For My Grandmother

When in doubt, if you have an question, look to you ancestors first for answers.

I think we waste a lot of time, fiddling around, instead of exploring the answers  already set forth by the folks came before us.

When we do this, I think we will have the future that we already have and need, the future that we come from.

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Today is my grandmothers birthday, and told myself last year that I would honor her. She was a cold piece of work of a Black woman from Dallas, Texas. Afraid of no human being.   Family lore says that she once slapped an Oakland police office for being disrespectful to her. She wrote her own habeas corpus in order to have herself RELEASED from jail after my grandfather put her there. And she could read you in your bone marrow both when she had sight and after my grandfather blinded her; her ability to read had nothing to do with her eyes. Like me.

When people compliment me on Black girls are from the future, or the book or anything, I don’t shirk. Why? Because I know quite honestly that I have the life that my grandmother wasn’t allowed to have. My work is hers.

She is a genius, like so many Black women born in the 1940’s who made due with what she had. I get my tenacity, wit and perhaps my comfort with language from her.

Grandmomma, thank you for my life, I am glad you were able to live with me for that short period when I was eight years old. I always think about the conditions under which you lived your life when I think about giving up on my creative projects. I am honored to be your little bear.

You’re my favorite Libra.

Love,

Renina

When A I Loved One Commits Suicide

 

It has taken me nearly a year to deal with the suicide of my play little brother Matteo.

I felt like shit when I first learned, nearly a year ago. In fact, I just laid on the floor and cried. When I saw that I had a phone call from a 510 number late on a Sunday night, I knew something was wrong; no one calls me from home that late unless something is wrong.

The day after I learned he passed, I still taught my class, but I mentioned to my students that someone close to me died, someone who was around their age.

Then I went to Ben’s with Jerm the Perm to eat wings. #NOTtheappropriatewayofdealingwithaDeath.

It really felt like shit to be there for my students, but not be able to be there for someone that I consider to be family, and I’ve held on to that until I went to Oakland three weeks ago and formally grieved his death.

You see, Matteo and I were close because I baby-sat him when I was in high school. When I say baby-sat I mean, 8 hours on Saturday, and 8 hours on Sunday. 16 hours per weekend for most of high school.

I had just spoken to Matteo last August right before comps, just to catch up. I am glad that I was insistent about making a point to meet speak to him and find out how school and work was going. I remember sending him a few text messages in order to set up a time. Normally, that process annoys me, but I did it, it felt right.

What was useful about grieving the loss of him in Oakland, is that I finally came to understand that he was in so much pain, and was ready to go then there was nothing that I could do about it, unless he wanted help. At the same time, I wish, if he were in that much pain, that he would have reached out to me.

So, while I was in Oakland, I made a short movie and walked around his/our old neighborhood. It was then that I felt better. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. But there was something cathartic about walking around the neighborhood and remember which street to avoid because they had two pit bulls in the yard and which house had the great garden tended by the Vietnamese grand mother.

After I made the video, I walked down to the Farmers Market and I saw someone who looked just like him, tall, White, early twenties, box jaw, I almost jumped out of my fucking skin. But I suspect that that is simply apart of the process. I just bought some fancy pesto and kept on walking.

Have you ever dealt with the loss of a loved one?

What was your process?

Thank you for Moya and Jessica.

For the last two years. Moya and Jessica have taken my calls, given me advice, listened to me while I was in tears and wanted to drop out.

Listened to me deal with breaking up with Filthy, listened to me deal with what it means to be a graduate student in a Research 1 University.

They are both hella busy.

Both dissertating. Both have jobs, family and Love bears of their own, yet they have taken the time to help me.

I am grateful, because they always challenge and support me.

Furthermore, they never play hide the ball on some “I ain’t gonna help her because she might get a job or fellowship I want” and they know #Blackgirlsarefromthefuture.

You know how you call someone and say  “Hey, How do I go about finding a summer lecturing job doing the cold call” and you never hear back from them? Well, last week, I asked them both that question and they both answered quickly, with thorough assed answers.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you two have shown me what Love looks like while being Black womenin an academic space.

You don’t have to do what you do and I appreciate the fact, that, not only do you do it. But you do it consistently.

#Youareappreciated.

Love,

Renina.

Now That You Got It, What ‘Chu Gone Do With It.

Yesterday, I was sending an email to someone and I came across an old Law school colleague in the little auto fill jawn, so I decided to look her up.

Be careful when you do that shit.

I did a search and learned via the NY Times that she got married last fall to a FOUNE jawn, that she met in law school as well.

When Black folks make the NY Times marriage section, its not a game.  Black folks IN “the paper of record?” #ummhmm.  I smile every time I see somebody I know in there. The sociologist in me looks at the class background of the bride and groom or bride’s and groom’s,  their education background,  their parents occupation and their ages.

I started beating myself up, like she crazy young, she did really well in L school and she got a boo thang AND they both lawyers.

THE FUCK?

However as I spoke to Court Bear my dating coach I realized:
a. I only know part of her story. And based on my research on Black women’s sexuality over the last month, there is a LOT of performance going on, and I should be mindful of the assumptions that I make based on appearances.

b. When I started Law school, I was engaged, I gave back the ring, and I moved out. So what the fuck was I complaining for. I had it, I walked away from it. Black girls ain’t victims, they make choices. It’s really bugged out when you realize you are longing for something you already had. #Pitypartymuch?

c. I have been fortunate to have people love me, dirty drawls Love.  I dated a giver this year honey. Once you do that, it ain’t no turning back. The blessing and the curse. This winter/year is teaching me how special and rare that is.

It was like….um, don’t be romanticizing people ish, because guess what, “Now that you got it what chu’ gone do with it.”

I remember the weeks before I moved out.  That August night when I hung that diamond cut diamond (which The Google has just reminded me is accurately called a Marquise, ah,  now I remember honey) around my neck the way Carrie did in SITC. I know, dumb corny, but in some ways I was saying, treat me right or leave me alone.  Shit Carrie did it, I can do it too. #ummhmm.

Peace to #Josephine and Black girls who stay having jobs in recessions and having jawns regardless of the season AND who do searches that bring them reality checks and Love bears. Embrace it, Can This Be Life?

I wrote this post because…


You check yourself mentally lately when comparing your life to someone elses?

Who helps bring you back to reality when you are having a pity party?


You look someone up recently and regret it? Appreciate it.

Black Girl Rule #1: Love the People Who Love You Back

Eves Bayou

Today I saw an friend. An old school homie. A woman who knows me and my business AND my momma ‘nem business.

We don’t speak.

We have fallen out twice and I have decided to leave it be.

Its odd and awkward. But that’s fine. We grown. A little discomfort ain’t never killed nobody.? I would be lying if I didn’t say that it would BE NICE to be friends.

We have known each other since we were 18. We know hella people in common and have seen each other through some hard times. But if it don’t fit don’t force it.

I also saw another friend today who had a hard week. Her job is janky, her boo thang situation is janky and she hasn’t had the time to devote to her art.

Artist get some kinda way when they can’t work on they work.

Tonight I snapped at her. I was houngary. I turn into a little Black girl gremlin when I don’t eat.

I apologized and said that I know that she is having a hard time, and that my goal was to leave her feeling the same or feeling better, but not worse. I said that I take being her friend seriously.

When I left her tonight I hugged her and told her that I loved her and that I am glad that she is alive.

Yes, its sentimental and over the top but you know what, sometimes people need to hear that shit explicitly.

Often times it is knowing that someone Loves us that keeps going.

After she got off the train I realized that Black girl rule number one is to Love the people who Love us back. This means leaving the folks alone who don’t want to be bothered.

This can be a boo thang or a homie. Or and old friend who you have fallen out with twice.

You want to fuck up your self esteem? Chase after a negro man or woman who don’t want you? Done that. Im cool.

#BlackgirlsarefromtheFuturesotheydon’tdothatshitin2010.

You leave anyone alone lately?

You speak when you see each other?

Sometimes historical friendships be just that, history.