Blk Coffy Posts

November 10, 2018

The words poured from above my head as I searched around Save-A-Lot for some pasta sauce. There were children galloping in and out the aisles, while a middle-aged woman pushed a cart behind them screaming curse words. Near the produce section, I could hear a high-pitched voice of another woman bickering with an older man about the prices on fruits and vegetables being too high. And around the corner in the cereal aisle, a younger woman with thick box-braids groaned and smacked her lips so loud it sounded like a hand clap. She stood slumped over holding her iPhone in both hands. I could read the aggravation in her snare nostrils and eye-rolling that she wasn’t happy with whomever was on the other side of that screen. My eyes began to toss through the shelves like  policemen frisking a black brotha in a Benz. Meanwhile, I hear Aretha Franklin’s heroic voice pierce louder as I reach the end aisle, “cause you make me feel, you make me feel like a natural woman”.

Her words landed below my chest sinking deep within my gut. For a moment, I began to feel a little melancholy. I was never a die heart fan but losing one of our strongest sista’s in the game was heart breaking. Then as quickly as I drifted into grief, I was interrupted by the young mother shouting, “didn’t I tell yo’ stupid ass to grab the fuck’n cart.” I turned my head the other direction to spare the little girl from embarrassment. I continued down another random aisle, and there beside a can of spaghettios was the pasta sauce. Finally, as I approached the one and only line at check-out, I could still hear the angelic words of Franklin’s. I began to look at all the women in the store, some of their faces hung low or twisted with a scowl. None of their spirits reflected the sweet words of feeling loved, not even mine.

I returned home to listen to Franklin’s song again. I couldn’t help to think if other women of color ever felt as loved as Franklin did. For myself, I never knew what being in love looked like on a woman. I wondered would it resemble Stella, when she got her groove back or would it sing the blues like Love Jones? Unfortunately, neither had been familiar to me. I thought about all the faces of the women in my family and each one cried a different song. Most of them painted on smiles to keep folks believing that their roses smelled as lovely as they appeared. While others-built walls to protect themselves from being hurt. I took a vow to never become neither. And yet, I’m still broken. There I was standing in a long line of women who in some way was disappointed by love. Whether it was early childhood, young adult, middle-aged; we all had welcome people inside our homes, who didn’t deserve to be.

I began to stir the pasta sauce in a slow rotating motion as the men from my past circled around my mind. I thought about each relationship, situationship, and booty-call thoroughly. I peeled back pages of tangled words that contradicted actions as well as unresolved endings that left me wanting more. I realized I was drawn to men that didn’t know how to love. And still, most of them knew what to say to keep my nose open and my pants around my ankles. I read into their phone calls, good morning texts, Netflix and chill pop-ups as if it solidified us being in a relationship. While on the contrary, I ignored the disappearing acts, unanswered texts messages which lasted for days, and emotional roller-coaster rides that led me to blaming myself for not being enough.

As my pasta grew cold, I sat starring off into space reflecting on my first experience with love as a child. I flipped through old scenarios of my mother and father relationship then my relationship with them individually. I remember my mother wanting to have a family, while my dad was hungry for the streets. The constant give and take soon overwhelmed my mother, she would pack up our things and leave like a thief in the night. Then my father would come back around sniffing like a hound at our doorstep, howling and scratching for us to open our door to let him inside. My mother’s desire to want a family convinced her every time to soften for him. Once he felt he had us where he wanted us, we would go through this cycle all over again.

My father, the first man I loved, hurt me. Even though, we had many adventures of visiting museums, cheering at baseball games, ordering deep dish pizza and watching scary movies on Friday nights, he was still missing in a delicate part of my life. He knew to work hard until his hands felt numb and his belly was full. However, he did not know how to love. There wasn’t any tenderness that cushioned his hugs nor did his words bring ease. Every day, he would come home wearing his shoulders slightly hunched, face frowned and his walk hard. His greetings were as stale as old bread, and I knew not to expect more or less from him in our daily passing’s. He was just existing with us like a half-dead house plant. This guard he had wedge between us pour down inside me like a never-ending rainstorm in April. From there, those emotions settled like fresh soil then sprouted into an underline resentment towards men. I had been looking for a love I had never received from my father in every man I had been with. I was spinning on a merry go’ round of the same man and I didn’t know how to stop the ride.

A cold breeze had snuck inside raising the hairs on my arm. I had been day dreaming for almost a hour, with a half- eaten bowl pasta waiting on me. I realized there will never be a man to make me feel like a natural woman. Although, the idea of it seemed fulfilling. I knew it took more than just having a man present in my life to feel whole. If there was any way this carnival ride was going to end, I would have to peel back my unhealed parts I had normalized as a child and rebuild myself for myself. I decided to take the pasta out of its misery and dumped it in the trash. And with it, followed the pain of my past. I realized my father did the best he could with what he had been given. I knew I would have to forgive him as well as all of the men that had taken his place. And that was going to take time..

September 3, 2018

February 4, 2018

We used our hands for union. We would pray, nurture as well as love through the darkness of our hands. Amongst the brokenness, lied a tender softness that communicated some sense of understanding. In particular, a mother gently patting the face of a sick child to determine sickness or a tight squeeze to the hand during prayer to acknowledge the next persons suffering allowed us to see ourselves in the eyes of someone else. It was in these moments of sharing that connected us to spirit. In the south, black folks had found Earth to be that sense of communion. They’re hands were used to plant seeds in fruitful gardens as well as their fingers gently mending tears in old clothing. There was life in old men hiking down to the creek for fishing while children ran around bare foot immersing their toes in the red clay-like soil. Dwelling within nature had given black life a rich dark sweetness that was long and life affirming.

My father, a rooted southern man, grew up in a small town in Louisiana called Franklinton. I could tell by the way he laughed at his own stories that ‘down south’ was more than a small town but a place that molded him. He would speak slowly, while his hands gestured different characters moving in and out of the plot, then he would pause letting his eyes daze off into a memory. Then suddenly, I’ll hear his laugh make a crackling noise until his whole body was sent into pure joy. As a young girl, we would take road trips down from Chicago to visit my grandmother, Faye. I remember being fascinated by its long winding roads surrounded with towering pine trees that seem to never end if you tilted your head back just enough to peer into the sky.

The sweet smell of warm rainfall against burning wood would greet me with open arms as soon as we crossed the Louisiana state line. I would ride along allowing my senses lure me into nostalgia, as my memories of the south became a place where I called home. The smiles, tipping of the hat or the silent waving of the arm as we passed by expressed a love I wasn’t familiar with in the north. There were no blank faces, cold shoulders or clutching of the belongings like life had been for us up north. I had observed an intimacy in the south, where black folks made an effort to care for each other as well as themselves. Everyone’s home was mine as much as it was theirs, as soon as you’d walk in they’ll say something like, “C’mon have something to eat, I jus’ got done cook’n around this messy kitchen,” as they scuffle around making room for you a seat. In their homes, you can see they didn’t care to prepare for guests or make things tidy before someone came for a visit. It was a down home feeling of comfortability, which made the experience even more cozy.

As children, we were safe to wonder through weepy willows, skipping our bare feet over red ant hills then laughing hysterically at literally nothing at all. Then once the sun would set within the horizon, we would race each other all the way to my grandmother’s house until we were out of breath. Grandma Faye’s house would be filled with drunk uncles, aunties making us plates of food, cigarette smoke, with aside of shit talking. The screen door would screech open as my dad would walk in from a day of fishing, his hands would be blacker than they had been before he left, which provided us with living proof of his day’s work. Once it was time to eat, we would all hold hands sharing not only a silence in prayer but a sweet dark communion of love. On our journey’s back to the north, I would take with me a richness I had seen in southern black folks. To me, they will always be as sweet as molasses.

November 20, 2017

The simple phrase, “I’m tired”, was more familiar to me than my own two feet. I had watched these words seep through the lips of my grandmother, my mother and now it was mine to own. I was taught that in order to be a strong black woman I had to sacrifice self. Meaning, it was my responsibility as a black woman to take care of others even if it meant compromising my own sanity in the process. For years, I witness black women carry children, husbands, sisters, brothers as well as three generations of family on their bare backs as a token of pride. Yet, I’ve also seen this type of strength drain the spirits of those same women, which usually left them bound to either health issues or internalized pain. My grandmother, a black woman of 7 children, 24 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren told stories about how she would sacrifice her own nourishment to feed all 7 of her children. “I always made sure my kids ate before I did, I’d eat a piece of bread or something to hold me over till my night shift,” she’ll say. I remember hearing stories about her husband, my grandfather, spilling slurred words from his drunken mouth, while my grandmother took up for his slack. My mother would joke about her and her siblings wrapping their daddy’s arms around their neck as crutch while he walked tangle-legged down the street. “He had a good heart but he drank like a fish,” my mother would say.

In a black household, it was normal to see either big mamas, aunties, sisters or mothers wear multiple hats at once. Even with men in the home, there was an obligation for black women to work, cook, clean, teach, nurse and be all what we needed them to be. I used to sit and watch the women in my family pour all of themselves into the mouths of others until their hands fell numb and her feet swelled like balloons. And yet, most of them took exhaustion like a cool glass of water as if it was a black woman’s responsibility to be overworked. As a child, back then I never understood the reason why black women in my family would overwork themselves to the point that their bodies would cry. It didn’t dawn on me until I was greeted with womanhood that we as black women don’t have a community to make us aware of our own stress levels.

My mother, a single woman raising a child on mediocre income, sacrificed everything within her to ensure that I had some level of comfort. I can recall times where she could’ve went out to celebrate life in the clubs, but she would stay home to listen to me read, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, out loud in our small two-bedroom apartment. Although she wouldn’t trade those moments for the world, I knew there were times she wished she had someone to wipe the tears and tell her it’s going to be alright. I use to pray for happiness to show up at our door step. I would wish for Prince Charming to knock at our door holding glass slipper or awaiting with a horse and carriage to make everything worthwhile like in fairytales. Yet, no one appeared. There wasn’t a soul who voiced concern about my mother’s well-being. As a matter of fact, most of black women within her reach seemed overwhelmed by either career’s, relationships, family or livelihood which made stress seem normal.

The black women I’ve grown to know all of my life lacked the ability of knowing when to let go. With that in mind, many of us like myself for instance developed this tight grip on pain believing if I carried it along with me it’ll prove my worthiness. I had grown to admire my mother’s ability take ahold of adversity with her bare hands. I wanted to be the woman that held it all together when all hell broke loose or the woman who didn’t need a man because I can do it on my own. I thought I needed struggle to define my womanhood but I later found out it was just a thorn in my back. I was crying the blues because it was all I knew. The familiarity with grief in our community has been our source of power. Yet, we overlook the damage it is causing our women for the sake of our own fulfillment. Our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunties will always be there to care for us when everything else fails. However, will there ever be a time when black women will know peace? Or will they be just another black woman sing’n the blues?

October 29, 2017

October 22, 2017

October 1, 2017

September 20, 2017

September 8, 2017

I prayed for it to all be over. I flinched every time the hair grease on my scalp would sizzle like a frying pan from the hot comb straightening my kinks and coils. “Be still and hold your ear,” my mother demanded. I would be shaking like a leaf, while my little finger-tips held onto my ear for dear life. I knew any sudden movement would lead me and my mother into the kitchen rubbing butter on the edges of my ear to lessen the burn. I hated hearing her infamous phrase, “Girl you got some nappy hair,” as she would pry through my cotton-like texture. I would sit watching her through one of those double-sided mirrors that flipped and flopped every time I danced my fingers around its edges. I could see the tightness in the seam of her lips, as well as the raise in her eyebrow. Every black child knew this look and what it meant. I knew my hair had drawn my mother’s patience down to a thread and that I better not fix my lips to complain about any pain. So, I sat in silence holding back the tears wishing I wasn’t born with nappy-hair.

The time shared between my mother and I had evolved into applying relaxers to my hair while chit-chatting about the birds and the bee’s. Then as time moved passed, in college our moments of hair combing became a request, since her duties as my personal hairstylist had grown with age. “Ma, when is the next time you can give me a touch-up?” I would ask impatiently. Her response would usually be mere laugh to herself knowing it was a damn shame that her daughter could not manage her own hair to save her life.

As I became a young adult, my hair became my total responsibility. I would stand in the mirror reliving my mother’s frustration as I pried through my own swelled roots. It was natural to me to pull, fry, and stress my hair until it fell lifeless. The scaly chemical burns, dead-ends, and thin edges didn’t matter because my goal was to achieve an image that wouldn’t classify me as nappy-headed. Straight-hair was what I wanted and it was what I got. I would wear my wispy hair right above my shoulders, blending layers of limp curls with frizzy ends. The temporary straightness made me appear polished; I felt good about how I looked. I could comb through down to the scalp without any wincing or rolling of the eyes. Finally, my hair was manageable, convenient, and most of all tamed – at least, so I thought.

My roots would grow faster than fresh cut grass, sprouting the ends of my hair in various directions. It had been a month since my last relaxer, which usually meant it was time for another one. The texture of my hair had took a turn for the worst, the dry, uneven, brittle hair I had left on my head was straight but damaged. For years, straight-hair was something I wanted but I could see it beginning to starve an essential part of who I was. I had grown this obsession of having to have straight-hair because it disguised the unloved parts of my blackness. It had been the band-aid to the humiliation I would feel in the care of my mother, which I thought would heal and never show itself again. It didn’t matter what lengths I would go to conceal the coiled curls, and knots, I had to face that I was black.

September 1, 2017

A celebration of blackness colored Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, New York this past weekend. An array of vibrant street-styles and brown beautiful people came out to spread a message of; “No sexism, No homophobia, No hate, No fear.” Through music, art, dance, smiles, and elaborate fashion stood a powerful presence that broke down barriers within the black community. We were allowed to be unapologetically BLACK.