How Do I Know If…

Can’t explain how many times my gut nudged me that there were red flags. Even when I couldn’t see it, I felt it. My instinct has never been wrong, all the guys I proceeded with caution with eventually showed their true colors. When it’s true love you won’t feel something lurking underneath the surface. The person will be transparent and created specifically for you. They will respect you, they won’t play games, they will be loyal and won’t pit you against other people. Wait for it, it will come. Via: Poets Tribe

3 Books That Changed My Life

Kindred By Octavia Butler: My friend gave me this book and I never gave it back. Instead I loaned it to someone else. Dana, a black woman in 1976 gets transported to a Maryland Plantation before the Civil War, in order to save her ancestor Rufus. Turns out he’s her great-great-great-great (something like that) grandfather, a red headed, hot tempered slave master. She only travels back in time when his life is in peril, because if he doesn’t exist neither will she. African Americans are a product of slave and master, a torturous truth; we hate the former, but without them we wouldn’t be. How does one reconcile that? Butler uses science fiction to explore this dynamic of lineage brilliantly. It bought so many questions to mind: what type of slave would I be? One who risks the dogs and runs? One who is subservient? One who chooses suicide as an escape? Changed my life and everything about my trip to Paris made sense. I will post about that later this week.

The Fountainhead By Ayn Rand: Howard Roark is my spirit animal. No matter what anyone told him he did it his way, getting him kicked out of school. Architecture is an art form and passion for him. While his contemporaries stuck to the ways of old (with classical buildings, typical of Greek and Roman structures) Roark could see the future. His creations were unique, modern and never before seen. He starved for his art, everyone writing him off as a joke. Sheep. Roark taught me to continue to live with integrity despite social norms. Are you living truthfully, or as others want you to be?

I love architecture because of my dad. When I walk around the city, I always wonder which buildings Roark would have built.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: Two sisters in Africa are given necklaces as heirlooms from their mother. They have different fathers and come from different tribes. The book spans centuries showing the continuous lineage of the sister who remains in Africa, versus the one who gets forced into slavery. It perfectly encapsulates the African diaspora, how the slave trade has impacted the history of those stolen and those who stayed. The necklaces are so perfectly symbolic, it’s meaning staying with me long after finishing the book.

What three books changed your life? Why?

The Thing About People Pleasers

“I care what everybody thinks about me.”
“Because I do. Don’t you?”

Sitting at the bar trying to find common ground beyond how beautiful we looked together. Our love was a superficial one, at least on my end. We had nothing that would work, he was a Republican from Long Island, who used the derogatory f word for gays as a common insult, until a few months back. He had anger issues and was always trying to control how much I drank, telling people to make sure I didn’t have another if I’d gotten too wild for his taste.

I don’t give a fuck what people think about me.
“I don’t like when people don’t like me.”

Right then it hit me. This is a man I would pump and dump. There was so future. People pleasers are spineless, insecure and lack integrity. He meant well, but was too conservative. Me, I’m a rockstar and a revolutionary nourished on art and individuality. Taught to use my voice, the importance of critical thinking, to question everything and stand up for your beliefs. The opposite of trying to appease everyone.

If everyone likes you, you’re doing something entirely wrong. You have to change your views and values depending on who surrounds you. There’s no authenticity. Those aren’t people who change the world, they’re the cowards and the sheep. Do you have the courage to be disliked? Photo: Matt Mcgorry

Redemption Of The Wrong Black Girl

He’s got the wrong black girl, he’s got the wrong black girl. I pleaded to the crowd indignantly, after my entry to a gay bar was denied. A line of irises looked blankly up at me, not sure whom to believe, such was the passion on both sides.

“She’s not getting in, you were an asshole to me on Thursday.”
“Thursday? Are you kidding me? I wasn’t even here on Thursday. I was at work. This is crazy.”
“You’re not getting in.” It was final. His beady blue eyes peered at me through round, wire framed glasses. He had a gray goatee and wore his staple black beanie. His hefty weight spilling over his wooden throne. His skin against the background looked like a dollop of milk just as it drops into coffee. Stark pale white against the darkness and smoke.

Why wasn’t anyone defending me? Looking at the faces of my friends (there were four of us total), who were unusually quiet. One of them shook their heads, signaling we should go. The doorman sat pompously, as if he had righted some great injustice.

“We were here on Thursday.” Jamal informed me.
“You really don’t remember? I was like wowwwww she really believes her lie.”

I had no recollection of Phoenix. Zilch.
Thursday started with five of us meeting to celebrate one of my bosses birthdays, at the second restaurant location in the East Village. On multiple occasions including that very night, Val and I ardently vowed never to touch the punch again. It tastes like juice, sneaks up on you and blacks you the hell out. Upon arrival my manager handed out round, after round, after round of shots of this exact punch. Followed by continuous cups of the same. I never turn down a zero dollar drink.

We were spinning free, dancing, joints were passed, harder liquor drank. Next thing I knew we were sitting on a stoop up the block from The Box. An aerial view of Jamal’s bald chocolate head, as we waited for Tessa’s cab to arrive. Keep in mind this is a PC version of the events that’d occurred.

Between punch and the stoop we went directly to the Phoenix bathroom for a half hour. When confronted that we needed to buy a drink or leave, I screamed. The male bouncer was in the women’s restroom, accusing him of all sorts of perversion. Interrupting me he pointed at Jamal stating the obvious, he’s a man too. Both of them gay. Apparently that didn’t matter to me so he went to get a female employee.

“What’s the problem?”
“Y’all have been in here for thirty minutes and haven’t purchased a drink.” The scantily dressed brunette told us.
The damage done, our offer to buy drinks was rescinded and we were told to leave. Please note my posse has been kicked out of this place countless times over the years. I mean an astronomical amount. He always let us back in next visit no matter how mischievous, errant, or disorderly. Smugly I remind him of this on my way out, according to Val. Which is why he made an example of me Saturday night. He in fact had the right black girl. From the jump it was asinine, my signature coiffure could not be mistaken.

I was flummoxed, not that I just bragged earlier that evening that I hadn’t been kicked out of a bar in years, not only because I returned two days later after my statement, but because I should be eternally banned. Hand to god a group of people wouldn’t have deserved it more. Never have we exhibited any signs that we would behave. Time and time again we’ve only proven that we weren’t about shit, lawless heathens the lot of us. And still we are redeemed. Via: Afropunk

Healing Slowly Is Okay

As long as you heal. I used to carry around so much trauma; I was miserable and empty, consuming so much to fill the void. Destroyed and dragged to the depths of my own inner hell, it wasn’t easy, but damn it was worth it. Heal, it’s the best gift you could ever give yourself, no matter how long it takes. Are there traumas or inner demons you don’t want to face? Pick something small and start there. You can do it.

Relax You Were Never In Control

An ancient proverb. I heard it first from my fourth grade teacher, Sharon Hill. “Life is 10% of what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.” She pulled me aside after I’d gotten angry over something trivial. My guess, it had something to do with my nemesis at the time, Cosimo. An Italian boy who worked all my nerves daily. He’d do idiotic things, like waste a whole pen to mark up his forearms, pronouncing them chicken pox. Diverting the attention of the entire class with nonsense, making it apparent why he’d been left back twice. I absorbed her message, but didn’t apply it until I entered the school of hard knocks.

A perfectionist, who’d gladly bite off more than she can chew, to guarantee everything is done properly, that’s me. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. A control freak method that worked, until I stepped out of high schools structural realm. I was so type A, that minute things going wrong would send me into a fury.

From little stuff, like leaving my house an hour early to be fifteen minutes late, to a job, or class, that was only thirty minutes away, because shit happens between where you are and where you’re going. Even adding an additional thirty minutes to ensure timeliness, didn’t stop me from getting stuck on the L train, with the announcer broadcasting that the train was no longer heading into Manhattan. Let me get a cab. Except all 120 people, who were just in platform purgatory have the same idea (this was before Uber). To big things, like starting a business from scratch, using educational resources, researching every nook and cranny myself. I did such a good job I landed an investor and brokered a deal based on my business plan. Putting in more than my fair share of sweat equity didn’t deter me, eye on the prize. Everything was going well, until the investor went haywire. Last minute right before our launch, despite the extensive and elaborate contract he’d signed. Using the website we’d hired him to build as leverage, in an attempt to bully us into his vision. No way were two black girls, with a minimum of thirty years less life, going to tell him what to do. We had to start from scratch, weary of seeking outside help to speed us up. Plus the financial game is discriminatory, it is insanely difficult to get a loan as a black person. Double whammy we’re women.

Confirming what Sharon Hill taught me; that life is going to do what it wants, the only thing you can control is how you adapt to it. Anything can happen on this spinning rock, orbiting circles in infinity. Everything is probability, there are factors in your life that increase, or decrease the likelihood of what does and does not happen to you. Mere mortals, delirious in believing we have more power than we actually do in the cosmic universe. Yes we’ve ‘conquered’ nature, with our slabs of concrete and metal shapes. But nature can take us out in one breath, with some destructive force. As the Queen Of Dead-Ends, I’ve learned that faith is essential. Having so many horrible things happen that were beyond my control, taught me there’s a higher power you must yield to. It will force you in directions you didn’t know existed, it will do everything for your highest good. Sometimes your highest good is to reap what you sow, to teach you there are consequences, or rewards to your actions. To make you a better person. Keep the faith, with as many setbacks, I’ve experienced as many miracles. This virus is a lesson to humble yourself homo-sapiens. Surrender to the powers that be, for you are smaller than an ant in the bigger picture. Via: Arts Genetic

Use Your Mind Always

Take one second to think before you do. If people took the time to do so, there would be way less conflict, chaos and misunderstanding. There would be far more compassion, sympathy and love. Use your mind folks. Which one of these tenets do you need to work on the most? Photo: The Spirit Guide

If At First You Don’t Succeed

Never stop learning. When things don’t work out it’s either the universe trying to redirect you, teach you something, or test how badly you want it. Follow the signs, but don’t be afraid to fall and try again. Is there something you’re on the brink of giving up? What do you think you need to change? Artist: Sophia Joan Short