I Want to Be Grateful

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I want to be more grateful for my life. I want to live it as it is everyday and love it completely. I do not want my happiness and love to depend on a breakthrough or a successful project or more resources. I want to be and be happy in being. I am not there yet, but the fact that I truly want it gives me hope. I stop a lot more when I began to worry about things that I think will happen and remind myself it is not rea. I shake away the judgements about my family and friends. I stay present in the fact that at this moment, I am healthy, alive, with family and friends, bills paid, can drink clean water can laugh and love and just be. Being grateful is wonderful but it is hard when you live in a space where entitlement is life. Nothing I have, I am entitled to. What I have I am grateful for and the difference between grateful and entitled is major.

 

 

The Undesirable

I came across this wonderful series of interviews on UpWorthy. This particular one is of a woman named Lysa Cooper. I didn't know who she was before this, but evidently she is iconic in the fashion world. Lysa talked about being black in the fashion world and how difficult it can be. She expressed the challenge in being a fair skinned "good hair" black  woman and how it made her an outcast  in the industry with other blacks and how she didn't let these obstacles change her course. I felt her deeply.

About 5 minutes into the interview, she began to talk about her experience with online dating or just the challenge of dating when you do not fit what is the norm.  She began to cry, facing a real fear of being alone – not because she wants to, but because in this world, black beauty, her beauty is not valued. I watched this part of the videos several times. I felt a hot ping in my heart.

Her experience is  my experience. I do not feel desired. I am invisible and undesired and it makes it hard to live wholly in a world that has dismissed me. Black women's sexual power is sought after, desired and embraced, but our human value? That value that makes us loved, makes someone want to commit and share life with us…not so much. How many times do you hear a man state that they are looking for a dark woman with short hair and thick thighs that can hold her own? They may entertain the thought but will they build a life with such a woman?  This is a complex subject. It is about race, it is about self-hatred and American status quo (blond hair, thin, white). It is so challenging to see black men with white women or women of other races, not because I think people of a particular race should only date people of that same race, but because the rejection that I feel everyday from others is felt so deeply when you are also rejected by those who know your challenges and struggles. It's burns to know that you are not even the prize to your own. Though we talk pro-black and brown, it is too many times just something we say in front of company.  That's hard to swallow. I want to be desired, but centuries of narratives are hard to rewrite.

Look at TV. Some of our most popular shows show black women with white men, but as mistresses or the woman on the side. Other shows depict the black man with the white woman. Nothing would be "wrong" with this if racism in America was talked about truthfully and the pain of it could truly subside. But, watching these shows that are trying through mainstream art form to release the narrative doesn't work when you are living a total different life everyday.

This invisible-ness is not just because of my skin but also the power within. To be black/brown and strong is a recipe for loneliness. I hear men say they want an independent woman, but how true is that? I see what my male friends go after and marry and "independent" is rarely part of the criteria. 

Please note that these thoughts and observations do not apply to every man in the Western World. But it has happen enough in my life and others around me that there must be truth in it.  Lysa and everyone else, what can we do? I am not a man hater or basher. I do not go around calling men dogs or saying they aren't worth the ground they walk on. I do not see people in that way, yet, I think my physical attributes and my inner strength are negatives when it comets to relating to the other sex. To feel that you are either unwanted or feared is scarring and scary.

How can I feel desired and love? The answer are always the same. First we must love ourselves regardless of how others treat or see you. Love, love, love yourself. Second, at least here in America, we need to stop pushing race under the rug and really see how that moment in America has created a society that lacks love for a group of people that, in many ways, lack love for themselves and their fellow man/woman.  We got to be more honest. Once we are honest about race, about how we feel about ourselves, those things can fall to the wayside and love can run rapid for all of us. What a wonderful thought right?

I learned very young that I was not the mold. I would not be sought out or desired. I am not the hot one. Learning that early has made it more important for me to build other parts of me. My mind, my spirituality, my creativity, my openness and understanding.  I do not want people to feel less than and I work to make that not be the case. Years of work on these things still do not ready you for when you see that person you like come into the room with the thin, long haired women with the tight dress and three layers of makeup. It doesn't ready you for the rejection after being told you are "absolutely amazing." No one wants to be alone and should not be. I wish we lived in a world that saw spirit first and outer appearance was nothing more than a coat to protect us from physical elements. The world is beautiful and people are too. What people need to be more of is courageous. Let's change how we relate and see people. Let's give girls like me a better chance at like and love.

Graffiti Art in Detroit but not by Detroiters

 

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A few weeks ago, Fairey was in Detroit exhibiting at Library Street Collective. He left his mark. A beautiful exhibit, a huge mural that is in downtown Detroit and "Obey" signs on about 18 different buildings in Detroit. Though the mural was commissioned, the "Obey" signs weren't. As far as Detroit was concerned, it was tagging.  And for that, Mt. Fairey must be charged.  

If you live in Detroit you know that there is a love of graffiti and street art and a problem with tagging. One of the biggest slaps in the face that Detroit receives by its suburban neighbors is tagging being done by suburbanites.  Just think of it, a city that is struggling, trying to beautify itself and someone comes from a city who is not struggling from that has the audacity to trash a building or space in a different city. 

In August 2014, the Detroit Police Chief, James Craig held a press conference letting everyone know that there is no tolerance with tagging, especially by those who are not residents of this city.  His words were bonded by arrests and convictions of several suburbanites. Here comes Fairey.  Tagging Detroit property and such. Mind you, his work is heads above the crap we see tagged on our buildings, but the thing is, the standard was set and tagging is tagging regardless if you are an inner-city vandal and suburbanite jackass or an international famous artists. As a resident, I commend Detroit on keeping the standard regardless of the status of the person who broke the crime. As an artists, I get Fairey. The visual texture and feel of this city calls to artists like Fairey and seduces them to create. To use the non-traditional canvases of abandoned and older buildings and create new art.  I get it. I saw some of the "tagging" and felt prestige that the art of Fairey covers the walls of Detroit. There are many people who will not see an original Fairey and Detroiters are seeing it throughout their city. Yes, I get it, but I have to give it up to my hometown.

Only Detroit would say "you are the same as everyone else and will be treated as such." Inclusive, equal, right. I told you, I think that Detroit has this opportunity to be a city that shows others a different way to live in an urban community that is more open, accepting and just.  

 

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I'm not sure where this will go. I don't won't Fairey to go to jail, but I do want to live in a city that treats all the same and respect all the same.  I  hope this won't keep Fairey from coming to Detroit and exhibiting. His work is amazing and  I think coming to Detroit on a regular basis and taking in the people and the atmosphere could only enhance Shephard's work. Below are a few links to articles on the subject. 

  • http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2015/07/street_artist_shepard_fairey_f.html#incart_river
  • http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2014/08/should_suburban_teens_serve_ja.html
  • http://archive.freep.com/article/20140818/NEWS01/308180198/Detroit-graffiti-charges

Violence in Detroit – Tired of it

I love my city, but I never said it was a utopia. Tonight made me remember how dangerous my city truly can be. I was sitting on the floor in my sister's house watching a show on my computer. Her kids were in their eldest sister's room arguing about something as always. My ears perked up and I heard arguing and it wasn't the kids. It was coming from outside. My whole body tingled. I knew this was gonna be bad. 

I told my sister to listen and before she could walk into the living room where I sat, shots rang out. I hollered, "Get down, get down!". It was probably 20 seconds, but it felt longer. I found all my nieces on the floor and told them to go to the basement quickly. There was no argument. 

When I felt encouraged enought to stand and heard quiet I looked out of the window. What I saw was two cars going by. One red sports car and the other a huge black SUV. A few moment later neighbors began to come out of their homes to see what was happening. We talked, exchanging notes on what we heard and saw. One neighbor realized that their window was shot out. We all quickly realized that a neighborhood that is rather quiet can explode with violence…just…like…that.  

I thought back to growing up in my neighborhood. Yes, middle class, but surrounded by danger. I've said this before but as a young kid my intuition heightened because of the danger that was around us daily. I hate violence and want it to end. Not just the violence that I experienced tonight or when I was 15. But all of it, all around this wonderful world. Detroiters are sick of this frivilousness when it comes to life. We are tired of the violence in our city. We should be able to sit on our porches on a Saturday evening and relax knowing we are safe. 

I've heard so many stories in the news about shootings and killings and other such violence since I've gotten here in the last weeks. It is horrible, but let me tell you what makes me feel alright. Not long after tonight's shooting this street had Detroit Police galore; asking questions and searching for those who made us unsafe. Detroit Police were on the job. I thank them for it and feel bless that they are so courageous. We forget sometimes that police are human beings and that unlike us, they see this shit everyday up close and personal. To stay sane, good and supportive to the community with all that negative energy is nothing more than a miracle. I know we have seen some bad cops lately taking lives of young and black, but we can't forget that all police are not that way. 

Tonight was scary and too familiar. I hate that it was familiar. I hate more that my nieces and my nephews experience this kind of nonsense. Let's pray that those with violence in their hearts release it to love. Love is the answer to all this crazy shit. I wish more of us believed it. Sleeping tonight will be challenging but made a little easier with my beliefs and Detroit Police. 

Phones are a Distraction

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Having a cell phone is as normal as having arms and legs. They are an amazing tool, but sometimes I truly hate them. I am not attached to mine. I walk around with the ringer off, no vibration. I keep it because I travel a lot by myself and it is my connection to family and clients. But, if you look around, while you are driving home in your car. If you look around in the restaurant, while standing in any line or just walking up and down the street, people are texting, watching, listening and talking on those damned contraptions. We no longer take in the world around us, giving it up for a world on a screen. I am not a curmudgeon that hates technology. I am a designer with a Mac workstation and laptop as well as an iPad.  All of the technology makes my job easy to do from anywhere, but as I designer, I think the amount of time that I have to sit in front of a screen makes me more keenly aware of how I use my time away from one. 

I like sitting and reading a book. I like writing in my journal or just talking. I know that people want to get away from the distraction of their phones, but when we are bored, it is too easy to click the phone and see what is happening on social media or to digitally entertain ourselves.

There is this new show on Netflix called Sense8. It is about 8 people who share each others consciousness I guess. Literally, they can connect to seven other people just by thinking of the person. They can also take over that person's body and provide assistance with their skills, talents and experiences. This show may not be for everyone, but it made me think that if people took the time to connect on this other level that exist that maybe phones would not be needed. If we could think of someone and send them a thought or our love and we know that they received that thought or that love, would that be more harmonious than the outer technology that we used to do that now. I think technology slowed us down from advancing our brain and spiritual connectivity. There are times when I think about someone and that person shows up on my door step or calls me or write me. I am looking for something like a rubber band or some other office tool and a teammate comes in my office and happen to have that exact thing in their hands. That connection exist but we put it in the category as strange instead of seeing it as where we, as humans should be going. Truly, the cell phone is tangible way of expanding our connectivity. Social media does this as well. If we could think of someone and send them a thought or our love and we know that they received that thought or that love, would that be more harmonious than the outer technology that we used to do that now. Would we be more enlightened and more compassionate human beings if we could connect on such a level as seen in this streaming series on Netflix?

The bottom line. I do not want my phone to be a distraction. With everything, balance is needed. Let not the phone distract you from life or from expanding yourself. This week, I have decided that one day a week, I will not use anything with a screen. As yoga detox me, this will detox my mind and give me space to connect in other ways.