Divorce is Ok

I have a wide cross section of friends who are married, single, divorced, some in relationships and others not. Most of us don’t define ourselves by our marital or relationship status, they are surely a large part of who we are, but not indicative our whole person. There are a few women I know personally and many I’ve encountered socially who are married and believe divorce is quitting… or they say things in that spirit.

I’m here to tell you that it most certainly is not!

I have been married. I’m currently divorced and in a committed relationship. I am a serial monogamist. I am that girl whose friends say “you always have a man.” The truth is, if I always had a MAN, I’d still be married. I have been in relationship with many men who simply were not mature enough to be with someone who has her shit together, standards, and her own. I have never been looking for someone to take care of me or to lace me, I lace myself… but I am certainly looking for a life partner. In that process, I have had to learn the hard way what is best for me. That means there are some things I’m unwilling to be involved in long term. Period. But ESPECIALLY for a lifetime. We should all have some boundaries. I honestly believe many women get married and shed and erect those boundaries as they go. As Tamar would say… that right there, she don’t do that !

Gone are the days when women had to be and remain married for financial security. Hell, not that I would suggest it, but women are choosing to have babies without a mate… times have changed. Women spend as much time outside of the home, working to financially support her family, as men do. I have plenty of friends who bring in more than their spouses. But even with those very clear markers that women no longer need to completely sacrifice and compromise themselves to stay married … never had to frankly… we continue to do so.

Be clear, I’m not suggesting divorce as a remedy for simple marital problems. I am suggesting that when you see signs that the man you chose does not intend to respect, consider, and commit to you as fully as you have him, after you have exhausted all other remedies, you don’t have to remain with that person who is refusing to treat you well. Period. We all have our own boundaries… mine are simple. If you are unfaithful to me by bringing another person into the intimate bounds of our relationship or by sharing your body with them, you gotta go. If you mistreat me or my child, you gotta go. If you steal or take from me, either materially or otherwise, you gotta go. Lastly, if you are unable to be trusted and show that continuously by your actions, you gotta go. Otherwise, the table is open for discussion and solution. But I’m not talking about you being unable to control yourself sexually, financially, or behaviorally. Go talk to a therapist.

Those women who qualify it as quitting, are typically women afraid to be alone. Women who say things like, they feel sorry for women who are dating. Women who don’t know their own strength and power.

If I’m practicing for a marathon, and the shoes I picked are not supporting me, are hurting me, are making me feel like I can’t finish the race, it’s time for a new pair of shoes. Doesn’t matter how much you spent on the bad shoes, how long you had them, or how good the reviews were. You need good shoes to plant in to make your relationship with the ground as steady and solid as possible. It may rain, the sun may go down. Other people may be ahead of you, or pass you, but your only competition is you and if you felt like you gave it your best. You can’t be at your best with janky shoes. You can’t be at your best with a janky man either sis!

Marriage is hard. Divorce is much more difficult. When you cleave to a partner, to end it, you have to chop them off like a limb. And like an amputee you will feel phantom emotions from that person you cut off. It’s very much like death. It’s also much like ending a book before the last chapter and having to wonder what might have been. So before you make that choice you have examine and exhaust all the possibilities for healing. But if you dig and find nothing but more dirt, eventually you can stop. There is nothing there. The choice is yours… but by no means is it a choice based on quitting. It’s a choice based on you, choosing you.

If you happen to be reading this and you are married and have sacrificed and compromised yourself into a person you no longer recognize for the sake of marriage, but you choose to stay, I hope you find comfort in that decision. But don’t attempt to weaken the person who makes a different choice. Like you, she too deserves support.

As for me, I chose not to subscribe to the very negative propaganda that is spread about Black couples, Black marriage, Black men, Black women, and Black love. Marriage is difficult to maintain across the board, but so can be your sense of self. One shouldn’t be sacrificed for the other, ever. Choosing you is NEVER quitting. It is imperative. Divorce doesn’t make you a quitter, just a survivor.

If you need to… and only you know that, quell the chatter, divorce is ok!

Hey… those are Lucy’s Diamonds

So let’s start from the beginning.

Ancient Greek philosophers learned Mathematics, Science, Language, the cornerstones of intellectual thought, deduction, and reasoning in Egypt… from Egyptians… in Africa. They wrote of this in the history of their philosophical manuscripts, but that’s not apart of general education. You can’t subjugate and marginalize people if they know you learned everything you claim as the basis of your superiority from them.

Similarly, the oldest human bones were discovered in Africa. Lucy is everyone’s ancestor. Yet that’s not apart of general education. You can’t mistreat and brutalize people if they know your racial categories are just made up tools of classic, racism, and supremacy, and they are the original beings from which everyone else descended. Lucy is humanity’s guiding star. We all see through her eyes… a collection of history and tragedy and triumph that shifts and changes colors like a kaleidoscope.

But let’s fast forward to modern day, during the most racially tense time we’ve seen since the Civil Rights Movement… where Black people are told to go back where they come from, that they come from shithole countries, that them living amongst the majority is understandably unwanted, and that their dead bodies being laid out in city streets like urban snuff movies… when images such as the one above permeate the media as a joke. But in reality it is our thoughts, art, music, style… cultural intellectual property… that is stolen and used like it emitted from their fingertips like pure magic. This can be especially true in the professional dynamic between White women and Black women. We are sick of Melania. We are taking control of our own credits!

I work as a public servant. I’m underpaid and overworked and could make much more money in the private sector… but this is the path I chose. I have a law degree and upon getting my job where I decide, analyze, and write legal decisions for federal service, I knew as the only legally trained officer I’d fare well. And I did, at first. I moved to more complex and autonomous cases quickly, leading to my first promotion training other officers. I helped develop a program used nationally to help prepare new officers learn the law in a practical setting. And then our office got whitewashed. All the minority leaders were pushed out, and my Black face didn’t look like success. So, they found a way to push me aside and hire White women to benefit from my work and take credit for it. But nope… I keep all the receipts. You won’t cheat off my paper and get an A while I get a B.

So here it is… put your name on it. Add your spice to it. Pour honey and cocoa on it. Make the shit yours, so nobody can ever mistake that it belongs to you. Be Beyoncé with it. Put on your leotard and nude stockings, bling it out, and Black it out. So when they put on them dukes, holographic fringe boots, and cropped sweatshirt… you know it’s appropriated cuz it’s missing your tag. Make sure everybody knows it’s yours. Make them work for their own if they want the credit for excellence.

Similarly, be your own voice, and make everyone else have to use theirs if they want the credit for change. How often Black women are allowed to put themselves on the line and speak up for the mistreatment of women because we have experience speaking up for mistreatment because we are Black… with no support on the front lines. Then in the mess hall everybody wants to big up you for saying what needed to be said. Nope! Speak for you until White women, Asian women, other women of color join you as an ally. Talk in the office instead of in the conference room. Don’t kneel for anyone who wouldn’t even stand up for you! Take fierce ownership of your intellectual property.

Michelle Obama is a national treasure. Melania Trump is the President’s wife. We ain’t all the same. Some of us make history, others of us just want so badly to be great again. Some of us are Lucy, and ain’t nobody fucking with our clique!

“Picture yourself on a train in a station
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile
The girl with the kaleidoscope eyes… Lucy in the sky with diamonds”
-The Beatles

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!

Be Culturally Appropriate

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

And I have opinions.

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

NOPE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be culturally appropriate!

This ends the PSA… be well!

Queen me Slim

(Spoilers)

Listen…I saw Queen & Slim last night, and it was first and foremost cinematic excellence.

“Why Black people always have to be excellent? Why can’t we just be ourselves”

Well… sometimes who you are is just fucking excellent, and Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas are that. This movie was black on black, and it spoke on love, brutality on Black bodies, freedom, and protest. It was in so many ways #BlackLivesMatter on film. It was also so much more. I found myself paying attention to things I don’t normally think I would have. It made me feel things I didn’t expect to. Let’s get into it.

1. Black Skin

This movie moved around melanin.

The cinematography highlighted it. The colors that surrounded it seemed to make it look smoother, richer, and more beautiful. The bodies of the title characters intertwined on the side of the road, was like watching chocolate stirring. The scene at the jazz club, appropriately called The Underground, was a sea of Black skin, darkest mahogany to cafe au lait, moving in syncopation with the heavy blues music. Uncle Earl’s “girls” moved about in lace and natural hair, bodies thick to thin, and skin glistening. It was a huepalooza! Everything seems to move around it. Everything.

2. Black Freedom

What starts as a blind date, ends up as a freedom story. The couple moves from Cleveland to Florida, trying to escape to Cuba and avoid certain death for killing a police officer in self-defense. It’s a typical traffic stop turns fatal, but this time the usual victim turns the gun on the clearly racist cop. Somehow in this struggle they find strength and freedom.

As they move through the country, they are celebrated and protected by other Black people along the way. It’s not a celebration of their killing the officer so much as a celebration of their remaining alive. A vindication of sorts for the Black folks they encounter who have grieved for Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Willie McCoy, and countless others. It’s also a celebration of the Black network. The Uncle Earl’s along the way that often help all of us when we are in precarious positions, to find our way out. The various people they meet along the way that cry for them after they perish. I am my brother’s keeper.

Most importantly, they find themselves. The uptight and loner lawyer is able to heal from her past and embrace sharing her most personal and intimate spaces with her cohort.

 “I want a guy to show me myself. I want him to love me so deeply, I’m not afraid to show him how ugly I can be.

They fall in love as she is healed and he is able to be his true self, telling her about his wants, fears, shortcomings.

“I ain’t going to bend the world. As long as my lady remembers me fondly, that’s all I need.

To be able to love and be vulnerable is the greatest freedom. It’s a love story sure, but much more a freedom story.

3. Black Culture

Music

jazz, hip hop, blues, gospel

Clothes

snake skin boots, jogging suits, jewel tones, gold, animal print, Gucci, lace, sexy, all white

A major big up to Shiona Turini as costume designer. That fur Bokeem Woodbine wore to the funeral was some of the dopest shit I’ve seen in a movie in a long time, fashion wise. And that Dapper Dan jogging suit was major. Way to focus on Black fashion!

Ancestry

Langston (as in Hughes) the Black cop who let them go ; The Underground (as in Railroad) club and the bartender like a Southern Harriet Tubman “you’re safe here” and the reverse fugitive slave narrative (North to South); and Assata Shakur’s escape to Cuba after escaping from prison for her part in a shootout that left a white cop dead.

Being Black in America. After shooting a cop in self-defense, they become the criminals simply because they are Black and the cop was White. They are hunted, labeled armed and dangerous when they don’t even have a weapon, and killed, her by a overzealous female cop and him execution style, holding her lifeless body, unarmed, and clearly not dangerous. We don’t ever hear their names until the end… Angela and Ernest. The news clip is the same victim as criminal shit we heard after pictures of Trayvon Martin putting up the middle finger and Michael Brown possibly robbing a party store were used to lessen the severity of their murders. We are assumed criminals by birthright in America. We are born into the bondage of racism.

4. Black women

I watched Angela Johnson go from a judgey, I’m smarter than you stoic figure dressed in all white with her middle parted braids to a flirty, sexy, fun woman in a short dress, short hair, and open and vulnerable disposition. She was every woman. She was me. She was my sistafriends. She was strong and afraid. She was in control and able and willing to relinquish it. When they both knew their lives were over, she looks to him and says “Can I be your legacy” … the ultimate ride or die. And while most of us aren’t willing to pledge death, we will die for what we believe in. And she believed in Ernest. Black women are all these things. We were represented well.

“He is nothing out there, but in here he’s a King!”

A Queen is indeed her King’s legacy!

Queen & Slim was an excellent film. It was a full circle film, where everything made sense. At one point Ernest attempts to assure Angela telling her that they are safe because the person they encountered was Black, and she remarks “that’s not always a good thing” under her breath. The movie, which rides the music in the film in perfect rhythm, reaches a crescendo and her comment rings true when that Goodie Mob meets Hootie Hoo snitch ass negro feigns helping them to turn them in. Ole sucka MC ass! Sorry… he made me feel a way! A testament to good acting. Did I mention that Bokeem Woodbine was awesome…

These characters, these actors, the fimmakers… they are Black excellence. They don’t have to try, they can’t help it, they just are.

I deserve this, bye

Y’all know how I do… I applaud all dope girl shit, and don’t be Black too… cuz how does the saying go …

Speaking of Issa Rae…

Her speech at the Women in Film Awards was the stuff all dope girl shit is made of. It was witty, clever, creative, real, and absolutely awesome af. Sis said…” we are conditioned socially to be humble…and I grew up in the age of hip hop…. none of my favorite artists are humble, they don’t even know what that means…” She went on to give a hip hop inspired braggadocious speech about being the first to win the Entreprenuer award saying…”I’m the first so you future hoes need to bow down unless you wanna catch my fade, wit yo week ass!”

I was all 😂🤣, then all 🤷🏽‍♀️, then all ✊🏽! Listen here.

It was the epitome of litty!

But let’s be real, any woman who grew up in the 80s and early 90s and listened to LL, Big Daddy Kane, Special Ed, Snoop, Nas, Jay-Z, and Big L really can’t be faded. We excel then prevail. We was nice before ice. We could sell water to a well. Walking with a switch, talking with street slang. It ain’t hard to tell. We break em and bake em and rake em and take em and mold em and make em.  We will not lose, ever. We… are the magnificent.

That’s right, we are unapologetic about our shine in 20-1-9. It’s one of the most rewarding results of the impact of hip hop on the culture. It gave us permission to let a nigga know we the bomb, and… you can MOST CERTAINLY catch this fade.

So to all those that say be humble, we say…

…sit down!

That’s right, cop a squat, get comfortable, and if any of this confuses you… Lemme learn ya.

………..

This. IS. a public service announcement:

In 2015-2016 64% of all bachelor degrees awarded to Black students were earned by women. In that same year, 9.7% of Black women were enrolled in various college programs, higher than any other race or gender. (National Center for Education Statistics) We smart out in these streets.

From 1997-2013 companies started by Black women increased 258% and had revenue of $44.9 billion dollars. (Blackdemographics.com). We securing bags out in these streets.

In 2019 we have 22 Black women serving in Congress, out of only 42 in history, with Shirley Chisholm being the first elected Black female US Representative in 1969, and Carol MoseleyBraun serving as the first Senator in 1989. Today we got Auntie Maxine reminding us our time is valuable; Ayanna Pressley giving these white boys hell and hella sideeye; Ilhan Omar representing the culture and the struggle; and Jahana Hayes showing that teachers, perhaps the most important career professional, needs a seat at the table to represent the needs of our future. Too.much…sauce.

But it’s some hoes in this house, so…

We still make considerably less than any of our White or male counterparts, making 64 cents to a White man’s dollar. In the venture capitalist world, we get very little investment support for our ventures, making up only about three percent of investment dollars spent in 2016. There is currently only one Black woman that runs a Fortune 500 company, Mary Winston as as interim CEO of Bed, Bath, and Beyond, out of the 33 women in total. We own ZERO Fortune 500 companies. Even in the federal government, though Black women make up about 11% of the workforce, we are grossly underrepresented in the higher paying GS levels and SES level jobs. (opm.gov)

Our positioning is just one thing. We are forced to navigate issues of race and gender that others simply don’t have to consider. We are simply left out of the dominant cultures conversations and decision-making. We often have to find sponsors, particularly of color -which is challenging in itself, to help us get special projects, interviews, promotions. We are forced to code-switch as Black vernacular, style, and values, while copied by the majority, are not valued coming from us. If I hear blah blah blah “gurlfren”, or such and so’s “babee daddee” with some feigned attempt at colloquialism by my privileged co-workers, one more time, I might let out a tribal scream! We butt heads with Black men attempting to play a game of patriarchy they were never included in, with White women, whose feminism we simply don’t fit into, and even other Black women who have bought into the dim your light strategy. But yet…In the words of Antwon Fischer…”You couldn’t break me. I’m still standing. I’m still here!”

We figure that shit out, because we have no other choices. It may take us longer to break those ceilings, but when we get close we breaking holes in high definition, loud and clear! Many of us leave corporate America, with its racist and sexist ways, lack of diversity or inclusion, and failure to implement real family friendly policies, to bet on ourselves, bet on each other, invest in each other. We are designing furniture and sneakers. Moving from online Instagram boutiques to brick and mortar stores. Opening restaurants, and selling our cosmetic, food, and clothing lines in major retail stores.

We find ourselves growing apart from or just having to drop off those dim your light sistas and patriarchal brothas. So often we have to build our own supergroups. We epitomize the hip hop crew philosophy, get you a clique of like minded individuals with one goal… success. Like the Zulu Nation, Native Tongues, and BDP to our hip hop juggernauts Death Row, Bad Boy, and No Limit, Black women have created and crafted groups of like minded sistas, personally and socially and professionally, in everything from entrepreneurship to tech to fashion and even health, media, and motherhood. The bonds we form, help us find the tools, opportunities, and assistance we need to move forward and progress.

“We can’t stop now b*tch. We can’t stop. You can’t stop us, so b*tch don’t try.”

So while there has been a lot of hateration in our dancery… our sistafriends are also apart of our crew. They “gon pull me up… never let me drown” and make sure I’m mentally healthy enough to be the boss I was born to be. Sometimes they are both our personal and professional support. Other times, they just hold us down by ordering mimosas, sending a care package, listening to a rant, or doing choreography on a balcony… whatever works!

And when we win, because we will win… they win! When we eat, they eat. And when they call our name, we taking everybody on stage, the whole crew, Ty-Ty, Jungle, and all ’em. “What about your friends”… they better than yours that’s what! “…they pray and pray for me. See better things for me. Want better days for me unselfishly

So as you can see… Black women are legit. We overcome. We support. We defy the odds. We succeed in spite of. We won’t stop. We WANW. And we have to let folks know from time to time: I deserve this, bye!

Makidada

Weezie & Helen

Florida & Wilona

Pam & Gina

Whitley & Kim

Joan & Toni

Cleo & Stoney

Taystee & Poussey… (real tears)

Suzy Skrew & Sascha Thumper (thots need friends too)

Issa & Molly

Celie & Nettie

We don’t need “Thelma & Louise” we got our own Black Girl Besties in History to choose from. Don’t underestimate the real life need for a Black Girl Bestie. She is like your very own superhero. I call mine boonapolis, that’s Greek for she’s mine (not really, but go with it). Every so often she just unties my cape, puts it on over hers and scoops me cuz I’m out here tired, sleepwalking, had too much tequila (ok that’s usually her), being wild, or just need to be Robin for a little while. So she does her whole Batwoman thing… slaying and what not. Lemme explain…

Basically, it’s hard out here for a pimp…

and by pimp I mean “Phenomenon in Melanated Pulchritude” (you’re welcome and yes you can use it…)

… and we need some support. A group of like minded sistas is very important, but that one you can depend on, the keeper of your secrets, the holder of your most deep truths, the one that keeps their “dressed in all Black like the omen” outfit in a duffle in the trunk, always ready to knuck if they buck…she is very necessary. And when people say one name… the other usually follows.

👏🏽You and me, us never part 👏🏽

In a world that diminishes us no matter how much they mimic us, she is like your shadow, the only one that really understands. She knows your number; she remembers the ones you no longer claim. She completes your thoughts; she knows what you are thinking. Y’all got inside jokes and code words. She will call your ass ALL the way out, and everyone else knows only she can do that. Likewise you call her on her shit, because every partner in crime needs an equal partner. You help bury her dead bodies, she’s got a shovel in the trunk too. You know how we do.

Most importantly, she knows your heart. While you are code switching in your intersections all damn day, you can send her bat signal and she’s ready!

If you are sensitive, she guards you like Fort Knox. If you are sarcastic, she enjoys your banter. When you suffer from uncertainty she adjusts your crown and reminds you that you are royalty. When your heart is broken she reminds you of how awesome your heart is when it’s healed and whole, and waits until you are okay to remind you that she said he was trash. She gives you a safe space to talk about your passions, face your fears, and be your authentic self.

👏🏽You and me, us have one heart👏🏽

Likewise, you pick up the phone in the middle of the night because she knows you like sleep… so something is up. You let her know her fave movie is on, and and pray for her because some things only God can do… limitations and what not. She is your person and you let her know by being a constant and continuous support. By cheering the loudest when she wins, and being there to help her up when she has a loss. Bottom line, when one is falling, the other one has the parachute…

You see, your best girlfriend will say shit that makes you think… mind blown! They will give you advice tailored just for you, because they know you so well and they can relate. They are like your life partner with the same PMS, love of mimosas, and attraction to men with strong backs. She will be uncomfortable for you. She will be dependable and loyal to you… even if she doesn’t give other folks that same energy.

👏🏽Ain’t no ocean, ain’t no sea👏🏽Keep my sista way from me 👏🏽

For Black women, our bestie is much more like a sister. We go in the refrigerator and might go find a place to take a nap. We just show up at family dinner… cuz we are family. Her mom and dad like our own. The kids think we are really related. Blood couldn’t make us any closer. Now maybe you are lucky enough to have two or three… but most of us are too flawed and complicated to have more than one Nettie to our Celie. Someone who will hold on to our collective promise to be by one another’s side. Our best friend. Our greatest confidante. So, we stay on sideeye… she all we got!

It Ain’t About HER it’s about US

I want to shake some of y’all until you get brain damage, because at least then there will be an excuse for you being so DAMN ridiculous. You have a conspiracy theory about everything… but when it comes to negative shit about Black women, you will ride that shit ’til the wheels fall off. It doesn’t have to be even mildly rooted in fact, because we are the poster children of oppression. We are sitting at the intersection of race, sex, and class and we never get the right of way.

In America, what is White, what is male, and what is wealthy is given absolute power. In order to maintain this power, wealthy White America has set up these systems that keep anyone different from them at a disadvantage and they are able to get others (non wealthy Whites) to buy into it by convincing them to fear and ultimately hate those differences. Black men are the tools they use to effectuate these systems, by weakening them financially and socially, imprisoning them and miseducating them. Black women threaten their power and the objects of their protection, White women, because we make their dicks hard. By robbing us of our protectors, our men, we are left to fight alone.

And fight we have! In the past 100 years, no group has improved its standing financially, socially, and educationally more than Black women. Black woman owned businesses have increased over 200%; we are earning graduate degrees at two times the rate of others; and although we still only make 60 cent to the dollar of White men, we continue to increase our numbers in politics, higher education positions, and management positions- especially in companies that value diversity and innovation.

But as we have climbed, we simply do not gather the support of our own and don’t receive as much support as Black men, who we often lead the army in protecting. It’s a very perplexing fact. The numbers of Black men and Black women supporting R. Kelly and Bill Cosby was expected, and sadly not alarming, even after hearing of the numerous Black girl children Kelly had violated. When Black women are violated, it’s barely reported and barely shared. Over the past year hundreds of young Black girls have gone missing in major US cities, most of us can’t name one. Yet we still see the graphics of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Oscar Grant and the many other young Black men killed by police officers on their birthdays and the anniversaries of their death years later. All these children, male and female, deserve to have us #saytheirname. But sadly, Black female victims rarely get that same support.

Enter Kamala Harris.

On January 21, 2019, Senator Kamala Harris announced her 2020 Presidential bid. The American machine churned quickly and turned out a myriad of articles misquoting facts and painting her as inadequate for the position. She was blamed and labeled non-progressive based on prior positions as District Attorney of San Francisco (where the prison population decreased by 2011) and Attorney General of California, and the increase in the prison population in that State during her tenure.

The Two Faces of Kamala Harris – Jacobinmag.com

Kamal Harris law-and-order past threatens progressive 2020 bid – The Washington Post

Kamala Harris Hopes You’ll Forget Her Record as a Drug Warrior and Draconian Prosecutor -Reason.com

Extramarital affair with Kamala Harris? Former San Francisco mayor, 84, admits it happened -FoxNews

Kamala Harris: Criminal justice reformer, or defender of the status quo? The record is mixedPolitifact

Kamala Harris has been Tough in Black People-Not in Crime – Afropunk.com

It was to be expected, Malcolm X told us! But sadly, we are victims of our own ignorance. The Miseducation of the Negro is real and we still allow it. So shortly thereafter, Black media sites started to regurgitate these articles, when it was clear their authors skipped American Government 101 and don’t even know what District Attorneys and Attorney Generals do. One of the most heinous was the Afropunk article written by a Black man, which stated, “It is clear that Kamala Harris is not for the people. She is for the American empire. Don’t let her identity as a Black woman, or her identity as an AKA, or her status as an alumna from Howard University fool you into thinking she is actually for us: Kamala don’t give a fuck about you niggas.

It was an article full of generalizations that failed to look deeper into her role as DA and AG, the responsibilities of those roles, the system she inherited, her actual numbers, and the circumstances surrounding the increase in violent crimes and the rate of recidivism in California. It also generalized her stance on certain issues without an analysis into why she took those positions. Her record is not without contradiction and questionable decisions, but to imply she doesn’t care about Black people is asinine and without merit… and this from a Black man. As Natalie Hopkinson, a professor at Howard University stated, “A lot of black men are just not hearing what black women are saying because they are too busy complaining about their own situation.” We are not your enemy bruh!

As a black woman, the decision to love yourself just as you are is a radical act -Bethanee Bryant

The reason why some Black women have given Harris their vote until she does something to lose it, is because she stands at a disadvantage NO ONE but us will ever understand. She has her loyalty to Black men questioned. She has her Blackness questioned. She has her affiliations with anything historically and authentically Black questioned. She has her sexual and relationship choices questioned. She has her heritage questioned. Only because she is an attractive light skinned woman has she yet to have her looks questioned, and we understand that shit better than anyone. So we choose to stand by her, because standing by her is standing by ourselves. And this time, no matter how much major media attempts to lessen her and Black men attempt to silence her, Black women will support her, even if she doesn’t get our vote. We are never allowed to make mistakes, make wrong choices, or choose ourselves without being labeled traitors to the culture. We birth the culture, hold it in our womb, so miss us with all that!

We are living our best lives, and we give a fuck about y’all, but we ain’t going back and forth with you niggas!

Black Mixed with Black

“I’m light skinned, but I’m still a dark n!%%#…” Drake

I love this line, cuz people have assumed my whole life that I got it easy cuz I could check several boxes on the race question and no one would question it… but the only thing I claim is the only thing I am… Black.

I got two Black ass Afro wearing Black power fist raising parents. My mama dropped me off at high school bumping Ice Cube… my mama. We had Black ass records in the house… Miles Davis, Coltrane, Aretha, the Isleys, and brown Michael Jackson, and Prince before the Just for Me relaxer. We had Black ass food… franks and beans, tuna and peas, hot water cornbread and fried chicken, black eyed peas and greens, cabbage and corned beef, and that big ass yellow block of cheese on occasion. We had Black ass books… My mama had Soul on Ice on the bookshelf and my granddad had The Miseducation of the Negro, the two I remembered most, among the other Baldwin, Lorde, Giovanni, and Black Panther penned books. We went to Black ass places, Eastland, the African World Fest at Hart Plaza, and Shrine of the Black Madonna. I know nothing else, but who and what I am. My folks were educated and had good jobs and demanded I be well educated; that’s not unique to White people. We once had wealth in our communities. During segregation we were forced to do business with one another and create our own communities of necessity. We have been going to college, been doctors and lawyers. We have been marrying across the spectrum… Loving v. Virginia in 1967 was almost 100 years after Kinney v. Virginia in 1878 which held their interracial marriage in Washington, where it was legal in 1874, as a violation of Virginia law. So all of this “ain’t Black enough” shit is garbage.

Somewhere between the Middle Passage and Emancipation, we lost who we were. Although we had escaped slavery, because we weren’t just freed it was definitely a freedom mission, we were still mentally enslaved. Black people were never afforded these unalienable rights and liberties; “we the people” didn’t include us. We have been forever entangled in a web of racism so tough that the simple ratification of an amendment could put us right back into chattels. We were robbed of our history, not allowed to read or write, so we only knew we were slaves. We were were actually descendants of royalty. Our ancestors created mathematics, language, and science. Egyptians from gold to blackened brass hues, taught the masters of philosophy and deeper thought, ideology, math, science, and sociology. It’s hard to love yourself when you have only been told you were valueless, so in the nature of humans who despise themselves, we turned on each other. But regardless of where we toil, we are still Black. I’m still a Slave in the house… with no rights, no control, and easier access by the massa to the bloom under my bloomers. “House nigga, field nigga…still nigga.” And yet, after educating ourselves to the highest degree, we still are mentally enslaved. Now that we know who we really are, instead of fighting against one another, we need to rise up against theses racists who impregnated our minds with self-hate and colorism… and take our power back. We need to stop this Black enough rating system that we base on shit that doesn’t matter… I’m Black enough if I’m Black, I support Black people, I’m proud of my Blackness, and I identify. Period.

I’m Black mixed with Black and I’ve had my loyalty to the cause questioned because of traits I had nothing to do with. I can’t help a privilege, but I can surely acknowledge it and let you know that I’m uninterested. I can earn everything I get. If you are going to give me anything, let it be because I have done something to earn it outright. I am uninterested in your bias against folks that look like my Father, my Grandfather, my beautiful Aunts and cousins who just happen to be on the deeper end of the complexion spectrum because we span from milk to coffee and every latte and macchiato in between. But if I’m given anything because of my genetics, trust that I’m sharing it across complexion lines, and using it to put myself in a position where I can combat the very thing that got me in the position.

I got Black ass art on the walls. Black ass books in my library. Black ass records and songs in my Tidal playlists, cuz I support Black folks with Jackson Five nostrils who marry beautiful Black Queens and have kinky haired babies who go out with their fro out. I quote Amanda Seales, Issa Rae, Killer Mike, and Soulja Boy cuz they by culture and for the culture. I’m bad and I’m bougie. I like beauty supply earrings and authentic Gucci bags. I only shop at markets but I listen to trap music on the way. I’m looking for a trap Pilates or trap boxing class if you hear of any… and I like my men educated, Black, hairy, with a grey jogging pants and Timbs section in their closet next to the suits, and non-hotepian. I have a Black man and a Black son, who I support and love without fail or question. I’m smart, educated, dope af, and Black as hell!

So judge me and everyone else who is Black with that in mind. You don’t know my story, his, or hers. If I told you:

-I almost died because being Black and female and pregnant isn’t taken as seriously because we had babies in fields and huts and shucked corn through labor. I was Black enough to be ignored.

-I have been discriminated against because I’m Black, female, a Black female, and an educated Black female. I was Black enough to the racists.

-I carried a Black male baby while carrying a Black man, and my back still hurts from it. I was Black enough to support Black men inside and outside.

-I have been cheated on, lied to and lied on, wrongfully accused, stolen from, harassed, threatened, and assaulted by Black folks. I was Black enough to be mistreated by my own.

-I have dressed in all Black to handle the enemy.I have dressed in all Black to protest the enemy.

-I buy Black with intention.

-I speak up for Black people and Black women in ways I don’t broadcast, beyond my Facebook rants, that have harmed me personally but I still carry on because it’s necessary.

… would you discredit me because I don’t look like what you think that woman looks like? Trust me, I know where my own loyalty lies, and if you let other people and your assumptions tell you who I am, I guarantee you’d be wrong. This is just my story, but we all have one. And all of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, have been Black enough at some point to feel the pride of being Black and experience the pain of being Black.

This Black ratings scale, are you Black enough trash is hotep shit at its worst. Black attempts at supremacy is rancid poison, and a by product of White male supremacy that some Black folks have accepted to feel superior in a world where we lack power. Hoteps, both male and female, have latched on to supporting Black folks who belong under the jail, then criticize anyone who isn’t in blind support of every wrong Negro man, especially those who wrong Black women. I proudly despise any attempt to lessen who Black women are in the name of patriarchy, of any race of men, Black men in particular. All that hotep shit will get you cussed out and deuced really quick. Thou shalt not pull your dick out, be a Nazi, or be a hotep. Those three things apply to hotep high priestesses as well… no amount of sage, crystals, and head wraps will save you from being called out. The rest of us are tired of you and want to call the delegation to order every time you rear your ugly head to oust you from the kingdom. Just call me Jon Snow… I cut folks off at the neck clean. Besides, Winter is coming (well this week it arrived) my tan has worn off, I’m back to my original color, and I gotta fight off the Night walkers and shit who dare challenge me my Blackness. I ain’t a killer but…

-Signed, everyone Black person ever labeled, questioned, or assumed to be low to non-existent on the “Black enough” scale.

It Ain’t All Roses: Birthin Babies while Black

I’m officially Beyoncé…

Well ok not really but you gotta admit that pic is hilarious! But what I’m gonna talk about is no laughing matter, it’s serious and we have got to start casting more light on it…

” I was swollen from toxemia and had been on bed rest for over a month. My health and my babies’ health were in danger, so I had an emergency C-section.” -Beyoncé in September 2018 Vogue

Maybe I am officially Beyoncé… because I gained 100… yes, I said that correctly, ok maybe 96, pounds during pregnancy. I was so swollen my feet looked like loaves of bread and I didn’t have cankles, I had thankles, just one big ass thigh! I was a chicken dinner! I too had toxemia, so bad that my liver failed and I went into hepatic shock and a coma. I was hospitalized for over a month, and didn’t officially hold my son, well that I can recall anyway, until he was more than a month old. This was over ten years before Serena and Beyoncé made their pregnancy scares public, and over ten years before these stories about Black Women and childbirth were talked about at large. I thought my case was unique… turns out, like many of the concerns of Black Women, it just wasn’t a big deal to the medical community yet.

But we can change that…

Pregnancy was great for me until I reached my 7th month. Up until then I was rocking my loose fit size 10 jeans, pulling them a bit under my growing belly. I had no stretch marks, and had gained only about 18 pounds. Life was good. I was high risk because of a pre-existing liver disease, but for months I showed no signs of toxemia or preeclampsia, high blood pressure brought on by pregnancy. And literally, overnight, that changed.

From roses to rancid…

From sugar to shit…

According to the CDC, while generally only 3.4 women suffer from toxemia during pregnancy, and 700 die from its complications yearly, Black Women are three times as likely to suffer from these childbirth related issues. Conversely, Asian and Hispanic women seem to have an ever lesser chance of developing toxemia than White women. (1) Yet, no one seems to know why. It’s been one big mystery why pregnant Black Women looked like the boy in the bubble, compared to those cute baby bumps. Perhaps it is linked to the lack of research on the subject!

In a 2004, the Journal of the American Heart Association published a study that showed that women with preeclampsia had decreased levels of folic acid and high levels of homocysteine, which is linked to heart disease, but these levels were lowest and highest in Black Women. (2) The study suggested that since high levels of homocysteine were related to low folic acid, B6, and B12, that these supplements could potentially lower the risk of preeclampsia amongst all women, particularly African-Americans. Who knew?

Another study by ProPublica, in 2016, entitled Lost Mothers spoke with Black Women intergenerationally about pregnancy complications to try to prevent maternal complications and death. Out of the many complications a woman can face, it was found Black Women suffer disproportionately from postpartum hemorrhage, fibroids, preeclampsia, uterine rupture, coronary artery dissection, and maternal heart failure. (3) All of these illnesses boast a much higher mortality rate than other complications. When searching for other studies on these pregnancy related illnesses in Black Women, there were few to find.

It is essential that Black Women share our stories, and that if no one else will, Black Physicians and medical researchers focus on these maternal health concerns in our community. Central Brooklyn Hospital, featured in the Pro Publica study has a new initiative to reduce maternal complications in women of color. Hopefully other hospitals and medical professionals will follow suit. It is imperative to the health of mothers and children that research into how to prevent and treat these issues are brought to light.

Just on a human level, it is important that babies grow up with their mothers, and research into their mother’s potential mortality from childbirth is necessary and worth every dime it costs. The powers that be can’t claim to be pro-life and not simultaneously be pro- maternal health, pro-mother, or pro-Black mother. The continuance of the systematic ignorance of people of color in medicine must be taken to task. If we can study the effects of viagra, surely we can study the complications of childbirth.

It shouldn’t take Beyoncé or Serena or any public figure to talk about something that affects 7% of Black mothers to make it important to the public at large. If we only consider things when a celebrity brings them to light, we are neglecting 99% of the population. Furthermore, we are failing these women by failing to consider their medical concerns … and failing Black children by neglecting their mothers.

So, let’s all be Beyoncé…

Note: Fellas be Jay-Z, but not while drinking Lemonade with Becky, and never be Eric Benet!

……

References

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171100/#__ffn_sectitle

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4764298/

3. https://www.propublica.org/series/lost-mothers/p2