Best Thing You Never Had

Okay, well maybe you did “have” me but you don’t no more.

It all started in high school — siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. Junior year I crossed a boy in the hallways and then we sat next to each other in History class. I thought he talked too much; handsome, but quite a chatterbox. Then, one day after lunch, I see him holding hands with this girl. She was cute. Simple. However, the hunting lioness in me saw competition determined to best – the best thing you never had.

I Wanted to be His E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

He added me on Facebook first. Then we exchanged numbers. I initiated conversations through text him. I asked questions about his relationship and plans after graduation. School started at 7:30 am and I would wake up early ya’ll to get cute just to walk past his ass. How could I forget the time I found out where he worked that I drove there after school; wrong site. Eventually, I got him. He wasn’t mine but he was there.

Oh, College…

It wasn’t until I moved into a single room dorm that we had our first encounter. It was actually in a car on dim street and it was the first time THEY said MY name. Kudos to Brittney! We started to make time for love sessions in between classes (he went to a different school). We discussed our feelings with each other and how it was always the wrong time: he was with somebody; I was with somebody. Although we both tried it was never right until…

He Asked Me Out!!!

Perfect timing! He’s single! I’m single! Let’s mingle! We planned to meet at the mall for a movie after his shift. At this time it is crucial to point out he also worked in the said mall. I got dressed, snatched, beat — all dat. “Where are you going?” my mother asked. “On a date! Yes, with a man!” Oh, she was so happy for me. I checked my phone one last time before grabbing my coat and I had a message that read: “hey I got off work early so I went home. Let’s reschedule.” Fuck you mean you meant home??? Devastated I lied and told him I was out-of-town when I wasn’t leaving for another 4. How could he?

Call me Mrs.Lawry cause I’m Salty

At this time in my life, I was still very emotional. Sadness, disappointment, embarrassment, and anger flooded me. It also killed my ego. While undressing I began to analyze the situation: the movie starts at 11; mall closes at 10; he got off early at 9. Why not go home, shower and come back, right? How come we couldn’t catch any earlier viewing to accommodate? Was work really that stressful today? Was I not worth the ride back to the mall? I commanded myself not to cry. Instead, I finished packing, laid in my bed, packed a bowl and streamed Nurse Jackie on Netflix.

The Aftermath

We didn’t speak for a long time after that because I couldn’t bring myself to engage. I still have fucking questions! Through mutual friends we would be in the same room talking around each other; it was stupid. He will always be a dear friend of mine; we have memories but it’ll never be the same. We hung out solo a couple times but it’s awkward now. Just this morning he hit me up on Messenger to ask if I were now involved which I am _____. To this day it continues to bother me and I’m not gonna lie — I cried after we finished talking. You folded on a Royal Flush.

#SorrynotSorry.

Photo cred: giphy.com

 

PODCAST: Depression is Real

In order to overcome the demons of depression, one must first acknowledge that they indeed do exist.

I’m dealing with depression. To begin with, I signed yet another one of those “Promise to Be a Sheep” forms at my job. I shall have my collection laminated. This sinus cold is making me feel like I got run over by a Hummer.  Aww man, what else? Well, my bank account is a joke, my summer body never came, my Y-chromosome decided to become an X and my origins are in Africa.

Laying in my bed last night, staring at the ceiling, with tissue in my nostrils I realized something. I was receiving Facebook messages, text messages, phone calls from former suitors, current situations, and determined prospects.

Although it appeared that I had so many people seeking my attention and time with all things considered I always feel alone. It’s a big world out here and some days, yo, I just feel alone.

Black folks depressed. 

How do you expect to win the war with the pale man when you cower away from the battles within yourself? I don’t like the constant feeling of being sad. It is a detrimentally draining space.

I will be attending a wedding ceremony to someone very close to me. I am eager and anxious to take a slight break from this thing called life. You can’t run away or ignore your problems given that they’ll be there waiting for you when you get back — ready for battle.

Anti-Depression Task #1 – limit television.

There is something mentally unsettling and unnatural about “watching” tv. I’m addicted to reality tv and Netflix [binge watcher]. I own perhaps 100 books. In my living room, there are four cases overflowing with books being the anchor for a 40-inch television sitting on top. I haven’t read more than 20% of those damn books yet I watch television every day. Such a fraud.

I am ready to brawl and sacrifice for my mental stability, physical health, spiritual strength and emotional substance.

SheLived:1

Depression:0

Photo cred: blavity.com

For The Next Time a Black Man says, “You’re Too Strong”

You Are Not “Too” Strong 

He is “too” weak – mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

Dare I say financially? Fuck it.

He’s just all around broke. Broken.

Still trying to make sense of all his scattered shards that all he’s collected is doubt and pity. For the feeble man, you will always be “too” strong.

“All you women…All you [BLACK] women!”

Oh boy, here it comes! The moment we have all been waiting for! Blame the very existence of Black women for your trials and tribulations. Stop comparing yourself to the pale man who steals, kills and destroys. You aren’t him and I ain’t her.

How dare you slander her, Black man?! She who has remained steadfast and diligent as she watched this strange white man steal her children, kill her husband and destroy her virtue? She earned the right to be strong.

You say you want a hardworking strong woman but you do not! A woman who cooks and cleans; fulfills your sexual desires and works outside the home. You insecurities won’t allow you to love her.

You, sir — don’t cook, clean, pay taxes nor feed my appetite and yet I’m still here.

Technically you’re still here because this Sistah ain’t going nowhere.

[That’s my name on the mailbox, brother]

Yet you feel you should be rewarded for taking out the trash?

How are you comfortable pointing out my flaws and stressing your likes whilst lying on my couch; drinking my Scotch, watching my Netflix!

No; I will not chill!

You got clothes in my closet, my keys in your pocket, his half of my bed — but, hold up! “Lemme hold $20”, the man said. You work hard at running your mouth and the streets then walk through my doors talmbout, “what you got to eat?”

When a black man condemns a Black woman he disgraces Yah resulting in complete failure and disasters. Keep playing this white man’s game and your black ass gon lose.

Sit down. Be Humble.

By: Brittney Smith
Photo Cred: fromawildflower.com

It’s Not “Just” Pepsi…

For This Case:

Imagine after a long night or early morning, you start the day off with either a canned Starbucks drink or an energy drink like Amp. Be that as it may, however, today there is time to whip something up. Everybody loves Quaker – oatmeal, granola; easy peasy. Consequently, from the thickness, you have a glass of Tropicana or a Naked juice. It is probably midday and time to hit the gym because, well – you know, “summer’s coming”!

If you are a gym head I suppose you drink Gatorade?

Eco-friendly? Life Water.

Broke? Aquafina.

Above all, you aren’t that gullible, are you? You don’t actually pay shipping and handling for IG tea, do you?

Brew Lipton‘s. Buy Brisk.

Seeing that you’re exhausted, by now you have showered, rolled up and now have the munchies, yes? As a result, you head to the corner to cop quarter bags of that good: Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos and Lays. You despise Ruffles. Right! So! It is the weekend and you intend to get litty (in the house, obviously). You also buy cans of 7UP for the Vodka, MistTwist to go with the Gin and then a Mountain Dew for tomorrow’s hangover. Ooh, ooh! Are those Tostino‘s pizza rolls on deck for the 2 for $5? All right, all right, now – you are back in the house. You check social media: #PEPSIisTrending.

I’m perplexed —

  1. Are gentrifying pale women the face of this modern-day revolution?

  2. Is it specifically Pepsi that humanizes military cops?

  3. Ain’t no POC’s working at that company to have disputed this concept?

You a Cola fan, anyway, shit –  Boycott Pepsi!!!

Suddenly, you become conscious of PEPSICO. the company and not just “Pepsi” — the brand.
#BoyCottPepsiCo. 

Photo Cred: Youtube & cspdailynews.com

 

 

Abstractly-Defined Artists Restore Humanity

Artists Restore Humanity

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with both an old college professor and a local artist. Comparing both conversations I found some striking similarities; both came from backgrounds with troubled family dynamics which is arguably the foundation of every artist. Independently, yet simultaneously – they have taken their personal experiences and embedded them into ridiculous institutions [by way of teaching] with the objective being either to entertain or report possibilities in real-time.

Collectively, all three of us are teachers, writers, and visual artists; captivated by distorted truths attempting to integrate them with genuine realism. One believes the creative process is individualized with hopes of gaining perspective. The other is steadfast at creating safe spaces for P.O.C’s regardless of their gender identification.

The Professor who Restores Herself

I remember being a sophomore at Augsburg College and enrolling in Sarah Myers Improv Theater class first semester. One of our first assignments was viewing the stage play “Neighbors” featured at Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis. To be frank, the production blatantly and [to some] disrespectfully discussed racism. The show was so captivating I saw it nine times! As a young creative, I both intrigued by the artistry of the writers but also offended by the intolerable stereotypes that cowered over the actors.

The healing that Myers offered me as a young, Black woman has forever indebted me to her. For the first time, at 19, I had my first real conversation on race with a middle-aged white woman. Unbeknownst to me, then, Myers had her own share of discrimination by simply being Jewish. A bisexual Jew.

Sarah Myers, a native of Chicago, IL, and active professor at Augsburg College, utilized expressive are in her stage play, ‘I Do Today’. Myers, a self-proclaimed “Bi first – queer now” woman of Jewish faith said that writing the play was a healing process for her. She is an introvert and doesn’t share specific moments of the play publicly because, well – “people make assumptions”. Myers “draws from personal ordeals” with something she has a strong emotional connection to for her creative process.

Whether it’s in front of or behind the stage (she prefers to be behind the scenes) Myers battles with internal issues that would surely perplex her professional community. What are Jewish laws for being bisexual? Can you be bisexual and have a heterosexual marriage? That’s one for the theologians.

The Revolutionary who Restores the Culture

I had the pleasure of meeting Keno Evol 3 years ago in a kitchen, on the south-side of Minneapolis. Ganja blew on the balcony and hood politics discussed in the kitchen. A room full of Black people is so poetic; influenced by recreational substances harmoniously engaging in the most relevant conversation of their lives. 

Keno Evol is a local artist, performer, spoken word artist, dancer, and director. He spent 3 years in the foster care system as were his 8 siblings. Evol now sits as the founder and executive director of Black Table Arts, an arts-based organization centered on conjuring other worlds through Black art, connecting creatives and cultivating volume in Black Life.

He is also the founder of Black Lines Matter [sharing the same acronym as Black Lives Matter] a “writing arena where social politics meets the poetic”; centered on producing historical and contemporary protest projects by Black poets awhile building Black comprehension. An atmosphere that is “free to the public yet highlights and produces premium Black writing” is the mission. His personal goal is to “constantly hold a free space for us to invite more folks to the table, sharpen our swords and lead with love”.  *Black Table Arts meets bi-weekly on Saturdays from 6-8 pm at The Loft Literary Center Room 303

She Who Restores Life

After speaking with both artists I reflect on the times I did something creative to counter pain. It’s effortless to get something either over-the-counter or “under-the-table” to reduce the imposed upon melancholy. Artists are never normal because we are too complex like a contradicting oxymoron. Writing, however, keeps me sane, sober and solvent.

I recalling leaning on my pen more than my pipe to inhale forgiveness and exhale domestic violence, sexual violence, and low self-esteem. I’ve been molested, physically assaulted and raped. Uniquely, I have a tattoo, orbiting my ankle, that reads ‘Dance, Laugh, Sing’ – a daily dose of remedial acts.

As artists, where do we lie down our vulnerabilities when our audiences want silly little anecdotes about love and relationships. A reader once actually told me to write more about my romantic relationships. Perhaps if she knew what all I was still applying Preparation-H to she wouldn’t be so eager to exploit me all in the name of creativity. How ironic is it, though, that my personal pain cleverly disguised as creative works shall be the remedy for her ailments.

My responsibility as a creative is not just to honor humanity but dammit to restore it. Often times it is a tedious expense to invest in humanity but to give up would leave the wound uncovered. In the words of the Notorious B.I.G. “we can’t change the world until we change ourselves”. I say we can’t heal the world’s problems until we hear our own; the cure

is ART.

Photo Cred: augsburg.com, blacktablearts.com & Pinterest

 

 

Black Women Issues

“Black Women Issues”

Black women

in

AmeriKKKa

are living a life

no one asks for

or

wants.

Black women’s 

issue

will have

me

on the brink

of suicide.

Will they miss me when I’m gone?

Perhaps say, “so long”?

College costs.

Can’t save

a dollar for my life.

Overfed.

Under-loved.

Taxed

with no Rep.

BLACK WOMAN

the #1 Vet.

Self-medicated.

THC.

Whiskey.

“When did you start drinking like this?”

a

BLACK WOMAN

dedicated to the life

a strong

BLACK WOMAN

often perceived

as an angry

BLACK WOMAN.

The eldest,

a daughter,

college-educated,

without a college degree.

Guns –

Sex –

Drugs –

Shall I

justify my thug?

Can I live?

Potential suitors

turned prisoners.

Dead end jobs

similar

to

slave labor.

THC & Whiskey are coping mechanisms.

Does it

make

sense now?

It doesn’t.

Allow me

to reintroduce

myself:

I am

a

BLACK WOMAN

with issues.

Can’t drink

enough

to stay

sleep.

Can’t smoke

enough

to stay

high.

Systematic

prepackaged

damage.

Fuck it —

unpack

the baggage…

Ready, set, Go!

By: Brittney Smith

Photo Cred: giphy.com & beatnik24.com

There’s No Such Thing as “Two Best Friends”

It’s Too Early For This Shit

It’s pretty self-explanatory but let me explain: Now that you all are aware of the significant other in my life, and I can openly discuss us, this morning he called and I immediately asked about yesterday because we didn’t get a chance to speak. He said that it was chill and he talked to his best friend. Excuse me, who? Last night, on a fairly empty stomach – I had drunk 10 ounces of 1800 and wasn’t sure I’d heard him correctly as his called did just wake me up.

“Say that again,” I replied.

“I said it was good and I talked to my best friend,” he repeated.

“Ooh! Just say it say for me one more time, please.”

He’s starting to catch on.

No Such Thing As “Two Best Friends”

At this point, he feels the draft of my shade.

“What are you trying to get at?” he asked.

“We didn’t talk yesterday soooo…who’s this best friend?”

“I can have more than one.”

Where is the emergency brake when you need it! No, you cannot! You can’t have multiple best friends because we can’t ALL be the best. Here this man is telling me that I’m just a member of a mediocre circle of friends who are all generally “good”. Completely unacceptable.

Let Me Tell You Why

“Is it a girl?” because at this point I just gotta know who the best is, you feel me?

“Yeah, she’s funny.”

Just like that; so blasé as if I had just asked if the sky was blue. Consequently, my Petty-O-Meter as been activated.

“If y’all getting along so great – why y’all not together?” Straight Savage.

“It’s not like that. We from the streets together”.

He should have been a gravedigger the way he’s burying himself. I certainly feel like my gangsta is now in question.

“I’m just saying – you don’t have any boys you can go hoop with it. Why she gotta be the best?”

Two Best Friends Leads to Jealousy

In this case, we have two issues. If you have a best friend and they introduce you to their other friend you automatically are on the defense. You speculate on their inside jokes. Do they sleepover at each other houses? Do they watch the Golden Girls together?  It’s a horrible and appalling feeling to know that YOUR bff is “bff-ing” with someone else.

Yet, when you are in a relationship and they exclaim that their best friend is of the opposite sex it’s a whole other playing field. It’s no longer a matter of which television shows they binge-watch together. Instead, you contemplate as to whether or not one day the appetite craves for something different. Do you talk to her about me? Does she know my secrets?

Maybe it’s just me but the thought that one day he could see in her what he sees in me what I see in him potentially has the power to ruin me. And it’s not just this girl but any girl. I’ve yet to meet her, of course, someday I will but for now, I have to trust him when he says,

“It’s not like that.”

Photo Cred: Giphy.com

1-800-HOTLINE

Who You Gonna Call?

There are all sorts of hotlines out there waiting to dialed. Hundreds of millions of people use some sort of hotline either every day or once in their lifetime.  Most people are familiar with the sex hotlines. You know, the ones that come on television after midnight; “call now for a sexy chat with Tiffany, she’s waiting for you” – yeah, those. Or to call for the 187th volume of ‘Body & Soul’s’ two-disc CD collection? Those commercials are the best jam sessions. Unlike those what about the hotline’s that aren’t televised?

Netflix features a documentary titled, Hotline (also available on Amazon Prime) that made me think about hotlines in a completely different light. Outside of the typical hotlines for music, physics or toys, there are those for real people going through real things.

“I Just Really Need Someone to Talk to”

A quick Google search of “hotlines for help” will bring forth thousands of results. Hotlines exist for suicide, depression, sexual assault, pregnancy and domestic violence. Which ones have you made bling?

Me? I distinctively remember calling a depression hotline back in 2013.

How Did You Get Here?

menthal_health_hotline

Honestly, first, I had to be honest with myself. I hesitated for about 15 minutes. Was I really that bad off that I needed to talk to a complete stranger about the hardships that I endured? I was. At that time I lived clear across the country with only a duffel bag full of clothes and a dream. My boyfriend (past and present) was just sentenced to prison and I had just graduated from trade school. With a dimly bright future and a new-found singleness, I wanted something more. So, I spent the fourth of July in Washington D.C. where I knew no one, had no money and the battery on my cell phone had just died.

I was living in Maryland the night I made the call. Sitting on the balcony of the apartment, staring at the night sky, with nothing but a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of wine, I dialed. At first, I hung up before it could even ring. I wasn’t sure if that was something I truly wanted to do. Finally, 5 minutes, 3 cigarettes and 2 glasses later I faced the music – or at least the sound of my own voice.

What Did You Talk About?

The voice on the other end of the phone was “comforting”. A white woman seemingly in her 40’s. I imagined her to be 30 pounds overweight with sandy-blonde hair, circular wire-rimmed glasses wearing a sweater. She wanted to know my life to which I told her that I hated it. I never once felt like I knew what I was doing or why. My brother got terminally sick at a very young age that placed him in a wheelchair and my mother was a single parent. That was my life – my story. I didn’t know who I was outside of those two factors and even more crucial was that I didn’t know who I wanted to be.

I sat on the other end of that phone call, staring up at the night sky, leaning over that balcony tipsy and sobbing. My personal failures, hope, and all-time aspirations were met by a person who only wanted to listen. I gave her everything I had and after 15 minutes I simply hung up. It was over when I wanted it to be over. I was never going to run into this woman in a grocery store or sit across from her at a doctor’s office. I could have, possibly, and yet, she would never truly know me nor I her.

Who Do You Talk To Now?

I’ve meant to dial QuitPlan for non-judgmental help to quit smoking – cigarettes, Mary Jane gets to stay. I haven’t done that yet.

I’m actually not really big on talking but mostly I talk to all of you. I write and let the words fall where they may. I was recently logged into Facebook where a notification said something about my “fans” wanting to hear more from me. And if I’m being honest again, or shall be, I don’t want fans. I desire readers. You can be a fan of #SheLived and who you think Brittney is and have never read a post. These days people concern themselves with pictures and 140-character statuses instead of full written articles. Fuck that. I prefer for you to have read everything I’ve ever written and decided that you just don’t like me as a person.

If you’re really willing to read – I’m willing to talk.

Photo Cred:suzou.net, sandiegopsychologicalcenter.com, Youtube.com

13th Amendment: Reinvented Slavery

13th Amendment

Last night I watched Ava Duvernay’s, Netflix Original documentary, 13th. The film exposed the inconvenient truth about living and being black in Amerikka today. The alternative to factually abolishing slavery was to reinvent it instead. The 13th Amendment indeed does away with slavery and indentured servitude. Unless, however, it is the punishment for a crime.

The War on Drugs

Ava takes us back to 1971 when President Nixon declared a “war on drugs.”

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, in a 2015 commentary in Free Press, wrote:

The Drug War was officially born June 17, 1971, when Richard Nixon pronounced drugs to be “public enemy number one.” In a nation wracked by poverty, racial tension, injustice, civil strife, ecological disaster, corporate domination, a hated Vietnam War and much more, drugs seemed an odd choice.

  In 1973, New York Governor, Nelson Rockefeller passed  The Rockefeller Drug Laws  which included mandatory minimum jail sentences for possession of drugs and made it impossible for judges to be lenient in certain cases.The bullshit ideology behind the campaign was a means of suppressing and punishing Black Africans for having survived slavery. The “war” sought to systematically exploit us long after official slavery had been outlawed.

The Devil Himself  and His Epic Fail

After the Watergate scandal we they brought in the devil: Ronald Reagan. Public concern over illicit drug use during the 1980’s was largely due to media portrayals of black people addicted to crack-cocaine. Black men were in the forefront.

 

The prison population quadrupled between 1980 and 2000 due entirely to stiffer sentencing policies, not necessarily more crime. More than half of Americans in prison are being held captive for drug-related offenses –  possession. Minorities make up a disproportionately large part of those in prison for drug offenses despite the fact that they don’t use drugs any more than white Americans.  Enter the mass incarceration of Black African’s – Slavery 2.0.

Slavery 2.0

Documentaries, movies, books, and television shows direct our attention to the issue of mass incarceration in this country. Donald Trump and his posse of pussies state that the economy is failing because jobs going to Hispanic immigrants. These “jobs” that he speaks of are being given to those in prison.

Many of the top retailers in the Amerikka take advantage of prison labor. Those organic potatoes or fancy, lack panties are products of prison labor. The likes of Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Starbucks and Victoria Secret are making millions off of prisoners – slaves. Prisoners are out in the field, or in the factory, for 8-10 hours a day and there aren’t any bathroom or lunch breaks. Could you imagine doing your job and earning a mere $0.45/hour? You probably couldn’t. An inmate working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week earns a scraggly $18.00 a week. Now imagine taking that same $18 to the commissary. A roll of tissue will cost you $5, toothpaste is $3.50 and food items cost $5 each.

The “workers” are not only cheap labor but are considered easier to control. Companies are free to avoid providing benefits like health insurance or sick days. They also don’t fret over unions, demands for vacation time, pay raises or family issues.

Something needs to and has to change.

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Photo Cred: Shelived_blog instagram, the Atlantic Black Star, JusticeNoJails.org, thehornetonline.com and Youtube

Me, Them and Y’all

And It Never Fails

Sexism and colorism while working in a professional kitchen emphasized the reality of me, them and y’all. Six to eight hours surrounded by those who neither looked like me or spoke the same language. At times could be emotionally draining and detrimental to my mental state. Frustration collided with incompetency more times than men lie. Sharing them with management met no prevail.

The First Sit-Down Taught Me:

I remember the first meeting I had with the higher-ups. My 30-day review had come up and it was time to discuss the job and my performance thus far. By now, they too had become aware of the tension in the kitchen. I expressed that as the only Black individual employed and the only woman in the back-house was a cause for complications. As passively aggressive pale men in their mid 30’s and 40’s they had answers for everything. They matched my statement by acknowledging the older women who prep in the mornings. I responded that they do not work in the blazing heat on the line nor during the dinner rush hours. Those women also don’t stand on the same field as me for they speak the language – Spanish.

julia-header

In the field is Team Spanish versus Team English. Them against me. I am a woman enclosed with knives, blood, fire and frail egos. Some of the Hispanic males speak English and all the pale men know some jargon. I, however, am solely devoted to one team. In the field, collectively, we play defense against the quantity of orders coming in. Often it is a trial attempting to communicate intricate and fairly complicated food orders with a language barrier. As a result, we are constantly on the offense with each other.  I can say I wouldn’t have been extremely particular of another woman’s nationality. Preferably an English speaker.

Everything You Are You Owe to A Woman

A woman, regardless of her race, could have able to tell me what to expect from who. Which of these guys throw curve balls? Who also plays for our team? Which ones have slippery fingers? Who thinks he’s goddamn Danny Zuko? As a woman I have must be stronger, louder, faster. A routine showdown with sexism. Given that my emotions cannot compel me yet firmly stand my ground.

The threat of a capable woman results in the labeling of the word “bitch”. The inconvenient truth of the matter is had my vagina been a dick there would be nothing to discuss, no matter what color it was. The pale men say it’s because of their strong Hispanic culture. Women are not recognized outside of being devoted mothers and caregivers. In other words, women are mundane broads. This truth is apparently not of too much interest to the pale men.

But To be a Black Woman…

Being the only Black African* on the scene often times causes me to second guess myself. I constantly am self-consciously considering my blackness: ‘Be aggressive but not ghetto. Speak loud and clear but don’t be too loud. Always show up on time. Is my natural hair presentable? Yo B, they don’t know you, you can’t go awf like that. The Chef and Sous Chef, along with the front of the house, are Caucasian. There are two mixed-race women, an African woman, and two unidentified men. To sum it up they enjoy bun-less black bean burgers, have unhealthy fascinations with cats and oddly placed geometric tattoos. The women dress like it is either 1972 or 1993. A clusterfuck of hipster, pale quagmires.

colorism-photo

I recently engaged in yet another tedious and dramatically stale clambake to attempt to release some pressure. In uniform fashion, the majority of my narrative was met with rebuttals. I walked back to the kitchen and filled orders but eventually, I had broken down. Again faced with the adversity of being a Black African and a woman; filled with so much anxiety, fury and defeat I skidded to the bathroom, sat on the floor and cried. I gave myself 3 minutes to plummet grief into my lap then dust that shit off. I stood in front of the mirror and reminded myself why I’m here. This isn’t my dream, I don’t want to someday run this place. Get this money.

The Greatest Gift & Curse of All

For all these reasons I will never forget the first time, I sat down to discuss the job. I casually pointed out that this particular job has its controversy because of the inescapable “double negatives” of being a Black Woman. They looked at each other, looked back at me and spoke passively transparent in agreement that, “I guess I, or we, never saw it that way“.

Funny how that seems to be the only thing I see – me, them and y’all.

Photo Cred: giphy.com, meetup.com

Dear Soul Mother…

Dear Unapologetic Soul Mother

Do you remember me? I am your great, great-granddaughter and we sat next to each other on the train one late afternoon, sometime around three? I am not certain where you were going but I was on my way to work. We met during the metro’s passage through Collegeville. You looked to your left and turned to your right only to find no available seating that did not require you to share it with some pale-faced juvenile. You saw me and you smiled; I smiled back to my dear soul mother.

I moved over to make room for you sit and rest your tribal bones. Together we rode next to one another in complete and utter silence and it absolutely broke my heart. I am sorry and disgusted at my lack of culture that couldn’t allow me to engage in a simple verbal exchange with you.

A marvelously regal woman.

Ingrained in your skin was more knowledge than all the libraries in the world, more grace than the whitest swans. Your spirit and soul are certainly mighty forces to reckoned with. I am the humblest I have ever been in your presence. Your essence alluded that of my great-grandmother. A woman who had given birth to a tribe all her own, seen more death and dying that us all and who bore the weight of her faith so deep in her heart that it showed on her face.

However, unlike my biological great-grandmother, you come from Africa – the motherland to us all. I want to know what it was like growing up as a girl walking to the market to fetch water from the well. It is essential to my womanhood that I know what region you are from and how on Earth you got here. The only stories I ever heard are those of racism and segregation; slavery, poverty, and crime. Our people are abundantly superhuman and yet it seems that we are always reduced down to fleas.

Unapologetic Soul Mother, you would never tell those types of stories.

The wisdom, magic, and power invested in you are dying with you. We must capture it before it is too late! You deserve to live on forever through the legacy all the daughters that are to come after you. I want to bottle up your memories, failures, loves, and dreams. How did you treat a stomach virus? What keeps the children crying late into the hours? What is your proudest moment? And how many men have you ever truly loved?

I can admit that I haven’t always felt this way about my great-grandmother and I assume it’s because I took her granted. Subconsciously I always knew that I could talk to her and that was a sorry mistake. There are so many things I want to ask her and yet now she can barely even remember my name. I couldn’t even talk to you if I tried; I don’t know my native tongue.

And for that I am sorry.

Photo Cred: Pinterest

Don’t Hurt Yourself

Don’t Hurt Yourself

Yesterday, the person whom I have been “involved with” struck me – yes, struck –  for the first time. It had something to do with $10 and a bottle of whisky Satan’s Sauce. I was a woman with drive, dreams, and goals before he and I crossed paths. Now that I’m back to traveling alone I think I see a pot of gold glistening off the horizon that was once shadowed by fog, bitterness, and insecurity. I was always, at times, completely aware of the venom that he was inducing in me but it was all worth the orgasm. Don’t hurt yourself, B.

Time Waits For No Man

As I reflect on all the precious, non-refundable time spent with this person it’s schizo how I didn’t trust myself to end it. You see, I was in cahoots with another gentleman caller. At that time I had already mastered the Waltz and wanted to learn to Cha-Cha. We were terrible dance partners and assumed we would eventually nail the routine. Ironic how all I want to nail is his coffin; the only dance we will ever again jive to is “Russian Roulette”.

Only One Bullet is Required

At any rate I’m trying to figure out how to dance on my own – comfortably. The first step is getting back to the person I was before I met him. The version of me that was exercising, cooking at home and flowing spiritually. He was never a component in the equation that which is my future. I always knew that he wasn’t the one even way before he broke the damn door down. I’ll admit that I was willing to crash for the sake of debunking the mystery man who always carried a backpack.

Journey Back to Self

Never underestimate the power of loneliness. Every non-family member person I know has stumbled into my life and just stuck. All my life it’s just been me: no boyfriend, fiancé or baby daddy. All it takes is a decent looking fellow to tell you how decent you look. God forbid you to have low confidence and will tolerate anything to be seen. All any of us can hope to do is tell our personal truth but to be frank there are times where our truth is nothing more than our own: no one else cares because they have their own to tend to. My truth? Just know that you didn’t hurt me. You, sir, have hurt yourself.

You came for me – I returned to sender.

Photo Cred: giphy.com

 

 

 

Brock Turner: We Are “More Than A Number”

Brock Turner, a Stanford University swimmer, was convicted of raping an unconscious woman on campus. Since athletes love statistics let’s talk numbers. Women are more than a number.

33% of girls are molested before the age of eighteen.

This is the time in her life where she should be young, care-free and fantasizing about being prom queen; watching reality shows and rocking the hottest clothes, not being taken advantage of by someone she knows.

1/3 of those cases involve children under twelve; babies who don’t quite understand what’s happening or big enough to shield themselves. Instead of enjoying their childhood and cavorting in the park they are now afraid of any and everything that goes bump in the dark. Ever wonder how many hold this confidential information – we’ll never know it because 65% of these cases go unreported. But to give you a hint 1 in every 4 girls is the noted statistic.

And much the same, 1 in every 4 women will experience domestic violence;

insecurities and frustrations being mourned in silence. Raised voices bring trepidation and you have nowhere to turn; fire in his eyes while he sits and watches you burn. 1 in every 5 teens gets told the “I hit you because I love you” lie. Well, I’m here to tell you that ain’t shit to love nor is it charming to have a black eye. People, places, and organizations exist to offer a safe environment but where are they when 3 women die every day due to domestic violence?

Every 2 minutes someone in the United States is raped and that’s probably because the U.S. has the world’s highest rape rate. This is not something to go gloating about but this a message that we have to stop ignoring and doing without. 1 out of every 4 women in college will be raped. So when it used to be all about B.A.’s and PhD’s it’s now become getting d-r-a-i-n-e-d off liquor and GHB. We maintain a society where men still prevail because 15 out of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail. 18.8% of rape victims are black women – we get sought out for our hips and thighs and how they fit in our denim.

Women and young ladies who bear hardship to those exploitations are:

3 times more likely to suffer from depression; 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide

6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress; 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs. 90% of abusers know the victim that much is a guarantee and is case you disagree allow me to introduce you to me: at age 8 is was the older boy from across the hall, when I was 17 it was the bad boy who was so smooth he made me fall and at 18 – the boy that I didn’t really know at all.

You don’t know what kinds of survivors exist among you and we’re never supposed to talk about it because apparently, the topic is too taboo so something has to change because those experiences are horrendous to live through…but I’m just one person with one voice and one story that needed to be introduced with the optimism that my experiences won’t be reduced. It doesn’t characterize who I am nor does it station me beneath another. But for those who stand parallel to me – we are not victims who drown in our misfortunes, charity cases that require pity or statistics because the last time I checked I wasn’t a fucking number. We are human beings, diamonds, and exquisite pearls.

We are women – who rule the world.

By: Brittney Smith

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Photo Cred: insider.foxnews.com

G.O.A.T. – ALI

Who in the hell is Cassius Clay? I don’t know that man. The Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T.) as Muhammed Ali. Here is a humble list of my favorite quotes from the most confident man to ever live (in no particular order):

G.O.A.T.

  • The man who has no imagination has no wings

  • If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up & apologize

  • It’s not bragging if you can back it up

  • Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision

  • It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am

  • I’m young; I’m handsome; I’m fast. I can’t possibly be beat

  • I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was

  • Live every day as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right

  • I don’t have to be what you want me to be

  • I figured that if I said it enough I would convince the world that I really was the greatest

  • Superman don’t need no seat-belt

  • It’s a lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges & I believe in myself

  • My only fault is that I don’t realize how great I really am

  • Ali’s got a left, Ali’s got a right – when he knocks you down, you’ll sleep for a night; & when you lie on the floor and the ref counts to ten, hope & pray that you never meet me again

When you take your place on the right, and Pac’s sitting in the middle, save me a seat on the left at Thug’s Mansion R.I.P.

Photo Cred: giphy.com

Just Keep Swimming — Just Keep Swimming…

Watch My Breast…Stroke

Once, in 9th-grade science, the teacher asks everyone what they want to be when they “grow up”. You said a forensic scientist. Who says things like that? You do. Remember when you dreamed of being a lawyer? Now you just sit online, talking to yourself just trying to stay afloat. Darling, just keep swimming.

What – are – you – doing – with – your – life?

Shit, I try to be inspirational about it; reminding myself that not everyone is a dreamer. Looking at the odds Bill Gates dropped out at 18; Oprah got fired from her first gig at 25. Oh! And lest not forget JK! Harry motherfucking Potter got rejected; fame and fortune didn’t come for her until later in life.

Be mindful! Take advantage of life and finesse the fuck out of that shit. It’s critical to be in an environment that allows you to take advantage and be creative.

Just Keep Swimming.

Photo Cred: desertswimschool.com 

“Ssh…be quiet”

Ssh…be quiet

I can hear your feet drag across the floor; hear the door close from you checking the closet. I remember when I first met you. I was out Christmas shopping. The way you stood before me with pure confidence, striking poise and shoulders that would’ve even made the Gods jealous.

I was so mesmerized by the way you would say my name, hold my hand and at night – showed me how much you cared. I would lie in your arms and imagine our entire lives together. The house, the cars, the money and of course the kids, so many kids – but what I could never imagine was this…

Ssh…be quiet

Each stride you take up the stairs feels like a gun being shot in my eardrums I’ve never heard a sound so loud…I could never imagine the manipulations, the limitations, screaming contests, broken dishes, holes in the wall – the power.

…We grew up together. He was the first boy I’d ever kissed; we went to homecoming together – Prom. We even sat next to each other at graduation. If it hadn’t been for college we would still be together. If only I hadn’t been so eager to leave our small town then maybe – just maybe I wouldn’t have met you.

Ssh…be quiet

You open our daughter’s room! You have the audacity to think that I would put her in any form of danger? Leave her sleeping peacefully disconnected from this somber place she calls home.

….I remember the first time it happened. It was our anniversary and we had yet another one of our infamous blow ups. You told me that I would be nothing without you and that without you I wouldn’t be draped in such exquisite gems and couture garments. I vowed to never ask you for anything ever again and as I proceeded to remove the one thing that held us together, I felt the burning sting being planted on my cheek.

A sense of disbelief poured over me as the blood drained from my face. I told you I was leaving and never coming back, taking our daughter to go on and start a new life without you. It was in that moment that you looked so childlike and my motherly instincts kicked into high gear. I had to be there for you. You promised to never do it again. You gave me your word. You. 

Ssh…be quiet

You closed her door and, again, drag your feet ever so slowly calling my name. I’ve never been so intimidated in my life.

He came over earlier today to accompany me for my birthday – an intimate moment you stopped celebrating years ago. As the blended poison flowed through my body I expressed to him how I missed his touch, that I missed being back home – it’s been too long since I’ve last seen him and how if I could I would make a different decision. I hadn’t felt that loved in such a long time. He pulled me close; I inhaled his scent and in you walked…

Ssh…be quiet

I can hear you open the door to our bedroom; my heart begins to pound so violently that I feel a hole forming in my chest. I’m aware of my fate before it even happens. The look of death in your eyes, the vein protruding from your temples, the way your mouth is half-open as if you were breathing in my soul…You beat him away so bad to the point that his body would never be recognized. It was in that moment that I proceeded to hide and grab my only way out, now I sit in this closet…

waiting.

Ssh…be quiet

My mind is filled with so many thoughts. How much I hate you, how much I need you, how much I love you. The voices in my head get louder and louder and I feel like they are screaming at me – you are screaming at me – making a mockery of me.

What happened to me?

I am not this woman.

This doesn’t happen to women like me.

I’m smart, sophisticated, attractive.

This is not what I imagined us to be.

The clinking sound of your belt coming off indicates that this will be one of if not the worst but it most definitely be my last. You walk slowly across the room to the closet where I am hiding and I know that it is all over.

Ssh…be quiet

I can see the shadows of your feet standing outside the door.

How did it come to this?

We used to be so happy, you and me – and it suddenly all went away.

But as I hold this steel in my hands, “be quiet” is what I tell myself. Stop thinking, everything will be over soon, there’s nothing more that can be done to me. I won’t give you the satisfaction of taking away my last breath. My pride won’t let you do that for I must do it myself.

The door has opened and I know that my life is over, but as these tears fall from my face and trail themselves down to my bosom, tell My daughter

I love her…

But mommy just couldn’t be strong anymore – my brain has stopped functioning, my heart is black and my soul is dead because I no longer love the way you lie…

Bang.

By: Brittney Smith

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Photo Cred: giphy.com

Memories

Memories

I remember when I met you and I’ll never forget that day. Forever in my memories.

Of all the events that occurred meeting you was never supposed to take place.

I was reluctant at first but I’d been parched for so long, y’all I needed to quench my thirst.

You promised if I had patience and stayed with you then things would work out for us both.

But this was only the first lie you would tell as time would later show.

We would go to your mom’s job 2-3 times a week and somehow I’d never met her.

Now I’m dropping you off at work, but you ain’t got no money – so do you actually live in this shelter?

And if you do that’s fine but why do you feel the need to always fucking lie?

Today you claimed to see your son but you just said a while ago you and your baby momma wasn’t talking cause she was on one. Why are you lying to me?

I look back on all the times we spent together, jogging my memory for anything real and I can’t find shit so I’m just wondering what was the deal…

So whenever, if ever, someone asks me about you: I’ll say, I don’t have any words for a person I don’t know although I have memories for the one I thought I once knew.

By: Brittney Smith

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Photo Cred: litairian.com

Know Yourself

Know Yourself

I once spent every day with a man who made me second guess myself. Subconscious screaming Know Yourself!

Yesterday was my last day. An impostor actually (because MEN don’t act this way) who would fly into a rage over what I said or didn’t say – about what I did or didn’t do.

After our first major argument, he’s the one who shouted, “fuck you”.

Yet an hour later he apologized and was back in my arms; looking down at him like, ‘who are you?’

Thinking to myself the question is: bitch – who you?

Every day we yelling just to reconcile. Chile

Next thing you know I’m locking him out and he’s breaking down doors putting holes in the walls…

Y’all –

I took this man to meet my family, introduced him to my business and yet I never knew where he laid his head.

He never had money but was always hungry and in need of a high but rarely ever had 5 to put on it.

I even got the nigga a bus pass…shit – I financed that ass.

This man was so intriguing thought that I allowed for his behavior to continue.

He taught me the true meaning of deception for when he smiled I wasn’t sure it was to attract or warn.

A couple of times I had to treat his life but who cared when he was under the impression that my bark was far stronger than my bite; until…

He called me:

a stupidassbitch.

Bitch? Maybe.

But a stupid ass one? Nah.

I know myself better than another and I’m certainly worth than this motherfucka could eva fathom.

His loss, though – never mine.

The point of all this: don’t break the mirror if you can’t stand the reflection.

That’s a lifetime of bad luck.

By: Brittney Smith

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Photo Cred: audiomack.com

Lord Knows

My mother informed me of an event this past Friday that took place today in which she low-key volunteered me to perform. Lord Knows I had less than 48 hours to write, edit, rewrite again and memorize this. I hope you all enjoy it

LORD KNOWS

And so it seems: whenever we choose to seek power – unsustainable events come to devour.

Lord Knows I wanna try again tomorrow for just another chance to change my circumstance-s.

I fall short every day – finding solace in whatever which way.

Having been baptized but never filled – tryna walk the right way, I don’t have the skills.

Because religion ain’t enough; the power to resist, now, that’s the tough stuff.

Salvation comes by faith through grace and it seems my mustard seed somehow got misplaced.

But it’s ironic whenever we seek guidance; there’s typically now a virus and we’re frightened – shouting to the heavens for an alliance.

But beware – because the same hand that covers also convicts…

Which is why I shall remain focused and fixed

Distinguishing the differences between an unclean spirit.

Lord Knows I’ve been tested – for he was the one who administrated it.

But I gotta stay invested and committed because no past it too dark for redemption to not cover it

So take the word and stand on something solid

I’m not yet ready to die for it because I’m still tryna to figure out what it means to be alive for it.

So are you strong enough for God or is God strong enough for you?

By: Brittney Smith

_________________

{I was told that the sound doesn’t carry good sound so there is an audio-only option above}

Photo Cred: giphy.com

Begin the Formation

Okay Ladies Now Let’s Get in Formation

We put so much pressure on ourselves to be everything to everybody. We as in black women. At this stage in our lives we’re overstressed and downright tired. Many of us are graduating, getting married and having babies. Some of us are settling into our careers and sustaining households. Our parents are getting older and police brutality is making a comeback. Now is the time to begin the formation to the woman you were born to be.

This my sh*t. I make the rules around this bihh.

I solely make the decisions about what goes up and/or what should come down. No woman ever made history being timid.
This February I intended to write a piece that celebrated and recognized Black people. I wanted to pull inspiration from everything BLACK going on: the Image Awards, ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood, yes – the O.J. story and of course the countless accounts that we have all been told. It was as if I was waiting for a spark of inspiration to emerge from mainstream media with accounts on “blackness”. But that doesn’t make any sense.

Celebrate Every Day of the Year

Black history is made every day and it ain’t enough to read and retweet about it. Gotta be out here living it.Gotta be out here leading. As a Black person, what history have you made today? Are you even in the process? I call myself a writer but I’ve noticed that I don’t actually spend that much time writing. I wonder how many extra hours of practice Cam Newton put in during the off-season? How many rehearsals did it take Taraji to get those lines perfect? I heard Beyoncé shot a video for 72 hours straight. My black is beautiful, my history – strong; so it’s not this month but my history is in the making. Prepare for the saga —

Aye yo, B – begin the formation.
Photo Cred: Pinterest