Hot Girl Summer: “Darkness to Light”

Summer 2019 is behind us and you know what, I didn’t do a darn thing.  I didn’t visit one beach, pool or amusement park this year.  My “Hot Girl Summer” consisted of going to work, going to church going to brunch a few times.  All of my adventures and drama came from reading.  That’s a good and bad thing at the same time.  Ice could have been covering the ground and it would not have made much of a difference to me.  I’m going to share and review what I read this summer.

My first review is “Darkness to Light” by Lamar Odom.

lamar odom

 

This was a good read.  I think you’ll enjoy it if you’re an NBA fan or a person that enjoys celebrity gossip.  I enjoy both.  This story is about the life of NBA champion Lamar Odom.  The book begins with the Lamar’s parents’ star crossed love story.  Then we learn about his experiences as a basketball phenom.  He wrote about his college days and his early years in the NBA.  That lead into his prime years in LA, his marriage into a reality TV family, his decline and then the day he ODed in a whorehouse in Nevada and near death experience.

Lamar is mild mannered and non assuming.  In interviews he came across as having a passive personality.  I felt like he was being bullied by some of the female entertainment journalists that interviewed him while he was promoting this book.  But man, Lamar has had a wild, glamorous and fabulous life.  The man has been to parties where Prince and Whitney Houston were in attendance.  He’s been to Hollywood movie premiers and he’s been in an NBA champion victory parade, twice.

This book made a few impressions on me.  First of all, Lamar Odom is a lucky duck.  He was a drug abuser for years and dodged punishment for his habit.  He was a high functioning drug addict who didn’t suffer repercussions professionally and managed to have a wildly successful career.

lamar odom

His personal relationships were what paid the price for his addictions.  He lost the relationship he had with his high school sweetheart and mother of his two children.  His relationship with Taraji Henson was destroyed.  And he famously divorced Khloe Kardashian.  Lamar suffered the loss of his mother to cancer while he was a young boy and he continues to struggle with her death.  But drug and sex is what ruined his romances and marriage.

khloe and lamar

Secondly, this book taught me that pro athletes are basically raised by recruiters and coaches.  The influence and place that these men have in the lives of young athletes is significant.  As a sports fan there are certain things that make sense to me now as an observer.  (I’ll keep those things to myself)  Coaches and recruiters play a father like role to up and coming young men.  In Lamar’s story they looked out for his interests but they also viewed him as a product to be protected so their motivations were not purely altruistic.

I also learned that Kris Jenner is a huge B word.  This woman is willing sell her own children out for fame and a payday.  That Kardashian/Jenners are opportunistic and take their family business very seriously.  The business is more important than the family.  Perhaps you all already figured that out but I am a little slow and naïve.  I’ve honestly always admired Kris Jenner but I’m sure a lot of people admire Judas for a while too.  I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to spoil things for you.

phil jackson

NBA fans will get a kick out of Lamar’s behind the scenes stories.  He drops names throughout this book quite a bit.  Of course he mentions Kobe.  He grew up with Ron Artest aka Metta World Peace.  He had a terrible relationship with Mark Cuban while he was in Dallas and Phil Jackson was a hero to him.  I wish the booked focused on his NBA career more.

If you are interested in NBA, Hollywood glamour, the Kardashians, overcoming addictions or near death experiences.  You might enjoy “Darkness to Light”.  There’s something in it for just about everyone.  I certainly enjoyed the book.

“The Bluest Eye” and What it Means in 2019 – Toni Morrison February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019

Literary hero Toni Morrison died earlier this week.  Her powerful novel The Bluest Eye is what makes Ms. Morrison a legend in my eyes.  The book was released in 1970 and exposed ugly truths about Black women and self image and the effect it has on an individual’s psyche and overall well being.

I read The Bluest Eye long ago and it has resonated with me for years.  I am a Black American woman and I refer to the story of Pecola Breedlove often as I observe Black people in modern culture.  The story revolves around around a young dark skinned Black girl named Pecola Breedlove.  She is seen as ugly and not treated very well throughout her life.  Pecola becomes fixated on blue eyes that she sees in popular images and wishes that she had them herself.  Pecola thinks that her quality of life would improve if she has blue eyes, blonde hair and light skin.  Was she wrong?

bluest eye 3

I certainly don’t think so.  And it’s sad that the world that Pecola lived in made it impossible for her to accept herself.  Pecola’s dark skin condemned her to a lack of opportunities and second class treatment in the culture of the day.  She was born to be a proverbial whipping boy.  I wouldn’t dare say that things haven’t changed.  It would be incredibly entitled for me as a dark skinned Black woman born in 1975 to say that things have remained the same.  But they aren’t very different.

Globally, people of African descent see beauty and freedom in adopting and mimicking European aesthetics.  I personally have regularly chemically straightened my hair since I was around eight.  It wasn’t my decision to start relaxing my hair but I haven’t made an adult decision to stop doing what I was taught as a child either.  Many Black women go through the expense of wearing fake hair that is usually a straight texture.

I don’t blame or criticize Black women for trying to meet European beauty standards.  Life is competitive and black women want the same things that everyone else wants such as basic respect, career and romantic success.  It’s a little easier to achieve those things when you look like a person of European heritage.  Pecola was a simple girl but she was smart enough to come to that conclusion.

I feel like as time goes on Black girls and women are having a more difficult time accepting their appearance in this image conscious, Eurocentic society.  I had heard of several suicides of young Black girls over the last few years but the first article that I pasted below says that suicide rates among young Black children have doubled between 1993-2015

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/12-old-girl-commits-suicide-113320792.html

https://blackdoctor.org/453190/heartbreaking-6-year-old-girl-commits-suicide-with-jump-rope/2/

10-Year-Old Colorado Girl Commits Suicide After Bullying

9-Year Old Girl Commits Suicide After Months of Being Bullied at Her School

https://www.theoaklandpress.com/news/nation-world-news/in-wake-of–year-old-s-suicide-waterford-father/article_3130e765-8b71-5644-aab4-236d2e592496.html

I never realized how much vitriol there was within the Black community towards Black women until I became a consumer of social media.  YIKES!  The voices are often mean spirited and openly hostile towards Black women who are not given much support or positive reinforcement.  Meanwhile images of racially ambiguous and White women are glorified and placed on a pedestal for Black audiences.  It’s a complete mind f—.  I’m not surprised that we have problems and tragedies.

There’s no good way to end this post because the real life stories of Pecola Breedloves continues to unfold.   My hope is that all Black people will learn to accept and love themselves.  I hope that the world learns to accept Blackness but that is doubtful because there is a perception that there is something for others to lose if people of African descent improve themselves and stop being so European focused.  I am grateful to Toni Morrison for illustrating this matter so beautifully.  I urge you to read The Bluest Eye if you haven’t.  It’s unforgettable and timeless.

 

 

#3FaveBooksWhenIWasAKid

Yesterday was one of those days that I really miss my Twitter account.  My account has been locked down since February because I expressed that the boy from Covington High School deserved to be punched in the chest.  I was on the Twitter account of my workplace today and I saw #3FaveBooksWhenIWasAKid.  I wanted to add my favorites so bad but I couldn’t add that to my employer’s Twitter feed so I will write about mine on WordPress instead.

Three of my favorite books from my upper elementary and middle school days are The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Beat the Turtle Drum by Constance Green and Karen Kepplewhite is the World’s Greatest Kisser by Eve Bunting.

I remember ordering a copy of The Scarlet Letter from Scholastic book orders when I was in the fifth grade in 1985 or ’86.  The book was published in 1850 and takes place in the 1600’s.  It’s amazing how the world hasn’t changed in many ways since then.  The book is a story of a 1600’s, colonial Massachusetts single mom who is ostracized by her ultra conservative Puritan community.  Hester is sentenced to wearing the scarlet letter A for adultery on her chest for the rest of her life. Her baby daddy takes no responsibility for his participation in the conception of the Hester Prynne’s bastard child.  Baby daddy is the town preacher by the way.  I believe that was the big revelation at the end of the book.

I believe that I got a copy of Beat the Turtle Drum from my elementary school library.  It was the first book to ever make my cry.  The story centers around two sisters that are very different.  One sister thinks of herself as homely while her sister is beautiful and favored by their parents.  The beautiful sister dies in an accident.  The sisters were in their backyard tree house.  The beautiful sister leans forward out the doorway of the hous while on her knees in order to see her pet horse.  She falls forward to the ground.  The fall kills her.  The rest of the story is about how the family copes with the loss of the little girl.  This book set a precedent for me.  As a person that isn’t super emotional anything that makes me cry gets a good recommendation from me.

Karen Kepplewhite Is The World’s Best Kisser is another book I ordered from Scholastic book orders when I was in middle school.  I’m not sure that it was one of my favorites back then but I remember it fondly now.  It was a very sweet coming of age tale of young girls.  Today we would say they were exploring their sexuality but we didn’t think like that then.  The girls were just looking forward to and preparing for their first kiss.

All I remember about the book is that the main character Karen and her friend practiced for their first kiss.  They had plans to attend a boy girl party and wanted to be ready.  At the party a bunch of kids played a variation of Spin the Bottle called Seven Minutes in Heaven.  The young party goers sat on the floor in a circle and spun a pop bottle.  The spinner had to go in the closet and kiss the person who the bottle pointed to once it stopped.

The couple went in the closet and they kissed.  A lot of suspense built up to that moment.  They kissed with their clothes on and no genitals were involved at all.  In contrast to today’s YA literature which is very dark and sexualized, it is very sweet.  It’s almost like I grew up in Puritan times myself.  Ahh, the mid 1980s.

Those are #3FaveBooksWhenIWasAKid.  The Sweet Valley Twins also deserve an honorable mention.

sweet valley twins