Dang, Malcolm X

I prefer to picture him with facial hair.

I prefer to picture him with facial hair.

Gonna ease my way into the good stuff. It’s at the bottom if you’re short on time today.

Remember all that jazz I laid out about it being spring, and perfect people-watching weather in my last post? – Oops, after looking that over I may have forgotten to add in the part about people-watching, but that’s what good weather beckons. Well, folks, it is not spring, and it is not warm, and if you want a good people-watching show I strongly suggest you get back on the subway and ride it to

A) Williamsburg, Brooklyn – A guaranteed opportunity to see hipsters, day or night, in under twenty minutes if travelling from Union Square. Come see the people who were doing it first, do it first: wearing overalls, growing odd facial hair, carrying purses made of cardboard, discussing music groups you haven’t heard of.

But no matter how hard you pray, you can never fake the excitement that fills a car on the L train if a SURF COMPETITION breaks out. “Surf!” someone yells. And suddenly there are five or six guys standing in the middle of the car, hands above their heads, trying to stay upright as the subway violently jerks beneath the ground. Someone always falls. And for some reason, he is the winner. I use my Bible to make an extra loud noise and always join in the cheering.

B) The Bronx – Take the D train. Sit in one of the middle cars. Go between the hours of 7:00 and 9:00pm, and then wait for Daniel to board. His name might not be Daniel, but that doesn’t matter to you. What matters is that he has batteries for a dollar, pens, and dvd’s of every movie currently in the theatres and a few that haven’t landed yet. (Hello, new Star Trek).  He’ll be the Asian man standing in the middle of a lot of Hispanics, but the way you really tell it’s him is by the petite baby rattle he shakes as moves through the aisle.

Another quick note about Daniel and the D Train: one night, Brandon (foolishly) tried getting Daniel to give him his cell phone number. Daniel couldn’t understand what my husband was saying, but he nodded yes. Foreigners do that to one another, nod yes profusely, until they meet at a verbal intersection of understanding. Brandon pulled out his phone to take down his number and when Daniel realized that Brandon wanted to contact him – an obvious no-no in the shady, bootleg dvd business! – he ran.

But I digress. You can also go to

C) Clinton Hill, Brooklyn – Which is where I live. And you can watch children pile on in the early evenings on days when you too skip the gym.

Recently, I did just that and observed a boy, maybe four or five, attempt a game of tic-tac-toe with his aunt. He pulled the notebook they were sharing onto his lap and tried to draw the board. You know, two vertical lines and two horizontal lines. Simple enough, but he couldn’t do it and it was her fault. She’d show him how to draw the board, but then she’d put a box around its edges. To a four year old, you have just complicated things. You have essentially given him NINE boxes to draw by doing this, and he CAN’T.

Finally, she took over drawing each new board. To my disappointment, this kid was equally terrible at playing the game itself. I wanted him to give it to her good – He’s gonna show you a thing or two about over complicating a game board – but he lost again and again, round after round.

“What an idiot,” I mumbled, and to my absolute horror his nine year old sister fidgeted in her seat and locked eyes on me. Three, two, one, ok she’s not crying and she’s not tattling…

When she went back to reading her book, I dropped the arm I was using to hold onto the railing, and switched sides so I didn’t have to look at them. What is wrong with me? I just called a child an idiot.

And that’s the moment when I knew that I was going to post about – duh da da, patience! And there have been so many examples of when to have patience, when NOT to have patience, and when to patiently wait this week. For starters, I kicked off a deep dive of the book of Isaiah in the Bible, and it’s all about Holy transformation. I couldn’t help thinking of all the ways in which I wasn’t holy enough to do this, or righteous enough to do that, and had to slam the book shut so I could murder the lies in my own head. For righteousness is not by works, but by faith. And boy, do I believe. But it’s not going to be an overnight event. This is a lifelong commitment to be the best and mirror Christ. You don’t shake your behind in the club for years and then magically forget that “Beez in the Trap” by Nicki Minaj has one of the greatest beats you’ve ever heard. That is a scientific fact. That beat could stop wars if we mounted tanks with speakers and rolled it through the streets.

I want to be clear about something though…Nicki Minaj miiiiiight be the devil. Just sayin.’ But, we’re gonna be patient with her right?

Someone asked me why I was so “religious” and I told them because Jesus found me in “’da club” dancing on a table. “Did he really?” he asked.

“Yup,” I said. “I was like, dancing, like this (shows dance moves), and then Jesus walked over and quietly said—“

“Get your ass off the table?” he finished.

“No! It was more like ‘My daughter, oh my precious beloved—“

“Get ‘ya ass off the table?”

Sigh. “No,” I said. “Forget it.” And we had a good laugh.

Jesus was patient with me. He saw my potential. He knows I can be complete. But until then I say to you and most definitely to me, Yes, absolutely, work hard and apply yourself and do everything good you know how to do…and then have some patience. With yourself…

…and especially when it comes to other people.” —Oh and news flash, people don’t start out whole. People are on journeys, and for some reason we forget this in the day-to-day living of our lives. The child doesn’t master tic-tac-toe instantaneously, he’s learns to do so through loss after painful loss.

The addict doesn’t stop smoking weed the moment you scold him to put it down. If he is like me, he learns through fatigue, and lack of money, and a genuine dislike of self when high.

The new Christian needs time to grow. The non-believer needs room to see.

And the old Christian, the experienced one, needs breathing room to apply what is seen and heard into practice. I need time, we need time, to break our dvd habit. My Dad needs time to let the prayers I’ve prayed work all the way through his life. My colleague needs time to receive the advice I’ve given her. Where would we be if someone were to cast us off because we hadn’t yet arrived?

I have decided that I am not going to support things I don’t agree with, but I’m not going to throw people away either. Not going to make them feel excluded, but I’m going to hold my (really firm) ground while I relate. Conform?, no never that. But relate, yes. And pull you up to higher ground.

After pondering this, I really thought I had discovered something – by George, I’ve coined an idea!—until I was reminded that there is nothing new under the sun – how beautifully biblical is that phrase? – plus I saw this quote by Malcolm X:

“Don’t be in such a hurry to condemn a person because he doesn’t what you do, or think as you were. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.”

And then I was all like, “Dannng, Malcolm X, you said what I was thinking!” And obviously Malcolm X didn’t answer me back, but if he had I imagined it would have been with a “Sho’ nuff.”

Or maybe not. But either way, that is all. I am off to work on making this a reality, and extending it to others as much as I know how.

Written to: “Heartless” – the Kris Allen cover of Kanye West’s song; “Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin. “If I Ain’t Got You” – the Maroon 5 cover by Alicia Keys’ song.


One thought on “Dang, Malcolm X

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