ain’t nobodys business

We all know someone who tells everything, about themselves and sometimes everyone else. It is hard for that person to maintain relationships because they give the impression that nothing is off limits … and often that is how they act. For most of us, who appreciate degrees of privacy, that type of person usually wants to receive that same type of overshare from others… and it’s not gonna happen. Everything is not for public consumption.

On a few separate occasions in the past few weeks, I have encountered people who believe that transparency is a healthy and necessary part of vulnerability and social engagement. I don’t know that it is transparency as much as authenticity that’s key. My open and honest dialogue, where I reveal parts of myself, should be based on my comfort, not the comfort of those around me. That is authentic. Sharing because other folks want to know, doesn’t feel either open or honest to me… it feels forced and uncomfortable. Being authentic is synonymous with personal comfort… because it stems from you being who you are without pretense. I’m authentic with people I have real relationships with. Everyone else is not entitled to my personal business, and I’m authentically private. Period.

Privacy is not negative. It is a protective tool for ensuring that others are not immersed in every part of your life, that you still have private moments whether with yourself, your kids, your spouse, family and friends. In those moments you don’t want a microphone attached to your blouse or everyone recording videos, you simply want to spend time with folks. Folks always trying to post and tell everyone what they were into can be very overwhelming and a source of sensory overload. The same way 12,000 selfies gets old after selfie #5. The need for attention is overwhelming for some. Some is me. I stop looking and listening after awhile. Mystery is sexy. Leaving a little something to the imagination is fun. Dumping your whole personality on the table is like a game of concentration… the buzzer goes off and you are both nervous but anticipatory of all the pieces shooting up in the air. Whew… that’s over. Enough already.

Social media has resulted in people talking about, taking pictures of, and sharing the location of what they are doing, thinking, eating, buying, want, need, and believe every second of the day. I know what they ate, wore, how they did their hair, and who they did it all with every day of the week. It’s a very interesting life of voyeurism. Similarly, others like to tell you everything about themselves. Whether they just love attention or are being open and honest about everything, so it leaves nothing for people to criticize (they’ll always find something), I think it’s typically rooted in some insecurity. Additionally, transparency doesn’t necessarily have honesty at its core. Authenticity does.

Share what is comfortable for you. You aren’t required to be psychologically nude at someone else’s request. Just be who you are, and that is enough. Other folks can go on telling all the ins and outs of their lives if they want, but their level of transparency does not dictate yours. Transparency, like misery, clearly likes company. Who all gon be there!!?!?

“Hello new word, all the boys & girls”

(Karyn Morton; Parenting Psychoeducational Review; Psychotherapy of Children & Adolescence; Wayne Stare University; Dr. Erica Bockneck, 7/15/2022)

In 2022 Kendrick Lamar dropped his last album, and it was full of references to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic…”you’re back outside, but they still lied”… referencing the stay at home, social distancing, and mask mandates ending, but the real world changes the pandemic would cause being hidden and kept from the masses. It was a true project on art mimicking real life, and speaking to the human condition, a new human condition unlike the one we lived in pre-March 2020, for adults, but particularly for children.

I am the parent of a 17-year old child who was 14 when the pandemic started. He came home in February 2020 a six foot tall, round faced, silly, young boy who liked video games and got straight As. He went back to school two years later as a 6’5”, super handsome young man with facial hair, caring much less about grades, much more about how he would craft a life for himself that didn’t rely on one career and super aware of the lucrative future in technology security and coding. Over that time, gaming became less of a past-time and more of a necessity. His cellphone attached to his fingertips much like my landline clear slimline phone was permanently attached to my ear as a teen. These changes were obvious as a parent, but the reasons why much less obvious. Since kids are facing their upcoming school year as their first full year in three years , its very helpful for parents to understand how their lives have shifted so we can help them succeed going forward.

Parental understanding and education is very important to ensuring the mental health of children as there is a triangular relationship between child, parent, and therapist in the therapeutic space. (Liverpool et al, 2021). So giving parents some perspective on the changes and stages their children are going through is imperative to properly support their emotional wellness. According to Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, the teenage years is when one’s identity is developed, and this is shaped largely by their relationships with other people, specifically their peers. How they see themselves in the world, their sense of self, and autonomy are areas teens are developing which are all heavily influenced by peer relationships (Smith-Adcock, S. & Tucker, C., 2016).

During this time teens are also going through a variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional changes. First they are going through a series of changes to their bodies, associated with puberty. They are also, based on Piaget’s cognitive theory, thinking more abstractly about the world around them, including their social world. (Danner, 1989). All of these developmental factors are at play when considering how teens are experiencing the world and change.

The majority of childhood peer relationships, particularly friendships, are developed in school by same aged children. (Rubin et al, 2007). These friendships, when given time to cultivate during this important time of our lives, often last well into adulthood as I am still friends with most of my high school peers and even my mom, just had dinner a few days ago with her two best friends from Osborne (Detroit Public High School) graduating class of 1969. During the pandemic kids worldwide had to attend school virtually from February 2020 until approximately March 2022, and even not fully for all students even then. Kids were socially isolated from one another and physically separated, so they had limited means to maintain friendships. It is understandable how being at home could therefore play a huge part in teens ability and opportunity to build relationships.

In a study by Rubin et al. (2007), on the affects of the pandemic for kids 5-14, kids noted that missing their friends, lacking face to face interaction, and not having the opportunity to interact with other people besides family made that time and isolation particularly difficult. They also spoke of using virtual communication as a means to lessen these affects, but not totally negating the loss of comraderie and intimacy. Kids noted that virtually they couldn’t play or have fun with friends, they lacked the consistent support seeing their friends daily provided, and their connection (hugs, smiles, laughs) with friends was nonexistent. (Rubin et al, 2007). Anytime there is loss there may also be grief or trauma. So, this data is important so parents can understand the importance of kids’ personal relationships and the loss and trauma that results from isolation from friends.

To further understand, I spoke with several teens above 14 to gain an understanding of how they processed the lack of social interaction during the pandemic and it’s results on their well being. It was clear from their responses that their more mature abstract thinking resulted in them looking for ways to connect and interact that went beyond the physical world into the digital one. (Hamilton, 2022). Kids talked at length about using social media more, and finding multiple methods such as text, phone calls, gaming, Reddit, Discord, and multiple other modalities to maintain friendships and make new friendships despite being physically separated.

All six of the kids I spoke to named multiple ways they interacted and didn’t seem to have much difficulty, particularly with other same sex teens, maintaining and being supported by and supportive to their friends. All the teens stated they had a harder time building new friendships with the opposite sex, because boys and girls were into different things. For example, girls were more into social media and boys more into gaming. They also all reported less opportunity to develop romantic relationships as there was a physical connection needed with another person upon which attraction and romantic intimacy was based, which they all lacked, that couldn’t be duplicated through digital means. All noted a decrease in a academic competitiveness among peers and personally, as learning was more difficult and motivation was harder to maintain virtually. Lastly, about half noted it was hard to reestablish friendships in person because they had all gotten used to being isolated and connecting virtually, even though it wasn’t ideal.

While this wasn’t a scientific based study, it was an attempt to gain a greater understanding on how the pandemic affected older teens. The sample was very homogenous as all the teens were kids of friends of mine with very similar backgrounds, racial and cultural identity, socioeconomic status, and educational success. However, the point was just to give some perspective on how older teens experienced changes in their peer interactions during the pandemic. It is clear, that overall, they experienced less feelings of loss than younger kids, but did see both negative and positive affects. Kids over 14 relied upon unique methods to maintain interaction, but still missed out on some important areas of social growth during the pandemic.

This may signify the importance of parents noticing young adults delaying romantic relationships, being less interested in competing for position moving forward, and connecting less face to face and more via virtual, digital, online methods. These things aren’t necessarily problematic, but when they point to difficulty interacting face to face, it is helpful for parents to find or promote activities that are in person. Some aspects of socio-emotional growth may not have matured as teens attempted to figure out how to maintain resilience during a time of uncertainty. (Mlawler F. et al., 2022). Developing lasting friendships, romantic relationships, and relationships built upon healthy competition are all necessary as one moves into adulthood. Even older teens may need increased support in becoming more self-aware and being reminded and expected to engage offline as well.

Older teens did use various modes of virtual and digital communication to interact to lessen the detrimental affects of social isolation. So parents need to see increased phone, internet, and gaming time in this light and use less reductivism when dealing with kids time using social media. (Hamilton, 2022). Kids may need increased slack and reduced judgement on how often they use technology, because so much if that time was spent using these methods to interact with, enjoy, and support their friendships. These relationships are valuable not only as the fundamental building blocks of all human interaction, but also in helping kids develop into adults who have healthy relationships.

The better parents understand how to support their kids’ resilience during periods of extreme change, trauma, and social isolation, the better teens will recover when societal issues threaten their peer interactions. Since peer interaction is a very important part of identity development and the transition from dependence to autonomy, it is important for parents to be able to identify and understand it’s importance. After the masks have been long retired and kids have gone a whole school year walking the halls of their beloved schools, parents will still need to support the changes the pandemic caused and help teens work through the lingering issues. After all, “it’s a whole world outside.” (Kendrick Lamar, N95), and kids might need to be reminded of that.

References:

  • Mlawler, F., Moore, C.C., Hubbard, J.A. et al. Pre-Pandemic Peer Relations Predict Adolescents’ Internalizing Response to Covid-19. Res Child Adolesc Psychopathol 50, 649–657 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-021-00882-1
  • Liverpool, S., Pereira, B., Hayes, D. <em>et al.</em> A scoping review and assessment of essential elements of shared decision-making of parent-involved interventions in child and adolescent mental health.<em>Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry</em> <strong>30, </strong>1319–1338 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-020-01530-7
  • Danner, F. (Ed.). (1989). <em>The adolescent as decision-maker : Applications to development and education</em>. Elsevier Science &amp; Technology.
  • Smith-Adcock, S. &amp; Tucker, C. (Ed.). (2016)Counseling Children and Adolescents: Connecting Theory, Development, and Diversity. SAGE Publications.
  • Rubin, K. H., Bukowski, W. M., &amp; Parker, J. G. (2007). Peer interactions, relationships, and groups. In W. Damon, R. M. Lerner, &amp; N. Eisenberg (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology (Vol 3). John Wiley &amp; Sons. <a class=”linkBehavior” href=”https://doi-org.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/10.1002/9780470147658.chpsy0310″>https://doi-org.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/10.1002/9780470147658.chpsy0310
  • Hamilton, J. L., Nesi, J., &amp; Choukas-Bradley, S. (2022;2021;). Reexamining social media and socioemotional well-being among adolescents through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic: A theoretical review and directions for future research.<em> Perspectives on Psychological Science, 17</em>(3), 662-679. <a rel=”noreferrer noopener” href=”https://doi.org/10.1177/17456916211014189&#8243; target=”_blank”>https://doi.org/10.1177/17456916211014189

*A special thank you to O. Flood, M. Goodrum, M. Ligons, A. Little, K. Mishaw, and B. Morton for participating.

Of Coke Cans and Census Counts

Ya’ll, this shit is mad crazy. In the days since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, I have attended a rally in the metaverse, comforted friends, dealt with my own thoughts and feelings about this bullshit, and read the thoughts and opinions of my peers on social media. Mostly, though, I have armed myself with information. When you know why people act the way they do, you can equip yourself and your community with the tools you need to combat the shit White supremacists do that stand to hurt your people the most. And be clear, this disproportionately hurts Black people more. Like every other piece of legislation or jurisprudence which has at its heart, protecting “white life” as Congresswoman Mary Miller said. Miller, who has several Black and Brown grandchildren, thanked the harbinger of this country’s turn toward demolishing every institution, political goal, government protocol, and law that sought equal protection of the law and due process for all humans, Donald… you know who he is, his whole name makes me vomit.., for preserving “White life.”

How white supremacist of you Mary!

So let’s talk facts.

But be clear, THIS time it’s not just about hurting others. It is mainly about protecting themselves. Bill Wattenburg’s The Birth Dearth, written in 1987, predicted this after the baby boom. He postulated that as the number of children White families had dwindled so would their population. The growth of the White population majority, he stated, ensured the economic stability of the country. Which in turn ensured the status quo. But as minority populations overtook the White population, divisiveness would result, and “it would make it difficult to promote and defend liberty…” And he was correct. Here we stand, the White population down 10% in the last decade, watching government agents we voted for or didn’t vote against (SHAME on you), dismantle these freedoms, rights, and liberties. The same ones we believed were inalienable. The same one’s though that never applied to Black and Brown people anyway. The writers of these hundreds year old documents owned… yep OWNED slaves and tried to prevent others from coming to this country that they, in fact, stole.

So let’s be real clear, this action by the conservative White men, their supportive White woman, and the turncoat Black man on the Supreme Court is for the White majority ALL about preserving White life like Mary said. Abortion stops White births. And soon, like Clarence “Coke Can” Thomas stated in his concurrence, soon contraception, same sex marriage, and to his chagrin, interracial marriage… all predicated upon liberty and substantive due process, which were attacked in the opinion, will come under fire too. Contraception stops white population growth. Same sex marriage has the potential to thwart white population growth, and interracial marriage doesn’t produce White children. Funny that Thomas included this in his concurrence, with his Black ass. You can marry your way to Whiteness or wash that color off negro! But she tried to tell us…

Professor Hill we owe you an extreme apology, ESPECIALLY in the aftermath of Me Too, Cosby, and Weinstein. Cuz this nasty negro should have never been ever considered for such a role. But here we are. We have men, Thomas & Kavanaugh, with a history of violating women making laws that can violate women. Something in the milk ain’t clean.

This is what happens when we don’t take advantage of the one of the EXPRESS rights Black people and Black women have … the right to vote. Only Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer voted against the majority. Every other Justice was nominated by a President whose electorate included a lower percentage of minorities than White voters, except Black women. Two of those Presidents, the younger Bush and Trump, received less votes than their Democratic opponent. We swindle our votes and shit like this happens. The resulting Presidency in elections where Black voters outvoted everyone and our candidate of choice, President Obama won, he was blocked by these minions of Trump, from nominating a Supreme Court Justice. That didn’t make us turn up and out like bees to honey in the next election, well except Black women, and that’s unfortunate. We can’t trick away the one right that is listed EXPRESSLY in the Constitution. Well we can… and the Plan Bs are flying off the shelf as a result. In state’s that ban abortion, women unable to afford medical terminations or to travel will find dangerous ways to terminate pregnancies they cannot afford, that are the result of rape or incest, and that they simply do not want in their bodies.

Bottom line, the holding is Dobbs v. Jacksons Women’s Health Organization, “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives” is a exercise in white supremacy. Wattenburg was telling us the unadulterated truth. The lack of gun control, the murder of Black unarmed victims by State actors, January 6th, the open and public violent racism promoted by Trump and his followers, jurisprudence which robs us of our rights, and the Congress and Court that look more like the Red Wedding than the United States, are simply measures to ensure the White majority. We have to all come together to vote against Coke Cans and Census Counts and not rely on the most mistreated people in America, Black women, to do the United State’s dirty work alone. We are SC Justices now, not just maids to clean up behind your mess.

A Black girl will save the world, let’s do everything in our power to deserve that Queen shit. November 2024 is coming.

NOTE: States which allow abortions: Alaska, Arizona (15weeks), Cali, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida (15 weeks), Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas (8/2 case pending), Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan (court order), Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, NJ, NM, NY, Oregon, RI, Vermont, Washington.

Buffalo Soldiers

Pushing your cart with the rickety wheel through the supermarket, picking up the unbruised apples and putting them in the plastic bag you just snatched apart from the roll, grabbing spaghetti noodles and sauce off the shelf thinking of the dinner you’ll serve to your fam…

“There was a Buffalo Soldier in the heart of America” -Bob Marley

This shit doesn’t stop. In markets, where we pick up the staples of nutrition to feed our families. In SCHOOLS where we drop off our babies in the morning to learn so they gain the knowledge to build or destroy. In church where we praise God, and we all are infused with the spirit of building our communities. In the capital where the elected officials, our ancestors died to give us the right to choose, make laws. In the capital where our elected officials need to pass laws that make it harder to get a gun than a driver’s license. In the capital where our elected officials need to look more like the community at large and less like the graduating class of Harvard in 1950, a bunch of old White dudes. White boys who are taught they alone are the majority, the mode, and the median begat White boys who write manifestos about losing their rightful place on their social, financial, and professional throne, and plan to take it back with ARs and AKs.

So ingrained in them by privilege and supremacy that they are the numero uno, the most important thought and voice, that the minute someone doesn’t agree or someone’s voice is elevated, they terrorize churches, schools, supermarket. These are the last places one expects, but suddenly the places people fear, to be threatened. They use guns to paralyze us. They use police to legally murder us. They use courts to disproportionately cage us like animals. We are being terrorized by tyranny. We are being traumatized by racism.

“Buffalo soldier, Buffalo soldier
Will you survive in this new land?”-The Persuasions

18-year old Payton Gendron killed ten Black people in Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo. He had been seen for psychiatric help based on a murder-suicide letter he wrote but didn’t have his guns taken away as allowed under New York laws. Instead he went to Buffalo, because it had the most Black residents in his area. He originally planned to go to a church or school, but chose the grocery store hoping to kill more people. He went the day prior to stake out the store posing as a panhandler. The murderer legally purchased the AR-15 style gun used in the attack. bought a shotgun in December and received a rifle as a Christmas present at 16. While one must be 21 to buy a handgun one can buy an assault rifle at 18. A bill to change this will likely sit in the Senate after passing the House.

Sounds like January 6th. Which according to the idiots who support racism wasn’t a coup or insurrection. I guess this wasn’t a murder either.

Children don’t vote. The average age of the Buffalo victims minus the youngest victim is 65. 65 year old Black people vote, primarily Democratic, in record numbers. So after 22 mass shootings killing 246 people this year alone; babies shot at Parkland; Columbine; and parishioners killed during bible study in Charleston, we finally get some action. Our lives don’t seen to matter when we are living, Our lives aren’t worth protecting only our potential votes. Black bodies and young bodies are treated as invaluable until our bodies littering the ground and floor affect their bottom line. It feel like a political move not a humanitarian one. Yet we continue to fight.

“Buffalo soldier
Tell me when will they call you, you a man?”

The trauma of racism is real. Like all trauma, it needs to be medicated and healed, perhaps not with pills but definitely with therapy. Like my bestie says, Everybody needs therapy. So employers need to provide trauma counselors for employees who deal with this constant trauma. Organizations that address Black issues need to host group therapy sessions to deal with racial trauma. And these racial attacks need to be identified as such.

Our racial trauma needs to be prioritized. We need to be honored for fighting for freedom constantly in a country that doesn’t seem to value us. We need to be valued. Our trauma needs to be recognized. Since the Civil War, we have been fighting against racism by serving in the Union army against the Confederacy. Over 150 years later our hair is still curly and our bodies are still used as shields but our humanity denied. Those ten Black people who were shopping in that grocery store were Buffalo soldiers.

“There was a Buffalo Soldier
In the heart of America
Stolen from Africa, brought to America
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival”-Bob Marley

When will surviving annihilation become living peacefully…

Shirley was on that BS

“Hello, may I speak to Barbara
Barbara, this is Shirley
You might not know who I am
But the reason I am calling you is because…”

This is a reflection post, as I believe it is important to look back and figure out lessons learned after a long term relationship has ended. We already know the dude is dirty… we have established that in many an article, blog, Tik Tok, etc. But what about when Shirley calls you with that bone, and wants to have this woman to woman conversation about some fool she claims is hers… well the main issue is often that conversation is missing one of the women. Cuz only a fool will call another woman that the man she is bussin it open for is committed to. Only person she should be talking to is him.

But when you ring my phone with that mess, you have invoked my dislike of him and of you. And ya’ll both about to get laid out.

I had a wild ass fool ass broad calling me about a man I believed was only committed to me, and while it was devastating at the time, who knows how long I would have sat in deception were it not for that call. For that, the realization that he had exposed me to her, I am grateful… so I could peace out. But the chaotic hood trash shit that followed, now that was some Shirley playing the victim mess I could have done without. She called me from several numbers so every time I blocked her she called me from her mama’s phone, her kids’ phones, the one payphone left in the city, any phone she could find. She left a series of breadcrumbs for me to hear to finally lay out this betrayal like puzzle pieces waiting for the last few pieces to fit into place. I mean she called me from here, she called me from there, if she was anywhere, she called me from there. This bitch Dr Seussed me into confusion.

But when she started giving me back personal information about the inner workings of my home, I got all The Night the Lights went out in Texas, and I started smelling blood. I felt like Lafayette.

Ladies, don’t do this. If you are engaging with a man and you know he has promised commitment to someone else, don’t play victim. You knew what was up, you participated with full knowledge. Don’t attempt to ruin the heart of another woman just because you willingly chose to be other, and she believed herself to be only… and he was only concerned with her remaining to believe that with no concern for your feelings. You chose that. But calling someone that did not and dragging your bone to them is not cool. It might get you busted in the head or it might get you put on blast. So when you doing this woman to woman call, keep all that in mind. Luckily for the broad who did this to me, I have way more to lose, he clearly wasn’t shit to have, and I chose peace instead of violence… mainly because of point number one. But several of my girlfriends offered to handle you as long as I had bail.

So keep your conversation with him, and don’t harass and deliver chaos to someone else to help you feel justified in your heaux-ism. I don’t care what he told you, you knew the deal and you decided to be girlfriend #2. Stand up in the shit you chose. Find some self-esteem and a therapist. But leave other folks out of it Shirley…

Think Peace

I wake in the morning, another appointment. I hope the psychologist listenin’ – Kendrick Lamar, United in Grief, Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers

I love Kendrick, he was a part of my weekend. This is not a Kendrick think piece, but it is a think peace. It is an amalgamation of thoughts I have had this past week, framed by my guy dropping his newest album, until this very moment, that have a theme, of sorts. Hopefully you will catch it or it will resonate. Maybe it won’t but that’s okay. I don’t write for approval. It’s creative therapy.

I choose me, I’m sorry. –Kendrick,

*********

The world in a panic.” -Kendrick

Yesterday, a White teenage supremacist walked into a grocery store in a Black part of Buffalo, plagued by segregation and affected by the common highway cutting through the neighborhoods of Black people, virtually disturbing their environments and peace, and killed tern people with a rifle with nigger emblazoned on it. A nigger killer, if you will. A teenager whose manifesto was a three year plan, to save the white race and white children… basically by murdering my people.

In this country built upon the backs of Africans who begat African Americans, there is this agenda that now claims white America faces extinction snd the way to right that is to again oppress and dishonor the humanity of Black people. This child who likely wasn’t taught anything about our addition to the value of this country was able to determine that we are the enemy of his future. The murder of those people and the end of this child’s freedom are the faults of ultra conservative right wingers who supported that political lie to gain political favor.

Today a white man walked into the Black church where the Governor and Attorney General were worshipping with a hurting community, with a gun. We can’t worship God in peace. United in Grief.

Yo, I’m livin’ in this time behind enemy lines so. I got mine, I hope you got yo’self a gun. -Nas

I bought a .223, nobody peace treat. -Kendrick

The value of hip hop has become very dependent upon being a bop with quoteables that will make good Tik Tok content. If I hear “I don’t even gotta walk in with my tool out,” one more time… like sir, quiet down. It’s less about the art and lyrics and more like a recipe for pill and pussy popping. Every Future album sounds the same is considered a five mic classics. Yet an album whose admittedly different production highlights the deep and complicated lyrics, like a jazz band highlights the leader’s instrument, is criticized. The way Miles Davis was criticized for his electronic sound during the velvety jazz era, at this time of catchy twerkable rap tunes, something this different isn’t going to be an instant success.

MMBS is five years after DAMN. Well in five years the artist has become a father; live through a 2-year isolating and socially transformative pandemic; watch countless videos of Black people dying, including a man heartbreakingly calling out to his mother as he took his last breaths; a unapologetic racist President backed by the conservative Congress he bullied like schoolyard boys; and a virus wipe out almost a million people in America. The album integrates that trauma into it’s lyrics and production. Most songs feature multiple beat changes. I haven’t even fully immersed myself in it, but emerged seen, understood, connected, and more at peace than when I entered. It’s a musical therapy session. Peace in chaos.

You really need some therapy…
Bottled up no chaser
Need no chaser-
Kendrick

Sometimes therapy is not sitting on a sofa stretched out in an office. Yesterday I spent time gardening and with my great girlfriends, and it was surely therapeutic. I’m a pretty awesome friend…I give pretty good advice, I’m supportive, I am fun, and I try to make time despite being overwhelmed with priorities. My gardening skills, however, are lacking. Those peonies and lavender might not make it to Friday, but I wanted to try something new because I love peonies and lavender. Time will tell if the gardening pans out, but the conversation I had with a few of my day ones this weekend … cash money!

We talked about our experiences and issues with men and shared truisms we had collected to help us become better mates to attract better partners. We all discussed wanting and needing a mature mate, as grown as his numerical age dictates, and being at peace with leaving situations when they no longer serve us instead of staying afraid of repeating past failures. It’s imperative that when we see red flags to accept them and move on, and understand that choosing ourselves is never a failure. Dating with purpose, but being careful to vet all potential mates and date in the here and now, not just fall into relationships with people we know due to familiarity.

Can I open up? Is it safe or not?
I’m afraid a little, you relate or not?
-Kendrick

The took accountability about likely not always being the best partner, and needing to do a self evaluation on what kind of partners we are versus the kind we know is necessary, and making the moves to get there. Those of us who had been married and/or recently separated from a commitment acknowledged needing time to heal from past hurt. It was a discussion centered on being our best selves. It was centered on accountability and peace. It was centered on healing.

I’m sacrificin’ myself to start the healin’ and…
Shit on my mind and it’s heavy
.-Kendrick

I sometimes struggle with letting things go. I have a vengeful nature that I’m not proud about, but I’m very clear about. My revenge stories are legendary… just saying. But this weekend I just decided to stop cold turkey. Energy out equals energy in, and I noticed that some of the people I know with the most toxic energy constantly emit that type of energy… and it ages you, it angers you, and it makes you insecure and unkind. Only energy I’m interested in is bright and sparkly like sequins, rich like vintage Daytona Rolexes, and present like Eckhardt Tolle. After all the greatest energy is peace.

Trying to keep the balance, I’m playing strong. Stop playing with me ‘fore I turn you into a
[ BLOG ] -Kendrick Lamar

“Everybody needs therapy.” -LaToya Henry

BYOC

Bring your own CASH

This whole $500 wedding where the bride & groom had guests pay for food and drink is a whole social media debate. Some are like… oh hell nawww… I won’t be there. Other people think this couple deciding against taking on debt before starting their lives together is brilliant. I saw a variety of opinions.

People spend, on average, $20,000 on their wedding. I will tell you, when I got married, we spent $6,000. Our ceremony happened a year prior for free. I spent $500 on a dress. I made the reception centerpieces, they cost, at most $20. My bestie paid for the cake as our wedding gift. For photos I got single calla lilies for my bridesmaids, who wore the black dress of their choice, at about $50. The DJ was $300. Approximately $5,000 was for a sit down dinner and open bar for my guests. We spent $1,000 on ourselves, and $5,000 on our guests. This was a celebration of us, yet we spent more on other people. I will tell you, if I marry again, my dress will be super duper badass, it will be on someone’s beach where me and the Mr will vacay after, and when we get back we will have a bbq , it will be fun and you will have a great time, but it be about us, not ya’ll. Don’t like it… don’t come.

I would happily attend the wedding of someone who I wanted to support in their matrimonial goals … and pay for my food, and take them a magnificent gift. It is not about me. It is also not about them only doing what they can afford… if they send you an invite and you are aware of the parameters, they have told you what they can afford… not to feed you… but that doesn’t mean they should have their reception at Old Country Buffet. A couple should have the wedding and reception they want. If that includes taking on debt, that’s their choice, but anyone with a brain can tell you its not the smartest idea. If that involves saving their money to start realizing the goals of that marriage, that is okay too. What that does not include is having the event YOU want.

We live in this world where people believe in tit for tat. You feed me and let me drink unlimited liquor for free and I’ll buy you a great gift. If it’s a cash bar, I’m taking that money out of your gift’s value. Then folks claim Miss Manners ideology that having guests pay is against the rules of proper society. Wtf? A wedding is a celebration of other people, not you. They often even let you bring someone… for free! Someone they don’t know. But impropriety… they got brides twerking in rhinestone thongs at weddings these days, all impropriety has been tossed out the window and run over like roadkill. Personally, I think people have gotten used to, even to the point of expecting, to be paid or compensated in some way for everything they do. Folks show up to shit they’d never attend for the free food. Folks show up to byob parties empty handed and drink what everyone has supplied. I have heard couples talk of a wedding as a free date for them… dinner and dancing. THAT is not the point.

Beyond that, this whole idea that if you can’t afford to feed a gang of people you should just go to a restaurant or forego a reception all together is ludicrous. We treat people who are lower class or simply not yet financially well established like dregs… get married at the courthouse and go home and eat a chicken wing dinner in front of the tv together. That’s outlandish. Saving money is not broke people shit. Actually… But since when does being less financially successful mean you are not worthy of a traditional wedding? In my opinion the couple figured out how to have a celebration that would not bankrupt them that looked as close to the wedding they wanted as possible. As a guest, if you are only willing to get dressed up and buy a nice gift, if you can eat and drink on their dime… you really don’t rock with them the long way anyway… so you should stay home either way!

Lastly, if I’m honest, and I look at people’s response to this story…. not that I know everyone’s financial situation, but the folks with coin overwhelmingly thought being financially responsible over following some rules someone made up about what an appropriate wedding looks like was the move. But to the folks who call them broke… well I am not broke and I am also not paying for 200 people to eat ever again… unless it’s hot dogs and hamburgers and maybe a shrimp skewer if I’m feeling frisky.

Buy your own chicken dinner.

Overqualified

Wow… so in the midst of war in the Ukraine, horrible tornados ravaging parts of the US, and inflation making everything from gas to food extraordinarily expensive, we are witnessing history being made… the nomination of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. It is historic. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is among the most highly qualified judges to ever be nominated to the highest court. Her qualifications are stellar. Yet the behavior of the primarily White male Senators on the right has been appalling, but unfortunately not shocking. Surprise Surprise!

They have gathered together in Donald Trump’s name to make this very important job interview, if you will, into a performance of sound bites for the 20 Republican Senate seats up for reelection in 2022. They clearly plan to make critical race theory, transgenderism, child pornography, abortion, and the topics of police and gun law reform the trends in these elections. So they have decided to play a game of dodgeball with the Judge, to try to both expose her as unqualified and to advance their policies. But this is not an underdog story and Judge Jackson is far from your average joe… she has clerked at every judicial level up to the Supreme Court, served as a Court of Appeals and District Court Judge, worked in private practice, and as a federal public defender, written for the Harvard Law Review, and worked on the sentencing commission. She is the hi-hat and these sad little men are the spoons… in that confirmation hearing room, their arms are indeed too short to box with this goddess.

She is OVERqualified… beyond, above, more than, plus, double it and add tax. Sis is a whole mood…

…she knows what these little men are doing. She can smell their cologne with base notes of fear and top notes of privilege, race-isms, and sex-isms. Yet she remains poised and patient. She says, “thank you Senator” at every turn, but never fails to school them on the limits, powers, scope, policy, and procedures of the judiciary, something she knows much better than they do. But she even manages to pull their Congressional card, letting them know what their duties entail and how they are, in fact, responsible for much of what they are attacking her for. She is a quintessential educated Black woman, more qualified, dignified, and certified than these men she will soon outrank, outearn, and at EVERY turn outdo. They only like their little women “in the kitchen or the bedroom Florida”, but Judge Jackson commands rooms… confirmations to courts. Recognize. This is not Little Women, this is Big Bosses.

She is us and we are her. I know a myriad of amazingly successful Black women engineers, doctors, PR professionals, superintendents, lawyers, teachers, professors, nurses, directors, VPs, and judges who know all too well the unbearably uncomfortable stench of racism staring back at them through beady pupils void of all humanity, with thin persed lips that let nigger slip between them freely in White spaces, and let microaggressions pour onto the floor covering our feet so they are hard to lift. We also know, because we are stars, just like Cory Booker said of Judge Jackson, that we are singlehandedly the harbingers of hope that America will ever be as great as all proclaim. For if we are still the most disrespected, underpaid, and ignored people in America… when we are among the most educated and most entreprenuerial … things White men have been heralded for for centuries, then America has not fulfilled its promise. It indeed has not, but we won’t stop busting ceilings and busting heads until it does. Gang gang.

Being overqualified in a sea of mediocrity is not new for Black women. While we were keeping weak ass, fainting ass Missy from passing out in her corset by sneaking her tea cookies, we wear waist trainers under our suits to work like fucking what waist bosses! When we nursed lily White babies and kept them free from consumption, smallpox, and whatever was killing off White folks, our bodies kept enough magical milk to feed the babies we grew in our own bodies, often sister or brother to the baby who drank first. When we walked the halls of the first integrated schools while being harassed and assaulted, we fixed our starched shirts and perfectly pleated skirts, before tapping our curls into place to go learn and excel in spaces we weren’t wanted but knew we needed to show our faces in, so our own children would walk those halls like they owned them. And when Althea Gibson, Patricia Harris, Mae Jemison,Constance Baker Motley, Shirley Chisholm, Cathay Williams, Oprah Winfrey, Phillis Wheatley, and, Kamala Harris all became the first Black woman to reach some magnificent point of excellence, once only allowed to wealthy and powerful White men, through dedication and hard work instead of the typical privileged and nepotistic means… a way was made for this moment. This is what we do… cause lovely chaos.

So how fitting, as Black women and our allies all gather together in Ketanji’s Onyika’s name, which mean’s “lovely one”. We recognize the magnitude of Judge Jackson’s nomination and coming confirmation to the highest court in our nation, where women have gained rights and liberties once denied to us. We also join in her celebration… as this moment, like all of our biggest moments, are shared with our sisters. She is the dream and hope of our ancestors, who with us, have her back. And we feel the same way sweet Laila…who is seen below looking at her mom with the sweetest admiration, joy, and pride… your mother is our hero too! Overqualified personified!

Black women… never be afraid to be your best and bravest self… our daughters are watching!

Own your influence

I watched the Joe Budden interview with Nicki Minaj… and besides his split seam skinny jeans and her having her purse on her chair on set … I was super impressed with Nicki and Joe. Joe is an interesting character, I’ll stop there. Nicki… I haven’t rocked with her since the “Monster” era…

“Okay, first things first I’ll eat your brains
Then I’ma start rockin’ gold teeth and fangs
‘Cause that’s what a motherfuckin’ monster do”

But she schooled a generation in this interview…

OWN your INFLUENCE

She talked about starting the trend in “pink hair, thick ass” for female rappers and middle part dark hair that has come to be known in this time as “Kardashian” hair. Not that she invented those trends, but that she was the muse behind their resurrection in style. Her points were solid & salient!

But it did bother me a bit, she failed to give Kimberly Jones her due… like all of it… I mean …

But more importantly, it got me to thinking about a really solid statement she made… that when we, especially Black women fail to acknowledge and broadcast our influence we make it easy for people to attribute our style and beauty to White influence that is really just a mimic of us. It happens all the time. “Boxer braids”, the idea that wearing one side of your overalls undone didn’t come from Black folks in the 80s, the sneaker trend, stiletto nails, logo prints on clothes-helloooooo Dapper Dan… I could go on.

But unfortunately, very often when we do speak up and voice our influence even other Black people see us as cocky, narcissistic, and conceited. The number of times Soulja Boy has SHOWED us that he invented many of the popular trends in hip hop, yet he’s taken as a joke until he proves it… wild. For women it’s that much worse. Lil Kim is singlehandedly responsible for making very high end designer houses popular in hip hop and then in pop culture. But she never gets her props. I mean… again…

So it’s time we start… and not just in fashion… because most of us don’t reign there… but… in our everyday lives to own and not license out our influence for pennies. We can only get what we are due if we don’t allow our value to be stepped on so much it’s rendered invaluable… gotta sell the product while the buzz is still powerful.

So if you are championing breastfeeding in the Black community unlike anyone else before you; you are the youngest Black female engineer in a city, state, county; you were the first of your kind in a setting that used your knowledge and example to grow and change; you are a certified FIRST, breaking glass, plaster, and drywall ceilings and walls; or maybe your influence and presence forever changed a thing… anything… speak on it. Let anyone trying to take credit for it today know you started it yesterday. Then when they circle back, tryna get some more of that thing you do effortlessly, charge double. What did Fat Joe say… “Yesterday’s price is not today’s price!” You want this excellence, FYPE!

And when the White girl at Nordstroms admires your manicure and says… you have those nails like the Kardashians… let her know… Nope, I got nails like Queen Nenzima!

Then… “put your number twos in the air if you did it on ‘em!” –Did It On ‘Em, Nicki Minaj

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

So we have talked about the feces in the dating pool right… well BABY, it’s dead bodies too. I met one at a bar last night.

So a little background… I have had a boyfriend or husband consistently since high school. When my last relationship ended, I got very clear on what I could no longer tolerate, no matter how much love was bring professed. But I also didn’t want to get comfortable in my FTN energy… so I said, hey, let’s meet folks. Ya’ll call it dating… but again we know how much muck that is, so I considered it just what it was, dinner, coffee, a FT chat session. Not dating, because I’m not giving you multiple times to show me you are trash. You get one time. If it’s an off day, well prepare better, take a rain check, aim to be great daily, but I’m only giving limited time because all I have is limited time. I’m trying to get a whole PhD, you think I have time for your games. Nope.

“Only this, and nothing more”

So, I meet a guy. Tall, nice-looking, entrepreneur, good conversation, seems decent. We Facetime chat, he’s got a cute dog, I’m like ok seems at least mildly promising. Good Vibes. So, he asks me out, I say ok. Dinner planned for this evening. But yesterday he calls, asks have I eaten, I say no, and he says well I’m starving and I’d love your company. Spontaneous is cool. So we meet at a bar. That’s where the good part of the story ends.

“This is it and nothing more”

I get there on time, he calls says he’s running a little late but near and on his way. Strike One. Be on time to some shit you asked me to.

He walks in, we greet each other, he sits down and says I smell good and “clean”…

Strike Two… I instantly smelled Black Love perfume oil, fake wax print ink, and incense… there was none, but I smelled it.

So, I have a drink and shrimp tacos, because you are late. It’s a work night. So he orders food, tells the waitress he’s hungry. There are two waitresses, they both ask him if he wants anything to drink. He says no. He orders a burger. Who eats a burger with nothing to drink. So while waiting for his food, he sees me look up at the tv at a basketball game. He says, oh yeah you like sports. I said yes, I do. He says… sports are barbaric. Just let that marinate. Sports are barbaric. It was basketball ya’ll… not cage fighting or lion taming or Russell Crow screaming “are you not entertained…” It was college basketball yo. Sigh. Strike Three.

I knew then this would be our only time seeing each other… because something in the milk ain’t clean… and clearly it’s not me because recall… I smell clean.

Ok so his burger comes. He examines it and then says to the waitress, I smell pork. I look at her, she is looking at me like WITEF. She says, yes it has bacon jam on it. He pushes it away and says, give it to someone else, I’ll pay for it, but I don’t eat pork. He continues, I don’t eat anything unclean or hoofed, (looks at my shrimp taco) or shellfish. The waitress says well you are hungry so do you want the burger remade with no bacon jam. He says, I’m not hungry. Uhhhhhh that was the whole premise upon which you asked me here. He looks at me and says…

We can just go somewhere better tomorrow. TOMORROW?!?!? Nope. All the nopes in Nopelandia!

So, I just drank my drink, ate my tacos, and talked to the waitress. It was her second day. I planned to give her a nice tip. We chopped it up about sneaker releases. Cuz this nigga is nuts.

“Perched, and sat, and nothing more.”

So, after much prodding by the waitress to fix his order, get him a drink, whatever, HE got annoyed. He asks for the bill. He looks at it. He takes out a $20 bill and says, are you ready? (I laughed… what is the $20 for? A tip? You trying half dine and dash…) I said no, but have a good night. Oh you are staying, he says. Yep! He then slides the bill and $20 to me. He starts putting on his coat… I give the $20 to the waitress and pay the bill. The bill for the outing he asked me to leave my house to come to. She takes his food off the bill. I could have eaten leftover meatloaf and watched Snowfall… this shit was a waste. I’m leaving out alot… but isn’t this enough?!?!?!

Two guys at the end of the bar move down towards me… one says, yeah I knew when light skin came in he was uncomfortable and odd. The other says, we work here, so we see this all the time. These guys are socially awkward, so alone or on the phone it’s all good, but in person, they are weird. He probably plays video games all day. So I share the barbaric and clean/unclean dialogue. They were both like oooooooohhhhhhhhhhh…. He just extra lightskinned, he is trying hotep his way to blackness instead of just being. LPS. We talked a few minutes more… and I wished them all a good night.

No hoteps for the kid. I an anti-hotep. And I like my dudes a lil dirty… some meat from a hoofed animal and a lil bourbon sounds like a sexy time to me. Even if you are vegan, vegetarian, you don’t talk about unclean animals. Are those shoes leather my guy? FOH! Basically, dude had the appeal of roadkill. And you cheap? My girls be trying to get the bill before I do, let alone the men I know. I barely know what my wallet looks like unless I’m alone. I haven’t paid for a date I was invited to, EVER. I never will again. Yeah naw. Dating is dumb. God will provide. I’m gonna just chill, do this keto, get this PhD, and stay outta sucka shit.

To “quoth the raven.., “Nevermore!”

All quotes taken from The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe