Finding myself… again

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Every few months I get this feeling of restlessness.
I feel as if I’ve fallen down on the job. The never-ending job of mom, journalist, sister, friend, daughter, professional, citizen and woman.
What qualification chart or performance review am I holding to feel that way? None, yet the feeling remains.
Whatever that reason is, it causes me to stop and take stock in all aspects of my life at that moment. Sometimes that’s a good thing (and a morale booster) and at times it causes me to face some ugly truths.
I’m sure that I’m not the only person who’s found themselves feeling this way. There are too many people getting paid off of self-help books for me to be the lone wolf in that forest.
As I get older, I’ve come to appreciate that period of time. I don’t feel worthless. I don’t feel as if I’m not useful.
Oddly, this time motivates me. It’s a challenge to be a better me. Or to at least try to be the best at whatever I happen to tackle that day.
That could be taking on two stories for publication and posting a blog or deciding to wrestle three loads of laundry, while making sure dinner’s cooked before the 6 p.m. PTA meeting.
It’s a push to pour my heart, soul and sometimes anger into whatever I’m doing.
Ultimately, it’s a sign of growth.
It shows me that I’m no longer content with being content. It shows the need for evolution. It shows the need to challenge myself mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally on a quarterly basis.
It shows that I still have the urge to learn, teach, explore and care about others.
Finally, it shows that this is not the end for me. Far from it, if I say so myself. I still have somewhere to go, something important to do, and someone important to say it to – whether they want to hear it or not.
My only problem is which challenge I’ll tackle first.
It wouldn’t be right to expend all of this awesomeness all at one time.
It just wouldn’t.
I have to learn to space the greatness out.
I’m Just Saying.

Sipping Lemonade in the Purple Rain

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Okay, I know I’m late but I’m just now coming out of the Purple Rock’n’Roll Haze of mourning.
Barely.
However, I did notice that Bey dropped her visual album the Saturday following Prince’s ascension and sometime within the following two weeks I was able to watch it despite my tears.
While “Formation” had me on the fence, the visual video pushed me over the edge and I can confidently say that I am here for the new Bey.
Whatever her reason for dropping knowledge to her fans, I applaud her for using her social status and celebrity to make a definite stand against the injustices in America that most celebrities are afraid to openly speak on.
Now I’m not saying that I’m going out to buy the album but I respect the hard work and creativity she infused into her work to bring social consciousness to topics that are often ignored or overlooked from African-Americans in the industry.

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I could care less about her and Jay-Z’s marital problems. My mama taught me to stay out of married folks’ business. I do care about her finding herself and putting it into an artful arrangement that encourages others to step their grown woman up, celebrate the wins of life and mourn the losses without staying down too long.
I care about her using her work to portray that while African-American’s, both men and women, get the dirty end of the stick from significant others, employees and employers, police, the government, and the world they still rise to the top.
With this work, she’s shown us that it’s okay to work out and let go of our Daddy issues, we don’t have to conform to what’s deemed trendy to be beautiful, and that sometimes we have to break down in order to rebuild ourselves. She’s showed us that there’s a lesson in the pain that we as African-American women have endured as an undervalued, under-appreciated sub-category of human beings.
She doesn’t stop there.
Bey then turns around and shows us that there’s strength and rejuvenation in numbers. Her video shows our need as a people to become slave to the money and the conventional working environment, and why we should make investments into ourselves and our community while calling for a change.

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She reminds us that no matter what happens we can turn the sourest lemons into lemonade. Honey, I’m always up for a tall pitcher of iced cold lemonade, with a shot of something strong on the side.
She’s showing us something that we’ve hadn’t seen in a while and that’s evident from the responses that those from other races have had in regards to her Super Bowl performance all the way down to her Lemonade album and tour.
She’s highlighted that our potential as woke African-American’s scares and intimidates many even in 2016. That the change that could be made invokes fear, bigotry and is downright terrifying to some.

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Yeah, I here for the new Bey.
In the front row, with popcorn, a Mountain Dew and a plan so that when the time comes I’m already in formation.
Who knows?
I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making so I have to keep running cause a winner doesn’t quit on themselves.
I’m Just Saying.

For Girls with Melanin …who forget to dream

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(Inspired by “For Colored Girls” by Ntozake Shange)

Funny we are ruled by color.
The melanin in our skin dictates our treatment by others and by ourselves.
“Is my skin too dark?” or “Am I too light to fit in?”
Funny thing about color. Because everyone asks about the colors on the outside. The color of your hair, skin, nails and toes. The color of your clothing, purse and the car you drove.
Color.
No one asks about the colors within.
The Red you see from watching so much violence you’ve become accustomed to the rich, thick liquid staining the streets as yet another falls victim.
Orange, the once bright and vibrant color, has changed into the color of rust. The rust you see every day in your poverty stricken environment. The same one that will go so long without being taken care of that eventually it blends into the drinking water that the government says is clean.
The Yellow that cautions you to slow down. To tap the brakes on your hopes and dreams because of the societal and economical constrictions placed upon you by antiquated men that know no different and antiquated women who’re raised not to care.
Green represents the bile raising in your throat as you think about the injustice you’ve been dealt at the table called life. Nope it’s not new but it still disgusts you how the race doing the oppressing can think there’s no oppression when the oppressed race can’t move forward.
Blue is the broken and unfulfilled dreams that we hold deep inside and only think of when we’re trying to carry our crippled souls to another place. It is the deep-seeded depression that creeps up like a snake to wind its way around our brains, slowly killing us. It is the sadness that we fight so hard for others to see but work so hard to keep hidden away. It is the moment that we break down, just for a minute, so that we can shed all the dirt and negativity before rebuilding ourselves again.
Then there’s Indigo. A light at the end of the tunnel if you will. A transformative color that flickers in and out of our reality as we transform into whatever the hell we are forced to be that day. It’s a mask. It’s as public as a Michelangelo painting at the museum. It’s our cover and our cloak. We must not let everyone know our feelings and the colors they evoke. They could take advantage or worse, try to appropriate them.
Lastly there’s Violet. When we melanin-laced girls go through these colors at some time in our lives we’re often reminded that we come from royalty. We come from Kings and Queens who lived their lives in colors. They were broken and discarded but carried more dignity for themselves then those who owned them.
So this isn’t for everyone. And that’s alright.
It’s for melanin-laced girls who thinks it’s the end of the road.
It’s for melanin-laced girls who want to give up.
It’s for melanin-laced girls who don’t know which way to turn.
It’s for melanin-laced girls who need hope.
Stand strong!!! Deep inside the colors on that dirty palette you’ve been given is your Queendom. You have the power to change your hues without changing your official hue.
Even the finest pottery begins as a dull mono-toned piece of clay.
I’m Just Saying.

Enough is Enough: It’s time to step it up

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A 16-year-old girl is dead.
She won’t graduate. She won’t go to prom. She won’t take senior pictures.
The two or three young girls who did it will also miss out.
They’re living.
However, they won’t graduate. They won’t go to prom. They won’t take the traditional senior pictures. Their senior pictures will consist of a mug shot. No corsages, date or gowns. Just their name, an inmate number that replaces their identity and the county they now belong to.
All of these young girls’ lives are ruined. Behind a disagreement involving a young boy.
A young boy that won’t do time, who didn’t die, who didn’t even ask that this young lady be attacked. He’ll go on to graduate, go to prom, date and move on with his life despite being a catalyst to a horrific event. And it’s not his fault.
If anyone’s to blame, ladies, it’s ourselves.
We should point to ourselves for not doing enough. For not stepping up and teaching our daughters better. For showing them, in some part of their life, that it’s okay to attack the other female versus handling the mate/spouse at home. We’ve shown them that a lesson needs to be taught in order to protect what is perceived as our own.
Through videos, phone calls, movies and music, we’ve shown them that the male doesn’t hold accountability or that walking away from the situations isn’t enough. We’ve shown them that just talking it out won’t do but we have to elevate to a level of violence for anyone to take us seriously. We’ve shown them that it’s okay to fight for things: love, a parking space, a job, because someone looked at you funny or didn’t speak.
And it sickens me.
It literally turned my stomach to read through the story of Amy Joyner-Francis’ ordeal. I refused to watch the video of this young woman’s death. I just can’t and I won’t.
This 16-year-old died from injuries sustained during a group fight in a bathroom at Howard High School of Technology at 8:15 a.m. on a Thursday morning in Wilmington, Delaware, according to CNN. After being found in critical condition she was rushed, by helicopter, to the A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children but died in route.
She died because she went to school. She died because some other girls felt the need to beat her to death all at one time, despite saying they weren’t trying to kill her. She died because she met someone in the bathroom.
She died.
As for those who had a hand in killing her or recording it, Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings is expected to file charges against them, according to CBS News.
Due to their actions, their dreams, freedom and future died right along with Amy.
Enough is Enough.
We’ve shown these young ladies what not to do. Don’t you think it’s time to step it up?
It’s time to hold ourselves accountable for the young girls that come behind us. We should be showing them how to leave when the love he was giving turns toxic, we should be showing them how to create businesses instead of trying to chip at glass ceilings, we should be showing them that we can love each other for our differences and our strengths instead of breaking each other down for their weaknesses and flaws. We should be letting them know that together we are a force that can’t be broken. We should be showing them that being a Trap Queen is not a goal they should seek to achieve. That there’s more to life than Jordan’s, Michael Kors Bags/Watches and having the biggest booty. We should be showing them that having your own CD’s, IRA’s and shares of stock allows you to be more financially independent than being the main or side piece to some King Pin or Dope Boy.
For years we’ve preached that men of color needed to step it up. At some point, women of color stepped down and that’s not okay. In fact, it has become detrimental and deadly. If you don’t think so just ask Amy’s parents.
It’s time to show these young girls Queendom. I don’t mean Queen B either. We must rise up and show them what is right, what is wrong and what we will not stand for on any level whether it be at work, at home, in relationships or friendships. If we have to do it while sipping lemonade and getting into formation for them to understand, then so be it.
It’s long overdue.
We owe it to ourselves.
We owe it to our ancestors.
We owe it to our children and their children.
Hell, we owe it to Amy.
I’m Just Saying.

A Pro-Black Feminist? Maybe

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As I look at the current social climate of the United States I see a country being torn in two again behind many issues that were thought to be resolved years ago.
Racism is alive and we all know that. Not just racism against blacks but of any race that isn’t Caucasian. I can remember walking to the store as a little girl, maybe I was 9 or 10 years old, and seeing the Ku Klux Klan marching through the streets of Thomasville, North Carolina. As I watched the parade of white sheets march through the center of downtown what stuck out most was the black officer that was there as an escort. I can remember wondering why in the hell he would protect them. By that I don’t mean why he would protect the people marching, but how could he “protect and serve” the hatred that they stood for? So yes, racism and discrimination is still thriving and often our encounters with them shape who we are, what we will stand for and what we will fight against.
I ask that you take a deep breath in and out right here because this isn’t me attempting to pull the race card.
This is me attempting to explain why the card is still in play, along with others from the deck of Hatred.
I admit that I’m Pro-black and there is nothing wrong with that. It needs to be understood that being Pro-Black in America isn’t being anti-white.
Let me say that again….
BEING PRO-BLACK IN AMERICA ISN’T BEING ANTI-WHITE.
Being Pro-black is about appreciating your roots, your culture and your background. It’s about supporting your brothers and sisters in their endeavors and wanting to see them all achieve their dream in a system designed to prohibit them. It’s about honoring your heritage (the same way some feel like flying the Confederate flag does) and values it birthed before someone with a different skin tone came along. It’s about needing to see a race of people do and want better for themselves and their children.
It’s about strength within a culture that is often told it’s not strong enough, smart enough, wealthy enough, or mentally capable of competing and excelling on the same level as their Caucasian counterparts.
That’s being Pro-Black. Not Racist.
But I’m so much more than Pro-Black.
By definition, I’m a Feminist because I aim to break down barriers that women of both black and white skin face on a daily basis. I want myself, my daughter, and my neighbor to receive the same amount as our male co-worker’s for doing the same amount of work. I want us to be recognized as getting the job done in a pair of slacks and pumps. I don’t want our breasts and behinds to get us a promotion but the work that we submit is so damn good that we can’t be denied one.
By definition, I’m Anti-Police Brutality but that doesn’t mean I’m against the police or their profession. I have different relationships with law enforcement officers on different levels and I know that all of them are not bad or biased. I know that they aim to do their jobs and return home safely. I also know that there are some officers who give their brethren in blue a bad name by applying their biases to their job. I know that there are some officers who get off on exerting power over the powerless, using more force than necessary and harassing people as a form of intimidation.
By definition, I’m Pro-Motherhood/Pro-Choice. I want to be able to breastfeed in public. I want to be able to take sick days or work from home because my child has the flu without penalty. I want to not be afraid to ask to leave when my work is complete so I can catch the PTA program or be able to eat lunch with my kid at school without my boss thinking of a trade-off for me to do it. I want to not have to choose between my obligations as an employee and a mother. I also want to keep the right to choose between being a mother when I’m ready and having an abortion if I’m not.
So what exactly am I?
To me it sounds like I’m simply an advocate for a better life. I care enough about different social issues to pay attention to how others are treated and by whom. I care enough to try and leave a better world for my children, grandchildren and future generations. I care enough to not settle for the status quo and instead raise the bar.
If that makes me a fist-raising, bra-burning, injustice protester who pumps breast milk on lunch and has a few diapers in the car then so be it.
However, if I must be given a label I would prefer one that embodies all of the above. Something that could be universally recognized without being forced into the many silos of activism. Something that allows me to not be limited to one particular group or cause.
For now, I’ll go with Game Changer.
I’m Just Saying.

Thou shall Love Thy Self

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Speaking with a friend the other day about her current man-child situation she uttered these words “If I could learn to be lonely like you, I’d be just fine.” This of course led to me telling her a few things including that her word choice was wrong.
I’m not lonely. Instead I’m learned.
I’ve learned it’s okay to have standards and morals that you won’t compromise in order to keep a man in your presence.
I’ve learned it’s okay to expect a one-woman man and eliminate the custodial issues that come with sharing him with Trina and Jasmine.
I’ve learned it’s okay to have hopes, dreams and aspirations without putting them down or on hold to make some man feel better about those he doesn’t.
I’ve learned it’s okay to be stingy with what I have at my table if that person isn’t upgrading the menu.
I’ve learned it’s not okay to settle for someone else’s crap in an effort to have someone lying next to you at night.
I’ve learned my peace of mind is much more valuable than the drama that comes from being mistreated by some man who doesn’t love me.
I’ve learned it’s okay to walk away from situations that don’t improve my status, life, health and overall well-being.
I’ve learned my self-worth, crafted my own opinions and executed my ideas and why all that should be valuable to a man.
I’ve learned that in those rare times that I am lonely, I should be cautious of who I surround myself with and their motives for being there.
I’ve learned that there is nothing wrong to listening to silence and that it’s better than listening to someone nag, fuss or fight.
I’ve learned that knowing and expecting all of these things makes me a better Queen when my King comes into play.
I’ve learned that doesn’t make me a crazy, scorned, bougie, bitter or high-maintenance.
I’ve learned myself.
In that process, I learned how to LOVE myself.
So if it takes me being alone until I find someone who loves me just as much as I do. I’m okay with that.
I’d prefer it actually.
I’m just saying.

The Year of 30

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On Feb. 24, I celebrated my 31st birthday.
It caused me to reflect on this last year.
I’ve lost friends and gained new ones. I’ve changed my address, jobs and my lifestyle.
This last year has really thrown me some twists and turns.
So much has happened this last year and I was starting to feel like I hadn’t accomplished anything.
Then I thought about what I learned from all of those tests and trials that came with the year of 30.
I became a better individual in so many ways. I became stronger- mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I’ve become more independent. Projects that I would’ve waited for someone to do, I’ve begun doing it myself. I admit it might not be with the right tools and with a mini hot pink tool set instead but I can tell you that I semi know my way around Home Depot now. Even if the put together objects fall apart.
I’ve become more determined. While I haven’t crossed out everything on my short or long term list, I’ve discovered that I hit some of them and I’m okay with that. I’ll just roll it over onto the next list and make sure that I get to it.
I’ve become more dedicated. The focus that I’ve given some projects this last year is astonishing coming from the ultimate procrastinator. I have a habit of either waiting until the last minute to do something or getting halfway through it and never finishing. For some projects, it seems like I’m going full speed ahead. So close to the finish line that stopping is no longer an option.
Most of all, I’ve become more accepting of myself. I’ve learned so much about myself, my limits, what I will put up with and what I won’t, what I can accomplish in one day without killing myself and what I need to allow to roll over onto the next.
I’ve learned about me and I’ve loved me.
Without needing anyone to validate it.
With all this new knowledge, the year of 31 should be one hell of a ride.
I’m just saying.