Even Glow Sticks Break

“Her favorite thing to say, don’t worry I got it.” Neyo, Miss Independent
(That’s likely not her favorite thing to say. Try again. )

“You never ask for anything.”
Translation: You got it, you don’t need anything!
(Wrong again, everyone needs something at some time.)

She’s Self-Sufficient, Reliable, Responsible, a Perfectionist, Uber-Successful, Fearless. Did I mention self sufficient!
She’s the quintessential “Strong Black Woman”
(Call it what you want but it’s exhausting AF,cuz…)

The Strong Black Woman is every Black woman, some Black women, and no Black woman. She’s a mythical figure just like her superhero status. She’s a combination of the mule, the woman who has to work twice as hard to get 1/2 the success because she’s Black and female, the caped crusader, and a dope ass chica. She’s a role model modeled after roles past. She’s supposed to be the the antithesis of the Welfare Queen, the skeezer, or your trifling ass cousin who always needs to borrow money, but has the best Peruvian Wave bundles with the flawless closure. The a Strong Black Woman is rabbit in the hat magic, not Black girl magic! Hocus pocus.

Reality is better than fiction. She is strong and weak. She is independent and reliant, responsible and irresponsible, perfection at moments and mediocre at others, fearless and fearful. She is not one thing. She is all the things. Her humanity makes her better than any leotard clad superhero.

And contrary to popular belief, sometimes she does…Need something.

“I get by with a little help from my friends“-The Beatles

Sometimes we need something, someone. Sometimes we need someone other than our mother to ask us how we are doing. Chances are we are checking up on and checking for, many more people who just assume that we’re good because we are presumed superheroes without capes. The fact is that, we aren’t invisible, we can’t walk through walls, don’t fly, and can’t freeze people. We don’t have special powers that give us any more time in a day to accomplish something worthwhile.

Sometimes we need someone to recognize that being the person that gives and is available to, and is often called upon by, other people all the time, and never asks for it to be reciprocated struggles sometimes. We struggle with exhaustion and with loneliness. Very rarely do people reach out to us, check on us, ask us what we might need. And by nature we just aren’t the type to ask, but instead start processing how to get what we need before the need arises. But it’s just simply decent to check on folks who check on you.

It takes a lot of time and energy and internal focus to be this responsible. Yet it is expected of us like its simple. We are expected to do well, when mediocrity is accepted from others. We are expected to put in more effort, work ourselves until exhaustion, and risk our lives and health. And sadly, we get used to it. We are used to validating, not receiving validation, so we don’t broadcast our successes. Be clear, validation isn’t the goal. Most of our validation, 95%, comes from the actual accomplishment of the goal. But instead of calling us strong, call us successful, smart, accomplished. High five us for that awesome job. Stop feuling narcissists, another topic for another day, and show up for the folks who show up for you!

Don’t check on me because I’m your strong friend… just do it because you care. Let me know you see me. No fanfare needed, just a lil …

“I’m good all by myself… but ” Neyo

Yes, mostly I’m good. Mostly I’m good and I’m a movement. I get shit done. I get shit done in grand style. I set and break the curve. All that. But every once and awhile I need some help… and believe me as much as you think I don’t, I wish I didn’t. Eventually you start to believe you really are Wonder Woman, Super Girl, Miss Indie Pendant. But alas, superheroes are fictional.

So we have to learn to accept help. We have to be open to it, unashamed about needing help, and willing to embrace it fully and completely as a gift to my forward progress. Needing support doesn’t make us weak or incapable. Accepting help doesn’t make us needy or dependent. Realizing that despite our search for perfection, we will always fall short, and we are sent help mates the same way we are sent as help mates is imperative to our success. Alot of chess pieces surround the Queen so she in turn can do her job. She doesn’t act alone! She truly gets by with a little help from her friends…

As great as you are solo, imagine how much greater you could be with the right people in your corner…” I’m a force when we’re together!

May the force be with you! Glow baby…

Dressed in All Black like the Omen

So what is NOT EVER gonna happen is that we will not be sacrificing ourselves for fools, okay.

I’ll be brief because this really won’t take long.

I have called my mother, my girls, or whoever hurt by some raggedy ass boy who thought it was okay to disrespect me, lie to me, deceive me, play with my emotions, or fuck with me. I have a few times. And each and every time, at least one of those people threatened to bust that jokers head to the white meat, or dangle him over a balcony like Big Red… my office hours are. And while I likely didn’t want harm to come to him, they truly did.

They were .02 seconds from getting dressed like ninjas, grabbing blunt objects, piling up in the car like circus clowns, but sans the colorful outfit and red nose, and riding out. I know this because they have called me with the same nonsense from some fool who got the incorrect impression that he was the prize and the beauty in that tandem. Well, if he’s the beauty, then call me the beast. It’s a tale as old as time, that boys will be boys. But like the saying goes, boys will be boys and that’s why God made hot grits and shanks.

Act up you can get snatched up.

In 2020 we are anti-tomfoolery. So gentleman, please act accordingly. Women are to be respected, treated with kindness and tenderness, and loved. If you can’t do that, pick someone else, but leave her/me/us alone. Mmmkay. Otherwise, you are susceptible to being two pieced by her friends, sister, mother… allofus.

He that findeth… and if you find someone who you cannot treat properly then you owe it to her and yourself to let her go, so that you both can make room for the right person. But at no time is it acceptable to mistreat her. At no time is it acceptable to disrespect her. And if you even think about touching her in any way other than out of love, then I hope you like nub sandwiches because you’ll be missing fingers.

We won’t be allowing our sistafriends to hurt in solitude or be mistreated in silence. While you are taking advantage of the woman who supports you and has her shit together except for falling for you, we know how y’all do. You treat these thot pockets like gold, and have the nerve to compare our hustle to her handstands. Nope, nope, and nope. That’s not how any of this goes… but until either you get the memo or she drops your potato head ass, we will support her and plan your disappearance. At the same damn time. No hesitation. And let Sasha Thumper know she can get it too, live and in living color.

And ladies, if you have a partner who treats you well, cares for you, expresses his feelings, and his actions co-sign… then reciprocate. We can’t be out her cracking skulls for you when you are acting a damn fool!

Love each other, cuz the only pouring out we acknowledge is garnished with a lemon wedge and mini umbrella… while your friends singing ‘this is for my homies’!

Girls are gully out here in these streets showing up and out for our good sistafriends. Be clear!

Where my girls at?

Relationships 301: Lessons Learned

So I’m super private. There are some things I just don’t think it’s necessary to share… mainly anything about my relationships. Even people I do talk to about it only know bits and pieces, usually until it’s over, and even then I don’t share much. As I have experienced more, I realize how many lessons there are in the journey. And lessons definitely need to be shared…

I am a relationship girl… I am my best when I have a partner because alone I can tend to be so self sufficient I’m not very receptive to others and their needs. I know, I know, you can’t imagine that…but it’s fact. Sharing a space for three years in college, sharing all my organs, womb, and every ounce of personal space I’ve ever had with my son, and working at building a partnership in a marriage and other partnerships I have been in, have certainly broken me out of some of that. Notice I said some. As my child becomes more self-sufficient, and any time I spend single and available, I can easily slip back into that mode. So I believe that the universe sends me people I was meant to learn from to prepare me for this moment.

I was once married. I’m not now. Things happened. But I met a man with his own home, ten years on the job, investments, what seemed like a fellow self-sufficienteer. But I soon realized that a lot of that was perpetrated by someone else as work by his own steam. So I was expected to help a grown man do things I thought he knew how to do. But if you know anything about me, that’s not gonna fly. So we fought, and soon our verbal fights turned to his attempts to strike or physically harm me. At that first moment, I planned my exit. So early on I learned that every relationship, EVEN every marriage is not for a lifetime. Til “death” do us part might simply mean until the death of this union… or the death of my ability to function in this union. That’s certainly the case for me… and no one can tell me otherwise. Opinions are like assholes.

After marriage I was what you’d call a serial long distance monogamist. I dated a dude in Atlanta, one in Phoenix, and one right around the corner but emotionally distant. I cannot say I didn’t know that going in though, if I’m honest. Part of their unavailability was the draw… because I wasn’t sure what I wanted either. I thought I could live in Atlanta, that a change would be good. Nope. He thought moving back to Detroit from Phoenix on some whole Captain Save’em mission was what I desired… but I didn’t need saving and I wasn’t ready to give up my Captain’s hat. This rig was mine to control and I liked it that way. Plus he’d have just run us into an iceberg or some dumb shit. The other dude, well… again I was aware he was not available and to some degree neither was I, until I was, and at that point he was no longer a viable option. Nevertheless, this period taught me that it’s better to be alone than to give or have a portion of a person. We often split ourselves into bits and pieces and spread those bits and pieces over fertile ground to see what will grow, and the answer is NOTHING! We must be whole, ready, and open or any relationship is just an exercise in futility.

So I settled in singledom… and true story I asked for a love like my first love or none at all. It was so honest and raw. It was without pretense, neither of us knew about sending our representatives or being anything other than who we were. We met on a Friday and we saw each other almost every single day for a year until I went away to college, and although we tried, that proved just too great a distance to overcome. They say ask not, want not, and from that ask, that very guy, sent me a message out of nowhere. Yet, it was out of everywhere. Out of the universe. Sent from the heavens. And we have not missed a beat since…

Who and What we have become was only possible through the experiences we gained apart. When we talk we often wonder what if, should have, could have… matters not. The truth is that WHAT IS is all that matters. Now is the only time that matters. That is what dictates when, how, where, and what. If your right now is not where you want to be, be assured if you have put in effort to your expectations, it’s where you are meant to be. Keep living. Id gladly hit restart and experience all that over again to end up here. It’s the first moment I have felt like now is mine. He’s the first person who has assured me, without words, that if I let my guard down, he’ll protect the fort.

Lessons learned. Now back to my privacy!

The 2020 Commandments

So we are just a few shawt hours from 2020, and reflection is important for growth. So, in my search for growth I’m looking back at all the foolishness, success, good, bad, and fucking ugly that permeated 2019. The truth is, I allowed too many people to test my gangsta and too many unnecessary disruptions to my peace. So let’s talk about it.

I call these

1. Thou shalt not let clowns into your personal space, cuz that’s called a circus. I vowed to become more friendship open in 2019 and more forgiving. I did both and I realized that while being open is the key to allowing the space for blessings, you still gots to be careful about who you extend yourself too, and how. Everyone ain’t for everybody. Lemme repeat it… everyone ain’t for everybody. Some people will be good to talk to, others good to share with, others good to fellowship with, and some good for all three. Likewise, some of these folks are good for absolutely nothing. Nothing. When you recognize them, don’t expect time or your presence to change that…

2. Thou shalt not expect without effort. You gotta put in work for what you want, none of the shit… not money, success, mental health, physical fitness, love, or a good life is available in a giveaway… period.

3. Thou shalt not keep your eye on everything BUT your money … Here’s the thing… financial health is linked to overall health. Ones ability to eat well, take time out for self-care, and be mentally well is linked to how well we set ourselves up for financial success. When having and access to the basic necessities are not a concern, you are freer to concentrate on higher level needs to take your quality of life into the stratosphere. Take a stocks class. Learn about real estate and investing.

4. Thou shalt not let people treat you bad. Ever! Protect and love yourself enough to dismiss them at the first sign of mistreatment. It’s not your job to heal other folks by taking their shit and sticking around to your destruction.

5. Thou shalt not treat other people bad. Release anyone in your space that you won’t treat with ultimate respect and honor. They are not for you. It’s not their fault, but be in charge of your own life and responsible for your emotions and actions.

6. Thou shalt not remain unhealed. No explanation needed.

7. Thou shalt not let people get away with fuck shit. So here’s the thing, you don’t have to be nasty to get with somebody about their ridiculousness. You might be the only person who cares enough to let them know, so they can fix it. So tell your friends when they are out of order. Call your family out on their generational curses. Let people know you are many things, but never the one to fuck with.

8. Thou shalt not hold grudges. Forgive. Give grace if you decide to. But holding on to anger about other folks actions is pointless.

9. Thou shalt not withhold self love. You are worthy.

10. Thou shalt not compare yourself to other people. We each get a unique set of qualities put together in a package unlike what any one else has. That’s yours… work with that, better it, and worry not about other folks. Where they are, what they have, how they look, talk, or walk. That’s theirs. It’s space for all of us to be great. No one will ever have your unique brand of greatness.

11. Thou shalt use your words. Maybe you know some but I don’t know any mind readers.

12. Thou shalt not EVER apologize for who you are. Sometimes you have to apologize for the actions you take or the things you say… but who you are, who you really are is always ok. Be clear though… if you are allowing yourself to act and talk like an asshole, fix that…

13. Thou shalt not give your all to anyone giving you crumbs. If someone doesn’t want your friendship or partnership, they should walk away or you should. Only users are willing to eat from the pot and never add any ingredients.

14. Thou shalt not look for other people to give you what you should be giving yourself. That goes for love, happiness, wealth, health, whatever. Do your work. You will attract what you need in a partner when you provide for yourself.

15. Thou shalt not be unkind or unloving. We are made in God’s image to treat other people with the same kindness and love we receive from Him. In any and every situation we must be good to each other on a basic level. It’s a choice to be anything other than… no one makes us into hateful ass people, we choose to be that.

16. Thou shalt not be greedy with knowledge. Each one teach one. Let’s get communal and share what we have learned with others, so we build great people, families, neighborhoods, communities, and nations.

17. Thou shalt not mistake a win for a loss. We often feel like we have missed out, caught an L, had something taken away… when in fact we have won because that thing, that person, that feeling was not meant for us. Had it stayed any longer it may have destroyed a piece of us, but instead we were protected from its harm. Things don’t go away because we are meant to suffer because of its absence but instead because we cannot learn and grow in its presence.

18. Thou shalt not lack understanding. In Supreme Mathematics, understanding is the manifestation of wisdom gained by knowledge, which is seen and felt as love. When you know who you are, and you know your purpose, you share that with the world and it’s your gift of service to humanity. No greater human love is there than giving of yourself… extend that to others. You can never go wrong. (And no one not Muslim or a Five Percenter by faith but I am definitely striving to become a beacon of knowledge to those around me so we all reach our truest self.)

19. Thou shalt not be a hater ever! It’s enough out here for all of us.

20. Thou shalt not be lame. Take a risk. Open up. Laugh out loud. Wear sequins on a Tuesday. Wear white when you want to. Tell that clown to beat it. Stay ready. Don’t wait on slow mofos. And don’t just stand there, busy a MF move!

2019 was definitely about growth.

2020 will be about manifestation. Thou shalt manifest #thatnewshit in 2020!

Hart of the Matter

So have y’all watched the Kevin Hart documentary? Well if not, I’m about to talk about it so come back after you watch it. Anyway, I am a few episodes in and I see a lot of commentary on his cheating scandal and his wife, Eniko Hart’s reaction and commentary. His cheating…yet her words are at issue.

His.cheating.

This isn’t a bash Kevin Hart thing… trust, I understand that people make mistakes and have lapses of good judgement. Bad decisions. People also should own and admit responsibility for their chosen failures and seek whatever redemption is necessary. Seems like he has done the latter. He also clearly strives to be a better husband and a much better father to his children than what he witnessed. Props for that. Mad props. But be clear… his indiscretions don’t make his wife or anyone BUT HIM at fault or in any way responsible for his shitty behavior. His shit.

The Blame Game…

I’m happy now that it kind of happened… he’s a better man now because of it“-Eniko Hart

Her reaction and her grace towards him are her own and she has every right to it. Now… be clear… I don’t understand that shit at all. At all. Sure someone might learn from their mistakes and be dedicated to making good decisions, I get that. But there is no way I personally would be happy to be cheated on. No way. I can’t say if I’d stay or not, because I’m not having any more kids and I’m not with someone who has cheated. However, I can assure you that happy would not be on my list of emotions. But again, her right.

More importantly, given the circumstances of the situation, learning about it via social media, being pregnant, the extortion from his longtime friend, fame, and the very public embarrassment, let’s not act like this situation is your typical, run of the mill, situation. It is not. She was put in a horrible position at the worst possible time. Yet there is something about the growth and betterment she speaks of that is reminiscent of what tends to happen to and with women in these situations. It’s what makes her words sad.

So very often women’s actions are torn apart and analyzed as if they made the indescretion. That is unfair and riddled with sexism and the hatred of women. More importantly, women are expected to forgive and then give accolades for a man changing his behavior when that change came at her expense. That too is unfair and riddled with sexism and the hatred of women. Search Twitter for #KevinHart and tons of women make these points, but very few men. Men need to hear from other men that their mistreatment of women and toxic masculinity is bullshit. Men and women cheat, it’s wrong af. Women rarely get out of that unscathed from being called a whole whore. It is often excused for men.

You could see in her face she ingested his responsibility to be good to her by excusing his behavior. Because that kind of hurt will land and reside somewhere, you could see it in her emotions, on her face, and hear it in her words, her voice. So often when men, especially celebrity men are unfaithful, their women are left to bear the brunt of the blame in some way or another.

“I don’t have my circle around me… when your circle is around you it’s kinda hard to do stupid shit… I didn’t have nobody with me.” -Kevin Hart

Everyone needs to own up to their shit. All of it. We should also not be blaming our inability to not cheat on our pregnant wife on other dudes. Nope.

See, THIS type shit is why people are side-eyeing him a bit harder after this documentary. He briefly talks about how he hurt his wife, but more focus is put on the extortion attempt because there was a videotape of the incident allegedly by a close friend. He and his friends repeatedly say it is because they were not there. Nope. He had ALL the responsibility to remain faithful to his pregnant wife. Hopefully behind closed doors his friends called him on his shit… and didn’t just emphasize their absence but his presence somewhere he did not belong. It’s not just about something unnecessary happening to him that hurt his image… he did this to his family… he betrayed his wife during one of the most fragile times of her life. And the dude who videotaped it is extra special foul. But that man did not make him cheat on his wife either. Stop it.

How about this: Don’t cheat…. period. Alone or with friends. In Vegas or LA. Famous or regular. Male or female.

The heart of the matter is this… Own your shit and protect others from its stink!

Be Culturally Appropriate

Sooooooooooooooooo… we are gonna have a great Christmas free of foolishness. But before we do, there was this.

And I have opinions.

What in all the Dorothy, Diahann, Diana, and Eartha is this fuckery. She is darker than me, and both my parents are Afros and Black Panther Party Black. This is a public service announcement to White Women everywhere, in the Americas and beyond…

NOPE!

You cannot have my beauty without my ashes.
You cannot have my pleasure without my pain.
You cannot have my hip without my hop.
You cannot have my rhythm without my blues.
You cannot have my triumph without my testimony.

There is so much to say. This is rooted in oppression… it’s rooted in disrespect and dismissal of all that we are.

I (the universal Black woman) have been told that you are the epitome of aesthetic beauty. Thin features, thin body, long straight hair, light skin, light colored eyes. So much so that your beauty idols were used to portray our historical idols. Cleopatra.

We were only considered beautiful if we resembled you in some way… despite your attempts to look like us.

Tans. Melanin.
Lip plumpers. Full lips.
Teased hair. Crowns of curls.
Corsets. Natural curves.

Yet, our heads filled with the message that we paled in comparison. So we cut our Jackson Five nostrils in half. Starved our curvy bodies slim. Straightened our locks. Lightened anything we could. Our blond hair a choice perhaps because we like it or maybe to look more like you. And even if it’s in some attempt to look more like you, it’s not in mimicry but in a traumatic search for aesthetic acceptance. That pain is deeper than any you will ever understand. But trust, it’s not in an effort to appropriate your culture. My blond hair is not in absence of understanding that lil Timmy calling you a bitch in Target is heinous or Weinstein using his power over your success to bed you simply because you are female is rapey bullshit. We’d gladly volunteer to beat either of their asses for you. But trust anything we might do to model you is in complete presence of our own trauma.

You want no part of our trauma… to understand it, consider it, or better yet to stand in protest of it. But you want to steal our image as your own. An image we fought to find and recognize beauty and power in. You can’t borrow it. It’s not for sale. Your boxer braids are cornrows. Africa… not Bo Derek. Your mini buns are Bantu knots. Bantu tribe … not Khloe Kardashian. Your hair clips are Bobby pins. Doobie wraps not whatever the fuck you call it. Your white Cleopatra is an African Queen. Egyptian… not Elizabeth Taylor, Claudette Colbert, or Vivian Leigh.

So stop it. Tell your friends. It’s not honorable… it’s disrespectful. Fenty 340 is not your color.., so don’t come outta makeup looking like your parents might be named Tyrone and Mercedes. Kanye, Travis Scott, or whatever Black football or basketball players you have Black children by can’t make it ok.

Be culturally appropriate!

This ends the PSA… be well!

Love & Marriage… and Divorce

I happened upon this online “conversation” of sorts about divorce being people “giving up” while I was catching up on Black Love, the show on OWN. It was an odd coincidence that gave me pause. It’s really interesting to see the inside of people’s marriages and how they got there in a way you typically never do. More inspiring is the way they have dealt with the obstacles in their relationships. I listened as many of them considered divorce at one stage of another of their marriages. If you don’t know that struggle… consider yourself lucky but the consideration and decision are a lot of things, but giving up isn’t one of them.

First comes Love, the comes marriage… and sometimes later comes divorce … hopefully and prayerfully not.

Here’s the thing… if you have not experienced any one of the three, you really cannot with wisdom and full understanding, attest to what the experience is like. And while everyone’s love, marriage, and divorce is different, there are some commonalities that exist that really define the experience.

Love

Let’s first clear this up. Love is not defined by physical desire for another person. Period. Love is not made in words. Period.

Love is an action. It is defined by someone’s consideration of you, consistency with you, their constant intention to understand you and show their affection and connection in ways that you best receive them. We often use words such as respect, loyalty, communication, touch, quality time, sacrifice, etc. to describe the actions people who love you show you. But ultimately all those things are included in consideration, consistency, connection, and understanding.

Life is not sustained without relationships, which are not sustained without love. It is the most essential building block of life… water, food, shelter, clothing, and love. We romanticize love so much that we see it only as an emotional outpouring of devotion and adoration… and while that may be how some people demonstrate love, it’s far deeper than that. True love is a demonstration of acceptance and understanding. Accepting a person as they come and navigating growth and change with them even when it doesn’t reflect the growth or change you expected and seeking to fully understand who they are completely and loving them more because of it.

Marriage

Love alone does not sustain a marriage… let’s start there! A marriage is also not a continuation of a romantic relationship. It is a cleaving of two people into one. Now what that looks like and how it is done is completely up to those two people. Completely. The terms they set upon their marriage spiritually, financially, physically, sexually, and otherwise are based on their values, morals, traditions, and needs. But unless they are one, and operate as a unit, most marriages won’t work. Two people operating from two different spaces and places in time won’t be able to navigate the terrain that is life as a team. Life is a series of hills and valleys, mountains and deep sea dives that tend to happen for two people simultaneously or not at the worst times. Only a tandem working as a unit can pull one person from a lightening bolt onto the other’s rising cloud… or can ride that lightening bolt like surfers until they can jump off and pull their parachutes together.

For Black people especially, many of our ancestral notions and images of marriage and partnership were lost when we were brought to America. We have taken on very “American” individualistic views of not just marriage but success and life, while our ancestors were very much communal in nature. We were kept from the more European notions of intermarriage for wealth building that the wealthy American families practiced, and still practice, to maintain their position in society. African families and the community at large surrounded married couples with foundational support to help them navigate through changes and issues during the marriage. We lack that as a culture. I could see how the couples who had that kind of support flourished, not only on Black Love, but in real life.

But sometimes no matter how much they try, the pairing wasn’t right, they just don’t fit like puzzle pieces, so they never fully come together as one. Read it clear… despite trying their best.

Divorce

Listen… I know a lot of divorced men and women who would be in jail or dead if they were still married to their former spouses. When you label those people as quitters, you disrespect their journey and their choices. Until you walk a mile in my shoes…

Some people can forgive and move on from cheating, that doesn’t make them better it makes them different. Some people can recover from financial, emotional, or even physical abuse, but others cannot. I personally have a very deep rooted sense of loyalty that will not allow me to be unfaithful. I would rather tell you the entire truth, so you know that no matter if my personal decision hurts you, I would never deceive you or make choices for you. In fact, my main goal would be to make choices that bring joy to us both, but if I’m unable to do that, you can’t ever say I betrayed you. Ever. So of course, I cannot accept betrayal. You don’t get to tell me that a walking alway from betrayal makes me a quitter. To me, that’s much more than “for worse”… that’s a dealbreaker, a covenant cleaver, the dismantling of the unit.

The same is true for many people who experience trauma in the marriages: abuse, financial ruin, patriarchy, family and friend interference, infidelity… when the things that we enter the marriage valuing the most are broken and battered we have every right to evaluate whether this is where we belong. Life is too short to stay with someone who does not value and honor you, because even through tough times, those things should remain true. If marriage is the penthouse, the basement is friendship, and upon that foundation everything is built. When you are no longer friends… well, your whole house is bound to cave in. Deciding to take your half of the bricks and build again is not giving up. It’s starting anew.

“Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage.” One pulls, one rides, and we take turns pulling and riding, until the wheels fall off. Sometimes, the wheels fall off and we realize that horse was never the best to pull that carriage, so we make other plans. Other times, those bad boys fall off, we get more, and we keep pulling and riding, riding and pulling into the sunset. And just maybe, hopefully, we’ll inspire those carriage-less horses and horse-less carriages to pull and ride again someday!

Or maybe they’ll just say fuck this and get a car.

Beats, Rhymes …. and Percocets

…drugs are a symptom of an underlying issue. You see it in hip-hop…. These kids come from nothing. Young black men experience a lot of trauma. They’ve lost people, seen violence, been humiliated by society. So they turn to alcohol, molly … lean.”-Vic Mensa

90s – Ten Crack Commandments

Drugs are not new to hip hop. In the 90s, hip hop was inundated with drug dealers turned rappers and their reality based rap, labeled “gangsta rap” to conservatives, that told their real stories slinging everything from weed, crack, and heroine, always strapped, and kicking in the door.The lyrics and beats were raw, with samples were from urban records that were played while their parents had card parties and drank Cisco and Olde E in the basement with blue lights.

Jay-Z
Biggie
Snoop
Ice Cube
Ice-T
Jeezy
50cent
Eazy E
T.I.
Members of Wu Tang
The Clipse
Master P
Game

… have all rapped about life as drug dealers. It’s a very common phenomenon. In the 90s on the urban streets of LA, the South, or New York, hip hop culture was taking over and the crack epidemic was live and in living color… so it’s no surprise the world’s collided. So common, Master P made a song with a recipe to “make crack like this” and Biggie gave us the Ten Crack Commandments, rules of the game. While UGK gave us the process of drug selling from connect, to seller, to addict in Pocket Full of Stones. Many of the first rap conglomerates were funded with the proceeds of drug sales. Rap was a way out of that life for most of these rappers. The music industry gave these dudes a legit way to make money and a legal opportunity to flex their stellar business skills.

I used to move snowflakes by the O-Z/I guess even back then you can call me/CEO of the R-O-C.” -Jay-Z

2000- Sipping on Some Sizzurp

Old school guys talked of smoking weed by the pound, but “never [got] high on [their] own supply”, so stories of partaking of heavy drugs laced the lyrics until….

Enter… lean.

Lean … a concoction made of some combination of codeine cough syrup, candy, and pop (soda for the non Michigan folks)… also known as sizzurp, a popular Texas drug cocktail, gained popularity after Texas rappers Three6Mafia and UGK made the song Sipping on some Syrup in 2000. It was a concoction famous in Houston since the 60s, when it was made with Robitussin and fruit juice . We all know a little Tussin could cure everything from a cold to an ingrown toenail… or at least dull the pain. After it’s formula was changed, prescription codeine cough syrup was substituted and often taken in combination with other drugs and alcohol for a deadly combination. Popular Houston musician DJ Screw, famous for his chopped and screwed songs died of an overdose of lean in 2000.

Lean induced a mouthfeel (that’s what I have read cuz ain’t no way I’m drinking this gasoline) that slurred speech and slowed the motor coordination of the tongue. It’s also said to cause feelings of floating. Such was the music. You can hear the influence of the drugs on chopped and screwed songs … the slowed down and sort of disorganized and slurred beats. Listen to Still Tippin Chopped and Screwed by Mike Jones…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_pTxh4HXv0&feature=share

It spread in popularity in the South as young rappers from New Orleans, Florida, and Atlanta could be seen with a styrofoam cups they sipped from in videos, interviews, and concerts. The potent mix was said to cause everything from liver and respiratory failure to seizures and ultimately could cause death. Many professional rappers and athletes have admitted to being users and suffering health complications as a result.

Yeah, I’m on that gas and yeah, I’m on that lean. We mix it all together and we call it gasolean -2Chainz

2007- I Feel Like Dying

In 2007, Lil Wayne was experiencing his opus. He was literally and figuratively flying high after releasing The Carter II , several popular mixtapes, and appearing on every hot feature and remix. He was also wildly popular, especially among young Black and White kids in the skater and emo culture.

Wayne’s I Feel Like Dying, leaked from his sessions making The Carter 3. This song was the oddly romantic love song to weed, lean, and Xanax that basically describes withdrawal as “dying”, as compared to feeling of being high. It ushered in emo-rap, rap about emotions, depression, suicide, and drug use that was usually set to hazy, melodic and slow rock, blues or punk samples. According to the Drug Slang in Hip Hop Project, 2007 was the year words like Xanax, Percocet, and Valium became apart of rap’s lyrics. But lean didn’t love Wayne.

Rappers became users and victims when UGK rapper Pimp C and DJ Screw protege, Big Moe both died of lean induced overdoses in 2007. In 2013, Lil Wayne was hospitalized several times, from drug induced seizures, brought on by complications from consuming lean. While gaining commercial success their personal lives were being robbed by drug use.

I am a prisoner locked up behind Xanax bars.” -Lil Wayne

2017-present – Everyone Dies in their Nightmares

Can’t get a wink ‘less I’m leaning off of syrup/Dreaming of my past like a nightmare so I wake up-Danny Brown

Last Sunday , 21 year old rapper, Jarad “Juice WRLD” Higgins, died in a suspected drug overdose after a seizure at Chicago’s Midway airport. Federal officials were searching his luggage for drugs and weapons at the time and found 41 “vacuum-sealed” bags of marijuana totaling 70 pounds and six bottles of prescription codeine cough syrup during the search. He’s one of many young rappers to die from drug overdose in the last few years, including Lil Peep, Mac Miller, and XXXTentacion.

What’s the 27 club? We ain’t making it past 21.“- Juice WRLD

Many high profile celebrities died at the age of 27 including Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Amy Winehouse, many by drug or alcohol related causes. But it’s not uncommon today to hear these young rappers dying at 21. Juice, Lil Peep, and XXXTentacion were all 21 years old at the time of their deaths. And while the latter was murdered in a robbery, all three were known in the rap game for their drug use and lyrics.

By 2017, 33% of hip hop on the Billboard charts mentioned drugs. Future’s Mask Off basically said fuck it, with its chorus “Percocets, Molly, Percocets” set to Tommy Butler’s “Prison Song’s” slow and bluesy melody, typical of emo-rap. The song outwardly spoke of blatant prescription drug use. It was “I Feel Like Dying” overdosing. And that’s just what was happening. Several rappers who had not only suffered from addiction but also depression, commonly co-dependent diseases, had lyrics laced with drug use.

Eminem
Lil Uzi Vert
Kid Cudi
Logic
Vic Mensa
Travis Scott
Lil Xa
Mac Miller , died 2017 overdose
XXXTentacion , died 2018 robber
Lil Peep , died 2017 overdose

These rappers talked of recurrent thoughts of suicide, depression, anxiety, and mania like rappers in the past talked about cars and women. Yet this new crop of largely millennial generation rappers were diving deep into their mental health challenges and dulled their pain with the surely large supplies of prescription drugs available to them. Once known mainly as a problem in suburban and more affluent areas, the influence of rap into mainstream and pop culture brought into it those same reciprocal influences. So drugs commonly prescribed as physical pain killers were being used to dull the senses. Yet these drugs taken together and without close monitoring by a physician was far too commonly leading to overdose. From seller to user. From gangsta to victim. From women, cars, and guns to Molly and Percocets.

Young or Lil. Chiefin or getting wet. Lean in the cup or xanys in the pockets. Art imitates life. Just like the East Coast v West Coast shit caused us to lose two of the greatest in the culture, Molly & Percocets are gonna leave us with fewer young talents in the industry as well. And thats just…

“…Self-Destruction, you’re headed for self-destruction.”

One in a Million

I recall wearing my hair down to school, it was long and curled. At the front half I had a ponytail and the back half was loose. You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t cute!

I walked into school and one of the teachers, a Black lady, in a Catholic school full of nuns, said to me, hands in her hip…”Your hair is so pretty, but you know you look fast like that.” I was all of ten, and I was certain I wasn’t “fast” and didn’t look a day over ten. So I kept walking to my locker. I have a history of ignoring tomfoolery.

… but it was something I heard more than once. At my friend’s sweet sixteen with my fitted above the knee dress. Once from a friend of my mother’s after her daughter did my hair in a style other than braided ponytails. And in reference to my Black girl friends throughout elementary, middle, and high school. Likewise we were all the subject of far to many grown men’s attention from as low as the age of eight until adulthood. I assure you, the lot of us were very innocent and neither sexually suggestive or sexually active.

Our mere presence is sexualized.

The number of times I heard remarks about how my and my peers looks, bodies, hair, or long legs (they certainly weren’t talking about me because I’m the Corgi of the group) were going to bring attention, boys, and trouble. And we all know trouble was code for anything from attention to pregnancy in Black culture.

Trust, at 10, I was still into Jem and the Holograms. Sex was the last thing I was interested in. But black girls are still fighting Jezebel stereotypes. So there’s that.

My senior year of high school Aaliyah, the singer, and R. Kelly were alleged to have gotten married. I knew she was just two years my junior, and I couldn’t imagine that could be true… until Vibe magazine published the marriage certificate. The next time I saw Aaliyah on tv, on the Soul Train Awards, the crowd boo’ed her, but older Black women yelled and screamed whenever R. Kelly took the stage.

Had she not wore her hair down, over her eye, and crop tops… he would have never bothered her, but she enticed him with her fast ways.

That seemed to be the consensus. This girl was being a teenager, and he was being an adult sexual abuser. Yet she was seen as the problem. So much so, when she was finally separated from him by her family, she suspended her music career for awhile and he kept gaining popularity. He was more popular… WITEF?!??? How does that happen?

Well… Malcolm was correct.

“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” -Malcolm X

This sick and twisted bastard was able to continue, as a free man, doing this to countless Black teenage girls. Countless. These girls, some of whom were basically handed over to him in exchange for fame and others of whom snuck to him were victimized well into adulthood. He psychologically wooed them, made them feel special, then groomed them, isolated them, and abused them physically and sexually for years. Abuse is this very complicated mind fuck. It’s not always as easy as walking away…

But the blame rests in adults. Black men and women who helped this man mistreat and sexually abuse these children, their parents, and fans. You cannot separate the man from his artistry… as a creative, I can assure you that all of who I am is poured into my art. Michael wanted to Heal the World. James wanted to get on the scene like a sex machine. Actors talk of becoming the characters they play. Poets speak of being able to feel the words emanate from their fingers. Dancers bodies translate how the music makes them feel. Stop that bullshit excuse. The bottom line is that, Black adults were complicit in his abuse by watching a video of him having sex with a child then supporting him buying his music and concert tickets. Nope. Children are to love, not fuck. Ever! Anyone who does is a criminal and I don’t want shit they are selling.

“We all noticed but no one cared, because we were Black girls.”-Mikka Kendall

Here is the real. Sexual abuse is wrong and damages people for life. He was abused and as a result abused children and women for sport. See how that works. Black girls deserve to be protected. They deserve to maintain their innocence and share their bodies on their terms. They also deserve to be seen first and foremost as young girls, children, despite the way their bodies curve, their hair tumbles from their heads, or the length of their legs. They deserve to explore their existence and sexuality in ways that are healthy and promote their happiness. Most importantly, they deserve to grow into the women they were intended to be, not the one you label them as because they have hips or he robs the innocence from because he has a problem.

So, let’s vow as adults, parents, teachers, mentors to protect and speak life into Black girls, and not diminish them because of our own fears, insecurities, and judgements. Let’s assure her…

She doesn’t have to sit on Uncle Horace’s lap.

She isn’t fast because she’s growing up and exploring her beauty, body, and sexuality.

She should alert an adult immediately if she is touched anywhere that makes her feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

She is worthy of and will receive protection.

She does not ever deserve to be spoken to, touched, or treated in a sexualized manner.

We will crack anyone’s skull who attempts to violate her.

As for R. Kelly, I hope he rots in jail. And we owe Aaliyah , and every little Black girl we dismissed as asking for it or being complicit in their abuse, mistreatment, disrespect, or sexualization, an apology.

Compassionate Capitalism

My friend Jamal Edwards (#demninefoes stand ALL the way up) has a daily live podcast called the Jamalcast, and today he spoke about the juxtaposition of compassion and capitalism in the healthcare field. He spoke of seeking services from providers that seem to lack concern for their patients experience and favor the faster and bigger method to healthcare, to bring in more money in a shorter amount of time. During his video he said (I’m paraphrasing) that while there is nothing inherently wrong with capitalism, that it could be practiced with a greater level of care and compassion. I concur emphatically!

In fact, I offer that this model is applicable across the spectrum.

….

In order to better understand these concepts and how they could meld, let’s start with the more complex of the two.

cap·i·tal·ism /ˈkapədlˌizəm/ noun: an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state( from Oxford Dictionary).

Capitalism is the economic system in America. A democratic republic is the political system. The very clean definition of capitalism above doesn’t really delve into its most intimate spaces. Capitalism starts with private ownership, sure. But in the middle parts, it creates a system of haves and have nots that need each other to survive. Capitalism is given this homemade, warm, fuzzy feeling by wrapping it in these three words : The American Dream.

The idea being if you work hard you can be and do anything you can dream of, because opportunity in America is limitless. That is certainly true for some of us. But you know damn well they never meant for a 3/5ths person to be able to have it all! More on that in a bit. But anyway, the fact is that if I’m a private owner, I need workers. Some of my workers will make a living wage. Arguably, some will not, in order for me to make a profit off of my goods and services.

About 40-80% of a companies gross budget goes to salaries. Amazon made 10.1 billion net profit in 2018, and it’s thousands of sales, delivery, customer service, and labor workers are bringing home a little over $16,000, which is poverty level for a family of two. The only way I can profit that much money requires saving money somewhere… and lower and entry level labor focused jobs are likely where. It’s a proven fact that these jobs are disproportionately held by minorities.That is one example of how this divide begins. Big business versus the people.

That’s not compassionate capitalism.

com·pas·sion /kəmˈpaSHən /noun: sympathetic concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others (from Oxford Dictionary).

I would like to believe I am extremely compassionate towards those who are less fortunate than me. I give of my money and time to charity, charitable organizations, and do my own person and family based giving during the cold Michigan winters. But if I had 10.1 billion, I’d be giving giving. As much as I like Gucci and I don’t like people… and a lot of them I don’t, I am against human suffering, hunger, illness, pain, and trauma. I would be doing all I could to help those who needed it if I had it. I could still be a have and bring some people with me there.

Be clear, I’m not promoting a totally free market, a socialist or communist framework, or any other type of economy. I do, however, believe that the a system based on the creation of wealth via supply and demand (capitalism) versus an exchange of wealth via supply and demand (free market) lends itself to the have and have nots more readily. If the demand of an item creates wealth, those with greater access will control the supply and leave out small entrepreneurs and underpay its labor force. And anytime you have a have not, there is someone suffering financially. Compassion is anti-suffering.

So what does compassionate capitalism look like?

Well I have an idea. Imagine that!

First, I don’t think there is inherently anything wrong with the notion that if you work hard you can take advantage of the wealth of opportunity in America. Compassionate capitalism would ensure that those opportunities are available to those that want them, offered wide enough for every segment of the population to access them (every segment… women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals, the handicapped, etc.), and based on a combination of diversity of thought and merit in light of that open access to ensure you are pulling from a wealth of experiences and backgrounds. Creativity depends upon the latter.

Second, I am a fan of a free market economy that has stop gaps for government intervention when the free market fails. In Hong Kong, likely the freest market in the world, healthcare is seeing its fair share of failures as its supply outweighs the demand of its aging population. In this instance, the government needs to have legislation in place that prevents these types of public health crises. The same would be true for education, housing, civil rights, environment and other areas of concern that could lead to human harm. I don’t see anything wrong with creating wealth, but not over creating humanity.

Third, and ultimately the bottom line, no 2% of any people should hold 50% of accumulated wealth, when 15% of the people cannot afford food, clothes, and shelter. The government should ensure that everyone has food, a place to live, education, and healthcare… even if it is only the simplest of those things. It is, after all, a function of the U. S. Constitution, which sets up the government, to “promote the general welfare” and those should include the economic welfare, social security and justice, and civil rights of the people.

Compassionate Capitalism is ultimately up to us to implement. I know when I’m an ever bigger have, I’ll be grabbing hands and pulling them up instead of grabbing legs and pulling folks down. We can create enough wealth to share and exchange…

Let’s get this money and this love y’all!!!!

Check out the Jamalcast : Opinions About Everything

By the way, I love Kid President. He’s more like a Young Man President now, but he was the bees knees! 😍