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The Letter Series: Dear Miseducated Masses

I promise that I have been paying attention to the world these last few weeks. Although I have been focusing on love, relationships, and Blackness, I know that the Broncos won the Superbowl, Jeb dropped out of the running, that Beyoncé shocked the miseducated pale world by coming out as a Southern Black Woman, that Red Lobster has apparently taken this opportunity to raise their prices, and that–as of today–Facebook added new “Reactions” to the “Like” option. However, this being the last week of February, I have an obligation to make sure we keep the focus on important happenings in Blackdom, so I’m going to have to finally address how people have been losing their minds about Bey, her Blackness, and her “tribute” to the Black Panthers.

First of all, I have to say that I really don’t see it. I didn’t watch the Superbowl, but I saw the performance after the fact, and personally, I think it would have been more tributary if she had also donned an Afro instead of her usual long blonde weave. I might have even accepted it if she kept it Blonde, as long as she also wore an Afro. Why? To me it still lacked the embrace of her own Blackness that everyone else seems to be giving her credit for. As if to say as long as she embraces other people’s blackness and not her own, it counts? Beyonce Formation HatNah, sorry, not for me. If we move over to the video, and everyone praising her for including Blu Ivy with her baby fro, I still think she’s showing her daughter that longer, blonder, and straighter is still better. So, as far as I’m concerned, its only a partial parenting win. No, I’m not saying, like most people seem to be saying, that blackness can be neatly summed up into big fro and a fist in the air, because there was certainly more than that to be noted in both the video and the performance. Unfortunately, the few moments of negro consciousness in the video–very artistically well done moments–went by so quickly and were so (for me) overshadowed by her lyrical inferences to her Southern heritage, I barely saw them. Hot sauce in a purse and Red Lobster for a job well done are not intrinsic to Black culture. Afros are. The police’s widespread abuse of power and overreaction to unarmed Black people is. As a matter of fact, nothing about the song itself speaks to Black pride at all. It’s about her, her money, her man, and her experience and a rich country girl. For me, it actually stands in absolute opposition to the positive image  people want to attribute to the video. But again, that’s just me.

Apparently, the miseducated masses have taken her Superbowl “tribute” and video in a completely different direction, having decided that because she chose costumes inspired by Michael Jackson in his Black Panther tribute she must be promoting violence and terrorism… because they learned that that’s what the Black Panthers were all about: killing cops, hating white people, and promoting violence and terrorism in the name of pro-blackness. Time for a history lesson.

History is written by the victors. I always thought it was funny how the Panthers are criminalized for physically standing up for regular Black folks at a time where Black people were being openly targeted by a police system that was allowed to assume that dark skin = criminal… kinda like now. Let me break it down: The Black Panthers made it their business to stand in the way of Black people being tried and sentenced by overzealous police officers. They advocated self defense, education, employment, land ownership, and an end to the unjust incarceration of Black people. Yes, they called for revolution, because they believed that the nonviolent path preached by Rev. Dr. King “had failed and any promised changes to their lifestyle via the ‘traditional’ civil rights movement, would take too long to be implemented or simply not introduced.

It’s super convenient for white people to feel assaulted by the mere suggestion that Black people might revolt against a white supremacist status quo. In a conversation I was having last week, one such White person expressed his sentiment that any movement that suggests the use of violence is automatically less valid and unacceptable to him. And when I asked about the American Revolution, he responded with understanding and excuses, explaining that the colonists didn’t really want to go to war at first… Which is the shit that really gets my gall. So hundreds of years of slavery, police brutality, the KKK, Jim Crow, segregation, lynch mobs… but the suggestion that Black people need to defend themselves is just too appalling? When it’s white people defending themselves against unfair taxes, its okay? When it’s white people killing people at random, it’s a sign of metal illness, but an organized group of Black people defending other Black people who are big victimized by white police officers, they’re a terrorist group? This trend of the media miseducating the masses by painting Black people with the villain brush and white criminals as regular people isn’t new. And I know I’m not alone when I say I’m tired of it. I had a recording for you, but instead, I’ll have to get back to writing you fucktards letters so you’ll get the point.

Dear Miseducated Masses,

I want to be understanding. I want to be forgiving. I want to be a Christ-like, But whatcheek-turning, self-sacrificing, patient, listener who continues to have these conversations in hopes that you’ll one day see the error of ways, your thinking, your false logic, and your double standards. Unfortunately, I don’t have the promise of an eternity of being worshiped and praised while sitting next to the big guy in the sky and watching the Human-Earth show for fun to look forward to. I have to live here with you, and if there is an afterlife, I may have to share my throne room in hell with you. I am subject to the injustices that you seem comfortable watching me and people like me go through. I don’t need your pats on the back for being as tolerant as I have already been of your collective bull shit. You are no longer allowed to count me among your ‘this many black friends’ when you justify your racist stances by saying “I’m not racist, but…” first.

Here’s the thing, the entire world has been all about making and keeping White people, and often more Y'all Madspecifically White Americans, comfortable. Those days are coming to an end. Even our performers starting to whisper “Stop Killing Us” through images of graffiti stained walls, sinking police cars, and lines of militarized police forces. After decades of being the only images of beauty in the media, you have the audacity to get upset now? After centuries of being able to ignore and often cause the suffering of people of color world wide, NOW you want to act like #AllLivesMatter… and get emotional over the collective “Fuck you” from your favorite colored entertainers? Miss me, Bey, and Blu Ivy with that. The kid gloves are off and we are requiring you to take wake up and smell you shit. It has NEVER smelled like the roses you claim your American Dream smells like. It’s shit. It stinks. And it’s time to get it together and start really cleaning. You’ve been “white washing” everything like the world is your personal white picket fence, and we’re not letting you do it anymore. You will see us as more than just thugs and criminals. You will stop forcing us into either/or roles that diminish the truth of our experiences. You will acknowledge your privilege, and really start adjusting your attitudes to this New World Order.

If you really want this to be a world where race doesn’t matter, start White Historyre-educating yourselves. Start really listening to your however-many-Black-friends/acquaintances when they tell you that you’re being racist. Stop making excuses, getting defensive, and making false equivalences to justify your ignorance. If you really believe that #AllLivesMatter, then stop acting like an all white jury can justly hear a case about a Black man being killed by any white man. Stop thinking that it’s normal for an armed white man to “fear for [his] life” just looking at a Black kid or group of Black kids. Stop treating Black children like miniature adults as soon as they’re old enough to walk and talk. You’ll ever be able to walk 1 foot in any of our shoes, but you could at least acknowledge that 1 foot in a Black person’s shoes is like 10 miles in yours, AND that it isn’t okay. If the picture to the right makes you uncomfortable, Good. It makes us uncomfortable too. We’re afraid that your ignorance is going to allow us to go ac to those days, and you’ll all just move on with your heads n the proverbial sands while we are stuck fighting for our lives because you were too busy “not seeing color.” Most of all, Do More & Require Better of yourselves. If not because I said so, then because several of your Black friend’s lives depend on it.

Sincerely,
Reign

RSI – Black Love: Part 2, Better Black Relationships

So in Part 1, I went in to the history of some of the psychology of where we are in Black relationships. Once again, when I talk about
“Black Love” and Black Relationships, I’m talking about any relationship that involves a Black person. I think it’s important that we can come to an understanding on this Black Love Wordspoint in particular because while there are so many messages out there that seem to suggest division and separation, I really do believe that we–all of us we–won’t get anywhere without each other. No revolution has ever been won without the help of sympathetic “outsiders.” The American revolution wouldn’t have been won without the French. The women’s movement wouldn’t have moved forward without the assistance of men. The LGBT (and whichever other letters have been added) community wouldn’t have gotten as far as it has without hetero help… and similarly, Black people and other people of color won’t succeed without White people. Somewhere out there, there’s an interracial couple at odds because they got together before the proverbial kitchen got hot. Maybe someone said something uninformed about The Black Panthers. Maybe someone got just a bit too passionate about police brutality. Either way the line was drawn then crossed, and the truth is out. If we can’t get to the core and come to a mutual understanding; where the people with privilege can acknowledge the whole situation and the rest of us can help them level out the playing field.

Anyway, I feel like knowing the history; the psychology of a behavior or thought pattern should make it easier to overcome. With that in mind, I went t the place where I was always told that women talk about relationships: the hair shop. Thanx to the ladies of Coco Hair Co. who who opened up and shared their perspectives on Black relationships. I have to say, I found myself apologizing on several
different occasions because I had to take things much deeper than the average “these n___s ain’t sh*t” conversation, and as the young folks say, they weren’t ready. They had to know about how we have been conditioned to mistrust each other… and that is, unsurprisingly, what it all really comes down to; trust &  security. Stop LyingThe answer to all of our woes, on every side of the conversation comes down to being able to trust each other, and from that trust, can we feel secure–emotionally, physically, financially, etc.–with each other. One young lady, who explained that she is not yet ready to be in a committed relationship explains that the bare minimum she should still be able to count on is that the dude(s) she’s dealing with is honest with her. She isn’t asking for exclusivity, only that she should know if/when he is seeing other women. Guys, I know, you probably don’t understand why she’d want to know. Have you ever seen how crazy a woman can get when she thinks the guy she’s seeing is seeing other women? Don’t you think he has a right to know what she might be getting herself into if one of your other women might find out about her and say… show up at her place of business or home starting trouble? So much drama can be prevented by simply making sure that all involved parties know what they’re getting in to. Common courtesy… common sense… common decency; not so common. She should also have the opportunity to make an informed decision as to whether or not she wants to continue her part of the arrangement. When you lie, you’re taking that option off the table. You get to hold the cards, and although you’ve shuffled the deck and changed the game, she still thinks you’re playing Crazy Eights when in fact you’ve switched to Poker.

Similarly, I’ve heard guys say all kids of things that suggest that some women are less deserving of honesty or “real”-ness; citing a woman’s choice of hair style or use of makeup almost as justification for misbehavior. I believe that men with this kind of thinking shouldn’t bother with relationships at all, least of all, Black relationshBlack Long Hairips. Guys, if you judge the content of a Black woman’s character by what she chooses to do with her hair, or how much time she seems to spend putting on makeup, you’re missing the point. No, I’m not saying that you should all go out and find the girl with the longest weave or the best contouring technique, but I am saying that a girl or woman’s cosmetic care choices shouldn’t diminish how you view her as a potential partner. What we do with our hair, nails, and makeup, if we choose to do anything at all isn’t always a superficial, political, or psychological decision… and it almost never really has anything to do with what you think its about. Using myself as an example, my more recent hair and makeup choices are about who I want to see looking back at me. I got all the way through high school without pimples, and now I have adult acne. As if I don’t look young enough I have to add acne to the mix? As far as my hair is concerned… that’s a bit more complicated. The simple version is that I most recently got it done, caving in to conservative society’s view of what is “acceptable” hair for Black women. I was angry about feeling forced into the style choice, and I’m still angry that participating in “their” world means that I can’t be authentic to my whole self. The take away from this segment should be that as women we have it hard enough, and as black women we have it that much harder. We shouldn’t have to add the disapproving commentary from our potential significant others to that list.

I’ve also heard that a girlfriend isn’t a wife so why should they bother making that effort? I’m equally disgusted when women make similar exclamations as if the absence of a ring decreases the level of pain inflicted by a broken heart. Stop. No seriously: Stop. That Not How This Worksisn’t how it works, and shame on you for acting like you’d be okay with someone lying to, playing with, or cheating on you claiming that the ring makes the difference. As a matter of fact, I’ll go as far to say that being “cheated on” by someone you’re cheating with or are “just f*cking” will still make you feel some kind of way. Which brings us full circle and back to the ladies at Coco’s. They provided a pretty simple list of what they’s really want from a man: Honesty, Accountability, Communication, and the ability to “handle” being with them. Now, that last one is the hardest thing on the list, but that’s what dating is for: figuring out if that person is someone you can handle. This short list isn’t too much to ask for. Like I said last week, we don’t necessarily need a significant other as a provider anymore. Further Black relationships in America have never even allowed for lack men to be providers. What we do need is a partner. Someone who provides emotional support and balance in a world where the struggle is real and constant and everyone just needs to be reminded that there is more to life than the daily grind. There’s love.

Do More for love. Require Better from lovers.