Thursday, January 24

We Are Not [Always] The Company We Keep

I believe each person defines who they are by their own actions and words. Yes, there are plenty of sayings that allude to a person being the company they keep. While I understand those adages did not spring up out of thin air, those assumptions of character are based on surface views of who people might be.

If you do not have Christian beliefs what I am about to say may not hold any weight in this conversation. However, strip your mind of religious preference and apply the principle I am using to make my point.

Jesus had 12 apostles and a woman he was closest to during his adult years. The company he kept was not anything most people would be proud of. His friends were known for being liars, thieves, even murderers. Some might say that these men were these things before Jesus welcomed them into his fold. While that is true, some of them continued to have the same character flaws after forming their friendship with him. Anyone who wants to pretend not to have read their Bible need only reference Peter.

I have plenty of friends who operate under their own code of ethics and personal law. I have no problem with this until it affects me. This is the ideal friendship for me. You are allowed to be who you truly want to be in my presence which allows me to be 100% functional as well. I could very well monitor them closely for signs of them about to fuck up with me but that is not me being a friend; that is me waiting for an otherwise normal person to start showing their ass.

Requires too much energy and no time left for you to cultivate any friendship.

I say all this to say, I would much rather a rainbow coalition of personalities as friends than people who make me look good from a surface level. It will always be comforting to know that the people I call my friends are free from judging me because I am not judging them. We all sin so I don’t mind having sinners as friends.

Is It Love You Want or The Semblance of It?

I can't help but observe certain things about people the more they pop up as "serious" topics of discussion. The older I get and the more friends/family/associates of mine who aren't getting married, the more I hear the Forever Alone spill. While listening to their cries and concerns, I also hear how badly they want to experience a real love. Something unconditional. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that they'll probably continue down this path because of the following:

  • what their friends/family/associates think about the love of their life is more important than what they think AND feel
  • self-sabotage 
  • conventional norms
AND most importantly,
  • they want to be unconditionally loved but their list of requirements for a mate suggest they won't be reciprocating that same kind of love
Some people [especially my fellow women] might want to scratch my eyes out and I'm sure I heard a few "shut up bitch" mumbles. I have a question though. When did love become about everyone else but you AND the person you claim to love or want to be loved by? I understand that this is nothing new. People have been dating/getting engaged/marrying people they don't love as much as someone else since the beginning of time. However, I'm confused by those who, due to their misery inducing decisions, begin to condemn/judge/turn their nose up at those who love AND STAY with the person they REALLY want. There is NOTHING wrong with saying "THIS IS WHO I CHOOSE TO BE WITH. FUCK ANYONE'S OPINION OF THEM".

It makes me want to slam some people's heads together. Not because of their choice to be miserable. Solely because they shit on love and anyone fortunate to have received it into their life. You can go to hell but why attempt to drag others there with you? 

I'll admit it. Loving someone deeply is NOT easy. I'll never lie about that. It gets easier once we manage to stop making everything about ourselves though. This wholehearted love I speak of HAS to be a mutual thing; otherwise you'll be giving your all and still thinking love hates you because you're getting a shitty return. Which is an entirely different blog post. So when someone tells me that love shouldn't be hard, or viewed as work/a job, I just laugh. If you EVER get the chance to find YOUR one [true love], trust and believe there are people out there who WILL be happy for you. It makes me smile inside because love inspires things in people they sometimes never knew they were capable of.  When your happiness is inspired by love, you can't help but pass love on to others. So, I WANT people to love each other!

I just wish more of us would stop walking around being mad at love and claiming that it doesn't love us. If we are spending our valuable time keeping track of ALL the people who don't love us, when do we find time to focus on ALL the people who DO love us? Maybe, we should try learning how to love ourselves better before we go demanding someone romantically give us their all. As humans, we are naturally self-serving but we have to be willing to admit where we can be unnecessarily selfish with our time, hearts, 

Instead of concentrating on a list of all the things "I ain't gone do", would it hurt to create a list of the things "I will do" for love? At the end of the day, we ALL have options. Whether or not we choose the right person is contingent on the level of happiness we choose to settle for. If we haven't managed to master treating ourselves as well as we intend to treat the person we're "dying" to love unconditionally, love will continue to seem like a fleeting thought/feeling.

So here's to love...may everyone experience it with the person that is truly for them, regardless of what everyone else thinks.

"ready to love, do you want it enough? 
you say you want to love, do you want it enough?" 
- Jessie Ware

Monday, January 21

Is Freedom of Speech for Everyone or Just You?

Lupe is very much a fiasco, more so now than at the beginning of his musical career. He's gone out of his way to verbalize some of his opinions about President Barack Obama. I can't say that I would have done the same but that isn't what I'm here to write about. My opinion of him and what he chooses to speak out on are moot. What I will always speak up on is freedom of speech and how it is given/taken away from people based on WHAT they're saying.

No one can convince me Lupe isn't aware that with freedom, consequence always follows close behind. Regardless of them being good or bad, it is something a brave person is aware of before they embark on their journey to speak their mind...or at least should be. So when he was escorted off the stage and speculation was thrown towards it being the result of what he said, how he shouldn't have been there [even though he was invited], and blah, blah, blah, it made me think of one thing.

When the former President, George W. Bush, was in office...and EVERYTHING we had to say about him, that was negative. 

So what if it was true. Was it respectful? Not all the time. Did we need to be saying it? Probably not. Did we do it anyway? Sure did. However, [my] people are demanding that EVERYONE have the utmost respect for our current President, Barack H. Obama. So why is it different for one president, and not the others? If we admit to a bias, aren't we just as bad as the White people we want to do away with bias, prejudice, and discrimination? Or have we successfully deluded ourselves into thinking that it's okay because they did it for so many years to us that these past 4 years and the future 4 aren't to be held in comparison?

Most of us were taught, that two wrongs don't make a right. How often do we apply that advice though? Look on social networks and unfortunately, it appears that we only apply it when it is to our benefit.

This is not a standard I hold others to but mark myself as exempt when I have flawed reasoning. I won't resort to childish boomerang logic either when we're talking about it BECAUSE you didn't WANT him to say what he felt, in the first place. Situations like this solidify my thoughts regarding oppression. There are many who've experienced it in some fashion so vividly that they'd rather seek to oppress others than do away with it altogether. Recognize it and then admit it, instead of hiding behind thinly veiled disguises of red herrings that distract from the real issue.

In a utopian society, freedom of speech would work across the board. I would be foolish to think that it could function efficiently right now though. Don't piss on my point by making it seem as if I agree with Lupe's antics. I would never handle myself in that manner if I had a voice that hundred of thousands of people are influenced by. Trust me, it'd be handled much differently. 

My point is, respect everyone's freedom of speech. You don't have to like what someone is saying and that's fine but as long as they have a mouth, they can use it. As long as the law allows us to speak out against whatever bothers us, we SHOULD use our voice. We just have to be ready to deal with the backlash, if there is any. In Lupe's case, he has to deal with pretty much everyone thinking he's crazier than cat piss to exercise his freedom of speech. However, if you want to effect change, that's how you do it. You speak up about what you want heard.

Imagine all the people who wished Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would shut the hell up about civil rights. In 2013, some of us refuse to come out of our futuristic bubble to think back that far. I'm not comparing Lupe's erratic speeches to Dr. King's well-thought out rhetoric. The comparison comes in that they both had something to say when LOTS of people were in the mood to disagree. Yet, they said it anyway. Dr. King paid for his outspoken words with his life. Lupe might not pay with his life, literally but figuratively, he's kind of committing suicide. It's what he believes in though.

Who are any of us to take that away from him, just because we disagree with what he's saying? His repercussions will catch up with him but until then, he still has the right to speak his mind. Just like you and I...

Thursday, January 17

To Be or Not To Be [Yourself]...

We incessantly hear:


I see and hear it so much, that it has caused me to question how much of this people REALLY believe in. From my observations, a lot claim to want freedom to be themselves but depending on the road we travel to our destiny, society demands we sacrifice certain parts of who we are. So how can we truly be ourselves?

Best example I can give is that lends credit to this conflict is myself. I KNOW I don't get along with everyone. Even though I'm friendly, I cherish honesty over a lie any day; because the truth can be ugly sometimes, I'm often accused of being mean when I give the truth its just due. Many people come to me for honest opinions and unbiased views but far more people stay away from me because of them. I don't crave the attention of other people so this isn't a problem for me personally. It is a problem for my writing though. Writers need exposure, like any other artist. So when you have a significant amount of individuals who won't share my work because they "don't like me" [NOT my writing], it presents a HUGE problem.

I KNOW there are some people who don't work with me on purpose, due to my personality. You'd think being honest and upfront were endearing and wanted traits in the world of writing but not so much. A lot of people want to pick their truths in life even when their delusional behavior is staring them in the face. If I come along and hold up the mirror, I become The Least Likely to Be Worked With. I'm the favorite person until I tell the truth about something people would rather just close their eyes to. I then become, Public Enemy #1.

So what happened to "BE YOURSELF"?

It sounds good and that's about it. The reality is, if we were 100% ourselves in EVERY capacity of our lives, a lot of people would never retain jobs, be in solid relationships, have friends, and/or be allowed outside of insane asylums. So what do we do? We dial our personalities down/up to get to where we want and need to be. Is this being fake? Depends on who you ask. 

So what SHOULD you do? There is a fine line between what we can comfortably live with and creating an entirely different persona for the benefit of success. Most people in the industries that require us to "fake it until you make it" understand the need to project certain images. If we asked THEM if we're being fake, they'd more than likely tell us that it's an occupational hazard if we want to make a recognizable name for ourselves. If we're trying to live a relatively normal life and we asked someone who enjoys their 9-5, married life, children, white picket fence, and dog, they'd probably tell us that we have to stay 100% true to ourselves.

As I get closer to fulfilling pivotal points of my destiny, I gain more clarity on "BE YOURSELF". My reality dictates that I'm going to have to do a lot of things I don't necessarily WANT, but NEED, to do. I'm more of an introvert but extrovert traits are required to network and connect with others. It isn't being someone else; it's channeling that part of myself that already exists but never needed to be used. I view it as necessary change versus being someone I'm not.

The bottom line is, once we determine what/where we want to be life, it's up to us to BE that and show up for success. Whatever we're willing to do, as long as we accept full accountability for our actions and words, we're still being ourselves. Sometimes we have to switch lanes to get to our final destination and before we do that, we should have answered the most important life question:

To Be or Not To Be [Yourself]?

Tuesday, January 15

@TRINIDADJAMESGG + The Power of Influence

The name Trinidad James triggers various responses, ranging from excitement to disgust to sheer amazement that this is actually happening in the world of hip hop/rap. The wheel is not being reinvented either and music lovers who watch trends know this to be true. While some old heads might come for me by saying this, I see no big difference between him and ODB. Yes, that statement might be viewed as musical sacrilege by the elite but take a minute to remove bias and LOOK at James. Now go LOOK at Big Baby Jesus. I’ll give you that lyrically, Dirt McGirt is better. Realistically speaking though, EVERYONE didn’t know what Osirus was talking about in EVERY song.
Never mind my comparison, the real thing at work here is renowned and LOVED artists who are co-signing AND expressing interest in working with the entertainer that is Trinidad James. This is a form of influence that people sometimes overlook and most times how a “nobody” becomes an overnight sensation. To quote James, “Don’t believe me? Just watch.”
“@fatbellybella Yes. I love Trinidad James - All Gold Everything [tweets his video from youtube] I like how many times he say nigga in one sentence. Beautiful.
@fatbellybella “Don’t believe me jeh watch” Trinidad James
@fatbellybella I like a lot of artists but I BELIEVE him. #trinidadjames
@fatbellybella I got to believe u in order to feel u.”
For everyone who is unfamiliar with the Twitter handle @fatbellybella, this is the astounding Erykah Badu.
“@BigBoi Yup RT @NotFunnyRamon: @BigBoi you gonna work with Trinidad James?”
BigBoi is none other than one half of the legendary group, Outkast. His entire body of work, solo and with Mr. Benjamin aka Andre 3000, speaks for itself.
“@danamo …Dunno if we’re getting in to see Trinidad James tho. zany out front.
@danamo got in. for Trinidad. #NYC
@ElliottWIlson Trinidad at work [RT of @danamo Instagram post of Trinidad James on the stage in New York tonight”
Danyel Smith (@danamo) and Elliott Wilson are one of the Power Couples ANYONE in MUSIC should know. Not only do they LOVE a wide range of music, they have become authorities on hip hop. Being an Editor at Billboard magazine and former Editor-in-Chief of VIBE magazine, if you have managed to catch Danyel’s eye, the universe just might be operating in your favor. Her husband, Elliott Wilson? Former Editor-in-Chief of XXL Magazine and currently the CEO and founder of Rap Radar. Someone else whose reach in the music world can have you connected to your favorite rappers rapper.
I’ve been compelled to highlight Trinidad James because he hasn’t been on the music scene for long. He’s fairly new to THIS, however, he has something that draws people in, whether they like him or not. THAT’S what makes MEMORABLE stars and in my opinion, he is well on his way. The last time I felt like this about an artist, I hyped him to whoever would listen. Being from Oakland, California, pushing any hip hop artist from New York was somewhat frowned upon but I know magic when I hear it. The New Yorker who drew me in had a gift that he was able to share with the world. He went on on to push the envelope and make timeless music for EVERYONE. Shawn Carter recently turned 43 years old and I am proud to say I was able to watch his rise to fame, notoriety, wealth, and immeasurable respect in the music world.
While it might be premature to make that same prediction for Trinidad James, the more reputable influence on his side, the more likely his ascent to a level beyond even his own dreams. This isn’t about lyrical ability, it’s about dreams coming true. Many of us will never get an iota of the same chance. The power of influence and connectors is the difference between wishing on a star and living the dream. I wish him nothing but the best. 
If you possess any of those gifts, share them by making someones dream's reality….

The Brilliance of Django:Unchained

From the beginning of Django Unchained, I knew it was going to be filled with offensive irony that would be infuriating and shocking. What amazes me is, how hypocritical we can be. We will violently kill messengers because we don’t want to hear or see WHO is handing us the information, as if that’s going to change anything. Misplaced aggression rarely if ever, solves perceived problems. 
Whether Spike or Quentin is telling the story, does Spike and those who feel similar, not realize that both directors/writers are sending the SAME message to people?
Which is:
White people have always been terrified of the natural abilities of Black people. Due to fear and anger, they oppress what they don’t understand and [generally speaking] have no desire to comprehend. That same fear and anger mentally binds the oppressed. [Generally speaking] Black people continue to let it happen instead of realizing there is NOTHING a gaggle of White folks can do if we stood up for ourselves and REFUSED to be treated like we aren’t human beings with the same universally given rights.
This next sentence is not to send the message that I’m angry or yelling. It’s to get your attention.
However, if the point Tarantino’s character Candie was making about White people’s behavior from birth, versus Black people’s, was missed, please go see the movie again.
The message I saw was:
Black people are genetically powerful from birth. There is a type of resilience that has been handed down through our DNA.
The rhetoric about three dimples in the brain, I haven’t had a chance to research to see how much truth there is to it but the alleged concept rings true. Candie stated [paraphrased] that Black people are naturally civil-minded and more than willing to comply. It isn’t until their life is hanging in the balance [no pun intended] or they’re dead, that something clicks that they’re already ‘equal’ to White people. The point was, by THAT time, it’s usually too late. 
Instead of looking at what Quentin was saying ABOUT HIS OWN PEOPLE, some of my people are focusing on being offended by his crass delivery. NOTHING about slavery was nice, pretty, or tactful. No one, White or Black, can depict slavery to where it is comfortable watching or reading about it. However, tunnel vision keeps some people from letting that register. 
As Candie pointed out, Black people surround White people everyday but how often do we think of that in terms of our freedom/rights? What is ANYONE going to do if they are truly the minority, when you tell them “No”? They’ll have no choice but to leave you alone; especially when THEY’VE already accepted that YOU’RE superior. The unspoken issue here is…have we, as Black people, accepted that we aren’t “the lowly, pitiful race” slavery made us think we are?
There was LOTS of physical abuse involved in slavery that contributes to the anger. The emotional abuse is what’s been most detrimental though. When someone is told they aren’t shit enough, they usually start to believe it. White people knew it was a lie the first time it was uttered that “Niggas ain’t shit”. It obviously wasn’t about being honest. It was about having the upper hand and controlling what THEY feared. The shit worked and unfortunately, it still works today. The even more terrible part is, you have other Black people telling EACH OTHER the same debilitating lie [see: Samuel L. Jackson’s great acting of the idiotic character in the movie].
Before anyone says a damn thing to me about this, I DO have a dog in THIS fight. I don’t need to know my slave lineage to know my DNA possesses independent traits beyond the norm. I don’t allow anyone to tell me what I can and can’t do when it comes to my basic legal rights. I don’t let ANYONE, White NOR Black, man NOR woman control what I do. Especially if what I’m doing has no negative bearing on their basic legal rights. I have a mouth and brain that I am not afraid to use. While it has NEVER made me Most Liked in any social circle, I am mentally more free than Black people are viewed as being. 
Speaking up about these things casts a seemingly negative shadow over me because MY OWN PEOPLE label me as a troublemaker. I have no greater desire than to be free. Aint that some shit? MY OWN PEOPLE don’t even want me to be free. Why? I can only speak on my life experience, but when you have a Black person who takes their basic legal rights seriously, it forces other Black people to acknowledge that they CAN do the same. But WILL they?
All the Mandingo Fights that went on in Candie’s home alluded to the message that Black people will fight one another TO THE DEATH when it makes FAR more sense to fight and kill those attempting to oppress us. Fear disables some people’s critical thinking faculties, blocking out what’s most important. Do you want to live to see another day struggling or do you want to be free to enjoy EVERY day of your life, unbridled by fear? 
Yes, Quentin makes you question whose fault slavery was. Do we SOLELY blame White people because it’s easier to say “when someone threatens to kill/hurt you, what are you supposed to do”? Or do we accept accountability for not fighting back EVERY chance we get? I view it this way, if I’m going to be angry about some shit, I’m going to use that anger to do something productive so I can attain the level of peace I desire. Personally, I have no one to blame if I don’t view my own life to be valuable enough that I would die for my own freedom or my loved ones. However, that is something that everyone doesn’t want because it IS hard. Slavery of ANY kind is far worse though.
We all make our decisions we have to live with and I saw that as an underlying point of the movie. Yes, it was wildly exaggerated in certain parts but a lot of things that entertain us, are (see: reality television). The point of this long-winded blog is, we also have a choice in who we see as the enemy too. It isn’t ALWAYS the “blue eyed devils”.
Sometimes PEOPLE (Black AND White) enslave their thinking process because they’re too scared to do anything different than what they’re taught.

My Core Life Philosophies

  1. Love wouldn’t be so difficult if it wasn’t so hard to stop being selfish.

  2. Money, or some form of what it represents, will always be important. It determines a large part of our quality of living. 

  3. Politics are necessary to run any government. Those who remain ignorant will never really know what’s going on.

  4. If work ever gets boring, it might be time to reconsider what your true calling is.

  5. They say you can’t pick your family but you can pick your friends. When your friends become your family, that doesn’t matter anymore.

A [Universal] Truth

Despite the obvious differences amongst human beings, some of us are still inclined to view subjective things as relative to all.

Dysfunctional relationships, whether they are with your friends, family, or coworkers, fall under that category. Even within a group of people who’ve experienced dysfunction, it can be broken down even further by defining the exact type of ‘malfunctions’ one has become acquainted with. It is beginning to seem as if statements like “everyone has experienced this at some point in their life so…” are sometimes uttered to make the speaker feel better about having gone through something they aren’t necessarily proud of.

The idea that there is an equal opposite to everything, should allow us to see the truth in this. However, recent events have solidified my observation that for some people, if it happened/happens to them, they grow to believe it is normal/happens to everyone.

I think if we made a conscious effort to associate with more people who were different than ourselves, we’d immediately see that PEOPLE have far more variety than what we see in our tiny bubble. We would also think a little more before assuming our thought patterns and manner of processing is standard behavior.

I fully understand why some people create generalizations to box everyone in. It makes it easier to not look at EVERYONES full picture. Details involve attaining a more intimate understanding of one another. While it can be overwhelming, it opens our eyes to so much more in life. Believe it or not, learning how other people deal with life, assists in the natural progression of humanity. At least that is what I believe…

…and the older I become, the more I SEE how true it is. Of course this is my perspective on life and how we choose to live it sometimes. So, there could very well be someone out there whose philosophical beliefs dictate otherwise. However, without our various differences, we’d all be more robotic and boring than our colorful personalities display us to be.

I’m grateful for all of the human beings I’ve had the privilege of learning from/about. It constantly confirms that we all work together, [un]knowingly, to fit in the big picture of life. For every delusional person, there is an equally rational one that exists at the same time. I think the key in getting along is accepting who we are, deciding if that is the person we want to remain or allowing life to organically evolve us into better versions of ourselves. Then we have to grow to understand that each human will make a choice to do this or not, as well. Those who choose opposite from us are still important because they assist with the universal balance.

This is what I’ve grown to accept over many years as being a [universal] truth.

Supporting Artists

Support. Sometimes it’s hard to accept that it translates differently to family/friends when you’re an artist. I’ve experienced various forms of rejection from family/friends before anyone else. While it feels like someone hitting you with a sledgehammer, most times, it prepares us for all the people who just won’t like what we have to offer.
In the mind of most artists, if we support them, we’ll be at their shows/readings, purchase their work when it’s available, and introduce it to others. Some people would beg to differ but how else is an artist supposed to get exposure without those three facets? It’s cool that we might acknowledge to THEM that they are good at what they do but if more people don’t know, the artist might as well crawl in a hole and stay hidden. Art, in its respective fashions, is meant to be seen, heard, and felt. So when support doesn’t lend credit to that, it becomes difficult to agree that people are actually supporting someone.
So how can we show more support to our artistic associates?
With social networks being such a fluid part of life today, it isn’t difficult. Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and other networks allow us to retweet/reblog/repost any information that floats down our timeline/dashboard/wall. We don’t have to wait for our favorite writer/visual or performing artist to hype themselves either. Support is literally in our reach at all times; it doesn’t hurt to post their work on our own. Yet, how often do we share our friends/family work we’re so proud of?
It probably doesn’t cross some people’s minds that if we consistently tell someone they’re good or great at something but never share their greatness with anyone, it becomes lip service. So all that time we spend sharing other people’s work with our followers, we should be throwing some of our friends/family’s work out there too. Visual and performing artists tend to have shows where they put their work on display. If we’re of the social butterfly caliber and find ourselves at venues supporting random strangers, we can include our artistic acquaintances efforts in our outings. Inviting others out with us so they can be introduced to all of the awesome that we are familiar with, helps as well.
Technology has increased the ability of word of mouth. However, the old fashioned way works just as good too. By talking to others about great writers, painters, dancers, and singers, we give more people the chance to share in spreading the word about their talents. While networking and connecting, we get the opportunity to get the artists we love and believe in, into doors they typically might not have access to. This is another form of support.

If you are an artist, that is even more of a reason to support your family/friends. Some complain that they don’t have time to hype someone else when they are trying to be seen themselves. The world is big enough for everyone to create art. When artists support each other, regardless of the type of art, it allows your work to be seen by people who would otherwise probably overlook you. So if you’re a painter but know writers, support one another as if you created the same art. The thing about art is, most people who are lovers of it, tend to like more than one facet. So help yourself by helping someone else.
None of this is in an effort to do all the work for the artist. It’s to give people an idea of how to show more relevant support to those whose art they respect and enjoy. No one should have to twist our arm if people are as good as we say they are. It should come effortlessly. If it doesn’t, we might want to reconsider how much we say we support them. While it might sound good, without actually doing it, we’re not really contributing to the success of the talented Creatives we know.
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