At Long Last…
It took me a while, but it’s finally here. And after all this time the first book I put out turns out to be not an expose on the state of U.S. or world affairs, or even a coming of age story for young black males. Instead I put out Sinderella: Tales of a Southside Stripper. The adult story of a young black woman living in Atlanta hustling her body on-stage and off in order to feed her kids. Some don’t believe her story is one worth telling. But one thing I’ve learned in my years is that even in the most mundane lies the deeply spiritual.
Most of you know that I fell in love with hip-hop music when I was 12 years old growing up in Inglewood California. Five Minutes of Funk. Egyptian Lover. Buffalo Gals. Linoleum in the driveway trying to learn to windmill. Some of you go back that far.
Too Short was awarded one of the VH-1 hip hop legend awards the other night. I remember hearing a Too Short record for the first time in college when I was about 18 up in the Bay. I couldn’t believe that this dude wrote a lyric that went: “…bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, make me rich….” My Judeo-Christian training railed against the thought of it. But the sinner in me wanted to hear more. “…I knew this girl named Belinda, my homeboys called her Belinda the blenda…” He was making money hand over fist. Could it possibly have been true? “Build it and they will come…” Somebody once said.
A pet rock? Yep. A Chia Pet bruh? Again the answer is yes.
Writing a book is an amazing journey. It’s like walking through the universe and having someone magically lift the veils off of scenes and allowing you to take notes on them as you stitch them together in time. Of course there are many formulae for writing prose. But following the imagination as it builds brick upon brick from the seedling idea to a mansion of pages called a novel is a fantastic voyage to say the least.
The girl on the train said she didn’t read fiction when I asked, but I stuck the book in her hands anyway. “This is my new book.” I said. “Good stuff.” I said. “I bet.” She said sarcastically as she read the title. Then she flipped it over and said, “You wrote this?” I nodded my head.
I ask you as I asked her, “Is the stripper’s story not worth telling?” Is she somehow less worthy of the ink and paper than the cab driver or the mercenary? Or does her life teach lessons too? Is she more than just skin and spandex and baby oil? Does she have a brain? A heart? A conscience? I wonder what Moms for Sarah Palin would say? Maybe a resounding, celebratory YES. The lady I saw said how much she admired that Palin had knowlingly had the down syndrome baby, and embraced her daughter’s unwed pregnancy. They talked about how much they related to Sarah. She looks like them, she thinks the way they think. The woman interviewed said she just felt like she could invite Sarah over for snacks and talk.
We all make choices in life and those choices dictate the course of our lives. The choices open up new pathways which lead to yet more choices. But regardless of our chosen paths we must continue to learn or wallow in our ignorance until bloodied and sore the lightbulb finally goes on. So many of us are pain-learners. We don’t touch the stove any more when we see the orange flame because the pain lingers on in our long term memories. LaShonda Booker often wishes she could turn back the hands of time and make different choices, choices that might have brought her to a different right-now. Maybe she wouldn’t have a stage name. She could just be LaShonda and wouldn’t have to be Sin. But wishing don’t cook the food. Especially in an economy like this one. Oh yeah, don’t forget… Christmas on the way…
p.s. If you haven’t heard the Richard Trumka speech at the AFL-CIO rally then you haven’t heard the most moving speech given by a white man on race in a good long time! Enjoy!