Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Going Without the Usual

I have decided to take on another challenge that supports my effort to be associated with or be the lead on a sacrificial project. If you recall in January I spent a day in silence and avoided eating for 16 hours in support of the Palestinians during the most recent Middle East conflict.

For the month of February I have elected to limit myself to purchasing food in a grocery store, and only spending $120 for the entire month on the food that I buy. At present, I have spent $118.50. In the event I deplete my food funding prior to the 28th, I will eat frozen dinners that were given to me from a friend whose mother received an influx of Meals on Wheels dinners.

You may be saying to yourself, ‘that will not be too difficult for The Black Rebel.’ It will because I spend on the average $220 a month on food. This food may come from a restaurant, it may be in the form of a latte or smoothie, or it may be from my weekly stop at a fast food joint for French fries. This month none of that will occur!

Why am I doing this?

To once again go back to my roots. I remember my mother giving me food stamps to buy items at the local supermarket. I was so embarrassed. Now, I want to relive part of that experience: having to budget monies for food to the last penny. I also want to empathize with those Americans today who have to go without eating at times so that their children can eat and become one with those folk who have to eat terribly unhealthy because in the United States healthy food is more expensive. Such a travesty!

I take part in activities/challenges like this so that I can ‘go without’. Feel what it will be like to be in someone less fortunate shoes. To remind myself and fellow Americans that our priorities may not be align with what is morally RIGHT. A perfect example of priorities out of place was seen during the Super Bowl production (if you watched that marvelous game). The commercials that we look forward to tell the American story: Greed, sex, and more greed.

As the picture above suggest, America is more interested in using corn to save money on oil than feeding the millions of hungry people right here in the United States and beyond our shores.

Source of my inspiration:

-The Black Rebel

A Day of Protest: What Difference did it Make?

When I applied for the Peace Corps my uncle Jerry asked me, “What are you doing? Stay home and do some good. Do you really think you are going to make a difference?” At that very moment, I felt deflated. All the motivation to do something sacrificially worthwhile quickly left my body. I was somewhat in agreement with his skepticism because I knew what he was implying; and I also believed his blunt hint: ‘No change will come as a result of your two year sacrifice.’

I could have allowed Uncle Jerry to discourage me from facing the challenge and the disappointment – but nothing could penetrate my straight out of college idealism. Not even known defeat…or was it accurate pessimism? Either way, I was ready to conquer and change the world. Ready like I was this past Friday. Embolden to be one in solidarity with the Palestinians. But, filled with anxiety when and if I faced a critic and/or Israel sympathizer.
While I did not sacrifice too much, I did have to endure the looks and the whispers. Initially, I could not determine if the people who wanted to notice me were quietly cheering me on or if they were disgusted with my declaration: Israel is Dead Wrong, and Our Leaders are Cowards. With this wrapped around my head and pasted to my chest, I assumed the Che Guevera t-shirt intimidated several too. Being big and black was a factor also. Not too many people are bold enough to question a brotha of my physical stature.

Thankfully, the majority of the people who approached me at Perimeter Mall were black. Actually, black females. The brothas looked at me as if: ‘What is this jackass doing? While the white females had that look of intrigue and attraction. Most of the fellas know that look: Is ‘it’ really that big? The black women did not have their minds in my pants. They stopped by my food court lunch table that soon became my lunch domain because when I sat down the white folk, men mostly, got gone. No questions. Only looks of condemnation. Did not bother me at all! I had the space to myself which meant that I was in control. I was holding court. Stating and declaring my purpose, my mission for the day: Bring attention to the Israel-Gaza conflict by representing and supporting the now dead 600 plus men, women, and children of Gaza.

After I left the mall, it was time to hit a bookstore. There, I was able to engage several people on both sides of the issue. Of course, my barrier was the inability to talk. Nonetheless, I was able to justify my political two-point stance with a writing pad and pen. Barnes and Noble was safe. Full of progressives and rebels. Surprisingly, I got the Black Power fist from an elderly white man.
Kroger Supermarket was abrasive. Yes, tough grounds at the grocery store! The stares cut. The mumbles were not silent. So that I would not bring anymore attention to myself and to stop security from following me I gathered my meal items for my late feast, scanned the items, swiped my MasterCard, and as I walked to my American made vehicle tried my best not to smack the obvious Israeli cohort. He got too close. All up in my personal space. When I felt his finger poke in my oversized deltoid it was time to hit or flee. I left.

My day concluded with a meal. A meal that I had waited on for more than 16 hours. Those of you who know me understand that me not eating is a bad thing. The fast (no food and water) was tough – but as I have said time and time again: “Not eating for hours is nothing compared to the days some people in Gaza have went without eating since the beginning of the most recent Middle East conflict.”

This was my day. My experience.

Did I make a difference?

Perhaps. I received an email from a man (a policeman) who now claims I helped him “see” both sides of the issue. That was my intent on January 9, 2009: To get someone to think.

-The Black Rebel