Monthly Archives: May 2017

My Dream Office

Me and my husband are moving. And if you’ve ever lived in Los Angeles and had to move, you know how much life is sucking for us right now. The stress of finding a new place has taken its toll but there is one beacon of hope guiding me ever so gently to the peaceful shores of… peace. And that beacon – dear reader- is the promise of my new office.

Right now we live in a two-bedroom with a king sized bed in the master and a full sized bed in the spare. The spare room has a tad bit more room (because the bed is smaller) and in that teensy-weensy corner of space, we managed to connect a shelf to the wall and put a big-ass computer on top of it. We scooch a chair up to this shelf and work on the computer, pretending that it’s a desk. Pretending we have an office. And pretending that we can get work done in this cramped up bit of space.

One day (a few months ago) while prepping the spare room for a video shoot, we had to take down the bed. And while the bed was out of the room, seeing how much space we’d deprived ourselves of, we decided immediately that an office would be in our future. It felt like that scene in Step Brothers where Will Ferrell enthusiastically exclaims “We can get so many activities done!” A new world had opened up for us. And from that point on, the clock was ticking until the moment we could be rid of that bed and replace it with a desk.

And now that day is quickly upon us and here’s how I’m thinking it’s going to change my life.

**Drum roll please**

It will give me the feeling of going to work again. As many of you know, I’ve quit my job. And there’s something about not having to wake up in the morning and be somewhere at a specific time or else you’re going to be fired or yelled at that takes the wind right out of your sails. I mean, at first it was cool and the gang. I’d wake up and stare at the ceiling in bliss. Stretch and roll over, taking my sorry ass right back to the magical world of sleepy-time dream-world land. And while these kinds of mornings will never get old for me, they’re not productive AT ALL. They usually lead to a day of playing catchup. I try to get into work mode, but find myself lounging on the couch with the keyboard on my lap, wearing a t-shirt and panties and fighting every instinct to just turn on the TV and catch up on Empire. And guess what? Lucious’s shady ass always wins.

So with this office space, I’m hoping I can jumpstart myself into “office mode.” Sure, I don’t have a commute anymore but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a nine to five. Yeah, I don’t have supervisors to answer to but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a responsibility to do my job in a thorough and efficient manner. And when I really think about it, I do have a supervisor. Myself. And if I can trick myself into following an unnecessarily stingy grocery budget (which I have for the past few weeks), I can surely create an arbitrary corporate schedule for myself to follow. And so with every waking moment, I plan out my days as if getting ready to start a new job. I anticipate waking up early and doing yoga. Taking my shower and doing my hair and makeup. Putting on my work outfit (nothing too formal) and getting to the “office” at nine A-M on the dot to start my workday. I’ll have my coffee on my desk and sift through emails, before reaching out to people and working on new projects, reading scripts, writing scripts, writing other things (blogs, articles, proposals, etc.), reaching out to new contacts and maintaining old ones.

It’s going to be glorious and I can’t wait to bully myself into submission.

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Anne with an E

So I just finished the Netflix series Anne With An E and I’m angry – not with the show itself – but with how the season ended.

To be sure, I thoroughly enjoyed the series. Casting was impeccable. The lead character of Anne was played by Amybeth McNulty who was practically made for this role. Loud, overly-dramatic, wiry and gangly and believable as hell. I’m probably a bit bias because the character is very much like my niece. Anywho, I was drawn into the show by Amybeth’s performance. Also, I love slice of life period dramas. In other words, I knew I was hooked when I saw Anne heating up toast on an ancient looking stove or scenes where the Cuthberts sit around eating turnips and various turn of the century meals that don’t look appealing at all.

From what I’ve heard there are a bunch of Anne of Green Gable purists who feel that the TV show is terrible because it strays too far from the books and takes a dark turn. I can dig it (as the show definitely has some dark elements) but I don’t agree that the show is bad at all. I think Anne with an E is great if you – like me – have no idea what to expect. I turned it on because Netflix featured it on their homepage (very effective marketing) and I liked the little girl’s face. The character’s talkativeness and positive outlook on life despite her horrible experiences as an orphan were at times heartbreaking and other times pleasantly entertaining.

Anne with an E brought to mind the kind of books that I enjoyed as a child and makes me regret not reading this series back in the days when I had time to breeze through books. So many of the things Anne said were “deliciously” quotable and super inspiring to me. I particularly like this quote…

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”

Insert heart-face emoji here.

There’s a side of me that curses like a sailor, holes up in my room for hours, hates the world and just wants to punch people in the face all day. And then there is the side of me that wants to run through a field collecting cherry blossoms and petting puppies and this show totally appeals to the ladder. I would absolutely recommend this show to those of you who just want a good ole fashioned, story about a town full of white people in turn of the century Canada and the cute (and kind of obnoxious) red-haired orphan with a big imagination and an even bigger heart.

SPOILER

So time for me to talk about what annoyed the shit out of me. And don’t worry, it’s not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. The show ends on a cliffhanger as Anne invites a man into her house. This man is one of a pair of criminals who intend to rob (and likely hurt) the Cuthberts. She doesn’t know this, of course, but we (the audience) do. So as soon as Anne lets this guy in, the camera lingers on her unsure face and her emotions go through a range of nervousness and optimism that is totally unnecessary and confusing considering she’s not supposed to know what’s happening.

The show ends with us worrying about the safety of Anne and the humble family that so kindly saved her from her tragic orphan life. But this final scene was the only time I questioned the acting in the series. It was almost as if the character was saying, “Gee whiz! It seems me and the Cuthberts have gotten ourselves into quite the pickle. Stay tuned for more adventures of Anne with an E next season!”

Other than that, it was all good and I enjoyed it with abandon. I’m currently looking for the next series to get into. I’m thinking it might be Hap and Leonard.

A Good Script is Hard To Find

I recently wrote, directed and produced a comedic web series. And now that that Herculean task is nearing completion, I’m back at square one… looking for my next project to produce. Here’s the thing – I don’t really want to write my next project and I’m not too fond of directing it either. I just want to produce. The problem is, I haven’t been able to find a worthy script.

One thing that people don’t really know about producers is that we are the people who do the grunt work. We gather all of the resources and people needed to make films possible. The investors, the crew, the salespeople, the marketing team, the special effects, you name it we have our hand in it. It’s not an easy task, so having a good script is the first requirement.

The first thing a producer has to do is fall in love with the script. Why? Because we will have to be the film’s biggest cheer leader. We have to be. How else are we going to keep things going? How else would we get money for the project? How else are we going to get people excited enough to see the film and to tell their friends to see the film? How are we going to keep ourselves motivated enough to see the project through to completion. So all of these things add up to this one fact: it’s gotta be a good script.

Because nobody’s going to be putting their blood sweat and tears into something they don’t believe in. Especially the person responsible for getting the thing to happen in the first place. So with this in mind, I’ve been looking for something that’s going to knock my socks off. Something that’s going to be my foray into the big leagues of feature length films. Unfortunately, I gots nothing. And the pitches I’ve been getting have so much more promise than the actual execution of these ideas. Also, I get a lot of great pitches from people who aren’t motivated enough to sit down and write the damned script. That frustrates me more than anything.

I have plenty of directing buddies. Plenty of crew people I can call on in a jam. I know a ton of producers, like myself. But my writing buddies fall into one of three categories…

  1. People I wouldn’t work with because they don’t know how to take notes.
  2. People who can’t finish a script and/or can’t tell a good story.
  3. People with no scripts.

In no way am I complaining, though. I feel like I’m being lead toward something else. And that ‘something else’ is writing my own script. Begrudgingly, I’m leafing through old notebooks and spreadsheets of abandoned projects and deciding to hunker down and get them done. Sometimes when you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. My only problem is, I don’t know if I can do it right.

No time like the present to find out.

Everybody’s a Writer These Days

As (the two of you) who follow my blog know, I quit my job nearly a year ago. **Updates on that later** Since then, I’ve been working like a horse and doing as much research as possible about living the freelance life. I’ve subscribed to a bunch of blogs and websites that give tips about being a freelancing entrepreneur but here’s the thing… Nearly all of these resources give tips about writing careers. And while I’m okay with writer’s resources – I mean, the tips are pretty universal to business owners – that’s not my plan. But it seems like people who are telling others to quit their jobs and freelance are mainly suggesting writing gigs.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t consider switching tracks to a writing career – just to make a little cash until my producing takes off. And writing does happen to be my first love. But as much as I enjoy it – I don’t know that I have enough fire in my bones to make a go of it. Especially since the older I get, the more my opinions on things feel inconsequential. And this is not a tragic realization. If anything, it’s opened the door for my listening skills to glow up. Which, in turn, has stopped me from jumping to conclusions too quickly. Also, I really just don’t give a shit about things like I used to. And I’m totally okay with that. If anything, it feels refreshing. I have a better handle on what I should and shouldn’t waste my energy on. And in the rare instances where I feel strongly about something, I know that that’s REALLY how I feel and it’s not likely to change later.

I guess the big question is, would my state of “not-giving-a-shit-ness” affect how interesting my opinions are? What in the world could I be motivated to write about that would make people want to pay me to write stuff? If I start down this writing path, will it take up so much of my time that I won’t be able to pursue the things I really want career-wise? So many writing questions. And alas, I’m asking all of these questions on my blog, of all places. At this point, I think my solution will be to just write what’s on my mind in this here space and see where that takes me.

 

 

A List of Boundaries

I’ve been going to a therapist for well over a year now and – at the risk of sounding like a cliche – I think I had a breakthrough. By rambling on and on a few days ago, I came to a conclusion that is also very-much a cliche.

I have boundary issues.

I move the goal post when it comes to how I allow people to treat me. And here’s the thing, I came to this jarring conclusion about myself in the weirdest, most roundabout way. Through budgeting for groceries.

So here’s the thing. Me and my hubby have been handling our money situation all kinds of wrong. We buy food and then let it go to waste because we end up eating out or just not using up our ingredients. After a while, we’d find that we’ve thrown away hundreds of dollars worth of food at the end of the month. This ate me up inside more than it did my hubby who tends to run to the grocery store two, maybe three times a day. If he has a taste for something, he’s off to the store to get it. He will buy things just because we ran out of it, as opposed to because we plan to eat it. So when we saw that we were running into some rough financial patches, the first thing I wanted to change was our terrible grocery habit.

I created a tight budget and I mean, super tight. We plan our meals for the entire week according to this budget and buy all of the food we will need in one trip to the grocery store. There’s no “I have a taste for this or that” going on. We only do fully planned meals. If there’s a luxury food item it needs to fall within the budget or be made from scratch using ingredients we already have. And surprisingly, this budget has been working really well for us. Why? Because the hubby and I are competitive. So this has turned into a kind of game. How much lower than the budget can we get? How many different recipes can we derive from the ingredients on the list? What foods can we make based on what’s on sale? All of the excuses and strong cravings for eating out have even taken a backseat because the limits we put on ourselves are practically iron-clad. I never knew exhibiting this kind of discipline and self control could be so exhilarating. Also, real-talk, me and the hubster have never eaten so good.

Alright, so back to my boundary issues. I recently jumped off of a feature film project not too long ago. The project was great, but the person I would have been working with was exhibiting some red-flag behaviors and I decided to jump out while we were still in the early stages to avoid bigger issues in the future. This experience was unfortunate but not a big deal for me because… well… shit happens. Life goes on. What stood out for me, though, was everything about this project was something that I promised myself I would never produce in the first place. It pretty much checked every box on my “nope, not gonna happen” lists. But I was willing to forego all of the boundaries that I’d made because the script was really good, and it was a friend that pitched it to me, and it seemed doable, and why not? I’m not doing anything else these days and I can find a way to make it work and and and… It wasn’t that I was afraid to say “no.” It’s just that I wasn’t as firm in my convictions as I thought I was. I had no discipline. No self-control.

And so while relaying this experience to my therapist the other day, I mentioned how happy I was to have ‘dodged a bullet’ but then I had to ask myself how I’d gotten to that point in the first place. Why was I always going back on my word? Why did it seem that I was always biting off more than I could chew when it came to various aspects of my life? Thinking about this question lead me to grasping for areas of my life that were under control. And the first thing that sprang to mind was my super exclusive grocery list. This was the one area of my life where I was as firm as a bouncer at the hottest club in L.A. If it’s not on the list, it’s not happening. Oreo cookies? Nope, not on the list. No ifs, ands or buts. After this breakthrough, I realized that the list had become a healthy obsession. Writing down our restrictive budget made it so real to us that going outside of it was unthinkable.

With all of this in mind, I decided that I would make a list, a budget (if you will) that lays out my personal boundaries. Since having unspoken professional and social boundaries doesn’t seem to be working (similar to how my unspoken grocery boundaries were practically nonexistent) perhaps, writing them down and committing to them obsessively will lead me toward a reasonable social and professional life where I don’t have to waste energy questioning if I did the right or wrong thing. There is no right or wrong thing… only “the list.” Also, I’d like to refer to this list so that I can commit it to memory and possibly even send it out to those who need to know what I’m about.

Here’s what I have so far. It’s broken down into categories…

PROFESSIONAL

I don’t produce other people’s short films or TV pilots for free. I will only work on a short film or pilot that has financing in place and a budget set aside for my fee.

I don’t do crowdfunding.

I will produce a feature ONLY under these conditions…

  • The project must be under $1mil. to produce
  • I produce it alone or with additional producers of my choosing.
  • All above-the-line crew members must be proven professionals. No first-timers in terms of never having had experience doing this job in any capacity.
  • Film must include women of color as leads or in substantial roles.

I don’t read scripts that are not referred from a friend.

If I don’t like your script, I will not meet up with you to talk about it.

If I don’t like your script or concept, I will not produce your movie.

If I don’t like you, I will not produce your movie.

If you don’t take constructive notes or feedback, I will not produce your movie.

If I am directing or producing a film and you refuse to take orders from me, you’re fired.

 

SOCIAL

If you are not as attentive to what I have to say as I am to what you have to say, then we are not friends. I am your therapist and my fee is $33/hour. You only get one time for this to happen before I charge.

I will tell you when you’re being rude and/or inappropriate. If you don’t address it immediately, then our interaction is over regardless of the situation.

I won’t pretend I didn’t notice something you said or did. I will give words to what I feel.

I don’t get into loud arguments or fights in public places. But if I you ever force me into a situation where I must do this, our relationship is over.

MENTAL

I will focus my energy toward being positive and productive. Any changes in mood will be a choice.

 

That’s all I got for now. I’m going to start reading this list and reciting it every day like Arya Stark. Also, I’m sure I’m missing some things so I look forward to adding to this list as much as possible in the future.

 

For Black girls who have considered suicide when the light skinned girl decided that talking about her mixed ancestry for 2 hours wasn’t enough.

I haven’t written on this blog in a minute, but after checking my pending posts I noticed that I have some good stuff that has yet to see the light of day. So at the risk of being outdated in my material, I’m just going to post the shit and keep it moving. With that said, this post was written in November of 2016. Enjoy!

You ever have a long ass conversation with someone and think about all of the things that you wanted to say but didn’t… when it’s too late?

I did.

I recently had a conversation with a light skinned woman of mixed heritage/race. She was part Black, European and Asian. In appearance, I would have guessed she was Latina although she said most Black people just assume she’s Black and that’s what she identifies as. (I’m terrible at these things, to be honest. I’m not good at guessing accents,  or countries of origin either.)

Throughout our conversation, I could tell that her mixed race was something that was very important to her. It was something she brought up constantly, without prompting. Even before meeting her, I checked her social media profiles  and noticed that it was just a list of her entire racial breakdown.

We talked a ton about how she identifies and why she feels that mixed women aren’t given enough of a platform to speak about their specific issues. We talked about light skin privilege and she expressed that she feels that it is a burden and she has more anger toward racism than other Blacks because of it. At times I didn’t agree with her feelings, but I’m a good listener so I took in what she had to say.

After a restless night, I realized that this was one of those conversations that was going to bother me. Why? Because there were so many things I’d left unsaid.

I have a ton of mixed race friends and many of our conversations always ended with them telling me how hard they’d had it, with no regard whatsoever for the plight of those with dark skin (who undoubtedly have it harder.) And I’d always tried to argue with them that there’s another side to the light skin thing that they’re not acknowledging. But this never seemed to sink in for them. Light skin privilege is not so much a privilege but a burden, they’d say.

Fast forward to now, I’m having this conversation and it conjured up so many memories. And my only regret was not being able to say the perfect thing at the perfect time. The best way to get it all out, though, is for me to just say what I feel right now with no pressure. So here are some of the statements that the woman made the other day and the replies I wish I’d have said to her and many of the mixed race/light skin people who’ve made these same kinds of statements to me before.

“In situations where I’m treated better than my Black counterparts, I feel that this privilege has been forced on me and that leaves me feeling angry and helpless.”

Forced privilege doesn’t come close to having no privilege. Ex: If a bunch of your friends were wrongfully thrown into prison with the exception of you, you will NEVER be the helpless person in the story. Never. No matter how upset you were over what happened. If anything, you are in a better position to try to get them out of jail – by using the ‘forced privilege’ you were blessed with – as opposed to turning the focus on yourself and cursing the fact that you are free. Use your privilege to help those who don’t have it otherwise, it’s a waste. Also, turning the situation into a way to center yourself is disgusting and wrong.

 

“When I get angry, people think it’s cute. They don’t take me serious. They think I’m safe.”

Yet another good problem to have. Use it. As a Black woman, nearly everything I say is taken out of context. (Look at Michelle Obama. She is one of the most glorious women alive and they’ve tried to reduce her to an “Angry Black Woman” stereotype.) Personally, I am silenced at every turn. If you are allowed to speak up, then do it. Amplify the voices of Black people who have been silenced for centuries. Don’t curse your privilege, USE IT.

 

“Light skinned people are angrier than regular Black people because they’ve gone through so much more. They’re never ‘Black’ enough for the Black people or ‘White’ enough for the White people. We have more fire in our spirits because of this.”

Yes, there are identity issues that mixed race people must deal with but that does not make them angrier, more fiery or more righteous than anyone else. If anything, light skin people have the privilege of being more visible. They’re given more representation in Hollywood and in print media, among other advantages. With all of these advantages come platforms that allow more lighter complexioned people to speak up on issues that darker people are not given as much opportunity to talk about. This does not make them more fiery or upset, this just means the world is more likely to see them speaking about issues and allow it. (See Jesse Williams, Amandla Sternberg, etc.)

 

“I wish racists could see that I’m just as much of a threat as someone with darker skin.”

No, you don’t. And even if you did, what would be the point? Unless you want to be killed in the street. Unless you want everyone to know that your life doesn’t matter just like all of the other Black lives that have been snuffed out with impunity. Philando Castile didn’t commit suicide. He didn’t want to die and be a martyr. He was killed and the rest of us that have the privilege of being alive, used this situation as – yet another – example of why we need to continue the dialogue and civil unrest until something is done about it. We don’t need more dead bodies. We need action. And again, what would your being seen as a threat prove? It would strip you of the very privilege that might actually help the rest of us in the cause. Use your privilege to help the cause. Use your privilege to help the cause. Use your privilege to help the cause. Anything else is a selfish waste of time.

 

Too bad I don’t get a do-over. Any who, I understand that being of mixed race has its struggles. But a red flag always goes off for me when people shoehorn a ton of info about their very specific racial makeup into conversations without prompting. A racially ambiguous friend once told me that “What are you?” is one of the most annoying and commonly asked questions they receive. So with this in mind, I’ve never asked anyone that question and to be completely honest, I’ve never really cared to ask. Why? 3 main reasons …

1) There’s usually no reason for me to ask.

2) I’ve never found it particularly interesting and lastly…

3) I don’t even think to ask this when talking to people.

Either way, I’ve sat through a lot of conversations with my mixed-race brethren in which they’ve broken down to me what they identify as, why they identify as such, how much of each culture is in them and the history of their family’s racial makeup. And for someone who didn’t ask… this is exhausting.

Granted, it’s not the worst thing that could happen and I’m not completely oblivious to the idea of bringing up things that are important to how we navigate the world. I just hope that with this blog post, I can provide some perspective for those who feel that the struggles of being of mixed race is a subject that they must lead with or shoehoas opposed to allowing the conversation to organically progress there.

The World Turned Upside Down

I haven’t written on this blog in a minute, but after checking my pending posts I noticed that I have some good stuff that has yet to see the light of day. So at the risk of being outdated in my material, I’m just going to post the shit and keep it moving. With that said, this post was written in July of 2016. Enjoy!

WARNING: DIS FINNA BE A LOOOOOOONG BLOG POST!

I’m going to attempt not to be all over the place with this post. It’s been a minute since I’ve even posted anything real so sorry for that, but with everything that’s going on, I don’t have time to catch y’all up on my personal life.

Let’s get on with the get on, shall we?

To give some context to what I’m about to write, here’s a video of Louis C.K. explaining historical context (the relevance of which I will expound on in a moment.)

Okay, so I am a fervent believer in karma. Whatever you put into the universe is coming back. Skrong.

And deep down inside, I think most people and societies have a sense of karma. Hence popular expressions like, “chickens coming home to roost,” “what goes around, comes around,” and, of course, the George Washington on the face of Mt. Rushmore of karmic sayings “you reap what you sow.” Yes, the last one is biblical but you don’t have to go to church to understand it.

Any who… a lot of foul stuff is going on in America and it’s all centered around race – specifically crimes committed against Black people.

But whatoh delicate, gentle reader –  is new?

To prove my point, here’s a brief (and very broad) history of racial systems as it pertains to Black people in the U.S. …

1620 – 1865:  Slavery

1865 – 1968:  Discrimination, Lynchings, Jim Crow

1969 – Present:  Diet Racism (of the de jure and de facto variety)

So, with all of this unfairness going on in history, many White Americans have always had a sense of uneasiness around Black people. For example, during slavery, slave holders had the fear that their “lazy, no-good, untrustworthy, sneaky niggers” would run away or stage a rebellion and kill all the White people. This feeling was so strong that extreme precautions were taken in order to police slaves and scare them into submission. Although this didn’t always work and slave revolts/runaways were a reality, the measures taken were effective enough to keep slavery economically viable for a few more hundred years.

After slavery was over, there were numerous lynchings and riots as well as laws and policies created in order to systematically disenfranchise Black people and keep them out of White neighborhoods. These laws were created because of hatred, but mostly because of (drum roll please) fear.

Do you see where I’m going with this… ???

No?

It’s cool. I’ll keep going.

Despite all of the disenfranchisement-ness going on, over time Black people were able to become successful doctors, teachers, pullman porters, lawyers, journalists, morticians, janitors, pilots, I.T. people, housewives, house-husbands, dancers, beggars, criminals, veterinarians, rappers, golfers, etc., etc., etc. and the list goes on and on and on.

And although many of the laws that governed our society changed in result of the more enlightened times, the original mindset behind these policies and organizations remained in place.

Here’s an example… During slavery times Black people’s lives weren’t valued as much as White people. So if a Black person was killed, finding and convicting their murderer was not a priority. And if their murderer was White, forget about it. On the flip side, if a Black person was convicted of a crime, they were charged to the fullest extent of the law (and then some). This supported systems like penal labor which kept slavery going.

Fast forward to today. Although Black people are no longer slaves (and are considered an entire person) and the Civil Rights Act was passed (among other laws that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, sexual orientation, age, etc.) the mindset when it comes to policing Black communities and valuing Black lives has not changed at all.

So just like in slavery times, if a Black person is killed, their murderer is going to face less prison time (if they have to serve any time, that is) than the murderer of a White person.

Sidebar: As many complaints as I’ve heard about slavery movies, I’m still a big proponent of them for the reasons that I’ve laid out above. They tell you A LOT about our present society.

I’ve laid out a lot of facts just now but I want to revisit fear and chickens coming home to roost. And I’m going to keep it really real…Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 10.03.29 AM.png

As much as slavery was economically beneficial for White people, it was horrible as fuck. And no matter what historians want to tell themselves, slave masters back then knew slavery was shitty. They knew that slaves would have rather had a better life. In the back (and maybe even the front) of their minds, slave masters knew that these dark-skinned human beings that cooked, cleaned and did everything for them resented this “peculiar institution”. That’s gotta be scary. Knowing that the people you rely on the most, hate your guts and have every reason to kill you in your sleep.

And when slavery was over, White people continued to give Black people hell. And because of this, they constantly feared retaliation.

And nowadays, fear of Black retaliation is not as evident but it still exists. Phrases like “race war” or “race baiting” are indicative of a fear that if anyone brings up race, it’ll make the Black people angry. Then we (Black people) will suddenly remember that this country has not been very kind to us.

As if we ever forgot.

Every Black American family – I PROMISE you – has had some negative history as regards race. And we don’t have etch-a-sketch memories. We have centuries of knowledge about racism that has been passed on through generations for our mental, physical and emotional preservation. There has been no “reset” button on our feelings just like there’s been no reset button on America’s unfair treatment toward Blacks.

There is no “bringing up the past.” The past has not passed.

My grandma (may she rest in peace) never woke up one day and declared to the family, “You know what? I’m totally over my brother’s lynching.” To be honest, she never talked about it, which goes to show you how deeply buried this pain was for her and the rest of my family. A pain that has never gone away.

And I can say with confidence that every Black family has a similar story. Some unfathomable tragedy that has happened on the basis of race, that can never be undone. That they’ve had to move on from. That is now embedded in their DNA. That is added to the heap pile of indignities and injustices never to be remedied.

So the collective American fear is that one day, these proverbial chickens will some day come home to roost. And the sleeping (Black) giant is going to wake up and retaliate for every past grievance.

I’ve heard so many people warn against conversations about racism so as not to incite a ‘race war.’ And to be honest, I don’t know if I believe in this particular boogeyman. All of the races in America are too inextricably connected for there to be a successful, clearly defined war of Black people against White people. It’s ridiculous.

But I do know that what we’re seeing in terms of protests, outrage and activism in terms of police brutality is not surprising whatsoever considering this country’s history.

Cell phone video footage has played a huge part in connecting people all over the world and shining a light on the unfairness that’s been playing out in this country for centuries.

And this, I believe, is the karma I referred to earlier. It’s the “fruitage” of what was sewn so many years ago. For years, Black people have been on the receiving end of a different kind of America. And it’s scary for us. But there’s a bigger picture. If this has been allowed to go on at all, it means that we don’t currently live in the country that many of us thought we did.

That’s a chilling thought for those who didn’t know.

Black people, of course, have been saying this for years but there’s nothing like providing visual evidence. And if a picture says a thousand words, a video says ALL THE WORDS.

Police officers having the ability to detain, beat up or kill citizens for no reason, is scary as shit no matter what color your body meat is wrapped in.

My White friends have seen these videos and they are shook as hell.

They didn’t know that this was a real thing. And now that they do, I’ve gotten a ton of messages from several of my White friends asking when’s the next “Black Lives Matter” meeting or are there any protests they can go to with me. I’m actually going to one tonight with some White friends of mine.

The gravity of the situation has finally hit. People are entertaining the for real possibility that we could be living in a police state. (I don’t know about all that). But the way things have played out over the past few centuries, crazier things have happened.

Either way, the (smart) people understand that if you give police officers this kind of power – the power to murder innocent people with impunity – then you are essentially declaring war on the citizen population.

And yes, all cops aren’t bad. But it doesn’t matter if there’s just one cop being given permission to go out and wrongfully kill people he deems scary… it’s still a problem. In a sense, Black people are canaries for the rest of this country. Race is at the center of this but it doesn’t take a genius to know that we all are affected.

So in conclusion, I think that fear of Black people starting a race war in retaliation for what’s happened to us has prohibited a very necessary conversation about race. I feel that addressing racism and all its many facets is the ONLY THING that will upgrade the United States to the status that it pretends to be at now.

Yes, acknowledging racism, the thing that many White Americans have been fighting their entire lives is the only thing that will set this country free from eating itself alive. And police being able to kill innocent people in the communities that they’re supposed to protect and serve is the very definition of eating oneself alive.