I recently had a conversation with a friend who told me an uncomfortable truth about myself: basically, I’m an unreasonable bitch. Anytime someone does something to hurt me, whether intentional or not, I feel justified reacting as harshly as I can and will NOT hear anything about it. Why? Because they did ME wrong. So I can respond however I see fit, right? And if anybody tells me I’m wrong, I shut down on them. I pride myself in being extremely self-aware, so of course I knew she was telling no lies. However, before I could defensively inform her that this wasn’t news, she followed up with “You’ll say you know, but you never actually do better.”
After the initial dose of truth, my friend simply suggested that I grow up and handle conflict with some emotional maturity. I, of course, did not appreciate this and responded with a half-assed silent treatment (because she offered me food soon after) that lasted the rest of the night. But as soon as she told me this, I couldn’t pretend it wasn’t true. Every single word of it. I hated hearing it and I wanted to hate her for saying it. How dare she have the nerve to read me to ME? It hurt because I know I’m not perfect, but I spend ample time trying to hide that truth from other people. Obviously, my slip slipped.
So of course, I had to do some self-assessing. I did the following checklist to measure just how ridiculous I am:
Am I sometimes overly sensitive to the actions of others?
Do I punish people for not responding to my feelings the way I want them to?
Do I always communicate these feelings to others?
Do I always take the time to understand the perspectives of others?
Am I sometimes selfish?
Do I honestly expect people to accept the worst of me?
Am I willing to be better?
No, I’m perfect
Do I want to be alone because I’m too stubborn to be better?
Is it really?
Do I really value my relationships with the people in my life?
Do I trust my loved ones to forgive my shortcomings?
I did not enjoy hearing the truth, but I hated the thought of losing my friend even more. She wasn’t the first person to point out where I lack in relationships. Other people and situations have shown me my flaws many times, but I didn’t take the lessons because I couldn’t see past my own ego. I took any form of criticism as an attack or “hating”. My constant conflict was everybody’s fault but mine. But if I keep finding myself in the same situations having the same feelings with people telling me the same things, I must have some work to do.
Even as a kid, my mother would tell me I had an attitude problem that would cause me issues as I got older. I told myself she just didn’t like me and was hating. When I got older and started losing friends because of it, I told myself they just weren’t good friends. When it caused me problems in my romantic relationships, I told myself the person for me wouldn’t offend me in the first place. As time went by, I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t as good of a friend/family member/partner as I thought, but people wouldn’t tell me to my face because they knew how I’d respond. Lord, I became the girl you can’t say nothing to! I feel ashamed of that because the people around me deserve a better me and I deserve to be in healthy relationships. However, my relationships can’t be healthy if I refuse to quit my own unhealthy behavior.
To me, hearing that I was wrong meant my feelings weren’t valid. I had to learn that my hurt feelings did not justify my hurtful actions. I am learning that there are alternatives. Instead of lashing out at or dismissing people, I can simply say “You hurt me, and I didn’t like that.” I absolutely owe my gratitude and an open apology to every friend, partner, and family member who has tolerated my disrespect and childish behavior because they loved me. I am forever grateful for those who stayed in my life because they see my heart and believe that I can be better.
No more bullshit justifications!
So girl, I appreciate you telling me the truth. I needed to hear it, and I’m a better woman because of it.
The Tuesday of September 11, 2001 created a national day of remembrance in addition to a shift in the movement of American (and global) culture.
I was six years old when the buildings crumbled. I remember an aunt coming to pick me up from school early. Her words, “We have to go. They bombin’ buildins.” At the time, I was extremely terrified and didn’t really understand what was happening. What I did understand was the global outrage and fear that fell upon the nation. I watched the crumble of buildings, the explosion of rubble, and frantic people running on the television screen. This played on a continuous loop for almost two days. There was general panic in my household. Talk of the apocalypse was reoccurring. “This is it,” my grandmother said repeatedly, “Our last days. He comin’ back like a thief in the night. We livin’ in our last days. This done kicked it off.” As a kid, with the continuous loop and the constant mention of “he comin’ back,” I too grew weary and anxious. There was an eerie silence accompanied by heightened sense of doom. The doom, however, was not the foreshadowing of future attacks on major cities but the attack of major communities/populations in the country (and out of the country).
Aside from the news and the feelings that followed 9/11, I remember the culture of revenge and anger that grew, especially toward people perceived as “middle eastern”. Even the phrase, “Never Forget,” sends a wave of distress to my mind. Of course, we should not forget the lives lost and honor them. But we should not use their deaths and injuries as a ploy for patriotism, war, and national racism. Nationally, we bought into the idea of a sorrowful, destroyed, and wounded country. Although the country was wounded and sullen, we didn’t use this opportunity to create cohesion and true appreciation for our citizens. Instead, the nation drafted “The War on Terrorism.” (The idea and language which was arguably borrowed from ‘The War on Drugs’ ). We bought into hypocritical ideology created by white supremacy that encouraged domestic terrorism on South Asian, Arab, and Muslims communities. All this under the guise of patriotism.
Not even Black communities were immune to the virus of patriotic rhetoric being spread through out the media. I remember teachers and adults in my community repeatedly using the words terrorists in connection with specific people. They would joke about not going to 7/11 because terrorists worked there and even grew cautious around people they perceived as people “looking like terrorists.” This caution coincided with prejudice. And so it had begun, the revenge culture. The shunning culture. The Xenophobic culture. The Islamophobic culture. The anti-Immigrant culture.
We devoured the idea of “one nation, under God,” so much so that war propaganda was able to be pushed into the forefront of our minds. Encouraging people to go to war, destroy foreign countries, and be proud because this would make you an American hero. The tragedy and loss of life was being used (and is still used) as a reason to be extremely racist and unwelcoming to immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries.
After 9/11, the federal government changed the way in which the country moved- ignoring domestic terrorist and hate crimes – especially within travel and immigration. For example, The USA Patriot Act, National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, and Special Registration program are initiatives aimed at “stopping terrorism” but really have affected large South Asian, Arab, and Muslim communities. These government policies leaned on creating hysteria surrounding “The War on Terrorism.” The constraints of these policies included things like men above a certain age registering with the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) from specific countries to somehow weed out terrorists.
In tandem with these policies and the rhetoric were hate crimes. Alongside people being attacked on the streets, mosques were burned, Islamic schools received death threats, personal property vandalized, and businesses were burned. Incidents liked these are still happening in this decade.
Even our pop culture took part in the conversation on terrorism. There was valiance displayed as well as “poking fun at ‘terrorism’. ” This really means poking fun at people we think are terrorist under the guise of patriotism but it really is racism or Islamophobia. Jeff Dunham and his puppet come to mind especially. I will not include a clip or name the puppet, however, the character was a dead suicide bomber with a terrible accident. Before that, of course South Park created an episode depicting Osama Bin Laden as a bumbling idiot and planting an American flag in foreign soil. Even a Marvel comic depicted a national tragedy that brought heroes and villains together. In the comic, the characters are so moved by the tragedy that even Dr. Doom cries. Pop Culture didn’t really show many positive or realistic images of people who weren’t white before 9/11. After 9/11, it seemed to maneuver in an odd way either vilifying, exploiting the national melancholy, or creating a heroic American image. Unfortunately, with every hero comes a villain. 9/11 created villains and an “enemy.” Not only heroes, angry Americans, and “the enemy;” we created scarred veterans and severed global relationships.
The second Tuesday of September 2001 created a national tragedy that spiraled into a culture of anger and revenge. The country was able to manipulate its entire population. Looking back, of course we would have wanted to prevent people dying and people being injured. We would have wanted to prevent sending more citizens to war. As a country, our biggest regret should be swallowing and consuming propaganda that promoted hate and pushed xenophobia and Islamophobia.
With more research, awareness, and the realization of the error of our ways, I hope we can create a better society moving forward.
There took some research to craft this piece. I will list some of the links below:
On a brisk November night, a friend texted me, asking me to attend a concert. I was taken aback because usually concerts require ticket money and vast preparation for a concert outfit. I was skeptical until she said, “It’s low key and a folky kind of band.” Instantly, I was intrigued.
It was a short walk to a tiny record store in Station North. The venue, intimate, was crowded yet clear enough to see a full view of Fast Car Slow Car. The lead singer- a twin, who is also in the band- is the definition of a carefree Black boy. His voice is husky. His husky voice paired with the light euphoric playing of the keys creates another world for the listener. In other words, some songs make you feel like you’re floating to another planet. Some songs make you want to just close your eyes and be absorbed by the sound. It’s a good time listening to the guys. The sound is a fusion of folk and electro- a pleasant fusion. The band is an eclectic mix of styles, personalities, and talents. The sound is soothing yet mystical to listen to and the live experience was amazing.
When watching the band live, I forgot I was in a small record store. I forgot I wasn’t in a large venue or that I was surrounded by vinyl and retro 70s funk records. The band has big energy, big talent, and a big sense of humor. Fortunately, they are humble, sensible humans that were easy to talk to.
After the show, I had the pleasure of kicking back with the band in a pool hall/bar. Here is where I kind of forgot that they were musicians and just down to earth guys. We chatted about music, flawed school systems, and traveling across state lines to pursue music.
Read our Q&A with Fast Car Slow Car below:
Tell us about the band. Who are you guys? What are your names?
Hello, we’re a new band called Fast Car Slow Car from Philadelphia. Prolly played our first show full band about 5 months ago. And as for members we got Alex Held on keys, Breshon Martzall on vocals, Gabe Rosen on drums, John DiCocco on Guitar, Keondre Martzall on keys and percussion and for the show y’all caught we had our friend Shawn Fitzgerald filling in on bass.
What does artistry and music mean to you all?
Honestly, it’s hard to know what it means to everyone in the band but at this point makin/playin music is the only thing we know lol. Hopefully that doesn’t ruin the magic. We’ve all been doin music so long.
Where does the name of your band come from?
The name of the band comes from a Tracy Chapman song.
How did you guys meet?
Good ol’ Philadelphia. Breshon and Dre are twins so that might go back a bit further.
What inspires your sound?
Movies? Skateboarding? Love? Other music less than you’d think.
What inspires you to do music and create a band?
I think we’re all chasing a check. Time to take it to the bank.
What do you want people to get from your music?
It’d be cool if our music made other people want to make music. Then we can all play producers on those records when we’re washed up.
Describe your tour experience. How long have you been touring? What was your favorite city?
Our tours are great, we’re all real good friends who like to party and skate. So it’s usually a pretty good time. We’ve only done about a week with this band but hopefully we do a longer one soon. Chicago and Baltimore are tight!
What is the best and worse thing about being in a band?
Best thing is making something your proud of! Worst thing is bein broke and hungry.
What’s your craziest tour story?
Hmm we got booed for a whole set by a small biker gang, then we went to square up but they weren’t with it. I don’t think they took us very seriously, lol. But not too many crazy tour stories yet hopefully next time!
How does being from Philly effect your music or your image?
Everyday we struggle if we should sound like Hall and Oates of Meek Mill. But we can never decide so we meet in the middle with Lil Uzi.
Where do you see yourselves in 3 years?
In three years hopefully a headlining tour! That’d be really cool.
If you could solve any problems in the world what is would they be and why?
Oh man that question is loaded. I’d say if you could get a time machine and eradicate colonialism we’d have a lot less problems to fix. But that’s not possible so let’s start with bringing back the old butterfingers recipe. It tastes different I can tell.
What is something that music or artistry is lacking right now?
More records on tape.
Anything else you want us to know about you guys?
We are all good friends who love each other. And Dre has a crush on the Wendy’s girl.
Although It’s the end of August and the performative parade of appreciation of Pride has long ended, we need to talk about the intersection of Blackness and the LGBTQ+ community. We need to acknowledge boys, girls, non-binary, and trans people who love other girls, boys, non-binary, and trans people. More importantly, we need to realize much of the groundwork done in our communities has been done by Black LGBTQ+ people.
June is Pride month. In that month, we see a confetti like burst of “solidarity” for LGBTQ+/ same gender loving folks. When the rainbow confetti is swept away and the flag flooded with colors comes down, it leaves the question of “so now what?” Especially after the continued and senseless violence enacted upon transwomen and the erasure of transmen.
Before any of you decide to snub your nose at celebrating pride or LGBTQ people, ask yourself these questions:
“Do I love to watch Pose or RuPaul’s drag race?”
“Do I say shade, read, the gag?”
“Do I sympathize with civil or uncivil disobedience?”
“Do I say sickening? Do I say realness, fish, or serving?”
If you answered yes to any of those questions then welcome to the celebration because you owe all of those things to the community. Especially the Black LGBTQ community!
Black people are trendsetters. We are the backbone of this society and have worked to create a culture that is our own. In doing that, Black LGBTQ+ people created a culture because there was a divide created in our community. Black people have adopted patriarchy and other Eurocentric ideals that have damaged our relationships with each other. We have othered a group of people within our community. Eurocentrism promotes othering and having a lower group to enact power over. Eurocentrism also encourages heteronormative societies while establishing gender roles to be followed. When we have people who don’t fit that structure, othering happens.
“Disagreeing with their lifestyle,” is an invalid, ignorant statement. A lifestyle is a choice. A lifestyle is something you can change. It’s a way of “styling” your life. Health and fitness is a lifestyle. Being “outdoorsy” is a lifestyle. LGBTQ+ people don’t go through life as heterosexual, then randomly one day wake up and say, “… it’s Saturday. I think … I think I’m going to be gay today.” That’s not how it works. People usually know they aren’t heterosexual or cisgendered early in their lives. We usually ignore children or shame them into hiding their true selves. We must stop this. We are causing detriments in our culture and denying the importance of our people in history when we do. We can’t beat, pray, or force people to change who they are to make others comfortable and we shouldn’t want to.
They are several people that made contributions in our community that are Black and LGBTQ+ . We have:
•Marsha P. Johnson
There are so many more people that we could and should acknowledge in our community that created space and opportunity for Black people. We need to stop othering and exile homophobia from our communities and our lives. We should not be asking Black people to choose between their identities because intersectionality exist. Stop asking, “Are you Black first or are you [insert orientation or gender identity] first?” Learn the difference between orientation and gender. Learn/ educate yourself on the topic of gender or the social construct that it is. Your opinions about a person’s preferred pronoun doesn’t matter. Call them by their preferred pronouns.
We have many issues plaguing our communities. It’s time to retire homophobia and transphobia.