Becoming Cultured

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As a society, we can sometimes become wrapped up in what is acceptable actions, religion, music, activities, etc according to our nationality. Not realizing, what makes us different and what another culture does can sometimes unify the different races. Over the last few weekends, the togetherness I have seen amongst those I have encountered at Comicon and Renaissance Festival have been a reassuring sign that there is still awesomeness amongst us.

Fantasy Does Exist!!!

I went to Comicon and immediately became overwhelmed by the hero’s, the cosplay, the artist who cater to our need to escape reality. I met legends, saw Vader (I wanted him to say ‘Luke, I am your father.’ but jumbled my words and could only say ‘LUKE!’), purchased pieces of art that expressed me. I was amongst my people – not “black people” but, my people, those who enjoy comics and movies and fantasy. The cool thing was, there was no shaming, no judgment of the color of your skin; it was meant to be fun and fun was had.

Then, I had my first experience at the Renaissance Festival. It was full of pirates, wenches, nymphs, fairies, and pride and guess what?!?! Again, the crowd was diverse. We came to enjoy the artist and be entertained. Again, I was amongst those who luved fantasy, the era of the Renaissance, amongst culture; I was amongst my people.

Look at Me Becoming Cultured!!!

So, what does this mean? Experience is what drives perspective, gives new outlooks on life. Being cultured is not just about learning the history of your race but also, being willing to learn things from other cultures. We don’t have to stick with only “black culture” because that’s the only thing we know or that’s the color our skin. As a society, you can’t grow that way and have a full understanding of what life is through just one set of eyes. Accepting differences, interacting with other communities is what makes the human race great. And for the first time, I finally understand it completely.

My challenge to anyone who reads this: just as you would go to the museums to experience pieces of history, read the required books while in school – don’t stop there. Find local festivals to attend, don’t be afraid to try something different because it’s not apart of your comfort zone, if your children speak to you about religion or other cultures, don’t dismiss them; rather encourage their inquisitive nature. You never know, you too may find something fascinating – I know I have.

Next stop…New York Comicon

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Single Black Female

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Being me is not easy.  I am supposed to speak a certain way, dress and date conservatively, wear my hair “traditionally,” and succumb to societal norms.  I am not defined by my actions and character but, my outer appearance or the tone of my voice.  I am told I have to work twice as hard as any other race.  And no matter how much I tried to concede to the provided standard, acceptance never chose me.  So…what do I do – I go back to the drawing board, the real me.

What did she say?

You go to school and taught to speak properly, annunciate your words and speak with diction and conviction.  Subjected to peer pressure, you defy what authority states you do and become creative with your words.

In 1999, Aaron Peckham created the Urban Dictionary for fun but, unbeknown to him, it became more than just fun; it became life.  In 2012 there were more than 6.3 million untraditional words defined – proving urban terminology carries as much weight verses the conventional way of speaking.  Proving vocabulary is meant to be colorful and explored.  I say “Good Morrow” or when asked how I am doing, I say, “Well” and mocked in return.

Which is it, do you want me to speak properly, speak with urban dialect, merge the two or…? I sure as hell don’t know.

What is she wearing?

I could never dress the way society would socially accept me because of the contour of my body.  I learned what best fit my figure and made it work for me.  However, if I wore a pencil or skater skirt, I was condemned or said as being too racy for the clothes I wore. “Oh! She’s trying to get a promotion.”  The only way I could get away with appearing professional was by wearing clothing twice my size and who wants to do that. The same with the African American female teacher in Atlanta, who wears bodycons to work with sweaters and is still chastised where as others wear body cons (no sweaters), mini skirts and see through shirts and they are viewed as professional.  Still confused.

Why does your hair look that way?

As I began to embrace the skin I am in, I also began to luv my hair in its natural state.  The versatility it yielded.  But I had to be different; it wasn’t enough to have natural hair, I also had to dye it red.  How dare I?  My cousin said one day, “My mom won’t allow me to dye my hair red because she said it is ratchet and ghetto.” Hmmm.   I guess I am ratchet though none of my actions exemplify it.

Then, I arrive to work one day after I changed the style and color of my hair and my coworker says, “Oh! Your hair is nice.  The color is more inviting/welcoming. (My current color is more of a natural “dark brown” color with burgundy/auburn highlights)” versus my fire-engine red hair.

Basically saying that I should succumb to the standards of society – blend in. However, Marc Jacobs can appropriate our culture of having all white females on the runway with locs because if “black females can appropriate their hair by straightening it then, why can’t I do the same.”  Oh! Aight.

Doesn’t she want to succeed?

If she wanted to succeed, she should listen and do what is asked of her.  “Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture.  Do you your job.  No more, no less.” He said, “As long as you are providing steady income, what does it matter if you are right and they are wrong.” He exclaimed definitively.  “You will not elevate your success if you keep ‘bucking’ the system.”

Okay…

Well you know what?  “I reject your reality.”    I’ve tried fitting in and “keeping up with the Joneses.”  It failed.  I am not your ideal truth.  I am a black female, with curvy hips, natural hair, poetic speech, determined mind, and person who does not accept no as answer.  I grind, for what I want, I have conviction for right vs. wrong.  I may not always make the best decisions but, I try to a fault.  My hair is red, my skin is a beautiful chocolate brown, my accent has a hint of urban in it but, she speaks proper; this does not define me.  What defines me is my humble personality, my luv to help others, my thirst for knowledge, the want to make a change – a positive change, the need to laugh and in doing so, make others smile.  I am a single black female who is succeeding on her own terms.  It may not be the traditional way but…I am doing it my way (in my Sinatra voice).

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picture courtesy of Pinterest

The Wind is My Friend

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My hair free and of natural flow wanders aimlessly in the wind.  As she whispers go left, my hair sashays left, as she whispers go right, my hair trots right.  In this environment my sight is obstructed, she has disengaged from the effort of being previously styled, she is thanking the wind because now, she is free.  The wind was her liberator, her way of saying she would not be tamed. This was how my hair was when I had a relaxer.

For those who are often confused to the difference between relaxers, perms or being natural.  Relaxers chemically alter (relax) the natural curls in your hair, perms are also chemically altering products giving volume and curls to once straight hair, and natural is a state in which nothing has been used to chemically alter the state of hair you were born with.

For so long, I was addicted to the “creamy crack” called a Relaxer.  My hair was free and easy.  I luved her and she luved me.

Fast forward, to my pregnancy.  An experience forcing me to give up the creamy crack.  WHAT THE HELL!!!  We as women give up so much during pregnancy and the ease of taming the beast or learning how to style natural hair was never an easy feat.  My hair no longer blew in the wind so carelessly, it felt like no matter what I would do to my hair (when I did do something) she would battle with mother nature and mother nature would always win.  The woes of going back to a natural state of mind and body.
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In my early days of being natural, I had no idea what I was doing.  I hadn’t been natural since I was a kid and even then, it was my mother was doing my hair, not me.  If I did not keep it curled, I wore weaves.  I did not want to be bothered and when I wore my hair naturally I always felt self conscious.  This was a new life for me; it almost brought back a little insecurities of being accepted in “Corporate America?” However, breezes of wind blew in my ear and whispered that I was not alone.
I began networking in a completely new way…finding other groups of women who were having the same problems as me.  Ways to style and keep your hair healthy was becoming second nature to me however, I still did not accept nor understand the true meaning of being natural.  In all truth, most who go natural are never truthful as to why they went natural and if they are…they glamorize it to make seem like they are connecting to their roots.  I began my natural journey because I was pregnant and stayed with it because my hair began to thin ( a side affect of my munchkin being born).  Being natural and keeping my hair curled allowed me the volume I needed.  If I still had thick hair after pregnancy I would have went back to the creamy crack.  Much easier.
It wasn’t until my fourth 3rd year of being natural that I began to have a true appreciation and respect for being natural.  I began to luv it’s versatility, and in a way it made be become more healthier.  Because I use a lot of natural products in my hair (olive oil, shea butter, coconut oil, Jamaican black caster, vitamin e etc) have a wonderful stylist, and began doing my research on how to grow healthy hair- pinterest and youtube became my best friend, the food I prepared also became healthier.  And now, in my fourth year, I still luv being natural and I also luv my protective styles including wearing weaves or “tracks.”  The wind and I have come to a truce.  She showed me another side to her silly yet helpful ways.  Now, when she flows through my hair, I no longer hide from her assertiveness but accept her with open arms.  She adds more volume to my hair; she gives her life.  I once thought the creamy crack was the best thing in the world…not so much.  I once thought wind was my enemy now, we are best friends.
I have become naturally me!

Loveee Pt. III – Family

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Over the weekend, I witnessed a beautiful union of friendship, luv, respect, companionship, truthfulness, and security and was honored to be a part of it alongside friends and family.  As everyone gave their speeches and congratulated the couple on their union and as the bride and groom thanked everyone, it got me to thinking what it means to be a family.  According to Merriam – Webster family is:

  • “a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.
  • a group of people related to one another by blood or marriage.
  • the children of a person or couple.
  • a person or people related to one and so to be treated with a special loyalty or intimacy.
  • a group of people united in criminal activity.
  • Biology – a principal taxonomic category that ranks above genus and below order, usually ending in -idae (in zoology) or -aceae (in botany).
  •  group of objects united by a significant shared characteristic.
  • Mathematics – a group of curves or surfaces obtained by varying the value of a constant in the equation generating them.
  • all the descendants of a common ancestor.”

However, none of the definitions speak of friends being family.

I come from a huge family, I have 11 aunts and uncles and 40+ cousins…and that’s just in Maryland.  I am not including those in other states because the numbers would increase tremendously and still wouldn’t change the fact I feel closest to a single handful of my fam.  For some of my family members, I feel like we are associates more than anything.  Don’t get me wrong, I luv my family and wouldn’t trade them for the world however, there are times when it feels as if my handful of family and my handful of friends are the only family I have.  I have friends who would go to the end of world and back for me and I them, when some of my family would rather take advantage. 

So, as I witnessed the union over the weekend and listened to the bride speak of her friends being her family, again, I realized definitions are frameworks to be enhanced by one’s interpretation of their life.  In this instance, she spoke of bonds between her best friends who when told that she was getting married, they stepped up and asked “what do you need from me?”  Their joy and excitement for her happiness surpassed what she expected and that spoke volumes during the event.  Those who are mother’s to other’s became her adoptive mother in a single moment, and “sister’s in law” lost the “in law” title because they are more than what society has deemed her to be, instead she became a true sister/and supporter.  And, the wondering of why “true” family did not receive invitations faded away from my mind and an understanding of her definition of family became the truth.  This was and is not to say that she luvs her family any less than she luvs her friends; rather to say, family comes in many forms.  She chose those have always been there to support, luv, guide and nurture her to be there to witness her union.

As I end, family is what you make of it, friends, unions (marriage), pets, and/or your true family as defined by Webster.  After seeing a different definition of the word “family,” I have come to respect all aspects of what my family is the good, the bad, the ugly, the dysfunctional, and the wonderful.   

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Let’s Start with Me – Part I of Loveee

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I am a conceited emotional mother of one. I am plus size, full figured, or overweight (pick one). I have anger management issues, no patience, and somewhat of a “no holds barred” personality; some would call me rude or non empathetic. I’d like to think I am sympathetic when needed. I make sure that I put the caveat out there, if you ask me for my opinion understand, it’s my opinion and if you don’t agree with it then take it with a grain of salt. I am silly, love learning, love playing video games, and love being a black woman. I am not a woman scorned from relationships that didn’t work, I am a glass half full once I release my anger, and I am a self motivator. I am a thinker and a semi perfectionist. I am humble. And, I am an ARIES. All of these things I did not understand nor accept until my late twenties. When I was younger, all I knew was that I was an emotional kid.

So, let’s take it back before I found out all of things about me…back to childhood. A childhood, I truly don’t remember. Only bits and pieces, as if I suppressed memories (which I would luv to remember). From what I do remember, I know, I was a handful. I would sit in my window waiting for my dad to come and pick me up everyday (from Friday to Sunday), cry because he didn’t pick me up then be excited because two weekends later he finally showed and then come home and boast about how he was my “hero” when all he did was drop me off at my grandmothers house and take me out to eat on Sunday before I went back home. I remember people always telling me I had beautiful skin and that I could be a model, but for me, as I stated in a previous post; peer words when you are a child are stronger than any adults words of wisdom and truth. If a kid tells you you are ugly, you believe it. I remember always trying to fit in and no matter how hard I tried, it would only last for a little while. I remember me and my younger sister always clashing; I would want to play dress up and she would want to be by herself and go and build something, I would want to play doctor and literally stick a sewing needle in her skin to see the blood (what was I thinking). Don’t judge me. I know I did my sister dirty. I was not the best to her. smh

Let’s fast forward to my teenage years. My dad came around a lot more often then. He would pick me up, buy me things (I guess to show me he luved me) and we would actually “spend” more time with each other over the weekend. When we went out to eat on Sunday’s before I went back home, he would force me to try something different. He would order it, tell me to eat it, and after I said I liked it he would tell me what it was. That way I could not say it was nasty if I already said I liked it. Clever tricks. Clever tricks. Now, at this point in life, my life’s mission was to make sure my hair was cute all the time, my clothes were on point, and that I knew the latest song, or “club” music mix. Mannnnnnnnn! Every thursday evening at 2100hrs, I would turn my radio on put my tape recorder next to the radio and make sure I did not make a sound so I could record the club music being played on the radio station. This was my way of having something to listen to on the way to school the next week with my friends. Because I couldn’t relate to the other things they were doing, watching and wearing, this was my way of being hip. However, by the time I turned 15 and 9 months, I got a job and was able to purchase upon approval from my mother the clothes I needed to be cool. I was going to the gym because it was everything to be skinny and by the time I went to prom and graduated, I thought I finally made it. I was cool. I had friends. NOT!!! All of that faded as soon as graduation was over.

19, working as “Top Flight Security” and I have a boyfriend. Oh! and I am living on my own. I am no longer a size 6 but a size 14 and gaining; things change when you have a man. lol. I am job hopping – chasing money, drumming up a lot of debt, and doing all things I thought I was supposed to do in order to keep a man… going down the rabbit hole of Loss Identity Syndrome©. Things didn’t work out, I am now single, depressed, delving into alcohol and video games (that was so much fun), shopping for therapy, and constantly trying to find solace in what? I don’t know. At this point, I am in my mid twenties receiving negative attention because of my assets. I mistook this wrong attention and used it as crutch for my newfound “self confidence.” I began to be rude and nasty to people who didn’t deserve it and clothes were just as worse. As I type this, I can only shake my head. Then, something happened where it finally clicked, that I needed to change my life around. I think it was my grandmother passing away that made me want to do better.

I was in my mid/late twenties at this point, I found a mentor to teach me how to budget and take care of me financially. I finally accepted the fact that I was overweight and accepting the fact that you are overweight is 50% of being on your way to a healthier you. So, I began going to the gym, not to be skinny but to be healthy. I began loving the skin I was in. I began taking school more seriously and graduated with my associates degree and I even took my job more seriously. I learned how to be humble. I started outlining my negatives I needed to work on and consistently enhancing my positives. And, while I am still plus size, I know that I will always be a work in progress, I know who I am and finally luv the person I became to be.

“I am the goddess of war
I am filled with passion
I love
I lead
I am honest to a T
I am an Aries”

Loving and knowing who you are is the first step into a fruitful future. Without it, you maybe successful but, there will always be a void. A want for more. If you have a mentor, counselor or therapist they can aid in self approva. At the end of the day, it is up to you to accept and/or change the person you are. It appears the average time to “learn” you is late twenties early thirties. The reason could be because of our maturity level and hard knocks we may have went through. Or, we may not have went through any struggle but have become more aware of who we are as a being.

In the famous words of Ru Paul, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell do you expect somebody else to love you.”

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Unless you are not a part of my progress, Do NoT eNtEr!!!

Larger than Life

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Popular Society has a way the ideal person is to be, look and act, and if you do not fit that mold, it becomes a little more difficult for you or, can it? As a child you are your truest. You have not been jaded by what society, your parents, and peers want you to be. As you begin to develop, you begin to ingest all of what life is about; the truths, the lies, the good, the bad and the ugly. You live, and in the midst, you can sometimes begin to lose the true you as you take on the "burden" of popular society. For those of you who are wondering, I am talking about Lost Identity Syndrome© or LIS©, something that affects many Americans and if broken down, women in color in particular. Note: This is not real in the clinical sense but true all the same. And, I am quite sure we suffered or know someone who is suffering from this syndrome. The funny thing is, it cannot be quantified, because most are in denial or don't realize they have the syndrome. Symptoms of this syndrome can include, not fitting in, wondering if you are good enough/doubting self worth, constantly changing your appearance, and trying to hide from your past.

One comes to luv oneself by, accepting their past, acknowledging their present, and working toward their future.
-Mackin

For a lot of us, we have multiple personalities. I don't mean schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, more like trying to fit in with the "group of the season." We see this group we think we like so, we acculturate our personality to that particular group. Some of our identity slowly chips away as we gain another personality. We change our looks and how we act; anything that will make us more accepted. This is not done on purpose. We do this because we think this is who we are and in the process, we continue to find another identity/group until we feel comfortable, hence attaching another personality. Each time we change, we go deeper and deeper into LIS. For most of us who continuously change groups, we don't realize the damage we are doing to ourselves.

I watched one lady grow up with the skills of being creative, intellectual, the ability to grasp academia without effort, and to speak with elegance, to trying to fit in with the "cool kids" - who hasn't? Now, running away from her family, her past to finding solace in a completely different culture. Idolizing their lifestyle, "repping" it as is if she was born in to it. Clearly I am not a doctor nor do I know if this has anything to do with it but, because of this new chapter and not understanding the true background of the culture, she has lost several friends. And each time someone tries to reach out to her, it's as if we push her further away. The positive side...she is still young enough to enter the "loving you for you" phase with time to fulfill her life and potential dreams.

Then there are others who luck up and find themselves early on in life. I think because they were tired of constantly being rejected, they took a step back; analyzed their life, their dislikes, experiences, lessons learned, and apply them to there new or should I say, old identity and become the more powerful and true them. In this case, that's me.

I tried to be a part of the cool kids club but, because my parents purchased functional clothes instead of the latest fashion, I couldn't fit in; from that, I learned how to create my own style. Something that a lot people don't know about me, I used to get teased about the color of my skin and for a while I had a complex about being dark skinned. Yeah, the adults said my skin was beautiful but, kids are ruthless, and some of the kids I knew were rough. What was even crazier, it was black on black discrimination which made it worse. And during that time, their opinion mattered more than the adults did. It wasn't until my late 20's and I became plus size that I began to embrace the beautiful chocolate skin God blessed me with. There was a glow that came with my confidence. And finally, I used to get teased about speaking properly so, I began to speak with slang and sound more urban. In this case that actually kind of helped, I can now speak with proper diction when need and change it up when I need you to understand my frustration.

I share all of this to say to Lost Identity Syndrome© is not a bad condition. Especially, if you learn from the paths life has taken you. In the case of the young lady, she is still trying to find her, the true her. And, when she does, she will be a force to reckon with. And, if I continually try to step in and help her, I would be doing nothing but hindering her growth. I now understand why my mother allowed me to "fall and bump my head" a few times. As for me, I survived LIS© by beginning to not give a cuss what others thought about me, to an extent. I began loving me for me, having the confidence of the gods, I have come to accept my randomness, eclectic, artistic, painfully truthful, introvert/extrovert, high off life, pessimistic, optimistic self and I would dare anyone to challenge themselves to find who they are and introduce their present self to their future more stronger self.
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4 P’s In A Pod

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You ever have that one friend you want to punch in the face because they “can’t get right?!?”  Always with some drama, never learns from their mistakes, never “drops” knowledge, wisdom, or laughter (not at someone’s expense) in others lives.  Question: why are you allowing them to be in your life?

Oh! I get it… initially it was to help them, guide the in the right direction; no one should struggle on their own, especially when you have the means to help.  However, when they take your kindness for weakness, you should probably time to let them go.  Hopefully, they will find their path in life.  In the meantime, make sure you keep building your circle; circle of success.

Start out with who you are?  Who are you?  Then make sure that each vacancy is filled.

Vacancies are subject but, not limited to:

  • Rachetness
  • Knowledge Drop’ers
  • Motherly Figures
  • Mr./Ms Spontaneity
  • Spiritual One
  • The Boughie One
  • And, always an Apprentice

While few try not to admit it, everyone needs that “Ratchet” friend; they bring that spice to your life and will do things you only dream of.  Your “Knowledge Drop’er” is the one you go to for information/perspectives you never thought of, the “Motherly Figure” is exactly what the name implies.  She keeps you in check when you are getting out of hand, makes sure you are okay whether it be feeding, comforting, protecting you or, telling you about yourself when you f’d up.  “Mr/Ms. Spontaneity” will remind everyone that you can work hard but, you also need to play harder.  The “Spiritual One” is your Zen, your spiritual base; they are the one’s who views life from a holistic perspective (you need clarity).  The Apprentice is the next in line; everyone needs someone who they can look  up to.  Whether it be you, someone else in the group or, a collective effort, your apprentice will feed off the knowledge you bestow and continue to pay it forward.  And then, the “Boughie One,” their attitude and fashion is something we can all take and mold to form us.  Remember, there are levels to anything in life.

And, that friend that can’t get right…Girl, BYE!!!

So, while you do not need to label your friends, it is always fun to figure out who you are in the group and assess who you friends are.  In one of my miniature circles, we gave ourselves names, Classy, Fast, Ole, World Wide; I am the Classy One.  The good thing about our circle, we have been friends for years, we have our good days and bad days, we feed positivity off of each other, accept each others flaws and individuality.  We are four peas in a pod, and I luv it.

Circles do not have to be big.  Your group of friends and family should distill nothing but positive energy in your life and if they don’t then maybe their season has come to an end.  I think sometimes, we as humans get so caught up in status of any relationship and don’t realize how drained we are from those who are slowly taking our energy away from us.  We sit and allow them to do so until one day we become so fed up that we say things we really didn’t mean to say and hurt them in the process.  Once we figure out who we are and what mark we want to leave in this world, we can begin to chip away at those who take and never deposit and reach our full potential.

Growing up, if you did not finish eating your vegetables (peas) you could not leave the table.  Those veggies were what made you healthy and strong is what your parents would say. LOL!!!  Well…

1-Luv

D

P.S. This post is dedicated to my crew “4 P’s in a Pod”