Think Peace

I wake in the morning, another appointment. I hope the psychologist listenin’ – Kendrick Lamar, United in Grief, Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers

I love Kendrick, he was a part of my weekend. This is not a Kendrick think piece, but it is a think peace. It is an amalgamation of thoughts I have had this past week, framed by my guy dropping his newest album, until this very moment, that have a theme, of sorts. Hopefully you will catch it or it will resonate. Maybe it won’t but that’s okay. I don’t write for approval. It’s creative therapy.

I choose me, I’m sorry. –Kendrick,

*********

The world in a panic.” -Kendrick

Yesterday, a White teenage supremacist walked into a grocery store in a Black part of Buffalo, plagued by segregation and affected by the common highway cutting through the neighborhoods of Black people, virtually disturbing their environments and peace, and killed tern people with a rifle with nigger emblazoned on it. A nigger killer, if you will. A teenager whose manifesto was a three year plan, to save the white race and white children… basically by murdering my people.

In this country built upon the backs of Africans who begat African Americans, there is this agenda that now claims white America faces extinction snd the way to right that is to again oppress and dishonor the humanity of Black people. This child who likely wasn’t taught anything about our addition to the value of this country was able to determine that we are the enemy of his future. The murder of those people and the end of this child’s freedom are the faults of ultra conservative right wingers who supported that political lie to gain political favor.

Today a white man walked into the Black church where the Governor and Attorney General were worshipping with a hurting community, with a gun. We can’t worship God in peace. United in Grief.

Yo, I’m livin’ in this time behind enemy lines so. I got mine, I hope you got yo’self a gun. -Nas

I bought a .223, nobody peace treat. -Kendrick

The value of hip hop has become very dependent upon being a bop with quoteables that will make good Tik Tok content. If I hear “I don’t even gotta walk in with my tool out,” one more time… like sir, quiet down. It’s less about the art and lyrics and more like a recipe for pill and pussy popping. Every Future album sounds the same is considered a five mic classics. Yet an album whose admittedly different production highlights the deep and complicated lyrics, like a jazz band highlights the leader’s instrument, is criticized. The way Miles Davis was criticized for his electronic sound during the velvety jazz era, at this time of catchy twerkable rap tunes, something this different isn’t going to be an instant success.

MMBS is five years after DAMN. Well in five years the artist has become a father; live through a 2-year isolating and socially transformative pandemic; watch countless videos of Black people dying, including a man heartbreakingly calling out to his mother as he took his last breaths; a unapologetic racist President backed by the conservative Congress he bullied like schoolyard boys; and a virus wipe out almost a million people in America. The album integrates that trauma into it’s lyrics and production. Most songs feature multiple beat changes. I haven’t even fully immersed myself in it, but emerged seen, understood, connected, and more at peace than when I entered. It’s a musical therapy session. Peace in chaos.

You really need some therapy…
Bottled up no chaser
Need no chaser-
Kendrick

Sometimes therapy is not sitting on a sofa stretched out in an office. Yesterday I spent time gardening and with my great girlfriends, and it was surely therapeutic. I’m a pretty awesome friend…I give pretty good advice, I’m supportive, I am fun, and I try to make time despite being overwhelmed with priorities. My gardening skills, however, are lacking. Those peonies and lavender might not make it to Friday, but I wanted to try something new because I love peonies and lavender. Time will tell if the gardening pans out, but the conversation I had with a few of my day ones this weekend … cash money!

We talked about our experiences and issues with men and shared truisms we had collected to help us become better mates to attract better partners. We all discussed wanting and needing a mature mate, as grown as his numerical age dictates, and being at peace with leaving situations when they no longer serve us instead of staying afraid of repeating past failures. It’s imperative that when we see red flags to accept them and move on, and understand that choosing ourselves is never a failure. Dating with purpose, but being careful to vet all potential mates and date in the here and now, not just fall into relationships with people we know due to familiarity.

Can I open up? Is it safe or not?
I’m afraid a little, you relate or not?
-Kendrick

The took accountability about likely not always being the best partner, and needing to do a self evaluation on what kind of partners we are versus the kind we know is necessary, and making the moves to get there. Those of us who had been married and/or recently separated from a commitment acknowledged needing time to heal from past hurt. It was a discussion centered on being our best selves. It was centered on accountability and peace. It was centered on healing.

I’m sacrificin’ myself to start the healin’ and…
Shit on my mind and it’s heavy
.-Kendrick

I sometimes struggle with letting things go. I have a vengeful nature that I’m not proud about, but I’m very clear about. My revenge stories are legendary… just saying. But this weekend I just decided to stop cold turkey. Energy out equals energy in, and I noticed that some of the people I know with the most toxic energy constantly emit that type of energy… and it ages you, it angers you, and it makes you insecure and unkind. Only energy I’m interested in is bright and sparkly like sequins, rich like vintage Daytona Rolexes, and present like Eckhardt Tolle. After all the greatest energy is peace.

Trying to keep the balance, I’m playing strong. Stop playing with me ‘fore I turn you into a
[ BLOG ] -Kendrick Lamar

“Everybody needs therapy.” -LaToya Henry

You get Justice, if you’re Lucky

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know .
-Maya Angelou, Alone

Life in 2020 is a constant cycle of trauma if you are Black in America. Black men face the constant pressure of being walking targets of brutality and fraudulent representations of waywardness. Black women treated as the weakest link when we literally anchor the totem in our dust. The last nine months have ushered in a physical and spiritual pandemic that has America in a chokehold and is both exhausting and overdue for Black folks. Protests, the exposure of racism and racists practices, and the real conversations on white privilege, supremacy, and responsibility are a true comeuppance. Yet simultaneously the constant broadcast of injustice, dead Black bodies, and loss of innocence are heartbreaking. My son’s drivers training class is having a discussion on “driving while Black”… a conversation whose necessity is obvious and life saving but also the face of racism and it’s affect on the Black cultural reality. The coming undone plays musically like the Janet Jackson sample…

Poetic Justice.

Black reality in this current space is like…
Pac and Janet.
Innocence and Pain.
Life and Death.
Trauma and Healing.
Cause and Effect.


Get your umbrella.

***

Read slow, and you’ll find gold mines in these lines. -Kendrick Lamar, Poetic Justice

Racism has always existed in the US, it is literally built upon it like bricks. It is the blood and bones of African slaves buried beneath Washington’s monuments. Yet 2020 has been a modern day Middle Passage, but cars instead of boats and prisons and cemeteries instead of plantations. State and government sanctioned murder and oppression of Black people, broadcast in living color. It reads like payback for our ascent that has challenged White men of what they thought was their birthright. A leader who with coded language and lies encourages the bad behavior of supremacy. Police officers who otherwise might have thought twice about shooting a Black man, woman, or child knows luck is on their side and justice will likely be suppressed. It seems, today is a good day when somebody got killed, instead of loved, in South Central LA.

The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan. –
Maya Angelou, Alone

Blackness is a state of being and a state of mind. In America, our story is one of infinitesimal degrees of separation both physically and spiritually. Out of about 400,000 slaves shipped to North America through the slave trade, we now number over 42 million. We are connected very intimately to one another genetically. Brothers and sisters literally. Since our feet stepped on American soil we have lived with external oppression that has tricked some of us into internal betrayal, by breaking those bonds between us through separation, familial destruction, and mental torture.

There is, in every hood a series of dichotomous experiences. Pleasure and pain: we exude style, confidence, and creativity that is often forced to live in the shadows of violence and generational curses. A Pac and Janet, hood boy and good girl, love story set against a backdrop of hopeless and violence. The boys and girls in the hood suffer the trauma of racism and cultural confusion that affects both how we love and what we hate.

The reality of most urban communities is that Black and brown people have been pushed into these pockets by poverty, racist housing policies, and a lack of opportunity. But as communal people we make a family out of these circumstances the best we can. Play cousins; Aunties giving you dollars for As; your cousin braiding your hair in the porch steps; getting Grandma a new church crown; and doing the hustles at the family BBQ. Simultaneously battling internal struggles about who we are and our worth that have been handled down the emotional family tree like kinky hair and curves are handed down genetically. Black on Black crime is a fallacy; we are able and intelligent despite biased test scores; we are worthy despite the ruin we often live in and around m; and we are powerful despite the lack of our faces in public spaces. It’s not nature, but external cultural oppression that breeds internal cultural betrayal.

What we have in common is pain. -Kendrick

South Central, LA gang stories make sense, but love stories? Despite lives of hardship in a hard place, the characters played by Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson were soft reminders of the beauty to be had by healing their deep pain and generational toxicity. Grief, death, fear, misogyny, distrust, selfishness colored their experiences, yet they were both representative of the very real innocence of love and connection. Violence and aggression are stories of necessity, like hip hop, they tell our story. Softness and love are our truth, like R&B, they make babies and families and communities. Lucky had a softness only hardened by reality, like Pillsbury and Doughboy were hardened by heat…choppas or circumstances. Be sure that hard shell you develop is only protective of your softness, and not preventing your brothers and sisters from reaching it.

As we protest that longstanding oppression ALONG with our own traumatic responses to watching our brothers and sisters killed in today’s streets, we find ourselves exhausted and in need of a reprieve. Karma will be our savior. Poetic Justice. The Buddhist theory of samsara teaches that after death, our spirits return to either the good realm or bad realm depending upon our actions during life. That realm is where we’ll exist until another death. Rebirth. As we heal and pay homage to our communal history and our generational truth, we are being reborn free. The oppressive shackles of racism only have wrists and ankles to bind that are afraid to break. Healing breaks you so you emerge whole. Trust, this entire year is one big therapy session. We gon be alright!

If I told you that a flower bloom in a dark room, would you trust it? -Kendrick

Ever wonder why we got all this rhythm? How we turn our blues into funk? Why we sing and cook and dance with soul… collard greens in our feet, baked mac and cheese bubbling over, and the sweet honey colored juice of yams coating our vocal chords so we can sing high line Minnie and deep like Mahalia. Why our hair winds, twists, turns up to the Heavens? Why we are painted in color? We are the sons and daughters of soul. The very place where love lives. The softest place on Earth.

And this is our exhausting reality. In one moment we mourn Breonna and the next celebrate Kamala. We are here to teach everyone else how to emerge from the ashes, whatever burned them. Only healed hearts can have that experience. You get Justice, if you are Lucky; if the stars align; if the color of your shirt is blue; or if you have dirt under your fingernails. But that doesn’t mean you ever stop fighting for her if you don’t get lucky. Despite what you’ve been told and no matter how many of your teeth they try to pull to force feed you racism, know that in reality they only want to slur your speech. We must speak, write, tweet, telegram, and Pony Express our experience, and let our collective, communal, and familial words holler out for justice and freedom, come hail, snow, sleet, or…

…there’s blood in my pen. –Kendrick Lamar