Wednesday, December 31, 2008

January 1, 2009 Final Day of Kwanzaa - Imani

Imani (EE-MAH-NEE) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.

And I'll Take With Me The Memories, To Be My Sinshine After The Rain...

2008 was surprising in that so many people dear to me made transition...

Reverend Charles Lanier
was the first person I met when I entered the doors of Unity Fellowship Church-Los Angeles. He was Deacon Charles back then and I wasn't exactly sure where the church was located on Jefferson so I'd left early to make sure if I got lost I could get to morning service on time. It was easier to find than I thought it would be so I got their well before the time morning worship started.

Deacon Charles in all his pearl earrings wearing glory. He was so welcoming an inviting. He almost instantly became a friend, confidant, and mentor. I began to refer to him as "Deacon Auntie" because of the way he doted on me.

He was always available with advice, counsel, a funny story of his past, and a soprano note in his falsetto voice.

I watched him move through the ministry at Unity and maintain an openness and approachability for any and every one. He was willing to share his experiences as an addict, and HIV Positive Man, and a Same Gender Loving man who found his liberation with anyone he thought it would help.

Minister Regi Perry, is a friend and brother that had a profound impact on me. At 5' 7" he had a voice bigger than his size. I'd met him before we started working together as a duo.

Jeffrey King of the In The Meantime Men's organization asked if I would do a couple of poems for his birthday. I agreed to do it and there was one in particular I had in mind. It's called Idle Worship and when I wrote I knew I wanted to perform it with a vocalist that could do some gospel riffs in the background. One Sunday after church I asked Regi, "hey what are you doing on the 22nd?" he said he wasn't sure but he'd check his calendar. We made arrangements to meet and it was magical. Our performing styles were different but complimented each other tremendously.

To try out material we entered an upcoming slam. We won the 1st round and didn't know there were two rounds so during the break we put something together and ended up 3rd.

We didn't get a chance to perform together as much as we would have liked but every time we were together whether performing or just fellowshipping it was like connecting to another part of myself.

My niece, Adrianne Reese was so dear to me. Her passing hit me the hardest. I was in shock. Even though I've had other family members die, hers was so unexpected it shook me. I'd always assumed we'd grow old together.

Being the youngest in a family of 10 is a unique experience. I am actually closer in age to some of my nieces and nephews than my brother and sisters.

"Miss Anne" was my first niece and she was always someone who wore her heart on her sleeve. She had no filter. Whatever she was thinking you either heard about it or saw it in her face.

One of my favorite stories about her is during a summer family reunion. Some activities were broken down into age groups. The teens/young adults got to go to Magic Mountain. I was a about 15 or 16. My nephew Richard, her brother was 11 or 12. Richard and I are extremely close. More like brothers in alot of ways instead of uncle and nephew. We still call each other Brother to this day. Even though he wasn't officially a teen because of our closeness I lobbied for him to go with us. He could keep up with older kids. Adrianne who was about 8 or 9 wanted to go as well but there was no way I was going to be responsible for her. It was going to be mostly teens with some adult supervision and I wasn't willing to chaperon her. This was different from our trips to the movies or Hawthorne Mall. Magic Mountain was huge and we wanted to ride as many rides as possible. She'd only slow us down. She got so mad it was the first time I ever experienced daggers being thrown at me. She was mad at everyone, My sister Ora, her father James, Richard, me, the organizers, and probably God for making her young at that time. James my brother in law promised to take her at another time but she was HEATED!!! I am not sure how it got resolved because as we drove off I saw her face and it was contorted with such anger. We made it through and went on to have many years of love and laughter.

I will miss her dearly. In quiet moments it's hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that she is gone. She leaves behind many who love her dearly.

She is a daughter, sister, cousin, friend, auntie, mother, wife, and my niece...

Today, December 31st, is the Sixth Day of Kwanzaa!

The Sixth Principle of Kwanzaa is:
Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah):

- to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
(Red Candle)

Traditional Greeting: "Habari Gani?"
Response on Dec 31st: "Kuumba!"

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rick Warren Invocation At Obama Inauguartion . . .

I pondered this situation since I heard the announcement and as much as I want to support others who call for President Elect Obama to not have Rick Warren deliver the invocation at his inauguration I can't seem to get upset about it.

I understand the reasons behind the call it's just my focus is not so much on Reverend Warren as it is on the thousands upon thousands of people who sit in churches Sunday after Sunday, year after year, and absorb a message that teaches them they are wrong, an abomination, going to hell, need to change, and other dogma that has nothing to do with what our Creator intended.

Mr. Warren and others are entitled to believe whatever they like. Including that one can love someone while claiming they have to "change" to be accepted by God.

One must remember the bible was used to promote the slave trade.

Many churches and Pastors were actively involved in using humans as cargo while trading goods and bringing people to this continent.

The "Curse of Ham" was perpetuated for many years as the reason that people from the African continent were enslaved. As descendants of Ham, Africans were fulfilling biblical lineage by their suffering.

In scripture, I Peter 2 admonishes slaves to follow this credo,

18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

There is nothing in that scripture that tells people to liberate themselves from the bonds of slavery. Thank goodness for prophets and visionaries known as abolitionists that found other scripture and more likely the chapters written in their own hearts that lead them to freedom.

Just as scripture, the church, and religion was used to keep people enslaved it has been used to bond those of us who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and questioning.

One can not discuss the often used texts in Leviticus that labels us abominations without also questioning why women aren't sent out of the city during their menstrual cycle or people are allowed to eat shrimp.

There are many people who have and will commit suicide because of these misinterpretations. I honestly don't think it's the intention of Rick Warren or anyone else for this to happen, but again he is not my concern.

My concern and compassion is for those many who don't know that God not only created us to be as we are but loves us because of it.

If someone wants to boycott the Inauguration because of Rick Warren's participation I understand but as for me I will be seeking ways to help people discover that which has been endowed upon us by our Creator. That we live openly and honestly. Walking in our own truths. Unashamedly as God intended...

Today, December 30th, is the Fifth Day of Kwanzaa!

The Fifth Principle of Kwanzaa is:
Nia (NEE-ah):

- setting goals that benefit the community. (Green Candle)

Traditional Greeting: "Habari Gani?"
Response on Dec 30th : "Nia!"

Monday, December 29, 2008

Today, December 29th, is the Fourth Day of Kwanzaa!

The Fourth Principle of Kwanzaa is:
Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah-AH):
Cooperative Economics

- to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
(Red Candle)

"...If we fail to support our own people, we are leaving our fate in the hands of other people. This gives them power over us, which can and has been used to hurt us and hinder us. Black professionals are as dedicated and skilled as their white counterparts, if not more. They have to be in order to survive in the hostile environment we create for our own people by treating them as if their service is inferior. There are times when Black professionals must charge higher prices to provide services, but only because they do not receive the patronage of Black customers.

If we supported ourselves the way we supported the white men who laugh at us, we would have stronger communities. There would be more Black doctors, and they would be able to afford better equipment to provide better services. These services are no good to our community if they are only available outside our community. If we would shop at Black-owned businesses, white businesses would give us more respect because they would not take our money for granted." - Supporting Black Businesses

Traditional Greeting: "Habari Gani?"
Response on Dec 29th : "Ujamaa!"

Today, December 28th, is the Third Day of Kwanzaa!

The Third Principle of Kwanzaa is:
Ujima (oo-JEE-mah):
Collective Work and Responsibility

- to build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.
(Green Candle)

"Many hands make light work."

Large tasks become small when divided among several people.

Traditional Greeting: "Habari Gani?"
Response on Dec 28th: "Ujima!"

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Today, December 27th, is the Second Day of Kwanzaa!

Today, December 27th, is the Second Day of Kwanzaa!

Kwanzaa (with symbols)
The Second Principle of Kwanzaa is:

- to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
(Red Candle)

Traditional Greeting: "Habari Gani?"
Response on Dec 27th: "Kujichagulia!"

Friday, December 26, 2008

Today, December 26th, is the First Day of Kwanzaa!

Today, December 26th, is the First Day of Kwanzaa!


The First Principle Kwanzaa is:

Umoja (oo-MOH-jah): Unity
- to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
(Black Candle)

Traditional Greeting: "Habari Gani?"
Response on Dec 26th: "Umoja!"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Flashback Thursday - Madness

Those Nutty Boys From Madness "Our House"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

By Faith...

I just wanted to take time to acknowledge this past Sunday Dec 15, 2008 marked two years since I left Los Angeles.

I had been working towards moving for over a year and half. I looked for a job, a place to stay but nothing was working out.

A friend, John Meeks had asked me earlier in the year to apartment sit for him to take care of his cat while he was in New York for about six weeks. I made the decision that while staying there I could save money and no matter what, by faith I would leave L.A. and move to the Bay Area.

I did just that. It wasn't easy at first but God has blessed me more than I can truly explain. It's one of those "you can't tell it, let me tell it" kinds of testimonies.

There are some things I am still trying to co-create. I am not writing and performing as much as I used to but it is being revealed that those things are on the way...

By Any Means Necessary If You Are Truly Trying To Bring About CHANGE


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Buddha & Flower Coming Home to the Alphabet Sangha

The East Bay Meditation Center Presents

Buddha & Flower Coming Home
to the Alphabet Sangha

A one-day retreat
for the LGBTQI/SGL Communities

Sunday, January 25, 2009
9:30 am to 4:30 pm

with Larry Yang, Shahara Godfrey,
Joan Doyle & Phyllis Oscar

at the East Bay Meditation Center,
2147 Broadway@22nd, downtown Oakland

You are invited to join us in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex & Same-Gender Loving communities, a.k.a. LGBTQI/SGL, a.k.a. "the Alphabet Sangha," for a day of sitting and walking meditation practice, dharma teachings, and friendly, supportive community.

Let us explore together mindfulness and awareness for cultivating an open heart in our everyday lives.

Registration Required

To Register: Please click on the link below, to fill out a registration survey.

(If the link does not work, please copy it, and paste it into your web browser. If that still does not work, email us at -- or reply to this email -- with your full name, and a message requesting a registration form for the "Heart Series".)

Cost: The teachings are offered without charge. You will be invited to support the teachings and our efforts by choosing your own level of voluntary donations (the practice of "Dana") to support the expenses of the East Bay Meditation Center and the teachers.
EBMC is wheelchair accessible.accessibility.gif

Out of respect for people with environmental illnesses, please do not wear fragrance or scented products to these classes.

In The Name Of Love...

In the Name of Love

Balancing Rocks

A community celebration for the
People of Color Sangha

Monday, January 19, 2009

11:30 am to 4:00 pm

East Bay Meditation Center, 2147 Broadway, Oakland
Located near the 19th St BART station @ 22nd St.
Join us for a day of sharing, community and remembrance of one of the world's greatest spiritual leaders of our time. Dr. King laid his life on the line for our freedom and we can honor him through celebration. On this day the POC community is invited to share their own unique gifts of song, poem or movement with the entire community. We will also have a session of mindful drumming so please bring a drum, guitar or percussion instrument.

This event is for self-identified people of color.

Please bring a delicious dish to share with the community.

pot luck lunch * music * meditation * story telling * group sharing

11:30 - Meditation & go around
12:30 - Potluck lunch
1:30 - Community share
3:30 - Closing meditation & ritual

I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feeling; my wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love.
--Mahatma Gandhi

This event will be hosted by: Spring Washam and other teachers and activists in the community.

Registration is required.

Please click the link below to register.

If this link does not work, please type the above URL into your web browser. If that still does not work, please send an email with your full name and "Name of Love" in the subject line to: or call (510) 268-0696.

Cost: The teachings are regarded as priceless, and so they are offered without a fee. You are invited to support the teachings and our efforts by contributing voluntary donations (the practice of "Dana") for the expenses of the meditation center and the support of the teachers.

Spring WashamSpring Washam is a meditation teacher and founding member of the East Bay Meditation Center. She has practiced meditation since 1997 with many renowned teachers and is known for her joyful heart and loving spirit. Spring is a Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader and is in teacher training with Jack Kornfield at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She has been a socially engaged Buddhist activist for over 10 years and has worked in the area of juvenile justice, universal health care, child abuse and anti-poverty issues. She currently teaches classes, workshops, and retreats throughout the U.S.

For further information about East Bay Meditation Center, please visit our web site:

EBMC is wheelchair accessible.

Out of respect for people with environmental illnesses, please do not wear fragranced products or clothing laundered with fragranced products to EBMC.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Look For The Purple Banana (Box)... NFL Player Exposed On National TV

It wasn't as widely seen as the Janet Jackson incident at the Super Bowl, but an NFL broadcast has once again unwittingly shown too much skin.
In a postgame locker room video that was supposed to capture Vikings owner Zygi Wilf presenting the game ball to coach Brad Childress, FOX cameras accidentally caught towel-clad tight end Visanthe Shiancoe in their shot. The problem? Shiancoe's towel was not fully covering his groin area.

"It obviously was an oversight on our part and we apologize," said FOX Sports vice president of Communications Dan Bell.
The overexposure, which was on screen for less than a second, was filmed after Shiancoe caught what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown in Minnesota's 20-16 win over Detroit. The win moved the Vikings to 8-5, and kept them a game up on Chicago in the AFC North.

"The televising network is allowed, upon request and with the permission of the club, to record videotape in the locker (room) after a game for use in its postgame show," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "We will review the procedures with the networks this week in an effort to ensure that this does not happen again."

For his part, Shiancoe did not seem overly concerned with the incident. When informed that the story had become a hot topic on the internet, Shiancoe had only one question for a female columnist from the Minneapolis Star, "How'd It Look?"

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Prop 8 The Musical"

I think any time you can create a vehicle with Jennifer Lewis in it and make it funny and satirical you are doing something right...

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die