Monthly Archives: December 2011

Living Intentionally

Today is the fifth day of Kwanzaa, and it’s principle is Nia, or Purpose. I’m not going to pretend I have wise things to say about our overall purpose(s) in this life, or even my own purpose, because I’m not the type to think we necessarily have reasons for existing. I’m going to talk about purpose in a much smaller way, purpose in the everyday kind of way we often take for granted. As 2011 winds down, it’s a good time to reflect on all the things I did without meaning to, accidentally, or absent-mindedly over the course of the past year. My carelessness sometimes meant forgetting about a meeting or commitment I’d made, and sometimes my looseness of lip or hand got me in hot water with a friend. Sometimes I got drunker than I’d meant to, or procrastinated more than I’d meant to, or absent-mindedly starting biting my nails again when I’d been trying to grow them out. I made a lot of mistakes in the relationship that came and went during first half-ish of the year, often because of things I didn’t want to do or couldn’t figure out a way to do properly or just found myself doing because I thought I was supposed to be doing them. 

And that list could probably go on and on, but the point is a lot of the things I do on a daily basis aren’t intentional. I am not always acting purposefully, and I want to work towards rectifying that. And acting purposefully/living intentionally doesn’t mean I can’t be spontaneous or have fun. It doesn’t mean I have to become a workaholic or analyze how every single second of my day is working towards advancing some larger goal. It just means that I should take more time to question whether what I’m doing, how I’m acting, or how I’m living is what/how I want to be, rather than just how I happen to be in the moment due to some circumstance or other. It means working when it’s work-time and playing when it’s play-time and appreciating the beauty of the things in my life (because it’ll be 2012 in 24 hours and a few minutes and in six months everything is changing). It means taking ownership of everything I do and say and think and feel, actively carrying each of these things as a reflection of myself and giving them the significance they deserve. Most of all, I think living intentionally or with purpose just means living actively, rather than letting other things take the wheel. I like being on top in charge. I want to do more to remember that/stay there. 

"I have nothing to wear."

I can understand how this statement might be viewed as a convenient excuse or a cop-out in some situations. Like, if you have your entire wardrobe at your fingertips to choose from at your convenience and are actually overwhelmed by options and really mean, “I can’t figure out what to wear.” Or if there is no specific dress code for whatever you’ve been invited/asked to go to and you could legitimately spray some Febreze on something in the laundry hamper and call it a day. Or if you have the time and extra spending money to go shopping and buy something for the occasion. In any of these cases, you legitimately have no room to be making excuses.

But if you’re, say, on vacation with a finite amount of clothing, and didn’t pack, say, short dresses or miniskirts or high heels because it is December and your friends have never wanted to go clubbing before and you don’t own a miniskirt anyway, then when your bestie invites you to her sorority sister’s birthday party at this fancy club she doesn’t think you can wear jeans to and all you brought home was jeans and the party is in three days, which includes NYE and appropriate getting-over-your-hangover time, I think it’s a legitimate rationale behind which to at least think about declining the invitation. 

My friend seemed to disagree, and so I ask you, friends and people of the internet: Do you think not having anything to wear is ever an acceptable reason to not go somewhere/do something?

Major cosign-age:

We, not just as black women, but as women, and as human beings, should have BEEN DONE with this narrative quite some time ago. But by discussing it, even when we’re talking about how stupid/inaccurate/detrimental it is, we’re giving it credibility and encouraging the media to keep bringing it up. We need to let this DIE and come up with better, more productive narratives to talk about.

And my shout out to someone who is telling the truth about us will go to The Crunk Feminists, with honorable mentions to playwright Lydia Diamond, who wrote Stick Fly, and Issa Rae and her whole team over at The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.

#OccupyKwanzaa

Ujamaa is the fourth day of Kwanzaa, and it’s probably the day I’m the least enthused about every year. Ujamaa means “cooperative economics,” and this day was originally dedicated to “building and maintaining our own stores, shops, and other businesses, and to profit from them together.” And…I can see how that was a great strategy in 1966, but in modern times, that’s just a little too separatist for me to really rally behind. I do like to support small (and often black-owned) businesses, usually just because their products are unique or more holistic than those of large chains, and I love shopping at farmer’s markets and craft fairs when I’m in cities that support awesomeness like that, so I guess I could play that up to celebrate Ujamaa. 

But that doesn’t make for much of a blog post, so I thought about it some more. I even did a little bit of research on contemporary understandings of the term “cooperative economics,” and was delighted with what I found:

“Cooperative economics offers everyone a fair and equal chance to work and enjoy life through relationships and the goods of this world. It is recommended to stop governmental and private corruption, unnecessary plunder, community pollution and resource depletion.” (Source)

I can’t believe I didn’t realize this earlier. Ujamaa has #OCCUPY written all over it. “The 99%” as a concept is about as “cooperative” as you can get, and people from all walks of life coming together to fight for the “little guy,” trying to make this country’s economic system work for the masses, rather than against us, protesting corporate personhood and other evils of capitalism…this is OUR economic fight. It’s about demanding fair wages, fair lending practices, corporate responsibility, fair tax policies, balancing the budget without screwing over the people on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, and most importantly, EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY. It’s about not letting ourselves be stepped on/over on other people’s way to the top. And it’s a worldwide movement, just like the Diaspora has made us worldwide peoples. 

And people of color ARE involved in the Occupy movement, even if the mainstream media isn’t really perpetuating that idea:

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Am I too old to want a bedroom that looks like this?

Reblogged from Paper Pensive

…Do people get laid in bedrooms that look like this? One could argue that it’s perfect mood lighting. I’ve always wanted a canopy-like structure and lots of interesting lights; in middle school, I had rope lights, a lava lamp, and glow in the dark stars on my ceiling, but I always wished it all worked together in a more cohesive fashion like this.

Anyway, *want* 

Am I My Brothers’ (And Sisters’) Keeper?

The principle for the third day of Kwanzaa is Ujima, or “collective work and responsibility”. 

The metaphorical jury in my head is still out on whether any random Black person has some larger responsibility to Black peoples everywhere, to “give back” to communities s/he may or may not have been raised by, to represent “the race” in a “positive” light, or (and I struggle with this last bit) even to associate with the larger “community”. A year ago, I would have unequivocally said yes to all of those statements, but since then my understandings of personal freedom, choice, and statements about what anyone “should” or “should not” be/do have grown immensely, and I’m no longer comfortable putting restrictions or regulations on anyone’s sense of self and personal responsibility. Who am I to say what anyone else should do or be? I claim no authority over others.

So how can I talk about doing things collectively as a principle? How does this principle even sit with me? Well, firstly, doing work for and of Black peoples is important to me. Though I don’t know if I HAVE to, I do feel a responsibility for talking about Blackness as a personal and a collective experience, which broadens into a feeling of responsibility for tackling issues pertaining to experiences of Blackness, person-of-color-ness, womanness, non-dominant-sexual-orientation-ness, and other minority experiences in this country. It would make me happy if everyone felt this need to tell their own stories and the stories of those who are often left out. To me, it seems that would be our collective responsibility as human beings, that all our brethren and all their struggles might be recognized as legitimate and significant. I’m not demanding selflessness, and maybe this is just a product of having been raised in a Judeo-Christian society, but I just can’t see excessive greed as a productive means of life in modern society. I can’t say that people of any certain race have a responsibility to other members of that same race, but I think it’s pretty obvious that we as humans are responsible to humanity. Let’s work on that.