For History’s Sake

justice

I am writing this because I have no words and yet words are all I have.

If you woke up today, got ready for work or school, and went about your day without any sorrow, or fear, or anger, or helplessness, without a moment to push down the knot in your throat, or a second to wipe away a tear that burned in your eyes, if you went about your normal day today without any heaviness in your heart, then I have to congratulate you. Society has gifted you with a privilege I do not have. You can walk around today knowing you don’t have to worry about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or fitting a description, or exercising your rights like any other person, or simply existing in the presence of police while also being a person of color. Congratulations because you lucked out. You won a lottery that no one sanctioned, a contest created to maintain false superiority. And I know for most people that are unbothered today, that was just a happy accident. Luck of the draw. Today is not your day to be upset, outraged, hurt, or devastated. Today you can carry on as if nothing happened.

But something did happen. Another black man lost his life at the hands of police who, yet again, failed to deescalate a situation. If you are having just another normal day, congratulations. You didn’t scroll through your timeline muttering, “Please not again. Please not today.” You get to go on living your life without the weight of knowing that no where is safe, no action is safe, nothing is safe. If you can go about your day without the nausea of heartbreak, without the sickness of injustice. You are a lucky one.

I’ll be honest I’m tired of talking about all this. I’m tired of writing these posts. I believe I was as tired yesterday when a different black man was gunned on the streets by police. I was as tired less than a month ago when Orlando happened and again Congress failed to pass any meaningful legislation. I am as tired today as I was a year ago and even five years ago when at the epicenter of all this violence again lies a gun. And I am, once again, exhausted to be writing about these issues again, because nothing ever changes.

But I am writing this because I have no choice. I am writing this because if I don’t speak I will add to the ocean of silence that rises every time another life is lost by the hand of injustice. I am writing this because Black Lives Matter. People of color matter. Ask yourself what will be written in the history books about this time in our society. Ask yourself what you will say to your grandchildren when they ask what you did. Will you stay silent? Or will your voice be heard by the annals of history as one that stood on the side of justice and equality?

Black Lives Matter. Say it. Say it if you have one iota of respect for the people, for the slaves who built this country, for the indigenous blood on which they were forced to build the foundation for this “great” country. Say it for all the people who live in fear. For the people who dream of nothing but having a roof over their heads, and food on the table, and maybe a better future for their children but because of where they were born, or the color of their skin society says they can’t be safe. Say it for me because my heart aches any time I wonder if I or someone I know and love might be next.  And say it for yourself because in another lifetime it could be you.

To my family, friends, and any POC hurting right now, stay safe. Stay alive.

I am writing this because I have no words and yet words are all I have.

#BlackLivesMatter #AltonSterling #PhilandoCastilo #SayTheirNames

“We all bleed red, but whose blood is in the streets?”

Lady Danger

Apparently there is such a thing as NATIONAL RED LIPSTICK DAY so, naturally, I had to honor that with this…

LADY DANGER

the incendiary choice of women and their red lips

“Why do you wear red lipstick?” he asked, implying it somehow offended him. The answer is technically simple. She wanted to say, “Because I like it” and leave it at that, simple and snarky. What more was there to say? As a short pause blossomed into a tingling silence it became clear that ‘because…’ didn’t quite encompass how she felt. An answer was in the wings. “Lots of reasons,” she started to explain. There wasn’t a big secret to reveal, but really the answer was more complicated than she realized.

She hadn’t yet discerned, for example that her ten year aversion to cherry lips was birthed somewhere between being told it made her ‘look old’ and being asked why she ‘needed to look like a whore.’ Could she recall who had inflicted such venomous comments on her dormant psyche? No. Spite-filled kernels like that had simply piled up like rubies over the years, some distilled from the condescending comments of jealous teens (‘omg your mouth looks huge’) or extracted from the omniscient mouthpieces of the media (‘its way too loud’). Perception. That was the word that caught on her lips better than the sanguine shade. How did it make her look? Was it really what others thought or it was all in her head?

“Skin white as snow and lips red as the rose…” a simple, poetic line from a Disney classic that seems, like the many others that came afterward, to equate pristine beauty with fair skin and a blood-red mouth. Somewhere along the line she had absorbed the idea that one came with the other, not noticing that they weren’t mutually exclusive. Perhaps the hormone-fueled teenage years had distorted the ideas of what looked good on darker skin and what didn’t into fact-less, fear-based insecurities peddled by bratty gossip mongers. She had dodged the spotlight intentionally, she surely rationalized, afraid that donning a rosy shade might attract the wrong kind of attention. Or perhaps much more so, it was the fear of truly knowing oneself, and stepping into shoes you already own. 

She hadn’t realized really, that it was indeed all in her head. That it was a self-branding of the Scarlet Letter. There was no reason to deny that the shade gives women a certain je ne sais quoi. That you suddenly don a cape of self-confidence and power. And the question, the one men ALWAYS have to ask, the challenge of WHY DO YOU NEED TO WEAR IT is simply a way of dismantling the assertiveness it gives you. Why do men insist on making us revolve around their whims? If they say it looks hot, its implied that its sexual— your plush red lips are simply attractive for their use in some sex act that pleases the man. If they say its fake, or garish, it means you’re an attention whore— implying you are not a real person and your choices are wrong, unsightly, and unwanted by “real men” for not being pure and virginal— again a state existing to please HIM— not anything to do with wearing lipstick…

“It just depends,” she finally explains, “I guess it’s how it makes you feel. Or really on how you’re feeling. Maybe it goes with your outfit. Maybe you need something to pop, to take it up a notch. Or dress it up. I dunno. Sometimes you put it on to make yourself feel better, a little diva boost, you know? Or if you’re feeling a little edgy and dangerous. But its kinda classic too, timeless. Goes with everything. You can’t go wrong with a red lip.”

“But I can’t kiss you,” he replies endearingly, playfully disarming the rouge’s ammunition. 

The plethora of emotions that arises from such a statement is nearly impossible to accurately catalogue. On the one hand there is a certain flattery… an excitement at being so wanted. There’s a feeling of wanting to please, to give what the other wants. There’s a sense of challenge. Why do I care what you want? A sense of wanting the freedom to choose what you wear, a liberty from it mattering to someone else. Why does it matter? It’s not for you… or is it? A spring of mischievousness bursts forth… you could succumb to the request OR you can tease, you can fuel the fire in a flirtatious way— not denying that you want the kiss, not shutting down the prospect, but not acquiescing either. There’s pride too as you realize that you have the power to do both… or neither… the whim is yours to control.

She gets a toddlerish pout of protest when she wears the crimson shade, but the allure of cerise is there, and later, when the heat of the night rises and the rose has sung it’s siren song, his face gleams with the scarlet brand— and she wins.

A woman in red is bold. She is strong. Fearless. She doesn’t care what you think. She’s okay with the spotlight. She’s sensual and she knows it. Look all you want, but that’s all you get. She is confident and doesn’t need to be reminded of it. She holds her own. She buys her own drink and can pay for yours. She’s beautiful, captivating. Soft, yet assertive. Formidable, but seductive. She’s in the driver’s seat. She holds the reins. And she doesn’t care what you think. She’s in charge. And you better get used to it.

Society is afraid of a world full of women like that. Why else would a little tube of lipstick elicit such ardent debates? Why does society insist on contradicting itself? Were the carmine lips of Cleopatra so meticulously questioned by advisors and courtiers? Did Marilyn resent the cardinal hue she’d become famous for? Perhaps, but we’ll never know. Wear what you want. After all, was the rose ever concerned by the opinions of thorns?

Some of my RED Must-Haves:

Classic Red— Estee Lauder
Russian Red— MAC
01 By Kate Moss — Rimmel
Pirate — Chanel
Jungle Red— Nars
Viva Glam! — MAC
RiRi Rihanna Frost — MAC
Spanish Red — Estee Lauder
Fire and Ice — Revlon
Lady Danger — MAC  

And by far my all time favorite and greatest ever… Ruby Woo — MAC