Maybe It’s You

I am sure we are all acquainted with the Golden Rule: “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” Our good friend Jesus spoke often on doing unto others as you want them to do unto you. Whether you are spiritual, religious, or neither, no one wants to be treated badly. You could be the guy who cuts people off on the highway, fails to use turn signals and drives recklessly, but as soon as someone rides your bumper, you’re furious. Humans have a tendency to be hypocritical when it comes to how we expect to be treated vs. how we treat others. For years now, I have been watching Kirk do Rasheeda wrong on Love and Hip Hop Atlanta (one of my guilty pleasures, don’t judge me), yet now he wants to fix his lips to be butthurt at the thought of her even considering entertaining another man. Why is it that we can never stomach the taste of our own medicine? So many of us subject others to pain that we would go to great lengths to avoid experiencing. To put it lightly, people suck. We use, abuse and manipulate those we claim to love and care for. This world would be all rainbows and butterflies if we could just abide by the simple logic of not being an a**hole. I remember in elementary we did a lengthy lesson on the Golden Rule, but if I could go back in time, I would have my teacher revise the lesson: “People are not going to treat you the way you would treat them.” It is unrealistic to expect everyone to have the same heart and moral compass as you. After all, we can’t control others; we are only in control of ourselves. When you allow yourself to be continually stepped on by trash people, you become at fault. Eventually, you have to stop complaining about people being mean to you and doing you wrong if you are going to keep giving them a free pass to do so. You’re not killing them with kindness, you’re just killing yourself.

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How About Some Accountability?

One of the easiest things to do is point the finger at other people when we need to be holding a mirror up to ourselves. We have already established that people are trash, but once you figure out that a new person in your life did not enter with good intentions, why do you keep them around? Are you waiting to see what lengths they will go to to make you miserable? Most people aren’t sadistic. They don’t purposely seek out weaklings to enact their evil plan upon. After all, most of the hurtful things people do to you do not have anything to do with you. People are selfish, and they do things that will bring them pleasure; you being hurt in the mix of it all is just emotional collateral damage. That doesn’t make the wound they’ve inflicted upon you hurt any less, that’s just the way it is. When people show you who they are, you have to believe tumblr_mqi3bjhmeb1qezwmho1_500them the first time. Sayings like that become cliche because they prove themselves to be true time and time again. If you choose to be Helen Keller to the b.s., you can’t get mad when your “best friend” keeps throwing shade at you behind your back or the new guy you’ve been dating pokes fun at your insecurities under the guise of a joke. Character flaws like that aren’t isolated incidents. They will only get worse, but your “good heart” always wants to see the best in people. When I was in college, I dated a guy who had two children. Much to my dislike, he brought them over to my apartment with him one evening and left them there while he went on a “food run.” I was 19; spending my night with two young kids was not my idea of a good time. He stayed gone a good 3-4 hours. What did I say upon his return? Nothing! I’m sure you can guess what followed: this happened again and again until I put my foot down. We eventually broke up due to other reasons, but this is just an example of how if you let somebody slide once, they’ll start figure skating. I was getting mad at him when I should have been mentally slapping myself. Nothing will continue unless YOU allow it to. He took advantage of me because I would often just ignore things that would bother me or make empty threats. He knew I was all bark and no bite. Was it right for him to use me as a babysitter while he was running through the 206 with his woes? Absolutely not, but it was my responsibility to advocate for myself. You can’t hope for the best with people, then just shrug your shoulders when they don’t act how you had envisaged. If you remove yourself from the situations that cause you strife, guess what will happen? Life will improve! It isn’t magic, it’s common sense.

Check Your Energy

There is no harder pill to swallow than admitting you are the problem when it comes to the negative experiences that plague your life. It does not mean there is something wrong with you or that you need to change who you are. Everyone has flaws and we are all damaged in some way. Childhood traumas, adult traumas and unhealthy coping skills have an insidious way of clouding our positive energy. If you are not aware of your thinking, these traumatic experiences manifest into negative self-talk and negative views of ourselves. It is incredibly easy to put yourself down without even realizing you are doing it. A couple of years ago, I downloaded a book called “The Untethered Soul” (I highly recommend this piece of work). Until I picked up this godsend of a book, I did not realize how often I put myself down. I would call myself names, judge myself and dwell on negative thoughts. If I would go against my instincts and suffer the consequences because of it, I would think to myself “duh dummy” or “well that’s what you get for being stupid.” We truly are our own toughest critics. I finally realized I kept attracting and entertaining toxic people because I was marinating in my own toxic thoughts. giphy3
Science teaches us that like attracts like. If you are vibrating at a low frequency, you are going to attract others who are on a similar level. Everything is energy. It is not a coincidence that when you are happy, everyone else seems happier as well. It’s simple, really. Why would a man who is happy, secure and confident be attracted to someone who emits bad vibes? I didn’t understand why I couldn’t find anyone of quality. I was independent, college educated, attractive and doing quite well for my age. I looked good on paper, but inside I was a mess. Too much time was spent going into my outward appearance but I was neglecting my insides. Awareness is the only way out of a miserable mindset. The interesting thing was at the time, I did not feel totally miserable, but looking back, I was full of self-doubt. It is now in hindsight that I realize I was not all that happy. Like most people, I have had an array of bad experiences steal my joy. I am naturally a private person, so I just kept all my feelings to myself and went on with life. Avoidance is definitely not a healthy coping technique Pretending a problem does not exist will not make it go away, and not dealing with your issues jut causes them to fester, not diminish. Happiness is out there for you, but you can’t claim to want a joyous life yet spend all day ruminating in your self-inflicted sunken place. You’re confusing the universe. If you want to grow as a person, it is so important to take the time to become aware of how you view yourself.

Level Up

When people think of self-care, they think of massages, solo vacations and treating themselves to new clothes or other things to decorate the outer self. The harder part of self-care that people don’t often mention is having the discipline to do what’s best for yourself, even when it’s hard. You are specially made, and only those who appreciate your value deserve a place in your life. Once you tap into your reserve of inner power, it will become second nature to toss people to the curb who don’t live up to your expectations. What is most important is believing you are worthy. Whenever you catch yourself putting yourself down, pretend you have a little Viola Davis from The Help on your shoulder reminding you that you are kind, smart and important. Tell yourself this everyday. Look in the mirror and repeat that you love yourself 15x a day if that’s what you need to do. You will eventually start to believe it and you will begin to wonder why you allowed people to A-Town Stomp all over you for so long. Don’t be afraid to say no. giphy4Don’t be afraid to tell people to Beat It. Why are you scared to be without people you have only known for a small fraction of your life? In the wise words of Drake, you gotta be nice for what? I promise you the sun will rise tomorrow and you will continue to breathe. There have been men I really liked and I hated to show them the door, but I knew it was for the best. Those yellow flags would have quickly turned red, and it is much harder to cut ties from people once you’ve allowed dick and time to have you more invested than you should have ever been. People are going to be mean. They are going to be inconsiderate and a multitude of other undesirable things, but it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe from their nastiness. You can’t protect yourself if you are not solid in who you are. If you keep getting mixed up in bad friendships and relationships, take some time alone to figure out who is the common denominator in all of the chaos. You can’t grow if you are never taking time to be with you and only you. Growth comes from self-reflection and taking accountability for your decisions, good and bad. Treating other people well is great, but don’t let it come at such a price that you fail to treat yourself how you deserve to be treated, and a large part of self-care is being selective with who you grant a seat at your table.

What’s In a Title?

Nowadays, everyone hates labels. I guess it’s some Millennial thing. Labels have a tendency to box people into categories, and sometimes it can be impossible to rid yourself of a label that has basically become a part of your reputation. A label can minimize a person to a one-dimensional being, robbing him/her of all complexity. My peers from school and I are fully grown adults, yet some of us still bare the labels that were bestowed upon us in high school, particularly the more unsavory ones (hoe, slut, player, weirdo, etc). The negative perceptions of a person always tend to overshadow the positive ones. Science has shown that our brains have a way of planting the bad things in our brains more firmly than the pleasant ones because processing negative experiences requires more mental effort. We use stronger language to describe our negative 6e23daa7794130a4e612bd2bac7525bc-mean-girls-bulliesencounters and tend to stew over them for longer periods of time. Like with everything, though, there is always another side to consider. Humans need labels. Pointing to things and naming them are one of the first stages of language development. It is how we categorize and reference things, how we can separate what’s good for us from what isn’t. Language is our most powerful tool, and by labeling people, we give them a role in our lives. Mother, sister, husband, friend, co-worker and so on and so forth are just a few titles most of us are familiar with, and if you have any of these people in your life, you have certain expectations of them. Where it tends to get murky is when it comes to romantic relationships. A situation in which two people have a romantic interest in one another and are not entertaining others is typically labeled a relationship. For the price of that title you are usually compensated with commitment, monogamy and companionship, and for someone who is not 100% invested in you, giving up the thrill of the single life to sleep with the same person every night is too high of a price to pay. So what do some people *cough cough* (men), tend to do? They hit you with a bunch of semantics to tip toe around committing to you in an effort to have their cake and eat it too. Before you know it, you’re knee deep in a Situationship.

“You Ain’t Even My Girl”

Being an adult is tiring. I feel like adulthood is a scam. As a child, all I longed for was the freedom that came with being “grown.” The ability to make my own decisions seemed like heaven. The beauty of childhood is the naivete. My inexperienced mind did not realize the amount of responsibility that came along with the freedom to do trivial things like stay out as late as I wanted or eat ice cream for dinner. As I became an older teenager, I was able to get a taste of the adult life without having to purchase the whole entree. Back when I was a young and dumb 19/20 year old, I was allowing my love interest at the time to get all the benefits of a relationship from me without requiring him to complete the package. I was brainwashed with all the “we don’t need a title” rhetoric and just went along with it because in my mind we were practically in a relationship, anyway. He was in my apartment majority of the time, didn’t want me dating others, and led me to believe he wasn’t seeing anyone else either. To put it simply, I was an idiot. During that time in my life, I didn’t know how to put my foot down and require more. I knew that I ultimately was not going to get the commitment I wanted, so tumblr_ntxt9tjvuq1uab7s4o1_1280I just decided to leave things alone. After all, he was around consistently, so that must be a sign that he was really into me, right? WRONG. I was dead wrong, because every time I would complain I would get the reminder that we are not even a relationship so I have no right to air any grievances towards him. No matter how close you may think you two are, if there is no verbal agreement that you two are exclusive, you are single. I allowed this man to have all of the benefits of a boyfriend, without him taking on any of the responsibilities that come along with that title. I was nothing more than a temp-agency girlfriend. At a temp agency, they send you to a company to work there for a varied length of time and while you give that company the benefits of your employment, when all is said and done, you gotta get up outta there. They may like you, but you’re not what they’re looking for long term. You work there, but they offer you no benefits and you ultimately leave with nothing until you’re sent somewhere else. The old me would ask him why aren’t we together, or when are we going to make it official, and I would get those cliche responses typical of someone who isn’t interested in you long term. “I’m just not ready for a relationship right now.” “You know I have feelings for you, why complicate things with a title?” “I’m not good enough financially right now to have a girlfriend.” Deep down I knew this was a crock of b.s., yet I continued on anyway like the poor fool I was. If a man is truly enamored with you, you will know because he will tell you and take you off the market. If at any time during the early stages of dating you have to ask yourself “what are we doing?” just know he’s doing him, beloved. You should go do you, too.

Bonds > Title

I think my favorite excuse people use to sidestep a relationship is the notion that a “bond is better than a title.” This is just silly, to put it mildly. It saddens me that women are buying into this propaganda. A bond is cute, but how many others does he have a “bond” with? A title is not a bulletproof vest for your relationship against cheating and other detrimental actions, but there needs to be some type of foundation there. When you neglect to specify what type of bond you have, the doors to a world of ambiguity burst wide open. Are we bonded as friends? Temporary companions? F*ck buddies? Which is it? An old friend of mine was navigating the foggy waters of Bond-land when she texted me crushed one day. The man she thought she was so connected to introduced her to his best friend as “this is my friend…”. This was after months of dates, humpin’, Netflix & chillin, learning all about each others’ pasts and him telling her how close he felt to her. giphy1They spent so much time together, she was sure he saw her as much more than a friend. Sis didn’t know that a bond without a title to go along with it is just a Situationship. So much time and energy was invested into this bond, yet it was worthless when it was time to cash it in. It is so important to be honest with yourself and your potential bae when you begin to communicate what it is you are looking for. If you are 100% sure that you just want companionship without the strings and stress that can accompany commitment, open your mouth and say that. If you realize down the road that you were misguided about your wants and now you want something more serious, be clear about your needs. If you’re dealing with a man, you have to be upfront. It’s key. They don’t pick up on hints and passive aggressive moves to try and signal what you want will end with your texts saying Read 9:57PM. At the end of the day, you have to be prepared for rejection. He may not want what you want, and that’s fine. He’s not the only man left with a sausage dangling between his legs. Nurse your ego back to health and keep it pushing, but don’t become a thirstbucket who is content with being a half-ass girlfriend. Life is too short.

He Just Doesn’t Like You Sis

There are levels to liking someone. I’ve liked a lot of guys who I didn’t want a relationship with. Frank Ocean said it best “No, I don’t like you I just thought you were cool enough to kick it.” Lust easily blinds us to the real ins and outs of someone’s personality because we are led on a string by physical attraction. Liking someone physically and/or sexually does not equate to liking who they are as a person. When you’re just riding around having a jolly good time and neglect to learn anything about his habits, goals, dark past or 325 credit score, you can’t say you like him because you don’t know him. Knowing that he taught his little brother how to throw a football does not mean he would be good with kids. His conspiracy theory about Earth being flat does not mean he’s deep and doesn’t conform. Now think a little harder about this; if you barely know him, you can guarantee he knows beans about you. If the sex is good and the stress is low, a man who isn’t already captivated by your dazzling personality isn’t going out of his way to learn more about you than what you’re offering up as free information. During the dark days of me selling myself short, I thirstily asked Situationship Boo what he thought of me. He said, “you’re cool.” I was flabbergasted. tenorCompletely bewildered. My ego took about 27 hits at once. I’m COOL?!? Just cool? Where was all that sweet talk in the beginning where I was told I wasn’t like other girls and I was so great to be around? I thought because I was going to a major university, didn’t live at home with my parents, received my Associate’s Degree and high school diploma at the same time, read a bunch of books and didn’t have a baby daddy that I was wifey material through and through. All that education I had and I couldn’t see past my own ego. He just didn’t like me like that. It doesn’t matter how good you look on paper or in person, if you two aren’t vibing on more that a physical level, you will remain just someone who is convenient for the moment. Instead of being basic AF and asking him what he thought of me months down the road, I should have spent those early days seeing if our connection was something worth building on instead of going with the flow that ended up flowing absolutely nowhere. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you have the personality of Tiffany Haddish, talent of Beyonce and sex appeal of Rihanna, if he doesn’t like you, he just doesn’t like you, beloved. Someone being present in the moment and giving you a few hours of their time here and there does not mean he wants a relationship with you. He can shower you with compliments, take you out for your birthday and snatch your soul every night, but if he hasn’t told you he wants you just for him, move on. Him beating around the bush when you mention a relationship isn’t because Mercury in Retrograde is putting a damper on his communication skills. You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll be someone’s. Remember that when you see him on Snapchat a few months later with a girlfriend.

 

 

Temporary Forevers

If being an adult has taught me anything, it is that people are temporary. Now that I am approaching the ripe old age of 27, this lesson has proven itself to be true time and time again. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Life has a great way of forcing toxic people out of our lives even when we are trying to hold on to them with a vice grip. Life also has an uncanny way of getting rid of people who aren’t toxic, too. Things just happen. There are many reasons why we wish to hold on to certain people: genuine love, hope for better in the future, the unsettling feeling that you’ve failed to produce a thriving relationship, or you’re just too comfortable to enact change. It is normal to do anything to attenuate the threat of pain, and consciously cutting people off can hurt, even if you’re the one doing the cutting. Everyone can probably think of at least one circumstance where they held on to someone too long, and we all have surely experienced a time or two when matters out of our control snatched people away through death, illness, etc. One thing that has often helped me cope with the loss of people I’ve cared about is the realization that it is usually not personal. Your 20’s are a time of self-discovery. During this time you are trying to find your place in the world, your purpose, and what you want out of life. Our journeys are quite self-centered in nature, and not everyone is going to have a recurring role in our life stories. When I giphy2think back on those who have come and gone over the years, it typically wasn’t due to some big fall out or dramatic event. The rift was slow and progressive, and before I knew it, we hadn’t talked in a week. One week turned into two, two weeks into a couple of months and so on and so forth. Adulthood and its many demands can make maintaining non-familial relationships remarkably difficult, and it is not uncommon for friendships and romantic relationships to fizzle out right before your very eyes. I have found it much easier to accept the demise of a relationship when it was nothing more than life doing its thing, but it can be a harder pill to swallow when you are fully aware that your friendship or relationship is breaking down and you know you must rip off the band-aid and shut things down.

Signs: They’re Everywhere

I remember in 2nd or 3rd grade I desperately wanted to be friends with this pair of girls in my class. I never really had many friends all throughout school, usually just one or two good friends that I was always grateful for. My best friend from the previous year had moved away, so I was stuck without a partner in crime for most of the year. I wasn’t as outgoing as most of my classmates, but these girls’ desks were near mine, so I did put in some extra effort to be friendly with them. Most of my efforts were futile. They would talk to me here and there, but they often left me out when it was time to form groups and play at recess. When it was time to go home, they would sit together on the bus and would often come back to school Monday morning reminiscing about the fun they had during their weekend sleepover. Talk about feeling left out. I kept trying to fit in with them until a new girl came into our class, and we hit it off right away. Of course as children we don’t realize when it’s time to stop trying to force something, but many of us grow into adults and still try to force relationships with people when the universe is clearly trying to tell us to let it go. I am convinced it is the ego that causes us to fight losing battles with people who make it blatantly clear that our presence in their life is not crucial to their happiness. Instead of just realizing it is time to let them be and move on, we become me in 2nd grade, wearing out our welcome and hurting ourselves in the process. Why do we fight so hard to convince other people we are worthy? Why is acceptance of others such a vital part to our self-esteem? It all goes back to the ego. If you take a step back and look at the situation, you will see that it is not the person you are fighting to hold on to per-se, just what he/she represents. Their rejection of you is a blow to your ego, and you will do everything you can to prove to them that you are indeed worthy of their affections. If someone wants you to be a part of their life, there will be no ambiguity. You won’t feel as if you are forcing the relationship.

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The universe often blesses us with obvious signs that certain people are not meant to be in our lives, but we long to be that one case that is the exception to the rule. If we were able to reform that toxic friend or salvage our dysfunctional relationship, all the doubters have been silenced. Instead of releasing ourselves of the mental anguish of trying to make someone play the role we’ve developed for them in our head, a lot of people torture themselves just to prove a point. If they’re not fighting to stay in your life, why are you hurting yourself trying to keep them there? It is vitally important to realize that many people we encounter are just here to teach us something, and when the lesson is learned, they move on and so should you. I have never been one to believe that those who walk into our lives do so aimlessly, but you must have the focus to see things for what they really are and not the way you want them to be. Sure, that is easier said than done. It is quite difficult to break away from someone before you are emotionally ready, but your future self will thank you for it, trust me.

Growing Pains

Sometimes, you just outgrow people. Wives outgrow husbands, friends outgrow friends, etc. This happens frequently when you connect with people when you are both young. The things you had in common in the early stages often don’t stand the test of time, causing people to drift apart. I witnessed this happen with my parents. Over their 20+ years together, my mom became wiser, smarter and full of depth, while my dad pretty much remained the same guy he always was. My dad is a great man, but eventually they stopped connecting on more than a surface level. One of my favorite song lyrics is from Jhene Aiko’s “Spotless Mind” that goes “shame on me for changing, no, shame on you for staying the same.” Don’t allow your progress and growth to halt because those close to you are content with stagnation. The point of life is to evolve and grow into the best you possible, and many people show disdain for change because they want to keep you down on their level. When they can’t relate to you any longer, they may start to resent you. Fear often keeps peoples feet planted into the same spot, causing them to become giphy3nothing short of a wastrel. It is easy to have a plethora of things in common with people as children and very young adults. Public school and college often forces you to be together, and you are united by a common institution. Life is still being figured out, and it is fun navigating new territory with your peers. As you age, however, you realize that many people still maintain that childish mentality. When I get bored at work and peruse my Facebook newsfeed, I see the same things. Fully grown adults blaming everything but themselves for their failures, status updates of people continuously creating their own storms them complaining when it rains, sharing the same tired jokes from 2011 and Snapchat videos of them riding around to trap music and blowing weed smoke into the camera. Several of these people I used to call good friends. Today, I would bet my year’s salary that we have absolutely nothing in common. I try not to be too hard on them; we all have our own personal path to walk, however, I was not foolish enough to continue forcing friendships with people I no longer have anything in common with. I prefer to surround myself with like-minded people, people I can learn from.

Don’t Be a Revolving Door

One thing that has always been difficult for me is allowing people to re-enter my life when they do not deserve to. I have always admired that I am quite good at not taking things people do personally, but this is a gift and a curse. I’m sure you can figure out why. When people we care about hurt us, we tend to make excuses for them to diminish the severity of their behavior. I’m much less tolerant nowadays, though. Once I am done with a person, chances are that ship has sailed permanently and I have burned the bridge to smithereens. Most of us do have a soft spot for one person, but that’s a post for a different day. Anyway, my point is that your presence in someone’s life should not be something they take for granted. A lot of people are mistreated because the perpetrator  knows that no matter what they do, you will let them back in. Being a person of convenience does not garner much respect, yet you would rather take the crumbs someone throws at you than require a full loaf of bread. The bare minimum should not be tolerated, especially if you are putting forth full effort. Why allow someone to come light up your life with a radiant luminosity, take it away at a moments notice, giphy1expect you to accept their excuses, then come back once their current quests have fallen short? It’s not fair, and people like that deserve to stay gone for good. No matter how starved you are for love and affection, it hurts much more to let someone walk all over you just for a short-lived bout of happiness. I had to learn this lesson the hard way, but the lesson was the best thing I got out of the situation. When I look back at all the people who have walked in and out of my life, there was always one common denominator: ME. I allowed them to return without any accountability of their actions. I failed to communicate my issues with them. I allowed myself to be treated in a way I did not deserve. At the end of the day, we are responsible for our own happiness. Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a perfect world where everyone was kind and treated one another the way we wanted to be treated? It would be divine, but it’s not reality and never will be. The sooner you accept that people come and go, the easier your life will be. Let those who no longer fit into your narrative go on their way. 

You’re a Loyal Fool

Women are nurturers. Many of us love to fix broken things and heal what has been hurt and/or damaged. Whether it be by nature or nurture, we have the propensity to see past any trespasses made against us and see the good in people and to also help it manifest. Perhaps it’s due to the maternal qualities that reside in a lot of us and is further strengthened by how young girls are socialized to be caretakers. These are redeeming qualities, however, this mindset becomes toxic when some women interpret it as an obligation to tolerate disrespect, inconsistency, infidelity and a myriad of other problematic actions. Have women really become so thirsty for a man that any man will do? In some instances, I believe that is the case. For a lot of us, however, I believe it has been ingrained in our psyches that as long as he is providing some semblance of care, shut up and “let a man be a man.” Throughout countless generations and still in some cultures today, women have been forced to depend on men for survival. Women in Saudi Arabia were just given the right to drive, for goodness’ sake. American women did not begin working consistently until the 1940’s, so it was essential to secure a husband swiftly, otherwise end up destitute. Being an unmarried woman was not a good look, and many women were forced to marry ain’t sh*t men just to have a roof over their heads and some food on the table. Divorce was frowned upon just until relatively recently, so a lot of women just had to endure a bad situation. This created some “stand by your man” mentality that has trapped women in bad relationships for eons. giphy A lot of us watched our mothers and other women in our family tolerate treatment they did not deserve, masked under “he’s a good man, he just blah blah blah.” We love to make excuses in an attempt to justify the bad behavior from people we love, absolving them of any responsibility for their actions and sweeping all the issues under the rug. No matter your reason for staying with a man who doesn’t value you, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It will never be worth it. You’re holding yourself hostage for what? Hope that he will change? Have you given up hope that there are any decent men out there, so you’re just going to settle for the best of the worst? Is there some sort of trophy for being loyal to someone who couldn’t care less if you cry yourself to sleep every night? I don’t think so. The return on your investment for supposedly helping a man become a better person will be zero. 10x out of 9 people don’t change, and if they do, it will because they want to, not because of anything you’ve done. I don’t have the energy to take on projects, and if I wanted to raise someone, I would get pregnant. Do not make yourself responsible for the growth of other people.

Your Man is Not Gucci Mane

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From the outside looking in, it appears that Gucci Mane has made a miraculous transformation since being released from prison. The man is literally glowing. He and his new wife Keyshia look like they’re on cloud nine, and they had a breathtaking wedding. We do not know the details of their relationship, but they appear to be madly in love. Keyshia was Gucci’s ride or die, supporting him through prison, years of alleged drug use and a career that comes with copious amounts of glamour and temptation. They have become relationship goals for many, proving that if you stay loyal, you will be rewarded with a ring and a lavish lifestyle. Apparently women these days do not know how to hold a man down properly and leave as soon as a problem arises. We should all be more like Keyshia, right? That’s what I have been seeing so much of. Your man deserves for you to be a loyal doormat while he runs wild through the streets, and you are a bad partner if you require more of him. How dare a woman expect loyalty from her significant other?! How preposterous! That logic irks me beyond belief. Sure, there are men who put up with women who do not treat them right, but the difference lies in that this is not an expectation of men.22490034_1532633586780060_8010361249584378024_n No man is raised to “stand by your woman” no matter what she does. Have you ever watched a movie or show where a man’s peers were telling him how good of a woman his significant other is despite her constant cheating and troublesome behavior, and that he should give her a chance to change her ways? We aren’t talking about one mistake or slip up during the relationship, but an overall toxic and emotionally draining environment. Everyone is going to make mistakes, it’s human nature, but your whole relationship should not be a merry-go-round of screw ups and empty apologies. If Gucci Mane truly made a turnaround, that’s great. Apparently Keyshia saw something in him that I would not have stayed around to uncover, and we have to stop preaching this twisted rhetoric that if you allow a man to drag you through the mud long enough, you will come out clean on the other side. A relationship is not supposed to be in a perpetual state of turmoil. Romantic love is not supposed to hurt, and while it requires work like any other relationship, it should not be a constant uphill battle. This all goes back to the sect of gender roles that require women to be submissive and subservient. Many say that women will put up with anything for money, and many say that taking care of someone financially entitles them to do whatever they’d like. This is not 1888, and you don’t have to put up with anyone’s foolery in order to prevent homelessness and despair. I didn’t know that the only thing a man was supposed to do was provide financial support. It may be better to cry in a mansion, but who wants to be hurt at all? If you allow a man to disturb your inner peace just for a designer bag and some jewelry, you don’t love him, you just love the fancy lifestyle, and you certainly don’t love yourself. 

30th Times’ a Charm

“Maybe he will finally get it this time!” This is the battle cry of someone fighting to hold on to a relationship with a person who doesn’t act right and who likely never will. You lie awake at night wondering what you can try next to show him how good of a catch you are and how foolish of him it would be to let you walk out the door. You’ve seen the potential in him, and you just know that you are the one to turn this pauper into a prince. He’s shown you who he is a multitude of times, but you know that’s not the real him. He’s just been hurt by these no-good women out here. If you are taking the time to truly get to know someone, you wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place. People are unable to hide their true colors for long, and time reveals all, but of course, women love to fall in love with potential. I’m not sure why so many of us think we have the supreme power to manifest change in people, but no one is that powerful. We do not have this level of control over anyone, and trying to control things you have no power over will lead to disappointment every time. When some people realize that actively trying to change a person doesn’t work, they try the wait and pray approach. They walk all over you again and again, but you have the patience of Job; you tell yourself this time that God is working on their heart, and if you just be still, you will come out on the other side stronger than ever. Get a grip. Your efforts are futile and you are letting the best years of your life pass you by waiting on a loser to see the light. Being in a bad relationship just for the sake of being in one is selling yourself short.

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We all know those “at least I got a man” type of women, even though their man is unemployed, unfaithful, ugly and God only knows what else. But hey, any man is better than no man, right? Internalized misogyny is a real killer. Some women are so brainwashed they feel it is better to allow emotional and sometimes physical abuse from a boyfriend or spouse than be single and date until a suitable partner is found. To make matters worse, a lot of women are allowing men they aren’t even in relationships with dog them out. They hope if they prove their loyalty to him, he will bestow the honor of being his girlfriend upon them. Countless women give their unwavering loyalty to men who would be gone at the first dose of disrespect. It is time that we become equally intolerant. Instead of building up a hopeless charity case, find someone who matches or even exceeds where you are in life. If you find that all you attract are men who have nothing to offer besides penis and a headache, it’s time you go inside and examine yourself. You clearly don’t think you deserve anything better. The universe gives us back what we put out, and it is impossible to attract something that is not present within yourself. I do not find it impressive to be the woman who finally made the most wild man of them all act right.  All that means is you were the one foolish enough to stick around long enough for him to either get tired of his current lifestyle or all his other options showed him the door and you were the only one dumb enough to still be there. You are not Cesar Milan, but instead of teaching dogs how to behave, you have a knack for training problematic men. I have yet to read any type of content regarding a man helping build a woman into the person she is meant to be, stand by your queen while she’s down, or anything pertaining to men tolerating disrespect while a woman grows and matures. This does not have to be a double standard that withstands the rest of humanity, but it will be as long as women keep buying into the notion that you should be loyal to a fault while you do not receive the same treatment in return. Love is conditional, and not everyone should be entitled to your heart.

Closure: Necessary or Overrated?

I absolutely love writing about the characters on HBO’s “Insecure.” I love discussing them. I love analyzing them. To put it simply, this show fills a TV void that I didn’t know I was missing. Sure, most adults can relate to the perils of dating and friendship drama, but as a young black woman, Insecure just hits that niche spot. It feels good to be represented on mainstream television as a black millennial, and I’m sure the men of the #LawrenceHive can agree. Throughout all 16 episodes, there have been many times where I have been Issa. I have been Molly. I have been Kelli. I have been Tiffany, who endures the “light skin” jokes. In the finale of Season 2, titled “Hella Perspective”, I am sure many of us have been Issa or Lawrence, closing a chapter with someone in which we care for deeply. Despite their ever-present love for each other, they both got the closure they needed, which will hopefully put an end to them acting out their pain in an onslaught of meaningless encounters and projections onto others.

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The finale sparked some interesting conversation regarding closure, specifically whether or not it is needed to move on with your life and open your heart again. To some people, yes, it is a key part to healing and finally realizing that this is curtains closed; the ship has sailed, and you can now begin a healthy relationship with someone else. To others, however, closure is a futile attempt to gain clarity on what went wrong, and even an excuse to see the person again and drag out the ending process until there is absolutely nothing left. In a perfect world, closure sounds nice. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a final conversation with your old boo, where both of you address where you went wrong, take the appropriate amount of responsibility, then go your separate ways with a clear conscience and no hard feelings? Ha! Too bad that rarely ever happens. Thank you Issa for putting false hope in our hearts.

You Want Answers & You Want Them Now

One of the Google definitions of ‘closure’ is “a feeling that an emotional or traumatic experience has been resolved.” We often hear of friends saying they got no closure at the dissolution of a relationship. We hear it acted out on scripted television and reality shows. Something ending abruptly or painfully often leaves us with questions unanswered, anger, confusion, etc., and by receiving “closure,” we can tie up those loose ends. We are a logical species, and being unable to understand others’ behaviors leaves us quite unsettled. This leads us to seek answers. We tell ourselves we want the truth, no matter how ugly. I can’t speak for everyone, but there hasn’t been a time where I have gone this route and received the results I so desired. It was just more of the same: pointing the finger back at me, dodging the questions, and either failing to see their part in our demise or shutting down completely. I finally realized one day that if I was not getting the communication and other things I needed while we were involved with each other, what would change in a matter of weeks? Most people don’t reach some sort of epiphany where they can wake up and realize they were a piece of sh*t and have a burning desire to own up to it all. I would leave even more angry and hurt than I was before the encounter, causing me to questions my judgment and decision making ability.giphy3 This does not mean I believe Insecure dropped the ball by allowing us to witness a healthy conversation between Issa and Lawrence where they both accepted their failures in the relationship. If anything, it should serve as an example to the rest of us. The reality is that this is the sort of closure that most of us will most likely never experience at the end of a relationship, and that does not go to say that Issa and Lawrence floated to this moment after months of soul searching. They had their fair share of drama and pain. All of this inner turmoil can manifest in a plethora of ways, like “hoe phases” and picking up random girls for threesomes at the grocery store.

Closure Puts Those Demons To Rest

Hurt people, hurt people, including themselves. While I no longer seek traditional closure at the end of my relationships, I can understand why some people feel like they need it. During a couple of therapy sessions after the end of a tumultuous relationship of my own, my therapist told me it was normal to feel the grief I was experiencing. I learned that after a bad breakup, our brains have the same or very similar reaction as when a loved one dies. We experience the same phases of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, etc. Heartbreak takes a serious toll on our mental health. Pain can manifest itself in many ways, and in Issa’s case, it came out in a self-proclaimed “Hoe Phase.” That lifestyle does not suit Issa. She isn’t cut out for it. Her “hoe-tation” left her even more unfulfilled and frustrated, and a lot of it was awkward to witness, from random romps with her neighbor to unintended facials, Issa failed at being sexually liberated. Her attempts at embracing the single life were unsuccessful because she sought empowerment in ways that were not compatible with her personality. She asked Molly to teach her how to “hoe,” without even stopping to realize that the hoe life has brought giphy4Molly nothing but pain and disappointment. Lawrence, on the other hand, used Tasha as a rebound to distract himself from the pain of betrayal, and ended up hurting and embarrassing her as he lead her on and drowned his sorrows in her vagina and home cooked meals. He then went on to have random trysts with strangers just out to use black men for their so called sexual prowess, and projected his trust issues onto Aparna, who could prove to be a promising match for him. So what did we learn at the end of the finale? Both Issa and Lawrence have gained some much needed insight on what they each could have done differently. They’ve accepted reality and the beef has been cooked up and eaten. Now they both can go out into Singleville with a clear mind and date with dignity. Closure goals, no? Unfortunately, most of our closure looks more like Issa and Lawrence’s 30 second silent romp at the beginning of the season.

Closed Relationship, Open Legs

Raise your hand if during those “lets just meet up and talk this out then go our separate ways”  discussions you did more f’ing and less talking? Or even if you didn’t end up taking an unintended dick appointment, you just opened the can of worms again and invited the drama right back into your life? I can’t lie, my hand is raised too. I was lying to myself when I was either initiating a meet-up or agreeing to one that we were just there to talk. Deep down, I just wanted to see him again. I would get cute, rehearse my speech in my head, and hope that he would either see the light or that my good looks would make him realize what he was giving up. I ended up wasting my time and he was wasting his. Sure, we were done, but after those meetings texts were still coming through, pictures still being liked, and neither of us would throw in the towel until someone else entered the pictured or it had finally run its course. I stopped torturing myself like that long ago. When a breakup is fresh, don’t tempt yourself with a meeting in which you know will put you in a vulnerable position. I have become a part of Team No Closure because unless both people walk into these encounters with honest tumblr_ow3paalzpv1txl6nno8_r1_400intentions and a clear mind, you might as well abort the mission. This is where I applaud the closure scene between Issa and Lawrence, because they took advantage of an opportunity to clear the air. While I still think these are not typical results (still possible though), it did not occur under the guise of “ay, come through we should talk” or “you left your hat here, you wanna come grab it tonight when I get off work?” It was organic. The moral of the story is, if you are out to seek closure, do so with a clear mind. Give yourself time. Give the other person time, and don’t be offended if they tell you to kick hot rocks with no shoes on. Conversations such as these should only be had when your emotions are not running high and you aren’t stuck in the past, being a professor of revisionist history. My current version of closure is learning to accept an apology that I may never receive and moving on with my life. An understanding of why you hurt me does not make the pain any less devastating, and a half-assed sorry is not a percocet for my broken heart. Most people’s egos will not allow them to become vulnerable and hold a mirror up to their wrong-doings, so I would rather not even try and end up disappointed. To each their own though, and I hope we all can seek the closure we need within ourselves.

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Black People Hate Each Other

There is nothing on this planet quite like a Black man. My father served as my first example of their resiliency in the face of adversity, their remarkable ability to exude warmth despite experiencing so much coldness from the outside world and the drive to succeed while playing with a hand of cards that would have made most give up and surrender themselves to a world that seemed hellbent on keeping them down. My dad is just one example of Black men who shatter the stereotypes that Black men are lazy thugs who do not take care of their hoard of illegitimate children, and for that I am remarkably proud of him. In a world where Black men and women are undervalued and
underrepresented, it is important that we uplift each other, yet the division between Black men and women is quite astounding and deeply saddening. Of course men and women collectively have struggled with relating to each other and finding common ground on issues such as equality, but when you live in a patriarchal society that is nothing beyond the norm. The issues within the Black community go much deeper than your old everyday “men are dogs” rhetoric. What happened between us that caused such a divide? Scroll through social media and you will see a plethora of harsh comments from Black men regarding Black women, Black women stating how they don’t need a man and how n*ggas ain’t sh*t and both sides recalling instances of how not having a father in their lives has affected them.

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Slavery: The Side Effects

Whether or not people want to believe it, slavery still has long standing effects on its descendants. In the scope of human existence, 200 years post slavery is merely a drop in the bucket of time. In fact, it is so recent that you could likely track down the owner of your great great great grandparents. So what does this have to do with the division between Black men and women? Everything. During slavery, it was key for slave owners to dismantle any type of unity between slaves. Slave marriages were not legally recognized and married slaves were always reminded that at the end of the day, they were both property of their master. Rape was a common method used to exercise this power, and the Black man was powerless to come to the aid of his wife, no matter how angry or provoked he felt. This created a resentment in the Black woman, as she had to live knowing that the man she bore children for and loved was powerless to protect her. On the other hand, the Black man had to carry the shame that he could not save his wife from being a victim, while also struggling with the fact that she had been with another man, regardless of the lack of consent on her part. It did not matter that this was just a consequence of the time period; a human being is going to feel the emotions appropriate for the circumstances. 7eb0f0eb2cca50cc2f872a5f0fde2f37The lack of rights for a slave did not make either party feel better just because that was the way things were. A husband and father are protectors, and having to witness your warrior powerless against your attacker will create a lack of trust, be it consciously or subconsciously. He could not shield his wife from being a victim, he could not prevent his children from being sold.  Aside from the violent nature of rape,  during and after slavery, Black men and women were not typically attracted to each other. Black women were (and often even now) portrayed as the “mammy”, overweight and in a position of subservience, usually around to clean up after White people and nurse their children. The Black man, on the other hand, was emasculated on a daily basis; how was he to respect himself or command respect from others? Not only was his manhood diminished, but he was also put into the role of the jester, the ‘schuckin and jivin’ minstrel. Of course there was still love among slaves, but is it unreasonable to presume that the level of respect and attraction was low? Slavery has had a significant impact on black love, and the black family has suffered because of it.

Family Feud

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Fast forward to now, and it is easy to see the continued discord between the Black man and woman. It is almost like we are socialized to not be together. Have relations improved much 200 years post slavery? I would have to say no. I could open any of my social media timelines right now and see an overabundance of disrespectful comments from Black men pertaining to Black women. The negativity spans across hair texture, skin complexion, attitudes, child support spite, parenting, body type, the list is endless. Black women express disdain for the Black man as well, but not at the concerning rates that Black men do. Lack of ambition and the absence of having the Black woman’s back are the main complaints; quite honestly the rest of the dialogue can be applied to any man. Brothas are extremely misogynistic towards sistas, and rap music has been a long time contributor to this issue. When our Black men grow up listening to “Bitches ain’t sh*t but hoes and tricks / Lick on these nuts and suck the d*ck,” why are we surprised when they lack respect for Black women? The number of male role models in the Black community are slim, so the rappers became the role models. Young Black women who were exposed to this type of music at a young age became desensitized to it; disrespect towards women became normalized for some in the Black community. Just because you are a fan of rap, however, does not mean you go out and disrespect women or tolerate disrespect but it is who-needs-black-girls-anymore-i-aint-say-it-i-6624607important to realize that the entertainment industry does have an effect on how we view each other. Each day I witness Black men and women at war with each other, and I always find it so interesting that I do not see other races putting each other down at such alarming rates, or at all. Never have I seen any of my White, Hispanic or Asian social media followers say their own women are trash, their men are deadbeats or put them down while uplifting another race. Is there anything wrong with dating outside your ethnic group? Absolutely not. What is wrong is condemning your people in the process. I have always found it astonishing that many of the qualities Black men shame Black women for, they also possess: darker skin, coarse hair, animated personalities, etc. It is definitely worth assuming that there is some self-hate stirring around within them that needs to be sorted out. Disassociating yourself from your own blackness will not make you less Black. If you hate yourself, you will want to distance yourself from anything that reminds you of the thing you are running from. The divide and conquer tactics used during slavery are still working. Black families in America have the highest rate of single parent households due to factors such as mass incarcerations and poverty, creating further resentment between the Black man and woman. Just like during slavery, many fathers were not present. Whether it be by choice or force, the consequences remain the same. There is a lack of trust between Black people that other races do not experience, because they did not face the trauma of slavery and Jim Crow. Willie Lynch’s method to control slaves was to spread fear, envy and distrust between them, and it is blatantly obvious that these tactics have been tattooed on the psyche of Black people. Fortunately, I have been noticing a slow but steady spread of unity within the Black community.

Spread The Love

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Thanks to social media, I have been noticing a lot more positivity spreading between Black people. This is not to say that there has been a lack of Black unity altogether, but I attribute the increase to the alarming rate in which Black men and women are being targeted and killed by police, and to some extent, our collective disdain for Trump. Regardless of the reason, it is refreshing and beautiful to witness. It is very important that we hold ourselves accountable for perpetuating the hate we experience from the outside world upon each other. I frequently see Black women (and men, however, to a lesser extent) on social media call out other Black people who spread false narratives regarding our people and who also perpetuate stereotypes. It is vital that we educate each other about the tactics that were put in place to ensure we never unify or view each other in a positive light. After all, by continuing to remain spiteful towards each other, the vision racist America had for us since we were brought here on slave ships remains successful. Sure, we have accomplished great things as a people and have conquered monumental obstacles, but our interpersonal bonds must be strengthened. 9b01c1750a0102e6f63f3e2cfd6d40a6Black people have to separate ourselves from the image the media has constructed. Black men are more than rappers, athletes, and criminals. Black women do more than have babies out of wedlock, twerk, and have attitudes with anyone who crosses their path. Our accomplishments are always seen with an asterisk by them, and we participate in the practice of not supporting each other. This can change! Support the ventures of your friends, encourage our kids to pursue their dreams, even if they are not the most practical. Until we let go of the mental chains of slavery, we will remain limited, our full potential imprisoned. The lack of trust between Black men and women needs to be repaired, as it is on life support and has been for quite some time. We are in need of open and honest dialogue, free from any spite or negativity. Communication heals, and it is time we begin this process. Our future generations will thanks us!

 

 

What’s Your Body Count?


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I have such a love/hate relationship with Black Twitter. It’s free entertainment and endless jokes. I am often amazed at the creativity and comedic prowess that our counterparts possess. As with anything, though, there are two sides to every coin. While I hate to love the intriguing, brash sense of humor of the Twitteverse, there are often sexist and misogynistic undertones that consistently grace our timelines. One of Black Twitter’s favorite topics and debates: How many people have you had sex with, also known as the body count subject. Similar to the controversial topics of $200 dates and “should you make your man’s plate?”, the body count debacle seems to cross my timeline a few times a month. Every now and then I will throw in my 2 cents, but most of the time I sit back at the round table and observe the same old arguments on how many bodies its normal for a man to have at a certain age vs. how many bodies makes a woman a “hoe” by a certain age. All the same cliche stereotypes and gender biased views that seem to never really get old. I assume we keep recycling the same topics because like in any debate or argument, one side will try to sway the other to agree with their point of view. Mostly its a male vs. female debate, although every now and then you will see a sprinkle of agreeableness between the two sides. I find it quite problematic that in 2017 we are still going back and forth on this. Old habits die hard, or in this case, old sexist ideologies. 

Be Free, But Not Too Free

The male viewpoint of the body count debate is obviously a direct representation of the majority of males in everyday life. I am sure it isn’t too difficult to figure out their stance on the matter. The quantity of men a woman has slept with is a direct correlation to her level of hoe-ness. The higher the number, the less likely you are to have a man commit to you, the looser your vagina becomes and you apparently command less respect than a woman with only a few notches in her belt. Of course no one is born thinking this way, and our society isn’t the only one who carriers around these sexist beliefs. Women in the Middle East are still getting stoned for adultery. In patriarchal societies, women and men are socialized to believe that proper and respectable women keep their legs closed. Pop culture in America is fueled by sexuality and sexualized images of women, yet a woman who is sexually liberated faces backlash from not only men, but women too. I remember just a few days ago on Twitter, there was conversation stirring regarding a woman  in her 20’s who had 42 men under her belt. tumblr_niv4i5uvmq1tqakyso1_500
 I didn’t delve into it too much to get any context, but this woman’s integrity was questioned. Is 42 a lot? For argument’s sake, let’s say the woman in the above scenario is 27 and has been sexually active for 10 years and single for the majority of this time-span. That’s an average of 4.2 men a year. Does that change the perspective at all? Maybe, maybe not. She caught major shade across the timeline for this confession, though. One guy tweeted that dating a woman with 42 bodies is equivalent to chewing a piece of gum that was previously chewed by 42 other people. Another said that after 42 bodies your soul is already dwelling with Lucifer. Some tweeters erred on the side of minding your own business about who people are hopping into bed with (I second this), and others called men out for their glaring hypocrisy. Regardless of your views on sex and morality, is it reasonable to literally demonize a woman because her lifestyle is not in alignment with your views? 

Pot, Meet Kettle!

I really wish at this point that I could stop referring to double standards when comparing the sex lives of women and men, but double standards fuel sexism. It’s mind boggling that so many don’t realize that continuing to judge women based off how many men they’ve been with makes them sexist. Women who co-sign these beliefs don’t realize they’re contributing to the problem, or maybe they don’t see the problem at all. Who knows? Either way, if it had been a man in his 20’s who admitted to having 42 bodies, no one would have blinked an eye. Most of us would have probably kept scrolling and continued talking about how much of a baby Lebron is being and retweeting Trump jokes. In contrast to tweets about a woman with that many bodies dwelling with Lucifer, I saw people saying they expect a man in his 20’s to already have 40+ bodies, like that is perfectly normal.tumblr_ns2p9pbyi51t1ou0yo1_500 The logic behind it was that women get “entered” while men “enter,” so it is more of an impact on a woman to allow so many men access to her body. Correct me if I’m wrong, but as a man you don’t find it necessary to use some discretion when it comes to whom you’re sticking your most cherished body part into? 9/10 of the men who were throwing shade at the woman with 42 bodies would probably still try and get in her panties if given the opportunity, and would happily be Mr. 43. What’s even more funny is that some of them have probably had an escapade or two with a woman way north of #42 and had no idea. So many men love to play the “I may f*ck her, but I would never wife her” card, but you don’t see them throwing their playa cards away for Tina Two Bodies either. The number of people you get naked with is not a testament to your character, per se. Of course there are men and women who use sex as a coping mechanism or for other reasons that aren’t good for the soul, however that’s a subject for a different day. A woman should be able to be as sexually active as she wishes to be without facing slander and backlash from people who ultimately need to mind their own business.

It’s Just Sex, Not Love

Evidently, it is a foreign concept that women are capable to have sex with a man without developing romantic feelings or attachments. For some women this may be true, but for many it isn’t. Yes, there are a plethora of scenarios where a woman states she isn’t looking for anything but fun, then turns around a month later asking “what are we?” Don’t let this fool you into thinking that every woman who is willing to get it poppin’ with you also wants to put a ring on it. Just like men, we treat those we are only sexually attracted to differently than those we see as potential mates. Men who still have 19th century mindsets get shook by this rationale; they don’t know how to contend with a woman who steps outside of the little chastity box that the world has created for her. Men are privileged of course, and by women remaining subservient and dependent on them, their authority is not challenged. No privileged group wants a level playing field, because it’s fun to stomp on the little guy!tumblr_oamyb8qhjs1uaedmbo3_400 Besides, if men couldn’t call women hoes, what else would they do with their time? That was a joke of course, but society as a whole needs to realize that a woman’s sex life is none of anyone else’s concern and no one has the right to dictate what is appropriate behavior for the next person. If it works for them, why are you bothered by it? Everyone was raised differently and we’ve traveled different paths. There isn’t a one size fits all manual to life that works for everyone. As long as we are all being safe, what’s the big deal? Everyone is entitled to live a life that fits their own moral compass and nothing is wrong with having your own opinion. However, there is a such thing as an opinion that lacks substance and does more harm than good, so keep those to yourself. I have seen men imply numerous times that they are entitled to sex from a woman who gives it up to everyone, and that “hoes” don’t have the right to turn down a man because her vagina is an equal opportunity employer. How stupid is that?! Not only stupid, but absurdly disrespectful.  Just because a woman has an active sex life does not mean she’s obligated to drop the panties for anyone who decides they want a turn; just because a woman decides to lie down with you does not mean she’s planning a wedding in her head with you. It is always blissfully refreshing to see men who have transcended above the small thinking of labeling women. I know men who argue more for the rights of women than plenty of females I know of. Perhaps there is still hope for us yet! After all, it’s not wise to throw stones when you, too, live in a glass house. I prefer to mind my own business, and whether or not someone else is leading a more conservative or liberal sex life has nothing to do with me.

We’re All A Little “Insecure”

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SPOILER ALERT: If you are not yet caught up on the show or have not started it yet, this post contains spoilers. Everyone else, please continue 🙂


Insecure has captivated me. The release of this show just further reminded me how absent authentic Black characters are from mainstream television. It is a breath of fresh air from all of the reality shows depicting petty drama, forcing us to watch 20 year old reruns of Martin just for a little comedy. Issa Rae only served us 8 episodes of Insecure so far (thankfully, we’re getting a season 2), but she managed to develop very complex and multi-dimensional characters in such a short season. 8 episodes, 30 minutes each, and I easily feel like I thoroughly know them all. Each of the main characters are relatable in some way, and most of us have been either Issa, Molly or Lawrence at some point in our lives. One of the main themes in the show is the relationship between Issa and Lawrence. The show begins and it is the morning of her 29th birthday. While she was on Facebook looking over her “happy birthday” posts, she gets a message from a guy named Daniel wishing her a happy birthday and her face lights up like a Christmas tree. I had not yet noticed Lawrence lying in bed behind her, sound asleep. Without knowing it, we are almost immediately introduced to the temptation she will face for almost the entire season. Her lack of fulfillment is obvious. tumblr_of6io5hbnm1swms2fo4_400She often complains to her best friend Molly about how boring their relationship is and how she is exhausted from carrying the emotional and financial weight of it all. Lawrence is out of work after his app failed, and mostly sits around the house in dingy sweatpants complaining about his bad luck with interviewing. To add to Issa’s growing resentment of him, he forgets her birthday. After 5 years and no growth as a couple, she was basically over it. If you want to create a perfect recipe to push your woman to the next D, do all of the things that Lawrence was doing. Unlike men, the majority of women who may have cheated did not do so just for sh*ts and giggles. There is no thrill of the chase, no sliding in DM’s just because its Monday. Emotional needs aren’t being met. Justifying cheating is not what I’m trying to do; I’m talking about causation, not morals. How well did Issa communicate her needs and concerns to Lawrence? Not very well. She had numerous opportunities to elaborate on what she told him the night she and Molly went to the open mic. You really can’t tell someone how you don’t intend to spend the rest of your life sitting on the couch with them, leave for 2 days then come home acting like that whole conversation never happened in a matter of hours. By this point, Issa’s main concern is Issa. She has vowed to begin giving zero f*cks and to start killing it at work. She did not have much concern for strengthening her relationship, but realizes she still loves Lawrence nonetheless, so she continues going through the motions of it all. After Issa and Daniel had their almost hookup after the open mic, I figured he was pretty much out of the picture. He was completely thrown off by the word “relationship” coming out of her mouth, so I thought that was a wrap. I should  have known better, considering they chose to bring up how Issa has always had a weakness for him. Although Issa was vulnerable to cheating due to the fragile state of her relationship, I also do not fully believe she would have turned Daniel down, regardless of how things were with Lawrence. The one that got away is now back in your life and showing interest in you. You have shared history to pull from, allowing you to reconnect, and it would just feel right. She subconsciously placed herself in a compromising position, and the cheating commenced. 

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Issa wasn’t the only one in the relationship faced with temptation. While she was ignoring Lawrence and complaining about his lack of a job, the bank teller Tasha was uplifting him at every turn. Pretty face, bubbling personality and boobs to die for were there waiting for him every time he went to deposit his unemployment check. She joined him for lunch, and came to his job at Best Buy showing him how good she looks when she isn’t dressed in her work clothes. Tasha was putting herself out there with no shame. No matter when or where they were interacting, Lawrence never once acted inappropriately. It was more than obvious that Tasha had an interest in him, yet he politely told her he had a girlfriend. Major respect for Lawrence. Despite his flaws, he was 100% committed to Issa. He was too comfortable in their way of life to realize that the relationship was densely clouded with communication issues. He was genuinely taken aback when Issa essentially told him that he was boring and that their relationship was boring as well. tumblr_oh0w6502ys1rxovx9o1_400She did not do him any favors by waiting until she was fed up to express any concerns. He never noticed anything to be wrong, but sometimes we cannot see past our own set of problems. Lawrence was feeling extremely discouraged after his app failed and continuously passed over for jobs after several interviews. He was watching his friends’ careers take off while he was living off unemployment checks and his dwindling savings account. As a man, his ego had taken several L’s. No one wants to fail. No man wants to put himself through college and amass all of this debt just to watch his woman take care of them both. His pride was clearly damaged when he had to go and work at Best Buy. While Issa congratulated him, Tasha from the bank acted as if he had just landed a job at NASA. Her support for Lawrence was unwavering and seemingly unconditional, so it made perfect sense that she would be the one he rebounded with after Issa crushed his soul. I was kind of curious as to when they exchanged numbers, because I would have thought that to be a very important interaction. 

Was Lawrence Wrong?

Twitter has had a very interesting reaction to the finale of Insecure, and the men and women (not surprisingly) are taking opposite sides. The men are cheering Lawrence on as if this is their version of Lemonade, and many women think he took it too far. As a reminder, while Issa was out of town for Kelli’s birthday, Lawrence calls and tells her he misses her. He wants to talk when she gets back. Issa leaves right away, with Molly eventually deciding to drive her home. She walks in and sees Lawrence’s keys on the counter and you can see the hope spark in her eye. As she walks into the bedroom, it takes a moment for her to register what she is seeing. Lawrence’s pillow is gone and so are all of his items off the nightstand. She looks over to the closet and sees that all of his clothes are gone, except for his Best Buy t-shirt. Strong statement or nah? He essentially left Issa and the old him behind, the Best Buy shirt reminding her that the growth she so desperately wanted from him will not be something she gets to experience. This is my take on Lawrence’s Revenge: he was not wrong for sleeping with Tasha. He was a single man. While him luring Issa home under the premise of having a conversation seemed harsh, I get it. He was hurt, and he knew how much it would hurt her to come home only to have her hopes painfully dashed. It was behavior I did not expect from Lawrence, especially after hearing how unimpressed he seemed hearing about his friends’ profane exploits and thoughts on Black women. By using Tasha as a rebound, he personified the lifestyle his friends were bragging about. Rebounds never work out, and now he has used someone who is genuinely interested in him just to soothe his ego and enact his revenge on Issa. But you know what they say: “hurt people, hurt people.” Lawrence is a perfect example of that.tumblr_ohd2541dd41qm5jggo1_1280 What makes Insecure such a good show is the realness of it all. He did what any man would have done. When it comes to love, sex and infidelity, people rarely take the high road. The double standard men have with cheating is that it is fine as long as they are doing the cheating. If the roles are reversed and they are the one who was cheated on, rarely are men forgiving. They have very fragile egos, and most can’t take that kind of betrayal. What Issa’s tryst with Daniel also showed us is how vilified women are if they ever make a mistake and step out of their relationship. Most of us watch Ghost cheat on Tasha every Sunday on Power, yet he does not face the same backlash. I could name countless examples. Women who cheat often face the ultimate punishment and rarely have any sympathizers. We are faced to wear some type of Scarlet Letter for eternity. For example, the character Judith in Tyler Perry’s “Temptation” was bored in a stagnant relationship and Tyler Perry decided to suddenly turn a nice, sweet woman into a drug using, disrespectful monster who ended up with HIV. The film basically told us that the moral of the story is if you cheat on your husband, the consequences are dire, if not deadly. Unfortunately, double standards are a part of the world we live in, and if Issa ever gets Lawrence back, I doubt he will ever be able to fully forgive her. She hurt him, made him feel like an idiot, and he will probably make her pay for it every chance he gets. Looks like we’ll be waiting an entire year to see what happens next.

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The New America

“…this is your life now…”


How terrifying. 

Yesterday, I had prepared somewhat of a witty post to make light of the election. This was before the polls closed, before the numbers came rushing in, and before the United States elected Donald Trump to the most powerful position in the world. That draft was quickly deleted. When Trump first announced his candidacy, like many others, I did not take him seriously. I did not believe that he was a real threat until just a few months ago. Even as a threat, I never imagined he would end up elected. I could not have been more wrong. The results of this election either left you joyous, or on the extreme opposite of the spectrum: fearful, confused, disappointmented, bewildered, and at a total loss of faith in the country you call home. In no way was this country perfect. Did I expect Hillary Clinton to wave a magic wand and rid America of the diseases of bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia and intolerance? Absolutely not. Would I have rather had her than Trump? tumblr_oezt3o2hfp1rms5soo1_500Undoubtedly. Hillary did not successfully win me over and I was not thrilled at the idea of a Hillary Clinton administration. The difference between the two is that we have a cookie cutter politician vs. a corrupt business man who spews hate and has a looming rape case hanging over his head. A man who has been accused of sexual assault multiple times. A man who mocks disabled people, makes derogatory remarks against Black people and other people of color, makes it common practice to sexualize and demean women, doesn’t pay his taxes, intends to restrict an entire religion from entering the country, and has zero political experience. People were more concerned about emails than the blatant hatred this man seems to have for every group who isn’t a straight, White male. This is who Americans have chosen to lead the country over these next four years. I am embarrassed to call myself an American. The systemic racism that this country founded itself upon has further solidified itself, and things have returned to the status quo. 8 years of a Black democrat was too much for America, and a woman who would step in and continue to push people out of their comfort zones was too much for the White male supremacist structure to bear. Despite my shock at the audacity of the American people, when I really stop and think about this, I am not surprised. As I watched his numbers continue to rise and rise, it just confirmed all of my feelings that America is as racist and sexist as ever. I was told today by a White man that “ghetto thoughts are the cause of my oppression.” He said that if I stop my ghetto thoughts, I can pull myself up out of the ghetto with hard work (I do not and have never lived in the ghetto). This man was dead serious. His logic was maddeningly backwards. Oppression is what pushed people into the ghetto. It is what keeps them there. If hard work was a cure for racism, Black people would not still be rallying for the rest of the world to hear our cries of injustice. We have been working hard for 400 years, and I still get followed around department stores from time to time. My hard work to get into a prestigious university was still diminished because I was constantly asked if I were there on an athletic scholarship or affirmative action. If I had told them their assumptions were racist, they would have taken offense. fullsizerenderThe blinders of White Privilege caused the majority of White women to vote for Trump, selling out to a sexist to protect their favored position in the racially charged environment that is America. The election of Donald Trump is a symbol. It is more than a shift in the dynamic of politics. His election has shown us how many of those who we work with, live by and call our friends are actually supporters of racism and bigotry. My neighbors were shooting off fireworks last night, in this liberal paradise we call Washington State. They are most likely the ones to have excuses as to why a police officer was justified in shooting an unarmed individual and will always try to make you believe that your experiences with racism were simply nothing more than a misunderstanding or the result of you overreacting. Aside from his bully-ish ways and radical views, the man has no political experience. He has never spoken on what he intends to do once he gets in office. His resume does not have anything on it pertaining to causes he has fought for, bills he has helped pass, his experiences with foreign policy, the economy, education reform, environmental protection, nothing. fullsizerender-002Instead, he shouts out what he plans to do like this is a middle school election and he wants to serve candy for lunch everyday. He wants to repeal Obamacare. Well how do you plan to make that better? *crickets*.  Any interest in the environmental issues we face? *crickets*. His strategy has been to fill our heads with what President Obama failed to do, why Hillary would have messed everything up, and how terrible her judgment is. Throwing other people under the bus just tells me that you don’t have any answers, so in order to take the heat off of yourself, you point the finger. Nice strategy. If this election has taught me anything, it’s that I should always shoot for the moon. All this time, employers were telling us we need 100 years experience to get an entry level job. That’s foolery. A man with a reality TV show who spends his time on Twitter is our next president. Seems to me his experience in the political realm is sorely lacking. I was denied a customer service job at JCPenney as a teenager, a job that requires little to no skill, yet a janxy businessman who loves to call names can be president of the most powerful nation in the world. We’ve set a great example for our kids. What else has set a great example for our kids? Oh yes, those of you who decided not to vote at all, or who thought it would be funny to write in Harambe or Hennesey on your ballot. This neglectful and blase attitude could have been the deciding factor in key states like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, states that Trump could not have won without. People tend to think everything is a joke until the real consequences come to light. If you need to learn how the Electoral College works, Google is two clicks away. Whether or not you believe this will have a significant impact on your life or not, you never know. I would have rather not taken the chance. Racial tensions have already been thick, and now the figurehead of our country is someone who casually makes racist remarks as if he is discussing the weather. The floodgates have opened for those who have been dying for the opportunity to be overtly prejudiced. Where we are supposed to go from here as a nation, I do not know. Do we fight the system? Wait these 4 years out and ensure he does not run again or win a second term? Wait for any grounds we can use to impeach him? If you have the answer, please share. I have encouraged Facebook friends and Twitter followers to delete me if they are Trump supporters, and I am unapologetic about it. I have been told it is childish to lose friends over a difference of opinion. This is deeper than a difference of opinion. If you can support someone who openly condones everything I am against,  I have no interest in having you in my circle. I do not acknowledge Donald Trump as my president. I never will, and I do not want to hear any complaints once he drives this country into the ground. This is what you wanted, America.

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All Lives Never Mattered

I think I’m going to come up with a new saying for 2016. I think that new saying is going to be ” All Lives Never Mattered.” I’m going with this phrase because whenever the term Black Lives Matter comes into conversation, there is always the rebuttal that All Lives Matter. Well I thought “all” was an inclusive word. Since ALL means everything, the total lot, nothing or no one left out, why is there offense taken by some people when someone says Black Lives Matter? I didn’t see Only Black Lives Matter or Black Lives Matter Most anywhere. I mean, let’s be honest; if all lives truly mattered, #BlackLivesMatter would not exist. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. My tendency to do this is waning due to the fact that I find it hard to accept that society can really be that obtuse. We wouldn’t feel the ntumblr_o9z7q8xkxr1uafcu7o1_1280eed to remind people that Black Lives Matter if Black lives were treated with the same sacredness as say, White lives. I am Black and I am also a woman. If I were to start a slogan that Women’s Lives Matter would men start getting upset? If I wanted to bring awareness to save women from the Brock Turners of the world, would I get drowned out by the cries ALL GENDERS MATTER! I don’t think so. The #AllLivesMatter crew only seems to care about all lives when they need to refute the arguments of Black Lives Matter. Why didn’t all lives matter when the people of Flint, Michigan were drinking contaminated water? Where was the public outrage? Why didn’t all lives matter when the victims of Hurricane Katrina were waiting on public aid for months, and even years? Why didn’t all lives matter when two thousand people died in India last year due to the heat wave? Since America seems to feel so strongly about the well-being of all lives, why aren’t we all out here advocating for all the marginalized people of the world? I completely agree that all lives matter. Every life is sacred and has meaning. However, certain lives in this country are requiring a little more TLC and social justice than other lives right now. If you’re a parent and have a sick child, would you tell that sick child “all my kids deserve good health!” No, you’re going to nurse that sick child until it’s back on the same plane as the other children. Lets use some common sense here. We have a problem in America. Is this all underlying tension that has been kept under wraps for too long and now its bubbling over? Are we at some type of transition and a major change is coming? I don’t know, but I know people are getting fed up.

Colin Kaepernick

We all know of Mr. Kaepernick. Former starting quarterback for the 49ers, now backup quarterback, but great athlete all the same. As of late, we have all become very familiar with him and his decision to no longer stand for the national anthem. Due to the frequent shootings of Black people from police officers who then face no consequences, Kaepernick doesn’t feel it’s appropriate to stand for a song and flag that is not protecting all American citizens. Seems pretty hypocritical to him. A flag that is supposed to represent freedom but allows its residents to be killed for no reason doesn’t seem to represent the best tumblr_ocsrkepmnr1rbam90o1_1280interest of everyone across these 50 states. It was of no surprise to me the backlash he received for his choice to sit down and now kneel, for the anthem. I have seen him called a plethora of racial slurs, have seen people say he has no respect and some have told him to leave the country if he hates it so much. Kaepernick has said he’s even received death threats. What I find so interesting about this whole scenario is that when people are rioting and looting, the response is that this is not the solution to the problem. When Kaepernick decides to peacefully and quietly demonstrate, he is told he is disrespecting our country, veterans and that this is not the answer. Well I would like to know, what is the answer? Act out in rage and now you’re a disgrace. Act out in peaceful silence and you’re a disgrace. tumblr_ococuvsyz31uxvrrjo1_500Whenever a Black person shows resistance regarding his current situation, he is now a problem and he should just shut up and be grateful for his current status. Sweep the problem under the rug and it no longer exists. According to #VeteransForKaepernick, they fought for his right to stand or sit and many of them do not feel disrespected. The anthem and the flag is not solely about our military, but about the freedom of all Americans. If one sect of America is being killed by law enforcement at disproportionate rates without consequences, then how free is this country? I admire Kaep’s willingness to take a stand on what he believes in (or seat I should say) and its been interesting to see others follow suit. If you are upset over Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the anthem but see no issues with police officers murdering people in cold blood, you are a part of the problem. You can’t proclaim to be an advocate for freedom but try to justify senseless murders, especially when the people committing the murders are those sworn to protect and serve. But all lives matter, right? Lets cut the B.S. If you stand firm by all lives mattering, why can’t you see the logic behind Kaepernick’s protest? I don’t know if people lack empathy or if they are just unwilling to understand, but put yourself in a different frame of mind. Imagine that whenever you saw a police officer your anxiety levels shot through the roof because you feel you may be the next hashtag. Imagine that your car breaks down on the side of the road, and now you’re afraid to wait for assistance because you don’t want to become the next Terence Crutcher. There is absolutely no reason why anyone in America should feel like their life is on the line when they encounter someone sworn to protect and serve. There is no excuse to justify these murders.

But What About Black on Black Crime?

The most frustrating counterargument in response to #BlackLivesMatter is “well, what about black on black crime?” This is a ridiculous statement for several reasons. The topic of black on black crime is just meant as a distraction to draw people away from the real issues that predominantly Black communities face due to factors such as gentrification, the “war on drugs” (aka the war on Black people), underfunded schools and mass incarcerations of people of color. If you place the blame on the citizens, then there is no accountability to be taken for those who contributed to the community’s demise. When you rob communities of necessary resources and leave them to fend for themselves, of course crime will ensue. Impoverished communities no matter the race tend to experience tumblr_o9zu0en8ac1v1rpqpo1_500higher crime rates, so this actually fuels the logic that black on black crime is a ridiculous sentiment. You are going to commit crimes against those in closest proximity to you, so you will see that Whites tend to commit crimes against other Whites, Mexicans against Mexicans and so on and so forth. Tragedy strikes, and the first thing #AllLivesMatter brings up is “they’re killing each other in Chicago daily, they don’t even care about Black lives!” Well I didn’t know that Chicago was the only city that had high rates of crime,
Black people do protest black on black crime, and if you really did care about all lives, you would be trying to curb the violence in places like Chicago as well. Even if Black people wanted to kill each other off like it was going out of style, since when did they take an oath to protect and serve American citizens? Tyrone kills Greg and Tyrone is going to jail for 30+ years. Officer Tom kills Tyrone and Officer Tom is getting paid administrative leave, aka a paid vacation. tumblr_odumblq2fi1uw7g39o1_1280Not only is he getting paid time off, but his reason for neglecting all of his training to subdue someone without the use of deadly force will be justified. The media will vilify the victim, and if he has some type some mug shot, that will be the first thing plastered on the news. The social media warriors will start on their usual banter of the why didn’t he comply, he shouldn’t have reached in his car, he should have done this or he shouldn’t have done that. No one should be all that upset because Black people kill each other at alarming rates everyday, so what’s the big deal? It is extremely upsetting that people get killed based off of how they look, and so many find a reason as to why the murder was just. If you are that afraid of Black people then maybe you should have chosen another profession. I am deathly afraid of snakes, so why would I chose a job as a zookeeper and work in the reptile room? Every time a snake slithers its tongue at me I would want to chop it down, and now I’m blaming the snake when I’m the one who is too fearful to be working in that profession. Go be a gardener, go be a dog walker, but don’t choose a career where you don’t have the heart to do your job without resulting to deadly force.

All Cops Aren’t Bad

What is the next favorite argument? “All cops aren’t bad” and “All White people aren’t racist.” Of course all cops aren’t bad and obviously all White people aren’t racist. We have a problem when the cops who ARE bad are not held accountable for their actions that result in deaths of innocent people. People are being taken away from their families, and America does not seem to care. All White people aren’t racist, but go on Facebook and Twitter and read the comments on a controversial post and you will see how many White people feel confident enough to call Black people niggers and tell them to go back to Africa behind a keyboard or touchscreen. I was appalled at the types of comments I’ve seen over the past couple of years, yet people still deny that racism exists. I’ve encountered extremely friendly cops and I know plenty of White people with whom I am friends that have treated me with nothing but respect. However, if you do have Black people in your family or social circle, it is imperative that you take it upon yourself to listen to our experiences and to not try and convince us that things are not as bad as they seem. So many think that our demands and cries for justice and dramatic and unnecessary, but how many more Black people need to be killed by trigger happy police officers before everyone can accept that we have a problem here? Caring about all lives means that you are willing to open your mind and eyes to reality and accept that change needs to happen. Caring about all lives means that you are no longer content living in the denial that the freedom the anthem and flag is supposed to stand for is actually inaccurate. You don’t have to agree with everyone’s method of protest, but you can attempt to empathize with the turmoil the giphyBlack community is facing. How do we fix this problem? First things first, police officers need to be held accountable. It isn’t just Black people who see this as a problem, there are people from all walks of life and races who are outraged by the state this country is in. If we can all get on the same page, we can start to enact change. Lets create some open dialogue, keep protesting and get out of denial. Since all cops aren’t bad, the “good” cops need to start calling out their peers. There is no way I would allow my colleagues to make me look bad. I’m putting you on blast! I’m not putting my best foot forward everyday and waking up before sunrise to have the next person put all my hard work to shame. One bad apple spoils the whole bunch, so we need to find a way to rid ourselves of the unfit. Recent events have proven that we have not come much farther since 1965; racial tension is at an all time high. Whether you choose to stand, kneel, march or write for change, advocate somehow. Inaction is action, and silence when people are in need does nothing but condone the turmoil.