Category Archives: Simply Stan

Today’s Word is… CHOICE

I remember the first time I saw Marvel’s Black Panther 3 whole months ago, my reaction to Killmonger’s last line. I was shocked that they went THERE with it, because at the end of the day this whole movie was still bankrolled by Mickey Mouse. Then there was the second time, it was a punch I knew was coming, and I scoffed. It was one of those things that sounds good until you think about it, like “Too Close” by Next. (That song actually went #1…Gen X is trash). Spoiler alert but not really because how did you not see a movie that outsold the Titanic, when Killmonger is dying, T’Challa makes one last appeal to him offering to save his life and he refuses saying to bury him in the ocean with his ancestors who jumped off the ship because they knew death was better than bondage. First of all, you just killed someone like 15 minutes ago. Second, what kinda stupid ass hotep logic is that?

Fast forward to now, Kanye West, former favorite rapper took that that stupid ass hotep logic, chopped it up like a soul sample and had the unmitigated gall to say, 400 years of slavery sounds like a choice. *record scratch*. As most of the internet collectively let out a “nigga what”, there was another subset that shared his sentiment. The subset that loved that Killmonger line, the subset that is tired of all these slave movies (there’s been 30 in the last 100 years), the pan African subset…the people who don’t want to be associated with slavery; because they are ashamed of slavery.

You know who should be ashamed of slavery? The white people, this fucking country, this world. The idea of a slave mentality or a victim mentality is bullshit. Slaves weren’t too mentally weak to fight back, many did, many died trying, some succeeded. Others placed their faith and God, persevered and because of them we are still here. And for their sacrifice, some drug addicted rapper and hoteps spit in their face because their fragile masculinity won’t allow them to have ever been oppressed. They would’ve been Nat Turner or Harriet Tubman, they say it like children in the playground playing Avengers and everyone wants to be Thor and Cap. These same “Nats and Harriets” probably won’t even defend themselves at work. The idea that 200 years from now, someone’s ignorant descendant is going to say how they would’ve just shot the cops back, staged a prison break, overthrew the government and whatever other hotep fan fiction comes to mind. Because that’s how it works. It’s just a choice.

This message is easier to sell to black men, we’re strong, we’re tough, ain’t no white man with a whip gonna keep ME down. But if you woke up on an island, unable to read or understand the language, no idea of which way is North, South, East and West, what would you do? Kanye and the like want to believe that slaves were just brainwashed, that racism is a dated concept, that they just have to pull their pants up, or achieve a level of wealth, any and every life hack there is to escape the reality of being a black life in America. But telling yourself it didn’t happen doesn’t change anything. Boycotting slave imagery doesn’t change anything. To simply ignore 400 years of documented history fit your fairy tale imagery of black masculinity is delusional, for Kanye to get his slack jawed ass on live television and say it was a choice, that goes beyond a fake deep quip in a movie, it’s blatant propaganda. Fuck him.

@Profblmkelley captured it perfectly, “Not only did my ancestors and Kanye’s ancestors survive, they managed to make a way to make a new culture, remake family and faith. And in the process, make a culture so formidable that it continues to change the world.” My ancestors were strong, my ancestors endured, my ancestors survived. They aren’t anyone to feel shame about or hide and it upsets me to see so many feel otherwise.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… SEALIONING

The Road Runner is the most unbothered character in the history of cartoons. No matter how panini pressed Wile E Coyote is to get him for reasons no one understands, the Road Runner never gets revenge, never even asks what’s his deal, he just watches the plan backfire, laughs to himself and keeps it moving. The Road Runner is a mood, as the kids say. You’d think after all this time, energy, and resources the coyote would cut his losses and find something else to do, maybe find a slower bird or an Arby’s, but no he keeps trying and the Road Runner will remain unbothered. The lesson, be more like Road Runner, the Coyote never wins.

It’s never been more prevalent than in the past week, where it’s… been a week. Kanye West is a MAGAt, R Kelly got dropped by his publicist, Bill Cosby finally going to jail, and Nas is an abuser. As usual, everyone has their opinions, and “cancels” ready to go, as do their respective loyalists. It’s the best and worst thing about the internet, everyone has an opinion but doesn’t want to hear yours unless you agree. I mean, I’m no different… I don’t want to hear a Trump supporters side of the story, if you think the earth is flat and don’t at least play for the Celtics don’t speak to me ever. I’m right, you’re wrong, go away. But then there’s the people who bait you into a debate by asking for elucidation, proof, evidence and you, armed with receipts oblige thinking surely any rational person can see this and understand how and why they are wrong… But they don’t. They hit you back with a “Where’s the source to your source?”, change the subject entirely with a “What about black on black crime?” or they casually dismiss with a “It’s not that deep, I was just asking a question”. Now you’re enraged, you want to jump through the screen and choke them… You’ve been Wile E Coyoted.

Sealioning, as it’s more commonly referred to is just that. It’s intentional naiveté, they could easily Google these things but the point is to burden you with the questions. White people KNOW why they can’t say nigga, the purpose of asking is to annoy and aggravate. Argh argh argh why did Cosby’s victims take so long to come forward, they clap they hands and wait for you to toss them a fish. (or is that a seal? Black lives matter, fact don’t). People take the bait and hours later, nothing has changed, they’ve been played and now they need donations for self care after such tiring emotional labor.

Just the other day, I tweeted that while Kanye has been bitching, Rihanna is quietly doing everything he claims he’s being held back from and a swarm of sealions washed ashore demanding to know what I meant by that, and how much money has Rihanna made in the last 3 years… Nigga, fuck you. I’ll take time out to have a discussion with friends and family, maybe even a white coworker on a Friday, if I’m in a good mood.. But not a jackass on the internet who is just gonna disregard and move the goalposts. Sealions play on your need to be right. Its a trap I’ve fallen into before, but these days I’m all out of fucks to give and I don’t even care if you’re loud, wrong and dumb. I’m probably just gonna make fun of you with a quip and keep it moving. Google is free*.

-Stan-

*Well I’m sure we pay for it with our data #StayWoke

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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… 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… AMERICAN

“What’s your nationality?”

Just black. Black mixed with mo black. Maybe some Native American. Dab of ranch. My initial reaction is to say black as if that’s not the thing that’s already apparent. No racial dolezal needed over here. (I dated a lot of West Indian women, they family LOVE that question…now I think about it I think I’ve only been with 2 Americans #randomfacts). “Just black” serves as the default for African American but not really because you don’t really want to rock with being American, you know, cuz slavery. To be an “African”-American is to concede that you have no idea where you’re from…even if I were to do a genealogy test, it’s not like I can then just carry on this entire culture from a continent I never been. With each generation growing farther and farther apart from the land of which they were taken…eventually you just have to accept that you’re an American. Hoteps can keep deluding themselves into thinking they were pharaohs, we can just cherry pick from “African” cultures and claim as our own (I’m looking at you, Kwanzaa), but you still are viewing things as well, an American. Let’s say I’m Senegalese…does that mean I suddenly I’m going to eat maafe and speak Wolof? No, sadly I probably identify closer to white Americans; I barbecue on the 4th, drink beer and watch football, eat bacon, get obnoxiously patriotic during the Olympics, and know at least 3 Bruce Springsteen songs. Merica. (Although given the current state of affairs, I think I’m just going to identify as Wakandan… Hail King T’Challa, King of the Dead, Champion of Bast, my Black Panther.)

These days as I know more first generation African-Americans and immigrants the more prevalent it becomes that I’m “African”-American? an American of African descent? Or am I just a black American. To be Black/African-American gives credence to the idea that Africa is just one giant country.(Still looking at you, Kwanzaa). The reality is if I and a Nigerian-American both go to Nigeria. They are “home” and I’m just a tourist in kente and a medallion. But I’m dark-skinned so I won’t look like a 53%er on a Eat Pray Love trip.

That isn’t to distance myself from my ancestors, maybe I’m a descendant of a king, or maybe just a goat herder. I have no way of knowing for sure. Some use it as a way to cope; they long for the history that was stripped of them. It’s not my place to tell them whether or not they want to hold on to their African identity. (No matter how ridiculous I find their memes). Admittedly, I had an Afrocentric phase, never went full hotep thankfully, so I get the sentiment of wanting to connect. But I know and don’t know where I came from and while I appreciate African culture, it isn’t mine. Do you, tho. (You can at least buy African tho, you getting a Chinese screen printed Dashiki and now you are of the sun God, cut it out)

Perchance that’s ignorance on my part; who knows, when I eventually do go to the motherland I might feel a sense of home and belonging I never felt before… In the meantime, that feeling comes from a video of this gospel rendition of Bodak Yellow. It comes from the black history I read about, the black history I’ve witnessed, the black history that’s still to come. Black Americans have a culture. A great culture (with a fucked up beginning we’ll never forgive you for). One that doesn’t need to cling on to African or white American roots to thrive. (once again, sup Kwanzaa). But maybe everyone just have to make their own peace with it at their own pace.

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