Thursday, July 29, 2010

Claudette Colvin: Unheralded Civil Rights Activist

I just finished reading Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice. Colvin was a teenager who would not give up her seat to a white woman on a Montgomery, Alabama bus nine months before Rosa Parks did. Colvin was roughly handled by the police and arrested.

What made her do it? After learning about her constitutional rights in school, Colvin was fired up. As a teen, she didn't understand how adults could continue to live with the kind of treatment black Montgomery bus riders experienced. The spark she lit did set the eventual bus boycott in motion, but Colvin herself was for the most part unappreciated. Black civil rights leaders didn't feel she was an appropriate representative. Over the years, her story and participation in the court case that led to the end of bus segregation in Montgomery has been overlooked.

Since this book was written for young readers, its main theme is about a teenager who spoke out and made a difference, although she was overlooked. One reviewer notes that even though it does not shy away from saying Colvin was left out, the book treads carefully when it comes to Dr. King and Rosa Parks, two of the big names in the Civil Rights movement.

Even if the book has a limited scope, so many details that get left out of the abbreviated version of the story of the Montgomery bus boycott really enrich my understanding of history: things like the way Colvin was ostracized for taking action, even more so when she adopted a natural hairstyle and later had a child out of wedlock; the transportation system set up to as an alternative (with used cars bought with donations and people turning over their car keys so their neighbors could get where they needed to go); and the white woman who wrote a letter to the editor in support of the boycott who was threatened, ostracized and killed herself a year later.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm on the List

While I was up much later than I should have been cruising the internet superhighway, I clicked on a link to a blog post to find that I was actually mentioned in that blog post.

It is with great pleasure that I announce my inclusion in Spleeness's Funny Twitter Updates, vol.2.

Friday, July 23, 2010

We, The Pizza

Everywhere I turn there is a temptation to challenge my quest to make sure that my shrinking clothes don't get any tighter. Tonight's opponent: We, The Pizza.

Yeah, sure the newest restaurant venture from that guy who was on one of those chef shows that I never saw, is all about oneness and equality...and yeah, I went by there, thus I set myself up, so it wasn't exactly a fair fight.

I'd heard that there was supposed to be a soft opening yesterday, so after postponing plans with a friend, I thought I'd stop by, grab a slice and go home. When I got there, people were outside eating pizza and the door was locked. But those who were eating were kind enough to tell me and a few others who were puzzled that Chef Spike (Mendelsohn, of Top Chef fame) was opening the door to let people in a few at a time and that everything--pizza, pop and beer was FREE. That was all I needed to hear.

I was tired and hungry, so I didn't think to take any photos and all I have is that lame clip art pizza slice. Some people took photos with Chef Spike, but that didn't interest me.

I tried the Sicilian and the Roasted Potato Pancetta, along with freshly made "I Love You Long Time Lemon Lime" soda that had real fruit slices and basil in it. When I asked for mint, the soda jerk (who was quite friendly) explained that this one called for basil and then went on to tell me about how great it was that they made the sodas right there and they could make all kinds of unique flavors (so why'd he nix my mint?!) That aside, he did a great job practicing his fresh-made soda sales pitch on me, even making mention of Spike's other restaurant (Good Stuff Eatery).

Metal pizza pans in varying sizes adorned the one of the walls, along with stylized photos, including one of a DC soup kitchen.

On my way out I thanked Chef Spike himself and he asked if I'd liked it. I told him the Roasted Potato Pancetta was amazing, but that the Sicilian was not so great. He said they didn't have any Sicilian. I described and then pointed to it. That jogged his memory. He explained that he thought the round pies were perfect, but that the other ones he hadn't quite mastered and that Sicilian is an art in itself. He didn't even seem boastful in his claim about the round pies and seemed genuinely frustrated about the Sicilian. Being an artisan of any kind does require at least a dash of perfectionism.

"You're doing better than me," I said.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bathroom Humor (an episode in which I channel Seinfeld)

Now I'm not really into bathroom humor. I don't like to talk about the bathroom and I like talking in the bathroom even less...

So I went to the bathroom at work today and put a ring I was wearing in the pocket of my blazer. I made some wrong move though because it flew out of pocket onto the the stall next to me.

I could see that it was right next to another woman's foot.

I froze for a few seconds. My instinct to grab it seemed wrong because I know I wouldn't react kindly to a seeing hand appearing from the next stall. And as I said, I don't want to talk in the bathroom either. And it didn't seem smart to try to wait until I exited my stall and she exited hers.

Then I told myself snap out of it. This wasn't an episode of Seinfeld. I spoke and we both laughed and laughed. She pushed the ring my way so I could pick it up.

And when it was all over, I saw that it was the big boss, who fortunately has a sense of humor.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Parting Words or Fare Thee Well

The other day at work I heard a man at work on the phone grilling his teenage son about his plans for the day--whether or not the son was wearing the father's clothes and what time he was leaving to go somewhere. "Dear old dad" signed off of the conversation with the words, "Be smart."

When I was a child, my mother's parting words to me as I was on my way out the door were almost always, "Be good."

I found it interesting that a man would tell his son to "Be smart." However, I don't want to be overly simplistic about gender differences, and say that of course a man would tell a male child to be smart and a woman would tell a female child to be good. After all, I don't know anything about this man or his son.

My real take-away (and I do not blame my mother for this) is that there have been many times when I would have been smarter if I hadn't been so concerned with being good.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Overheard at the Office: Affectionate Insults

"When people come to my desk, they sing."

"Could it be that they're singing so you don't have the opportunity to speak?"

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I Can Bring Home the Bacon...

Not too long ago a fellow blogger who lives in Congress Heights said she was not returning to our local Giant because it was just too much. I responded that this was too bad, but I did understand. As much as I want to put money into the neighborhood, I don't always shop there. Still, it is good to live near a supermarket because if I need something I don't have to go too far to get it.

Yesterday, I was tired and with a high of 100 or so, I didn't want to go too far. I had some time off and wanted to try a new recipe that require bacon that I did not have. So I ventured out and the drama began in the parking lot.

Two men dressed as women were causing a commotion and of course didn't care. One had on a bustier and one had on a bra. While they conversed loudly about something that only they understood, people in the parking stared and talk about them aloud. Near the door a woman loudly lamented that one of the men had such smooth, pretty skin, saying how unfair it was.

Inside I was greeted by a chewed up chicken bone in one aisle and spills in other aisles that had been left, but frames with caution cones. As I waited in line, a man knocked over something else and yelled loudly , "Clean up on aisle nine."

When I got back to the parking lot a rep for some obscure mayoral candidate had set up shop right in front of my car. It wasn't until I got in and turned on the engine that he and the man he was speaking to decided to move.

But, hey, I had my bacon.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The African Presence in Mexico Exhibit Leaves the Smithsonian on July 4

The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum has a great exhibit on the African presence in Mexico and it is leaving July 4. So if you're nearby, go check it out.

Even if you are not nearby, you can take the Shuttle Anacostia to get to the museum and to the Fredrick Douglass National Historical site.