Conviction

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Conviction: a firmly held belief or opinion.
I guess you can say growing up I was not raised to see color; instead people’s actions are what constituted how you should act towards them. In high school I knew I was discriminated against but never fully comprehended it. When I began working, segregation was created in an unconventional way but in order to get your check, you dealt with the conditions you were in unless you lucked up in your position and found a group of coworkers who treated each other as equals and gave respect. In the meantime, you do what you have to do in order to get to where you want to be. It wasn’t until a few years ago I found my conviction, my beliefs, my voice, my passion, my purpose with caveats. Now, how do I hone in? Relay my truths? Affect the masses in a positive way? Reach the youth? Keep my sanity? Keep my mind clear? Stay balanced? Support my family? And be true…to me?
I wrote a while back that being an Aries is a tough job, because we want to succeed and accept any challenge life gives us. We want to take life’s lemons and create a wonderful lemonade to share with others but, it’s a tough/daunting process. And sometimes trying to reach that zen like feeling especially, when you have dual hats – family provider and a want to be the voice of the community becomes a struggle. How do you choose? Or, do you have to?
So, before I go so far off the beaten path that I lose you, let me explain. Over the last few weeks I have asked various people  “What it meant to be black in America?”  The further I did my research, it should come to no surprise that there are others who have sought this difficult and unyielding quest. I tried anyway because again, I like the challenge.  And while the answers received were somewhat no different then other answers or views I’ve read, I still found them to be unique. I realized this is an open ended question because, answers can change from one persons experience to the next. I also listened to several interviews to give me another way of looking at the reality; giving me another perspective. For that, my eyes have widened and my plate is now the size of a Thanksgiving dinner.
With that being said, over the next few weeks, I will be posting people’s opinions, questions and truths. Conduct more research in hopes that I can condense people’s truths, make it palatable, and the work towards figuring out how we as a
whole can come together and show those who do not believe in unity that unity is as not as bad as you think it is.
Something for you to think about, “What do you think it means to be ‘Black in America’?”

Un – Traditional Thanksgiving

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Over the last month, we went from “this isn’t real,” “this just happened,” “WTF,” “to Anger management and needing counseling,” and finally, reality setting in – what’s next (in regard to politics) and Oh! by the way…it’s Christmas!  Let’s rewind that last word; it’s Thanksgiving.  While mainstream media wants to “gloss” over Thanksgiving and go straight to Black Friday and Santa, I want to take it back to the good times. Back to when all of your family came under one roof and cooked, laughed, slept (itis kicked-in), and reminiscing took place.  I missed those days.

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Growing Up

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day my mom would begin the labor intensive preparation of making sure I didn’t eat all the cheese for the macaroni and cheese and let me lick the bowl the left over pie filling was in. She allowed me to help her prepare our Thanksgiving meal.  We didn’t have a traditional Thanksgiving meal we had an awesome one.  We had crab legs, shrimp, stuffed salmon, mac n cheese, ribs, greens, sweet potato pie and “itis.”  Thanksgiving Day, we would sit around the table and express our thanks, commune as a family, sleep, watch tv and repeat.  The Friday, Saturday, and Sunday after, we did not rush to the malls to buy Christmas presents rather, we continued our family time together and went to pick a Christmas Tree, hang decorations, decorate the tree, and watch movies.  Those were the good times.

Now

I have dinner with my family, some plot on which stores they will go to right after dinner and those who aren’t shopping either still sit and connect with the family or go back home.  Me, I go home and now that my son is old enough, he and I will do like my mom and dad did me, put up a Christmas Tree, hang decorations, sit and watch movies and enjoy the company of family.  This the one day out of the year where you would actually sit with family (which I intend to do) and now, it has become a day of spending money on “great deals” when most “great deals” are generally the day after Christmas.  I’m Just Saying.  Thanksgiving Day is not the same and I am blame Mainstream Media. 

What I am thankful for…

Now, in the spirit of things I would like to start back to how things were and where they should have started by being thankful for the blessings that happened to me throughout the year; reflecting on the good things.
I am thankful for staying “consistent” with my blog – I generally start something and when I get stuck (hit a barrier in creativity) I don’t go back to it for awhile.  So, I am proud of myself for my unrelenting determination.
I am thankful for my son who is challenging me to be a better me, mom, and a human being.
I am thankful for my wonderful Support Group who understands my struggle and helps out in any way they can.
I am thankful for each struggle that has come my way and I did not let it beat me, instead, I fought it and prevailed.
I am thankful that “Conscious Rap” is making a comeback.
…this is just to name a few
Thanksgiving was that one day where you were forced to be thankful, hence the name.  If we continue to lose sight of ourselves, our family, and our community, how will we ever unify and pay it forward to those who need help?  To help the next person we must work on ourselves, we must luv one another, we must stop and appreciate our blessing and through those blessings help someone else.  As I leave you with my wonderful past and my present and my thankfulness, I also ask you, “What are you thankful for?”

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

Daddy’s Girl

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Defying Stereotypes

I grew up in household of a mother, a father, a sister and a dog.  We were not the perfect family by any means. We were a middle – hardworking class family who struggled with debt; the “bird and the bees” conversation consisted of “You betta not come home pregnant (with enough force that you knew what you should not do if you wanted to live).” There were ups and downs however my parents made sure food was always on the table, the lights were on, manners and respect to our elders was always given and you worked hard for what you wanted in life.

Growing Up

I was never allowed to take the easy road out of anything.  If I wanted to know what a word meant, I had to look it up in the dictionary and to show I knew what it meant; I had to give the definition/use it in a sentence.  When I began my first job, a 15 and 9 months, the only way I was going to get my license and a car was if I kept a job.  And so, I did.  When I turned 19, responsibility was solely on me. My mom helped me with a career change, I moved out of my parents’ house and started the process of becoming an independent woman.  Did I have a few setbacks? Yes but, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

Thinking I was Grown

One Thanksgiving I decided to challenge my father…I thought I was grown and he should have respected my opinion and I his.  Instead, the conversation was one sided and in return placed a huge strain on our relationship resulting in us not speaking to each for several months.  It was tough on me because, I lost a huge part of my life; my dad, someone who was always there for me. Results of that one event affected other aspects of my life in a negative manner.  It changed who I was and I how I treated others, especially men.

Fast-forward to My Now

I never truly remember how my dad and I began speaking to each other again however; I know our relationship has blossomed into an unbreakable bond.  When my son was born, my dad showed up to the hospital – showing his grandson and I so much luv, when I was struggling to buy my sons formula – he purchased some from Amazon for me, when my house was flooded – he gave me a place to stay until it was fixed, when he sees his grandson he makes sure he has chocolate chip cookies for him, when I said I wanted to build a Jenga Set we spent all day cutting and sanding wood, when we hang out with the family he makes sure I am enjoying myself and not solely focusing on my son, when we talk on the phone – we are able to talk about politics, family, life, sports, etc.


So…yes I am a Daddy’s Gurl.  My mom and my dad have always been there for me, my mom to teach me how to be a woman but, my dad to teach me how a man should love me and take care of his family.  He was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and no man or woman ever is however, when it counted he always there.  Daddy’s Gurl does not mean spoiled or overly attached to her father in my eyes.  Rather, what you should expect in your future husband.

 

Perfection

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Photo courtesy of Dr. Endlich and his beautiful garden

Perfectionism: Refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.

Hello! My name is Danielle and I am a perfectionist. I will take on a project – do it to the best of my capability and if I don’t feel it is complete then; I ponder until “I am one” with the final product. I am like this with work, home, the arts and anything else I tap into.

When I began blogging, I read successful tips on how to write a blog; writing from the heart, have a common theme, be truthful, and own everything you publish; a code you should abide by. Again, as a perfectionist, I do write from the heart, I own what I say and still try to have a common theme. However, with everything taking place in the world today, my focus shifted. My want to be perfect, transparent, true to me, while being politically/un-apologetically correct took over. News clouded my artistic writers form. I realized, I had to take a hiatus – to self-reflect on the overall reason of my blog. I needed to make sure that it is and will be for its intended purpose. To give others a perspective they never thought of, to educate, to be a joyous read, to hopefully help others in areas they may have needed an unbiased opinion in. I took a hiatus because I needed to hone in on my purpose and not fill people’s mind with my anger.

Ta-Nahisi Coates wrote a book, Between the World and Me, in the book he writes, “The Dream is the enemy of all art, courageous thinking and honest writing.” In the sense of my life, my dream is to be perfect when it comes to art of writing and trying to convey a message that I don’t want to be interpreted negatively. I have to let that dream go but, I also have to separate some of my strong personal feelings too. While I work on this, I will continue to write the traditional way, pen and paper. And, I SHALL RETURN.
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1-Luv

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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.   

Three Musketeers