Social Distancing… Distance

I don’t know why I’m just getting stir crazy. All of my friends have already had a breakdown. Maybe because I’m an introvert. Maybe because I have more hobbies than the average bear. Maybe because my mental health meds are a nice cushion for life. About a week ago I woke up anxious. I wanted to do something, anything. I missed the family I created. I mean, we’ve all been real cautious. Which means there haven’t been any get-togethers or anything since this global pandemic was acknowledged.

I’m an artist, writer and performer. I’m not to into the performing, but I love seeing other poets perform. I love late night meals and conspiracy theories. I like history lessons at 3am in the morning. I like discussing solutions to oppression and racism. I like laughing until I’m exhausted. I like getting to know my people in and hearing their stories unedited for a trusted audience… So next time they perform a piece, a few of us will hear it on a deeper level. A few of us won’t internalize their words and search for ourselves… We’ll see each other deeper.

So, I called Keith, a man we call The Griot in poetry circles. He created this poetry space that has existed I think 3 decades. During the pandemic they even tried to make it virtual so people could still get their fix. Still, it was hard. We were afraid. Wearing masks. We were grateful to see each other, but we were also afraid.

Since we talk about everything, we couldn’t help but talk about who we knew that died of Covid. Yes, we discussed the conspiracy that too many deaths were attributed to Covid. Still, I don’t know how much we believed this. As we each gauged how to interact with each other. Some of us were so terrified we stayed to ourselves. Others, as always, were hugging and eating at different tables…

After that we didn’t get together any more. We didn’t talk about getting together. We, artists, aren’t big phone or even social media people. We all buried ourselves in each of our individual tribes. We focused on our loved ones who shared our household. We didn’t text. We didn’t do check ins. Someone would send a group text of a project and we would exchange supportive comments.

Then it happened. The cure was finally here. I hate needles. I remember Tuskegee, COINTELPRO and J. Marion Sims. I wanted to see how this cure would be received. Also, since I don’t like needles, I was going for the Johnson and Johnson version so I didn’t have to take two shots.

Weeks rolled by, precautions were removed and many of my loved ones returned to life as they knew it. They were vaccinated. They were travelling and celebrating the end of this… But then, the numbers of infected people started climbing again. We learned the vaccine was a cure like other vaccines that eradicated diseases. Vaccinated people, living their life like we weren’t in the middle of a global pandemic started getting sick too.

My city, whose economy centers tourism opened up to the world and said we didn’t have to wear masks if we were vaccinated. Now we’re a hot spot for Covid and a hot spot for vacation.

I still live like we did in the first months of Covid. I don’t hang out or go over people’s house. I wear a mask with everyone and everywhere. I stay to myself. I cringe when people coughed and weren’t wearing a mask. Sometime I gave them the look of death… IDGAF if you are vaccinated covered your nasty mouth. Haven’t you heard people can be carriers without symptoms? Haven’t you heard people are dying?

So I like I said, I called Keith, The Griot. I just wanted to sit with someone I loved. I was willing to wear a mask. I realized that at work I was seeing strangers every day in a mask and I hadn’t caught Covid. So I wondered why I couldn’t hang out with a friend. But now writing this, my friends are probably not doing Covid cleaning like my job. They aren’t wiping door nobs or sanitizing everything after they touch.

Doesn’t really matter, Keith wasn’t up for hanging out. In fact, he was in quarantine when I reached out. He noted, he’d been vaccinated but had still caught Covid. More importantly, he was still very ill and was still recovering. On top of that, his wife had tested negative but she was in quarantine as a precaution. He was so ill he couldn’t even text.

After he informed me he was waiting until this was all over, because things were not working out how he anticipated it kind of broke my spirit. I followed all the rules. I have hand sanitizer everywhere. I’ve started to think more about how I interact with the world. A friend posted that she washes all her grocery before putting them away. After I carry all my groceries up the stairs to my place, I celebrate actually putting them away before the ice cream melts. Now I’m expected to wash everything before I put it in a cabinet or in the fridge? I’m going to DIEEEE!!!!!

I started thinking about how I worked in grocery with gloves on and touched all sorts of things while putting up canned and jarred foods. I think about how sometimes weird things spilled in the cooler and probably poisoned the packaging on things… Then it felt like the world was closing in on me. Every where I went all I could see were germs. I’m a pretty upbeat person, so this negative perspective that we’re all capable of killing each other wore my spirit down.

I’m up at all times of the night. Tired of watching entire series… I didn’t actually start watching TV until like 2018. So streaming all these different shows made me feel lazy and like I was letting my life slip away. Isn’t there something I should be doing? I’d get up and pace all over thinking of things to do and then being to tired to do them. And then being angry at myself for not using all this time at home to get my life together. So I have to berate myself. It’s only right. Then I have to remember I am my own best friend and then I have to be nice and understanding.

So I treat my lazy ass to some ice cream, even though I’m lactose intolerant, I’ve gained back some of the weight I’ve lost… But then I soothe myself with promises of joining and going to the gym regularly once this pandemic is over. I avoid all mirrors. I wonder how something so delicious is not good for me. Then I make a mental not to buy pills to take before I eat dairy… I actually buy those pills but never take them because I don’t like taking pills. Then I find a lactose free ice cream. I haven’t tried it yet.

All this ice cream I’m eating reminds me of my editor, Claudia, who loves ice cream. She’s naturally slim and has to work out to gain weight. She use to eat a bowl of ice cream every night before bed. She’d call me to talk about whatever project we were working on and I’d hear enjoying that ice cream, and it’d piss me off. The word ice cream puts weight on me. Not to mention, no one enjoys anything like an artist. I mean we really love things and express it in “oohs” and “ahhs.” Don’t be in person, we’re a whole commercial for whatever we are in love with at the moment.

Anyway, I called Claudia, to see how she was doing. One of the things this pandemic has got me in the habit of doing is calling all my love ones who are not in the same city. I try to have a couple long conversations a week. Well I did initially. The problem is when I call, they are bummed about the pandemic too. In the beginning, I would cheer the extroverts I love up. I’d be telling jokes and giving all that bullshit new age advice… Now, I’m up on a ledge imagining I’m a ballerina. Up on my toes. Arms out. I’m looking over the edge and wondering if the shock of dropping will kill me before I have to feel the impact.

So now when my friends call as I’ve gotten them use to… I’m avoiding contact because I’m too sad to lift anyone’s spirit. I have a dark humor for folks I’m forced to see for survival… That’s work and the grocery store. OMG!!!! Walmart is using this pandemic to make us all volunteer cashiers when they aren’t punishing us for using cash. GAWD!!!! Cash is the devil now, but I’m broke. So I take out my allowance. Once it’s gone it’s gone.

Now when I was a kid allowance meant fun things, like movies and pizza with friends. Now, allowance is what I buy my basic necessities with. Yes, I’m poor. So I’m buying grocery with my allowance. I’m buying gas to drive to the job that makes sure they don’t give me enough hours to qualify for benefits. Yes, I’m looking for a job, but not aggressively. I mean, I’ve got all this stuff around my house to do that I’m not doing. I don’t have time to harass employers. What? Between my sleeping, moping and eating ice cream when should I look for work, huh?

So anyway, I wrote all this hoping you could relate. I wrote all this because my heart is heavy and I needed to release. I wrote all this because I’m too anxious and sad to cry.

Oh, let me not forget this… So Walmart has 15 checkout lanes, but only two or three cashiers. But here is the worst part, they have tons of self check outs but you can only use them if you are paying with a card. So I’m standing in line with my two or three items, behind eight families doing their grocery shopping for the month. Oh and another thing. One Walmart I went to a month ago outside of my area, didn’t have a single cashier. They only had self check out. There were disabled people and elderly people struggling to check their own selves out. I mean the staff was so light I asked what time they were closing. Now as a person who works retail, it’s crazy to get off work and then go work somewhere else…

See how I’m complaining… This is why I don’t talk to people. I wanted to use the self check out but I could’t because I had cash. Then I found a Walmart that only has self check out and it pissed me off. I should mention, I was doing my shopping for two weeks. So I had a lot of grocery and I had just got off work, then checked on a sick friend. All I wanted to do was have an actual cashier ring me up and bag all the stuff I purchased. On the positive side. Less hands to worry about infecting me with Covid because I don’t wash my groceries off.

Anyway, thank you for staying to the end of this long rant. My heart is still heavy but it’s a lot lighter than it was when I started this post.

I hope your family is well. I hope you are cooking really great food since you’re home anyway. I’ve been making some really good unhealthy shit. So yes, I prolly won’t get Covid, but diabetes and high blood pressure are seducing me with ice cream, microwave popcorn and dipping lobster in hot butter. I’m hungry… So I’m going to go.

Love is life. Live

Glenda The Good Witch

My favorite publisher, who shall not be named, has deserted my pedestal. Years ago, a blue-blooded white woman got a degree in creative writing. Blue blood means she came from old money. She didn’t need a “real” degree. Her parents didn’t care if she became a doctor or a painter, or did nothing at all. Her living was already made. Can you imagine, attending a college and just paying tuition? No loans or eating cups of instant hypertension. A beautiful loft in Manhattan with large floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city as you do yoga and get in touch with your chi.

Sorry, I digress. I started imagining a life where I owned my time. A life where I’d never starved or wished for things. A life where I never realized I was poor. Or that all the little foods I thought were cultural were really ends meeting.

Anyway, she opened a publishing company. She already knew other blue bloods. So naturally she had all the right connections. It wasn’t like all of us poor writers opening our own publishing companies to get into competitions that didn’t allow self-published writers. No, her publishing company had an office space in New York, staff, letterhead, a website she paid monthly without feeling the guilt of throwing money away on a dream when reality and survival demanded all of her resources.

She gave voices to Black and Latino writers. She produced their work through major distributors. Then got tons of copies out to press and larger-than-life critics. She had the resources to create audiences. Which landed complete unknowns in major bookstores. Not to mention paying them a wage for teaching their craft to other hungry writers. She sustained writers who would have abandoned their dreams for survival. She was a wild magic I didn’t know I wanted or needed.

I stalked her company’s page for opportunities. They were printing important literature, literary fiction. In a time when publishers were downsizing and choosing soft sex short reads, or trash by well-established celebrities… Her publishing company was writing to our souls’ deepest desires. This was light in an otherwise bleak writing reality. You could submit entire manuscripts without an agent or a call for submission. I thought this was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen.

I started to collect the books out of her publishing house. I followed the writers on Twitter. They were all literary gladiators. The writers were tangible, their freedom palpable.

Surviving, I didn’t have a whole book to submit. I’d already self-published. So I promised myself I’d start making time in exhaustion to write. I swore, the next manuscript I finished I’d submit. I dreamed of going back and forth to New York. I dreamed of meeting writers I’d grown to love.

Then today, I checked the submittal page. It was closed. You need a known agent now. They are not looking for new unrepresented writers. They are like Random House or any other established publisher.

They are no longer giving opportunities to nontraditional artists… Well, unless someone already established represents them and says they are amazing.

I’m salty. Hopeless. And a little inspired to dream about something else now.

Steal Away, *Stowaway

Premise: Two white women; a blonde and a redhead plus the tallest Asian man I’ve ever seen are on a mission to cultivate Mars for human life. A black man is found lost and disoriented. There is only enough oxygen/ life support for three people. The black man who must be taught how to be useful on the mission is endangering the whole crew just by breathing. Not to mention he’s been ripped away from his family and is dressed like a slave.

Listen, Iain saying Imma do it. Iain asking you to do it for real, but… Let’s just threaten to break up with Netflix for trying to play us. Gone try to hide that racist bitch in a big budget. Don’t y’all know, my ancestors left spirituals, folk and blues. Tools to make the man dance to being undermined.

A decision must be made. The Black man doesn’t even understand the gravity of their mission. To be honest, he doesn’t even know where he came from or how he got here… Sound familiar?

No one wants to die. It’s not fair, life is not fair, but what if we… just do the work and hope it all works out. Or do they kill the Black man to survive?

High Hopes

Are you trying to gain anyone’s approval? Have you ever wanted someone’s approval? If you don’t want anyone’s approval, were you always this way? If you once wanted approval and stopped wanting or seeking approval, can you share when, how, and why?

I recently realized after a huge failure, I was seeking approval, validation. Over the years I’ve battled my mental health. Sometimes I won, other years I lost. These defeats were sometimes public, always personal and gut-wrenching. I spent entire years recovering ground lost. Rebuilding people’s trust if they were open to me making amends. If I was courageous enough to ask and face their disappointment and possible rejection.

Now, older, I try to be clear about my limitations… challenges. (Also I’m actively shifting my language and my internal conversations.) I try to be open about my ability to do a lot of things. I’m always fighting this battle of being high functioning, adaptable, strategic, personable, compassionate, loyal, witty, motivated, bubbly and a workaholic…

While at the same time, having episodes where I don’t know if it’s 5am or 5pm. Where I don’t know if it’s Wednesday or Friday. Where if I’m off a lot of days, I start anxiously checking my online calendar to keep up with the days. Episodes where there are no days or nights, just moments when it’s dark out and then light. It’s crazy how evening and morning feel like the same time with different levels of noise.

In these moments, I sleep when I’m tired, eat when I’m hungry, draw and write when I’m inspired. Other times, I do little projects and teach myself things. For a moment I was learning Spanish. I’ve got to get back to those lessons, I’ve forgotten so much of what I learned. Other times I’m sewing or building furniture. Hopefully, I have a job that starts at the same time every day. This gives me a baseline and puts my body on a schedule. But if it’s a job where my hours are being constantly changed, I’m in a constant space of confusion. I try to get all mids, all mornings, or all nights but some jobs need you to swing. The way my mental health works, when my work schedule swings I swing.

Here’s the thing, when I’m on point I’m thorough. I have this great way of motivating people to do their jobs. I am excited about any project I take on because I don’t half do anything. In many cases, I’m a perfectionist. I usually improve systems and streamline things. Over the years I’ve come to understand that I understand things in cycles. This means I know everyone’s job including mine. I need to know how things affect people. Also, I like to get in good with all the different people on my path. People love me. Then, when I’m falling apart they hate me, feel betrayed and misled. Episodes have me being excessively late, forgetful and distracted (missing details). This is a huge problem because people tend to rely on me. I’m a natural leader, until I break down. Then they take my episodes as an affront.

In the last few years, I’ve started to discuss my mental illness so people are not shocked when I am less than what they expect. I feel huge amounts of guilt, beat myself up and which causes me to spiral. After I spiral I get super depressed and my anxiety goes through the roof. Which adds to my confusion. Then I can’t adapt, and I’m anchored in all my feelings. When I was younger I used to get fired. Now, I force myself out of bed and show up physically. I’m always juggling so many balls, it doesn’t take long before several fall.

In the last few years, I’ve stopped being late by being extremely early. I tell employers I’m cool with not being paid. What I don’t tell them is, I just want to show up for myself and get organized. I like to set up my day and calm my anxiety. I’m trying to keep from spiraling… But I’m on the edge sometimes, dancing and spinning on my toes.

In a world where you don’t clock in, people are weird about you coming in early, but they are fine with you staying late. Maybe I don’t have enough degrees for this to be considered a good habit. I also like coming early because then I’m ready when it’s time to leave with everyone else. Otherwise, because I’m a workaholic, I end up being in the office long after everyone else leaves… I also kind of feel guilty, because I deal with other people who have mental health challenges. Theirs’ are severe, they aren’t able to function as well as I am… people think.

I relate to them, so they trust me and tell me deeply personal things. Sometimes, I see how I could have become them. I just recently became medication compliant in the last few years. So I definitely wasn’t going to get hooked on street drugs. Me? Taking anything every day on time is hilarious. I haven’t had my meds today, and it’s 2:30 pm. I got distracted finishing this blog.

Anyway, I had this huge business idea that helped all these people. It also would give me the ability to make my own schedule. Then I could come in as early as I want. I pitched the idea to a few investors. I got funding… I thought.

I worked my butt off. I worked this horrible job, where they don’t give you enough hours so you can never get health benefits. I worked this horrible job where they sometimes text you your schedule or send you home after you show up. The job doesn’t pay jack, but I can at least pay for breathing. Plus, I had plans to do more and this wasn’t permanent.

Then the funding fell through with one investor and then another for different reasons. And for two months I have been so heartbroken all I can do is go to my crappy job and sleep. I’m already on an antidepressant and antianxiety meds. I’m frustrated. I’m exhausted. I feel like this huge disappointment.

My family is aware that I have mental health challenges. At the same time, I move to cities where I don’t know anyone and I build a family of friends. I live alone. I write. I get published. I perform. They’ve been to my performances. I win awards. I’ve driven cross-country, alone, too many times to count. My great aunts married their first boyfriends. They are still married and have been longer than I’ve been alive. My aunts, cousins all are in long term relationships and have huge families. They can’t imagine being alone.

Because I accomplish things, it’s weird when I can’t accomplish something. It’s weird when I ask for help. Also, I thought learning how to communicate how I need help would help. Like, I need to be communicated with clearly. I can’t do any kind of poetics. I’ve taught myself not to be sensitive and open to all criticism. When I’m alone I will process whether it is constructive or destructive. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten has been from people angry or trying to hurt me. Some of the worse advice and criticism I’ve gotten has been from people who love me and didn’t have the heart to tell me the truth. The truth is a gift and I want it even when it’s painful. Especially because one of my shortcomings used to be a lack of self-awareness… Now people tell me that I’m aware of myself and that I bring them into a deeper awareness of themselves.

Anyway, today, I realized why I was so upset about my business plan not having funding. It hasn’t failed. It literally can’t. There are too many ways to make money. I just have to keep pushing. I’m researching other funding options. I’m also looking into getting other investors. Back to what I was about to say… I am upset because I wanted to finally make something of myself.

I thought that this business being successful would validate me. I didn’t have any particular person in mind… well that’s not true now that I think of it. Still, over all, I wanted to make my parents proud…Well my mom. My dad loves me. He’s got pictures of some of my greatest accomplishments. He literally said, I’m not sure why every time you’re on the brink of something big things happen. For moment, I agreed. Then I remembered, hello, I have mental health issues.

The truth of the matter is, I sometimes don’t understand why I can do 100 extraordinary things and not two are three basic things. In the last two years, I’ve started to love myself more fully and make allowances for my shortcomings. I hire people to handle the things I struggle to complete. It worked out beautifully.

After all these years of beating myself up, I realized tearing myself down wasn’t helping. I also realized loving one’s self doesn’t mean, loving the great you. It means loving the lost you, the confused you and the discouraged you. It means creating ways to bring yourself back to peace. It means creating a path to WELL BEING.

Still, I’m here. Struggling. Angry that I didn’t have a different life. That I don’t have savings. That I don’t know anyone who could lend me 20K. Well, actually I do, but she lent it to another friend who started their business in 2019.

I’m here, beating myself up because I wanted to prove to all the people who disregarded me, that I’m worthy of love. While, I am abandoning my own self and thinking I am not worthy of love. For some reason, I still believe love needs to be earned. For some reason, I still think love is only for others because I haven’t… I don’t deserve love. And, when people treat me like I’m a nutcase it feels like condescension. On the other hand, when they treat me like I don’t have any issues, I feel like a nutcase pretending something is wrong. I’m so capable it feels like pretending when I can’t make myself.

Now, when my psychiatrist asks how I’m doing, I always say “fine, but frustrated.” I don’t tell him I hate my life. I don’t explain how anyone in my shoes would be depressed. I don’t tell him adjusting my dose isn’t going to change my life. Because the truth is, a pill has allowed me to see life with a different perspective. My anxiety meds allowed me to sleep after I hadn’t for years. I didn’t even realize I hadn’t been resting when I slept.

Before I felt like I couldn’t change my life, now I’m noticing all the barriers to me changing, but I don’t feel it’s impossible… even though it feels this way often. I want my life to look different and feel better. At the same time, I can’t figure out how to do it. I think I’m spiraling. I’m hoping rock bottom is salvation for me the way it is for addicts. I hope there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

Mercy Mercy Meeeee

 

Years ago, a client called saying he was terrified of his children. He believed they were planning to kill him. He described them as monsters and noted they were gritting their teeth at him… You could hear them laughing and playing in the background.

At the time, he was at home alone with his four children, all under 8 years old. He had a rare history of violent episodes. Usually with other adults. It was immediately decided, not to call the police because he’s a 6’5 dark-skinned muscular black man. Instead, a therapist played along with his delusion, convinced him to lock himself in a bedroom, as someone was on the way to “save him.” Meanwhile, every case manager on our team was literally rushing to his house.

I can’t remember if he had been off his meds. Or if something triggered the mental breakdown. To be clear, people without mental health challenges experience episodes. For instance, people with no history of mental health issues are struggling with this pandemic. Let me also point out, some people still have mental health crises on meds which is why all people with mental illness should be checking with a psychiatrist every three months at the least. Not to mention, eating grapefruits or drinking a little grapefruit juice each morning can reduce or completely stop your meds from working. Grapefruit is a powerful fruit. I digress.

I’m sharing all this to show how a mental health episode could make someone a stranger. On a normal day, this man is a dedicated father. He works two jobs and picks up odd jobs to take care of his children. He often has all his children with him. Naturally, he’s a very compassionate, funny, friendly, wise, protective, and helpful person. I’d even say he’s handsome and charming. He didn’t have his first serious mental breakdown until his late 20’s. At the time of this episode, he was in his late 30’s.

On top of taking care of his kids, working long hours, he was always helping somebody move, or fixing someone’s car for free. He loves his children. He loves people. He is an important part of the black community.

I’m sharing all this, because people are saying it is ableist to dismiss Kanye’s behavior because he’s always anti-black… Him wanting only light-skinned and mixed women in his videos, definitely colorism, which is just a euphemism for self-hate or internalized racism. That’s a separate issue that all black people in America are on some level struggling to overcome.

Him screaming and crying on the “campaign trail” and saying, “Harriet Tubman didn’t free the slaves.” That’s “my children are monsters and I have a knife talk.” Oh, earlier I forgot to mention my client had a butcher’s knife and was threatening to kill his own children. The children he loved and worked himself to exhaustion for. So when Kanye screamed about his father wanting to kill him as his reason for changing his stance on abortion. Then became too choked up to speak I couldn’t believe the media was recording this… much less reporting this as news. West admitted his wife might divorce him because of his behavior… Does he hate her? Everyone? Does he hate himself?

One year (I’m not going to stop my train of thought to research it), I think 2018? There was a mass shooting almost every day in the U.S. It was so bad, other countries issued warnings advising their citizens not to visit America. 98% of those shooters were white men. I didn’t hear about it every day. I didn’t hear white men being condemned. I never saw daily reports about white men killing literal strangers. White men had to successfully kill large numbers to get a mention.

Meanwhile, I was getting black on black crime reports and statistics. Actually, white on white crime is almost identical statistically as black on black crime. At the same time, white people actually kill more white people than black people kill black people. In fact, white people kill more of everyone when you include mass shootings. Still, no one is asking why white people won’t stop killing each other and everyone else.

At the same time, elementary through college started doing school shooter drills. White men started to talk about their mental health and feeling oppressed. Then America started to talk about the mental health crisis.

We (black people) say, that black people need to be treated with more humanity. While we as black people are the first to ignore each other’s humanity. We are the first to take other black people to task. We have to lead in loving us. We have to lead in being compassionate to us.

Kanye’s “campaign speech” literally broke my heart. I saw the press filming his mental break down like I would if they filmed him having a seizure… It felt like another indignity. Reading all the drags break my heart. Some folks are saying it’s ableist to dismiss his comments. I’d argue it is compassionate, empathetic and human.

I think that being an artist and being bipolar he may be open to evaluating systems, rules and ideas many people are afraid to examine. Give him a mic during an episode and he could be self-hating, anti-black, personally destructive and a financial liability.

I am overwhelmed at times with oppression. I hate the way it has shaped my family’s reality. I hate that I know people who hate their own dark skin, their own nappy hair. WTF is shrinkage? Your hair didn’t shrink. It’s nappy!!! Any black person who says they haven’t taken a white measurement to themselves or someone else is lying.

I’ve definitely felt frustrated about having the same conversations black people in America have been having since the 1500’s: equality, access, respect and freedom.

I’m frustrated by black classism. I’m tired of bougie black people talking over working people’s heads with the micro and macro of racism. I’m frustrated by questioning if black men are actually being lynched or killing themselves in my lifetime. I’m frustrated by Breonna Taylor’s murderers not even being considered for charges by a black district attorney. I’m frustrated by people saying don’t play the victim when we are literally being killed by the police in our beds. I’m frustrated by people saying racism is over.

I’m frustrated by black people saying ignorant shit like, “why doesn’t BLM care about gang violence and black on black crime?” I’m tired of the most critical people being the mofos who aren’t doing shit. And you know how we know you aren’t doing shit? Because you would know BLM cares about ALL people, ALL black people and values their allies. But again, you’d have to get off the internet and actually go to a BLM action to find this out. I’m tired of people who aren’t doing shit waiting for someone else to speak for them, to save someone else or them.

If you are black and want to reach out to gangs, get your ass off the fucking internet tearing down folk doing the work. BLM is ALL of us. But a few of us can’t do it all. BLM’s agenda is our agenda. If you want to center a specific concern: gang violence, community clean up, black unemployment, farming, food or medicine deserts… Put a program together and let’s go!

My grandmother, aunts and uncles participated in the Civil Rights Movement. My mother went to segregated schools. Oh and while we’re on this, I’m tired of white people not knowing basic American history. Post slave law, The Black Codes AKA Jim Crow didn’t end until 1965. Post slave law has only been over 55 years. Black colleges are where black people were forced to attend because of segregation. Black colleges are historically black because of white laws. Black colleges were not exclusive to black people they were including black students in education. White people have always been welcome in our spaces. I said all that to say, I’m tired of white people saying “what if we had white colleges wouldn’t that be racist?” Um Harvard, Princeton, West Point and any college bragging that it was established before 1965… Even after the Civil Rights Acts, some Universities still didn’t admit black students. And yeah, whit colleges are totally racist.

I’m tired of reading posts about black people being in a constant state of victimhood… A law of attraction person I unfollowed said black people are suffering because they think about being victims. Meanwhile, we are literally dreading teaching our children how to survive traffic stops. Or the first time they become aware they are being excluded or mistreated because of their skin. Statistics say we earn less, are promoted less but are also evaluated more harshly.

Last year, the Federal government voted we could wear our natural hair in corporate settings? Black journalist wearing their hair the way it grows out of their scalp are considered unprofessional, radical and revolutionary. As a result, it limits their career growth. Some of us black women have been straightening our hair so long we don’t even know how to deal with our natural texture. Black women are putting perms on 3-year-olds. We’re literally thinking about our proximity to whiteness even when we aren’t thinking about our proximity to whiteness.

I know older black beauticians who have no idea how to deal with actual black hair and are not trying to learn. They are still perming hair which research says causes cancer, fibroids and birth defects just so that black women can be barely accepted in mainstream society. Some random white person on Twitter looked at my profile picture and teased me for having locs. He said my loc updo looked like a pile of shit on my head during a debate about whether racism is real or a figment of my imagination. Then he compared him getting a haircut and shaving to me endangering my health by straightening my hair to be “appropriate” for work.

Speaking of locs. Locs, loctician, colorism and too many words shaping my life are not in the dictionary. I can’t find a black shampoo that doesn’t have detangler (small amounts of perm/ straighteners) in it.

My mother and all her siblings attended segregated (black) schools because they were excluded. My grandmother participated in the Civil Rights movement. This means, some of your white grandparents hung black people, terrorized black people, burned churches. Some of your grandparents attended lynchings, have postcards of lynchings and still say racism is imagined.

I’m tired of white people slipping up and saying the N-word. I’m tired of feeling like I slipped because I said he N-word. I’m tired of black people telling me they don’t like or use the N-word. We are the only culture of people who can’t have anything to ourselves… Other races have slang terms they exclusively use. We are the most inclusive race on earth. A black judge hugged a white woman police officer who killed a black man eating ice cream in his own apartment.

I’m tired of Black Americans acting like we don’t have our own foods, poetry, music, literature, dances and culture. I’m tired of us acting like every other culture of black people is better. I’m tired of explaining I intentionally speak chop because I love how we Blacks talk when we are alone with each other. I love it so much I want to wrap myself in our language. I love it so much I risk being accused of cooning when I use the words I heard on my grandmothers’ laps. I repeat how I said a thing wrong that made you laugh… Same way my Italian, Mexican and Columbian friends quote their elders’ broken English. We all speak the King’s English when we’re not home. I’m trying to be at home in myself which means everywhere.

Most black people don’t know about their own spirit guides, ancestors and inherit power. I am just now starting to learn mine.

We Black people are reared in anti-blackness. I’ve said, felt and done some anti-black things in my right mind. For instance, years ago I was telling Mina, this beautiful loc’d elder, admiring my hair that I twist my locs often because I need to see my scalp, I don’t like my hair nappy. Then she told me ever so gentle and lovingly, “You black, it’s spose to be nappy.” I mean, I brought European beauty standards to locs, do you hear me!!!! My edges USE TO stay laaaaaidddddd. This unlearning of self-hatred is a process… I was hating myself thinking I was loving myself.

This passion, frustration, soul hurt, fear, hopelessness, power, determination, freedom, hope, courage, curiosity, need to be all spirit not what is projected on my flesh, this need to feel loved, wanted, connected and necessary might get distorted if I’m mentally ill with a mic and an audience. Especially when the media editing and shaping my narrative is the same media that put Trayvon Martin on trial for his own murder. The media who went silent on mass shootings happening daily committed by white men all over the U.S. So, I hope, my own people will give me the same compassion white people give their mass shooters.

 
Breonna Taylor Art

Breonna Taylor’s Family Paid 12 Million

Before I get into this, I want to say I respect the Taylors finally having peace and closure. Losing a loved one is already difficult. Then for the Taylor’s to learn Breonna was executed by people who sworn to protect her is a whole other kind devastation. Not to mention, how the publicist for the Louisville, Kentucky Police Department (LMPD) slandered Breonna Taylor painting her as a drug trafficker. To validate her murderers, cover up their actions and diminish her light.

The Taylor family didn’t deserve any of this. Usually, victims of violent crimes are provided with resources and an advocate to assist the family with loss. Instead, the Taylor family was forced to fight while mourning. Most important, Breonna Taylor was an innocent public servant who should not have been shot eight times. I am grateful the Taylor family has reached a resolution that gives them peace.

Now that I’ve said all of that, none of the Louisville Metro Police Department’s (LMPD) lies have been addressed in this resolution. Taking accountability for shooting Breonna Taylor EIGHT times as she slept sick in her own bed, means not just apologizing but listing what LMPD actually did wrong. It means LMPD releasing all the information to the public, including releasing the coroner report. Even the coroner was in on the cover-up.

First, Breonna Taylor was murdered, while suffering from COVID-19 as a result of being an essential public service worker. After breaking into her and Kenneth Walker’s home, LMPD arrested and charged Walker with her murder and the attempted murder of a police officer.

LMPD took this action, even though Kenneth Walker called 911 terrified of a home invasion, and screaming he was in imminent danger. Walker was still on the phone with 911, at 12:43 am, when police literally broke down their door and began shooting into the apartment. One officer shot blindly through a window in the back of the house. Leading Walker to believe he was being ambushed.

Let me highlight it was 12:40 AM, in the morning, when Taylor and Walker were both sleep like most people at that time. Let me also mention, some bullets went through the walls of neighboring homes. The LMPD could have killed their neighbors, too. Breonna Taylor Art

Then a whole other department of LMPD who handles the press slandered Taylor and Walker. Making it appear Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker was a drug dealer, who they were searching for based on information they gathered from the US postal service. Noting, Taylor had received packages of drugs for Walker. Certifying how and why Taylor became a person of interest who they believed was harboring a fugitive.

In real life, where facts are taken into account, Kenneth Walker was not a drug dealer. Kenneth Walker was not even the man the police were hunting. Kenneth Walker was a law-abiding citizen who owned a home in a neighborhood the city was trying to gentrify. Kenneth Walker was a legally registered gun owner. More importantly, the actual person Jamarcus Glover, they were stalking, was IN POLICE CUSTODY when they executed the warrant.

Let me also note, different narratives were being reported by LMPD’s publicity department. One, that they were hunting Kenneth Walker, Breonna’s current partner who they believed Breonna Taylor was harboring. The problem with this narrative is, Kenneth Walker actually owned the home. If she was in fact helping an alleged drug dealer, it would mean she was hiding her ex-boyfriend in her new boyfriend’s home. Yep… Sounds stupid to me too.

When in fact LMPD knew they had Jamarcus Glover, an alleged drug dealer, who they were claiming to hunt in custody when they served the NO KNOCK warrant. On top of this, plainclothes LPMD officers claim they identified themselves at 12:40 am before breaking the door down, to serve a NO KNOCK warrant whose very nature is to surprise drug dealers and get to the evidence before it can be destroyed.

Multiple neighbors interviewed said they never heard the LMPD identify themselves. Why would LMPD identify themselves on a NO KNOCK warrant? They wouldn’t. Why did their publicity department lie? Because  No Knock warrants are only legal on drug houses.

Actually, LMPD raided Kenneth Walker’s home because there was a project to gentrify the neighborhood but Walker would not sell his home. As a result, LMPD began harassing Kenneth Walker in the months before this fatal incident in an attempt to force him out of his residence.

Facts: The LMPD never found any drugs during their subsequent search. More importantly, they falsified documents to get a judge’s signature on their No Knock warrant. An LMPD detective claimed the postmaster informed him Taylor was receiving drugs through the mail for Jamarcus Glover. Again, this means, Breonna Taylor was getting mail for a man she dated years ago at the home of her boyfriend Kenneth Walker.

Meanwhile, The U.S. Postal service released their own results of an internal investigation. Noting, Breonna Taylor never received any mail in the name of Jamarucs Glover. Nor had they reported any suspicious mail to the police for Kenneth Walker’s address. Furthermore, when LMPD’s narcotics department requested an investigation of the address they were also informed Breonna Taylor hadn’t received any packages for Jamarcus Glover. Now, the narcotics detective who claimed he was informed by the postmaster has been suspended as LMPD investigates ITS OWN SELF and determines how LMPD obtained the No Knock warrant.

Third, Kenneth Walker is a whole different person from the person they were “trying” to apprehend, remember they knew Jamarcus Glover was in custody when they raided Taylor’s home. Still, LMPD arrested a devastated Kenneth Walker, charged him with the murder of his own girlfriend, and the attempted murder of a police officer. Then held him in jail after violating his rights and this trauma. They held him in jail until his home could be sold to the organization gentrifying his neighborhood for 17K.

On top of all of this, Breonna Taylor’s murder was not even listed on the official police report. Under injuries, LMPD marked none. LMPD also marked there was no forced entry. The police officers also chose not to wear their issued body cameras. All these factors suggest widespread unchecked corruption as standard operating procedures. Which should immediately require an investigation of all Louisville, Kentucky Police Department’s incident reports and actions by the Department of Justice.

IDGAF if this is the biggest settlement paid by police in the United States for the murder of a Black woman if the state will continue murdering unarmed Black people to gentrify our neighborhoods. Then falsify official reports, turning a blind eye to executions making death squads standard operating procedure and state-sanctioned execution legal.

There still needs to be a thorough investigation of ALL LMPD’s police reports and records. The Breonna Taylor law is less than a nod in Vibe magazine because LMPD’s death squad doesn’t follow the laws in the first fucking place.

Again, what is also not being discussed, is that Kenneth Walker’s home was keeping the city from getting all the property in the same neighborhood. The police harassed Kenneth Walker, arrested him, and held him in jail until his property could be purchased by a developer for 17K. Will Kenneth Walker also be getting a settlement?

The LMPD used the fact that Breonna Taylor dated Jamarcus Glover two years ago, to remove Kenneth Walker from his home. Breonna Taylor was a casualty of a different war. Not a drug war, but a property war. The state used its power to gentrify Kenneth Walker’s neighborhood.

Breonna Taylor was an aspiring nurse. She worked at two hospitals as an EMT and was exposed to Covid 19 multiple times. In fact, Breonna Taylor was home sick from Covid 19 when she was executed in an illegal raid. Breonna Taylor dedicated her whole life to service.

Say her name.

STOP KILLING US!

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Follow Up Links On Breonna Taylor

Lights and Tunnels

Sometimes, the light is a warning something is coming. You have options. You’re not really in danger if you can get off the tracks. Right? But the tunnel is tight. You didn’t die, but the humidity, anxiety and heat almost suffocated you. The sparks from the tracks stung all your exposed skin, some left permanent scars. Now the fear that you would never make it out of that tunnel alive, or that the train cars would not stop coming is a reoccurring nightmare.

But so what. You survived. People tell you how lucky you are. When you try to articulate your fears, they lecture you about being grateful. They remind you so many people didn’t wake up. Eventually, you’re ashamed to share your struggles. So when you’re triggered by lightning, a flashlight searching a dark room or trying to focus on the big picture like you did to survive, you wish for a different ending. Sometimes you dream you let go of the wall, kissed the train. Then she’d grabbed your face, pull your lips to her and embraced your neck. The snap is drowned out by the horns and the weight of the iron wheels rolling over heavy over the tracks. As she drags you along unaware of your fragility, to become pieces.

Physically you’re all in one piece. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually you’re in pieces. Sometimes, you curse yourself for walking in that tunnel and surrendering to your curiosity. Other times, it’s like it never happened.

I’m trying to find the words to come out again. This is not about sex, sexuality, or even gender. Been having those conversations a lot lately. Mostly, because I accept I don’t know or understand everything. Imma die not knowing some things… I’ve definitely had to ask questions. Really ridiculous uninformed questions… So I’ve been answering people’s questions about my own orientation and whatever I know about the LGBTQIA community. The other day my cousin and I agreed to disagree. He insists I’m choosing to date women. Yet, he would never answer if the close-ended question of whether he’d ever thought about making sweet love to a man but chose not to do it. He also insists all women are bisexual, which is why being a lesbian is the most acceptable choice.

I digress… Or better yet, I tangent.

I struggle with mental illness. I have my entire life. Today is one of the first days in my life that I’m feeling clear. Clarity is definitely a gift. I remember elders testifying in church, thanking God for being in their right mind.

I never knew I was out of my mind. I went to work. I had friends. I lived alone. I wrote. I painted. I loved. I created a family of my own with friends. But I never could finish college. There were things I just couldn’t quite grasp… I told myself I lacked discipline. I told myself I wasn’t smart that’s why I didn’t do well in math… Turns out, I have some weird dyslexia when it comes to numbers… When I’m taught with this taken into consideration, I’m actually amazing at math.

But I didn’t know I wasn’t in my right mind. I made a lot of really bad choices in the wrong mind. I told myself I’d put my girlfriend through school because I wasn’t college material. After she came out and was disowned, she dropped out too. (She recently graduated like 15 years later.)

I worked. Sometimes three jobs. Once I worked so much, I even slept on the clock. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been suicidal. I’ve even been institutionalized in a mental health facility, a few times. But no one treated me changed their view of me. They still had the same expectations they’d had before. No one offered to help. I didn’t realize I was in the wrong mind, so I didn’t know I needed help. So I felt like a failure.

I wanted to die. Not in the traditional sense. I didn’t want to blow my brains out. I just wanted to disappear. I wanted to not hurt anymore. Suffering had become a way of life. I wanted children, marriage, a house and to be excited about the holidays… But I couldn’t sustain relationships, though I’m loyal to a fault. I have friends forever. I keep all these people I meet in life connected. I’m the link… Disconnected from myself.

Then you add on having a church in the family, being an out lesbian and just living being seen as having no shame… Or being who you feel you innately are as disrespecting God.

I used to ask God, why he allowed me to be born. I use to ask if he got some kind of thrill out of torturing people. I asked why he gave me so many challenges to face… God never answered but friends said it was because I was strong. Also, there is this saying, God never gives you more than you can handle. But people die, so I beg to differ.

I sometimes would joke and ask God, why couldn’t I be a gay white man. Or why couldn’t I be naturally slim. Or why couldn’t I have a supportive family that wasn’t riddled with addiction, abuse, denial and mental illness. I use to ask God, for new parents. I use to ask God why I couldn’t have been born rich. I used to ask God to save me. But God left me to my own devices.

Oh, and I’m all over the place, like this blog… But I’m allowing myself to ramble a bit. It could literally be worse. Words ignite thoughts and send me on mental tours. I’ve got an extensive vocabulary. This could be a canvas. I’ve allowed a few tangents to express how my mental illness works, or keeps me from working. At the same time, I’m medicated enough not to get lost in examples.

I also wanted you to see what it feels like when, you’re lost and don’t even know to pull over and get directions. You don’t know where you’re going. You’re just content to exist. Then you’re surrounded by people who either are choosing ignorance, pretending or unaware something is wrong. You feel even crazier, when you know something is off but everyone else is acting like business as usual.

I’m not sure if it is a poverty thing. I didn’t realize I was poor until I was in my mid 30’s. I didn’t realize I had behaviors that created a cycle of poverty. I started college, so I knew about the macro and micro of society but… Doesn’t matter. Once I figured out I was poor, I’d had enough college to comprehend how poverty had shaped my life. More importantly, how life was further impacted by my mental health challenges.

Now, after being in a relationship with someone who always had enough and at times too much I get how people who have never lived in poverty don’t understand it. They have different habits. They don’t understand a poor person buying expensive wants and suffering for their needs. They don’t understand that when you’ve lived your whole life in survival mode, having something tangible, shiny and expensive will keep you from eating a gun or walking in front of a train. You’re not throwing your life away, you’re actually making it bearable to live… Live. Living.

“Living” is such a subjective word. Yes, I am alive, but I don’t know that I’ve ever lived. I’m always worried. I have anxiety. I have so many things that need to be taken care of… But I’m in survival mode, so I fix what’s broken. I’m always fixing. I’m so exasperated from fixing what’s broken, I don’t have energy to do maintenance. Mental health to the Black community is maintenance.

If Jr. goes to work and brings his check home. It doesn’t matter that he’ll give his money to any woman who is nice to him. As long as he keeps going to work. As long as Jr. is harmless. As long as Jr. doesn’t hit, says “please” and “thank you,” believes Jesus is his lord and savior… and cuts the grass like clock work, it doesn’t matter that he mumbles rather than strings recognizable words together. Doesn’t matter that he sits silent at all family gatherings staring blankly and then laughing without reason.

That’s just Jr. He’s always been quiet. He’s always been shy. When his wife packs his lunch, directs him to catch the bus two hours each way on top of a 10-hour shift, while she stays home with a perfectly good car in the driveway. People say she isn’t fair to Jr. People say they don’t like Jr.’s wife. But no one talks assumes he’s got some mental health challenges.

Jr. is a man. He doesn’t know what the definition or expectations of being a man is. Being a man, or being “the man” and then there is “THE MAN” which all keeps changing depending. But Jr. is agreeable. All the elders in his life have beaten him for anything they didn’t understand. They’ve broken his spirit. In some ways, they believe they’ve cured him. He’s like a robot. He goes where he is told and does exactly what he is instructed. He never complains, because he use to get beat for mumbling under his breath. If he hears voices he knows better than to talk back to them.

As a result, Jr. has no standards for how he should be treated and no real pride to speak of. He loves anyone who acknowledges his hard work. He has internalized all the horrible insults heard over his life. He knows something is wrong with him, but he doesn’t know how to fix it. He doesn’t know if he can be fixed. No one really hits him anymore, but his wife, but getting hit is normal.

He’s learned to just do what he’s told and smile. He’s been taught to be none threatening, so he’s afraid to ask questions… And the few people he feels safe enough to ask don’t understand shit he says, they just tell him things several times slow. Then watch what he does to see if he understood them. But that’s just Jr. He gone always be Jr.

I am high functioning. I’ve had a thousand jobs. Like literally, I know something about everything. I’ve had so many jobs, I can’t even remember all the places I’ve worked. I’ve started a few businesses in my life. One did well. But I was afraid when money started coming easy. Then I didn’t know I had anxiety, PTSD and that I was depressed. Also, until recently, I thought depression looked like crying. I thought depression looked like suicidal ideation and possibly making plans.

I’ve always identified as an introvert. I really connect with people one on one. I like house parties not clubs. I like spending time with one friend at a time. I feel like I’m getting ready to have a major surgery when people I live are coming to visit. Then after they get there everything is fine. I know everything always works out. I love hosting, but I’m still afraid.

I start accommodating myself and explaining to loved ones, I can’t answer the phone… The ringer is off. I tell them I’m working on a project. I am, I love creating… But really, the sound of the phone ringing terrifies me. Sometimes I don’t have the energy to speak. Sometimes all I have in me is to get up and get dressed for work. Sometimes if I have a bad day at work it’s hard to come back. When I was young, I’d just go find another job instead of going back.

I mean, we say life is not fair. But I didn’t understand that companies create rules that none of their employees follow. This felt like chaos. Being teased for following some step. Oh, I’ve also got ADHD. So, I go out of my way to follow directions, pay attention to details and repeat back what I’m told. I’ve been surprised by my own carelessness, so by the time I’m 25, managers immediately trust me. I work hard at jobs with no career prospects. Careers and jobs are two different things. But when you’re poor everyone just has a job. Some jobs are better. Some people are just lucky. It doesn’t occur, I could do things to get a better job… You just work. Some of us aren’t college material.

I got my first job at 13 or 14, working for a summer camp. I was only allowed to work 30 hours a week. As soon as I started working, I offered but was maybe expected to buy my own school clothes every year. So every summer I worked. Until, I was old enough to work while in school. Then paid for my own lunches, clothes and any extracurricular activities.

Having money and a bank account felt like freedom. I was 15 with a boyfriend and no curfew. No one talk to me about savings or goals. Work, earn, spend. Do you know how many CD’s I got from Columbia House? I actually paid them. I had the best music collection of any teen I knew.

My parents were struggling to pay for things. They both had gambling problems. My dad was, is… a functioning alcoholic. At one point he was on even heavier drugs. I was homeless before I graduated from high school three times. I graduated from high school homeless. Once my dad tried to kill my mom but she got away… After a few months they were cool. I never was the same.

Before I was in high school, my mom’s credit was shot, so she started using mine. I had cable bills and utilities in my name. I didn’t know, I didn’t check the mail. I didn’t read the mail. Even when I had a pen pal my mom would give me those letters after sorting through the mail.

I cried a lot. I was lonely. My parents were always gone. I didn’t know where or when they were coming home. I survived on Ramen noodles, koolaid, crackers and plums. My dad worked long shifts. He never worked less than 11 hours. Usually he worked 16. Then when he got off he went gambling. For the few hours he was home he was sleep.

My mom worked, shopped, hung out with her friends and gambled. Then she returned to college. Then she went to school full time, worked full time, had group meetings with her classmates, and homework. I’d go days without seeing either of my parents.

No one talk to me about college prep. No one talk to me about not making sense or talking too much. Maybe they didn’t know I was not in my right mind because I was raised to be invisible. Black elders would say, “Children are to be seen and not heard.” Well in my house, I was to be invisible too. I was treated as a burden. My parents loved me but that didn’t mean I wasn’t a huge inconvenience. I always needed something.

Soooo, sometimes, I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. When I took all the pills in the medicine cabinet I wasn’t actually trying to kill myself. I was trying to disappear for real. I hadn’t thought about death. I was tired.

I didn’t have any family where we’d moved. Being Black in Las Vegas wasn’t as bad as being Black in maybe St. Louis. At the same time, it wasn’t celebrated. The teachers and students were not seeing me despite being Black. In fact, I didn’t see color and was often rudely reminded I was different. I got crash courses in racism. I was afraid to tell my parents because I was supposed to be invisible. I didn’t hide anything from them really, they just didn’t want to see me.

I always cringe when someone asks how many siblings I have, because as soon answer, “none.” They tell me how I must be spoiled. Maybe I was, I didn’t know I was poor until I was in my 30’s. Maybe what tangible things I valued were provided. I liked writing, so I always had a lot of journals and paper. I liked painting and drawing, so I had tons of art supplies. I liked to read, I had a lot of magazines…

At the end of the day, I was institutionalized. For months, I was held against my will in a hospital. No one ever gave me meds. People talked to me, talked at me but I didn’t feel heard or seen. In a mental health group, when I was like 15, I was discussing things I needed. When a white kid who’d shaved her head pointed out that I had on name brand shoes, so my suffering couldn’t be real. Maybe she’d never heard of the swap meet, where knockoffs were sold. I’ve never been a name brand fan… Or materialistic. But she silenced and humiliated me and I disappeared from there too. I started to go where I needed to and do what I needed to get out.

I stopped worrying about healing or fixing or even addressing anything might be wrong. I just wanted to get home. Being treated like I was spoiled or worthless after I’d tried to kill myself didn’t help. Now I realize there were no other black kids there. Maybe, they didn’t think I deserved help. Maybe they thought I should be use to being invisible. I don’t know.

One year, I got perfect attendance, because staying home was boring. I liked school. I liked going to lunch with my friends. I liked learning things and debating the things we learned. I loved writing. I always had some kind of special writing class.

I didn’t have to ask my parents to ditch, I could just stay home. Don’t get it twisted, they had expectations. I couldn’t fail a class. I couldn’t bring home anything less than a C. Teachers couldn’t call the house and say I misbehaved. Other than that, there weren’t any expectations.

Throughout school, I was monitored for being Black. I didn’t know what racism was, so I definitely couldn’t explain when I was experiencing it. When I was in elementary, I think I was one of two black children in the whole school. I ate alone, played alone, sat outside the classroom or in a corner when in the classroom. All of my accomplishments were challenged. My parents didn’t believe anything I said. For years, I didn’t know what the fuck was going on. I couldn’t understand why some kids weren’t allowed to play with me or why some teachers hated me at first sight. I kept trying to get it right. Then one day, I realized there wasn’t anything I could do, there was something wrong with me.

I remember running away in sixth grade because a teacher kept picking at me. She made tons of assumptions about who I was which at that age I didn’t know had anything to do with race. I knew my parents wouldn’t believe me over any adult.

I slept in the closet of a few of my friends for three days. Until they got scared my parents might find out… And they’d be in trouble too.

When I finally went home, it was one of the worse beatings of my life. Now that I think about it, it might have been the worst. On this rare occasion, my parents took turns beating me. Usually if one whup’d me, that was enough for the other.

The last time I got a team beating, I was like three. I put “The Muppets Go To Manhattan” in the VCR… the wrong way and it got stuck. VCR’s were a big thing in the 80s. They beat me so many times… I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to touch it. I could make my own food. I could get my own snacks. I could be left at home alone with instructions not to ever answer the door. Meh. The life of a Black kid, sometimes you get beat.

Back to sixth grade. Some of this beating was for the story the teacher told. Racist know what to say. They also depend on kids not being able to articulate what happened. She’d been basically singling me out.

It was a gym class, and the way they punished you was to make you walk around the field while the other kids played. I know how to be invisible. I was raised to be invisible. So when she directed me to start walking, and I was too lost in my own world… to know why I was being punished. So I did as instructed.

I daydreamed a lot. I imaged being saved, welcomed and valued. Other times I became my favorite heroes. Sometimes I dreamed of leading a singing group or being on “A Different World.” I could disappear from anywhere in plain sight.

After I started walking, I thought about how I ended up walking in the first place. I evaluated my behavior. I was being quiet. I was staring at the ground like other kids, pretending to listen. I didn’t have anyting in my hands. No one was playing in my hair… I couldn’t figure out why she was always talking to me about something, so when I got to where the gate opened, I walked off the field and to the principal’s office. I was tired of being humiliated.

Then, I didn’t have the words to explain what I’d been going through. I just knew that it wasn’t fair.

After that beating, I completely disappeared. I was not a great student, I got by. I did my homework. I loved going to the school library… I disappeared in books. Maybe my parents didn’t know anything was wrong. Maybe they were proud they’d succeeded in raising a “good” kid by Black standards.

It’s late. I don’t think I’m manic, but I feel better than I have in years. I don’t know if I ever felt good. But, thank you all for reading this rambling blog. Let me note, Black is the name of a culture in America, while “black” is a race shared by many people of African descent. Also, I’m not sure if I did it a lot here, but I like to speak chop. It’s a language my grandmother spoke, my community spoke and I think it is beautiful. I think it is part of Black culture.

I wrote this as a stream of consciousness… I didn’t edit… I know… That’s some lazy shit. I’m just so excited I’m finally able to write… It’s like I got my magic back and I wanted to see if the wand worked. I’ve been lost so long.

Coming out, discussing my mental health challenges is a process… I couldn’t do it in one blog. It needed to put it in context, for self.

I plan to stay on my meds. Maybe I’ll come back and finish this process. I don’t know. Feels like home being here.

Love and Light

8/13/20 Thursday Free-write

This morning. My. I. Spirit? Soul? Some part of me. That rescues me. Assured me they’d always been here. That they knew and fully understood, my pain. My fears. 


They said to watch the way I treated myself was their greatest suffering. Our greatest suffering.


I think. Feel myself asked itself if it could have me. If it could protect me. If it could love and nurture me.Just the thought that I’d been alive all these years and not belonged to myself overwhelmed me. 

Guilty. Reared for suffering and self-abandonment. I was unworthy. To see or be within myself.


I cried at the possibility of healing. I cried afraid of detaching from a half self. I cried, feeling, tangible, other, object, reaching at the possibility of being whole. I cried afraid to leave the path of seeking, outside self. Not needing. I cried at the idea of saving one’s own self. I cried at the invitation to enter, myself. Center myself. 


I cried that I had such patience and restraint. I cried guilty. Then hushed myself with forgiveness, compassion and a new empathy. I cried disbelieving and grateful.


Just say, yes. I implored. Refusing to coerce or manipulate. I wanted her consent. I wanted her willingly. I didn’t want to leave room for doubt to creep in this new relationship. 


I promised to love her. I promised to protect her. Then I asked sincerely, if I could enter her and make her mine. 


Knowing, where we were going is the longest journey she will ever know. 
Here. 

 
 
 

Covid-19 Las Vegas, NV DMV

Today is my birthday, and you know when my driver’s license expires? On my birthday. So today, I got up at around 5:30 am to be at the DMV by 6:30, even though the DMV opens at 8. Why? A friend warned me, everyone is anxious about their tags and licenses, there are tons of people there. They start lining up at about 6:30 am. More importantly, if you’re not there by 6:30 there is no point in going to the DMV.

Before you go all crazy on me, remember, all government buildings were closed for months. As soon as I learned the DMV was open, I went online to set an appointment. Oh, that’s another thing, our DMV only see’s people by appointment Monday through Friday. Well their next appointment wasn’t until October. I guess as soon as people learned they were open they started booking. I checked with different DMV’s and finally got one in September. But my license expires August 1st, I wrote in the comments of the appointment.

As soon as I turn the corner where the DMV is, there are people with tailgate chairs, coolers, umbrellas, sun hats and shades. It’s like a day at the beach without an ocean. The street overlooks the DMV parking lot. When I turn in you can see people in lines wound through parked cars. The lady almost at the back of the line tells us she’s been there since 5:30 am.

After I park and join the line, police officers walk the lines answer questions. One police officer informs us, the first person in line arrived at 7:30 pm last night. Followed by several other people who brought tents and camped out. They also inform us there is a possibility we won’t be seen. From the lady who arrived at 5:30 am on back.

Oh, I forgot to mention. For some reason, now that they’ve been closed for three months they thought it would be a great time to shorten their weekend hours. They use to be open from 8-5pm maybe even 6 on Saturdays. Now, they close at 12pm.

When the line finally starts moving it moves fast a first. They let several people in. I never see groups of people come out. At around 10 I notice a few open parking spots.

Long story short, I waited for five hours in 112 degree weather from 6:30 am to 12pm, just to be told we wouldn’t be seen. They close the door at 12 and anyone in line who hasn’t made it in the building by then is not seen. I mean I made it from all the way down the street on the lot of a community college to maybe fifteen people away. Then the door slammed. I man kicked a sign and said they should just help us.

The line kept going down because people were getting discouraged. I actually walked down to see how far I was from the front door at 11:15 am. I thought it didn’t look good. They were on 169, they give out 200 numbers. They were already saying some people with numbers may not seen.

Still, I have this policy about not telling myself no. I mean I’d already been out there 4 hours. I’d met some cool people. I really did feel like I was on a beach without an ocean. I love hot weather. I like the surprising cool breeze. Not to mention I don’t really social because of this whole pandemic. So it was nice to be out of the house, outdoors, getting some sun and chopping it up with total strangers.

To be fair, the police informed us we probably wouldn’t be seen. Then tons of people left the line which gave some of us hope. I was chilling catching up with friends through video chat. Feeling extra beautiful because I’d done camera make up for my DL picture. The well wishes and love had been pouring in so I was in a great emotional space.

Part of me didn’t believe the police even after they told me multiple times that it was a good chance we wouldn’t be seen. I couldn’t imagine being at someone’s job longer than the actual worker and not being able to get service.

I also thought, maybe because it’s my birthday this will all work out. I thought positive and imagined myself taking my picture. Didn’t I mention I made up my face. I mean I even did the bronze glow I just learned. All my intentions were to resolve this today. Then the door closed and I realized affirmations are some bullshit.

Two men started to yell at the police. The police reiterated that he gave them fair warning not to waste their time. One guy said he’d been out here twice. Last time he got all the way up to the door and they closed it in his face because the policy changed that same day. People moaned about having to work and their schedules.

I asked my new buddies about their sewing skills and classes. I offered them a ride to their car, which was at the end of the line sooo far to walk.
Then they invited me to camp out with them next Saturday. They are going to the DMV Friday and camp out around 9pm, so they will be in the first few entering on that following Saturday morning.

I’m seriously entertaining this.

On another note, the police did a great job of mentioning that they were just following the orders of Sisolak. Which made a lot of people promise not to vote for him in the next election. I know that Governor Sisolak is trying to keep us safe, but I don’t understand shortening the hours on the one day they take walk-ins. I guess I could write him and ask.

I Hate Myself In Ways I Didn’t Know Were Hatred…

Years ago, a client called saying he was terrified of his children. He believed they were planning to kill him. He described them as monsters and noted they were gritting their teeth at him… You could hear them laughing and playing in the background.


At the time, he was at home alone with his four children under 8yos. He had a history of violent episodes. Historically with other adults. It was immediately decided, not to call the police because he’s a 6’5 dark-skinned muscular black man. Instead, a therapist played along with his delusion, convinced him to lock himself in a bedroom, as someone was on the way to “save him.” Meanwhile, every case manager on our team was literally driving to his house.

I can’t remember if he had been off his meds. Or if something triggered the mental breakdown, which people without mental health challenges experience. For instance, people with no history of mental health issues are struggling with this pandemic. Let me also point out, some people still have mental health crises on meds. Not to mention, adding something simple as a little grapefruit each morning can reduce or completely stop your meds from working. I digress.


I’m sharing all this to make a point. In a normal situation, this man is a dedicated father. He works two jobs and picks up odd jobs to take care of his children. He often has all his children with him. Naturally, he’s a very compassionate, funny, friendly, wise, protective, and helpful person. I’d even say he’s handsome and charming. He didn’t have his first serious mental break down until his late 20’s. When he called he was in his late 30’s.


On top of taking care of his kids, working long hours, he was always helping somebody move or fixing or someone’s car for free. He loves his children. He loves people. He is an important part of the black community.


I’m sharing all this, because people are saying it is ableist to dismiss Kanye’s behavior because he’s anti-black… Him wanting only light-skinned and mixed women in his videos, definitely colorism, which is just a euphemism for self-hating black people.


Him screaming and crying on the “campaign trail” and saying Harriet Tubman didn’t free the slaves. That’s “my children are monsters and I have a knife talk.” He screamed about his father wanting to kill him as his reason for changing his stance on abortion. He admitted his wife might leave him because of his behavior… Does he hate everyone?
One year (I’m not going to stop this post to research it) I think 2018? there was a mass shooting almost every day in the U.S. It was so bad, other countries advised their citizens not to visit America. 98% of those shooters were white men. I didn’t hear about it every day, but elementary through college started doing school shooter drills. White men started to talk about their mental health and feeling attacked. Then America started to talk about the mental health crisis happening.


We say, that black people need to be treated with more humanity but we as black people are the first to ignore each other’s humanity. We are the first to take other black people to task. We have to lead in loving us. We have to lead in being compassionate to us.


Kanye’s campaign speech literally broke my heart. Reading all the drags break my heart. Some folks are saying it’s ableist to dismiss his comments.
I think that being an artist and being bipolar he may be open to evaluating systems, rules and ideas many people are afraid to consider. Give him a mic during an episode and he could be self-hating, anti-black, personally destructive and a financial liability.


I am overwhelmed at times with oppression. I hate the way it has shaped my family’s reality. I hate that I know people who hate their own dark skin, their own nappy hair. WTF is shrinkage? Your hair didn’t shrink it’s nappy!!! Any black person who says they haven’t taken a white measurement to themselves or someone else is lying.


I’ve definitely felt frustrated about having the same conversations. I’m frustrated by the classism. I’m tired of bougie black people talking over working people’s heads with the micro and macro of racism. I’m frustrated by questioning if black men are being lynched or killing themselves in my life time. I’m frustrated by Breonna Taylor’s murderers still out here collecting unemployment. I’m frustrated by people saying don’t play the victim when we are literally still being killed in our beds. I’m frustrated by people saying racism is over. I’m frustrated by black people saying stupid shit like “why doesn’t BLM care about gang violence and black on black crime?” I’m tired of the most critical people being the mofos who aren’t doing shit. And you know how we know you aren’t doing shit, because you would know BLM cares about all people, all black people and values their allies. But again, you’d have to get off the internet and actually go to a BLM activity to find this out. I’m tired of people who aren’t doing shit waiting for someone to save them.


If you want to reach out to gangs, and you are black get your ass off the fucking internet and go do it. BLM is all of us. Their agenda is our agenda. If you want to center a specific concern put it together.


My grandmother, aunts and uncles participated in the Civil Rights Movement. My mother went to a segregated. OH and while we’re on this, I’m tired of white people not knowing basic American history. Post slave law, The Black Codes AKA Jim Crow didn’t end until 1965. Post slave law has only been over about 50 years. Black colleges are where black people were forced to attend because of segregation. Black colleges are historically black by law. They were not exclusive to black people they were including black people in education. White people have always been welcome in our spaces, we were not welcome. I said all that to say, I’m tired of white people saying “what if we had white colleges wouldn’t that be racist?” Um Harvard, Princeton, West Point and it’s totally racist.


I’m tired of reading posts about black people being in a constant state of victimhood… A law of attraction person I unfollowed said black people are suffering because they think about being victims. Meanwhile statistics say we earn less. Was it last year they voted we could wear our natural hair. Black journalist wearing their hair the way it grows out of their scalp is revolutionary. Some of us have been starting our hair so long we don’t even know how to deal with our own natural texture. We’re thinking about our proximity to whiteness even when we aren’t thinking about our proximity to whiteness.
I know black beauticians who have no idea how to deal with black hair and are not trying to learn. They are still perming hair which research says causes cancer, fibroids and birth defects so that black women can be accepted in main stream society. Some white person on Twitter looked at my profile picture and attempted to tease me for having locs. Locs, loctician, colorism and too many words shaping my life are not in the dictionary. I can’t find a black shampoo that doesn’t have detangler (small amount of perm/ straightener) in it.


My mother and all her siblings attended segregated (black) schools because they were excluded. My grandmother participated in the Civil Rights movement. Some of your white grandparents hung black people, terrorized black people, burned churches. Some of your grandparents attended lynchings, have postcards of lynchings and still say racism is imagined.
I’m tired of white people slipping up and saying the N-word. I’m tired of feeling like I slipped because I said he N-word.I’m tired of black people telling me they don’t like or use the word. We are the only culture of people who can’t have anything to ourselves.. Other races have slang terms they exclusively use. We are the most inclusive race on earth. A judge hugged a white woman who killed a black man eating ice cream in his own apartment.


I’m tired of Black Americans acting like we don’t have our own foods, poetry, music, literature, dances and culture. I’m tired of us acting like every other culture of black people is better. I’m tired of explaining I intentionally speak chop because I love how we Blacks talk when we are alone with each other. I love it so much I want to wrap myself in our language. I love it so much I risk being accused of cooning when I use the words I heard on my grandmothers’ laps. I repeat how I said a thing wrong that made you laugh… Same way my Italian, Mexican and Columbian friends quote their elders’ broken English. We all speak the Kings language when we’re not home. I’m trying to be at home in myself which means everywhere.


We Black people are reared in anti-blackness. I’ve said, felt and done some anti-black things in my right mind. For instance, years ago, I was telling Mina this elder admiring my hair that I twist my locs often because I need to see my scalp, I don’t like my hair nappy. Then she told me ever so gentle and lovingly, “You black, it’s suppose to be nappy.” I mean, I brought European beauty standards to locs, do you hear me!!!! My edges USE TO stay laaaaaidddddd. This unlearning of self-hatred is a process…


This passion, frustration, soul hurt, fear, hopelessness, power, determination, freedom, courage, curiosity, need to be all spirit not what is projected on my flesh, this need to feel loved, wanted, connected and necessary might get distorted if I’m mentally ill with a mike and an audience. And I hope my own people will give me the same compassion white people give their mass shooters.