On the subject of hit dogs 🐕

I’m struggling with the burden of feeling responsible for the sensibilities of the very people who are responsible for the struggle.

I don’t want to alienate you but I can no longer maintain the lie of the “happy darkie,” the shuckin’ and jivin’ farcical of blackness.

My life is no minstrel show.

Oh Susannah won’t be crying for me because she never cared.

When I was younger, my sisters and I used to go to assisted living facilities and sing for the residents. I sang “Dixie” ignorantly and blithely for the sake of entertainment.

I haven’t figured out whether or not my mama’s friend was cognizant of the bitter irony of three little black girls singing “Dixie ” to groups of white people. Sometimes I blame it on her foreignness–she was Dutch. The cynic in me says she would have to have been tone deaf to not be aware of the controversy and dubious history surrounding the song.

I used to think that my color was a burden and a secret. I felt like I was responsible for my situation and mentioning it was in poor taste. I felt like I just hypersensitive and overthinking things. I wore my sense of otherness like the skin on my back.

In order for racism to be a problem in the 1980s and 1990s it had to be blatant, verbally or physically violent. If it wasn’t shouted or used pejoratively, it didn’t exist. “We Are the World” and all that jazz.

You calling me a “nigger” is you throwing 600 some odd years of your people’s oppression of my people in my face.

But the n-word doesn’t have to be vocalized for me to be cognizant of your true feelings about me.

Telling me to be quiet; accusing me of “playing the race card” or “race baiting” all fit into the category of racism. I didn’t understand how serious it was until I began to realize that people lived and died based on the color of their complexion. Those who complain that “it’s all you talk about,” are complaining from a place of privilege. White privilege.

I cannot separate my life from my color; it’s part of my identity whether I like it or not. No matter where I am or what I am doing, I am a black woman. When I thought that education and articulate speech would distinguish me, I was ridiculed. When I believed that politeness and magnanimity would make me stand out I was reminded. When I felt that branching out of my comfort zone would set me apart I was rebuffed.

After all, if education and articulate speech, politeness and magnanimity were the requirements for black men and women to be viewed respectfully, as people worthy of dignity and compassion then people like Phyllis Wheatley, Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Zara Neale Hurston, W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Marcus Garvey, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde , Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Oprah Winfrey, Octavia Butler and countless others would have transcended the economic, social and political confines of their color and eradication the need for people to protest and fight against the restrictions, discrimination and systemic racism that black people yet face today.

So when I make reference to the elephant in the room and you get upset that I mentioned the huge, leathery, intimidating imposition it creates, I start to wonder who really is the problem here?

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Peace in a bottle

This sense of well-being that is seeping through me
This feeling of having my crown adjusted
Firmly in control where chaos once ruled supreme
My can’ts now cans
My fears now assuaged
The calm after the storm

Something’s Gotta Give

At the touch of a button you have the power to ruin someone’s life…
Far removed from the reality of personal
Where is the end of “Endure until the end?”
When is an untenable situation “too much?”
Asking for a friend.

On the subject of -isms

I’ve come to believe that cognitive dissonance is real
White people cannot understand the privilege their skin bestows—
Just as men cannot comprehend the privilege their penis and testes award them.

But at the same time, they MUST know…
Else why get so angry when aligned with people of color or women?

Why get so angry when confronted with the realities of how the other side lives?

If you don’t see color and you love women,
why care so much when you get compared to a POC or are called a ‘pussy’ ?

Because you know, deep in your soul that if you WERE the other, you’d hate life.

So as a woman who is also a POC, am I owed double indemnity for these “handicaps?”

Black men seem to feel entitled.

Even though black women raise them and sacrifice for them, march for them, go to prison for them, put their lives on the line to support them, many black men feel they have the right to be catered to while they denigrate and double down on systems of degradation learned from “the oppressor.”

If a black woman has the temerity to speak up
Stand down
Or in anyway show her disapproval or disappointment with this state of affairs, she is “tearing down the race.”

Ironic that even though it was the TransAtlantic slave trade that initiated the dismantling of the black family,

The “Welfare Queen” trope is believed by both black men and white men alike.

How visceral and raw is *THAT* for self-hatred?

The wombs that sheltered you and birthed you, the breasts and arms that nourished you and carried you through your helplessness must suffer in silence lest they “bring down the race.”

I keep hearing that I’m too political. But my personal IS political. I’m a POC, a woman, a person with disabilities…. in a climate that tells me I’m doing too much when I object to mistreatment, when I refute cliche’d lies disguised as politeness and decorum and excuses.

How convenient it must be to blame others for the situation you have done little to change.

If it’s “The Man’s” fault and the black woman’s greed and refusal to submit,

Then you can go have a baby with every Brenda in the neighborhood without compunction, guilt or assuming of any responsibilities.

What kinda ashy, ‘hotep bullisht is *THAT*, my brotha?

If you want to be submitted to, stick around for once! Show up—and shoot your *BEST* shot.

Respect your woman—wife her up *BEFORE* you insist she play the lottery with her body and reputation!

Teach your children!
Your lessons teach your sons how to “be a man,” and your love teaches your daughters not to settle for less.

And when you encounter people who haven’t been taught or loved properly, instead of sitting in the seat of the scorner in order to feel superior, sit down, be humble and acknowledge that could be you, any day, *EASILY*.

You cannot ridicule and scorn those who labor under the affliction imposed by the strict and discriminatory standards while simultaneously profiting from the same systemic abuses.

On the subject of -isms

I’ve come to believe that cognitive dissonance is real
White people cannot understand the privilege their skin bestows—
Just as men cannot comprehend the privilege their penis and testes award them.

But at the same time, they MUST know…
Else why get so angry when aligned with people of color or women?

Why get so angry when confronted with the realities of how the other side lives?

If you don’t see color and you love women,
why care so much when you get compared to a POC or are called a ‘pussy’ ?

Because you know, deep in your soul that if you WERE the other, you’d hate life.

So as a woman who is also a POC, am I owed double indemnity for these “handicaps?”

Black men seem to feel entitled.

Even though black women raise them and sacrifice for them, march for them, go to prison for them, put their lives on the line to support them, many black men feel they have the right to be catered to while they denigrate and double down on systems of degradation learned from “the oppressor.”

If a black woman has the temerity to speak up
Stand down
Or in anyway show her disapproval or disappointment with this state of affairs, she is “tearing down the race.”

Ironic that even though it was the TransAtlantic slave trade that initiated the dismantling of the black family,

The “Welfare Queen” trope is believed by both black men and white men alike.

How visceral and raw is *THAT* for self-hatred?

The wombs that sheltered you and birthed you, the breasts and arms that nourished you and carried you through your helplessness must suffer in silence lest they “bring down the race.”

I keep hearing that I’m too political. But my personal IS political. I’m a POC, a woman, a person with disabilities…. in a climate that tells me I’m doing too much when I object to mistreatment, when I refute cliche’d lies disguised as politeness and decorum and excuses.

How convenient it must be to blame others for the situation you have done little to change.

If it’s “The Man’s” fault and the black woman’s greed and refusal to submit,

Then you can go have a baby with every Brenda in the neighborhood without compunction, guilt or assuming of any responsibilities.

What kinda ashy, ‘hotep bullisht is *THAT*, my brotha?

If you want to be submitted to, stick around for once! Show up—and shoot your *BEST* shot.

Respect your woman—wife her up *BEFORE* you insist she play the lottery with her body and reputation!

Teach your children!
Your lessons teach your sons how to “be a man,” and your love teaches your daughters not to settle for less.

And when you encounter people who haven’t been taught or loved properly, instead of sitting in the seat of the scorner in order to feel superior, sit down, be humble and acknowledge that could be you, any day, *EASILY*.

You cannot ridicule and scorn those who labor under the affliction imposed by the strict and discriminatory standards while simultaneously profiting from the same systemic abuses.

MYOB in IHOP

She came over, decked out in red and green tinsel and seasonal cheer

She saw me checking my blood sugar and committed the first of many errors.

“Oh, let’s see, what’s your sugar? If it’s good, you can have whatever you want, but if it’s bad…well, you’re on restrictions. ”

Then she waited for the reading.

Then she yelled out “191!” to everyone in a five mile radius.

What is it with people being rude?!

What is it about people finding it necessary to admonish me in matters of my health?

“One of my husbands was a diabetic, so I know all about it.” She patted my hand in an attempt to….soothe me?

You wouldn’t read someone’s mail or emails or text messages

But you find it okay to insert yourself into my Health-related business.

My numbers are personal.

My numbers are for me and my doctor, period.

I don’t need your judgment, I don’t need your kudos.

191 isn’t even that great of a number, anyway.

Trigger

I’m sick.

I’m always sick, but this is acute, not chronic.

It’s not cute sickness like hair did, nails did, face beat,

It’s pig tails, tank top, leggings, used tissues lying around sickness.

And you’re angry.

You’re delaying my meds.

You’re delaying my meals.

You’re going to parties and making deals.

The logical part of me says I’m transferring past hurt and anger,

The irrational, crusty-nosed watery-eyes part of me says, “It ain’t RIGHT! It just ain’t RIGHT!”

It was more important for you to paint your mama’s shutters than to look after your wife.

It was more important for you to paint your mama’s shutters than to pick up my meds.

I missed a few doses yesterday.

Because of your screwed up priorities.

I’m trying to remain calm and rational but I’m just stunned and hurt.

I already function at a high level of pain and I have realized that it bothers you to be inconvenienced by my struggles.

But I thought surely you would understand that this is different on top of what I already deal with.

This is routine disrupting, highly contagious illness.

And you just don’t get it.

Meanwhile I’m on my back feeling frustrated, neglected and helpless.

You have expectations and desires–well, so do I.

I’m not much feeling like sharing baked goods with someone who can’t help me out when I’m sick;

Who can’t understand why I might be hurt that our break was taken up with work.

Who can’t understand how disappointed I am.

How abandoned and betrayed I felt when I realized that you stayed to play some games.

How even more disappointing it is to feel like you don’t even realize how much you have wounded me.

I’m just lying here, pretending I’m all right.

I’m just rolled up in the blankets like it’s not deja vu.

I’m just thinking here in the dark like it’s not them–it’s you.

In Utero

If there’s one thing my body does well, it’s create and cradle new life. I always knew I wanted to be somebody’s mama. I can vividly remember dressing up in my mom’s housecoat and nightgown and pretending I knew what it would be like to have a baby.

I knew you gave the baby your breast in order to feed it. I knew how to change diapers –and wash cloth ones. That’s what having a semi-crunchy mom and two baby sisters will do for you.

Once my sisters grew too old to be swaddled and too curious to be cute, I started spending as much time as I could with infants I saw at church, on the streets, etc.

I will never forget the ache of being told to go away and not to speak to or touch the baby. Around 15, my desire for a baby intensified. I was thankfully able to think logically about this and made the wise decision not to become pregnant at 15.

Fast forward five-six years later. I’m married to my son’s father. By our 6 month wedding anniversary, I was pregnant.

He wanted me to have an abortion. I couldn’t understand why. I knew I didn’t want to have the procedure. I told him he could leave if he saw fit. I loved my baby before I met him.

Every pregnant milestone I celebrated sent his father deeper and deeper into the doldrums. I welcomed my bouncing baby boy, Chai, the day after Hurricane Frances breezed through Tampa.

And then, for eight years, there was nothing but yearning and sadness and disappointment. Every time I felt those tell-tale twinges in my pelvis, I would hope against hope that new life had taken root deep within me. Every month, I went in search of feminine products with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

Month after month, my body bewitched, bothered, bewildered and ultimately betrayed me with false reactions, ubiquitous symptoms and nothing to show for it besides embarrassment, frustration and bitterness.

And then, in spite of all the odds, it happened. One day, one moment and my long-held hopes were realized: I was enceinte–with child. Between bouts of nausea and vomiting, I exulted in the knowledge that Bridgette was having a baby.

Then, at eight weeks, fear and pinkness froze me in my tracks. The OB said it was a subchorionic hemorrhage–basically bleeding from the placenta left over from implantation. She told me that I’d be fine and more than likely the embryo would be, too. Today, that embryo is my 4.5 year old daughter.

The night she was born, all I could do was cry post-delivery. At last, After the years of deferred hope and nine months of jockeying my health and my unborn’s health against the enemies of asthma, Type 1 diabetes, RA and hypertension, she was here. My Faith. Every doctor’s appointment, every moment of shame, embarrassment and inconvenience had been so worth it. My second miracle babe was nestled safely in my arms; her time to come into the out was finally here.

Four and a half months later, I was feeling odd. Wondering why I was short of breath and nauseous when climbing the stairs. Happily loving on my loquacious eight year old and 4.5 month old chunk of adorable-ness.

He was the one who called my attention to it. I scoffed; what did an eight year old know about lady parts and menstrual cycles? As if!!!!

The first test I took was negative because I took it wrong. I remember shrugging in relief and then realizing that I had dunked it incorrectly. Reasoning that it was probably negative anyway, I dunked it correctly. Bing! A BFP (big fat positive)!

Nah, can’t be right! I told myself. I took another. And another. And another. I probably took at least six tests. I splurged and bought the fancy digital version….all tests showed the same result. After an eight year drought and serious contemplation over my womb’s barren state, I was now preggers for the second time in less than a year.

Guess I’m NOT barren. Oh my God, how am I gonna do this?! I was about to be ushered into the two under two club!!!! I had some mixed feelings about my membership, but I said, “God, if this is how You planned it, You gotta help me through this!”

And indeed, He did. He was there through the morning sickness. He was there through the vexation of dealing with other people’s children while you’re incubating your own. He was there through the horrendous pain and inflammation that is RA during pregnancy before remission. He was there through my endocrinologist leaving the practice. He was there through me having to go on leave a month earlier than planned. He was there through the repeat VSD issue. He was there through prodromal labor that kept me awake at night and made me vomit to no avail. He was there through rides in my pressure when the OBs kept telling me to lie down and rest–while I was waddling around after a crawling nine, ten and eleven month old baby.

And He was there on D-Day, which wasn’t planned, but was very much expected–no April Fool’s baby for moi! My little six-fingered victor, Justice, was my third miracle babe.

It’s been almost four years since we brought Justice home and the reality of two kids who cannot walk upstairs on their own recognizance gobsmacked us squarely in the face. And still, I yearn for one more. I’ve made no secret about this. I’ve tried talking myself out of it, I’ve ridiculed my feelings both alone and aloud. I want an even five. Laughing but very serious.

But due to some little penny ante things such as my husband’s wishes, the state of my health and the health of my bank account–whoops, our bank account–I may never get that starting five.

I’ve been working through the grief for a few years now. I despair of ever seeing its tail end. How do you heal from the loss or grieve for a person you’ve never met except in your dreams?

When I find out, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Gendered Dilemma

After decades of being questioned

Dealing with public and self-inflicted doubt,

I have reached the point of no return.

I have no tolerance for your queries about my judgement,

My patience is too thin for your wonder over how I reach my hypotheses.

It is. What it is.

I demand the same courtesy, the same

insouciant suspension of disbelief I offer you

Down with ridicule,

Strike through gaslighting.

And just as I give you a measure of grace when you’re wrong,

Miss the mark or are misinformed

I expect reciprocity.

The physiological differences between us are not an excuse

I’m nobody’s “sweetheart,” “little girl,” or hapless Child

God, grit and get up and go

Got me where I am today

Not my curves, not my pretty face, not my bedroom eyes

Don’t insult me or my intelligence—

Just know that when I say the dog peed in the crate I know.

No explanation should be necessary.

His blanket is cream and gold so the wet, yellow spots were a dead giveaway;

Not to mention the 10 hours he spent holding it….

I don’t care if this seems petty;

I’ve identified the source of my irritation.

Though you’re the current recipient, you’re not the only culprit.

In the course of my life, my agnostics started with my mother

Afraid of what being wrong might do to her elaborately constructed structure of safety, she mercilessly shot down many of my ideas and hypothetical/rhetorical arguments

Then my first boyfriend who expected me to abandon my gut feelings in order to spare my feelings for him

Lather rinse repeat

Women have doubted me but the doubt from the men in my life packs a powerful misogynistic wallop

So mind my sore spot!

Martyrdom

A thankless job

You never reap the fruits of your labor

Because you are too far gone to appreciate them

Buried six feet under

Literally

Figuratively

You put blood

Sweat

Tears

Into the effort

People forget you’re a person, too

They just expect you to give and give

Like a horn of plenty

Never running out, never needing anything for yourself

That’s what working with the public is like

You go to school and dive into debt

To make enough money to eat ok and live off the street

You earn meaningless degrees so that you can be denigrated

condescended to by others–both in and out your field

In order to be a glorified babysitter whose hourly wage doesn’t even come close to equity

You are blamed for the pitfalls of a system you didn’t create

Even as you struggle to avoid the same perils

Don’t you dare have needs or obligations–those you serve come first!

Your children suffer and lack in order for the essentials of other people’s children to be met

You are shamed and derided for your feelings

Guilted into working hours upon hours for free because “you chose this job,”

No one EVER mentions the free labor.

No one ever acknowledges the lack of support–at times even from the very ones you serve

No one ever admits that you are the expert–as long as someone else who is more of an expert doesn’t show up.

True gratitude goes a long way

Respect is invaluable–

If you can read this, thank a teacher.