Lupus?! A wha dat?!

Just another emcee who gets free. Vessel of philanthropic vision fueled by theophilic purpose.

Category: Uncategorized

Grief in the time of vaccines

Jeremiah 8 just won’t leave me alone. I use a Bible study method developed by Grant Horner where I read ten different chapters from ten different books of the Bible every morning. One of those books is Jeremiah and I keep getting pulled back into the eighth chapter. It’ll start off feeling unfamiliar, but about midway I realize that it is the same chapter I have been trapped in when I read verse 11:

“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (NIV)

Feels like the whole world is down bad. As a teacher I have worried about my students losing the glimmer in their eyes. My sons, though I admire their strength, have spent so much of their early years immersed in conversations about death that they have begun to worry about my mortality. I got my first vaccine dose yesterday and while it does feel like the light is at the end of the tunnel, I cannot help but think about those who are not here to celebrate. How empty our lives are without them. 

I’ve gone to Brooklyn since I’ve lost my friends. John, my barber, comes to mind whenever I’m on the Jackie Rob passing through Cypress Hills. I went by the barbershop on Malcolm X, food from Natural Blend in tow, and my chest got tight in front of the shop. It was empty, too early for everyone who carries on, and I tried to feel the happier times. The laughter, the theological arguments, the eclectic playlist John curated, all vapors that morning. I thought of Garvey’s first haircut. I thought of Coltrane’s face on the banner greeting everyone who enters Stages. I thought of all the times I thought about coordinating haircuts with Kevin since we go to the same spot anyway. I thought about our very own rendition of Steel Magnolias. A brother in the shop did not feel well and all of these Black men sprung into action. Getting water, helping him to a seat, making sure he was good, ensuring that he was taken care of. The compassion that lives in that shop, that lived in John, is why my chest was so tight that day. 

Early on, in my battle with Lupus, I experienced severe alopecia. My hair fell out without rhyme or reason. After my first flare, it grew back with the same texture of hair I had in my baby pictures. I eventually grew the courage to cut it but was so afraid to rock the Caesars that I used to. I eventually gained the courage and it was a disaster. Former barber, very much not John, exclaimed, “Yuh a lose your hair yuh know! Yuh nuh see it!” I was mortified.

I kept my hair long until I decided to shave my head. I grew tired of barbers who would embarrass me, barbers who would have me out here looking crazy, and just decided I would cut my own hair from here on out. 

After my second flare up, to make matters worse, my clippers stopped working. I got so anxious. I took the day off from work because I didn’t want anyone to see me like this. I eventually took my sons to get their haircut at a spot I’d walked past before on Malcolm X, around the corner from where we lived on Jefferson. The energy in the shop was hospitable to me. I got my sons their haircuts and asked the brother that cut their hair if he wouldn’t mind lining me up. It was the first time I’d sat in a barber chair for two years. The first time after I swore I’d received my last professional haircut. 

Going to Stages became a regular routine. Even after we moved to Long Island, I knew I would bring my boys back to Brooklyn for their haircuts. After a few months of working at my boarding school, I would eventually invite John to come to campus and give haircuts to my students. John faithfully provided haircuts for my kids on campus, bringing a bit of Bed-Stuy to Stony Brook. 

During the height of the pandemic in Brooklyn, I checked in on John to make sure he was aight. I knew a lot of businesses were being hit hard by the crisis but thankfully John and Stages were doing okay. I would eventually take that trip to Brooklyn again in the summertime and was so happy to see the precautions exercised in the shop. Mask wearing, lysol spraying, the whole nine. My last haircut from John was a reminder of who John always was; full of life, plans to continue the growth of his business, a man who took care of his family and community. He talked about wanting to make sure he was always on time for his appointments and I assured him, “Bro, it’s all good. If you were on time but the haircuts stunk, we wouldn’t be here!” We laughed. I left Stages thinking I had a good plan to get haircuts on Friday instead of Saturday, completely unaware that that would be the last haircut I would ever get from John. 

I did not know John for a long time, just a couple of years. There are wonderful people who feel his loss in ways I cannot even fathom. But I do know that I love that brother. A good brother who I cannot believe is gone. I am angry and I do not want to accept it. 

I get why there is a feeling of a light at the end of the tunnel but I hope that as we get out of this tunnel, we do not forget the people who did not get out. We do not forget their families. Let’s honor them with the way we live our lives; taking nothing for granted and living our lives fully. What I know about grief is that it never fully moves out. It may retreat to an unnoticeable room in your heart but wherever love for a lost one is tethered, grief is often found. 

Dem seh war fair een?

Mad?

Mad!

Mad.

Sad?

Sad!

Sad.

Bad?

Bad!

Bad.

Wuss?

Wusserer.

Suffer,

sufferer.

“Ya Man’s a racist” 

Whiteness has ruined you 
Ruined me too 

I wanted to suppose but I know

It’s all I’ve known

Support Youth Summer Arts Camp In Crown Heights

I feel like I am finally exhaling. I am relieved.

This is true in part because I just finished my first year as a Special Ed Teacher. Teaching is truly an exhausting and challenging calling but I feel like the relief I am experiencing right now is tied to the joy I get when I think about the past year.
This morning I sat with Brianna and talked about how this year was a faith walk. Last May, we experienced the birth of Coltrane, graduation from seminary and moving to Brooklyn all within one week! We were running before that time and we’ve been running ever since.
In preparation of our move to New York, we prayed with close friends of ours who were also having a child. (Their beautiful daughter was born a week before Coltrane). We prayed for the health of our children and that I would be able to find employment in the city of my birth.
As we prayed and conversed, my friends continuously raved about their church and how much they thought Brianna and I would love it there when we eventually moved back home. That first Sunday at Trinity Grace Church Crown Heights was surreal. I’d talked about coming home for years but being a part of this church sealed it. We worshipped in a school blocks away from where my family first lived when they came to the United States; a stone’s throw from where my grandfather ministered at Trinity Baptist Church.
I wanted to hit the ground running in terms of involvement. Youth ministry is the foundation of our church. I play basketball with young brothers from the church regularly as part of our “Youth and Family night” program and Brianna and I co-teach on Sundays. It is a joy to be in this community and a privilege to see our mentees become leaders.
Our church has an initiative to provide a Summer Arts Camp to 70 kids this summer. We need to raise $40,000 in order to make this happen. Please visit this link http://artscamp.causevox.com/ and help us serve.
Much love and God bless,
Chris

What We Inherit

This week concludes my summer internship at All Souls Presbyterian Church. It has been a wonderful experience and I am celebrating by uploading my sermons from the summer. Here was my first sermon there called “What we inherit.” I hope it blesses you. Much love.

 

 

Without Works

For Patricia.

 

When does politeness solve poverty?

Can saying “God Bless You” solve a rumbling belly?

Is there solace in your sincerity that you don’t carry cash?

Or is it just plastic?

Patricia asked me if we talk about poor people in my studies.

“Only in electives,” I said regrettably.

(Like my ivory tower tears quench thirst.)

 

I get heartbroken hearing about Chicago’s southside.

Eyes welled up on Newark’s Bergen Street.

But survivor’s guilt ain’t helping nobody live. 

My Mind On Shuffle: Ol’ Time Sumting Come Back Again?!

Dancehall a nuh hip hop. Di ting a get wack.”- Bounty Killer

Although Vybz Kartel’s initial arrest and incarceration were severe blows it felt like dancehall had been dying for quite some time. Too much island pop and imitation of American hip hop counterparts had left the genre severely lacking. As rap knows all too well, nostalgia can be a suffocating prison and many dancehall fans and observers concluded that its best days were in the past.

As a fan this grieved me as I found myself longing for the next big riddim. Dancehall has had solid moments in recent years but none comparable to the last great era in dancehall (2001-2007). That era saw Sean Paul and Elephant Man become household names, birthed timeless riddims like Coolie Dance and Diwali, but was nearly a decade ago and any honest assessment would attest that there was no hope on the horizon.

I found solace in the rise of conscious artists bringing “culture” to the forefront. I-Octane? Sign me up. Damian Marley’s “Gunman World”? Masterful. Chronixx denouncing colonialism and making clean eating fashionable? Dread and terrible indeed.

But dancehall for its intents and purposes was dead to me. No one could supplant the energy Kartel brought to the arena. Artists had their lane but none could be the dancehall hero that Kartel portrayed. In truth it felt like Kartel too was incapable of filling the larger than life pole position he created for himself. Was he merely becoming a caricature? Would he be unable to keep fans attention without further stunts like bleaching and controversy?

The release of “School” is perhaps the last gasp of influence in Kartel’s career. A nostalgia satisfying tune released in 2013 it is full of positive vibes and felt fresh on the heels of dancehall giants Supercat and Shabba returning to the public conscious. Maybe that would be the key. For dancehall to survive it had to return to the roots.

So where are we now? Several mixes and radio shows will show dancehall in the full throws of nostalgia. The biggest riddim out right now is “gwaan bad”, a call back to the “bruk out” riddim featuring a rejuvenated Elephant Man and a diss tune from Mavado to his former mentor, Bounty Killer, that isnt scathing but may be the crown jewel of this particular riddim.

Coupled with the popularity of Answer Riddim 2014, nuh fraid riddim and greatest creation riddim, 2014 well may be the year dancehall gets back on its feet. Dancehall has heroes in plenty supply but with the resurgence of classic vibes one must worry that without exciting young artists doing the heavy lifting, the genre’s late nostalgia is merely a snake eating its tail.

If Dancehall is to thrive it will do so with elders and young champions in tow.

5.13.14 STCDNW

In this episode of STCDNW Di Baddest Chaplain discusses misogyny, celebrating others’ success, and what to do when jokes go too far.

“Songs that can do no wrong” is hosted by Di Baddest Chaplain on the globe, Chris B. Only on #Soundbooth Radio 1. http://www.soundboothradio1.com

Stay connected. @ChrisB06 on Twitter, @dibaddestchaplain on Instagram AND dibaddestchaplain.tumblr.com

New episode of STCDNW. Talking with Donnie Smith, executive director of Donda’s House.

Listen to “Songs that Can Do No Wrong” every weekday at 2pm/6pm (EST) on http://www.soundboothradio1.com

Daily Prompt: What do I believe?

In an effort to keep my writing teeth sharp, I am participating in the Daily Prompt posted by the good people at The Daily Post.

For today’s prompt, tell us three things that you believe in your heart to be true. Tell us three things you believe in your heart to be false.

1. I believe that love transforms.

I wake up everyday further convinced that living in a loving way is the best way to go about things. I don’t want to be out here judging people’s lives or acting like I am better than anyone. My hope is to follow Christ’s example and demonstrate love everywhere. Living my faith has got to be far more effective than attractive words or compelling arguments.  

2. I believe that things will get better.

It’s hard out here for an optimist. I try to see the glass half-full while respecting others who view the glass as shattered. I’ve been really captivated by laments in the Old Testament recently. They teach me that:

  • God is not sick of my complaining.
  • Honesty is a necessary part of my prayer life.
  • We would not need hope if the situation was not difficult or seem impossible

3. I believe that it’s already done.

It’s important to operate from a place of abundance. My lens is completely different when I live with a victorious mindset. I feel grateful, am able to encourage others and am able to understand that adversity may bend me but it is not capable of breaking me. One of the most encouraging words I received in the hospital came from my uncle who told me that “Every challenge we face in life is there to be overcome.” I often ask myself if I am an actor or merely acted upon. I don’t want to live like a victim, God’s got me.

What I think is false:

1. I do not believe that “it is what it is.”

I understand why people say this but it rings in my ears like despair. Like its cousin “It’s all good (baby, baby)” an indifferent cool is displayed but it’s really nihilism in a cheap suit. Even if everyday feels like the same soup reheated, don’t give up. Prayer and perseverance can turn the ship.

2. I do not believe that anyone is worthless.

It hurts me to see folks struggling. Whether they are being oppressed by others or cutting their own noses, it grieves me. How can I enjoy my bread when I see you starving? What can we do to make community contagious? 

3. I do not believe that you cannot have light without darkness.

Balance sounds very attractive and it too has its place. But I don’t subscribe to a worldview that equates good and evil or love and hate. I believe that light always casts out darkness and that we will overcome. 

Brian Mooney

Educator, Scholar, Author

The Nerds of Color

Pop Culture with a Different Perspective

Love Dance Hall

Feel the riddim.

Decolonize ALL The Things

The UNsettling reflections of a Decolonial Scientist

Lupus?! A wha dat?!

Just another emcee who gets free. Vessel of philanthropic vision fueled by theophilic purpose.

HIP Literary Magazine

A great WordPress.com site

Soli Deo Gloria

Follower of Jesus Christ. Disciple. Husband. Clemson Alum. Living life in light of eternity.

David Mura · Secret Colors

Writer :: Speaker :: Performer :: Teacher

Mommy CEO

Working and living the Mommy CEO life!

Pro Bono Pastor

Totally free thoughts from a lawyer turned pastor

Different By Design Learning

Homeschooling Your Unique Learner | Shawna Wingert

Fix-It With Fran

All Things Faith, Family, Food, Fun and more!

black flag theology

a radical approach to theology and politics

Be Coaching

Elevating others to be their best

%d bloggers like this: