Tag Archives: teaching

Aunt Sadie’s Angel: Book Review

Aunt Sadie’s Angel: A Review

Author: Lisa-Jane Erwin

Illustrator: Lauren A. Brown

Copyright 2015

220 pages

 

Whatever you learned about Heaven in Sunday School…forget it!  Aunt Sadie’s Angel re-imagines the heavenly kingdom as a celestial organization, complete with bureaucracy, professional challenges, political jockeying, miscommunication, and the stresses of doing an eternity of good work.  Author Lisa-Jane Erwin presents the story of having to put aside a lifetime of differences in order to provide care for a young girl.

Elderly Aunt Sadie, only weeks away from being spirited to the Pearly Gates, is throwing paradise into confusion.  The head wing-maAngelsker is not prepared, there is the uncertainty of who her guardian angel is, and worst of all, when Aunt Sadie’s mortality expires, and the granddaughter she is caring for will be left alone.  Angels are scrambling to figure out who her father is and what angelic side of the family will watch over her. Rivalries and responsibilities are called into question, all under the watchful eye of the Most High.

Lisa-Jane Erwin’s writing is clear and direct, painting a heavenly landscape as a place divided by occupations, importance, and activities.  The story reads like a tale told around the fireplace on a Saturday evening, inviting the audience to be spellbound and asking for more.  It requires the reader to suspend preconceived notions of Heaven and the behavior of angels.  Some may find it refreshing to find heavenly residents to continue to have the same human foibles as they did on Earthly plane.

Suitable for younger readers, complete with strong messages of faith, responsibility, and a commitment to serving a higher power.  A common read for a youth group or a summer reading selection.

You can get your copy of Aunt Sadie’s Angel at Amazon.com and lisajaneerwin.com.

Guy A. Sims is the author of the novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  

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Predator in the Kitchen

witch

If you are familiar with the old Friday night chiller theater or the Saturday afternoon movies, we were told that a vampire couldn’t enter your house unless you invited him or her in.  Pretty good defense—just don’t let that bloodsucker in.  As we got older and began adventuring through our neighborhoods, walked to and from school, or had the freedom to walk through the mall while parents shopped, we were warned not to talk to strangers.  The message reinforced in our little minds back then was that there were dangers “out there” that would do us substantial harm if we weren’t careful.

Monsters!  Both fictional and real were entities we became trained to avoid. At the movies we knew to shout to the victim on the screen not to go into the basement or up into the attic.  At the playground, we warned our friends about the strange man offering candy or needing your help to find a “lost puppy”.  Today it seems, is different.  Like the terrified babysitter discovered in the film, When a Stranger Calls, the trouble is coming from inside the house.

Those with sensibilities are inundated with images of our children displaying behaviors which would be deemed adding to the delinquency of a minor back in the day.  Unfortunately the cell phone, Instagram, Youtube, and other tools of social media are used, not to raise light to problems but to highlight this behavior with the hollow hopes of viral stardom.  What’s worse, it is not strangers capturing these images and posting them, it is (used loosely) mothers, fathers, and other so-called responsible adults.  The lives of our children are being preyed upon and not by creepy creeps in trench coats.  The predators are right there in the kitchen.

What are adults thinking when they allow their underage daughters in a Christmas parade twerking to a song–with the lyrics blasting–“make that ass go”?  What about the parade organizers?  Or how about the organized music video featuring a grown man “coaching” girls of all ages shaking and twerking it down to his commands.  This Hut-Hut video has the stench of disturbance with the thought that their parents had to have the taste of oh we gettin’ up out the ghetto fame dripping from their mouths.  No stranger sneaking behind bushes enticing our most vulnerable to do something they know they shouldn’t.  The invitation comes right at the front door with parents driving them to the shoot and cheering them on.

It’s not just our youngsters twerking and grinding on each other, we have a generation of young speaking and engaging with each other like wayward homies on the corner.  With adults filming, cajoling, and laughing in the background, toddlers, just learning to talk swear and ignorantly using racial slurs.  The ignorance of this is affixed on both fronts; the baby doesn’t know what he is saying and the adults do not know the impact their sick and immature frivolity will have on this child.

Not to be outdone, parents film and encourage their children to cuss out and fight other children with the hopes of making it to the big time–Worldstar.  Dreams of 1 Million Youtube hits is waged upon by each and every hit, kick and punch.  Even the gladiators of Rome were treated as gods before they battled each other.  These children are treated as Niggers when they are forced to fight and become less than when over.

How can you stomach it?  How can your heart not ache and break when these videos and stories come across your screens?  Are there not tears being shed on their behalf?  The late Whitney Houston sang, “I believe that children are the future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.”  Is anybody listening?  What is being taught and where is it leading?  This ultra-violent, ultra-sexualized, and apparent obliviousness to common civility is fast becoming the norm.  It is the way of the culture.

As a child, when things weren’t right in the neighborhood, there was Neighborhood Watch.  When someone saw something dangerous they alerted the appropriate people.  It was called out. This is what we need now more than ever.  In this cyber-hood we live in we need a cyber-neighborhood watch.  We need to call out those who push and promote the images that stymie our cultural future.  We need to stand on our cyber-porches and say, “not on this block G!”

There is hope though.  There are videos and posts of beautiful children doing phenomenal things; science, math, sports, the arts, public speaking and more.  Yes, our children can repeat all the words to Drunk in Love but they can also recite from memory all of the elements from the Periodic Chart…if we expect them to.  They can tell you what was happening all around the world in 1789…if we expect them to.  They can play instruments. They can do all forms of dance (beyond twerking).  They can aspire to lead a nation.  They can do it all if we have that as the expectation.

In conclusion, bear witness to the possibilities.  If your heart is to ache, let it because you are witnessing something powerful from your children.  If you must shed a tear, shed it because that is the only way for joy to leave your body.  Again, from the mouth of Whitney, “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”  Just remember, the children cannot learn if we do not teach them.

Amen Brother!

Guy A. Sims is the author of the novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novella, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the forthcoming Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  BCEPressworks.com

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A KWANZAA TREE? HMMM!

Kwanzaa Tree

I was seven years old when my father brought the concept and beginning traditions of Kwanzaa into our home.  It was sometime after Thanksgiving of 1968 when he suggested that we try it.  Of course, not knowing much about it, having my father endorse it, and knowing that it started after Christmas, I figured it couldn’t be all that bad.  Little did I know that my brothers and I were in for a life changing experience.

Now before I go further, a lot of people share that they have life changing experiences all the time.  A good book, a movie, a collection of songs/videos dropped without you knowing, all of these and more have been indicators that lives will never be the same.  Now, I don’t discount anyone who says they have had a life changing experience but for me, the true test of a life changing experience is simply you are now doing something radically different from before.

Okay, back to 1968.  As the calendar neared December 25th, I knew something was, as Sherlock Holmes would say, afoot.  When asked when do we go to pick up a Christmas Tree from the gas station down the street (for 4.00), my father said that we weren’t going to get one.  We’re celebrating Kwanzaa now.    NO CHRISTMAS TREE???  What in the name of holly jolly is going on here? Immediately, the prospect of celebrating Kwanzaa became the number one agenda for our next family meeting.  Can you imagine Christmas without a tree.  That’s like Thanksgiving without the turkey (which our family did several times as well).  My brothers and I conspired to make sure we would have a tree.  We would do like kids would do on the Wonderful World of Disney and go into the woods and cut down one ourselves…unfortunately, we lived in the city, didn’t have a saw, and it was too cold.

Thankfully, our father had another plan…not a plan B…he had already had the answer for where our presents (yes, we still would receive presents) to appear magically.  He told us…I mean he schooled us on the history of the Christmas Tree, explaining its Germanic roots and clarified that it was cool for others but for us it was important to have symbols which represented us.  On that note, he gathered a few boxes, attached lights (the lights we would have used for the tree), covered the boxes with African print cloth, and then adorned the structure with plants and African figurines.  The tree was retired and replaced with our new African Rainforest.  This was our connection to the Motherland while still embracing our American cultural practices of getting presents on Christmas morning.

Truth be told, I didn’t think it would work.  Thankfully, for a seven year old child, I was wrong.  Christmas morning I awoke, crawled out of bed, booked it downstairs, and stood in awe.  There they were…presents under the tree rainforest.  From there our Christmas continued as normal. The fire was lit in the fireplace, we took turns reading portions of the Christmas story from the Bible, shared the highs and lows of the year, and proceeded to take turns giving out presents (I don’t know what it feels like to run downstairs and just opening presents without other family members—someone will have to share that with me).

The next day we began experimenting on how to celebrate the new cultural holiday, Kwanzaa.  The first step was to learn and memorize the Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles).  My mother found recipes for different dishes for us to eat over the next seven days.  We held Kwanzaa parties and introduced friends and family to Kwanzaa, demystifying it, taking it from being characterize as “Black Christmas” to a time to reconnect with our culture and prepare our hearts and minds for the new year.  While Kwanzaa focuses its symbols on the agricultural practices back in our collective homeland, we urbanites can harvest the skills and strength to build our families, communities, nation, and race (that’s taken from the first principle, Umoja).

Just like people of different backgrounds and life stations celebrate Christmas in their own way, Kwanzaa offers the same flexibility.  It doesn’t require the banishment of a tree, Santa, or Sugar Plum fairies (if that’s your cup of eggnog).  It is about coming together as a family and remembering the strength our ancestors have planted within us.

As for trees….have you seen the price for a live one?  Makes you wanna shout Habri Ghani!?!

Guy A. Sims is the author of the Philadelphia-based romance novel, Living Just A Little and crime novella, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim and the much anticipated, graphic novel, Brotherman: Revelation.   He also adapted the award winning youth novel, Monster (by Walter Dean Myers) into a graphic novel.

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