Father’s Day

Continue to cover me that I might go in peace. Continue to keep my lifted that I might go in spirit. Keep my name on your mind when you go to God next time. I need you to cover me” James Moss, 2006

I woke up grieving as I prepared coffee Sunday morning. I held court on the couch for several minutes feeling trapped. And then it hit me like a speeding 18-wheeler delivering goods to Wal-Mart. I miss my grandfather. I lost him in 2009. Then, time stopped indefinitely and subsequently blended together. I think I was living with my mother when God called him to the beyond. I had told him about some horrible event that occurred and he told me: Just watch yourself. I remember him saying: “I’ve been waiting for you. ”

He had been waiting to see me that last evening in 2009. Now, every father’s day since then… my grandfather seems to have never really left.

I had a church service to attend. And I was terribly stuck in grief. Usually, I’d get up and march straight to the shower after my alarm goes off. But I waited for the coffee to make. I powered the TV on and stared into it as though some sort of cryptic message would interrupt MSNBC’s AM Joy. Maybe Jonathan Capehart would tell me to get off the couch and go rattle some chains.

If you ask me about my father I can remember him. He’s alive. He’s easy to find. But it’s my grandfather who I’d choose if given the choice. My grandfather shared with me a love of reading. He read his Bible, his newspaper, and loved books. I think somewhere in his room he owned a law book as well. My grandfather introduced me to Sunday School commentaries because he found that I liked the expanded versions of scripture lessons. My grandfather would always make sure I went to the library. He never complained about picking me up or dropping me off.

When I felt angry about something and didn’t feel connected, I could always depend on my grandfather to share current events with me. We used to talk for hours about corporate mergers, old money versus new money, and politics. High school was hard for me but my grandfather never let me give up on myself. He was determined to help get me to summer school when my grades were crappy. He resisted shaming me when everyone else around me was saying I was just another disabled boy with no future.

And he seemed to love me in the subtlest of ways. He made it okay for me to be a nerd. I think if he were sitting next to me, he’d ask me why I haven’t registered for graduate school. He’d ask why I haven’t moved out of the town I’m living in. He’d ask me why I had pointless arguments with so many stubborn, obstinate relatives. He’d say to me lovingly: Did you think you’d be able to change their hearts with your rebel yell? Don’t you understand that analyzing them only makes them resent you more?

He’d laugh at me with that whistling sound I used to hear. I wouldn’t miss the low murmur of his television when he’d watch every newscast and C-SPAN broadcast ever on a seemingly endless loop.

He’d pat me on the back and say: Why didn’t you save your energy? Have you not learned from my example?

How do I end this entry? I’m afraid to do so. My grandfather flows through me like water. He suffuses to my memory like evenings in front of my aunt’s old floor model television. I was happy blinding myself watching Vanna White turn all those letters. Papa flows through me like a ride in a Cadillac Deville or Lasalle. I felt alive watching the green numbers on the digital speedometer increase and decrease.

It will have been a decade in August 2019. I really cannot say how I’ve remained reasonably kind through the stress of these years. I’m asking God to forgive me in advance because grandpa cannot pull us together anymore, like only he had.

He always told me to be humble. And it’s a fight trying to follow his advice. The selfishness and strife I see around me has reached epic levels. We yell and scream and protest and clown. I sometimes have to remind myself that what I see isn’t fiction.

I still miss my grandpa. I don’t think I’ll ever truly forget him. He never made it to my two college graduations. But I believe that he must be watching over me. He’s got to be… because I don’t always have the strength. God must have my Papa assigned to look over us.

I have to hope he’s proud of what God allowed me to be. I have to hope that there is more giving I must do. I have to hope that Grandfather George is an angel somewhere keeping me alive. Thank you God for the years I had with a wonderful man that was my mentor. He will always be a part of my heart.

To me… a father isn’t the one who gives you food and shelter. Any person can give you that. A father is the one man who helps you build eternal eternal capital: patience, humility, forgiveness, tolerance, a good name.

My grandfather gave me eternal gifts… gifts of true Christian life. And maybe that’s why after almost 10 years I haven’t rushed to forget his memory.

Rowdy and Bawdy

Someone asked me today if I plan to attend “Pride”. The answer is an inconclusive “No.” If human beings learn by association and experience, I have many different reasons why my association and experience with a Pride celebration in Louisiana might never happen again this year. I live in Baton Rouge. I’ve visited Lafayette. I’ve poked around Bourbon and St Ann. Yes, I’ve gone to New Orleans to “see” the spectacle. But I’ve never had a moment during Pride that made me scream: “This… now this is where it’s at.”

The last time I actually enjoyed anything remotely related to Gay Pride, I was drunk and lonely. Being drunk and lonely is something I can experience right in my own living quarters. The rowdy and bawdy cast of characters that I’ve observed at Pride celebrations only made me feel self-conscious. I’ve gone to support friends, associates, and others.

And each time… these few report that they enjoyed it.

I guess I cannot get this image of “rowdy and bawdy” out of my head. That’s how it feels when I think of “PRIDE” as a party. I can make up my own party. I don’t desire that wave of nervousness I get when same drag performer doesn’t notice me in the audience. I don’t need any aloofness and numbing when seeking to ingratiate myself with an endless loop of Barbie and Ken types that won’t give me even greet me.

I have too many tally marks in my mental notes when it comes how often I was left mid-dialogue sitting alone. No one is going to ask me why I’m actually there. No one will care about who I came with. I can only think of two Pride occasions when I actually had a conversation that lasted more than five minutes.

Why get that Jack and Coke or that Bud Light if the purpose of “Pride” is marketed as the grand slam connecting experience that just falls flat? The artistry of Pride celebration has never actually been a beacon of “connection” or “presence” for me.

I support GLBTQIA rights even though the order of the letters change. I didn’t know that some people believe that the “L” not coming before the G was perceived as hurtful when observing the relevant power of the MeToo movement.

I am a supporter of healthy same-sex and same-gender relationships, because I see each member of (said community) as a person that I have to get to know before I get stuck in judgment.

But there is only so much sex and sexuality I can discuss before I start losing brain cells. Sex, Sexuality and Gender Identity are totems of study for GLBTQIA immersion. And I’ve actually gotten bored hearing the same kinds of stories from the same kinds of people.

When you have a healthy amount of pride in something, you should feel connected to it. You should feel included in the conversation about it. You should feel like your opinion about that something matters enough.

I’m glad that people can support their gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered loved ones. I value that people are sharing that love with each other. I guess I feel less connected to the atmosphere that “PRIDE” advertises because there are still so many things about it that have let me down. Sure, support a friend or family member. But if it’s you… and you’ve never felt welcomed and you were always suffocated and thought of as invisible why fake your way through a party that seems so neurotically bombastic and so casually rancorous?

I guess I’m still not totally convinced that gay youth have all the proper supports they would need to develop into powerful, passionate, loving gay adults. I guess I’m rendered speechless when I look at how the gay community is struggling to address the one sided messaging that gay people come in only “white and white-ish” colors and identities. I guess I’m still wondering what happens to the men and women who don’t frequent the drag joints, strip clubs, and speakeasies—and know they are gay.

What happens to them? Who are their idols, mentors, and contemporaries? And what has truly changed since the tragedy of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. Have Americans properly addressed how the concept of “gay pride” is really satirical for some given that Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen are two sides of a media landscape that still markets the gay community as a “club of others”, rather than a complex and fractured group of people. I’ve noticed how the black community and the gay community are common in their style of shared community. I gawk at how the same points of entry are not always the best point of entry for newer generations. How many pieces of fried chicken does one have to eat before the black cards are issued? How many drag performances does a gay man attend before he’s one of the “members”?

I know those are cliche’ examples. But can anyone see how predictable these cultural norms get after years of watching the same revolving doors?

I have much more to understand about gay pride. I have much to still know about African American pride. I have more to uncover about “PRIDE” in general. I can’t go around celebrating something all willy-nilly if there’s all this allegory hidden deep within that keeps giving me nightmares. I think too much. But wouldn’t you rather a person that asks relevant questions, than a simple brat that just did everything everyone else did with any true purpose?

I’m proud that I’m lucky enough to support my gay friends and still ask tons of piercing, authentic, sobering questions.

I’m proud of that. And I’ll choose that until I’m satisfied. Because some people connect to communities to forget, to go offline, to fantasize a life outside of their own. I connect to gain access, to build relationship, to discover some unknown terrain.

How Many Times?

I recently downloaded Kalesha Brown’s “How Many Times (Remix) from Amazon’s digital music store. I’ve listened twice in the middle of de-gunking my grandmother’s car. Brown sings:

“How many times am I supposed to cry thinking about what’s happening to me?”

When we think about the passion we invest in a connecting relationship we end up asking, how many times?

I’ve been asked many times why I don’t have a life partner yet. I’m consistently questioned, almost harassed by people who know me.

Why haven’t I committed to a lover yet? Why am I not engaged? Why am I holding off on dating? Why do I only have friends or simple intimate pleasures?

The answer is found among the lyrics in “How Many Times”.

The song paints a palette of lingering desperation. Listening to her plea, I remember the collected, desperate attempts I’ve made to connect with people. And I grieve.

I never truly allowed myself to see bad, toxic patterns. I was so invested in helping them feel needed, wanted, and happy. I never understood how their lack of care damaged my spirit. It’s similar to that “New Rules” song by Dua Lipa.

I’ve had to learn not to let people in. When you’re extroverted and kind, no person is a stranger. Every one is a person you can let in. Surely, they all will devote as much effort to you as you give away.

I’ve given time to men and women who are so self-absorbed with their own stories, their own positions, that they fall short in truly grasping how much I’ve supported them.

I’ve supported family members with money I didn’t have. I’ve purchased gifts with funds I could’ve invested in myself. I’ve fueled cars that don’t come visit me when I’m in distress. I’ve poured coffee for jerks who paid me lip-service only to insult and malign my compassion. I’ve been the cheerleader and therapist to grief-stricken idiots who act as though my efforts are less important than their own ego. I’m still kind and still there. And rarely is a sense of gratefulness reciprocated after the person finished getting my assistance. And I still help PEOPLE because it’s a vocation. It’s a character thing. I don’t know how to be truly manipulative. It’s not in me to be that.

My question is: How many times?

How many times do I get hurt before I take care of myself?

There’s a concept called “relational trust” that I learned about when I started reading the “Boundaries” series by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

They basically state that “relational trust” is a social trust in which a person can be relied on to “handle with care” an emotional or psycho-social tender point while in relationship.

The person with great “relational trust” is able to demonstrative a supportive empathy when their friends or family members share a painfully, trauma experience, and need feedback or encouragement.

I learned that we cannot expect a person that doesn’t have relational trust to not shame a person struggling with trauma. When you get the message that your traumatic feelings are silly, basic, or weird… the person you’re vulnerable to is not in a good enough place.

So when Brown sings about “giving others every piece” only to experience loss and isolation, she is sharing from a place of immense suffering.

How many times will we process the pain of abandonment over again?

Some of us never find the source of the pain. We invest our money in shiny new appliances, fancy new cars, a high-stakes job, a higher education commitment. We believe that achievement can shield us from a loss that only heals when the sufferer decides to confront the heart and soul.

As a disabled adult, compassion is something that I easily give away. Spiritually, I am often committed to helping those in distress. That call is central to why my work in library and information science is still rewarding after nearly two years.

Through my work in the Humanities, I slowly shifted my thinking from “how many times” to “fewer times If ever”.

I learned that human beings will tell whatever story suits their best narrative. They will cheat the kindest person out of valuable time if they feel threatened enough. They will manufacture a story where the facts should be. This will happen as often as is necessary because human don’t always face their deepest fears with the right medicine.

So, it’s pointless to believe that you can love a person into facing hard truths. You cannot. How many times will it take for a woman to understand she’s probably not dating the right man?

The answer is: As many times as it takes for her to learn to place a higher value on herself.

How many times does it take for a gay man to stop choosing a man who looks aesthetically pleasing but has the wrong values? The answer is: It might take a lifetime. How long is the person suffering willing to wait for that man to grow? Who really knows?

How long would it take a disabled man to admit he needs therapy? Maybe never. We cannot depend on emotional vulnerability and the giving of our whole self… to change stubborn people. Some people are literally too self-absorbed to care about how much you’ve given them.

Apostle Paul wrote that love is patient, kind and unselfish. But if we’re honest, we have to be selfish some of the time. We can reverse the desperation and pleading of “How Many Times” and re-frame the question with consistent effort.

We can say that until a toxic friend sees my value… I’ll limit what I share. We can say to ourselves: I’ll be more introverted and less extroverted if that means I can sleep peacefully at night.

We can hope that the person we love matures. We can support them in more calculated ways even if that means calling them a little less than we used to.

We can change desperation into development. Against my will, my English degree helped me learn to be an analyst. And I consistently hunger for meaning. The heart and soul has to be broken before it matures. When people share their lives with me, they reveal experiences. I empathize.

Through that empathy, I’ve evaluated my worth and changed where I invest my energy. Sometimes I am still haunted by the shadow of my old happy, idiotic self. The self that let people tell me that I never had a choice in where my life went.

I was the joyful idiot that loved hanging off status-driven people. Now, the goal is real connection, authentic sharing, grateful people, and understanding gray areas.

I don’t ask myself how many times… I ask myself where is the real story? What are they really saying with their actions, motives, and feelings? When I do this, I am forced to face my human limits. And only there do I emerge… determined to see spirit and heart over surfaces and emptiness.

Some say that I’ve changed because I ask more questions. But if I had a nickel for how many times I’ve been shamed for my personal changes, I could put a down-payment on my own home.

How many times have I doubted my worth ? I don’t have a countable number. But the one thing I’m sure of: I listen well and often. And I’m constantly powering through old triggers. And I’m done worrying about how many times I say “No.”

I’m done hurting myself for praise. How many times will I analyze patterns? As much I feel obliged to…

I question my own patterns… so it’s unreasonable to think yours are off-limits. Humans hunger to be understood, accepted, and included. I’m recovering from how many times I didn’t acknowledge that hunger in my own soul. I am done believing “everything but the truth. ”

Note: Bold lyric in first paragraph refers to “How Many Times” , a music track by Kalesha Brown. The track is available at all music retailers.

A Memorial day…

How do I feel about Memorial Day?

It depends on what picture you want me to paint for you. Should I paint you a picture of the July 4 WASP Independence Day-style party in which some Western looking guy complete in stars, stripes, and camouflage regales some war hero who sacrificed his or her life for my freedom to not care.

Or should I celebrate family members I know who fought in the armed services that died… who although their sacrifices were great no one speaks of enough? Because the fact is: I often get Memorial and Veteran’s Day confused!

When plans are orchestrated, someone is always sharing a melodramatic story of some bygone era that I’d like to forget about. Maybe, I’m too concerned about the mental health crisis, the “opioid” crisis, the “black people dying for stupid reasons” crisis, and the “being college educated and never seeming to have enough money” crisis.

This holiday is going to be marked with a family gathering complete with those I haven’t seen and don’t care to see because facts state that none (or mostly none) of these visitors who are converging have actually engaged in my significant day to day life.

I’m perched on a hardwood like (bad for my back) chair typing this. I should probably celebrate the memorial of the first day I could sit in this chair without my tailbone and lower back aching. Now, let me visit Google, Bing and Yahoo to get some data about what emotions memory should elicit. It is not like I have a written account of anything people actually faced.

Isn’t this why writers exist? So that those that died while serving could be adequately accounted for? But I’m in a generation where it would seem that people in their 20s and 30s don’t value their histories, let alone understand how said “histories” contribute to repeating them in contemporary life.

I want to know how people have affection for a holiday when the media landscape conflates its meaning so often, to so many.

For many African-American people I know, Memorial Day is the perfect excuse to ghost those individuals and groups known to get on their “last nerves.” My experience dictates that Memorial Day is the time we seek our family out because it’s the start of summer, the month of graduation gatherings, the start of fall planning season, and the dawn of beach combing time.

Did I forget about spring cleaning? Is it that time too? I know that each summer before my fall session at Southern University, I read and wrote like I could never run out of inspiration. I had not discovered Goodreads yet. So I would compile lists of books to read and process those texts as an act of cauterizing my anxiety and depression about how complex and daunting that HBCU was.

I had gotten so good at doing this that I didn’t see how my emotions changed from one time to the next. I didn’t spend Memorial Day having that nostalgic feeling. I actually spent it in re-evaluation, appreciating my growth. With my growth, comes a feeling of persistent suffering that no family gathering can fix overnight.

If I can remember anything, I’ll remember how I’ve changed and how I’ll never go backward.

A Real Mother For Yah

When I experience Mother’s Day as an aging adult with a disability, it is daunting. Daunting is the closest word I can think of without sounding like a miserable bigot. When I envisioned Mother’s Day in my mind, I believed it would be fun to remember and revisit the connecting moments that bond mother and son, grandmother and grandson, daughter and mother, aunt and niece, nephew and aunt. But it would be too right for things to go according to my plan. 

Mothers are women. And women are queens on their holiday. And their holiday is an expression of sisterhood. Forget my dream that has mothers regaling us about the connectedness, warmth, trauma, stress, joy and worry of their collective parenthoods. We instead get hastily planned events.  Events in which mothers don’t talk about their experiences with their children from a past perspective. No. 

Mother’s Day resides strangely in the contemporary realm. Most mothers don’t want to think about who they were when they had their children. And if they did. We have to coax them into telling us this.  But I understand the idea. Most mothers are simply happy their children are living and thriving. If you’re a black mother, you’re glad that your child hasn’t been killed while sitting at a traffic light. 

  As l gathered with two conjoined families (my sisters and aunts cavalcade of mother, children, and relatives) I internalized the stories about family drama, mutual friends, and savored the laughs I shared with sisters, cousins, and other outliers. 

God told me to zero in on the mothers who were there with us. And it was only then that I understood that our lives are feeble collections of meaningless tasks. Most of us are exceedingly boring. We rely on events and exceptions to make us feel worthy. But we are all just people trying to make sense and purpose out of experiences that are mundane as hell. 

When I looked critically at the women I was surrounded by, I realized that mothers, especially my beautiful black mothers are worried about staying alive, giving life and lessons to all those around. 

There is no DISNEY rated G way for a black mother to tell her black child that everything is going to be alright. But it is that mother’s job to do everything to instill hope in the heart of her babies, who grow into adults … who hopefully go out in the world with something moral and unique to share with the world. 

I thank my mother for not sugar-coating this world for me. I thank her and all black women for showing me how to take a torpedo and turn it into a rain cloud. 

Maybe I didn’t get the Hallmark greeting card version of Mother’s Day I wanted. But I did get the privilege to say that many of the women who shaped me into the man I am are still alive making change, making sacrifices, and fighting battles. 

There are those that have lost their mothers. For those such a day is filled with sadness. But having a living mother is far better than having to visit a mother that sits lonely in a mausoleum or graveyard as God’s withering earth becomes shelter. 

A mother is hope, compassion, and also pain. But your mother is also a expression of you. So love her while you’ve got her… because you don’t know when her time might be up. 







Truthful Hyperbole

It is “truthful hyperbole” if you’re a man that doesn’t acknowledge that you have (or have had) some enmity toward the opposite sex. Hyperbole is to over-shoot, over throw, or over complicate a reason, conversation, or idea. It’s a real exaggeration to ignore this bias completely if you’re determined to see women as only sensory, pathological people who you only regard with subservience. If we examine the Creation story in the King James Bible, Eve doesn’t get a great deal.

The “mother of creation” is painted as a scapegoat for the real error that Adam made. A loose interpreter could state that Adam “blamed his wife” because he “valued her” as an extension of himself… to be his “fail safe”. We could suppose that because Adam loved God he believed he should say: “You’re my wife… protect me. ”

We could feel that Adam should have pressed harder against Eve’s conclusion about the “forbidden fruit” because Adam knew better. But he just said: This wife you gave me… I believed her.

And of course, God (although he had mercy) was like:

Too bad, Adam.

From that simple story in Genesis, we should conceive in our minds how men and women are known for their own unique brand of “truthful hyperbole”. We all tell partial and incomplete stories about many things. We all have been victims to our egos.

So, Eve curved her enthusiasm about that forbidden fruit. And Adam might have exaggerated his role in the tragedy.

He blamed God. He blamed the beauty of Eve. But he never really blamed himself.

No. Not really.

If I’m not wrong, Adam’s entire human generation was later obliterated. Since Christians are supposedly descended from Abraham through a new covenant… I just think that…

We can’t expect women to protect men from their own stupidity unceasingly, because women are people too. And women get vulnerable, tired and fed up with how much stupidity the people around them tolerate. And women naturally care until you’ve hurt them so much that they cannot stand to care completely.

So what is truthful hyperbole? It’s a bridge between truth and facts. It’s a social behavior that CNN’s Don Lemon spoke about from “The Art of the Deal” when he critiqued our current U.S. president.

Either you appreciate the exaggeration POTUS encourages, or you think he’s quite a sociopath. But he is culpable and he’s the President of us all… whether we like it or loathe it.

“Truthful hyperbole” is NOT all that new, though. It happens when a person shares with you exaggerated ideas that sound factual. These ideas sound like the greatest song you’ll ever hear. Unbeknownst to you, many parts of that song are missing. But the song soothes your soul so wonderfully, that you’ll move on and ignore the subtle cloak thrown over the music. It’s like when someone tells you you’re gonna stay at an excellent hotel that has “a room with a view”.

But reality answers later and you observe that the room with a view… was a room overlooking a sewer plant. The view of the sewer plant connected to an over-sized linen closet with a Murphy bed. That’s how exaggeration works. You expect something like class and you actually receive misery.

My truthful hyperbole was something like: I don’t have a disability because Sam told me that “disability” was an affliction that white men gave me because they “hated” Sam.

Now, I really admired Sam. Sam and I were like blood brothers.

(Note: Sam is not a real person. He’s a fictional character that I’m using to make a point.)

Because I like Sam… I believe Sam. And for a few years, I threw common sense out and borrowed Sam’s theory that my arthritis and back pain was this spiritual affliction that I had allowed myself to believe. I looked up to Sam. Surely, Sam wasn’t committing “truthful hyperbole.”

I manufactured in my head a story that said: Sam was right and whites were not to be trusted. Isn’t that just ignorant? But that’s how an exaggeration works. All we need is a small batch of fake or loosely edited information to propagate a lie. But I had to learn from experience how to discern facts from fiction. I had to ask more questions and keep silent before I understood just how to spot when situations were exaggerated.

I had to realize through experience that we do not judge one group based on one person’s pain, or one community’s dead skeletons. Another person’s experience may not reveal every piece of the narrative. You have to engage your own curiosity . You must excise your own thoughts about the conduct of another person. You can’t really stand on hearsay and gossip especially when it comes to hyperbole. It is possible to exaggerate so much of one’s life… that the sum of it all becomes more FICTION than fact.

See, I don’t hate the president. I can’t hate him because there are people with the same complexion the president has—minus the orange bronzer—who don’t ridicule my disability. These people are Caucasian. Hating the President would be turning my back on my religious faith and the many non-African American people that have been fair to me.

But I do hate the idea of “truthful hyperbole”.

I hate that it’s possible for people to pepper their conversation with rigorous amounts of “best and greatest” just so they fool a bunch of angry, hurting people.

Ok. Maybe, I hated when 45 won the election. Perhaps, I wanted to see a woman win because the women I’ve known have always had to bail us men out. Many of them didn’t have the luxury of “truthful hyperbole.”

And I hate the American trepidation toward powerful women who are business minded.

I admit even I have exaggerated many things in my life at one point in time to pretend to be “formidable”. The thing about exaggeration we have to admonish is:

Some curve-balls boomerang and hit you in your face. We’ve got to be careful at the stones we throw, the bridges we burn… the vengeance we exact… because one never knows how one curve to the left or right veers us off into destruction or perdition.

When we use our feelings to make all our decisions, It’s easier to practice self-deception. I cannot let anger be my decision-maker anymore. Anger and hate lead to sleepless nights, fractured relationships, brittle bones, substance abusers, complicit betrayers, and self-aggrandized leeches.

And one person will not stop me… from hoping for accountability. Adam and Eve also had Cain and Abel…which eventually flooded us over to Abraham. But we all (the faithful and hopeful) had to work, weep, watch and wait.

And those words are no exaggeration.

What I Actually Thought of Beyonce’s Homecoming

I pulled up Netflix keenly aware that there is no wisdom found in building opinions about anything, using a mix of random reactions generated by an edited and clearly biased, Facebook feed.

About six minutes into my viewing of what was essentially a “documentary concert”, I realized that much of “Homecoming’s” success hinged itself on a whirlwind concoction of hip gyrating, daisy duke wearing, yet African-American marching band culture.

There is much to be gleaned from the sheer longevity of the high-hat section in siren songs like Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”.

If you’ve ever listened to the song you know what I mean. You’re sitting down just daydreaming about something cool and suddenly you’re snapped in half by a thud of drums, bass, and sax. From there, you just want to get up and dance. Or in my case, you want to step lightly and jiggle your baby fat. While I was reminiscing about how much fun that song is, I got sad.

I flashed back to the time my now deceased uncle questioned me about attending the “Greek Show”. Then, I was a student at my family’s alma mater, Southern University. That’s not to say that all my relatives chose that school. But SU is so crucial to our family’s identity, that there was a time when I had planned to avoid that school like the plague I thought it was. Just when I thought I had completed my mission, I was admitted there in 2015.

So when my uncle asked about that Greek Show—-this thing where black men and women in frats and sororities step dance and clap—-I got scared.

Was he expecting me to swoon over this just because I loved music and was reasonably competent with a few chord progressions on a keyboard? I don’t know. But I was like: Nah, I’ll pass.

So as I’m watching Homecoming… that is what I’m re-imagining. It’s a glorified step-show band experiment. But also, it’s a long-standing cultural homage to the long career that Beyonce has, will have, and is still having.

I’m trying to swoon over just the idea that these beautiful black men and women are having a “HOMECOMING” on a massive black, Baptist church-hats with grandma, scale. And all I can do as I watch is wonder about how ironic my own situation is.

Beyonce’ launched into “Freedom” and I recalled the grimy set that she and Kendrick Lamar did at an awards show a few years ago. A set that was a like seeing the face of Grendel herself. Her performance was no less of a spectacle on Netflix.

Imagine an MTV production and then magnify that times 100. The viewer sees several horn sections, metallic silver-plated risers, and hand-picked authentic band majors from at least one black college.

I couldn’t analyze the show without comparing it to Madonna. Because Madonna and Beyonce’ have virtually the same stage presence and colloquial signature points. Although they both are very different performers, they mimic each other with very detailed expectations for how a performance’s aesthetic should be delivered to an audience.

So, I wasn’t surprised when Mrs. Carter shared with us that she used more than one sound stage to capture “Homecoming”.

Every pattern, weave, costume, and rendition was timed and tested several times over. I reminisced about Southern’s “Pretty Wednesday” afternoons as I watched Beyonce’ and Big Freedia re-hash “Formation”.

I still don’t get the bang about Big Freedia. Of course, “he, she, or they” are an epic part of New Orleans bounce culture.

But “they” confuse me and some might get upset when learning that I’m a lifelong Louisiana native that truly understands the “Power of New Orleans”. It’s a fragrance. “Power of New Orleans” is my name for the social, cultural, pathological love of the French, Creole, Cajun, black, Parisian melting pot that exists well past the French Quarter and the CBD. No festival can name or bottle how New Orleans just changes people. When people are passionate about a city and have built their lives in it, that city isn’t a place anymore. A city becomes a spirit that transcends location and demography.

“Homecoming” is nearly syncretism when considering its cinematic production. The show celebrates an African-American ideal that is extremely hard to codify. The idea is: Black people (also and especially Black gay men, women) are capable and strong. The show then goes on to say in its own way that “we” (black kings and queens) are also tragically complicated… but full of potential. Such a wonderful message struggles to be seen when it gets lost in rushing waves of messaging by foregone black leaders like Maya Angelou and Nina Simone.

(Yes, there were voiceovers in weird places in the documentary.)

The message gets lost when Beyonce’ has to prove her personhood by performing at Coachella… a mostly white, rich, and very elitist music festival. I am aware of how I sound. How rude of me to be a black disabled guy whose last album purchase wasn’t explicitly black!

Yeah, I bought Hoobastank’s “Push Pull” and not the “Homecoming” music album. I understand how weird that is for some people. Yeah, take my black card away. But all this effort by her has me wondering why she needed to prove that her music should be there, in that space.

Isn’t her husband a business owner? Doesn’t he own TIDAL music service and a slew of other comparable assets? Are we ignoring that red herring? I don’t necessarily see her as someone totally reflecting me. She reflects people that look like me. At times, she comes achingly close to empathizing with my own experience.

After all, I’m black and Creole. I just don’t travel with “hot sauce in my bag.” When she finally did convict me, she was performing “I Care” from her “4” album. The total image she projected here finally let me acknowledge: Oh, she’s a human being.

And truth is: Beyonce’ is best when she’s her most vulnerable. When she asks herself about her flaws, we see her real complexity. She’s a person when she’s sharing her tragedies on the stage delivering lyrics with some shred of real remorse.

I’ve never seen BEYONCE’ live. For me, the questions about the messaging in her art never truly stop. And therein lays my issue. There is depth…so much depth in  Beyonce’s story that accessibility becomes this awkward myth. And how accessible Beyonce’ is matters because I’m a black man that went to an HBCU to study words, art, and ultimately…the stories of other people.

I never find a middle when I come home to Beyonce’. The purpose of her work only lands when I force it. The truth is: I can’t digest it altogether like the legions of people in her beehive. Maybe, the problem is that I read too much. Maybe, I ask more questions than can be answered.

But when “Homecoming” came home to me, I had to force it through a misshapen hole and drive it down the stream of my consciousness with sugar-water. You could say it’s because I’m a man. Or maybe I expected to arrive at a place of finality that doesn’t really exist. But Beyonce’s “Homecoming” earns its “MA” rating and while it’s a blinding force of black culture, it will regrettably send a very esoteric message to people who aren’t “bout dat life”.