self-reflection

LIFE WILL LOOK BEAUTIFUL, AGAIN

A very short message on dwelling in negativity and remembering beauty:

Sit down on your couch, beanbag, lawn chair, mattress, tile, floor, street and think about your life. Think about all that your life entails: the chaos, the wonder, the tribulation, the climbs, the leaps. Especially the leaps.

Wait – now, I was told to do this very same thing by a peer of mine at school. He said just think about your life and reflect in order to restore the aspects of your life you deemed beautiful. He urged me to dig deep in order to discover the hidden mystery of why my life looking a little estranged, distant, different, and frankly — hideous. Diving into some areas of life just isn’t possible when your mind does not allow you to enter those parts. Your mind will funnel destructive thoughts in as it packs bags for the compliments waiting to be rested upon you. Some nights I lay away wondering when the faint memories will rush from the back of my head into the front of my eyes so that I am able to confront that ugliness that has made its home here. On the nights that I am able to take a piece back with me to contemplate on, I am left in ruins wondering what ruined me. I wondered what had gone so wrong in my privileged life in order for me to ever witness such ugliness, so near and full of youth. Telling me to timely think about the past influenced me to fall into a victim mindset.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion:

“Reflection is good, but I need more than reflection. I need reform.”

So, for now embracing a different routine that allows me to think about my life in a positive, reflective way without getting lost in old photo albums and childhood nightmares. Looking back on past scars and being able to say, “yeah, that was pretty fucking tough. I thought I was going to die. I know I will not feel that way in that situation again” became a goal of mine. It is best that we look back at things for what they were and do not do too much contemplation and explication. Somethings cannot be thoroughly explained, and some things are not meant to be. In a way, seeing lapses of my childhood in fragment makes for a cinematic finish. Maybe one day I will sit and be able to write about the times I sat on my couch and reached some of those memories in a journal while drinking wine and rubbing my beautiful new Akita. Until then, I am left to remember this.

Do not worry yourself too much. Your life will be beautiful again, just in different ways.

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Uncategorized

“You can’t truly love someone if you do not first take the time to love yourself.” These phrases sound like canned commercials with the only chance of implementation lying with the practice of baking and bronzers, but love has no shimmery look.

I’ve tried wearing rose-colored glasses in the dark and it did nothing to shield me from what was to come. I remember – I was sixteen and in my first (what I thought was serious) relationship and nobody could tell me a damn thing about love. I knew all about love already, I had it all figured out on my own, and I knew who I wanted to give all my love to for the rest of my life. Well, I believed I knew what loves meant and what it meant to embody love.

I had bruises, a broken spirit, and a tender heart to show for it. I spent too many nights soaking pillows and throwing fists against walls to not know what love is. This energy I was investing in this relationship and on this person was inadvertently draining me and taking my attention from other important life goals. This must be love.

Because what else is all this destruction for? I fought off demons to maintain these feelings. I stabbed at old wounds to revive what existed between the two of us. Swinging moods and arms became routine when the family would ask me about my love. I would tell them, they just do not understand what it feels like to love so hard it hurts. They kept ensuring me that it was my own love I was looking for.  Sneering at anyone who dares say I am incapable of loving just because I don’t “actively practice” self-love, I found myself wanting to keep these feelings of love under wraps. I wanted to work on the love between him and me in silence since everyone was just so doubtful that this could be love.

It was love because I said it was love. Do not even think about interjecting your wisdom saying about seeking love in the wrong places – I have heard them before.

And finally, the silence was broken by cries from things others than love. Dishonesty, malice, hatred, uncertainty, jealousy, made themselves known just when I believed love encompassed them all.

Love was not hurt, but sometimes love hurts.
The time I spent loving him, was actual time spent hating myself. I don’t know how but my dislike for the way I was treated by him only highlighted the things I didn’t like about me. It wasn’t until I awakened in a room that wasn’t mine to recognize a face that wasn’t mine, and a spirit that wasn’t either. Who are you?

Years later, I am still learning the basics of dating myself. Taking myself out for ice cream on random nights, reading my favorite novel, crying my favorite cries. Putting makeup on simply to take photos and tell myself I’m hot shit.  Dancing in the mirror or in store aisles. Singing-off tune to r&b. Writing down my feelings for everyone to somehow feel but never read. Setting standards. Setting expectations. Setting curfews. Making trips, making moves. Kissing my wounds. Smiling at my own jokes. Shuttering at my own smile. Talking myself out of a black hole. Telling myself it will be okay. Placing ice packs on bruises. Putting gloves over sharp fist.

It is difficult transforming from an abuser of yourself to a lover. The hardest person to get along with and sustain a healthy, lasting love, is yourself. when love has a look, it will be me. 

YOU SHOULD GO AND LOVE YOURSELF

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blackhistory, Uncategorized

“THAT’S RACIST!”

If one can agree that chattel slavery existed (and still exists) around the world, you would think that one could agree that racism exists as well. Unfortunately, many people would like to believe that racism is simply an ideology that people made up in the 2000s to divert from some “real” problem, like the ending of the world, who wins the next Super Bowl, or animal cruelty. It is unfortunate that black people are still attempting to convince others of their situation – but here we are, still preaching about the injustices and mistreatment of our people. Because I am totally sick of reiterating myself to people who do not even know the basics of our lovely American history, here are five things to remember about racism:

Now, slavery has existed around the world since the beginnings of time in one way or another and began being considerably recognized during the rise of the Roman Empire. It was not until the discovering of the New World (or the “new world” for European eyes) 1492 by Christopher Columbus that chattel slavery became normalized across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and many discussions. He became the first white man since the Vikings to travel to unfamiliar lands. It has been proven that he did not discover the Americas, but he did bring awareness to all of his European buddies about the brown people living in San Salvador, Dominica, and Hispaniola. Columbus actually ended up carrying some of these brown people (against their will) to work as slaves, before knowing the legality of chattel slavery at the time. Prior to 1492, there had been slaves transported from Africa consistently to European countries, particularly Portugal (1441).

Slave Trade
Small visual of the slave trade that began in the late 1500s. Most slaves were not transported to North America, but to South America.

The sugar-slave complex (1452) is the birther of chattel slavery, and perhaps the complex that changed the world. Sugarcane was first planted and harvested in Madeira, Portugal and people went nuts. People could now have people work for free on plantations harvesting sugarcane. Since then, economics and race relations have never been the same. Even though other forms of unfree labor were familiar in Europe throughout its history, historians see chattel slavery differently because slaves are seen as commodities that are being bought and sold rather than them solely treated as servants doing work. Even further than this, chattel slavery being brought to brown countries with brown people gave way to the birthing of colorism.

Colorism is racism, too.

download-2.jpgColorism (which is the belief that lighter your complexion is the better), perpetuates racism. Colorism is a sub-category of racism, and is the “prejudice” aspect of what makes racism. It is the idea that having mixed children absolves prejudice and eliminates the possibility for socially ‘unattrimages-2active’ offspring. It is the idea that having lighter complexion gives you a softer look and even softer personality. It is the idea that having darker skin makes you dirtier, more likely to commit a crime, more rugged, less refined. It is hearing Kodak Black reiterate words about dark black women being “too gutter” or hearing the constant praise of mixed-race people. It is putting European phenotypes on a pedestal and forcing contouring kits down throats. The fetishization of mixed children is sometimes looked at as proof that implicit bias still exists. If you place racial bias in any setting where there is power, racism is created.

Having mixed children can not, and will not “fix” racism.

First of all, there is no real way to “fix” racism unless you are strengthening it since racism is a powerful construct. This means that racism is defined as ‘prejudice plus power,’ which could not possible by knocked down by mixing phenotypes and genotypes. The correct way to end racism is to completely decimate the source. In essence, the only way to destroy racism is to stop teaching it. The roots of slavery lie in the history of not only our nation but the world. Colorism was spread as quickly as produce across borders, and the repercussions are still seen today.  

Reverse racism does not exist

Remember,

Racism = power plus prejudice

Before you get ahead of yourself, think again “what does it mean to be racist?” well, based on the idea of racism as a power construct, a racist would be someone who promotes its power and each. Now, don’t get me wrong – racism is not only black and white – but I will say it is white, and whatever else isn’t white. Based on our good friend history, racism was not created until European travelers decided to sweep some brown nations and see what is up over there. Because that is when and how racism was created, I believe it is safe to say that white people (Europeans) created racism in order to control people and make an economic profit. You cannot be racist if you do not hold power, however, you can be prejudiced, bigoted, and biased if you are not white. If someone black discriminates against someone white because of their skin color, they are subjecting someone to prejudice but not racism. It is important to understand how racism works because it is the only way to know how to stop its impact.

Slavery birthed racism, and racism is still seen today

If you ever believed that everyone in this world was treated equally, you were not only optimistic – but perhaps naive. Battles fought, lives lost, words written, songs sung, etc. cannot be undone and each has their own place in the world. What occurs throughout history has a direct and indirect influence on how we view, and what we view in the world. Slavery reached its hand in history and gave way to Jim Crow Laws, redlining, and Tignon Law. If racism was a thing of the past as soon as one deemed it so, we would not continually see new cases where minorities had to fight for their rights. It is seen in cases like Dred Scott Decision (1857), Strauder v. West Virginia (l880), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Korematsu v. United States (1944), Sweatt v. Painter (1950), Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Levy v. Louisiana (1968). Other cases of justice and injustice based on racial struggle can be seen with a click of a mouse or keyboard. Although others stand in agreeance that America has yet to real racial equality, we have long ways to go.

African-Americans have been enslaved longer than they have been emancipated in this country, yet we are continually having the debate over whether the consequences of racism are still prevalent and/or detrimental. Most African-Americans (or black people in general) are only a couple generations from slavery. In fact, my great-grandmother is still alive and was a sharecropper in Mississippi. At the same time, families that used to own black slaves were able to build legacies, leave homes, and generate economic wealth. Matter of fact, this wealth is still being distributed and disbursed. 

You cannot “fix” racism because it must be destroyed not mended

The first step to dismantling racism, eliminating prejudice, and removing hate are to discuss history – literally. Read history and weep until it hurts, because people are still hurting from ignorance. If there is one thing that is sure, it is that ignorance is a breeding ground for control and compliance. 

Read up on American history, talk with people about their experiences, knowledge, and feelings, and most of all – work on yourself. Feed yourself knowledge. Here are a few articles I found pretty neat about the eerie history of our country:

“10 Eeerie Slave Hauntings of the Deep South”

“In Charleston, Coming to Terms With The Past” 

“Is There A Right Way To Put Slavery Onscreen?”

“Slave Stories”

Stay woke, everyone.

 



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