Dwight Hobbes

Recent Articles

Know the difference between devotion and obsession

 

There’s an old, beautifully written song that soul immortal Jerry Butler made famous, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The refrain goes, “Never gonna give you up/no matter how you treat me/Never gonna give you up/So, don’t you think of leaving.” Listening to it sung, especially when it’s sung well — the Black Keys recently released a nice cover — it is a heroic sentiment. In practice, it can be dangerous behavior. The expression “I can’t live without you” is supposed to be just that: a romantic figure of speech. News headlines historically tell story after story of sad cases where someone took that idea of never giving up all too literally. You do not want to wind up as one of those stories. Continue Reading →

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Dealing with that first date

First dates: inevitable as death and taxes. Unless, of course, you like living lonely. And don’t come with baloney about you’re perfectly content being single. You’ve made your peace with it, sure, and are comfortable keeping your company. But, don’t tell me you don’t sometimes daydream about being just as comfortable with someone wonderful keeping your company, too. Continue Reading →

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Lesli and Keith get back to their lives — with a twist

When Lesli dropped that “Just decided to keep it” bomb, Keith couldn’t believe she hadn’t at least talked with him before making up her mind. And told her so. On the one hand, yes, it’s her body. On the other, that was him in there, too. He glared out the window. “Don’t sulk.”

“Ain’t sulkin’.”

“Are so. You’re angry because I didn’t consult you before coming to a conclusion. And I don’t blame you. Sue me. I should’ve said something and, for once, kept my opinion to myself.”

“Picked a hell of a time to do that.”

“You didn’t want me to —” She leaned close, so the driver wouldn’t hear. “You didn’t want me to have an abortion, did you?”

“Hell no!” At that the driver did glance at them in his mirror. She nestled close. “Good.”

This woman, he thought, is going to drive me off a cliff. They got to the station and, even out here, someone recognized him. A pretty little strawberry blonde, probably about 16, sat with what likely were her parents and older brother. Gawking. Then walked over in something that resembled a trance. Keith and Lesli were trying to figure out when they would next see each other when Lesli noticed the girl. Standing a few feet away. Continue Reading →

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Treating Black men means healing Black women

Black Men Healing Conference focuses on sexual exploitation
 
By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer

There are a great many programs and projects to aid Black women and improve life for Black youth, aimed at empowering socially embattled sistahs to overcome obstacles and salvage youngsters from circumstances that lead to dead-end futures. Regrettably, when it comes to Black men, little is said or done that isn’t limited to keeping them from going back to jail or prison, which makes this year’s Sixth Annual Community Empowerment Through Black Men Healing Conference a must-attend event. The conference primarily concerns itself with filling that void for men. Importantly, it’s grounded in the understanding that healing Black men doesn’t happen in a vacuum, that Black women’s well-being inextricably is involved. Heading up the Black Men Healing Conference (www.brothershealing.com) is the founding organizer, renowned behavioral consultant Samuel Simmons. Continue Reading →

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Keith stays the night

Keith hadn’t expected an invitation to stay the night. But Mari would hear of nothing else. So, here he sat, lounging in a robe and trunks borrowed from his father-in-law-to-be and nursing a beer, toking on a joint, watching his woman climb up out of the water and stand, shaking her hair, toweling off. As she started to rub the swell of her hips, his gaze went from admiring to a look of embarrassment. He was not quite comfortable staring at her body in front of her parents. Averting his eyes didn’t help because they fell on Mari, who looked every bit as stunning in a string bikini as her daughter did. Keith decided to talk to Hank: “So, how you like them Mets?”

“Yankee fan myself.”

“Okay, nobody’s perfect. When they gon’ get a decent shortstop?”

“Well, there won’t be any second coming of Derek Jeter. But, they got a kid coming up at Triple-A. White boy, switch hits, good with the glove, runs well. We’ll see.”

Lesli came over and flounced right down on his lap, taking the joint. “Hey, handsome.”

“Hey, yourself.”

Mari was laughing on the telephone. “You have to meet him. He’s such a gentleman. And quite easy on the eyes.”

“Mother, who are you bragging about my fiancé to?”

“Your aunt.”

“Louise?!”

“Do you have any other aunts?”

“Oh, Keith, you have to meet her.”

Keith looked to Hank who immediately put his head in his hands. He would find out later, in Hank’s den, with the other two running their mouths in the living room while something played on Lifetime, “Keith, get out of town while the gettin’s good. You think my wife is a piece of work. Her sister’s crazy as a rat. You got past Mari. Don’t press your luck all in one visit.”

“Got it. Tomorrow mornin’, catch the first thing smokin’.”

“If you value your sanity you will.” With which Hank finished his cup of coffee, his last spoonful of chocolate mousse, said, “’Night” and was gone. “’Night.”

He heard from the living room, “Come on, woman, let’s go to bed.”

“You don’t have to ask me twice.”

After a minute, Lesli came in. Wearing a Cheshire cat smile, her favorite, raggedy jeans-cutoffs and the string bikini top. “Wanna see my old bedroom?” She somehow managed to say that and look reasonably innocent yet lecherous at the same time. “Can’t wait.” The room had one poster left from before she went away to college at California State. A photo her dad had taken of Blair Underwood and Carl Franklin standing around, apparently shooting the breeze, after one of Hank’s lectures. The rest basically was blank. Nicely appointed, but blank. Your typical guest room. “So,” she said brightly, bouncing on the bed. “Whaddya think?”

“It’s a nice room.”

“No, stupid. How do you think today went?”

“Well,” he went over and laid down on the bed, kicking his sneakers off, “meeting your mother sure explains a lot about you.”

Her mouth fell open. “And what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Ain’t neither one of you got the first lick of sense. But, y’ damn sure got personality. Continue Reading →

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Tired of long-term plans to close the achievement gap?

SkyLearn promises ‘significant improvements’
 
By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer

 

Minnesota’s educational disparity isn’t just a gap, it’s a chasm. Unless you’re stupid enough to believe all those children of color are that dumb, common sense dictates it is a deliberate, system-wide act of institutionalized racism, pure and simple, one that attacks Black communities in the one area that historically has strengthened us — social progress achieved by sticking your head in a book and applying what you learn to prevail, even in the face of discrimination. Do something serious and concrete about the educational disparity and you remove a grim disadvantage that keeps our kids behind the proverbial eight-ball as would-be students shunted to society’s sidelines to become statistics for the prison system and welfare rolls. In this light, consider Sky Learn, Inc. a resource with which to reckon in the interest of, beyond salvaging these youngsters, enabling them to empower our communities. “With 40 hours of on-line instruction, students have experienced the mastery of reading and math,” asserts president/CEO Jesse Overton in a statement at Skylearn.net, “and are able to participate at grade level with a 85 percent mastery of the basic skills.”

Quite an extraordinary claim at a time when extraordinary measures are exactly what’s called for to counteract the chronic discrimination that has educationally crippled generations. Continue Reading →

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Hank and Keith reach an understanding

By the time dinner was done with, everybody was feeling pretty nice. Which is when Mari decided to turn dinner into pool party. “Keith, darling? You didn’t happen to pack a pair of swimming trunks?”

“So happens I did not.”

“Henry?”

“I got it.” Mari and Lesli strolled out to the front lawn, chatting like school girls. Hank handed Keith an apron, strapped on one himself. They commenced to clean up and chew the rag. “Have t’ watch you.”

“Watch me?”

“Yeah. You have and hold the singular distinction of being the first man to catch our daughter’s eye since myself who her mother didn’t cut off at the knees.” He looked Keith up and down with clear favor. “You charm snakes, too?” They both got a laugh out of that. “So,” Hank continued, lowering his voice, “this Helen St. James. She all she’s cracked up to be?”

“I don’t know what-all she’s cracked up to be, Hank.” Keith finished his drink, started a fresh one. Continue Reading →

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Zsame serenades parents at Wenso Ashby’s CD release

The evening doesn’t get off to a promising start at Else Warehouse for pianist/producer/composer Wenso Ashby’s The Rebirth: Mind, Body & Soul release event and listening party. Not having seen Ashby in ages, I eagerly reach to shake his hand. He grabs mine and literally drags me back to the door — no hello, how’ve you been, nothing  — like he’s taking out the trash, sends me back downstairs to wait. No word how long, just go wait. When I am permitted entrance, at the bar a haughty hostess ignores me. Continue Reading →

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The diners hold forth

Hank snatched up a cloth and began wiping the glass table down. “Would you start putting those burgers on the platter while they’re still edible?”

“Sure thing.”

“So, what’s my daughter got against Helen St. James? I saw the woman on a TV interview. Seems like a nice lady. Kind of on the sassy side, but still nice.”

“Oh, Helen’s fine. To tell the truth, Lesli doesn’t know her real well. Hasn’t taken the time. She… Well, she doesn’t like the fact that I like her. I mean, as a friend and all, but, well, Helen’s a special kind of gal.”

“Ah,” Hank said and tossed the cloth under the grill. “The green-eyed devil raising his head.”

“Yeah, you could say.”

“I wouldn’t let that throw you, son. Her mother was the same way. She’ll get over it.”

Keith winced. “You sure?”

Hank chuckled. “Just hang in there. Continue Reading →

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Keith survives round one

With Lesli’s mother Mari eyeballing him, Keith somehow summoned the nerve to stare right back. She pressed, “Aren’t you going to tell me how much you love her?” She took a tiny sip of her bourbon. “How much she means to you?”
Keith knew no matter what he said he’d be wrong. Figured what the hell, might as well go with the truth. “No. I’m not going to say any of that.”
She crossed her shapely legs, settled back on her hips. Reminding him again how closely she resembled her daughter. Her daughter resembled her. Vice versa, whatever. Mari pushed: “Why not?”
“Because, Ms. Hall, I can’t begin to say how much I love Lesli. Or explain what she means to me. Continue Reading →

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