Sorry or Sorry, Not Sorry?

In this week’s edition of the “What the Hell,” we have Mr. Tyrese Gibson and Gilbert Arenas.  (I actually had to google Mr. Arenas to see who he was).

I was minding my own business surfing through Instagram when I ran across  Mr. Arenas’ comments about dark skinned women and how many of them weren’t beautiful. He even went so far as to call out my girl, Lupita. And it wasn’t as if he was prodded, I mean dude just jumped on the ass end of someone’s post and would not let up.

And then, there is Tyrese, who is no stranger to derogatory comments about women who sleep with men too quickly instead of waiting years (I didn’t know there was a specific amount of wait time), and how they are the ones who actually end up with the good men in the end.  Like who, you, Tyrese?  Because good is relative.

To address the simply ironies, both of these men are poster children for stereotypes.  Tyrese was made famous for singing or as some might call it, ‘shuckin’ and jivin’ ’cause his drank was so tasty and for those too young to remember the reference to his commercial, he is most noted not even for the role he played in Baby Boy as the thieving, lying, baby making whore named Jody…and most recently, his car stealing in Fast and whatever number we are on…but I digress.

I’m maturing.  I know this because years ago, hell, even months ago, I would have been seething at these comments, but now, they just make me chuckle.  See, I get it now.  Me ranting about how much these men make me sick and talking about what some might see as “mother issues” is now beneath me.  Mr. Arenas and Mr. Gibson, you two don’t like dark-skinned women (yes, Tyrese, I remember the comment you made years ago about not doing black girls “a favor” by casting them in your videos). And Mr. Gibson, now we ladies need to worry about not being labeled sluts if we want to get a good man.  Noted.

I can respect your (possible) mother issues, your rejection as young men by dark-skinned women, the girl on the block who fucked everyone BUT you, your issues with your own skin color, or just the general ignorance you bear as it relates to your own race.  But do us all a favor and stop apologizing.  You see, these apologies for me feel like someone drew their fist back, and punched me right in the face only to come back a day later with a few ice cubes in a towel saying sorry.  Mr. Tyrese Gibson has set us up for his whack assed apology by telling us that “one was coming” and that he was basically prodded by his therapist whereas Mr. Arenas is still strolling through the malls basically mocking those people who know who he is AND read what he said.

I think I am like most people in the United States who does not like #45.  What I can respect about him, however, is his ability to have the balls to say what he means and not take it back.  If the three of these guys were my only options for marriage, I would definitely choose #45.  Why you ask?  Because at least with him, I would know that there would be very few surprises.  He is what my old boss would have called “a straight shooter.”

But since we are clearing the deck, being born light-skinned is not a talent, just like being born dark-skinned is not a curse. And if a woman wants to fill her vagina with a bunch of different penises, that’s her business and it does not make her a slut just as marrying a light-skinned woman who chose to hold out does not make her a good girl nor does it make you lighter.

So last night, I was up late flipping through channels when I landed on the Wendy Williams show.  (I’m not even going to get into why this show is still even on the air!)  She was at the segment of her show called “Hot Topics,” and one of the subjects was Chrisette Michelle.  The guest panel included a black male, two white females, and a Wendy.  The white women approached the subject very carefully saying things like, “It might not have been a smart career move,”  and “She should have represented her people.” (I shit you not, she said that) But the black man, oh, he just went all the way in.  Here’s some of what he said:  “Who is Chrisette Michelle anyway?  Can we name three of her songs?  I thought she just sang hooks…”  And then Melania Trump came up, and they spoke about her dress, and how pretty she was, and how she may or may not be in an abusive relationship.  They put the kitten gloves on for her.  I turned my tv off.

I don’t actually watch the news, but I do have Facebook.  And Facebook can be an excellent place to catch up on current events.  Since that dreaded inauguration, Chrisette Michelle has, by many black people’s standards, put herself on the same chopping block with the non-popular vote winning president, Donald Trump.  Facebook and Black Twitter have memed this poor child to death.  She is on the Breakfast Club’s show, (because apparently, she hasn’t gotten enough abuse) with Charlemagne the God with his Prince-Esque attire, while we create hashtags for #freemelania.  I’m really not sure if it is all in fun, but my fear is that it is not.  (Here’s where some of you get off the train)  My fear is that we are once again bullying the black woman but giving the white woman- because she has graduated to that level- a pass.  Melania gets to be the damsel while Chrisette gets to be the demon.  When people talk about Melania, it is with compassion when I don’t see the difference between her and Chrisette at all.

Chrisette is ours.  We all know a Chrissy, hell, some of us are Chrissy.  She/we met a man, he promised us karats ($750,000), and though our friends and family tried to warn us that he was no good, she/we were blindsided.  We followed our own path only to end up with zirconias, broken hearts, sleepless nights, tear-stained pillows, crabs, black eyes, bedbugs, other women riding in your car and holding your kids and $25, not even the $250k that Chrissy allegedly received.  Chrissy made a poor choice to many of us.  But I can’t, for the life of me, understand how we select who we choose to hate.  Well, I don’t hate her.  I look at her, and I see me, only my bad choices have not been on display for the world to see.  I’m going to continue to listen to my Chrisette Michelle albums because the child can sing and because many of you yelpers are still buying out R. Kelly concerts.  And as a word of caution, black folk, especially, be careful about jumping on the bandwagon to crucify your own when you would gladly make your back a wheel to roll some of these other women around.  Michelle Obama spoiled us.  We got to see her be lovely always, and yet I know she has her flaws as well.  The M.O. we know is exceptional by all standards, but these are not standards by which to compare everyone.

What I’ve learned from this ordeal is to use my judgment and when it is wrong, forgive myself, chop it up as a loss, and to save my pearls for Denzel, not Donald.

The Shit Show: Featuring Betsy DeVos

What did we do in our last life?  Were we the oppressors of Moses and his people?  Were we advocates of Hitler?  Did we murder little children?  Because this is how I feel right now.  That I have been made to suffer some insurmountable pain by having president-elect trump (all lower case letters) only to be slapped once again by the shit show that I endured last night watching “Messy Betsy” discuss nothing related to education at all.  Seriously?  We couldn’t get anyone else for this position?  Was Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Key and Peele, Morgan Freeman, or my guy, Lawrence Fishbourne not available?  At least these individuals have acted in education-based roles.  But no, we have this person.

I remember applying for a very well-known here in Chicago.  I had to teach a lesson, be interviewed twice, (both times by several people) produce my credentials which included National Board Certification, a degree in English and a degree in Fine Arts, 12 plus years as an educator, 10 years at the time in Chicago’s public school system, two years in a very prestigious school in Atlanta, department chair, IST team member, AVID elective teacher, ILT lead, and was told I did a phenomenal job during EVERY-SINGLE-INTERVIEW.  And I still didn’t get the job!

Apparently, I was overqualified regarding experience (which means more pay for CPS), and maybe I should have applied for Betsy’s role.  Though I doubt complexion and 5 digit salary would allow me to walk into former President Bush’s office and from a mere conversation, make me eligible for this position as Betsy did.

I’m just a tad bit nervous.  I’m nervous because despite the fact that Trump lost the popular vote, that he is still able to carry on with business as usual while pulling in people who have a very narrow margin of what integrity, democracy, and equality looks like.  I’m even more nervous that he has awakened monsters and encouraged groups of misogynists and racists to such high positions of power when their agendas are clearly not for the American people as a whole.  I am also very discomforted by him sprinkling around a handful of house negroes like #saltbae thinking that the African American community should take solace in this.

I have a feeling that folks are going to look back on the days of Obama and think of them as the days of milk and honey.  And though President Obama was not by far perfect, one of his most amazing qualities was his ability to understand the human plight.  Everything I have read in my Higher Education classes tells me that Betsy is the worst choice possible.  And for those of us who have stated that education could use a reform in light of the very misconstrued data on public education, just remember that all change does not mean growth, and all movement does not mean forward.

God help America…

“…when ure hero falls”

So this week, two things happened that shook the African-American community:  the first was Bishop Eddie Long passed and the second was Steve Harvey met with President-Elect Donald Trump.  People are losing it.  And I kinda understand.  One of my favorite poets, Tupac Shakur (for whom this post is named), wrote a poem called “When Ure Hero Falls.”  The poem is about the sadness of one whose idol has fallen from grace and the pangs that accompany it. At this age, (41 to be exact), I cannot relate.  Long gone are the days where I look to a human as someone who supersedes flaws.

Didn’t we learn our lesson with Bill Cosby?  I digress.

I never liked either man.  Now, let me be the first to say that in the case of Bishop Eddie Long, I believe that once a man dies, all of his debts are erased.  However, memories are not.  Eddie Long was probably a good man in some areas. However, that does not erase the fact that he was accused of molesting young men.  I don’t think that should be on his tombstone, but I also give a hard side-eye to the people who want society to only delete these accusations from their memory.  I call bullshit.  We can talk about the good he did in the community and also talk about the idea that if he did commit this heinous crime, that he is also guilty of scarring people.  This kind of abuse usually takes years of therapy to overcome.  And even with that will come the shame of having helped to “bring another black man down.”  Because as someone said oh so long ago, Black people have so few heroes that they cling for dear life to those who can barely even spell the word.  I am sorry he’s gone, and most importantly, I am heartbroken if those allegations are true.

Steve Harvey is another story altogether.  I do not even include the fact that my first impression of him was not good.  He struck me as someone whose ignorance (he’s not by far the funniest guy I’ve ever heard) along with being at the right place at the right time made him famous.  My disdain for him is strictly personal. In an article posted about him related to his divorce, his ex-wife alleged that he hired her lawyer, duped her out of her well-earned alimony, and got the children.  This-this is a man who we are disappointed in, but why?  Yes, he has done some wonderful things in the community with our young boys, donated some suits, but what made us place him in such high regard?  And if he weren’t held in such high esteem, his meeting with Donald Trump wouldn’t have hit so far below the belt.

We have to get better.  This black pedestal does not deserve everyone’s footsteps.  Some worthy names I could think of would be Dr. King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, DuSable, ya grandparents, etc.  And even they are not without their faults.  Instead, what we do is throw any old Steve, Eddie, and Bill on board when what they have actually promised us is nothing.  They have, at the most, temporarily distracted us from the really pressing issues within our own community.  We don’t need preachers to tell us what the Bible says, we can read that and interpret it for ourselves, really.  Nor do we need Steve Harvey to write a book telling us how to act.  Our parents, grandparents, and many of our neighbors have already given us those instructions if we dare to think of them as important.

We have to learn to be our own heroes.  Yes, I know that it is scary to believe in yourself, but how bad could it be?  Could you do any worse than any of these aforementioned people?  Yes, there are many people worthy of our admiration, but we must remember that they are just people.  And sometimes they can do some terrible things.

What I would advise us to do is to re-create our own villages and structures and stop siding with folk we only know by tv personas and a few poorly written books.

Forward.  Onward.  Upward.

 

Pecans

I am sitting on the bed ripping open a bag of pecans and all of a sudden, I am back in Edwards, Mississippi staying in Pollyville. I remember my grandparents. My grandma, Polly, is walking through the house with her handmade apron on. She makes these aprons out of old scraps of materials. The material is always there because when you have 11 kids, there is always someone growing out of something. She has on a skirt like she always does and socks (more than one pair) pulled up to her knees and a pair of my grandpa Dood’s old shoes. Funny, I don’t ever recall her wearing her own.

She is in the kitchen where there are a million pots and pans stacked on top of each other making her famous biscuits and maybe some deer meat (venison for you city folk) and though I have always hated gravy, the smell of those onions boiling down to transparency is enough to warm the coldest heart.

Grandaddy is sitting in his chair. I guess you could call it a ‘man chair’ because he was the only one who ever sat in it. He didn’t purchase it. It is either a gift from one of his kids, or it is something he got from the dump. We went to the dump a lot, and the things we got from other people’s trash was nothing less than amazing. He is ordering us around. We are carrying wood to keep the fire going. There is a stove right in front of the man chair that he keeps going with a big stick. It is the 1980’s, and we are probably the last family to have one of these. He can unlatch that thing, move wood around, and beat an unruly child with that stick. There is a skillet on that stove. No telling what is in the skillet but it doesn’t matter. It will be delicious, and he will give all of us a piece. We are his slaves, but we are too happy to know. He basks in this fact especially when he is in his garden, and we have worked all day for a quarter or less. Again, we don’t care. Sometimes if we are really good, he will give us coffee in bowls, and our parents will hate it because ‘Coffee makes your head hard.’ The coffee might be cold, but just because our parents don’t want us to drink it, it is the next best thing to soda that you can have.

Because it is the holidays, Aunt Lois will come down. She is the second coming of Christ. You don’t know anyone greater than she is. When Shakespeare wrote about a woman gliding, he was talking about Aunt Lois. You love her because she loves you so much. It doesn’t matter that once you get older, you realize that most of the gifts she brings come from a wholesale shop. You are happy to get the body powder that you can spray from a can. These simple gifts are revolutionary in Edwards. She brings you so many plastic necklaces that you could wear a different one every day for at least a month and not repeat. She gives you all coins in a bag. It is only $20 in a Ziploc bag, but in your head, you have just won the lottery.

Aunt Mandy sells candy and cookies, and with $20, you can knock on that trailer door until she gets tired of you ordering fifty cents worth of stuff at a time and swings the door open one good time and yells, “Dangit Fredia, I’m getting tired of you bothering me. I’m trying to finish my cakes.” And because you know that she means these words–and that if you leave her alone for a couple of hours that she will give you a little sample cake. You will nibble on by pinching little pieces in between your two fingers for fear of eating it all too quickly– you go and sit down. Maybe if it is not raining, you might just go from house to house ‘visiting’ because that’s what southern people do and these 13 acres belong to your grandaddy.

Polly has fried a piece of that deer meat, and your momma has made some candied yams. Aunt Mandy has finished the cakes and is sending each trailer their own one for Christmas as presents. Kids are walking around with plates of greens, cornbread, fried corn, biscuits, chicken, deer meat, cake, and old cups filled with sweet tea. The boys will play ball and you might get beaten up by the Drumgoole sisters but it will be okay because they will always promise not to do it again and you know that they are the closest things that you have to sisters because your sister is very small and she pees all the time, and she is getting too old to use as a doll. You will go to sleep thinking that you are the luckiest girl in the world for these three days. You don’t feel poor because there is so much food and the pecans grow on trees, and even if they didn’t, your grandaddy would never let you go hungry. He would go in his back yard and swing a chicken around by its neck until it was no more. And if there were no chicken, there would be a rabbit, and if there were not a rabbit, there would be a squirrel, and if there were no squirrel, there would be frozen catfish from the pond this past summer.

This is maybe 30 years ago. Before I got educated before I knew the woes of that land and way before I realized how poor (by society’s standards) we really were. All I knew is that pecans grew on trees, berries grew on bushes, meat was always plentiful, wearing your man’s shoes was normal, cooking was not a woman’s job-rather an act of passion, sisters sometimes beat you down, and that love could make you build your wife a house from the ground up and that Pollyville was more than a piece of land, it was a nation.

words

Sometimes words be like knives, we use them to stab at others
sometimes for protection,
and sometimes for pure malice

Sometimes words be like drive-bys
bullets ripping through the body with
no one particular intended…tearing up organs
or leaving scars.

Sometimes words be like hot coffee; soothing and awakening
other times, that coffee go down hard and hot, numbing the tongue and the chest

Sometimes words be like oil and lotion, rubbed on ashy legs
soothing to the skin, attracting dirt and grit and little pieces of life at the bottom of your feet

Sometimes words be like stomach acid breaking down and dissolving,
good for eating away the unnecessary and leaving the essentials

Sometimes words bring forth tears
tears hot and streaming smearing thoughts, evoking pain and memories…
disjointed.

If words had to be purchased, we would use them more carefully
we wouldn’t use our last
to say the unnecessary

but they cost nothing
except hurt
if you’re lucky, LOVE
if you are unlucky
a night’s sleep
if you are foolish and stubborn, a lifetime

How Rapists are Made

About yesterday.

So, I wasn’t going to say anything about two students on two separate occasions making references about my female genitalia yesterday. (The one student repeated comments about my “coochie” over and over) But in light of all of this BS about Nate Parker and his movie, I think I will. I think I shall call this post:

“How a rapist becomes”

I was minding my own business yesterday taking my many trips to the bathroom when one student stated-from behind me- “that I was working with a lot,” and as I got closer to the bathroom, I overheard a security guard talking about one of my babies from last year eating coochie. (if this word makes you uncomfortable, good, cause that’s how I felt). I gasped loudly, and then he turned around and said “Ms. X, don’t act like you ain’t never had yours eaten before” and me, Ms. X, le urban professor, was at a loss for words. My body began to feel as if it were going to burst into flames from rage. I asked, ‘what did you say?’ and to my chagrin, he repeated it. The women swarmed him and began yelling at him, but he would not back down. I found out what class he was in, pulled him out, and took him to a male in the building. I explained what happened, and the male said, “You’re not a bad kid as far as I can tell. Do you have a crush on her?!” (Sigh). I walked out saying if it happened again, that I would be filing a police report and pressing charges.

I then texted my male confidant and he said, “You’re gonna have to get used to that. Maybe you should wear looser pants and longer shirts. Men and boys are going to do that because you are beautiful. (gag).

I stopped. Because I began to understand what this was all about. I’m not dumb, but still, sometimes simple shit escapes me. Im almost 41. In this building, I have inherited the rep of being a bitch because I refuse to lie down and take bullshit, but sometimes, I get tired of fighting. So the males would have me to believe that if I get up and put on makeup and clean clothes, that I, in some way, have brought some form of harassment on myself? Fuck you. I grew up with the overly touchy cousins, the uncles who hugged all the girls and had them sit on their knees, the male family friends who ya mama told you not to take a ride from. All my life I have had to guard myself against vultures and simultaneously defend the black man. So here’s a simple truth. Black men are beautiful and wonderful and amazing. But some of Y’all ain’t shit. And that’s a hard truth. I must say to my black sons and grandson that I love you and do good by women, but I must also say that we have to be honest about everything. WE help to create rapists when we don’t stand up to the people who show no respect for women-when they say inappropriate things, make inappropriate gestures, listen to music that demeans women. I know at least 40 good men, but the two young boys have to be counted into the total number I know as well. And those two, unfortunately, can and will multiply if we continue to tell our girls that they must dress appropriately so that they will not be raped.

Women. Women came to my rescue yesterday as they have over and over in my life. But reading these posts about how petty women can be posted by other women have made me frown. Do you really believe that all, most, even some women set out to destroy these men? While destroying themselves in the process? Kill themselves because they needed to exact that much revenge?

I don’t know if Nate Parker raped that woman. I wasn’t there. Neither were you. And if one more so and so tells me that white men have been raping black women for years and making movies, I’m going to scream. Have we sunk so low that now our only comparison is to sex offenders? I won’t see Birth of a Nation. I won’t see R. Kelly in concert, I won’t listen to a Trump speech for as long as I live because he believes that grabbing pussy is ok and all I can think about is someone grabbing my daughter, sisters, cousins, students…

This is not a post to try and dissuade you from seeing anything. But I will say that we have to get ourselves together. Black folk, we got two fights: one is #blacklivesmatter, and the other is #womenmatter. I’m sure that we can find the strength to handle both.

forward. upward. onward.