Today’s Word is… TAMBORINE

“Women, children and dogs get loved unconditionally. A man is only loved under the condition that he provides something.”

Found that quote from Chris Rock’s latest Netflix special interesting, not that I agree, but I could see where and why he would think it. He’s a 53 (bruh… Fifty three) year old recent divorcee, of a generation where a man worked to provide for his family because that’s just how it went. He further explains in his special that he wasn’t a great partner, he wasn’t faithful but he provided and presumed that was enough. And if it was maybe 20 years ago, it would’ve been. That’s what made the quote especially interesting… He thought providing was enough, power was enough, fame was enough… But there you are in the same family court as the per diem UPS driver. In the same year where we already seen Jay Z, one of the cockiest rappers ever be humbled in the same regard. Both regarded as one of the GOATs in their respective fields, it’s easy to feel yourself to the point where you can’t conceive someone being over your shit. Chris Rock, who has always had a fairly simplistic (some would say problematic) view on women; women be shopping, women never want to fuck, you better be chief lots of dough, and the aforementioned quote, he finds himself especially floored by the fact that his wife would leave over infidelity or that the modern woman now she down to fuck and go on about her business. Maybe the game has passed him by, maybe he always had it fucked up.

Rock comes from an era where dating was transactional; man courted, woman granted access. He approached for a minute of her time, spit a little game and got a number. He asked her out on a date, and another, and another, and then he invites her over for your sausage penne and spring mix because he can’t really cook. Then they’re having sex regularly, then he may or may not stop making those CVS runs. (Go to CVS, babies are expensive.) The whole way, man courts and woman responds in kind by letting herself be courted. She “wouldn’t be here” if she didn’t like him. These days, you might not even have your number saved for months (I find that absurd, like how is you knowing who the hell you’re talking to a privilege #datingistrash). Chris Rock never thought about if she was attracted to him, in it for his charm or his pockets; men want sex, women want things… Quid pro quo. You can argue that’s a simple ass way to look at the world, others might say it’s efficient. Personally, my money ain’t long enough (yet) and I have an ego. Want and love me back and shit.

I said a few weeks ago, that some men can’t process doing things that aren’t ultimately rewarded. Ironically, Chris Rock said in a special years ago that men built houses because women aren’t fucking on cardboard. (If nothing else, he’s consistent). For every stay at home son on Twitter who refuses to pay for a date unless he knows it’s going down, there’s a Chris Rock who just charges it to the game, two sides of the same entitled coin. At the end of the day, some can get away with things that others can’t. Chris Rock thought he had cheating bread, and miscalculated. Divorce pays pretty well too. And he’s back doing stand up specials, the game is the game B.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… HOMEBODIES

So it was my 25th birthday, my first birthday being single, first grown ass birthday (and so I thought, 25 ain’t grown… Little nigglets) and so I was like fuck it, Ima throw a party. Reached out to those party promoter friends who you all have but never acknowledge until you need something and set it up. What was also notable is that my license had expired on my birthday. I probably should’ve took care of it before then, but one thing you gotta know I’ma be a nigga for life *Sisqo yell* and I didn’t want to spend my birthday at the DMV. I just wanted to chill at the crib reading tweets and wall posts from strangers and friends I’ve been promising to link up with for the past few years. So I renewed it online. Shoutout to technology. Or so I thought… While renewing a license online is convenient, you don’t get a temporary one, hell not even a sticker like a new one is on the way. But what’s a few days? Fast forward to me arriving at the party, and dude is like… Nope, expired. Never mind that he can see that a) I’m clearly over 21 b) it’s clearly my birthday and this is a complete dick move. But it was clearly c) it was me and a bunch of other black men and they almost always have some reason or another to not let one or all of us in.

That randomly crossed my mind when I saw this article about how millennials don’t really go out anymore. One of the reasons I typically avoid most spots, is stories like that birthday one where it feels like the primary incentive is to keep people like *me* out. Where dad hats are accepted but snapbacks and fitteds are not. Spencer has a polo with a wrinkled collar on but you can’t get in with a black v neck. Shorts in the middle of June not allowed, women can show up looking like who did it and why. You need a valid license or passport with a photo taken within the last 6 months meanwhile a 5’3 freshman just walked by with her sisters ID that says she’s 5’7. Then you get in the spot, the music is trash, women don’t want to dance with you, it takes 15 minutes for the bartender to acknowledge you and then on top of that the drinks are weak, and half the people there are just snapchatting the 6 people who are actually there having a good time. I rather take it to the crib. (Not really. I’m an introvert but not necessarily a homebody, I’m weird like that.) I actually don’t hate going out, I just hate everything around going out. When I do go, I have a good time. My Mint app might judge the hell out of me Monday morning but memories don’t live like people do.

But as more bars and clubs shut down (imagine if they simply tried to appeal to more diverse crowds) and the more apps that ensure you don’t have to leave your house (like every time I open Instagram there’s a new monthly service of here’s a box of stuff, food, clothes, accessories, toiletries… Like we really are lazy af, no wonder aliens won’t pull up). The game done changed; more often than not I’m talking to friends about what they been watching on Netflix than weekend adventures. People feel more left out on Monday morning having a missed Game of Thrones than they do not coming out to [Random Adjective Saturdays] at [club]. Just last week in lieu of a Super Bowl party, just watched the game home alone cracking jokes on Twitter and group chats (and given the results I ain’t wanna be around nobody no way). Clubbing has become more of an special occasion deal, basically if it’s not your birthday or your last day in town, I’m RSVPing “yeah, I’ma see” which is black for, “nah”. I’ll catch the highlights on Snapchat tomorrow morning. Turn up for what.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… SUPPORT

Like Issa, I root for everybody black. Whether it’s award shows, interviews at my workplace, watching Family Feud…I want to see us win. Even you, Soundcloud rapper. That applies in my day to day life as well, especially living in Boston with it’s well documented racial history, I buy black when I can and when it’s plausible. Of course there’s the common tropes, “black businesses are unprofessional”, “black people always want a hookup” which turns into a chicken or egg argument…perhaps you are a little too comfortable with black consumers, maybe black consumers are a little too comfortable with you. I think about my barber, who on hand asks I make appointments and adhere to them but when I do he has someone in the chair and he’s on the phone. I have no idea how much my haircut actually costs because whether I give him $25 or $30 he just gonna ask how much I want back. Like, it’s been years and I still don’t know if I’m tipping too much too little or at all. I think about so many podcasts I subscribe to that take months off at a time, Christmas gifts I ordered and just got the other day, restaurants with 50 minute wait times and one of my favorite blogs pretty much being reduced to lists and this is what I watched on TV last night. And as a black person I want to support but as a consumer I’m left unfulfilled. It feels my support isn’t earned, it’s assumed.

Of course, it’s impossible to buy all black all the time. I can’t live off soaps, butters, witty t shirts and crafts. I also can’t afford to not see what Amazon and Wal-Mart are hitting on. Woke Phi Woke Twitter like to sell this narrative that Black people are simply brainwashed into supporting larger companies as if there’s a black owned smartphone on the market. I love us, but I’m not rocking Starbury or Big Baller Brand kicks. Tidal isn’t as easy to navigate as Spotify. These are choices I choose to make as a consumer. That money saved can then be used towards black businesses, it could all be so simple.

I think trust also goes into it; the black businesses that win tend to be in skincare, food and clothing. We trust the black twitter skincare guru more than they do Jergens (or a white dermatologist who might’ve studied black hair and skin for a week). A black owned restaurant, we expect the food to be hitting. But then theres the black owned credit union or consulting firm that doesn’t get that same level of trust. Is it because we are just used to us in certain fields? (or, white people stop reading…. Niggas be scamming, B. Like whichever one of your cousins had you on Facebook embarrassing yourselves with that CashApp scheme, or your Twitter fave hosting dinner parties serving meatballs and texas toast, and of course your WCW selling that detox tea). If I left my employer and went out on my own, I’m still capable of the same work I was doing. Except without the backing of a name brand company with customer service and auditing which engenders trust.

So where do we meet halfway? While studies show millennials support black business much more than previous generations (because we’re better than you) we all should be willing to make little sacrifices to support our own. Capitalism is a whole hoe and it’s hard to avoid the giants but in this digital age, apps and websites like Official Black Wallstreet come in handy helping connect businesses with us. Holla at a black florist this #valentimesday, try to find a black dentist in 2018, bring back Fubu…we all we got.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… SPIRIT

I don’t know what it is about Ciara that just draws the ire of the internet. She can’t hit notes but she seems really good at hitting nerves. Usually it’s the #FutureHive being offended whenever Russell Wilson acknowledges his step son but this time in a plot twist, it was single women, the same women who ride out against the FutureHive on her behalf. With this video she posted on her Instagram of some pastor preaching the timeless classic; ladies this is why you single. Like all things Ciara and internet, people took sides and argued relentlessly and Brick killed a guy with a trident. In the video, he preaches this idea of walking in a “wife’s spirit”, whatever that means. You know what actually makes you marriage material? Being 18+ and finding a willing participant. You can cook, clean, fuck, not fuck, and make Henny from scratch… There’s no guarantee that’ll get you chose. So while Ciara can think she leveled up her spirit and that’s why God sent her Russell…more plausible they’re both celebrities bound to connect and they did. (In an alternate universe, Ciara the Walmart cashier who never makes the Ride video probably isn’t getting snatched up by a God fearing QB with a head full of eyebrow hair.) Whatever she did or didn’t do, she feels it got her a ring. And sisterfolk it can happen to you too. Level up, beloved.

But what about the men, maybe we too need to get blessed outchea. Is there a husband spirit I should be walking in, (cuz if it’s anything like what I did for the first half of my 20s that shit was trash only spirit I walk in is whiskey now.) It’s not drilled in us how to be the best husband for our future maybe might could be wives. To buy a house in our early 20s, manage our body count, go to therapy, master a grill (not bad things to do for yourself but still ) If a relationship go south no one is saying that it’s just the women WE choose to be with. Why, because it’s largely understood it’s ridiculous to expect single men from the time they are boys to devote their whole life to a future wife who may or may not ever come. It’d be just as ridiculous if Leslie Jones wrote a best seller telling men what they need to do to get a woman, or if a bunch of call center reps moonlighted as relationship bloggers giving men “real talk” about why they single. There’s no expectation to marry or have kids, provide if we don’t feel like it. It’s how Drake can whine poetically about how he just wants to find a good woman, go an entire 10 year career never being in any serious relationship he claims he wants and no one bats an eye. Men aren’t validated by a ring, it’s a choice some make some don’t. Women aren’t given that benefit of the doubt.

While I found the video and the debate about it mostly absurd, I think I might agree with the overall sentiment. Not “girlfriend spirit” and “wife spirit” but setting expectations and standards and holding yourself to them. I think there should be a consistency in that with men and women. You know what you want, so kick it accordingly. That’s not carrying yourself in a wife or husband spirit, it’s self confidence and knowing your worth. In an age of “it’s cool girl”, “nice guy”, situationships and unrequited love because no one knows how to be honest with themselves, the ones who do stand above the rest and that real will recognize real eventually. And when it does… Don’t then become the person who is posting know your worth videos. You see it doesn’t go over well.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… LANDMINE

I remember a little while back, me and my family was chilling out maxing relaxing all cool. My nephew for most of his life was an only child and only nephew, he’s used to being spoiled, used to being the center of attention but you know how kids get to that annoying stage where they’re oblivious to the fact they aren’t as cute as they think they are, he was right at that line. So while we was hanging out he was doing the most to get our attention, kept changing his outfit to come back where we were. I remember my auntie saying looking like a damn [redacted], we all laughed moreso at the randomness of it all and the fact that my nephew gets really irritated at being the butt of a joke. Laughter subsides and I feel compelled to lob a quick “Don’t say no shit like that no more” (because he might go to school and repeat it, was my reasoning because old black people don’t be understanding shit). And everyone went right back to the game. That conversation started and ended in the room with no proof it ever happened besides me writing it on a fairly anonymous blog. But imagine if my sister posted a picture of him on facebook, my aunt commented on it instead and now some girl who used to sit behind my sister in Algebra II is offended and she screenshots it and shares it on her timeline. Her cousin posts it on Instagram, it works its way to Woke Phi Woke Twitter and next thing you know Bossip is writing an article about how “An Ashy Ankh Auntie dragged to Smithereens on Black Twitter” and now I gotta act like I ain’t see that shit. (Aunties are fair game, she ain’t birth you)

All of this runs through my mind as I think about how or if I should write about the Aziz Ansari story. I’ve spent most of the weekend reading thoughts from both sides. There’s a lot to unpack there, the idea of coercion, enthusiastic consent, conditional consent, extroverts missing social cues, even examining the predatory dating behaviors that Nice Guy™ seems oblivious to. (that last one is still in the maybe pile) But then again, no one wants to hear from a man on this. (Especially YOU, Matt Damon). You can think you are simply being nuanced but easily cross that line into rape apologist and victim blamer. You can defend Aziz and next week 5 more victims can come forward and have you looking stupid. I don’t know what happened. I do know that he didn’t exactly disagree with her account of what happened. I do know he seems too old to be running game on young naive 53 percenters. And that she… [LANDMINE]

In this social media thinkpiece industrial complex age, it’s easy for any and everyone to feel compelled to have an opinion on everything, be offended by everything, ready to defend anything without realizing you’re in public. I’m sure Babe wasn’t trying to end Ansari’s career or win a Pullitzer when they posted the story in the first place. It did force me to look back at my own history and have private conversations with others who also had to. In that regard it’s great that it’s come out. I have also spoken to people privately who agree with the sentiments expressed in The Atlantic and New York Times. Then you think about how triggering it could be to have something you are grappling with be debunked in the The Atlantic and New York Times.

There’s a lot of dialogue that can and should be had about Ansari, but it shouldn’t be done via epigrams and gifs. These are deep sensitive topics and shouldn’t be simplified to pick a side like it’s a Super Bowl prediction, especially loud and publicly. It’s a mistake I made fairly recently. You can know what you meant, your friends can know what you meant, the strangers who may read your thoughts, do not.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… EXPIRATION

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So, like a lot of people in the Northeast (because apparently we live in Winterfell now and it’s literally too cold to like, go outside.) I spent a lot of my break just watching Netflix on someones elses account.  I watched a lot of Black Mirror aka Technology Twilight Zone aka Tales from the Encrypt aka Brits Brazy, B aka Stay Woke Alexa gon kill you aka that show you told your friends to check out except for the very first episode with the pig and if they just skip it they might dig it.  Out of the handful of episodes I watch, one of my favorites was somewhat unconventional…it was a rom com episode.  Yes, randomly in a show where the Prime Minister fucks a pig.  So without giving it all away, I’ll just start with the premise:  In a not too distant future, there’s a society where everyone is paired off with an app. (MESSAGE)  The app sets you up in a series of doomed to fail relationships until you find your true love because you need to learn from each one in order to be the person who is ready to love their match (MESSAGE).  The kicker is, the app tells you from jump how long this relationship is going to last.  It could be a couple hours, couple months, couple years and you have to play along or you’ll never find your true love.

I found the idea of that fascinating.  What if you just knew this wasn’t going to end well, or that it was.  Or maybe, this is the one before the ONE.  As an INFJ, I feel like I do this already.  I project everydamnthing.  I just have feelings about things.  Or maybe I’m just a self sabotager…I’ll sort it out with a therapist one day.    But pragmatically speaking, relationships end in a marriage or a break up.  (or if that’s not your thing some semblance of it…Cassie, cohabitation, kids, a puppy…so you’re damn near married. Well until the W2s come in.) So is it really a reach to say that if this isn’t going in the direction of the former, maybe do the latter?  I found myself at that crossroads before, one time I thought this is the woman I marry (it wasn’t…at all….if you’re under 25 and reading this don’t even think about it) another time, I thought okay maybe we need to just get off right here.  Maybe we could’ve made it work just a little while longer; but it was probably for the best we got out before someone really got hurt.   Whether it’s a job or relationship, that feeling of…this isn’t it. Makes you just resign, even subconsciously because you know winter is coming.  But being a relationship pragmatist takes  all the fun out of it.  Even while I have my feelings, my doubts, my optimism…I don’t know shit.  (I usually be right tho).  That isn’t to say abandon my gut completely or ignore red flags, it’s just…not the time to think about that right now.  Chill.

Going back to the Black Mirror episode, there’s a couple who really like each other and decide mutually agree to not look at the clock.  Whether it ends tomorrow or 10 years  from now they are just going to enjoy each other. ( and if you’ve ever seen a romantic comedy you probably know what happened next).   In that time they were really happy just existing without the pressures of is this forever or am I wasting my time.   Too often we worry about wasted time that we don’t even enjoy it (okay I sound like your MCM saying he don’t believe in labels).  I do think, to an extent that ignorance is bliss.  That happy medium, where “how does this story end” might be in the back of my mind because I’m just a little odd, I’m not just waiting for the app in my head to tell me this is worth my energy.  I’m also pragmatic about the idea that I’m probably a couple years, tax brackets and growing pains before I should be worried about being someone’s husband anyway.   Or maybe I hit the Powerball this week and suddenly I don’t believe in such an archaic concept anymore. Word to Diddy.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… AFFIRMATION

When I seen the homie Dara’s Facebook status:

I was taken aback by all the answers of we don’t. I can get the sentiment, trapped in the limbo that is being privileged and oppressed at the same time, feeling like no one loves you. And so they double down, go full Hotep lashing out at women, the LGBTQ and white people and in return its see, they trash or see, you’re the real racist. There’s a middle ground we need to get to but I won’t get into that today. Anyway doe, presently cishet black men approval ratings might only be slightly above “wyd” texts and their President*. Who can we run to? Where do we run to?

Then I thought about my answer. My initial thought was women. I’ve said before that a large chunk of my #selfofsteam comes from my relationships; the best version of me is in love. Being wanted, being appreciated it be the difference between waking up in a good mood and contemplating if you even need this job. I’ve also said how it can backfire… When you don’t have that person to laugh at your jokes, indulge your dramatics when you are dying from a common cold, lay up with during a snowy day… Then what? Where does that affirmation come from?

There’s family of course. When it all falls down, I know I can come home. My sisters are my rock. My little brothers, I’m theirs. All family dynamics are different but most black men I know? Mama’s boys. Hell, I was. Their best friend? Sibling or cousin. Blood is going to love you regardless.

There’s money. The most simplest of transactions, you do this I give you money. I definitely prided myself on being a provider (maybe I was a decade ahead of the curve but still). For people like my father and other black men of the same previous generation, the affirmation came in look at all I do for my family, I must be pretty great. It comes from I’m good at what I do and I know it. Especially people who get paid to do what they love, I’m great at my job I don’t love that heaux. (Also, working 40 hours and being able to afford food and rent for multiple must’ve been lit, we millennials don’t know this life) Coming home to a hot meal and honor roll students was all they asked for. But were they happy really? (The second family across town says maybe not). Maybe they needed more than a “job well done” and just didn’t know how to express it. Hell, some still don’t. I would say I still have some traditional values (take yo ass to work tho… This economy is trash) but I know that wouldn’t just cut it for me.

There’s friendships. There’s a reason we turn to gangs, BGLOs, church, hell even hotepery… There’s a need to belong and be around like minded folks. Or just being accepted period. When the news telling you you ain’t shit and a “Dr” is calling you a King, I see how one may just see what the “Dr” talking bout. It’s not something I ascribe to but I at least get the appeal. Then there’s the homies and something we and I could work on being better at… checking up on each other. “Likes” and Facebook comments aren’t the same as linking up. I run into old friends we exchange numbers and neither of us use it. Bonds that are beyond surface level like we hoop together or where the wave at guy. Healthy friendships may be a little harder to come by but well worth having in the end. They’ll be there giving the toast at your 3rd wedding ready to ride on a Dwayne Wayne. Because friends don’t let friends get Dwayne Wayned.

An affirmation of mine personally, music. Awkward ugly phase, breakups, unrequited love, lost a loved one, coworker CCd a boss on an email trying to be slick, Bursar office on my ass, this $4 gas may or may not get me home… No matter what I was going through there’s a song for it. Me and Man on the Moon 2 got through 2010 together. Kanye and Biggie gave me confidence I ain’t know I had. Even annoying ass Drake has given me perspective on things. Music lets you be vulnerable, be angry, be happy and emote in ways that black men generally do not. Hov did that so hopefully I ain’t have to go thru that.

Then there’s social media. Perhaps the lesser of affirmations but affirmations nonetheless. I write for free (this year) largely to express myself and to give others things to think about, laugh at and otherwise enjoy. There’s a certain satisfaction in seeing a tweet go viral, or getting an occasional thank you message from someone for making their day. We can pretend that Snapchat and Instagram aren’t narcissistic but I clearly posted this for attention. It’s why your uncle is in a a Facebook group taking care selfies trying to find his light. Run me my hearts.

So, TLDR…Black men get affirmation from love, family, money, friends, music & “likes”. A man with a solid balance of them all tends to be the happiest. The most secure. But when you’re single, estranged, broke, unpopular and got Spotify with ads… Well that’s how trolls are born.

-Stan-

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