Monday, June 27, 2016

But First Let Me Rant.☝



First and foremost, this will be a rant. I apologize for it not being inspirational as many other posts are but feel free to check out some other uplifting content up above.

Earlier today, I was riding the local bus home when I overheard a conversation being held behind me. I didn't immediately turn around; just imagine how awkward that would've been. But I continued to listen for a minute or so and it was downright disgusting.

The conversation was held between two middle-aged white women. Not the most attractive individuals to look at but who am I to say. They were talking about a lady that was sitting diagonally from us on the opposite side of the bus. She was African-American, appeared to be middle-aged herself, and was completely oblivious to the conversation being held about her. Thankfully. She was sporting a pixie cut that for some odd reason, made the white women uncomfortable. 

"She may as well shave the rest of it off...."

"The least you can do is use a hair spray to add volume to it..."

"...it's bad enough it's spiky already.."

Just a few snippets I heard from the exchange. I tried to ignore it for a second or so but it was alarming to me that they had the audacity to speak about this lady openly. As if she were disrespecting them simply by being there. It was a self-righteous attitude they both evoked and that's what bothered me the most. 

Granted, I didn't speak up. I honestly didn't know what to say and I'm a non-confrontational person. But I wrestled with what-if's the entire ride home after they stepped off the bus. 

This self-righteous attitude is not new; we're all too familiar with it. It lives and breathes with us every day in different manners. In some ways it can be less obvious, in others it's very blatant. Even though I'm a native of the South, I've never encountered blatant self-righteousness on behalf of a white individual. It's always been subtle. Call it southern hospitality if you'd like. 

Since moving to Kentucky, I have noticed that attitudes here appear to be much different. Perhaps it's just been a matter of the types of people I encounter or the areas I venture into. But whatever the case may be, it has consistently put me on edge. And after overhearing that conversation today, I was pushed off it. The fact that some individuals feel entitled to belittle others who don't look or live like them still baffles me. In many ways, I feel it's due to the culture of Louisville. Many people do not ever have the opportunity to venture beyond Kentucky; this is all that they know. I firmly believe that isolation breeds ignorance. When isolated in this area for years at a time, their perspective is so narrowed that anything beyond it is odd/disrespectiful/disgraceful/ugly/unprofessional, etc. People don't accept what they do not understand and clearly these women don't understand Black hair. 

In order to prevent myself from taking things so personally, I always attempt to understand the motives behind a person's behavior or thinking. Not that they are justified by it, but doing so helps me realize situations from the perspective of other people. Ignorance is pervasive nowadays so you can only imagine how difficult of a job this is. However, I see the value in it. I would rather try to understand someone's point of view (even if I disagree) rather than getting upset over it. Otherwise, I'm only modeling their behavior. And that's just not what I do. 




Saturday, June 18, 2016

#PrayforOrlando ♥


Anytime that a large number of people are killed or murdered, it impacts me in some way. It doesn't matter whether the incident occurred in the States or abroad. My spirit is just affected by the sudden loss of innocent lives, as I'm sure that yours is as well.

When I initially received news of the shooting at Pulse in Orlando, I knew it was tragic but the devastation of it did not hit me right away. It wasn't until the victims' identities were revealed that I truly was heartbroken. There were some victims that were middle aged, but a great majority of them were fairly young. Some even younger than I am. And that deeply disturbed me.

I imagined how they must have set out that night, not imagining that it would be their last evening alive. I imagined the passions they had, the aspirations, and dreams. I imagined their families and how their loved ones would attempt to continue on without them. And it was very frustrating to reflect on because in a matter of minutes, all of that was unjustly stripped away from them.

I was recently engaging in a conversation with someone about the incident and we brought up the idea of how much better the world would be if no one felt the need to police the lives of others. What if we had no desire to monitor and control the lifestyles that other people choose? Of course the lifestyles shouldn't involve direct harm to anyone; nothing that can interfere with the livelihood of other human beings. But I'm sure you understand the gist of my perspective. Life would be much more peaceful if we all were content with allowing others to just live as they pleased. Although we may not agree with the sexual orientations or identities that other individuals choose, it is ultimately beyond our control. Or, it ought to be.

Although I do not consider myself a member of LGBTQIA, I do believe that everyone has the right to live and love as they please. In no manner was the perpetrator justified in the act he committed. More Christians should realize that to advocate for the civil rights of a people does not necessarily mean you advocate for their sexuality.

In other words, to admit your grief over the lost lives does not mean you must identify as gay, lesbian, queer, etc. It is possible to be in support of equal treatment of a people while disagreeing with the things they do.

It is my hope that nothing of this caliber will occur again, in any respect. My heartfelt prayers go out to the families mourning the loss of their sons, daughters, uncles, and fathers. As a Believer, I feel that although there any many things in life we do not understand, we have a divine connection to the One who understands all. Through this connection, we can find the strength we need to move forward with love and bring along all of our sisters and brothers, including those still fighting to love who they choose.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Introversion.

One of my most favorite YouTube personalities is EvelynFromTheInternets. (Just click her name to visit her channel). She's quirky, like me, just more funny. One of her videos that I was watching today (which I'll post below) approached the topic of introversion vs. extroversion. And in the description bar, she linked her viewers to an incredible TED talk by Susan Cain titled "The Power of Introverts."

Above is Evelyn's video, as you can tell by her darling expression. 

...And here is Susan Cain's TED Talk, The Power of Introverts. It's 19 minutes long but the information enveloped within it is well worth it. 

I was intrigued because I have always classified myself as an introvert since becoming aware of the term. I know that no person is solely introverted nor extroverted but I realize my personality and tendencies seem to align mostly on the introverted end of the spectrum. 

I could really relate to Susan's childhood story that she explains in the clip because I, too, had some of the same experiences. I was an excellent student for the majority of my childhood but my social skills weren't up to par in comparison to my peers. I was deemed too quiet, too shy, too reserved. Sometimes even as an adult today, I'm labeled with these words as if they're a bad thing. I'm told I need to get out more, live a little, don't be so uptight. It makes others uncomfortable for me to be so content with silence, solitude, and my own company. Unfortunately, they have never considered what my idea of comfort may entail. 

Being an introverted individual has its own social challenges, but compile that with being a dark-complexioned, African-American female. To those looking from the outside, it may seem trivial. What does race or skin tone have to do with an introverted personality? 

To put it simply, a lot. 

I've often felt that others expected me to have a grandiose personality because of my appearance. Being reserved and soft-spoken as an African-American female seemed to surprise many people I've met and I believe this is due to stereotypes placed on dark-skinned women. We're more aggressive (supposedly), louder (supposedly), more violent (supposedly)... There's a plethora of stereotypes associated with being a darker complexioned Black female. However, I never truly fit into those cookie-cutter personas other people readily held for me. And that didn't necessarily put them at ease.

Introverts in general are very misunderstood individuals. Society caters to the extroverted personality so very few take concern for us. As Susan mentions very early on in her video, many classrooms nowadays have done away with traditional school desks and have replaced them with tables--promoting "collaborative teamwork"(as if that is conducive to every student's learning). Those of us who reject those norms are seen as troublemakers and outsiders. It's not normal to want to retreat, be alone, and seek solitude for true productivity. And I believe there's truly something wrong with that. 

There are some of us who perform best when collaborating with other people. Teamwork motivates us to focus more, challenge ourselves, and become more productive. And that is perfectly okay. However, there are also some of us who function in the opposite manner. Being forced to engage in group efforts makes us less focused, less disciplined, and less motivated. It creates the exact opposite effect on us. We need the freedom to move at our own pace, with our own ideas, and solely with ourselves. That is how we craft the creations that truly represent who we are. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

My First Time. ♡



Water dripped from my hair and down my back as I stepped out of the shower. A few suds still remaining on my legs, I grabbed a nearby towel and draped it around my naked figure. I could feel the suffocating steam of the bathroom burst through the door as I opened it and proceeded to walk through. My feet felt slick against the hardwood floor as I approached my bedroom door and turned the doorknob clockwise. 

I dried my hair, then my body. Slowly, meticulously. As if I were handling fragile goods. Then I just stood there. And waited. The towel fell to the floor and I waited. 

The floor length mirror stood before me, isolated against the wall. It felt as if we were on the brink of a tense conversation, both waiting on the other to explain our points of view. I stared at it and it glared back at me. 

This continued for a matter of minutes. Then I grew anxious. If it weren't going to speak first, then I'd take the lead. I twisted and turned my torso so I could examine every inch of my back. My belly. My breasts. Then I twirled around to have a look at my legs. Strong calves and luscious thighs. I even grew the strength to oggle at my not-so-perky behind. Something for so long I dared not do because it was a stinging reminder of how disproportionate and unworthy this body was. 

But in that moment, I liked it. 

So I looked at it again. And again. And again. It wasn't long before I found myself quite fancying this stranger in the mirror. This stranger that the mirror so often provoked me to be disgusted with. An image that I longed to never be forced to see. The mirror had always held dominion over the discourse we engaged in. It controlled what I saw, what I thought I saw, how I felt about what I saw, and what I really wished to see when I looked into it. But strangely for once, it settled in silence. 

And that was my first time. My first time truly examining and loving the reflection I was given of myself. Instead of the usual disgust and intimidation I felt glaring into that glass, I felt nothing but love. 


And that love in the eyes translated to love in the heart and mind. 

Genuine confidence and acceptance of myself, including the flaws I supposedly have.


 I'm not afraid anymore. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Turn Off Yo Phone.☝

I am a supreme lover of social media. Ever since the days of Myspace (when I was forbidden to even have one) I have had this affinity for online platforms. Admittedly, I believe that over the years as the Internet has grown and connecting with others is much easier, my love for social media has become an obsession. I say that in courage because I know that I am not the only one

Check your Facebook. We all know someone that's obsessed. 



As I've gotten honest with myself about my obsession with social media, I've learned to discipline myself with it. I don't use multiple platforms. And with the platforms that I choose to utilize, I manage my time on them carefully. Even if I have only two social media outlets, I don't want to spend so much time on either of them that the reduction does no good. People underestimate the power of too much online engagement. In my personal experiences, I've felt mind boggled when I'm steadily connecting with people all day long. I can't seem to focus on much because my mind is too concentrated on whatever I've been exposed to. I'm a thinker. So anything that I encounter (coonery included) makes me want to analyze and discuss more. I see this as a natural tendency of my personality and in many ways, a gift. However, I do recognize that it can be unproductive and unconducive to my mental and emotional health. 

Although I've recognized these patterns in my own life, I still realize that we live in a society that promotes the very opposite of what I'm striving to achieve. I want isolation sometimes; I want silence. I want to be unconnected and have no one know exactly what I'm doing nor where I am. I need that "me" time. But many individuals don't feel they need it. Or, perhaps they don't know that they need it.

Facebook.

Instagram.

Snapchat.

Twitter.

Whatsapp.

YouTube.

The list could go on for days. Of course many of them are not as popular as others, but I'm sure you understand where I'm going with this. There are now millions of crevices and corners on the Internet that allow you to connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time that you see fit. At first it seems fun. It's interesting and exciting because you can share your photos, look at other people's photos, talk trash about celebrities, talk trash about your friends... Whatever your heart desires. But the issue arises when you don't know how to turn those desires off and you begin to value yourself based on what the Internet says. 




You should not value yourself based on how many likes you get on an Instagram photo. It should not affect your self-esteem if no one shares the Facebook post you made last week. Who cares if no one watched your Snapchat? These are all minuscule things that appear juvenile but millions of people deal with every day, including myself. That is, until I remind myself that who I am cannot be defined by strangers on the web. I have to control that urge to be known and recognized because if not, it will control me. When social media platforms are advertised to you, they don't issue a disclaimer stating that overusage may lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, and/or low self-esteem. That's not what they exist to do. You simply use them to connect with friends, make new ones, and express yourself in an open, online space. Don't get too emotionally invested.

Society promotes the idea that popularity = success. If people know you and recognize you, you are a somebody. And in that case, I am perfectly okay with being a nobody. I love my privacy and peace. I don't yearn to be digitally connected with others constantly because for a person with my personality, that is both mentally and emotionally draining. By the end of it all, I have no energy or vitality for myself. So I choose to be selfish in that regard and I am not ashamed of it.

Individuals that commit suicide due to cyberbullying are often mocked and ridiculed because people say they "could have turned the computer off." Turned the cellphone off. Blocked the perpetrator's number. But it's so much more complex than that. When a person (one whom may already have self-esteem issues to resolve) is consistently confronted with negativity in regards to their sexuality, appearance, etc., the hurt doesn't just dissipate when the computer is turned off. It ingrains itself into their psyche. And stays there. It buries itself and feeds on every ounce of negativity that follows. And for a young person, that is a very extreme situation to cope with. Many victims of cyberbullying are teenagers whose brains have not fully developed, they're experiencing puberty and hormonal changes, and a plethora of other things that we all deal with as young adults. It's extremely overwhelming. So it is shameful to blame the victim in any situation. Social media has a way of wrestling with the mind until it gives up and gives out. 

With that being said, I am a supreme advocate for going off the grid technologically. Disappear off Facebook for a week. You'll survive. And I promise that when you return, you'll feel so much more refreshed and empowered over the urge to be seen. Many of us now feel that we have an online presence to maintain. Our reputation has to be upheld or people will stop being engaged or interested in us. But to that I ask this question: why do you need others to consistently be interested in you? Honestly make that consideration and let me know how you feel in the comment section below!

Thank you for reading and happy typing! 





Tuesday, February 9, 2016

So Unapologetic. ☁

(Sister Souljah, Circa 1994)
(I do not own rights to this image)

As of late, I have been very interested in the literary work and activism of Sister Souljah. I love being able to take information from my class work as a student and synthesize it with other information I find on my own. That's how I learn best; it makes the information relevant. And in dedication of Black History Month, what could be more relevant than the emotional/psychological/political state of America's young Black people?

For those who don't know, Sister Souljah is a prolific author, speaker, activist, and hip-hop artist that became well-known in the early 1990s. Most remember her by a controversial statement that she supposedly made in 1992 during Bill Clinton's presidential campaign. Sister was being interviewed by TIME Magazine and one of her responses was misconstrued in the media, causing some backlash from Clinton. If you would like more information on that, just click here. Nonetheless, she was not a force to be reckoned with. Sister was a product of the welfare system of the Bronx, New York but she was intelligent enough to know that her socioeconomic background could not and would not define who she was. She graduated from Rutgers University, studied at Cornell, and traveled abroad several times. Her passion was in awakening the minds of African people all across the globe and creating a universal community that strengthens the population as a whole. She practiced what she preached. In her local communities, she developed programs for Black youth that facilitated productive learning environments. We're all aware that little Black girls and boys deserve a learning experience catered to their condition as African descendants and well, Sister Souljah provided just that. 

What I admire about the quote above is that it validates young Black individuals' feelings of frustration and anger with the state of politics in America. Very clearly Sister Souljah explains how white political powers strategically guilt us into feeling bad for the discrimination and injustice that they subject us to. It's like pinching an innocent baby that cannot defend itself and then scolding the child for crying. What kind of sense does that make?

It's frustrating to me when reverse racism is used as a clapback to racism against POC (people of color). It makes my back itch. I break out in hives. Because it's a bullshit excuse that's easy to draw from. In order for a specific group to be racist, that group must possess the economic and political power to subjugate those they feel superior to. They have to possess power that allows them to systematically discriminate against other people. Simply put, Black people do not have that economic power. Thus, we cannot be racist. Prejudice against other races, yes. That doesn't require economic power. Anyone can hold prejudices. But being racist is something that we cannot be. And because of this reason, it infuriates me when that's used as a retort to systematic racism against POC. 

They want us to feel bad. They want us to believe that we aren't being mistreated, abused, or ignored. They want us to believe we're all equal as the Declaration of Independence states. And when we feed into these lies we are accommodating their system of injustice. 

We are in every way aiding in our own subjugation. 

I believe the #unapologeticallyBlack movement that has emerged is a result of realizing that we can take charge of what we will and will not believe. African-Americans are no longer choosing to apologize for shit they just can't control, like being Black! Our very existence is radical and rebellious. We may as well make use of it, be proud of our heritage and history. And do so with an attitude that holds no guilt, no apprehensions. Boldly step into white spaces and declare who we are, what we desire, and how we plan to bring those things to fruition. 


Stop apologizing and start appreciating. 


P.S. -Here is a YouTube video of one of Sister Souljah's speeches entitled "We Are At War" from 1994. Excuse the cheesy intro and low quality; it's an old clip. Enjoy!






Friday, February 5, 2016

Realness. ღ

(I own no rights to this image.)

I can vividly remember many of the bus rides from school that I had as a child. I was the only little Black girl amongst 10-15 white children on the bus--five of which who may have been girls. We all lived in the countryside, rural neighborhoods at least thirty minutes from the closest grocery stores or movie theaters. It was simple living out in that area but we didn't know that until adolescence of course, when we were exposed to more. We only knew what we were told and shown. 

During these long, tedious bus rides I always attempted to grab a window seat. Doing so seemed to provide me with a secret corner. A place I could slip into and no one would see me. Oftentimes, they acted that way anyhow. Being an introverted child, I didn't mind at all. I preferred it that way. Instead of socializing, I wanted to observe. Listen. Examine. For a young child, much of his/her personal development is impacted by what is seen at home with family members and what is seen at school with teachers and peers. Because I was one of the few Blacks in the school, I wanted to discover a way to blend in. Become a part of the majority. And what better way to learn than to observe those who are already a part of that majority. 

Mind you, I did not do this consciously. I was a child. My mind had yet to evolve to even understand what was happening around me nor why it was happening. I had premises for my desire to blend in but as a young girl, I could not necessarily explain to you exactly why.

One of the key things I envied most about my white, female peers was their hair. It had bounce. Shine. Was silky. And from what I could see, very versatile. It was the epitome of beauty and femininity, I believed. And because of this belief, I grew to dislike my own hair. I was ashamed. It had no bounce. It had no shine. It sure as hell wasn't silky. So I marveled at the sight of my friends' hair when they ran, jumped, and skipped across the playground and the classrooms. The sun's rays would beam onto their manes as if God Himself was kissing their heads in admiration. And I would watch from afar, awaiting the day for Him to kiss me too. 

My hair was not the only boundary that I believed separated me from my White counterparts. It was also my skin. And I'm sure you're thinking, "Of course! You're Black!" But I didn't see it that way as a child. It was not simply the fact that I was Black. But the fact that I was a Black that was dark-skinned. To this very day, I am not sure of where the inclination birth from. I don't know how I even conceived such a thought at such an early age. But I did. I felt that maybe... Just maybe if I were 2-3 shades brighter, things would be different. That "different" meant that I would be more popular in school. That different meant that my teachers would believe I was a little smarter than I let on. That different meant that I would have the confidence to be more outspoken and command the attention of others. That different meant that I would love myself more. 

It was not until my late teens that I realized I could accomplish all of those things while still being me--the dark-skinned, chocolate me that I've always been.

Although I could not control the texture nor length of my hair and the hue of my skin as a child, I quickly learned that which I could control: my speech. My vernacular. I could become more purposeful about the words that I spoke and the manner in which I spoke them. In order to associate and connect with my white friends I needed to speak their language, just as they spoke it, I believed. In many ways, I believe that I began doing this subconsciously. I simply mirrored the image I admired in an attempt to join the culture, become a part of the group. And it worked. They accepted me despite my nappy hair, wide nose, and bony black knees. I was the darkest thing in the room but when I spoke, the entire place lit up. Others wanted to hear what I needed to say. I believe that my introverted personality played a part in this as well. As reserved as I was, of course it was a moment to embrace if and when I dared to open my mouth in front of others. It made me proud. But it also made me shameful. I was lauded in the hallways yet laughed at at home. My family members couldn't understand why I needed to enunciate my -er's and use frivolous words when I could just say "gonna, 'bout," and "iight." I recall very vividly some saying that I "talked white." It sounds ignorant but the underlying message is everything but. To state that I "talked white" implied that proper grammar and enunciation was a mannerism Black people couldn't have. It confused me. It frustrated me. And so at a very young age, I learned the in's and out's of what we now call code switching. I was in elementary and middle school back then. I didn't know what that was all about. But what I did know was that it was "refrigerator" from 8:00AM to 3:30 in the afternoon and once my feet hit that dirt road back home, we ain't know nothing 'bout no "refrigerator."


In retrospect, I am grateful for my childhood experiences because they've taught me a great deal. Through reflection, I have learned more about myself, my heritage, and the world around me. Now as an adult, I realize that I am nowhere close to being the only Black (female) who has ever felt this way. As youngsters, we are indoctrinated into whatever culture around us. It's not our fault if we don't necessarily align with the standards of that culture because our race is something beyond our control. Trying to battle with it is much like a fight with nature; you'll never win. As a result of this insight, I've learned to embrace with open arms the person that I am, the person that I was born. It would serve an injustice to the men and women before me--who have risked and lost their lives so that I can be proud of who I am--to reject my identity. How dare I spit in the face of those who sacrificed for my livelihood? I owe it back, I believe. And so I dare to pay my respects by first acknowledging the self-rejection and dislike I harbored for myself, learning to accept that which I am, and then helping those who are quietly harboring resentment as well. We are often afraid to admit that we have these feelings because to do so is to admit that there are parts of ourselves we just don't like. But I believe it's okay to claim those feelings because none of us are alone and most importantly, we were not born with those feelings. They are the results of an indoctrination into a society in which whiteness remains supreme.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Why We Compete

(Edit: I began this post with one purpose in mind, but over time I began to ramble into another. My apologies...)

Since the completion of my last post, I have been thinking about the experience I had from a broader perspective. Taking me and my feelings out of the picture and addressing the overarching issue that I believe exists. And in doing so, I've come to some conclusions. 

Last semester, I had the opportunity to take a class titled Foundations of Human Dignity. Initially the name of the course may frighten you. It sounds too broad, too boring. But it turned out to be everything but. I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that this class shifted my perspective on life and myself in SO many ways. My professor was an excellent instructor (and still is) and I believe that's why I came to enjoy the class so much. I'm an introvert with a hint of social anxiety so I never spoke up. Like, ever. But no doubt were the wheels turning in my head every second I was there. 

The purpose of the course was to explore the concept of human dignity, or value--to define what that means exactly and what that means to different people. We explored the philosophy of several different Western philosophers (Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, etc.) but we also took a look at some African traditions as well. We dissected how we as African-Americans have come to believe the things that we do and what caused that to happen. (Research the "two-cradle theory" if you're interested in it a little more.)

My professor introduced to us this idea of an epic memory. For African-Americans, it's a subconscious, spiritual connection to our ancestors and the experiences that they had both before and after the institution of slavery. Think of it as an invisible link. We may not be able to directly sense that it's there but no doubt does it exist. You just have to be willing to look out for it and accept it. 

With this epic memory, we have strong ties to the psychological bondage and brutality that our forefathers and foremothers experience. It would be foolish to believe that we live our lives in isolation of the oppression and degradation that they were to forced to live under every day of their lives. We are free but we are still connected, I believe. Because of the institution of slavery, African-Americans developed a culture of survival. Being able to simply make it to the end of the day without the threat of being sold or having one's loved ones sold became a sole concern. This same spirit of survival still lives and breathes within our culture today. It exists in different manners but no doubt does it exist. 

Because survival has been a staple of the Black experience in America for so long, some of us have begun to compete with one another. It's much like the "survival of the fittest" theory proposed by Charles Darwin that I'm sure you've learned about in middle or high school. Those who are best able to adapt to their environment are more likely to survive and pass on their genetic material. In many cases, this theory is used in reference to animals or bacteria, but we are very much the same way. When survival is the end goal, everyone else (excluding our family and loved ones) becomes competition, an obstacle in our path. And that significantly impacts how we view and treat others, even if they look just like us. 

I have witnessed this a great deal between African-American women, since I am one. Sometimes it's obvious, direct, in your face. And sometimes it's sly, underhanded. The latter is actually the most hurtful in my opinion. In some cases I don't believe that we mean to compete with one another; it's subconscious. In others, it's very well intentional. Survival equates to success, recognition, and popularity in our minds. Those are the things we're striving to achieve because we have been socialized to believe that those things give us value. We only have value if we subscribe to the Western ideology of success. We only have value if a certain number of people know our names. We only have value if we exist within certain social circles. It's all bullshit honestly. That's not what survival is about. We all know that. But we have been socialized to believe this way so the competition continues. And it is mighty ugly, as exemplified in my experience in the last post. 

I believe a great number of the reality T.V. shows produced today perpetuate this need to compete. There is this glorification of Black women bickering and fighting, gossiping about one another, and competing for the silliest things. Many view it as entertainment but I believe it's entertainment that reflects something we should not be proud of. I don't want to be entertained by seeing 30-40 year old women fight. Particularly, African-American women. I would much rather see them embrace one another in a spirit of sisterhood and empower one another. Those images are much more powerful and productive. To glorify the negativity is to perpetuate the competitive nature that we need to do away with. 

Although we are no longer physically enslaved, many in the African-American community are still mentally in bondage. You may have heard it referred to as the "slave mentality." I believe it to be true. In order to shift our perspectives, we need to examine where these perspectives came from in the first place. Critique them, dissect them, and determine if we want to accept them as our Truth. If not, it is not too late to change them and make change for the better. 


Sunday, January 31, 2016

bitterSWEET. ☾

A common archetype that we see in Black movies and television is the bitter Black female. She's constantly angry, frustrated, and resentful towards anyone who appears to have the happiness that she wishes she had. There are certain traumatic experiences--infidelity in a relationship, loss of a child, sexual abuse (as a child), rejection--that are promoted as the causes for how this typical bitter woman acts. In many films, she somehow comes to terms with those particular causes and finds peace finally. In other movies maybe the outcome isn't so positive. However, no matter the ending of the story, this overarching archetype of the bitter, Black woman lives with us. It lingers with us. It lingers with us because for some women it rings true.

Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to attend a school event with fellow classmates and faculty. I'm a true introvert but I actually enjoyed socializing for once. Talking and interacting with people is fun sometimes. In fact, I ended up being a volunteer at the front door of the building so I was able to greet everyone in attendance as they arrived. After a few "good mornings" and chipper "How are you?'s" I was pretty warmed up to the whole talking-to-people thing. I was having a great time.

Well in walks this lady.


She's probably in her mid-forties, African-American, tall, and attractive. You can tell she's healthy and takes care of herself. Just by the way she was dressed and presented herself, I'm sure she'd be the type of person you would want to get to know. From afar.

As she walked up to the table I was posted near, I proceeded to hand her a note card, pen, and some other information while giving her a warm smile and greeting--just as I had done for every other person that morning. I couldn't even finish. She snatched the papers out of my hand and just walked away as if I had said nothing to her.

Where I'm from, that's called



What makes this all so interesting is that this isn't my first encounter with this lady. She's been in attendance to a few other school-related events I've been to and each time, her attitude is just the same. Disgusting. She doesn't have a warm presence about her. She doesn't invite people in; in fact, she shuts them out. She evokes this attitude of arrogance that is just downright repulsive. And it's all extremely pitiful because she's topping fifty soon! As Black women we are already vied against one another from birth. Who's the prettiest? Who has the best body? Best booty? Best boobies? The longest hair? The straightest hair? The best boyfriend... The list goes on. Women in general are vied against one another constantly but the competition is even grimier as a Black woman because society already puts us at the bottom of the social ladder. 1. We are Black.  2. We are women. We have double strikes against us. Which is why I am a strong supporter of movements that promote unity of Black women-no matter the age, skin tone, body weight, etc. We all have things in common. I feel like I should be able to look up to an older Black woman and have a sister, a role model, someone who understands where I am because she was once there. But since meeting this particular woman I have never gotten that vibe.

Because this wasn't my first rude experience with this lady, I was a bit aggravated on Saturday as she walked away nonchalantly. I was ticked. But I quickly reminded myself that whatever it is she has going on psychologically or mentally has nothing to do with me. It would be selfish of me to even think that. I can't take it personal. There obviously have been some things happening in her life that have molded her into the person she is with the personality and mannerisms she possesses. I cannot fault her for that because I too am human. My own experiences have crafted me into the individual that I am today.  I know that she couldn't have just simply been born with a spiteful, bitter attitude. We don't live life in a vacuum. Things happen. And because of these things we have women that become angry and resentful towards everyone around them. I believe that in many cases these women don't realize the connect between past hurt and present hurt. They are so afraid of even dealing with the pain of it that they'd rather continue living in oblivion and playing the victim role. 

I don't like to make excuses for people's bitchy-ness. However,  I do attempt to unravel situations and understand what's lying beneath the surface. I've discovered that when I do this I'm less inclined to become angry and bitter myself because I understand why people act and react in the manners that they do. And oftentimes it has absolutely nothing to do with me. Maybe it has something to do with bullying in the third grade. Sexual abuse at sixteen. Being lied to. Being deceived. Losing trust in everyone around. The list could go on and on and on... The possibilities are endless. There are millions of things that can happen to a person and leave them with a bitter, resentful heart. It is frustrating to deal with but the least that we can do is just be good to one another regardless.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

#SelfCareSunday ♡


(image courtesy of Buzzfeed.com)

"Self-care."  Self-care. These words take on a different meaning depending on who you're talking to but I believe that's just the beauty of it. 

I find it uncomfortable to refer to self-care as a trend because I value it as much more than just that. However, it's sudden presence across various blogs makes it seem like such. In fact, I was not even aware self-care was a thing until it happened to come across my Tumblr dashboard (which I no longer have as a matter of fact). It was listed with an extremely long compilation of activities one can do (or choose not to do) to engage in what one calls self-care. Some of the things on the list didn't necessarily resonate with me but I overlooked it. As I mentioned before, the phrase takes on a different meaning depending on who you're speaking to. My idea of self-care may be different from yours, your best friend's, your sister's... And that's okay.

I believe a great majority of us spend so much of our time each day forcing ourselves to believe we're okay because that's what we want. We want to feel that we are in the right place spiritually, emotionally, or mentally so we force ourselves to think continuously, "I'm okay. I'm alright." But in the back of our minds, there is a voice reminding us that there is something there and we need to tend to it. 

I believe self-care is a means by which we tend to that lingering voice. 

It doesn't matter what you do necessarily, as long as it is soothing to your soul. It sounds cliché but once you begin the process, experience the serenity of it, and reflect, you can easily understand how valuable it is. We try so hard to continuously be strong for our children, siblings, parents, and significant others that in the process we lose sight of just being strong for our own sake. To be aware of and tend to one's on emotional and mental needs is not selfish by any means. (If so, I'm selfish as hell.) Any person that attempts to guilt you into believing that your own needs don't matter deserves none of your time nor effort. 

In listening to other ladies and reading various stories from some online, I've found that Black females in particular are the ones that commonly neglect to self-care. This neglect of the spiritual and/or emotional self can be just as traumatic as the neglect of the physiological self. As they say, where the mind goes, the body will follow. 

Deep psychological care heals those old wounds and tends to the new ones. It does not make you weak to have sensitivities and to be fully aware of those sensitivities. Some of the strongest women I have connected with in life have been people that are aware of their talents and strengths, yet they also understand where they need to increase that strength and improve. As a WOC who has been sensitive since I was a child, I'm very proud of my sensitive nature because it improves my ability to connect with others. I'm well-tuned to my own emotions and tendencies. And because I understand myself, I understand others better. Not to say that I can befriend just anyone, but I am less hesitant to judge other individuals based on preconceived notions. I give everyone a benefit of the doubt. Some people may call that being naive. I'll take that. 

    

How I self-care:

  • Writing. Just making this blog post is refreshing for me. I write hand notes on scratch paper, I keep a running journal in my cellphone, and I tweet like crazy
  • Cleaning. Anytime I organize my closet, toss away old clothes, or just deep clean the bathroom I feel so relaxed afterwards. Maybe because it's such an easy process that allows my mind to wander as it pleases. Maybe...
  • Painting my nails/doing my hair. As of late, I have stopped going to nail salons as much and just choose to save time (and $$!) by doing them at home. The process is meticulous, for me at least. Helps me clear my mind so quickly. I'm a natural with hand-in-the-head syndrome as well so watching Youtube tutorials and experimenting gives me a natural high. 
  • Taking solo walks. I live in a noisy city so anytime that I can find peace and quiet is valuable. Typically a walk through a park helps me recharge. 
  • Having a bubble bath. It seems so simple. And it really is. Typically I'm on the go so much between classes and work that showering is the most efficient option. But being able to just take time and relax for a moment is well worth it. 
How do you self-care?



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Melaninaire.♛

If you've read my previous post (which you should), then you know that I'm a fan of a cute little application named WeHeartIt.  It's handy if you're an insomniac and appreciate wholesome entertainment until you knock out. Or, if you're constantly searching for makeup and outfit inspirations and Pinterest isn't doing the job. 

As I mentioned before, I've been searching African and African-American art, fashion, photography, etc. lately. I love images that capture natural beauty, whether it be in a human being or nature. There's just something extraordinary about a person or landscape that's untampered. Close-ups of people of color are my favorites because they capture the beauty of ebony skin--something society is just now starting to appreciate (somewhat). 

Here are a few of fav's just because I love you... a little bit.  ❁◕ ‿ ◕❁


I do not own any of these images. All images are courtesy of WeHeartIt.com. 

















Sunday, January 17, 2016

Little She. Big Me. ♡

(photo courtesy of WeHeartIt.com) 

She is elegant.

She is sweet.

She is powerful.


During unnecessarily long bus rides, extra time between classes, and bouts of insomnia every now and then I like to peruse this app called We Heart It (which you can check out for yourself right here). It's a plethora of pretty wallpapers, outfit inspirations, and hipster quotes but there's a ton of beautiful artwork on the app as well, which is what I usually prefer to browse. Just like any other search engine, it allows you to plug in whatever tickles your fancy and it'll load images related to the word(s) or phrases you use.

Recently, I searched for "African art". It was fun.

It's actually when I came across the photo above and I just fell in love with it. It reminded me of myself as a little girl and how I viewed myself. Not the self that my family, teachers, and friends told me belonged to me. But the self that I manifested, the one that came naturally to me. And I wondered how we differentiate between the two as young girls, particularly young brown girls. What happens to that self as we grow older and encounter people and experiences that challenge it? 

I've found that there's something really comforting in hearing (or reading) life experiences of other brown girls (and women) because it affirms that I am not alone. Or shall I say, I have not been alone. The ways that I have come about to know and understand myself are similar to the ways of another person even if we never speak of it. Oftentimes we may be embarrassed to speak of it because it summons up memories we'd rather forget. But that doesn't heal any wounds. It's a metaphorical bandaid. I'd rather discuss it. 

How did you view yourself as a little girl? How did you develop that view? How did others receive it?