Category Archives: Randomness

Today’s Word is… STARBUCKS

When I had heard the story about the men arrested in Starbucks, I had 3 thoughts; First, white people are entirely too comfortable calling the police. We should just treat the police like the mob that they are. You don’t call Frankie the Butcher to move a sofa. You call for a noise complaint next thing you know someone is getting shot 15 times because they thought a remote was a gun. Two, everyone who has ever had a retail or service job knows that the solution is always to provide great service. If the manager was so concerned with these nigg…loiterers in her store she should’ve went and asked them if they needed anything. This isn’t a liquor store or a bank, it’s a fucking Starbucks; thugs don’t sip macchiatos, there was nothing to fear in this situation. The men most likely would’ve explained that they was waiting on a third party and also read the temperature of the room and ordered something which brings me ultimately to my third point, black men are very much aware of your discomfort around them.

One of my favorite T.I. songs is a track off his second album (and the first we cared about) called Doin My Job. It was something I hadn’t really heard before, a pragmatic view on dope dealing. No grand tales about “Papi” or the money, the cars or the jewels. It was, look I don’t wanna be here any more than you want me here but I got bills. A sentiment that anyone can understand. I mean sure drug dealing is still very illegal but hey there’s a demand, he’s a supply. He won’t bother you, don’t bother him. He’s just doing my job. It’s the overall sentiment of being a black man living in America, we don’t wanna be here as much as you don’t want us here but we here and got shit to do. Leave us be.

Even for dudes who willingly went to Starbucks I refuse to believe that their black spidey sense wouldn’t had kicked in if approached. There are plenty of times where I subconsciously try to make myself less intimidating. I smile in the elevator, I slow my pace if I’m walking behind you, might cross a street, take off my hood…I get that I’m a stranger. I get that discomfort. There are plenty of places where I feel uncomfortable around a bunch of white people especially as a lifelong Bostonian, like Fenway Park after a crushing loss. Or after a thrilling win. Southie. Anywhere Martin Scorsese or Ben Affleck made a movie. About 85% of pubs. The 2am train. Championship parades. And apparently, Starbucks.

You know who is most aware of the only black person in the room? The black person. Most likely trying to survive the situation making as little waves as possible and don’t need you and especially not the police to intervene. (For what it’s worth, I would’ve gotten something, I don’t have a dream I can loiter in a bland coffeeshop without purchase, go to a library.)

[Editor’s Note 4/19/18 2:00pm: I had thought they were at least posted up for a bit, but no she called the cops within 2 whole ass minutes. Is this 1964? Was there a whites only sign that they missed? 120 seconds and you lose your mind? Fucking white people man.]

I assure you white people, black people really aren’t worried about your ass, we just doing our job.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… GRIND

Rise and grind. Work 25/8 nah mean. I’ll sleep when I die. We have a weird belief that insomnia is the key to success. If you up at 2am “grinding” that’s not hustling, that’s poor time management. TheNeighborsSoiree doesn’t sleep but you know who does, his boss Drake. Who has a GED. So he’s factually correct. People with GEDs do sleep, while you’re up making songs that will be just be taken from you if they’re worth a damn. Countless studies emphasize the importance of sleep but it seems like we still can’t disabuse ourselves of the idea that if you aren’t worn out you aren’t trying. No matter how many generic self help quotes Will Smith gives on Instagram based off fictitious conversations because he’s Will Smith and he’s not actually talking to aspiring actors and the poor. The Rock loves telling people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps as if he isn’t a 3rd generation professional wrestler. Diddy is good for a don’t stop working quote but when was the last time he was up all night doing anything he didn’t want to do? That’s not shade to them, there was a time when they did have to grind. It was also 20+ years ago. They have no idea what it’s like to be in the 99% in the 99 and 2018. People aren’t struggling because of a lack of discipline. “We all have the same 24 hours” sounds good but an 8 hour workday, 8 hours of sleep, and the other 8 are spent trying to get to one or the other.

But I guess I’m a cynic in that regard…some people get their motivation from that, I don’t. Capitalism gon capitalism, in order to win there has to be losers. Everyone can’t be a boss, someone has to work. Everyone can’t be an entrepreneur, someone has to buy. To excel in a capitalist society, you have to crush competitors, you have underpay your workforce… there’s no honest way to a billion dollars. (I don’t know exactly what Oprah did but I’m certain someone somewhere got screwed) That’s how the game works. How the game also works is selling you the idea that if you work hard enough then you can be the one on top. Then when someone asks you how to get there, tell them to work hard, stay focused and never give up.

Whether it’s career advice, diet, dating, skin care… The end result is always gonna be do what works for you and pray. That’s the only advice they can give, everyone is different, every situation is different and a lot of the shit is luck. There’s someone who thinks he’s the next LeBron in a gym right now, working on his game, grinding, no sleep….and he’s probably going to end up a high school gym teacher. It’s nothing wrong with his work ethic, he didn’t take shortcuts, he believed in himself but everyone can’t be LeBron. For every drug addled mumble rapper who managed to find success without much talent, there’s thousands of more people on Soundcloud who quit their job, got a face tattoo, betting on themselves trying to make this happen and it won’t.

Then there’s me, damn near 30 still not entirely sure what I want to be when I grow up. Presently, I have a good job at a good company. Got a good start on my retirement…I can spend the next 25-30 years making upward and lateral moves, make good money but there’s no path to CEO. I can become a CPA, go into business for myself, grind mode and maybe I hit for a lick, or maybe I never get clients working out of a home office and do tax returns to keep the lights on. I can get laid off and write full time, pitch and grind my way to a book deal and a TV show and a production studio. (I actually started SFW when I was laid off 5 years ago, but unemployment checks will humble you. Quickly.) All of this is possible and none of it is. I guess it’s why we bother with this life shit. Either way, there’s gotta be a way to go about this that doesn’t involve working yourself to death or just dream chasing recklessly. Take your ass to work, but take time to cultivate other talents…and never tattoo your fucking face.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… UNAPOLOGETIC

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I remember when I was younger I would go to this advanced program on Saturdays at this private school across town.  (They wanted me to go there full time, but when you’re one of 7 private school ain’t in your ministry)  Most of the other kids actually went to the school, but they allowed a few of us broke public school kids in.  (Thanks T’Challa)  It was a culture shock for me; I was used to my regular ol school up the road where I was the smartest person there, but here I was the blackest.  There I was in some Js and a walkman, looking like I was in the wrong place.  I remember one week I didn’t want to go, and my mother said something like “just cause they can’t live in your world, don’t mean you can’t live in theirs” then proceeded to take my ass up to that school (again, this was completely voluntary and on SATURDAY, thankfully not in hair rollers I feel like that would a bridge too far) And she was right, I did fit in there I was as gifted as any other kid there, but none of them would dare set foot in my neighborhood.  (One of them did, like years later looking for bud…years hadn’t been kind.  Which is sad cuz we were only be like 16).  I kept my mother’s words all through that program and beyond as I gradually learned how white Boston actually was.   I never thought of it as “unapologetic” blackness as the Blavity Blacks like to say, I was just me.

That isn’t to say I don’t code switch at all.  I’m not walking into work with a Soul Glo shirt and a chicken box.  (Okay that was one time but I was supposed to be off that day and had a hoodie at my desk.  Oh and that time I say brazy in a meeting.  Oh I may have ended a call with “iight bet”).  We all have to kinda get in where we fit in.   I have to be constant mindful of my tone, my facial expressions, my overall demeanor.  Slang isn’t professional yet corporate twitter accounts are tweeting out “yeeeeeerrrr”.   The problem with code switching and assimilation in general is that, “white” is seen as the default.  Workplaces like to have a culture” without culture.  I might not walk into work with a fro and a chain but I will make myself comfortable as I see fit. (Which kinda means avoiding  them mostly). But I have bills so I try to meet them halfway; I can chop it up about sports, just don’t ask me about the anthem protests.  Ask me what I’m listening to, its probably someone you never heard of but I’ll just say Kanye and make it easier on you.  And there’s always Game of Thrones talk, which might be the one thing this country is actually united on.  (If you don’t I like Missandbae, you’re racist. That woman doesn’t do anything but bring love and light).

Which brings me to earlier today, I had seen there was a discussion about Tiffany Haddish and if maybe she’s doing a bit much.  Personally, I enjoy her, Cardi, Marshawn and others who don’t have a code switch in em.  Then there were the chefs at NYU who got fired for serving ribs, greens and macaroni for Black History Month.  (Maybe the watermelon drink was overkill…but I went to a chicken and waffles spot the other day that literally serves kool aid; we can’t hide from who we are).  It made me wonder if the people who have an issue with them are bothered because frankly, they don’t straighten up and act right around white folks.  There’s a feeling of secondhand embarrassment they feel when Marshawn Lynch can’t pronounce quesadilla, or Cardi is on the Tonight Show acting like she’s not on The Tonight Show.   They aren’t shukin and jivin, they are just being themselves and people are more worried about what white people will think when they see this.  When Desus and Mero are befuddling Jimmy Fallon, he looks out of place not the other way around.  You can find Tiffany Haddish unfunny without fake caring about how Ellen doesn’t seem to get it.  They nor anyone are representative of the entire race and I wish people would stop placing that burden on them (I do die a little everytime Deray shows up somewhere in that musty blue vest…its been 4 years, and even he doesn’t represent my blackness or yours).

Blavity Blacks like to say they’re unapologetic but the key to being unapologetic is being unapologetic, unapologetically.  It’s not performative, its actual.  It’s eating ribs at your dining common without a second thought, not 100% Melanin Educated Queen Wakanda t shirts.  Because being real the white people who feel a way will always find a way to, and it doesn’t have shit to do with what you wear, how you talk or what you watch on Monday nights so fuck em.  Live through the immortal words of Sisqo, “one thing you gotta know, imma be a nigga for life”.

-Stan-

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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… 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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Today’s Word is… RACIST

So I noticed internet is presently abuzz with music video from Joyner Lucas. I was already a little familiar with him, he’s a local rapper who notably likes to do songs where he raps from different perspectives. So I wasn’t surprised to see his latest video, I’m not racist, was more of the same this time its an average white man and a young black teen air their grievances on race relations. The internet is largely impressed. It’s so powerful, real and whatever. At first watch, I didn’t like it. And on second. And third. Meanwhile, I’m seeing it blow up and while I’m all for the home team shining I watched it a fourth time to really try and see if I was the one who was missing something…

I wasn’t. It’s just fucking dumb.

There isn’t a gotta hear both sides to racism. My livelihood can not be chalked up to a difference of opinion. White people want white supremacy, it benefits them. Protects them. Shields them from their own mediocrity. Lucas’ representation of a white man isn’t racist he just wants us to get a job, pull our pants up and raise our kids. No, that’s Bill Cosby. (and maybe Lucas himself). If white people actually cared about sagging pants and welfare, they wouldn’t overwhelmingly support hip hop and you know, be on welfare. The average white man isn’t racist; he’s just apathetic. He doesn’t see the big deal with blackface, he doesn’t get why he can’t say it if he’s a Kanye fan. He just wants to watch football without being reminded that black people are being killed disproportionately by the police. We had a black president he thought racism was over already jeez louise. He wasn’t offended by Eminem’s freestyle, he knows Trump is trash. That’s why he doesn’t tell people he voted for him and wishes people would just accept the result and move on. He hasn’t given any thought as to why he felt he had to vote against his own income level and health care…Because why would he? To him equality feels like oppression and his greatest fear is that a minority rises up and treats him like they treat us.

I thought maybe I was being unfair. So I read an interview about it:

“It was an average white man speaking his mind on how he actually feels about black people,” Lucas said, “and it was an average black guy talking about his interactions with white people. These are suppressed feelings that both parties have but are afraid to express.”

So white people just want us to act right and they’ll stop hating us. They just can’t say it. K. And it’s not even shade at Lucas, I think the problem with discussing race is that there’s a level of deference that is always paid to white people first, so much so that it then neuters any point you try to make after. Like when LL Cool J did “Accidental Racist” (same failed concept as this but at least this one slaps), don’t judge my du rag I won’t judge your Confederate flag. Nigga why are you acting like a headwrap is just as offensive as a flag that represents treason and hatred? Because that’s just the cost of discussing race in America. I say something bad about us first, and then I’m allowed to critique. Not too harshly tho. And I mean, I get it. I got bills, I’m not gonna get on here or Twitter and say some shit that would jeopardize my well being. (Or life, because that’s also a consequence).

Racial tensions in this country are thicker than Rihanna and I don’t got the answers, Sway. I do know that talking them out isn’t a solution. Especially, like this. You. Have. No. Reason. To. Hate. A. Stranger. Period. (said with claps. On beat). And no amount of stereotypes will ever give you enough ammo to. Cut the shit. Cool song, tho.

-Stan-

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