HATE – by Delina Hill-Brooker

HATE.JPG

Hate, a simple four letter word that is so powerful and strong. Hate, the direct opposite of love, and if love is the strongest power in the world, how powerful is hate? A lot of things have been happening recently, from things in the world and thing that have personally affected me and my loved ones.

You would think that since we are so evolved with all of this technology and access to information we would be more evolved and accepting of others who are different. Even if we do not agree in the things, to react with hatred moves us in the opposite direction.
Instead of disowning, harming and belittling others who are different, why can’t we simply let them be?
I’ve been debating on what to write about in the blog for about two weeks. Initially I was going to talk about Donald Trump and the hateful comments that he spews out of his mouth as well as a lot of his followers, but I decided that wouldn’t be productive or helpful, so I just sat on it. Shortly later I heard from my friend, her son…who just so happens to be a homosexual had become a victim of a hate crime.

Imagine waking up to boiling hot water being poured on you because you were a homosexual, Black, White, female, male WHATEVER. There is never any just cause for this type of violence.

I won’t go into more detail because I’m attaching the link of a Go Fund Me account and the full story is there. If you know the family or not, I’m sure you can empathize with their situation. If you are able to help, please do, if not, please share this to help in his recovery.

Love is so much stronger than hate. Thanking you all in advance.

Blessings!

https://www.gofundme.com/hrrpb9e4

@LionessVizions      @LionessDelina       http://www.lionessvizions.com

Am I Not Good Enough? by Angenita Williams

*This is NOT a blog about being sad, or feeling unworthy. It IS a reflection.*

In the midst of my reading and studying, I usually play music or have the TV on for background noise. Sometimes, I have both. But yesterday, I decided to listen to the YouTube personality April Mason. She is an empowering woman with some really good points. I just wasn’t ready for what she had to say.

She had a letter from a young woman who explained that there was a guy she was “dating.” He was nice. He treated her well. He was fine. His sex was awesome. But he didn’t want to be in a relationship. Although he did all the things that couples do, he made it clear that a relationship was something he did not want. She was understandably confused. His actions did not match his words….definitely something I can relate to.

April went through all the usual relationship advice: why buy the cow when you get the milk for free; you allowed him to dictate the “relationship;” you must love yourself first…and so on and so forth. But then she said this:

“This may sound harsh, but you are not good enough.”

I stopped studying.

“You are good enough to hang out and go to the movies with. You are good enough to share meals with. You are good enough to have sex with. But you are not good enough to be his WOMAN. You are a placeholder for his permanent one.”

I sat up. Not good enough to be his woman?

I’ve often felt like I was never good enough. My self-esteem hasn’t been the highest. Although I was always told I was beautiful, I didn’t really believe it – I was fat. I didn’t have a nice shape and I was bigger than most guys – but I was still cute and my smile lit up a room.  I knew I was smart – my grades showed it. I was a little short on being street smart until I got to the streets and had to learn to navigate. I never quite learned how to navigate relationships with men though.

I was always good enough to converse with because I do have a nice conversation. I have a brain and I can go from goofy to intellect in a split second. I was nice to hang around because I carry an aura of comfort; of loving. I can cook a little bit, so of course I was good enough to make meals for a man. Of course I was always good enough to have sex with. I’m a nice looking, fluffy woman that’s well endowed. I take care of my kids. I’m smart. I’m funny. I’m loyal.

But I still wasn’t good enough.

 I wasn’t good enough for my father to love me enough to show me that I was indeed worthy to be treated like a human being.  I didn’t have a very high bar to compare any man to. Attention was enough I suppose. I wasn’t good enough for my ex to not marry a woman that I knew was all the way wrong for him, but yet he still came to me on plenty of nights until I stopped him. I wasn’t good enough for the guy who told me he wouldn’t hurt me, but he didn’t want a relationship…after sex. Or the one that said that no man would really want me because of my ready made family. Or the one who stopped talking to me when I took sex off the table. Or the one that sent unsolicited penis pics. Or the one who thought I would stay despite his abuse.  When I got married, I felt that finally I WAS good enough…I secured a lifelong bond with a man I was madly in love with…

But I wasn’t even good enough for my husband. No matter how loyal or loving or supportive I was, I just wasn’t good enough to keep him from the abandonment or the side chicks.

In the aftermath of all of this, I find that I am still just not good enough. I’m good enough to hang with or converse with, or even to sex…but I’m not good enough to be a man’s significant other. I’m not good enough to be the ONE.

My attributes are great. I am wonderfully flawed.  I’m beautiful. I’m sarcastic. Intelligent. I like sports. I cuss like a sailor. I am articulate. I can get moody. I can appear standoffish or disinterested.  I can discuss politics, Beyonce, Maya, and Bugs Bunny. I am lovingly loyal – I would say to a bit of a fault. I am a sweetheart when I want to be. I’m the perfect homegirl. I’m caring. I’m supportive – an awesome cheerleader. I adore my children and my grandchildren. I will go to war with the world over my children. I love my family. I work hard. I hustle harder. I strive to be the best I can be with all my flaws. 

This year marks my 40th year on this Earth. I look at the world through a lens of life experiences. I do have faith in God, something I can’t say I’ve always had. My confidence level as definitely increased by the multitudes. But, in the area of relationships and commitment, something always falls relatively short. And with all the #inboxfoolishness I get, with all the dates that are made but never completed, all the notions of just wanting sex from me and nothing more, I wonder…

Will I ever be good enough?

Beyoncè’s Super Bowl Concert by Delina Hill-Brooker

 

Beyonce SuperBowl 2016
(Photo: Ezra Shaw)

First off, let me put a few disclaimers.

  1. I am not, nor will I probably ever be a die-hard football fan. The only time that I watch a football game is if my son is playing or the actual Super Bowl game…which technically, I’m not watching the game, I’m only there for the commercials and the halftime show.
  2. ALL of the Super Bowl performers from Lady Gaga, to Cold Play, Bruno Mars and of course Miss Sasha Fierce herself, all did an Oh-Mazing job. I was thoroughly entertained.
  3. A few of my friends on social media didn’t enjoy all of the performers, and as I watched the trending stories, some of everybody had something to say about them as well, but hey, this is my blog, therefore my platform to voice my opinions. 🙂

Okay, now that we’ve gotten those formalities out of the way, let me just say this. Say what ya wanna; like her or not, Beyoncè slayed not only her performance, but the whole Super Bowl as well! You can criticize her song, her man, her daughter, her choice of clothing and dance. You can believe that she’s part of the Illuminati (which I don’t and don’t believe that there really is such a thing). But what you can’t do is say that she doesn’t give 110% of professionalism, style, grace and true artistry EVERY TIME she performs!!!
Super Bowl’s halftime show was a mini concert, gay pride, girl power, Black power, MC Hammer throwback, pop and live music, dancing while you sing, almost fall – but you don’t miss a beat – pick it back up and keep on going, plug your upcoming tour, playing nice with others fun loving good time all jammed packed and displayed as a physical collage – with a powerful message of “Believe In Love” to top it all off. (Yes that is an extremely long run on sentence, but hey, it works for this). To me the halftime show was a perfect blend of a variety of music for everyone to enjoy some aspect of the show.
As a Black, business woman I have no choice, but to respect her hustle, grind, creativity and brand building.

Now let me give out disclaimer #4. Her music has evolved in such a dramatic way that I do censor what my children listen to and watch of hers. However, I was okay with the halftime show for them. That being said, I censor what they watch and hear ANY WAY. Everything is not for children to see or hear even if it’s art. I wouldn’t let them listen to NWA, which is art, with a powerful message, but the delivery is just not for them to absorb YET!

I know not everyone will agree, and that’s totally okay, but I love and respect me some ‘Yoncè! And at the end of the day, her name is being talked about. Which is good for her brand, sooooooooooo…

Beyoncès Super Bowl Concert

(Photo: Christopher Polk, Getty Images)
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We Lost the Youth in #FLINT by Angenita Williams

I’m sure everyone knows about the Flint water crisis by now. And everyone has read a lot about it. The health issues, rebuilding infrastructure, how businesses will probably leave Flint, how homes are worth nothing, and the do nothing Governor Snyder. But there is so much more at stake.

While the health issues and costs will be astronomical, there is a more pressing issue here.

Governor Snyder has efficiently and effectively committed genocide on the poor, disenfranchised, and majority minority population in Flint, and across Michigan. And he can give two fucks about it. He hired a PF firm to protect his image. This is classicism at it’s finest hour. But let’s not mistake it; racism is there intermingling and dancing around.

The level of genocide has nothing to do with the physical aspects of the poisoning. Governor Snyder has killed an entire generation of lawyers, doctors, nurses, surgeons, teachers, coaches, and game changers that could have made a huge impact on our society, in particular the Black community. One of the brains he damaged could have housed the key to eliminating cancer and HIV. Many of those brains could have taught the next generation about how they matter in this society. I’m willing to bet that there was a forward thinking activist or two in that bunch. He killed off the brains of the youth. He turned them into zombies with limited brain function. The crime is already horrible in Flint. What happens when you completely destroy impulse control and reasoning capabilities?

Physical genocide.

What about those who suffer from HIV, lupus, or some other autoimmune disorders? They are already compromised, so you are also killing off the already sick. Legionnaires’ disease has seen an upswing in Flint – killing ten already.

Physical genocide.

I look at this like he is trying to “cleanse” Michigan. Look at Detroit. The poisoning of the children there is happening in dilapidated schools. He took the voices away from his citizens. He stripped away change. I wonder if he is the poster child for the Republican party. I mean, that’s EXACTLY how you rid yourself of those who are lazy, non-working, welfare having drags on society. Cause you know, those that are poor, are only poor because they WANT to be. As if this very system had absolutely nothing to do with the state of affairs for the poor.

He is running a dictatorship. There is no democracy in Michigan if your city is poor. He should not be in office. The respectful thing to do would be to step down. Admit you made a mistake, and you are not doing anything to correct it. Admit that you, personally YOU, cannot and will not fix it. Have some sort of decency. I guess that is asking too much…

The cost of losing our children though. Our babies for whom we have hopes and dreams for. The children we bring forth to change this world we live in. To have that taken away. To have it dismantled at the hands of an official whose job is to act on behalf of the citizens of his state. That is infuriating. Disappointing.

He didn’t even stop to think of the babies. He launched all out warfare on building strength in the community, so maybe he DID think about the babies. And aren’t Republicans always talking about, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps?” What if they successfully remove the strongest bootstrap you have?

Physical genocide.

 

 

Goodbye 2015 by Angenita Williams and Delina Hill-Brooker

 

2015 was a crazy year.

Personally, I had some tough challenges and tough decisions to make. Some I wasn’t so sure of, others were a no-brainer. I also dealt with loss, being single, being a Momma Bear, and growing.

I’ve become a little stronger, a little wiser, and a little more self aware. I understand my strengths, but more importantly, I get my weaknesses. I understand me a little more, which helps me understand the things that go on around me. I’ve fallen. I’ve risen. I’ve failed. I’ve triumphed.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how crazy this world was this year. Our young, and old, Black people killed without reprieve. Terrorists blowing everything up. Racism rearing its extremely ugly head. And this is a world that I brought children into. I worry about my kids the moment they are not in my sight…and I have a grown son and a teen daughter. As the mother of Black kids, I have a fear. And maybe that’s the point…

I’m looking forward to 2016. January 1st jumpstarts my year of Forty & Fabulous. Watch me work…

Bye 2015!

~ Angenita

 

2015, Good ole’ 2015…What can I say? Well I’ve accomplished a lot this year and started things that I had no idea that I could do. I’ve grown as a person spiritually and emotionally and I can say that I am better because of it. 2015 wasn’t as eventful as most of my previous years and that is quite alright. It’s good to have a “down” season so that you can reflect and refresh and get ready to take on new tasks and ventures. Thank you 2015 for teaching me how to simply sit and listen to our Creator and simply believe that in His timing all things He has promised will come to fruition. God bless and Happy New Year!

~ Delina

Some Grinch-y Rhetoric by Venessa Schade Bowers

This time of year always produces something of the blues in me. Part of that is because of the change in weather. Regardless of originating from Cleveland, Ohio, or perhaps because of it, I am not a fan of cold weather – lack of sun, high winds, ice, and freezing temperatures – not my thing. Let’s just say that living in place where the temperature is close to 80 degrees on this Christmas Eve is a lovely thing.

A larger part of my winter blues though, has to deal with rhetoric. For the last 30 some days, I’ve watched, read, and listened to politicians, celebrities, and the general populous spout raging rhetoric about “Keeping Christ in Christmas,” announce yet another “war on Christmas,” feel insulted by the phrase “Happy Holidays,” and are blatantly questioning of the patriotism of anyone who does not hang holly on her door and sing carols this time of year. So, at the risk of offending even more people, I intend to do a few things with this writing. The first, is to examine the dichotomous nature of saying in loud, ringing tones that “Jesus is the reason for the season” while behaving in a way Jesus never did. The second, is to locate the history of Christmas in its socio-political context to explain the aforementioned rhetorical shift.

If you are someone who believes that Jesus Christ is in fact, your Lord and Savior, let me ask you some questions. If you worship him, and you are tied to living your life in a way that resembles, even loosely, his life, why are you yelling at me about your belief? Why is it that if I do not believe exactly what you believe, or practice the way you practice, that I am sinning? Why judge others?

In my understanding of sacred Christian texts, Jesus never did that. He loved people who others shunned; the whores, the drunkards, the gamblers, and the thieves. He demonstrated compassion and empathy toward them. He did not debase the poor, the homeless, the “less than godly“ – in fact he warns his followers: “that which you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me.” That’s a pretty heavy statement.

Have you fed the hungry this winter? How about donating coats, clothes, and blankets to homeless shelters? No? Huh. Maybe you just didn’t have time.

What about showing compassion to others? A little empathy? A little kindness? Not really? Well, Christmas is tomorrow, so you’ve got a chance to put Christ in Christmas.

Have you told the truth? Have you loved? Did you let someone go ahead of you at the grocery store because she had a crying child and only diapers to purchase? Or did you look at her with a frown of judgement that she “could not shut her kid up?” Yep, I thought so.

And speaking of judgements…did you judge someone for not being a Christian? Did you judge somebody because they are not “American?” Did you judge someone who is living in poverty because they are just lazy? Did you judge someone because they are smarter than you? Or less educated than you? Has more than you? Has less than you? Has children? Doesn’t have children? Is ill? Is healthy?

Because seriously? If you want to keep Christ in Christmas and you’ve done any of these things, as most of us do, you are preforming rhetorical hypocrisy – in other words – you say one thing, then you do what you want, and shame others for doing the same. This is what we see in our politicians who scream that there is a war on Christmas. Pontificate on Christ being a Conqueror. Damn the regions of the world with fear mongering and then, claim the mantle of Christianity. That’s the second piece here – the socio-political aspect of Christmas. December 25–Christmas Day–has only been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. Think about that. It has only been recognized as a federal holiday for 145 years and since then it been an economic endeavor of staggering preportions.. Pretending otherwise, is just false.

Test it out:

How many presents are under your tree? Really? Right.

How much did you spend this year? This is being touted as the best shopping year of the last several – you know we boost that economy by buying things we don’t need for people we don’t like so we can fit in with the shopping cults. “Oh did you see …it’s on sale!”

Are you going to sit around the tree with family who has been abusive for your entire life and try to buy their love with just the right gift? Are you going to charm your wife to forgive your infidelity with new diamonds – oh, go ahead and forget that some people lose limbs getting those diamonds out of mines for you. Are you going to win you child’s love by purchasing a bike that they cannot ride on your street? Are you going to get just a little too drunk to deal with the pressure of the “Season of Giving?”

Ok – I know what a lot of you are thinking. “What is WRONG with her?!?!?” Honestly, nothing. But I struggle with this rhetoric – The consumptionistic rhetoric cloaked in religion.

Be a consumer. That’s awesome. Be a Christian. That’s awesome, too.

But if you have no intention of behaving in the way that Jesus did, or even attempt to behave in a kind and empathetic manner, then shouting that He is the reason for the season, especially on your Facebook page or Twitter feed that are filled with rants about the “others” that are hateful, is just silly. Who are you trying to convince that you keep this holiday sacred? Because it’s not me. And I’m willing to bet it’s not you either.

So, by all means, let’s put Christ in Christmas. I will if you will. Let’s work this year on loving each other more fully. Supporting each other more truly. Treating each other with kindness and compassion. And while we are working on that together – I will pray that regardless of your faith, any gods you worship bless and keep you in this New Year and that you find peace and joy in your life. That’s really all any of us need.

Bright Blessings.

Free Yourself by Delina Hill-Brooker

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We just adopted a dog. He was used to being locked in his crate for the majority of the day, and we’ve been transitioning him out of it. I thought that we were being successful however, whenever he gets scared (of the vacuum mostly) he will literally open the crate from the outside and get in. Last night we didn’t lock his crate and this morning when we got up he stood there waiting for us to open it. It was already wide open. He just sat there anxious and eager to get out.

This led me to realize, that sometimes we can be our own worse enemy. There’s nothing stopping us BUT ourselves. We use our previous situations and mentally locked doors as excuses to stay in a rut or hinder our own progress and possibly keeping us from fulfilling our destiny.

Furthermore, if the doors in your life just so happen to be locked, find a way to either unlock them or knock them down.

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” ~ Marcus Garvey

I am Legendary… I Create My Legacy by Angenita Williams

In the spirit of Queen

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A few months ago, I received a Facebook inbox from a young lady I’ve seen perform and host within the Indianapolis poetry scene. Her poetry is phenomenal, exquisite, demanding, commanding, and raw – just like it should be. She captivates as her voice cascades through your ears to resonate within your heart. Not only is she a poet, she is a bonafide writer. I follow her blogs. Read her sometimes page-length Facebook posts. She inspires one to be inquisitive and most of all, while her heart is definitely on her sleeve, she is a mighty, transparent, strong woman indeed. Her name: Januarie York.

However, there was another remarkable woman whose smile brought life into a building. Her poetry was outstanding, and everywhere she went, love grew by the multitude. She was surrounded by the love she so easily dispersed – She was deemed a Queen. The name absolutely fit her…

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Dreams Deferred by Angenita Williams

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

~ Langston Hughes

Indeed.

As I pondered very hard decisions that had to be made, as I looked at where I stood in life; as I realized that retirement age is only 20 – 25 years away; as I thought about my life, and it’s direction – my mind brought me to this poem.

What happens to a dream deferred?

My deferred dream almost became a distant memory. I lacked the knowledge and self worth to really understand that what I dreamed of doing I could actually do.

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?

 In my case, it almost did. I need security to take care of my home; my family. But, the security really isn’t security, is it? It’s only as secure as your company that you work for says. Because, if they decide that hard business decisions have to be made, then your job could really be out the door in a heartbeat.

And living a dream seems like such a fairy tale end to a life lived. Very few actually get do to do that. I ask what is the difference between me and them? Fearlessness. Tenacity. Strength. Life. My history. Excuses.

Or fester like a sore–And then run?

The gaping hole in my soul was formed by the desire to live my dreams. Float amongst what I need to do in life. It stayed there and festered…not allowing itself to close. It grew wider until I could no longer ignore it.

Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over–like a syrupy sweet?

Dreams should always crust and sugar over. Even though getting there would be hard, the end result – sweet.

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode

If the dream sags, it may not be your dream. Reevaluate. If it’s a burden, then it really isn’t your dream.

It explodes… a true winner. The final confirmation.

On Being Black in America by Angenita Williams

I know it’s been a minute…

These past few weeks have been torment for me.

I’ve sat quietly watching as news story after news story after blog after blog spills the details about another mistreatment of people of color.

I’ve been silent. Trying to figure out exactly what I want to say that hasn’t already been regurgitated through media.

And then the Charleston Nine happened. The actual thought of removing the Confederate flag happened. On my drive home, I figured out what I wanted to say – a checklist of sorts. I’m only going to list three, or this blog will be a hundred pages long.

  1. On Being a Black Woman

I am a Black Woman. That means that royalty flows through my veins. My foremothers were Queens. My foremothers were dignified women. I wear my crown straight. Slave blood runs through my veins as well as the strength of my ancestors. My shoulders sometimes struggle for carrying the world is heavy. My back is arched, my head is held high. Just like Maya said, “Phenomenal woman, that is me.” My piercing stares are full of determination and tenacity. My tresses are strong. I love me.

And it took me almost 40 years to do that.

With what society says I should look like. All my images of “real” beauty came in the form of Barbie. Brooke Shields. Susan Lucci. Farrah Fawcett. And when I got a little older, Claire Huxtable and Dianne Carroll. I was a victim of the paper bag. My blackness always questioned because my skin is a tad paler.

But I was still Black. I hated my kinky hair. I hated my name because it was so unique. It always seemed like if I was a white girl named Tina with long brown hair, and pale blue eyes, I would be so much happier. Why? Because Tina had things that looked like her. That resembled her. That were her…

And I was grown before I could truly love everything that being a Black woman is, does, and strives to do. Before I learned the true strength of where I come from – the fields of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Before I understood that my beauty comes from the strength I innately possess. Before I realized that beauty is truly beyond this skin I’m in.

  1. On Being a Mother of Black Children

I worry every time my children leave my sight. They are of strong mind and strong will. My son, a Black man. My daughter, a Black teen.

I am bombarded with images of unarmed children being gunned down because the officers don’t understand that they too are innocent. They have an innocence about them just like his kids do. But he is threatened by their melanin. By there sheer ability to have the nerve to WANT to do things outside the home. To DESIRE to be something other than…*insert typical Black stereotype*.

Not too long ago, a Facebook friend posted a picture of the White Charleston Nine shooter next to the picture of the fourteen-year-old Black girl with a cop’s knee in her back. The caption compared the dignified way he was captured against the violent way a CHILD was thrown to the ground. A woman who was white said the picture was misleading and that the bikini clad young lady was being aggressive. A child who had no idea what was going on and begged for her mother versus a cold-blooded killer who was afforded a bulletproof vest and a sandwich.

I responded with – she is a CHILD.

The lady responded with a long response to which she ended with “I will teach my children to treat everyone well, and I hope they teach their kids the same.”

My long response ended with “be thankful you can teach your kids that. Be thankful that you don’t have to worry about your kids not coming home – not because they are bad kids, because they are not. It’s because they are Black.”

As a mother, this is heartbreaking. And the list just keeps growing. I pray my children’s names are never on that list. I pray my nephews and nieces will never make that list. I pray my brothers, uncles, cousins and friends never make that list.

  1. On Being Black, Woman, Near 40, and Single

It truly seems like the older I get, the worse dating gets. Seriously. One would think that with age comes maturity. This isn’t so in a lot of cases. And it’s frustrating. Maybe it’s because I expect so much. Like a job. And decent conversation. And thoughtfulness. And a date or two or three. In my teens and 20’s, I accepted pretty much whatever just to be recognized by a man. Just to have one in my presence. Just to have one be there…even if it was temporary. Just to feel “love.” And I got two kids to raise pretty much alone (my loves!), a broken marriage (not truly getting what marriage entails), a few broken hearts, an ocean of tears, fears of rejection and pain, a steel fortified fortress built around my heart, and a different view on love. Dating isn’t fun – it is a tiring assortment of role specifics and game playing. I am over playing the game. And many older men that approach me want to play it.

There are way more things to speak on – finances, education, awareness, growth. I’ll save that for another time…

I’m baaaaacccckkkk

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