Daddy Lessons #6: Dealing With The Fucksh!t

“As much as you can, avoid foolishness at all cost.”

-Richard L. Bush (1948-1998)

My father was a man of action. He had this uncanny ability to discern what was, is, could be foolishness. For this ability, I am grateful. With him gone, and the regime of Orange Thanos, I have never missed him more.

When I encounter crazy situations, after trying to pray first, I look at the situation for what it is. From that observation, I come to one other rooted piece of gospel from the Urban Prophet: “Now, you know what you got.”

I don’t have the patience to go through this life giving 10-level energy constantly to 2-level problems! I don’t have the desire to give more energy to situations which cannot/do not improve or to people that don’t desire to hear wisdom!

This also goes for people that choose not to support me in prosperous endeavors! I have made up in my mind that people can walk, fly, ride or catch up! In order to have peace in this life you have to learn how to deal with people; and how to deal with people you don’t like or people that won’t change.

You cannot allow people with no power in their own lives to try to assert power in yours! You have to be able to tell people where they can and can’t be in this life! You have to be strong enough, wise enough, to listen to the things and people that matter.

And also know when to know what will never change. The best thing God will ever give you is sense and eyesight. When you use those two things together? You are unstoppable. Keep that same energy to deal with people, things and situations which don’t serve you. Protect your peace at all costs–because it’s priceless.

Daddy Lessons #5: The Hustle

“You can steal more with a pen than you can with a gun.”

-Richard L. Bush (1948-1998)

My Daddy wanted me to be able to write my name by the time I went to kindergarten. Not only could I do that, I had been reading since I was 4.

“You know the best place people think to hide stuff from Black people is? Books.”

I grew up hearing this, overhearing this and wanted to know why my father was so hard on me about being able to read and write and do math well. He was also a stickler on how his children looked. My father thought if his babygirls were beautiful and brilliant there would never be any door closed to them.

For the most part, Daddy was right. The appearance is just the gift wrapping for everything else! That, and a college degree along, the ability to count your own money and the sense to know how to code switch helps a lot. A whole lot!

But there’s this matter of the politicking, right? My Dad reminded me that the hustlers I saw, were all potential businessmen. He reminded me that there was never a need for me to steal anything that I wanted–I had to either ask, save for it, or go without. Whenever he heard of some big white-collar crime? He would always say this quote and laugh. It took me till I was good and grown to under the gravitas of it.

The street level hustle is nothing, bruh. It’s what you can harness your mind to that will always produce lucrative spoils. I never wanted to be a mafia doll (not longtime anyway!). I wanted to be a godfather! I kid…but the principle is the same, really.

Daddy told me that nothing was going to be handed to me. I was going to have to work for it. I was going to have to sacrifice. I was going to have some long nights. Frustrating days. And I was going to want to quit more than once. But it’s the vision of what I wanted that was to keep me focused. Keep me studying. Keep me grinding! Keep me from doing drugs. Or hanging out with the bad kids he saw.

The hustle was the degree–the master key to unlock my destiny. And I got it. And now, I have a knew dream. A new vision. A new reality to fuel and fund. And I didn’t have to bang Ray J to get it.

Daddy Lessons #4: Perceptions

 

“You ain’t gotta let everybody know what you know.”

-Richard L. Bush (1948-1998)

 

I’ve been playing cards for about 30 years now. My mother’s sister, Linda, showed me and a couple of my other cousins how. I think she did this so we would leave each other alone and learn how to play together. For the larger part, we did. From that, my braggadcious nature was born. I am my Daddy’s girl, after all. Playing cards with him embossed this other level of isht-talking that I felt I had to master. And, over time, I did. Along with being ruthlessly competitive and observant of tells and other quirks.

However, the one thing that Dad taught me was how to disguise a tell.

Call it a Poker Face, nerves of steel, or RBF, but I have it. It’s a gift I guess.

However, in the realms of  networking, academia and non-melaninated spaced, the best advice my Dad gave me was to not let everyone know what I know. I don’t have to go into a space with my professional resume pinned to my shirt. I don’t have to kick in every door with all I know or all I can do. My Dad had to pull to the side (more than once) to remind me of this.

I have this this thing about being underestimated. Of being called stupid. Of being seen as less than. That is a personal character flaw. A friend of mine says that’s me ‘being defensive’. I’ll take that though. But Daddy had to remind me that it’s better to get into a room, reading a room, than to let everyone know you must might be the smartest dame in it.

For me, this is a constant balancing act. I have always had to prove myself, and I’m still at the point where I feel that I have to. In spite of my success, I still feel underestimated:  I hate that. I hate that with a passion! But, because God is merciful and wise, He gave me the father I had. Whom was just as driven, just as ambitious, and just as loud. Within all that, lay that wisdom of learning to be quiet and observe. It was his inability to read the room, which had costed him so many opportunities. His attitude was, “You don’t have to let everybody know what you know. Let them think that they want. You prove them wrong when you have to.”

Now, whilst in the thick of building a brand and finishing degrees, do I get all of this right? Not at all. As gracious as my mother tried to raise me to be, my Dad reminded me that ambition is tool of the visionary. And I get there are rooms I am invited in, or told about that will/do see my race and gender as a deficit. What I work on, according to this piece of advice, is to let people think what they want! Why? They will anyway.

I’m learning to take stock of the energy I exude. I’m learning that not everyone needs to know my pedigree and pedagogue. They really don’t! And even if I did rail about it from the mountaintops, or in Jimmy Choos,  there would still be people that wouldn’t care. So, why waste time with it?

The greatest blessing sometimes is making something out of nothing with people watching.

 

 

 

 

 

When Mama Can’t Protect You-Part 1 (Prelude To ‘The Talk’)

TW:  Police brutality, police abuse, wrongful arrest

 

This came through my personal Twitter timeline on Father’s Day of all things. And I was inconsolable. In looking through this thread, all  I could think is, “This could have been my daughter. This child is my daughter’s age.” I make no qualms about my valid, palpable distrust of law enforcement. I make no reassertion that I am changing my mind about that. I have not trusted law enforcement since I was about 10, and I’m almost 40. With that being said, I make no bones about my Mama Lion nature for my children. In reading this thread, my heart sank. I wanted to stave off having ‘The Talk’ with my oldest daughter. The same daughter that is beautiful, intelligent, and stands 5’6.5″ at age 11 1/2.  I am aware that the world will not always see her as a girl. As an adolescent Black girl.

When I saw this thread, and really began to digest what had happened to this child without her mother present, left me horrified. The rundown was this:

A group of Black kids were playing on a movie parking lot. The police saw them and told them to move along. The kids grumbled and muttered but they go on. Nicole (the woman in the screenshot), heard screaming. She looked up and saw one of the officers dragging one of the child to the car. There are more cop cars that appeared (Nicole said it was 5-6 cars). She gets out her car and asks what is going on. The cops tell her to move along. She sees on child in the car’s backseat–handcuffed. The other girl was shaken and about to be arrested as well. Nicole advocated for the child, and confronting the police officer. The handcuffed child did not have her phone, and it would seem she was arrested for ‘loitering.’ Nicole gave this child her phone to call her mother. The police said they were going to release her to her mother. Nicole continues to advocate for these children, and speaking to the girl’s mother–she waits for her to get to the area. Another older couple is parked nearby watching. The handcuffed girl’s mom arrives, and wants to know what happened. Turns out, the girls are arrested without being Mirandized, or without a guardian present. Once that’s pointed out, the officer tells Nicole to leave. She doesn’t. The girls are released to their mother/aunt. Nicole gives Mom the name of lawyers that she knows. 

As a mother, I was horrified. My husband and I have gone round and round about how to handle raising our girls when these situations exist. I know that the world doesn’t see Black girls as girls–especially if Black girls are tall or in any way shapely! I never looked my age from 11-17. And my mother had to gently tell me that I had to watch how I dressed because I didn’t look my age. Not to leave the house without my purse that at least had my school identification. I knew that the police wouldn’t think that I was 13, 14 or 15, unless my parents were with me.

With this though? I thought I had more time, at least one more year to allow my daughter to be protected completely by her Mama Lion. But that shattered yesterday. This is the paradox Black parents have:  we know the world sees our children as never being such. But we know they are. I have talked to my husband about our daughter having a cell phone. He said she was too young. I disagreed. I tried to tell him that the world is such that she needed access to us in case she needed us.

This is another reminder that she is becoming more and more visible on the real world’s radar. It was a reminder that if something like this happened to my baby, I would want someone to help her. To see her. I would want her to know how to handle herself if an officer stopped her, and had no right to do so.  I know that in having this talk, The Talk, with her, a portion of her innocence is, and will be gone. And there is nothing I can do about that.

 

 

Daddy Lesson’s #3-Finances

img_0618-5

 

“Always keep some money on you.”

– Richard L. Bush (1948-1998)

 

The running theme that I tell people is that I’m the daughter of a hustler. I really, truly am. My father didn’t like the word ‘No’, and believed in making sure certain things were in place so other things could happen. One of those things that he taught me was to make sure I could take care of myself. The best way he thought I could do that, was to make sure that I always had some money on me.

My father made sure my sister and I got used to carrying, purses and a wallet. He would tell us that we  should keep money on us in case we go somewhere. He wanted us have some sense of financial responsibility even then. I mean, when I was in fifth grade, when I started carrying a purse WITH money in it! I mean, it was my Dad that taught me how cool having a bank account was! He taught me and my sister how to use and ATM!

Daddy taught me how to hustle, and be okay with (as a woman) to have my own money. Even though he didn’t teach us how to save (that came later for me after he died), but it make me see money as a tool. It was this strange dichotomy:  money is  tool to be used, but not to be saved.  But there was a power in that as a little girl. I had the power to realize that I can do what I wanted to do–if I had the money to do so.

From that, I was never afraid to work for what I wanted. Ever. The dream is free, and the hustle is real…and it needs to be funded. Until the Lord sends more help, or you win the LOTTO? Hustle. It won’t kill you. I promise it won’t.

 

 

Daddy Lessons #2- Dating

 

“If a man likes you just a little bit, you’ll be amazed what he’ll do for you.”

-Richard L. Bush (1948-1998)

 

This is the simplest, boldest piece of advice I have every gotten in regards to dating and dealing with men to date. My father had the habit of telling me this type of advice on a regular basis even when I was still considering boys as gross. However, the truth of this statement? Unparalleled. Armed with this secret confidence, I began to be a constant observer of male behavior.

I began to watch how he and my mother interacted. I began to watch how he treated her, and how she responded in kind. I watched how he did things for her, just because he wanted to. Or because they needed to be done! He got her flowers because he wanted her to have them! Not  because he had done something wrong.

My father loved my mother. Completely. It wasn’t until he died, and I really began dating, that I saw how completely he loved her. That kind of love, I know now, is rare. And worked for. The cooler thing is he liked my mother, as well as loved her. They still went out and did things together. They made time to talk and laugh and be a couple–independent of the three of us.

I took their marriage, their relationship, as a roux–the bare minimum that I would accept as a partner. I expected to be treated well. I expected to be listened to and respected. I expected to be valued. When I ran across a young man that couldn’t or wouldn’t? I ended the relationship.

Now, have I always gotten that formula right? Nope, not at all. I chased me that I thought like me, and it came to naught. I stayed in crazy situations longer than I should, because I gave people time to change. Hell, I stayed with my ex-husband waaaaay longer than I should have because I knew (or thought) if I was a little more patient he would change. This has been my Achilles heel:  I love too hard. I give too much. And I sometimes am way too patient in anticipating a human being change. But perhaps that is the maturity in my father’s statement; I waited to see if like would surface, resurface, or how often it would surface.

On the other hand, I have been on the reciprocating end of affections of young men that I, too, was crazy about. This young men that decided to call me just to tell me ‘Good Morning.’  Who opened doors for me. That got me the flowers. Gave me money to ‘just have’. Even two of them decided they could not live without me and decided to make me a wife.

This quote gave me the awareness of what being treated well is. This portion of wisdom allowed me call crazy what it is. It allowed me to know when relationships should begin or end. It allowed me become cognizant of my time. To value my body. My skills. My talents. It allowed me to recognize what I bring to any situation. It allowed and allows me to know if those attributes are not appreciated, I don’t have to ask for permission to leave. I can just go.

The best thing my Daddy ever gave me was a sense of self. From that sense, he gave his oldest daughter to knowledge that I was special. If any man didn’t see me as that, or able to love me past the pretty, I didn’t need him.

 

Being Part Of The Knot-Part 5: Happy After All

I am a fan of monogamy and marriage.

In working in the profession I do, I see the dynamics in long-term relationships.  I have seen and talked to people whom have demonstrated what marriage is. They tell me that stamina, commitment and faith needed to be with someone long-term. One of the patients I took care of told me this: “Marriage is work. Don’t let anyone fool you.”

This is the most transparent thing someone has told me in regards to relationships. People get so enraptured by the day, the dress and decor that we forget being with another human being is hard. It is difficult and when you want to throw your hands up and leave? Man. There is a power in the stay–and in deciding to leave.

However, as coarse as he can be, Steve Harvey said that the way to keep your marriage happy is to keep folk out your business. The attitude of deciding everything that happens in the life of your relationship is not for public consumption. The metaphor Steve used was this: “You are the circle. Don’t let anyone else inside the circle.”

With deciding to be married, you are building a world inside and outside the world you have to navigate. For the health of any relationship, (I say this from experience and failure) you have to make time together. You have to make one another priority. You have to decide what you have, what you want, what you desire to build, is greater than what people say or will say!

You have to make up in your mind that being married is what you want. My good girl friend of seven lifetimes told me that. In this, because of this, in spite of it, people still decide they want to be married. People still want to be chosen, and cherished and be home to someone. But, the killer part? This doesn’t come without work. This resolve be  together, doesn’t come without some stuff that will try and rip you apart!

We romanticize everything in modern society. Marital longevity is the most romanticized. Being the consumers we are, we like to see and devour the stories of people. Especially when they are married for astronomical sums of time:  forty, fifty and sometimes sixty years. It seems impossible in age of iPhones and Instagram filters for anything to be sustained longer than an app upgrade.

Love is patient, love is kind, we know. Love is also a choice. A decision. A resolve. An action. Love is beyond anything a ring can show. It is showing up for someone everyday, even when leaving would be easier.  When throwing everything away is seducing. Love makes the decision to try again. And again. And even again.

Being happy with someone? That’s not wrong, neither is it impossible. But happy is temporary. A person can’t complete you; they can only compliment. They can assist, guide an support. Your relationships are yours:   you have a say in how they begin, are sustained and end.

Marriage isn’t a consistent fairy tale. It is dedication, and work and sacrifice. It involves you deciding that this person is whom you want. Deciding to be a part of a circle, a partnership, means you have to be vigilant about what influences you listen to.  Or you deeply you will be influenced by what is around you.

The couples that make it to count the time together being more than half their lives didn’t do it in a vacuum. They didn’t do it by some magic wand or placating. They didn’t fight off the world around them for a past time!

They were in it together.

Everyday, every single day, they made the decision to stay. To fight. To fix. To love. To repair. To forgive. The storms of life raged, and yet they were still standing. Still together and sometimes more in love than they ever were! Real love grows, covers, shield and adapts. Through those levels and adaptations, being together is what you want. What you need and wish for. The fairy tale isn’t ongoing–there are trials, deaths and disappointments–but the happily ever after is possible. Even if that means Netflix and chill after a hard week. Or laughing at any MCU movie or cooking together when you’d rather eat out.

Love is a decision. From that decision, the happily ever after is always in sight. Choose to be together today. From today? Being in love, acting with love, allows you to stay. Days turn to years and years to decades. The sweetest part? You’ll be the person who you can’t imagine life without.

Be together today. Be together today.