To Be Loved

It’s been a week. Young Dolph, a true brilliant mind in the hip hop game was killed. The Rittenhouse and Arbery trials continue. Chaka Khan was clearly on that narcota and Stephanie Mills looking and sounding like money was gracious and kind to her, and literally carried her through a Verzuz performance. And Adele. Adele did this.

So I had listened to “30”, but it was a distracted listen. Plus it’s a different listen than “19”, “21” or “25”. As it should be. I heard this song, but it wasn’t until I watched her sing it that I heard it with all of my senses engaged. I clicked on it while writing, and I had to stop. From the moment that piano intro hit my ears, and she turned her head, I knew I was about to witness something special. She didn’t just sing this song, she gave this song wings, she put her back into it, she gave it something we could feel. If you didn’t feel that, trigga gots no heart!

They say a great song can transport you back to the exact moment your emotions aligned with the words… word for word. I was transported by her singing. She painted particular moments with a wide bristled brush, and others with fine detail. She was simultaneously Picasso, J. California Cooper, Diane Warren, Toni Morrison, Frida Kahlo, and Sandcastles by Beyoncé when her voice cracks… “What is it about you-ou, that I can’t erase….” She sculpted, painted, wrote, danced sitting still, and sang.

“Painting walls with all my secret tears
Filling rooms with all my hopes and fears”

I’m sitting by myself on a gray velvet sofa, a gray furry blanket covering my legs, only the light from the tv illuminating the room. I’m heartbroken knowing I’d once again decided, because despite his shortcomings it was in fact a decision I made voluuntarily, to try to love someone who didn’t deserve it. I loathe the decision. That loathing dances around me like a tease. I let it dance until it tires out…

Adele, I feel you girl!

“I’ll never learn if I never leap
I’ll always yearn if I never speak”

I’m sitting in a chair next to him, after he has just said or done something completely out of line with loving someone. My lips part and my legs bend at the knee. I can’t keep my wants to myself even if he can’t supply them. I can’t just remain sitting beside someone who wants to stand on top of me. So I stand up and I speak. Not needing or wanting his validation for things only I can validate.

You better SING THIS SONG!

“To be loved and love at the highest count
Means to lose all the things I can’t live without… Let it be known, that I tried”

He talks, but says nothing. I am willing to sacrifice for love, but not this. This isn’t love and only one person here is sacrificing. I can’t afford to sacrifice like this. He continues talking, not realizing I’m no longer listening. I gather my wraps and my purse, pull out my keys, and pull my gloves onto my hand, wiggling each finger down into its proper reservoir. He asks me where I’m going. I put my hand on the doorknob and turn. I turn to him, I say only, “I tried.” Exit scene.

I mean she took me there… and while those examples are a little more dramatic in my written word than they probably were in reality, that’s how she painted them for me as she sang those words. Words she wrote. Do you understand the artistry in that? The brilliance. The unreserved emotion. Then the very clear rational conclusion… let it be known, I tried. Sis is a whole international treasure for this shit right here. I couldn’t let the week pass without acknowledging this masterpiece.When she finished, I almost threw my phone and led a living room revival by myself. Cuz let me tell you, that right there, that was gospel

Adeleations 29:1: Let it be known, that I tried.

Amen.

All My Life I had to Fight

Oh you know…

Mrs. Sophia is home now and there are about to be some truths told and some discussions had. Mrs. Sophia is the collective 40+ Black Woman who has lived a little life, turned a couple of heads, kissed a few toads, had to tell some wrinkled old ass White lady in the store that she is not her errand girl or handmaid and will not be cut off or disrespected, and had to get into someone’s actual ass, like a baby mole, because they fail to get the message… I AIN’T THE ONE!

Imma be all over the place this time, cuz this is an all over the place kind of conversation. But bear with me, because I guarantee you are gonna wanna shout, do a praise dance, sit in silence, and plan as my girl called it “a pajama and bonnet caper” all at the same time after you read some of these stories I’m about to tell you. So let’s jump in the deep water.

• • •

A girlfriend of mine sought my counsel (I’m kind and smart, but twice as ignorant and very liable to choose violence… in other words, very wise counsel) because her Black child’s predominately White school decided it was a good idea to take a trip to Monticello and Jamestown. Wait… one second. Monticello, the place where Thomas Jefferson owned 600 slaves that does tours of slave quarters. The same place he impregnated his slave, a woman he OWNED, who was not considered a WHOLE HUMAN, Sally Hemmings, with six children. A place where young Black girls were enslaved and raped. THAT place. And Jamestown, the site where Africans stolen from their land were sold to White plantation owners who enslaved these people in what turned out to be hundreds of years of violent servitude. We have primarily White teachers taking their White students and a handful of Black and Hispanic children on this trip down fucked up memory lane. You wanna beat them over the head with your privilege?

I have been to Monticello, now I hear that now they are much more forthright about Jefferson’s slaveowner history. But it’s been clear… the slave cabins are still standing. They talked more about his china service than the very real historical implications of this plantation. So my friend was concerned about how these teachers were prepared to have discussions about slavery in Monticello and Jamestown and asked such questions to the teachers and staff promoting the trip… and she was ready to scrap if the answer was wrong. Cuz this is often our lives. Taking responsibility for educating clueless White people on how their actions, choices, decisions have racial implications and moreover exposing to them how unprepared they are for the ricochet. Be clear its not always a contentious conversation, but we go into it ready to pounce. There are just some fights we shouldn’t have to continue to have… but yet ALL my life I had to fight.

• • •

Another friend of mine moved her family to take a position that promised upward mobility, greater responsibility, and support in meeting her professional goals. Not very long into her position, she realized that while she was extremely qualified for the role, they had hit the jackpot by hiring a qualified, Black, female for this job. So many tokens earned off the one hire. And like a company that lack diversity and inclusionary policies, she soon realized she had jumped in a chlorinated pool of White tears and privilege. But Black girls put on a swim cap and a one-shoulder ruffled one piece… and swim. So after being questioned by one of her colleagues to the point of harassment, she had to “per my last email”, “to reiterate” and “kind regards” her way to Human Resources. If “Get this bitch the fuck off of me QUICK” was a person….

Understand… I can get her off of me, but neither of you will like how I do it. This is a professional environment, and if you want to keep this Eames chair and Steelcase desk you paid a thousand dollars for from sailing through the hallway at her big ass head, I suggest you be the one to remind her of where we are. For many Black women in the corporate space, the expectation to keep quiet and tolerate discrimination and bias; being overlooked and underpaid; having folks think they can touch or comment on our braids, natural hair, or African wax print blouse, or for that matter any parts of ourselves, is still a power play. But we often out work these clowns and are more educated and experienced, and know we can take our talents elsewhere… so it’s in a company’s best interest to ensure it’s slow are made fast and those of limited intellect are made whole. I mean there is always the parking lot… cuz All MY life I had to fight.

And just so we are clear, this is not necessarily a White v. Black issue, but a Supremacy & Privilege v. Black issue. There are some real self-hating Black people who align with the discrimination and anti-Black tactics in the workplace (and out). One of my former co-workers was often commented upon by a jealous hating ass Black woman in a management position, about her body. Sis is thick like Luke dancers, and this woman would ask her about having work done, what undergarments she wore, why her body was shaped that way, and why her clothes fit like they did. “Why is your body so big and your stomach so flat?”

See… I can’t even put into words how magnificently I would have burrowed myself so deep in her ass she’d have been defacating dance videos, candy corn, J. Alexander crab cakes, and Jordans for three months. But alas when this same old miserable cow attempted this line of similar foolishness with me, I let her know all bets were off in your neighborhood Spartan store… and there was nothing but space and opportunity outside the company gates. I was prepared to make her pay for all the Africans who sold slaves off the coast of Congo, and each of the “my name is Toby… the first time” slaves who readied young Sally with a lemongrass bath and a starched yellowed petticoat to Jefferson’s liking. While White folks are lynching us in the streets and in our homes while we sleep or watch tv, often there are a few folks that look like you who try to hang you by the rope they are dangling from. But nope… you can’t take me out. All my life I HAD TO fight.

• • •

So here we come full circle. As much as you shouldn’t try me, my kid is a war you don’t want… and don’t let it be a race war, I’m playing whack-a-mole with a frying pan. My kid had to be about five and his teacher, a substitute, called a group of Black boy children being a little disruptive… but it was KINDERGARDEN so there’s that… thugs. Yep, you read it right. THUGS. I picked him up, dedpite bring under the weather, and he told me immediately upon getting in the car. So I slid into a parking space, got my blanket and my box of tissues, and we proceeded to her classroom where I went off for for every wronged Black student since Ruby Bridges.

I inquired whether calling her, she was Arabic, brothers terrorists would be acceptable, or whether talking to her with a stereotypical “hiyact” or “ach” attached to English words would be offensive… as I sneezed, collected snot rags in my palm, and swaddled myself in the Spongebob blanket. She didn’t say much, and the couple in the room with us were chuckling when I was serious. I reminded her that boys and girls, young little ladies and young lads, or descendants of African Kings and Queens, was to be the extent if her name calling. She remarked she hadn’t said it to my son. “They are ALL my sons!” I exclaimed. Listen, I won’t bring you none, but don’t start none either! All my life I had to FIGHT.

Fight for respect from old, racist, crotch rotted Millys. Fight for my people against Donald and David and their lynchmob of good ole’ boys. Fight against Candaces and Condoleezas who were live and in living color Pecola Breedloves secretly hoping for blond hair and blue eyes to the point of being cultural turncoats. Fight against Karen and her group of Susans and their fragility and tears, while siccing their racist hounds upon us. See while fighting for a seat at the table or for the capital to buy our own table, against racism, for diversity and inclusion, against the “strong, Black, invincible” woman trope, we still gotta knuckle up against other humans. It’s exhausting, we tired. But trust, while my sister is about to go in with a hot 16 on dat ass, I’m always there to be her hype man, repeating the last word of every sentence, to let folks know, “Mrs Sophia home… and things are gonna change round here!”

Red Flags Everywhere

Like EVERYTHING else we are going to run red flags into the ground aren’t we? Yes, we are. Just like “its the (add item, emotion, characteristic) for me”, the silhouette challenge, and “whoop there it is” before it… now we have moved on to making people sick af of little red emoji flags. Red flags have been around, infiltrating your good choices and directly influencing your bad ones since Columbus “discovered” a land with people on it already. Talk about a red mf’in flag. But did that stop him… nope. And here’s the gag, you won’t stop missing those joints either.

Story time: I used to keep going back with this one guy. He was, as my bestie likes to call him…

Of course she saw all his red flags, yellow flags, black flags with the skull on ‘em, but they were hidden behind words, gestures, and bullshit that was meant specifically to divert my attention from those jokers. They were wild and dancing in the air, dying to be seen, moving in the wind at just the right pace and undulation to whistle out … “over here bitch!” Yet I still was clueless. My emotions were involved and I wasn’t being completely logical or rational. I knew something about our relationship was off, but I figured we would figure it out. But that wasn’t possible, because this dude had those big ass wartime “the British are coming” red flags.

Yes like red flags do, they start off emoji size. It’s the little shit.

•She’s a cat not a dog person 🚩
•He quotes Dr. Umar 🚩
•She refuses to get a smart TV 🚩
•He texts you mean face emojis if you don’t respond quickly 🚩
•She drives an El Camino 🚩

Then those things begin to turn into slightly larger things.

•She kicked your neighbor’s dog…twice. 🚩 🚩
•He thinks a man should have two wives if he can afford them 🚩 🚩
•She thinks cell phones are spreading cancer. 🚩 🚩
•He shows up at your house if you don’t answer your phone, because he’s concerned. 🚩 🚩
•She has shovels and rope in the back of that car. 🚩 🚩

Ok so shit is getting real and we need bigger flags. Then over time it becomes obvious…

She’s a violent psychopath.
He’s a whole hotep.
She’s a conspiracy theorist.

He is David Koresh meets Jim Jones.
And she might be a contract killer.

So back to my story… first dude was critical of my friends and super curious about my job, especially my pay. That turned into him being critical of me and asking me questions about my finances that just were not going to get answered at that point in our relationship. Then it escalated and he brought out his big guns… talking about wanting to be married to “help me” (pause)

and to “put our money together.” Naw playa. So those little red flags became big red flags which became…burning all that shit down to the ground.


I had ignored 432 red flags. You see, that’s the thing with red flags, we ignore those little signs until they become so big and we are so invested, it is much harder to pry yourself away from the danger. When we finally realize we about to be out here bold as hell after dealing with some loser, so much damage is done, either we are red hot with anger, in the red and full of regret, or ready to set fire to anything standing or moving! But the red flags were always there. We told ourselves they were white flags or red kites, and let our emotions rule. Many of us fail to give our rational minds much space when it comes to matters of the heart. But like red flags do, they line the path to drinking poison Kool-Aid or being tied up in the back of an El Camino.

Maya Angelou said it best… it would be a Black woman giving us the ultimate wisdom on red flags… “When someone shows you who they are, believe them!”

End Scene!

Souls on the Light Pole

I grew up on Burns between Warren and Moffat on the east side of Detroit. I was in this weird juxtaposition between families living in and keeping up Grandma’s house, drug dealers squatting in bungalows and selling dope on the porch, and renters tearing shit up and leaving their lawn so tall we all thought it must be a dead body in there. It was the family hood. Mama, Daddy, Granny, Grandpa, a cousin or Aunt, Ray-Ray and Pookie with the Regal outside, sporting Cartiers and Eight Ball jackets. Bikes and basketballs left on the grass. And on the corner of Warren, stuffed animals soaked with rain, discolored from the sun, tied around the light pole where some young Black person’s life was taken… hit and run, shooting, police brutality, and forgotten. The first time I saw the death bears on the utility pole on Warren and Burns, next to the mailbox, I felt like the Tenderheart Care Bear, wet and dirty from the rain the night before and splashed mud from the street, was staring a hole in me.

They were always there, every time we passed Warren to go downtown, turned down Warren to get wherever we were going, and often on our way I saw several more in memoriam tributes to lives lost in the hood. Big State Fair stuffed giraffes, the almost sad looking bears and rabbits with scraggly fur and missing an eye, sometimes baby dolls whose previous owner cut them a real bold haircut… I used to stare at those collections that left me both a little heartbroken and very confused. Representations of childhood, fun, affection, and carnivals, turned into symbols of death and more importantly the forgotten lives of the dead by everyone except the hood. These displays were basically art installations to mourn the death and celebrate the life of the lost… sad but celebratory, another kind of strange fruit, tied up and hanging from poles and trees, but colorful and vibrant. A representation of how some of us loved Black life and how others of us saw no value in it.

Usually one of the stuffed objects would catch my attention as we rode by. I never asked what happened and never confirmed or expressed an opinion or emotion. Yet it made me both angry and curious. It made me militant. It made me realize the people in my house, at my schools, myself … the personification of excellence… were still marginalized even if we continuously pushed ourselves outside those margins. We were crushed alive by white supremacy and eaten alive by cultural cycles of poverty, less opportunity, even less success, and a lack of privilege. In the city, it was as if we were left to die in this once thriving metropolis that now couldn’t keep a business open, had a ghost filled downtown area, dilapidated buildings and houses, homelessness and drugs, violence and chaos. Racism was unleashed to ensure that the hungry lacking money, jobs, food, and protection would eventually bite each other. State sponsored gladiator shit. Lynching by proxy. Those stuffed animals, our representative carcasses.

I have long moved from Burns, and in that time Black men and women, boys and girls who have lost their lives in poverty stricken, low opportunity, segregated, yet steadily gentrified areas aren’t represented by furry toys but blasted across social media. Dash cams, videos, surveillance, and technology ensures they are no longer faceless. Yet at the same time that’s both more traumatic and somehow more brutal. Out of that trauma, we have stood up and moved as one to protest and make noise against anti-Black policies and policymakers. We have called for companies who want our dollars to dismiss workers who display racist and discriminatory behavior. We have busted and rebuilt ceilings plastered with apartheid and painted in an ominous hue of black hatred. We are arming and protecting ourselves in an act of radical political warfare in a nation that still throws racist rocks and hides its white supremacist hand. We are saying their names.

And I imagine the souls on those light poles, long abandoned by their fur, are being freed from their perch, their ties popped, and they jump down and take in the new world around them, free. Southern trees bear strange fruit and urban light poles bear the souls of Black folks.

Dedicated to the life represented by Tenderheart Bear, Warren and Burns, 1983.

Donda’s Son

“Donda” dropped.

It was mildly okay, and it clearly suffered from being overly manipulated. It had a few half decent cuts, but it really just made me want to blast MBDTF (my fave Kanye album) and Graduation (my second fave) after I listened, because I felt like I needed some stellar Ye. Not even getting Jay on a track could sway me into seeing “Donda” as one of Ye’s best, but then again I really don’t think that’s the point. And I think Kanye had a point.

“I know God breathed on this.”

Kanye is a billionaire.

Take that in. That’s nine zeros my G. Let’s parlay there for a minute.

“I know God breathed on this”

Ok, I’m ready. This album was like Jay-Zs Basquiat dreads… the quintessential I don’t give a fuck. The place few Black men ever ascend to. The place we are all trying to elevate towards. This album is that. It’s gospel and hip hop and very very emo. It cries emotion. It praises God. It has moments of hip hop vermeil that never quite ascend to gold, but he tries to remind you at least a little bit that he’s the dude who rapped through wires. The cuts with Jay Electronica and Jay-Z are palatable, and Off the Grid with Playboi Carti and Hurricane with Lil Baby are nice. But overall it just sounds like a vibe… the places Ye found himself in and put to music like “fuck it.” Either we were gonna love it or be disappointed… but true artists create what they feel and not necessarily what you want to see, hear, feel. Billionaire artists though… they don’t give a fuuuucccccckkkkkk!

“Let me know something, who ya’ll with”

Listen, this guy is a genius. Walk with me here. Most artists, even the most popular… Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Beyoncé… they put out music that will hit radio, win awards, sell millions, so they can go on multi-city tours where they truly earn their millions. This guy went on a multi-city tour, sold out arenas during a pandemic, BEFORE any album ever came out. He got to the pot of gold before the rainbow ever appeared… hell it hadn’t even rained. He took the fashion model of doing shows, selling millions of orders, and never having to worry about store sales. Hell Dolce, Bottega, Prada, Givenchy give their dresses away to celebrities. The money has already been banked. Dude played Madison Square Garden with no album out and doing no old music. That’s other level creativity and intellect. Kanye is gonna Kanye. Either catch the vibe or choke on it. Dude doesn’t care.

“Don’t know nothing I know this…”

Mostly though, I believe Donda’s son was making a statement. “Dondais less of a musical testimony to his mother than a personal and cultural experience of pure genius to thank his mother for her inspiration, her greatness, and giving him this life. Her baby is a billionaire who has always tried to be exactly who he was without apology, but always kinda seemed to be two steps away from pure freedom. I think he arrived and …”breathed on this.”

You don’t even have to like him to recognize…

You Know It’s True

Remember Milli Vanilli, the two “singing” guys with dreads and leggings , who had a string of duper popular songs until their track broke and everyone figured out they couldn’t sing. They were fake af. Sadly, one of them died of a drug overdose and the other kept trying to sing to no avail. But when the news broke, they claimed they were taken advantage of, hoodwinked, abused, and used. Despite knowing they couldn’t hold a note, lip synced, and were responsible for duping millions of fans, they blamed their management and the record company. That’s what people do when their fraud is put on display.

Interesting enough, my Grandma called them Milli Vanilla.

In a world of chocolate, butter pecan, mint chocolate chip, pralines and cream, Rocky Road, and Superman… there is still buckets upon buckets of vanilla. Stay with me… I’m going somewhere. Trust me. Vanilla tastes best in a hot fudge sundae… but it needs that hot fudge! It needs that cherry. Otherwise it’s just… vanilla. Put it in a blender with milk and Oreos, it turns into a delicacy. In a bowl alone it’s what Great-Grandma eats that won’t get under her teeth, upset her stomach, give her gas, or give her too much of a sugar high. Vanilla can be boring, but it plays well with others. And no mNy how many others at the party, it still just calls itself vanilla. If it were fake AF it would become Hot Fudge, Cherry on Top, or Chocolate Chip Delight when we adorn it, try to jazz it up. But vanilla is good… it knows it’s literally the ancestor! It’s happy with itself. Real recognizes real.

People are no different. When folks are good with who they are, the accept those quirks, faults, flaws, that sleepy eye, those ugly ugly feet, that unibrow. They know they are worthy with those imperfections and despite what other people think. But not good ole Milli Vanilli. They couldn’t just go on Putting on the Hits… they had to act like a whole entire singing group. But neither of them sang ONE NOTE. Then when the needle hit the proverbial record, it scratched and they cried foul. Yet they were the jive turkeys. I mean these jokers couldn’t even pronounce the words in the songs they were supposed to sing. Yet they had the absolute gall to blame anyone else for their exposure as fraudulent. Naw that was you bruh.

Fake AF people don’t like to take responsibility for their shit. You raggedy… admit it and change. But don’t try to blame somebody else for your fuckery. If people stop coming to your concerts, it not because management duped you, its because you cannot sing. If people stop fucking with you, it’s because your shit is too rank to tolerate. Take responsibility for ingesting that side of baked bullshit and that entree of ridiculousness ragu. YOU are the reason folks think you are tacky, messy, silly, and toxic. You! Own it. Put it in your pipe. That’s yours.

Responsibility is a sign of maturity. You cannot forever blame your imaginary friend Bruce or your stuffed animal that comes alive at night for leaving your toys out, eventually you gotta put that shit away. Let’s embrace owning our shit in the second half of 2021, by taking full and complete responsibility for our actions, making good decisions, and being who we authentically are without apology (focus in authentic). So don’t blame your shit on what someone else ate; Don’t let your girl get away… Never go Eric Benet; and don’t fake the funk like Milli Vanilli.

And until you can do that and be a normal adult…. “Baby… forget my number!”

Woman Interrupted

Naomi & Serena

Naomi Osaka is so much more than a tennis player. Like her idol, Serena Williams, she is a talented, strong, compassionate, vocal leader! Plus she bodied that cover of Vogue Hong Kong… just saying.

Both Naomi and Serena have been basically unapologetic about taking time to heal from mental and physical exhaustion and the undeniable pressure and stress the press and the sport put them under. They are examples of women who were able to, by controlling their image and business, gather the reigns and do an about face before they were dragged down…Naomi by social anxiety and depression and Serena by standing up for herself amid racist and sexist actions by tennis umpires and staff and her decision to slowly come back to tennis after her life threatening childbirth. Both were ridiculed tremendously by mainly white reporters and members of the press, but supported wholeheartedly by their teams and fans. Both have been vehemently attacked when they were being held up as aesthetically pleasing… surprise surprise. God forbid any standard of beauty that strays too far from the White standard be exalted and celebrated… especially on magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

Although these women are athletes, they are both also celebrities. Famous well beyond the tennis court, they have both managed to find safe havens for themselves away from the patriarchal judgment of their bodies and looks and unfair treatment during bouts of trauma.

Sadly, other female celebrities haven’t fared as well.

Amy

Harpers Bazaar UK recently wrote an article on Any Winehouse, and how unprotected she was during her career. The article by Ella Johnson, recalling a Winehouse performance in Mayfair, stated, “Her legs were spindly and frail and her beautiful messy beehive looked too big for her tiny head. I remember her collarbone that gave way to deep hollows. Her make-up was smudged, and she looked so terribly sad… I didn’t understand why she was there, why she wasn’t being looked after and why anyone had allowed her to get on stage. Looking back, it was public humiliation…”

The many times we saw Winehouse looking disheveled and clearly in need of emotional help, but she was just left to continue to perform is maddening now…but we just watched then. Her documentary “Amy” chronicled her downward spiral, often surrounded by boyfriends and a team. These people weren’t exactly hands off, but in some ways they sat by idly while she was unable to control her habits because she sang heartier, with more passion, overflowing with emotion. She sang her face off… while clearly facing off with her own demons. She often looked unsure of where she was, just opening her mouth and letting the notes escape. “They tried to make me go to rehab..,” she sang. But arguably none of us bothered to treat her better on this side of the rehab doors. She deserved better.

It’s Britney bitch…

After suffering from an emotional breakdown, The huge superstar Britney Spears was run into the mud by her family, temporarily lost her kids, and lost control of her finances in a conservatorship. “Don’t you know that you’re toxic…”

During that time she released albums, went on tour, and was featured in a Las Vegas residency for four years, yet she was deemed unable to care for herself and exploited by her own family, as she has recalled. Plagued at one time by severe anxiety that led to a chemical dependency, after postpartum depression and a nasty divorce, she was diagnosed as bipolar and hospitalized, leading to the removal of her children from her home. After emerging from a psychiatric hold she lost control of her finances and personal affairs. Even years after being stable, she continues to fight for her personal freedom. Only now as we are more educated, compassionate, and sensitive to mental illness are we outraged at how she’s being treated. Sadly, this is how celebrity women with emotional and mental health issues have been treated throughout history. Paraded around, humiliated, left to protect themselves, used, and often forgotten.

Lady Day

“Stop haunting me now
Can’t shake you nohow
Just leave me alone”-Good Morning Heartache, Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday was a troubled but wildly talented jazz singer who Winehouse was often compared to. She suffered from alcoholism and drug abuse, and memories of a traumatic childhood and traumatic heartache. Unafraid of politicizing her music, her drug use was used by the government to scare her out of performing “Strange Fruit”, her song about America’s history of lynching. A historical human victim of the same attempt to hide and erase America’s ugly racist culture… eerily similar to today’s critical race theory battle.

While she was a classy and beautiful talent, her alcohol and drug abuse were known and taken advantage of during her career. She died handcuffed, under arrest for drug possession, and denied medical care. Taken advantage of by music, men, and the law, she, like many Black women entertainers, was never protected as the national treasure she was. It could be said mistreatment and racism were largely responsible for her emotional and mental difficulties like Nina Simone, Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker, and others.

Her last recording, “Last Recording” is accompanied by the iconic photo of her looking gaunt, sickly, and melancholy holding a glass of scotch and a cigarette in a recording studio, turtleneck and plaid pants not the least reminiscent of her former glamour. Her voice is much more raspy and haunted, with recording tricks used to mask it’s imperfections. This is how we often leave and allow our female icons with mental health troubles to fare. While our most troubled and troubling male celebrities….we fight for their legacies to stay intact… Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Robin Williams, Chris Farley, Tom Cruise always have a fan section. Male icons are exalted. Female icons all too often die broke and alone.

Or in a bathtub.

Whitney

Pictures of her drug filled bathroom broadcast on tabloid covers. Put on stage to sing, body so emaciated and ravaged by drug abuse she looked like death walking. We once said Whitney Houston had the greatest voice of all time. Yet she died in a hotel room bathtub alone.

Her story is perhaps most tragic. Introduced to drugs as a child, by family. Plagued with drug addiction while simultaneously attempting to portray a public persona that was neither true nor her own conception. While we often blame drug users, addiction is a mental illness one needs treatment for, as no amount of criticism will heal it. The inability to live one’s life authentically is known to cause depression, mania, anxiety, and many other negative emotional responses. To watch this woman’s incredible talent and spirit whittled down to the nub was hard for m m those of us who sang “The Greatest Love of All” at our lung’s peak was very sad. To ultimately see her and her beloved daughter die similarly, alone, was heartbreaking.

If women are valued… we must start acting like it. We hear over and over, it’s okay for men to cry and show emotion, and it is. Yet when women, especially celebrities, are weak, sick, broke, ragged, looking less than beautiful, helpless, and in pain, we are often discarded and forgotten. That woman isn’t sexy, she’s not pretty, she’s not desirable… she’s human and should be treated as gingerly …and much more… as she is when she’s made up and fancy. If we would let the people we bestow fame upon to wither away, imagine what we do the other 98% of women. We are the bearers of life… we deserve our very best.

Update: We should be outraged the way young women are being treated in the Tokyo Olympics. In addition to archaic rules forcing them to wear skimpy outfits to compete in competitions that men are fully dressed for, and pushing them out of competition. Now, archaic and arbitrary rules are being used to penalize them for being great. When they pull out, don’t show up, and are critical of the often sexist and racist promulgation of the rules, a hush goes over the crowd. Simone Biles, Shacarri Richardson, Naomi Osaka were offered as human sacrifice. It’s so surprise these are Black women. It’s no surprise the world doesn’t understand how these constant attacks at who we are affect our mental health. But as we pull back, challenge their status quo, and avenge our trauma, we simultaneously show America and the world for the sexist and racist institutions they are and how resilient but unburdened we will be by their constant disrespect.

The world is opening back up… and jobs

Listen, I am thankful for paychecks. Let me be clear. But I won’t lie… the idea of working from home (WFH) forever is something that appeals to every part of me but my waistline. And that I have full control over so I won’t even call that a con in the sea of pros. I have always been an independent worker. I went into a field and career that didn’t require group reports because I hated answering math questions at our table in 4th grade… people, by nature, try to get by on mediocrity. That’s not my ministry. So sitting at my dining table doing cases was great… and I actually enjoyed the weekly Zoom meetings where I could put on my cute top and still have on my waffle knit pajama bottoms with unicorn slippers. Shit was mad cool. I hated the reason WHY we were home, but I work in an industry always 10,000 leagues beyond the technology of the moment. Folks had been working from home for over a decade.

I loved it.

I also love that the world is opening back up. I can sit down at a restaurant, in a movie theatre, shop in a store… gimme my six feet though. It’s nice to get out in the world sometimes.

But work… the people at work… the silly rules at work, the ones we always knew were silly but now border on ridiculous… no bueno.

WFH opened my eyes wide shut… in a way I hadn’t been able to fully see the affects of a stressful environment and horrible people on my mental health and my overall sense of joy. Having to go into a place where you are disliked simply because you stand up for yourself and use your voice is not healthy. Add to that having your experience, education, knowledge, and legacy in a place dulled by fucking haters… it’s like working with evil instead of widgets. And being free of that, with just the work, shows you how adept you are at the work. It also shows you how much you’ve grown beyond it.

So as I have had to go back, I feel my back tensing up from sitting in a chair too long. I see the ridiculous rules being reintroduced. I feel the presence of a lack of humanity and care for the way employees are treated and experience the place. I had to make a choice to make some moves to change that reality. The clarity of WFH allowed that. The peace of WFH manifested it. It was like a reset for so many of us, to reevaluate our lives, especially how we make our paychecks. Give it up for being paid.

How we make our money is a personal choice, and it can be corporate, retail, skilled trades, entrepreneurial, whatever floats your personal boat of goals. But what it must be, if we want to stay physically and mentally clear, is peaceful. Stress kills at worst. At it’s least it means you probably eat too many comfort carbs and drink too much wine. But we hold the key to our future, and alot of us found new keys to new doors on our keychain. Use those joints. Choose you. And in the words of Diamond from Player’s Club… “Make the money…”

Mules of the Rule

But she broke the rules. But he shouldn’t have been convicted in the first place… justice was served. But… but…but.

Nope.

If you don’t like Black women… just say that!

The Olympics along with these international sports organizations have decided in 2021 that it will not stand on the right side of humanity and history… particularly where Black women are concerned. First the International Gymnastics Federation refused to give Simone Biles her just due for completing a move NEVER done in competition, by devaluing it. Then, after being held on the heels of one of the most tumultuous racial times in America since the civil rights movement, the Olympic committee announced no Black Lives Matter propaganda was welcome. This week’s double whammy was the Olympic Committee’s ban of the SoulCap, a swimming cap made to make room for natural hair, for not being in the natural shape of a human head and the World Anti-Doping Agency banning THE track and field STAR Sha’Carri Richardson after she tested positive for weed. What a time to be a Black woman…

So let’s explore the bullshit.

WADA bans substances that are either illicit, performance enhancing or harmful. There is no evidence marijuana is performance enhancing, it’s legal in 40 countries and about 20 states including Oregon, and many studies show its helpful for pain, emotional balance, and mood.

Ultimately, this ban speaks to the sheer dominance Black women are exhibiting in the Olympic trials; we plan to run those gold medals. It also points to the reality of Black women… just the sabotage and barriers thrown in our way, even after we defy the odds, to thwart our success. We make it to heights where we’ve never really had representation, to break those glass ceilings, only to be stabbed with the shards. Sometimes even by our own, some on purpose and l others without ill intent. “But she broke the rules…”, “But she should have known better…”, “But…”

“Black women are mules of the rule.” Zora Neale Hurston

Stop it. It’s illegal to say “g@ddamn” in Michigan (MPC 750.102). It would be illegal for Whoopi Goldberg to film scene for “Sister Act” in Alabama playing Sister Mary Clarence (Alabama Code 13A 14-4). Most would agree those are stupid laws that nobody should really be penalized for, even if they commit them, The same can be said for being tested and banned for marijuana in amateur sports. Professional athletes aren’t tested. It’s legal in many states. It’s legal all over the world. It is a stupid rule. But there is a “harder, better, faster, stronger, smarter” double standard for Black women. We are being expected to not do harder skills in a sport built upon doing harder skills to get more points. We are expected to wear swim caps that won’t cover our heads, when white female athletes and their straight hair is accommodated by the approved caps. And we are expected to follow rules with no basis, but I’m sure folks drive black cars in Denver on Sunday and nobody gets a ticket (because that’s illegal too).

Again… If you don’t like Black women… just say that!

So Bill Cosby ya’ll. First he’s an admitted racist. Second, rape is typically a crime committed against women. So, when we are talking about the sexual assault and rape of women, like when we are talking about abortion, men should probably just agree, that whatever women feel is right. Period. Your opinion on female sexual assault is not needed. AND rapists belong in jail. That’s Weinstein, Epstein, Allen, Cosby, Kelly, Uncle Tre, all of those nasty and horrible mofos. The idea that Bill Cosby’s age, alleged blindness, a due process violation, or … this is laughable… justice, somehow justifies him being released from prison is the Most BACKWARDS SHIT ever.

Let’s set this up like dominoes. There is no justice that you can ever get for a woman whose body has been touched or entered without consent. It doesn’t matter if that rape, say it with me, RAPE, has been effectuated by violence, intimidation, substance, mental incapacity, or age. The emotional and physical trauma that often results from being raped lasts a lifetime. There is no returning the victim to the place she’d be in but for the crime. The only consolation is him being put in jail where he cannot engage in that behavior anymore. THAT is the justice. End of story.

So the fact that a man was wrongfully convicted the second time doesn’t negate how the system failed the first time. The DA in that instance decided because the victim kept speaking to and seeing Cosby after the assault, that led credence to it being consensual, and the case was too weak to win. Hence why he declined to prosecute. It is that which was the original sin. Most women are raped by people they know, who they very well may encounter again. She deserved to face him in court. Now she gets no justice. Money from a civil suit in exchange for sexual assault going unpunished isn’t justice. The results of the second trial are based on DA error… the results of the first, the DA’s patriarchial discretion. Miss me with that.

Many of Cosby’s supporters, most in fact, are Black men. They speak on The Constitution protecting him the way it has so many other White people in history like that is somehow justification for him being free. What we cannot do is sacrifice women’s protection from violence in the name of Black men being treated the same as white men. Patriarchy and racism are shit from the same ass. If racism towards Black men is not as important as sexual violence towards women, that sends the message that only Black men’s issues and not Black women’s are worth fighting for. Some of the same brothas who support Cosby support or turn a blind eye to R. Kelly. All women deserve to be able to make consensual decisions about who they have sex with, race notwithstanding. But when Black men blindly support rapists, simply because they are Black, that’s a slap in the face to Black women.

“Rule-following, legal precedence, and political consistency are not more important than right, justice and plain common-sense.” -W.E.B. DuBois

“I’m That Girl” Energy

So this isn’t specifically about Sha’Carri Richardson, but it is inspired her “I’m That Girl” energy… that big boss energy… that oh you fancy hunh …hair did, nails did, everything did… energy, that Meg the Stallion “ahhhh” energy, that Beyoncé stripper kick energy.

It’s our time to be cocky and confident and courageously outward about just how dope we are. Period.

But like EVERYTIME a woman dare flex her muscles, here comes some weak ass man releasing his negative energy… or to put it simply, talking shit. I won’t promote him by name, but I’m sure you can find this fool if you just search him on Facebook, but dude is definitely on his Kevin Samuels shit. And even though he sounds just like him, he even calls Samuels feminine and he assigns to women that are strong, in body and mind, confident, and über talented the masculine label. That’s a clear sign he has ZERO idea what he is talking about. Case in point, his rant about Queen Olympian Richardson.

First, feminine and masculine energy is in all of us. The claim that her face or body makes her masculine is not only aesthetically untrue (she’s a beautiful girl expressing her personal style, period) but a false narrative. She is the divine feminine and rests perfectly centered between masculine and feminine energy as we all should, a doer and a feeler. This woman is physically fit, a dreamer, intuitive, self-aware, self-confident, and nurturing. Listen to her, read an article, educate yourself on a topic before you voice your misinformed negative opinion. She is divinely made. Recognize! But sadly, this ass rat’s page is full of these anti-woman rants.

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He represents a subset of Black men who are so unhappy with themselves, they spend their time criticizing and putting down women. Then he has the nerve to put the moniker King in his name… cuz surely God didn’t bless this clown with said surname. He is talking about the bible and non-modest women one minute, then bragging of “knocking down” older women… some real HAN way of saying he slept with them. Knocking down? We trees now? Clown. And I won’t even start on the whole haughty foolishness. A woman being proud and out loud about her dopeness is only haughty to a weak ass dude. And guy is weak as a paper chain around a Rottweiler’s neck.

Dudes comment section is a lesson in how to come for a HAN, fa real. The Queens came dressed in their robes and coronation crowns to let him know how janky he is.

“A lioness never worries about the opinion of sheep… EVER!”

“Just say you inferior and move on…”

“Weak men just sit quietly please… learn how to talk less unless it’s something along the lines of “CONGRATS QUEEN!””

“Men going out of their way to reject women who don’t know they exist.”

“I hope she keeps turning up on yo ass!”

Absolutely! You see, gone are the days when sistas have to wait on White men, White women, Black men, and everyone from the area formerly known as Mesopotamia to big up them and validate their success. It’s I AM THE BAG energy all day and everyday up in this bitch because Oprah, Michelle, Angela (Rye and Bassett), Kamala, Bey, Meg, Serena, Naomi, Amanda, Issa, Gabrielle, Tracee, Tamar, Ava, Jill, Erykah, Abby, Stacey, Simone, and Sha’Carri said so! We are breaking ceilings and barriers, stereotypes and systems, to claim our dominance, power, and influence. If you don’t like it, the suggestion is that you just sit these next 100 centuries out and wait until we’ve had enough of celebration this dope ass shit called being a Black woman!

And yes, we are strong, beautiful, smart, free, wild, gentle, loving, sassy, petty af sometimes, stylish, hard-working, change makers, big ballers, shot callers, responsible for each other, and down to ride to the bloody end for our people who are down to ride with us. If that’s too much for you. I suggest you boss your life up. Or perhaps you are a false king like that fool above, that’s cool too. Off with your head, you peasant.

Ladies, keep up this Queen energy! It’s self-care and self-love wrapped up into one! And f*#% the haters!