Thinking I’m Grown: Shoes (How I Move In The World)

Give a girl the right pair of shoes, and she can conquer the world.” -Bette Midler

I believe this quote with my core self. I believe the right pair of shoes, given the right pair of shoes, a woman can go anywhere and do anything. Especially, if she has more than shoes to open the door.

I’m a tall girl. I have this gift of words and speech. I also know as a Black girl moving through the world with a ‘White girl name’ brings a certain level of privilege and scorn with it. I am grateful for the ability to code-switch. I am grateful for the small privilege being the smart Black girl ‘with the White girl name’ has granted. With that all that said, I know that the right shoes given to a Black girl does three things: lead, follow, kick in a door.

Let me explain how.

Lead. I believe that leaders wear sneakers and stilettos. I believe every arena in this life requires a shoe. You need to be able to transition in order to reach whom your must, where you must and when you must. Not every situation requires Nikes, but it’s good to have a pair. Some people need to identify themselves in the face of the people leading the world. Some people need to see that you need shoes that are durable and comfortable to do not so comfortable work. Like teaching. Or organizing. Or supporting. Or running with the people who cannot run or walk for themselves. Real leadership must be accessible.

Not every situation requires as YSL slingback heel–but it might be dope to have a pair so people hear you coming. There are certain rooms which require you to be similar in order to be noticed—a uniform if you will. There are certain situations in order to be taken seriously, you must be adapt to the requirement of the situation. My sneakers don’t always translate a need or exactly what I bring to the table. Sometimes, to be taken seriously, I change the shoe. Why the shoe? The shoe reshapes the whole outfit! It conveys effort, projects confidence and makes you stand up straight. Leadership requires the ability to read a room in order to get things done as they should be.

Follow. Influential people often leave trails. They leave evidence of success, or failure. If they are exceptional they leave a blueprint as well. They leave you a trail which you are able to follow–but you will need both stamina and bravery to complete such a journey. It’s not about filling shoes, no. One must be able to find and fill their own pair to follow behind. The path towards taking over the world in any arena is not about becoming a carbon copy or imitation. It is about believing in yourself while knowing you are not the bastion of all knowledge! It is about believing in someone else, almost as much as you believe in yourself. You need heroes–not idols. A hero gives space and plans–and idol will never know you are there. Choose wisely.

Kick In A Door. The right shoes have allowed me to kick in doors which I may not truly be able to stay in. I have been organizer and worker, and mogul and director. I have been the one advocating for someone else, making space for another while the same not being done for me. I understand in those acts, at this point, I must be able to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in order to do what must be done. I have to lead by example while tempering ambition with patience. I am learning to be gracious in all things, and loud when needed. Some people hate to see you, but cannot ignore the sound of you coming. As I kick in doors, I bring people with me! I learn and build as a climb. I network. I serve. I direct. And most importantly, I remember.

I remember I have not made it to this point alone, and will never be alone. I have learned that “No” is never a final answer, it requires a different approach. It sometimes helps to remember if there is a door which won’t open for you, build you own. You cannot–I cannot–be afraid to either fail, or try. I have enough moxie to know I ain’t about to stop…so I will not fail. Psalms 46:5 says so.

Thinking I’m Grown: Pants (Fashion & Style)


My mother loves shoes.

I, being my mother’s daughter, loves shoes. And bags. I really love bags. I remember my first purse! It was this small canvas bag (a cross-body bag, as the kids would say now) with a rainbow strap. I was 5-years-old. I remember being fascinated by how my mother and aunts transformed from just ‘being in the house’ to how they went outside into the world.

I loved playing in my mother’s heels. I loved playing in her makeup to my own detriment sometimes. I also remember being so mad at my Aunt Linda I put water in her eye shadow and ruined it. Her son, my cousin saw me and I never did that again. Trust, she made sure I wouldn’t.

The thing that made me love fashion though–magazines, Different World, Family Matters and the Grande Dame of 1990’s television, Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies). Now, remember–I’m an 80’s baby! I remember when what is known now as ‘hip-hop fashion’ became more mainstream. I remember wanting to go to FIT because Lisa Turtle was going! I remember looking at the girls who looked like me in Essence, Word Up!, Hip- Hop Beat magazine and wanted to dress like the girls I saw.

I wanted the Tommy Hilfiger Coat, and Nautica jacket and the door knocker earrings. Yet, I had the parents that didn’t let me really have all that. But the good thing is I still had Kim from Different World, and Laura Winslow from Family Matters. And My So-Called Life (young Jared Leto was–ooh, Lord!) made me wish I was a high school sophomore as an 8th grader so I could dye my hair red.

It was 8th grade where I started to put this thing called a style together. Aside from writing, fashion gave me a place to be creative. It gave me a place to make my way in the world–always a wonderful thing. I mean, I wore short and tights together because I saw Laura Winslow and Clarissa Darling from Clarissa Explains It All do it! And when Clueless came out? YAS! I started wearing heels and jeans since I had seen Clueless and My So-Called Life. I mean, it was the mid-1990’s! As Black girl going to public school, you really couldn’t veer too far left or right–but I did. And I have had heels ever since. My go to look before kids involved these things: heels, jeans, a tee and earrings.

Fashion was a my safe place! And makeup and outlet! It was Junior and Senior year of high school where I started to become more confident in what I wanted. This is when deliA’s was still a cool place for girls of my era to shop at (Thank’s Sassy/JANE Magazine!). I wasn’t so concerned about something having a label. I was more concerned about it looking cool. Flat out!

It was after high school, when I really got into make-up. This is where getting ready to go somewhere became an event. Getting ready was an event–just like it was when my mother got ready. I started to get my nails done in a salon when I was 19, and it was on from there! I felt elegant, moreso. To this day, there is something about a full set of nails and a bomb outfit with my hoop earrings which make me feel like I am so unstoppable!

I think once a Black girl begins to develop her own style, it’s like opening a treasure chest. There are features of your own physical form you saw in younger pictures of your mother, grandmother or aunts. It’s like going into a time machine! I remember when wide-leg jeans were in fashion: my mom told me that they reminded her of bell bottoms. My Aunt Linda told me they were bell bottoms ‘they used to wear.’ From the jeans, came the hats, and from the hats, the bags. From there, my mom reminded me of my ‘cute Easter dresses’. I remember how pretty I felt being that dolled up for the holiday. Yes, the shoes had always been a staple.

I found out my mom loves scarves and big earrings. I found out that my Aunt Valarie thinks that every woman needs a signature lipstick. I found out that my mother is a fan of Estee Lauder: White Linen in the Spring and Summer; Beautiful in the Fall and Winter. “Every woman needs a signature scent, Jennifer.” And after a few trial and error, I have 3 actually.

Naked by URBAN DECAY.
Gucci Guilty.
Yellow Diamonds by VERSACE.

Fashion for me was expression of the highest sort. Finding more and more of myself every time I found myself liking a shoe, or a bag, or wanted to change my hair. I found out my grandmother didn’t get her first pair of hosiery till she was in her twenties–yet, my mother made sure when I wore dresses or skirts I had slips and ‘stockings (the old school word for ‘pantyhose’ or ‘hosiery’).

The beautiful thing is now, I get to give that same energy and gift of discovery to my daughters. My youngest already loves shoes. Especially, my heels.

[Image by Typorama]

Thinking I’m Grown: Chest (My Body & How I Accept It)

Terry Lee Laney, Junior, the cousin of this girl with the longest name I knew as a 10-year-old, Sandranita Carson, was the first boy to tell me I was flat-chested. There are dynamics that come in with fifth grade I believe that set the stage for how you will handle transitions anywhere else in this life: differences will always get you seen. It was in Ms. Grant’s fifth grade classroom in Lowell Elementary School that I knew one thing–boys like breasts. Some boy would always be looking at my chest. Why? I was yet to find out. But his cousin, the girl with the longest name that I will ever know at age 10? She was about a C-D cup then! When I was a 10-year-old girl, it wasn’t odd; I knew what breasts were. And I also knew those were things I didn’t have.

I didn’t develop any sort of ‘thickness’ as the kids call it now until I was in my late teens-early twenties. And when I had my first child? That’s when everything began to fill in and round out! I mean I could were the dresses I wanted and there be something there to put in it. I mean, I had no idea how to embrace my body before–so to add childbirth to it?! I was not this vixen I wanted to be.

My favorite aunt, Linda, told me “All you had all your life was legs and ass.” Well, these are facts. Big facts, really. But I had always wanted the hour-glass Mae West figure. I wanted that visible sex appeal–I wanted to be what I told one suitor ‘the waking wet dream.’ But to get there? To get to the point I could own I was sexy–not just beautiful, but sexy–that took for real time. This took embracing ever part of my form and realizing if I never got another thing added to me, I was sexy. I was able to call myself beautiful. I was desirable–and nothing was wrong with me! I was worthy of a healthy relationship. I was worthy of being intimate with a man and get pleasure for those experiences.

I had to determine how I accepted my own body could not be dependent on how the world saw my body. I had to start to love me. I had to love me beyond being funny, or smart or being compassionate. All these things are good, yes. I am glad all these qualities are present inside me to be given to the world. But that self-love–that embracing my own thighs, legs, lips and eyes with everything in the middle? That hit different, fam. Besides, from my personal list? I’ve never had any complaints…

Why James Baldwin Was Right… About Everything

Author note:  I will be mentioning the N-word in conjunction to my own deciphering of James Baldwin’s words.


Here lately, I thought (read: meditated, studied, ruminated) on every quote, and damn near everything I have ever known or read about James Arthur Baldwin. I find myself referring to him as I do along with my favorite scriptures. I find myself in my dark, artistic places thinking “What would my Father Oracle say?” I find myself thinking in matters of social change, marcolevel crazy, and crippling self-doubt repeating that question.

In this era of COVID-19, neo-fascism disguised as conservative Christianity, and the utter, rampant erasure of anything Black, I have begun to be a more adamant student of Baldwin. His work having a new power, necessary in the time we live in. The thing I feel more adamant about as I have looked at his work is the concept of White American ‘needing a nigger.’  Now, if you are familiar with Baldwin, even on a casual basis or knowledge, you know how he has felt about this word, as well as it’s application to his life. Don’t believe me? Look at this quote (from brooklynrail.org):

“Another important record of Baldwin on film, a particular scene in Hammer is singular in its emotional and metaphysical clarity: Baldwin, seated, dressed in white, a kerchief tied carefully around his neck, considers the existential roots “of something in this country called the nigger.” He continues that he had to know early in life that what was being described had nothing to do with him. He knew, he insists, despite all that had been done to him, that “what you were describing was not me.” If it is true, as Baldwin began, that “what you say about me reveals you,” and since “you” had invented this figure and felt the need to invest black people with all those sedimented associations then, Baldwin argues, you are in fact the nigger…”


Think about this!


This word, which has been used to dehumanize, murder, oppress and dispossess an entire race of people–because it is a social construct! A construct needed by a certain class of people whom have no other power to change their lives, take responsibility for problems they have causes, and believe that to oppress another person–making them the consistent scapegoat–is needed. This is how white supremacy continues to reproduce–powered by this lie!

It is the lie of superiority of white folk over everything which needs a ‘nigger’ to feel powerful. To feel righteous, and worthy. Just like Coretta Scott King said freedom has be won in every generation, white supremacy must be retaught and reinforced with every generation! As Baldwin said often through his life that he was a man–never a ‘nigger’! What a powerful think to understand! What a powerful thing to reveal! What a think to remember!

You have to know that what Baldwin spoke about in the movie I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, is/was a foreshadowing of what you are seeing now! This country needs ‘niggers’ because it thrives on power and usurpation! It needs a vulnerable, non-human subclass to subjugate in order to feel superior! In order consolidate resources and wealth! This is not a new tacti, Oracles! To name something is to control it, is to rule it is to declare authority over it! Why do you think now is when we see this resurgence of behavior our grandparents saw!  Niggers are not entitled to equality, fairness or the pursuit of happiness.

Niggers are not people. Catch that. Ergo, as a person, you are entitled to all of these things! And those whom subscribe to white supremacy and the romantic notion of power, need to feel superior to someone else–because they have no other power to assert or wield! And therein lies the struggle.

When I ruminate on this, I have to remember that I, too, am not a nigger! Neither are my children. Neither are any of the beautiful Black folk I know. And to have the words of Baldwin shore me up, reminding of my value, my power and need to be in the world? I can go on.

In the face of COVID-19, the protesting of folk whom don’t wanna stay inside, incompetent leadership, and trolls believing in themselves so tough they carry guns to state capitals, who spit that name at me as if I will break about it? Nah, son. I say, with my hoop earrings, mask and afro, and say, “You’re the nigger baby, not me!”


























Thinking I’m Grown: Shoulders (How I Stand)

I remember the first time where I realized I was tall. Like, when I knew I was tall. Oddly, I was never thee tallest girl in my class! The most uncomfortable thing about being tall was that people were always looking at me. Being soft spoken on top that? I was a magnet for bullying when I got to middle school and high school.

I was more awkward than the Awkward Black Girl the brilliant Issa Rae says she was! I mean I stuck out everywhere! Being a tall girl, with unmanagable hair and glasses didn’t make me forgettable from 6th through 8th grade. I had bigger things to worry about (back then) than fashion and hair! The fact is, I was over or about 5 feet tall in 5th grade. By the time I graduated high school, I was 5’10”.

The other thing that made me so much more self-conscious was the fact I had excema. This means I have sensitive skin, and it is prone to rashes. What I learned later in my teenage years was the condition is aggravated by heat and stress. I had rashes on my body in some form or another on my body from the time I was 5 or 6.

I never felt totally comfortable in my skin. I never felt good enough to truly only my body as it was–flaws and all. And when I began to? I was told the good and better thing to do would be to cover up. I was told that showing off my body (at the time mid-drift shirts had come back into fashion), was not the thing to do. Ergo, ‘only fast girls where things like that.’ Even when I began to go out clubbing and dating, I didn’t wear a lot of revealing clothes! Not that I was a prude with no fashion sense, I wasn’t comfortable–in my own skin, or showing it another.

In being a mother now, I have had to subdue that fear. I had to be able to be confident in myself in order to give the same confidence to my children–namely daughters. I had to realize the mean comments told to me by meaner children, and uglier boys was had to be uprooted. I had to remember that children are children, and children are mean in certain contexts or situations. I remember there was a boy named, Jarron, during my Junior year of high school that called me ugly in the hallway. I remembered this other boy named Tony that called the ‘fashion police’ on me because of an outfit I wore and followed me up the breezeway, pretending to be a siren behind me.

Looking back at this through the vantage point of over 20 years, I can see how dumb these little dusty boys were! I can see how people whom have nothing else to do or which will await them in life, will try to hurt everyone else around them. As they do so, they will think nothing of it. Yet, these are the same people whom will try and friend you on Facebook, or see you at the high school reunion and think nothing of speaking to you. Why? They will claim “That was so long ago! I don’t even think about it!”

Must be nice, I suppose. What you did to someone being ‘funny’ causes someone to kill themselves or withdraw, and then you think nothing about it? It is those experiences also which allowed to keep my friendship circle small, and enjoy my own company.

What being tall, being a target and being awkward taught me radical empathy. It taught me to be patient, and value real friendship. It taught me to stop slouching, especially when it came to my Senior year. It allowed me to think beyond the ‘4 best years of my life.’ This situation, in this body, allowed me to stand up for myself as well–and making my space hard to get into.

[image Typorama]

For The Superhero, Yamiche Alcindor

WeLoveYamiche Trends After Donald Trump Accuses Reporter of Asking ...
I love this woman. I love her like I love ‘Auntie’ April D. Ryan.
#BlackWomanJournalistMatter

When I began to follow Yamiche Alcindor a couple years ago via MSNBC, I loved her swag. I loved how she couldn’t be rattled, her make-up was always together, and there was a roar in her voice! That roar was distinct, and clear and rang of “but when you get through, I still said what I said!”

I love Yamiche!

This week? This week right here? This week made me love her all the more. When she stood up in that South Lawn and confronted The Orange Idiot about his shenanigans as it related to this COVID-19 situation? I shouted in my WHOLE writer self! I felt all the ancestors as she kept asking her question! Everytime she opened her mouth and said, “My question is,” “…but my question is,” “My question is…”

He tried to over talk her. Didn’t work.

He tried to belittle what she did. Didn’t work.

He tried to gaslight her, saying he was doing a good job and she needed to be nice to her. She still called him on his madness! It was glorious! It strenghtened me! And it made me love her so much more!

I am all the way here and PARALLEL PARK for Yamiche Alcindor!

Reporter Yamiche Alcindor reacts to Trump's 'nasty' comment
Ha ha! Get him sis!

I know this man hates women. He hates women he cannot buy. He hates women that are competent and clothed! He hates strong women –and hates to be questioned. Yamiche, in all her Black girl roar and splendor, told his man, “But when you get through, my question is!” Most insecure men whom are empowered by evil systems of government (i.e. toxic patriarchy, white supremacy, racism, bigotry) hate women whom are able to be in a position to question anything! Have y’all seen the Handmaiden’s Tale?!

This exchange she had with this Naked Emperor, proved just that. And it proved just how powerful women in spheres of influence are! She proved that bigots can’t own what they do, and they hate being questioned, confronted, neither can they be expected to be honest! I am here for Yamiche. HERE FOR HER!

In a poem that I wrote 3 years ago, I wrote the phrase ‘I am she, She are we.’ The phrase has not been more apparent than it is right now. In the lives of the women I see moving, doing, and shaking in media:

Jemelle Hill.

April D. Ryan.

Yamiche Alcindor.

I am grateful that this Black Girl Magic is transferable. It is ancestral. It is potent and unstoppable. I need Yamiche to keep going, I need her to remember she is a whole locomotive powered by the Almighty whom gave us Ida Bell Wells Barnett, Shirley Chisolm, Corretta Scott King, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Lorriane Hansberry, and every other female writer/journalist/activist whom was appointed for just such a time as this.

Yamiche, with this exhange, is the manifestation of Nikki Giovanni quote: If the Black women wasn’t born, she’d have to be invented.” When you get done, we are still here–immovable like tree roots, still and deep as ocean water. There wasn’t a time where a Black woman wasn’t involved in something great, in a turbulent time, or called upon to be She-Ra if she wasn’t one already! Yet, if she needs it–she can exhale, knowing her help is coming.

And is already here.

Get ’em Yamiche!

2020 Black History Contest- ‘I Am Black History’

Image result for black history month

I am overjoyed to the announce the first annual I AM BLACK HISTORY Essay Contest!

The contest is open to 13-17-year olds, with the submission date opening February 3, 2020, and deadline being February 25, 2020 at 11:59 PM CST. Here is your theme:

Black history is on-going:  future and past. Describe a person (living or dead) or a movement within Black History that you admire or identify with (i.e., Ida B. Wells Barnett as an admired person; The Harlem Renaissance as a movement; resistance against apartheid in South Africa as a movement) and why. 

 

Here are the criteria:

-Essay should be between 2-4 pages (this is roughly 500-1000 words)

-Must be typed, double spaced, written in Microsoft Word.

One entry per child.

-All entries need to have name and contact information in the body of the email.

 

Now, the good part. The prizes:

First Prize:  $75 Amazon Gift Card

Second Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card

Third Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card

 

Entries should be mailed to iamblackhistory.ibf@gmail.com.

Winners will have their essays posted on the I Breathe Fire site, and read on the The Writers’ Block Podcast.  Decisions will be made on February 28, 2020. Winners will be notified through email (please make sure you have correct email address listed!). Gift cards will be sent via email on March 1, 2020.

Good Luck!

The Matter of Blue Ivy Carter

Before anything else, I need y’all to understand she is a Black girl. And I will not tolerate any disrespect or denigration to her or her mother, or her father. You will be put off this site. -JBH

Image result for blue ivy carter

I have never understood why the world hated this little girl so much. I mean to the point that the world had something to say even about how her mother styled her hair. I have never, ever understood that.

I, having grown up as an ABG (Awkward Black Girl), I was teased for being smart, tall, too Black, too quiet–everything. And that type of thing is not easily conquered (that God for these 26 letters–they have been salvation more than once). But as it relates to Blue, Shawn and Beyonce’s daughter, the world cannot seem to shake the expected aesthetic it wants for this child.

Enter the fetishism of Black women and girls.

As of this month, Blue Ivy Carter is 8. She’s eight.  I have stayed away from this internet debacle because I thought is drivel and stupid! The ability for a Black girl to be aesthetically pleasing to the world around her allows her safe passage through it. What does this mean you ask? If so, I am so glad you did.

The world does not like when the monolith it constructs for Black women and girls is challenged. It does not like to be both sientent and flexible. As Dr. Brittney Cooper says in her book Eloquent Rage, “Sass is an acceptable form of rage.” The world loves to see us either as model gorgeous like Iman (whom is riding age like nothing known of this world) or like Fannie Lou Hamer. There is no space to differentiate. No space to just be–you are constantly picked at, prodded and told with a smiles on faces exactly what you are not. Or can ever hope to be.

Blue, sadly, is not an exception to this.

Image result for blue ivy carter

The thing I hope, the thing that grants me such a hope, is the fact her mother and father know exactly who they are–and will not allow her to be anything less than what she is. In a side by side comparison, she looks like her mother–as most daughters do. How dare Blue’s genetics not make her a pretty Octoroon or gazelleesque Creole Barbie? How dare Blue’s genetics produce a phenotype that look like her father first!

To me, I think that’s who she looked like first–and now she looks more like her mother.

From her hair, to how she dressed to how she looked–the world had something to say. Only now, is that beginning to calm down. That calm, quite frankly, is unsettling to me. It’s almost like the wolves have gone further down the path, waiting for her to turn 15, 16–that’s when the extra lewd, trifling comments will come. On queue.

Ask me how I know.

But the difference between myself, my daughters and Beyonce and hers are exposure, visibility and money. I am of the insistent persuasion that raising a child, whom navigates this world as Black and female, is to have a hypervigilance paired with a empathetic compassion.

You have to both shield, protect all while you equip her to deal with a world that may never accept her as she is–and be okay with that. That is hard. I cannot imagine how had that is when you have cameras, bodyguards and the paparazzi is a daily an occurrence as pouring cereal.

Let Blue be. Just let her be.

Her parents allow her to be seen when they want her to be seen. They understand their role as parent and protector. They also understand (or should understand) that precarious position of being uber-visible in and around Black culture:  everything they do is monitored or scrutinized. Including the kids.  What I love, what grants me hope, is they give and have given her space to be herself. She has space to grow, and do, and be and it is glorious. They are raising her, and radically loving her. These elements will ensure Blue will have a sense of self that is not determined by likes, shares or other articles shared on blogs or other social media platforms.

In 2020, can we resolve to love all Black girls the same way? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[first image from PageSix.com, second from eonline.com]

Of Course ‘They’ Snubbed Beyonce! And Here Is Why.

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Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is becoming a force of nature, with her Sara Baartman hips. From a pretty young woman with this power in her throat and heart, to this dynamic, sentient, vibrant, and culturally aware and present Black woman. Isn’t this what an icon is supposed to be –and become?

I have watched her progression from Destiny’s Child to her own grown woman. While not signing on or applying to the Beyhive, but I do work PRN for it. I have cheered her, been a Stan of hers–officially–after the release of Lemonade. After the experience of listening to Lemonade.

There was a pure pride I carried for her. Not a worship, not a reverence. But a pride. The same pride I felt when I learned that Cleopatra was Black. That Queen Nzinga was not a figure of my imagination. That Queen Hatshepsut became a Pharaoh due to sheer wit and brilliance. It was a sense of knowing there is a woman who looked like me–not bound by narrow societal imagination.

Although she wears the privilege granted to the beautiful, the cis-het and wealthy, Beyoncé is still a Black woman in an industry dominated by White men. The people that create award shows like the Emmys and Academy Awards, do not resemble the men that look like Beyoncé’s father.

For all her achievements, all her influence, for as far as her reach, she is still a Black woman. Playing a rich, White man’s game–laced with avarice and malice. Which chokes out love.

Knowing this, I am not surprised she was snubbed for an Emmy this hear. I am not, was not, shocked when she lost the Grammy for album of the year to Adele!

For all her power, the industry fears her. Those she inspires behind her. They fear her.

This light-skinned, country-talking, beautiful Black woman, descended from slaves, Texas plantation soil and Louisiana Creoles–is one of the most influential Black women in history.

In. History.

And money has not taken her Blackness. It has not refined her speech, vision or daily reminder that she is both Black and woman.

Why would the owners of the master narrative acknowledge such an accomplishment? The fierce representation and preservation of culture!

Why would the master acknowledge the slave?

The worlds and spheres Beyoncé’s inhabits, that she orbits, she spins, are still determined to remind her of limitations. Her weaknesses. How Black everything about her is, and how detrimental Black motherhood and mogul persists are!

How acknowledgment is equivalent achievement. That should be good enough.

Separate, but equal.

In the face of that, Beyoncé still creates. She still makes space. She now Mama and Nala and the creative power of The Gift. This is the resilience of Black women. The wisdom of the artist is what James Baldwin admonishes: “The goal of the artist is to disturb the peace.”

The wealth and worth of an artist is, nor will ever be, measured by people to whom they differ. The value of their work will not be held on the high esteem of people–haters and critics–insistent on ignoring it.

The wealth and worth of artists is most often awarded through the grace of time. The earnest nature of creativity. Through harsh critique becoming acknowledgement. As it was said by John Wilmot, the brilliant (and debauched) Second Earl Of Rochester in the movie The Libertine (portrayed by Johnny Depp):

“Your critics will come in two forms. The stupid and the envious. The stupid will love you in five years. The envious never will.”

Let time factor which we all will become.

[images from Netflix, Apple Music and Pinterest]

They Didn’t Hire Me To Entertain The Staff.

Despite what the reading public thinks or says, I’m an introvert. I like to be left alone, I like quiet, and people are taxing. This doesn’t mean I’m sociopathic, or people-hating or even unapproachable! I grew up as a shy, quiet Black girl in a family of loud people. My quiet nature led to me being shy–which is not an asset in a public school.

I learned to be loud, and vocal–just like I learned to write. I learned that as a quiet, introverted kid, I needed to have a loud persona.

But then came life after high school. There was this unspokenness around me when I entered college. The school I was at (the now closed Deaconess College of Nursing) was predominately White. My high school was predominately Black. So, I really didn’t know how or where I fit in at.

But what I did notice was my White cohort thought I was unapproachable when I was quiet. Thought I was mean when I spoke my mind and needed my banter to feel comfortable. Even on some jobs that I have worked, I have noticed the same thing! When I’m quiet and doing my job, I am seen as someone worthy to be suspicious of. I’m legit just working.

But, when I am more open, soft-spoken and quiet at certain intervals, then I’m seen as a team-player, consistent in my work, and easy to work with. That is my personal favorite.

(Thee personification of my silent rage.)

When I came across this article on BESE.com by Sequoia Holmes, I rejoiced. Every woman in me, lived before me who had taught those women, telling them to hold on for me, screamed.

Can I not just come to work, make this money and leave?! Please?! Damn!

But I know that predominately White places police anything and everything which isn’t White, or White and male! From the names on resumes, to if you bring a dish to the office party or participate in Secret Santa. You are consistently monitored to see just what kind of Black girl you are.

If you don’t play the role of a Mammie or a Sapphire, then you have become identified as a problem. White America loves sexy, sassy, loud Black girls! Introverted Black girls need not apply.

Let me help the White folks you work with right quick:

The powers that be did not hire me to entertain you. They don’t pay me enough to banter with you, make up nicknames for you or teach you how to twerk. Don’t touch my hair when I change it. If my door is closed to my office do not knock. I meant to close it, I do not care what y’all are getting for lunch. You slick wanna see what I’m doing. If I am at my cubicle working quiet, that means I am doing just that.

I’m minding my business.

You should try it.

Black women have to be and do so many things just I have peace walking through the world! This none so apparent as when we work in predominantly White spaces. It is tiring: enter code switching, shifting and have a persona you put on from the moment you darken the door in the morning.

You cannot just go to work and be left alone–because introverts need to recharge from people. It’s just how we are wired. But Black girls are expected to be on in order to have some peace at work.

At work.

My job is to do what my job requirements are, and no more. Not every Black girl is Tiffany Haddish or desires to be! Not every Black girl dances or watches Scandal or Power. I don’t have to placate your expectation about being Black people to be seen as valuable to a company.

The same respect you give to David who never opens his office door until he leaves, to Becky that brings her cat pictures to work because it soothes her, is the same respect I need when I come in and sit at my desk to answer emails.

Let me be Black and remain employed.

Thank you.