These Things Need to Disappear in 2017

The year 2016 has definitely been a “WTF” year for me and for many people I know.  Some events floored me, others made me shake my head, but most of the big news stories of 2016 angered me—made me want to pack all my stuff and “go back to Africa”, as the white people say.  As I watch the year come to a close, there are some things I really hope don’t carry into 2017.

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  1. Cultural Appropriation

Marc Jacobs, a popular American fashion designer, caused an uproar when his white models marched down the runway in his Spring/Summer 2017 fashion show wearing locks in their hair.  His initial response to the backlash was “All who cry ‘cultural appropriation’ or whatever nonsense about any race or skin color wearing their hair in any particular style or manner-funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair.”  Mr. Jacobs clearly lacks knowledge in the diversity department because people of color have all types of hair textures.  To use a style that is unique to Blacks and not use ONE Black model in the fashion show was a serious violation.

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Then we have these “boxer braids”, better known as cornrows.

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Baby hair or “slicked down tendrils” as Lucky Magazine called them.

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….Annnnddd this abomination, also known as Rachel Dolezal.  She’s been fairly quiet this year, and we, the people, would like to keep it that way in 2017.

 

See, cultural appropriation is not the same as cultural appreciation.  People of color are the originators of everything flavorful, so we understand why people would want to emulate our style.  However, stealing and renaming Black trends in an attempt to erase the history and claim them as your own isn’t going to go over so well—shame on the white media.

 

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  1. The Hunting of Black Bodies

Blacks are literally being hunted down by police officers.  Officials entrusted to uphold the law and conduct themselves responsibly have long been killing Blacks, but this year, a week didn’t go by that we didn’t hear about an innocent Black man or woman being gunned down by a racist, cowardly police officer.  Several instances were even caught on tape—people all over witnessed numerous Blacks being murdered in cold blood, for no reason at all.  It got so bad that it started to feel like a trend.  Traffic stops are now potential life or death situations.  We fear for our innocent children, that they will be gunned down by a uniformed coward for looking older or bigger than they should.  I was so sickened and saddened by this year’s events, and in 2017 it needs to stop—it better stop.  We are not wild game.  We will not accept being hunted.  I REPEAT, WE WILL NOT ACCEPT BEING HUNTED.

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  1. Pokémon GO and every other timely distraction

Every time a major social injustice issue arises, the media somehow introduces and glorifies its next big thing.  As a result, the same people who were enraged and planning a rally, protest, or some other necessary action end up with their faces in their phones aimlessly searching the streets trying to capture cartoon characters.  Don’t be distracted, friends.

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  1. Donald Trump

Every night I pray this nightmare will go away.  I still have hope that, somehow, he won’t make it into the White House in January.

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  1. White Tears

I know that 2016 has been devastating for white people.  The country is overrun by Blacks, Muslims, and Mexicans, the Blacks have practically ruined the White House, and now about half of you are being called racists for voting for and supporting a presidential candidate who has a history of racist business practices, inciting violence, groping women, talking about groping women, and using racial slurs.  I’d like to assure the whites that it will be ok—2017 will be your year!  So dry your tears; you won’t be a victim much longer.

So, About Last Night…

Many of us know the details surrounding the horrors of slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, the war on drugs (a.k.a. the war on Blacks), and institutional racism in America.  However, some were so deluded by the idea of America’s first Black president that they seem to have forgotten that this country was built on hate.  There are some who actually believed (and some who still do) in the existence of a post-racial America.  Though I don’t consider myself a part of this ingenuous group of citizens, I still, somehow, had hope that last night’s election would result in a win for the Democratic candidate.  It wasn’t so much that I wanted Hillary Clinton to win as I wanted hate to lose.  How naïve of me to believe, even briefly, that the same practices instrumental in constructing this “great country” would be the underdogs in this presidential race.  A platform filled with hate, bigotry, racism, prejudice, misogyny, homophobia & sexism prevailed because, sooner or later, America had to come full circle and revisit what made her tick in the first place.  America needed a serious purge of the message of hope that came with the election of a Black president, the sentiment of Black Power that comes from the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the false idea of the acceptance of diversity some held in this country, which is made up of so many cultures.  See, every once in a while, whiteness has to remind everyone who’s boss.

Over the past 8 years, white anger grew, and resulted in “whitelash”, a term coined just last night by activist and CNN commentator Van Jones.

“We don’t want to feel that someone has been elected by throwing away some of us to appeal more deeply to others.” -Van Jones

It was cute at first, electing the first Black president and all, but that bright-eyed newness has slowly turned into a white person’s worst nightmare—let’s call it a whitemare, in the spirit of coining terms.  Every time they turned on the TV they saw a Black man in power, speaking at press conferences, addressing large crowds, smiling, waving, breathing, addressing the issues of their country, as if he knows what it means to be an American; moreover, Beyoncé and Jay Z were always at the White House.  Then, to top it off, Black people had the nerve to complain and protest about being targeted and killed by the police—the nerve!  This isn’t what they signed up for; a Black president should equal Black contentment, right?  So they secretly and silently endorsed their great white hope.  Make America great again—yes!  Build a wall to keep out the “bad hombres”—yes!  Blacks and Hispanics are to blame for the nation’s violent crime—yes!  Muslims are terrorists, and terrorism has no place in this country—yes!  They knew all along that they were going to support Trump, but since explicit racism is no longer in style, they kept it a secret and feigned support for Hillary Clinton instead.

There seems to be a formula that America observes: whenever X amount of “minority” victories occur, no matter the magnitude, the follow-up is systematic whitelash.  Honestly, we should have seen this coming, but that doesn’t mean it should hurt any less.  Black people in this country have never been afforded the right to grieve, our mental health is a myth to whites.  Our superhuman bodies and otherworldly brains must make grief, despair, and hurt feelings inconceivable to the white bigot; they think this while simultaneously calling us “too sensitive” for speaking out about blatant injustices and inconsistencies of policies in this great country of theirs, but I digress.

Though I will keep pushing for greatness and will conduct my business as usual, not letting hate get the best of me, my feelings were hurt last night when they shouldn’t have been.  So stop smiling at me, America, just so you can stab me in the back.  Take notes from your new orange leader and tell me you hate me to my face.  Stop trying to disarm me with that fake tight-lipped grin and your fake interest in my Blackness served up with an under-seasoned side of micro-aggression.  Stop trying to convince me that we live in a post-racial society.  Back away from my children—I will raise them the way I see fit.  Keep your murderous police officers out of my community—we got this.

America, last night you were exposed to all those who forgot what a nasty woman you are.  Stay true to your colors, back up off me, and let me be great, because everything that makes you “great” has finally come out of hiding.  Congrats, girl!

#PressPlay Nooo 😩😩😩 via: @alldefdigital

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I Can’t (Comfortably) Send My Black Child to a White School

Growing up, I lived the Black middle class family dream.  My parents were (and still are) unapologetically Black, in every way possible.  In fact, Dead Mike’s song, “I’m Black Y’all”, from CB4 loops in my head every time I see one of them walk into a room.

 

My dad, a retired Baltimore City School teacher born in 1935, is super old school.  He marched with Dr. King, fought with Malcom X, and is an avid reader of the Honorable Minister Farrakhan.  He has seen, first hand, what many of us have only read excerpts about in history books.  Culture and travel were of great importance in my household; my parents believed these to be two of the main contributors to a great upbringing and fundamental to my development into a well-rounded Black woman.  We went to plays, operas, and every African American History Black Wax monumental memorial site on this side of the U.S.  My parents took me around the world on educational trips and showed me how people in other countries differ from Americans, who, according to them, aren’t as civilized as they think.  I was taught a different history lesson than what we learned in school—at a very young age, I learned that America was built on savagery.

 

My parents even had their own business—a photography studio at the Avenue Market on Pennsylvania Avenue, located in west Baltimore.  They chose this as their place of business because, even though we lived in the county at this time, they needed to be close to the community they grew up in.  At the time, there were no professional photography studios in the hood, so they built one.

 

I am very proud of my parents and the knowledge they instilled in me at an early age, but only seeing life through their Black-colored lenses, they did me a huge disservice.  They were so proud to be Black, and felt such a great sense of Black superiority that they forgot about white supremacy, and the way it’s ingrained into every aspect of American life.  My parents sent me to an all-girl’s prep school, and it went downhill from there. Now, I wouldn’t dare blame my parents for my downfalls, but I wasn’t ready for this; I wasn’t prepared.  They didn’t teach me this part of the game.

 

Maryvale Preparatory School for Girls has got to be the whitest place in the world.  There were about five Black people in the entire school, including me.  Throughout my four years there, from the 6th to 10th grades, I was always an outsider—singled out, never invited to sleepovers, always asked about my hair, asked how my parents could afford my tuition, got in trouble for the most trivial of things—the list can go on.  I was miserable.

 

See, my parents taught me the history of white supremacy, but never told me that it was still very prevalent.  I didn’t know that some white people, especially the adults, would actually bully a child because they are uncomfortable with having me in “their space”, a space they thought a little Black girl didn’t deserve to be in.  I was confused.  Unable to piece together what was happening in my life, I mistook their discomfort for my own inadequacy.  There was something wrong with me.  All these issues eventually led to my expulsion from school.  I labeled myself the “bad kid” and I was determined to live up to that title.  A series of unfortunate events followed and it took me 7 years to even begin to piece my life back together.  Clearly, one must understand all aspects of white fragility and white supremacy in order to move around it.

 

It’s easy to say that I’ll just be more supportive of my son and make sure no one is messing with him.  I’ll teach him about white supremacy, white discomfort and fragility, micro-aggressions, “accidental” racism, etc., which I fully intend to do, but it goes deeper than that.  There is something special and empowering about being around your own people, at least for me.  I want my son to feel the sense of belonging I never felt attending a predominately white school.  My being the “minority” was too much of a distraction for the faculty, staff, and students, and I did not get what I needed out of my education.  The psychological damage I experienced in school isn’t something I’m willing to expose my child to.  So, for now, he will be attending predominately Black schools.  Right now he’s still in pre-K, and attends a nice private school that is 60-70% Black, though the faculty and staff are about 95% white—but it’s a start.

 

In her article, “Dear White Racists, Apology Not Accepted”, Stacey Patton writes that a central facet of white supremacy is “denying innocence to Black children.”  Children, naïve and new to this world, should not be expected to undergo any type of abuse, especially at the hands of an adult.  What I experienced in prep school gave my antagonists great pleasure, and I’m sure they felt triumph following my expulsion.  Therefore, again, I refuse to expose my child to such fuckery.

 

Yes, I’m raising someone who will eventually become an intelligent Black leader, but today, tomorrow, and for years to come, he deserves my protection—white supremacy cannot have my baby.