Black Girls Be Thinking About Maya

Maya Angelou left her body behind 12 days ago. I am usually not affected by celebrity passings but I realize that I deal with death the same way I deal with most emotions; I put it away until it falls off the shelf and knocks me in the head. Well Maya just knocked me in the head.

I was reading this quote,

I’m grateful for being here, for being able to think, for being able to see, for being able to taste, for appreciating love – for knowing that it exists in a world so rife with vulgarity, with brutality and violence, and yet love exists. I’m grateful to know that it exists.

and I could almost feel her whispering in my ear. I was reminded of the memes that I saw that featured Phenomenal Woman, “thots” and Kermit the Frog; quotes that made me sadder than I understood. I blamed it on my cycle, but now I understand.

My junior year of college, Dr. Angelou gave the convocation speech. Out she came, a little ol grey-haired lady with glasses and an assistant to help her on. Was this the same woman whose poems we recite with a hip check and a snap and words we wear like a shield? She looked like someone’s grandma bringing them cookies from the house. But when she spoke there was no denying. She said something to the effect of,

“When your back’s against the wall your pride will fall like a hooker(prostitute’s) drawers.

There were gasps, snickers and full out laughter. I was a bit aghast myself. Mama Maya No! Not a prostitute’s drawers! I didn’t understand then but I think I understand now.

Enough people have highlighted the hypocrisy of these statements in comparison to Dr. Angelou’s experience as a sex worker. The part that hurts is that we have abandoned our grandmothers, our great aunts, our woman elders and made them relics in the corner, good only for recipes and warm hugs. We refuse to accept that they were once young women with full breasts and full beds. No, Granny was born, met Grandpa, had kids, cooked meatloaf and now she’s old. The End. We have completely erased their womanhood thus rendering them sexless, voiceless and powerless. That’s what caused the discomfort of my fellow audience members when Maya dared to let the words “prostitute’s drawers” fall gracefully from her lips. Because in that action she said “And Aint I A Woman?”

Imagine the lessons we could learn if we listened to older women. And imagine the cycles that could be broken if older women were not shamed into silence. I need the mothers to tell me about the men they loved, the loves they lost and the lives they’ve lived. I dont want to reinvent the wheel every generation. I want to sit around the the table, turn down the radio and giggle and wipe tears and be schooled. Pass down some life saving knowledge with that biscuit recipe; we wont get it right the first time but we’ll learn.

*Thank you Mama Angelou for reminding us that our stories matter, even if no one wants them or understands them but us. Thank you for living, breathing and telling your truth. We needed you.*

 

Black Girls be Coming Out

Happy New Year! I know it’s the 17th but I will be the obnoxious one to say Happy New Year til March. Me Nah Care! And what better way to start the new year than to come out!? No I am not talking about my sexuality even though I have some sinfully scrumptious home girls (Lana, Rell I’m lookin at ya’ll :-)). No I am talking about the blogger’s closest.

Today, January 17th, I came out to my friends and family as a blogger.  I was gonna do it at some point but being dubbed a “Fierce Female Blogger” by LC who runs Colored Girl Confidential pushed me to it (You can read the post here.) So I shared the post on Facebook so my FB folks could see and I posted this status:

I have a blog. Most of you dont know about it because I write about things that I may or may not want you to know about. But its 2013, I’m 23 years old and I write my truth. I refuse to apologize for my truth. So enjoy at your own risk 🙂 blackgirlblue.wordpress.com

And then I got scared. Remembering why I chose to blog in secret to begin with. Not wanting to hold my tongue or consider my audience. Wanting to be free to express myself without tarnishing my good girl image. Thinking back on all the posts I wrote about my crushes, my politics, celibacy and sex. Oh shoot, SEX! So I wrote this:

P.S. Mom and Dad this post does not pertain to you. You two are barred from my blog. No really. Im serious.

But they are really not the worst of my fears. I thought of my ex. The one that I am trying to be friends with. And the posts, some rather recent, that I know, if he reads them, he will know are about him.

But I have told no lies here.  And even if that truth was only truth for a moment, it was real to me when I sat down at the computer.  And I refuse to apologize or feel guilty for that.

So to all the new subscribers, readers, visitors… HEY!!! I hope you enjoy yourself but Im not sorry if you dont. Because this is my little safe place on the internet.  So sit back, relax and join me on my journey. Or dont. Its all love either way.

Oh yeah, and one more thing, if you have any issue, complaint or comment please feel free to take it up with me. I’m a big girl. I cant handle it.

~The Management

 

Black Girls be Articulating their Pain

Today I tweeted, “Someone I love is turning into someone I dont like and its breaking my heart.”  I didnt say anything else about it, just left it at that. But there is so much more to it.

There is a man that I love. Would lay my life down for without a second thought.  I’ve watched him grow and turn into this man that has so much promise and I would do anything to help him prosper.  And he is breaking my heart. And he doesnt even know it.  Because he hates himself and if he hates himself than it must mean that he hates me because he and me are one. Because he’s my brother.

I dont know when it happened or what caused it.  All I know is that somewhere along the way someone told him or he convinced himself that Black is not beautiful and the closer to whiteness the better.  He’s dating a lovely white girl and Im glad he’s found someone to love and that loves him in return is awesome but that doesnt replace his love for his own Black self.

I think what hurts me the most is all the unsaid things.  He only compliments white women on their looks, their hair.  He only calls little White children cute.  If we go somewhere and there are a lot of white people there, he immediately assumes it is nice and acts appropriately.  We waited for him to put the tree topper on the tree and he even complained that there wasnt a White angel!  So if White is right and beautiful doesnt that make this lil Black girl ugly and wrong?

I dont know what to do about it but it concerns me because even if he has children with a woman that is clear as glass, his children will still be Black and they will be treated as such.  I dont want him to propel his hate unto others.  Nor will I allow him to make me feel less than, no matter who he is.

Maybe its a stage and he will grow out of it. I really hope he matures and sees the error of his ways and finds that love that he so desperately needs. Until then I have to find a way to marry my disgust and my devotion, my love and my loathing.

 

Black Girls Be Attending Cultural Stuff: DanceAfrica 2012

Just got home from Dance Africa with my bestest friend. (No really we have been friends for 20 years in September and Im not even 25 yet) And because my lovely mother washed my phone in the washing machine the other day I have been phoneless or I would have taken photos to share with yall.

SIDE NOTE:

Being phoneless in a society where we are addicted to the illusion of connectivity and communication shows you just how much of an illusion it really is. Because no matter how many followers I have or “friends” on Twitter this weekend I was alone.  I only spoke to my mother, father, 1 of my brothers, my grandmother and three friends.  Being phoneless shows you who really cares about your life and who just wants to know about your life.  There is a difference.  I have enjoyed the peace and quiet without that ever gnawing feeling that if I dont check my phone I may miss something. Life is happening all around me. I dont want to miss that.

Ok Im back.  So we went to Dance Africa at the Brooklyn Academy of Music otherwise known as BAM.  Its their 150th year of operation and they have this really great marketing campaign “BAM and then it hits you” Here is one of my favorites:

Image

Im a sucker for dance photos.  But yeah we went and there was a street bazaar around BAM with people selling all of the normal ethnic wares; jewelry, t-shirts, art, body lotions and oils and food. Oh the food!!!  I ended up buying a conch shell ring, a wrap skirt, 3 pairs of earrings and a picture.  Then we went to the dance performance which was in BAM’s big beautiful theatre and it was absolutely amazing.  I love to watch young people do African dance.  Some of those girls were as young as 7 or 8 and all I could think about is in about 15 years that will be my son or daughter.  My ancestors survived the Middle Passage, slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, The 60’s AND Reagan but along the way our native identity was lost.  But when the drumming starts there is something inside me that wakes up like recognizing an old friend. Hey, I know you! So its awesome to watch and be a part of.  Furthermore (comma) they was gettin it!!! Do you hear me!!?!! I mean feet, legs, arms, hair, heads just movin.  It took everything in me to stay in my seat! Powerful.  But the thing that I love most about these types of events is seeing my people and feeling a great sense of community. No fighting, no strife… just good looking men and women out enjoying the weather and each other and life.  Just enjoying life.

I also enjoyed a beef patty and a small fruit salad. Did you think I was gonna pass all that good smelling food and not get nothing?!? Pssht!! You must not know me very well.

Black Girls Be Thinkin: How Trayvon turned me into a Womanist

Its been 78 days since Trayvon Martin lost his life had his life stolen and somewhere in that 78 days I went from being a feminist to a womanist. Im not exactly sure when it happened but somewhere between the outrage, the fear, the questioning and the pontificating, it happened. No. Maybe it was the conversations at work, with family or friends that did it. Nope. I dont think that was it either.  I think it was walking behind my 13 year old brother in his hoodie knowing that some fearful and deranged racist could see him as a menace that did it.  And falling head over heels in love with my then manfriend’s 3 year old son didnt help at all.  Not even a little bit.

Yoko Ono once said that “Woman is the nigger of the world.” To which Pearl Cleage asked, “So what does that make the Black woman?… Double Nigger… Nigger-nigger” This dichtomy, or lack thereof is what informed the creation of womanism.  Alice Walker defined Womanist as:

1. From womanish.  (Opp. of “girlish,” i.e. frivolous, irresponsible, not serious.)  A black feminist or feminist of color.  From the black folk expression of mothers to female children, “you acting womanish,” i.e., like a woman.  Usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior.  Wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered “good” for one.  Interested in grown up doings.  Acting grown up.  Being grown up.  Interchangeable with another black folk expression: “You trying to be grown.”  Responsible.  In charge. Serious.
2. Also: A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually.  Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength.  Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or nonsexually.  Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female.  Not a separatist, except periodically, for health.  Traditionally a universalist, as in: “Mama, why are we brown, pink, and yellow, and our cousins are white, beige and black?” Ans. “Well, you know the colored race is just like a flower garden, with every color flower represented.”  Traditionally capable, as in: “Mama, I’m walking to Canada and I’m taking you and a bunch of other slaves with me.” Reply: “It wouldn’t be the first time.”
3. Loves music.  Loves dance.  Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness.  Loves struggle. Loves the Folk.  Loves herself. Regardless.
4. Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.

That is such a beautiful and comprehensive definition to me.  And the more I thought about Trayvon, the more womanism made sense to me.  Feminism caters to white middle and upper class women whose only oppression is that of their sex.  But what about those of us who could compete in multiple events in the “Oppression Olympics”?

Feminism causes one to choose and that is something I simply cannot do.  As much as I support equality for women I wouldnt survive without the Black man.  Even aside from my own personal and sexual preference, any male child that comes through my body will inevitably be one.  So I must stand up for their humanity as well. The lives of my future children depend on it.

So Rest in Power Trayvon. And Thank You.