Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Burden of Being Black

Black in AmericaThe shooting deaths of the reporter and cameraman in VA are tragic and my heart and prayers go out to the families.  These were ridiculously senseless murders and inexcusable.

But I’m super incensed that news anchors are making comments like “It wasn’t like they were at a demonstration or a protest…”

As though the Black Lives Matter protests or actions result in white people being killed or as though white people are particularly vulnerable in these places.

When a white man walks into a movie theater or school and shoots and kills people, they are lone wolf individuals with mental health issues. There is no concomitant indictment on White America.  But, when a black man walks into a crowd and kills his (apparently/alleged) ex-girlfriend/ex-colleague and another colleague, somehow, all of Black America is to blame.

This is the burden of being black in America.


Shout out to for the beautiful graphic.

Letter From the Fairview Heights Jail…38 Years Later

Empty prison cell

Empty prison cell

How did I get here…from there? One minute I’m at St. Clair Square Mall shopping with my mom, cousins and aunt. The next minute, I’m handcuffed and in the back of a squad car headed to jail.

And in the front seat, the two officers mock me by talking about having sex with a black woman. I’m 15 years old and I’m scared.

How did I get here?

One minute I was minding my own business in the Burger Chef restaurant waiting for my cousin to finish her meal, and the next minute, a white teenager, in a group of about four white teenagers, grabbed my arm as I walked by his table and called me a nigger.  When I tried to pull away, he tightened his grip and as I fought with my free hand to get away, I found myself in the middle of a real, fist throwing fight.

Except I was a 15 year old girl and he was a much taller, much bigger 17 year old guy.  And had 3 of his friends with him, including another guy.  I had my 14 year old cousin.  Another girl.  And she was in no mood to jump into the middle of the fists coming at my face and body.  We were outnumbered and out-muscled.

The white kids also apparently had the Burger Chef management as allies.  Because even though I was being beaten by 4 teens, the managers decided I was the threat that needed to be subdued.  So while the managers were holding me back, the teen Klan members were wailing on me.  Free from any restriction.

Fortunately somebody had the presence of mind to call the police.  I thought help had arrived.


The police officers talked to “them” first, and then, without asking me for my version of events, came over to me and announced that I was under arrest.  By this time, my mom had shown up and when she saw me looking disheveled and in cuffs, she understandably was upset and wanted answers.  But the police felt no obligation to tell my mom nor my aunt anything.  Nor would they wait for my mom to bring her car around so she could follow them to the police station.

So off to the “system” I went.  At the station, I had the obligatory mug shot and fingerprints taken.  I was led down a hallway to an empty room to sit “until a cell frees up”.  Next to me, I hear the 4 white teens laughing and talking.  One of them walked in the hall, saw me and came in and threatened to kick my “nigger bitch ass”.

At this point, I’ve decided that I’m already arrested, probably already in trouble with my parents, and probably already going to jail (the ramblings of a scared 15 year old mind), so an invitation to fight the Klan was an invitation I wasn’t going to pass up.  So I stood up.  I knew I couldn’t win, but I was determined to lose swinging, scratching and kicking.

But when I stood up, a white police officer stepped into the room with his hand on his gun and told me to sit down.  And then he laughed with my tormentors as he sent them back to their room next door.

Come to find out, I was charged with assault and battery, while the teen Klan were charged with nothing.  I had to go to court.  My dad wasn’t socially conscious, and I didn’t yet know how to use it properly in a sentence, let alone understand the implications of what was happening to me then, and so when I was asked how I wanted to plead to the charges, I did what my dad told me to do.

“Guilty”.  And with no priors, not even a school detention to tarnish my record, this honor roll student had a record, albeit a misdemeanor, but a record nonetheless.

Little did I know that the system was beginning to teach me what an Exceptional Nigger is.

I learned that until I could get that record expunged, I had to reveal the conviction for every job I applied for as a teenager.

I learned that once I revealed my conviction, some jobs just disappeared.

I learned that even once the record was expunged, some entities don’t care about that and I still was required to reveal any record, expunged or not.

I learned even though I was falsely accused, the system isn’t always interested in the truth.  My dad did not want to take more time off work, nor want me to miss school for a trial over this matter.  More importantly, my dad felt that in this small, white, southern Illinois town, justice would be elusive for someone who looked like me.

Maybe he was more socially conscious than I gave him credit.

Wrongfully arrested and sexualized by Fairview Heights police officers at 15 years old.  I couldn’t fully understand the significance of that sexual remark then.  But I became highly aware of the history of white people treating us–black women–as highly sexualized and good for little else than domestic work and sex, on demand.

I aged more than a little that day.

Chaos or Community?

Chaos or Community…Where do we go from here?

My friend, Dr. Vincent Gaddis, a university professor , wrote this about the prophetic question Dr. King asked over 50 years ago in his book.  Indeed, where do we go?

As Dr. Gaddis stated, the chaos is not in the protests; the chaos is in the system that creates the conditions for the chaos.

The chaos is in the fact that since this article was written in January, 2015, countless more black folks have been killed by the police or have died mysteriously in police custody.

The chaos is in the fact that police officers continue to kill us with impunity.

The chaos is in the fact that black folks continue to get put on trial for their own murder.

The chaos is in the fact that we are a year out from the deaths of Eric Garner, John Crawford, and Michael Brown and not one of their executioners had to be accountable for their murders.

The chaos is in the fact that Sam DuBose was unarmed and non-confrontational, which is what “they” tell “us” we’re supposed to be, and still, a cop blew his face off.

Black folks have been forced to live in chaos since we first touch a toe on American soil in 1619 as slaves.  And the chaos hasn’t receded.  It has simply changed shape.

I agree with Dr. Gaddis that we will not have community until my humanity, and the humanity of people who look like me, is recognized and valued.   There will be chaos until black folks are free.

But I can’t shake Dr. King’s thoughts on where the biggest threat to our freedom from chaos lies.  I blogged about it here.






Black Hair Don’t Care

WeaveBlack women could cut this industry off at its knees if we never bought another weave.

I had weave once in April 2006 for a cruise. But, I felt completely uncomfortable with someone else’s hair in my head. It just didn’t feel right so I took it out as soon as I got back from the cruise.

But I’ve had my own journey with the hair care industry. Creamy Crack. White gold. Relaxer. I have been enamored with my long, thick hair…relaxed since I was 10 years old. Bone straight. So when I walked, it fanned in the wind. Yeah that. It felt better than weave to me because it was MINE. My natural hair, unnaturally altered.

But I’m so over it now. I spent a full 15 months growing out my relaxer.  I can’t believe there’s not a product on the market that strips those chemicals from your hair, if not instantly, at least faster than molasses moves in the winter.

But, after more than a year of growing out my perm and trying desperately to avoid the “BIG chop”, I decided I couldn’t wait to get to the hair God gave me in its natural state. I couldn’t wait any longer to rock my ‘fro.


Patiently waiting for the perm to grow out.  Getting the “big chop”.  Rocking twists for a few days, only to discover when I untwisted them, that I still had straight ends.  A LOT of them.

(It’s not my stylist’s fault.  I think she was very conservative with the cutting because every time the scissors “snipped” off my long hair, I cringed.  I was ready…but I was nervous.  I hadn’t seen my natural hair in over 40 years.  And I worried if I would love what God gave me.)

Back to the salon for more cutting.  Trying to learn what products to use.

“Which essential oils do you use on your hair?” a friend of mine asked.

HUH?  “Which ones SHOULD I use?”  My “natural hair ignorance” was on bright display.

So now my bathroom counter looks like a beauty supply store.  Jojoba oil?  Check.  Avocado oil? Check.  Shea butter?  Coconut oil? Twist-defining cream?  Curling jelly?  Check. Check. Check. CHECK.

I’m like a little kid venturing out for the first time on her bike without training wheels.  Nervous.  A little wobbly.  Unsure of exactly how to keep rolling forward without falling over and looking crazy.

But, I’m doing it and you know what?  Whatever it looks like, it’s MINE, all MINE, the way God intended for it to grow out of my head.

Nice to meet you hair.  I think we’re going to be best friends.  You’re wild and untamed.  And very BIG.  But you know what?  I love you.  Let’s do this dang thang!

Pre-Natural & first “Post-Natural” two-strand twist-out.  What do you think?

TDE Hair2




Puff. Puff. Pass.

Smoking weed is not my thing.  Unless they ever create a strain that TAKES my appetite.  In which case, I will become a weed-smoking connoisseur until I lose about 50 pounds.  But until that unlikely event, I’m just not into it.

However, the fact that now states are rapidly legalizing marijuana, in some form or fashion, is fascinating to me.  So let me get this straight:

Selling weed is now legal, if you apply to the state and pay a hefty fee, submit a business plan, and receive a license from the state, and have a cool million or so dollars in start up fees?  And smoking weed is now legal in some states by doing nothing other than firing up a blunt, and in others, by applying, paying a fee, and receiving a medical marijuana card?

But tens of thousands of young, mostly black and brown brothas are sitting in jail for selling and smoking the same thing that is now legal if you have a million dollars and a business plan?

Once again, this is where text talk comes in handy because I can curse (which I don’t like to do) without really cursing.


Don’t get me wrong.   I support the complete legalization of marijuana.  But that needs to come with the release of those sitting in jail for selling and using marijuana, and the cleansing of the related criminal records.  Saddling young folks with records for what amounts to, worst case scenario, a “petty offense” for these young people is ridiculous.  Imagine if a jay-walking ticket meant you were barred from obtaining a good job, getting federal financial aid, or obtaining certain security clearances.

The federal government needs to remove cannabis from its classification as an illegal drug.  But until that happens, state and local governments need to take matters into their own hands and at a minimum, decriminalize the possession of marijuana, and at best, just outright legalize it.

Bernie Sanders is on point.  White men are getting away with murder, while black and brown men are penalized for life for killing flies.  I call bull@#$%.