Black Panther: A Hidden Gem

Is Black Panther really for the culture?

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Some claim the film to be over-hyped, while others perceive it as a cultural movement.

After all the hype and major suspense, leading up to the official premiere day of “Black Panther.” I finally bought my ticket (a few days later because the movie was sold out the entire weekend) and with the company of my 7-year-old nephew, we headed out to join the glorious nation of Wakanda. (sigh) No, we didn’t join the wave of wearing traditional African garb. Truthfully, I don’t own any at the moment (yea, yea, I know shame on me). However, we still looked pretty good in our casual modern, westernized ensembles.

It’s refreshing to see Black actors (of all ages) step away from Hollywood’s stereotypical “Black roles” which often limit our narratives to enslavement, and a variety of other societal forms of oppression: drug dealers, impoverished/ struggling working class people, drug addicts and common victims of authoritative inflicted violence.

Let me just say this, any movie that makes you want to join a fictionalized nation is- in my opinion- a life changing and enjoyable experience. I’d love to live in Wakanda; if it were a real nation, I’d revoke my American citizenship and move there in a heartbeat.

I mean no shade to the hundreds of other classic Marvel superhero films that have countless remakes. Once again, no shade, noooo shade:(#AllMarvelSuperheroLivesMatter). It’s just Black Panther’s story-in contrast to his fellow Marvel counterparts- was never brought to the forefront and popularized in the mainstream. Black panther isn’t a new super hero on the scene, he’s nearly 6 decades old. So, yea, he’s pretty mature at this point.

I guess it’s fair to say, some of the best things are worth waiting for. & 2018 was definitely Black Panther’s time so shine.

It warmed my heart seeing various hues of beautiful brown complexion grace the cinematic screen and deliver their roles with ferocious power.

Black Panther presented more than just vibrant, intense combatting; dope high tech equipment, afrocentric beauty; national/cultural pride; innovation and traditional rituals. It depicts, the story of Africa in a positive, uplifting and forward thinking way- without the spoon fed HIStoric accounts of poverty and emaciated people. Before someone comes on here and tries to burst my proud ‘black panther bubble’ let me clarify; Yes,I’m aware the story is fictionalized. But there’s no denying that the influential sources derive from actual African cultures.

WahKinda LOVE? WAKANDA LOVE.

 

Another thing, I’ve been keeping in my hypercritical mind when it comes to watching movies are the overt portrayals of love and the role(s) each love interest plays.

Now, we all know it’s clear who the film’s central love interests are: T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o)

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T’Challa plays the role of a powerful leader who is both influenced and weakened by women. His sister Shuri, is a young innovative scientist, whose technologically advanced inventions- with the use of a natural resource (vibranium)-enhances T’Challa’s abilities, allowing him to seem nearly indestructible against his opponents. It’s with Shuri’s inventions that T’Challa simultaneously defeats and protects his precious Wakanda.

 

The film projects heterosexual love in a different light for both genders; Love is perceived as patient, unwavering, persistent, protective, and eternal. The love T’Challa displays for his country and lover, Nakia, are somewhat similar, yet deeply disparate.

The romanticized stereotypes of male obsession, sexual acts, conversations revolving around the male figure were not present in this film. Tbh, I’m relieved. I’m beyond tired of these redundant, cliche plot lines.

Neither, T’Challa or Nakia, portray cliche gender biased characteristics (i.e., the female= submissive or usually lacking self-confidence, sometimes both; male= dominate, popular and physically attractive) instead T’Challa and Nakia demonstrate their strong rapport through mutual respect and balance. The males in the utopian society of Wakanda level the playing field by showing respect for their women through, inclusion, understanding, leadership and influence. There is an overall respect for female influence in Wakanda.

I find  T’Challa’s inability to think or speak freely in Nakia’s presence so cute and innocent. What’s even more humorous about it, is how often he’s teased for his act. Once again, there is a clear message of the strength feminine aura upholds in this society and its undeniably powerful influence on men.

Nakia asserts her power by vocalizing her wants and aspirations to T’Challa. Although Nikia is offered the  honor of claiming the throne as T’Challa’s wife and Queen of Wakanda; she chooses  to follow her own path and fulfill her desires before settling for a life blanketed with comfort (You go girl!).T’Challa respects her wishes and continues to show his undying love for Nakia in other ways.

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I appreciate the writers and most importantly the characters for showing us that it’s possible to express love far beyond the confines of physicality or intimacy. Not once was there an act of sexual expression or subliminal messages. Thank God! It would’ve been awkward having to explain that to my nephew. 

Both characters were aware of their significant roles in one another’s lives, but used their love to join forces to fight for their even greater love, Wakanda.

So, to answer the question. Yes, I wholeheartedly believe Black Panther

is the culture

for the culture

and is a representation of the culture.

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Anti-thot Anthem: Who wouldn’t want SZA for “The Weekend”?

Lately, I’ve been having a major issue with people categorizing SZA as a “thot” or advocating for the  “thot lifestyle”.

Thot strange word, right? I know some of my readers probably have peculiar expressions on their faces,  wondering what in the hell does that mean?

Well my friends, this slanged terminology simply means Hoe or let me be politically correct, an avidly promiscuous individual.

As you can see I have a thing for digressing, but it’s all in good nature. I just want to clarify any misconceptions and allow my readers to understand what I’m saying.

I might have just added a new word to your vocabulary. You’re welcome 😉

I’m very aware of the fact that I don’t know SZA on a personal level. However, there’s something powerful about a music artist’s ability to be lyrically vulnerable, which helps bridge the gap between artist and fan, causing you to feel as if you really know them and share their pain.

Well let me say this I resonate all too well with the situation SZA sings about in her popular R&B track, as some may call it a thot anthem “The Weekend”

I’ll just sprinkle a tad bit on you. The content may be too heavy for the faint, uppity or judgmental hearted.

“My man is my man, is your man, heard that’s her man too Repeat. (…) Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I just keep him satisfied through the weekend. You like 9-5, I’m the weekend.”

Let me clarify this, in no way shape or form am I promoting infidelity/Side chick-ism. I simply just want people to actually listen to songs (not just the beat) hear the sources -in this case- the artist’s P.O.V, in order to truly get a sense of why they wrote the song? What place were they writing from? What influenced them to release their song to the public?

SZA starts off by saying “You say you got a girl,  how you want me, how you want me, when you got a girl.” The latter verses explains that this young man clearly holds no emotional ties to any of the women he is sexually involved with. His sexual desires are fulfilled through various sexual partners.

SZA explains from her perspective that she enjoys being sexually intimate with him and desires to have it more often, so she is proposing to reach a compromise with the other women where she can selfishly have him all to herself  throughout The Weekend. During weekdays, the other women can work it out amongst themselves. SZA is basically saying, he’s for everyone and each woman gets their fair share of his loving.

In this age and I’m sure many women of past generations have encountered experiences where they willingly accepted to play a role for the sake of their lover. Sometimes we as human beings. become selfless for our partners and blindly agree to what numerous other people would contest too. Those same people are the first to give you the vicious side eye, advising you how to live your life. Of course, it’s through their clean, unscratched, perfectly wiped narcissistic lenses.

I’ve played many roles in my life and I’m not proud of them all, neither am I ashamed.  I’m a young woman who takes ownership. Maturity  and growth is a daily learning task, not some intuitive instinct we’re born with. Everything takes time and we all live different lives.  I’m not perfect, hell no one is.  I support SZA’s stance on the weekend and stand firmly in her perspective that she is not promoting infidelity, thots or side chicks.

And I reiterate for the umpteenth time, this is not a “THOT ANTHEM”

When artists like SZA are willing to be candid and freely share their pain and life lessons through their love of music; I ask that you please listen and refrain from judgmental labels which only hold negative stigmas and connotations.

I am not a thot or a fucking whore. I am just an imperfect, flawed, sometimes naive, too nice, too understanding and accepting 20 something.  What can I say? I guess that’s just the growing pains of a 20 something. Every experience is either a blessing or a lesson. My personal experiences may not be the best, but I’m grateful, now I can say yea I’ve encountered some situations where  I traded my morals for the temporary fulfillment of lust. Yet I survived.

I might just help another maturing woman through her situation while withholding the I-am-holier-than-thou attitude.

Thank you SZA for your words and sharing your experience.

Sometimes the worse experiences are the best stories. 

Here’s a link to the song as well, give it a listen and comment with your opinion of the lyrical message. I’d love to hear other perspectives.

“The Weekend” By SZA

And remember, Those who can’t relate are always the first to judge!!

#JustSayin

#SorryNotSorry

Carpe diem!

I think I know the moment I became disconnected with myself.

While residing in Buffalo, I allowed myself to settle for any mediocre job opportunity that was at hand, for the sake of making ends meet. I hated every second of each temp job I attained. During this time I allowed other people-employers-to look at me and form their assumptions about what I needed. And that desperate need was settling for their low wages, ridiculous long hours and heavy labor. I allowed a string of employers to both indirectly and directly tell me that my concerns and future aspirations did not matter; what mattered the most was my commitment to clocking-in to their schedule and doing what they demanded.

I lost myself, I lost hope of my dreams and I was blinded by the negative, bitterness to break free. I began to agree with them and after a while I began showing up to work with the forced poker face, trying to convince myself “Ok yolee, just fake it until you make it, that’s all.” I was so caught up in the hype of having my own apartment and my own space, but in reality what I truly lacked was a sense of complete ownership. The ownership of my decisions, career, love-life, relationships with others, and my life in general. I was lost, struggling to hold on to everything, without realizing that nothing in Buffalo was ever really mine. I rented an apartment, I relied on public transportation, and I lost friends, so in retrospect I had not owned anything.  All I truly had was myself and I often questioned that.

I’m nearing my fifth month of unemployment.

Today, I decided to take a chance without second guessing or overthinking the possible outcomes. Lately, I began accepting rejection as a commonality in my life, but today my warrior spirit showed up and led me to seek out a long awaited opportunity. I was watching everyone around me- close friends, former school peers and even relatives attain their glorious success in the job market.  I even believed in the reassuring repetitive phrase, “Don’t worry your time will come, it’ll show up when you least expect it.”

So you know what I did, guess?

I waited…waited and waited. I’ve been waiting for almost 5 months for this wonderful, mind-blowing opportunity to miraculously appear in my emails or present itself in a voicemail.

The wonderful opportunity didn’t arrive, but you know what did, my good old reliable friend, rejection. For these past few moths she’s been a dependent one. Always ready to greet me with a welcoming smile and open arms. I hated her so much and the more my hate grew the more she swelled with pride.

Today,

I learned a few lessons about myself, 

I allow fear of the unknown to control me and potential progressive steps. I also accept the possibilities of defeat to prohibit my attempts,

I learned that for some people, the universe sends opportunity their way without restraint. As for me, well the Stewarts in general we have to walk out in to the world and pave our own way.

Today as my feet led me to my destination there wasn’t a speck of self doubt within my body.  I opened that door for myself and God opened it on a spiritual level.

If I had not left my mom’s apartment I would’ve remained comfortable in my daily duties of texting and  waiting for replies; waiting for calls I’ll probably never receive, flipping through channels and raiding the food pantry for my umpteenth snack or meal of the day.

My brother made a valid point yesterday. He said to me, we’re already at a disadvantage because we don’t have a foundation to build from and nothing was ever handed to us.

I’m proud of myself for seizing the day, and placing myself back out into the world to show them who I am and what I’m capable of. I somehow landed an instructor specialist job based on my degree and the qualifications on my resume.

I’m completely nervous about this new chapter I’m about to open in my developing adulting memoir.  It’s scary, kids are scary, but I trust God knows what he’s doing for me and with me. my story is just beginning, my life is just beginning and there’s so much more to go.

 

Humanity rises above all

09/11

On a day like this it seems appropriate to write about, discuss, show or share Sympathy. 

Which ever medium you choose, it’s still a credible act.

In the midst of all the natural disasters our not-so-happy mother nature plagues upon us. She’s reminding us not just female/male, black/white, hispanic/asian but  (humankind) on a whole that throughout moments of our own personal lives we should strive to show sympathy. After all, it doesn’t cost you a dime to extend your hand and help someone beside you who has become unbalanced and fallen down.

Sympathy– doesn’t cost a thing. The slightest words, touch or gesture may bring a smile to another persons face and ignite a momentarily extinguished light that somehow  darkened their day.

Whether it may or may not have been you affected by the disasters of Harvey, Irma or Jose, remember there are people out there who felt their wrath and are now suffering the loss of homes, family members and personal items they’ve worked hard to attain. I know Life is worth more than materialistic possessions-although some of those things do bring a sense of temporary contentment- it’s about being present to witness and experience all life has to offer.

So on days preceding 09/11, on 09/11 and days following 09/11, remember to carry sympathy in your heart knowing that we all have an expiration date.

A long overdue Thank you

Thank you for holding my hand during moments I pulled away

Thank you for reaching for a kiss even when I stubbornly resisted the urge to feel the warmth of your love

Thank you for pulling me close and embracing every flaw and fault even when I  refused and pulled away from you

Thank you for attentively listening to me ramble about my day

Thank you for considering to alter your wardrobe a little even though I knew sweats & hoodies were your go-to comfort outfit

Thank you for oiling my scalp, when my braids itched against my scalp and I was too lazy to do it myself

Thank you for refusing to allow me to wallow in self-pity and doubt when I encountered a few bumps in the road

Thank you for lovingly gazing at me, although my insecurities caused me to repeatedly tell you to stop

Thank you for the moments you argued with me and shared your perspective on life, love and politics

Thank you for teasing me

Thank you for your witty and sarcastic rebuttals

Thank you for moments of laughter

Thank you for being a supporter

I thank you for every moment and the impact you had on my life in such a short time.

Most importantly, thank you for being you and not asking much of me.

Thank you for trying to wait for me, but realizing that eventually you had to let me go for the sake of your own heart.

Thank you for the promises, I once believed in when I saw the way you looked at me and felt the passion of your embrace.

Thank you for once loving me, leading me to the possibilities of receiving love.

Thank you for assuring me that it is okay to accept love.

I wanted to be perfect for you. So, thank you for not asking me to not be anything, but myself.

Thank you.

 

-S.Yolee

 

Bitch, sit down. Be selfish!

1. Devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others. (Dictionary.com)

Dear reader,

I’m not trying to offend anyone by citing the dictionary.com definition of selfish. I’m sure you offhand know  what it means or at best are knowledgeable enough to describe it. I just thought for my own sake I’d search for a proper, well worded definition of the famous word. I can’t even lie, I smirked a little after reading the definition and thought to myself, “Yea, this isn’t me.”   

Be selfish: this word and phrase seems to be the recurrent themed advice of my 20s. Almost any adult I’ve confided in so far about the events in my life has repeatedly been advising me to be selfish. But how does one become selfish or learn to master such trait after living a life of generosity?  For most of my life, since I’ve grown to know myself; based on the reminiscent memories my dad shares and my own recollections of childhood, I’ve always shared with others. Barely even thought twice to do it. Yet now, it seems like my days of generosity are catching up to me and left me with the inability to be selfish.  So tell me, how do I acquire this trait, where do I start? Do I need lessons on it? My whole life I’ve always been told it’s important to share, God will reward you for it and people will appreciate your good deeds. I’m neither intending to harp nor am I expecting a personal gold medal or a plaque engraved: Lifetime achievement award of generosity. I’m currently at a cross road now in my life where I need to solely focus on me and my well being without feeling like I need external approval. Also, I’d greatly appreciate if I can happily do things for myself with guilt swooping in ready to kidnap my joy. 

I. Need. To. Be. Selfish 

& in these particular areas of my life to be exact: With my time

My love (Sexual and emotional)

My money 

My ideas 

My talent 

My advice- some ppl are like brick walls, no matter how much you give eventually you’ll see it’s a waste of your time

My style 

My intellectuality 

I’m not sure where to start in this journey of uncovering the myth of ” How to be Selfish. I know THREE places I need to start for sure are time, money and love. 

Love- I have to learn to love myself entirely before I can accept love from someone else.  Having the ability to love myself wholeheartedly  whether or not that person (or people) are in my life. Accepting myself on bad days and still seeing the beautiful  QUEEN in me. Also accepting myself on good days leaving no room for pessimism and negativity to heavily downpour on my sunny days.

 Money- learning to say a firm NO to puppy dog eyes and pleas for financial assistance. Especially since my ass is just as much in need of a little financial boost.  This only deprives me in the long run. 

And finally time- be selfish with my time and stop responding to fuck boys without real agendas, purpose or status of my role in their lives.  I have some changes and adjustments to make. Selfishness, here I come. I hope I take my dosages of selfishness in healthy generous moderation before I abuse it. I wish myself the best. See there’s a start!

Brothers Lessons

As a child, you teased me making sure my skin was tough enough for the cruel world and mean kids.

As a child, you showed me the definition of unconditional love.

As a child, it was you who taught me to fight with my hands, making sure I protected myself at all times. Protect myself from the bullies and people who tried to test me.  

As an adult, It was you who taught me to refrain from physical confrontation (unless necessary) but instead retaliate with my intelligence, wit and words. Always advising me not to allow anyone to be in control of my emotions. 

As a child, you told me to stay away from boys by saying “they only want one thing” Of course I didn’t listen, but i never once forgot what you told me and eventually had to discover the truth on my own. 

As a teenager, when you sensed I was getting a little too rebellious you purposely embarrassed me in front of my friends to keep me in line.

As a teenager you gave me “the talk” which you admitted was awkward and difficult to have at the time. Nonetheless you didn’t shy away from it, and in fact stood your ground. As a pre-teen venturing off into high school you taught me to observe my environment, most importantly the people surrounding me and not become “that girl”.

As a college student, you went against guy code and gave me the emotional insight of a guys mind. Sharing with me that males and females are actually more similar than society tends to make it seem.

As a college graduate you taught me to not undermine my degree and not allow terminations from temporary jobs tarnish my determination. You told me to stop bawling and go back to the drawing board. 

As a college graduate, you told me to hold my head high and be persistent, constantly reminding me “Yolanda you have a Bachelors degree, you’re one step ahead of so many other people”. You told me NOT to give up, but instead continue searching and diversify my options. 

As an adult, you supported my decision either way between packing it all up and returning home or sticking through the difficult times and living on my own.

As an adult, you advised me friendships change, people change, while assuring me it’s all apart of life. All that matters is that I do not allow those external factors to break my spirit and ruin my self perspective or self esteem.

As an adult, you told me there’ll be moments in life where I’ll feel alone, but I have to get through those times to discover and understand myself.

As an adult, you told me I have to create my own happiness by finding my happy song and playing it even on my bad days

As an adult you told me to stop trying to impress others and just focus on myself.

As a child, I wanted to be like you. As a child, I felt protected and safe in your presence.


Now as a woman I want to thank you for every new life lesson you ALL teach me

As a little sister, (the wash belly) and the last of the bunch, I’m not exactly sure what I’ve taught you all. I just hope whatever it is, it was worth it. 

Even if I had the option, I wouldn’t have changed anything.

Thank you for the brother lessons.