Monday, August 28

Black Unicorn Tears

I feel like all my posts should come with a trigger warning.... so:
This post contains references to interpartner violence and statutory rape.

Last week I learned that strong, black girls AND women can't be victims. This person even told me that they viewed me as a strong girl in HS. It was at that point I revealed to them that as a "strong girl" I was assaulted by a boy within the walls of that very same HS. Because i believed int he myth of the "strong girl" I did not press charges even though I absolutely should have. Instead, I blamed myself. This boy was my boyfriend. I was in the 10th grade and he was an upperclassmen. I was not prepared to go farther than kissing but I am a naturally flirty and affectionate person. This caused issues for him. One day, in the front lobby of the school he pinned me to the ground and began screaming at me. My memory of the situation is foggy, but I recall him saying that he didn't understand me and he didn't know what I wanted. An administrator pulled him off me but I don't think anything else happened after that. I avoided him at all costs thereafter and I don't recall if he ever apologized. But I remember that I felt that I was to blame. 

I was barely 15 and I was already blaming myself for another person's inability to control themselves. This person was 18 and I, still a minor, blamed myself. I had almost completely forgotten about it (or buried it DEEEEP DOWN inside) until years later when someone was "playing" with me and pinned me down. It all came to the surface and I had to let them know why I reacted the way I did (because I went beserk). 

But I told that convoluted tale to say this. Mental strength does not make you any less of a victim. We put this false definition of strength on people which forces them to never feel as if they can be vulnerable or weak or HUMAN. I jokingly refer to myself as a Black Unicorn because I apparently am a rare breed of woman with no children, no ex-husbands, and no effs to give who spreads glitter and rainbows and sunshine and apple sauce! But in reality, I am a female human who makes mistakes, gets hurt, doubts her greatness and cries regularly. 

Last week there was a conversation about the young lady who is now speaking out about her relationship with R. Kelly. Within that conversation someone stated that the young girl was equally to blame. The person went on to talk about how "fast" young girls are and also how 16 and 18 were not that different. Think about that. If a 16 year old girl is the same as an 18 year old as far as making adult decisions, then where does "childhood" begin and end for young, Black girls? Even when presented with the data that 60% of Black women are sexually abused by the age of 18, this person insisted that this young girl was at fault and not a victim at all but a girl who knew what she liked earlier than others. This person totally missed the point that someone who likely abused her had introduced her to "what she likes". I am getting worked up all over again so let me wrap this up.

We cannot expect our Black girls to be strong and leave them unprotected from adult men who prey upon them and groom them. Young girls have to be taught to make ADULT decisions at 15 and 16 years old because boys are not being taught to treat them better and men are refusing to let them be children. #NotAllMen

Friday, August 18

Fathers be BETTER to Your Daughters

My problematic boo, John Mayer, has a song called Daughters. The song's chorus implores fathers to be "good" to their daughters because daughters will love like them. But there is one particular part of the song that I would like to address today:
Oh, you see that skin?
It's the same she's been standing inSince the day she saw him walking awayNow she's left cleaning up the mess he made
Songwriter: John Clayton Mayer  Daughters lyrics © Reach Music Publishing 
I see many of my male friends and associates on social media say and do terrible things as it relates to women. Defending their right to be creepy, flirty or obnoxious is chief among them. While I get that some irreverent things can be humorous, some things are not funny in today's climate. I laugh a LOT, all day even... But when I see the people that should be more aware of certain issues making light of them, it cheeses me off. (I say "cheesed off" in real life, this is not just blogspeak)

All over the internet I see Black women, specifically being the main reason Black men are in jail, effeminate, f**kbois. There is hardly ever any mention of the father. So when I see Black fathers of Black daughters saying and doing things that are not in-line with who they proclaim themselves to be, I cannot wrap my mind around it. I have called out a few on this incongruity and I have been told basically that they are teaching their daughters how to deal with men like them. Wait, what?!

I have had a dude tell me that some things are in a man's nature and therefore women should get used to it. I call BS! Part of psychotherapy is to treat maladjusted or problem behaviors. If you are looking at women and they are calling you creepy, that's a problem that even if it's in your nature can be treated if you are willing to make the change... if you are willing to make the change.... But if you feel like it is your right to leer at women because they are showing cleavage or their skirt is tight up on datazzdoe, then you clearly do not see the need to change. Yet, you are telling the women that you are making feel uncomfortable to change how they dress so that you don't creep them out. Huh?

If you feel your daughters deserve to be treated by other men better than you treat other women, perhaps you need to treat other women better. If you wouldn't want a married man whispering untoward things into your single daughter's ear, then maybe you should stop doing it to other people's daughters. If you wouldn't want some old dude in a corner undressing your daughter with his eyes, then maybe you should stop doing it too. I cannot comprehend having to put your daughter in the situations you put other people's daughters in for you to see you could do better by them. Your disrespect toward your wife, your girlfriend, your baby mama and the women in the street by means of both your words and your actions impact the young women you are raising. All I am requesting is that you be better to everyone's daughters.

If you take issue with anything I have said here, may I suggest you contact your daughters and check-in with them. They are what's most important here.

In a world that is constantly making a Black woman feel unprotected, all I want is for these Black daughters to feel safe and protected by Black men (not from them).

 Full disclosure: I celebrate gray sweatpants and basketball shorts season in much the same way men celebrate sundress season because who doesn't like to look at nice things?? However, there has not been a time -to my knowledge- when a man has told me I was making him uncomfortable or felt like me glancing at him (not leering, staring, oogling, or salivating) put him in danger. Yet almost all of my women friends have felt uneasy or threatened by a man leering, staring, oogling or salivating at them. 

Friday, August 11

This is Why Nobody Likes Christians

Just last week I talked about confronting my own hypocrisy. Self-awareness is imperative to self-improvement. Self-improvement is imperative to becoming your higher self. Regardless of what you believe in, you should be aiming to become better in this life.

Now, here's the thing. I go to church, I believe in God, I follow the teachings of Jesus. I cannot stand Christians. Let me say it again: I. Cannot. Stand. Christians. This was not what I was going to blog about so this list is not in ANY order. But let me tell you why nobody likes "us".

1. We're ashamed of our testimony- If the Lord brought you out of it, why not share it? Why hide from your past if that's not who or what you are anymore? Why hide from your past if you are still struggling with it? If Ephesians 1:7 is true and you have redemption through his blood and there is glory after suffering like 1 Peter says, then what are you ashamed of really? No one is saying you have to go into gory detail about your drug dealer days nor glorify your mid-20s sexcapades, but you ain't gotta lie or clutch your pearls anytime your past comes up. Even if people are trying to use it against you, which people have DEFINITELY done to me, why not use it as a "LOOK AT ME NOW" moment. Those same people that tried to use my past against me once I started to be serious about my spiritual journey are now coming to me for prayer. #lookatgawd

2. We're too judgey- In the same way that we are ashamed of our testimony, we use that shame to shame others. I watched a clip of a particularly infamous female preacher talking about the manner in which some women dress for church. Calling them names and being so adamantly graphic and vulgar about the female anatomy to the point she was almost foaming at the mouth! *Editing out my smart remark*  Why so much judgment for people you profess to love? Over undergarments!?!?
  • Sidenote: Some of us more top-heavy women have issues keeping the puppies still in the kennel and others have issues turning off our high beams. I have pulled my sister aside and let her know her high beams were on as a courtesy. I didn't get on FB and blast it out in disgust. Sometimes folks are not aware or not even THINKING about that sort of thing. So why are you so angry? This judgment has even caused me to feel self-conscious in the middle of a good shout! I have definitely been in the middle of a praise and suddenly become aware of my body and thrown my arm across my chest all because I did not want to be judged for how well my undergarments controlled my situation under extreme circumstances. I have veered WAY off course!
My point is, we judge others for things they a- may not be aware of or sometimes can't help and 2- we have done ourselves. Clutching our pearls at people's drunk-in-the-club stories from last year when we are only a month away from our NEXT or LAST backslide. Then to disown the people whom you have judged.... chiiiiiiile! In John 6:37 the good Lord himself says "All those the Father Gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." Yet, here you are publicly shaming those who have come to you for spiritual guidance. And I've already discussed being judged with the same judgement.... 

3. We lie to ourselves and others- We don't have to tell everyone our business, but we also don't have to just outright lie. Why are you pretending to be this upstanding soldier in the Lord's Army when you know you don't have it all together? If your house ain't in order, your finances ain't right, your walk ain't straight OR narrow, FIX IT! We put an abundance of time and effort into appearing to be model Christians-- whatever that even means-- yet not enough time and effort is put into just being human. We all have sinned and fallen short. Some of us are planning to sin this weekend. We don't have to lie. But the aforementioned shame and judgment that has been ingrained in us prevents us from admitting it to ourselves. No one is completely sinless, no one is unconditionally blameless, no one is perfectly virtuous. Does that mean we shouldn't try to be? NO! But that does mean we don't have to try so hard to pretend to be. "Because you're no angel either, baby."- Bey
4. We act like we ain't got time for nobody else- I saw a post on FB yesterday about millennials leaving church because the person in the pulpit cannot be bothered with the congregation. Where in the bible is that at? Matthew 25:40 talks about what you do for the "least of these" you did for Him. The least of these has some quantifiers earlier on in the chapter, but the point remains many of us act like we cannot be bothered with social justice, community service, outreach... NOTHIN! We don't have to hand out money to every homeless person on the street but we also don't have to walk out of church with our noses turned up and butts on our backs. I'm guilty of this as well because as an introvert, I honestly don't feel like heavy convo or light banter after pouring my soul out. But, I try to give a smile or light hug as I make my hasty exit.  I even apologize if I know I'm coming off wrong because I am aware of this fault. But for the people in the pulpit to do this, is damaging to "the least of these". Church hurt is some of the worst hurt!

5. We're MAAAAD sexist, yo!-
Christianity is problematic as a mugg! The Bible is full of  "Wait, what?" passages. It's been through many translations, and tons of edits, and outright omissions and additions. I get it. But like the Pointer Sisters said in Car Wash "You gotta believe in something". And I believe in the overarching themes of The Bible. I believe that what I have felt and experienced in church and through my practice and worship has been beneficial to my overall improvement and higher understanding of my life's purpose. 

HOWEVER, I know that some of the things that some of y'all's preachers spout is nothing but sexist foolishness. Women not causing men to stumble is chief among them. Many of us Christian women have bought into the internalized misogyny and have used it to keep us from being great.... like.... *sigh* I don't even know how to address this without a whole other 5 paragraph dissertation. Let me wrap this up, b!

Most of y'all probably didn't even get this far... so I will just say, I acknowledge that Christianity is sexist and archaic in many ways, but I don't buy into it, nor do I allow it to deter me. I fight against it in many ways and will continue to do so. 

I made sure that I said WE so y'all know I am not excluding myself.... we ALL got work to do!

Friday, August 4

Confronting My Own Hypocrisy

The above nametag says it all. I am a hypocrite... and I have been forced to face my hypocrisy twice in the last 2 weeks. Some of these things involve people I care about so I won't go into too much detail lest they recognize their truths here and feel betrayed or something.

Girl, look at yourself!
I found out some interesting information about someone I am close to in a way so cavalier, I thought it was a joke. But when it turned out to be true, my stomach DROPPED! I was unsure how to process or handle what can only be described as a real-life plot twist! The revelation was like something out of a movie and, had it not been my own life, it would have made for goooood storytelling. It made me rethink how I felt about the person. I was considering whether to release them into the wild or confront them about how I felt. As I processed it, I really thought about the whole situation and did some introspection. It was then that I realized I had been there and done the same. damn. thing!

Matthew 7:1-2 says:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 
The key here is WITH THE MEASURE YOU USE... I had done something similar and was about to judge them for it. How!?!?
So as I was talking it all out, a voice in my head said: "Girl, look at yourself!" and I did, literally. I did indeed stand in front of the mirror and I laughed cuz I was trippin! My issue was did this person feel remorseful like I did or to the same extent, but that ain't my place. There are other factors that led to the internalized struggle but the people closest to me, helped me look at and consequently get over myself. I loooove to have the moral high ground in most every situation and can be hard on myself when I fail to "do what's right". As you can see, this came into play as I was about to be hard on someone else for doing essentially what I did- with some caveats... it's complicated. And that's just it, LIFE is complicated. Like Gina told Charmaine on the infamous Digit Ho episode of A Different World, "Life is a funny thing, girl."

Transitive Properties of Equality
I still struggle with my feelings on certain things as it relates to transgender people. I'm not at "NC bathroom ban" with it but I'm also not at "pansexual lover of the world" with it, so my advocacy motto is "Leave people alone." Does that make sense?

I don't know enough about it to get out there and claim allyship (which cannot be self-proclaimed and should only be bestowed upon those with whom you are allies). But I know enough to know that some of my thoughts and words are precarious. Some of it is lack of knowledge and some of it is how I was raised- mildly transphobic and innately judgmental.

When I was younger, a man in a wig was usually a spectacle. Oftentimes, he would appear to be disheveled and unkempt. I now realize this may have been in direct relation to the life he lived up to this point. A society that has mocked him, shunned him, abused him and forced her to be referred to as HIM. Never realizing this person is a HUMAN BEING and should be treated as such. How is that NOT ok with folks? Leave people alone, mind your task, brush your teeth, drink water, live YOUR life.

We may all find the "what's your pronoun?"  line of questioning strange or confusing. But what it boils down to is respecting people. I realized through 2 podcasts this week: Inner Hoe Uprising's episode titled "Trans Masculinity" and The Read's episode "Noprah Winfrey" (the link goes straight to the transgender issues portion of the show) that I had a lot to learn and there was more I could do to retrain my brain. BOTH podcasts contain strong language and for that I do NOT apologize!

So yeah, I quoted the Bible AND linked to a sex podcast in the same blog and about this I AM PLEASED! This does not make me a hypocrite. This makes me a human. This week I came face to face with respecting other people's humanity as well as my own. We all have done things that other people may not agree with or like. We all need to recognize our own hypocrisy, it's healthy!