Did I miss the kindergarden class on African colors?

I know, I know. I’m that person who doesn’t text you for weeks and then out of the blue sends you a quick “Good morning beautiful!”. You should ignore them because they need to kick rocks with open-toe shoes (my friend says that all the time and I find it hilarious. Thanks Ali). But maybe, just maybe, you decide to respond. At first you may be incredibly upset: “Idiot (I suggest using a stronger word but I’m working on my cursing), where have you been?! You ghosted on me”(Which sidebar, why is ghosting a thing? We’re adults. USE YOUR WORDS. But I digress).  Their smooth talking slowly gets the best of you. You start remembering why you liked them in the first place and you’re once again enthralled. Happened to me last month Definitely not speaking from personal experience. That was my roundabout way of saying: “hey boos! I’ve missed y’all! I’ve missed this space and I’ve missed story telling. I really appreciate how y’all continue to rock with me!”

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The one and only DJ Khaled. Major key alert!

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way (although…y’all know to expect another long intro excusing my absence for the next 6 months. I’m not really sure why I play these games), let’s dive right back in. I debated long and hard about what to discuss following my re-emergence from hibernation. While a lot of you (the 4 that still rock with me) seem to like the dating stories, my dating life has been more sad than entertaining lately. I did learn a new term though, “softboy“. So I thought I’d bring you another installment of “When people say dumb sh%t and need to be called out”.

Picture this. You’re sitting at a bar with a group of friends, glasses clinking, beer spilling on the old wooden table. Someone is laughing loudly while you try to repeat your unique name to Ruth’s date for the 3rd time.  Beneath your worn out shoes, the floor feels sticky. The air smells of stale beer, rotting wood and discarded cigarette buds. This is the bar that everyone goes to because the beer is cheap and the fries are extra greasy. It’s not much but it feels like home. You’ve joked with friends, played darts and stayed out well past your bedtime in this bar. You know where the bathrooms are located; and that anyone who orders the salmon sandwich will also become well-acquainted with those too-small stalls with the broken doors. The point is, this is a safe place. You feel confident that you can be yourself in this place and that you’re in good company.

Esther*, a pleasant blonde woman from the South (the Southern part is important, so pay attention folks), is discussing the latest college football game. Apparently, her favorite team beat some other team or something to that effect. That’s usually how these things work, right? Personally, I don’t care. Esther keeps yammering on about her team and mentions that they might beat the 1st place team in their division. People chuckle. Again, I do not care and am barely listening. Like I said (or in this case, am about to say) I’m just there so I won’t get fined. Esther, not one to be discouraged, continues: “We will rise again!”

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How has Nene Leeks expressed every sentiment I’ve ever had?

“I don’t get it. Why would that make you pause?” Good question my friend. On a regular day, I would have gone on with my merry Black self and ignored Esther and her enthusiasm for college football. But on that fateful day, I happened to walk by a car with a confederate flag and 2 Trump stickers. So your girl was feeling extra sensitive to anything that may have had even the slightest racist undertones.

pam-grier

Pam gets it. Let a mofo try me!

For those of you who may still be confused about why Esther saying “We will rise again” irked me, here’s a little free .99 U.S history lesson. In 1861, 7 states succeeded  from the Union and formed what became known as the Confederacy (They would grow their ranks to 11)… Actually, I don’t have time for this and I’m not the historian in the family. If you’re really interested, follow my cousin on Twitter (I gotta ask him if he’s cool with me putting his business out there first) or you can read about it. Google is free 25/7.

Essentially, what you need to know is that the Confederacy would have kept my behind in chains, picking cotton if they could and *some* Southerners have been going around for decades declaring that “The South will rise again” cuz you know…they racist AF. So you can see how hearing Esther, a blonde Southern woman, say those words may have made me feel some type of way.

Anyways (because this post is already getting too long)…while I’m a little shook, I get over it quickly. People keep laughing, drinking their beers. We’re all having a good time, Mary-Magdalene* is discussing her new business venture with a slightly buzzed Peter*. Emblazoned by alcohol, Peter declares “You should get some African colors for your logo”

 

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“Now what exactly are African colors, Peter?”

“You know…bright! Maybe with some African print.”

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Exactly Kid Fury!

Can someone please explain to me what exactly African colors are? If I wear a yellow shirt in Russia, is it called “Russian yellow” vs. if I wear that shirt in Ghana, y’all gon’ call it “Ghanaian yellow”? I’m confused. I know we stay poppin’ in all colors of the rainbow palette but I didn’t realize bright colors were only reserved to Africa. Also, the audacity to just throw a “African print” as if that makes it better. “African prints” as Peter referred to them, vary and can actually depend on country/region. Example: fabric prints from the Forest region in Guinea are quite distinctive. Y’all stay trying us and having this “Africa is a monolith” attitude, even when you should know better!

Fix it Jesus!

Nene has had enough

(via Real Housewives of Atlanta)

Y’all! It may seem as if I’m making a mountain out of a molehill but words matter and these thought patterns are pervasive. We have got to do better people. So next time you’re having drinks with a Peter, at your favorite bar with the sticky floors, and he says something slick, follow these steps:

  1. Ask the ancestors for fortitude
  2. Take a deep breath. If you’re drinking, take another sip of your drink
  3. Look him in the eye so he can see that he ’bout to be checked and you ain’t playing no games
  4. Go for the jugular and make sure he knows/does better next time because you care

Disclaimer: if Peter is your glucose guardian (think about it for a second. It’ll come to you eventually), your ride home or just being the good friend who’s got you covered cuz you forgot your wallet, keep yo’ mouth shut. I can’t cover your beers and mine therefore your “wokeness” might have to wait until after the bill has been paid.

Other option is to write a longer-than-needed blog post on the interwebs. But that’s just me though. Not trying to be accused of ruining anyone’s life or friendships.

*Names and scenario have been changed.

#DearMe: 25 things I’d say to my younger self

N.B.: I started writing another post last week and the introduction is my explanation for being away for 7 months. While it won’t be posted before this one, we’ll just pretend that it has. Cool? Cool. 

Months ago (and I mean moooooonths ago, maybe even years), Youtubers made these videos entitled: “DearMe.” They are video letters to their younger selves, things they wished they had known and pearls of wisdom they’d like to share. And because I’m always one of the last ones to hop on board the “hip and cool” train, I’m only now discovering this and taking advantage of it. But instead of a video letter and because I don’t have that kind of equipment, patience and no one wants to see me make a video in my bonnet, I thought I’d write a list of 25 things I’d like to say to my younger self in honor of my 25th birthday. Some of these apply to my younger self from 2 weeks ago, others to my 12-year-old self.

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So here goes:

  1. Making an “unpopular” decision by some subjective standards doesn’t make it the wrong decision. It just makes it tough. So if you’re thinking about moving to Niger, being celibate or spending $1000 on a purse, evaluate your reasons for doing it. If you can live with it, then go ‘head girl!
  2. He’s asking you out/into you. I need you to be better at recognizing that. It will save you some awkward moments.
  3. Also, if the gentleman you’re seeing tells you that he really likes you and wants to be together, don’t say “That’s nice” in a weird tone. Even saying nothing is better than that. Oh, and don’t dump someone on their birthday. That’s just cruel.
  4. When people tell you that you’re beautiful or smart or funny or talented, believe them!
  5. If people tell you that you’re ugly or dumb or boring, tell them to kick rocks. Clearly that’s a personal problem and they ain’t shit.
  6. Cross-country moves are exciting. They are also daunting and exhausting. Let’s try not to do that twice in less than 2 years again.
  7. Speaking of moving cross-country, being in a new city can be really lonely sometimes and that’s OK. That feeling doesn’t last forever. It also teaches you to stretch your comfort zone, have new experiences and that’s fantastic.
  8. You remember those last months of grad school? Girl, I know you’re trying to forget that whole graduate experience but it taught you a very valuable lesson.
  9. On that note, graduate school is expensive AF. Make sure you really want to go. (Watch me write about attending a PhD program in the next 2 years because I don’t listen and might be a masochist)
  10. Spending that year in Ayiti with your mother was one of the best decisions of your life. Thank your uncle for encouraging you to do it. And on days when you doubt that, I’ll try to remind you.
  11. Your college friends are treasures. Hold on to them! They made you a special Senior week because you weren’t 21 and couldn’t participate in the official Senior week activities.
  12. About not being 21 in college, stop stressing homie! You’ll regret thinking about it so much and letting it affect your experience. Also when that person calls you “jailbait” freshman year, google what it means before thinking it’s a cool nickname. #Immigrantprobz
  13. Put credit on your phone while in Talloires. White that sketchy night, hitchhiking with strangers and your roommate, will make for a good story, it scared the crap out of you. If you having calling credit that night will save you from that “I might get murdered and never found” feeling, it’s sooo worth it.
  14. At 18, you’re going to go natural. At the time, you won’t do it because you think it’s a political statement or because of styling preferences, but because you wanted to challenge yourself to appreciate your beauty. Because you wanted to stop hiding behind hair. And because of that, I admire you so much. We lost that along the way, but I promise to try to get it back. P.S.: Making a decision to unapologetically love yourself and your Blackness is a political statement. We just weren’t as “woke” (kinda hate that term fam!) yet.
  15. Go to class. Skipping those classes in college was not the smartest decision. And for what? To watch extra episodes of True Life?!?! DO BETTER!
  16. Drinking on an empty stomach is NEVER A GOOD IDEA. DO NOT DO IT!
  17. That “I’m not good enough” feeling is more or less normal. What’s detrimental is wallowing in it and being so hard on yourself. You’re your harshest critic. Be gracious with yourself. You deserve it! Also the devil is a liar!
  18. That guy you like, just tell him. I know you can think of 1,000 reasons to not say anything but they’re all B.S. Rejection stings, it really does. But you know what else stings? Feeling dejected in front of ZBT, feeling like a coward and “what if”. I’m not a fan of “what if” so if you want to reduce the number of those, just tell homeboy. It can go 1 of 2 ways, and either way “we gon’ be alright!”
  19. Family (and people who become family) over everything!
  20. Go to therapy. Everyone needs it and it’s not a sign of weakness. We all need a little help sometimes.
  21. You’re stronger than you give yourself credit. This feeling of helplessness won’t last forever. I wish I could show you all of the amazing things/moments  you’ll experience and the people you’ll meet. 2010 was a crap shoot year but you made it. And as I sit here typing this, I know that the best is yet to come. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be challenges along the way. But we got this! So take a breath and chill.
  22. You’re dope. Point blank period.
  23. You cute. Like real cute. Own it. Those insecurities (unfortunately we still have some at 25, screw the patriarchy!!!) are impeding you from living your best life. Shed them! Also stop dressing like a grandma. There’s modest and just plain tragic. Guess which camp you fall in?
  24. DO NOT DO IT! It will just create some unnecessary drama and make your life more complicated than it has to be. You’ll know who/what/when/where I’m talking about.
  25. Allow yourself to be happy. We all have baggage. But recognize that you have some dope sister-friends (special shouts out to MG, KK, TH, CM and many others), the dopest sister from another mother, but kinda the same mother (<3 u Beat Rice), a wonderful support system, a job you enjoy, a roof over your head, the ability to move and shake your body at dance class (that’s real able-ist of me. Guess I’m not as “woke” as I thought), and breath in your lungs. So enjoy life because… (string of clichés coming up) the world is your oyster and every day above ground is a good day.

When I first started this list, I thought I’d have a hard time writing 25 things but I now realize that there’s so much more that I’d like to tell my younger self. Apparently my younger self is a real hot mess. However, I’ll stick to these 25 for the interwebs.

I love you and Happy Birthday queen!

Shout out to VOIS for this video! I recycle it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I have to wish someone a happy birthday! You can also spot me swinging uncontrollably in the back (face palm)!

What would you tell your younger self? Share in the comments below.