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We are all ‘Nobodies’

17 Nov

When I jumped into reading Marc Lamont Hill’s Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond I’d just finished reading Mychal Denzel Smith’s ‘Invisible Man’. Both books were released just five weeks apart and in realizing the similar theme between the two (a person of color being seen as insignificant) I thought it to be a striking commentary on how many men of color must be feeling in our country lately. Then two black men were brutalized and publically slain by police within 48 hours of each other. Then came the Dallas massacre. Then Keith Lamont Scott. Then Alfred Olango. It has been one hell of a year for black people and for those fighting against this violence, to say the least.  It was one thing to read this book from a retrospective viewpoint. It was another experience entirely to read Hill’s reflections on our societies’ historic (and often systematic) attack on people of color, and in particular black men, while also feeling like you had a live front row seat to it. Yet again. Yet again video taped. Yet again hearing the cries for help or one’s last fight for survival. Yet again it all is, heartbreaking, infuriating and hard to take in. And yet again I like many of us, am left staring into the face of blatant, violent, and brutal injustice with unanswered questions and a further enforced conviction that our system is deeply broken. ‘Nobody’ gave me the exact facts and background knowledge I needed to know (even further) that this is not a faulty assessment.

In presenting the history and facts about previously little-known places like Ferguson, Missouri and Waller County, Texas Hill succeeds in directly tying them to the violence we’ve seen in recent months. And in doing so, provides some clarity to the questions many of us have asked in the wake of such horrific and intolerable injustices: How could this have happened?  How was it allowed to happen? And why does it keep happening? Hill uses the most recent examples of fatal police brutality to explore on the long-standing policies (such as the Stand Your Ground Law) and cultures that created and now sustain a culture that allows these murders to occur, and injustice to continuously prevail. In examining the data, geography, political history, culture and public policies behind these instances, Nobody makes intriguing commentary on the various larger issues plaguing our society, that ultimately, have given birth to the fatalities we’re seeing now,  i.e.: Flint’s water crisis, the war on drugs, the prison industrial complex, the lack of resources for and the criminalization of mental illness and our woefully disparate economic infrastructure that continues to disproportionately devastate minority communities.

Furthermore, in Nobody’s presentation of pieces of the intimate lives of Mike Brown (Despite a troublesome academic environment, “Brown like, many teenagers of color, had a positive and eclectic set of aspirations. He wanted to learn sound engineering, play college football, become a rap artist, and be a heating and cooling technician; he also wanted to be famous.”) or Sandra Bland (“…Bland was a 2009 graduate of Prairie View A&M. She majored in agriculture, played in the school band, and was a member of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority.”) or the more ordinary aspects of life for Jordan Davis and Freddie Gray– we are better able to see ourselves within them. 

Image result for marc lamont hill nobody                                                                                                                                           

(photo via amazon.com)

“Brown’s story is a testament to how race and class, as well as other factors like gender, sexuality, citizenship, and ability status, conspire to create a dual set of realities in twenty-first-century America. For the powerful, justice is a right; for the powerless, justice is an illusion.”

Not only does ‘Nobody’ help us to better connect the dots as to the “why’s” and “how’s” of these injustices, but (I dare say) it also allows us to see that those who are deemed a “nobody” in the corrupt parts and eyes of the American political system can really be all of us in one way or another. And brings forth the frightening realization that: many of us, especially people of color, are connected to the “nobody”: wealthy or poor or disabled or “respectable” or teenaged. With our hands up or asking questions pertaining to our rights or running away. We walk to the store, we stop for gas, we play music we love, we make eye contact with each other. We exist and try to live our lives both as freely as possible and at times, as mundanely and low key as we please. We are all nobodies and–we are somebodies. We are all  a beautiful and valuable piece existing in this mosaic of the ugly idea of a nobody. And in knowing that, we know the most frightening call to action ever: that a nobody, can be anybody.

“It would be easy, given the logic of the current moment, to individualize this crisis. We could say that our problems are the work of a few bad apples and that the great majority of police, prosecutors, politicians, corporations–indeed the great majority of the nation–frowns on the exploitation of the vulnerable….Regardless of our individual or collective intentions, we are nonetheless bound up in a state of emergency in this nation. In order to repair the damage that has been done, we must craft a new set of frameworks of our economy, for our schools, for our justice system, for public housing….We must reinvest in communities. We must imagine the world that is not yet.”

location: evolving.

6 Sep

It’s been a while, I’m not who I was before
You look surprised, your words don’t burn me anymore
Been meaning to tell you, but I guess it’s clear to see
Don’t be mad, it’s just the brand new kind of me
Can’t be bad, I found a brand new kind of free

Careful with your ego, he’s the one that we should blame
Had to grab my heart back
God know something had to change
I thought that you’d be happy
I found the one thing I need, why you mad
It’s just the brand new kind of me

It took a long long time to get here
It took a brave, brave girl to try
It took one too many excuses, one too many lies
Don’t be surprised, don’t be surprised

if i talk a little louder
If I speak up when you’re wrong
If I walk a little taller
I’d be known to you too long
If you noticed that I’m different
Don’t take it personally
Don’t be mad, it’s just the brand new kind of me
And it ain’t bad, I found a brand new kind of free

Oh, it took a long long road to get here
It took a brave brave girl to try
I’ve taken one too many excuses, one too many lies
Don’t be surprised, oh see you look surprised

Hey, if you were a friend, you want to get know me again
If you were worth a while
You’d be happy to see me smile
I’m not expecting sorry
I’m too busy finding myself
I got this
I found me, I found me, yeah

I don’t need your opinion
I’m not waiting for your okay
I’ll never be perfect, but at least now I’m brave
Now, my heart is open
And I can finally breathe
Don’t be mad, it’s just the brand new kind of free
That ain’t bad, I found a brand new kind of me
Don’t be mad, it’s just a brand new time for me

-Alicia Keys

Come through with the SLAY:

1 Jul

U.S. Olympian and Gymnast Gabby Douglas for Teen Vogue’s body issue:

GabbyDouglas

photo via Teen Vogue

 

Published!

20 May

And I am ever-so-grateful. An article I wrote on Alicia Keys’ return to music was published on a site I truly love and appreciate.

Check it out here. :)

Alicia Keys

It’s cyclical.

14 May

“I have learned and unlearned how to live hundreds of times.

Whenever I am taught something new, I think that perhaps this will be the last step required to reach the top of the mountain, 

the note that justifies a whole symphony,

the word that sums up an entire book.

Yet most things, people and places end up disappearing and you have to start over… Or so it seems.

Our life is a constant journey, from birth to death.

The landscape changes, the people change, our needs change, but the train keeps moving.

God will guide you, because everything you ever experienced or will experience is in the here and now.

Whoever you met will reappear, whoever you lost will return. Don’t betray the grace that was bestowed on you.

Understand what is going on inside you and you will understand what is going on inside everyone else.”

Niyyirah Waheed

6 May

From the goddess, Warsan Shire:

‘For women who are difficult to love’

you are a horse running alone
and he tries to tame you
compares you to an impossible highway
to a burning house
says you are blinding him
that he could never leave you
forget you
want anything but you
you dizzy him, you are unbearable
every woman before or after you
is doused in your name
you fill his mouth
his teeth ache with memory of taste
his body just a long shadow seeking yours
but you are always too intense
frightening in the way you want him
unashamed and sacrificial
he tells you that no man can live up to the one who
lives in your head
and you tried to change didn’t you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
prettier
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him travelling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.

For Afeni:

3 May

Can You See the Pride In the Panther

Can You See the Pride In the Panther
As he grows in splendor and grace
Toppling obstacles placed in the way,
of the progression of his race.

Can You See the Pride In the Panther
as she nurtures her young all alone
The seed must grow regardless
of the fact that it is planted in stone.

Can You See the Pride In the Panthers
as they unify as one.
The flower blooms with brilliance,
and outshines the rays of the sun.

-Tupac Shakur

Jumping in.

1 May

Take the step. The importance does not lie  in the specifics of how you take it, all that matters is that you do. Take the step, jump into the unknown, knowing it is all there just waiting, for you. Know that an abundance is there for you to receive. Even if you can’t quit see it. Even if nothing but the fact that it exists is clear. And you thought you needed clarity to move, but now you’re realizing you never really did.

You just needed the will to move,bathe courage to walk and the determination to conquer. And well, you’ve always had that anyway.

Do it. Go. 

Take the step.

Kim Kardashian x Balmain

9 Apr

I live for a good Balmain design. The details and colors are divine. I especially love that this gown already has an exotic and regal tone to it– with the intricate beading and sheer slits. Combined with Kim’s looks, that’s definitely a WIN. KimKBalmain

KimKBalmain1

 

Pharrell Williams x G-STAR

7 Apr

“…the artist often known as Skateboard P isn’t just in it for the pumped-up title. He recently acquired a financial stake in the company, and he is deeply passionate about the ideas he and his Bionic Yarn initiative continue to work on with the 37-year-old denim brand. It’s an enterprise rooted in environmentalism—specifically, in taking plastic bottles and turning them into consumer goods. When it comes to the partnership with G-Star, this year it will account for about 700,000 bottles recycled each season, roughly two million bottles per year, all marching toward one single goal: to slow down the effects of global warming. “There are the naysayers who say global warming is not a thing, but they’re starting to see,” he says with legitimate concern in his voice. “Places are flooding, the heat index is going up higher than it’s ever been, record heat months already, you know, hotter than ever on this planet. So denim is a good proposition, because it’s something that lasts long, so there’s an interesting metaphor there. Our denim lasts long, but our climate and comfort on this planet is not.”- excerpt from GQ Style

 

Pharrell GStar

(photo via G-STAR)