Friday, November 28, 2008

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Today's My Mama's Birthday!

Today's my Mama's birthday, and today, I'm going to tell you why she is Queen of "The Village."

Words alone cannot express the feeling that overcomes my heart when I think about my Mama. I can tell you though, that the attributes that make up this Phenomenal Woman, are those that every human being should aspire to achieve and embrace.

For more than half a century, Doris Cook has been mother, mentor, teacher, guardian and friend to the entire East New York "Village." Throughout my young adult life, all the neighborhood "kids" always took comfort in knowing that the door would be open and a place at the dinner table reserved for anyone who crossed the threshold at "Miss Cook's" house. I cannot remember once in my entire life that she didn't have the time to listen and share her wisdom to anyone who came to her with a problem. We laugh on Mother's Day because Mama often complains that her place looks like a funeral home from all the flowers.

When my father died from lung cancer in 1983, and knowing my birth mother, a then hopeless alcoholic, who eventually died from one drink too many, Miss Cook, who I proudly call Mama and who my kids call Gramma, vowed that she would be my mother from then on. Since that time, she has kept that promise and has proved to be one of the most wonderful people I have ever known.

I often wonder what my kids' life would be like today had we not experienced the childhood memories of Gramma's house full of laughter and cheer and drama and tears; kick-the-can and skelly on a hot summer night, hot, spicy homemade cobbler from fresh picked berries all of her Grands and the kids on the block got together and picked from the backyard, juicy pears from Mama's pear tree, church hymns, sermons, singing on the gospel choir, good old fashioned Southern church dinner outings, Double Dutch on the sidewalk, dancing in the johnny pump, handball in the schoolyard, bossy cousin Timmy telling the girls, "Get in the house!" Warm bodies, lots of hugs, noise and kids hollering, "Auntie! Auntie!" at Christmas, awesome family bar-be-cues that draw people from miles around to the grill and to the table; family bus outings to Danbury State Park; church chataquas out-of-town; family reunions; everybody went to P.S. 158 -- even me!! Everybody's first job was down the block with Mr. Bolden's B&B Construction. The boys on the truck; the girls in the office. Soooo much family history -- all because of one woman who said in my time of trouble, "Don't worry, Brenda -- we're your family now."

Today, when I called Mama to wish her Happy Birthday, she replied, "Brenda, I want to see you bright and early Thursday morning. We have a lot to do. I'm going to put on a big pot of coffee [she knows coffee is my weakness and how I love it. That's our thing -- having morning coffee together.] And so Thursday morning, you can bet your boots I'll be at Mama's house bright and early, sippin coffee and nibbling Madelines while we sit, chat and giggle while looking out at the old pear tree.

And so, today, I want to say sincerely with all my heart, "Happy Birthday, Mama! I love you very much! Thank you for being there for us. We will always be there for you."

I am so proud to have a Queen for a mom. Doris Cook is one of the many blessings I am always thankful for.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


On Guard America! The Battle Has Just Begun

Barack Obama -- a name that will go down in history as the first Black President of the United States of America. What a joy it is that we all became a part of this most celebrated turning point in the history of the world. And celebrate we did – from the mountains to the streets – from the valleys, even from shore to shore – the presidential election of Barack Obama was celebrated throughout the world. A sigh of relief and tears of joy streamed down the faces of hundreds of thousands of forgotten Americans.

But dry your eyes and rest quick, Brothers and Sisters, because we have a long, hard battle ahead. We said, "We can," and now we have. We have elected a President who can shepherd us out of this economic crisis; mend fences between countries; address global challenges we face ahead, and there is so much more to be accomplished. But we cannot expect Obama to do it alone, and together we must stand strong. We must not waver; we must not relent. The entire world is watching and we must prevail.

We have seen what eight years of a Bush administration and 24 years of Republican domination can do to men, women and families. Too many loves have been lost as a consequence of having been forced to make Survival our concubine. Admittedly naive of the underlying circumstances, I remember how disgusted I used to feel back in the early 2000s as I watched my people become more and more complacent at the feet of a pertinacious, government.

But today, I celebrate the pride and redemption that I feel as I witness my people ascending out of the ashes, greater and more brilliant than ever before, because it is a different kind of fight today than was fought back in the '60s. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to those brave warriors who fought for the sweet liberties that we now enjoy. More importantly, it is because of the sacrifices of those valiant men and women, that we now, in our lifetime, celebrate a Black President of the United States. Over time, we have evolved to a battle of the minds -- a much more formidable and effective weapon today than fists or guns could be at this point.

Thousands upon thousands of Americans have been stripped of their jobs for the sake of greed. But little did the powers that be know, that with every job cut, their own pocketbooks were shrinking as a result of the small businesses emerging out of tenacity and passions.

Brothers and Sisters, this subprime disaster did not just start. This economic tsunami did not just suddenly appear one day. It is all the manifestation of years and years of lackadaisical government that has reduced each economic class one by one. Gentrification is flooding people out of their homes, creating multitudes of homeless Americans that they now categorize as the "working poor." Do you think for one minute non-Blacks really want to leave their swanky upper west side Manhattan cribs to move to Bed-Stuy?

Having Barack Obama for our President promises great opportunities for us all. Barack has promised Change we can believe in. But we cannot expect one man to change an entire nation alone. Together we elected him and together we must stand by him. It will take guts, determination, perseverance, the strength, cooperation, understanding, flexibility, commitment and the help of each and every one of us – all people, all races, creeds and religions. We are all in this together.

The Bush administration did not discriminate when hundreds of thousands of jobs got cut. They did not discriminate when people were being tossed out of their homes; ripped away from their beloved neighbors and loved ones. They did not discriminate when they stripped away health care. Each week, more and more "non-Blacks" join the serpentine lines at food pantries, and the only color the Bush administration has any respect for is the green that lines their pockets and they keep crying broke as they tuck their children cozily into their goose down comforters in their toasty mansions each night.

Yes America, we must stand strong, for the battle has just begun, and the whole world is watching as the first African American takes the helm in the most important position a human can hold on earth. That of the President of the United States of America.

Rest up quick, America, but don't sleep, because the battle to take back our lives has just begun.

Brenda Jeanne Wyche is Managing Editor of The Black Star News and Harlem Business News. If you have a solution, email . Maybe we'll talk.

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