Yo. It’s 2017. How in the heck did we get here?
“By living, Diane,” you’ll probably say. In which I’d respond, “Shut up, smart-ass.”
But honestly, I guess that’s a good response. How else did we get to today if not by choosing to live, one day at a time, especially through the hellacious year that was 2016?(After the 2015 I had, I was really hoping for some kind of reprieve. The last half of 2016 was on some bullshit though, had its own plans, peed on the seat of the toilet, didn’t wipe it up and walked straight out the bathroom without washing its hands. It was awful.)
Which honestly it’s like, cool. But here’s what’s not going to happen. I personally, am not going to allow myself to be victimized by 2016. Yeah, there’s a tyrant standing to gain levels of power he can’t even comprehend, incredibly selfish men who look just like him ready to gut the very fabric of society, and droves of unthinking idiots ready to believe that they voted for a better future. But thems are the breaks, amiright?!
All I can think of now is making sure that this year is better. At least, by the time 12/31/17 comes around, I want to be able to look back without side-eye. I’m going to approach this year with purpose, love myself more (flubs and all) and reach new levels of me. I have a couple of things I want to make sure to do this year, with intent, that I think can help a lot of us. I’ll call them my 2017 Resolutions for PEAK Magical Black Girl(ness).
1. Consume and support as much black art as possible.
Growing up, I didn’t even realize how deprived I was of seeing TV shows starring black people where they weren’t struggling to get by, slaves, or gang members. I had no idea how complex black people were, being one myself, friends with them, and raised by them. It was in college at a predominantly white institution that I started craving things that looked like me, and less like the shows I was constantly watching starring white teenagers manufacturing problems in their lives with unrealistic vocabularies and the hottest fashions from Delia’s or Vera Bradley. Fast forward years later (because I’m not aging myself in front of y’all) and what a time it is to be alive! We’ve got shows winning awards for acting starring Viola Davis and Angela Bassett. We’ve got amazing books being written like “Ghana Must Go” by Taiye Selasi and “Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; HBO shows written and starring Issa Rae; and the likes of Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae telling a story I didn’t even know was a thing in “Hidden Figures” (out in theaters everywhere NOW).
Not only that, people I’ve been watching and even my own family are stretching and flexing and cultivating their own creative spaces. My new favorite blog of the last couple of months? The Kinfolk Kollective, cultivated by a black woman in the D.C. area creating a community that produces change and brings the laughs. The Bougie Blog is run by an up and coming lifestyle connoisseur featuring fashion, makeup and DIY home decor. My cousin Shalom Blac is taking her story world-wide and killing the game with her work as a makeup artist. Also, if you enjoy these things, donate to them and help them continue to produce their art. It’s only fair. Making and editing videos takes time and effort AND money. Respect the art and become a patron wherever and however you can.
On the other hand:
2. Stop supporting the art of black people who’d prefer to coon than be a part of the fight for true equality.
In this society where black people are doomed to be second-class citizens (because you know, systematic racism and mass incarceration), it’s hard to not want to surround yourself with like-minded folks. What makes this notion awesome is seeing high-profile people who express the same sentiment. Solange Knowles wrote an entire album about the black [female] experience that sent waves through every one I know who listened to it. I had “A Seat At The Table” on repeat constantly (then I discovered the Hamilton soundtrack and well…they both had to fight for my attention, let’s leave it at that).
With all of that feel goodness, it makes moments like Ray Rice and Jim Brown visiting Trump Tower to be the spokespeople for brown folk everywhere on how we need to heal as a nation and work with this OVERT RACIST to bring unity and blah blah blah SHUT UP so eye-roll producing. It also makes seeing people with art that I love (see: Kanye West, but don’t see: The Life of Pablo, cause that album was trash)going to that same place, as if it’s fucking Mount Doom and they’re Frodo & Sam and just HAVE to go there, to take photos and just lose all of the respect of his black fans (not all) kind of disgusting but not surprising because he married Kim Kardashian who was the living embodiment of the word “attention.”
Then you have Tyler Perry and Lee Daniels with the power to cast black folks in EVERY. SINGLE. PIECE. of their work and to share the love with talented black people using thinly veiled excuses as to why their new work doesn’t star these black people: “I wanted to heal the divide in America cause of the election” and “Yadda yadda, it’s reverse racism if you don’t like it” and honestly, let’s just keep it real. You wanted more white people watching your shows because nothing says longevity like the support of the white dollar and you’re trying to shame us for calling you out on it. That technique is old, we’re on to you, and we’re not seeing it for you anymore. I’m officially done watching Empire.
3. Don’t worry about coming off as an angry black woman.
Do you usually get out of your car and walk towards a building with just your face, no edges of your lips curled up, just minding your business? Yeah? And what about just down the street, trying to get to a place, MINDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS? Do you ever worry that when someone tells you to smile or just gives you a look that they assume that you’re angry? DON’T. 1. Their opinion doesn’t matter. 2. There are A LOT of things for black women to be angry about. When we are angry, YOU WILL KNOW ABOUT IT.
4. Enter every space as if you belong there.
Wear your hair tall and curly. Or twisted and long. AND PURPLE. Be not afraid to be your blackest self wherever you inhabit. Our hair as black women can do some amazing things; why not experiment and then show it off? I know I’m personally glad that I don’t have to wrap pieces of plastic around my strands to create texture and have an afro. All I need is quality H20. I want to show that off, and often. I love the looks I get from people when I go from shoulder length crochet braids to long Marley twists. I make sure to walk a straight line and never move out of the way when someone is approaching from the other direction. You’ll arc around me, thank you very much. I make eye contact because I ain’t scared of nobody, and at the same time, I’m not afraid to show them my disapproval.
After the election and the overwhelming middle finger a majority of white America shot at me and mine, I was hesitant to even engage with white people, specifically at work. I was angry and disappointed, I wanted nothing more than to not exist in the same space as them. Of course, I got to a point where I realized a majorly important thing: They weren’t issuing my paychecks (unless they worked for HR…)and they damn well weren’t going to affect how I passed through that building and how I felt while doing it.
Just as racists were empowered to show their worst, true selves, I was empowered to show my best true self, from head to freakin toe. Every where I go, I experience people who close elevators in my face when they see me approaching, let alone will let a door swing shut in front of me, and who won’t even respond when I say “hi.” I don’t know why they do it, but I know it won’t stop me from sharing the same space and doing it with my head held high. My mama didn’t raise no punk. With this new [old] face of our country revealing itself, that’s a quality I’m going to need.
5. Call out racism, sexism, and any kind of discrimination you see.
You want to know why it’s so easy for people like the Orange Cheeto from Hades to continue to be rewarded for being an awful person? Accountability. Yeah, when that video came out of him talking about sexually assaulting women, some people lost their shit. But just as soon as that happened, others were defending it as “locker room talk. He went on to become President-elect of the United States and the world as a whole (except for you, Russia) looked at us like we lost our collective damn mind. MULTIPLE cases of racist business practices, sexual assault, violent Islamophobia, and mocking a disabled man were reported, and he was still given the power to change a country. Like, how do you not laugh at how incredulous that is? How did this happen?
Not enough people came together to let him know that this was unacceptable. INSTEAD, they voted for him. LOL. THEY VOTED FOR HIM. WITH THEIR HANDS AND MINDS AND LIKE, THEY GOT INTO CARS AND DROVE TO POLLING PLACES AND SELECTED HIS NAME WITH SO MUCH EXCITEMENT IN THEIR HEARTS AND I JUST CAN’T STOP EVER TALKING ABOUT IT BECAUSE IT’S THE NIGHTMARE OF MANY FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS AND CAN WE ALL TAKE A MOMENT TO PUT OUR DRINKS DOWN AND JUST SCREAM TO THE CELESTIAL SKY AT HOW. RIDICULOUS. ALL OF THIS IS. AND AND AND GET THIS. HE’S GETTING READY TO RUIN ALL OF THEIR LIVES AND ISN’T EVEN KEEPING MANY OF THE PROMISES HE MADE AND THEY THINK TWEETING AT HIM IS GOING TO CHANGE ANY OF THAT LMAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAHHADUMBASSES.
You want to be the change you want to see? CALL PEOPLE OUT ON THEIR BULLSHIT.
Have a Happy New Year, sprinkle your black girl magic around and watch appropriators struggle to copy it because they just don’t know how to leave well enough alone. (boxer braids, anyone? They’re fucking conrows.)