Resentment is Exhausting…Seriously…

I don’t know who first said, “Resentment is like setting yourself on fire waiting for the other person to burn must have had a lifetime,” but I sure would like to give them a big ole’ hug for the warning.

Resentment is truly one of the most exhausting activities I’ve ever participated in and the payoff is worse! I tried to feel angry at someone today who I have resented for a long time.  However, instead of boiling blood, a racing heart, a narrow brow and reenacting the situation that sent me into the funnel of anger in the first place, I just felt…tired.  The thought of trying to muster up the anger only made it more difficult for me to focus what I was working on.

I just secured a contract for my newly formed company, I have a couple of other contracts in the works, I have to finish memorizing lines for the next “One Chick Army” show, I have to pack up my house.  I have so many things to do that this troll of a thought popping up in my head was just bad timing.

Yet, lately, I’ve noticed, it’s always bad timing.  I am really tired of being angry, hating, waiting for karma to right a wrong.  I realized what I wanted more than anything is acceptance of what is and release.  I am no longer interesting in knowing the latest shot that was fired or the latest lie that was told.  Nor am I interested in avoiding going certain places so I don’t run into them.

Many books and songs have been written about the benefits of forgiveness.  Maybe I’ll write one too and include how much energy I have when I don’t focus on Who Done Me Wrong.

The Day You Raise Your Hand to Me

 

I never really considered myself a victim of domestic violence since I was only attacked once.  I learned a while later that once is all that it takes.  And although I was only attacked once, I was threatened several times and that was just as frightening.  I still don’t really consider myself a victim, I don’t like that word.  A lot of women don’t.  Was I victimized? Yes.  Am I a victim?  No.

And this isn’t a fist pumping “I-Shall-Rise” type of proclamation.  I’ve just seen what claiming victim-hood can look like at its worst.  It makes people Life’s bitch.  I’m not interested.

However, it did take me a good while to even admit all of what happened to even my closest family.  The first time I ever wrote about what happened to me on my old blog, I quickly deleted it.  I wasn’t ready.

“I don’t want anyone to think I am trying to destroy lives or bring up old stuff,” I confessed to my sisters. “I just want to tell my story.”

“Then tell your story,” they both said almost in unison.  Did I really want to tell this part of my life that left such a stain?  True, I have healed and moved on, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having flashbacks.  The amazing amount of rejection and desperation I felt during that time is still hard to believe.

Sometimes, I wonder if that moment in my life hardened me, made it more difficult for me to love.  Then I look at my boyfriend of close to three years and I remember that I learned how to love again.  Sometimes, I still feel afraid, I still can shut down, I still can project and over-analyze.  But I know that I am loved and I have learned to be patient and forgive myself, which is a constant process.

And weird as it seems, I don’t regret what happened to an extent.  I don’t regret the relationship.  If I have any regrets, it’s the time I wasted trying to save someone from themselves, the time I lost with my own dreams and goals.

I hope my story inspires others to seek help, learn how to protect themselves and more than anything know that love is never ever supposed to hurt.

Fat Shamers – I’m Not Skinny and I Like My Body, Now What?

I was fooled.  I thought that since body shaming had been brought to the mainstream and awareness was being brought to the negative impact it has on people, especially girls and women, society had “woken up” and the practice was no longer publicly acceptable.  However, when I posted an article about body/fat shaming on a message board, the responses I received were shocking and heartbreaking.  The debates I’ve seen on television justifying why encouraging someone to be repulsed by who they are, repulsed me.

The usual, “fat”, “lazy”, “gross” adjectives are always laced in arguments, all stamped with standard public service announcement of being overweight is just plain “unhealthy.”  Well, so is smoking, excessive drinking, smoking crack, emotionally abusing someone, overworking, binge watching Netflix shows, chronic procrastination, however, I never see these topics debated as passionately as weight.

I’ve never seen a before and after photo of a celebrity who entered rehab with the caption “How They Did It.”  I’ve never read tweets or social media comments in general attacking a star who smokes cigarettes.  Alcoholism is still responsible for more deaths than any of other abusive habit, but I seldom hear public service announcements on the radio urging people to stop drinking so that they can live longer. So, why does body shaming get a pass?

What is shame?  Clinical psychologist Gershen Kaufman wrote “Shame is the most disturbing experience individuals ever have about themselves; no other emotion feels more deeply disturbing because in the moment of shame the self feels wounded from within.”  Of course, there are times that shame is justified.  When a person has acted in a way that has harmed another, shame is an appropriate emotion that lets the person and others know that they are aware and regretful of their behavior.  However, that is shame directed at a behavior, not at the person.

The difference between that and fat shaming is the latter type is directed at who someone is.  It is toxic, paralyzing meant only to do the worst type of harm. And while it can sometimes work to motivate weight loss, it works for the wrong reasons.

For example, much my motivation for wanting to lose weight has come from wanting to not lose out on parts when I go out for auditions.  I am an actress, so weight is a huge issue my industry. One would think that the opportunity to audition for more roles would be motivation enough to help me lose the weight and keep it off.  However, it hasn’t been because I didn’t count for one little caveat – life.

My life is more than acting and film-making.  Currently, I am not doing much of either because I have a job that absorbs most of my time, I have a dog who just had her third surgery and now I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to pay for it.  I am trying to raise money for a slate of digital television series and keep hitting brick walls.  I have family members who have medical conditions who need me. All of these obstacles bring on a lot fatigue and sadness and made it much more inviting to reach for the doughnut instead of the apple.

Although I have successfully lost over 50 pounds and have kept it off for over three years through practicing martial arts and working out, based on the current definition of The Body Shamers, I would still be considered fat.  I am still considered lazy, although I work almost twelve to sixteen hours a day with my job and on my own projects when I leave work. I am still considered gross by some because I’ve got some extra cushion in my mid section.

They don’t see how often I work out or the muscle definition I’ve developed and maintained, they don’t see how quickly I can take someone down in my martial arts class, they don’t even see how passionate I am about my crafts of acting, writing and producing.  All they see is that I don’t look like them.  Let me rephrase that, because many Fat-Shamers are obese and highly imperfect themselves – All they see is that I don’t look like the traditional standards of beauty.  And for that reason, they want to punish me and ultimately want me to hate myself.

This is what inspired me to write “An Open Letter to My Body (The Audacity of Fantasy)”.  It is my story that I believe other people, especially women, will be able to relate to and encourage them to adopt the spirit of Monique, Queen Latifah,  Jill Scott and hashtag queen herself Tess Holliday, in saying, “Eff your beauty standards!”

“An Open Letter to My Body (The Audacity of My Fantasy” premieres Monday, November 23, 2015. Sign up for the “One Chick Army” newsletter to have it emailed to you.

Viola Davis Emmy Win: Why It is So Much Bigger Than Her…

Watching Viola Davis take home the Emmy for best lead actress in a drama series for “How to Get Away with Murder” was divine intervention.  My Sunday did not start off so well. I received news that my grandfather is in critical condition in the hospital and on top of that, I have been stressed out about money, work and money (did I already write money?).  Today, all I kept thinking was, “How did I get here? This was not the plan.”  However, listening to Davis’ gracious and unapologetic speech was a serious adrenaline rush and a reminder of why I was doing all of this.

Since I first stepped on stage at five years old, there were two things I knew I wanted to do more than anything – write and perform. From competing and winning state championships to performing in regional plays, acting is something I’ve always enjoyed.  However, something happened along the way.  As I got older, I noticed that most of the actresses I was inspired by did not look like me.  As a child, of course, this did not matter.  I thought watching Emma Thompson in “Sense and Sensibility”, Barbara Streisand in “The Way We Were”, Meryl Streep in “Kramer vs. Kramer” or Diane Keaton in “The Godfather II” and saying, “I can do that,” meant that it was a done deal.

Read more Viola Davis Emmy Win: Why It is So Much Bigger Than Her…

One Chick Army – Why It Left…Why It’s Coming Back!

Hey there my Free thinking Comrades! I know! I know!  It’s been a while.  And I bet you are wondering what exactly happened with the “One Chick Army” show (at least I hope you are wondering). Honestly, it wasn’t just one thing.  In the last year, my job has become much more demanding and I had to seriously re-evaluate the direction I wanted to go with my life, my career and this show.  In addition, I was not prepared for the popularity or the outpouring support that “One Chick Army” was going to receive.  It has been a fun journey, but I found myself trying to “keep up with the Joneses” instead of doing the show the way I really wanted to do it. So I had to revamp.

I have recently made some major decisions in my life that I will be announcing soon but first I want you to know that “One Chick Army” is back with a slightly different angle.  I really enjoy commentary, however, my passion lies in performance and I wanted to find a way to combine the two.

I am an actress, filmmaker, writer, director, and avid pickle-juice drinker who wanted to combine all of my talents for this show.   Thankfully, I figured out a way to do that.  Some of my hard-core fans remember the short-lived show I produced called, “The People Inside My Head.”  It was a show where I combined performance, spoken word and commentary and it started to catch on.

Unfortunately,  coming up with concepts every week, committing them to memory and then performing them became very grueling and time-consuming.  I needed to find another way.  After my Kickstarter campaign for the web series, “The Confession of a Witch Bitch” failed to meet its goal, I knew I needed to revisit growing my audience in a way that worked with my schedule and was able to show my talents and “One Chick Army” was born.  This show really seemed to connect with people more than anything else I’ve done outside of “Tricks.” but once again, as previously mentioned, life and work got in the way.

So I knew I had to think of strategy that would A) Work with my schedule and B) Allow me to show what I could do while staying connected to my supporters.  So the new “One Chick Army” was born and will be debuting soon.  It is a fusion of “mono-rhymes” (spoken word combined with monologues) and commentary.  The new version will be offered in seasons and if you still want more “One Chick Army”, the blog will offer additional content on pop culture, my life, entrepreneurship, emotional literacy and relationships. So be sure to sign up!

I want to thank everyone for supporting me.  “One Chick Army” is only the beginning.  See you soon!

Over and out!

– DeAara

5 Top Rap Songs No Woman Should Like…But We Do…

scroll-video-2We’ve all been there. You hear a hot song on the radio, blast it, sing it and then one day, you realize the lyrics are completely disrespectful or reckless. You still want to like the song, but you don’t want to be seen as not down for the cause. I can’t tell you what to do get your self-respect back, but I hope you find comfort in knowing that you are NOT alone!

Hope you dug the video. If you haven’t watched it yet, check it out above. And as promised, below is my EXTENDED LIST of rap songs that I probably really shouldn’t like.

6. Tupac “I Get Around” – I reeaaallly like this song! I knew all the lyrics within a day of first hearing it and whenever I hear it on the radio or when I am out somewhere, I still rap it as proudly as I did then. Since I was a kid when it first came out, I didn’t pay the lyrics much attention, but after I grew up and experienced a few heartbreaks, I realized the lyrics are actually a warning about what dudes can and often do. The song is actually really fucking insensitive, but I am spitting the lyrics as I type this post. Oh, the hypocrisy!

7. N.W.A. “She Swallowed It” – It’s the world’s biggest dick, don’t matter just don’t bite it! Alex can I get “Pure Misogyny for $500”? I was in the 6th grade when I first heard this song. One of my classmates snuck a radio in recess and played it for the rest of us. I had never heard music that explicit before (I was a sheltered child) and to hear a woman actually performing fellatio on a song (you can’t tell me it wasn’t real!) really intrigued me. And after hearing “Aunt Esther” talking about the size of dicks, I never watched “Sanford and Son” the same.

8. T.I./Young Thug “If it Ain’t About the Money” – I think I can give T.I. a run for his money on rapping this song. Most of 88 million plays on Youtube probably came from me, that’s how much I dig it. I am not a huge Young Thug fan, but he is a beast on this hook. Since I am still green in trap music, I had to look up the lyrics to see what the hell Young Thug was talking about and was quite shocked at how much of a story he was telling with few words. I wonder how those other cats figured that damn song out.

9. Nicki Minaj “Lookin’ Ass Nigga” – I don’t even think I hate that I like this song. I just like it. I like how it comes on, what she is saying, how she is saying it and even the controversy that it caused. The only thing I really understood some people having a problem with was her choice of putting Malcolm X on the cover of the record. I always thought it would have been more powerful had she imitated the photo of Malcolm X looking out the window with a gun. Nicki, I hope you can consider that or else I am going to take the idea 😉

10. Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Wayne “Truffle Butter” – Just look up what truffle butter really is, it would probably be tough to listen to this song without blushing or becoming absolutely grossed out.

11. Lil Wayne “Gonorrhea” – I first heard this song on Pandora while at the gym and got completely lost in it. Does it need any further explanation?  I like how Lil Wayne used the word in this song to remind folks how toxic people are really a lot like STD’s – contagious if you aren’t careful.

12. Jay Z “Big Pimpin” – I mean, he pretty much tells you what his intentions are in the song. He will fuck, then leave. I guess it took a Bad B, like Bey to tame that beast inside.

13. Project Pat “Gorilla Pimp” – Folks who are not from the south may not know this one, but it was a big regional hit back in the day. The bluesy hook makes the song and if you aren’t careful, you will find yourself in the same situation I did, rapping some lyrics talking about getting beat up at the job for talking shit to a “pimp.” So now when that part comes on, I just skip over it…most of the time.

14. Three Six Mafia “Late Night Tip” – Another old-school southern favorite. The Academy Award Winners sampled Lisa Fischer’s soulful, “How Can I Ease the Pain” and you find can yourself quickly drawn to the staccato chant, “I’m not the type to get involved in long relationships; taking trips and buying gifts, I’m sorry I’m not on that tip.” It’s a pretty low down song if you really listen it. However, once again, at least they are upfront about their intentions.

15. Future, Pharrell Williams, Pusha T “Move That Dope” – This track is just fucking bumpin. Pharrell has been at the top of his production game for the past few years, even with the setbacks. And he really shows his versatility of being able to go from universal feel-good “Happy” to hood nod, “Move That Dope.” It’s still a quite disturbing song lyrically, but maybe I can make “dope”  mean something else metaphorically. Hey singers lie about the meaning of their songs all the time.

What rap songs do you hate that you like? Leave a comment in the comment section below!

Light Skin vs. Dark Skin? What About Me? (A “Peanut Butter” Chick’s Story)

(Part II of “Kendrick Lamar’s Fiance is Light-Skinned. SO WHAT?!!)

“Teach me how to flirt.”  I awkwardly asked my best friend.  That had to be it.  That had to be what it was, why I felt like the twin sister of the “Invisible Man” when she and I went out together.  “Um, okay.  You just make eye contact,” she responded as she continued applying her make up.

“What if I do that and they don’t look back or worse, look away?”  I asked anxiously.  My BFF stopped and thought for a moment and then said, “I’ve never had that happen.”  Well, shit!

And that was my introduction into the socially awkward world of clubbing and dating.  I didn’t start really clubbing until after I graduated high school.  I was a geek in every way and although I wilded out in the privacy of my home, I just couldn’t bring myself to show that part of me in school.  Too many eyes.  Too many expectations.  I was senior class president, vice-president of the drama club, three time state champion in the Speech and Drama competitions. Voted Most Talented, Most Likely To Succeed and Most School Spirit.  If there was a club, I was in it.  If there was a cause, I was for it.

I eventually did find love my senior year.  He was my first real boyfriend, my first real everything, so many of my worries about male attention were eased for a year and a half.  Then we broke up.  One of the worst times of my life and that’s when my best friend and I immersed ourselves in the club scene.

Did I mention I was a geek?  I didn’t know many of the social rules.  I thought if I went to the club, looked pretty, danced, had a good time, then some guy would naturally be drawn to my energy.  And I really did have a good time.  I love to dance.  Even to this day, when I go dancing, it takes me to another place, it is truly my escape.  That’s the one place I don’t care who sees me or what they think, it is my get away.

But no matter how many times we went out (and we went out often), the guys always flocked to her, not me.  I became extremely self-conscious.  And although I still loved going out with her, I had to prepare a script to tell myself why this guy who I thought was fine, chose her instead.  Don’t get me wrong, my best friend is beautiful and deserves all the attention she received, but damn, so was I, so what was I doing wrong?

That questioned was answered for me one night I went out with another good friend of mine.  He was interested in getting into exotic dancing (no joke and has become quite successful since that time). We decided to go clubbing so he could practice some of his dance moves.  He had already demonstrated some of the moves at my house unknowingly witnessed by my then six year old nephew who immediately changed into his underwear, cowboy boots and proceeded to grind on the  dining room wall.  Yeah, that happened. But I digress.

That night changed my entire perception about my guy magnet dilemma.  The club we went to had separate rooms with different types of music, so I found myself in one room and my friend found himself drawn to another.  Like always, when the music started, I completely got lost in it.  However, this time, something odd happened, at least for me.  Guys were flocking to me?  In droves.  I hadn’t drastically changed anything about my appearance and could not figure out what was going on.

Then it happened.  Two beautiful, very fair-skinned women walked into the club and the attention shifted.  I was in disbelief. It started analyzing.  Surely the reason I hadn’t gotten action at the club couldn’t be because my best friend was lighter than me, surely that couldn’t be it.  I flashed back to a conversation we once had where she revealed what she believed her strongest asset was when it came to attracting guys – her skin color.  However, she didn’t say that proudly, more so with a hint of sadness in her voice and I didn’t understand why I picked up on that then.  Looking back, I think what was behind that was, “There is so much more to me.”

After I came to accept that at the Memphis,TN clubs, light skin rules, I stopped trying so hard when we went out.  Of course, it still would sting when a guy would approach her, she not be interested and he then finally “notice” me afterwards.  I developed a firm diss rule when that would happen.  I’m not a fallback bitch.

That was in my early twenties and was a very confusing time.  My first love and I had broken up, but were still going back and forth with one another.  I was in college, working as a part-time teller while performing in plays.  And more than anything, I was trying to find myself.  In some ways, those who fall into the strict definitions of “light skin” and “dark skin” have it easier.  Most men have a specific preference, so there is not a lot of back-and-forth about it. However, the peanut butters, like myself, get confused as to where we fit into the debate.  I am not a red-bone (although I’ve been called that but was quickly corrected by a “true red-bone”) and I am not the deep cocoa brown color that is often associated with the motherland.

I have heard the worst said about both sides.  I have participated in the bashing when I felt slighted, insecure and those are definitely thoughtless moments of my life in which I am not proud.

And looking back, perhaps some of reasons I didn’t have much luck was really due to my flirting. I sucked at it.  Perhaps I felt so intimidated by my BFF’s confidence when it came to pulling guys that my confidence completely dwarfed in her presence.  I know many women of all shades who have no problem pulling guys because they know they have it going on.

Through a lot of self-discovery, I released the invitation to be seen and evaluated by such shallow measures.

Yet, when I hear songs with silly ass phrases like, “I want a red-bone girl” as if that is the utopia of existence or receive a flyer from a club promoter captioned “Light Skin vs. Dark Skin” or when some pro-black guy tells me I am too light and act “too white”, I am reminded that colorism is a real and unfortuante phoenmen .  Some folks call it color struck. And many proudly proclaim their preference as if it is a score board around somewhere. And everybody has the right to their preference about melanin, nothing wrong that.  Then again, maybe everything is wrong with that.

 

Seriously, Why is Wearing the Same Outfit Twice (or Thrice) in a Row a Bad Thing?

Yesterday I found myself pulled in a heated debate about clothes. I chose to wear the same outfit that I wore on Saturday for Sunday because, well, I liked it and giving my incredibly busy schedule, it was the one thing I did not have to think about. The outfit was clean and appropriate for the occasion, yet I was told that it was not cool to wear the same clothes consecutively.

This person and I found middle ground on the issue, probably with both of us still in our shit about it but it really got me to thinking – what is so wrong with wearing the same outfit two or three days in a row if it is clean and you don’t see the same people?

When I asked this question, the only answer I got was,”It is not cool,” later followed up with because I was too beautiful to do so. Both answers seemed very ambiguous and I honestly think it had more to do with fear of how I would be perceived by others.

American culture is one of the most superficial. Celebrities make headlines if they wear the same outfit twice, an analytical article is written about the state of their mental health if it is more times than that.

The rules I grew up with was as long as the same people didn’t see the outfit and it was clean, it was okay to wear it a consecutive day. However, why is that rule? What does it mean if a person chooses to wear the same outfit every single day as long as it is clean?

I know, some of y’all are probably giving me major side-eye, but hear me out. Of course, there are some, a lot of women who love clothes and fashion. It is basically a religion, so wearing the same outfit more than once could probably be considered blasphemy. However, what about the rest of us? Folks like me who are putting 60+ hours a week and barely have time to sleep. Is it so bad if I choose to wear the same outfit more than once in a short period of time?

What does it mean? I’ll tell you what it means…nothing. Absolutely nothing. Only that, that is what I wanted to do. If any assumptions, beliefs or judgements are formed about me because of this very common practice, that says more about the person doing the judging than it does about me.

However, in the moment, it doesn’t feel that way. Y’all know it goes. We can give these speeches all day about why other people’s opinions don’t matter…except, they do. At least initially, otherwise, there wouldn’t be a speech necessary to give. And I think that’s how I felt in that moment when I was “scolded” for choosing to wear the same outfit a second (and possibly a third) time in a row. I felt the need to give the “Your opinion does not matter,” speech.

Later, this person did apologize. I’m sure how they see the world and their customs are just as fundamental as my commitment to challenge them. It is not easy choosing to be a free agent in this life. It seems that people are often pulling at me to define myself by their standards. I am not innocent of this.

As my grandmother once said, “I am consistently inconsistent.” We are all paradoxical at heart and more than that, we are human. We have all customs, attitudes and beliefs drilled into us from the very moment we take our first breath.

So even though I was extremely triggered yesterday by this very trivial, yet very much needed incident, it actually provided an opportunity for me to look at certain beliefs and customs I have and ask myself, “Is this belief or value truly serving me? Or do I just practice it because I was told I was supposed to and fear the social stigmatization if I don’t?”

So what are your thoughts on this? Do you think it is “low class” to wear the same outfit two or three days in a row?