Sunday, October 4, 2015

40 and Fab: Celebrate Your Birthday Even If You Don't Feel Like It

I’m turning 40 this month (s/o to all my Libras!), and I am choosing to celebrate this milestone because life is short and the length of it is not guaranteed. A couple of weeks ago I had a very different mindset. I was stressing out about my job, finding a new apartment, money and pictures. Pictures? You see, I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember and consequently, I’m extremely self-conscious about pictures. I’m not a big selfie person and definitely not a full-body shot person (sorry to all the ashy larrys who make these requests on, but it ain’t happening any time soon). When you go to Vegas with your girlfriends to celebrate your birthday (or anything else), you’re supposed to wear sexy clothes and take lots of pics, right? But I’m already heavy and pictures just make me look even bigger. How am I supposed to enjoy Vegas when I’m freaked about taking pictures with my friends? Obviously my panic about pics just snowballed into anxiety about everything else going wrong in my life and tears soon followed.

I called my mama who reminded me that a birthday is a celebration of life. In nothing else, I should celebrate that I’m still here, healthy and in my right mind. During our talk I was reminded of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. Around this time five years, I was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While doctors will tell you that Hodgkin’s is a very curable cancer, it doesn’t work out that way for everyone. Most of the time I didn’t think I was going to die, but I definitely had my moments (if I told you the Blake Griffin story, you know how scared I was during certain points in my journey). 

After I completed treatment, I was dealt additional blows that I didn’t handle very well. However, like my pastor said recently, I’ve been broken but I’m still blessed. God pulled me through too much to let pics and other worries stand in the way of me feeling good about another year to do great things. We’ve got one life on this earth to live and every year we get should be celebrated for the victory it is.

Wanna get me something for my birthday? Make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

And, if you got anything left over, buy ya girl a drink the next time you see me :) 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lyon Lessons: Empire and the Consequences of Hate (and Predictions for Season 2)

Yes, it's been days since the insane Empire finale, and yet my brain is ignoring my attempts to move on. When this happens the only way to cope is to blog it out.

So, this isn't a recap of what happened (if you don't know by now, kudos to your ability to keep your head in the sand) or a deep-dive analysis of what Empire means for diversity on television or whether the show is  relying on or shattering stereotypes. 

These are my thoughts on lessons learned or reinforced through art. In the case of the Empire finale, and really the whole inaugural season, the overarching theme seems to be you can only hurt people for so long before whatever love, affection or respect they had morphs into the ugly cancerous organism known as hate. In other words, folks go from 0 to 100 real quick when pushed one too many times.

The finale left me feeling some kind of way. Not because there was A LOT going or that the show may not come back until January (time to catch up on  black-ish!), but because the brothers, specifically Hakeem and Andre, are setting up themselves for a war with Jamal. Just a couple of episodes ago, the brothers came together for Andre during his breakdown. Now, they're probably going to break any brotherly bonds they have left. Why? Because they, along with Cookie and Anika, hate Lucious with a capital H.
Loathing Lucious is totally understandable. Let's recap:

Anika: Loved Lucious, despite being cheated on multiple times before Cookie even showed up; Accepted his marriage proposal only to walk in on Lucious taking a bite of Cookie's cookies; Still believed they had a future together before finding out Lucious lied about going back to the cookie jar.

Cookie: Lawd, do we need to even discuss this? "17 years, bitch!" Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Oh, and all the harm Lucious has done to her children, firing her from the company because she dared to explore a relationship with Malcom, killing her cousin, Bunkie , know, that ish. 

Hakeem: He seems to be operating from two wells of hate: He hates his father for sending away the woman he loved and hates Camilla for what he thinks she did (she didn't actually take the money). He also resents being controlled like he's a puppet instead of a young adult, as spoiled and bratty as he may be. Annnnddddd...Lucious promised him the "kingdom" that ultimately went to Jamal.

Andre: Poor Andre. While Jamal got the worst of it physically (being beaten and thrown in the trash can for being gay), Andre got the worst of it mentally and emotionally. On one hand you've got mental illness and a father that refuses to acknowledge it. Don't forget that after Andre's second psychotic break, Lucious doesn't even bother to visit him at the clinic, even at Cookie's insistence. Being a loving father is clearly not a Lucious Lyon strength.  

Then, despite the fact that Andre is smart and developed business acumen in the absence of musical talents, it still isn't good enough for Lucious who sees making music as life's only purpose (uh, OK). Because Andre is not musically inclined, he's ignored by his family and put in a chief financial officer box that he desperately wants to escape. Add to this the fact that Lucious tells him he was never in contention to run the company because he brought a white woman into the family. Andre knows this is BS, and is so devastated that the company he poured his heart and soul into will never be his that he attempts suicide. And then, when Andre tries to forge his own path and get close to God, Lucious sabotages his efforts by offering his spiritual mentor, Michelle, a record contract. Y'all, Andre has been through it!!

Yeah, Lucious tried to apologize when he found out he wasn't dying with jets, money for foundations and whatnot, but those were material gifts that only addressed current  transgressions and not the pain that had been building in the brothers from years of Lucious' selfishness and mistreatment. Once Jamal got the Empire Hakeem and Andre's pain took it's final turn into hate, and the rest is Empire history. 

Hakeem said it best after the epic Cookie/Anika catfight: "We're all here because we hate the same man." That's powerful. Andre, Hakeem and Cookie each stated their desire for Lucious to die at various times in the finale. That's heavy, heartbreaking and horrific. But..Andre, Hakeem, Cookie and Anika are all operating out of a profound sense of hurt and loss. They've been pushed too far, and now the cancer has spread 

Even though these are fictional TV characters, seeing these dynamics play out on screen resonated with me because I've been pushed to the brink of hate with some of my family members and people I trusted. Fortunately I didn't stay there, but I understand how a person can get to that place and take up residence. 

As a Christian, I know hating someone is not godly. I also know that hurt people, hurt people. I've done it and have had it done to me. But, I'm constantly trying not to be the person that causes hurt in the lives of others, especially family and friends. I fall short, but I'm trying. I'm also trying to be more forgiving and more decisive in separating myself from people and situations that aren't good for me. I ain't trying to be like the Lyons. 

OK, now that I've gotten all deep about a TV show, let's have fun and make some predictions for Empire Season 2:

  • Without Vernon, Lucious will get out of jail. Duh!!
  • Once free, Lucifer, I mean Lucious, will be so hell bent on revenge that he'll actually try to kill at least one of his sons. After all Lucious did say during his hallucination, "I kill anyone who crosses me."
  • Lucious' real name is Dwight Walker, and it will mean something for eveyone involved. 
  • The hostile take over will blow up in everyone's face, and the family will lose the company.
  • Jamal's hookup with Ryan in Lucious' office will have negative consequences for him and the company.
  • Tension between Jamal and Andre will grow and may lead to another physical confrontation. 
  • Rhonda's real reason for telling Andre not to call the police will be revealed, and it won't be pretty. 
  • Somebody else will die in the season 2 finale.

What are your predictions?

Lemme know in the comments and stay random,


Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Selma Snub: Why Dismissing DuVernay is a Deal Breaker

Indulge me for a sec....

Today has been...interesting to say the least. On one hand it's a day to remember and reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who was born on this day in 1929. For sorors of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, it's a day to celebrate our 107 years of sisterhood and service. On the other hand, the amazing film, Selma, directed by Soror Ava DuVernay about the King-led Selma marches was snubbed by Oscars thanks to a well-orchestrated smear campaign created by people mad at the fact that LBJ wasn't positioned as the hero of the film. Yes, Selma got Best Picture and Best Original Song nods, but DuVernay and David Oyelowo weren't recognized for their extraordinary work. If you've seen Selma, you know why this is a PROBLEM. 

Basically, DuVernay and Oyelowo were punished for not making a white savior movie. Ava said she wasn't interested in this well-worn path, and apparently being apologetic about it is a no-no.  Let that sink in for a minute. God forbid that Black people actually save and empower themselves on screen...and in real life. Jan. 15, an interesting day indeed. 

Say no to the white savior-loving Oscars and stay random,


Thursday, December 4, 2014

I Can't Breathe. We Can't Breathe: Indict the System that Killed Eric Garner

What can I say about the lack of indictments in the murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown that hasn't already been said? We live in such a sick and hateful society that a father of six can be killed on camera and a grand jury can still decide to believe the murderer's lies rather than the video's veracity.
All because the hatred and fear of Black flesh is so deeply ingrained in the hearts, minds, systems and power structures of this country that Black lives simply don't matter. I don't know how we're going to overcome this, but after these recent events all I know for sure is that: 

How To Get Away With Murder‬ is not just a TV show. I mean how do you not indict when you have the video evidence right in front of you? How do you not indict when the medical examiner rules the death a HOMICIDE? Eric Garner didn't resist and repeatedly said "I can't breathe!" after being placed in an illegal chokehold. HOW DO YOU NOT INDICT?!! It's simple: Racism. White Supremacy. Indifference. Malice. Pick as many as you want. They all fit. 

Words Matter. Use Them Wisely. President Obama is often caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to speaking about race. Additionally, his perspective on race, no doubt shaped by his unique upbringing, has frustrated many who want him to speak truth to power about police brutality and the lack of law enforcement accountability. Many Black people want Obama to go Malcom X and condemn the police for their criminality. However, his lukewarm responses to the Michael Brown non-indictment are proof that we will probably NEVER get the "race man" that some of us hoped for. With all due respect to our president, who is disrespected constantly for the crime of being a Black man, if he won't call this thing what it is, then I'd rather he not say anything else on the matter at all. More action and less talk. A Ferguson-esque speech will absolutely not cut it this time. 

Out of tragedy comes opportunity. If the recent protests prove nothing else, they show that people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. They hurt and break down piece by piece with every new story that follows the same script: Black. Existing. Shot and Killed. No Accountability. When people are pushed to their limits, they push back with demands for change. That's what these protests are all about. People are listening and change is slowly starting to happen. Too bad it's coming too late to save Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and too many others to name. 

Stay woke,

Thursday, November 20, 2014

3 Reasons Why Bill Cosby’s Downfall Hurts

That's a wrap, friend.

After decades in the public eye and reaching icon status, 77-year-old Bill Cosby is being erased from popular culture for possibly being a sexual predator.  Some are asking what took so long, given that rape allegations from more than a dozen women have been around since Andrea Constand filed a lawsuit against Cosby in 2004 for sexual assault.  Thanks to comedian Hannibal Buress calling Cosby a rapist in a stand-up bit that went viral (because rape allegations are only taken seriously when a man co-signs them), questions about the rape allegations were revived, and Cosby’s downfall is now just about complete. Others are asking, “Why now?” even going so far as to suggest illuminati-level conspiracies are at work to “take down” Cosby.

Here’s what we know: Bill Cosby has never been charged with a crime, has settled lawsuits brought by his alleged victims and has never addressed the allegations. However, none of that has stopped Netflix, NBC and TV Land from abandoning his shows, pulling his reruns and giving other entities ample reason to keep their distance.

Bill Cosby, up until recently, was considered America’s “dad” and when dad effs up, it sad and shocking for so many reasons. For example, you realize that: 
Bill Cosby really isn’t Cliff Huxtable

The Cosby Show changed the game by showing African-Americans as something other than the tired stereotypes people were used to seeing on their TV screens. Also, given that the Huxtables were loosely based on Cosby’s own family (Theo, in particular, was based on Cosby’s only son, Ennis, who was murdered in 1997), it was hard to separate Cliff the character from Bill Cosby the man.  The humor, the sweaters, the music…who didn’t want Cliff Huxtable as their dad, uncle, grandpa or third cousin? But, that’s why they call it acting, and even though we knew intellectually that Cliff was a character, many of us put that minor detail aside and got comfy on the couch on Thursdays to see “dad” do his thing. Even dads can have a dark side.

When a lot of people who don’t know each other say the same thing …something in the milk ain’t clean

I try not to take much at face value, so when allegations seemingly come out of nowhere about someone whose record is “clean,” the side-eye is automatic with me.  Everybody has skeletons, some obviously more sinister than others. However, when it comes to serious allegations like sexual assault, and once the number of accusers starts to grow, you start to wonder:  could this person, that I don’t know from a can of paint, but who I like, admire, etc., based on a carefully crafted image really be what he or she is accused of? Unfortunately, the answer is sometimes a resounding “Yes.”

Take for example former NFL player Darren Sharper. Who? He played for the Saints and Vikings, is ridiculously handsome and used to date Gabrielle Union back in the day. He’s also in jail, accused of drugging and raping multiple women, just like Bill Cosby. A single accusation is one thing, but when you’ve got multiple women in different parts of the country saying the same thing...bruh, you did it. Go directly to jail. Shouldn’t we be saying the same thing about Cosby? See, that’s where it gets tricky because when it comes to dads or father figures, even fictional ones, the thought that they could be the opposite of what we believe to be true is unfathomable, even when the number of accusations and their consistency say the opposite.

Actions have consequences, even for the innocent

At this point in time, the women at the center of the Cosby controversy have been and will continue to go through it. Not only are they Cosby’s alleged victims, they’ve also been victimized for decades by powerful people who buried their stories each time they tried to speak their truth and a public that refused to believe them. They’re also being accused of engaging in some sort of sinister plot to ruin Cosby. Rape victims either don’t report or wait to report sexual assaults for various reasons, so stop with all the shaming. Rape culture is real, and it’s terrible.

Lisa Bonet be knowin'
What’s also terrible is that people that had nothing to do with Bill Cosby’s alleged crimes will be judged, scrutinized and punished just for being in his orbit. The cast of the Cosby Show will lose residual income because of the TV Land decision to pull the reruns. People will judge and criticize Camille Cosby for staying with Bill Cosby despite the accusations and known womanizing.  Supporters who tried to ignore the allegations will be put on the spot about their relationship with Cosby and whether it will change. Many people will no longer be able to watch Cosby Show reruns (wherever they can find them) and their positive depictions of Black love and family without feeling “icky,” while others will struggle to separate Cosby’s situation from his sitcom. 

I mean, how can you talk about the greatness and beauty of The Cosby Show without thinking about the ugliness of the rape allegations? As such, the legacy of The Cosby Show and its unique place in pop culture will be either greatly diminished or destroyed because of all this. Basically, everyone will suffer because “dad” wasn’t who we thought he was.

Well, this is what happens when we put people on pedestals and put fingers in our ears when someone tries to tell us something we don’t want to hear. How about we stop doing this so that we won’t be so shocked and hurt the next time this happens? And best believe, this will happen again.

Stay random,

Monday, September 8, 2014

Goodell Has Got to Go

OK, now that I've had time to think about this...Roger "Protect the Shield" Goodell needs to go. It's one thing for a sadistic abuser like Ray Rice to lie and convince himself and his poor wife that what he did was justified. However, for Roger Goodell to 1) see the horrific video, 2) give Rice a slap on the wrist for viciously attacking a woman while talking out of the side of his neck about integrity and codes of conduct, 3) lie to fans, media and everyone about not seeing the full video until today --and just for the record, NO ONE believes that for a second -- 4) and to only do what should have been done MONTHS ago because people finally saw the video takes a special kind of callous indifference towards the women who make up nearly 45% of the NFL fan base. You don't have to punch a woman multiple times like Rice to be a misogynist. In my mind, Goodell is just as twisted as Ray Rice, and if Rice has to go, so should Goodell. Oh, and please ‪#‎PrayforJanay‬ and all women who haven't yet found the strength to get out of abusive situations.

P.S. Keith Olbermann told y'all a month ago that Goodell needed to go, y'all didn't want to listen. Will you listen now? 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Quick rant: Brothers, can we talk about your nasty habits?

First, Happy August! Second, brothers, can we talk? Your public displays of grossness are not acceptable just because you're a man. I know that may come as a shock, but it's true. Hear me out.

Seriously, all the spitting on the ground, blowing things out of your nose, picking your nose (SERIOUSLY????!!!!) scratching yourself down there, not washing your hands after you take a piss, just STOP IT. STOP. IT. NOW. There's no excuse for it, especially if you're a grown ass man. Yeah, I know that someone, maybe even your parents, told you all the things I'm talking about are just things that men do. While that's unfortunate, I'm here to tell you that somebody lied to you. There is no biological reason you have to be gross in public. Therefore, stop being gross. It's really that simple.

We're all going to have to do gross things every now and then because we're human, and there are fascinating yet disgusting things happening in our bodies all the dang time. However the difference between men and women, at least the ones with good home training, is that most women will keep their grossness out of sight. If we absolutely have to do something gross in public, we try our damnedest to do our business quickly and discretely.  Men, not so much. Too many of you don't care where you do it or where it lands. Being gross is more than stomach churning, it's disrespectful and unnecessary. It shows how little you care about yourself and those around you. I can't speak for all women, but that kind of selfishness and disregard is not attractive.

Anywho, glad we could have this chat, and I really hope we don't need to have it again.

Stay random,