Tag Archives Black Lives Matter

I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but 2015 Was Actually Pretty Okay

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When I considered writing an end of the year retrospective, my face scrunched up in disgust as I reflected on 2015. Not my favorite year by a longshot. So much of it felt like a continuous struggle – like I’m in the middle of a significant lesson which I’ve tired of learning. Part of that may be the depression talking. It’s been one of the roughest years for me in a long while on that front and I know how much it can cloud and distort a person’s view of situations. A year is a fairly arbitrary measure of time and in the space of those bookends much transpired – good, bad and adjectives in between. There are layers to this life thing.

Instead of dwelling on the year’s lows and looking at the year simplistically, I opted to capture the essence of each month – a reflection of what was going during that period in time – including the books I read, TV shows I binged, trips I took and posts I wrote that resonated with people. It turns out that 2015 wasn’t as “garbage” as I initially thought.

2015: Year in Review

January

Highs: Woke up in Prague after a fun New Years Eve. • Designed and ordered my first box of business cards as a writer and blogger. • Was excited to be followed by Taye Diggs on Twitter until I found out he follows practically everyone.

2015, like every other year, had it's highs and lows. It's important not to let the lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears..." on The Girl Next Door is Black
Just hanging out in Prague on New Year’s Day 2015 | Sculpture: In Utero by David Černý

Lows: Driving 90 miles north to UC Davis’ Veterinary School to see if my beloved, 13-year old cat has cancer (inconclusive, tests are $$$$)
Binge-watched: Frasier (all seasons – there are 11!), The Originals (s1)
Read: The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year ☆☆☆☆☆
Traveled: Prague • Warsaw
Wrote: GoodBye Weave; Hello Curls! (Most viewed post in January and in all of 2015)

February

Highs: Littlest sister visited from Texas!
Lows: Littlest sister went back home.

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
Showed my sister one of San Francisco’s favorite ways of spending a sunny afternoon – at Dolores Park: picnicking, drinking, smoking, “smoking”, laughing, celebrating, etc. We ate the best strawberries that day. I scored three baskets of plump berries for $5 from a street vendor in The Mission. I almost felt like I got away with something.

Binge-watched: Frasier cont’d • Arrow (s1-3 )
Read: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple ☆☆☆☆
Wrote: Essential Blogging Resource Guide (one of the top 3 “pinned” posts in 2015)

March

Highs: A photographer friend profiled me on his site • Heard Talib Kweli speak on race and hip-hop at The Commonwealth Club • A friend sent me surprise flowers for my birthday. I love surprises like that!
Lows: Not being able to fly to Texas to celebrate my (Texas) mom’s milestone birthday
Binge-watched: Arrow cont’d • House of Cards (s1-3)
Read: Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America by Eugene Robinson ☆☆☆☆
Wrote: No, I’m Not a Mommy (most comments of the year)

My dad actually recommended this book to me and mailed me his copy. I’m glad he did because I found it enlightening. I highly recommend this book if you want to learn more about Black Americans of today – the media only gives attention to a small segment – and the socioeconomic factors which underlie our progress and pitfalls in the US.

April

Highs: Being invited as a guest on a radio show. I thought my nerves were going to get the best of me, but I did it and I didn’t make myself look like a fool! • Caught up with a good friend from L.A. who was passing through San Francisco for a blip. We laughed so hard; it was just what I needed.
Lows: The Uprising in Baltimore, Maryland after the death of Freddie Gray – specifically the way many mainstream media outlets distorted events, as well as how excessive policing goaded and further traumatized people already in emotional distress.
Binge-watched: Marvel’s Daredevil • Bones (s5-9)
Wrote: 5 Myths About Black Americans That Need to Disappear (4th most popular post of the year)

May

Highs: My friend’s super fun bachelorette weekend in Palms Springs • Attended my first blog conference (Bloggy Boot Camp in Temecula – Nia Peeples was there!) • Reunited with my Europe travel buddy for a weekend
Binge-watched: Bones cont’d
Traveled: Palm Springs • Temecula / San Diego
Wrote: Not Your Grandparents’ Brand of Racism

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
In Palm Springs I had a carefree weekend

June

Highs: Watched two friends who seem made for each other get married • Saw an excellent and poignant one-woman show at The Marsh called Black Virgins Are Not for Hipsters • Danced to tracks spun by Ryan Hemsworth at 1015 Folsom • Saw Kim Kardashian talk about the sexual objectification of women in the media (yes, really) at The Commonwealth Club (While I’ve never been her biggest fan, I have to admit she gives a charming interview and is likely smarter than she’s given credit for). My friend J and I are now technically in an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians since the cameras were there with Kim and panned over the audience.

A friend sent me an email out of the blue saying “write a book please” – it meant a lot. • Bree Newsome climbed a flagpole and took down the anachronistic Confederate Flag waving in front of South Carolina’s capitol building!
Lows: A delusional white supremacist befriended and then murdered 9 black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church. Being in the office – where I was one of very few black employees – feeling alone in mourning the lives lost, because no one else seemed care about what had happened – at least not to the degree I did.
Binge-watched: Orange is the New Black (s2-3)
Read: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ☆☆☆☆
Wrote: Don’t Call Me “Girl”

July

Highs: First BlogHer conference •  Spent time with my (New York) mom and my grandparents • Took in another one woman show, this time by Anna Deavere Smith called Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education at Berkeley Rep – disquieting commentary on the US educational system and the “school-to-prison” pipeline. • BlogHer.com picked up my post What Emotions Am I Allowed to Have as a Black Woman for syndication!

BlogHer 2015 is hands down the best conference I’ve ever attended. Among many highlights: I learned  more than I probably am even aware; shared an inspiring moment of solidarity led by the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement; met one of the bloggers I admire, Awesomely Luvvie (and acted like a fool incapable of forming proper sentences); listened with great interest as the talented film director Ava DuVernay imparted words of wisdom; and engaged in refreshingly honest discussion on sexual harassment, intersectional feminism, and domestic violence helmed by three formidable women behind a few of the most powerful “hashtag activism” movements on Twitter in recent years.

I also met some wonderful new people, and to wrap it all up we celebrated with a party where Boyz II Men performed, Nick Cannon DJed, we “whip and nae nae”d, and dined on all the McDonald’s we could eat!

Lows: My friend died from cancer  • In a case of police abuse that hit frighteningly close to home, a 28-year old black woman named Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell under extremely suspicious circumstances – after a questionable arrest. This just weeks after the murders in Charleston. Again, working in the office – trying to get through the day coherently and without breaking into tears – seemed like a form of self-flagellation.
Binge-watched: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt • Veep
Read: The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman ☆☆☆☆
Traveled: New York
Wrote: What Emotions Am I Allowed to Have as a Black Woman? (3rd most popular post of the year)

August

Highs: Reunited with my friends/favorite ex-coworkers to celebrate the life of our friend E- who died in July • Caught up other good friends in Los Angeles for Mexican food • Went to a San Francisco Giants game with a friend in town from L.A. • Surprised and honored to be included in Quirky, Brown Love’s 200 Amazing Black Bloggers (among great company).
Lows: The reason for the reunion • Took an unscheduled break from blogging to recharge

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
My friend E’s brother is on the far right; along with E, the rest of us worked at the same company for several years and became good friends. We dined in Koreatown in honor of some of E’s favorite things – good food, good drink and lots of meat.

Read: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins ☆☆☆☆☆ • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates ☆☆☆☆☆ • The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae ☆☆☆☆
Traveled: Los Angeles
Wrote: White Supremacy: I Don’t Know How Much More of It I Can Handle

September

Highs: Visited my Vegas grandmother, got her signed up for seniors’ internet classes at her local library, helped her secure her membership at the ‘Y’ where she now enjoys taking chair yoga, and took her shopping because as I told her, just because you’re working out doesn’t mean you should dress any ol’ way and she was going to be a “fly granny.” 79 and still going strong. Get it granny! • Second youngest sister visited from Texas! • Danced my butt off at the Oakland Music Festival with said sister. • Invited onto The Unconventional Woman Podcast as a guest.
Lows: Had a mammogram to check out a lump (everything’s fine). • Second youngest sister returned home.
Binge-watched: Sliders (re-watched series) • Power
Traveled: Las Vegas
Wrote: San Francisco, I Think I’m Over You

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
Sister selfie at The Palace of Fine Arts

https://www.instagram.com/p/8Mjn-qKrjh/

October

Highs: Saw the hilarious duo, Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu, from one of my favorite podcasts Another Round at Popup Magazine’s inventive evening of live storytelling • Took Mattieologie’s Full Time Formula webinar on making real income as a blogger that got me all fired up • Caught up with two former co-workers • For Harriet published my piece Growing Up “Keisha” in a World of Ashleys and Joshes! • Did an urban hike on Halloween with the Outdoor Afro Club and my friend K (black people like the outdoors too!).
Binge-watched: Person of Interest (s1-4) • Charmed (re-watched from the beginning)
Wrote: Growing Up “Keisha” in a World of Ashleys and Joshes

November

Highs: With my second youngest sister, I spent my first Thanksgiving in over 20 years with my (New York) mom and her side of the family. Met a bunch of new-to-me and new-to-this-earth cousins. • Saw a live taping of The View and softened toward Raven; DJ Tanner was there!; left with a $100 gift card to Lulu’s and an Alessia Cara CD (the musical guest on the show).
Lows: A job I wanted that would have allowed me to work remotely didn’t pan out
Binge-watched Chicago Fire (whole series) • The Fosters (s3) • Being Mary Jane (whole series)
Read: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ☆☆☆☆☆ • Syrup: A Novel by Max Barry ☆☆☆☆☆
Traveled: New York
Wrote: Quit Talking about the Lack of Diversity and Do Something

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
My sister and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan for the first time

December

Highs: Hung out with a high school classmate I haven’t seen since we graduated almost 20 years ago • Traveled to my 5th continent – Asia • Came in 2nd in my fantasy football league (I started playing again; I’m a hypocrite.) • Checked out a cat café in Oakland. So cute.
Binge-watched: Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce • Casual 
Read: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs ☆☆☆☆☆
Traveled: Ho Chi Minh City, all over Cambodia, Bangkok, Shanghai

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
Oh, I also tried fried tarantula in Cambodia (just a leg). It was…crunchy.

Once I put it all down, it’s clear that I have a lot to be grateful for this year. It’s far too easy to focus on what you don’t have, haven’t accomplished, who’s not with you, or how much money you didn’t make. It’s important not to let the year’s lows overshadow its’ memorable highlights.

I am healthy, I have a safe place to live, I don’t have to search for food, my family is safe and generally healthy, I have friends and people who love me. So take that depression!

With all that said, 2016 I hope you are planning to bring it.

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
According to Spotify I pretty much listened to Drake this year with breaks for Kanye and A$AP Rocky.

How did you feel about 2015? What were your highs and lows? What did you watch/listen to/read/create? Travel anywhere interesting?

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Stop Lecturing Black People on How to Behave

Over the weekend I had the displeasure of reading some of the most insulting, patronizing collection of words penned by a man of supposed higher education.

In an LA Times op-ed Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor at NYU, and judging by his photos, decidedly not Black, deemed it necessary to take to a national newspaper to tell Black students how to behave and advise university faculty and administration on how to treat them. Not only did he step out of his lane to admonish America’s least favorite ethnic minority, he had the nerve to use the name and highly regarded words of Black writer Ralph Ellison to do so.

Here we go again.

It’s almost inevitable that after each Black Lives Matter protest (or any protest where the majority of the faces are Black), particularly those which the news reports as “violent,” sanctimonious White people will finger wag at Black people, twisting the legacy of Reverend Dr. King to fit their narrative with some variation of: “Dr. King would be appalled by this behavior.

In fact, there is such a history of white people talking down to their Black peers the same way one speaks to a child, that there’s a term for it: white paternalism. What Jonathan Zimmerman wrote in his needless piece – without irony – smacks of this, no matter how academically he couches it.

He writes:

Ellison would be appalled by our current moment on American campuses, where the damage thesis has returned with a vengeance.

The arrogance to presume one could know how Ralph Ellison – born only two generations after slavery was abolished – would view today’s Black student rights’ movement. A growing movement with a should-be simple request – to be treated with the same respect, and afforded the same opportunities, as their white classmates.

Zimmerman goes on to say:

I don’t doubt that African American students — and other minorities at our colleges — experience routine prejudice and discrimination.

[But, now I am going to undermine what I just said by dismissing the students’ grievances as simply a matter of hurt “feelings.”]

If we let ourselves be governed by feelings, we’ll go down a rabbit hole of competing grievances and recriminations.

What’s the competition? Students requesting they not be subjected to racial abuse by ignorant classmates and faculty; better representation among faculty and students; initiatives to aid in retention of students of color; and increased (or new) campus-wide racial sensitivity education programs – to name only a few of the students’ demands – isn’t about winning.

It’s about the same thing it’s always been about: Black people having to fight white systems tooth and nail to get access to the same opportunities and see equitable treatment.

If there’s a competition, Black people have always been at the back of the pack, and the US has a long history of doing everything it can to keep us there.

This isn’t just about “hurt feelings.” This isn’t a game. This is about survival.

This is about people having to demand they be treated as human beings.

It’s about having to prove to people whom – subconsciously or not – think less of you, that you deserve to be where you are.

It’s about having to repeatedly to explain your experiences to those in the dominant racial group whom are all too willing to dismiss them because it makes them uncomfortable to consider.

It’s about having to shout “Hey! Stop talking over us and telling us how to live. WE ARE EXPLICITLY TELLING YOU WHAT LIFE IS LIKE FOR US IN THIS RIGGED SYSTEM.”

To reduce these students’ harmful experiences on college campuses to nothing more than “hurt feelings” greatly underestimates the impact repeated racial macro- and microaggressions have on the mental and physical health of Black Americans.

We are not fragile people, that is true. We have survived centuries of oppression and inhumane treatment. So, if students are “complaining” about the atmosphere at Predominately White Institutions – and so.very.many are speaking out, including alumni – perhaps there’s something to it? Perhaps folks should listen to them.

Why does Mr. Zimmerman weigh his words above those of the students who are telling their own stories?

It concerns me that this professor, someone whose words are consumed by the most malleable minds, seems to have such little interest in listening to (and absorbing) the lived experiences of university students. He is not someone who I would trust as a professsor.

Like Ellison, I “am compelled to reject all condescending, narrowly paternalistic interpretations of Negro American life” from someone who has no idea what it’s like to be Black.

I will never have the honor of meeting Ralph Ellison, so I cannot presume to know how he’d feel about Mr. Zimmerman’s opinions. However, when I consider The Invisible Man, in which Ellison heartachingly details the hard-to-describe, yet nonetheless wholly isolating experience of being a Black American living in world not built for us – I somehow can’t see Mr. Ellison appreciating a white professor using his very personal work to belittle the experience of Black college and graduate students.

Is this the competition Zimmerman means?

What do you think about the recent Black student protests and their demands?

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White Supremacy: I Don’t Know How Much More of It I Can Handle

Since Sandra Bland died (was murdered?) I’ve shed tears nearly every day.  I haven’t watched the video of her encounter with the police officer who pulled her over. The police officer who stopped her for failing to signal when changing lanes which somehow led to her death. It’s too painful to view. I cannot consume more images of Black death by the hands of white supremacy. It’s traumatizing.

Yesterday on my way to drop off my rental car before heading to the airport, I accidentally made a wrong turn and came upon a police blockade. A handful of uniformed officers milled about, weapons encircling their waists, their Black and white Ford sedans forming a passageway wide enough for one car. 

Great. Fucking cops. My pulse sped up and my hands dampened with sweat as I quickly considered my options.

The officers were busy inspecting a car in front of me, so while they busied themselves with that driver, I backed up, planning to make a u-turn to get the hell away. I hadn’t done anything wrong – except having a terrible sense of direction – and I had a flight to catch.

The street was too narrow to make a u-turn without at least 15 points. I decided not to draw anymore attention to myself. When I pulled up to the sizable waiting officer, he peered into my rental – my heart threatened to explode – and said with a half-smile, “I saw you tried to turn around there. Where are you headed?”

I quietly told him, my voice wavering, blood pumping loudly in my ears, “I am headed to the airport. Returning my rental car first.”

“There’s no rental agencies this way,” he informed me like I’m an idiot.

He gave me instructions to find the rental car depot and then, speaking to me the way you’d approach a child:

“Don’t just dump the car on the side of the road,” he nodded his head toward the direction of the airport. “The rental company will charge you extra and you’ll get a ticket.”

It never would have occurred to me to dump the car. The rental agency has my credit card on file and my driver’s license information. More importantly, I am not irresponsible. I didn’t need his condescension.

I thought about Sandra Bland and how the police officer who pulled her over had the nerve to act surprised she wasn’t thrilled to get stopped. NO ONE IS HAPPY TO BE PULLED OVER. I wish I had Sandra’s composure when talking to the police officer, but I’ve never been good at hiding my fear.

I drove away, careful not to speed, even though I wanted to get away from them as fast as fucking possible, my hands still shaking.

White supremacy not only gets people killed, it wreaks havoc on the emotional well-being of many Black Americans, including me. Read more on The Girl Next Door is Black
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When my eyes aren’t wet with tears, I’m filled with rage.

When I’m not crying or seething with anger, I fall into hopelessness.

I’ve begun to question what my goal is in writing about racism. What do I hope to achieve? Black people (and others) have been writing about the United States’ problem with racism and white supremacy for centuries.

I told someone recently that fighting racism is like trying to kill roaches. You kill a few and then 50 million of their disgusting relatives appear. It’s not about killing individual roaches. The problem is larger.

Let’s say I open one person’s eyes. I help them wake up to the reality of our country. Then what?

I’m exhausted by the gravity of the problem.

I don't know how much more of this racist world I can take | The Girl Next Door is Black
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I’m sick of it all. I’m sick of being racially gaslighted by people who can’t see the world beyond the prism of whiteness, including some of my own friends. Or being trolled on Twitter by angry, racist white men who insist they’re Christian and love their country. These men usually have a bald eagle or American flag avatar – rarely do they show their real face, as they type the bigoted, ignorant drivel they harass Black tweeters with. Even on this blog, I am not safe from the racial harassment of “well-meaning” people.

Then there’s the irresponsible mainstream media that’s complicit in perpetuating white supremacy with their penchant for biased reporting. 

I find myself seriously reconsidering my personal views on having children. They’ll be born into the same twisted system. I’ll spend a significant chunk of my parenting time not just protecting my Black children from the usual elements of society and the human experience, but also protecting their sense of self-worth, their humanity; working hard to transcend the damage white supremacy inflicts upon black American’s self-esteem and lives.

I’m angry that a world exists where for centuries we’ve lived in a system based on a tremendous lie created and promulgated by greedy white men – that of white superiority. The avarice of these men that’s led to the genocide, murder and oppression of millions of people of color – ALL OVER THE WORLD for centuries.

I’m sick of trying to remain positive and buy into the idea that things will get better one day or “when the old racists die off.” In an interview with Vulture last year, on the topic of racial progress, comedian Chris Rock had this to say:

When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that Black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.

(Some) people, more specifically, (some) angry white people, decried his comments as racist(!). Because that’s what sometimes happens when you call out racism. Instead of acknowledging that there is problem, some white people remain on the defense or mired in their own feelings of guilt.

They’re not racist, no. It’s the Black man who says “white people” who is racist. How dare he bring up race? Meanwhile, Donald Trump is running around saying all manner of racist shit about Latinos and Black people and he’s a leading Presidential candidate for the Republican party.

Chris Rock is right though and anyone who’s being honest with themselves knows it.

Just this past weekend, several hundred angry white men (and a smattering of women) gathered in Stone Mountain, Georgia – former KKK headquarters, to rally to defend their right to fly the Confederate Flag. They maintain that it represents pride in their heritage, not racism. Even though the heritage of which they are so proud, of which the Confederate Flag represents, depended on the free labor of enslaved Black people. The Confederate Flag which in several states saw a resurgence in popularity in response to the ban on school segregation – long after The Civil War ended. But, no. They’re not racist. They’re just “proud.”

I don't know how much of America's racism I can take | The Girl Next Door is Black
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20 years from now, those will likely be the same folks, who with the benefit of hindsight, will be ashamed of their actions. Apologizing and contrite like the damage hasn’t already been done. Just like those angry white people who greeted Black students trying to integrate white schools, with hostility, threats and indignant rage.  

Every day its some shit.

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