I Won’t See Ya’ Later: The Importance of Mental Divestment

It’s fall now (well, for most people. I live in Texas and it was 90 today but kudos to the rest of the country). I like fall. I like the fall lines of most of the major nail polish companies. I like the full sweaters with creative necklines and corduroy pants. I like the non-white cups at Starbucks that start in the fall. I like the cooler temperatures that fall brings. I like the fall candle line at Bath & Body Works. I like fall because the leaves change color and start to literally fall onto the ground.

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This week, I want to talk about divestment. Just as the leaves start the process of divesting from their branches, I think it’s important for people to make sound divestments as well. We have all put up with situations and things longer than we should have at one point or another. We stayed at a job too long. We kept a friendship too long. We sat in a relationship for too long. We knew that we were past our expiry, but we held on because we thought walking away would cost us too much.

Little did we know that not walking would cost us much more.

Women, for all of our innate gloriousness, are particularly bad at divestment. We dig in and take on burdens that simply aren’t worth the effort. Of course, the social, familial, religious and other varied pressures that insist we perform the mental and emotional labor of everybody and cause us to hate ourselves when we don’t (or at least don’t want to), are the battery packs that make us keep on keeping on.

We are shamed into thinking that it’s wrong to put ourselves first. We are told that it’s “not nice” to stiff arm people for our own reasons. We are made to believe that we shouldn’t expect a standard of care and ought to be grateful for whatever positivity we do get from the people around us. We are convinced that our most precious gift, our intuition, is just paranoia. We are admonished to “let go” or “not harbor” negative feelings from the past.

I think it’s time for us to stop.

It’s time to stop the advocacy for people who don’t do the same for us.

It’s time to stop jumping into pseudo-philosophical e-arguments to defend people who would sooner throw us to the wolves.

It’s time to stop protecting the very people who physically harm us.

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It’s time to stop entertaining people who have proven day in and day out that they simply are not worth the legwork.

It’s time to stop pretending like our family members are evidence of a pretty picture that doesn’t actually exist.

In that vein, it’s time to stop pretending like our family members aren’t a part of the ugly picture that does exist.

It’s time to stop believing that if you have the 3rd, 12th and 49th heartfelt conversation with people about the same shit, hoping it’ll get better. It won’t. They aren’t that stupid. They know better. They just don’t care.

It’s time to stop not putting people in their place when they fail to honor you or your wishes.

It’s time to stop being nice when it’s not organic to the situation.

It’s time to stop picking up spiritual hitchhikers. They’re on the side of the road with their thumb out for a reason. Leave them there, lest they hop in your back seat and slit your throat while you’re rescuing them.

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You’re getting tired and worn down and wasting time and they are reaping the spoils of your travail; calling you crazy while they eat the cake you made.

And the icing on the cake is that we’re told we need to seek help by the very people who are the reasons we need to seek help.

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Fuck that.

Christmas is coming early. I’m Santita Claus. I’m using this season to make my IDFWU list and check it twice…and keep adding to it as necessary.

Is it wrong to care? No.

Does everybody deserve your care? Hell no.

I’ve long disabused myself of the need to take the moral high road. Letting people transgress your boundaries and acting like it’s okay doesn’t make you righteous, it makes you daft and secretly hating them with a smile on your face is a YUUUUGE waste of energy.

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Save yourself and be willing to rid yourself of anybody who thinks you shouldn’t save yourself.

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Throw your car in gear and peel the hell out.

As for those fallen leaves, they eventually become the nutrients that the soil needs to regenerate more lush plant life and, perhaps more relevant to the topic at hand, help choke out weeds.

While I get that physical divestment isn’t always an option, the one thing you can control is your mind and you can most definitely protect your spirit. You may not be able to control when the city comes to collect the trash but you can sure as hell make sure the stench doesn’t cloud your space and put it on the curb.

Lastly, to the people who will read this blog and whose foolish nature will compel them to try it…..

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Can I Live? Why Watching TV in the Social Justice Age Can Suck

I am a part of a group on FB that follows the OWN television show, “Greenleaf.” Greenleaf is about a family of pastors and other churchy characters dealing with real life situations like secretly gay husbands and unruly children. The part that makes any of it salacious is that all this bad behavior is being done by Christians; plus they’re Black so that adds the extra spice.

I also watch a show called “Queen Sugar.” I was reluctant at first but after reading people up and down my timeline rave about it, I finally gave in and got hooked. The show is about three siblings trying to deal with their personal demons while keeping alive the dream their deceased father had for the family farm.

They are both, what I consider, pretty good Wednesday night entertainment. That is, until I see a status the next day about how some scene was either –ist, -phobic, or made all (fill in the blank) look bad. For example, on one episode of Queen Sugar, Ralph Angel admits that his father had a separate will that left everything to him. Of course, his two older sisters were not at all pleased to find this out and it turned into the Sunday dinner from hell. The next day, on a popular social justice blog, I noted that I felt like one of the sisters in particular were over the top in their reaction.

Why did I do that? Why did I dare have an opinion about these fictional characters on television?

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My opinion was met with multiple responses trying to “school” me on everything from misogynoir to emotional trauma. All I could say was that as a BW, I’m really clear on misogynoir and having been a head case for as long as I can remember, nobody needs to prime me on emotional distress.

It may seem shallow or anti-intellectual, but sometimes, I just want to watch television for the hell of it. Despite what the high and mighty philosophers of nothing and the moralists say, human beings are attracted to spectacle. All of us. Each and every one. I’m secure enough to watch the Housewives of Atlanta and not take it as a statement of Black womanhood; especially not my Black womanhood. If white women can watch the Housewives of New York City, Orange County, New Jersey and Dallas and not feel like they need to hide their face in shame, why shouldn’t I?

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I’ll admit that I notice certain social justicey things too. For example, it doesn’t escape me that on both Queen Sugar and Greenleaf, you have a light-skinned (biracial, tbh) sibling who is well-intentioned and gets hostility from her dark-skinned siblings, seemingly for no real reason, and the script is written so that, at least in the beginning, everybody pities the sibling who doesn’t look like everybody else. But, everybody needs some let-up; even from social justice warrioring. I’d proffer that 24/7 fixation on everything that’s wrong with society is only going to wear us down in the end.

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This world gets crazier by the minute. We have a sitting president that e-beefs with everybody, including a world leader that likes to “test” missiles and possibly nuclear weapons. I am glad to watch two middle-aged rich white women argue about a 2 year-old rumor. I need to spend an hour each week watching a pretend bishop throw shade at his pretend wife for a pretend affair she had before any of us were born. These days, the more I can escape, the more of my sanity I can retain; and frankly, if I have to risk my health and well-being to fight the power 365 days/year, scratch my name off the list and call me again in 5 years.

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Now, I have to go. Lydia is in Shannon’s face on the Housewives of Orange County and I’m not gonna’ miss this!

 

The Black Girls’ Plight: Stressed Is Better Than Sensitive

This blog is going to be a little different. It’s not going to be one of my rousing witty critiques. Yet, I think it’s necessary.

With that said, this blog is dedicated to every Black girl, 8 to 80, who has ever been stifled, ignored, abused, shouted down, wrongly accused, unprotected, and antagonized; and didn’t have the love, support, voice or power to stop it.

Recently, a fellow blogger friend, LaFemme Aequitas, and I were talking about platonic relationships. We discussed friendships, upbringings, familial relationships, etc…In particular, we talked about how biology is often used as an excuse (more like bargaining chip) to tether us to people who are not good for us.

Many people are raised to put family over everything. It doesn’t matter that Uncle Henry nearly blinded you with a low ball glass while in a drunken rage when you were 8…and 12…and 14…and 18, he’s still Uncle Henry. It’s not a big deal that your parents either engaged in or shrugged off verbal, mental, physical, or emotional abuse or neglect. They’re still your parents and although you had no choice in that whatsoever, you still owe them reverence ‘cause 8 hours of labor and food on the table.

The Baby Boomer generation has been far more willing to overlook familial mismanagement in the name of honoring their elders. That’s their choice. But, the unintended consequence was that by repressing their parents’ bullshit, they visited that same bullshit upon their children, also known as GenX/Xennials/Millennials. Not only that, but they expect us to respond in the same docile way they did. They want us to make nice…bygones…fughettaboutit! At worst, they’ll just act like there were no problems. They wish to uphold the belief that parent-child respect is a one-way proposition that always leaves children empty-handed.

Welcome to the Terrordome. Because these days it’s easier to access people for support or collect information to help make sense of things, the cat has been let out of the bag. The youngins don’t feel like they have to force a fake grin anymore. We know what gaslighting and manipulation is. We can easily determine the narcissists among us. We recognize the hypocrites regardless of the masks they wear. We’re not afraid to say that if Aunt Marie is coming to Thanksgiving dinner, we aren’t coming. We know that there’s a fly in the milk and that simply pouring out the milk won’t be enough. The whole glass has to be thrown away. We have definitive criteria about who needs to be #cancelled, blood ties or not.

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I posted this yesterday on my personal Facebook page:

Trust

LaFemme Aequitas calls it “dark wisdom.” I call it discernment; the ability to pick up the energy that people emit and whether or not they are safe to be around. When I say safe, I don’t mean a general safety but whether or not they should be allowed to freely occupy your own space based on what it takes to keep you at peace.

As a Black woman who used to be a Black girl, I have found that operating in that discernment or any type of sensitivity can be a hard journey; especially when dealing with family. Black girls are always either “angry,” “crazy,” or “bitter.” You have a “bad attitude” and are “disrespectful.” Even the people who know for a fact that the things you perceive are true, will quickly label you as the negative one. You cannot be hurt, offended, or upset by anything. Any suggestion that you may be right about something being wrong will be used to try to lambaste you instead. Believing that you are entitled to the same respect that the living thorn in your ass (and their defenders) think they’re entitled to will get you swiftly ostracized or reprimanded. What happens if the person or situation you’re discerning is related to you? You should expect a double dose. What happens if the person or situation you’re discerning involves a male? Expect a triple dose. You’ll get proof of the existence of unicorns before anybody defends you without conditions.

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So, what to do?

Preserve yourself. To some, you are overly-sensitive. Some will say you are carrying a bone or grudge. But, I have found that in many instances, carrying that bone will save you. You don’t have to forget a damn thing. You don’t have to “get over” shit. It’s not your obligation to make people feel comfortable while they trespass your boundaries and then, have the gall to try to indict you. You are allowed to give it with the same intensity with which you get/got it. You’re allowed to ignore them. You are allowed to completely divest. You can disallow them entry into your physical or emotional space. You are not an emotional workhorse. Anyone….ANYONE who suggests that you should be is your adversary and is deserving of your scrutiny.

Inner peace is one of the most precious things that anybody can have. Do whatever you have to do to regain or protect yours.

To the people who may feel indicted by this piece, that means you’re either guilty of this behavior or have stood by and watched another adult do it and didn’t intervene, making you complicit.

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Quick story: The other day, while on an errand at Target, someone stole my front license plate. So all weekend, I’ve had to worry about driving and not getting a ticket since the registration office was closed. I’ve had to figure out what time to get to the registration office to beat the crowds. I had to wait for the police to call me back to take a report. I had to call the tollway authority and be placed on hold. I worried about whether or not the tollway authority would accept just a report number or if I’d have to go downtown, get a paper report and fax it in. I’ve wondered what kind of mischief the thief planned to do under my plate (and therefore, my name) all weekend before I could get it changed. The person who stole my license plate? They didn’t have to worry about shit all weekend. They probably slapped my plate on their car and hit the streets all weekend. They probably kicked back with a beer and a sandwich and watched the fight with glee. They may have even sold it and made a little cash. I have vowed to never visit that particular Target again.

I’m sure you get my point. The emotional, mental and physical toll it takes for children of all ages to fabricate problems that don’t/didn’t exist or exaggerate how those issues affect them isn’t worth it just to bring someone down or garner attention. The victims always pay the highest price. They don’t get to relax. They don’t get to forget. They don’t get to pretend. Do what you should have been doing all along: listen and listen from an honest place. If you feel offended, deal. How do you think they’ve been feeling?  Had you been paying attention, you’d know. Willful denial will not help the situation either (“I don’t know why she/he _____”).

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But, alas, nobody can make you care. Just know that childhood is when we learn who to trust and how to trust. Don’t disqualify yourself in the name of pride.

I end this blog the way I began it: to all the Black girls, 8 to 80, who had to put up with more than they should have, who never received validation, and whose souls have never gotten a chance to fully heal, I believe you and I’m sorry.

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Consider The Source: Bloggers As Life Guides

Social media is a great way to develop a following. People who may be introverted off the web can blossom into stars on the internet with the click of a “POST” button. Since the days of the AOL free trial CD, the world wide web has been a place where utter cowards could be emboldened, social outcasts could become the part of the “in-crowd,” and people who thought Caddyshack was deep could become life philosophers.

As romantic as that may sound (or not), I’m afraid that many of these electronic mavens have begun to warp the minds of their followers. What used to be largely for entertainment purposes only has turned into a cult-like bastion of bad advice being passed to the young and/or naïve.

I’m not talking about beauty bloggers who recommend products that are sure to offer a Sammy Sosa finish to brown-skinned ladies everywhere. That’s dreadful, but makeup can be washed off and you can start over. But, there are highly influential writers and bloggers who can often be spotted offering terrible life advice to their (usually) homogeneous reading audience. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but that people are shaping whole ideologies around what they read on blogs and FB pages. Ideologies eventually become behaviors, and then none of us are safe.

So, as a public service, I’ve decided to give you clues as to whether or not you should take the advice/teachings of your social media “faves” seriously.

  1. What is the logical possible outcome of following their advice? If the outcome of following their advice leads to poverty, illness, incarceration or severe emotional upheaval, ignore them. I can guarantee that they will not be contributing to your GFM campaign for bail, rent money, antibiotics, or your “self-care” retreat. You may experience the warm n’ fuzzies reading their account about how their scheme method worked for them but if in the real world, the risk far outweighs the reward, it’s best to skip it.

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  1. Have they or are they doing what they are saying you should do? Anybody who suggests (or even co-signs) that something they would never do is okay is a bullshitter and shouldn’t be trusted. For example, the “pro-hoe” movement that gained popularity last year. The premise is that well…the tenets of “hoeism” should be celebrated and those who participate, given high-five cause…empowerment. Sounds nice and inclusive but then, I noticed that some the biggest endorsers of the “pro-hoe” movement were women who had to preface their applause for “hoeism” with, “although it’s not my choice….” Hmmm…..why would you applaud a philosophy that you spurn?

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  1. What are their credentials? I’m not even talking about degrees and certificates. Picture it, Facebook, 2017. A prominent male SJW telling women how they should feel about bathroom bills. Enough said.

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  1. How has their viewpoint worked for them? What is the fruit of their years of work and discovery? It goes without saying that it makes no sense for anyone to take advice from someone whose own life isn’t a replica of where the advice-seeker wants to be. Would you hire a poor financial adviser or a routinely single or oft divorced relationship expert? Probably not.

Lastly…

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  1. Follow the money. By now, I’m confident that most of us know bad advice when we hear it. Our personal sensitivities may get us to travel to the other side of good sense, but, we know. If the person offering you…um…guidance, can’t say two words without asking for donations for their…um…wisdom, you may want to re-evaluate their platform. While I agree that those who teach deserve a wage, if they were that profound, they’d set up a consulting company instead of asking for money for information that can be easily found on Google.

Follow who you want. “Like” who you want. Read who you want. Just exercise caution before you become an –ite of theirs and find yourself on the opposite side of functional. But, what do I know? I’m just a blogger!

Why Not a Driver’s License? My Thoughts On The Changing (and Disturbing) Metrics of Cool

A FBF of mine sent me screenshots of a heated argument about “gender fluidity” a couple of weeks ago. In it, there was a young lady who called herself a man and was quite adamant that her rights were at stake should one of the many “bathroom bills” be passed by her local government. I visited her page. She noted that her pronouns are female (she/her). On one of her pics, she was modeling her new bikini. She had a post about acrylic nail designs. She received lots of positive responses to her post.

Maybe three days later, I was asked to share a GFM thread (I never do, BTW). I read the person’s narrative. It was full of buzzwords. This person needed donations because “capitalism” and some kind of “antagonism” had conspired to make them unemployed and as a somethingqueer person, they already knew that finding another job was going to be a task that would “trigger” their mental illness and cause them much “trauma.”

Three weeks ago, I was sent a link to what seemed like a GFM festival with at least 300 people asking for donations for anything from rent to groceries, to tuition. Because I notice trends, it didn’t escape me that every other person had some kind of mental illness, felt that work is a curse, or was…let’s say nonplussed…in regards to their identity/sexuality.

I haven’t missed the fact that a number of real issues have started to be used for attention and personal fundraising. Somewhere, in the midst of the revolution, people have learned how to game the system; ironically just like they claim the 1% takes advantage of them through capitalism. It’s interesting to watch a person become a mentally fatigued, battered, quadri-sexual, single motherfather™ with bunions and only a can of tuna in the pantry when they need to come up with a few hundred bucks. Surprisingly though, a mere 48 hours before, they were just Brad.

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I understand the hustle. Financially, asking for money you didn’t earn is a crapshoot so you have to make the best plea possible to get as much as you can; especially from strangers. Those who make up complex personas on the internet strictly for “likes” and friends are running a similar hustle. I mean, who’s going to “like” or follow you if you’re just who you are and live a typical life? That will never get you invited to the party, right?

For all my understanding of the game, I think it’s a little sick. There are people who have been diagnosed with terrible mental and physical illnesses. They are struggling, not because they don’t feel like waking up before 10 in the morning but because they have physiological aberrations that hinder them. Feeling bummed that you can’t eat at Chili’s this week or your boss won’t let you take Friday off doesn’t justify you telling everyone that you “struggle with depression” or are “oppressed” and trying to make people feel sorry enough for you to open their wallets.

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Being a woman and preferring pants and football or being a man who has an affinity for wigs and makeup, doesn’t make you “gender fluid”, trans, queer or any of the other identities that people battle with internally and externally every single day. You are not Ricky Vasquez (look it up). This is real life and real life is not about who you can con into letting you sit at the cool kids’ table for the 12 hours a day you’re on the internet.

Your parents telling you that if you’re going to live in their house, you need to keep your room clean isn’t the same as you living in an “abusive” household. Trying to get empathy (and/or cash) from people with that lie when there are people who are really in abusive households and can’t go anywhere, is quite distasteful.

 

Being cool used to be about having a driver’s license, owning the newest gadget or possessing some remarkable talent. The fact that 20 and 30-somethings are feigning illnesses, abuse, dysphorias, and all other manners of dilemma in order to make up for the fact that they weren’t part of the “in” crowd in high school is rather macabre.

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I know it’s fun to ride the wave, especially for the more insecure of us; but while you’re riding the wave, you may be treading on someone who doesn’t have the option to jump off the erratic jet ski like you do. If you want to collect e-friends or dollars, that’s your choice. Just come by it honestly.

 

A Forgotten Principle: How Otto Warmbier’s Death Highlights a Common Problem

Almost two weeks ago, Otto Warmbier, the man who visited North Korea and committed a crime while there, died due to injuries sustained in the North Korean prison where he was being held after being found guilty of his crime.

By now, we all know that the white American public, including the acting POTUS, Donald J. Trump, has expressed sadness, outrage and offered their sympathy to his parents. Trump and Warmbier’s father have even gone as far as to blame former President, Barack H. Obama for Warmbier’s fate. Many white amaericans were even angry at people who refuse to care about Warmbier around the same time that many of them sat stone-faced as the officer who killed Philando Castile (Jeronimo Yanez) walked away with a “not guilty” verdict after shooting him for doing nothing wrong – really.

This entry, however, is not about the bright pink elephant defecating in the corner of the room. This blog is about the forgotten principle that most of us (should have) learned in our formative years: actions have consequences.

I don’t know how Otto Warmbier was raised and I don’t know what kind of person he generally was, but his situation gives me a base to form a series of presumptions about both issues. Maybe he missed the lesson on reading and following directions (the poster was on a floor for employees only). Maybe he missed the lesson about not touching what doesn’t belong to you without permission. Maybe he missed the lesson about not stealing. Maybe he missed the lesson on respect for other people’s property. Maybe he missed the lesson on respect for other cultures/societies’ rules. Maybe he missed the lesson on thinking before you act. Or maybe, he missed none of those lessons but just didn’t care to take them seriously while he was under the jurisdiction of another country’s laws. Who knows? It doesn’t matter.

 

Otto Warmbier’s story is a great example of the fact that once a decision is made and acted upon, all the consequences that come with that decision are set in motion. Perhaps the hardest part of dealing with that fact is that we never know all the consequences that are attached to our actions and we don’t know if or when they’ll play out. According to a fellow traveler, when Warmbier was arrested, he had a “semi-smile” on his face. He never thought that what he thought was a benign action would lead to arrest, conviction, imprisonment, likely torture, and ultimately, his death. Oftentimes, we dance around that truth in the name of political correctness or in the interest of self-esteem, yet it’s still one of the inalienable laws that govern the universe.

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In a larger context, we should all be able to see how our choices often determine our trajectory. Many of the people who have taken the “he shouldn’t have done that then” stance have areas in their own life where they are making wrong turn after wrong turn and try to blame their undesirable location on some wicked overlord destined to crush them. While it may not lead them to Otto Warmbier’s fate, they are still going nowhere fast.

I will neither dance nor mourn the death of Otto Warmbier, but the people blaming former POTUS Obama or Kim Jong-Un or the tour company or anybody else but Otto Warmbier for his death are missing the part where a grown man elected to misbehave and paid the ultimate price. If only we could all consistently apply that simple principle.

You Can’t Sit With Us…Anymore: When Popular Becomes “Problematic”

Here’s a story:

Once upon a time, there were two Facebook friends. They connected over their love of free samples and hating people who say that working is a good way to make money. They enjoyed most of the same fan pages too. For years, they got along swimmingly. They even racked up mutuals. It was one big happy Facebook family.  One day, their favorite fan page had a discussion about the conditions at a chicken farm in Goodluck, Mississippi. One friend responded that it was sad but they’d still be getting their 3-piece mixed with biscuit for $5 on Wednesdays like they have for years. A mutual saw the comment, screenshot it, and posted it on their page with the instruction that anybody who has that person on their list delete him E-ME-JET-LEE! The friend who had shared their third Go Fund Me campaign that fiscal year, held their secrets and talked shit about somebody with them in PMs was now trash because their dedication to seasoned fowl made them too “problematic” to be friends with any longer. The rest of the friends all deleted the chicken-eating friend and forced him into hiding. He came back three months later under a new name in hopes of rebuilding his Facebook life.

Sound familiar? I’m sure it does. Every two months, a social media “fave” is outed for doing, saying or thinking something that the Facebook Committee of Dubious Logic & Morality™ deems problematic. For those of you not quite acquainted with the FCDLM™, being problematic basically means that you believe things that though they may be true, don’t make people feel good these days; and you just may be the reason the world will destruct in 5…4…3….2… The drill is that once you find out one of your friends is problematic, you’re supposed to disavow them, defriend them, and then let everybody know that they, too, should stay away from this monster.

The people who are into this kind of behavior think they are performing a public service. They think they are saving the rest of us from a future full of disappointment and headache by telling us to evacuate the building before there’s even a crack. All they’re really doing, though, is making themselves look like reactionary 7th graders. I’m sure the loose definition of “friends” these days has something to do with it. I mean, the people I consider friends would have a hard time surprising me with their socio-political beliefs. But even if your main locus of friendship is the world wide web, it’s okay that your friends don’t agree with every single thing that you do or think; it’s even beneficial if they don’t.

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But let’s back-up. 80% of the time, the person we’re supposed to stay away from didn’t really do or say anything that egregious. Your longtime friend, from Facebook or otherwise, saying “women menstruate” is not a phobe in support of the mass exile of trans people. You just have to pretend like they are because you’re afraid of how other people will perceive you as their friend. Some “male feminist” playboy you met on a social justice page getting you to pay for his bus ticket, food and lodging, and then talking you out of your panties while he’s “Netflix n’ chillin’” with 5 other women at home isn’t the capital offense you want it to be. Your feelings are hurt and your face is cracked because you realize you didn’t use good judgment and need someone other than yourself to which assign blame.

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The purpose of friendship is not to make you feel good about your bad decisions; nor is it to garner “likes”, followers or views on an app. Unless we’re talking about something especially heinous (I mean, if you’re friends with R. Kelly, you need to let that go already), you have to seriously evaluate whether or not your friend being pro-voucher or anti-tax is enough to drop them completely. Different friends and types of friendship should mutually provide different benefits. I’ve found that when philosophical disagreement are at play, it’s wise to remember why you developed a friendship with that person in the first place.

For example, I have a friend we’ll call Cherry Colastein. Her political values most closely resemble that of a Libertarian. I think it’s unrealistic to totally eradicate taxes and count on religious entities to provide the things that the various welfare systems in the country do. I also have a friend we’ll call Proteinia Shakelton. She is probably the most far left person in the country, although Guiness hasn’t called her yet. If it were up to her, the country would resemble a cross between Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and the Garden of Eden. In her world, money wouldn’t even exist. I think that goal is the stuff that unicorn dreams are made of and completely impractical.

Yet, I manage to maintain functional friendships with both of them. I’d never give up the non-hater in Cherry or the academic intellect of Proteinia over a political difference. We’ve learned the skill of compartmentalization. Cherry knows not to invite me to her Libertarian functions. I know not to invite Proteinia to gatherings with more of a right-leaning tone. We all know not to broach certain topics with each other lest the conversation turn into DEFCON 5.

It really is that simple.

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With all the talk these days about being triggered and the apparent trendiness of frailty, one would think that we’d be finding reasons to retain our friendships as opposed to getting rid of them when there is no ascertainable harm in keeping them.

Maybe our reliance on social media is slowly killing our various types of intelligence. Perhaps the cliquish nature of pages, groups and accounts has impeded our ability to deal with the differences of which we claim we want everybody to be accepting. Perhaps our ability to defriend people in an instant or have an online cheerleading squad without even a semblance of a true connection with other human beings has turned us into people who find even the smallest variance too uncomfortable to bear. Either way, at some point we’re going to have to realize that the liberation we claim we want is not going to come from lockstep interactions.

 

 

Checking My Privilege: ‘Cause I Ain’t Got Shit Else To Do

I, The Wayward Daughter, do solemnly check my privilege. I acknowledge that at 5’10.5”, I have tall privilege. I know that the ability to reach the top shelf at Tom Thumb has put me in a position of social privilege and that my evil pituitary gland has allowed me to wield power over those who did not have the opportunity to grow as tall as I did. I vow to use my tall privilege to rally for complimentary step stools on all aisles in all grocery stores across the nation.

I, The Wayward Daughter, do solemnly check my privilege. I acknowledge that as a meat-eater, I have diet privilege. I know that not having to explain to people that I only eat nuts, seeds, and pretend cheese puts me in a greater position to enjoy life and through time, I have contributed to the oppression of vegetarians and vegans alike. I am heartily sorry and from now on, any function I attend or throw will adhere to the 3-cup a day recommended minimum of fruits and veggies so that all guests will experience the equality they deserve.

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I, The Wayward Daughter, do solemnly check my privilege. I acknowledge that I’m subscribed to pretty much every streaming service available and therefore, have television viewing privilege. I know that my ability to catch my favorite shows with little or no commercial interruption fuels the 8-station epidemic in less fortunate communities. I realize that many, many, many people have to borrow passwords in order to experience the programming I do with my own account.  I promise to take a moment of silence for all the people relegated to community access television and their local Fox network before every binge session to try to right the wrongs this has caused.

I, The Wayward Daughter, do solemnly check my privilege. I acknowledge that I have coupon privilege. I have both a Tom Thumb Reward Card and a Kroger Plus Card….plus the apps on my phone that let me in on special deals. I know that the free vine-ripened tomatoes I got today (with purchase of same, limit 2) is a luxury that many people will never experience. As penance, I will rescue everyone I encounter who still shops at Wal-Mart by showing them the way that they too can shop at Tom Thumb…or anyplace other than Wal-Mart ‘cause…Honey, no.

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I, The Wayward Daughter, do solemnly check my privilege. I acknowledge that every athletic shoe I own is New Balance. I don’t really know how that’s privilege but I’ve seen memes that mock white people for wearing New Balance and since they have white privilege, I figured I “minus well” throw this in for good measure. *shrug* F*ck it! Y’all don’t know my arches!

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I, The Wayward Daughter, do solemnly check my privilege. I acknowledge that I have big hair privilege. I know that it’s a struggle to find elastics and other hair accessories that are reliable and cost-efficient. With my big hair privilege, I have been oppressive in buying these items three at a time and causing a shortage for the less privileged. I am committed to keeping my hair in goddess braids until women all over the world have elastic equality.

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I, The Wayward Daughter, do solemnly check my privilege. I acknowledge that I have electronic privilege. I counted and I have approximately 8 ways to talk smack on the internet at my immediate disposal. Because of this, I hold an unfair advantage over many people who only have their phone or computer on which to talk smack. AT&T would literally have to chop my wires which, in a war of words, makes me better outfitted than North Korea…and even then, I’d just go up the street to Starbucks and use their Wi-Fi….which I guess is another privilege. Anywho, I resolve to only talk smack from one device per day because I believe in fairness.

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I sincerely hope that by acknowledging and checking my privileges that I’ve helped hasten the day that we are all free. Won’t you join me?

Regards,

The Wayward Daughter

 

Missing The Point: My Issue With Deservedness

When I was in 5th grade, I went to a performing arts school (they called it a “vanguard”). One of my arts was theatre. That year, the big production was Alice In Wonderland. I wanted to play the role of the Queen of Hearts. I auditioned for the role three times. Two were private auditions with just the other students in theatre. The last audition was semi-public consisted of the drama teacher/director asking myself and another young actress, (we’ll call her Truly Wacken), to repeat the same line, “OFF WITH HER HEAD!” over and over and over again. Each time, Truly Wacken got worse. I was steady and consistent. The spectators were in awe of my performance (not bragging, just true). The next day at school, before I even had time to warm up my sausage biscuit, I was informed that Truly Wacken had gotten the part. Although I received a main part, I was NOT going to be the Queen of Hearts. Anybody at school who had seen any of the auditions was in awe that Truly Wacken would ever be selected for that part. I wanted that part. I “deserved” that part. But, I didn’t get it. So I acted my ass off in the role I was assigned.

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For several weeks, I’ve been thinking about this concept about what people do and don’t “deserve”. Most often, we’ll see the argument of merit in reference to poverty. Social justice writers will make posts and articles that contain “poor people deserve” somewhere in the first paragraph and go on to tell us that they “deserve” everything from fresh fruit to a cellphone to an iPad, also called “nice things.” Some articles even say “poor people deserve” luxuries (which seems to be subjective because I don’t consider a smartphone a “nice thing” or a “luxury” but many people do). The aim, as far as I can decipher, is to smack down the notion that those with more substantial financial resources shouldn’t be the only ones who get to experience the superfluous trappings of modern life.

I get it. As much as some assert that society hates poor people, I think that there’s also a belief that poverty is a sign of righteousness (which is probably why people who haven’t cracked a Bible since the Bicentennial seem to know a lot about how Jesus would react to poverty and capitalism). And who doesn’t “deserve” the best of the best of everything if not the righteous and suffering, right? There’s also that envy thing but that’s for another time.

But, I think the people who argue deservedness are actually arguing the wrong point.

First of all, if you ask the average person what they “deserve”, you’ll get mostly fanciful responses. 9 out of 10 people, no matter how many terrible things they’ve done, will say that they “deserve” to be millionaires with an ultra attractive spouse, Einstein-ish children, a palatial home and the ability to eat whatever they want and never gain weight. Basically, when we get into the game of what people “deserve”, we’ll be hard-pressed to get an honest assessment from anybody.

Secondly, it’s my belief that what someone “deserves” has less to do with what’s obvious and more to do with a set of intangible factors. Gandhi and Mother Teresa are examples of people who performed virtue but underneath their public persona, were involved in some highly questionable and even downright ghastly activities and philosophies. They aren’t the only ones. Do any of them really “deserve” to be lauded as they are?

Third, what people have or don’t have (or the capacity to have or not have), is based largely on a range of outside variables like their employment, their family size, their education, their habits, and other personal choices that we are told are nobody else’s business. Yes, some of us will have to work harder or longer for those things, but that’s an inescapable fact of life that doesn’t somehow qualify us for martyrdom.

Fourth, the notion of someone deserving something operates within a set of standards that I don’t think we, as a society, are clear about yet.

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Maybe the better argument is what people need, not “deserve.” I postulate that by focusing on what we need, we are in a better position to take ownership of getting those needs met. Fixating on what we think we “deserve” is a waste of time, mainly because it implies that responsibility for our life is in someone else’s hands. For the die-hard advocates, deciding what those for whom you do your activism “deserve” isn’t going to benefit them the way advocating for their needs will. Similar to those driver’s education cars with breaks on both sides, the goal should be to address their immediate need and give people the tools they lack to access the things conducive to stability long-term.

I have to question a mindset that looks at someone who has a problem with procuring stable housing, feeding themselves, accessing clean water, and healthcare and decides to declare that that person “deserves” cable. In fact, I wonder if these deservedness advocates actually know people who are really poor. I feel confident in saying that someone who can be described as “poor” or at/below the poverty line is not worried about not being able to stand in line for 8 hours for the newest iteration of the iPhone.

It turns out that Truly Wacken’s mom was donating hundreds of dollars’ worth of costuming to the Drama department and that’s why she was chosen to play Queen of Hearts (she also kind of resembled the Queen of Hearts but that’s extraneous shade). She was going to get that part no matter what. Though 5th grade me was ticked off at having been passed over, I needed the experience of being the best and still not winning. I needed to learn that me just being wonderful (by my own evaluation or that of others) would not always be enough. Over 20 years later, I’m still alive to tell the tale.

Most of us have heard someone say that the world owes each of us nothing. Whether or not you agree with that doctrine personally, the fact remains that it’s not about what we “deserve” but about what we have; and what we choose to do with what we have. It takes far more than us thinking we “deserve” things for them to actually materialize. Poverty, suffering, loss, unfairness, trauma are not new phenomena. These things make us neither deserving or non-deserving. They merely confirm that we’re human.

 

Picking Your Battles: In Defense of People Who Just Don’t Give A Damn

I’m a woman. Words like, “nurturing,” “caring,” and “accepting” are all commonly used to describe women. There is an implicit understanding that women are the ones who should bend over backward and support everyone, even when doing so is completely thankless and without benefit. Add Blackness to that same womanhood and you have the expectation that you should go hungry, sleep outside, march, come in early, stay late, and pretty much sacrifice your own standard of living to make sure other people are comfortable. In social media speak, it’s referred to as “muling.”

We can all attest to having that one (or one hundred) social media acquaintance who claims moral superiority because we dare talk about someone’s Oscars gown instead of multiple posts about the newest tragedy complete with footnotes and multiple links. They start hating you when you point out that laws aren’t necessarily based on morality, reparations were never on Obama’s “to-do” list, “just start a business” isn’t a feasible economic plan, weed isn’t a cure-all, and unconscionable decisions are pretty much a part of the presidential job description. Their final straw is when they post about a two-time felon and violent criminal being killed by a prison guard and instead of following their direction to call the governor of that state, you post about the 2 for $24 3-wick candle sale at Bath & Body Works. You are then DELETED!

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Unfortunately, in this era of heightened social consciousness (real or feigned), many of us refuse to deactivate our “Care” lever, and those of us who do, are often lambasted for doing so.  It just isn’t politically correct to not give a damn. If you don’t lie prostrate at the altar of social outrage about pretty much everything, you’re “part of the problem,” “stupid,” “denying your privilege,” “evil/cold-hearted,” an –ist/-phobic or some combination of any of the above. As we progress (technologically), we can be updated within seconds of everything newsworthy that happens almost anywhere in the world. This makes for a constant barrage of natural disasters, war, and bombings. It also means that we get a steady stream of sob stories, over-exaggerated cries for attention, and plain ol’ bad news. At some point, it’s just too much.

Is the IDGAF Club wrong for deciding to divest from this perpetual cycle of acrimony completely and mind their own business? I don’t think so. Further, I don’t believe that one has to throw themselves headlong into every social movement we’re presented with to be empathetic. One of the things that is repeated over and over again by SJWs is the requirement that people feel and be safe. Yet, we don’t think about the fact that for many people, it is safer for them not to invest tons of emotional and mental energy, let alone physical, into problems that are 1) ancient, 2) likely irremediable, or 3) wildly remote. In fact, a lot of the SJWs who want everybody to be concerned about everything and everybody should probably take a care sabbatical themselves (but that’s another blog post). Trying to be a caped crusader for others when you can hardly get your own life in order is imprudent and ultimately harmful.

The IDGAF Club has mastered one of the best life skills there is: picking their battles.

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As a BW, I choose to focus my concern on Black women and girls. I wish everybody well in their respective struggles, but I can’t be bothered with everything that every group deems unfair; especially when those same groups have historically disregarded the struggles of my own group. The rate at which Black women are killed by intimate partners is shameful. The numbers concerning the sexual abuse of Black girls is terrifying. That’s worth my outrage. That’s worth my energy.

The fact that there are kids who can’t afford school lunch is sad. The newest gentrification crises is a bummer. But, you probably won’t see me at a march, not even a town hall; and there usually has to be a dire situation to get me to sign a Change.org petition. It’s not that I don’t care about anything. I’d just rather be selective about the problems that I spend my time, effort, or resources on.

We’re no good to any movement if we keep trying to jump into every movement.