Fantasies of Me

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” ~ Audre Lorde

Thinking about this quote today and wrote a quick poem…

fantasies of me

don’t come close to my reality.

in truth

perception is a mere

façade

of forced presentation

as i am the most fearful person

i know.

a contradiction of sorts

living boldly

and cowering under

the pressure to

conform.

 

as fantasies of me

don’t come close to my reality.

in truth

i want to streak

through crowds

but there’s

judgment…waiting

to eat me alive.

so i’m covered

layered

cloaked

hidden

in the fantasies

and they, too, eat me

dead.

killing spirit

inciting insanity

panic

and attacks.

 

and facing extinction,

i decide

fantasies of me

are no match

for my lived reality.

with its pained existence

hurdles, scrapes and burns

heartache and break

and tears from

disappointment and mistakes

those fantasies

of perfection

ain’t got shyt on my reality

my truth

the tree that

kicked through

the concrete.

damn those fantasies

i

define

me.

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On My Block [A street requiem]

This past weekend, I visited Ferguson, MO along with the #BlackLivesMatter group and returned to Atlanta with a lump in my throat but empowerment in my heart. I was speechless…but I could write. And I’m sure this is unfinished, but after seeing the exact location where Mike Brown was gunned down on a neighborhood street in the middle of the day, I had to write something. Hoping to give it life at a spoken word event soon…

On my block
Were syrupy bee-bops
Up the street
The Candy Lady’s sweet shop.
The intersection of Rosa Parks
And Martin Luther King
My block was the corner
Of street lights and
Olympic dreams…
Foot races
Tightened shoe laces.
To the STOP sign and back
A quick 100 meters
Winning to talk trash
Taking rocks to pavement
Chalk for Tic-Tac
Toe in the street.
On my block
Deuces and quarters
With Subwoofers
1980s hip hop beats

On my block
Was where time stopped.
I could be cool forever
Daydreaming about
Being a poet…
Letting the rhymes drop.
Just young, wild
And free.
Taking over the streets.
Cars passed by with
Permission.
Honk the horn one time
And our kick ball games
Took intermission.
With an adult yelling

“Get ya’ll asses out the street!”

But on my block
That yell was sincere
and Sweet.
And we moved.
For a time.
Watched the cars go by
Us, standing on either side.
Soul Train line.
Then kick ball resumed.
No one assumed

That on our block
We could be stopped.
For walking in OUR spaces
Sidewalks or not
Neighborhood streets
Were sacred places.
No yellow lines
No jay-walking street signs.

Because it’s

OUR

Block.

On OUR block
We don’t need
Crooked cops.
Trigger happy
Trained assassins
Carrying glocks
Interrupting
games of hop scotch.
Facades of protecting
And serving.
With authentic
Purposes
of unnerving
Our neighborhood.
Cruising through at a
Steady 5 miles
Looking for targets
Eye contact.
Fake smiles.

Word.

On Mike’s block
A ripple of shots.
A ripple of shots.
He surrendered.
Hands up
Six times popped.
To the pavement
He dropped.
Dead in the street.
On his block.

He was dead in the street
On his block.

Where
Blood stains
Remain
Reminders to some
Challenges to the
Sane.
Headaches and tears
As children play
And mothers love
With enhanced fears
That our streets
Are not our own
That on our blocks
The innocence
Of bee-bops
Candy Ladies and sweet shops
Places where
Time never stopped.
Where cyphers lived
And beats and flows
Dropped.
As we danced to hop-scotch.

Those sacred places
Those neighborhood blocks
Now
Invaded by
Uncaring
Trained Assassin
Racist
Cops.

But we won’t
Surrender
Hands up
To the pavement
We won’t drop.
Not one more
Dead in the street.
Hit by six shots.
On HIS block.
On HER block.
On OUR block.

Because it’s

OUR

Block.

Don’t come ‘round here
To our streets
Our urban retreats
Our sanctuary and
Release.
We’ve drawn lines
In the sand.
On the side of [real]  justice
We stand.

Because it’s

OUR

Block.

No place
For crooked cops
Trigger happy
Trained assassins
Armed with glocks.

Marching won’t stop
Protecting our homes
Our blocks.
Not one more
Shot
Pavement dropped
For walking in OUR spaces
Sidewalks or not
Neighborhood streets
Are sacred places.
Fuck them yellow lines
Fuck them
Non-existent
jay-walking street signs.

We strolling down
the blvd
the lane
the ave
the drive
From one end to the other
Still alive

Keep driving through
Don’t stop.

We just walking.
We living.
We just loving.

Because it’s

OUR

Block.

 

 

 

Futuristic Black Love – on 3000

Futuristic Black love
on 3000

Because 2,999 won’t do
You, me and Badu
Space traveling through galaxies
Building our families
Resisting normative boundaries
of social expectations
Highest love levitating
and creating
Bodies and ciphers and
Intergalactic escapes to lands
That celebrate

Futuristic Black love
on 3000

We’re on that new shyt
Black love on 3000
That some folks can’t
Get wit
We don’t live in boxes
Fluid, undefinable identifies
and I’m checking pansexual
Because our passion connects
To the intellectual
While our love births those

SpottieOttieDopaliscious

Aliens from Atlanta, Dallas and West Blocton
We three – a true southern concoction

of Futuristic Black love
on 3000

Find us in our spaceship
No rear view mirrors
Ain’t looking back while
We dip
Into the exosphere
So damn high, elevated
Clouds are miniscule beneath
Our feet
Our next lifetime is now
Breaking atmospheric beats
Loving, living, creating

Exactly

How

We

Pleeeeaaaaase.

No need for a player’s anthem
Ain’t nobody choosin
With these three bodies
Ain’t nobody losin
Because it’s love, love…

We’re just on that

Furturistic Black love
on 3000

He – She – and I
Capismini, Capismini.

Asphyxiation (Our Lives Matter)

I can’t breathe.

In an open space with air all around

Yet, I can’t breathe.

Can’t inhale or exhale –

Unless they give permission.

To kill me.

Choke holds and

Cold-blooded murder.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

Because I was suspect.

For my Black, my Brown skin.

For seeking help.

For minding my own business.

In this world where my biggest sin

Is being.

That’s all. Just being.

Being Black.

Being Brown.

Being Brave.

Being Bold.

Enough to say

“You don’t own me!”

Bold enough to ask

“Can you help me?”

Bold enough to plead.

“I can’t breathe.”

“I can’t breathe.”

“I CAN’T BREATHE.”

And they’re killing me.

With my hands raised

Open palms

I’m not greeted with open arms.

I’m suspect.

Slayed in the streets,

And on porches.

And in neighborhoods.

In parks.

In public spaces.

Making a mockery of me.

Bodies uncovered for all to see.

For they aim to let us know

That I won’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

Unless permission is given to me.

But I’m villainized for reacting

To the repeated cries.

They say I should march.

And I should be peaceful.

And I should make a difference.

In a calm way.

But I can’t breathe.

I can’t fucking breathe.

And they want me…

To trust that I’ll be free.

Trust that this system will protect me.

Trust that they’ll let me breathe.

And I don’t.

I don’t trust that I’ll ever be able to breathe.

So I’m fighting.

For air.

And I apologize if my methods

Don’t suit.

But they match the madness.

For when you can’t breathe

And you’re unsure that they won’t shoot

Fight is a natural response.

When my words, my cries, my pleas

Have fallen on deaf ears

How am I expected to breathe?

How am I expected to bring peace?

When peace is not afforded to me…

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I want peace.

I want to breathe…

F R E E L Y.

 

 

 

When Jean Wore Red… (Because I’m random and had 15 minutes to spare.)

“What do you think? Does it look okay?” Miss Brenda tugged on her dress and frowned at herself in the mirror.

“It looks fine, Miss Brenda. The color is quite becoming,” Shar commented.

Miss Brenda smiled, first at herself and then at Shar. “Well, thank you. I never really know what to wear sometimes. Seems like an old woman like me would not be so concerned about how my clothes fit. I thought I was long past that stage of life.”

“You’re not an old woman.”

“I am. I’m 60 years old; and by most accounts, that makes me an old woman.”

“Not by my account.”

“Humph,” Miss Brenda arched her back to stand taller and tilted her head to the right, upwards as if she were giving a look of pleasant disdain. Nose pointed in the air, hands on her hips, sitting back in a mature woman’s dip. “You don’t have sugar coat it for me. I’m having a little trouble picking out a dress. I’m not looking for my self-esteem. Ya’ll young folks always thinking that an old woman needs her ego stroked, needs to be boosted up. I don’t. I do enough of that on my own. Just ain’t had to pick out a dress like this in a long time. Well, not for an event like this.”

“So where’s Mr. Sam taking you?” Shar asked.

“And ya’ll nosey. I never had the gumption to ask a grown woman her business. But now, young folks don’t mind asking an old lady all of her private information. I know your mama taught you better.”

“Yes ma’am. She did. I’m sorry.”

“Well anyway, he’s taking me down to Charlene’s Vegan Soul Food. I don’t know why he chose that place. Me and soul food ain’t had too much to do with one another since my doctor told me that it was helping me get to my grave a little early. Besides, who is Charlene Vegan? I’ve never heard of her.”

Shar covered her mouth as she giggled so as not to appear disrespectful in her response. “That’s not a person’s name, Miss Brenda. Vegan is a way of eating that doesn’t include animal products. So Mr. Sam is probably being considerate of your diet.”

Miss Brenda turned from the mirror to give Shar a chastising stare before going back into the dressing room. Shar grabbed all the eight dresses that didn’t make the cut and handed them to the sales associate.

“We won’t be needing these.”

The sales associate took the dresses and returned them to their sections. Miss Brenda stepped out of the dressing room and handed the dress and her bag to Shar. She checked the mirror to make sure all her buttons were fastened correctly before dabbing on some lipstick.

“Red,” she laughed. “I remember when I couldn’t wear red anything. My mama always said red was for those women. When I was younger, I didn’t really know who those women were until I saw Daddy talking to Jean Somersby. It was Sunday after church. Mama had taken us to the store to get some ice cream. Me, Sophie and James ran in the store and Mama walked in behind us. Daddy stayed outside to talk to some of the deacons. Mama was in a good mood after church, so she let us grab all the candy we wanted.

When we came back outside, Jean was standing next to Daddy with one hand on his shoulder and the other clutching her barely covered breast. She let out the most flirtatious laugh when she saw Mama. Daddy, of course, was all flustered and told Jean to have a good day as he removed her hand. Mama told us to get in the car, and Daddy hopped in as fast as he could. As we sped off, I looked back at Jean with her red lipstick and dress cinched tightly at the waist. I don’t know what it was about her, but I thought she was beautiful. Mama was beautiful too, but in a different way. Jean had that beauty that made men desire her and women want to be her – or fight her.

All the way home, Daddy tried to make conversation with Mama. But she didn’t respond. She never said one word. And when we finally made it home, I asked Mama what Daddy said to Miss Jean to make her smile so hard. She turned to me quickly, ‘Brenda, her name is Jean. You call her that. You hear me?’ and she walked away. That was the first time Mama said I could call a grown woman by her first name. So Miss Jean became Jean, and that’s how I always addressed her. We were equals. And I liked it that way.

That was a long time ago. But I do loves me some red; makes me feel like Jean looked to me that day – all playful, flirtatious and in control.”

Shar looked confused at Miss Brenda’s suggestion that Jean had control.

“I know what you’re thinking. ‘How was Jean in control that day?’ Child, let me tell you… Anytime a woman gets a man that flustered and makes his wife so upset that she tells her 11-year-old daughter to address that woman by her first name, that woman is in control. Daddy might have come home with us, but both he and Mama in that moment with Jean for quite some time. Now hand me my purse and let’s get out of here. I’ve told you too much of my business as it is.”

“Yes ma’am.”

 

Notes on Father’s (and Mother’s) Day…

I must admit, I always have to check the calendar to know when Father’s Day is approaching. It’s one of those holidays that I never spent much time celebrating. As a child, I looked forward to Mother’s Day. In school, we’d always create some artsy, awkward gift for our mothers. And Ma would smile like we’d given her the best gifts ever. I don’t remember what we did for Father’s Day. And I’m sure that my teachers organized some type of Father’s Day arts and crafts lesson, but it’s likely that I shied away from participation. As I’ve grown older, I approach Father’s Day with uncertain trepidation. Some years, I celebrated by purchasing a gift for my mother. Other times I’ve thought about sending my father a card but could never justify doing so. This year, I did neither. No gift for my mother; no thoughts of cards for my father. Ironically, I dreamt of him the night before Father’s Day and figured that was the Universe’s way of saying that he still resides in my emotional blind spot. I’m okay with that.

It’s not that I never knew great fathers. I had a god-father. I had uncles. I had a father-figure in my sister’s father. I knew fathers in the church. I have friends who are fathers. I had a husband who is now a great father to our son and my step-son. But I didn’t have my father, not with any consistency. He was there sometimes. I recall an instance when he came to a basketball game with me. I recall him taking me to eat once. I recall him taking my sister and me to play once. There might be other subdued memories, but the immediate recollections are minimal. So many of the lessons that stereotypically gendered notions of fatherhood would have us believe are taught to children by a male were actually taught to me by a female – my mother. My mother was the one who attempted to scare away the boys and tell me what they really wanted. My mother was the one who taught me the proper questions to ask when taking my car to be serviced. My mother was the one who taught me how to do yard work. And had I gotten married in a traditional ceremony, it would have been my mother to walk me down the aisle. So in my eyes, she deserved those gifts on Father’s Day – and any other day.

Purchasing a gift for my mother on Father’s Day or celebrating her on that day had very little to do with my father’s absence and more to do with her presence. Yet, social media would have us believe that celebrating mothers on Father’s Day – or doing the opposite when applicable – is in some way about discrediting good fathers. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when social media intersects with commercialism and the hurt in emotional blind spots. Celebrating mothers is in no way a denouncement of fathers; similarly, celebrating fathers is in no way a reflection on mothers. Parenting is not a competition and should not be viewed dichotomously.

My initial plan was to avoid my Facebook feed on Father’s Day, but I gave in to the curiosity and scanned my friends’ pages. I was glad to see that there were just as many positive posts about fathers as there were about mothers on Mother’s Day. I smiled at each of the pictures of my friends with their fathers, particularly my female friends with their fathers. (This reminded me that I don’t have any pictures of my father and me when I was a child and only two pictures during adulthood.) I saw very few, if any, “father-bashing” posts. I did, however, see posts reminding women that we could never be fathers because we aren’t men. I saw posts stating that many single-mothers were bitter about the fathers of their children because the relationships ended. I even saw posts stating that the mothers shouldn’t complain about the fathers’ absences because the mothers should have chosen better men to father their children. I saw posts suggesting that the mothers likely were the reasons some fathers are not in the child’s or children’s lives. And most of these posts were by women and liked by women.

Based on individual reality, there could some truth to those posts. However, there’s a lot that could be unpacked within each of those statements. Fatherhood as a gendered concept, the reality of unresolved hurt, and the implication that making choices and maintaining a father’s presence is solely the responsibility of the mother are but a few troubling assumptions that require a more in-depth discussion than could be teased out in a blog. But the understanding of individual realities seemed to be missing from many of the posts. Some women may find the angst of Father’s Day difficult to understand – women who are married/partnered and whose husbands/partners father their children; women who were parented by fathers; women who are no longer married/partnered but whose ex-husbands/partners father their children. While I make no assumption here that all women that fall into these categories are unable to understand the difficulty of Father’s Day for some women who cannot identify with either of the categories, I argue that the individual experience is such that none of us can be the omnipotent social media therapist and jolt women into our version of reality. None of us can force a parent (as in mother or father) or child to forgive. None of us can heal the hurt by subliminally chastising folks in a social media post. None of us can do that. This blog won’t do that.

I have been a mother who was single; yet, I felt that I belonged to a parenting community. I was raised by a community of mostly women, but always respected and understood the need for fathers. I, too, have explored my own unresolved emotions and did the work to get to a point of peaceful indifference (And even the word ‘indifference’ suggests that there is more work to be done.). I don’t resent my father. I don’t resent his absence. I reconciled that I must have been in his parenting blind spot for his own reasons. That is not within my control. However, what is in my control is continuing to do the work to nurture wholeness for myself. I hope that we, as a parenting community will continue to do the same. Let’s resist the urge to keep a parenting tally. Let’s resist the urge to throw mothers and fathers (and all those who exist in the margins of those categories) into the ring to face-off, sparring for points. When we do that, the winner can be contested but the loser is easily identified. Children lose when we concern ourselves with capitalism’s hold on celebrating those who have loved us. Children lose when we fail to do the emotional work. Children lose when we fail to co-parent. Children lose when we isolate mothers and fathers into Westernized sociological norms, when our ancestry of parenting is centered on love and holistic realization of self for the child. Children lose when we become so engulfed in our own stuff that we forget about the children.

I’m always one for bucking tradition. So next year maybe I’ll ignite a celebration for Parents Day or Love Day. Because really…children need parents and love – and neither of those is bound by stereotypes, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, etc.

Karlesha Thurman’s Breastfeeding Is Natural and Normal. Our Reactions Are Not.

I became pregnant with my now 16-year-old son during the summer of 1997. I completed the requirements for my undergraduate degree in English in November of that same year. My son was born in March 5, 1998, and I participated in commencement ceremonies in May 1998. And I was a breastfeeding mother. Prior to the ceremony, I pumped but the longer that I sat in the University of West Alabama’s Tiger Stadium listening to speech after speech, the more uncomfortable I became. Nature had plans all its own. Regardless of the pumping that had taken place prior to the ceremony, my breasts filled with milk and I had no recourse other than to sit there and wait. As soon as the ceremony was over, I quickly grabbed my son to relieve my breasts of the milky tension. I unzipped my gown, pulled the shoulder strap from my dress, threw a blanket over his head and fed him. And I did this all while I smiled with my friends and family. This was not the first or last time that I had to rush to relieve my breasts from the stinging discomfort that results when the milk is ready to nourish a hungry baby. I recall that once I sped home from work hoping my son’s godmother hadn’t fed him because I was seriously in pain. Of course, she had fed him and I had to squeeze my breasts and release the milk into the bathroom sink for some relief.

What I learned from being a young, breastfeeding mother was that no matter how much planning you think you’ve done, the milk and your baby will alter those plans without notice. So yes, I totally understand why Long Beach State University GRADUATE Karlesha Thurman fed her baby at her commencement ceremony. And no, I don’t see thing wrong with it. According to an ABC News blog, Thurman felt the picture was a thoughtful display of mothering [And I agree.] and posted it to the Facebook group Black Women do Breastfeed. The picture quickly went viral. Since then, there has been much written, Tweeted, Facebook’d, and Instagram’d about Thurman’s intentions when the picture was taken and posted. Some claim that she did it for attention, and others suggest she was only doing what mothers do. I contend the latter is more accurate. However, even if she did make a purposeful attempt to feed her baby at the ceremony, breastfeeding a baby is a natural occurrence that we need to stop stigmatizing. Not only was she able to provide food for her baby, but she also helped to get the #NormalizeBreastfeeding message across through her photo.

Breastfeeding

A mother breastfeeding her baby at a commencement ceremony, in the mall, at her home, in the post office is completely normal. Our reactions are not natural and contribute to further alienating mothers who want to breastfeed their children. Thurman noted that when she became pregnant, she thought about leaving school temporarily or permanently. However, she decided to stay in school with hopes of securing a better future for her and her daughter. That’s what her picture represents. Thurman stands in her cap and gown, breastfeeding her daughter with an infectious smile on her face. She accomplished what many of us who’ve juggled motherhood, education, employment – life – have accomplished. Undoubtedly, she knows the anxiety of wondering whether she could do it all. The picture is proof that she did. Her joy and success illuminate from the picture, but the public is only worried about the appropriateness of a breast being visible in public. We’re worried about a breast being used to feed a baby and foster a bond between the mother and daughter. If the appropriateness of the timing of feeding a baby is our most significant concern when we view Thurman’s photo, we don’t have shit else to do with our lives. Let’s stop worrying about this young mother doing what she’s supposed to do for her daughter – be a mother. Period.

What would should do is educate ourselves on the disparities and benefits related to breastfeeding. A report by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) indicated that the percentage of Black women that breastfed their children increased from 47% to 60% from 2000 to 2008. However, “Black infants consistently had the lowest rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration across all study years” (CDC, 2013). We should also be concerned with how breastfeeding benefits infants and mothers. For example, the CDC (2009) noted that breastfeeding lowers an infant’s risk for respiratory and ear infections, Type 2 diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome. Benefits for mothers include lowered risk of breast and ovarian cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Mothers also benefit from a tightened uterus, diminished post-birth bleeding, and suppressed ovulation. We also should celebrate the fact that Thurman is a young mother who’s breastfeeding her daughter as the rates of mothers under the age of 30 that breastfeed their children are significantly low.

Motherhood can be a challenging, daunting, isolating, rewarding, satisfying, loving experience. Continuing to shame mothers for their breastfeeding choices is a practice that we must discontinue. Karlesha Thurman breastfeeding her daughter was natural and normal. It’s our reactions that are not.

#NormalizeBreastfeeding

 

I’m the hippie weirdo who lives in Utopia in my head – and I like it there.

What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can.
— Thomas More, Utopia, Bk. 1. (1516)

How in the world does a Belle from the Deep South have such conflicting sense of self and being? How is it that my life is an oxymoronic collaboration of existing as either/or, neither/or and both/and simultaneously? Like seriously. How can I be just as at home in the country sitting on the porch with a bee-bop to cool the summer’s humidity as I am navigating the streets of New York City or London with my Timbs on or umbrella in tow? How is it that the ritualistic nature of the Southern Belle is deeply ingrained in me; yet, I reject many aspects of how the Belle is personified in the media (See Phaedra Parks’ book.)? How can I love the spirituality of Southern Baptist but cringe at that thought of some of its ‘can’t sit with us’ teachings? Geesh. Just a big ball of peaceful contradictions.

I am, indeed, a hippie weirdo who lives in Utopia in my head – and I like it there.

My Facebook feed keeps me abreast of all the goings on in the world, and the more I read the more I realize that we have issues. Collectively, we have issues. For example, last night I finally had the opportunity to watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion show and shook my head as the drama between Porsha Williams and Kenya Moore unfolded. While everyone talked about how Kenya deserved the hair pull, I viewed the exchange the example of what happens when life’s drama (divorce), a gifted antagonist, and media ratings intersect. That can be a dangerous collision. [Violence makes me uncomfortable] This morning, I read that Governor Nathan Deal will to sign a gun law that will allow licensed gun owners to have their weapons in more public places. So basically, we’re about to be Wild Wild West’n in public places?! Lawd, this Bama Peach is not ready. This shxt cannot be life. But it is. It IS life, and that is crazy as hell to me. And sometimes I just don’t get it.

In January, our home was invaded and my brand new 50+ inch HD-television was stolen. [Now how will I watch Alabama football in the fall? Ugh.] Luckily, no one was home but as a result of the invasion, we beefed up security. From one alarm system to two – complete with cameras – and our killer baby, Zeus. For a moment, it was quite unsettling for me. I don’t do alarms. I don’t do big ferocious dogs. I don’t do guns. But, it seems that the world we live in requires that we do all those things and we’ve come to understand that being on constant guard is peace. Now, how does that make sense? As contradictory as my experiences are as an Eclectic GRITS, even I understand that being in a constant state of fear does not equal peace? Or does it? For me, it does not.

I am, indeed, a hippie weirdo who lives in Utopia in my head – and I like it there.

I’ve always been told that I was ‘different’. When I was younger, I felt a little different and I got older, I realized that the way I thought about and processed situations might be slightly different from some others. I’m not easily angered. I don’t have [or believe in] haters or people being out to get me. I love exponentially – and that usually includes those who others might say are my enemies. I don’t like fighting – either physical or verbal. [But I’m sure I’d get down if I needed to] I take my relationships seriously – that includes my lovers and friends. If I refer to someone as my ‘Sis’, I literally mean that. I don’t cut people off because you’ve wronged me. If you need my help and I’m able to help, I will. Past experiences don’t always matter. I believe in big love [define that however you choose]. I do. Hearts are meant to embrace all the nurturing love they can endure; so why not love deeply? I’m always aware of my surroundings – always. However, I don’t believe that everyone who approaches me needs to be watched like a criminal. I like money. I love for my bills to be paid, but I money doesn’t buy my happiness. I love nature. My thumbs aren’t green, but I’d love to garden and grow my own food. I love the beach. I love watching people be comfortable with their bodies. I love incense and candles and cooking with fresh herbs. Oh, and I love vegetables. Like, I really LOVE vegetables. I could seriously live in a communal area where folks could just be. I believe in the goodness of people. In my head, a person being genuine evil is an anomaly. Evil actions exist but they are usually situational and contextual. Evil people? Not so much.

I’ve been told that I live in Utopia. But what’s wrong with that? My Utopia is a social justice haven where we eat; we’re educated (not schooled); we’re loving/loved; we’re nurturing/nurtured; we’re partnered/married; we’re clothed but not preoccupied with designers or fabrics; we’re spiritual; we’re empowered; we have shelter; we’re communal…family. We’re free. And to me, that IS peace.

So basically…

I am, indeed, a hippie weirdo who lives in Utopia in my head – and I like it there. Ya’ll should come visit me.

Easter Nostalgia

 

Feeling a bit nostalgic
Mentally turning back the clocks
1987 and I’m dressed
In pastel and lace
Patent leather shoes
White Bobby socks
Hair full of curls
Blue Magic did its thang
Mama straightened out my kitchen
And tightened up my bang
Homemade basket
Colored eggs, chocolate bunnies
And a surprise gift, a little money
Church on capacity
Bodies covering the pews
Children’s choir singing loudly
Of God’s good news
🎶 He arose. He arose.
He arroossse from the dead. 🎶
But we were young so
🎶 Hero 🎶 is what we said.
Fidgeting and waiting my turn
Ready bless the mic
Had to be on point
Had to get it right
Practiced my stanzas
Speech of 40 lines
I tried to do 8 but
Mama said, “No child of mine.”
Took the stage
Looked into the crowd
Better not slur my words
Better say it loud
When I’m all done, I curtsy
Fingertips with dress flared
Bouncing back to my seat
Curls falling from my hair
The elders sung hymns
That I didn’t understand
Now I hear those same words
And wave my hands.
Resurrection teachings
Passion from the pulpit
Tambourines, hand-clapping
Dancing with the Holy Spirit
Post-service activities
Goodie bags, Polaroid pictures
Capturing memories
With my cousins and sister
Change into my play clothes
Outside was my freedom
Kick ball and mud pies
Decorated like I’d eat ’em
Then a big family dinner
Stuffing soul food in my mouth
I don’t know how y’all did it…
But this is how we did Easter
in the South.

Happy Easter Everyone! ‪#‎SouthernBelle‬ ‪#‎GRITS‬ ‪#‎Belle‬

106 & Park – August Alsina and Keisha Chante Awkwardness

I don’t watch 106 & Park and haven’t done so since Free and AJ (age-telling), but I read about August Alsina’s comment to host Keisha Chante when she asked about the singer burying of the hatchet between Trey Songz and him (Since when did R&B singers have ‘beef’?). I also watched the clip where Chante stood with Bow Wow and August on either side of her as August snapped, “I told y’all not to ask me that shxt when I got up here.” in reply to her question. She was visibly taken aback and tried to defuse the situation by saying she was only asking what the fans were asking. Awkward. And Uncomfortable.

Admittedly, I don’t know much about this artist (But the Twitters indicates that his recently released album is everything.) or his reported drama with Trey Songz. I also don’t know what discussion was had between the hosts and/or the show’s representatives and the artist prior to him taking the stage. However, I do know that I’ve noticed a number of comments on social media from young folks – young women included – who have suggested Chante ‘got what she was asking for’ . Chile. Chirren. Let me be the ole lady and shed a different light on this.

Young women, you have to be careful about the applauding certain patterns of interaction with young men. So she asked a question that he did not want asked. We don’t know the backstory on that. But what we do know is that his posturing and comment to her, in my ole lady opinion, was not necessary. When we start applauding young men, or anyone for that matter, for speaking disrespectfully to women the door is open for such behavior to continue and elevate.

Sidebar
As I write this, I’m reminded of an exchange I had with a classmate when I was in college. As I walked across the yard, he yelled out, “Hey you…come here chick.” Thinking to myself: I know damn well he isn’t speaking to me. So I continued to walk on my way, and he grew aggravated and continued, “Bitch, I know you hear me talking to you…” Now, this was a guy with whom I had not interacted. All I knew of him is that he was relatively new to campus, a transfer student I think. So after the last comment, I did stop but I didn’t walk over to him. I stood there and stared at him. Thinking he’d at least gotten my attention, he walked over to me with a swagger that let me know he thought he’d accomplished his mission. And yes, he had accomplished the mission of getting my attention, but that wasn’t all he’d done. He disrespected me – publicly, intentionally. He approached me and smiled. Then he started to tell me how he knew I heard him and knew I was just playing hard to get. I simply locked eyes with him and asked, “Do you talk to your Mama like that?” And let’s just say the conversation went to the left and then came back again. During our discussion, he explained that where he was from, that’s just how they spoke. That’s how they talked to girls. And I just explained to him that where I’m from [my Mama’s house], we don’t get down like that. Eventually, we were cool. And so was his newly developed respectful interaction with me.

Young men, you have to be careful about the applauding or quietly dismissing certain patterns of interaction with our young women. Bow Wow… Hmm. Maybe my expectations of respect and chivalry are too high, but I was puzzled that Bow Wow did not make an attempt to ease the tension and/or address August in a professional manner. As I rode home yesterday, two DJs on a local radio show noted that “that’s just how he is” and explained that “if he don’t like you, he don’t like you”. Yes, I get that. We all have our personalities. But that too was dismissive in terms of highlighting Alsina’s lack of professionalism. That situation could have been handled differently.

Conversely, I also noticed several comments from young people – both male and female – who noted that they were disappointed in Alsina’s response. And for that, I’m glad. I’m not at all suggesting that there are not times when the media seem to be too intrusive or cross lines with celebrities. That happens. However, this didn’t seem like that type of situation.

Being on 10 at all times, trying to secure a tough-guy/tough-girl image can be exhausting. Stop. Turn down for what? Hell, because sometimes you just need to… It’s not always that deep.