Learn To Talk 

Maya Angelou is one of the most powerful voices I have ever heard. In her letter and voice, there is an honesty which is relatable and tender. It is unapologetic, earnest and simple. Her death mirrored the grief I felt for my maternal grandmother one year prior in 2013.

It was my mother that told me to read her work and gave me a copy of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I was in 4th grade, uninterested; however, I didn’t realize what parallels I could pluck from the pieces of her life. What struck me most was how she went mute for years following the rape at the hands of her biological mother’s boyfriend at age 8.

While nothing of this trauma happened to me, it took years for me to develop the knowledge and confidence that my words too had power. My mother never told me when I actually began to talk, but from what she has told me, I was one of her children that ‘didn’t talk all the time.’

It was in high school when I began to turn towards words to cope. I felt that I couldn’t be heard unless it was on paper. I didn’t think that my voice was potent unless written or printed. There was a power there, this magic I could pull from my mouth and tongue to  which people would then listen.

I remember how much sense things made when they were written down. I remember in thought about how emotions made more sense when I could see them. Not that I was so emotionally unhinged that I couldn’t manage them, but writing them down–in writing down what I felt–it gave me space to feel.

I didn’t have to be perfect or unfeeling or super black girl with strength goddess-like — I could be hurt. I had the right to be upset and say why. I had the right to not be okay — and in a reality that didn’t lend itself to softness, I gave myself that space.

This is why I consider writing so important to me and see speech as weapon. There are things which are welled deep in the rock of whom we are, the experiences cannot be uttered; to utter them is to reactivate pain so deep it would snatch the words from you again.

In being honest with myself, in creating this space on paper, I learned that being me was enough. Being me was enough for me to continue to be me…the striving to be someone else was over. From that, I leaned to own my own story and — when strong enough –shout it…even when my voice shook.

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RUNITBACK FRIDAY (11/17/2017)


Aight. No intro. Let’s get it. Your girl got time for it today.

#DakotaAccessPipeline

Water is life.

Land not for sale.

Respect the earth.

We tried to tell you.

#JordanPeele

I had to snatch the entire Golden Globes for how they thought it was okay to categorize GET OUT as a comedy, so read the bonus post I GOT TIME: ‘GET OUT’.

 

#MeekMill

This is some nonsense. This man has been living his life and trying to be better (rap career notwithstanding) and got caught up. My heart hurts for him. All I have for this is the Tupac lyric, “They got a war on drugs so the police can bother me.”

The system will never protect the people it was never created to protect. Understand, this initial charge happened in his youth—and he’s still paying for it. This is one of the reasons why I am so in favor of mentorship and fatherhood. Our sons will never do better until they see better exists and is attainable.

#IAmAWoman

#DontTouchMe

#IDontBelongToYou

If I hear something else about women being touched, Imma start slapping folk. The problem this nation is facing is not new. This problem of select men seeing women as property to self or communal property is not new. The women it is happening to is new.

From Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, the Orange Idiot and the dude that takes too long to stop looking at you, there is a legit deficit in character where you believe every woman you see you (in the words of my Daddy, who told me NO ONE should touch me ‘less I want them to!) just got to have!

There is no respect for women, especially women of color, in this country.

None.

Fight me.

There is a lack of the respect of women I have seen that only my grandma would have been alive to see and relay.

In all this, the disturbing thing?

People knew.

People KNEW!

It’s easy to tell a fool because he always got his mouth open.

Roy Moore is a fool.

45 is a fool.

Harvey Weinstein is a fool.

And they are also predatory in their behavior. And like all predators, they had hunting grounds.

Harvey’s was entertainment arenas: production offices, bars filled with hungry starlets and movie sets wanting to be discovered. He levied power and influence to snatch them up.

Roy Moore had an entire community in Alabama to stalk and seek to the point it was common knowledge he liked young and younger girls, and he got put out of a mall for lecherous behavior.

The scariest monsters are in plain sight–not under beds. He hunted and stalked these girls and wrapped his prestige around him like Hades’s cloak of invisibility, knowing that no one would stop him or see him to stop him.

45 had boardrooms, back offices, jets and hotel rooms. He hides in money, power and influence. Ivanka believes her father doesn’t do monstrous things, but Roy Moore she accuses, backing Moore’s victims. But your pappy did the same thing?!

Women are not possessions. We are people. Why is that so hard to understand? Why is a woman only believed when she’s white or white and monied?

My body, our bodies belong to us!

Rape culture persists because there are men whom persist to rape, molest and catcall. But when the leader of the free world whom is not Angela Merkel admits he grabs pussy—what can the other Romans do when in Rome?

Teach your daughters that their bodies are precious and special. No one gets to touch them because they want to or just because they are pretty. And give them the right to protect themselves–without apology.

I Got Time: “GET OUT”

I saw GET OUT with my husband of 4 years on our living room couch. I screamed and was almost in tears insisting to my husband that “We had to help Chris!” I had a visceral reaction to hearing “Stay woke!” from Redbone in the car with my children days later.

Dude.

I legit was climbing the couch screaming–being a writer makes your hyper-observant to everything around you and everything you see. This film let me know the brilliance of Jordan Peele and the rich nature of this thing called blackness.

 

Today I found out this movie, that I’m STILL unraveling the Easter Eggs Jordan Peele left 3 months later, was nominated for a Golden Globe.

AWESOME.

I also found out this brilliant movie was nominated in/for the category of Best Comedy.

 

Really?!

Comedy.

COMEDY.

Allow me to be The Loud Girl I spoke about yesterday right quick, because I’m a writer and this is some nonsense…

GET OUT is not a damn comedy. Just because Jordan Peele is one half of a comedy duo on Comedy Central doesn’t mean he can’t write or cannot write anything else! Don’t fix your ballot to cheapen his work to say this is an f’n comedy. The author of this work and screenplay writer, Mr. Peele himself, calls this a social thriller. What the (bleep) about that is (bleep) funny?! WHAT ABOUT THAT IS FUNNY?!

Not a drama, but comedy?

Aight.

Am I upset? Yes. This is artistic discrimination–whether it is intentional? Yeah, it is! Hell yes it is?! What parts were funny?

I’ll wait.

I got time for it.

The over/hypersexualization of black men?

The depression/stigma of black women and men?

The societal lusting of us as a people–body, artistic/athletic gifting, personal style and creativity?

The fact that The Sunken Place indeed is real?

I could go on…but watch the damn movie!

There is nothing funny about this movie! As a writer, as a writer whom is a woman of color, I am utterly f-ckin offended.

The Golden Globes just served a cold slap to Jordan Peele — and Baptist Church mother peppermints disguised as praise — and lowered the quality of the work to something that can be laughed at rather than considered and discussed (which by the way, is one of the purposes of satire)! Granted, Jordan declared that this film/his movie is a ‘societal thriller’ and  ‘doesn’t fit in any genre category.’

Damn that. That being said, it’s not a f-ckin comedy. Even if it is satire. The only funny thing is Jordan ain’t whup nobody ass, and he is in talks to redo The Twilight Zone so, Jordan gon’ get this paper irregardless* of what these dumbass people think…

 

Black. Writers. Matter.

Respect our work.

We are done asking.

 

*-I know this is not a word. It was used for emphasis.

The Loud Girl

I’m used to noise. I’m used to laughter, swearing, and other voice-powered thought in the midst of conversation. When my husband met me, he said I was a loud girl.

Hmm.

The LOUD girl.

When I was little, I didn’t know what that was. I did know that the loud girl was. I know that my mother taught my younger sister to be diplomatic versus loud and abrasive. “There is no need to act like you have no couth about you.”

My mom didn’t get loud with customer service, snap off about wrong orders or missing fries, or get finger-pointing indignant in Target when she thought she was being overcharged for something. In a world that expects every black woman to be this angry, mendacious presence, she was an antidote for that.

Aside from my mother and grandmother, the most formidable woman I know is five foot tall. My Aunt Linda is the most boisterous woman of whom I am related. She meant what she said, said what she meant and had no qualms about letting ninjas have it if she was upset–and it was never at a whisper.

But in that dichotomy held my balance. That same balance I knew and saw that not every girl whom looked like my mother or aunt had.

I learned how to handle people. I learned that not everyone responds to class and charm. I also learned that demure and finesse work a lot better than screaming and cursing which lead to more attention than you wanted–but you keep going because there’s attention drawn.

I learned to mean what I say and back up what I said I would and could do. The secret weapon? Be meek as a dove and wise as a serpent. Be vigilant and unfuckwitable.

I’ve seen the women that look like me in less than favorable light and speech whom have totally snapped out and lost it. I, too, have been the one that was in a less than favorable light, snapped out and lost it, with the trifecta present: cuffs, police and a camera.

In writing, there are moments that make editors insane because the text they read is not akin to the speech they are used to, and they desire to change it. That could be no more correct than in the community I make my home.

There are women so acquainted with pain that all they can do is lash out because they have never been listened to and had to fight for all they had. Men included. There are some women whom never have had to experience that type of loss, abandonment or pain whom look down on the women whom have. The lack of life experience can make you callous or curious.

If we’re honest, we all have been the loud girl or have loved one. We’ve also pointed them out and warned our younger siblings not to be that.

The we’ve also been the girl that couldn’t take anymore, who had to fight and stand up for herself because no one else has or would. We’ve dressed this pain and awareness up with degrees and zipcodes and $30 lipstick. But TRUST, those lioness selves stay at the ready.

Black women are not a monolith. We need to stop seeing ourselves as that. There are levels and depths to our stories and speech that can’t be dismissed because a woman that looks like you thinks it’s uncouth.

Granted, not every woman needs to be popping off about fries or full sets–not everything needs to be handled with a level-10 response. And just because the woman quietly waiting behind the woman at Target whom is popping off about sheet set she just bought isn’t being just as silly does not mean she doesn’t have the capacity to take it there if need be.

We gotta do better y’all. We start that by accepting the Great Gatsby quote as gospel:

Just because she’s the loud girl doesn’t mean she’s less than, hear?

If you’re honest, you knew them fries were cold and just didn’t say nothing…

Englishes

I don’t know when it was that I was told I “talked like a white girl.” I have no idea still what that means. I know it made me feel less than and less black. I know, with my first name coupled with the fact I spoke well, made me in theory and application a white girl.

It was the oddest feeling, even now, to be told, because I have a knack for language and I’m linguistically fluid, my nationality does not match.

Hmph.

 

Amy Tan said words are her tools, and she spoke several Englishes.

ENGLISHES.

That was so accurate! I speak several languages. I learned that I needed to! They are tools of adaptation and negotiation!

My Englishes?

Hoodspeak.

Twang with Mississippi emphasis.

City-County (it’s a St. Louis thing).

Geek.

Blerd (A nerd who is black)

Academia.

*White Girl. This English is reserved for emergencies, phone interviews and in-person interviews.

Being a writer, it’s my job to stretch, play with and even create Englishes. I’m supposed to be able to record life and, at times, translate it. Life is messy and complicated, full of sounds and dialects. Speech is never supposed to sound the same in different parts of the world, because people aren’t the same.

So…what to tell the little girl that “sounds white”? Nah, son. You just speak more Englishes.

RUNITBACK FRIDAY (11/10/17)

Welcome to RUNITBACK FRIDAY! Here, all the things that were on my mind all week but I couldn’t speak about or blog about will be here for your tea sippage. Get a snack.

#LEADERSHIP

For my local Firestarters, Prop P. This was the proposition to pay for more officers in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. The thinking being, “More police, more safety.” Or, “More money will keep the good officers.

Yeah.

This measure passed–yet no police reform is taking place. The Mayor of St. Louis, Lyin Lyda Krewson, said in January ’17 if elected mayor she would fire the corrupt leader of the police union, Jeff Rooda. He’s still there. She shook his hand earlier this month. And Jason Stockley murdered Anthony Lamar Smith with a blue wall backing with brick by Rooda.

Thoughts?

You cannot throw money at this issue. Police abolishing must happen or reform. The current state and permutation of law enforcement is terroristic in nature and cannot co-exist with the continued safety of the people they are paid to serve.

#iPhoneX

This phone is like $1000. It’s a Louis Vuitton bag. It’s half the price of the Givenchy Antigone bag. It’s a small child you can keep in your bag. And the letter I is malfunctioning? Nall, son. I can’t. 🤦🏾‍♀️ Y’all can have it.

#TheEmperorIsNaked I really want Mike Flynn to be the Sammy Gravano of this situation. I want him to tell Bob Mueller 45’s shoe size! I want him to realize he’s been set up. I want Ivanka’s pappy to do a perp walk. This madness is not sustainable. It isn’t. We know there is a man behind the curtain, and he has a half-trillion dollar motive not to give a damn about anyone on the West side of the Atlantic. Don’t be fooled! The revolution is yet happening, and resistance is on deck. And they caught his son too? Oh, yeah. Give it time. That’s all Sammy needed.

#RoyMoore The GOP doesn’t give a f— about women. Or families. This woman, these women whom have come forward are not believed because of who the man is. The Alabama state auditor likened this situation to Mary and Joseph. Yes, THAT MARY and THAT JOSEPH. This is how rape culture explains itself while men aren’t held accountable, and it roots in the social psyche. If you are a woman and a Republican…you are stupid. More stupid if you voted for 45 after he admitted he grabs pussy.

We’re a year into this insanity. In the words of Kendrick Lamar, though, “we gon’ be alright.” RESIST.

They Called Me One Too


They called me a whore.

They called me an empty barrel.



It took me a full two weeks to get calm enough to form thoughts which did not involve epithets which were outwardly prejudiced in speech or so vile in rage.
I won’t rehash what happened to Congresswoman Wilson of Florida. I will not give this devil’s mascarade pretending to be an administration any extra verbage. But, it was her boldness and truth-telling that made her a target for hate speech and on my radar this month for defense.

In my assertion, in my experience and observation, I offer this, “They called me one too.”

What this incident boils down to is this:  The country is upset that a black woman dared to call a white man a lie–and not apologize.

No more.

No less.


Congresswoman Wilson is old enough to be my mother. As a woman, as a black woman, I felt this disrespect on a visceral level. They might as well have spit on her. This radio host just this week apologizing for calling a sitting congresswoman a loose, ill-moral person is of no use. He still said it. He still meant it.
Yet…this nation loves black women until it has to hear from us. Until we demand instead of cower when we confront lie rather than placate. Until our footsteps match the volume of our voices.

So, no, black women are used to opposition and people assuming the worst in us and undercutting us by societal value placed on us. The society at large likes us as nannies, mammies, the sassy friends or the tokens among the pool of those white friends.

Congresswoman Wilson kept her poise, back straight, and stood on what she meant and refused to be intimidated. It is this element of magic we house in speech that the world hates about black women–the incredibly hewn tenacity–that a roar hides in our throats.

John Kelly isn’t the last white man to call a black woman a name or a lie. What may be different is there are women whom look like her daughters, because she looks like our mother, who ain’t about to have our elder disrespected in our face, and we not say something.

Black women, we ALWAYS have something to say. And we don’t shut up for comfort.