Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My name is Dera and I am a bookaholic

My name is Dera and I am a bookaholic. Is there a 12- step program for those of us who cannot stop buying books? Probably so, there is something for everybody. Well, I better join and quick. One of my sister members in my online book club, APOOO- http://www.apooobooks.com/, lamented today that she is a bookaholic. She spoke of the excitement, the giddiness of holding a book in her hand of one of her favorite authors, and then purchasing it, and the joy in knowing she now owns it. Many of you are very familiar with the feeling; I need not explain. Have you ever walked into a bookstore and felt like you could spread wings and fly. That is the feeling I got walking into the new Borders in Alameda a couple of weeks ago. It is huuuuge. Two large floors, wall-to-wall books. Time got away from me as I became engrossed up on the second floor, buried in the colorful travel and cookbooks. I even ventured over into the inviting children’s section, planning holiday purchases. And then they had the nerve to put a Peet’s Coffee cafĂ© over in the corner. Grab a cup of gingerbread cocoa and a book on a late fall day; it just does not get any better than that.

Are your shelves bulging with books and overflowing off of the bookcase? Are books in every nook and cranny throughout the house? You have a problem. If you cannot locate the book you are reading (because you carry it from room to room), are you yelling at someone, “Who took my book?” Even when no one else is there? Then you have a problem. If someone gently suggests that maybe you should have a garage sale or take your books to the flea market or church fundraiser, are you mumbling under your breath, silently cursing that person, who only means well and is really concerned about you? Do you look at them like they have two heads and act as if they asked you to give away your first born? You got a problem.

Despite the dismal economic outlook, are you still sneaking books in the house? Sure, I have made a half-hearted attempt to go to the library and make use of my library card for something other than videos, but it is 3 to 1. For every book I check out, I am purchasing three. And don’t let the book be unavailable? That’s it, Amazon.com, here I come. I have a problem. But those same people also enable you. They are always giving you book gift cards for birthdays and holidays. Every month, after I order a pile of books, I swear this is it, no more until next year, and then I do it again, claiming just one more. I have a serious problem.

Well, they say the first step to recovery is acknowledging you have a problem. I acknowledge it. But I think the purpose of a 12- step program is to rid you of your damaging vice. And when I think about it, I guess there are worse things. After all, I got this honestly; I inherited it and it appears I have passed it on-- to an extent anyway. So, it is 1:00 am and I’m still up wondering what I am going to get with this Amazon.com gift card someone just sent me. Let me see, I only have 1,250 books on my wish list. I have a serious problem. Somebody stop me!

My name is Dera and I am a bookaholic.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Black Republicans. Who Needs Them?

Black Republicans. Who Needs Them?

I have wanted to write this column for three months, but I did not trust myself to say the right thing the right way or even the wrong thing the right way. I was trying to keep in mind a blog I had read regarding writing about political views that admonished bloggers about getting personal or indulging in name calling. That is why I have remained silent. But two days before the most momentous, historical election and one of the most outstanding, if not THE most outstanding occasion in U.S. history, I feel compelled to just let it out. In the words of our guest pastor today, Rev. Mark Wilson of Oakland, California, if you need to make a stand, JUST DO IT.

I do not have any need for Black Republicans. If that sounds blunt, it is meant to be. Let me explain. My grandmother was a Republican; southern born and raised, she was proud of the fact that she was able to register and vote. If she was still living, she would be over 100 years old, so what does that tell you? The Republican Party, at one time, may have been the party for blacks but it has not been for a very long time. But even though my grandmother was a Republican, she understood that she was black first, or in her words, Negro, and that race trumped party affiliation.

I agree with a local columnist who said that the majority of blacks are overwhelmingly conservative in some of their views. In California we are voting on a controversial measure, Proposition 8, which would ensure gay marriage. This is one that many black folks have to agree to disagree on, but that is a whole other story or blog. Because black people highly regard their church and religious views, sometimes they get the thing all mixed up. Based on a religious organization’s poll, black churches in Ohio were urging their congregants to vote according to this guide. http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=5386e
My God, have they lost their ever-loving minds?! Don’t fall for the okey doke black people.

I also do not have any need or respect for smug, rich or wanna be rich black folk who are so self-centered and have self-serving agendas by voting Republican because people like Donald Trump do so. In their quest to be in the company of those who make the multi-million dollar deals or desire key appointments, they forget from whence they came or from whence their ancestors came. I remember back in the 1980s when the Amway pyramid was all the rage, many black people who were in that business said they were changing to the Republican party because that is the party of the rich. Come on black people. Again, don’t fall for the okey doke.

We are not a monolith, you say. You are so right. That is my mantra; we do not all think alike, we don’t all like the same thing, have the same view or values, or talk the same talk. Should we be one party? Nope, that is not what I am saying. This is a free country and everyone has the right to choose who they support and how they vote. What I am saying and I hope it comes across, is just like my grandmother, if you are a Republican, does not mean you vote Republican. There might be a Republican worthy of voting for but it sure is not in this election. I’m saying, THINK. Think about the issues, think about how those issues affect black people and realize that a vote for the Republican candidate is not the way to go.

Most of us tuned in to the Republican convention—if only for a few minutes. It was overwhelmingly white and frankly, most of them like it that way. They kept showing the same few blacks over and over. Cindy McCain even brought an African woman onstage, her friend she called her, to demonstrate that they are “We are the world.” Not buying it.
When I see a black Republican on CNN embracing the Republican ticket, they look silly to me. They look and act like puppets. One guy even had the nerve to say that Obama running for President is a conspiracy. ??? They look like they are singing and dancing a tune for Mr. Charlie. Yeah, I said it, it’s a coon dance. Paraphrasing Kanye West here, “The Republicans don’t like black people.”

Well so much for trying to rein myself in and trying to adhere to good, political blogging etiquette. Believe it or not, I did not write near about what I truly wanted to say. But I’ll leave it at that. I have had a good day at church and the sun is shining after a blustery, cold downpour of rain on Saturday. Whew! Glad to get this off my chest. Wish I had done it months ago.

*See a likeminded opinions