in the work of both Issa Rae & Solange, i see nothing but ‘authentic Black woman in her powerful, beautiful way’, unique stories that not every one can even kinda tell.
i found myself searching for answers to experiences similar to theirs that left stains on my own memory & burn marks on my flesh. artists like them really matter to my soul. they help me to take care of myself & to offer that love to others. they represent the parts of many that are constantly ridiculed, but never explored.
they represent the us that they don’t want us to vindicate & comfort, and that they indeed includes some of US, too.
Issa’s narrative on the HBO hit series, Insecure, continues to resonate, daring me to be the one that they didn’t want to see come around the corner. i’m not gonna spoil the show for y’all. i never find comfort in doing so soon after a show comes out. but it took me down some roads that I didn’t want to endure through the humors of suffering & passion.
i wanted to become more of what i knew i could be after binge-watching such a real experience that i can’t see anyone challenging for its authenticity. it constantly makes me think of white people i’ve encountered who tried to vilify my or other Black people’s experiences with racism, making us out to be paranoid with these supposed isolated situations. that’s why representation matters to me. you never know who is watching & how it will impact their life because so many people try to do everything but acknowledge your struggle as a defense for their ignorance. having this entailed in a Black woman’s experience on HBO made my life because I found myself constantly saying ‘damn I was there before’ or ‘wow! I could only imagine…’ race, love, Blackness, womanness.. my God I just can’t do it all justice here.
Solange & Issa have my heart as they express experiences through their own lens, capturing not just one, but many episodes in three or thirty minutes. awkwardly, in our own little ways we come to be who we are meant. to see that process in bits among them does not make me question why Solange is the music consultant for Insecure.
i take pride in the work that i do though sometimes it pains me. i wish they didn’t touch my hair when they don’t even want to consider why i take it so seriously. it’s more than people will ever understand as Solo tells the world.
i’ve loved & hurt all the same. i explore this in my poetry series, The Words That Make Me.
my fiancé notices similarities & blurts them out when we watch shows like it together or listen to certain music. i never questioned these comparisons like those from others who didn’t know me.
their stories, or at least the bits that i think we know, have echoed in the ears of many. digest this Black woman magic because it is here to stay. It is reality. It is hurtful. but it is.
i’m glad I took a look again in that mirror yet again.
this is why I am excited for 2017 though I am terrified as my journey in communications continues. knowing & sulking in the fact that some people will never try to understand me cannot be a part of this journey any longer.
like I tell myself we can cower or fight the fight we keep on running from.
i can’t wait to see what the cast does next in Season 2 though, y’all. please watch the first. way more than worth it.
But I had to do it. I had to take a seat because I got tired of pretending to want those things that others wanted so badly for me. Got tired of taking advice from those who don’t know what it takes to get where i’m headed but can seem to criticize the route i drew out.
I’ve ‘made it’ by taking risks for myself by the grace & power of Black feminine magic. I needed to explore those parts of me that i neglected, to quench my thirst for freedom in struggle.
there it was.
all in me.
all in my strides.
I have a Black woman body, a love for Black culture and an a disdain for anything that tries to stunt it.
Solo painted her experience, broke down her feelings by offering us a piece of herself, creating something for us. to be Black can deprive people of the life they deserve. that is fact. that can manifest in so many ways through failures & successes. to be awkward & Black may bring on some unwarranted negativity among beautiful aspects. being Black, a woman & awkward guarantees all of that.
Solo’s music struck me. it made me get real with myself.
to have a Black woman express such rawness with creative genius coming from all angles with legends throughout, complementing gold.
Issa’s creation made me laugh/cry at mine & her pain while trying to figure it all out.
i wanted to be free that morning before i started the prefect retreat in boarding school. standing that mirror with my afro out to wear outside for the first time in that state, a wash-&-go. i was terrified.
my mama refused to let me get a perm because she thought it was beautiful, but still somehow it was too dry. somehow family made it seem as if i needed a perm on the other side of it.
to be told to be grateful for the Black in me but being told on the other hand that I was ‘getting too dark’ at track practice made me wonder, what the hell does that even mean?
as I continue my journey, I hope to get closer to myself & others who want to build in Blackness.
finding beauty in us is my favorite pastime.
fighting in the name of our Blackness is just the love that pours out of my heart for our people.
seeing people come into their confidence and their glow is power & uplifting.
riding on that wave to self-love, unity & freedom?
- U.S./Georgia House & Senate seats are up for grabs.
- Commissioners, sheriffs, district attorneys, etc. will be elected.
- Some important amendments are on the ballot such as a resolution that could allow the state to control our public schools, the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund and the Judicial Qualifications Commission among others.
- There is a special election section that addresses City of Atlanta Transportation-Special Purpose Local Option Sales and Use Tax Referendum and a MARTA Sales and Use Tax Referendum.
- You should be exercising your right to vote in every election.
I can only speak on issues that are happening in Atlanta because I have spent most time in particular communities as far as living & organizing are concerned. But there is a particular amendment on the ballot that all Georgia voters must pay close attention to that involves Governor Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District proposal. Take a look at the wording in this particular document, “…rescue children languishing in them.” Take it as you may, but notice these schools that are “eligible for Opportunity School District” (OSD) as of May 3, 2016.
I believe that all of this ties into displacement, another way to make it impossible for our kids to stay within their communities just to go to school. Another way for our children to learn to depend on outside sources to survive, teaching them how to flee from home because there is so much wrong in it. Today our kids’ education is all tied up in this as a result of the continuing cycle that passes displacement & disparity from generation to generation.
I have been trying to get some organizations to speak to me about their opinions on gentrification and race in the city of Atlanta, but of course they do not want to go on the record about it. I have organized with those that know & recognize the detriments of its effects. I have realized more how important race, poverty, & education are to some of our policymakers.
OSDs are not necessarily good for schools in our existing communities because they are at risk of being closed. Take a look at that list of schools from above again. The argument is that we have too many schools, but then look at where a lot of schools have been closed.
This proposal to ‘better schools’ is just another expression & assertion of the people who know that this will do everything except benefit the students who are displaced. All of that is intertwined in the language you see used on your ballot. School closings aren’t good in this case because more than likely those students who are forced to change schools will likely go to a school that performs on the same level as the ‘failing school’ that had to be shut down. How is this helping them?
Where do you think these failing schools are? They likely aren’t in the affluent neighborhoods where the police are sure to patrol.
It sounds good to fix something that is failing. That’s why these words are used on the ballot.
Vote NO for Amendment 1.
I have to keep on reminding people of what we experience as a people & how none of this is by coincidence. Understand that this is a part of the intertwined nature of oppression. Atlanta is seen as a beacon with Black leaders & movers & shakers, but when will there be accountability held for a city that is crumbling right before everyone’s eyes while stadiums are being built & management of street cars don’t matter even though it costs taxpayers money.
There is no simple fix to any of this, but engage now to learn more to prepare for later so that you can be better equipped to affect change.
Take a look at home now, whenever I go back & see there are more abandoned homes, less life but still some hope somehow.
it’s not that Black people just all of a sudden changed and began to live up to the vicious stereotypes that run rampant through the minds of non-Black people.
it’s not that we have become superhuman & want revenge for oppression, turning into an animal to attempt to subdue the officer that drew their weapon, killing us for no reason. our pain is underestimated. we are literally treated as if we can take more pain than anyone else. that trickles into our community, into our treatment of each other. (check out this study of racial bias in others perceptions of our pain in that link.)
it’s not that Black people are cool with a Black person killing another Black person or that white people care about the actual Black individuals killed by others when they use the ‘black-on-black crime’ argument.
we need to hold ourselves accountable but understanding our place in this fight is key.
we take a breath, & that seems to be too much for the world. we need to first stop apologizing for breathing.
we question our physical features. we live under the impression that we have to undermine our capabilities & hide our identity just to survive. that comes from somewhere. I don’t understand how people leave this part out. history. it’s not like we can erase it. we can fool the world, but we can’t change history.
that is the danger of white supremacy. the only reason that racists care about crime in Black communities is because that means that there are more numbers, statistics that they can depend on. there is a disproportionate amount of Black people in jail so there is this assumption that the stereotype that we are violent is justified. the reason that we are in prisons is not because we are violent. take a look at the offenses, the injustice. I shouldn’t have to explain that some people belong in jail for you to know that racism prevails in the prison system. I’m sure that deserving criminals were jailed when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was brought in handcuffs.
there is a chance that Opportunity School Districts will be legal, & gentrification will come in full sweep in Atlanta. it is the fact that children and their parents along with other family members can be poisoned & no one be held accountable. it is the fact that we can be gunned down, mutilated, harassed, assaulted & brutalized for no reason, but no one bats an eye.
the history of this country & the residuals of slavery continue to affect the mental & physical beings of this group of people. I am tired of it being swept under the rug.
people have tried to invalidate my attacks against the system, asking me if I have ever been discriminated against or called a racial slur. professors, teachers, peers. I have been questioned about my hair routines & mocked for my wholeness as a Black woman.
I have been in the shoes of some who have been discriminated against, but those that I have not should not be treated as isolated cases. racism does not have this formula. it morphs with the times. it’s like we are still ruled on plantations through housing discrimination & displacement, & the people that decide what happens to us see themselves as our rulers.
the issue lies in what remains true: white supremacy lives on.
I wonder why people can continue to abuse us & let our deaths be the backdrop of reality. we are not a subset that needs to be corraled only during election season. we are not people who need to live in food deserts. for example, look at this website to see where some of these food deserts exist in Atlanta.
the reason why we remain so unorganized but so loud is because we know what it’s like being Black despite regional limitations & cultural backgrounds. we understand the boundaries that are set for us in white spaces & the internalization of our self-hatred. a lot of us remain hopeful, but cynical. we find reasons to live even though life gives us reasons to die including walking home from buying Skittles and Arizona tea.
the world talks around Black issues & issues of people of color & saves headlines for when we get tired & scream in the streets. when we exercise our power is when white supremacists create political fronts to delegitimize the crowds that gather in protest or the scholar that refuses to analyze texts through a western lens.
the victims of police brutality and the victims of crime in Black communities are being exploited by white supremacists alike. the two perspectives line up to carry this distinctive, dangerous message that Black life does not matter, & (supposedly) Black people don’t care about Black life either.
we care about each other, but just like we accept what happens to us at the hands of police, we accept what happens in the streets because that is life for us.
African Americans make up 40% of the homeless population in America. This source, The National Alliance on Mental Illness, also includes resources for mental health services & information pertaining to the reality of mental health in the Black community. We are 20% more likely than the general population to experience issues with mental health.
Look at the stories of Tanisha Anderson, Yvette Smith, Miriam Carey, Shelly Frey, Darnisha Harris, Malissa Williams, Alesia Thomas, Shantel Davis, Rekia Boyd, Shereese Francis, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tarika Wilson, Kathryn Johnston, Alberta Spruill, Kendra James on Huffington Post and do your homework!
I heard the gunshots in the officer involved shooting that were fired that killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta. My grandmother & I ducked on the floor when we heard the shots. She recalled that it sounded like Bonnie & Clyde were having a shootout. Later we saw what happened on the news. I remember writing to the city council about how the officers were not held accountable for the slaying of Ms. Johnston. They planted drugs at her home & tried to frame her after serving a warrant at the wrong home. They did not serve heavy sentences. Therefore, I feel that no accountability was held.
What happened to Kendrick Johnson in Valdosta? A young brother does not just so happen to end up in a mat with bruises & evidence of forced trauma.
Why has Michael Duncan not been convicted of actually killing Jordan Davis in Florida even though he is serving a life sentence. That is not justice. I spoke with his mother about this, & she let me know what she feels that I need to do personally.
Why is George Zimmerman still free?
Why is no one in Flint, Michigan in jail for poisoning a community?
Why is slavery still legal under the 13th amendment?
now… let’s keep going.
let’s be real.
no major media outlets report when Black women go missing. no major media outlets cover heinous crimes in our communities to create this national outrage that everyone believes we should have as we do for cases of police brutality. no major coverage of events such as protests & vigils exists so that America can see that we are not complacent with our own deaths.
they can cover reality shows like Donald Trump’s presidency, but the real news never receives due & equal attention. cases of police brutality that make it to major media outlets are usually met with condemnations of the oppressed. in protest & in the framing of the stories of these unjust killings, you see this rejection of Black pain. it is deemed invalid by analysts & policymakers.
people impose thoughts & shut out the fact that these are not isolated instances. people are still killed just because they are Black. Ida B. Wells kept up with that record & now we are having to mentally keep up with the names & narratives.
we are being murdered. take the statement as you may. it is awful. dismissiveness on any front is counterproductive, racist & vicious. it & money are the reasons why force & protest work, but don’t.
the pervasiveness & subtly, blatant overcasts of white male privilege create this protection of racial anarchists & terrorists that continue to invade the space of Black people. we are forced into these confined spaces where we have to dance around egos, cultures, comforts, ignorance, & learned hatred. we have to cater to the needs of people outside so that if we choose, we can support what happens in the places that we came from.
we let the wills of others drive our reason for living. our mental health is not a priority. we shout in the streets with illness & unconsciousness that is deadly to the soul & the community.
the modernization of white supremacy is the reason why I mean it when I say don’t touch my hair. in high school I decided to wear my hair naturally with my afro all picked out. I attended a predominantly white boarding school where I found that some people would be distant from me for reasons unknown or whatever you want to call it. but all of a sudden, when I decide to wear my fro, people wanted to grab my attention just to touch my crown, people I never associated with (people who let me know that they did not respect me as young Black lady with no apologies for my criticism of the system).
but most importantly, the people who weren’t there to defend themselves in classes or at lunch tables with me were why I stayed. I knew that I owed it to my people & to my potential to stay in an environment that challenged me with micro-aggressions that even some of my peers who identified as Black at this institution strongly disagreed with.
we cannot let our narrative continue to be shaped by those that hold the systematic forces in their hands to an extent.
we have to call out the people who allow us to be displaced across the place. it’s not just happening in one city, town or state. it is happening all over the country. we must realize how important it is to stay disciplined when we talk about solidarity across state lines. we stand up when we are killed by them especially when we know it was for no reason when the videos come out.
now we may not see these videos anymore. another legislative move that is touching down in some states or will soon. 19 states are included on the list including: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada (state has another law for state Highway Patrol Division), New Hampshire, North Carolina (effective October 1, 2016), North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington.
Other states have proposed this legislation. apparently it is to preserve the rights of the families, officers, etc. a police officer is a public servant expected to uphold & treat citizens with rights who are under apprehension. if they act outside of this resulting in the loss of life, the public should have access to this. we usually don’t see anyone charged until videos are turned over to sources or it is captured on Facebook Live.
That is why this is so important. We must act to exercise our rights but break some rules beginning with shattering our silence.
I began a series on natural hair where I asked Black women to give their testimonies as freely as they desired. Here are the first few. Comment your feelings. Share you thoughts:
1.“My mother made me get a perm when I was in first grade. Yes, you read that correctly. From then up until senior year of high school I maintained shoulder length hair that had a nice thickness to it. Freshman year of college I started wearing weaves and one day that year I used a box perm on my hair and half of my hair fell out, I was devastated. But I continued to wear weave for about 4 more years. Then two summers ago, I just decided to shave it all off and start fresh. I grew it out, shaved it again last December and decided to let it grow out since then. My hair is flourishing so much and I can’t keep my hands out of it because of how thick it is. I am wearing protective styles but no weaves, just braids and twists. It took a while to embrace my natural hair because weave and perm was all I knew but once I did, I didn’t look back.”
2.“Well it started for me when my mom told me that she was going natural. She shaved her head and come home one day and said “I finally did it!” I was honestly mad at that she did it but she’s never looked more beautiful than she did with a buzz cut. Then her hair started growing and watching her go through that whole process made me want to go natural. I transitioned until I was ok with the length and then I cut off the permed ends. My mom has been natural going on 1 year and a half and I’ve only been natural for 10 months and it’s honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself.”
3.“My mom is Puerto Rican but she has European features (she got type 2 hair) and my father is black so I was granted with type 4a hair. She didn’t know what to do with it, so I got a perm in the fifth grad. I kept straightening it everyday because the other girls made fun of me for how thick my hair was. My hair smelled burnt and it wouldn’t curl up when it got wet.
It wasn’t until Junior year of high school where I realized my black is beautiful and I started getting box braids and sew ins. And now its back to it’s natural curl pattern and it stretches to my shoulders.”
it’s something we struggle with all of the time, trying to figure out how to live how we’ve always dreamed.
being more confident in others’ perceptions of what is best for you than your own will lead you to confusion. know that you have the power and the will to be who you want to be.
you have to make the decisions, and you also have to live with them. ultimately, you have to take the risk of being misunderstood. when your success is reflected in the steps that you choose to take to best fulfill your needs spiritually & financially that will be the moment where doubters will flock.
some of those closest to us believe that they know what steps we MUST take. no matter who it is, they ultimately don’t unless you really explain if you care to do so. if they refuse to really listen to you and consider your dreams before blurting out their suggestions, you need to reevaluate the role that they will play in your life.
the energy of those around you affects you like no other.
don’t hold back on living just because negativity lurks through personalities.
become more confident in yourself, realize your talents & work on them. plan, execute & plan some more.
Here are a few tips I want to leave you with:
1. Stay true to yourself & love on yourself more than anyone ever could.
2. Treat everyone with respect, & show your gratitude to those who help you along this journey. It will get you very far.
3. Take care of yourself mentally, physically & emotionally.
4. Love those who love you & those who don’t.
5. Live. Have fun. Take time for yourself & know that you will make mistakes. But tomorrow always follows yesterday.
6. Eliminate negative people & negative energy. It wears you down.
7.Surround yourself with positivity whether it be affirmations, routines that make you happy, etc.
8. Be humble.
9. TRY! Don’t worry about naysayers. This is your life. Choose your happiness. It’s ok to be selfish sometimes.
10. Give it your ALL.
there’s a whole lot out here in this world for us all. it would be a disservice to you to short-change & dupe yourself out of the beautiful life that you see.
go out there and take it.
The producers at CNN decided that it was a good idea to interview one of Alton Sterling’s family members after the shooting deaths of three Baton Rouge police officers. The sequence in which the interview came during live coverage of this breaking news astounded and disgusted me. The issue that immediately should be addressed is the framing of this entire ‘story.’
While Fox News quickly blamed the Black Lives Matter organization for these killings, CNN responded by showing a clip of Alton Sterling’s aunt, Veda Washington-Abusaleh, condemning the shootings. I wonder why they would follow with a soundbite from her in the midst of all of the grief that she is experiencing.
Alton Sterling’s funeral happened Friday, July 15th. This shooting came the following Sunday. Her emotions are still raw. Leave her alone. Her nephew was just murdered by Baton Rouge Police. Yet, her feelings do not matter more than the ‘story’ here.
It is only when it is for the benefit of the ‘storyteller’ or the oppressive force that the Black woman’s voice is important in mainstream media. She can tell her story or make her point at the expense of being drowned out by other situations deemed more pressing at the moment.
When a black person is shot, no matter the circumstance American media news outlets seem to take the side of officers and ask questions later. It is as if there is an agenda to condemn Black people when officers are shot before the identity of suspects are announced.
In the middle of all of this is grieving mothers, wives, sisters and Black women around the nation. Sybrina Fulton, Lesley McSpadden, Gwen Carr, Lucia McBath, Geneva Reed-Veal. Look them up. They are mothers of some of the slain who did not receive justice after their loved ones did not make it home for the most obscure reasons.
Tanisha Anderson, Sandra Bland, Kathryn Johnston, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Miriam Carey, Kendra James, Darnisha Harris, Yvette Smith, Rekia Boyd. Those are the names of some of the women and girls taken away from their families due to police brutality. Know their stories, too.
The neglect of the grieving Black woman and the slain or the kidnapped Black woman continues to be a prevalent issue that does not surface in mainstream media. Instead, you have them answering questions about remorse for their family members’ killers while they attempt to overcome this hate that exists.
I understand that both situations of Alton Sterling’s murder and the slaying of three officers occurred in the same area. Sterling’s aunt may well have known the officers killed, but reaching out to this woman connects the stories in ways I feel uncomfortable associating with one another.
The Black woman should not be apologizing for what is happening to her family. She should not be blamed for her own mistreatment as we saw with Sandra Bland. She should not be silenced and ignored like some of the women of color who were killed toward the end of June.
No national media coverage. Barely any attention on social media. Not nearly as much money raised for their families to bury them and take care of their children.
A sticky situation it is since we have been dealing with the defilement of the Black female body for centuries now. No consequences for those who commit crimes against them. No true indictment even by the public court.
The social climate of the United States of America remains volatile, but consistent with history with varying extremities.
It is not until white people are killed that someone be targeted for a heinous crime they committed. It is not until Black people are hurting and ‘retaliate’ by protesting that the world wants to point a finger. It is not until Black people stand up for themselves that domestic terrorists exist.
The choice that producers made in the newsroom at the CNN headquarters suggests that they did not consider the pain of Veda Washington-Abusaleh.
The fact that they chose to plaster her image and her cries, her pleas in the middle of the shootings of police officers that took place no time after Alton Sterling’s death or his funeral is a slap in the face.
our babies’ limbs lay
in the fields of explosive nature,
with tidings of blood & black,
white signifying the ties
between red & blue,
ready for battle & breakdowns,
with colors shaping
so much in
our lives on the
green & white keeps them
far away from
yet and still,
we maintain what we came
with from the east.
that’s why the color
purple is one of sorrow
& royalty, of painful
it’s so beautiful,
but so painful to be Black.
red, white & blue
colors, the scheme of the
wallpaper that inevitably
from sea to shining sea.
we drown in this scam
of bodied water that made
we use our bodies to
adorn & shield our
spirits from what we
the confrontation with
being a problem
& tackling what we
think is the problem,
sometimes we turn on
ourselves in this confusion,
wondering what we did
to deserve such treatment,
referencing our self-hate
as the reason.
sometimes we drown in
who or what threw us
but when will we realize
that the farther we
get from the cotton fields,
the closer we get to the
we will see that
they are one in the same.
the black is
smog will be seen in the
plantation mansions on
the other side of the
the grass won’t