Déjame: The Self-Care That People Seem To Hate

I’m going to let you all into my life a little. I work a day job. I get up and go to work most days of the week. I work long hours most of the time. On my day(s) off, I mostly sleep, do laundry, grocery shop, prepare my lunch for the week, give sassy responses to the men who contacted me on dating apps, and try to catch up on all my shows on the DVR.

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I know that this doesn’t sound too much different from the lives of most adults my age. The thing that’s different is that I’m pretty sure that at least 75% of the people at my job need to be committed long-term (insert cries of ableism). There’s also another large segment who feel the need to be up your ass all.the.time. You can’t pop the top on a Crystal Pepsi without a barrage of questions that are all code for, “can I have some?” or some other way to inject themselves into your time, space and/or business.

at work

Another thing about me is that I don’t really make friends at work – ever. I’ve met some cool people at this job and I’ve even met a few that I want to keep in contact with when it’s time for me to move on. One of these people really crossed one of my personal boundaries Friday, however, and now I’m starting to re-think where or if I want her in my life long-term.

The thing is…I don’t like feeling trapped. I don’t like feeling smothered. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that I actually fear the thought of being constricted. Friday was already a stressful day. I’m on the verge of PMS and the constant chatter was just irritating me. I put on my sunglasses, popped in my earphones, and worked away. Yet, it seemed that every half hour or so, somebody was trying to get my attention, not for work-related shit, but just because they didn’t feel like working in that moment. I felt like I had been locked up in a cell with a bunch of motormouths and, more than usual, it was a living nightmare.

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Things came to a head when I ordered delivery for lunch. I went outside and got my food (shrimp) and came to my desk. I put my earphones back in, shades back on my face, and continued typing away. I didn’t even open the sack. Like clockwork, one of the people at work that I actually like came a-knocking. I didn’t even look in that direction, shook my head, and kept working.

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Long story short, that lead to some adult form of the silent treatment (which in and of itself is a paradox if you ask me) for the rest of day. I was told I had a “stank attitude” that this person didn’t “have time for.” Let’s be clear, I already knew what was going to happen. This person was going to ask what was in the bag and then eventually if she could have a taste, (though she had already easily eaten 600-800 calories worth of snacks and other foods, before I even ordered my lunch).

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On the drive home, I started to think to myself: why does society have such a problem with people wanting to be left alone? What’s wrong with someone not having something to say and deciding not to talk just to hear their own voice? That’s wrong with people wanting to enjoy the silence (cue Depeche Mode)?

I live in the south. Here, if you don’t walk around like you’re at Disneyland, you’re “cold,” “mean,” “uppity,” and any other word that’s used to try to guilt people into being social. If you’re a Black woman, you can add in the (apparently) obligatory accusation of anger. I’m not talking about the smart-alecky extrovert vs. introvert memes. I’m talking about the lack of understanding that people have a right to their space; and that someone asserting that right should not be considered to have committed a social faux pas. And though it doesn’t rise to the same level of sexual harassment, the irony is not lost on me that people are all-in (at least verbally) on taking consent seriously but still have a problem accepting being denied people’s time, space and emotional/mental energy.

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Just like we accept that annoying people can’t help being annoying and that nosy people can’t help being nosy, we need to collectively make peace with the fact that people who don’t want to spend the bulk of their time unnecessarily interacting can’t help being who they are.

Speaking for myself, I find people exhausting. When I was 16, I had a job that involved heavy interaction with customers and I knew then that I wasn’t cut out for constant interplay with others. I was “shy” as a child but in adulthood, I literally become physically tired by too much interaction at times.

 

We talk a lot about the importance of self-care these days. What if someone’s self-care is silence and needing others to leave them the fuck alone until they can re-charge? Energy is precious and I will never apologize for trying to preserve mine. If you’re like me, you shouldn’t either.

If you’re one of the bigmouthed offenders, it’s time to stop. Someone wanting you to go be interested in something else but them at any given moment isn’t a personal slight but if you keep transgressing their boundaries, it could become something you can’t bounce back from…

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2017: The Year From Hell For Which I’m Grateful

2017 was probably the hardest year of my life, thus far. It started out okay but when the leaves began to change and the temperature became colder, so did my life.

In 2017, I lost my husband (through separation) and one of my favorite people in the entire world, my grandmother, through death.

Yet, out of what seemed like the worst of times, the best of times also emerged. You see, I’ve always liked learning and 2017 was the teacher that I needed. Being somewhat of a Type A personality, I always thought that I stayed prepared for the worst, but 2017 taught me how to really gird my loins.

2017 taught me a new fighting stance. 2017 taught me how to jump higher, run faster, duck lower. 2017 was the steeplechase that I needed to train me and get me in shape for what is to come. 2017 went in and found all the cracks and leaks that were going to cause me worse problems in the future and went to work on them.

Most importantly, in 2017, I learned I’m much stronger than I thought. I learned that the things that I thought would be Mt. Everest experiences for me were really hills that I could easily surmount.

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Nobody can promise us anything. People wish us well and have good intentions when they do so but life, I find, isn’t subject to any of us. Life, for those of us claiming to want to be better and do better, will sometimes serve us dishes that are more bitter than we like with the purpose of training our taste buds, so to speak. It’s up to us to be open the road that leads us to where we say we want to be or reject the pruning and stay trapped where we are.

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Though I shed many, many, many tears in 2017, I’m grateful that I made it. I’m thankful that I didn’t just make it, but that I came out of it with a new perspective on life and a fresh concept of who I am. I’m not trying to BS you with some new age/shout it to the universe and you’ll get it/think positively balderdash. If anything, I hope you take with you the fact that life can difficult but, unlike people, when life gets hard, it’s not to us but to propel us. Our job is to be attentive students.

Best wishes for 2018.

 

 

 

His Fans: The People I Hate As Much As R. Kelly

It’s been a few weeks and I’ve had many changes in my life. While so much has changed, so much has stayed the same.

Tyrese is still every bit the fuckass that those of us with common sense always believed him to be.

Even more prominent men have been exposed for being sexual degenerates.

Donald Trump is still inexplicably the POTUS, thus continuing the hope of every less than mediocre white man that they too can slink into places they don’t actually belong.

But alas, dear readers, I have some good news.

  1. R. Kelly, the HOIC (Head Ogre In Charge), got both of his homes broken into and all his prized possessions stolen.

In the words of Shirley Ceasar, hold my mule whilst I dance a jig of glee….

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Let me back up. I don’t really spend too much time talking about Robert Kelly but I’ll go on the record with a few things:

  1. I believe he’s guilty of everything he’s been accused of in terms of his sexually predatory behavior towards young Black girls.
  2. I believe he’s guilty of everything he’s been recently accused of in terms of holding “adult” women hostage as “sex slaves” of some sort.
  3. I think he’s trash.
  4. I have not listened to one of his songs in IDK how long and have considered writing the major music streaming services to offer the option to opt-out of hearing him at all because he’s not even worth a “skip.”
  5. If you can honestly listen to his music or go to his concerts with a clear conscience, something is wrong with you and, to be quite honest, you’re part of the problem in the Black community where our girls are victimized but we don’t hold these lecherous grown ass nasty men accountable.

 

porsha

With that said, let’s talk about number 5. I often ask myself if the people who continue to support him realize that they are in league with, but a bit worse than, the people who throw a BBQ for the cousin who comes home from prison after his fourth strike but couldn’t show up for their other cousin’s graduation.

The way I see it, writing songs takes inspiration. What sick and demented fantasies do you think inspired R. Kelly, the reigning king of sex songs who has an affinity towards young girls?

In that vein, what the fuck is wrong with you who still listen and patronize his shit that you can rock, bop, and screw to the songs of someone who has a sexual perversion that revolves around children?

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In our community, we love to give predators a pass. It doesn’t matter if it’s R. Kelly or Uncle So-And-So, we find a way to either sweep it under the rug or worse, blame their victims for being “fast.” The innawebs are RIPE with men who swear fo’ gawd that little 14-year-old children not only visually entice them (on purpose, of course), but physically approach and throw themselves at grown men “all the time.”

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As a former 14-year-old girl, I can say without a doubt that every one of those mutha’ fukkas are lying through their teeth. When I was 14 and males grown enough to have facial hair and a day job instead of sitting next to me in Algebra II catcalled or followed me, I was creeped the fuck out; not flattered.

When I was about 9 and waiting for my mom to finish getting something gift-wrapped at Sears, and a man sat next to me and asked me if I was ticklish, I wished the gift-wrapping agent would suddenly develop warp speed. I did not feel complimented and if I remember myself at 9, I probably had on my private school jumper and oxford shoes. I’m thankful to this day that I told that (likely) child molester that I was not, indeed, ticklish.

But let’s pretend these bitch ass child molestation sympathizers on the web aren’t lying. Let’s pretend that they do, indeed, live in a real-life version of some Lifetime movie where the teen babysitter tries to have sex with the 40-year-old husband. Where is the maturity and responsibility of adulthood? You aren’t 12 and she, the CHILD, isn’t the jar of candy your mom told you not to touch. Of course, I’m not a pedophile so maybe my brain just functions differently, but it seems to me that if I were approached by someone who is young enough for me to have babysat them at some point, I’d tell them to go home and study for their history test.

I sit and read and watch people in our community make excuses for all manner criminality and play mental gymnastics as to why some dude who would sooner knife you for the $10 in your purse, (turns out, they may not only knife you, but want to rape your child too), didn’t deserve to get molly whopped by the police but then twist their fingers to type a badly-spelled diatribe about why a 13-year-old deserves to at least share the blame for being violated by someone who probably has kids her age.

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At this point, I think it’s a hopeless proposition to expect our community to ever care about Black girls and women. As far as R. Kelly is concerned, I await the day a white girl or white woman comes out against him so that maybe he’ll see a few days in the clink….or his maker (because white men are good about setting a standard of care for their women and making people pay who dishonor them).

leo

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts On The Racist Roommate, Tyrese & Hollywood Sexual Misconduct “Allegations”

Partie Un

She would have caught these hands until she didn’t know her ass from a hole in the wall.

I’m serious.

I’m neither a lover nor a fighter. The last time I was in a slight physical altercation was in 4th grade when the class bully set her sights on me and that was over in 6 seconds when she flew across the bathroom floor.

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I’m quiet. I’m reserved. I’m an intellectual. But I swear fo’ gawd and all the saints, the day I find out you stuck my toothbrush up your ass, you’re going to need Jesus, the Hare Krishna, Muhammad, David Koresh, Deepak Chopra, the priest from The Exorcist, the lady from Poltergeist, and all the Marvel superheroes to save you from the fade you will surely catch.

Rubbing your bloody tampon on my possessions? You just signed up for the combo special that comes with a free colostomy bag…if you live.

I’m just waiting for the other white people to try to act like she’s either sick in the head or somehow not really racist and just a “kid” who used “bad judgment” because we all know that white people would rather be called malignant sociopaths with scabies for brains than racist.

I just hope her roommate doesn’t forgive her by reflex as Black people are commonly tasked with doing.

Partie Deux

For me to care about Tyrese’s problems, I’d have to pretend that he has not been antagonistic towards Black women.

I rarely played pretend as a child and won’t start now.

It is long past time for Black men to realize that when they antagonize, victimize and slander the image of their mother, they are cursing themselves with a thousand curses.

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I give not two damns about him being broke even though he’s been in 9874958 iterations of Fast and Furious. I still have plenty of money from my paycheck almost two weeks ago but he hasn’t figured out how to make 7 figures upon 7 figures upon 7 figures last?

“Nobody wants to hire meeeee….” Mmmkay. Not sure who else was trying to hire you but the producers of Fast and Furious or some concert promoter who likes to put on shows with 90s singers who became famous by accident but, uh-ruh….

And I’m still trying to figure out why he referenced The Rock in his fit. Don’t be mad that DeWayne figured out how to do arithmetic and save money. Don’t be mad that DeWayne has marketability by himself while you have to be surrounded by 98759377 other people for anybody to pay attention to you, Ty.

While you were looking up “mendments” and trying to tell women you don’t know how to look and behave 72 hours after marrying your true love, maybe you should have been balancing your checkbook instead.

I’ll leave him and all the other Black men who antagonize Black women with the same “advice” they like to give: you should have chosen better *shrug*

Partie Trois

So, ever since the allegations against Harvey Weinstein’s bad behavior surfaced, actors and other Hollywooders all over the place are being exposed. Kevin Spacey, Danny Masterson, Brett Rattner, etc have all been identified as men who may have either sexually harassed or assaulted either women or even children and teens.

Let’s be clear: I use the word “allegations” loosely because I’m not about to get sued by people who may not be able to keep their hands (and other body parts) to themselves.

My take is simply this: it should not take social media movements for networks and executives to put the trash on the curb where it belongs. I’d have to believe that the heads (and feet) of these companies did not know that these men were engaged in such behavior and well, I don’t.

oh please

I only know of Kevin Spacey from his screen work and even I had “heard” that he had done certain inappropriate things long before this story broke. Lil’ ol’ me….in Dallas, TX, who has never met him personally. Are we then to believe that the studio executives and directors and producers never had any clue that these men consistently behaved badly? GTFOH.

Unfortunately for Kevin Spacey, he’s not Black and heterosexual. If he were, he could sit back, still collect a check and watch people talk shit about his victims.

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There’s a word for people who cover up the misdeeds of others: complicit.

 

 

 

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.

leaves

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.

laughing

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?

Aviva

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.

Lynn Whitfield

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.

Lydia

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.