Life in the Face of the Fight: The Black Millennial’s Balancing Act in Conjunction with Police Brutality

Here we are again: Baffled in the midst of an ongoing anti-Black war on African-American life and the seemingly nonexistent factor of “justice.” Here we are, learning of yet another Black body rendered bloody and helpless in the streets of 2016 America. 

It is here that we find ourselves not even remotely healed from the last tragedy, just to be tossed head-on into the gaping gore of a new one… grappling with the illusive concept of value… catching our breath, questioning our country, evaluating our own lives, talking, listening, crying— trying to find the right words to say… 
It’s a heavy weight to carry when your skin connects you to the gut of a continual epidemic whether you feel like looking it in the face all the time or not… People are saying they’re going to block all the disgusting dirtbags (other Blacks) who RT clips of  violent shootings. And it got me thinking: With all that’s going on (and all that will soon go on), I’ve been thinking: 

What if we turn on each other without even realizing it? Do we know how to prevent that? Do we know how to act? Do we know how to maneuver when our senses are high and we start to feel it all? 

Look, I get it. I completely understand the overwhelming, life-sucking black hole that can arise from the frequent consumption of graphic police-shooting content. I’m trying to stay afloat myself…
But don’t let that accumulation of frustration and anger be channeled in the wrong direction. Look— all I’m saying is that we’re all trying to process things, and maybe some of us have gone too far with the reposting, mostly out of shock or similar sentiments. The truth is, no one knows exactly how to handle the content that’s surfacing. It shouldn’t be HAPPENING to us at all, so there’s no manual. And if we as a family need to come up with some rules, that’s OK too. 

 It’s okay to feel bewildered. If it’s driving you crazy, by all means, guard yourself. Seriously, guard yourself. But don’t let a built-up, dismissive allergic reaction to any brutality content cause you to hate your brother. 

Let’s not demonize people who, likely in shock or disbelief, share some news they thought was very new and crazy or that accompanies a statement they’d like to make. If you need cut off autoplay, do it. But not everyone needs to cut off autoplay. 

Know yourself. We all have different thresholds for graphic videos. For instance, as an artist/former art school student, the craziness on that nudist, blood-loving, put-it-on-camera, anything-goes campus really desensitized me to a lot of images, so it takes a lot before research/discussion me falls off and “Omg turn that off” me kicks in. 

In reference to the idea of online frustration, it’s also fairly important that we remember the impact of moods. I didn’t say anyone was moody, but it’s worthwhile to consider that the alternation of given states of being can account for the spewing of many ill-placed angry words. What I mean is that there’s a plethora of factors that can contribute to a black person’s level of belligerence or peace at any given time. And we have to be aware of that.

Just because you’ve had a relatively peaceful day eating yogurt at the park and don’t feel like discussing something, doesn’t mean another Black person is a “Twitter Activist” who “never shuts up.” I know your White boss was nice to you today but who are you to say someone’s killing YOUR vibe? And just because a community event ticked you off and you don’t see EVERY Black person with a Twitter account joining that particular hashtag, doesn’t mean they’re this engaged with their community. There are multiple factors (including age, location, daily sightings, life obligations, bad memories, personal triggers and the like) that can affect the degree to which a Black person chooses to immerse themselves into a topic at a certain time. They could be doing more offline than you’d ever know. (That’s what I try to do Yes, we must always be cognizant of who we are and the never-ending fight for better— and hopefully we find ourselves more in the ring than on the sidelines — but you can’t jump to conclusions about a person’s level of commitment and micromanage someone’s life. People are in different modes at different times, and a lot of it is for our sanity. 

For some, too much is too much and they don’t want to see bodies bleeding down their TL’s. And that’s okay. For others, it’s all just super unbelievable and by sharing they call themselves, “spreading the word” to further the conversation. Both moods are branches extending from the root of a beating, concerned human heart. 

None of this is easy. It’s clear we’ve got a lot of work to do, and in 2016 social media is realistically apart of it. It’s getting real. If it’s getting to you and you need a bathroom break, I’ll watch your purse. If you want to repost a clip or photo as REAL support for what you’re trying to say, maybe you can add a trigger warning. 

As we embark on a path we shouldn’t even have to walk, it’s likely that our moods/dispositions are going to range from inflamed, typing-a-mile-minute think-pieces (gotta laugh at yourself) and moments of feeling the desire to disjoin from it all. 

Let’s try not to lean too far in either direction. 

Disconnect from the constant swallowing of bitter pills like word-picking and extremely graphic content, but try to find a way not to disconnect from the cause. Take your breaks; go on walks; eat Popeyes (but grab some tea because that biscuit is a monster on its own); do some work; watch Martin. Breathe. 

Stay well-rounded. Keep living your life. That’s how you stay strong enough to be in it for the long-haul.

So no, you don’t have to feel required to answer the ignorant cashier in the coffee shop tomorrow when he brings up the Minnesota shooting— but we do need to have the capacity to come together continually and keep believing in what can happen. 

We don’t have to discuss this stuff 24/7, but we DO need to be on the same page 24/7 if any of our ideas are going to be ultimately manifest into action. So if you feel a thing, and you don’t like what your brother posted, say so respectfully, without spitting venom. If not, we’ll get so consumed by the back-and-forth that we’ll forget we have a common enemy to triumph over. And that’s how we lose. 

We can’t afford to lose.

It’s a tough road, and we have to take time to refuel. It’s okay to feel simply “over” the sights and sounds of bloody streets for a time; I just don’t want us to get so overwhelmed by videos and everyone else’s posts that we say, “Screw it all.” I don’t want us to chill to the point that we freeze. We have to keep going. 
This is a journey no other marginalized group has to take, so unless somebody is spewing some utter negativity and horse manure, let us take each other’s perceived “mistakes” and mold those moments into something informative. 

Look — I don’t know the answer… But I know the insurmountable God who does. The sincere and rigorous unification of our mind-spaces is a first step so that high-impact strategies like financial restraint and control of the Black dollar can begin to foster effective leverage. 

Let’s work together. It’s a tumultuous journey but needless to say, it’s one worth taking… And any long trip comes with rest stops, so take breaks when you need to. It’s about balance. The balancing act isn’t easy, but if we want our future children to experience something else, it’s worth it. I know it’s hard. We’ve got our work cut out for us. There are emotions everywhere. But we must keep things in perspective. 

In light of all that’s going on, do you.

 But don’t forget to do US. 

We need each other right now.

-JQ

#SignThePetition to force the hands of politicians:

https://wh.gov/iFCfP


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Angry Rant #3927298

Recently while I was out shopping downtown, I realized I need to get my eyebrows done. I was far from my usual eyebrow spot (usually a taboo choice in girl-world) and the closest place was a new upscale salon in the hart of McPherson Square. Since I had an event to attend later that night and was running short on time, I thought I’d give the new place a try. I took one last sip of my mocha frappe, darted past all the new boutiques and settled into the beyond-pretty salon.
There, I met Sarah, the eyebrow technician. “Not too thin- just clean them up, please,” I remarked with a smile as the seemingly well-to-do woman placed a cape around my neck and went to work. I slipped back into the leather-laiden chair and enjoyed the tingling sensation of hot wax glazing across my brow bone.
[Ladies, don’t act like it you’ve never liked it! ;)]

While Miss Sarah was very pleasant up until the end of the very appointment, I was in for a rude awakening- one that had absolutely nothing to do with the arch of my brows. When she finished and handed me a mirror to review her work, I was quite pleased. I pointed out that she had done a good job except for the fact she’d forgotten a few hairs (which was a typical client remark at a beauty salon). I stated it very calmly, knowing that it was just a matter of a bit more plucking here and there. After I’d stated my case, Sarah (who happened to be White) welled up with this nervous look in her eyes, clasped her hands together and blurted out the randomest of random pieces of dog-crap I’d ever heard:

“Oh, no! Oh, no! We don’t like a lot of drama here! Don’t get loud! PLEASE!”

 
Astonished, I just stared at her for a moment. My voice hadn’t rebelled above a whisper. Yet somehow, the fact that I had melanin mixed with even a remote level of dissatisfaction meant that I was about to pop my gum, cuss her all the way out, call LaKeisha and Quantavia, flip over tables and turn the whole salon into a bottomless pit of my “Angry Black Woman wrath.”
GIRL.
In hindsight, it’s quite ironic to note that she was the one making a scene and inviting everyone to look at us.
 
As she batted back the gripping urge to protect her life and call 9-1-1 on my Waffle-colored behind, I stealthily leaned in with the don’t-try-me eyes I’d often seen my Mama use and asked her:
“Have I raised my voice? Have I threatened you in any way? Have I done anything to make you think I would cause “drama” or damage your salon?” She simply looked down at her apron… The worst part of it all was that there was no shame in her eyes… not an ounce of regret. I could tell she was trying to find a way to justify the conclusions to which she had so earnestly jumped… But the reality is…
There IS no justification.
 
#Microaggressions often seem so trivial (and even natural) to the perpetrators who commit them, but they can burn such long-lasting and degrading memories into the minds of the people of color against whom the actions are taken… I still remember every nervous smile, every awkward glance, every do-you-even-belong-here vibe, every time I was made to show my ID as my White friends danced past the security desk– even though I had been living in that apartment for almost four years… I remember it all… I don’t let it change me… But I remember it all…
If I were less confident, I’d be screwed.
I used to feel quite sad within myself when these happenings would rear their ugly heads. Now, all I think about are the young humans who don’t know how to process these things when they happen… and who begin letting these instances eat away them.

Who are you to act based on a stereotype?

We owe it to ourselves to give everyone a chance.
So please:
Think before you speak.
And then THINK again.
And if you’re a White-privilege-toting, tactless idiot who STILL can’t find the error in their ways, then with all due respect…
Shut up and do my eyebrows.

Mirror, Mirror: The Idiosyncracies of #GrowingUpUgly

  

Did you grow up “ugly?” You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about the “Selfie Generation” and about beauty ideals for a while… Subsequently, the #GrowingUpUgly hashtag really was an unexpected trip down memory lane. (Ever started off doing something for fun until it got too real? #Oops)… I identified with so many of the posts… getting teased by the boys, not getting the cards on Valentine’s Day, being the target of all those “Aye my friend like you,” stunts (just so the “friend” can turn around and say, “Ew” and make you feel even more mortified)… I remember it all… And it wasn’t pretty… #NoPunIntended

I know what it’s like. I remember being made to feel so ugly you just want to go home. When God was handing out looks I must’ve asked for books because that’s exactly what I got. I was always just the “smart one.” I loved to learn more than anything… Learning was my best friend. I was a brain with shoes. And I was okay with that. My thoughts kept me company.

I know what it’s like. I grew up as a nerdy bookworm with severe acne and horrible eczema. I was a black-and-white, by-the-book thinker so I had been taught by my parents that God had made me beautiful, and I believed it in theory… But all the theories in the world can’t help you in the middle of the cafeteria when the popular boys decide to go in you…

My self esteem was usually good (I hope I’m explaining this right)… But getting made fun of is NO joke. It shrinks you. It makes you want to cry in the bathroom and eat lunch by yourself (which I did a lot anyway). I know what it’s like. I wasn’t the girl all the boys liked. I was the girl who helped everyone with their homework. 

As a teacher, I’ve met a lot of students who don’t think they’re beautiful… My heart aches for them. I feel them. I hear them… I want to tell them that there’s so much more that makes them. 

Your “glo up” isn’t what makes you. You’re YOU before your skin clears up. You’re YOU before the braces come off. You’re YOU before you get hips. You’re YOU before you any of this happens. Your exterior is the outer shell in which your spirit resides, but your interior is A1 from Day 1. Your soul shines like no other and that’s #FaxNoPrinter…

The truth is, we all blossom at different points in our lives and I suppose I was just a late bloomer. I’m not saying I’m like the “baddest” or anything now. LOL. But I do believe that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. (And underneath it all, I’m still the same little nerdy girl inside.)

So to any girl (or guy) who’s wondering when their “turn” is going to come… when puberty is going to come and change her life… when their “glo up” is going to come and make them beautiful: My friend, you’re already beautiful. You’re a divine creation. God designed you with a paintbrush so unique that your exact features will never be duplicated. You’re the manifestation of God’s perfect artistic eye… utterly breathtaking in every way imaginable… And you don’t need a mirror to tell you that. 🙂

 -J 👑  
 

  

  

Rejection Culture in the 21st Century: Living Above the Curve

  

Women of the millennial generation often talk about how frequently and how fervently they “curve” men… How they look them up and down… How they “laugh them out”… How they give them the coldest of shoulders and upload screenshots captioned with laughing emojis and clever hashtags… How they send dudes packing with their faces on the floor and their pride on life-support. It’s becoming more than obnoxious none of it is acceptable.

Why is this such a great source of satisfaction? Why, my dear, are you so proud of the fact that you “curve” everyone? It’s hardly an achievement. It’s tasteless and quite frankly, it’s gone far enough. Rudely dismissing and embarrassing a polite and well-meaning man is not okay.

How would you feel if you applied to a college and they laughed you out of the building, asking why you ever thought you could get in? 

Hurting people’s feelings means more than meets the eye…

Come here, girl. Closer. CLOSER

I’m going to whisper something to you that I want you to keep in your back pocket: The male ego is very fragile. It is not to be played with. You don’t toy with it. You don’t embarrass a man. You pick your battles. Sometimes you even have to let someone “win” in a situation without letting them know you did. I won’t go too far, because I don’t have a boyfriend and I’m no relationship expert; But it goes beyond romantic dealings. I have close male friends. And the point is that you don’t degrade a guy just because you think it’s cute. It’s never cute.

I’m sure it takes a lot of nerve to go out on a limb and approach a girl, not knowing what the outcome will be. Guys have feelings too and you should be cognizant of them.

Does that mean you have to accept every single advance and give your number to every man who turns his head on your way to the store? Of course not.

But there’s a way to do everything. And brushing a man off as though he were a Malaria-carrying mosquito is not the way.

Yeah, I know you’re sexy. I know you’re fine. I know he’s “just going to go right up to the next girl.” But none of these factors are a license to be rude. Actually, there’s never a license to be rude.

Be humble. Be gracious. Make it your business to be kind to everyone — everyone – and that includes dudes who thought they might give it a shot…

I hear pick-up lines all day (some better than others), but I always make it a point to be sure I’m polite to men… on the train, at the grocery store, at the mall…wherever… If you remember that everyone is a person and that people have feelings, it helps other things to just fall into place.

No one likes rejection in any form, and it’s certainly not up to you to make a guy feel like he’s the scum of the earth. If a man takes the time out of his day to ask you out, approach you or even just throw a compliment your way, don’t be rude to him. Don’t insult him. Don’t screenshot him. Don’t shun him. No, that’s not what ladies do. Be nice. See the gesture for the kindness lying beneath it. Don’t be a jerk. Live above the curve. Because when someone reaches out their hand, you don’t spit on it. 

-J 👑

 

Dismounting the “Difficult” Girl: You’re Not Worth It.

 

 
Why do girls tweet things like this?
“Worth it?” Ummm no you’re an unstable woman who needs to reevaluate the reasons behind her actions. Girls think it’s cute to list a slew of unpleasant qualities and end with “but I’m worth it.” It’s dumb and I’m disgusted. 
No, I’m not naive. I’m not “missing the point.” I SAW the point and I rejected it. I know the point is to poke fun at the idea of the “beauty” of a difficult but “worth it” girl. But how beautiful is it, really? I know — It’s cute in theory, on Instagram…and twitter… with supporting emojis… But is it really something someone should attach themselves to for life? 
It’s actually perpetuating the illusion that bad habits somehow equate to modern charm. Yeah I know you’re a “woman.” I’m one too. But excessive emotionalism is an unhealthy practice that will eventually lead to a dead end. My sister, you have the potential to be an amazing, balanced woman… a woman who follows her heart but never forsakes her brain. You don’t have to be complacent with your shortcomings and just say you’re “worth it.” Bad habits are bad habits, no matter how you dress them up. It’s okay to be sweet and spicy at the same time; We all love a passionate person. But don’t be extra. Don’t be a headache in a dress. Be the peace… the calm after a long day… The comforting jewel that never wavers into childish antics because she knows who she is. Now THAT’s “worth it.”
-JQ

“Too Girly? And what do you suppose I should BE?”

Someone called me, “too girly.” 

Too girly?
It’s impossible for me to be too girly. 
I’m a girl. 
How can I exhibit in excess the qualities that are intrinsic to my being? It’s like calling water “too wet.” You can’t separate the innate properties of an entity from said entity. 
It undermines the laws of science.
I love pink; I think skirts are fun to twirl in and seven-inch pumps make my heart beat fast. I like pens with little flowers on the tips and I walk with a little strut but I can’t help it.
I’m a GIRL!
And just because this crazy, mixed up world expects girls to look cute but act like men doesn’t mean I have to conform. Today’s society (through reality television, social networks and a plethora of other media) perpetuates the idea of women who wear tight dresses but act up and wild out and and act gross and burp to make people laugh and curse people out…
 And girls who actually act like ladies are labeled “bougie” and “prissy.”
No, my dear, deluded friend. What you’re mistaking for “prissy” is actually the outward manifestation of a dedication to “classy.” 
God sculpted me into a woman. And I will be a woman… at all times, in all moments and in all aspects. It’s who I am. I can’t possibly be too much of it. So when you see me painting my nails and buying my favorite perfume, just know that I’m not being “too girly.” I’m being myself.
I was destined this way…Darling. 😉