Positivity amidst the struggle

I’ll always share pertinent information. I know everyone is not the protesting ‘type.’ I support protests of all forms because they all have their place/ purpose in the revolution. But what I want to know is what people across the country are doing in their daily lives and their communities to combat the racist status quo 24/7/365. Let’s do a little less judging and a little more building. I think we could all use some good news. Comment with how you or someone you know is making a difference! Tag 3 people to do the same. We need to spread some positive vibes to combat the sadness and negativity that comes with knowing the truth. Don’t let the hopelessness you feel in the moment deter you from taking action. We all have something to contribute! #PositiveVibes #ChangeTheNarrative #EverydayActivism #BruisedButNotBroken #BlackLivesMatter #BaltimoreResistance #BaltimoreRiots #FreddieGray   

Consider this before criticizing the Baltimore ‘Riots’

Everybody shook to get out in the streets or let their children do the same, do you realize the fear you feel for your/their safety in the presence of law enforcement is exactly why these people are out there?
Have you considered that no police murder ever occurs at a protest? No matter how much the word ‘riot’ is thrown around somehow police come out of these nearly weekly basis situations with scrapes, bruises and a ‘reportedly’ broken nose MAX after ‘clashing’ with groups of people the world SWEARS are out for blood. If that’s what we wanted don’t you think there would be more than Rock throwing going on? Meanwhile we are murdered in cold blood by civilians and police alike in alleyways, #RekiaBoyd at gas stations #JordanDavis and in our very own beds #AiyanaJones and bathrooms #RamarleyGraham 
Could it be the witnesses to the commonplace provocation of peaceful protesters at these actions, and media cameras (as opposed to camera phones) everywhere deter them from using lethal force? And this causes them to stick with excessive force and use intimidation, tear gas and the threat of arrest- which they always follow through on to disperse crowds of concerned and outraged citizens once they have enough footage to turn a revolt into a ‘riot?’ 
(I mean seriously- what would the news coverage be without a few roughed up cops and no one arrested? Folks might actually think there was a 99% peaceful protest happening!) 
Also consider how little media coverage these stories would even be getting if it weren’t for the burning cars, thrown rocks and looted stores. Yall sitting here acting like #Ferguson is the first city to EVER have a race issue manifest itself in the policing of Black and Brown people. Before that it was like, #Sandford ! Woah! They’re crazy in Florida! #TrayvonMartin but really the situation has always been present and communities of color have always advocated for themselves and their  communities. Of course that’s not the story they’re selling, but anyone with a true stake in humanity and the humanity of others is looking at this situation and the coverage of it very critically, making looting and property damage a small detail in a much larger picture.
No one looted or ‘rioted’ in the name of #NatashaMcKenna, #YuvetteHenderson, #OtisByrd or #LennonLacy. Consider that’s why they are not household names. 

Why your resistance to the Baltimore resistance is misguided.

I see a side of the Black community the media will NEVER report on YEAR ROUND. 
We are building 24/7/365. Home schooling and becoming educators to teach our children the truth and how to love themselves and know their history. 
Launching everything from daycares to salons to restaurants to healthy eating initiatives to community exercise programs to book stores to cruelty free beauty & clothing brands to keep the black dollar circulating in the black community and become self sufficient so we can disassociate ourselves from the interconnected systems of capitalism, colonialism, consumerism and racism. 
We are creating spaces full of love for one another and decrying the destruction of black lives & livelihoods regardless of the source of destruction. 
We are organizing against ‘black on black crime.’ 
We are organizing in solidarity with other marginalized communities because we know all too well the destruction of biased reporting, misrepresentation, erasure and state violence as a tool to silence. 
We are praying, petitioning, lobbying, writing, reading, creating, building, organizing and everything you would suggest ‘instead of’ protesting or rioting. 
Black Folks say ‘protests are pointless’ but what’s your alternative? 
White folks say ‘rioting solves nothing’ but what’s your suggestion once you realize we have literally tried EVERYTHING EXCEPT fighting fire with fire? 
I’m not a proponent of violence, but not one of you, black, white or purple, can suggest a tactic the black community has not already tried throughout CENTURIES of exploitation, degradation, dehumanization and unspeakable violence. 
Violence we live in fear of to this day, every day, because NOTHING ELSE HAS PROVEN BENEFICIAL. Strides have been made towards equality, sure, but new ways to disenfranchise the Black community are created every day. 
I’m not really sure how anyone who understands all of this could make it a point to wag a disapproving finger at kids in the street throwing rocks and destroying objects with no parents, dreams or souls but never once utter a word against the initial and historical brutality against them and people like them that sparked such rage.
Be clear. Property destruction came AFTER having rocks thrown at them by law enforcement, being called niggers and told to go back to Africa by bystanders and being stuck in the presence of aggressive police wearing riot gear (because transit had been purposely shut down leaving them stranded.)
Naturally that was not a part of the nightly news report. 
Imagine living in constant danger/ fear and working toward changing your situation with members of your community by spreading awareness through direct action. Imagine planning to simply make your voice heard and being met with verbal and imminent physical aggression. Imagine staring someone in the face as they insult and belittle you on a level most will never experience. Imagine ALL that and ask yourself:
How much could you take before you SNAPPED?
Rioting is NOT us snapping by the way. Rioting is us attempting to give police a chance to stop murdering us in the street. Its us giving the criminal justice system a chance to actually put a killer cop or two away. Its us giving the government a chance to pass comprehensive legislation that would restructure this wicked system into one worth supporting. It’s us giving bystanders and onlookers across the world the opportunity to stand WITH us as opposed to sitting idly by and soothing themselves by saying the police have a hard job and the crime in our communities is an inherent character flaw and not the product of a well designed power structure. It’s us releasing our fury on PROPERTY as opposed to PEOPLE. 
We have not snapped yet. We should have snapped. We COULD have snapped. Instead we steal Cheetos and break store windows. We light cars on fire in response to the MURDER OF MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN and STILL it us US who become the animals, criminals, savages, monsters.
Is murder no longer a crime?Should petty theft and property damage be able to override a conversation about systemic and systematic genocide that has apparently become LEGAL?
These are the questions people.
Not ‘how come those black people cant put their heads together calmly and stop their own murders?’
THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS.

And Neither you nor Sway has the fucking answers.

A message to #TeamNatural

Posted this on the LocLoveLivesHere Instagram with the following caption:
Pic stolen from @locsntatts As mainstream acceptance of natural hair begins to grow the loose curly fro is being heralded the new black girl beauty standard leaving other textures and styles like Locs on the outskirts of the beauty conversation. Natural is natural and whatever the creator saw fit to grow out of your scalp is perfect as is. Maintenance, not radical change to its texture- that’s the key! #NaturalHair #TeamNatural #LocLoveLivesHere #BlackHairMatters #NaturalBeauty #BlackBeauty #SelfLove #SelfAcceptance

Someone responded that people can like what they want and asked ‘why should 4a support 4c?’
To me, that’s like asking why black men should support black women or why our elders should support our youth. 
Creating division and playing favorites within a movement that is supposed to be about self love and acceptance is counter productive. Then the natural community becomes guilty of the same exclusion and lifting up of one particular beauty standard as the mainstream beauty community. 
I know everyone who is natural is not some pro Black revolutionary and for some people it’s just an aesthetics thing. But We should all consider the implications of constantly creating categories and dividing ourselves from one another, even in what are supposed to be affirming spaces. 

 

Respectability politics be damned

Don’t let anyone convince you our clothing, dialect, demeanor, compliance, education, status or anything else will save us. What MIGHT help you out of one encounter will not save you or the next man/ woman/ child from conflict, violence or even death at the hands of individuals, institutions or the systems that keep them in place. That’s not to say I won’t have ‘the talk’ with my 7 year old brown skinned baby boy when he gets a bit older or that I won’t instill self love in my kinky haired 2 year old daughter and encourage her to ignore all the stereotypes she’ll encounter as a light skinned black woman, but I do want them to be proactive, rather than passive in creating a world worth living in for themselves and their children. Preparing our youth doesn’t mean teaching our boys how NOT to get shot or our girls NOT to be objectified, because they do not cause these phenomenon. How we are perceived and commodified across the world creates a picture of us where our women are sex toys and our boys are a problem to be dealt with violently. This is by design. As a result of knowing how the game is rigged we often waste time telling our women not to twerk and our men to pull their pants up but there are more pressing matters. What is ASSUMED about us because of the characteristics associated with baggy clothes and perceived ‘lewd’ behavior is again, by design. So ask yourself, how does judging your sister for dancing a certain way or your brother for dressing a certain way advance the struggle? How will posting a meme of natural vs relaxed women stop the police murders every 28 hours? Are you trying to create meaningful dialogue and be the change you want to see in the world or do you just want to avoid being stereotyped as ‘ratchet?’ Something to think about. We need to stick together. We all we got. Keep in mind ALL black lives matter. Not just the ones we agree with or think make us look good. 

 

Little Rue teaches us all a grown up lesson about appropriation

Showing lots of love to @amandlastenberg the 16 year old actress (Rue-Hunger Games) who is making waves with a brilliantly executed, historically contextual, articulate and eloquent video she made about the difference between cultural appreciation and appropriation and some very popular artists who, love them or hate them, are guilty of it. So many people in the entertainment industry are terrified to speak truth to power, so for a young woman to not only have this knowledge, but be willing to share it and run the risk of being misunderstood (as we always are when we speak the truth) is simply fantastic. If she’s making videos like this at 16 I can’t wait to see what she’s doing at 20,  30 and beyond. I remember people saying insane things to her online when she was just 12 because they felt like Rue in the Hunger games wasn’t ‘supposed’ to be Black. Even then she handled herself with such class, grace and maturity. Young women like @amandlastenberg @zendaya and other black girls who rock and aren’t afraid to speak on the issues that effect them and the world at large are the reason YPOC exists, to empower all our kids that way. You don’t have to play dumb to be successful and you don’t have to adhere to any rules you haven’t set for yourself to be beautiful. I’m inspired by these youth. Look to them before casting the next generation off as ‘lost.’ Let’s be sure to lift up our kin folk when they speak truth, especially those that have made it into and are surviving mainstream success. These are the people we need in the limelight.  

http://www.elle.com/culture/career-politics/news/a27877/amandla-stenberg-explains-cultural-appropriation/

 

How Janelle Monae’s ‘Yoga’ set me free

I have quite literally been given life by Janelle Monae’s newest video for ‘Yoga.’ I’ve been given permission to be intelligent, Afrocentric AND trill which is often made to be an impossible feat. You’re either a Queen or a thot, Afrocentric or a hood rat, and there is absolutely positively NO middle ground. This is infuriating as a woman who is a mother, educator, activist AND artist. You sit there wondering which shoots you ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ do based on how people will perceive you based on a single post or photo. You delay the release of your album repeatedly so as not to lose clients if they deem your content unacceptable. (You can’t tutor my kid talking that Black power crap!) But no more. I’ve been touting this ‘unapologetically multidimensional woman of color’ description of myself for years now but I’ve always secretly felt the need to hide my appreciation for certain things so I don’t appear like a ‘stereotypical’ black woman. Which is of course pure bullshit. Since this is effecting me the way it is I can only imagine how girls younger than myself, coming into their own and trying to get comfortable in their (beautiful, brown) skin are being effected by it. So shout out to Queen Janelle for the gentle reminder that this life is mine and I need to live it fully and unapologetically. ‘You cannot police me so get off my areolaaaa!’ -@janellemonae #JanelleMonae #Yoga #BlackGirlsRock #MusicMonday #SelfReflection #CriticalThinking

  

So ‘Bae’ means turd huh? Well not in the hood

I get very irritated when I see people go out of their way to trivialize and mock the speech of young/ urban people. I don’t care what bae or FLEEK supposedly mean in another part of the world. People walk and drive on different sides of the street and have completely different mannerisms & traditions. You wouldn’t go to where they are and suggest that their actions and beliefs are weird or stupid so why constantly chastise these kids for using the language they are exposed to and growing up with? I just don’t get it. Each and every one of us speaks some form of slang whether it’s a broken version of our native tongue, a mixture of that with English or words and phrases that may be grammatically incorrect but are widely understood such as pronouncing and even writing ‘out of’ as ‘outta’ or ‘going to’ as ‘gonna.’ No one is trying to make you feel stupid for that. Lay off these young brown people man. You so worried about how they speak take your ass down to your local boys & girls club and become an English tutor. Otherwise have your ass a seat while I talk to my students about their baes and how their Easter outfits were on FLEEK while discerning the appropriate situations to use that language and formal language. It’s all about the situation. These babies are not obligated to speak the King’s English when they are hanging out with their friends or talking smack online. I implore everyone passing judgement to remember Their youth. You did not walk around speaking job interview dialect 24/7. I’m just saying. Language is like music. Some you’ll like, some you won’t. Some you will understand, some you won’t but it works for someone and it’s not for you to say they shouldn’t like it just because you can’t see the value in it. 

YPOC Mothers Day Brunch Reminder

Please join us at #Buka #NigerianRestaurant Saturday May 9th for a #MothersDayBrunch where we will discuss how we can come together as a community of women of color with children, activists, educators and concerned citizens to best address the issues effecting our kids specifically so we can keep them safe and maximize their potential, and ultimately their success. Link to tickets here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ypoc-mothers-day-brunch-tickets-16328955345

Why the Black Lives Matter Movement is Necessary

Black people are still being hung from trees in 2015 in addition to the constant attacks on black lives, livelihoods, ideas, concerns, bodies, minds and communities at the individual, local, state, federal and GLOBAL Levels. Tell me again how post racial we are as I send love and light to the families of #OtisByrd who was missing for weeks and found hanging from a tree by a bed sheet in Mississippi, #WalterScott who was murdered in cold blood in South Carolina by law enforcement (who then cuffed his lifeless body) and #RekiaBoyd whose killer is just now beginning a long overdue trial after She was shot to death by a plainclothes officer who demanded a group of people conversing near a park at night disperse and then opened fire on the crowd when they did not comply, killing Rekia in the process. This is why we must assert that #BlackLivesMatter because no matter how blinded some of you are by respectability politics and color blindness saying #AllLivesMatter it is clear as day to anyone paying attention that all lives DO NOT matter to law enforcement, the media, this country, the government, or the world at large and no amount of money, schooling, celebrity, education or politeness will save you if you come into contact with the wrong individual. #Facts