Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We Come in Peace

Last night I watched a documentary on PBS called Independent Lens:State of Arizona.. It was about the immigration issues that are plaguing the southwestern corner of the country. Now before I jump right in I ought to let you know that on some level I felt for all parties involved. Even the those furthest right of the issue; regardless of how skewed or myopic their solutions and approach to the issues at hand. I think it's important to preface this article with human rights involved. Because this is the corner of the spectrum I approach this issue from. I'll begin by confessing that before I saw this documentary about the
plight of Latino Americans who are here under legal or illegal terms I had very aloof feelings and opinions about these issues. Mostly because I live in a region of the country that doesn't live with it on a daily basis. But the moving images and pictures of the struggle that exists in the state of Arizona stifled me, not only that it existed but that it was willfully being carried out and orchestrated by a legislative branch of state government against hard working Latino Americans.

A major character in this documentary is a statute called SB1070; enacted in April of 2010,  essentially in it's original form it gave police the right to criminally profile mexican americans in their own cities and towns within the state or Arizona. If you remember civics from grade school you'll remember that states have the rights to run themselves as they see fit in matter where the federal government doesn't or where the constitution does not necessarily cover the role of the federal government (all subject to interpretation of the law of course). But as the elder brother to the states the federal government has the right to intervene if they feel the constitution is being violated. Well you guessed it, the state department intervened and took the State of Arizona to court putting a temporary injunction on SB1070 until it could be sorted out by the higher courts. In the end some of the most egregious parts of the statutes were struck down by a federal judge such as the parts that required immigrants to carry their papers and making it unlawful for undocumented immigrants to work or apply for work in the U.S.

The legal bits of this piece are tedious but once you understand the 'conditions' the government were trying to create for people trying to earn an honest living in the U.S. it almost makes you angry and ashamed to call yourself a citizen of a country that holds itself up to such a high standard on the world stage. The term 'attrition' was thrown around a lot in the film which is the means by which the state tried to get the 'aliens' to leave. I believe the slogan touted in the major media outlets is 'self deportation.' Which basically amounts to making living conditions so horrid for immigrant communities that they'll want to leave. Like all hate the DNA of SB1070 is made up mostly of fear and ignorance fueled by a xenophobia that has been spreading since this nation's inception. Lingering in the wings until the generations that nourished it dies off we are left with the good fight.

 One of the major cases being made by advocates of the legislation was that the immigrants were taking jobs, and taking less money to do it. Two advocates of SB1070 who were contractors said that they were economically affected because those who SB1070 sought to exclude from the community and workforce out
bid them on work projects by thousands, because they could afford to; and that they could not compete with the low rates that these workers offered when bidding on work.The anecdote offered by the two men frightened me more because it reminded me of a Jim Crow south; and the days of reconstruction. For a moment I thought if the American Zeitgeist had been where it was then in America, and it were acceptable would these men don hoods and/or masks and terrorize these worker who presented a economic obstacle for them. The thought sent chills up my spine. And although they didn't wear the expressions on their faces, or carry it in their voices. The most homeopathic doses of hate transmitted through my television set.To paraphrase Malcolm X: the can paint the picture they want us to see, not what is there. So watch with critical eyes unless it's public television or some publication with loose or no ties to corporate or subversive cultural interest. Usually your soul know right from wrong it's that little nudge in the back of your mind that you ignore instead choosing old patterns that have gotten you this far. This is as far as I can go with you on this subject. I hope you'll make a little time to educate yourself. Especially in light of tonight's broadcast from the capitol. Make it a point to bring it to the executive and legislative branch's attention via email, snail mail or better yet social media. Word on the street is that #SOTU + #SOTUis are the hot #hashtags tonight and all day so do it. They're human too, we're all connected.

Love, Peace, and Chicken Grease,

-Bikim B.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Accolades and Bardos

As I read through my twitter feed reading dozens of burnt hip hip fans over the lost of 7 Grammys by hip hop new comer Kendrick Lamar. To be honest I'd never heard of the guy before my last AmeriCorps Term working with HS kids in a hip hop concentration class here in Pittsburgh. Mostly in the form of swooning, or something like that. I spent the better part of the weekend listening to his debut studio album Good Kid M.A.A.D City. I have to admit he definitely stands out from his contemporaries he rifts about such themes as his dreams perseverance over adversities broadcasting an energy that those in his generation can receive. There are a few tracks but those that stick out to me are namely one titled 'Bitch don't kill my vibe.' The hook reminds me of a Heatwave joint called 'Star of a Story' in the Kendrick joint goes "I can feel your energy from 2 planets away, bitch don't kill my vibe."

 When African American artist express themselves this way it validates every facet of my universe and the way I can see it.  Or at least the way I struggle to see it regardless of the obstacles that enter my airspace. It's hard you know to see the universe the way you cognitively and intuitively know it to exist. This Kendrick Lamar kid is not only on to something he has obviously has found a sweet spot in his soul. I pray and hope that this doesn't discourage his artistic journey. Because after all this is his first joint I want to see more. i mean don't get me wrong kats like Andre 3000 are more than a precursor to Lamar's galactic lyricism, and of course George Clinton is the captain to our U.S.S. Enterprise. And while I haven't heard his mixtapes in their entirety (usually more raw than studio joints, more free in a sense). His Studio work seems authentic, and I like it. I have a pretty good knack for this. His themes are different, and a juxtaposed to his contemporaries; much like the artist he lost to in the 'Best Rap Album' category-Macklemore. Whose story I also find inspiring, and is, in his own right as much an asset to the culture and genre. And if you didn't know or live under a rock, Macklemore is white and Kenrick black, which is the crux of alot of the turmoil on my twitter feed more than 12 hours Grammy ceremonies were concluded. I personally think critics who would draw lines in the sand along racial lines are not  or may not be qualified to do their job (as professionals within the genre and public life) and should find a new line of work. Art knows no bounds, and when those sound vibrations hit that small bone in your ear drum and tap nerves in your brain your skin and even culture has a tendency to melt into a slurry of love goo. A concentrate flavor of love that can only be tasted by the heart and soul. But anyway that's a blog for another day.

Through all of this I think all of us who considers ourselves hip hop fans, should all calkm down, and not take the Grammys as seriously as the Grammys take themselves. So lets all close our eyes inhale, expanding our diaphragms and slowly exhale. Press play. Smile. Love you all.

"Dream those dreams, because a life w/o dreams is black + white, and the universe flows in technicolor and surround sound."

-Reggie Ossie (aka Combat Jack)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hello folks and Happy New year to you all. I apologize for my horrible discipline and my lack of attention to the this publication. Having a busy life is not at all an excuse to not blog as often as I can or should. This to me is a public journal, and my conversation with the world. I see all of my fellow bloggers out there pontificating about the vast wide universe and everything in it, and I feel worthless for slacking all of this time. Well the good news is that I have gotten better or at least more motivated to write on here ans provide more content from my life and the stuffs going ons in my life.

Since the last time I touched you all with my words a lot has changed. And if I am reading this right I haven't posted in over a year (21NOV12..Jeezus). Well I won't let that happen again. And I need you to help me make sure that doesn't happen. i promise I am gonna stop being so stingy with the treasures I had been hoarding over the years. the kind of treasures that make year long droughts like that.

Anyway since I last posted I have started a new job at a 4 star hotel in Pittsburgh that is making a pretty major transformation possible in my life. One that is sorely needed. for internal and external reasons (more on this later). Also I have been taking law classes, and have since received a certificate in paralegal studies. I have also been in a beautiful relationship for over a year now too which is pretty cool if I must say so myself.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way I'd like introduce to you a streaming line of thought that I had on the bus coming home from work one day (19JAN14 to be exact). I wrote this on a second hand iPod.

For the past 34 years I been trying to find my shine. After 34 revolutions round the sun. No such luck yet. I hope I don't leave this earth without having made a worthwhile contribution. If not i'll have alot to answer for when I get where i am going. Maybe god can explain to me where i went wrong. Where in rested when I should have pressed on. Where I licked my wounds when i should have pressed on through the pain. Like gov say " don't run from the pain run upwards it." that was a really fucked situation. I was a whole 'nother dude back then. Uber sensitive, poisoning myself to fuel a false self. A stranger to my soul. Feeding the vector feeding on the Source that sustains me. Submitting bullshit prayers to the Almighty. Praying on top my prayers that the Big Santey Clause grants my wishes.

oh and p.s. if I only have one reader in all of this I LOVE YOU for listening to me, and tell your friends about me if you think I am any good. If any of this makes sense to you pass it along. I'll get really uncomfortable if my stuff would on some parallel universe gets more than 20 views and people starts contributing but i need to get out of my comfort zone so push me :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Okay so you remmeber how like 3 weeks ago i read an article featuring a writer named Anne Lamott, and I was all excited, and it sounded like I wanted to blog long enough to wrap my pontiffications around the planet five times? Well the urge is still in me; its just that i have tons of to the shit to do; and I have since come into what can be called a 'social life.' Yep ya boy's heart strings have been tugged by another. It's hard to sort out my emotions, and

Saturday, November 3, 2012


So I was reading Time Magazine’s 10 Questions; it featured a writer named Anne Lamott. Apparently she writes Christian books on parenting and such. Of all the people I have seen in that feature; I find her to be the most intriguing. Why I am not sure but deep down inside I know she speaks to the ‘Jesus Freak’ within. That kid I became or met some 13 odd years ago. He loved the iconography of the Christ, and the cross. He read the New Testament to his Campers in the summertime at Camp Ladore. He spoke to the creator of the universe in small whispers in his bunk at camp; and he cried silently at the end of the Jesus Walk every night. He used to have quiet times and write in his journal, and a monumental sense of wonder. I have not seen this guy in quite a long time; in fact I’d go as far as to say that I may have been avoiding him for quite sometime. I’ve gotten a lot more of what the kids call ‘swagger' since the last time we both sat in the same skin. I may have left him in a cold puddle, to die in Fort Leonard Wood, MO.

As it stands at the moment I haven’t even goggled this Anne Lamott, but if she is the face of Christ in 2012 I am sorry I left. Now some of you may be asking yourself, 'how did I complete an entire internship at a church i downtown Philadelphia, if I have had such a disconnect from the body of Christ? To respond to that obvious response Broad Street Ministry to me is far more than a church; no that's precisely what it is to me. It's a community of good people doing good things for those who need them. I've examined those whom I worked close with over there at BSM, and I can see their hearts are pure, and their mission is noble. They accomplish the commission left by Christ on the Pentacaust to his disciples. and they mimic the deeds of pioneers of the modern church like St. Paul, Stephen, the Apostle Thomas, Mary Magdalene, and the Holy Mother. There is where I learned to nourish my soul again, I just wish I could go there as often as I want so that I could do the same thing on a weekly basis. i was almost inspired to enter the seminary while I was there but I am afraid of what it would do to me; that I would lose myself, for the better or worse the idea still frightens me. But perhaps I would wake up with more of a purpose. This Anne Lamont woman says she converted to Christianity at 31 years old. I am 32, and I'll be 33 in less than 8 weeks. If you believed in that kind of thing; some would say that this may be a real special year for me :-).

In the book of the book of Job  God the creator of the universe, and all of the worlds is presented with a wager to remove the hedges from around Job, and that he [Job] would surely curse him [the Lord]. Job is put through a series of tests, and as predicted in the text he did not curse the name of the creator once. His friends told him he should because he lost all he had, and his entire family had perished from one ailment or another. He lost his entire herd of livestock (which was equivalent to money in his culture), he had basically lost all he had; but through it all he remained faithful. If you don’t know how it ends Job got his shit back ten fold, and when he had a moment to breath he asked the creator why was all of that necessary, He basically responded that he’d created the Universe, and all of the worlds, and that he really didn't have to explain himself to his creation. Now this isn't the gentle deity that I learned about in Sunday School through the voice of Jesus in Parables and sang songs about with campers at campfires. But I do think this vista of the universe is needed. To help keep things in perspective; and so that one can appreciate warmer seasons when they come over the horizon.

I am not sure who this Ms. Lamott is but she has rekindled something in me that I am not sure that I can turn off now. But to be honest I have to give due credit to other writers theater in my life that have been encouraging me to “just write.” and I still don’t quite get that advice, such simple words from very two very profound women. My greatest hope is that this is the beginning of a regular affair  and  I hope that I a not talking to thin air, and that someone out there can actually read this, and take something from or contribute to it. And if you are one of my 'evangelical' friends I hope that I do not offend you at all; my only hope to enlighten you, at least from my end of the universe; it's all I can see from here. But I am open to input, and takes on the subject or ideas I discuss here. And just so you know this is the closest you all will get to reading my personal journals. For the record I am also a 'seeker' with a jewel in his breast pocket. So where ever you are Anne Lamott, thank you for your light, and from me to you Love, Peace, and Light.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Glass Elevator

So I have made no secret about my admiration for eastern religions, and in a exchange with what amounts to be a total stranger to me at this point I quite frankly told them my reasons for choosing one faith community over another. The following texts protects the names of the faith communities involved for better or worse (regardless of the choices I make in the future with respect to faith communities I choose in the future)

i dont understand what do you mean by what am i interested in? are we talking about as far as service.......the degree to which a church serves the greater community around it....cause that was christ's true mission on earth: service....not that [unspecified faith community]  doesnt do that they do....i just didnt get the vibe is all i am sure if i go back it'll be diffrent. the curch i usually go to is in philly and the expiernces i have there are hard to come by in modern christiandom....i always look to shed my human layers so i can reveal myself to the creator...that just didnt happen for me at [unspecified faith community] .

In the end there I didnt intend on saying that much about what it was I was trying to say but I did. I feel like I went over; but it felt right so I let it flow through my fingers :) And if the hands are conduits of the heart then I guess I did well. Now back to this idea of man revealing himself to the creator, to in turn see and be seen. There is a Hindu theological term for this  I learned from a religion professor at IUP back when I was in college; it's called puja

Wikipedia defines puja as making an offering of gift to the likeness of a practitioners chosen deity, but this is not the definition I recall from my time in the classroom so long ago. But what I do recall is Dr. Mlecko defining  it as "observing god, and being observed by god." Pretty comprehensive definition wouldn't you say? So the link attached to the above is a better definition than what Wikipedia has to offer.

I participated in a ritual something like this when I went to Philadelphia during Holy Week; at the church I specified in the above email. The service was in observance/celebration of Holy Thursday; the night Jesus shared the Last Supper with his disciples. Having been raised Baptist I had never been to one of these, nor had I heard of it. so the sermon was good, brief and to the point but it was the ritual that tugged my heart. I received communion, and had my hands (in lieu of feet, it's faster and more sanitary) ritually washed by the clergy of the church. 

I guess the point I am trying to make is the places we place ourselves, can make us more or less open to what the ethers have to tell us; or what we have to tell the creator. i think sometimes the things we hear coming from the pulpit serves as an asset or a detriment to our proximity to the divine on the holiest day of the week. I know for me when I hear certain buzz words or phrases I am totally taken out of orbit with the divine, and back on this terrestrial plane with humans. To me places of worship should be ethereal elevators to the heavens to meet the creator, so we can share our joys and sorrows; and thank the creator for the opportunity to frolic in his creation. Like the ladders that Jacob saw angels descending and ascending, or the creature that Mohammad rode on his Night Journey to the Holy Land church should be just as exhilarating.

I wrestle with elements of the 'human condition' that I cannot grasp all the time, this isn't what drives me to church; cause Lord knows I have taken my fair share of extended leaves from the presence of the Almighty. But when I am in front of the creator I usually make it a point to shed my skin in the presence of God. I am not quite sure what happens in these moments. I will keep what I remember of these exchanges sacred, this is why I have chosen one faith community over another.    

Monday, April 9, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

Oh all the places I'd like to go on this earth in my lifetime (before i go to my TRUE home) from the majestic Wats of southeast Asia to the vistas on the northwest  of these United States there is not place I'd rather be than the Streets of Philadelphia. I love home and everything about it. I love to see my hometown grow and evolve from the place it used to be when I was a child to the place it has become in the 21st century.  A stroll through Rittenhouse park is a glimpse of heaven, and nothing I have seen to date quite compares; in the way of ordinary city folks fellowshiping together in a common city place. Ahh and the heart of West Philadelphia; what more can a man ask for; I don't think that place can ever get too hood for me. Muslim brothas pushing their intrusive fragrances on every other street corner; and the smell of black and milds in teh air. It's no paradise but it's familiar to me. The kind of familar honeybees must feel when they return to the hive to drop off what they have collected from the fields and medows. Damn I love home. Marveling at the West Philly's fresh new back drop forces flashbacks of the 90s in my mind's eye. I'll miss you when I leave, and come back when I am good and ready.   Being a wall flower in that mosaic is more than I can ask for. Flying S's whizzing past my head, and the aroma of street vendors cooking up their urban edibles for metropolitan on teh go is what I miss the most when I am in my new home on the other side of the state. While a slower paced; and a more amiable crowd I do miss the fire that comes from the folks here in Philly. It even rolls off the tongue beutifully: Philly.

My real purpose in coming home this week was really to get back in touch with my heart; that being my nuclear family and my church family whom I love dearly. In their own ways they help me put things in perspective. All the time spent alone, or more properly 'away' i lose focus and call out of orbit from my heart; or maybe better put my true center. The transition to Pittsburgh for me was more of a way for me to expand myself. and as we all know growing isn't always the most painless experience in the world. Evolution is even more excruciating than growth. All things considered I am glad to have had the chance to be back, and I look forward to returning to the steel city in a few hours. Go Flyers!