So recently I heard a friend JD (who was very upset and rightfully so) speak about Andrew Johnson, the teenager who was given an ultimatum of cutting off his dreadlocks, or forfeiting a wrestling match. This ultimatum was given by a referee, who already has a history of racist behavior. And JD made it a point of saying “we’re not mad enough” and I couldn’t agree more. As a collective we do not make enough noise about these unwarranted, blatant displays of prejudice. Why is it that no one questioned this referees authority to make such a demand? If these races had been reversed would this have went down the same way? The plain truth is that this was discrimination, and as usual the white man got away with it. Similarly in Kentucky, at the Butler Traditional High School, school personnel reinforced a new dress code that bans, “Dreadlocks, Cornrows, Twists” and more. The justification later stated in the notice was, “We feel a student’s academic success is directly correlated to appropriate attire and appearance.” If that is not discrimination against our black and brown children, then I don’t know what is. By singling out our children, you’re telling them that their hair or their culture rather, is “inappropriate”. And “ your education will pay the price if you don’t assimilate”. These are bold attempts to repress our children and their diversity. To make them feel small in the presence of “authority” but we have to teach our children self worth. Teach them not to allow anyone to put them down or to make them or their culture feel less worthy of respect then someone else’s. And the first step is “getting madder”.
Black history is present all around us, not just in our evolution from involuntary servitude but also in our present triumphs. That’s right I’m patting us on the back, for what we have achieved is far greater then what was ever expected of us. Coming a long way from not being allowed to study at the same schools as “them”. We have made more advances then we can count. And we haven’t even scratched the surface of our potential. Lets take a moment to celebrate us. We are in The Olympics, on Broadway, Forbes, Wall Street, The Supreme Court, and even in the Oval Office. Black history is indeed among us and we will continue to nourish them because they’re our next of kin. We will continue to break down the barriers between “Us” and “Them” in order to continue to do what’s never been done. We are raising the next generation of Marley Dia’s, Kimberly Anyadike’s, Tony Hansbury’s, Vanessa Wyche’s, and so many more. We will teach them to be proud of our culture, our history, our strengths and weaknesses. For those are the elements that have contributed to our rich history and will continue to nudge us in the direction of progression.
This book is so relevant and insightful, not to mention captivating that I had to share it with you guys. It’s the sort of thing I would hand out to my white counter parts who don’t understand the significance of kneeling during the National anthem. We want justice! We want equality! And we need accountability! “They” will never understand our struggle first hand but this is about as close as they can get.
This book is about a young African American girl who witnesses yet another one of her friends Die. Only this time it’s by the hands of a police officer. This being a very pertinent occurrence in our predominately black neighborhoods, I would like to point out a very good analysis that was made in this book.
The book’s title comes from the late Tupac Shakur’s song “Thug Life”. Other then the obvious meaning of the title, thug life was also an acronym for something much more “The hate you give little infants fucks everybody”. At first I couldn’t really wrap my head around it but then the characters in the book proceeded to explain their understanding of the quote. And I think we can all agree that each of us could take away a different interpretation but the message always stays the same.
The hate you give…
“Right. Lack of opportunities,” Daddy says. “Corporate America don’t bring jobs into our communities and they damn sure ain’t quick to hire us. Then shit even if you do have a high school diploma, so many of the schools in our neighborhoods don’t prepare us well enough.”
“Black people minorities, poor people. Everybody at the bottom of society.”
“The Oppressed” Daddy says
“Yeah. We’re the ones who get the short end of the stick, but we’re the ones they fear the most.”
“Everybody’s pissed cause one fifteen [the officer involved in the shooting] hasn’t been charged” “but also because he’s not the first one to do this and get away with it. It’s been happening and people will keep rioting until it changes. So I guess the systems still giving hate and everybody’s still getting fucked?”
She couldn’t have put it any simpler in 2017 our black men are still dying at the hands of the police. When is it going to end? There’s an article called “There’s been a big decline in the black incarceration rate, and almost nobody’s paying attention” by Keith Humphrey, but the only reason mass incarceration has decreased so much is because they’re killing us off. And “if you are staying neutral in situations of injustice, you are choosing the side of the oppressor” to quote Desmond tutu. So lets get vocal in our pursuit of justice and accountability, while we still have our rights to freedom of speech.
The main ingredient in self-love, is self worth. You can never love yourself the way you deserve to be loved until you understand your value. You’re worth being happy, loved and respected. And there is nothing wrong with putting yourself above all others, because no one will ever love you, the way you love you. With that being said become mindful of your own feelings, protect yourself and forgive yourself. We can be our own worst enemies putting the feelings of others above our own, putting ourselves in the line of fire for others and even judging ourselves to harshly. We tend to look at others and wish that we had what they do, or look the way they do. But we have to learn to stop comparing ourselves to others because you may never know the demons they face privately. Ask yourself, What makes them more deserving of your love then, you? To quote India Arie “I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within.” If you can’t seem to love who you are then make a change, but make sure you’re doing it for yourself. A part of embracing your self worth is doing things for yourself and not just to appease others or fit their ideals. Do not be afraid to be outspoken, trendsetting, or even weird because your real friends will love you more for it.
Representation of women in today’s society, is largely influenced by the media. Whether it’s movies, shows, music videos or even the news, women are seen first and heard second. Meaning if a women wants to partake in the conversation she first has to “look the part”. If not she will be ridiculed and all the attention will be drawn not to what she has to say, but what she has the audacity to wear (or not wear). It’s almost as if the media governs society, determining what’s accepted and what’s rejected more often then we care to admit. With that being said when women are portrayed as weak, dependent or sex symbols (as we often are) , it makes it harder for us to be taken seriously.
We have to work twice as hard to get only half of what “they” get. I understand that today women are taking more control of their body’s and not caring as much about what others may have to say. This is a great feeling of liberation that not many women in other countries have the luxury of experiencing but we still have a long way to go. We have to be more open to other people’s differences, and accepting to their individuality. Which brings me to a movement I’d like to talk about, “The Slut Walk”. I’ve been scolded plenty for supporting this movement but I respect what Amber Rose is trying to do. This movement is to bring to the attention of the public, that women can dress however they please and still demand respect. It’s to express that we’re tired of being judged by our attire, tired of the disrespect, and just flat out over the name-calling. Now where’s the wrong in that? The problem with society is that they hear “Slut Walk” and they assume that just because Amber Rose use to be a stripper (which makes her nothing but comfortable in her own skin), that she’s giving women reasons to dress like “hoes”. And it’s unfortunate that this kind of remark is often made by women more then men. Instead of seeing the movement as a way to teach society that women should not be “slut shamed” and constrained to long or loose fitting garments. They judge the movement because walking outside in short or formfitting clothes does not fit into their wardrobe preference.
As women we are our own worst enemies, coming down hard on one another, but harder on ourselves. We are too busy trying to look like these women we see in media, the ones that our men idolize because they were taught that that’s what women should look like. So when young girls grow up around this kind of behavior they fall into line at a young age. Trying to look “pretty” as well as bullying other girls that don’t meet the criteria by putting them down. Young girls grow up to be teens hating their bodies and allowing their insecurities to over shadow their self-worth. They learn to hide their identities behind pounds of makeup, never acknowledging their natural beauty and constantly seeking validation from social media. Sometimes if social media doesn’t except them they even go to the lengths of body modification. We need to take a closer look at how we represent ourselves and make sure that we are setting the right example for our young and impressionable youth. We also need to make it a point to not allow the media to define us, we are strong, intelligent and very much capable of doing anything a man can do. We just need to get past the introductions…
If you walked into a drug store that had a section labeled “Ethnic Hair Care” would you think twice about it ? Would you even notice? How about if you noticed another section labeled “Hair needs”? So now there’s two sections. I guess that would all depend on whether you fall into the category of “Ethnic”…
When entered into a search engine one definition of “Ethnic” is “characteristics belonging to non western cultural tradition… non western-other wise known as European. So there’s an “Ethnic” Hair section and then there’s a “western cultural” hair section. Is anyone else bothered by this? Well I guess President Obama did put it best when he said “Race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society” and so it shows. Now this may seem minimal compared to having to segregated schools but it does show that we’re not seen as one. Granted, Yes our hair textures are very different but when you walk into a multimillion dollar franchise that has a section labeled “Ethnic Hair Care”, you have to wonder “is this how we’re seen?” Racked published an article by a woman named Jascmeen Bush called “I’m breaking up with the ethnic hair care aisle” that drove right to the point. In her article she wrote;
“The only thing that the ethnic hair care aisle does is reinforce the idea that race and hair go hand in hand. That our hair and our ethnicities separate “us” from “them.” For a long time, I bought into it—literally. What else was I supposed to think? “I guess I’m ethnic so this is where I’m supposed to shop.” Wrong. The whole idea of categorizing hair based on ethnicity? Very wrong. Hair is hair. As far as categories, it all boils down to thin, thick, coarse, curly, and straight, with mixtures and degrees of each…”
As a woman of a non western decent, I walk into this section and double back to read and reread that label. Then I look around and majority of these products are made here in the United States so then I compare them to the products in the “Hair Needs” section, and they are also made in the United States. I see people of both western and non western decent shopping in both sections… So what I want to know now is, how do they decide what should go in the “ethnic hair care” Section and what goes in “hair needs”?