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Nappily Ever After

It’s finally here! The movie that I waited on for a full year. I’ve watched it twice. Was it that good?  Hmmm…I think watched it more than once to make sure that I was watching it with a critical eye rather than as a fan. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the movie, but I wanted to make sure why I enjoyed it, and I wanted to make sure that I gave the film a fair chance.

When they announced last year that they were turning Nappily Ever After by Trisha R. Thomas into a film starring Sanaa Lathan, I decided then to read the book. I remember when it came out amid the contemporary African-American Literary Renaissance phase in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. You know, the boom that brought us authors like Terry McMillan, Omar Tyree, and Eric Jerome Dickey. I remember being resistant to reading the book because the natural hair movement was just getting started and I was firmly #teamrelaxer. I wasn’t even open to giving the book a chance. Not back then. But almost 20 years later, and having endured my own big chop, I said, “Why not?” I knew I would support the movie because Sanaa Lathan is my friend in my head (I have a lot of those including Oprah)and I had to support my girl! So I started reading the book last November, and well…tt wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t hate it. I guess I don’t know what I expected, but I was underwhelmed. No shade to the author. Some books we love, some books we don’t.

I was still excited about the movie the though, so on when it dropped on Netflix I was ready. After two views and a bag of popcorn, I would say that Nappily Ever After was quite a treat. Sanaa plays Violet, a woman who believes that in order to marry the perfect man she has to be perfect in every way including long, straight hair. Violet goes to great lengths to maintain this perfection including having her mother come to her home at four in the morning to flat-iron her hair before her boyfriend wakes up (idiot). The movie, and the book, look at Violet’s journey in releasing perfectionism and owning and loving her natural God-given beauty. It’s about recognizing what type of woman you are and being confident in yourself.

Now that is the gist of the movie without giving away too many details. I think every woman should watch it. It is romantic, and funny, and dramatic, and sad in every place it should be. The movie is filled with A-list actors like Sanaa, Ernie Hudson, and Lynn Whitfield. But to me, the star of the show is the young lady who plays Zoe. Daria Johns brings Zoe to life. She is the daughter of Violet’s potential suitor, Will. Zoe’s mother is absent from her life and Will is raising her alone. Violet meets Zoe in the hair salon and makes some really mean comments on her poor behavior, attire, and hair. Zoe overhears her and you can clearly see the hurt on her face. 

Daria Johns

Even though Zoe manages to issue her own dose of revenge to Violet, they eventually manage to form a relationship with Violet giving Zoe the mother figure that she has been longing for. Zoe in turn gives Violet wisdom on being herself. She helps Violet to see that happiness is not being perfect, but in being proud and confident in who you are as a person. Miss Johns is perfectly cast! If I watch the movie a 3rd time it will because of her. She was refreshing to watch. She gave an honest portrayal of a girl who is confident yet simultaneously seeking validation. I just kept thinking, “I wish she could be my daughter!” Maybe I’m getting sentimental in my old age.

Zoe’s initial interaction with Violet, and the movie overall, also brought back childhood memories of my own hair journey. Some comical. Some painful. Sitting at the knee of my mother getting my ears burned with the hot comb ( I still have a scar on my arm from getting burned). Getting my hair permed in the 1st grade because my sisters felt like that would be better than the hot comb. My hair falling out from the perm. Getting a Jheri curl. Getting my hair cut off. Being called Florida Evans by my uncles. A “friend” telling me that my hair looked like rats had been sucking on it. Trying to sleep straight without messing up my hair. Making love and worrying that your boyfriend will ruin the $80 you just spent at the hair salon. It. Has. Been. A journey! So when Violet insults Zoe, I felt the sting in my chest as if she were speaking directly to me. And I grieved. I grieved for the brave girl who died a little inside when someone attacks her because of her hair, her looks, her body. It hurt. And that is the beauty of this film, that every woman will feel compassion and empathy because we can all relate to the Zoe’s and Violets that live inside of us.  

I’m not a reviewer, of books or movies. But, I do love stories that I can relate to especially those that speak to my experiences as a black woman. Nappily Ever After the movie ( I want to make that clear because again, the book just didn’t do it for me) does just that. It speaks to my hair journey, my body journey, my work journey, my love journey, the journey with my family . It speaks to the journey of waking up and figuring out that I’m ok, just as I am. I am still not fond, of my “natural” hair. Yet, I can’t imagine ever going back to a relaxer, and weaves just aren’t my thing. I think movies and stories like these, more than anything, reinforce that no matter wherewe are on our journey, we are perfect just they way we are. 

Read the book. Watch the movie. Tell me what you think.

P.S. There were a couple of scenes that I found to be awkward and unrealistic. The scene where Violet shaves her head (awkward). The scene where Will rubs scalp on Violet’s head (awkward and unrealistic). Why? BFF was just doing to much for me (insert eye roll). But, pay me no attention, that’s the cynic in me! ENJOY!

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But y’all mad at Molly

The season finale of Insecure has come and gone and I am already having withdrawals. As I pine for the next season, I can’t help but return to the “situationship” between Molly and Dro. Specifically, I am really amused at how people reacted to Molly’s response that Dro and his wife were expecting a baby. Although, Molly seems to have moved on with Andrew I thought I would try to take stab at explaining Molly’s emotional reaction to a guy that she knew was unavailable to her emotionally. 

If you are a fan of the show, you should know by now that Molly sees Dro  at Tiffany’s baby shower where she soon discovers that he and his wife are expecting a baby as well. Camera pan to Molly’s face and you can tell that she feels some type of way. She’s mad. Or, maybe she’s hurt. Or, maybe she’s thinking, “I knew better.” And that’s the reaction most people have. “Why is she mad? She knew what she was getting. Dro gave her the game from the beginning!”

Facts. But, let’s take a look at this dynamic a little further.

Personally, I am not shocked at Molly’s reaction. Nor am I shocked that earlier at the baby shower, and in a previous episode, Dro is pissed because Molly has decided to set boundaries with him. He is clearly angry. What I am truly shocked about is the judgement and condemnation that Molly is getting for developing feelings for her friend. Her lifelong, childhood friend. He is THE HOMIE. Judgement from show fans, men and women, and characters. In a later episode, Andrew snidely remarks, “So you mean a married man lead you on?” He playin’…but he ain’t playin’. My knee jerk reaction. Yes. He. Did! Like it happens. It’s a thing. Here’s why…

Let’s remember, even though Dro is married he approached Molly with the whole, “I’ve had a thing for since day one,” and the “my wife and I are in an open relationship” scenario. True, we all felt that Dro was lying, but Molly had no proof that he wasn’t telling the truth. So what did she do, she chose to trust her friend and decided, “Screw it. I’ma get me some too.” Not the smartest decision, but it is not illegal; and if Dro and Candace are really in an open marriage, there is nothing unethical about it. People do it. Most people I know don’t.  But hey, who am I to judge if they do?

So really, why are we mad at Molly? Dro is the one who initiated the relationship. Even though Molly knew the game, that doesn’t remove his culpability in starting a relationship with the potential to hurt his friend. The argument is consistently, “She should have known better.” I don’t necessarily disagree with that sentiment. Even when they started, I absolutly yelled at the TV, “NAW GIRL! DON”T DO IT!!!” Because I knew how things would end. Yes, Molly should have known better, but shouldn’t Dro have known better too? Shouldn’t he exercise as much judgment as Molly in deciding not to enter a relationship that is doomed from the start? If not more. He is the one that is married. 

Then when Molly decided to set some boundaries, Dro acts a damn fool. If you have never been in a “situationship” then let me explain. In order for you to protect your feelings, it is imperative that boundaries are set. You can’t behave like dude is boo or bae because when things go wrong, as they surely will, the potential for heartbreak is too great. Consequently, you have to set up some rules: 1.) Don’t call me all the time, unless we are smashing 2.) Call me before you come over 3.) I decide if you come over 4.) We aren’t dating we are just f____ …well you get my drift. Sounds harsh right? It is. It has to be. Why because dudes want you how and when they want you.  At least dudes like Dro. Men with integrity don’t do this because they don’t engage in this foolishness! Men like Dro want modern day concubines. They want to control the situation. They want to be able to do whatever, whenever, however they want. That works for them. But, not you. And not for Molly. Molly was simply keeping the lines clear. We are no longer friends. We smash! That’s it. And for men like Dro, it’s gravy when they say it, but they don’t quite like it when it’s the woman controlling the game. Ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun. 

So the issue is not just about her being hurt, or angry, or regretful. The issue is about control. Dro is no longer in control and no longer free do what he wants to, and with, Molly. So what happens? He has a temper tantrum. 

Now think, she’s hurt now; how much more would she have been hurt had she not pushed the pause button? Can we say devastated? 

And why are we so hard on women? Why isn’t that same ire directed at the person who started all of this. The man with a whole wife, and now a baby. The manipulating, control freak who is willing to ruin a lifelong friendship just to get some cookie?

Maybe some of the mistakes we make as women would be less devastating if we held men just as accountable for their poor choices as we do women. But we don’t. We gone let Dro and his light-skinned, 3B curly-haired self slide. Why because it’s easier to judge the Mollys than it is blame the Dro’s. 

My best friend  Michelle…Michelle Obama (she’s my friend in my head) said so beautifully, “We love our boys and we raise our girls. We raise them to be strong, and sometimes we take care not to hurt men. And I think we pay for that a little bit. It is powerful to have strong men but what does that strength mean? Does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion? Or are we protecting our men too much so that they feel a little entitled and a little, you know, self-righteous sometimes?” Isn’t Dro feeling a bit entitled to something that doesn’t belong to him? Molly’s right to set boundaries is her right and her’s alone. 

Here’s the point: Molly fell hard for her FRIEND. She was already emotionally invested. Having sex with him just deepened that connection. Dro, on the other, used their friendship to get what he wanted. In the words of my friend Cato, “Men aren’t friends with women they wouldn’t have sex with.” I don’t know if that’s true…as a matter of fact, I pray that it is NOT! Dro, however, certainly makes a case for it.

I’m not necessarily #teamMolly, but I certainly don’t judge her, and unless you have been in a situation like that, I suggest you don’t either. I don’t even judge Dro. Why? Because he is doing what the women in his life allow him to.

All I am saying is that if you are going to be mad at Molly, then you had better be blaming Dro. 

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black women dating friendships relationships Uncategorized women

Some Girls Be Like…😒

As I sit here, half-past 10 PM, eating a sandwich and chips and listening to J. Sullivan, I recall the first time I knew that he liked me. My friend of eight years, who was about to get married in six months sent me a message on Facebook. I had just signed up, browsing the page on my day off. He hit me up in a chat saying, “I’ve always had a crush on you.” I panicked; I was scared, excited, and…angry. Why would he tell me now when nothing could be done, could be pursued? I didn’t remember what he said next, just some flirting back and forth. I should have ended the conversation, but something about the forbidden excited me. We were cool acquaintances before, but now, it seemed like more. It felt like we were connected, even though I knew we couldn’t be.

I don’t think most people start out having affairs with one decision; I think most indiscretions start out innocently. Something small happens, small but inappropriate, and then, gradually, it progresses into something more. At least, that was the case for me; first, we were chatting, then texting. I remember clearly how we “linked up,” as he liked to call it, for the first time.

I had to chaperone a football game, and afterward, I had dinner with a co-worker. However, I was distracted because he had been texting me throughout the game. I told myself that he was keeping me company, keeping my mind off of the fact that I didn’t want to be at work on a Friday night with a bunch of disrespectful, bad-attitude-having-ass, high schoolers. As I sat at dinner, the conversations continued. The frivolity of it all, in hindsight, is so absurd, but in the moment, it was…everything, romantic, fun, and intriguing. Most of all, it was seductive.  I remember telling him about my favorite singer, Jill Scott, and my favorite song at the time, “Come See Me.” He responded, “I want you.” I grew warm inside. My heart and my head were all over the place, and I needed to understand what we were doing. Why was he saying these things now? What did all of this mean? Was he not going to get married? I’m not booty call material; I’m an all-or-nothing type chick. I sent him a message around midnight when I was leaving dinner: “We need to talk.” We were only going to talk, I rationalized. He responded, “I’m on my way.”

It was one in the morning when he arrived. In my mind, it made sense because I was strong and in charge. He walked in, looking and smelling good. We sat on the couch. “What’s up?” he asked. “The question is what’s up with you?” I needed to understand where all of this attention was coming from six months before he was to be married. His answer didn’t even matter. The real question was, what made me decide to play with fire? To entertain the foolish thought that this was nothing more than a conversation. To meet inappropriately after midnight with a man who was clearly unavailable.

I thought I was strong, and in the beginning, I was. I said emphatically, “This can’t happen. I will look like the other woman who stole somebody’s man. Nothing will happen to you. And, in the end, we will not be able to be friends again.”

He chuckled, “I have more to lose than you think, and we will always be friends.”

“If you have so much to lose, why are you getting married?”

With a slight shrug of the shoulders and the smirk that made my heart melt, “It’s just time.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. We had been talking for at least two hours. I don’t know how we ended up in bed together, but there he was holding me, but not touching me at the same time. I was still trying to convince myself that nothing was going to happen between us if I could just get through the night. He didn’t try anything; he just held me. He didn’t kiss me or caress me. The only thing he did was pull me closer to him when I tried to move away. He pulled me close, like I belonged to him, like he had claimed me. His breath on the back of my neck and his heart beating against my chest felt good. It was satisfying just to be claimed, and I was starting to believe the lie. Maybe he will change his mind, maybe he won’t do it. “Just be patient,” I told myself. I should have understood that I wasn’t being claimed. I was just a warm, breathing body next to a man with his eyes closed, eyes closed to the fact that he wasn’t ready to be married, and he was using me as a distraction.  If I had allowed myself to accept that realization, I would have saved myself some heartache.

He didn’t change his mind, about her or me. I kept saying no, but he kept calling and texting, and we kept having our visits. He continued keeping me company on my late nights at work. I’m not sure when I started to become that chick, that crazy chick. That chick that rationalizes her bad behavior, the one who is happy one minute and crying the next. I think I knew in the end I would be left out, but I couldn’t pull back. It wasn’t so much that he had a hold over me; it was more than that. This was all about me. I needed to see what would happen, what could be, or what should be because in my heart I knew…he was the one for me. But he knew differently. He liked the idea of me but not the reality of me. I required too much, and I was his choice and his consequence all at the same time. His decision to see me, to love me, to care for me, meant that he needed to face the reality of who he was. He was a cheater. An adulterer. But in his mind, “I’m not married yet,” made a difference. To me, it didn’t, but I climbed down that rabbit hole anyway because one night over hot dogs and tater tots, he kissed me. He kissed me long, deep, and strong, and that kiss held a promise that one day he might love me.

He never did. I don’t hate him though. We shared a lot, an intimacy that I had never experienced before. In my mind, no one knew, but on the real, everyone did. We were connected. When we were in the same room, the energy changed. He was too attentive to me, and I tried too hard to ignore him. Looking back, I’m sure it was obvious to everyone but us.

I learned a lot, too, like what strength really means. It means picking yourself up when you are devastated, and you have no one to blame except yourself. It means smiling when tears are all you have. It means recognizing how scared you are of being alone and that you are willing to be second in someone’s life. I was desperate for love and craving attention. I was willing to sacrifice my integrity and lower my expectations for fear that I might miss out on knowing what it means to feel loved. I was willing to accept videos and hot wings so we didn’t have to go out, and secret meet-ups at Alvin Ailey because it seemed romantic and illicit and because I thought he loved me but was afraid to call it off.

Strength is accepting responsibility for your part in the destruction of a relationship. It is understanding that walking away when you know something is wrong is the only answer. It is writing this piece with the understanding that he might read it and know that it is about him, but not caring because you know it is time to release whatever guilt you are holding on to. It means letting go and moving on even when standing alone. There’s an old adage that says, “The best way to get over a man is under a new one.” I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it. Yet, I knew that would only make things worse. Make me worse. I needed to heal. I wanted peace. I wanted to stand tall on my own. It took a while. More tears. Some alcohol. Some “come-to-Jesus” sessions with my girls and a few ratchet dates. But, here I am.  Strength is learning never to say never. I had never been the side chick. But there I was. I will never do it again, even if it means being alone. I’m worth more than that.

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Forty-Year-Old F*ck Boys

Let me say this right now, if you are a super-sanctified saint and you don’t like cussing – stop, do not pass go; this is not the post for you. I’ll try to keep it PG-13, but I make no guarantees. God is working on me; however, I just need to get this off of my chest just like I feel it. This is mostly for my homegirls who have been married or in a relationship for ten or more years, and they keep asking me and a plethora or my single girlfriends, “Why aren’t you married yet?” I used to give credence to the theory that was postulated to me that I am too mean, too unapproachable, too strong, too independent, and too stuck in my ways. Oh, and I forgot about, “You ain’t got no man because you can’t cook.” Yeah, I believed all of that bullshit for years, and I tried with all of my might to conform, to change, so that I, too, could be counted among those who were lucky enough to land the big catch and get married. Alas, after softening my approach, after smiling a little bit more to let my guard down, after expanding my circles to meet more people, after shooting my shot on Tinder and Match, and after trying my hand at a meal or two, here I am, still single. 

How is this possible? And it’s not just me. I have about fifty other friends just like me: single, educated, professional, no kids – or if they have kids, they have been THE sole parent and have some raised pretty awesome kids without too much help from the non-custodial parent with no baby mama drama. They are homeowners who are civic-minded with pretty decent credit. Meh…me not so much in this area; budgeting is not my ministry, but I owe no man nothing. I’ve been perplexed about this issue for a minute and decided to do some serious research which consisted of talking to my friends. Here is what I gathered from my intel, we, my other gal pals and I, are not the problem! The problem is, and has always been, forty-year-old f*ck boys. Yes, I said it. Ninjas who are still out here playing games well into their forties and fifties. You would think that dating at this age would be simple, but it’s not. At almost a half-century, why am I still encountering the same shit I used to deal with in my twenties? What’s a f*ck boy, you ask? Why do you call them that? When you are a grown man and you are still playing childish games in order to get the goodies, you are a f*ckboy. When you are grown man, but you don’t know how to take responsibility for your actions, you are a f*ckboy. They are real; they exist. Sis, if you are suspicious and wondering if your man is a f*ckboy, then he probably is. But just to be certain, here’s a list of things f*ckboys might do so you will recognize one when he shows up. Or, if you think you might be a f*ckboy, but just aren’t sure, here’s how you know:

•Sliding through someone’s DM’s and you have a whole girlfriend or wife.•Planning a date but not confirming or canceling because, “Oh my bad. I fell asleep.” Could it be that your girlfriend, significant other, or wife, actually came home and said that she had something planned?

•Being too afraid to shoot your shot because, oh God, she might turn you   down. Ninja, she said no. It’s ok. Move on and ask the next girl for a date. But she just might say yes…if you ask her.

• Lying…of any sort. Flat out lying, lying by omission meaning leaving out significant portions of the truth, embellishing the truth, little white lies…they are all lies!• Breaking up with folks before holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or other significant events• Being behind on any amount of your child support.

• Bragging about not paying child support.

• Not being willing to give anything a label. Am I your girlfriend, boo, wifey?  What? Ninja, you are too old for a situationship. And why the hell doesn’t anyone know who I am to you, huh? The devil is a lie!

• Trying to DM me all the time.

• Trying to text me all the time. If you want to get to know me, call me. Take me out on a date.• Flirting with your co-workers, when you know you have a wife.

• Living with your wife, while you take your girlfriend out on dates. AND, getting mad when your girlfriend gets another man!• Having a whole baby on your wife AND your girlfriend!

• You’re sexually attracted to men but pretend that you like women when you really don’t. If your sexuality is fluid or if you are bisexual, be upfront about that. Give a sister the option to choose. If she doesn’t choose you, that’s ok, too. I promise you there is a woman, or man, out there who will be ok with your sexuality. What’s not ok is being on the down low. F*ck boys live on the DL.

•Living with your mama if she is not in need to constant care because of an illness or old age. Taking her out and posting about it like it’s a date. #creepy

•Not joining the singles ministry because there aren’t enough single women in  it, or not joining because you have dated the majority of the women in the ministry. I’m sorry, I thought this was supposed to be about Jesus.

• Asking a woman when is she going to cook for you, but you’re not willing to take her car to be serviced, cut her yard, or fix her fence.

• Posting pictures of yourself on social media ALL! THE! TIME! Especially if you are halfway fit and have a six pack. The pic with the shirt showing your shaved treasure trail. The pic of you and your sock game. The pic of you and your beard game. Not cool. #thirsty

• Sending random d*ck pics. No, just no!

I could go on, but I’m tired. I’m tired of people asking me why I don’t have a man. I’m tired of people assuming I’m/we’re the problem. I’m tired of people assuming that because I’m alone, I’m lonely. I’m not. I’m tired of married folks walking around and acting like they are holding hands, kissing, and eating cupcakes every day. I’m sick of seeing the #mcm’s and #wcw’s every day, then two weeks later wifey done changed her name on Facebook because she caught hubby with her best friend, and now they are headed to divorce court. Y’all out here “Facebook Frontin’”, and we all know the truth anyway. I’m not saying marriage is horrible; it’s not.

I believe marriage and relationships are great, but they are complex and take a lot of work. You have to nurture them, and you have to compromise. AND COMMIT! When done correctly, I am sure they are amazing, but some of y’all are out here lying. You’re pretending that you’re living the easy life, and the rest of us are looking to have the same thing because we have #relationshipgoals but don’t fully understand what it takes because you aren’t being truthful. So, we fall for f*ckboys because we think somebody, anybody, is better than nobody. I’m here to tell you that IT’S NOT.

If you’re a f*ckboy, I have one thing to say to you: GROW THE F*CK UP. ~Peace.

P.S. If you think I’m talking about you specifically, I’m not. That’s probably the Holy Spirit telling you that you’re a f*ckboy and you need to grow up. Well, the Holy Spirit doesn’t cuss, so that’s just me, but He IS telling you to grow up. Jeesh!

P.P.S. To all the women out there putting up with f*ckboy shit, stop it! Stop it right now, I say! You’re making it hard out here for women with standards and expectations. Why does he have to grow up when you allow him to be mediocre with you? Ugh!

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black women Mother's Day motherhood parents Uncategorized

She Get It From Her Mama!

I’ve been thinking of writing this post for at least a couple of months. I wanted it to be really sensitive and thoughtful. Something people would read and say, “Oh my God! How profound, and what a wonderful mother she has.” But as I sit here on Mother’s Day morning still pondering what I should say about my mama, I realize that’s just not who she is, or who I am for that matter. My mother is the atypical mom. She’s not very sensitive. She ‘s not affectionate, and she doesn’t like attention. She’s the truest form of introvert, a homebody that loves MSNBC, crossword and jigsaw puzzles, and if you buy her $20 in scratch-offs you are G.O.A.T! Add a nice, hot cup of coffee to that, and she’s good! She doesn’t need to talk on the phone everyday, not even to her children. She just needs to know that one of us has spoken to the other, so that she will know we are alright. That pretty much sums her up! So writing something about her that’s super sappy and saccharine would be disingenuous. Not my cup of tea.

Don’t get me wrong, my mother doesn’t lack personality. She’s funny (Lord, please don’t let her talk about 45)! She’s passionate (Have you seen me watch a football game? I get that from her). She’s intelligent (She will debate anybody, and she watches National Geographic like it’s the soaps). She’s talented (Ticks off fingers-sewing, drawing, singing…need I say more). She’s confident (Never, EVER walks with her head down! And, she hates to see people who do). She’s protective (She walked me to the bus stop until I was a 17-year-old senior in high school! Even then she knew that sexual predators where real)!

More than anything my mother wanted the best for us. She worked two jobs sometimes to make sure that we had everything we needed and sometimes the things that we wanted. My sisters went to summer camp, took piano lessons, and enrolled in gymnastics classes. I, for one, never saw a book fair that I didn’t attend or a field trip that I didn’t go on! By the time I graduated high school, I had been to San Antonio, California, Washington, D.C., and the Bahamas. I think that is pretty dope for a kid who is quite aware that many people judge her based on the neighborhood she grew up in.  I think my mother knew that. She felt it. But instead of allowing that type of judgment to stop her, she dreamed of a better world for us, and she did her best to give us the tools to help us succeed.

However, she’s no superwoman! Her village was strong. While my mother worked, my grandmother was on duty, and ruled with a firm hand! The 1.) Be-in-the-house-before-the-street-lights-are-on, 2.) You-can’t-go-over-to-their-house -and-play-unless-I-know-them, and 3.) The church-all-day-on-Sunday-with-stockings-and-a-slip type of FIRM! My uncles, Billy, James, Buck, and sometimes Marvin were our babysitters and sometimes our lunch money givers. My mother had a crew, a small crew, of friends that knew her kids and helped to keep a close watch on all of us. And if they said you did it, you did it! (Except that one time my friends and I threw mud on Miss Nosey’s house…long story for another post).

Today, Mother’s Day, I’m reminded and encouraged by the fact that my mom is different. Today, I know that I won’t give her a hug or kiss because she doesn’t like that. I won’t share these super sensitive heartfelt moments with her because she isn’t like that. But, we will spend time together. We will watch tv. We will share a meal. We will laugh. We will talk about 45 and cringe together. We will gossip a little (she only gossips about her kids…CRAZY)! And to me that’s cool. Because that’s who we are; that’s who she is. You see, my mother taught me to be yourself no matter what anybody thinks. She taught me to be proud of where I came from. She taught me to be honest and giving because that is who she is. She didn’t use a lot words; she showed me by how she lived her life. And because of that, I must honor who she truly is-a hardworking, generous woman, who is really okay with the simple things in life.

I know this post may not make sense. That’s ok. Please know that as you read it, it is my heartfelt desire to tell you that if you are a mom and you are struggling, it’s ok! You’re working hard, trying to make ends meet. You yell at your kids too much. You struggle to cook a meal, so fast food is the norm; and, daily chores are still undone at the end of the day because you are dead TIRED. I just want you to know that it’s OKAY! That wasn’t my mother either. I do recall that stuff, but I don’t remember it. It’s not what I value most. Now that I’m older, I, more than anything, value the walks to school, the contributions of her village in contributing to my childhood, that she taught me to be hardworking, honest, generous and praying woman. She taught me to be tough, smart, independent thinker that can survive in a world that is designed to crush you. That’s all that matters. She’s not the perfect mom; but, she was, and is,the best mama she could be! She is what me and my sisters needed. I’m not the perfect daughter. I’m impatient. I get frustrated. I’m selfish. But my mother knows, that I try my best and she loves me for it. We are perfectly imperfect! And it’s the best thing ever.

If you have you days where you think, “I suck!” Don’t beat yourself up. Know that you are what your children need. They will recall the washed clothes, the fast food, and a clean house. But more than anything, they will come to value the time you spent with them, the sacrifices you made, the lessons you taught them about being a person of integrity. They will reminisce on your unique personality and gifts that you brought to your family and the world. So don’t try to be perfect; just do your best. One day your kids will get it and love and APPRECIATE you for the mom YOU are; not the mom you think you should be. You’re kids aren’t perfect. We know that some days you are thinking, “These kids are bad as shit!” Don’t give up. Keep planting seeds; one day they will morph into perfectly imperfect people that you love to life! So chill out and have a Happy Mother’s Day.

Shout out to my mom, Patricia K. Cass, she’s a real one. (FYI…she’s probably going to say, “Don’t be writing about me on no Facebook or whatever that is!” Then we will talk about LeBron and why he is NOT G.O.A.T. because he left Cleveland…she holds a grudge like no other).

This is my favorite pic! I was probably about to get a whooping! 😂 #shesabadass #cokebottleshape #groceriesonherhips #mymama!

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aging black women Uncategorized

“If I see you and I don’t speak…”

…that means I don’t remember you. Or, more than likely, I remember your face but not your name. If you see me in public and you haven’t seen me in more than a year, I just might forget you. Please don’t take it personally. I’m 46 years old now. I’m a teacher with 18 years in education, and I’ve taught thousands of students and conversed with hundreds of parents. I’m active in my church and in my community; I probably meet someone new everyday. My little brain just has to dump all of that information sometimes. No disrespect, but somehow your name file got deleted with some of the others. I mean no harm!

This is really important to me because I really don’t want anyone to feel like I’m being a snob or, as they say in my neighborhood, “acting brand new!” I’m not. I just can’t recall your name. As I’m talking to you, I’m desperately trying to think of who you are, but it’s difficult because at the same time, I’m trying to stay engaged in this conversation with you. This always makes the conversation difficult…tense…stunted. I know it, and you can probably sense my struggle. Then, I see it in your face; you give me that, “This bitch tryin’ to be funny,” look. But I’m not! I’m just old! 

It seems that even with my graying temples some of y’all forget that I’m not 10-year-old “Boo” from the Southside anymore. I’m full-grown Tracy J. Cass from Fort Worth, TX, graduate of UTA, DBU, and UNT! I’m an educator of many students and teachers. I’m a proud auntie of two nieces and two nephews, with a great-niece, a bad hip, and a horrible memory! With all of that on my plate, I forget things, including keys, and people…OFTEN. So I’m saying now, “I’m sorry!” If you see me at the local Walmart, and I’m struggling to remember your name or who you are, be kind and let me make it. Just say, “Hey, GURL,” keep it pushing, and let me move on. That’s just too much pressure. And low-key, I’m embarrassed that I forgot you. Let me be great. 🤦🏽‍♀️

Thanks!! 

#wheresmyaarpcard

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black women friendships relationships Uncategorized women

Girl Code

The person who vets these little vignettes for me said, “Cass, this is all over the place. You need a unifying theme.” She’s extremely smart, masters in literature kind of smart. So, when she reads my work it’s hard for her to allow me to bend the rules of structured writing. But, I do, and I did here in this piece as well. And as the Grammar Guru that she is, her nerves are most assuredly grated. 

I said all of that to say, I don’t have a unifying theme except to say that friendship is essential to the soul. Genuine friends, real, true, ride or die friends feed your spirit and help you mature and blossom. Friends can be closer than your family. It is written in holy script somewhere that a person that has friends must show himself friendly. In other words, in order  to be a good friend, you must ALSO be a good friend. 

Having said that, some of y’all out here living foul. Just like man law or bro code, girls, too, have a code that we live by. Rules, regulations, a set of boundaries that allow us to grow and flourish in sisterhoods in which we are not bound by birth, and sometimes in those which we are. To be blunt, there are just some things you do’t do, but y’all violating the code. And it is my responsibility, my duty, as a member of a true squad to get y’all together and let you know the rules, the code, the Girl Code. What makes me an expert? I have a PH.D in maintaining friendships. I have three sisters, and I have a squad of friends that I have been down with for more than 20 years. So, uh yeah, I think I can talk a little bit about friendship. Don’t judge. Just learn and apply. So here they are, my rules for being not just a good friend, but a great friend! Girl Code 2018.

1) Husbands and boyfriends are off limits. Period. Forever! There is no statute of limitations. Once someone has dipped into that love-pool, dude is forever off limits to you. Despite what other cultures may do, our culture does not. Bump that…other cultures don’t do it either. I’m telling you now; stop it! Even if she says, “It’s ok. Go ahead, I don’t care.” We all know she’s lying. Don’t do it. This is the ultimate no-no. Taking this chance causes years of conflict and confusion, most often ending friendships permanently. I say it again, “DON’T DO IT. Dude ain’t that cute anyway!

2) My business is my business. If I choose to share it with you, that means I choose to share it WITH YOU. Not everybody else, even if the person you are itching to tell is my friend. When you decide to tell my business without my permission, you are violating my trust, and I’m not going to tell you anything else. Now, I won’t necessarily ex-communicate you for this, but I damn sure won’t trust you with anything else. Keep your trap shut…but we both know you are probably thinking of who to call faster than I can hit END CALL.

3) If we had an argument 10 minutes ago, then that’s just what that is. An argument. Ten minutes ago, or two days ago, or three weeks ago, or five years ago. It’s over, never to be brought back up again.  Say what you have to say and then let that be the end of it. Period. Ain’t nobody got time for grudges. Once we have hashed it out, we will cry, hug, blow snot, and move on. We are no longer mad at each other. It’s done. Now…let’s go get ice cream!

4) If you are mad at one of our friends, you are mad, not me. We, she and I, are still cool, just as I am still cool with you. I will not let you talk about her, and she can’t talk about you to me. I will try my best to help you reconcile, but bottom line, that’s y’all’s business. Don’t expect me to stop speaking to my friend because you are mad at her. I’m not going to stop speaking to you when she has beef with you. Hopefully, you two will resolve your issues; however, I understand that some disagreements are just too hard to work out. In that case, I will respect your decision to move on from that friendship, but until that person does something to me, she and I are still friends. Respect it.

5) Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…imitation, not copying. Listen, God made us all different, with unique gifts and talents. Use what God gave you for the greater good…what God gave YOU, not me. If every time I do something, you do it too, that is not a friendship. That is a person who is insecure and competitive. Friendships are built on mutually beneficial relationships; they are diverse and rich. No one learns or grows if everyone in the village is just alike⏤dressed alike, talks alike, eats the same food, wears the same style, has the same job. Where is the fun in that? When you win, I win. I will celebrate you and let you have your moment, do the same for others. Let us all be great! Because honestly, no one likes a copycat.

6)If we came together, we leave together, even in our forties, fifties, and sixties. Have you ever seen Golden Girls? My favorite show, by the way.  As your friend, I am responsible for your well-being, and you are responsible for mine. We must look out for each other. Your family SHALL NOT call me and say have you seen_____________, and I can’t answer that question. If we are out and someone is coming on too strong or trying to harm you, he will have to come through me and the squad, you hear me? We will let you make moves; I’m not a blocker at all. However, we will all have our eyes on each other to make sure that we leave a place just like we arrived…TOGETHER.

7) It’s your job to get me together; don’t have me out here looking a fool. Not in fashion. Not in relationships. Not in my career. Not in life. As friends, we will speak the truth in love. But we will speak truth! If you are out of order, I will tell you. If I am out of order, please tell me. (Delicately though, I’m sensitive. ☺).

8)Friendship is friendship, and business is business. If you can’t separate the two then friendship comes first. We will not lose our friendship behind business. 

Bonus Code:

Okay let’s pause and take a break. I wrote a previous version of these rules a few years ago. I have since grown and matured, and even still, most of the rules still apply although in this version I hope that I am a bit softer in my approach, a tad bit wiser, but still honest. I re-read the previous version, which I didn’t remember writing until I finished this post, and not shockingly, not much had changed. Just my delivery. There were a few rules, however, that I would like to add from my earlier version.

9) Trust your friend’s to be who they are. Okay, this rule is simple. If your homegirl talks too much, don’t tell her all your business and get mad when everybody knows your story. You knew she talked too much when you opened your mouth. If you have a friend that is always late, why do you insist on giving her the correct time to show up when something starts, then pitch a fit when you are two hours late because you were waiting on her to pick you up? You know you need to tell that girl to show up two hours early just so you guys can get where you’re going on time. I know you want to believe in your friends. You  also need someone to talk to, someone with whom you can share your problems so they can pour into your soul. In essence, sometimes you need to unburden your soul onto someone else just so you won’t go crazy. So, you call your friend, your sis, in hopes that this one time you can tell her something and she won’t go blabbing your business all over town. You love her so you give her one more chance. But in reality, you are not being fair to her. You are expecting her to be someone she is either not capable of being, or she doesn’t want to be.  You screwed up when you thought your friend would be someone different. The best predictor of past behavior is previous behavior; pay attention and learn!

10) Keep your opinions to yourself. We all want to make comments or suggestions on someone’s, style, hair, relationship, decisions, etc… Be like the government- if they don’t ask, you don’t tell! Honestly, they don’t really care what you think if they haven’t asked for your opinion. And really, these pieces of advice you are giving are just your way of manipulating your friend into being just like you. But, what would the world be like if we were all the same? 

But wait, you told us earlier to “get you together.” There is a fine line between making sure I’m slaying versus you just knocking my style. If you are constantly criticizing someone, then chances are you are being a negative Nancy and you should probably keep your opinions to yourself. However, if you are that friend that celebrates more than she critiques, when you have to give a critical word then your friend will take it in the love in which it is given. She will know you came to help her slay and you are trying to help get her life together. It’s hard to do, and balance is the key. My advice here is to tread lightly and check your motivation.

11) Have some honor among thieves! Let me handle this rule gingerly. Some of us have been put in situations where our fidelity to one another has been…tested. For example, Your homegirl is stepping out on her man. You and her man are cool. One night he calls you. General conversation in the beginning, just idle chit-chat. “How are the kids?” “You coming by to watch the game next week?” As the conversation progresses, he knows you are going to ask where she is and what she is doing. He tells you, but before you know it he starts talking about their relationship and how he really cares about her. Let’s face it, this is the start of him picking you for information.  First and foremost, you were wrong for talking to him so long. I know, I know…you feel sorry for the brother. He’s crying on the phone, sounding all pitiful. But remember, your loyalty is to your friend, not him. GET OFF THE PHONE! Think about it, if the situation were reversed, would he look out for you or he would stick with his homeboy? You already know the answer to that question: Man-Law #1 BROS OVER _____s! You don’t have to lie to him, just don’t answer! 

This isn’t just about relationships. This is any situation where you have to take sides. Remember, the only side that matters is your friend’s. When I pledged my sorority, one of the first things I learned was that “soror business is soror business.” This means what we do and talk about stays between us; if and when we are wrong, we will handle that behind closed doors. As I tell my trainer when he tells me I always take Kim’s side (See March 6, 2018 post: Ode to Comfort Foods/ Requiem for a Fat Girl.) “She’s my line sister. I can talk about her, but you can’t. I’ll tell her she’s wrong later!” And when it comes to my blood sisters, do we even have to ask?

Girl Code is not written in stone and it shouldn’t be. As women, we have a right to change our minds. Depending on how the group feels about certain things, these rules are simply a guideline to help us navigate in the space of friendship. Fellas, as you read this and you suspect that your wife, sister, mother, cousin, auntie might be violating the code, do not, I repeat DO NOT try to charge them up and hold them accountable! Why? Because you are not officially part of the squad. You can try but it probably won’t go over well. When you do it, you are judging. Get one of her homegirls to do it! When she calls her to the carpet, it’s LOVE! I hope this blesses somebody. Be a good friend, not a shady one! LOL!

P.S. Coming soon Part 2: “Get You a Crew!”

#mycrew! ❤️👩‍👩‍👧‍👧

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Confessions of a Beyoncé Hater

Beychella 2018…let me just say, “AMAZING!” I have never been a part of the Beehive. Admittedly, I am a reluctant fan. I like a few songs. Maybe one or two off of each album that I have on my run playlist, but I never really understood the world’s obsession with Bey. Well babbbyyy! Let me tell you. NOW. I. GET. IT! She is the queen, and she deserves all of the props given to her.

I didn’t even know that Coachella was going on until yesterday. I think I found out while scrolling Instagram. It still didn’t hit me that, “This is the weekend Beyoncé will perform.” I guess I just don’t care that much…until I got to Sunday School, and my sister said, “Jon Jon stayed up last night to watch Beyoncé! He said, ‘She did that!’”

I was perplexed. How? On what? The miracle of all miracles.”We have T-Mobile and they live streamed it. They dropped it at three this morning” I tried to play it off with an eye-roll, “How many more times is this chick going to drop albums and what not? Isn’t that old news?” But secretly, I was trying to figure out how I could watch it. Was it still streaming? Would they re-broadcast? Would it be available when Sunday School was over? Low and behold when I left class at 10:30AM and checked my phone, it was available on YouTube! I sped home to mirror it on my tv just in case it was a mistake and YouTube decided to snatch it down before I could watch it.

I propped up on my couch ready to criticize and critique, but Bey did something spectacular. She marched in like a queen, sang the black national anthem and gave me at least 60 minutes of homecoming/ probate step show at an HBCU!

On top of that, the second or third song was my favorite, FORMATION! I was hooked! By the time she got to “Lose My Breath” with Kelly and Michelle, I was literally in the living doing jumping jacks like we do when my trainer plays it in class! When it was over, I realized that she had performed all of the songs that I loved, and I had sang everyone of them!

Listen I know some of you guys are out there like me saying, “She’s doing too much. What’s all the hype? Give us a break!” I won’t argue with you. All I can tell you is that Beyonce is the Michael Jackson of this generation!. Give her credit for that. I have to at least acknowledge that she is a true performer.

Now, I am not a member of the Beyhive (they are a bit crazy).  I will admit that I did drink a bit of the Beyonce Kool-aid, it tastes pretty good, and that alpha line of Beta Delta Kappa Spring 2018 is looking good right now! Here’s why I had to taste and see.

I thought about it, and Bey is me.  Beyoncé is a black woman from Texas. She is successful. She is talented. She is proud of being black. She is proud of her culture. The more the world tells her what she can’t do, the more she shows them what she CAN do. She empowers women. She empowers young girls. She loves her husband, but shares through song her fight to preserve black love. She’s a big sister who loves her little sister! She is loyal to her friends. When she gets put on, she brings her friends along with her. How can you NOT LIKE someone like that?

I am ashamed that it took me this long to recognize her greatness. My line sister tried to tell me, but I wasn’t hearing it. I’ll say it now, “I’m sorry, Kim! You were right! Beyoncé is G.O.A.T.!” At least one of them. I can’t deny anymore that she is to be held in the same regard as Tina and Janet! She is definitely the best entertainer alive today. Don’t believe me? Watch Coachella.

From one Texas girl to another, thank you Beyoncé for keeping it all the way live and making me a believer! #givingBeyherprops #coachella2018

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Shout Out to 2018

Welcome! No disrespect to 2017. We had our problems. You know this. For a minute there, I thought we weren’t going to make it. It started November 8, 2016, and I just knew that we wouldn’t make it much past March. Despite the challenges, you held it down even though things were really rocky…especially those last few weeks. So, I’m not going to chunck you the deuces; I’m simply going to say, “It’s time I moved on.” On to new challenges and adventures. I must face what lies ahead in spite of how things look around me. I don’t have any “new year, new me” declarations or resolutions. I’m not dissing anyone who does. I’m just focused.

I’m 46 years old now but when I was a kid, I had dreams. I left college with a bag of ambitions, ready to set the world on fire. Then, I entered the real world and lost my way. I forgot about what inspired me and motivated me to be great. How sad! No time for regrets though. It’s time to do this thing and just focus, grind, and hustle despite how ridiculous those dreams may seem. So I’m giving a shout out to 2018! She deserves it. She patiently waited on me to get my shit together, tapping her foot like a MeeMaw looking at you as you clean up your room and pressing, “You know what you need to do.”

In the distant past, 2018 has watched me during my formative years stop and start, over and over again with this writing thing. But she has believed in me when I doubted myself and allowed self-talk to stop me from being great. “It’s time,” she admonished. Shout out to 2018 for speaking to 2017 and all the other years and telling them, “Let her go. You’ve allowed her to be lazy and indecisive. No time for that anymore. She has work to do!”

Furthermore, I nod my head to 2018 for allowing me to enter it with great mental health. Listen, the news cycle in 2017 almost drove me into depression; yet, 2018 holds the promise of a brighter future. She is here now. In great form. Like a grand diva ready to grace the stage. This is my moment. And so, it is yours also. This is the year to rise to the occasion. To look at that vision board and tackle it head on. To realize my dreams. This is THE year of accomplishments. “Don’t talk about it, BE about it,” as the old heads used to say. Yep! This is that year.

However, before you go forth ready to conquer 2018 like Khaleesi on her dragon ready to fight the Night King, remember there are a few things you need to do as you travel this journey:

1) God is first—nothing in my life gets done without His blessing. “Not my will but His”. Pray with expectancy but without expectations. 2018 knows this. She knows that God is who is He says He is, and He will do just what He says He will do. Remind yourself that He will answer in due time, yet be mindful that His answers may not look like what you think they should. “Not my will but HIS!” AND HE is in complete control.

2) Expect to fail—When I was in college, one of my friends pledged a fraternity. Each night, he and his line brothers went through a series of tasks and games given by the big brothers that taught them lessons but sometimes left them humiliated. The idea was to break you down to build you back up and make you stronger. I’m not advocating hazing AT ALL; but I do recognize that although misused, sometimes the purpose of such activities was to make you stronger mentally for a world that was often waiting to celebrate your demise. Anyway, one night after a long list of entertaining the big brothers,  my friend was standing in line and one of the big brothers took an egg threw it at my friend. It cracked, and he had egg yolk dripping over his entire face and white t-shirt. My friend was furious. He was ready to quit and step out of line to open up a can of whoop ass. His line brother firmly put his hand on his shoulder and urged him to step back. The big brother then explained, “Look, man, I know you are mad. You should be. But sometimes in life, you are just going to end up with egg on your face. You can’t let it stop you though. You gotta keep going.” It took a minute, but he eventually calmed down and stepped back in line. Later that night, he crossed the burning sands into full membership into his fraternity, accomplishing a goal he had long had as a young boy. He was overjoyed, realizing that he had almost stopped just short of his goal. In 2018, you will fail. You will. Embarrassment, shame, and sometimes guilt. They are all waiting on you. But don’t let them stop you. Keep at it every day. Eventually you will succeed. Or, you run the risk of stopping just before you reach the goal. PUSH THROUGH!

3) Remember…YOU. ARE. A. BAD ASS! People will try to make you think you are not. Don’t believe it. You are the SHIZNIT. Why? Because God made you, and He “don’t” make mistakes. When He formed you before the beginning of time, He knew, “This one right here ‘bout to do some thangs!” He knew what He made was good, so He sent you forth to set the world ablaze. Your doubts and fears are just signals to your soul that what you are doing is DIVINE! It’s a good thing to be humble. What’s not okay is allowing a false sense of humility to prevent you from fulfilling your purpose and dreams. My pastor, Rev. William T. Glynn (HeYYYY, PASTOR!), always says that it’s a sorry dog that can’t toot his own horn…or is it wag his own tail? Anyway, you get the point. Recognize that you have something to offer the WORLD. And it’s only something you can do because you are special. Own it and celebrate it! Do it! 2018 is ready.

So SHOUT OUT 2018! The year of my dreams. And so is 2019…and 2020 and beyond, as long as I walk this earth. LEGGO!