Monthly Archives: April 2017

Black Men in “The Real World” or When Steven smacked Irene

My husband and I are big fans of the “Steven smacks Irene” Seattle Real World episode, so occasionally, for whatever reason, it comes up in our conversations and we laugh until until we’re in pain reenacting and rehashing our favorite moments.

This weekend, said episode came up in our talks and I found a Youtube video of the moment with disturbing quickness using key words Steven Real World Slap.

LOL!!!

Okay, I’m back. For those of you who were not in High School in the 90s, MTV Real World gave us some of the best early petty reality  moments of the decade. The moment when Stevn smacked Irene because she  had gone crazy from lime disease and called Steven a homo will go down in history forever. First he threw her favorite stuffed animal in the bay next to the house they stayed in. Then, as she was being driven away, Steven ran up along the side of the car, opened her passenger side door and PAP!

 

ok…I busted out laughing just writing that! Let me get myself together.

After watching the video twice and nearly splitting in half laughing, my husband and I started talking about how Black men always had some of the realest moments on the Real World. Kevin Powell, writer and activist was the first to experience this in the initial experimental cast of MTV Real World. I loved that show so much, I own it on DVD. My husband shared with me that his friends used to tell him he should audition for the show but he was like hell no. He said that “The Real World” drove all the Black men on it crazy, that being surrounded by white people and another layer of white people behind camera was enough to make any Black man lose it. This is something that never occurred to me in quite that way before but that suddenly made total sense.

He also said, that unlike me, he only laughed when Steven threw Irene’s bear in the water. When he smacked her, my husband said he was afraid that Steven would be arrested or attacked or any number of disproportionate responses like murder, might result from the backlash of opposition to his behavior. I don’t remember thinking about that at the time but as a Black man, I can understand why my husband did. Steven was not one of my fave RW cast members but he kept it all the way real with Irene and she lost her flippin mind and then then attempted to Gay shame him on top of that and in case you had any doubts about it, outing someone is violent. I don’t condone violence against women but I also don’t condone it against men, particularly Black men who shoulder the burden of being targeted for violence, abuse, torture, harassment, humiliation and killing every single day of their lives and have done so since the time of slavery.

There are so many Black men who go to such lengths to appear non-threatening and well mannered and respectful and get killed. And then there are the Black men who don’t give a fuck, who don’t try to stifle the bass in their voice or the swagger in their walk, the puff of their chest for nobody and get killed.

Now, I realize that Kevin Powell had some real issues with violence towards women and I realize that smacking Irene in the face, and dragging Tami around on the ground, naked in a sheet may not have been the best choices. But the degree to which being surrounded by people who look nothing like you, who represent the oppression that Black men internalize, push back against or hold at bay in some form or another can cause them to break down is never addressed. Their Real World, the world that reminds them constantly that they’re a threat, while being threatened by racism in all the institutions we are conditioned to integrate into to succeed, is never addressed in these formats. The Real World was still just the White World after all.

Whenever I saw Steven smacking Irene in the face as she was driven away, I think I had always hoped that that shit woke her the fuck up. I really did. That’s how I saw it. I saw that smack in the face as a White Bitch Wake Up moment. I know that it shocked her because it shocked many of us who watched. It seems White people always  need to be shocked into realizing that they and their privilege are not the only things that matter on this planet.

We all need to get smacked with reality when nothing else stirs us. Those of us getting smacked need to get woke. Those of us watching the smacking get to ROTFL if we so choose.

Cause that shit is hilarious!

LOL Emoji

…don’t judge me.

 

If I gotta slap a pussy ass nigga, I wanna make it looks sexy too!

So much of what I learned about Kendrick in this interview with Jay Rubin were things I suspected from having listened to this work thus far and from listening to DAMN like so many times since it dropped. I don’t even know how many times I’ve listened to it.

As a fellow Gemini, I recognize several core elements of Lamar’s personality off the bat. I can tell a bit about who his musical influences are. I can tell he loves film and visual mediums. By now I’ve heard him use his voice to morph into numerous different characters and personalities which is a very Geminian trait; exploration of self through multitudinous expressions, experimentation, ease with adaptation and emphasis on the craft of storytelling.

I’m fascinated by his ability to use his many voices so purposefully, to not get lost or overwhelmed or scattered which is often one of my greatest challenges with expression. I mean, I’m sure he’s challenged by it but at the end of the day he puts something out that is cohesive, wildly original, unapologetic, alive, authentic and uncompromising. As Rubin says, you don’t have to agree with it to be able to respect it because you know it’s something he truly connects to. That alone is deeply inspiring to me.

The first song of Kendricks that caught my ear was “Hood Politics.” It was playing in a small Black owned Wine store in Harlem that I had wandered into with my friend Cece  one evening. I remember trying to make out the words in the hook so I could file it away mentally so that I could look it up again later. I feel like he did three or four distinctly different things on that track that morphed into one another in unexpected and not altogether cognitive ways. Similarly to the structure of some Bjork’s tracks, I was excitingly jarred by the disjointedness of it. I wanted to hear it again. I wanted to listen closer, take it apart, decode it, ponder his choices. It’s really rare that I feel like I hear something new, which is not to say that that I don’t hear anything I like and even love. But new?

Of course nothing is ever really new upon closer inspection. But fresh new interpretations of the old are definitely worth examining deeply because they often signal the beginning of new movements, a shifting of collective consciousness towards what it means to truly not give a fuck about oppressive establishments, governments, systems and regimes. It makes those of us seeking out definitions of freedom, perk up and take notice. Someone understands. Someone else feels similar. Someone else has made the leap of faith that comes with baring your soul at the risk of perceived failure. Though it seems impossible to me that being authentic and vulnerable could ever truly be met with failure. How can you fail when you’re being real?

Check out out Rubin’s interview with Kendrick here.

 

Pink Moon/Sacred Intimacy

“I saw it written and I saw it say,
a pink moon is on it’s way.
And none of you stand so tall.
A pink moon gonna get ye all…”
-Nick Drake
Rose Quartz
Rose Quartz from Chakra Zulu Crystals
I’ve never actually seen a Pink Moon in my life but I did receive a rose quartz palm stone yesterday evening on the first day of the Full Pink Moon in Libra which is said to represent focus on the blossoming of new and exciting things to come in the season. It represents a call to action in the spirit to make manifest, those wishes and dreams that have been germinating during the Winter. I felt the energy of the rose quartz very deeply as I held it in my hands and on my heart. It’s a smooth, good sized stone, with a good weight and it’s arrival in my life right now is very timely.
Things have been very intense for my husband and I in the last few weeks. We’re planning a short getaway this weekend for a change of scenery, some peace, quiet, to be closer to nature, to do some spiritual healing work.
The-Spirit-of-Intimacy
Speaking of Spirit, I strongly, deeply, adamantly recommend that everyone, Black people in particular, read “Intimacy of the Spirit” by Sobonfu Some. My partner in the Divine Feminine Movement shared it with me a while ago and it has really been a revelation for me on many levels. It has helped me to reflect on and indicate the ways in which intimacy has worked in my relationships, how much or how little respect I have for it and in which relationships. It has shed so much light on the huge role secrecy, shame and pain have in most all models of relationship here in America and in all Western societies. It’s not easy or fun to dig into the ways in which, perhaps I have taken advantage of, overlooked, dismissed, manipulated or mistreated intimacy in my life but this book is also really confirming for me, so much of the strong underlying feelings I’ve had about the nature of and the power of intimacy to effect, not only those in the a committed relationship with one another but also their family, friends, loved ones, community, society and the world at large.
The spirit of intimacy is the essence  of life. Ritualized reverence and honor of that spirit is sadly devoid in most of our lives, which is evident in high rates of divorce, violence, depression, unhappiness, fragmentation, isolation and a general sense of loss. And yet ritualistic behavior is inherent to us as human beings. We just participate in too many of the wrong rituals. Rituals that erode and diminish our health, spirit, self esteem and emotional well being are the ones we know too well. Speaking ill of ourselves, playing it small, not listening to our intuitions, self medication, overeating, mindless media consumption and more. We prioritize all of these things by way of distraction from core issues that would be easier to resolve if we were surrounded by a community, a trusted circle of peers, family, friends with specific roles to play in the maintenance and support of our chosen relationships with them.
My issues with trust, shame, pain and emotional stress are not isolated or unique. I learn that more and more as I become more honest with myself and others over time. There is a collective longing for connection in all of humanity that writhes constantly under the pressure of oppressive dictates and authorities which seeks to pervert and suppress vulnerability and authenticity and truth in exchange for mere power.
The longing for connection always wins out, even if the way in which it is manifested is often disturbing and destructive. In learning about the sacredness of intimacy, the ways in which it requires constant nurturing, I am learning the ways in which this kind of long term suffering may be nipped in the bud, weeded out, eliminated from the process of living out our purpose. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about the far reaching generational trauma of it all, but I know at the very least I need to start with me.
That’s not a small thing.