May 9, 2016

All Black Women Are Broken

A co-worker of mine sent me something called The Lemonade Syllabus. When I first saw the cover, which featured Beyonce and her signature blonde cornrows and furry top, I thought about how even though I am a Beyonce fan, this is just overkill. I always think a lot of the things involved with Bey are just too much until I really look into it and discover that it’s usually not. I think lots of people have associated her name with over the top-ness. Truthfully, she has one of the most recognizable faces in the entertainment industry, so usually it’s just a nice bait and hook. The Lemonade Syllabus is basically a composed list of artworks (novels, literature, music, film, etc.) that are about the subject of black womanhood. In the introduction, the writer ended with “To glorious healing!” which is reference to a line on the Lemonade album, a line that I found quite problematic.

When I looked at “healing” I immediately thought ‘to heal’ means that something is broken. I’m not broken! Or so I thought. When I thought of brokenness, I thought of a battered woman who has been beaten to the lowest physical and mental level of being. I thought about women who have been abused at the hands of a lover or a family member. I thought that brokenness stemmed from the hands of a person, brokenness is cut and dry. I was wrong. Upon further thinking, I realized that becoming/being broken is more than just being torn down at the hands of another person. It’s also being broken by a system, a belief, or a society. I am broken.

When I was younger, I would tell my mom that my skin tone was caramel. She would say “No, you’re black” and I would retort with “No, I’m caramel.” We didn’t argue  and she didn’t seem to be angry, she just seemed to drop it and I continued to call myself “caramel colored” for a long time. I never wanted to deny my blackness, I just wanted to deny that I was dark-skinned. I had an uncle who would constantly remind me that when most babies come from the womb, they’re really light colored or fair skinned, excluding me. He would always tell me how black I was even as a newborn. He would say it jokingly, but it affected my psyche. I didn’t want to be dark, why was I so dark? Even though my uncle ridiculed me for being dark, he didn’t break me. The idea that lighter is better or prettier has been reinforced for centuries. The media is set up to highlight lighter skinned women and worship those European features. We’re making progress but the damage has already been done.

In addition to colorism, there are other things that break black women including violence, lack of adequate healthcare, rampant black male incarceration, homophobia, lack of adequate resources, antipathy, anti-blackness/white supremacy, micro-aggressions, and the list goes on and on. Every negative issue that black people have to deal with falls on the shoulders of black women. We are the support systems, the mothers, the daughters, the aunts, the grandmothers who carry the burdens of everything this society throws at us. Black men often face the brunt of these damaging things but we are the ones to pick up the pieces and keep pushing. During most of our existence here in America, strength was the only tangible and valuable thing we had. Strength made us neglect ourselves to be strong for others. Strength made us self-harm, made us go to extreme lengths in order to have some sense of control and purpose.

All black women are (or were) broken in some way or another either from the hands of a lover or at the hands of oppression. We’ve always had to be three or four steps ahead of the losing game. We are resilient but resiliency can take it’s toll. No one is above being broken, the system founded by their fathers have us set up with dilapidated foundations. As a collective, we are all healing from things that have broken us whether it’s personal healing or from being broken by the heavy burdens we’ve been carrying all along. Let’s try not allow the struggle to continue make us bitter (easier said than done), let’s treat ourselves as if we are whole and nurse our wounds in the beauty of the glorious sun.

May 3, 2016

Introvert Thoughts (1)

I'm naturally interested in people, but one person always seems to hold my attention more than others. At any random moment in my life, I'm into someone heavier than just a simple friendship and this time is no different. I'm still wholly ruined by the Disney Princess Syndrome. My knight in shining armor is the one who has been there all along and I've been looking for him. It's going to be so obvious when I find him because that spark will light up your heart in a peaceful yet furious way. I guess. I feel things so intensely and I've been trying to convince myself to stop caring, stop feeling. Numbness is sometimes good for the soul.

I'm in my head.

"You're in your head so much, I worry about you"

I toss around minute ideas around back and forth all day and turn them into excessive (obsessive?) thoughts. My brain is a sculptor, an artist, an illustrator. It blows shit way out of proportion by painting images and carving things out into elaborate crazy ass masterpieces. How did we get here? I'm afraid to show and tell. My brain can paint an image to make even the most heartless and stoic being fall to his knees in emotional agony. I'm not heartless nor stoic.

He picked her over me. I don't care. He was never mine, he doesn't care. The rage of my jealousy did not manifest in anger or spite. I huffed and I puffed and I cried. But he is not mine, why waste tears on such? He picked her over me. Me. Who is attentive? Who is funny? Who listens? Who entertains? I care. Me. Who is not into TV, movies or obscure musical artists? Me. I love myself but I feel like I'm not well enough. It hurts when you wonder where lies the faults that make you unwanted. When Men, women or children, it doesn't matter. But I had been building this. My brain is not negative, it's a positive place, an amusement park. A Jazzland. I get these ideas of ideals. I thought he was different, I was different. The latter just not different enough. Don't convince anyone to like you--my life motto.

I'm not like her. We don't look alike but he prefers her features. Is it possible to be confidently insecure? I don't want to be her, but I want him to be the man I painted in my dreams, my thoughts. When will someone see me before they view me? I'm not sure. Life is not about men you fancy, women you fell for, the bars you hop or thoughts that never exceed your brain. I stopped looking for my fairytale a long time ago but faith proceeds knowledge and logic.

"Well how do you know he doesn't like you?"
"He said he likes her"
"But that doesn't mean he doesn't like you...You gotta tell him"
I'm not witty, immersed in culture, fictional characters are the last things on my mind and what Ph.D? Sips from my multi-colored squirt bottle.
"Yeah, you're right. We have so much in common!"
We were both alive today. Commonality. Soul mates!

I want to express to you these artistic things in my mind but I'm not good at show and tell. You fuel my anger and I smile. I ran away into the stacks, the trees...Oh God, why did you give me this gift?