Tuesday, December 7, 2010


We have been missing from the blogging world due to papers for me, travel, and work for Danny. This is just a quick musing on what God seems to gently revealing to me everywhere I turn.

It is the concept of home. Henry Nouwen wrote this wonderful book The Return of the Prodigal Son, which I started reading a couple of weeks ago. The first section is about the prodigal son returning home. When I first started reading, I sobbed at the amazing thought of coming home to a father with as much grace and unconditional love as this father. I was tired, confused, and not feeling at home, yet in SF. Nouwen's words offered not conviction, but hope and invitation to come "home" to my Father's embrace, no strings attached.

I did, but the curveballs of life got in the way of me going home everyday. Then, we went to church this Sunday and the Pastor preached on Jesus overturning the money tables in the temple (John 2:13-22). His sermon was brilliant and at the end, during a prayer and response time, he was talking about home. I'm not really sure how he got there except by the power of the Holy Spirit, because that was the literal word I needed to hear. I needed the image of two children who are so confident in their father's love and provision that they stand in front of a double doored frige with both doors wide open and do not feel any shame about the electricity they are wasting. Tears came streaming down my face at the thought of having enough confidence in Jesus' love and grace to stand with the proverbial fridge wide open.

The Lord seems to be trying to tell me to live at home. To live in his embrace and the peace that comes from that. If I lived like I have been truly forgiven and am loved unconditionally, I would have so much more freedom. I would no longer be consumed by the fear of what others think about me. I would be able to love, without expecting anything in return.

So, I want to come home...each day.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Who has the power?

Yesterday, I (Robyn) was slapped awake by Matt Lauer on the Today show. He was interviewing Kanye West. It was a true example of who holds the power in "today's" society. Check it out here

While I don't agree the delivery of West's original comment (he said President Bush didn't like Black people after Huricanne Katrina), he made some good points in the interview with Lauer. However, Lauer did not address the issues and put words in West's mouth, saying "so, you are sorry?" West was very careful never to say he was sorry and I'm not sure that he was is, which is his prerogative. The interview ends with West saying that what he said may not have been delivered the message in the best way, but it came from a good place within him. I understood that he was not trying to be malicious, but there might be some merit to what he said. 

Matt Lauer made some overly simplified "wrap up comment" that essentially was "we are all human and make mistakes." That summary is so far off from what I though Mr. West was trying to convey it might as well be in Timbuktu. Lauer never addresses the race issue which West brought up multiple times....how can you be interviewing someone about a race comment and the word race doesn't end up in your summary comment? Rant over. 

So that is my first problem...Matt Lauer is telling Kanye West what to say and feel. 

West made an excellent point that the conversation around Katrina and many things that happen in this country are related to race. He said that is a "way bigger" conversation involving how this country was built, the struggles "we" (Black people) have faced, gentrification, etc. 
Lauer's response: guilt him into an apology by showing him how emotional the ex President was. SERIOUSLY?! Lauer treated him like a child who needed to be showed how much he hurt someone in order to illicit an apology. West is a grown man! He can apologize or not. And I don't see Lauer asking the ex President to apologize for his delayed reaction to Katrina, which hurt thousands of people or asking the ex President to apologize for the thousands of innocent lives that have been lost on a wild goose chase in Iraq. 

So that is my second problem....Matt Lauer treats Kanye West like he is a child

To top it all off, Lauer felt the need to reveal footage that was not a part of the final cut of the interview. The only reason you would do that? In order to cover your own ass and to make Kanye West look bad. 

There could be many reasons why Mr. West did not want the tape of him interrupting Swift at the MTV awards. A couple, off the top of my head are, he was embarrassed, he already apologized, so it should be OVER, or he was already emotional and didn't want to get more riled up. Another explanation could have been that he saw it as disrespectful. He had come to do an interview and you cut away from him. I know you do it every day, but I didn't see you do it the President. And yet another explanation might be that he has a different way of processing information and having two things happening at once is hard for him. Geeze, cut the guy some slack! Just because he did not behave like the white people you have on the show, doesn't mean you need to roll your eyes, shake your head at him, and comment that there was nothing inappropriate. Who are you to decide that Matt Lauer? God? Because I disagree with you and I think your whole interview was a bit rude and degrading. 

Third problem...trying to make an intellegent Black Man, who is well informed on current race relations and has considerable clout in the public eye, look bad to shut him up. 

The last thing that West said in regards to the Swift incident was to comment on him being called a racist. He was about to explain and then he got distracted by the clip and his explanation was never shown. THAT was what I want to see, especially since he began with "what i was expressing was my frustration from years and years of seeing.............." Was he going to point out that white people win a lot more? Was he going to say that he has seen talented artist loose, just because they are Black? A possible comment that would pull the veil back further to reveal the current race trends in our society, lost. One step forward for Matt Lauer career, two steps back for people of color. 

What kind of perception of Black people is NBC perpetuating in the minds of the viewers, most of whom are probably white? What message are they trying to send to the nation with this story? Are we as viewers taking into consideration the subversive message that we are unknowingly consuming about other races? 

I respect NBC's freedom of the press. They can show whatever they want. I just felt the another opinion, another voice, should be heard. 

Shame on you Matt Lauer. Shame on you Today show. And Shame on you NBC. 
Too bad the jokes on 30-Rock are all too real...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Album Review: The Age of Adz by Sufjan Stevens

What's the occasion?  Robyn and I are seeing Sufjan live in concert on Monday in Oakland!

The Beatles are my go-to foursome, and Death Cab for Cutie will always represent my quintessential college semi-angst-filled journey, but deep-down, Sufjan may be my favorite.  From the moment I first heard Illinois in 2005, the man from metropolis may have stolen my heart (in a strictly plutonic way...don't worry Robyn).  I anticipate each post-Thanksgiving earbud session when I reward my year-long iPod discipline with a fresh dose of Songs for Christmas albums I-V (I hold that "Sister Winter" is the greatest Christmas song, ever).  Sufjan offers so much that resonates with me:  a slow musical build-up, simply gorgeous instrumental layers, ear-tickling lyricism, and deep, self-reflective, often spiritual themes.  And the whiteness in me cannot resist that banjo.

What do I think of The Age of Adz?

The album is certainly new ground for a Sufjan-gone-electronic.  At first impression, this album is more dirty, messy, and complex than the simple elegance of Michigan and Seven Swans.  While the album does not measure up to Illinois (and how could it?  Paste named Illinois the album of the decade), I am excited about Sufjan's experimentation.  Now having broken a mold he himself created, Sufjan has given himself new creative frontiers to explore.

Sufjan explores deeper and darker themes, both musically and lyrically, in this album.  I appreciate the honesty of "I Want to Be Well", gutturally crying the song-title statement as a plea each of us have uttered in the dark.  The Age of Adz has moments that remind me of the Postal Service or Bono (like in "Too Much" and "Age of Adz," respectively) and even verges on Hip-Hop (robot voice!  "Impossible Soul").  But of course it would not be Sufjan without the addicting repetition of happiness ("Vesuvius," the clear pop attention grabber of the album).  And perhaps the prophetic "Get Real, Get Right" is Sufjan's clearest expression of faith since Seven Swans.  All that said, my favorite track is "Impossible Soul," essentially 26 glorious minutes that showcase the breadth of Sufjan's talent.

All you Sufjan Steven's fans out there, I would love to hear what you think about The Age of Adz!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2 San Francisco Dodger Fans...

The SF Giants hadn't been to the NLCS since 2002, so of course it figures they return to playoff excellence the first October we live here.

After two years of the Phillies crushing Dodger World Series aspirations and a disappointing 2010 campaign for the the boys in blue, I was hoping to put baseball aside for the winter and concentrate on more important things (like blogging).  But every Giant victory (as of now they lead the Phillies 2-1) reminds me that this year, my baseball team sucked.  And while the future for the Dodgers looks bleak thanks to a messy ownership divorce, I fear this Giant stroke of luck might linger.

It's not easy being a Dodger fan in SF right now.  While applying for jobs, I used my old work email instead of my everyday email (dandodger1, which I have had since I was 11).  EOE might hold a little weight when it comes to race, but I do not yet trust that phrase when it comes to baseball.

The hardcore Green Bay Packers fan in this relationship has it easier.  At least the 49ers suck, so Robyn does not have to deal with daily 49er propaganda handed out on the subway or 49er hats and jerseys everywhere she looks.

As for me, the only recourse I have is to wait for this fanaticism to pass.  And so I guess I must do what I always do:  Root for the Giants to lose.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Good Husband

I recently watched the movie The Dutchess with Keira Knightly and have realized two things: 1. How much I appreciate all the women who came before me who fought for our rights as women. 2. My husband is not just a good and decent husband, but he is caring, servant minded, and so patient. Not every husband is like this and I am so blessed to have a man who considers me his partner.

Both of these realizations make me thankful to be living in the time I am living, with the freedoms I do have, and with my wonderful man.

It is a good movie to watch for those of you who are fighting for women to have equity in society and you feel it is hopeless. Remember how far we have come.

-Robyn (duh)

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Big Question

Today, while reading for a class, I found the articulation for the internal dilemma I have felt since beginning my graduate program. It is the question of power. There is a definite code of behavior and language used  among those in power. As an advocate for oppressed people and a woman of color have felt that I would need to learn this code and language in order to bring change. However, can I really do this? Can I change who I am in order to climb the ladder of power?

This quote rocked me this morning and brought more questions to mind:
One of the basic principles of the new racism is that when nonwhites or women manage to "win" on the basis of existing rules, then the rules must be changed (Chan & Wang, 1991, p. 63).

Am I trying to fight the system by "winning" with the rules that the people in power have already laid out for me? Is learning to fight power with power going to be a major waste of time, because the power rules change? Or should  I work on changing the rules of the game, before the powerful people do? Or are the rules in society going to be in place to keep some people on the bottom?

Do I need to become more fluent in the language of power even if it means changing who I am or do I stay me and fight to change what the language of power sounds like?

I don't have an answer yet...