She wants to lead the glamorous life!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Can You See Me?

Hello, I'm MJ.  I am a Black woman with naturally kinky-curly hair.  What that means for me is, I can do all kinds of badass things with my hair:  braid it (with or without extensions), straighten it (with or without chemicals), wear a weave (long or short), lock it, fro, twist or coil it out amongst other things.  What that means for you, and when I say 'you' I mean White people, is you get to not say a gotdamn thing about it.  The problem is, a great deal of you have somehow missed this memo and feel you must comment on EVERY fucking thing I do with MY hair.  If it was coming from a place of genuine respect and admiration, fine.  But if you're asking or commenting based on your own personal feelings or (lacking) knowledge of the curious nature of Black folk, I'm not with it.  Confused?  Let me help you out.

Example 1
Try saying:  Hey MJ, your hair looks nice.
Instead of:  OH MY GOD!  Look at your hair!!  You changed it.  Every day you change your hair.  I can't keep up.  Now what's this?  (coming close to inspect my hair) I like this.  The other way you wear it, is okay, but this, I like this.  You should keep it like this.  THIS is cute.
My mental commentary:  bitch I didn't ask you!

Example 2
Try saying:  Hey MJ, your hair looks nice.
Instead of:  You really wear that well.  See I can't do that with my hair.  You're lucky.  You have cool hair.  I just have this hair.
My mental commentary:  you're being patronizing.  Get out my face.

Example 3
Try saying:  Hey MJ, your hair looks nice.
Instead of:  Now, how did you do that?  Did you do it yourself, or did someone else do that for you? That's interesting.
My mental commentary:  No my hair is not "interesting", my hair is wonderful.

Example 4
Try saying:  Hey MJ, your hair looks nice.
Instead of:  Oh, you changed your hair.  Do you like it?
Instead of:  Now which hairstyle do you like the best?
My mental commentary:  bitch, yes I like my hair, that's why I'm wearing it this way!  I like ALL of my hairstyles, that's why I wear them!

Example 5
Try saying:  Hey MJ, your hair looks nice.
Instead of:  Is that all your hair?
My mental commentary:  that's rude as hell, and it's none of your damn business, you uncouth son of a bitch.  Furthermore, yes it is!  

These are real conversations, that tend to happen to me at work (a lot).  There are people who I can pass on the street or smile and wave to at the nearest Starbucks, who will look at me strange, divert their eyes without speaking and then ask me to do something in the office 15 minutes later.  I have worked with people who will pass my desk several times in a week, but see them outside the office and they look surprised when I tell them where I work.  "Oh, you're the one with the hair."  Yeah bitch, that's me.  Last night I went to a party and a girl who I was on a committee with for an entire year, re-introduced herself (as always) like she had never seen me before.  I chuckled and told her, "yes, I know, you have introduced yourself to me a THOUSAND times.  Every time I see you, you introduce yourself."  She awkwardly laughed it off and was like, "well I only came to like, four meetings."  I'm thinking, and I came to all but one, so again, we've met.  I sometimes get the, "I didn't recognize you, you changed your hair."  Yes, the hair may be different, but the face is still the same.  Are you just looking at me, instead of SEEING me?  Seeing the person I am.  As opposed to the caricature you have in your head.

It may sound like I'm overreaching, but the truth is, this is how racism and stereotypes are perpetuated.  The reason some cops are regularly harassing and KILLING young black men, is because they don't SEE these men.  They can't imagine they have mothers, or wives, family or friends.  They can't fathom they could be upstanding citizens or that someone would care about whether they live or died.  It's the reason people get upset to see brothas burn down a local drugstore, but don't understand that the anger resulted from the fact that a young man's spine was damn-near detached.  As a culture, you don't know anything about us.  Why are you so curious with Black hair?  You don't have any Black friends?  You have never been close enough to a Black woman to ask curious, yet thoughtful questions about the history of our styling and hair regimens?  If that's the case, it's fine, but don't embarrass me by shouting over the filing cabinet, a stupid question or comment.  Don't bring your friends over to comment on my hair, like I'm not standing/sitting right here.  I'm not a museum exhibit or a zoo animal.  Utilize Big Sister Google and investigate on your on time.

Scientists have traced the entire human race back to one Black woman in Africa.  We, Black people - Black women, have shared this planet with you all since the beginning of time.  Why are you still so intrigued by us?  My advice is to get off your high horse and stop looking and start seeing.  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I'm Late to the Party: Why I'm Just Now Seeing 'Empire'

Ya'll know I like to be fashionably late to most, if not all, episodic TV parties.  So, with that said, I finally watched Fox's Empire - the entire first season and I love it!  Here's the thing, I binge watch TV, even the best shows because I'm...basically greedy.  And impatient.  I hate to wait to see what happens next.  I want to know now.  The problem is, my ass tends to be late to the pop culture conversation.  By the time I've watched whatever show that everybody was talking about, no one is as interested or cares as much.  So I usually pull my bestie into some conversation where he essentially has to keep saying "umhm, keep watching" and "yeah, girl".  Because he can't tell me too much and I hate spoilers.  The problem is that I miss out on the show's buzz.  It's bad because I could at least add my two cents about the episode at the same time as everyone else.  Plus, most of the noise on Facebook is either foolish, doesn't make much sense (in an effort to not spoil the episode) or, I find if a show is good, you can spoil it and I will still appreciate and enjoy watching what happens.

There is the thought that if I'm not watching a show, I have something against it.  On the contrary, I don't, but I also don't need to run to the well of TV water, because everyone is drinking from it.  I was at a birthday dinner once and the look on the women's faces when I said I had never watched Scandal was priceless.  I mean there was actual shock and awe.  I had to explain that me not watching, doesn't mean that I am not a "believer".  It just means I haven't gotten to it yet.  It was on my "to watch" list that I like to stockpile for lonely nights, evenings after a hard day at work and frigid, grey winter weekends.  (Rest easy.  I have since caught up to the present season of Scandal.)  I like to make the calculated leap into a new show, carefully choosing what I'm in the mood for.  It's how I watched Breaking Bad,  True Detectives, DexterMad Men, Downton Abbey just to name a few.  Recently while sitting and getting my hair braided for hours, with long extensions, my girl and I tackled the first season of Game of Thrones (so good!)The Shield, The Wire or Deadwood until years after they were off the air.
.  I didn't watch

So yes, I'm behind as hell, but you know what?  I'm okay with that.  I love good TV, but I don't want to schedule my life around a primetime TV schedule.  That's what my DVR, Netflix subscription and On Demand are for.  The good thing about good TV, is it really stands the test of time.  The Wire was just as impactful when I watched it several years after it originally aired.  It didn't lose its luster.  It's a damn good show!  Just like Empire is no less entertaining having watched it a couple of weeks after its freshman season finale.  That's why I'm loving TV now!  There are so many great scripted television shows.  The average, busy city girl such as myself, doesn't have time to watch all of them at once.  So you all keep clattering about what's a must watch program and I'll be sure to add it to my list.

What are you watching now?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Art of Being Alone

It's a fine line between being alone and feeling lonely.  I have found that there is an art to being alone.  Sometimes aloneness can feel perfectly natural and good, and at other times, absolutely depressing. What I used to define as a lack of activities and energy, I now see as more of a lack of esteem and confidence.  I have found that the more I become unconditionally comfortable with myself, the more I enjoy being by myself.  And I don't mean that as a "I can do bad by my damn self" type of sentiment, but rather, I really enjoy my own company and spending time alone.  In years past, I could do this from time to time, but it either took a lot of effort, or the feeling would be fleeting.  I would try to schedule all kinds of activities and appointments with friends and family.  I wanted someone by my side a lot of the time.  I felt like I needed it.  Truthfully, I didn't then and I don't now.

Don't get me wrong, I love my friends and family and I love spending time with them.  It's just that now, I look forward to being at home.  In her book Why You're Not Married...Yet, author Tracy McMillan writes about "coming home to [insert your name here]".  That's what I have been doing, coming home to myself.  I view my home and time alone as a respite.  It rejuvenates me.  And when I have had enough of the outside world, I know I have a place to come home to.  But catch this:  home is not the building, home is ME.  Just like "home" is YOU.  I feel like the more I look to myself as a place of shelter, the less I seek out others to fill the "voids" I may see myself as having.  Whether binge-watching my favorite shows, having a cocktail to cap off my day, journaling, meditating, trying out a new recipe or a long soak in the tub with a book, I treat myself well by allowing myself to just be.

What are some of the things you like to do alone?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

All Up in My Feelings

I am a feeler.  I feel strongly.  No matter if it's sadness, joy, anger- it comes strong, frequent and pure. What I used to be annoyed and embarrassed by when it came to my sad feelings, I now embrace.  Because in my wisdom, I now know that what my uncontrollable tears mean, or my anger suggests is that I am not good.  My discomfort signals that it is time to slow down and evaluate where I am and where I want to be. Lately, I've noticed in an effort to be "mature" (I guess), and in control of my feelings, I have been suppressing me and messages God is trying to convey to me.  My body doesn't like it.  Twice in eight months a small patch of hair has fallen out.  My cravings for chocolate go beyond good chocolate, but move to drugstore finds.  My dreams are more aggressive and I am angry or moody.  But when I talk, I cry and when I cry there is release.  So I have been talking lately.  A lot.  My friends have provided advice.  An attentive ear.  And suggestions.  I have greedily taken each.  It's not the best feeling when your eyes start to leak at inopportune moments, but it lets me know there is something deeper to observe.  And that is the time to listen...and learn.

How do you release tension when you're feeling stressed, sad, emotional?