Being Black During Quarantine

Last month, I wrote about the bright side of quarantine and looking at quarantine through a positive lens. It’s been a really great opportunity for me to get back to ME and build a routine that pours more time into me and not just work and other obligations. I am still writing and still shooting videos for my YouTube channel. I was also asked to shoot some Tribute videos for people, which have been really encouraging for me to pour into others and show how much they mean to me. I’ve been attending a new bible study, attending virtual events and I even had time to check out this YouTube show that I had no idea existed, called The Same Room (by The Shade Room)which is a talk show hosted by Stephanie Ike, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Woman Evolve in 2018. All of the episodes are captivating to me.

I am still watching TV. Below are some of the shows I’ve been watching for the month. During quarantine, I am also making the conscious decision to get serious about my finances. Having them under control is no longer enough. I want to financially thrive. More on this journey coming soon. Other journey’s I’ve embarked on is a skin and hair journey (both have been struggles for me since I can remember). I am using this time to drink my water daily, wash my hair weekly, and moisturize my skin during the day and at night. I’m so proud of myself.

The 52 List Project (11)However, my mental health and productivity took a turn for the worst two weeks ago when I heard about Breonna Taylor, a 26-year old black woman who was fatally shot by police in Kentucky, while serving a no-knock warrant on March 13th. It turns out that the suspect they were looking for was already in custody. Taylor was a health care worker and died senselessly at the hands of police, who was supposed to “protect” her. My heart sank. I was unproductive when I should’ve been working and quite frankly sad. I would even go so far as to say I was depressed. I looked at her face and saw me. She was a regular black girl just like me and if her family didn’t work so hard to garner social media exposure, her story would’ve been dusted under the rug like so many others. This was coupled by only a week before hearing about Ahmaud Arbery who was lynched while jogging. It is alleged that on his daily jog, he went into a construction site or “trespassed.” He didn’t take anything, just looking around, being inquisitive. You know, black people can be curious too. Two white men, father, and son, confronted Arbery and killed him. He was jogging! He tried to run away. He left the encounter DEAD. It took over 70 days for the state of Georgia to do anything. The Attorney General did not deem the crime warranted for an arrest. Just another black man dead, big deal right? That was until social media got a hold of it. Within days, the father/son murder duo’s lawyers were pleading for folks to have mercy on them; the exact words being “Don’t Rush to Judgement”… yes, this is a thing and if you know the full scope of the story then you know the irony of this too.

Some say death comes in threes. On Monday, May 25, two egregious acts of violence and white supremacy came across our TV and phone screens. The first, I saw as soon as I woke up because there was a twitter notification on my phone from Ava DuVernay. DuVernay was asked to do a documentary on White women weaponizing their color and privilege against black people. Ava replied that she didn’t think any streamer would make a 100-part documentary (HA!) I thought that would be a dope documentary but I was wondering why such a packaged question so early?

ava tweet

Then I saw it on the news Amy Cooper aka “Central Park Karen,” weaponized her race and privilege against bird watcher Christian Cooper. A black man. You know why this hurt? Because women like Amy are all around us. We encounter them, we work with them, they are lethal and dangerous. Emmett Till was mutilated and butchered because of a white woman like Amy Cooper. This stung deep because you don’t have to have a KKK hood to be racist, you can be a white woman in central park with a dog and be a racist and no one will ever know! WOW!

Christian Cooper NY Times
Christian Cooper – NYT Article entitled “Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper: A Confrontation in the Park”

If that wasn’t enough, that same day, video footage of George Floyd came across every TV screen and social media post. We watched as Mr. Floyd screamed for his life exclaiming he could not breathe as a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, put his knee on his neck in an attempt of restraining him. He was handcuffed. He was not resisting arrest. He was dying and I had to watch repeatedly, his slow and agonizing death. I had to hear his cries. 8-minutes of someone pinning their knee on your neck, like it’s a sport. This was haunting and deflating. I am exhausted, I am hurt, I am sad, I am heartbroken. A mind-numbing migraine began when I heard the news and has not stopped. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what else I need to read or learn about my history to give me hope because I’ve learned enough to know that history is repeating itself. The only thing that is keeping me sane is my belief in God, that’s it.

What has always bothered me about racism is that black people have been painted out to be the monsters, the kidnappers, the thugs, the looters, the angry ones, the uncivilized ones, the rapists, and the murderers but the gag is, historically racist white people are the monsters, the kidnappers, the thugs, the looters, the angry ones, the uncivilized ones, the rapists and the murderers. When I think about the act of slavery and how human beings were kidnapped from their countries, stripped from families, a whole culture lost, just to come on a boat and be packaged like sardines, murdered and raped during the middle passage, sold off on an auction block and chained like animals at the hands of white people…all the while being whipped, tortured and dehumanized in a system where the workers did not profit, I am baffled. Blacks have worn the burden and taken the brunt for the atrocities of racist white people since the first slave ship landed on American soil. The other night I had to ask myself, why am I sitting here arguing with my black boyfriend about racism and when it will end, when we are not the problem, we are not racist, we are victims of racism and therefore cannot determine when it will end. When will racism end is a question that racist white people need to answer. When are white people going to argue until their blue in the face with their significant others, families, and friends about these issues of race that their ancestors caused and that they continue to perpetuate when they threaten to use their privilege to lie on a black bird watcher or use their knee to kill a man whose only crime was using a fake $20 bill? The fact that we have to bear the responsibility of teaching white people why racism is bad and how it impacts us when we’re not the racists is insanity, especially when they don’t understand or recognize their racism. This and everything else I outline in this paragraph is gaslighting 101 and I am fed up.

So while quarantine has it’s good times, being black in quarantine rings a whole new bell and brings with it a new burden and we are not okay.

By Ky Books: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl


IMG_3683.JPGThe Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is probably one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read, primarily because I can relate. This hilarious book by Issa Rae is a new generational way of looking at race in today’s society. Rae takes us on an intimate journey of her life from her humble beginnings in Senegal to her upper-middle-class lifestyle in Los Angeles. We learn what it means to be a black woman and to feel awkward at the same time. What I loved most about this book besides its hilarious humor was Issa’s conversations about race whether it’s addressing the type of black people you will always encounter or her struggle of being too black to some, and not black enough to others.

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Colorism

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The below excerpt is my first attempt at writing about the issue of Colorism, during my sophomore year in college. I’ll share with you the first three pages of this 20-page research paper. This essay along with a few others eventually helped me win the Excellence in Communication Award at Penn State. If you decide you would like to read more about Colorism, please read the book The Color Complex, it’s one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read regarding this issue:

Colorism

April 2008

If you’re black get back/if you’re brown stick around/ if your light you’re all right.

Being Black or being White has historically separated people in America and around the world but what many people fail to realize or even acknowledge is a gap has been bridged within the black race as a result of the differentiation and discrimination based on skin tones. Colorism is the coined word to describe the dirty little secret that our community perpetuates through its idealizations of Eurocentric beauty standards and denouncement of Afrocentric standards of beauty. Skin complexion, hair type, and body image have always been conscious issues for African American’s but it is the root of self-loathing and low self-esteem as well. This form of intra-racism has proved to be psychologically detrimental to African Americans’ sense of self. Colorism is immoral, unethical, and undeniably one of the reasons why black people do not feel accepted within their own race. It promotes insecurity and inequality because people are no longer being judged by their intelligence or capabilities; they are being judged by the lightness or darkness of their skin. If we are going to successfully progress into a bright future we need to learn and understand our history. If more African Americans took the time to understand their troubled past they would understand that colorism is essentially a construct and does not dictate the type of person you are, nor does it dictate your self-worth. Understanding the dark history behind colorism is one of the first steps towards progress. The next step toward progress is acceptance. The internalized self-hate one feels towards oneself because other members in society deem them inferior is one of the reasons why we may never advance towards a society that does not judge people based on the color of their skin. Accepting that being black is not necessarily a dilemma but an armor you should wear with pride is foremost. Continue reading “Colorism”

Celebrating Black History

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It all happened pretty quickly. On Jan 9th I talked casually to my friend about the state of being black in America. We addressed everything from slavery, to affirmative action, to the downfall of Bill Cosby. As black women, we have to think about these issues through two lenses, race, and gender. The intersectionality of race and gender is what the intellectuals in academia call it. The following week, I went to see Kevin Powell speak at the Brooklyn Historical Society and was enamored by his thought-provoking conversation. I was also very proud that he spoke about the same things my friend and I talked about just the week before. From there, I decided to delve further into my knowledge of black history. Not that I don’t know enough as it is (I know enough to make my little mind go insane), but I wanted to dive just a little deeper. So I took the plunge. I spent the last few weeks, reading, writing, watching, and conversing about black history and the current state of black men and women in America. It was then that I understood how important the conversation is to have.

This February is going to be very significant for the Lifestyle By Ky Blog. It marks the start of Black History Month, a special month filled with pride and remembrance of what my ancestors did for you and me so we could have a better life. From enduring the harsh ramifications of slavery to the senseless violence of the Civil Rights era, they sacrificed for us so we could have the freedoms that we enjoy today and will continue to build on in the future. Continue reading “Celebrating Black History”