The Trouble With Being Woke.

There’s so many things my heart is racing to put to this page. Insights that only through gazing into one’s on heartache, darkness, and shit could I even comprehend.

That sounded like a bunch of nothing so let me clean it up. I want to share with you the revelation that came to me this week, and with it share the darkness it brought. From there I will take your hand and walk with you through the shit and tell you a tale of heartache. Till finally we emerge better on the other side.

I will speak to you of what the cool kids call, “wokeness” and share the knowledge that cannot be unlearned. And here is where the dump truck of life freed it’s shit all over my carefully planned out life.

I recently went to go see the film, “I Am Not Your Negro.” And it altered my perception of blackness. The film metaphysically pierced me (I highly recommend it). The reality of my skin has always been something that as a black man I had to be cognizant of. I know that in any moment I could lose my life to the fears of some unjustified white man or woman. I made my peace with that long ago, and by peace I don’t mean that I accept such a fate. Merely that I know it is a fact of life. But the film showed me something else as I watched a collection of black bodies swinging in the breeze as strange fruit played, something broke inside of me. For the first time I faced the limit of my passiveness as my imagination forced me to feel what the last moments of a hanged man must have been like. Knowing that you will die at the hands of a crowd who’s fear and hatred of your skin blinded them of your humanity. Feeling the noose around your neck and looking out into that nameless crowd as you took a final breath. I broke in that moment. I pondered what my final thoughts would be, and parts of me spoke up. The Christian remembered Jesus’ last words, “Father forgive them, for they no not what they do…” I heard those words and wanted to believe that I’d say them. That my final act would be of forgiveness, but it would be a lie to say so. A voice of rage spoke up, “these violent delights have violent ends…” The rage that spoke filled me with a red seething heat as I looked out into the crowd. Faces glared defiantly at the human before them till I saw nothing but monsters in attendance. Rage then gave way to fear. Its voice was the truest. I would be afraid of death in this way. I would feel every eye on me and feel the burns from the hatred pouring from them. Only one question would remain as I hung dying. A simple why?

I wasn’t the same after that. Of course the film went on and provided new insights but I’ve never forgotten the eyes of the clansmen and their families. Not because I fear them, but because I feel it is my duty to remember and to live my life for those who had their lives extinguished by the monsters who gathered there. I promised myself that I would dedicate myself to reading more, and learning everything I could about my world. I promised to be the best version of myself all because I realized that I am the dream of the hanged man.

I’ll let that sit for a while. Hot tears are still in my eyes as I think about it. Everyday I live the dream that came from Strange Fruit. I have a good job, a great family, access to education, I can read, vote and live unabashed by many of the white whims that would mean instant death in their time. After I realized that I couldn’t be the same person anymore. I didn’t see point in knowingly watching television that I know was a distraction to keep me from paying attention to the real issues. I didn’t see the point in playing silly games of sexual pursuit with women who need more than my immaturity would provide them. I became aware of my hypocrisy in those moments, but that is a conversation for another day.

After that day I’ve been reading everything I can and I’m paying attention to the world around me. Connecting the dots and seeing the picture coming together, and as the picture gets clearer I realize that I cannot “unsee” the image it makes. Once you become woke you get to a point where everything is falling into place. The plots make sense, and all that we see has been orchestrated to be this way. You can’t go back afterwards after seeing some of these things. Think about that while you imagine The Matrix. One of the central characters Cypher reached that point. He couldn’t take back what he’d seen and it ate away at him. He sacrificed everything he’d known just to be comfortable again. Really think about that for a second. “Ignorance is bliss.” He said as he ate that steak that was only a figment of his imagination.
I used to jokingly say that statement all the time without honestly a second thought. Sure it’s better be ignorant of some things. We’d like to think that we’re progressive and can deal with the truth as it stands but history has shown us we can’t. Ignorance to the reality of things doesn’t quite work as well for black people. History continuously reminds us that. So no matter the appeal, we can’t accept it.

Rudyard Kipling spoke of the White Man’s Burden, not knowing that the true burden of man lies in the heart of people of color. Our burden is the true burden. It’s seeing the true image of America and each day having to put on a mask of conformity to make those around us comfortable. We do this to keep those who cannot handle the true weight of the world we live in so we shelter them from their legacy often and become scapegoats of their psyches.

So wrapping all these truths in a package is all I can do. The problem is I have don’t know who to send them to. Sure I would love for you to understand my perspective but truth be told it’s not fun wearing a mask all day. Seeing the way of the world I can’t buy back in to the American Dream and keep up an oppressive illusion. I know there’s still good in this world and that ultimately Love and Hope will prevail but in this moment I can’t help but think they’re running late.

I Get Bigger

Greetings All,

Lately Nx Worries song, Get Bigger/Do U Luv, has been speaking to my soul. If you haven’t heard it, Get Bigger, Educate yourself. The song is all about raising the bar, taking no bullshit, and becoming Legit.

So in my absence these last few weeks I’ve taken on yet another venture. Oh that’s right, can’t stop, won’t stop. I’m out here making auditory pursuits: podcasts. So far my partner, Janine, and myself have one episode on the books. Check us out at the link below:

Nah Mean Episode 1

“Silence, which will save from shame, will also deprive me of fame.” -Igor Stravinsky.

I’ve had that quote close to me for some years now, and finally decided to take it’s advice. Who knows, maybe I’m on to something. Then again, maybe I’m not. Either way I’m having a blast.

 

T.L.

My Hip Hop Foundations

Alright, we’ve reached the point where I feel I can start being honest and sharing a bit of insight into who I am and what kind of life I’ve lead. This confessional I promise you is going to be pretty revealing. Ready?

Here it goes. When it comes to my upbringing and what truly got me heavy into Rap/Hip Hop/or whatever hippy classification we’re giving it nowadays it wasn’t Tupac, Biggie, or any of the accepted greats that got me there. To me, The Diplomats, was it. Don’t get me wrong I take nothing away from Jay, Nas, Biggie, or Pac, but when I was coming up I didn’t appreciate them. Diplomatic Immunity was my first unfiltered view of rap and it hit me square in the chest. Shit, I’ll never forget watching the video over and over again of I Really Mean it/Dipset Anthem. The first Hip Hop line I learned was a Cam’ron verse. His flow was crazy to me, and still is to this day. Say what you want.

“I’m on the west side of Chicago looking for a bus down to make me put my two hands up, touchdown…”

Years later I still remember where I was when I heard DMX screaming What’s Really Good? on the coldest Coming to America fresh outta Zamunda track. That beat surprised me and from that moment on Dipset had me.

As I progressed from Dipset, during their fall out and disbanding, I started to appreciate other artists but again they got me there. Quick backstory, my parents are both preachers and with that came the censorship of anything over the top secular. Rap music was public enemy number one in my house and even the Walmart Censored versions were frowned upon. Any Rap album I had was bootlegged and came from shadow exchanges. I’d sneak to my basement and burn these albums in order to be hip to the game. The first album I got on loan from one of my boys, shoutout to Big H, Diplomatic Immunity. I Really Mean It to this day is one of my favorite songs and truly expect it to be played at my funeral as I’m wheeled out and lead down the street in my hearse (consider that a portion of my living will).

So there you have it, confessional number one. On everything if there’s ever a Dipset Reunion tour  don’t expect a post from me that week. But really, don’t expect it. I’m reliving the livest time in music. Catch me that next week though.

 

T.L.

 

In My Absence

“It’s been a long time.

I shouldn’t have left you, without a dope beat to step to.

Step to. Step to…” -Timbaland

 

So it’s been a while since my last post, but I’m still here recovering from being sick. Today I’m finally feeling up to being a human being and with that I’ll be working toward adding more content. Bare with me a little longer.

But in the meantime I’m uploading the first episode of a segment I’ll be calling Cookery! Check it out, and let me know what you think.

 

T.L

The Supreme: A Reformed Fuckboy’s Lament

There are some things in this life that are hard to come back from, no I’m not talking about killing someone (Granted there’s no coming back from death…but you should totally talk to someone about that mind of yours). I’m talking about when a person drives you to the edge, well maybe not THE edge, but an edge nonetheless. I’m talking about when a person you’re dealing with makes an epic level mistake. Ladies and Gentlemen, the point I’m referring to is the point of no return.

I took someone there once, and even though years have past and she’s safe in the arms of better men the very thought of me takes her back to a dark moment. I remain Supreme Fuckboy in the hall of fame in her life.. I deserve it though, no arguments there. We had our sordid moments, and at the time I didn’t give a fuck so I lived up to it. This post isn’t about me though…Okay I guess it is.

Alright, little known black history fact, my greatest fuckboy moment… I was dating a woman and things weren’t going the way I wanted them to. Instead of working things out and doing the work necessary to find out just what we needed and wanted from each other. I decided that I could find another woman who could innately just know what I needed and give me everything I wanted.  And so with the blindest of faith, and decided to rip the bandaid off right then and there. So I broke up with her…via text message. There you have it. The crowning jewel in my glorious fuckboy crown. I even memorized the message:

“I’m not happy. I think we should end things…”

Those words were easy in the moment, and in my head at the time they prevented a real conversation. It was the coward’s  way out. I didn’t want to deal with her face to face. That was too much work, and though she deserved it the ocean of fish were calling so I left it at that. I dove into the waves and didn’t look back.

Years have passed since then, and thank the Lord for the obstacle course he placed in my path to help me evolve but I’ve never gotten over the man I was then. It is legitimately one of the few moments I actually regret.

Quick disclaimer

I REGRET NOTHING…except for this. I reached the final level of fuckboy that day and followed my dick to the end of the fuckboy rainbow. Spoiler Alert There wasn’t anything great there. I honestly ended up just sitting there for awhile waiting for something to happen.  It didn’t. There wasn’t a prize for being a player, for the large number of notches in my belt, or even the game I’d learned along the way. You know what did happen though?

A hand came down from heaven and humbled my ass.

So just a word to my fuckboy brethren escape the lifestyle whilst you can or you too will have the Ghost of Fuck Ups Past visiting your door step. I don’t know if you’ve heard though but Karma isn’t merely a bitch once you hit a certain level, she’s closer to a deity wielding the power to lay that ass down.

You’ve been warned.

Anyway…

Fast forward 2 1/2 years and many, many lessons later here I am reaching out to her. Wait, did you just grimace? Yeah I did too once the conversation started. Which brings me to the point of this article: there are some things we do in this life that we can’t come back from. I lost face that day and no matter how much change happens in my life, or how much I try to make penance I see now that I’ll be that Supreme Fuckboy in her mind. Life moves on, but what can I say I suffer from that disease, I forget the name of it, where I kinda want people to like me. Having her see me as the man I was stung to be honest.

Tread carefully with how you treat people. Burn your bridges effectively and with sincere planning. You never know the bridges you may need to cross again. In my situation, I don’t need the bridge and if I did it’s already decayed but it’s something I deal with. Not because I miss her or the relationship (it was great though) but rather that there’s still a person who will never be able to speak to the man I am. I want my evolution from Steve Urkel to Stefan Urkel to be undeniable. I want my childish days to be placed behind me where they belong, and unfortunately the blemish in her eye means something to me.

So here’s your lesson, show your best self each day. Be intentionally you and be mindful of your own hypocrisy. Don’t allow the you of tomorrow to be sullied by the you of today. They’d be pissed if you fuck up the future and then they have to travel back here to fix it. Have you ever seen a time travel movie where the Future person was happy to fix shit? Me neither.

The “Fuckboy” moments are fleeting, but the ramifications last a lot longer. Stay true to the person you need to be

Stay Woke

In the myriad of work and corporate bullshittery I find myself lost. Here I am working in a position I truly enjoyed to holding on for dear life to the remnants of what enjoyment used to be. What’s this mean?

Basically being conscious (or Woke for those not in the know) in corporate America exposes you to somethings. White privilege exists and White tears are a thing. If that’s news to you I’d assume you weren’t a minority. Being culturally aware in corporate America is like playing a game on hardcore mode within a even harder game that’s rigged to make it easier for a particular population of players. Yep, let’s go with that. There’s levels to this thing.

I constantly have to wear a mask at work because God forbid I mess around and say something truly conscious but very real I could make some person truly uncomfortable and force them to pour a drop of white tears out on the unwilling game. I’d be swiftly reminded of my place and put back in line. Being aware of how it feels to experience the other side of favoritism, or just how marginalization feels make the small injustices we experience in the office setting that much harder to deal with because now I see what they’re doing. I rather regularly want to yell out “C’mon Son” during staff meetings, or whenever the corporate earnings emails go out and we once again are reminded of how much money is disproportionally distributed to the higher ups and less so the working class people who honestly deserve it (yep you thought I was going to go play the race card again, ha! I totally could still for the record but no classicism is a thing too). In the words of the sage Donald Glover, “Stay woke. Niggas creepin.”

We have been dealt a shitty hand time enough to almost develop a six sense for the fuck shit. Crazy shit can happen and we won’t be surprised (cough…cough…The election 2016). Some of y’all fell for that Let’s Make America Great Again nonsense. Trump promised y’all seniority so to speak and large amounts of whiteness, and it’s okay. We the “minorities” get it but of course we’re totally going to hold it against you. You voted a clear cut bigot into office and tried to sweep it under the rug using rhetoric like “he’s going to bring back jobs” HOW SWAY?

American government has become a major corporation, run by major corporations and you honestly believe that a man who’s run a major corporation (and still will during his presidency despite the clear violation) will change any of that? C’mon son! (shout out to Ed Lover). Get out of here with that nonsense you’re wilding. “You know nothing Jon Snow.”

Now you can totally make any excuse you want because history is made by the winners, it’s not a big deal. But just know that no matter what you believe the fact remains that we now have an interesting 4 years ahead. Who knows, maybe some of you will realize that there’s some merit to the issues the masses of woke minorities and join us….or not. Totally leaning towards not.

To everyone else though in the real world, once again, stay woke. Goodnight and good luck.

Sincerely,

T.L.

New Year, Who Dis?

New Year, Who Dis?

It’s the same me, and I’m graciously accepting that. A new year doesn’t give me anything but a ephemeral sense of change but to those that it doesn’t, “Cheers.”

Everyday presents the opportunity to be different than the person we were the day prior. Anyone who’s no longer a major player in my life totally believes that now (yep my brilliant reader that is indeed a petty moment brought to you by the letter W). That’s nothing new to any of us though. We change on the daily, but be that as it may a new year convinces us that we can be tabula rasa and that entices us. Even now many of us have subconsciously planned out a new us and eagerly anticipate major W’s this new year, and that’s beautiful. I pray earnestly that we all find the people we wish to be with surrounded by, and the love we need to be in.

But since it’s late and the celebratory day drinking is catching up let’s talk about something real. Half of us have people who honestly don’t deserve a new anything because they dogged the old everything. Yes this means you _________ (insert category here). We tolerated many of you out of love and a sense responsibility but we cannot for our own sanity carry you further. In this new year we the enlightened party shall not be rolling over your current plan due to lack of funding. Anyone who’s drained my soul reserve last year consider this your notice. Feel free to join the “new year who dis?” crowd and lose yourself in the masses of people who don’t know you.

  1. Ex’s: Many of you I dogged last year or years prior. That’s on me (partially in some cases) and you deserve peace. Go forth with my blessing and a commitment of no late night, midday, or morning texts claiming that I miss you (CG I’m totally guilty of that and I’m sorry. Won’t happen again Love). Here’s to looking forward, and not backwards.
  2. The Dreaded Can’t Get Rights: We tried it and things for whatever reason didn’t work. Either I was too opinionated or you just weren’t the woman you thought you were and I didn’t have the heart to tell you how much you didn’t match me (it’s a soft spot for me. I’m working on it dammit). But we shall not continue the rotation of maybes. You know, “the it’s been a few months maybe he’s changed his views”(I haven’t) , or  the “maybe I’m in a better mindset (you’re not)” line of thinking. We couldn’t reach the cruising altitude and so for the safety of other passengers we shouldn’t try to leave the runway. Nothing against any of you. You’re all winners, just not on my team.
  3. The Fuck Its: You the why should I even try, the Nothing Matters, the why should I live the lie, or more simply put “the Fuck its” are this years final topic. You have blinded yourself into thinking that your actions or your very life doesn’t matter and you’re right. It doesn’t matter…unless you make it matter.  Right now you’re convinced that it doesn’t because that allows you not to try. You in your infinite wisdom have created a mindset that allows you to stay stagnant and motionless. You’ve rationalized a shitty life through coping mechanisms that leave you empty so you believe that life is empty. Nope that’s not how this thing works. Life, real life is hard but rewarding if you get up and try to make something of it. Those that simply judge from the sidelines and tell those that are living that we lying to ourselves are nothing more than zombies dreaming of life. In your daily life happiness escapes you because you somehow forgot that it’s a daily struggle to maintain. Contentedness and Joy aren’t always going to be consistent so you must violently fight for what brings the color to your life (unless it’s killing people or other acts of serial killing. You should totally chill on that.). Don’t psych yourself out before giving the life you want a shot. Fail brilliantly and then if you don’t like how it turned out go all out in your fuck its. Until then your life already sucks why not get a reward from it.

It’s 11:28pm and all is well. I’m going to leave 2016 knowing I did the best I could and try my damnedest not to make any more rookie mistakes. Happy New Year Lowlifes. May the Odds ever be in your favor in the Struggle Game of life.

Love,

T.L

*Originally written 11/31/16 at 11:28pm so yeah, I’m a bit late. Mea Culpa.

Thank You For Playing

I respect people that play the game of life. People who wake up daily and really try to make something of the day and make it all mean something are the true players. It’s like being Neo or one of the many other people trapped in the Matrix.

Yes waking up the matrix we live in is easy, but the real question is are you really controlling it? Are you an active participant in your life?

If the answer is no welcome to the game. We’re on the same level. The Matrix is a little harder than you thought right?

It’s cool, no judgement. Like I said before I respect you for playing. The world is filled with people feel like they’re smarter than the people who are trying, but never really participate in their own happiness. Being smarter than the game and the people struggling for their chance at happiness is wonderful in theory but actually exerting the energy to play a hand at this life will humble you.

I’m all down for Narcissism, shit I believe in me too, but I can’t take you seriously until you play your hand at happiness. It’s super easy to be on the side lines and judge others while living in your head mulling over the should have, would have, could haves. That’s not real unfortunately. Sure reality is relative but if you’re not trying to be the person you want in life we don’t have much room for discussion. You gotta participate in life. In this game there’s no one who’s too cool for school. You either play to win or you don’t.

That’s life in a nutshell. Build the life you want or don’t and go with what’s left over. At least that’s my understanding of it. No one is given the perfect life we’re all working with what we have. Like J. Cole said in his song, Love Yourz “there’s no such thing as a life that’s better than yours.” You can’t prove anyone but you exists in this world. Why not take the life you’re given and do something with it? At the end of the day I want to have something that lasts when I meet my God. Even if he shades me for living wrong I left something that lasted. If the Christian-esque God I believe in doesn’t exist I am perfectly fine helping someone else be better through the actions I decided to make each day.

I guess that’s the point right. Logically the human mind can’t prove anything but itself to be alive. We live each day on the faith that something is taking our mindless musings and turning them into some grand design. I blindly believe that alone as I may be, and at my end I will die knowing I did something for someone along the way. There’s my solace.

This is how I hope other people live their lives, but I know it’s not the case. I pray that everyone gets there eventually but I won’t fool myself into believing it. That’s why I have a deep respect for anyone that actually attempts to make their life something their proud of. Sitting in judgement is the easy part.  Being greater than you are however isn’t the same. So take a chance on life. Be different than the opposition and never be afraid to pursue your beliefs till their ends.

I mean because why not? If nothing matters at day’s end why not try one time?