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20 Feet Tall [and other ways that we run the world]

On the tail end, it’s the 31st and there’s less than two hours of March left on the East Coast, of the month of March I had to come write a blog about…WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH!!!!! If you didn’t know it was women’s history month, well it’s not too late to- actually yes, yes it is too late celebrate because you know it’s practically April-but I’m guessing it’s kinda like Black history in that you can celebrate 365 if you want to…maybe. Anyways, March was women’s history month and of course, being the crazy little black feminist that I am I had to dedicate my March post to the ladies and our complete awesomeness.

I’m currently in the process of composing and polishing off the first draft of my thesis, which is a black feminist analysis of the works of Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Janelle Monae, and Erykah Badu. Through the analysis of their latest albums I’ve been up to my eyeballs in black feminist glory and I love it. Digging through the sexual freedom of Beyoncé and the revolutionary nature of The Electric Lady is pretty much the most awesome research I’ve done up to this point. And as I watch Erykah Badu challenge groupthink in her “Window Seat” video or listen to Nicki as she out raps and earns the respect of her male counterparts, I can’t help but think My God women are awesome.

As Bey once sang “strong enough to bear the children and get back to business” and even if we don’t bear the children-which we are under no obligation to do & should only do if we so choose-we’re still amazing. We face the multitude of barriers put in front of us and we push through and survive. It’s not always pretty, and it’s not always appealing or attractive to our male counterparts but hey we make it. I, of course, can only speak from a black middle class perspective, but I know enough lower class and upper class women who-although their struggles are different- have resisted the titles and stereotypes and expectations pressed upon them. Patricia Hill Collins notes the goal of black feminism is to work toward group survival and institutional transformation and I must say I’ve seen enough surviving and transforming to know that we are well on our way to some type of black feminist glory. And if the thought of black women, or any women, fighting for their rights as a woman with the same vigor and passion that they do as they fight for their rights as people of color, or their rights as an impoverished person ,or any other intersection of marginalization intimidates you or bothers you or “rubs you the wrong way” or troubles your sensibilities, well:

That's me caring about your bothered sensibilities

That’s me caring about your bothered sensibilities

and that's side eyeing you for getting in the way of my revolution

and that’s me side eyeing you for getting in the way of my revolution

And while you’re over there being a hater and holding fast to your patriarchy, me and the rest of the awesome women who are fighting the power and staying strong in the struggle will just be over here like:

yup

yup

and like this too:twerk in the mirror

Because we are women, hear us roar.
Badu opens her New Amerykah 2 album with the song “20 Feet Tall” where she says “and then I recall I’m 20 feet tall”. And that has always encouraged me because sometimes we get beat down-by whether we’re keeping our weight in a good place or whether we’re being supportive enough friends or if we have the right amount of makeup on to make it look like we don’t have any makeup on [so that all the rappers who want us to "stop hiding behind our makeup" will stop devoting four minute plus songs to us and assuming that we have self esteem issues because we wear makeup and weaves] or if we’re being good mothers or if we’re balancing the right amount of stoic so that our male counterparts won’t dismiss any valid point, we’re making in either an argument or in the workplace, as us being “too hormonal or emotional” with the right amount of feelings so as not to be mistaken for the cold hearted wicked witch of the West- and we forget that we are in fact magnificent.

That we are capable of any thing we put our minds to, and not just being the best wife ever or being the mother that your {hopefully} non-misogynistic sons will dedicate Proverbs 31 to, but really ANYTHING we put our minds to. We can be President, if you know the U.S. decides to tuck in its misogyny, or we can raise our kids on welfare and minimum wage and still get up in the morning even though as soon as you turn on the news you’ll probably be bombarded with elitist, classist propaganda that you’re only poor because you choose to be. Yet you go on about your day, you put in your hours, you do what you got to do and you try your hardest to not internalize the hatred. As Janelle Monae sings, “Carry on Ghetto Woman, I see you working night to morning… carry on ghetto woman cuz even though they laugh and talk about the clothes you wear….and when you cry, don’t you know I am crying with you…oh ghetto woman hold on to your dreams and all your great philosophies you’re the reason I believe in me”. And that’s true, we are all the most fantastic beings to be placed upon this earth by God herself and we should never ever forget that.

So even though I’m late I just had to come and give my fellow ladies a shout out because we’re awesome. Look at the leader of “doing the damn thing”, Maria Stewart. The first woman, of ANY race, to speak to a co-ed audience was Maria Stewart, like back in the 1800s when women couldn’t vote and there’s good chance blacks weren’t free. She was a devoted abolitionist and she before her life ended she opened two schools for free African American children in DC. She was THAT deal and she is female history and black history. We’ve been doing magnificent, life-altering, powerful stuff for centuries women, and we got a ton of centuries left to keep making change and fighting the patriarchy.

Never forget you’re 20 feet tall.

swagging

Stay vigilant and know that She is always standing beside us,

Bri

P.S. if you’re thinking of letting the phrase “but what about the men” slip from your mind to the keyboard, just don’t

“They were around me on every side. But by the Lord’s power I destroyed them.”- Psalm 118:11

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in me on my soap box, tangents

 

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You’re Blinded by the Fashion [and other ways WSPS is infringing on my liberty]

Let me start this post off by saying, HAPPY BLACK FOLKS MONTH YALLLLLLL! There’s just Black Excellence Recognition everywhere. On my instagram there’s a black history month challenge going on where people are supposed to post a different Black Great everyday and I’m seeing all kinds of people I knew nothing about. Between that and Tumblr and the Black history Calendar I have on my way it’s just one great Black People be Great party for me right now. And y’all know how I feel about Black People being great

and some of this too

and some of this too

Anyways, on to the actual topic of discussion!

A very close friend of mine is a fashion-fiend.

And not just, “ooh my clothes and my shoes and my hair accessories coordinate” [which is pretty much what I pat myself on the back for whenever I actually accomplish it-which is seldom] but legitimately reads fashion magazines, stays informed of the latest styles from fashion week, and has a list of her favorite fashion houses [I didn't even know fashion designers and their body of work were even called "houses" until like a week ago] so basically fashion is seriously her thing.

 Recently she informed me of the rampant and overt racism that is ever-present in the industry. Not just “oh we’re going for a different look” but designers blatantly telling people to their faces that “they won’t put you in a show because you’re black [or of brown color]“. Which is truly a travesty, but of course to my ever-watching for racism ears it was like hearing that the sky was blue. It was THAT un-shocking to me because almost every component of the Western World (U.S.A., Europe, anywhere where folks decided to colonize FROM) functions that way. Some may be a bit more tactful about their exclusionary practices but they are exclusionary and discriminatory nonetheless.
To have a industry that is built on not only the exclusion of people of color-who make up the MAJORITY of the entire globe- but also the simultaneous pushing of the minority’s physical qualities as the standard (Euro-centric beauty standards) of what the world should try to live up to is absolutely ludicrous.
So you mean to tell me that some fashion houses would not let Luptia N’yongo, who is “Yes Gawd, You Better Werk” personified, model their clothes on a runway…..

Really though?

Really though?

I wrote about something similar last February regarding Kerry Washington being the first black woman in 40 years to be the lead in a primetime network television program but it all boils down to the fact that everything matters. The faces we see in magazines, the people we see on our TV screen, the complexity of the stories of people who look like us in movies. All of this matters. And if out the womb, you’re constantly being bombarded with images that seem to praise every type of look except the way that you look. You’re gonna start feeling some type of way. So if I love fashion-live it, breathe it, dream about it-but when I look in all the top fashion magazines, see the models on the runways, and listen to the ways designers talk about the perfect “look” (which is almost across the board long, flowing “flexible” hair, stick thin with minimal curves and “fairer” skin type) I’m going to start self-hating one way or another.

And we all know self hate can only lead to this:

no one wants this

no one wants this

Seriously, no one has time to outchea like that.

These were the conundrums our ancestors were in. Looking everywhere for representations of themselves and coming up short.

So you wanna know what they did?

They said ‘screw your Eurocentric beauty standards and the boat they rode in on, we gonna make our own industries’ [this is a loose interpretation, i have no proof that any of my ancestors-literal or figurative-said anything like this]. And that they did, they started their own magazines {Jet/Ebony etc.}, their own clothing lines, their own music and all that jazz. But see there seems to be this pesky little problem with oppression, it won’t let people who don’t follow the rules make it. Or at least not very far [Granted there are several black entertainment publications and hair magazines and other types of industries and models, but no where near as many as there should be]. And the easiest example I can think of oppression trying to not let folks make it is the “othering” of things that are not explicitly Euro-centric. So you have phenomenal movies [like Best Man Holiday or Friday or Boyz n da hood] or awesome magazines [like Ebony or Jet] being categorized as “black things” or things geared solely towards black people and therefore not for everyone. Just because a movie isn’t directly made for you doesn’t mean you can’t watch it or enjoy it. Hell, if that was the case I wouldn’t be able to watch 97% of the moveis/tv shows I watch. And before you get all but non-black movies are made for a “wider audience”/ “speak to the human experience not just the black experience” please show me how any of my humanity was informed by the lives of any of the women in sex and the city, or any of the people on friends or any of the “problems” of the Great Gatsby. Don’t worry I’ll wait….

The point is, if you can’t make room for people of color well I hope you can watch these dollars of color as they go to support industries that are geared toward me. And if you are a fan of an industry that seems to be unbendable in its discriminatory practices and you truly believe there is a way to fix things then follow in the footsteps of organizations like balancediversity who are making a whole heck of a lot of noise in the fashion industry by calling them on their racist bs. And that’s what we all should do, MAKE SOME NOISE. Get all up in their business, READ THEM FOR FILTH until they expand their brand. And if they refuse to comply then you leave and find a way to start your own. But make just as much noise on the way out-taking all the socially conscious people with you. And if you make it big, don’t let any of the people in the original industry discredit you for being different or small time. Patricia Hill Collins (my she-ro of she-roes) said there is liberation in self-definition. So get to self-defining and if somebody tries to get in your way just tell them….

I dont like you….and move on.

That’s all there is to it.

We as a people [black people, women, black women, our brothers and sisters in the economic struggle, LGBTQ folks fighting the fight] are gonna be free someday. I know this because Donny Hathaway told me so  and what Donny says is canon. The question is what side of the revolution you’re gonna be on? If you are in a place of privilege and can’t see yourself helping marginalized people on their way to freedom well I’m gonna need you to move the hell up out the way because it’s happening with you or without you.

Anyways that’s my rant/speech from the soapbox for the month! What ways do you see things getting better in regards to representation in media?

Love and Peace also Happy Black History Month

-Brini Weenie, Briizy,aka @kewl_briize

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”-Psalm 118:6

 

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Soundtrack to My Revolution [the soundtrack that will strengthen you against the forces of the haters and oppressors alike]

I spend most of my time with some type of music in my ear. Whether I’m on the metro or the bus or walking to class or cooking up dinner for the week I usually always have some type of magical melodies and/or dope beats surrounding me. My musical tastes are pretty diverse in that I can be musing over the intricacies of a Janelle Monae song or a Jay Elec verse and then in the same session be shaking to the beat of Slight Work or Flawless. And you know what, that’s just how I am, and honestly that’s probably reflective of my entire life from my academic interests and writings to my TV viewing choices. I will discuss shifting paradigms in the field of gender theory and the authenticity of a New Orleans bounce beat in the same conversation. My activism just works that way. If that’s not how it works for you and you think I’m a complete fence-rider/impostor for my sensibilities well:

There's a lovely door to the right where you and your sensibilities may exit

There’s a lovely door to the right where you and your sensibilities may exit

Earlier this month, a good friend called upon me and another friend to suggest songs for her to work out to, and she wanted them to be by female artists and/or pro-women. Of course, I was ecstatic to create this ultimate feminist playlist instead of doing real work for school or thesis or anything and jumped to the task like:

Image

yassssssssssssssss

So here’s the list and the commentary I attached to it, I actually spent an inordinate amount of time creating this list.

Bri’s Empowering, Heart Rate Raising Playlist for Boys and Girls of All Ages

Elle Varner-Soundproof Room Because Elle Varner wants to ravage some good looking coed

Nicki Minaj-Romans revenge Ruff ruff like a dungeon dragon

Beyonce- Because all of these will raise your heart rate while also strengthening you against the forces of “ain’t bout ish” men.
-Lost yo mind
-Green light -
Get Me Bodied
Suga Mama-this is a particular fave because she spoils a man with lavish gifts as reward for him putting it down in the bedroom

Janelle Monae-Because if we are in a revolution, Janelle would be a general. And she’s super clever and uses dancing and music as protest and revolt
-QUEEN
-Cold War
-Ghetto Woman
-Dance Apocalyptic

Valerie June-Working Woman Blues,She’s a black folk singer from Tennessee. there’s no reason not to love her

Kimbra-Come Into My head

Adele
-Best for last
-Rumor has it

Jill Scott- she’s a black woman unashamed of her curves and her sexual freedom
-Crown Royal
-Shame
-Hate On Me

Chaka Khan-What You Gonna Do for Me

Janet Jackson-Doesn’t Really Matter

Danity Kane-Striptease

Destiny’s Child- Independent Women Part 2

En Vogue-Free Your Mind…and the rest will follow

Esperanza Spalding because she’s like the youngest professor at Berkley and is a classically trained musician 
-Black Gold,
-Radio Song

KING-The Story

Solange-tony, and the entire true ep Yeah Bey’s sister is that deal, she’s a Knowles, can she help it?

Tamar Braxton-Hot sugar

Mela Machinko-Get that cash and run, This woman has pipes and she sings about whatever she wants whether it’s hustling, being in love, or threatening to chop her beloveds junk off for cheating

Quadron-LFT

Yuna-live your life It’s a jam

Georgia Anne Muldrow ft Mos Def-Roses

MIA- she has no damns to give about the patriarchy or capitalism
-Bad Girls
-Boyz

La Roux-Bulletproof Don’t we need to be at least metaphorically bulletproof against the darts of patriarchy

Ciara-Work 

India Arie-I am not my hair

Soldier-Erykah Badu, not really a workout jam but it’ll inspire you to fight the patriarchy nonetheless and that’s what matters most

Iggy Azalela-Work, it’s quite the jam, BUT she’s kinda a notorious cultural appropriator so use your discretion on this one

Big Mouth-Santigold

Rihanna
-Where have you been
-Cockiness-if you don’t already have it 

After Party-Koffee Brown

Male Artists- If you feel like adding a little extra twerk to your list, they are here for you
Paranoid-Kanye
Busta Rhymes-twerk it
Wale-Clappers shawty does in fact have a big ol’ butt so why not let her celebrate it within her own parameters and on her own terms
Drake-fancy yes Drake I am fancy, hair done, nails done, everything is in fact did

Hope you enjoyed this and will take some of these works and add them to your jamming/exercise playlist. Any suggestions on what to add to the list and/or what do you listen to when you want to be empowered/energized at the same time. Go vibe in peace!

vibing

-Bri

“I do not pray only for them. I pray also for those who will believe in me because of their message”- John 17:20

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Obligatory “New Year/New You” Post [subtitle not necessary, but I put one anyway]

As I type this sentence it is December 30, the second to last day of the year. Since I basically just forgot how to blog as soon as I went home for Christmas break there was no new post at the beginning of this month….my bad.

As i peruse my Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr feeds i see lists on lists on lists of things people need to leave in 2013 or start doing in 2014 or how in a matter of two days their life will be become the fabric of their hopes and dreams as long as they think good things….and pray….and give to charity…and backpack through Europe…while channelling the spirits of the ancient Buddhist monks. (Also, let’s not forget the oh so enlightened ones who have no problem reminding you that your new years resolutions are futile and you should give up hope now of improving your life within the next year because sorrow is your only TRUE end result…) Ok so now I’m being fescious fisecious facetious(the word is hard to spell!), but there are several people telling you what you should do with your new year, as if the clock striking 12 literally restarts the clock on your life. So of course, I decided I couldn’t mess up my track record of posting a blog a month this year so I had to get one last one in and what better trend to hop on then the new year new you one.

And before you say something, I’m sure you’re thinking, “But Bri how is this list you’re making any different from the other trillion lists out on the interweb, telling me what to do with my new year?” 

Errrr, it’s not. At all. But if it’s any consolation, I’m merely lightly suggesting these points as opposed to aggressively stating them to you.
Does that help at all?
No?
Well you’ve read this far in the blog, you might as well keep going now.

Ways To Make 2014 a potentially healthier year than 2013:

Speak for Yourself

Since I’m only a semester away from receiving my Master’s in Sociology (*insert praise dance*), I have in the past year and a half become the resident sociological thinker for all those around me. My social and familial circle have become the (willing or unwilling) audience on many a rant about the state of race/gender/general oppression in America and how these things play out for the world around us. So once someone has heard a tangent about the racial nature of mass incarceration for the 5th or 6th time they start to actually start mulling over the topic and wonder how it plays out for them as an individual. Which is great!

But there also seems to be a trend I’ve noticed when reading the comments section on other black feminist intellectuals’ or anti-racist advocates’ blogs. This trend being “can you speak about/to the issue of (vaguely related oppressive system) and how it affects (group that commenter belongs to and which you have a vaguely related/possibly almost non-related association with).” Now I understand if you want to engage in some sort of sharing of ideas about this topic, I am willing to take part in that. Or if you do not have access to the same resources/information as I and truly are searching for more knowledge on this topic then it makes perfect sense that you come to me or any other producer of knowledge for an answer. BUT if you have the same ability to google something or check stuff out the public library and you’re really trying to find the answer to some issue that personally affects you and hardly affects me at all, then maybe you should be the one to speak on it/write a blog about it/publish a book about it/teach a lecture about it/make a Youtube video about it. But making me your megaphone so that you can put the ideas out there but catch none of the backlash or do any of the research regarding it…..

how that work out?

how that work out?

So if there is some pressing topic that you are burning to deal with it, then deal with it. Don’t wait for someone else, who I guarantee has more pressing/relevant things to do with their lives, to speak on it for you just because they have more degrees or have a bigger vocabulary or have a perceived wider platform. The time you spend asking them to touch on it is time you could’ve used researching it yourself.

Do Not Willfully Engage in Pointless Discussions/Arguments

This particular point took me years, and I mean YEARS, to grasp. Two things about me: I hate arguing and I truly believe we have limited amounts of energy allotted per day. That means if I wake up at 100 % mental energy to expend on various things throughout the day-whether it be marathoning a new show on Netflix, starting your lit review for your Master’s Thesis (which is what I should be doing right now probably), or just laying in the park and thinking on the various intricacies of the universe-I’m going to use that limited amount of energy how I want and once I’m down to 0% I’m checking out and I’m done. There are no reservoirs of extra energy in my mind, once it’s gone for the day, it’s gone. So I try to make sure to not waste energy on stuff that I truly just don’t want to and have no employment/legal obligation to do. Basically “I do what I want and you can’t make me do what I don’t to do unless I am contractually obligated to do it and not doing it will affect my income while not affecting my moral compass”.

So when you present me with “hey, so and so said something about this thing you’ve said that you like, and even though you’ve possibly already saw it and the person saying it has no intention of changing their mind, why don’t you go break them off a piece of your mind.” This kinda goes back to the first point, if it bothers you that much, speak about it yourself. Break them off a piece of YOUR mind. I have very close friends, family members even, who I avoid talking about certain topics like the plague because if I don’t I’m basically waiting for the disaster to strike like this:

blowUp

It will end bad for everyone involved, and there’s no need to end a friendship/relationship over something that doesn’t truly affect either of your personal lives. OAN, there are also certain ignorant twits, who for some reason have slipped through the almost now bi-monthly purges I conduct on my social media feeds, who post some foolishness about “blah blah, I can’t believe you’re offended by that one public figure’s racism, and even though I personally am not racist/sexist, I will die for this public figure’s right to be unapologetically racist/sexist/etc because America/freedom of speech/patriotism/i don’t read things…..but don’t dare call me a racist/sexist/or complicit perpetrator of any type of oppression”. If I don’t immediately unfriend this person, due to some type of obligation to stay connected with them, I will hide their feed or mute them because I just don’t need that type of pointless bait to waste energy reading this person for filth. Plenty good things come out of healthy discussions and the sharing of knowledge, but very seldom are those healthy discussions happening between two polar opposite affiliated people on Facebook…sorry I ain’t seen it happen yet. Also, there are some people who I know and love dearly who I know for a fact can’t argue with you without full on attacking you, and your personal life, because you don’t agree with them and I’m not about that “throwing myself in the line of fire for no reason life”.

Make the Change You Feel Necessary

Sometimes you just have to do what’s best for you regardless of the people around you. I’m sure you’ve heard this millions of times but I’ll be the million and first person to say it because it’s true. Sometimes you have to make changes in your life that no one will understand and that’s fine. And yeah sometimes NO ONE will support you in this, and by no one, I mean your pastor, your mama and ‘em, your church group, your bestie, your boo thang, not even that man that collects cans for money round the corner, NO ONE. But you have to make them because peace of mind and peace in God is worth its weight in gold. And honestly waiting for unanimous support will leave you outchea, while everybody else is having their peace of mind and happiness. So make the changes you need to make, and carry on.

Look Snoop is content, so why shouldn't you be

Look Snoop is content, so why shouldn’t you be?

Granted, many of the people around you have your best interest at heart, and their advice is valuable and you shouldn’t ignore it if this life change you’re making is dangerous to your health or something…because well that’s dumb but otherwise carry on.

Fight the Fanfare

Sometimes you get caught up in the hype about stuff and that’s fine. It happens to the best of us, we’re human, and heck who doesn’t like collective support and joy. I mean c’mon. But at some point you have to take a step back and analyze whether you can deal with whatever this new thing is when you’re alone, If you need to be with all your homies/fellow party-members/congregation to enjoy or love this thing, then you may not like it as much as you think you do. Just saying, sometimes it takes a little bit more effort to discern whether someone tried to sell you a dream or an idea and you just bought it because of peer pressure. At the end of the day, you’ll end up with a bunch of stuff you don’t truly like, because your cousin and ‘em told you it was the best thing since sliced bread.

BUT the reverse is true too. Just because you don’t like something that the majority of people like, doesn’t mean you are deep or enlightened. I.e. you are a black person who doesn’t like Scandal even though millions of people watch and rave about it on a weekly basis and it’s one of the highest rated primetime shows. So you don’t watch/like Scandal for whatever reason but everyone else does…

Four for you glen coco

Four for you glen coco!

…that don’t mean you deep. That means you don’t like Scandal.

Now you may very well be super enlightened, conscious, educated, or whatever but that’s a title you’ve given yourself based on whatever guidelines you have set aside for yourself. It isn’t based on how many things the mass populace likes that you don’t, that doesn’t make you deep dear, that makes you a hipster. Now I’m not saying there aren’t problematic elements to mass popular culture, there surely are, but stop trying to force your “heightened consciousness” down everyone’s throat by reminding them how much you hate that one thing that they all love. It’s not cute. And honestly, every popular thing has a strong pushback so you’re actually probably not even in the minority regarding your opinion.

Well that’s all I got, sorry this one may have been particularly lengthy but I had to get all the things out before the new year started. So any advice you guys have for the new year?

Anyways, have the happiest of new years, and enjoy all the bottle popping and absurd food consumption while you can!

Peace and Love,

-Bri

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”-John 14:27

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in me on my soap box, real talk and such, tangents

 

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I Ain’t got No Worries [and other phrases that make me side eye]

Years ago I did a post on things that made me judge people and those things do still make me question folks. But sometimes it doesn’t take a whole action to give me pause. Sometimes it’s commonly used phrases and/or cliches that invoke the side-eyer deep within. Like, I ain’t got no worries. A phrase made popular recently by it being the title of a song by some random, auto-tuned, rapper-crooner of color. Sir you have worries, you are a person of color in America. You probably are riding in a car you can’t afford and wearing some outfit that looks like the Lourve threw up on you. You HAVE worries. But I digress, here’s a list of some other phrases that make me pull out my inner shade-thrower.

I’m Different 

I’ve heard this one time too many.

Mostly by people trying to validate some oddball, off the wall thing they just did/said. Basically people sometimes latch onto ONE thing that they are counterculture on and decide that that makes them overwhelmingly separate from mass culture. For example, I was talking to a male friend about my problem with most things in society because of their anti-feminist nature and he agreed with me on many of my critiques, and when I complimented him on his progressive attitudes he proceeded to respond with “yeah I’m different than a lot of people”. Which caused a complete internal side eye because that’s basically the indicator of “i think I’m the most unique person to ever be and you should be impressed by my difference”. And to this I reply with wisdom I learned from the elders, “if you gotta point it out, then it’s probably not true.”

Not Trying to Be Rude But…

I don’t think this one requires much explanation. When you say this, just know that I’m COMPLETELY expecting for something rude or offensive to come out your mouth. Same goes for ‘not to sound like a sexist, but’, ‘not to seem like a racist, but’, ‘I know this makes me seem like I hate poor people, but’, etc.

But I Feel Guilt for Being (insert privileged group here)

I’ve usually heard this from white people when i’m talking about the state of black America and how racism, and slavery, and colonialism, and capitalism have created this huge system that solely functions to destroy not only Brown/Black people the world over, but also everyone who is not a European-descent man who loves women. (BUT most times it pans out the worst for Brown/Black people, never forget, Brown/Black people ALWAYS lose in this system because that’s the way it was designed, this is a different post though soooo) Anyways, this is sometimes the response I get, not how can I help make this better, not omg i shall now pledge my allegiance to all ways that seek to oppress you and your people, but “oh my gosh, I feel SO MUCH WHITE GUILT”.

Most vivid instance of this was a segment on MSNBC the Sunday after the Zimmerman verdict was dropped where one of my she-roes Melissa Harris Perry and another Black female intellectual was on a panel with a white male anchor. The two women were discussing the systemic conditions that created the travesty that was the murder of Trayvon and the implications of the verdict and then the male correspondent adds his two cents by discussing how much White Guilt he felt burdened with….

Yes, let's talk more about YOUR struggle

Yes, let’s talk more about YOUR struggle

Not to throw shade solely on White folks, but please stop saying this, please stop telling people who are marginalized by the structure your race benefits from about your guilt. This also goes for any point of privilege, males stop telling women about your guilt/shame for your brothers and go join the fight and so on and so forth. if you’re not going to actively do anything to help the situation, literally just say NOTHING.

Well I Feel I Have the Right to Be Offensive Toward This Group Because This One Group Member Said So

Yeah this is another one, that people should stop. Recently I got into a discussion with an peer about why if people say they don’t want to be called something then you shouldn’t call them that no matter who else said it was cool. His argument was well the people interviewed in this article said it was cool so i can just call every member in that group that.

No. You. Can’t.

I’ve also had this told to me when non-Blacks used the word nigga in my presence and as I untensed my face they quickly blurt out that they “grew up around black people” or “they have a bunch of black friends”. Word to the wise, ethnic/racial groups do not go to annual conventions and decide as one unit what is cool and acceptable for the whole race therefore do not think just because one person or some people from a group say its okay for you to do something means the whole group is gonna be fine with it. And once they say they’re offended do not pull the “well my friend said…” out your behind.

Otherwise be prepared for this from me:  offense

Well That Is Horrible, but there’s (insert totally unrelated thing) which is a step in the right direction

So this summer was bad for Black people on a political/social scale. I’m just gonna call this one, feel free to disagree, but Zimmerman was freed, the Paula Deen mess came out, and the VRA was gutted all in the same week or so. Yeah America turned the “Screw you Black People” scale up to a 10 (we’ve almost got yall back on boats), from it’s usual level of 5 (we’ll just harass you on the street and occasionally shoot one of your youth for no reason), that week. I was discussing the blow that gutting the VRA was to civil rights and the person I was talking to was like “well DOMA got struck down so that’s good though…”

Wait What?

Wait What?

Are you saying I shouldn’t feel as bad about the possibility of voter discrimination coming back as strong as ever (even though it never completely went away) because gays can marry in California now? Yeah that may be a victory but like hell does it negate the importance of the striking down of the VRA. It’s like “hey I know years of hard work and lives lost have basically been declared all for naught but look these other group of people who may or not be marginalized by this loss are doing good”. When someone presents a horror address it as such, don’t try to pacify it with some random feel good fact. Just don’t.

That’s all I got. Let me know any other phrases that make you side eye, neck roll, or otherwise be displeased.

-Briizy, aka Brini-Bri, aka Girl with the ‘fro

“Circumcision and uncircumcision aren’t worth anything to those who believe in Christ Jesus. The only thing that really counts is faith that shows itself through love”- Galatians 5:6

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2013 in me on my soap box

 

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The Greatest Application to Ever Be Written

This post is going to be a bit different from the rest. I don’t have any tips, or bits of advice, just the ramblings of a particularly reflective mood I was in on the metro earlier today. I’m starting the process of applying to PhD programs (AGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH) and of course I basically have to sell myself and my work on why they should choose (and fund) me to be a part of their program. I need to show them who I am and who I will be as a PhD candidate at their school. I’ll have to string together a series of words that sum up “Bri” in about 1000 words or less. So I decided to write out things that mean “Bri” to me and this is what I came up with…

I was raised to the sounds of Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire. I didn’t know anything hip on the radio because our house was perpetually filled with the sounds of FM 98 or some other old school artists. I was raised to appreciate the genius of Stevie Wonder and respect the sorrow of Marvin Gaye. I knew all the words to Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘Millennium’ album long before I could “talk that stuff and roll with it”. My only peep at what was hip and at all relevant came through the profuse a out of time I spent with my cousin who was 12 years my senior and even though most times she didn’t have a choice on whether to let me tag along with her and her friends she was the definition of cool in my book. I spent a majority of my time with people far older than me and as a result people have many times said I’ve speak beyond my years. 

When i hear music I like I have to move. Supposedly I inherited this trait from the women who came before me. My mother says that when her and her younger sister were kids, people would say all you had to do was beat pots and pans and those two would start moving. Whenever they heard music they loved, they had to dance. Learning that only propelled me to want to dance even more, no matter if I was in my bedroom or in a Bath and Body Works, if I heard a sound I loved, I have to groove to it. Can’t help it.

I was raised to believe that you stood your ground for your beliefs, and that being black I’d be standing my ground a lot. Even though I wasn’t encouraged to be vain or egocentric, one of my first lessons in self image was “the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice” meaning my dark skin was a badge of honor and beauty. Even though I didn’t get it when I was younger I can honestly say I’ve never wished to be any shade than the one I am. Even when being told by a fairer skinned preschool friend that I was too dark for her to play with or being teased by other kids for being “so black” I never thought the problem was my skin tone but my inability to develop quick comebacks, which is something I still suck at to this day but catch me a couple hours after an argument and I got loads of quips for you.

I have an obnoxious laugh that sounds like a mixture of a hyena’s cackle and a dying dog but I have yet to stop laughing. I love laughing and I love being surrounded by good spirits and people who exude love. The people I love are the people I’d die for, and there is no limit to my loyalty when it comes to those closest to my heart.

In my house, MLK day was not just a day off from school and work it was a holiday and was to be commemorated as such. To this day my mother and I still celebrate every year together because that’s what you do to honor your heroes. I was first introduced to Malcolm X and what he represented by a sweatshirt that my mother had bought long before I was born (and still has to do this day). It has his face in the forefront of the Pan-African flag and the back of the sweatshirt has a a famous quote where Malcolm X declares that he is not a racist. Our front room was decorated with paintings of African peoples in casual patterned garb. I always knew Black was beautiful because there was never anyone to tell me any different. Now mind you all the messages of total self-love didn’t make it to me until much later, especially the hair thing…that took a while, but the foundation for me to be a oppression-fighting, Black empowering agent for change was set early on in life. 

My perfect memory of childhood isn’t one event but of every Saturday waking up to the sound of the radio being blared from one of the car’s being washed across the street. Wiping the sleep out of my eyes, freshening up, and venturing my way through my house to find my mom either in the kitchen or in the front room planning out her day. Finally putting some clothes on and going next door to find my aunt tending her garden as she did every Saturday. Kneeling on one of her kneepads and asking her countless questions about why she was doing what she was clipping that plant this way or digging up this dirt even though I never paid attention long enough to actually remember the answers she gave. After hovering behind her for some indefinite amount of time, I would return to my house to see what my errands my mom had planned for us to run that day. Those are the days that bring the warmest feelings to my heart when I think back on my childhood and I had great moments but that consistent routine of never knowing, but then again always knowing, what would happen on this most free and magical of days (Saturday).

These are the things that I think most clearly resonate with me when Im trying to put “who I am” into words. They won’t get me into any schools or earn me any jobs but this would be the most honest representation of myself I could ever present to the world.

Hope this wasn’t too terribly boring,

-Brini

“Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. his plan is good and pleasing and perfect.”- Romans 12:2

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed [and other things I learned the hard way]

Now I’m not sure if it’s a Southern thing, a Black thing, or a growing up around older people thing but I’ve heard a lot of adages in my day. And one of them is “Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed”, which basically is the equivalent of you have not because you ask not. Which is very, very true. You can’t expect people to read your mind and do for you what you were too shy/scared/modest to ask for yourself. I had to learn this as I grew because I’m a big proponent of doing for myself and not inconveniencing others which is a great mindset to have if you’re careful. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up going out your way and breaking your back doing stuff that people would’ve been more than happy to help you with. So to hopefully save you party people any further heartache or wasted effort, here’s a list of a few lessons I’ve learned in my 23 years.

Speak For Yourself and Yourself Alone

So i’m the type that hates unresolved conflict. HATE IT. If there are issues bubbling under the surface between me and someone and the situation is getting out of hand I’ll be the first to call a meeting and try to either:

1. work things out

OR

2. Just get all of it off my chest AND on to their conscience (*evil laugh*).

Well having worked a few jobs that involved group dynamics and direct, frequent interaction with a supervisor I’ve encountered times when the workers (US) weren’t so happy with the boss and decided to talk about it amongst ourselves. So in these random times when the boss did something crazy or annoying we, being petty I’ll admit, would kinda just rant and share about different ways the boss may have been out of hand. So it seems like everybody is on the same page regarding the way things are, right? Right! So why when the boss (or whoever the person whose agitating the situation)  calls a meeting to hash out some of the tension and asks somebody to step up to speak I always end up by my darn self?

I learned that when I want to address someone about group issues to start using ‘I’ and ‘me’ and to talk about how I’m directly affected because when i get to using ‘we’ and ‘us’ and trying to speak for everyone and they mama when it come time for my “Can I get a AMEN?!!” moment everybody else looking like :

Whhhhaaaat?

*crickets*

Like y’all wasn’t just ‘yeah girl”-ing and “I know right”-ing back when we was in the other room??!!

Nope, don’t be left outchea fooling with folks trying to “get out their feelings” through you so that way if there are any negative consequences you take the fall and they’ll be around here prancing and being unjudged and whatnot.

This is not to say you can’t advocate on behalf of people or speak for a consensus in the role of delegate in the appropriate environment. Just don’t try to be the hero and voice everybody’s complaints and worries when there hasn’t been an understanding that y’all are in this together. Just saying.

You Can’t Save Folks

If folks have it in their mind that they don’t have a problem, even after numerous attempts of you showing them the light, then leave it be. This can apply to major life decisions, friends and their relationships, a family member battling some type of addiction, etc. You can’t be Wonder Woman all the time, you got to let people deal with themselves and their issues when they’re ready. Otherwise they will drag you, and everything you love, down with them. I am not even joking.You get so emotionally involved in their mess and drama that you become more stressed and on edge and it affects everything else and everyone around you. Before you know it you won’t know whose in trouble, you or them. When they’re ready to work through whatever issue you feel they need saving from, well you as a friend/sister/cousin/father/mentor/next door neighbor, can be there for them but you can’t take their burden on as your own, it won’t fit, it’s not meant to fit. So unless they’re ready to fix their own life or call Iyanla then you need to be like:

Juvie the Great

Ya, understand?

Stick With Your Gut Regardless of Popular Opinion 

Slavery and Jim Crow were real cool and popular once.

And look how that turned out for all the non-Whites. So no, you should not ignore the voice in your head and the feeling in your gut that is telling you something is wrong or off or stupid just because something contradictory is popular or hip or in right now. Don’t do it. That’s the EASIEST way to be an indirect perpetuator of injustice. Guess what? There is blood on each and every one of the hands of a person who stands by and lets something bad happened that they could’ve actively stopped. Whether that horror is a lynching, someone being abused mentally or physically in public, a kid being jumped, a person being mocked or discriminated against, any one of those horrors and more. If you let it happen because you don’t want to be a troublemaker or cause a scene well you’re as much to blame as the direct perpetrator.

Stop Telling People They Can Always Do Stuff

In the spirit of hospitality and friendship sometimes you over speak your own bounds. Best example I can think of is when folks say to a friend, when they ask if they can spend the night or use your sugar or borrow your natural hair leave in conditioner, “Yeah sure, Feel free, you can always [insert thing they asked to do here]. It’s no problem”. STOP SAYING THAT. Because guess what it will be a problem one day! IT WILL.

Possibly, after a long day of work you’re gonna come home and wanna just have the house and your space to yourself but just as you mentally prepare yourself for some mental relaxation you hear a knock on the door. And it’s your friend, who just got into it with her boo thang and wants to prove a point so she leaves for the night and is now asking to kick it by you because there was an open invitation. Now tell me you won’t be like:

Evelyn Shade

Exactly! I’m not saying don’t be hospitable, just maybe think twice before giving folks an open invitation to any and everything because once you renig on it they’re gonna hit you with that “but I though you said..” and you don’t want that to happen. Because that statement ends friendships sometimes.

Critiquing Does Not mean Opposition

I don’t think people of America have fully grasped this concept. I personally used to take people disagreeing with me so personal up until recent. Like I truly believed if you didn’t wholeheartedly agree with the majority of something i said, you clearly had issues with me and that was unacceptable. Looking in hindsight, that was a really, really stupid way of looking at life (If that’s your current mentality, my bad for me just saying it was really stupid…errrr, oops?).

But what I’ve found, being the anti-racist, feminist that I am, is that when you challenge or critique popular norms or oppressive structures, even if you don’t personally attack or fault any one person in particular, folks come out the woodwork with personal offense and indignation.

Example: A friend of mine posted a very good article regarding the racist nature of Miley Cyrus’, and many cultural appropriators like her, VMA performance. The author made some valid critiques to the White supremacist power structure and the patriarchy, both which are ever working hand in hand, and wouldn’t you know men, of various colors, came out the boondocks of the Facebook jungle to berate him and the author for “whining about racism and sexism”. Like not even joking. I encounter this reaction, to a much lesser degree, when I’m speaking to Black men (some, most definitely not all by any means) about oppression and when I talk about racism and the struggle they’re all “yasssssss sista, I know. I, too, am daily fighting the struggle” but then when i move on to sexism and the ways women are oppressed, specifically Black women within and without their own race, the hands fly up and the defensive wall shoots up. All of sudden the choruses of “yeah we gotta work hand in hand” turn into “well it seems like you’re being a bit sensitive” or “are you sure you aren’t reading too much into it?” It is absolutely amazing to watch.

Just because someone is critiquing a greater system that you may be benefitting from doesn’t mean they hate YOU. Just listen for two seconds to what they’re saying (unless it’s some racist, sexist nonsense, then shut your ears and flee lest your mind catch the ignorance, y’all know it’s contagious) and think on it. Think if you have been actively trying to fight this oppression and if not well hey, work on it and do better for next time.

Well that’s all I gots folks, stay spreading love, fighting the struggle, and going with God,

-Bri aka the Bri-ster aka the chocolate one standing over there aka @kewl_briize

“Here is something I am still sure of. I will see the Lord’s goodness while I’m still alive”-Psalm 27:13

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Helpful-ness, me on my soap box, tangents

 

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