Black Girls Be This: a Meditation on Holy Week and HB-2

This week is the holiest of holy weeks in the Christian faith. With Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Resurrection (or Easter) Sunday, it is supposed to be a time of honoring the greatest sacrifice made and a celebration of renewal. Newness. But one cannot bask in the Great Re-Do without first taking ownership and account of what has been done.

Last night, in the moments before the new day, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed HB-2 into law, effectively eliminating anti-discrimination regulations that protect those in the LGBTQ communities and veterans. Many North Carolinians responded with #WeAreNotThis and while I understand the sentiment, the truth is, we are. And we always have been.

#WeAreThat when we ridicule the little boy who likes playing with dolls. #WeAreThat when the little girl mentions a boy from school and we immediately ask if that’s her boyfriend. #IAmThat when both of my examples use gender roles that exist on a socially constructed binary and #YouAreThat if you didn’t even notice until I pointed it out.

So, yes. We are this. Our state is this. The world is this. And just as the people of Golgotha were all #GoJesus on Sunday, I’m sure they would have called you a bald-faced liar if you tried to tell them that they would be #CrucifyHim on Friday. They would have sworn that #WeAreNotThis. And yet…

But as a Christian woman, I have to believe in a God of renewal and resurrection; a God that can empower us to live a life worth hashtagging. Because as Reverend Lisa Yebuah of Edenton Street United Methodist Church says, “what God can do in us, God can do through us.” So we will be the ones that ask and honor folks’ preferred gender pronouns. We will be the ones to let our children grow and develop without shackling them to gender roles. We will be the ones to let everyone cry and everyone get dirty and everyone play sports if they so choose and love who they so choose and pee where they so choose. We are not this yet, but with intentionality, communication, re-education and most importantly, Love, #WeCanBe.

This post was inspired by the sermon preached by Rev. Lisa Yebuah at Edenton Street United Methodist Church on Sunday, March 20th, 2016.

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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 Dishing on the First Time

When most people talk about their first time they are talking about the first time they laid down with someone and found out what all the fuss was about. But Im talking about another first. The Real First.  The first time you take a dump at your boyfriend’s house.

As little girls we are taught that our bodily functions are nasty and should be kept as quiet and as untraceable as possible (all while our brothers belch and fart for the Olympic gold is gassiness).  So we grow up covering up our little mouths every time we burp and clenching our butt cheeks together so that we are not the culprit of oppressive odors. Except when we shop.  Quiet as its kept, store aisles are specifically designed so that women can release gases that they have been holding in all day and quickly walk away with a box of banana nut oatmeal as if it is on their shopping list even though they know that they are allergic to bananas…. or maybe that’s just me (>_>)….. (<_<)….. (>_>)…..

So when we get older and we start dating, we confuse bubble guts for butterflies because we have been bound up since the 8th grade and the Browns are divas and will only play in the Superbowl on home turf(Get it, Browns…Superbowl! I’m a 12 year old boy on the inside. Forgive me).  So a few things start happening 1) The New Boo is attractive and makes you feel all fuzzy in your nether region just like Steve Urkel did every time he turned into Stephan so your stomach is doing flips  2) The Olympic cross-room dive you do whenever he texts/calls is more calisthenics than you’ve done all year 3) New Boo is taking you out to eat to share great conversation, libations and greasy, cheesy goodness  and 4) Any light to heavy petting is getting your blood moving  which is kicking up the Cupid Shuffle in your intestines.  Needless to say, New Boo is doing a number to your digestion.

So you’re chillin with New Boo, watching movies (or maybe the movie is watching you *winkity wink wink*) and New Boo is rubbing up on your booty (if you’re into that) and you feel that oh too familiar feeling of bubbles on the back end so you clench your cheeks together. New Boo asks if you’re ok cuz he felt your soft sumptuous rump turn into a bag of bricks and you say in your cutest little voice, “I’m fine,” as you hope that those bubbles will travel right on up until you can discreetly release them. But they dont! Those bubbles stay right there like you owe them money and you gone pay what you owe! And what’s even worse you can feel that they brought their bigger, more troublesome enforces and they have no intention of leaving.  So now you are standing at the precipice of the biggest issue you have had to deal with thus far in your relationship with New Boo.  Will you do number 2 at his house?

You excuse yourself as you make your way to the bathroom in slow motion, replaying your entire interaction with New Boo.  The laughs, the stories and all the meals. WHY!?!? WHY LAWD!?!?! WHY DIDNT I ORDER THE SALAD!?!?!? You bemoan as you walk through the bathroom door.  You sit down on the throne, still in disbelief that this is what your life has been reduced to. “Its too soon”, you think.  “I dont even know him that well”. “Im not ready for this” (mind you, you know all about the diamond mole on his behind and that disturbing face he makes when he *clears throat*…yeah) but before you know it has started.  As soon as you hear the ploop! you flush the toilet with the quickness of a Black woman grabbing her slipping Church hat-wig 2 piece combo during a Holy Ghost dance break.  But even with the lightning fast reflexes, smells still linger so you search this bachelor’s bathroom for some spray, incense, candle, matches, AXE… Something!  You find the aerosol under the sink, turn the water on high and do your loudest, raspiest Chaka Khan impression of Tell Me Something Good to hide the sound of spraying.  But the spray gets in your throat as you wash your hands.  So there you are hacking up a lung and praying that no disrespectful scents wafted under the door.

Then you hear it. His footsteps walking towards the door.  Its the moment of truth.  Will he pass the test or diss you for taking a dump and make you take the sh**ty walk of shame? You open the door.  “Are you ok,” he asks with a look of genuine care and concern. “I’m fine,” you reply as you quickly shut the door behind you. You know, just in case.  “I paused the movie. It’s getting good.” Ahh, he’s so cute and oblivious to the major milestone that ya’ll just achieved. Number 2 with the New Boo, excuse me, Boyfriend. Because, whether he knows it or not, yall go to together. And he just might be The One.

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 Inspiring Other Black Girls

I am a devout reader of a friend and fellow Black Girl’s blog called Colored Girl Confidential ( I can call her my friend because we met in real life. I know right? People still do that O_O lol). Her blog always has great posts that uplift every aspect of my little Black girl life.  But every once in a while I will read something that stops me dead in my tracks and answers questions that I wasn’t bold enough to ask. Her last was one such post. It is titled “7 Things I Wont Need on My Next Birthday“.  I will try really hard not to give the whole post away but all of her 7 really hit home.

Number 4 is ” I wont need a… job.”  I am a 23 year old woman with a bachelor’s of fine arts in professional theatre with an acting concentration, which means I am broke.  But I am not poor. I am rich in creativity and potential and energy and its time for me to stop chasing “FT with benefits” and follow my purpose.  I have characters pounding away at my temporal lobe begging for release. And its time I let the little bastards have their own way.  So I am applying for theatre fellowships across the country so that I can make it happen, cap’n.

Number 5 is ” I will not need abs.” Abs are nice but what have they done for you late-ly? (You should have read that in your best Janet Jackson’s homegirl in the intro voice) Seriously though, if I havent learned anything else from social media is that our outward appearances dont make us happier, smarter, wealthier nor better people.  They dont even make us better looking really.  People are out here getting chose, getting jobs, creating opportunities, smiling, waking up and dying regardless of their BMI.  Im not saying Im going to forego all my good sense and go on a liquid diet of KFC gravy and Krispy Kreme doughnut glaze but I am going to love myself every day, at every phase and every weight.

Speaking of love, the one that really knocked my socks off, made me pause and remind myself to breath was Number 2 “To Love People Who Dont Love Me Back.” Ya’ll I’ve been struggling lately. I miss my “ex”. (Ex because we were never officially together but we were very much together.) Even with our lack of a title, he loved me and treated me better than any other man I gave the moniker “boyfriend”. He treated me with the utmost respect, he showed me loved me in all the little ways that really counted and he made me feel warm and happy in that substantial “we could do this forever” kind of way. Yeah, it was like that. But we ended things and though my head understands my heart still goes through stages of disbelief.  I have read relationship tips from all sound angles from my mother to the bible to Oprah and still I have not found peace in the situation. So when I read, “On my next birthday, I will not argue with people who say they don’t deserve me. I’ll assume they know what they’re talking about,” I felt like she had encroached into my private sanctum and used my misery for public consumption! I still havent decided what I am going to do about this situation. I guess thats for another day and another blog post…

And last but certainly not least, Number 1, I will not need “Apologies for Being Who I Am.” That deserves a moment of silence followed by this:

orson_wells_Slow-Clap

I have been holding back and not being my best self out of fear of what others might think/say/do/whisper/misinterpret and you know what that ends TODAY! Mattafact, nawl. That ends YESTERDAY!

I urge you to check out LC’s blog Colored Girl Confidential. Im sure it will inspire, ignite, delight and bless you as much as it has for me.

*2 chest pumps and a peace sign*

Black Girls Be Unpacking

This is the third and final post on this situation, this topic, this hurt (the other two are Black Girls Be Writing: Handle With Care and Black Girls Be Answering Their Own Questions). I just finished watching the film The Odd Life of Timothy Green and I was touched. Ok I balled my eyes out at the end and I need Puddin over at andevengreaterworks.wordpress.com  to see it if she hasnt already. Without ruining the plot, it was about love and letting go.

I was already emotionally overwrought and then the end of the movie just shoved me over the edge and I checked my phone and had a message from my ex, the same one I’ve been talking about this week, his cousin sent me a message that said, “Just wanted to tell ya I love and miss ya.” (His cousin and eye grew up and were really good friends growing up) And in that moment it clicked. I got it.

So this is an apology.  I have been writing and creating this alternate reality where I was doing everything and giving my all and he just broke my heart because he wouldnt have me.  And though that may be my truth, it is not the reality of what happened.  I was wrong. And I was selfish.  Because instead of letting love live and breath, I wanted to box it up and hoard it. I wanted it on my terms and my own way.  But just because someone doesnt love you the way you want them to doesnt mean that they dont love you.  He loves his way and I love mine. We just couldnt find a middle.

We are not bad people.  We are just dynamically, extraordinarily human. And thats ok.

So I am cutting open the box that is my heart and my love.  Throwing back the curtains and unlocking all the doors so that love can flow effortlessly in, out and through my life.  Whether its a quick, fierce gale that comes and goes before I can lick my finger and figure its direction or a barely moving, muggy breeze that moves in, sets for a while and never really parts, I’m ready. And I welcome it all.