Mirror, Mirror on the…phone?

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Picture from: She’s So Bright

 

I have decided to go on an Instagram fast for the month of May. Continue reading

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Make Your Own Plan

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Photo from Christianity Today

 

 

So I recently found out a young lady who calls herself a Christian is pregnant out of wedlock. She has made claims of abstaining from sex prior to marriage but considering the proverbial cat is out of the bag, she has now announced she has made a fresh commitment to “again” be celibate. She says her pregnancy is just a part of God’s plan.

It makes me wonder, the many people who do not claim to be Christians who have become unwed parents, are those occurrences outside of “God’s plan because they have not pledged allegiance to a deity?

The logic proposed by Christians and religion have worn me out time and time again. Now, I ask you to think about that comment considering the context within which I exist.

I am a black woman living in the New World; the Caribbean to be exact. In Antigua, secular events are started with a prayer and people speak of their religious Christian belief as the only option available. I myself at one time was a die- hard believer until logic (perhaps it was the maturing of my prefrontal cortex) caused me to stop believing over the course of a few years. I could write a novella on how I came not to believe in religion but I reserve that for a later post or perhaps an actual novella.

Since coming to terms with the fact that I genuinely believe the religion I have been socialized to believe is the mechanism whereby I would improve myself is a ruse, I have become aware of the the hold religion has over people.

I can respect the fact that people have the right to freedom of religion (I know what the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights says) but I cannot overlook that religion is something that was forced upon us Black people in the New World.

We were drilled into accepting the Christian doctrine. For us to have access to education, Black people had to be christened and take on the names of their white oppressors.

Christianity has been used to justify the atrocities that have been committed against us and we still use it to make sense of the injustice that comes our way.

I have heard Black Christian people say chattel slavery came to West Africans so they (my ancestors) could learn of the Gospel of Christ. Our brother is unjustifiably by Police and it’s a part of God’s plan which we are too lowly to fathom. We have also used it to make sense of our failures and disappointments. I have a family member who wanted to gain certification in early childhood education, however, a miscarriage and a decision to try again for a baby halted her pursuit. She still has hopes of working in the field and even opening a preschool but says perhaps it wasn’t a part of God’s plan for her to complete her studies. Try to follow this. She still has the dream but the dream requires effort to be brought to fruition. To me, she simply doesn’t want to put in the effort to accomplish the dream so therefore the obstacles are conveniently a part of God’s plan.

In the same way, sometimes, people make decisions which according to them were outside of God’s plan. Fornication and premarital pregnancies. However, when they find themselves reaping the results of their actions, it is agreeable to label them as a part of God’s plan.

We all go through undesirable experiences in life and make regrettable decisions and I think that makes us human. I think when we claim to be a part of a religious faith, there are so many expectations placed on us and rightly so because we ourselves tend to adopt a moral superiority. I can attest to this with my time in the church. So when we fall far from these expectations, we feel the need to work them into being a part of God’s blueprint and offer an explanation for decisions we have made in our personal lives.

Again, I respect people’s right to religious freedom. However, I want to let people, ESPECIALLY Black people know you do not have to be a Christian. You know you like to dress revealingly, you don’t have to apologize or explain yourself to your religious leaders. If you like to listen to trap music … that’s okay. If you are having sex out of marriage, be honest about who you are and the outcomes you want for your life instead of trying to be something you are not.  As a matter of fact, being honest about your sexual practices may help you to avoid becoming pregnant become you want to .

I know what it feels like to feel like if you are not a Christian, you are a bad person. I have made the decision and am still making the decision to just be me. Just be you. Provided that you are not hurting other people, allow yourself to live the life you truly want to live instead of living a life that has been beat, screamed and pushed into you.

The Fight is Real

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There was a time in my life when I couldn’t bother to argue and I just accepted colors in the region of beige as being nude. But other black people did not and look what we have in the picture above. DSW acknowledging that white does not define the standard of humanity. Nudes come in different shades and dark brown is a true nude to someone out there. Continue reading

Have a bit of Ambition

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Image from Project Life Mastery

 

With the start of a new year, people generally take the time to reflect on what they’ve accomplished in the previous year and make plans for the new one. There was a time when I would consistently make New Year’s Resolutions but then I stopped for a while because I thought any change that I wanted to make, I could make immediately.

However, there are some things that require that powerful four letter word- T-I-M-E. Maybe you would like to go on an exotic vacation but you are making car payments and need to wait until those 5 years have expired, maybe you want to apply for a new job but the position you’ve been eyeing requires years of earning a professional certification or degree. So, with this in mind,  it is wise to think about the opportunities that come with a new year.

Maybe you always wanted to learn Spanish, there is probably registration going on right now, maybe you want to go back to school, you have months to get ready for the next semester. Take advantage of these opportunities. Continue reading

Finding my Black Beauty

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Painting by Lois Mailou Jones from Katie Lazo’s Art Blog

 

I have been becoming more comfortable creating my identity. I have been shaking off more of the ideals placed on me by others and ideals I have placed on myself. In relation to my blackness, I have been feeling more confident in believing in the beauty of my blackness even when support from others is lacking. Continue reading

Insecure Season Finale

Yes, this post is hella late so let’s get right to it.

The season finale of HBO’s successful show Insecure was dubbed Hella Perspective as the show displayed what was happening in the lives of key characters- Lawrence, Molly and Issa.

 

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Lawrence showing up at the apartment he once shared with Issa. Photo from Spoiler TV

We see that Lawrence actually pursued a relationship with Aparna but he is battling insecurities as he knows that Aparna slept with a co- worker and she seems to be quite comfy with said co-worker to date. Mr. Lawrence just does not know how to be single and is walking about bruised from Issa cheating on him. He gets into an argument with Aparna in his car over her relationship with the co- worker when Aparna sees a call coming in from Issa on Lawrence’s phone and she walks out. Oh and I’m ready for Lawrence to walk out of this show because he is hella boring.

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Molly at work meeting. Photo from YouTube

Moving on, we see that Molly is back to seeing her therapist (YAY!) and decides to open up herself to the possibility of dating the brother with the “pastor’s body.” This is where I had to say nay. I saw people on social media saying that Molly should give this man a chance after the previous episode but I do not believe in forcing feelings in a relationship. Yes, be open to the possibility of doing things outside the norm but please do not force the feelings. Molly, open up yourself to possibly seeing this guy romantically but do not try to conjure something that isn’t there. All I could see coming from someone doing something like this is hurt, pain and possible cheating because you find out later on that you really are not interested in the person on that level.

Anyway, we see Molly being a good friend to Issa and the two ladies dressing up in traditional Moroccan garb (Issa got the man’s garment while Molly got the lady’s wear, lol :D) as Issa could not afford to go on an exotic vacation. We also see Sister Molly trying on some lingerie and opens the door looking like she’s ready for some action… and who’s outside the door? Dro. 😦 😦 😦 NNNNNNOOOOO!!!!! I really do not get what Molly sees in Dro. She knows she cannot have a flourishing relationship with this man so why is she still messing with him? If it is just sex, we saw that she had no issue in that department in previous episodes so she needs to just let No… I mean Dro go.

 

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Issa supporting Kelli at marathon. Photo from Colour

Then we reach Issa. Issa decidess to move in with her brother because she cannot afford the rising rent. She has to do a final walk through and her brother gives her a ride back to the old apartment. Before moving out, Issa told Lawrence that he could come and collect his “bouch” between a certain time because she wouldn’t be there. But when Issa came into the house she saw Lawrence there where they had a heart to heart discussion that many people said was needed. I’m the type of person who doesn’t need an apology to forgive or move on but Issa and Lawrence benefited from the discourse as Lawrence FINALLY said that he wasn’t ish for the past two years. #growth The two tell each other that they love each other and Lawrence begins to leave but turns around, drops on one knee, asks Issa to marry him and their future just goes on to be sunlight bright… in Issa’s head. But Lawrence bids Issa farewell in real life.

Then we see Issa showing up at someone’s house and we could foresee that living with her brother would have been problematic because he is just tew much (spelling deliberate) but when Issa shows up at the house, who answers the door? Sexy body Daniel and Issa says, “I’m sleeping on the couch” and Daniel nonchalantly responds with, “I know.”  Some persons online were disappointed in Issa “going back” to Daniel but I see no issues. She has a history with Daniel that made her feel comfortable enough to cheat on Lawrence with him, she and Lawrence are over soooooo…. what’s the problem?

Miscellaneous happenings:

  • Issa got demoted at work for failure to report Principal Gaines’ prejudice whereas Frieda got promoted.
  • Tiffany is pregnant.
  • Kelli is on a fitness journey.
  • Molly is looking for a new firm.

I think it was a good show that tied up a major loose end between Issa and Lawrence but left space for new happenings. We still don’t know if Dro is really in an open marriage, we don’t know if Issa is going to end up hurting Daniel or catching feelings for him, we don’t know if Issa is actually going to take a risk and finally get a job that pays. There are endless possibilities. I love how while this show addresses issues in the Black community as we saw with Lawrence being fetishized, unfair pay not only for women but black women and had subliminal messages with Molly sporting the “Trayvon” hoodie, I think that this show allows black women to just be women. Not role models, hood rats, prostitutes or anything extreme. Black women are portrayed as normal, regular, shmegular women and I like that.

 

Awaiting Irma in Antigua

On September 2, there was news of a hurricane looming in the Atlantic, but it was too far away for me to start worrying. I mean the possibility of the hurricane being a 5+++ definitely was not something that was on my mind.  So that night, my family went out for an absolutely wonderful dinner at Coconut Grove restaurant located on Dickenson Bay’s beach. As we ate, we looked over at the water and couldn’t help but take note of how close the tide was coming onto the sand. I know this generally tends to happen at night and no, it is not my hap to be at the beach at night to notice any changes in this process but my interest about the hurricane increased.

As the week rolled in, I learnt that Irma (as by now you would have known the name of the now infamous system) was constantly strengthening. I believe that it was on Monday that I watched our hurricane watch become a hurricane warning and my anxiety and feeling of helplessness surfaced. The general manager of Antigua& Barbuda’s state media sent me the notice and I forwarded it to my sister. I was simply informing my sister of what was to be as I had no power of diverting this storm. My voice couldn’t calm the ocean and I knew prayers had been lifted up by persons to many gods before their imminent demise owing to natural disasters or man- made evils to no avail. However, in my resolve that what would happen will, I just hoped for the best.

The news was filled with updates on this beast named Irma. I couldn’t hide from her. She was too big and had her let her presence be made known to too many for me to avoid being reminded of her increasing, unprecedented power. People who would barely post to Facebook posted stating their absolute fear of facing a hurricane that was a category 5. The sounds of people making their preparations added to the sense of urgency. However, on Tuesday morning while I made last minute preparations as my mom, my sister and myself were going to head to my aunt’s to ride out the storm, I found it difficult to move. I was glued to the radio. Local meteorologists warned the Antiguan& Barbudan people that even if the hurricane was to make a last minute shift north, it would not be of much benefit to us because the system was so big we were still going to be quite close to the eye of the storm. However, my sister came back from work early as workers were dismissed earlier than usual to make preparations and it gave me the strength to do what needed to be done to see the “best” results after the storm.

Our shutters were closed, our furniture covered and pictures and trinkets taken down from the walls and we headed to my aunt’s home that is located more in central Antigua. Mind you, we don’t live close near the coast or in low lying areas, however, we just wanted to feel as safe as possible and thought that moving would have been the best option and the added company would have provided solace under such unfavorable circumstances.

My aunt’s 6 boys were over at her place including her newlywed son and his wife who hails from Barbuda. Every one was just wondering what the outcome of what this category 5+++ hurricane would be. I told my sister that if we made it out alive, we would have made it through the storm successfully. I started envisioning our house being cast to shambles or at least our roof being blown off. We’ve never suffered those circumstances in precious storms but Irma was not like prior storms. She was in a category of our own.

Around 8 p.m., the electricity went off and I felt like the beginning of the end had started. During the days before the storm and especially on that Tuesday, it was exceedingly hot. The night was also quite warm… and quiet. There was consistent light rainfall that I cannot remember the starting time of. I could hear the winds start to pick up as it edged towards 9 p.m. and there were some gusts that caused my heart rate to increase because I imagined that the weather would only get worse. At this time, most of my cousins had departed in different quarters of the house and her eldest son was asleep in the living room. My mom, sister, aunt and myself laid down in my aunt’s bed (it’s a big bed :D) awaiting what we were sure would be an epic arrival by Irma. From time to time I would head into the living room where I would see my cousin sleeping which was quite understandable because there was not much action going on. Around after 10 p.m., I believe, we looked through the glass door in my aunt’s room and saw one of my aunt’s neighbors outside. 😦  Some of my cousins had come into the bedroom, wondering why the neighbor was outside… and where was Irma. At around 11: 45 p.m., I started listening to a local radio station, Vybz FM where an international meteorologist provided updates and said that we could expect the storm to be at its strongest at 1 a.m. and at 3a.m. , we could expect hurricane conditions to weaken and continue to weaken at 5 a.m. Time seemed to go quickly and I remember my aunt and me checking her phone at 12:30 a.m. and feeling convinced that we would not feel the brunt of Irma’s wrath as it was so quiet, she would have a lot of work to do to become a monster at 1. However, I still couldn’t sleep and listened on as people called in to the radio station saying they were fine although someone said that his roof had blown off and he was calling in from under his bed but I am not sure whether this incident of a house being damaged to that extent in Antigua is confirmed. As persons from the eastern side of the island checked in on the radio station as safe, my aunt reassured my mom that our home would be in tact when we returned home. Four of us, listened hopefully as we laid on the bed.

It was just before 2 a.m. I believe when the deeayj said that he wanted callers from Barbuda to call in as he wanted to hear how they were faring the storm. Shortly after he said that it appeared that all contact with the sister isle had been lost. At 2 a.m. in Antigua, it was almost completely quiet. The rain had eased up and the wind had been stilled for a moment before rain started falling again. I felt that we were going to be okay. I was put at ease and I eventually fell asleep.

At around 8 the following morning, we drove home. Confident that we had a home to go to and an Antigua with some level of normalcy, we could think about our regular plans and interests because Irma was now a thing of the past. We had made it out alive and with no damage to property. A statement from our prime minister was forwarded to me stating that we were all spared… but then, later on, Prime Minister Gaston Browne visited Barbuda by helicopter being the one to enlighten us that Barbuda’s housing stock had suffered 90% damage in his estimation and that a toddler had lost his life. Barbuda, located 61.5 k north-west of Antigua was a completely different scene from the damp but in tact properties in Antigua. It was devastating. Even though I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of a desolate Antigua on Tuesday morning, it was difficult to imagine it actually happening to people in the sister island considering that we were safe in Antigua.

 

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Barbuda after Irma Photo Credit: ABS Television/ Radio FB page

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Barbudans leaving Barbuda. Photo credit: ABS Television/ Radio FB page

 

However, in the midst of it all, the Antiguan people pulled together to evacuate the people of Barbuda and to provide the needs for Barbudans. I might write another post about the outpouring of support shown by my people as including it in this post would make it longer than I would like. But what I learnt was that sometimes in life, you will have no control over what happens to you. It doesn’t mean that you are trying to victimize yourself or that you are making excuses, but there are situations in life where all you can do is hope for the best. In this case, residents of Antigua were spared but we could have easily been in the same state as the people in Barbuda. Life doesn’t provide us with reasons as why some things happen to some and why some things don’t and it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with you. It’s just life, we’re only human and we don’t have control over it all.

Police pon Patrol!

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Photo from medium.com

 

Today, I went to a hotel with a friend to collect a check that he was owed as he has a band that plays at the entity. As we arrived at the hotel, he gave his brother (who was driving the car) the instruction to pull over to the side to speak with the security. As my friend opened the door to speak to the security guard, the guard already started to shake his head indicating the negative. I sat in the car thinking that my friend hadn’t even started speaking as yet but the security guard already assumed and exhibited that whatever it is that we were there for, he could help us. However, my friend communicated his business to the guard and another worker called inside to verify that indeed there was a check for my friend to go and collect. As my friend sat back in the vehicle, he said, “He nah even mek me talk. He already min a shake he head. Me nah know when arwe aguh lub people who ah arwe own skin color. He just see four black people inna di car (another young lady was in the vehicle) and he start behave so. If arwe min white, me sure he wouldn’t deh ah act so.” What he communicated in standard English is that the man already had a negative reaction from seeing four black people in a car at the hotel, however, if we were white, we would get different treatment and he wonders when black people are going to start loving ourselves.

Living in an island that is populated primarily by black people has made me aware that there is  a policing of black people that goes on within our borders and oftentimes, we are our own oppressors. As much as I am aware that we have been systematically targeted for failure and being socially stagnant by the “white man”, sometimes I feel like black people being able to make something of themselves, push down barriers and have access to places that were unofficially reserved for whites is an affront to some black people. My sister said that once she went to a restaurant and wanted parking and the security guard denied her entry, however, when some white people arrived, he allowed them entry and said, “Ah dem hab di money.” Also, I had an experience at a cosmetics store that sold a foundation that I was fond of years ago. When I requested assistance from the store clerk, she asked me why I decided to come during cruise ship season. 😐 Let me tell you something about Antiguan people, Antiguan people love spending money and living life. If there is a gift exchange, Christmas season, Valentine’s Day or the birthday of a loved one, black, Antiguan people would frequent that cosmetics store that doubles as a perfumery. Antiguan people aid in keeping that store open. Antiguans have complained about tourists coming off of cruise ships and just browsing stores and not buying anything, however, when a black, local shows up, I was quarantined to the side and ridiculed for daring to be in the store around the same time that tourists would be present. In another situation, my sister went to a store to purchase a cellular phone and she told me that the sales clerk appeared to be offended that she was purchasing the phone in store when there are cheaper alternatives. She said the sales clerk said, “You know you could have purchased the phone online unless you are a lawyer.” She said she felt like the clerk wanted an explanation as to how she was able to afford the phone.

I’ve heard of wealthy, black Americans receiving the “nigger treatment” which is promised to awaken them to see that regardless of how successful they are, the white man still sees them as niggers. But how about how we see ourselves? When you work hard and honestly for your money, no one has the right to question how you decide to spend your money, where you go or the treatment you deserve. We shouldn’t see ourselves through our former enslavers to determine how we are treated, however, it seems that some black people enjoy policing the lives of other black people because seeing other black people thrive is an affront to them. I have heard a lecturer in Jamaica recite having similar experiences in Jamaica where her presence in certain stores is unwelcomed as she is a black, nappy haired woman. We as black people sometimes like to see our black brothers and sisters berated because it somehow makes us feel better about ourselves. We try to invalidate the success of some black people and remind them of their state of “niggerness”  because we just cannot live with the idea that the nappy headed boy from down the road has managed to make something of himself. As Popcaan would say, “Dem nah war we fi own no asset.”

We as black people should go off duty… actually, we should quit policing other black people. We more than any race know how difficult it is to progress in this world. When we see someone moving up in life or hell, even ENJOYING life for crying out loud, we should not perpetuate racist, segregationist ideals that infringe on their right to go up the social mobility ladder or to simply enjoy the pleasures of life. The mentality of liking to see people do good but being full of anger and hate to see people do better than us needs to be eradicated. We are all created equally and deserve to be treated  with respect despite our socio- economic position and regardless of the color of our skin.

We are society

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Feeling fat? Longing after a big derriere, incredibly small waist and supple breast? Remember when a few years ago, your concern was that maybe your butt was too big… at least in white culture? Or what about your hair? You have decided to accept yourself by doing the big chop and embracing your natural curls. Curls? Well, that is what you were expecting when you went natural but your hair seems to have a mind of its own. So lately, you have been trying every technique to “define your curls.”

What is the cause of all this discontentment that we seem to face in every aspect of our lives? At one point, I remember it was the media that was to be blamed. By media, I mean the mainstream media that people believed were responsible for pushing only one idea of beauty. However, in recent times, there has been an explosion in the amount of persons establishing their own platforms. New media is the thing. I remember watching YouTube videos that had not so good lighting and just appearing to be more “normal.” I have officially moved very far away from looking at the television for anything whether news or entertainment related. Print media is definitely on the decline and people are getting their news from people that they think they can trust more and those who they think do not have the agendas of those dominating mainstream media. But with the shift towards new media, citizen journalism and the like is a shift in blame for the low self-esteem and discontentment that seems to cripple us. Instead of blaming magazines and commercials on t.v., people are now blaming Instagram. How is this so? Certainly, we didn’t start following insert favorite YouTuber name here for their perfect lighting, Instagram baddie looks and for a tour of their high-rise apartment but that is what a lot of beauty YouTubers have come to and what we expect to see. The reason for this is because we are the problem. We can blame society- a term that we oftentimes use as if we are excluded from what comprises it. Society, you and me, we like shiny, fancy stuff. We like notions of grandeur and perfection even if our lives are light years away from these ideals. We want to be able to live vicariously through others and express disappointment when people do not seem to have it all together. I mean, our personal lives are in shambles but hey, this isn’t about us. Our idols (as we have elevated many persons to this position) must by all means live out the lives that we deem to be ideal to make us feel better even if at the end of watching a string of YouTube travel vlogs, we feel worse.

Sometimes when we think we are making progress in owning who we are, we regress before we make progress. As mentioned before, we see persons going natural and instead of embracing their natural hair, they embrace someone else’s natural hair. We do not know how a loving, fruitful relationship looks like in real life, so we hashtag every pic of our favorite online couple that we have never met in real life #relationshipgoals. I think that sometimes, we do not know what we want in life. We don’t know the meaning of beautiful, so we embrace other people’s idea of beauty to the point where we are all looking the same with thick brows done with Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade, our face is contoured and highlighted to the point that it could make Rupaul jealous, we are wearing a faux septum ring, clear heels, a body-con dress from Fashion Nova and we pose for the ‘Gram in the same pose done by every other woman. I’m not saying that being in this world we will not get inspired by others and we will not come across new things that we’ll genuinely fall in love with (for example, I didn’t think I would become a Fashion Nova customer but now I am😀😀😀) but we shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel pressured into doing things. We should not feel that we should have to accept another person’s ideals, not only when it comes to appearance but when it comes to anything- whether you date, marry, have children, travel the world, go to university or anything else. Take into account who you truly are and if you don’t know who that is just yet, take the time to find yourself. I am on that journey and I know it will be a life- long one. Do not view another person’s life as “ideal” and what everyone should aspire to. We shouldn’t put pressure on people to be things that we ourselves are not simply because of our own insecurities and expectations of what we should be. Take time to breathe and find yourself.

We are society. We can be the change we want to see.