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’?”

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).

afro

picture courtesy of Pinterest

Arrogance

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We weren’t allowed to get married

So, we jumped the broom

As a sign our union.

We weren’t allowed to read

It’s okay,

We found other means

Our strengths and resilience is what you hate

Our innovation swept under the rug

You want us to be stripped of all sense of dignity and pride

You take our music

Our swag

You enhance your shape

To reflect what we always knew was great

And yet, you chastised it once before

Why should we not be arrogant?

All that we are is what you secretly idolize

Appropriation or acculturation

Pick one

You hate us for our arrogance

And wish we would tone it down

But, why?

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.
Dunh dunh dunh
1-Luv

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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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