Yes, I am proud of that title. Yes, I realize how corny I am.
Last Wednesday, I was a guest on TV One’s NewsOne Now with Roland Martin. Each week he has on a panel of comics on for his Wild’n Out Wednesday segment. There were just two of us on the panel—me and the super funny, Skiba. We were scheduled to talk about some funny news stories, but we wound up just clowning each other for the whole segment. I explained to the guys why they couldn’t call me “puffy.” And Skiba tried to assassinate Roland with a cigar. It didn’t air live because there was breaking news, so I’m thinking it may air tomorrow morning; I haven’t heard anything yet, though. The show airs weekdays at 7am on TV One, so check it out if you can!
I blame Hillary Clinton
Who ran the State Department
That issued a work visa to Steven Adams
Who was drafted by OKC, and subsequently (three years later) forced Draymond Green to kick him in the balls by calling him a “quick little monkey.”
Had he been denied that visa, the altercation would never have occurred, and Draymond would have had another flagrant in his back pocket for when he punched Lebron in his balls.
He wouldn’t have been suspended..
The Warriors would have closed out in Game 5.
And everyone would hate Lebron this morning as much as I do.
I’m still with her, but this is clearly her fault.
This past Saturday I ran my very first 5k—the Roots Rock Run in Philadelphia. I did it with my sistren from GirlTrek, an amazing black-women’s wellness organization I joined a few months ago. My goals were 1) to run more than half of the race and 2) not to come in last. I succeeded at both! Who knew 171st place could feel so good? I ran at an 11-minute/mile pace and finished in 34:57, which I think is pretty good for a newbie. And I really enjoyed myself; I think I get why people enjoy racing. I wasn’t exhausted afterwards because I’ve been walking and jogging five times a week for the past couple months. I was super proud of me!
Oooh and also, because it was hosted by The Roots, I got to run with behind, meet, and selfie with Black Thought—my forever crush and one of the greatest emcees in the game. I’d always imagined I’d be slightly less sweaty during our first meeting, but reality rarely lives up to expectations.
Last night, while my cousin and I were watching “Roots” with my aunt, she explained to us how sharecropping was nothing more than slavery lite. She, my dad and their 12 other sisters and brothers were raised on a plantation in Omaha, Georgia, where my grandfather worked as a sharecropper. They farmed cotton and peanuts, and she told us how every season, after the crop was sold and it came time for my grandparents to “settle up” with the landlord for all the provisions they used throughout the year, they’d always be in debt. Always owe money for the work they did, because he owned the plantation store, set the prices and kept the books.
Then she showed us this bill of sale from 1950, where their landlord took every single thing they owned, in order to settle their debt. They had no crops, no cows, no mules and no hogs, which left them completely dependent upon him the following year. And when the next crop didn’t bring in enough to cover all those new expenses (because, somehow, it never did), he tacked on that debt to the next season, and the next…
This was 1950. Slavery had been outlawed nearly 100 years earlier, but my grandparents were no less tethered to that plantation than their great-grandparents..
So when folks ask, “Why can’t black people just…?”
This is why. It’s why we’re distrustful, why the achievement gap, why the wealth divide, why I wish a ************ would come at me with that, “Slavery ended 150 years ago; why don’t you just get over it?” Winning in life when you had a 330-year head start, is no achievement. But winning in spite of this is a huge source of pride for me. Ten of my grandparents’ fourteen children graduated college. They went on to own homes, raise healthy families, have great careers, run their own businesses. Imagine what they, and countless others, could have achieved if they playing field had been equal from the start—if it had ever been equal.
I’m the type of person who doesn’t ask for help until it’s too late because I’m smart, I’m resourceful; I should be able to figure out whatever “it” is on my own. Charge it to pride, fear of embarrassment, not wanting to have my life and career choices thrown back in my face…
“See, that’s your problem. You try to do everything yourself. Don’t you know you’ve never done anything by yourself? You only have what you have because people are praying for you. You don’t have what you need because you don’t pray.”
My dad says some version of this every time we talk. Every single time.
It’s been years (a decade plus?) since I went to church or read my Bible with any regularity. And I’ve struggled over the years with guilt over the idea of turning to God when I’m in a bind, because I’ve not been faithful. I don’t wanna be the spiritual equivalent of the friend you only hear from when she needs to hold a little sumthin’.
But I really need to hold sumthin’.
So, I’ve been working over the last months on shedding that guilt and repairing my relationship with Him, and asking for help, and trusting that it will come, and trying my best not to ask “when?” and “how?” Because Matthew 6: 25-27:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
But it’s a struggle. There are so many things that need fixing.
I’ve been going to a new church, and on the first Sunday I visited, the pastor’s sermon was entitled, “I Know God Can Do It. But Why Won’t He Do It For Me?” It was to be a three-part lesson and spoke to exactly where I am in life. It kept me coming back and it reminded me of the song below, that my friend Jason sent me a few years ago when I was really sick.
I believe it’s going to get better, that it’s already getting better. And I know, with Him, it’s never too late. In case there’s anyone else who needed to hear it, this is for us:
As described by its founder, Dr. Yaba Blay, Pretty.Period. is “A visual tribute to brown skin. A visional testimony of Black beauty. A vision board for healing.” It’s a place for brown women to come and, not just be appreciated, but celebrated. Where we are not “pretty for a black girl” or ‘pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” We’re pretty. Period.
I saw the above post last week on the organization’s Facebook page, and it absolutely broke my heart. We’ve all seen the doll test videos on YouTube; we know how early, and profoundly and profoundly early, little brown girls are affected by the lies the world would have them believe about themselves. We know that the way to combat this is to tell them and show them and then keep telling and showing them how beautiful they are—that women all over the world go to extreme lengths to achieve their brand of beauty. That they are lovable and deserve to be loved.
Black girls need to play with and care for dolls that reflect who they are. Period.
Growing up, my mother insisted that all my dolls be black. I had black Kimberly dolls, a black Cabbage Patch Kid, a black Baby-Alive-type doll that scared the crap out of me, but my Mom still made me play with, anyway. She even had two black Raggedy Ann dolls made for me because “if you want a raggedy doll, she’s gonna be black.” Which…well, you just read that, so you know. Her intention was clear, though.
Don’t side-eye Little Raggedy. She’s just light-skinned.
My friend Dana is the most creative person I know. A graphic designer/photographer/should-have-her-own-show chef/(former) beauty and food blogger and now–knitter, her ability to just pick up new skills and be great at them has always blown my mind. Her current blog is about all the things she knits. She makes sweaters and baby blankets and clothes for her dog; she’s knit me awesome hats and cowl scarfs. But the other day I happened upon something on her Instagram feed that melted my heart. She’d knitted a little brown doll for our friend Yuvay’s daughter, Maddie. She even made a sweater for Maddie to match the sweater the doll had on. How sweet is this? Check out her post here.
Making a brown doll for a brown girl gave me so much joy! — DWJ
And it looks like little Maddie loved it as well! I think it’s my favorite of all the things she’s made in the 20 years I’ve known her; it’s definitely the most important. And having just seen the Pretty.Period. post, I had to share it. I have the dopest friends. Am I too old for a doll like Maddie’s, D? You don’t have to make me the matching sweater…
Did you know that approximately 22 veterans die from suicide every day? In response to this epidemic, an organization called 22KILL aims to raise awareness for and aid in prevention of veteran suicide. Additionally, they help to re-integrate veterans into society by providing jobs and opportunities for them to give back to their communities. I learned about 22KILL through the Facebook page of a friend who is a Marine. He posted a video of he and his unit pledging to do 22 push-ups for 22 days to help raise awareness for veteran suicide. I think it’s shameful that the men and women who fight to protect our way of life, so often don’t have access to the medical and mental health treatment they so desperately need upon returning home. I wanted to do my part, however small, to help combat that.
So, here are my 22 pushups. Don’t laugh at my pushups. I had to do it twice because I wasn’t recording the first time. And I am puffy. So, I was tired.
Watch and learn more about 22KILL, here:
Please share and get involved however you can! And to all veterans: Thank you for your service. I support you and am grateful for all you have done and continue to do.
Last Saturday, on my way up to The Berkshires for a show, I made a pit stop at Philiipsburg Manor–an historic site located in Sleepy Hollow, NY. In the 1800’s, it was a complex operated by a family of Dutch merchants who owned 23 enslaved Africans. Similar to Colonial Williamsburg, they offer tours where you can learn the little-known story of enslavement in the colonial north. I visited on this particular day because it was Pinkster–(a Dutch-turned-African-American holiday celebrated mainly in the Hudson Valley), and having just heard about it for the first time that morning, I wanted to learn more.
Here are a few photos from my tour of the manor. Scroll thru them right quick, so we can get back to the lady in this video.
Y’all finished? Or are you done? Either way, let’s get back to the issue at hand: how did this white woman end up with this responsibility? Was Keisha on break and she thought, “I did take an African Dance class that one Saturday, and I saw the wedding scene in that Arsenio Hall movie about Africans like 2 times…I’ll fill in for you, Keisha!” I don’t have the words for what this is or how incongruous it felt or how the black woman dancer who was dancing before her was looking at her while she was dancing or for how the drummers were smirking at me while I was giving this white lady the big eyes… This is why the caged bird stopped singing; she had no more songs.
I love a good museum adventure, and learning about Pinkster was dope–especially because it was one of the very few times the enslaved were given time off. But this ish right here is why there should be a 15-20 minute limit for black people at historical sites having to do with slavery.
“But I didn’t even see the upstairs, yet. I’m gon’ get my full 14 dollars worth.”
“Ma’am, I think it’s best you head on out now, for your own peace of mind.”
Because at minute 21, some chit like this happens.