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It’s Been A Long Time… I Shouldn’a Left You…

I promise, I only left because… because… let me do this right. 

I’d love to say that I left because our Ruthless Leader decided to take a different path, but that would be a lie; I was mostly MIA quite a while before that happened. Y’all know I’m not much for lies, duplicity, or feigning optimism, so I’m going to apologize in advance if I shatter any false ideas you’ve cultivated over the years. The simple version is that I was pulling my life together. Unfortunately, the simple version never quite does it for me, so here we go:

I was busy being depressed. I couldn’t keep telling you to “Do More. Require Better.” when I barely wanted to do anything at all. I’ve been open about my depression, specifically because of what I believe to be my 50 percent, but I haven’t been open about how useless and ineffective the proverbial voices in my head tell me my writing is. I recognize that maybe once upon a time I had a legitimate following  before I started slipping. I also understand, or believe, that in all things, there must be balance. My depression makes it so I can’t see how anything I do means anything. Regardless of my efforts, there will still be pain, suffering, malice, disease, famine, poverty, discord, racism, sexism, and all other forms of unpleasantness. I was left asking “What is any of this for?” The only logical answer I could find: “Naught.”

So what’s a Reign O’Change to do?  I certainly couldn’t keep writing things I no longer believed. There was no Change on the horizon. I was incapable of believing that Justice would actually prevail. Thus, I stopped. It really wasn’t a conscious decision. I kept thinking, “I’ll come back to this one…” or “this issue doesn’t need my voice…” and “Do I really want be one more person blogging about Donamir Trutin’s ineptitude?” Lots of things to write about, but no drive to lend my energy to what seemed like yet another unwinnable battle.

So why are we here today? We’re here because I lost a friend. He’s still very much alive. He’s just not invited to the table anymore. Now, let me be clear: this young man literally came to the cookout. He brought deviled eggs and they were delicious. He tried to teach me how to play HALO. I promoted his craft as a Tattoo Artist. I defended him in public forum against an overzealous supervisor. So when I tell you “I lost a friend.” I mean I lost someone who I thought would be a permanent resident in the complex place that is my heart. How? It all started because of this story I shared on Facebook.

Truth be told, I didn’t even read the article. I figured the least I could do was continue conversing about things Requiring conversation. It’s yet another example of Hollywood deciding that Brown people are better represented by artificially tanned white people.  #RepresentationMatters is a battle cry for those of us who remain unseen and misrepresented by the media. How was I supposed to know it would devolve into “a friend” accusing me of hating white people. If anyone had told me that he would conclude that I was one step away from being a terrorist, I’d have laughed them to scorn. We had Jon Snowed our way through our friendship: we knew nothing about each other.

In my anger, I wrote this entire post, and in doing so, I realized that I needed to come back. That should’ve been–and might still end up being–an addition to The Letter Series. It could’ve been a head-first dive into Decorum Deficiency Disorder. I would’ve gotten so many more hits and shares if only I hadn’t forgotten the purpose of my mission.

#DoMoreRequireBetter is about me doing my #50percent more often and better. So, here’s how this is going to work: I’m back. I’m not mincing words, holding hands, faking the funk, or coddling Anyone. I won’t promise to be here every week, but I’ll be here with all the passion and vigor I can muster… because the conversations still need to be had. We will #RESIST and continue #NotBackingDown because the Cheeto in Chief has earned my wrath. In short: I’m here to Do More & Require Better.

RSI 101 – Black Love: Part 1

Black Kids Cheek KissThis is probably going to be a really long piece for a lot of reasons. I want to talk about love, about relationships, about being black in relationships (aka Black Love)… and further, after having done a recording wherein I barely touched on everything I want to say tells me that this needs to be a 2, maybe even 3 part discussion.  I have a feeling that some of my readers/listeners are going to feel alienated because much of this is going to be Black People specific, but remember, its Black history month, I’m Black, and as far as I’m concerned, some conversations are just to important to be PC about. Which reminds me…

About this Black history month thing: It shouldn’t be thing… more specifically, it shouldn’t have to be a thing. Black history, as we in the US commemorate it, is American history. It should be a part of the history curriculum. It should be included in English, Literature, and Reading lessons because we have there are Black American writers. Slavery and racism should as be openly and HONESTLY discussed as the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln. Little Black girls ad boys shouldn’t be relegated to only learning about people who look like them during the shortest month of the year. It shouldn’t be that Blackness is only open for discussion in 30 second video clips before commercials. February shouldn’t be the only month people are encouraged to cram all of their/our appreciation of Blackness into. Just like people should be aware of breast cancer and heart disease all year, so should Black people, and our experience.

V Day ChocolateSimilarly, Valentine’s Day shouldn’t have to be a thing. We shouldn’t need a specific day to remember to show appreciation to our significant others. Further, the media should be ashamed of themselves for suggesting that men need to spend exorbitant amounts of money and women simply need to supply the sex to show appreciation for our significant others. Unfortunately, if it wasn’t for Valentine’s day, many wouldn’t get to know they were appreciated until something bad happened in the relationship…. because who really remembers Anniversaries anyway? Many married men would have to wait for God knows how long for their wives to remember that lingerie can be more enticing than comfy pajamas, or that men deserve to feel special too.

Now let’s combine this and get to what I really want to talk about: Relationships. Black Love & HappinessNow, if you’ve been reading me since the beginning, you’ll know that I don’t like giving romantic relationship advice… I will, but I don’t generally like to. This time I’m going this because there are people on my feed and in my family who have thoughts ad questions, that I think deserve a attention. First, history and upbringing… as they relate to Black Americans. Up front, I think it bears mentioning that a lot of what I am making Black people specific, is actually universal, thus, if you’re not Black, and reading this, you might still be able to relate.

All the messages we receive put us at odd with one another. As men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, romantic relationships are painted in hard and violent colors. There’s a battle for dominance; a question about who wears the pants in the relationship, that just makes things difficult.

Time to dig deep…

Back in the day, marriage was a form of ownership. Women, having no rights of their own, or value other than their ability to bear children and tend to the house were basically sold into servitude by their fathers to their husbands, or their husband’s family (depending on the age). Is it really any wonder that since the day women started working outside the home (because parenting and housekeeping is work) that a functional dynamic of relationships has been difficult to maintain? I’ll go deeper. Black women in You Don't Deserve HerAmerica have always worked outside the home. Whether it was raising the master’s children, picking the cotton, cooking, cleaning… slaving in general was work. And then they had to go to wherever the slaves slept, and work more for their own families. Although white women were undervalued in their homes, they could at least count on the protection of the men in their lives. Black women could not; Black women had to bear the brunt of all of the abuse, the rape, the indignity, knowing that no one would be coming to save her… not her father, brothers, or even her husband.  Her mother or sister might be able to offer herself up to the master to offer a reprieve, but it wouldn’t be man, at least not if he valued his life… not if he didn’t want to risk being sold to another plantation. Throughout history, women have had to do the parenting thing alone. Men were off hunting, fighting wars, and forging frontiers. Even when they were around, they were mainly there for sex and food. They gave women more work to do. I’m not trying to diminish the value of having a man in the home, I’m simply saying that not having a man at the home isn’t a new thing either. The value of male-female companionship didn’t actually come into play until much later.

Now, I can already hear some of you saying “That was then, this is now Reign… time to move on Reign.” But see, if you look at where we are in relationships now, where we have to be specific about “Black Love”–as if love isn’t complicated enough–especially with the women’s movement having given rise to messages that tell men that we, women, don’t need them, I want you to really understand
where that comes from. So where am I going with this?  Simple: women don’t need men… LOL… Okay, no, that isn’t where I was Storm Black Panther Kissgoing, but  had to say it. Because we don’t need men the way we needed them back then. Like all women, we need companionship. We need partnership. We need bed warmers. We need someone to be special to. Yes, we need you. The feminist movement, while I still consider myself a proud feminist, got that message wrong, or at least incomplete. More specifically, as a Black woman, I have to speak directly to the need for Black men. The complaint about Black women being too hard, too independent, too masculine… if you look at the history, you’d understand that we didn’t have a choice, and that being penalized for it is an injustice that is still prevalent in Black relationships today. Not just as companions–straying from the romantic element of relationships for this–but as partners in the struggle. When we are agonizing about #BlackLivesMatter, the people who understand through experience are Black men. The man you are least likely to have to explain why and how racism is still a problem for you personally, even if you never stepped foot in the hood, is a Black man. When being a “strong black woman” was in style and it got mixed in with the feminist movement, the message got twisted, everything fell apart, and the idea of Black love became a novelty. It became more about devaluing men and their role in our lives, and less about empowering women. Suddenly, “taking care of home” was a weak woman’s job; a white woman’s job. The rhetoric about men being unnecessary, more specifically how Black men “ain’t shit” became more important than strong families. I’ll ask this: What’s the point of being a strong Black woman if all you let yourself see are weak men?

At the same time, men were hearing all those messages too; and the message was loud and clear. So why are we surprised when they
fell back on their role as men? Why shouldn’t they have switched to only focusing on what they need us for? If we don’t need them to do the right thing, why should they? What’s their incentive? They’re told they aren’t necessary, but they’re still expected to pay for the dates, pay the bills, be physically present in their children’s lives–technically a new requirement–and sometimes the lives of children that aren’t theirs, be emotionally and financially stable, be able to fix stuff around the house, be educated, committed, and faithful… and in return, they might be able to look forward to sex. Where’s the equality in that? Where is the love in that? Since we’re out working, they can’t expect a cooked meal when they get home. They can’t expect well raised, respectful children who understand the value in patience and perseverance over the acquisition of things and instant gratification. They can’t expect anything because like the song says, “we run this.

I’m the kind of feminist who actually believes in equality, only with a realistic twist… Love Never Failsbecause we aren’t equal; not in all things. There are some things that should be exclusive to men, just like there are some things that are exclusive to women. Allowing this dynamic to break down; allowing the incomplete messages to corrupt the fundamentals is one major component to why relationships, specifically relationships between Black people, has become so difficult. Unlike most other racial groups, there’s a lot more to Black love than just love… and I have a lot more to say about it…

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I know that was long (especially on top of all this)… and I have even more to say about it. So come back next week for Black Love, Part 2.

In the mean time, Do More, Require Better.

Screaming Injustice

I’ve spent all day trying to decide if and how I would address the injustice of the verdict. Caught somewhere between anger and disappointment… and a mish-mash of other thoughts and emotions that have left me less than a notch above numb.

Ferguson On Fire

It’s not like I’m surprised. I knew that this would be yet another nugget of proof of how little the lives of people who like me mean to this country. I already know that the justice system is subject to the skewed perception of those appointed to serve it. I am well aware that people will serve their personal interests over the greater good or “the right thing.” Yes, I knew all this, but I held on to hope anyway.

I hoped that the Grand Jury would see past the color of Mike Brown’s skin, and instead see an unarmed kid who was unjustly murdered in the street by a man who allowed his natural distrust and fear of dark-skinned people, regardless of their age or intent, to make gunning a young man down when he was already surrendering. I hoped they might recognize the historical trend of police abuse of power and deign to act against it. I hoped they would have learned from the mistakes made by Zimmerman’s jury. I hoped that this time, things would be different. Sadly, I knew better.

http://youtu.be/nOYuhLNwh3A

Yeah, I know… Change is gonna come… just not today, and tomorrow isn’t looking good either.

I sat at work surrounded by people who seemed completely unaffected and disinterested. All but one person seemed to be completely disconnected from the whole thing. Life goes on. We all have bills to pay, mouths to feed, circumstances to overcome… what’s one Grand Jury decision… one city on fire… what’s one dead Black whatever when there’s a paycheck to be earned?

I’ll tell you what it is:
It’s my brother. It’s my friend. It’s the guy with 3 kids and a wife at the supermarket. It’s the woman sentenced to years in prison for firing a warning shot that didn’t so much as graze a rodent in the wall behind her abusive husband while murderers of young Black men get to walk free. It’s the young man asking why he was shot when all he had done was follow the officer’s order. It getting followed around in stores. Its having learned to loathe the word articulate. Its knowing that my white friends might one day read this and think that I’m some kind of closet white people hater.

It might become increasingly difficult to understand that I’m pissed at everyone right now. It wasn’t just the system that failed Michael Brown. His elders failed him by not voting when they had the opportunity to elect city officials that would be more inclined to protect the whole community’s rights and welfare. His peers failed him by engaging in dumb kid activities. His community failed him by not providing a better, more positive image of Blackness for their whiter neighbors to compare him to.

One event after another, we have failed our predecessors in making our way to the proverbial mountaintop. Having embraced an image of coolness that discourages intellect, studiousness, intelligence, and pursuits of the non-material variety, we have fallen so far from where we once were. Concepts like cool and swag have overruled notions of decency and decorum.

We can’t expect anything to change if we’re only willing to maintain the status quo. The status quo isn’t good enough. None of any of the is cool. Maybe now you’ll think about it when I say…

Do More. Require Better.

Ruthless Grab bag: A Prelude to tomorrow

A Prelude to tomorrow

Tomorrow I’ll be back for a second piece on voting. But today I wanted to give you a bit of my more normal blogging. Things have been tight and contested around the home of your favorite super villain, and it has kept me from going at some things that have come up. So let’s start getting into them with a nice grab bag.

 

John Grisham is an idiot, and I’m weary of him and other idiot old white men

So I want to address this now because I’m a person who has talked at length about how much I read and that I’ve read every one of his books including Playing for Pizza(Yes, yes I did). As a reader of his books I was actually pretty shocked by the comments. But as someone waiting to hear the magic words that I can be sworn in as an attorney I was disgusted. Look folks there is just no sensible way to excuse what he said. For those that don’t know Grisham said this while defending a friend who had been convicted of having child pornography.

“We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who have never harmed anybody, would never touch a child. But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn. I have no sympathy for real pedophiles. But so many of these guys do not deserve harsh prison sentences, and that’s what they’re getting. They haven’t hurt anybody, ok? They deserve some type of punishment, whatever. But ten years in prison? A friend of mine, ten years ago, was drinking. His drinking was out of control. And he went to a website—it was labeled, 16-year-old wannabe hookers, or something, some stupid website. And it said, 16-year-old girls. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff. It was 16-year-old girls who looked 30. You know, they were all dressed up and whatever. He shouldn’t have done it, it was stupid. But it wasn’t 10-year-old boys and he didn’t touch anything. And golly, a week later there was a knock on the door. FBI. And it was a sting set up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to catch people—sex offenders. And he went to prison for three years.”

– John Grisham

Now let’s look at that for a second or two. His friend, who’s readmission to the bar Grisham backed, was on a website labelled 16 year old hookers. And viewed and downloaded video and or pictures of 16 year old girls. And he doesn’t think that the 3 year sentence was right. Further, he doesn’t think they are quote “real” pedophiles. Now you aren’t going to get me to spend much time dealing with the US prison system in a positive light. Part of that is that we allow for profit prisons. Part of that is we have a penal system based on severity punishment instead of rehabilitation, so we just make better criminals instead of making less of them. But if there is a group who needs to realize the depths of their depravity it is this lot. And like a few people have mentioned I’m concerned what might be on his computer. But to put a bow on this and give you perspective, the friend he was talking about? Yeah he said he deserved the punishment he received. NEXT TOPIC!

Lena Dunham(And I promise unless something becomes important this will be the only time I talk about her in a blog post)

So I ran across an article talking about this book Lena Dunham has out in stores and I was a bit bothered by the idea that she feels so comfortable with the story it told. I was even more bothered at her response to being called out on it. But I can’t say I was surprised when she was later defended by her throngs of supporters. For those who don’t know Ms Dunham details…You know what? Just read this link I’ll wait a bit for you…

 “I shared a bed with my sister, Grace, until I was seventeen years old. She was afraid to sleep alone and would begin asking me around 5:00 P.M. every day whether she could sleep with me. I put on a big show of saying no, taking pleasure in watching her beg and sulk, but eventually I always relented. Her sticky, muscly little body thrashed beside me every night as I read Anne Sexton, watched reruns of SNL, sometimes even slipped my hand into my underwear to figure some stuff out. Grace had the comforting, sleep-inducing properties of a hot-water bottle or a cat.”

 

You done? Okay so in that snippet she is talking about when she is 7 and her sister is 1 and 2 years old. In a piece not included this behavior apparently continued until she was 17. Both the sexual and non-sexual gratification of herself through what she did or  coerced out of her sister. But as you can see, the indie darling responded to someone calling her out on this disturbing issue by saying is wrong with us. And calling her detractors the ones with the problem. It is interesting that she has a problem with people calling her a sexual predator when in the book she does the same but think about that later I have stuff to continue to on her.

This will inevitably piss off more of our readers but I don’t find her particularly interesting. And I think her show is more whitewashed NYC bullshit. Don’t worry, I know you just rage stomped your keyboard to call me names. And I’m not done. So this constant trend of HBO and Showtime to do “white people problems” shows(Credit: Cracked.com’s After hours), means that shows like hers get picked up and shows like Treme don’t get to stick around. I’m not okay with that, but that could be an entirely different blog post. Her show thrives on white girl awkwardness and her being the most likely of the supposed “unlikely” advocates for feminism and body acceptance. And as the site’s resident fat guy I’m pretty sure I can take shots at this second one. She has said over and over that she shows herself naked over and over because people tell her she shouldn’t. That’s her brand of feminism, and acceptance. Fine. Guess who doesn’t give a single fuck? You guessed it. ME!

Where I have a problem is the horrid character arcs, and missue of the randomly appearing POCs on the show. Chief among these Donald Glover. Why? Because here you have an actor who has cred with comedy, and more serious fare who you’ve decided to have play against type as a soft-spoken black republican law student. PERFECT!  What happens? No build up, no interaction with most of the cast, no real time on the show, some faux outrage, and gone. Dude hasn’t even been back on the show since then to randomly give her shit. I was convinced into giving her show a chance by that appearance. And because of it, I was done. It was as forced as her comments on race. So whitewash NYC, have no thought about the things you claim to do. But people should forgive you cause Childish Gambino once came on to be a fetishized black male sex partner? Pathetic. I hope the show gets cancelled after low ratings from all this. Don’t you love these Grab Bags? NEXT TOPIC!

Dear Stupid People(I thought about calling this in defense of WDDIJ)

So Apparently Reign’s piece The Letter Series: Dear White People still seems to be ruffling feathers for calling out white people. And apparently my vocal support of the film Dear White People has people calling me a reverse racist. Now I won’t dare address the idea that you people read WDDIJ and didn’t notice the piece about the difference between a bigot and a racist. But exactly when did this site’s readers become so blind to ignore reality? Has my podcast vacation truly been that devastating(Don’t worry it’ll be back soon) Look I’m not going to give this much time. But If you’ve become so disillusioned that you thought I, or indeed ANY writer on WDDIJ were going to back off of calling out people who are particularly antagonistic to the human experiment…well I won’t miss you when you leave. White, black, tan, Purple, green, American, Chinese, Japanese, Arab, Latino, German, Dutch, I really don’t care what you ID as. Reign’s letter series took on everyone. And I’ve never held back on any Ethnic Classification including my own. Now I have a lot more to say but that’s for tomorrow besides…WORDS DON’T DO IT JUSTICE!

 

– THE Ruthless Wonder

Words Don’t Do It Justice Podcast Episode 4: Hard Quesitons, Harder Answers

This month on the Words Don’t Do It Justice podcast we welcome the return of THE Ruthless Wonder as host along with Reign, and the newest Author The Radical Ref for a discussion of college costs, the realities of medicine and the health in the modern world, and money in politics as well as a big announcement regarding the future of this podcast. Enjoy episode 4: Hard Questions, Harder Answers.

WDDIJcast Episode 4<right click and select save as to download.

Words Don’t Do Us Justice: A Moment of Reflection: Introducing Reign

The Introduction

You’ve been watching all of our updates. You’ve been looking for who would be first to post in the new year. Well because I’m very good at hyping up the new arrivals, you knew this was coming. But since I’m good at tactical secrets, you didn’t know when. Who better than the newest member of The R revolution to open up the new year. Hope you brought your umbrellas and poncho’s because 2014 begins with REIGN!
– R.W.

Happy New Year!!! I guess I should properly introduce myself. My name is Reign and I’m going to let you get to know me the same way everyone else does: a little bit at a time. But since this is our first meeting, let’s start at the beginning…

Remember back in the day when you were a kid and life was easy… When you could just wake up on Christmas morning knowing that Santa would have brought you stuff that was on the list you gave your parental unit to deliver to him. Back in the day when life was fun because just about everyone in your life expected you to “just be a kid” for as long as possible… and that was OK. There are sayings about how great things used to be. One of my favorite authors said:

“I used to be myself, whatever I was, because I didn’t have knowledge. I didn’t have a program in my head. I didn’t know what I was, and I didn’t care to know.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz – The Voice of Knowledge ~

Fast forward: now we’re grown and social media is practically running the world. Thank you internet! Thank you for making it possible for us to act like we did back when we didn’t have to care about propriety; before we learned humility, pride, and prejudice… for making it easier to tell the truth about something and just walk away with no regard for other’s thoughts or feelings… Thank you for providing a safe place to cave in to our baser instincts without any thought to consequence.

Sounds a little like a personal attack doesn’t it? Well, it kind of is. This behavior is not OK. This brings us back to that introduction I mentioned… I’m here to shove yourself in your face and remind you that while we’re all here just enjoying the entertainment value of things, life is still happening around us and it is of the utmost importance to our continued survival that we take notice of it… at least from time-to-time. Let me be that not-so-soft voice in the back of your head that pops up every Wednesday to remind you about something you might have briefly noticed on FaceBook or Twitter, the crawl on CNN, or the newest viral video on YouTube.

I’m the kind of person who would unabashedly geek out about wanting the next installment of God of War on the PS4 (because Oh-eM-Gee am I looking forward to it), and in the same breath completely lose my mind over how commercialism is the tooth decay of our so-called civilization. If you think cartoons and anime are the same thing, I have words for you… and if you can’t see the validity of paying property taxes to contribute your local school district, I’ve got a few choice thoughts for you about that too.

You see, I have some knowledge, and I have a program in my head. But—like many of you—I still don’t completely know what I am. I am comfortable with who I am, and am greatly invested in who I am becoming… and maybe together, we can give just enough of a damn to try to figure it out together.

So this is me: here to Reign over your parade; to rein in your parade; and sometimes rain on your parade.

Are you ready?