in boldface.

all day, i thought about what i would write. some prolific, expansive, sweeping text that would move readers to tears and/ or action. i intended on changing minds and lives with some cleverness, something that even i could not anticipate creating. i was going to surprise and dazzle folks with my words.

but when i finally sat down to write, i felt like there were no words that could do justice to my feelings & thoughts.

i want us to be bold
be blissful
be brave
be better
be badass
be bountiful
be beautiful
be brighter

& in that we can heal ourselves and begin to pull it all together.

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being a bold, red winner today!

the phillies won the world series!

also:

today is be bold, be red day.

i’ll be back w/ an entry later.

i feel like i have to protect what’s mine

the sanity
the peace
the sanctuary
everything.

i’m less open to the bullshit. every day, my tolerance is less.
that does not bode well for the following:
assholes
abusers
know-it-all judgmental dickheads
haters
naysayers
& general ne’er-do-wells.

i won’t be laying with you, cosigning your shit, sitting idly by while you wreak havoc on the rest of humanity, or running interference for you.
your time is quickly drawing to a close.
i hope you got all your jabs in, because it’s just about over.
tip your bartender.

because i’m in a pep-talky mood.

jill scott, “sweet justice”

probably my favorite jill song. good for those days when you really do need to get your ass up & out, when you really need to motivate yourself, when it seems like whatever you’re doing is going to kill you instead of making you stronger, etc.

sweet justice
climb the mountain
though your hands may be weary
swim the ocean
though your legs may be tired
run the extra mile
though your stride may be worn down
fight, fight, fight, fight
never surrender

sweet justice

many sides to the same face
searching, wanting their hour
so many colors in the spectrum of life
with right lies the power
struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle
struggle only makes a man stronger
if he believes within his heart then he can find it
he will find it

sweet justice
sweet justice

freedom, the epitome of life
lay your down your burden, soldier
study, study war no more, no more
trust the soul that thrives within you
hold strong to your faith
continue, continue, continue on, on

sweet justice
sweet justice
sweet justice
sweet justice

he had a wife. & a girlfriend.

me.

well, they weren’t legally wed, as far as i knew. but they had a baby on the way. they shared a lease. that was enough for me. i’m the product of a roaming dick of a father, and as such i’ve always felt like i had to respect others’ exclusivity, even if they didn’t. because that meant i respected myself. i prided myself on holding myself above and beyond all of that talk show shit. he said he did, too. but that began to unravel before long. he looked at me too longingly, was too quick to ask me out for drinks after work. he was entirely too quick, with the baby due any day, to ask me flat out, “when’s the last time you had some good dick, girl?” i felt like it had to be the booze talking, we had been hanging out in a group setting, and he offered to drive me home clear on the opposite side of the city from where he lived, and we did decide to go cut a rug, and we both worked crazy ass hours, so why not take some time to ourselves to blow off steam? he’d just had too much to drink, and i needed a ride home . . . it was late. taking the bus home in january in philly . . . i wasn’t really dressed for night time temperatures, just my work clothes . . .
but i knew he was wrong. he was wrong. he knew better. i knew better. at the time, i was a believer that anyone with 3 years of age on me and the vast life experience he had should have behaved like the mature one. above all, i felt like i had to remind him that he still had something/ someone to go home to. he had a reason not to be out with me at 3 in the morning, and it wasn’t either of our obligations to work the next day. there was a baby that they had already named and prepared for. it was her possible entry into active labor. and what did i do?

nothing. let it progress. because i wanted, very badly, to feel admired. i am a sensation junkie. he stimulated my mind more than anything else, did a damn good job of it. most importantly, he represented an impossibly pleasant distraction (oh, the text messages, the myspace wall posts, the crazy ass emails!) from the madness surrounding me. at work. transitioning from my mom’s (probably for the last time) to cohabitation with a girlfriend of mine. drama at work. there was so much to process, so much to ignore . . . the endless drinks (and nutritionally deficient “meals” at the bar) impeded the flood of madness that threatened to drown me. i had to move out of the old apartment in north philly and high-tail it to the land of trolleys and ethiopian restaurants. i was having what some may call a spiritual awakening in regard to my study of the yoruba faith. i was learning, growing, changing . . . and still shaking off the vestiges of old beliefs about myself. i don’t say this to say that i didn’t know what i was doing. i knew, but had no way of gaging the impact on myself. getting to know him was getting old, fast. but i wasn’t quite finished. i have this thing where i always have to double and triple check even when i know i’m right in the first place (conversely, i never double-check the possible missteps or bad fucking ideas). so as i double checked and triple checked, it got uglier. things deteriorated.

i learned the hard way that a mutual friend (trust, i now use that phrase lightly) took my confidence in her and turned it into something it wasn’t. all of a sudden i, the fiercely independent, perpetually single one was that bitch. hungry, needy, trying to get in anywhere i could for the sake of validation. it was a play upon fears and a major exaggeration of words that, in context, were more consistent with my real self than this skewed portrait she’d painted of me. at the time i wasn’t even aware of the weight of it. but i became more clear on it after a while. a bunch of shit she was into, which is completely inconsequential to me at this point, had her acting like she had zero home training.
but, back to me. cuz this is my blog & it’s about me.
i was in the early stages of picking the whole mess apart. i didn’t wanna fuck him anymore. the one time we messed around left me feeling like anything further would be less than satisfying to me. i had already moved into my new place. i didn’t need to vent to anyone anymore about the bobby & whitney ass shit my roommate was into. i didn’t need him for the distraction anymore. just as i was figuring out exactly what purpose he served in my life, we had this mindblowingly unilateral conversation (i let it be that way, i know when to shut my mouth) & that was that, for the most part. some other shit popped off months down the line that is not even worthy of note here.
years removed, i’ve gained a lot of clarity. i’ve lost contact w/ most of the folks associated with that mess. and i rather enjoy the distance. i have no regrets. i know now: the first time should be the last when it comes to being offended. you can’t trust anyone who’s afraid of the hair that grows out of her own scalp (at least, i can’t). if he’s dumb enough to bring you up in his house after the fact, you need to make that the last interaction. follow your gut instinct; call a spade a spade.
above all: no matter what they say or do, they are only human & therefore no more important or special or favored or loved by the most high than you are.

polishing my gun

(a stream of consciousness)

for every woman left alone to labor
for every child damaged by those who should be giving care
for every man who fits the description
for every person who’s been watched more closely or ignored altogether for being brown
for the birth trauma survivors, mothers and children both
for every hottentot, jezebel, mammy, hot-in-the-ass teen mother and bust it baby
for every person who’s simply trying to practice love, regardless of a religion
for every unnamed man with his nuts in his mouth and a noose around his neck
for every person who’s ridden a train, hidden in a vehicle, or walked endlessly to come to this side
for every girl who aspired to become a boi, and every boy who ever aspired to become a gyrl
for every woman who couldn’t rhyme along anymore because when they got to that part of the song, everyone was looking at her booty instead of ol girl in the video
para los antepasados (iba ara torun. mojuba awo egungun! modupe-o!)
for everyone whose life is worth it
whether they know it or not
i choose to fight
i wouldn’t have it any other way
because the love motivates me
because the love is reflected to me
i’m a humble servant of the people
red black & green
these are the colors that don’t run

in my dreams again.

him. the crush.

this time, there was lots of touch. some good jokes. skin-to-skin contact. we were sitting in my bed. a few times he climbed over me to get something off the dresser. other times he walked into the kitchen to get me something to drink or eat. i wasn’t sick, but simply the center of attention.
and the last time my alarm went off, i was waiting for him to come back. i was expecting a kiss. anticipating our fingers to be entangled and our foreheads to touch, for there to be some whispered compliments and some sharing of extremely private jokes.
but i had to wake up.
to nothing but a wisp of a memory.

the case for cuddlejawns.

(before we begin: a cuddlejawn is just what it sounds like. a jawn with whom you cuddle. i’m from philly. sue me.)

1) cuddling is good for the environment!
if you’re cuddling (fully clothed, nude, partially clothed, socks only) with another grown person, chances are that a considerable amount of body heat will be generated. you and your cuddlejawn will save money on energy bills! radiator on the fritz? call your cuddlejawn. afraid of your gas bill? holla at your girl/ boy. don’t feel like playing with that space heater? pick up the phone! get a blanket, and you just might set the night on fire! rawr.

2) cuddling is good for your self-esteem.
because, you see, that 10 lbs you’re still tryna shake won’t have to come off. that extra body on your body needs cushioning! knowing that you’re divine just the way you are will do wonders for you, dear heart. it gives your cuddlejawn an even stronger reason to keep coming back for more of your good old boolovin!

3) you get to show off your extensive knowledge of foods/ beverages.
everyone knows that there’s nothing better than a good plate of tasty morsels or a glass of something fly AND arms that warmly await you. and if the mutually agreed-upon cuddlejawn arrangement is going well i believe that food items will keep things going along swimmingly. besides, who the hell wants to be the trifling motherfucker who invites people over and never feeds or attempts to hydrate them? especially a cuddlejawn? show your gratitude by making sure there are yummy and new snacks.

4) this arrangement may be one of the healthiest relationships you ever have.
so many of us go into situations with others hoping against hope that s/he doesn’t turn out to be crazy/ clingy/ unreasonable/ looking for a husband/ looking for a wife/ looking for a parental figure . . . without making sure that everyone’s pretty much on the same page from the onset. so, with your cuddle jawn arrangement being essentially about cuddling and not sexual intercourse (not at first. where it goes next is your business.), i daresay it’s impossible to get caught up in a snare of emotional bullshit. sex might complicate things for some of us, while for others it brings clarity. your job as a cuddlejawn is to be precisely what your cuddlejawn needs. that means everyone gets their needs met within the parameters of the arrangement. no hurt feelings. who doesn’t want to be held without the pressure of a bunch of shit that has little to nothing to do with them? think on it.

5) boolovin might save us from ourselves.
you ever encounter a motherfucker who quite clearly needs a hug and/ or some kind words? don’t you ever think that they should get that hug? those kind words? something to help them feel less miserable and stabby? i bet if they had a cuddlejawn they’d be at least tolerable. yupper. watch, y’all, and see! the boolovin might make you think twice about slappin the fuck out of your coworker. it may make you more alert during the work day. i mean, there are studies done on infants who are touched lovingly/ receive infant massage that suggest that these kids grow up smarter than those who are touched only when it’s necessary (or whatever the control is). i say go for it. who doesn’t wanna be loved upon more often?

and, i’d also like to suggest that cuddling may lead to some very rewarding, fulfilling adult interactions. this is the foreplay of life.
go find you a cuddlejawn!

this post has been brought to you by buckwild apiaries, inc., purveyors of honey love and boolovin.

my slap a motherfucker button is being pressed.

hard. because of this.

“i’m afraid if he wins, the blacks will take over.”
really?
word?

you think “we” (like every black person is secretly united against your white asses and anyone who could possibly undermine our goals of world domination via newports and malt liquor) are waiting with baited breath for obama to win so we can come out in droves to destroy your pure christian nation of amber waves of grain and virgins? like, the second the inauguration ceremony ends, this man decides to paint the white house black for real? is he gonna pass a mandate that the new endangered species is listed as the educated black man? the fbi’s ten most wanted list is changed to list folks who owe barack and/ or michele obama over 500 USD? are the darkies gonna take to the streets in celebratory dance like the big liberation scene in the wiz? oh, waaaaaaaaaaaiiiit. i know now: the bald eagles will all be caught and deep-fried like so many thanksgiving turkeys, then served on the lawn of the white house on paper plates w/ ronald reagan’s coffin as a table. it’ll be the takeover dinner.

“the blacks” are as varied in opinion as “the whites,” “the latinos,” and every other group in american society. some of us are for him. some of us are against him. others are undecided or not voting for either of the big-party candidates. ridiculous. dry that shit up. secondly, a good number of “us” are not thinking about you in middle america. we, like you, have normal and everyday concerns: bills, food, family, jobs, etc. i hate to even discuss my similarities to such simpletons, but we’re all having very human experiences right now. nobody has any fucking money. you’re worried about ppl who look like me taking over this country? booboo kitty, people who look like you have not been doing a bang-up job, i don’t know if you’ve noticed. the system doesn’t effing work — who gives a hot wet fuck what color the top dog is or isn’t? would the sheer pride of seeing “one of us” in the white house automatically mobilize ppl who identify as black in such a way that we decided to just magically pull it all together and start . . . doing what?
what does ‘taking over’ even entail?
exactly.
simple asses.

and i won’t address the “muslim thing.”
i refuse to discuss what seems to be the prevailing anti-obama (or decidedly anti-democrat, possibly even anti-black) song & dance: these niggers got student loans and took too long paying them back! um, i’m sorry — i had one loan and that was because i quit school after a year and a half. do you know how long it took me to pay it off? about 3 years, and i didn’t even go to the ever-expensive harvard or yale. this is so dumb. are those who criticize michelle and/ or barack obama aware that the FAFSA is for everyone? are they aware that havard’s law school site itself discusses the extension of loan repayment for graduates who do not go into six-figure jobs straightaway? come on. this is just plain ridiculous.

i won’t dedicate much more time to this, as i need to go to bed.

but i genuinely do hope that the scales begin to fall from folks’ eyes. if not immediately or in time for election day, then soon enough that they are able to save themselves from the madness that has engulfed this land.

but what do i know?
i’m just polishing my illegally obtained gun so i can “take over” on inauguration day.

be bold, be red: october 30.

mil gracias a nezua for posting this on umx, and reminding me to begin with!

Be Bold Be Red Goes Viral Loco Visual

Beloved Survivors, Warriors, Allies, Activists, Organizers, Artists, Healers, Visionaries, Sisters and Friends,

In October 2007 people all over the United States gathered physically and in spirit to speak out against violence against women of color. Some of us wore red all day and explained that we were reclaiming and reframing our bodies as a challenge to the widespread acceptance of violence against women of color. Some of us wrote powerful essays about why we were wearing red and posted them on the internet. Some of us gathered with bold and like-minded folks and took pictures, shared poetry and expressed solidarity.

This year, on the first anniversary of the Be Bold Be Red Campaign, we invite you to make your bold stance against the violence enacted on women and girls of color in our society visible. In D.C., Chicago, Durham, Atlanta and Detroit women of color will be gathering to renew our commitment to creating a world free from racialized and gendered violence, and this time, we’ll be using a new technology called CyberQuilting to connect all of these gatherings in real time. To learn more about CyberQuilting, which is a women of color led project to stitch movements together using new web technologies and old traditions of love and nurturing, visit www.cyberquilt.wordpress.com.

This letter is an invitation for you and yours to participate in a gathering in your city on Thursday, October 30th that will be webcast to similar gatherings in other cities. We are calling on you because we recognize and appreciate the work that you and the organizations you work with are doing everyday to make this a more loving and less violent world for women and girls in oppressed communities. Please join us on October 30th so that other warriors in this struggle can be strengthened and affirmed by the energy of our collective ferocity!

If you are not located in D.C., Chicago, Durham, Atlanta and Detroit for the webcast, you can still participate by wearing Red on October 30, 2008 and send us your pictures to beboldbered@gmail.com

Also we are asking once again that people wear Red on October 30, 2008 and send us your pictures to beboldbered@gmail.com

As we receive them we will upload your pictures under “Red Pictures Today.”

Also, as well as to share your stories of Red on this website under “Why are you wearing Red on October 30, 2008.”

So, are you ready?!

grow up pretty. get a good man.

do something about that skin
try to find a style that makes your hair grow long and pretty
don’t get seconds on that, you know you need to lose weight
sit with your legs closed, especially in skirts and dresses
learn how to walk in high heels
there are nice boys at church
if you never stop sucking your thumb how are you ever gonna smile pretty?
don’t be so aggressive
you talk too loud
why are you always talking?
don’t correct people, it makes them feel inferior
you should wear more dresses
you need a girdle
we aren’t the kind of family that advocates that; we’re christians
why didn’t you just finish college?
you’re too smart to be anywhere except school
okay, when are you gonna have babies?
why are you living there?
what’s that food you’re eating?
when are you going back to school?
you don’t live here, you can’t do that
you can’t afford that, can you?
why would you spend $12 on breakfast? you too good for the cart or mcdonald’s?
i didn’t know you spoke spanish, you just be spittin that shit like [unintelligible]
can you tell me where to find a poetry reading? why not?
why don’t you smile more?
girls don’t dance with girls around here, no matter what
no, i know what you’re trying to do
my mom said you’re not as cute as you think you are
do you sing? why don’t you sing something?
why do you always have to be right?
why don’t you fight back?
why don’t you have a man?
are you gay?
_____ is weird; you probably know him/ her.
turn the music down, nobody wants to hear that foreign shit.
who ever told you that you can have whatever you want just because you want it?
do you and your sisters really all have the same father?
why are you so preachy?
you can make money being a doula/ midwife/ crafter?
you’re high maintenance
you’re weird
you’re spoiled
you must come from money w/ an attitude like that, cuz if you don’t . . .
i don’t know where you get these airs from
why do you switch so hard when you walk?
you know you want this dick, girl
i’ma pray that god changes your mind about that
happy birthday (via text, when i call you all the time)
you sure you gonna wear that?
you always got some weird — no, i’m sorry, different — shit on
you talk in circles. all women do, actually
you use your feelings to navigate the world; that’s illogical
don’t do that, that’s not what nice girls do
what do you mean you don’t believe in jesus?
you gave up on moving to new york, didn’t you?
get outta here w/ that boho shit
you don’t know a good thing when you see it
what made you think you could fuck him too?
i mean, you could be my girl if you . . .
oh, no, we’re not exclusive . . . where’d you get that from?
you’re trippin, this could never happen
why aren’t you writing?
what are you writing about?
stop writing about me
you’re phony
you’ll never have a man
can’t you just be normal?
when can we expect payment?
you aren’t any different from anyone else, get that idea out of your head right now

this post is the result of attempting to empty my head of any and everything that’s ever stuck to me and made me feel like i’m not a divinely blessed being. may every last bit of it be removed from my mind and set free on the wind, never to return to me.

no fancy way to say it.

i am simply tired of the shit i am surrounded with.
the entitlement-sparked intrusion by overgrown toddlers with full beards and pubic hair. i am sick and tired of having my confidence assaulted and chipped away at by this sick bullying disguised as health care. i do not believe in the innate “need” of women to be taken care of or give care to their male mates. it is my contention that crying babies should not be dismissed or shushed because holding them “spoils” them. i cannot allow myself to be convinced that my responsibility to the world is tied specifically to my having a functioning uterus. i will never, ever, ever find myself legitimizing the notion that just any old thing is better than nothing; this applies to food, shelter, and especially persons in my cipher. i do not subscribe to the idea that children (especially girls) have “no business,” no opinions worth considering, or no rights. i will never, ever, ever take lightly the implication that transgendered people are ever anything less than humans.

i could go on endlessly about the million and one ways in which i go against this grain, this current of hate and destruction, self loathing and miserable dichotomy. i won’t. i just had to get some of this shit off my chest.

toot toot! heeeeeeeey, beep beep!

it’s my birthday.
i’m thankful for:

love
considerate friends
4-packs of moscato
how far i’ve come
where i’m headed
ashé & amen.

sonic crack.

this is all nezua’s fault. there. i said it. IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT, MAN! i’d shake an angry fist at you but i’m too.busy.dancing.must.stop.dancing.CANNOT.STOP.DANCING.

shit.

i can’t get this song out of my head. i will be dancing to this whenever i get married to whomever is perfect enough to want to wake up to this very song at least once a week (and me, but the song is just as important) . . . holy shit.
i love it.
turn it up LOUD if you’re not at work. or if you have headphones. hell, just turn it up anyway. chair dance, cubicle refugees!
prepare yourself to fall fully in love with the synth of it all.

*ahem*

the knife, “you take my breath away”

(and homegirl on the right? her makeup is killing it. don’t think i won’t do some shit like that. cuz i will.)

safety is neither a luxury nor a privilege.

** TRIGGER ALERT * *
if you are sensitive to mentions of rape, molestation, or other violent acts you may not want to read this post.

he was her first boyfriend. she wasn’t really a fan of the boys we’d gone to high school with, so college created a new opportunity: an abundance of black men to admire and possibly date. but she didn’t even take it that far. this one was a neighbor. we grew up jumping rope with his sister. i didn’t like him. thought he was a know-it-all dickhead with poor fashion sense and no knowledge of when to shut the fuck up. but she’s my sister; i’m never gonna like anyone for her.
so they dated. she spent lots of time at his father’s house across the street, walked with him to his mom’s house about a mile away, and i tried to ignore the whole fucking thing. i told our friends “i don’t like him,” but they just assumed that i was being protective as big sister. i wasn’t. i genuinely did not believe that anything good could come from the two of them dating for the year or so that they did.

i was right. i didn’t know how right i was until this past december, when my sister told me that this foolish boy raped her. i stopped dead in my tracks and started crying. it all made sense: her uncharacteristic and constant uneasiness, the brooding, the slight touch of OCD, the near-fundamentalist ways in which she worshipped christ, flying headfirst into work instead of allowing herself to kick back or goof off . . . my loving, bright, kind, just, fair, beautiful sister . . . shattered
by someone who himself was the product of abuse & dysfunction, someone who did not respect the safety of another human being enough to leave well enough alone and believe in no when she said no.

i was livid, hurt, sad, tired, angry, shocked . . . all those things. and i still am. i never felt inadequate as an elder sibling, not through my college dropout situation or my towering financial woes, not through the shacking up w/ an ex-boyfriend to the chagrin of my entire family . . . none of it. but i wished at that exact moment that she had reached out to me 7 years ago. i wished at that exact moment that i had been able to read the terror in her face when she could not speak of it. i wished at that exact moment for the chance to travel back and take her out of that equation — not to share the pain with any other woman, but simply to save my sister. i never had to defend her, she always fought for herself
and here she was telling me that her light was nearly stomped out.
i told her she didn’t ever have to apologize. “i haven’t told anyone except my therapist because . . .”
in my head, i was screaming. no. fuck the therapist. call mommy. call every grimy person you know. let’s do this. his ppl still live across the street, all we need is to catch him coming out of the fucking house . . . . so what he’s got a girl and a baby — they ain’t got shit to do with it! i want to kill him with my bare hands. he doesn’t deserve air in his fucking punk ass lungs! why should this piece of shit have the luxury of going unpunished for raping my sister? who else has he done this to? why is he alive?

i resigned myself to doing and saying nothing. i nodded and told her i loved her. i went to the house that night. she asked me to come over, because of something else that happened to her which was a trigger. i was thankful for and resentful of the situation all at once. i stood beside her as her sister, and played the role she wanted me to. she never made a rumble for fear of upsetting something/ someone. she didn’t want to have to explain that she had already had sex w/ this bastard and that he didn’t understand her desire not to do so; she didn’t want to be blamed; she didn’t want the weight that often comes with speaking the truth. she thought she would have to stand alone. she did not know that she could stand tall and strong. she didn’t know . . . my sister did not know that coercion was the source of my first sexual experience with a man. she didn’t know how many women experience that (as adults, adolescents, as elders and especially as children) and swallow it up . . . and how likely it was that she’d not be shamed for something that was not in any way her fault. that she was not less of a woman or less of a human being because of something she could not stop, that she is not presently less of a woman or human being because of his wish to destroy the part of her that shone brightest.

and it is because of her story, the stories of so many women i do and don’t know that i say safety is neither a luxury nor a privilege. it is a right.