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.

Life and Laughs

I recently watched The Incredible Jessica James.

It’s one of my favorite movies now.

The story, the plot, the characters (oh the characters) – this movie just stood out to me in so many different ways. Like I was almost surprised at how much I loved it.

The first time I saw Jessica Williams on The Daily Show w John Stewart, I thought she was witty, awkward, smart, funny – just my kind of bitch. I thought, “I can’t wait til she gets poppin.” Then she left the show and I thought

“Oh shit, she’s making moves. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

I follow her on Instagram and I remember when the movie was on the festival circuit making waves.

It got into Sundance, which – kudos.

Then it premiered on Netflix. I must admit, it took me a while to sit down and watch it. It was always on my mental watchlist but I was in the middle of Narcos so… it had to wait a minute.

But I finished Narcos (dope af) and I finally sat down to watch it and I honestly feel like it’s one of the most charming&funny&quirky&lovable movies I’ve seen in a while. Definitely cult classic material. New generation black art house gold. I loved it.

Even though the world seems to be heading for imminent destruction, I can die in peace having witnessed the last hoorah, the raison d’etre, the final bang in this iteration of a true black arts movement – in cinema, and art in general.

It happened in the 20s, 50s 80s and now. When the going gets tough, the tough create.

I mean like

DWP. selma. Insecure. Awkward black Girl. Issa Rae. Justin Simeon. Lena waithe. 20s. Queen Sugar. Oprah. AVA mf’n DUVERNAY. Fences. Hidden Figures. Fruitvale Station. Black Panther.

Not to mention all the talent on the internet. Niggas are getting paid cash money to parody the bullshit we witness ERDAY.

Obviously, trolls gone troll.

Toni, Rachel, Katlyn, Kylie: I’m looking at you…

But have I been getting my life and my laughs despite them?

Hell yes.

*takes earbud out* what

Podcasts help me keep my brain busy when I’m waisting time. And I also like hearing intelligent takes on what’s going on in the world. I’m carrying these with me into the new year. Insightful, funny, relatable shit, these are my favorite podcasts.

The Combat Jack Show

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I’m a huge hip hop head. It’s never been enough to just listen to the music. I like to know the ins and the outs of my favorite artists and personalities. Often times, an artist’s personality sells me on their music before I even hear their music. It’s not just rappers, Combat keeps you on your toes with his guests. From talks with Russell Simmons and Talib Kweli to Jamilah Lemieux and Marc Lamont Hill, Combat’s interviews are fun, fresh, and (usually) full of insight.

The Read

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I discovered The Read this past summer and my life has not been the same. They’re funny as fuck and I cannot get enough of their hilarious commentary on the never ending stream of bullshit that populates American politics and pop culture. And those listener letters… my god.

The Friend Zone

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The Friend Zone is my shit. Dustin, Assanté, and Fran are keeping me mindful and on my mental health. Their episodes are interesting and informative, not to mention hella entertaining. If I could climb through the matrix to spend a day with them, I probably would.

For Colored Nerds

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FCN. It’s smart. It’s funny. I’m always interested to hear what Brittany and Eric have to say on any given week. They seem like two cool, cultured  individuals who I wouldn’t mind having intelligent conversations with over coffee.

Code Switch

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Last but not least, NPR’s Code Switch