MLK Day

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and inspired by the FANTASTIC episode of Black-ish this week, I wanted to post the entire transcript of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and highlight the parts I think have been conveniently glossed over. I feel like the history books have whitewashed both Dr. King and his words in an effort to make him “more palatable” and erase his legacy of radicalism. People who say things like “I agree with Dr. King’s type of protest but I can’t support rioting” miss the entire point when it comes to the revolution he lead. And let me tell you, that revolution is not over. “Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance” — quote from someone not me. So enjoy reading this and feeling uncomfortable as we look forward to this weekend, and also to the inauguration of that one guy America elected to office a couple months ago who ran his entire campaign on hate. Cheers everybody.

————————-

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

 

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

 

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

 

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

*Taken from AmericanRhetoric.com

Advertisements

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s justttttttt about that time again kiddies!! Halloween is upon us! a.k.a. The Best Holiday a.k.a. My Other Birthday. Today, my message is simple:

PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT WEAR BLACKFACE IT’S NOT FUNNY, COOL, OR A COMPLIMENT, IT’S RACIST AND IF YOU DO IT YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE, NO DISCUSSION.

Okay? Great, now that we cleared that up, happy celebrating everybody! Stay safe! Get drunk! Hook up! But only if that’s a safe place for you emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Take care of yourselves!

Oh and if you want to see my costume, stay up on my Instagram and/or come back here next week— imma do a full spread and talk about the meaning behind the costume choice. Stay tuned! #Suspense #ImsogoodatHalloween

Nope.

This is what I’m not here for:

  • Overgeneralized, amorphous calls for us all to “Love each other”.
  • People saying shit like “Can’t we all get along” or “Spread kindness” or “Love is the answer” in response to rampant police killings of black people and the subsequent reactions of their communities.
  • Other aimless Kumbayah shit.

If your calls to love one another come without recognizing, acknowledging or speaking about the institutionalized racism, police militarization, and systemic destruction of black communities that runs in our nation’s veins and has gotten us to this point, you can miss me with your bullshit.

If you had something to say about the officers killed in Dallas but remain silent on the countless unnecessary murders of unarmed black people at the hands of police, you can miss me with your bullshit.

If you are so dense and willfully ignorant as to believe that #BlackLivesMatter is anti-police (like SERIOUSLY guys?!), you can miss me with your bullshit.

I’m not here for it. I don’t want to see videos of policemen hugging little black kids in the street. I don’t want to see articles about SIX policemen picking up a TWENTY-EIGHT dollar tab for a couple who didn’t want to sit next to them at a restaurant to show that they’re really “nice guys”. Like yeah that’s great that you paid an extra $4.50 for someone else’s meal, but I don’t give a fuck about any of these individual acts of human “kindness” because it all blurs the fucking issue.

WE HAVE A FUCKING PROBLEM.

America! You! Me! And it’s not cops! We need those! I could never take that job which is why I deeply appreciate that someone would—it’s a really tough job to have. And immeasurably indispensable. But like that one lady on The Daily Show said (I’m not gonna look it up but you can if you want):

Cops are an extension of our society.

So if we’re observing an epidemic in our police departments, such as the widespread, repetitive killing of black people,

we should probably take a look at ourselves and examine how it is we individually and collectively actually view black people. 

So no, I’m not here for the let’s-all-hold-hands-and-sing-around-the-campfire bullshit. You can’t broad stroke this problem with a “love one another” and hope it goes away. This problem will require discussion. This problem will require VERY difficult introspective analysis. This problem will require finding safe places where we feel we can be vulnerable to work through the messiness, sadness, anger, and confusion.

DO IT GODDAMMIT.

Oh, and a couple last orders of business: Stop saying #BlueLivesMatter. “Blue Lives” is not a thing that exists in this world. Being a police officer is an occupation. A job. You woke up one day, decided you wanted to pursue that particular vocation, did the work, applied for the position, got it. Being a black person, by contrast, is not an occupation. Some people might like to think you can apply to be black (I’m looking at you Kylie Jenner)— you can’t. You’re born this way or you’re not. Equating “blue” lives to black lives forms an illogical argument and you sound like an idiot.

Which brings me to my next point: #AllLivesMatter. If you’re saying “Blue Lives Matter” I would dare to guess that what you mean to say, or also say, is that “All Lives Matter”. Okay. There are innumerable arguments and articles that have been written to explain in painstaking detail how and why #AllLivesMatter is bullshit and in effect, racist. I’m not going to do that here because I’m tired and I don’t owe you anything. I will say though that you should know that when you say #AllLivesMatter, you are essentially trying to silence us. Black people. I mean hey, if you’re the kind of asshole that would go to a breast cancer awareness event and start yelling about how “other diseases matter too”, or the kind of idiot that when someone says “Save the Whales” you hear “Burn the Rainforests!’, then there’s not much I can do for you anyway. But if you’re NOT that kind of asshole or idiot, you should know that saying “All Lives Matter” makes you sound like one.

You’re welcome.

Violence

I wrote a poem that I felt compelled to post immediately; it didn’t feel right to wait until next week. I may or may not take next Thursday off depending, but in any case, here is my bleeding heart:

Violence

Violence is wrought against me.
Violence is wrought against me in my body
Because I am Born of the Sun and a Woman.
Stared at like I’m inhuman,
Spoken to like I’m a child,
Touched like my body is not mine;
The violence echoes in my body.
I watch my Brothers and Sisters of the Sun killed in the streets by their “defenders”;
I watch Defenders lay slain out of frustration — retaliation.
And the violence echoes in my body.
Flex and release, vexed day and night
Under the weight, I can’t breathe.
Everybody is silent.
Everybody is silent.
Everybody is silent.

BLACK. LIVES. MATTER.

I found this list on mic.com racking up all the things a black person in America can get killed for doing. I stopped at 19 because I’m tired, but you can visit the site if you want the rest. They also generously provide links to articles about each incident, for all of you who want “proof”. Have at it:

  1. Having a broken tail light.
  2. Selling CD’s outside a supermarket.
  3. Selling cigarettes outside a corner store
  4. Wearing a hoodie.
  5. Failing to signal a lane change
  6. Attending a Bible study class.
  7. Calling for help after a car accident.
  8. Walking away from police.
  9. Walking towards police.
  10. Reaching for your ID after a policeman has asked you to present your ID.
  11. Listening to music at a gas station.
  12. Missing a front license plate.
  13. Riding a commuter train on New Year’s Eve.
  14. Holding your wallet.
  15. Walking home with a friend.
  16. Running to the bathroom in your apartment.
  17. Making eye contact.
  18. Attending a Birthday Party.
  19. Laughing

Cinco de Mayooooo!

Since it’s Cinco de Mayo, I thought it would be a good time to share a short, yet somehow always necessary, reminder to not be a dickhole and avoid participating in cultural appropriation this year. For those of you who may be lost, that means if you are not Mexican, please for the love of all that is decent, do not don a sombrero, fake mustache, Mariachi uniform (unless you are in an ACTUAL Mariachi band), paint yourself “tan”, use the phrase “Cinco de Drinko” or any other bastardization of the Spanish language, dress up as a piñata, dress up “as a Mexican”, say anything Speedy Gonzalez would say, or any other dumbass shit that we’ve all done before but hopefully have grown past. And I’m not just talking to white people—no one has any reason to wear someone else’s culture as a costume. Just because you yourself may be marginalized does not mean you get to participate in the marginalization of someone else. This isn’t “Be A Mexican For A Day!” Of course there’s nothing wrong with having a taco or drinking a margarita tonight, have as many tacos and margaritas as your little heart desires! Just don’t be an asshole while you do it 🙂

Make sense? And if you’re still a little fuzzy on the boundaries (no shame), you can literally Google “Cinco de Mayo cultural appropriation” and you’ll get a whole plethora of ideas for how to participate in the holiday in a way that’s helpful, not harmful.

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! Have fun out there!

Lemonade

Okay so we all got our wigs snatched by Beyoncé’s new visual album, right? If you didn’t, I might advise you go see a doctor to find out what the fuck is wrong with you. My Sunday was absolutely destroyed, as I spent the entire day (watched it twice) wrestling with her presentation of love, infidelity, womanhood, black womanhood, family, healing, sexuality, growth, empowerment, and probably eighteen more themes that went over my head because Beyoncé is smarter than me. Favorite part was the adapted quote by Warsan Shire between “Pray You Catch Me” and “Hold Up”. Don’t worry, I’ll share it because I love you all:

“I tried to change.
Closed my mouth more.
Tried to be soft, prettier.
Less…awake.
Fasted for 60 days.
Wore white.
Abstained from mirrors.
Abstained from sex.
Slowly did not speak another word.
In that time my hair grew past my ankles
I slept on a mat on the floor
I swallowed a sword
I levitated… into the basement,
I confessed my sins and was baptized in a river.
Got on my knees and said “Amen”, and said I mean—
I whipped my own back and asked for dominion at your feet.
I threw myself into a volcano.
I drank the blood and drank the wine
I sat alone and begged and bent at the waist for God.
I crossed myself and thought…
I saw the devil,
I grew thickened skin on my feet.
I bathed in bleach and plugged my menses with pages from the Holy Book.
But still inside me coiled deep was the need to know,
Are you cheating? Are you cheating on me?”

WHEW!!! The FIRE y’all! I got a lot to say about this quote and the bullshit women go through for Fuckboys, but because I’m not trynna start fights (at this point in time), imma keep my mouth shut. Maybe when I’m less heated I’ll write something about it, but for now, just know I see y’all motherfuckers. And Beyoncé sees y’all too.

Okay but the most salient feeling I had while experiencing Lemonade was that Beyoncé makes me SO glad to be a black woman. I haven’t always felt that way about being one, and it’s definitely been a work in progress for the last few years. But Beyoncé catalyzes that progress. I feel so fortunate to say I have that shared experience with her – to feel like when she talks about black womanhood I can relate, I can stand under that banner. I feel like I have a voice because she speaks. LOUDLY. She speaks loudly for herself and in doing so, speaks loudly for me. And I am genuinely grateful.

What the Fuck Did We Do?

You know… I don’t know if this is going to be good. I don’t know if this is going to be eloquent or if I’m going to say anything anyone hasn’t already said. I’ve been trying to think, What is it that I want to get across with this post? What do I want to communicate? And I think ultimately it’s just that I’m sad. Watching the re-enactment of OJ Simpson’s trial through FX’s series American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson was really sad. I asked myself over and over as I watched: how did he get away with this? Week after week, episode after episode, I knew the ending but I couldn’t believe it. Not even as I watched it unfold again. How did this man get off for such a brutal crime that he CLEARLY committed. Seeing it back, I was like, did he even try to cover his tracks? His, Nicole Brown Simpson’s, and Ron Goldman’s blood were all found in his car, his blood was found on Nicole’s back gate, socks containing his and Nicole’s blood were found at the foot of his bed, he left actual footprints of blood leading away from the scene, he left one glove at the scene and one at his place, witnesses saw him driving between the murder scene and his house just after the murders were committed, his driver didn’t see OJ’s car out front when he pulled up but it magically appeared ten minutes later when he came out to be picked up TO FLY TO CHICAGO FOR NO REASON IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Like mountains of evidence. Not to mention common sense stuff like the fact that when OJ was notified that Nicole had been murdered, he did not ask how.

Think about that for a second. Really sit with it.

When I first heard that pointed out on the show I was like, okay yeah that’s weird but maybe he was distracted or overwhelmed or something or other. But then I thought, what if someone told me my mom was killed? Or my best friend, or a co-worker, or even someone I don’t know, like a famous actor or musician. When someone is murdered, we ask how. What happened? What was the motive? This man was told that his ex-wife, the mother of his children, had been murdered on a random Sunday evening, and he did not ask “how?” Instead he says something like “Oh my gosh, really? Okay, I’ll take the next flight back.” What in the actual fuck.

When the show starts, it opens with the reading of the verdict in the Rodney King case played over footage of the ensuing LA riots. The worst the city had ever seen, and I say, rightfully so. I don’t feel bad for what LA went through. That part’s not new, black people are tired. We are fucking TIRED of being killed by police without consequence. Somehow that’s still a thing we have to protest, but I digress. So the show opens with LA on fire and I loved that because it set the stage. Race relations are always a sensitive area for Americans, but two years after the worst riot in one of America’s biggest cities, they were at an all-time high. Black people were not prepared to see yet another “innocent” black man taken down by the LAPD. Let alone one they grew up with, one they idolized and exalted, one who was a symbol of hope for kids wanting to make it out of the projects. To be honest, short of confession, I don’t know if there’s anything anyone could have said or done to make a jury stacked with people of color convict OJ of these murders. Which is an excruciating shame because he did it. 100%. In case that wasn’t already clear.

And I wonder what we do with that now. I wonder how people who 20 years ago stood by him and cheered him on from the freeway and sent letters of support to prison— I wonder how they feel now. Is there still a question? Are we still holding on to blind faith despite being shown incontrovertible evidence to the contrary? I think about people connected to the case who’ve passed, like Robert Kardashian and Johnnie Cochran. From what I can tell, both thought OJ was innocent at the time, how would they feel now? What about the black people who did think he did it? I feel like as the trial was going on, if you were black and you thought OJ was guilty, you had to keep quiet for fear of losing your “black card” (an expression I loathe but am using to refer to the sense of belonging to the black community.) Chris Darden, the poor lawyer called onto the prosecution team (probably largely because he’s black) was painted as an Uncle Tom in the media because of the side he was on. Turns out he was right. Everyone who thought OJ did it was right. How do we all feel now about where we chose to stand?

I think I feel a little sick. To be honest, I didn’t know much about the trial when it was happening, I was six. If it wasn’t pink, bejeweled, or emblazoned with the Barbie logo, it had 15% of my attention, tops. I knew OJ was famous, I knew he was being accused of killing his wife, but it seemed like the general consensus was that there wasn’t enough proof, which seems silly in retrospect. But I remember hearing the prosecution couldn’t prove that he had done it. And growing up in a black, albeit immigrant, household, the prevailing sense was something like “This is awful, but there’s too much speculation to pinpoint the actual murderer so I guess he shouldn’t go to jail. Also Americans are crazy.” So I didn’t necessarily see his acquittal as a victory, but wasn’t convinced he should have been convicted either. And then in 2006 he released a book called If I Did It and I was like Hmmmmmmm. Perhaps an error in judgment has been made. And then I watched this show and I was like FUCK. A DEFINITE ERROR IN JUDGMENT HAS BEEN MADE. We fucked alllllll the way up.

I remember they called this the “Trial of the Century” and I get it. It hit on almost all of America’s pressure points: Racism, Sexism, Domestic Abuse, Celebrity, Police Misconduct. To comment on the sexism aspect, let me just say, the way we treated Marcia Clark during that trial is – I was going to say “criminal” but that felt a little tone deaf for this post. But like really everyone owes her an apology. EVERYONE. The criticism that woman had to endure, from what her hair looked like, to what clothes she wore, to how she spoke – all WILDLY irrelevant to the case she was trying to present. Focus groups were called in to see how people were receiving her and no one wanted to listen to what she was saying because “she seems like a bitch.” Like! And it’s shit I know exists, obviously. It’s shit I live every day because surprise, I am also a woman. But I don’t know, I felt like yelling at this focus group WHO CARES WHAT HER HAIR LOOKS LIKE?! SHE IS TRYING TO PUT A MAN IN JAIL FOR MURDERING HIS WIFE AND HER FRIEND WHICH HE DEFINITELY DID LISTEN TO HER! But alas, when I Googled an image of her at the beginning of the series, my first thought was “Wow dear God look at that hair” and THAT, my friends, is internalized sexism, and why I, along with everyone else, owe Marcia Clark an apology.

Like I said at the beginning, the questions I asked over and over while watching this were “How did he get away with this? How did we let him get away? How was he not convicted?” One of the only answers I’ve come to, feeble as it may be, is the power of distraction and illusion. If the real life events were anything like the show (and they were, I researched obsessively), Johnnie Cochran was an ACTUAL magician posing as a lawyer by day. The man’s charisma was out of this world. He was able to take a tiny hesitation in a witness testimony and blow it out of proportion to make the witness appear wholly incompetent and/or untrustworthy. He was skilled in whipping up sentiment in and out of court, positive or negative depending on what he needed. From the moment he was brought on, he, not Judge Ito, controlled the climate of the courtroom. And no matter the overwhelmingly damning evidence, no matter what played out in court that day, he knew better than anyone that the only issue of importance was what would stick in the jurors’ minds. What their memories would not be able to shake – like OJ trying on that damned glove. Iconic. I tell ya, when that scene came up I squeezed my hands over my face. I couldn’t bear to watch what I perceive to be the biggest blow to the prosecution’s already struggling case. Honestly, watching the prosecution team on this show was a lot like watching Titanic— everyone’s happy and confident in the beginning and only the audience knows that there is looming disaster. OJ trying on the glove was the moment they hit the iceberg. You could see it on the jurors’ faces— he was practically acquitted in that instant. And then of course came Johnnie Cochran’s lovely little catchphrase: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!” Really drove that one all the way home.

Another thing I liked was that they showed OJ’s complete delusion and defiant refusal to take responsibility for any of his actions. Which I guess we could have gleaned from the fact that he pleaded not guilty for murders he OBVIOUSLY committed, but the extent of the charade was fascinating. For example, when it was mentioned in court how he used to beat Nicole (which also, didn’t realize that was a thing until I watched the show. Seriously how was this guy freed?!), or when someone pointed to him and called him a murderer, you could see him squish and squirm as if trying to physically shake the accusations from him. He had built up such a thick wall of self-importance and denial that he convinced himself everything’s okay. That he’s okay. Nothing had changed, and the trial was a mere blip on his otherwise stellar life, which he would resume once the trial ended. One of the most poignant scenes was at the end when OJ throws an “acquittal party” (ten thousand side-eye emojis), and asks his son to make reservations for him at the Riviera Country Club. His son returns with the news that he is no longer welcomed there and for a second, for one second, it begins to dawn on OJ that his life is not going to continue as it was. He quickly shakes it off, loudly announces that he doesn’t care, and scurries off into the party. I read an article somewhere essentially asking what the point of that scene was. I believe it said something like “Are we supposed to care about OJ’s fading social life?” And I’m like no! That scene is important! His social life itself is not the focus but rather it’s that this entire time OJ has been protecting himself via fantasy, thinking he could return to the life he had before the murders with his reputation unscathed. This scene finally shows the beginning of that disillusion— perhaps the only moment we get to see a glimpse of him having to face the consequences of his actions. I relished it, of course not as much as I would have relished watching him being carted off to jail, but I guess that was the best we’re gonna get. I mean yeah, I know he’s in jail now for armed robbery or whatever, but armed robbery is not the same as butchering two innocent people. AND he’s up for parole next year! Like what kind of shit is that?

So yeah, I’m sad. As I said, I knew what the outcome was going to be but it was still rough to watch. I’m sad for the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, who had to see their loved one’s murderer acquitted. I’m sad for Marcia Clark and the justice system and OJ’s children and America. I know other stuff has happened before and since then that’s also sad, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we allowed a man, who stabbed two people repeatedly in cold blood even after they were dead, to go free. Because we refuse to figure out our race problem, because we still treat celebrities like they’re superhuman, because we still low key hate women, this monster walked.

Here’s to him never getting parole and dying in that jail cell in Nevada.

Beyoncé, the Black Panthers, the KKK, Police Brutality, and Slavery

First of all, I feel like I need to apologize for not posting last week. I’m sorry guys, it’s been a bit of a rough go. Maybe I’ll write something beautiful and poetic about it when it’s over, maybe I’ll just create the largest pile of empty wine bottles the world has ever seen, who knows? I’m not gonna limit myself. But in any case, I’m sorry, and I promise it won’t happen again unless I’m like dead or something. In which case, we got bigger fish to fry, ya know?

Now onto the order of the day: Beyoncé. (duh)
A lotttttttt of people were mad about her newest video for “Formation” and subsequent Super Bowl Halftime performance where she dressed her dancers like members of the Black Panther Party.
“It’s anti-police!” they said.
“She’s using racist imagery!” they said.
“What if a white performer had gone out there with dancers in white hoods and cloaks?! There’s a double standard!” they said.
*SIGHHHHHHHHHHH* okay y’all.

Let us begin with the definition of racism. Racism describes a system, say it with me, a SYS-TEM of power in which certain groups of people are purposefully disadvantaged based on their race. It is not limited to just the belief that some races are better than others, though that is included. Some might argue that the definition I’ve presented is not the “dictionary definition” of the word, to which I would ask, as Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum did in her book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, “Who wrote the dictionary?” *sips tea* Sociologists are using the systemic definition of the word, and since they’ve actually studied this shit, I’ll take their word for it. Tim Wise actually describes it perfectly in this handy-dandy little FAQ about racism, I highly recommend reading it.

Okay, so racism is a system of power. In this system, certain groups have been given more power because of their race (we’ll call them the dominant group) which means that other groups of different races have been allotted less power (the subordinate group). Because of this set up, and the definition of racism that we discovered earlier, it is impossible for members of the subordinate group to be racist. Please hear me. IMPOSSIBLE. Can they be prejudiced? Yes! Assholes? Certainly! A combination of the two? 100%! But to be racist means to be in a position to wield the power. And members of the subordinate group will never have that power to wield, unless they somehow become the dominant group. (Also quick side note here: “dominant” does not mean “increasing in number”. Just because non-white populations are increasing does not mean that they now wield more social power – look up “Apartheid South Africa” for more on how numbers mean nothing in that regard. Had to clear that up for all you “In 2030 white people will be the minority!” assholes. Shut up.)

This is not to say that all members of the dominant group are doing better than all members of the subordinate group. As Fox News loves to remind us, Jay-Z is rich, Oprah is one of the most influential people on earth, and our president is black. I’ll even throw myself into the mix, I’ve experienced certain privileges that some white people, perhaps in a lower socioeconomic class, have not. As with literally any other thing, there are no absolutes. But there ARE overwhelming trends that point to the existence of a system of power in which certain groups of people are purposefully disadvantaged based on their race. The election of President Obama does not negate the fact that if you drive through most American communities, the richer neighborhoods are predominantly white and the poorer neighborhoods are predominantly black and Hispanic. Oprah’s success does not annul the fact that black and Hispanic men are incarcerated at an alarmingly higher rate than their white counterparts. There are success stories, but those stories in no way undermine the existence of racism, which again by definition cannot be inflicted by the subordinate group upon the dominant group.

So I don’t know if you guys know this but Beyoncé is black (SNL has a really great skit about it if you need to get caught up). All of her dancers were black. The Black Panthers were black. So already, if you’re sitting on your couch saying something about how the Black Panthers were racist, or Beyoncé is racist for dressing her dancers like the Black Panthers, you’re wrong. You’re already wrong. If you don’t understand why, please return to the top of this post and begin again. To say that dressing up as a Black Panther is the same as donning the white hoods of the Ku Klux Klan is again, WRONG. And not just “this is my opinion” wrong, I mean “2+2=5” wrong. Lacking factual support. The Ku Klux Klan is a TERRORIST ORGANIZATION founded on the premise of White Supremacy. They got together way before the Black Panthers (WHICH SHOULD REALLY TELL YOU SOMETHING) because they felt like black people should still be owned as property and now that we weren’t, we were ruining “their” country. To “fix” that, they lynched, shot, beat up, or bombed us at any chance they got.

The Black Panthers, by contrast— look, I’m just gonna straight up grab a quote from Wikipedia, zero shame: “the Black Panther Party’s core practice was its armed citizens’ patrols to monitor the behavior of police officers and challenge police brutality in Oakland, CA. In 1969, community social programs became a core activity of party members. The Black Panther Party instituted a variety of community social programs, most extensively the Free Breakfast for Children Programs, and community health clinics.” Let me paraphrase: The Black Panthers were created because they were like “We’d like the police to stop killing us” (sound familiar?) “so we’re gonna create an armed patrol to defend ourselves. Hey while we’re at it, why don’t we feed some poor kids?” That was it. And of the two (the KKK and the Black Panthers), guess which one was called a threat to national security and got disbanded by the government? Hint: it wasn’t the white guys. #America.

I think the most difficult critique of Beyoncé’s performance for me to understand though is the claim that it, or she, is anti-police. LOL pardon? As I saw on Tumblr the other day, “If ‘Stop killing us’ is anti-police, what is pro-police? ‘Keep killing us’?” It’s a good goddamn question. Shouldn’t we all be weary of the unnecessary killings of unarmed black men? Shouldn’t we all want to check police brutality? Shouldn’t the police themselves be included in that group?

Honestly the issue goes beyond all of this. It’s bigger than Beyonce or the KKK or the Black Panthers or police brutality. The issue is slavery, and America’s piss poor job of reconciling her history. The book I’m reading right now is called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, and it’s based on the importance of becoming an emotionally mature human being so you can form healthy relationships with God and all your friends. Chapter 5 is called “Going Back In Order To Go Forward”, and talks about how in order to be emotionally mature, you have to deal with your past. In order to deal with your past, you have to not only look at it but dive into it. Examine all of the painful parts of your history and draw connections to how those painful parts might be affecting your present behavior and relationships. Let me tell you, it’s not fun. No one wants to talk about how their alcoholic father got when he was angry, or how much they struggled making real friendships because they moved so often, or how their mother abandoned them. But unless you learn about yourself and your history and connect the dots when it comes to the present, you’ll be doomed to repeat it (surprise plot twist!) You’ll continue to be unable to form close relationships, or not understand why you can’t get your anger under control. And looking at your past doesn’t mean you dwell there, nor does it mean that once you’ve done it, you’ll be “cured”. Overcoming our baggage is a lifelong process, so much so that I don’t even like the word “overcoming” there because that’s impossible. More like “working with”. It will never be gone but learning to deal with it will make you better.

I don’t think this concept is far off the mark when it comes to America. There is this AWFUL history behind us and we don’t want to look at it. Sure we teach about slavery in schools, but it’s for like a week and at the end of it we get graduates who think the KKK and the Black Panther party are the same thing, or if you’re in the South, people saying things like “I mean, was slavery really THAT bad? People were taken care of!” I mean the confederate flag is still everywhere – EVERYWHERE. And people maintain that the Confederacy was created and the Civil War was fought over taxes and states’ rights, despite the Vice President of the Confederacy’s OWN QUOTE stating “Our new [government’s]… corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition.” Like if anyone knew what the Confederacy was about, it would have been that guy. And his government’s flag is currently still being sold as an iPhone case on Amazon.

There has been such great effort put towards underestimating, rationalizing, and brushing off America’s racism problem instead of facing it. Diving into it. Understanding the many painful parts of it so we stop triggering each other. And much like personal baggage, our country’s baggage is not going to go away. There will never be a time when we won’t live in the shadow of slavery, when it won’t inform every interaction between white people and black people. But ignoring it makes it worse. Contrary to idiotic belief, talking about racism doesn’t somehow “increase racism”. To be honest I can’t even find the logic behind that sentence and I’m too tired to try. But I have seen in my own life that talking and learning about my baggage has made me better. And again, it’s uncomfortable. It’s going to take a lot of listening when you want to yell, vulnerability when you want to be defensive, and open mindedness when you want to be myopic. But we have to go back to go forward, and we we have to look back to heal.

“Do You Wash Your Hair?” (“Miley, What’s Good?”)

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a party at a friend’s house. Right before everyone got up to get food, a blonde girl came up to me and said “Oh my gosh, your hair is SO beautiful!” “Thanks!”, I said back. She then followed up with: “Do you wash it?”

…..

*crickets*

……..

*side eye emoji*

……

*looks around for hidden camera*

For everyone who’s missed the implication of her question, this woman has essentially just asked me if my hair is clean. Do I bathe? Do I participate in normal hygiene practices?

After glaring at her with the shade of a thousand redwoods, I slowly, and in my most condescending tone, managed a “…..yyyyyyeeeeeeaaaaahhhhhhh………” Upon realizing she had possibly offended me (while also being slightly confused as to how I’d been offended), she offered “—I mean, well I just meant like how?? Just cause it’s so—“

Now before I explain how I put her out of her misery, let me just make a couple comments here. First of all, “do you wash” and “how do you wash” are two VERY different questions. The first implies, as I said, that there is a good chance—good enough for me to ask—that you do not wash, which I shouldn’t have to point out is extremely insulting.
The second question, though better because it at least assumes the premise that you DO wash your hair, is still problematic because –and let me make this very clear: IT. IS. NONE. OF. YOUR. BUSINESS. Bitch I don’t even know your name yet and you’re gonna come at me with questions about my cleansing habits? Fuck outta here.

Unfortunately, it’s not like this is a new thing for me. Being the only black girl in most of my social spheres for most of my life has led to innumerable inquiries, both polite and less so, about my hair and/or hygiene. But here’s the thing I want us to all understand: Black girls, or any other marginalized group for that matter, are not here to be your informational guides to how they live their lives. I have no obligation to explain to you the (often arduous) process of getting my hair done, or if it’s real, or how I maintain it, or how much of it is mine, etc. That’s none of your business, and you can have a seat. Transgendered people do not have to tell you if they’ve had “the surgery” yet. That’s none of your business, and you can have a seat. Hijabis do not have to tell you what’s under their hijab. That’s none of your business and you can have a seat. And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be curious and ask about other people’s cultures or practices that differ from ours in order to expand our own perspectives. Curiosity is different. Curiosity is welcome. But certain curiosities can also be cured by Google. If you are REALLY that interested in how I get my hair done or how I clean it, Apple produces a lovely little pocket-sized computer that makes phone calls and everything! I’m sure most of you have one, feel free to use it. And if you do find yourself wanting to ask someone about themselves, all I ask is that you first make sure you’re doing so with respect. Like for example, a better way to go about this conversation would have been the following:

“Oh my gosh your hair is so beautiful!”
“Thanks!”
“Yeah wow, it’s so intricate, taking care of it must be a lot of work”—

At that point, I could either choose to say “Yeah, it is” and end the conversation, OR if I wanted, I could go into all the things that I do to take care of my hair. Either way, she has expressed appreciation for my hair and admiration for how I maintain it, without low key accusing me of being unclean. See how easy that was?

ANYWAY, so we’re still standing next to each other trynna get food after having this horribly awkward encounter, and I assume, in an attempt to ease the palpable if not suffocating tension, she starts to make small talk about the spread. As you may have guessed, I had ZERO interest in continuing any communication with this broad, but I noticed this super interesting thing happened: all of a sudden, even though this girl had totally been an idiot and offended me, I felt like I had to be nice to her to avoid being seen as (perhaps yet another) “unfriendly black girl.”

AND HEREIN LIES THE FUCKED UP THING ABOUT RACISM (well, one of them):

Something racist happens. Someone of color has been rightfully upset. But by some CRAZY twist of pure fuckery, the offended ends up being the one taking care of the offenders feelings, lest the offended be deemed as “having an attitude problem” or “not a team player” or “hyper-aggressive” or my personal favorite: the “Angry Black Woman”. So here I was, the only black girl at this party, I had just basically been called dirty by this bitch standing next to me, and I’m having to make dumbass quips about potato chips in order to avoid the Angry Black Woman stereotype. Ain’t that some shit. I cannot TELL you how many times I’ve heard a white person say, in one way or another, something like “I dunno, I just feel intimidated by black people, they’re kind of scary. I tried to say hi to a few of them once and they were unfriendly.” And I’m like, WELL DID YOU SAY SOME STUPID SHIT?! Did you walk up like “AY YO WASSUP PLAYAAAAA?!” and try to make a “cool” hand-shake happen that neither of you had previously agreed upon? Did you ask if watermelon was their favorite fruit? Did you ask if they make Kool-Aid at Thanksgiving? (Actual thing that happened on a Fox News segment) Did you ask them if they had a father? Did you use the N-word? DID YOU ASK THEM IF THEY WASH THEIR HAIR?! Lol LIKE. Come onnnnnnnnnn y’all it’s not hard. I know we’ve all been fucked over by this racist system our country’s been steeped in since its inception and it makes things weird but it doesn’t have to be. All you need is common sense and mutual respect. Maybe ask someone’s name first before diving into their hygienic routine. Maybe ask them what they like to do, what music they listen to, where they got their sweater. There are a LOT of ways to build bridges here people. Asking if someone washes their hair is not one of them.