Thursday, January 21, 2010

Today I had a Thought...

I remember pretty vividly my time with Almost Fiancé. Mostly because it was pretty intense (in a good, healthy way). But also because I did a significant amount of growing up during that time and during our relationship. I remember quite clearly one of the worst conversations we ever had. I believe it was during his first deployment (I think by the time the second one rolled around we had broken up. Damn I am getting old with the details, y'all). I was already having a REALLY difficult time with him being gone, it was the worst possible time of year for it (he got news he was leaving a handful of days before Christmas), and if I am not mistaken, he would be gone for nine months.

It was awful. We were young (he moreso than me because I wanted to get prepared for my cougar years early), we were separated, and I was crazy about him. And he wasn't just gone; he was in Baghdad. Then Fallujah. Then... elsewhere. I can't remember all the details. But it was 2005, a few years into Baby Bush's "War on Terror". And of course he couldn't have a relatively safe job mostly, I think, because he wanted to kill me. I remember it being dangerous. And I remember bursting into tears at the mere sight of the news. And laying down with my phone on my pillow, completely afraid to go to sleep in case I missed his call because God only knew when we would be able to talk again.

It was the times in between the calls that were killing me. Literally. I couldn't sleep because I worried and I was afraid that if I did fall asleep because I was exhausted I would sleep so hard I would miss his call. And when he would call (usually at some ungodly hour over in the night) we would stay up until we absolutely couldn't anymore, usually well into the next day, talking and trying to catch up, trying to pretend that he was down the street and not all the way across the world.

And I don't say that to romanticize this shit, I say it to real talk just how out of whack my everything was just because he was gone.

But the times in between those phone calls, when I lived like an Amish person, avoiding TVs, the internet and newspapers, when I tried desperately to convince myself that it had days, then weeks, since I'd heard from him was because he was incredibly busy, not incredibly hurt, THAT is what did me in. It takes far more strength to be a military spouse than I EVER gave anyone credit for. It was during one of these stretches of silence from his edge of the earth that I first started having slight panic attacks at the sight of unknown numbers on my caller ID. My pulse would pound. I'd sweat. It would be hard to breathe. My tongue would seemingly swell in between my teeth, sticking to the roof of my mouth. Everything in the world would go mute. I just knew every time that it would be someone calling me to tell me that he wasn't just going to miss my next birthday; he was going to miss ALL of them.

Except it was then that I realized; no one would call me.

I wasn't family. We weren't married. At the time, I hadn't yet met his family, so I was as foreign to them as any hoe he was running through (omg back when we were just friends he used to be SUCH a whore, lol). I knew his friends, but we weren't the best of friends (though I did eventually grow rather close to one of his childhood friends). No one would call me. I knew exactly how I would hear about it; Air Force would call his mom. Mom would tell family. Eventually, word would get around to Gay Husband's family (Gay Hubby's mom and Almost Fiancé’s mom were close; GH and AF used to be close. Get it?) and Gay Hubby's Mom would tell GH who would tell me.

Probably days and days after the shit happened.

And I would be an utter mess.

It killed me to know that I might be the last person to know that this man I was building a life with had died. Or that I wouldn't be able to contribute all of the millions of little pieces of knowledge I had acquired about him during our time together to planning whatever came after. That I would essentially be cut off from the only other people who understood what I was going through in my grief. That I couldn't contribute in any way to making sure that everything was exactly what he wanted.

Thus precipitated The Worst Conversation Ever. I'd been in a bit of a mood the couple days prior, what with the no sleeping, anxious mess I was, and he noticed immediately. After a bit of prodding on his part I finally confessed what was causing me all this angst; I feared that I would be the last to know if something had happened to him because I wasn't his wife.

I'm having a hard time recalling the outcome of this conversation. I remember there being some exchanging of vital information, bank account info, location of his will, et all, exchanging my information with someone who would notify me if something happened that would cause him to be unable to notify me himself. It killed me, having this conversation in the very blunt style that Almost Fiancé was known for, because it made it real, it made it plausible. Speaking it into the atmosphere meant it really could happen. But knowing exactly what steps that would be taken, and that I would be involved in it made me feel about as better as I ever could have felt.

I bet you are thinking I said all of this to lend some kind of commentary to the discussion about the wars or about the importance of counseling and support for the families of deployed soldiers or even about the dangers of playing wifey to someone you are not wife to.

You would be wrong.

Today I had a thought...

If it was that hard for me, not being married to the man I was in love with, not being by his side if he was injured or dying, not being involved with the process of laying him to rest...




... how hard must it be for gay and lesbian couples who have devoted their whole lives to each other, and can't even appropriately participate in the grieving process of their loved ones because of politics?




Think about that. That is all.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Post Racial my Ass

It's true. I’ll admit it.
I see racism everywhere. I even see race inside of race, acutely and finitely.

I.e. If I were to walk into a room of brown skinned beauties, you could not convince me that at least 3% of them would hate me on sight because I make a brown paper bag look like it spray tans.

Being black, being from the south, being of mixed race, having gone to the only black school that matters a historically black university, I am more than well aware that no matter how many liberal, white bloggers pen breathless op-eds about the "post racial America" we now live in because we elected President Obama, racism is not obsolete. It is not gone. It has not vanished.

It just looks different.

Instead of burned crosses on your lawn, it's that call back that never comes for a job that looked like a sure thing until the hiring manager realized you were colored.
Instead of slavery, it is the dearth of colored people in our most powerful positions in business and government.
Instead of separate facilities and schools, it is institutionalized poverty.
Instead of nooses around our necks, it is handcuffs around our wrists.

Racism is subtle. But its undercover status is nothing new.
That is, not if you have always been a minority.


No, to the "open minded" majority who champion our equality causes (unless of course you are gay), who give regularly to the NAACP and even have a black friend, racism is but a footnote in the epic that is our great country. And now, since we have elected Special Agent Hope, it must speak to our greater consciousness as a nation that minorities are not inferior.

That's bullshit of course.

Race is a part of everything I am and everything I do, even if it has nothing to do with the matter at hand. That is the way it is.

I guess it's a black (brownyellowred) thing.
You wouldn't understand.


This sudden uptick in the purchase of rose colored glasses is understandable, if misguided. As it stands, there is no such thing as post-racial America, as catchy a marketing ploy it may be.

Racism is still all around us. It is a part of who we are as a nation, and a large part of what has shaped us as individuals, be it directly or indirectly. That is not something to be ashamed of. It is something that must be acknowledged and discussed, the struggles inherently contained therein respected and ratified where appropriate. Otherwise, there never WILL be a post-racial America, which I personally think is more depressing than the continued assertions that we are already living in that racial utopia.

That being said, and taking into consideration that I am the kind of southern black girl who thinks many things are racist...

Let's admit to each other right here and right now that Senator Harry Reid's comments regarding Obama were right on.

If you have been living under a rock somewhere the last few days, it has recently come to light in a new book that Reid said the following;


"...Obama could fare well nationally as an African-American candidate because he was “light-skinned” and didn’t speak with a “Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.”
(Source found here)

Its phrasing is poor and unfortunate. I will give you that. But the fact of the matter, it's real talk.


Is any person, especially a person of color, really naive enough to believe in their heart of hearts that if Obama were still himself, still possessed the same flair for oratory and Ivy League qualifications but he were, say, a six foot five, 250 pound, chocolate skinned brother with locs that he would still be president of our country?

If you do, well, dear...
You're an idiot.

And I mean that in the nicest way possible.

It wouldn't happen. Not in 2008. Not because people are still burning crosses on lawns. But because we are still a sum of our parts.

Politics is marketing. Pure and simple. Sure, we would like for the candidate to know a little something about politics, but the right machine behind anyone can make them successful (hello Sarah Palin). Being a successful political player is just as much about what you know as who you know, what you look like, what your back story is...

What you look like.

Obama is a handsome guy, clean cut, a bit on the skinny side as to not be too intimidating to Middle America, and to boot, he's fair skinned. Why? Oh that's right, because he has a white mother.

Remember her? She and her parents featured prominently in the campaign, mostly to create a narrative of the future president but also, in the mind of the most politically shrewd, a way to reassure people overtly or subconsciously leery of a black man as leader of our nation that he wasn't that dangerous.
He couldn't be! He was raised by someone who looks like you!

It was a lucky break for Obama, to be sure. Had he been son of, oh, say a Black Panther, his presidential run would have been shorter than Britney Spears' hair underneath her extensions. But instead, he had a beautiful, intelligent, mother, born to a war hero and a feisty feminist way ahead of her time, who raised him to be kind and empathetic, to be patriotic and to serve his community and country.

If you believe for a second that story would have resonated with people had all the leading characters been black, you have much research about racial relations in this country to do.

All of that being said, President Obama's personal narrative aside, the undeniable fact (at least in my mind) that he would not have been as successful had he been darker or spoken with a "Negro dialect" (holla back M. Steezy!) does not mean that everyone is racist. It doesn't mean that all white people that would have judged him or been uncomfortable with him are horrible people who wish black people were still slaves. That kind of sweeping characterization is EXACTLY why we can't have any kind of frank and honest conversation about race in our country.

It simply means, that we are a sum of our parts. We are ALL a product of slavery, even if our skin color is the different. We are ALL children of the civil rights movement, no matter which side of the fire hoses we would have stood on. We are ALL born of affirmative action and segregation, even if how these social issues have effected us are vastly different.

What Senator Reid said was unfortunately worded, but it doesn't make it any less true. What he said was, perhaps, one of the most politically shrewd things anyone has said aloud about President Obama's election; he would not be president if he looked differently and didn't speak like most of Middle America. I know that the President cannot say so, but I would be willing to bet that inside the inner circle, the reason he brushed off the comment is because he and everyone who orchestrated his unlikely and meteoric rise to fame KNOWS that it's true. Even if they cannot give credence to that fact.

The fact of the matter is, this one historical event is not enough to serve as evidence that we live in a post racial country. As far as I am concerned, we will not be living in a post-racial America until a black man getting elected president is no longer headline news.

My charge is this: let's not get caught up in the politically incorrect bullshit. Let's all see the big picture. Senator Reid's remark was a great opening for conversation, despite the fact that it has been turned into a political pawn. If we could all, me included, stop race baiting, maybe we can finally get around to having that frank and open conversation about race and its role in the formation of our country that we have been meaning to have. Maybe we could all hear each other out, agree to disagree on some things, learn something different that we might else wise never experience. Maybe, just maybe, if we figure out how to ACTUALLY move through the issues of race in America, we might actually move toward a political and social climate where race is not an issue, rather than holding up a once in a lifetime freak event as evidence that we have fully eradicated ourselves from our history. Somewhere, deep down in my cynical heart, I believe that we can exist in that kind of utopia, free from the mental ensnaring of racial tensions. We have but to dream it, and then to work towards it. But the WORK is what must come after the dream. After all, someone already had the dream for us. It is up to us that wish it to be so to try to make that happen.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Your Resolution for 2010

Alright.

I had planned for the first post of the new year to be a whimsical and funny dalliance into the foolishness and mayhem that is my life, but I couldn't quite make that happen. Mostly because over the last few weeks, I have been preoccupied with the desire to let Nicki Minaj smash to divorce myself of my race and gender at a rate more alarming than usual.

I love being black. And I love being woman. Even more so than those things, I love being a black woman. Even with as much as MSN and CNN, et al would have me believe that my very existence is a parlay into emotional, financial, mental and marital purgatory, I go real hard for being exactly who I am. Sure, I am lighter than most and darker than few with all manner of curly hair that I didn't pick up in a bag next to the Chinese takeout spot, but I dare you to somehow invalidate my blackness.

Naw, for real. I DARE you.

That being said, I have been wanting to give up on us lately, y'all. Not because we are any less of the beautiful, strong, magical creatures we have always been. Mostly because we don't realize it.

Maybe it was all the Helena Andrews' of the world or all the statistics being hurled at us from every angle, but it seems like in 2009 y'all just got downright desperate.

Now usually when I discuss the pathology of any group that I am a part of, I use a larger "we" and include myself because I believe in being part of the solution, not the antagonist.

However, this ain't my issue so I can't really rock with that this time.

I hear it everyday. Every. Single. Damn. Day. And my male friends far outweigh my female friends, so its not just that I only talk to women. Everyday its a new tale of some outlandish, ridiculous behavior some woman has perpetuated regarding some man who probably don't deserve it.

I know that you know what I mean. You've got that friend that keeps finding The One every first Friday at the club the month after The Last One inconspiciously or passive aggressively exited stage left. And not only does she keep falling for these random guys dumb quick, she gets mad at you when you aren't convinced that he could be The One, too.

Or you know that friend that is going all out in the bedroom, cooking, cleaning, catering to a dude that IS NOT HER DUDE on the off chance that he will see what wifey material she is and thus, wife her.

Come on y'all. That kinda shit went out with Filas and french rolls.

I recognize that my own personal constitution is not one that is likely to do these things... but that's not to say I haven't done them before. Let's be clear, I am good for doing all kinds of traditional homemaker things that I am not supposed to enjoy doing for a man that I am all in for. But the difference is, I do it for ME. I cook for my partners because it makes ME happy. I clean and make lunches and turn it out in the bedroom and tie ties and charm his friends because it fulfills ME. Not because I hope it will elevate my standings in his eyes.

On the same note however, don't get it twisted; I've been stupid over a nigga. At least once.

But it's the pattern that bothers me, that makes me worry that maybe we are all buying into our own worst hype. It's the continuous and desperate latching on to these men that ain't shit, won't ever be shit, couldn't buy shit at the store with a coupon and a list.

Its become a bit of an epidemic I'm afraid. And we are above it. ABOVE IT. Not because of our education or our bodies or our skin tone or our shoe game. But because as women, black women especially, we deserve a faithful, funny, fetching man (of whatever race you so choose) that doesn't belong to anyone else. Buying into the great white hype of there being no available/honorable/straight men out there for us is only perpetuating the very cycles of broken heartedness, single parent households, and marriagelessness (I don't care if that's not a word) that we say we want to break free of. And maybe it is naive of me, but even I, the eternal skeptic, believe that man is out there.

If we would stop looking in all the wrong places.

If you look for a man who's personal constitution lines up with your own, not who looks good on paper, maybe we could all stop hearing these tales of these women who stay with the dude who cheats/beats/lies.
Because I know you have all heard that.

Let's keep it 100 for just a second: If you are single and/or unmarried, look at your life right now. Look at it objectively. Have you died? Are you mortally wounded? Has every year of your life been without joy or happiness of any kind?

I didn't fucking think so.

There are plenty psychological reasons why women stay with men who are beneath them. But far more often than not it is simply just FEAR. Fear of being alone. Fear that you will never find someone. Fear that others will judge you. Fear that it means that you are unworthy. Fear that without a man, you have no idea how to define yourself.

And it's bullshit.

I have never been huge on marriage, though I have wanted to get married... to ONE person in particular, not to just the idea at large. If I never get married, I won't even pretend that I am so impervious to emotion that there aren't times where I won't be lonely, where I will want someone around, where I may even waste a small amount of time with someone unworthy just to have some occupancy in my space. I get it; I'm human, too.

But my big picture is still vivid. My life will not be dull if I don't get married. It will be no less full or happy or fulfilling or fun because there isn't a man in it. I will still do the things I love, see the places I love, share my life with the people I love who love me back just as magnificently.

Because I DESERVE that.

If I don't get married, I will not die. My life will not cease to have meaning. I will not fall neatly into some statistic or misguided WaPo article. Being alone does not mean you are somehow less than. So please, for my own sake if not yours, stop latching on to half a man just to say you have one. Having a faulty, flawed man is NEVER better than not having a man.

And who's to say you aren't missing out on The One while you are bidding your time with men that are beneath you?

Surely it's a more complex issue than I am giving credence to here. But the real talk of the matter is, no matter the symptoms, the cure is not all that deep:

Give your time to people who MATTER, people who DESERVE it, people FULLY CAPABLE OF RECEIVING YOUR LOVE, who can RECIPROCATE IN A FASHION APPROPRIATE TO YOUR NEEDS. Time is the only natural resource that we use and use that we can NEVER get back or replicate.

So why the fuck do we keep wasting it on these bitch ass dudes?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Renewal

I had the best NYE, yall. Spent it with my girls (and Jay Jay aka Wanye aka Titty Watcher since 1984), in Atl drinking, eating, talking MUCH shit.

MUCH.
Your girl likes to talk shit. Renews the spirit I find. :-)

I could do a whole big thing about the types of huge monkey balls that 2009 (and many of the years prior to it) sucked, but I choose to focus on the positive;

I got the opportunity to close out the year with some of my favoritest people on earth, in my favorite city on earth, doing what I love to do more than anything...

Drinking, laughing til I'm hoarse and dancing to hood music.

Fuck with me!!! lol

Already, 2010 is getting off to... an interesting start. But I feel no kinda way about the things that have or haven't happened yet. I feel anchored in a way that I can't recall feeling more than once ever before (and we all know how that shit worked out). And I believe it is all because of the company I have chosen to keep.

Despite all of the things I have ruined, failed at, never attempted, ran away from, been afraid of last year, I am grateful for the people in my life right now.

I am LOVED, yall. In a very, VERY serious way.
It feels really good.
Better, probably, than any romantic love I have ever known because this is easy, real, authentic love. Genuine in every way imaginable.

And laugh out loud funny.

Things are changing for me. I've made a few resolutions, some out loud, some in my own head that I won't bother to put here. But I feel the springs turning. I have a long way to go but I feel ready for the world. I feel the rebirth of some things I buried. Including writing. There's some new cast members, some old characters coming back to haunt me, new things to do and places to see (and get drunk).

So who's interested in coming along with me? I make good drinks... :-)