Harriet is judging YOU

Sooooo I had to read up in Cynthia Erivo. I knew she played Celie in The Color Purple on stage, but I had no idea about her otherwise. My decision to not see Harriet was not based on her being selected to play her… I just really don’t want to see a film adaption of Harriet Tubman. I really have no desire to be entertained by some biographical depiction of her life that takes artistic license with the truth. That’s a personal decision that I stand by. However, after I read about the choice for the lead role… I knew I made the right decision. No shade to anyone who saw it and loved it… but frankly, you can’t be anti-Black (read Black American) and expect me to rock with you at all.

….

Ethnicism … I don’t know if this is a real word, but I’m using it. It’s no different than colorism, this idea that ones ethnicity makes them higher on the importance scale than another, even intraracially. It’s an -ism that really burns my buttons and is most seen between us of African-American heritage and first-generation Africans living in America. While what we share is great, the divide between us is equally as great.

I work in immigration, so I see a lot where this dichotomy is concerned. I am also Black… not just Black in terms of a skin color but in terms of social category, race. So my understand if this isn’t just rooted in my personal, but in my professional experience as well.

Race has its beginning in the 17th century by Carl Linnaeus, but it wasn’t until 1830 when American anthropologist Samuel Morton, in the study of cranium size deduced that people with the same basic physical traits often shared cranium sizes. From this came the idea that those of African descendent had smaller brains than Indians/Asians who had smaller brains than Caucasians. Race, as it is currently used, is mainly an American system of labeling used to justify slavery and oppression. While anyone African would fit into the Black category, the primary group looked at to determine what that means and looks like is African-Americans. I’m Black like that!

My experience is that of an urban Black woman in America. I code-switch often, I can speak the Queen’s English and African American Vernacular English. I call out racism and colorism, and to give you a really good idea of this ethnicism I despise… I’m going to call that shit out too. But to kind of hone in on it, Im gonna have a muse, or two. And yes … I’m judging tf outta you!

I know y’all love some Luvvie Ajayi, and I thought she said a few funnies and what not. But then I saw some of her foolishness exposed, and realized she is a full on cultural harlot…casually romping with the Black American cultural experience for her monetary and professional gain… then simultaneously reducing it. She has gotten wayyyy too comfortable making negative and inappropriate references to ideas and events that are the specific experience of African-Americans and our direct ancestors. She showed that she thought the red, black, and green her family left by choice made her somehow an authority on the Stars and Stripes we inherited by force. I can show you better than I can tell you:

Whet?

Joking about forcing sterilization, a real experience of Black people in America, is NOT wassup.

Yet she loved Homecoming by Beyoncé… go figure.

So in 2017 she made a Facebook comment about what she labeled “fauxtivists” and her post “I’m Judging You” book popularity seemed to take a hard hit, delivering her back to her harlot ways. In particular this part of the comment was trés wild:

Wowwwwwww… so we are going to call out mixed race activists for being too active? And since when does a lack of melanin in your skin make you mixed race? There are lots of mixed race Black people darker than me and both of my parents are fist Afro pick Black! But she continued until she got dragged for filth when she showed her lack of knowledge about Black American culture and our deep affection for lil Tevin Campbell…

Tevin can sang. Be clear.

Now surely she likely said some great things about Black people, Black women, American or African… but what I know to be true is that these types of insensitive and judgmental comments about a culture that has invited you in to participate is a slap in the face. It’s the issue many African-Americans take with Africans in America… this sense of being both separate when it benefits them but yet equal enough to take these culturally fucked up shots.

It’s not okay. Like her if you want… but from me, she can get the bozacks. For the non urban, hip hop, Black culturalists, that’s “deez nuts”, the sack, the testicles.

And her friend, Cynthia Erivo can share with her. A bit of Internet sleuthing and it wasn’t hard to find that she too is a cultural harlot. She is playing one of the the most central and heroic figures in our history as Black people in America, but yet she’s quite confused about what and who we are.

You lost me at ghetto American accent yo.

And this display of a clear inability to shut up and not speak on a clearly experience driven response that is outside of your realm of understanding… is just par for the course. Both she and her Naija (read : Nigerian) sista Luvvie need to pick a chair and sit their asses down in them. Dubya doesn’t bother me, but I can certainly understand a person who lived in Louisiana at the time of Hurricane Katrina having a reaction to his praise. Her tone deaf and experience lacking response was unnecessary. I mean…

I won’t bore you with the particulars but she wavers between wanting to be included in the culture and then seen as separate at the same time, pitting Black British against African Americans, and speaking particularly about the English accent. I find particularly disturbing her call out of “ghetto American accent” and her pride in her “English accent” as if somehow the properness of the English accent is juxtaposed against what she calls “ghetto American” which is really a combination of AAVE and a Southern accent. We all know her use of ghetto means uneducated, ignorant, poor, urban, etc.. And then to make these mockeries in response to a White man, on social media. NOT okay lady. Harriet would not approve.

But hey, it looks like she and her homegirl aren’t exactly as for the culture as they claim either… cuz lets be real real clear here: the culture we are speaking about is an African-American centered culture that welcomes allies but also is clear about calling out oppression and anyone who dismisses it. So forgive me if I’m not on the Luvvie/Erivo train… cuz they can miss me with that bullshit. The culture you profit from is Black American culture primarily… and around these parts we don’t take too kindly to racism, colorism, sexism, ethnicism, classism, or whatever other oppressive systems you bring with you. Leave that shit behind.

And as for Harriet, she surely didn’t take too kindly to this cultural train jumping on her railroad… you wit me or not?

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.

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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

🗣🗣🗣Burn Him at the Stake!!!!

This is my fave Kanye gif.

This is my favorite Kanye tweet.

“Killin’ y’all niggas on that lyrical shit. Mayonnaise colored Benz, I push Miracle Whips”

This is my favorite Kanye lyric.

Clearly, I dig me some Kanye… I’ve written about him several times. But this public stoning of the brotha is out of order.

OUT OF ORDER

I’m rooting for Kanye. I have that right. I don’t cancel people. I might not fuck with you anymore because it’s contrary to my well-being, but I’m not ever going to use my words as little verbal bullies to get you and you to reject someone’s humanity. I am not the final judge of anyone… that isn’t my place.

But EVERYTIME dude opens his mouth folks go on the nut.

So here’s my toast to the douchebags:

1. I read an article earlier, by a social media made writer Luuvie Ajaye, (link: https://www.awesomelyluvvie.com/2019/10/jesus-is-king-kanye.html) that diminished his mental illness and grief, as if she’s his therapist. Kanye might be a fool but she’s a bully. She’s done this before. Her argument hinges on things he did unmedicated in a state of mania (red hat, slavery comment, Trump meeting). I can’t stand a bully. Clearly you’re judging folks. That petty shit isn’t cute.

2. Folks SAY they support people with mental illness and want to support them seeking help and being open about their struggles, but yet folks promote and participate in the same bullying.

“Kanye needs help”

“Get some therapy!”

“Stop blaming your actions on mental illness.”

Wow… the use of someone’s weakened mental state to get likes to your social posts or draws to your blog is some bullshit. Yes of course he needs continuous treatment, but these are not compassionate truths but unkind jabs.

3. If you listened to R. Kelly at any time after you knew he had sex with children, you should really not be pissing on Ye.

4. Celebrity culture is so fickle and such bullshit, we let it lead to us to both worship humans and hate humans. We exalt folks who wake up with sleep in their eyes just like we do. Ridiculous. We simultaneously cancel people who don’t hold our same beliefs. Foolishness. We lack compassion and support those with struggles. Shenanigans. We like our Kanye outspoken but only against folks we don’t like… otherwise his commentary is unacceptable and we should burn him in the town square.

5. Here’s the truth: cancel culture is bullying. Social media puts us very close to celebrities in a way we otherwise would never experience. So we feel compelled to keyboard klown. At the end of the day though, these are just people with issues and struggles too. Perhaps if you healed yourself, you wouldn’t need a hero to worship and a villain to villify.

6. Dude challenges deeply held positions and that makes people uncomfortable and threatens what they think is special, unique, and good about themselves.

a) The truth is he can vote for anyone he chooses.

b) The truth is he can wear anything on his head that he chooses.

c) The truth is Democrats have catered to the struggles of Black people instead of our strengths. Let’s promote the destruction of American oppressive systems and not just implement systems that band-aid that oppression. Additionally, Religious Black people have condemned Democratic abortion support for years… it’s not new. Chances are your great Aunt Annie who wears her prayer cloth while watching Creflo, and who ends every sentence with hallelujah feels the same way. Do you call her a clown? I bet she’d bust your head to the white meat!

d)Republicans… all of them aren’t horrible people. All racists are horrible people. So this narrative that being Republican is in and of itself racist and makes you horrible is incorrect. We can disagree on policy… our disagreement doesn’t make either of unworthy of humanity.

e)Kanye West owes no one an apology for doing things he has a right to do that don’t infringe upon your rights. Trump, red hat, whatever. I happen to despise both, but that doesn’t give me license to dictate what he should do. Besides I don’t see y’all boycotting those Black pastors” churches… the ones cumbayaing with dude.

f) On the slavery comment at Howard: If slavery was reinstuituted by the government TODAY, the first place the bounty hunters would go are places where a majority of Black ppl can be found. That’s common sense. Diversity and inclusion breaks down racial barriers. Black Meccas DEFINITELY allow us spaces to be free and excel without racist influence, but they do not gain allies. So his comment wasn’t a dismissal of HBCUs but a real world commentary on how segregated spaces look OUTSIDE of those spaces to those threatened by our collective power.

g) On Black people in America being culture-less. We have very little of our ancestral culture. Instead we were handed white capitalist American culture. We move and morph that in creative and necessary ways… but that doesn’t make it uniquely ours. Hip hop culture is not owned by Black people either.

7. How dare anyone claim to know what brings someone closer to God. Sunday Service is free. Religious artists sell their albums. If you can make money off of your art, so can he. Who are you to determine his arts worth or genius. You may not like it… cool. Most people think the Mona Lisa is simplistic and uninteresting… but there it is. THERE. IT. IS.

True understanding comes from the ability to use knowledge in a way that brings us closer to the truth. You will never uncover the truth if you sit in the muck of the status quo.

I respect anyone who bucks the system. We hate the systems but we aren’t in love enough with the truth to overcome our fear and start chipping away at it. Sometimes when we start to break down the existing barriers that prevent change, we will misinterpret what we see. We will make mistakes. Those bold and outspoken enough to do it are often the geniuses amongst us. But genius isn’t necessarily academic, so they may lack panache and refinement, their message might be rough cut. But raw diamonds don’t glitter or glisten.

” I’m not interested in preserving the status quo, I want to overthrow it!” Niccolo Machiavelli

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

Negus

Soooooo…

Period.

You can’t say it in a song. Even if you think it’s not wrong. You can’t say it high or low. You can’t say it, just say no. You can’t say nigga, yes it’s true. For us by us and not for you. You can’t say nigga don’t me mad. But figure out why you wanna say nigga so bad!

Generally, the word nigga is a colloquial use of the racial slur, nigger, to mean homie or some other urban term of endearment. Some Black people see it as nothing more than a reframing of the word used to denigrate us into something that robs it of its original meaning. Other Black people see it as an extension of the word nigger, same meaning, no different than the urban colloquial use of brotha or sista. But what is mostly true is that all Black people have a problem with anyone who isn’t Black using the term, especially someone White or interested in promoting Black oppression.

We live in a world that enjoys Black culture and dislikes Black people” -Cecil Emeke

So recently Gina Rodriguez posted a video of herself rapping to the Fugees, and managing to misquote ALL the lyrics but the word nigga. Gina is not a White Woman, but she’s definitely known for her All Lives Matter rhetoric. So keep that same energy sis. In the past Gina has shaded and downplayed the compliment that Yara Shahidi was such a powerful role model for ” so many Black women.” To which Gina replied “So many women. Women!” As if the interviewer made a mistake when referencing Black women. Nope. Black women need to see themselves represented in roles such as those Shahidi plays, especially with her natural hair and “for the culture” sensibility. FOH.

Gina similarly noted during a discussion on pay disparity in Hollsood roles that the “intersectionality” present made it a harder discussion as White actresses make the most and Black actresses get paid more than Asian or Latina actresses? Hunh?!?! In what world is this Gina? I’ll wait… ok I won’t. Just GTFOH.

You see, the appropriation of Black culture when it serves you, excites you, and entertains you is not cool, but especially when you are silent or worse a participant in the further and continued oppression of Black people. Gina has a history of being tone deaf regarding Black women. She doesn’t get a pass because she’s Puerto Rican, especially when she clearly uses her position as a woman and a Latina woman to shoot down the fact that Black women have a separate and unique experience from all other women in America. Our history is rooted in disregard, disrespect, and disengagement. When you add to that the experience of the whole Black community and the use of the word nigger to label and stereotype us as ignorant and uncivilized, the use of nigga outside of the culture, no matter its use inside the culture, in unacceptable and offensive.

By culture, I don’t particularly mean race, even though generally they do go hand in hand.

Check it, if Eminem said nigga, I personally might not care. He is fully engaged in and apart of Black hip hop culture. However, his respect and honor for the culture sparks his complete disinterest in the word. It was telling the comments of White people, in particular in the comments. Everything from:

“Why put it in a song if people cannot sing it?”

“Can I even READ the word since it’s in this article?”

“It’s just a word…”

If you are not for the culture, you can’t be of the culture. What we do isn’t for other folks. You don’t see us putting tuna in macaroni and cheese and grapes in potato salad, now do you?!? Here’s the thing, we automatically assume that non-Black people are so eager to let the word nigga roll off their tongue in the presence of Black people because they use and are so comfortable using the word nigger when outside of our presence. Go ahead… but be prepared to get dragged… like Gina. On Twitter or on Telegraph, we usually need less than 140 characters to cuss you out royally!

Black people have a unique and colorful culture that is full of references that anyone on the outside might not understand without embracing the culture and educating oneself on our history. But if after all that you still wanna say it, I say… call us Negus (knee-gus) as opposed to nigga (nih-gah) and certainly not nigger (nihg-ger). A negus is a royal, a king, a ruler in the Amharic language in Ethiopia. It references us as the original man, the leaders of civilization, the inventors of math, science, art, the seat, and the table. If you wanna call us something…call us Kings and Queens.

Now how badly you think they wanna say that?!?

West Side Story

“Here you are free and you have pride.
Long as you stay on your own side.” -West Side Story

So I grew up on the Eastside of Detroit… Between Warren and Gratiot. Everyone used to say to me… you don’t look like an Eastside girl and you certainly don’t act like one.

Wtf does that mean? I AM an East side girl though!

Well it meant my Grandmother wasn’t 38 when I was ten; She had gray hair and already had her AARP card. I knew my father’s name and better yet my Mother knew it; My parents were married when they conceived me. We could read; Everyone in my family had a degree, most multiple ones. No one had purple hair and we wouldn’t be caught dead in Farmer Jacks in our house slippers. Nobody had a bullet wound in their upper arm and I didn’t have a cousin or brother nicknamed Ray-Ray. I was smart, spoke proper English, wore glasses, had my hair in a bun, and went to private school. I just didn’t meet the stereotype.

Trust, I lived in the hood. We had a neighborhood dope boy; neighbors who had card parties every weekend playing the O’Jays way too loud; Gunshots woke me up at night; and once there was a dead guy hanging from the jungle gym at the park around the corner. It took the police forever to show up and the trap house was just two doors down.

But our home, like most of the homes in the area, was a multi-unit family home my Grandparents bought with their good state incomes, and planned to pass down for generations. That home saw four generations of us. West Side families lived in primarily single family homes, in homes their parents bought. Many of them the firsts in their families to go to college, succeed, and get good jobs, so they moved to the side of town most recently developed. The east side was more community centered, the west side more affluence centered. Neighborhoods boasting large sprawling mansions became a sign of success. Two family flats, which dominated Eastside areas, looked at as nods to the past. Although multi-unit homes were a better and much bigger investment.

Most of my friends grew up on the West Side of Detroit. I went to elementary and high school on that side of town. No one ever told them they didn’t seem like West Side girls because for the most part, I was the assumed anomaly. Neat, well dressed, well-spoken, smart girls don’t live in the Eastside, right?!?

Wrong!

I got this impression that people believed if you lived across Woodward you were the worst of us, Detroit being over 90% Black at that time. Much similarly how white flight saw White people moving to suburbs across 8 Mile, drawing a line in the sand of what was and was not the desirable place to live. I believe Black Detroiters did the same with East and West.

Sadly, it’s a tradition steeped in intra-racial stereotypes and bias that reeks of Stockholm Syndrome. We do the same things to one another that are done to us. We come up with these fallacies about each other, where we live, what we do for a living, how much we make, what groups we belong to, what we wear, drive, and live in… to deem ourselves elite and others regular or less than. It’s indirect oppression begat from being the victims of direct oppression. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

To White people. Detroit is crime infested, don’t go past 8 Mile if you want to stay safe. You might die.

To West Side Black Folks: The East Side of Detroit is really ghetto and everything we have tried to escape. You might die.

Sound ridiculous… it is. We don’t have to try to separate ourselves into the same have and have not categories that have been forced upon us. We don’t have to pass judgement on one another and be apologists to white racism. We also don’t need to straighten up and fly right to gain White respect or adhere to American ideology of what makes someone “worthy” to gain success. We are a people of community… and America is a country based on individualism. When we abandon who we are to adhere to culturally absent rules… we lose that culture.

The truth is that originally as Detroit developed, it was modeled after other big cities with its concentrated population that started near East Grand Blvd, the former Woodward, and spread out. Post industrialization and as auto manufacturing in Detroit took off, the population increased. With its large land area, Detroit had so much land to spread out to, single family homes took over. It became a popular place for banks, as the housing boom meant a mortgage boom. The construction of highways meant even more spread could factor in.

That was then. This is now. What was once a sign of affluence has led to a lot of plight. As automation took over, those high paying lucrative jobs at Ford and Chrysler were down-sized. Folks could no longer afford those mortgages or to keep up those homes. Homes sat through harsh winters in foreclosure. Arson littered the city leaving vacant lots, many streets up and down Grand River having just a few homes per block. With population decline and the very large area of the city, there just aren’t enough people to live in and maintain those homes.

It’s one reason why areas such as East Village, West Village, the Eastern Market area, and surrounding downtown areas hit in the revitalization boom because they are easier to get around in the new walkable, bike friendly neighborhood model. Many areas of the West Side are simply too spread out. Those areas with larger homes do well for investment purposes, but overall those more dense areas are the most popular and see the most development surrounding them. Plus, it has opened the eyes if a lot of Black residents in the city who simply never traversed these areas of the East side. They heard of the gang infested Red Zone and the notorious Mack and Bewick and jumped on that as representative of the entire side of town.

The truth is, there is no real difference. That’s just ignorance.

For every chick in slippers at the party store on the East Side, I raise you a girl in her hair bonnet at Foodland on the West Side. For every hood girl with a struggle ponytail on the Eastside, I give you one really bad closure and visible lace front on the West Side. For every drawn on eyebrow, there is a separate but equal set of feather duster eyelashes. For every Uzi on Mack and Bewick, I raise you a Tec-9 in Brightmoor. For every jheri curl still in existence in the East Side, I give you a bad Luther, curl just don’t quite curl right Duke kit on the West Side. Sound ignorant as hell? Well it is.

We must know our history. Detroit has been made rich in culture because of the influence of our hustle. While all of our hustle hasn’t been good, it’s all been real. But crossing a street doesn’t make us better… and it sure as hell doesn’t make us worse.

I was raised on the East Side. I am not an anomaly. I just don’t fit your uneducated stereotype. Let me find a good multi-family home on the Eastside in good condition, I’ll take that over your one family Westside joint in a heartbeat. I got more hustle in me than you might think from looking at me.

“If I got to choose a coast I got to choose the East
I live out there, so don’t go there
But that don’t mean a nigga can’t rest in the West”-Notorious BIG