#100: A Weekend For the Books

#100: A Weekend For the Books

Even with only 2 classes this semester, I’m just exhausted. It’s like no matter how much I think I’m eliminating from my plate, it somehow manages to fill itself back up almost instantly.

We last spoke at the end of February and since then a lots been going on. As I type this, I’m flying 3000 feet in the air back to Memphis from DC after a weekend with my best friend, Reuben. As avid listeners of…

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What Black Panther Means to Me

Today in Black History, I would be remise without acknowledging the release of Black Panther.

When I saw the photos from the Black Panther premiere, I knew right then and there that the cast and crew of Black Panther was readying themselves to take aim at our necks.

Everyone looked stunning. Just regal. Black excellence.

I overheard a coworker gripping the other day over the fact that all these people were going to see Black Panther who weren’t true fans of the Marvel universe. I rolled my eyes. He’s a white, if you couldn’t tell already… He’s one of those “you can’t wear the shirt if you’re not a fan of the band” type bitches.

To my coworker and anyone else harboring a similar sentiment, this is bigger than your little childish fandom, bitch. Get over yourself or go choke.

I realize that some folks might not grasp the immensity of the occasion, so let me break it down.

First of all, for all the white supremacists talking about how this is some nigger shit and how the Black Panther is some black power propaganda: the character of the Black Panther was introduced in the Marvel comics before the Black Panther Party was formed. With this in mind, we can then conclude that Stan Lee simply thought the Black Panther would be a cool character to add to his comic universe.

While it is a revolutionary thought that an entire African country could exist completely outside of the reality of European colonization and that because of this, they are more technologically and socially advanced, but at the end of the day, Wakanda is fictional. (But oh, can’t we dream?)

Second, the fact that this movie is directed by a black man and features an all black cast is monumental when you consider the discussion about diversity in Hollywood.

Side note on the director, Ryan Coogler

Mr. Coogler’s been working for a long time. His first film, Fruitvale Station, made him an indie darling, taking home the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance as well as international acclaim, winning the Avenir Prize at Cannes. He also directed Creed as well as a few other short films.

The #oscarssowhite thing brought the issue of diversity to public consciousness a few years ago, but just because it’s not trending anymore doesn’t mean the work has stop nor that the problem has been solved. Ryan Coogler, along with other filmmakers such as Ava DuVernay, have been out here championing the cause to make Hollywood a not-so-white place.

In theory, this movie should’ve been made. However, I doubt it would’ve been carried out on such a grand scale. There was no Ryan Coogler to direct it (or an Ava DuVernay, who was approached for the project first) and up until recently only a handful of black actors were even getting booked for roles. And the ones who were damn sure weren’t getting booked for Marvel movies. Don’t make me break out the receipts.

As the release date draws near, the girls are readying their hearts and minds to receive something that is way past due.

White people can honestly get over themselves and shut the fuck up.

This movie is not inherently political, but the conditions that even make this movie a possibility are. The fact that the thought of “Maybe somebody black should direct this” actually went through someone’s head is revolutionary. The fact that Marvel didn’t just cast some random white people and white wash this story is revolutionary because we know its been done in the past with no after thought.

If you really wanna know why black folks are going all the way up for this movie, it’s because this is a celebration of us. This beautiful cast is all shades, shapes, and sizes of black. This movie will affirm for so many young black kids that they too can be extraordinary and that they too have the potential to be a superhero.

Not to mention, the soundtrack is produced, at least in part by Top Dawg Entertainment, which…

Honestly, I’ve been burnt out on Marvel movies for a while now. After the Avengers 12 and Iron Man 23, I started to wonder how much more shit these hoes could blow up and smash and destroy with reckless abandon. And for what? (Yeah, yeah, to save the world or whatever)

But best believe,I will be present and accounted for for Black Panther.

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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.

Happy Kwanzaa, Y’all 12.27.17

Habari gani? Kujichagulia.

Self determination.

To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.

I’ve really been thinking about the fact that I actually maintained a blog for a whole year a lot. Like that’s really my main accomplishment this year, besides finishing college and all. I hold it higher than graduating, actually. I’m genuinely proud of this.

All accomplishments are attributable to some amount of self-determination.

In 2018, I plan to take this blogging thing full throttle. I like what I’ve got going here. Barring some consistency, I think this year has been a success on the ethnic hair section. This year has had no shortage of inspiration.

I blog about a lot of my favorite people making shit happen: Issa Rae, Chance the Rapper, Ava DuVernay, Justin Simion, Michaela Coel, Lena Waithe, Donald Glover, The Migos, and Drake. They’ve shown me that where I want to go is a real place. It just takes a whole helluva lot of work to get there. But work don’t scare me.

Challenge mfn accepted.

Kujichagulia means self-determination.

And I’m determined to shake some shit up some way, some how.

Brain on Drugs #4

I lied about not smoking weed.

Sorry not sorry.

2017 is out this bitch. Not officially, but honestly, the last four months of every year generally fly by in a gust of classes, stress, bills, and credit card debt. So in my mind, this shit is basically over.

That’s not to say shit still can’t go down in the next four months, but I’m not holding my breath.

One of my biggest goals at this juncture is to have at least three pairs of matching socks… Among getting my shit together to apply to grad school and slowly trying to pry myself from the jaws of debt.

Not to downplay all that but the socks thing would just be really personally satisfying.

I’m really thinking NYC is the move.

The application opens any day now and a bitch is ready.

My life finally feels like it’s moving, like it might actually be worth staying alive just so I can see what’s about to happen.

That was dark but I’m a dark bitch so…

Reclaiming My Time

I think I’m going to stop smoking weed.

Not indefinitely, but for the foreseeable future. Classes have started, business is picking up at work, and I have one semester of college left. It’s crunch time and  since I’ve been on probation, I’ve seen how productive I can actually be when I’m not taking weed naps. 

This growing up shit is a trip.

*trick

I advise you steer clear of it if you can help it. 

It hasn’t been easy hitting the ground running as far as adulthood. I’ve taken more than my share of L’s since I’ve been out in these streets. 

And y’know, all things considered, I’m alright. 

Life isn’t about getting it right all the time. Sometimes it’s about lessons and I’m happy I’m learning them now rather than later.

A bitch has priorities and plans. 

Im really making Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance my personal mantra. 

Every new year for the past few years, I always tell myself “This year will be better than the last.” Well, 2017’s almost over. And though this year has been somewhat of a shit show,  I suppose it wasn’t as much of a shit show as 2016. 

To be victorious, we must find glory in the little things. And my little victories thus far are enough to keep me going. 

New York, New York

I fucked up and answered the waitress at the coffee shop with a “yes ma’am” and immediately blew my cover. Nobody says “ma’am” here. What killed me was the almost uncomfortable look that came over her face when I said it – a look that said, “You must be from out of town.”

Observation: When Wyclef said he liked his chicken wings fried hard, I honestly thought it was a joke. 

But nah, I ordered some chicken wings yesterday and they were fried hard as shit. Is that a New York thing?

They were good though.

There is no order in Manhattan. You’d think folks would walk on the right side of the sidewalk, the way we drive but no, it’s just an anxiety inducing free-for-all. 

Yet everyone manages to get where they’re going unscathed, for the most part. After a while, I could see the chaotic harmony in which people move here. 

Culture shock. 

I’ve always thought it’d be cool to live in New York but my first visit tells me that it’s going to be more of an adjustment than I thought. 

But with time, I think I could do it. 

The things that I find strange still have a certain charm that I can’t put my finger on. Even the smells.