I’m tired. Full stop. There’s no ‘but’, ‘however’ or ‘although’ that follows that statement.
I’m tired. The kind of emotional and mental exhaustion that manifests itself physically.
I, like so many Black people, are solely existing and going through life in a fog of anger, despair, and conscious, tempered rage that we have no choice but to push/work through. I’m tired of re-sharing my racial trauma for the white masses to “learn from”.
Why? Why is it my/our responsibility? Why do I have to periodically open up a long festering wound just to show you that it exist? Why do I have to show that which is raw and oozing, forever weeping? As if you seeing the damage inflicted in real time wasn’t proof enough.
Yes, you saw every lash of the racism whip every time you said nothing when a comment was made about my hair/education/experience/tone of voice, etc. You saw the thin veneer of safety ripped away when you knew that cronyism and nepotism were in full working order and you did/said NOTHING. You said nothing because you 100% benefited, either directly or indirectly, from structural racism.
It has been many, many moons since I have written here and for that I am truly sorry. I got to this place where I was depressed, unfulfilled and dealing with my many chronic illnesses. And so, I took a break from the one thing that brings me so much solace and joy; the one outlet that fully allows me to relax, relate and release. Why is that? After months of introspection and wonderfully beautiful souls coming into my life, I have “found” the answer.
Writing, for me, is where truth is. Writing would force me to address, face first, all those things that I couldn’t give words to. It would demand me to confront my deepest fears, acknowledge my failures and create a plan to move forward. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to admit that I didn’t have answers, I didn’t have strength, that I needed help. And so I went into a place of deep contemplation, a place of hope and faith. We had a Diversity & Inclusion specialist speak at our all-hands meeting last week and she had us do this ADDRESSING framework.
We identified and accepted the many group memberships and cultural identities that we have and addressed our privilege, along with how we’ve used said privilege to our advantage and at times to the detriment of others. I was confronted with my own privilege and more so my lack thereof. I was thunderstruck and left breathless by the realization that I downplay my own accomplishments and shrink myself to make others comfortable with who I am. I do all of this to ensure that I remain gainfully employed and out of the spotlight.
When you are centerstage you are more open to and apt to receive harsh and undeserved criticisms. In a moment of vulnerability, I gave voice to this in public, in front of (virtually anyway) my coworkers and colleagues. And while it was cathartic, it was painful and I did what I normally don’t do… I cried off camera afterwards. They were tears of frustration and a cleansing flood of brokenness. Mind you this was the same day that Netflix launched Homecoming by Beyoncé. I am a proud graduate of Texas Southern University (HBCU in Houston, TX) and seeing how hard Queen Bey struggled to get back to her authentic self gave me inspiration. Seeing and hearing a full band and Houston music (UGK, Bun B, etc.) gave me LIFE!!
And today on a video chat with a co-worker, a friend, who is transitioning out of the company that we both work for, I inadvertently gave voice to all that ailed me, while regaling him with hilarious tales of how I came to be who and what I am. I found my voice again. I rediscovered my shrinking self.
So I am back to my most authentic self. I’m writing short stories and screenplays, I’m back blogging, I’m doing all those artistic endeavors that bring me joy and contentment. I’m acting, making jewelry (as recently seen on the Grammys red carpet and American Idol *eek*) and loving on those who love on me. Only He knows what happens next but I will face it with my head high and in truth.
I’ve had multiple instances in the past couple of weeks where someone (in this case WASP / White Anglo Saxon Protestant female manager bolstered by another authoritative WASP woman) automatically assumed I was lying and tried to “catch” me by offering up what they saw as “proof”. I had to write detailed explanations of the circumstances, justify myself and provided my own absolutely irrefutable proof that I was indeed being ethical and truthful from the very beginning. (I.e. I shut this mess down quickly with perfect tact, professionalism and screen grabs.) This was followed by the most insulting five words I’ve heard in recent memory, “Thank you for your honesty.”
Thank you for your honesty?! That insinuates that you assume that everything I say and/or do is fabricated until you feel you have sufficient proof that I’m telling the truth. This coming from the same non-POC people who, when the tables are turned, and I KNOW that non-POC has glaringly lied through their perfectly veneered teeth, tell me to “assume positive intent” or that I “misunderstood” what they said/did/asked/instructed/demanded. I am positive that it was intended to make me out a thief of time, a fabricator of salacious falsehoods and unethical to boot. Nothing there to misunderstand.
To compound all of this and add insult to injury, the earlier exchange is later followed by a backhanded compliment of a recorded WebEx presentation I did 3-4 weeks ago saying, “… it was very professional and easy to follow. I was very impressed with your presentation skills…”. There again are the micro aggressions.
It is automatically ASSumed that we are lying. It is automatically ASSumed that, despite our experience and education, we don’t have the same or better skill set than our white counterparts. And when we prove we ARE telling the truth and we DO have the knowledge and expertise, they are “impressed” with our professionalism and presentation skills. You ASSume because of my milk chocolate hued skin, my Afrocentric name and my love of head wraps that I couldn’t possibly be poised and polished and able to lead, teach, and inform the masses, let alone the white masses. I have to prove to you beyond what is expected of my white counterparts that I AM and that I CAN.
This is what it is to be black in Corporate America. This is what it is to be black in America, period.
Things have been hectic since Hurricane Harvey wrecked havoc in August and the entire region has been trying to recover and resume some sense of normalcy. While my ability to ship out orders was delayed things got done, orders were shipped and received and all went well. But it was during this time that I’ve been MIA on my blog that I was putting that time to good use. Read the rest of this entry »
Since I posted this blog back in March all hell has broken loose
Russian interference in our elections, the collusion with Russia by both 45 and 45 Jr. and quite frankly the whole damn lot of 'em
Two (2) ACA replacement failures
45 pushing past other world leaders to be in the front for a photograph
45 commenting on President Macron's wife's physical appearance at Bastille Day celebration
45 commenting on an Irish reporter's appearance while on the phone with the Irish Prime Minister
45's hypocritical "Made in America" week when NONE of his products or those of his daughter/personal assistant are made in America
Dozens of other Twitter gaffes
And more today than in March, I and millions of other Americans are resisting and refusing to concede out basic rights.
Come for my birth control and best believe I will leave my kids with you while I work and do everything else I need to do.
Come for my healthcare (I have many pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses that require constant care and expensive medications) and you will bear the burden of my catastrophic hospital bills (I'm talking hundreds of thousands of dollars) when I'm in ICU because I can't breathe.
If you come for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters I will fight for their right to be whomever they choose to be. I don't care what bathroom someone uses just as long as they clean up after themselves and wash their damn hands. 🏳️🌈
Y'all are on notice… don't come for me or mine or attempt to infringe on anyone's rights. I will fight you EVERY 👏🏾 STEP 👏🏾OF 👏🏾THE 👏🏾 WAY👏🏾
Run and tweet that!
An open letter to those who voted for and supported 45: It's unconscionable that everyone who had a whole hell of a lot to say pre and post election about "Making America Great Again" and that Bernie and Hillary supporters needed to stop whining and get over it are as quiet as sleeping church mice right now. The only sound I hear from that camp are the crickets and blinking peaking out from under blankets, hoping I won't pull back the wool and expose you for who and what you really are. There was dissent all over my FB feed. I had to block some people and unfriend others because they, for one reason or another, supported 45. They took what they wanted from what he said (Border security and "bad hombres", repealing the ACA, "putting America first" and all the other slime that poured from his ill-tempered, malicious, hate speech spewing mouth) and ignored EVERYTHING ELSE and had the audacity to say that the other stuff didn't phase them. ("You can just grab them by the pussy", "Nasty woman", "Lock her up"… the list goes on and on and on). The only thing that was important was what mattered to them personally, never giving credence to the millions of others that he offended and harangued. You told us that we should "give him a chance" and our outcries of unfairness and fear where unfounded and that we should stop being butt hurt, get over it and support him. You heckled us as we rallied and protested, called us un-American, unpatriotic and at times said our actions were treasonous. Now that you have come to realize what the rest of us knew from the very beginning, you have the unmitigated gall to be silent while the rest of us resist and protest? GTFOH! How dare you! How dare you stay silent and act like none of this was your fault? How dare you creep around and post that you are tired of politics on FB or social media? How dare you do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and expect those of us who dissented to begin with to fix this? No…no… hell no!
You lost your right to silence the minute you put up your first post supporting this inept, deluded, mentally unstable demagogue. (Did you cringe or roll your eyes when I used a second word in this post that you might have had to look up? Yeah, you did. That knowledge came from attending PUBLIC school in Houston,TX… something that with Backwards Betty as head of the Department of Education our children will be missing).
You need to take responsibility for what you have wrought. You need to step up to the mic, clear your throats and say to the rest of us, "My name is <insert your name here> and due to my own <insert adjective here, such as: selfishness/bigotry/racism/misogyny/xenophobia/homophobia/transphobia/general intolerance for anyone who isn't me> I voted for 45. I am woefully sorry and I see the damage he and his minions have done, both to those who live with the borders of this great nation, and to our allies and our reputation on the international stage. I apologize and I stand with you to fix this!"
But you won't do that, will you? No, you won't because you think admitting you were wrong is a show of weakness. You won't because you can't openly admit your prejudices. You'll swear up and down to any god that you are the most tolerant person ever created. When in reality you prefer separate but equal. Minorities and non-Christians are fine as long as they are not in your neighborhood, attending your children's schools or commingling with you and yours. Your silence far from insulates you from what is going on right now. Your silence breeds further contempt from those of us who refuse to be silenced and shows us your yellow badge of cowardice.
This is an open letter to those well-intended progressive folks who just don’t seem to get it.
I’ve been called a lot of things in my nearly 35 years of life on this planet. Some of which have been positive and quite flattering. I’ve been praised on my poise and work ethic, my ability to rise above corporate politics and pettiness. Yet, I don’t take these as compliments so to speak. I see them for what they are, micro aggressions. “You carry yourself so well.. you are so well-spoken.” What? Am I supposed to walk around staring at my 4 inch pumps, afraid to make direct eye contact with those around me and speak in unintelligible and muted tones?
I’m sick and tired of speaking up for myself, or others when that need arises, when I’m mistreated, disrespected or denigrating only to be told to “assume positive intent”. I’m sick of, “Oh, s/he didn’t mean it that way.”; You’re being too sensitive.”; I’m sure you just took it wrong.” Then I’m labeled the “Angry Black Woman” because I push back and refuse to be treated any kind of way. Don’t put your labels on me! And no, I will not assume positive intent. Truthfully your intent is what is really the issue. I am positive that you intended to offend me. I am positive that you intended to “put me in my place”. I am positive that I am intelligent enough to recognize micro aggressions when I encounter them. I am positive that I am cognizant enough to realize when you are trying to fit me into the niche that makes you most comfortable and keeps me in a non-threatening position.
Just in case you think I am speaking in generalities take these examples into account:
As a HR Consultant I facilitate training seminars and trainings. After my first of two sessions one day, I had a WASP attendee come up to me and say, “I enjoyed your training. You were so well-spoken, I was pleasantly surprised.” I waited a full two heartbeats and asked, “Pleasantly surprised at the training materials?” To which she chuckled and replied, “Oh no, I expected the training materials to be top-notch!” Pleasantly surprised? You were pleasantly surprised that as a Black woman with an Afrocentric name that I have a firm command of the English language? Why should that surprise you? I received the same, if not better, education that you did in this country. Don’t give me a backhanded compliment and then have the audacity to be shocked that I don’t thank you and smile.
I was working and having lunch in a conference room with group of co-workers who were engaged in separate conversations. Next to me two of them were speaking Spanish and I gathered up the trash and asked in Spanish, “Do you have trash?” I proffered up an open trash bag and waited a few seconds. Suddenly everything stopped and silence reigned. They both sat there looking dumbfounded and said, “You speak Spanish? I didn’t think you would speak Spanish.” Why are you so shocked that I could possibly speak any language other than English? Am I not capable of learning any language other than my native tongue? Stop making suppositions about my intelligence based on your own limited worldview. By the by, I took 8 years of Spanish beginning in middle school and went through college as well. I also learned Brazilian Portuguese.
A colleague was upset that I pushed back regarding me wanting to stick to a particular policy and procedure. While I know that there are gray areas and that exceptions will need to be made from time to time, circumventing this particular process would, and did eventually, prove to be detrimental in the end. When approached outside by this colleague I was told what I was and wasn’t going to do. When I professionally, calmly and tactfully pushed back, this person charged up to me, got into my personal space and said “respect my wishes.” When I reported this bullying behavior I got the party line… “s/he was just trying to get you to understand her/his point of view. Assume positive intent.” I understand and am positive that I was told to “do as I say and don’t question me!” My status as a POC and a woman does not give you the right to get into my personal space nor to assert your will upon me. I will not back down and say “Yes sir massa/ yes’m missus! I’s gon get right on dat!” No, absolutely not! If you want respect you need to give it.
I shouldn’t have to write pieces like this. I shouldn’t have to explain macro and micro aggressions to anyone. What is so disheartening is when I am told, “How dare you question me or say I have White privilege! Prove it to me!” That statement alone is evidence of your privilege.
Typically I start my day early, whether I want to or not, with personal devotion time, prayer and flexing my arthritic toes for half an hour so that I am able to get up and walk. Typically I leave the ignorance, bigotry and just general jackassery that is happening in the world for later in the morning. But I deviated from my routine and looked at the news earlier than usual and was greeted by 45, President Agent Orange, and yet ANOTHER idiotic tweet.
Why doesn’t an adult take this man’s phone and/or twitter account away from him? He obviously has no one that is willing and ballsy enough to say, “Give me that! WTH dude! You have no chill and no couth! Go eat your Cheerios and watch Ren & Stimpy!”
This is what happens when you let someone with what seems to be a severe, undiagnosed Narcissistic Personality Disorder and who is literally disassociated with reality, attempt to run what used to be the most powerful nation in the world. Before you make an attempt to blast me saying that 45 is just confident and “making America great again”, I offer you to look up the diagnosis criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the DSM-V, Psychology Today or any other reputable scientific journal. Read it for yourself and compare what you have seen with your own eyes and heard with your own ears. Not what I’ve interpreted it to be. But you have to be open and willing to accept what comes next. You will have to ready to recognize, accept and act. Narcissists are TOXIC. They take and give nothing back leaving people, places and things in utter ruin as they pass by.
Look at it and let me know what you see… don’t worry, I’ll wait…
In the last 72 hours I have learned so much. I opened up to the general public and let the discourse come in. I welcomed the opportunity to have a respectful, open dialogue with others and to share with them the “why” behind the fear and anger that millions of us feel. However, I have seen the paper thin veneer of decency in this country ripped away to expose the seething and venomous hatred that lies just below the surface. It isn’t that I didn’t know how oblivious and hateful some people are. It’s about the people who, for whatever reason, still think and contend that the hurt, anger, grief and protest (which is protected by the Constitution whether people agree with what we’re protesting about or not) is simply and ONLY about Hillary not being elected. Frankly that is woefully inaccurate, ignorant and delusional.
I wrote in my previous blog post that it is so much deeper than that and I meant it. I put it in the plainest of terms; I shared the terrible, painfully racist, xenophobic and violent encounters that were and continue to be reported and was dismissed as spreading propaganda. Are you serious right now?! I don’t know what kind of fairytale world you have created for yourselves but I live in reality. Not some diseased figment of my imagination where racism, sexism, Islamaphobia, xenophobia and hate don’t exist and where all that give voice to discrimination are silenced and told “that isn’t an issue” or “put it back in the deck”.
From my seat on the bus it isn’t the millions of upset people in this country who are wrong, it is those who perpetrated this atrocity who are. Here’s the kicker as I ride the bus of discontent and heartache and look out the window at the scenes as I pass by: many of you see absolutely NOTHING wrong with all that Donald Trump has said and done. You dismiss and trivialize the POV of millions and you refuse to believe or repudiate any of the hate speech and violence that is being perpetrated by Trump supporters. Hate speech and violence that he spurred on and approved of during these last 18 months. But now wants us to tow the line and unite and heal the racial divide. It’s so much bigger than a divide, it is a chasm that is deeper and wider than the Grand Canyon.
I, like every disenfranchised person of color, LGBT+, woman, handicapped, <insert marginalized group here> in America; like every lover of humanity; like the world, I woke up to what feels like the erosion of my sanity and I heard the metallic clink of slave irons. I turned off the television before the final call of the election with 4 states still out, and did what I do every night. I prayed. But my prayers were different last night, my heart was racing and I quivered on the inside. It wasn’t from my love and veneration of God , but it was because, for the first time ever in my life, I truly had fear creeping its way around my heart. Its icy grip piercing into my soul, I saw what the future could be and I curled in around myself, trying to break free. I’ve seen the ugliest part of humanity these last months, not that I wasn’t glaringly aware of how nasty people can be.
I was fearful that the bigots, the xenophobes, the homophobes, the sexists, the racists and the demagogues had won. I was fearful that the precious freedoms that I have, like the ability to vote, would be torn from my hands by those who deem me unfit and unworthy. And I cried. I shed tears of frustration, tears of solitude, rivulets of emotions I had surpressed because this couldn’t be possibly happening. This hurt is real, my tears are real, my fear is justifiable. I fear for everyone, every population of people, who were insulted, disrespected, mocked and bullied by Donald Trump and his supporters. I fear for those of us who found out on social media that our “friends” were Trump supporters and closeted bigots, racists, etc. I am genuinely scared that now that Trump has won. I am scared that all of the predators with their racial epithets, slurs and violence will feel absolutely no need to keep hidden anymore. They will feel free and justified in letting it all hang out and that violence against minority groups will ensue, unchecked, as it has with the police force in this country.
A little more than 50 years ago Blacks couldn’t vote; my mother was born in 1960 and she was born without the right to vote. Slavery didn’t officially end in this country until December 6, 1865, that was only 151 years ago. The memories of Jjm Crow are still fresh in the minds of Black America. Last night’s election nightmare has proven, without a doubt, that Jim Crow never died. It was festering in the souls of men all this time and finally reared its ugly head and came out of hiding. This hurt and injustice didn’t just happen to our ancestors. This injustice just happened to us. But for all my fear… I have hope.
I have hope because there will be a resurgence of the Civil Rights movement. A new breed of revolutionaries will take on the mantle of the disenfranchised and we will fight! We will raise up our children to tear down the walls of intolerance and oppression. We will arm them with truth, humility and we will embolden them to challenge anyone who seeks to denigrate others. We are blessed that we still have mentors who fought the good fight and can guide us. This is a rallying cry and we will not be silenced. America, the world, will see that though we grieve at this moment, we don’t grieve as those without hope.
We are pleased to announce T. Nicole Designs, in association with The Artisan Group, will participate in an invitation-only luxury celebrity gift lounge hosted by GBK Productions on September 16-17, 2016 at an exclusive location in Beverly Hills, California in honor television’s best and brightest stars.
Our Fidelis Bracelet Collection, Nautical Dreams Bracelets, Granite Haze, Black Rose and Dragon’s Blood bracelets will be prominently featured on display at The Artisan Group’s exhibit, and all attending celebrities, select press and media, and other VIPs will receive our Fidelis Lion Head bracelet in either Black Onyx or Garnet in their swag bags. This event will also be attended by around forty press and media outlets.
Tanesha N. Graham, T. Nicole Designs’ sole proprietor, is a resident of Houston, TX.
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