I am darn near 35 years old and I have decided that it is time to throw in the towel when it comes to love. Love is like the lottery. You should play because there is a chance you can win but you shouldn’t play too often and you shouldn’t have high hopes because the odds are against you. At 35 I’ve spent almost a third of my three decades in a terrible relationship that morphed into a terrible marriage. I spent another third of my life dating one dud after another. During that time, I was often too damaged from the last dbag to appreciate the next dbag who may not have been a dbag but I was too damaged to know.
Dating sucks that way. You want to give yourself time to recover from the last horrible relationship but another part of you doesn’t want to push away a potentially good opportunity when what seems like a nice guy or girl is knocking at your door. So you take a chance (there’s that lottery again) but you make the mistake of having your hopes a smidgen too high. If you lower them too much, you ruin every interaction with what is perceived as bitterness and dysfunction. If you raise them a tad too high you are looking toward the future when the person hasn’t given you much reason to pencil them in for next week. So how do you manage it? How do you walk the line of cautious optimism?
Each time you purchase a lotto ticket, you can’t deny that regardless of the amount of money spent, an investment in hope was indeed made. With dating it’s no different. The moment you invest your time to text or meet at Starbucks or go to dinner or message online, you made an investment in hope. You want to see where it goes and you are willing to spend to find out.
At 35 I’ve spent almost a third of my three decades in a terrible relationship that morphed into a terrible marriage.
Gambling becomes an issue when you find yourself investing more than you can afford because you get a high off of the hope of the payout. Dating? Same thing. Dating starts to suck when we invest more than we can stand to lose (time, energy, love, affection, emotions, etc.) and we keep doing it because we feel as if we are close to hitting it big in the jackpot of love. So we become addicted. We date person after person and keep giving and giving only to reach a point where we have to check our ticket and see if it really paid off. It usually doesn’t.
I have heard many people say that there is someone for everyone and that may be true as the world is a large place. However everyone doesn’t decide to be with the someone that is best for them. Whether that is because they are committing relationship sin that is scorned by so many … the “s word” (settling) or they are simply happy enough and don’t care to seek a greater happiness, the person that may be perfect for you is living a mediocre life with someone else. I believe that’s often the reason why a mistress has such a strong conviction that someone else’s cheating husband is actually her soul mate. Maybe he is. But he isn’t leaving his wife and the timing is all wrong. So they steal away together, enjoying their “jackpot” in small increments in the form of one secretive rendezvous after another.
I suppose in a perfect world your soul mate is a person that is available to be with you without drama. Everything is perfect. But then you are back in the lottery mentality again. Have you ever played and won some money and while you were happy, there was a part of you that wanted the jackpot instead? Why? Because we want it all. It’s not enough to find someone that you can enjoy, you want it to be perfect. You want him to be endowed. You want her to look like that celebrity or ex girlfriend. You want him to make that amount of money. You never want her to age. You want him to actually like chick flicks and not just watch them with you. You want her to shut up and watch the game, cook you a good dinner, and perform felatio during half time. We want them to be around when we want company and be scarce when we need alone time. You. Want. The. Jackpot.
I suppose in a perfect world your soul mate is a person that is available to be with you without drama.
But we covered the reality. The jackpot only hits for a select few who play the game. So if you aren’t playing, you aren’t EVER going to win. If you are playing, you have to invest as much as you can stand to lose. So that means that if your emotions are worth $100 and you only want to gamble $1 then don’t be surprised when you have a lot less than what you hoped for. Also understand that investing your emotions completely and putting it all on the table doesn’t mean that you are going to win or even break even. Remember, it’s all a game of chance. It’s the love lottery. Coming to this conclusion has only encouraged me to throw in the towel. I don’t want to play anymore. I’ve grown tired of increasing the stakes in hopes of getting a higher return. I suffered the consequence of investing the bare minimum thinking I would hit big. I’ve had a few wins and squandered my earnings because it wasn’t “the jackpot”.
So I’m tossing in the towel. If I added up the amount I have invested versus the number of times I’ve had a winning, it hasn’t been very fruitful or even fun. In fact, I realized that it’s just an old habit that needs to die quickly.
Comics have come a long way since they were just for kids – and anyway, those kids have grown up and rightfully embrace it as an artform. Cartoonish Kayfabe expertly walk you through the finer points of comic creation and appreciation, referencing some high quality images along the way. If you’re a comic geek, you will dig it – especially if you’re into 90’s era and independent comics.
It is clear that Chadwick Boseman chose iconic roles like Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, Jackie Robinson and Black Panther with deliberate intent and for a specific purpose. In an age where positive roles for Black actors is often sparse, Chadwick managed to land and portray historical figures that made most respect his talents if not revel in his ability to transition effortlessly for one character to another. Even I had to give his African accent a solid B+ (It’s the highest grade the Nigerian Standards Bureau can give for an African accent to a non African FYI.)
Holding out and preparing for these dynamic roles came with both great frustration and incredible resolve I’m certain. Not to mention the taxing ordeal of battling Colon Cancer as the grueling scheduling of filming and increasing responsibility for positive representation loomed. Even under extreme duress, Chadwick’s commitment to others appeared to outweigh his own tribulations, unbeknownst to us all.
Black Panther may have been just a movie to some and that may be because some can easily rattle off 10 movies with a king of non Af-Am origin. It represented a lot more to others. Albeit imagined, imagery on cinema often accomplishes more to augment the social narrative and society itself than actual reality. If negative stereotypes influence perception then positive ones absolutely have the same converse effect.
Even in jest, the cultural misappropriation of raisins in potato salad on SNL skits directly spoke to the tampering of black culture to which T’challa championed, represented and aptly responded “Oh hell Nah Karen!”
If you don’t understand the relevance of representation, it’s probably because you are thoroughly represented. After all, no one is ever grateful for every breath they take until they are gasping for air.
R.I.P Chadwick Boseman. Thank you for breathing life into the possibility of Black excellence.
Alfred Obiesie is a writer with over 12 years of online content contribution (Onetrackmine.com, Cartermag.com, Essence.com) and author (You Made It a Hot Line; The most influential lines in hip hop.) The book chronicles hip hop lines from the genre’s most notable artists spanning almost 40 years. It is illustrated by Grammy award winning Illustrator Shah Wonders and has garnered praise from multiple media outlets (Sirius XM, Vibe, Brooklyn Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, etc...)
We’re all familiar with movies hiding easter eggs throughout their films sending winks and nods to pop-culture references. Sometimes it will be a tip-of-the-cap to an author, actor, or creator. Sometimes it is paying homage to an inspiring series, book, or film that’s near and dear to the director’s heart. This week I’ve seen a first. A T.V. series that has several easter eggs depicting segregation and oppression that only eagle-eyed aficionado’s of the black struggle might have caught on to.
Lovecraft Country is littered with important details that would fly over many people’s heads, and as I watched it again, I caught more nods to the true oppression of many African-Americans during the post-World War II era.
As a film buff, nothing makes me happier than watching a review, breakdown, or hidden easter egg video on a TV show I enjoy. Yesterday I did the same with Lovecraft Country, and while many of the melanin-deficient reviewers on youtube touched on the themes of literature, horror, and fantasy, many understandably missed some of the most important historical references.
Here are 10 Easter Eggs of Segregation in Lovecraft Country Episode 1.
1. H.P. Lovecraft’s little poem.
While we all know H.P. Lovecraft as an innovator of modern horror, fiction, and fantasy in literature, many people (including myself) didn’t know about a poem he wrote that spoke horribly about African Americans. Lovecraft Country alludes to the poem, but never recites it. Once they mentioned the title, I went straight to my Google Search. Below is the poem called: On the Creation of N*****s (1912)
When, long ago, the gods created Earth
In Jove’s fair image Man was shaped at birth.
The beasts for lesser parts were next designed;
Yet were they too remote from humankind.
To fill the gap, and join the rest to Man,
Th’Olympian host conceived a clever plan.
A beast they wrought, in semi-human figure,
Filled it with vice, and called the thing a N****r.
I’m sure Jackie Robinson beating the S**T out of Cthulhu at the beginning of the episode was a collective middle finger from the black community to Mr. Lovecraft.
2. Seating for Black People
Scene from episode 1
Actual photo of a segregated bus
While this may not come as a surprise to many of you, a lot of people are ignorant to the fact that, yes, black people were made to sit in the back of the bus. Many know the story of Rosa Parks’ defining moment, but for decades this was the way of life for black people. Where insult to injury is predicated in the show is when the bus breaks down and the bus driver gets a local pick-up truck driver to ride the stranded passengers into the city. Immediately in the next scene, the only two black passengers were seen walking down the road into Chicago.
3. Propaganda for the Negro Soldier
In Lovecraft Country, the above poster is not shown in this episode, but instead, it’s a black soldier telling other young black men that if they enlist, they can see the world. While Atticus walks by the soldier, there’s a glance of recognition as if Atticus was once one of those impressionable young men, and he knows their being lied to. Black men had to be enticed to enlist by different methods than whites because it was hard to show patriotism to a country that still to that day had kept them oppressed. So, they would show a poster of Joe Louis joining the fight…why don’t you? Get to see the world! Little did they know seeing the world would involve PTSD, death, and despair.
4. The Negro Motorist Greenbook
Scene from episode 1 depiction of the Green-Book
The synopsis according to IMDB.com is: “Lovecraft Country follows Atticus Black as he joins up with his friend Letitia and his Uncle George to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father.”While this is true, it’s not the whole story. Why are they embarking on this trip? It’s to help update what many people may know as, The Negro Motorist Greenbook. Yup, just like the movie, The Greenbook. If you don’t know, this book was originated by Victor Hugo Green as a travel bible for African Americans. It provided details of safe roads to travel, places for food, repairs, and lodging where they wouldn’t be turned away or even worse, assaulted.
5. James Baldwin’s monologue on racial divide
During one of the scenes in Lovecraft Country, we see a montage of our protagonist’s road trip. In the montage we see different moments where they face discrimination, others facing discrimination, and the hardships of ignorant people with all the privilege in the world monopolizing on their entitlements. Usually, during movie montages, a composer would play a score to envoke emotions during the collection of scenes. Lovecraft Country went in a different direction. Instead, they played the monologue of James Baldwin’s renowned speech at Cambridge University where he debated with William Buckley on the subject of the United States racial divide. James Baldwin was a brilliant playwright, novelist, speaker, and activist that eloquently described the plight of the black man as it still stands today. Merged with the scenes during the montage, it speaks volumes about the state of America.
6. Ice Cream stand Scene
Scene from episode 1
Gordon Sparks photograph
In one of the scenes in the montage, we see a black man and his children waiting at an ice cream stand for service. Right over them is a sign that says “colored” and on the other side of the stand is a group of white people with ice cream being tended to by the servers. This scene looked extremely familiar to me. When I did some research, I realized this scene was based on a famous photograph by Gordon Parks, photographer and journalist who well-documented scenes of the segregation and civil rights era. Years ago I saw his work in its full brilliant quality at the High Museum in Atlanta. The color and detail brought a realism that a black-and-white photo could never do. It made this a real thing.
7. Mother and daughter under the neon sign
Scene from episode 1
This scene once again pays homage to another photograph by Gordon Parks. A mother and her daughter dressed elegantly as if they were going to church, standing under a large neon sign that says ‘Colored Entrance’.
8. The billboard across from the gas station
Scene from episode 1
Advertisement the billboard is based on
While Atticus and company are at a gas station filling up their car, they are approached by a gas station attendant pretending to be a gorilla to mock them. Leticia holds Atticus back from approaching the man as the attendant intensifies his ignorant behavior and she forces Atticus into the car. As they pull off, you can see a Billboard for Aunt Jemima in the background. Aunt Jemima has always been a misrepresentation of black culture through the lens of the white man and advertised to his fellow man as the overall perception of black people. The image of Aunt Jemima is a source reflection of the learned behavior of the gas station attendant.
9. Sundown towns
Scene from episode 1
Two years ago was the first time I’ve ever heard of a Sundown Town. No, not through a history book, but as a warning about staying too late in a little town in Texas that exists today! If I didn’t hear about this first hand, I would’ve thought it was a theme of the past, but no. There are currently county’s that do not condemn the abuse of black people once the sun goes down! While the billboard here might be a relic from the past, Sundown Towns are definitely alive and well across America!
10. White walls
Scene from episode 1
Not only is this one telling, but it also holds all kinds of subliminal messages. While the group finds a Green book safe haven for dining called Lydia’s, they are surprised to find the restaurant is now called, Simmonsville Dinette. Still, they walk in and are greeted by unwelcoming faces. While the server goes to the back for what seems like their coffee orders, Atticus realizes that the walls are painted white. He asks his uncle to remind him why the white house was white. His uncle tells him about the war of 1812 when British soldiers torched it and when slaves were tasked to rebuild it, they had to paint it white to cover up the burn marks. This tells us two things. Lydia’s restaurant was burnt down and rebuilt by trespassers (obviously for being a safe haven for blacks in this all-white town) and the blackness of this restaurant was erased and covered up by the ‘white’ paint. My goodness, I could go on and on about this one!
I was expecting this series to be littered with easter eggs, but knowing they have incorporated easter eggs specifically about the black movement and struggles has me fired up to see what else is in store for these characters. Did you see any easter eggs that I missed? Comment and let me know.