Have Mercy: The Wayward Daughter On Religion

The last almost two years have involved monumental change for me. What I thought would kill me, made me stronger. I got the opportunity to practice self-care by walking away from things and people that were no longer good for me. A door opened to allow me the chance to get paid doing what I love. I gained the older sister I always wanted but never had. Best of all, I experienced a spiritual awakening that I needed but never knew I did.

I’m like many people. I grew up being taken to worship services every week. I went through the rituals and practices by rote. I didn’t choose it. It was chosen for me from the cradle. Many of the other people knew me before I knew myself. They also knew my parents before my parents knew that I was on the way. It was tradition. It was formulaic. It was choreographed almost perfectly. I knew exactly when to stand, sit, and bow my head. I knew what to do if I messed up. Even the prayers, what was supposed to be intimate communication with the Creator of the universe, were mechanical.

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But, this new season required a new perspective on how I tended to my spirit. I told you that my previous spiritual practice was like many people. Now, I’m going to do what many of that many do not do – tell the truth. After decades, I found that I really got nothing out of it. There were lots of platitudes and control by fear. But there was never the connection that I needed. On top of that, as someone with anxiety, telling me that “God” could say “yes, no, or wait” was never a sufficient explanation for unanswered prayer.

I was blessed, however, in that my soul sister really did open me up to that which has fed my soul. She is a santera in the Lukumi tradition. It is the practice of honoring and communing with one’s ancestors as well as reverencing the Orishas, African deities. It’s been less than 6 months but in those 6 months, I’ve learned a lot. Even more important, I’ve encountered what I was told I was supposed to experience for decades in the belief system I was “born into.” Here are the first five experiences so far in my journey.

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1. New found confidence. One of the hallmarks of my day is communing with my ancestors; called eggun. These aren’t just the ancestors that I know, but those going all the way back to the beginning of the bloodline from which I came. I’ve experienced a different level of confidence knowing that even though they no longer live in this realm, they yet live and are acting as guides and protectors. They have my back, which is something you can hardly get from the people you see every day. Further, having recently lost very close relatives (2015 and 2017, respectively), knowing that the love they had for me did not die with their physical bodies but is still being showered upon me every day is a comfort like none other.

2. Freedom from guilt. Instead of what many call “being convicted,” I receive guidance. I no longer walk around thinking about if what I did or said was wrong. I don’t have to wonder if something happened as divine retribution for something I did, said, or thought three days, months, or years prior. I don’t feel guilty when I experience real and valid feelings about people or situations. There is no scolding; just redirection.

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3. Validation of my intuition. To piggyback off of #2, I’ve received much validation of my gift of intuition. My intuition took a beating during my rough patches. I stopped being able to trust the dreams and intuition that I had been experiencing since I was a young child. As it has recovered, one of the things that is happening in the natural world is that I’m constantly receiving signs that I was not crazy. I was not wrong. Those people that I haven’t particularly liked and people said it was wrong to feel that way? I’ve received proof that I was right to distance myself from those persons. Those opportunities that I turned down or walked away from that people said I shouldn’t have? My eggun is allowing me to see where I was indeed right to leave. Those people who were malicious, or who I suspected were jealous, or envious or had some other bad intention for me? Their ability to hide is now impossible. The best part of this is that there is no finger wagging about how I’m supposed to love everybody because God does. There is no inner pressure to forgive those who are not worthy of it lest God not forgive me. There is no admonition to put on a phony smile. There is complete validation of who I am and who and what is best for me and my spirit.

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4. Answers. I don’t just mean answered prayer. I mean real-time answers to real questions. I’m no longer sitting around wondering if what’s in my head is the real answer or if, in fact, I’m going to play the “Yes, No, Wait” game again. This has saved me literally hours of futile searching, kvetching, and worrying in reference to the most pressings things in my life. My eggun haven’t been wrong yet and something tells me they never will be. There has not yet been a need for me to convince myself that my confusion or curiosity is a part of the “mysterious ways” of the Creator.

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5. Kinship. This is arguably the most important part. Anyone who has studied the Bible will know the anecdote of when a pregnant Mary met up with the pregnant Elisheba (Elizabeth), mother of John The Baptist; the man who would grow to baptize Jesus. In this story, when the two pregnant women met up, Elisheba’s womb leapt. The meaning of the anecdote, or so it has been taught, is to note that even before birth, Jesus and John The Baptist knew that they would have a special relationship. I can relate. When I am communing with my eggun, my spirit bears witness. When I am petitioning Oshun, I feel it. The other night when it stormed and I was awakened and immediately began to petition Oya, I knew it wasn’t in vain. I said to my sister today that I feel that your spiritual beliefs should be as habituated to your spirit as your ear is to your mother’s voice. You don’t have to see your mother to know it’s her speaking. You know your mother.

AsheI’m not preaching and I don’t need anybody to preach to me. I can only relay what I’ve experienced and I can say that I feel freer now than I ever have before.

 Ashe

 

 

I’m Tired: My Thoughts on Child Suicide

When I was in 5th grade, there was a girl named Lacretia. She was rough around the edges. Well, as rough as a 5th grader can be. She made fun of people. She talked back to the teacher. She was academically lacking. She came from a dysfunctional family. She physically intimidated people she thought were weak. She was your classic bully.

One day, before Language Arts class, we were in the restroom. This was the day Lacretia decided to set her sights on me. I was in the stall handling my business and when I was done, I went to try to leave the stall and couldn’t open the door. Lacretia had put all her weight on the door and laughed as I kept trying to get out. What she didn’t know was that by 5th grade, I had been swimming competitively for two years and being a naturally broad-shouldered girl, and at that point, angry at her bullshit, I was able to move her and the door. That’s what I did. With all my might, I pushed the stall door and Lacretia went flying up against the tiled wall. The onlookers were in awe. I washed my hands and went on to class without uttering a word.

Lacretia never bothered me again. In fact, the next year, she matured and we even ended up friends.

Today, while scrolling FB, I came across this article. This little boy committed suicide because he was being bullied due to his weight. This is about the third report this week that I’ve seen about children resorting to suicide to escape constant bullying by their classmates and other peers. Then, there’s this report about how the number of children being admitted to the hospital due to suicide attempts has increased.

It is exhausting for me to think about the fact that there are people who are walking this earth and have developed feelings of such hopelessness before they even hit puberty. As adults, we know that life, while beautiful, comes with mountains of shit upon shit that we have to deal with on a regular basis. We know that everybody isn’t nice and won’t like us. And while I’m not opposed to children learning some of the harsher realities of life, I am crushed at the fact that any child has had such exposure to these mountains of shit and “not nice” souls that they feel that the only way out is to take their own life.

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I read these articles and the comments and they are filled with adults posting “RIP,” and “that’s so sad”, and “something needs to be done.” I wonder if they realize that it’s us, adults, who are the ones who must do “something.” Childhood is supposed to be mostly carefree besides fractions and dodge ball day. The reason that it’s becoming less and less so is because of us.

It’s not just the parents of the bullies who are messing up. It’s all adults who are failing to pick a side.

What do I mean?

Not only are we fostering environments where children grow to be callous to one another before they even know how to spell the word, but we’re also fostering environments where children feel they only have two options: bully or martyr.

This, in my humble opinion, is a problem. We know that children who are bullies weren’t just born that way and that behind their behavior is an adult who is probably bullying them. We know that children are not born hopeless and defeated, but that behind the scenes, there are adults who aren’t engaging with them in a way that exhorts them and affirms who they are. Interestingly, this is the case for both the bullies and the martyrs.

The side that adults are failing to pick is the side of the children.

We are failing to view children as whole individuals. We forget that children have egos, and souls, and spirits; and that they are filled with emotions, and thoughts, and worries just like we are. We forget that they have needs that go beyond clothing and shelter, and that, just like we want those in our life who claim to love us to nurture and protect those parts of us, children want the same thing.

Telling children to ignore hateful comments or that “sticks and stones may break [their] bones, but words will never hurt [them]” is irresponsible. Further, it’s a lie. There are words that will hurt 1,000 times worse than any stick ever could. The fracture of one’s spirit is the harshest break of all.

*shrug* I don’t have all the answers. But, I do know I’m tired.

The thing is, 10 year-olds shouldn’t be.

Don’t Give Broke People Rides: Wisdom That Has Not Failed Me Yet

***Disclaimer: when the Wayward Daughter was 20, she was a lot more tender-hearted. The events in this blog with today’s Wayward Daughter would have never happened because…I don’t give broke people rides.

When I was about 20, I had a friend. I had a car. She didn’t. One day, she asked me to take her to the grocery store. “Sure!” I was an enthusiastic 20yo who hadn’t figured out that most people are annoying and should be avoided at all costs. I didn’t mind taking her to the store because being 20, away at college, and having my own car was the bomb dot com. Plus, at 20, I was too stupid to know that driving sucks and the quicker you can get home and stay there, the better.

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We set off to the store. Once she got what she needed, she got back in the car and asked if I minded a “quick stop” to her cousin’s house to pick up “something.” The cousin just lived about “5 minutes away.” No prob, Bob! Off we went to the cousin’s house. My friend was the GPS. Next thing I know, we were getting on the highway. Um…that ain’t 5 minutes away.

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Finally, we arrive at her cousin’s house where she goes inside while I sit outside the house waiting for her to retrieve her “something” and come back out. Well, 20 minutes later, she re-emerged…with the cousin in tow. Apparently, he needed to “run up to 7-11 real quick” for some soda or something and wanted to know if I minded taking him. “Um, yeah,” I said through my teeth. The cousin was a little…street…so I decided it was best to play it cool. Take him to run his quick errand, drop him back off, and get the fuck out of there.

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We get to the 7-11 where, apparently, the cousin knows every single person who works there, hangs out outside of there, used to work there, and thinks it his duty to greet and chat with them all. A quick “run up” turned into a good 45 minutes because, “no, you can’t smoke in my car” and if that’s the case, “Imma’ smoke one out here real quick before we leave.”

Finally, we make it back to the cousin’s house where his two friends are waiting on him. He gets out, I start up the engine (remember, I was 20 and knew not the wiles of hood living; otherwise, I’d never have shut off the engine and given myself whiplash booking the fuck out of there as soon as his 2nd shoe hit the ground; I could count on physics to shut the door) as he was walking up the walkway. I put the car in gear just as my friend yells, “Hold on! He’s asking me something.” Yeah…he was asking her for another favor. He was asking the person who did not own and was not driving the car for another favor.

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This time, it was a trip to WalMart to get something for his mama. His friends start walking towards the car because apparently, their mamas needed shit too. They all hop in my backseat. I have to repeat my “no smoking” warning and one of the little pissants decides that just rolling down the window and propping his cigarette-holding arm on the door is the same as “no smoking.”

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By this time, I was fuming on the inside. Maybe an hour later, we get back to the cousin’s house where I stopped him mid-sentence while trying to ask me to cart him and his friends to a party further across town. Absolutely not! It was dark. I didn’t go to college in my hometown; not even my home state. This nonsense had begun at around 3pm that day and we were bordering on 7pm. I was pissed, tired, and HANGRY!!!

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I sped back to the campus, dropped my friend off, went to my dorm and never spoke to her again.

By the way, I received no gas money for any of these “errands” I helped people complete.

All that because I was being nice and taking my friend to the store.

From that day on, I decided that I would never again give broke people rides. You see, we know a few things to be true:

  1. Broke people are broke. If you aren’t broke or less broke, you probably have more than they do; or at the least, you likely have something they need.
  2. Broke people know how to survive.
  3. Survivors survive by using (operative word) anything at their disposal to get what they need and they don’t really give a damn if they have to go rogue, or in this case, rabidly impolite and shameless to get it.

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See, my friend had needed to go get “something” from her cousin’s house probably all week. I’m sure her cousin and his friends could have been gone to WalMart for their mamas if there was a true need. But, nobody had a car. By virtue of me being a car owner, I was a target from jump. Could the cousin have walked to the 7-11? Of course. I’m sure he had many times before. I’m sure that they’d all taken the bus to WalMart and wherever else they had to go hundreds of times. But when the opportunity arose to more easily get their needs met, they took advantage (operative phrase) of it.

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They didn’t care that I may have had other shit to do (I didn’t). They didn’t care that I may think them classless individuals who needed to take a course in etiquette (I did…and still do). They didn’t care if the gas they used up was the last gas I had for another week (it wasn’t). All they cared about was themselves. I wasn’t a person. I was a device for them to use for as long as they could.

And there it is. My rule against giving broke people rides has nothing to do with elitism or classism. It has nothing to do with thinking I’m better or above anyone. It’s about the fact that we all need to practice rogue self-preservation like the 5 individuals I was unfortunate to encounter that day.

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Since that day, I have been very selective of to whom I give a ride – in the name of self-preservation, of course.

 

 

 

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Who Is He? The 2020 Election Cycle Is A Flea Market

Well, it’s that time again! The time that, these days, never seems to not be “that time.” Elections. I can remember before He Who Shall Not Be Named won the 2016 presidential election, everybody was excited about the fact that Hillary was a sure bet to win.

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Here we are again but this time I think the collective excitement has waned.

I feel like how I felt when my AP English teacher had a heart attack on the first day of school and was temporarily replaced by another English teacher in the school who made us read and report on the longest books she could find. Eventually, we all found ourselves wondering why we couldn’t have just had a regular substitute who didn’t give a damn and at the 3-month mark, many of us became awfully religious and started praying that our regular teacher would recover. It wasn’t because we thought she would have been so much nicer but because she wasn’t the tyrant with whom we were stuck.

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Fast forward (way forward) to the 2020 election cycle, and just as I suspected, Tonald Frump’s (not an error) victory has convinced everybody who ever had more than 20 “likes” on a FB post that they, too, can be president.

Now, we have the regulars. The people we figured would run. You know, current politicians.

Elizabeth Warren, the white woman who did what every white person does when they want to make sure they aren’t a target of conversations about racism: claim Native American heritage.

Bernie Sanders, the guy who would have beat Trump in 2016 had it not been for…nevermind.

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Cory Booker.

Some white women politicians I don’t really know.

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This isn’t them…I don’t think. But they’re white so they’ll do.

Next, is Kamala Harris. Black people loved her when she was giving people the business in congressional hearings but now they hate her because when she was a prosecutor, she favored laws that punished criminals (or something like that…I’m still not clear about why we’re supposed to not like her). Also, she’s not Black anymore, her husband is white, and something about Wakanda.

There are a few other notables but then, we have random people who have decided that they are worthy of the Oval Office. We have a woman whose official job is “spiritual guru.” Apparently, she used to hang out with Oprah. Allegedly she’s down for reparations although I wouldn’t be surprised if she just wants to tell Black people to use Law of Attraction to get the back pay for all the work our ancestors did.

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There’s another guy who is a tech startup dude. He announced his candidacy before 2017 was up so he’s ON IT! He wants to give Americans $1k/mo. of guaranteed income as reparations for machines taking over jobs. That’s cute.

Then, there’s the mayor in Indiana that nobody (but the people in his city) have ever heard of before. He’s young, married, and gay. Kudos on your ambition and may the odds be ever in your favor, sir.

Let’s not forget Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. He hasn’t officially announced but I don’t want to hear shit from him until he makes sure ALL of his baristas know what “breve” means and that handing someone one Splenda packet and no stir stick (I guess I’m supposed to stir with my middle finger) is a violation.

Lastly, there are all the famous people who have “toyed” with the notion of running for president like The Rock and Kanye West (whew chile).

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While there’s nothing wrong with self-confidence, the fact that a short-order cook screwed up my eggs doesn’t mean I’m ready to jump over the counter, throw on an apron and start whipping up Hollandaise sauce and doing flambé.

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Further, I think that most of these people are in crisis mode and think that if someone doesn’t save us from  Eonald Rump (again, not a typo), we’re all set for the mass graves conspiracy theorists say exist. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that doing major shit out of fear is almost always a bad idea.

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Exclusive footage of the 2020 Democratic field of nominees.

Nonetheless, I wish the candidates luck.

 

 

 

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Elizabeth Warren: White People Are Never White When It’s Time To Address Racism

This week, Elizabeth Warren issued an apology to a Native American tribe when it was found out that on her bar registration in the 80s, she listed her race as “American Indian.” If you’ll recall, a couple of years ago, Warren declared herself Native American and Tronald Dump (intentional) made fun of her about it, much to the chagrin of many a Liberal.

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Maybe four months ago, after DNA testing, it was revealed that Warren is anywhere between 0.1 and 2% Native American at most (6-10 generations ago according to this report). I don’t recall what her reaction was at the time (and I’m not finna’ look because this is a blog, not a scientific journal) but I know I laughed like a humyena© (human + hyena…get it?!) and so did many people of beautiful brown hue because we knew what white people didn’t and that was that the results would turn out exactly as they did.

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Fast-forward to earlier this week. Warren issued a perfectly-timed apology for calling herself “American Indian” and I’m pretty sure it’s due to the speculation that she will throw her hat in the 1st-grade prize grab bag that is the Democratic race for the 2020 presidential election. Warren made a point to say that she was apologizing because tribes decide tribal citizenship. Those of you who can read between the lines know to chuckle and shake your damn head at that line.

The reason this is concerning is that whenever the topic of racism comes up, it’s white people’s natural default maneuver to claim some other heritage or religion to deflect their receipt of white privilege and deny that they have racist philosophies or have engaged in racist practices. The reason that Black people were not surprised when that DNA test blew up Warren’s spot was because 99% of us have been in conversations with white people about racism, prejudice, or inequality and heard them claim that they are actually “part” Native American (Cherokee…it’s ALWAYS Cherokee) (or Jewish) and therefore cannot be a party to racism because their pale, straight-haired, blue-eyed, aquiline-nosed selves aren’t even really white.

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I went to college in Oklahoma. By the end of my first year, I had gotten my fill of white people claiming Native American heritage to explain (without anybody asking them) why they were part of the minority scholarship class or were receiving some type of stipend to make their lives easier while in college. I would usually look at them and then walk away because I knew that it was all bullshit. Plus, I’m Black. I’m still owed reparations with interest in the names of the estates of my ancestors for building this place and making white people comfortable enough to pretend to be another race so they can continue to knock POC, particularly Black people, down several more pegs.

I also had a Black friend while I was in college. Her great-grandfather was at one time honored for his work as a Native American elder. I saw the pictures. He was a real Native American. She and her family had been trying to get their official standing within the tribe. They couldn’t…because they are Black.

See, here’s the thing: white people don’t realize how pervasive and insidious their anti-Blackness is. Their brand of anti-Blackness, where they don’t believe the treacherousness of their ancestors is still alive in them today, where they don’t want to hear how their past actions have negatively affected African-Americans generationally, where they even think they can be Black better than actual Black people, has seeped into the psyche of other races as well. That’s why my Black college friend couldn’t get her tribal membership approved (though she was the spitting image of her Native American ancestor), but Rebecca with the blue eyes and honey blonde curly perm could proudly state that she was Native American while knowing 0 actual Native American people, participating in none of the customs, celebrating none of the hallmarks, and speaking none of the languages. Even true non-white people are anti-Black and complicit (to varying degrees) in systemic racism against Black people.

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Back to Warren, not only was what she did dishonest, but it’s harmful. If I had to bet, Black people are some of the most “mixed” people on the planet (due to centuries of rape) but we don’t get to opt out of being Black when the circumstances don’t suit us. We don’t get to get the job at the 99% white tech startup by declaring we’re actually the 15% Anglo or 6% Chinese part of us. We don’t get to become 11% Greek before we walk into that job interview, or courtroom, or hospital so that we can have a better chance of a successful experience.

Further, if suddenly the visual standard of a race is the whitest with all the conveniences and privileges that come with that skin, where does that leave the authentic members of a race when it’s time to get real about systemic bias and change in virtually every industry in this world? What happens to Jacy Runningwolf when “Native American” now applies to Jessica Richardson, the random white woman who “pulled herself up by her bootstraps”? What happens to Tamika Jenkins when “Black” now applies to Susan Q. Whitewoman who has been able to step in front of more educated and experienced Black women all her life?

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White people need to get real about race in this country and that includes giving up the game of Psychological Brown/Blackface they like to play to avoid being held accountable.

 

 

 

Anything You Can Do, I Already Did Worse: What Bugs Me The Most About The Boomers

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I don’t come for Boomers. My general stance on Boomers is that they did what we were taught to do: pay your taxes, vote for whomever you feel made the best case, and try to make the best out of this shitfest called “life.” I don’t necessarily hold them blameless but I’m not one of those people hell-bent on tying every inconvenience or perceived injustice to people who were born decades before I was even thought of and probably have their own grievances against the generation before them as well.

But, there’s this one thing that I keep hearing or witnessing over and over again that I find troubling. The Boomer need for one-upmanship of the worst things in life is unlike I’ve ever known. Granted, we all know that at least a base level narcissism seems to be a recurring feature of the Boomer generation. But the constant game of “How Low Can You Go?” is concerning.

Recently, I was reading the Facebook post of a friend who had experienced a few of her own health challenges. She was recounting how after going through debilitating health issues and other issues beyond her control, her mother, a Boomer, sent her an e-mail in which, instead of empathizing with her child’s pain, she went on to talk about the tough time she had being a single mother and raising my friend. My friend is near 40.

When I read the post, the first thing I thought was:

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We’ll look over the fact that being a parent is a choice while debilitating illness is not. Where was the care and concern for the well-being of your child who couldn’t even get out of bed many days?

The problem though is that this behavior is not uncommon amongst Boomers. They seem to have the uncanny knack for either being completely dismissive, purposely obtuse, or morbidly competitive with the generation (and-a-half since the media can’t decide if Gen X/Xennials existed or not) under them. In the best case scenario, they are just flippantly aloof. In the worst case scenario, they’re prepared to argue you down about how they had it worse than you for 20 minutes.

I’m not certain how the generation that came from the generation that endured The Great Depression (aka The Greatest Generation) has turned out so callous about the suffering of other people, even their children. What’s funnier is that this was probably the last generation that, en masse, were taught things like manners in school. This is the last generation that was expected to have a grasp of the basic social contract. This is the last generation that is expected to understand and commit to, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” and bring soup and casseroles to people they hardly even know.

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Further, I wonder if they realize their lack of empathy is being passed down to the very people who will be responsible for figuring out their ultimate trajectory once they lose mobility, cognition, or their systems start to shut down. Tables have a way of turning, even if it’s because someone picks them up and turns them. Imagine the furor over putting Marge in the Sunny Days Senior Residence with the D- rating and roaches estimating that because her children’s super smartphones died, they had it waaaaay worse than her losing the ability to control her bowels and swallow.

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While I don’t think the beef between the generations will ever be completely cleared up, I can’t imagine the Boomer need to play tit for tat is helpful. There’s a reason the words “trauma,” “therapy,” and “depression” have been unofficially trending on social media the last 5 years.

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The Wayward Daughter’s Official #LeaveItIn2018 List

It’s that time of year again! The time when we reflect on the previous 11.99 months and vow to change our behavior for the better so that the coming 12 months won’t be the same shitfest© we perceived the previous 12 to be. With that in mind, I’d like to offer my own commentary on the things we’ve been doing that need to go on glory when the clock strikes midnight.

  1. Wraps, waist trainers, and tea that makes you shit uncontrollably. It’s 2018. No wrap or girdle…er…”waist trainer” is going to make your size 16 body look like you’re a size 10. Believe it or not, you cannot shit your way to a 27” waist unless your waist was 27.05” when you sat your ass down on the toilet. We’ve come too far in human history to still believe that any of these tactics are a feasible solution to the extra pounds and inches that so easily beset us. I absolve you now from feeling like you need to buy (or sell) overpriced Saran wrap, organ-stifling girdles, and liquid laxatives to live your best life *taps you on the forehead with Pope Wayward’s sword.* Go in peace and breathe, my child.

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4. Celebrity beef. I don’t know about you but I’m sick of (usually undeservedly) rich people arguing on social media over whose song is the worst best or whose g-string is less flammable. If you can’t tell, I dislike many, many, many people. There are even several I can’t fucking stand. There are a handful that make me wish I was a Marvel character that could make them disappear for the 5-10 minutes I must be around them. Yet, you’ll likely never hear about me engaging in full-scale verbal or physical warfare with any of these people because I know how to dislike someone without holding up my life to Tweet and FB about it 3 hours/day. In fact, most of us regular degular people who don’t get paid 7-figures to pop our pelvis while singing about anything from ill-advised sexual encounters to shopping sprees we may not have taken manage to hate others silently. I doubt an actual celebrity will read this but in case they do, let me, Pope Wayward, settle it for you. You both suck.

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3. Stunting for social media. I have been both blessed and cursed to know the tea. I have friends whose tea I know that they don’t know I know. I have friends whose tea I know that don’t even know their own tea. That’s one of the benefits of extreme introversion; nobody thinks you’re paying attention or care so they get careless in front of you and you become the proprietor of your own Teavana. With that said, I’ve decided that the new rule for 2019 is to tell the truth or shut the fuck up. No need to lie about how “carefree” you are while posting pics of the first decent meal you’ve had in months because you swiped right on that gruesomely ugly man’s Tinder profile due to hunger. We really don’t need you to tell us about how you get ‘dat money with a fan of one 100 dollar bill and twenty 1 dollar bills. Talking about imaginary boyfriends/girlfriends or bragging about your spouse who can’t keep the utilities on may get you some attention but at the end of the day, what’s it all worth? We all lie sometimes but why add to your lifetime lie tally when nobody asked you and you could just be quiet? To the most severe offenders, Pope Wayward commands you to confess and give $0.75 to Saint Zip The Lip and you shall then be forgiven.

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2. Not reading the fine print. It happened a few times in 2018 but has increasingly happened ever since FB and Twitter made people think they are the 2nd coming of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, or Ghandi. John/Jane Doe finds themselves in a situation. They take to social media to get the outrage rollercoaster spinning. It spins. We’re bombarded with articles about John/Jane Doe’s plight. A week later, we find out that John/Jane Doe exaggerated the whole thing or it was John/Jane Doe’s own actions that got them in trouble in the first place (see Meek Mill). I’m not a Freedom Fighter but if I were going to be a Freedom Fighter, I’d only fight for the people who actually deserve to be free. Rage makes you die more quickly so why be outraged on behalf of someone whose actions merit being exactly where the fuck they are? Pope Wayward requests that in lieu of “Free My Nigga….” t-shirts and posts, alms and letters of encouragement be sent to women like Cyntoia Brown and Bresha Meadows.

bresha

 

  1. Perpetual victimhood. We all have them. That FB friend who seems to always, and I do mean always, find themselves in a crisis. In January, half (just half) of their apartment spontaneously combusted. In March, their pinky finger suddenly fell off. In April, a unicorn actually got spooked and put his horn through the window that’s on the side of their apartment that didn’t spontaneously combust. In August, they had a stroke but then they found out 3 days later it wasn’t really a stroke but a reaction to the 5 Taco Bell MexiMelts they ate. They didn’t post an update status about the findings though, until a week later when they found out there was a group PM asking how they ran a marathon 4 days after a stroke. In October, their right leg actually ghosted them because it felt unappreciated. It didn’t bleed though, so the hospital let them go home. By November, their pinky transplant was complete but then it developed an infection and started to sprout another pinky kind of like mushrooms in the forest. At the end of December, right after getting back from the Bahamas, they discovered they have the Bubonic Plague and are going to have to stay off work for 3 weeks. Of course, all of these come with their own separate fundraising requests.lies

    I get it. Shit happens. But most of us are at the age where it’s time to start guarding against what we can and trying to prepare for the worst that life may throw at us. If that means taking a break from your job as a street corner breakdancer to get a job with benefits that will support your streak of bad luck, that’s what it is. You can spin on your head on the weekends.

    Pope Wayward commands you to open a LinkedIn account (it can be the free one cause not even Pope Wayward is paying for Premium).

 

Happy New Year! Prospero Año!

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LMNOP: Why I Don’t Give A Damn About “Ab-city” and Her Mama

This is going to be short because it’s ridiculous and I’m trying to not spend too much time on ridiculous topics or people these days.

Recently, a tragic white woman has made the news alleging that a Southwest Airlines employee made fun of her child’s name.

The name?

Abcde, pronounced “Ab-city.”

lilith eye roll

I first heard of the issue before it was a story. I read the mother’s account of what happened along with her posting photos from the employee’s Facebook page. There was a photo of the daughter’s boarding pass with her name “ABCDE” and the employee’s Facebook friends were chiming in about how pitiful a name it is. The mother also posted photos where the employee had taken secret pics of travelers, including one with a white woman in pink Ugg-looking boots that would make Miranda Priestly spaz and captioned it something like, “Snow Bunnies starting early” (paraphrase).

miranda priestly

Listen, I stand by a parent’s right to name their progeny whatever they’d like; even if it sounds like a garage gym where they focus on crunches and core strength moves or a fitness-inspired remix to “Rack City.” But, Abcde’s mama chose the wrong hill to die on if you ask me.

Here’s why I don’t give a damn.

I recall sitting in my AP English class in 12th grade next to a student named Yajira. From the first day, she told the teacher that the pronunciation of her name was “Ya-HI-ra” with the “r” said Spanish-style. I also recall my white teacher calling her “Ya-Jerry” (as in McGuire) all year long such that it became the running joke. Yajira managed to laugh it off. Yajira was Mexican.

Black people have been scrutinized for their names for decades. We now know, empirically, that employers regularly decline to interview applicants who are qualified but have “ethnic-sounding” names. We know that white teachers often don’t even make an effort to pronounce the non-European names of their students, no matter how young they are. This serves to diminish their self-esteem and sense of personhood because, as we all know, your name is a big part of who you are.

Until the national media starts running stories about every little JaQuesha, LaKeisha, and Deja who has been taunted by peers and adults because of their name, I don’t want to hear about Abcde’s hard time, day,  5 minutes. Until we start having to sift through myriad write-ups in major publications about how LaQuetta has an MBA but still can’t find a professional job that does her intelligence and qualifications justice because the white manager decided her value based on how he/she felt about her name, I want Abcde’s mama to go sit down in the lobby and wait her turn. I’m sure there’s an oppression that fits her but I’ve determined this isn’t it.

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The silver lining to this all is that in her attempt to…actually, I don’t know what the fuck her purpose was…all Abcde’s mother did was let us all know that she (the mom) may be functionally illiterate because I can come up with at least 3 ways to construct “Ab-city” without basically reciting the opening to the ABCs. At least JaQuesha and LaKeisha’s mothers know phonics.

that's all

 

 

 

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True BWE: Rejecting The Need To Seem Perfect

To: Max. May you always get an answer to your “whys.”

Back in June, everyone with taste’s fave, Janet Jackson, wrote an open letter about her failed relationships and her struggles with depression and her self-esteem on her journey to happiness. It was a feature in Essence magazine that I didn’t even know had happened until earlier this week. Though I’ve chided the open letter as a late-stage revenge tool in the past, I was very impressed by the honesty of the letter and felt that it could serve as comfort and/or inspiration for Black women who have dealt or are dealing with the same thing.

However, what I did not like was the several responses from Black women who haven’t achieved one one-hundredth of what Ms. Jackson (if you’re nasty) has. Apparently, it’s not okay to show your scars; even when doing so stands to help hundreds of thousands of women all over the globe. There were allegations of Black women having a need to share their low points for “validation.” There were the, “ugh…why’d she have to let everyone know that bad shit happens to even the rich and famous?!” One pointed out that she wants the image of her favorite stars to be high and mighty. Janet revealing this low-point, in this commenter’s estimation, will take away the sense of obligation of Black women to make “better choices.” Someone even said something to the effect of her needing to keep that to a journal.

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I sat back and shook my head. Most of the women making these comments are a part, at least by extension, of the Black Women’s Empowerment club (called BWE on social media). I can’t help but ask myself how anyone, Black, white, short, tall, able-bodied, or in a Hover Round, can suppose that they are going to “empower” anyone by only showing the romantic and happy parts of their life.

They must have forgotten that Janet Jackson is a human being. To act like she hadn’t had that struggle would have been a lie, an affront to those who helped her escape (even if it was herself), and a grave disservice to the woman, whoever she may be, who needed to hear Janet Jackson’s story so that she could see there is a light at the end of her own self-image tunnel.

Three years before my marriage went to hell, I had the pleasure of meeting an older (yet not old) woman on Facebook. We spoke through messages and she told me that she had been married before but her marriage ended in one of the most horrid ways possible. I admired her because, at the time, I could have not imagined going through the situation she went through. I was in awe at how she managed to bounce back from the immense betrayal and fuckery that her first husband had put her through. I appreciated her sharing something that she could have easily pretended never happened.

Little did I know that three years later, my marriage would end in pretty much the exact same way. When that happened, it was hard; excruciatingly hard. Besides the obvious, you see who is and is not your friend. You realize who the friends and relatives are who will back you eternally and those whose empathy has an expiration date.

But what I knew was that despite the emotional kamikaze I was about to experience, I would make it.

Why did I know I would make it?

Because of the woman who wasn’t too embarrassed or ashamed of what happened to her to share her story with a virtual stranger at the time. She was my rock years before I knew I needed one and I am forever in her debt.

sisterhood

For the good that the various BWE movements have done, there remains an underbelly of hateration (inside and outside of the dancerie), hypocrisy, affectation, and to be quite honest, delusion and self-esteem issues that started out funny but is now simply sad. In one thread, someone who hasn’t worked out since they were in 5th-grade gym class will be talking about how fat Black women are and why these fat Black women are often visually represented in certain stories. In another thread, a woman will have the nerve to express her displeasure that another Black woman chose a career path that’s 10-steps ahead of her own and has far more potential. In still another conversation, some woman will be lamenting the fact that a Black female celebrity was seen running errands at the Quik Trip without makeup because, of course, it’s a natural thing to do contouring before you go pick-up a 44oz. frosty drink in a Styrofoam cup.

For all the conversing, article-writing, and analysis, many of the women in the BWE crowd have failed to grasp the concept of humanity, even their own. It’s a sad statement when women who claim to be for the empowerment of other women like themselves can’t be happy to get a glimpse of an award-winning actress because in the photo, she was wearing a jogging suit. Further, it doesn’t bode well when these women can’t recognize the brokenness inside themselves that allows them to fervently bash or critique other women who are on the same level or higher than they are, usually over minutiae.

What you will hear as a rebuttal to this is that since Black people, Black women, in particular, have it harder, we can’t “get away with” the same stuff that white women do…like running to the grocery store without makeup intact. To that, I say, bullshit. I’ve often said that I refuse to carry the totality of Blackness or Black womanhood on my back. I will not be embarrassed by the AAVE and Ebonics-speaking witness to a fire on the local news. I won’t be ashamed by proxy of the young Black woman who is single with 3 children in an article about welfare reform. Why? Because I know who I am. And because I know who I am, I don’t worry about a bunch of people I don’t know pigeonholing me into a character I don’t portray.

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What I wish is that the BWE “movement” was filled with women who aren’t afraid to show their scars as inspiration or motivation for the other women who have or, unbeknownst to them, will go through similar situations.

For it is the showing of scars that sets people free.

I wish that instead of living in a fantasy land of what people think happens in the real world, there were more voices who not only have a following but the experience that merits the crowd.  I wish more of the critiques were of things that matter and steeped in logic and evidence (even anecdotal) instead of the wide-eyed idealism of a 14-year-old who doesn’t know anything but what she’s seen on television dramas. I wish the women barking about what a Black woman should look like, were something to look at. I wish the women lamenting when and who a Black woman chooses to entertain, had, themselves, experienced a relationship that went above and beyond your standard late-teens/early twenties 6-month fling. I wish there were more voices willing to say, “Hey, this is where I fucked up. Don’t do like I did.” Or, “I grew up in a fucked up situation but here’s what I did to make sure it didn’t affect me and hinder my success….”

To me, that’s so much more empowering. To the women who do this, you have my respect.

To those so deep into the BWE-ness that they don’t realize that they’ve fallen victim to the nonsense, I urge you to start paying attention to whether or not the fruit on the messenger’s tree matches the seed that they’ve been planting in you.

“I ‘members that day I was in the store with Miss Millie – I’s feelin’ real down. I’s feelin’ mighty bad. And when I see’d you – I knowed there is a God. I knowed there is a God. And one day I was gonna get to come home.” – Sofia from The Color Purple

 

 

 

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Wise As Serpents: My Thoughts on “Male Feminists” and the Women Who Fall For Them (For Some Reason)

Last week, a noted “male feminist” and pretty popular social justice figure was exposed – big time. It seems that he had at least one long-term long-distance girlfriend in another city that he visited occasionally. She was apparently in love with him and he had finally declared his love for her – the day before he married his fiancée. Once he was exposed (by the long-distance girlfriend), he said he “confessed” (I assume to his fiancée as well as the internet). He went ahead and married his intendant.  A day later, it was revealed that besides his long-distance girlfriend, he used Facebook Messenger as his personal savings and loan branch and not surprisingly, all the lenders were women.

That’s as short as I can make that story and as long as I care to. But, this wasn’t the first time something like this has happened in these “woke” circles. Every 16 months or so, there’s an expose on yet another man who duped scads of their social media activist female counterparts into believing they were patriarchy-dismantling, toxic masculinity battling, “male feminists.” They were either sleeping their way through the group, “borrowing” copious amounts of money from women who already had a full financial plate with some ambiguous sob story, promising eternal love to 5-10 women at a time, or doing any other of the things that men are known to do.

Of course, everybody feels for the women who are the targets of these male beings’ bad behavior. I certainly feel some anger when a man thinks it’s okay to deceive his way through a relatively small community in order to get gas money, groceries, and sex from women who, on average, haven’t even begun to have enough life experience or self-concept to accept they are being played.

male feminist

This leads me to two points. The first is that there is no such thing as a “male feminist.” I’ll repeat.

There. Is. No. Such. Thing. As. A. Male. Feminist.

When I first heard that term used, I knew the backfire wasn’t afar off. When has the oppressed (in this case, women) giving the oppressors (in this case, men), honorary standing in the oppressed group because of a few meager acts of “see, I’m a good one” ever worked? Sure, it makes women feel good to know that there may be 2 wholly decent men for every 100 that they’ll encounter instead of the 0.5 (go with it) for every 100 they thought previously existed. But, in my estimation, if you want to know if there is any validity to it, there has to be measurable results.

With all the talk about “woke” men becoming “male feminists,” the wage gap still exists (including the bigger racialized wage gap) and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon.  Women are still taxed for basic feminine hygiene products. We still have a hard time getting our attackers to see justice. You would think, with all the men who claim to be in the chorus of #notallmen and who furiously claim disagreement with their fellow men in comment sections, 50% of women wouldn’t be killed by intimate partners, with Black women coming in first.

In short, I’ve yet to see one of these “male feminists” or “allies” do anything substantive to battle systemic sexism, let alone rabid Fuckboyitis™ even within themselves.

Slut Walk Toronto 2012

No, Susan, your husband cooking breakfast on Sundays isn’t a sign that he’s a “male feminist” hell-bent on seeing the full equality of women to men at some point in his life. No, your internet boo isn’t “different” because when he came to see you, he paid for the Chili’s 3 for $10 special you two split. Hate to break it to you, but disappointment is a part of life.

Parte Dos.

As I said earlier, these “I luuuuurve and respect women” scammers are a never-ending event; almost like bacteria development or seasonal allergies.

Wisdom is loosely defined as knowledge + judgment.

What do we know? We know men are trash. We know that some of the worst atrocities in human history were initiated and executed by men. We know that most, if not all, of the murderers of that 50% of women I mentioned before were men. We know that most female domestic violence (be it physical, emotional, financial, etc…) victims are so at the hands of men. We know that the male-dominated executive, legislative and judicial branches here in the US have bent over backwards to deny women basic rights. We know that similarly male-dominated governments all over the world have done the same. We know that for many of us, just encountering a group of men on the streets sends our fight or flight mechanism into overdrive.

Judgment itself is defined as good sense or the ability to evaluate a situation objectively. Since we know that men generally ain’t shit (objectively) that puts us in a perfect position to judge them unworthy of all the things these “male feminists” in social justice groups are able to bamboozle out of women based on a few “woke” FB posts.

If we combine the two, and actually put it into action, perhaps these social justice pussy hounds will be forced to find another source of income. Maybe they can start to hurt and scam each other to see if they’ve truly conquered their own toxic masculinity. We as women can’t claim to want to topple the patriarchy but toss all wisdom and logic out the door when one of its soldiers tells us he likes us.

In a perfect world, with top-notch elementary education and involved parental engagement at home, I wouldn’t have to say this but for those who won’t read comprehensively and are poised to accuse me of “victim-blaming” based on 309 of over 1,000 words, know that I find these men reprehensible. We can all wish that people would do the right thing 100% of the time, but we have advanced knowledge that they don’t. At some point, we have to recognize the dogs that bite and stop petting them.

I sincerely hope that the women who were duped by the most recent social justice scoundrel are able to rebound emotionally and financially (if it applies). In fact, I hope that all the women who have ever been taken by these sharks receive some kind of retribution.

Let’s hope that the tide is turning and we’ll eventually get back to the feminism that doesn’t make women feel they need to discount what they know in favor of placating and keeping the company of men.

 

 

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