For Brown Girls With Sharp Edges and Stories to Tell

Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

The world will continue to shout that you should be softer. You’re not quite sure when you began to hear this demand, but somewhere along the line you did, and it started soaking up space at the pit of your stomach. Somewhere along the line someone told you that you needed to dull your edges if you ever stood a chance of being loved and understood.

For a brief moment, you believed them. You wanted so desperately  to be adored, particularly by black men. You wanted to be a woman who felt warm and inviting, someone a man would be more inclined to stroll over toward during a balmy evening at a rooftop bar. So you worked hard to shrink yourself. Temper your confidence. Tone down your strength. There you were, a shell of the woman God created you to be, trying to shatter this angry black woman stereotype that you never birthed in the first place.

Yes, the world will continue to shout that you should be softer. It is an echo that will reverberate in the back of your ear for the rest of your life. On conference calls. In boardrooms. In bedrooms. On first dates.

Measure your tone. Speak slowly. Sprinkle some sugar on your words. It is an unwritten decree that will find its way into many conversations, both solicited and unsolicited.

But then you will remember sitting in the back of an Uber one night and asking a man–a man who you fought hard for and lost big for–what he thought of you. And the first thing he’ll say is “You say what you mean and you mean what you say.” It will become one of the highest compliments you’ve ever received, and you’ll never care to be called beautiful again. You’ll want to be known, and loved, for saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

The world has decided that women without sharp edges are easier to consume. And it seems like sometimes that’s all this world wants to do –absorb you without ever getting to know you. Devour you. Digest you. Make a meal out of your brown skin and beautiful eyes. But if you are sharp and if you have stories and if you speak with the conviction of a firm-and-brimstone preacher, then the world can’t eat you up so fast. It can’t figure you out. It can’t just suck you up and sit satiated while you dissolve at the bottom of its belly.

You were not handcrafted by heaven to be soft. You were not designed simply to be consumed. You are not here to live a miniature sort of life or assuage the insecurities growing like wildflowers inside of others.

Shout. Be loud. Stay tough. Take up the space. Allow the walls to crumble for the people who are worth letting in. Protect yourself when you need to. Dismantle your fear when you should. Let your energy rearrange the room and let your laugh suck up all the air.

Your sharp edges do not preclude you from being fragile. They do not mean that you aren’t sensitive or complex or affected by the way tides turn. Your sharp edges simply mean that you stopped being afraid of your own strength a long time ago. You quit apologizing for your sunlight. You decided to claim more space.

Not everyone believes in just eating you alive. Know that and believe it. Keep it somewhere in your back pocket for a winter’s night when it feels like love always proves to be a losing game. Some people will dare to peel back your layers and savor you one story, scar, and sharp edge at a time.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Dimensions of Black Womanhood: The Visionary and The Powerhouse

You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.–Shirley Chisholm

Tyece: The Visionary

Photo credit: @jazzthenoise
Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

The summer of 2011 tasted like cough syrup caked at the bottom of a Cabernet bottle. Sour. Bitter. Unwelcome. One bad surprise after another, the kind my mother insists make your left eye twitch. Except these weren’t just surprises, they were grenades. And bad wouldn’t describe them, but harrowing and hellish would. That summer sprinkled cyanide into my sweet glass of burgeoning adulthood and summoned me to take a sip.

I should have died. But it would be unfair to say I wanted to. If you ever want to die, I imagine you must feel something, if nothing more than the pitch black desire to leave this planet. Instead, I went numb. My mind went blank. There are whole months I do not remember. I took a passenger seat in my own existence and let the devil on my shoulder drive me straight into oblivion. We cruised through fog for hours. I fell into a hard sleep. Didn’t wake up until 2012.

Read more of my story here.


 

Jamé: The Powerhouse

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6 a.m.: I’m up, reading the eight plus news outlets I’m subscribed to, catching up on what’s been going on in the world. I eventually fall back asleep.

9:30 a.m. I’m back up, this time looking to make sure all is well on TheBlondeMisfit, checking for the one millionth time on grammar, punctuation, and social media handles.

1:30 a.m. The day has passed, and amidst busy schedules, many posts, and countless time spent on various projects, I’m forcing myself to go to sleep.

Somewhere in between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. the next day, I am an artist, spoken word poet, lyricist, singer, dancer, actress, musician, journalist, blogger, stylist, and social commentator. The friend who blurts out a creative idea while drunk and realizes the next morning it might actually be brilliant. The hard working student who everybody tries to get on their group project, because they know no matter how much or little they do, it’s going to be a great project.

Read more of Jamé’s story here.

Dimensions of Black Womanhood: The Powerhouse

 

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Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

By: Jamé Jackson

6 a.m.: I’m up, reading the eight plus news outlets I’m subscribed to, catching up on what’s been going on in the world. I eventually fall back asleep.

9:30 a.m. I’m back up, this time looking to make sure all is well on TheBlondeMisfit, checking for the one millionth time on grammar, punctuation, and social media handles.

1:30 a.m. The day has passed, and amidst busy schedules, many posts, and countless time spent on various projects, I’m forcing myself to go to sleep.

Somewhere in between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. the next day, I am an artist, spoken word poet, lyricist, singer, dancer, actress, musician, journalist, blogger, stylist, and social commentator. The friend who blurts out a creative idea while drunk and realizes the next morning it might actually be brilliant. The hard working student who everybody tries to get on their group project, because they know no matter how much or little they do, it’s going to be a great project. I am the Type A friend you have whose anal, not in the extremely annoying way, but in the If-It-Has-My-Name-On-It-It-Needs-To-Look-Amazing type of way. The nicer version of Miranda Priestly and the passionate one who will cry every time she makes any step in the right direction because she remembers the hard work she’s put in. I am the girl who loves Pinterest for ideas but hates posting on Instagram because of lighting.

Powerhouses are not just CEOs from the corporate business sector. We are the women who somehow do a million and one things without breaking a sweat. We seamlessly blend all of our gifts, talents, and necessities together and manage to work hard to get what we need and want. We look fabulous doing it. Yet, behind the cool images, awesome clothes, and seeming facade, let me tell you this: It is literally crippling.

Looking back, I don’t think I ever had a choice of not being a woman who wanted to tackle the world. As a child, I saw my mom somehow work for the government, go to grad school, and support me in literally EVERY SINGLE THING I was in at school. She was a strong Black woman. As are her sisters. As is her mother. As is her grandmother. I didn’t have the option to be anything BUT strong.

Photo credit: @jazzthenoise
Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

Life, however, can quickly remind you that you still need help. You still need to cry, and you still need to step back from trying to tackle the world before it tackles you. While everything appeared fantastic, I found the things that used to bring me joy were only bringing me pain as my stress levels continued to escalate. I tried to hold the entire world up on my shoulders. Be the perfect student, friend, daughter, girlfriend, Black woman who doesn’t cry (according to society), activist, and still be the life of the party. Pretty much, I was suffering from the ‘Superwoman’ complex, the blessing and curse bestowed on us Powerhouse women. Us Black women.

For years, I always felt I had to over perform to excel. That projects had to touch the sky or everything that I did had to go over and above. While people were patting me on the back, I was dying inside trying to remain the strong and perfect ‘Powerhouse’ image, not allowing anyone to see I was literally bursting at my own seams. Until one day, when amidst shooting pains in my chest and migraine headaches that would last days, I was diagnosed with depression. WHAT? Powerhouses don’t break; Powerhouses can stand up against anything. It was in that moment that I had to step back and realize that I was good enough. I had to make lifestyle changes to avoid a life of pain and self-sabotage from my constant need to perform and do well.

So today? I am still the Powerhouse, A-1 player you want on any team. However, I use down time to rest. I practice yoga and meditation. I learned how to say ‘no’ when things either didn’t appease me or they felt like an inconvenience to my life and what I wanted. I learned and am learning every day that things don’t have to be perfect to be perfect, and that making mistakes sometimes is the only indication to remind yourself you are still simply human. Do I still have my days I find myself pushing myself too hard? Of course. But I have so many Netflix & Chill nights alone, where I can just unwind and enjoy the time I have to myself.

Realize that a Powerhouse is only a Powerhouse when she learns that before she saves the world, she must save herself. She must treat her life like the greatest project she will ever tackle and understand that she is no good to anyone else if she is not first good to herself. Realize it takes a lot to look this good, and if sometimes you have to rip the layer off and expose the wounds to breathe a little, do it. Powerhouses are not impenetrable. We are transparent in our journeys of how we get to where we want to go- and no matter how easy or painful- proud of the process that makes us more beautiful every day.

Jamé Jackson is a native Washingtonian and recent graduate of Howard University, where she received two Bachelor of Arts’ degrees in English and Classics with an emphasis in Greek literature.In July 2015, Jame’ officially pioneered TheBlondeMisfit.com, an online, inspiring destination for young, Misfit-thinking women. A self-taught fashion photojournalist, Jamé has been published in Elite Daily, Gritstyle and several other publications. 

The Thing About Women Like You

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This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

 

The thing about women like you is that they’ll flex their hearts in the right ways, share their sheets with great bodies and exchange ideas with extraordinary minds. And even after all of that, they will have to claw their way to something true and lasting, maybe even after the world thinks they have gone past their romance expiration date. Because women like you don’t settle. Women like you don’t have timelines or deadlines or choke holds on the limitlessness of your future. They don’t want good. They don’t want half. They don’t want OK. No, they want amazing and they want all of it. They want their hearts racing and their knees buckling and all of their vitals on another level. Their love is not an Arial size 12. No, their love is some ridiculous Impact font, all caps, size 72. That’s how they love. 0 or 100. Anything in between strikes them as a waste of time.

Women like you don’t see 40 and single as a death sentence; they see 30 and settling for mediocre as the guillotine.

 

The Poison Of Power In Relationships

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No one (wo)man should have all that power.

I hate the word power. It’s a weighty noun that’s hard to get your mind wrapped around without wanting to croon that Kanye line “No one man should have all that powahhh.”

Nonetheless, I’ve thought about power a lot as of late. A few weeks ago, I sat in on an afternoon-long presentation by communications guru David Grossman discussing the difference between power and influence. That same week I read an essay about power in relationships from a male perspective. I decided it was time to gather my thoughts and spew them per usual.

I polled for today’s post, but received a sparse response from the already limited population of individuals who actually give a fuck what I have to say. Thank goodness I usually have a POV before I poll. Power in relationships is clearly a panty twister of a topic.

This is the part where I am supposed to go on some feminist rant about gender roles, right? You’ve read this blog enough (or maybe you haven’t) so you know I don’t do well with people (people pronounced men) having much power over me. You already know when it comes to male dominance, I’m akin to a five year old dressed in plastic heels yelling at her mother that yes, she will wear these shoes to church today. You already know my views on that “You complete me” bullshit. So, we can move on from the gender conversation.

I opted for the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary definition of power, just so I wouldn’t get my brain frazzled distinguishing among power, influence, dominance, control and a host of other loaded nouns that I use interchangeably. So, for all intents and purposes, Merriam defines power as “the ability to produce an effect.” I can work with that. The dictionary also defined power as “possession of control, authority or influence over others.” Oh, so all those words are basically interchangeable. Great.

I think it would be easy to rant about the tangible forms of power in relationships such as money or sex. But, if you want more information about that topic, I recommend you consult The LOX. Instead, I’m going to do my best Dr. Phil impersonation and talk about emotional power. Emotional power is probably coined in some psychology book. It’s probably fully operationalized. However, I don’t have access to that psychology book so I’m going to go on my normal rant.

In unhealthy relationships, and perhaps even healthy ones at times, there is someone with emotional reign. And, because I use my last relationship as the perpetual poster child for not-so-great relationships, I’ll pull that out of my bag of tricks once more. My ex had the bulk of the emotional power. Some people have a way of letting their misery spill over and stain everything in sight. Some people are the kind of god awful human beings whose moods can dictate the entire trajectory of a conversation, an evening out, or a relationship. Those people exist in relationships, marriages, friendships, offices, everywhere. They are the kind of people who do not know how to contain their choler, trampling over all the cupcakes and rainbows in the world if they are simply in a pissy mood.

Emotional power is the worst kind of power.

You find yourself tip-toeing around the people who host the emotional power. The outcome of your day is merely a byproduct of their mood. You live on the end of a tug of war rope, your fingers bloodied from holding on to your sanity for dear life, only to be yanked across the center line at a moment’s notice. You’re constantly asking “What’s wrong?” or “Are you OK?” and only half of the time are your interrogations met with truth.

Yes, emotional power is the worst kind of power.

I think it’s a safe generalization that we all aspire to equal life partnerships. But, for many of us, we have existed in relationships that are anything but equal. When power reveals itself in both tangible and intangible ways, establishing a genuinely 50/50 connection is the true mark of maturity.

Xoxo,
Tyece