For The Culture: Bedknobs, Bonnets & Broomsticks-Part 1

Follow my favorite cousin (one of them!) on TikTok —@cfstory—for all other history tea. Thank you for all you do, Sis.

I’m still fine with my head wrapped up.

What do you think about his grapevine a debate in 2021 it’s just how crazy it got! This conversation about whether not black women should wear bonnets outside has sparked conversations of tone policing, generational trauma, misogyny, misogynoir, and beauty standards as a Black women.

This conversation has also led to that five-dollar word for policing: respectability.

In seeing this debate play out in real time, I cannot help but wonder and think about what I grew up with. My parents are both Baby Boomers. I was taught to be pretty my hair had to be straight a.k.a. ‘done’ and I couldn’t leave the house with my ‘hair wrapped up’. That was not allowed! My father, the proud Black man he was, knew the value of imagery and projection! The unwritten rule of Black girlhood—you can’t do what White girls do!

My father knew that in order to equip me for the world to handle the conscious and unconscious White Gaze was to give me a name first off that did not sound intimidating (read: sounded white) and be able to sculpt my growing up, and my aesthetic in such a way that I would be more palatable to white folks around me.

In the raising of being raised as the Respectable Black Girl, they were certain things I just knew I couldn’t do. And not just wearing bonnets outside! When Brandy Norwood in the mid-1990’s came out with her braids (Brandy Braids or Box Braids) I asked my parents if I could have them!

I was told no. I’m still not quite sure as to why I couldn’t get them. The Paul Mooney quote about White people being relaxed when your hair is relaxed comes to mind…

But yet in the comments section of some of these TikTok accounts and DM’s of their creators, is the dirtiest kind of war! There are Black folk fighting other Black folk like Voltron! They are fighting each other with the same slurs and coded language racist White people use to describe, discriminate against all of us!

From being told that Black women look ratchet, tacky, ghetto, unkempt and classless, to name a few. With the idea being, “When we go outside with bonnets, who’s gonna take you serious?Which leads to the other great debate (as always): what Black women do with their hair!

It was devastating to see other Black people denigrate, pile on, and rip apart Black women just because we choose to wear what we were we go outside. It just confirmed my deepest fear: There is no safe space to truly we just Black and woman! Now, I understand that Black people in this nation have been in a place where everything about us has been police or controlled—including how we look and how we look at ourselves.

The one thing that needs to happen to come back to civility, there has to is the radical accepting of self! This can only be done one life, one generation at a time! Even if I as a Black woman choose not to go outside with my hair wrapped up in certain cases, and then cannot judge another Black woman who does.

The world judges us both when they follow us through Macy’s anyway.

#BlackBlogMatter Challenge-Week 13 (2021)

Ah, and here we go–CENTERING MINORITY VOICES.

As a writer, as a minority writer, as a minority writer with a platform, I am a minority writer, who takes great happiness in finding other minority voices, I cannot stress how important this is…how needed!

I have been a freelance writer for 7 years, and a blogger for 5 of those years. One of the most powerful things that I do in running platforms is two-fold: I am creating content and looking for those who want to create! Part of my job as an administrator is to create a place for my own voice. As a writer who is Black and woman, and a Black woman writer, I have to make space! If I do not value my own voice, if I do not mine the strength to make my voice priority–I will not be able to give that strength to anyone else!

In making a platform through my talent and voice, I must be aware that puts me at an unique advantage! I must be able to recognize who can benefit from exposure, from mentorship, and the kindness writers extend to other writers!

I would be lying to you if I said writing was easy. It isn’t. It’s not. That difficulty is amplified when you race is added in the mix! The writing community is so vast, it is so confusing at points, that if you do not have a community to support you…you will quit. What I do to help writers to not quit is to maintain space, remain steadfast and remain consistent. I offer support. I offer guidance. I become the support I didn’t have, creating a community that I didn’t think that I needed. In building this network, in building these platforms, my goal is to show the world the talent that Black writers have.

We exist. We matter. We aren’t going away.

Did I Tell You About The Time I Almost Got Catfished?

Dating is dangerous, family!

In February 2020, I talked about how discouraged (read: afraid) I was to start dating after the ending after of this last relationship. Then…I got on Facebook dating on a whim. You favorite was (almost!) the victim of a catfish. So, I got brave and made a profile on Facebook Dating. I made one before, starting trying to date someone—and that fizzled as quickly as it started. After random men offering lackluster and fervent sexual favors, this guy calling himself Kenvy inboxed me.

This handsome somebody I am positive didn’t inbox me.

I admit it:  He was handsome. He was sweet. But something wasn’t right. Now, I am a fan of the Alice In Wonderland live action movie. There is a portion of the movie, near the end, where before Alice can defeat the Jabberwocky, she has to believe 6 impossible things. Now, I had to notice those same impossible things in  order to not be swept up in nonsense.

This dude, Kenvy, told me that he was a “USA Marine” and he was in Africa at the moment (Impossible Thing #1). No Marine I know says he’s a USA Marine.

This dude told me that he had a daughter named Berry (Impossible Thing #2) and her mother was not in her life. (Impossible Thing #3). We talked for two days, and he kept repeating himself (Impossible Thing #4). He sent me pictures, and asked me to download WhatsApp—I did. I mean, my best friend is on it! The app is free, too! So, I acquiesced because he was cute.

Aside A: This is the fly in the ointment, with me and ‘Kenvy’. I’m a writer. I am a student of history. I also have been researching romance scams for the past couple years. I am also fan of the MTV show Catfish. I am also a year from 40. I am not that easy to fool.

Harpo, who this man?!

We exchanged pictures. He told me after talking to me two days that I was what he wanted (Impossible Thing #4). Kenvy told me that I was beautiful, and he could see himself getting serious with me (keep in mind, we were only talking like 2 days—Impossible Thing #5). In sending him pictures, he even started dedicating songs to me! Bruh, slow up! One of those songs being Perfect by Ed Sheeran (Impossible Thing #6)!

Curiouser and curiouser…

Keep in mind Perfect was a song that has significant meaning—by someone incredible! But let’s keep going. The whole conversation felt rushed! I asked him when his deployment would be over. He said, “Next month.” At the time it was late April—the month of May was in literal DAYS. When I pressed for details, he couldn’t give any (Impossible Thing #7). I asked why I couldn’t hear his voice—he told me some BS reason that was so convoluted that even I can’t match it (Impossible thing #8). He said the reason why he couldn’t call me was because it wasn’t safe or secure (Okay, maybe.). Then he asked if I would be willing to give him my number to give to his commanding officer to have it be verified (Hell Nall! Impossible Thing #9 and #10).

WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE?!

So, all my antennae are up at this point!  I can’t hear his voice, sentence structure is off, he’s repeating himself, and the pictures he sent don’t jive with where he is supposed to be in the world. My immediate thought—I am being catfished.

Wanna know what I did next? I waited on him to ask me for money. I felt that was coming and intuition rarely fails. In two days, this cat is talking about marrying me, kids, and wanting to always be here for me.

Aside B: I am secretly fascinated by romance scams! I have been researching them for a while, because I wanted to know just how victims are sucked in! From that research, from that second hand knowledge, I was prepared.

I. Was. Prepared.

He texted me through this shady ass app, and the dread was in my belly. I knew it was coming—this man only an illusion. But then, I realize what hooked these other women—attention. The overwhelming attention when there is nothing else granting it to you!

Then he had it…the audacity. He asked me to send him $200 on a eBay gift card to pay his Wifi (Impossible Thing #11). He said he would pay me back “when I get home (Impossible Thing #12).”

I told him to never contact me again. I told him how dare he ask me to send him $200?! He seemed hurt and confused, but he left me alone. Then, I felt the dread. Wondering about the pictures I sent, about whether my picture will be in this scam next time…and that person not be as smart.

Feeling stupid has a frequency, and other consequences…beyond screens.

Note: The pictures sent to me include a child who is probably his daughter. I don’t feel comfortable sharing them. He might be a serviceman and I pray his safety for him and his daughter.

#BlackBlogsMatter Challenge—Week 12 (2021)

Black women are some of the most incredible human beings on the face of the planet. We are. We are the Dora Milaje!

That Sisterhood, both mythic and ancient, bought by blood and time—we are amazing. That word Sis is ours! It is that recognition of each other, the divinity in each other—it is activated by the word Sis. 

That power cannot be wielded by unbelievers! It cannot be transferred by those who cannot see Black as divine. White women cannot have this space, accessing our love and power because she feels she can. This is ours! This space is ours! This love, this security, this inevitable protection in this space.

A Black woman is more that what she appears to be! And will always be! It is up to the Black women of this Sisterhood to approve the worthy of access to that word, that space, to those whose melanin quotient doesn’t match our own!

We own this space. 

We will not apologize. 

Your whiteness is not a guarantee for approval, access, and acceptance! We own us now. We are of our own purchase. We are Queens again, your fury our thrones.

#BlackBlogsMatter Challenge—Week 12 (2021)

Sis. Noun. Short form of the word sister; a female sibling; term of endearment among women.

I have an issue if you are not a Black woman and you call me ‘Sis’. I do. I always have! I feel the same way when people call (or try to call) me Jenny rather than Jennifer! But that is a different conversation. 

In being on TikTok (@whatjayesaid) for almost a year, I have somehow managed to avoid any real dramatic stupidity (a White dude with a lip ring who looks like he never washes his clothes face and a Black man who tried to read me in front of a shower curtain), but I through my bra in the fight (to quote @glammelanin) over the word “Sis”.

It is a term of safety, love and recognizing. It is not meant to be said by people that didn’t understand what it was like to fight for things, have lost things, and move in a world that chooses either to erase you, mock you or steal from you. 

Sis is not meant to be said by those outside this sphere. I know there are other cultures that use sis and that’s fine! But for me? Don’t call me sisbecause you don’t know me. Don’t know what it feels like to be ignored by the same world that expects you to be in it—as they see fit. 

This thing, our thing, this is just ours. PERIODT.

For The ‘POSE’!

I am already crying.

I NEED ALL THE THINGS TO HAPPEN ON THIS SHOW THIS SEASON!

I stopped my entire life to watch the Season 3 premiere of POSE on FX! I made sure my kids were in bed, that I had snacks, because I was prepared to have my emotions snatched from me.

It was then that I remembered that this was the last season. Then I remembered that there are transwomen being my murdered left and right—including my dear YouTube sister, Jahaira Balenciaga just this month!

I am looking forward to what Ryan Murphy and company do this season, because so far (we have now jumped from 1991 to 1995):

Blanca got a bae

Papi and Angel are still together

Ricky and Pray together still

Cubby died (Whew, Jesus!)

Pray back to drinking

Lulu got Angel back on that sh#t!

Blanca going to nursing school!

Electra is still shady as hell!

Whew! And that is just the first two episodes! What being a fan is this show has broadened my scope as it relates to empathy. To love and even what it means to be and ally, accomplice or an advocate. You cannot love POSE and not support Black transwomen.

I said what I said.

I know this is about to be so good, I know I am going to cry so hard, and I know I’ll be cussing at the television in two languages again—BUT! That is the power of great writing. That is the power of great story telling. That is the power of representation.

Let’s hope the Emmys get it RIGHT this time. Indiya Moore and Mj Rodriguez deserve EVERYTHING!

#BlackBlogsMatter Challenge-Week 10 (2021)

*OBF: Only Black Friend

Being the OBF is dangerous. I said what I said. You, as a Black friend, in the ashes of Orange Thanos, you need to be mindful and critical of whom your friendship group is! Consider this your first and last warning in regards to your own tokenism. 

I do understand that with the expansion of educational opportunities, remote working and job expansion, that it is impossible to keep the same friend groups, or have those friend groups be homogenous! I am saying being mindful when you are consistently the OBF in a friend group. There is this sense of awareness that you have to develop which allows you to be cognization of what is, what is not, and what will be. Let me break it down this way.

What Is. Being the OBF is sometimes isn’t avoidable. No one moves in this life without needing, talking to or even befriending other people. However, being the only ANYTHING in a community or a friend group, is—concerning. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself, “Why am I the only one that looks like ME in this space?”

What Is Not. In the interest of honesty, remember that every friend is not an ally and a ally is not always an accomplice. The world is too dangerous for you to not know who is on your side! There are too many stories of OBFs in situation where they needed assistance or to be verified by someone else (aka someone non-melaninated) and–weren’t! Be mindful of this, because once it is shown to you, it cannot be unseen. 

What Will Be. The danger that I speak of in regards to being the OBF is the ever looming threat of tokenism. It is the threat that whenever something happens in the culture or to them, you will either be either excuse to continue microaggressions, or ‘the Black friend’ they know. Don’t allow yourself to be set up for failure because there are people in the world who don’t think diversity and inclusivity matter. Yet, these are the same people believe since they are friends with you they have met both requirements. 

Just like when you were younger and you were told to look both ways before crossing the street? Look around before you get invited into the all-White friend group with no mirrors.