Posts later this week threaten to be somewhat sober and chilling (the national action on the Jena 6 takes place this Thursday, for example), so I thought I'd try to mention some positive items first:
Saturday, Baltimore hosted the commissioning of the Logistics Support Vessel-8 (LSV-8) USAV MG Robert Smalls (United States Army Vessel Major General Robert Smalls), the first Army vessel named after an African-American. Smalls (1839-1915) is one of those great, little known figures in US History that one tends to run into in a footnote or an aside: the First Black Captain of a U.S. Vessel, South Carolina State Legislator and five-term representative of the state in the US Congress, and eventually Collector of Customs in Beaufort, South Carolina, where he had bought and lived in the house where he had once been a slave. Stories like his never cease to amaze, astound, and inspire me.
Unfortunately, I could not make the dedication ceremony, as I was at the Pratt Library's Waverly Branch for the branch's first Book Festival. Excellent weather outside, and inside some great poetry and workshopping by Tonya Maria Matthews and Maryland Poet Laureate Michael S. Glaser. It is very easy to fall into despair over the state of our world, our nation, our city, our block. But to see the young people writing, reading, and performing their work with Tonya, then see adults (and some of the teens) do the same with Michael....well, even someone as prone to melancholy as I am had to be heartened. We forget that kids are just that, kids, and that they need guidance, understanding, care, and intellectual and artistic stimulation to flourish. And the same doesn't hurt folks over the age of consent either!
Finally, on a personal note, I attended two different meetings of black gay men where two different guys said pretty much exactly the same thing: that they had been in discussions with other African American males and were pleasantly surprised at how, in spite of the potential for both to devolve into anger and name calling, both were effective and civilized, and succeeded in resolving the problems the meetings had been called to deal with. I mention this because, again, more often than not, the press covers the negative side of things: if it bleeds, it leads. And we as black people also underestimate ourselves and our brothers and sisters as well, expecting a fight whenever a difficult decision has to be made. I wanted to point this out to indicate that other ways do exist, that we can relate to each other in different ways. We can (and do) treat each other with decency and respect. We should not forget this, and honor it when it happens.
(Photo of kids from Good Shepherd Community Center, Red Hook, Brooklyn fromThe Children's Photographic Collective website)
Salon.com's Joan Walsh plays 'compare and contrast' and catches Fox TV clipping Sally Field's acceptance speech at the Emmy's. She was floundering, and I thought she was going to pull out her, "You like me, you really really like me," line again, but she didn't. She did however say, "If mothers ruled the world there'd be no more goddamned war," which is apparently too controversial a statement for US audiences to hear. Bless the Canadians for carrying the whole thing.