A little over two months ago, I got into a car accident.  Leaving the office at about 2:30am my Grand Caravan was hit by a kid driving an out-of-control White Jeep Cherokee.  The kid groggily got out of the car and quickly fled the scene on foot.  Come to find out he had good reason to, as there were drugs found in his car–the type routinely found in The Wire.

I was ok.  But imagine your significant other getting a knock on the door at 2:30am saying “Your husband’s been in an accident.”

Fast-forward two weeks.  We’re now without a car…and we roll seven deep.  Because we’ve got a strong network of people who love and care about us we’re able to make due.  But while driving four of my five children to the Y on a sunny Saturday morning, a family friend lost control of her minivan and turned over onto another car.  My wife couldn’t go to the scene because she couldn’t keep calm.  I was cool on the scene, and afterwards at the hospital.

But the month of November and some of December was a wash.  Not just dealing with insurance, but dealing with the fragility of life.  Not my own–I didn’t see my life pass before me when I got hit or anything like that.  But my kids.  It tore me up that there was nothing I could have done to prevent the accident my kids were in.  Bringing in the new year, particularly given how things COULD have turned out, represents a real opportunity to begin anew.  What does that mean?

First and foremost it means that I have to slow down and say thank you.  I’ve already told a number of my friends about what happened, but haven’t told anyone here.  So here are the people that I’ve learned the most from reading over the past year:

Prometheus6–Earl’s given me more ideas for my commentaries on NPR than anyone else.  If I weren’t so broke (seven people remember!) I’d have cut him a check by now.

Michael Bowen–Cobb was largely responsible for getting me into the game.  Like Stanley Crouch, I find that even when I disagree with him, his writing is worth reading.  One of my two favorite Republican blacks (my neophyte JD Dallah is the other).
Craig Nulan–Craig’s comments are both insightful and cutting.  His philosophy about the value of Work is undervalued both in the web, and in black politics.  I don’t have a link to him directly because he doesn’t have a blog. But read his comments on Cobb or on Prometheus6.  Like a ginsu kid.
Tayari Jones–I just started reading her blog this past year. And read her book on the Atlanta Child Murders after that.  Tayari is one of the best friends I have that I only email once or twice a month, and have never met in person even though she lives up the road.  Jelani is the other one.  Oh.  Her brother Bomani is good to go as well.
Jamal Young–Jamal and I go wayyyyyy back.  Damn near twenty years.  Gracious, brilliant, and powerful.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–the network I was able to build while at Michigan in the eighties is unparalleled.

Steve Barnes–I disagree STRONGLY with his racial politics, but his ideas on self-improvement have helped me a great deal.

And finally Shawn Spence.  We got married when we were young as f*ck, and about as bright as two doorknobs.  We had plans to take over the world–just ask Jamal.  People used to make jokes about how our kids would be–“yall kids gonna be the one organizing on the playground, like ‘we ain’t gonna take no nap until y’all put some BROTHAS up on the wall.”  A whole lot of time has passed since then, and we’re still learning.  But when I needed a soldier–she was there.  When I needed someone to hold down the fort while I was trying to get my write on, she was there.  I love her more now than I ever have before.

There are others out there.  I don’t read Rachel, George, or the folks at Blackprof, much less regular readers like the folks at Democracy and Hip Hop and Maxambit as often as I would like.
I finally beat the crap out of the chapter that I’ve been wrestling with for well over a year.  But I haven’t spent much time talking about the difficulties of writing.  And even though I imagine there aren’t that many young black professors dealing with the intellectual life, a wife, AND five homeschooled kids, I don’t really talk about family much.  Folks like Dell Gines, Blac(k)ademic, and Lynne Johnson, have either gotten out of the game, or at least shifted gears, because being a blogger in 2006 requires more than just “writing some stuff.”  And even though I don’t consider myself a blogger, but rather a professor who maintains a blog, I have to figure out a way to get more mileage out of this thing…and to provide more value for those who stumble into my space.