Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Prose: Urban Fabulous-ness or "How It's Cool When White People Do It"

As young broke black teens we would dye our hair with packets of kool-aid,
Marveling at how, in the sun, the red, orange, or blue colors would pop.
Our perms were not used to make our hair curly, but to "relax" it into a straight state,
And then we'd style it up into braids, waves, waterfalls, twists, buns, rolls;
While jars of ampro lined our dressers, beside the soft brushes we'd use to lay down our edges.
Our nails were long and adorned with different colors, jewels, and sometimes dollar bills.
Fitted jeans and Baby Phat tees.
Timberlands were not work gear, but a symbol of social status.
Juicy Fruit. Bangles. Bad Attitudes.
Not bad meaning bad but bad meaning, I'm so good.
Through our speakers banged the voice of our generation:
Biggie, Tupac, Bone Thugs, TLC, Xscape, Aaliyah.
Our bodies moved in sync to the rhythms of their words and we were great.
But we weren't seen as good, but more like hood.
Ghetto in every way. Don't hang around them or they will lead you astray.
Don't care about school, and thinks its cool to hang out on the corner.
Their parents don't care about them, and all they do sin.
Sinners. They need Jesus.They need to pray. They need us to tell them what's right and wrong.

Fast forward 20 years later, now they praise us.
The colorful hair is now the next big think.
Baby hairs are now "slicked down tendrils."
Braids are BOLD. Long pointy nails are EDGY.
Du-rags are now made of vegan leather.
Kente clothed items are available at your local store,
and if you don't have a black friend, you ain't cool.
The bad hip hop is now okay because we now see white faces spitting rhymes.
White faces with urbanized accents to lend authenticity to a culture they appropriated.
And now we don't need a special channel or a special show to see our favorite rap videos.
That's dope right?
The Harlem shake is no longer a nod to the fiends who walked up and down 125th
But a comedic meme that shows no love to the original.
Miley invented the twerk, and if you are confused, there's plenty of articles and videos.
And "nigga what, nigga who" why can't we say what you do?
Gangsta grillz...no gold mouth adornment that can urbanized your look.
There is never any love to the original.

See it's not enough to be stolen. Or to have your history stolen.
The one thing that we can still be actively involved in is our culture.
The one thing we thought we owned, that no one could steal or take from us.
For years, our culture was less than.
So less than that it's now cool and on the runways of Milan and NYC
Our culture is on the cover of magazines. In the pages of Vogue, Marie Claire.
You want that fab slicked down hair? Or see the latest in street wear?
Youtube is there.
But we aren't there.
Because when we do it, it's ghetto.
When white people do it, it's cool.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One Mo' Gin...

I don't know if I stated this or not but I didn't get into grad school last year. I was "wait-listed" after contacting my first choice to see what was going on...it was almost May and I hadn't heard anything. To say I was shocked would be an understatement and an overstatement at the same time. I was shocked because I believed I was a shoe-in. I had the grades, the test scores, the resume...everything. Why wouldn't this little school want me? But I wasn't shocked because I had bullshitted with my application. I got great recommendations but I rushed the essay portion and to be honest, my GRE scores could have been better. My resume should have been a  CV to outline all of the public health research I have completed...so many things could have been better...had I just took the time.

Months later I can admit that now. I can say to myself "You didn't do what you should have done to win." I think what hurts most is to know that I didn't try my hardest...it's one thing to do all you can and get rejected, but it's quite another thing to get rejected while being lazy. Because all I can do is blame myself. And I do.

But I can't dwell on the past.

The past few months I have been looking at schools again. I also have been studying message boards (one in particular actually...the grad cafe), and trying to find blogs...the key word: TRYING. I don't know why it's so hard to find blogs written by people who wish to pursue higher education. Message Boards are cool but limited...and I think it would be extremely helpful to read about other people's journey...but I digress. I did my homework. I plotted and planned. And decided...I would try again. This time I selected a few other schools (one in particular that my friends told me to go for but I didn't because I thought I wasn't good enough...) and I'm going to try again.

And I'm going to give it my all this time.

Pray for me.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


It's quite frustrating to have a bunch of words in your mind
You want to write them down or speak them or share them somehow
But when you sit down to write, or open your mouth...

Often times I have these grand theatrics in my mind of how I will say this and how I will say that...
I can defend myself, or explain myself, or even apologize...
But nothing. These words don't come easy.

My mind races, like 1000 words a minute. I have all of the thoughts.
I have all of the ideas. I have all of the plans.
I have none of the conviction, none of the organization, and none of the spine.

You want to be great.
You feel the greatness in your spirit.
You know you were meant to be a flame.

If only the words would slow down.
If only your thoughts would organize themselves.
Give me a minute to work this out...before you give me something else.

I wonder if this is what ADD feels like...I often wonder if there is a way to stop my mind from wondering. My friend told me sometimes I get lost in myself...and it's true. Sometimes there are so many thoughts, I don't hear anything. I don't recognize anything. I'm truly lost in my own world.
This is not voices, it's me...telling myself this is what needs to be done.

I'm so frustrated.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Negative Isn't Always Negative

Growth is hard. We all know this, but what we all don't do is own it. Some of us just ride the tide, going through the ups and downs of life, and we hope...we pray...to land safely on both feet, with minor scratches. But sometimes that ride can break you.

I'm breaking.

This is not necessarily a negative thing...this is about self realization. I have been making minor changes in my life for the past few years and some have worked, and some I have failed at miserably. And it is these failures that shine brighter than the achievements because you see, I want to be a better person. I actually fight to be a better person every day. You might not see it. But I do.

The first step to becoming a better person is to recognize your faults. Write them down. Read them out loud. Acknowledge that these characteristics are the ones holding you back. It's important to be honest in this. A lot of the time we make excuses for our bad habits because they aren't "that bad". But this is bad.


Now some ppl will say to focus on your good attributes but that's silly to me...because focusing on my good qualities will not make the bad ones go away. I really dislike that concept of just trying to be happy 24/7 because life isn't happy all the time.

Life is complex.
Life is love.
Life is pain.
Life is winning and sometimes losing.
Life can be an incredible high or the lowest of lows.
Life is amazing. Life is beautiful.

And if it wasn't for the pain, how would I know how great life can be? So I chose to focus on those bad aspects of me that I want to change...and while it's simple enough. I don't know how to change them.

How do you become a better person?

This is just a random musing. I don't know what's going on here.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

PROSE: lov-her.

the upside to all of this is the happiness i feel in your presence.
see it's not about me...or you...but us and how we connect with each other.

and its not about our conversations...but those moments of silence when

everything is perfect.
but nothing is perfect. and because of that, i try to cherish every
moment i can.
forgive me if i'm needy, or greedy, or jealous, or even overzealous in
your presence.
not to sound cliche but every moment lead to this one...and in this moment...
my lover...
in THIS moment...no words can describe how i feel for you.
but wait...this ain't about me. or you. but us.


our energy.
other worldly.
we did this before.
and we'll do it again.
as long as you let me.
so let's try this once more. its about those moments when we lie together
and breathe as one.
those moments when we look at each other, smile, laugh, playfulness.
i want to savor these moments. i cherish these times. i am thankful to
the Most High for this experience.
 I thank Him for him. because him plus me makes us. And we are
everything that I need.
cause it's not about me. or him. but us. And we are love.
---Steph B.

Note: this some old writing. from 2012. maybe 2011. words words words.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Target, Bodega ATMs, and "I was ROBBED!"

If there is one positive thing I can always say about Wells Fargo bank it would be "There fraud department does NOT play." They are always on it! Let me tell you what happened THIS time...

First off, I live in Brooklyn. There are no Wells Fargo banks or ATMs around, and for some odd reason, the stores near my house do not give cash back on purchases so most of the time, I hit up the Bodega unnamed ATM to take out cash. I'm actually trying to stop this because on average, I get hit with a $5 fee (total) to do this. This amounts to about $20 a month I'm spending to get money out of a shady ass ATM. Secondly, I use my bank card at Target all the time. I even used it around the time of that Target hacking situation. However, I thought I was safe. Apparently, I was wrong.

Last night while I'm enjoying a quick nap, my phone rings. It's Wells Fargo. Of course, I missed the call, so before I call back I check my account online. I see TWO purchases I did not make. One in TN and one in CO. I'm in Brooklyn. This isn't right...I call. "Of yes Ms. Baltimore, someone tried to charge $550 at such and such hotel, but we declined this. This wasn't you?" HELL NO. And then here comes the whole let's go through the last week of purchases and credits to see if any other suspicious activity has happened. It's only the two charges, and they total less than $100.

"Ms Baltimore, do you make online purchases?"  DUH I'm thinking. I was about to buy a cute pair of python flats from Zara before you guys called. Now...I guess I gotta wait. I'm told I shouldn't use my card online no matter how safe it seems...get a pre-paid card or generate another card number on my account to use just online...blah blah blah...so you saying I gotta go through changes to buy things I really don't need online (I do need those shoes though...)

Not thinking about how I'm going to live I tell them to cancel my card. DELETE ALL THAT SHIT. As I'm sitting there talking to fraud, I realize...I only have $10 to my name. I didn't think...let me run to the Bodega ATM and take out xyz. I'm told 7-10 days for a new card (sent to my mom's house in Maryland...so add another week for me to get it). I can get a temp card but alas, there is no Wells Fargo in Brooklyn or the Bronx so I'd have to take off work to go get a new card. Le sigh. I hang up, stressed and defeated.

I'm not too concerned with the money because I know I will get it back and it's a small amount. But this is the second time this has happened since I moved to NYC. I can't pinpoint where I'm getting got and I doubt it's online because this never happened before! I been buying things online since 2005! I know how this works! So I don't know if this is the Target scam still going on or if it's the shady Bodega ATMs (ironically I used the ATM at McDonalds the day before so maybe it's the shady 99 cent ATM). I have no clue but my advice to everyone out there...cash is king. Keep money  hidden in your house just in case this happens and you can't go to the bank. Also, have a back up account at another bank (I do but I don't know the pin to the ATM so WHOMP. Yes I know I can call to get it). 

So basically I'm officially broke until I find a way to get to the bank and get a new card. Thanks petty ass thief.

p.s. I am thankful that these ppl really didn't get me for more money or that losing this $100 won't affect my livelihood. If this was 3 years ago, I'd be at home crying on the floor.
p.p.s. I would change banks, but Wells Fargo is so good about things like this...they just really need more ATMs around.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

PROSE: The War (because suicide is real...)

I fought for today to be a good day.
I really did.
And no matter how hard I fought, it felt that I kept getting knocked down.
Fall down 20 times, get back up 21. But on that 21st knock down, I gave up.
I FOUGHT for today. 
Through the hopelessness, despair, the pain, the turmoil
I continued to fight. 
I tried to look at the positive. I looked for that silver lining. 
I looked for that light at the end of the tunnel.
But this battle was bigger than me. 
I am a beautiful tormented dreamer who takes pride in rising above the pain.
But sometimes that pain is too much to bear.
But I kept fighting
I kept screaming for help until I lost my voice. 
And in that one moment, I gave in. And I cried.
Not just for myself but for those who didn't ever have a voice
For my ancestors who fought every day of their life but never had a good day
For the children on the streets 
For the homeless.
The sick. The vulnerable. The lost. The misunderstood. The ones in pain and don't know why.
The ones who also fought for today and gave up on not just today, but on every day. 
I cried for them. I cry for them.
I let go and I lost today's battle. 
But I refuse to lose the war.
Because I am here for a reason. I am beautiful. Extraordinary. Amazing. Talented. And fuck being humble, I was made in the image of God. How could I NOT be great?

You are great.
You are amazing.
You are perfect the way you are.
You are loved. 

And if no one told you today, I told you. 

NOTE...I am not suicidal. but there are many who are. and i was reminded of that today. despite how happy you look on the outside, the pain on the inside is what is real. if you are feeling down and out, know there is help. you are not alone. we all lose the battle once and a while, but the war is what we are fighting for. the war is what we will win.