Beans are Gud

Let me just say – i can cook the hell out of some beans. Black beans, pinto beans, red beans, lentils, mung beans, edamame, chickpeas …. you get the idea. One of the biggest things I’ve learned about cooking is that of course as cheesy as it sounds – the best ingredient is love. I love food, and i love making my guests happy, so when i cook, i just make sure it tastes good to ME and it follows that my guests will feel the love.

I didnt learn how to cook from my mom. My mom is a hell of baker and canner. I grew up in Washington State where we grew alot of our food in the backyard. Nowadays my mom is a full on organic gardener with about 3 acres to play with. Ive shoveled manure, made compost, and done almost everything it takes to take a seed and make it grow. During the harvest season we would take the food we grew and freeze or can alot of the stuff. I know how to can come jams, how to make jelly, how to bake bread, cookies… yum!

But while my mom can bake the hell out of some zucchini bread and makes the best raspberry jam I have ever tasted… ummm… while i was growing up.. she was still learning how to cook. I learned how too cook from my first mentor, a black woman who taught me all of the major ‘soul food’ and Caribbean influenced items: Greens, mac and cheese, jerk chicken, yams, the proper ways to spice things and of course – how to make beans. For a black woman – learning to cook these things properly was and is very important to me.

so here goes. lisa marie’s secret to making the bomb beans. lol.. and really – its nothing at all.

1/2 bag of beans in a big pot (red, pinto or black beans)

Water and chicken broth up to about 1/2 the pot

1 big dried chili pepper

one whole red onion

about 4-5 cloves of garlic

1/2 small can of tomato paste

salt, pepper, cayenne to your own taste. (and this means checking it over and over during the 4 hours to continue to add all of these spices)

handfull of cilantro – chopped and put in right b4 serving.

some grated cheese (also put in at the very end) (not american or cheddar- something yummy like … not american)]

 So there is a great bean debate about whether or not you should soak your beans overnight before cooking them. My personal opinion is that unless you seriously only have an hour to make the beans – dont do it! I rinse off my beans a few times, and maybe soak them for about 20 mins, but every time i soak them over night and then rinse them off -its like ALL of the flavor just goes right down the drain. So basically, yes, unless you’ve got about 4 hours to make these beans – just hold off. Many times I make them the day before Ive having guests or if i’m having a marathon cooking day – i put them on first.

Ok – so rinse your beans, put them in the pot and add everything. Bring them to a boil, stir and reduce heat to simmer and just let the yumminess begin! Keep stirring about once every 15-20 mins or so. Check the water adn heat levels, you will probably add water about 2-4 times. If they look like they are starting to stick to the bottom – more water!!! You dont want the beans watery tho – what you want is the fabulous red or black sauce that naturally develops as you are going. Towards the last hour you want to continue to taste the beans to make sure they are soft. Hard beans SUCK. its like bad pasta. If you dont cook it long enough its gross.

at the last minute stir in the cheese (about 1/2 cup) and then throw in the cilantro for some added taste and enjoy!


She’s just bitter

I need to comment on a post I read on a TRA list that caters to parents who are considering adoption. The woman posting was writing for support from other folks who have had issues with thier families and how thier families have reacted when they say they are bringing a black child into thier homes. This woman wrote (and I am paraphrasing because I dont think in this case its right for me to just cut and paste) that her father in law (FIL) uses the word "nigger" on a regular basis, and that he has indicated that he will not acknowledge the child, or pay for the child's education when he has already set aside funds for the other white children in the family. The woman and her husband of course are appaled by this behavior and are planning to divide up the educational funding between all the children and (I hope) not say anything to them about thier grandfather's racist words and actions. At this moment – today – the black little boy is still a foster child and not adopted.

how can i say this without getting hate mail. STOP!!! just stop. just send the kid back and just stop. this isnt a fucking experiement. this isnt something we can 'try out' and hope that it turns out ok. this is NOT a toy, a piece of property that can be fixed. This is a human with spiritual energy – and the ability to read and understand MUCH more than people can give him credit for. Do these parents really believe that thier child wont grow up and wonder why grandpa wont look at him in his face? Do they really thing they can avoid going to grandpa's house for the next 10 years? the next 20 years? and when/if they do – how dare they assume that it is ok to put all of that energy on to that child as if he can handle it! I repeat – potential TRA parents: this is not about you! This is about a child who you supposedly love and want to protect. Do all of us adult TRA's a favor and just stop and check yourself! damn! and as John in Struggle for Identity says  ask yourself – WHY are you adopting this child? What are your motivations? "Is it to raise a child to make him white? Or [are you adopting a child] to raise a strong, culturally connected individual of color that is going to help liberate thier people. . . ?"

Let me also add a comment that with the explosion of TRA blogs, TRA parent blogs, email lists, essays, etc.. how much more I have seen potential TRA parents attempt to invalidate or completely silence the anger that comes from adult TRA's who are just finding the language to articulate their experiences. It is written off as bitterness, or as 'not the way it has to be because we are some of the good parents' or 'with all the resources today… blah blah blah blah… I'm so tired of this arrogance that assumes to know better than the people who have lived the experiement of so-called 'coloblindness'.

 or what… maybe its just a bad day? i doubt it. one.


So my next performance is at the Brava Theatre in SF for the San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR) on June 30th.

Im at rehearsal, standing up in front of this room full of women who have one way or another been touched by the violence and silence of rape and the sadness mixed with rage begins to wash over me and suddenly I am crying and overwhelmed. I have performed this particular piece "Song for Siren" about 4 or 5 times and have never experienced what i felt last night. The piece is a piece – not about adoption (?)- but about rape and the historical and continued rape of black women by white men. The piece itself was written as my own response to a few things – first, to the Duke Lacrosse case. If you havent heard about this – Duke University on March 13th, A sex worker was hired as an exotic dancer for a party thrown by the Lacrosse players. At some point in the night, the woman alleges she was raped in the bathroom by three of the players by force. For me, whether or not this story is "true" is not what I am interested in. What I am interested in is this incidents relationship to the history of black women raped by white men and the comment one of the men made to the woman –  “hey bitch – thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt”.

Additionally, the Duke incident rung a bell in me from the past – Sherice Iverson. For some reason I cannot let go of this little girl and the total disregard for her life in place of the men who raped and murdered her.

I said its not about adoption.

Later last night – im at another gig at a bar in SF – and i want to call my best friend, and she is not home. I want to call my mom, but its too late. How can i explain this to my roommate? I realize i have no one to talk to and i get on my cell phone and text/email these words to myself:

"No one 2 email but me n all alone w a reminder i am born from that which i condem".

What is it to be a product of rape? A body born out of violence? What is it to be unwanted and given away because of rape and more importantly – unknown? If the story is true. I dont exsist for the father.