A Poem.

God is still in control.

Dreams/Cornflakes with Hot Milk and Bananas

I dream of you with my eyes open.
I can’t get to drum you up at night because I am scared the Universe will tell my secret
When I am out, under the light of the sun
You are what lies beyond my eyes
Holding my hands
Dancing with me
Making me feel dangerous
Why are you here and what are you going to do?
I am not who you think I am
I don’t know who I think I am
You look at me like I make you comfortable
I wonder what it is you see
When I am on the other side of you.

Diaspora Darling

L. Samantha Smith

February 9th, 2019

 

When I was little, I knew we were different. Not only because of my parents and their thick accents, but because of the lines they drew around us and the other children in the neighborhood. I remember my mother saying, “You are not to go and play with those kids! They are not like us!” Even now, 30 years later, it rings out like an echo.

A black mom boomerang.

There was a feeble metal gate around the apartment we lived in. Me and my brothers were the only kids who lived in our building. The other kids, the ones I often saw at school, lived in the houses that wrapped around ours, and they were allowed to run free, back and forth, being kids. Not us. We weren’t allowed to play with the American kids. I was so shocked the first time I heard my mother say it. They were the same color as us. I suppose I would have taken it better if she had said we couldn’t play with the white kids, but there weren’t any to play with anyhow. They only existed at school. Kids like us were bussed in with our greasy paper bag lunches and thick lips.

I went to school in West Boca and lived in East Delray. Worlds apart. I couldn’t play at school, because the kids didn’t like us, and I couldn’t play at home because my mom didn’t like the kids. We had it rough. One day, I told my mom I hated her because she wouldn’t let me go over to April’s house. April was my best friend. She was boisterous and exciting! I of course got a beating for saying that. My brothers were the audience. I remember going to hide in the closet by the water heater so I could fume. She found me and wore me out.  Her feelings were hurt. Or maybe she thought she had to whip the asshole out of me. I get that. I just wanted to be like the other kids! Already, we were eating different foods and listening to different music than everyone else, and lots of times we had to walk to get where we needed to go. I felt super marginalized.

 

Until I met some Haitian kids.

 

It started while I was in elementary school, so this had to be anywhere between 1988 and 1993.  A kid would walk up, put a hand out to shake yours and say, “Congratulations, you’re a Haitian.” Most times, both parties would just laugh. At other times, there would be a halfway serious punch thrown. On rare occasions, a fight would break out. No one wanted to be called a Haitian. They were the new kids all the time. Very quiet. Sometimes dressed in clothes that didn’t make sense from a chromatic point of view.  Thick hair. Lots of grease. More barrettes than anyone else. Sometimes there were tons of ribbons. Heavy perfume. Now that I think back, it was probably Razac. Look it up. Order some. Superior moisturization and fragrance.

The migration wave that my siblings and I witnessed was brought on by nightmarish conditions in Haiti. There has scarcely been a time in history where the citizens of Haiti haven’t been crippled by some corrupt political regime. When we were growing up, Aristide had just been overthrown and Haiti was under military rule. An estimated 3,000 people were killed. Others fled. To South Florida, and New York, and other parts of the Caribbean. My father used to tell me stories of how Haitian immigrants traveled to  Jamaica seeking shelter. Many were turned away. He never explained why. In my adult life, I have met a couple Haitian people who tell me they were born or raised in the Bahamas. Or Turks and Caicos.

When Haitians first started moving into the United States, they weren’t allowed to donate blood. They were blamed for an influx of tuberculosis and HIV cases. Bear in mind that the US had a huge hand in making their already fragile political/social situation worse. Though the government allowed the Haitian citizens to come here, they were highly stigmatized for at least a decade.

One day, when I was in the third grade, a Haitian girl was violently attacked on the bus ride home. I think it was Tonya Jackson who led the assault. She was the prettiest girl on our bus, and maybe even the prettiest girl at the school. The victim-I believe her name was Sheila, was sitting alone in her seat, holding her books to her chest when Tonya just started punching her. She didn’t fight back. Someone stopped it-the bus driver I think. I just remember Sheila crying and saying she didn’t do anything.

When she walked off the bus, her clothes were askew and her face was swollen and bruised.

When my Haitian peers weren’t getting jumped on, they were being ridiculed for the way they smelled, or asked whether or not it was true that they ate cats. At other times, they were alienated because people said they did voodoo. I am going to guess these rumors came from people’s parents. My mother never said anything bad about Haitian people or their children. But my father did. He was always saying they were nasty, they didn’t bathe, or they had roaches. It was horrible. This was even more interesting because he said crazy things about other Caribbean people too. We were told to stay away from the Trinidadians because they thought they were better than others. The Bajans had sex in their butts. The Guyanese had AIDS. I don’t know where he got this stuff from. He was only okay with other Jamaicans apparently. He seems to have widened his scope now. In recent years, he has gone on to work with several  Haitian people. As a matter of fact, I had a very basic conversation in Creole with a new client of his while I was there painting his office.

 

Which brings me to the point of this writing: I am in love with Haiti and Haitian culture.

 

I think my fascination started when I was teaching at Atlantic High. I had gone there as a student, and by that time (1999-2002), the tide had turned as far as attitudes toward Haitian people were concerned. Haitian flag day was widely celebrated on our campus. Flags, bandanas, and tee shirts emblazoned with the crest from the island’s flag adorned many chests and backsides. Creole was widely spoken in the halls. My first high school boyfriend, Fred Blaise was Haitian. My father was obviously peeved by this fact, but the relationship didn’t last long anyway. No biggie.

As a teacher, I was able to gain more insight into the lives of the people a few islands away from the one I was born on. The students taught me words! They brought me food! I felt like the few phrases I learned made me a bit of an insider. Additionally, I got to understand that the Haitian culture, and its respective language had roots in some of the same ones as mine (Yuroba, Spanish, Taino, Portuguese). We were so connected! Now, obviously as an educated woman, I already knew that, but it didn’t really hit home until one day a student called me, “Je Ch`ech” which in english translates to “Dry Eyes,” because of a comment I made regarding an assignment he had turned in. Although the meanings are different, in patois, there is a term called “Red Eye,” which means that you are envious of someone else. According to my grandmother, “Dry Eye” is also used in patois to mean you’re behaving in a way you know you shouldn’t. As a lover of language, especially the ones surrounding my heritage, this was a big deal! A revelation. I annoy all my Haitian friends when we talk on the phone now, because they will give me a piece of news and I may reply with, “Kisa, Jezi! Or Mezanmi!” One of my closest friends loves to remind me that I am Jamaican and not Haitian. I think she is a little jealous of the fact that I can go between dialects as seamlessly as I do. Either way, at this point in my life, I am disappointed in all my Haitian friends who have failed to take me to their mother country for a genuine experience. Some of them are afraid to go because of concerns about the crime in certain areas. Others fret over the so called “zombies” who roam the dark streets at night. I am not concerned about either of those things. I live in Inglewood, California. There’s the crime thing being shot down, and I don’t believe the zombies exist.

As I sit on my porch eating my ackee and saltfish, Haiti is on my mind. I know it won’t be long until I am in Jacmel wearing a fantastic bikini, eating Djon Djon or L`egume with my people.

O’ Brother, Where Art Thou

In the 34 years I’ve been here in this body-in this lifetime, I had one fight with him. On Facebook. He had already been displaying some signs of mental instability. One day before I moved to Maryland, I had to come get him from my dad’s shop. He was standing in front of the office in the rain as stiff as a statue. To this day, I don’t know why he did it. I know that he didn’t come away with me that day. I pulled and tugged at his arms, his uniform shirt, his fingers. I whispered to him. I raised my voice. He was planted there. I am looking at him now, water streaming down his golden locs. He was a beautiful man. Conflicted like we all are.

The fight we had was about the choice I made to marry my wife, Ambyr. He was furious, and for some reason, he decided to make some wayward comments on a picture from my wedding. We said some mean things to each other. He said we were “nasty” and a host of other things I am sure he learned from listening to Capleton. I wasn’t necessarily peeved by his opinion, since in my culture, not many people understand or accept the fact that not every woman- no matter the way she presents herself- wants to be taken down night after night by some guy with a big dick, or muscles, or a beard. He threw out what he had learned by being from where we were from, and while I thought it was disgraceful for him to address us like that on Facebook, I knew that because he was he was a prisoner of thinking that didn’t belong to him, it wasn’t personal. My days are riddled with comments I don’t give a shit about because I know not to take things personally.

I felt that in time we could talk about it, and laugh at it like we did everything else. I was right. One day while on the phone with a close family friend, he got on the line, voice as robust and shiny as ever. “Hey sis! What’s up? How are you? I miss you and I love you!” I returned the sentiments while shaking my head at his change in mood towards me. He never held grudges against people, which was a blessing to me in this instance. I was serious about defending my views, and my relationship, but I loved my brother, and I wanted him in my life. When I had Levi, he would text and ask about him. Jermaine was elated I had a baby boy to love. He had always told me I was going to make a great wife and mother. Heck, I guess in a way I helped mother him even though he was a year old than me. When we were in high school, I would make sure my baby sister was asleep and then slink off to his room to spend time talking about the day, and our dreams, and there we would sleep, two almost adults, all curled up together. He was my security blanket.

And then things changed.

He went to college in Tallahassee. When he came back a couple years later, I was in Daytona pursuing my own education. Tensions were high between him and my father. He felt like I took my father’s side in their arguments, but still came to visit me all the time. I did the same. When he and Crystal moved out and got an apartment, their place was always my first stop when I came back home. We got tattoos together, and he never quite accepted the fact that I didn’t know how to smoke weed, or had no desire to learn. He playfully made fun of how prissy I was. I always laughed right along with him, but secretly wished I did enjoy it so we could have more things in common like our love of The Young and the Restless, Twinkies, and fish sandwiches from Bud’s Chicken and Seafood. We always laughed at the fact that we were super close although we didn’t share a mother, only our father, who we both kind of followed around at all times and tried to emulate. I suppose he was better at that than me.

In the months leading up to his death, I received numerous calls from friends talking about Jermaine riding around on a bike all over the city, having more and more children, and stalking a girl whose husband threatened to kill him if he kept coming around the house bothering her. I always followed up with the people who made these calls, and with my father and my siblings, and honestly, I was never pleased with their answers. In my mind, it was simple-he clearly needed help, and that meant that someone-our family is huge- should have helped him. Maybe even me. I left Florida in 2013, and by all accounts, I have lived a blessed life. I can’t think of anything I need that I don’t have. I suppose I considered myself too far away to help, but is that the truth? I don’t know. What I do know is that his death covers me. It is a net over my existence right now. I miss his smile so much. I hear his laugh in my ears before I close my eyes, and though I haven’t been dreaming much lately, when I do-his face is there.

One single shot to the chest. A woman nearby held him and prayed with him as he transitioned. I am so grateful for that. I just keep wondering what he was thinking when it happened. He was so goofy and sweet. He probably thought it was a joke.

I have been in Florida since the day he died, and every couple days, his children come over. He is stamped on their faces. Jermaine is nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

I Wrote This Last Month

Is it possible that living in the shadows, only coming alive in the night time or when around kindred spirits brings out the best in one creatively? What about the assertion that while you’re in a room alone wondering alone why your impulses are so different from others that your mind is allowed to climb higher trees and pick misshapen, yet delicious fruit?

Last week, after the Janelle Monae concert, I totally fanned out over Lena Waithe.

One of my friends is an old acquaintance of Monae’s and as such, we were granted the opportunity to go backstage and congratulate her on having an otherworldly performance. Somewhere along the way, I saw Lena. THE LENA. Lena who makes me, and I am sure-some of you, dear readers- cry with her true-to-life portrayal of life in Chicago with her gripping show, The Chi. In  my case, I am not sure if I am more envious of her writing, or her character on Master of None, Denise. That episode where her coming out story unfolds is so pivotal for many queer folks, including myself. My story wasn’t as neat as Denise’s, but as black woman, I know all too well what it is like to not be taken seriously by family once everyone is no longer in denial about your sexuality. Right now, she is a bastion for creatives of color who also live in the LGBTQ world.

And so, I totally lost it when I saw her.

“Lena, I love you!” That was the best I could come up with when I was faced with the second unicorn of the night. I am not sure whether it was the overpriced wine, or the intoxication brought on by breathing the same air as Janelle Monae, but some force took my words, and only those four came out.

She did wave at me though. A win is a win.

I Think I Might Understand Now

I came to the page this morning to write a review of Sing, Unburied, Sing. My intention was to discuss the way Jesmyn Ward used the tiniest edges of her fingernails to peel back our layers. Remember that layer of skin your mother used to peel off when she pinched the spirit out of you? Maybe that was just my mother.

She gave us mother-daughter issues, mother-son issues, prison issues, racism, drug abuse, magical realism, African spirituality, and most of all, there was a little nod to Of Mice and Men, or I’ll-take-my-own-before-you- can.

This is what came out instead:

 

I don’t know how old I was when my brother went away. It was like waking up from one of those long, afternoon naps where you are disoriented and think the entire day has passed, but in reality, you’ve only been sprawled out on the couch for a few hours. He was just gone. But not all at once. His existence had started to chip away earlier on. I can remember him jumping off a roof to get away from my dad at his apartment complex. I still see my mother hitting him with an iron. The time when my dad beat him for supposedly stealing a bike lives in the foyer of my memory. So does the little studio my mother rented for him to live in because he had a gun, and my mom didn’t want him in the house with us. It was always dark inside, and the two times I went down there, the bed was a cloud of sheets and blankets. When I used to tell people about that, I would feel so silly. For my mother. Not for me- all the while thinking, why would a mother let her kid keep a gun, much less allow him to live in the flat below her because of the gun? I think I might understand now.

Anyhow, he slipped away from me, from us, perhaps sometime before I was ten. She told us he was in a special school when we started to ask her. I believed her, even though the heave of her chest, and the aversion of her gaze said something totally different. I am connected to her in a special way, since I am her only daughter-but he even more so, since he is her first-born son. She wasn’t about to sell him out to me, or maybe she didn’t think I was old enough to handle knowing that my brother was locked away with other people being corralled like animals for whatever reason. He was young when he left, the detention center only a lily pad leading the way to prison.

My father was the one who told us. He had an emotional outburst one night at the dinner table. I am not sure what brought it on. We always had pleasant talks around the dinner table, who did what at school-who pissed daddy off at Tropical Kitchens-what patients shit themselves at Jenny’s job-which girls had better stop calling. This night, daddy probably had too much rum. The tears rolled down his face, and we were all confused, except my baby sister, because she was always smiling and happy to be around everyone else at dinner time, even if she never ate unless it was chicken nuggets and fries; this went on for years. My step-mom put her hand over his and called his name, but he snatched it away, and began a tirade that made all the hearts at the table bleed and fly away.

My son! They took my son, and his fucking mother lied! She lied to everybody! I could have helped! If she would have told me what was really happening, I could have helped! But she fucking lied, and now my son is sitting in prison! My son! My first son!”

By the time the curses and the yelling slowed down, his voice was a black and white fuzzy screen we were trying to make a picture of, and his body looked like a deflated balloon, slumped over the glass table. His eyes and face were swollen from the crying. I was crying too. But not because of my brother. I was crying for my mother who felt like she couldn’t tell us what really happened with my brother. I am crying now too, because I think I might understand.

He got out while I was still in high school. His eyes looked a little wild when he came from the back room to hug me, but I was so happy and so full of expectation. This was my big brother! The smartest, strongest (next to my dad) man I knew! And isn’t there something special about hugging someone with the same blood as you? It is fork-to-outlet electric.  We hugged and hugged and he smiled his broad, unzipping his face smile, and I drank him in for all the years I hadn’t seen him and asked him stupid questions. And I was happy, because he didn’t seem sad or crumpled, or broken. My head was fireworks.

He lives in Jamaica now, which I am so jealous of, but he deserves it. The story of how he came to be in prison is unclear to me. I won’t tell you here what I used to tell people when they asked where my big brother was. I told people what I overheard. I never asked him. And I probably never will.

But I think I might understand.

Yellow Crocus Review

Book: Yellow Crocus 

Author: Laila Ibrahim

 

There were so many things about Yellow Crocus that grabbed me by the collar. I don’t know how not to talk about it. This book finds me at a time where I am questioning how my fertility issues are going to collide with the wishes of my family, and what I think is right for us. It comes at a time where Black women’s bodies and the children who come from them are under attack, and finally there is some attention being paid to the challenges we face as vessels of life. We are also looking deeper into the nature of some men, and their insistence that they have agency over the female body. We are examining the role of the “magical negro,” and daring to step away from that label-walking out into the sun from under that awning.

I have never been a fan of e-readers, or e-books, so I am not sure how I ended up with an Amazon fire, but I dug it out of the rubble from under my journals and desk supplies, powered it up and finished Whiskey and Ribbons (another must read) on it. Once I was full of that magic, I went looking for something else I could run my fingers across while my son and partner lay sleeping next to me at night, breathing swirls of forever into the air.

The cover art is arresting. A young black woman with eyes that are almost hollow, yet electric ring out with cries for help. The little white girl a top her lap has a round innocent face. It is clear she is a well-fed baby. From the breast of that black woman. The picture tells its own story. We all know it. Once upon a time, it was not en vogue for a white woman of status to use her own breast, her own milk-her own life blood to feed her child. That duty was reserved for a wet nurse, or “Mammy.” I will never understand how someone you consider your subordinate gets to feed your child with their milk, but I digress.

I almost went past this book, because I didn’t want to examine it and come away feeling bewildered or upset about how the tide has turned, but then the title held my hand and walked me back to my first teaching assignment where me and a friend would yell out “Crocus” at least twice a week to pick on each other for having huge purses which resembled crocus sacks. I made a connection as I read the words Yellow Crocus and dove right in.

Yellow Crocus is the story of Mattie, a slave on a large plantation on Virginia, and her charge, Lisbeth. As soon as Lisbeth is born, Mattie is made to leave her baby boy, Samuel with her father, affectionately known as Poppy,  and her close friend, Rebecca, so she can move into “the big house,” and work as a wet nurse to Lisbeth. Mattie knows that she will have to perform this task well before Lisbeth is born, and she is rife with emotion. In some ways, she is resigned to life as a slave, and understands that as such, she is beholden to the whims of the whites who are “Doing their Christian duty” and taking care of the blacks. As Lisbeth’s mother labors, Mattie savors the smell of her own baby, fully aware that these precious moments between them will soon be over.

Quite naturally, Lisbeth takes a shine to Mattie. She will not even entertain her own mother, who in a small way wants to nurse Lisbeth, but is restricted by societal norms and an overbearing mother-in-law. After one attempt to nurse Lisbeth, she gives up and allows the bond between Mattie and Lisbeth to grow. Another baby comes along, and when Mattie is commissioned to nurse the baby boy, Jack-Lisbeth is thrown into a tailspin that leaves her next to dead because in her protest, she refuses to eat or drink. The only thing that saves her is Mattie’s milk. As the years pass, Mattie watches her baby boy grow up through a window, and during her weekly visits to the slave quarters. Soon, she starts to bring Lisbeth with her. The girl becomes jealous of the bond between Mattie and Samuel. Lisbeth is green at the affectionate tickles and giggles they share, and the realization that no matter how close, Mattie is not her mother. Despite the bitterness she feels, Lisbeth uses her time with the slaves to teach Samuel to read and write. Mattie only learns the letters of her name. Years pass and Samuel is sold. His father’s plan to run becomes the right answer for her. She was against it when he was younger, almost bending her mind to her condition and seeing the silver lining in her role as a slave, even telling Emmanuel they didn’t have it that bad. When Samuel leaves for the neighboring plantation, Mattie is bereft, and ready to trust Emmanuel’s plan. It works, and Samuel and his father escape to Ohio. When the plantation owner realizes her son is missing, he orders Mattie to be brought in at once. She is beaten for three days and returns home where Lisbeth applies salve to her raw wounds.

Having experienced the uglier side of servitude, Mattie decides to run, joining Samuel and Emmanuel, leaving Lisbeth with a shell from her necklace. Lisbeth, though hurt, doesn’t betray Mattie, she keeps her secret and grows into an attractive lady. After going to several dances, she settles on a suitor. His name is Edward Cunningham, and he is heir to a sprawling estate. Right before they are set to be married, she sees Edward raping a slave, and is unraveled by his animalistic nature. After sharing concerns with her friend Mary, and her mother who both brush off her concerns about the man she is about to make a life with, she decides not to marry him, and opts to attach herself to Matthew Johnson, a kind and gentle man who wishes to move to Ohio and start a family. Though her parents go to extreme measures to keep her in Virginia, she persists and moves away with Matthew. She becomes pregnant, and Mattie serves as her midwife, helping her through a difficult labor. Talk about coming full circle!

I felt so many different emotions reading this book. Most of the time I was sad for Mattie. I am a mother. My son is my world, so I was right there with her feeling lost when another woman had to nurse Samuel so she could nurse Lisbeth. I was also sad for Ann, Lisbeth’s mother, because she wanted to do what was natural and suckle her own baby, but her mother-in- law was so adamant that she should not. Emmanuel made me proud when he went through with his plan to get himself and Samuel to freedom. Same with Mattie. There is a force within a woman which (Most of the time, there are exceptions.), will not allow anything to keep her from her children. I believe the author, Laila Ibrahim, beautifully illustrates this fact by having Mattie make the journey to Ohio with her baby, Jordan strapped to her back.

As a doula, the ending scenes where Mattie has to coach Lisbeth through a difficult labor lit a fire inside me, bringing me back to my first birth where I watched a young woman have c-section because she was deathly afraid of having her doctor turn the baby. Childbirth provides many opportunities for death or sickness. I love how in this book, the wisdom of the midwife, and strength of all members of the family make for a safe and successful delivery. It’s confirmation that we need each other.

Read this book. Maybe even twice.

Note: I have never done a book review before. If you read this whole thing, we go together now. 

Paradise is on the Dress of the Mother

“Yuh need yuh own pickney fi pull pon yuh frocktail.”

-The Great Prophet Auntie Jackie

 

There was a time when I didn’t want to be a mother. After graduating with my bachelor’s degree and trying to make sense of my life, I looked around and people I went to high school with started to have kids. In my mind, they were ruining their young, carefree lives by saddling themselves down with tiny humans who needed them for everything, and maybe were only a part of their lives because other people plant this seed in everyone’s mind, especially women’s minds-that having children is just something you do. No questions asked. I was fighting against that idea.

 

“Why should I have kids? They’re too expensive. What if my man doesn’t help me? I just want to have fun, and do my own thing!”

That was me every time my family asked about it, especially my Auntie Jackie. I would go to her house some weekends, and the fellowship needle somehow always landed on children. When I would rebuke the idea of having my own children, satisfied just watching my nieces and nephews or my friend’s kids, she would say, “Yuh need yuh own pickney fi pull pon yuh frocktail,” or “You need your own child to pull on the hem of your dress.” I staunchly disagreed with her, and would just laugh it off. I was fiercely determined to be the well-dressed, always tipsy aunt.

 

Auntie Jackie’s proclamation came to life tonight when a very sleepy Levi followed me all around the house pulling on my dress. I washed the dishes with his fists full of my dress. I put away his high-chair with him on the end of my dress. He only let go to close the hall closet door with me inside. I scanned Tidal for some jazz tunes while he had one arm wrapped around my right leg-the fingers of his left hand were full of the cheap, yet lovely dress I bought at Marshall’s. By the time I had a moment to take a shower, I was wondering how the dress hadn’t burst into flames, or started crying, or just disappeared from exhaustion.

As taxing as it can be for a small person to hang onto you for the better part of an evening, there is something edifying in knowing that someone in the world exists who purely wants to be with you, to have your attention, and to give you theirs.

 

I will take it.

This Might Have Typos

Today is totally one of those days.

It started with Levi standing in the hotel refrigerator like a ravenous teenager. I heard him hop off the bed. Before I knew it, there was a faint, yet insistent light shining in my eyes. There he was, in his crab pajamas helping himself to graham crackers. One rectangle in each hand. I sat up and told him to get out of the fridge, but he just bent down, scanning the bottom shelf for more goodies.

After spending a couple hours doing research and reading with Levi, I decided to get dressed and take him on walk so we could have lunch. Somehow, the 20 dollar umbrella stroller made it with us on the trip. After days back and forth on the cobblestones in Seaport Village, it finally started acting up at the crowded BBQ spot I picked.

On the way back, a got an email from the editor of a magazine I submitted an article for. Basically, I wrote thousands of words over the 1500 word requirement. How didn’t I know this was the rule? Last night, while I finished Create Dangerously, by Edwidge Danicat, I came across a couple passages where the author basically stated that when things happen in Haiti, media outlets contact her for her 1500 words. That smacked me right in the face today. I am so long winded. I’m either not talking at all, or talking too much!

Additionally, I’ve taken on two projects that are sure to complicate my life, passively argued with my wife, and have started to stress myself out about something that I know will resolve itself.

Fever blister loading…

On the bright side, like my team said-at least I wasn’t asked to shorten my long ass article, and I’m stepping out on faith in some major ways.

P.S. I am finally going to have a Well Read Black Girl shirt!!

And I am sorry Bae.

Just Thinking

Today, I am thankful I don’t get mad when I give Levi blueberries in his snack cup (And today it was too many-I knew that up front), and he throws them on floor. I also don’t get mad-or feel anything-when he has a tantrum because all the berries are on the floor. I simply listen to him count them as he drops them back into the cup and runs off sprinkling them all over the floor. Antioxidant confetti, if you will.

 

Anyhow, as I always do, I have some random thoughts bouncing around in my own snack cup (Coffee cup) I would like to share:

 

  1. When do we forgive?

 

Our family is in San Diego for a few days because Ambyr is taking part in a cybersecurity training thing (Read:There are so many nerds in the hotel that I am choking. I refuse to make eye contact. And eye contact is my thing) to gain more skills for work and for her business. Go Bae! We are downtown, right by the water which is usually a good thing, but it won’t get past 70 degrees the entire time we are here. Not good news. Anyhow, I was thinking of things I could take Levi to do today. I considered taking him to the zoo, but the only sneakers I have are some beat up Chuck Taylor’s that are sure to kill my feet and make me cranky. Sea World popped into my mind, and I quickly dismissed the thought, because well, everyone knows Sea World is evil. You saw Blackfish. Since the documentary was released, Sea World has made some changes to their brand, spurred by “Changing attitudes towards animal attractions.” Not only have they put 175 million dollars into new exhibits, they have also phased out all killer whale shows and captive breeding of orcas. This is good, right? Apparently not good enough for me to give them a chance on a day like today, where it is super gray and drab outside, and I would only have to travel like three miles. I am just done with Sea World. I almost feel silly about it, because hey, they are trying! But something inside is like, so what? They did major damage! No one should be going there! I have forgiven raggedy ass boyfriends for worse pain and suffering to my mind and body.

 

Here’s a list of other things/corporations/people I am boycotting at the moment:

  • Starbucks
  • The NFL (all pro sports really)
  • Pork (There is one exception)
  • Uber (I love Bozoma Saint John, but still)
  • Levi R. Leidig (He is playing with the berries again)

 

When do we forgive? Or are we forever mad?

 

  1. Geography is key.

 

Even though the internet can be a hotbed of negativity( The thing with Cardi B is killing me today), it also has its decent points. Globalization and the World Wide Web go hand in hand. Each time I talk to my brother in Jamaica, or his son in North Carolina, or even my fellow housewife friend-no clue what her name is-I have to smile at the power of connection.

Yesterday, I was talking to my nephew Amar, who is slowly becoming one of my favorite people. We discussed some of his new dance videos, and after tagging him in a post by one of my favorite comedians, Aphrican Ape, I told him he should take dance classes. He said the one closest to him in Rockingham, North Carolina, only caters to girls. I was incredulous. How could a dance school only want to teach girls? It’s 2018. To me, it made no sense, so I did some work on Google, and discovered that basically, the schools in his area weren’t for him. We virtually laughed and shook our heads, before he told me he wanted to come to California to make his dreams come true. I told him while many people move to California to make dreams come true, dreams come true wherever you make them. I expected him to agree, but what I love about the youth-and I always have-is their ability to make you think critically about what you say and do. They are not afraid to correct you, or challenge long held beliefs about life. He replied, “No one from Rockingham makes it out of Rockingham. The only person who made it out was The Dream, and he is a one hit wonder.” After correcting him about The Dream (The man has hits.), I thought about what he said, and while I still believe that the dream is bigger and more important than the place, there is no denying that sometimes geography can hold you back. The only thing my nephew can do to quench his thirst for dancing is start his own group, or use public transportation to find a class outside of his town. I have never been to Rockingham, but there are no classes for boys who want to dance, so I am already turned off. I know for sure there were a few switches in my life that only got turned on when I left Florida. I left Florida, got serious about writing, earned a degree, and started three businesses. Could I have done that in Florida?Absolutely. But I didn’t. That place grew me, taught me to read, and drive, and made me a fighter, but my ambition grew when my comforts were gone.

 

Additionally, examining place, and the role it plays makes me think of my new home in Inglewood, vs my previous residences in LA-first Mid-City, then North Hollywood. When I am in Inglewood, I step a little higher. My feet feel lighter. The lady at the security gate calls me “Miss Toya,” and I have only been familiar with her for a week. It is like we have known each other for a while, and though I joke about her calling me by my nickname because “she doesn’t know me,” she actually does, doesn’t she?

Carrying Black babies in present-day America is almost a state of emergency because our babies are disproportionately born premature, or die at birth because Black women are so stressed. The medical community has finally recognized Blackness as a strain on our minds and bodies so strong that we are not thriving. We are “the others” in a major way. While I admit I have felt this otherness in places like Glendale, at a nail shop run by young Armenian girls, I usually brush it off, because I am a queen and I know that, no matter where I am-it is a real feeling.

 

When I am in Inglewood, drums beat in my ears and the pulse of the people hums through the streets. I know the history of my current city, but things are changing. Fear not, family members-it isn’t like the movies you have seen.

 

I am at home.

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