“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

Bonnets belong in private; Derrick belongs to the streets

I don’t care about your favorite Instagram relationship guru. I don’t care about his infidelity …. or not. I don’t care if he was on a break… how you on a marriage break, but whatever… or not. But what I do care about is women who are justifying staying in unfaithful marriage by calling upon the horrors of singlehood. That… I care about. Gonorrhea from your husband and outside kids (not the kids themselves, but the act) are a horror. Being single… it has it’s moments, but it’s not like sticking needles in your eye.

I read a post “justifying” staying in an unfaithful marriage and then simultaneously damning singlehood. I read a few such posts. They all read like women trying to still justify to themselves why they married or are still married to some ultra raggedy ass negro cheating on them. Nobody wants some poison penis thats dipped in every inkwell from New York to Massachusetts. But if we are comparing, a married wayward penis is much more dirty, no matter how much you kiss that joker up to God. A single man is free to generally do what or who ever he likes; a married man that “turns the trick pages from loose leaf to zig zag” is raggedy and dirty. Just because you picked him or lie next to him, that doesn’t make him fundamentally good . That notion just makes you sound silly. If you need justification, that ain’t it. Try again.

Furthermore, that man contracted himself to you. Either committed to love you before God; to create a family and cycle his wealth to heirs; or to keep Wu-Tang money in the family. So being ultra raggedy is being irresponsible AND breaking his covenant with you. You may choose to overlook that, stay with him, and work on your marital issues. Conversely, you might be afraid of being alone and single, insecure about your ability to find someone else, or unsure if you can handle responsibility for yourself and kids. I don’t know your reasons, and I don’t care. I do care that you taint other women with this idea that marriage, even one to a dishonorable (at most) or irresponsible (at least) man is better than being single. That messaging is toxic and just plain wrong. I typically find it’s the effort of women married to trash men to make themselves feel like someone is less well off than they are. But as someone who has been married, single, and every relationship status in between, nothing is worse than being married to a fool but a cheating fool. He belongs to the streets sis… it’s ok to accept it.

Another theme running through these posts are built upon the notion that married men are collectively better than single men… talking about your Instagram guru’s wealth and a single man’s lack thereof… often attempting at some joke about waiting on his stimulus. So, first there is nothing wrong with a man who gets a stimulus. He might be making six figures or might be a teacher, police officer, or a street sweeper. A gainfully employed man is working in the job of his choice. I suggest you get yours instead of worrying about what his check looks like… it’s not his responsibility to make your financial dreams come true. It’s your dream. Wake up if you can’t handle it. Second, you and hubby probably got your stimmy… meaning ya’ll each make less money than him. Third, there is nothing that suggest married men are better men than single ones. Marriage does not signify that a man has become better or is more valuable. It is a man who is honorable and honest who trumps. Studies show women initiate divorce 70% of the time. They aren’t divorcing single men..,just saying. Studies also show that single women with live in boyfriends do less housework than married women. Looks like single men also contribute more. You know what they say about men, women, and numbers… the numbers don’t lie.

Most importantly, our boundaries are our own. If infidelity is a deal breaker for you, that is cool. If it is not, that is cool too. You only have to justify those decisions with yourself. But putting down non-married women or singlehood in some effort to convince anyone that marriage, mostly your marriage, is the ideal place, even if it’s a trash ass marriage, is neither cool nor accurate. You might think the guru’s wife is smart to stay. Someone else may think she’s a damn fool. Opinions are like…. Speaking of asses, if your husband is a cheater, just be sure you go get checked; if they prescribe penicillin, you take the full dose; heal so you can stop acting like he wasn’t foul; and promise to never ever let him film you on video in your nighttime hair bonnet, especially when his line up is fresh and the topic is him being a whole heauxbag.

That Hotep Over There

So I preface this with… if you don’t do any of these things, this IS NOT about you. But be clear, I speak for more than just myself. Trust and believe I do. And what will not happen on my watch is that Black women’s experiences will be negated or silenced because you read about your raggedy self, you take offense, and in the name of Black solidarity or Black love you dare try to bully us out of our opinion. It won’t work. We are sick of the self righteous and sanctimonious Black dudes who think it’s their place to put us in our place, but simultaneously preach Black love and solidarity. The hoteps are amongst us. But you can’t have it both ways.

If, however, you want to learn, grow, be better, or just understand us with more clarity… carry on.

I’m a believer that often people can better see through example, they can place themselves in the proverbial shoes of the actor to see the error of their ways. Let’s go with that.

So Black women are notoriously and consistently going to bat for Black men… and many times we get the short end of the support stick in return. We aren’t built up in the way we lay down our loyalty, lives, name, and livelihood for Black men, brick by brick. We sing their praises. We keep ten toes down to fight for and with them. We say their names louder and with more fight in our breath than we hear the names of our fallen sisters. Black Lives Matter, founded by three Black women, is often used in exclusion of the Black women who have been soldiers in the front lines. We can’t continue to love Black men unconditionally when we can’t even feel a portion of empathy or compassion back. We can’t continue to break our backs carrying the stronger of us upon it… we aren’t your mule.

So here are our demands.

1. Dead the Patriarchy

So Cardi B and Megan The Stallion were the talk of the Town of Internet, USA when they released WAP. And while White conservatives blamed their absent fathers… tell that to Megan The Stallion’s very present father… there were Black men, some that I know personally, actually questioning a Black woman’s right to be respected and simultaneously discussing or rapping about her own body parts and their fabulousness.

Similarly, Cee Lo Green stayed in an interview with Far Out magazine, “Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, they are all more or less doing similar salacious gesturing to kinda get into position. I get it, the independent woman and being in control, the divine femininity and sexual expression. I get it all. It comes at what cost?” This the same guy who rapped, “I’d have my way with what’s left of the will of her. Cosmopolitans, and cocaine, and an occasional pill in her.” So it’s okay for him to rap about taking control of a woman and her parts under the influence, old Bill Cosby ass lyrics, but not okay for a woman to talk about her own parts of her own free, and sober, will? GTFOH.

So understand, patriarchy like country clubs was not meant for y’all. You weren’t included in the planning meetings. They don’t want you there… but they want women there even less. White men despise White women. Sexism has always been more universally pervasive than racism. The same way he controlled and commanded slaves, he controlled and commanded his own wife. He doesn’t want her there, just in his bedroom. But your Black ass ain’t wanted either… and when he sees you coming, he wants to channel Deborah Cox…”HOW! DID! YOU! GET HERE!” So stop.

You got to vote, legally and on paper anyway, before women were even imagined worthy… including White women. You! But be clear, both of us were sitting at home a long time, together, on Election Day! You weren’t included, and there are a lot of alt-Rights, skinheads, KKK members who still are determined to put us both back in chains, together. So act like you know.

You say you have reclaimed the word nigga well we are reclaiming our sexuality…. that they told us either didn’t exist or was too pervasive for our own good. But guess who couldn’t stay out of the WAP… BOFAYALL! They took it and it was given to you out of love and affection and desire… but you bought into that weaker sex bullshit and thought you owned us and the coochie. We own it. Understand. And we know ya’ll want it more than air and water. But you got a choice to make. You wanna get in here or the country club!? Your choice. But keep talking all that nonsense and you’ll be locked out of both.

We deserve respect PERIOD, to own and control our own sexuality by our own terms, and to be treated like human beings. You can dead that patriarchal judgement, because we might welcome you back , the patriarchy never let you in to begin with.

2. Do unto Us as we Do unto You

Every single one of my friends has been duped, ensnared, mistreated, or otherwise wronged by a Black man at some point in their lives… daddy, uncle, cousin, husband, boyfriend, whoever. Yet, yet, AND YET… we might bring a few pieces of luggage, but we chose you again…not HIM personally, but YOU as a collective. Very few Black women I know only date exclusively non-Black men… very very few. So if we can choose you as an independent person, often in the face of uncertainty, surely you can do the same.

Case in point, article after article negated Kamala Harris’s record as a district attorney and Attorney General. So when she was named Joe Biden’s running mate she was met with great vitriol about her record against “Black men” by Black men. Y’all got your info from articles written by the uninformed and biased. She couldn’t even get the benefit of the doubt, she was just guilty. But based on WRONG information. So take, for example, the article by Blake Simons of the Hella Black Podcast on AfroPunk, “Kamala Harris has been Tough in Black people, not Crime.” In it he references her failure to legalize marijuana, citing the high incarceration rate of Black people for marijuana related crimes. In reality while she did prosecute many marijuana related cases, which was her JOB, she rarely sought convictions for low level possession or jail time for any marijuana related convictions. These are the facts. His are the claims made by White conservative media that he latched into. Is she as a Black woman not worthy of your responsibility to independent research? He also claims she advocated for the death penalty in the case of Kevin Cooper and rejected his DNA evidence. Again, not true. There is no case where Kamala Harris can be shown to have advocated for the death penalty. The rejection of the DNA evidence was done by her office, as there are many prosecutors who work there, not her personally. And that rejection was not based on supporting his conviction, but because on appeal he had failed to bring up the evidence in a lower court… so the evidence was not admissible. If we are going to talk about it, let’s talk facts and not just regurgitate articles typically written by people that hate Black women… unless you too hate Black women. And if that is true, stop tryna get at us.

As a Black man with a platform, DO BETTER by Black women. Afropunk gets about 170,000 site visits a month, so it’s safe to say this article was likely read by thousands of people. It’s a website specifically geared towards telling the stories of and changing the narrative of Black people. So to use this forum to sabotage and spread falsehoods about a Black woman is heinous and irresponsible. And WE DON’T DO THAT TO YOU. Yes, Black women demand your respect and hold you accountable for your shit. Yep. Yes, Black women call out predatory Black men, famous or not, because they have abused and mistreated us and women. Yep, and we will continue to. Even then, many of us still stand by you. Black women defended Bill Cosby until he couldn’t be defended anymore. That was by his doing not ours. But that level of honesty should not beget blatant lies. We hold y’all up. Hold us up.

3. Be DEDICATED to Seeing Us Win

So example number three is on some straight Judas shit! Don’t bite me and call it a kiss.

So Master P’s brother Corey Miller (C-Murder) was convicted of second degree murder of a teen at a club in 2009. In true Kardashian fashion, Kim K tweeted that she was joining forces with R&B singer and Miller’s ex, Monica, to help free him from prison. She’s been credited with getting Cyntoia Brown and Alice Johnson freed from life sentences in prison. Sideye number one.

I saw a plethora of brother’s big upping her like she was really doing anything more than self promotion to get her law degree without going to law school, buying her way into the California state bar. The truth is the real WORK being done is by a team of Black women lawyers, Brittany Barnett, MiAngel Cody, and Topeka Sam, who have been dedicated to prison reform for years. While I do give credit to Kim K for helping these Black people pay for these lawyers and other legal fees, let’s not crown her as some prison reform activist. She is not. Credit belongs not to the figurehead but the people responsible for doing the real work, hidden from view, and not getting the credit they deserve. Her big ass, Black husband, and families’ medley of biracial kids by Black wealthy and talented men don’t make her down. She’d swallow the devil whole to be down. She’s a culture vulture… taking advantage and appropriating of the work, style, vernacular, and culture of Black people without paying us due homage and appreciation. Bantu knots and cornrows don’t make her honorary. She doesn’t really want this life… she wants the grillz but not the ills.

So don’t do that. Don’t Stan for her like she’s single handedly gonna get Corey Miller out of jail, like she single handedly did for Cyntoia Brown and Alice Johnson. Sideeye number two. She didn’t spin the gold, we did. Black women. If you must do that, then don’t expect us to be your loyal sidekick. Cuz we ain’t Robin, we are Wonder Women, the Dora Milaje, Catwoman, Storm, the Powderpuff Girls too… we superheroes out here saving lives and souls. We choose you, but we don’t need you if you aren’t gonna ride for and acknowledge us as the magical beings that we are. And we most certainly won’t be pushed aside for you to worship at the alter of lopsided ass and cultural exploitation without giving us our due.

So give us our due. EVERY TIME dammit!!!!!! Cuz we ride for you til the wheels fall off.

4. Fix Yourself

I shouldn’t have to suffer through your uncertainty, inconsistency, infidelity, abuse, or mistreatment, lack of personal responsibility, or misplaced self righteousness because I’m available. Drop that off at the therapists, cuz I don’t want it. Sure, I’m willing to help you across some reasonable crossroads, but I’m not bearing your cross. It’s not mine to carry… I’ve had to carry my own.

I’m not gonna be the Ciara to your Future, cuz I know Russell is out there. I won’t tolerate the immature playboy Jay-Z, I’m gonna call you out and demand the grown up Shaun Carter. I am not interested in inundating your unhealthy Richard Pryor foolishness into my Pam Grier goddess body. I also an not interested in your so woke you asleep Dr. Umar Johnson, Sheharazad Ali ‘How to control Black women for the culture’ bullshit. I shouldn’t have to suffer first to get some promise of the best of you later. Be your best self in that moment, the moment you walk up to me… or keep walking past me. I’m not interested. Your raggedy attempts at love are not welcomed. Bring me what I’m worth… the first time. I’ll ride, but I’m not dying… you should come with automatic seatbelts so I’m safe the minute I sit down. That’s it. That’s all.

I’m not your project or your savior. I can’t be bullied into Kente clothed submission or abused into Stockholm Syndrome. I deserve a good man ready to love me properly and completely, consistently and without limits from the very beginning. The idea that I must be tweaked to your specifications or tested to see how much I can take in the name of love is some psychotic thriller type script that Black women are disinterested in. If she does accept that and seem to like it, be careful, she’s likely not well either. Y’all should both seek counseling. But in general, we have come too far to be willing to put up with your toxic masculinity dressed up as a concerned and loving mate. Come correct or not at all!

Again, if this doesn’t apply to you, it’s just information. But if it does, do better! And when you open your mouth to speak on or to Black women, do so with our due respect. You understand? Otherwise, be ready to get exposed, cuz the cat most definitely got your tongue and she’s exposing all oppression… all of it!

The Cloak of Men of Color

Is this your King…

Black men, if you have a penchant for using women’s thighs as your hand warmers and their breasts as your stress balls because “that’s what men do”… nope. That is not your ministry my G. The same rules don’t apply to you. Just ask

•Bill
•Robert… or R-rah ( as in Kelly … luckily this is written because I refuse to utter his nasty name)
•Tavis
•Russell
•Morgan (“Say it Ain’t So” Freeman… I mean Grandpa Mo cant be out here playing God and tryna go up folks skirts)
•Neil (deGrasse Tyson… even brilliant men do dumb shit), and whatever other brother who has been accused or found guilty of sexual harassment or assault. This ain’t your game.

I am attributing no blame to any of these men… well except the one guy, who “made the water” on folks… but you are not like your counterparts. You cannot make excuses like good old Tavis Smiley who claimed that since his company didn’t forbid sexual relations and he gave no positive or negative favoritism, that he had done no wrong. Stop it Smiley… your penis is too friendly. You cannot don the male supremacy cloak to shield your wrongdoing. That vestment is only for White men. You cannot act like there is no uneven power dynamic between a man and his female subordinate who are doing the sex. You certainly can’t expect Black women to excuse your foolishness.

My brothers, these rules that your White male bosses and the guys on the golf course live by do not apply to you. You all have been hoodwinked into the realm of male impropriety and fuckboy shit. These men were pillaging the bodies of African women during slavery, your wives, sisters, children in front of you. These men are continuously allowed to grab women’s body parts by their own admission, then go on to be President. They harass the women they employ and become billionaires. Then there is your Svengali.

Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1991 after a nomination process that exposed his blatant and disgusting sexual harassment of Anita Hill, a brilliant law professor and a Black woman. The guy who likes pubic hairs in his Coca-Cola took the place of our beloved first African-American justice, Thurgood Marshall. Seems like he got away with his transgressions. Well, He’s a Constitutional textualist whose carob colored ass surely would have been seen as 3/5ths. He’s the courts MOST conservative judge despite the myriad of civil rights, race and gender based cases he’s heard during his tenure. He will invoke anti-integrationalism and limited federal powers to uphold his stance that the law is colorblind and unable to even out the playing field caused by racism.

Harriet and Frederick would rebuke him, but what’s an ancestor to a turncoat? The powers that be knew he’d promote this extreme conservatism to fuel their white male supremacy. Moreover his victim was a Black woman…no one really gives a shit but other Black women. Yet Bill Cosby, who was drugging White women left and right, got the hammer.

Rich nigga, poor nigga… still nigga.” -Jay-Z

Male supremacy is born of hierarchy and power. They once cut off your feet so you couldn’t run. Now they entice you with their dominance to effectively stop your forward progress, our forward progress. They convince you to overpower and show your dominance to Black women, when that’s not our ancestral model. You oblige them so you leave us no choice. Black women will continue to speak up and out against sexual abuse at your hands, not because we only want to punish you, but as a matter of proximity… we are your first line of impropriety. It is our responsibility to stop you and protect ourselves, if you won’t do it. So we shall. But you share in that responsibility.

Why become Male Supremacists, when you are born Kings. Kings don’t need to force dominance, they don’t need cloaks, they are born with crowns, and they sure as hell don’t like pubic hairs in their carbonated beverages.

A good man treats women with honor. -Prophet Muhammad

The Souls of Black Folks

If you rock with William or Robert because of Harvey and Donald … this is for you!

My Grandmother used to drive me insane with this idea that as Black people, many of us could not excel because we were not pleasing to White folks. She was a financial whiz, but a sociopolitical scholar she was not.

My Grandfather, on the other hand, was like the Dick Gregory of the house. He understood that Black culture and traditions were different but not less than those of other, particularly the dominant, cultures. Our secret to success was to find our own personal freedom from the bonds of racism and to embrace our otherness, because through true diversity and inclusion America would be better for our innovation, creativity, and ancestral traditions.

Seeking to be judged by the standards of elitist White supremacy will always find us defeated. All of us! It’s a toxic and hostile way to view the world!

Wanting Bill Cosby or any Black man, Black woman, or person of color to be judged by the same elitist White supremacist, toxic male patriarchal, and racist standards as those white male rapists who get off is counter intuitive and dangerous. It is most likely that your Black child, Black relative, or Black friend will be victimized by a Black person. So this messaging that a Black male rapist should get off because White men do… will only serve to keep your kids, wife, sisters, mother, friends, cousins SILENT! They most likely are coming into contact with more threatening Black men than White men because of proximity. That’s just a fact! (Cuz you probably talk about Black on Black crime too…)

But this idea that we should insulate vile Black men because the supremacist White system insulates vile White men… and even some non-supremacists who don’t know any better… goes against the fight for freedom we have marched, protested, and DIED for! Freedom from systematic racism is not just about lynching, lunch counters, and school integration. The Civil Rights movement was also about the systems of hate that permeate our lives, and become apart of our rubic when we are forced into subjugation by these White supremacist ideals. Stand up against patriarchy, supremacy, and racism. Stand up against ignorance. The movement cared about The Souls of Black Folks as much as our financial, educational, housing, and social equity.

Speak through your soul, not through your anger and bitterness about how far we still have to go based on equality. We need to care more about equity than equality, our souls more than our pockets, and embrace our own difference. Our standard should not be Harvey or Donald, but Malcolm, Martin, Marcus, and W.E.B.!

Check yourself!