Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I know this may sound strange and keep it real, I've said some strange things before. But I'm feeling extra Black these days. I mean, I felt this way before, but lately, it's extra Black. There have been other times, like when I won the Gift of Blackness award in the third grade. That was definitely a Black moment. Or when I ran faster than my peers because, according to my teammate, Black people's muscle develop larger and much earlier. Extra Black that day mostly because dude had his thesis so laid out, I was starting to believe that ish! Feeling Black isn't part of the daily since I don't walk around with a mirror in front of my face. I notice other people who aren't Black and that almost seems stranger to me: it's raining, why isn't his hair curling up? I gave that "you know what I'm saying" look and didn't get a response--what a weirdo! Things like that.

So I know it might seem like an obvious statement to say that I feel like that mirror is being held in front of me every time I step foot in Marin county. Marin is an interesting place. As you enter from the East Bay, you have to pass Chevron oil refineries, San Quentin on the left and the canal (home to the immigrants who clean the houses, mow the lawns, and mind the children) on the right. Next, you go over this hill and there it is, like you just came up on the Emerald City, Marin County. You can spit in any direction and find a multi-million dollar home, with the CEO of some mega-company or super celebrity or some other new money. Your sad face doesn't have to be too sad to get one of them to cut you a check for five figures. Their concern for the [insert one: whales, bald eagle, grass, or wind] is only matched by their concern for the mad obscure village in South America they just happened to visit during their last family vacay to Machu Pichu. I know I sound bitter, but the means-well set gets on my damn nerves, especially when I have to interact with them everyday. They don't make it a secret when they meet me and ask for my pedigree. When I tell them, there response is "oh, okay" and they proceed to introduce themselves. They'll write a check for education having gone to college just to meet their future husband, knowing jack shit about pedagogy, only that their bleeding heart needs some healing.

The one thing that could possibly we worse than the mega-rich in Marin are the regular folk in Marin, the regular middle class folks, with a chip on their shoulder bigger than Mt. Tamalpais. Imagine being the school teachers, grocery clerks, pizza delivery people to the mega-rich, having to interact with their arrogance all damn day. You might sound slightly angry, annoyed, might sound like me. But at the very least, I get to drive back to the East Bay, over a bridge with San Francisco on my right, the Port of Oakland in front of me, polluting the beautiful Bay in between. I've really been bitter for years: pissed off that I have to shop at Whole Foods for some decent food so I don't get some mystery cancer; angry that I have to travel hella far to get my hair products; annoyed that the "Obama is my homeboy" t-shirt only comes in 3X...but I used to have people around me who can share in this...and they aren't in Marin.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I think about my identity these days in hindsight. I imagine working with school-aged young people and watching them develop their own identities would do that to someone. In a meeting with the students of color yesterday, they were creating cross-the-line statements to ask at their next general body meeting. The first statement was "Cross the line if someone accused you of being on financial aid." Some of them started to discuss all the different times this has happened to them erroneously, in a room with students who are actually on financial aid. I asked, "so what if someone is on financial aid--this place is damn expensive!" Real quick, on the expense point, let me give you some comparisons. When I was in undergrad, NYU was the most expensive BS you could buy (and it still is). The high school where I work now costs more than NYU did then.

Back to the story. Some of the young people didn't understand my critique so I gave them an example. When I was a kid, everyone would say that I was Black. My response would be an emphatic "no I"m not!" as though something was terribly wrong with being Black. A more appropriate answer, and the one I use today, is "Yes I am and Black people come from all over the place." It reminded me also of the Dave Chappelle skit with Charlie Murphy recalling his days with Eddie Murphy and Rick James when Rick James kept calling the brothers "Darkness" because they were the darkest brothers in Hollywood at the time (this is before Wesley Snipes). Charlie Murphy's response? He punches Rick James. I thought black is beautiful; what's he punching dude for? And then I remembered the election, when everyone kept pushing, Obama isn't a Muslim, rather than saying what's wrong with being Muslim? Or how we correct young people now when they say "that's so gay"--What's wrong with being gay?

And then I began thinking what messages these young folks of color are learning about what is wrong with their identities. As the token Darkness Adult on this campus, I feel it. All the time. To whiteness and wealth, Black is cool, because they don't encounter it aside from the images on cable. And with whiteness and wealth comes the idea that they have access to anything. So my dreads are just so cool, they have to have them too! And is that a rapper on her t-shirt? I need that t-shirt too! Did she say "what up, foo?" to that other Black kid? I'm going to say it too! I've watched these future CEOs, inventors, politicians get up in front of the entire campus and say "She right there, she my N..." or "I'm fit'na' hit that." While I, Adult Darkness, glance at all of the Youth Darkness (there aren't that many, it takes like a second) and we shake our heads, rub our chins, and shrug our shoulders.

The group leaders of the people of color clubs began the year by listing all of the goals for the year. One stood out to me: I want them to know I am not like the Black kid on the corner. In a class where I visited, I confronted a student: what's wrong with the Black kid on the corner? "He's just ignorant." "Why?" "Because he can't pull his pants up." I looked at his sagging pants as the other students in the class looked confused. I could read their faces: isn't he one of them? They think you're one of them, I wanted to tell him. They notice that you drop the -r at the end of your words. They notice that you tip your hat to the side. They notice that you practice your dance moves at lunch time instead of buying the $10 organic, free-range entree that they did. They notice that your backpack isn't the newest, designer piece on the market. They notice that you take that bus back to Richmond at the end of the day. And they think it's so cool.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Where the heck have I been!?

Dang. Most of my posts as of late have to do with me not putting up posts. So here is another one of those. But you know I love those top ten lists, so here is a top ten of things I have done and learned in the last few months.

1. I've become super homies with RuPaul. I was trying to save a buck and ended up getting another cable provider (they aren't paying me so I'm saying which one). And this new cable provider happened to have a ton of new channels, including LoGo with a bunch of RuPaul shows. RuPaul's Drag Race and RuPaul's Drag it! Everyone say "love"!

2. I'm also into satellite radio now with my super long commute into Richie Rich-ville each day. And I never thought I'd say, but I'm really liking Oprah Radio. I didn't really appreciate all the hype about her season premiere, just watching a bunch of people getting to go on a trip while my ass was on the couch. Not fun. But her radio channel, not so bad.

3. I've renewed my love for Rachel Maddow. She's been doing a lot of great pieces on Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Tea Party. Really insightful ish.

4. And my last thing about TV...what's up with those Salahis on the Real Housewives of DC? I am thoroughly confused.

5. California: we are jacked up when it comes to the governor's spot this next election. I can't stand Jerry Brown. Bill Maher once said that the so-called liberals of today would have been the moderates a decade ago and Jerry Brown is no exception. Trust me, I'm not asking for someone so far to the left that s/he doesn't wear shoes to work and lives in a tree-house in the redwoods somewhere, but dang, can I get someone that will have a NaS vision for the prisons, mixed with a little Moby on the environment (really, not too much), with some Peter Tosh "legalize it" vibe leading to some "border? what border?" MEChista stuff? I mean, is that too much?

6. PhDs...I'll save my commentary for that later. I will say this tough: many of you know I have a weird compulsion that comes up when I'm super stressed out. I start brushing my teeth like a maniac. Yes, it is weird. Currently even strangers are stopping me to comment on how white my teeth are...

7. Babies are the cutest people on the planet. I can't tell you the guilt I have when I think I'm not doing the right thing by my little man. But, I would like to edit a previous point about making your own baby food. Baby daddy does that...and let me tell you, nothing kills baby cute more than what happens when they've eaten too many vegetables. I make this same mistake every day: hey, did he poop? And then I put my nose right up against his bottom. When I'm done tearing up, convulsing, and gagging, he has already added to it. Vegetables are bad.

8. Working up in Richie Rich-ville has definitely highlighted a number of inconsistencies I have with whiteness. For example, I felt that I got dressed up today because I put on my penny loafers with my ripped jeans and hoodie. Some kid is missing school today for a horse show. My response was "what's that?" Answer: Equestrian. Question: Ok....what's that? I feel like not being too in the know on these matters maintains some of my street cred.

9. I've been making fun of Bay Area liberals for so long that I turned into one. Dammit. I was driving the Prius, with my iPhone hooked up, listening to some multi-genre, multi-ethnic band from the city, eating my organic fruit from some farm in Sonoma, with my mixed kid sitting in the back, using my free hand to re-twist a lock that is conditioned with nuts and berries probably from that same farm in Sonoma and I said to myself "look at yourself! Get a grip!" And decided we should have McDonald's for dinner. Had a hard time finding a damn McDonald's in Richie Rich-ville though. Dammit.

10. Upset with myself about becoming too much like the liberals I make fun of out here, I decided to do a clean-up of my iPhone apps. I figured if I didn't whip it out all the time, I wouldn't be such a token, right? I couldn't part with the NPR one, or even iObama or Obama '08 (I need to know what baby daddy alternate is up to). I also couldn't say goodbye to the Huffington Post app or Rachel Maddow. How else would I know what Sean Penn thinks about the world? I'm keeping my Constitution app in case I need to reference it with the cops. Not sure how that scenario will play out but I figure having a digital copy of it wouldn't hurt. Kept Pandora for the indy music. All I could get rid of were the NBA, NCAA, and NFL apps and that was only because the ESPN app has all that. I'm ashamed, people. I need an iPhone addict hotline. Holler if you know one.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Let me first start by saying I know I'm not the flyest player on the block. Don't get all "
V has self-esteem issues" and start posting overly positive comments on the blog. I'm just staying grounded in reality. I know I have a different look but I know it's one that folks have to get used to most of the time. I also know that when it comes to crushes, dude (because it's never women) is usually much older or much younger but rarely in my age bracket. With all that said, I have a real problem with crushes. Men and boys always have crushes on me. I don't really know why--my charming personality or the knowledge that I will beat dude in a race or my lack of make-up most of the time--but something puts the mojo out there.

So one student has been waiting for me after class with questions and debate points. Once, B came to meet me after class and dude was like "how do you know each other" all upset and what not. So the other day, it was sooooo cold and rainy in Berkeley and after class I was really trying to make moves to catch the train back to the 'burbs and dude is waiting for me again after class. And he starts walking with me to the BART station. So I stop and say "you really can't walk with me to the train," and socially-awkward Cal student that he is decides that means we can just stand in the pouring rain and cold and chat it up about African colonialism. I answered one question and when dude was moving to the next question, mad ignoring my shivering, I was like "yo, I have to catch this train" and then walked away.

When I first started my teaching career, this happened quite a bit. I can't tell you how uncomfortable and annoying it is to have a bunch of twelve year old kids trying to holler. Or better yet, when I was doing my student teaching and I was only twenty and some of my students were nineteen, it was all bad. Once when I was teaching high school, one little man said "you're telling me if you saw me at the club, you wouldn't at least kick it with me?" And I said "you don't have a job and you live with your moms." And that did it. I had to bring him down. But when I got into a car accident on the way to school one day and was on the side of the road near school with a flat tire, that same little man did all that he could to help me out.

So I do what I have to do to tone down the sexy, make my jokes less funny, if that's even possible, and act aloof whenever possible. And now I'm off to class...

Monday, February 22, 2010

My (Omar's) Memoirs: Chp 1--Predictions

"My (Omar's) Memoirs" may look like an acronym for M.O.M. meaning she is really behind all this but it's not. I mean, she's cool and all--letting me use her blog, giving me life--but this little player's wings need to fly. I've got things to say, people to meet. And I was thinking about those people, you know, who would be my road dogs when I'm a teenager. I figure if I hang out here in the Bay, I'll be kicking it with some hip hop heads: Max with the Jew fro and Ronni from the Phils. We might even start a multi-genre, multi-ethnic band. But that's if I stay out this way. I'm thinking if I end up in Santa Cruz--if pops has his way--I'll be stuck in a tree somewhere chillin' in a cloud of smoke. That could be cool. I should save some of my teething rings and pacifiers then, in case I start tripping too hard. Fortunately, I'm cute so I can get away with anything, at least now that's the case.

These past few months have been cool. Everything was quite a shock a few months ago. Lots to get used to now. I heard my moms complaining about my poops like I don't have a sense of smell or something. That's when I play with her belly and make it jiggle so we're even.

Omar out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sandino Baby

I've been thinking about creating another blog about baby stuff but I can barely keep up with this one, so why am I tripping.

But I do have thoughts, and they come just about daily, with respect to trying to raise a little person in a somewhat natural way. With capitalism, we often times celebrate the success of McDonald's but a rarely critical of the fatal effects of consuming their products. I say that just so that we can keep this in mind when thinking about baby--these innocent little people who soak up the good and bad quite easily--and the importance of rejecting all the crap people try to sell mothers. So in keeping with what I do best, here is a top ten list of considerations for all us who are new mommies, either biologically or because you know me.

10. Indigenous peoples aren't pushing their babies around in a $500 stroller or putting baby to sleep in a thousand dollar crib. The body is quite amazing in providing all that mommy and baby need to support each other. So yes, this may mean that you catch a glimpse of my chi-chi on the block one day, but dang that breast milk is free and is the best for baby and mom. It even cures most baby ailments. Serious. Smear a bit of chi-chi milk on baby's skin issue and voila! Gone. As far as the wide array of other junk, someone you know probably knows someone who knows someone who has one you can use in the meantime in between time. Or when you get that crib, you can lend it to someone you know who knows someone who needs it.

9. I might have lost a small fortune on creams and oils claiming to get rid of the river map of stretch marks on my belly. Lesson learned. Nothing can be done about those and it's a great way to regulate MILF behaviors such as sporting my string two-piece at the beach/club/grocery store.

8. I definitely had a slight panic attack when my son's fussiness was completely curbed by the wide array of funny-looking creatures on the boob tube. TV-watching to obsession might be contagious apparently. And I have a few letters to write, first to Yo Gabba Gabba. I mean, I'm glad to see the homie gainfully employed but do we have to put dude in a bright orange jumpsuit that's mad tight with the 80s boombox? And why can't we figure out how to make starting the revolution a great topic for young-ins rather than saying "pardon me?" I might say "pardon me PIG! I will not be further displaced by your racist policies" perhaps. It could be a week long series. But that's just me.

7. If you are deciding between disposable or non-disposable diapers, one week of disposables should provide the answer. The amount of garbage that disposable diapers create has to convince even the most conservative Republican that something aint right. I mean, it's a lot of garbage!! There are a number of biodegradable disposable diapers (I recommend Earth's Best and Seventh Generation). But don't depend on those because garbage is still garbage even if one is quicker to break down. And sometimes things are too biodegradable. As far as non-disposables, I really like gDiapers. You can flush or compost the center and keep re-using the shells. Bumgenius is cool but dang if they don't stink after a bit. And regular old cloth diapers work too. Just be willing to change those bad boys frequently.

6. Try the best you can to encourage your peoples not to buy clothes, trinkets, and gadgets for baby without asking you what's up first. I know, this isn't always possible. Trust me, I have a plethora of clothes that don't and won't fit and used teethers that I refuse to put in baby's mouth since no one knows who owned the thing first. With respect to clothes, baby may or may not fit into his size and some manufacturers account for large diaper sizes better than others. You also may not really know as baby will have random growth spurts. And although folks know not to interject their opinion regarding raising baby verbally, I've gotten enough religious books and tees to get the picture. Had they asked, we most definitely could have avoided some awkwardness.

5. Taking a hint from my new homie, Michael Pollan, start baby out right when it comes to first foods. Remember that fruits and veggies are good because of their skins and peels. So that stuff in the jar, pure sugar and no good fiber. Use your food processor, stick your organic apple in it and call it a day. Pay more for better food now rather than the doctor bill for all the diseases we've created as a result of our crappy diets. Babies don't need juice. It's just sugar. Same for a lot of those foods in the jar. Make it yourself and keep the peels on.

4. I've come to realize that the trophy for liberal Bay Areans is the mixed baby. I wanted to slap a number of people before I realized that, including a nurse at the delivery and a bunch of people living their natural foods fantasy at Whole Foods. If Barack Obama and my baby convince you that we've come a long way then that's cool but keep it to yourself. I'm a little annoyed with all the attention.

3. This country needs to work out its problem with nursing and motherhood. I got a whopping $100/month for maternity leave. Obviously, I had to go back to work after a few months only to find absolutely no where to pump in peace so baby has to have formula sometimes. I also can hardly pump since as a teacher, I can't get away for twenty minutes unless it happens to be during my designated break time. I realize now that I should have scheduled class around my pumping schedule but I didn't know what that would be months ago. So I am pretty uncomfortable most of the time.

2. Trust your instincts. You can probably figure it out without referring to some book. And if you want some confirmation, ask your homie.

1. You are always doing something for baby. Don't let anyone tell you that you or imply that you are being a bad mother or ignoring your baby. Even painting your toenails is doing right by baby because a calm, happy mommy is a good mommy.