Pt III. Melrose Place: Luna Melrose

Melrose.

She was born out of necessity. It wasn’t a formal affair or a planned event; Melrose came into this world as means of escape. She was created to be the voice. The ‘no’, the fight back and the fearless Melrose would be the reason Luna didn’t have to be quiet.

Luna, the youngest of three girls and her sisters were both nearly 10 years older than she. In many ways, she felt alone. When she was learning her way around this life thing, they were on their way out of the house. When she was coming of age and going through puberty, they were partying in college and enjoying their newfound freedom. Her at home life resembled that of an only child filled with self-entertainment, artistic creation, and music.

Her parents were divorced and shared custody, although Luna spent as much time as she could at her dad’s house. This wasn’t because she was the proverbial ‘daddy’s girl.’ In fact, it was the polar opposite; Luna and her father didn’t get along well at all. They started butting heads early when she was about 8 years old. At the time her older sisters were 17 and 18, both graduating high school at the same time, with high honors. Lennox, their father, literally doted on her elder daughters. His pride could be felt as easy as placing your hand on his chest. Lennox Gold, also known in the area as “Spin” for his unique ability to spin like MJ with gym shoes on, loved his girls Lannete and LeAundra. Luna, on the other hand, was a toss-up day-to-day.

She would later come to the belief that his palpable disdain for her existed because she did; simply put. Luna came into the world nine years after what her parents expected to be their last child. They not only wanted two kids but they could afford two kids. When Luna popped up all needy and hungry, she was welcomed by her mother, but her father saw her as a leech of all things from love to money. “Because of you, I had to work an extra job” was a phrase he often bellowed toward her during heated disagreements.

But as life would have it, the very love Lennox kept shrouded in secrecy for Luna was the love she so desperately wanted and actively sought. Her mother and father separated just before her 6th birthday and by the time she had turned seven, they were divorced and splitting holidays, birthdays and weeks up on a family scheduled that hung on both sides of the double door refrigerator at her mother’s house. Her mom, Sydney Square-Gold, didn’t want anyone to have an excuse to say they didn’t know. Whether you were getting cold milk or hard ice cream, you will know where you are to be”, her mother would say.

Both of her sisters left for school that fall, so this schedule only pertained to Luna. As often as she could get her mother to agree with, she would be with her father. Luna and her mother had an exquisite relationship and she loved her mother dearly. She never questioned her mother’s love or wondered if she needed to be doing something or become someone else to earn her affection. Those sentiments pertained only to her father, and because of that, she didn’t feel like she needed to be at home with Ms. Gold anymore but rather, at her father’s house, becoming.

And every time was the same. She would arrive with her bags to a clean room as she always left her small bedroom tidy and start working on cleaning her Lennox’s house and preparing dinner. It may seem like a lot for an 8-year-old, but Luna didn’t have time to think about her age. She was focused on love.

She spent years attempting to morph herself into her own version of her sisters in hopes that it would sway his attention. Her father worked late at an automotive plant and in her mind, him walking in the door to a fresh house and hot food was a way to earn her stripes. There were days when it seemed to work but most times, he would barely acknowledge she was there or had done anything special. She never stopped trying. Even in her teenage years, Luna wanted her father’s love.

Her father, however, wanted Luna.

He was annoyed that he had her.

He was angry that he couldn’t have her.

He also recognized her willingness to do anything for him, so when Luna was 15, he decided to give her something to do.

 

And that’s how Melrose came to be.

 

Live PD Cam

Self Conscious: Girl stop. That shit is in the past, let it go. It’s already been buried.

 

Me in real time:

I meant, literally. I can dig it…UP.

The color of masochism.

 

Plot twist: there’s no gold at the end, fool.

Stop digging up your past.

It only ends in the death of you.

~j.

We Should Have Brought Some Tissue: A Review of the choreoplay SHE, by Jinah Parker.

“We should have brought some tissue.”

These words slipped my sister’s lips to the right of my ear and I emphatically agreed with her sentiments. The show had been on for all of two minutes at this whispering point and already we knew we were in for an emotional ride that would guarantee tears shed. Luckily I had some paper towels in my book bag, but once the show got underway I didn’t want to move, and at times couldn’t. Leaning down to grab my bookbag and remove some of the hard ply napkins I’d pilfered from somewhere in New York seemed like it would be a distraction to both the cast and myself. By the end of the play, I’d done that several times.

Welcome to my after-thoughts of SHE, a choreoplay created by an incredible dance choreographer, Jinah Parker and produced by Kevin Powell.  My intent is not to recreate the 90-minute show play by play in this blog; I believe it to be something one needs to experience in person in effort to fully grasp how effective it was at telling these particular stories. Instead, I want to focus on how SHE made me feel, both internally and externally, as I journeyed with the four main characters through five stories, each feeling like a page from my own autobiography.

Quick backdrop about me (in case you don’t already know) to help put my perspective into context: I love dance! All of it. I love watching and participating in it. For too short a while during middle school, I danced w/an African Dance Troupe called FIRE, and for as long as I can remember and still today, I play songs at high volume and dance to the music as if I’m a professional, on stage with an audience mesmerized by the way I move. Dance has always symbolized freedom to me. The way an artist moves their body in tune with rhythmic sound, background noises and common chorus’ is like a feather being pushed by spring air. It’s such a natural experience and full of effervescence; delicate even. I wish I had stayed in dance classes and allowed myself the opportunity to form my flexibility and learn how to follow choreography the way I think I am when I’m at home pretending to be the student and the teacher. One of the allures of dance for me is how no stone is untouched. The dancer’s consciousness of their 5-count is effortlessly exuded in not just the movements of the feet, but also the controlling of the arms, down to the tips of the fingers and how they fold or relax at the exact right moment. Their eyes speak the lyrics they move to while their lips never part and dare to mouth the words. Their feet showcase their arch at specific moments and flatten at ease when necessary. Dance is an art form that requires all systems to be ready to go, on or off beat, depending on what the choreographer has led them to do. Dance is like freewriting, using your body as the pen and the paper.

Where dance asks the student to become the song, even if there are no words in it, theater asks the actor to become someone else-

-even if she can directly relate to the storyline.

This too feels savory to my soul. Anyone can memorize a script or read a monologue and it sound ok. But becoming, or embodying, another being while finding something in their story that is relatable enough for you to add your own special touches while still keeping yourself out of the characterization, is truly an art form. I believe that’s why there are so many different awards for actresses and actors. It is a remarkable feat to give your audience someone they’ve never met through you. Simply put, I love the art of dance and the greatness of acting. I’ve dabbled in both, but writing is my true calling. Still, I find myself sitting in theaters, festivals and other showings that include one or both completely enamored with hearts for eyes as I listen to their bodies create a story and watch their acting introduce me to someone new. Needless to say, I sat in the theater waiting on SHE to start, knowing that the artistic high I would have by the end would be something worth writing about. I kicked myself for not bringing a tiny notepad to take notes. Everything I am blogging is based on my memories of the show. No pictures or video were allowed, respectfully and rightfully so.

I’ve also received word that it will make another run later in the year and I will surely help promote it, so please be looking for that later down the line.

Let the Bodies Hit the Floor:

There were six dancers, each with her own personality about her toes. All six dancers have trained extensively in their art of choice, with some traveling as far as Amsterdam, Paris, Ethiopia and Isreal for study and teaching opportunities.

The musical selections were carefully chosen and perfectly intertwined with the storylines. When I heard Eryn Allen Payne’s Piano Song start to play, I relaxed even more in my chair as I instantly felt at home in this space. My unspoken (in this blog) love is music, and Eryn Allen Payne is an artist I recently got turned on to by way of Spotify trolling. She’s not on charts or playing on local radio, so anytime I hear that type of artist play outside of my earphones, it brings me comfort.

“Sometimes clinging to a cloud ain’t, easy as it seems
Sometimes clinging to a cloud ain’t, easy as it seems
But we try (just a little)
And we try (for you)
And we try (for me)
And we try”

~Piano

Payne’s delicate voice sings like a songbird over simple piano keys that eventually wrap themselves in the arms of various horns and drums and high notes by the singer. I love suggesting music and Ms. Payne is someone to puto n your radar for certain, especially Piano Song. At the same time, the stage lights were up and the dancers gave us our first taste of the next 85 minutes. As they neared the end of the song and sprinted about onstage with high jumps, mind blowing one leg spins and facial expressions that were a cross of internal joy and melancholy fears, my sister moved close and spoke this blog’s opening line:

“We should have brought some tissue.”

The dancers were charged with being the narrators of the show, which was artistically exquisite because they didn’t have actual speaking lines. The narration was all foot and body work, facial expression and intensity. Throughout the show, different dancers would enter the stage and begin to tell the stories being spoken by the characters. When pain and hurt were present, the choreography was inflamed and at times frantic. They’d tug and pull on each other, spin desperately on the floor or run for the freedom the characters were searching for in their tearful cries. There was one specific a point a dancer was on the ground with her legs up, her arms gripping the ground and her head back. I felt the storyline in her movements. Her inhales and exhales were distressed and passionate and they almost made me lose my breath for her. Her toes were aware of their surroundings, her skirt spread against the concrete flooring as if it were purposeful.

In that instance, she was me. I was her crash to the floor and the melancholy in her feet. I watched them all dance for me, for my life and for my secrets and pain.

It was hard to know whether to watch the dancers or the person speaking but I attempted to use both eyes separately. No matter what dancer was on stage be it one, a couple or all, the words being spoken were given a palpable heartbeat by how the dancers connected their movements to each monologue. And man were they strong!!! They picked each other up, rolled off each other’s backs and did the fell into the splits as if it were as simple as left foot, right foot. The intensity elicited a listening silence throughout the room. We watched with our eyes fixated on how each talented dancer turned their footwork into the actors. When the conversations were lighter and loving, the jumps and spins were graced with smiles and spread arms. The songs made you forget for a quick second that this was a heartbreaking story of how much pain women carry with them on a daily basis.

In secret.

This was not just a story of sexual trauma and abuse; this was a story of silence.

At one point, I remember thinking about the fact that in this room of women actresses and dancers, audience members and venue staff, there was more than five stories worth of women who could relate directly, or all too closely, to any one of the stories shared on that stage. It’s scary and maddening. The choreography put movement to the pain that hides behind the smiles on many of our faces.

The Bedrooms:

There were four actresses and much like the dancers, they are all well versed in their art form and each have a resume that includes tons of theater acting, some  television (including recognizable shows) and even a musical tour or two.

The stage set up was very minimalistic yet spoke volumes if you’ve ever experienced sexual trauma of any sort. There were four women, five stories. More on the fifth story in a second. The stage had four bedrooms, each with a woman in it. The rooms were all the same dimensions but varied in aesthetics. Each had a bed but the contents surrounding the beds were all different. In one room, there were tons of balled up and wrinkled papers alongside pill bottles. Another room was more controlled and clean with not a drawer out of place. One girl had a teenage looking room and the older matriarch of the play had a room befitting of her regal personality as well. Each bedroom held a different trauma but all fell under the same category:

Sexual Abuse.

And silence.

These bedrooms are a crucial unspoken part of the play and I will tell you why. The significance they carry is effective to any audience member versed in this topic by way of personal experience. Our bedrooms hold our secrets. We keep our diaries, journals, AND silence in these rooms, hoping that closing the door or locking the book or hiding it in the panty drawer will shut out the effects it has on our lives and mental state. Bedrooms are where we THINK we have healed ourselves until we realize we haven’t. It’s where we throw our fits and tantrums, as did one of the characters. It’s where we ball up in our sheets and write or consider suicide or cry our eyes out, using our pillows to muffle the screams that cannot exist outside of that room. Our bedrooms are often our inadvertent tombs or temples of anguish.

Every time one of the characters descended from her room, another layer of her pain was exposed. Stories of molestation, sexual abuse, rape, and harassment fell out of the closed closets and into the arms of the waiting audience as well as the other characters. Again, I don’t want to give away too many details. I only want to convey how well these actresses delivered their roles. Like the dancers, there were times when it was just one or several and towards the end, all women on stage. The characters all shared the common bond of having been sexually traumatized and thinking she should remain silent while internally erupting with hurt and confusion. Throughout the room, of which you could hear an ant sneeze, there were sniffles. Tearful emotions were overtaking the packed audience of various ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds. We all collectively were slapped in our faces by the reality that too many women face and must live with. From catcalling to schools turning their backs on rape victims and court Judges that ask questions like “why couldn’t you keep your legs closed“, SHE moved through not just these four women’s stories of abuse and trauma, but those of MANY. Thousands of women and teenagers are abused every day and they stay silent due to the treatment of victims once they’ve gone public; these were their stories. These girls and women keep to themselves, self-medicating and secretly hoping to die and for some, attempting to do so.

“…Halfway ready to die but scared to be buried on our backs because what if someone sneaks into our casket and thinks we were asking for it?”

~Januarie York, We Be All Night

In SHE, the bedrooms represented silence and repression to me. They were places of unrest, fear, and self-doubt. Stepping out of the abyss of the bedroom and turning on your vocals is what this play was about. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN VOCAL!!!!! The matriarch in the show, played by actress Kimberly Dalton Chalk, suffered molestation as a child by a family member and stayed silent about it. Imagine how many of our matriarchs and [great] grandmothers have gone through this and we don’t even know it. Through her own trauma and experiences, she urges all the other women to be vocal. She pushes them towards healing, knowing that in doing so, she will begin to heal herself as well. Throughout it all, the dancers were interacting with each other and the characters themselves and it made for a phenomenal, emotional 90 minutes of trial & tribulation turning into a triumph over pain/guilt/fear.

SHE told these four stories of sexual trauma, each having its own ability to branch off into further traumas and ways to be identified with by the audience. The word RAPE was given a broader spectrum to exist on that included direct sexual rape, mental and sexual manipulation, catcalling and street harassment among other instances that all fall under the brim of saying NO and it not being respected. But there was one story that didn’t involve sex, although manipulation, abuse, and trauma were at the forefront of it. I cried throughout this play. I cried during different dance sequences and monologues. I cried from looking at the facial expressions and hearing the fear and defeat in the voices of the characters. I’ve cried during theater many times in my life.

But I’ve never uncontrollably lost it during theater like I did when they gave space and tribute to Sandra Bland.

Panel & Jinah Parker & Final Thoughts:

Jinah Parker, the creator of this show and professionally trained dancer/dance educator, ……

Well, what do I say exactly? I want to keep this brief because I know this review is long but there is still much more to process. I’ll say this: She has a body that looks to have been sculpted meticulously in a quiet room of a Smithsonian Museum. It looks like she dances. Her face as she moves is aligned with her steps. There is no blink that was by accident. No hair that doesn’t move the way it should, no scowl that shouldn’t be and no smile that should be missing. She dances like her life depends on every single movement. I’ve written about this type of dancer numerous times. ..

“…and I will chronicle slave stories and bear battered women’s bruises with these feet!”

~Januarie York, The Architect

It’s no wonder that she would use her body to give tribute to Sandra Bland. A woman who, at the right angle, could be easily blended into a picture of Ms. Parker. That’s the thing about the PTSD that black people are suffering from regarding our relations with the police. We look just like the people we see dying !!!!  So it’s hard to not think it could be you when you, at times, feel like you’re looking AT yourself. I’m not suggesting this was where Jinah’s mindset was when she added this part to the show, but I do know that as beautiful and precise as the entire cast was, Jinah was the only one that could pull off the emotions, the anger and the appalling acts that led to the death of Sandra Bland. Through a video montage, we heard Sandra’s voice and were reminded of her face. We saw her get pulled over. We heard the exchange. As soon as she appeared, I began bawling crying and couldn’t stop. The montage showed other faces, familiar and unfamiliar, including Tarika Wilson, Rekia Boyd, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

Jinah’s face….Her face pulled me into those first moments I heard or wrote about each other these black women and girls. My body was jumping. Tears were in a complete cascade. I grabbed some hard paper towels from my bag and held it to my nose and mouth. I feared I would vocally cry by accident. It was gut-wrenching, yet necessary. The way the scene ended made me almost run out of the theater so I could collect my thoughts. But I didn’t. I sat there and pulled it together and watched the rest of the choreoplay. It was a breathtaking display. The whole damn choreoplay was just that: breathtaking. Inspiration. Honest. Frightening.

Jinah Parker has pulled together an incredibly talented cast and woven some of our most silent stories into 90 minutes of expression and verbal release. It was followed by a 30-minute talkback, of which I sat on the panel and briefly shared a story of mine of how I related to this showing.  The cast was so welcoming, full of smiles and eyes that beamed with excitement. But before the panel began, Ms. Parker had us all do a breathing exercise. The exhale was so necessary and I am thankful for that. The audience was greatly impacted, men included. They stood and shared sentiments of fear and disgust and wonder of how to become the right type of ally. Some women spoke through tears and others with an imperative sense of awareness, calling on each other to push back against this system (hello Trump Admin), and our traumas.

I could continue to write about this show but I worry that I may have lost some of you already with this length. There is a way I could shorten it I guess, but I like being true to me. I like stepping out of the bedroom and allowing the silence to fall off of me. I like being vocal and talking in all my truth. I had to share this experience the way I felt it. I hope that Jinah finds herself reading it so that she may KNOW that I too am one of her fans and will be championing for this show’s continued to success. And if ever it finds itself touring . . .

Jinah,

Thank you for what you have created. Thank you for answering the call in your heart and mind to push this out and into the world. Thank you for taking on the pains and hurts and traumas of your fellow sisters and turning them into a conversation. Thank you for not layering this show with unnecessary, unrelated moments in an effort to keep the attention of the audience. I’ve seen that happen before and it’s hit or miss; thank you for trusting yourself and your work. This is a heavy show. I can’t say it’s not. But it’s so necessary for people to see and hear. Too many do not know that the women right next to them are walking around with this type of hurt stewing in the back of their minds. We suffer in silence and we die in suffering when we don’t have to. This choreoplay was not for entertainment; this was for education. Thank you for your heart. Your art. Your calling. You move like the wind is your direction and your passion for this project is easily seen and equally felt. To sit alongside you and to have you trust my voice is humbling and a true blessing to my soul.

Again, sister, I say thank you. On behalf of myself, the cast and all the women out here who have experienced some form of sexual abuse. Finally, a special thank you for the Sandra Bland tribute.  In the same spirit of speaking our names aloud, as many of us in the audience did when the different names graced the montage, I will speak the names of this cast. This is what we like to call LIVE  ROSES: flowers delivered while they can still be smelled. Ladies/Cast – Congratulations on an EXCELLENT showing.

I will come back to see it when it runs again!!!!

 

Afterword: I Speak Your Name

Phaedra Michelle Scott  – Directory

Sarah Elaz – Dancer/Narrator

Yuki Fukui – Dancer/Narrator

Brittni Genovese – Dancer/Narrator

Evelyn Joy Hoelscher – Dancer/Narrator Tammi Cubilette – Actor/The Mother

Tammi Cubilette – Actor/The Mother

Kerime Konur – Dancer/Narrator Tammi Cubilette – Actor/The Mother

Tammi Cubilette – Actor/The Mother

Montana Lampert Hoover – Actor/The Girl

Kimberly Dalton Chalk – Actor/Ma

Bridget Barkan – Actor/The Woman

Jinah Parker – Dancer/Narrator/Sandra Bland/#CREATOR

***Produced by Kevin Powell

 

Per the Playbill:

National Child Abuse Hotline (childhelp) 800.422.4453

National Dating Abuse Hotline 866.331.9474

National Domestic Violence Hotline 800.799.7233 (SAFE)

National Human Trafficking Hotline 888.373.7888

National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN) 800.656.4673

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800.273.8255

WOMAN’ing: Chapter 21, Pt II – The Pussy Police Officers *updated

A casual stroll down my Instagram feed ended with me being stopped dead in my tracks at one of the posts from someone I follow.

I’ve been following the young lady that I once helped raise when she was barely able to read on her own for the last year or so. She’s so beautiful. She’ll be twenty-one on November 21st, which is ironically the birthdate of my partner now. She has an incredible singing voice and does feature spots quite often from what I can tell. She has a Soundcloud page too. On this day what popped up on my feed wasn’t her singing or somewhere with her red hair blowing or smiling. She was ……posed – in what looked to be a professionally taken picture of her in nothing but her panties. She had some type of coat covering her breasts but she wasn’t ‘wearing’ it. Her face was stunning. Makeup was done nice, hair simple and cute and her features are just beautiful. I really hope beyond what the world is telling her in order to be next to her, that she knows she is gorgeous!!!! When I saw that picture, I felt so many different feelings and the first being ‘where the fuck are your clothes?’

But ….the last thought I had, as much as it bothered me to see her like such, was who have I become that  I think I can be on the pussy patrol, stopping and frisking women for their right to do whatever makes them happy, at that age, at that moment on that day. She’s a twenty-year-old young woman who has been to college, is no one’s mother yet and talented AF ! Kendria, stop cyber-side-eye  policing this adult young woman, especially when you were quite similar at her age. #letherlive #GetOffHerAssWithTheSideEyeBeltsAndExtensionCords

Whew! What juxtaposition.

…and on that note, FUCK THE POLICE.

NO, I’m not talking about the boys (and girls) in blue right now (but really, they can get it too). I mean fuck the PPOs. Who and what are the PPO’s?

*foul language ahead*

The Muthafuckin’ Pussy Police Officers. The people who really think it’s their job to dictate who a woman is and what she does and whether or not she’s still ‘qualified’ in PPO’s eyes to be considered a [respectable] woman. Still don’t get it? How many times have you scrolled past a meme like this:

06eb4b22f9a26dffb390d8e692166a8b 6291a7c0da4e21422f19580c57ef166d so-let-me-get-this-straight-women-want-a-real-man_o_461506

Or have you read about how black women who get their hair dyed blonde don’t like being black and secretly want to be white?
Have you ever scrolled past a long thread of heauxteps and friends that are going in on black women for the choices they have made about their lives and how those choices somehow equal a diminished sense of black pride? What about the folks that talk shit about strippers but make no mention of the skeletal remains that are stinking up their walk-in closets? Or the folks that are constantly talking about what a woman can wear and be acceptable? Or how long her nails can be before she is considered ‘too ghetto… or how she wants attention when she wears a short skirt, breastfeeds in public or wears colored contact lens and hair weave … the list of reasons people sign up to become card-carrying PPOs is forever growing and I’m sure there are new instances added daily that speak on what makes a woman and what breaks one.945868_969728873082675_3146413067454980451_n

To them – I say fuck you.

yes

Let’s divide this part into three sections:

  • -Woman 
  • -Thou Art
  • -Assumed to be Loose …..But I’m going to start from the end and go up.

 

“Assumed To Be Loose”

I live for word definitions:

loose

lo͞os/

adjective

  1. not firmly or tightly fixed in place; detached or able to be detached.

synonyms:      not fixed in place, not secure, unsecured, unattached

  1. (of a garment) not fitting tightly or closely.

synonyms:      baggy, generously cut, slack, roomy

verb

  1. set free; release.

            free, set free, unloose, turn loose, set loose, let loose, let go, release

 Boyshorts as outside clothes, twerk videos, ass shots and pumped up breasts aren’t anything ‘new’ so to speak, but with the continued rise of social media, they’ve gained some traction because everyone is wearing it and doing it for all to see. Pole dancing is more acceptable today than it was when I was wrapping around one and girls holding blocks of money and making it rain on each other, themselves or a random brown kitchen table is part of our society’s norm. But these things, while coveted to the sight, are things that get women labeled as a certain type of woman. Because only a THOT would come outside in short shorts and only a stripper hoe would have desires of learning how to work the pole. Right?

  1. LOOSE – the adjective definition #1. – not firmly or tightly fixed in place; detached or able to be detached.  Synonyms – not fixed in place, not secure, unsecured, unattached

– Women are considered loose as much as society can loosen us up. We are’ not fixed in a certain place’ according to the #PPO Academy graduates. We are INsecure (which leads to our off the cuff, loose behavior) and unattached. Perhaps if we had a man, we could fix ourselves? Or if we went to church and prayed our hoe away, we could come back out as saved and great –

-but wait. …

You can’t turn a hoe into a housewife, right? Ok so women who are hoes, thots, loose ones, fast ones, etc. are forever lost causes but that’s already been discussed in a blog by me. You might recall from a previous blog, I discussed ‘hoes’ and how ironic it is that hoes still get fucked when so many men don’t respect them. But if you don’t respect her and you’re fucking her, does that not speak to what you think of yourself? Idk….this blog isn’t really on that again. This is about the fact that any one person, male or female, thinks they even have the right to label a woman anything aside from her name or a name she’s given herself. I can’t believe I’m about to use this woman as an example but she’s a really good one: Kim Kard.

She’s always called a hoe and a thot and a host of colorful other names that don’t sound like Kim, Kardashian, West or Woman. Why is this? Because she did a sex tape with Ray-J and made bank from it? OR is it because we know she had sex with Ray J and women can’t have sex without being whores? Clearly (if you saw the tape), they had some type of relationship that extended well beyond that garbage hotel action and Ray J’s lack of knowledge of what to do in such a situation (you thought it too) so it has to be something else right? Ok well, she got married for 72 hours. She also dated Reggie Bush. She now is married to Kanye West. Let’s toss a random person in there for shits and giggles….we’ll call him Arnold. So let’s do the math of what we know – KK has slept with at least four different men, two that she married, one who is the father of both of her kids, one who she made a sex tape with and then turned it into an empire (no matter what anyone thinks of her) – Yep, she’s a certified loose, thot dressing hoe.#Sarcasm

Can you see the tom foolery or is it just me? But the policing doesn’t stop at our panties. It is a head to toe makeover that the #PPO are constantly (pa)Trolling women to give them. Now apply this to women all over. If you sleep with X-amount of men, you are a hoe. If you wear X-type of clothes, you are a thot. If you’re black and you die your hair blonde, then you want to be white. If you’re a bigger woman at a buffer, you’re obese with an eating problem. If you wear heels all the time, you’re ignorant to the natural needs of your feet. If you still wear bras, you haven’t done your research and need to retrain your mind to think bra-less because that’s what real women do. If you take too many selfies, you are too confident, stuck up, narcissist and need to chill. If you aren’t smiling in public at all times, you’re mean, evil looking or mad at the world when “come on babygirl, it really ain’t that bad.”

The #PPO can strike their badge authority anywhere. They are loose with it. They aren’t attached to any one woman; these rules apply to all women everywhere and especially the ones raising up future women. The Pussy Police Officers will come for your neck the minute they think you have dropped the ball on being a card-carrying woman, ESPECIALLY if you are a BLACK WOMAN. I believe ALL women are subjected to the PPO, but black women just seem to have it worse (of course). People like Trick Daddy, Kanye and various other rappers who’s tracks get twerk’d to by the same women they tear down, are brutally insensitive and downright disrespectful to black women as if it were a sport. It’s nothing to see a black man do an interview and speak some vile shit against black women as if his mother were born lily white as the snow. We’re fine as long we’re their fucking fake ass  video props but when it comes to real life, we are worthy of their PPO disrespect.  So they’ll fuck us, make us into hoes to talk about, use us in their videos for low wages and ass smacking but then call us out because we’re not living up to what they think a real woman is? Geeez, some men really are looking for a daughter to fuck. They want a girl they can tell what to do for 12 hours and a woman they can fuck ‘like a hoe’ for 12 hours. Who lives up to this? #PPO nellyThere’s a guy whose name I can’t remember (why would I) who has a YouTube channel dedicated to stereotyping us and talking against us. He has millions of followers and believers. As much as my fellow sisters and I ignore this shit and try not to let it bother us, it’s hard not to feel something from that type of shit. Simply put: it hurts. But we superwomen and know our strength so we keep pushing regardless…and the #PPOs continue to patrol our city and cyber streets to teach us, not from experience, how to be good, wholesome, society-accepted women. I reject that shit and say fuck that and fuck you! And while there are plenty of women PPOs lurking (I have some on my FB page), the men seem to have this position on lock! I guess considering they started off as girls, they CAN tell us a thing or two…I just don’t know how accurate it would be. I have never understood how the saying ‘a woman can’t raise no man’ can be accurate when speaking of a single woman raising her little, growing boy but somehow a grown man CAN re-raise a grown ass woman?

As my girl Naz would say, MUTHAFUCKAFORWHAT??!?!?!?! Kinda like the hoe concept – it’s as if she’s doing it on her own, but we all know she can’t be a hoe without hoe-ish assistance.

Yes, woman is often assumed to be loose. I use this phrase a lot and even have it in a poem. Of course, it stems from the movie title of Woman, Thou Art Loose, but it’s missing the ASSUMED so I’ve added it where it goes. Our bodies are the topic of discussion daily. We are told what we can and can’t do with them and even had a governor who is now running for VP of  the USA try to force those who have abortions and stillbirths to BURY the remains. We are often punished for having sex – Punished for how we look – And told what we can feel. Welcome to the Academy for PPO. The Muthafuckin Pussy Police Officers. Oh how I wish they would use LOOSE in the verb way and let go of us. Just let go. Set us free. Let us fucking be the types of women we WANT to be. Hoe or otherwise dammit.

We all eventually wake up from our slumbers and it’s hardly ever because this harsh society tried to guilt trip us about our decisions… Women go through so many phases of living before they get to the woman they want to be. No one can dictate what those phases are or when they will happen (although there is a projected set of ages for some stuff) but you can bet your pointy little finger that her experiences will make her the phenomenal woman she is growing into. Do I want to see a girl I knew when she was illiterate on IG in her tshirt & panties? Nah. But do I have the right to tell her to sit down? Nope.  I don’t have that right. I can stop it from showing up in my  feed but I don’t have the right to PPO that young lady like I work for Sagamore.

PT II – THOU ART – Tomorrow.

“THOU ART”

art

/ärt/

noun

  1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

  2. The various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.

Ahhhh…..When I tell you I adore definitions, I really mean it. I teach using the dictionary and definitions as inspiration when I do workshops because sometimes, seeing the meaning of a word can create an entire poem. Or maybe it’s just me.

Thou Art – I decided to break this blog up by way of the title because all three separations hold their own accuracy and worth. When women are LOOSENED (verb – let go, set free), we are given the reigns and rights to embrace our art. Even when walking through the valleys of the shadows of wasted breath and opinions, we are art. We are living, breathing art and that in itself is intimidating to many. Looking at both of the ART definitions, it’s easy to fit a woman into that which is art. But are we really appreciated for our beauty and/or emotional power? Our beauty, that thing that is always on the chopping block for the local PPO to dissect for accuracy, seems to always fail to be good enough for others. Which is perfectly fine to most of us but quite honestly, as many of us as there are that are confident and who we are and what we look like and don’t care what outsiders have to say, there are just as many who are still fighting the good fight for their self-esteem and self-worth. Everyone wasn’t taught confidence and there are plenty of women still wrestling with their beautiful who just don’t need the extra bullshit voices of folks who get hard dicks and clits from tearing down others. God forbid we were weave (self-hate), fake nails (fake woman), or enjoy watching television/television shows that are primarily white cast. Either we aren’t woke enough, black enough, woman enough, angelic enough, flat stomach-enough, virgin-like enough, Christian enough, lkjd;lajfol;disajropweuifopjadl;fjkasl; j OMG THIS LIST GOES AND GOES AND GOES!!!!

But isn’t that the point of art? Isn’t art supposed to be dressed up or dressed down? Doesn’t art make people look? Doesn’t it capture your attention and curiosity? Art is abstract. It is unconventional. It breaks rules…carves its own lane. Women are art. We are similar to pieces that hang in local museums for people to gawk at and ponder over. No two just alike, we are all these unique pieces of creative works and the fact that there are people who still don’t know how to appreciate all of our differences (and similarities) is proof that there is much work left to do regarding the right to be a free woman. One of my fondest NYC memories is from my first trip there. There was a black girl walking to the corner to wait for the light to turn. She was dressed head to toe in things that didn’t make sense to the average eye. She had tennis shoes, leg warmers, leggings, a couple of shirts, a mini skirt, and a funky hairdo. Initially, I did a double take. Then I smiled because I realized something: She was free. No one was staring at her and no one was questioning her mental ability, her womanhood, her sexuality, her discernment, choices or otherwise disrespecting her. That’s when I instantly secured my ‘I will love you forever’ attitude towards New York City. And while we may always get funky looks, ignorant questions, and pointed fingers, if you can just be ok with YOU, when you see YOU, then fuck this society and it’s flagrant opinions:

  • ” I saw some gray hair in your head old lady grandma” * followed by laugh*
  • “looks like you’ve gained more weight. You need to diet” * followed by laugh*
    “You need to stop eating so much” * followed by laugh*
    “Why you got that shirt/dress on when you know you’re too big for it” * followed by laugh*
  • “Sooo you’re 30+ now…when are the babies coming” * followed by laugh*
  • “That’s a cute guy I saw you with for the first time…yaw getting married?” * followed by laugh*
  • “You know you can’t afford that baby” * followed by laugh*
  • “Ewww put that cleavage up, don’t nobody want to see that” * followed by laugh*
  • “Honey you need to stop losing weight. You look sickly” *followed by laugh*
  • “Cover up” * followed by laugh*
  • “I saw some dents and pricks in your thighs….better leave Long’s alone girl, * followed by laugh* “

Everything isn’t always a damn joke and some jokes are centered around true thoughts. Do people ever tire of making a woman face whatever they think she hasn’t already seen before they did? Whether it’s weight or children or her hair or who she loves – do the #PPO ever stop to wonder that they might be bringing up a very sensitive topic? Do they ever wonder if they are hurting feelings? Or just straight pissing folks off?

No they don’t.
Their sole job on earth is to police the pussy until its all out of 9 lives.

For some people, women as they are, are simply never enough.

But to me, Thou [is] Art.

WOMAN

I’ve written this blog several times. If you look around my site, you will find this type of blog written in several different forms. I had that epiphany as I started to finish this blog up. I’m always talking about this and I  guess it’s because it irritates the FUCK out of me. Like seriously, I never go around trying to teach men how to be men and for that matter, I don’t even try to teach other women how to be them. I discuss the basics that typically stretch across the board for all women and especially black women. I talk about being free, being yourself and embracing who you are in this moment of your life. My standing is pretty solid: I think women should have the freedom from other opinions to live their lives as they see fit and to change/grow as they deem necessary. There is always room to grow and the right loving people will call you out on your bullshit, so any faults undiscovered by self are often aired out when dealing with your relationship to others. It is so complex to be a woman – we have to smile while we walk around bleeding and feeling like crap. We still have to work while our breasts are leaking and lactating all over the place. We are the nurturers, the mothers, the sisters and the lovers. We must remain in touch with our emotions but not so much that others see us as emotional. O.o #MFFW

We have to dress pretty while not dressing slutty while remembering to cover up while breastfeeding but also to show cleavage when we go out but not too much or you’re a thot, but not so little where you are considered a prude. Lol.

I do not subscribe to this bullshit.

You cannot tell me how to be a woman.

You cannot try to be my daddy and my husband.

You cannot out-woman me.

You will not change who I am.

Only the course of my life’s journey can do that.

WOMAN – Thou Art [yet] assumed to be loose, but I see you.

I see us.

Simply put – We’re the shit. Keep doing you love and let’s all raise our middle fingers in solidarity to the PPO!!!!

Woman, thou Art.

The only thing loose is the lips of the passerbys.

Blood in the Ocean: Maybe There’s a Shark in the Water

He was looking for his car keys when my brother pointed to the ottoman and said “there.”

“No, those aren’t the right keys,” he replied.

 “Nah said, my brother. “I meant the phone. Grab your phone!”

“Yes, grab your phone baby. ALWAYS take your phone!!!”, I reiterated in a calm but serious tone.

As they walked down the stairs, I heard them speak on how much they both hated the NEED to take their phones everywhere they go. They were going to the store and it was two blocks up the street. It should be ok for them to drive two blocks up the street without a cell phone but the truth is, for a black man in america, simply standing on a square of public concrete could get you killed. To be black is like being blood in an endless ocean and maybe there’s a shark in the water. . .

…so you must always carry your phone because never know when it will be the only eye witness.

On this night, I had gathered with some of my close friends as well as my partner in an effort to decompress our spirits from the Alton Sterling video and collectively generate enough love in the room to soothe all of our spirits, even if just for that moment. We talked and laughed and of course, the conversation made its way to the racial tension that was heating up and the video of Alton’s murder. Little did we know that the very next day we would once again be drained of the energy we assembled together. There were five of us; two women and three men and everyone in the room was in a committed relationship, married or otherwise. We are all good friends so the vulnerabilities were palpable.

Time and time again I have written about the plights of black women. I push for our respect and our right to be free-spirited, life-givers who are in control of our own minds and bodies. I speak often of our softer side and our empathetic nature. But on this night with my friends, I saw black men unlike I’ve ever seen them before and it put a spotlight on how quiet I’ve been in regards to the literary love I type up and share. Right in the comfort of my chill space, I saw three black men worn out and tired from the american race for personal freedom of black people. It’s a race you don’t sign up for; you are born into. You have the choice to not participate and actively fight alongside your brothers and sisters, but you won’t be excused from the results.

Men = strong unattainable beings that lack empathy.

That about sums up my formative years with men; I either struggled to find and maintain a personable connection (stepdad, brother) or they were absent (my father). But then there are men like my uncle, who I never questioned his love for me but I also saw how he emotionally abused my aunt and my grandfather who was proud to call me his granddaughter. But even he was shrouded in darkness and damaging secrets. It’s pretty predictable what this resulted in for my dating life so as you can see, I’ve not had many healthy examples of men. I’ve had some hits, lots of misses and a lifetime of questions. Becoming part of the arts community exposed me to me black men who don’t shy away from emotions and taught me that they are just as scared as women are sometimes. I’ve been able to see behind the mask and the hardened exterior. It’s something I’ve long needed to witness. After all, it is rather unhealthy to think that an entire gender lacks the ability to feel. Through poetry, I channeled feelings and emotions within myself that surprised me. I wrote about the plight of black men. I pushed them from behind using my stanza’s as hands and I gave them tight embraces by way of poetry. I loved them loudly on stages and spoke of them as Kings. I spoke to them like Kings.

“I need for you to stand for yourself Black Man…”

I tried to be their reminder.

“…for each one of you who have let go of the block and rock uniforms, time cards and minimum wages as compared to the streets/still you keep your feet planted in solid soil/often covering up your desire to relapse back to the hood in the same way aluminum foil shelters Sunday leftovers…/” ~For You I Write

I had to write for the health of black men as much as I wrote about everything else because what if there was a shark in the water, and my poetry was the only ship to safety. I tried to write them to safety….so to speak. Somewhere that stopped.  There was a turning point where my writings became less inclusive of black men upliftment. The more I spoke to women, the less I spoke to (and for) men. And honestly, the more I got hurt, the less uplifting I felt like doing in the black man’s honor. It was not intentional shade or nothing; it’s just not where I was in my life or in my writings. Now I’m finding myself making a full circle evolution because as I listened to and watched these three men lay their hearts on my floor, it tapped into that part of me that used to write for them. I was reminded that black people are all blood in the water. Our melanin attracts the sharks and the sharks are armed with guns, tasers and cell phones that they use to make anonymous phone calls to 911 that result in our deaths. One phone call can lead to our death and the caller need not even stick around to watch. It’s usually more innocent black people witnessing (and recording) and getting psychologically damaged in the process. Can you imagine being the person who shot the video of Alton Sterling? Or Eric Garner? Mentally what happens to these people who just stepped out for a Sprite and some cigarettes and end up witnessing a homicide (aside from being harassed by police, locked up on  trumped up charges and other bullshit to derail the case and the life of the witness)?

Sharks are swimming circles around us and we can’t act like we don’t know it anymore. Coming together isn’t an OPTION; it’s necessity. Humbling myself and quieting my arrogance so that I may speak to and for Black men with the same passion I use to speak about strippers being equals and women deserving respect is pertinent to my growth as much as it is to our growth as a people. Black women, children, teenagers, and men are all swimming in these treacherous oceans, but black men (boys) are especially singled out and targeted.  They need to be loved on and lifted higher. They are in need of a network of people to push them to continue to fight and excel because this society is not going to do it. It is up to us to help strengthen each other. The inhumane treatment of black people is condoned and appreciated by a society that fears them yet wants so badly to BE them. They want that smooth chocolate skin, the confidence, the [alleged] big dick, the baritone voice, the cool factor …

Black men are hunted…and wanted. Who am I to excuse myself from writing to and for them, especially in such troublesome times?  

Sitting there with my friends, I listened to my partner and two men I consider brothers speak their fears in the comfort of me and my sisterfriend (wife of one of my brothers). Black men are taught not to be frightened of anything. It is suggested that they don’t show too much sensitivity and where there is no father in the home, there is no man to be the demonstration of balancing testosterone and feelings. During slavery, when the men would get whippings, many of them took it on the chin, meaning they wouldn’t let the ‘master’ see the pain he was inflicted. For them to scream or cry out in agony meant it was so unbearable that it surpassed their ability to save face. Black men have been holding strong since. They are instructed not to express their emotions but no one tells them that they won’t feel, which is a good thing because they absolutely WILL feel all kinds of shit! You don’t get to tap out of how the reality of some situations makes you feel because you are a man. It doesn’t matter if it’s death of a loved one, stress from work or lack of work or trying to be the best provider possible for your children (which is another set of potential stressful FEELINGS), everybody gets a case of #TheFeels sometimes. Even black men. You can hold it in and pretend to be unbothered but deep down, when something upsets you, that disruption of peace has to be dealt with in some way: art, talking with friends and family, vacation, drugs, killing sprees –

-because what you feel doesn’t just disappear simply because you refuse to appropriately acknowledge it.

While growing black boys are being taught to disregard their feelings, white boys can cry and throw temper tantrums all over the room and the white mother will ignore it and keep it moving. Black mothers halt that crying at the first tear. Many black fathers do as well. We teach young boys (and raise young men who turn into adults) that when you feel like crying, DON’T! When you feel angry, punch something if you need to but don’t whine, bitch, complain, cry, or ‘act like a little bitch;’ suck that shit up and be strong in the face!!!  Who can blame them for the times they choose unhealthy coping mechanisms, and even when they go postal? What else can they do? Even when they come to us as their ‘missing rib’, we (women) demand that they be put together enough to help us deal with our own shit. We need them to be strong, emotionally present but not crybabies, patient, in control of self, mentally healthy, job, house, car, no more than X-Kids (or none), etc… But WHO is being THAT for them? Seriously, who has allowed them to be mentally OK? Who has suggested or given them a healthy outlet for their feelings so that they be whatever it is we as women need them to be for us? Unless they are artists with an actual outlet they’ve tapped into, they are often men with a world of exacerbated endurance inside of them. 

The black man is a threat to this society and his murder is almost always justified unless it’s at the hands of another black man. When that’s the case, as long the murderer is caught, there is hardly a problem with gaining a conviction. If there is anything this system likes more than killing black men, it’s locking them up. 108269216When his death is at the hands of the police or even random, local white citizens, it seems the burden of proof rises and even clear, videotaped evidence isn’t enough to prove an unjustifiable homicide. The death of Alton Sterling was a death we’ve seen far too many times in the last three years alone. With technology continuing to advance and bring us mini-laptops to our fingertips and calling them phones, seeing death in progress is no longer something reserved for those working the crime scene. And black death is trending like tribal print shirts at the Black Expo. If people could wear the body of a dead black man, I have no doubts in my mind they would. They would hang his head above their cherry wood furniture and make a hat out of his locs, while using his skin to create a luxe-high-end leather for shoes and purses.

Oh, black man….you can’t be worn but you can be looped. We are bombarded with images of his death-in-progress that we can rewatch and YouTube as much as our hearts can stand. Major news stations and award-winning journalists use their platforms to showcase his dead body on covers of papers and tv screens while the weather data scrolls beneath his picture.

What's the Difference????
What’s the Difference besides time????

Black death is porn and some of the tabs are: black man death, black woman death, black teenager death, black kids with toys death, black man running away death, black man hands up death, black woman mental illness death and the extra sickening, black couple killed ,  Black couple shot at 137 times deathblack couple w/baby in car death.

As I listened to my brothers and my guy talk, I noticed how the tears alternated from one set of eyes to the next. Some fell, others were stranded on the brinks of their eyes, almost as if afraid to drop. This time, it wasn’t the women who were emotional. It wasn’t about us. As much as it INCLUDES us, it wasn’t about us that night. Our men were scared. They were scared for their sons. Scared to say they were scared. They were scared as and for Black Men. As providers, husbands, sons, companions and fathers. They were scared….AS FUCK. Sure we’ve seen a story similar to Alton Brown’s many times before. It was a bit reminiscent of Eric Garner. But something about this one stung unlike anything else. Something about ALTON hit home with thousands of black men. We always say ‘it could be me/it could be us’, but Alton Sterling put that notion on blast. Watching his son break down in his grief at the press conference was another factor that took it over the edge for most folks. It was direct insight on what grieving children look like.

In the privacy of my house, my guy, and my fam spoke in freestyles and conversation about being blood in the ocean. We didn’t heavily discuss the video and Alton; instead, the conversation lingered on personal uneasiness. One of them shared a video of his son singing the words to Kendrick Lamar’s “We Gon’ Be Alright.”  The room quickly lit up at the young black child who even in his singing is still so oblivious to the destructive nature of this world. It was a piercing reminder of what we stand to lose. It gave the room light yet we all felt the sting of reality: we are blood in an ocean. And maybe there’s a shark in the water.

To be black is to be a threat. A problem. A beast. A monster.

As I stated in one of the other blogs in this series, we aren’t considered human. But the night of Alton Sterling’s death, I sat in my room with my circle, dubbed ‘the circle of light’, and on that day, there was no better place to be than within the presence of friends and God. We took shots to help with numbness. We laughed at silly jokes that went on for longer than they should have. We exhaled together for as long as we could.

But the men that night –

-they seemed out of place despite being in a home where they had always been welcomed. It wasn’t about being at my house; they are out of place in America. CncT1ErWgAAiUbuThe hairs on their arms were sticking up and the red in their eyes painted an obvious story of brotherly grief and close possibilities. You are as close to being Alton Brown as you are black. None of them want to trade places with Alton. Or Philando, who we would all wake up to. They work with the youth, they cut grass, know how to cook and they are all raising sons. They love their women and are involved in the arts, the neighborhood, church and mentoring. All three of them exceed the ceiling white America has placed over their heads. Pillars in the community is an understatement to who they are. They are beautiful black men deserving of life, deserving of love and rightfully, respectfully HUMAN.

It stung me to see them in grief. The body language wasn’t its usually jovial openness despite us managing to have a great time fellowshipping amongst each other. But the low hanging eyes and the wear and tear on their heart was at high visibility. They were saddened for Alton and his family. They hurt for his sons. They feared for their wives.

They cried for themselves. And I hurt deep within for all of us; especially them. The boys who may have been raised to hold their emotions like secrets, who were now sitting with melancholy faces and a hand full of tested faith.

We can march and chant and protest and boycott all we want; none of it effects the racist who’s hand hold a gun pointed a black life that they don’t think matters. What we do when we fight back is to incite concern and change in society…as a whole unit.

But nothing can prevent an individual’s actions except that individual’s conscious. You’ll be hard pressed to find a conscious floating in the sea. So no matter where you go, even if it’s only a mile up the street and back, remember to always take your phone.

Because being black in America is like being blood in the ocean. . .

… you always have to watch your back, your sides, your front AND your people-

because maybe there’s a shark in the water.

…and that’s the scariest part of it all.

 

**NOTE: I would like to challenge us all, especially women, to be a source of Light and comfort for the black men in and around your lives. This is no way gives anyone the permission to mistreat you, mislead you or use you. But as much as we need them to be strong for us, we need to allow them to be vulnerable in front of us.

Broken Jewels: Guest Blog by Tony Styxx

Alone in my room, I could hear the millions of questions my 6yr old daughter asks her grandmother… Some are of food but most are about a game show that has been modernized that her senior still enjoys the nostalgic moments from, answering as if she were a contestant.

Then the channel has a change and a news report speaks of a current movement not seen since a King had a jewel knocked loose from his crown or since a Queen was told to leave her throne. In the walls of my home my 6yr old daughter’s questioned echoed: “Grandma, what do black lives matter mean?”

And in that moment, I was a coward. How could I explain to her that as special as she thinks she is, it means nothing in the eyes of her oppressors???

…That her laugh is only accepted when it is at her expense and that if she is going to take a picture, make sure her ass is out and her head is cocked or they won’t see you. Be caked up in so much makeup you lose your childhood. Dress older than you are, shake your ass, fight your kin and maybe you will be lucky enough to hear them say your name with distaste for its pronunciation. I laid as if postmortem had me in its grasp as I tried to find the courage to tell her she can be whatever she chooses as long as it is socially accepted or can be spun into media gold and used as a conduit to spark taboo debates about her womanhood. [I wanted to say] that you will always be the blame for our heritage’s downfall and that you are fit for pleasure; not happiness. You are only as good as your degree and only as important as their needs.

How do I tell the one I hold the highest, that she is seen as the lowest no matter how tall her spirit may be? That no matter how good she is at behaving in our home and being obedient in school, one day her reward for this kind of integrity might be a beating with white pillows that resemble daddy’s hands. [And] that ebony men will hate you for not submitting to their lack of growth and that women of noir will spite you for being original as if they can’t do the same. That no matter how diplomatic you are, the rest of the world will call you a threat.

You are no equal here.

Her voice haunts my inner sanctum.

“What does black lives matter mean?”

What DOES black lives matter mean?

It means to wear your hair with pride because your bravery should not pay the balance of their inferiority. It means to be as smart as you can and make them keep up. It means to continue dreaming in purple, walking as if rainbows fall at your feet, and keep laughing like the wind whispered a joke from God for only you to enjoy out loud. It means you have the right to be you, with no consequences.

Be thankful if you are slim and smile about your A’s, be it cups or plus. [Black Lives Matter means] a big brain beats a big behind any day. That your southern draw is an extension of your mother and you are the sweetest fruit of her roots. It means you too deserved to be loved by the world for who you are and where you come from; not as a cash cow where culture is the currency for other races who live in debt.

It means to be magic baby!!!

You carry the universe in your Afro puffs, all of Africa in your skin and generations of women weak or strong will watch you take your place in the world of struggle only to emerge a citizen of greatness.

But I speak none of this.

I only come from my door to be greeted by a chestnut grin standing less than 1000 lifetimes from God’s throne. And she says “hi daddy”!

And I cooked up the will to smile back.

I hugged my 6yr old daughter.

…Hoping that even though my words never made it to her ears, my intention made it to her heart.

12010615_10153020728635919_7395422352389503122_o

 

 

 

King.

Black Girl, Magic Crown

Am I my sister’s keeper?

I come from a family of women who, aside from my aunt, held their emotions in like a baby in a bosom. Affectionate language and verbal positive reinforcement werefrowned upon. I struggled with my self-esteem early on.  When I grew out of my tomboy phase, I covered in big coats. My hair was a challenge because it was damaged, so my face was never complimented with anything that made me feel like I stood out. I recently wrote a blog on 3 Books I read growing up, and one of those books was Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. I related to the story’s main character, Pecola Breedlove, an eleven year old black girl who wished for blue eyes in hopes that they would make her beautiful and be reasonably loved.  I thought I was ugly and I remember days when I would take the weave out and cry in the mirror because I couldn’t understand why I looked how I did. I cut all of my hair off in summer of 2009 with the intent of giving it a fresh start. I stopped wearing weave and went natural and when I started to grow my hair back out in 2012, a change began taking place inside of me and had started to beam outwards.

Little bits at a time I started to see someone beautiful. Cutting my hair inadvertently helped me learn to love my face. There was nothing there to cover it up, no hair to drape over one eye and no slick ponytails. I had removed the power my hair had in defining how I saw my reflection. Not because I went natural. Not because I stopped wearing a weave. But because I stopped giving a single f*^ about what people thought about me and what this culture says is beautiful.

Too often in this society, black women are treated in a manner that makes us question everything from our whole existence to our skin tone, hair type and body size. We are constantly being told to reevaluate who we are, how we behave and whether or not we are living up to status quo and deserved of titles such as ‘princess’ and ‘queen’. The disdain is infuriating and honestly, I don’t know which is worse: when it comes from other black women or when it comes from other black men. I recently read a Facebook post that said (paraphrasing) “not every woman is Queen. Some women want to be hoes and you gotta let a hoe be a hoe”. I’m not attempting to counteract the statement because promiscuity is a well-traveled behavior but it certainly isn’t restricted to women. What I’m wondering is why black women get labeled and tossed away like used, damaged goods that can’t be transformed because that’s certainly not what we do with our men. While often times we should, we don’t skip over the drug dealers, the ones with bad relationship history or the ones with multiple children by as many women. We open up, let them in and often to our own detriment we try to show them unconditional love and respect. We stand by them at trials. We fight with stubborn hearts made of gold and glitter speckled hands open and full of mercy as we attempt to show them what life CAN be. We push them to dream bigger. It’s stubborn of us often times. It makes us look silly and stupidity levels may reach high peaks. But our loyalty cannot be challenged. The hoteps challenge it a lot.

But the fact remains, when it comes to our black men, we don’t discard them.

We don’t count them out because they are what we consider a ‘hoe’. #MenCanBeHoesToo

Newsflash guys: no woman WANTS to be a hoe and you don’t have to LET her be one. What you can do is show her something she’s never seen and treat her in a way she’s never been treated. I don’t promise she will know how to respond to genuine love and respect, but worst case scenario, you can teach her a lesson in it. After all, someone taught you one before didn’t they? Didn’t someone love you in all your flaws while you were least deserving of their lack of conditions? Well, it’s time to pay it forward in the name of family. In the name of Black unity.

It’s time to retire the inaction of letting hoes be hoes and start acquiring some balls to figure out how to help her see her light. I won’t even get all into the possible reasons why a woman would be promiscuous but I will mention that April is  National Sexual Abuse Awareness Month.
“No one tells you how to heal/they just say be quiet” ~poem by januarie

Underneath the mask of an easy target, she’s still a fucking woman. She’s a Queen with a misplaced Crown but that’s where those of us on the outside looking in are supposed to step in and help her find it; not write her off and move on a higher pedestal. How about opening her drawers to help locate the Crown instead of pulling down her panties to try to benefit from its absence? Can a hoe be a hoe without some help?

I know we are our brother’s keeper but seriously, who keeps our sisters?? ?

Black women are picked apart and dissected like a living science project and in my opinion, there are not enough people outraged about it.

Any of us could be Lil Kim. Or Nicki Minaj. Or Donda West. Provided the circumstances allowed it financially, many of us would undergo some form of plastic surgery and change something about ourselves. It’s easy to talk about Lil Kim looking like an Asian White woman, but some of our closest friends would lighten their skin if they could. They would get larger breasts, thinner lips and nose jobs. Black women secretly struggle with self-esteem issues from societal conditioning. At the height of my weight gain (200 lbs.), I used to talk to my sister all the time about getting liposuction. It seemed like my best option and the quickest way to regain my lost self-esteem. The only thing that saved me was lacking the disposable income for plastic surgery along with a fear of anesthesia. Lil Kim has been vocal about her struggle with who she saw in the mirror and why. K. Michelle talked about her low self-esteem issues that led to her getting the butt injections  that after awhile, no longer aided to her self-esteem hike, but rather helped it plummet more. She’s since had a reduction. Instead of talking about folks for the pleasure of our own sick laughter, we need to be educating growing girls AND grown women on their true beauty inside and out and asking ourselves if we are building up our sisters or assisting in tearing them down?  Women need empowerment from each other and from our men and for the record, this doesn’t make us weak or challenge our resilience. This makes us human. No one can be strong without suffering a weakness in another area.

Too often I see laughter at the expense of us but not nearly the same amount of fight FOR us.

Piers Morgan recently made the news for his comments on Beyoncé’s Lemonade visual album. While no one is so great that they can’t be criticized CONSTRUCTIVELY, I’m not fully convinced he did ANY album critiquing. Instead, he wrote a letter accusing Beyoncé of pandering for respect as a black woman and activist over being an acceptable musician who’s respected for pretending issues plaguing black women have no psychological effect on her. If you are a black woman, you are affected in some way or another by the lives of other black women near and far. Piers was more comfortable with the quiet Beyonce that tosses on onesies and caters to men while they ogle at her. As long as she’s hitting herself on the head while slumping down and chewing bubblegum while singing “oh boy you looking like you like what you see”, she’s good to be checked upon. But the minute she stands in her blackness, proud, hurt and unafraid to confront the darkness, she becomes a race baiter.

There was one sentence that stood out for me. This is legitimately him critiquing black women as a whole and what he thinks about us. His words stung me as my eyes tiptoed across the screen:

“… I preferred the old Beyonce. The less inflammatory, agitating one. The one who didn’t use grieving mothers to shift records and further fill her already massively enriched purse.The one who didn’t play the race card so deliberately and to my mind, unnecessarily.”  Piers Morgan Lemonade

Before I go any further, just so we’re clear:

In·flam·ma·to·ry

adjective

(Especially of speech or writing) arousing or intended to arouse angry or violent feelings.

Ag·i·tate

verb

Campaign to arouse public concern about an issue in the hope of prompting action.

Piers prefers Beyonce not arouse public concern on the plight of black women. He doesn’t want the fight of the black woman to be immortalized in song and videos and he is disinterested in taking action to rectify our pain. The Great White Hope has fallen off Beyonce’s shoulders and into a cup of white tears. This display is what white folks thought was reserved for the ‘angry, black welfare bitches’ in the hood.

Simply put, Piers, who I’m going to go ahead and let represent white America as a whole, prefers the type of black woman that knows how to take her lemons and STFU about them. How dare Beyonce stop slow stroking white America’s respect lines with beautiful melodies they can cover on Youtube like Halo, and start chanting with her sisters about how Sorry she’s not? Did she dare to start her song with Big Freedia shouting “I CAME TO SLAY BITCH”? Did she have the audacity to shy away from safety nets such as 2007’s “Listen” and trade that in for an ode to strippers (6 Inch)?

You know why Lemonade resonated with so many women? Although I’m sure it being Beyonce makes a difference, it’s bigger than that. It’s because too many silent voices watched their life play out on an HBO premiere. Thousands of melanin clad tears fell from African cheekbones as they relived their secrets and disappointments and their chrysalis while looking in the faces of Sabrina Fulton, Lesley McSpadden and Esaw Garner with the type of empathy that ONLY comes from being black. We collectively smiled at the presence of Blue Ivy, Quvenzhané Wallis, and Zendaya Coleman because they are the very future we are trying to keep protected. They have yet to truly experience how this world will eat up a black girl and spit her back out and hopefully their celebrity status will prevent some of it, but even money can’t prevent it all.

While the conversation lingers on whether or not Lemonade is a scripted hoax or if Jayz really cheated on Beyonce, few are talking about the presence of her father dancing with her daughter. This is the same father that cheated on her mother, got other women pregnant (he’s fathered at least two other children and seems rather blazay on taking care of them), and if I know anything about fathers & daughters, he broke the bond between him & Beyonce. The acts of betrayal we experience are carried in the back of our makeup bags. It’s uncommon that people dig beyond our surface and get to the core of our pain. See for me, this isn’t about ‘Beyonce’ as much as it is about Black women. We are tasked with being responsible for those that hurt us and how we respond to it. If we cuss, we’re angry and if we cry, we’re too weak. Sexual behavior makes us ‘thots’ while independence makes us ‘stuck up’. You gotta let hoes be hoes and no one likes an inflammatory, outspoken black woman!

Do my sisters have any keepers?

This is why it is so important for me to do things and be involved in things that help remind other women of who they are and how beautiful they are. My heart is tasked with bringing my sisters together and empowering them. I see us as rare gemstones with a melanin finish and too often we are misunderstood and not properly cared for. I pray to be blessed with the power of being a Light to my sisters whether we are as close as twin fetuses or complete strangers. I know what living in the darkness is like and while I strive to never return, I refuse to climb further away without reaching out to pull some folks with me. Emotional support is necessary for healing and we are all in need of healing from something. We’ve been molested, raped, left alone and abandoned. We’ve been told we were too dark to be pretty, too light to be acceptable and too neutral to be remembered.

Too nappy to be exotic.

Too fat to be sexy.

Too educated to be down.

Too ghetto to be educated.

Too black to be accepted.

Too sheltered to be respected.

Too empowered. Too radical. Too aggressive. Too strong. Too loud.

Too woman.

Too black woman to be loved.

I see our magic. Our survival skills are unprecedented. We don’t call ourselves queens because it’s cute. It’s because we exude royalty with each breath and if we didn’t adopt such a high level of self-efficacy, our plastic surgery, suicide and depression rates would probably be higher than they currently are. Black women are my heartbeat. I love us dearly, no matter our circumstances or where we are in our individual journeys. Every one of us should have a courtesy crown that they might adorn themselves with at any given moment. We say we are Queens, but how many of us have ever seen ourselves in a Crown? I believe if a black woman sees her face in a crown just once, she’ll never forget it. It will flash when decisions need to be made or pride is low. A Queen doesn’t forget her reflection.

Even in her darkness, she knows she’s magical. And despite what men or other women or society as a whole would have her think, she knows she’s a Queen, with a Crown of royalty.

Am I my sister’s keeper?

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Yes I am,

and the ‘ i ‘ is never silent.

So I present, Black Girl, Magic Crown.

Thank you for reading,

Black Girl Magic Crown (Click link):

https://madmagz.com/magazine/768299

~januarie