Don’t Be Afraid. Tell The Truth. The Whole Truth. And Nothing But The Truth.

For some, nothing seems to wipe their slate clean like death.

There is quite the verbal war waging right now because of a clip of an interview between Gayle King (Oprah’s, well…) and WNBA star Lisa Leslie where King asked about Kobe Bryant’s 2003 rape charge. According to King, the interview between the two covered a range of topics about Bryant and it was quite unfortunate that this clip was the one that was highlighted. Okay, people, let’s address this

Exactly what are you upset about? Are you mad he is dead and she asked about his rape charge? Are you mad he is dead and still mad he was charged with rape? Are you mad he is dead and it is just too soon and too tasteless to ask/speak of his rape charge? Are you mad he is dead and you think his death exonerates him from this part of his legacy? Or, perhaps, are you just mad he is dead?

Listen. The way Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan and Sarah and Payton Chester died certainly shocks ones sensibilities. IF they were aware of what was happening (prayerfully the fog obscured their views of how close they were to the mountain), it must have been incredibly horrifying. I shudder with the thought Truly. And, as a mother, my heart aches for the babies who were on the helicopter. I cannot help but to think the “luckiest” ones on board were the Altobellis… because unlike Vanessa Bryant and the father of Payton Chester, they are not left to attempt to figure life out after the loss of a child.

But, see, that’s the thing exactly. Death leaves the living having to figure life out afterward and for many, figuring it out can get complicated. And messy. Death, especially sudden and shocking death, oftentimes inspires the living to offer up a state of absolution for all prior misdeed or wrongdoings, because, well, debilitating grief is enough to deal with, adding unresolved anger will just be too much. I understand. I do. But what I also understand, is that not everyone feels the same. For many, death does not wipe the slate clean and in fact, may even imprint the misdeed that much deeper.

Nine people died on that helicopter. Without any doubt that is tragic. Four families and countless lives have been forever changed because of it. Do you care about the life of the (alleged) rape victim? Because without a doubt, her life also changed when he died. And I would dare say, whether he did rape her or not. But even if we leave her side of things out of this perspective and simply focus on his, how dare yall insist on everything but this part of his legacy be told? To deny the existence of this elephant in the room is to expose your uncertainty as to the man you all say he has become since 2004. You cannot call him “hero” and yet want to bury the skeletons in his closet. That is not what a hero is. A hero is someone who has achieved, someone who has overcome life’s mistakes and their own to become someone who can, in some eyes, exemplify characteristics that can be held up to scrutiny… and pass.

Bryant has left quite the legacy. He was undoubtedly an incredible sportsman, a philanthropist and seemingly a loving father. It has been reported he has not always been a faithful, respectful and loving husband, but perhaps, he eventually did get that right enough for his wife. Who knows? And quite frankly, who cares? The truth is that too is part of his legacy. It should not be left out. His death does not sanitize any of what he did while living. So, if we are to remember all his accomplishments and bestow unlimited accolades, we owe it to the truth to also remember and acknowledge his foibles.

I distinctly remember the very first blog post I did… I thanked my abuser. Yes. Here’s why. If I am to be grateful – and I am – for where I am in this moment in my life, to be proud of myself and am able to acknowledge this is the best moments in my life and be beyond ecstatic I am here for it, I must also acknowledge the part he played in it. I must thank him. Not for hurting, humiliating or terrorizing me. Never that. But for happening to me. You see, it is simply this… without that experience I would have been a very different version of myself today and, I am quite tickled by and grateful for this one So, my story must include that experience. Not to glorify him, but simply to acknowledge the footsteps in getting here.

People, it is okay to allow Bryant’s missteps into the narrative. Perhaps without it he would not have become the version of the man you so claim to admire. Love.

Love Letter From A Mother:

As a mother, what happened yesterday splintered my soul. It truly truly is a parent’s worst nightmare.

I wanted to acknowledge what I imagine Mrs. Bryant’s devastation to be. I hope to honor her:

__________________________________________

My Darling Daughter:

This is a letter I never thought I would ever be called to write. A mother is never supposed to have to say goodbye to her child. Especially one so young. Yet, here I am, writing to you to say goodbye.

How do I begin? Where? Do I start at the end of thirteen or at the beginning of one? If I start at thirteen… words fail me. If I start at one knowing now that it ends at thirteen… words fail me. So, let me start in the middle. Yes, maybe I could piece together my soul if I started in the middle.

You topped me up and overflowed me. You did. Who you became exceeded everything I thought you would be. You surprised me. Not because I didn’t think you were capable. But because you knew you were capable. So did your daddy. He didn’t have to use words to express the magic he knew you were, when he looked at you we knew. I pray you knew.

Arrogantly, I imagined having a lifetime with you. In secret parts of me I planned a very sweet sixteen, graduations, a career and a wedding. I got my arms ready to hold you after your first heartache. Never, ever did I plan on readying my soul for my own. Never could I have imagined that all my dreams for you could turn into my worst nightmare of you.

My darling, as my soul continues to shatter, what brings me some comfort is knowing that in those final moments of this beautiful but too short life you have lived, your daddy held you. That he held you as tightly as he did the moment you came into his world. Being sure of that is all I have left. I know you were scared. I know. As I know your dad, friends and everyone with you yesterday was. I know. I know because darling, your mommy is scared too. I am scared of life without you and daddy. Scared for your sisters. Scared because our light as a family has been so dimmed.

Do me a favor, okay baby? Tell daddy we will be okay. Eventually. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not for many tomorrows. But, eventually. Tell him he showed me well how to love and take care of all his girls and I will never let him down. Just ask him to be patient with me until I find my way back from this pain. But tell him I will. I promise. I will. Right now though, mommy is shattered. Do me another favor, Gigi. Ask daddy to give you a million hugs for me… all the ones I thought I had time to give you myself. I am sorry you didn’t get them all. But, they’re yours.

Baby, you and daddy travel well to your final resting place. Pick a spot that you both like and rest. I have now commuted all my other wishes for you to this one… rest. Hold daddy’s hand, okay? I know he feels guilty for all of it. Whenever he needs it most, let him know it was not his fault. Let him know the only thing he is guilty of is loving us well. Tell him.

My darling daughter, thank you for the time you spent with us. Your sisters love you. We will see you again. Until then…

I love you. You filled my soul.

Mommy.

How A Red-Headed Kid From London Instituted A New Meaning To The Acronym, HRH

Like many of you, I am sure, I have been sitting and watching the unfolding of the bits and pieces that constitute Harry and Meghan’s past/current lives and their future one. I have not been quiet. Nope. I have had much to say about how I feel and more importantly, how I feel they are being regarded, judged and vilified. I have grumbled, cursed and called everyone – yes, people I do not know and will never meet – all sorts of names because of what I feel they have already done and are continuing to do to them. So, as you already have a gist as to my opinion, let’s just go ahead and address this…

They, Harry and Meghan/Harry and his wife/Meghan and her husband/Archie’s parents, are absolutely within their right to and in some regard have an obligation to make this decision. And, any of you who think otherwise, stop being hypocritical! Yes. I called you hypocritical! “Why” you ask? Let me tell you… A great number of us tuned into their wedding ceremony two years ago. Shit! We tuned into them from the moment their relationship became public. Many of us had a lot to say about his adorable red-headed self picking this black woman. Many of us cheered him on for his coolness and bravery. Many of us cheered her on for seemingly “choosing well,” giving divorcees hope and even some of us for showing black girls everywhere that there can be brown-skinned real life princesses. So, we watched.

We talked about how we “always knew that Harry was different/cool/a renegade” and giggled about how “whipped” he must be after getting some black ass! Some of us even giving him the “side-eye” with the “he better marry her!” face! He did. We watched. We commented on her dress, hair, freckles and mama. He scrutinized his face for his/its trademark emotional transparency. We talked about his wearing of a wedding ring and “ohhhhhhhh’d” at the validation of Prince Charles walking her down the aisle. We monitored the arrival of the guests, documenting this and that celebrity. We sang with the choir and applauded their doing things their way.

So, guess what? They still are.

This couple, Harry and Meghan have insisted from the very beginning that we recognize and respect those touches, big or small, that signaled their insistence on being true to their relationship. We may only now realize that what we had always been allowed glimpses of were moments of their desire to be normal, not traditional. Their relinquishing of their titles should now express to us what our good-natured giggling may have potentially made us miss in the beginning… Meghan and Harry’s desire to have and conduct a relationship steeped in the same shit we infuse in ours. A desire and a right to have a relationship where they put each other first (not a country), are able to employ the same set of compromises you and I have when deciding where to live, where to work, who stays home with the baby and the ability to recognize what is not in our best interest… and do something about it! Because folks, that is what they did. That is all they did. They made couple decisions. They made married-people decisions. They made family-first decisions. They made grown folks decisions. And, just like it is for you and me, whether she “started” it or he, it is none of our fucking business! Remember, married folk! I wish someone would tell me I cannot influence a decision, major or small, in my home! Try. I dare you! How do we get to insist our men/partners stand up for/defend us to their parents, public and friends and wage all hell if they don’t but condemn her because he seems to be doing the same? Why does she, why do they deserve any less from and for each other than we insist on for ourselves?

Listen. Yes. They also have royalty considerations. I am in no way callously disregarding that reality. What I am doing however, is granting them the ability (and my humble and resounding approval) to make married-people decisions… then do exactly what they did, exactly what we all do, massage the rest into place.

So, they stripped them of their title, HRH. As for me, it is even more applicable now, cause, well, HeRespectsHer.

Let’s Talk Shoppe:

Recently, a friend (lovingly) got in my face about not having blogged in quite a while. I was two things, ashamed at my lack of attention in this area and tickled pink that I have been missed. I promised to address and correct my behavior, so, let’s address this…

On December 14th I officially opened my specialty dress shoppe, Dressed Up. Many of you know I have been working on this venture since January 2019 and, throughout the process I have learned so very many things… about real estate, financial fitness, government and myself. I have cursed and carried on and I have remained resolute in my determination and refused to take anyone’s “no” as an answer. I have challenged the systems that have (seemingly) been put in place to discourage minorities (I HATE that word!) from advancing past where “they” think we belong. I have stood in people’s faces and forced them to see and speak to me instead of hiding behind emails and telephones. I laid claim to my intention and did not move. I made/make sacrifices that make my social media feed look so very much less exciting than yours. My social life occurs within four walls and my besties are five bald-headed mannequins.

But, I am now the very proud owner of a dress shoppe

This post is about this morning with a subtext of the past few (read, 90+) mornings as well. Some of you may know the ins-and-outs of opening a business either through personal achievement and experience or education. Here’s what I had to learn quickly: my shoppe is new construction. At pre-determined phases throughout the construction process, city/state inspections are necessary – fire, electrical, sprinkler system, building, etc etc. Upon completion, there is a final building inspection and if approved you then move on to obtaining your Certificate of Occupancy or Approval. I will not bore you all with sordid details, but suffice it to say, a process that should have taken three to five business days from final inspection stretched on for weeks. After showing up in City Hall myself I was given my CofO. Once given that I was only then able to schedule a Fire Inspection to get my fire permit. Did that. Got that. Got my waste permit. And my zoning approval. Payroll filing as well. Check. I submitted all my bits and pieces onto the NJ Portal, paid my $250 fee for my business license and was told “it could take a few days, one week or one month.” You may have surmised by now this is not a version that will end with either of the first two options, right?

In early December I hung all the permits I had and also posted the receipt for the business license application. I opened the doors on December 14th. Then, I waited. Every few days I would check the portal and/or call… nothing. Today, more than a month later I head to City Hall. I enquired. A very nice gentleman printed my license and took it to the woman in charge of signing it (oh yes… ALL it needed was her signature!). He brought it to me and I was absolutely elated! Finally! Yay me for showing up and handling my business! Yes, I was feeling all kindsa proud of myself and empowered until he said, “Young lady, keep an eye on your calendar, okay, as your license expires in March.” What?!?!? Yes folks, the City of Newark thinks it is okay to, no matter when you are issued your license, make all expirations at the same time. So, I have just paid $250 for a license that is valid from today, January 16th, 2020 to March 31st, 2020! What the absolute fuck?!?!?

So yes, I am back writing alright, because my next piece will be addressed to Mayor Ras Baraka! You see, he speaks often about wanting small businesses and black-owned businesses in downtown Newark, yet THIS is what he rolls out as our welcome mat! Nope. Most certainly not good enough! Will update you all after my next trip to City Hall.

I’ve missed you…

“911. What Is Your Emergency?”

Eighteen years.

I truly cannot believe it has been eighteen years since that fateful day. Since that dreadful day when thousands of lives (two thousand, nine hundred and eighty-three to be exact) were lost. Over hate. Over envy. Over ignorance. Over racism. And since then, we have evolved into a nation that no longer “depends” on the hatred of enemies out there, but sadly has given ourselves permission to unleash unthinkable terror onto each other. Apparently we were so affected and appalled that on that fateful day eighteen years ago that strangers – people who did not look like us and who claimed to believe in a God that sanctioned their actions – dared to infiltrate our peace and devastate our lives, that we opted to instead raise, cultivate and motivate terrorists with more familiar faces. And, we put their leader in the White House.

I remember where I was eighteen years ago. When our lives changed. I remember the fear I felt. I remember the grief I felt and the sadness I still do. I remember those I knew, lost and miss. I remember how my soul changed forever. Because there is no way one can live through the loss of so many others and not change. Fear hides in the recesses of my skin and each time, every time I walk through Penn or Grand Central stations I wonder, okay, I worry if a foreign or familiar asshole will be deciding at that precise moment that I must die. But, I walk on. Holding my fear close. Looking brave.

We will never forget. Of that I am certain. Whether what we remember are the lives lost or our lingering fear, or both, matters little. We will never forget. Them. Or the us we used to be…

September 11th, 2001 – September 11th, 2019.

Line Item

It is said, “There’s a thin line between love and hate” and, as much as I openly and actively reject quotes and sayings that are so over and callously used they begin to lose their impact and integrity, I have been chewing on this particular one over the past couple of weeks. Let’s address this

Have you ever in your spare time wondered, if that line is truly so thin that all it takes is a determined breeze to tip one over, whether the original emotion was truly love or the ensuing emotion truly hate? Is it possible instead that if what one walks away feeling is hate that hate/envy/jealousy was always a part of the original emotion or that, perhaps in our attempt to salvage face at the end of a thing we disguise our lingering love in an emotion that is more acceptable or suitable to the outcome? Am I overthinking it? Is that line truly that thin?

Here’s where I land on this subject because as you may imagine, being a woman who is dedicated to living all her emotions passionately, I must have experienced both these sentiments. I don’t think we tip over the line. And in fact, I do not even think there is a line. I believe we journey along in our experiences and emotions and along the way, we begin to set up or we begin to be set up for an eventual outcome. I think it is deliberate – even as it may be unconscious – and I believe that that thing we do in hindsight when we look back and are able to pinpoint behaviors we should not have overlooked, is the beginning of the change between the four-letter words.

Listen. Love is an emotion that should be eventual. Oftentimes however, it is one we rush. To it we ascribe what should remain as a hook-up, a “thing” or a fuck. Often, in our effort to conform to some ignorant societal standard, we rush a process and set in motion a stroll to that other emotion… hate. Okay. And yes, there are those times when we do it all “correctly” – we take our time, settle into the process, allow for the “best behavior” to wear off and our true selves to emerge, realize we still like each other and keep going. We stroll, not run and we get there. We love. Shit! We even like! And, we end up at the same place as those other folks who try to turn a “jump-off” into a, well, you know We hate.

Here is where I want to get to and leave this topic and let me state this: hate is not relegated to lover-ships only. No sir. Hate happens in friendships, employer-employee relationships, familial relationships. Listen, anything that has a ‘ship’ in it can foster either warm gooey feelings or intense feelings of hatred. But, my feeling is, it is not sudden. Hate is the end-result of experiences and behaviors that had been happening and possibly ignored. It is born out of envy, fear, jealousy, inadequacy and unrealistic expectation. It is a systematic assault. It is passionate. So passionate in fact, it can often wear the disguise of love. Hate is place that is littered with the wreckage of disrespect, disillusionment, envy and betrayal. It is also littered with our shame at our own foolishness… actualized inward but projected outward.

Perhaps that line is really between love and oneself.

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