Carolina Panthers sign Eric Reid

(sorry for any typos, I’m just really excited!)

For the people who don’t really know much about me, I am a HUGE Panthers fan.  Like….YUUUUUGE…

Really!

Well today, I was eating my salad for lunch (because I went to happy hour yesterday and killed all of my healthy eating for the week) and came across a message from one of my friends on our group chat.

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I have to admit.  This was probably the most unexpected thing that I have ever expected the Panthers to do.  Why?

Just a little bit of history…

Eric Reid was basically being blackballed in the NFL.  As much as some people would like to deny it, he was. Why you ask?  Well for my people who are unfamiliar, Eric Reid was one of the first guys to kneel with Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem in protest of Police brutality, inequality, and social justice as a whole.   Also,  Reid currently has a collusion lawsuit opened with the NFL, basically because he’s being blackballed. So yeah…Eric Reid wasn’t currently signed to any team in the NFL, and has not played at all this season.  The Panthers decided to sign this guy, on a one-year deal (people call this a “prove it” contract) and I couldn’t be happier.

This joy that I share, comes from multiple places.  You see, the panthers just recently went through an ownership change.  Jerry Richardson, the old angry RBF looking guy who didn’t seem to enjoy life at all, used to be the owner.  He just seemed like someone who ruled with an iron fist.  Even though I never knew him personally, and everybody like players and staff said he was a kind person, he just seemed like someone who had this, “I treat my people right by paying them, so they must do what I say” type of attitude. In addition to this demeanor, Richardson never did high profile moves when making decisions for his team.  There would be a need and would be a perfectly good player in free agency that would be available, and if Richardson deemed he was too problematic (in his eyes) he wouldn’t sign them.  Jerry Richardson would NEVER in a million years make a move like this. Why?  Because it brings too much drama.  Regardless of how this makes him look to the many people who paid him money to see his team.  If a move requires any type of attention, he bails out.  He didn’t want to stand up for what’s right, he just wanted to make his money and go about his business.  And while people think that’s fine and dandy, he never showed that he wanted to be a a part of something bigger.

The new owner of the Panthers, David Tepper, has shown in many ways that he’s not afraid to stir the pot.  Tepper hasn’t done much, but the things that he HAS done in only a short few months of owning the team, has shown that he’s more about football than he is politics.  A simple gesture of painting the Panthers logo at midfield was welcome with fanfare and praise.  Only because fans have asked for this for 20+ years, and Jerry Richardson with the iron fist said “HELL NO”.  He didn’t give a damn about his fans, and his loyalty was to his money and the NFL.  I digress though.  With that said, Tepper is not afraid to do what’s best for his team and the fans who watch every Sunday.  Signing the best unsigned football player, who was currently being blackballed by so many others, proves that he’s not afraid of what others will say and he’s out here to support the best players out there, regardless of the inequalities they are facing.  I hope he paves the way for other teams to stand up and do what’s right.

Also, this… Panthers owner David Tepper rebuts Trump’s anthem protest criticism, calls NFL players ‘patriotic’

I can only hope that David Tepper continues to make the decisions that allow his team and the people they represent to stay on the RIGHT side of history.  And hopefully, Reid can go out here, and show people that he can still play, while also keeping an eye on and fighting for social justice.

 

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I… Am… Tired…

I’m tired of black people getting the cops called on them for no reason.

I’m tired of black people dying from scared ass police

I’m tired of innocent people, let alone kids, dying

I’m tired of school shootings

I’m tired of people not understanding why people want to change gun laws

I’m tired of hearing about this on the news

I’m tired of being looked at as a threat to White people

I’m also tired of being the “cool” black guy to other White people

I’m tired of being seen as not enough

I’m tired of bullies

I am tired of fat shamers

I’m tired of the internet

I’m tired of Facebook

I’m tired of Twitter

I’m tired of my lgbtq+ community being treated unfairly

I am tired of people not standing up for what’s right

I’m tired of you thinking everything is ok

I’m tired of racists

I’m tired of Donald Trump

I’m tired of Sarah Sanders

I’m tired of seeing my people systematically being pushed out of their neighborhoods they’ve lived in for generations

I’m tired of you not caring

I am tired of overly Christian people who refuse to live outside of their Christian beliefs.

I am tired of being judged

I am tired of people saying “no offense but…”

I’m tired of you saying “stop making this about race”

I am tired if you not realizing that this is ALL about race

I am tired of you not talking about it.

I’m tired of you not acknowledging that this is reality

I am tired of you…

I… Am… Tired…

Childish Gambino’s New Video Made Me Cry

If you haven’t seen it. Here it is, in all it’s wonderful beautiful glory

Now, why did I cry? Why did the video make me cry?

Well for one, it’s named “This is America”.  This video is full of truths about our society as a whole, and as I sat there watching it for what felt like the millionth time, I started to shed tears, because the meaning continued to weigh heavy on my heart.

The main point in this video is basically showing how distracted or little we tend to care about what’s going on in society.  As we see Gambino dancing with these school kids, as if nothing is going on.  From the opening scene we hear a chant, basically describing that we just want to have fun and that we just want to have a good life.  Starting off the song with an up-beat, African influenced chant “We just wanna party, Party just for you, We just want the money, Money just for you…” and from there things get grim when Gambino pulls out a gun and shoots a man with his head covered…and utters the words:

“This is America, Don’t catch you slippin up…”

Like…WHAT?!?!?

And the scene afterwards, which was noted by many outlets online, showed Glover handing off the gun to someone else, who had a red scarf of some sort, taking the gun off screen ever so carefully.  And what does he do after all of this commotion? Starts to dance as if nothing happened.  It’s a mirror on how society is taken aback by the sheer horrendous nature of America, but will then turn their eyes to something else as if the event that just happened never occurred.

The dancing in the video is a distraction. The lyrics, while basic in delivery, tells a simple story of our country.  “Police is trippin”, “I got a strap, I gotta carry em”, etc.  but the song alone does not make this the epic experience you should be hearing. The video is what you should pay attention to.

Gambino even goes to murdering a church choir, symbolizing the Charleston shooter from a few years back, and again the gun, which looked like and Assault Rifle, was taken away with care, which Glover, in turn, decides to start dancing again.  Symbolizing the initial shock of a tragic incident, but how we are quick to move along and forget about things again.

And while Gambino is dancing around with his crew, the background is just full of chaos.  The world around us in burning, but we’re focusing on the wrong things. And while all of these things are going on, we’re dancing, rather the Hip Hop community is dancing, and “getting their money”.  That’s what it’s all about.  As a black male in America, the chaos in the background is what we deal with on a normal basis, but society is being blinded. These things continue to happen, and people are out here just “getting their money” but not out here striving to make a change.  Obviously this is just my opinion and how I view it, but as the chaos goes on in the background, we’re just out here doing our dance. Whether that dance be “dancing for the man to ‘get that money'” and not challenge the status quo, or the dancing around people do to avoid the hard conversations.  However, there is a point where  this video screams how much America loves our art, but not our lives.  The outro goes like this:

“You just a Black man in this world
You just a barcode, ayy
You just a Black man in this world
Drivin’ expensive foreigns, ayy
You just a big dawg, yeah
I kenneled him in the backyard
No probably ain’t life to a dog
For a big dog”

If this doesn’t scream “we’re just loved for our entertainment” I don’t know what is.  They don’t love us, they just love our culture.

This is America, where people want to believe it or not.  And this is why I cried.  Because while we are enjoying our lives, there will always be a next time, and a time after that, unless something is done about it.  Being a black man in America only amplifies the hurt, due to injustices that we have to worry about on a daily basis when it comes to police brutality and racism.  And that reality just breaks my heart…

Donald Glover, you are a genius and most of America doesn’t deserve you.

Just “Regular” Black

Often, the first things people notice about me are my  face full of freckles (that seem to take over my body the older I get) and my greenish eyes. It’s particularly jarring an noticeable to people because I’m just “regular” Black. 100% Black, nothing else and 100% proud.

Growing up, people constantly asked me “what was I?” Or complimented me on how I looked like a “white woman” or at the very least mixed. As I got older, redbone was the compliment of choice by men, who were always fascinated by my “exoticism” and wanted to know if my mother or father was white. Family members also often told me that I looked mixed, if only my hair was a silkier (My hair is the give away. In its natural state, it is a beautiful kinky, jet black, ball of wool – nothing European about it.). And as I got into weaves and wigs, this was even further solidified. I grew up thinking being Black wasn’t good enough, that it was a good thing to be lighter skinned, asked “what are you?” and to be mistaken as only half negro. Although I didn’t necessarily see it as better to me, I realized that it was compliment in the world I grew up in. And so I allowed it to happen, smiling sheepishly as I responded (gross).

After constantly being asked this question though, I began to get annoyed, quickly. I became confused every time someone’s face fell when they learned I was just “regular” Black. As I learned more about paper bag tests, and doll experiments, and well, colorism in general, I grew angry. When I realized my fellow sister friends with beautiful skin were often disregarded, felt inferior, and men trashed them, I was disgusted. And when my own siblings told me about hatred for their  darker skin and wishing they had mine, I felt incredibly sad and heartbroken. And then I realized that in a very complicated world of color and race, in some ways, I have privilege. And in other ways, I’m very much the victim of racism. And that either way, I had to shift my thinking and what I allowed others to say or do around me.

And so began my bitchy remarks to those who questioned my ethnicity. “I’m Black mixed with Black,” I replied before it was a popular t-shirt. “Redbone isn’t a compliment to me, and I’m actually offended that you would insult my fellow sisters like that,”  I replied every single time a man would send me a message complimenting me on my light skin and how he prefers that.  I try my best to affirm others about their beauty and advocating when I can for others when I can. I intentionally use a rainbow of shades in my presentations. I remind people that being multiracial is wonderful, but simply being Black is wonderful too.  Most importantly for my own self, I will not accept any compliment that is about how exotic or “other” someone finds me.

I’ve also learned that my skin color comes with down sides too. Many people think I’m a “safer” type of Black, and are surprised and annoyed that I’m afrocentric and speak about racism often. Men expect me to be a little less opinionated. I’m “pretty for a Black girl” in some white spaces. I’m sometimes stereotyped as stuck up, not down, or self-centered. I work hard to disprove these things, but I try to not get caught up in that, because I know for every time those annoyances happen, a darker skinned woman is denied a job, a relationship (you don’t need him or her though honey, you too good for that), stereotyped,  “pretty for a dark skinned woman” or humiliated. I’m so sorry you go through that. I’m so sorry if I have ever been part of that problem. Please know that I stand by your side and am an ally today.

I cannot change the color of my skin or eyes. I love my freckles.  However, what I can do is claim my Blackness, never back down or allow slick shit  people say to slide, and be an active participant in dismantling colorism in our community.

So to answer your question,  I’m 100% Black queen goddess mixed with Black strength. That’s it. Just you know, “regular” Black.

I’m Tired of Myself Not Showing Up and Out for Myself

A few days ago I posted a pic of me in a pink jumpsuit and everyone was kind enough to give me compliments about it out the wazoo. I almost didn’t post it, because I thought I looked ugly and fat. Last week, I posted a post about how my spiritual journey is not what most people expect and my beliefs don’t align with majority of the people I know. I almost didn’t post it because I was fearful of rejection. I am making some major life changes and am doubtful at every turn and tell little people about it because I’m afraid I look stupid or flakey. I set boundaries that are healthy for me and then feel immensely guilty because people don’t agree. I don’t want children because it isn’t for me, but feel constant pressure to explain why, and so I never talk about it, missing out on opportunities to inspire others because I’m worried about others opinions or being seen as less desirable as a romantic partner.

I could go on and on with examples like these. But what I really want, is to never have another example like this in my life. I am beyond done with not showing up and showing out for my own damn life and living it on my terms. My whole job as a therapist is centered around telling others to show up for themselves, why the hell do I not do this for me? I am tired of being bound by shit that has no positive or fulfilling purpose in my life.

My body image has held me back for years. I don’t pursue the men I want, I sometimes don’t wear the clothes I want, I avoid pictures, and I have spent too many days crying over fat rolls, doing only certain exercises to decrease fat, apologizing when I eat a donut, ans comparing myself to beautiful women. Today, I declare myself beautiful, with fat rolls, and worthy. Fuck your beauty standards I’ve internalized. I can be active and overweight and healthy and eat donuts.

I’m tired of playing small in every aspect. I will assert my truth, I will not stop talking about Black things, I will not stop talking about equity, I will not stop when you are uncomfortable, call me an angry Black woman, tell me to be sweeter. I will not stop sharing my ideas. It’s not me to be quiet or small. It’s not my soul. It kills me when I do it. I will not commit soul genocide anymore.

I’m tired of settling. I will go for jobs in my career that invigorate me, challenge me, and call me to step into the leadership position that I am called to be. I won’t be anyone’s entry level anything anymore. I will walk in my strengths humbly, but not self deprecatingly.

I will not settle with men. I deserve what I want. My body will not be used for pleasure unless I say so, and I will not settle for a man that does nothing less than challenges me to be better, loves and cares for me, can hold his own, and also is what I want. No more nice guys with potential, and certainly no more fuck boys here to waste my time. No more half committed, empty words, me chasing you, you being too cool. Stand beside me, be ready to commit, or get to walking. Also, this isn’t only your descision; I actively get to choose. I’d certainly rather be alone than to deal with any BS.

Listen. I’m ready to show up and show out for myself. I am tired of playing it safely and diminishing my light. I am soft and fierce and courageous and change maker and I no longer have a choice but to live up to this. And I’m excited AF.

So please know, I am showing up for myself in a big way and I hope you join me. But if it makes you uncomfortable, IDGAF.

Black, Southern, and Increasingly More Agnostic

Much of my self has been transforming and growing, and let me tell you, this shit has not been easy or lovely. It’s been downright hard. In this journey, lately, I’m finding myself in a very strange predicament – a Black, southern woman, who has become increasingly agnostic at exponential rates.

In other words, most people I grew up with, associate with, or are family probably thinks I’m going to burn in eternal flames.

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Being Black and Southern is to Christianity, as peanut butter and jelly is to sandwich, it seemed to me growing up. It just is and there was no other way to be. You went to church each Sunday, sometimes Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. You didn’t deny it, you didn’t question it, you didn’t do ANYTHING, really, it just happened to you. And poof, this is who you are.

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Religion serves as a grounding place for humans. It is a key component of a civilized society. We need it. It brings meaning, faith, and understanding to many of us. It helps us explain things that have no explanation and keeps us morally accountable. It is deeply spiritual for many of us and we are moved by it in ways that are not easy or meant to comprehend. I don’t look down on those who are deeply religious; I think each person’s faith contributes heavily to the person’s identity, and at its best, religion, is a source of love and connectedness.

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But it isn’t something I resonate much with anymore. I am not sure when I first decided that Christianity was not for me, and when that developed into most religions not being for me, but I do remember when I was first exposed to the idea that perhaps my God, wasn’t the only God. I was in 7th grade and we will call him Mr. M, a red headed, tall, man, charged with teaching a bunch of unruly middle schoolers about history. He chose to teach us the history of religions and my world was rocked. I could not understand how millions, billions of people were going to hell because they did not have faith the same way I did, and how a loving God could allow that. Of course my church hushed me, my community reinforcing that these were not the ways of God, and my developing mind did not know what to do with that.

I was again exposed to different religions in my junior year of high school. I was selected to attend a selective summer leadership camp. I still remember one of my favorite activities was called Vespers, and during Vespers, different people from different faiths came to speak to us. This was the first time Muslims, Jewish people, atheists, Quakers, Hindus, etc. were actually humanized for me. I saw people, good people that I liked and admired and thought were smart and most of all, not hell worthy, in front of me. I was again confused that these people could go to hell. I was exposed to people who did not believe people went to hell or in redemption through a savior. I was also first exposed to antisemitism and Islamophobia, by teens, who yelled at the people, asked very insulting questions like “but aren’t you going to hell?” and I was astonished. My mind couldn’t totally wrap its head around what was going on, but I knew it was wrong, very wrong.

In college, I started my journey at a small liberal arts college, Queens University of Charlotte. I loved this university primarily because of the authenticity of my professors. Looking back now, this was very rare, the way they challenged us to think more deeply about social justice issues, build empathy, expose us to life different than ours, and push us to really take charge of our own growth in these areas. Everyone may not have been convinced or reached, but I was primed and ready to receive it, and that education opened my mind even more broadly. I learned about the origins of Christianity and other religions, I went to services from other backgrounds, I learned that gay people, were in fact, not dirty or shameful, and that neither was my black skin, or “ghetto” high school. I also learned that there were plenty of people who did not believe any of that was true, and it was an important to be an advocate for the voiceless. I was growing and at the same time outgrowing many things. And Christianity, particularly the judgmental, often hypocritical, and overly damning, version I’d be exposed to, was not fitting me well at all.

These are my earliest pivotal memories that began to sway my mind, but there were many other small memories. I have always been curious, quirky, and questioning. I would follow my mother around for hours and say “why” and I think that this is one of my gifts. I also don’t think a god I serve would make a mistake and so this must be who I am meant to be.

I also have a penchant for shame. I am easily shamed and my early exposures to religion as a girl were filled with shameful moments. From watching a young woman walk down the aisle while a preacher showed that see, women, can detour men from their purpose with their simple walk, from shaming for not complete forgiveness and embracing of a perpetrator, from hearing the shame from a man who declared he still had feelings for men, but is just doesn’t date at all because he will burn in hell, from shaming about not enough money for the collection plate, from shaming that as a woman, in some way, I was the origin of damnation, from my curious mind being seen as a curse, one that goes against god, Christianity for me was a very shaming world. The promise being that if could figure out how to be “good” I could have eternal life. This never made much sense to me, but I was afraid of god’s wrath and so I never questioned it, until much later, and even now, it is scary to do.

I recently read “On Healing Black Girl Pain,” a story about a woman’s career, family, love, and spiritual journey. She talks a lot about Christianity in the Black church and she hit every one of my thoughts. Our stories were actually very similar in MANY ways, but i’m focusing on the religion part here. She talked about the role of Christianity in the US with slavery, the way it has been both damning and redeeming for us as Black people, the hatred espoused by some in name of Christianity (which I don’t think necessarily is what Christianity is) and her complicated appreciation of it – from afar. I agreed on just about every point she made. She helped me find the voice to write this initial post. She gave me permission to explore spirituality in other ways.

Lately, I’ve been looking at Buddhism, Unitarian practices (which feel really good to me), humanistic approaches to spirituality, and other religions in order to understand and inform who I am. It feels good, overdue, and is an important of my journey. But it is scary and something that I have never known and have no road map to follow. And of course there is always the voice that what if you’re all wrong and are going to burn in flames? And I don’t have an answer for that at all.

One of the scariest parts of exploring agnosticism and broadening my spiritual understanding of myself is other Black people and southern people, and especially the combination. The Black community is deeply rooted in traditions of faith and for good reasons. I am deeply rooted in the Black community, and so this piece of difference makes me feel very afraid of being ostracized, talked about, looked down upon and misunderstood, while you all pray for my damned soul, with mutterings of “Bless her heart.”

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But this is my truth.

I’m not really sure how to relate to people in this area. I grew up in the church just as much as any of my Black friends, and I love the community and understanding of this very complex system of the Black church. It feels like going home, but home after you’ve been away for a very long time and you’ve changed a lot, and no one else quite understands the new you. So familiar, but isolating at the same time. And there are not many Black agnostic people I know, none that are very open anyway or that aren’t hardcore anti organized religion, which isn’t quite where I am either. I have a deep respect for all religions and people who practice them, I’m just not sure what or if any of them are for me. If you’re reading this, I ask for patience and empathy, or at least understanding, that this isn’t an easy post to write or divulge about myself. And I haven’t arrived here lightly or without much thought. I’d love to share my spiritual journey with you all ongoing, but am also very afraid of being judged because it will likely not end in a traditional or familiar view of Christianity.

I don’t know where I will land. I just know I believe in a god, the connectedness of the universe, and faith, love, and courage. I believe kindness and empathy reign supreme, and what is encouraging to me, is that when we peel back the layers of any religion or spiritual practice without dogma and egos, that seems to be a common thread. And so, I feel these values puts on the right path. Except in instances of when religion is used to perpetuate hate, discrimination, and oppression

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Say it Loud!…I’m Black and I’m Proud!

I’m rooting for everybody Black.
-Issa Rae

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Despite popular belief, I’m black, and I love being black, and I would not trade that in for the world.

Watching Black Panther in theaters opening weekend was just such an amazing experience. An experience I have not been able to see at a mainstream level in such a long time, if ever. In its first weekend, Black Panther made $218 million. 218!!!!!! To put this in perspective, the Jordan Peele written and directed “Get Out”, which is another great movie, opened up with $33 million and “Girls Trip”, another movie for the culture, opened up with $31 million. Like, can your mind even process this right now? Black people have been WINNING for the past year and some months. However, even though “Get Out” and “Girls Trip” didn’t break the top ten grossing movies of 2017, they did place 15th and 26th respectively. Which isn’t an easy feat. We showed up! We did it y’all. But I can’t help but think we can do better. I can’t wait for when this doesn’t come as a surprise to us, because I can’t wait until other people outside of our race will finally recognize and know our worth.

Black Panther is leading in box office sales for 2018 right now and it’s not even close! Thanks to us for showing up and showing out! Additionally, I wnat to shout out the Marvel fanboys as well, but let me put this in perspective. Black Panther opened up their box office weekend outdoing Thor: Ragnarok, Spiderman: Homecoming, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Logan, AND Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 last year. Only being beat by Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017.

THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE! WE! SHOWED! UP!

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And what’s so much better about this, is that THEY. SHOWED. UP. The Director/Writer, the Actors, every single person who was a part of this project. Black Panther was more than just a superhero movie. It oozed of culture. It celebrated our culture! Even though Wakanda is very advanced, you see women wearing their hair beautifully, naturally, dressed in ensembles that oozed of African prints that seemed to be influenced by Kenyan cloth (I’m sure I’m wrong on the country here, don’t kill me). Even when you see T’challa and crew walking through the city, you see shops with Wakandans selling goods and merchandise, as it being the normal way of living. These people of Wakanda were showing their beauty. Taking Pride in their culture. The dances seen when the “battle” for King went on. The fact that the fate of Wakanda almost SOLELY depended on the women. When you think of advanced civilizations, you don’t think of markets, you don’t think of unpermed natural hair, you don’t think of African print clothing.. I LOVED IT. EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND.

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I’m so glad that Black Panther embodies this, because for the people that are not of color and do not know much about African culture, they were able to see a part of our history in a positive light. Usually, black people are portrayed as dumb, drug addicts, weed smoking, criminals of some sort and we are so tired of being represented this way in the mainstream. This is why we love ourselves. This is why we love to celebrate were we come from, because in most instances it has been stripped away from us. We barely see or know our history. We were taken away from our roots and forced to work as slaves for hundreds of years. This leads us to yearn and celebrate where we come from. From being descendants of Kings and Queens, to being knocked down to virtually nothing during slavery, only to come back out on top hundreds of years later gives me hope and promise and just joy that my black is beautiful and that I am worth it.

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The release of Black Panther is an event! It’s own “comic-con” of sorts. I encourage all of us to embrace our blackness and continue to show the world how amazing we are. I’ve only decided to focus on Black Panther for this post, but we are doing amazing things in music, TV, and movies. Continue to be proud and continue to support us, as we are worth every single ounce of our existence. And don’t let anyone tell you differently.

#wakandaForever