The Monsters You’ve Created: Still “Lifting & Climbing”

194b43nk54hi5jpg                                                                                            Photo Courtesy of Jezebel.com

There’s no yoga mantra, African proverb or respectability politics that serves properly when a black woman is fighting the systems of patriarchy and white feminism.

I didn’t watch the VMA’s last night. Hell, I haven’t watched them in about 12 years. I did read The Atlantic Stephen Kornhaber’s article “Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, and the VMAs: A Tone-Policing Palooza,” which led to me watching the video and reading the preceding The New York Times Miley Cyrus Q&A with Joe Coscarelli. It’s not just about tone, it’s about being malleable enough to assimilate.

Palooza is a stretch. The use of words like terrorism, scuffle or thug when referencing isolated moments involving blacks is tiresome. Onika was straightforward and “they” can’t have that. Let’s continuously label her ANGRY to discredit her feelings or burdens. Perhaps it was just an unnecessary use of alliteration.

Miley Cyrus, the 22-year-old entertainer of sorts, took it upon herself to publicly correct, Nicki Minaj, 32-year-old entertainer of sorts, by dismissively attempting to address Minaj’s concerns about cultural appropriation and the manner to which she discussed her problems with MTV’s VMA nominations.

Miley first acts as if she doesn’t even know what Coscarelli is talking about. However, she then politely gives her opinion of how and why people haven’t responded or would respond to Minaj. Be nicer.

Apparently, there is a way to talk to people and anger is not to be respected. If I press my foot on someone’s throat for an extended period of time, I don’t expect the victim/abused to ask me nicely to remove my foot. I expect them to grab me by the leg and inflict bodily harm. Structurally speaking, dismantle the system that enforces oppression.

Some think that Nicki Minaj should have ignored Miley Cyrus. The symbolisms of this exchange is so blatant and seemingly rehearsed in white Hollywood or requirements to be a feminist that I applaud Minaj for responding in a “All About the Benjamin’s” type of way. Others think that it was awkward and lacked solidarity because Rebel Wilson was to her left in her sardonic police brutality costume. Some question why Kanye or Nicki Minaj was even present while many know that answer to this question. Most don’t care.

It’s the latter that concerns me. Where is our support? Why must Nicki Minaj walk throughout her career with her hand covering her mouth unless she’s in the booth? Does the amount of clothes a woman wears dictate whether she gets to have a voice or not?

Too often the binaries leave black woman silenced. How do you expect me to handle my queen shit when you keep reducing my strength as a fleeting, powerless emotion? Why are my struggles so invincible, when my adversary is a white woman?

The idea that the complexity that is the human can be cookie cut into a singular dimension of emotions or trait is a mockery of the magnificence of our Creator—marginalization is a form of supremacy. I can’t understand why anyone would believe that descendants of Africa, the mother of all civilizations, would think they are one dimensional in thought or action.

Police brutality is a serious issue and cannot be glossed over or solved by a movie and its popular moniker; lest we forget the misogynistic, abusive and predatory overtones of NWA (and yes of Hip Hop). You will not attempt to muffle my feminine power and get a pass. No one expects a man to be quiet.

Kanye responds how he wants. Chris Brown responds how he wants. Dame Dash responds how he wants. Even “Ari Gold” responds how he wants, with little to no consequence or critique but with much applause. I would have loved for Nicki to have had a “men lie, women lie, numbers don’t” moment and said something short and sweet like ‘I’m accepting this award on behalf of black girl magic everywhere. Black lives matter.”

But I’m not her and I don’t know the crosses she bears. It definitely would’ve reminded Miley that her persona is about as organic as her blonde, faux locs and made Rebel Wilson think twice about insensitivity, witlessness, timing and delivery. It seems trivial, but this shit adds up. Once accumulated, it’s like consistently stubbing your toe on your grandmother’s coffee table. The one she refuses to move.

There is no revolution without the black woman rather she shows her ass, rocks a gele, or draped in a hijab/chador/burka/niqab, likes weaves instead of natural or bears children. You don’t get to define us. She does. And our definitions don’t exclude your responsibilities.

larger than life

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thought you couldn’t     unsubscribe     but that was a lie     got caught up      in the truth of love     thought there             was only one sun     turns out there’s     many moons

Dinknesh not Lucy.

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A friend of mine wrote a status denouncing the audacity of a movie set to be released called Lucy. From Jump Street, I figured it had something to do with some white woman posing as the mother of all people.

I watched the trailer. I palmed my forehead.

Please don’t read this and think reverse racism or some ridiculous colorblind nonsense. If a white woman can express her solidarity to the natural hair movement surely I can discuss my outrage of the white washing of my/our history. I’m not a huge fan of Scarlett Johansson’s acting.

For nearly three weeks, my niece has lived with me as she attends a dance camp that’s near my home. Last week, she said “Auntie let’s watch Lucy.” I told her not tonight.
Auntie is what she calls me when she wants something that she may not get—instead of just my name.

So, last night she asked again. I made a post about Hollywood not fooling me. I called her mom. She hates that I do this. “It’s just a movie with the girl from Captain America in it. She did good in that movie.” She said.

‘I guess.’

My sister hadn’t seen the movie and said she probably wouldn’t. She said just talk to her first. She’s smart. I told my niece to google “dinknesh ethiopia.” She clicked on the Wikipedia link. Together we read the introduction paragraphs.

I asked her if she knew the definition of a fossil. She thought it is was cool that the fossil was so old. I asked her what she thought that meant. She said “she must’ve been here first.” I allowed her to gather the facts. I wanted to see if a ten year old mind could produce the truth. Lastly, I asked her about Ethiopia. She said “it’s a country in Africa.”

What came next was beautiful.

“Ohhhh, the movie is called lucy and her brain power is better than everybodies but it’s not an African woman. It’s a white woman. Why didn’t they just get an Ethiopian?”

I’m not shocked at my niece’s deductions. My sister communicates very well with her children. And she doesn’t withhold the truth from them. The sheer power of visuals is concrete. Her mother may choose to watch and discuss it further with her.

I come into contact with a lot of children and adults alike that are in need of guidance (such can come from within). Between the loveless, lack of compassion, friendly fire and prison numbers increasing, one can find the real reason people go to great lengths to alter the truth.

“Candles In the Sun”

Image“Elephant in the Room” by Banksy

From his 2006 “Barely Legal” Exhibition

Photo Courtesy of NYTimes.com

A pertinent and apparent truth, to which everyone present is aware of but which is not discussed, such discussion is considered to be uncomfortable: elephant in the room.  Racism has become or has been the obvious issue for some time now however, such has transmuted into not existing at all.  We have elephants in the room.  America has elephants.

I have heard this metaphorical idiom tossed about when conversing about the Trayvon Martin trial/tragedy.  This drives me to believe that we have ignored the elephant for so long, endured it and become so complacent, that we can no longer see the elephant.  A male elephant can weigh up to 15,000 pounds.  A baby elephant weighs 250 pounds upon birth.  We are blind.  Racism will continue to choke us as long as we keep the foot on our throats.

Prejudice has become so innate, so inbred, native, congenital and inherent.  It’s a practice that is no longer taught through experience, it now originates in the mind.  Yes, I know everyone believes and preached that racism is taught but at this point in history; it’s reality.  Thus children pick up on it implicitly and explicitly as the way of life.  “Somebody told a lie one day. They couched it in language. They made everything black ugly and evil. Look in your dictionary and see the synonyms for the word black. It’s always something degrading, low, and sinister.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. added “look up the word white. It’s always something pure, high, and clean.”  Zimmerman is not so much a racist as he is American.

The elucidations that King speak of made way for racial profiling, and mostly likely have Zimmerman confused as to what exactly he did wrong.  The nature of this country also gives him reason not to worry.  Generalizations of any kind are crimes against humanity.  This case has the world in such an uproar because the world hates to face the fruits of its labor.  Man’s need for dominance has sullied humanity.  The power construct has made is so that right and wrong has become battles of wits.

“The Purge” has it all wrong.  One day of excused savagery will not bring forth total peace in the world.  If you change the socio-economic makeup of society the crime rate will decrease.  Currently, many African Americans live below poverty lines.  The framework of these communities is survival.  One must desensitize early in order to subsist.  These communities are the brothels of oppression: poor education, meager healthcare, no mental health facilities, no love, few resources and barely any employment.  Such a structure creates a no way in, no way out; kill or be killed mentality.  Our children grow up in these broken homes and rarely develop respect for life and often view kindness as a sign of weakness.  There are many aware of these harsh realities, who manage to dream beyond the despair and go on to accomplish much more. Success is the best type of redemption.
Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict has many fathers, mothers, black men, women, and children feeling more hopeless and valueless than yesterday.  We all hope for the day, Martin Luther Kings and Malcolm Xs are not needed to prove we rightfully deserve humanity.  Sadly, today is not that day.  Jay Smooth, founder of New York’s longest running Hip Hop radio program, WBAI’s “Underground Railroad” has declared that “the fundamental danger of an acquittal is not more riots, it’s more George Zimmermans.”   Changing the flow of money is a hard pill to swallow but it’s feasible.  But how do you change hardened souls and encrypted minds to love?  With practicality, you make the lives of children priceless.  You guard the innocence of children like the Holy Grail. Children are our most prized possessions.  Man has completely miscalculated the value of human life.

If you do the crime, do the time is clearly an outdated slogan considering the number of innocent men and women in prison versus the guilty running free.  In moments like these, the value of spiritual retribution versus distinguishable consequences is hard to measure.  When are we going to get the language right? I question.

holy grail. she.

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Photo Courtesy of C&A

Who better to invoke when discussing the ills and glitz of celebrity than Kurt Cobain. “And we all just/Entertainers/And we’re stupid/And contagious.”  “Smell like Teen Spirit” is the opening track to Nirvana’s Nevermind.  Thus, rightfully so, it assist in opening the curtains to MCHG.  Holy Grail is not as “guttural, nonsensical or slurred” but it’s melodic and has a sort of drawl to it—as if a spell it being cast.

Fans are fickle, the industry lushes after anything with dollars attached to it but if you present yourself as altruistic as possible your “cup will runneth over (Psalms 23:5).”

Jay-Z starts off with telling us what Blue told him to remind us about, then he jumps into the d’evils of fame.  He discusses how heavy hitters amassed millions in one night but how when “the money blows/all pigeons take flight/f the fame, keep cheating on me.”  We all know to well the crevices of crotches, lines in the bathrooms, domestic violence, violence, despair, insecurities and suicidal thoughts of our favorite and most hated celebrities alike because of the extravagant compensation of gossip and photos obtained by intrusive, proficient folks with cameras.  When your craziest desires are excruciatingly accessible, priorities can easily be misplaced and boundaries may become nonexistent.

But you can’t “throw the baby out with the bath water,” quite analogous to the cover of Nevermind. Next, he frankly states “you got the shit that —-die for, dry yours.”  This is Jay telling himself to quit crying (IRIS).  With having a wife and now a child, Jay-Z has new pressures.  Yes, Beyoncé has her own prominence to boast about, but there are these things.  These things called pride, breadwinning and “vanilla wafers in a villa.” If you take away the family life, pressure, fakes and peeping Toms (the icing and cherries), Jay-Z has few reasons not to rap.  As an artist, Jay-Z has not experienced too many instances of retrogression.  Why not keep coming back for more?

It could be argued that the ruthless, competitive nature of the rap game is what keeps him alive, figuratively speaking.   The technique and stamina required to be a lyrical giant requires consistent “exercise.”  I’m not suggesting that he should rap until he’s 100 years old but he did say “longevity until I’m 70.” And ladies and gentleman, words are nothing if not affirmations.

The actual meaning of “Teen Spirit,” is lost in translation, literally, deep in the sea of questions due to its “incomprehensibility.”  I always gathered that Cobain wailed about how the irony and clashes of revolution oftentimes drives you to embrace its perplexity, thus relishing in the invincibility (teen spirit) that comes along with that acceptance.  Jay-Z was once an impoverished boy who graduated to street mathematics and science who studied the dictionary, which paved the way for numerous other business ventures which now includes being a sports agent for the NBA and MLB.  How’s that for breaking glass ceilings and kicking in the door.

“Why [couldn’t] you just enjoy it?” Rest peacefully, KC.

“WE WAITING FOR THE FIREWORKS LIKE JULY 4TH”

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Magna Carta Holy Grail (MCHG) sounds like freedom.

I’ve been wrecking my brain for the appropriate word to describe this musical masterpiece.  In the way that a devoted Jay-Z fan, long before critics had to eat their words and call “Reasonable Doubt” a classic, can.  The album is weightless and more succinct than “American Gangster.”  It’s chiism in verse.

I’m the girl that spent her last $15 dollars in credit to cop the “Black Album.” Smart? Maybe not, but it was worth it.  I preorder Jay-Z albums and often have more than one copy of the same album.  MCHG is the holy grail of making it out the hood but on a sicka note securing legacy.  When I say legacy, I am not referring to rather or not Jay is the G.O.A.T.—because I already know the answer to that but the point at which the sky is now your foundation not ground.

There is no titillation here.  Honestly, I’ve been waiting for this album for six years.  The boy who grew up on the mean streets of Brooklyn, specifically the Marcy Projects is happy.  “Happiness for a gangsta ain’t no love in these streets/Conspiracy theorists screaming/Illuminati/They can’t believe this much skills in the human body.”  I truly wish not to speculate that the birth of Blue Ivy was the prelude to a more immaculate Hov, from cautionary tales to pursuits of happiness to always sportin’ a smile type of peace.

And it dropped on Independence Day.

After I heard, “Open Letter,” my brain froze, the cursor would not move.  I had to reboot.   I had no idea that an album was in the near future or even a thought for him. Hell, he was still riding the celebratory wave of “Watch the Throne.”  It’s revolutionary, but not just black fist in the air.  Every compilation is like a prayer and in between release dates Jay-Z puts in the work to guarantee the fruition of his aspirations (action).

“Own boss, own your masters, slaves…”

These are my initial thoughts.

Let the dissection begin.

To be continued.

Shining Bright.

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Photo Courtesy of Golden Globes 2009, GettyImages, Instagram (baddiebey), H&M, Dazed, HBO, Vibe Vixen, Sandra Rose, JustJared, Thelifefiles.com, Popsugar

With all the proof we have that perfection does not exist, time and time again we create pedestals of aptness knowing such can not be achieved.  I am rendered speechless at the level of shock most endure when flaws are made apparent or rather the nonchalance one has toward living freely, null of judgment or inhibitions.  These pedestals are mostly molded for the people who we live vicariously through yet we stick our noses up at them when it is realized that they bleed red also.

I have become intrigued by the onslaught of criticism that Beyoncé Knowles-Carter receives.  Is it just envy? Or does she appear to be perfect, thus many hate her for it?

I must add that I can not particularly call myself a fan, but I am aware of her supreme talent, diligence and ambition.  I began to listen more closely to her music upon her 2004 Grammy performance of “Dangerously in Love.”  To be honest, her more mature and solo material struck my interest.  Her presence can not be denied.

On April 22, 2013, Rakhi Kumar wrote a letter to First Lady Michelle Obama to inform her that Beyoncé is not a role model.  The first sentence was “I’m addressing this to you because I admire you.” I can’t help but to sense a condescending tone.  It conveys that because of her admiration for the First Lady it gives her the right to dictate and presumably correct her parenting decisions for her daughters.  Michelle Obama deemed Beyoncé a role model.  The author refers to the misogynistic nature of the music industry and the revealing embroidered nipple outfit that Beyoncé wore to kick off her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour.  The problem with this argument is that it often clashes with how any woman chooses to define her femininity.

I love the title of Beyoncé’s tour; she’s parading her marriage around the world, like a never-ending honeymoon.  The promotional art, commercials and marketing is also something that I believe is clever.  If your understanding of royalty and/or the crown is that it is something reserved for only those of powdery hue, then I completely understand your disdain and declarations of whitewashing.  However, no alterations can remove the “oil wells pumping in [B’s] living room.”  The images conjure Queen Elizabeth; “the virgin queen.” Beyoncé story is quite parallel to Queen Elizabeth considering they are two women in history who accomplished unprecedented goals in both of their worlds respectively.

In my eyes, Beyoncé became legendary when she started performing and touring with an all female band.  I have this high respect for female bands and Rock-N-Rollers.  This solidified her as a contender without competition.  Such as a statement alone is inspiring and affirming that women are forces to be reckoned with.

I am also a black love, black is beautiful connoisseur.  Any and everything the factually promotes either of these mantras, I support strongly.  Furthermore, upon watching her documentary, “Life is But a Dream,” I understood that she too was a woman, just like me.  Of course, we do not share the familiarities of wealth and fame but emotionally and spiritually we are all interconnected through our shared experiences.  Although it may seem silly and trivial, the scene that resonated most with me is when Solange, Beyoncé and Kelly were singing The Cardigans “Lovefool.” My sisters and I, there are three of us, would swoon this hit record to the top of our lungs, randomly throughout our childhood.

Particularly, America encourages individualism, thus it simultaneously fuels envy; mostly due to the dynamic of the pursuit of happiness, who can be the better American?  This country’s ideology of all men are created equal in many facets is a façade.  Thus, our hearts have habits to condemn, crucify and contemn while secretly desiring the prestige and freedom in question. Society has a random, spin the bottle target ready morality when it comes to discerning piety, decadence and indecorousness.  America has a culture of bringing people up only to break them down.

Our true age of enlightenment will be the moment we become completely adept to love others for who they are, not for who we want them to be (our differences)—and to accept the complexity of this concept by simply being.

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