“Make America Great Again”

On the eve of Memorial Day I decided to share a recent experience.  Yesterday, I went grocery shopping at a store that I frequent. As I was walking through the aisles trying to be obedient to my prepared shopping list (the horror!), a young white man spoke to me. I wasn’t expecting it but as he walked past me, I realized that he said, “Hello” or something of that nature. I responded with “Hello” and proceeded with my shopping. Honestly, I didn’t notice much about him other than his head was kind of down, he was wearing a red hat, and a red employee vest. We were headed in opposite directions of the aisle. As I made it midway through the aisle, I heard him speaking very animated to a couple.  To a white older couple; he was showing them his hat proudly, and said, “Make America Great! You like that, I had it made!” 

Huh?! What just happened? The couple seemed uncomfortable and sort of laughed it off and kept it moving. I do not know if they knew him; if they are regulars at the store and this explains why he felt comfortable sharing his brand new red hat that he had made with them. I do not know if this is why he spoke to me in the first place. Wait! Did he speak to me and conveniently drop his head so that I could notice and read his hat? I didn’t. I only noticed it after he drew attention to himself by boasting a slogan, or sentiment that is perplexing to me. 

It’s sad if he was trying to deliberately offend me. It really is. He does not know me and I do not know him. I could have been the staunchest Republican ever. And maybe he’s not a Republican either. Maybe he likes Trump or the idea of him. Maybe he just liked that slogan.  Who knows and at this point, who cares? For that matter, just because I am a Black Woman, I’m automatically a Democrat a la Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders supporter? We both are entitled to our political viewpoints and personal values. The problem is when these preferences are used as a weapon to harm and to hurt. 

I wish the young man had been bold enough to read his hat to me like he did for that couple. Because I had a comment for him. Or actually, I have a question. When exactly was America great? Just to be clear, questioning Americas greatness is not my mantra but his or maybe his candidate’s…they are saying that America is not currently a great country. Really? 

What makes this so in your opinion? And please enlighten me and tell me what era in our country’s history was it so “great.”  I need you to answer this question for me as a woman who also happens to be Black. Let’s hear it. Was it the early 1800, 1900s? During the Great Depression? Or let me guess, the 50s and the 60s? As we take a day to honor the men and women (who represent all nationalities, religious backgrounds and races), who paid the ultimate sacrifice, how dare you attempt to insult me with your hat…if this is what you were aiming to do.  How dare you? I forgive you because if you knew better, you would behave better.  

I happen to believe that as a nation we have quite a few challenges to overcome still. America is not perfect but I do believe that she has greatness in her because of her people. I do believe that  we are better today than we were yesterday. There is no one politician or political Party that can take all of the credit for how far we have come, or be blamed for how far we still need to go.  

Just like a slogan and hat is not enough to affect positive change, neither is a platform built upon divisiveness and hate.  Your political or religious views do not make you or I a better person. Talk is cheap. Only our actions and coupled with our sincere and collective pursuit for justice and equality for all will we accomplish that. 

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Beautiful 

I never really thought of myself as pretty. Or even beautiful.  I never thought that I was ugly or hard to look at either.  It’s just that I had a vision of what pretty and beautiful  was and she (me) was not it.  I’m not tall.  I have never been skinny. My hair has never been long enough. My teeth are not perfectly straight.  I have a hybrid of my father’s and mother’s hands.  My hands are petite and equally not thin. I do not necessarily think my hands are my best feature.

My legs are “big” and so is my butt. They have always been since I was born. I have never embraced either attribute.  I am perplexed by those who pay for butt enhancements. I am thinking so you want to have a shape where your top and bottom are two different sizes. Like, two or three sizes apart? You want cat calls about how big your butt is and what some random primate would love to do to and with you sexually? I need a good scrub down just thinking about it.

People have told me that I am pretty and attractive, but I did not accept it. Not really. I assumed that they were being nice and polite versus factual. And when your parents and family tell you how you look, Lord knows they have no credibility because I mean really, what else are they supposed to say? It’s kind of like the pot calling the kettle black. You know?

I bring this up because I just made a post on Facebook and somehow it brought up my camera roll from my phone. It began showing a slideshow of pictures of a very pretty woman.  Beautiful in fact.  I noticed her alluring brown eyes.  Her perfect lips.  She had lovely hair that was full, at nice length and it looked super healthy.  Her makeup was soft and accentuated her features versus the features of the makeup.  She took a picture with two children who really, really like her and think that she’s awesome.  I realized that this woman was me.

This post is not a covert solicitation for compliments.  Or a cry for empathy or sympathy. I am good, I assure you that I am.  I just found it interesting that someone like ME…having a very healthy sense of self-confidence, self-worth and esteem could be capable of being so unaware of something so obvious.  If this could happen to me, it has to have happened or is happening to someone else too.

When you don’t know who you are, you are stranger to everyone.  People can’t get to know the real you and receive you because you do not know who this person is either.  If you don’t know that you’re beautiful, or what any or all of your positive attributes are, how do you barter in the world?

If you don’t think that you’re beautiful, then you settle for a less than beautiful mate. You do not have the confidence or wherewithal to know when you deserve better. Everyone is doing you a favor by being with you, versus you being the prize to covet.

This self awareness extends beyond aesthetics.  If I do not know the extent of my talent, skill sets and abilities how do I negotiate a higher salary for my time and experience in business? At what point do I stop feeling lucky that they chose me, and knowing that they are equally as lucky that I chose them?

This has nothing to do with gratitude or being genuinely appreciative of an opportunity.  Of course you and we all should be.  In these situations extend a heartfelt Thank You once.  And only once. And let your deliverables be the perpetual demonstrator of this appreciation.

I am pretty. I am actually beautiful.  I know it now. You can agree or disagree and that’s okay.  Today I recognized my beauty for myself.  And I know beauty. I appreciate and admire it in others. I’ve just added myself to the list.