Thoughts on Life-Headed Into 2018: Each New Year Gives Us a New Opportunity to Eat the Cake and Be Present

When I was 20 and 30 I never imagined I would grow old(er). I was too busy with my life to have such concerns. I was young, sexy and fly; I was a career woman and a mother of 4 children; I was a wife, a student, a reader, party girl, and a troubled soul. I was on my journey. I was busy doing me. Who has time for such worries at that age?

When we are in college, starting careers, dealing with our relationships, and later our marriages, at the club, caught up in our drama, busy raising kids, and doing our thing, we never think we will grow old. Nor do we think anything will happen to us. We aren’t thinking retirement, illness or the impact of divorce. We just lived and had fun!

One of the things that 2017 gave me, was the chance to turn 54. I don’t feel like I’m 54, but it’s real. I’m a grown ass woman! I’m wondering where the years went, and what the future holds. Today, all of it’s on my mind(see above). Not in a bad way, but it’s on my mind.

That said, I’m grateful to be here and to be “holding up”, but make no mistake, time keeps ticking “into the future”, as the song says. Eventually, father time and mother nature win. In the meantime, I plan to seize my moments.

Know this: you will never be as young as you are right now. Enjoy each age that you are blessed to be. Each year, that you are blessed to see. Tomorrow is not promised.

Leave nothing on the table. Be present. Love hard. Dance like no-one is watching. Use the good China, and spray on the good perfume. Eat the cake! Wear the fancy dress and the expensive suit. Buy the “red bottoms” and wear them! Say what you need to say. Take the trip. Kiss the guy or girl (with consent of course). Play the music. Make the call! Wear the red matte lipstick! Love on your parents and family. Smile! And take the selfies! Capture the moments!

Remember Amanda Davis(the ATL news anchor) was at the airport the other day, headed to see her family and attend a funeral in another state, when she had a massive stroke at the airport, she later passed away at the hospital. Instantly! Just like that! Here one minute, gone the next. I’m struggling with that. She was 62!

Anyway…

Cherish your life, and love on the people who matter. Go into 2018 on fire and present! YOLO!

By Rhonda E. Frost

12/30/2017

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I’m Not Racist, I’m Woke-Pt 1: Close Out Thoughts on America and Social Justice for 2017

by

Rhonda E. Frost

I’m not racist, I’m woke. Like Francis Maxwell, Shaun King, Ta-Nehisi Coates, D.L. Hughley and Colin Kaepernick, woke. I haven’t been sleep on social injustice issues ever and I won’t pretend to be now. I read the news daily. I pay attention to social issues. I live a black life. I follow the blogs of people like Tim Wise. I am a fan of the work of¬† James Baldwin, I too, Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I read Maya Angleou and follow Ava DuVernay,¬†to name a few.

Reading changed my life and opened my eyes to social injustice in a broader sense, but seeing what happens to black and brown people year after year, keeps them open. Here is an update to a prior post-these are my close out thoughts on being “woke” in 2017, from a social justice view.

I was the first black kid in my family and thus the oldest of the black kids. I grew up in Del Paso Heights, California,(DPH for those of us from there) the “neighborhood” by all accounts. I know the “hard knocks” life, I was a mother of 2 daughters by age 17(Shanae and Janelle). Growing up in our childhood home and neighborhood, I was exposed to¬† every dysfunction known to the hood life: Drug abuse, poverty, lack of direction, absent fathers, domestic violence, brothers in and out of prison(my youngest brother is currently serving “life” and didn’t kill anyone-the result of a bad decision, poor man’s justice-and Clinton’s “get tough on crime” laws).

I grew up using food-stamps-that Monopoly looking money. I remember being ashamed to go to the grocery store with that booklet because I knew the people behind me in line would know I was on “aid” and poor. Coming home from school, we never knew if the lights and gas would be on or off, because¬†my hard working single mother¬†couldn’t pay the bills all the time. I could go on, but that’s not the purpose of this post. Besides anyone who has ever been poor and/or black gets it. That is the background from whence I came.

Regarding being “woke”…

Being “woke” means, being keenly aware of injustice(no matter your race). It means your¬†eyes are open, that you are socially conscious, and clear on how mass incarceration disproportionately impacts black and brown people and aware of¬†its relationship to slavery,¬†it means that one pays attention to “dog whistle” words. and sees divisive politics clearly.¬†It’s understanding what “white privilege” means, and knowing it’s real. This is not an all encompassing definition, it’s the Rhonda Frost definition. It captures the meaning in essence, for the purposes of understanding.

I watched the Rodney King beating on our Los Angeles, California streets in 1991. I was 28 years old. In April of 1992, I, with all of America, witnessed the verdict of “not guilty” for all the officers that we saw (on video),¬†beat him.¬†And we also¬†witnessed the riots that followed in that city, on Florence and Normandie, in particular. That was our introduction to seeing police brutality on video in my home state. We knew abuse of power and police brutality existed, we just hadn’t seen it locally on¬†television quite like that. Our community lived it on the daily, but that video gave it to us up close and personal.¬†I can’t unsee that. It was indisputable. I was incensed by this case.

If you read what I write or post on social media, especially during 2017, as it relates to injustice in America, one might wonder if I am racist. I am not.

I have white friends(no, for real, I do). I have white people who I love dearly and respect. And I’m not just saying that to make you comfortable. My biological mom Bonnie, is white. Like blonde hair, green eyes, pale skin, white. She was born in 1941 in Denver Colorado. She met my black father in 1961. She gave birth to me in 1963. She put her life (and status as a white woman) in danger to date my black father and birth his child. I’ve heard what she went through in society and in her own family because of her decision to “mix races”. Though she too must have had “white privilege,” I don’t know if she felt it or saw it. I certainly don’t remember any good from her privilege.¬†Our experience was black. Our neighbors were black. Our schools were black. Our¬†reality, black. But yeah, my dear mom is white.

I credit my Mom for showing us what courage looks like, for raising us color aware and color blind at the same time. For telling us about racial injustice, for always fighting for the underdog, for “helping the least of these”, for getting out in the streets and protesting injustice with other black activists and for talking about social issues and injustice in our home, before we even understood what the hell was going on. Side-bar…I thank her also for the exposure to Country music(Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Reba), and the Blues(Bobby “Blue” Bland, BB King) and Soul (Johnny Taylor, Otis Redding, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, The O’Jays and Al Green). It’s because of her that I know and love this music.

It’s also because of her that I have a voice and I use it. Some say she talks out of turn too much and is loud when she should be quiet, I like that she didn’t listen to those who wanted her to be quiet. I’ve been told to pick my battles and try to keep my opinions about injustice low-key as to not make others uncomfortable. I am working on that(not really but I hear them).

But let’s talk just a little~

Since Rodney King, unarmed black men and women have been killed by police all over this country and police have done so with impunity. 

In 2015 Freddie Gray, 25 was killed in the back of a police van in Baltimore. His spine was shattered and his neck was broken, he was handcuffed in a police van! No one was held accountable. Walter Scott, 50 was shot in the back while running away from police in Carolina, he was shot at 8 times. Michael Brown, an 18-year-old kid, was killed by police in Ferguson, MO, allegedly after stealing cigars or cigarettes. That case set off riots and protests all over the country. There are lists of these cases  and one would need to read them to understand the protests and anger.

In 2017, I¬†watched what happened in Virginia where racist white men(and women) carried guns, Tiki torches, wore swastikas and held KKK signs, hurling¬†racist comments and slurs, and then one of them decided to run over the crowd, and he killed one of the anti-hate protestors. They committed murder while spewing hate(they call brown skin people who do the same, “terrorists”). This hate was loudly accepted from the top of America down to its little insignificant hateful base. Just a casualty of where we are today in the good ol’ USA. Say what you will, but that was domestic terrorism by white supremacists. America accepted it as just an incident.

All I could think was, what if hundreds of armed black men gathered together in any state in the U.S., carrying “we hate white people” signs, or spewing other hate-filled rhetoric, what would have happened? How long would it have been before police and others claimed they “feared for their collective lives” and someone was shot dead? Peaceful protest or not, it would have happened. Hell, black people get shot dead for having broken tail lights and toy guns in parks, and they get killed for selling loose cigarettes on street corners, and walking or running away from police, so imagine the outcome if hundreds or thousands of black men with weapons and hate signs descended on a city!

Then there was the mass shooting in Las Vegas, on October 1, 2017, where a white man killed 59 people at a concert. It was called the “worst mass shooting in American history”. What it wasn’t called by the media or #44 was, “terrorism”. Odd isn’t it?¬†When a Muslim terrorist¬†does the same exact thing, it’s called terrorism immediately! When a white man does it, he’s “the lone gunman” “the deranged shooter”, anything but terrorist.¬†When white people do it, it’s somehow different. That’s “white privilege”.

Today, I watch as Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed from the NFL for peaceful protests of blatant injustice(see above), let me say that again, a PEACEFUL protest by kneeling during an American anthem,( that doesn’t represent black people), in a country that still allows for uncontested systemic racism to happen. Yeah we see it. As long as you don’t rock the American¬†fake patriotism¬†boat, it’s all good. Just keep on dancing.

I watch daily, as an incompetent, lying, inexperienced, blithering, shameful and hateful man, who broke every norm, every civil, moral, and humane boundary and violated every high standard set for the position of POTUS, still get elected to office.

I watch as he divides Americans, Tweets his presidency into shame and leads us closer to WWWIII. I see his divisive rhetoric. I note his background didn’t have any qualifications that would afford him such a position. I note his invisible skill set and inexperience in government. I noted that no drug test was required(just wanted to say that because he has signs of being a drug user); I note that all of this, coupled with his incompetence, were all irrelevant.

Only in America can you take the highest position in the land with all of those deficits in your background, couple it¬†with¬†active lawsuits, fraud cases, a history of infidelity, a history of failing to pay people he owed, a history of being disrespectful to women, to veterans, not paying¬†taxes, a proven history of racism, lack of a plan…and still get the job!¬† Nothing says “white privilege” like this!

Yet, there¬†he sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with his cronies and children, in charge of the free world, recklessly damaging America’s reputation, and harming her people. This is white privilege personified.

He is the antithesis to his predecessor, Barack Obama and he seems to be hell-bent on undoing all the good Obama did in his 8 years. No matter how much it hurts the American people. No other race could be who Trump is, do what he’s done to people, say what he’s said and keep a job, much less the highest position in the land. It’s hard to ignore the elephant in America’s living room. It’s hard not to call this what it is. This is what we mean when we say “woke”. How do you un-see or un-know this?

America’s treatment of black folks is historically evident, and though we’ve come a long way, the work is a long way from over. Until there is “justice for all”, until black crime and white crime are sentenced the same, until black people don’t have to fear if they will be killed because of a broken tail-light or for selling cigarettes on a street corner, we, like Colin, will protest and speak out.

I don’t expect society to fix the lives of black people. I expect black people to wake up, stop doing things that contribute to tearing down the community, to strive to improve their situations, take responsibility for their kids, raise children with love and high expectations for excellence, to assure them dreams are attainable, to stop killing each other, to stop being disrespectful to their women and to raise the economic bar by getting in the financial game; taking care of their credit, buying homes, and investing in retirement and leaving wealth to their children. I expect that from us.

Yes, we have to do our part. Period! But we can’t do it if we are dead, and we can’t do it, if 1 in 4 black men are sent to prison(for same crimes as whites, with disproportionately different sentences), and schools in our neighborhoods are not funded adequately to bring in the brightest and best teachers, and loans are denied, and racism persists.

I expect America and it’s law enforcement and courts to be fair, and¬†the scales of liberty and justice¬†to be balanced, and I expect them to let us live. I expect the police to use common sense, communication and¬†less lethal force first. I expect a jury of our peers in courts. I expect the leader of the free world to care about the whole country and her citizens. I expect the playing field to be level so everyone has a chance to win. White America has had a 400-year head start and some wonder why African American’s aren’t in the same economic space or why we still cry for justice. Oh the irony!

No, I am not racist, I am “woke”. I can’t unsee our history, the current president, confederate marches in Virginia, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice being shot dead, and all the evil that is in our world today.

I will leave you to examine who is to blame and how we got here after all of the Civil Rights marches and all of the white and black people who died for freedom, voting rights and justice.

You tell me how we got here, why we are still here, and how we fix it in 2018 and beyond, so Colin doesn’t have to kneel and we, the people, don’t have to march and fight. I’ll wait.


The Cat is Out of the Bag: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Intimidation and Sexual Violations,Will No Longer Be Just Part of a Woman’s Day and Kept Secret

By Rhonda E. Frost

12/2/017

I was talking to someone recently about how the sexual harassment secrets being exposed daily and the public response, has become the new Civil Rights movement for 2017. He and I both agreed that it is, but this time, the change is for women. It is historical in every sense. Women are speaking out on rich and powerful men, who’ve lived their lives as undercover sexual predators violating women at will(in the workplace and beyond), people are listening, and companies are taking swift action. This is unprecedented!

The cat is out of the bag and it’s running around, opening cracked doors, tearing at window coverings and scratching up everyone in the room.¬† There is a change in the air and it feels mighty powerful. This issue went viral because it affects so many women. One study said, “54% of women have experienced sexual harassment at some point in their lives”. It’s crazy how someone’s brave moment, can spark a revolution, like Rosa Parks saying, no more back of the bus for me, I am tired.

No more will it be hidden. No more of women just taking it in stride to keep a position or to get in the door. No more will powerful men be allowed to harass, or sexually violate women, because they can. It will never, ever, go back to what it once was. Times have changed. Women are demanding their power back and this time, yes…this time, people are listening and taking action.

I applaud all the brave souls who put it all on the line to say what it is, or was. This behavior has been going on since forever; remember Anita Hill and her revelation about Clarence Thomas? Furthermore, men have violated girls, teens and grown women from the beginning of time, with impunity. No more! It’s bigger than men losing jobs, it’s bigger than sexual harassment, it’s about the bigger picture of our bodies being used as objects, our bodies being touched or talked about when that wasn’t something we wanted, and it’s about women being demoralized and victimized and not having a platform or safe space to talk about it. It’s about taking what isn’t yours, because you can, because you are bigger and stronger, more powerful, have more money, or a bigger office.

No more!

And no, I am not saying every complaint is legit. I am not saying all women are victims and all men are evil sex fiends, but I am saying statistically, men sexually violate and harm women at an alarming rate globally and it’s rampant in all areas, starting at home with uncles, dads, “male friends of the family”, etc., and continues on up into the corporate world.

Finally, we can stand and know that someone will listen! This is another historical moment in our time. I am so glad to live to see it!

The takeaway: our body is not yours, unless we give it to you willingly, coherently and on purpose, without fear or intimidation. Your secrets will no longer be kept. The whole world is watching. Treat women, how you want people to treat your daughter, your sister, aunt and mother. If the proverbial shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn’t, keep it moving. #metoo #timeshavechangedforwomen #thenewCivilRightsMovementisinfulleffect

 

Beauty