Browsing "Uncategorized"
Sep 27, 2020 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Halley’s Comet

When I was much younger, my friends and I played a specific prank on each other.  In the middle of a sentence, or apropos of nothing, someone would point to the sky and scream “Halley’s Comet!”  The goal was to distract everyone and see who would fall for it.  At some point, everyone fell for it, even though we all consciously understood that we should have known better.

And that, good people, is what this election feels like.

I’m going to reiterate that I’m non-partisan, which, these days, boils down to the fact that I have just as many problems with Democrats as I do Republicans.  Because as far as I’m concerned, both parties could use an overhaul and redirection.

That said, as responsible citizens, we have to understand that there are a LOT of diversionary tactics being employed to sway factions of voters who, again, in my opinion, should have their feet firmly rooted in their voting choices based on 3.8 years of evidence.

Let’s discuss Trump’s Platinum Plan for Black people, shall we?

But, before I go on, can we all agree that Trump has done absolutely nothing to help Black people during his Presidency?  If anything, he’s actively hurt Black people (and before you rebut this, ask yourself the following question: am I Black?  If the answer is yes, keep reading.  If the answer is no,  shut up and keep reading).  He’s actively disparaged the BLM movement as a hate group, has openly fought AGAINST inclusion and openly PRAISED the Apartheid system of government that oppressed Blacks in South Africa.  He is quoted to have said “nobody loves Black people more than me.”  Sir, with the evidence I’VE seen?  I’m pretty sure that EVERYBODY loves Black people more than you.

Now . . . back to the Platinum Plan, which is outlined below:

platinum plan BS

I’m not going to go point-by-point here, because, irrelevant, but . . . while some might think this is an interesting plan, does anyone find it uncanny that he would propose such a plan RIGHT before the election?  Further, is anyone even slightly curious as to why he didn’t lead with this at the beginning of his Presidency?  I mean, one would THINK that a person who looooooves Black people as much as he claims to would have used such a plan as more than a last ditch effort to gain the Black vote.

It’s his very own Halley’s Comet, as he throws an imaginary diversion into the sky with the knowledge that at least a certain percentage of people will turn to look, with the hope of being dazzled by what will probably amount to a forgotten program, if it’s not complete bullshit at its inception, and cast a vote for him in November while distracted.

If there is nothing else to take away from this piece, plesae know that Halley’s Comet won’t make another appearance until 2061.  Don’t fall for it.  He’s President of a few . . .  which doesn’t include YOU.

 

 

 

Aug 27, 2020 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

America and the trend of disappointment – 1st chapter

I’ve been meaning to blog for several days, now, and each day my reason for blogging changes . . .  and escalates.  I’ll need to do this in chapters, and start with what’s bugging me the most.  I don’t know how many chapters there will be.  I’m going to surprise myself.

Let’s start with the shooting of Jacob Blake.  It was deplorable, right?  And before anyone chimes in to call him an “alleged” shooter, please don’t.  We all saw it, which means that there are no allegations in this situation.  Only facts.  Jacob Blake was BRUTALLY SHOT BY RUSTEN SHESKEY SEVEN TIMES, and the shooter should be charged with attempted murder.  Get comfortable with the label, just as Black people have grown accustomed to police shootings. Just because.

Scrolling through my social media feeds earlier this afternoon, I saw a story about Brian Urlacher, the meathead hairplug-having football player (who has a Black son), who is standing up for the little murderous psychopath whose deranged mother drove him to the protest with an illegal weapon so that he could openly kill and shoot protesters in Kenosha.  Again, no allegations here.  ABSOLUTE FACTS.

There were comments, and an idiot chimed in with a “Blue Lives Matter” sentiment.  Okay . . . you know what?  Let’s get something straight.  Blue Lives Matter is NOT a thing. Okay?  It doesn’t exist.

I’m sorry . .  . what’s that, Karen?  You don’t get it?  Well . . . let me drill it into your head.

My birth certificate states that I was born a Black female child.  Even before I knew the difference between people or understood the depths of the gutter of inequality that existed between myself and others.  I had several talks by my parents starting when I was a tiny child and was made to understand that there were things I couldn’t do, and places I couldn’t go – especially nestled in the racist neighborhoods of Beverly and Mt. Greenwood on the south side of Chicago, where I attended private school with white students who paid the same tuition, but with more freedom and the privilege of peace.  I had to be twice as good to get half as much.

At the end of the day, I and my Blackness go to sleep together, wake up together, and take the good and the bad of life . . . together.  I couldn’t escape it if I wanted to. And for the record, I don’t want to, because I believe that being Black is an amazing way of life.  We’re colorful with creativity and complicated and storied histories.  Our ancestors have strength and fortitude and have passed along the concepts of humor, great food, and spices.  (Ah, blessed spices!)  We have beautiful skin that remains majestic against time and weather conditions.  Most clever things originate with us, and we have natural elements of beauty that other races pay dearly to replicate.  We are amazing.  If only we could get people to stop condemning us, murdering us, and loving everything about us . . . except us.

People like to combat Black Lives Matter by saying that Blue Lives Matter, which is nothing short of an insult.  See . . . people choose to be police officers.  Cops are made, not born.  They attend the police academy and earn their blue suits. They can also take those suits off at the end of the day or retire their uniforms should they so choose.  Sure, people should have pride in what they do for a living, but when off-duty police officers go to the grocery store, or out with friends, or anywhere,  they’re just people.  There’s no real culture around the blue, unless you count keeping mum while your corrupt co-workers steal, kill and serve themselves rather than society.

Police officers can matriculate stealthily in crowds without being detected.  And, guess what?  There are several bad police officers, just as there are bad doctors, lawyers, and nurses.  It’s a profession,  Karen and Chad.   And if you’ve taken it that seriously and turned it into a way of life, I would suggest re-examining your choices. Because, were I you, I wouldn’t align with the deep culture of corruption that resides in the police force.  And sure . . . there are a lot of good cops.  But, dirty cops?  They’re like malignant cancer cells that metastasize until they cripple the entire entity.   (And if you choose to continue in your profession as a police officer who actually protects and serves as outlined by the job description, do yourself and the rest of us a favor and stand up against your criminalistic cohorts.  They’re giving you a bad name.  But I digress . . . )

The bottom line here is that you cannot compare Black life to your profession, or your father’s profession, or your husband’s.  When you stand firm and say things like “blue lives matter” or “we back the blue,” what you’re really saying is that you stand behind even the very worst police officer  — the one who is an embarrassment to the police organization.  You’re saying that you condone the murders of the innocent and the mentally incapacitated.  You’re saying that you are perfectly fine with the actions of the cops who have raped young women in their custody.  You stand firm with people who are SO power-hungry and depraved that they operate on a platform of taking advantage of citizens, rather than upholding the law.

It’s fine, though, because I like to know who I’m dealing with.

Again, the unfollow button is somewhere . . .

 

Jul 11, 2020 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Clarity

Here we are again.  Hello!  Sick of me yet?  :-)

Today’s moment of clarity stems from a few comments that I’ve read on various social media posts.  Perhaps this will help.

“Why should I be punished for this?  I’ve never owned slaves!”

That’s awesome, because I’ve never been one.

Yes, people actually say this.

White people aren’t being punished for the sins of their fathers, but they have been taking advantage of the resulting privilege (see my earlier blog about white privilege).

Realistically, nobody’s asking white people to pay a debt, in the literal sense of the word.  The problem is that true equality has never existed, and black people don’t need you to write a check.  We just need the same chance at success, equal wages for the same jobs, the same treatment by people of authority, fair treatment by the justice system, the same investment in our neighborhoods, to not be told that we’re ugly, to not be held to your stereotypes, to have the same value on our lives as all other human beings, irrespective of our skin tones.  None of these things take anything away from white people.  There’s room for everyone, but the only white people who are upset about it are the ones who are interested in oppression.

“You don’t think it’s racist that black people have their own groups and Universities?  Why can’t there be groups just for white people??”

This is a favorite of mine.  Let’s go point by point.

So, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were created after the end of slavery, when black people were prohibited from attending mainstream (i.e. white) universities, and fortunately, black people were dedicated to education.   There are approximately 100 HBCUs in the US, and here’s a fun fact . . . educators who fled Nazi Germany in the 1920s and 1930s and sought asylum in the US were welcomed professors at HBCUs.  Fast forward to today, it might be surprising to learn that about 20% of HBCU enrollment is from non-black students, and some have white student enrollments of up to 12%.

That said, while HBCUs aren’t marketed to white people, black people don’t really care if they attend.  If you want to be there, we’re happy to have you.  Just ask Rachel Dolezal, Howard University graduate.  For the record, we invite you to reclaim her.  Please!?

Similar to HBCUs, exclusively black groups (civil rights organizations, frats, sororities, social groups, etc.) were formed because black people were prohibited from joining mainstream (i.e. white) groups.  Black people also have unique issues because, slavery. The NAACP was formed in the early 1900s as a civil rights organization that worked toward the advancement of “colored people.”  Again, we’re not discriminating against others, but if we didn’t form our own, we would have nothing.  We like to be places where we’re actually welcomed versus tolerated, so they’re comfortable for us.  Our groups are all about advancement and replacing the self-esteem that we lose while matriculating in mainstream society.

The reason that the aforementioned can’t be considered racist is that they were formed by minority groups, and we are not the oppressors.  They’re also very inclusive groups.  (Rachel Dolezal once again comes to mind.  Still waiting for white people to reclaim her)

Conversely, all of the exclusive, “rah-rah I’m white” groups that I know of have a nasty little habit of either plotting the demise of or trying to KILL black people. So, they have that going for them.

“I believe ALL lives matter, and everyone else should, too!  BLM is racist!” 

What’s wrong, boo boo?  Do you feel threatened?  Wouldn’t it be just terrible if your life were devalued?  Wouldn’t it be devastating if people could just feel free to discriminate against you, solely because you’re white, without consequences?  Do you believe that the admission of BLM is a symbol of “white fragility,” and to say that black lives matter not only reveals your true belief that black people do NOT deserve justice, but it also challenges everything you’ve been taught?

Whenever I hear people violently refusing to understand the BLM movement, I realize that they’re unclear on the concept and likely have trouble applying critical thinking.

In reality, all lives DO matter, but we’ve been shown that in your eyes, black lives are less important.  All of our lives, we’ve been taught that white lives reign supreme, and it’s tiring.  It’s coming to a head now because of our political climate, and the fact that we’re crumbling beneath a “leader” whose platform is built on a foundation of hate and fear.

Which is the perfect segue to “It’s a violation of my rights to wear a mask.”

This is the one that I really don’t understand.  So . . . to what do these people attribute the thousands of deaths?  As far as I’m concerned, there are a few underlying issues at play:

  1. If leadership isn’t wearing masks, why should I?  Let’s not underestimate the importance of consistent messages from the top. The reality is that we have poor leadership who can’t set the right tone and fosters stupidity by saying things like “the more tests we administer, the more positive results we’ll have.”  As if that makes any sense.  I’m not even going to discuss the bleach-drinking comment.
  2. You’re not the boss of me!  Essentially, they won’t wear masks because they are being told to do so.  Entitled people HATE being told what to do, evidenced by the volume of unhinged Karens, caught on video losing their shit about being asked to mask up.
  3. Coronavirus is a conspiracy theory.  Exactly who is executing the conspiracy?  The government?  I’m not sure they thought this through.  From what I understand, they see themselves as bonding together against authority.
  4. Coronavirus doesn’t really exist.  These people don’t think they know anyone who has really died of Covid-19.  The unfortunate part is that the non-believers usually don’t know anyone who has died of the coronavirus until they, themselves have it and it wipes out their entire family.  Some would call this Darwinism.  Others might call it thinning the herd.  I call it sad.

 

If anyone else has a good reason not to wear a mask, please leave it in the comments down below.  I am truly interested.

 

 

Jul 4, 2020 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Not monolithic, and why I don’t celebrate the 4th of July

Not sure where to begin on this one.

It’s July 4th, and I don’t normally celebrate the true meaning of this day, although I’m happy to have the days off.  As far as I’m concerned, this day — the day that the US declared independence from England — also marks the day that they needed a little help building the new country.  Guess where they got that help?  So, while the day is commemorated with fireworks, gatherings and good food, for black people, it’s tantamount to whooping it up to celebrate the inception of slavery.   And as I said, I’m happy for the days off, but I won’t be getting a cake with a flag on it anytime soon.

This is not a lesson taught in schools.

As a matter of fact, when we’re young and in elementary school (or grammar school, depending on your region), we learn about other countries.  Inevitably, the teacher will ask whose parents come from Italy, and we hear all about being Italian.  Whose family is from Greece?  Students might’ve raised their hands, and took a moment to tell us about their culture.  Lather, rinse, repeat for any number of countries.  In my class, I didn’t have the benefit of other black kids who could tell direct stories about Africa or the Caribbean, so the black American kids didn’t really have interesting stories to tell and since the assumption was that we were all descendants of slaves, the white kids – with their pride in their various ethnicities — were left to assume that we were all the same, which is the very wrong assumption.

I could prattle on ALL day about all of the different factions of black people, and how regions within the US impact our upbringing and viewpoints.  I’m of the personal opinion that much of the separation among black people can be taken back to slavery when Africans were captured from several countries — many of which spoke different languages and couldn’t communicate with one another — and lumped together, while slave masters prohibited communication in their native tongues, despite their refusal to teach them the English language.  The dissension began there and was furthered when slaves were separated by skin color, with favor given to the light-skinned slaves, (an issue that continues to divide us), who were typical products of rape by the slave master. Black women are portrayed as oversexualized to this day, due to the narrative that we were wanton seductresses who tempted slave owners. (blech!)

You see, it made sense for slave owners and white people, in general, to dissuade camaraderie and encourage ignorance among slaves, because it lessened the chance of slaves bonding together and rising up against them.  Perhaps the inception of white fragility.

Fast forward 400 years, and there are still clear separations.  While we share the presence of melanin, our viewpoints vary.  Just as Italians, Greeks, Lithuanians, etc., aren’t culturally aligned with one another, there’s not always alignment among us either.  I, personally, don’t align with Caribbean culture, nor will I fit in with traditional African cultures.  I have an east coast family, so I’m not really at home with black people from the deep south.  Within Chicago, I’m a south sider, and there’s a legendary rift between the south and west sides of the city.  Nothing wrong with those other factions, but it is what it is.

When we factor in the socio-economic differences, white people vary dramatically . . . and so do black people.  Early in my career, in my most hated job, I worked with a woman – Noreen (her real name, because I don’t care), who was racist (and an aging ho, but I digress).  We were walking down the street together one day, and there was a homeless black man who was probably drunk, and trying to talk to us.  Noreen asked me to “translate” because she didn’t “speak black.”   I was visibly and audibly unhappy about this, and she looked at me as though she would have no idea why I would be annoyed.  Some time later, I referred to “her people” who were from the trailer park, and when she looked equally annoyed with me, I winked at her — a gesture that was lost on her, but made me happy.

Also, just like white people, there is a distinct division between honest people and criminals.  I laugh when white people introduce black-on-black crime as a supposition that we don’t care about our own lives, which begs the question of why they should jump on board with Black Lives Matters.  It’s funny because it doesn’t make sense on multiple levels.  I think of it as, simply, crime, because I don’t align with criminals (irrespective of skin color), and I can’t explain why they do what they do, nor do I take responsibility for them.  People love to ask:  “WHAT is going on in the black community?  Why are there so many shootings?”  Hell, I don’t know.  It could be a gang war, or maybe it has to do with drugs, OR perhaps it has to do with the reduced income levels, which always results in an increase in crime.  I wish I had an answer.

Circling back, the bottom line here is that we were taught differences between white people, and they weren’t taught ours because nobody knows what to teach them, and they don’t want to be taught by us.  Because of my upbringing, I know a lot about various cultures – Italian, Jewish, etc.  But most of my childhood friends can’t reciprocate their knowledge of mine.  So many white people, when they think of us, believe we’re all the same.

At my second most hated job, which was only a few years ago,  I worked with a woman known as my Crazy Racist Coworker.  I would use her real name (because again, don’t care), but if you follow me on FB, you’ve read the stories, so in the interest of consistency I’ll refer to her here as CRC.  That said, CRC once told me, after I received accolades from a black partner in the firm, that “you black people all stick together.”  So, I said “Bitch, do you watch the news?”  CRC, with her po-dunk hicktown beginnings and eventual venture into the “big city” where she nestled comfortably into the most homogeneous neighborhood that she could find, made a LOT of groundless suppositions.  CRC, who has never taken the time to honestly get to know one person of color, assumed, again, that we’re all the same.

Not sure if a lot of white people realize this, so I’m going to spell it out really clearly.  We are all very different, and can’t be expected to provide one viewpoint on anything.  That’s why, when I’m asked to be the ambassador of black people for some of my melanin-challenged associates, I always qualify the answer with “well, I can’t speak for all black people,” because I cannot. You’re just going to have to truly get to know a wide range of us and round out your opinions.

But back to the point . . . black people have had a long history of not being able to trust members of alleged “authority,” and victimized by white people who wanted to hold us back, with the belief that we are “savages” as originally defined by white people during the times of slavery, which extends to modern day, as intimated in the media.  It’s all psychological warfare, really.

The tables have turned, because it’s now time for white people to have a seat and learn something from and about black people.  We live in a world that they don’t know, and we have experiences that are unrelatable and in many cases unfathomable to them, but necessary to understand.

All of that said, the ONE thing that all black people DO agree on is that there need to be laws in this country to protect us from the very people who are supposed to be in charge.  Y’know, the descendants of the delightful people who wrote the constitution — where it’s stated that we’re all created equal — and conveniently retreated to their plantations to whip slaves who weren’t considered to be people at all?  Again, I digress.

And here we are in 2020, marching for the right to simply stay alive.  But this time we’re educated, and we’re amazed that FINALLY, a meaningful number of white people understand that murders by police and generally brutal treatment of black people by a range of white people – from shit-kicking morons to self-righteous Karens to corporate assholes who implement institutional racism to the President of the United States – is complete bullshit and needs to cease.

Honestly?  I hate Trump, and I’m super embarrassed that we have a failed businessman and reality TV star as the leader of our nation.  (If you voted for him, congratulations!  Now we’re on Survivor.) BUT,  I can only be grateful that he’s so polarizing and awful, because it took someone like him — a man who role models violence, makes fun of the physically disadvantaged, grabs women by the pussy, should I really go on? -  to cast a bright light on our problems. If he exists only to move this movement forward, I guess I can forgive his parents for having him.  Also, the absolute best part about this whole thing is that a very disconnected group of people (by design) with similar physical traits can get on the same page about wanting to see reform.

Hoping for something different to celebrate in the coming years, and I wish everyone a happy day, however you choose to enjoy the great weather.  Oh, and put on a goddamned mask  :-)

 

 

 

Jun 23, 2020 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Straight out of the playbook . . .

I have to admit that I’m tired of writing about race relations, but I’ve promised myself that every single day that I encounter something new, I will consider it a teachable moment for anyone who might want to learn.  For those who are, indeed, interested in learning, my topic of the day is the implications of commonly used sayings and phrases that are straight out of the playbook.  Specifically, the racist playbook.

First, let me explain where I’m coming from.

Remember that old Bruce Willis film, The Sixth Sense, where the young Haley Joel Osment claims to see dead people?  He sees them everywhere, and they only see what they want to see without the realization that they’re actually dead.  At the end [spoiler alert], Malcolm Crow, the Bruce Willis character, discovers that he’s been dead all along, and it’s a very emotional scene.   We’ve all seen that, right?

So . . . I’ve observed striking similarities in some racists.  They’re the Malcolm Crow of racists, and they don’t think they’re racists, and in fact, they roam the earth with the full belief that they’re accepting of all variations of people . . . until something slips out and they play their hands.

No worries, though, because I’m here to help.  If you’ve ever said any item on the list below, you might be an unintentional covert racist.  For the record, I’ve heard or read each one of these in the past seven days.

  1. “I don’t see color.”  C’mon now . . . yes, you do.  And you absolutely should.  Seeing no color, as you claim, means that you also don’t see discrimination.  In order to be a true anti-racist — if that’s your goal — you need to see it all so that you can defend against it.  When people say that they don’t see color, I immediately take that to mean that they don’t care to be bothered with anything that comes along with being a person of color.  Which is . . .what?  That’s right.  Racist.
  2. “All Lives Matter.”  So . . . here’s the deal.  Black people think that white lives matter too.  But the problem is that the sentiment is often not returned, and ALL lives aren’t endangered. Saying All Lives Matter in the wake of so many blatant and unpunished infractions against Black people is like going to the funeral of a friend’s child, and announcing that All Children Matter.  Well, of course they do, but we’re mourning the loss of one specific child today.  Comparing your vibrant and healthy child to one that’s been tragically killed is horribly insensitive.  Don’t you agree?
  3. “If you don’t like it, you can always leave the country.”  And go where, idiot?  I’m American.  So, your suggestion is that I find another home, because I don’t enjoy receiving poor treatment in a country where I pay taxes?  How about you help figure out a way that every citizen of this country feels good about being a US passport holder?  If you merely enjoy basking in your own comfort without concerning yourself with the mistreatment of others, sorry, but that makes you a racist.  And an asshole.
  4. Referring to Black people as “Blacks” or “the Blacks.”  Trump didn’t create this speech pattern, although he is expert at it.   Saying things like “I never met Blacks before,” is a) kind of stupid, and b) removes the human element.  “I’ve never met a Black person” is not only more grammatically correct, but also FAR more respectful and humanizing.  Using an article in front of a group, e.g. “the Blacks,” “the gays,” etc., puts distance in between oneself and that group.  They are “other,” and typically anyone who refers to “the Blacks” isn’t doing so in a complimentary way.  Again, racist.
  5. “Why are we protesting the police when Black people are killing each other anyway?  Seems counterproductive.”  This was a direct quote from a woman who, after my response, now wishes that she had never positioned her fingers on the keyboard to type those words.  Suffice it to say that this one burns me, because what she’s really saying is “They’re just going to kill each other anyway, so the police might as well do it, too.”   Not only does that make zero sense, but it’s also incredibly rude and born of the erroneous belief that “we’re all the same.”  The Black-on-Black crime argument is a white supremacist distraction tactic that has a solid foundation of unintelligence and attempts to take the attention away from the real issues.  Let’s break it down in a way that might make sense.  While most crimes against Black people are committed by Black people, most crimes against white people are committed by . . . who?  That’s right! White people!  Criminals exist in every culture, and they’re going to prey on the closest victim.  But let’s not focus on the criminals, because I don’t care to consort with them either.  Let’s also not focus on Black-on-Black crime.  I vote to simply consider it just plain crime.  If we’re going to differentiate,  let’s focus on the subsets that are rarely brought to justice: White-on-Black crime and especially Blue-on-Black crime, perpetrated by the very people who have been hired to protect and to serve.  When police behavior is indiscernible from criminal behavior, we should ALL realize that there’s a faulty process in place.   #systemicracism
  6. “If they followed instructions, maybe they wouldn’t get killed.”  Where do I start?  Well . . . Breonna Taylor was sleeping in her own home.  Also, most of the people who have been shot and killed by police were either committing petty crimes that shouldn’t have warranted drawn guns, or doing absolutely nothing wrong.  George Floyd was suspected of passing a fake $20 bill, didn’t resist arrest, and was STILL killed when he should have merely been questioned.  Rayshard Brooks was drunk.  Have you ever known a drunk person who followed instructions? (That’s right . . . think back to last weekend)  Granted, he shouldn’t have been drunk driving, but according to MADD, each day 300,000 people drive drunk.  Imagine if they were all killed.  And why resist arrest?  So, have you SEEN what cops do to Black people who are under arrest?  WHO would sign up for that?  Especially a drunk person.  If you are the sober person in the situation, and a member of law enforcement, it is YOUR JOB to de-escalate the situation and make sure that EVERYONE is safe.  (I touched on this in the previous blog.  I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself, but apparently repetition is necessary in this case)
  7. “Blue Lives Matter.”  We don’t have anything to discuss.  At least nothing you want to hear.

 

Once again, I hope that helps.  Maybe one day I’ll get back to ranting about cooking utensils, crowded parties and people who insist on hugging without permission.  Until then, I’ll be getting on everyone’s nerves with these posts until we see true reform.  There’s an unsubscribe button here, somewhere . . .   #youvebeenwarned

Jun 19, 2020 - Rants, Uncategorized    2 Comments

Privilege and the pandemic

Twice in a month from me.  Don’t pass out.  There’s a lot to discuss.

As I posted on Facebook earlier this week, I’m not my typical snarky humorous self . . . because I’m not really in the mood.  I’ve been toiling over this blog for DAYS, which is unlike me, and I’m forcing myself to finish it today, on Juneteenth.

People are funny, in their suggestions and expectations.  Someone approached me recently, pointing out that my posts have been  heavy, and suggesting that I infuse  more “light-hearted energy.”  My knee-jerk reaction was to say something like “Bitch, I’m not Bozo.  Look at the world around you! You’re tired of hearing about racism?  Well, I don’t care, because I’m tired of experiencing it.”

I refrained, although I wish I hadn’t.

At a time when everyone should be bonding together against a common enemy (COVID-19), we’re dealing with a messy tangle of anger and unrest, which led me to think about privilege.

Privilege is a term that we throw around to the point where it’s lost its original meaning, or the meaning has become secondary to the term itself, if that makes sense.

To be clear, to have privilege – specifically white privilege, for purposes of this post – doesn’t mean that your life isn’t hard; it means that your skin color isn’t the source of your hardship.

Privilege means that you can spend a great deal of time focusing on your success, if you so choose, without having your productivity overshadowed by thoughts of how you’ll be perceived or that you will be underestimated before one word exits your mouth.  Or not even having to consider that the conversation would be different if you weren’t present among your otherwise homogeneous group of colleagues.

Privilege also means that the most uncouth, embarrassing ugly American (white) can travel freely to any country with the feeling that everyone there will be so happy to have him, as long as he’s spending the mighty US dollar.  In the meantime, a natural part of my vacation planning – before booking a flight — is research, and asking friends and Google whether or not my desired destination is safe for black people.

Privilege means that you don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about how simply going about the course of your day, and casually finding yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time could get you into a stupid racially-charged argument, at minimum, or potentially killed.

Privilege means going through life without the realization or recognition of the fact that racism is actually a white person’s problem.  White people created it, and it’s going to take white people to get rid of it — once they pay attention to it.

And, white privilege can be defined as the white person’s ability to look at the Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd murders, or even incidents with people like Amy Cooper — alias Central Park Karen, and the stupid woman who called the cops to report a man stenciling Black Lives Matter on his OWN HOUSE, without seeing him/herself in those situations.

Every single altercation and murder has been very personal to me.  I could have been Breonna Taylor,  shot dead in my home.  I could have been Sandra Bland. I could be any of the departed, murdered in the street by an egomaniacal cop (likely one whose previous documented use of excessive force has gone unpunished) who has decided that he should be judge, jury, and executioner for a crime that I didn’t commit — because he operates with the (societally-supported) assumption that my life does not matter.  I can imagine the desperation that each victim must have felt — that their lives were dependent on the whims of a psycho with a badge, and there’s not a damned thing that anyone can or will do about it.  Dying wasn’t on the agenda for the day, yet here they are.

Despite the “compliments” I’ve received from white people over the years (“you’re not black black, you’re white black” [WHAT?] or “you outclass yourself” [HUNH??]), at the end of the day (or at the beginning of the day), I’m just a random black person in the eyes of white strangers and most important, law enforcement, regardless of how much education I have, or what I happen to be doing.

But I believe in the Universe and cosmic connections and it’s no accident that this is 2020, the year of perfect vision and hindsight. It’s only fitting that we start to see this situation in a new light, create real change and perhaps begin the dismantling of an entire judicial system that’s been in place since we were regarded as 3/5 of a person.

And I’ll tell you what . . . I’m sick to DEATH of hearing the argument “if they follow instructions, they wouldn’t have been shot.”  So . . . WHY would anyone blindly follow the instructions of people they don’t trust and have NEVER been able to trust?  Also?  The majority of the people who have been shot and killed by police weren’t committing crimes.  So, their crime was maybe resisting arrest for resisting arrest?  You get that doesn’t make sense, right?

I’m also sick of the black-on-black crime argument because it’s used by racists as a distraction from the real issue.

Let’s not forget that the job of a police officer is to de-escalate a situation and apprehend a suspect.  The fifth amendment of the constitution tells us that no citizen shall be deprived of “life, liberty, or property without the due process of law.”  This means that Officer Asshole is not entitled to be judge, jury, and executioner for a person who’s crossing a street, selling loose cigarettes, going five miles over the speed limit, or any other petty crime that has been the catalyst for killing a black person in recent years.

You cannot stand for the flag while ignoring the constitution.

Now, before I completely digress, let’s get back to the pandemic, which has been pushed to the side since the George Floyd murder.  While everyone’s protesting unprotected, and returning to their lives of carefree gathering, hugging and handshaking, the Coronavirus infections and fatalities continue, and I’m sure we’ll be quarantined again within the next month.

So, throughout all of this, I guess I’m curious about how everyone is dealing with this.

If you take everything that’s going on, and layer on all of the other lifey-life shit (money, family, career, relationships), while removing the ability for joy, it’s truly a recipe for a mental breakdown. Without friends, gathering, movie theater nights, or social experiences to alleviate the general sadness, our spirits can become really dark.

I would like for us to remember that there’s only so much we can take, and encourage us all to take breaks when and wherever we’re able.  It’s going to get harder before it gets better.

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 31, 2015 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

Gratitude and Latitude

This is about the time of year where I look back on my life and accomplishments and start grousing about how I should be farther along, in a different position, etc.

Well, that’s really not working for me anymore.

There are definitely things that I wish were better, stronger, and more profitable, but I’m also making a point to practice gratitude more than usual because I have a lot to be thankful for.  It’s all about spin.

I have a newish corporate job, and although it has been a transition and there are many differences that I don’t care for, there are also opportunities for me to get involved, bring something to the table and make the organization a better place. There are people who are interested in my thoughts and contributions, which is something to be thankful for.

I’ve been working through a trademark issue with my own company, Naturals by Gina B., which has been annoying and debilitating.  But the flipside is that I do have my own company, and I continue to create what I consider to be great products. Time to forge ahead and make limoncello from the lemons that I’ve been handed.

I’m far from rich, but I’m not financially strained.  I could have more, but I do most of the things I want.  The Universe has been kind to me.

I’ve unfortunately lost a few friends this year.  Very sad, but I have many more remaining who greatly contribute to my life. I am rich in friendship and memories.

The end of 2015 finds me roughly 4 lbs heavier than normal, and about 16 lbs heavier than my ideal.  However, the 4 lbs recent gain means that I truly enjoyed myself on my amazing Winter vacation, and I’m confident that I will still fit into my NYE dress, and that I can drop the excess quickly.  At least I hope so.

If you know me, you’ll understand that I hold onto youth for as long as possible and enjoy defying my age. Although we all get older by the day, I’m happy to report that I maintain a youthful spirit and that I can still party with the best of them, and turn the head of the most important man in my life — as well as those of some men who are several years younger.  ;-)

Speaking of which, I have a great significant other who proves – daily – why he is truly the better half.

My father is reaching a very good age, and has more and more chronic ailments that are rather concerning, however, he is able to continue to do what he loves for a living.  He is the original youthful spirit that I emulate.  I’m grateful for each additional healthy day.

My house is not as clean as I would like going into the new year, but I guess that gives me something to do over the weekend?  (Honestly, no real silver lining to this one, but I’m going to let it slide.)

Finally, each day I get closer to figuring myself out.  One day soon.

I wish everyone a safe and exciting New Year’s celebration. Let’s give 2015 a great sendoff.  Be kind to yourself . . . be grateful.

More Life Rules

Inspiration comes from everywhere — sometimes the most surprising places.  Today’s inspiration comes from having spent time with one of my 16 year old cousins whom I haven’t seen since he was a tiny child.  He has grown up to be a really nice kid and incredibly handsome young man, and I hope that I can be in his life a little bit more – as much as he will allow or tolerate — and teach him anything I have to offer.  Even though some of my lessons are a bit off-kilter (and many have to do with cocktails), here’s the second installment of the tidbits of information that I feel are worth sharing with young people.  I’m continuing this list not because so many people were interested, but just because it’s fun.

I hope some of these inspire thought, at very minimum.

  1. There are reasons why you need to excel in school.  Elementary or grammar school prepares you for high school.  It’s important to do well in HS so that you can get admitted to the best Universities — not just for the programs they offer, but because of the network to which you’re exposed.  When you become an adult, you will want to have a good network of smart and successful people to leverage for connections to great jobs, business partnerships, or even just informed opinions.  Those relationships are developed in college and continue throughout your life. A reasonably smart person with a great network will go a lot further than a genius who operates in a vacuum.
  2. Take a genuine interest in getting to know the people in your life.  Make a concerted effort to know them — what makes them happy, their motivations, their goals and anything they’ve learned along the way.  Especially your parents, who are so focused on raising you that you might look up and realize that you don’t really know them at all.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  You will hate to have missed the opportunity.
  3. Get a good handle on the basics.  Know how to load a dishwasher, unload a dishwasher, do laundry, iron a shirt, remove a stain.  Life hacks will get you through.
  4. Understand that, by and large, people just want to be heard. It’s worthwhile to listen, even if you don’t take their advice. You might learn something that will change your course, or not. But you’ll never know if you don’t listen.
  5. Err on the side of formality until you’re invited to do otherwise.  This includes manners, the use of nicknames and business attire.
  6. If it’s introduced, it has to be addressed.  Your job is to keep things that you don’t want addressed from being introduced.  Sometimes it’s best to fly under the radar.
  7. Pick your mate for the right reasons.  It’s great that she has an incredible body, or that he has a nice car.  But look for personal traits — signs of integrity.  Watch how he/she treats the important people in his/her life.  Is this person determined and deliberate?  Goal-oriented?  Examine the family before making a true commitment.  And always remember that how you align is how you’re defined.
  8. Make a valiant effort.  Life is much more fun when you actively participate.  This rule is one that I learned the hard way.
  9. Have a signature dish that you  master and enjoy cooking.
  10. Find an older person in your life who cares about you, in whom you can confide.  This can be an aunt or uncle, a godparent, a cousin or an unrelated person who you connect with.
  11. Don’t be mad at your friends for being themselves.  They might not show their love for you in the way that you expect or hope.  Sometimes you have to adjust your expectations to accommodate what they have to offer.  If you try to change them, you will only frustrate yourself and alienate them.

 

That’s it for now!  I welcome all comments, questions are rebuttals!

bigsecret

The Power of No – My Favorite N-word

The best gift I’ve ever given myself is the right to refuse.  Egregiously.

Sometime in my twenties, after becoming angry at myself for being a people-pleaser and finding myself spending time getting roped into doing things that I really didn’t want to do,  I made the decision that if I were asked to do something, I would do it only if I thought I wouldn’t complain about it.  If I believed I would be mad at myself later, I would say no.  Just no.  No explanation needed. No would be good enough.

It was absolutely the most liberating decision I’ve ever made, and I’ve never looked back.

This decision was born of frustration.  If you’re a person who always says yes, you become the go-to person.  I was tired of being the go-to person, and I didn’t have the time or resources to be the go-to person.  People will drain you dry if you allow it.  So I decided to shake things up one day and say no.  It was great!  By not doing whatever it was that someone else wanted of me, I had free time to spend doing exactly what I wanted to do!  It was so addictive that the word ‘no’ became prominent in my daily vocabulary.   It was my private joke, and as addictive as any drug.

I was saying no to others, but I was saying yes to myself.

The pitfall is that the habit of saying no frequently can lead to isolation and refusal to try new things.  When I look back, some of my best stories are from times where I probably should have said no, and would have said no by my current standards.    I have enough tales of my stupidity (that’s what teenage years are for), so I was willing to take that chance.

I was afraid that people would sense my change in willingness to bend over backwards and get mad at me for my newly adopted philosophy.  But, as my mother always said: “if they’re not paying any bills in your house, they have no right to get mad at you for your choices.”   I stuck to my decisions, and a few surprising changes ensued.

First, once people got wind of my new attitude toward nay-saying, there were certain requests that I no longer received.  They already knew the answer.  ”Can I borrow money?”  No.  ”Can I drive your car?”  No.  ”Can you co-sign a loan for me because I have bad credit?”  Umm . . . HELL no!  ”Can you babysit?”  Have you met me?  No.  ”Can you help me move?”  Love ya, but no.  (As an aside, I’m SO happy that people have stopped asking me to help them to move.  I’m not the best candidate.  I’m strong but I care more about preserving my manicure.  Oh, and for the record?  NOBODY wants to help you move.  They might agree to help, but they’re bitching about it with every over-packed box they lift.  At this stage of my life, beer and pizza aren’t enticing enough to cajole me into spending 6 hours doing manual labor.   Besides, I hate beer.  You’re an adult.  Throw some money at that problem.  Hire professional movers and preserve your friendships and your furniture.  But I digress . . . ).

Granted, most of my friends have never made any of those requests, but you get the point.

I noticed that a few of the needier people in my life disappeared altogether, which was ultimately fine.  Once I developed the reputation as a person who would say no, many of the odd requests stopped.

Next I noticed that when I said yes I was more enthusiastic because whatever I had agreed to was a choice that I actively made.  I was sincerely excited, which improved the quality of my experiences.  When I agree to be there for someone, they know that I really want to be there.

Now let me be clear . . . I don’t say no to everything.  Most of my friends are delightful and not imposing.  After serious consideration I do occasionally say yes to things that I perceive to be uncomfortable or things that I’m willing to try.   I continue to love to do favors for my friends, although I avoid those that will put me in a position of compromise and ones that could ultimately ruin the friendship.

Being in a relationship means a great deal of give and take, and therefore saying yes to a lot of things that I’m not always happy about and wouldn’t normally agree to, but that’s an entirely different topic.

I’m sharing this because there are a lot of people out there who are similar to the pre-no-me, and it’s amazing how a two-letter word can significantly reduce your use of four-letter words (although a well-placed f-bomb can also be quite liberating).

If you try it, please comment and let me know how it’s working for you.

 

LovethepersonIvebecome

 

Jun 8, 2013 - Rants, Uncategorized    3 Comments

Why Being A Celebrity is Overrated

celebrityquote

 

I have a few famous friends. I don’t think of them that way for the most part, but I’m reminded of their fame from time to time, like when we’re in public and they’re recognized, or when I read news items about them.  It’s a little weird, to be honest.

Most people are envious of celebrities, and I used to be.  What’s not to love, right?  There’s the money, the fame, the fact that your art is being shared with the world, the notoriety. The list goes on.  However, there are a lot of byproducts that I wouldn’t love about being a celebrity:

1.  The scrutiny.  People are mean, and now that there’s so many avenues for people to express their opinions publicly, it’s hard to avoid the negative comments.  No matter how good you try to be, there are always going to be people who don’t like you . . . just because.  When I was writing for RedEye, a few of my columns weren’t reacted to favorably, and the negative comments flew.  When the Six Brown Chicks were on “Iyanla Fix My Life,” the message boards were hot.  Some of the comments were complimentary, while others were mean assessments of how we looked and who had the worst personality (I’m most often vilified for being one who didn’t cry.  Whatevs)  I didn’t like those tiny tastes of it, and I can’t imagine being a celebrity and having that potential bad press every day.  No thanks.

2.  The lack of privacy.  Just because people are good actors, singers, athletes, it doesn’t give everyone the right to delve into their private lives.  Yet everyone does. Celebrity prying seems to be a multi-million dollar business.

3.  Having to be “on” whenever in public.  Whether a celebrity is at the gas station, in the drug store, or having a family dinner, there is the expectation that this person should cheerfully accept questions and intrusions from weird fans who would like to interrupt them to take pictures.   This is where a celebrity with a personality like mine would fail miserably.  I have nice moments, and I have bitchy moments.  I’m in my own head most of the time, and I don’t think I’d react kindly to someone approaching me for a snapshot while I’m buying tampons — even if their comments are complimentary.  And then we’re back at point #1, where the (interloping) fan (who feels shunned) then writes things on blogs about how their encounter wasn’t positive, and that said celebrity is a bitch.

4.  The inability to make anonymous mistakes.  When you’re a regular person, your mistakes are your mistakes.  Your drunken misconduct, bad haircuts or poor relationship choices are not a matter of public record or concern (unless that drunken misconduct turns into a DUI, in which case it IS a matter of public record).  Your friends might remember, but the incidents won’t be forever logged in blogs or on a search engine.  Celebrity mistakes are blasted all over the tabloids.  Although I’m not a fan, I feel badly for poor Taylor Swift, whose teenage relationships are ruthlessly dissected.  People .  . . do you know WHY she makes bad choices?  Because she’s a frickin’ teenager, for Chrissakes! She’s not supposed to have long-lasting relationships at 19 — or 20, 21, 22 or 23.  She’s supposed to have meaningless flings and quasi-relationships with men that she’ll look back on and regret when she’s 30 — like the rest of us do!  So, I’d say she’s right on track.  The difference is that she can write hit songs about them.  Which is actually the only part of being a celebrity that might be enviable.

5.  The body image issue.  Most people fluctuate in and out of shape.  Personally, there are moments when I’m really good, and stretches where I succumb to the pizza cravings and look like the before shot in a lipo ad.  But, really?  The person who cares the most is me.  And I like it that way.  But to take a vacation on a remote island and have the stalkerazzi take a secret bathing suit shot when I’m in pizza shape and blast it all over People as one of the World’s Worst Bikini  Bodies?  Would be a harrowing experience, and one that I might never recover from.  Granted, I’m known to say that it’s a celebrity’s job to look good, but really?  They’re human beings.  Cut them some slack.

6.  The expectation that the celebrity life is perfect and stress free.  To quote the Notorious B.I.G., “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”   I think the celebrity life is highly stressful.  Let’s examine . . .  say a woman — we’ll call her Bella La Diva — has a breakout hit movie.  She’s on the cover of Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair — all of the reputable periodicals.  She can bask in the fame for a little while, but really?  The pressure is on.  She needs to be worrying about the next thing.  Can she sustain her fame or was she a one-hit-wonder?  Will the public continue to adore her?  Or will she be unable to get work for a while afterward?  Well  . . . if we run the numbers, she might in a bit of trouble.  The first contract is never the best, so she’s certain to have made WAY less money than everyone thinks she has.  With her first check, she probably made an ostentatious expenditure, like a Ferrari or a Cribs-worthy house.  She must pay her “people,” her taxes, and maintain a lifestyle commensurate with public expectation.  Her friends and family have outstretched hands, because she’s a celebrity who obviously has millions of dollars sitting around to fund her trifling cousin’s latest wacky scheme, or take her friends to over-the-top dinners and spas.  But what if she can’t afford that lifestyle?  What if her career flounders and she really needs a job — any job — but she can’t take just any job because people will then ask if she “used to be” Bella La Diva?  These are the things that pill addictions are born of.

7.  Being a child celebrity.  There are no good stories about child celebrities.  Period.

So there we go.  If anyone has anything to add or rebut, please do comment.  I’m not a celebrity, so I’m sure this blog will go without much scrutiny.  :-)

Rant over.  Thanks for reading!

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