Gentrify Your Own Self: The Hubby Edition

Please welcome guest blogger and my husband, Kevin Edward DuBose, who has some insight into this recent winter snowstorm and why it is becoming increasingly important to Gentrify Your Own Self! I expect he will be gracing us more with his blogging talent in the future. Without further ado, I would like to present Gentrify Your Own Self: The Hubby Edition.

Courtesy of USA Today

Courtesy of USA Today

The snowpacalytic events of the past couple of days have motivated me to jump in on the Gentrify Your Own Self! movement and put in my two cents. I think the missus is on to something with her recent blog posts. Be warned, I am not the writer she is. However, like my better half, I am a trained city planner. And I too see something incredibly wrong with our American Dream. In fact, symptoms of the problem are being played out live and in color on CNN as I type this. Yes I am talking the weather but I am also talking about our lifestyles.

Poor Atlanta! They are the poster children of dysfunction today. And the rest of the country wonders how two inches of snow can shut down the Capital of the South. The Governor of Georgia is blaming the weatherman. The CNN anchorwoman is ‘tryna read’ the Mayor of Atlanta (Notice my quoting the Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA) there…) Ms. Anchorwoman should proceed with caution, because Mayor Kasim Reed don’t play (excuse the grammar please). His neighbor is Khandi Buress and she will send Momma Joyce and her aunties up there to tell her something. Meanwhile, in the midst of this madness, people are stuck on the highways and kids are disconnected from their families while they ride out the situation in their school lunchrooms.

Would we have this problem, if we truly had neighborhood schools like we used to? Let’s face it, the neighborhood school thing is dead. We keep sending our kids further and further away to school and we continue to move further away from the urban core. Back in the day, if a kid was stuck at the school or in route home, no problem. Momma or Daddy or someone would strap on the timberlands and hike up to the school. Problem solved. A snow day used to be a grand thing. We are getting out early? Cool! Let the cabbage patch dancing begin! Now we are terrified about our buses sliding off a rural road or children being stuck miles away from home.

So who is really to blame here? Well the problem is us. Yes you and me and everyone else trying to make the Joneses green with envy. My wife has discussed the HGTV house hunter mindset that is destroying our urban core. I won’t rehash that. But please note that our neighborhood busting ways are causing major problems with regard to urban services. Our kids don’t go to school within 2-3 miles anymore. We don’t have sidewalks (in most communities) any more. Thus, the simple task of getting kids home on a snowy day is a bigger challenge than it should be.

So what is the answer? How can we fix the problem? Urban schools are being closed by the dozens every year while new state-of-the-art schools are being built in the suburbs. Families who live in the urban areas drive by closed and abandoned schools to take their kids to whatever is left. Suburban kids have 45-minute bus rides to and from school. I feel like Dap on School Daze, as I scream “Waaaaake Uuuuuup!” people.

Unlike my wife, I am not suggesting that you consider the incredible cute cottages and Victorian houses in the old neighborhood as places to raise your family. Forget about those split level houses and 1950 ranchers that dot the neighborhoods around downtown. You don’t want to live where schools are in walking distance and sidewalks connect the commercial areas and parks. You deserve a big 5000 square foot house for you and little Fluffy the Poodle. You deserve that three car garage and double tray ceiling. Stay where you are. In fact, move even further away from the City. Meanwhile, I have got a fool proof plan to fix everything. Drum roll please! The way to fix the problem is real simple people (Why do I have to think of these things?) Here is the concept: Let’s put the schools inside of WalMart. I guarantee there is one of those close to everyone in the suburbs. And we can always get to Walmart. The road to Walmart is the best salted road in the entire neighborhood.

And as Ne Ne Leakes of RHOA would say after she makes her point, Boop!


A Mind is a Terrible Thing … Ah Man, You know the Rest

Every night, at about 8’oclock, after we put the children to bed, my husband and I have what we call, “date night.” It’s a concept that we borrowed from my mom and dad. It’s where we watch the nightly television shows, just the two of us, without the offspring distractions. We watch movies, most of which requires a person to think. Or there is the occasional “chick flick” to kind of balance things. We watch The Big Bang Theory, which we’ve nicknamed, “The Nerds.” There is a part of me that can relate to these people on some level because I am usually rolling on the floor laughing. We love Treme, created by the same people who created, The Wire. It breaks my heart that the end of the run is near. Reality television, like Survivor and The Amazing Race that has us screaming at the television screen. Then there is the guilty pleasure. The proof that people actually watch train wrecks. The Real Housewives of Atlanta. This the only housewife brand we watch but man oh man, it is quite enough. It has everything – Shouting matches, head rolling, finger snapping, physical altercations, twirling (don’t ask), cross-dressing, and lots of lots of shade being thrown. The Real Housewives of Atlanta or RHOA, for short, is about six women, called “Housewives.” Why? I don’t know, because not all of these fools are married (although one has an imaginary boyfriend, a sock puppet, I think). These women, these “Housewives,” have jobs like modeling, acting, producing, lawyering, and embalming. The others sit around like potted plants… I don’t know why they think their lives are important enough to be recorded for public viewing – but we’re the dummies who watch that like we should be watching the news on changing world policies, so what does that say about us? As I am writing this, I am wondering what the qualities are for a “Housewife” (hee-hee, I am chuckling at this term because I have yet to see one clean a house, raise a child without a nanny, and while doing so look raggedy like the rest of us, real housewives. I’m just saying).

So anyway, one of these “Housewives,” is Porsha Williams (Stewart), the granddaughter of the famed Civil Rights leader, Hosea Williams. Oh I know he’s rolling around in his grave over being on this very ratchet show. She’s a pretty little thing, sweet (until she gets “turned up” anyway), and until this past Sunday, I thought she was a bit naïve. But I’ll come back to that in a moment. So these six “Housewives” and one extra bit of extra, took their foolishness on the road to Savannah, Georgia of all places. These people went to the Gullah/Geechee Nation. They went to the place that gives me writing inspiration. Yes. There. These “Housewives” hadn’t even left the Atlanta Metropolitan Area before all you-know-what broke loose over who can’t where on time. And it went downhill from there. It took them 12 hours (12?!) to get there, there was a fight over who got the Master bedroom, the extra chick (not a “Housewife” yet, but auditioning) got her feelings hurt in the worst way (I’ll someone else blog about the fact that you don’t go on holiday with women who have slept with your husband at one point and time), and the list goes on. Then as if to balance out the fact that these fools had absolutely no business going on a trip with each other to anywhere, they go on the Freedom Tour. One of the stops is at the First African Baptist Church, the oldest Black church in North America, which was also a “stop” on Underground Railroad. The curator showed these women the ventilation holes for the hiding place. He explained that to this day they didn’t know where the entrance to the hiding place was. Definitely a “must do” for my husband and me, the next time we return to Savannah. Now I had already seen this in the preview but I was so hoping that it was taken out of context or that I actually went deaf for a moment, but nope. No such luck. There it was Porsha Williams (Stewart), granddaughter of Hosea Williams, actually said, “there had to be an opening for the railroad.” When I first heard this in the previews, I remember my voice letting out a high pitched wail, as if in mourning, as I slowly slid to the living room floor. I was so put out, that I had to voice my outrage on Twitter. In the episode, her fellow “Housewives” tried to tactfully explain what the Underground Railroad actually was, but she kept insisting that it was some sort of train. Lord help her.

So my question is, are we failing to teach our students (I’m sorry, but I refuse to go out like that)? Or was Porsha like my students who zoned out and thought other things were important when someone tried to teach them United States History? While some viewers were embarrassed for this young woman, I was outraged. Porsha Williams Stewart is just a representation of the growing ignorance that the Black American community has regarding our contributions to this country’s history. It no longer does any good to blame the public school system for not teaching. As much access that we have to the internet and even the library, all with the convenience of pushing a couple of buttons, there is no longer an excuse. At some schools in Knoxville, laptops are being passed out like a bag of Cheetos. Too bad, the only thing our children are looking up, are the latest game downloads, or entertainment news, or who dropped a secret album in the dead of night. Our children have to be told exactly what to do and who to learn about and they do this only when it’s an assignment. Unfortunately, they barely do that. I know when I was teaching and I would give an assignment, my students would give me the bare minimum as if it caused them great pain to go above and beyond an assignment. What happened to gaining knowledge for the sake of knowledge? The fact that these students looked like me was equally heartbreaking. I wanted to scream at them and I want to scream at Porsha. Pick up a book! Read a news report! Ask someone questions! Argh! Care about something useful! Because, yeah, I’m just going to come out and say it. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Daufuskie Wedding Coming this Fall!


The EBook version of Daufauskie Wedding will be coming out this fall, with the paperback to soon follow in the spring! Also don’t forget about The Promise of Palmettos and Marshland, still available online for purchase!

In the meantime, please enjoy an except of Daufuskie Wedding.

Instead of having the cab take him to his condo in Buckhead, Clay gave the driver Big Mama’s address off of Old National Highway. He could have headed to the house he and Marissa bought in Fayetteville, but it didn’t feel right without her in it and Clay wanted company tonight. The cab stopped in front of the small brick rancher and Clay paid the driver before making his way (not before tripping over one Big Mama’s ceramic garden gnomes) to the front door.
“Damn!” Clay shouted as he noted the grass stain on the knee of his new trousers. He’d wanted to pack them to wear on Daufuskie Island. Now he would have to put them in the cleaners tomorrow and pay for 24-service.
“Clay is that you?” called Big Mama from inside the house. Clay knew his grandmother would be up. She had always been a night owl, never going to sleep before seeing her late night shows.
Florine Hightower or Big Mama as everyone called her, raised her five grandsons after their mother, Mary disappeared two days after giving birth to Clay. She had not even given the tiny baby a name when she packed everything she owned and left in the middle of the night. Big Mama had the difficult task of raising five small children, four of which had already shown to be almost impossible to handle even at an early age. But with her youngest grandson only days old, Big Mama looked into his tiny face, saw promise and gave him the name “Clay”. She saw him as a work of art in progress that could be molded into someone worthwhile.
Growing up, Clay had known he was different as well. Big Mama loved all of her grandsons but she was always interested in what Clay was doing and he always made her proud. While his brothers were in the streets, Clay held down a job while maintaining good grades in school. With his academic achievement, Clay was able to get a partial scholarship to Morehouse College where he had recieved his business degree. With the help of Big Mama, his Aunt Lisa (Big Mama’s youngest daughter), and an anonymous benefactor, Clay was able to cover the rest of his expenses without having to work and he had been able to totally concentrate on his studies. He interned at a prominent African American firm, HJ Russell his junior and senior year where he was eventually hired. The downtown firm paid for his MBA which, he’d obtained from Emory University.
Clay pulled open the screen door and answered his grandmother. “Hey Big Mama, I just took a spill out there.” Clay went over to Big Mama and kissed her smooth cheek. She wrapped her thick arms around his neck taking in the smoke mixed in with his cologne.
At seventy-one, Big Mama was still a vibrant woman and had not one wrinkle. She was sitting in her favorite, worn, green chair, listening to a Shirley Caesar CD. Clay, feeling the makings of a small hangover, lowered the volume just a bit before collapsing onto the flowered sofa. The plastic crinkled under his weight.
“Where you comin’ from?” Big Mama asked him.
“Uh, the guys and I decided to hang out,” Clay skirted the truth.
“Hang out, my foot. Ya’ll were watchin’ ass shakin’, that’s where you was.”
Clay opened his mouth in horror. Not for his grandmother’s language, for she had cussed them all out growing up while at the same time being Born Again more times than Clay could count. What had shocked him was the fact hat he’d been busted by Big Mama, no less. If she knew, there was no way in hell he could keep tonight’s whereabouts a secret from Marissa.
“Oh relax yo’ mind boy. You smellin’ like a still and smoke and knowin’ how yo’ brothers like to send folks off, the only place you could be is the booty club. It don’t take no genius to figure that out.”
Clay laughed. “You’re right, Big Mama.”
“So how you feelin’ Clay, ‘sides horny?”
“Big Mama…” Clay groaned with embarrassment.
“Alright, I’ll be good. But seriously, how you doin’?”
“Happy, excited…nervous…”
“Son, it means so much to me that you made your brothers groomsmen. It means so much to them too.”
“Yeah, I just hope…” Clay trailed off.
“What son? What do you hope?”
Clay did not want to finish that sentence, which ended with “they don’t embarrass me.”
“Nothing, Big Mama,” Clay answered instead. “It’s going to be fine.”
“Of course it will. Ain’t nothin’ gonna go wrong ‘long as you let God into it. You was blessed to find a woman as special as Marissa.
Clay knew he was blessed. Big Mama had wrapped her arms around Marissa as soon as she had met her. With all of the trifling women his brothers had brought up into the house, he knew that Big Mama knew the real deal when she saw it and Marissa was the real deal. Clay could see that even his brothers knew that Marissa was a catch. The day Clay found Marissa he did not know that his life was about to be completed.
It was two years ago when Clay had just finished working on a major project for an important client and needed to unwind. He decided to get a drink and listen to some jazz at the Crow’s Nest Club. A peaceful night was not to be had that Thursday evening with the club being as crowded as it was. However, Clay didn’t want to leave without having at least one drink so he found the last empty booth. He was enjoying the group, It’s All Jazz when he was approached by a tall, very attractive, woman with a carefully made-up face holding a large pink drink with an umbrella sticking out of the glass. She boldly asked if she could sit down because there weren’t any more seats.
“I heard about It’s All Jazz and I just had to come see them,” she had said to him. “I guess everyone else did too.”
“Slide on in here, girl,” he had invited. “You’re an awfully brave girl to take a chance and sit next to me.”
“Why do you bite?” The smile never left her face. In fact her smile was the first thing Clay fell in love with. It was so bright and it lit up her entire face.
“As a matter of fact I don’t,” he answered with a grin but he thought, “But I could really sink my teeth into you. Hmph, hmph, humph!” Then suddenly Clay recognized her.
“Hey I know you, you’re Marissa Gardiner. You were a Lady Vol for the University of Tennessee and now you do play-by-play commentary for the Lady Panthers.” Clay was describing her job in addition to the position she held at CNN.
“A fan, I see. I’m flattered.” And Marissa was flattered. She was used to being recognized. What she was not used to, was the totally enthralled expressions this man was wearing.
“Fan is an understatement. You practically brought the Lady Vols to the 1996 Championship single handedly!”
“I was totally in love with you!” Clay blushed after that last part slipped out but Marissa wouldn’t let Clay be embarrassed.
“Well you know my name, what’s yours?” She asked looking at him with large bright eyes.
“I’m Clay Hightower.”
“Clay…is that short for anything?”
“Nope it’s just ‘Clay’.”
“A work of art,” said Marissa flashing another smile.
From that moment on, the two were inseparable.