Version 2.0

Culture, healing, politics and bullshit - Not necessarily in that order

The general, socio-political and very personal rantings and ravings of a hip hop head from the hood hustling for change... Of himself.

You all know me and are aware that I am unable to remain silent. At times to be silent is to lie. For silence can be interpreted as acquiescence.
—Miguel de Unamuno


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Don't Ever Give Me Time To Think About A Blogpost...

I'm still around.

I'm taking time to get out of boxes, learning to share this massive space with my other half (you should have a child or a mid-sized pet if you have anything over 2000 square feet like we have), making a transition out of the truck (yeah, that's happening) and learning to ride a motorcycle (somewhat, gas mileage is better) with my time back in Chicago.

My other half works in the burbs so adjustment to the city and learning the commute is her current assignment. I think the shear size of both the city and the new digs (hence named the compound) are a little intimidating. There is also a concern about the neighborhood. I grew up in this area (we relocated to the Bronzeville area on the south side of Chicago... Look that up. History, y'all) and I know it well. I also cut my teeth as a poet and musician gigging in places that are long gone. Some are still here, but exist in a different aspect.

The area has a rich tradition of black history and it's currently being gentrified. There are tons of young, black professionals and upper crust blue-collar folk that have flocked here and the change is very visible for me. My wife can't see that right now because in most gentrified areas there is what I like to call 'the nigger element'. It's sad that some folks aren't able to hold on during a transition such as this. Folk try hard to hold on to the old-school values of the hustle that just doesn't work when higher priced real estate, shops and entertainment venues hit a neighborhood. Some folks don't want to give into growth and economic development and shun the change which means in a few months to years they'll be priced out of the neighborhood.

I hate that, but I welcome it as well in some aspects. I have faith in my people to adapt, adjust and make the necessary changes to prosper.

The grime and crime of the big city exists everywhere, I just get tired of pointing that out to my wife. We need time to adjust, me to her adjusting and her to adjust to big city life. It's not hard but I do realize and recognize that she ain't from these here parts and I have to be an ambassador. I was fine with my commute to the Pacific Northwest, but we made a decision to be closer. To each other, to family and to, well... The city.

So we're here.

And because of that, I have to remove myself from the road, but it's cool. After I hang a couple of TVs on the wall and make sure we're wired for the matrix things should be settled. We have 2 living rooms to decorate (upstairs and down) and between furniture stores big and small and with the help of a few items from Ikea we should be comfy in a few days. Well at least at home we'll be, but it starts from there, right? I just need time to let the city grow on my other half, so for the time being, I will be a guide. I'm good at guiding.

Plus I like concerts, shows, sporting events and dining out and Chicago has plenty of that.

Advantage, Hassan.

Oh, and further more... We're working on adding additional residents to the home. All in due time though. No cryptic message here, so stop that. One thing at a time, okay?


I would like to say for the record that one reason that I haven't blogged is because I am a member of Trinity United Church of Christ. Of course I hear the cries of cultism, racism, hate spewing and other isms. I refuse to address this because (get ready) this is utter bullshit.

After reading literally thousands of comments on blogs, watching Fox, CNN, MSNBC, the Posts (New York, Washington and the like), AJC, and the Chicago papers as well as other countless electronic media thingamajigs I see that folks still believe everything they see and hear and are fed by both the left and the right.

I will not defend Jeremiah Wright because he is a grown man and only speaks for himself and not others. I will not disown, disavow or separate myself from him not because he was my pastor, but because I agree 100 percent with the things he said. I will not urge anyone to either read transcripts or watch entire videos because all we need is a 30 second sound byte in order to get true understanding of what anyone says, right?

Never have I seen anyone get questioned for something someone else said under the guise of free speech and/or freedom of religion. I as a black man am tired as hell of having to explain myself to white folk (I said it) in order to be validated as whole when my ancestors built this country off of free labor and never profited from it. I'm tired of these Uncle Tom house negroes getting on TV polarizing things unnecessarily. Funny how certain folks can question someones minister and not even question theirs. Or others.

From what I read and heard, we have a long way to go in race relations. A lot of non-black folk think that black folk are naturally inferior and that non-black folk have to set programs and regulate black folk's behavior in order for us to prosper. A lot of non-black folk think that ALL of our jobs and positions come via affirmative action and are angry that it gives us an advantage. A lot of non-black folk still think that we are a savage people and that they had to give us their god (Jesus included) in order to save us from our own destruction because we know no better.

A lot of non-black folk feel that we have to give up all that is our lineage and disavow Africa in order to not be threatened as Americans. A lot of non-black folk are afraid of Islam, even though Israel and Ismail makes them cousins, Jesus himself was a Jew and Christianity was established more than 400 years after Christ left Earth, whereas the descendants of the house of Ismail were already here reading the Qur'an. A lot of non-black folk that recently came to America in the last 100 years claim ignorance to slavery and wonder why we get angry over being made whole via transaction for all of that free labor when companies like JP Morgan/Chase only exist because of the bankable gazillions made over the years off of the backs of the slave and the Jim Crow regulated black person and they either blend right in or are accepted and can assume the old formulas of gaining wealth when it is hard to get the same deal for folks that have been here, struggling.

A lot of non-black folk think that we support and fund terrorism and never give thought to black folk being terrorized for 500 years via kidnapping, slavery, the KKK and other supremacist groups, Jim Crow, benign neglect, lack of funding of the school systems, separate but unequal, welfare and welfare reform, human control such as the Tuskegee Experiment, change of diet to European standards that cause Diabetes, cancers and the like, the imbalance of the criminal justice system and racial profiling, the theft of labor, music (such as Jazz and Hip Hop) and literature of folks of African descent, the banning of travel and trade to African nations, the support of Apartheid, giving reparations to folks of Jewish, Japanese and Vietnamese descent, the assassinations of King, El Shabazz, Evers, Newton, Hampton Jr. and so on, and building wealth through slave labor and passing it down to non-black families, fraternal orders and friends via stocks, corporations and trust funds as well as teaching hate, separatism and the general belief that we are an inferior people.

And I don't have a right to be hostile?

Black folk never brought up race... But some folks continue to do so.

How in the hell can someone kidnap us, expect us to grow up as a people in inferior conditions and then get mad at us because we're still here? How can white folks (not all, some) get angry and afraid when we speak of race and the issues we have being who we are? With all that America has done to the world via terrorism wouldn't it be expected that that hate be returned? That's why black folks weren't afraid after September 11th.

We are used to being terrorized!!!

If your family didn't own slaves... Rape and beat them... Give them inferior conditions to live and grow. Sell them off when their families expanded. Take advantage financially of slave labor and cheap labor of free black folk's labor... There is still guilt because those families still prospered in a society where it was law to do so. If our people didn't have a voice due to being chattel and not voting citizens how could we have benefited? The government was allowed to buy, sell and trade our ancestors as well and gained financially off of this. The government regulated the law and after abolishment changed laws only to have us still not be heard and relegated us to the back of the bus and so on. So the homes, cars and trust funds... The college educations, union positions and patronage on the job... The standards and practices that brought affirmative action to the workplace was all the advantage your folks had over us.

We can run in the race now but how can we win when non-black folks had the biggest head start known to man?

Today we no longer ask, we get in where we fit in, but that is still a hard thing to do when non-black folk are still eating off the backs of long dead slaves and we cannot get a crumb. So we make stuff up as we go along (like Jazz, Rock and Roll and Hip Hop) and excel at stuff that wasn't designed for us. We create influence through out style, rhythm and flair and try to hold onto it as long as we can, but things like the court systems and community policing skews our trust in the system. The lack of African-American history in mainstream American schools limits the minds of non-black folk and there is disbelief and mistrust (see: Barack Obama) in our capabilities. Patronage still exists. The non-black mindset is still being taught in rural America which means only one thing...

These things have had an effect and currently affect our people mentally, physically, spiritually, economically and obviously socially which means we need to talk... Post haste. We can help you understand. I am not afraid or guilty to talk about it, and neither should non-black America.

This cannot and will not be swept under the rug.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ntimbanjayo Family Roadtrip Update:

Leg One - Friday Afternoon

Leg one of the Ntimbanjayo family road trip finds me at the airport, patiently waiting to get the hell out of the ignorant, shiftless, lazy-ass employee zone.

I swear I could smack the HR guy or gal who hires these folks.

ME: "Can I bring this unopened bottle of water and fruit cups thru the gate?"

THEY: (not looking in the bag or making eye contact) "No liquids past this point, if it's liquid, you can't get through here"

I guess if she would have looked in the bag and actually heard me...

Never mind. San Francisco is up next, and then I get on a plane so small I might get to fly it into Oregon. After my microbrews.

Oh, and don't think I'm sleeping on the goings on inside the Matrix...

Michigan and Florida actually disenfranchised voters a year ago...

Oh, and speaking of Michigan, did Kwame say 'nigger' at the State Of The D?

It's not that Hil is racist, I think not. A lot of folk believe that Barack is a phenomenon. The whole thing is a fluke to have made it this far. No one planned past super Tuesday, that's all. I don't think Geraldine meant any harm it's just some folk think that certain people will vote Democrat regardless of what that party had not done or who represents it.

They really think that this is a case study of a person of color making an impact by enunciating and actually generating interest via a viable platform. Like Shirley, Brother Gregory, Jesse and Rev. Al didn't have one regardless of personality. Some folks just can't believe that a brother can get that far... So this is the response.

Oh snap, time to board.

So far, no one is dead yet. I hope it stays that way. Once we get in the car, that is.



LEG TWO : Saturday Morning

Finds us leaving Sacramento headed east on I-80 to Reno.

We got bigger hitch put on the truck, got the trailer hooked onto it and packed the whole house with the help of a moving company and filled said trailer all in about 3 and a half hours. We hot the road around 9:30 pm Central time and drug the trailer very slowly up and down I-5 thru great elevations, unhappy truck drivers and snow.

Someone was initially freaked out but I'e done this run in my rig before from Vancouver to Ontario California a few times so things were cool. We got from southern Oregon to Sac-town in under 5 hours and since I wasn't supposed to drive this leg but ended up doing it we took refuge in a name-brand hotel (never doing that again, trust me, next time we stay at the Bates Motel... at damn near a hundred bux? Sheeeeeyit. Gotta keep it cheap mane) and I got some much needed sleep.

Now comes the scenic route... CA to NV to the Sierra Nevadas into Salt Lake City. Old stomping grounds and lunch with an old friend and the kids.

So far, good times and good memories to boot.


UPDATE - Wednesday, 3/11

We made it.

After driving to Sacramento to avoid storms and still getting caught in mountain based, foggy snow snafus... Seeing Reno and salivating all up and thru Lake Tahoe... driving thru Donner's Pass (elevation 8000+ feet) and seeing the clouds meet the mountains while driving over the Continental Divide (elevation OVER 10,000 feet)... Stopping in Salt Lake City and introducing my wife to old friends (we crashed at her spot, good looking out Jodi), laughing thru Cheyenne Wyoming and getting stuck for seven hours on 3 inches of ice on an entrance ramp (I did get good sleep while waiting for emergency services... Finding out that certain truck stops in Nebraska serve good non-Mexican made tacos and folks in Iowa drink plenty of green beer for St Paddy's... Introducing my wife to the world's largest truck stop and rolling thru Chicago morning traffic we made it to find out that the keys to our duplex didn't work. The place has three bathrooms and I was holding my pee all the way from friggin' Joliet...

Luckily we called our agent and he was on the scene in less than ten minutes.

I opened the doors, met the movers as they came to unpack our stuff and took my driving ass to bed.

2409 miles in 55 hours. 7 hours of sleep total. My wife didn't even have to touch the steering wheel. The truck could only tow 1000 pounds, the trailer and hitch with our stuff weighed over 2000. I slept most of the day yesterday. My boss wouldn't let me work.

I woke up yesterday afternoon to the news that I have a NEW truck.

The catch... I gotta drive to Olive Branch, Mississippi to get it.

That's why I got an extra day off... I get it now. So I'm back on the road. Chicago to Mississippi in under 8 hours today.

I am a driving ass.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I'm Building Me A Home... Never Mind, We Paid For It

Peace and blessings fam...

Yep, I've been busy working long hours in shorter timeframes in order to take a few days for my other half and I to embark on our third travel adventure. I'm calling this one:

The Ntimbanjayo Family Road Trip - Volume One

That's right shawty... We're driving 2500-plus miles from southern Oregon to the Chi..

We got a home here so it's time to
travel east and settle this house.

Have a great weekend and pray for safety. Pics and video to come when we get home.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Don't Be A Sucker... Sucker!

You're being duped.

You'll be disappointed soon.

Time to leave all of those with personal interests alone and just go out on your own.

It has to happen.

Stop living a lie.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Fighting The Urge... Living The Fight

I don't think I made that last post to make people feel for me or to testify, I was having what I like to call a writing flashback. In my mind, I was comparing then to now.

For me right now, now really feels like then.

I remember how things felt as I was at the cusp of change. I had seasoned myself with those habits I described and even though I knew some of them would take more than others so I pushed on.

In that inception of my life I let bad habit and me falling into the status quo point me in a direction I had problems turning out of. Things feel the same now and I have a strong urge to drink but I haven't and don't plan to.

I look at my wife and look at our moves, stand back and look at the incredible responsibility I have every time I drive eighty thousand pounds and I'm baffled at how numb I am at just doing things. In the past few years I've transformed myself from a single, cubicle dwelling employee living in an oversized suburban condo to whatever I am now. I gave up the condo, sold my just bought car and gave away all of my belongings to go to Utah. When I got there all I had was an army duffel bag full of stuff, a few thousand dollars that I paid to go to trucking school and three people that I spoke to daily to keep me grounded and focused.

In a few months I was driving a truck and actually leased one of those large machines and was driving cross country until I got injured. My lease ended and I went back to Chicago.

Just like that, I was back at square one but things were different. I had no money, no place to stay and no job. It took my sister and brother, my cousin, my ex and a few new found friends to help get me back on track and in that time I hadn't taken a drink to help numb the pain until I got to Houston. The last month and a half there last year found me drinking the equivalent of a six pack a day to numb what I felt was a dire situation for me.

I went to Houston with good intentions and felt like I was duped by those who were helping me. Communication was bad and I had put my tail between my legs and ended back in cubicle land. It was expected of me to do this even though I wanted to get back out on the road and be free. I wanted to be my own boss again. Having that taste of living on my own terms was too much like right and I made bad decisions in where I landed after my injuries and trusted the wrong people so I corrected that, got free and ended up in Chicago once again.

The one person I thought I'd never get a chance to hold court with I married Christmas eve last year. We have known each other since 2005 and I continued to go places and chose to be with people that would have the two of us in different places. I've always known it would be a whole lot to handle fs we were to ever get our lives synced so I never had the idea to pursue her until I got to Chicago last summer. She was one of the folks I kept in contact with as a close friend but I never thought it would be her I would be planning a family with.

But I am.

And knowing of the whole that makes who she is and what she wants... Knowing her plans and dreams and knowing she's planning her life around me makes me feel like I'm cheating her sometimes. I don't know if what I'll do will ever be enough for her and that puts me in a place emotionally i've never been.

I believe if I wasn't responsible for that hundred thousand dollar piece of machinery I'm looking at parked outside my window...

If I didn't care about the folks I drive around all day every day...

If I didn't love to be in the presence of my other half...

If my pay was similar to what I used to earn back in the day...

If I didn't have this opportunity to be my own boss, setting my own hours to have the time to spend with myself out there under just the sun and clouds working on mastering my mind and spirit...

If we weren't planning a family and the ones I call friend didn't give a damn to check in every now and then...

I would be drinking again in heavy quantities. There are times that I wish that I could ingest just enough alcohol to make the pain of progress and the lack of understanding my emotions and the scope of things to come just go away. There are times that I wish I was just numb and non-existent. I would probably add some sort of narcotic to it so I could not be myself. I've opened myself up to so many that have taken advantage in so many situations that required me to be beyond who I am and exposed myself to a few that had ulterior motives just to take a piece of my soul that in some instances when I needed to dig a little deeper and pull a piece of me out to blanket a life situation I thought I can handle it either wasn't there or it was damaged to the point where I had to fake it in order to make it which damaged me ever more.

It's hard to try to cover life situations being damaged goods but there is literally no place to run.

I cannot tell you how I continue to move forward, so I look back to tell myself. It's just sometimes I give y'all a glimpse of who Hassan was before he was Hassan by blogging about it. It hasn't been pretty. I guess me wanting to have a better life and live out the entire story outweighs my desire to be drunk. I'm glad of that. If I were to give in to those urges I wouldn't have anything, and that is one option I absolutely cannot have.