My Everyday Racism; MSN Town Hall Meeting

Yesterday I had the displeasure of watching MSN’s Everyday Racism; Town Hall Meeting. The meeting wasn’t bad or inaccurate, it just angered me. I don’t need anything else to bring out my rage, intolerance and hopelessness regarding systemic, institutional racism. But as much as the conversation brought out emotions, it also made me think deeply and reflect. One topic was about the things that we as black people do to not rattle, scare or make the white folks uncomfortable. I started to think back…far back into my twenties and thirties.

I worried about what white people thought at all times. I worried that if I took too many samples in Sam’s Club or Cub’s, I would look broke and hungry. I loved the different colors that could spice up my hair, but I would only do dark reds that you only see in the sun. I didn’t want to be the “ghetto black girl” with the orange, purple or blue hair. When I would speak, instead of speaking the King’s English the way my voice comes out of my mouth, I would talk one octave higher and sharpen my words.

As I moved into the workplace, I would never speak up for myself. To add insult to injury, my self esteem was very low. Instead of having opinions in performance reviews; I would do passive aggressive things like talk to the other black women about our white supervisors. I would perform the way I thought they wanted me to perform, and my conversations were geared toward the topic that interests them. None of this made a difference in my performance reviews or paychecks.

As I entered my thirties my children’s education and getting into good universities was my focus. When my son would act up, the first thing I would address is how he’s making me look to our white neighbors, instead of addressing his actual behavior. If a white mother brought my children home, I would feel queasy when they pulled up to my home. I would prepare to be “on”. That meant discussing the things going on in their lives and pretending to care. Behind our doors we were sacrificing and working our asses off just to stay in the school district, but I’m in my driveway talking about how her husband never puts his suit jackets away.

After my children were accepted to top Universities, I told every white person I knew. And I mean EVERYONE OF THEM. My mindset was look over here at what my children have done. They succeeded and did better than your privileged children. My daughter received a full academic scholarship to The Ohio State University.

Once I turned forty, things changed drastically. My two close friends, white women( Hey Dawn and G) began to have conversations with me regarding race and privilege. We would have hour long conversations on the phone and one day out of the blue, I was told that I was fine the way I am. I was told that although I talk a lot and come into the room with lots of noise, I was loved. They said I shouldn’t be working for the approval of anyone who doesn’t have love for me, whether white or black.

These last two years I have made it a priority to be my authentic self. I do exactly what I want to do. I don’t live my life to make sure someone who gives zero thought about me is comfortable. I take samples when I want them and wear my hair however the heck I want-my life is not run by trying to fit in with my oppressors. I am a black woman ; strong, courageous, intelligent, funny and proud. I am free to be who I am with not one apology. Tomorrow morning I plan on mixing a few colors and having fun with my hair. And this weekend I’m gonna spend time with the people who love and appreciate every single part of me.

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Mother’s Day( late blog) 

  
Mother’s Day weekend is always a good time for me. Last year my mom, oldest daughter and I went to church, brunch and exchanged gifts. We had so much fun bonding and loving on each other. This year was no different, I was with my family and had a wonderful time. This year we celebrated a graduation and Mother’s Day together.

We were all in Syracuse to support, and party with my little cousin Tyler. And that we did. There were a total of fifteen family members there to celebrate. After the graduations( homie… there were two) we attended a graduation party. My cousin had control over the whole event. She didn’t really want all of us to fuss and try to help her. She had my youngest daughter as her personal assistant -which is a big deal this because child never assists with anything. The party well planned and everyone enjoyed themselves . There was spaghetti, cupcakes, cake and sliders, my favorite burgers. The spaghetti of course was from Olive Garden, the girls favorite restaurant. The place was decorated stylishly and she even gave us gifts which I didn’t want to take. We’re supposed to be giving her gifts.  

We came out in huge numbers to support Tyler and it also made me remember how important family is to me. During the visit I was able to meet Tyler’s mom’s, side of the family. I met the sisters, cousins, and aunts who were all there to show love and support. On Sunday we had dinner and all of the mothers were wishing each other a Happy Mother’s Day. We fellowshipped and laughed for hours.  

My 89 year old Nana even made the 12 hour trip to come and see her granddaughter walk across that stage. We traveled from Dallas to New York and her mom and family came from Louisville and Atlanta. Tyler’s parents haven’t been together in years but when it comes to Tyler they are family. We are Family ( queue the music).  

As we all packed up to leave and took our final bathroom breaks, we exchanged hugs. Some of us hugged each other twice. I feel like I have more friends and family after this weekend. Another cool part of this weekend was being with my youngest Ana. I must have kissed and hugged her 10 times and her Dad did the same. I was able to FaceTime with my oldest and chat with her. I talked up a storm with my middle boy; and I heard from my bonus kiddos too.  

I promise you readers, I couldn’t have prayed, asked for, or imagined a better Mother’s Day or family celebration. For all of you who graduated and had family who did, congratulations. To those who are mothers, have mothered, mentored and nurtured; Happy Mother’s Day!  

Suga Momma Goes to Syracuse 

Now in order to understand this blog you need to either watch a show called The Proud Family or have your own Suga Momma. The show was popular on Disney in the early 2000’s. It starred Kyla Pratt as the voice of the main character Penny Proud. Suga Momma was played by Jo Marie Payton who also played the Mom on a show called Family Matters. If you haven’t seen that show watch that too.

Anywho Suga Momma is the feisty grandma of the Proud’s and she doesn’t hold her tongue -EVER. She also……….. Let’s just break it down, she doesn’t give a damn and isn’t scared of anyone. Now this is the part where I talk about Nana.

Nana is feisty. This weekend while attending a graduation at Syracuse University ; I tried to hold her 89 year old hand and help her up three sets of stairs. She shooed my hand away. Her response was and I quote, “ I know how to and I can walk.”

Nana doesn’t hold her tongue, EVER! She was getting restless so I told her we could walk around for a while. I’m sorry I can’t tell her nothin’. I asked her if she wanted to walk around. Outside of the stadium there are no seats anywhere. So we were trying to find place to rest after taking a stroll to the concession stand. Nana flagged down three police officers and explained to them that they needed to find some seats for the elderly. When they provided their explanation, she walked away before they could finish thus leaving me to look like a fool.

You know what’s next? Nana doesn’t give a DAMN. We were at the graduation party and she said she needed something. I said oh what do you need, to use the restroom? She shook her head. I said do you need to go to sleep?. She shook her head. I asked if she needed food. She said I again quote, “ I need a glass of red wine.” And of course me being the dutiful granddaughter I found her a nice merlot.

If I told you anymore stories this blog would go on for two days. I adore my Nana.I mean she is my favorite person in the entire world. She can be a feisty, fussy, hot mess but she helped me to become the woman I am. This blog is part of her always debating me and showing me how to speak my truth and challenge others. I may have been called a feisty firecracker a few times. I am working on my filter and I keep folks around me who will hold me accountable. My children, my friends & family are good at it.

Although Nana is a trip, she fiercely loves her family. She has helped me with my children and helped raise my youngest daughter from a newborn. Now my daughter at age 21 is able to take care of her. She has helped us financially even as she was retiring. Once she placed $300 in my hand and walked away. Nana is 89 years old and has all of her mind; her faculties are in check. She is in good health and she would slap me if she knew I wrote this blog so please don’t tell anyone. Shhhhhhhh

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MY DAUGHTERS

I am so happy and proud of the relationship that I have with my daughters; Brittany and Ana. Brittany and I instantly bonded when she was small but Ana was always with my Uncle and Aunt all of the time. Nana had her when she wasn’t at Auntie and Uncle Sonny’s. We later came together and she learned to trust me at around age 2.

            As the girls grew up and into their teen years, my favorite thing about our time together was laying across their bed and just talking to them about their day, Ana’s sports and Brit’s band stuff. When Brit left  for college Ana and I grew closer and really bonded. She was very popular in high school so she would put together cute outfits and I enjoyed doing her hair in cute styles as she talked to me about the thirsty boys who liked her.
              Now that my girls are adults…well Grown-ish, it’s so much fun to talk to them and go back and forth about politics music and pop culture. I so love our connection of love and honesty and they are both blatantly honest. Over the years I have learned to be honest with them because parents lie a LOT.  When we talk on our conference calls we spent so much time laughing and debating that it became a Sunday ritual for a while, but then they got busy. We still stay in contact through text and when I am annoying they ignore me. They agree that I do too much. For instance Ana told me to write a paragraph and I am on my third or fourth one.
              To sum up the relationship I have with my girls I would say I have homies for life. I have someone I can vent to and  they can vent to me. I also love the closeness that the girls share and I hope I had something to do with that. Ana is understanding to my needs and that is why anything I have or can do for her it’s done. Brittany is my boss and helps me make decisions that are hard, she keeps me in check. So I always encourage her and build her self- esteem.
            I love my girlies with all of my heart. I kind of feel like we are pieces of a beautiful mosaic set of tiles wound together through unconditional love.

 

SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT

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I was finally able to carve out some time to watch Spike Lee’s Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It. I am old enough to remember hearing about the movie when it came out back in the late 80’s. I was only 9 years old and didn’t see the movie for myself until I was in my twenties.

It started out as many of Spike’s movies have in the past with wonderful camera angles and cinematography. The setting is New York City; Brooklyn to be exact. Nola Darling is the main character just as she was in the film.  She is dating three men; Mars Blackmon who is young and keeps her laughing and sexing like crazy. However he is immature and lives with his sister in the projects. She  has Greer Childs a narcissist model who thinks he is God’s gift to women and to Nola. He makes love to her with patience and passion. And lastly Jamie Overstreet; the married businessman who is loaded and showers Nola with gifts and lives to eat her for dessert. She needs these men in her life for various reasons. They equal one man; each fulfilling her wants and desires. She has no intention to commit and of course the men don’t like that at all.

Instead of giving a review of the series I just want to give my opinion on  the overall theme.  I don’t want to give away the entire series for those who haven’t had to chance to binge. She’s Gotta Have It is about women being able to be sexually free and not being labeled as a whore or thot.  Are we not able to have sex and enjoy it just as much as men? What about us having side dudes as men have side chicks? Is it unimaginable to think that women want to have a full life and be able to choose what kind of cake we like, eat the hell out of it and have ice cream along with the cake?

The thought of having many husbands has crossed my mind many times. I have been married most of my life and the idea of marriage has always been important to me. My husband is cool and laid back for the most part.  He is a great guy but he doesn’t share my passion for life or music. What if I had another man who loved going dancing the way I enjoy it? Or what if I could have a boyfriend who would listen to music all night long and break it down to its purest forms? At some point that guy might get on my nerves and be too deep and I might want a hunk who picks me up and takes me from place to place in his arms. He opens doors and takes his shirt off at my request. He would be my Greer there for his looks and brawn not so much his mind. The passionate guy could be a poet and love spontaneous vacations, picnics, and naked games of tag.

Then I would have my #1 the one who is my opposite; balanced and controlled. In a perfect world that would be accepted and my husband would be on board. I mentioned this to him and his response, ” HELL NO RHASHA.” I am a realist in terms of relationships. People change, their wants and needs change,  what we want at 20 is different at 30 and even 50. I guess I can continue to live my life through Nola. Something about her is freeing and exciting. She is not perfect and has her flaws and insecurities. She is irresponsible as hell and makes excuses instead of owning her shit.

Season two of SGTHI threatens to be just as bold as season 1. What happened after the Thanksgiving dinner where all of the men became acquainted with each other?  Are they merely pieces of meat to Nola and there to fill her sexual appetite? Will they ever stop singing Prince’s Greatest Hits? For me I am here for every minute of the series. I gotta have more!

 

Home is Where the Hurt Is

Going to my hometown Indianapolis is usually freeing and peaceful. I know where everything is located. I don’t get lost. The traffic is not ridiculous like it is in Dallas where I’ve resided since 2015. I can get the foods I’ve loved since I was young; White Castle, Long’s Donuts, and Mr. Dans. I enjoy worshipping at my childhood church and the church I transitioned to as an adult. I get to hang with my cousins, best friend  and family members. But some things are not as they use to be.

My Nana is getting older and starting to feel like she’s actually 88. She has always been healthy. While others were losing their grandmothers, mine was eating healthy; no diabetes or high blood pressure. Nana’s mind is 100% there and she can debate with the best of them. But her body is not lining up with her mind. Now she is having aches and pains and two doctor appointments a week.  She is sick of visiting different doctors and telling them over and over what is going on. After visiting  with her I asked her if she wants to come to Dallas so I can take care of her. 

My Aunts are also getting older. Aunts are such a blessing. They are like your mom only cooler and they let you get away with everything. My Aunt Beth is my favorite and she so much fun. She always had a nice car and she drove really fast. If anyone cut her off she would quickly yell at them. Aunt Beth loved roller coasters and Dairy Queen dates. She beats the crap outta the kids in board games and is very competitive. I was raised as a only child so when I could spend the night at Auntie’s  with my cousins it was fun times. Whenever my cousins wanted to do something they would say, ” You ask. She can’t say no to you.”   She would always keep me in suspense and then say, “yep.” 

My Aunt is not feeling the way she once did. She is often ill and struggles a lot. When I come home I try to cheer up her with songs and jokes. I always have a story about my grown ass kids. In the past Rhasha the cheerleader could change her mood and make her forget her pain; not as much now. She has been on dialysis for seventeen years and still has strong faith that one day she will be healed. The day after I celebrated her 63rd birthday with her I dreamed she was in Dallas on my back porch eating tacos on Tuesdays. 

So often times coming home hurts. I know that as long as we live we are getting older.  Even at 40 my knees crack and my grays are feisty. I look at Nana and think; her  body is 88 years old. Auntie has lived for 63 years when doctors said she wouldn’t or couldn’t.  Each of these ladies have made an impact on my life and that continues. I see them for who they were then and who they are now. 

I guess the best thing I can do is come home often. Tell them and show them that I love them. Realize that life doesn’t stay the same. Life is about transitions; memories and moments. There are still memories to be made and moments to share with Nana, Auntie and all of my family members. I look forward to coming back home for Thanksgiving to enjoy another precious moment. 

  

Image St. Joseph’s Cockeysville