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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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’?”

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!

Glass Half Full

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True or False – Am I scared of the times we are living in?  True.

True or False – Am I scared for my son? True

True or False – Does racism still exist? Hell mutha-cussing yeah

True or False – With all that is going on, would I change the color of skin? – False

True or False – Would I change the times I live in? False

True or False – Do I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel? True

 

The Past

The Civil Rights Movement was a myriad of needed changes for women, minorities, the disabled, gay rights, and or otherwise discriminated.  “The most important achievements of African-American civil rights movements have been the post-Civil War constitutional amendments that abolished slavery and established the citizenship status of blacks and the judicial decisions and legislation based on these amendments, notably the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision of 1954, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”  http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/civil-rights-movement

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X (the major faces of the African American Civil rights movement) while different in their methods wanted a better life for generations to come.  We, black people, overcame some obstacles and thought we won the war.  We became complacent because we were able to get jobs and were treated “equally.”

The Present

Because we never overcame our pass we didn’t understand what it meant to respect and luv each other.  Now, we have issues with black on black crime, an internal problem that only we, black people, can correct.  Yes, we have a lot to work on in our community however, with the recent shooting caught on video and extremely difficult to watch, I fear for my son.  Those who have done right, died.  Those who were in the wrong were never able to be tried by a jury of their peers, died. And, these shootings took place from those who swore to protect and uphold the law.

#BlackLivesMatter.  Everyone gets upset when black people say, Black Lives Matters but, guess what?  They do.  We say it because, guess what? We are black and we can only speak of something that is happening to our community.  Two wrongs don’t make a right and there is an issue in the black community of needing to be united however, we did not swear under oath to protect and serve.  Officers did, and the strings of incidents taking place are showing SOME officers being the judge, the jury, and the executioner.  I am not a statistician by no means but, when you have websites being created to map “Police Killings” whether they were right or wrong makes you wonder about SOME who chose to protect and serve and if you are truly safe. http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed/

The Future

The Civil Rights Movement came about because of the inequality and unjust behavior amongst people of color and rightfully so now, the Black Lives Matter movement has come about because inequality and unjust behavior amongst people of color.  Tupac said, “We don’t need more rappers, we don’t need more basketball players.  We need more thinkers.”  The Black Lives Matter movement can be a beautiful thing if we work together, if we set plans, goals, and proper courses of action to ensure equality for all.

I think the recent string of events is finally awakening the eyes of our celebrities to stand up for the true meaning of equality.  I feel as though, those who did not know where they stood in life are accepting their calling and answering it with, “What do I need to do?”

And Me

It use to be a time when I would wake up in the morning and thank the Lord for allowing me to see a brand new day…lately, I have been praying to keep everyone safe from harm.  I am waking up scared of what may happen to the “man” standing next to me.  I am scared that I could be the next Sandra Bland.  Change needs to happen.  We don’t need instant satisfaction but change that will last a lifetime.  Don’t give us the crumb of hope but, the full loaf that we’ve always asked for.  Equality and Justice for all.  People questioned Jesse Williams speech…let’s question officers who are never brought up on charges for killing innocent lives, let’s question the judges who do not give fair sentences to suspects who black or white committed a crime, let’s question those who hate “people who are different” so much, they shoot up churches and clubs, or shoot people without hesitation.   Let’s understand the real reason why your Jesse Williams, Martin Luther Kings Jr, Officer Tommy Norman, are standing up for us saying there has to/will be another way.  Let’s understand they were and are one of many willing to stand up for what they believe in.  Let’s respect their courage and embrace the truth.  There is a lot of work needing to take place in this beautiful country.  If we are supposed to be “Big Brother” why aren’t we acting like it?  Change needs to and will happen.

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P.S. If you are stilling wondering why Black Lives Matter and couldn’t understand it before and still don’t get after this weeks recent events, then I don’t think you will ever get it.

And, for those idiots who are taking matters into their own hands killing innocent police officers, please have several seats, you are not helping the cause.   You are hurting it.  I understand you are angry but, there is always another, peaceful way.  The peaceful march/demonstration in Dallas was meant to show that we must unite and demand justice.  Instead, it was turned into a massacre of innocent lives, innocent cops who were doing their job by protecting, serving and ensuring the safety of others.

Taking life is never the answer.  That is what we are fighting for, the respect of life.

 

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

Soapbox  Episode 1-Where is the Luv ?

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As I read the coverage of Orlando tragedy, the negative comments about President Obama, Muslims, the LGBT community, which shooting was worse than the other or how gun control has nothing to do with what happened…I look into space  in amazement to all the hypocrites.

I think, what if this was your child who was shot because of his/her sexual orientation by a man who knew what he was doing (taking religion out of the picture – I could give several phucks what his religion is when in the name of the Christian religion,  so many wrongs were done.) 

So many people and the comments made don’t know what they want to be mad at.  Pick one:

Y’all mad because Obama is not condemning Muslims. Why would he? All I am saying is…if he condemns Muslims he would also have to condemn the idiot who chose to shoot up the church in South Carolina in June 2015. You talk about the 2nd amendment and gun control not needing to be a factor, in that case, African Americans should not be considered equals according to dated constitutional rights (oh wait! In many cases we still aren’t) or will allow an idiot 3 months probation for raping an unconscious woman and call that justice . You condemn LGBT community because you think it’s a choice but, be okay with/hide the many innocent kids who had their innocence taken from them by Catholic priest, the infidelity in your marriages,  the lust for things and people or the myriad of sins in your life;  who you are you to thrown stones when you are living in a glass house. Being gay is not a choice. 

Let’s set aside the fact that this man is Muslim and the lives he chose to take were those of the LGBT community. The issue here, a man chose to end lives, he had the means to do so and that is what is unsettling. Human factor will always be a reason why someone makes choices. In this case, religion.   This could have very well been a Christian who did not like that the fact that heterosexual men and women were gyrating in a club but it wasn’t. While I do not like politics, there has to be something done about gun control. It very well may not be the answer but it could be a start – conversation. To condemn a whole religion because of the acts of one individual makes no sense. Especially when you don’t do the same for your religion and its acts. And finally, our President. Show him some respect, he literally has the world on his shoulders. He has to be the voice of many without degradation. That is one job I do not think I could do without pissing people off because I give zero phucks. 

This is the time that we should show empathy for the families who have lost their luved ones from senseless killing, pray that justice is served, and work to find sensible solutions as to how to prevent these actions again.