“Why, this car is auto-matic. It’s system-matic. Its hyyyyydro-matic. Why, it’s greased lightning!” -Danny, Character from the “Grease” Movie
…And “Grease Lightning” it was…
Dancing on hot concrete in bobby socks, poodle skirts,leather and lace, Eta Sigma Delta members and pledges partied the SL night away in style! Though The Eta Sigma Delta Homecoming is actually a week long celebration, The SL Parade was fortunate enough to get a special TP into one of the most exclusive parties on the Grid! This exclusive and lively party took place on Monday, September 28, 2015 at 5 PM at SL’s Hillman University…
And exclusive and lively it was…filled with beautiful women and muscle cars, The Eta Sigma Delta Sorority did it BIG in honor of their week long Homecoming Event celebration. One of many parties the Eta Sigma Delta sorors will be hosting this whole week, the “Grease” themed Drag Race and Party encouraged all in attendance to emulate the spirit of the “Grease” movie. Heeding the “Grease” themed call, all guests were dressed in 50’s-oriented themed clothing…all of which was in keeping with the “Grease” movie; they danced not only to popular old school songs like the Bee Gees, but also flipped the script a bit with a little bit of 2Pac and OutKast. With the strong, positive and alluring presence of DJ B Smooth (also known as Bryson Capalini), the Eta Sigma Delta Sorority’s “Grease” themed party and drag race proved…beyond a shadow of a doubt… that Grease was definitely the word!
Besides kicking the Homecoming celebration off with DJ B Smooth, this Grease-themed Drag Race and party also featured a raffle. The raffle, which was described on an inworld note card as being, “…a kind of lottery game…there are tickets sold (lottery entries with equal winning chances). With each ticket you buy, you get one entry in the raffle. When all tickets are sold or the raffle ends, one ticket number is drawn which then will win the prize item…” With the Grand Prize being a 2106 Black Mercedes Benz, a prize generously donated by Billionaire Motors, there were many Homecoming party attendees vying for an opportunity to drive off in this lavish vehicle.
While The SL Parade was unable to locate John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, we were able to spot SnowAngel Frenzy, as well as KariNoelle Baptiste, ℳrs UQQℵ ℳartiaη, Phenomenal Woman…just to name a few. Yet, those present came to not only dance the night away, but to demonstrate unity and overall togetherness in honor of sorority-based sisterhood. ℳrs UQQℵ ℳartiaη, a fellow Eta Sigma Theta Soror, explains, ” I love being in Eta Sigma Delta…THIS MIGHT SOUND CLICHE,BUT THE FACT THAT ESD IS TRULY A SISTERHOOD [is what I like best about it]” She continues, “WHEN THEY SAY THEY ARE THERE FOR YOU, THEY MEAN IT….THEY TRULY MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE
One of many ways the Eta Sigma Theta Sorority successfully incorporates the definition of family is by relying on “Grease” movie-related nostalgia to create a warmer environment for all patrons. ℳrs UQQℵ ℳartiaη gushes, upon the mention of the Eta Sigma Theta Sorority’s “Grease” themed Drag Race party, “I LOVE THE MOVIE…SO WHEN WE ALL DECIDED ON THIS THEME, I WAS SO EXCITED!”
Besides relating her enthusiasm to The SL Parade, ℳrs UQQℵ ℳartiaη had to also rely on the “all caps” writing method because the muscle cars that were brought out for the party were so loud! The revving of engines could be heard throughout the party; this revving, followed by a parade of cars peeling rubber and careening onto the drag strip, easily left all patrons in awe.
Among the cars that participated in the Homecoming Drag Race: a 1957 Mustang and a White 1950 Cadillac named Lucille; two of many cars created by Billionaire Motors.
As the cars sped by, Phenomenal Diva (sharmaine.lauria), an Eta Sigma Delta pledge exclaimed, “Whee thank you!!! This is fun! I love LOVE events like this!” When asked what made her decide to pledge Eta Sigma Delta, Phenomenal Diva explains, “Well, I decided to pledge because I have been on SL for a while…I was–at one time–a Founder of a sorority, but that didn’t work out. However, I wanted to once again become a part of a sisterhood again…one that could help the sl / rl community…”
Intrigued by Phenomenal Diva’s response, The SL Parade asked her if she had ever pledged a sorority in real life. “Yeah, I did…but I was more focused on my studies .. I mean I know being a part of a sisterhood could have opened doors for me once a I graduated, but I tried to be as focused as possible on school work…”
In this sense, pledging Eta Sigma Delta has given Phenomenal Diva a chance to realize dream that could not be fulfilled while attending a real life college. She contends, “…I like this here…[because] it just gives me a chance to see what its like [to pledge]…I am a little nervous…I haven’t been a pledge since 2010…” As the cars continue to race by, Phenomenal explains that part of a pledge’s process to become a soror involves attending a plethora of Eta Sigma Delta gatherings. She continues: “…as of right now, this is just the beginning. Right now i see we are going to be showing our face much more as potentials….Getting to know the big sisters and letting them know about us ….its all about interaction at this point. I will know more as time go on…”
Once pledges like Phenomenal Diva cross over, they can expect to look forward to an atmosphere filled with solidarity and confidentiality. ℳrs UQQℵ ℳartiaη explains, as the cars continued to speed by, “SOMETIMES YOU NEED SOME ONE TO CONFIDE IN OUT SIDE YOUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY…LIKE FOR INSTANCE, SNOWANGEL… I’M LOST IF I DON’T HAVE MY WEEKLY TALK WITH HER…
She continues: ” [There is] NO BACK STABBING…NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THE OTHER AND YOU CAN REALLY FEEL THE LOVE…WE TAKE VACATIONS TOGETHER….IT’S AWESOME…”
All vacations aside, The SL Parade and Eta Sigma Delta urge you to attend the ETA week long Homecoming Events in celebration of all things related to the “Grease” movie! KariNoelle Baptiste was nice enough to send The SL Parade an itinerary of the ETA’s Homecoming Events Schedule, and we, in turn published it for your viewing pleasure. To take a look at what kind of week long events will be happening from September 28 to October 3rd, please click on the following link: ETA 2015 Homecoming Schedule.
In an SL life that seems to offer one too many parties for us to choose from, The SL Parade decided to add one more party to the Grid. On Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 5 pm, ReRe Sandalwood threw a Writing Round Robin House Party for all staff, as well as for anyone that wanted to come by and take a look at her home.
This party was specifically designed to encourage all facets of writing…rather you wanted to write about the party itself, or about the products ReRe Sandalwood relies on to decorate her home, this party was for all those interested in learning more about what SL has to offer.
Among the products to potentially write about: the <Heart Homes> “Lakeside” Family Barbeque Set created by the Aphrodite Shop, ~Bazar~ Retro Fridge (Exclusive), Hot ♥ Poolside Lovescene ♥ pool towel that works with any swimming pool, beach, tub or SPA ReACT, and the Sangria Dispenser Set…just to name a few.
In terms of the party itself, The SL Parade’s own Cosmo Kawabata provided the venue with smooth Neo Soul and Old School hip hop; he, along with ReRe Sandalwood teamed up to host the Writing Round Robin Party right by ReRe’s cobblestone pool. Breana Steveans, as well as Galaxi Bomazi, were in attendance, and looked rather radiant! Also, Belle “Love Hunni” Sonsie, along with America2000 stopped by to not only dance, but try out the products. America2000 was even nice enough to share a bit of her barbeque with ReRe’s chihuahua Scorch…
Speaking of Scorch, ReRe’s pet was extra excited! Visitors don’t come often to Egret Key, so Scorch was extra friendly to all those that stopped by.
Overall, it was a great party, and The SL Parade thanks everyone who stopped by! There will be other parties, so please stay tuned…and thank you again for reading The SL Parade!
Heyyy!!! Friends & Family, My Sorors & I will be kicking off our Homecoming Events towards the end of this month! Would love to see your lovely faces & partake in the events we have planned. Yes..I’m doing the most…don’t judge me, but below is the list of events and dates. I tried to provide you with as much info, at this time. Please feel free to contact me…Love yall and thank you for always supporting me near and afar…
Theme:The Movie Grease
September 28 (Monday) – Grease Lightening Drag Race Bring out the Chevy’s Thunderbirds and Vintage cars and let’s have some fun. Time: 6pmslt Dress: Appropriate to the attire worn in the movie ‘Grease’ or Drag Race related. Location: TBA
September 29 (Tuesday) – Essence Fall Festival Performers: Nicki Minaj, Aaliyah & Beyonce Time: 6pmslt Dress: Dressy, Casual to Business Casual Location: TBA Ticket Info: ON SALE NOW!!!
Arreba, the person behind ReRe Sandalwood, discusses her interaction with Rachelle and Bella Bond…
I knew Bella Bond and her mom…
In fact, I knew Bella before she was born, because I met Bella’s mother, Rachelle Bond while I temporarily resided at a Roxbury-area homeless shelter. Rachelle Bond had moved into this shelter a few weeks or so after I did; like Rachelle Bond, I was really down on my luck. Specifically, I had not only recently lost a great paying job, but I was also pregnant with my son at the same time Rachelle was pregnant with Bella.
Because Rachelle lived in the downstairs area of the homeless shelter, while I lived upstairs, our interactions were generally limited to the outdoor, back entrance area of the shelter. As I often went to my doctor’s appointments in the services center next door to where we lived, I often saw Rachelle Bond sitting at one of the picnic tables, drinking a cup of coffee and smoking a cigarette. I would cordially greet her, and ask her how her pregnancy was going. She would modestly complain of how her body ached, but would also share how excited she was about the progress of her pregnancy.
One afternoon, while I was still heavy with child, I decided to venture outside for a bit to see if I could feel the cool air against my face. I also yearned to sit up, because my back was hurting something awful. Since there was a few hours left prior to the shelter’s curfew, I thought I would have more than enough time to enjoy the nice weather outside.
As soon as I came outside, toward the picnic tables, I saw Rachelle Bond. Like me, she was very heavy with child…the only difference was that she was smoking a cigarette and looking as if she were deep in thought. I politely spoke to her, and sat down beside her in such a way where the cigarette smoke would not come in my direction.
She looked at me and smiled, then said hello back to me. As usual, I asked her how her pregnancy was going, and she told me that she was tired of being pregnant and was ready to have her baby.
I, too could relate to that sentiment; I was not only diabetic and had to regularly take insulin shots, I also had a hard time sleeping at night because my nipples were in constant pain and my feet would swell at really peculiar times. Thus, I told her, “Girl, I know that is right! I am ready to have my baby too! Do you know what you are having yet?”
“A little girl,” she said.
“Aww man! I wanted to have a little girl, but God decided to give me a little boy instead…” I rubbed my stomach in a circular fashion and smiled. Then I asked, “Have you decided on a name yet?”
“Bella…” Rachelle Bond said gently.
My ears perked up at the name, and I smiled gently. Then, I asked, “Why ‘Bella’?”
Rachelle Bond smiled and said, “I don’t know, I just like the sound of it. It is beautiful…”
I shook my head in agreement, and said, “You know, the name ‘Bella’ is the number one name in the nation right now…all thanks to those ‘Twilight’ movies…it is a beautiful name though, and a very good choice…”
I then told her of my plans to name my son ‘Avery’…I liked the normalcy of the name, I explained, but I also loved the fact that it derived from the Gaelic language, and meant “magical spirit.”
Though this is a rather usual conversation for two pregnant women to have, I remember it now that I finally know who Baby Doe actually is…as well as was. Baby Doe was Bella Bond…the unborn baby I had met while living in the shelter with her mother.
This conversation, along with others I had with Rachelle Bond, never provided any clues to the kind of person she has been portrayed as being in the media. Rachelle Bond was not only excited about her pregnancy, she appeared to be happy even after Bella was born. I remember, upon hearing that Rachelle Bond finally had Bella, how excited I was to finally meet the little person in the flesh. I remember that in my excitement, I took the time to not only look upon her at one of our homeless, shelter-based meetings, but to tell Rachelle that Belle was a beautiful baby.
If I had to reflect on what I remember most about that day, I would say that I remember Bella’s brown hair because it framed her face. Her hair, as well as her very tiny body, was a site to behold. Yet, like all infants, Belle would wiggle her mitten hands in such a way where her covered hands would brush up on her face. In turn, Rachelle Bond kept Bella’s hands covered in baby mittens to insure that she would not scratch herself when she wiggled in her baby seat/stroller.
Her mother also regularly breastfed her, and realized real quick that she had to be consistent and timely in Bella’s feeding. This is because Bella rarely raised a fuss. In fact, Bella was the kind of baby that would merely whimper when she was hungry; it was a sound that could be easily missed if you were not a thoroughly attentive mother.
Upon setting my eyes upon Bella, I told Rachelle Bond that she did good, and that Bella was a beautiful baby. She gave me this very wide smile, and thanked me.
Once I had my son in September, I would sometimes take my son out to where Rachelle Bond routinely sat…behind the homeless shelter’s back entrance. However, because Rachelle Bond routinely smoked, I made sure to sit in such a way where the smoke would not hit either myself or my baby. Bella, along with Trina’s baby Veronica, as well as my son, would all be positioned a top of the picnic table, enabling all mothers present to peer into their infants’ positioned car seats at their leisure.
Trina, who also lived in the homeless shelter with her infant daughter, Veronica and her two year old daughter Rhianna, would also join Rachelle Bond and I in conversation. We often played with one another’s baby’s, and I was even blessed in briefly watching Bella while Rachelle Bond would run off to get herself a drink, a cigarette, or even something to eat inside the shelter. Yet, this informal babysitting was a group effort, because there were other mothers outside with their children too. Trina, Stephanie, Jennifer, and a hosts of other mothers, would often sit at the picnic table to not only bum cigarettes off of one another, but to talk about all things related to our living in the shelter.
I say all of that to say this: as mothers who were living in a homeless shelter that heavily dictated when we could come and go, as well as required us to routinely clean the bathrooms and the halls of the place we were temporarily housed in, we often worked together as a team to not only keep one another’s spirits up, but to keenly look after one another’s children for short periods of time, too. The bulk of us—including Rachelle Bond—had virtually no help from our children’s fathers, but we still hung in there and did the best we could under the circumstances. The situation was not a perfect one, but it was what it was at that moment in time.
Besides sitting with Rachelle Bond at the shelter’s picnic tables, Rachelle and I also had a conversation about breastfeeding prior to her giving birth to Belle. I asked her what she thought about breastfeeding, and she was all for it. “I want my baby to be smart” she told me, “…and I know breastfeeding is the best way to go. Plus, breastfeeding will help me get this baby weight off quicker!”
Because I had a hard time breastfeeding my son, Rachelle Bond gave me some informal suggestions on how to do it. She explained that having the baby latch onto you is the most important thing in breastfeeding…so important, that if a baby can do that, breastfeeding should not be a problem.
I would think back on her advice often…more so because while my son had no trouble latching onto me, I felt uncomfortable with the arrangement because I was so heavy chested. Hence, I compromised and used a pump to get my breast milk out. From there, I put it in a bottle and mixed it with formula and gave the mixture promptly to my son.
While I cared for my son, Rachelle Bond did exactly like she said she was going to do. She breastfed Bella, and began to drop that baby weight off quickly. She even began to wear clothing that emphasized her figure; this manner of dress often made men’s heads turn…more so because Rachelle Bond was not a bad looking woman.
When my son turned five weeks old, I left the shelter and lost touch with the ladies I interacted with. I hadn’t even thought about Rachelle Bond—nor Bella—until Baby Doe was positively identified as Bella Bond. Upon hearing the name on the news, a flash went through my mind. I thought to myself, “Bella? I sure hope that baby isn’t the one I knew from the shelter….”
I quickly dismissed the thought until I saw Rachelle Bond’s picture staring back at me on television. My heart dropped, and I was filled with unrepented sadness, anger and shock. I knew that Rachelle Bond was afforded every opportunity to improve her lot in life because I lived in the same homeless shelter as her; this homeless shelter was, and still is, a very good one because of its sincerity in helping families find stable and affordable housing. This shelter was also good at providing additional resources for those who were previously incarcerated, as well as for former addicts and abusers. Though the staff could be a bit overzealous at times, I firmly believe that their hearts were in the right place.
Because Rachelle Bond and I met when we were expecting our little ones, she never seemed to be this cold and calculating killer that she is painted to be in the media. Like the media, I knew about her previous incarceration-based history, but because she assured me that she was only in jail as a consequence of selling methadone, I cut her a small break. I also cut her a break because she seemed so sincere about turning her life around. She wanted to get a nice apartment and create a loving home for Bella.
Like others at the shelter, I believed her…however, because of my previous, negative experiences with former inmates and parolees, I decided to only interact with Rachelle Bond in group-based and public settings. I was never alone with her in an area that could be deemed private; we were constantly in eye’s sight of the shelter intake workers and other shelter residents. And, though all the shelter residents seemed like endearing individuals…they were not necessarily the kind of people I would hang out with if my circumstances were different. Yet, because I was in a shelter due to my own hardships, I had to make due and be cordial. I also had to pitch in when and where I was needed.
Now, as I listen to the media’s story of Rachelle Bond’s prostitution and drug-based incarceration, I wonder why the family shelter allowed individuals with these backgrounds to interact with others that may not have a history of arrest and challenges with the law. I also wonder why…after Rachelle Bond had secured an apartment, why the shelter did not insure that Bella was enrolled in Early Intervention and other community based programs that could have aided in keeping up with her and Bella’s whereabouts. Those of us that lived with her in the family shelter should have been told about her storied past, and her whereabouts should have been consistently monitored—even after she secured section 8 housing. In fact, keeping up with her and Bella was even more important because, according to news reports, Rachelle Bond’s two other children were taken from her; Rachelle Bond’s mom has custody of one of Rachelle Bond’s children, while the other child was adopted out to another family that is not even related to Rachelle Bond. Considering that her parental rights were terminated in both instances, the state should have done everything in its power to strictly monitor Rachelle Bond’s parenting skills, as well as monitor the nature of her involvement in criminal activity and drug use.
In the course of my anger at a system that would allow this to happen, I look at the photos of Bella. I knew her as an infant, and really regret that I did not keep up with Rachelle Bond and Bella once I moved out of the shelter. I feel that if I had of kept in touch with Rachelle Bond and Bella, maybe I could have helped to stop this from happening, too. After all, that baby should not have been found like that off of Deer Field Island; she should still be alive.
This is an old story that I never published and am glad to do so now. I hope you will enjoy it.
This is a story of life. This is a story about times, passages and lost.
For its late afternoon.
Some of you understand it
From your separate vantage points
And if you read this story and then read it again
You can feel life from Mark’s standpoint, see the world through his eyes
For its late afternoon. 9/17/05
OF MEMORIES AND OF LONGING
The old pot belly stove stood underneath an old oak tree. Someone had taken the time to pull it out of the destroyed cottage, drag it to the edge of the bluff and roll it off to the river bed below where it had smashed against the tree.
“Must have hit it many years ago,” Mark thought. He could see how the tree had been deformed by the impact and had grown at a funny angle as a result. “This is the place Andy, I remember the bend in the river.” However, Mark could not believe this was the same cottage he had climbed up to on a lark many years ago. He slowly walked around its remains. The cottage had only been recently abandoned when he and Terri had hiked up here many years before. There had even been a few cups in the cupboard and an old tatty chair in the living room. He remembered that he thought it must be quite nice to live up here. A nice place to drink a beer on a sunny day.
Looking around, he thought, “the old place musta been vandalized many times for it to look like this.” The roof had fallen in on one side and the wan light of the early spring morning sun shone through and lit the smashed flooring. He could see part of the basement dimly lit below. Getting on his knees and peering down, he could see pockets of snow in the shadows. Even though the ruin stood high in a meadow overlooking the Mahoning Valley, winter had been hard in this part of West Virginia and had given up its grip reluctantly. Both he and his brother had been surprised to find such large patches of winter’s coat on the hike up.
Mark could see that the basement was a haphazard jumble of broken timbers, beer cans and the like. “I wonder what else is down there?” he thought. “ I have to find a way down.”
“Hey Andy, willya look at this?”
Andy turned to his older brother, dropping the broken cup he had been examining. There had been a gaily painted pattern on it at one time. He had been thinking that it must have been a young child’s cup.
“Mark, why did we come up here? All this old junk. One of us could get hurt.” He looked around. “Hardly seems worth it.” His knee hurt from the short climb up the steep path.
Mark cut him off. “Look, you didn’t have to come. I just thought it would be fun, that’s all. I certainly didn’t expect to find this,” waving his hands. He resumed his search for a way down into the basement. “Come over here and help me,” he paused and added, “Do you remember Terri Campbell?”
Andy carefully picked his way over to his brother. “ I hadn’t heard that name in quite awhile. How could I forget? You came home from camp and it was ‘Terri’ this and ‘Terri’ that.” Of course I do. Wasn’t the camp around here some place? What was it, maybe forty years ago?” He finally made it to the spot where his brother stared down into the ruined basement. “It was a shame that she died so young.” With an effort, he got down on his knees and looked down into the basement too. “Its a mess down there.”
Mark looked over at his younger brother. “Yeah, that’s about right. It was forty four years ago.” Looking at his brother, Mark thought that it was nice to spend some time with Andy. They only lived two hours apart, but life had a way of keeping them apart. They only saw each other once or twice a year, usually at their sister Jean’s house in Scranton. Then, with grand kids running around and all their catching up, he hardly had time to spend alone with his only brother. Their other sister Ann lived in Phoenix. But now that Carol had died…
Mark looked around. Suddenly he was exhausted. He was exhausted by the climb and exhausted by the heat of the day. The sun was almost overhead. Standing up, he stood stock-still and stared at the ruins of the cottage, a lump in his throat. He was so tired.
“Yeah, Terri and I hiked up here once. We were both so young, both in high school.” Mark was a fit 62 years old. Life had worn on him well, as it had Andy. Tall and angular, Mark shared a love for the outdoors with his wife, Carol. They both had tried to stay in shape, though Carol was more of a fitness buff then he had a chance to be. Mark had planned to change that though. Through careful planning and a little scrimping, they both had planned to take early retirement and fully enjoy life. He had planned to leave work next January and Carol was going to retire the following June, after school ended. He was so proud of her. His wife, the principal. The first thing they had planned was month-long trip to Europe, their first. But Carol had fallen ill suddenly last fall and had died within a week. Mark teared up as he thought, “Life was so short.”
Andy knew what was on Mark’s mind. He had only seen his brother twice since the funeral. The last time was just a few hours at Christmas over Carol’s house. Even Ann had flown in. Andy had hoped that having the whole family together would lift his brother’s spirits, but the gaiety had seemed forced. Mark had left early, saying he had to get back to help with inventory the next day. Andy was glad Mark had called him out of the blue a few days ago and asked him to take a short trip with him.
“Yeah, I’m okay”, Mark answered gruffly. “I was just thinking.”
“Yeah. I gotta break out of this funk Andy. I know, I know you didn’t really get along with Carol but she..”
“She was okay Mark.” Andy felt he never really knew Carol. She tended to be a little aloof. Taller than Mark, with light skin and sharp features, she never seemed comfortable around the family. His wife Michelle didn’t like her at all, but Jean and Ann said they understood her. Mark’s kids had turned out nice though.
Andy stood up too. It had turned out to be a nice day, one of those spring days that were a little warm for the season. He had gotten to Mark’s house late last night after work. When they pulled out this morning for the hour drive up here, it had looked to be a dreary day. Andy opened his jacket.
“You okay?” He asked again. “You never told me why we come up here.”
“I just wanted to come up here and look for something, that’s all. I had met Terri in camp early in the week and we ‘clicked.’ We were both counselors. You know how it is.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“She was something else Andy. She could just light up a room with her smile. Somehow she saw something she liked in me. She was going to go to school out west, to UCLA. She wanted to break into TV, be a newscaster or something. She would have made it, too.” Mark looked out across the valley. It was a beautiful afternoon. “Anyway, we sneaked away from camp and ended up here. One thing led to another and .. well. Anyway we ended up wedging her locket between some bricks in the basement wall. We made a pact to come back and get it the following summer.”
Mark turned back to Andy. “I just thought I’d like to have it. That’s all. We were going to come back next year to get it, but she died and we never made it. Its down in that mess.” Mark said, pointing to the basement.
They both stood silently. Andy looked over at his brother; Mark was looking across the valley into the distance. He had pulled out a tissue and was trying to dry his eyes.
“Want me to help?”
“Yeah, I’d appreciate it. Its over in that wall.” The wall was brightly lit in the afternoon sun. The sheen of oil reflected off of the black water on the floor. “I think if I can get around this beam, I can drop down onto that step over there and work my way to it. Mark took off his jacket, “If you can hold onto one end of my jacket, we can use it for a rope.”
“Be careful, its slippery,” Mark said has he grabbed one end of the jacket and braced himself by holding onto a tree root with his other hand.
Mark headed down. He made it to the step and let go of the jacket. Soon he had picked his way to the wall.
Andy yelled down. “How you comin’? You think its still there?”
“Hope so, we blocked it in with a piece of loose mortar. It should be right about here,” Mark looked around for something to stand on. He found a broken chair and lugged it over. “Hey I’m in luck, here it is Andy!” Mark pulled out a tiny locket on a thin gold chain.
Soon, he had worked his way back to his brother. Mark was crying openly now.
Andy said, “Grab the jacket, I’ll pull you up.”
“She had called me and told me she thought she was pregnant. It was my baby, Andy. I was going to get down to her the next week, but that truck rear-ended her and she was killed.” Mark cried, “I loved her Andy, she was so young,” he said, thinking of Carol.
It had gotten cooler again. Andy buttoned his jacket and stuck his hands in his pockets. “I know, I know, he said. “Come on, let’s get back down to the car.”
NOTE: The SL Parade is merely in a business-based partnership to cross advertise with Tru’s News. TruHeart Sparkle, CEO/Founder/Director will act as a Guest Writer on my publication, and I will act as a Guest Writer on hers. We will feature one another’s logos in our publications as well. Thus, WE ARE NOT MERGING, merely helping one another get exposure, as well as word out about our publications….I apologize for the confusion. Thank you for reading The SL Parade!
Lets be honest: There are all kinds of publications out there, but there are not many out there willing to work together…
Some have been around since SL’s infancy, others–like The SL Parade–have only recently been introduced to the Grid. Either way, all these publications work for the SL community we live in; we work for our community by gathering news, and handing it to you on a virtual silver platter.
With this in mind, The SL Parade and Tru’s News have joined forces to not only help each other, but to give the SL community we serve the news coverage that it deserves as well.
When asked what prompted her to start Tru’s News, Tru’s News’ CEO/Founder/Director TrueHeart Sparkle explains, “While sitting around one day bored and talking with my fiance’ Bryson [Capalini], I was trying to think of what I could do that would keep not only me occupied, but also [expand] my mind. After a day or two of thinking, I came up with the idea that I wanted to create a place that had special events, business advertisements and [suggestions of] party places [SL Community members can frequent], [and provide exposure to] people/places that don’t get that much exposure in the SL community. That’s when we came up with the idea of creating Tru’s News.”
Beginning her online publication on August 18, 2015, Tru’s News is also a relatively new publication. With this newness in mind, it is even more important that we support her efforts in providing news to the masses. She continues, “I wanted to bring something positive to SL…[and] there is no one particular thing I wanted to focus on…I just wanted to put a little of everything into it. So here we are! With the help of my intelligent and patient fiance’–who has helped me with the technical, photograph and video part of [of Tru’s News]–I bring you Tru’s News…”
Sparkles’ backstory is very similar to that of The SL Parade’s, since the original reason why The SL Parade was established was to present a “hodge podge” of information to the SL Community. Established on July 4, 2015, The SL Parade deems the term “hodge podge” to mean anything, from poetry [which has been featured], to short stories, to articles centering around controversial topics like the high tolerance of inworld, game-related cheating in contests, to the numerous SIMs that SL Community members can visit inworld.
Yet what differentiates The SL Parade from other publications is its willingness to also discuss RL issues. The SL Parade has done stories on the importance of taking life saving classes, as well as how to handle grieving the death of a loved one. Yet all similarities and differences aside, Tru’s News and The SL Parade both believe in the importance of cross advertising as a means of helping other business to prosper in SL. Further, while it may appear that both newspapers have virtually no agenda in mind, the underlying idea is to share information, and help others learn just how valuable real life and and second life is in a world that seemingly dismisses one world versus that of another. Both publications plan to not only share resources, but allow the both publication founders to guest write on one another’s websites.
Prior to forming Tru’s News, TruHeart Sparkles was an active member of the SL Community. She explains, “I have been in Second Life for almost 10 years. I’ve done everything from dancing in clubs, hosting events, having my own club, having my own rental property, textures store, and even tried my hand at building and making clothes. As I’m sure everyone else has tried once or twice, who has been in SL for a long period of time.” With this inworld experience, it is easy to discern that Sparkle is definitely a great resource to turn to when it comes to all things SL.
Besides working on her Tru’s News endeavor, TruHeart Sparkles also assists her fiance Bryson Capalini with his business endeavors. Capalini is not only the CEO and Founder of Ground Level Radio, he also hosts a talk show called The Fresh Air Talk Show. Like Sparkle, Capalini is also interested in bringing forth positive energy to the SL Community. On his FB page, Capalini explains, “If you have a business or doing something on sl positive and you want others to know hit me up. I will be doing a talk show on my station and would love to help others by broadcasting it on my stream…”
Tru’s News and The SL Parade: Always Open for Suggestions
Lik Bryson Capalini, TruHeart Sparkles and The SL Parade would love to hear any suggestions you may have about what to include in their online publication. As she explains, Sparkle feels that the best way her audience can fully enjoy her publication is by actively participating in it. “If you have a story or business that you would like to see featured in the next edition, please feel free to contact me…”
The SL Parade is always on the look out for writers, as well as advertisers as well, so please be sure to email ReRe Sandalwood if you want to learn more about opportunities at The SL Parade.
Please feel free to come by and visit The Tru’s News headquarters located on Wright’s Island; here is the link to Tru’s News’ office: Tru’s News. Tru’s News web page can be found here: Tru’s News
It is my hope that in the months and years ahead, life will return almost to normal. We’ll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day, and to whom it happened. We’ll remember the moment the news came — where we were and what we were doing. Some will remember an image of a fire, or a story of rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever. ~George W. Bush, Address to Joint Session of Congress Following 9/11 Attack
In remembrance of 9/11, it is important to not only reflect on the words said by the 39th President of the United States, but to also reflect on how members of the SL Community honor those that died in these attacks. With this in mind, The SL Parade visited a 9/11 Memorial SIM dedicated to honoring the victims of 9/11.
Located on Stagg Island, the 9/11 Memorial SIM consist of two square-based fountains similar to the memorial located in New York City. These fountains also house two spotlights; these spotlights represent the spirit of the Twin Towers, while simultaneously paying homage to those that perished in the 9/11 attacks. In addition to the fountains, erected walls list the names of those that perished on this tragic day; these walls not only shed light on the 2,996 individuals who died, but also details where the victims tragically died at. For instance, the victims that perished at the Pentagon have a section of the wall dedicated to them; this section lists all their names. In addition, the victims who perished in the field near Shanksville, PA have a section of the wall dedicated to them–with a complete list of their names as well. In total, all 2,996 individuals who perished on 9/11 are named, honored and accounted for. These walls, along with benches where visitors can sit, allow patrons to reflect on the lives lost on 9/11.
There are also a handful of SL community members dressed as police officers and firemen, appropriately paying homage to the heroes who put forth every effort possible to save the lives of those trapped in the World Trade Center Towers. One SL community member stood in a military salute-like pose; dressed in black, his avatar acted as a reminder of all the lives lost on that unfortunate day.
Yet to say that US Citizens were the only ones affected by this tragedy is a horrible misnomer. Angel David Castañeda, for instance, is originally from Mexico, and was 10 years old when 9/11 happened. He explains, “That day, I was in the school….my mom calls me [while I was at] school, because she was worried [about] me. I’m from México but that news terrorized the whole world…” Because English is not his native language, he had some difficulty describing his reaction, but his description is a sentiment many shared–and continue to share–about this fateful day.
Castañeda continues, “When I got home, I saw on television what had happened. [Even] at my age I could understand the suffering of those people who were trapped. That marked me for life…”
To reiterate that other nations were also affected by this tragedy, there is a section that features all the flags of various nations, reminding us that while this tragedy happened on US soil, it impacted the world.
For many members of the SL community, 9/11 happened while they were at work. Fitzwilliam Darcy, who brought his infant son, Noah to the SL 9/11 memorial, explains, “I was at work, and a coworker told me ‘planes had bombed the WTC.’ I didn’t know what she meant until I found a TV. I remember my boss wasn’t ‘all there’ that day, I didn’t know why until someone told me he had family in the Towers…”
When asked to explain what he missed most about the Twin Towers, Darcy states, “The NYC skyline is forever changed. It’s weird to watch old movies and TV shows with the NY skyline, with the twin towers featured prominently. But what I miss most is the spirit of September 12. America is so divided politically and socially now. But on Sept. 12, 2001, there were no Republicans, Democrats, or whatever. There were only Americans.”
Echoing Darcy’s sentiment, Freelance Photographer and 9/11 Memorial visitor patron Gideaninja Dagger states, “In RL, I was on my way to a new job [when] I received the news on my pager. I thought it was a hoax, a prank…I couldn’t believe it.”
How SL Community Members Pay Homage to 9/11 Victims
Gideaninja Dagger was kind enough to not only answer questions for The SL Parade, but also supply photos of the 9/11 Memorial Site from his Flickr page. Besides paying homage to the 9/11 victims by helping The SL Parade, Dagger describes other ways he pays homage to those that perished on 9/11. He explains, “I give to charities both in SL and RL…..I will also change my Facebook page…like I’m sure a lot of folks will…”
When asked how he pays homage to those that perished on 9/11, Fitzwilliam Darcy says, “I fly my flags- US and state flags, at half mast. Sometimes on Sept. 11, I might play the old VHS I recorded of the news coverage. But on this day every year, no matter what I’m doing, I always remember the significance of the day, and where I was.”
Angel David Castañeda continues by saying, “I just try to share information [that] I’ve seen on the internet about the truth of what happened. I always liked to share the truth.” This, along with visiting the SL 9/11 Memorial site, are key ways that Castañeda keenly reflect on how his life was impacted at such a young age by this tragic act of violence.
Angel David Castañeda adds, “I think the [SL 9/11 Memorial site] is good….very well done…” He continues by suggesting, “Perhaps a filter to prevent people who annoy others…I see there are relatives of the deceased here, I think they deserve some respect….”
Note: If you would like to visit the Stagg Island 9/11 Memorial Sim, please feel free to click on this link: 9/11 Memorial Sim, Stagg Island. Like The SL Parade, the Stagg Island Memorial SIM relies on generous patron donations in order to sufficiently maintain its SIM, as well as appropriately pay homage to those that perished on 9/11…
On a scale of 1 to 5, ReRe Sandalwood gives the Makeahla Jungle a 4…read the article to see why! Also, please pay a visit to the Makeahla Jungle SIM! It is a personalized reminder that there can be peace in nature…even with elements of danger present. Here is the link:Take a walk on the wild side, and visit the Makeahla Jungle!
Whether you are vying to see a pride of lions on the hunt, or witness a cheetah that is ready to pounce on its prey, the Makeahla Jungle allows SL community members to get up close and personal with an assortment of wildlife. Set on an island surrounded by blue, pristine water, the Makeahla Jungle easily reminds patrons that we share the Earth with other creatures, and that we should be mindful of that.
One way this is accomplished is by how the animals are positioned. Crocodiles are seen moving to and fro out of the water, while giraffes unknowingly navigate through it. Further inward, patrons can take a look at meerkats lounging around on a rock, complete with nursing baby meerkats in tow. Warthogs are also seen tending to their young, while the neighboring predator looks on, ready to pounce on its tentative prey.
Because the wildlife present only make minimal movements, a patron can rest easy and know that once they leave a particular area, they don’t necessarily have to worry about being followed around the SIM. A snake can be seen slithering by in one area, while a group of alligators can be seen climbing in and out of the surrounding water. As a witness to all this movement, it is comforting to know that these animals cannot get too far—nor get too close—to visiting patrons.
While this is the case, it can also be a comforting disadvantage to those vying for a more realistic, animal themed SIM. After all, since avatars cannot necessarily die, getting bit by a snake, or even pulled into the water by a crocodile would be a realistic, yet minor inconvenience (smiles). This, along with a patron’s ability to only go so far into the water due to territory blocks set up at the neighboring SIMS, presents a challenge to a patron that is not only adventurous, but may like to fully explore every aspect of the SIM (including the surrounding areas). However, there is a canoe that features a “dead man in the water” pose; this allows a patron to look as if they are face down in the water, seamlessly floating with their arms positioned in such a way that conveys death.
Limitations aside, the Makeahla Jungle presents an array of prestigious animals. Chimpanzees, tigers, and even cheetahs can be seen in respective areas, posing in varying positions. As you cross over the bridge to take a look at the Chimpanzees, a parrot peers curiously at you, as if its wondering what you are up to.
Based on how the land is laid out, there is beauty here. Lily pads are a unique feature of this SIM as well, since patrons are allowed to sit on them in a pose of their choice. This, along with being able to see elephants splashing in the water, allows patrons to get an up close and personal look at an animal as it interacts with its virtual environment.
The SIM is also constructed in such a way that it conveys romanticism. There are hammocks available for couples, and the animals are positioned in such a way where patrons can pose with them.
This SIM is worth visiting because it is a gentle reminder to care for the Earth we live in. It also reminds us that there can be a unique peace inworld that may not necessarily be found in RL. However, the adventurous spirit in me really wished for a more realistic setting…one where the animals really attempt to attack all kinds of prey—including a wishful human like myself (smiles).
Please read this article, then give the Lyrical Lounge a try and visit the SIM TODAY! Here is the link: Lyrical Cafe Poetry Club
Like a worn, yet well-read book, The Lyrical Café Poetry Club brings comfort to the SL masses by facilitating an atmosphere filled with literary poetry and prose. In business since December 9, 2009; the Lyrical Café Poetry Club is a venue that allows writers from all walks of life to share their poetry in a positive, yet nurturing environment. Mookie Lazarno, a Lyrical Café Poetry Club patron explains, “I enjoy going to the Lyrical Cafe Poetry Club every week because you will find a vast range of poets there spittin’ their words and talent at all levels. I really enjoy that.”
And enjoy it she does, as Lazarno is one of many poets who regularly attends the Tuesday night poetry readings featured at The Lyrical Café Poetry Club. As an attendee, she regularly shares her poetry, and projects her voice in such a way where it conveys calmness, control and poise.
Why Have the Lyrical Café Poetry Club?
When asked about the club’s initial opening day, Kamille Kamala, owner and curator of the Lyrical Café Poetry Club says, “It was a Tuesday night at six pm SLT and [the Lyrical Café Poetry Club] was on a 512 sq. meter plot of land. The very first poem was one written about the poetry club, as a blessing of sorts given to me by a friend. I read the poem and that sparked off the journey I am still on today. The very first night the house was packed, there was barely any standing room. I knew right then and there that I had to get a much larger place.”
She continues by explaining that, even in The Lyrical Café Poetry Club’s infancy, she not only joined an assortment of SL poetry groups to learn more about the venue’s platform, but also relied on her previous success as a published author to craft and hone the nurturing atmosphere intrinsic in The Lyrical Café Poetry Club. She states, “I was having some success in RL with getting my poems published, so I began searching for a poetry venue inworld. I found the Blue Angel Poetry Dive. I went to their event and read my published poem for the first time and I was severely nervous, but I got through and it prompted a great response from the audience. I knew right then I was hooked. I thought to myself, ‘Why can’t I open up a venue to cater to a more laid back crowd?’ so I did. That is how the foundation for the Lyrical was laid.”
In an SL atmosphere where it is okay to not only cheat patrons, but places a huge emphasis on clubbing and excessiveness, be mindful that the Lyrical Café Poetry Club was not establish to counter this culture. It was, however established to offer the SL community another option. While explaining her motivations for opening the Lyrical Café Poetry Club inworld, Kamille Kamala explains, “My desire was to foster a positive energy and vibe in the SL Literary community. I wanted a poetry spot that would welcome all ranges of talent to come and express their words and utilize their voice using the medium of poetry or spoken word. The hugest benefit personally is that I can experience culture right from the comfort of my home. My benefit overall is that like anyone else when I give of myself, I receive greatly in return when someone stops me and tell me that when they came back to SL from a brief hiatus the first spot they looked for was the Lyrical. It feels good to be just one of the beacons of light on the path to spoken word and art.”
Patrons, in turn have taken positive notice of Kamala’s efforts to facilitate an environment that encourages creativity and talent. An example of one of many patrons who have noticed Kamilla’s efforts is Indea Vaher. A local artist and historian in both SL and RL, Vaher is also a loyal Lyrical Café Poetry Club Patron. She elaborates by explaining, “I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Lyrical Cafe many times over my years in Second Life. There was always a vibrancy and energy in the air at the events I attended. I found that it not only entertained but fed your mind and spirit as well…. Given you food for thought…”
To attract an attentive crowd, Kamille Kamala pulls no stops to make sure her patrons are comfortable sharing, as well as listening to poetry. Mookie Lazarno reiterates this claim by explaining, “I try to go every time the doors are open. It’s nice to have a place to go to that isn’t always a lot of ‘rump shaking’ going on.” After letting out a giggle, Lazarno continues, “[Kamille Kamala] puts her heart and hard work into what she does when it comes to hosting the club every week and bringing in new talent and awesome poets…she is my bestie and I love her like Banana Pudding…and I LOVE Banana Pudding!”
Being Lazarno’s bestie aside, Kamala really does put her heart and soul in the Lyrical Café Poetry Club. She not only built the building that houses the Club, she also decorated it with lush floral paintings, dark brown leather chairs, white tables and lit candles. This personalization creates an atmosphere that is not only endearing, but also warm and vibrant. When asked to rate the venue on a scale of 1 to 5, Mookie Lazarno exclaimed, “[I would give it a] 6, have you been there?! It’s GORGEOUS!” Echoing Lazarno’s sentiment, Chraeloos adds, “I love the theme of the venue, how modern and suave it is. The people are great, especially Kamille, the owner. She’s so sweet, and she attracts such artsy and spirited patrons.”
How The Lyrical Café Poetry Club Handles SL and RL Challenges
Like many venues on the grid, The Lyrical Café Poetry Club is no stranger to SL and RL challenges. Kamille Kamala explains that one of the biggest challenges her venue has experienced is patronage. She continues, “I would say the biggest challenge is getting more people to participate in the events. They [patrons] are sometimes a fair weather crowd because I have opened and closed over time…it’s like I am the new kid in class trying to get a feel for where they stand in their new surroundings.”
To remedy this, Kamille Kamala states that it is very important to reinvent oneself. She continues, “I have reinvented the Lyrical Cafe several times due to the interference of real life issues. I would love to say that there has been consistency, but sadly it has not. Although this coming December will be its sixth anniversary and i plan to have a big shindig. I also plan on keeping its doors open more consistently in the future.”
Yet despite having to reinvent the Lyrical Café Poetry Club, the venue still acts as a standing testimony to longevity and warmth. Indea Vaher explains, “I feel we’ve been blessed to have such an establishment endure over the years. The owner (from my perspective) seems to be aware of her individuality, and doesn’t seem to seek permission from anyone to express herself creatively…a trait I personally admire. The staff has always been kind, and courteous to me. I love the venue, no complaints.”
Chraeloos continues, “Kamille is a passionate and dedicated owner, who has been around for years bringing the cafe to life. It’s been a pleasure to work with her and an inspiration to see where she’s going.”
Kamille Kamala’s Most Memorable Lyrical Café Poetry Club Experience
Sharing her most memorable Lyrical Café Poetry Club experience, Kamille Kamala further alludes to the importance of being open to change and progress. She explains, “My most treasured memory of the Lyrical was on its third anniversary. We had a drum team come perform their light show drum performance. The house was packed and it was well decorated, plus we pulled all stops by having some of the top poets come perform their work along with a singer. It was a delightful, magical, and a energetically entertaining night.”
She also wants to let patrons know that she is working on other projects…all of which will act as a way to spread word about her SL-related endeavors. Kamala says, “Right now, I am working in a project…an art gallery exhibition that will take a poem that I wrote regarding some of the most iconic women in the world. Now that we have the poem, we are working to get the art work and photographs that will correlate and mesh them together. This art gallery exhibit will feature Corretta Scott King and even Helen Keller. If so, how does that help uplift not only the Lyrical Cafe, but the SL Community? It will be a different art venue that will cater only to progressive women….”
One Last Note: Poetry Excerpts From A Few Lyrical Cafe Poetry Club Patrons
To better illustrate the talent that is fostered at the Lyrical Café Poetry Club, a few poets were kind enough to share their work. One poem, called “What Time Is It?” was written by Mookie Lazarno. It describes the importance of reaffirming and supporting one another, despite our own shortcomings:
WAKE UP LIL BIRD
WAKE UP FOR A NEW DAY HAS BEGUN
WAKE UP LIL BIRD
THERE IS MUCH TO LEARN.
WHAT TIME IS IT?
IT’S TIME FOR US TO REALIZE THAT WE ARE NOT HERE ALONE
WE ARE OUR BROTHERS KEEPER
THAT MEANS THAT WE CANT MAKE IT WITHOUT EACH OTHER
I GO; YOU GO; NO ONE LEFT BEHIND.
LONG GONE IS THE DAY THAT WE KILL EACH OTHER
LONG GONE IS THE DAY THAT WE DISRESPECT EACH OTHER
WE STAND TOGETHER TODAY, STRONG PROUD AND ALERT
WE WATCH FOR OUR BROTHERS COMING ALONG THE WAY
WE EMBRACE ARMS AND STAND ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE
NO MORE CAN WE AFFORD TO WALK AROUND WITH OUR PANTS UNDER OUR ASSES.
NO MORE CAN WE AFFORD TO WALK AROUND CALLING OUR BEAUTIFUL WOMEN BITCHES AND HOES
WE MUST STAND AS ONE, KNOWING WHO WE ARE AND WAT WE WANT TO ACHIEVE IN THIS LIFETIME.
WE MUST SAVE EACH OTHER BEFORE THEY KILL US ALL OFF
WE MUST SAVE EACH OTHER BEFORE WE ARE A THOUGHT IN THE WIND
NO MORE A NUMBER ON THE EARTH TO WIN.
WAKE UP LIL BIRD
WAKE UP FOR A NEW DAY HAS BEGUN
WAKE UP LIL BIRD
THERE IS MUCH TO LEARN
The next work featured is a prose piece written by Warrior’s RAGE (atrueking951). A spirited romantic at heart, Rage implores his audience to question rather or not Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream is being fully realized in his work entitled, “Has the Dream Become a Nightmare?”
I was chillin’ at the crib and there was a knock at the door. I opened the door and to my amazement there stood Dr .Martin Luther King Jr. He was dressed exactly the way they dressed in the 60’s. You know with the suits and the thin neckties, only he was in black and white like an old movie and the rest of the world was still in color. He explained to me that he had been gone for quite some time now (over 35 years) and was lost. He said that the world had changed so much and hoped that I could help him get reacquainted with our society so he could find his way back to his family. I invited him in and told him to make himself comfortable.
When Martin sat in front of my entertainment system, he asked me about all the contraptions connected to my television set. I explained that one was my VCR and one was my DVD player. Martin asked,” “What’s a VCR?” “What’s a DVD?” I explained both technologies to him and he was Astonished. Then he asked about the third box. I told him that was my cable box. Based upon the confused look on his face, it was apparent that this too needed explaining. I turned on the television and after a brief description and instruction on the use of the remote control he was off clicking from channel to channel. After a few minutes, Martin was working the remote like a pro! Being a man made it real easy for him to fall in love with the remote control. He was very impressed by the fact that there were so many channels geared towards specific interests, sports especially (ESPN).
He continued further and eventually stopped at one of the music channels that were airing their hip-hop program. Dr. King asked, “What is this?” I explained that it was a music video and that’s the way today’s music is presented to the public. As one thuggishly blinged out video after another was aired, I noticed a cease in questions. Martin was silent and his facial expressions changed from amazement to distress and disappointment. He asked. “Is this what our music has come to? Is this supposed to be progress? Why do our women condone this obscene portrayal of their manhood? Have they forgotten the abuse, emotional and physical rape that their female ancestors had been subjected to?” And why do our young men act this way? Obsessed with materialism and being disrespectful to our women?” I told him its called, “thuggin”. He asked me to explain what thuggin was. I said, “It means to be hard and unfeeling? Uh you know? A gangsta ride or die? Cash rules everything.
Having no respect for anything or anyone. Any negative quality about a man. After several strange looks from Martin. I then realized that there was no way to explain or justify “thuggin” to an intelligent person like him. So I changed the subject. Abruptly Martin asked, “Could anyone else see these videos?” Anyone who pays for cable, I replied. “You mean to tell me that you actually pay money willingly to witness this?” Martin asked. I could only answer yes, but I felt ashamed to admit this to such a righteous man. Martin asked, “Is this behavior accepted by everyone? Where have all the ministers, pastors and leaders gone?” I told him, there haven’t been any who are willing to step out there and put it on the line since you left here. Martin said very sadly, “I never worried about leaving here because I was so sure that there would be more who would come after me to step up and carry on the fight for equality and respect. Martin becoming more and more disgusted watching the videos being aired stood up and said, “This is how we overcame? He grabbed my cable box, ripping it from the back of the T.V., and smashed it on the floor. Being who he was and knowing deep down the he was right. I couldn’t get mad. As we stood there looking at the wreckage that was once my cable box with an awkward silence, Martin then apologized and asked could we please leave because he just wanted to see his family. “Is there any place that I can go to get some gifts for my family?” Martin asked. I knew just the place. We got in my car and headed to the mall. Dr. King was fascinated by the size of the mall and selection of different stores. It must have been a weekend because as we started to walk around, I noticed that the mall was filled predominately with teenagers. Many of them were loud and using profanity. Martin asked a young brother in front of a group of his friends why is it necessary to be so profane and conduct himself in way that was not only disrespectful to himself but to his people.
The young brother said, “F***you man! N****, you isn’t my daddy! I had to restrain Martin from disciplining the young brother. I asked the teenager, “Do you know who this is? He replied, “Hell naw, he ain’t iced out so why should I care!” At this point I was ready to snatch my man up, but Martin urged me to let it go. After Dr. King was able to calm down, he realized that the young people were only imitating what they saw on the music videos that he had seen earlier. “They have been infected with the ignorance of the images they covet. So this is our future?” I suggested that we just get the gifts and go. As I started to walk further, I noticed Martin walking back towards the door that we came in. I ran after him, shouting,” Whoa, where are you going?” With a distressed look Martin said, “I’d rather go back.” Why?” I asked. He said, “You don’t’ understand, I never got to see my kids grow up. I missed the holidays, graduations and birthdays, all in the name of sacrifice. I felt it was necessary to bring about equal opportunity and a brighter future for this generation. All I see is that a few of us got rich and the rest became slaves again.”
I said, “What are you talking about, this isn’t slavery!” Martin looked at me and replied, “Oh it isn’t?” He turned and walked towards the doors and exited the mall. I tried to keep him from leaving but out of nowhere this security guard gets in my way and tells me that I can’t go with him. I wrestled myself away and bolted out of the exit but once I got outside he had vanished. As I stood outside panning the parking lot to see if I could find him, an Escalade on”24’s” bumpin’ some ignorant thug anthem was coming right at me, and all I could do was brace myself for the impact. Right before the SUV hit me; I awoke out of my dream. As I laid in a puddle of sweat, I tried repeatedly to shake the dream but I couldn’t. I remembered those who sacrificed their lives for us and I wondered what it would be like if we had to stand before them and justify what we have become as a race. I also wondered what made me have such a dream. After hours of thinking, I concluded it was probably guilt. The guilt of knowing that we have fallen way short of Martin Luther King’s dream. In fact it’s closer to a nightmare!
As writers, sometimes we have to suspend our biases and reservations to get the story out there.
This is my belief, and it is a belief I have practiced since my RL days as an undergraduate and as a graduate student. It is also this belief that cements my writing-related ethics as Editor of The SL Parade.
Though this is the case, this does not discount the fact that I do harbor biases. I acknowledge them, and study if they are warranted ones, and often wonder if I am merely being emotional and whimsical; either way I am okay with who I am in the scheme of it all, because I often take an extraordinary amount of time analyzing my own misgivings…sometimes to my own detriment.
I say all of that to say this: I recently published not one, but two stories where I had to suspend my personal biases and reservations because the message was simply too important to ignore. The first story was one I did while working at the SL Enquirer; that story featured some phenomenal women who overcame adversity–all so they could fully and unconditionally participate in a pageant. The most recent article I published was at my own publication, and I published that article because, in an SL world where the accomplishments of people of color are often overlooked, we have to vigilantly support those that shed light on those that have accomplished so much–despite adversity and institutionalized racism. That, to many may be considered a bias all in itself, but it is a bias that is supported with logic and keen evidence.
In both instances, the message was far more bigger than my reservations, hence the reason why I pursued both of these stories relentlessly. All reservations aside, I knew how important it was to suspend my biases and give exposure to something that deserves it, more so because that is what a good journalist does.
Yet all biases aside, I found that I still could not shake what I had found: when it comes to SL-based contests, people can elect candidates that may not necessarily be deserving of the awards they are giving out. Further, they can use these awards ceremonies as a means to cement the bonds they have with those they are already friends with, thereby suspending any attempts to thoroughly investigate the candidates elected for the awards in the first place.
This realization floored me, and I did not want to initially consider it, not only because of my own personal biases, but also because I did not wish to make waves in the community I serve. However, my realization could not be ignored because it is a warranted one. This is because, even with my personal biases in tow, it is still a valid realization that can be supported with evidence.
Mind you, rigging contests is not isolated to one SL-based group nor organization; this is a wide spread problem I have seen happen over and over again at various venues I have attended. It is not limited to race, social class, sex, gender nor ethnicity either because I have covered other awards ceremonies that have featured no people of color as contestants in their events, yet still relied on their personal connections and allegiances to cement winnings for their sl friends and families. With this in mind, I want my SL Parade readers to know that this editorial IS NOT necessarily targeting one organization or group; rather, it is targeting the SL culture that allows this kind of behavior to persist and continually manifest itself over and over and over again.
By nature, I am a talker…I talk about how I feel to others, and even share revealing details about myself, sometimes to my own detriment. However, I am strong enough to say this: I will stand behind every word I say. Some may say I am messy for it, but I want you all to be mindful that I am me, and I will continue to be me regardless of how ostracized I may become as a consequence of what I do or say. Because I am who I am, I refuse to sit idly by and not speak out about what I have noticed inworld. With that being said, I would like to do more than speak on it; I would like to relate a suggestion a friend of mine stated while we talked about the contest rigging epidemic going on in the SL community.
She stated the following:“…it would be really nice to have an ethical format within sl to hold all organizations to, but here it’s the nature of the beast because anything and everything can transpire here…there is no mainstream guide of accomplishments that holds everyone eligible, to the same standard of measurement….”
While my friend wanted to remain anonymous, she made an excellent point: There should be an ethical format within sl present…one that holds all organizations accountable in the way they award prizes, and who they award prizes to. This ethical format should be ushered in not by a secular based organization, but by Linden Labs.
To extend this idea further, all contestants–as well as those sponsors that support the contests–should be thoroughly researched to insure that the prizes being awarded are going to ones that are legitimately deserving of them. Their qualifications for deserving these awards should not be based on who they are friends with, nor who their family members are. It should be based on documented accomplishments, and proof that they are legitimately attempting to uphold the integrity and standards implicit within the contests.
In terms of the sponsors, those that sponsor these events should not simultaneously act as judges of the contestants. I say this because in one pageant I covered, the modeling agency responsible for training the contestants also doubled up as judges during the competition…the models were also responsible for paying for any items needed to enhance their avatar’s contest appearance. This was very problematic because these models were not only finalists, but had to make purchases based on the Modeling agencies feedback and suggestions. These pageant finalists were also often pitted against other contestants to keep any protests and questions they had in check. If money is being paid for skins, animations, and other avatar based items, and this payment is based solely on requirements established by the modeling agency that also doubles up as the judge and jury of the contestants, this can be deemed not only a conflict of interest, but also as unethical. This is because the modeling school administrators could be subject to bribery, not only from the models, but from the contest organizers and creators themselves.
To add on to this, I would also suggest that if the contestants are either friends with the judges, or even related to the judges, that they should not be allowed to participate in the contest. This is a conflict of interest as well, and fosters nepotism in a competition that should be about merit, not about who they know. In addition, those that are responsible for collecting monies in any competition or raffle should not be allowed to directly participate, nor win any contests because they are working directly with the contestant ballots, and have inside information on not only who has paid what, but how many ticket purchases someone has made, etc. as well. I say that because I have been a witness to this occurring at various venues and club settings. In fact, when I directly asked the club owner about it, I was told that the person collecting the monies had every right to participate in the contest, and that there should be no question about rather or not this person should have won because their winning was based on a machine-based selection–and not on a selection made by a person. When I asked the club owner to show me where the machine was, she was unable to do so.
Also, if a person has a reputation of cheating in any contests or events, they should thoroughly be investigated. If there is evidence out there that supports this alleged reputation, it should be presented to the contestant as grounds for disqualification.
Yet, in an effort to be fair, Linden Labs should set time aside to directly talk to SL community members about this…especially if RL money is at stake (like in the case of one modeling based competition I covered some time ago).
We all want to be winners, and we all yearn to be successful. However, I contend that a lack of honesty is not the way to go in accomplishing this. Nepotism, as well as glamorizing those that practice unethical behavior in SL by awarding them prizes and allowing them to continuously cheat—all to stay in their good graces—is something I cannot, nor will not support. I urge you to consider my position, and ponder on the validity of my statement…and remember, even with my own biases, there is truth in what I am saying.