This Is Us

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"I'm having a hard time reconciling going about my business while knowing there are babies out there that will not remember their parents because they were too young for them to have memories at the time they were stolen." I typed up this status message earlier because, I am without proper words and I don't really give a damn about the clean laundry I just brought in from the garage. Or the stack of mail that needs sorting. As my girl gave me endless hugs before bedtime, I almost lost it. I imagined her being ripped away from my side, her throat hoarse from her screams. I thought of her on a mat on the floor, cold and alone wondering why I hadn't come to get her. 

I imagine the heartbreak and excruciating pain of not having her by my side and having no idea where she had been taken. Of leaving her behind and not knowing if I'd ever see her again.

That's what thousands of children are now experiencing. What mothers now have to live through.

Let's be VERY VERY clear on something. This isn't about upholding a policy. Upholding policy would have those families deported back to their home country, together.

We can talk about what it means to seek asylum later. Because some of y'all also seem to be confused on that one.

There are all kinds of "they shouldn't have come here illegally" comments. People have varying degrees of knowledge on the law but, that's never stopped anyone from jumping on the bandwagon.

What We Know For Sure

This country was built on the cruel practice of tearing families part.

Enslaved mothers were torn from their children at the auction block regularly.

Native American children sent to boarding schools when in fact, they were taken in order to address what back then was referred to as "Indian problem".

THIS. IS. US.

I wanted to think that we had learned, grown, respected and understood history. But that's a whole ass lie!

And a good amount of folks are running around here talmbout "we're better than this!" SINCE WHEN?

When in the fuck did we collectively decide to 1. forget everything we learned or b. not even bothered with the actual history of this country?!

They came here illegally? They aren't "supposed" to be here? Neither were your ancestors and yet they landed on these shores and made themselves right at home!

But okay, let's break that one down, Janet. They came here illegally. They can be sent back, right? What is the purpose of stealing their children (because let's face it, that's what it is) and sending them back alone. There are THOUSANDS of children in custody of the American government at this time because the American government. took. these. kids. away. from. their. parents. Plain and simple.

Oh and for good measure, no one is really keeping track of who is taken from whom. Let that sink in. THERE IS NO PROCESS/PROCEDURE THAT TRACKS ADULTS AND THE CHILDREN THAT ARE TAKEN FROM THEM. Because, as the New Yorker reported, there's no actual plan to reunite these kids with their parents.

Go ahead, tell me about what the bible says about that. I'll hold...

How dare people forget that THIS IS WHO WE ARE. This is the collective EUUUNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Welcome! So glad you could make it. Grab a damn pamphlet and read up on what the fuck your people have been doing since the dawn of time.

I don't want to hear another word about "this isn't us". I don't want to read another comment about people not following the law.

If you think that it's okay for children to be pulled off of a mother while breastfeeding and put in some detention center while the mother gets sent back to the home country she was fleeing from, you have a lot more to think about than your political stance.

Related: allow me to call on all you Christians who have remained quiet during this time. Your church, your pastor, your deacon, the ushers, ERRBODY can go to hell for that one.

I guess we should always remember that no one ever expect the Spanish inquisition, right?

I don't know if we can survive this. I don't know if we can get to the other side of this mountain. I just don't know.

In spite of this crushing feeling in the pit of my stomach, I know we have to keep trying. If for no other reason than to set the example for our children.

Resources

Here's a list of resources you can use to help spread the word. I'll share more as more things get planned and organized. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as I tend to share deets there.  In the meantime, I hope you find this useful.

Blog Posts:

Hashtags: #FamiliesBelongTogether | #ProtectFamilies

Petition Pages: Family Separation Petition (English) | Family Separation Petition (Spanish)

For Colored Girls Looking for Hair Products When SheaMoisture Isn't Enough

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Where do we begin? I guess in the middle because we don't have time for in depth history lessons. Yesterday, SheaMoisture dropped an ad that had everyone talking. Black women were outraged. I will say that not all women felt this way.

The layers and depth of this discussion are too much to cover in one blog post. But, let me say this: this country has a history of erasing Black women and if you don't understand what that means you are either 1. not a Black woman or b. have not been taught this history because...see erasure.

For years, SheaMoisture has been a brand focused solely on Black hair. SheaMoisture also picked up an investor in 2015. We cheered it on because hey, growth for a Black business, right?

Personally, I started feeling like it was no longer "my" brand when I attended conferences and noticed there were no products for curly hair. I legit chucked it up to "they're diversifying their brand and bringing something new to the table" which is always a good thing. I'm not knocking their hustle and was really trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The problem with the ad is that it showcases 2 white women and a woman of color with curly hair. That's it. They could've showcased one woman with tight/kinky curls, no? But wait, there's more.

The topic? Hair hate. This white woman fixed her face on camera to say she hated being a red head for a long time and decided to go blonde for years. Um...what?!

For women and girls who have experienced threats of expulsions from school, criticism & legal discrimination in the workplace, and more, this ad made no damn sense. Hair hate? How do you even write that out and don't include our darker 4a/b/c sisters in the mix?

And here's where the erasure comes in. For years, Black women have been erased in this country. Out of the history books, out of the wins in activism, hell, out of their own humanity. Now, a company that so many Black women have supported over the years appears to be quietly exiting stage left toward their newfound market of white women.

I watched Dr. Joy DeGruy break this topic down in relation to women's health and breastfeeding (if you don't follow her, do. And get her books). And I got a chance to see my best friend build her dissertation specifically around the topic of hair in women of African descent. The erasure is real. Dr. Rosado's research showed that, solely based on hair (style, texture, etc), women would be categorized as more or less educated, making more or less money and even assigned as Christian or non-Christian. Based. On. Hair. Let that sink in.

Click the image to check out the insightful interview on hair

Fast forward to this ad. I'm not hatin' on SheaMoisture for trying to get their coins. I just wish that they'd included the people that got them here. Dammit, if we are going to go with this everybody gets love then let's show it! I mean, it's great that Becky was hating her red hair and suddenly loves it now that she's found SheaMoisture BUT, how about you talk to that woman that that was told she wasn't beautiful because her hair was kinky or nappy or whatever other word was used (greña is the word used in Dominican Republic)? Can you showcase what got us to this point? What built your company up to what it was at the point in which you acquired an investor? Can we?

Even with all the hair love I give my child, I still battle what she sees outchea in these streets. I work hard to make sure she loves her hair and I'm sorry but the "hair struggle" looks different when your hair is out here looking like every damn model on the newsstand.

The erasure is there. Whether intentional or not. I wish that SM had kept it real, put in some of the sistahs that purchased their product all these years and told all of their friends to buy them. The ones that suddenly can't walk into a SM booth at a conference and find anything for themselves. The ones who bought into the brand with their dollars and loyalty.

And for those that don't get what the big deal is, I invite you to do a gut check in your own communities and circles as I have no doubt you'll find the erasure of Black women such commonplace there, it might not even have registered.

For those of you looking to purchase products now that SheaMoisture isn't enough, I invite you to head on over to my girl Aaronica's page. She's put together a nice list of 9 Natural Hair Products to replace the Shea in your shower.

And for the record, yes, SheaMoisture apologized after the backlash but, I don't think colored girls feel it's enough.

The Morning-After Pill

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You know you have to take it because, well, it's the morning after and mistakes were made last night. But you don't want to. Because you know that taking the pill will solidify what took place. You'll be admitting the mistake. It's not easy walking in to the store, is it? Hanging your head a little. Maybe pulling up your collar or keeping your shades on so as not to be recognized. But you have to do it. You have to roll in to the pharmacy section. But, you're not going to give your position away by just walking to that aisle. Nope.

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You meander in the shampoo section, picking up a bottle and reading ingredients that you give no fux about. You stroll over to the cards and wonder if you should buy one while you're here. You grab one by happenstance and then walk as if you had no purpose but deep down you do.

The aisle is filled with things that you normally buy. Tampons, pads, pantiliners. The regular feminine items that we are already shamed with. You barely look at the package. You barely register that there might be more than one brand. You grab it from your periphery and head to the counter to pay while grabbing another item you don't even need in order to mask the mistake before running to your car.

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You don't take the pill in your car because again, that'd be admitting the mistake, right? Driving home you rationalize it to yourself. What you did. The consequences of your actions. But it's okay! It. Is. Okay. For God's sake! You live in the good ol' U S of A and you can buy this pill. This pill that will take your worries away. That will definitely erase the thing that you did. And no one has to know.


I wonder if that's what 53% of white women are feeling today. How are they justifying giving the Presidency of these United States to a megalomaniac and tyrant who doesn't really care about them? I wonder.

And before you get on your high horse, don't step into my spaces and center yourself by telling me that you didn't vote for him or that you were outchea wearing that pantsuit. Don't.

Here's why: I know some AMAZING white women that have put in blood, sweat and tears for the cause. These women wake up and do the work day in and day out. I'm additionally pissed off on their behalf that they have to now be associated witcho ass for making this happen. Don't center yourself in that argument.

Don't walk into the store (aka social spaces or office) and act like you didn't make that mistake last night. OWN IT. Stand up, sister. You used your voice in a way that you thought needed to be used, right?

Tell me, what are we going to do now? What happens now? How is this resolved?

Because the thing is, that unlike a night of hawt amazing secks, you didn't just get yourself fucked, you got us all fucked right along with you. Minus all the good and amazing feelings that should go along with that. And we can't hide from that as easily as you can disguise yourself in the spaces you occupy.

No, I am not interested in you breaking down the minority vote. I've seen the numbers. I'm interested in you taking this pill this morning, without regret. Tell me why?!

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And you better hurry up because if things go the way that Trump is saying it's going to go, that morning after pill might not be available for much longer.

I'm WitHERed: Election Fatigue and White Privilege

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It's the eve of the election. If you're reading this in the future, "the" election is probably something you know about. Do you need a year? Let's see...it's 2016. We have a talking head from reality TV resembling the color of Fanta that's been left out in the sun too long spewing hate that is too reminiscent of Hitler himself. As Luvvie says, he's basically Hitler's mentee. I mean...y'all! What in the world?!

And yet there's nothing he can say that will turn his supporters away! Walls to keep Mexicans out? No problem. Tracking Muslims in this country? Sure. Grabbing a White woman by the pussy?

Wait. A. Damn. Minute!

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Oh now you want to distance yourself. Chile! I can't. We could peel that onion but it's only gonna make you cry.

As the weeks have gone by, I've felt white women climbing on to that pedestal. Looking forward to winning the White House tomorrow and fully expecting the Black and Brown vote to deliver that into their hands. And yet...I've seen conversations attempting to crush the voices of women of color as they've pointed out the historical facts around the suffragettes and their blatant racism as a reason for why we won't be wearing white.

Instead of listening, we find that, once again, white women are centering themselves in this story and providing all of the tears needed to quench a Florida-day-in-July's thirst.

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This was best illustrated today when Kelly Wickham Hurst (fellow disruptor, badass and professional burner of all the shit that is not serving us) critiqued an article written by the dispenser of previously mentioned white tears. What ensued was the type of erasure, dismissal and butt hurt that I'm afraid we've all grown to know all too well.

But such is life. It's reminiscent of the hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen circa 2013.

I'm not happy with this election. Not happy at all. I looked at my options. I thought of the history of elections and most specifically Florida in 2000 (I might still need therapy over that one). And, I specifically thought of the air of fear that mixes in with the humidity here in the south. The one that you can taste, feel and not name.

This election scares the hell out of me. I'm sure a lot of you feel the same but, I don't think it's for the same reason. I'm not worried about what happens on November 8th as much as I am worried about the lingering hate, apathy and cognitive dissonance that has bubbled up over this last year.

My brother texted me the hashtag #ImwitHERed and I thought it was perfection in the face of how I feel. Dare I generalize? How many people of color feel about this election cycle?

Have you ever tried to put boiling water back in the teapot? You can't. It either has evaporated or, if you try to touch it, it will burn. And I'm very worried about who is going to burn as white women wear their white pantsuits in memory of suffragettes that would rather lose limbs than give a person of color the vote, celebrate their victory and forget about the votes that got them there.

But, hasn't that been the general MO? I'm not surprised. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a tad bit disappointed.

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*this post contains an affiliate link

On F******g Up Someone's Hair

Friends, can we talk? Like really, really talk. I have to get something off my chest. This week, I had a bit of PTSD after watching a video from the Today Show and a Black woman's hair being molested on national television while folks watched like it was okay. It wasn't. Joeline Payton did us the favor of bringing this injustice to light:

Here is Malyia in all her glory and there's her hair being dismantled in a way that we can only dream that racism will be.

I was on the phone past midnight with my girl Keka talmbout this fuckshit. Excuse my language. You know I don't curse often on the blog but dammit, it is necessary.

Keka and I had a battle of what this was. It went something like:

Me: dis whatchu look like when you go to sleep with no sleep cap, on cotton sheets and get in a night fight with a blind cat. Keka: dis what happens when you lay your hair just right and fight the humidity in the Florida heat of August. Me: dis whatchu get when you have menopausal night sweats and your dog sleeps on your head.

You get the picture, right?

This was beyond disrespectful. Where they do that at and at what point in time did she think "this is a great idea"? I cackled when I read something in the video comments about how this was revenge because a Black woman stole her man. I mean, seriously. I don't wish this on anyone. Okay, I'm lying. I can think of a few people that I've said petty prayers for that equate to this hairstyle.

This video reminded me of an episode I experienced a couple of years back at a blog event that took us to a Dry Bar in Ohio. There we were, after being asked to sit at specific stations. And here comes Marge (I don't remember her name due to the trauma and inability to slap the shit out of her because I'm a professional!). She looks at me and says "you're not supposed to be sitting here".

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What. In. The. Hell?!

She said that because she had no idea what to do with my hair. And here's the thing: had Marge been all "holy shit I'm sorry but I'm not entirely sure what to do with this mane" I would've gotten my ass up or possibly shown her what to do. But she did not. She told me I wasn't supposed to be there.

And this brought out the petty in me. I could have gotten up. But I didn't. I let her attempt to do something with my hair because...why not? I didn't have anywhere to be at the moment and I'd had a glass of wine. So, Marge, let's see what you can do.

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She did not apologize for what she said (and she didn't say it just once). Marge actually left to double check to make sure that I was at the right station. I sipped my wine.

Marge spent the next 30 minutes giving me a bullshit pretend braid while "gushing" about how beautiful my hair was. I let her sit in that discomfort for as long as I could because why not? I did mention it to the PR people that I was working with because while there were only 3 of us in that group with curly hair, I didn't think they needed any more of this business (the shop had been closed exclusively to pamper us and I'm sure it was not cheap).

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Fast forward to this bullshit video. No. I cannot. Let's not do this again. Mmmkay? If you DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THIS HAIR, DO NOT TOUCH IT. Let's just go with that the next time. Excuse me while I book my appointment with the therapist to review this shit.

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5 Prince Quotes That Give You Life

I was leaving an in-person meeting and jumping on a conference call meeting when someone casually mentioned a rumor. I jumped on the book of faces and asked folks to update me as I'd been away from the interwebs for a few hours. As more and more folks shared the same information, I was still in disbelief and put my disbelief out there for the world to see.

Of course, we now know it is true. I spent the day kinda numb. Focusing on work and calls and the to do list. Cracking jokes about how good this man would look and how he'd give us the judgmental look even from the casket. You know the one I'm talmbout.

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My eyes got misty as I drove home with the Frog Princess. Fully understanding that I don't expose her enough to "my music" and "the good ol' days". And of course, as is often the case, something finally broke me.

Denene's post in remembrance of him is what finally did it. She saw him in Atlanta last week. 

 

It was my first time. It was #Prince's last. No one knew this when he appeared on the Fox Theater stage in Atlanta, his huge Afro magnified, larger than life, on the stage screen. There was a splash of purple. And then there was Prince, bowing and waving and then strutting with his bedazzled walking stick to the piano and the microphone, the only accompaniments to his lush voice. He opened with a song with which we weren't familiar--"When Will We Be Paid," a powerful song about Black struggle, recorded in 1970 by The Staple Singers. Nick and I listened, gape-jawed: Prince, this high-heeled wonder, flamboyant, unapologetically sexual, deliciously mischievous, was demanding reparations. With one hand on the piano keys, the other balled into a fist raised in the air. In this audience of a multitude of races, cultures, backgrounds, sexualities, genders, Prince was making it plain: He is Black as hell. We were here for it. And then, for the next 90 minutes, Prince led us in a meditation of a mesmerizing mix of incredible music: sensuous, sultry, thoughtful, ass-moving hits that struck deep down to the heart. To the soul. That was his way. Three encores later, he gave us what we waited breathlessly for: a slow, beautiful, acoustic version of "Purple Rain." Of course, we sang along with him. From the gut. The entire room, pulsing with emotion for this man, this icon, whose art is forever etched on our hearts. This was my first. This was his last. Unbelievable. Unbelievably grateful. Thank you, Prince, for your art. For your courage. For your diamonds and your pearls. For your love. #Prince4Ever ????

A photo posted by Denene Millner (@mybrownbaby) on

Prince was the one guy on my bucket list. I wanted to see him in concert and I told myself that yes, y'all, I'd be that groupie. Lawd! He could have all the panties in the drawer and then some! 

But words, y'all. The power of the words. 

I am a lover of words. But when someone can use them in a way to torture your soul, kill it, resuscitate it and take it back one more time?! That's transcendent. When someone can play a riff on his guitar that will make your eyeballs instantaneously produce tears while your heart beats as if the rhythm was one? That's a religious experience. And when someone can wear the hell out of whatever it is that he decided would suit his mood or condition and give absolutely zero fux about you or your petty threads? That's ethereal.

That. Is. Prince.

So it's no wonder that there are words from songs that stick out (every time I think about dropping "dearly beloved" into this post, my eyeballs start leaking), pierce our souls, transport us in one keynote to a time and place and bring back all of the emotions of the moment. And of course, Prince left us with lyrics but here are some of my favorite quotes.

Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful.

Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful. Prince quotes that give you life.

Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.

Prince quotes that give you life. Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.

They say money won't buy you happiness. But it'll pay for the search.

Prince quotes that give you life. They say money won't buy you happiness. But it'll pay for the search.

 

There are no accidents. And if there are, it's up to us to look at them as something else. And that bravery is what creates new flowers.

Prince quotes that give you life. There are no accidents. And if there are, it's up to us to look at them as something else. And that bravery is what creates new flowers.

 

A strong spirit transcends rules.

Prince quotes that give you life. A strong spirit transcends rules.

I'd tell you to rest but we all know better. Rock In Peace, beautiful one. Play on playa. Play on in heaven.

The Many Feels Over Essena O'Neill

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Disclosure: I was asked by Tap Influence to give my thoughts and opinions on this subject. And sure enough, these popped right out of my brain. I heard about Essena O'Neill from my sister (what with me living under a rock and all, I'd never heard of her before). She shared a post on FB about it and it caught my attention. The headlines caught my eye and kept me reading.

If you have been living under the rock next to mine, let me bring you up to speed. She is 18, a model and social media celebrity with hundreds of thousands of followers who up and quit social media this week. Those followers have garnered her plenty of sponsored posts which is precisely what she was attempting to point out.

Off down the rabbit hole I went to articles, pictures and videos of Essena. I'm still processing my thoughts, if I am to be very honest. But here are some top of mind items that flashed through my gray matter upon seeing her video explaining why she was quitting social media.

The Mother In Me Thought...

Bless her heart! It is great that she is able to recognize and understand these things she's speaking of. Like self worth and security. I also wonder where her parents have been all this time because while we all enjoy likes/comments/followers/shares, we all know that these people don't really know us, right? Where was she in the life cycle that she missed the self-esteem train?

The Psychologist In Me Pondered...

As to how it was that this child handed her self esteem over to her Instagram account. Where they do that at?! I am so frightened for our young people sometimes. What was missing from Maslow's hierarchy of needs? What wasn't she given that had her thinking that it was all well and good for her to depend on the likes and comments of folks to fulfill her and make her happy.

Again, where's the supervision? I don't know her story (see rock comment above) but we do understand that teens we need structure and guidance and that we nee to make sure that we not only monitor social media in general (especially if it's part of a job/career) but that we are instilling in our children the type of confidence that is not built on a house of e-cards.

The Activist In Me...immediately recognized the privilege associated with being able to drop what is supposed to be a job and loosely tie it to this sudden aha moment relating to how those things you were paid for don't really matter. Interesting. Because as an influencer...

I don't take sponsored posts that I'm not on board with. I've left money on the table because I don't wish to write about a certain brand.  I'm open to trying new things but if it's not a brand that I believe in or can get on board with, why bother?

For you to be able to get on a video and show sponsored Instagram posts telling folks about how doctored they were...really?!

Because the last time I checked, even folks that aren't getting paid to post do some of that. I think I had a hard time swallowing this idea that social media isn't "real" because she had insecurity issues about her body and wanted to be liked by others.

If it's taking you hundreds of shots to get one that you think is the right one then, news flash! The problem is not social media. The problem is you, my dear.

Here's Yanira. She got this in 3 shots and then waddled her beautiful pregnant behind to the dentist. Because that's what us real people on social media do. We shoot and we keep it moving.

Photo credit: YaniraGarza.com

Yes I want to beat her because, how is she that perfect? You know how? CONFIDENCE! That's all radiating from the inside. And it makes me say "yes, bish, yassss!" every time. I am here for it! Getchu sommadis, Essena. It'll make life beautiful.

Also: I have only met Yanira twice at 2 conferences and the last time I hardly saw her. But she's a confidant, a business partner, a sounding board and a rock in my life. I can name others as well. It's what happens when you're authentic on social.

Yes, we product place when taking shots, we make sure that the lighting is right, we want to show you all the very best possible image. If you were at work, you wouldn't want to turn in a crappy report would you? You wouldn't want your presentation to be lackluster and boring. The fact that we are working in this space does not negate that this is, in fact, work!

Granted, apparently, it's work that Essena felt she had to walk away from in order to feel good about herself. To that, the coach in me says...More power to her!

But don't try to force feed me the excuse that you want to "reveal" the evils of social media after you've raked in all kinds of money from them. Essena is not revealing some new deep truth that we didn't know. Social: take it with a grain of salt. Period.

Get a therapist to handle the issues you have going on, sit in your privilege which allowed you to walk away from a paying job which is something that MANY of us would never be able to do. Though some of us walked away from corporate America to do what we love so, maybe we would do it again if we didn't love this work anymore. Which is part of it right? Does she really love what she does?

Also, you announce this on social, you "delete" your accounts, your following increases, you hint at another website in your announcement AND then, as I write this post, I see something pop up in my newsfeed that your friends are saying this is a publicity hoax.

I'm reminded of the do, re, mi song. And it brings you back to do, do, do, do. Except in this case it's more like doh, doh, doh, doh.

Don't believe the hype, people. Social is as real as you make it. It's a reflection of you. If you're fake, guess what social media will be?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of TapInfluence . The opinions and text are all mine.