Sunday, February 01, 2015

My Dreams Stand on Your Shoulders: A Tribute to Langston Hughes

I fell in love with you, risk taker and dream maker. At five, I didn't know I traveled in your Simple footsteps when wearing my red and white sailor suit to the zoo. The Metro Bus took me to the zoo that was located near the work site of a busboy who was discovered as a poet. It was you, injecting me with your spirit. It was you who touched my foot's sole soley to encourage my soul.

I fell in love with you when I was 12 and introduced to you by name as a voice in the Harlem Renaissance. My uncle Que and Aunt Sue gave me my first type writer, and I pecked away. You were on roster as I took my classes. I was overwhelmingly pacified by Zora when I was 13 as her Eyes Were Watching God, but even Janie's story wasn't the end of my love affair with you. I kept digging for the heart of your existence. The same family pair pushed me toward you in this arranged literary marriage with a gift to strengthen my ties to you.

I fell in love with you when I was 21 and crossed the sands of Delta. It was clear we were connected. We now had Coleman Love in common. My engagement ring of thoughts were peaked. It was at 22 Aunt Sue further invested in me and put me in a position to get closer and closer to you. I was given a hand-crafted desk so I could begin to write...like you...see my dreams unfold. It was when I volunteered with Jeree at the same hotel where you were discovered that you baptized me with your essence.

In 2001, the Dream could no longer be deferred. I married you and began to build a family of children with you with recitations of Harlem, while introducing them to Lorraine, and making songs about your friends in the 1920s. It was during this time, God sent two darlings, Rachel and Rachelle who spoke clearly of what you taught me. They told me to stop teaching and write my book. Thus, the Sugar Rush series was conceived. They spoke your truth. They are our children.

In years later, you continued to be married to my fingertips, my heart, mind, and soul. You showed up on my realtor's book shelf when I was 26. I met the Tingling-Clemmons family and saw the Big Sea in their collection. I met their son who was named after you. I cannot deny you, I will simply love all that you have been in the world and unselfishly share you. In 2019, I wrote a poem to welcome a prince who will one day be king. He has your name. You continue to live on and I can't let your memory go.

You are my literary love. You are the Director of Dreams. You are Langston Hughes, the voice, the face, the heartbeat of my fingertips.

Always and forever yours,
Yolonda

www.yolondacoleman.com

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Can A. Brown Girl Get Some Love?



Who or What is A. Brown Girl? © 2005
By Yolonda D. Coleman




Commercials, movies, television, magazines, videos have given us new trends for years. One comedian said, "Light skinned brothers are going to make a comeback." Whether you are light brown sugar, indigo, butter pecan Rican, or mocha cappuccino, you’re a brown girl. If you are single, married, fed up, laid up, laid off, knocked up, or just a hard working brown girl whose chick flick collection has become far too extensive, the Sister-Friend Network most likely has a story for you.
The concept of a Can A. Brown Girl Get Some Love? was derived from an over saturation of what is deemed beautiful and desirable by industry standards. If you’ve ever been insecure about your imperfection and tried to cover them up by only presenting your representative to those outside your home, ladies, take off your mask, take off your Lee Press on nails, take off your extended weave, and reintroduce yourself to the world. You are love because God is love and God don’t make no junk. So, shine, my sistahs and enjoy your journey.


A. Brown Girl is a traveler, a socialite, an observer. She is the person who asks a perfect stranger questions he never thought to consider. A. Brown girl says what others only think. She is the voice of liberation when one is on the journey to find self. Finding imperfections in herself and being okay with them, she writes to help those like her to begin to take steps in their own journey whether through the loss of a loved one, love, or just getting the best experience out of life.

A. Brown girl takes journeys from Boston to Mexico. One thing remains the same no matter where an airline takes her, life is worth watching. So don’t miss it. In these journeys, she logs her experiences and shares them with the Sistah-Friends network. In turn, they share their stories with her. Brown Girls of the world, this one is for you. Enjoy and may you have continued blessings in your personal sojourns.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some journeys aren't meant to take alone...

I thought I was cured of mourning and would live the rest of my life in joy. A one day trip on roads unfamiliar to me brought mixed emotions. The morning after my arrival brought unstoppable tears. I Miss Mommy, but I am prepared to walk the rest of my journey in confidence.

It's been four years since she transitioned from earth to a place of peace and tranquility. She went "Home". None of us who love her could go with her. She knew, more than any of us, she had to prepare herself for the journey whether we wanted to prepare with her or not. Because I watched her grow beyond my understanding, I welcomed a road trip to Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, alone. The open road, New Edition songs, and curiosity were my company.

Road signs for the Pocono Mountains, a place mom visited long ago, Bethleham, and Nazareth gave me a preview of a journey I wasn't ready to face. The spirit of Mom overwhelmed me in my Residence Inn bed while watching a show that revealed a past I often think about and wish daily that I had a chance to let Mom know just how much I love her and appreciate the woman she had been in my life. I'm blessed to have been with children whose lives I touched. I'm blessed to have seen them on the brink of graduation from private colleges announcing to me they have jobs immediately after getting their degree. While they enjoyed themselves at an after party, I retreated to a hotel room to reflect, alone.

After nursing a sore throat, achy body, and stuffy nose I acquired in one day, I cried and cried while watching a televsion mother say goodbye to her children, husband, and friend. Her last moment alive was a glimpse she shared with her mother who understood, without words, that the time had come for her daughter to die. I was reminded of the time Mom and I shared a conversation two days before her death. She said, "Mommy is tired." She was prepared. Much like my great, great grandfather who was only sick once in his life at 105 years old. After a week of being ill, he went to see the pastor to make arrangements, came home and told his daughter, I don't want anything else to eat or drink and told the Lord, "I've been here long enough." A week later he died.

My journey, I realize, has to encompass more strength than I've given it, even when no one is there to hold my hand, hug me, tell me I'm great, or to be my cheerleader. I have to push on until my assignment is done. The way I see it, I have many more road trips ahead of me to tell you that a world of unknown roads are waiting for you to travel them. They are waiting for you to uncover the parts of your life that make you appreciative of the past so you can enjoy the present and look forward to the future.

When you stop crying about whatever, decide to get out the bed. You have to take the first step to see how the rest of your life will unfold.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sugar Rush: Love's Kitchen


Course 1
Quanda’s Noodles
(Stanton Dwellings in Southeast Washington, D.C.)
By Yolonda D. Coleman

Ingredients:
2 cups of boiling water
1 packet of Top Ramen Noodles (chicken flavor)
1 curious little girl

The details of my childhood culinary memories are pretty accurate. It was an early afternoon in D.C. when boredom hit inside of 3179 Stanton Road. Grandma was watching an afternoon list of ABC soaps, and I needed to run my mouth to any listening ear.
I didn’t have a crew, per se, I could, however, be seen with Renee and Quanda and ‘nem---twirling a baton or playing tag in the courtyard of Stanton Dwellings project housing units.

It wasn’t uncommon for any of us to knock on a door and find someone cooking in the kitchen. Quanda’s house was about three hop scotch grids away from where I lived. Although the storm door was open, and I could see clearly into Quanda’s kitchen, I still tapped the screen door to alert her family of my presence.

“What cha’ll cookin?” I asked as an opener. I would later learn this would be my primary question when entering anyone’s home.

“Oodles of Noodles,” Quanda replied.

Top Ramen noodles was a favorite among Stanton Dwellings youth. It’s no spaghetti, but it sure put out hunger in a hurry between episodes of “He-Man” and “She-Ra” right after school let out. All we needed was three minutes, but we completely ignored instructions as outlined on the plastic wrapper that held the perfectly packed “dry block” noodles in it:


Boil 2 cups of water, add noodles, breaking up if desired. Remove from heat. Stir in seasoning.

Our salt intake for the day could be fulfilled in one packet of Top Ramen. The 760 mg meal had a nutrition tip: To lower sodium, use less seasoning. Ha! That would defeat the purpose.

As Quanda prepared her bowl of chicken flavored Top Ramen, I noticed that she drained the water. This was exciting to me and began my query in Quanda’s kitchen.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Draining the water,” she responded.

“I don’t get it. It’s going to be dry.”

Rather than respond, Quanda simply commenced to spread the seasoning in the pot over the wet, but no longer swimming noodles. Since she opted out of the instructions to break the noodles, Quanda took a fork out of the drawer and began to stir the seasoning over the noodles and then poured them into a bowl. She was kind enough to let me taste. I was in heaven.

Top Ramen was no longer a soupy treat for me. It was now gourmet pasta. Gone were the days Mom would cook Top Ramen and place the soggy noodles in a thermos for me to eat at lunch time. I hated that the noodles puffed up and the soup was cold. Even the bits of “fake-me-out” chives at the bottom of my Muppets thermos made me angry. Gone were the days of me breaking blocks of noodles when I only had to let them part naturally as the scolding water did the work for me. Gone were the days of my broth being watered down because measurements of water were over looked.

My two cups of water were merely suggestions. I just needed to get my pasta cooked until it was translucent rather than opaque, turn the water off, drain the water, add seasoning, mix, and eat.
The youngest in a household of six ( I made the seventh person) and a dog, I had some cooking skills to show my family the next time I stepped up to the stove.

“What are you doing?” Uncle Pebbles asked.

“Making Oodles of Noodles,” I said.

“Why are you draining the water,” he asked.

Like Quanda, I did a little showing instead of telling.

To this day, I’m not sure if my uncle enjoyed my treat. It didn’t matter, I felt accomplished in the kitchen. I let him taste, took my bowl near the black and white 13 inch T.V. that sat on the kitchen table, and watched She-Ra. She was the Princess of Power and I was the Culinary Princess for the hour. It was 3:30 PM, and I enjoyed every bit of my pasta until there was only a tiny noodle left at the bottom of my bowl. Slurp!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Author and Radio Host Uncover the Face of the Storm

By Yolonda D. Coleman
Photo Courtesy of Soaring High Productions


(Left) Sighlent Storm radio host Mandrell Birks gives a sermon on "Women Out of Control" in "A Change is Gonna Come," a play by Vickie Evans.


There is a storm brewing in places beyond coastal lands. The storm floods the homes of many, but the call for help is sometimes in a silent whisper.

The storm is domestic violence, but critics like Mandrell Birks, the host of a domestic violence radio show, “The Sighlent Storm,” on www.WHUR-WORLD.com, and author Vickie Evans are exposing the scars the storm leaves behind.

According to the District of Columbia Court reports, there were 6,743 domestic violence cases reported in D.C. in 2007.


“The only time we highlight domestic violence is when someone dies,” Birks said.

Birks performed in the national debut of Vickie Evans’s play “A Change is Gonna Come” the weekend of June 13, 2008. A well dressed Birks graced the stage of the Lincoln Theatre with charisma and a smile that could convince anyone he was an upstanding citizen. He was, however, Pastor Sills, one who was supposed to lead people to a road of healing and recovery, but “A Change is Gonna Come” revealed his abuse toward his first lady portrayed by Tammy Turner.


To further uncover the face of domestic violence, Evans invited Mildred Mohammad, the ex-wife of John Allen Mohammad, the D.C. area sniper of 2002, to speak to audience members attending “A Change is Gonna Come” about the motive behind her ex-husband’s killing spree.


“He wanted to kill me, but wanted to make it look like a random shooting,” Mildred Mohammad said.


Evans promoted “A Change is Gonna Come” through her company Soaring High Productions. The performance was nearly sold out, however, Evans was not so concerned about numbers as she was about making a difference.


“The Lincoln Theatre was almost filled to capacity - just a few seats shy of 1,200. But it really wasn't about the seats; it was about the message - eliminating domestic violence,” Evans recounted in a testimony she shared with readers on her site http://www.forgiven2.com/.


“A Change is Gonna Come” not only addressed the deadly consequences of a victim’s silence, but also how generations of abuse can be passed down from parents. Moreover, Birks, who also worked with the Family Crisis Center of Prince George’s County, said that children who witness abuse in their homes ultimately come to believe that inflicting pain on someone is the way to show love.


On the converse side of things, “A Change is Gonna Come” depicted what a healthy relationship can look like with characters like Deacon and Sister Kane.


“I played the wife of a deacon who is very happy in her marriage. She and her husband treated each other with respect. We wanted to show solid relationships in the play,” Ebonee Reed, a truancy officer in Northern Virginia said.


Reed’s character, Sister Kane, noticed signs that First Lady Sills was being abused by Pastor Sills, but she did not blatantly say so in the play. Off stage, Reed believes bystanders of domestic violence don’t say anything because they are afraid to get involved.


“People are afraid of the backlash from the abuser on the abused if they get involved,” Reed said. She recalled a time when a man stepped in to defend a woman who was being verbally abused and the woman turned to him and said, “This is none of your business.”


To provide a source of support for victims, Prince Georges County implemented Project Safe Sunday in 2002. This initiative is for ministers to bring awareness to their congregation about domestic violence. Birks believes support has go beyond, “pray about it,” or as a mere discussion in a sermon.


“Church leaders can be trained by qualified counselors, hold meetings in secret locations, and use confidential email blasts to get people signed up,” Birks said.
Evans supports Birks in that she believes ignoring domestic violence, in the church or otherwise, is not an option.


“I often say that if we--the church--don't deal with this problem internally, it will become a public powder keg that will blow up in our faces,” Evans said.

In an effort to encourage sponsors to finance the production of “A Change is Gonna Come,” throughout the country, Soaring High Productions is extending an invitation to any investors, corporate, companies, or non-profit organizations to attend a 3:00 PM performance on Saturday, July 12, 2008 at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, MD.


“This show is for potential sponsors only and is not open to the public. Our intent is to solicit investments to further our mission to stop domestic violence by taking this production on the road. We are currently looking at venues in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Baltimore, and of course - if Washington, DC would have us - we would love to do it again in Washington, D.C.,” Evans said.


If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, help, as Birks said, “ is only a click away.” Log on to http://www.sighlentstorm.com/ for a list of international resources in different languages. Archived segments of Birks show can also be played on the site. For more information on how your organization can support performances of “A Change is Gonna Come, “ contact Vickie Evans at art_of_forgiving@yahoo.com or visit http://www.forgiven2.com/.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

NEXT FROM COFFEEDREAMZ INK!

Sweet Roads and Honey (c) by Yolonda D. Coleman

"Every word of this song is going to be about you..." Raheem DeVaughn sang on my Ipod as I stepped onto the Stair Master. My thunder thighs had long since danced to the score of the lightning as I struck out one too many times prompting me to claim a life of celibacy. Then...he came along and interrupted my womanly strong hold to stand clear of relationships.

He came along singing melodies on stilettos having me high on my heels and tip toeing around love's room. Exercise was my only escape from the Voodoo he puts on me with his "How was your Days" and "Sleep wells" at night when I wanted to just scream my loneliness away. All the while, I'm wrapped in his long distance arms with the force of 10,000 tight ropes above center ring. Was I being clowned or crowned by his endearing words that kissed my ears like lips to a glass of his favorite drink...Water, I think, keeps his soup coolers moist, and I enjoy every vibration that comes from them from his simple, "Hey, lady," and "It's okay, Baby" words of comfort...and I'm thankful that in this world that's so full of sorrow, he takes time in his present and his tomorrow to simply let me know he cares and makes me climb invisible walls without even existing in the same city or state.

Of mind, body, and spirit, each step I take with the Master will be in the direction of perfection so I can run right into his heart.

Your Comments will be helpful. Please leave one. Thanks.
Raheem's Song

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Chasing Rainbows



My sojourn home includes a road that is connected to a Washington, D.C. and and two different counties in Maryland. The nation's capital, with all its magnificent intentions, was dark and gloomy as the rain poured. I all but cried when I saw the adult faces of despair staring at me, but found joy in looking at a child skip in between the rain drops. Without a care in the world, the little ones understood that true happiness was not in a material possession, but just existing in what was already available to them.

In between the two counties, I sat in traffic blasting my music to distract me from the bumber to bumber routine I've become accustomed to weekly. No soon as I entered my city, the rain stopped. To my left, justs before reaching the Wa Wa, were two bands of colors arching over the sky.

"No way! Could it be?" I asked myself.

Adjusting my contacts, I saw two rainbows.

At the traffic light, I quickly grabbed my camera. Click! Click! Click! I got them, but I wasn't satisfied. I made a left turn to follow them and found myself in a neighborhood I had passed for the past year in a half. At the next traffic light, I snapped again. This time, I was caught in action. The passengers in the car next to me saw what I was capturing and decided to take a picture of the rainbows too.

I pulled over so as not to stop traffic and snapped away. After about 6 shots, I just stared and stared and stared...

There was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Instead of a leprecan waiting for me, I was the one holding the pot...and tasting the rainbow of my dreams.