I have considered myself someone that has tried to matter. I have tried to support, be a support and to add love when need be. Just this past week, I was reminded that even though this life is mine, other people indeed see it.
I was watching a live YouTube video by a pretty well known personality (JahairasMission) and have been a fan of hers for some time (read: years). I would leave encouraging comments and real speak. I celebrated with her, cried with her and watched her just blossom in the midst of crazy.
I logged on (it was a live chat) and I logged in like 10 minutes into the broadcast. I didn’t think she would notice me (she has like 2000 some-odd subscribers). She said about 2 minutes after, “Omigod y’all my sister just logged in! *TheLadyHarris!” And she proceeded to tell the entire viewing audience that she loved me and was thankful for me.
I legit had to listen to the video 3 times after that to make sure I wasn’t crazy.
I was humbled. I was amazed and I really didn’t think I had done something great to be acknowledged let alone called a sister by someone I didn’t know.
Why that is important?
It matters not just why you live, but how you live. It matters if you sow love or dischord. It matters if you affirm or destroy. It matters that people see you struggle–and overcome. It matters if you let the light die in you or beam from you. It matters.
Your life is, this life is, a complex set of experiences and parameters. These experiences and their results are akin to the stands of cobwebs…it touches everything else. In the inadvertent, it still touches. And those touches, touch someone else.
Never think that whom you touch doesn’t realize it. Some of the WHY it is you’re here, is dependent on who touched you–some are more far reaching than others.
*-Yes, this is my YouTube handle. The channel is currently being developed. Thank you.
I stayed away from the topic, the life of this young girl as long as I could. Until, it became imperative that I add my voice to her chorus of supporters.
Bresha Meadows was 14 when she murdered her father, whom was abusive to her, her mother and two other siblings. She shot her father while he was sleeping on couch with a gun he kept in the house. She has been in juvenile detention over a year, and as of this month, I believe this week, she has been released and now she can go home.
However, nothing is normal about this. Nothing. About. This. Is. Normal.
I could expound on domestic violence, the lack of resources to this family and the horrible predicament her mother was in, and why it took so much, and so long, and so wrong to get to this point. I could even focus on Bresha…but right now, I want to focus on the world by which both coincide.
We have a nation by which sexualizes, disrespects and utterly disregards women and girls. We are valued for what we have under clothes, and how well those attributes serve the male populace. Even the current, sitting president is quoted to have you have to treat women like shit, and “You can do anything you want to do. Grab ’em by the pussy.” With that said, imagine what it is like to be a young girl seeing all this, and more and the man that is supposed to be your buffer towards that perpetuating it. Being an adult female affords your some defense, you can maneuver and speak–but a 14 year old girl?
In the maze of growing up, the changes that it involves, it is hard and almost hell-bent to find a soft place to fall and regroup. Home is supposed to be one of those places. Its supposed to be where you can heal, be healed and breathe. You should not have to fight the world, and the people that live in your immediate world. This child, this young woman, thought the only solace could be, would be, to eliminate the source of that pain, that fear and contempt. The fact that it was her father is more egregious.
Bresha found that no one was able to help her, unless she had to help herself. Her mother was refused the help she needed from the law (she had applied for a restraining order, and we all know just how good those work, right), or anyone else around her. Or perhaps they knew and still couldn’t help her. There was no older sibling or superhero to help her. From that, Bresha chose to murder her father…to make it all stop. With that shot, her world spun off the hinges–and affected ever axis thereafter.
Bresha shot the man that should have been able to tell her that she was beautiful, valuable, and brilliant. The man that should have been able to take a bullet for her, and to remind her that he is the first and last man that will and would love her. He should have been the arms that protected her, wizened her to the world that desired to dismantle her.
As she squeezed the trigger, and her heart exploded in her chest and ears from its release, I can imagine the tears, the confusion, the rage and her collapse after. I could only imagine, and grief that Bresha realized the fairy tales where real, and there really are dragons. There really are monsters in closets and under beds, and you don’t need lights to see them. And that may be the scariest thing.
*-It seems to always take blood and strife for lasting change. Bresha Meadows is not just a hashtag. She is a young woman with a massive amount of healing to do, repairing to do, and it will indeed take a village to help her. That village cannot just be composed of hash tags, letters and proponents of attention. There is a component of therapy that goes beyond counsel and that is healing. This young woman and her family are in need of a safe space–at last. They should be allowed to regroup as a family without their pain prostituted. The remarkable thing about this situation is now, through virtue of voice, pain and action, we can discuss, indeed, what happens behind closed doors–and why it matters.
I cannot express how excited I was when I first heard Jesse Williams’ speech on the 2016 BET Awards. I cannot tell you the level of pride and “Dear Lord, HE GET IT” that I felt when he said the following while accepting his Humanitarian of the Year Award (excerpt):
“…Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. And let’s get a couple things straight, just a little sidenote – the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that.
If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.
We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil – black gold, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is though… the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.
By now the whole world has seen how fragile the human ego is. In April, we saw things shift and shatter in front of us. One-the marriage between Jesse Williams and his wife, Ayrn. Second-is the too far reaching new PR campaign of the Black Woman birthed and friendly, Shea Moisture.
I started using Shea Moisture on a whim because it was on sale. I wanted a body scrub that would moisturize, and after seeing a YouTube beauty guru and real life MUA, Jackie Aina*, I was sold. I got body scrub and soap and lotion and I even hipped the hubs to for a skin issue he was having.
I loved the Super Bowl commercial the company has done a couple years ago that “broke the divide” in the beauty world. To be a woman of color and shop for hair and beauty items is a unique challenge. What I see most often is the aisle topics of HEALTH & BEAUTY or ETHNIC BEAUTY.
In a nation that hates people of color, people tan and call it beautiful. America.
Anyway, if you don’t find what you need at mainstream store like Target or Walmart, you can always find it at a beauty supply on any corner–in St. Louis at least. I was excited about what the brand was doing, and happy that black women were recreating a standard that was never made for us but meant to reprogram us to hate our lips, skin, hair and curves.
Which made the commercial and PR that more degrading. Why do I think everyone is up in arms? Erasure. Assimilation. Cowering to the “standard of beauty.” I get what Shea Moisture was trying to do: be inclusive, so some women that didn’t look like the women that used this product. What do marketing execs call it? Crossover appeal. In that appeal, in that progress to cross cultural appeal, we see what has happened to us and our foremothers through history. We get “something for us” and then folk “wanna come take it.” And that hurts.
Even though the company apologized, and as of this posting, there are no more commercials appealing to a ‘wider audience’, I get what they tried to do. I’m not upset about it, I’m not even shocked. I understand. For so long, we as black women have been ignore and our very bodies duplicated and sold for public consumption. I could hear the seething taking place as the chorus of black women stood up and holler out, “Dammit, we can’t have (bleep)!” There is however this sound that we made in utter contempt that, too, reminded the world that we are still here, and we will not longer be rinds of strange fruit. We are too dynamic for that. And yes, I still wear my Shea Moisture Argan oil, body Dragonfruit body scrub and Coconut & Hibiscus lotion. Why? I am supporter of the brand, and acknowledge that they acknowledged they missed this one this time. Folk can use it, that’s wonderful. But, there is an onus that is there where black women can look at those jars and bottles and say, “Yeah, this is ours”. It’s like my grandma’s sweet potato pie recipe. I can show you how to make it, and while you may have this ability to make it, you don’t have the roux (the basics): the fundamental right to take what she made and gave to me. I was nice enough to share it with you…it’s still mine. You just happen to be privy to it.
*-Jackie Aina is African-American professional MUA, with a YouTube channel with over a million subscribers. She is pretty and unapologetically black. You can find her channel by searching her name. She does great tutorials, skin care and product reviews. Check her out.
“I promise you, I promise I ain’t dealing with that (whatever ratchet dramatic happening is going on on TV/at work/in the lives of other people you SWEAR you ain’t about to deal with). There is a reason I never really was absorbed in reality television. For me? The orchestration of ratchet dramatic is too much…and I’m a writer, so I can come up with better scenarios with people watching at work or Bread Co. in St. Louis.
If you get lost in Phaedra or Shawnie or OchoCinco’s ex-wife? Fine. No judgement. We all need shows we unplug with. But you have to remember those people are paid to air foolishness. They are paid to act up, drinks thrown on and to have phrases born out of public consumption for memes and likes and retweets.
We’re a world of voyeurs. We lurk. We stalk. We share. We critique from behind the fourth wall of our televisions. By no means am I saying to cosign nonsense. What I am saying is in our voyeurism entertainment we forget our own potential to be in those same positions.
Phaedra’s husband is locked up. Joseline and Scrappy are constantly up to and in crazy. Peter Gunz got kids and no clue how to do other things that men his age know how to do to keep a relationship. But right when we think, “I promise I wouldn’t do (fill in the blank)…you should remember no one SAW youwhen you had a similar experience.
No one made a hashtag.
No one made a meme.
No one made sure to quote you.
Don’t get so wrapped up in other people’s lives that you forget there may be a handful of people watching yours…no cable needed.
Call it C-B-P.
Call it, ‘he know what he got over here.’
Call it ‘can’t no other woman be me to him. I got him”.
NO. Don’t call it any of this silly sh!t. Ever. I mean that–EVER. Why? You’re more the outer parts and the sweet center. You are more than what your hips, lips and fingertips can do and will do.
Let me break his down for you, so you ever remember this:
Sex does not keep man.
Sex does not domesticate people.
Relationships are these dynamic crazy making constructs. These infallible pacts made by fallible people. And in those pacts, hidden in these promises, people mess up. And sometimes they mess up BADLY. In that messing up, we find, sometimes, sex is a culprit of that break up. What do I mean, you ask?
There’s an phrase I love that says, “Affairs don’t begin in bedrooms, they begin with conversations.” The subtle flirting when you feel neglected. The attention when she got on your nerves. The rush when the work crush eats with you. You become known by someone…else. It feels good, you look forward to it.
You play touch and go with the boundaries of what you set up. You play with them so much that you dare to cross over them, and plan when you can. You get a good look at them close up, find the gaps–after too much thirst and hoping, you sprint towards the first opening. You sprint to the opening because what you see, what you have made up, is sexy. It’s new. It’s the grand and favorite Christmas present. It’s the thing that was kept from you until you lay hold to it.
Then…it’s not at all what you wanted. There nothing lasting, nothing like the warmth you just had. It’s been worth all and nothing and you go back to what was all and everything, except, those boundaries, that guardrail that made you safe and secure is gone. The funny thing? Those boundaries are made by respect and time–both irreparable when lost or squandered. The dirty little secret is that in the sprint to find the next latest greatest, you don’t see all you’re running from…until you head back.
It’s when you head back that you see what you ran past: fidelity, safety, endurance of love and its stamina. In the pursuing of what you deem new and lasting, and better than ever, you don’t focus on that long enough to see and remember it. Which pulls me towards this point. How do you fix it–do you fix it? This beloveds, is where you must decide what is to be kept or thrown away. No, you should not be any place where you are not valued, are not honored and are subject to be taken advantage of. Never should you settle for that. What I offer is this solution: reflection and reconciliation.
In the age of Lemonade, and boss-level Black Girl Magic, I tell you to think about what it is you are to give up, gain and live with. There is a pain that comes with infidelity that cannot be mimicked. It’s what you DO with that pain–how you exercise those demons–that determines the course of everything else you will encounter with this relationship and the aftermath of it.
Not everything is salvageable, yes, however, most things are learned from. Can it not be said that if you desire better with this person that you be able to love them even when it’s hardest to? One of the things I see with women my age and younger is some have forgotten the concept of time. Everything has to be instant, constant and solely beneficial. I offer this: can you make lemonade? Can you see the tormentor as the cure? Do you have the stamina, the will, to start over again and make it better–together? That’s what it will take: TOGETHER.
The together is what is hard, what does not like to be admitted to. It’s easier to throw it all away, and start over. Starting over invites newness, thrill and passion. To rebuild? That is to re-trust, admit fault and agree what you have worked for is more valuable than to start again with another.
Being told you would have to do the hard things over again and to forgive? Nah. That’s too much like right and too hard and we think will require something else of God in us to do. And I believe that’s right. It will. In spaces and times where there is a breech, something outside of yourself, has to remind what it in yourself what it is you want–and can hang on to. It has to remind you of what you it is you are worthy of, want and will work toward. And that, beloveds, is hard. It’s hard.
My romantic past is littered with these histories, these moments of decision where I had to determine what was once and better. I had to decide what I wanted to fight for. I decided that, now after living awhile, everything cannot be trashed and not everything salvaged. I learned what it is that I wanted from myself and those that I share my space with. With me finding my love with my second husband, that has not been a crystal stair, I assure you. But I am old enough to know what one thing is definite: my worth, my time, my affection, my fidelity goes far beyond bedroom antics. And bedroom antics won’t keep me.
You domesticate cows, not me.