Have y’all ever had one of those “Damn, I shoulda said. . .” moments? Generally this happens after someone has told you something totally unreasonable as though it were the most reasonable ish in the world. I had one of these conversations with my cousin recently. He told me he had been reading the blog and keeping up with what I was doing. Woohoo! “You know,” he said, “I think you’re a man-basher.” Huh? Immediately, I began to mentally sift through the pieces I’ve written for the blog, searching for the day when I or any other CF had declared that “niggas ain’t shit” or some other like sentiment. Couldn’t find it. When I tuned back into the conversation, my cousin was saying, “you can’t talk so loudly all the time. Sometimes you have to use your indoor voice.” Indoor voice! Seriously?! Clearly I’d mistaken the CFC blog for an elementary school playground. And given the nature of this conversation, a recess—or better yet a time out—was most definitely in order. But I wasn’t so lucky. He went on to tell me in an earnest, even sincere voice, “Cousin, I think what you really need is to get it. You need to get it good.” Flabbergasted, I made a few half-hearted protestations and got off the phone. But the conversation has lingered, most likely because I didn’t say what I shoulda said.
So here goes “Damn, I shoulda said”:
I’ve never been a fairy tale type girl. So you’ll be hard pressed to sell me on the notion that what I need in my life is a man that can wave his magic stick—er,um, wand—in the right direction [a little to the left is what you told me to tell him] and all my wishes will come true and my troubles will go away. The only folks I ever saw work that kinda magic was Grandmama, my mama, and our aunties, who overcame lots of stress and few resources to make a life for us.
Hell, these days a fairytale brother ain’t the one who’s fine as hell, pushin a nice whip, or owning a nice house. I’d settle for one who ain’t afraid of or intimidated by a woman with big dreams of her own. That brother is mature, educated, emotionally stable, and has a few earnest goals himself. He ain’t trippin on a sister with an opinion. In fact, he welcomes it. He sees my don’t-take-no-shit attitude as confidence, and my willingness to hold folks accountable for their BS as maturity. Who I’m not checkin for or layin down with is the dude who thinks that the most effective way to deal with a powerful, self-defined sister is to dick her down. And tell her to shut up.
Thanks to a range of battery-powered resources, I don’t need to let a man drill me, just so I can access his “natural” resources. My homegirl says that battery-powered alternatives [BPA’s] are better for at least six reasons anyway: they’re guaranteed safe; they travel easily; they don’t make false promises; you can control the rhythm, timing, and movement of the interactions; you don’t have to share; and you can see it in the package before you buy it. What this means for your little cousin is freedom, because though I have needs, I don’t have to make a choice between my heart and my health, my soul and my sanity, my mind and my body to get those needs met. Perhaps that was (t)oo (m)uch (i)nformation, but you started it.
Here’s what I admire about you: that you are working so diligently to raise two responsible and upstanding young men. I know you want your boys to know that their worth and manhood isn’t between their legs, but between their ears. I know you want them to have strong minds and big hearts. The fewer little boys we have wielding their penises to solve their problems, the more men we will have partnering with us to solve the problems we face.
Anyway, Cousin, here’s what I need you to get and get real good. What you’re hearing from me is passion, not anger. There is a difference. Am I disappointed sometimes in the piss-poor choices I see Brothers making? Honestly, yes. Does expressing that disappointment make me a man-basher? No. It means I care enough/love enough to say something. When folks ain’t trying to hear you, sometimes you have to speak louder. When Brothers start to listen, get willing to communicate, come to the table with open ears and hearts, I’ll happily use my “indoor voice.”
Thank you for reading our blog. And thank you for caring enough to offer your two cents about my life. I know it comes from a sincere and loving place. You probably don’t know that you help inspire my crunk. When I feel tired and misunderstood, I remember one of your raps from back in the day: “I was given a gift/ and I feel honored to preach/ But most fear the power of speech.”
Much, much love,
Your Little Cousin