Author Archives: Ten Speaks

The Latest Face of The Exceptional Nigger

WEBDuboisQuoteAdd “Standing While Black” to the list of offenses which are apparently criminal acts when committed by black folks.  James Blake found that out recently.

I’ve said it before here, and I’ll say it again:

“If you’re a person of color in America, especially a highly educated and/or acomplished Black person, your exceptionalism does not exempt you from racial profiling, blatant racism and the subtle (and not so subtle) psychological stress of systemic oppression. Your exceptionalism is inconsequential to your one, immediately defining physical characteristic—your blackness.”

That is the classic Exceptional Nigger.  We are frequently reminded that America views us still as Niggers, despite our JDs, Phds, Ed.Ds, MDs, MAs, MBAs, MSs, and the plethora of other elite pedigree calling cards that open doors and provide entree into our respective communities’ inner circles, to mix it up in the “right” social circles and to hold sway with elected officials and to enjoy some modicum of influence with the “powers that be”.

But lest we get too comfortable, and think that the “collective we”, by virtue of our pedigrees and positions, are exempt from the fate of the likes of less influential black folks like John Crawford, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, and Freddie Gray, the “system”, that complex machinery that churns independent of, or in concert with, active racists (depending on the circumstances) comes bearing down on us with its massive oppressive weight, and reminds us that we, especially those of us who society deems “exceptional” are still, nonetheless, just Niggers in the eyes of the state.

So deeply ingrained is our status as NIggers, that a white man accused of the cold-blooded massacre of nine people who welcomed him into their bible study could be arrested peacefully, and the white man who convinced millions of people that Subway could aid us in our weight loss efforts, all the while allegedly molesting children, could merit a knock on his door in order to be arrested, while a Harvard-educated tennis star ranked #4 in the world at one time, could be violently tackled and taken down by not one, not two, but four New York police officers, all for the suspicion of having purchased a cell phone with a stolen credit card, while standing outside his swanky New York hotel.

But, Exceptional Nigger status has its perks over just being a nigger.  You see rarely will the “system” acknowledge that it called us out as a Nigger.  Rarely will it validate our state-induced psychic trauma with as much as a “we’re sorry” or “we messed up”.  Instead, it criminalizes the victims of its oppression.  We’ve seen this.  We know what this looks like.

But, James Blake is an Exceptional Nigger, so the NYPD Commissioner is trying to apologize to Mr. Blake.  He even placed the first officer who charged Blake on a “modified assignment”, removing his badge and gun while Internal Affairs investigates.  Blake’s money, pedigree, and celebrity status are the perfect trifecta for the illusion that justice will be served.

That’s certainly more than Mike Brown or John Crawford got.  Usually, police officers make money off their state-sanctioned abuse of unarmed black folks.  Donations to GoFundMe accounts overflow in support of the police, while those in charge clear officers of any wrongdoing.

But here’s what the “system” grossly misunderstands.  Exceptional Niggers won’t be bought, compromised or placated by illusory efforts at making amends.  We know that for every one of us, there’s dozens of others for whom no justice is forthcoming; not even illusory justice.

Instead, we’ll use our “Exceptional” status to shine a light in dark places and demand changes.  We didn’t acquire “exceptionalism” by being docile.  And we won’t allow it to be used for the manipulative purpose of silencing us.


Thanks to IZ Quotes for the graphic.

Negro Backfired

White people created racial classifications to justify slavery and categorization of black folks as chattel property. Of white people.  1943_Colored_Waiting_Room_Sign

Now you’re mad when we claim that same blackness and receive special attention for it. Yet the only reason we get any special attention is to undo the damage caused by white people in the first place. Affirmative action is what it’s called.  And the fact is, white women have been the biggest benefactors of affirmative action.

But white people never intended for us to benefit from being a nigger. Even an exceptional one. It was only to be used as a stick against us (quite literally and figuratively), and never as a carrot. In their wildest imagination, white people never envisioned our blackness might be used to atone for their sins.

There have been others, but now we have Abigail Fisher, a white woman suing the University of Texas because she was denied admission and is claiming that affirmative action admission policies are unconstitutional.

Let me understand this.

You labeled me “colored” or a negro…which turned to treating me like a nigger. This was done to separate and segregate and marginalize and denigrate make me “less than” and to ensure that I was “kept from” good jobs, good education, good homes, good communities, opportunity for wealth, and essentially anything desirable to white people, including my babies and my man. You never intended for any good to come from it.  And then you have the unmitigated gall to tell me to pull myself up by my bootstraps?

So now you’re mad, huh? Mad that the law actually has the nerve to recognize that we cannot depend upon the goodness of the oppressors to make up for the generational psychological and financial trauma visited upon an entire people for your financial enrichment? So you’re mad that the law recognizes that we must have “affirmative action” to remedy just a portion, a tiny portion, of the harm inflicted upon black people by white people?

So you’re mad that my black son was accepted to college over your white son?

Puh-lease.  Bye Felecia.


Thanks to Wikipedia for the image.

An Open Letter to White People

LettersIn 2012, when Trayvon Martin was murdered, and George Zimmerman was still walking around Florida free as a bird, I wrote an “Open Letter to My Community”. In that letter, I talked about how I felt about Trayvon’s murder, as a Black mother with two Black sons, who were, at that time, 19 and 23. And I had questions for my community about what I should tell my sons about why Trayvon is dead. Here’s an excerpt of that open letter:

I’ve already told them all their lives that they have to be extra careful because, since they are young black men, society will quickly label them “suspicious” and guilty. Of something. Of anything. But, mostly for doing whatever they do…while being Black. Driving while Black. Hanging out with friends while Black. Shopping while Black.
And now, apparently, for walking home from the 7-11 with Skittles and a can of pop. While Black. How do I explain that to them? Do I tell them to keep their head down, eyes averted and move to the other side of the street when approached by a white person, like Black folks used to do in the south back during Jim Crow days? That seems a tad bit archaic and submissive to me, but on the other hand, if they make it home alive, who cares about their dignity, right?
Do I keep them locked up in the house unless their dad or I accompany them outside? Much more practical and easier to do when they were 4 and 7 years old than now. And besides, since I’m married to a Black man, who is equally as much a potential target practice subject as my sons, that doesn’t seem so safe anyway.
Do I ban them from wearing hoodies, jeans and white tennis shoes and make them cut off their beloved dreads so as not to scare good, “just-looking-out-for-my-neighborhood” folks? Would making them walk around in a suit, tie and bald make them safer and less threatening? Since I’m raising Black sons, perhaps I don’t get to instill in them a sense of pride in self-expression. Perhaps the most I can dream to teach them is a sense of self-preservation.

But that was then. I’m over all those questions now. Too much has happened. It all started with the meteoric rise of the Tea Party (whose resurgence—yes I said resurgence—more on that in a minute—coincided with Barack Obama’s change of address to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave). Then, Trayvon’s murder. Then, in rapid succession in a matter of a few short months, there was Paula Deen, the Supreme Court’s invalidation of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1963 – the provisions intended to keep in check those states who were historically known to interfere with Black folks voting, the infamous “not-guilty” verdict which set George Zimmerman free, Jordan Davis’ murder, Mike Brown, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Jonathan Ferrell, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland and oh, so many more.  One every 28 hours the statistics show us.

Allow me to digress for a moment.

Let’s talk about Paula Deen. If only I had a dollar for every person who responded to one of my many Face Book posts about Paula Deen with “she apologized for using the “N” word so let’s forgive and move on. After all, be honest. Who hasn’t used a racial slur in the comfort of their close circle of family and friends?” My response to that? FORGET THE “N” WORD. At the end of the day, I don’t REALLY care. I’ve been called worse by better people. And I’m regularly treated like an Exceptional Nigger by a systemically racist America.  But while everybody was distracted by the “N” word, I was grieved by her revelation that she wanted to dress black men up like slaves to entertain at an event. Since I am married to a Black man, and I have two Black sons, it is not a visual leap of imagination for me to substitute them into her little “plantation-themed” event.

So let me get this straight.

You (Paula) think it would be a good idea to take the most painful period (on a continuum of painful experiences) in Black history, and re-create it for entertainment? I think that’s essentially what she wanted to do. Let’s think about that for a second. Think. Deeply. Have you thought about it?

Well, I thought about it and here’s what I came up with. I have NEVER made a joke about the Holocaust. NEVER. In my entire life. Nor would I find funny a joke or remark that made light of the most painful period in Jewish people’s history. And if you ever have, shame on you. But, Paula Deen’s “vision”–in my mind– is tantamount to wanting to dress up Jewish people and have them “pretend” like they are dying in big ovens.

Not so funny or easily dismissed now, huh?

There would be national outrage (not just a national discussion about whether Paula should get to keep her cooking show and endorsements) if she had dared to tread there, and rightfully so. But, I digress. Back to my letter.

Like I was saying, too much has happened for me to still be asking those old questions. I have a whole new list of questions…for white people who care (because if you don’t care, I’m not talking to you anyway).

First, what are YOU telling YOUR kids about why Trayvon Martin is dead and George Zimmerman walked free? About why MIke Brown, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland are dead?  Are you teaching them that blacks and Latinos in this country do not have equality of opportunity? And that the lack of opportunity has devastating consequences for our communities? Are you teaching them that racism is real? That “white privilege” is real and that while they hear some folks talking about “merit” and “bootstraps”, they will receive some unmerited favor and be handed greased “bootstraps” in this country simply by virtue of being white, before they ever even have to prove themselves”? Have you told them that my black sons are 5 times more likely to be pulled over by the police…and end up charged with a felony than them and their friends?  And 20 times more likely to be shot by a cop?

Have you considered teaching them that there is simply no way a race of people can endure almost 300 years of chattel slavery, and then another 150 years of “black codes”, convict leasing, Jim Crow, and now Jim Crow, Jr. and the Tea Party…and come out of it unscathed…for generations to come? Ahhh, the Tea Party. Let’s park here for a moment.

In my humble opinion, the Tea Party is nothing more than the 21st century version of the Ku Klux Klan. They lost mainstream support for their white hoods and robes and went underground for a while. But, the election of a black man to the White House proved too much to take. So, they re-invented themselves, and made a come-back, climbing out of the dirt they had retreated to previously; only they couldn’t really come back in white hoods and robes and with the same name. Because, well, we’ve progressed from the place where that would be acceptable, even for conservatives.

So, in a classic marketing move, they re-branded themselves, changed their strategy (from marches and burning crosses to running for office—from the local library boards, city councils and school districts, all the way to the U.S. Congress and now, for President of the United States of America). Infiltrate and decimate. That’s their strategy. They went underground once and look what happened. Barack Obama. They aren’t taking any more chances. The gloves are off, and they’re taking no prisoners. So, the KKK: Remixed is alive and well, and coming to a local election near you.

Which takes me back to my list of questions. What are YOU doing to challenge your own notions and assumptions about these issues? Are you engaged? Are you in the ring, so to speak? Because here’s the thing. Remember, I’m only talking to white people who care. And if you care, then you can’t be a spectator. You have to get in the ring with me, where it’s dirty, messy and risky. Because in this conversation, there’s really no room for spectators. And there is no way to get in the ring and come out without some battle scars. You WILL have your feelings hurt. You WILL be exasperated, frustrated and exhausted. You WILL be challenged. You WILL feel like retreating.

But, you either join the conversation and the struggle to fight through these tough issues and figure out how to move forward from this ugly place where we find ourselves in 2015, or…please, step away, and make room for someone else. No hard feelings. Let’s not part mad. Let’s just part ways. Because for most people who look like me, there is a sense of urgency around this issue. Our neighborhoods are being destroyed. Our kids are dying. They live in despair and without hope. They are being under-represented in college and vocational training and over-represented in the prison industry (and it IS an industry). Our collective self-esteem and ability to reach self-actualization are being threatened and annihilated. Which all means that our communities are in peril. OUR communities. Yours and mine. Where we both live.

So, here’s my commitment to you. Because “the ring” is a two-way street. I will answer the tough, painful, and sometimes embarrassing questions you have about black folks and our current condition, without judgment. I will assume that your inquiries are sincere, heart-felt, and that you are trying to understand and get some frame of reference for puzzling phenomena. Like, why do we appear madder about the lack of justice for Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown than we do about rampant black-on-black crime?

The very simple answer is that we care equally about both. It’s just that the two issues are branches of the same tree. And we can’t meaningfully talk about the state of black America without talking about the legacy of white America, because we are inextricably intertwined. The point is…I know that you are wrestling to understand, and I commit to giving as much, if not more, than I am asking for.

But, join the conversation on these tough issues or get out of the way. Because, if you are a white person who cares…spectator-status is not an option.

My life and the lives of those who look like me are literally at stake.


Thanks to the Museum of Jewish Heritage for the graphic.

My Black Faith & The Christian Right: Game On

Black Christian WomanI am unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian. I love my black skin and I love Jesus Christ. Together with being a woman, those two identities are the absolute core of who I am and inform my thoughts and perspectives.

But being a black, female Christian is a hard space to live in today.  I am constantly examining and re-examining the intersection of these parts of me.

Because I’m black, I understand all too well the sting and devastation of oppression. Because I’m black, I understand how systemic racism plays out every day in the lives of black folks in a million subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

Because I’m black, I understand the ugliness of white supremacy, the arrogance of unchecked, unacknowledged white privilege and the anger and exhaustion of constantly having to fight for your humanity.

Because I’m black, I understand how insulting “All Lives Matter” is as a response to our fight to demand that “Black Lives Matter”.

Because I’m black, I know what it feels like to be marginalized and oppressed.


Because I’m Christian, I know that Jesus loves me and that he died for my sins and that I have eternal life because I’ve accepted God’s gift of salvation.

Because I’m Christian, I know that God has certain expectations of me and that I need to avoid sin.

I know what the Old Testament says about women on their periods, disobedient children, and eating certain foods (like fat). [Side note: If eating fat is a sin, for which I cannot repent, I am going straight to Hell.]

Because I’m a Christian, I know God’s law on these and many other matters, including premarital sex, tithing and drunkenness.

And because I’m Christian, I know what the Old Testament says about homosexuality.

And, importantly, because I’m a Christian, I know how self-righteous and hypocritical Christians can be.

And because of this hypocrisy, some Christians like to “weigh” sins (in spite of the fact that sin is sin) and seem to forget that we ALL sin and fall short of even coming close to being worthy of God’s grace and mercy (yes, me and you too).

I know that Christians like to “cherry pick” sins, pointing out the sin of someone else, while, with herculean efforts, ignoring the log in their own eye.

I know them when I see them. Truth be told, I’ve even been them sometimes. But since I’m a Christian, I know that God does not want HIs people to “hate on” one another and that the bible instructs us to love one another.  In fact, Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind, and the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourself.  Everything hangs on those two commandments.  I see no exceptions.

Christians are also expected to “tell the truth in love”. So here is my “truth”, spoken in love:

Honestly, I think homosexuality is a sin.  But it is no more of a sin than all of you (and me at one point in my life) are committing, who are having sex with someone you are not married to.

It is no more of a sin than the deacon in the church who is flirting with Sister “So and So” and eating up those pound cakes she’s making him, all the while married to Mother Louise.

It is no more of a sin than the sin being committed by all you adultererous, lying, drunken, tax cheating, cursing, swine eating, lusting, degenerates.

We are all saved by grace. God’s grace. Not man’s grace. And we’re all promised salvation if we “confess with our mouth and believe in our hearts” that Jesus is Lord. Nowhere in God’s word is my salvation dependent upon perfection as judged by my fellow sinners. And nowhere in God’s word are homosexuals excluded from salvation.

Yes, I’m aware of 1 Corinthians 6:9.  So, if you want to go there, let’s go there.  It condemns the sexually immoral, idolaters and adulterers, in addition to homosexuals.  So if gays have no path to Heaven, guess what?  Neither do most of us nor most of the people we know.  Sleeping with your boyfriend/girlfriend? You’re out.  Are you having sex with multiple partners?  You’re out. Cheating on your spouse?  You’re definitely out.  Idolizing money?  Go to the back of the line.  A glutton?  I’m out too.

We all can stop praying, stop tithing, stop taking Communion. We’re not going to Heaven UNLESS we stop doing those things.  Because there are apparently no saved, active sinners.  But if there are no saved, active sinners, then why does the bible tell us to repent of our sins?  If we’re not saved, then repenting of sins isn’t going to help us, and if we are saved, and therefore not actively sinning, then what is there to repent from?

But gays haven’t repented of their sin!  And you haven’t stopped looking at pornography.

Taking that literal stance is to ignore God’s provision for our secure eternity.  Romans 10:9 assures us of salvation.  And there are no exclusions from that assurance for sexually immoral people, liars, cheaters, drunks, robbers, or even people, who like me, love pork.  If we confess and believe, we will be saved.  I’m convicted that applies to EVERYBODY.

That sounds declaratory, not conditional, to me.

It would be a cruel God that would make our salvation dependent on ensuring that we don’t sin. At least not THAT sin.  But THIS sin is ok.  Well, not ok, but not like HER sin.  As long as I don’t do it too much.  But how much is too much?  At what point would my salvation be in jeopardy?

And who is the arbiter of the stability of my salvation?  My pastor?  My neighbor? The Christian Right?

To be sure, we are called to follow God’s word, including repenting of our sin. But we are also admonished that we “judge not lest you be judged”.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t “speak the truth in love” to our friends and family about their sins (and be open to receiving the same about ours), but I’m pretty clear that it does not mean that we speak hatefully toward homosexuals, that we wish harm on them, that we disassociate ourselves from them and ostracize them, or that we try to interfere with their right to live peacefully in our (collectively, including them) communities.

This behavior feels like the experience of black people in America to me.

And that ain’t Jesus.  I’m sure of that.

And I’m especially sure that it doesn’t mean that we break the law while invoking God’s name, in direct contravention of His directive that we obey the laws. That’s a direct shot at the Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk who is refusing to issue any marriage licenses so that she doesn’t issue any licenses to gays.

I see you Kim Davis, standing on righteousness, all while you’re on your 4th husband and “they” say one of your baby daddies fathered your child while you were married to another man.  In other words, the rumor is that you had an affair, and the man that you had sex with outside of your marriage is the father of one of your children.

That sounds pretty sexually immoral to me.

I’m not pointing that out to judge you Ms. Davis. I’m pointing it out to show you that when we start deeming some people’s sins as “unpardonable”, we are treading on very thin ice, as our own sins are likely to come crashing down on us ahead of the ones we sit in judgment of.  When we start judging people to the point of refusing to do the job we are paid (and in your case, elected), to do, because they don’t sin like we sin, we are on a slippery slope of pride, which, as Christians should know, goes before the fall.

I’m unashamedly black. Therefore, I am very uncomfortable with the oppression of a group of people.  And I’m Christian. Therefore, I am very uncomfortable with singling out an entire group of people for discrimination, determining their sins, and then judging them because they sin (perhaps) differently than I do.

I’m going to try to do what God has called me to do. Spread the gospel, live a Christ-honoring life, forgive others their trespasses against me and love my neighbors, including my gay neighbors, and I’m going to fight against oppression and marginalization by arrogant, hypocritical people.

I don’t pretend to have it all worked out.  I’m “working out my salvation” (that blessed assurance) as I go, and trying to hear from God for direction.

In the meantime, I’m trying to love people.  That includes gays.  And it includes others like me, whose righteousness is like filthy rags before God.

But this is my truth.  I’ll be judged for it.  And I’m ok with that.  As long as God does the judging.  All you perfect Christian folks please leave me (and my gay friends and family) alone.


Thanks to this YouTube channel for the picture.

Negro Terrorism

Who aCoimntelproPicre the biggest threats to Americans?  According to a recent study, white Americans are.  Let me say that again.

White Americans are the biggest terror threat in America.

So…why are the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security investigating the Black Lives Matter leaders and participants?  Why has the federal government treated the movement like a terrorist group?

[Exclusive: Feds Regularly Monitored Black Lives Matter Since Ferguson]

[5 Examples of Our Government Treating BlackLivesMatter Movement Like a Terrorist Group]

Instead of policing the real threats (white, right-wing extremists), our government, on a local and national level, is trying to intimidate and decimate the struggle against police brutality in black communities and our fight for equity.

Think COINTELPRO deja vu.

Think white privilege.

When DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie are investigated, but Dylan Roof went undetected, America’s War on Black People has never been more obvious.





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@#$%.