… and I thought, well Scorpio is right and that last row seems solid, but I wasn’t so sure about the Followers and Leaders. It made me wonder, what criteria they used to make this determination. Hmmmm.
Leaders and Followers.
Everyone wants to be a Leader. Everyone is supposed to aspire to be a Leader. If someone says they do not desire to be in charge, in control of some sort, they get a mean sideeye. So you just wanna be a follower? You just wanna be a worker bee and not the Queen bee? You don’t aspire to the top?!?
Well I have another perspective…
Leadership is about service. It is about assisting another person, other people, towards their best through motivation and support. It is about being a living example of the growth and development one needs to excel. When people in leadership fail in that, and instead seek validation of themselves through title, use their power to harm, or are simply not there to serve but only to reap, they are leaders in name only.
“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.”-
“But I’m here to break away the chains, take away the pains Remake the brains, rebuild my name I guess nobody told you a little knowledge is dangerous It can’t be mixed, diluted, it can’t be changed or switched Here’s a lesson if you’re guessing and borrowing Hurry, hurry step right up and keep following the leader” Rakim, Follow the Leader
I’ve never aspired to be a “leader” in the traditional authoritative sense. I like to support and motivate as a person-oriented skill but not necessarily in a self-promoting role. I’d prefer to be able to share information as a constant knowledge seeker. My personal life has been inundated with roles of authority, in many iterations, I’m good. But there is great pleasure in sharing knowledge, and very often when that is a part of repertoire you become a de facto leader. It’s a phenomenal responsibility that everyone is not made for… but everyone has to follow someone.
A follower can also be a leader, but all of us are being led in some way. There are a set of checks and balances in virtually every situation where there are hierarchies. Your supervisor has a manager, who has a manager of some sort, who answers to somebody. Essentially a follower is a learner. Someone who is positioned to gain valuable information about a certain thing from a certain person or collective. Followers move the needle. Followers tend to find the cures, create the products, make the products better, perfect the recipe, mix the song, design the costumes, do the work that the leaders represent. Followers are learners, the intellectuals, and some of them only want to focus there. They leave leading to the people who want some semblance of authority, and happily occupy the seat of the worker bee.
Being a follower has been socially constructed to mean being inferior, but those two words don’t equate. There is nothing inferior about the guy who designs the shoe so you can run faster or the lady who discovers the chemical reaction that creates the cure. That person needs the service of support and appreciation from their leader so they can continue to be great.
“As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence … When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’” – Lao Tzu
Twitter is a wild wild place. I like it, mostly. But every now and then I see some tomfoolery being spread by my people that just needs to STOP, and this recent incident with Jonathan Majors (not discussing him in particular but a facet of his situation) highlighted one of the big ones, in my opinion. This idea that abuse, discrimination, violence, of oppression against another group of people, non-Black to be specific, can be ignored by Black folks who even share in the identity of the victim or alleged victim. This idea that if a man is accused if doing something against a non-Black woman, his associating with that woman and her non-Black identity are reasons to ignore or remain silent.
STOP THAT shit right now.
These are Black women excusing themselves from a discussion on alleged abuse, not because he might be innocent and nothing has been proven, but because the woman who made the accusation was White. It’s an outlandish position to take, bit more essentially when you consider the underlying assumptions. First, the idea that him being with or near a White woman means he doesn’t like Black women. I mean the brotha was recently seen in an interview praising a Black woman and then long admiring her curves.
He doesn’t dislike Black women from the looks of it. He also recently expressed his love for Angela Bassett on a national stage, and has done nothing publicly that would further this claim. Stop that narrative.
More importantly, however, is this idea that if it’s not about us, it’s not our fight. Well domestic abuse is primarily towards women. Women die from domestic violence, are afraid to leave or report it, and is a form of violence used to control women. It is a woman’s issue, a man’s issue, a White issue, a Black issue, an Asian issue, everyone’s issue. This idea that the man is above support even if he is innocent and the woman, if she isn’t Black, deserves none if she is truly a victim is tooted in this idea that Black women won’t tell… for a variety of reasons that are all negative, harmful, and unhealthy.
It’s reminiscent of the Kobe Bryant rape allegations… if she was Black she’d have stayed quiet, maybe sued, but not attempted to ruin his reputation as a Black man. This idea that a Black woman’s safety and life is less important than a Black man’s reputation is offensive and deeply problematic. Black women are not whipping posts. We deserve justice if we are harmed. Any narrative that dismisses that is bullshit.
Additionally, Black men who are wrongly accused, regardless if who they are wrongly accused by, are due our support. Their choice to date or befriend a White woman doesn’t change that. He isn’t only valuable if he does what you think is proper or acceptable. He isn’t only valuable if he picks you.
Also just an aside, “believe women” does not equate with ignoring justice and probative evidence. It doesn’t mean that a man accused of violence against a woman is guilty until proven innocent. What it SHOULD mean is that the historical phenomenon of questioning women in ways that seek to negate or confuse or dismiss her claims, assuming women are lying, looking at a woman’s past, clothing choices, or personality to determine if she is warranted a fair chance at justice should never be employed in the decision to believe her accusations. It SHOULD mean that he is innocent until proven guilty and her claims are taken seriously. But it’s not a conviction. A man is not guilty dimply because a woman makes an accusation.
In 1992, the pom pom squad at my high school… a group of girls who would jungle walk and wop, while the cheerleaders did backflips and splits, to the newest and most banging hip hop songs on the radio in short skirts and with lots of attitude during games…. performed a routine to the song “Whoomp (There it is)” by Tag Team. It was a Miami bass song that at the time was a huge urban song, played on tbd radio every five minutes. But about a year or two later it appeared in the Addams Family movie and then the Mighty Ducks film, and then the White soccer moms got ahold of it. Soon, it went from Bobbie Jean’s hips hitting the 2 and the 4 to Nancy clapping on the 1 and the 3.
Ijeoma Oluo in her book, So You Want to Talk About Race defines cultural appropriation as “the adoption or exploitation of another culture by a more dominant culture”. More specifically this happens when dominant culture ends up benefitting more from the creation of art by other cultures that are not similarly compensated. Ultimately Tag Team benefitted from their song going mainstream… but very often even the appropriation of an idea, slang, or phrase results in some harm being done to the creating culture.
Niggas acting woke, but the broke-J.Cole, 1985
Now stay woke/Niggas Creepin/They gon find you/ Gon catch you sleepin-Childish Gambino, Redbone
What is wokeness? The first time, on record, “stay woke” was uttered was in the spoken afterword in the 1938 song “Scottsboro Boys,” a protest song by Blues musician Lead Belly. Years later in 1962, William Melvin Kelly was credited with coining woke in his 1962 New York Times essay “If You’re Woke You Dig It”. So the story goes, the word was kind of passed down through griots to the writer and speaker on Master Teacher by Erykah Badu, Georgia Anne Muldrow. Muldrow moved from Cali to Harlem where she lived in the same area as artists Bilal, Robert Glasper, Badu, Questlove, Common, and Q-Tip. Muldrow, known to walk around with a tee that had “Stay Woke” written above the heart, recorded with Badu through her affiliation with these musicians and MCs.
“What if it were no niggas Only master teachers? I stay woke” -Erykah Badu, Master Teacher
And so it began. The term Stay Woke gained steam after the police killing of Michael Brown and the start of Black Lives Matter. At its inception it was meant as a sort of a two word guide to survival as a Black person in the streets, being aware of what was happening around you at all times and prepared to act if necessary. As opposed to being unaware. It was first co-opted by hoteps and Black nationalists who used it as a sort of way to put down other Black people as not being aware enough of Black politics and history. But true to form, it has now been appropriated by right wingers to paint Black people who fight for social justice, diversity, equity, the inclusion of a more complete and accurate account of Black history in schools, the acknowledgement of racist ideology and systems in America and their impact in communities of color, and Blackness as politically correct leftist zealots who seek to marginalize Whiteness. How silly.
“I’m Black and I’m Proud” to “I’m rooting for everybody Black” was never a denigration of Whiteness, it was a celebration of Blackness that we had been told, in this country, since 1619, was unacceptable and not worthy of pride. These proclamations of Black excellence were what we needed to know it was ok to embrace our hair, our skin, our creativity, our ancestry, our beauty, and our struggles… our many struggles. However, white fragility dictates that as soon as we become too positively anything, it needs to be tamped down, heeled, and extinguished. So while we were expressing the need for us to keep our eyes open for ourselves and each other… to stop and help, videotape, to acknowledge one another’s presence in a hostile situation, to lend support, to be our brother’s keeper… in the face of police brutality, white supremacists were trying to fight against social justice, diversity, equity, the inclusion of a more complete and accurate account of Black history in schools, the acknowledgement of racist ideology and systems in America and their impact in communities of color, and Blackness.
It is Ron DeSantis trying to pass anti-woke laws… sir?!?! Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert tweeting that singing “Lift Every Voice” at NFL games where almost 70% of players are Black is wokeness that needs to stop or equating divisiveness with being woke.
Critical race theory, which none of these idiots even know the definition of, is being linked to making White children feel bad … about being White. This shit is “whoomp there it is”, “my bad”, and “bye Felicia” times twelve thousand. It’s Kim Kardashian trying her hardest to look like Beyoncé on instagram, but in the US Capitol. They all need to stop because they look and sound silly AF! I honestly feel like this is payback for the “Karen” phenomenon.
At their white supremacist meeting, the women threatened to withhold the box from their husbands unless they did something about them being called “Karen” to their faces. Gotta be. That’s all that makes sense. We know that white women’s tears are often invoked to massage White men’s desire to save White women. I mean I am trivializing a bit, but I just want to highlight how fucking ridiculous it really is. White right wing politicians using Black social justice terminology and the Black Republicans who support them (still nigga or whatever Jay-Z said) are just turning our ideas against us to harm us… racism. And ….
They are talking more about banning books about Black history than little babies being shot. “We’re not gonna fix it”, Republican Representative Tim Burchett told reporters regarding the Nashville school shooting. No ban on assault weapons but the rest of his party has surely taken on banning wokeness. “I think they mean Black…” Erykah Badu recently told Ari Melber. Erykah, it certainly doesn’t mean awareness. No gun laws , no police reform, no prison reform, no racial policy reform… but they sure are anti-Black, err uh I mean anti-woke.
“Watch the snakes cuz they watching you” -J. Cole Land of the Snakes
So we all have our strengths. Mine is assessing character. I can pretty much tell you early on whether someone is full of kindness or full of shit. It’s a gift. Now my first reaction to most folks is a sideeye, I just take a little while to get comfortable with folks… but rarely am I wrong if their energy is toxic, parasitic, demonic. And even if I judge it wrong at first, it does take me long to figure out. If I tell you someone is bad business… you should listen to me.
Now I have a story, of course. So I was once becoming friends with someone who I thought was genuine, because they presented as a friend. But this person was not interested in building an intentional friendship, just wanted…viola!… a friendship. Pause in real life! People with hidden agendas and flawed character, can tell when you have the gift of insight. And SO, friends we never became. This person slowly exposed herself to be selfish, a liar, a fraud, blah blah blah. But she was literally fooling those around me. I was once asked why I couldn’t look past this person’s act of pure selfishness and narcissism at an extremely fragile time in someone’s …who I’d help bury the bodies for… life, by that someone. Sometimes even good folks clocks get stuck on demon time. So I just sat back in the cut. Demons always get exposed.
Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.
It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth…
Revelations 13:11-12, 13-14
I can be hard on folks, so I try very hard to do inventory on why I dislike or distrust people. Yet because I am a tiny bit possessive over my friends, I try to impress upon them when I see a snake coming, but I won’t do it long, it’s futile. Eventually I’ll just avoid said person like they are bubonic, and leave you to figure out their plague. But it’s difficult to see folks being used and deceived. It is for me. I feel like part of the responsibility that comes with being a friend is alerting you if on our walk, there are snakes in the grass. But often, snakes don’t dress like snakes. They come to the party in their teacup yorkie costume.
After the snake fools you by its image, it performs for you.
It makes grand gestures, turns the trick pages from looseleaf to Zig Zag. It often skips past the fireworks that fizzle out or that don’t reach the treetops, to get to the grand finale. It likes the oohs and aahs. We are often wooed by results because we are kept blind to the process… and that is what demons do very well. They have the power of transformation… so one minute a brunette, the next a blond…and of transmutation… lamb to dragon. And just when you think that teacup yorkie is about to jump in your lap for cuddles, it’s jaws open wide, its tiny leg ascend into its body, the fur becomes scales, it’s tail extends for miles, and it sinks its teeth into you. Dragons are just big ass snakes.
Listen folks, don’t die on the vine trying to uplift and support wolves in sheep’s clothing, just because they baa and knit you a sweater from their shorn wool. I thank God I have dealt with few humans who want to be idolized, but I can feel that energy. But the ones that do will shape shift into any form you can imagine to get its bottom line met. It’s up to you to pay attention. Anything someone will do to others, they will do to you. Judgmental people judge. Thieves steal. Liars lie. If they’ll do it to me, you are not exempt. Cuz fucking with me is a study in getting handled, and folks still do it… so you are not safe.
“This calls for wisdom.”
WEB DuBois in his essay “The Talented Tenth” opines that the exceptional and educated men among Black people will be the leaders to deliver the race from destruction by the dominant. It’s a concept originally uttered by Henry Morehouse (yep that Morehouse), who considered the talented tenth Black man in a group of nine ordinary men, needed exceptional education. Many of us just consider ourselves in that tenth, the knowing.
Yet, I believe that knowing the truth, not just the taught and written, is only among the five percent. Ten percent of the people of the world are in the know, and they opt to keep 85 percent of the world in ignorance, while the remaining 5 % are knowing and want to enlighten others (a tenent of The Nations of Gods and Earths). You can teach folks a lie, but you can only enlighten folks via truth. The five percenters operate in clarity by seeking knowledge, acting according to it (wisdom), and then revealing the truth to self (understanding, clarity). We are for the culture, because our culture is built on the communal traditions, when we reveal that truth to others. Operate in wisdom my woes…cuz the snakes is watchin’!
“One thing about the men that’s controlling the pen that write history, they always seem to white-out they sins”-J.Cole, Brackets
So have you seen that Tik Tok where the guy lists the top three worst zodiac signs according to the FBI? If not, its Sagittarius, Scorpios, and Cancers. Now I know a lot of all three, and I happen to be one of the three. But first, let’s talk about the other two.
Sagittarius… they some muthafuckas, in a good way. My play cousin (we’ll call her Joy) growing up was Sagittarius, and she always intrigued me. Joy was always super popular by nature, all the kids came to her house to see when she was coming outside. At twelve she had a pair of leather pants, always fly. She always cool, barely ever took it above a good 6 on the volume, and she sat back in the cut, observed. I rarely heard her say anything mean about anyone, no need. Her light shined bright until it turned to flames… and she went from commanding the room to burning it down. At twelve. And according to the FBI, Sags go for the grand finale… big numbers and big targets and big money… Bundy, Stalin, and Pablo Escobar. Last one standing or the one to fall.
Cancers… now my boonapolis (Greek for bestie), we’ll call her Aisha, is a Cancer. So lemme explain this to you. The most dangerous people go from 0 to 60 real fast, well think of Cancers as the Deloreans of this shit, 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds…. And fuck a flux capacitor, that’s unnecessary. If you are ever out and you hear someone go from laughing to “I will drag you down these stairs” or just hear randomly “Do I need to fight”… that’s a Cancer, or Aisha, and they already ready. You should run or get stole on. The damage is done. Now the Tik Tok vid said they commit crimes of jealousy… I think it’s less about jealousy and more about passion. They passionately want to hurt you. I think what they are most jealous of is when another person gets to their target before they do. No satisfaction in watching another mofo drag you down the stairs… Cancers want all the smoke and all the fun. According to the FBI, they typically leave a mark to sign their crimes…. i’ll leave you with this, Aisha’s tagline…
“I will leave this size 10 footprint on your face!” (trailing with the faint hum of “Gangsta, Gangsta”)
So yep, I’m a Scorpio. Many of my friends are too. According to the FBI we are the serial killers. I’m not surprised. At all. So let me tell you a little story:
As a kid I either liked you or you almost didn’t exist. I can recall the names of most of the people I didn’t interact with regularly. I have no recollection. As a kid I didn’t know why that was, I just knew THAT it was. As I got older, I did become more compassionate, but in turn more intolerant. During one of my classes this girl was like well God made all of us. I said that only holds true for people who believe… the rest of these people just figured out how to screw and they mess around and make humans. Those humans, I think, are the ones that are just here. They have no purpose, no connection to the divine, so they wreak havoc. My professor interjected, that is the leading reason serial killers give for the people they killed… that they were basically getting rid of the evil on the planet. She asked if I agreed. I mean, you hurt yourself…
They named Taurus as honorable mention, and theirs are often crimes of fraud. I won’t name any names but I know a Taurus, we’ll call him William, who was taking apart and reconfiguring computer motherboards at 8 and is a coding genius, but says he doesn’t want to make apps because they all are just ways to collect information about us that we give strangers free reign to. Little hacker in training. Pisces were also mentioned as someone to look out for because in all their emotionality might rise a wolf in sheep’s clothing… this is most famously seen in Piscean John Wayne Gacy who killed folks in a clown outfit. They watch a lot of crime tv, but some stuff is just “too raw!” A Fish called Lynne.
What I know to be true is that most of any particular zodiac sign is not a criminal, but these water, fire, and earth signs have some gifts hidden in their crazy. What I also know to be true is that the FBI never ranked people by zodiac (An FBI spokesperson confirmed in an email to USA TODAY that the agency “has not conducted a study of the most dangerous zodiac signs”), but that doesn’t mean these “rankings” don’t bear some truth. We know air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) tend to be more fantastical… which the world needs too, but they are less err uhh, quick to drown, ignite, or shake. But water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) fear the shallow not the deep. Fire signs (Sagittarius, Aries, Leo) command the center of the room, but blow too hard and they’ll burn it down. And earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) focus on the dirt we are made of, the dirt we return to, and the dirt we do. These are gifts from the universe we must use to attract and manifest what we want and desire.
Let me give an example: I hadn’t noticed that an ex of mine had to leave out the room whenever I lit and smudged sage or palo santo. Yet this clown smoked cigarettes when I met him, those rank ass Newports (a habit he quit immediately cuz I don’t date people who smoke cigarettes… that’s nasty), and smoked weed like it was an Olympic sport. I wasn’t tapping into my deep as a Scorpio, I was dipping my foot into the shallow, just ignoring signs. God was trying to tell my water sign that he was the evil I should drown.
A fire sign in that situation should observe the room… you allergic to sage, oh you are Satan…, command it, and fill the room. Kill ALL the evil.
An earth sign in that situation should return that evil to the dirt it came from… and open the window and give that shit back to the streets. Let it catch the attention of passers by.
True story… God uses all things in His universe to remind us what our gifts are… even the FBI Most Wanted List. You don’t have to be Escobar, Dahmer, or Madoff, you can just be Aisha, Lynne, Joy, and William out here drowning evil with your passion, setting fire to what doesn’t serve you, and returning what’s for the streets back to the streets. Or you can just be magical and fantastic, because those folks send people to the moon and make the musical soundtrack to our lives. Whatever you do, make sure you vibrate at your highest and seek understanding, because the greatest understanding is love. And then you won’t have to hurt folks, God will get rid of that evil for you!
But I got the roscoe ready should you bring that purposeless foolishness this way…
Don’t hurt yourself.
Random, I think in music a lot. When I was writing this, I heard, “Don’t Want Drama” by 8Ball and MJG” when talking about fire signs… “in any climate I’m shining” one minute and “buss a nigga head” the next.
About those water signs I heard “How Many” by Silkk the Shocker, Master P, MiaX, C-Murder, and Mystikal, “Ain’t gon never have to ask did she get ‘em!” “Where they at, what they tryna do, how many?… we got shit to live for you weak bitch, die skinny.”
As far as Earth signs, I heard Kendrick Lamar “Element”… “I’m willing to die for this shit… Imma make it look sexy.”
I got Lastly I heard “Alien Superstar” by Beyonce when talking about Air signs… “Unicorn is the uniform you put on…”
I felt it slide out of my heart and pool around my ankles like lymph. It left my left ventricle so dehydrated it cracked like a ghost apple, and set off a series of pain episodes that welled up in my chest, gave me indigestion and muscles spasms. I got quiet. And over that next 365 days, I felt it creep back in and then fade. I felt free and bound. I smiled and wept intermittently. Where do broken hearts go? They just sit there and snag on shit, pulling at its surround until it unravels like an old sweater.
But it doesn’t stay that way. It starts to heal.
By day 366, it all flooded back, and nourished my barren parts. Running through my capillaries and veins like water rushing the insides of the Summit Plummet. Suddenly, it registered.
My love is not sometimes. It is all the time.
My love is sweet and savory, bitter and sweet.
It is for the thirsty and the hungry.
My love is confident, but shy and introverted.
It makes your acquaintance, yet doesn’t easily make friends.
It compromises it doesn’t sacrifice, waters not burns.
My love has a heartbeat and a break beat.
My love doesn’t brag or boast but it hustles hard.
It doesn’t lie, cheat, or steal joy. It brings peace and comfort.
It’s solid, thick, and strong. It’s graceful, feminine, and pretty.
My love is not for demons, nor for angels, but for imperfect humans doing their best by it.
It avenges wrong like the lovechild of Osirus and Isis, cuz it rides, but will go into hiding like the Ibeyi, cuz it refuses to die.
It’s the marriage of Honor and Loyalty.
My love is not a punk, it’s gangsta as fuck, and it takes no shorts.
They say enlightenment is the embodiment of understanding. It is the Pythagorean theory of knowledge plus the Fibonnaci sequence of wisdom. It’s the height of human presence, and it is powered, like fuel, by love. So in order to reach enlightenment, we must love and be loved properly. And while most of my family and friends abide; my experiences of romantic love haven’t always left me in a state of well-being. I have, not dismissing my own actions, had great highs but very low lows in relationship with men. While I can acknowledge allowing myself to stay in situations in which I knew I was settling in some way or another, I didn’t start out that way with anyone. I love hard and work at partnership even harder, but I can admit I have not always been involved with men who put in that same effort. And far too many times, they wanted this traditional, man as the head, when they weren’t even prepared to stand the relationship up on its feet.
Loving Black men, if I am honest, can be very difficult. They have, since the beginning of our time here in America, been pulled away from their rightful place with their families in order to toil for White slave masters. That morphed into being free men who were frozen out of the ability to become financially successful, then imprisoned men who had tried to recognize the fallacy of the American Dream, by any means necessary, but got caught in a system of oppression they would never escape. Now, many of them, having had some financial success seek power on White male patriarchal terms that don’t include them, but have at its heart very pathological ways of looking at and conceptualizing the role and worth of women. It’s not a system made for us, but made specifically to marginalize us. So as a unit, Black men and women are just further pushed apart.
We mimic what we see. When we don’t have an example, we mimic what we hear. I’m a child of hip hop, and hip hop taught us that “life ain’t nothing but bitches and money.” So young men without fathers or grandfathers who adored their wives, listened to their Uncle Slim with the conk, who was a really bad part time pimp talk, about his many hoes. He went home and listened to his brother’s Too Short tape talking about some girl sucking on his balls… pause. Little did we know as young ladies that we’d embark upon relationships, marriages, pregnancies, children, mortgages, baby mamas, layoffs, death, and divorce with these men who couldn’t even process emotion. Men who knew sex but weren’t bedfellows with intimacy. Men who had lost their virginity to the old nasty broad in the neighborhood who preyed on young boys. Men who knew lust but not love. They’d never seen it.
This isn’t about the Kinsey report or some theory that justifies why Black homes were broken and single women lead households ruined the community. Those types of tropes don’t really explain that so many of us, Black women that is, want marriage and commitment. White supremacist narratives of Black life only further the racist systems put in place to protect White wealth. They aren’t deep dives but shallow stereotypes. Black women valuing education and wealth , having bad attitudes, and not knowing how to cook don’t explain it either, because we just are not that simple as a collective. The gut wrenching truth is that Black people have been raped and traumatized by racism. Our men had to watch us disappear into the house after his long day on the field, to be defiled, him unable to do anything. We had to watch our men’s back cracked open and hearts shut down in order to survive in the living hell of oppression. Today, we are sometimes forced to watch, with a swipe of our finger, the ultraviolence that passes by our propped open eyes of our own children, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers dying on the pavement. We still are fighting to climb and being denied entry and access. In survival there is little room for love.
Even our ancestral gods and goddesses have struggled to love one another. Oshun, the Yoruba goddess of love, was in love with the headstrong King Shango, the god of thunder. Shango’s wife, Oya, was treasonous, so Oshun seduced Shango and bore two children by him, the Ibeyi. Oya imprisoned Shango, so he and Oshun could never be together, and Oshun’s children were captured, leaving her alone. Osirus, the god of life and death, was married to his sister, Isis, the goddess of fertility. Osiris and his brother Seth were at odds, and Seth killed Osiris and scattered his body parts around Egypt. Isis, desperately wanting a son, collected his body and procreated with it, bearing a son Horus who avenged his father’s death. Even the gods were crazy in love, and these mythological stories inspired our ancestors. We are built to love despite the trauma. We flourish in relationship. We succeed in community with one another. That is our nature, not this individual game that white supremacy would have us play. We can’t find our way to one another because we are blinded by ways that are not our own. Trying to fit a square peg into round hole. Instead, we have to love out of compromise not sacrifice. We have to water, not burn each other like wildfires, in order to grow. We have to command the sea and the thunder, life and the afterlife, and remember we are gods made in Gods image. We are gods. We give more than we take. We listen more than we speak. We love… never hate. That is our superpower. Love heals a thousand hurts. Our love can heal our trauma. It is written.
Get rid of shit that doesn’t serve you! Yep… all if it. People, things, excuses, behaviors, thoughts. All of that shit. Just get one of those garbage bags from under the sink and start throwing stuff in that joker. That old brown pillow you said you’d keep if guests come, that was really where that raggedy ass nigga laid his head. That journal you never journaled in, but you jotted down Target lists because the thought of writing down what you were feeling made you more depressed than what you were feeling. That dress you could never fit, just showed off all the wrong stuff and none of that good shit you got. That dude, that broad, that cousin who only calls with a “could you” or a “can I”. That friend who has never befriended you. Calling that non-friend. Loaning money to jokers you know who will trick it off, and ain’t got it. Putting off that trip cuz it costs too much… it’ll only cost more later cuz inflation. Wearing those same tattered shoes, and saving your fancy ones.
Throw it ALL away.
It’s National Throw Shit Away Day!
It’s also National Replace Trash with New Shit Day.
So, let’s see… what can we get?
Replace that brown pillow with two brand new ones where you can lay your head in peace, knowing a wack nigga (this applies to men and women of all colors, hues, and nationalities) won’t be waking you up with farts, snores, cold ass feet, or regrets. Replace that journal with a gratitude jar, and just commit to one word a week at minimum… I’ll start you off… write “LIFE”! Get a cashmere sweater… you can thank me later. Get a new dude or chick, trust they are out there… when YOU are ready not just cuz folks say you are getting old or whatever dumb shit people say. Tell leeches to kick rocks. Make a new friend; that cool ass person who always says the best stuff in your social media posts… go get Starbucks with her (or him). Donate to a worthy CAUSE not a broke nigga. Book the trip, buy the shoes, and eat the muthafucking cake.
And you should eat cake, not have it… you wanna have something, buy some diamonds… they last longer.
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” -Confucius
I have been in relationship with men since high school, with small windows of complete singlehood in between, that has taken me through a marriage, long term commitments with people from my past I should have left in my past, and two or three “dating” scenarios that had the excitement of period panties. I realized, after my last go round, that there are a lot of men who don’t like women… they want to sleep with us, they like the way we look or smell, they like our meals and coming home to a clean place to lie down, but they don’t really LIKE women. Let me be more clear, a number of heterosexual Black men do not like Black women.
I said what I said! If you genuinely like women, I’m not talking about you, so relax.
Talking to my boonapolis (Greek for bestie) about men and relationships, specifically the lessons I learned that she didn’t need to learn through experience, she mentioned this live video, singer (he is fabulous, btw), Durand Bernarr posted about this very subject. I watched the video. While he didn’t say this expressly, what I took from it was that Black heterosexual men have cut off their ability to tap into the feminine, and until they get that shit together, sistas need to figure out something else. We all possess masculine and feminine energy. In order to have complete access to our emotional selves, we must embrace both. Feminine energy, not to be confused with womanhood, focuses on being collaborative, nurturing, intuitive, and compassionate. Likewise, masculine energy is logical, focused, goal-driven, and structured.
We talked about her parents; her father adores her mother. They give each other what they need and like… He gets a plate with three sides and she gets a new refrigerator at mere mention. If she liked diamonds, shoes, and handbags… she’d have those. He cares about what she likes, listens to her. Smiles the biggest when surrounded by his family, which is full of women. We talked about my grandparents, my grandfather took care of a house of women. He made us things with his hands. He took care of everything. He stood up for his wife, even when she was wrong…leaving whatever grievances between the two of them. He loved having all of us around. He basked in our presence. What was also true about her father, my grandfather, and men of their times, was even though they were successful and financially sound, their focus was on finding a good woman and creating a family. These men provided not just to get a woman, but to care for a woman. These men protected not just physically but emotionally. They wanted to be in relationship with a woman.
So what happened… well here’s my take. While men generations before them sought to be like their fathers and great family men before them, it seems that many men in our generation aspire instead to the wealth and status of White men. They seem to crave admission into the halls of White, male, capitalist patriarchy and all that it brings and includes… access, wealth, opportunity in the positive side and misogyny, selfishness, and greed on the negative. This leaves women as objects of desire to be possessed, not partners to be in true relationship with. They marry and commit to women for the spoils of being married to a Black woman. In return, they appear to only provide and protect to keep her around, not out of genuine care and concern. Therefore negating our very communal ancestry, and effectively resulting in Black men, just like White men, relegating women to sexual conquests who cook and clean. What is there to like, care about, value in someone you see as your personal whore and maid.
Welp… I for one have had enough. I think about the relationships I have been in… and because I am in tune with my feminine and masculine…many of them wanted to mute the masculine in me. At least it is what the conceive as masculine. They saw me standing up for myself, speaking out loud my wants and needs, and being independent (when they wanted me dependent)… as negative. They saw my assertiveness and determination about anything other than them as a threat. They saw my determined, assertive, and down ass friends as a threat. So many men believe women should forgo happiness for responsibility to them. That women who choose themselves are selfish. That women should sacrifice all we are for their needs and wants. Those niggas don’t like women. They WANT women to possess, but they don’t like us. In pretrospect, a few if my exes didn’t really like me.
But guess who does like me… ME! Like Durand Bernarr says… cuz I’m bad bitch AND I’m that nigga!
So that’s who I am focused on. That’s who I’m growing for, trying to get better for, loving on. I have zero time to talk to and sit across from some man who could care less about what I’m saying, thinking, feeling, or what I want and need. I don’t have time for folks who only function in dysfunction. I don’t need someone jealous of me or trying to compete with me like I’m some boy he’s squaring up with. I am not interested in weak minded individuals who want me to believe they are men yet they cannot control their own lives. I won’t put up with a “let’s go dutch” nigga who has asked me to make time, space, and room for him in my day, when his only purpose is to figure out how amenable I am to his whims. Nor am I interested in someone who lacks empathy and compassion and believes men should only be aggressive and aloof.
I am out of the dating game. I won’t throw dice, wait my turn, spin the wheel, or pick a card to give someone who doesn’t like me, access to me. I’ll be over here taking care of me until a man steps up purposely with the intent to engage with a woman because he enjoys women, listen to a woman, learn from a woman, and value her because of who she be, not what’s in her pants or wallet. That man will be prepared to properly answer the question, “What do you like about women?”
“All I gotta say is that they don’t really care about us!” -MJ
“I’m me too’ing the Jewish culture. I’m saying you all have to stand up and admit to what you have been doing. You just got away with it for so long that you weren’t even realising what you were doing.”-Ye, Drink Champs Interview, 2022
“Artists getting robbed for their publishing/By dirty Jewish execs who think that it’s alms from the covenant.” -Lupe Fiasco, N.E.R.D.
“You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit. You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.” -Jay-Z, Story of OJ
“Get rid of that Devil real simple / Put a bullet in his temple / ’Cause you can’t be the N*gga 4 Life crew / With a white Jew telling you what to do”-Ice Cube, No Vaseline
“I feel like the people that’s in control of what Hip Hop does is so f—— white and so f—— Jewish until they don’t give a f— about what the culture and craft really is about,” -Scarface, Hard Knock TV, 2013
Negative sentiments are shared by many Black male rappers who have been taken advantage of in unfair contracts between themselves and Jewish record label executives. This isn’t unique to hip hop, so called “race music” of the 1920s and 1930s, music marketed specifically to African Americans, was often produced and owned by Jewish music professionals who pocketed the majority of the money and left artists poor and unable to care for themselves or family once they left the business. As artists are able to get on streaming platforms without major labels, that is rapidly changing, but for many Black musicians in their 30s or older, being sheisted by record executives was common. It was also common that these individuals, particularly New Yorkers, lived in slums, were taken advantage by pawn shops, and had to pay exorbitant rent at storefronts in their communities that were owned by Jewish people. It’s not surprising that their take on Jewish people is relatively unpopular and their comments among those considered anti-Semite according to the American Jewish Council (AJC) and Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Of course this doesn’t include all Jewish people. We should all refrain from extremist statements that attribute negativity displayed by a some members of a group to everyone in that group. However, stereotypes, or oversimplified and fixed generalizations about a group of people may be rooted in the truth about a majority or large sample of that group. There are great differences between stereotypes and how they are treated, when we consider Jewish people and Black people. Antisemitism is sort of codified by the AJC and ADL, while racism has no standard set of ingredients. Stereotypes that Black people are less intelligent, listen to rap, are poor, and loud are all very damaging and untrue statements with no rooting in truth… but no one is going to be labeled anything, most likely, if they say or strongly hint at these ideas. Is it racism to assume a Black person is poor like it is antisemitism to assume a Jewish person is wealthy?!?!? The plight of Black people in America is an atrocious history. The history of Jewish people in America, through the eyes of many Black people, looks like one where they took advantage of their perceived Whiteness and then of us.
Let’s be clear… Jewish people have played a huge part in the entertainment industry, particularly music. It is no secret that a great deal of their success in that venture was built on the backs of Black artists. The Jewish record company owners paid jazz and blues artists in liquor, not money. The Chess Brothers acts mostly died destitute and owning nothing. Jerry Heller left N.W.A. members poor. Lyor Cohen negotiates faulty deals with young musicians cheating them out of millions. So the stories go. Just because these stories repeatedly held negative notions about Jewish people, used by Nazis to execute them during the Holocaust, that doesn’t negate the lived experiences of these artists. At some point accountability needs to be taken… that some Jewish people profited from victimizing Black people based in part on their juxtaposition to Whiteness and their proximity to Black people. Their ethic or religious differences far harder and frankly less likely to elicit the same negative consequences as dark skin.
Racism is the systematic discrimination of a group of people based on their race and their perceived inferiority to another race, their expression of that racism. So even if a person who has suffered or carries the ancestral suffering of racism relates that experience with the codified anti-Semite rules… their lived experience needs to be heard and considered as such before it is dismissed as antisemitism. Especially if the experience is rooted in the truth of history against not all, but some Jewish people. Then that truth needs to be acknowledged.
As far as Ye is concerned, he goes Bobby Boucher, the boy is wild. He’s a propaganda pusher, and while there are more positive and frankly better ways to express the idea that Blackness is exploited in entertainment, he has the right to chose how he verbally expresses himself. He could have just said : Black people don’t often own their own stake in most entertainment ventures. The only lives that continue to matter in America are those of White people. Racism won’t cause change, outrage, or uproar, the way antisemitism will in most industries in America. The surefire way to get blackballed and blacklisted is to utter negative Jewish tropes… because those are codified, yet Black people are asked to be resilient in the face of centuries long racism. He did not.He went full apeshit. But there is no denying that last week he wanted to own his interests outright… and now he does. Call it genius or despicable, but don’t call him Kanye.
“They throwin’ hate at me Want me to stay at ease Fuck you and your corporation Y’all niggas can’t control me I know that we the new slaves I know that we the new slaves I’m ’bout to wild the fuck out I’m goin’ Bobby Boucher”-Kanye West, New Slaves
If you are Black in America and have lived in any predominately White spaces… school, work, community… you suffer from racial trauma. What is racial trauma? Racism based stress responses “refers to the mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias and ethnic discrimination, racism, and hate crimes. Any individual that has experienced an emotionally painful, sudden, and uncontrollable racist encounter is at risk of suffering from a race-based traumatic stress injury. In the U.S., Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) are most vulnerable due to living under a systemof white supremacy.” (Mental Health America) It manifests in PTSD, physical reactions and mental shut-down. Racial trauma can be transmitted through ancestral generation, vicarious as a result of just witnessing racism, and direct acts of race based violence, discrimination, exclusion, punishment, negativity towards you. It’s pervasive and haunting. It is the direct effect of white supremacy and chattel slavery that has existed in this country since 1690. Give us us free!
Racial trauma is often minimized as discrimination, some natural unfortunate byproduct of race based distinction. It is posed as a simple legal phenomenon that if excessive you can bring lawsuit against certain people or entities for. Yet it’s impact on our physical and mental well-being is often overlooked. In fact, our mental well-being seen as something we control and are in control to heal via therapy, but racists aren’t seen as responsible for educating themselves on the realities of race-based distinction and the real reason for our skin color differences. It’s the quintessential victim blaming. We are asked to build resilience but the powers that be are never asked to stop the behaviors, policies, procedures that make that resilience necessary… ones built upon racist thought.
If you are Black living in America (or Latino, Native American, etc) and particularly if you are indigenous, you likely suffer from transmitted (generational), vicarious (witnessed), and direct (experienced) racial trauma. You carry the oppressed yet beautiful spirit of ancestral slaves; you are a child of generations of people who faced financial, social, housing, educational, medical, and professional inequality and discrimination; and you are the result of people who have been displaced, used, killed, maimed, hung, and disproportionately subjected to the lowest living conditions in the name of power and supremacy. You have watched videos of Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, George Floyd, and Philando Castile murdered by state actors, seen Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown’s bodies lying in the street, and heard of the murders of Botham Jean, Breonna Taylor…the list goes on and on. And you have likely been looked over, passed up, paid less, assumed you were not educated or stable, mistreated, or told what you’d never be or what the highest level you could aspire to was by some teacher ill-equipped for the culture.
We must start to look at methods to stop availing ourselves to white supremacy. Those of us in the thick of it have to promote attending Black colleges; training in a variety of skills and not just one; gaining skills in corporate America to then use in entrepreneurship and consulting; social leadership when we are pushed out of professional leadership roles; and taking on training and training development to be the subject matter expert on corporate knowledge to make ourselves more professionally valuable. We all need to educate ourselves on investing; home ownership; Black indigenous history; capitalism; life insurance; entrepreneurship; advocating for ourselves medically; marriage and long term commitments; saving and spending money; and being physically & mentally well.
The truth of the matter is that while we can help make the change through voting, we can start to feel more successful in and therefore more invested in America through life and financial success that we define. More importantly, we can embrace our natural communal nature to help one another, instead of abiding by the individualism we see. We are truly stronger together. So much of our existence has been this fine line between maintaining ancestral ties, to participating and integrating in America, and to living in and being proud of Black culture. We must live as authentically Black as possible moving forward. Our competition doesn’t consist of working twice as hard to accomplish what White people do. Instead, perhaps, we can do our best and live inside, outside, and all around Black culture. Time to get Plymouth Rock up off of us!
Stress is not just an emotional responses, it results in physical deficiencies, ailments, and can kill you. PTSD, anxiety, depression and mother mood disorders and some affective disorders perpetrated by stress. Eating high glycemic “comfort foods” regulates lower stress hormones, as do alcohol, nicotine, and stimulant drugs. Racism can increase adverse birth outcomes and maternal stress. Housing discrimination and white flight can lead to living in environmentally polluted areas. Increase in hormonal load can result in high blood pressure and diabetes. All of these responses are unhealthy and will lead physical health decline. Racial trauma can literally kill you. So we need to work hard to divert that trauma, and lessen these results, both behavioral and natural, to stress. Just say Nope to racism, stress, and trauma!
We need those 40 acres (the mule was actually just going to be loaned to each family) for pain and suffering.