Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Heart's Broken

Despite the best of intentions, I just haven't been able to blog lately. Work, stress, writer's block, I don't know, but I'll get back to it soon I promise.

But right now, I'm hurting y'all.

My Mother passed away on Sunday.

I've been enveloped by an overwhelming sadness and grief that comes at me in waves. I just can't shake it. I'll tell you my story one of these days, after which you'll understand why I'm going to miss this saintly woman so much. And why I really haven't quite figured out how I'm going to reasonably move on without her presence in our lives.

I am now left without both parents and grandparents on this earth, and find myself at 40 years old rapidly becoming one of the elders in my family. I pray to God that I'm up to it when my time comes.

Mama, I love you, I miss you, and I cherish every day I had with you. Thank you for giving birth to me. Thank you for everything you instilled in me, and for the love, care, and sacrifice you made for all of us. Thank you for being my Mama.

May you rest in eternal peace and bask in the glory of the presence of the Lord.

You deserve it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Good, Swift, Kick In The...

I know, I know. Our blogging has been pretty infrequent as of late. I could offer up the usual excuses; busy, tired, brain lock, etc., but I won't. I think I've just been a little lazy for the past couple of weeks.

Wait a minute. Alright, it's full disclosure time. I actually received an email from Menopausal Mick, late of The Llama Ate My Flipflops. Mick basically told me that "Hey, some of us come here to your blog because we value your opinions. You kind of screw that up when you don't post for days at a time."

You know what Mick? You're right. Consider that kick in the a** duly received. And since you delivered it in such an eloquent manner, I'm going to include some excerpts from your email and my brief comments here in this post as a starting point towards catching up.

MM: What do you think about our fella (Barack Obama) voting for FISA? Are you going to do apost about that? I'm pretty steamed that he rolled over on this issue.

DP: Well, I think I will do a post on it, but for now, I think it's pretty sad that Obama and so many other Democrats rolled over on this issue. The rights of the individual have been sold down the river in support of corporate and so-called *national security* interests. I also think that the progressive folks might want to transition from the rock star adulation of the candidate and start holding his and other Democrats feet to fire as regards the party platform. There are only a couple of months left to shape the agenda.

MM: On another front, I understand why he's talking about faith based initiatives. He's used faith-based before with great success in Illinois. I still twinge at the blurring of separation of church and state but at least he's proposing an initiative that is all-inclusive of religious flavors.

DP: Agreed but I do think he's treading a thin line with the faith-based stuff. Some people looked at that whole Bush administration initiative as a good thing, but others of us saw it as a very effective way of splitting the Black community, and the Black vote. The Repubs only need a tiny percent of our votes to move into their column in order to win elections. Faith based initiatives effectively did that for them in the last couple of cycles by silencing many preachers who received the money. Besides, most religious conservatives are not voting for Obama no matter what, so why pander? His faith seems to stand on its own.

MM: OK, I guess what I'm asking is: Were we right about our fella or were we fooled
into thinking he'd defend the constitution and put things back to a more constitutionally sound government? Whatcha think, DP? Am I gonna get my heart broken?

DP: I don't think Obama will be a disappointment, but I do think we're all gonna find out he doesn't walk on water, heal the sick, and feed the masses with a few loaves and fishes. He's a politician. I do think we all need to look at what the alternative to him is in this election. When I do that, I jump back on the bandwagon pretty quick.

MM: Oh! and what's up with Rev. Jackson? Don't you think he's mainly just jealous of what is obviously a crowning of the new guard. Obama doesn't fit anyone's stereotypical template. It appears to me that Jackson is both jealous of Obama's success and missing the spotlight.

DP: Regarding Jesse, the old saying goes that an old bull doesn't give anything up to the younger one. He has to take it. I think that's what's going on in this case. Not to mention a terminal case of stupid. I mean, how could you not know, as an "activist" that the microphone is most likely on when you appear on Fox News, apparently for this exact reason. Sheesh. My feeling is that Jesse and Obama will continue to make nice for the rest of this campaign season. But as soon as he hits the Oval Office, it's on again. We'll see how that pans out for the good Reverend. I for one am glad to see a Black, secular leader arise.

So how's that? I didn't hit everything (the New Yorker cover, etc.), but I'll catch up on the rest later.

Thanks a lot Mick for the wake up call and being a good friend. I know that removing yourself from political blogging has to be a painful experience. But you know you always have a home here. Maybe we'll make these public conversations a regular thing.

What do you think?

And here is the rest of it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

No Longer at the Bottom of America's Cultural Totem Pole

Since moving to the land of the rising sun, I have had so many people ask me the same million dollar question:

"So, how do they treat Black people there?"

You know, I can't speak for any other Black person living here, but I will tell you that my experience has been an uplifting, truly positive one. What gift has Japan given me that America wouldn't? Well...finally, I can say that I know what it feels like to live life and do business on equal footing as White Americans. Imagine that happening...not in the country of my birth, where my great-grandmother broke her back working as a slave in Louisiana...but half-way around the world in a country that many Americans view as overtly racist.

When witnessing the image of our country through the eyes of people abroad, we don't appear to be 'united' at all. For the most part, America is the land of 'White privilege,' a privilege that comes at the expense of what the American majority sees as its 'minorities.' Oh, now don't get me wrong, I'm not here to stir up controversy. I'm just here to share my feelings as they already exist, minus the sugar-coating. Those of you who have a problem with sensitive issues involving race may wish to stop reading here. Now, for those with the thick skin...
It's the ARROGANCE that gets me. I remember when I first applied for a Japanese government-sponsored job teaching English. During my interview at the Japanese Consulate in Chicago, I was asked a question that almost made me roll my eyes in disgust: "So, Ms. Taylor, as a Black woman, you're going to stick out like a sore thumb in Japan. How are you going to deal with that?" I gave the answer I felt they were obviously searching for, i.e., sharing my culture, exposing Japanese kids to a positive experience with foreigners, etc. But I was thinking all the while: "You arrogant, IGNORANT fool!! How dare you even ask me that question? I managed to survive life (and rather successfully at that!) all these years as a Black woman in the South without being 'broken,' so why would Japan be all that different?"

It was never me, the Black woman that they had to worry about. They should have been worrying about the racially 'privileged' applicants who were suddenly going to have to figure out how to live life abroad as a minority. Many White westerners I have known leave here hating my second home.
Trust me, it's not's the bitter taste of racism and oppression. For me, life tastes far better here than it ever did in the United States. Imagine that.

The arrogance didn't stop there. I've heard it many times since from Whites whenever they hear me speaking Japanese at an airport and automatically assume that I MUST be stationed on one of the military bases in Japan. As if a Black person can't be here on any other kind of business. Mind you, I'm not knocking those in the military, but when White Americans say they live in Japan, the next question usually is: "Oh, so what do you do there?" For us Black folks, it's almost always a military-related assumption.
I see very bitter arrogance on some faces when I drive by in my convertible Alfa-Romeo Spider (imported from Italy). The looks often ask the same question: "So how did SHE get THAT?"

Sadly, I can sense the blistering arrogance in some of their hearts every single time I return to shop in the States. If, at first, I'm not followed around in the stores, then I'm totally ignored as a Black female shopper in favor of my Japanese friends (whom they automatically assume to be filthy rich!). I called one lady on it after she ignored me while I was looking around in her section. My friend came over and that witch almost broke her neck jumping over the counter to help her. After she figured out that my friend wasn't going to buy anything, she turned to me with a nasty little smile and offered to be of assistance. I smiled back; calmly informed her that I make 4 to 5 times what my friend does and that I'd be paying for all of the things that I had found in her section at another register. I ended that fading smirk on her face with one last comment: "I just LOVE commission, don't you!?" Then I exited majestically...better than any 'pretty woman' ever could. You could say I had the walk of a queen going on.

You know, my 15 years here have definitely shown me that I'm a confident, determined, capable, passionate, intelligent Black woman. I won't lie down to be trampled on by anyone.

Now, to end this heavy topic on a lighter note that will leave you smiling: when I worked in the elementary schools years back, my 1st graders thought I was just another Japanese lady who hung out at the beach to get a tan every day. I LOVED their innocence and the unconditional way in which they cared for me. It's that kind of love that we adults can learn from.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Texas Progressive Alliance Round Up

Round up time. Here are some posts you should've read last week from the Texas Progressive Alliance.

South Texas Chisme got what they were asking for - a spotlight on the Webb County Sheriff's race. BlackBox Voting's Bev Harris has asked for relevant auditable materials.

CouldBeTrue can hardly wait to find out what happened.
WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the "rail-rage" that's hitting Central Texas, Rail, Rail, Rail - Do It Right, Not Fast.

President Bush hasn't seen Russian President Medvedev since his 'election' to the Russian Presidency. Last week, he had his first opportunity to look into his eyes. Check out McBlogger to see what he saw.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos tells the chilling tale of Goodhair and the Fire at the Governor's Mansion. Governor Rick Perry didn't light the match, but decisions laid at his door certainly made things a lot easier for the arsonist who did.

The Texas Cloverleaf
examines T. Boone Picken's Plan to save us from evil oil men and move forward with greener energy.

Texas Senators Cornfed and Bailey scored a perfect ten in synchronized flip-flopping on the Medicare bill last week, shortly after they and the rest of their Republicans exhibited mirror-image coordination on FISA. PDiddie at Brains and
Eggs has the details.

BlueBloggin sees Maliki making the same mistakes as King George Iraq Hands Out Stimulus Money As Us Shifts Occupation.

BossKitty worries about the consequences of revaluing human life in America Dollar Value of American Life drops - Now What.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that Senate Democrats have taken a strong stance on calling for reform of the Texas Department of Insurance, with one senator even calling for the Insurance Commissioner to be an elected official.

MeanRachel wonders when politics became unpatriotic on July 4th.
Off the Kuff had a guest post from Rep. Pete Gallego about the HDCC and its efforts to reclaim the State House for the Democrats.

was impressed that Ken Leach, candidate for U.S. Congress in CD 26 got good coverage in the Gainesville Register, even though his totally honest quote didn't pass the "smell" test.

jobsangertook a look at the lies being told in a McCain campaign ad in this post.

Nat-Wu of Three Wise Men ponders whether long-suffering American Indians could Bay Area Houston details the record $52,000 fine by the Texas Ethics Commission against State Senator Craig Estes.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dirty Old Man

"In the Congo, women develop quickly, both physically and emotionally, due to the substantial responsibility society places on them from early childhood," Nachman wrote. "In Kinshasa, the vast majority of teenagers are sexually active with men that are substantially older. ... Their main concern is marrying young girls to men with financial stability, a concern dating thousands of years and cutting across cultural lines.

Those are the words 42 year old U.S. Diplomat (and prominent nudist) Gons G. Nachman used in defense of his indefensible act of having sex with underage girls during his overseas postings. And that's not all. It is alleged that he even pressured young women applying for visa to have sex with him, ostensibly to smooth the process for them.

There are so many issues that are dredged up by this case. The sexualization of children, for example. Or stereotypes about the promiscuity of women and girls from "other" cultures (read, non-White). However I won't get into all of that right now.

U.S. prosecutors are seeking a 20 year maximum sentence in their case against Nachman, and suffice it to say I hope they get it. Our reputation around the world has been tarnished enough during the past 8 years. We definitely do not need to send the message that our diplomats are above our own laws, based on their "perceptions" of foreign culture and norms.

Because the fact remains that no matter where in the world you do it, its still child abuse.

And here is the rest of it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Musical Interlude: Old School Friday - Old School Hip Hop

Happy Old School Friday! We were missing in action last week with the 4th of July holiday, but we are back. Today's theme is Old School Hip Hop, and having literally come of age in exact the same time frame as hip hop, there's a couple of ways I look at this.

First, if you consider the old school stuff to be the original hip hop from the late-70's and early-80's; groups like the Sugarhill Gang, etc. The other school of thought is that anything older than a X amount of years is automatically old school. Which direction to go?

How about both. For our first pick today, here are some of the pioneers of hip hop, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, with The Message. A message that sadly still applies as much today as it did back in the early eighties when this song came out.

And for our second pick, here's a rapper who was known for his rivalry with LL Cool J back in the day, and he was very popular in his own right then. I think LL ended up having the last laugh because he's basically still around and Kool Mo Dee has long faded from the scene. Here is Kool Mo Dee with Wild, Wild West.

Hope you enjoyed, and don't forget the rest of the Old School Friday crew.

Electronic Village - Chatting Over Cocktails - Ms Grapevine - Quick - Marcus LANGFORD - Cassandra - Danielle-Lisa C -Chocl8t - DP - Kreative Talk -MarvalusOne - Regina - LaShonda -AJ - Sharon - Invisible Woman - Believer 1964 -Dee - SJP - sHaE-sHaE - Songs In the Key of Life - Shawn - Hagar’s Daughter - freshandfab - Creole Pimp - Wonderland or Not

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Still Not Packed? Might As Well Move To Texas - Part II

I told y'all you might as well move to Texas a couple weeks ago. One of our blog buddies took our advice and moved to Arlington. 38,932 more of you moved to Houston alone, which according to the latest Census Bureau report, is one of the fastest growing cities in the country.

While New Orleans had the biggest percentage growth (mainly people returning post-Katrina),
Houston added more people than any other city in the country. And it has plenty of company from other Texas cities.

— Texas cities showed rapid growth: Houston added the most people, with 38,932 new residents; San Antonio, Fort Worth and Austin were among the top 10 in numerical increases; and McKinney, Denton and Killeen were among the top 10 in percentage increases.

And if that's not reason enough for you, how about this?

Texas is king when it comes to doing business. That's according to CNBC's just-released ranking of America's Top States for Doing Business-2008.

The Lone Star State unseated last year's No. 1, Virginia, which fell to No. 2. Rounding out the top five are Utah, Idaho and Colorado, in that order. Texas ranked 2nd on last year's list.

So to all of you newcomers and those of you on your way, the only advice I can give is that when you're looking for a house to buy or rent, pick a quadrant of town and stick with it. Preferably close to your job or business. Or near your friends and family. Trying to search the whole city is a fools errand, and a drive across town down here is a day trip.

Also drive like you mean it. For example from
19 Rules of Driving in Houston;

Under no circumstances should you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you no matter how fast you're going. If you do, the space will be filled in by somebody else putting you in an even more dangerous situation.

Finally, as the Joe Horn case should have demonstrated to the whole world by now, you should always assume that anyone you're talking to down here has a gun and is not afraid to use it. In fact, they might be downright eager too.

Other than that, welcome to Texas!

And here is the rest of it.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tony Chase Joins Team Obama

Team Obama just got stronger in Texas. Houston's Tony Chase has left the board of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank to devote more time to the Barack Obama campaign. From the Chronicle:

Saying he wanted to focus more attention on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, Houston businessman Tony Chase announced his resignation today as deputy chairman and director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

I've known Tony for years, and he's one of the most successful Black businessmen here in Houston. In the country in fact. He also teaches law at the University of Houston. But that's not the reason I'm happy he's joining the Obama campaign.

Instead, I'm more pleased because I know Tony's work as a philanthropist and his support of programs and efforts to bridge the technology gap and support technology education. The photo above was taken at an event last year where nearly 100 refurbished pc's (one guess who did the refurbishing) were distributed to low income individuals who completed a computer education course through a nonprofit effort that he founded.

In other words, while he has a knack for making a lot of money, it's not all about the money. His heart is in both worlds and I think those character aspects will serve the Obama campaign well.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Introducing Angie-in-Japan

I'm originally from Florida but have spent the past 15 years working in Japan; seven years as a teacher in the public school system and eight years in the Japanese wedding industry. I am very active in the professional basketball circuit here in Japan, and am now planning on building a health-centered B&B (focused on organic food, exercise, massage/detox and natural healing) near Niigata City, which is located on the Japanese Sea Coast.

When I first came to Japan, I was FAT, at least by Japanese standards. Anyone peddling weight loss products in this land of wafer-thin women is bound to make a killing in a land where 'thick' people have a hard time finding clothes, can't fit into Japanese-designed train or plane seats comfortably and find it hard to say 'NO!' to Japanese hosts who plop mounds of food on their plates when they visit a home (as if all foreigners eat THAT much food in one setting). Some of my foreign female friends even refuse to go to the beach here, mainly out of fear of being harpooned by local fishermen.

Naw…that last one was a joke!

But Japanese women are, for the most part, pressured to weigh around 45 kilograms (99 pounds). I find that too unflatteringly TINY for my taste since I want to keep those devious curves that GOD has undoubtedly blessed so many of us Black women with. But not at the expense of losing good health. My mother lost a leg to diabetes and I'm doing all that I can to keep both of mine. We embrace the thought that we are 'big boned' and many Black women, in my opinion, use that idea to keep holding on to unhealthy weight. I thought I had those big bones, too, until I pulled a muscle in my back while moving furniture about 11 years ago. I went to a Japanese doctor who took x-rays of my spine. I was ANYTHING but big-boned. The x-rays showed that my spine was actually about 1/4 smaller than that of an average adult spine, so he suggested that I take some of the excess weight off. I did and now feel and look so much better as a result. Still got my curves going on, though!

At 41, I am finally coming into my own, and I love the healthy version of the woman I am transforming into. It feels like some long, overdue metamorphosis that was not encouraged in the Black community when I was growing up. I know the importance of keeping my body healthy. I gladly accept that I am worth every bit of 'trouble' it may take to cook a meal or commute to the gym. Here are some other things I do to keep my health in check:

Get annual check-ups and diabetes test (AIDS test included; easy on x-rays)

Eat fresh food: I buy organic, local produce whenever I can. You won't find too many boxed or canned foods in my home

Soymilk only: research shows about 90% of Asian & 70% of African people are lactose intolerant

Chew each mouthful of food about 30x before swallowing: colon cleaned once a year (sorry if that was TMI for some of you but I feel it is vital)

Go to the gym 3-5 days a week: focus on biking, walking and weights. I plan to start waking up earlier to get my morning walks in; nightly walks starting soon

Buy a vegetable or fruit that I have never eaten each month. Vegetables = 50% of my meals, fruit = 20% rice/soup = 20% and meat at 10%

As for meat, I eat fish and other seafood about 99% of the time

Drink a gallon of H2O a day - mostly before, during and after exercise

I rarely use salt to season, preferring the natural taste of the foods I eat to that of seasoning and high-fat sauces

I take supplements, especially those with extra iron and calcium, to ensure better health

I do not take medicine

My regimen includes a few other things, including only putting what I need to eat on a plate and when I'm full, I STOP eating. No more forcing myself to eat everything on the plate! Leftovers are snacked on later. I rarely go back for seconds. I do not go to all-you-can-eat restaurants. Though it may be a bargain on your wallet, it's terrible on your thighs and waist!

In Japan we have a product that works to draw toxins and poisons from the body. I use this on my food to take off pesticides. I use a similar product made specifically for human consumption that helps clean out my body. This has done WONDERS for my appearance and skin tone.

Also, my hair (which I now have in locs) is growing like I never thought possible. On my 3rd year of growth since I did the India Arie thing and "...cut it all off" and now it's down the middle of my back.

I heat my bath water to 37 degrees (C) and sit in the tub for about 45 minutes nightly. (I'm lucky, as our tubs are computerized.) I’m trying to take fewer showers and more baths.

I stretch first thing when I wake up and right after saying my prayers before going to sleep. This has helped me to become more limber lately. Also, I get a massage once or twice a week. This has also done wonders for my circulation.

I don't let stress fester inside of my body anymore. I address problems in a civil manner. I take drives or sit on the beach when I am emotionally drained. Sometimes, I need to get away from everything Japanese...which often takes me to Singapore.

Oh, and last but not least, I pray to GOD for health and strength. Great meditation… Anyway, here's to becoming and staying healthy. Until next time, when I'll share a little more about Japanese culture,

Stay blessed!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Blog Tune Up

As you can probably tell, we've been tinkering under the hood a little bit during this long holiday weekend.

There... Already needed a face lift, so we're in the process of experimenting with a few designs and layouts over the next few weeks. The idea is to brighten things up, and organize our information a little bit better to make the site easier to use and more visually appealing for all of our fine readers.

It's a work in progress, but please let us know what you think. Even if you hate it.

We've saved the old template, just in case.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Birthday America!

No blogging today, we are otherwise occupied.

There... Already hopes everybody enjoys the holiday.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Another Beef Recall?

Are you kidding? Another beef recall the day before the 4th of July.

No it's no joke and I'm not kidding. According to an article in the
Houston Chronicle this morning, Kroger (which is the nations biggest traditional grocery store) has recalled it's beef in now at least 20 states, because the beef has been linked to E. coli bacteria contamination.

According to the Chron,
532,000 pounds of ground beef that was produced between May 16 and June 24 could have been contaminated, but personally speaking we all know better than that. As I mentioned earlier this week I watched 15,000 angry protesters in the streets of South Korea that don't want our beef, but according to our own grocery stores apparently we don't even want our beef either.

I called and spoke with a woman from the United States Department of Agriculture who couldn't give me a list of any "definite" states affected by the recall, so what I've done is compiled a list of from the articles that I read. The other states included in the recall are: Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, New York, and Pennsylvania. You can click on Arizona and find many of these states listed, and she named New York and Pennsylvania directly. I'm still trying to find the last three.

By the way, the others stores included in the recall are Fred Meyer, QFC, Ralphs, Smith's, Baker's, King Soopers, City Markets, Hilander, Owen's, Pay Less,and Scott's
This type of recall isn't anything new. In fact I posted just a few months ago when Cargill Inc. recalled 1 million pounds of beef for the second time in a month due to E. coli bacteria contamination.

ut it seems we will never learn.