Black History Month: Week 1: The Ifs, Ands, or Buts

I ran in the house crying and screaming into my mother’s arms. I just left basketball tryouts where the coach told me I was too small to play. I was 8 or 9 and tall for my age. My long legs helped me with playground games of dodgeball and foot races from the front door of the school over the asphalt into the acre of grass in the schoolyard, but now I was told that they were not enough. I felt like I was not enough. It was the latest blow to my young and developing self-confidence. Too dark-skinned, too young, too short, hair too thick, glasses too big, I was starting to believe I was not the sum of my inadequate parts.

I started overcompensating in other areas. I loved to read so I read more. I loved music and started piano lessons. Became a girl scout to learn other practical skills. I didn’t want to be a black AND. You know those boxes societies place us in. Black AND uneducated. Black AND difficult. Black and POOR. Black and WILD. I looked up and I was leaving high school about to go to college. Apparently with age does not come wisdom. I still felt like I was not good enough. Like my existence was not enough.

And then, I had a dream.

Not the inspirational dream like the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A literal dream of being in a huge house with no doors and no furniture with the exception of a mirror. Like the mirror in Harry Potter that shows you what you want to see. In the background I saw some people who love me unconditionally, I saw myself laughing, I saw my receiving degrees and writing books. Those were the ANDs, I need to see. I was watching myself take all of those parts I originally thought were inadequate be put on display. I saw my blackness on display. I woke up in my twin bed in my residence hall and had an epiphany. I am enough. My kinky hair like a halo, my terrible vision, my big feet and lips, my loving heart, my open mind, my compassion, are enough. I would describe it as divine. A literal wake-up call.

I was letting life pass me by chasing what I had all along. Nobody’s standards mattered but mine. What somebody else views as not enough does not have to be MY not enough, ya know? I am here to let you know that your blackness is your greatest asset along with everything that comes with. With inadequacy comes self-hate and I want you to take the steps and work through that. Being a black AND, is a blessing.  You write your own ANDs. You are enough.

Keep Singing Blackbirds

Shh…Black Women Pass It On!

There is so much to be thankful for as a Black Woman. Here is my love letter for those who need to knock a little dust off their crown. A little self-determination goes a long way. See you in the new year with a whole lot of pride!

The Pedestal Project

By Madalyn McKnight

I know it is not polite to pass notes but here it goes…

Dear Black woman,

I am proud of you. You tried a twist-out for the first time, and it was a risk that paid off. You are rocking those coils; I am proud of you. I know that being in a car for a prolonged amount of time out of fear you will be stopped is very real for you. You went the distance, and I am proud of you. The long looks you get, the short answers you receive, the big ego they say you have, the smallness others feel when you enter the room—taking every rejection in stride, shedding tears in the room away from your children—searching validation through hashtags on social media. Through it all, you stay true to yourself and are wiser today than you were yesterday, and in case you…

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I Got A lot to be Mad About!

I am fed UP! Check out my latest post!

The Pedestal Project

By Madalyn McKnight

Listen, I don’t know about you, but I have been getting random apologies from people because I am black, and they automatically assume I am offended. It’s a whisper of “I am soooooo sorry” over the vine-ripened tomatoes in the grocery store. At work, it is, “I know you must feel awful, I am so sorry” on the way to the break room. I am Black. Obviously, I have been subjected to overt and covert acts of racism. And YES, I am offended, but your empty apologies are not even a band-aid, much less a cure.

Unless someone can post the systematic racism cheat code online, we will continue chipping away at the beast that is racism. It is ingrained in every fiber of society, and we will be expected to rise above and be better than a system that is weighing down and affecting every area…

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Know Yourself, Know Your Worth

Let me get straight to the point. Women, do not give your partner and relationship the grace you do not even give yourself. We (yes, myself included) have at some point forgiven things we would not do ourselves, justified mistreatment as love, and supported someone who would not return the favor. But when you turn around, you take every rejection to heart, have no problem giving your friends the cold shoulder in the name of self-care, and post support online for others while being scared to take that next step for yourself.

It’s been on my heart and on my mind to let you know that hearing you are worthy is sometimes not enough, you have to put that into action by putting worth into yourself. Start by trying to give yourself what you give to others and see the difference in the energy you receive. And most importantly, as thee great Megan Thee Stallion said,

“Get a therapist”

We talk about keeping friends in our lives who tell us the truth but some people are going through the fire in relationships but the fact is, some of y’all are not telling your friends the complete truth about what you’re going through. If you’re withholding information then that means you are aware that you are in an unhealthy situation that is not serving you. All the more reason to seek professional help to learn how to work through whatever it is you’re going through.

So if you feel like your relationships are thriving and you are not, take this post as a sign to pour some YOU into YOU. Regardless of how uncomfortable it makes others feel! It is so wonderful to have a big heart, be compassionate, and be forgiving but give that street a stop sign start paving in the direction that leads back to yourself.

Keep Singin’ Blackbirds

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Tap Tap Tap In… A Life of Luxury

NEW BLOG ALERT: Tap, Tap, Tap In …A Life of Luxury

Black women being luxurious? We LOVE to see it! Taking notes from the head of the Icy Gang herself @saweetie , Maddy (@she_mad_kool ) encourages all women to tap in to the finer things in life because we ALL deserve to be celebrated, even if we have to do it ourselves! Check out the latest from the pedestal!

The Pedestal Project

By Madalyn McKnight

Black women and luxury are synonyms; to be honest, Black women in music have been encouraging the luxurious life for a long time. I remember seeing Mariah Carey’s episode of MTV’s Cribs and knew I was destined for greatness. Now that I am older, I realize I have been caught up in the degrees and hustle that I have not taken the time to smell the roses. I deserve that icy life Saweetie raps.

My birthday is coming up, and I realized that the entire last decade I planted, and this decade I have decided I will reap. The luxurious life does not include just bags and jewels; it is catering to myself in ways that enhance my current lifestyle and embrace the comforts that life can bring. I need more spa dates, more therapy, more reading, more scenery, and more time traveling with friends. People who…

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Speak Life into Black Girls — The Pedestal Project

Check out my latest article on The Pedestal Project!

The viral video of a precious little beauty exclaiming that she is ugly while she is in the process of getting some maintenance on the natural locs she has broke my heart. Before I  knew it, I  was talking to her through my phone screen. I  spoke words of affirmation I  wish […]

Speak Life into Black Girls — The Pedestal Project

Steel Magnolia

Last week, a beloved longtime journalist in my hometown, by the name of Magnolia Wade-Dixon made a post on Facebook that really riled me. I will admit that I am a bit protective over women who are made to feel any other way than what they deserve. In this case even more so, because Ms. Dixon, or Maggie Wade Dixon as she’s known locally, is the face of poise and natural beauty. She’s been the face of WLBT news for as long as I can remember and she always graces viewers with a smile when needed, a calming presence during tumultuous times, and believing eyes when there are periods of uplift.

For her to receive a letter from a viewer who exclaimed that she used to be professional and how young black and brown girls used to look up to her and that she is on the “decline” was so absurd, I let out a laugh thinking that maybe I was reading a silly parody post. To my surprise the post was as real as the stupidity that radiated from this person. This person commented on her weight and appearance as if that is what is what her job is, to look good for viewers’ eyes she never sees. She gives the news the way it was meant to be given, confidently, accurately, and compassionately. Through her admission that she’s struggled with these things, she used this opportunity to educate with a level of class this insensitive and ignorant viewer did not deserve.

I am not exaggerating when I say that Maggie is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. She’s been a fixture in my family’s home on a daily basis and I am still captivated by her presence. She is as beautiful as the state flower bearing the same name, and someone behind a mask tried to shame her by projecting their own insecurities onto her. No one is always brave and everyone needs encouragement. Speak life into young girls and never stop. Even as women, people such as this will try their best to tear you down, and you must continue rising as far as the sky will let you.

To Ms. Maggie, we stand with you and for you. I already know you are surrounded by more love than your heart can hold, but I hope you feel this bit of light and know that you have one more cheerleader who is still inspired by you. Thank you.

I May Destroy You

Arabella is stalking the scene of the crime, which is ironically and symbolically a bar called ‘Ego Death’. She cannot go in. She makes it sort of a routine, as she ropes her friends into the outing they don’t understand but fully support. It’s been a long journey to this get to this point and I wonder if she will ever go back inside or even if she knows what she what she is looking for. The bar in question is where she was assaulted and in a sense broken. The person that staggered out of Ego Death that night was not the person who was brought in.

The latest project and brainchild to emerge from the heart of Michaela Coel is a drama that stuns from pilot to finale. Along the way we dive into main character Arabella’s life along with that of her two best friend’s and other acquaintances. The exploration of sexual violation in a variety of ways is the core of this story. Sexual violence does not have a mold. It does not fit in a box and its effects certainly do not exist in a vacuum. For the past couple of months this journey Michaela has sent us on has really been informative and empowering.

Arabella (Michaela Coel) attends a support meeting with other survivors of sexual assault on HBO’s I May Destroy You. Coel, the show’s creator, writer, director and star, based the series on something that happened to her.

The intention in every flashback, every interaction that seemed to not fit with the story at hand, every outfit, wig, and change of scenery did not go unnoticed. She uses rational means to explore a vary irrational crime. And it is also evident that it was important to capture the journey of the survivor, well…surviving. Instead of Arabella being so consumed with solving her own crime, I appreciated that Michaela involved the view of the authorities to explore how they handle victims of sex crimes, while the show allowed Arabella to flesh out the reality of a survivor whose focus is to pick up the pieces.  A survivor that has to continue to move forward and meet deadlines, even when something happens to them that could be crippling and debilitating. Keeping the lens on this lane emphasizes the importance of community and show how healing is not lateral.  Healing is ugly, it is uncomfortable, it can drag out memories we’ve kept buried inside, and make us reflect on past actions. Healing can also allow other things and people to expose themselves for better or for worse. Monsters do not just exist under our beds.

In the end, there is no need to feel sorry for Arabella. She owns her new journey and creates something beautiful from something too painful to imagine. She dances, she paints, she goes to the gym, and has career setbacks, but she lives to fight another day. Her crime goes unsolved but she finds the courage to release her literal baggage. As each episode carries on, so does she. She continues to move forward toward her own light.

Programme Name: I May Destroy You РTX: 07/07/2020 РEpisode: n/a (No. 10) РPicture Shows: Arabella (MICHAELA COEL) Р(C) © Various Artists Ltd and FALKNA РPhotographer: Natalie Seer

I found myself satisfied with the events of the finale. A glimpse inside Arabella’s mind allowed her to take back her narrative and different ways she could exert revenge and compassion as a means to retrieve the power that I don’t think she knew she still possessed. Her attacker never stopped her. She has her voice. That voice is is relevant, it is important, and it is needed.

Sexual crimes are violent, but not always apparent. The realization of being a victim may not happen until well after the fact. And it is okay to not be okay. I believe Michaela allowing us to see every win and loss Arabella suffers after that night lets us know that trauma does not only exist in a story line or a thirty-minute episode as it never goes away. One traumatic event can sometimes bind to other trauma and cling heavily to the backs of survivors. True strength is knowing that survivors are forced to find ways to allow themselves to keep going.

One can dream, one can imagine a different outcome, one can push it to the back of their minds, but it is there, and how one copes, how one deals and how one continues to live determines whether they let it destroy them or realize it is a living breathing thing, and beat it to literal death.

Thank you, Michaela.

All photos via HBO

WAP: Women Ain’t Playin — The Pedestal Project

We aint playin! Click the link below for my latest post!

Work is stressful, home is stressful, life is stressful, and overall between prayer and music, sometimes I feel like I am hanging on by a thread. But let me tell you about ChloexHalle, Lianne La Havas, and Victoria Monet. This world does not deserve black women, and that’s a hill on which […]

WAP: Women Ain’t Playin — The Pedestal Project

It Was The Nostalgia For Me… — The Pedestal Project

Click the Link below to read my thoughts on Netflix’s huge move!

Last week, Netflix announced the return of several nostalgic millennial black shows to its streaming lineup. For a lot of people, it is bittersweet. Some of the stars of these shows are no longer with us, but being able to see their work shines a bright light on the importance of legacy […]

It Was The Nostalgia For Me… — The Pedestal Project