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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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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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Today’s Word is… BENEFITS

So I was making my way downtown, faces pass and I’m home bound when I had happened upon this meme

getting tens of thousands of retweets and I was flummoxed. First, because since when was abuse a word to be used so flippantly (also is she wearing a wedding ring?). Furthermore, what is a relationship benefit exactly? And he can expect a lot of things what exactly happens if she doesn’t indulge, is he just gonna continue to not be with her? If he says he’s not ready for a relationship and you continue to act like that’s acceptable to you, who is really lying? What responsibility is it of the uninterested party to keep reminding them of that fact? (I’ve been that guy…when you do they hate it, “they know” they said, “we’re adults” they said). In reality, I’m not that damn serious, no one is that damn serious, and maybe just maybe “relationship benefits” is just something you wanted to do.

Relationships are nothing more than mutual agreements of responsibilities and expectations of one another. There’s no benefits package. You do things for (and to) people you like. Sometimes that happens to be your girlfriend, or maybe it’s just the girl you’re sleeping with, or have a crush on or a friend. You had sex with them because you wanted to. You were their date at the holiday party because you wanted to. You paid for dinner because you wanted to. You built that TV stand because you wanted to. You cooked for them because you wanted to. (I don’t know when cooking became a grander gesture than sex…or maybe we just too grown to be earning sex so I gotta love you before you have my short ribs). Entering relationships for said benefits is not how they should work and if you are doing that, expect to be solely disappointed. A committed, healthy relationship should never be something you leverage.

There’s a difference between leveraging and courting. A difference between men sold on the idea that if I pay for the date I expect sex and men who go on dates because they are genuinely trying to what she’s about. People who have casual sex because they just want to and those who are just acquiescing in the hopes it turns into something else. The way men lament about paying for dates on Twitter you would think they aren’t at the restaurant they probably chose themselves eating too. You aren’t “free food”, that’s another one of her followers who orders her UberEATS even though they’ve never met. If she agreed and went out with you, then you aren’t being used. (Unless it’s like date 3 or 4, she’s never asked to see you first nor has offered to pay. #knowyourworthKing). Going back to the meme, if he says he wasn’t looking for a relationship, you know that you are but continue to entertain him hoping to change his mind. You aren’t being manipulated; you’re manipulating. It’s just not working. Again, you aren’t doing things of your own free will, you’re leveraging. In both cases, rather than ask explicitly what you’re doing here, or state plainly what you’re looking for and get finality…but its easier to hide behind casual sex, fake friendship and cocktails and play a victim because your plan isn’t working. But they’re the misleading one. K.

-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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Today’s Word is… BANKSGIVING

So I was chillin out maxin relaxin all cool one day when I had stumbled upon this tweet:

At first glance I found it to be ridiculous. Charging your own family for Thanksgiving dinner? That’s absurd. Thanksgiving is (about remembering that time Native Americans learned the hard way about trusting white people) about family and togetherness. Reflecting on the year and being grateful for the things and people you have in your life. And then there’s Grandmamauntie, working tirelessly preparing a 6 course Thanksgiving meal for free.99. All she asked was that you showed up and didn’t bring a white woman home. (Kidding, of course… Maybe… Grandmamauntie still has some things she needs to sort out, and she doesn’t believe in therapy. You’ll deal cuz the greens is lit.) Grandmamauntie would never charge a cover for Thanksgiving; she cooks with love. (Don’t show up at people’s houses empty handed tho, have some couth) How would she look charging people on the one day that even the homeless eat for free. I’ve hosted dinners and cookouts and well…..they ain’t cheap, B. Of course I never thought about how much it cost because it’s family and friends and who does that?

But now, We live in an age where people think tweeting a thread is labor and (panhandling) getting paid for it. If that’s the case, then damnit Run. Grandmamauntie. her. coin. #Banksgiving. The game done changed. The price of the brick going up. And you know why? Because we don’t use pre shredded cheddar cheese in the macaroni we want smoked gruyere and gouda you know how much a lb of smoked gouda cost? Then your cousin is vegan this month because she has a vacation coming up, you ain’t get invited but now gotta accommodate. Your uncle’s new girlfriend has a gluten allergy so you can’t have the Hawaiian rolls out. You and her went to school together, she ain’t have no damn allergy. Your sister’s “roommate” packed 2 plates before you learned their name. Then there’s the auntie who is only there to pitch her pyramid scheme. Your other cousin brought a bottle of Svedka but then took the Remy to the face. Him and his friend “took a walk” and now they broke off turkey legs. Your sister hovering around snapchatting all the food like, “get you a me”, she ain’t make nothing. She brought plates. And Grandmamauntie takes it all in stride because she only sees y’all once a year because everyone has a her blocked on Facebook because she keeps sending game invites. You’d pay the 30 just to not have to unblock her.

I’m curious how it would work logistically….do you make an eventbrite link or charge at the door? I gotta text a cousin to get on the VIP list and get white meat? Is there reserved seating? I’m not paying $30 to be at the kids table. Maybe get a wristband. Does Grandmamauntie got a Venmo? Does the $30 allow for to go plates or you gotta eat everything there like at the sushi bar. What if it’s my second stop and I’m not that hungry, can I pay $10 to see everybody? If the stuffing is dry can I get it taken off my order? Are ladies free before 5? Can I get in with jeans and sneakers? I have all the preguntas, for this new world order. Or perhaps even simpler…don’t host Thanksgiving if you can’t afford to host Thanksgiving. Do a potluck. Whatever you do, don’t let pay me for my emotional labor Twitter have you getting exiled from the family.

Happy Thanksgiving.

-Stan-

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