You know, I’m beginning to think that 50 is the new retirement. Particularly for those of us who refuse to bite our tongues or pretend to go along to get along on jobs! Regardless of how much longer many of us live or how much better we look, working until our mid-sixties just might be a thing of the past! Instead of working for someone else, maybe it’s our time to prepare for REINVENTION instead of retirement. Yes! By the 50th mark, it is time to volunteer, mentor or work for your damn self! I find the closer I get to 50, the harder it is to respect ill-prepared or premature young professionals in leadership positions.
And it is not from a disrespectful, insubordinate or defiant space! I actually prefer STRONG AND ORGANIZED leadership… as loooooong as it is FAIR AND CONSISTENT!!!! I am all about following and respecting procedures and policies. It’s just, around the 50th mark, most of us have seen and heard a lot! No! we are not perfect. Old and lazy fools do exist! LOL! However, as a highly trained and qualified professional and life-learner with thirty years of work experience, I am not interested in coddling the insecurities and inadequacies of young professionals while they are paid to lead and manage employees. I have played many positions, earned multiple degrees, attended tons of trainings, worked in all types of environments, served all kinds of bosses and even performed in leadership roles myself. Needless to say, I may come off as challenging and intimidating, but not to an effective, qualified leader with management finesse and confidence.
Overall, EXPERIENCE usually equips us with hindsight and 20/20 vision when it comes to people, places and problems. Unfortunately, working under those with minimum experience and shallow wisdom is like watching a brand new driver take the steering wheel, and putting the livelihoods of all her passengers in danger. The younger and inexperienced driver has read all of the latest driving books, attended the most popular drivers conferences/workshops and earned the required driver ed degrees. However, the young driver thinks mainly about the power behind the wheel, the excitement of driving for the first time or the final destination. The experienced driver, on the other hand, has already navigated the traffic jams, police stops, speed bumps and road detours.
And since brutal honesty can sometimes outweigh polite filters when spewed out the mouths of those in the 50+ club, experienced drivers might appear less patient. They nag and shout warnings, directions and shortcuts from their passenger side or back seat! And who likes a backseat or passenger side driver while they’re steering the wheel? Yet, when has there ever been too many eyes watching the road? Moreover, what’s competitive about people riding in the same car and arriving at the same place? Why not take the advice of a traveler with more mileage? Chances are, ” They have already been where you’re trying to go”!
Whyyyyyyy do I constantly struggle with this on and off again relationship with St. Louis???? Instead of birthday plans, I’m plotting moves. Where to this time? My soul seeks. My spirit wrestles. I know all too well about happiness coming from within, but I’m not so sure I should discount my surroundings. Places do contain energy. Is not where I live connected to how I feel?
St. Louis is….oooooooh….I don’t know! Shit! It is constantly up and down for me. Here is what I do know for sure: I don’t do much when I’m here. My home is my haven. It is really more like a security blanket. I can go to any other city and immediately make connections and meet opportunities. That’s not to say that St. Louis has not served me well professionally, but personally and socially, it lacks something! And it just can’t be me!
Like, there is something soooooo oppressive here. It’s hard to dream and think BIG! I don’t feel free and open! Yes, there are cultural and artistic things happening but when I attend them, the vibe is either too haughty or too cold, and I need it just right! Too much to ask? And if that wasn’t bad enough, most of my extended family lives here, but we’re no longer as close as we use to be as a family. My mother is really the closest family I have, and even our relationship can be too much at times.
Due that we are currently in my astrological season, I might just feel my waters changing. For these past five or six years, I have been satisfied with St. Louis as my home base and just taking trips here and there. But now that urge to GET OUT is upon me!
My mom and home are really the only two reasons for remaining planted here. If I wasn’t afraid to lose my house as a bigger investment payoff or a place to always return to after exploring, I might convince my mother to let go of all the junk she keeps as security and to live as gypsies. I could literally maintain a massage-on-the-go business and pursue freelance writing gigs while my mom treasure hunts and collects pieces to resell.
Or has the complacency of comfort food, familiar faces, a cool neighborhood and a “good job” gotten the best of me? I honestly don’t know. The older I get, the more I feel I should settle down, but my heart and spirit are still youthful! I want to live among an eclectic group of brown artsy people who speak different languages, who cook different foods, who dance to different music, who practice different religions, but who live close and comfortably enough to share and integrate peacefully and beautifully. That’s not asking too much. When I find it, I will end this back and forth relationship with St. Louis and leave it behind me for good!
You know, there is a lot of hype created around the idea of family. The family is the unit or backbone of society or nation building. Family should come first. The family…blah…blah..blah. No, I am not throwing shade on the notion of family, but I do believe we need to redefine what the word means, especially due to our coming/captured/colonized American experience. We have been trying to fit a white family model every since. Our families have changed drastically and so should our definition of them. Once upon a time, family names held all its members to a standard and tradition. The individuals within that family naturally acquired autonomy, but their individual feelings and behaviors did not override the sustainability of the collective family unit.
There is power in creating a strong force of kindred spirits to help manifest something exemplary that is worthy of praise. It is one of the reasons why most people prefer to fellow-worship. The act of them coming together to celebrate and nurture a set of principles they all believe and defend in life and death is transcending and transforming to say the least. The believers demonstrate an obligation to their faith and fellowship by upholding a set of beliefs and principles. And in order to maintain their strength in following and adhering to those principles, the believers meet regularly to stay the path.
What makes staying the course a challenge: Free will! Yes! CHOICES! Our choices make the difference! Hopefully, the more we mature, the better choices we make. Realistically, that is not always the case. We have adults who beg other adults for what they need, blame other adults for their shortcoming and failures, or manipulate other adults into resolving their self-inflicted problems. When in actuality, we all struggle with making our lives work in the face of personal and systematic challenges stacked against us. Nonetheless, some of us have selected a drum rather than a violin as our instrument of choice! If there is one thing I want said at my Homecoming, it is: Here lies a woman who did not “shoulda, coulda woulda” in life! I love life and all its possibilities even in its unfairness and ugliness. Adults who complain about their life, annoy the heaven out of me. And don’t let it be a blood relative! Like, come on now! Stop making the family look bad out here in these streets!
They say a family that prays together… stays together. I would like to add to the list: A family that talks to each other…a family that confronts conflict together…a family that holds individuals accountable…a family that refutes gossip…a family that supports each person’s success without competition…a family that defends and protects each other…a family that exposes hurtful secrets…a family that defies favoritism and a family that supports the role of each family member. If we are NOT cooking with the ingredients that make us a family, I reserve the right to excuse myself from the table. I am now free to dine where the menu best serves my health and longevity regardless of a missing blood link. Therefore, I strive to fellowship with adults who are making positive life choices while encouraging others to do the same. Hopefully, those constantly making personal decisions that are unaligned with their family’s WAKANDA will eventually own it and accept their fate before destroying their family’s legacy with violin strings of “shoulda…coulda…woulda”!
It could be a whole host of reasons or none at all to explain why these two opposing energies and images are happening simultaneously. But the way my spirit is set up, I can’t help but feeeeeeeeeel a strong connection between them. An ancestral force is returning and I hope I stand on the righteous side of its reckoning! T’s please!
It initially started as a piece of sexy, chocolate guy candy someone recently shared with me on Instagram. Aside from the brotha’s exquisite handsomeness and smile, I didn’t really pay much attention to the photo’s context or the source. Later the same day, my feed showed more beautiful pictures of black men. I soon discovered the pictures’ connection to the latest trending topic: #BlackMenSmiling. Still, I didn’t give it too much energy. I thought it was a cool campaign idea, but not enough to make me look further than the hashtag. I just figured, here’s one more Black thing that we have to do as Black people. I mean, every day on social media, there is something we have to address, critique, fix, defend, fight, discuss or explain. Yes! EVERY DAY!
For many of us, the constant reminder of our race starts and continues as early and as long as we can remember. It is our life’s prerequisite. Ignore it… you are considered a sell-out. Affirm it…you are deemed a rebel. No wonder we don’t know whether to smile or frown or use laughter to cover tears. We are constantly in a state of trying to be or not to be too something in order to make or not to make somebody feel some kind of way about something (just reread it slowly this time LOL!) It’s crazy! The pain and trauma are covered with passed down coping mechanisms and our facial expressions become one of our tools for protection: Smile to appear less threatening and frown to appear less fearful! Whew!
So yeah, aside from gawking at beautiful black men smiling in pictures, I didn’t give much thought to the whole #BlackMenSmiling platform. I assumed it was no different from black women being told to smile whenever we are apparently in Angry Black Woman face, which is said to be most of the time by those outside our gender and race. However, when requesting smiles for a picture I prepared to take of two young men, one in the second grade and the other in the seventh, turned into an unexpected conversation about boys not smiling, I had to blog about it! I could not believe the whole notion of #BlackMenSmiling had made its way to the table while on a play and pizza date night! Noooooo…not the babies too! DANG…DANG…DANG! You mean to tell me that our children can’t even smile for a photograph without having to confront connotations of their boyhood or maleness while enjoying the most comforting food…PIZZA!
And I mean, these two men-children were adamant about smiles not having a place in “cool” maleness! “Cool” was the operative word and the two of them, without saying one word to each other, knew they shared identical definitions. I sensed the word “cool” had a double meaning for them, but their gestures and smirks at each other suggested either they didn’t trust me enough to further explain or they lacked the words to explain it. Either way, I totally understood what they meant. Yet, I was curious about how much they really understood about what I thought they meant. I audio-taped the latter part of our table talk and made a poor attempt to bait them back to a few thoughts they had previously shared. I desperately wanted them to circle back, but I forced myself to accept and enjoy the unrecorded moment!
Regardless of age and sex, it is rather evident that many Black folks suffer from a Smiling Syndrome, as so eloquently expressed in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s, “We Wear the Mask” . No matter our specific or personal reasons, we are obviously disguising our smiles out of fear when it is LOVE that we most need. So for this Black Love Day, I’m going to cheeeeeeeeeeeeeez extra hard no matter how angry somebody makes me by accusing me of looking angry just because I’m a Black woman with a lot of shit on my mind! More important, from this day forward, I’m going to encourage any black boy I see to feel FREE and SAFE enough to smile back at me, especially if I’m taking his picture!
Happy Black Love Day!
Smile…our facial muscles could use a break.
The White Man knows exactly who The Black Woman is and the threat she poses. He knows she’s The Black Goddess Power to Be! The White Man with his agenda to control and rule seeks to destroy her. His fathers before him passed down stories of The Black Woman’s wrath and warned The White Man about the dangers of her backlash. As a result, The White Man strategizes to keep her close, where he can manipulate her powers and use them to his advantage. Whether The Black Woman is in The White Man’s bed or business, he both desires and despises her.
He is mystified by her CREATION. Behind Vatican doors, he secretively worships at the feet of her cosmic, ancestral and magical Godliness but knowingly presents a falsified white image of himself as savior and God! The Black Woman’s gum-popping, head rolling, finger-snapping DEFIANCE, DETERMINATION, LEADERSHIP, FEARLESSNESS, MATERNITY, and BRAVERY (just to name a few) are historically UNMATCHED! No other woman on the planet can provide the receipts to prove how they fought, mothered, loved, survived and created while being classified and treated as nothing more than CHATTEL! It is this brazen, firey feminity that makes The Black Woman irresistable to The White Man. Her unyielding strength matches his machismo.
Oprah is right! “Their Time is Up!” It’s time to regain a matriarchal position of power that destroys white supremacy and nurtures a balance of the sexes without becoming the evil that tried to destroy us. We also have to protect the missions, visions, names and narratives of our fight. The recent shift from racism to sexism is another ploy to distract from the larger cause. Sad to say, we were tricked into trading the racism card for a sexism one (once again)! Goddesses, we can’t bring pussy to a white supremacy fight! OUR MISSION IS MUCH BIGGER, BLACK WOMEN! We have survived being legally raped and working for no pay! And anyway, the majority of us ain’t falling for white men’s DICKtatorship unless we give our consent.
The “white women’s liberation is equal to racism” card is played whenever needle-moving strides and waves are made to unveil and dismantle white supremacy! Of course, sexism and racism share a similar strand, but it’s not at the core. White supremacy is the father of all “isms”. Bob Marley told us, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” Black women, white women can’t liberate us! They too, are pawns in the system. They may be sympathetic to our causes, but don’t let the marches, hashtags and poster boards fool you! They don’t possess the DNA of Nzinga! We’re once again involving ourselves in a fight that is not ours to own. We will be left outdoors if and when white women decide to return home and stand by their men. But can we judge them? We are in love with an oppressor that admits to hating us, so how can we fault white women for being complicit when that same oppressor claims to love them.
They say Goddess doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle. We can handle being called undesirable and ugly. We can handle being the Angry Black Woman. We can handle being copied but not credited. We can handle being abandoned and unprotected. We can handle being labeled too strong…too mouthy…too much to be loved. Most importantly, we survived slavery: therefore, we can handle crazy, narcissistic ass white men who plan to destroy Mother Planet before they’re annihilated. So allow me to add what even OPRAH could not say: IT IS NOW THE BLACK WOMAN’S TIME!