The Ladies In My Life

Kass and I at a fundraiser to end childhood hunger. The ladies in my life keep me on my hustle.

The Ladies In My Life

February 15, 2013  |  Culture, Family  |  No Comments

If you let hip hop in the late 90s tell it, you weren’t much of a guy unless you had 4 gold chains, 8 cars and, like, 9,000 girlfriends. That was the tragedy of the 90s: genius minds that sometimes peddled such ridiculous and ill-informed notions of masculinity. Most of us could see through all that ridiculousness.

My amazing sister-in-law (who knows, like, everything) with Soleil.

My amazing sister-in-law (who knows, like, everything) with Soleil.

While there were a few knuckleheads who were out chasing the flavor-of-the week hottie, me and my crew were more than happy to chill out at the library with our ladies — Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, bell hooks and Angela Davis.

All through middle and high school, I was the hottest dude in the nonfiction section. I knew everybody’s phone dewey decimal number.

Then Love Jones came along and put bougie black nerds on the map. I no longer had exclusive rights to that steez. Brothers bought dictionaries and flooded the libraries. It seemed like all the ladies wanted a literary dude. My personal card catalog aisle became the pre-hookup spot for the emergently articulate dudes who became the first generation of slam poets. Slow talking guys who would burn Nag Champa and accent the last syllable of every word while pretending to be well-read replaced those of us who actually were.

It was a dark time in the empire…

My niece is the only person in the world who likes ALL my jokes.

My niece is the only person in the world who likes ALL my jokes. Her mama — my sister is the one person in the world who knows me best.

Eventually we took our nerd culture back, and as we grew we, as a cohort, began to shed some of our sideways views on masculinity and sexuality. I would like to think that we, as a society, are more inclusive, understanding, and loving than we were. Though I know that that’s a bit of a dream still, I know that I certainly am — in large part because I’ve got a family of strong women (and men) who are constantly challenging me to be the best that I can be.

I’m a real lucky cat, because I got to spend all day yesterday appreciating them. All the love in the world to my partner, Kass and our brilliant daughter, Soleil… My mama and my mom-in-law, and all my sisters. I’ve got a lot to love in this life, and I’m glad that it started with them. Peace.

-Corn

How I Ended Up at Burger King on 4th Ave. (or the random trials and tribulations of MisterMinor)

This was almost my breakfast.

How I Ended Up at Burger King on 4th Ave. (or the random trials and tribulations of MisterMinor)

February 13, 2013  |  Family  |  6 Comments

One thing that I love about Brooklyn kids is that they are not afraid to call you out. As an adult who works with young people, you have to be on your game.

At all times.

This being the case, I should not have been surprised that the first words in homeroom this morning were, “Son, Minor talks all that talk about healthy eating, and I saw him ordering off the dollar menu at Burger King this morning!”

Busted.

I was at Burger King this morning, but y’all making it sound worse than it really was. What had happened was:

  1. …so I might have forgotten to order the groceries this week.
  2. The only breakfast in at the house might have belonged to the baby.
  3. I might even have examined said baby breakfast and thought, “this is edible… and healthy!”
  4. I might have chastised myself for thinking about eating the baby’s food.
  5. Then I might have reminded myself, “I pay the bills here, this is technically MY FOOD!”
  6. Then I might have felt a deep sense of shame – thinking, “Fatherhood is supposed to be about honor, and there is no honor in eating organic baby food for breakfast.”
  7. Shame might have driven me to the dollar menu.

This same sense of shame had me explaining to an incredulous crew of Brooklyn kids that, “sometimes you just need to order a ‘CrossainWich’.”

Today’s Lesson: Integrity means staying out of Burger King — even if there is no food at the house. Peace.

-Corn

The New Americans*

My AMERICAN mom.

The New Americans*

February 10, 2013  |  Culture, Family, Teaching  |  7 Comments

“Don’t call it a comeback. We’ve been here for years…” — LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out

Before LL Cool J hosted mediocre Grammy award ceremonies. He was a bad man. That enduring sentiment on comebacks from his 1990 classic, Mama Said Knock You Out,  has haunted me these past few days.

Strange.

Mainly because I’ve had so much to celebrate. My mother became a citizen of the United States the other day.

Her legal process has spanned two and a half decades. After what felt like a lifetime spent with lawyers, the moment she took her oath was powerfully emotional and ultimately cathartic.

Though our story is our own, it is far from unique. I have grown to know hundreds of immigrant families whose collective wishes for safety and freedom and opportunity fuel their desire to work and sacrifice and their bold audacity to dream in the face of an American reality that increasingly mirrors the same realities that we sought to leave abroad. When I think about the current discussion on immigration reform, my heart aches with the memory of years of INS worries, job worries, will-things-be-okay-for-my-parents worries. When I work across the classrooms of this great city. I see myself – and my worries – in the eyes of many of the students that I serve.

Each morning, my prayers are that my work somehow makes this American experience more beautiful and less stressful for them. This evening, I realize that those prayers are also for my mother… Most recently, they are for my own daughter.

My greatest professional learning has been that one cannot simply hope and pray. The progress that we hope to see requires a work ethic that we have yet to see. That is to say, if we want to reach unprecedented heights, we need an unprecedented hustle. I’m glad that my American mother taught me that lesson early. To quote the late great, Gil Scott-Heron, This ain’t no new thing.

I’ve been here for years. I’m thankful for the opportunity to hustle hard. I hope she’s proud.

-Corn