I loved Sex and the City… mainly Carrie and Samantha and Carrie’s clothes. so I wanted to watch the new series because well… nostalgia. And the clothes. If Sarah Jessica Parker can do anything, which she can, she can put on some clothes. But anyway, I have been SHOCKED at how much Charlotte and Mirandas storylines catch my attention now. Charlotte, basically because of her kids and her friendship with Nicole Ari Parker’s character, and Miranda… wellllllll… she has just jumped on the LGBTQ train and took a whole round the world trip. Her son screws his girlfriend in the house. And Steve, he’s just the same ole Steve, dedicated to Miranda and trying to be what she needs. Thing is… she’s never known what she wanted.
Miranda is the poster child for settling.
So in the last few episodes (SPOILER… and I don’t care if you care cuz it has already aired), dhe has been having a relationship with Che, Carrie’s lesbian co-podcaster. Che is brash, open, brutally honest, and there is something she likes about Miranda. And Miranda is so smitten with her, she is willing to ruin and then in the latest episode, end, her marriage to Steve.
And that shit was heartbreaking.
“It’s always like this,” he said. “You don’t think that I’m enough, then I’m kind of enough and then I’m not enough again. I’m always there, you know, hanging in for us.”
Steve basically told her he wanted her to be happy, but that he had spent their relationship trying to be good enough for her and thought they had finally reached this place of understanding… where they were content coming home to each other, watching tv, and eating ice cream. While she was telling him it wasn’t enough, and that at 55 she decided she no longer was willing to settle for mediocre. He was heartbroken. You could see it in his face and hear it in his voice. She’s grinning like a 20 year old, and he’s like… hey we are old. Yikes.
But it was like watching the end result of two people settling. One or both either realize there is a fuller life available AND/OR one or both finally get settled into the situation they settled for. Steve should have always had a different partner, someone who was ok with his quirks, his easy going character, his want to settle down and have a family and share ice cream. Frankly, I don’t know who or what would have made her happy. She thinks it’s Che, but she hasn’t had any real honest communication with anyone. She is just being selfish, and even if she wants more, there is certainly a better way to handle that than sitting your husband down and asking for a divorce simply so you can explore a relationship with someone who is clearly not interested in the same thing a 55 year old woman with a teenage son and a limpy walk is looking for. But hey… do your thing.
Most importantly, the act of settling played in my head. I have done it. Never again though. It’s not worth it to have a mate that doesn’t fulfill you, and who isn’t interested in learning how to. That’s super whack AF! I think we should all hold true to our boundaries and standards… period. However, I also believe that when we have made a choice, we should take responsibility for our choices. Period. You spend 2, 10, 15, 25 years in a relationship where you are secretly wanting more, then take responsibility for your lack of honesty year one. If you are going to end that relationship, you owe it to the person you have led on, to be kind, give them time to process, and be compassionate. You don’t right bad behavior with compounded bad behavior.
Settling was your choice.
I mean do you think Carrie settled for these shoes….
And here’s the other glaring truth… the person you settled for is someone else’s gem! Just because you forced their fit, does mean they don’t fit perfectly in someone else’s forever. Maybe they didn’t feel like they were settling with you… they thought they were working hard on a relationship with someone they loved, but if you knew you were… you chose that life and to keep that fact from them. Don’t then be a dick about it when you finally decide to live your truth. But the best choice tho… No one needs you to settle for them. It’s a selfish act. Be an adult and own your truth… just like that!
A few housekeeping items… this is not a Master P “Ghetto D” how to, it is a 300 level course, a much deeper look into the consequences, experience, and processing of cheating behaviors inside what was built as a monogamous relationship. We often hear statistics on infidelity, how it affects relationships in a real esoteric and trivial way. But this is a perspective first hand … I’m about you give you something you can feel. I think it is a betrayal that is much more devastating and impactful than most of us give it credit. It is also an unconsented taking of liberty with someone’s body and emotions that we need to start treating as such. Snapped is a show for a reason.
So this is a deep share, but deeply relevant… so very recently, my long term relationship ended because of cheating… months long, intentionally and horribly deceptive, disruptive and chaotic, cheating. It was a heartbreak and setback that I was not expecting and did not see coming. It was a relationship I protected from any and all outside influence and individuals, and put a great deal of my time and energy into. I felt like that was reciprocated until I learned about his disturbing behavior, that included giving this other person access to me. But more about that shortly. Point is, it was a messy and very peace disruptive experience that left me feeling devalued by a person too damaged to choose to honor who honored him.
There are many studies and surveys, and generally 40% of Americans admit to cheating on a spouse or partner. There are many reasons expressed for cheating, but I don’t think any of those reasons ultimately matter. In fact, much of the nomenclature and messaging around cheating, in an of itself is problematic.
“Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Someone who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Fuck you.” -David Leviathan, The Lover’s Dictionary
It really is infidelity, and that is a much better word. The perpetrator much like an infidel, where the issue at hand is not religion, but not believing in the honesty and truthfulness of commitment.
Like most adults with integrity, I am (and was) very very clear about my standards and what it is I am committing to… I just don’t really have the time to engage in uncertainty. So, I make it very clear that if this is not a commitment to honoring honesty, faithfulness, security, kindness, support, and compassion then I am not interested. In other words, if you want to engage in fuckery, I am not your girl. I have no time for it, and I am vindictive and will probably try to ruin your life afterward. I don’t offer that as a positive trait, just an honest one, so you get a feel for the lay of the land here. I speak in clear terms. I am not interested in cheating, your friends or family invading the inner sanctum of our relationship, lies about anything, or being used. I am not running an inn for hobosexuals, any decision to cohabitate will be after careful planning, lots of communication, a clear and concise budget, and demonstration of a healthy, open, and honest relationship. I am not an ATM, do not ask me for money, period. If necessary parts of your body don’t work and you don’t already have a doctor involved who has given you therapy or pharmacology to fix that, come back when that has happened. I mean the basics. I don’t ask for much. I don’t have a laundry list, but I do have standards. I am like the bumper cars at the amusement park, you do have to be over a certain height, but it’s a pretty easy and fun ride if you meet the requirements. But folks just don’t want to do right.
“I know the way a nigga livin was whack But you don’t get a nigga back like that! Shit I’m a man with pride, you don’t do shit like that You don’t just pick up and leave and leave me sick like that You don’t throw away what we had, just like that I was just fuckin them girls, I was gon’ get right back” –Song Cry,
That…. is that bullshit!
While so many people try to reduce the importance of the sexual part of infidelity, it is a salient feature. Even when people say, it meant nothing, the sacredness of intimacy means everything. Living outside of the bounds set without telling their partner, their sexual partner, is a betrayal that often leaves the other party unprotected from the outsider the infidel has invited into the relationship without mutual consent. You see, while it is important to remember that the issue is with the partner, and not the man or woman he or she was cheating with, if that man or woman was a willing side piece, their trash ass won’t hesitate to deliver you all the receipts, screenshots, and chaos they collected on their back. When that person has also been lied to, which is often the case, very often it is the unaware partner and not the infidel who receives the wrath of the third party. Sex is rarely void of emotion, so you add a lack of emotional maturity to a lack of integrity, very rarely will that not erupt into a mess. A mess the unsuspecting partner did not want or ask for, but has been attacked with.
Furthermore, when one is engaging sexually with someone other than their partner, they are taking away their partner’s ability to choose. If two people have agreed to have a monogamous relationship, the agreement is to have consenual sex with only one another. The minute either party wants to change that, if they are interested in having a willing partner, they should be offering them the option to participate or not. Perhaps they will… great. But if they don’t want to , they now have the floor to make whatever decision is best for them based on honesty. Otherwise, finding out your partner was sleeping with both you and another person, feels not only like a betrayal of emotion but a betrayal of body. An invasion of my sacred physical space with negative and dishonest energy. An invasion of my sacred emotional space with lies, betrayal, and another unwanted and uninvited person. An invasion of my mental space because I am left to process emotions that affect my thoughts about myself, my future, my worth, etc. It is so much more than cheating… it’s not looking at someone else’s paper during a test, or hiding a scrabble tile when your opponent isn’t looking, it is a deep betrayal that has harmful and negative physical, sexual, emotional, and mental manifestations that were not agreed to. Like David said above, Fuck you.
Infidelity causes a deep wound in the partner cheated upon, and often leads that person having to heal their heart and their mind from hurtful emotions and unhealthy thoughts. But hopefully they land on the fact that the choices other people make are their own. Every relationship has moments of downtime. Maybe you are both busy, or maybe just one of you. Perhaps work or school is taking up a lot of your time. Maybe you are having health concerns. Whatever the case, those moments are times that you and your partner should cleave to one another, and more importantly, if one of you is feeling in the myriad of ways that might lead one to even consider being unfaithful, it is an opportunity to have a difficult conversation that can strengthen your relationship. Integrity is a priceless human value, and even when it is hard, we should be interested in doing the right thing to honor our commitments. Our last intention should be to hurt someone we love and care about intentionally. But when folks are selfish, used to or even turned on by foolishness, and/or don’t value themselves… they won’t value and appreciate you.
Cheating is intentional, and it is wack AF. It involves the thoughts before the decision is made, every step toward that decision, the follow through, and then every lie one has to tell to try to keep their behavior away from their partner. Trust is like glass, if you just keep stepping on it, eventually it will break… maybe even the first time. No one, not even a spouse, should be expected to tolerate betrayal. Nobody wants to deal with someone’s inability to take responsibility for breaking trust. Nobody wants to deal with cycling emotions of apologies, shame, anger, irritation, and frustration from a cheater… are you even serious?!?! Nobody should have to wait for anyone else to be ready for commitment… if you show up for it, be ready for it. Otherwise stay away from intentional and purposeful people.
When we enter relationships and make agreements about how that relationship will be conducted, we owe it to our partner to honor that or if we change our mind, to inform then before we break our commitment. It really is not hard. It is always easier to do the right thing, always. Bullshit just breeds bullshit. I did nothing to deserve this bullshit. That I am clear about. My emotions are raw and my feelings are hurt, but I am also faithful that next time around, someone who is going to honor me completely will show his face. For right now, this ride is closed for construction. But all of you engaged in partnerships, marriages, whatever or however you construct your relationship, be intentional and purposeful and honor your partner. Don’t be a heaux, but if you must, be like Cody and only…
As for the unfaithful… you gotta live with the fact you did me wrong forever…
“Go figure You were the trigger You brought me to an obstructed view When you knew the picture was bigger”-Jhene Aiko
Being triggered is reliving trauma. It is most certainly something that people who can only accept their own view as the proper and accepted view, and try to trash everyone else’s can easily cause, and in my opinion intend to cause. But being a trigger is dangerous… you shouldn’t put yourself in that position if you aren’t ready to cause a harm. And if whoever you are aiming at recognizes what you are doing, be prepared for that person to shoot. That’s Trigger 101. Fuck around…
The other day, I was minding my own business, debating about a topic …the notion that only a married man can lead/head a household… it was all was respectful and shit until the second coming of Sheherazad Ali chimed in, promoting her unique brand of shotepery (female hotep shit), and then attempted to belittle my opinions and characterize me. I’m cool until you disrespect me. I can debate all day without ever being nasty, but I was reminded that small minded folks don’t have that capability. That’s cool, do you. But don’t try to do me. Fuck around…
She wanted it. Came right out and asked for it. So I gave it to her. Oh, I hear quite well and I also know bullshit when I see it. To assume that your way is the only way, and then to insinuate that anyone who thinks alternatively is not only wrong but worthy of your disrespect is outrageous. So I gave this human the outrage she was asking for. I wasn’t triggered though, she didn’t cause me to relive a trauma. What she did do was try to insult my education. Your unscientific, random conversations, with people you sought out to prove your own anti-Black woman theories because you don’t like your own reality is not on par with my education. I don’t know what credentials you got… but let me slide mine across the table.
Also, be clear,I am smart. I have many plaques and I’m working on more… but be careful with me. Do not mistake these SAT words, wit, and great writing skills… this smart shit is not weak shit. There is more than one kind of trigger my nigga.
Seriously, the incident made me take inventory of who I engage with in social media. First, folks mistake their opinions for facts. Facts are not up for agreement or disagreement. What I do in my home is a fact, it can be proven by observation. It’s not AVAILAbLE for you to agree or disagree with. Second, folks are so one-sided they only subscribe to ideas and thoughts that mimic or match what they think or believe already, like opposing views are so detrimental to their beliefs they don’t even want to hear or consider them. That means your beliefs aren’t very securely held… that doesn’t make the opposing view wrong. Third, when people jump bad they wanna claim you are overreacting or being “triggered” when you react. No I’m pe. You should either assess who you are playing with or just assume they are a rabid dog looking to bite. What you should not do is be disrespectful… ever.
Instead of triggering me, what it did was highlight even more for me what values I hold dear. There a few things that I’m so passionate about that I will not agree to disagree… and that is primarily anything that centers White, heterosexual, Christian, maleness and disregards the very real experiences of others. Miss me with patriarchial, racist, sexist, anti-cultural, White fragility and supremacy, anti-educated Black women tropes. Things that value tradition, tend to devalue difference, and as such I’m very non-traditional. I’m also pro-Black woman, so propaganda that equates Black women’s education, independence, and high standards as “bondage” is dangerous and oppressive to me.
It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.
How can you claim to be educating folks when you don’t even value the very thing that open and honest education breeds… independence. Get outta here with that nonsense.
I’m not about to buy into is this hotep adjacent theory that educated Black women are aligned with patriarchy and colonialism by virtue of being educated. Any Black person with any understanding of this countries history is aware of the limitations purposely inherent in the education of Black people. We have to be especially careful and aware of what we are being fed because much of it could be poisonous. But that is inherently a factor highly educated Black people have to constantly consider. An uneducated person wouldn’t know that.
But any person, let alone any Black woman who believes that Black women’s independence is akin to slavery is dangerous. Any woman that believes the only way for a woman to have a valuable life is to be married is dangerous. The Bible states that a man who finds a wife finds a good thing… she’s a good thing already. It is important to me that Black women understand their inherent value, and don’t simply attach their value to carrying someone else’s last name. You can want to be married and be a fan of marriage without also believing you are trash alone.
Furthermore, tradition in America centers Whiteness and maleness… period. Messaging that only men, only married people (an institution that you can believe in, while still understanding it’s tradition in America places men in superior roles over women, heightens men’s social value, and protects White wealth), only White people, and only anything that excludes marginalized people is a source of deep trauma, particularly for Black women. We experience so many intersectional -isms, that those of us who are conscious about things that seek to oppress us, are unmoving in our beliefs against that tradition. That doesn’t mean we don’t value White people, married people, or men. Many of are or have been married to men, some of then White. But we reject the notion that only structures those people build are acceptable and proper. That is simply not true.
People want so badly to have their lives and beliefs justified… that they close off and try to censor any message that looks different. That’s not being smart, that… that is being triggered. That is reliving trauma. Read that again. Someone told you your opinion didn’t matter, your choices were bad, you picked the wrong fork in the road, and you believed it so much that you are force feeding yourself acceptance and assurance to the point of arrogance. You think being solid in your beliefs looks like being unaccepting of other’s. Anyone who comes along with a different point of view is gonna get your rebuttable or maybe even your disrespect. A rebuttable usually just gets a response. Disrespect though… fuck around and find out.
I encourage people to stand up for what they believe in, remain open to other points of view, and know what words mean before they go using them all willy nilly. It might be your view that is obstructed…
Let me start by saying that I am a fan of Jordans… I got the Biohacks and Black Stingrays on my NEED list. So, understand this is personal. My beef is Grade A! So check it…
You release these dope ass shoes you know that people want… but if they are available in the store, which many are not, you gotta be at that joint at 7:00am… nope! Niggas work. Or it’s the weekend and I get to sleep in. But most of the big drops aren’t even in the store. Instead you put them on special apps or make people enter a RAFFLE… to buy a shoe. A raffle yo. Is this a cabaret or a shoe drop… why we doing raffles?!? Make it make sense.
You sell a shoe for $170, $190, $200 and the same twelve folks buy all the shoes and sell them on StockX for $500. They are listed before they even come out because they already know they are gonna get the shoe… but I can’t get one shoe I want. Or I gotta pay the shoe plug more for the same shoe that only cost you 27 cents to make. Nope. And I understand supply and demand, so I get the concept of the price of the shoe. But you value that joint at a fourth of what these suckas sell them for. You gotta know the masses think you are invested in this shit. Gotta be. No way you selling my shoe, with my name, for $10,000 and I’m only getting $170. I mean if I’m wrong… lemme know.
Sneakers are a huge part of urban Black and hip hop culture. The first big sneaker stores for sneakers as fashion were in the inner city. It was young black kids in Philly, Detroit, and Brooklyn rocking Diadora, Italian soccer and tennis shoes; the suede Puma joints, from the German soccer shoe manufacturer; and the aerobics shoe, the Reebok Freestyles that were dubbed the 5411s (that was the cost with tax in New York). These twelve dudes with 5,000 boxes of a shoe you only made 6,000 of, they aren’t hiding, these jokers are famous… and profiting of that culture. The culture that made Jordans not just a basketball shoe, but a staple of urban fashion. Don’t let these white girls in sneakers with their dresses confuse you, sneakers didn’t just get hot. Like cornrows before them, Black inner city kids made those joints hot. The facts are that most of these millionaire resellers are far removed from urban culture, and reselling the re-releases of these shoes we grew up loving but likely not being able to afford. So now that we can afford them, we either cannot get them or have to pay them well over retail for them. I searched the internet, I couldn’t find one of the top five guys in the sneaker resell business… in a sneaker. Again, make it make sense.
So look, I buy your shoes… a few as collectors items, many to rock, I even give em as gifts. I’m a bona fide sneakerhead. So listen… resellers are murdering your brand reputation slowly but surely. This shit should be banned. Period. And even if you don’t ban it, honor the folks who rock these joints, take pics in them, and really make them this profitable in the first place. Put 1/3rd of the damn shoes in the store and the rest on nike.com and when them bitches are gone, they gone. If you wanna buy them and resale, cool, but fuck a bot. You are a whole multi-million dollar brand being threatened by these dudes and their sophisticated “bots” that trick your sites into letting them buy 500 shoes at a time. You have all the power… get to it. But I swear, somebody is gonna have to answer some hard questions if those stingrays drop and I don’t cop them. So in honor of Darryl, Joseph, and Jason who in 1984 pulled the laces out and took their Adidas Superstars through concert doors and over coliseum floors… give us us sneakers!
It’s been a week. Young Dolph, a true brilliant mind in the hip hop game was killed. The Rittenhouse and Arbery trials continue. Chaka Khan was clearly on that narcota and Stephanie Mills looking and sounding like money was gracious and kind to her, and literally carried her through a Verzuz performance. And Adele. Adele did this.
So I had listened to “30”, but it was a distracted listen. Plus it’s a different listen than “19”, “21” or “25”. As it should be. I heard this song, but it wasn’t until I watched her sing it that I heard it with all of my senses engaged. I clicked on it while writing, and I had to stop. From the moment that piano intro hit my ears, and she turned her head, I knew I was about to witness something special. She didn’t just sing this song, she gave this song wings, she put her back into it, she gave it something we could feel. If you didn’t feel that, trigga gots no heart!
They say a great song can transport you back to the exact moment your emotions aligned with the words… word for word. I was transported by her singing. She painted particular moments with a wide bristled brush, and others with fine detail. She was simultaneously Picasso, J. California Cooper, Diane Warren, Toni Morrison, Frida Kahlo, and Sandcastles by Beyoncé when her voice cracks… “What is it about you-ou, that I can’t erase….” She sculpted, painted, wrote, danced sitting still, and sang.
“Painting walls with all my secret tears Filling rooms with all my hopes and fears”
I’m sitting by myself on a gray velvet sofa, a gray furry blanket covering my legs, only the light from the tv illuminating the room. I’m heartbroken knowing I’d once again decided, because despite his shortcomings it was in fact a decision I made voluuntarily, to try to love someone who didn’t deserve it. I loathe the decision. That loathing dances around me like a tease. I let it dance until it tires out…
Adele, I feel you girl!
“I’ll never learn if I never leap I’ll always yearn if I never speak”
I’m sitting in a chair next to him, after he has just said or done something completely out of line with loving someone. My lips part and my legs bend at the knee. I can’t keep my wants to myself even if he can’t supply them. I can’t just remain sitting beside someone who wants to stand on top of me. So I stand up and I speak. Not needing or wanting his validation for things only I can validate.
You better SING THIS SONG!
“To be loved and love at the highest count Means to lose all the things I can’t live without… Let it be known, that I tried”
He talks, but says nothing. I am willing to sacrifice for love, but not this. This isn’t love and only one person here is sacrificing. I can’t afford to sacrifice like this. He continues talking, not realizing I’m no longer listening. I gather my wraps and my purse, pull out my keys, and pull my gloves onto my hand, wiggling each finger down into its proper reservoir. He asks me where I’m going. I put my hand on the doorknob and turn. I turn to him, I say only, “I tried.” Exit scene.
I mean she took me there… and while those examples are a little more dramatic in my written word than they probably were in reality, that’s how she painted them for me as she sang those words. Words she wrote. Do you understand the artistry in that? The brilliance. The unreserved emotion. Then the very clear rational conclusion… let it be known, I tried. Sis is a whole international treasure for this shit right here. I couldn’t let the week pass without acknowledging this masterpiece.When she finished, I almost threw my phone and led a living room revival by myself. Cuz let me tell you, that right there, that was gospel
Mrs. Sophia is home now and there are about to be some truths told and some discussions had. Mrs. Sophia is the collective 40+ Black Woman who has lived a little life, turned a couple of heads, kissed a few toads, had to tell some wrinkled old ass White lady in the store that she is not her errand girl or handmaid and will not be cut off or disrespected, and had to get into someone’s actual ass, like a baby mole, because they fail to get the message… I AIN’T THE ONE!
Imma be all over the place this time, cuz this is an all over the place kind of conversation. But bear with me, because I guarantee you are gonna wanna shout, do a praise dance, sit in silence, and plan as my girl called it “a pajama and bonnet caper” all at the same time after you read some of these stories I’m about to tell you. So let’s jump in the deep water.
• • •
A girlfriend of mine sought my counsel (I’m kind and smart, but twice as ignorant and very liable to choose violence… in other words, very wise counsel) because her Black child’s predominately White school decided it was a good idea to take a trip to Monticello and Jamestown. Wait… one second. Monticello, the place where Thomas Jefferson owned 600 slaves that does tours of slave quarters. The same place he impregnated his slave, a woman he OWNED, who was not considered a WHOLE HUMAN, Sally Hemmings, with six children. A place where young Black girls were enslaved and raped. THAT place. And Jamestown, the site where Africans stolen from their land were sold to White plantation owners who enslaved these people in what turned out to be hundreds of years of violent servitude. We have primarily White teachers taking their White students and a handful of Black and Hispanic children on this trip down fucked up memory lane. You wanna beat them over the head with your privilege?
I have been to Monticello, now I hear that now they are much more forthright about Jefferson’s slaveowner history. But it’s been clear… the slave cabins are still standing. They talked more about his china service than the very real historical implications of this plantation. So my friend was concerned about how these teachers were prepared to have discussions about slavery in Monticello and Jamestown and asked such questions to the teachers and staff promoting the trip… and she was ready to scrap if the answer was wrong. Cuz this is often our lives. Taking responsibility for educating clueless White people on how their actions, choices, decisions have racial implications and moreover exposing to them how unprepared they are for the ricochet. Be clear its not always a contentious conversation, but we go into it ready to pounce. There are just some fights we shouldn’t have to continue to have… butyet ALL my life I had to fight.
• • •
Another friend of mine moved her family to take a position that promised upward mobility, greater responsibility, and support in meeting her professional goals. Not very long into her position, she realized that while she was extremely qualified for the role, they had hit the jackpot by hiring a qualified, Black, female for this job. So many tokens earned off the one hire. And like a company that lack diversity and inclusionary policies, she soon realized she had jumped in a chlorinated pool of White tears and privilege. But Black girls put on a swim cap and a one-shoulder ruffled one piece… and swim. So after being questioned by one of her colleagues to the point of harassment, she had to “per my last email”, “to reiterate” and “kind regards” her way to Human Resources. If “Get this bitch the fuck off of me QUICK” was a person….
Understand… I can get her off of me, but neither of you will like how I do it. This is a professional environment, and if you want to keep this Eames chair and Steelcase desk you paid a thousand dollars for from sailing through the hallway at her big ass head, I suggest you be the one to remind her of where we are. For many Black women in the corporate space, the expectation to keep quiet and tolerate discrimination and bias; being overlooked and underpaid; having folks think they can touch or comment on our braids, natural hair, or African wax print blouse, or for that matter any parts of ourselves, is still a power play. But we often out work these clowns and are more educated and experienced, and know we can take our talents elsewhere… so it’s in a company’s best interest to ensure it’s slow are made fast and those of limited intellect are made whole. I mean there is always the parking lot… cuz All MY life I had to fight.
And just so we are clear, this is not necessarily a White v. Black issue, but a Supremacy & Privilege v. Black issue. There are some real self-hating Black people who align with the discrimination and anti-Black tactics in the workplace (and out). One of my former co-workers was often commented upon by a jealous hating ass Black woman in a management position, about her body. Sis is thick like Luke dancers, and this woman would ask her about having work done, what undergarments she wore, why her body was shaped that way, and why her clothes fit like they did. “Why is your body so big and your stomach so flat?”
See… I can’t even put into words how magnificently I would have burrowed myself so deep in her ass she’d have been defacating dance videos, candy corn, J. Alexander crab cakes, and Jordans for three months. But alas when this same old miserable cow attempted this line of similar foolishness with me, I let her know all bets were off in your neighborhood Spartan store… and there was nothing but space and opportunity outside the company gates. I was prepared to make her pay for all the Africans who sold slaves off the coast of Congo, and each of the “my name is Toby… the first time” slaves who readied young Sally with a lemongrass bath and a starched yellowed petticoat to Jefferson’s liking. While White folks are lynching us in the streets and in our homes while we sleep or watch tv, often there are a few folks that look like you who try to hang you by the rope they are dangling from. But nope… you can’t take me out. All my life I HAD TO fight.
• • •
So here we come full circle. As much as you shouldn’t try me, my kid is a war you don’t want… and don’t let it be a race war, I’m playing whack-a-mole with a frying pan. My kid had to be about five and his teacher, a substitute, called a group of Black boy children being a little disruptive… but it was KINDERGARDEN so there’s that… thugs. Yep, you read it right. THUGS. I picked him up, dedpite bring under the weather, and he told me immediately upon getting in the car. So I slid into a parking space, got my blanket and my box of tissues, and we proceeded to her classroom where I went off for for every wronged Black student since Ruby Bridges.
I inquired whether calling her, she was Arabic, brothers terrorists would be acceptable, or whether talking to her with a stereotypical “hiyact” or “ach” attached to English words would be offensive… as I sneezed, collected snot rags in my palm, and swaddled myself in the Spongebob blanket. She didn’t say much, and the couple in the room with us were chuckling when I was serious. I reminded her that boys and girls, young little ladies and young lads, or descendants of African Kings and Queens, was to be the extent if her name calling. She remarked she hadn’t said it to my son. “They are ALL my sons!” I exclaimed. Listen, I won’t bring you none, but don’t start none either! All my life I had to FIGHT.
Fight for respect from old, racist, crotch rotted Millys. Fight for my people against Donald and David and their lynchmob of good ole’ boys. Fight against Candaces and Condoleezas who were live and in living color Pecola Breedloves secretly hoping for blond hair and blue eyes to the point of being cultural turncoats. Fight against Karen and her group of Susans and their fragility and tears, while siccing their racist hounds upon us. See while fighting for a seat at the table or for the capital to buy our own table, against racism, for diversity and inclusion, against the “strong, Black, invincible” woman trope, we still gotta knuckle up against other humans. It’s exhausting, we tired. But trust, while my sister is about to go in with a hot 16 on dat ass, I’m always there to be her hype man, repeating the last word of every sentence, to let folks know, “Mrs Sophia home… and things are gonna change round here!”
Like EVERYTHING else we are going to run red flags into the ground aren’t we? Yes, we are. Just like “its the (add item, emotion, characteristic) for me”, the silhouette challenge, and “whoop there it is” before it… now we have moved on to making people sick af of little red emoji flags. Red flags have been around, infiltrating your good choices and directly influencing your bad ones since Columbus “discovered” a land with people on it already. Talk about a red mf’in flag. But did that stop him… nope. And here’s the gag, you won’t stop missing those joints either.
Story time: I used to keep going back with this one guy. He was, as my bestie likes to call him…
Of course she saw all his red flags, yellow flags, black flags with the skull on ‘em, but they were hidden behind words, gestures, and bullshit that was meant specifically to divert my attention from those jokers. They were wild and dancing in the air, dying to be seen, moving in the wind at just the right pace and undulation to whistle out … “over here bitch!” Yet I still was clueless. My emotions were involved and I wasn’t being completely logical or rational. I knew something about our relationship was off, but I figured we would figure it out. But that wasn’t possible, because this dude had those big ass wartime “the British are coming” red flags.
Yes like red flags do, they start off emoji size. It’s the little shit.
•She’s a cat not a dog person 🚩 •He quotes Dr. Umar 🚩 •She refuses to get a smart TV 🚩 •He texts you mean face emojis if you don’t respond quickly 🚩 •She drives an El Camino 🚩
Then those things begin to turn into slightly larger things.
•She kicked your neighbor’s dog…twice. 🚩 🚩 •He thinks a man should have two wives if he can afford them 🚩 🚩 •She thinks cell phones are spreading cancer. 🚩 🚩 •He shows up at your house if you don’t answer your phone, because he’s concerned. 🚩 🚩 •She has shovels and rope in the back of that car. 🚩 🚩
Ok so shit is getting real and we need bigger flags. Then over time it becomes obvious…
She’s a violent psychopath. He’s a whole hotep. She’s a conspiracy theorist.
He is David Koresh meets Jim Jones. And she might be a contract killer.
So back to my story… first dude was critical of my friends and super curious about my job, especially my pay. That turned into him being critical of me and asking me questions about my finances that just were not going to get answered at that point in our relationship. Then it escalated and he brought out his big guns… talking about wanting to be married to “help me” (pause)
and to “put our money together.” Naw playa. So those little red flags became big red flags which became…burning all that shit down to the ground.
I had ignored 432 red flags. You see, that’s the thing with red flags, we ignore those little signs until they become so big and we are so invested, it is much harder to pry yourself away from the danger. When we finally realize we about to be out here bold as hell after dealing with some loser, so much damage is done, either we are red hot with anger, in the red and full of regret, or ready to set fire to anything standing or moving! But the red flags were always there. We told ourselves they were white flags or red kites, and let our emotions rule. Many of us fail to give our rational minds much space when it comes to matters of the heart. But like red flags do, they line the path to drinking poison Kool-Aid or being tied up in the back of an El Camino.
Maya Angelou said it best… it would be a Black woman giving us the ultimate wisdom on red flags… “When someone shows you who they are, believe them!”
I grew up on Burns between Warren and Moffat on the east side of Detroit. I was in this weird juxtaposition between families living in and keeping up Grandma’s house, drug dealers squatting in bungalows and selling dope on the porch, and renters tearing shit up and leaving their lawn so tall we all thought it must be a dead body in there. It was the family hood. Mama, Daddy, Granny, Grandpa, a cousin or Aunt, Ray-Ray and Pookie with the Regal outside, sporting Cartiers and Eight Ball jackets. Bikes and basketballs left on the grass. And on the corner of Warren, stuffed animals soaked with rain, discolored from the sun, tied around the light pole where some young Black person’s life was taken… hit and run, shooting, police brutality, and forgotten. The first time I saw the death bears on the utility pole on Warren and Burns, next to the mailbox, I felt like the Tenderheart Care Bear, wet and dirty from the rain the night before and splashed mud from the street, was staring a hole in me.
They were always there, every time we passed Warren to go downtown, turned down Warren to get wherever we were going, and often on our way I saw several more in memoriam tributes to lives lost in the hood. Big State Fair stuffed giraffes, the almost sad looking bears and rabbits with scraggly fur and missing an eye, sometimes baby dolls whose previous owner cut them a real bold haircut… I used to stare at those collections that left me both a little heartbroken and very confused. Representations of childhood, fun, affection, and carnivals, turned into symbols of death and more importantly the forgotten lives of the dead by everyone except the hood. These displays were basically art installations to mourn the death and celebrate the life of the lost… sad but celebratory, another kind of strange fruit, tied up and hanging from poles and trees, but colorful and vibrant. A representation of how some of us loved Black life and how others of us saw no value in it.
Usually one of the stuffed objects would catch my attention as we rode by. I never asked what happened and never confirmed or expressed an opinion or emotion. Yet it made me both angry and curious. It made me militant. It made me realize the people in my house, at my schools, myself … the personification of excellence… were still marginalized even if we continuously pushed ourselves outside those margins. We were crushed alive by white supremacy and eaten alive by cultural cycles of poverty, less opportunity, even less success, and a lack of privilege. In the city, it was as if we were left to die in this once thriving metropolis that now couldn’t keep a business open, had a ghost filled downtown area, dilapidated buildings and houses, homelessness and drugs, violence and chaos. Racism was unleashed to ensure that the hungry lacking money, jobs, food, and protection would eventually bite each other. State sponsored gladiator shit. Lynching by proxy. Those stuffed animals, our representative carcasses.
I have long moved from Burns, and in that time Black men and women, boys and girls who have lost their lives in poverty stricken, low opportunity, segregated, yet steadily gentrified areas aren’t represented by furry toys but blasted across social media. Dash cams, videos, surveillance, and technology ensures they are no longer faceless. Yet at the same time that’s both more traumatic and somehow more brutal. Out of that trauma, we have stood up and moved as one to protest and make noise against anti-Black policies and policymakers. We have called for companies who want our dollars to dismiss workers who display racist and discriminatory behavior. We have busted and rebuilt ceilings plastered with apartheid and painted in an ominous hue of black hatred. We are arming and protecting ourselves in an act of radical political warfare in a nation that still throws racist rocks and hides its white supremacist hand. We are saying their names.
And I imagine the souls on those light poles, long abandoned by their fur, are being freed from their perch, their ties popped, and they jump down and take in the new world around them, free. Southern trees bear strange fruit and urban light poles bear the souls of Black folks.
Dedicated to the life represented by Tenderheart Bear, Warren and Burns, 1983.
It was mildly okay, and it clearly suffered from being overly manipulated. It had a few half decent cuts, but it really just made me want to blast MBDTF (my fave Kanye album) and Graduation (my second fave) after I listened, because I felt like I needed some stellar Ye. Not even getting Jay on a track could sway me into seeing “Donda” as one of Ye’s best, but then again I really don’t think that’s the point. And I think Kanye had a point.
“I know God breathed on this.”
Kanye is a billionaire.
Take that in. That’s nine zeros my G. Let’s parlay there for a minute.
“I know God breathed on this”
Ok, I’m ready. This album was like Jay-Zs Basquiat dreads… the quintessential I don’t give a fuck. The place few Black men ever ascend to. The place we are all trying to elevate towards. This album is that. It’s gospel and hip hop and very very emo. It cries emotion. It praises God. It has moments of hip hop vermeil that never quite ascend to gold, but he tries to remind you at least a little bit that he’s the dude who rapped through wires. The cuts with Jay Electronica and Jay-Z are palatable, and Off the Grid with Playboi Carti and Hurricane with Lil Baby are nice. But overall it just sounds like a vibe… the places Ye found himself in and put to music like “fuck it.” Either we were gonna love it or be disappointed… but true artists create what they feel and not necessarily what you want to see, hear, feel. Billionaire artists though… they don’t give a fuuuucccccckkkkkk!
“Let me know something, who ya’ll with”
Listen, this guy is a genius. Walk with me here. Most artists, even the most popular… Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Beyoncé… they put out music that will hit radio, win awards, sell millions, so they can go on multi-city tours where they truly earn their millions. This guy went on a multi-city tour, sold out arenas during a pandemic, BEFORE any album ever came out. He got to the pot of gold before the rainbow ever appeared… hell it hadn’t even rained. He took the fashion model of doing shows, selling millions of orders, and never having to worry about store sales. Hell Dolce, Bottega, Prada, Givenchy give their dresses away to celebrities. The money has already been banked. Dude played Madison Square Garden with no album out and doing no old music. That’s other level creativity and intellect. Kanye is gonna Kanye. Either catch the vibe or choke on it. Dude doesn’t care.
“Don’t know nothing I know this…”
Mostly though, I believe Donda’s son was making a statement.“Donda” is less of a musical testimony to his mother than a personal and cultural experience of pure genius to thank his mother for her inspiration, her greatness, and giving him this life. Her baby is a billionaire who has always tried to be exactly who he was without apology, but always kinda seemed to be two steps away from pure freedom. I think he arrived and …”breathed on this.”
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!”