Black Blue

Your skin, the perfect shade of

perfect

I like it

when it glistens in the sun too

But I love it

When its that dark black blue hue

but do you love your black blue too?

They called you black

and all the other kids laughed

and made you feel

inferior

but the joke is on them when

our own folk pretend that

their hate is your hate

Because they hate their own skin

To begin with

Your blue black has endured

the many evils of

this world tenfold

And yet and still, it upholds

Soft as cotton, bright as pure gold

not that bright like artificial light

but that dark and natural and brilliant type

like the best night of my life

When we fell in love

The type of night that make you wanna

sleep outside because

Only on the darkest night

Can you see all of the stars and

All of the sky

I want you

And your black blue too

But I need you

To love it

And love it fiercely

As I do.

Sister Girl

sister girl

sister girl

she and I

talked, laughed, cried and I

swore a thousand times that she was my

friend

sister girl

her talk

it was deep

and it was cheap

faced with 2, 3 faces

which was hers

sister girl

her jealous eyes

her critical lips

her hips resented my hips’ width

she exchanged her gifts for an infatuation with mine

sister girl

she hates me

but still I love

I love

her jealous eyes

her critical lips

her resentment

they tell me I’m doin’ good

Too

Damn

Good

Reflections

“Sending love to all the girls out there trying to love themselves in a world that’s constantly telling them not to.” — Quinta Brunson (via Twitter)

reflections pic

Reflections

Butt injections

Pills that promise a smaller size

Surgeries to shrink stomachs, minimize thighs and straighten slanted eyes

The tangled web we weave

When what we see in the mirror don’t look like tv

Infections

Undetected

When the blood boils and burns to the bone

With foreign bodies like plastic, fix-a-flat and silicone

How looks can be deceiving

When the body we’d kill for kills us while we’re sleeping

Affection

It’s what’s expected

Because imitation is the new expectation

Self-hate for the love of our butts, our breasts and our pigmentation

The challenge of truth…being true to ourselves

When the reflection in the mirror mirrors plastic itself

Gotta Love the Copycats

copycats

“Don’t set sail using someone else’s star” – African Proverb

Nobody likes a copycat. You do something…and then they do it. You do something else…and wait for it…they go and do that something else as well. It can be like a shadow almost. A dark shadow that intends to steal your shine, and possibly, your identity.

And all at the same time we hear things like ‘imitation is the highest form of flattery,’ ‘haters secretly admire you from afar,’ ‘if you don’t have haters (or beat biters – the slang phrase I grew up with for copycats), you’re doing something wrong. All of these things may very well be true, but yet and still, there is absolutely NOTHING okay about copycat-ism. At all.

Yet, as much as everyone (including myself) despises them, I still got love for ‘em…because they don’t have love for themselves.

To the copycats – the unoriginals, the tryna-bes – I have just a few words for you:

  1. You don’t like yourself or your ideas enough – and it’s a horrible thing. Yeah, I said it. To you, what you have to offer simply isn’t good enough, compared to what others have. You wait and you wait until something or someone comes up – something or someone that you would rather be than yourself, and try your hardest to emulate it. That’s a problem, but it can definitely be fixed. Love YOURSELF and who you are and what you contribute to this earth. Fix your face to like what you see in the mirror and to like who you are deep inside – your opinions, your talents, your brain and your heart. It was never intended for us all to be the same…so why are you working so hard against nature?
  2. We can all see through what isn’t yours. No matter how sleuth you think you are at stealing ideas and identities – 9 times out of 10, you are fooling yourself. Authenticity doesn’t take nearly as much effort as does the tomfoolery of being a copycat. It shines on its own. And more than likely, you’ve got quite a few folks laughing at you behind your back about how foolish you look hating yourself, while in the meantime dope is selling itself.
  3. No matter how hard you try, you will never be someone else. A friend of yours starts an organization and on the sly, you find out everything about it so you can do the exact same thing. That girl you went to high school with is always wearing midriff shirts and you decide to go buy a whole bunch of them because she wears them. But the organization you tried to start doesn’t compare to the one you tried to copy, because you just aren’t passionate about it quite like the friend with the original idea. And you looked a hot mess in those shirts because deep down, they weren’t your style to begin with. Stop trying to force yourself into someone else’s lane and use that energy to make your own lane. This way, you never have to worry about failing because your only competition is yourself.

I’ve had many experience with copycats, as I’m sure you may have. I’ve been fed the ‘if you don’t have haters, you’re doing something wrong’ lines time and time again. Such realizations are true, but at the end of the day, they don’t make me feel better.

To the copycats – the sooner you feel better about yourselves, the sooner we’ll all feel better.

Black Hair Don’t Care

Black Hair Don’t Care

 blackhair

She better stop playin’ that natural hair game and put a damn relaxer in her head!

 You wear fake hair because you’re ashamed of your real hair and yourself.

 You know you need to look presentable for this. It’s important. So slick that afro back and straighten it or something.

 That girl is disgrace. She don’t know what the hell she wants. She got a wig on one minute and braids the next.

 Why in the world did you cut it?! You shoulda never cut your hair! Don’t cut it anymore!

 And she know damn well she need to take that color out her head. All them chemicals. Plus she too dark for that light color anyway.

 Natural ain’t for everybody boo. And it ain’t for you.

 

 

This tug of war – also known as the thoughts and opinions on black hair – is everywhere. And it’s getting really old and really tiring. Really quick.

  

Don’t Mess With My Mane

…and I won’t mess with yours. Naw, but really. My hair…is MY hair. I’m not walking around asking you to fix it, judge it, touch it, or give it a score on a scale from 1 to 10. Does my afro look too unkept? Great. You don’t like the fact that I wear extensions sometimes? Just dandy.

 I like to switch up my look and my hair is part of my look. But the best part of it all? This hair…is on my head. Not yours.

The Natural Hair Movement Should Not Be Divisive 

I am just LOVING the natural hair movement and the paradigm shift that has occurred as a result – that is, the fact that we as black women are embracing our hair the natural way it grows from our heads now more than ever. But just like colorism (or in short, the whole light skin/ dark skin thing), it has caused a great deal of division in the black community. Some naturals turn their noses up to what they deem to be the unconscious weave-wearers and identity-barren relaxer-users. Some who insist on extensions or relaxer look at the naturals as going “overboard” with the history and the hotep. Regardless of our hair preferences, we should be standing TOGETHER as women.

 Thou shall not let weave nor wash and go get in the wayeth of that.

Our Curls in a Man’s World

 Some men – whether they are our boyfriends, husbands, fathers, brothers, friends, etc. – have gotten the idea that our hair belongs to them. Men: if you want to change her hair, aren’t comfortable with what she does with it, or if you define her beauty and her worth by her tresses – grab a mirror and take a peek in it.

 You see that – you see your face? You are NOT her and you do not OWN her, or her hair.

 If you don’t like her natural curls, put some extensions in your hair. Or better yet, throw some relaxer on your low cut. Do whatever it takes to keep you from demeaning the women in your life and putting your insecurities and complexes on their scalps and their ends. Please.

Knowledge is (Our) Power

 The historiopolitical implications of our hair – from the use of hair texture to divide African slaves during colonial times, to the use of straighter hair to help one pass as white and gain access to the  privileges that came along with it, to the association of natural hair (namely afros) with the black power movement – are closely tied to knowledge of self. Some use this knowledge to educate and empower themselves and enlighten others. Other people will use this knowledge as leverage over our hair.  They will use ideas of identity to intimidate and using politics of hair to propagate undue pressure.

 Attempting to control black hair – be it by putting down a woman and pressuring her to change her hairstyle because you don’t like how her hair looks or what she does to it or looking at yourself as better than other women because of how you choose to style your mane and separating yourself accordingly – doesn’t get us any closer to liberation or a true love of self; a true love of tearing others down is what this tug of war has turned into.

The Real Deal 

 I think the root of this entire hair debacle is (drum roll)….insecurity. Maybe my hair is so thick, it makes everyone else in the room feel uncomfortable. Maybe you’re jealous because your hair can’t do all the things mine can. Or maybe, you just can’t stand the power, the creative agency or the liberation my hair offers me.

Or, simply put, maybe you have the problem…because I am proud of who I am. Because I am not here to meet your standards. Because my black hair don’t care.

Love YOU, Too

Source: Walltor.com

Every 107 seconds, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted.  A few years back in 2011, almost 24 million people needed therapy for drug abuse, but of those 24 million, only a fraction actually received treatment (11.2 percent to be exact). Approximately, every 12.9 minutes, a life is lost to suicide.

After hearing about more and more high profile black women  dealing with mental illness as of late (the suicides of Titi Branch of Jessie’s Curls, Simone Battle of X Factor and singing group G.R.L., blogger Caryn Washington of For Brown Girls and others)  I felt compelled to write this. In the black community, we as women are often ashamed of mental health – from addressing mental illnesses to being proactive and mentally checking in with ourselves and our loved ones to going to therapy – but the more we ignore our mental health the more and more we hurt and even kill ourselves.

I’m a tad bit familiar with this stuff, really because my mother and most of my immediate family works in the mental health field. I’m no expert, but from talking with my mom about her work, my interpretation of maintaining good mental health is as follows:

Find a Shoulder to Lean On

As women, we take on A LOT. As women, we are sisters, daughters, wives, mothers, entrepreneurs and everything else in-between. All of our “jobs” can be taxing, to say the least. It’s important to have someone you can confide in, someone you can lean on when it gets rough. We all know that we can go crazy in our own heads. You’ve been presented with a particularly difficult problem – you may want to run your ideal solution by some wise listening and CARING ears. You may have one of those “is it just me or is…” moments where comparing ideas with a trusted friend, family member or therapist even may help your own sanity. While you’re leaning on someone, try to be the shoulder for someone else. Be a listener and a soundboard for someone you care about and keep the love flowing.

Don’t be Sick with Secrets

My mom works with drug addicts and this is one of the main concepts encouraged in therapy. Addiction, especially, depends HEAVILY on secrets and lies to keep the addiction going. The same goes for many other things. Maybe everything doesn’t need to be told…but the secrets that hurt you need to get up out that head. If you’re crying over something you’ve kept from someone or stressing about secrets, you’re hurting your mental health. And although releasing a painful secret may seem like the scariest thing in the whole entire world, the refreshing feeling of that release once it’s told outweighs any and all anxiety about the secret itself. Trust me on this one and don’t be sick with secrets.

You are Not Alone

We all go through thangs. I mean thangs. No one is perfect and no one leads a perfect life. But as you can see from some of the stats above, a lot of people suffer from mental illness and other things that affect mental health. Don’t be ashamed if you are bi-polar, you’ve tried to commit suicide, you can’t put that bottle down or if you can’t deal with the past or the everyday stressors. Behind you, there are millions who share your confusion, your pain, your sadness…and most importantly, your strong desires of sound mental health.

Ladies, we love on many, but we tend to love on ourselves last amidst our hustle and bustle. We also fear the stigma of anything mental health-related. Since when has taking care of you been a crime? It isn’t, so stop punishing yourselves – check in with yourself mentally and encourage your sister to do the same, because if you always put yourself in last place, you will never ever win.

Sources:

RAINN.org

DrugAbuse.gov

AFSP.org

Let’s Talk: Colorism, Revisited

 

 

 

The elephant in the room. It’s the reason your cousin around the way wants a light-skinned man to have babies with. It’s when that man starts feeling insecure because the rest of his brothers are much darker than him and because of the scars of his daddy telling him he wasn’t his daddy. It’s when “black,” no matter how light or how dark it may be, is abused, discriminated against, left out to dry and devalued. Not by white folks, not by any other group, but our own. And this elephant, our elephant, ain’t leavin’ the room any time soon. But why?

 

Yes, colorism has been around for years and years and years. Yes, the institution of slavery is the culprit. Yes, media outlets and other means perpetuate this dogged –ism. These are well known facts and go without question. However,  no one seems to be able to answer this one: After so much awareness on colorism as of late, after years and years have passed since the dawn of the Willie Lynch age (slave owner mentality of dividing and treating slaves based on color, among other things, that colorism can be attributed to), why are black people still perpetuating this evil?

 

I know I’ve talked at length about colorism. Ya’ll may be thinking “the children’s book, the documentary, the CNN spot and your big mouth haven’t said enough?” A conversation with a friend of mine over lunch the other day has (for me) shed some light on the daunting question. And got my gears grinding even harder.

 

“I haven’t been working out as much as I planned to. I love the spring time. It just feels so good and its better for working out outside,” he said. Your average lunch time small talk, right? “It’s so so hot this summer you know, I’m not trying to be out there and get any darker,” he added. My heart dropped and my skin grew goose bumps all over. My body reacted as if he had some disease I didn’t want to catch and my mind went into overdrive. Next thing I knew, my lunch turned into an interview. “Why don’t you want to get darker?” I asked. He told me he likes his skin the way it is and doesn’t want to change it. Your skin gets darker in the sun…that’s you and that’s how your skin is. Mine gets darker in the sun too.

 

Then he turned the tables and started asking me questions. Which I didn’t mind at all. “When you see a black person and you look at them as attractive, what shade have they been most often?” Ha. As if people of all shades aren’t attractive. He went on to tell me how he has always associated light-skinned people with attractiveness and how a lot of brown-skin people can be attractive. “How often do you see a dark-skinned person and think ‘wow, they’re really attractive’?” He is my friend but boy oh boy, does he not know me that well! But this isn’t about me. Keep in mind that the friend I’m referring to is dark brown-skinned/ dark-skinned himself.

 

And then we started talking about features. He said “dark-skinned people have more pronounced features. You know, big lips, big noses. Like look at my nose. And you see all these people getting nose jobs. Changing their body. Because people don’t like those features. How many times did Michael Jackson get a nose job?” And later, we talked about exoticism. He told me that “light-skinned people are more likely to be exotic, to have more culture in them and you know people really like that. Again, keep in mind that he is not light-skinned nor does he have a small, European nose.

 

You know I was on my soapbox. I told him about self-love. I told him about the history of slave rape in the African-American bloodline we’ve been taught to value and a few other things. I told him that I go outside and go to the pool with the intent of getting dark and getting my summer glow. I told him how I have big ole thick lips that I love. I schooled him on colorism and how light-skinned people are also discriminated against because of it. And I also told him about my short-lived childhood hair complex – when I was 4 or 5 I walked around saying I wished my hair was “straight and long” and I showed my mom magazine pictures with white women with straight long hair, asking her to make my hair like that instead of its natural look and texture. But yet and still, he was not moved. His argument in the conversation was that colorism doesn’t exist, and that our color issues are really preferences that are being over-exaggerated.

 

My revelation from this conversation simply put: Many of us don’t like being black, and most of us that don’t like being black don’t even know it.

 

People are thinking What’s the remedy? Where’s the cure all? What class do we sign up for to treat this? Where do we buy the book that teaches us to love our black bodies, our skin (whether it be light, dark or in-between) and everything else we have to offer?

 

It’s not that easy. Black people need a COMPLETE overhaul. Our standards, our comparisons and our constructs of beauty need some reckoning with. It’s easy to sit back and critique society (I know, I do it a lot too), but what are we DOING to make it better?

 

Lena Horne said “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” Many of us don’t even know the extent of the load, and even more aren’t aware of the load, period. We gotta do something, ASAP, because too many of us are walking around loving to hate ourselves.