Dear Mr. West

Dear Mr. West,

May I call you Ye?

Hey Ye. I am a fan of yours and have been for over a decade. You are gifted beyond comprehension. You are an innovator and you have pushed the culture since you entered the scene. I consider you to be a major public advocate for black people due to your lyrical content and upbringing.

Earlier this week, you said some things and upset a lot of people. The first comment was about loving Trump. At first, I didn’t know why you would choose to align yourself with him but only when hearing more about your love for the world did I really begin to understand. You said you love every person that has ever lived. Well, that would certainly include Trump. As I move my consciousness into more aware states, I’ve stopped hating people; people who have hurt me and strangers alike. I feel the next step in my progression will be to move from “not hating” to “loving”. So, I get it, or at least I’m hopeful that I’ll get it soon.

The next so-called outrageous comment you made was about slavery being a choice. The public did not want to hear that but I agree. The same way that some slaves chose to escape and rebel, others chose to stay. I’m disappointed that you didn’t further explain your point because you are being crucified alive for stating a fact but I’m more disappointed in the public for not listening to the words you said. Many made assumptions about what they thought your comment meant, and many are wrong. I think most of the confusion comes from people ignoring the definition of the word choice: an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.


What “Slavery Was a Choice” doesn’t mean:

Africans liked slavery

Slavery was an easy choice to make

Running away was easy and didn’t result in death

Africans wanted to participate in slavery

Africans were not mentally/physically manipulated into becoming and remaining enslaved

Colonizers are justified in enslaving Africans

 

What “Slavery Was a Choice” does mean:

When presented with the options of remaining enslaved or attempting to achieve freedom, many enslaved Africans chose to remain enslaved generation after generation.

 

Where is the lie?


 

If folks can acknowledge that some chose to escape and revolt (ie Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Toussaint Louverture, Charles Deslondes to name a few) then why is it such a struggle to understand that the vast majority chose not to? I am certain that people are committed to misunderstanding you. Are black people afraid of the notion of accepting any sort of responsibility in the discourse of our history?

You’re being labeled ignorant, mentally unstable, off your meds, insane, a coon and that you are suffering from Stockholm syndrome. The hashtag #mutekanye is scary to me. People are talking about boycotting your businesses, all because they don’t understand you and maybe they just aren’t ready to understand.

I would like to draw a comparison to a modern idea that may be easier for people to digest. A woman who is a victim of domestic violence has a very difficult decision to make. She can either remain in the relationship and continue to face abuse or she can attempt to leave and potentially face more abuse, financial instability, isolation, homelessness etc. It may not feel like a choice especially when you throw manipulation and lies into the mix and it is a terrifying decision to have to make. It’s like being caught between a rock and a hard place. The options aren’t ideal, but the options are there. Many women chose to stay in an abusive relationship out of fear. Their fear is legitimate and the consequences of their decisions are real.  Similarly, many Africans chose to stay enslaved out of fear. The notion of slavery being a choice doesn’t remove any responsibility from the whites who participated in slavery any more than it removes the responsibility from the abusive husband in the above example. Regardless of the choices made on the part of the victims, the abusive acts were heinous, disgusting and inexcusable.

I believe you were commenting on the choice of many to remain enslaved, not passing judgment on it.

I thought about whether I wanted to share my feelings on this subject. I thought about my new career and how I’m marketing and promoting myself. Do I want to be aligned with someone who is under such scrutiny? Do I want to be brave? Do I want to speak my truth? I saw and felt such a lack of support in your direction, and I had to say something. I am inspired by your bravery.

Thank you for your thought-provoking comments. Be strong for your storm has just begun.

 

 

Sincerely,

Laura Max, a fan, a supporter and an admirer

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God Talk

The most arrogant thought I’ve ever had is that there is no God. See, I’m a cynic by nature and at times painfully sarcastic. I used to get kicks out of telling my elderly, Mississippi born and raised, God-fearing grandmother, that there is no God. Not only was there no God, I would show up to her house for the weekend without any clothes for church, a fact I would conveniently not reveal until Sunday morning. Boy, did her blood boil. Between that and my other comments about never wanting to learn how to cook because my future husband will cook for me, she disapproved of my ideology, to say the least.

When I was 8 years old, my mother died of breast cancer. After her passing, I moved in with my father and step-mother. We loved each other, but somehow the love got lost in translation. Strict rules for a defiant pre-teen, mixed with hurtful words such as “You’re not my mother!”, led to pain for all. I was already a quiet girl, and the loss of my mom led me to talk even less. I was taken to therapy but I just didn’t want to discuss the elephant in the room. I buried feelings of sadness for years and years to come.

I became pregnant with my daughter at the age of 21, which lead to more turbulence on the home front. I was politely asked to go reside where the baby was conceived. The relationship with my daughter’s father, as well as with subsequent men, was nothing short of something very appropriate for a young girl, stumbling around, without having learned how to handle her trauma, and thus causing more.

In my mid-20s I dated a guy and I could have guessed that he wasn’t “The One” if I was being honest with myself, but I wasn’t too invested in authenticity those days. At first, things were different, which meant that things were great. Wow, I thought, I can talk to this guy for hours! We laughed and taught and learned from one another. He was the first man I dated, who I also considered a friend.

The relationship, albeit refreshingly unique compared to those before it, was still riddled with deceit and disappointment. We first met and connected at work but after he started a new job, we began to only see each other monthly, despite living less than an hour away from one another. He would flake on plans, not call back, and not show up. A few years into our relationship, it became clear to him that I was taking things more seriously than he was and it became clear to me that his disruptive behavior was a reflection of his own dissatisfaction in life and that it had very little to do with me. As I began to Google “How to be Happy”, “Tricks for Happiness”, “Helping Loved Ones Through Depression”, he began to end things with me. I was learning these secrets for happiness in order to teach him, not even knowing that I was really teaching myself nor how valuable these lessons would soon be.

The break up was tough. The collapse of ideas I had so longed for, brought me into the darkest days I’ll ever know. Suicide ideation, prescription drug abuse and self-neglect took over for far too long.

Until July 16th, 2014, when I saw the snail. Walking past a Brooklyn bush, there slugged a snail. Small and almost unnoticeable, yet it caught my eye. I snapped a pic and posted it on Instagram with a caption that came to me as my fingers swiped along, “A snail! I declare this a sign of excellent health, prosperity and good fortune because that’s the typa stuff one declares when choosing happiness! Happy Wednesday y’all” I didn’t know I had chosen happiness until the decision was made. And as sneakily as depression cloaked my life, it had been lifted up by this arbitrary symbol of everything I needed. A symbol sent from God, fortified by all I had learned while trying to help my ex.

I do not believe in coincidences. Each person in my life is here for a reason, even when I can’t see what that reason is. Every heartache has taught me as much as I was willing to learn. Meeting a man, who I loved and thought I could save from depression, in turn, saved me from my own hidden depression. I began practicing the things I was intending to teach him. I wrote my Happy Lists. I asked myself what did I enjoy about my day, every day and then I made sure to do those things more often. I complained less and showed gratitude for every. little. thing. Forcefully at first, but then it came as a new way of being.

Afterward, I began proudly calling God by name because I was truly beginning to feel his grace and it was hard to keep in. When I say “Praise God!”, please believe that I am on my knees giving thanks. When I say “Look at God!”, I am truly marveling at his miracles. With God’s help, I can now see blessings that have always been there. With God’s help, I can now see beauty in things and in people where I once saw none. With God’s help, I see that there is God in me, and that I have a purpose and a calling and gifts to share with the world. With God’s help, my eyes, ears and heart stay open to the testimonies of all God’s children, because you never know who will share a word that will change your life.

I will not say that God has completely taken depression from my life. Some days are easier to see light than on others, but through God I don’t miss a single lesson, which gives my pain a purpose. I’m grateful for the storms I’ve endured because they make the sunlight that much more divine and through the grace of God, I am walking on sunshine.

(First posted @ www.link2usmag.com)

Nice For What?

Balance is my absolute favorite word and concept. Its simple. The answer is seldom in this OR that but can commonly be found in this AND that. I love exploring all the various manifestations of balance.

Science and God

Technology and Art

Brute and Brain

Light and Dark

Sweet and Savory

Compassion and Action

Strength and Grace 

Strength and Grace 

Strength and Grace

Strength and Grace

This last one though. I was constantly given the opportunity to exercise a balance between strength and grace and I was failing more than I was succeeding. Weeks ago I sat down to write some profound breakout piece about why and how to balance these two beasts.

This is what came of it…

balance.png

… and that’s all.

I wasn’t feeling very balanced that that day. Or these days in general really. Over the past few months I have experienced such a rush of adrenaline and confidence as I’m bursting into areas of life and myself that I’ve never touched before. I feel powerful and creative and I want to show it off.

Nice for what? Oh hey Drake.

What perfect timing he has. Days after my disaster of an attempt to document strength and grace, Drake releases what I hope will become the 2018 Summer anthem for all women. His video represented every type of boss woman from the board meeting CEO, to the student, to the mommy of two. I got goosebumps when Zoe Saldana was shown with her babies because motherhood is one of the most under and misrepresented hustles of them all. I’m here for this. I thank Drake and his team for developing a voice that is paying homage to the unapologetically strong and ambitious woman.

This song is directed at people who don’t add to your recipe of success and who serve as distractions, at best (sometimes known as f*ck boys). If you’re fortunate enough to have a team, then you understand the importance of their influence on your personal strength. Those who motivate, ground and cheer you on. Our supporters and our contributors. Those who wake up early with us or those patiently waiting for us to get to bed. Behind every strong woman is a team of people who deserve recognition. This song wasn’t about them. My note wasn’t about them either. But shout out to them. 

Love yourself outloud, show off your hard work and accomplishments and don’t let anyone make you feel as though you are shining too brightly for their taste. Your strength and perseverance is changing your life and you may have no idea who else you are motivating. Be a light so that others may also shine…. and thank the lights standing beside you.

How’s that for balance? 

63 through 66

7/17/14

3:42 AM. I lay motionless. Hearing only the steady breathing of my sleeping child. She represented everything right with the world. At six years old she was inquisitive and curious; kind and gentle; energetic yet thoughtful. I never understood how she managed to be balanced in a world so reckless and unreliable. She must have been born with a predisposed tolerance to chaos and madness. I offered her little relief. She is wonderful in spite of her mother, what a resilient little thing.

She inhaled deeply and let out a quiet sigh as she exhaled. Another trickle of sweat rolled down my temple.  63. That’s how many sweat beads had found it’s way from my pores to my now soaked bed sheets by route of my body. Like small well-mannered track stars, who let their opponents finish before they began the same course.

I thought of getting out of bed, taking an ice cold shower, changing the sheets and giving sleep another chance. I thought of how I would need to call out from work again as I certainly was in no condition to rise and shine in three hours and tackle another day in the office. I thought about how I had already called out from work one time each week in the past month and how supervisors were beginning to watch me suspiciously.  I thought about how it was now too late for an Ambien. I thought about how it maybe wasn’t too late to roll and enjoy a blunt. At least then my daughter and I could both enjoy inhalation, although in very different ways.

Food. I should eat. It had been maybe four days since I felt motivated to open my mouth. Chew. Swallow. Repeat. What daunting tasks. This grumbling stomach didn’t make sleep anymore of an achievable goal than explaining to my daughter why bad things happen to good people, why I happened to her.

64. I closed my eyes again, trying to remember a time unlike now. Live in the present, often advice for those seeking happiness but my present was where I wished to be furthest from. The future is unknown and frightening, but the past was a place of certainty, security. Less favorable memories were easy to forget or alter to my liking, which sometimes made life confusing. Confusing yes, but bearable.

65. 66. These two were neck and neck. Hope stretched her arms around my torso, seeking a comforting embrace. All she received was a cold, near lifeless shell where her mother should have been.

 

Baby Baby Please

5/23/16

Baby baby please gimme one more chance. It’s what my last sleeping breath begged of the universe before my eyes opened each morning. One more chance is all I need to get this right. Today will be different. And like all the days before, this one was the same. Poor decisions, letting the wrong people claim love and letting the right ones wait.

Night time was the hardest. Child asleep. House still. Sirens, maybe. Honking probably. Commuters wanting to get through that tunnel; me, wishing I had an ounce of their direction. Countless friends, and oh so lonely. Never a recipient of true love by the definition that felt intended for me, and beginning to believe this was it. Forever.

Baby baby please gimme one more chance. One more chance is all I need to get this right. Night was hard and wrong, it wasn’t for me, yet it was me. I hated that I belonged to the dusk and was terrified of it too.

Wake up.

Get out.

Smile.

Make it back home without pulling out the Kleenex.

Make it home and pull out the Kleenex.

Pop one or pull one.

Sleep.

… and repeat.

Until I saw the snail. Walking past a Brooklyn bush, there slugged a snail. Small and almost unnoticeable yet it caught my eye. I snapped a pic and posted it on Instagram with a caption that came to me as my fingers swiped along,

“A snail! I declare this a sign of excellent health, prosperity and good sex because that’s the typa shit one declares when choosing happiness! Happy Wednesday Y’all”

I didn’t know I had chosen happiness until the decision was made. And as sneakily as depression cloaked my life, it had been lifted up by this arbitrary symbol of everything I needed. Nothing was the same from then on. No more begging for chances to make things right. I would only plead for another day to see the world, to learn more and to love harder. Finally Alive. Finally awake; and awoken by a snail no less, on a Brooklyn bush listening to beggars’ cries.