Tag Archives: Philosophy

Relax Her? She’s Just a Baby!

10 Aug

2013-08-05 10.35.50

“I see Quinn’s hair has turned from straight to a curly little afro. She’s going to need a relaxer soon” is what I was told most recently in a joking way.  Though I laughed it off in an effort to not be overly sensitive, I did not see the humor in this person’s observation, just the implications that come along with such a statement.

Was this person suggesting that straight hair is beautiful, but curly hair is ugly? It made me think about Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary “Good Hair” and how much of an impact this obsession with not just hair but looks in general has on all people, but definitely females. I mean, even a three month old baby girl does not get a pass!

Almost fifteen years ago, I decided to stop getting relaxers to straighten my hair because I like the versatility of being able to wear it curly or straight if I wish. Plus it is much healthier. Initially I struggled with feeling comfortable wearing my hair in whatever “natural” style I wanted in certain settings for some time, but I am finally able to appreciate my natural beauty and not as caught up in how I am perceived by mainstream society.

It is up to me to lead by example. My hope is to teach my little girl to embrace her natural beauty and to not develop a complex or be apprehensive about rocking an afro, twist out, even dread locks or straight if she prefers.  Should she choose to apply chemicals to her hair to make it straight or a different color, I want it to be because she wants to do it, not because it is necessary in order to be considered attractive or to fit in with what is considered acceptable.

How would you or did you address this issue with your child. Please feel free to share.

All the best,

Tanya

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Smile? I’m a Natural Born Frowner:

3 Aug
Baby Quinn Smiling

Baby Quinn Smiling

Hurry, grab the camera! The baby is smiling again! I have been obsessed with seeing my baby smile for the first time and every time after that. Interestingly, little Quinn had absolutely no problem frowning or making a face to display discomfort immediately after birth accompanied with a piercing cry. But with eager anticipation, I waited about two months for that first “real” smile (Not from gas or in her sleep).

Why aren’t we natural born smilers? Is it that we have nothing to smile about at birth and are miserable? My husband and I discussed this, and he deduced that it is all about survival instincts, and smiling and laughing will not get a baby fed, but frowning and crying will. I’m sure he’s onto something because feral children who were severely neglected and had little to no human contact typically do not know how to smile and must be taught through human interaction.

Seeing my baby smile for the first time and now smiling each day has me thinking about what a major milestone it is. Imagine going through life and never smiling or not even knowing how to smile. I’m sure we all know someone (Hopefully you are not that someone) who always has a frown or sour look on his or her face or might even have a permanent frown upon reaching a certain age from constantly putting a frown on his or her face in the past. When you were a little baby, someone’s face lit up upon seeing you smile or hearing you giggle, so why not make a more conscious effort to smile as adults? Some people may say, “I don’t have anything to smile about.” But having the ability to smile should be reason enough.

Though I was not always a smiler, especially during that awkward adolescent stage from preteens to early adulthood, I have learned the significance of smiling, and seeing my little girl smile has reinforced that lesson. I always greet her by happily saying, “Good Morning,” and she usually responds with a big smile. This has confirmed for me that how we start off the day and how we greet others is very important for us as well as the people with whom we come in contact. Whether it is a big teethy smile at my students in the morning, a small one at a passerby during a morning walk or at the cashier as I pay for my items, my smile just might brighten up someone else’s day. Have you smiled today? If so, how many times? The more the better is my philosophy.

All the best,

Tanya

P.S.  Keep Smiling : – )

Life Quickly Moves in Slow Motion

27 Jul

Tanya Harris FranklinWho hasn’t heard the phrase, “Life is too short” or “Time just seems to fly by?”  I’ve even uttered it myself on numerous occasions, but after setting up a dropcam for my baby girl’s nursery (Side note: this is an excellent gadget and can be used for far more than a baby’s nursery. It allows you to a view footage from anywhere on a wifi connection on your iPad, iPod, Android or computer) I have started to become a bit obsessed with watching the footage and question those very statements many of us say repeatedly.  There was one instance in particular when I was watching past footage of my husband and I getting our daughter ready for bedtime.  As he was putting a onesie on her, I was “quickly” straightening up the bathroom and putting her little tub back in its rightful place leaving my husband to fend for himself with our feisty little two month old.  What was actually forty-five seconds to a minute at best seemed like an eternity when I watched the footage. I questioned myself wondering if I was taking too long to straighten things up.  Why does it seem like it was much longer than it was?  I guess that’s why many of these “reality” shows have so much footage edited and removed because watching real life with no edits can be quite slow moving and even boring to some people.

As a result of watching random videos of my life going so quickly in slow motion, I have began pondering over rather life is indeed too short or if time is significantly flying by, or am I just not making every moment of my life count and simply wasting time on unproductive activities?  Why is it that life tends to move more quickly when we are active participants, whereas, it can move at a turtle’s pace when we are mere observers?  I am still figuring out the answers as I compose this blog post, but what I do know is that watching this footage has given me an epiphany: every hour, minute, second and millisecond of not just my life but the lives of those I love and care about matters, and I must sometimes slow down my pace yet be quick on my feet to enjoy life, the people and things that matter the most to me.   Please feel free to share any thoughts you have on one of my random musings.

All the best,

Tanya

Profound Hip Hop Quote #37: How Native is Your Tongue?

1 Oct

Two weeks ago, I posted a blog entry on A Tribe Called Quest to celebrate their documentary coming to DVD on October 18, and it got me thinking about the collection of positive-minded, “real-talk” rappers whose voices were prominent in the 1980s and 1990s: The Native Tongues.  Even though there are a sprinkling of artists presently doing their things who are on the same vibe, during the 80s and 90s is when they actually received consistent radio play and were able to get that positive message out there. So I thought, why not dedicate a post to reflecting on some of their profound quotes.

“Buddy” is a song that represents a few of the Native Tongue members.  Check it out!

  1. Black SheepBlack Sheep, “The Choice is Yours:” “You can get with this, or you can get with that.  I think you’ll get with this, for this is where it’s at.”
  2. Jungle Brothers, “Beyond This World” “Confused, no landing, no understanding.  But I knew not to give what life was demanding.  Found a new tab, thought I’d take a grab.  Tired of brothers who feign to backstab”
  3. De La Soul, “Stakes is High:” “Man life can get all up in your ass baby you betta work it out.  Let me tell you what it’s all about.  A skin not considered equal.  A meteor has more right than my people.  Who be wastin’ time screaming who they’ve hated.  That’s why the Native Tongues have officially been re-instated.”Jungle Brothers
  4. Queen Latifah, “U.N.I.T.Y.:” “Instinct leads me to another flow; Every time I hear a brother call a girl a bitch or a ho.  Trying to make a sister feel low.  You know all of that gots to go.”
  5. Leaders of the New School, “Understanding the Inner Mind’s Eye “Word is bond and I give my, Life before my word shall fall.  Do me a favor listen up y’all.  We got to activate social;  Activity for one common cause,  Cherish your mind or you will perish.
  6. Brand NubianBrand Nubian, “Wake Up:” You see, the answer to me is black unity .  Unification to help our bad situation
  7. A Tribe Called Quest, “Oh My God:” “Listen up everybody the bottom line.  I’m a black intellect, but unrefined; with precision like a bullet, target bound, just livin like a hooker, the harlett sounds.”De La Soul
  8. Monie Love, “It’s a Shame:”  “Get back on your feet please.  I’m beggin you to check out all your own needs.
  9. Large Professor, “It’s About That Time:”   “There’s a whole lotta rappers in the world today; Some good, there’s some that gotnothing to say, Some fake, some false, some imitation, But I’m the uncut raw for your generation.
  10. Fu-Schnickens, “Ring the Alarm  ” You can tell I’m a lyrical prophet from the words spoken and broken up.  In these books and scrolls that I unfold.  The knowledge I use does make me bold.  The intelligence in my system converts itself and becomes wisdom”Monie Love

The Limitations of not only ten songs but ten artists with ten specific lines from those selected those ten songs is no easy task; there’s so many more songs I could reference.  Who’s your favorite artist from the Native Tongues?   Please feel free to share.

All the best,

Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin


Profound Hip Hop Quote #35: Imagine Beats, Rhymes & Life Without A Tribe Called Quest

17 Sep

A Tribe Called QuestWhen they left their wallet in El Segundo, we empathized and went along for the ride to retrieve it. We rooted for them to be put on by Bonita Applebum. They taught us how to check the “rhime.” Interestingly, they asked repeatedly if they can kick it when of course anyone plugged into hip hop during the late 80s throughout the 90s can attest to this group’s ability to come with that butter flow in any scenario and bring that electric relaxation to take us on that long overdue award tour. If you have yet to figure out who I’m referencing, then you are missing one of the prototypes who represents authentic hip-hop.  During the summer of  2011, a documentary, by Michael Rapaport, entitled, “Beats, Rhymes & Travels: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest”  was released in select theaters.  Unfortunately, by the time I and many other interested viewers were made aware of the film, it was no longer on the big screen.  Nevertheless, all hope is not loss.  This documentary, which has received praise, will be available on DVD on October 18, 2011, approximately one month from now, and I plan on being one of the first people to obtain my copy.  A Tribe Called Quest has always been one of my favorite groups.  I love their jazzy vibe beats, the delivery of their rhymes and their topics about daily life occurrences that range from record label headaches, to date rape to just partying and having a good time.  They will always be on my top ten list of best rap groups. So,  I’d like to not only celebrate the pending release of the documentary but my love for these artists by providing a playlist of some of my favorite ATCQ songs and lyrics.

A Tribe Called Quest

  1. Check the Rhime“Rap is not pop, if you call it that then stop.”
  2. Butter: “Your whole appearance is a lie and it could never be true.  And if you really loved yourself then you would try and be you.”
  3. Award Tour: “The wackest crews try to dis, it makes me laugh. When my track record’s longer than a DC-20 aircraft. So next time that you think you want somethin’ here. Make somethin’ differ, take that garbage to St. Elsewhere.”
  4. Bonita Applebum: “Hey, being with you is a top priority. Ain’t no need to question the authority. Chairman of the board, the chief of affections. You got mine’s to swing in your direction.”A Tribe Called Quest
  5. Jazz “Stern firm and young with a laid-back tongue. The aim is to succeed and achieve at 21. Just like Ringling Brothers, I’ll daze and astound, Captivate the mass, cause the prose is profound.”
  6. Buggin Out: “I never walk the streets, think it’s all about me.  Even though deep in my heart, it really could be.  I just try my best to like go all out.  Some might even say yo shorty black you’re buggin’ out”A Tribe Called Quest
  7. Oh My God: “Listen up everybody the bottom line.  I’m a black intellect, but unrefined; with precision like a bullet, target bound, just livin like a hooker, the harlett sounds.”
  8. Lyrics to Go:  “A Tribe Called Quest we on the run for whatever. Trials and tribulations that we have to endeavor”
  9. Scenario:   “I could give a damn about a ill subliminal.  Stay away from crime cause I ain’t no CRIMINAL.  I love my young nation, groovy sensation.  No time for hibernation, only elation.”
  10. Show Business:  ” So you still wanna do the show business?  And you think that you got what it takes?  I mean you really gotta rap and be all that…And prepare yourself for the breaks

It was extremely difficult to not only limit myself to ten songs but to only include specific lines from those selected those ten songs.  What’s your favorite A Tribe Called Quest song?   Please feel free to share.  Also, if you saw or plan on seeing the documentary, share your thoughts as well.

All the best,

Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin


Profound Hip Hop Quote #33: Greatest Story Never Told

4 Sep

“Lo and behold, “Greatest Story Never Told”
Chapter 1, Verse 1, the genesis of my scroll
Is realer than 9/11, I rhyme about lyin’ reverends
While showin’ ’em total respect to the big guy in Heaven
I rap about politicians how money’s their acquisition
To get it they gotta keep us without a pot to piss in
.” 

—“Greatest Story Never Told” by Saigon

SaigonEverybody has a story to tell.  As a matter of fact, people often refer to their lives as stories.  What makes for a great story?  There must be a well-thought-out plot, interesting characters, an appropriate setting, an established theme, etc. to bring the story to life.  However, there is one literary attribute that oftentimes goes overlooked: the point of view.  From whose perspective is the story being told?  This aspect cannot only change the purpose of the story, but it can also determine what information is or is not relayed and with whom the reader identifies or empathizes with the most.  There will always be a point of view of a story that remains unexposed.  This could possibly be “The Greatest Story Never Told.”

Saigon, born Brian Daniel Carenard, (http://www.saigonnation.com/) is a witty rapper who hails from Brooklyn and has no problem recalling stories from his past, present and where he’s headed in the future.  I became familiar with him through “Scratch” magazine back in 2006 and have been an avid listener of his mix tapes and street albums ever since.  In 2011, Saigon’s Studio album “The Greatest Story Never Told” debuted, and I am happy to report that the album is a must-have in any true hip-hop collector’s arsenal.

Of course, the beat, produced by Just Blaze, captivated me, but as I listened intently to the lyrics I was entranced.  In these specific lyrics, Saigon exposes those leaders whose stories people readily believe or not.  Saigon wants listeners to acknowledge that there is always another point of view: the untold story.  For example, he says, “I rhyme about lyin’ reverends while showin’  ’em total respect to the big guy in heaven.” On many occasions, people believe the stories they are told because of the source.  Sadly, some people of the cloth can be the most deceptive  because they know that their “flock” will accept their stories as truth because they are supposed to be spiritual leaders.

Furthermore, Saigon proclaims, “I rap about politicians how money’s their acquisition.  To get it they gotta keep us without a pot to piss in.”  Most people, even politicians themselves, will admit that there is corruption in the political system which often stems back to money and power.  During election time, a plethora of advertisements are on TV, the radio and even online encouraging voters to “Vote for me; I’m the best candidate for the people!”  The hope is that there are some honest politicians out there who truly want the best for their citizens, but who knows what story or point of view to really believe?

Another interpretation to consider with the concept of “The Greatest Story Never Told” is coming back full circle to your own story.  Sometimes we allow others to tell our stories or are too afraid to start new chapters, get rid of or add certain characters, or possibly change the setting of our story for a better ending.  Presently, some people may feel that their stories are horrible and not worth sharing, while others hope their stories never end.  Even though listening to the stories of others and even being a part of their stories can be essential, we mustn’t allow our own lives and aspirations to be “The Greatest Stories Never Told.”

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin

Bonus English Lesson:
Saigon, along with many other rap artists, has chosen to drop the “g” from the gerunds in his song.  For example, instead of “lying” it’s lyin’, and instead of showing it’s showin‘.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #32: School’s Back In Session!

27 Aug

“…see grades will equal stautus for power, so just like college

you’re so caught up in letter grades , you skip the ‘F’ing knowledge.” 

—“School’s In” by J-Live

J-LiveIn less than two days, my college will be back in session, and I’m eager with anticipation.  What better way to display that excitement than to include a profound quote that makes a reference towards school!  Indeed, it can be difficult to go back to school for both the students as well as the professors after a two to three month break, but the learning experiences and rapports created throughout the semester are extremely rewarding and makes the return a transition that is much more easy for me to endure.

Some students are returning from a previous semester while others are brand new or even transferring into the college, but something most of them have in common is that they want to be successful.  As their professor, I am cheering them on and want them all to be successful as well.  However, what determines one’s success as a college student?  Most people associate the final grade with the student’s academic achievements, but is this the end all be all?

J-Live, born Jean-Jacques Cadet, (j-livemusic.com) is a rapper and former 7th grade language arts teacher takes this question to a deeper level.  I most recently stumbled upon his music while searching for some underground artists to add to my Ipod rotation.  When I heard this particular song and then these specific lines, I knew I had to include his song as a profound hip hop quote to represent going back to school.

Throughout my tenure as a college student and even from pre kindergarten to twelfth grade, I believed that “grades will equal status for power,” as J-live brings to light. Interestingly, my philosophy has been slightly modified after becoming an English professor.  Even though I was never the student so caught up in the letter grades that I’d intentionally “skip the ‘F’ing knowledge,” I have come across a multitude of students and people in general who care more about the grade than what they are actually learning and retaining for years to come.

Of course, I must admit that I have been guilty of cramming in knowledge simply to do well on a test and then having most of the knowledge gradually seep out of my brain in the days and weeks to come because my sole purpose was to get that “A.”

Yes, the final grade is a significant part of one’s academic career, but the knowledge he or she leaves with is even more important.  My goal, as always, is to enlighten my students and to encourage them to be more passionate about enhancing their knowledge rather than just focusing on getting that ‘A’ in the course.  Years from now, I want my students to know how to avoid comma splices and run-on sentences and not to have someone question how they finished the course with an ‘A’  but are unable to compose an essay or basic cover letter for a potential job.  As your school semester begins, do not lose sight of what is even more important than the grade: the knowledge!

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
J-Live using a simple yet complex technique to drill the point home about obtaining knowledge over grades by incorporating a double meaning.  “Skip the ‘F’ing knowledge” not only represents the ‘F’ word, but it also represents the failing letter grade ‘F.”

Profound Hip Hop Quote #31: Do You Know How To Love?

6 Aug

“When you was just a young’un you’re looks but so precious
But now your grown up
So fly its like a blessing but you can’t have a man look at you for 5 seconds
Without you being insecure
You never credit yourself so when you got older
It’s seems like you came back 10 times over
Now you’re sitting here in this damn corner
Looking through all your thoughts and looking over your shoulder
” 

—“How to Love” by Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne

Most people, at some point in their lives, are looking for love or just want to be loved; however, when it comes to wanting to know how to love or to be taught how to love the numbers are scant.  Does knowing how to love come naturally for most, or does it take years of practice and some broken hearts along the way.  One sure-fire way to improve  “loving capabilities” with that special someone is by knowing how to love yourself.

Regardless if you love him or not as an artist, Lil Wayne, aka Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., certainly loves himself and has managed to have quite a lucrative career in the music industry thus far.  One of Lil Wayne’s most recent songs receiving airplay on the radio waves is “How to Love,” a song that has received mixed but overall favorable criticism.  Some people can do without the sing-song sound and believe it’s a flow Lil Wayne should leave behind, while others have chosen to embrace the message that comes across in the song.

The insecurity of a beautiful woman who possibly struggles with how to love herself or how to even accept love from a potential suitor and love him is a profound topic to address.  Lil wayne says,  “But you can’t have a man look at you for five seconds without you being insecure.  You never credit yourself so when you got older..” Why are some of the most beautiful women who would be considered a “blessing” so insecure?  Does it stem back to daddy/daughter issues that haven’t been dealt with? Is it not being told how “precious” they were when they were younger?

As a person who has struggled with feeling insecure, I’ve found that the more I work on loving myself the better I am at loving others.  How to love is a life-long journey, and not everybody takes the same path to get there.  Sometimes there are detours, dirt roads, expressways, etc. But if you manage to find the right pathway for you, it can be a wonderful, memorable learning experience.  Do you know how to love?  If not, what are you doing to find out?  Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Miguel utilizes slang, which is a standard practice in most rap songs.  For example he says, “So fly it’s like a blessing…”  Of course, the standard definition of fly is soaring in the sky and defying gravity, but in this instance, he is referring to the beauty of a woman.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #30: All I Want is You!!!

30 Jul

“Cause they don’t smile
Or smell like you
No they don’t make me laugh
Or even cook like you
And they don’t photograph
Nah, they don’t sex like you
Let’s face it, I can’t replace it
That’s why all I want is you now….
” 

—“All I Want is You” by Miguel featuring J. Cole

Miguel and J Cole

Love is so abstract yet extremely powerful, and it actually all starts in the mind, not the heart.  For the past few months, I’ve been reading a book entitled, “Making a Good Brain Great,” by Daniel G. Amen, M.D., and there is a chapter that addresses how the brain works when it comes to relationships.  Initially, the sex hormones lure people in to one another, but then there is this intense attraction causing  one’s brain to release adrenaline, dopamine (which is like a high from cocaine) and serotonin.  Oftentimes, this stage does not persist with the same level of intensity as the relationship progresses which partly explains why the passion in some relationships does not last or why one (sometimes both) of the people seek out a new partner in hopes of getting back that intense high again.  So what is it that keeps couples not just together but together happily?  Oxytocin, known as the cuddle hormone, and Vasopressin are the hormones that assist with this life-long attachment.

Even though in Miguel’s song featuring J.Cole, “All I Want Is You,” the issue is that the woman he loves has chosen to leave him, not only does the heart want what it wants, but so does the brain.  No other woman can satisfy him like she can, and he cannot stop thinking about her.  Are you presently experiencing a high level of “love” hormones making you passionate about the one you are with?  It’s such a wonderful feeling to not only be in love but to feel the high that comes with being in love.  Also, according to Dr. Amen, having new experiences together and keeping the passion going is not only healthy for the relationship but for the brain as well.  People are more likely to improve their health and brain power by being in healthy and happy committed relationships with the ones they love rather than seeking out those potentially short-lived adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin highs with one night affairs or flings.  The song may be entitled, “All I Want is You,” but the love, passion and gratification that one can receive from being in a long-term committed relationship is a necessity to me.  How about you?

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Miguel utilizes imagery through the five senses and juxtaposes his woman to all other possible love interests to demonstrate how much he loves and wants her in his life and how she has him completely consumed.
Sense of sight and smell: “They don’t smile or smell like you”
Sense of hearing and tasting: “No they don’t make me laugh  or even cook like you”
Sense of sight: “And they don’t photograph”
Sense of touch, sight, smell, hearing, taste: “Nah, they don’t sex like you” 

Profound Hip Hop Quote #29: Don’t Let Me Fall

23 Jul

“Well it was just a dream
Just a moment ago
I was up so high
Looking down at the sky
Don’t let me fall
I was shooting for stars
On a Saturday night
They say what goes up
Must come down
But don’t let me fall.
” 

—“Don’t Let Me Fall” by B.o.B.

B.o.B.I have a tendency to mainly listen to underground artists with a few sprinklings of the mainstream.  Perhaps one of the reasons is that most of the rap music being promoted today either sounds the same or has limited sustenance for me, or maybe I’m just getting old and turning into one of those “back in my day when music was good” type of people.  As a person who loves all different types of music, I know it is not fair to discount all mainstream sounds, so I do occasionally listen to the radio to hear what’s new. Actually, I require my English Composition II students to analyze a song of their choosing as poetry, and it gives me the chance to be exposed to different types of music or some mainstream music that I might not otherwise hear.

Last year, a student of mine selected B.o.B.’s, aka Bobby Ray Simmons Jr, song “Don’t Let Me Fall” to analyze as poetry, and I quite impressed.  We’ve all heard the cliche phrase “shoot for the stars,” but is it potentially missing the stars that stops some of us from even making the attempt to shoot?  Maybe, but I think one of the major reasons is being addressed by B.o.B.   What if you shoot for the stars and make it?  Then you have an even bigger concern: trying not to fall from the sky.  Hey, there are people who don’t fly on airplanes because they are terrified about falling out of the sky; therefore, the thought of figuratively falling out of the sky or not being successful with one’s dreams may be frightening as well.

“They say what comes up must come down,” as B.o.B.  points out; nevertheless, how you come down or even when you come down can depend on your own actions.  If you come down unprepared, well, you’ll hit the ground like a brick, and there may be no recovery from it.  However, if you pack a parachute, you’ll be ready just in case.  If you use a glider, the wind can guide you, and you might have even more air time and get to enjoy the breeze as you decline.  Let’s face it; to fall has a negative connotation.  Who really wants to fall?  But sometimes it’s necessary so that you don’t run out of oxygen, and other times you need energy to keep flying. Sometimes it’s just a matter of refueling or coming back down to pick up or drop off passengers along the way.  Also, it’s excellent when you have a solid support system including God, family, friends, co-wrokers, students, etc. to lift you up even higher or to help you if you begin to descend.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
B.o.B.  uses figurative language to demonstrate his success.  He is not literally flying high in the sky, but the impact of the potential fall can be emotionally damaging.