Author Archives: Expressions

About Expressions

Me just being me...in joy, frustration, grief, anger, love, and ignance--and there will be PLENTY of ignance. These are my personal and EVOLVING thoughts. I emphasize "EVOLVING" because I don't apologize for any uncomfortable or unsettling entries, as they represent where I was at the time of the entry. Proud to be an ever growing, developing, and becoming human being...and I'm honored to have you join me on the journey. Thanks for stopping by!

Oh, no you DI-N’T…!

In a recent intercultural development and training workshop, I learned about the concept of “Oops, Ouch, and Educate”.  I don’t know who came up with it, or if that’s even the exact title, but the spirit of it is this: if someone says or does something that is offensive to you (“Oops!”), you tell them.  It might sting or being uncomfortable (“Ouch!”), but then you educate them on why it was offensive AND share with them what might be a better way to be in communication with you going forward.  So in the spirit of that, I’m writing this post to offer support and encouragement to a very special group of people that I’ve encountered throughout my life.  If you see yourself or someone you know in these words, feel free to ‘fess up and/or share!  No judgment past admission…we are ALL works in progress…!

 

As much as I can appreciate the attempt to “relate”…it baffles me when a non-black person automatically assumes that I speak “homegirl”…then commences with the “mmmhmm”s, “girlfriend”s, soul food/music references, neck rolling, lip twisting, or (THE WORST) COMPLETELY UNRELATED references to their mixed children or black [WHATEVER; i.e., boy/girlfriend, spouse, best friend, college roommate, grocer…you get the point].   While I’m glad to know that you are “down for the cause”…you’re going about it ALL WRONG, and further widening our gap of communication.  Not to mention, really annoying the sh*t outta me.  Because NOW I’m in my head, trying to figure out what the hell in our interaction (besides my skin color) made you break out into this alter ego that was non-existent in your communications with other people groups.  And I’m also wondering if you think you’re somehow mirroring me…which is the subject of an altogether different rant.  But for now, I want to encourage people of color the world over (and “white” IS a color…for those who seem to have missed that memo; so YES, this is for you too…ESPECIALLY, actually): the best way for you to relate to ME, is to let me see YOU…the REAL you, not the “my friend’s grandma’s fried chicken” you.  Nkay, pumpkin? K. Thaaaaanks.

Advertisements

Whatcha Lookin’ fer?

Postcards_and_magnifying_glassHave you ever been looking  – and HARD too! – for something…that was already in plain sight?  Yep, this just happened: I’m rummaging through my purse (which has WAY more crap in it than I will EVER need, anyway) looking for my dental floss.  I’d already taken out my travel toothbrush (because I didn’t have time to brush my teeth before darting out of the door, so my nephew  wouldn’t be late for school because of me) and laid it on my desk.  So, I’m just a-lookin’, lookin’, lookin’ for my dental floss…*wait for it*…that I had already taken out WITH my toothbrush, because what I was really needing was my toothpaste. Wait…WHAT?  Damn.

Needless to say, as soon as I stopped shaking my head and rolling my eyes at the foolery that had just happened, it hit me.  This “phenomenon” of looking for things that are in plain sight happens on many levels, in everything from dental hygiene tools to business ideas to life partners.  We actually ALWAYS have everything we need within our grasp…really.  It may not always necessarily what we think we “want”, but we have everything we NEED for whatever moment and season in which we happen to be.  Just think about it.

Ever heard the phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention”?  Well, you can’t “invent” from lack.  We can only invent and make manifest (or call into being) things that we psychokinetically KNOW are already there for us to manipulate…we just have to figure out how.

So if I may, let me encourage you to join me in slowing down, taking inventory, and being intentional in our “search” for the things we believe we need.  More often than not, they (be they ideas, prospects, or other seemingly elusive objects) are usually “right there” in front of us.

What are YOU looking for?


Challenge Accepted

The following is a poem I wrote in response to a friend’s (Mia Wright) challenge on FB to write a poem about love that doesn’t have similes or the word “love” in it.  Here’s what I submitted…

I feel you.

You saturate my being

And cleanse me of my fears…even though sometimes I’m afraid of you.

I breathe you.

I inhale you each time my lungs fill

And you nourish every cell of my being…even when you take my breath away.

I dream of you.

You dance through my mind

And occupy my thoughts constantly…and yet allowing myself to experience you is probably the most mindless thing I’ve ever done.

I long for you constantly.

Because when you’re with me, everything else makes sense.

And the stuff that doesn’t…doesn’t matter.


I’m Sayin’ It

I never felt the need to “carry the cross” for racial equality because I, like many who were lulled to sleep by placating political gestures and distracted by “shiny” things like the American Dream and the right to pursue happiness, I thought “they” (the leaders who led the FIRST round of demands for civil rights) handled it already and that we were “past that”.  But more and more I find myself fighting the overwhelming urge toward indignation because shit is absolutely NOT okay and I don’t feel BLACK voices are being heard. My poise thus far is not because I feel like I need to continue to pacify and “stay in my place”…but rather because once I come out of the box, Pandora won’t have JACK on me. So I’m studying balance…and learning when and how to strategically tip the scales.

But today is not a “study” day.

And I will admit that I was tempted to “qualify” the BLACK voices that “should” be heard. You know, the educated, non-criminal, articulate, “plays well with White folks” voices. The ones that aren’t intimidating, know how to scout out “when to speak” and when to “…remain silent”, what dialect they need to adopt in order to “relate”, and voices dressed in smiles, suits, straightened or neatly curled and coiffed hair, and “tastefully” jeweled. But DAMN THAT.

The BLACK voices that ALSO need to be heard are the ones who, because of pulled funding and pornographically underpaid educator pay, might not put sentences together “good”. The ones whose pants may indeed fall off their ass, or whose skirts may look painted on. The ones who may even have upwards of 3, 4, or 5 children with different “baby mamas” or “baby daddies” and show no evidence of having been introduced to a condom or birth control method. The ones who have a “record”…and I ain’t talking about on iTunes. Why? BECAUSE THEY STILL MATTER! And if you actually listen to what they may not be so-called “articulate” enough to say, you MAY learn about the conditions (and conditionING) that brought them to where and how they are.  Who are YOU, person who is content to perpetuate an overtly racist system masquerading as opportunity, to “qualify” which BLACK life “deserves” to have a voice or “matter”? PLEASE go sit down and take whatever justification you feel you have with you.

Generation after generation of degradation, disrespect, disregard, belittlement, humiliation, second-guessing, and systematically imposed poverty…and you want to tell me that if my brother just pulls his pants up, he’ll “stand a CHANCE” of being heard? So you’re telling me that aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall of this is about some damn PANTS??? Aw okay…

Listen. I’m not saying burn the shits down. BUT it’s hella hard to stand by and watch the frozen molasses of justice make its way down to us. BLACK LIVES MATTER. Period. No laws which can ever be passed will remove racism from the hearts and minds of people. We know this. But still…BLACK LIVES MATTER. This doesn’t take away from any other people group, because YES “ALL lives matter”…but “ALL lives” aren’t being profiled. “ALL lives” aren’t being killed without indictment or prosecution. “ALL lives” aren’t in communities that are self-imploding because more liquor stores and payday loan stores are being erected than schools. “ALL lives” aren’t still haunted by the ghost of slavery, which brought BLACK lives to this stolen nation.

So I’m saying it again… BLACK LIVES MATTER. We are not the “animals” that we were (and, in many cases, still are) labeled. BLACK LIVES MATTER. And I shouldn’t have to build a case to justify why my life matters. Or why my brother’s life matters. Or my sister’s. Or my father’s. Or my mother’s. Or my niece’s. Or my nephew’s. Or my son’s. Or my daughter’s. Or my aunt’s. Or my uncle’s. Or my grandfather’s. Or my grandmother’s. Or…you get the point.

BLACK LIVES MATTER.   I make absolutely NO apology for my indignation. I make no apology for how many times I inserted BLACK LIVES MATTER into this writing. Because “BLACK LIVES MATTER” makes waaaaayyy more sense than “get out of the car!”, “fuck your breath!”, “we found her that way”, slamming a 14-year-old BLACK girl in a bikini to the ground with a knee in her back, killing a child for playing with a TOY gun, evicting a 90-year-old Navy VETERAN from his 60-year-old home (no, not all injustices perpetuated against BLACK people are violent), or COUNTLESS other monstrosities. BLACK LIVES MATTER.  I’m saying it, and will continue to say it…for myself and every other BLACK person who feels the need to be “taught” how to live in BLACK skin without becoming a fatality.  BLACK LIVES MATTER.

I’m not writing this to make anyone uncomfortable. On the same count, I refuse NOT to write it because it does. BLACK LIVES MATTER. This is not a marketing campaign to “convince” the masses…BLACK LIVE DO MATTER!!! I don’t care what the circumstance, what the living condition, what the mindset, what the challenge, what the “attitude”, what the…whatever. BLACK LIVES MATTER.

There…I said it.


Tribute

You are ever so smooth in how you move
In commanding authority you walk—or should I say “groove”
Everything you do has a purpose, a reason, a goal
I can see it in your eyes—your deep, enchanting eyes
For they witness of your soul

Which bears the scars and bruises and fears of a heart,
broken and disappointed several times over
And because you rarely, if ever, allow this part of you to be seen
Your face, often, is expressionless in an all-too-successful attempt to cover
Your feelings, your emotions, your true thoughts
About your past, your future and today

Oh, and dare I say…love…it’s okay

To be in love with life, with Love, with yourself, and…me
Please don’t forget about me

Your scent, your walk, your way of talking
Your hug, your smile, your style of dressing
Your charm, your laugh, your vibe, your groove, your soul, your love…
That’s what draws me to you

Nothing particular, nothing specific
But everything spectacular, everything unique, everything special, everything—
“You”

You are a man, living in your own world
Often misunderstood by those of us who don’t come from there

Your life tells a story
Of Joy and sorrow…Strength and weakness…
Triumph and defeat
You are an Overcomer

Driven by Determination, destined for Greatness,
created for Dominion
You are a Prince

A knight in imperfect armor
You are Father, Brother, Husband, Friend…and Love.
You are…you
And I thank you.


WHAT DOGGED DETERMINATION WILL DO

What would happen if you “forgot” to be limited…?

Don Miskel

I’m proud of, just got off the phone with, and am big-upping my brother, Chris Miskel. Though he’s younger, he lost the “little brother” moniker years ago, when we both became dads. I am mentioning this very talented individual because he is a maverick that decided to break the rules and live his dream.

Chris is a professional musician, a self-taught drummer who has been doing it since he could pick up sticks. When we were little, it was the oven door, pots, pans, oatmeal boxes, and any anything else that could produce a sound that got beaten. He’s gone from using pencils and chopsticks to being promoted by Pearl (those are the folks who make drums, y’all).

He also hails from the same impoverished Chicago South Side neighborhood that I do, currently nicknamed Chi-raq due to all the violent crime that goes on there. A young man who was…

View original post 241 more words


Back to the Future: A Letter to the Past

216602_10150269067622409_3156971_n

It’s so interesting how the universe responds to us. I’ve recently found myself saying on a number of occasions that I wish I could “go back and give [a younger version of myself] a hug’. I say it whenever I remember behaviors that were mindlessly prominent, stemming from a number of perceived deficiencies or flaws…efforts to get others to notice or “see” me and perceive or (even worse) ascribe my value. Then I stumbled across a challenge to– no… I was presented with an opportunity to do a writing assignment about advice I would give to my younger self. Serendipity in play, for sure. Well, actually the time frame that I was referring to was only about 4 years ago, but what follows is a letter to myself at around age 10, which is when things really were still in the middle of heavy twists and turns that were shaping the way I saw myself and the world…

Hello, Beautiful!

You are an amazing and strong young lady! You have come through some really hard things already, and you’re still smiling…that is a beautiful thing! I know at this point you are having a hard time understanding that people who really love you do not hurt you, but it’s true. The truth is those who hurt you did not love you at all, and only told you lies to get you to think they did…so they could have the chance to do harmful things to you. This is NOT LOVE, SWEETHEART. Love is not selfish and doesn’t willfully hurt or mistreat others. This is something that is REALLY important for you to learn, so that you know how to recognize the difference between when someone genuinely cares for you, and when someone is trying to trick you so they can be selfish with you. It’s also important for you to realize this so that you don’t grow up believing that it’s okay to do or say harmful things to people you say you love…because that’s not okay, either.

Love is a wonderful and miraculous thing, and I know you feel it strongly when it happens. You feel this way with your dad’s mom and your mom’s dad the most. They REALLY love you! They show you this by sharing healthy embraces and kisses with you… You know how when you’re in their arms or near them, you feel safe? Like nothing and no one can hurt you? That’s how true love is supposed to feel. You know how when you’re with them, they speak kindly to you…even when they’re angry, upset, or disappointed? That’s called respect. It is okay to be upset with someone, but you can still let them know how you feel without yelling or saying mean things to hurt them…even though you may want to do that. It won’t always feel natural, but as you grow older, you’ll learn that one of the most important things you can have is good relationships. And learning how to speak respectfully to everyone you encounter is a very big part of making sure you hold on to those good relationships.

Speaking of relationships… You are a sweet, kind and attractive young lady who has been exposed to relationships that you should have been introduced to only several years from now, when you are old enough to better understand what they mean. So, first, let me tell you that is not your fault. Second, although many who love you and will eventually learn of what happened will be upset and try to help you direct blame for what happened, that hear me when I share with you that that will not change who or where you are today…but beginning to practice blame and acting like a victim CAN affect or even change your future. You are a powerful young lady, who has the ability to do and become anything you can imagine…and you have an amazing imagination! It is very important that you remember the awesome power that you have within you to create and to choose. And to choose to create. Everything that makes you feel good about that gorgeous chocolate skin that God dipped you in, and those thick thighs that protect your sacred space, and that ivory smile that lights up your face…find ways to do more of those things, which help you celebrate the glorious daughter of Love that you are. (And although your hair is still being relaxed now, you’ll eventually learn that even those unruly kinks and coils that sprout from your scalp are to be celebrated and CAN be naturally tended to and honored.) Do not be ashamed of the wonderfully unique creation that YOU are! The more YOU know this, the more intentional your life will be. You don’t have to go through life apologizing for other people being uncomfortable with who you are in your natural state…you are not the reason for their discomfort – THEY have not learned the truth about themselves, and so they feel uncomfortable seeing you walk so freely in yours.

I tell you all this because it will give you something to hold onto when the world feels mean and cold. Because there WILL be days when things will hurt. People you love very much and who you thought would be with you forever will die and leave your life. So it is very important that when you get to share time with people you love that you make each time very special. If you want to hug them, hug them. If you want to tell them you love them, say it. These are special times that you can never get back.

Learn who your brothers and sisters are…on the inside. Pay attention to what makes them smile, and what makes them sad. Pay attention to how you feel when they do certain things – whether good or bad. And it’s okay to tell them, because this helps them get to know who you are on the inside. Remember me telling you about relationships? Your relationships with them can be among the most special relationships that you have. And when you grow up and all live apart from each other, you’ll still have your relationships to keep you close.

From where I sit now, we’ve been through a lot, babygirl. So you will have plenty of opportunities to share love and speak respectfully, with others and with yourself. I know that sounds weird, but as you get older you’ll understand. You’ll experience a few more very disappointing and hurtful people even before getting out of grade school and on to high school…as well as throughout the rest of your life, but remember who YOU are. Be proud of who you are becoming. Love yourself. Other angels will show up along with way to help you safely arrive to where we are now.

Who knows…depending on how much of this you remember and hold on to, “where we are now” could look much different the next time around. 😉

You are loved deeply,

40-year-old You (and no, that’s actually not “old”)