Once upon a time, people (famous and not famous) were able to use Social Media to vent. To say what they wanted with no fear. You could Tweet, Post, picture, video your opinions and positions, say what they ate, wore, what was going on with their day; whatever. Phones were even made to make this access easier. And whether people either liked it or didn't, everyone went about their day and none were the wiser.
Until one day, years later, a dark, internet soldier decides to dig deep, like 10 years deep into your background, actually looking for where and when you chose to say or do something millions of people agreed with at the time, but is no longer PC or proper by today's standards. It doesn't even have to be something that you believe in today. You could have changed your mind or gotten enlightened in some way. But what you said is a record, frozen in time, waiting for them to pluck it out of suspended cyberspace in that moment of trying to make a name for themselves as an "internet journalist" or "overnight activist" that now they will lead the charge in making you the example of what's wrong with the world right now.
No one questions this person's motives. The person may just not like your face, body, voice, even your name. The fact that they felt fat/skinny in the 5th grade, not good enough at some point, was bullied, felt small when they were in that dark place; YOU ARE THE REASON for the ills of their world and quickly convince others of that fact.
They do this by reminding the world of what you said or did in a random moment and decide that at that moment is when they play judge and jury with your livelihood. Now the people with pitchforks and twitter fingers decide that YOU are the catch of the day.
YOU, someone that works hard to get what you have, struggles amongst all obstacles, wake up one morning to find that the world hates you. Because you stand for their pain. Never mind that you are a human. A person that lives and breathes as they do and now your children aren't even safe and you're on a 24 hour suicide watch. You didn't hurt them personally, you don't even know them personally. Hell, they don't even know you personally and it can be a snippet or half of a sentence that the context gets twisted. It doesn't matter, they won't even ask your viewpoint or even if you still feel that way. Even if you apologize, it's not enough. If they don't like your apology, it makes things worse.
They don't care. You must pay.
I wrote a book 20 years ago for children, "Why Do They Pick On Me?" In that story, a child is hurt in many ways by peers and strangers and is wondering why. It's stated that sometimes there is no why. Sometimes, it's not even you. Someone feels that you symbolize what's wrong with their world. It's a "THEM" problem that they've made YOUR Problem. How do we tell our kids that their opinions matter while letting them know that others are free to have differing opinions. We can peacefully agree to disagree. No need to hurt me or others. Looking for something to undo or cause destruction to someone else is predatory. No one is safe from you.
The person that screams "bomb" or "Fire" in a crowded room, inciting a riot or causes a stampede is prosecuted but when it comes to destroying your life, you're not a person, you're an agenda.
Cancel Culture is dangerous. Cancel Culture is manipulative, destructive, elitist and borderline sociopathic. But no one says that. It becomes a wave of attacks that can destroy everything that you have worked for.
The thing is, these people have nothing to lose so you they come for you. I saw a popular actress wearing a red hat symbolizing Women's Heart Health. In the comments, there was a heated debate of the red hat. My eyes grew bigger and I was like, "this is insanity." Her wearing a red hat for a good cause is to be marred because of public opinion. People's entire careers rest in the hands of trolls with no posts, handful of ideals and self-importance issues.
I believe that if you need mental help, please seek it. Before you press the send button, ask yourself why. People that sit at a table of visibility doesn't make it right for you to make into a mission to take them down. The bigger the person, the bigger the target. I tell myself that it's all attraction, ignore them, they go away. Except they don't do that to you. They make sure that the world doesn't forget or forgive you. If another person takes an opinion opposite them, now YOU ARE THE PROBLEM and now you're cancelled. They even turn against each other. Then we have celebrities taking their lives or ending up hurting themselves. People are censored, condemned and protested against and actively blacklisted because someone felt like God that day.
I don't believe in giving people power over my life. I have worked so hard to get to where I am and refuse to put myself in a position for someone to take it away from me. So here I am staying neutral, like many people because I know the power of the keyboard. I live here. Except, I choose to educate, help and show love. It doesn't matter if you choose to learn with or from me or not, I'm still not taking anything from you. If perchance, you find out something that you don't like about me, mind your business and leave me alone. Keep scrolling. I will not be a party to your madness. I will not be bullied.
You can't pour from an empty cup. We all do it. Give energy and resources that we honestly don't have. After doing that (and burning out several times) I've come up with a new philosophy for myself. "You'll get there Birdie, one moment, one day at a time." Simple, right?
That's the other piece of the philosophy, it's by "Shifting Up."
To shift by definition, is a slight change in emphasis, direction or focus.
By shifting up, you make small changes towards a better life. That's what I'm committed to. So I won't stay away that long again but there are so many small changes that I've made already and I'm so ready to share them with you.
I even made you an activity book. It has small messages and pictures to color and I'm proud of it. I used some characters from my books and prints from my yoga mat line. Yes yoga mats!
(Told you that I was busy)
Visit the BirdBam Shop to see what else we're up to.
Yes, he has built his career with Madea, a pistol packing, abrasive no-nonsense woman with stereotypical toxic behaviors but still relatable grandmother figure. A long ignored truth is that black women aren't feeling protected in our communities. It is no secret that black women are silenced, with our health, our children, our men, out in the workforce. We get called bitches for having power in our voices, people tremble and call us toxic when we stand up for ourselves. We want to be there for our men but the truth is, a lot of black men don't know how to love us. And that's because generation after the generation has conditioned black men into thinking that 'taking the path of least resistance" includes excluding Black women altogether, because we're hard to love. Until recently, the beauty in us was no where to be found because of certain hues in our skin and textures of our hair. All of these things have been instilled us as young girls and shaped us into the women we are. Black women have cried in the dark with stories to tell but ignored because we were taught that women stay in horrible relationships for the long term "as long as he comes home to us", "the kids need their father", "there's a man shortage" and other toxic fallacies.
If you've followed Mr. Perry from early in his career, he appealed to Black Women because that's who he spoke to. And although he was a man, dressed in a wig, Madea was a protector of sorts, a sage, a confidant. We felt the soul singing, women crying at rock bottom, because they were real stories. The black women in his audiences were the 'faithful and true' and clearly knew the message. We were heard. He coated the harsh truths with laughs because it needed to palatable and after those 2 1/2 hours, you felt better about what has happened and that something that gave you a pinch of hope.
#2 Complaint: "His work doesn't help the community." "It's stereotypical and hurts us."
Through his own humble beginnings on the 'chitlin' play circuit' he helped exposed the 'secret ills' of the black community. Incest, domestic violence, the prison system, abuse. Those plays showed how the love of self and/or the love of a man or the love a woman can make the world of difference. There's hope in your faith, to whomever your deity is. Even Madea showed women how to speak up for themselves. I know that at some of my lows, I could pop in a play and with a laughs and tears, I felt lifted up. I know several people that did.
Even his beginning TV shows lasted several seasons and years. Some won't give credit but his shows showed how the crack generation hurt black families, applauded single fathers, highlighted broken families that showed pain, showed that foster children deserve love and attention. He showed positive black families with flawed personalities but full of love. Although people may not like it, his movies and shows that people complain about also has massive following. People watch and keep him on the air.
#3 Complaint: "He needs new writers." He keeps writing the same thing over and over."
Perhaps. Maybe. Ok, as a writer myself, it's perhaps the only one that I may partially agree with. But I will tell you, as an entrepreneur with skin in the game for several years, I've learned that you cannot take everyone with you and you can't bring people into your space when you create. Creators create. In my book company, I personally do not publish other people. My company, my prerogative. I understand that he has a trillion stories to tell so he tells them. He hires many people to carry out his vision and has a HUGE following that still watches his shows. Love his content or hate it, you still watch him and/or talk about him. His company, his prerogative. Perhaps he'll hire a content advisor if he chooses to, but he's going to keep creating his stuff. You don't like it? Don't watch or give it attention. It's if the formula doesn't work anymore, is the only way that someone like Mr. Perry would change the formula for. Let's be real, if the formula works and keeps viewers, it's a proven formula that works. If it works, why should he change it?
#4 Complaint: "He's hogging all of the opportunities for other people."
Au Contraire! He hires the old and forgotten, new never heard of and even current actors. He's faithful to the people that he's worked with from the beginning, they stay employed. Same with producers and directors. I'm a black woman in the film industry so this is hopeful. When he opened his studios and I saw films being made that Hollywood wouldn't bat an eye at, get made. Great Movies. Box Office hit movies. Movies that made A LOT of money. His studio creates opportunities for many people of all races. His doors are open.
Eventually, I want my BirdBam Studios to make our own films. Through his example, he gave filmmakers a footprint. 1. Make your own stuff, you can do it. 2. Don't take no for an answer, you can do it. And 3. If you can't get an opportunity, make them for yourself. You can do it. Sometimes it's an unpopular route. Sometimes it's a man in a bad wig. I love Madea for everything that she symbolized for me, as do so many other people. I got the messages that I needed.
Tyler Perry is a smart and resourceful. Anyone who complains either needs to tune into something else, let him fade into their version of obscurity. Or they need to make their own films, create their own following and tell their own stories. It's easy to aim when there's a big target to hit. But the same people that complain about Tyler Perry don't really see the vision. And that's OK. If he never writes another thing, the legacy that he's built in the film industry is better than any example that I've ever seen so far.
Now I'm seeing well intentioned posts that wonderful people are offering a shoulder to cry on. We love you very much but...
1. Depressed people don't want to stay there. It is a painful place to be. So unless you're a professional, talking about it with you is not the way to help us long term. Sometimes we're in a dark place and we don't even know why.
2. Depression is not a mood. It is not a feeling. It cannot be relieved with a vent or a rant. It's well-meaning to empathize but it may end up being toxic for both of us. You can't be sick enough to make us well. It is darkness. So being a light is the best way to bring someone out of the dark. So you can't jump into a hole to get us both out.
Now, your intentions are great and we love you so please know:
3. It's not personal. How we feel has nothing, nothing to do with you. So being with you cannot be our solution or savior. It's not fair to you to pull you into our darkness. Just be light, be a path to light. Sometimes we'll reject the light, please respect that too. If we can't be in the light, let us go. But don't let us stay there.
4. Pity Parties Suck! So please don't make it hard for us to be with you. We both can't be negative and feel better. It's like the blind leading the blind. Let's not do that.
5. Being sad is not depression. Some people are going through a phase. You can't diagnose it in someone else, just be a friend to your friend if they're having a tough time. Tough times can be a prerequisite to depression. It's like living the shorter term tough times until it hurts, long term with no help in sight. Everyone needs a friend so if you see someone having a tough time, see how you can help with a solution or resource.
6. Also, being a toxic person may be an subconscious action to someone, but in trying to understand depression, should be a deep enough conversation for all of us to be intentional in how our energy is given and received. Pay attention to your own energy, you may be a trigger for negativity that spirals downward.
Days may be hard, but let's try not to stay there. A bad day doesn't make for depression.
5. Depression is a pain that we cannot explain. All a depressed person wants is to not be in pain anymore. That's the part that's so hard to understand. Depression is a chronic condition, not a mood easily changed.
I find myself on the end of a lot of toxic conversations because I'm easy to talk to. Truth is, it's draining. But I've learned how to protect my energy in regards to others, some aren't so fortunate. If you can't take care of yourself and how you feel, you can't help us. Take care of yourself first, check on us when you can handle it.
We'll want to be alone sometimes, respect it. Just check in once in a while, invite us for coffee or take a walk. Not to talk, but just be there.
We want love, understanding and patience, so please don't try to fix us. Just be a friend, if we need to vent, listen for a little, then steer the convo positively.
We love you and thank you for your support and well intentions. Best of all, Thank you for being a friend.
And all Sandra Bland did was not properly signal, get stopped for it and "sass" Officer at the time, Brian Encinia.
How dare Sandra Bland not respect him? How dare Sandra Bland get sassy with that officer! He's got a badge!
How dare Sandra Bland have ever wanted to die in her past!
How dare Sandra Bland ever get depressed in her past!
How dare Sandra Bland have weed in her system!
How dare Sandra Bland be a woman!
How dare Sandra Bland be a *gasp* black woman!
How dare Sandra Bland drive a car!
How dare Sandra Bland live!
How dare Sandra Bland die in police custody?
How dare she!
I just hope that police officers, state government, federal government and all of the rest of us remember that.
I named my book after a moment in time that I really didn't feel good about myself. I was tired, broke and sad.
I was at a party and was so uncomfortable already with the crazy events at the party. It was ugly, me and 2 other exes were at the party. I tried to play it cool, but I got a hot flash. I rushed into a room, and while taking off my sweater, my shirt caught onto my sweater and for a millisecond, my stomach was exposed. I quickly put it down but when I turned my head, my son's father was standing in the doorway and had caught it. He had this look on his face that unnerved me.
We were in a bad place at this point with a custody battle and residuals of messiness at the party, the look of disgust on his face when I looked at him showed me how I felt about myself. I was so unhappy and didn't like myself. I wasn't even conscious that I felt that way about myself.
He doesn't remember this instance to this moment and to his defense, sometimes people aren't aware of what their expressions look like to others add onto my own insecurities and it's a powder keg of emotions. With what was going on between us as it was had me in a dark place, his face showed me insecurities that I didn't know that I had. I thought I was proud of my body and was definitely high and mighty, but at that moment I literally felt like Saggy Boobs, Stretch Marks and Saddlebags.
Since then, I've sunken deeper into self pity and pulled myself right back out! But it was a great journey back to myself and I wanted to share it with you. The book is now available on Amazon.
Last night, I cried proud tears when Frances McDormand stood up with pride amongst women in Hollywood and told the seated men to think of and include these women when they negotiate their contracts. I was so happy. I knew that she included me. Then I saw black women on twitter say, “Well how does Inclusion Riders help other black women?” I felt a punch in the gut.
We saw firsthand what inclusion rider was when Jessica Chastain did it for Octavia Spencer. They were negotiating with the studio to make their own movie. Because Jessica stood with Octavia, Octavia got 5 times more than she would have gotten. That was with Jessica just to just have equal pay. Yes, Equal Pay.
On one hand, I see what the women on Twitter meant, because in our experience, it has been proven that black women shattering the glass ceiling is even harder than it is for a white woman, let alone any man of any color.
It’s been our experience that the world still doesn’t know a women’s worth. Unspoken (or spoken) actions had us question our own worth to the point that we didn’t know what ask for. We would come to the table and hope that our accolades and awards would speak for us instead of having to spout about our accomplishments, even be accused of “bragging”.
For black women, we’d be criticized for not “knowing our place”, because when we’ve demanded fair treatment, our attitude and approach is called hostile and confrontational. We’d all be left to ask, “Why can’t others see our worth? And if that’s the case, how can we see our own in this day and age?” When no one will hire you, because your price is too high, we are then left to second-guess ourselves.
I lived this on many occasions. When my last boss told me flat out that he didn’t see my value, I left my job. It hurt because I loved my job but he did me a favor. I saw my own value, so I left to do what made me happy and valued. That’s because I know what I bring to the table. I knew that I was supposed to be the one to provide the jobs and opportunities.
Sometimes, coming into any industry is like being a kid and others don’t want to play with you on the playground so you make your own game, with your own rules. You can’t cry about it, you keep moving forward, maybe the others will join you, maybe they won’t.
Now, it may seem naive to some, but I personally don’t see color as I move in industries. I’m in film, books and in the music industries, all male dominated but I never thought about color when it came to women. I see a sisterhood. Because when it came time for others to include me, I included myself. No one asked me why I was there. I showed up. I taught myself that if the powers that be won’t include you at the table, sit down anyway and shine. That includes my fellow black women. Problem is, that us black people have grown up in scarcity and lack for so long that we really feel like other successful black people should include us. It’s not fair to reason that way for them and we are doing ourselves a great disservice with that thinking. While no one “owes us anything”, it would be nice to have inclusion for other women like me that are making things happen.
So I make this clear: I am a black woman that refuses to stay seated when it’s time for women to stand up. All women are included. So take your space at the table. Or we can make a table and include others. Either way, let’s pull together and bring each other in so we can all go up together as sisters. There’s strength in numbers. Thanks Frances.