Not this semester, Satan.

It’s that time of year again, but not for me. Not this semester, Satan.

This first week of having to be on campus only two days out of the week was quite glorious. The financial aid office is still bullshitting with me about my money, but I can’t let these people steal my joy.

I forsee much less stress in my life in the coming months. Less time spent on worrying about school means more time focusing on my workout goals, blog goals, and executing on some very important life goals. Grad school apps are in and now I just have to play the waiting game.

When I look back on being a full time student, I wonder just how I made it through that mine field. I don’t know how to feel about the fact that I’m about to have a degree. I’m kind of indifferent honestly. From my observations, a degree doesn’t seem to mean as much as it used to. Realizing this early freshman year, I really struggled with finding the incentive to continue with it. But what else was I going to do? College was a nice lil ticket out of my mother’s house, a chance to practice being an adult while still having somewhat of a safety net, and an opportunity to meet some dope people who I would’ve never met otherwise because meeting new people is not something I used to do willingly.

Thinking back on my 2017, it wasn’t that terrible. I grew quite a bit. For the most part, I’ve managed to work my way out of my mom’s pockets. I’m independent out here. I grew a backbone. My job has required me to do so. I’ve been at my full time for a year now, and I’ve definitely learned a lot about dealing with people. I work in a restaurant kitchen, which can be quite demanding, but I also don’t hate it.

May 12. Graduation Day. It’ll be here in the blink of an eye. But until then, it’s smooth sailing for this one.

 

Today in Black History

Today in Black History, I honor us.

Yes, yes, y’all. It’s Black History month.

If you’re like me, you got the same vanilla ass explanation of black history that most public schools have locked and loaded for the month of February.

Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, (maybe) Malcolm X, the usual suspects. All of these people were remarkable in their own way, of course. This is not to downplay the people who made their name fighting for Civil Rights.

But Google is well and alive and if you search anyone of those names you’ll probably get a million or so hits with their biographies and activism and speeches and such. So, we won’t rehash that here.

This month, it’s about the beautiful black people that are making history in the here and now. We’ll take a look at what’s happening in film, music, and popular culture. The looks, the lessons, the living examples of black excellence that are making the world a better place a little bit at a time.

Today in Black History we’re blind to the bullshit. This series is for us. Agent Orange and his goons have no place here for the next 28 days.

The goal is to post for all 28 days this month. Every day, we’ll look at the newest latest in black culture. Film, television, music, media, literature, activism – it’s all fair game. Black history is everyday so let’s celebrate.

Grab your tea and a spare moment and join me in a month-long homage to the culture.

 

On Lacking Discretion

A lot of the things that happened this past week is primarily a result of niggas lacking discretion.

I purposely did not watch the Amara LaNegra interview on the Breakfast Club. And y’know….

I tried. I tried to give them their roses and commend them on a job well done in pioneering this urban radio thing and putting in so much time in the game and what have you. But I looked at that thumbnail every single time I logged in to YouTube and could not bring myself to click it. Deep down, I knew some bullshit was afoot.

They broke it down real nice on The Read and confirmed my suspicions. Like I said, I try to give Charlemagne the benefit of the doubt, but anytime the Twitter-verse is buzzing with his name, I know from past experiences to stand clear.

I still have yet to go back and watch it for myself. I don’t make a habit of entertaining ignorance. I was disgusted by what I heard, to say the least. Somebody brought up Cardi B (Envy, I believe), Charlemagne brought up Issa fucking Rae (boy.), and Yee didn’t say a damn thing because she’s lacking in a spine too.

Offset with this damn he “don’t fuck with queers” bit.

We all know what queer means. I use the word to describe myself, but it can also be a slur. Regardless, the fact that Offset’s dusty ass don’t fuck with me and mine doesn’t bother me personally. Of course, this has implications, socially. This nigga is a prime example of other ignorant folks who aren’t aware of words and their definitions. As a writer, it hurts me to see words abused. And then to have such behavior justified on the most ridiculous of grounds is outright insulting.

The answer is no.

Moral of the story: All the migos have been on my list since the first time I heard of them saying some homophobic shit. I really have to take them all with a grain of salt because I do acknowledge that these are individuals of questionable constitution. But my god, bitch, simple media training will teach that it’s best to say nothing when you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

And of course, who can forget our dear Agent Orange?

Then there was the whole “shit hole countries” comment and ensuing debacle. And I’m sure he’s said some more nonsensical things in the past 24 hours.

This is really sick. Like really.

So I pose a question: Has everyone just lost their damn minds? Like what’s really good? As far as progress is concerned, it appears that we tend to take a step forward and take any number of steps backward in half the amount of time.

It’s too many people who should know better who are just lacking in discretion. This is the skill that distinguishes humans from the other animals – the ability to use logic to deduce from any given circumstance what they can do to navigate that situation as seemlessly as possible. And yet…

Breaking the Binary

I read this really dope piece on managing body dysphoria the other day.

In an earlier post, I touched on the topic of my own issues and struggles with dysphoria and expressing my sexuality and gender identity. When I was younger, these problems were definitely more pronounced, but as of late, I feel like I’m coming into myself.

The article gave nine strategies for dealing with those familiar feelings of dysphoria and after reading them, I thought about the ways that I had been practicing some of them without really realizing it.

  • Prioritizing Emotional Self-Care

Creating a good emotional environment for myself has been years in the making. Carefully curating the company I keep, figuring out the things I like to do to occupy my time, and generally making myself a priority.

If I don’t want to go out, I don’t.

If I don’t feel like going to the gym one day, I don’t.

If I’m ever in my feelings about something and I want to drown my sorrows in a dozen donuts, I do.

  • Asserting My Identity

I know my mother hates the way I dress, but frankly, I really don’t give a damn.

Even as a kid, I wanted to dress more masculine but not having complete control over my wardrobe made it difficult for me to do so.

As a teenager, my mother would sometimes prompt me to throw on some make up or do something with my hair or wear a dress.

I’ve neither worn make up, combed my hair, or worn a dress in years and I couldn’t be happier.

  • Expressing Sexuality

I’ve never been one to talk about my sex life. It’s just not my aesthetic. But being grown and independent has done a lot for my sex life. Finally being at a place where I can do what I want, when I want has worked wonders for my confidence.

  • Providing for Health and Wellness

Did I mention I’ve been in the gym? I’ve loved lifting weights for as long as I can remember. I power lifted in high school and my mother, who likes to run marathons in her spare time, taught me the importance of exercising regularly from a young age. But when I got to college, I didn’t exercise as regularly as I did back in high school. There was a student gym on campus but that many people in any size space all sweating and breathing heavy in tandem made my social anxiety flare like it never flared before, so I just avoided it. Not being in the gym or making time to exercise, in general, really took a tole on my mental health. Not only did I physically just feel like shit, I became well acquainted with depression and anxiety and battled suicidal thoughts. The body that I inhabited didn’t feel like mine.

But now I can afford a private gym membership and all is right with the world. Having a regular workout routine gives me a sense of purpose and also helps me feel more in tune and in control of my body.

  • Building Community

Since I’ve stepped into this blogging world and, as a result, increased my usage of social media, I’ve found a lot of folks having the same conversations and thoughts as myself. I’ve found people who I look to for inspiration, knowledge and guidance. Growing up in Mississippi, you can imagine there isn’t much to pull from in my immediate environment, so the internet has really become a second home for me.

  • Making Cultural Connections

Gender is a social construct.  As we develop our sense of gender, we shape ourselves in relation to our cultures. But oftentimes, people of color and others find themselves in a social context that does not represent the cultures that they identify with.

I think there is now an emergence in “LGBT culture,” specifically as it pertains to black folks. The yaaassss-es and the shade-s and the tea-s and the queens: all this new vernacular is a product of black folks in the LGBT community. And of course, mainstream media has done its best to co-opt these terms and erase their origins, but when you do your research, all roads point back to black LGBT community.

Challenging the Binary

My very existence is a challenge to the binary. Even as a kid, I hated doing “girly shit.” In many ways, I suffered from ideas of toxic masculinity passed on to me by the men in my life. (Did I mention I was the only girl of my grandmother’s six grandkids?)

Of course, time has taught me that femininity doesn’t imply weakness in the same way that acting masculinity doesn’t imply dominance. In fact, this is exactly the type of thinking that reinforces the binary.

But when you know better, you do better. For the most part, I’ve come to terms with the idea of gender neutrality and not conforming to traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity and it’s something that I actively practice every single day.

Gimme Five on the Black Hand Side

In honor of Living Single being released on Hulu, I have to take a moment to acknowledge the greatness that is Queen Latifah, in another installment of “Give ‘Em Their Roses.”

I relate to Khadijah James as a writer and and entrepreneur. She was hard working, honest, and had some of the flyest fits out of the cast.

The queen has been doing the damn thing for a loooong time. Bow down, bitches.

We all (should) know that Queen Latifah’s introduction into the entertainment industry was as an MC. She blasted on the scene in ’89 with All Hail the Queen and the rest was history. If you’re talking about the golden age of hip hop and you leave Queen Latifah out of the conversation, just stop talking.

img_0163

In the pantheon of great female MCs, Queen Latifah’s got one of the most distinct voices to ever be pressed into wax. It’s up there with with MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill, and Missy Elliot.

Like a lot of her male counterparts, Queen La took her success in hip hop and parlayed that into an acting career. Most recently, she starred in Girls Trip along with Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Tiffany Haddish, but her catalog goes way back.

Who can forget her performance as Cleo in Set It Off?

Queen Latifah stays booked. From crime thrillers to comedies to dramas to musicals, she’s done it all. One of my favorite performances of hers is from Hairspray as Motormouth Maybelle.

(Perhaps one day, I’ll delve into my love of musical theater)!

Another one of her most compelling performances was in the HBO special, Bessie.

Queen La will forever be one of the GOATs. She’s talented, funny, and that black hasn’t cracked yet. And for that I say…

Giver her her roses.

*Rolls Eyes*

I’m sure y’all have seen the story by now.

H&M UK decided to model a hoodie that read “Coolest monkey in the jungle” on a little black boy. Politics aside, whoever came up with the print ought to be fired because that is the clumsiest sounding phrase to grace an article of clothing – ever. It does not roll off the tongue, it doesn’t even look good. On a very superficial level, the shit ain’t even worth buying. Terrible marketing.

Now, several people took issue with it. Some folks even took the liberty of changing the design on the hoodie in response to the ad being deemed racist.

Racist?

More like tone deaf. One can argue that tone deaf is the new racism but that’s another post.

Racial politics is a global phenomenon, but most of the backlash came from black people in America. Black Americans are generally a bit more conscious of the “dog whistle” terminology (and sometimes just outright racist shit) used by white folks to undermine different aspects of the black experience.

Monkey, tar baby, pickaninny, allat.

This isn’t to say that race doesn’t exist in the UK, but perhaps we can concede that the dynamics of racial politics are slightly different there. This obviously went through a lot of hands before it made it to the final ad and it’s just hard for me to believe that all those people had malice in their heart. Perhaps

Perhaps

Perhaps

The potential problems that could come of the logo were simply lost on them.

Or maybe this is me trying to make the world not seem like such a shitty place.

What y’all think?

 

Books Are Silent Films

I read somewhere that successful people read a lot. There were real numbers in that stat but the numbers aren’t important here.

I was a library assistant in high school. And I know “niggas don’t read” is a nasty stereotype but them niggas really didn’t read. And it wasn’t even like we had a shitty library like you would expect of a public school. Our shit was stocked, but there were hardly ever any books for me to re-shelve so I had a lot of free time that period. What is one to do when surrounded by shelves of books and periodicals? Read them shits.

I was a nerdy bitch. I wasn’t popular, wasn’t cool, we’ve been over this but you better believe nobody could see me on those Accelerated Reading tests. You read a book, you take a test, and depending on how many points you accumulated, you could cash them in at the AR store. Now this was elementary school, and I was cashing those points in for Pixie Sticks and Airheads but it’s the principle, dammit.

Reading and reward.

Without further ado, these are some of the most influential books that I’ve ever read.

  • Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This novel is as entertaining as it is insightful. It tells the story of a Nigerian immigrant woman, Ifemelu, who comes to America for university. Throughout her time in America, Ifemelu blogs about her experiences in America and the conundrums that that brings with it. Race, hair, and identity are the core issues of the novel. Adichie paints an honest picture of 21st century America.

  • Siddhartha, Herman Hesse

Sound familiar? Siddhartha Gautama: the person credited with inventing Buddhism.

Well, this is a fictional account of young Siddhartha’s journey from wandering ascetic to becoming the Buddha. It’s a story of self discovery. Very existential and all that.

I read this in high school and I’m definitely going to find a way to get my hands on it again, soon.

  • 1984, George Orwell

A wise individual once said, “The world is turning more and more into a George Orwell novel.”

Oh that was me? Bet.

This is the novel I was talking about. I’ve always had a sweet spot for dystopian literature and I don’t know of too many writers who do it better than Orwell.

The funny thing about this novel is that he thought this world would’ve reverted to a dystopic state by the year 1984. He was a few decades off the mark but he made his point.

  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens (People), Sean Covey

I remember this got assigned for a summer reading project in middle school. I’ve had my copy for years and I often go back to it as a reference.

Even though it is a success guide for teenagers, Sean’s father, wrote a similar book geared towards adults but the information is essentially the same.

  • The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin

Baldwin’s writing style is so powerful it’s almost arousing. That sharp tongue taken to paper resulted in a gripping page turner on race in America.

The first time I read this was my sophomore year of college. The Black Lives Matter movement had reached a rolling boil at that point. It was around the time of Eric Garner’s murder and as a result, the weight of the present moment was heavy on my mind as I read.

After I read this I just had to take a moment to process the bomb that Baldwin dropped on my head top.

  • Start with Why, Simon Sinek

This book changed my life. I read it late last year to get my mind right for the new year. When people talk about setting goals and starting new ventures, the concept of starting with why is key.

Why? Why do you want certain things? Why did you set that goal for yourself?

If you’re trying to put your life goals into perspective, this is a must read.

He’s given many talks on his book at one conference or another. He is as much a great speaker as he is a writer.

Moral of the story: Read a book. You might get something out of it.

This College Life Ain’t Been No Crystal Stair

I’ve had body issues my entire life really. Dare I even say: dysphoria. I’ve always been a thickum and I’ve always had to be conscious of the things I eat so as not to gain any unnecessary weight. Not to mention, much of your social stock as a teenager is determined by how you look. So all through middle and high school, I worked hard to maintain a size 10/12. It wasn’t where I wanted to be but I had no choice but to work with what I had. It didn’t help that I wore uniforms all k-12, the epitome of unflattering.

Most of the girls found ways to dress it up. That colorful, plastic hair store jewelry was really popular in middle school and bitches used to come to school with those annoying ass bangles all the way up their arms. That was also around the time where the other girls started playing in make up and doing their own hair. Of course, as time went on, clothes got tighter and hair and makeup got more competitive. I still couldn’t keep up.

So, when I got to college I decided I would attempt to reinvent myself.

  1. By cutting all my hair off and going natural
  2. Dressing how I wanted

It was a new chapter in my life and I was trying to cast off the insecurities of middle and high school.

But college proved to be nothing but a recurring nightmare of broke-ness and anxiety. I had always been very much an introvert and being in places with a lot of people was not my cup of tea. I hated going to the campus gym because it was always packed and smelled like feet. And that cafeteria food is not the most nutritious. And of course, you can’t eat healthy when you’re broke.

In all my years, I feel like I’m finally getting to a place where I can start working towards being the person I wanted to be back in middle school. I’ve had a gym membership of my own for a few months now because I’m willing to pay money in order to avoid the risk of social interaction while I’m working out. I pay rent for a home that has an amazing kitchen where I actually have room to prepare health(ier) meals for myself.

Long story short: I feel like this is the most control I’ve had over my life and destiny in my entire life.

Personally, I’ve always thought new year’s resolutions were a bit disingenuous. But I’ve set some new goals for myself to achieve as we move in to month two of 2018. I’m tightening up on you hoes. My hair is flourishing, my wardrobe, my health. In hindsight, these college years, I was really scraping the bottom of the barrel so the way I see it, there’s nowhere to go but up.

Black Twitter Strikes Again

The new year brings new energy to the Twitter-verse.

The hashtag Black Hogwarts surfaced earlier this week and what’s come of it has been nothing short of gold.

K-12, I was one of maybe five black kids who had read the Harry Potter series in its entirety and seen all the movies. I really have strong attachments to the books I read as an adolescent. I can associate specific memories with books and the Harry Potter series came to me right as puberty was rearing its ugly head.

Personally, Hermione was my favorite. In hind sight, I definitely had a crush on her – the character that I’d envisioned in my head as well as Emma Watson. But there were also a lot of valuable lessons that I gleaned from that series that helped me see past the bullshit that was middle school.

Some rules need to be broken. Never trust niggas in cloaks. Beware of niggas that’s hating for no reason. It’s usually better to be the bigger person. Sometimes it really be your own people. Believe in your damn self.

All lessons from a children’s novel. Verbatim.

I tip my hat to you once again, internet. Zingers fly fast here.

Everybody Black #3

The Image Awards happened on MLK day and everybody deserved everything. Lady Ava, entertainer of the year.

img_0140

I stan down for her. I’d go as far to say that on my personal list of female icons, she tops Beyonce. I’ve followed her career from jump and I feel like I’m winning with her every step.

Get Out finally got its just due. The Golden Globes egregiously left Get Out out in the cold, taking only Best Actor. Daniel K. did a spectacular job, but the genius of the movie was in its writing, its perspective. Creating a compelling concept movie is an art and Jordan Peele pulled it off beautifully.

I dote over Black-ish quite a bit. This season has really been on ten. I love watching those babies grow. I don’t know who’s responsible for the character of Diane, but they deserve all the awards. Marsai Martin was sitting with the big girls and even got honored with Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy. The character of Rainbow grows on me with every episode. Queen Tracie took home Outstanding Actress.

Lastly, I don’t think I ever gave Girls Trip proper stock in the ethnic hair section.

This movie was damn funny, first and foremost. And out of it comes Tiffany Haddish. I like her. She’s got charisma. She’s certainly worked from time to get where she’s at. Respect.

The Image Awards has been picking up steam for a few years now. The explosion of social justice activity, creators of color, and black Twitter have all been instrumental in uncovering the up-and-coming voices of the culture. And the Image Awards allows those voices to be celebrated in a real way.

Honestly, anybody nominated could’ve won and I would be equally happy with the turn out.

It’s fitting that the ceremony is held on MLK day. The Image Awards exemplifies the dream. The Image Awards keeps the dream alive and pushes the dream forward.

Ain’t it crazy how magical black people are.