Ocean Floor Memories

Day One

of

wading into the water

past

my shoulders.

Feeling my

hair heavy on my

back as

salt and sand

washed

away

all

that didn’t belong

and

whispered secrets

known only to those who are

fearful

enough to

listen

while the

oldest and deepest

can drown you.

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You Don’t Look Black (What People Say to Separate)

I had a person say to me this week,

“You don’t look black”.

It was in the heat of bed and I should have known some stupid

shit like that was bound to come out in the midst of hide and seek but I thought

“Nah”.

But yea, it was said and in my head I was ready to shoot out what the old me would have

said.

The fuck you mean?

I don’t look like straight out of Africa? Well then you tell me, what does straight out of Africa look like?

Black Lives Matter

When on a Saturday night it all catches up with you.

You cry for the black people dead today.

You cry for the black people dead this week.

You cry for the black people dead this month.

You cry for the black people dead this year.

You cry so much that you fear you won’t stop.

Until you do.

You are not numb.

Continue on.

You don’t have a choice.

When Brown Girls Seek (For Black Girls Who Rock)

When you seek out your sister

do not present your

hurt

as a wall.

Don’t you see?

both of you hurt

both of you seek

both of you cry

Instead, walk into her arms

with hope

with joy

with exhaltation

The evil has not won.

You are here.

Make yourselves dinner.

Make yourselves lemonade.

Laugh

Smile

Cry

Remember that love keeps you alive for this moment and for the moments that follow

Ashe

Falling First, Falling Last, or Not Falling at All: Meditations on Romantic Relationships

Hello Blogosphere! So this month has given me a lot of time to think about romantic relationships and the ways in which I have framed them in my mind up until this point in my life. I thought to myself, self, you’ve gotta sort this out in a blog post. Mostly because you can’t be the only person thinking this way, but also because writing it, helps to flush it out in my own head.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I grew up in a single parent household. Why is that important? Well, where do we learn relationships? At home. I’m not broken or feeling pity for myself at all. The fact of the matter is that I didn’t see conventional relationships growing up so I don’t feel bound by them. Maybe that’s a good thing and maybe it’s not. Maybe it just is. When I got to be a teenager and thought about dating, I was petrified that dating would come with sex which would come with attachments which as a sexual assault survivor, I desperately wanted to avoid. But I also had a weird complex in which my self worth would be tied into how/if/when this other person wanted to date me, wanted to be with me and just me. I took monogamy as what everyone takes it as, the pinnacle. Then I got to college, got cheated on a few times and my thoughts started to change on the matter. If I was the most important person in my romantic world, could I live with people filtering in and out of that if they proved themselves capable?

Ok so backing up, where did this all come from? I recently listened to Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years, featuring Cynthia Erivo and Joshua Henry. The musical documents a failed relationship backwards and forwards. Joshua Henry’s character Jamie, sings the show going frontward, from meeting until marriage and divorce. Cynthia Erivo’s character Catherine sings the show backwards to frontwards, starting with Jamie divorcing her back to their first date. In the show is a song called “I Can Do Better Than That.” I’ll post some lyrics to the second half of the song because although Cynthia is absolutely incredible, the point of the matter is the lyrics.

You don’t have to get a haircut,
You don’t have to change your shoes,
You don’t have to like Duran Duran,
Just love me.

You don’t have to put the seat down,
You don’t have to watch the news,
You don’t have to learn to tango,
You don’t have to eat prosciutto,
You don’t have to change a thing,
Just stay with me.

I want you and you and nothing but you,
Miles and piles of you
Finally I’ll have something worthwhile
To think of each morning–

You and you and nothing but you,
No substitution will do,
Nothing but fresh, undiluted and pure,
Top of the line,
And totally mine!

I don’t need any lifetime commitments, I don’t need to get hitched tonight.
I don’t want you throw up all your walls and defenses.
I don’t mean to put on any pressure, but I know when a thing is right,
And I spend every day reconfiguring my senses.

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OKAY! So hopefully that was an enjoyable break/analysis. This song spoke to me for days. I played it on end until I could sing it freely for days. Then I stopped. I realized that society teaches us that monogamy is for everyone and that monogamy is ownership. I want you, nothing but you and I want you to be totally mine. But people aren’t ours. They’re free. Although I still love the song, I’m thinking about it so much differently now.

I’ve always been interested in unconventional relationships. Being with multiple people, not just sexually but romantically as well. I’m not incredibly jealous by nature. Unless it’s thrown in front of my face that the person I’m with is with someone else, I don’t notice. I don’t look for it, I don’t anticipate it and even then the betrayal of not speaking to me about it honestly is what hurts.

I don’t need to be with someone. I realized today how much self-love that is. It wasn’t always this way. I thought that being with someone, being their “girlfriend” validated my existence. Post College and post many failed attempts at relationships, I thought what if I try something different? What if I decide to be completely open and honest upfront about what I want and if that person can’t handle it, then I won’t have wasted my time?

So began the beginning of unconventional relationships. So far, so good right? Well, I’m still learning to love myself, to place myself first. I think society tells women that to put themselves first is selfish, its something that’s frowned upon. The black community tells black women that we must continue to give until we are shells of ourselves, yet in my discovery of putting myself first, everyone around me actually gets more of me because I have more to give. I’m happier, more available, more vibrant and alive when I am my main thought. In a relationship, I tend to push my partner and sometimes my dreams take a back seat. I can’t afford that right now and neither should any young woman. We also don’t have to be sexless. We can have great sex, great friendships, a lil bit of romance, self love and great focus on our careers.

 

I had a lover say to me once, “I think you love me more than I love you.” That’s the scary part isn’t it? The acknowledgment that you might fall for someone and they won’t fall back? Well, it wasn’t actually true but let’s take it apart as though it was. If I fall for someone, is it the end of the world if it’s not returned? No! Falling in love is beautiful. You can fall in love with friends, family, lifestyles, yourself, etc. and all of it is beautiful because you gained the realization that you have the capacity to love greater than you thought. I’m completely honest about being a loving and mushy person. I come off as having a hard shell and then as soon as you know me, you know that I’m a mush. I love love. I love everything to do with love, thank you Pisces cusp. The biggest thing is being open and honest enough to keep each other clued in. 

Don’t be scared to fall front, fall back or not fall at all. We’re human, it’s what we’re made to do. So let’s just live with a lot less judgements, a lot less restrictions and much more openness.

Accountability, Gratitude & Accepting the Love We Deserve

Hello Faithful Blogosphere! I’m sorry to have been gone for a few days. What had happened was, I got sick not just in my body, but in my soul as well, and I had to take a second, recoup, regroup, and get my damn life. BUT, what’s funny is that even though I’m still recovering and working towards where I want and need to be, I feel SO GOOD! Lemme not get too far ahead of myself. Backing up.

Three of the biggest lessons currently being learned that I see among myself and my friends at this juncture of our 20’s is accountability, gratitude and accepting the love that we deserve. Let’s talk about and dissect each one slowly, shall we?

Accountability. According to my dear friend Merriam-Webster:

Accountable (adjective): 

required to explain actions or decisions to someone

or

required to be responsible for something

So what’s so important about being required to explain ones actions or decisions to someone, to be responsible? I’ve thought about the times in which being accountable and being vulnerable go somewhat hand in hand. To be accountable, to admit my wrong-doings or my mis-understandings is to be vulnerable. I admit that I am not super-human. I am human and therefore fallible. I fucked up. Now, how do we move forward? The people that I’ve seen who have a really difficult time with accountability?

White people, who fail to admit their role whether willing or unwilling in the oppressive world that we live in.

Men, who oppress the women around them by staying silent during cases of misogyny or refusing to listen when being called out.

White Feminists like Lena Dunham, who don’t understand their role in refusing to assist their black and brown sisters in the fight for equity and equality.

Americans who turn the other cheek when the government decides to build a huge pipeline over the sacred grounds and homes of Native American peoples.

The list can go on forever, but the point isn’t to point out a negative with no solution. The point should be to take stock of the oppressive structures, and gather to find a solution. The hardest point of taking accountability in your 20s for myself and my friends is that I think it requires great maturity. As 20-somethings, we don’t really have that yet. It’s so much easier to blame others, to refuse to bend or to label things “good” and “bad” in an attempt to establish a false sense of hope. This particular thing is good, therefore it must be done and this particular thing is bad, therefore we stay away, right? That only works in a perfect world where humans aren’t fallible.  Accountability doesn’t care about good and bad. Accountability just is. Either you stand up or you sit down.

We as human beings are responsible for our own happiness. There is never going to be a moment where someone else takes our lives and our happiness into their hands unless we let them, and even then, you are letting them have that power. At any moment, we can stop. It all leads to accountability. How do we remain responsible for our lives and our actions even as they lead us to feel such harsh and sometimes cruel emotions? Then, what if we factor in the oppressive structures? If black people are being shot and killed daily, do I really have the choice to be happy? I think it isn’t as clear cut as it seems. The world is hard, but I don’t think being “harder” always makes a life worth living.

Moving on to gratitude. In the midst of being accountable, I’ve experienced great moments of gratitude. Let’s consult my dear friend again.

Gratitude (noun):

a feeling of appreciation and/or thanks

Along with learning how to be accountable, I’m learning rapidly how to be grateful for the moments of calm, blessed moments that seem to speak to my spirit. In the midst of great oppression, I’ve experienced great joy. I can be thankful for those moments and those kindred spirits, without erasing my oppression.

So far, in my almost month in Los Angeles, I have met some amazing human beings. I’ve also met some people that aren’t going to make it to the friend status. Being able to spot when and how compatibility works is so crucial. Sometimes, we have to set people free to welcome others. I’ve also heard from people that I haven’t heard from in a while. Friend break-ups that return. How do we stay in a state of grace through the constant fluctuation?

A lot of my friends start the day with affirmations. Gratitude for waking, Love for the world and the day, Abundance for the world has much to give you. These affirmations, do they turn into wishes, reality, hopes and dreams or are they just something beautiful to remind us that we are in fact alive?

For the final topic and probably the biggest that weaves together all previous is accepting the love we deserve. At 24 years old, I’m aware of the love that I’ve received from friends, family, significant others and most recently myself. Does it all match up?

I don’t know how many of you have been tuned into the world via Astronomy, but we are in an interesting time right now in the month of September. Mercury is in retrograde and we just had a Pisces full moon. Why is this significant? Well, Mercury in Retrograde makes everything go haywire. You might see people that you would never in your life expect to see, you might trip over nothing and break your nose, you might lose your keys only to have them returned by a dog who found them in the sewer. Anything is possible and believe me it’s wacky. The full moon always brings us as human beings closer to what many believe is the line between the spirit world where spirituality and all that encompasses it resides and the world that some deem as “reality”. Who really knows? But just for flips and giggles, have you ever noticed that your body just knows when a full moon is coming? You’ll be minding your own business and look up and voila! you knew it was there but you didn’t really take stock. The sign of Pisces is one of emotions. Pisces signs feel deeply, they are incredibly intuitive, warm and at many times old souls. As a person born under the Aquarius-Pisces Cusp, I will always have great love and appreciation for the Pisces sign. The moon we just came out of was a Pisces moon, and was great for letting go, channeling in, being fully aware of emotions and feeling very much tuned into the wacky that is Mercury Retrograde.

How does this filter into the talk of loving and giving love? Sometimes, my friends and I choose to give of ourselves to people who are not compatible, yet in this new area and place in life, I feel a new sisterhood forming. Ever since I was a little girl, I heard the phrase: You have to love yourself before you love anyone else. Now that I’m older, I realize just how harmful that ideology is. So you mean to tell me that I’m not worthy of love unless I fully love myself? So my being singular is punishment because I haven’t yet learned to love my own existence? What about recognizing my existence in someone else? Loving oneself is paramount. I do not mean to diminish that. I do think that there is more than one route to discovering love of oneself. I think it is a discovery. It’s a long journey that I will personally be going on for the rest of my life. I won’t ever finally love myself because I won’t know all of myself all the time. Human beings change so often and so drastically that with each new moment in life, I fall deeper in knowledge and love of myself.

With that knowledge, I can now discern the love that I deserve from the love that I don’t. Have you ever been friends with someone and something goes a lil bit haywire in the friendship and you react in a way that past you wouldn’t have? Did you recognize the love that you deserved and that this person was giving you less than that? For myself, there are two moments. I recognize that something is up and then I do something about it. Sometimes, those moments in between are FARRRRRRR apart. How do we close the gap?

Last year, I met two beautifully spiritual and awake young people who helped me on my journey of rituals and using the earth around me. I went through a ritualistic big chop (Cutting off all my hair), calling on my ancestors for strength and then continued to have ritual moments with these beautiful human beings. In loving myself, I found my spirit finds freedom in the ritual. This full moon, I gathered two of my sisters and off we went to manifest by the ocean under the moon. Loving oneself is a slow process. Letting go is a slow process. Moving on is a slow process. Accountability and gratitude are slow processes. If we remember that we all do it and we all must be gentle as we find ourselves within each other, love wins.

Meeting a Consciously Empowered and Evolving Man & Realizing My Own Need For Growth

This post is going to feature a lil bit of my sex life as well as me being with a man. If you’re a family member and have a problem with seeing me as a sexual being, don’t read. If you don’t like that I like men and women and non-gendered people, don’t read. 

Ok! Hello Blogosphere! A few days ago, I met, spent time with and slept with an emotionally empowered, evolved, conscious and beautiful man and it changed my life forever. I usually don’t write about these things but I think being open with it is going to do more good than harm. Previous to being with him, I had gone on a year long time of being with only women and I loved it. I found these women to be beautiful, loving, sexy and in no way am I questioning my attraction to them. About a year ago, I read this article that basically said that although I spend a lot of time asking the universe for a conscious and evolved partner, when I get one, I’m not gonna know what to do with them. As much as I HATE to say it, the article was right.

For a year and a half, I’ve been steadily slacking. I allowed myself to be lax in my yoga practices, I went way off my vegetarian diet, meditation became Netflix, earth walking became driving and water quite literally became wine. So how in the world did the mixed vibes I sent out come back as a soul mate? I believe in soul mates, not one but a tribe. Throughout life, we meet these soul tribe mates and some of them become best friends, some lovers, some are our parents and some come only for a season or a day and then exit just as swiftly as they entered.

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I met one soul mate last year, met one before that, and yet I still had/have this nagging feeling that someone else is coming. That I have to prepare. What I notice is that my soul mates are usually so very unexpected. They sneak up on me.

This soul mate is different than most. He is a conscious, positive vibing, earth walking, waking up at 5am to practice meditation and yoga, jogging man who even though younger than me, was SO very much older in spirit and nothing could have prepared me for that.

I’m going to make up a name, let’s say Matthew. I met “Matthew” during my first week in LA. I was still living in my brother’s apartment, still jet lagged and still clumsy and confused about LA, even more so than I am now. Matthew had just gotten to LA a month ago from let’s say “Italy” so his english was basically as good as my Spanish-which I have to say as a side note that my spanish is pretty good for someone who grew up speaking it with her Puerto Rican best friend-but anyway, you get my point. We met, he invited me to hang out a few times but in the flurry of buying a car and finding an apartment and move-in day, I forgot about him. Then, one day, as I was sitting on my couch, I sent him a message. He responded pretty quickly with an address for me to drive to and the knowledge that although LA was a cool place, he would be moving back to Italy in two days.

So that was perfect, right?

Hang out. chill. go home. he leaves.

Wrong.

Side Note: I’ve had more than a few one night stands, and most recently I told myself that there would be no more. From now on, I would force myself to get to know someone before sleeping with them once, losing all interest and then disappearing. Let me just say before you get all judgey wudgey that sexual assault survivors find healing in various ways and many either become religiously celibate or screw everything walking. Well, I became the latter for a minute and decided to cut myself off.

I got to the address and out he comes. We get ice cream (He pays) and even with the language difference, we talk. We talk about any and everything. We talk about existentialism, life, our joys and our sorrows. He got me to do more talking in 30 minutes of ice cream than anyone in 30 minutes of talking ever. We go back to the apartment and no we don’t hook up immediately. We talk. We listen to each other’s music and we read each other.

Reading is something that my mother as well as all the older black women in my life do exceedingly well. They can look at you and tell whether you have your period, if you’re pregnant, if you’re tired, if you just had chicken, if your soul is uneasy, if you need cleansing, etc. I don’t have the capability that my mother has, but I’m not too shabby at reading when I need to. Being read by a white man and have it be accurate was unnerving and he knew it too. We talked about racism, my need for activism and the world as I see it. He didn’t understand it but he hugged me with empathy. He kept putting his hand just above my forehead where my third eye is and just holding his hand there as though sending positive energy or measuring just what was going on in that chakra.  I could see that speaking in english was wearing on him and so I told him he could speak spanish or french if he wanted to. I could understand him but I would respond in spanish or english. After hours of talking and reading, he finally kissed me. Not only that, but he asked me continually for consent. DO YOU KNOW HOW SEXY THAT IS FOR A SURVIVOR OF SEXUAL ASSAULT?! Well, now you do.

After hours of wine drinking, talking and making out, we were joined by his flatmates who were just as awake and fun as he was and as it got later and later, he asked me if I would stay. Without a thought, I knew it was a yes. We went at my pace and I was fully unprepared for what my body and spirit would go through. At one point, I remember saying, “I think we make a good team.” He responded with “I don’t think, I know.” I slept more peacefully that night than I had in the entire time I had been in LA. There were times in which I would roll away or open my eyes and see him watching me or pull me right back into his arms. We woke up and touched, slept more and repeat. Finally we woke up and all I felt was joy. I couldn’t help smiling and laughing and snuggling. “You are happy.” he said, matter of factly. “Yes! I am!” I replied laughing. He consistently asked me what I was thinking and for a while I kept saying “nothing”, because I wasn’t. I was completely in my body for the first time in a long time. We went out for chicken quesadillas for lunch because we had slept through breakfast. (He paid again) Soon enough it was time for him to pack and me to leave.

The goodbye was as terrible as most goodbyes are. He walked me to my car, insistent on seeing what I drove. He kept stopping by silver and blue cars. Cars that were cute. Suitable for a woman to drive. Freedom, my black 2008 Ford Focus was parked way down the block. Usually, I park down the block in LA and then walk up so I feel like I’m actually doing exercise. When he finally saw Freedom and me standing beside her, he exclaimed, “Of course, a black car!” and I laughed as he came close to kiss and hug me. He thanked me for staying the night, I thanked him, we kissed, once, twice. I walked to the driver’s side of Freedom and got in. He walked around with me and as I could see that he didn’t want me to go, I prepared bluetooth and started the car. He waved, walked back to the sidewalk and began to leave. Music blared from my speakers as I zoomed around the corner, honked, waved and that was it.

The unpreparedness of all of this was that it wasn’t meant to last, but also that I couldn’t meet him at the same enlightened place because I’m not at that place right now. I haven’t saged my new apartment or smudged my room. I haven’t been keeping my ritual and so what he saw was a diminished light. Yet what he saw, he still cherished. But now there’s an urge. A need to prepare myself in all ways. What if I do decide to stick to my regimen, to wake up early, to eat right and practice yoga, meditate and work out. To “go for it” as he constantly said. To actually be as old of a spirit as I feel.

 

Feeling the Spirit, Support & Giving Birth to A Nation

Hello Faithful Blogosphere! I know, three posts in 2 days, someone call help! But in all seriousness, exploring LA and the downtime that being unemployed presents, gives me so much time to think, write and of course…blog. The main topics of today’s blog entry include: Religion or lack thereof, support and what it looks and feels like to me and the recent buzz around Nate Parker and Birth of A Nation. It may be long, but hold on to your seatbelts because I promise it will be worth it!

Religion. It’s such an interesting part of our existence as human beings on this planet, isn’t it? I grew up in a Black Catholic family. For those who don’t know, basically the catholic religion with a whole lotta gospel music. It’s basically the same as Baptist Christianity with a few variations. I went to Sunday school, made all the sacraments, and went to Catholic middle and high school. Through all of this, I never not once connected with the religion or “felt the spirit” as my peers did. I hated reading the bible and I wondered where the words from women of the time period were. I hated that men were represented so strongly in the religion with only Mary, the mother of Jesus as a representative. I hated that the body and sex were seen as sin and not ways in which humanity connects and finds freedom. I yearned for my spirit to feel some sort of connection to something. Needless to say, as soon as I went to college, I stopped going to church all-together. Does this mean that I started going against the things I knew to be right? Nope. My moral compass worked just fine. So why did I need religion to guide me? I found spirituality. As Ntozake Shange said “I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely.

For anyone out there who is religious, I do not mean to down your beliefs. I simply mean to say that those specific things that I endured did not work for me and my soul. I believe there to be many pros for religion as well as cons. The cons were just too weighted for my spirit to take flight. This is a perfect lead in to talking about support. What is a support system? According to Merriam-Webster, a support system is:

Support System (noun):

the group of family, friends, colleagues, or professionals available to help a person or organization when required.

As the ambiverted soul that I am, I’ve always had many friends, or rather people that I believed to be my friends. I’ve always been a big ball of energy, sometimes out of control and oftentimes just wanted to spread and receive hugs and love. In my life, I’ve experienced such profound levels of support while at the same time experiencing such levels of hurt. I used to have the hardest time with discernment. I always want to believe that people are good, so they must be coming to me with positive wishes right? WRONG. Not everyone is your support system. Support systems grow like trees. They start small and through storms and heat waves and droughts, they are tried and tested, but if they make it through, they continue to grow. Some don’t make it. Some break and snap and wither and die. In moving across the country, I’m learning just who my support systems are. I’ve had people contact me from high school to wish me well and offer an ear and instead of being spiteful or too strong, I’ve rested upon that ear, that shoulder and the warm vibes of love. Friendship knows no time. Years can pass and you can not hear from people and then all of a sudden, people can re-appear. Some of those people are good for you, some aren’t. At best, family, wether made or born into will be there if you let them.

At this point, I’m going to put a TW or Trigger Warning for those that might be affected by conversation of sexual assault. 

When I first saw a film with Nate Parker, I was a teenager and it was The Great Debaters. I thought he was cute, didn’t really understand why Jurnee Smolletts’ character would be into him but I was like “eh, support the black man I guess.” Then I saw Pride, The Secret Life of Bees and Beyond the Lights. In each, I thought his acting was on par, his looks pretty solid. I saw that he was married to a white woman and as a black woman who dates all kinds of people, I thought nothing of it.

 

Then, Birth of a Nation happened. As an Africana Studies major, I had studied Nat Turner and fell immediately in love. This man who was enslaved and took his life into his own hands. This man who fought back, who rebelled without apology, who sought freedom with everything in his heart and soul. I saw the trailer and absolutely lost my mind. This was a movie that I could sit in theaters and feel proud of. It told the truth, despite the wealth of slave narratives that seemed to be springing up, told by various points of view, very few of which by American Blacks.

Then, I heard of Nate Parker’s sexual assault history, and my heart dropped to my feet and never returned to my chest. It all made sense. Of course he had a sexual assault history, of course he’s married to a white woman, of course he makes these historical films to attempt to redeem himself when really all he’s doing is asserting his patriarchal evidence of oppression towards black women. I don’t wanna psycho-analyze or attempt to pretend that I either know or care about the inner workings of his life. My greatest concern is the willingness to support him, regardless of this history.

As a two-time sexual assault survivor, I  CAN NOT and WILL NOT support Nate Parker or any project that he is a part of. After reading transcripts and articles galore of both his involvement with the woman he assaulted and his responses to being outed, I realized that this is the norm. The black community will support the black man and leave out black women. Until this changes, we will continue to be raped and shoved into corners only to be forgotten about and oppressed by seeing our rapists unpunished onscreen.

Black women give birth to giants and then have our motives questioned. Black women birthed this country. After all, Nate Parker’s mother is a black woman. Why is it that to convince men to not commit crimes against us, we attempt to remind them of where they sprang from? Shouldn’t it just be enough that we are here, we are a part of them, we deserve love and respect with our brown skin, our deep gaze and our hurt hearts?

Miles Davis, the classic womanizer that he was, still is revered among musicians and non-musicians, black and white alike. What makes us so willing to uplift these men who clearly not only don’t care about our well-being but willingly dismiss our needs? Black women are the most likely to commit suicide and the most likely to be sexually assaulted. Who will stick up for us?

I am astonished that the conversation is taking place. I’m overjoyed that there are so many articles and vlogs and chats going on about this, but ultimately, what speaks is where we put our money. Don’t go see the film. Resist oppression.

Until Next Time Xo

 

Let’s Toast to Love, Hope & Meet Me on The Southside

Hello Faithful Blogosphere! I know, two posts in one day? Woa, she must have a lot to say today. Well, yes. I do. The last time that I went to the movies to see a film was when the film DOPE came out. That was in super early 2015. Let me clarify. For me to go to the movies and actually pay money to watch something, I have to cross off a checklist. If you’ve ever heard of the DuVernay checklist, coined by amazing director, Ava DuVernay, it goes a lil sumn like dis:

The film in question MUST have at least a black/of color director.

The film in question MUST have at least one black/of color producer.

The film in question MUST have at least one POC in a starring role that is not subservient, exploitative, demeaning and/or dehumanizing toward the POC community. 

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You may say that this is extreme, and I am…extremely vigilant about my mental health when it comes to what I choose to watch. In my early life, my mother was very adamant that I watch movies and tv shows in which I could see myself. Human or not, I needed to watch brown skinned individuals when I turned on the tv. Needless to say, I saw Roots, A Different World, Living Single, all Spike Lee films, Daughters of the Dust and all old black and white films with Lena Horne. So in my opinion, having a checklist seems only logical. I notice very quickly that if I’m not vigilant about the checklist, as soon as I watch something, I feel unfulfilled, mad because I spent my money to further not only capitalism, but a white oftentimes heterosexual way of living and frustrated because I didn’t even get any cool ideas for pieces out of it. I feel that being vigilant helps me in my activism, helps me to remain accountable and ultimately helps me to know who I am in this world.

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Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, lets move on to the film portion. I went to see Southside With You. Now for those looking at me like I’m crazy because the film’s director is not black, so many of the producers for this film were big BLACK names, that I chose to forego one of the checks on the list. After extensive research, I felt that I knew what I was getting myself into and it wouldn’t disappoint. For those who may not know, the film is a biographical romance based on the first date of Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama. That’s right people! POTUS & FLOTUS! As I was in the theater, I sat next to two friends of mine. One, highly skeptical that love like this even exists anymore, one pretty neutral about it all and me in the middle, cheesing the entire film and marveling at the power of black love in front of my face. 

One thing one must know about me. I came from a “broken” household. My mom was a single parent and I don’t even remember seeing my parents happy or loving towards each other. Both my parents remarried and when I was in college, I got to see my mom in a loving relationship. It puzzled me. So love did actually exist and this was what it looked like? I had a hard time getting comfortable with the idea of public displays of affection in a romantic way. Love with a fellow black person was completely out of my range and made me more uncomfortable than anything else. The beauty of the film, albeit the overdone Chicago accents, was the growth and projection of character. We saw Michelle as a fully flushed out woman and then we saw Barack as a fully fleshed out man. We saw them begin that spark that would turn into a loving relationship that I personally admire today. I can’t remember the last time I saw that on screen. I can’t remember the last time I saw a film without sex in it. Sex isn’t bad. Sex is good! But sometimes, I think love and sex get mixed up. Sexual energy is so very necessary to our development as human beings but it truly isn’t everything just as affection without romance can many times go flat. We need all of these representations.

But aside from the actual representations, there were such necessary themes for young people to watch. When your Auntie or Grandma tells you to listen to the old people to get the best love lessons, this is what they mean:

  1. Defensiveness will dig the biggest holes and you better have a shovel handy to dig yourself out.
  2. Love can come from the most unlikely of places.
  3. People tell you who they are, believe them.
  4. Be able to admit when you’re wrong, and do it with your humanity tuned in.
  5. Be scared of love, love can be scary, but don’t reject it. Let people in.

I remember being told these things growing up and thinking, “Whatever, half of y’all are single parents”. But now that I realize and grow and find love for myself, I know that all of these hold truth and weight.

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Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that the movie that Michelle and Barack wind up going to see in the film is Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing”. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone but I will say that the scene chosen is very calculated. We are blindsided with black love and black death next to each other and it brings so many things to mind. Even as we are hunted and killed, we continue to find love. So maybe there is hope.

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Post film, I launched into a beautiful conversation with my friends. One of them, insisted that people don’t meet like that anymore. I think they do. I think that love finds us in the strangest of ways, we just have to be open to receiving it. I think getting hurt is bound to happen, it has to. Hurt is how we learn. Most recently, I read an article that talked about why being single is hard. It’s not the reason you think. The most difficult thing is going without touch. Being touched and touching, is such an important part of being human. 80% of our communication happens not with words but with body language. With singlehood comes a lack of touch. So many black and brown women are statistically going to be single. Does this mean we lose a part of our language? As I pose this question, I think of the weekend I just had. I won’t give away too much but I will say that it was full of late nights, late mornings and lots of touch in addition to conversation, intellectuality, and love. But as soon as it ended, I felt that I had to gear myself up for the coming time of non-intimacy. But what if I choose to seek intimacy? What if life is so unpredictable that all I can do is be present and remind myself that I am fully capable of love?

Meditations on Self Worth, Love & New Environments

Hello Faithful Blogosphere! Wow, so where do I start? I’ve been in LA for two weeks now, almost three. I have an apartment with two dope ass roommates in NoHo (North Hollywood), I have a car (2008 Black Ford Focus) by the name of Freedom, I have not found a job yet, but I am applying like crazy and attempting to find myself in this world of a city.

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One word that describes this experience of the last few weeks would be “Overwhelming”. I wrenched myself from the world of the east coast, submerged it in west coast and well, it’s been REAL. There are certain spots in LA that I’ve discovered that remind me of home but for the most part, this place is an entirely new beast.

One thing that’s stood out the most is just how much more social media active people are out here. Maybe it’s just in general, but it’s kind of astonishing how much promotion there is online. I’ve never truly been a social media wiz and being here just kind of intensifies that fact.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and definitely a lot of over-thinking. It’s one of the things I do, I think myself into a hole so very often. In many ways, don’t we all? We’re conditioned to. I will say that one of the most beautiful things about LA is that I’m a 30-40 minute drive from the ocean. I think I can honestly say that I’ve been to the beach 3 times this week alone. I can’t help it. Water is one of those things that just calms me down, no matter what is going on in the outside world.

So to go back to the thinking. I’ve been thinking about and feeling a lot of love lately. Love from new people, love from family and friends and love from myself. Being in a new place forces me to ask the age old question of : “Do you love yourself?”.  Someone actually asked me the very same question the other day and it was so expected that I just stopped and froze for a second. Not in fear or self-consciousness but in actual realization.  I do love myself. I’m not anywhere near where I want to be, and sure, I have days full of doubt and insecurity but over-all, I do love who I am. I love my skin, my eyes, my lips, my voice, my personality, my weird, my silly, my sometimes guardedness, etc. All the things that have led me to who I am are human and loveable. In this society that we live in that places value on “likes” and “followers” and material wealth, how do we establish self love outside of the constant barrage of advertisement? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.

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Moving onward with new meditations, I realized, or better yet it was brought back to my attention how important travel is to me. I’ve always wanted to travel and yet a lack of money has me land locked. I don’t want to start a “career” yet. What is a career? Maybe I’m just being unreasonable in wanting to live outside every box presented but i’m starting to care less and less and want more and more. I’ve been not really creating and that makes me unhappy. I started a new short play, sort of based on true events and sort of not really but it seems that every time I sit down to write it, I can’t. How do I have writers block?! In a world where stories are abundant, how am I having a problem in writing them down?!

I miss coffee shops. It seems in LA that the only coffee shops that I find near me are Starbucks. Not on every corner, but they’re around. Also, LA is expensive so I can’t see myself writing in a coffee shop in the same way that I would in New York or even in New England. So where does my writing grow wings and fly? How does one make friends in a sprawling city? How does one embrace?

Ah, so many questions and not many answers. I suppose answers must be found, rooted out and ultimately discovered.

Until Next Time Xo