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]

SHUT UP, BOOSIE!

Trigger warning: Ashy men, Homophobic men, Pick-Me’s, Enabling women, DFFs (DFF: Defenders of Fuckery and Foolishness).

Boosie Badazz Addresses His Issues With Webbie in Lengthy Post ...
I have never been able to take this dude seriously. Less so now.

First things, first: #MeToo.

With that out the way, let me say this: SHUT UP, BOOSIE! And I mean shut the ENTIRE FUCK UP!

Third, now begins where I get to channel all that raw, rolling Jean Grey Summers energy I have been holding on to for the last two days and aim it at Torrence Hatch, Jr.

I want to know who keeps asking this dude poignant questions about things which pertain to life and Blackness like a dude named Boosie has any idea on how to fix anything concerning us as a people?! I just need to know why people keep asking Captain Ashy Iaintshit questions!

Perhaps this is fault of my age and the tendency I have to ignore people whom I see and deem problematic. Boosie, Torrence, Boosie Badazz is problematic. I truly stopped engaging with this traphouse scholar when he made the snide comments about Zaya Wade (again, remember, I do not deadname over here!). I was done with him when he was talking so crazy about how Dwayne Wade should be handling this situation with his daughter.

The thing about the discourse (and I use that word loosely) between him and Dwayne was how devoid it was of empathy and common sense–until Torrence’s mama got on him. Funny how Ashy dudes are constantly corrected or can only be corrected by their mothers? Don’t even get me started on this! I digress. Let us continue, shall we?

I work nights. This is not a new thing. And I prefer nights, actually. Since having children, my body clock has not really recovered. So, rather than fight it–I go with it. Imagine my frazzled nerves when I woke up Thursday afternoon to find out this man–this father of 8!—is on Beyonce’s internet talking about how he pulled out all the stops to make sure his sons didn’t turn out gay.

Bruh.

This ninja is out here paying women to rape and molest (these young men are 12 and 14!) to perform sex acts on his son and his nephew–and he lets them watch porn! Make this make sense! This cannot be agreed with. This cannot be reasoned with. If you subscribe to How To Raise A Black Male Child by Torrence Hatch, Jr–never speak to me again. Also, please have an ice cold glass of Clorox.

If you are a woman who has the pre-requiste of completing of the intro course to I Am A Pick-Me in order to have the background to register How To Raise A Black Male Child by Traphouse Professor Hatch, you are the worst kind of Pick-Me!

If you believe being gay is the worst fate which can befall a Black male child, I need you to never have children. I need you to never help raise your nieces, nephews and you need to just move to the Saturn. Why? That is the only place you can do with this bullshit! He is wrong! No young man–especially Black!–needs to see porn as their only source of sexual education. They do not need to see their value of self so narrow it can only be identified or confirmed by their sexual prowess?

DO BETTER.

And the fact this cat saw nothing wrong with this? The fact so many people agreed with him? The fact that so many people are being silent now in the face of it–is chilling. But not surprising. This culture of “what happens here stays here” is what most Black folk have grown up with. This attitude which both preserves and protects toxic patriarchy because all those need to consolidate whatever power can be gleaned from patriarchy.

Men and their needs, along with the need correlate purpose with sexual prowess, will always be tenants of toxic patriarchy. This mentality demeans young Black men! It robs them of their innocence as well! If Boosie was doing this type of shenanigans to his daughters, folk would have rolled him up and set his house on fire! Why is that seen more as rape than what Boosie has done?

My mind cannot cope, and is still reeling from this.

Hoteps, if this is your king–please come get his ass.

[image from Complex.com]

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]

Pay Chadwick Boseman. Period.

Tony Stark could never.

I was doing all in my power to leave this one alone. I was. I truly was. The world is burning faster than my hands can keep up with! Yet, there is something about this situation which has lit a fuse in me. Not that such fuses are foreign to me–but it’s the sheer fact that it is happening–and I am witnessing this.

As a fan of comics, I went to go see Black Panther opening night. I saw it 4 times. I critiqued it. I wrote about it. And I still believe the White Savior narrative flies in the face of the contributions of Princess Shuri. But the thing which has bothered me about this current situation is what I heard Taraji P. Henson talk about in her book Around The Way Girl.

Hollywood does not like to pay Black actors.

Chadwick Aaron Boseman is the only person I can see ever portraying this current permutation of King T’Challa. This Black man lead and Black ensemble cast in thee Blackest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. This movie made over a billion dollars, and was directed by the stunningly talented Mr. Ryan Coogler. In hearing the may be replaced, our King T’Challa–who gave Cap his shield and came back from The Snap!–Marvel wants to replace him? Why is this?

Money.

Effing Money.

Bruce Wayne could never, you hear me?!

I suppose this is one of the reasons Tobey Maguire didn’t do another Spider-Man movie. Yet! He is still counted as one of the actors who portrayed the beloved Peter Parker on screen! I don’t want Chadwick replaced! I don’t want Marvel to be this stupid! As much money as this movie made ($1.344 billion dollars, by the way!), are you seriously considered not paying Chadwick Boseman! What part of the game is this!  is a form of erasure! You can’t just TAKE T’Challa–and then have someone lined up!

Just how all these super fans were all in a raucous over MJ being BLACK, I am in an uproar because Marvel is considering not paying a major character whom happens to be BLACK! I have a feling if Stan Lee where here this wouldn’t be happening. Where is the petition for this one?!

I’ll wait–because Imma sign it first!

[images from alphacoders.com and Pinterest.com]