write your own stories

I wrote this a while back during the “Love is…” tv show fiasco. That show angered me so much. Also, this free-thinking, free-flowing, query-driven piece was sparked by “Queen Sugar” and the choices made with casting.

For me personally, I love to begin blogs with the ending. So, right now I’m going to say. I need to tell my own stories. That is the moral of this entire blog. But, let me get to why I had to come to this conclusion.

Writers, directors, casting directors, and producers seem to be very careless where it concerns colorism especially in the shaping of characters and storylines. More care needs to be taken in how storytellers approach placing certain characters in stereotypical roles.

Sometimes I wonder if we are being trolled. As it pertains to “Love is…” was the dark skin woman just so perfect for the baby mama role or was it hard to believe someone light skin could convincingly play the role?

Is it hard to see a light skin woman play an aggressive woman without the dark skin woman playing second fiddle? I understand that I need to tell my own stories. It’s no one else’s responsibility to get it right for me.

Can you just use light skin and dark skin women interchangeably no matter the context? Shouldn’t storytellers be more cautious in furthering these narratives?

How much of this is about actors/actresses really being able to capture or embody a certain character or is this about the casting director, writers etc. selfishly wanting to see a certain dynamic play out? ie. loud angry dark skin baby mama, quiet happy light skin woman

We all live on this planet and I believe we have all been conditioned to think within these parameters? I think it will take some effort to see outside these clearly drawn lines in the sand of where everything should exist. Can a light skin black woman embody the loud angry baby mama character? Can a dark skin black woman embody the soft-spoken happy chosen loved woman? Can these opposing narratives exist together in one story? Can we even envision a romantic story being told where the dark skin woman gets picked over the light skin woman? Is this too far from our minds to grasp or wrap our minds around? Are lovable happy go lucky chosen light skin women just caught in the loop of this perpetual angelic narrative? Do they have the chops or the skills to play someone outside of the norm? Maybe light skin actresses lack the depth to play roles outside of the stereotypes. Maybe casting directors and agents hindering their growth.

Sometimes I feel, as a dark skin woman, I’ve been forced to see the negative spin on things because of how much we have so much negativity directed towards us. A lot of us are not able to live in a world where we can see the positive or be optimistic.

Writers seem to enjoy hurting black women specifically dark skin black women. Throw shots and sit back to watch the backlash because no one has to put up with being depicted in a horrible light. Free licks, no accountability. No one cares about the pain of the dark skin baby mama.

I long to see stories told with plus size main characters where her weight is never mentioned. I long to see stories with light skin women playing the aggressive strong black woman, the asexual auntie black woman, or the clout chasing baby mama. I plan to write some of these stories.  I believe all kinds of stories should be told and these stories should strive to venture outside our ability to imagine them being portrayed. There are only a handful of stories I can endure without cringing these days. Until then I will continue to enjoy Nollywood films.


fantasy, fantasy, fantasy

fantasy is what i want. fantasy is what i need. but, i always find myself struggling when attempting to immerse myself in the world. i lack the ability to lose myself, to re-imagine the world, and to simply have fun. i know I’m probably too dialed into current events. we all need to know what is going on, so they say. but, we have to know our limits and triggers. like they say, self-care is essential. with all of that said, i want to challenge myself to get more into the fantasy world. i usually gravitate towards adult drama and historical fiction. i will start with these two books above.

joy comes in the morning

It’s been all about the piano today. Was feeling really down and alone. The piano helps distract me from my nagging reality. Thanks to my 3 month free subscription to Skoove, I’ve been able to progress. I can now play a very elemental version of “Lean On Me”. I’m not really comfortable posting video of me playing. I’m working up to that though. You will have to take my word for it, I rock “Lean On Me”. I try to practice at like 20 minutes every day, giving myself one day to rest. I want to give a special shout out to my mother for giving me long fingers. I can play two notes in different octaves at the same time. These are the pieces I want to master: (in that order)

Candy Man – Helen’s Theme
I want to master this one by Halloween. I hope to be in a good place mentally so I can post myself playing it. I think it’s pretty complicated. I will have to move around the keys a great deal. This is what I call eerily beautiful.

Beethoven – No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27 No. 2, “Moonlight”: Adagio
It’s a classic that touches me deeply. I will probably cry when I master this one. It’s soft, quiet, and heart-wrenching. There are several other piano sonata from Beethoven’s collection I want to learn.

David Grusin – It Might Be You (from Tootsie soundtrack)
This would have been my wedding song. Even though there will be no Mr. Lauriette, I still want to learn it. I cry every time I hear it.

One – A Chorus Line Theme Song
If you know me personally, you know I love musicals. This ‘one’ is from one of my favorite musicals.

Satie – Gymnopedie No. 1
It’s a masterpiece of romantic melancholy. It makes me think of lovers walking along the shore for the last time. Love it there but it seems to be evasive. Or it makes you think of a movie montage of lovers falling in love deeper, stronger.

I also want to learn to play: (honorable mentions)
-If Beale Street Could Talk – Agape (for the culture)
-“I Can’t Make You Love Me”- Bonnie Raitt (It’s so beautiful on the piano.)
-Beethoven: Piano No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, “Pathetique”: Adagio
-“The Way It Is” Bruce Hornsby (I need to be on level 20 for this one.)
-Chopin, Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2. (This one is a must!)

This is my digital challenge in writing. If I refuse to quit, I will accomplish these goals. I believe. No matter how long it takes.

2019 Reading Goals

This year I plan to push myself to read more. Last year, I set a challenge of 10 books and I almost didn’t complete it. Looks like 2019 is on that bullshit as well. My life really doesn’t want me to be awesome. It’s totally interfering with my reading life. But, we are going to push through. One goal I will be focusing on this year is reading more James Baldwin. I read my first James Baldwin book last year “If Beale Street Could Talk”, and I loved it so much. I try to tell myself it’s not about the number, but I still find myself counting the books. I want to read different genres; incorporating more fantasy. That is the true challenge of getting lost in a different world, maybe a good fantasy series. I need a break from the real world.

These are a few other books I want to read this year as well: (in no particular order)

The American Marriage by Tayari Jones (5 stars) 1/24/19
The Mothers by Brit Bennett (3 stars)  2/23/2019
-The Female Persuasion by Meg Molitzer
-Hunger by Roxanne Gay
-Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo
-I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin
-The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
-Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin
-Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
-The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates
-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
-Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (my second try)

I will add more books as the months go by. I like to leave room for new books that may come out this year.

We will see how this goes. This year is off to a tiring depressing start. “The American Marriage” is really good but my life keeps showing up on the page. I have to read sentences over and over. Then I end up putting the book down. It’s not the book’s fault. It’s my life encroaching on my attempt to escape.

N’Jadaka’s Face = my 2018

N’Jadaka’s face = my 2018 . and . this is simultaneously how i’m looking at 2019

I sit in Starbucks for the first time for the mere purpose of looking NY cool. I wanted to look cool having shit to do while gloating with the fact that I don’t have to go home. You know, looking like my life is so full I had to stop off at Starbucks just to take a breather before my next important business meeting. Honestly, I didn’t want to stay at home. I needed a change. Probably seems like some regular ass shit for y’all. These past 6 months have been life-changing. 2018 was life-changing. I became a grandma. I gained my own space; mind space and physical space. I’ve been home for 3 days straight. I was bugging out a bit. I’m thinking about 2018’s obvious disdain with my very existence and 2019’s possible trick bag waiting to take me out on a whole other level never reached. Every new year has proven to be the new 365 days reset challenge to see how much shit it can put me through while distracting me with 2 or 3 good things to tide me over until the next big disappointment or devastation (lil mercies).

Let’s go ahead and talk about it. This year showed me just how undesirable I truly am. A girl’s DMs, text messages, and just overall life is dry ass fuck; dry of male energy, dry of male thirst, and male curiosity. Now, when I say dry, I don’t mean empty. I’m talking dry as in 1 or 2 drops. I need more. Put it like this, I chick is thirsty, desperate, while invisible. Here is the great conundrum. I want male energy, but I only want the sweet testosterone male energy that doesn’t demand much from me, even femininity. Yeah, I don’t understand that either. It might have something to do with male confusion around me.

On to what I want to do with my 2019 before it tells me how it will be. I want to up my book challenge to 25 books from 10 books. Being that I seemingly have a lot of time on my hands, I want to devote more time reading. I want to find a good reasonably priced piano instructor to help me with learning all things piano. The long-term ultimate goal is to be able to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata AND Helen’s Theme from the Candy Man soundtrack. I’m not even gonna play myself talking about losing weight. I would like to incorporate more veggies and fruits into my diet. That’s about it on that.

Look, 2019, I want to read my books, learn the piano and welcome a saturation of sweet juicy male energy in my life. Is that too much to ask?! Well, I’m sure you are just dying to show me. Bring it on, bitch!

2018: an authored pain

my new baby

My mother paid for me to have piano lessons back in Selma when I was a little girl. I found it to be too complicated and frustrating and I didn’t have a piano to practice the drills my piano teacher gave me after each lesson. I never did follow through. As an adult, I dreamed of taking up learning how to play the piano again, but I never imagined the possibility of it being a reality. Now, look at me with extra mental space to fill and time to dream out loud. Right now, I take a break from practicing scales, chords, and twinkle twinkle little star. It’s amazing how things work out.

Wednesday has proved to be an eventful day of the week given the news I received this year. Earlier this year, in February, my son called me to tell me he had to tell me something and that I should sit down. He goes on to say, “I’m locked up, and I have a baby on the way.” Just like that on a Wednesday. What a difference a month makes. February, my son told me from jail upstate he was going to be a father and the next month I was a grandmother. Often, there is no hand-holding when life happens.

My granddaughter coming into my life has brightened my life. I’m so grateful to her mother for bringing her here even as topsy-turvy as it may be, at the moment, while in the hands of a narcissist president. Walking into a hospital room to meet my granddaughter’s mother for the first time was one of the hardest things I had to do this year. Walking into that room knowing that all the preconceived notions waiting behind the door were all understandable given the circumstances. My son’s decisions have affected this new string of family members. They already met me in my son’s upsetting choices. They didn’t know me, but they did know my son’s current residence.

The second half of this year didn’t go as planned or expected either. I was grateful to cross off a bucket list item. Visiting Niagara Falls with my best friend for my birthday felt like it was straight out of a fantasy. We took in the tourist attractions allowing the falls to drench us from head to toe. Now that I know how this year’s story ends, this trip was the proverbial calm before the unchartered yet familiar storm of old creeping up to snatch my breath away once more.

Wednesday, August 15th I received a text from my daughter telling me she is running away to her father’s house because “she wants to be happy.” This day was already rough for me because I was on my way from home after seeing my cranky granddaughter who cried every time I tried to pick her up. I was already feeling lonely and that my granddaughter didn’t like my energy. Now, this.

The words I read on my iPhone screen made my stomach churn. I always wondered how it would happen. The pain I felt was so strong I couldn’t even respond to the woman at the bus stop as she complimented me on my shoes. I had to sit down and breathe through the beginning of the rest of my new life. The pain was from an old sore that has never had the time to heal from 10 years of custody battles. I frantically called my daughter, her father; no answer. This was simply a mother’s knee-jerk reaction. There are still no real answers, not from my daughter, only alienation. I knew what was happening, but I wasn’t ready to let go. I understand that she is under the influence of her best friend, her father. I already forgive her.

You never know how much space children take up in your mind until they are gone. These later events were authored for pain. And, I will assure you, there is still faint pain even its ripple effect. That same pain turned out to be the beginning of a new kind of freedom. For the first time in my life, I was allowed to explore the questions I never thought I could answer. Who are you outside of being a mother? What do you truly like? What are your dreams? Who are you?

Now, I sit at my laptop writing this blog as I gaze over at my keyboard of 88 keys my mother and my father bought for me. I think of my short-term and long-term goals. I didn’t even have those before. My life dictated to me what I will do, be or not accomplish. I have allowed myself to be tired of the old and now I embrace the new.

if beale street could talk: movie review

this novel is fresh in my mind because i read it this year; my first time reading a james baldwin novel.  within the first 5 minutes of the film, i was already in tears. i was so glad i picked up a couple of napkins laid out on a table in front of the state theater at lincoln square. the silence, the loving stares, the beautiful colors beckoned me to freeze each frame just to linger a little longer. i can’t wait to take screenshots of every frame in order to adorn my laptop. i came in with preconceived theories about the direction and how the storytelling would be approached. for some reason, i didn’t think the narration style would translate well from the novel to the screen. barry jenkins made the right choice.  the acting was superb. they didn’t have to say anything. they could have gazed into each other’s eyes for 2 hours and it would have been time well spent.

there is a sex scene. well, it’s more like a lovemaking scene and it was tastefully done. the man sitting next to me chuckled when he heard me whisper ‘yes yes yes yes’ and ‘my god’ at the visual of dark-skinned beautiful skin expressing love. thank you, barry jenkins. i didn’t know how much i needed to see that on screen. i’m almost certain i’ve never seen a lovemaking scene with black people quite as honest, intense and tender. the only one i can think of that may come close is the sex scene in ‘love & basketball’. i can’t put into words how affirming it is to see dark-skinned people loving on each other.

even given all this beauty, i still left the theater a little angry. i wasn’t angry because i didn’t enjoy my time with this film; i enjoyed every minute. i was angry because it’s a guarantee there are countless stories similar to fonny and tish’s experience. this is not fiction. i think of all the untold stories of dreams halted, love put on hold, creations unable to see the light of day, with an ugly stain on a love story. somewhere in our history, someone with man-made power used it to snuff the life out of what was perceived to be less than, not human. it broke my heart to see fonny’s beautiful existence handled with no respect, beat down by the “justice” system working in the way it was created to work. the narrator’s sweet voice interjected like the constant interference of those in power reminding us why this young couple could not love in the way they deserved to love, with no boundaries. i may have one critique, but it’s not even worth mentioning. it’s a 5-star film receiving 3 golden globes nomination before its release date. take your love to see it. i took myself and i will be taking myself again.