I, also, Am Afraid of the Police

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A year ago to this day, I wrote a well-received essay titled “Am I a ‘house nigger’?” exploring the various privileges that exist in my life and how they are what I supposed to be a “rigid juxtaposition” to the stereotypical black experience in this country. I wanted to come clean about how the various privileges afforded to me have put me where I am today—at an elite university, living in one of the most expensive parts of the country, sharing champagne toasts with billionaires, with unpaid internships at my fingertips. (Note: My family is definitely not insanely rich, but I’ve always lived quite comfortably.) I hoped my essay would let people know that although I have worked hard, I am mainly a product of the privileges afforded to me—privileges that are not given to so many Blacks and other people of color who could be smarter, more qualified than myself; and yet are held back by the hand dealt to them by hundreds of years of history.

This is a different kind of essay. It is not an attack on white people, nor was it ever. It is an attack of the inability for many to acknowledge or even have the experiences to be able to recognize their privilege.

I am not special by any means, but I have had the unique experience of growing up in two worlds—one few get the simultaneous privilege and awfulness of experiencing. On one hand, as a middle schooler, I spent Florida winters drenched in Juicy Couture velour track suits paired with the sheep skin Ugg boots; My ‘Return to Tiffany and Co.” heart sharped chain necklace sparkling with the matching bracelet and ring set. For a casual $1,000, my little neck, wrist, and finger were happily drenched with silver. As described in a previous essay, I was given the education, the cotillion classes, the love from both parents to thrive in a world built for the white man. On the other hand, the same little princess dressed in Tiffany’s and fresh out of her winter cotillion class was called a nigger for the first time.

What I thought was an isolated incident turned into a series of heartbreaks over the years. Boys telling me they could never bring a Black girl—especially one as dark as me—to meet their mom, overhearing workers in my house asking my mom if she was the maid, violent words from golfers asking me how I got into the neighborhood when I walked alone, being told to look more closely at Black and Latino shoppers when I was working in a clothing store, seeing the fear in my mother’s eyes for my brother, being treated kindly whilst hanging out with all white friends and poorly whilst hanging out with Black or dark-skinned Latino friends in public. Things I was ashamed of admitting.

Merely human, people whose perceptions of Blacks were shaped by media rather than interaction use a semi-formed perception of my race to gauge my level of hostility, my socioeconomic status, and my intentions.

And shamefully enough, I harbored many of the same perceptions towards Blacks that I was struggling with combating myself. Poisoned by my environment, I was socialized in a very white world and, thus, had a very ironic view on the intersection of class, race, and socioeconomic status for years to my parent’s dismay. Regardless of my youthful ignorance, I was very much a dark-skinned black woman. I came to painfully understand how the negative stereotypes form in people’s minds because they formed in me– about myself.

Combing through years of self-hatred for the darkness of my skin, the kinkiness of my hair, and even the shape of my head, I was able to mentally combat (and am still actively combating) the perception of Blacks and other POCs spoon fed to me by the world. And, still, regardless of my personal journey to being better, I know that I am the only real-world interaction many of my white friends and acquaintances have with a black person:

I am bright. I am cheery. I am polite and as eloquent as can be whilst meeting and getting to know people because I feel burdened with debunking stereotypes that whisper that I am aggressive, unintelligent, lazy, and ugly. And, still, I know that there are many who do not have the distinct experience of getting to know, to really know, a black person to disprove these terrible things put in their mind. Many have not had the opportunity or seen the need to reach out and know that people of color have to navigate the world in a different way based on the perception forced upon them. And for that—although dwindling quickly amidst video proof, scholarly papers, and endless articles highlighting the mistreatment of African Americans—I am slightly sympathetic for the well-meaning racist (I say “racist” for lack of a better word).

To me, the well-meaning racist is the cherry cheeked, sunny personality that believes color-blindness and love, rather than paradigm shifts in systematic structures and mental brainwashing, are what will solve racism. They were taught to follow the golden rule, but never educated on how hundreds of years of history are the premise for how humans behave today.

To overlook how the unconscious racism in well-meaning people kills Blacks and Latinos at a disproportional rate is to contribute to a system that allows this to happen. To my friends and acquaintances who have navigated the world in a white-coated bubble, I am not here to tell you what to do or how to use your voice—that is up to you. What I am saying is there is a different world you’ve probably never seen– it is not made up. I know this, because I have seen them both. One of them can be quite scary*.

Admittedly, I am coming at this issue from a point of privilege that nearly invalidates every goddamn thing I have to say. Sure—I am called a nigger** every few months by angry men on the street, but there is much worse torture than being called a word. People with less privilege than myself certainly have it much worse than I, a little princess from the coast of Florida. But, doesn’t it make you think? If a little princess from the coast of Florida, sheltered from the worst of the world, is profoundly effected by racial politics, how deeply seeded is the racism that shapes the black experience?

In other words, if you want to know how pervasive racism is in our world– look back to me. Even in the land of sweater vests, sear sucker shorts, and country club memberships, I am still afraid of the police.

**(A big ole’ thank you to my incredible white and non-black friends who are woke a f and fighting the good fight every day. It means the world to us.)

*A Letter to the Boy who Called Me a Nigger: You Have Irked Me.

The Curious Case of Julian

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This essay was written in one sitting after a thirteen-hour workday, a conversation with a great friend, and three or four glasses of wine. It’s 1 am. It will stay raw and unedited. Clarity? Development? Consideration? Compassion? Fuck it. Who cares? We live on a floating rock and, therefore, everything is arbitrary.

“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

Those words have lit every one of my body parts on fire for years—since some guy in some band gifted me the song when I was 16. Those words, they make me shutter with a poignant sense of something I don’t quite understand. What I do understand is that Janis Joplin’s voice is rough, unadulterated; it’s sexy, it’s dirty, it’s pretty. Its primitive nature reeks of such an emotional and sexual agony that is so fucking vulnerable that I know she’s not lying. There’s no way she’s lying about the pain when her voice cracks like that—that’s the sound of her frontal lobe snapping under the pain. She’s free of the mental chains.

And now, now that I’m feeling vulnerable and stable, I’m going to be like a Janis Joplin song. I’m going to tell the whole truth about the curious case of Julian.

I met a boy named Julian once. I plummeted into a special kind of hell of love with a boy who seemed to be able to keep up with my insanity. I expressed this in a series of letters some weeks later—was rejected. Now neither of us know whom each other is. It kills me regularly.

Why lie? I still feel pathetic for having put myself into the atmosphere like that—to write letters that took me hours, days, weeks to write, to perfect, to second guess myself, to reassure myself that this was the right thing and then send them to Europe, only to be subtly castrated through a painful silence.

Sadly enough, I wrote wedding vows in a wine bar on the Upper East Side on my 21st birthday to him—the one letter I never sent across the sea. It seemed like something that I would inevitably read to him—a cute, funny story I’d tell over a Valentine’s day dinner one day when we lived together in sin. (Damn. The unforgiving reality of the pathetic nature of my utter vulnerability last year really comes alive when I write it down and say it aloud to myself.)

The curious case of Julian is one that I revisit often. It is one that I look back on with a mild regret—I shouldn’t have been so inappropriately open. I didn’t understand how stalkers could lust after something that didn’t think of them back until Julian. I had to truly stop myself a million times from being too weird, too unsettling, too in love with this slight stranger. But, regardless, I love him or something about him, whatever; and I felt guilty about this.

But, then again, this is who I am. I love; I really love. I’m sincere.

I’d always been honest, but never this honest out loud until I sent those letters to Spain. I let my silly self be frivolous, uncalculated—a child.

After much torture, it’s time for me to give myself a fucking break.

Like a spanking on the ass, my fixation on Julian made me cry. But, the thing is, I’m ok. I’m still funny, silly, drunk; impregnated with laughter and vodka sodas. I’m still a child and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s probably a good thing. Like in the Janis Joplin song, I have nothing left to lose. I watched the dreams I had in my mind shatter into a trillion shards of glass. My heart was broken. Hell, it’s still broken. But I have nothing left to lose; and that, and that alone, has given me freedom.

I am so happy. I love without abandon because nothing worse can happen. I’m apologetically dating a 44-year-old billionaire with a big house and no moral compass. I’m fucking free.

The Degradation of Meagan

3b4a477f2ebaaa08af64a604c43699f4.jpgI have been quick, astoundingly quick, to blame anything that goes wrong on Meagan from Drake and Josh. Just last week, I forgot to turn in an online Spanish assignment for the second time in a row. Maybe it was the fact that I went to happy hour and disregarded the importance of my academic life in light of the simple bliss of a vodka soda (with a dash of lime)– but, maybe, just maybe, it was (*squint eyes* *hiss*) Meagan. I choose to believe it was Meagan.

Brothers and Sisters, I invite you to also join me in blaming Meagan. There is no need for you to feel bad for what you previously thought were personal failings and bad luck.

Daddy issues? Meagan. Bad hair cut? Meagan. Donald Trump? Meagan. He didn’t text you back? Definitely Meagan.

She has gotten away with this for too long; we need to put blame where blame is due. We are not the reason why our lives are so f*cked up. We are not the reason for the job market. We are not the reason Zoey 101 was taken off the air. We are not the reason for Kanye West’s $53 million dollar debt. It was Meagan.

 

A Letter to the Boy who Called Me a Nigger: You Have Irked Me.

 

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You little shit,

I know how you self-described “not politically correct” people look at me (and my friends); Basically, you think I alternate between running through the streets looking for something to be offended by, hiding in my safe space, playing the race card, and eating gluten-free snacks; and yet, surprisingly enough, I still somehow carve out enough time in my day to tweet @BernieSanders: “choke me daddy” on an hourly basis*.

Anyways, are you sober yet? Because I want you to take in every word I am about to say with all of your cognitive abilities: I truly did not appreciate you calling me a n*gger last weekend. I really, truly did not.

I get it—you were too drunk. It slipped. You’re not a racist. It was a joke. You have a Black friend. You listen to 2 Chainz. You think trap music is fleek. Fried chicken is lit. For God’s sake, you even tweeted that generic message saying you supported the students of color at Mizzou last fall.

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Well, my official response to you is NAH— you fucked up. You fucked up. You really fucked up; because, now I am tired of trying to educate people on basic human respect (i.e. “political correctness”). And before you say it, yes, I know the first amendment protects your freedom of speech. But, I’m going to be totally honest with you when I say I don’t give a damn about the literal interpretation of a constitutional document made hundreds of years ago by a bunch of guys who barely washed their dicks. So, no, you are not being given a pass this time—not from me.

I’m definitely not going to confront you. Instead, I plan to piss on everything you love. As punishment, I have created a long-term, foolproof plan to destroy you.

It will all start on a Monday morning at approximately 5:30am in two years from now. DNA samples have already been collected. I can’t tell you much else, but I can give you some hints.

Do you remember the plot of Gone Girl? Well, I keep a copy of the book by my bedside.

Love,

Amazing Ashley

(*And, you know what? Bitch, I might.)

The Week before Break: Keeping Up My Sanity With a Bratty Rant

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Not to be dramatic, but I’d rather have someone churn butter in my ass than be in the library right now. I figured I’d dive right into this one considering the immense pain I am under with being tasked to write a comprehensive analysis of a specific contemporary world issue in under 2,000 words by Wednesday. I am not saying I don’t care about world politics; what I am saying is that I would rather watch my friends take tequila body shots off of me while brave strangers quiver with disgust in the background.

Honest to God, I’ve been pumping out these dry, half-scholarly essays once a week for around four months. I’m at the point where I might start this week’s essay with “ok so like”, refer to NATO as “BAE”, mention how Putin dragged the hell out of ISIS, and finish the conclusion with “ya feel me, nigga?” just to see what happens.

Don’t get me wrong– I am hashtag blessed to go to this amazeballs school in this amazeballs city; but shit, where do these professors get off on doing their job so thoroughly around the holiday season? Is it too much to ask that the homework assignment for one night be to work on our mental health by taking a day to kayak down the feces infested Potomac river? Or better yet: to smoke a jay and ruminate on the importance of what we’ve learned in school thus far? Can a bitch just get a night to catch up on Scandal?

I love school and I love learning, I really do– but please, my dear university, give me a break. I am trying to keep up my sanity; but how am I supposed to do that when I don’t even have time to keep up with the Kardashians?

 

The Princess and the Salamander

tumblr_nfke6hiZy51tzjgi2o1_500Zola, the alien princess, was busy chipping wood from a tree so she could drink the juices of her planet. Suddenly, up popped a little black caterpillar from the foliage. “Beep-Beep-Beep (roughly translates to “hello” in our language),” said the teeny tiny thing, “I came from the center of the planet to bring you some news, my sweet princess.” Delighted, Zola buried her face in her slimy hair. She said, “BEEP-BEEP-BEEP! Tell me everything you little angel of a salamander.” “Well, my name is Pinky and I am the sole proprietor of a particular set of knowledge–wonderful knowledge– that I am about to impart onto you.” “Go on”, squeaked the princess in a daze. “Now, Now. Slow down you beautiful creature. First, I must crawl closer to you so I can see your face clearly”. The princess let Pinky come closer and closer. Pinky said, “Dear princess, let me climb onto your hills of hair, on the top of your tiara so I can feel your presence”. Princess Zola let the little caterpillar climb all the way to the tippy top of her silver studded crown. “Oh, but, Princess,” whispered Pinky, “But, Princess. Let me crawl down your face a little so I can whisper in your ear.” Princess Zola obliged. Little Pinky wiggled his way into the ear canal of the princess. Princess Zola said ok. “Let me tell you the most exciting thing you’ve ever heard my dear girl. Let me tell you about what I’ve heard.” “What have you heard little animal?” “I’ve heard a great many things.” “Such as what,” she said while wiggling in the discomfort of a little bug invading in her delicate ear.

“You, sweet child, have fallen under my spell. You are compelled to do the things I tell. But, do not worry pretty girl, you remain as lovely as a pearl. Only good can come of this, nothing will go amiss. Just wait patiently, for my poison covered kiss.”

Upset at the idea of being controlled, Zola said, “How so, Pinky? I can still run free through the fields of lemons and I can still kiss the ground. I can do a lot of things that you’ve never told me to do when you weren’t around! I can put glitter on my tongue. I can sing from deep within my gorgeous lungs. I can break open my legs into a pattern of dance so intricate, you would shutter in the glory of its ambivalence. I can… I can…”, the princess spiraled off into a long list of can do for what seemed like eons. She did all of these things she listed, if only to guard her autonomy and her freedom to prove the little animal wrong.

“Oh Zola, soon you will see,” insidiously whispered the little caterpillar under the threshold of Zola’s hearing, “soon you will see what I say is true. The princess of fire is deeply imbedded inside of you.”

Gently, yet violently, the little caterpillar bit the princess in her ear and everything went dark for Zola.

Nothing.

“ZOLA. ZOLA. ZOLA,” a dark room of men covered in crosses screamed, “Come back. Fight the demon inside of you”. In the corner of the moist room sat a sunken parent, drunk in her own disbelief; Zola’s eyes rolled from her brain back to where they should be. Facing forward, Zola gasped under her breath, “Where am I and where is the little bug in my ear telling me nonsensical fallacies?”

“She’s awake,” one of the men covered in crosses yells into the other room.

In walk four tall humans clad in blue, badges, and guns: “Zola Mary Rekelike, you are under arrest for the breaking and entering of a hospital during closed hours, as well as the murder of fourteen people; the last of which was the newborn baby.”

Dizzy and lost, Zola asked herself where the caterpillar had gone and how she ended up here in chains. Still very much so confused, she asked the scary men to repeat their statement; she realized she could barely hear a thing out of one ear. She cocked her head to the side and out slowly dripped the darkest, blackest, most sinister, demonic unidentifiable matter ever seen by the likes of a human.

The officers repeated their statement and took her away.

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Hellish Bitch

image image imageIf you look close enough, you might find two little red horns sprouting out of the top of my head; I’m no angel, but I’ve certainly been pretending to be.

For every boy who has ever broken my heart, I’d like you to know that I’ve played the victim, the virgin and taken you down to hell in the process.

I’ve most definitely dragged your name through a pile of shit so dank that Snoop Dog would cough up a lung. Without you knowing, I’ve turned you into the small town junkie sucking off everyone’s uncle in the back alley for a nickel. I’ve told everyone that you have the Dasani Water™ of penises; I’ve told them how I’d rather deep throat a cactus.

Here I am, verbally destroying you from my crystal covered thrown; and yet, it’s starting to become evident that this princess is no angel.

You may have ignored my calls. You may have treated me like a cheap slut. You may have left me for dead like that bald guy in Jurassic Park left the kids. But, goddamn, I didn’t have the right to do it to anyone else.

I’ve been quick, astoundingly quick, to drag any boys who’ve hurt me down to hell; but, shit, how many boys have I inadvertently hurt?

I’m talking to you, the nervous boy who asked me out at the sandwich shop, and you, the nice boy who texts me every two months without fail to see how I’m doing, and you, the boy who loved me while I attacked him, and you, the boy with the tattoos and southern accent, and you, the boy who told me you’ve been in love with me since I was 11, and you, and you, and you, and you. I’m talking to all of you: everyone whose romantic love I didn’t want. I’m down on my hands and knees praying I didn’t break your heart the way my heart has been broken. I hope I put you down gently with a single slash to the throat or a gun to the head; I hope I didn’t let you suffer for long.

And if you did suffer? Oh God, if you did? Please, please feel free to drag my name through a pile of shit so dank that it sends Snoop Dog to his grave. I deserve it.