Tag Archives: friendship

When A Loved One Commits Suicide [The Mental Health Files]

by Guest Contributor Renina, originally published at New Model Minority

“When Too Blue,” aroncb

It has taken me nearly a year to deal with the suicide of my play little brother Matteo.

I felt like shit when I first learned the news, nearly a year ago. In fact, I just laid on the floor and cried. When I saw that I had a phone call from a 510 number late on a Sunday night, I knew something was wrong; no one calls me from home that late unless something is wrong.

The day after I learned he passed, I still taught my class, but I mentioned to my students that someone close to me died, someone who was around their age.

After teaching, I went to Ben’s with Jerm the Perm to eat wings. #NOTtheAppropriateAayofDealingWithaDeath.

Teaching my students that day felt odd because I was able to be there for them, but I wasn’t able to be there for my play little brother. It made me question the meaning of what I was doing. If I can’t help people from my home, Oakland, then what am I doing? I’ve held on to this ambivalence until I went to Oakland three weeks ago and formally grieved his death. Continue reading

‘It’s Not Right’… On Whitney Houston, Black Women, And Loss

By Guest Contributor Andreana Clay, cross-posted from QueerBlackFeminist

Like others, I can’t really believe that I’m writing about the death of Whitney Houston. I learned about her  death in passing, as I was preparing for a party. And I hadn’t thought about Houston in years, not since seeing her run and literally jump into Bobby Brown’s arms on one of his releases from jail years ago. It wasn’t until I sat down hours later, read some of the news stories and tributes, and started watching videos that a wave of memories and emotions came over me.

The first video I watched and then repeated over and over (until Joan finally said “stop watching Whitney Houston and come to bed”:) was “You Give Good Love” from her debut album, Whitney Houston, released in 1985. Watching it immediately took me back to junior high, 8th grade, when I effectively made the switch from tomboy to girly girl. The year that my mother said I could wear make up (no eyeliner) and let me start going to Boys and Girls Club dances with my best friend Angie, my cousin. Angie kind of looked like Whitney Houston, and both were part of my coming of age as a teenager (along with Sheila E., Lisa Lisa, and Prince). As I watched “You Give Good Love” over and over, I was reminded of that time, my relationship with my cousin, Black women, and loss.
Continue reading

Announcements: Tulpa, or Anne & Me Opens June 2nd

Compiled by Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Racializen and playwright Shawn Harris will premiere her play, Tulpa, or Anne and Me, this Thursday, June 2, at NYC’s Robert Moss Theater, the eco-friendly performance space located at 440 Lafayette Street in Manhattan. The show starts at 6PM.

Tulpa, or Anne&Me explores a strange friendship that begins with an artist whose lonely world gets turned upside down when Anne Hathaway crawls out of her television. As their friendship blossoms, they begin to examine how race impacts their lives as women, as friends, and as human beings.

The 90-minute show will also run on these dates:

  • Friday, June 3rd @ 4:00PM
  • Thursday, June 16 at 8:00PM
  • Sunday, June 19th @ 8:15PM

The play’s proceeds will benefit the anti-racism organization People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. While anticipating the show, you can follow behind-the-scenes convos about it, check out the show’s musical inspirations, and much more here and here!


 

Shiftshaping

by Guest Contributor Sumeia Williams, originally published at Ethnically Incorrect Daughter

The doors slid open to another frost covered morning as I left work. I took a deep breath and shivered as the crisp air invaded my lungs. In contrast, the sky defied the dead cold with its deep red and orange streaks. Mesmerized by the flaming sky, I stood in the doorway for a moment taking time to absorb the world outside.

The morning breeze carried a mixture of odors, the most distinguishable being of car exhaust and frying chicken. The adjacent streets echoed with the hum, squeak and whine of the early rush to get somewhere. I was in no hurry but was content to let life flow around me like flood waters around a tree.

As the sun rose higher, the warm hues reflected off of the still frozen dew enveloping everything in the color of warmth. It had been a long time since I’d stopped to enjoy a sunrise.

“What are you doing?” a co-worker approached, “Go home.”

“I will,” I smiled, “Just taking time to remember that life can still be beautiful.”

“Okaaaaay, spit it out,” he joked, “What did you take?”

“Look you,” I turned my head to glare at him, “can you not drag me out of my happy place today?”

He laughed, “Let me guess. It’s a Zen thing, right? You got some feng shui thing going on?”

I raised a fist and shifted my weight, “Wanna die, white boy?” Continue reading

What’s race between friends?

by guest contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

The social construct we call race is complicated, but there are a few things about it that I know to be true. One thing is that everyone who grows up in this country absorbs some prejudice–everyone, no matter their race. Also, many people have no real relationships with anyone outside of their own culture. Most racial misunderstandings are borne of ignorance not malice. As a woman of color, I try to keep that truth in mind. Nevertheless, last year I lost a good friend. And our parting can be blamed on race–biases that I felt my friend was unwilling to examine and that I was unable to forgive.

There were other strains on my end of our friendship. My friend, let’s call her Mona, could be overbearing and self-centered, and she possessed a frankness that sometimes crossed the line to rudeness. But to be honest, that was part of her charm. When we met, we were both working for a large public relations agency. I liked Mona the minute I met her. I have a soft spot for misfits, and she didn’t fit in with the agency types–those skinny, stylish girls with their Kate Spade bags and rich daddies. Neither did I. Mona was smart, loud, sassy and a little hippie dippy. She liked to talk about past lives and “bad energy,” and she would rail against the patriarchy and “the man.” While I philosophically talked about politics, she would get in the trenches and volunteer to help Democratic campaigns in other cities. Mona and I became good friends.

It occurred to me sometimes that my friend’s “power to the people” ideology was somewhat theoretical. I knew she had other friends of color, but I also knew that they were like me–educated and assimilated–friends who could slip easily into the mainstream. But aren’t we all most comfortable with people who share our interests, values and likes? Race was not a precious topic between Mona and I. We discussed it openly. I explained the black women and hair thing. She talked about what it was like as a white woman to date black men. Then something changed.

About a year and a half into our friendship, Mona moved away to Washington, D.C. and I gradually began to sense that life in that black city was changing my friend. She seemed hardened and less tolerant. Maybe for her, familiarity bred contempt. Estrangement began with a comment here and there. There was the remark about a colleague that was a black woman but really sharp and pretty. Then something about how she usually didn’t get along with Jewish women. Then, Katrina happened.

I was horrified watching civilization fall apart in New Orleans–people begging for water, bodies floating, towns keeping neighbors from crossing bridges to safety, the media labeling American citizens “refugees,” and our president congratulating the inept crony who failed to grasp the magnitude of the whole disaster. In the aftermath, I talked to Mona on the phone. “Yeah, I sent money to the animal shelters down there,” she said, adding “but I didn’t send any money to those fucking people.”

Those fucking people. Her words felt like a slap. I wondered if she meant those fucking poor people or those fucking black people. I didn’t like it either way. I realize that internal and external factors affect one’s situation in life. But those desperate people on my television set didn’t need a lecture or contempt. They needed compassion. Though I sat warm and safe in a home more than 1,000 miles north of the Gulf, I identified with the Katrina survivors–those forgotten and inconvenient black people. And I felt attacked by my friend’s inhumane position. We spoke for a long time that evening about poverty and race, but Mona failed to muster much sympathy for the victims of the hurricane. I hung up the phone feeling anxious and sad. Continue reading