Pulling Numbers and Letters

So I’ve been told I must got the GCP. What’s the GCP you ask… well in the words of Jay Z and in the spirit of Don Magic Juan’s pimp challis, “my cup runneth over”

I hear it all the time…”who are you dating NOW!?!?” like I’ve got a wheel I spin to see who’s on my hit list this month. Or the ubiquitous, “You always got a (insert term for man: dude, boyfriend, whatever)” comment, that is so interesting to me. “Got” would imply in my vocabulary, something that one has on lock… yeah nope. I might be able to pull, as my one friend termed it “letters and numbers” (I’ll leave that for you to decipher), but dating is the pits. I personally despise it. Plus at this point, post 40 with kids as the custodial parent, there is no dating. Any outings or conversations, texts, or emoji sends are basically one long ass interview on how much you make me laugh, how long I can stand to be around you in one sitting, and whether you match at least three of my five must haves, that better quickly materialize into a relationship if you meet the requirements, or I gotta go.

Most of my first dates have morphed into relationships that last years. Instead of “dating”, I participate in the pull and catch; it really is self explanatory. There is a subtle art to the pull and the catch… and while I’m not interested in doing much more than expressing interest and then letting him find his good thing… cuz I’m a mf lady, I am involved in the process. Not that I’m an expert… but I pull a lot of As and Bs, and 9s to 7s. You can keep that 10 though, leave him for the chicks with time on their hands. He’s too pretty for how my life is set up.

The Art of the Pull

1. There is nothing sexier, in a man or a woman, than confidence. Period. When you know you are fine, he’ll know it and she’ll know it. Confidence is the art of aesthetic persuasion. Notice I didn’t speak of beauty, that’s too subjective a thing to use on humans. You need something foolproof.

Confidence is the reason she wore THAT dress, the one you hate and think she’s too whatever for, but that him, him, and her are staring at. Confidence is the reason she cut her hair the way she likes it, with no worries about what he thinks, or why he wears that combination of shirt, pants, and shoes that confuse you but your woman says “his outfit is NIIIICE!” Confidence is not bound by beauty, body type, color, or any subjective boundary… it’s an undeniable acceptance of how wonderfully made you are, despite whether you do or don’t fit into society’s ideals. And it’s 100% ownership in that acceptance. Get you sum.

2. If you are playing Bid Whist and you pass on your bid, and you knew you had 7 Uptown and the clowns next to you bid 6 Uptown -cue Aretha “Ain’t No Way”- how pissed will you be that you didn’t bet on yourself. You knew what you had and what you wanted, but you got scared of the win. Well, in dating, the win is the guy or girl you dream of, the one you know or don’t yet know who will check all your boxes. You have to bet on yourself when the opportunity presents itself, and speak on your wants. Now you don’t have to be full on direct, but if you are like me, you give an in. You leave the door ajar. You flirt, come hither, a little Happy Birthday Mr President… and then you go sit your cute ass down somewhere. If he’s in for the win, he’ll bet on himself, and complete the deal. If he’s not, he missed out. Cue the death of Pac-Man…

But always bet on you, know what you want, set a boundary, and then touch your boundary by going for the win. Shit, at least smile.

3. NO ONE LIKES REJECTION! Not women OR men. Just because men get rejected more, does not mean they enjoy it. C’mon, that’s ludicrous. So just like the thought makes you want to hide under a rock, it makes him want to hide in a cardboard fort. So, it is very important that you make sure he can see your open door… fellas too, women are shooting their shots out here these days. Its also important you clearly communicate with kindness your closed door. If you are involved, say so. If you aren’t interested for one reason or another, say so. If you simply are casing the joint and don’t yet know what you want, say that too. But whatever you message, make it clear. If one doesn’t have to guess what you want, but it’s clear, the more likely you’d get what you want! It’s a pull not a push.

The Art of the Catch

1. “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar”

Okay so one wants flies, but if you want anything, you get much closer to your goal by being positive, with smiles, with kindness, and with, well, honey. There’s a reason Pooh ate it by the jar full… shit was good and sweet! Likewise, being a bitch will get you nowhere. Only assholes, real assholes like bitches, they enjoy that game. But people tryna boss up and get this money …

… have no time for that game, cuz tryna figure out your bad attitude takes up time away from the grind. Once you have pulled, you have to be kind and open to the catch. And while we’ll eat cod, every one prefers fresh water fish over salt water fish. Be not salty or stank.

2. Ella Mai said it best :

“I put my feelings on safety
So I don’t go shootin’ where your heart be

All that extra special crazy, it took you five minutes to text me back, trippin for nothing, checking his phone, acting a damn fool is for the birds. Yes, KeKe Wyatt might have that bomb snapper, but again, that’s your typical saltwater variety. It’s sure to run your pressure up and increase your light bill. Let’s look at the quality of her choosers. The last dude was a preacher who left her while she was pregnant with their third child, after she raised two of his children, right… okay enough said. We want to be a quality catch just like we want quality fishermen. And you simply are not exhibiting quality behaviors when you are acting a fool. You have to remember what pulled dude… your confidence, self-love, high esteem, win-win-win-win attitude, and your kindness. Keep those factors at play the entire time. Put your weapons down and rely on your personal stock of personality and class to end up, hooked up with a quality dude. But you gotta be quality first.

3. So since I’ve earned my degree in letters and numbers… I think it’s safe to tell you, that the final test, the piece de resistance, the grand finale of the catch is the most important. Webbie had I-N-D-E-P-E-D-E-N-T what you know about me… and I’ve got C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-C-Y, that shit’s so fly! So they say women date & marry men hoping they will change, and men date & marry women hoping they’ll stay the same. Now I’m all for growth, but I don’t think you have to change who you are fundamentally to grow, you just get better. I’m with the fellas. We should be FIRST, ensuring we are dating people who we like and accept AS IS! At 40… they might not ever be anyone different than the person you see in front of you. Furthermore, we could stop sending our representative and just be who tf we are. Then be consistently that in word and deed. If I tell you I’m going to cook you dinner on Thursday, only an emergency out of my control would change that. If I say I’m going to be respectful of you, that’s what it is. I’ll even respect you and me enough, in the presence of your disrespect, not to stick around and bust your head to the white meat. In order for human beings to feel safe enough to be emotionally vulnerable and mentally free they must be in space that’s consistent, which is synonymous with peace. You won’t get chose if you bring chaos.

So you see, it’s that simple. And if you are doing all those things and he doesn’t respond, he’s not the one. Move on with grace and bitter-free. You put your feelings on safety so you wouldn’t black out on these dudes, and simultaneously dodged a bullet. See how the universe is always working with you. Now put on your sundress or those gray sweatpants and that beater, check yourself in the mirror, do the Blade Icewood dance, and go out here, boss up and pull letters and numbers, and soon you’ll be saying …”my phone won’t stop ringing!”

“It’s Mr. Lee Iacocoa
And I’m the mayor of the mitten
Ya’ll niggaz ain’t bossin up y’all bullshittin!” -Blade Icewood and G-Rock “Boy Would You”

I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T

“…Do you know what that mean?”

They make songs about us.

***

Her: But why does he give the woman who has it all together a hard time?

Me: CUZ he doesn’t have it all together.

Oh, and because he’s stupid. YES, I said what I said… I can repeat it if you want me to. HE IS STUPID. He probably comes from some level of stupid. He has seen stupid. Someone accepted stupid, a lot of stupid. So he thinks that shit is acceptable.

***

*The Boss*

You have it all, a good job or business, a nice home, a nice car, bad ass shoes, and a stellar closet. You vacation, you are probably VERY single, meaning you have no kids and have never been married. You are gorgeous. You are intimidating… and being intimidating is not your issue. It is his.

Your friends wonder why you are single. Men ask you “what is wrong with you, why are you still single” (by the way, that is the DUMBEST question in America and if you are a man and you ask any woman this question, may you be struck down with great vengeance and furious anger just for being so dumb). You work really hard, but you play hard too. You are social. You get it in, so you aren’t waiting for Mr. Right to break into your house. But yet, no one approaches you… well the really ambitious dudes who need a lot of dental work and a vehicle, they do, but they got absolutely nothing to lose. Shoot your shot bro, I’m not mad at you. But you know who is gun shy… the brotha with it all. Why? Well…..

Insecurity. Men are taught that they are providers, fixers, workers, and breadwinners. They get tow trucks and tool sets, puzzles and video games…toys oriented to a task. Girls get dolls and makeup sets, books on babysitting and jewelry… toys oriented to taking care of others. So they see you doing what they think is primarily their job… and have nothing to do. If you make more money, are more educated, work more… it doesn’t fit with their idea of how men and women work together. So they retreat from you eventually. That is what anyone in a position of insecurity would do. All of this while trying to assert your position in the workplace from hating ass white supremacists, crying ass white women, other crab ass Black women, and stuck between race and patriarchy Black men. You are constantly having to prove both your worth and your dedication. So the last person you need to assure that you are apart of the team is your man, when you rock his bedazzled jersey and cheerlead from the sidelines every chance you get. That insecurity will get you kicked off the team every time!

Plus, fellas… Khadijah don’t need ya stuff, just you. You were her choice… emphasis on WERE!

“Kinda woman that want you but don’t need you…” -Neyo, “Miss Independent”

*The Mother*

So you and dude are rocking with each other, and then you have a baby together. He has other kids who are well behaved and well taken care of, so it seems like baby will be a welcomed addition to your relationship. This could even be the case where you both have children from previous relationships, but the time has come to introduce the kids into the equation. It seems pretty simple, be my man and be a father{figure}… right? NOPE, not all of the time. You see, it depends TOTALLY on who that man has been allowed to be before… the precedent has been set.

A man who has previously been TOTALLY in charge of the relationship, knew that that woman needed and required him to provide for both her and the children or the children might not make it… at least not as well as they have with him around. Knowing that his presence creates that safe haven for her and that she needs that provision, means that his efforts in other parts of the relationship… romance, communication, social activity, just not being an asshole… could be temporarily put off at his whim.

Then here you come!

At first, your independence is welcomed, it is refereshing. He can sit back and not have to worry about taking care of you quite in the same way. However, the ways that he needs to take care of you, he only knows how to provide on a temporary basis… and when he now has someone else to take care of or consider, that is when he goes on hiatus with you. For several reasons, I believe. The first being that he goes back into “being in charge” mode… without the realization that he cannot be in charge of you. You ain’t the be in charge of me type. The second is that, being in charge feels good to him, and it allows him to feel okay about being mediocre. With you, there is no in charge, so being mediocre does not feel so good. And who wants to feel bad, on purpose? Lastly, he has not had to do ANY HOME WORK on his women in the past, so he has done none on you. Think about it, how well does he know you? Can you be honest with him? Vulnerable? Do you tell him when you are hurting, or better yet does he already know? If the answer is no… sadly, you might have picked an okay father, but he cannot be a good man to you and a good father too. In fact, with you, he is probably slacking on his pimping in both areas… simply because being around you doesn’t feel as good to him as it did before BK (before kids). You got everything on lock, even with the kids in tow. You bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan. He doesn’t think he fits in…

Well sir, get in where you fit in.

“Cause I depend on me.” -Destiny’s Child “Independent Women”

*The Single Socialite*

When you move, they move, just like that. And so it goes, you got the key to city, your plate stays full, and you are on every ‘by invite only’ list. You love pictures, you love a good drink and a good song you can twerk to, and you hate a name dropper… because you are the name. Okay you get it. Anyway, you are likely a serial monogamist … you meet and greet, they work hard to sweep you off of your feet, but somehow you always end up standing in your Loubs, with yourself. You are never really by yourself and you love your me time, but for whatever reason no one has presented you with the perfect glass slipper. Why?

You too are intimidating, which also isn’t your fault… but in a different way. Men who think they are ready for you, usually quickly find out that unless they are okay with stepping aside and letting you shine, they will be in your shadow. So one of the rules of a lasting relationship is not to compete with your partner, if I win, we both win. And while that sounds good, and it is good, in practice, it often does not work quite like that. Movers and shakers tend to be competitive by nature. While women tend to be more community minded in their success, men are much more individualistic, so it may be hard for him to see himself as in a successful partnership and not the successful partner. He feels like he has to one up you, so instead of being partners you end up adversaries. He likely goes in to find someone in awe of his position. But he couldn’t see that what you built for yourself you were willing to share, and as your partner he didn’t need to compete. You don’t need a savior or someone who out does you, but someone who lets you shine, because he’s confident in his own shine.

“They buy the bar too, they superstars too” -Webbie “Independent”

***

These are just some examples… but independent women often find and feel that they get the short end of the stick BECAUSE they are independent! There is some truth in that, but the bigger truth is this: Go for yours, be able to take care of yourself and teach that to your daughters. The man made especially for you will find you, realize that you are that good thing he has been looking for, and he will boss up! Stupid dudes are just around to teach us lessons, that’s all. Until then, handle your business, upgrade, secure the bag, drip, stack, and hustle hard. And when bae finds you … let him take a flight in yo choppa!

To all the boys I loved before…

“Ronnie, Bobby, Rickie, and Mike…”

Okay, so not them, but you surely didn’t think I was gonna give you real names right? Besides #NE4Life… all six or no mas, none of that RBRM foolishness.

Sorry, I got carried away… but back to the lecture at hand…

Nobody told us that little rock head boy we thought we were gonna one day make little rockhead kids with was not the one. Our Mother tolerated our “little friend” knowing full well he was likely the first or third in a long line of little, medium, and eventually big friends that would attempt to woo us into relationships that would end. Relationships that were supposed to end, for most of us who didn’t end up marrying our prom date. The end of those relationships, though devastating at the time, were actually the experiences that would one day lead us to the one. A series of dating couplets that would both get harder and easier, as we matured and hopefully gained needed wisdom. A journey, if you are anything like me, you could have done without were it not necessary to arrive at the grand finalé. In the words of the modern day I Dream of Jeannie, Ariana Grande, “Thank you, Next…”

I’m not talking about the love or lust or intense care for another person; the emotion of a relationship. We talk about that enough. Instead, I wanna talk just a bit about the experience of loving and losing… and still being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are beyond the age by which you THOUGHT you’d be happily forever betrothed.

Ronnie was your high school/college sweetheart. He was family, but he couldn’t handle your growth. You married Bobby. You divorced Bobby. Rickie was wonderful… at first. He treated you like a Queen…but he already had a Queen. Epic fail. Mike was familiar and comfortable, fun and spontaneous. But Mike was noncommittal. Those are not the kind of relationships God would prepare for us, no matter how deeply we feel for an individual. God commands the man who findeth a good thing to love her as God loves him… and that’s with unconditional, continuous, and dedicated commitment. You didn’t love to lose. You lost, to be loved. I’ll repeat it…You didn’t love to lose. You lost, to be loved.

All this time you thought you liked the members of the boy bands and really you needed a solo act. But you see, all of that was the set up YOU needed to get to your come up. That’s the thing with love & relationships at this age in this age, everyone is on social media with rings, white dresses, newborns, honeymoons, and #baegoals. So we tend to compare ourselves with those images… but that is their path, not yours. You couldn’t walk their path and get to your perfect destination. Instead, tis the season for realizing how much better you will be for the man God made for you now that the boys are…

So how do we really move past those encounters and see them as the very important opportunities to learn how to love and be loved, to communicate and comprehend, to partner with another to do life together? What you feel is a result of your experience. As relationships perish, remind yourself of the actual experience -the actions, promises, broken promises truths, untruths, consistency, and growth, or lack thereof. We can’t continue to sit only in the stew of our emotions and not be honest about what was really going on. I mean no matter how great Rickie seemed to treat you, he dishonored you, disrespected you, and lied to you… he had a whole wife for the love of all that is holy. He was an ass. Mourn him if you must, but mourn him in the way you would any donkey. Briefly.

After all, it is your reaction to those experiences that are the true hallmark of your readiness for the mate of your dreams. When we profess after a heart pause, that we don’t need a man… well, chances are you will be single until you reverse that mantra. Be clear, there is NOTHING wrong with being single. However, for humans, life is a series of relationships with other people, and most of us, if we are honest, want to spend part, if not all, of our adult lives living in tandem with another. We want the continuous support, companionship, and peace that having someone you care for deeply, and whose face you want to see, by our sides. So professing that we hate men… that’s not the jump off.

Being fearful or hesitant to open up to others is not the way to the light either. Instead, after we have given ourselves time and space to heal… from both our actions and theirs… we must open ourselves up and be receptive. We have to be available and show up in our availability. As much as we might like this scenario, Mr. Right is probably not going to ring your doorbell while you are binge watching Fuller House. OutKast put it best… you need to get up, get out, and get something. In this case, something might just be that human jungle gym of a chocolate drop you have been waiting for, that God planted in that space, place, and time… just for you boo.

Phone a friend. Eat some Talenti Caramel Cookie Crunch. Have a good cry or two. Get a new hairstyle, exercise the pain away, and get extra fine… because God is trying to tell you something. He is the cutter of zeroes, and the force behind the hero that will come along, let you take your cape off, and get this excited when your fine ass walks into a room …

How does that feel?!???

Eunuchs got us Twisted

This won’t be popular with some men, and I don’t give a fuck. I’m stating facts… and if the facts fit, smoke ’em (if you got ’em)!

——

European men started the colonization of the Americas in the early 16th century. During that time, the predominant thought was that the areas of the world formally owned by the Roman Empire, particularly those in the East, were uncivilized until Romans brought their intellect, order, and laws to those regions and made them civilized. That shit was wrong… civilization started in Egypt… but it was the popular thought.

So in that same vein, when European men set foot upon American soil, despite being welcomed, fed, and taught to sow the land by Natives, they soon sought to impart similar rules, laws, traditions, and values into the American fabric during colonization. The chastity of the female was one such social construct that sexualized everything under a woman’s clothing. The same men who had images of bare breasted goddesses in every square foot of their most revered institutions, wanted those women under their control, afraid of how they would lose power if women, their most wanted treasure, were free to empower themselves. That was civilized.

When feminism erupted into social consciousness, women who dared burn their bras were labeled as wild, promiscuous, man-less, even lesbian… in some attempt to force their own women to remain under their sexual and social control. Aside from the penis, men’s bodies were acceptable to be displayed publicly. Women, were expected to cover themselves ankle to collarbone. The absurdity… But absurdity is the hallmark of patriarchy, born out of fear of loss of power and ego.

So it goes, just the other day, I had to free myself from absurd conversations about whether women should cover themselves in the presence of men while they breast feed… because men are so titillated by breasts they cannot control their stares and certainly not their inadequate thoughts EVEN when a woman is using her breasts, her mammary glands, her milk-secreting organs by definition, to feed her baby… MILK. Go figure. Breasts relegated to sexual objects because men say so. How apropos.

So, I get it.

Some of ya’ll men are afraid if you give women any credence, value, power that you will effectually castrate yourselves. Your dicks will cease to be the powerful weapons of mass destruction your egos have fooled you into thinking they are. Those notches in your bedpost will no longer read like battles won but boyhood foolishness you have dragged along behind you like Linus’s blanket, as protection of your fragility. You are weakened by the yoni, so you call us bitches to relegate us to our parts, then find every imaginable way to keep us socially, professionally, and politically barefoot, with our legs up and our hand stirring a pot, as possible. And better yet if our breasts are out, but only when you deem it appropriate.

But I got news for you… we will be titty free when we deem it appropriate, not you. Nips at attention… about face… FOH!

Women are the life force.

Your little armless and legless soldiers have to infiltrate our very own version of the sun to start life. We carry every person on the planet in our womb. We decide what you ingest the first nine months of your life, and often until you learn the word NO, we continue to. But clearly we didn’t leave some of you in your shitty diaper long enough for you to smell it’s stench. Yep, your shit smells. These same breasts you cannot control yourself in front of, fed you nutrients that strengthened your brain, your bones, your muscles.

I am raising a male child. I care about his education, health, and overall well being. But specifically I care a great deal about what kind of man he will be. That he will respect women. That he will value women. That he will lead a woman in family, but not attempt to control her to make himself feel more like a man. Instead, supporting her choices, feeding her what she needs to be the best woman she can be, will be a measure of his manhood… not his ability to dictate to her. He likes breasts already, that’s cool, but he’s seen a woman nursing her child he knows that there is nothing remotely sexual happening, it is a nurturing act not a sexual one. I don’t play that HAN mess in my home!

What is civilized is not oppressive. Condemning adult women to a level of purity even you don’t require of your male children is the stuff of peonage. Respecting women includes freeing yourself of these ridiculous notions of patriarchy. Women are not your property, our bodies and their ability to be controlled by you are not measuring sticks for your little penises. Your dick doesn’t make you powerful, your heart and mind do. So while you are still living in medieval times, women are out here feeding our babies without scratchy and suffocating blankets over our babies heads, wearing what we want, doing what we want, and expecting you to support us like we have been supporting you for the past 2018 years AD. If you aren’t interested in that, we will just be Kings our damn selves… the kind with breasts, making eunuchs (pronounced yoo-nicks) of you clowns. Off with his head.

“You know I give you life” -King Bey

No HANs … EVER!

“All these hoe [ass] ni**as, must be Hoechella!” -Lil Wayne

Listen, we gots to do better ladies.

Now, be clear, I’m not blaming women for the lack of manhood in a male… but I am putting the onus on us to pay attention to the signs and accept no HANs in our lives, we better than that (unless you not… only you know that!). Like Auntie Iyanla says, “do your work” and heal whatever leftover self-sabotaging demons and ghosts of evil’s past are still lingering. No HANs…ever again… mmmkay!

I know and feel your pain. It often seems like it’s a hoepalooza out here in these streets. So many men aren’t men, they are males of a certain age. They don’t have a clue or a plan. They are looking for a mama, a step mama to their outside kids, an accountant, a sponsor, and a room mate. They aren’t looking to make their women life mates or wives, but a part of their harem of harlettes. But they don’t have a bed to lay in or lay you down in. You are a really bad hoe if you hoeing in your mana’s sleep number adjustable bed. But if the elevated head fits…

Yet… we have the most precious commodity on Earth. Men have been going to the greatest lengths for the love of a woman since the beginning of time. They tryna get to you and that…yoni!

Paris, the Prince of Troy wanted Helen so bad, he started the Trojan War when he ran off with her.

The Italian poet Dante wrote of Beatrice, a woman he met once as a child and saw once in the streets of Italy, in many of his best writings, as his muse.

Lancelot, knight to King Arthur, goes to war with him over his affair with his live Guinevere, wife of the king. He loses, and eventually becomes a priest after losing his love.

We out here starting international battles!

Ultimately, we are making the final call. We are giving the yay or nay, even if we have expressed interest first… it is usually up to us how slow or fast, deep or shallow the situation goes. Add to that our penchant for emotional involvement, it is imperative that we seek out HAN tendencies and believe them when we see them. HANness does not lie, it is not easily confused with other qualities, it is its own sad set of facts. You owe it to yourself to disconnect from a HAN, no matter how fine, smooth talking, well-dressed, whatever… cuz if you stay… Molly, you in trouble girl!

So fellas, be not a HAN. If your daddy and uncles taught you the not so fine art of HANdom, reject it. I don’t think it’s an easy thing to get over. Once a HAN, very rarely does one graduate into manhood. It’s like the black hole. Graduate from malehood to manhood! And if your boy or your brother is a HAN, do your civic duty and yank his chain. School him in the ways of men!

Ladies, accept not HAN ways. He should be clear about his intentions. He should have income, transportation or an active Uber/Lyft/mass transit life, a place to lay his head other than your pillow, and a plan for his life he should be able to verbalize to you unless it’s obvious. He should return calls and texts in a timely manner, make time for you, refrain from telling you how busy he is in relation to your time together, honor his word, and be secure in his clearly present manhood… not to be confused with his malehood.

All in agreement… No HANs EVER!

Only Chella we acknowledge is Bey…

Be Clear…

I am a woman…

I smell good, my touch is soft, I can whisper the grocery list to you and make you close your eyes and see stars… it’ll sound so sweet. My hair is fluffy like nimbus clouds. The curve of my waist a perfect place to lay your head… my derrière the best armrest or like a handful of cotton candy. I can love you long time and make you love me at first sight. I can nurture you into comfort, and calm you like peace. But, my darling, be REAL clear…

I can put down tile

I can pull up carpet

I can change a tire, but I don’t ever want to!

I know what a carburetor is and the top pick in the NFL draft.

I have a degree in psychology and one in hard knocks

I take shots

I can beat you in spades

I might not outrun you but I can hold a plank longer, guaranteed!

I drink ACV straight even though it tastes like lighter fluid, but wellness…

I bleed monthly and don’t die or cry or want a band aid

I balance checkbooks and lives

I can smash tacos and margaritas

I make a bomb ass macaroni and cheese from scratch and a pretty decent pound cake

I have carried shit as heavy as me on my back

I have carried you, if not physically, emotionally

I pushed a person out of a tiny hole

I am raising a person to be whole

I love

I give

I speak up and out

I pray

I scream

I cry

I will fight

I hit hard

I can get real cute in heels or sneakers

I can rock pajamas like it’s my job

I bring out the best in people

I bring out other’s insecurities

I rock hard for humanity

Yet I can drop you like a bad habit, cold turkey

Healing is my ministry

Love is my passion

I can sink ships

And I can launch rockets

I’m a rocket launcher, ya dig

I’m a boss

I can run the world.

… I am a woman!

Better Grab a Seat

This is personal, but I feel like I need to purge it… so here I go…

“Fuck niggas, get money”

Yep, that’s right.

Cuz these dudes be on some real fuckboy shit. And they

FORTY…

and above! Yep, 40. Four zero. Ten four times, 40 rotations around the sun. 14,610 Days if we count leap years. A decade less than HALF A CENTURY!

I mean I need somebody to help me out. How are you still insecure, ego-driven, lacking confidence, worried about dumb shit, still tryna screw raggedy broads, and sending unsolicited photos of your junk?!?!? Dude? Grow up… or don’t, but don’t fake the funk with me because you have gotten in practice lying to kick it with grown women.

Just stop!

I’m out here hustling, drinking a gallon of water a day so I have no time for foolishness or drama cuz I’m on the toilet, and taking care of everybody. Yep, saving the world. And you are being stupid, noncommittal, emotionally unintelligent, and silent. Who raised you? Who hurt you? Who didn’t hug you enough? And could you get some therapy for all of that before you grow a beard and cut all the strings from that 2 for $199 suit from Men’s Warehouse… that makes you look grown and matches that good shit you were talking, that upon later inspection was a Audre Lorde quote.

Please don’t misunderstand gentlemen, we ladies are aware that there are a lot of males in men’s clothing… unfortunately they have been studying your moves and got you down to a science at the audition and even at the screen testing, but they can’t perform. Suddenly they are unable to commit to the role, forget their lines, and forgot they had made other plans they simply cannot break. But we are tired of having our time wasted. At 20 it was cute. At 30 we figured they were about to grow out of it, but at this point it’s reached a level of fuckery we can’t entertain, and we want a Russell in our future.

We aren’t fully blaming males though, we have some fault. They say people show you who they are, and it usually happens earlier than we walk away. If we want the promise then we have to be faithful to it, and bust up as soon as we see that what we have is a boy not yet a man, despite the gray in his beard. It’s BEEN time to level up. But no time like the present.

Grown men at 40 are very different from 40 year old males.

Grown men can cook a meal.

Grown men aren’t waiting on a woman to take care of them, but know they too are here to take care of others.

Grown men are financially and otherwise stable or at least have a plan that they are working towards for financial stability… a plan they can verbalize with deadlines and action plans.

Grown men don’t entertain a woman beyond casual dating who he isn’t interested in something greater with, and if he is on any other page he is going to verbalize that clearly.

Grown men are emotionally available.

Grown men take care of their kids.

Grown men don’t waste women’s time.

Grown men don’t practice ghosting, silent treatment, dishonesty, or fucking foolishness.

There is no need… state your business and find someone on the same page. It’s simple.

So if you are a Future… go find you someone who likes the idea of needing Google translate on language : “dumb shit” to understand you. They are out there. But this play is on Broadway, it’s not the chitlin circuit, and only Russells need apply.

Meanwhile, we’ll be over here moisturizing, stacking these coins, and minding our business until a man shows his face. We have an example to show to our children, and we need strong partnerships as the backbone of the Black community, to ensure we continue to grow and get better. Otherwise, we are spreading toxicity and dysfunction around like peanut better and there is no jam…no perfect verse over a tight beat. So get it together!

This lesson has been brought to you by the letters J and M, and is…

“Just a lil somethin’, to let you [mofos] know”

This Woman’s Work: Part II

“Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.” -Eckhardt Tolle

Picture it, 2018, Detroit, three scenarios:

Two professional Black Women discussing a disturbing incident with a customer during lunch, the victim says, “…I didn’t want to make a big deal about it and be the Angry Black Woman.”

Similar environment, two sistas discussing career development, the older woman says to the younger woman, “Be careful with all those ideas and opinions or they’ll label you the “b” word.”

One Black female supervisor speaking to her Black female team member on talking to White male managers…”You can’t lead with your intelligence because that is intimidating.”

But …. I am Black, I am a woman, I am opinionated, intelligent, and sometimes I am angry… especially in the one place I spend most of my waking hours that gives me zero respect despite the fact that it thrives off my intellect… Work.

I am who I am… and I don’t need to be less than that to ever get what I have worked hard for… even if I’m Black, female, opinionated, and sometimes angry. I have just as much right to be my authentic brilliant, compassionate, but take no shit self as:

these sexist and racist White men get to use work to play out their gestapo porn fantasies, shouting out authoritarian demands like orders at a fast food joints while trying to feel on your ass;

these racist White women get to prance around without a care in the world, except the hands going up their skirts which they payback (to the wrong people) in the form of harassment and discrimination of people of color;

these turncoat Black people get to act like they have assumed some privilege by selling their souls to do the racist’s dirty work, but as Jay-Z said “still nigga”.

Whether we know it or not, our presence is vital in every space and place, especially professionally, as we are representative of the people who use and purchase the services and goods we are in the business of providing or selling… whatever our role. We are their mouthpiece. And despite what insecure co-workers, supervisors, and managers might believe… we are often the leaders others look to for guidance and expertise… or perhaps it is the reason they dislike us. If those people get to be all they can be… then surely my whole authentic self is welcomed… no?

According to a 2018 survey of 100 Professional Black Women, 59% report feeling like they have to be less of themselves to be accepted in the workplace. While 58% reported co-workers who are not Black females are treated better than they are. 71% reported being discriminated against in the workplace. 72% reported being talked down to by a man, and 56% reported having a power struggle with another Black Woman. (1) Similarly, a study by the Perception Institute in 2016, tested bias of Black Women and their hair. It showed that Black Women had more anxiety about their hair than their White counterparts and that the majority of people had negative towards Black women with natural styles, particularly white women (2).

The writing is on the wall, that who Black Women are is looked down upon by people that they see and interact with daily, even to our own. And while we are capable and creative and innovative enough to break the glass ceiling, we can do it with our Afros, braids, sass, and round asses despite anyone’s prejudice. But that prejudice is a weighty issue.

Black Women are judged based on negative stereotypes that have no roots in the truth… assumptions about our hair and grooming, marital status, parental abilities, health, bodies, and community. We must be dirty if our hair is natural, singularly raising kids if we are parents, have undisciplined children, be unhealthy because we are curvy, and from violent and dangerous neighborhoods. Our personal lives are not considered our private business, and we are subjected to questions and demands that would never be made on White men or women. When your worth and lives are considered of minimal value it’s common for others to treat you as less than the professional you are… and instead treat you like a child in need of correction or a servant to take their orders.

It’s not our professionalism that should be being questioned. I assure you, the sistas I know are not only professionally responsible, but they can take care of their kids, mates, homes, selves… then come into work and deal with levels of harassment, discrimination, and privilege unlike any other group.

But we don’t have to deal with it!

We have earned the right to be exactly who the fuck we are… curly and kinky hair, big personalities, opinions, big ass brains, and yep, sometimes anger… because we carry the weight of the world’s -isms on our backs. Both Black and woman, marginalized and disenfranchised. Not just misogyny but misogynoir. Living at the intersection of racism, classism, sexism, and often, colorism. Let’s not forget our LGBTQ sister’s dealing with homophobia and transphobia, and our disabled sisters being discriminated against because of their physical limitations. I see it everyday, a Black woman with MS is treated like she has a learning disorder because she walks with a limp, and the sista with the big butt is talked to like she’s an idiot. Our brains are in our heads just like all other humans. WTF! Whose the idiot in this scenario?!?

We have to embrace our Blackness, and disallow anyone from making us believe that we have to conform to standards outside of ourselves to fit in… we don’t have to fit in. We were born to stand out! In a world full of thigh gaps ours were made to touch. In a world full of flat hair, ours waves, curls, and coils towards the heavens. In a world full of hateful and narrow thinkers, we continue to be compassionate because were meant to make them uncomfortable. Only in discomfort do people change.

In the workplace, we have to continue to assert ourselves, have confidence in ourselves, promote ourselves, stand up for ourselves, and be ourselves! And when it’s a detrimental environment, remove ourselves. Our voices, creativity, opinions, intelligence are necessary. We matter just the way we are… now go out with your fro out!

Update: I’m currently embarking on a bigger project about the lives of Black Women in the Professional space. If you would not mind doing a short phone interview or filling out a brief questionnaire about your professional experiences, please contact me at info@karyndeshields.com. Thank you.

(1) The Balancing Act.www.karyndeshields.com

(2) The Good Hair project. The Perception Institute, 2016. http://www.perception.org/good hair/

This Woman’s Work: Part I

At least we aren’t handmaids….

living in the fictitious, but eerily and oddly relatable -given the current state of things- Gilead in post war America. A country taken over by men, using divine law to subjugate women and the poor into servitude. Of particular disturbance is the work of the handmaid. The “lady in waiting” each leader, or commander, with an infertile wife employs, her sex and womb for room and board. Her job, to birth children for the couple, in the way of Rachel’s handmaid Bilhah in the Bible. Luckily it is confined to the Hulu menu of great acting that is hard as hell to watch. A twisted dystopian This is Us. Even as I applaud Offred’s attempts to escape on the edge of my seat, I can’t help but wonder how she will ever be mentally and emotionally healed.

But when we cut off the tv, and really look at the lives of working women… much of what is portrayed and endured by Offred, the Martha’s, and Aunt Lydia is applicable modern day, we just pick our own clothes and keep our same names. So much of our reality in the private and public workplace is controlled by men, who take license to act in ways very similar to fiction. In a recent study, 38% of women reported being sexually harassed at work. (1) We all know this reality creates lifelong traumas from which many of these women forever suffer.

Imagine now, the lives of Professional, Black, and educated women… who come with their own set of very real and very intersectional concerns, race and culture based traumas, and historical wounds. From blatant racial discrimination to patriarchy, and everything in between… the lives of sistas who collect a paycheck are fraught with issues that not only create trauma but cause us to relive unhealed and past trauma all the time. But at least we aren’t handmaids…

When 100 random Black Women working in professional (non blue collar or service industry) jobs with at least a college degree were surveyed (2), the results were not shocking but definitely painted a bold and unquestionable picture of the professional lives of these women. 71% indicated they had experienced discrimination at their job. 79% felt race, gender, or both contributed to negative attitudes about them at work. 72% indicated they had been talked down to by a man, and 65% reported hearing offensive comments about Black people at work. Clearly, Black Women are subjected to pervasive racism and sexism in the workplace.

While Black men are seen as far greater victims of racism, and sexism is generally identified as a White woman’s issue, it is the intersectionality of these issues that are the bitch that Black Women go toe to toe with daily. Since these intersectional concerns are not shared simultaneously with most groups and not as pervasive for other women of color, we often get labeled as having bad attitudes or being “angry” for no reason at all. When in fact, our reasons are front and center. We will always be Black and always be female. When combined with the naturally occurring childhood and adult traumas, most of us have never fully healed from, intersectionality in the workplace is a beast most of us are not properly prepared to handle, but must handle nonetheless. But at least we aren’t handmaids…

Take Kelsey, a teacher in the suburbs of the inner city. Kelsey grew up with demanding parents who made her feel her best wasn’t enough. Not only did she live with the “you have to be 10x better” lesson most Black children learn about themselves in relation to White children early on… her own familial demands were hard to bear. So in both her professional and social life, Kelsey overextended herself. She went above and beyond the duties she was paid for, spreading herself too thin, and not even acknowledged for her efforts. While she was definitely the best teacher in her school district, the most reliable daughter, the most loyal friend, the most steadfast wife, and all with the best twist-out west of Woodward… she brought with her the pain of being labeled “not good enough” to a workplace that didn’t appreciate her skill and hard work. Her employers, in the business of educating, which she was stellar at, had no problem taking advantage while never giving her the props she deserved!

Black Women are often the diving board for other people’s dreams and success…and systematically limited from realizing our own.

Jessica is similarly reminded of childhood conflict with other Black girls when she’s harassed and mistreated by Black Women in the office, the real life Aunt Lydias, and the abuse she’s experienced when spoken to in a patronizing manner and set up for failure at the hands of Black men at her job. It’s as if they are overseers for the powers that be, preparing her to walk the green mile to her professional fate, because she’s not a “good gal.” Constantly under his eye. Jess has to quell her fight response every single time… and since her mouth is much mightier than the sharpest sword, she just straps on her invisible muzzle to secure the bag… at least until something better presents itself.

So many sistas I know have taken pay cuts for peace.

Maya is haunted by her own family’s experiences with mental illness, and their failure to heal or even acknowledge it, when she encounters children and their parents struggling with emotional disturbances in her role as a school psychologist. So much so she has a visceral reaction to the work. Have you ever been traumatized to illness… I know a gang of sistas who have.

Like Maya , Monique faces the same trauma related setbacks when she handles family legal issues in private practice. Guardianship and power of attorney processes remind her of the pain her family put her through when a loved one was no longer able to care for herself. Jumping hurdles over familial patriarchy, youthism, and the “White is right” brainwashing that many of us have accepted as fact, is yet another hump we must traverse.

Young Black Women often carry our race and gender as badges of pride, bridled to our education and talent, that others often see as a threat. Thinly veiled disrespect, even at the hands of our own people, is commonplace in these instances.

In addition to these very real issues we carry with us from personal experiences, Black Women have a very real historical reality that makes navigating the workplace, often dominated by White men and a much more protected space for White women, painful. You might not be like Monique, Jessica, Kelsey, or Maya, but perhaps you are just Jane-, yep Jane is Black- who is reminded of her ancestor’s enslavement, involuntary servitude, and the hurt and pain of Jim Crow, lynching, systematic racism, and her own ancestral trauma in her workplace. Jane took on union work as an act of service, but living out the modern vestiges of White supremacy is a very real source of trauma.

For Jane, it isn’t her personal experiences but our collective reality that wells up in her soul when she listens to the stories of her co-workers, women spoken down to and inappropriately propositioned by the men in her office. Qualified people of color being passed over for opportunities they are the most qualified for, and Black overseers serving the supremacy by setting up those with whom they are in competition. Like Jane, so many of us hold this history in our bosom, and in an oppressive workplace, it’s realization mimics asphyxiation.

The very real wounds that Black Women cover, depriving of air, so they can scab over with our own protective shield and heal by our own strength, have a way of seeping when we face stress in areas of our lives that we take personally. For the woman who has gathered together more student loans in her name than prayers, vacations, or shoes… her career is a very important part of her life, and the very real fact is that it often serves as a reminder of her most tragic memories. Therefore, it is imperative that she deal with and heal from those tragedies. Whether through therapy, meditation, prayer, or some combination of healing mechanisms. You see… we may not be handmaids, but we have wings, and we only activate them if we lay down our burdens, under His eye.

Praise be.

(1) stopstreetharassment.org

(2) karyndeshields.com

If They Say Why

Men aren’t from Mars.

Women aren’t from Venus.

But we sure are very different.

Some people attribute it to nature, others nurture, and some to having innies and outties… but how about this take:

Research has shown men and women are BIOLOGICALLY different cognitively and emotionally. For example… men have greater skill in spatial and visual relationships between objects and women have better verbal and memory skills. Women have better fine motor coordination and can compare and contrast better than men. Men, on the other hand are better at angles, movement, and gross motor skills. Since women’s brain hemispheres communicate faster and more often than men, women tend to recall and experience even basic things through a more emotional lens, where men are better able to compartmentalize. It’s no surprise then that women suffer more from depression and anxiety, based on more relational experiences…. and men more likely to be schizophrenic, addicts, or on the autism spectrum.(1)

So in keeping with that theory, men are taught to be strong and hard-working and to provide and protect. It’s simply an extension of being more aware of space and place. Since I like a very masculine man, I’ve always been surrounded by men with their head on constant swivel! They run faster. They react faster physically. They are aware of space and place, more focused on what IS than the feel of it… this is natural. Men aren’t unemotional or cold necessarily, they are just more rational. Emotion has its place. Men are better at pool, angles are exact, it’s not about feeling. Men are simply better at independent tasks, and tend to think in more independent terms.

Whereas women are taught to take care of people, including themselves, hone relationships, and communicate. Little girls never stop talking or asking questions by nature. Women seek out at least a few key relationships in every experience they find themselves in, as a way to relate. Women are also naturally interested in taking care of people and their feelings…but based off of all the senses. Cooking, sewing, crafting, and heck, taking the perfect selfie lol, are all examples of how those fine motor skills are used in service of communicating our care and establishing memories. We are naturally inquisitive and use our words. In gender biased environments those things are looked down upon, but in places where gender equality is practiced, our unique differences from men are celebrated. Having an opinion is never a bad thing! Being emotionally intelligent is a wonderful thing. These traits are not unique to women, but they come easier to women naturally!

If you know me, you know I’m a proud woman, a proud Black Woman to be exact. I have been raised by equally proud Black Women. I love men. I am a proponent of men who walk different, talk different, move different, and look different … we are supposed to compliment one another, not mimic each other. No offense to LeBron and his Thom Browne bag, but I want to carry the better handbag. We can’t swap Capri pants like Gabby and Dwayne. Grooming is fine, but primping is out… and it ain’t easy. Our different movement is what makes us fit. He watches our moves, like chess. I watch our fit, like a puzzle. His outtie, when connected to his brain, points him in the proper direction, towards me… and my innie invites him home. Deep… lol.

But seriously, in the grand scheme of things, our differences, these physical and biological differences, when experienced in equity, are God’s plan. I CAN do anything he can do, and vice versa… but that is not the logical and efficient order of things.

So sir, when you are questioning why you don’t understand women and ma’am, you are thinking it’s time to hang it up and just be a spinster with cats… remember that our differences are innate and we must explore and get to know each other with that in mind…

Or as the late and great Michael Jackson would say…”tell em that it’s human nature!”

(1) Stanford Medicine. https://stanmed.stanford.edu/2017spring/how-mens-and-womens-brains-are-different.html