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.

For A Fast Girl: Being Honest With A Little Black Girl

I am the proud Mama of two daughters.

In my decade and some of being a parent, I have made it my mission to be as honest with them as possible. I remind them that they are beautiful, smart and capable of all that they wish. In the coming onslaught of puberty/preteen/teenage angst, I now have to have conversations with them which–in complete candor–I don’t want to have.

I don’t look forward to telling my oldest daughter (soon to be 12), because her body is changing, people will start looking at her. There will be boys as well as men looking at her. Through no fault or provocation. I will have to tell her how to defend herself from someone’s son whom may try and touch her. I will have to assure her that her body is hers, and she has complete ownership of it!

I will have to tell her that because she is tall, she will never look her age. I will have to tell her when men approach her, to limit her eye contact and always be aware of her surroundings, and where people are in conjunction to her.

I have to tell her how to stay safe when Mama Bear ain’t there.

I have to tell her what it means to be called fast, because she still has a grandmother of a certain age. For that reason, her grandmother will think the best way to keep her safe—is to over criticize. Minutely critique. Just as her mother did to her.

I don’t look forward to the cloud which may form over her bright hazel eyes. She’ll be thrust into a world that wants to devour her, while she still loves reading, sneakers and the MCU.

I don’t want to watch that residual spill over to my younger daughter (now 10). I don’t want to have to repeat this information to her. I don’t want to tell my bold, intelligent baby girl that the fact she is so shapely, some boy may try to touch her. Or think she’s available, because she is thicker than her sister.

But, this must occur. I have to have these conversations. I have to arm them. I must arm them. The world I desire to change (and I may leave them), will not tell her these things. They will not tell my daughters their value aside from their sensuality or esthetic. The world will evaluate, rate, like, share them only as it relates to what it can get from them.

And be quick to call them names if something happens to her. I arm my daughters with self-honor and undeniable truth. In that power, with that power, do I allow my daughters to truly become everything they desire. Telling a girl that, is more powerful than you can imagine.

For A Fast Girl: When They Call You A Name

I don’t know who started this.

I don’t know who the first person was to call a Black girl fast.

I don’t know if it was meant to be a joke or a correction or to save her life from something unseen. What I do know is, now a century and a half from enslavement (and what passes as freedom), this word has been used to corrale Black girls ever since.

From there, it’s a slippery slope, right? If you can call a Black girl ‘fast’, it’s easier to call her a ‘ho.’ Which makes it easier to call her a ‘bitch.’ Which, in turn, makes her devalue the other Black girls around her using the same vernacular.

It is so easy to devalue a little Black girl. Making her an object and not a person is the quickest way to keep doing that. To keep making all the music she listens to value her body and latent, potential sexual prowess.

With this roux, you’ll always grow fresh crops of fast girls.

Inevitably, someone will challenge this observation. They’ll say I’m too sensitive. That I’m overreacting or my favorite: hit dogs holler. To that, I counter by saying, “Who is throwing the rocks?!” I’m not being sensitive so much as observant. That’s what my job is as a writer.

In the age of hook-up culture versus primo geniture fueled by toxic patriarchy; of #MeToo and rape culture; sexual assault taken as a male past time, someone must be vigilant. Someone must be willing to protect our girls. Someone must believe them. Someone must be willing to go to the mat for little Black girls and women. Someone has to be willing to take the rocks that accusers have and disarm them. One at a time.

In the interest of honesty, I too have been called fast. By my aunts that thought I was doing too much for male attention (e.g., switching, what I wore). I’ve also been called a ‘ho.’ And bitch. And ugly. These comments came from young men, men and boys that once I wouldn’t, couldn’t give them what they wanted (either sex or attention), the next step was to try and make me feel bad. In making me feel less than, their egos remained in check and unscathed (note: this is how toxic patriarchy works).

However, the great thing about aging out of that particular bracket where being called fast was an option is self-reflection. I now have the life experience to look back and determine just what and why that was trash behavior! Moreover, I am able to assert the trash behavior was independent of me! This means people projected what they thought onto me.

In a toxic, sexually charged culture, any deviation to that acceptance of said dominant culture is, can be, problematic. Not allowing myself to be dehumanized was problematic. Standing up for myself is problematic. Not allowing myself to be loved or desired in pieces was problematic. Not being sexually available (which is the definition of being a ‘fast’ girl might I add!) was problematic!

The adage goes, “It’s not what they call you, but what you answer to.” In order to protect yourself and your spirit, you cannot answer to every thing you are called. At the same time, knowing who you are will make those names not stick. And those same dogs that holler? You can throw your rock right back at them.

The Chore Girl (short short story)

​I only came back to St. Louis because my sister was dying. I didn’t want to ever set foot in God’s muddy footprint again. I remember I got off the plane, relieved and terrified, looking for my luggage in Lambert St. Louis International Airport. I smoothed the back of my tapered pixie cut remembering to breathe. I closed my eyes, concentrating on the soft hum of the baggage belt. “Renee, you know you gotta come home. Halle keeps asking for you.” I remembered cursing under my breath. I remember thinking why did it matter if I came back, even if I stayed!

​I left this place on the first thing smoking. I worked so hard from sophomore to senior year to apply to whatever college I wanted. I wanted as many states between me and the Mississippi as I could count. There was rub against me, and I shot the young man a look. He was dressed in a dark red Washington University hoodie complete with cap. His green eyes looked sad and apologetic. “I’m sorry, I was just grabbing my suitcase.” Grabbed a hunter green suitcase, and walked away.

​I scanned the baggage claim looking for my luggage. I adjusted my carryon Louis Vuitton GM on my shoulder. I wanted my black suitcase with my monogramed luggage tag, so I could get my rental car and go. Seeing the luggage, I moved to retrieve it, bumping into what might have been an oak tree. “I’m sorry.” I managed, shifting around him to reach for my suitcase. “Not a problem.” I meant to turn around and walk away, just as he began to speak. It felt like someone had put a hook in my back. I looked back and saw this man whom it fought the urge to unwrap. He was ebony dark with deadlocks and I thought I smelled YSL L’Homme on him. I felt the smile creep over my lips. I reminded myself to breathe and where I was. He wore a dress shirt, and jeans and Jordans. He looked like he stepped off a magazine cover, reminding me of Malcolm Jamal Warner.

“I’m Renee.” I said, answering the question behind his eyes. “John.” He reached into his wallet in his back pocket and gave me his card. I took it, studying his top lip. “Thank you, John.” He smiled brighter. I remembered had to pick up my rental car from Avis which was on the other side of the airport. “I have to go, but I’ll call you later.” I reached in my purse and found my set of cards. “Renee Waller, Esq.” I gave it to him, still grinning, his scent and ernegy wrapping around me. “St. Louis is small, I hope I see you around.” Turning towards my new direction with luggage, I didn’t turn to see his face. I thought if I turned again, I would melt. “I’m sure you;ll see me around!”

​My heels clicked to towards the Avis counter, and I got my reservation from the kisosk, grateful I didn’t have to talk to another person. I got the receipt, and went to pick up my keys. There was a red-headed girl at the desk, whom looked at my paper with her black Avis shirt and told me to enjoy my stay in St. Louis. I managed a week smile, and walked to my black Jetta I was assigned. ​My went to my car, keys firm in my right hand as I lifted the trunk lid with left. I only planned on staying here a week. My mother told me Halle didn’t have long, and I had even less time. I had cases on my desk. I was building clients. I had a life in Chicago. I had things I had to do. I didn’t want to be in St. Louis longer than needed.

​In driving, I remember the route towards North St. Louis without the help of GPS. Getting on 1-70, I let my mind wander. I exhaled as I left the radio off, and didn’t want to turn my phone back on. I thought about the house I was going back to. I thought about my older sister. I thought about my grandmother whom passed away about five years before. I thought about the cancer that was crowding the life out of my sister. But I thought about the elephant in the room. I thought about how these people only call me when evictions are happening, someone is in jail or when someone is about to die. I am what my best friend’s mother calls a Chore Girl. I’m always cleaning something up or fixing something else.

My mother was more frantic even thought my sister had already made her plans and last wishes known. Halle wanted to be interred in Oak Grove. She wanted our father to do her service. She had already talked to her husband and kids. I had no idea why I was here. I came only because I was summoned, not even asked. When I saw the letter in my mailbox in my Chicago townhouse, it might as well have been a subpoena.​There was something the matter. Something was going on, and it was beyond my older sister dying. The Chore Girls always have it harder. We have to find out what it is, and solve it. These people are going to get tired of treating me like God. I cannot fix anything. One day, God won’t pick up the phone.

[originally written 10/14/2018]