aspartame appreciation or, fake sugar makes for bad coffee.

*this goes out to my Aunt Norris, who made her
journey home two days ago, and would add her
two cents without fail on this subject. she
was always one who called it like she saw it.
even if she never failed to call someone on
their BS. rest in power, lady.*

it goes without saying that people are
vigorously trying to keep it as natural
as possible in their lives. that finds
some heavy corroboration in food. you
probably know at least one person in
your immediate circle who rails against
artificial sweeteners and substances.
aspartame jumps to the head of the line
without fail. it’s kind of the ‘it’
artificial substance that many can agree
is bad for you.

but…

if people are so against artificiality
in their foods, why do they cling to it
in their own lives? why are they drawn
to using it as a tool of defining their
own personality?

okay, this is the part where you are
more than likely doing a double take as
you look at the screen. bear with me.
there are some of us, for different
reasons, who choose to willingly put on
an air of artificial sweetness to people.
you may have come in contact with it –
they are quick to shower you with the
‘honeys’ every third to fifth word or
heap a lot of overt friendliness that
might not fit like pants after a holiday
meal. sometimes you see that more when
the person may have done or said something
out of order. or their behavior towards
you has been flaky or subliminally
disrespectful. i have dealt with one or
two people like that from time to time.
it’s unavoidable to a point for a reason.
these people are employing appreciation
like it’s aspartame. add a bit here and
there and whatever the problem is for
them disappears. or so they hope. this
also applies to people who suddenly make
themselves total experts on human issues
online. it’s even worse when they don’t
even make an effort to be consistently
compassionate beforehand. you know the
ones: they’ll post a hundred links on
something, rail against others as to why
they’re not doing anything(anything
meaning listen to them stroke their ego
like customers in a peep show booth
and/or share the same link from a website
that could be debunked by a 6 year old
with an iPad)and then not provide follow-ups
or comment on something so tedious.

yes, these are people who feel that
artificial sweetness works for them. they
do it to cover up flaws in their persona
they don’t want to work on just yet,
or that they don’t want you to see out
in the open. they do it because they
like the buttress of being seen a certain
way, not realizing their truths can and
will weigh that facade they encourage
down. of course, you tell them that,
they immediately revert to the defenses
of ego we all have. accusations that
you’re being phony. saying that all these
other people(some of who they do the same
thing to but they are oblivious or accept
it)would prove you wrong. when you get
real hooked on fake sugar, it can be as
hard to get off of as cocaine.

all i can say is, if you spot it early,
keep that aspartame appreciation OUT of
your immediate cipher. with a vengeance.
it rots you from the inside and can make
you crave it at the expense of everything
that is real and true about you. and once
you get a cavity of the spirit like that,
it’s even more arduous to fill in as
opposed to all the work that you would
have done to fortify it with honest
personality in the first place. so, do
yourself a favor: check those people
that look to give you nothing but fake
sugar. it’s bad for your life as well as
your coffee.

thanks for reading. until the next time…

the ‘r’ word

it’s a clear, crisp Sunday morning that shines
a bit less through my window as i write this.
i write this the day after another botched
verdict in the state of Florida came to pass.
i write this the day after Michael Dunn got
time in prison for missing three other Black
teens in a car with his gun, but not for the
actual murder of Jordan Davis. it would have
been Jordan’s birthday today. i’m writing to
get this malaise alleviated, the nausea that
rose when the verdict came down. the nausea
that came as i watched Jordan’s parents do
the same thing Trayvon Martin’s parents did,
the same thing Renisha McBride’s parents did
and TOO MANY Black and Brown parents have done.
put on the noble face of respectability and
grace. it is what we have done in this country
since it was born. one imagines Crispus Attucks’
relatives would have done the same.

the face of ‘respectability’ in grief. it
makes respectability a slur. picture it –
millions of parents of color have to work
to ensure that their child or children are
seen as ‘respectable’ once they go out in
the word. they have to police their children.
POLICE THEIR CHILDREN. pay heed to that
phrase. and it starts from when you’re young.
how many of you reading this have had to
hear from your folks, ‘don’t be common’.
in those terms or others? and it’s all
because time and time again, our youth and
our folks have been murdered. seen as trifles
in the eyes of the system dedicated to
protect and serve white privilege. what
good is respectability when you have these
devilish individuals, out of fear systemically
and self-imposed, feeling as if they have
due course to take YOUR life on a whim?
you know, it used to make me extremely
pissed. because they’ll deflect it if you
challenge them head on. they’ll trot out
the ‘Black On Black crime’ deflection.
use codified language like ‘thug’ or ‘urban’
to hide what they really mean to say you
are. yet if there’s anything that’s been
more thuggish, it has been privileged,
race-based supremacy and domestic terrorism
supported by flawed laws. what good is
respectability when they’ve proven over
and over again that they DON’T RESPECT
YOU?

i write this, and ask these questions,
because i know all too well that there will
be generations after me that will ask the
same thing. i know that i have godchildren,
cousins, a nephew, future children i may
have that will look to me to decipher this.
to decipher the hieroglyphics of a hatred
that they can’t comprehend is directed at
them from the moment their first cries are
uttered. and yet, respectability will be
the fall back. it is an unwieldy and
sometimes unrealistic tool. but it is a
tool that we have to use to survive and
in due time, to live. one can easily
say’ to hell with it’. but the costs are
too great. especially now. let’s face it,
having a Black president has exacerbated
the issue. You may have your particular
thoughts about this president. But what
has happened to Trayvon, Renisha, Jordan
and countless others since 2008 is this:
there are those who do possess a fear of
a planet that doesn’t look like them or
what they hoped it would be. and these
executions of fear take place. we may dance
about race like a maypole at a picnic,
but it is an inherent American illness.
(and remember, Black folks used to be
lynched at picnics.) it’s an illness we
not only have to honestly confront, but
to pick apart to cure.

respectability. the ‘r’ word. it is not
a comfort when in spite of it, lives are
taken from us. yet you will hear it
tossed about again and again.

peace, and thanks for reading. until
the next time…