In today's social media based society, everyone seems to be living the perfect life. Everyone's morning lattes have hearts on them; every newborn baby is happy, healthy, and easy to take care of; every relationship is without conflict; and every marriage proposal is like a scene from a movie. I don't wish to paint my life that way because we all struggle, and to slide struggle under the rug is a detriment to us all. When we don't talk about what hurts us, those emotional pains manifest as physical ones, and the next thing you know, a bitch has cancer. So this is me venting some real shit...to avoid cancer. If I am alone in these struggles, fuck my life...but if you share my pain, I hope it feels better to know you are not alone...
Being Black and having lighter skin is a struggle. I know my history. I read about it. My ancestors were the slaves that built this country. They were beaten, raped, underpaid, and denied basic human rights...and that continued long after slavery was abolished (to like...today). Those traumas are built into my DNA to the point where I am far more afraid of the White men in suits I see everyday than I ever am of a Black kid in a hoodie. I fear being in a room full of only White people...I fear being the token. I fear neighborhoods with American flags waving outside every home. I fear Whiteness for its power and what it represents. But apparently this is all an internal struggle, because people who meet me are always confused about my ethnicity. The color of my skin reminds others of my European ancestry, while my whole life I've been ashamed of it. I only know one side of my history: the Black side with roots in the Motherland. The rapists responsible for my skin color are not people I know and love, and as a result, I'm deeply offended when my history is whited out through comments designed to diminish my Blackness. What the fuck is good hair? And why do you care what else I'm mixed with if I just told you I'm Black? Also, speaking proper English does not mean I'm trying to be White; it means I'm trying to be understood. I understand that light skin privilege is a thing and people treat me differently because, they feel, I'm not "as black" as other black people...I'm diluted a little, and this eases many White people--to the point where they make racist comments around me or ask me questions like: Is Harlem safe? This is infuriating primarily because how safe you feel around Black bodies is determined by your own biases. And for the record I feel safer in Harlem than in any other neighborhood of Manhattan. But I digress... the point is, I'm Black, and I'm proud of what that entails. Don't "other" me. But if you ask nicely, you are totally allowed to touch my hair.
Being a performer AND an introvert is a struggle. I'm center of attention and star of the show when I'm singing my songs. But if I'm not singing, you can probably find me hiding in a corner like a crab between rocks. Attention oddly makes me feel uncomfortable. I want to be noticed but go unnoticed at the same fucking time. I'm shy, but I'm not shy on stage. I'm myself on stage. Spreading music is therapy and self expression--connection...it's manifesting love... Networking after a show, however, gives me slight anxiety. I don't enjoy talking about myself to others. I feel like music speaks for itself. I prefer to listen when talking to strangers...that's why I bartend. Tell me about your day, your life, your struggles...
Being an artist and trying to stay sane is a struggle. My mother was raised by an artist, so she knew what she was getting herself into when she raised me. We need direction because trying to focus is literally rocket science. Daily struggle: I live with melodies and scrambled song lyrics dancing around my brain and I can't always tell which ones are original and which ones are stolen from an artist I admire; sometimes I sit in silence because the music in my head is too loud to share with other sounds; sometimes I leave the country (or chill in Chinatown) to sit amongst people speaking other languages so I can finally hear my own thoughts clearly. I wish I had more time to paint because it soothes my spirit. I wish I had a sewing machine and more free time to make all of my own clothes, because I don't fancy most of what I see in clothing stores these days. I wish I could make every product I use around the house and on my body from scratch, but I don't know science, and ain't nobody got time for that. And while I have all these wants and needs to fulfill my journey as an artist, my creativity is numbed after working 40 hours a week in fields that aren't artistic. It's exhausting. My brain is fried. Like why couldn't I just be an accountant like my Daddy? I get ignored and told no more often than I can emotionally withstand, but giving up would break my soul. To survive, I keep writing and humming melodies into my voice notes while walking to my babysitting job. I'm happy, but some days I struggle to find that spark, and a cloud of frustration follows me throughout the day blocking my view of the sun. To help, I hoard crystals and burn sage and palo santo...I smoke hella weed. I know how to find peace. I have learned patience...light always comes. But depression is rampant in the artist community, so be sure to check on your peoples regularly.
Visual representations of women in America make feeling beautiful a struggle. Women are taught to make themselves as attractive as possible to garner the attention of men. They are taught to put their mammary glands on display for the male gaze, and if you flirt a little, you can get whatever you want. What about women like me who barely fill an A-cup bra? What about women like me who are fat a little bit? Like not enough for surgery, but enough to make putting on clothes a hassle because eating good food is more fun than regularly shopping for bigger clothes. And fuck diets. Not all women are skinny or have the discipline to work out everyday. Not all women have a disposable income to participate in beauty services regularly. Not all women give a fuck about a cis-males' rapey gaze. We idolize beauty, yet we have impossible standards for it. Beauty isn't defined by intelligence, or talent, or character. So seeing women on TV, in film, or on social media in photoshopped images wearing layers of makeup, fake hair, nails, and eyelashes is enough to make me feel inadequate at times... and the shit is a struggle. Sometimes I want dessert or pancakes from Pisticci--sometimes the munchies are real. I feel a little guilt at times for putting too much butter and sugar in my body, but society has a way of shaming me far more than I shame myself. The second a woman gains a few pounds, people have an opinion about it...and the second a bitch starts losing weight, people won't shut up about how great she looks. I want to feel beautiful all the time, but it's a struggle when companies spend billions of dollars a year brainwashing us all through advertisements. They succeed when we hate ourselves; if we feel ugly, we can buy their products to appear more attractive to others. This toxic logic is ruining us all. What if I don't buy any of the products? Does that make me automatically unattractive? Fuck that. Except I'm totally obsessed with eyelash extensions, therefore I ain't shit.
The struggle is real.