Beauty Is Skin Deep

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I’ve always known that black women were secretly coveted by other people, but these instagram “influencers” have taken it too far. Stories have surfaced that reveal the true identity of certain instagram profiles and — surprise, surprise — these young women have adorned themselves with specific make-up, hair and fashion to appear Black — And the public believed them. There are a few points to make here:

 

 

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1). Yes, it’s offensive … and creepy. However, I can’t act as if I am totally surprised. As much as people publicly criticize and hate on black women, deep down they admire our melaninated skin, curvy frames, incredible fashion, and bomb-ass hair styles. We’re amazing and wield our black girl magic with every step we take.

WHO WOULDN”T WANT TO BE US??!!

This goes back to being a kid on the playground and being bullied for looking a certain way, when the cause of all that animosity was ENVY. They want to be us so bad! As the saying goes, “They want to be black, but they don’t really wanna be black”. They wish to enjoy and profit off of everything that we create — off of everything that we are — without wanting to experience or empathize with the black struggle or actually learn anything about black culture. People like this get to profit off of and receive praise for impersonating what I ACTUALLY AM. That is unfair. That is ignorance. That is racial privilege. What’s worse, is that these folks never show remorse for their actions. These incidents never spark enough curiosity within them to ask or find out why something like this is offensive. All they do is give an empty apology — if they give one at all — and go about their lives having learned absolutely nothing. It’s nothing new. All I can say is that I’m so glad that these people were exposed.

 


2). It just goes to show that we all must remember that not everything that is presented to us is real. Therefore, never long to look like or live the lives of anyone you see on social media. You don’t know the truth of who they are or their reality. You can admire someone and respect someone, but never place yourself below anyone. And apparently these “influ-LIARS” have no concept of reality either. After being exposed, one of these women said,

“I’m white and I never claimed to be anything else… I’m NOT a ‘posing’ as a coloured person as you claim…
I do not see myself as anything else than white… I get a deep tan naturally from the sun.”

Sis, come on now! I’m giving her ALLLL the side-eyes. No white person has a tan that runs THAT DEEP all year round.

3). You can admire, respect, and love a culture without the impersonation or the theft. Black culture is so dope and runs so strong in so many countries that you cannot deny our influence, our genius, and our beauty because it is everywhere. These women were mirroring what is cool — and BLACK is cool — but they were doing it in a way that was inauthentic and disrespectful. What would be lovely is if our influence was actually acknowleged and Black people — especially Black women — were given the credit for our beauty and creativity.

But I’m sure this story will eventually die, and soon another similar story will resurrect itself and take its place. And when that happens, I will be right here to re-affirm Black women. I will be here to reaffirm myself.

 

 

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White Women Need To Chill

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It is so easy to believe that the cause of the oppression that black people have endured stemmed from White men. After all it was White & Spanish men who forced us onto boats, and enslaved us. It was White men who created laws that to this day have kept black people socially and economically disenfranchised. It was White men who policed us and abused their power by stripping us of ours.
Being that White women have encountered challenges as a result of living in a patriarchal society and have fought to gain their own power, it is assumed that they would sympathize with the black struggle because they, too, have their own struggle. We also assume that as women, it is more in our nature to extend kindness to others — moreso than our male counterparts.

We were wrong.

Now, are there White women who empathize with our struggle and strongly disagree with the blatant injustice we endure, and have taken action to oppose the cruelty thrown against us by showing compassion & respect? Absolutely. Now, are there White women who could care less about black people? Absolutely.
Throughout our time in America, White women have stood next to White men and have hurled hatred at African Americans with audacity. Over time we have forgotten this hatred due to the strong outcry against sexism and the feminist movement. The focus of their hatred shifted from the Black community to one that prioritized their immediate needs as White women.

 

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But with the many recent news headlines about White women calling the police on Black people, we are reminded that many White women fear and assume the worst about the Black community. When someone fears you as a result of their own ignorance and conditioned hatred they will oppose you and attack you.
By White women calling the cops on Black people — Black men, especially — they are utilizing their white privilege to draw harm towards Black people. We all know that when White women cry wolf and shed crocodile tears, the entire village comes out to assist her and to ward off any perceived negative force that dares to come near her. There is and has always been a priority to protect white womanhood, and White women know that there will always be others who will fight and attack on behalf of them. They can cause harm indirectly.  

Once I read the news of a White woman — Teresa Klein — who falsely accused a 9yr.old boy of SEXUALLY ASSAULTING her and called the police on him, I lost it! 

 

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In my mind, I’m like this is damn near Emmett Till all over again!

Why would a 9yr. old grope you, Teresa?!

What was she expecting the cops to do?! Hand-cuff this poor boy? Place him jail?!
Even if the she was sexually assaulted — which she wasn’t — why not address the boy’s mother?? Because she didn’t want to confront her issue face to face and cowardly called the police to do the confrontation on her behalf. That lady was absolutely insane.

 

 

 

Some of these White women are abusing their power. Whether they are demanding that Black people not have a bbq in the park, or demand that a Black child not sell water on a hot summer day, or whether they are questioning the residence of a Black man and demand him to tell her what his apt. number is, or they secretly barge into a Black man’s residence while off duty and shoot him dead for no reason, it is an abuse of power that stems from fear and privilege. 

 

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What’s even more maddening is that these women don’t see their actions as racist. But it is. They would not call the cops if these children or these men were White and they know it. What’s worse is that they feel no remorse for their transgressions until the world berates them and they are forced to give an empty apology.

And now, we have to hear Megan Kelly’s dumb comments about black face not being offensive.

UGH! This stress!

White women, Listen: Chill the f*%k out.

You wield enough power to cause considerable harm to Black people. Your fear is unwarranted, and rooted in bigotry. You have no right to try and control the actions of any Black person, especially Black people who are causing no harm and are minding their own business. Mind your business, sis.
All of this is a reminder that sexism and racism are separate struggles in the eyes of some White women. Even though injustice is wrong no matter the category it falls under, when some White women are fighting for equality, they are fighting for themselves alone. They will line the streets and protest against the patriarchy, but if a Black woman is assaulted by police or dies while in police custody, they are silent.

Let me clarify that I am in no way branding all White women with these actions. I know that there are White women who are allies to the Black struggle and genuinely care. Unfortunately, the bigots are the ones who are getting attention. I need our White, liberal allies to speak out against such cruelty and show solidarity. As Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

We are all connected. What affects one will affect another. We will never move forward as a country if black people are still considered to be “outsiders” in the land of their birth, or if we are assumed to be “agitators” when in reality we living our lives boldly and without apology — which you feel threatened by.

However, my life is no threat to your life.

So chill the f*%k out.

We have the right to live unapologetically, just like you. We have the right to be here. 

 

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“Ain’t I A Woman?!” : The Murder of Black Women and a World that is too Slow to Respond

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Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman?
Delivered 1851
Women’s Rights Convention, Old Stone Church (since demolished), Akron, Ohio

“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”

 

Nia Wilson Rally March to KTVU Oakland

Nia Wilson was savagely murdered while waiting with her sister to catch a train at Bart Station in Oakland, California. The news of her death spread throughout social media. I learned of her murder through Shaun King’s (@shaunking) Instagram long before I heard about it on any major news platform. (Thank you to Shaun King for spotlighting Black news and for helping to keep us informed about things we wouldn’t otherwise know about).

The buzz of her death eventually made it to national headlines, but that was also due to the fact that Nia’s story wasn’t just being talked about in Black circles, but in white circles as well. White celebrities like Anne Hathaway and Sophia Bush, who have sizable platforms and influence, talked about the horror of this occurrence. Anne Hathaway singled out her white counterparts and called on them to acknowledge their white privilege and to serve as allies against the inhumane treatment against Black people. Her statement was surprising yet greatly appreciated by those in the Black community.

You see, Black death is rarely acknowledged by those outside of the Black community. Our murders, our tragedies, our targeted crimes go unacknowledged and un-announced. Our problems are seen as our own, and our fight against injustice is our fight to face alone. Rarely do people from other communities wish to get involved and offer their voice or their support. So when Anne Hathaway made her comment, it was a pleasant surprise because most white people in her position would remain silent and unbothered. Many in her position usually are unaware that such things are happening — hell, many people regardless of  their position are unaware of these happenings because Black stories are usually not newsworthy unless we are the criminals. 

Despite Nia’s story gaining traction and despite her murderer being caught, as a Black woman I felt sad, scared, and emotionally exhausted. Hers was another Black life taken at the hands of some evil, deranged white man and the world was slow to respond. Had the Black community not expressed our anger, who knows if this story would’ve received any spotlight. Our collective Black cries resounded once again belting out the name of our fallen sistah. And again, I was exhausted — tired of consistently mourning.
Like a lot of Black people, I needed a break. I needed to disconnect from the experience for a little while. But the same questions kept popping into my head:

What has really changed since Sojourner Truth gave her speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in 1851? When will Black women finally be identified by the full weight of their humanity? When will Black Women be a prize worth fighting for in the eyes of the global community?

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The truth is that, in spite of the Me Too movement, the protection of Black women is still not being advocated for with the same force. Both nationally and globally, White femininity and Black femininity are viewed and treated very differently. White femininity is more protected and is treated as something to be revered, and Black femininity is simply not. Black women were often seen by white women as something to define themselves against, and to set themselves apart with higher regard.

Black femininity has not always been associated with womanhood. In the eyes of some, we are not provided the luxury of being viewed as a full woman. This justifies others treating Black women poorly, because in order to treat another human being poorly, you have to see them as something separate from you — as different, as non-human. That’s why when Black women are raped or beaten or kidnapped or killed it is not responded to with the same level of urgency, or treated as serious an offense as it would be if we were white. It’s as if people believe that our bodies were somehow made to handle such brutality — as if we are at fault for our misfortunes — as if we are empty shells that can be tampered with because our shells house nothing valuable … nothing worth saving.  

 
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Well I am not an empty shell. I am a human being. I am a woman. My mere existence means that I am valuable. The lives of Nia Wilson and the lives of all of my sistahs, both in the U.S. and globally, have value. Life itself started in Africa, therefore, to denounce Black women is to denounce the power and the ancestry that begot the rest of humanity. It is time to acknowledge and respect the divine force that is the Black woman.

So, even though I am tired of shouting the fallen names of my sistahs, I will not stop. I know that there will be times where, for my own sanity, I will have to disconnect from the consistent outpouring of sad news. However, I will always return and take my rightful place as my sister’s keeper and call out their names hoping to shake the world awake and into action. However, if the world continues to slumber, at least I know their names will resound within Black communities. And our collective bellow will reach heaven where the names of our sistahs will finally rest amongst the brilliance of the stars. 

 

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Top, L-R: Dr. Sherilyn Gordon-Burroughs, Samyah Copeland, Rashanda Franklin, Kendra Moore, Quanta Nashall Chandler, Shaquenda Walker and mother Deborah Walker, Latonya Robinson Moore. Bottom L-R: Alicia Trotter, Latina Herring, Gale Verner, Shanice Williams.  (photos from Ebony Magazine)

 

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Photos from left, clockwise: Angelica Wysinger, Angelia Mangum, Ke-Erica D. Bolden, Antquonette Hale, Tjhisha Ball, and Korie Hodges. (photos from HandsUpUnited)

… By Whatever Means Necessary

Announcement: F*$k Donald Trump! His mis-calculated actions and lack of compassion, coupled with his ignorance and narcissism are not just deplorable, but also diabolical. I can’t wait until American citizens rise up in aggressive opposition of his heartless policies, cold leadership, and show the world our efforts to be the example that we set out to be.

Viva Obama! …. 1f620

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Deep Breath) Ok friends, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me focus on the real reason for this post:

 

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After the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain (sidenote: I’m still not convinced that Anthony committed suicide and highly suspect foul play, however, I will consider the possibility for the sake of this post) sent the world into shock, the general response was: “You just never know what people are going through”. This is true. You never know what someone else is dealing with, or the state of their mental and emotional health. Unless you’ve had in-depth conversations with that person, one should be slow to judge and not assume anything.

 
But another major lesson as a result of all this is: “Just because you have money does not mean you are happy.” I think this was the realization that shocked people the most. It’s one thing to understand that you never know what someone else is dealing with. However, the general consensus is that whatever you are dealing with in your personal life can be easily resolved with an increase of funds. For the majority of people, their problems are money-related, and they would love to have a fraction of the earnings of these celebrities if it would mean lessening the weight of their financial burdens.
For the majority of people, the thought was: “Why in God’s name would you kill yourself when you have SO MUCH!

 

 

They had everything: booming careers, beautiful homes, fancy cars, designer clothes, the freedom to travel, access to any and everything, and loads of cash. For the majority of people, it simply doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense because we have been conditioned to believe that money equals happiness. Despite the countless suicides of various celebrities, their drug problems, and the public display of mental/emotional breakdowns that can come with fame, the public still believes that money is the key. However, it was something about the deaths of these two people, especially Anthony Bourdain, that seemed to strike a deeper cord with people. Reality was hitting hard. The nation was beginning to see the error of their thinking.

 

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Money is nice, but ultimately it will not give you the peace and the joy you deserve. I think what really gives peace and joy is knowing that you are loved and living out your purpose. This love includes a certain level of self-care that should be made a priority in everyone’s life. It is vital to take care of self. Maybe that means seeing a therapist, going on vacations, being with friends, going to church, engaging in your favorite hobbies, etc. We all must do what we can to keep ourselves full. Operating through this world can easily drain you and you must find a way to re-boot.

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I started thinking about how I implement self-care. One of the things I do, besides engage in favorite activities with close friends, is pray and meditate. I may not meditate on a strict schedule everyday, but I do make time during the week to get quiet and connect with myself. I also listen to music as a way to elevate my energy. Working out has become an important part of my self-care also. I’m not always excited about working out, but I can always feel a physical improvement afterwards. My body just feels better after a good workout. Keeping this blog is an additional part of my self-care. Having a platform such as this to express oneself, regardless of how many people read it, is always a great thing.

 
But the last big thing that I do for self-care is turn off the news. I know that it is important to stay informed, and I do stay abreast of the important events that have taken place. However, I’ve noticed that, especially during these past two years, my energy gets low after watching the news. Especially being African American and hearing report after horrifying report about another unarmed black person getting shot — R.I.P. Antwon Rose — or harassed by cops, and the growing outcry of bigots and racists who insist on “taking the country back” ; my emotional, and mental health must be protected. So I turn the news off. I realize that I have to keep myself full not just for me, but for the young people I teach and motivate. I refuse to pour fear and hopelessness into them. The world supplies them with enough of that. The responsibility I feel for my students can come with pressure but it also demands that I take care of myself so that I can be the best for them. This sense of responsibility has been a great incentive for me to maintain my health.

 
I urge you: Maintain your health friends. The world appears to be getting louder, and the need for introspection is getting greater. You must not allow the world to drown out your inner voice. Take a moment to get quiet and remind yourself of all that you have to be grateful for. Self-care is one of the pieces of armor you will need to maintain your sense of self in an ever changing world. Keep your peace …

… by whatever means necessary. 

 

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Honestly Speaking …

 

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Maybe it’s because I’m an Aries.
Maybe it’s because I’m a black woman.
Maybe it’s because I’ve never been one for pretense.
Maybe it’s because I was raised by Flo Jenkins — communicator extraordinaire.
Maybe it’s because this is simply how God created me.

But biting my tongue was something that didn’t come natural to me. If you ask for my thoughts, I will give them to you straight up and sometimes without a chaser — on occasion you don’t even have to ask. I’ve had this trait ever since I was a toddler. My mother has shared horror stories of how blunt I was as a child. For instance, she told me that she had taken me to the dentist for a routine check-up one day. When the dentist approached me, I looked at him and boldly asserted, “Who the hell are you??”. My mother gasped, and was stupefied. My mother and father did not curse, so she had no idea where I had heard that word from and, more alarmingly, had no idea how I had learned to use the word within the correct social context.

 

black-girl-unicorn-pullover-talking-260nw-1035980143 Another time, she told me that I was out with my father and he took an old weather beaten coat and draped it around my shoulders. I looked at my father, then directed my attention towards that old weather beaten coat and said, “What the hell is this??” Clearly, this coat did not meet my fashion standards at the time…maybe a l was a little bourgeois, lol.

 
Of course, as time went on and I matured, I developed a certain level of tact and emotional intelligence and can speak honestly without emotionally bruising someone. Especially as a motivational speaker, it’s all about being able to deliver words in a way that will uplift and not diminish or shatter a person. I know the power of words, and I understand how to wield them effectively.

 
What I also know about words is when to use them.  Growing up, people coined me as “quiet”, but they often confused “quiet” with “shy”. I have never been shy.  I simply speak when I have something to say.  If I don’t like something, I will voice it. If I feel uncomfortable, I will communicate that. If I don’t understand, I will ask for clarification. If I love something or someone, I will express it as soon as the feeling arises within me. I have grown to really love and be grateful for this personality trait — for this freedom to express myself.  

 

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I’m also grateful to have been born and raised in a country that allows and understands the importance of freedom of speech. Whether you strongly agree with someone’s opinions or not, everyone has the right to say what they think without fear of being legally penalized for it — or at least that was the case until now.

 

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Recently, the NFL and the Trump Administration have decided to penalize and fine athletes who openly kneel during the National Anthem. As an athlete, your only other option is to sit in the locker room until the national anthem is over, but you can not be seen kneeling in public.

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Now, it was one thing for Colin Kaepernik to kneel alone and ostracize him only. But when other NFL players and coaches from different teams started to kneel, and high school football teams across the nation started to kneel, and athletes who played sports other than football started to kneel, and the nation appeared to show unity against the unjust treatment towards and murder of Black Men, that’s when the Trump Administration decided to do what they could to shut down this freedom of expression. What they were really trying to do was silence the black voice specifically. To silence the black experience and the horror of its history in America. What they were trying to do was conceal the large blemish that was tarnishing the nation’s global image as the “land of the free”.

 
They wanted to appease white audiences, donors, and patrons who claimed that a football game was no time to make a political protest, and protect rich white folks from being reminded of the harsh reality of the nation’s most marginalized community — the Black Community.

The Trump administration and their supporters tried to claim that this silent protest was an attack on our country and showed disrespect towards the flag and what it stood for. This, of course, was not true. The intention behind the kneeling was intentionally clouded in untruths to cause anger and resentment.  This was not an attack, these were athletes who, despite being wealthy, could no longer operate under a pretense of indifference. They could not act as though these issues were not affecting them. Kneeling was a way of saying that they were against the senseless and un-ceasing black-endorsed brutality that has plagued this country since its founding. They had to do something, and they chose not to participate in America’s lie. They have a right to publicly disagree and protest.

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The one who really dishonors this flag and what it is SUPPOSED to represent is the NFL and The Trump Administration. What they are doing is actually illegal. They dishonor this nation and keep us in a state of regression while intensifying racial tensions. We felt we had come so far with Obama, and now the world gets to witness the hatred and the blatant contradiction that is embedded in this country and that black people have been keen to since we were brought here. I don’t know whether to appreciate the fact that America is revealing its ugly head or to fear it. 

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My fear is that this will not be the last time this administration will try to silence its citizens. Let’s not forget that before this incident, the Trump Administration tried to curtail The Freedom of The Press and denounce them for, again, revealing the ugly truth about things that were taking place in the white house. Since the beginning of time, those in fear of losing their power have always done what they could to silence truth-sayers and prevent change. This has lead to the murder or imprisonment of our most prolific social leaders: Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Ghandi, etc . We are at a defining point in our history where we get to choose how we want to show up in the world and how we want be remembered by future generations. My hope is that American citizens will fight to be on the right side of history.

 My fear is that people will never be angry enough, or tired enough to rise up and powerfully and consistently show opposition to this injustice. I’m not sure what will happen next.  All I do know is that I will continue to do what I have always done since childhood and that is to say how I feel. I am a responsible word wielder. That responsibility means that I operate with mindfulness, empathy, and compassion. That responsibility also demands that I am forthright and sincere. My intention is to always provide insight—and my speaking out with honesty is a way of doing that.

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I will speak honestly and out loud and point out the contradictions/injustices within my society for this is my duty and my right as an American citizen.

As James Baldwin put it, “ I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

To love someone/something does not mean you turn a blind eye when they do something wrong, it means that you continue to hold them accountable to their actions and force them to rise to the bar that was set because you see the potential in them. It’s about fostering growth, and not enabling poor behavior, or seeing the person you care about hamper their own advancement.

 That is love.

That is true patriotism. 

 

 

I Miss The Old Kanye …

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I miss the old Kanye…

… and apparently, I am not the only one. The level of disappointment that has been expressed from the black community in response to the inconsiderate statements that he has recently made has been considerable.

It feels like it was just yesterday when Kanye’s College Drop Out album came out. I was in high-school and it was the first rap album that I actually purchased with the limited teenage money that I had saved. Up until that point, it was my older brother who provided with rap music from artists like The Fugees, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Busta Rhymes, etc. I enjoyed his music and I enjoyed him as a artist. Kanye felt like a breath of fresh air — someone who was connected with and invested in the black community.

I don’t recognize this new person. The reality of the matter is that people change. The hope, however, is that we evolve into an improved and more self-aware person. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Kanye. He appears more self-conflicted than ever. But instead of taking the time to resolve this confliction, he is spitting out concepts and opinions that are ignorant and un-resolved. Instead of sitting down and figuring out what he wants to express, he uses interviews to rant out thoughts that have not been fleshed out. To have a platform such as his and make declarations that are not based in logic can be dangerous.

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These past two interviews have been the most hurtful and damaging. The TMZ interview where he made his “slavery is a choice” comment was the one that set social media and the news cycles on fire. Whether it’s what he “meant” or not, whether he “mis-spoke” or not, is irrelevant. The point is that he said what he said. No one cares about what he “meant” to say. In all honesty, it didn’t feel like he misspoke at all, but that it had been a thought that he had been chewing on for a while and finally had the opportunity to hawk. Little did he know how much his comment would spark a flame. I am just so glad that TMZ member Van Lathan was there to speak honestly and passionately. I am so glad that he was able to articulate what a lot of black people were feeling in that moment.

Kanye, contrary to his claims, did not demonstrate free thought, but rather idiotic rhetoric.  

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Listen here, Kanye, to be a “slave” literally means that you have NO CHOICE! What you are implying is that black people made a conscious choice to hop onto those slave ships chained and bound, to be stripped of our names, language, culture, and history, to be ripped from our family, to be raped by our massa’s, to have our children sold into slavery, to be beaten, lynched, killed, and then forced to live out the next 400yrs. in un-resloved trauma and fear, while trying to survive in a country that systemically structured society in a way that would blatantly benefit white people and keep black folks in generational poverty. 

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It was a slap in the face to our ancestors who were strong enough and DARED to live long enough to fight and die for the liberties that we don’t appreciate today. I wish Harriet Tubman would rise up and beat you silly. How dare you!

Maybe you should go to Ghana and visit the “Door of No Return” and acknowledge the horror that our ancestors endured.

Not to mention, young kids, who have no idea about the horrors of slavery and the struggle for freedom, will listen to him and believe him. As a teacher, and speaker I have to be the one to go in and further de-program these young minds and speak truth to power. Thank you, Kanye, for making my job that much more difficult.

Boy, Shut up! 

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In addition to that, during his interview with Charlemagne Tha God, he says, “Why we gotta keep bringing up slavery though??”

Nothing pisses me off more than hearing black people tell other black people that we need to “get over slavery” and that it “happened such a long time ago and has no barring on what is going on today.” Sit your Uncle Ruckus butt DOWN! It’s clear to me, that those black people are speaking from some place of privilege, ego, or ignorance. To make such statements lets me know how disconnected they are to the reality of the black experience and that they have no understanding of history and how history impacts the present moment.  
I refuse to “get over” something that I am still feeling the effects of. I refuse to “get over” something that our own government has yet to acknowledge or even apologize for! I refuse to “get over” slavery when I seeing how intentionally disenfranchised my community has been for centuries. I refuse to “get over” slavery, when we have to march and protest and create countless hashtags for my fellow brothers and sisters who were mercilessly shot and killed like animals. I don’t have to get over shit!
If the jews don’t have to get over the holocaust, then I’ll be damned if I have to get over something that effects me everyday.

Boy, Shut up!

It’s interesting how he is implying that we move on from slavery but admits during his interview that “we’re still dealing with racism”. Where do you think racism stems from, Kanye? That’s right — slavery. It’s interesting how he talks about being marginalized as a black rapper in the fashion industry and wants our sympathy, but can not seem to correlate what he’s experiencing as a result of slavery and being intentionally kept out of certain spaces of power or influence. But in all honesty, he’s probably being ostracized in the fashion industry because he’s a little cray-cray and because his fashion ideas are boo-boo. He is not a fashion designer. His clothes look like post apocalyptic-chic. It’s not cute — point, blank, period. 

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During the Charlemagne interview, a Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. comparison was made. Now, I don’t know who in the hell tried to compare Kanye to either one of these instrumental leaders but they were clearly out of their minds. Kanye is no Malcolm X or MLK. But Kanye’s response to this comparison was that was some historical “figures are out-dated”. Really!!! Are you kidding me??!! Meanwhile, he compares himself to Walt Disney and Mark Zuckerberg and other white billionaires. However, these white billionaires aren’t “outdated” but Malcolm X and MLK are? The things that MLK and Malcolm X fought for like justice, equality, safety, and dignity for their people is somehow outdated?! Really, Kanye??!! 

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Guess what, Kanye, you’re the one who is out-dated. You ideas are old and tired, and your concepts are stupid. Sit Down, Sir. You wish your concepts and theories could come close to the brilliance and passion of Malcom X. Malcolm X was no sell- out.

Lastly, during his Charlemagne interview, he talks about “free thought” and being a creator that doesn’t care about and rebels against the status quo. But in the same breath he talks about how he seeks validation from society. Charlemagne asks him why must we seek validation from white people, to which Kanye had no clear answer because he knew he was contradicting himself. Listen, dude, do you want to be mainstream or do you want to rebel against it? Because, right now, you are going back and forth. I will need you make a stance and be consistent.

 
Kanye then talks about how when he sees people sporting brands he sees people who are not free thinkers. Kanye says, “When I see branding, I see insecurity”.
Ummmm correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the same man who is creating a clothing BRAND and shoe BRAND that he wants people to buy and support?! During this same interview, didn’t he talk about how he looked up to Gucci and Tom Ford? WTF Kanye?! Which is it?
So I guess people who rock brands other than yours are the “insecure people?”

Boy, Shut up!

The only insecure person I see here is you, Kanye. Your desperate need for love and validation from the same people that you criticize — like former President Barack Obama — is incredibly clear.

I don’t know if Kanye is truly suffering from mental illness, or if he is actually being calculated in his efforts to create controversy. Either way he needs to sit down. And Kanye being a “musical genius” does not erase the damaging statements he has made. I think Kanye knows better and that is why he is conflicted.
He knows!
He knows that he is not being honest and speaking truth to power like he did with former President George Bush. He knows that he is being hypocritical. He knows that he is not walking his talk. He knows that he has evolved into the same disconnected, fame hungry, attention grabbing celebrity that he often criticized. He’s fake. The black community recognizes this and is serving as his conscious. We are throwing his hypocrisy and lies back in his face and loudly denounce his ideas. We are the therapy that he is trying to avoid. His craziness is a result of the lies he’s told himself , and unless he stops, he will never be at peace.

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No matter how much we miss the old Kanye, I think it’s safe to say that the old Kanye is gone. He will not advocate for us. He will not affirm our plight. He along with every other artist should not be placed on any pedestal. They are human just like us and are subject error. Kanye West is narcissistic, and is drowning in his own delusions of grandeur. He is dying for our attention, and after this stunt he deserves no more of it.

I will not buy what he sells.
My prayers are for his children. How will they ever know who they are if he has lost all understanding of who he is? We can’t count on their mom — Kim Kardashian — to teach them about black life or history. We can’t count on her to expose them to that part of who they are — that was Kanye’s job. Instead, you have two shallow people who lack any depth and can’t see anything past the next shocking headline that they concoct. God Bless their kids, they have my deepest sympathy.

Kanye is in the sunken place and we tried to build a ladder of support to help him free himself, but it looks like Kanye has lost the will to climb any higher and is there to stay. 

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Dirty-Thirty Blues

 

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Sooo, I entered a new decade and turned thirty this year.

I wish I could say that I was excited about it, but I honestly wasn’t. There were a few reasons for my lack of enthusiasm:

1). I think, generally, in our society, to age and to be a woman is often seen as a bad thing. In Our country, a woman aging is the worst thing that could happen. As a woman ages she depreciates in value — for some. Therefore, as women, we do what we can to “stay young”. We exercise, eat certain health foods, we douse ourselves in make-up, get surgery, buy tons of anti-aging creams and anti-wrinkle creams — we do what we can. And to be honest, I felt that turning thirty was the jumping off point where I would start to depreciate in value, and the things that were once vibrant about me would begin to fade in the eyes of others — myself included.

2). I think I would’ve been more enthusiastic if I felt like I had accomplished certain things before I turned 30. I felt like I was not where I wanted to be professionally and financially, and that was a little disheartening. 

 

I felt myself sinking into an emotional and mental slump as I began to re-play self-critiscm, fear, and disappointment like a record in my brain. I knew that I had to change my self-talk fast before I ended up in tears, buried underneath my comforter. 

“Bethanee, stop. This is crazy!”, is what I told myself.

And it was crazy. I had to remind myself that I do have value and that aging is a privilege. There are plenty of people who did not live long enough to even make it to thirty. Especially to age while being a Black person is a great thing, seeing as how our lives are often tragically and unfairly cut short at the hands of someone else. To simply be Black, healthy and alive is a tremendous feat on its own. I think our society has to re-frame the horror story we have attached to “age” and look at it as part of our personal evolution that is beautiful and exciting. 

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And the beautiful thing is that I get to choose. I get to choose how I am going to perceive my age and aging altogether. I get to choose how I am going to feel about it. And I refuse to feel bad and fearful about getting older. I refuse to feel disheartened by something that is out of my control. Instead, I choose to remain excited for all the good that is to come. I choose to remind myself of my worth and my value and that, if anything, my value will be recognized because overtime I have attained skills and nurtured talents that others will appreciate. I am seasoned and have acquired a certain flavor that I didn’t have before… a flavor that only comes with time.
I choose to love and celebrate my body and my beauty at every stage, even when the rest of the world says that I shouldn’t.

I will celebrate.

I choose to be dope and fly up until my final days. I choose to take care of my body and my mind so that I can live my journey with good energy and vitality. I choose to look at aging as a blessing because there is only one other option — death. I am not ready to die any time soon, so my only other option is to live. And to live means to constantly evolve into another year. 

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In regards to being disappointed that I am not in a “certain place” by now, my response to that is, “Who said that I was supposed to be at a ‘certain place’ and where and what exactly is this place?” I think it’s great to have a vision for your future, but it’s also imperative to be flexible with your timeline. I was reminded that not everything goes according to our very strict and sometimes unrealistic, immature, and unforgiving timelines. I had to ask myself, “Is this timeline something that I wanted and designed, or is this timeline something that society (social media) said I should want and have by now?” I had to make sure that I was charting my course according to what was best for me and not anyone else. You must listen to your inner voice—the Higher Voice of God— and get clear.

Sometimes the things that you want for your future are subject to change as you grow. The things you thought you wanted prior, may not be what you want now. Give yourself the freedom to allow your vision to change and or expand. This is what I had to do. What I wanted in my 20’s is different from what I want now. Time has given me clarity.

 
Adjusting your timeline and your expectations can be challenging considering the societal pressure we all feel to succeed, but it has to be at the right time for me. And sometimes what I thought was the best time for me, was, in fact, not the best time for me. I have to be patient with myself. I am my worst critic at times, and I need to be more complimentary. Instead of being ashamed of what I feel has been a lack of progression, I must stop, look back, and remind myself of what I have accomplished thus far and be proud. I need to have faith that I am being guided wisely and that the work I have put in will pay off. 

 
God doesn’t introduce you to something until it’s your season — until you are ready. I can honestly say that I wasn’t as ready then as I am now. I have acquired more wisdom and knowledge. I have grown in self-awareness. I will forever be a work in progress, but I am better now than I was in my 20’s, and I can proclaim this, knowing it’s 100% true.

I’m simply better now than I was then.
And this is how I will look at aging.
I am wine. Time is on my side. 

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I Am Not From Wakanda

 

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I absolutely loved black panther. The thoughtful and beautiful showcase of black people, black beauty, black strength, black ingenuity, unity, and power were real things that few writers and directors prioritized showcasing before. I applaud Marvel, director Ryan Coogler, and all those involved to bring such a project together. This movie made history, but more importantly, it allowed black people, black children to see their image exalted on a major platform. They saw their image reflected back at them in a way that highlighted black people and black culture — african culture — in a positive light.
With that said, I would absolutely love it if Wakanda were a real place, even more so, I would love it if I were ACTUALLY from this amazing country. But here’s the truth —
I am not from Wakanda.
I don’t know what’s been going on, but lately men — black men — have been making comments jokingly suggesting that I am from Wakanda. 

It’s story time.

Story#1: About a week ago, My girlfriend and I decided to go out to this club/lounge in downtown L.A. The lounge was real cool and the crowd there was very diverse. There were latino people, asian people, black people, white people — it was cool. We were all there to get our groove on to some 90’s R&B/Hip-Hop. So there we were — me and my friend — getting our lives on the dance floor, when suddenly I was approached by this white guy who wanted to dance with me — let’s call him Eric. Eric had a really positive vibe about him and he was interested in just having fun and dancing. I welcomed Eric as my dance partner and we had a good time, we danced to, like, five songs which is unusual for me.

Then Eric’s black friend comes up to us and starts dancing with us — let’s call him Michael. After introducing himself, Michael begins to brag about Eric, “Yea my boy here is about to graduate from UCLA Medical School!” I respond, “Wow, that’s awesome, Eric, Congratulations.” Then another R&B jam comes on and Eric and I start dancing again —with Michael standing by. Michael keeps urging me to dance with Eric. However, keep in mind that I’ve been dancing with Eric for the past FIVE SONGS. What Michael really wanted me to do was “back my ass up”. He wanted me to twerk, to break it down on Eric. But I was not about to do that.

Then, gesturing with his arms, Michael says to me, “Come on Wakanda! Come on Wakanda!”
I stopped in disbelief.
Did he … did he just say, “Come on Wakanda!” to me??!! As if that were the motivation I needed to back my ass up on his friend?! Oh, hell naw!
Meanwhile, Eric was so busy getting his life on the dance floor that he didn’t even hear what Michael said. I had two options at this point. 1st option: I could set Michael straight and give him ALL the words he had coming to him. 2nd Option: Ignore Michael and dance with Eric like I had been doing all along. I chose the latter. First of all, it was way too loud in there, and If I were going to read Michael and set him straight, then I needed for him to hear EVERY SINGLE word. Second of all, addressing Michael meant that I would have to disengage with Eric who I was having a good time with, and I didn’t want to kill my own vibe.
But I have time today. So I will address Michael and all the other “Michaels” out there:

1). I would expect that comment to come from an ignorant white person, but not by a black man — someone from my community who shares the same culture, history, and plight as I do in this country. Someone who I would assume would not make a statement like that because they know how dumb that would be.

2). The Black Panther is an awesome project , and the women in the movie are bad asses. So DO NOT associate me with Wakanda unless you are referring to the intelligence, beauty, and strength of black women, which the movie showcased. Do Not associate me with Wakanda in a mocking tone as to suggest that I am some type of caricature from the movie. I am not a caricature. I am not an exaggeration, nor were the women in the film.

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3). As a man — especially a black man — don’t you EVER push me up onto your white friend as if I am some type of black exotic that he should sample or partake of. I am not a sample. I am not some black fetish to promote. I am not here to fulfill some type of black stereotype that would have me twerk or gyrate for your buddy. I am not here to perform or dance for you. I am not on some auction block to be examined. I am no Hottentot Venus. You have me all the way twisted!

4). As my black brother, the hope and the expectation is that you would protect me and stand up for me the way black women have always done for black men. Instead, you subject me to being nothing more than a piece of ass, a body that has less value in the eyes of society and, therefore, gets no respect, no protection, and no love.

5). You are an embarrassment.

Now I don’t want to make it sound like there are no black men out there who wouldn’t protect and value me and other black women. However, there are also men like Michael who simply don’t value us and this read is for them.

This was not the first time a black man used a Wakanda reference with me. Prior to the first story I just mentioned, I had another encounter.

Story #2: It was All-Star weekend here in Los Angeles and I decided to attend a day party that had an Afro-beat theme. I was excited because I really enjoy dancing to Afro-beat music and I knew the DJ well enough to know that the music would be good. Given the theme of the party, there was a large African attendance — Nigerians, Ghanaians, Cameroon, Senegalese, etc. I was walking towards the bar and I was stopped by a Nigerian guy named Uche. Uche stops me and with a pretty thick Nigerian accent he says, “Excuse me, excuse me … but are you from … Wakanda? Me and my friends have been wondering.”

His question caught me off guard and I chuckled a little bit. I told him that I was not from Wakanda and then Uche says, “Me and my friends, we are intimidated, I don’t know why.” I kindly tell Uche that I didn’t know why he was intimidated either, and that it appeared to be a personal problem that he had to reconcile. Uche seemed pleasantly surprised by my answer. He then proceeded to ask for my number. I kindly told him no. He persisted. So I told him I would take his number. We chatted for a bit, he told me he was a doctor, I told him what I did and then after a few minutes of idle talk, I excused myself.

Now the interaction I had with Uche was different than my interaction with Michael. The interaction was different because the energy and the implication behind their comments were different. Michael’s comment associated me with a black female stereotype which prompted that I dance and back my ass up on his friend. Uche’s comment associated me with black womanhood which had to do with beauty and strength. They both connected me to Wakanda, but the consciousness by which they did it was different.

I need my black men to remain conscious of how they interact with black women and to understand that their actions and their words actually MEAN SOMETHING to us. We need their support and love. We need them to have our back. We need them to see us for who we really are: Black Queens.

Stay woke my brothas. 

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Valentine’s Day Special: “I’m Still Here”

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Well, folks, it’s Valentine’s Day. And instead of talking about more pressing issues like police brutality, global warming, the wage gap, or the incessant news coverage of Donald Trump’s stupidity, I have decided — for the sake of my sanity and the desire to unplug from worldly drama — to dedicate this post to Valentine’s Day.

Now, I’ve never paid much attention to Valentine’s Day. Although I appreciate the concept behind it, Valentine’s Day was just another day for me. I mostly looked at it as a commercial holiday and nothing more. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve never celebrated the occasion with anyone I was romantically involved with. This year won’t be any different. I am single, therefore, it will be just me and my single girlfriends choosing to acknowledge the love we have for ourselves and our friendship, rather than anything romantic. 

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For some, it might sound sad. The idea of single women on Valentine’s Day sounds much sadder than the idea of single men on Valentine’s Day. Lord knows how much pressure our global society places on women to have and keep a man. Women are sent daily signals about how our worth is dependent on a man choosing us and publicly claiming us, which, of course, is complete bullshit. Despite the bullshit, it’s hard to ignore the impact this conditioning has on women and our self-esteem. So when Valentine’s Day comes around, and we are still without a “bae”, it can lead to women feeling sorry for themselves and worrying about their romantic futures. I understand, I’ve had those same worries, not because of Valentine’s Day, but just as a result of running into guys that I never fully connected with.

However, don’t cry for me Argentina, because I am not sad about being single on Valentine’s Day. Not having a “boo” has been the least of my concerns. This past year has been such a learning experience for me. Stepping out on faith to lay the foundation for my own business has revealed both my strengths and my weaknesses. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve made great strides, I’ve cried, I’ve doubted myself and the gift God has given me, I’ve met some great people, I’ve considered quitting and going back to a stable job, I’ve cried, and I’ve ugly cried, I’ve considered securing a sugar daddy, and I’ve cried some more. But I’m still here. Granted, I’m not where I want to be, but I’m still here, and I am entering a new level of self-acceptance. I love who I am and that is something worth celebrating.

Growing up, I never had an issue loving myself, but this past year sent my self-love into question. Walking my path as a motivational speaker and dealing with adversity along the way made me question the love I had for myself and my talents. But I have chosen to not only embrace my growing pains, but to also embrace all of who I am: the parts of me that are great and the parts of me that are still in development. I have chosen to see myself in my entirety, proclaim my beauty, understand my perfect imperfections, and love myself again. I choose to love myself unapologetically, and during moments of insecurity, and with more passion than any man professes he can.e88cbf0e412471bc844088ac9b9b5efd--black-women-art-black-girls

I choose me.

I now know that when I thought I was breaking, I was actually shedding the pieces of me that I outgrew. I was having a break-through, not a break-down. I will acknowledge Valentine’s Day and every day henceforth as a day of triumph for self-love, instead of self-loathing. I will toast to this journey, how far I’ve come, and how many times I chose to stand back up after crumbling down. I’m still here.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Cheers! 

 

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A Reputation Scorned

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Ya’ll, I Love Netflix. From binge watching episodes of my favorite shows while eating talenti ice-cream from the container, to catching up on thought-provoking documentaries in the wee hours of the night…Netflix is “bomb”. With that said, I was tuned in to the conversation surrounding comedian Monique and her very public conflict with Netflix regarding the deal they offered her for a comedy special. They presented Monique with a pretty low, insulting deal, and she refused it. In the court of public opinion, everyone has various thoughts on how Monique should’ve handled the situation. Some were on her side while others were not. She was either respected for what she did or heavily criticized — which tends to be how the court of public opinion works. Whether or not you agree with what Monique did is not the focus of this blog post. The focus is, instead, on the importance of one’s reputation.

 

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Monique is a comedy legend with many accolades attached to her name, however, her public beef with members of Hollywood (i.e. Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Lee Daniels, Lions Gate) has tarnished her image in the public eye and to those who would consider working with her. This slander has impacted her livelihood and has made people think twice about doing business with her. Whether or not her tainted reputation is embedded with truth, I see her fighting against this negative image, but to no real avail — and I feel bad for Monique. Not to mention, simply being black and being a woman can be seen as two strikes against you. Sometimes it can be harder for a woman — especially a black woman — to re-claim her image in the public eye than it would be for a man.

 

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But all of this got me nervous about my own reputation and how others perceive me. I am an author, motivational speaker, a new entrepreneur and, of course, the concept of “branding” has been brought to my attention on a few occasions. In my eyes, your brand is your reputation and I started thinking about how I wanted people to view me. Granted, no matter what one does, everyone will not always have the best opinion of you. This is fine because you can’t please everyone at the risk of losing who you are. However, I started thinking about how a lie, a misunderstanding, or someone simply disliking you can have an impact on your reputation — if you allow it.
I feel like the best way to counter a negative opinion is to operate past it. You can’t always stop unfavorable chatter, but you can continue to showcase yourself in a way that best represents who you are. Eventually, the consistent image that you portray of yourself, coupled with consistent action, will strongly oppose all the non-sense that is said about you until it completely over-shadows the gossip. Your good reputation has to be stronger than the negativity, and only you are in control of that. I have to keep in mind that as I continue down this journey of entrepreneurship and motivation, the best thing I can do to thwart any potential slander is to remain true to who I am and be myself. I believe my inner light is equipped with enough brilliance to chase away any darkness.

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