UNHAND ME

‘Don’t touch me’: CNN panel goes off the rails when Kayleigh McEnanay accuses Charles Blow of ‘sinister motivations’

dont touch meDuring my freshman year in high school, there was a substitute teacher for one of my classes. She went off topic from the lesson plan and started discussing her university experiences. She told the class studies showed Black children don’t like to be touched. Yep, she actually said that as her eyes rested on me. She then walked over to me and put her hand on my shoulder while looking around at the other students so they could observe my actions. Of course I gave her the look of death and snatched away from her. She smiled knowingly as if her “let’s look at the modern Negro in her natural habitat” theories were proven but what her whiteness wouldn’t allow her to understand was my disinterest in her touching me had nothing to do with my blackness and everything to do with her anti-blackness, arrogance, attempt to humiliate me, and her disrespect.

UNCLE CHARLESI have seen a few videos and articles claiming Charles Blow “lost his mind” and behaved “terribly” when Kayleigh McEnany touched him while simultaneously insulting him during a panel discussion on CNN. The fact he is being described as the monster in this scenario is what is typical about whiteness and its persistence in attempting to force us to perform White-approved blackness. Blow’s demand for McEnany to stop touching him took her aback. I mean, here she is a blonde-haired White woman, so what Black man wouldn’t want her to touch him, right? He’s just a prop placed there to pet, not a person present to pontificate on the subject matter so how dare he decline her touch? In that moment, she heard nothing but her white indignation shouting over his demand she respectfully keep her hands to herself. I guess sometimes privilege is deafening.

Instead of respecting Blow’s words, this woman actually argued and tried to shame him for not being interested in her disrespect and dehumanizing slights. I watched and immediately knew what I was seeing – the attempts to dehumanize us then blame us for those attempts. She took him demanding respect and tried to turn it into him being Un-American, disagreeable, and difficult instead of taking it as an opportunity to consider her own misdeeds steeped in privilege. The unmitigated gall.

Today, I salute Charles Blow for his refusal to be treated like a pet. If nobody else feels you, Charles, I feel you. ©

 

WE ARE FAMILY?

‘They friends of yours?’: Trump asks black reporter to set up meeting with Black Caucus

As a child, whenever I was out with my grandmother and would see another kid around DEARWHITEPEOPLEmy age, she would ask, “Is he/she in your class at school?” Despite living in a city with countless schools, I think in her mind, all children knew each other and attended just one school. And so it is with #45. If you’re Black, you live in an inner city, whatever that means. If you’re Black, you automatically know every other Black person in the country and can therefore set up a meeting with your special Black Get Together app. I mean, you are all cousins, right?

Aside from the fact he didn’t answer her question in any way, aside from the fact he previously suggested stop and frisk type policies and the National Guard are valid suggestions for “fixing” impoverished predominately Black populated areas, and aside from the fact he assumed April Ryan’s question would be one he didn’t like because blackness, he continues to stereotype anyone who isn’t White as poor, living in squalor, and barely educated or employed.

Contrary to the message #45 wants to perpetuate, the fact I am a literate, employed, negrofrownscollege educated Black woman doesn’t make me an anomaly. I am not quite sure what an inner city is when he mentions them, though I certainly enjoy listening when Marvin Gaye sings about the blues one gets there. I live in a diverse neighborhood with a mix of folks from all different socioeconomic backgrounds, races, and ethnicities and I have never had the pleasure of meeting every other Black person in this country. But this is how folks vote when there is a disconnect from those who aren’t like them. We are losing “bigly”. ©

 

M’s-BODY-MEANT

While in the chair at my threading appointment, my esthetician mentioned that my skin hqdefaultwas dry, which is pretty rare for my face. As she was threading, dry skin was coming off with my hair. She then suggested a facial because I have some areas with blackheads. While listening to her, I realized something – I haven’t been treating myself well.

I always drink water, but I hadn’t been drinking enough, which is why my skin was dry. My lips have been chapped off and on for a few weeks and that is also because I wasn’t drinking enough water. I’ve been dozing off uncontrollably at work almost every day for the past month – because I hadn’t been taking my iron or my vitamin D. My purse gave up   the ghost two months ago, my sister emptied the contents into a really cute canvas bag then threw my purse into a dumpster and I didn’t bother to buy myself a new one. My hair hadn’t been colored in MONTHS, and I just kept looking in the mirror wondering why I wasn’t feeling myself while failing to pick up some color to address the situation. I’ve experienced weight gain over the past year, so my clothing situation is sparse, to say the least. I like to dress well, but I just kept covering up with plain clothes all the time and wearing my black Chucks with a frayed lace on the right shoe.

In that chair, I quietly cried because I realized I was punishing myself for the weight gain. I was depriving myself because weight gain had me thinking I didn’t deserve anything – not moisturized skin, not a decent purse, no the ability to stay awake at my desk, and not even some damn new laces or a new pair of Chucks. My esthetician thought it was the threading making my eyes water, but it was really me feeling ashamed for treating myself so poorly. How had I fallen so far without even noticing?

The next morning, I got up, drank plenty of water, took my iron pills, put on my good sweats (because baby steps), put on some makeup, did my hair, and took myself shopping. A purse was the first thing on the list. I followed that up with a couple pairs of casual shoes without lace issues, some tops, and a pair of jeans in my current size that 71p6NUSJpLL__SL1500_look good on all these curves – even the extra ones I recently accumulated. The day after that, I got up early and had a great workout before any Super Bowl snacks could interfere with my goals. I feel 1000% better, these lips aren’t chapped, and I can already see the difference in my skin.

I know trying to get and stay fit is hard AF sometimes and I know a setback can feel like the ultimate betrayal from one’s body. I also now know societal pressures, familial background, and the drive to achieve one’s own sense of perfection can lead to a period of self-punishment if one isn’t careful. Giving oneself grace is incredibly important during this time and so is remembering who one is while focusing on one’s strengths instead of all her weaknesses. plus-size-princessDespite the difficulties, I intend to keep plugging along with my self-care efforts and to be sure that care doesn’t stop at workouts but flows into every other aspect of ways to care for my body. I want to make my care count.

 

AND FOR THAT – I’M NOT SORRY

Chicago-Teens-Torture-Disabled-Man
Good morning. I just want you all to know though tragic and terrible, *I* am not sorry about the kidnapping and torture of a developmentally disabled White man at the hands of some idiot Black folks. I offer no apologies, I feel no shame, I am not compelled to explain anything to anyone, and I am not embarrassed as a supporter of the BLM movement or as a Black person.

I am tired of being grouped as one gigantic Black collective operating on one mind and one method of living. I am tired of people talking to me as if the actions of questionable Black folks are somehow my responsibility to explain, rationalize, or rebuke. We are not one humongous Negro and we don’t owe anyone shit in the way of justifications and details about others.

Some fools kidnapped a man and were cruel to him. It is awful, but I’m not apologizing for it any more than any of the White folks around me come to apologize for Dylann Roof, James Holmes, or Jared Lee Loughner.

Hate crime charges filed after ‘reprehensible’ video shows attack on mentally ill man in Chicago

THE WHOLE KIT(CHEN) AND CABOODLE

When I was growing up, my mother was always funny about how she wanted her house cleaned. Certain towels and t-shirts were deemed rags to be used for dusting while others were deemed unusable and tossed. She wanted the bathroom sinks and tub cleaned with Comet, not some newfangled cream based product. And I had to be sure I folded the towels the way she taught me because what self-respecting woman would have her towels folded in anything but geometrically sound rectangles? Though she had her preferences about the whole house, she was most particular about the kitchen. She made it a point to say to me ad nauseam, “You can’t just wash the dishes and think the kitchen is clean. Wipe down the stove, wipe down the counter, put the dishes away, clean out the microwave, sweep and mop this floor. IT’S ALL A PART OF THE KITCHEN.”cup-in-sink-03

That line always annoyed me. Granted, I knew I was being lazy for not addressing everything, but being called out as such still left me brooding or soundlessly mouthing snarky shit while my mother was out of the room. I mean, couldn’t she lighten up a little? Why did EVERYTHING need to be pristine? The dishes were washed, what more did she want? It wasn’t like I didn’t do any work at all. I did plenty – even if the floors weren’t clean, the microwave had old food stuck to its walls, and the floor was covered in black shoe prints. Clearly, moms was just trippin’.

I see the same attitude I had about the kitchen from Nate Parker and the folks who refuse to see the flaw in his indifference and attempted disengagement from his rape case and the suffering of his now deceased victim. When asked about his rape case, he stems annoyed, indifferent, and he’s quick to point out what he has accomplished since then. He had the trial, he was acquitted while his partner in crime was convicted. He went on to graduate from another college. He married and started a family. And now, Nate Parker has a blossoming career in acting and filmmaking. To him, he’s made all the necessary moves when really, he just washed the dishes but failed to wipe the counters and mop the floor.

No one can restore the life of Nate’s victim, but the least he can do is be remorseful. The least he can do is talk about the importance of consent, integrity, and honesty. The least 1453915282377_cachedhe can do is apologize for causing hurt, for being dismissive, for being dishonest, and for putting his dick and ego above the well-being of his victim. Instead of these things, he is angry because folks are pointing out the fact he washed the dishes, but his kitchen still ain’t clean.

Dirty kitchens are what keep me from being able to stomach The Cosby Show reruns, what has my musical selections free of R. Kelly songs, and ultimately, what will keep me out of the theater while others are watching The Birth Of A Nation. Holding up a few clean dishes while standing in the middle of a filthy floor does not imply a room is pristine and I can’t support anything that involves Nate Parker until he learns it’s all a part of the kitchen.

SHOW ME THE RECEIPTS

When I was a child, The People’s Court was a big and new thing. A mostly grumpy older white man, Judge Joseph Wapner preempted Judy, Mablean, Lynn, Mathis, et al. He was no-nonsense and before anything else was discussed, he wanted to know if there was a receipt for whatever was being refuted. From damaged hair weaves to unpaid rent, a receipt could change everything in the original People’s Court.

From watching the show and being raised by a mother who believed in keeping receipts for EVERYTHING, I grew up believing in the power of proof – whether it was proof of purchase or proof why a premise is problematic. So, feeling the way I do about receipts and walking around with at least ten or so in my wallet at any given time, I am staring and 14203141_517529551791528_2196566812361166770_nslow blinking at all I’ve been reading about Colin Kaepernick’s allegedly patriotic opposition.

Yes, I understand folks don’t have to agree with him. I mean, viva la difference, right? Yes, I know some folks feel personally connected to the Star Spangled Banner because patriotism, warm hearts, apple pie, baseball, mayonnaise, and what not. I mean, I genuinely believe America is one the best places to live – despite the racist oppression, human trafficking, tearing up of the middle-class, and that pesky way it was established on the literal blood and attempted genocide of the Indigenous People and the slave labor of Africans. I like that I can write this without fear of prison (mostly), though I might end up blocked from Facebook for 30 days if the racists get upset. I appreciate how Kaepernick can hit that football field, take a knee during the National Anthem, and be well within his rights to do so. What I don’t appreciate is the way we’ve dug into our wallets and pulled out receipts for the racist lyrics and history attached to The Star Spangled Banner and a paid invoice for the issues to which Kaepernick wants to draw attention only to be told, “Eff your proof of purchase.”

I don’t know about you, but if I return to the store to get my money back on a defective product for which I paid my hard-earned money, there will be furniture moving. If a store clerk looked at the defective item in my hand and the receipt that proved I paid for it expecting it to be whole and told me, “Screw you AND this defective crap you probably broke yourself because you’re Black,” suffice it to say, there would be a problem or two.

And so it is with Kaepernick, the issues he is protesting, and the Star Spangled Banner. Granted, he didn’t start this to draw attention to the song itself, but in all the ballyhoo surrounding those who are angry with him, the unequivocal evidence of the racist basis for that song has come out and there are still folks wondering why a Black guy wouldn’t want to stand hand over heart whilst singing along with the artist du jour. With the frequency with which reports of physical abuse and murder of unarmed Black folks increasing, the relevance of the receipts is being downplayed. The right of the unwilling consumer to be made whole by the retailer is repeatedly ignored. Judge Wapner would be so displeased.

Trayvon, We Love You

I’m not going to post an article. I’m not going to speak his name. I just know I woke up about 3:30 this morning and saw a tweet about the auctioning of a murder weapon used to kill a child the killer was stalking and words about being exonerated and not “cowering.”

I’m not going to go into the depths of my fury. I’m not going to expound on the rage that results from the increasing difficulties in my life because of this brown skin and the triggers that cause it to bubble to the top. I just know when I read that tweet, the kindness and decency instilled in me via my upbringing dissipated – broken down by the status quo of my Blackness.

I’m not going to pontificate on the far reach of racism. I’m not going to talk about the tears I’ve cried because my people are being used for life’s target practice. I just know I’ve BEEN tired, I know others like me suffer the same fatigue, and my full expectation is for all of us to be unyielding in our actions.

I’m not going to talk about praying for peace and understanding in this matter. I’m not going to acquiesce and say all the words we’ve been taught to say about forgiveness and healing. I just know there must be action and that action is about three years past due. What is the hold up?

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT REPORTING FOR DUTY

BEAT ONECorporal Punishment Reporting For Duty

As a child and well into adulthood, most folks I know have swapped stories about epic beatdowns they caught at the hands of a parent, grandparent, or guardian of some sort. Picking switches, catching hands if the switch wasn’t big or strong enough, watching one’s parent pull an extension cord from the tool drawer in the kitchen, and receiving a blow for each syllable the parent spoke and wondering how they suddenly became so unusually wordy in the process. Many of us know the drill and many of us look back at these incidents and laugh. We chuckle at the time we tried to run from the whoopin’, only to get it worse than we would’ve had we been still. We belly laugh while reflecting on the time we attempted, successfully or unsuccessfully to grab the whoopin’ tool of choice mid-spank only to heighten the intensity of the torture. Often, one ends an epic ass beatin’ tale with some sort of wistful statement like, “What was I thinking?” or “If only I’d listened, I wouldn’t have gotten whooped.” Even parents get into the spanking discussion bragging about how many marks they left, their ability to dish out the correction sans marks, how many times the child danced in a circle trying to escape the belt, and how he/she never tried such a thing again. I’ve certainly told and heard my share of spanking stories and I had the accompanying robust chuckle to go with it, but the older I get, the more I wonder if any of it is actually funny.

If I Don’t Hit You, The Police Will

Like many, I was raised in a traditional Christian church.  “Spare the rod, spoil the child” was the general sentiment of parents and all of them felt justified in hitting their children if it meant keeping them in line. After all, “It’s better I beat them than for the police to do it” right? Though I think I understand what folks who believe this mean, I have to say it isn’t really logical, especially when considering the many folks who have been verbally and/or physically harassed, falsely accused and/or arrested, sexually assaulted, and beaten and/or killed by the police were from homes in which parents doled out beatdowns like morning Flintstone vitamins. Black reality has repeatedly shown us good manners, impeccable fashion sense, perfect diction, and even good posture cannot save Black folks from the police. I would venture to say childhood spankings don’t do it either.

It’s The Only Way To Teach You RespectBEAT 2

Sometimes, I hear parents say they hit their children because they need them to develop a healthy fear of their authority figures. I understand. The belief is if the children are afraid, they will comply to avoid physical consequences and on the surface, it makes sense. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is generally about parents mistaking fear for respect. Many slaves obeyed their masters. They were quiet whilst uttering an occasional “nossuh/yassuh” as they bowed and scraped while careful not to make eye contact. But none of that was respect. It was fear – the emotion that breeds contempt, resentment, hatred, distrust, and destroys the will to think of ways to be and live better. If getting one’s child in line is only achieved by frightening the spirit out of that child and giving birth to contempt, I feel it’s safe to say it is time to look for alternatives.

I know the common thought about how there are so many white serial killers, white collar thieves, trust fund miscreants, and even little baby whites throwing retail store tantrums while screaming at their parents because they all got time outs instead of whoopins, but is that really what it is? My mother wasn’t one for a lot of corporal punishment, but in my upbringing, what affected me most was her being disappointed or disgusted with me, not her using a belt to try to get me in line. It was my desire to make her proud of me that kept me well behaved, not the threat of the belt, which only made me afraid.

I Hit You Because I Love You

I think I would have a difficult time telling my hypothetical child to steer clear of romantic partners who put their hands on her while she’s stands listening to me still aching from the last time I beat her. I think I’d have an even harder time telling her I spank her because I love her but a man who hits her doesn’t love her at all. It’s a powerful mixed message I wouldn’t want to send. I have witnessed children flinch from fear whenever their parents call their names or do something simple like reach out to fix the child’s collar or zip up his/her coat. Once, after putting hands on my friend, her mother came downstairs and lamented to me about how tired she was from spanking her daughter because “It just takes so much out of you.” She sighed deeply, smiled to herself, then treated herself to some lemonade and a talk show. I just sat there silently because I was too afraid to go up those stairs to check on my friend. I needed to save my own hide.
BEAT 4
We Have To Do Better

Ever since the movement to stop child abuse by informing children they could call the police if they are the victims of abuse, parents everywhere, mostly Black folks, have made numerous jokes about breaking a child’s fingers for trying to dial 9-1-1 or about taking them down before they can even get to a phone. Others have complained about police beating and killing children but not being able to hit their children themselves. Something is wrong when folks start to lament their inability to cause bodily harm to their children. People are literally fighting for the right to hit their children and they don’t seem to understand the abusive nature of their complaints. My mother always told me I am obligated to do better once I know better and I subscribe to those words daily. It all leaves me wondering if we are really helping our children by beating them or if we are damaging their trust in us and causing them to fear and resent us instead of respecting us. Maybe that rod isn’t the belt or switch we always thought it was. ©

 

I CAN’T TALK RIGHT NOW

tamir-rice-e1433821904368I cannot write about Tamir Rice today. I can’t post pictures of him on my Facebook page or write words about how sorry I am he’s gone, how I hate the lawlessness of law enforcement and the bigotry behind the preconceived notions that led to his death, or how folks wrote, screamed, protested, prayed, petitioned, wept, and donated all in the interest of seeing his murderers on trial – to no avail. I cannot write or post about those things because all that talking simply makes me feel inadequate and I think I – all of us really – owe him so much more than that.

Black folks have mostly been protesting on the peaceful end of the spectrum. We make signs, march, write poems, create memes, call congress people, light candles, fuss on news shows, and talk about our right to equal treatment under the law, but in the end, we are repeatedly reminded who we are in this society and how little, if anything, our lives are worth to those who’ve spent hundreds of years employing various tactics to oppress us. In all this, I keep wondering when we will turn the tables such that when I speak of Tamir, I am speaking of a rarity instead of regularity. I wonder when we will stop asking nicely for what is owed us as human beings and start acting on the very entitlement we frequently have to rally against when it’s being used to deter us from receiving what we’re owed. I wonder when we will start to manipulate circumstances to work in our favor the way those circumstances have been manipulated and used against us to keep us incarcerated, impoverished, and impotent.

I cannot talk about Tamir right now because I feel like a debtor avoiding a bill collector’s calls. I can’t bring myself to speak on him until I have something to say TO him. Right now, I don’t even have a small payment on the bill. I need to be able to tell him we fought for the trial and incarceration of his killers and won. I need to tell him those men will never work in law enforcement again, never kill another child, never make another dime, and never again feel comfortable in their bigoted thinking because the guilt of murdering a child keeps them from sleeping, eating, working, or earning an income. I want to be able to tell him we fixed it and because we haven’t, I cannot write about him.

I cannot cry for Tamir right now because I’m too angry, too hurt, and too disappointed in the way we tried to do everything the “right way” according to the laws of his murderers, yet still were unable to get so much as a glimpse of the justice his loved ones deserve. I do not want to speak on Tamir until Black folks with active social consciousness realize sometimes, we have to put down the boycott signs and pick up a pitchfork instead.

I really want to talk, write, and cry about Tamir in the worst way, but I don’t think I can until we fully understand we can’t always politely ask for what is innately ours as citizens of this place. We have to know the “justice” system will fail us the majority of the time because it wasn’t created with us in mind. There will be times we have to take what belongs to us because pleasantly requesting it isn’t always the most effective course of action. We have to be prepared to change our course – something which admittedly, is much easier said than done. But until this starts to happen, I won’t be able to talk, write, or cry about him without feeling like I failed him. He deserves better than that. ©