Adding Stamps to Your Soul Like a Passport

My son told me that Hurricane Harvey reminded him of Noah’s Ark.

My son is 5 years old and I make it my best effort to keep his mind open and free and fun, without clouding it with prejudices and hate.  I am at a point in my life where I want him to be proud of his blackness, but I also feel that the separations of black and white sometimes adds to the disconnect that both sides have.  At times, society assumes that “white pride” equates to racism and “black pride” equates to the struggle and the protest. Neither side is allowed to love themselves without being judged for that love.  So I am caught between involving him in the struggle by emphasizing his pride in his blackness and trying to allow him to be the change I want to see in the world without giving him any head starts on my opinions.

One thing that I have always said is that my issue has never been with white people.  My issue is with the negativity associated with “white supremacy” and the effects that comes along with the bubble of “white privilege”.  I believe that I struggle with this concept wholeheartedly because of my love for humanity on a grand scale.  It is an internal struggle because I feel the emotions of those around me so strongly. I feel so assaulted by hate and discrimination that my fight becomes about discrimination against those who are deemed to have no voice.  In our society, that is people of color, women, people who are part of the LGBT community, and now more recently immigrants and Muslims, to name a few.

However, in my journeys of self discovery, I cannot help but realize that the fight we are having is cosmically and eternally bigger than the color of our skin.  When we consider the fierceness of the world we live in, we realize just how trivial deciding that one person is better than the other because of their complexion, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., really is.

Mother Nature is surely ready to remind us.  Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas in a way no protest or march had the ability to.  Hurricane Irma destroyed 90% of an entire island and has now moved to parts of Florida putting streets fiercely under water.  The 8.2 earthquake in Mexico sent people flying in the air.  However, the United States of America has been under tremendous [man made] pressure since the election of Donald Trump as president, bringing the venom of white supremacy, neo-nazists and KKK members to a head like a dog whistle.  The most painful thing about this is that not all human beings considered to be of white background feel this way.  In fact the only person that died in the protest was a young white woman fighting for the rights of humanity to stand together equally.

But the pain that we are feeling is humanity.  Each person suffers the burden of owning a conscious and having to answer to it, while indulging at times with the dances of the devil.  Some of us enjoy things in life that are considered sinful by whatever religion you are part of and eventually made to answer for those choices, whether in your own subconscious or with an organization of people ready to judge your mistakes.  Many of us have lost hope and essentially lost the dedication to the Creator because of that judgement.  We lose the dedication to the Creator based on the interactions with other humans on their own quest to God.  How we are treated in society allows our minds full of free will to lose hope in God simply because another human is able to get into our heads like Freddy Krueger.

Mother Nature is the gateway to God and will ALWAYS remind us of her universal and cosmic power that is bigger and badder than any man could ever possess. Our respect for one another should be based on the admiration we have for the Creator and what we want out of the life we are blessed with.  No race, gender, color, sexual orientation, religion, etc., is immune to death.  No one can calculate their death because even for people who try to take their life, if God is not ready for you, you will not die no matter how hard you try.

For a 5 year old to understand the concept of the connection between what is going on in the world and comparing a hurricane to an event in religious history, as a grownup society, we are failing.  How we cannot see that this is bigger than our petty differences, which are not even actual differences, is beyond me.  It breaks my heart to see my people so broken for a made up hatred that leads people to be so separated that connections that are supposed to happen cosmically may not even be able to happen.  I was not raised to conform to organized religion, but I do believe that the devil is a liar and his intention is to confuse.  His intention is for you to give in to your diseased desires to taint your soul.  I wholeheartedly believe in a soul and I believe the choices you make throughout whatever journey you are on adds stamps to your soul like a passport.

Be a believer or not, but you cannot discount the experiences you have.  Change your thought process.  Change how you treat people.  Change how you treat animals and nature.  Change how you treat yourself.  Appreciate the process.  Love yourself.  Love your temple.  Bless your temple.  Meditate.  Sit alone.  Hug your children.  Call the people you love.  FORGIVE.  FORGET.  Possess spirituality.  SMILE.  LAUGH. LIVE like it is your last day on Earth.  Love as you have never loved and as though you may never again.  Marinate in every moment, because every moment that passes will never come back around. Judge no one and understand that every ounce of love you deliver is coursing through every atom of your body even when you think you are giving it to someone else.  Use your body as a vehicle of power to ensure that the world is better tomorrow than it was yesterday.  Use your mind to ensure YOU are better tomorrow than you were yesterday.  BE better every second you have a breath.

Banking While Black – Part 1: The Beginning, Post 1865 & The Ice Age Mentality

Black people do not like money.  I have said this before and I will say it again.  I do not care what anyone says to me and I do not care how badly you want to prove me wrong.  Just because you like to make and spend money does not mean you like it.  I am sure someone is rolling their eyes and possibly you are at the point where you want to stop reading this bull.  Hopefully you will take the opportunity to make it to the end to understand what I mean.

The Barter System is a foundational African system.  If you have something that your neighbor wants and your neighbor has something that you want, you would switch.  The abundance of everything on the continent of Africa, (all over), leads to greed being primarily unnecessary.  As humans, each of us has a God-given, born talent and as we share our talents, everyone has the ability to be successful.  In present times, I see people who are good at politics, music, clothing and cooking to name a few and I consider the question – why is money of any significance?  Do not think about how much you enjoy spending money, do not think about what you deserve for working so hard, do not think about what you need to do to leave a great legacy.  Think about the actual purpose of money.  Not too certain, are you?

You work for 40 hours and they tell you that the job you work for, no matter how hard you work is worth, lets say $15 an hour.  You, as an individual, will spend a certain amount of hours doing work for someone else, making them wealthy, and they will give you a paycheck.  You will take that paycheck and pay for your housing, food, clothes, kids school, etc.  How many of you can raise your hand to agree that $40,000 is a living that can be used comfortably with taxes taken out and bill being paid?  I know I certainly cannot.  So let us rewind 152 years and just get a bit of a history lesson on black people and working in this country.

On May 9th, 1865, black slaves in America were considered to be free, against the wishes of Southerners looking to secede from the North. It became “illegal” to own a slave (unless they are duly convicted of a crime of course, 13th Amendment in black and white – no pun intended).  Black people felt a sense of freedom the moment they found out they were no longer to be considered property of white families.  Then reality sets in.  The former black slaves looked around at each other and wondered instantly “where am I going to go?  How am I going to take care of myself and my family”?  The generation of Africans had become the generation of Black Americans and of course at this time they could no longer just go back to Africa.  They were in a place unknown for anything but the enslavement of their bodies, minds and souls.

Okay, so their slave master walked over to them, congregating and discussing what to do next.  He knows that due to the fact that they have not left that they are trying to figure out where to go.  He says to them “So I know y’all are free now, but I also know y’all have nowhere to go.  So I am here to give y’all a break.  Y’all can stay on my land and I will pay y’all.  I will feed and cloth y’all and we will square away the payment at the end of the crop season”.  Ah, yes, that sounds like a great idea, they thought!  We do not have to go anywhere and we will get paid now for what we already know how to do!  And we are free!  So life continues, business as usual, and payment day comes around.  Your old master, now employee, says “Okay, so here is what you have earned minus food, clothing, room & board, and of course taxes, actually, I am showing here that you owe me some money, but don’t worry, we will just add that onto next years crop and you can work a little harder to make up for it.” THAT IS CALLED SHARECROPPING (and modern day overtime!).

Let me translate that into 2017.  You work 40 hours a week and make $15 an hour, getting a paycheck every two weeks.  You may be a two parent household, single mother, single father or one or the other with no children.  Regardless of what you are, you have your own struggles.  Regardless, with that paycheck, you are bringing home $1,200 every two weeks, $2,400 a month (before taxes).  You probably spend close to $1,000 for your rent, $100 for Con Edison (if you turn off your air conditioning and heat), $500 for everything car related, a couple hundred for your credit card bills, $100 for your cell phone, like $300 for food… HOLD ON, thats $2,400 BEFORE TAX, which means that if you have 40% taken out for tax ($960) and an additional $300 taken out for the chump change you put in your 401K and your medical/dental/vision plan, life insurance, etc., hold on, your paycheck is $1,140 and your bills according to what I just wrote add up to $2,200, so you have to cut back.  Your rent is kinda non-negotiable, but you juggle your bills and pay that late fee that your landlord proposes if you pay after the 10th, opt for the bus and trade in your car, stop paying your credit cards and ruin your credit (gotta do what you gotta do, get a prepaid phone for $30 a month and make ramen noodles or get McDonald’s (value menu) for dinner every night. Whew, you now have… $50 extra to your name, to last you until the next time you get paid.  How do you put a couple of extra dollars in your pocket?  Work 50 hours instead of 40, cuz you have to take care of your family and make up for being short for the bills that came due this month.

Maybe you think I am being dramatic.  Maybe you think what I am saying is an exaggeration and that as long as you work hard you will reach the point of success by climbing the corporate ladder of success.  Yay, how has that been working for the MAJORITY of us?  Yea, not too well at all, but WHY?

What is money and why was it created?  Cave Man Syndrome or the Ice Age Syndrome (let me say this, this part is most definitely not an insult, it is a result of Mother Nature, but anyway) shows that the people living during the Ice Age did not have all of the resources they needed to survive.  The one’s who did held onto their resources for dear life and whoever was going to convince them to share needed a damn good bargaining tool.  Ahh, sales people, those car sales people!  You leave out of the car dealership with a car and all the fix-ins, how did that happen?  You didn’t even go in intending to get a car!  But as with the people trying to get something out of their neighbor during the ice age, convincing a fish to buy air became so important.  Not only did you need to convince them to buy NOW, you had to convince them to keep coming back.  They could not barter because the mentality was that no one had enough of anything to continuously share among each other.  Somehow, through the years, the concept of currency took over completely.  The idea that money equals status became King.

As I am writing this, I am trying to figure out exactly HOW money took over.  Like, I cannot even find the words to understand it.  The logical solution for lacking something would be to trade what you have for what you want, but I suppose that would continuously keep everyone one the same level and on the same playing field.  The fear of the Ice Age mentality taking over caused them to crave control and led to the mental manipulation over the people they wanted to control.  Creating an economy with imaginary money that everyone craves because having an abundance of items feeds the human ego.  [Money is 100% about control]

So I say again, Black people do not like money because we do not understand it.  There has never been a time in history where we have needed to partake in the illusion of money – until 1865.  To introduce a people to a concept that is completely foreign to their DNA AND THEN make then feel inferior without it is completely confusing.  Not only is it not part of our DNA, but due to the fact that Black people have never had the chance to recover from slavery, nor have they had a chance to separate themselves from sharecropping, money FEELS GOOD TO HAVE, but apparently not to understand.

Let me say this, money controls white people MORE THAN it controls black people.  White people, racist or not, cannot live without the cushion of money.  They are born with it and continue to make it grow through one of the biggest illusions called the Stock Market (if your money can “disappear” how can you call it real?).  We wonder, how we can get out of this pit called oppression?  I can guarantee you that the best way to get out of this pit called oppression is to understand how to control money.  There is nothing that will speak to white people better than the threat of their money being affected.  NOTHING, not our education, not our unity, not our anger, not our silence, not our protest, if you want a chance at respect, become a financial EXPERT

Banking While Black – Part 2: Post Trump & On the Cusp of Charlottesville, What Are We Going to Do Now? 

 

My Righteous Journey BACK to Self

So I wrote a blog about not watching the news, but I used to watch it every day.  I used to wake up and put my television on ch. 12 (because that is the station that had my local news).  At that time, I was also very vocal about things such as saying Nigga (as a term of endearment), saying Indian instead of Native American (especially if you were saying you were one) and other things of that nature.  I got a lot of push back and I had a lot of people whose eyes would glaze over when my passionate speeches would start.  I remember I got into a heated argument with a girl (actually a very close friend of mine) of Peruvian and Middle Eastern background who felt it was okay to use the word Nigga, even though she didn’t consider herself to be black.  Whew, it was at work in the teller area of the bank and I lit into her.  I let her know that she should not use the word because she would not admit her “of color” background (although I am not a fan of anyone using the word) and then I informed her that the Middle Eastern epithet was actually “sand nigger” (which many people don’t know).

I began feeling lost.  My father was amazing at what he did, but I did not feel strong enough to be able to handle what he handles.  He can handle being threatened with bodily harm and even being hated by his own people at times.  I felt sensitive, unable to keep my emotions from bubbling up throughout my body to take over my common sense (I have since come to realize that it is, in fact, my sensitivity that allows me to be unique in my approach).  I was very torn, because not only was I a strong activist and very particular with my conversations, I am a woman, very light skinned and had a relaxer (not anymore!).  I confused people and with the way our society and community is set up, people of color are quick to judge someone if they are not “black enough”.  I speak what is considered “proper (standard) English” and grew a vast vocabulary due to my love of reading.  So I was different.  I was well aware of the plight of black people and never judged anyone’s situation because I understood how we got to the places where we are, even if I could not partake in it.

But even through all that, I KNEW that I was going to be an activist, until… people began attacking my father on Facebook.  At this point, he had become very well known because of the documentary Hidden Colors that he was in and social media was really taking off, so people have to ability to judge from behind a computer screen.  One person in particular (a few, but the worst one) made it so that I stayed up all hours of the night fighting with dumb people.  And I nearly lost my mind.  I hated the community for trying to bring down a man who dedicated every atom in his body to his people, people who didn’t appreciate him and didn’t even know him!

I deactivated my Facebook and Instagram, stopped watching the news and vowed to only speak unending love and positivity into the world.  I made the mistake of watching the altercation with Sandra Bland and quickly took hold of that before I went off the rails.  I was good and content, completely empty with regards to my purpose, but I was CALM.

I stopped educating people.  I stopped enlightening people.  I stopped BEING MYSELF.  But I didn’t care because I had a new family and that is ALL that mattered!  When Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States of America, I REFUSED to become involved.  The only time I watched the news was when I walked into the kitchen of my job and the only news I really absorbed was the Front Page News on The Breakfast Club on the radio station Power 105.1.  Other than that, I was AWARE but not INVOLVED.

And then Saturday happened.  I went to visit my parents (news lovers) and it was all over.  I sat in my mother’s seat and watch as they played the events over and over and over and over.  And I lost my content-ness.  I lost my complacency.  I lost my comfortability.  Even nerve in my body was alive as I watch hundreds of white, racist, evil “people” march with tiki torches screaming that they were going to take back their land (that they stole from Native Americans by the way).  I had to go back to work that Monday in a place where the black and brown people could be counted on two hands and some of the non-melanated people only talk to us if they need something.  As I was walking to the bathroom, I envision myself running down the hall and out the building the way that man did in the movie Get Out.  It is hard, because there are a number of white people at my job that I really like and with the world that we live in, commingling is sometimes tense.

Something very important that my dad taught me is that not everyone is ready or willing to hear what I have to say. Not everyone is willing to be “woke”.  But the people who are will listen. So I have to stop focusing on the people whose eyes would glaze over and start focusing on the people whose eyes light up!

Angela Rye is really helping me.  She doesn’t know me, but her story is a kinda similar to mine and it feels good to have someone to relate to.  She is a black woman who was judged and made to feel not black enough because of her hair and complexion, who was primarily baffled because her father raised her to be aware.  She is her father’s child and does not apologize for it.  At this point, I am on edge, immensely, but more importantly, I want us to win.  I have come to truly realize if you are silent about your purpose, you are robbing the world.

 

Black Excellence and Virginia

Intro: I put A LOT of information in this blog that is clickable.  If there is anything you find interesting, please click the links and google it if you want more info!  Leave me a comment if there is anything you want me to elaborate on!

So I don’t watch the news because I get too emotionally charged when I see injustices of any kind, but more than anything, injustice against the black community. My dad has dedicated his entire life to the education and betterment of the black community, so for as long as I have been breathing, I have seen an influential black man, dedicated to his community and dedicated to his family.  Like Angela Rye said, I was #bornwoke, “Woke From The Womb”, I had no choice because it’s in my DNA.

Although I stand firm on not watching the news, over the weekend, I went to spend some time with my parents and as soon as I walked in, I was immediately hooked onto what was on the television. It was Saturday in the middle of the day and all I saw on the television was white people with tiki torches.  Additionally, I viewed a car smash into a group of people protesting the racist, neo-nazi, inferior white men (“white supremacists”, but we should stop giving them so much power with our words), killing one young lady named Heather Heyer.

I was devastated, hooked like a fool, as they replayed the scene of the car crash over and over, people flying into the air, the car then reversing and driving away.  I watched as hundreds (thousands?) of white men (I didn’t see women, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t there) marched throughout the town of Virginia with tiki torches, saying they were going to take their country back (a country stolen by the Native Americans by the way).  As a young lady who called in on The Breakfast Club this morning said, we assumed it was old white people who felt this way. Perhaps they grew up during the Civil Rights era and had not gotten over the mentality but that is simply not the case. These were young people, professors at integrated Universities, bankers, business owners, etc. These were people who no longer wear the white hood because they feel that emboldened that they can march and scream white power and NOTHING will happen to them.  They feel emboldened because their president previously said that “if this (at one of his rally’s) happened 40 years ago, they would’ve been taken out on stretchers”.

I have ALWAYS known of the pain of slavery. I went to an African American camp for my entire young life, learning about the best and worst of my community. I watched Rosewood, introduced to what happens when a black man becomes physically involved with a white woman. I saw Sankofa, watching as a black woman who forgot where she came from was thrust back into the world of slavery, I went to see Amistad with my school when I was in the 8th grade. How devastating to see a black woman being treated so badly that she sat on the edge of the boat with her infant child and drop backwards because she would rather die that be taken by these people that looked nothing like her.

I knew of all this. But luckily my father was able to balance it with things such as Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters and the stories of the builders of the pyramids in Kemet (KMT or best known as Egypt).  Luckily my father was able to teach us about the Moors and how they were the original travelers who introduced soap and rubbing alcohol into Europe because before the Moors, that was not something they had. Thankfully, although we knew about slavery, he taught us how to excel, realizing that we would have to be EVEN BETTER to compete with them. And even though he told us the stories of the Bible, he also taught us the African origins of those Western created new religions that slave masters forced onto their slaves.

After Saturday, I’m devastated for so many reasons. I haven’t been able to stop crying and it gets worse when I hear people talking about it.  I don’t want us to be angry, not without a plan anyway. Our anger is not going to bring us together the way it needs to be.  We are taken down when we protest peacefully, so our anger will only destroy everything we try to build.

But it’s hard not to be angry. Riding the train in NYC, I began looking at all of the people and wondering if they were in attendance in Virginia over the weekend. At work, I found it hard to take direction from my non-melanated coworkers, but I don’t have a choice. I realize that until I am in the position to walk away, I have to do what I have to do and I think that is one of the most painful things for me.  A part of me is a humanitarian, driven by the goodness is people, desiring to spend my days on earth surrounded by amazing people, however another part of me is a Black Panther‘s daughter, unable to resist the pull of the fight for freedom and righteousness.

I’m honestly sick of our desire to need approval from a group of people that our ancestors called master. Our abilities to excel exceed our mishaps of failure. It is amazing that we are the bread and butter with every money making venture in the United States (sports, entertainment, music, etc), yet we own none of it. Makes no sense that we choose to go outside of our communities for jewelry, clothes and shoes. Makes no sense that we base our success on how much of their items we can afford to buy (essentially sending their kids to school).  When we have garbage in our neighborhoods, we cry for someone to come clean it. When our girls were missing in DC, we wanted their helping finding them. When we boycott, we “punish” them for a day and go right back.  In 400 years, our people have never been self sufficient.

What are we going to do?  How do we fix this?  How do we remove ourselves from the “barrel” and put our “crabs” back in their natural habitat?  The ability to become self-sufficient is absolutely essential.  Why do we have to be around people who do not want to be around us?  How about we just build within our own communities?  What can we do to move forward?

Buy Black. This has always seemed obvious to me, but I don’t think many people get it.  We still base our success on the things we can afford in their communities. We still use our tax refunds to put their children through college EVEN IF they state PUBLICLY that they don’t want us wearing their items.  WE STILL SPEND $300 ON A BELT BUT ASK OUR PEOPLE FOR A DISCOUNT!  Imagine what would happen if we took all of our money and supported each other?

Don’t boycott white businesses, shop with black businesses.  A few years ago, I got a flyer with a red, black and green flag on it that said “Boycott Black Friday“.  We cheer for this and people were on board. I’m looking at it like, this makes no sense. Why would we BOYCOTT Black Friday? Why do we consistently try to prove to them that we are good enough for them?  Why don’t we focus on our prosperity and focus on building our communities and just disappear, since they hate us so much?!  WHY DO WE CONSTANTLY ASK THEM FOR PERMISSION?! As my dad always said, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was one of the best and worst things to happen to the black community because when that boycott was over, we should have had our own bus company so we wouldn’t have to go back to theirs.

Bank Black.  I’ve been in banking since March 5th, 2007. The intellect of our community with regard to money is nearly non existent. And the way others are able to get over on us is ridiculous. Redlining kept black people from getting mortgages, essentially keeping us out of certain neighborhoods. Yet our black banks are struggling and many of us do not even know that they exist. Why do we beg people who hate us to accept us?

It is going to take dedication to the cause to counteract the horrible actions of others.  Or perhaps we will just learn to love ourselves and lean on ourselves.  Perhaps Donald Trump becoming president was the best thing that happened to the Black community because we are no longer in the dark about how this country really feels about us.

Is It Okay to Use “What You Got” to Get What You Want?

I listen to The Breakfast Club on Power 105.1 nearly every morning. It’s probably the closest I will come to listening to the news. They have interesting guests, some more insightful than others, but always entertaining. A few days so, they had someone named Bernice Burgos on and she stirred up a lot of feelings when it came to the validity of having her on the show.  They have had a number of different kinds of people on their show- Janet Mock, Kodak Black, Jay Z, Angela Rye to name a few, but when they had Bernice on, many of the listeners felt like they went too far. 

I listened to her interview and she spent most of it defending herself.  She was said to have broken up a marriage, slept her way to the top, BUILT her way to the top via body altering surgery and that she is not a woman of substance with anything to offer. So WHAT makes her interview worthy? Is it because she has millions of followers on Instagram or is it because the controversy that surrounds her is buzz worthy?  Being a woman who loves to read and learn, I look at her and wonder if this is the route many of us will have to take in the society in which we live to be successful.  And I try not to judge, because I believe that people have the right to be who they are authentically without being held up to anyone else’s expectations. The concern that I have is when all women are being judged against the actions of a few. My concern is when a teacher makes $40,000 a year while an “Instagram Model” can make 6 figures.  The concern isn’t that this is happening, the concern is that women think they have to change who they are to be successful. The concern is that society judges women based on what is promoted. 

Bernice Burgos spent the whole interview defending herself and trying to prove that she is a good person. While she was talking to Charlamagne, Envy & Angela Yee, she attempted to label herself as an entrepreneur since she is making money, but no one was taking her seriously.  So thus the question “Can you use what you have to get what you want?”

So what is it about people like Bernice Burgos and Lira Galore that can collect 3+ million followers but educational, entrepreneurial woman are considered winning at 10k?!  Not saying that Instagram is the end all and be all of entrepreneurship, but it’s a small representation of what the world thinks. Love & Hip Hop ratings go through the roof while the enlightening shows only hold a spot on YouTube!  Our hearts soar when people like Issa Rae turns YouTube shows (Insecure) into HBO hits because as much as we thrive on drama, QUALITY still tugs at our heart strings.  And THIS is where the dilemma comes in…. When we want quality, but enjoy drama.

I saw this great video by Shelah Marie (below) who said that she doesn’t want to be anyone’s role model. Not because she wasn’t worthy of the title (in my opinion) but because she is human and when we put people on the pedestal of “role model”, as soon as that person makes an error, everything positive they have done becomes discredited- null and void.  I’m watching this video like, noooo Shelah so is a role model, but when I really think about it, she is human, bleeding the same as you and me.  And how she describes it is probably the best way I have heard it explained.  She’s bad ass, does yoga and is conscious but also, as she mentions, “listens to trap music, uses curse words and posts ‘thirst traps'”  

Please don't put your faith in me. — #soulstudywithshelah — Let's talk about it on IG live tonight 10PM EST.

A post shared by theshelahmarie (@theshelahmarie) on

In my opinion, a woman has the right to embrace and “enhance” whatever part of her body she wants to because it is her body. I’m not against or for surgery or “enhancements” in so many words because I do not feel that as another person, created by the same God, I have the right to judge anyone or tell anyone what to do. My only desire is to educate women (and men) to know that they have other options. And the other options may include enhancing their bodies, but falling in love with themselves simultaneously.

I enjoy educating others, but I feel like making a entrepreneurial living on education is nearly impossible.  With the overwhelming interest in shows such Love & Hip Hop, it’s hard to think that people want anything but drama.  What are we suppose to tell our daughters who want to excel in society without showing off their bodies, but don’t feel like they will get love and attention without doing so?  How do we get our society to respect and embrace women and their bodies while appreciating it at the same time?  I’ve seen people such as Aisha Thalia on Instagram who is very free with her body, but shows it in a different way than someone considered an “IG model”. She shows it in a way that makes a woman love what she has inside and out and feel closer to God and nature while doing so.  What is the difference!?  How do we know the difference between a woman who abuses the use of her body and someone who loves their body and believes it should be respected as a work of art?

How do you teach people to love themselves while also teaching them to BE themselves and do what makes them happy?  What does it all mean? Does it mean that we can do and say what we want simply because we have free will or does it mean that we should mind our own business?  I’m not really sure what it means, but I think that once we reach a certain mature age we should be able to do what makes us happy and comfortable in the world. If you feel beautiful with makeup, wear makeup. If you feel beautiful with a weave, wear a weave. If you have enough money to safely enhance your body, then do that. But I think the best take away would be to encourage more self love, regardless of any alterations. The only time it is sad for a person to alter their bodies is when they hate who they are and what they look like.  That negativity is impacting how young people are growing up without giving them the opportunity to have a chance to love themselves. If someone loves the person you are when you transform and not the person who you are when you wake up, that is the concern. If you feel that because of today’s standard of beauty that you cannot be out in the world authentically, that is where I become concerned. The time of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is a hidden thing, with real love behind closed doors and trophy love on “the Gram”. The visual of you and your partner has to be “Barbie & Ken”, even if you barely know Ken’s last name. And when “Barbie” gets ready for bed, she becomes a whole other person. What could that be doing to our minds and our self esteem? How can you feel good if the person that you see in the mirror isn’t who you actually are?  Becoming used to that person makes it very hard to even look in the mirror. I know personally, whenever I wear mascara and eye shadow consistently, if I do not have it on, I feel like I look tired and rundown. But now, since I haven’t wore it in about a month, I no longer see that tired rundown person, I see myself.  How can I (societally speaking) see “myself” when I don’t know who MYSELF is?  

Sometimes, we try so hard to love and hate everything around us to delay the process of loving ourselves.  I try to fix everything around me so strongly that when I try to love myself, that feeling is equivalent to what I would imagine it feels like to get electrocuted. Sometimes I write these blogs as therapy, hoping what I say with become concrete in my own head.  It is always easier to help other people than to help ourselves, getting so wrapped up in others, that the easiest way out is to CHANGE who we are.  Real fears are failure because I am not judging but also not willing to use what I have physically to get what I want.  It is my hope that who each and every one of us are authentically will allow us to be successful, regardless of what happens within the society and the world.  It is my hope personally that I am able to continue to fully embrace everything I am and share that with the world.

Till next time 🙂

-Sasha Madeline

Rich Brain, Poor Brain

If your mind is poor, I don’t care how much money you have, you will always feel poor.  The poor man’s mentality is fascinating because it comes out so smoothly that you don’t even realize it is something negative.

I do a lot of my thinking and observing on the train during rush hour in NYC. So many people crammed into one train car, drinking coffee, dreading Monday, living for Friday and praying that they win the lottery, even though most of us do not even play! Living paycheck to paycheck and even though we know the paycheck comes to our account every two weeks, WE STILL CALL OURSELVES BROKE….

Anybody that really knows me knows I love Google, so I decided to put ‘broke’ in my search engine to see what would come out and here is what I got:

broke
brōk/
  1. 1.
    past (and archaic past participle) of break.

adjective

informal
  1. 1
    having completely run out of money.
    “many farmers went broke”
    synonyms: penniless, moneyless, bankruptinsolvent, ruined, down-and-out, without a penny to one’s name, without a cent, without one red cent, without two pennies to rub together

Okay, I’m no rocket scientist but if you get money every week or every two weeks, how can you be broke?  Especially if you have the same 24 hours as everyone else.  The list of synonyms was actually painful to read….

So yesterday, a couple of my friends and I had a conversation about the comedian Kevin Hart, his old wife, his new wife and how he (allegedly) might be cheating on her (the conversation got heated, but that is something for another day).  We started talking about how he (allegedly) totally screwed his first wife who ‘held him down” before he was a household name and that because of whatever they signed, she was getting nothing monetarily.  Somehow we moved on to the topic of a prenup and I said “what is wrong with a prenup, what if you want to protect yourself?”  One of my friends said she didn’t have anything so what difference did it make?  I told her she didn’t know what would happen in 5 years and she said she’d be in the same place she was today. I was thoroughly taken aback by her comment to be honest. She said she would be in the same place in 5 years because she was in the same place 5 years ago…. That’s a mentality that I just cannot comprehend, no matter how much I love ya like a sister! The person I was talking to has a great personality, but wow, I didn’t expect that response. She is one of the hardest working and organized people I have ever met and if she chose to do something else, she would excel. But it was a perfect addition to what I was trying to say with this piece. How can anyone predict where they will be in 5 years unless they plan to either do absolutely nothing or they plan to remain in the same state of mind without making a shred of effort to make a change. Why is being mediocre, and sometimes less than mediocre, something we allow to remain in our lives for even a moment?  Why would you want to live your life knowing that you will never improve, simply because you never have before?!  Especially if you work at your current job with the effort like you own the company?

Most of us work at our jobs like we are owners and CEOs of these companies. We don’t use our sick days because if we take a day off all hell will break loose. Nothing will get done because you are the backbone of your company, yet every time your direct deposit hits, you are crying broke!  I cannot say that I have always had an abundance of money, but saying I was broke went against everything I believed in.

I remember hearing Swizz Beatz on the radio talking about the Business Ownership classes he was taking at Harvard University.  The one thing that resonated with me was when he said (I am paraphrasing) that one of the most important and beneficial things a business owner can do is hire a manager because a manager will work hard for a company because the title makes it feel like it is their company.  In these companies that we work for, we are made to feel special simply because if we feel special, we will deal with whatever nonsense we are thrown.  We will deal with feeling broke every two weeks because of the letters after your name on your business card.   And even if you are NOT broke, your job makes you feel broke because sometimes the taxes are greater than the net pay!

I am going to share 4 concepts that will allow you to reform the financial part of your brain, shift the way you think, and allow you to feel more in control of your money – in turn making you feel wealthier.  The only way for these ideas to work is if you want to make them work and if you are willing to understand that changing your mentality will change how you feel about your bank account.

Being broke is mental, not physical.  The desire to be wealthy and the ability to love money without being controlled by it is more permanent that having a lot of money.  I can almost guarantee that once you feel like you have money, you will begin to actually have more money.  I do understand the concept of misery loves company and I know some people will not do anything to make themselves happy no matter how much sense it makes, but I will say that if you are reading this and you want to make a change DO NOT SHARE YOUR POSITIVITY WITH NAYSAYERS (unless you know they want to change as well.  That negativity is contagious!) Money comes and goes, but that money savvy mentality last FOREVA (in my Cardi B voice).

As long as you pay your bills and save money, live your life like you are rich.  This is two-fold.  In order for this to work, you have to have a good budgeting plan and stick to it (Click here for the budget worksheet that will go along with this principle) If you try to save money and spend it before it has cooled in your savings account, it will be very painful to wait those next two weeks for your paycheck to roll around again.  Once you get in the groove of your savings, allow yourself to spend money on things you like.  Do not make yourself feel guilty about buying that bag or those cute shoes.  Knowing that your bills are paid and you have a little money saved will allow you to feel more in control of your mental, your life and your money.  You do not have to save a significant amount of money or spend $700 on a pair of Louboutins, so even if you only put $50 in your savings and you spend $30 on a pair of shoes, it will be freeing to know you can do it!

DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR GROSS SALARY!  Miracle worker, I am telling you!  Try to not even look at your paycheck unless the amount that goes into your account looks off.  The control that you will feel knowing what you have to spend is amazing to be honest and looking at how much they take out in taxes and other deductions will ruin your mood.  Any followers of the Law of Attraction know that once you start talking about your downfalls, more downfalls will come.

Do things that make you feel wealthy. I am not saying do it all the time, and this is only after you pay your bills and save a little something.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  It could be getting a latte from Starbucks or going on a cruise.  Speaking of cruises, LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING!  I felt like I was on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous on that cruise!  If I could go on a cruise once a year for the rest of my life, I would be HAPPY!  But it does not matter what you do.  Have a picnic in the park or a family barbecue on the beach, just do something.  Even if you just sip red wine out of a really big wine glass while watching Scandal :-), it is, as most things are, mental.

Life is too short to half ass it.  No one knows from one second to the next whether or not they will live to see another sunrise or spend another dollar.  Everyone has a right to live how they want, whether it is positive or negative, however, for those of us who want to make a positive change, before you can change your pocket, you need to change your mentality.  I do not even say I have a “lack of funds”, I simply flow with the moments until I receive my next dollar (which is not a very great span of time because of my mentality).  We FORGET how strong our minds are.  We ignore how delicate our emotions are and we abuse the sensitive parts of our minds.  We have the nerve to blame God, our environment or our parents when it only takes a few thoughts or even a good song to change our mood.  

Look out for a budget worksheet because I want all of us to lose this Poor Man’s Mentality!  Till next week!

Legacy, Legacy, Legacy, Legacy….

Most people of color don’t even know what this means. I got the idea for this week’s blog from Jay Z’s album 4:44.  I was so excited when I heard it because he talked about a lot of things I grew up learning.  And I thought, finally, a mainstream artist was saying the things the black community needed to hear.  I thought for sure we were on the road to recovery.  Then I started hearing what other rappers had to say.  I read negative comments on Instagram from every day people and I became disappointed. He was talking about the use of the “N’ word, legacies, how credit can help our communities, etc. and all Snoop Dogg or Snoop Lion had to say was “I don’t have Tidal anyway” and that he would bootleg it until it came out on iTunes.  DISAPPOINTING.  Jay-Z said “you run this hard just to stay in place”.  Our community spends BILLIONS of dollars a year on items OUTSIDE of our communities.  Walk through any black and brown neighborhood and count the CHINESE restaurants, pizza shops and Texas Burgers you can find and I bet you will need more than two hands (I live in NYC btw).

Sometimes it feels like we don’t even want nice things. HUSTLING AND HAVING NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IN THE END IS A WASTE OF TIME.  IF YOUR KIDS GROW UP AND STILL HAVE TO HUSTLE, YOU HAVE WASTED YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.  We hustle so hard we forget what we are hustling for. We hustle for that fire we feel when we get some zeros in our account but to work for your zeros shouldn’t be #goals. Hustling to have the zeros work for you should be the goal.  That sounds so cliche, but the fact of the matter is that our people are literally DYIN for dollars. High blood pressure and heart attacks mixed with our bad diets is a recipe for disaster and death.  We work so hard that by the time we get home, it’s Popeyes for dinner. Surely if they wanted to take us out, they would put in the Big Mac or some Popeyes chicken!  But we are taking ourselves out cuz I’m sure the chicken and beef they tell us is in that meat probably isn’t meat at all. This piece is about leaving a legacy, but I’m going to share something for a moment of y’all don’t mind.

We don’t like to get organic food because we think it is too expensive and we refuse to shop at Whole Foods because of the high prices, but let me share this. Whole Foods Market has a brand called “365” that is cheaper than what you pay at many supermarkets. This brand also offers organic products, still cheaper than what you pay at many local supermarkets.  In addition to that, for those of us that have EBT cards, I can tell you from doing a part time gig there, you can use your EBT card to purchase ANY food (except hot food, of course)…. lastly, if you are going to purchase meat, you might as well get the best kind. We buy all this crap at Western Beef or whatever your equivalent is depending on where you live and don’t realize that the healthier you eat the less food you need to consume…. you eat a lot because of the chemicals they put in bad food (makes you crave more of it), not cuz you are actually hungry!  (ALSO REMEMBER THEY GAVE THE SLAVES THE WORST PARTS OF THE MEAT, WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY ARE PUTTING IN OUR SUPERMARKETS!?)

Now let’s get back to the legacy.

I said earlier that if you hustle all your life and your child still has to hustle, you have wasted your entire life…. But it what we are taught to do.  We are taught to get an education, get a “good job with benefits” and retire at 65.  JUST SO Y’ALL KNOW, THAT IS MODERN DAY SHARECROPPING (after slavery ended, slaves worked on the land they were enslaved on until the end of the crop season, but never really get paid cuz the former slave master had to “take money out your pay for room, board, food, etc”).  By the time you reach 65, you have collected so much debt, pay the minimum on all credit cards and still have a mortgage.  Now you have to keep working until you can live comfortably, which will most likely stress you out and lead to high blood pressure and heart attacks….. Ah, what a vicious cycle!  On sharecropping, I remember seeing the scene in Roots when slavery “ended”.  Everyone was jumping around excited about being free, but they are “free in America”, a place most of them were born but were not from, where they own nothing and barely own their freedom at this point.  Fast forward 152 years (Yup, we have only been free 152 years) AND WE STILL OWN NOTHING AND BARELY OWN OUR FREEDOM.

Why do we own nothing?  How do we physically have the same hours in the day as every other culture and we own NOTHING?  How do we dominate sports, entertainment, hip hop and so many other multi billion dollar industries but have nothing but a few dollars to show for it? MENTALITY.  Why do we hate people like Jay Z, Beyonce, and Oprah who have made it instead of taking their ideas and following in their foot steps? Crabs in a Barrel, but that ain’t none of my business tho.

Ok, so for arguments sake, lets say there are 2000 black people in your neighborhood and each person gets $7,000 in February for the tax season.  Your community is circulating $14,000,000.00 dollars.  For arguments sake, lets say each person only gets $3,000.  That is still $6 million dollars!  Where the hell is our money going?  Why do we not own houses or other properties?  Why do we have to BEG other people to come into our neighborhoods to clean it?

When we go into family restaurants or stores of people of other cultures, it is almost guaranteed that you will find children around or involved.  Why do we think this is?  They are grooming their children to take over, yet we barely want to take our children to work for Take Your Child To Work Day!  The motto of many of our families was that the children were to be “seen and not heard”, so how do our children figure out how the world works? We are taught and teach our children to not explore and not ask questions and to simply do as they are told.  While no child should be disrespectful, it is important for the child to be able to cultivate their knowledge of how the world works.  Have conversations with your child so when they are ready to go out in the world, they have the confidence to compete with people who have been learning to be successful all their lives.

What are some things we can do immediately to begin building up our community to start legacies?  Below, I listed four things that can be done to give our people and start and build up the confidence of the black community.  Please comment below or on my Instagram @msSavvySasha if you have any other ideas!

Buy Black. Start supporting each other.  Italian neighborhoods have primarily Italian restaurants.  China Town has authentic Chinese food.  Indian neighborhoods have Indian restaurants.  Black neighborhoods have Chinese restaurants, pizza shops and “chicken spots”.  Only place I can find soul food is Harlem, NY (which is presently undergoing gentrification, but that is a topic for another day!)  If you cannot find a black owned business for something you need in your life, CREATE ONE.

Stop maxing out your credit cards.  Many people max out their credit cards during the year and come tax refund time, they use that money to back their credit cards and other debt they have accumulated during the year or years.  Try to make larger payments during the year to cards you do have so when large amounts of money come in, you can save a larger amount as opposed to having to pay it all back.

Stop buying luxury items with your tax money.  Louis will be just fine without you and Gucci will be “gucci”.  It is fascinating how much we are willing to spend proving to each other that we have coins, yet no one is willing to invest that money to make more money in the future.  Nas said in him song Nas Album Done that we are spending our money to put their kids through college and when you think about it, if we didn’t spend all that money outside our community, our kids wouldn’t need to spend so much money paying back their student loans!

Have tax refund checks go into a stand-alone savings not connected to your checking account.  Preferably an online account because it normally takes two business days for the money to be transferred and by the time it gets to your account, you may not need it anymore.  It gives you more time realize why you shouldn’t be spending the money and will have a better chance of transferring it back as opposed to if it connected to your checking account where you can transfer and spend it right away while standing on the line at Macy’s!

A legacy is much bigger than the four recommendations I just laid out, but at this point, we ALL need to start somewhere.  We have too much money circulating our community to feel and be considered so poor.  TO BE CONSIDERED POOR brings me to next weeks blog Thinking Poor:  The Poor Person’s Mentality and Why it is Ruining Our Financial Future.

-Sasha Madeline