Fears

fear

This week has been a doozy. Many people have gone through so many different emotions after hearing Donald Trump will be our next president. Some people are ecstatic, but most that I have spoken to are depressed, angry, confused and really scared. I've haven't heard the word fear so much since 9/11.  I took a moment internally and thought about what really scares me and what fears I have. Just to name a few:  

  • Death of loved ones (my parents, siblings and the like)
  • Guns 
  • Our environment being too far gone to fix
  • Being homeless
  • Not telling a person my true feelings about them before it's too late
  • Becoming deathly ill
  • Not having the ability to think clearly
  • Not being able to create art

These are real fears that I face every day and try to alleviate by enjoying my family and friends, creating art as much as possible, using my mind to its fullest capacity and working hard to stay healthy and happy. There is one thing on this list that I have not been able to move forward with and that is telling that special someone I care.  One day, I will get over that fear and scratch it off of my list. One day. 

Fear is an emotional mechanism that is supposed to keep us from doing dangerous things or to alert us of danger. It is a good thing in its place, but sometimes the fears we have are based on the unreal. That is when fear itself becomes dangerous and harmful.Some people have let the fear of Trump create an unreal world in their heads and that can develop into more bad decisions. Let's work for the best and prepare for the worse. 

With the Trump election, my first reaction was not fear at all, just disappointment. I felt it on several levels starting with the politics that lead us to having such poor choices in our presidential candidates, to the horrible language and media frenzy we had to live through for the last year. In hindsight, maybe this is the only way such an election could have ended.  But, for just a moment, I did think, even in the brokenness that we are facing as people in this country, that we would pick what would be best for the majority of us. Again, maybe we did.

The hopes and optimism I held for America were unwarranted and I knew better. My soul knew better. She was talking to me and getting me ready for what she saw was coming and what I was scared to admit.  When it happened, disappointment hit and then the next thing I felt was, time to get back to work. Keep creating art that young children see in their neighborhoods. Keep writing about humanity, spiritual understanding, my Black-ness and womanhood. Keep transforming public spaces and keep loving family, friends, and neighbors and beyond. Be ready to move when my inner spirit tells me to. Be ready to work when I am called.  That is it. We have fears to get over in this country. Fears about race and the guilt of it. Fears about this changing country.  There is a government system with outdated laws, processes,and policies that need to change. Until then, I've decided that Donald Trump is not something I need to fear just another person to love, pray for, and tell the truth to.

Colorful Women Series: Stay Woke

fullsizerender

Colorful Women is not about skin color. It is about the colorful personalities and experiences of women. But, the last few months have been filled with racial and prejudice events that I must use the Colorful Women platform to speak on the subject.  Sometimes having dark skin in America can be hard. It can be the difference in living an amazing life or not. It can be the difference in life or death at times. 

I kind of tear up thinking that someone may think less of me because of my skin tone which God the Creator gave me.  It could not be wrong or bad if it came from the universe. For me, my skin has been beyond a blessing. Everyday, I live beyond the definition this world has placed on my skin. I am lucky to have family and friends and the upbringing that says be proud to be Black, be proud to be human and to be most proud that I am a child of God. We all are children of God, equal and just as important as anyone. I know there are many people of color that did not have my upbringing and have been torn down by the American narrative of the Black person. 

How can we change what is going on in the world. Easy. Love is the answer. Treat others as you will have them treat you. Be proud of who you are inside and out and live respectively and a Black person or whatever type of person you are blessed to be. We MUST – all of us, know our history and how we became the country we are so that we can fix it. We MUST share our knowledge to other generations. We MUST stay aware. I love the saying STAY WOKE. They are amazing words. It is like the Matrix. Once you take the pill there is no looking back. Your eyes are open, keep them open. My eyes are open and with each day, each book, each conversation, each newscast, my eyes are open wider. 

WOMEN: A special request for you. We have gotten to a place where we tear down each other, men, our loved ones. Let us go back to our nature and comfort our children, our men and each other. Let us TEACH love. That is our womanly power. We have given it away to show our independence and some weird type of strength that really has created a toxic space. We can be independent and nurturing at the same time.

I write this with peace and love – STAY WOKE my friends. 

 

Colorful Women Series: Colorful People

fullsizerender_7

Close your eyes and see the world differently. We have removed the brown hues, olive skin, pinks and porcelain whites and traded them for reds, greens, blues and bright yellows. Can you see me with my green skin and magenta locks walking down the street with orange men, yellow women, pink children and purple elders. How can the world not smile and love and be happy with happiness walking around saturated in beauty.  

Now open your eyes.  

Those colorful people exist. On the outside our beauty has been tainted by judgmental and prejudice stories and beliefs. On the outside we may be brown, black, beige, olive, tan, white – but truly open your eyes and you see that real US. The inside that sparkles bright like rainbow colors. Our true source of our beauty. Do you see that.  

NOW, you can enjoy the beauty of our browns, blacks, beiges, olives, tans and whites. We are colorful people inside and out. Uniquely and equally so. All we have to do is keep our eyes and hearts open. 

 

Colorful Women Series: Do You See Me?

fullsizerender_2

You read a lot. A LOT. 

I know. 

Put the books down and LIVE you say.  

Write the BOOKS – Don't read them.

You don't know. Reading helps me live. 

See, the last book I read, told me not to sweat the small stuff. 

The book before that, showed me how to think BIG. 

Two weeks ago I was reading this novel and I learned how to tell someone you love them 

AND

then how to murder who I love and get away with it.

Being shy (and sometimes shy still)

Books open me up and help me form words when nothing else would

Stories connect me to people. They have connected me to you. 

What is your favorite book?

Google.com isn't a book

What am I reading now? 

A Shakespeare play. My favorite. King Lear.

Fathers and daughters and bad relationships.

No, King Lear doesn't remind me of my father. 

You say good bye and walk away

I look beyond the pages of my book to see you get further away from me.

What would our novel be about. A girl in love and a guy with no clue. 

Oh my gosh. He looked back!

Did he see me gazing?

Does he see me at all?

Colorful Women Series: Neck Roll

fullsizerender_4

A short walk around the corner and I was at my fav cafe with a hot coffee and a book. It was after lunch but before dinner, so not that many people were there. Just the way I like it.  A guy on his laptop was watching  video smiling and silently laughing. A couple having a quiet conversation and one other person on the phone. The girl on the phone was beautiful. Long hair – most of it hers, flawless makeup and dressed to the nines. She sparkled. Her boisterous laughed filled the cafe. Every now and then she realized that she was disturbing the rest of us and would quiet down. 

Whoa. Her demeanor changed. She got up out of the chair and walked to the door like she was marching to war. You could hear the anger in the syncopation of her sandals slapping the back of her heels.

She didn't get completely out of the threshold of the door before her hand went to her hip and she began to point as if a person was standing right in front of her. Her words became shorten and rough. She is mad. And then, I see it. The neck roll, moving side to side with each word she says as though there is not a vein or bone in it.

"I don't need you." I don't need no man. I am an independent woman. Who the hell do you think you are?"

I was wondering what the guy on the phone was saying. We could only imagine. But we didn't have to imagine her responses. They were filled with derogatory names and expletive language.  After about five minutes of that, she pushed the red button on her smart phone, looked at it for a moment and with tears in her eyes she looked into the cafe. She realized we all saw and shame came across her face. She quickly turned her heard and with the same angry walk she left out the cafe with, she walked to her car. We all heard the car door slam and the screeching of tires out of parking lot.

I sighed, glanced around at the other observers of that episode and went back to reading my book. 

She was hurt. How many times have I heard women say how independent they are and what man they don't need. It is a mantra of a lonely and fustrated. What does independents have to do with wanting to be loved, honored and held. What do it has to do with sharing moments and life with anyone. Nothing. 

The neck roll tells no lies. She was mad. Maybe she will go home and have a good cry, or bitch to a girlfriend over red wine. She look like the kind that will take a bat to a car. 

Colorful Women Series: You Aren’t A Real Woman

fullsizerender_6

I found out the news the way most people do these days; on Facebook. He is leaving town with his fiancé who is expecting their first child. I didn't know about the fiancé and of course I did not know about the baby. I was deflated and embarrassed. 

For years we were in and out of each other's lives. Sometimes I would be in a relationship. Many times you would be with someone, but I thought the end result would be you and I.  That is what I thought the universe wanted. 

Days before the truth came out, you lay next to me and said, "You look like a real woman." Here we go with this again. You have accused me of NOT being a real woman so many times. What does that mean?

Why did I let you get in my head and questioned my femininity.  I didn't wear things cut up to there and down to there. No, I didn't really get the enhancements of silky hair and acrylic nails. No, I did not learn the magic of batting my eyes and getting men to do what I want. I was okay with the type of woman I am until you. If the lack of these things really makes me less of a woman why did I continually find you at my door? Your definition of my womanhood bounded my power and my love. I should have left it alone –but attraction is a monster that warps the senses.

You loved my intellect and hated it at the same time. You admit that you would love to wallow nude in my intellect. It scared you and to compensate your fear, you would attack my womanhood and tell me that I could never tame you – “I am wild and free.” Well so was I.

It's too bad. You knew me deeply, loved me deeply, but you could not commit to me. Maybe you knew you couldn't live within my standards, which were simply, live fully, love fully, and be open and honest.

LOVE – Love is easy and natural. Commitment? Well, that takes courage and determination.

For days after reading that post I felt less beautiful, unwanted, unloved and alone. Time, understanding and prayer raised me above that, but I cannot help once in a while to go back to that memory and ask how can you love so deep and treat someone so conniving.

The good of it all is if I didn't get the message before, I got it now. Hope you found the real woman you wanted. Me? Still looking for that real man. 

Colorful Women Stories: She’s Always Right

IMG_0737

Which skirt should I wear?

Red. Black. Flower pattern?

This one still has the tag on it.

It's beautiful, but too revealing. Is that celluilite?

I'll wear the black one with a yellow blouse. No…I will look too much like a bumble bee.

Black blouse and black skirt will match. No…this isn't a funeral. I REALLY DON'T KNOW.

Let me call her and see what she thinks. 

 

Ring…ring.

Hey. I just sent you a photo of the skirt and blouse.

Just open the message. Click it to make it bigger.

What you think?

I know it is not a funeral. Can I pull it off with yellow accessories?

Red skirt? That was my second choice. 

With a purple jacket?!!? I will look like a complete clown. I rather look like I am going to a funeral. 

I don't want…huh?

Okay – red skirt, black blouse and purple jacket (sigh) I will try it.  

Bye Ma. 

(15 minutes later)

She was right. She is always right. 

I Hate Politics

vote-flagThis has been a stressful political campaign. I have read and have seen so much about Donald Trump and all the things he said, not said and took back.  I read about Hillary Clinton's emails and about the foundation. It is really disappointing to know that the political system comes down to who you like and not who does the job well. I shake my head in dismay that we have come down to name calling and derogatory words. It scares me that we have picked a candidate that sees this as as nothing more than a competition and not a chance to better society, nationally and internationally.  So much is going on in the world. Syria, Turkey, natural disasters in Louisiana and Italy, Iran, Russia.  It makes it most important that the person sitting in the presidential seat is there to benefit the most of us. It also makes it very important that Americans wake up and stop being selfish in their choice and make this imperative decision based on home first and the global society that we are truly a part of. 

Before last week, I really stayed away from all of the nonsense that was reported on the news. Same old same old. But it was the speech that Donald Trump gave in Virginia and then again in Michigan that gave me real pause and shame. It seem to be an appeal to the black voter. Maybe to the voter of color period, but he focused on African American. There was one statement he said: "What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose? You're living in poverty, your schools are no good. You have no jobs — 58 percent of your youth is unemployed…"

His whole appeal is remind black Americans that the Republican party was once the party of President Abraham Lincoln who was president during the emancipation of slaves. He pleads that African Americans should come back to the party that freed them.  What was wrong with this plea is that the statement was blanketed. It assumed that all blacks were experiencing these statistics. This statement did not speak on all the amazing things that Black Americans have achieved despite some of the disparity that we certainly face.  But the biggest eye roll I had from this speech is of his unawareness that Blacks do not see our place in society as a Democratic or Republic thing. The black experience that Trump alluded to (which is a small portion of our experience) is truly the outcome of inequality that started when slaves placed their feet on this American soil and that inequality and the continuation of it is what has created some of the poverty, education and lack of opportunity in some communities. The other part of this is narrative. One that Donald Trump pushed in his appeal, knowingly or not. Too many Americans still see blacks as poor, uneducated and violent.  I really got in the dumps when Hillary Clinton found it important to event dignify Donald Trump's statements. He needs to be ignored and she needs to continue to just pump up the policies. That is what you are taught in school. Ignore the bully. 

WHY BLACKS VOTE DEMOCRATIC:
Most Blacks voted for Democratic candidates really because it is the lesser of two evils. I wish that we would not even know who our candidates were on only got a list of their platform and voted by that alone. THEN – make them accountable for making those things they promise to move forward happen. I wish we did not have this two party system. It causes divisiveness. So much in these UNITED STATES separate us; money, race, religion, politics. Our name is almost ironic. 

I hate politics and wish it was different and hope it will be different. 

 

The Struggle is Real

gallery

I am not a huge shopper, but Target is one of the stores and brands that I like. I was in Target the other day shopping for crayons. During the back to school season crayons are super cheap. I use them a lot for some of my drawings so I try to stock up. While walking through the store, my niece came across this novelty light thing that looked like a small window or framed glass with the words "The Struggle is Real." written on it. My niece found a button on it and found that it actually lit up. How cute.  I picked it up and read the words again and I have to tell you, I felt a little bit disturbed about it. 

This statement or saying is used to describe a struggle of life. It is a popular saying in the Black American community. It has deep meaning and  validation of a pain, challenge and life that too many times got ignored by most society. It was a proclamation between Blacks that what you are going through is real but it is also possible to get through it. So, to see that saying minimized into a product for sale? Not cool right?

6nerqjc2je9x

I found that there were other items in Target and other places that also used this slogan. I do not want to make assumptions about it. Maybe this statement is now being accepted by a larger audience may mean that more people understand the struggle and want to support it or hopefully eradicate it. Maybe it means more people are struggling and find solace in the statement. Or, maybe it is that the statement is not understood at all and because it is said by black people, it is deemed cool and therefore profitable like many other sayings, dances, creations of Black Americans.  I am not sure. All I am sure of is that when I saw it, as beautifully crafted as the product seem, the feeling it left me was not a good one. 

16751797 gallery-1447363990-phone-case

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Black Man, Blue Man Solider Man

20160811_135305

Seeing these black men killed was a numbing feeling.  I didn't know what emotion to have. I wasn't angry. I was sad that people lost their lives and sad that this violence is just going to be piled up on top of the other violence we have experienced. Nothing will change. Nothing will change.  I wrote a post about being a person of color in America, but being a black man in America got to be one of the most challenging experiences. 

I see my brothers and father and friends going through this process of living while being a black man. It is a tough life. I see other men wanting the black man swagger, but not their struggles or pain.  Black men are most powerful and many times most hated and tend to be seen as most dangerous in American society.  That is a heavy crown to bear.

It started with the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and not 24 hours later, another killing by an officer of black man, Philando Castile. This violence was not new.  Only that it was caught on camera and shared on such a large platform changed the story and made us have to talk, argue, protest and cry outwardly about it. 

America was taken aback for a moment and were in outrage. People took to the streets, but that energy and desire for change was quickly forgotten once the lives of police officers were taken. First in Dallas, by a black man who was once a solider, then again in Baton Rouge, but another former solider who was also black. I could not ignore how many American issues were wrapped up in these days of violence. Not only the way we treat black men, but the horrible way we treat police officers and our soldiers.

Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter seem to really mean nothing matter and the black man who for a moment may have gotten some universal understanding was pushed back into that too familiar place.  

All of this nonsense can be traced to the need of changing narratives about black men, police offices and soldiers and after changing the narrative, supporting these groups as they should be. 

OFFICER NARRATIVE

Officers in my community are seen as protectors, but they are also seen as punishers by some. From the 40s, 50s and 60s, police officers used the power they were given to treat people of color as less than human. They were mimicking what was going on in the rest of America.  Sometimes those encounters ended in violence and even death and too many times those encounters and deaths were overlooked and not questioned. People of color, specifically black people, began to see officers as enemies and people you could not trust. Some blacks tried to change this by becoming part of the force. That desire to protect their own communities and to remove the threat of white police officers in colorful communities moved a lot of men and women of color to become officers. The problem is the narrative about officers did not change and sometimes these people of color that joined the police force were looked at as traders and not as the activist they were, trying to change the system from the inside. Rejected by their community, they connected with the honor and beliefs of the police force. 

SOLIDER NARRATIVE

The Vietnam War created a disdain in the hearts and souls of Americans for war. In the 70s when vets returned, they had to hide their service and their identity and not wear their uniforms for fear of being attacked verbally and physically by fellow Americans. This was the first war where soldiers were not held as heroes. My father was one of those men. How awful that must have be to go fight a war and to come back to ridicule, dislike and distrust.  As we protest war and soldiers we negated supporting soldiers emotionally, ensuring they were taken care of and had jobs and homes and full lives. We isolated this group from American society. Many of them ended up homeless on the streets, in mental institutions, in our prisons, or with their families in silence,  not talking about what they experienced or feel. Many of the wars since then have not been completely supported by American society. We have learned not to blame the solider and treat them unfairly, but what we have not learned is the correct way to transition soliders from war to community and sometimes, we continue to isolate this community, creating soliders that may violently lash out at themselves, at others or at who they see as enemies.

BLACK NARRATIVE

The narrative of the black man can be traced from slavery.  "Black men are dangerous animals" evolve to "Black men want our white women, we must protect our women from them", evolves again into "Black men are criminals, we must jail them to make our community safe." These narratives stay and are repeated until they were stored in the American subconscious and shared with new generations. These thoughts are carried by whites, blacks and sometimes officers and the result is the violence we are experiencing. I saw a particular sheriff from Wisconsin spew a narrative about black on black crime. How much crime black neighborhoods have and how blacks are dangerous, yet he said nothing about why that violence exist. He says nothing about the lack of opportunity in these neighborhoods. He didn't share that inequality decreased the number of persons in black community from receiving education or having the resources to get an education that could pulled them out of neighborhoods like this. He didn't talk about the lack of transportation trapping people because of their financial limitations. Some people of color work hard in spite of all of these challenges and get out of the cycle. This sheriff was probably one of them, but that narrative about black crime coming out of a black police officer again was a blow to changing the narrative of the black man and the blue officer. 

America is a systemically racists place but what I think is worse is that we are not comfortable questioning our beliefs and opening ourselves to cultivating different beliefs when facts, experiences and even emotions tell we should. We suck at that and that is why socially, we are behind compared to other parts of the world.  

What we saw in Dallas and Baton Rouge is the culmination of narrations coming together creating a violent end to a chapter in our America story. An end that we could have stopped if we talked to each other, released old beliefs and supported truth.  

Change the narrative and we can change our nation.