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!

2 years, 5 months, and 18 days

“Facing the rising sun of our new day begun…”

Juneteenth, 1909

Imagine learning you had won the mega millions 2 years, 5 months, and 18 days after your winning ticket had been pulled while you and your family lived on the street, out if your car, sometimes scavenging leftover garbage for dinner. Imagine learning your conviction for life in prison had been overturned 2 years, 5 months, and 18 days while you were left in solitary with no contact with the outside world and developed severe mental and emotional issues. Imagine learning you had been free for 2 years, 5 months, and 18 days, while you still endured forced labor, beatings, rape, and maybe even the separation of your families, by the Emancipation Proclamation. The latter is a factual occurrence, and today in a few hours, President Biden will sign that day, Juneteenth, into law as a national holiday. We celebrate President’s who owned slaves, the independence of the country from Great Britain, and now the freedom of humans from bondage and servitude, which was written into our Constitution. It is no small feat, and to diminish it is ignorant and in complete and total disrespect of our ancestors who waited 2 years, 5 months, and 18 days to hear their bodies and minds were, for the first time in their existence, their own. For at least 246 documented years, Black people, those of us with African roots, were considered no more or less valuable than family china and silver flatware. Juneteenth is our day of freedom.It is a holiday.

So instead of saying this is just a crumb, let’s recognize it for what it is. The making of a national holiday is not a small feat, ESPECIALlY when it’s very nature calls into the spotlight the very nature if the racist roots of America. The bill to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday was introduced on April 8, 1968 by Rep. John Conyers, and didn’t become law until 1983. Until 2000, many State’s still did not recognize it as a state holiday. It was the first holiday to recognize a person who was not a President, but likely most importantly, a Black person. It took years of dedication by Conyers, President Jimmy Carter, Coretta Scott King, Stevie Wonder, and a host of others to compel Congress to vote on snd pass the bill. This Juneteenth bill was first presented to Congress in 2020 by Democratic Senator Ed Markey. It was reintroduced in February by Rep Sheila Jackson and Senators Markey, Cory Booker, Tina Smith, and John Cornyn. The bill unanimously passed the Senate and 14 White male Republicans voted No in the House, where it passed by majority.

Of those 14, comments ran the gamut from the holiday being confusing, costing too much money to give federal workers another day off, separating people by race, and other assinine commentary. But my favorite came from Matt Rosendale, who stated: “This is an effort by the Left to create a day out of whole cloth to celebrate identity politics as part of its larger efforts to make Critical Race Theory the reigning ideology of our country. Since I believe in treating everyone equally, regardless of race, and that we should be focused on what unites us rather than our differences, I will vote no.”

What in the BIGGEST PIECE OF MALARKEY BULLSHIT is that Matt?!?

Critical Race Theory is a whole other conversation for another day, but let’s be very clear, capitalism, the reigning monetary ideology in America is built upon haves and have not. Justice, the fair and equitable process of law is given or not based on one’s race, color, nationality. What better way to convince society and people that they are superior and others inferior if you thwart opportunity, ability to earn, ability to own by human race distinctions, and actually allow other people to own people as assets. White supremacy and racism are the ideologies upon which America is built, and Critical Race Theory (CRT) is just a way to explain and support these facts with empirical data and real experiences. If that is uncomfortable for people, well one sure fire way to stop that is to stop using race as a factor in social and legal justice. Period. Juneteenth, by its nature, is necessary because our only internal war was fought based upon slavery, race, racism, white supremacy. These fools screaming about CRT don’t even know what it is, and are just scared their closet racism will get knocked out of the closet, and there is no pretty rainbow or pride in that secret.

Juneteenth is a part of US history. For many Black people, many of us, it’s a small crumb on a big plate of racial injustice. We want the whole Red Velvet. An anti-lynching law passed, the Voting Rights Act passed, a policing justice act passed, anti-housing discrimination law passed and equal pay act passed. But let’s not just gloss over how important it is to see our history celebrated and recognized. Let us not act like this isn’t important. We still have VERY much to fight for. We still need to see the memories of Emmett Till, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, James Boyd, and all of our fallen heroes honored with legislation and policy. We still need to see our HBCUs funded, entrepreneurial ideas credited with the capital we’ve been historically denied, and our voting processes equitable and votes as powerful as our neighbors. But this Saturday, I’ll feed my Black family some Faygo Red Pop, grilled meat, red potato salad, watermelon, and strawberry creme pie in recognition of the blood our ancestors shed on this land in servitude. Blood my ancestors shed on this land in servitude. Happy Juneteenth ya’ll!

Great Great Grandmother, Kitty Hayes, born into slavery

“Let us march on ’til victory is won.

Mothers Verzuz Fathers… don’t do this

So Swizz and Timbaland need to gather a bunch of Moms and a bunch of Dads to play out their greatest hits to see who should get the win?!? FOH.

I saw a post on FB comparing the depth of the celebration women get on Mother’s Day versus the perceived shallow nature of how much father’s are championed on Father’s Day. What in the entire patriarchy is this foolishness!? Are men really so SOFT (I said what I said) in 2021 that they are pouting about how big their Father’s Day celebration is? Are we serious…

First let me say this… I applaud all parents raising children who will be good and kind humans. All of us deserve a week off and a great vacation. That said, however, let’s please not get it twisted here. Mothers , across the board, EVERY board, are doing more work WITH CHILDREN… the whole point of that title…than Father’s. Ya’ll get paid more for the same work. Ya’ll get more accolades and rewards for the same amount of effort. Ya’ll are the the hoarders of power and control. But on THIS TOPIC here, we got you beat, and you have a mighty HUGE ego if you cannot see that our catalogue is bigger, likely better, and simply just deeper than yours.

From the moment after conception, women become vessels for the new life developing inside of them, and our bodies are no longer our own. Morning sickness, fear, worry, water retention, crying fits, weird cravings, swollen ankles, crazy gas and indigestion, doctor’s visits, maternity clothes, weight gain, nose spread, the pregnancy mask, hair growth and fallout, preeclampsia, bed rest, Braxton-Hicks contractions, mucous plugs, tender breasts, contractions, centimeters, epidurals, cesarean sections, the shoulders, the PAIN. Men gain a little weight and probably get yelled at a bit more than normal. Thass it. Then the baby is born…

Women breast-feed, and generally take on more child care responsibilities. Late night feedings, bath time, diaper changes, cleaning up spit up down their front and other stuff all up their backs. Fun times. Mother’s read more to their babies, and hold their babies more. So even as children grow more independent, they tend to cling to their mother’s emotionally as it is her heartbeat they seek when in distress, no matter how young or old they are. That connection is one that keeps mother’s responsible and attached to their children well into their adult lives. Even that job you work very very hard at, and your family appreciates you for it, once you retire you can cut ties. A mothers life is never again her own, she always shares some part of it with her children. Motherhood is an eternal job. That doesn’t make being a father less important, it makes it different. But in those differences rest the reasons for the differences in celebration.

Patriarchy has some men so dependent upon rewards and awards, that simply being able to see the fruit of your labor is not enough. There is no Mother’s Day gift or celebration I have had yet that rises to the level of the joy I have gotten seeing my child become a good and kind human. The flowers and dinner are nice, I appreciate them, but I don’t hinge my worth or importance as a mother upon them. If I were an absent mother, I’d get quadruple the amount of criticism absent father’s do. But fatherhood is still looked at as a choice men get to make, and motherhood is considered a responsibility of women. It is women who are asked… When are you gonna have a baby? Don’t you want kids? When are you gonna get married and have done kids? Men get to float freely through life without expectations of fatherhood or even marriage. So pick one, patriarchy or paternal tears. You cannot have both.

Be clear, I applaud all men and women participating in raising children. I personally know some awesome father’s and they get my utmost respect. Most of them, however, also acknowledge how much their children’s mothers do and have done to ensure their kid’s success. They would never complain or frankly even participate in some pissing contest about how much they are celebrated versus their wives/the mothers of their children/etc. I typically believe the people picking fights are the ones who hope their competition is so busy they’ll win by default. But this particular fight was lost before it started. Our bones and organs move to make room for a child to grow. Many of us forever suffer from aches and pains as a result. You ate too many donuts and had to buy bigger pants. You should ensure our celebration is bigger.

There are always one or two men complaining about what women get versus what they get. Don’t let the patriarchy get you in trouble… cuz we generally pay for those uglyass ties and mugs these babies pick for you, grinning and happy they get to select something for you. The sheer accomplishment on their faces when they hand you that gift should be celebration enough. The fact that we survived that miracle should be enough. The fact that some little person calls you Dad, should be enough. Don’t let the patriarchy fuck up your good thing.

But as far as this Verzuz… it’s like Lil Kim versus Lil Cease… this a Big Momma Thang!

Happy Father’s Day!!!!!

Ally McBeal

2020 was one of the most traumatic years for modern generation Black people.

COVID-19
death
isolation
George Floyd
Breonna Taylor
Armaud Arbery
School closings/at home school
Business closings
Antiblack racism
Donald Trump
Lack of professional diversity & inclusion

Black people made up over 27% of COVID cases and 60% of deaths in urban centers. Add to that, the deaths of unarmed Black people by police and the emotional trauma of waiting for justice, despite being used to injustice. How having to figure out how to facilitate school at home for children, often multiple children and work proved almost impossible. Then the blatant racism in the administration, towards the first Black female VP candidate, and in our workplaces… the amount of PTSD Black people had looming over their head was almost palpable like a nimbus cloud. In many cases it was the presence and recognition of our allies that made us felt seen outside of our own community on the larger national and world scale. I understand it can be hard for a person born with privilege to understand the reality of someone born with a biological truth that is a social and political disadvantage. However it is in the attempt, their education in the nation’s history of discrimination and racism, and the acceptance of their privilege that we can actually consider them a true ally. Our very own Ally McBeal.

I have one. I happen to work with her, in a place where I have experienced the worse racism and discrimination in my life. I didn’t pick her, she just decided she valued humanity over hatred. I have never asked her if she studied the art of allying or it just came natural to her, but she is very deliberate and purposeful in her role. I was registering for class today, and she had written me a letter of recommendation the selection committee praised and that seemed to describe some awesomely brilliant woman I didn’t even recognize as myself. I read it again waiting for my class to load and was reminded how important allies are… even when you are Blackity black, rooting for everybody Black, pro-Black, and dressed in all Black.

We’ll call her Ally, and this is the recipe for an ally.

First, Ally recognizes her privilege and deliberately educates herself about the experiences and realities of marginalized people to better understand the human experience. She is also very aware of her actions. During the Black Lives Matter protests, she actually mentioned that she felt bad she hadn’t marched, but was simultaneously afraid of COVID and unsure how to resolve the two. I was impressed with her compassion and awareness. I didn’t fault her for not going to a rally. I too stayed at home. However her level of self-awareness and her want to protest brutality against other people was impressive.

Second, she isn’t one of those “I don’t see color” folks, her eyes work, her prescription is current and valid. But she treats everyone equitably all the time. If you are an idiot… she’ll call it out, color lines be damned. If you are smart, she will also ensure you know she recognizes your skill. Her recommendation letters, gold star emails, and just simply her seeking out and acknowledging my intelligence and knowledge are always good to hear, but especially from someone I equally respect. An ally is not just, or may not even be, a friend… but stands in solidarity with you against the racist notions and actions that keep you from opportunity. Recognizing that your difference doesn’t make you lesser and them better… but simply different, and that difference is to be celebrated!

Third, my dear Ally is supportive of my pro-Blackness because she knows it does not mean I’m anti-White or against her in any way. She likes my social posts, reads some of my blogs, was willing to stand with me when I was being discriminated against, and is as against white supremacy and racism as I am. She can identify that my pride in myself, my culture, racial identity, and Black womanhood doesn’t infringe on her right to be proud of herself. We also share a place in womanhood that is at times just as difficult and complicated but rewarding as Blackness. Mostly, she knows that I don’t devalue her because she is White, but I appreciate her because she has used her privilege to help me, in what small ways she could. I appreciate her as is. That is what allyship is all about.

Now to convince her we should do this dance every time we see each other…

Bonnet Applebum

Ya’ll have taken bonnets so far… to places they never imagined they would go. Misgynoir. Hating Black women. False narratives. Freedom. Being chastised by a woman with her breasts hanging free in a robe on a video broadcast beyond just outside, but for everyone to see. My sweet babies never did anything to anybody but try to preserve your roller set while you slept. But like ya’ll do, it’s gone too far.

This is simple shit. Let me tell you what it is not before I tell you what it is. It’s not misogynoir. Stop it. Stop that now. So someone pointed out to me that it’s been said durags, the Black male version of a bonnet, are worn outside and haven’t received as much static. Others that the bonnet is just a stand in for anything that represents a Black woman’s freedom, and this backlash as a way to police our freedom by limiting our comfort. Nope and nope. Back in the late 90s when durags came in black and the occasional white, Black guys started wearing them under their caps, tied with the flap in the wind, or untied flaps to the side similar to a Nemes headdress worn by Egyptian pharaohs. In fact it’s designed in exactly the same style.

In 2001 and 2005, this primarily Black cultural item was banned by the NFL and NBA and then several school districts as gang related. This item made specifically to help lay down hair to create a 360 degree wave hairstyle, which was coincidentally (or not) started in ancient Egypt was not gang related but used as a tool of racism. So it cannot be said bonnets are receiving some unprecedented hatred. In protest, durags in multiple colors and styles started being worn by Black men and women. This isn’t new… but I would venture it is different.

Venture with me… take a walk if you will. The original version of “Bonita Applebum” by A Tribe Called Quest was rapped by Q-Tip in a typical rap cadence that confirmed to the beat. He read an 1985 issue of SPIN magazine with an interview with Miles Davis who spoke about using pauses, or moments of silence in the song, to create space for conversation between the notes, the instruments, or in this case, the words. When the song was mixed for the ATCQ first album, Q-Tip slowed down the cadence and used pauses to mimic having a conversation with a young lady about his interest in her. “Hey Bonita (pause) Glad to meet ya!”

Bonnets, Bonnets, Bonnets…

Bonnets aren’t being chastised by the White establishment as some object of racial negativity. This is mainly sistas talking to other sistas, a moment of pause, to create a conversation about the phenomenon of wearing hair bonnets outside as a head covering. Every sista doesn’t engage her peers in the most compassionate and understanding way… understood. However, this isn’t an attack, it’s an observation and the attempt at conversation. Women in my age range were taught that you don’t go outside representing yourself poorly… you can be unique,yourself, and comfortable while being the best version of yourself. There was a separation between what you did in the privacy of your home and how you showed up outside those doors. Women in younger generations seem to attach themselves to the IDGAF mantra, and present and dress however they want in any forum. Social media has blurred the lines of private and public and all of your life is on display, so there is no privacy. No one is trying to police Black women, but simply trying to understand and educate. The hair bonnet is a tool of self-care, like your perm rods to set your natural hairstyle, your nightgown, your unicorn slippers, your pajamas with the feet in them, or the little pieces of paper you stick to your face after you do your weekly facial. Self-care can be many things, and one of those things is engaging in sacred self rejuvenation to reenergize and reinvigorate. We typically emerge from these rituals ready for the opportunity that awaits us. Oh you fancy hunh?

And that doesn’t mean we present how men want us to, or White people want us to, but how we feel our best and most prepared selves. Being able to present that self to the world is freedom. She can be fresh faced or made up, hair natural or straight or brown or blue, clothing tailored or bohemian, pierced or tatted or bejeweled or thicker than a snicker. But she is prepared for the opportunities she wants to find her, so she can scoop them up and take advantage of them. The blurring of the private and public is real, but that doesn’t make everything private, it makes it ALL public. Saying mind your business is cute, but if I’m the one with the opportunity that you want, good luck with that! How you present is my business. Freedom is more than just doing what you want. Lots of people in jail did what they wanted…

Freedom is the ability to be our best self without constraint, to practice self-determination in a responsible and bold manner, and to have equitable access to the reservoir of opportunity. When our choice of head gear was being used to discriminate against and punish us along racial lines, we cut patterns out of floral velvet, lace, and rhinestone mesh and made a fashion statement of it. When our hairstyles were being banned at work we made noise, made our natural hair a cultural phenomenon, and got legislation passed to protect our right to wear our hair as it grows from our head or any other way we choose. But labeling bonnet gate some kind of ministry against Black women by some phantom Black woman hater is bordering on the dramatic. Mainly because it’s us heeding the call. I don’t hate Black women… I am a Black woman with a drawer full of bonnets, naturally curly hair, and an occasional bad hair day. Yet I despise seeing women in bonnets in public.

Now I’m not gonna sweet baby you to death and approach you about the bonnet on your head in Target. I am not gonna do a bonnet call to action. I’m not going to tell you what you cannot do… you certainly can wear a bonnet in public. But I am going to tell you that object was not made for outside wear. That object is a tool of comfort, and if you feel most comfortable in it, more power to you, but chances are you are hiding or protecting what’s underneath it. If you are hiding it, trust that the bonnet is worse. If you are trying to preserve your curls for your date night, trust that ain’t the way. There are a bevy of scarves and headwraps made so that you can do just that, and still present like the free woman you are, who does and wears what she wants, who is ALSO prepared to meet all the best opportunities the world may offer you at any moment. You are best prepared for that with your bonnet on your bedside table. Trust me.

What I am not interested in though, ever… is the false narratives we didn’t author being the reason why we make choices. What White people or men think… which is often the underlying idea… especially when those thoughts are teamed with racial and sexual stereotypes and biases, should never be our raison d’être. Ever. Fuck racism and sexism twice. That is not our ministry. Everything that centers Black women does not have to be about or regarding negativity surrounding our Blackness and our womanhood. Black women are highly policed in terms of how we present. Black women are also highly criticized for how we look while simultaneously mimicked by the most famous White women in the world. So I get it, but this isn’t that. This is simply another sista reminding you who you are, what our freedom looks like, and how we can seek and express that freedom responsibly and boldly free from racist and sexist gaze. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves, especially our younger selves, that our freedom, my sweet babies, doesn’t look like anyone else’s… it’s intersectional, complicated, and more nuanced. Let’s not confuse us reminding each other who we are for misogynoir. That’s not hot. And you can accept it or reject it, but I’m gonna always put you on…

If you can’t stand the heat…

“Women want too much”

“Black women are too aggressive”

“Older women with children aren’t desirable”

“Less than perfect women should not expect to be protected and provided for by a man”

“Strong women don’t intimidate men… unless she thinks strong means aggressive, rude, unpleasant, and outspoken”

Strong, old, Black, too short, too tall, too big, too skinny, and just people with vaginas say a rousing… Fuck you! The Trumps, Richard Spencers, Robert Fischers, Kevin Samuels, Umar Johnsons and all the men who subscribe to their particular brand of women hating can also grab a seat on the Fuck You train. Men who have taken credit for women’s accomplishments, deemed us too weak and not smart enough, or James Evan’ed us to the kitchen and the bedroom instead of the lectern, boardroom, classroom, or wherever the hell we wanted to be… fuck ya’ll too! Check this out, real men don’t sit around dissecting and dictating who and what women should and can be. Men with time to focus on what women are doing or not doing should perhaps find another job, lift some weights, pick up a hammer or chisel, do some carpentry or masonry, or choke on BBQ smoke. Pick one.

Sexism is a tale as old as time. Before a White man ever thought about enslaving a Black man, he was controlling his wife. Many extremely smart women in the 19th century and early 20th century never married, such as Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Caroline Hershel, or their accomplishments were credited to their husbands. Women feigned being dense or dim-witted to marry, because men weren’t interested in smart women, but women who would bear them heirs, look pretty on their arm, curtsy, and make a good biscuit for their tea. Sadly, not much has changed. Women who champion feminism and the rights of women, or those whose successes brought about the need for that championing are looked at as aggressive, masculine, independent, and uninterested in male companionship, marriage, child-bearing, and things the patriarchy paints as feminine. This is true across racial lines, and especially true, a remnant of both racism and sexism, for Black women.

Here is a truth… as a collective, NO other group of women in history have been as abandoned and abused, and then victim blamed as Black women. None. Our victimization has been at the hands of men: men in power, particularly White men, and men we share blood or affinity to, particularly Black men. Those are facts. Slavery separated us from our ancestral families in Africa and the ones we created in America. We were forced to bear the slave children of our Masters, creating an emotional wedge between us and our slave husbands. The Civil War left us without husbands, alone to raise children, who fought on the front lines for a country that would never treat us fairly. Jim Crow and Black Codes destroyed the communities of color we built, leaving us destitute and unable to feed, clothe, and house ourselves. Black women were forced to take on maid and mammy roles while Black men were forced out of the job market. Desperation and unjust laws left them jailed and us alone to raise kids with no men in the home, practically destroying the Black nuclear family.

Today, remnants of watching our single mothers struggle but persevere while knowing our father’s chose not to participate in our family reside just under the surface. We watched our brother’s take on man roles in a child’s body, and now see them struggling to overcome the stigma of incarceration. We remember our uncles, real and play, teaching them that manhood was about how many women, cars, and dollars you could stack and never showing emotion, compassion, or vulnerability. We see them mistreating our friends and sisters, helping themselves to whatever we have and leaving us worse off than we started. We stay at Friend of the Court trying to get them to help buy a pack of diapers or help pay for DeVanté, who looks just like his trifling ass, go to the private school so he can be a doctor like he always talks about. Before you get in your feelings, YES, there are plethora of Black men, men period, who are excellent husbands, fathers, friends, and leaders. We salute you!!! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 But for any man to spend his time determining that how we broadcast strength and resilience is wrong and indicative of our worth, without acknowledging what we have been through… he might want to consider that he is just further victimizing us with his judgement and patriarchal bullshit. Fuck you guy.

You want us in the kitchen frying your pickerel in lace underwear, real booty banging, hair laid (and it can be weave as long as you can’t tell), smiling and calling you King. But fish grease pops, so when we put our clothes back on we are rude, when we tie our hair back we are aggressive, and when we stop smiling we are rude. No, we just got fucking burned… but we keep on cooking. It’s you who can’t stand the heat bruh… so back your ass up out of the kitchen until your balls drop, you can grab them, and come help me tend to my burns. Until then, keep your fucked up opinions to yourself. How I exhibit strength is MY BUSINESS. If you don’t like it, then go find a woman you like, cuz the fact that you are talking about it MEANS that you are single af. Figure out why that is before you lay out your philosophy on why some woman, you don’t want, acts in a way you don’t agree with. Newsflash… she likely doesn’t give a fuck!

Your homework: Before you write a dissertation on why certain women are so undesirable, figure out why nobody wants you?!?

Women are always caping for men… all women. We keep your secrets, help you hide bodies, and cover your abuse with Maybelline… because we want to help make you better before we give up in you. But we are sick of your abuse, your judgements, your dominion… and we won’t continue to be your victims. We can be bad by ourselves. We can choose who and what we want to be. We can exist, live and breathe and walk and talk, without seeking your approval. And the entire truth is…

“Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” 1 Corinthians 11:9.

Get it right!