24.Feb { Nod of Approval }

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Growing up in a home where my parents were divorced…and still growing up themselves.  I found myself in a lot of situations where I would be doing something that was of great importance to me, and there was no one there to share in my moment.

I vividly remember when I was in the 2nd grade, I had to memorize a great portion of the MLK speech and deliver it in front of the whole school.  My mother worked with me many nights to make sure I was ready to deliver.  The night of the speech I was dropped off by a friend of my mother at the school.  Backstage I was pacing and going over the speech, glad that my mom had been there to help me as much as she did.  When the time came for me to go on stage and show the world what little Kenny Bradley could do, I confidently walked on the stage with my short-sleeved white shirt and bowtie, and gave the speech flawlessly.  As I spoke the words of Dr. King, I panned the crowd to see my mothers face, to see her smile, to see her give me her nod of approval.  It never happened. I finished the speech with the biggest lump in my throat.  Afterwards, other kid’s parents shook my hand, and gave me hugs.  This was great, but no one was her.

There were many times growing up where there was something monumental going on, and I had to just live in the moment myself. Breathe and enjoy what was going on, without those that meant the most to me there to witness.  Other parents would praise my accomplishments…but no one was her, no one was him.

My senior night in high school – the last game in high school, where parents come and walk out during half-time to stand with their kid to celebrate the closing of a chapter.  To witness a mark of maturation.  Both of my parents came!  I tried to play my soul out on that court the first half.  Attempting to not look in the stands because I wanted to focus on making them proud of what I could do on the court.  Half-time came, and they both walked out on the court with me – THIS WAS AMAZING!  The second-half started and I was back in the game, in the zone. I mean at this point I felt like I was really making them proud…I looked in the stands for a nod of approval and no one was there. They left right after half-time!  Many parents were still in the crowd – but none was them.  This was crushing.  The rest of the game was horrible, an immediate headache came and after the game I was in literal tears.

I had the chance to go see both of my boys play last weekend.  It was my first time seeing them play…many times they would look over to the bleachers and we would make eye contact…and I would give them a nod of approval.  This made my chest warm, and my soul smile.  Even though I live in Washington state, their mother attends all of their games, and when I’m in town – I’m there..hugging them, kissing them…nodding at them…

nodding at myself.

– Kenneth

23 Feb. — { Patricia Arquette Tried It :: An Ode To White Feminists }

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It’s already happening. Patricia Arquette is being called out on her (frankly) idiotic statement on pay equality backstage at the Oscars. Her onstage speech was fine. It left some things to be desired, but overall a decent message. I supported her in it because [spoiler alert] I’m a woman and I want all the coins that I have earned. But it’s her words backstage that caused a fuss. In case you missed it:

“It’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

[the deepest exhale that has ever been exhaled]

These words are the reason her activism was a #fail before it had a chance to be great. Problematic in so many ways. There isn’t much more I can add than what Awesomely Luvvie and VSB have already given you all, but I decided to provide you with three quick points.

1. A Lesson on Intersectionality.

What she leaves out or forgets is that there are people of color and members of the LGBT community that are in fact…. women. Forgetting that is an ultimate fail. What about the Black Lesbians? What about the Transgender Latinas? How dare you call for marginalized groups to basically drop their causes to “support” White women in your quest for equality? Did it ever occur to you that we have BEEN in this fight for pay equality, AND have numerous other hurdles to jump before we can even reap the benefits of it? Have you acknowledged that much of the weight in gender pay inequality is carried by women of color?

A white man makes $1.28 for every dollar that a White woman makes.

A white man makes $1.56 for every dollar that a Black woman makes.

A white man makes $1.85 for every dollar that a Latina woman makes.

The last 2 points are precisely why white feminists have trouble getting women of color to fully engage in “their” movement. And those points are the reason Bell Hooks had to write “Feminism is for Everybody.” And they’re the reason there’s a Womanist movement… when it really matters you all forget about everyone else. Which brings me to my next point….

2. “And it’s time for all […] that we’ve all fought for….”

Actually, let me stop you right here. EXCUSE ME? HAVE YOU FOUGHT FOR US? I mean have you REALLY fought for us? Because I don’t recall hearing your stance on Black girls and women who experience discrimination in schools and in the workplace – respectively – for wearing their hair the way it naturally grows from our heads. Where are you on the fact that Black girls face harsher punishments in schools than their White counterparts for similar offenses?

Ahh…. Those are too deep in the race bucket…  I see you getting uncomfortable….

Okay, how about last year during the celebrity photo hacking scandal?? You all jumped fiercely to defend Jennifer Lawrence, but Jill Scott got crickets. If someone dares to speak ill of Lena Dunham you all call out the cavalry, but won’t get out of bed to defend Beyonce. (Author’s Note: Don’t get used to me defending Beyonce. That is all.) Also, there are 29 states where one can legally be fired for being gay. There are also 34 states where once can legally be fired for being transsexual.

Do you see that? All of your self-appointed ally points quickly slipping away? So tell me again how hard you’ve fought for everyone else? *waits*

3. “….to fight for us now.”

This last one is very important and it’s a point that I haven’t really seen expressed elsewhere so please pay attention….

WE (marginalized groups) DON’T OWE YOU S#!&.

Let me explain something. The fight/battle/war for civil rights and equal treatment is not quid pro quo. You don’t get involved in it because you’re hoping to build some army that will show up when called to duty. You do it because it’s the right thing to do. If you have signed up as an ally for a cause for any reason other than that you believe in equality – please exit at the next stop, because we don’t need you. Bye.

Also, you say this as if the fight is over. As if other marginalized groups have achieved complete equality on the backs of your hard work and now have the social and/or political capital to level the injustices you still face. There is a stadium full of seats that I invite you to have.

So over the next few days when you see tweets and articles and blog posts and you’re wondering what the big deal is…. now you know. Do all women benefit from the advances in the feminist movement? Absolutely, but it looks different for all of us. So while middle-class White women are complaining about being 2nd class citizens, it would serve you well to remember that some of us are 3rd (race), 4th (sexual orientation and/or identity), 5th (socioeconomic), 6th (immigration status), 7th (religious affiliation – especially Muslim), or even 8th (any combination of numbers 2-7) class citizens. And you all forgot about us – some of your own – in your rallying cry.

PS: SHOUTOUT to all of the White Feminists who *do* get it. You are appreciated, because the rest of us are tired of having to explain this

21.Feb { My Recurring Struggle With “Black” History }

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I respect, appreciate, and enjoy Black History Month (BHM) for what it stands for and all that it represents, but I can’t say I’ve ever really been 100% invested in it. That could be because of my 1stGen background, which often colors my view on all things related to race and culture. (Sidenote/Reminder: My parents are immigrants and throughout my childhood when I asked clarifying questions about American history they reminded me “That isn’t my history.”) It could also be that I never really got how it was celebrated in most public spaces – Seriously what significance does a Black gospel choir singing Amazing Grace or praise dancers doing lyrical numbers really have to Black History? I kind of get it, but why do you all love it sooooo much? But my nagging issue with BHM is that it doesn’t actually broadly focus on Black history, but is more of a celebration of African-American history. (And I pray that you know the difference, because I’m not planning to explain here. And also…. Google has all the answers you need like the difference between race, ethnicity, nationality, and culture.)

I’m not saying that only celebrating African-American history is wrong, it’s just exclusive. So imagine me growing up, being a Black child in America who wasn’t raised in African-American culture having to celebrate something that didn’t represent me and that I wasn’t educated on and therefore didn’t understand. Now imagine me being around a lot of White kids (and teachers) asking me questions they assumed I knew because I was Black. It was frustrating to say the least and reminded me that I wasn’t like all of the other Black kids. Therefore it felt like BHM wasn’t for me..it wasn’t my celebration. So BHM has always been challenging for me to fully invest in because I never understood why it couldn’t represent all of us. I imagine other African, West Indian, etc folks may feel the same – I haven’t formally done any research so who knows maybe it’s just me.

Now I can acknowledge that after some research I eventually learned that BHM is actually called African-American History Month in the United States and was created to coordinate the teaching of the history of American blacks”. Done — all I needed was that clarification. But I still wonder is there a benefit to having a broader celebration?

 

I’ll explain….

  1. We all acknowledge that the US of A is a land of immigrants (voluntary and involuntary) from yesterday and today. We also acknowledge that in this country Black is Black and the bottom line is no one cares if you got here 200 years ago or last week – more often than not the way you are treated will be the same.
  1. You will often hear many African-Americans state “Our history didn’t begin with slavery”, yet when we talk about our history and have the opportunity to celebrate it – that’s pretty much as far back as we go. And I hear what you’re saying, “But Tina we don’t know which African country or culture we come from”; I know, but also who cares? Doesn’t that make it easier? Instead of having to scour the internet and books for information on your specific culture – you get to pick one or all of them. I would appreciate that option rather than attempting to become the expert on all things Nigerian.
  1. Also, we lose out by not acknowledging Blackness worldwide in our celebration, because we have some amazing, kickarse folks out there. And not only are you missing out, the next generation is too. Who/what am I talking about?
  • Dido Elizabeth Belle (UK) – I’m obsessed with her – go see the film about her life.
  • Alexandre Dumas  (France) – How many of you knew that the man who wrote The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristowas Black?
  • Queen Idia (Nigeria) – You knew you weren’t getting a list from me that didn’t include a Nigerian woman, don’t even act surprised. She was the first Queen Mother… look her up… she was awesome.
  • Samori Ture (Guinea) – Don’t let them tell you we just allowed the Europeans to come in and colonize Africa. People fought… and it went down.
  • Chief Cetshwayo (South Africa) – Again, we come from a long legacy of “don’t start none, won’t be none”. #LestWeForget
  • Christianity in Ethiopia – PLEASE educate yourselves so you can stop referring to Christianity as “the white man’s religion”. Actually, we had it first.
  • Haitian Revolution – And how it influenced/inspired Africans in America during slavery

I really could go on, but I’ll stop here. How many of us know these names? How many of us have heard or can share these stories with our young people? This is a part of who we are and we started long before we landed on these shores – we could do a better job of remembering that – not just during BHM but it’s a good place to start.

I’m not saying that BHM shouldn’t include African-American History – I’m just wondering if it makes sense to have a broader celebration. (For example: My church in Chicago has an amazing 4-week program that celebrates the journey of Black people – Part 1. Starts in Africa >> Part 2. Travels through the Caribbean/West Indies >> Part 3. US Southern States >> Part 4. The Civil Rights Movement – present day. All I’m saying is – it’s a solid blueprint.) If we want Black History Month to indeed be BLACK History Month then we should do a better job of incorporating and educating ourselves and others about who we were BEFORE we were enslaved &/or colonized and noting that we have accomplishments across the globe. BHM should celebrate and include Blackness everywhere and then maybe it will feel like a collective celebration for all of us who are here now.

Or not – and we could go back to acknowledging it as African-American History Month (like we’re supposed to). You can go ahead and get that Black Gospel Choir on the calendar for next year… and I’ll just sit over here and continue to mind my business. 🙂

18.Feb { The Name Game: Part 1 }

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Talking to one my best friends about her latest dating experiences has prompted me to compile a list of men’s characteristics according to name. I am aware that Buzzfeed has done something like this…and there have been several memes and textgrams dedicated to “Men Named ______ Are Good Husbands” or “Men Named ______ Are Cheaters”. However, I want to give more unfair generalizations about men based on the government name or hood given nicknames bestowed upon them . So, the following is the first installment of several pieces. Fellas, you know I really do love y’all, so this is in no way shape or form meant to offend. It is only meant to throw shade and poke fun and piss you off…but not to offend. My interpretations and thoughts and analysis of names have no scientific basis at all. I will however have a follow up series dedicated to numerology…that has some science behind it (you know it’s a science because it has the suffix “ology”. I am also fully aware that “ology” in Latin is translated in English as, “the study of”, but I’m saying science because I CAN) . I am not doing an A to Z list, because I really don’t have the patience. However, I’m going to give a simple list of common names. Eventually, there will be 20 total for you to agree with or make you want to egg my car. These names will be primarily those names rooted in African-American culture (most common African-American names rather), sprinkled with some Non-Ethnicity bound names, ok? I like to be fair. Now on with the show!

Mike: Cats named Mike always played basketball in high school or they meant to try out for basketball in high school…either way, they have an affinity for all things basketball. They often tell stories of what could have happened if they made it to the league. Smh. Mikes are usually attractive. Not always FINE or DAAAAAAYUM, but always acceptable to take out in public. There are few “Ugly Mikes”. Short Mikes: INDEED. They also wanted to play ball, by the way. They tend to be angry because they could not join the team, but they were an equipment manager with that loud ass whistle. They also drink Cognac, Remy or Hennessey or Martell, it doesn’t matter. DARK ONLY ROUN HEA PIMPIN! Mike also smokes copious amounts of weed…blunts only though. Grape Flavored Swisher Sweets or CIgarillos to be exact. Mikes always have a kid, somewhere, even if they don’t tell you about it, but they do. They might even have two. You might be pregnant by a Mike right now and not even know it. Mike is fertile. Stay clear of Mikes unless you want a tax write off…for the next 18 years. Note: Mike is different from Michael…men who go by Michael have jobs and 401Ks…Mikes are not always in this state of life.

Chris: Smh…dudes named Chris. It doesn’t matter if it is short for Christopher, Christian, Christmas, Christopherson , Christening…they all will disappoint you. Every. Last. One. They all have these big dreams and sell it to you so well that you believe them and even want to invest and support. The reason behind all of this is because they are smooth as baby sweat and they are usually quite easy on the eyes…okay, I’m being very soft…THEY ARE FWOINE AS HAIL!!! Like got you cooking bacon in the morning butt naked fine, like you wanna meet their mama fine, like driving to their house and 3am fine (because they also tend to have large paynises). And where I come from, that is a good enough reason for driving and for bacon. HOWEVER! They are chronic cheaters. They don’t know how to NOT cheat. They cheat in their sleep. In their dreams. They are just disloyal muffoccurs if you are in a relationship with them. They make great friends though. As long as you don’t leave your bangable friends in a room with them alone…because they will try and they will succeed. FYI. Raggedy asses…

Rob: Rob is your drunk boyfriend. Life of the party. Knows everybody when you step into the bar. But he is a HORRIBLE drunk. Every time you think you have reached a new level in your relationship, he makes you question dating all together because you had to clean up his vomit…again…and this time y’all had tacos. GAT DAMMIT ROB! But Rob is loyal. To a fault. And by fault I mean that he won’t leave, even if you try to break up with him. He just won’t go anywhere. He’s like that stray cat you fed one time and keeps coming back even after you threw hot water at it. Rob has a job, but it’s always a weird job. Like, “Naggah you do what?!?!? You put the caps on pens? Interesting”. You have a 50% chance of Rob being attractive. But again, Rob does have a job and probably a car. A really nice car. But you don’t ask questions as to how he can afford all this on a pen topper salary. You just go get tacos.

Craig: Oh my Craigs…I love y’all so much. Y’all just need to get it together. Craigs are kind of like Chrises. Except I don’t think they make Craigs in dark skinned. I’ve never met a dark skinned Craig. Like……..ever. Craigs don’t know how to sit down. They are always doing something (which is why most of the time your relationship with them won’t work because they don’t know how to make time for you). They are always on the grind, yet, unlike Chrises and Mikes, they actually have things to show for it. They tend to be into music and food and culture and beer and all things that deal with a lavish lifestyle. That crosses over all walks of life. Hood Craig likes Corona instead of MGD. Bougie/Uppity Craig likes Blue Moon over Corona. They always want to one up the next dude and prove they are not like the “last dude”., but they really are just like the last dude. . However, you maintain the relationship longer than usual because they are light skinned. Craigs know where are all the hotspots are and don’t mind showing you off at these spots. You are the trophy, the arm candy, which is nice, until he get a new project to focus on. You know I ain’t lying. You can deny it all you want. I know the truth.

Semaj: Any man who says his name is Semaj and claims to be a heterosexual is full of lies. Semaj is French for Gay Closest Stripper. We all know that’s just James backwards. You are not special or fancy. Your momma named you this because your daddy’s name is James and she hated him, but more so, hated that she loved him so much. She couldn’t bear to name you James Jr, so she thought she was being creative and named you Semaj. And now, you are a closet gay. It is your mom’s fault that you want to go work at Lucky Horseshoe (that’s a gay strip club in Chicago, you should Google it, it’ll be fun). Semaj knows how to wine and dine you. He is very sensitive to your needs and emotions and knows exactly what to say to make you feel like a lady. This is because, inside, he wants to be a lady, so he knows what HE would want to hear as Semaja or Alexandra, whatever name he decides to go with once his Lacefront wig with fringed bangs comes in the mail.

That’s all for this week. I know you’re mad. I’m sorry that I’m not sorry. You’re only upset because it’s true. But it’ll be fine. Go find you a Mike or a Rob and drink some YAK and you’ll forget you even read this J

Next installment will be focusing on Wills, Keith, Brian, Anthony, and Andre.

And I’m gone…..

Syd Chas