Today’s Word is… CONSPIRACY

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I don’t entirely believe that Stevie Wonder is blind.  I won’t go so far as to say I believe the moon landing was fake, but I can kinda see how someone doesn’t really believe that shit.  (They had live footage from the damn moon in every household in 1969 but I can’t keep a WiFi signal in a plane flying over middle America in 2019).  I believe there’s other life in the universe and they know Earth is trash.  I don’t believe the government killed Nipsey Hussle because he was making a documentary about Dr Sebi curing AIDS and cancer with Herbs de Provence and alkaline water.  (Even while Sebi himself died an old man and his “trial” he won 30 years ago was over him practicing medicine without a license and technically he was an herbalist and was not giving medical treatment)  What’s been most troubling in the time since his death is that for some people his death will forever be intertwined with Sebi’s.  Nipsey Hussle meant too much to be killed in his own hood by some dude with hurt feelings.  Although there’s been thousands of cases of misunderstandings and perceived disrespect leading to untimely deaths. Nipsey was too big for this.  Nipsey’s death hurts because he was one who was doing things right, he was literally hope, shot down.  And that’s a pill that’s too hard to swallow.  Senseless gun violence? Really?   Nah, it had to be the government.

While others have mocked those who believe Nipsey’s death was a conspiracy,  I can’t bring myself to fully.  Because well, I’m a black man in America.  I would never put it past the government to do shady shit and then gaslight us, because well they have a documented history of doing shady (Tuskegee, Eugenics, Black Wallstreet, COINTELPRO, crack, the Ferguson deaths, redlining, gerrymandering, police brutality) and then gaslighting us.  Regardless if conspiracy A or B is real, the anxiety and fear black people have in this country is.  Perhaps too often “woke” is ridiculed and dismissed as paranoid and irrational, when in reality we all are subject confirmation bias and give more weight to evidence that supports what we already believe.  Nipsey himself believed his documentary would put him in the cross hairs of some powerful people.   And so some of fans believe the same. But sometimes you have to take a step back and look at facts as presented and it appears this was just an avoidable tragedy.

There’s also proportionality bias and those who can’t process major events not having major causes.  Those are the ones where even I tap out.  9/11, Sandy Hook, JFK assassination, these can’t just be things that just…happened, there HAS to be more to the story.  And so you end up in a YouTube rabbithole trying to make sense of it all.  And that’s just a little too tin foil hat for me to even try to unpack.  Even as we live in a real time information age, people are probably more likely to believe conspiracies than to do research to disprove. Which is how we end up with flat Earthers, anti vaxxers, Trump voters.  2 out of 3 are damaging society as a whole (I mean flat Earthers are grossly misinformed, but I guess it isn’t hurting anyone) and we’re left wondering should we try and educate or just let them be “woke”, over there.  Who’s to say they aren’t the ones who are right and desperately want us to see the light.  (Well, again we live in an information age some shit is easily disproven). I guess all you can do is do your own research, form your own opinions and for the love of God don’t believe shit you see in a meme on Facebook.

RIP Nipsey Hussle.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… MONSTERS

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Here in Boston, our minds and hearts are with the family of Jassy Correia, a 23 year old mother who was first reported missing after getting separated from her friends at a local club, then tragically her body was found in the trunk of a car of the suspect in Delaware.  This coming just over a month after another woman, Olivia Ambrose was reported missing after getting separated from her friends at a local bar.  (Thankfully, she was found alive several days later, and tragically she had been taken and held against her will).  In both cases, I couldn’t help but be taken aback by the immediate reaction of “so where the fuck were her friends?” I’m sure people reading this right now had the same reaction.  I’m not even going to say that it’s wrong, just misdirected.  The only person responsible for Jassy Correia’s death is her killer.  Not her, not her friends,  not her babysitter, not the club. It’s the reality of rape culture, in a perfect world women wouldn’t have to be taught to travel in packs, never take your eyes off a drink, send locations to friends…but this world is far from perfect and if Jassy had not been separated from friends, she could’ve got taken in a uber, just snatched walking down the street, attacked in her home by someone she trusted.  We’re surrounded by monsters.

It’s a fear I don’t have as a man.  I’m far enough removed from the life I used to live that I don’t even think about other hoods. If my boy leaves the party with a random woman, I don’t fear for his safety.  Hell, I tell a nigga be safe he might get offended (when you think about it, it is ridiculous that we get defensive about that but hey, fragile masculinity or whatever).  Our monsters are the ones who are supposed to protect and serve but that’s a topic for another day.  I think about how I had the same curfew as my older sisters, the reaction to me dating in comparison to theirs and how women are raised to survive rape culture more than men are raised to fight it.  Even as someone who likes to consider himself as being raised with some got damn sense.

Jassy should be home with her daughter right now.  Olivia is going to have to deal with those horrifying 3 days for the rest of her life.  Women across the world constantly having to deal with living among the monsters.  As a man, I’ve had to accept that while I’m not a monster I fit the description of one.  While I’m in the party with good vibes and intentions, to her I’m still a stranger and possible monster.   I think about how men talk about the cockblocking homegirl, the girl with the RBF who ain’t trying to talk to anybody, the girl who is only there to dance with her friends and the mild inconvenience of not being able to get a shot off pales in comparison to her overall safety and comfort.  Screaming #NotAllMen to the heavens don’t erase the reality that there’s still men who are.  (Probably the main ones screaming #notallmen).  The energy used to show you aren’t a monster can be used to hold accountable the ones who are, and being aware and vigilant.  You don’t have to be a hero, but you have to be decent.  If not, we’re coming for you too.

-Stan-

 

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Today’s Word is… BEG

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I’m gon swallow my pride, say I’m sorry.  Stop pointing fingers; the blame is on me. I want a new life, and I want it with you.  If you feel the same, don’t ever let it go…

That’s that good ol fashioned begging R&B.  That I can’t eat, I can’t sleep shit.  Wanya made up a whole spirit to get his queen back.  We don’t even know what he did. But he sorry.  (probably a break baby…then again Boys II Men are too lame to cheat, he probably just ignored her call and overreacted).  Gen Xers lament that music don’t have this same level of vulnerability, today’s R&B is too passive aggressive, too prideful.  Because well, millennials are passive aggressive and prideful.  It’s not baby please take me back, it’s more like damn, I wanted to marry you one day. Welp.  The vulnerability starts and ends at acknowledgement that they might not be good at this love shit.  They aren’t going to DO anything about it, but at least they know now.  I could include myself in that same vulner-ish category (I mean, well, it’s been well documented here).  While millennials are flighty, we’re also lazy so that leads to a large number of couples breaking up, getting back together, breaking up again, getting a Tinder, remembering dating is trash, getting back together, moving in together, seeing their friends from college get married, wonder why they aren’t at that point yet, getting a puppy, one person really wants to get married, they getting another puppy instead, they break up and even though there’s two dogs, someone gets both.  Perhaps this generation doesn’t beg because there’s too many options (or at least the appearance of such).

Personally, I’m admittedly too proud to beg, at least at this point in my life.  I’d fight for my wife, I’d fight for my family, a girlfriend? Girlfriiiiiiiiend *Soulja Boy voice*  It gets a little more dicey.  Frankly, I just don’t believe it works.  Even when it does, you never get the same person back, never get the same relationship back.  Begging is easy when it’s a surface issue, like infidelity.  You fucked up, you know exactly what you did wrong and how to fix it.  Apologize and behave from this day forward. Problem. Solution. Now, it’s just an “up and down” in your relationship story.  (and no one loves telling that story more than a man who cheated and got forgiven.  He”s gonna bring it up in every birthday post, every anniversary, if you die first it’s going in the eulogy). Never mind whatever issues led up to the infidelity or even acknowledgment of the fact that you might not even be ready for this relationship you just lost because it’s now simply about the cheating.

When it get’s more difficult is when the issue isn’t something surface, but foundational.  I’m not happy, I just can’t do this right now, how do you beg to be with someone who just feels like the timing isn’t right?  (Spoiler: You don’t, they just don’t want you).  It’s one thing to be left when you clearly violated the relationship, it’s another when they just don’t want the relationship anymore.  Damn trying to get them back you’re still taken aback by the fact that they decided they didn’t want YOU anymore.  It’s a different blow to the ego than I got caught cheating.   Sure, you can just swallow your pride and accept all blame like Wanya, and now you’re in the same position as the cheater, fighting tirelessly to fix a relationship while the other person holds the leverage.  And you didn’t even do anything wrong, you just don’t want to lose this person.  Maybe they’re worth it.

I’ve had relationships end and deep down, I knew if I just called, begged, made a gesture, forgave things would work themselves out…Hell, there were times I did.  It worked for a few more months, but over time I was still me, she still her and our issues still our issues.  Or I found myself being the only one truly invested in keeping the relationship togehter.  Then there was times where I just…let it go.  You leave and the door locks behind you.  Breaking up, making up and begging only prolongs the inevitable.  Sometimes things have just run their course, or you want different things, or no matter how hard you try there’s too much baggage and the slate will never be clean.  And that’s ok.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… GROWTH

Over the past few days, the internet has been abuzz after Liam Neeson, while promoting a movie that’s basically like every other movie he insists on making, made a confession:

“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody–I’m ashamed to say that–and I did it for maybe a week,” he told The Independent, “hoping some ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could, kill him.”

For those keeping score at home, as I write this February 5th, 2019, it would and should be Trayvon Martin’s 24th birthday, but instead he was followed, harassed, provoked and killed. It was also less than a week ago when Jussie Smollett, was allegedly followed, harassed, provoked and attacked, thankfully still here to tell the tale. Or you know the long documented history of lynch mobs being started by well, an allegation from a white woman. I mean, not that there is ever a good time to confess you was strolling the neighborhood hunting black people, but I mean, he picked the WORST time. What he was attempting to accomplish in this (hopefully) career suicide statement was that he was blinded by vengeance and “primal” rage and after some cardio and therapy he can say he’s past his racist ways. Now, as a black man, I can say I hope he has changed. That he’s truly remorseful, that he has grown since then. But also, as a black man… Fuck you. All them movies since Taken are trash anyway.

People should grow and mature for growth’s sake but too often I feel like people are only apologizing with the expectation of being forgiven. When they aren’t, you see how sorry they wasn’t (see Hart, Kevin). Liam Neeson has to hold this L for the rest of his career, and we’ll see how long it takes for him to feel like black people are overreacting. Louis C.K. was sorry for about a year. Aziz Ansari, 8 months. It goes beyond celebrity, however. We are all about 10 years into this social media era. 10 years of self documentation. We are also in this receipts era where all you have to do is trend on Twitter and some people with too much time on their hands are going to dig through your old tweets for anything problematic. I’m able to be nuanced about these things, I joined Twitter at 20, I’m sure I’ve said some shit I would take back a decade later. However, I was still old enough to know better about most things. When I was 20, I thought wallet chains were cool, drank Vodka, and wore t shirts over polos. I wasn’t cracking rape jokes and bashing black women for clout. Like with Neeson, do I hope these people grew and matured for their own sake, yes. Do I still judge them, also yes.

What needs to be understood about growth and problematic actions of the past is that the society at large is not obligated to let that shit go. Nor does admitting it under the guise of well we all do ________, we all need to change. It’s accountability without being accountable. The same way white people all believe racism exists but never believe they themselves are racist. And so, Liam Neeson, his non apology and his particular set of prejudices can all get the fuck outta here.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… GILLETTE

I’m never buying a Gillette razor again!

I’m fucking with you, I’ve never bought a Gillette razor. Black men don’t put razors on their face. It was something my father taught me early, just as I was taught to respect women. So when I saw this new Gillette ad circulating the web, my reaction was, well said. Not what I was expecting from the company that literally sells lower quality pink razors to women for the same price but hey, baby steps. When I started to see the backlash for the ad, I had to watch it again…maybe there was something I missed; surely men aren’t losing their minds because a razor company told them to be respectful members of society. Break up fights, don’t bully, don’t harass women on the street you don’t know. I feel like these are things that shouldn’t be up for debate. They could’ve went much deeper, but then again it’s just a razor company commercial. If anything, they threw a soft ball right down the middle. They are simply asking men to be better, if you haven’t been paying attention to the news, ain’t nobody playing anymore. Adapt or be swiftly removed from the paint. Like I was saying last post with the cookout, there’s no reward for being a decent person, it’s the damn standard.

But Hell hath no fury like a man being held accountable (see Hart, Kevin) so it opens an ironic dialogue on is the idea “toxic masculinity” toxic itself. (it’s not). Pretending to be taken aback by the notion of toxic is the same as being offended by the word privilege, largely full of shit. Having privilege does not mean without struggle, without oppression, without outliers and toxic masculinity does not mean that masculinity itself is toxic. Toxic masculinity alludes to someone acting within their own expectations of what a man is, often exaggerated, often inauthentic. It reduces male identity to sex, violence, bravado and aggression. It turns a workplace into a frat house, hell, it creates frat houses. We live in a society (for now) where it’s rewarded. We watched an imbecile bully his way to the White House simply by being the biggest man in the room. We see people live in toxicity so long they become a part of it themselves. Bully or get bullied, only the strong survive… We are conditioned to believe that toxic culture will change you before you will change it and so we play into it.

I’m not exempt either, growing up it was ride for your hood, get this bread, get at these girls. Virgins got clowned, dudes scrapped over simple shit, we did what we saw the older dudes in the hood doing. They had their own OGs. No one really thought about how and why things just were this way, they just were.

If only we had saw a Gillette commercial, we would’ve turned over a leaf must earlier in life.

I’m just fucking with you. Black men don’t put razors on their face. Which is why I was surprised to see other black men in their feelings over this ad. Like, we don’t even go here. And on top of that; violent, aggressive, sex crazed…that’s how *they* try to paint brothers already. We’re more than that, we’re above that, that’s not what makes us men.

The cycle has to end eventually and there’s no time like the present. Gillette isn’t saying act less like a man, they’re saying act more decent because frankly, everyone else on the planet is kinda tired of your shit. And what do these toxic men do in response? They stage an online boycott and throw their innocent razors in the trash. I guess it cut deep.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… COOKOUT

 

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The cookout has been a long standing colloquialism for blackness, the culture, and being down.  While the cookout itself is figurative you can easily picture someone’s uncle on the grill, the spades table, Frankie Beverly and Maze, the electric slide and black people just enjoying being black.  No barking from the dog, no smog, and mama cooked a breakfast with no hog.  Basically, the cookout is our safe space. (Or literally every black family reunion).   Except, these days the cookout is more of picnic (some pun intended), a potluck, a box social because seemingly every white person who dances on beat, says racism is bad, looks like Travis Kelce, or just has a black friend has an invite to what was originally a fairly exclusive gathering.  It’s like no one remembers what happens when you invite white people over to eat. (see: The First Thanksgiving) Squanto ain’t die for this.  Blackness isn’t an honorary degree you can earn by seasoning food, dating black people or clapping on the 2 and the 4 because if the cookout gets raided I can’t say wait I didn’t mean to come here and retreat back to whiteness (see: Miley Cyrus).  There’s no off switch for blackness (see: The Rock in every movie).  So with all due respect white people, in 2019 y’all buddy passes are revoked.

Invitations to the cookout are suspended indefinitely, effective immediately.  At the very least, the price of admission has gone up.  If you want “in”, it requires real WORK, not these basic ass deeds like dancing on beat.  Even if a white person does go above and beyond for the culture, still a hard maybe. (See how that feels?).  Personally, I have never been that impressed; I don’t care how many times a white person tweets #blacklivesmatter, they can’t sit with us. (see: Shimmy Shimmy Nah White Kappa)  Not being racist isn’t impressive, it should be the damn standard.  You don’t get ribs for not saying nigger or doing a Halloween costume without blackface.  “Woke” isn’t a badge of honor, it’s the haunting realization that around the country and the world people who look like me are being harassed, killed and oppressed, a white people is simply aware of this fact and they get a hot dog and get to electric slide with the rest of us? Nah, B.

That isn’t to say white people are all bad or that we can’t break bread or coexist, it’s not like we are shutting the government down for 3 weeks to keep them out or something crazy like that (see Fiasco, Toupee); I just think we need to re-calibrate this reward system.  Ideally, being socially aware and properly seasoning your food is it’s own reward but for those white people who just NEED some pat on the back.  I have proposed a few alternatives:

  • a gold star
  • thumbs up
  • an “ayyy” when they dance (max. 3)
  • a kale based treat
  • a yasssss gif
  • invited to the coffeeshop*

*not Starbucks, we aint forget

  • They can pet your dog, but no kissing
  • Beer (quality depends on deed rewarded)
  • Acknowledgment that Season 2 of The Wire isn’t that bad
  • Indulge their high 5
  • Some oversized clothing item
  • A Tommy Egan dap

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  • Salted Caramel
  • Acknowledgment that Eminem did get Hov on Renegade
  • One outfit hyping
  • a head nod
  • weed
  • Acknowledgment that peak Larry Bird was as good as LeBron
  • Something related to Game of Thrones or bacon, the two things we might love equally
  • Froyo
  • Enter them in a 5K, they think they can cure anything with a 5K
  • One “Were you on vacation, you look tanned?”
  • A Jon B certificate of White Cool
  • A dab, seriously they can have it now.

The cookout is sacred ground and should be treated as such.  Invite only, no plus ones, no honorary guests, no homeboy who is just waiting for his ride but just gonna help himself to a plate while he waits (see: my cousin’s roommates).  Especially when we don’t know for sure how they be voting.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… SWIPING

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In a distant (maybe real distant) future, it’s my wedding day. There I stand, hopefully hairline still intact, beside my best man, probably my best friend Shizz, who I’ve known since I was 6. One of us asked the other to play one day and we been friends ever since.  Even as our lives took different paths over the years here we are as men, his hairline not intact. It’s been gone since we were like 20. My brothers would probably complete the roster, what’s a man without his family. Most importantly, they would all know the golden rules, that it’s swing on sight for anyone trying to Dwayne Wayne my wedding. Swing on sight for anyone trying to propose at my wedding. Weddings ain’t cheap, B. Across from me would be her wedding party, her best friend who at this point is more like a sister. Maybe it is her sister. Her homegirls, her council, maybe her line sisters (God if you’re listening, don’t send me no more Greeks). They’ve been there from picking out her first date outfit in the group chat, talking her down when things got tight, and now we all here.  Then comes my beautiful bride to be, who I saw on an app, liked her pictures and swiped right.  That’s just how we do things now.

I’ve spoke before about my dislike of dating apps (then I met someone not on a dating app so maybe this is just part of the process).  More appropriately I’d call them swiping apps with not much dating to be had. It’s a necessary evil because where are the single people? On apps. As of this year, there are 50 million people on Tinder. 50 million people finding love (or otherwise) via swipe, perhaps the most primitive gesture the human body can muster. An endless deck of cards and no matter how unimpressed you are you can’t help but keep swiping because maybe this one is the good one. Whether you swipe left or right, the immediate reward of a new profile releases dopamine and encourages you to keep going through the oddly satisfied pile of potentials waiting for one that actually intrigues you. Nope, okay that one…Nope…hmm this one looks interesti… Nah, never mind. Why does she take pictures so close to the camera, why are hers so blurry, is she black or tanned? Septum piercing? Pass. Don’t I know her? I wonder if she swiped right on me already. (Ok, so this did happen once, I had swiped right we matched but I hadn’t messaged yet.  I get to work the next day and I see her in the cafeteria.  I may or may not had unmatched her after that.  I’ve seen her around since then but we haven’t spoken. It’s a little weird)  And you swipe away without giving much thought to the actual people depicted. Maybe you’d like him if you had met at a concert because 5’9 is taller in person, maybe she’s just bad at pictures. You’re looking to meet someone but just casually rejected 25 people in 2 minutes with a thumb motion so how serious are you really?

No surprise, studies show that swiping apps are incredibly ineffective in finding relationships. 18%, about 1 in 6 people. It’s a slot machine. You won’t get what you’re looking for but the addictive simple nature of the app will keep you engaged, and advertisers just trying to advertise without any regard for your cuffing season dreams.  Hell, they’re incentivized for you not to meet someone. They can see you tend to swipe right on a certain type, so why not spread THOSE ones out and put them behind an ad?  Not much unlike the casino, the game isn’t for you to win, it’s for you to play. Which is why the first thing you see when you open Tinder the first thing you see are not your matches, not even yourself, it’s a new face to swipe on.  Happy swiping.

Not to go all Black Mirror about it, I’m sure with the proper level of expectations, it can be fun.  I think take a flattering photo, I’m quick witted and not a creep… theoretically I should clean up on there.  But I go on for a few days, play the slots, most of the time I’m swiping right on women just to see if it’s a match or not (I attract a type) and then deactivate until the next time I get bored.   I also think that maybe I’m just too old for this shit.  The median age of Tinder and other swiping apps is 26, while the median age of more traditional dating sites like Match is 40+, which leaves me kind of  in the middle too apathetic on swiping and too young to be dating y’all divorced aunties on E Harmony.  Which leaves me, going back to the basics.  Link with the squad, find a wave, and ask the cute girl at the bar what she’s drinking? That looks good.  Or, maybe I’ll just get a puppy.

-Stan-

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