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.

The Plucking & Planting Of Strange Fruit

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At the time of this posting, Michael Brown, Sr. called for the current St. Louis County Prosecutor, Wesley Bell, to reopen this case. Read more about that here

 

I have lived in St. Louis Metropolitan area for the greater part of my life. When Michael Brown, Jr. was murdered by Darren Wilson–five years ago yesterday–there was no part of me that questioned why he killed him. None!

I have seen first hand how and why the police departments in St. Louis City and County treat Black people, and people of color. I have seen how police officers were used, are used to intimidate, corral, and control Black people and people of color! I have seen White officers in Black neighborhoods, and never felt protected.  I have seen the extent police officers in this region will reach to in order to protect their own. Or, when they must control the social narrative.

I have seen the farce that is Blue Lives Matter. The flag is toliet paper. Tell a friend.

When Wesley Bell won this election last year against Robert ‘Bob’ McColloch, my heart was overwhelmed. But, I had no peace. I had no peace because this is, still is, Missouri–or as some people refer to it as Mississippi North. There are still towns in this state I do not feel comfortable driving in, through or towards because of the general feeling of distrust, fear and unease! The fact is, this police officer killed this young man. He killed him because pro-police culture, city government indifference, and the fact Bob McCulloch’s father was supposedly killed on duty–by a Black man no less? Oh, why would Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department with White police chief Tom Jackson, with County Prosecutor McCulloch in office not think he would be protected?

As it was with the first chattel slaves beaten on whims; to slaves raped and murdered; to slave patrols and klansmen whom have day jobs as law enforcement, murder of Black men by nefarious men with social clout is not new! Police officers are not an endangered, as the token Black pundit, Candace Owens, is paid to say. The lies police officers tell to control the narrative are endangered! The worship of law enforcement as an unquestionable entity is endangered!

Police are being questioned, and people are not liking their answers. People are questioning the merit, skillsets and honor of those called to protect and serve:  who do neither!

I am not shocked that Ferguson exploded. It was time. It has been time. I regret the circumstances. I regret the fires. I regret the loss of faith in the police. But I do not regret being angry! I do not regret being vocal, for marching or for being on the ground! I do not telling a White woman in Webster Groves, Missouri this:

“Wait until they kill your son! You have no problems, ma’am. You wake White ma’am! You wake White!”

I make no apologies for being angry.

This young man was old enough to be my brother. Or son! As a mother, I could never have sat in the house as this unfolded around me and my surrounding community. We have every right as a people to be enraged! We are no longer pleading for attention, and sometimes a riot is the best way to let people know you are no longer playing with them!

It is not longer okay to kill men, women and children whom are Black and think no one is going to say something! We are tired of seeing our children become ancestors due to the zeal and impunity of badged Reapers! The police are not the keepers of a city–the people are.

I want Wesley Bell to reopen this case. I want to know exactly what Bob McCulloch told the grand jury that made them think this was okay; why he never challenged Darren Wilson on the lies he told; I want him to slap Tom Jackson with the things he hates:  facts. I want the lawyers that lied for McCulloch to be disbarred!

I want the wrath of the law to be felt by the powerful! What better way to demonstrate that power than to confront a chief tenet of white supremacy:  police officers. You cannot kill with impunity. You cannot serve at convenience. Protection does not make exemptions for race, and Blue lives don’t exist.

If your protection and service are steeped in racism, which dehumanizes me or invalidates my life along with those I love, a riot should be the least of your worries.

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I Thought About Buying A Bulletproof Backpack For My Sixth Grade Daughter.

 

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*This cheery backpack is available on Amazon for $223.95. It is available for Amazon Prime shipping. You’re welcome.

 

I had a two month fight with my husband about why our almost 12-year-old daughter needed a cell phone.

I will be honest, I didn’t want to weigh in about this. I really did not. I wanted to glaze over this, and let someone else speak about this topic. However, when I come across things that are uncomfortable*? I am going to write about it anyway.

As I have said before, I am of that dubious class of 1999. I was in my Spanish III class when the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO happened. I remember watching the news my Senior year at Jennings Senior High on April 20th. As a 17-year-old kid, I couldn’t/didn’t know how to process what the hell I was seeing! If I’m honest, my mother didn’t have time or the vernacular to tell me about her concerns. Meanwhile, I had a sister whom was a high school Freshman, and a brother that was in sixth-grade.

My! Look how life comes full circle.

My oldest daughter is now in sixth grade, and I am twenty years out of the halls of Jennings Senior High School. Since my graduation a score ago, there have been so many more school shootings…and the most devastating one was at Sandy Hook Elementary. Adam Lanza killed what is equivalent to a classroom full of children.

Children, who now in some cases, are old enough to be my children’s age.

In the rush, with the rush as most parents are familiar with, we are in the thick of getting things ready for them to go to school. This means we are getting all the things on these exorbitant  lists so the kids can have all they need. The one thing we have always done for our kids is let them pick their own backpacks. 

The can be as plain or outrageous as they want! This year as we finished shopping, I thought about the backpacks that are $200. They are $200 because they are bulletproof. That word ‘bulletproof’ was bitter in my mouth, and drying to my throat! I thought for a moment about getting my children one. I truly did, and still am.

One of my jobs as a parent, as a mother is to protect my children. I’m a Mama Bear! I have to and always will take care of my Baby Bears! In conjunction with thinking of buying this backpack which is the equivalent of a cell phone bill (or half a car payment), I thought of getting her a phone.

My husband said she was ‘too young’. But I told him this:

“She’s about to be 12. The world is crazy!”

 

The world is crazy.

It shook me how a cell phone was a luxury when I was in high school, to a necessity before she can get high school! I was struck that I had to argue with him about it! This is the reality of the world we currently live in. And it made me so scared for her, and my younger daughter. As a mother, I have to deflect or subvert those types of fears. But this one was persistent!

My dark fear is my babies not coming home to me because someone had a bad day.  If someone is mad their sibling is dating interracially. If they feel that there weren’t enough girls that like them. If they lost their job to someone that didn’t look like them! My fear is my babies being okay! Or being able to tell me they are okay if they are huddled in a bathroom because a monster has an assault rifle!

If a $200 backpack or an iPhone will alleviate that stress? And protect them? So be it.

 

This is parenting in the new millennium in America.

 

Break The Cycle, Not The Girl.

 

Earlier this year, I did a miniseries about calling girls, especially Black girls, fast. Click here for that. In this series, I pull no punches. I was as honest as I knew to be. From that honesty, I break down what it means to call a girl fast. From that wisdom, I am enraged at this story.

Not only did her father catch her having sex.

Not only is she 12, and was having sex.

Her father, took a belt, beat her in front of the entire world.

And the story is from the vantage point of how he punished her.

How he punished her?!

See. Therein lies the problem. We have to be able to challenge crazy., toxic behavior. Should this young girl have had sex so young? No. But her father should never have done this to her. This is abuse. It is not discipline. This is not any form of love. I will not suffer to debate that more.

I remember being 10, and I called a boy on the phone. For record this was a boy I knew, and my parents knew. And I consider him my childhood sweetheart. I remember the summer I turned 11 that my parents (mother and father now) spanked me because I called him. But they said I got spanked because I lied about calling him–when I wasn’t ‘old enough’ to call or talk to boys. They spanked me over the course of two days. What did it teach me?

1-My parents were unreasonable.

2-I had to become sneaky to do what I wanted because they wouldn’t let me do anything.

 

What did spanking her teach her? That her body was dirty? She wasn’t worthy to be protected? I doubt it. What spanking her supposed to teach her that her body was property? I am confused what the added element of putting everything online was supposed to do? If he is to truly care and protect his daughter, this could have been handled better. Put the boy out, yes. But talk to her.

TALK.

That thing parents, especially some Black parents, don’t want to do. I have had my mother tell me that I ‘talk’ to much to my kids. I talk to them, so they can get used to talking. So they get used their mother listening to them–rather than yelling. So they can get used to saying what is wrong rather than hiding, lying or thinking they can’t come to me. I never want my children to only remember how I yelled and never listened. I had to catch myself before I called my 11-year-old daughter fast once.

She is 11. And tall. And doesn’t look her age. And she was wearing a dress that showed off things Black girls are taught to cover. If I had called her fast, my own daughter, it would be the equivalent of calling her a whore. No! I will not do that to her.

This story should be the start of conversations. This man needs to be told this not how you raise daughters! This is not how you handle this! You do not reprimand a Black child like this. The cycle of policing the bodies of Black women and girls through violence must end.

While people are talking about how he hit her with this belt, I am wondering what happened to this child once the video ended. I want to know was she left in this room in tears, hurt, confused and bleeding–with only half of an idea why.  This has to end. The toxicity ends when we give onus to both parties involved in this situation!

Beating her won’t keep her a virgin, sir. But it will push her from you. When there comes a time she will need you, where she is drowning, she will not reach. She will remember this, and die in whatever she is in. Why? She will fear the outcome more than the rescue.

{image screenshot from author’s timeline]

Life Ain’t Been No Crystal Stair

This photo came through my personal Facebook timeline this morning. I remember watching the verdict for the man that murdered Trayvon Martin with my new husband in my college apartment in 2013. I remember I had my hoodie on and cried. I remember how we sat there, him on the sofa and I couch and watched.

I remember how I wouldn’t feel that same level of rage until Michael Brown, Jr. was murdered one summer later.

My father was over six foot tall and ebony dark. He told my cousins the best way not to get stopped by the police was to not wear baggy clothes or hoodies. But, because I am a child of the hip-hop phenomena, I always wore hoodies. But, in baggy clothes, you wouldn’t know I was female unless you knew. Meaning, there would be something about my countenance or mannerism that would suggest I was female.

That being said, in the 6 years that have passed since Trayvon’s murder, my heart today is sad. Yet, motivated. I said on my personal Facebook this quote:

“If I gave into the rage, I could not breathe.”

And it’s true.

If I were to focus on every negative attribute of my life that intersects Black and trauma, I would never have hope. I would be bitter. Evil. tSad. And most of all? Unaware!

That’s what trauma-focusing does. All other aspects of life become alien to you. Associated with other people. Less real, and unattainable by natural means. You become both devoid and immune to light.

One of the joys of writing, of creation, is being able to take the dark out of your own self, and expose it. Wrestle with it where people can see. Wrestle so people can know it is not just them that may feel this way. This means like architects, we are obsessed with light. With making the hidden seen, or remain unseen. Or as Theolonious Monk and other musicians of his era would have called it ugly beauty.

The loss of a child is tragic. It seems much more heinous when done by a system called to serve and protect. As a parent, when you feel the world can no longer protect your child, a special disdain develops. You and them need to be a part of the world, but you remain hypervigilant. All while staying in invisible monsters they hide from–as well as your own.

Yet, the sun still rises most mornings. Rain water still makes flowers grow. There is still hope. From that, we can grieve, cry and laugh. Lord knows,

In Memorium: To The Dudes That Saw There First Pretty Black Girl In JET, & All The Black Girls That Wanted To Be On The Cover of EBONY

 

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I remember my mother subscribing to EBONY and  ESSENCE Magazine when I was a girl. I remember I would pour over these magazines before I would give them back to my mother. I would even carry a copy of either or both of these magazines in my backpack or purse. They would be devoured at lunch, after classwork or waiting to be picked up by my parents after school from 6th-8th grade.

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EBONY was a part of my middle school girlhood. I was a part of the ritual of going to beauty salon with my Mama. It was part of knowing who was doing what, and how many people we could identify! I remember what it meant to pick that up, see it in my house, and even in my classrooms at Yeatman Middle School on the Northside of St. Louis, Missouri in the St. Louis Public School District. I even remember some of the guys in my classes sneaking looks the JET Beauty of the Week!

That is how far back it goes. And this was only the mid-1990’s, fam!

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And this week? I find out that EBONY and JET are firing freelancers, getting rid of other staff and these historic portions of Black media are…going away. These publications are one of the reasons I wanted to be a writer. Why I wanted to be a journalist. Why I was a fierce reader. These publications, shaped my Black girlness and emerging womaness, while collecting my collective ethnic, cultural history.

To know that this is being erased, taken from collective Blackness is the resurgence of all things melaninated, dope and from and in front of Black Jesus?! This ain’t fair!

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THIS IS NOT FAIR!

Roland M. Martin was talking about this on his YouTube Channel today. We know the Johnson Publishing Company, the family company that owns EBONY and JET, has had financial issues for past few years. This is no secret. But! The news that is being unveiled  now suggests that the company which has a 70-plus year history, is about to fold! Like how can this be happening!

Roland Martin was saying that there are a lot of Black media groups that have not made the adjustment to podcasting; consolidating with other media groups; valuing the building over the product the building produced. But, there is a truth to this. But the fact is we need our histories too! We need our legacies preserved too! We need to adjust with the times, too!

Twenty-five years ago? I snuck these magazines in my backpack! Now, download this from the site and follow 9 other podcasts just like it! On my iPhone! Does that mean I don’t like the physical copy? No. I still by physical magazines! But it’s the convenience, dear ones.

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Just like this blog is for you right now.

But, my heart, dear ones, is grieved. I am so grieved! First the HBCU’s and now this. First the GoFund Me’s and Crowdfunding for Bennett College, and there’s about to be no more EBONY or JET in same year Blackness is about to be supernova?! This is a hellafied Faustian baragain, y’all.

Bruh, I am looking forward to being on the cover of a magazine of and because of these 26 letters I whip together all the time! I wanted my face, my staff’s face on the cover of EBONY! That is the one magazine everybody Black still reads and their grandmother and ‘nem keep in the curio cabinet! That is cultural history, beloveds.

 

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I don’t know how we come back from this one. But, I don’t want any more Black creatives or creative outlets to take unnecessary losses, dear ones. We keep saying what we do for the culture–then let’s start preserving it.