Losing a loved one is never what you think its going to be. Its hard to pick words that describe my mood right now. I received news by voice mail that my mom had passed, and it wasn't a shock like a car accident or freak occurrence, we've been prepared for a while. But it's still a think to feel. Mentally, I'm still in control of my faculties, but there's a quiet yearning for all of the amazing qualities that were the signature of my Champion. She was a beautiful, comical, crafty, survivor. She was a hard working provider with a taste for the small pleasures of life; great food, hearty fall out of your chair laughter, and a brandy and coke over ice.
Deloris Venner was a selfless advocate for her children and grandchildren s' happiness, often sacrificing everything she has so we could have the things we needed. But her loving arms of protection go miles beyond missing a meal or not buying a new outfit for herself, (though she stayed "buttasharp" as she put it). One of my Mothers favorite stories to tell about my childhood was how we were in a hotel out of town attending a beauty pageant for my gorgeous sister, showing love and supporting her, and while the family was hanging out around the pool lounging and socializing, I managed to get myself in some trouble, and ended up doing the doggy paddle in the deep end of a loft pool. Bobbing just above the breaks and splashes, probably swallowing pool water, a second or two away from a real catastrophe.
She must have scanned the whole pool area sensing something was out of sorts or that there was danger threatening one of her young ens, and she spotted me moving my short pudgy arms and legs for all I was worth, in water I couldn't see the bottom of. So without regard to any of the stretched out lounge chairs in her path, or stopping to consider the fact that she couldn't swim, she plunged feet first, holding her nose, into the deep blue water determined to save her baby boy who may or may not really have been drowning.
She always told me that she sank right to the bottom but kicked and struggled enough to push my little butt and head out of the water, not knowing or thinking about how she was going to get herself out once I was safe. Fortunately for us a big bald brother plunged in after her and got us both to safety. I'm grateful to them both.
But that was her attitude towards her children. My dad was different from my older sisters' and brothers' father, and he was slow to warm up to my big brother Curtis. There were probably "man of the house" struggles that happened before I even knew what walking was all about. But there was definitely an unfair leaning towards me, that must have been terrible for my big brother. I didn't learn about the favoritism because my brother told me about it or because I complained. I know about it because how frustrated my dad would be from fighting with my mom. She loved all of her babies and if she had to give us extra love because the world was being extra cruel, then that's what she did.
The light of her smile and bubbles in her laughter could break down the barriers in any room, and her love for music and family know no bounds. Whether it was starting a soul train line at any family function or house party, or quoting the words to a current rap song, my mom was always the life of the party, and wanted everyone else to have a blast too.
One of my biggest regrets is that after all the love, sacrifices, and support she unconditionally gave me, I didn't reach the lofty heights she knew I could reach while she was here to see it. When I made the call to tell her I had gotten in trouble, then again, then again, and again, she scolded me because she knew I was better than my behavior. She yelled because she feared for my safety, and she cried for what my bad decisions were doing to my life. But she never turned her back on me, or loved me any less. She just reminded me that I could and that I had to do better.
One of the hardest parts of being gone is remembering holidays and special occasions. Deloris Venner didn't miss a beat. She wasn't concerned about her safety to jump in the pool. So imagine how much concern she had for me living in the Pacific Time Zone. 4:00 am, 5:00 am, it didn't matter, it was a special day and she called at the butt crack of dawn to remind me.
She filled me with wisdom, courage, self confidence, and the ability to relate to anyone. She showed me how to see other routes when the direct path was blocked, and taught me to smile when everything around me sad enough to cry about. I am the man I am because of her and I love you Mom and feel you using your loving hands, still pushing me forward lifting me up so that I can take another breathe and make it to the potential you've always seen in me.
I love you
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
My mother named me Ramsey Francis Venner after my father so she attached the sexy double I (or II) Roman numerals to give my dad his props. My dad’s Columbian pedigree or Spanish influences got my family to calling me “Papi” or Poppy because black folks change names just because. You know the drill, Tracy becomes Tracee or Tracie, Jason turns into Jaycen or Jaison, or sometimes we combine two or three names to make one. True story, I met a chick named De-la-shante and this chick named her baby Omarkavius. My people, my people.
The point is we identify by the titles our parents assign us at birth, and just as quick as we can take on nicknames or AKA’s for any number of reasons. Most out of love, or because they sound cute. Some out of hate, like my girl Nonosika that we called “Sneeze”. Some out of necessity, I’ve watched the Lifetime movies, sometimes shit gets real in a bad way. But I think something is lost in nicknames when our given names are what’s real.
With my Columbian roots I think I felt being anonymous was something that was bred in me. I blame movies like Scarface and the manhunt of Pablo Escobar. In 35 years I’ve racked up quite a few A.K.A’s…. Poppy, Francisco, Cisco, Zilla, Big Soop but underneath them all I’ve always been Ramsey. When I accepted awards, Ramsey. When my mother or women friends got pissed and started yelling I was RAMSEY!!!! Or sometimes Ramsey Francis. OUCH; Jobs, Ramsey; School, Ramsey. Everything real, Ramsey.
As life took this turn towards trouble, and I become familiar with lawyers and the judicial system, I was addressed as Ramsey and when it got bad only by my last name and an ID number. What I’ve noticed is, everything real and lasting, good or terrible in my life, has cut through all the cute and endearing that the various nick names conveyed. When it got real, credit score, medical records and even No Loose Ends, good or bad, the nick names and identities associated with them were worthless.
The music, rappin, trappin, club romances and one week stands, real and fake highs, fantasies and flights of grandiosity are all gone like the clownish way I behaved when I introduced myself with a stutter or stammer when it came to the name I referred to myself as.
I had to realize I am a grown man that no longer needs to hide behind an AKA. I have a ton of faults that I am happy to be working on, and I have done many things that I am extremely proud of. But that realization came with embracing the fact that who I am will never change no matter how I introduce myself and what I do, my actions, are who I am.
From birth to bad credit, outlaw, beast, father, new life, unsecured credit cards, and No Loose Ends, I am now and will always be Deloris & Ramsey Sr.’s only boy, Ramsey F. Venner II.
Monday, September 1, 2014
I had originally planned this post to be about the depth of seriousness of a name and how we identify ourselves. But there are far bigger issues going on in the world as I write. Even from this over censored, extra regulated, high wall and higher fenced-in sorrow factory, I hear and see the world is riddled with turmoil. There is usually always trouble and discord overseas, those folks have been locked into wars and struggle for centuries. They are not at issue we got bigger problems.
My heart is disturbed this morning as the images from Ferguson, MO are plastered across the screen on all the national networks. The stories are conflicting about why the young brother Mike Brown got gunned down in the street by the white cop Darren Wilson, but the face is that it happened and no amount of schmoosing is calming the tide of unrest and dissatisfaction of an injured and fed up people.
The images and snapshots of state and local police in riot gear, fringe tear gas canisters and flash grenades at American citizens and protesting youth makes me wonder what is the world gonna be like when I come home. What will be left if it’s already burning to the ground?
Vigilante-ism and movies like the Purge aren’t the answer, but when it comes down to it what other choice does the poor and pushed out majority have? Killing and incarcerating young black men with impunity may have gone on for a while prior to this incident but those atrocities can no longer happen in silence. Ferguson you have more than the National Guards at your borders, you have the eyes and ears of the world trained on you. I pray that the black leadership that shows up at all the camera clicks takes this opportunity to not only soak up donations for their private foundations, but that they use this enormous spotlight and bull horn to show the people the power they possess. And to harvest the energy and emotion of this unrest and channel it towards sustained efforts to improve not only their/our conditions but our methods and dealings on a daily.
Let’s not let this tragedy be in vain. The immediate problem appears to be black and white but the underlying problem is the division between the have and have nots. They feel we are worthless and thus expendable, but a national movement will make it crystal clear what our true value is. Keep fighting until they recognize and deliver justice. Fear not when your cause is righteous.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Maybe it’s just me, but seems like as Americans, we are diverging into one of two schools of though. Either we are fame hungry or so starved for attention, we are willing to do anything for a little shine. Hence the shows like “Famous in 12” or all of the new naked reality shows (not that naked is bad. Naked mostly is good) it’s just the last resort, because the thirst for the spotlight is real.
The other school of thought is the total withdrawal, or the blasé beige apathy that is the strangest among the young and tech savvy types. The folks so absorbed in their own minutiae they rarely peek up from their devices long enough to make eye contact much less engage the rest of the world to participate in meaningful conversation. There are even some of these folks with a full handle of breaking news, the top trending stories, and the latest gossip, but they have been out of the practice of interfacing with other people so long that open exchanges are awkward and uncomfortable. To all of these folks on behalf of the rest of the world let me say, Hey we miss you.
For all the folks I mentioned, and the different varying degrees in between, I’d like to propose a challenge. Fame seekers don’t get undressed yet, pay attention. It is my sincere belief that you are so much more than your back shot, or than you may realize. Your ideas, insights, and experience are probably in most cases a was better story than your tan lines or the fact you dropped your towel in the presence of a complete stranger and let a camera crew follow you around, because some TV. exec has run out of quality creative writing ideas.
Same thing for the detached folks. Your real life stories have the ability to inform dazzle, entertain, educate, delight, and inspire others if you can find it in yourself to share it. And this may sound a little crazy, but share using more than 140 characters,0000! Don’t sneer at me; I’m not deterred by your gasps. I feel like I have to say it on the off chance people forget completely how to be courageous.
I dare you today, to say or do something inspirational. Dig deeper than the surface. When you inspire others to act, to think, to believe, to smile, the ripples from that inspiration can cause the world to change. Be better today than you were yesterday.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
I look into the blank stares and vacant smiles of my comrades (fellow inmates) and I’m, besieged by a cloud of despair. In a long procession of humanity we trudge single-filed to and from a concrete cafe under the watchful eye of a shotgun carrying trigger man. The landscape is bleak; barren brown and orange earth, with white and grey gravel stretched across the pitch in all directions as far as the eye can see. No green, no shrubs, no grass, no life. It looks like science fiction but it’s not. It’s a prison in Southern Nevada and it looks like the surface of Mars.
There’s an interruption to the monotony but nothing so pleasant as hope. No. It’s steel cages, razor wire and concrete cubby holes with plastic slits for windows. Housing units, or better stated, storage slots for human beings. Man, many of which will never leave this place packed away neatly and disregarded like Christmas decorations in the summer time.
That’s why seeing the blank stares and silly smiles sicken me. The majority of these men don’t realize how far away from reality we've fallen. But this docile acceptance isn't by accident. This is the meticulously designed plan and forecast fatal results of a villainous plot. A parade of young, fit, virile but unfortunate lost men, uniformed identically to shred away thoughts of individuality and independence, given the bare minimum of basic necessities to survive and cowed into submission by threats of bodily harm not excluding deadly force, which will be excused as justifiable homicide.
Sadist is an understatement. But my grief is a mere snapshot of the problem like the white froth of a crashing wave is snapshot of the ocean. The whole picture is miles wide on all sides and takes more ink than this pen holds to explain. I’m just doing my Richard Engle impersonation, but I’m not on a rooftop in Damascus. I’m incarcerated in an American prison, a car ride away from you, but ironically suffering from the same conditions as those he reports on so far away.
What if this is a plan? Could you in the free world be affected too? What are the “prep-pers” getting ready for? The Netflix hit “Orange is the New Black” is a sensation, but what is it has another purpose? The Nazi’s called it propaganda.
The idea is to make the idea of incarceration cod or to romanticize it so there’s less resistance when its forced down your throat . Why are there so many “Locked Up” shows on television?
In the world, the media aggressively promotes tolerance of “all lifestyles” to the point of ostracism for anyone that’s resistant or that feels more comfort in a traditional relationship (heterosexual). At the same time the youth are trained to focus on and edify the insignificant, inconsequential, and sometime plain ignorant, through pop culture so the power and energy of a generation is wasted in trivial pursuits.
As Phylicia Rashad so eloquently stated at the BET awards, all throughout history 20-30 year olds were the front line warriors that fought and demanded change. Now the voices of young adults have been replaced with words like LOL and Emoticons.
This article is probably more truth than the masses will have patience for which further proves my point. Our consciousness has been worn down to vines, hash tags and acting as ridiculous as possible to catch the cameras attention for a taste of fame. I used to think people that spoke about the plight of humanity were crazy until I saw for myself the end game of being asleep at the wheel.
If we’re not careful it won’t just be men being marched across Mars. If we don’t wake up, it could be everybody.
R. Venner 86053
P.O. Box 650
Indian Spring, NV 89070