Turning Points Toward Appreciating my Own Voice

Last week I co-hosted two events with Shaunda McDill, arts and culture program officer at The Heinz Endowments, and hosted one by myself via Caitlin Strokosch and Sage Crump’s invitation at the National Performance Network’s Annual Convention. Anyone that knows me knows that I am generally behind the scenes. Straight Wizard of Oz mode. I’m

Celeste and Shaunda

Preparing to present at The Carol R. Brown Awards in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

comfortable being where I am needed, but as of late…God, I, the Universe, and the White Buffalo have all been forcing me to accept invitations normally reserved for men.

Jenna Cramer’s invitation to speak at the Green Building Alliance’s Inspire Speakers Series was the first time I spoke in Pittsburgh publicly (outside of panels). Jenna made me promise that I would do more speaking engagements. Jenna saw something in me and took the opportunity to encourage me towards sharing my own voice. LaKeisha Wolf gave Nathan Darity my number and he invited me to speak at a CreativeMornings/Pittsburgh. Again, a woman helping to facilitate the growth of another woman. Helping me to see that my voice, though a practitioner working behind the scenes, was in fact creative and necessary to be heard. Then Janet Sarbaugh asked me to speak at The Heinz Endowments Moral Leadership summit, when Jasiri was unable to make it. It’s funny because it could have stopped there, but Janet saw something in me that allowed me to give a speech that I am still receiving compliments on and it was over a year ago.

I mention all three opportunities because they were turning points toward appreciating my own voice. All facilitated, in one way or another, by women. Since then, by Divine interference, I have gone on to speak at national conventions such as the Grantmakers in the Arts as a panelist (shout out to my unofficial mentor Justin), the APAP Conference NYC and SXSW as an awardee. As partners in this arts community, hell, this world, I think it is imperative that we encourage one another and build up one another…while being completely honest.

IMG_0940It has not been easy a Black woman, who even the most FEMINIST of feminist introduce as Jasiri X’s wife. To appreciate my own voice. My own thoughts. My own accomplishments. Though I am proudly his wife, I am also me.

It has not been easy as a Black woman, where to voice my own opinion, express my own culture, and celebrate my own innovation is constantly challenged and micro-aggressions become simply aggressions. Sometimes this voice unintentionally hurts other, but it is always well meaning and truthful. I am constantly being made aware of the power and impact of this voice. Bear with me.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is thank you to all of the people who have helped me see myself. Sometimes we all need a little help. Though I’m still working to figure out how I authentically show up in the world, you’re helping me on this long continuous journey and I appreciate you!

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#RatchetMuslim

My parents and sisters are all Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Like ride or die.  My father is an elder in the religion. Elders are the patriarchal heads of any given congregation vested with the authority to judge on God’s behalf and teach folks their understanding of God’s revelation to man. My mama is a pioneer, which basically means she preaches, literally, more hours than Jesus walked among us and my two sisters have dedicated their lives to the faith. I can often be founding talking enormous shit about the faith…but, honestly, I’m proud of my upbringing. Walking up to and talking strangers since age three made it so that I never meet a one.  Slanging Watchtowers and giving public talks has made it so that I feel comfortable talking to just about anyone, in front of anyone, about anything. My mother taught me how to sew, cook, clean, work, file taxes, and what forgiveness looks like.  She also taught me unconditional love for God and sacrifice for her man.  I am made in her image.

Around about 20 years of age, I realized that being a Jehovah’s Witness wasn’t the route for me.  Actually, if I am telling the truth…it was decided for me at the age of 20 that I was unrepentant for the act of premarital sex…which ironically actually made me unrepentant.  As such, I decided that organized religion of any sort was not for me.  My thought was that the judgement of those who felt they knew my heart, despite my confession, words and actions; was not reflective of God. So, I was done and remained non-denominational for eight years.

At the end of the eight years, I was introduced to Islam, like a lot of sisters are, by a man. In my case, though, the FOI married me, didn’t try to change me and we’re still together nineteen years later. I met him when I was still with my ex-boyfriend. No, I didn’t cheat.  He was my friend.   Then and now, he teaches me so much about myself through our successes and failures. He got his X like Malcolm and together we have tried to build a life on the principles of freedom, justice and equality.

The thing about Islam that made me want to take shahada/recite was that, as it was taught to me, it was about striving to submit your will to God’s.  That I could get with and still do. Perfection is not required.  Because it ain’t remotely possible.  God be Knowing.  I love this concept. It really isn’t just in Islam, though.  It’s literally in every religion, you know, the whole don’t judge piece.  One of my favorite passages in the Bible is John 8 when Jesus is literally saying he has even sinned…cuz he ain’t throw no stone either.  But for some reason, when we find God, in what ever shape we see The Divine…we sometimes forget our own imperfections.  Until God humbles us, that is…then we want all the mercy.

One day I was listening to a lecture and a minister was talking about who people pride themselves in being ratchet.  I sat with it for a second and of course thought he was talmbout me.  Whether he was or wasn’t…that was the impetus for this piece.  I love claiming ratchet, trifling, and other disparaging adjectives for one reason and one reason only.  I am who I am. And sometimes that’s ratchet.  However, I am also intelligent, a self defined success, gorgeous, giving, intuitive, and so much more…and I claim those too. I say I’m ratchet cuz sometime we want to get into respectability politics and act as though we can’t be all of the above, even if we’re striving to be what we define as better.  Just cuz we wear a hijab don’t mean we don’t wear thongs.  Just cuz we are saved don’t mean we don’t listen to/are/or have been SZA on the weekend.  Just cuz you don’t cuss don’t mean you ain’t using the hard shower mode or vaseline. We are human. Beautifully flawed. Learning as we go along.

I think sometimes we make God unaccessible for folks.  All the holy books are filled with examples of things that could be defined as ratchet. All. Of. Them. So, to remove ourselves so far from error is to set, not only ourselves up for failure and disappointment, but also those who take encouragement from our example. I believe that’s why the ratchetness is left in tact in scripture for us to learn from.  To be like yo, if this dude denied Jesus three times and still gets love in the bible…I can’t be that bad.  Like, for real Moses literally killed someone and bounced. I ain’t killed nothing but that bag of hot Cheetos! Abraham had a knife to his own child’s neck…but, is the father of all monotheistic religion. Rahab has been classified as a prostitute for centuries, cuz patriarchy…whole ‘nother blog…but is revered because she helped Joshua scope out the promised land.  When I see success through imperfection, I am inspired.  When I see God come through for literally everyone…from the adulterers to the virgins…I get mad sometimes, especially if it ill effects me…but can’t deny seeing the Divine in it…even in my own pain and struggle…The Divine is always present, because The Divine dwells in me.

So, I will always point out my flaws and celebrate my successes…whether its #RatchetMuslim #RatchetCEO #RatchetProgramOfficer #RatchetWife #RatchetMomma #RatchetMentor #ThatProverbs31Chick #DopeAssWife #NotYoAverageProgramOfficer #Wendy or whatever because these are all a part of me and maybe, just maybe my imperfections will inspire somebody to work on their own relationship with The Divine.  And if not…at least I am ok with who I am…and me and The God will chop it up about my behavior when we meet.  -HM

Where I Live…

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I am heavy right now. Heavy with the loss of my mother in law. Heavy with the pain of my spouse, my children, my family. Heavy with the realization that my spouse, like many others…will continue to work towards a collective freedom, justice, and equality…through their personal pain…frustration…and illnesses. Not really taking a minute…because there isn’t one. I am heavy with the knowledge that the struggle for freedom does not stop…because of pain…because of loss. Instead, it is spurred. I ain’t mad…but, yes, I am heavy. Heavy with the thought that Black mothers continue to mourn the death of their children while STILL marching…resisting…bearing the brunt of the entire movement…challenging white supremacist capitalist patriarchy…while making 7.25 an hour…

I am mourning. I am mourning the loss of my mother in law, who, like so many who, understood the necessity of sacrifice through the pain…through the loss…and through the fatigue. How mothers, particularly single mothers, who, like Jesus’ mama, Mary…raise messiah’s who understand our community is filled with other messiah’s, painted as criminals…blasphemers, who in reality are survivors…who are undocumented…who are lovers…who are gay…who are straight…who are trans…who are queer…who get high…who get drunk…who eat pork…who call God by different names…who are all people who exist by the permission of the Divine and fight every day for our judgemental asses freedom. I am mourning those who sacrifice their own dreams, goals, and hopes that others would know strength, love, peace, success…and happiness…I mourn for those who do not accept themselves while living in a world that doesn’t accept them either…

I am angry…angry that people we love die. Angry that I can’t answer my children’s questions regarding God these days with the fervor I once had. Angry that years have turned to minutes and time is no longer promised. Angry…that Mamie Till has yet to receive justice for her baby…her baby died that died in 1955…mad as fuck that these demons can admit to murder…that for years Carolyn Bryant Donham could lie…that they, the murderers of her beautiful little boy, our beautiful little boys… can all…could all…live lives fully…into their old ages…and make money off of the pain and suffering of Black families…that these murderers and their culpable offspring can make money off the pain and suffering of Black families still, because our pain…our death…our imprisonment…makes white folks money. We are living in a time, not so new, that Muslims are being blatantly targeted…that Black people are being blatantly targeted…that women’s rights are being blatantly stripped…so yeah, I’m mad as fuck…not cuz I happen to be all three…but because I refuse to be a victim….angry that our blood continues to flow in rivers, oceans, streets, and on coroners tables while every day new executive orders are being signed that take us further into the fall of America and first ladies wear Ralph Lauren suits while our mothers do crowd fundraising to bury our children.

I am not encouraged. I am not hopeful. I am changed. The platform of 1Hood Media, founded by my husband, charted for the last three years by me, and staffed by authentic artists and activists who have made a life’s commitment to seeing our people be free for at least a decade, has always been dedicated to the upliftment of our people and the training and development of like minded artists and activists. We are few, but we are about this life. Our media academy has always looked to challenge media perception and portrayals of our people and encouraged those involved to tell their own stories. Make no mistake about it, our mission and vision is solely about liberation. Our purpose is to unify, cultivate, and continue as the first line of artistic response to oppression. We are sincere, genuine, hard working people who are invested in this work of freedom, justice and equality for the people. We will continue to fight. We will continue challenge. We will continue to demand. We will continue to work. We will continue to love. We will win.

“Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.”
― James Baldwin

Every Morning at 6 am

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IMG_8301Every morning at 6:00 a.m. give or take 30 minutes, I am awakened by the sound of our 4 year old charging into our room. He doesn’t care much for formality, his thoughts are strictly based upon his wants. Every morning at 6:00 a.m. he burst into our room, unaware of the possible situations and nuances of those in love, to begin his morning with his mommy. Every morning at 6:00 a.m., I make his tea and take my blood pressure medication with my cup of coffee…not exactly sure if this is wise or not, but this is what I do. He and I do ABC Mouse.com, so he can be a super prodigy upon his arrival to kindergarten next year, crushing other children under his massive intellect…or at least spell his name right. He always tries to play one of the games instead of doing the learning activities. And because he grins at me with his beautiful little face that looks exactly like the man I fell in love with 16 years ago, I sometimes let him. This is our morning ritual and one of my favorite parts of each day. It is our routine. It is our time together. It is not promised.

13879297_10153655524816681_6953522598144763091_nWith the same frequency of my special time with my son, each morning when I open my laptop, I witness the murder of another Black or Brown person. EVERY SINGLE DAY, I witness the death of someone’s child. Today it was the murder of Paul O’Neal by Chicago police. The other day it is was Korryn Gaines. Skye Mockabee. Joyce Quaweay. The list goes on and on and on and on…and it is to much.

As I live, feel and breath in the sorrow of so many Black and Brown women, I think about the reality and depth of impact upon each of these families. The everyday routines we, the still physically alive, are able to share with our sons, daughters, and partners are no longer a given. Rote activities with loved ones, like what I adore with my son, are now enjoyed at a premium in this world where Black and Brown families are quite literally targets.

I once heard Ron Davis, the father of Jordan Davis who was murdered by White supremacy for listening to his music to loudly for Michael Dunn, his murderer’s, taste; speak about moments of silence. He spoke about the everyday things he can no longer do with his son. He spoke about no longer being able to enjoy the mundane things we all take for granted. How watching certain sports and television shows bring excruciating pain because his son is no longer present to watch them with him. He spoke about the pain he experiences “at night, especially at night” when the cameras, the people, and comforters have all gone away.

Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, Thursday, May 12. Sandra Bland was found hanged in her Texas jail cell July 13th, 2015. | James Foster / For the Sun-Times

As he spoke, I looked around the room at Geneva Reed Veal (Sandra Bland’s mother), Wanda Johnson (Oscar Grant’s mother), and Sybrina Fulton (Trayvon Martin’s mother), each mother nodding in agreement with Mr. Davis’ solemn words. Agony etched across the countenance of each reluctant celebrity, part of a club we’ve no desire to join.

We exist in a world where traffic tickets become assassination contracts and children we just kissed become either dead or orphans. We drive cars that become our coffins and walk down streets that are our gallows. This is the reality of the Black and Brown in America. Every. Single. Moment. Counts. Every. Single. Word. Counts. Every touch. Every glance. Every kiss. Every hug. Every meal. Every orgasm. Every breath counts. Love each other fiercely, completely and honestly. Share the stories of our past, present, and how we now fight for our future.

IMG_8213I write these words, tired, a mother of three Black babies and a wife of a Black man, an activist, who diligently works towards our collective freedom, justice, and equality. I write these words cognizant that today might be the last day I see any of them. I write these words as a reminder for the families who bear the greatest burden of our generation. I ask us to remember that once they were just like us, living life with their loved ones, unaware that the next moment they would become a hash tag. When we see the families of our fallen, please give them your love; light, empathy and prayers and if you must take a picture; let it be to honor their strength, not to act as though you have walked beside them in their pain. I write to remind us to fight now, in whatever way.  I write to ask us to donate to the defense funds, because the families need our help. We must become a collective force against this, our genocide. Passionately. Regularly. I write to prompt us to fight now against oppression, not only when it becomes real to us…coming out of our computer screens into our own living rooms.

The Magnificent Juxtaposition

I took a walk today. Down North Michigan Avenue…towards the magnificent mile. It is 81 degrees outside and Chicago is absolutely lit. My children are with my sister in law and my husband will be here tomorrow. The hotel coffee is actually good and they have this bomb ass lemon water with crushed ice in the most beautiful container, that I’m actually considering stealing.  In fact, according to my phone, I got in 9608 steps, all before 9 am. At the time of writing I’ve clocked 13864. I had decided that when I got here I was going to make fajr every morning, actually read and comprehend something non arts admin related, and take a walk all before starting my work day. For this one day, I have made my word to myself bond. I am feeling fucking awesome and quite aware that God does in fact dwell in me.  It might just have been the perfect morning.

So, I’m thinking about the project Jasiri and I are working on, P.O.W.E.R. (People Oppressed Will Eventually Rise), while walking down North Michigan Avenue. The Magnificent Mile. North Michigan Avenue…where homeless people sleep under windows with mannequins wearing 20 thousand dollar outfits…where White privilege walks down the street in tailor made suits checking the time on Rolex’s instead of phones and where the streets look like they are paved in diamonds, because people that look like me are cleaning them…

IMG_5145I keep walking…towards Oak Street Beach and after a moment I realize the only image of a Black person chilling, outside of myself, was on a mural…and he is bodiless and his countenance is weary/pensive…so to call him chilling is kinda a stretch.  Most Black folks appeared to be either students or on their way to work. I did see one brother walking around the Water Tower and he wouldn’t give me eye contact, so we could do the nod…whateva sucka!

Now, I’m not like, floored or anything…as this is not a Black neighborhood. But, what was so very interesting to me was seeing what this particular affluent neighborhood looked like at 7 am. When I thought of the Magnificent Mile, I would more or less think of the stores. But, when you walk down North Michigan Avenue, you’ll see a bunch of really dope private residences down the side streets.  Big beautiful graystones that are now protected historical properties and condos to die for.  This is like THEE walkable residential neighborhood.

Folks out here walking dogs, biking, and jogging. Old men are walking slowly with yellow polos and pink shorts on…old women with faces worn from too much alcohol and sun…outchere walking…strolling…chilling. I know for a fact the scene is completely different on 115th and State where I grew up in Chicago. Only folks on the street at 7am are my retirement age Momma doing street work (what Jehovah’s Witnesses call their proselytizing efforts while not at yo door) and folks catching the bus to/from their jobs. The juxtaposition is sobering.  I am wondering if, at 7 am, what is the activity in North Lawndale.  What is the activity, at 7 am, in Englewood where my Grandma’s house was? Cuz I’m thinking about stress, and lack, and illnesses that are caused not by heredity…but economics, lifestyles and choices…and all of it borne of oppression.

I’m tripping because I am here, on the Magnificent Mile, fortunate to have a break from the hustle of being self employed.  Living a childhood dream of flossing in my downtown apartment. Fortunate that for the next few days, technically,  I don’t have to worry about nothing but Celeste and making art…  Fortunate to be able to take a walk by myself, not worrying about my child darting into the street or Gorilla pens at the Animal Prison. In this moment, I have no grants to write…no clothes to wash…no food to cook…  I am fortunate that I am able to, while here in Chicago, engage in a regimine of self care that is much more difficult in my normal life…and the lives of many others.  I am chill.  I am creative.  I am not tired. I am fuckin’ euphoric.  Not because I am physically away from my fam…who will join me shortly, but, because my pace has slowed down tremendously and I am wide open. Grateful.

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It made me think, yes, affluence absolutely affords the luxury of leisure….the luxury of ease. Cuz when you make enough…you move differently and your priorities shift in terms of the everyday. When you make enough, you can take vacations…even in your own city. When you make enough, you can only work one job…if you want to.   When you make enough the necessities of life are a given. When you make enough, if your car breaks down you don’t have to wait til the next check to fix it. When you make enough Obama care actually helped your health insurance situation.  This simply is not everyone’s reality.  This is not my everyday reality.

How do we create environments of ease within our communities with the resources we have? Environments where our self-care is a priority and we are able to take a minute to make it so…with ease? I know we are doing so in pockets…but I’m wondering what an entire community, in a less affluent neighborhood, would look like without the stress of survival on its neck. I am still in my thoughts…but, I wanted to share a bit of what I am seeing, feeling, and thinking…before I get back to my normal life sans the luxury of a residency.

 

Jasiri X and 1Hood Media’s June Residency at SAIC Explores Oppression in Various Communities, Cultures, and Definitions

17711_10200596118423105_820243107087768701_nFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Paula Simon
onehood@gmail.com
Jasiri X and 1Hood Media’s June Residency at SAIC Explores Oppression in Various Communities, Cultures, and Definitions

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 1, 2016) — 1Hood Media’s CEO, Celeste Smith, and Creative Director and Founder Jasiri X will take part in a two-week residency at the School of Art Institute Chicago (SAIC) during the month of June.

Working with UK based producer, Agent of Change, Jasiri X’s next project, P.O.W.E.R. (People Oppressed Will Eventually Rise), is geared towards exploring oppression in various communities, cultures and definitions. Jasiri utilizes a multi-faceted as he incorporates pillars of Hip Hop culture throughout his unique approach. “Whereas Jasiri approaches the project from the lens of vocal journalist providing commentary via thought provoking rhyme and analyses, we are also in the process of documenting personal narratives surrounding oppression and media portrayal of oppressed members of society,” says Celeste Smith. The broader project, partially funded by Open Society Foundations, currently includes a short film entitled, #WarOnUs, documenting the struggle of oppressed communities in Colombia, and an album of the same title.

“While documenting Hip Hop around the world, we have found that the cultures pillars are in place, celebrated, and adapted to fit each community,” she says. Celeste approaches P.O.W.E.R. visually as a photojournalist and videographer, documenting their approach and crafting the narrative, visually, of the work they produce.

This residency will give Jasiri the opportunity to create specifically surrounding the topic of oppression, documenting perspectives within the Chicago community—specifically the North Lawndale community—surrounding oppression and its various facets and impact on communities of color. Celeste and Jasiri plan to moderate a community dialogue regarding the idea of P.O.W.E.R. and whether it is an eventuality.

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Celeste aka HauteMuslim named 2016-2018 APAP Leadership Fellow

 

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Photo by Leah Johns

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Paula Simon
onehood@gmail.com
1Hood CEO Celeste Smith Joins the 2016-2018 APAP Leadership Fellows Program

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 28, 2016) — 1Hood CEO Celeste Smith has been selected as one of 26 members for the 2016-2018 APAP (The Association of Performing Arts Presenters) Leadership Fellows Program.

The APAP Leadership Fellows Program seeks to build a body of knowledge and contribute to the growth and development of the field of performing arts presenting in a time of unprecedented change. Participants that are selected for the inaugural cohort of Fellows have demonstrated a commitment to a collaborative process that will enhance the knowledge, skills and overall capacity needed to effect change in their current work and for the future.

Celeste Smith is chief executive officer of 1Hood Media, a collective of conscious Hip Hop artists and activists. 1Hood Media utilizes Hip Hop as a means of raising awareness around issues affecting oppressed people around the world. Ms. Smith oversees 1Hood Media operations, finances, programming, communications and development for 1Hood Media. Ms. Smith received her bachelor’s degree in Arts Management and Film and Design Technology from Chatham University. Celeste’s arts and media tutorial focused on theories of black masculinity with a special focus on tropes and historical occurrences. She graduated cum laude, which is one of her proudest achievements.

“I am extremely excited about this opportunity—my first fellowship—because my project is affordable housing for artists. I am very passionate about the issue of displacement when gentrification hits areas that already underpaid artists and/or entrepreneurs have built, so to be able to take a moment to focus on this is quite a blessing.”

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Haute in the City

Bismillah…

I have but one New Years resolution…To get over myself.  To stop getting in my own way.  My mind is a labyrinth sometimes.  I think about stuff entirely to much and often times create non-existent scenarios that cause me more pain than reality ever would.  I murder the joy attached to what spontaneity brings so much so that I can be deemed a serial killer. So, as I think…write and edit…this resolution takes many forms that all boil down to the same thing.  Get over myself (i.e. stop standing in my own way…)

Now, like I said, it takes many forms…but today we gonna talk about one.  I wanna lose weight. It’s difficult for for a couple of reasons.  One, I love food…sugar….bread…beer…pasta. Pretty much any and everything you’re either not supposed to eat or partake of in moderation.  Though, I don’t drink alcoholic beverages often…except that one week long time in Cancun…I do like a nice lil’ O-Doul’s or five.  As we all know beer (alcoholic or non) equals a lot of stupid unnecessary calories that would be better gotten eating a gyro cheeseburger. But, anyways … yeah…big fan of food…except for pork (per religion) and beer nuts…which are absolutely horrific…

The other reason, is because I absolutely LOVE my shape and so does my mayn. I tipped a lil’ thicker than normal in 2015, but I still am pleased with my body. Annoyed that GGG bras cost a car note…but, pleased none the less…

12141670_10200959756193822_481012442473561408_nSeriously, sometimes I look in the mirror and be like, I would hit that…but my blood pressure is high…like dangerously high.  I don’t want to take medication, so the only thing I can do to get it under control is to lose weight and according to Ms Laura get a colonic cleanse (which I also intend to do).  So, Wendy (my other personality) and I have decided that we going in this year.  It’s about health…mentally, physically, morally, and financially. Again, this was so the goal last year…but, whatever…Happy New Year bish…

I worked out this morning….this year is no different from the previous…I start off by walking on the treadmill.  Weight loss setting…check. Head phones…check.  Let’s go!!!!!!!  At around 2 minutes I think I done did the damn thing…um, not so much…28 fucking minutes left.  Like really? I’m sweating profusely…pulse racing…legs hurting…the treadmill on like 2.o…this shit ain’t worth it!

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Now it is at this precise moment that I can go sit down and eat like all ten of those Trader Joe’s fruit leathers…or I can keep going.  Cuz, you know, I hate to lie to myself and high blood pressure can kill you.  So, today, I keep going and doing so gives me the name to this blog and another blog post  for another day entitled Listen to Billy F’n Idol.  So, this song helped me through my work out today…for the record I know that Haute is not pronounced hot…but today iunno care…cuz it’s my theme song)

So, Billy might not be what gets you to the full 30 minutes…and tomorrow he might not get me there…the point is today Ima do what I need to do to get to the best me.  Today.  I’ll worry about tomorrow, January 2nd, tomorrow.  The best me needs to weigh about 50 pounds less…of course this will create a completely different monster (see the blog on Hottie Muslim…) but, I’ll cross that bridge when we get there… The one thing I know for certain…the only thing standing between me and that nude beach… I mean that that healthy weight… is me.  I accept it and intend to conquer her…or eat a pizza…one of the two…

The March, Broken Nails, and Nostalgia

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Bismillah!

C1993This week I have watched people from various communities post about the Million Man March. This week marks the eighteenth anniversary of the March and of course I am taken back to the day of the March in my own life.   I would love to post how I was this conscious chick with a thorough understanding of how profound the March was…that I stayed home and watched proudly as my then boyfriend left out the door on his way to Washington D.C.  Um, no…not even.

Now, I wasn’t quite ratchet, but I was kinda unconcerned.  I think apathetic is the word I’m looking for. I was in survival mode and that was it.  The connectedness of it all…the survival of my people…not even a blip on my personal radar…I was swimming in the Sea of Me, as Jill Blashack Strahan would say.  My life, my world, my friends, my man, my survival.  That is it and all.

I did stay home from work and school that day, per the Minister’s request.  But it wasn’t because I understood the Minister to be a man of God and of the people.  Nor was it because I was so vested in the need for our people to atone, be organized and take responsibility for our own. Nope…not even.  I stayed home because at that time all it took was a broken nail for me to call off of work. (I am proud to say I have matured since becoming self employed…a little bit…lol) Truth be told, at that time in my life, even though I grew up in Chicago and was “kicking it” (I understand the kids don’t use that terminology anymore…) on the East side of Chicago (where NOI HQ is) back then….I hadn’t the slightest idea of who Minister Farrakhan was. My interaction with the Minister consisted of a poster my boyfriend had of him on the wall in his bedroom. Plus, I had seen the Wrath of Farrakhan on In Living Color and I had seen Farrakhan on the Arsenio Hall show…but, I didn’t pay attention.  Still didn’t care.

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 1.27.59 PMSo, as some celebrate the March and travel to Tuskegee, Alabama to hear the Minister speak, I think we should think about the reason the Minister called the March.  I think we should think about the steps of atonement.  I think we should think about our people and how we so desperately need to collectively awaken, take responsibility for our own lives and actively get together to “do some shit“!

Sometimes as folks in a religion we think that people actually give a damn about our religion. Um, not so much.  I think what makes people care enough to even investigate what we say we believe is the example we personally put forth.  So, if we are all about pontificating from a soap box while our communities fall all around us, we do more damage than good (IMO).  Talking about how to make marriages work when you’re on your 5th divorce don’t move me…0_o  How ’bout you actually make your marriage work and then come see me…mmmk?! The only reason I ever even agreed to visit the mosque in the first place is because I saw a first hand example of someone striving to live the life he said he believed…again, not so much what he said, but what he did. (Plus, he wasn’t so hard on the eyes…but that’s another story for another blog regarding using your power for good!) What was I saying…had little flashback moment to his fine-ness then and now….Ok, ok…I was saying that he was an example of what he said…it didn’t and still doesn’t stop with just his words.

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 1.27.42 PMLove or hate the Minister he has been grinding on the front line for almost 60 years! Yep! Not that he grind-ed… (past tense attempt…not sure that’s even a word…lol) I’m talking about still grinding. Out there with the people, even to this day…doing more than just talking, tweeting, and posting. Don’t believe me? Listen to the Minister speak today , October 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm EST, and you will see a 80 year old man doing more in a day than most of us will ever do in a life time and looking hella healthy while doing it!  Again, healthier than some half his age!

Just for the record, I don’t consider myself an individual that is doing the damn thing. As I type this blog, I am keenly aware that I should be doing more to assist in improving the lives of the disenfranchised of our society.  On days like this when we talk about the March and celebrate Atonement, I think about how to parlay what I believe into a change in my life and those who come into contact with me. Not big into trying to convert people, I’m more about challenging people to accept who they are and embracing their own gifts and talents!  I think about how when I interact with people (inside and outside of the mosque) people need to see the love that anyone who has experienced the Minister has seen and felt…so, not the soundbites people hear! But, ultimately I think about whether or not am I doing what God put me here to do, cuz at the end of the day, it’s about the work, not nostalgia!

Hottie Muslim

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Bismillah!

activistwife

So the other day I was picking up my husband from the airport.  He had gone somewhere that was very difficult for me to deal with  and stayed for a number of days…so you can imagine that I was super happy that he made it back home.

On this particular day,  I decided to pick him up more as “Hottie” Muslim than “Haute” Muslim. Side note: Don’t judge me! Allah saw me way before your judgmental eyes read this post…

Anyway, as I rode to the airport on this beautiful summer day dressed other than myself, I began to think about how absolutely fine I felt and looked.  I noticed the stares from the men and women…and shamed to admit I liked the attention!  I had the window down, the sun was shining and I was singing my favorite songs!  As my eyes looked up to the rear view mirror and I caught a glance at myself, I thought…MILF!

Please make no mistake,  do not misunderstand this post! It is not a celebration of my Islamically inappropriate behavior.  Nor is it some “Hey, look at me” self esteem post…that’s for tomorrow (;  The entire point to this post is what my next thoughts were.  My very next thought as my eyes left the rear view mirror still celebrating my ample glittery cleavage was that Allah is not pleased.

My second thought was how easy it was for me to do it.  Yeah, I felt mad uncomfortable and even thought about 602322-daria_s_sholder_palsputting on a jacket.  But, it was like that cartoon angel and devil on your shoulder.  That day the devil won…This is the thought I want to talk about, because I really don’t need to expound of God’s thoughts regarding immodesty.  Striving… Anyway, I thought about how I could just as easily dress this way if  I wanted to…everyday.  I thought about how we all know what we are supposed to do and in different matters choose to do the exact opposite.  Whether it’s an agreement between two people, whether you feel it’s what God wants you to do, or whether it’s something you promised yourself…It could be something small to something big…but, the point is, we make these kind of decisions every single day.  It lead me to the thought that we should applaud folks for the small things.  Applaud folks that do what they say they are supposed to do.  I’m not saying that we should have some sort of parade or whatever, but damn this is a sick sad world…(Daria Flashbacks abound…) So, someone striving deserves some applause! Even if that someone is you!

Cuz I gotta tell you don’t nobody gotta do nothing, so when they do, when we do… make our word bond, support them/yourself.  I went out of the house with dressed as the Anti-Hijab, no lie, and it was easy, by comparison. I don’t have a problem dressing Islamically…not really my uphill road, got other issues…( Now I know, there’s some deep rooted spiritual illness that I need to deal with and trust, Allah is not done with me….He got it… Normally, though, I don’t go out the house dressed immodestly.) The point is we live in a world that is built on selling that we should be the exact opposite of the spiritual guidelines provided for us. Spouses aren’t supposed to cheat  and we know it…but, at the end of the day…we could do it if that’s what we wanted to.  So, even though someone isn’t supposed to…look at the world we live in.  Some people do not care…so when you have someone trying…If you are someone striving…focus on that and applaud the struggle.  Cuz, it is ordained and there isn’t one single reason why we can’t applaud when someone makes the right decision.