Dear 80s baby: a letter to my younger self

Born on the heels of the Baby Boomers, the 80s baby was introduced to society around the time of the drug boom, during the birth of the neon fashion craze and big, wild hair. We were the rockers, the hip hoppers, the techies. Oh, how I wish I had a crystal ball, a genie in a bottle or superpowers so that I could freeze time or take a walkabout into the future. If I could talk to my younger self, I’d give the greatest pep talk of the 20th century.

Dear 80s baby,

Enjoy life…period. Make more memories during elementary school recess, snap up more polaroids with the family and knock on just one more neighbor’s door, run like hell so you can laugh about it later. 80s baby, you may not understand it now but relish in the creature comforts of blissful youth because what’s in store for you later will make you cringe at humankind.

You think curfews are bad now? Just wait until the two-thousand-teens when you’re afraid to venture outdoors.

Imagine police in riot gear in your neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon, reckless and rebellious youth, mother nature wreaking havoc on far reaches of the globe, gunmen shooting down innocent bystanders, our country’s wayward justice system, historic and unprecedented elections and men dying helplessly in the street while their suspects go free. I’m merely touching the surface. This is your life, 80s baby.

Mama will never tell you that there would be days like this. She will; however, tell you that history repeats itself but you are the captain of your destiny. YOU are at the helm of your life.

You’ll experience tragedies – lose family and friends and become overwhelmed by personal struggles. But, you’ll also observe many triumphs. It may be that you have to work twice as hard or that you may be passed up for some advancements, but not to count you out, in the end, you will make it and celebrate in your victories.

You’ll be in the class of firsts, you’ll witness history in technology, social media will be the bridge to reuniting families and friends and developments in medicines will allow many patients to live longer.

80s baby, we still have a long way to go; you were born to be resilient. Your grandparents fought the race, your parents carried the baton and now it’s up to you to finish it. You’re just getting started. You see, there are decades to follow, and you’ll have lots of time to put your stamp on it. And, by the time you peer into the 20-teens, you’ll know that 30 years earlier, wasn’t just a walk in the park, it was training day. #ibedamned.

Sincerely,

Your future self

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A Blessing in Sisco’s Scars

Around the Thanksgiving holiday, many of us are scrambling to grocery stores gathering our goods for a holiday meal or packing our bags to hit the highway for a family getaway. For me, both options were up for grabs and I was more than ready for my one-day hiatus from work. But, before the festivities could occur, I was to volunteer and donate a free Thanksgiving meal to a deserving family. The mission: ask online subscribers to submit a story of a family in need; a family who could use an extra hand financially this holiday season. The submissions poured in and the recipient was subsequently chosen. Easy enough and worth every minute. But, the lesson wasn’t in the gift giving. The lesson was in what I would learn from the family that so graciously shared their heartwarming story. Break out the tissues because this one is a tearjerker.

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Courtesy: Facebook

Meet Francisco, affectionately known as Sisco. I had heard about Francisco as I was one of many news reporters who had followed his story which later had gone viral. He was a promising high school student-athlete who was injured in a near-fatal crash. And, he was clinging to life after the vehicle he was an occupant in was t-boned on the passenger side. He was a straight ‘A’ student, a football player and a role model to his two brothers as well as to his peers.

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As a result of the crash, his skull was fractured, his spleen broken, his brain swollen and his lungs were filled with blood. From the pictures, it was a miracle that anyone walked away alive. His family was informed that he would have a long road to recovery. That was April 8th, 2016.

Eight months later, November 21st, 2016, on a surprise visit to share our Thanksgiving bundle, my friends and I walked into the home Sisco shared with his grandparents. We distributed a free turkey, ham, sides, pies and all the fixings befitting of a glorious meal.

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Hoodstock Founder, Courtney ‘Schola’ Long pictured with Sisco

And in walked Francisco with bright eyes and a smile – a remarkable transformation from the images I had seen months earlier. He walked into the living room with a natural pace accompanied with a slight limp wearing a shirt adorned with Superman’s emblem.

He appeared to have a glowing silhouette that brightened the already well-lit room. He hugged each of us thus melting our hearts. It was our hope that we would bring cheer to the family (which I believe we accomplished), but we were on the receiving end overwhelmed with an abundance of joy and still in awe-struck by a person we believed was still bedridden from life-threatening injuries.

I think it’s safe to say that we all fought back tears as he told us that he held no malice for the driver responsible, he talked about his desire to seek employment or enroll in college and even joked about his scars.

 

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Courtesy: Shea Drake

Sisco hugged us once more and thanked us for our generosity. Before meeting him, my only concern was picking up last-minute groceries, sifting through my closet for my Thanksgiving outfit and reminding myself of how delicious Thanksgiving meal was going to taste. But, as I headed out of Francisco’s home, I was reminded of the truest spirit of Thanksgiving. Not even the donations could make me feel better than knowing that despite his previous health condition; he had lain in a coma and unable to walk, Sisco was truly a shining example of a higher power at work. He remained humble, uplifted and thankful. We were the financial donors, but #ibedamned, what he gave us, money can’t buy.

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Free as a Butterfly

“Go fly a kite.”

Those very words took on a literal meaning one Independence holiday.  And, a glorious holiday it was for my sister and me. We were like little girls again; excited and giddy as our kite took off towards the clouds, flying freely as it fluttered about the skyline. It was merely a coincidence that the kite I had purchased was a Monarch butterfly.

Although, it’s the most familiar of the species, it captivated our attention as if we’d laid eyes on it for the first time.

My family and I stumbled across an open lot once home to white, majestic Antebellum mansions; destroyed by Katrina’s wrath. The hurricane had leveled a lot of the structures along Beach Boulevard clearing the space like Mother Nature’s wrecking ball. The area was now full of high grass and burweed, sticker plants that had occasionally stuck to my sandals as I fumbled my way through the tall grass. The sound of the Gulf was in our ears in the distance while trucks and cars bustled in the vicinity searching for the perfect spot to view the Fourth of July fireworks display. But, for us, the sky was already illuminated…with our Monarch butterfly. It’s shell made merely of soft and hard plastic. Yet, it captured our eyes for an extended period of time. They were fixed for one full hour before the sun decided to take its rest.

Getting it in the air was a task. The first few attempts almost deflated our hopes as the wind whipped the flimsy packaging from our hands and it nose-dived every time. But, with each try, we became more and more determined to see our beautiful creation soar. And, it did. Passersby gazed and a child yelled to her mother, “Mommy, look. A butterfly!” almost in unison just as my sister and I exclaimed to our mother, “Mom, come see!”

Kiting wasn’t just for the young, but also the young at heart and we had proven it. As a fellow blogger and friend pointed out, “being a kid is in the spirit. Let your kid side fly free.”

#ibedamned

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ROY G BIV: The Color Spectrum

Skin Color Fifth grade. Lunch bell rings and children spill into the hallway, herded like cattle, speed walking towards the cafeteria. I’m accompanied by a friend, and we join the hordes of students singly filed; one by one, eager to grab today’s hot plate. We are giggly, loud, and hungry. We’re interrupted by a lady. Unknown. Occupation: Lunch line lady AKA parent volunteer.

“Do you know that if you place a brown paper bag next to your skin there would be no difference?”

A pause followed by, “Ooookay,” and a look of bewilderment as we continued our procession closer to our lunch plates -which I no longer had an appetite to consume. I am ashamed, embarrassed and downright confused. My brunette, blue-eyed classmate turned to me and said, “I’m not sure, but I think she was trying to be racist.” I was aware of the definition of racism, but it had never happened to me. Sometimes, my parents spoke of it in conversation. I’d overheard examples of racism as it occurred on their jobs, in their hometown, in the grocery store, anywhere and everywhere else adults gathered. But, to me? A 10-year-old whose friends were absolutely perfect because…they were my friends. Period. We were clueless to race. But, was it really racism? According to my mom, the lady was obviously crazy and misinformed. Her remarks were inappropriate, but it wasn’t racism. In fact, I was subjected to the infamous Brown Paper Bag Test, without the brown paper bag, of course. Urban Dictionary defines the Brown Paper Bag Test as follows: During the 1900s, if your skin was darker than a brown paper bag, one would be excluded from the upper echelon of Black American Society. The lighter the complexion, the more accepted you were.

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The brown paper bag test…

Mind you, I was born in the 1980s. I guess it’s easy to assume that I had failed the test, because, according to that loony toon, I was somewhat of a chameleon as I was the quintessential blend of Brown Paper Bag. But, I was more confused than ever. Why were Black people frowned upon by other Black people? Why did she target me? What’s wrong with me? Am I a bad person? Am I not accepted? I was the victim of ignorance and stupidity, albeit the mere definition of racism. However, it’s called colorism; prejudice against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group. It took a while to find my self esteem after that. Mind you, I was only 10 years old. I found myself over-analyzing my friendships, my image; my look. I mulled over the most insignificant thing ever created by a human being to establish superiority over another human being. It was a testing system based on discrimination. Before that, my worst fear, in life, was failing Mrs. Johnson’s pop-up math quiz. It was then that I realized, in a matter of just :10, my outlook on people changed forever. #ibedamned Like this #ibedamned blog? Please leave a comment showing love or sharing your thoughts on the topic. And, don’t forget to share the page with your friends.