Like Lori

There was Devin, Kevin, Tevin, DeShawn
Derrick, Eric, Peter, and Vaughn
Abel, Cain, Aaron, Hugh
Langston, Ebo, Baron , Bartholemew
Titus, I met him at the grocery store
Alex, Maddox, Ty and Theodore
Gianni, Ronny, Johnnie, Armani
Two dudes named David, Mike, and Giovanni
Jeff, Victor, Michael, Wayne
Finnegan, Harvey, Troy, Zayne
Draymond, Raymond, Gary, and Larry
Perry, Harry, Barry, and Jerry
Were all treated fairly but yet and still…

“Save a boyfriend for a rainy day—and another, in case it doesn’t rain.” -Mae West

JalenxChris

Listen… I am Detroit, hip hop, Michigan (the school not the State), Black as HAIL, and St. Cecilia all wrapped up in one. Understand, I am all about Chris Webber and Jalen Rose …pause…

and today, these brothas shared a moment on TV we have been waiting in for years. We watched Juwan Howard take Michigan basketball to heights not seen in a long time! We waited for the Fab Five reunion to support him… but when the two biggest names in that group are going back and forth beefin like Biggie and Pac… it makes things difficult.

But today, today on ESPN NBA Countdown, Jalen with his perfect D-boy line up and Chris looking a bit nervous and emotional, spoke about Chris Webber’s induction into the Hall of Fame, and this happened.

If you shed a thug tear, raise your hand!

These two have put us THROUGH it. Let’s have a history lesson.

DEEEE-troit Basketball

So Jalen Rose and Chris Webber are native Detroiters. Chris Webber attended Country Day High School, a wealthy suburban school , and Jalen went to Southwestern, a Detroit Public School. Each spent their summers playing at the legendary St. Cecilia gym under the tutelage of the late Sam Washington Sr. I went to St. Cecilia’s school from 2nd to 8th grade, and their freshman year in high school I watched these two hoop from the bleachers prior to cheerleading practice. I had no idea I was watching future NBA Hall of Famers. Fast forward, second semester of my freshman year of high school (Renaissance c/o ‘94… you know how I get down), we play Southwestern in our gym. The place is packed. At the end of the first half, Jalen inbounds the ball and takes it to a little behind half court. With a flick of the wrist, we all watch this perfectly arced ball leave his hands and stand up… SWISH! Everybody LOST it.

After the game, he’s in the hallway, and my boonapolis and I walk past him. “Hey Jalen”, I say. “Hey wassup lil mama, how you been?” “Good, good game!” “Thanks!” My boonapolis (Greek for bestie) looks at me, mouth agape… “No I don’t know him, just seen him play before.” We were 14 and very much impressed with very little. Lol. A few weeks later Jalen’s team won the Michigan High School Class A Championship and Chris Webber was named Mr. Basketball. They both declared they’d be going to the University of Michigan. And just like that basketball would never be the same.

The FAB FIVE

If you watched basketball from 1991-1993, you know that the Fab Five Michigan Wolverines changed the game. They traded those tight small basketball shorts for the long baggy boys, they wore all black shoes and socks, shunned interviews, played Ice Cube and NWA loud in the locker room, and when they entered March Madness, they shaved their heads. Along with Jalen and Chris, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson set fire to the NCAA and basketball in general… it was like watching dudes at the Rucker play against college teams. They brought all the swag, nasty dunks, and urban flavor to Crisler arena, and added some Black to that Maize and Blue. While Webber declared for the NBA Draft in 1993 going 1st overall, Rose went 13th in the 1994 draft. But while they played together at Michigan, they were definitely the stars of the court and brothas who motivated one another.

What’s Beef

Both had successful careers in the NBA and went on to commentate on NBA TV, TNT, and ESPN respectively. In 2002, both attempted to trademark the “Fab Five” phrase, which led to some legal back and forth. That same year, Chris Webber and other Michigan players excluding Rose were called to testify in front of a grand jury about their involvement with booster Ed Martin. Webber was charged with perjuring himself, and later admitted he had been receiving loans from Ed Martin since high school. As a result, Michigan forfeited all if its records while Webber was a player including the 1991-1992 and 1992-1993 Final Four victories and banners. He was suspended from playing for eight games and required to dissociate from Michigan until 2013. After the 2011 ESPN Fab Five documentary aired, which highlighted the scandal, Webber first claimed he wasn’t contacted to participate, which Rose, who helped produce the film, vehemently denied. He then declined to participate knowing the rights to the documentary would be maintained by ESPN and not the players. And then the shit hit the fan.

Chris Webber hit with the Jalen subliminals when he stated…A lot of people…after they retire or they’re looking for a job or they want to be relevant…they go back in time and kind of…make sure their importance is really known……when one guy has a million highlights of himself…as if he was the leading scorer and all the stories are embellished, it’s hard for me.”

To which Jalen responded… “One dude traveled then called timeout. One dude lied to grand jury and hasn’t apologized. One dude tried to circumvent the documentary to HBO. One dude ignored multiple requests from everyone involved after agreeing to participate. One dude slandered Ed Martin after all he did for him and his family. One dude is not in contact with the other four (which is all good). One dude has been doing a rebuttal doc for four years. One dude clearly is delusional and still in denial.”

It continued into 2018 when Webber was invited to be the honorary captain at a football game by Jim Harbaugh. Jalen called the move “calculated” to change the thoughts of those who failed to select Webber to the Hall of Fame after bring nominated a few years in a row. Webber responded saying Rose’s comment was “bullshit” and an attempt by Rose to further entrench himself in the media ranks. And in true tot for tat fashion, Jalen responded with, “ I don’t need to talk about him to further my career. I don’t sell out, I am not a media shill, I do not sell my soul in order to talk about sports on television.” Yikes. So the band and the feud played on, even into Juwan Howard’s selection as the head basketball coach. We waited with baited breath on them to reconcile, hug it out, but nope!

Brotherhood

Black brotherhood is essential and necessary. It is imperative that Black men be able and comfortable to share emotions with one another, and not just women. It is common for women to get perspectives from the feminine and masculine, regarding everything from relationships to their hopes, dreams, health, finances, decisions, etc. For many men, outside of their dialogues about women, they don’t feel socially comfortable diving deeper with their male friends, and thus suffer in silence. That’s neither healthy nor culturally sound.

These two, for Detroiters and Wolverines, were the poster children for Black male friends not being afraid to show emotion, motivate each other, and embrace each other. Their rift reminded us of the fallacy of black-on-black crime… their verbal jousting was like Rico shooting Mitch in the apartment vestibule. That shit was rough to watch. We couldn’t believe they were going out like that. And while a good few of us thought Webber was definitely on that bull… we still wanted him to get it together and just let that shit go. We just wanted them to go back to good times. Dewayne & Ron; Kyle & Overton; Fred & Grady; Mitch, Ace & Rico.

You see, Black male friendships go through ups and downs, changes and growth, the good and bad just like anyone else. Despite what you see on TV, all brothas are not against each other, and in fact, for most of the guys I know, they hold these bonds very dear. It’s important for Black men to be free to bd vulnerable with each other, as it’s something many of them are told is soft and not masculine…which is bullshit. It is important for Black men to hug, dap it up, give each other the head nod to greet men they might not know personally bit share a cultural and social affinity with. It is important for Black men to bury the hatchet, put out the fire, retreat to their corners, and get back in each other’s good graces. What we watched today was some real life Black Boy Joy and Black Men Magic. So here’s to Jalen and Chris … now quick somebody do a celebratory jit Tik Tok in Michigan gear. But while I’m waiting, go Juwan…

“Friends
How many of us have them?
Friends
One’s we can depend on
Friends
How many of us have them?
Friends
Before we go any further, lets be
Friends”- , Friends, Whodini

Don’t be this guy…Updated!

This is Kevin Samuels in 2009.

This is Kevin Samuels today… a self-labeled relationship expert and luxury lifestyle guru… and a whole ass clown. A whole one. Red nose and all.

There is nothing cute about him… yesterday or today. Let’s keep this in mind.

I’m sure we have all heard this rant to the woman who called into his podcast saying she wanted a man making six figures because she was a successful woman. He went on to roast her about being old, average looking, with a 13 year old, saying no high earning man… which coincidently makes him above average… wants an average woman and unless she was willing to date an average man, she would “die alone!” I listened and I wanted to fight him in his face for her.

Look… Kevin Samuels has no authority to talk about a woman’s looks or what above average men like… scroll up, look at that picture again. If he can be “honest” with old girl, we can be honest with him. But first let me just say this. Six figures is not billionaire status, be clear. Most of the men and women I know make six figures, and most of the men I know are not clowns either. These men love the gamut of women… because they are different men with different preferences. Some of them like curvy women, others like athletic women, some like em short others tall, some like em a bit younger or a bit older… there is no standard woman in terms of attractiveness or desire.

Furthermore, a woman is entitled to whatever standards she sets for herself, and reserves the right to bend and change those as she moves through the world… but on her own terms. Those preferences we hold closest on to, other than basic character traits, which don’t define someone as an emotional, mental, or spiritual being, but instead define them by their aesthetic or physical shell most likely lead us to miss out on good men or women. But we still have a right to our preference and standards. Men and women. There are very few things a man wants more than a woman, and his money and clothes and home and car are all objects of security meant to attract women. So yes, women, across the board, are attracted to stability and security. That shouldn’t change because of where some clown believes she falls on the looks rating scale. But then too, men who are married tend to be more successful and more wealthy. A man who findeth a woman findeth a good thing says the Lord.

I saw many posts saying there was truth to what he said… mainly by men. Be better than him, please. Don’t co-sign this wack ass, insecure, stupid shit. First of all, rating women on some scale is played out… unless you want to be rated on the length of your penis, the girth of your wallet, and the size of your credit score. Those things alone define a good man just as much as a woman’s looks alone define a good woman. Sure… we should all be attracted to our mate. But what that looks like is different for all of us and not based on some ratings scale from eighth grade. A man who comes into a woman’s life should be ready to provide and protect. A woman should come ready to provide peace and refuge. That doesn’t mean he needs to be a billionaire, but he should be stable. That doesn’t mean she needs to be a supermodel, but she should be her best. Stellar looks are icing on the cake… but the cake can stand alone.

Insecurity is a mofo. It will lead you to break down other people to their lowest common denominator just to make yourself look good… but it’s not long lasting. It doesn’t matter how far you’ll go to dead someone else’s shine to shine brighter, your shit will stay dim. You see only those of us that are good to each other ever truly become stars. This guy is posed up on Instagram and posting YouTube videos like he’s some sort of guru, and no one ever heard of this clown until World Star Hip Hop posted his rant. The same sight that posts NSFW photos of reality stars is what catapulted this fool to internet stardom… and we’ll forget about him soon. But that woman he spoke disrespectfully to will remember being put down and having it broadcast across the net, forever, in the name of honesty. Honesty is not based on opinion.

But my bet is that Kevin Samuels, despite claiming to have to fight young women off with a stick, doesn’t like women. His shtick is too familiar. There is a whole subculture in Atlanta where homosexual men marry and date young, attractive, childless, and connected women so they can rise up the corporate ladder and join Black networks under the guise of being a straight man. The DL. I suspect he is apart of that subculture. He is trying to make a name for himself, not help people. He puts down women and their want to be with stable “high value” men, and then gives men value based on their wallet and penis size. First of all, how does he know what penis size is desirable to women? Second, WHAT MAN asks other men that, that aren’t interested in men? I’ll wait… thought so. Bottom line, he hates women, and I don’t think it is because he dislikes women’s standards. You usually hate, not to be mistaken with dislike or disagreement, what you most want to be. Facts. You don’t get to roast sistas because you want to be a Queen. He’ll never be royal.

A perusal of his YouTube videos shows he thinks late blooming men, which he must see himself as… see 2009 photo above… are the best because they reach their full potential financially and physically in their late 30s and 40s and can finally attract the type of women they want. But be clear, those men were likely taken care of and coddled by hat he considers “average” women prior to their come up… and now are too good to consider those women as mates. I call bullshit. A Hermès belt and a rented Bentley on the weekends does not make you the cream of the crop.

Listen… Kevin Samuels and his particular brand of women hatred, telling women they aren’t young enough, attractive enough, or small enough to get a man who makes six figures or more is a certified crime. Especially coming from a man who is espousing this toxic garbage as a means to make himself look and feel better. You can’t be a whole two trying to tell a whole five she isn’t cute enough. Furthermore, I suspect the inly thing in his closet aren’t Gucci loafers and Tom Ford pants. You are truly telling on yourself beloved.

Originally posted 12/20/2020.

Update: Grand Opening. I just looked at my wrist. I got time today. It’s May of 2021, and the comments on this post are nothing short of hilarious. First, Black people who love and honor our rich history are descendants of Kings and Queens, and are therefore royalty. Any attempt to discredit that is ignorance… read a book.

Second, my qualifying him as a woman hating possible homosexual is not an attack on his sexuality as much as exposé. Being homosexual is not a bad thing. He very well may be standing straight up, walking in a straight line, or straight outta Compton… but he CLEARLY doesn’t like women. Dude is either upset most women want nothing to do with him and didnt want him in 2009 when he was “low value” or he is insecure about his true identity. Men who are interested in women don’t fight women off with sticks. Men who are interested in women don’t put down women especially about their opinions on another man. Men who love and appreciate women, may have a preference in a partner, but believe the feminine is always beautiful and sacred. They speak to women with tenderness even when they need to school them. He isn’t giving lessons, he’s giving out insults by the pound. That screams insecure, unhappy, and desperate. It also reeks of toxicity, man bags, and male waist trainers.

But moreover, these attempts to insult my writing because you disagree is cowardice bullshit. Feel free to disagree. Your disagreement does not sway my opinion, but if it is respectful then I can engage. I meant what I wrote, and I wrote what I meant. My relationship status does not determine my value, my character does. So all that lonely, single as a dollar bill venom is wack. Men who put down women, hate women. Facts. So you come in these comments calling me names because I gave you my opinion on a man that presents as a horrible person … a man you likely don’t know, it’s clear what your issue is. You feel attacked because you subscribe to this archaic, caveman, superficial garbage, and you are projecting your lonliness and your bitchassness. I hope you carry tampons in your manbag, because you must be bleeding. I cut HANs with metaphors and similes.

Here’s the bottom line. I don’t care what your preferences are, high value, middle value, or low value. I really could care less. But I will always stand up for Black women first, and Black people. I don’t care what color you are, if you speak to brothas and sistas like they are non-valuable because they have reached a certain age, are no longer welterweight, have children, don’t have the proper size wallet or penis… you subscribe to the colonized way of measuring a partners worth… and I might check you on it. I also will call it how I see it. Keep commenting… thanks for reading! Now back to my high value man who loves me and treats me like the Queen I am. Grand Closing.

Somebody’s Mama

Yesterday I was getting gas, and this negro walked past me, and yelled out looking at me… “I wanna be up under somebody’s mama tonight.” I guffawed. That shit was funny. Ain’t happening, but it was super funny. Cuz this Mama is only trying to be up on one somebody’s son. But it ain’t nothing wrong with being a semi hot Mama out in these mean streets.

Seriously tho… when I learned I was gonna be somebody’s Mama, I was like …

WHO?

ME?

Now I was good at doing for self but I had no idea I could cape for someone else so hard. No idea. I swore I was gonna drop him and ruin him for life. I was sure I was gonna cuss too much and his first word would be “shit!” I was sure I would mess up and he’d end up smoking menthols with a scratchy voice, working on cars that would never run again, on a diet of Church’s chicken and Crown. But he just laughed that one time he rolled off the bed, and we kept on trucking until he looked down on me at 10, sang As by Stevie Wonder for me from memory, told me the song playing was John Coltrane “In a Sentimental Mood” , and recently introduced me to my jam… a bit disturbing but containing a Vanessa Carlton sample of “1000 Miles”… “Who I Smoke!” Our love language is music. And he’s not brain dead. I’d say I did pretty good. But who knew?

Motherhood is the single most GANGSTA shit ever. Raising a Black son during this whole Black Lives Matter moment has been heartwrenchingly difficult because each of those men and boys looks just like your son in the moment. Being in a car with a teenager behind the wheel is some otherwordly, my life might end, jumping out of airplanes shit that can only be characterized as mafia life. We are out here slanging and banging for our kids, not only so they succeed but so they know what success looks like, shat restarting looks like, what happiness at all costs looks like. We blow up twice our size to carry these miracles, and sometimes they don’t take that extra shit with them. We feed them from our bodies. If that’s not the dopest thing ever. We are made to keep them nourished, as long as we are nourished. We leave men who don’t serve us to find ones who do, so they will also see positive committed love demonstrated before their eyes. I’m telling you, you can’t get more Mack and Bewick than being someone’s mother. We are honey badgers who will scratch your eyes out and eat them as delicacies if you try our kids. Gangsta shit.

If you are somebody’s mama … you are an umi (Arabic) and belong to a tribe, Ummi (my tribe in Arabic), cuz what we do is God’s work! And the lights we bear are our legacy and lineage. These children are going to do things bigger and better than we ever could imagine. We are the vessel and the alchemists to carry them into the world… literally and figuratively. So if you are somebody’s mama, and especially if you still kinda hot out in these streets, then celebrate yourself. And keep the fire lit! 🔥

Chadwick, August, and Oscar

So Katheleen Newman-Brebang, a senior editor for Refinery29 wrote an op-ed about the Oscars and it’s treatment of Black actors, especially at this years ceremony. In “It’s Time We Start Refusing To Meet The Oscars In The Middle”, Newman-Brebang references Tyler Perry’s speech for his Humanitarian Award when he says “stand in the middle because that’s where healing happens… that’s where change happens” regarding the racial climate in America in light of police brutality and community protests. She argues that change indeed doesn’t happen on middle ground, but by going where its uncomfortable to expose racism. Specifically she calls out the Academy for changing the order of this years Oscars, leaving the Best Actor Award last to play off the importance of Chadwick Boseman’s pivotal performance and expected win posthumously.

I agree. The middle sits between supremacy and freedom, racism and revolution, hate and love. We have sat in the middle for too long. I also will take it a step further, we have to start either rejecting these institutions that use our talent but don’t award it or calling them out, out loud, to their face. Hell, let’s do both. I’ll start.

I read a comment on social media that Anthony Hopkins performance and Frances McDormand’s, which are both well acted, but generally not as dynamic or complex or difficult as the roles played by Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis in The fim adaption of the play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” by August Wilson. Correct!

August Wilson’s plays were studies of authentic Black life. The Marcel waves, full bosom, hands on the hip, cocky demeanor, language, colorful clothes on richly melanated skin, the finessed use of curse words, dance steps. The way Viola Davis’s Ma Rainey drank that Coca-Cola, sweaty, hair plastered on her forehead starting to “go back”. Chadwick’s Levee playing the trumpet, tapping his feet, and later talking about the importance of keeping his shoe game tight. The need to have the music just right. God. The growl in Ma Rainey’s voice. Images that authentic need personalities and depth to match. That is what you get in an August Wilson play. Chadwick and Viola delivered.

These performances, taking nothing away from Hopkins and McDormand, started with characters as different as Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese and the Kraft boxed pasta and cheese sauce concoction. There is no middle, its almost not even the same thing, to compare it. The raw and emotional performances Chadwick Baseman snd Viola Davis delivered were rich, full of heavy cream, rich cheese, the right amounts of salt and pepper, melted together for 94 minutes until they came together and were ready to serve hot. There is no downtime. The acting starts at 0:00 and it don’t stop. That’s typical of an August Wilson character, snd that’s what they both gave… while still being authentically Black like your favorite aunt who gives you money out of her bosom and your wild cousin who drives too fast, takes you to all the coolest places, and buys you a pair of fly sneakers before he drops you back off at home.

The folks in the Academy, likely overwhelmingly White, just don’t understand that world, those characters, and the brilliance of August Wilson. So when they have to compare performances, of course they are more geared toward these typical American stories. An elderly father dealing with memory loss and a widow who becomes a transient nomad after losing her job just seem more like Oscar winning performances than a fiery jazz singer’s day in the studio having to assert herself artistically with white record executives and her wild and overly ambitious trumpeter maddened by rejection. Two are stories about life, the other two are character studies of Blackness and humanity. These people should be educated about the subject they are voting on, and be able to effectively compare these very brilliantly acted but complicated and nuanced performances verses performances by brilliant actors. If we are really rewarding the BEST, that’s not hard to tell.

The death of Chadwick Boseman was a huge blow to the Black community… he was Black Panther, our very own superhero. He was James Brown and Jackie Robinson. To find out he had been suffering from cancer during all of these pivotal performances, unknown to the public, was heartbreaking. It was an equally large blow to Hollywood. This being his last performance, its critical acclaim, and his posthumous wins in pre-Oscar award shows made this a huge moment for the show. To think the Academy used that moment to bring more viewers in this odd restructuring of the show, only to not select him is telling and maddening. There is no middle ground to respect, you either respect his legendary status and artistry or you don’t, and this feels like a don’t. To use his pivotal and brilliant performance to further your agenda, but then not even award the brilliance of his performance is the middle that we have to reject. You won’t keep using us until you use us up!

I don’t have all the answers, but I’m militant. I say don’t show up, whether you are nominated or not, boycott Oscar and his crew. Reject them giving us an award every five years or so, just to ignore our really great performances. Don’t appease us with Alonzo Harris because you didn’t give Malcolm X his due. And be clear, Tyler Perry is an incredible humanitarian. He is an amazing human being. But he does not speak for us with that passive, be easy, middle talk. Fuck the middle. Everybody knows that the best art and the best activism happens outside the lines, in the uncomfortable spaces. Oscar you are a wild boy… get your shot together and do better. August and Chadwick deserve more than what you gave them!

“A-one, a-two, you know what to do!”

black is the magic color

This isn’t about Black Girl Magic or Black Boy Joy. In fact, all magic isn’t good… and that’s what I’m here to talk about today ladies & gentleman, boys and girls. Black is the color of American racism… it’s the color that most threatens White supremacy and privilege, the magic color of hate and racism. So today, this, this is about calling that out, and simultaneously honoring the lives and protesting the deaths of Trayvon, Mike, Alton, Amadou, Breonna, George, Philando, Akai, Freddie, Oscar, Jordan, Ahmaud, Daunte, Atatianna, Sandra, Tamir, Ma’Khia, and all of our other murdered Black people at the hands of White people and police officers that most often goes unpunished.

Murders supported by the powers that be, per their lack of action.

I’m all for anti-discrimination legislation. Full stop.

Black people have a history of enslavement that dates back to the 1600s in America. We were the subject of Black Codes which limited our movement in post-slavery America; legal lynchings; Jim Crow practices in the South that maintained segregation; and continuing programs, policies, and legislation in housing, education, finance, employment, and politics in national, state, and local levels. While the 14th Amendment and Title VII have been enacted to seemingly deter racism, these and other anti-racism and anti-discrimination laws do little to stop the outright racist killings of Black people, even unarmed Black people.

The Dyer anti-lynching law was introduced in 1918, to make lynching illegal. 103 years later… ONE HUNDRED THREE… this bill is still awaiting passage in the Senate. 103 years. The act of hoisting a Black body from a tree limb, in public, by a rope, from the neck, is not EXPRESSLY illegally federally, after that practice claimed so many lives throughout Black history in America. One hundred and three years later we are still waiting for that law to pass Congress. Yet in 1998, James Byrd was effectively lynched by being dragged by truck until his head was severed. Black is the color of racism.

In 1999, 22 years ago…TWENTY TWO… Amadou Diallo was shot by police officers after being mistaken for a rapist, while unarmed. He was shot several times in his armpits, showing he had his hands up in surrender to the police. Yet just a few days ago a thirteen year old child, shown in a video with his empty hands raised above his head, was killed by police, and a young lady defending herself with a kitchen knife against adult women at her own home was shot and killed by a police officer, no deescalation tactics used. These kinds of stories come every few months if not every few days. So many times White police officers enter situations involving Black people and deadly force is the only tactic they recall, not deescalation, disarming, crisis management, nothing. The only skill they recall with Black people is how to fire bullets into our bodies. Yet Dylan Roof killed Black parishioners in a church and got Burger King after, and probably his choice of Coke or Sprite. Black is the color of bias.

In 1998, along with James Byrd, Mathew Shepard was murdered, but not because of his race, Shepard was a White gay male. In 2009, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act which added gender and sexual orientation to the 1969 Hate Crimes Act, and removed the requirement for race based hate crime victims to be engaged in certain federal activities. The law did nothing to make lynching a federal crime and is known as the Mathew Shepard Act because of its sweeping addition of gender and sexual orientation based additions to the law. While we can all agree it was a necessary and needed piece of legislation, Congress failed to effectively legislate on a practice that Black people in America had feared and faced for hundreds of years. Black is the color of inequality.

In 2020, COVID-19 spread throughout America. In part due to the then administrations messaging regarding the virus being a “Chinese virus” due to it’s impetus in Wuhan, China, anti-Asian attitudes heightened in America. This led to the introduction of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. This came to a head on March 16th when six Asians were killed in Atlanta. By April 22nd, just yesterday, the bill had passed both the House and Senate. It will surely become legislation once signed by President Biden. While we can all agree this is a necessary and needed piece of legislation, Black people have been being shot and killed by police and targeted by racists with weapons they should not have since well before COVID. Yet police and gun reform remain elusive, and people still coddle and make excuses for White people who murder Black people. Black is the color of injustice.

Hate, bias, discrimination, injustice, inequality… are all colored with the Black crayon in American culture. Devoid of light… dark… negative… unworthy. But we know better. We know we are enchanting, captivating, joyous, charming, fantastic, mystical, mysterious, desirable, amazing, miraculous, and magical. Black is not the absence of light, it is the physical absorption of every hue of visible light. We must act like we know who we are despite how others might try to convince us otherwise!

We must demand better. We must use our vote, our financial power, our voices to demand better. We can post Black Lives Matter memes and Black fists raised in solidarity in social media all day, but until we truly hold America accountable for the way it backseats Black life because of the notion that our magic makes them disappear, those posts hold no weight and don’t elevate us. The haters already know we are magic…

“Hate won’t get you high as this
Levitate, levitate, levitate, levitate”-Kendrick Lamar

“I really didn’t expect to live long…”

Those are lyrics, words, a “Prayer” from rapper DMX, who died today after overdosing on narcotics. We wish him peace, after what has been a self-admitted difficult, tumultuous, and traumatic life that was dotted with moments of brightness, great success, and much fanfare. DMX was the shit, ya heard! Nobody could make us lose our minds… say it with me… “up in here, up in here” like the Dark Man. He kept it trill always, and we wish him serenity and calm and happiness. We love you DMX!

This mantra of dying young is one we hear way too often by young Black successful rappers. Their lyrics are filled with premonitions of early death.

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

“Every breath I get closer to the death of me.” Like Me, Joey Bada$$

“Never we sleep, a thug doesn’t rest,
Cause a wise man said: it was a cousin of death”-Who Is a Thug, Big Pun, deceased

“I never sleep, ‘cause sleep is the cousin of death”, N.Y. State of Mind, Nas

“Tell the homies I’m in heaven, and they ain’t got hoods.” Thugz Mansion, Tupac, deceased

I don’t wanna live no more, sometimes I hear death knockin’ at my front door.” Everyday Struggle, Notorious BIG, deceased

When we look at reality, so many of these young Black rappers die at an early age. Jam Master Jay, XXXTentacion, Pop Smoke, King Von, Fred the Godson, Pimp C, Eazy-E, Nipsey Hussle, Nate Dogg, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Proof, Soulja Slim, Heavy D, Prodigy, Guru, MC Breed, Blade Icewood, Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly, Mac Dre, Craig Mack… the list sadly continues. Then television and media feed us the deaths of Black men littering the blood stained pavement like used napkins and receipts thrown out of moving cars. Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Oscar Grant, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. We are inundated with images of young Black men dead; the Emmett Till photos are permanently etched in most of our brains. So there is a generational, cultural, and social preoccupation with dead Black men that MOST DEFINITELY impacts their physical and mental health… and clearly their living… their LIVING.

Yes, DMX died by his own hand, but he needed help. He has needed help for a long time. He knew he needed help. Yet, for so many brothas, death is just a next step, the next progression of life. Wrong. Death is the finality of this life, regardless of what might lie beyond it. Yet when you are used to watching an image that mimics your own, dying or dead all over every source of media available, it is no surprise death isn’t expressly avoided but almost welcomed. It’s health avoidance and rejection… risky behaviors, narcotics, alcohol, unprotected sex, seeking whatever thrills one can in life to either deaden the trauma or excite the depressed mind.

It is common to accept as nutrition what is fed to you daily. So you eat poison, when poison is what is on every commercial. You similarly injest self-hate and Black phobia when that is what you see everywhere you turn. Black folks are too hood, too thuggish, too dumb, too poor, too violent, too scary, too colorful, too loud, too alive. The opposite of alive is dead. Even when we are dead there is an examination into how much drugs were in our system, how thugged out and violent we looked in photos, and how disappointing we were as humans when we were alive. Black life has no value, and Black death has no repercussions. This is the poison these Black boys and men are tasting daily. No wonder they have bitter feelings about their own existence.

We have to, as a community and culture, reject these images socially for our own mental and emotional health. While watching Derek Chauvin kill George Floyd proves his guilt on video, it does nothing but desensitize us to and normalize young dead Black men. Parents are not generally supposed to bury their children, that is not the natural order of things. Yet this is more and more common as these young men perish too soon. We want to normalize Black men living into old age, healthy and happy. We want to normalize images of old Black men in rocking chairs… not young Black bodies lying like fallen strange fruit on the ground. We want to normalize Black rappers rapping about living… not dying.

“And for as long as I can, as long as You permit me
Please give me the strength I need to live, bear with me
Amen” -Prayer II, DMX

Reciprocal Responsibility

It’s hard to be friends with people who are not consistent. I’m not talking about old friends… we have an unwritten understanding “whenever you need me I’m already there….” But with friends you are building a relationship with, in order to get to that, pick right back kind of understanding, you have to get there first… and that requires consistency, responsibility, equal effort, and hype man vibes.

Anything worth having takes work… relationships take equal the work from all parties. If I call you, you have to reciprocate and call me. If I invite you out, you have to reciprocate and invite me out. If I am available to and for you, you have to be available to and for me. Pause. Take that in, let it marinate in your brain matter. You cannot have a healthy one sided relationship… that does not work. You cannot have a friendship when it fits your schedule. You cannot expect anyone to be okay with you pushing them aside because you are busy… then see you really ain’t that busy, you are just too busy for them. That won’t sit too well with anyone’s spirit. An unequal friendship is not one at all!

Similarly, someone all up in your face every five minutes is not healthy either. I once had a “friend” who called me ten times a day, and when I didn’t answer, because she lived on my block, she came to my house. I didn’t know what kind of dependency she had with me, but I wanted no parts of it. I called her in it and she told me I was wrong… uhh ok. Her intensity was stalkerish to me in my teens, and reminded me of some weird movie like Cruel Intentions or Wild Things, and I ain’t want NO parts of that. Zero. Keep your odd angst to yourself. I could admit I was not interested in that kind of friend, but she couldn’t admit she was hawking me and bordering on psycho… an irresponsible relationship is not one at all.

We all want to be seen in our best light… but we have to turn that joker on and let it and not our bullshit illuminate who we are. You get seen in the light you use. When you deflect your responsibility in a relationship and then attempt to manipulate someone’s feelings toward you with stories of woe and misfortune, but yet always seem to be grinning and smiling with another mofo… it ain’t hard to tell wassup. In college I had a friend who seemed to friend hop to whomever she hadn’t yet exposed her true self. Once you got to know her though, she was very gossipy and jealous. That was the weirdest friendship I ever had, and totally changed my view of how people operate socially. This person who once called and wanted to hang out daily, a year later I barely spoke to. No thanks, keep that. More importantly don’t try to use me as your springboard for bullshit.

I’ve also known people who were just simply interested in having friends but uninterested in being one. Those folks need to find each other and have those social media popular friendships. But I’m not a Kardashian and I am not interested in that. Either be my real friend or move on. An unequal relationship is not one at all.

Maybe you have experienced some form of these friendships… hopefully not. But know that folks will feed you all their tales, woulda coulda shoulda, and busyness to justify why they are just horrible friends. They just are… and those of us trying hard to be great friends just end up wasting tine. You can tell someone is an awesome friends because they have awesome friends… that’s the telltale sign. I mean I know ultimately that folks adore my boonapolis (Greek for bestie) is because they see me over here being all kinds of great!

“Whenever you need me I’m already there. Its gettin’ done hangin’ out the window
Sayin’ WOOO motherfucker UH
You ride for me I’m a ride for you its only fair” Mystical, How Many

The Importance of Grandmas

Today is my Grandma’s birthday. She’s probably got on her sequin beret drinking a scotch and talking shit somewhere in the atmosphere. Nana was a trip, not at all the type of Grandma that I would have wished for but the one I got. My father’s mother wasn’t very different. No Tollhouse cookies for my ass…

Now my kid has two Grandmother’s who dote on him to levels unheard of. But my Mother… she takes it to another level. She calls him any random combination of sugar, cake, apple, dumpling, pie, love, biscuit, fantasy, and scoop usually with guy or boy at the end. So…

sugar cake boy

Grandma’s love biscuit

sugar pie guy

scoop of love sugar

apple dumpling fantasy …

I mean I could go on. The child is 6 feet 4 inches, almost 16, and she is calling him “Grandma’s 31 Flavors of Joy Everlasting.” And he eats it up. It’s like he’s cradled to her bosom looking back at me like… “HA! She likes me better!” “HA! She sings commercials to me like lullabies, what you get?” “HA! This bosom was once your refrigerator and now my head rests upon thee!” You can see the joy seeping from his on punishment for missing homework assignment pores. And while Grandma might give it to him, curse him for missing homework, she follows up by sending him $20 in cashapp to Door Dash himself a bag of Doritos. This dude…

The Importance of Grandmas

So my Grandmas… well… not exactly pioneers of perfect Grandma behaviors, milk and cookies and shit. Nope. I had a “Nana” and a “Mother” both very unGrandma like and legit untouched by the Grandma cupid, you know that little fat baby with the arrow that goes around changing folks from “mama said f@#% them kids” into “grandma’s sugar and spice.” I mean I wasn’t horribly scarred, but it was obvious to me that my Grandma’s were different.

Nana was cool, sometimes, but in limited spans of time… and then it was like she had had too good a visit with you so she had to get ignant, ruin it. I was prepared for as this was her thing, posing as Eve… really a snake. She’d ask you to sit on her lap to tell you that you were getting fat… or make you a ice cream float and then tell you you really need an apple. Ain’t nobody eating your apple old lady. Nana was like the bully I never had at school… it was rather irritating. I eventually just learned to ignore her until she attempted that same mess with my kid. Then I let her have it. Dang, you can’t even get it right once we add a “great” to your Grandma. Geez.

Similarly Mother was equally difficult …for me. I was Nana’s only grandchild, but I had cousins and brothers and sister’s on my father’s side… and some she seemed to like more than other’s. While Nana was equally negative with everyone, Mother seemed to favor the underdog. I’ve always been an overachiever… so she would take it upon herself to remind me of some old mistake or failure I made every time she saw me. “In 1982 you didn’t…” sure to point out my flaw but never her own… of living in the past. As a kid when I wanted to go home because she made me sleep in what I thought was a haunted room alone, she remarked that I didn’t like her as much as my other Grandmother. Nope, not true… I’m not particularly fond of either of you. 🤷🏽‍♀️ Similarly when she pulled the same mess with my kid, I just pretty much left her alone. Like we give you every chance to be great…

I missed the baking cookies, warm and fuzzy feelings, pulling me to her bosom and call me “unicorn frosting of my heart” kind of Grandma… but I got what I got. The one taught me to always consider others and find a fella who would dance with me, and the other to follow my dreams so I didn’t fault others for following theirs. I’ll take those lessons as their pet names and hot cocoa on Saturday nights with the extra big marshmallows. We don’t always get what we want, but we get what we need.

In the meantime, my mother has texted my son that he’s the “wing beneath her butterfly wings and the stars in her lilloquoi moonlit sky, with sugar cake and sweet scones dancing the waltz to Lil Uzi Vert and Travis Scott.” She also blasts rap songs, so that’s a major plus! She got those Super Grandma Powers!