear”.  Those characteristics happen to be the style of choice for the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’, oversized clothes to hide the bulk of a weapon, pants sagging from the bulk of a weapon, walking slow as if the they are being slowed down from the weight from the bulk of a weapon.  The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’, thinks that looks cool… because the thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is stupid.

Real thugs have learned that when a cop stops you, talk to him.  If you act like you have nothing to hide and not give a police officer a reason to arrest you, the cop probably won’t arrest you… cops do not like writing ‘arrest reports’.  The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ always runs and he is always caught.  Because he is not wearing a belt, so his pants fall to his ankles, causing him to trip and fall, allowing the fat cop to slowly walk over to him and place him in handcuffs.

Real thugs dress like this out of necessity or lack of money to afford better.  The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ can actually afford to buy proper and better fitting clothing.  Instead they shop at “Thugs Iz Us” and pay 200 percent more for a style a real thug gets from the Dickies section at Wal-Mart or from his older brother after he grows out of it.

The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’, believes that the world is against them and that everybody hates them because they are constantly being jumped and attacked by large groups of teenagers.  When in reality, the thug ‘as a fashion statement’ fails to realize that real thugs beat up anyone in a ‘thug uniform’ they do not recognize.  It is a defense mechanism for real thugs; they have come to learn that people they do not recognize that look like they are carrying guns are probably carrying guns.

What is most upsetting to grown men, that act like grown men and dress like grown men, about the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is not the embarrassment they feel when they see men from their community looking ignorant.  Not even the initial fear that comes across them when they see the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ until they realize they are not real thugs.  What is most upsetting to grown men, that act like grown men and dress like grown men, is that at least 3 times a week because the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is not wearing a belt they look at another man’s ass to realize they have on the same pair of draws!

Because you are not going anywhere, reluctantly we honor you the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’.  Even though the rappers that influenced your style opted for $3,000 suits as soon as they could afford them (have you seen T.I. in a crooked hat and sagging jeans since his third album?  Nope), even though we tried our best to forget about you for some reason you held on until we had to embrace you.  Kind of like Betty White, you out lived everyone in your generation until we had no choice but to give you a Life Time Achievement Award… The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ the “Betty White” of Black History Month.  Please accept this award, this job application, and this belt.  You can either put it on and wear it at an appropriate level or we can whup your ass with it, the choice is yours.

HAPPY BLACK HISTORY MONTH!!! Today We Salute Flava Aid

HAPPY BLACK HISTORY MONTH! Flava Aid, not KOOL AID. You did not notice when mom started buying cheaper meat or the off brand vanilla cream cookies or saltines instead of Ritz, but when you saw Flava Aid instead of Kool Aid you knew your family had some money problems.

That day you helped your mother with the groceries, you put the pork steaks instead of the usual pot roast in the freezer without a question.  Grabbed the store brand loaf of bread out the bag, not once did you question where the Wonder or Sara Lee bread is at.  But when you pulled out 50 packs of Flava Aid instead of the 20 packs of Kool Aid you became use to, you screamed out “Flava Aid… why you being so cheap?  What you be doing with your money?”  Learning two very important lessons at that moment, your mother has a serious left hook and don’t ever question her about how she spends her money.  The next thing that crosses your mind, after  you stop seeing stars, is that times is rough and how can this happen to your family.  You go to church, you don’t steal anything other than your neighbors cable and they are tapped into their neighbor’s cable so the original sin is on them anyway.

The Flava Aid revelation now has you more than interested in stock market ticker at the bottom of that one  boring channel you zoom by on your way to watch BET.  Unfortunately you don’t know what Kool Aid’s ticker symbol is, so your theory that the cost of Kool Aid has sky rocketed will remain unfounded.

“WHY DID MOMMY NOT INVEST IN KOOL AID???  We would be rich; I would be belly deep in purple Kool Aid right now if she did.”

That’s okay the president speaks tonight to the nation, he will surely address the rising cost of high quality drink mixes.  At 8:00 PM that night, you are in front of the television with an ice cold glass of water (you’re still not a hundred percent sure of that cheap stuff)…

“Mr. President, I could sure use your leadership right now.  War?  Crimes against humanity?  The right thing to do?  Man please… who elected this clown!  My mommy can’t afford my drank, deal with the issues man!  I can’t wait until I can vote.”

The next day you are at school, in English class your teacher asks you to draft a letter to someone you miss.  Your letter to the “Hey Kool Aid Man” is heartfelt, emotional… you get a “B” on it, but your teacher writes a referral to the school social worker about possible ‘issues’. You do not have time to talk answer questions from a professional about ‘uncles’ and point at puppets, you have to get to Chemistry class.  Dammit you will make your own Kool Aid!  How hard can it be?  Sugar, ground up Jolly Ranchers, and water… off you go!

Okay, that didn’t work out Kool Aid is not as easy as you thought it would be and while trying to ground up the Jolly Ranchers into a fine powdery substance, a piece broke off and hit that slow kid in his eye.

“Detention, I have to serve detention for trying to help financially challenged kids.  Oh well, Martin Luther King went to jail for his beliefs, an hour in the library for mine is worth it if it means a better life for all.”

Heck, half your friends are in detention so not so bad.  Plus, you all can kick it at your house after school, play Nintendo, and drink Kool… FUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGG.  Now you have 4 thirsty and judgmental ‘friends’ on their way to your house and they keep asking if you have red or green Kool Aid in the fridge.  You cannot stand privileged kids.  The fear that you feel creeping up on you as you near your house is only trumped by your outrage at the government for allowing it’s citizens to reach such levels of poverty.

You arrive at home with 4 ‘rich kids’ following you, your mom meets you at the door.  No company!!! Punishment???  Yes, I am on punishment!  Awesome.  I had to deal with a backhand left hand from mom and a possible concussion… but questioning where mom’s money was going has turned out to be an ego saving move.

“Bye… I gotta go clean my room and take out the garbage.  Thank God!”

Next day at school you figure the need to take interest in history class for the first time.  You want to know about the history of Kool Aid, which excites the class.  Everybody wants to talk about Kool Aid.  Who wouldn’t, until one kid asks the teacher if it is true that a man killed a bunch of people by poisoning their Kool Aid.  WHAT???  The teacher tells the class that the incident was at Jonestown and adds an interesting note about what they were drinking, “people for years have said it was Kool Aid they mixed up, actually it was Flava Aid”… you’re definitely not drinking that shit now.  And how stupid were those people to follow a broke cult.  If you ever join a cult they will have a lot of money and if you ever notice them switching out the Kool Aid for Flava Aid you know what’s going down and that the guy next to you is welcome to your glass.

Eventually, your mom pulls into the driveway with a small bag of Kool Aid and all is well again.  You’re not going to lose the house, you won’t have to spend your weekends walking around town with a stolen cart from the local Safeway collecting aluminum cans on the side of the road.  You can sleep peacefully again, knowing that your family has survived a serious financial crisis.  So on this 3rd day of Black History Month we salute Flava Aid, knock off drink mix, the drink of choice of deranged insecure cult leaders everywhere, and economic indicator for little Black kids.