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

 

 

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

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