Just My Interpretation

Oh No She Didn’t

“Time to heal our women, be real to our women. And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies that will hate the ladies that make the babies.” – Tupac Shakur

One of my favorite songs is “Bag Lady” by Erykah Badu. It is a song that behooves women (young and old) to release the mental and emotional baggage that they have acquired throughout life. With the simple vamp of: “Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go.” the tune is a declaration of the freedom that comes with releasing old life luggage.

downloadThough I absolutely enjoy the song- I have come to personally overstand that not all bags are easy to let go, but it is much needed. Experiences such as molestation or sexual assault can leave one with a plethora of feelings ranging from hate to little or no self-worth. Most women, especially those in the black community, are taught to keep such sordid things in the closet and move on. From my own personal experiences I have found that what’s not dealt with ( be it emotionally or physically) can and will leave one paralyzed in pain.

Damaged women do destructive things.

Although women are trailblazers in the business world and have made great strides in the scientific and political community, they are still subject to being seen as merely sexual objects. Little girls are still molested, raped or sold into sex trafficking rings. In many countries women are not allowed to attend school or practice the right to vote. Yet, when it is all said and done, these aforementioned girls and women are told to get over traumatic experiences, raise babies and have dinner on the table ( because we all know that that is what women were placed on this planet to do, right?)

Yet, I ponder, what happens to the little girl who is molested and/or raped? What type of woman does she grow up to be? Will she grow to hate the male species? Will she become promiscuous? Will she even make it to womanhood or end up committing suicide?

“A nation can rise no higher than its woman.” – The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

Although we are taught much differently, a woman is a powerful source of influence in bag ladythe home, her community and the world abroad. As soon as a woman is impregnated, she becomes the world to the life force developing within her. What the woman eats, thinks and feels has a major impact on her child before it takes its first breath of oxygen. Once the baby is born, he/she is nursed, pampered and cared for by the mother. The mother teaches the child the skills needed in life. The mother comforts the child when they are hurt. But, these things are negated if the mother cannot move beyond the hurts that were inflicted upon her in her formative or adult stages. Instead of pouring into the child with love, temperance, joy and peace, the mother gives the child hate, fear limitations and defeat. The latter fills the child with the poison of life instead of a passion for life, causing the child to go into the world ready to destroy and defile- and the cycle continues.

It is time out for the “Get over it.” rhetoric. It is time that we take the time to examine our wounds and realize that even if it didn’t happen to you personally there is someone close to you that has. Once we begin to not only talk about our pain but listen to another person’s agony- we will effectuate that pain can be triumphed by love.

Let us begin to open our ears, hearts and minds to one another instead of disregarding or overlooking them because of one’s outward appearance. When this is done, we will be to declare: “I’m not only my sister’s keeper, I AM my sister.”

Images found on http://www.google.com

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Better

I think that the world would be a lot better off if more people were to define themselves in terms of their own standards and values and not what other people said or thought about them. -Hillary Clinton

In my neighborhood sits a  50-year old school that almost everyone in my town has attended. The school started as a junior high school then evolved into an elementary school in which I attended in the early 90’s. During my time as a student there, the school was awarded as a school of excellence and to me was a magical land of education. When I was younger, I imagined my children attending this educational institution so that they could experience the same joys that I once felt, but over the years the school’s reputation had taken a dramatic decline.

Nevertheless, I had the privilege to do so and I also became involved with the school’s PTA better-lifeand School Council, until recently when I discovered that my 3rd grade daughter was close to being retained. Though I had many conferences with her teachers and kept her in tutoring programs, my daughter’s grade continued to take a dive.

After talking to my mother who had been an educator for more than 25 years, we decided that my daughter needed an ‘better’ environment and enrolled her into the school that my mother worked. I talked to the principal- who had been my mentor for years; and I relayed to him how much I didn’t want to send my daughter to another school.

“You have to do what’s best for your child Ms. Ladson.” was his only response.

In fact, every  time I open up about this situation, I’m met with this same expression.

“You have to do what’s best for your child Ms. Ladson.”

What could be better than walking my daughter to school every morning? Or talking with her teachers face to face? Or being able to enjoy eating lunch with her and her friends? What could be better than my daughter taking pride in her school that is right in her community?

To these questions- I continue to draw a blank.

In my opinion, the school isn’t a bad school because of it’s location. The school is a bad tomorrowschool because of the bad thoughts that people think towards the facility and the inhabitants of the community. The neighborhood is bad because the residents think of it as a trash can or a ghetto.

There is no better place than where we are right now. There is no better school than the schools in our neighborhoods. There is no one better to clean up our communities than us. There is no love better that the love we have for ourselves.

 

Only For A Limited Time

For one month out of a 12-month calendar year, the African American Community comes together to celebrate more than bhm400 years of achievements and strides made by our ancestors. In my youth, since I was so disconnected from my history, I felt like it was fitting for my people to learn of our rich and sordid pasts. I can remember being in the 9th grade getting upset that we no longer celebrated Black History month like we did in elementary and middle school. My friends and I would cause a ruckus when we did not hear of the great contributions of the people that fought for our civil liberties as African- Americans to be in desegregated classrooms and diners.

As I grew and began to learn of my ancestors, I began to question my motives.

My first question was: How can we fit 400+ years of achievements into a 28-day month without missing some great details?

My second inquiry was: Why is this one month the only month that my culture comes together to celebrate each other?

The second inquiry was the most pressing. For one month, there is minimal fights, thefts and deaths that take place in the urban community but the other eleven are  saturated with hate and fatalities. For one month my community is more loving and gracious for each other but as soon as March 1st arrives we are back to our same shenanigans of self-hate and more thancommunity degradation.

Why can’t we celebrate our ancestors all year round?  If our pride and love is only offered for a limited time, how will we move forward to accomplish more goals? Do we celebrate Black History month because we need to be reminded that we were more in unison with each other when we were enslaved?

I think that it would behoove us as a society to begin to embrace each other every day of the year to create a  new foundation of honor and respect for one another.  Until we begin the process of daily encouragement and education we will continue to be forced to look upon our former glory as we forfeit the potential of having a brilliant latter that our children and grandchildren can  look upon and embrace.

*Images found on http://www.google.com

In The Name Of

“The tendency to turn human judgement into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.” – George Harkness

I was in the 10th grade when the September 11th attacks took place. I was on my way to World History class where we were learning about The Crusades. When I entered the classroom I heard a reporter on the television, “Oh great!” I thought. “We’re watching a movie, NAP TIME!” I ran over to my desk to place my book bag on the floor, I looked up and saw an airplane crash into the side of the World Trade Center. For the days that followed I learned that the attack was crusadescaused by terrorists declaring war in the name of Allah and they were ready and willing to do more damage.

In the second semester of the  year that I attended college I took an Intro to Communications class and really enjoyed it (on the days that I decided to go). For a group assignment we were split into groups of five and were given a country to research and deliver an oral presentation. The group was to give each person a sub-topic that would describe the culture of the given province.

My group was given India and I was to research the religions that were practiced. I was truly overwhelmed with mixed emotions. On one hand, I was given an opportunity to learn something new and to talk about it. On the other, I had to present without any biases or judgement.  As I began to research, I discovered that the three major religions were all striving for “peace”. This took me aback because growing up in a Christian American home I had come to think that anything else outside of the name of Jesus was rebellion and anarchy.I remember going to church and denouncing anyone 2 is the loneliestthat worshiped anyone but Jesus Christ.

As I delved deeper into my research I realized that each religion had more things in common than they differentiated on. Just like Christianity- Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism encourages  peace and love through prayer and self-examination by submitting one’s self to the higher Divine Power. This finding caused me to ponder the reason for war in the world; so many wars have began in the name of God and the right religion.

“We’re all a part of the same One God” -Russell Simmons

That assignment awakened a thirst of spiritual knowledge for me and for the past couple of years I have found myself pinching a few practices of each religion and incorporating it into my daily quiet time.The more I learned of each religion, there were  less  reservations I held towards them. I have benefited from taking two 15-minutes breaks to be still and would like to practice Yoga in the near future. I have not gotten up to praying five times a day, but I do make a conscious decision to do so at least three. I have gleaned so much from all religions that I have gained a healthy eye and eyerespect for them all.

Religion forces us to fight for what’s right and destroy anything that is wrong while spirituality encourages us to see the Divine in all. With religion, we tend to focus on what we believe instead of the things that we should  know that are essential to have to be a positive force in our society.  When we release religion and embrace spirituality, we begin to realize that our Creator  is the Father of many. Like a good Father he wants all of His children to be healthy, productive  and happy.

 

*Images found on http://www.google.com

Salt

“The end did not forget the beginning, nor did the beginning remain sterile to the end.” – James V. Schall

 

“You were born a nigger, you gone be a nigger and you gone die a nigger.”  he  proclaimed smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

It pierced through my body, sending a shock that knocked  the breath out of me, awakening a quiet rage that swirled like kuntacreamer in coffee. In disbelief, I stood there hoping to wake up and it would all had been a dream. I felt my expression change as the blood began to rise to my face. The lump that always comes to my throat when I want to fight back my tears rose like a dam that was about to gush through the seams of my cheeks.

That phrase pulled me back into a past hurt that my ancestors bore. The more I tried to move past that pain, something inside of me kept me looking back at the shackles that my predecessors were forced to wear around their hands and feet. As I continued to reflect on all of the horrid depictions of the former, I became frozen in the thoughts of history and how it continued to repeat itself.

“Is that what you think of me?” I asked slanting my head hoping that through my glasses he saw more. More than the girl who had tried so hard to win the affections and respect that he rendered. More than a government dependent junkie waiting for her food stamps to come in. More than an affirmative action charity case from the bad side of the tracks. More than a “wannabe like him so I wouldn’t have to deal with remarks rendered by a society that had labeled me since birth” type of person

I don’t remember ever crying as much as I did that day. It was an angry cry. A cry that wanted to burn the building down and light a cigarette from the inferno. This was 2014 man! This was the present. We don’t say that word in this part of Georgia without  somebody getting cussed out or sent on to glory and here I was doing nothing but crying and regretting all of the things that I did not do.

afro loveI did not set the place on fire (Glory be), but I began to think about what made me so angry? For obvious reasons of course, you know the whole being black thing, but there was something beyond the surface that penetrated my makeshift  armor of being color blind  and liberal.

I had connected that word to the struggle that my ancestors fought. My great-grandmother was born into slavery and had endured  some of the most horrific things that even she did not want to speak about nor remember.But, it was there. Like a big pink elephant in a cramped room that no one wanted to address, the pain of the past. I associated the word with depictions of Kunta Kinte being whipped or Sethe being raped by School Teacher and his boys.

  “The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.” – Mary Pickford

Though slavery was a pain to my ancestors it does not have to be my pain today. That does not mean that it did not happen. Nor does it mean that I will forget it. It means that I will not allow that pain to keep me stuck in an uncontrollable rage that leaves me battered and wounded. It means that I have been given an opportunity to show my ancestors  that I appreciate the hardships that they endured yesterday to accommodate my dreams for today. It means that the next time that someone of any race-including my own, uses that word I will inform them that their ignorance will be the death of our society.

We cannot change what happened in our history nor can we open the minds that refuse to be opened. We can only strive the worldtoday to make our latter better than our former. If we continue to look back on what was we will be left  paralyzed and unable to make the necessary changes that our community needs today.Let us embrace the past as a point of reference  that teaches us to be grateful for the strides that we continue to make as a society, not as a pillar that leaves us powerless and pathetic.

* Images found on http://www.google.com

Too School For Cool (Journal Entry)

One of my super powers is learning. I love learning new things that others may deem trivial. In my skole, I watch documentaries or read books;a vitophilia that brings me great pleasure. For a long time I would hide this pleasure to be like others so I could be accepted. I thought that if I fit in for a while others would loosen up and allow me to finally be myself,  but the more I made alterations to myself, the more others seemed to find fault in me.

bookwormIn retrospect, I chose to neglect my zeal of learning because I didn’t want to be viewed as a phony  who was trying to be a “white girl”. I wanted to stay true to my race and be “hood”, because that was what being black was all about. I risked and forfeited many great opportunities because I was trying to “keep it real” with everyone but myself.

It took me a while to realize that the things that make me weird distinguishes me from others, and that’s not a bad thing at all. There is nothing wrong with intelligence because intelligence does not discriminate between race  or religion; intelligence is available  to those that are in constant pursuit of knowledge.  In fact,  our greatest leaders sought after intelligence with a color blindness that allowed them to speak and  reach groups of people who were once biased and calloused towards minorities.

When we put limits on our education we limit our potential to reach others from diverse  walks of life.smart girl

I am no longer afraid to admit that I enjoy reading, writing, museums, and most importantly thinking. I enjoy being optimistic and accentuating the positive. I watch Jeopardy every night and guess what, both of my parents are B-L-A-C-K! I am grateful for all of the things that make me who I am. I may not live up to the standards of the hood and that is just fine, truth be told, I think that the standards of the hood should be raised a couple of notches any way.

Our race does not determine our intelligence, our willingness to learn does.

 

* Images found on http://www.google.com

Paint It Black (A Poem)

You never know

who loves you

Until you paint it black

A big black

heart

Full of black love

The block won’t be right

Not til you paint it

Black

The struggle will go unnoticed

until you paint it

Black

Though white washed

and placed in this

Unrealistic world

with

Unrealistic goals

Forced to become an animal

Constantly in and out the

Cage

Paint it

Black

We will remember the color

No one will forget

The sidewalkthe futre

that was painted

Black

Humiliated

Degraded

The one’s you

Loved

You protected and

that’s why I take my

Pen

and paint my paper

With the colors of my neighborhood

Praying that the reader is

Saturated

with the

Thought

Feel and

Taste of

Black

* Image found on http://www.google.com

What I Saw ( A Poem)

I saw her

sitting in McDonald’s

without a care

Just sitting there

saying a prayer

Everyone else

was ordering

and taking orders

She sat

eyes closed tightlytranquil

Secretly calling on

His name

Praying

maybe asking

that her steps be ordered

Praying

Believing

Hoping

Knowing

Something had to change

* Images found on http://www.google.com

These Crows Ain’t Loyal

“The battle you are going through is not fueled by the words or actions of others; it is fueled by the mind that gives it importance.”  ― Shannon L. Alder

 

One of my favorite movies is The Wiz, an adaptation of the 1974 stage play written by Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown, that is a soulful rendition of the book The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. One of my most favorite scenes takes place in the corn field where the Scarecrow, played by  Michael Jackson, resides. Though he is supposed to scare the crows away, the Scarecrow befriends the crows and allows them to eat his corn with the hopes that the crows will help him down off his pole so he can walk around his garden.

crowsThough the Scarecrow is holding up his end of the bargain by permitting the crows to indulge, the crows have yet to take into consideration the wishes of the Scarecrow. Every  time the Scarecrow asked for assistance the crows tell him all of the reasons that he can’t get down and enjoy the garden. They remind him that he is only a scarecrow and a bad one at that, how could he possibly succeed in walking around. They remind him that he is made of trash and that even if he did get down it would not be worth his time and effort.

Since Scarecrow views the crows as his friends he believes their thoughts towards him. He allows the crows way of thinking to become the rules that he lived by daily and even pledges allegiance to those rules by singing The Crow Anthem:

You can’t win

You can’t break even

and you can’t get out of the game.

After singing this song, Scarecrow decides to stay on his post feeling defeated and hopeless, asking would anyone help him down off of his pedestal.  He is offered assistance by Dorothy, played by Diana Ross, and falls flat on his face. He is laughed at  and mocked by the crows,  which makes him believe that their thoughts of him being a failure were true.

Dorothy reassures the Scarecrow that he is not a failure, but  just a product of negative thinking. She takes the initiative to shoo away the crows, helps the Scarecrow practice walking and encourages him  to come with her to find the Wizard of Oz.

In past experiences I have ignored my desires and dreams because of negative things that people have said to me. I have changed the way that I dressed, acted and even whom I’ve dated because of the opinions of others. What others thought of me took precedence over  how I viewed myself and my abilities,  that I would be too fearful to truly be myself among my peers.  As others were out living their lives to the fullest, I found myself trapped inside the boxes that I had allowed others to place me in.

Our minds are the gardens of our souls, if we are not mindful of who we allow to frolic in our fields,  our minds  can become a landfill of trash and rotten fruit. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but that doesn’t mean that their opinions are bricksfacts. We cannot let negative comments keep us from fulfilling our goals and dreams. When we believe the cynical remarks of others we limit ourselves and begin to embody their pessimistic view of life. It is ultimately our beliefs that will push us towards greatness or usher us into defeat.

Though there may be times

that you wish you wasn’t born

and you rose one morning 

just to find your hope is gone

Just know that feeling only lasts  a little while

You just stick with us and we’ll show you how to smile

C’mon and ease on down the road!

*Pictures found on http://www.google.com

On a Role

” You have the power to say no.” -Sidney Portier

 

I can get so caught up on what people say about me sometimes, so much to the point that I begin to change things about myself to be accepted by them. I’ve always considered my self a plain Jane. I’ve never been interested in make-up, hair salons or nail salons, I’m more the Monday Night RAW type of girl or maybe a nice PBS documentary. Though some guys would enjoy watching RAW with me, most of them were not interested in the documentary, they were more prone to be with girls who were walking My-Size Barbie dolls that had interchangeable wigs.

At a young age, I realized that if I wanted to be accepted and have a boyfriend, I had to learn to keep up with the competition. I began to hang out with girls that I thought were prettier and began to let them mold me. This method worked for a while, until I discovered that now,everyone was fooling around- and if I wanted to stay in the crowd I had better get with the program.

Just because people may talk about it doesn’t really mean that they will do  it.brothas

In Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend plays Bobby Taylor, a young man that aspires to be a renowned actor. During the movie, you are allowed into the vivid imagination of an inner-city male who wants to leave his surroundings by pursuing his dreams. He has a set mind that he will accomplish his goals and has taken every precaution as an actor to ensure success;he acquired an agent, took acting classes and has even been on television.

Though he is an “professional’ actor, he only gets cast for stereotypical roles such as butlers, slaves and gang members.  Bobby knows that these roles demean him, but it is the only option that he seems to have so he decides to take what he can get. During an audition, Bobby sits next to another aspiring actor that tells him that these roles are beneath the both of them and that no one should be subjected to such degradation. Though the actor spoke poignantly he ultimately decided to be a part of the production.

After quitting his job and a long talk with a family member, he decides to put all of his attention into his acting career and receives a leading role in a movie playing a pimp. Though he is excited about the role,he still has a longing for a better part  that depicts him as a hero instead of scum. On the morning of the first day of filming, the matriarch of Bobby’s family, his grandmother spoke out against the life that Bobby was choosing to live.  Bobby’s mother tries to explain that this is bitchesBobby’s dream and that he needs the work.His grandmother combated with a single phrase:

“There is always work at the post office.”

During the filming of his first major role, Bobby Taylor began to think about the example that he was setting for his brother and the mockery that he was making of himself. He decided to give up the role and to go and work for the post office. Though his dream seemed deferred, he still had his integrity and his acting career was still secure. he even landed a role in a post office commercial.

At the age of thirteen I became an unwed teenage mother because I wanted to follow the crowd. I thought that having a boyfriend and a nice  outer appearance would make people want to be around  me, but it had the opposite effect on my life. I lost friends and the people who were once all gung ho  about me having sex began to whisper and make fun of my condition. By compromising myself and my true feelings towards those situations, I created a world of chaos for not only for myself-but for my child and my family also.

When we forfeit our identities to assume a role that was not meant for us we lose the focus of why we were created. We are not meant to fit inside the confines of boxes that people place on our lives. When we are brave enough to look naysayers square in the eyes and refuse to submit to their criticism, we take our power to be individuals.

We must be willing to say no to conformity and yes to creativity.

* Images found on http://www.google.com