You Know Better Than “Nigger”

I’m pretty fortunate to be a Black woman that has never been called the “N-word” in my life (well, at least never to my face). Someone DID once use it in social media conversation with me, referencing the darkness of one of my pancakes in a posted photo. When I didn’t respond, they were extremely apologetic at possibly having offended me, and entreated that I should call them a “cracker” as a means to get even.

I did not.

Now, I’m sure the day will come where “my person” will actually be on the receiving end of the ugly word. And when that day comes, I’m not going to be offended because you’ve somehow hurt my self-esteem, or I feel attacked.

I’m going to be annoyed.

One, because let’s not act like name-calling isn’t something we tell our five-year-olds not to do. So I’ll automatically assume you’re in a childish mindset at the moment.

But also, I have zero shame in being born of the African-American race. I love the color of my skin and my culture. Someone thinking they can hurt me by calling me the derogatory word for Black, as if I should feel bad for being born Black somehow, is ridiculous.

I am not a nigger.

And you calling me one, would in no way reflect upon myself, my values, or my accomplishments. It would reflect upon YOURS.

And THAT would be the annoyingly upsetting part. Because unless you’re some old white man in the deep south of Confederate country on a generational family farm descended from slaveowners, who never embraced the advent of the Internet and scarcely comes across a “free Black man”, then there’s no excuse for your ignorance.

Everybody knows.

Everybody knows at this point that it’s a heavily racist, degrading term. So when you still choose to use it, your intent behind it is to shame someone for being born a race. You want to be mean, nasty, and verbally drive a screwdriver into a wound with the easiest thing your eyes lock onto because you aren’t mentally swift enough to form an intelligent criticism that addresses a legitimate action on my part that I do have control over.

You’re choosing not to exercise self-control, which is a weak personality trait in itself. You’re choosing to take the lowest blow, because for some reason this will somehow make you feel better about yourself if you attempt to spit on someone’s heritage.

That’s not even ignorance. You know better.

Especially when those who don’t even use the word to be malicious, use it jokingly. Tossed around on the internet, even by Millennials and Gen Z-ers. It’s fun to be pretend-racist. To sling the N-word around like it’s trendy to others who find it amusing as well. From some, you gain clout; from others, derision. Either way, you’re getting attention, which still fuels you.

It was interesting to digest when my boyfriend recently told me some of his gamer buddies, mid-twenties, almost thirties even, volley the word around as an insult to rag on each other in their group chats. As if it were any other playful jab. Asshole. Motherfucker. Nigger.

They ain’t even white.

But just the act of existing as a Black person, is that much of a joke to many. Those who selfishly abandon the concept of empathy. That is what I find offensive.

That you can’t care, for somebody else.

Wanna hear a story?

I used to throw out the term “Jap” when I was younger, with no deprecating intention whatsoever, but just because it was the shortened version of “Japanese” and it was quicker to say (if you know me, you know I adore Japanese culture, so I still look back with shame at my ignorance). Once it was pointed out to me that it was demeaning and REALLY offensive (not by an actual Japanese person, thank God), EVEN though I wasn’t even saying it to any Japanese individual’s face, I CUT THAT SHIT OUT. I didn’t argue my right to free speech to use the word, mope about how the extra two syllables would be longer to say, feel ridiculously inconvenienced at the fact that this was an offensive slur, or even continue to use it in secret within my circle.

It was SURPRISINGLY easy.

But to some, simply not saying a hurtful word for the sake of others’ feelings is a really difficult thing. So, when the inevitable day comes that a childish mind will call me the N-word, my feelings won’t be hurt. Why should they? You’ll be the one showing me that you’re beneath me. Immature. Weak. Egotistic. And I won’t feel the need to lower myself to that level to fire back a retaliation slur. Because I’m not interested in using ethnic epithets for easy ammunition, or for the “lulz” online.

And I know I’m not a nigger.

But you do know better.

~Tael

Blackness Mirrored

I see you all, standing with us.

Mirroring our outrage, disgust and frustration. Those who have to be mindful of their skin tone every day. Those who have the privilege of forgetting their skin color.

Those who don’t see skin color at all.

Which camp are you?

I see my Blackness as part of my genetic make-up; an identity trait holding no more weight than my slim frame, flowing dreadlocks, love of music. But I don’t “experience” my skin tone. I share it. The unpopular minority that doesn’t immediately get offended if another race uses the term “nigga.” To me it’s an urban term; you know when it’s being used inappropriately and the intention of the one using it. You know.

You could be the self-hating Black kind like my ex-husband. Terrified to be associated with anything stereotypical, like Red Lobster, fried chicken and watermelon. Clinging to art and classical music, ties and blazers, to remind everyone “I’m not THAT kind of Black.”

While I seamlessly drift through all worlds at once; projects and spacious houses, Flatbush and Midtown, slang and literature.

Because allies are everywhere.

Internally, i’m not very mindful of my Blackness. Because I don’t “wear” it. I just…AM. But outside my bubble, discrimination continues. And when I watch the viral clips and videos, I FEEL it.

When a Black man needlessly gets shot, jogging in his neighborhood or relaxing in his OWN HOME, I get angry.  When a white woman calls the cops on a Black person for existing…calling her out for breaking the rules, waiting for a friend in an apartment building, barbecuing, playing golf…I get angry. When we’re being choked and cry out that we can’t breathe and it’s ignored, and we DIE, I get angry. When four cops need to pile on top of an unarmed Black mother in front of her child because apparently that force was necessary, I get angry. I wonder why, despite growing up in a blender of culture, after 33 years this insensitivity still exists in 2020. Like it’s been frozen and preserved, retaining all the same intensity as the Jim Crow era. I don’t understand racism. I grew up surrounded by blacks, whites, browns, tans, pales, caramels, butters, peanuts, olives, accents, hijabs, yarmulkes, jade stones and languages I did not understand.

I grew up around tolerance. Acceptance.

So I get ANGRY when I hear this bullshit is still happening. And I feel the collective rage. And I don’t NOT condone the looting. And the anarchy. And the chaos. The wild frustrated will to truly be free when you’ve been walking on eggshells the rest of the time. And the melting pot all over the nation feels it, and the unified support and disgust that these incidents keep occurring that non-Blacks are mirroring is a tearful embrace saying, “We got ya’ll.”

And I’m so proud. To everyone who stares down an armed cop to mirror our indignation in the name of our equality, I’m so proud. I want to absorb your courage.

I love you for marching for us.

And I love those unafraid to open dialogue about Blackness. So many of us are quick to lash out at ignorance. And while I fully understand the sentiment, discussion from both sides NEEDS to take place, not just condemnation.

It’s maddening that ignorance exists and some shit we think is obvious still needs to be TAUGHT to others. But we have to accept that we live in a world riddled with ignorance. And if someone is willing to address that ignorance within themselves, and actively seek guidance and understanding in an effort to rise above it, then that is courage as well, and we need to be willing to mentor and educate with a disciplined mind. On why that way of thinking is wrong. On why that sort of action is inappropriate or offensive. Poke enough holes through a closed mind that wants to be open, and ignorance can filter out like a sieve.

I will never be afraid to have that dialogue. Because it’s knowledge that defeats ignorance.

The incidents of injustice we keep seeing, can make you want to give in so badly to automatic hate.

But, I don’t want to be driven to hate.
Because hate is why we’re where we are now.

But if it makes you feel a little better, do it anyway. Get it out. Hate. Emote. Protest. Riot. Loot.

Teach.

~Tael

What Wellness Eating For CIC Sounds Like

Upon waking, consume a cup of hot tea with lemon on an empty stomach. Or warm water with lemon. Although the acupuncturist I saw recently said fuck lemon, it should be room temperature water with honey instead. But also, the Internet says you should be taking a tablespoon of olive oil/coconut oil/flaxseed oil/ blackstrap molasses on an empty stomach in the morning as well. But in what order? Oil first since it clearly takes up less space than the cup of liquid after? But also, you may/may not have SIBO even if the doctors told you that you did not, so eating a fresh clove of garlic on an empty stomach for 1-2 weeks can help. And then you have to wait at least 1/2 hour to an hour before eating anything else. And then after, it should probably be fruit because fruit should be eaten in the morning before anything else, separate from other food.

Don’t forget.

Eat like 6-9 servings of veggies a day, which sounds crazy to me because I can’t even eat that many servings of regular food I think. Don’t drink juice, even if it’s 100% fruit juice; you’re killing yourself, said the chiropractor. But you can have bacon, fatty bacon’s okay.

Eliminate gluten. But that didn’t help when I did it for a month. So while it gave others amazing results, it’s not the cause of my condition. But while on the subject of gluten, there’s a sect online that claim grains are the devil now as well. Say goodbye to soothing bowls of oatmeal, grits, Cream of Wheat, and rice. You already know sugar is a beast and a couple of cookies will absolutely destroy your body. An ice cream scoop on a hot day is treasonous. You are not allowed to eat anything that isn’t fully healthy and natural; you will set your health back 30 years. Also, you can’t just have any kind of fruit or veggies. They MUST be organic. If not, you may as well be eating poison. Sorry.

“But you just ordered a fruit salad; did you ask if they used organic fruit?”

Don’t eat meat and starch together at the same meal, says the naturopath. Your body wasn’t meant to digest them together. This means you shouldn’t be going out to eat at restaurants because they’re going to put it on the same plate.

So, fuck a Chipotle burrito I guess. :/

A tablespoon of flax or chia seeds a day will absolutely regulate you.

NOPE. My stomach has suddenly inflated like a balloon. Nope, not good. Same with those fruit/vegetable smoothies. It has worsened my condition. #FAIL

I don’t feel good.

Check your posture throughout the day, especially while eating. Mindful eating means cutting the television off and savoring your bites for proper and efficient digestion. No distractions. Also, don’t drink anything at least 20 minutes before your meal, or during it, including water, as this dilutes the digestive juices. Try to wait at least 20 minutes after as well. And make sure you’ve fully chewed your food to liquid. Should take about 30-50 chews per bite.

Also, back to the maybe-you-COULD-have-SIBO-and-your-doc-is-just-an-idiot line of thinking. Certain fruits can exacerbate SIBO, so you should probably limit fruits too. And try going low FODMAP. Apples and garlic are on the list of high FODMAPS.

PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME GIVE UP GARLIC (which, ironically, is supposed to do wonders for gut health). But FODMAP fruits contain fructose, which is supposed to SPEED up digestive transit. Why don’t I want this?

“No, it helps for constipation too.”

The fructose that SPEEDS UP digestive transit can cause constipation? Okay… *Refers to special food list printed at the naturopath’s office.*

I strictly adhere to the morning empty-stomach drink routine.

I agonize over the timing of ingesting fruit.

I count my chews of organic product with a ramrod straight back, focusing on my breathing patterns while doing so, swallowing only when I’ve confirmed it’s become liquid form.

I question everything I consume.

This is healthy. This is moderately healthy. This is slightly healthy. This is not healthy. I’m cheating here. This is not healthy. This was a good stomach day; I should stay empty. It’s like fasting right? I don’t want to lose weight though. This is not healthy.

STOP IT.

This is not healthy.

This is not healing.

Kinesiology testing shows stress. Naturopath and acupuncturist question my erratic pulse. Some herbs have helped. Sudden conversations unloading held-back truths have sent me flying to the bathroom.

Stress.

And stressing about food, is not curing me. It’s only adding to the mysterious underlying emotional stress possibly causing this condition in the first place. My mind no longer WELCOMES food into my body.

Let’s shift the focus from food.

Today I ate an apple and a ham and cheese sandwich from the bodega. I didn’t question the potential harmfulness of the white bread, the health factors associated with processed deli meat and mayo, or whether possible SIBO critters that may/may not be living in my small intestine would feast on the apple fructans. I felt empowered.

I refuse to fear food any longer.

Or Judgment. Perception. Conflict. Accusation. Discomfort.

Truth.

*–Reformatting–*

Because the world is not always right.

~Tael

Do What You Want

Why do I feel like nobody says this anymore unless it’s in that passive-aggressive way towards a lover when you’re really not feeling their actions at the moment but don’t want to admit it? Today’s culture has become a very opinionated one. Or maybe it’s just because social media allows you to force-feed your viewpoint to the world, whether they want to hear your views or not. In the midst of witnessed heated debates galore on Facebook involving various topics such as gun violence, race issues, women’s rights, or what that rapper did, it’s like you can’t NOT give your opinion (well, I can…) and simply tossing it into the interwebs makes you somewhat of an expert over the computer.

What sucks is when you become entangled in the sticky web of suffocating perspectives from the world and forget that you too, have one as well.

“Follow your heart.” “Do what feels right.”

Those used to be really popular guidelines once upon a time. Now that everyone is an Internet expert on everything from politics, to relationships, to how to make the most out of life, have a fulfilling career, and make money from your couch totally legitimately, you rarely hear advice tailored specifically for the person being given the advice. Blanket recommendations repackaged and reposted for mass consumption are the norm, even though we’re fully aware that the same things don’t work for everybody. Even those you’re closest to may not offer you direction based on your character. For the past few years I’ve gotten encouraged to have a baby, despite my being divorced and without a stable father figure that would be around for the child, simply because I shouldn’t “wait too long.” I hear that “There are lots of single mothers,” and that, “Your mom did it.” Right, but why would I want to actively choose to be a single mother solely for the purpose of having a baby that you want me to have that I’m not even happy about making the decision of having? :/

I’ve never been the type to fear walking a different path from my family or friends. That’s the thing about pioneering. Someone has to clear that path that they didn’t find by following everyone else’s roadmap and set a new route. Sometimes you can’t give a fuck about everyone else’s opinion. Sometimes your opinion will be the unpopular one and that’s fine, because it’s your choice and it’s your life and you have to live it.

A few years ago I worked on Wall Street for an office that had just been bought out by a highly reputable, long-time respected company that brought us awesome health benefits, 401K options, and a stable future.

And I quit.

Poor management and extreme burnout severely diminished my mental quality of life. I would literally wake up every morning and think “This shit again…” Turnover was high, loyalty was non-existent, bathroom meltdowns by co-workers not uncommon. One day, shaking from anger and disrespect brought on by my manager on my lunch hour in an outdoor courtyard, I decided I couldn’t do it anymore, and that I’d rather venture into the unknown and learn a whole new set of skills than remain in my secure position clutching what little seniority I had with the company. So I sought out a startup with an uncertain future, took a pay cut, and haven’t regretted my choice one iota. In just a few short years I’ve surpassed my old salary in my current position, my company has gone remote, and my current boss is a wizard.

It’s a risk that many may not have taken. But having poured 7 years into my old job and endured the humiliating devaluation of my work ethic, I didn’t care who advised me not to do it. It was my life and I had to get out. Some risks are applauded and others are scoffed at until they pay off.

After a breakup, everyone tells you to “focus on yourself.” Which is stellar advice if you gave up everything you love in your relationship and forgot what it meant to do things you enjoy. But believe it or not, some people are fully grounded in who they are and don’t abandon their hobbies just because they’re with someone else. I didn’t hang out with my friends any less, and in fact explored new interests. My friends remain the same whether i’m in a relationship or not; married, with children, engrossed in graduate programs or simply living their own lives.

Maybe your circle advises you to stay single and sleep around (But I’m not too fond of casually sleeping around and prefer meaningful connections). Or don’t sleep around at all and do other things (But I LOVE SEX and I was doing those things anyway). So make new friends if your current ones are busy (Which is exactly how you meet new people and possible new romantic interests who pursue you). But don’t rush into anything (Have you tried online dating nowadays? First date — ANALYSIS. Second date — Is something gonna happen here? Third date — We sleeping together or nah?). I discovered I despise online dating because of the clinical and rapid pace you’re thrown into things. And that my mom’s dating standards are far different than my own, with car, apartment, and lucrative job weighing more than attentiveness, connection, and honesty (curse my Millennial-ness). :/

Despite what advice anyone has to give you, we are all going through life on our first try. Your own intuition should always be your best guide, while recommendations come second. Be bold and confident in this one life you have and wear that cheeky bikini or those short shorts, or that outfit that you second-guess whether it’s “appropriate” for your age (because apparently in non-American cultures, they dgaf). Go to cosplay parties even though you’re in your 30s, take handstand classes just because it’s random, bounce around with your cousins at a trampoline park until you’re exhausted even though it’s mostly for children, and take hip-hop classes because your family always told you that you couldn’t dance.

Fall in love as often as your heart allows, and don’t be ashamed at its capacity. You only have one life and you can spend it diving headlong into the unknown or tiptoe-ing the outskirts according to someone else’s standards. Take a spontaneous trip to Chicago for Pokemon GO Fest (WHICH I DAMN SURE WOULD HAVE DONE HAD THE TICKETS NOT SOLD OUT). Because sometimes you want to do something like fly out and get a hotel room for a night for a one-day mobile phone event. Yes, as an adult woman, you can travel with others who may not be the same gender as you that you met on Facebook, or Meetup, or Twitter. It’s okay.

And by the same notion, don’t do what DOESN’T feel right to pacify your circle or what the “Internet experts” encourage either. Ignore the pressures to cave to organized religion (because they discuss behind your back about how you should) or hop on the Brazilian wax bandwagon (because even bikini-waxing was too intense for my tolerance). Free-spirit your way through life without make-up and heels, and be the one in the family with the unconventional natural look, oblivious to trends.

The more life you live, the more you find that ignoring your intuition is a waste. Lupe Fiasco said you can’t take back words you never said, and the same goes for actions. You can’t take them back if you didn’t do them. If it’s going to make you happy and you’re highly sure you won’t regret it, do it. If everyone looks at you oddly because your decisions are different from what they would have chosen, good. That’s why they’re your decisions and not theirs. And individuals exist to operate outside of a hive mind. Don’t ever forget to be loyal to your true self first.

Because it’s not your best friend’s baby, or your co-worker’s relationship, or your mother’s job, or your family’s trip, or the world’s life, or the Internet’s happiness. It’s yours.

~Tael (Strong Intuitionist)

The Facets of Feeling

I have a problem with the term “chasing happiness.” It’s too simple. The past 2 years for me were a prison of black and white, upbeat happy or pitfall sad. In-between emotions weren’t recognized or permitted. Hell, even sadness was considered intolerable, and angrily acknowledged if it surfaced. The vivid spectrum of human emotion could not be fully accessed. The only emotion allowed…was “happy.” But denying your palate the varied flavors of life through emotional suppression only creates a disastrous recipe.

Happiness. We hold it as the most powerful, sought-after state of being for a healthy, satisfying life. But there’s a problem with those who ONLY wish to be “happy” and banish the other emotions to the dungeon-like doldrums. Happiness is just one shade. Satisfaction, for example, is not as surface-level as “happy.” Satisfaction can run so much deeper and give you a far higher sense of achievement when attained. Contentment, as well, is a warm feeling that echoes softly through your soul putting you in a relaxed state that “happy” cannot achieve on its own. Exuberance is an exhilaratory upgrade of happiness that heightens your mental state with a gripping thrill.

And then there’s the downside of the spectrum. No one wants to be sad. No one wants to be depressed. And no one should wish for it. But when it happens, sometimes you have to feel it deeply. There is no such thing as a “bad” feeling; there is only a poor way to handle it. Choosing “not” to feel it is one such example. You can never truly face your situation by running from the sentiment. If sadness happens to be your reality at the moment, then face it head on, grieve, and learn from it. Fleeing from feelings conquers nothing and produces 0 growth. It’s simply putting a lid on a pot that will continue to boil and erupt later with explosive, exponential intensity.

Screamgiphy

It may feel like a curse to feel emotions magnified other than “happy.” If you’re like me and feel things very deeply (mood swings galore as a child), simple words with an odd inflection may cut you deep. Brutal anger may draw a curtain of red over your world. Unfair treatment might make you curl-up-on-the-floor-sick-to-your-stomach with resentment. But buoyant, spirited vibes resound within you, magnifying to a high better than any hallucinogen.

The individual you run into sobbing in public will be one of the most honest people you’ll meet. Unafraid of the world’s judgment, they are showing you their current truth in raw form, without a facade. That highly opinionated acquaintance who constantly vomits their viewpoints that everyone finds “inappropriate,” likely won’t be “two-faced” behind your back because they give you themselves without dilution. The stranger you’ve just met who heatedly shares his indignation at an injustice he recently witnessed is unafraid to display the passion in his heart. Fearless emotion is an amazing thing.

If your goal is to only chase “happiness,” how can you fully appreciate the facets of feeling? Like a brilliant diamond, there are so many glittering sides to experience that grant you new perception at different angles. Angles that illumine paths to reflections you may not have seen before. Paths that lead you to fellow humans who immediately and completely understand what you’re feeling because they’ve felt it as well. They’ve experienced that facet of the diamond themselves. They’ve tasted that emotion and overcome it before and now you’ve created a powerful connection through sharing and empathy.

We need the jarring rage you feel when a friend is mistreated, the sweltering indignance you feel when you’re spoken down to, and the simmering jealous awe that pushes us to climb and stretch for things out of our reach. Going through life cradling one feeling is a robotic pathway of monochrome imbalance. Celebrate the fact that you can feel a myriad of sentiments. Reactions that prove you’re legitimately interacting with the world and people around you. You hear them, listen, disagree, get angered by what they say, happy at their news, sad at their downfalls. Cry when you’re upset, stomp when you’re mad, yell when you’re frustrated. Shout beneath a waterfall like in A Quiet Place and let go of the composure. Embrace the wild freedom of being human.

PharellHappy

Be wary of those who are only ever “happy,” afraid to come face to face with any other emotion. Those are the ones who hide deeper currents that wash over their hidden truths and malfunction their mechanical myths behind the veneer they’ve put up. If your life is one emotion, you’re half-living, and not viewing the full panorama the human soul has to offer. If you haven’t fallen to the lowest point, clawed your way back out, coped through a mind-numbing loss, been picked up by the kindness of karmatic-hearted strangers, and even had your boss comfort you in the throes of devastation, you might not have truly lived yet.

The ending line from the Fruits Basket manga never resonated so well with me before: Repeat the good AND the bad. Do it all, and pile on the years.

Never be afraid to feel.

~Tael