Black Kintsukuroi

“Ring the bells that can still ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That is how the light gets in.”– Leonard Cohen, Anthem

Kintsukuroi (“golden mend”) is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery using lacquer resin laced with gold or silver. The beauty of the piece is the flaws that are made into art.

Black people’s hearts are kintsukuroi.

…..

But first, we are all Black in america. None of our other designations matter in this world, as much as our race. Our race is identified on site… even if our ethnicity, ancestry, genealogy cannot be as easily ascertained. It is the source of GREAT pride. It is the source of GREAT pain. It is not real…

It is not real!

Race is indeed the child of racism. Our most valued level of existence is premised upon hatred, power, and greed… death and destruction. How can any of us, whether we have been isolated from racism or not, have unbroken hearts? Shit ain’t possible! But what makes it even more damaging, is that race has no meaning. Being Black is only juxtaposed against being White. Much in the same way being poor is juxtaposed against being rich. But those designations have meaning outside of that dichotomy. “Black” is a color. It is the color of these letters you are reading. There is not a human alive whose skin is this color, just as there is not a human alive with skin that is purely “white”. Yet, white means pure and untouched, and black is associated with being devoid of light, darkness, and the shit in the fish tank the algae eat… waste. It’s not real.

In this country, Black is synonymous with ancestral African, and as a result we are all lumped together. We are primarily children of the slave trade, but we might be American, Caribbean, Honduran, Mexican, Dominican, Brazilian, or other South American designation, African and Caribbean immigrants, and mixed-race people. However our values, traditions, and customs are as wide ranged as those between the English, Irish, Scottish, etc.

“Black” doesn’t care about culture, it only cares about difference. It’s not real. It is used as a tool of oppression. For us it is a talisman of pride. In the name of money and power, our Blackness is shot dead in the street, on our own sofas. Our Blackness is relegated to a term meaning ignorant. Our men are jailed like animals, piled up on top of each other in cages like we were once piled up in ships. Our women are raped physically and spiritually. Our children, America’s sons and daughters, labeled as thugs, undereducated, underserved, and misunderstood. Yet in our Blackness we find our differences and exalt them. In that difference is where you find our golden cracks.

Black peoples are…

rich, poor, smart, beautiful, talented, brilliant, hard-working, excellent and mediocre, doctors and dog catchers, investors, kind, unkind, light, dark, sweet as honey, bitter like lemons, honest, manipulative, men, woman, transgendered, envious, jealous, supportive, from the hood, of the bourgeoisie, woke, asleep, enlightened, ignorant, basketball players and tennis champs, golfers and gaffers, everything and yet to many, nothing. But be assured, we are as homogenous and heterogenous as any other grouping of people. However, we didn’t ask for this box. It was given to us. It is not real.

Yet we have torn this box up to escape it, and put it back together with kintsukuroi. In our newness we are damaged, but not destroyed. You see, we have taken your culture and colored it Black through music, art, literature, language, and activism. It’s not ours, but we are steadily reinventing it. It’s very difficult to pour into a country others seek to escape persecution and tyranny where we face tyrannical persecution every time we walk out of our front doors. Yet we are somehow determined to offer libations to this melting pot turned stew. We continuously offer this country our earnings… rights, education, freedom, accomplishments… our voices, and our lives. But those golden cracks are our spirit. Damaged but not destroyed.

Race is not real.

Racism is very real.

Our scars are very real.

But we… Black people… are the realest!

“There is a light that shines, special for you and me.” –Common

Black Exhaustion & Success

So today I saw this video by Steve Harvey, and it spoke directly to the idea of Black exhaustion. At what cost do we buy into this theory that we are only worthy of success if we work ourselves to the point of exhaustion. It’s a known fact that healthy people need to rest their minds and bodies to combat stress and disease… yet, he states, “You cannot sleep eight hours!” Why not, and under what authority do you make that claim?

But hey this is the guy who tells women how to Act Like a Lady… go figure.

Let’s talk about this idea that to be successful and Black is to be perpetually exhausted … only if we play by rules for a game we were never intended to be allowed to play.

black-exhaustion-and-success.m4a

Genetic Entitlement Disorder

Yep… it’s real.

The concept came from a sistafriend who has been traveling the world on business. Meanwhile the world comes to me in my profession. I work in immigration. I literally see the world’s humanity displayed across from me daily. It’s a telling tale. And white male patriarchy is a tale as old as time….and spans across the globe. Yet entitlement is not beasty. And being an other is at times a struggle. Yet unnecessary struggle does not a beauty make. This isn’t just an American reality. All over the world color and gender separately and in tandem are used as a means to exercise superiority over others.

So here we are.

Entitlement is a genetic disorder. It’s been passed down from generation to generation since the first Romans and Greeks took full credit for the education Thales, Pythagoras, and Plato learned in Egypt from “very Black” teachers as stated by Aristotle in Physiognomonica. The effort to erase all intellectual stock present in those of us with African blood has continued present day. So much so, in many countries, those with skin other than milky white bleach to get that affect. It has both mental and emotional symptoms that lead its victims to have the actual belief that they are better than the rest of us also made from a human ovum and spermatozoa. Their whiteness and maleness attributes they associate with intellect, worth, attractiveness, civility, and humanity. If that ain’t a disorder, I don’t know what is.

It results in patriarchy, discrimination, sexism, hate, racism, and most of all… I’m bringing it back…bitchassness. You must be some type of bitch if you actually believe the color of your skin grants you anything but more or less melanocytes. That’s it… that’s all you get. White skin doesn’t make you better and darker skin doesn’t make you lesser. But if you anything like me… the darker the berry…

Sorry… I got sidetracked.

Anyway.

So we have one side fighting to hold on to its throne of entitlement and the other fighting to be considered. I say it’s a fight we should not wrap our hands and grease our faces for. The best way to handle someone who is a danger to you is to stay tf away from them or arm yourself. After all, it’s a disorder they choose to live with. It’s very easily curable.

Let’s start with the latter…

“woke up this morning, you got yoself a gun..” -Nas

When you wake up everyday you come armed with all you need to fight against entitlement. Your presence. Walk through every space of your life with your head held high and knowing you belong there. Partially because your ancestors built this shit, and partially because God placed you here. You see, your very existence, your brain, your heart, your intelligence, your hustle, your work ethic, your gangsta, your dope ass self is all you need in the fight. The entitled don’t want to see you in their spaces unless you are holding a feather duster or notepad transcribing their thoughts. But when we infiltrate those typically white male spaces, our presence alone chips away at that entitlement. You already have ammunition… your mighty self.

Or you can build your own shit. Walk away from the opportunities they provide that dictate your worth and the value of your skills, by dictating and valuing your own. We have it inside of us to build nations, we built this one with our bare hands. We have it inside of us to slide our chairs away, and take a seat at the table we bought with the money we earned first from them. We have it inside of us to build our own businesses, communities, banks, hospitals, schools…

YES SCHOOLS, where the entitled have replaced true history with feigned history that negates who people of color are and exalts white men to explorers and discoverers instead of murderers and pillagers with a bad sense of direction. Let’s arm ourselves with knowledge to fight against entitlement.

But whatever we do, be clear that it is their genetic disorder to cling to or release. It’s a birth mark of stupidity that they can erase through acceptance, information, education, and experience. It isn’t our job to free them from the bonds of entitlement. It isn’t our responsibility to fight their fight. As we move forward and people of color begin to outwork, outrank, and outnumber them… they’ll either shit or get off the pot.

Meanwhile, worldwide, men will continue to treat women as lesser than and there to simply attend to their needs and white and lighter skinned people will continue to treat people of deeper and darker hues as less civilized and less intelligent. It’s a mental state built on superiority…but more importantly it’s a mental state built upon personal gain. Anyone willing to oppress my humanity for gain is clearly not well, and their illness is a generational curse of mistreatment of others.

So here we are.

Syntax, Semantics, and shit

This will be short(ish).

Now that we got that out of the way….

So yesterday I had this conversation:

  • Him: The BBQ is on July 4th at noon, is that right?
  • Me: Yes.
  • Him: My sister got your message that asked if she could bring paper plates to the BBQ on July 4th at noon. She is confused.
  • Me: Confused, HOW?!?
  • Him: Call her and explain what you need her to do.
  • Me: What about can she bring paper plates to the BBQ on July 4th at noon do you both not understand?
  • I could literally see the confusion ensue. Internal chaos took over the cerebral cortex. It was a battle against the brain cells and the words were winning. A beautiful mind… wasted on the lazy.

    Sighs and exasperation flooded my ear… sounds. Words got flewed out, but none that answered the question… syllables. But no signs of life… no syntax and not even a hint of semantics. We are the creators (more on that in a minute). Yet I find this to be an epidemic… the inability to formulate (one’s own) and understand (other’s) complete thoughts.

    I’m sure there are communication gaps present in every culture, but I’m particularly concerned with my own. I really really need us to focus on our use of language. It is, along with body language, a key component of communication. But when we are using telephones, text messages, and emails… I don’t get the luxury of seeing your confusion or scowl. So brothas and sistas we gotta do better. We are the architects of this shit!

    ————

    Quentin D. Atkinson of the University of Auckland and other scholars have pinpointed southwest Africa, Egypt and surrounding countries, as the origin of language. According to his research, there are more sounds in African languages, at approximately 100, than in other areas of the world. Sound being the root of all language, and as you track migration there are fewer and fewer sounds until one gets to the farthest location, New Zealand, with only 13 linguistic sounds. Other scholars point Psammetichus I, Pharoah of Egypt in the 26th dynasty, as the central figure in language creation. Similarly, Ancient Africa is the birthplace of modern written language, Egyptian hieroglyphs. Like mathematics and philosophy, Egypt is known as the place where all modern science began.

    This is our history: sounds and syllables, syntax, and semantics all swirling together to form a language. That Egyptian pendant your mom got you in the ’80s that spelled your name, that big ankh ring you wore in college when you got real Black and proud…

    …those hieroglyphs are the basic building blocks of modern language. Our style, art, creativity is all a form of communication… telling others how we feel, imagine, see ourselves and the future. We are so influenced by that, African-Americans have a unique vernacular with deep connection to Southern American states accents and style along with remnants of West African influence. Our current speech patterns, sounds, and word use are the modern artifacts of Egyptian sounds, syllables, syntax, snd semantics. So there is no excuse.

    We have become lazy. Everything is about the instantaneous. We only want to press buttons. You can order a movie, dinner, groceries, and a ride with the press of a button. You can talk to a therapist, a psychic, a doctor, a stylist to plan your ENTIRE wardrobe, or a life coach to plan your LIFE with the press of a button. We can get cars out of vending machines. It’s the Jetsons, except we still have to put on our own pants and drive a car on the street. And yes, you have to talk or write, process and understand to communicate. No one is going to do that for you. There is no Shipt for talking and listening.

    The BBQ is on the 4th of July at noon.

    That’s not hard.

    Let’s do better. And if you know a Black person who can’t read… each one teach one. Looks like I got two people to reach out to.

    Oh… don’t show up at my house, I made that shit up! And it wasn’t that short.

    I’m out for Ancestors to represent me…

    So I’m about to school you, get a pen and paper… I’m serious, where is your pen and paper?

    Simple and Plain… Black Consumerism killed Black Entrepreneurship

    Wealth is not common in the Black community. I’m not talking about the ability to buy a Gucci belt for every outfit, but real wealth which is both a mentality and a lifestyle. We have not yet collectively mastered the science of economic health and the transfer of wealth generationally. Period! Some if it is not our fault… but some of it is!

    The two biggest factors in determining wealth are home ownership and inheritance. In The Hidden Cost of Being African American, Thomas Shapiro cites reports that 1 in 4 white families received an inheritance after a parent’s death, averaging $144,652, while only 1 in 20 black families inherited, with an average inheritance of $41,985. Those numbers are wild… but they are explainable. First, Black people make, on average, about 8 cent to a White person’s dollar, so earning potential in the Black community is stunted. You most certainly cannot save money you don’t have. Additionally, Black families are less likely to own homes, missing out in the ability to earn equity in those homes and the many money saving tax advantages of home ownership. Then the discriminatory laws and policies in everything from employment, incarceration, housing, and the environment that have plagued our community leaves us at a huge financial disadvantage. Many say segregation hasn’t helped much either…

    At one point in the Black community, we had communities that were largely self-contained. Black people in Detroit’s Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, Brooklyn Charlotte in Charlotte, NC, Black Broadway in D.C., and Denver’s Five Points we’re living in Black Meccas surrounded by Black churches, businesses, healthcare, and home ownership. Many of these neighborhoods were bulldozed to make way for highways or simply left underfunded and unsupported by the masses in the 50s and 60s.

    So at a point when Black market owners, doctors, cleaners, furniture stores, etc were creating black wealth, modernization, gentrification, the influx of drugs, mass incarceration, infrastructure, and racist policy turned that on its head. After the civil rights movement and the desegregation of our communities, our once natural proclivity for entrepreneurial endeavors waned as we couldn’t get space in these now gentrified and more expensive cities and towns. We were cut out of the small business circle, as we were denied loans and generally denied access. Where there is a lack of creation, people are forced to find alternative sources for their needs. So our ancestors creativity turned into our parents consumerism, and companies owned by everyone but us profited from the demise of our self-sufficient communities.

    Black people in this country have been the biggest targets of consumerism. And when you are consuming and not creating… you are going to generally spend more than you make. So there is little left to save, and less to leave to your children. Consider this. Big brand companies such as McDonalds, Ford, Target, Coca-Cola, and General Mills have made the Black market their target audience in many campaigns. They still manage not to alienate White customers, as their privilege makes it hard for them to feel left out. In contrast, marginalized people have a history of being left out, not considered, and disregarded. So the Coca-Cola commercial featuring Tyrese, or even going back farther, the hip hop inspired “Big Mac Attack” commercial from ’86… yes I remember… didn’t alienate White consumers and the diversity pulled in more Black customers. This is what Forbes calls a “niche first strategy”, and as it took off, well…

    Quite simply, we started spending money before we even made money.

    “Knock me down nine times, but I get up ten”

    According to statista.com, the number of Black owned businesses in the U.S in 1972 was a little over 180,000. In 2018 that number was 2.6 billion, with the increase favoring Black women owned businesses. We are indeed a people of resilience! However, the Black wealth gap has not closed in similar fashion.

    Cuz y’all be TRIPPIN!!!!!!

    Last month, I dedicated myself to purchasing from Black businesses. As I delivered that message, some of my peers made comments about rejecting that notion “just because” the company was Black owned. Demanding that the company provide excellent service to earn their dollar. Yet, I’m certain, those same people don’t always demand the same of the big names companies they frequent… none of which are owned by for us or by us. If you eat at McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, or any fast food conglomerate that shit is killing you. I can think of several Black food businesses in Detroit that never have a line, sell well seasoned and healthy foods, and instead, the McDonalds line is over the river and through the woods, and they are guaranteed to give you a Big Mac missing a patty and the special sauce. That’s inexcusable and ludicrous. And I have been to Walmart… it’s not what’s poppin! But y’all be up in there buying those bad apples, tart ass grapes, chemically laden lotions, and irregular work shirts. The Eastern market and local farmers markets have Black farmers and Black business owners selling high quality and healthy products. Instagram is a sea of Black owned clothing boutiques. So where dem dollars at?!?!

    We must decide to keep our dollars circulating in the Black community for much longer than the reported “6 hour” statistic ( a statistic that has never been proven and really has no impetus that can be tracked), and do our part in keeping more of our 1.3 trillion dollars in spending in our hands and ultimately the bank accounts of our children. We can invest in a few Black businesses, to both make a return on my investment and help provide a Black entrepreneur with some of the start up cash they need. We can free ourselves from the misuse of the credit industry… which promotes the borrowing of money to keep you in debt. No thanks! Credit is a tool. Debt is a hinderance.

    When we start to value wealth; understand how we can truly build wealth, both in our families and in our community; learn from history; and stop being so unfairly judgmental and harsh on the businesses that people that look like us run in our communities, generally with limited financial support, we will start to build the kind of wealth we need to pass that down to our children… so they are born into wealth. Hustle for your last name and not your first.

    Don’t be the only anti-affirmative action Black student in the room. Buy Black, just because it’s Black! There a millions of Black businesses, research, educate yourself, and find companies that match your needs (webuyblack.com is a great resource). I know when I write a book, y’all better buy it and read it, and buy an extra copy, just because. Black is only synonymous with inferior to those that hate us and don’t want to see us win!

    Who you wit!

    The Art of War

    “He only like you cuz you are light skinned with long hair.”

    ….light, bright, and damn near white.

    Are you mixed?

    #teamlightskinned

    The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice.

    You are pretty for a brown skinned girl.

    “Don’t stay in the sun too long, you don’t need to get darker”

    ———

    Okay first, let’s get this out of the way.

    This shit is DUMB and it is like feeding racists a power pill. We cannot continue to give power to systems rooted in black oppression. Period!

    ———-

    Light skin privilege… as real as it might be, it is not the same as white privilege. In fact, it only only has power because we continue to subscribe to these whitewashed ideas of beauty, importance, and intellect, when we know better. We allow someone else’s supremacy to affect how we see ourselves and one another. It’s the art of war. A civil war results in chaos within and a sense of accomplishment and peace to the instigator.

    1. According to Sun Tzu, “All warfare is based on deception.”

    The tale goes that White women were so desirable, White men treated them like precious porcelain figurines and would dare not defile them. They kept them locked up in the big house to keep them away from the big Black wild brutes they had working their fields. Yet Black folks were jumping the broom and tending to White folks kids, cooking, cleaning, farming… attempting to have a life familiar to them outside of slavery. And sadly, Black women were tending by force to the White men’s sexual needs. The mixed race female progeny of such arrangement became objects of desire, because they were aesthetically similar to White women but still property to do with what they pleased. Yet the severe psychological and spiritual damage done to Black peoples as a result of slavery resulted in us carrying many of these damaging dynamics into freedom.

    Lighter skin Blacks, post slavery, got better opportunities that enabled them to become more financially secure. Black men of all hues sought after light skinned Black women both as status symbols and to have kids who were lighter than brown paper bags. This was a direct byproduct of slavery. Colorism is a form of racism that not only permeates Black life outside, but also inside the culture. This notion that lighter skin gained Black people any REAL favor is untrue. True favor is never rooted in deception or the increased oppression of your people.

    2. If the forces are united, separate them.

    Black peoples come in EVERY shade from 58-7 (Light peachy nude) 323-1 (Mahogany) on the Pantone scale. We have every curl pattern and type of hair that can grow from ones head. We range from genius to developmentally challenged. We are CEOs and we are homeless. We live in mansions and minivans. Our DNA translates into an extremely diverse set of aesthetics and genetics. Our lives are as heterogenous as any other group of people. Sadly, history has told us that those of us who fall on the lighter spectrum are more attractive and favored. A very painful history.

    But instead of coming to the true impetus if this deceit, we take to infighting. Some people on the lighter end of the spectrum embrace these toxic ideas that they are somehow better, and cause trauma and pain for our darker skin brethren by perpetrating these lies. Who didn’t hear the multitude of stupid things kids would say to each other based on their skin color…

    “Well you ain’t really Black anyway…”

    “You so dark you look like a burnt piece of toast.”

    And where do you think they heard that from? Adults praising or elevating light skin and putting down brown skin. Labeling those with light skin and long and fine hair as attractive, smarter, nicer, and those with coarse hair and brown skin as less attractive, less intelligent, and therefore more angry. But never exploring the true roots of this mindset, and it’s roots in the very racism we despised. Colorism is but an internal form of racism. Aesthetics had become a weapon against us, to paint a whole new picture of inferiority that somehow we took on to fight each other. Divide and conquer. “Talking bout good or bad hair…”

    3. The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy.

    You see, while racism was initially used to subjugate Black peoples into a position of powerlessness, it morphed into a way to shut down all the systems of pride and forward progress Black people were making. Kathleen Cleaver was a light as they came, Angela Davis, Huey Newton… but these were people knee deep in the freedom struggle for all Black people. But in the divide and conquer spirit, racists began to find ways to break up the Black Power, Civil Rights, and other freedom movements strengthening the Black community. Only light skinned Black faces were seen in movies, ads, anything that painted a picture of beauty. Brown skinned women with proud afros could be in a malt liquor add, but in a skin care add, the model would be light and long haired. White companies used their advertising power and White entertainment vehicles used their widespread appeal to brainwash us. This was just a corporate house (light skinned slaves would be cooks, help care for the children, etc in the slave owners home) versus field (darker skinned slaves were to work outside in the field) negro ideology. By simply using the same tools they always had, white supremacists were able, without saying much, to get us to turn on one another.

    4. Practice dissimulation and you will succeed.

    Racism isn’t going away, in fact, the more we take our natural place as leaders professionally, socially, and culturally, the worse it will get. Colorism is a powerful tool used by racists to cause divide within the culture that leads to confusion amongst us about who really is creating the discord. When Princess Tiana was brown with dark hair in The Princess and the Frog, assumed by Disney to most likely draw a Black audience, but lightens up her skin and gives her loose sandy brown curls in a more mainstream cartoon film, it simply further acknowledges that things like hair texture and skin color do impact the how America sees people of color. We cannot just accept the apology and not acknowledge that this is about more than cultural sensitivity or a black face on the marketing team. This is an example of a very real assault on us. How many times will they lighten our skin, remove our curves, make a rule about the kind of sportswear we use, before we realize it’s not a mistake at all.

    When your President has been Black, your top athletes in damn near every sport are Black, our movies are winning the Oscars, our companies are thriving, our art is being coveted by some of the biggest design houses in the world, our names are appearing at the top of Fortune 500 rosters, and we are educating and performing at unheard of numbers… we are a threat to the powers that be that don’t appreciate diversity and inclusion in the world’s upper levels. White supremacy cannot exist without minority subjugation. So their “Sorry” is not often real, and we can’t be fooled by it. We have shut down whole businesses with our buying power and social influence… we can similarly insist that we all be included and valued and represented, across the color spectrum. But first we have to identify the racism and call it out, which effectively handicaps colorism. ” see if I care… good and bad hair!”

    Light skinned privilege is real. It is also rooted in some of the most vile and disgusting truths about the way Black people in America and in the world have been subjugated, marginalized, and mistreated. It is typically experienced most strongly by Black women, because hair and skin color and standards of beauty are just generally not things Black men are judged based upon. But Black men are not immune nor unaffected. They are usually the main targets to the brain washing, based on the images they are fed through media. The privilege is really not a privilege at all… nothing is that is so deeply rooted in oppression. It is a weapon of war used against us. Until we accept this, we will continue to blame and lessen each other’s reality.

    Being light skinned and having my heritage, my blackness, my “downness” questioned was not cool, and for many of us it was painful and isolating. Having your accomplishments lessened based on things that you had no control over, when you worked hard for those successes is hard. Even harder when your own people start to question you. Being brown skinned and being made to feel unattractive, lesser than and less desirable aesthetically, socially, romantically, or professionally caused damage to many of us that we still struggle to heal from. Being made to believe that who you are is somehow lessened based on your complexion, something some people seem to revere and others seem to hate, is a confusing and a detrimental emotional and spiritual space. We all owe each other more tenderness and acceptance of our reality. One is not more important or more traumatic than the other.

    This privilege may be something some of us have, but it is definitely something many of us of us want no part of. Yet we are here in this space as a result of slavery, rape, racism, colorism, oppression, and degradation. The oppressed don’t want favor by the oppressor because she’s more like the oppressor in some extrinsic way. That has NOTHING to do with the oppressed. Yet, that same individual cannot knowingly and willingly take that favor to better her chances. My seat at the table must be properly earned.

    I repeat, the “favored” oppressed is STILL OPRESSED! And the favor… is not really favor at all.

    So stop it!

    #teamrootingforeverybodyblack