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January 30, 2018

Silence is Complicity: We're breaking up.

Now errybody kno I like white man buh I done wid them n dis is why.

On October 20th, 2017 I ran home to post a blog about what happened at the supermarket. A racist cashier told my boyfriend to speak Dutch to me  or "they" never learn. My boyfriend said nothing. He was visibly angered by the event and cursed a lot on the way home but he said nothing to the cashier. On January 18th a man sat at my kitchen table and joked that I was the slave of the house. My boyfriend said nothing and neither did my housemate. I decided to leave the situation because my house is partially my workplace and I did not want to make a scene. However I was annoyed. What bothered me is that no one stood up for me. No one asked him why he thought that was ok. In that moment I realized that my boyfriend and I had been through more awkward situations and he said nothing. I thought more about it and realized that it is not just my boyfriend but EVERY WHITE person I've met since I moved to the Netherlands. The pattern is unnerving.

I am that girl who helps the old ladies at the grocery store. I stand up for people regardless of their religion, gender or ethinicity whenever I see injustice. Yet somehow it seems as if while I am willing to go out of my way for others no one is even willing to say simple words like "that's not funny" or "that was racist".  My feelings on this matter all came to a head while talking to a new friend about Jackie Aina. He said that her video with Alyssa Ashley was a boring topic. This is literally a video that started out saying that the brand does not care about black people. While I am aware that most men would call beauty videos boring I was shocked that he as a white man could not see what the black girl was seeing. There's a saying that Statians say a lot "he who feels it knows" and never has it been truer. White people don't care about black people's racial struggles. It simply cannot be important to them because they do not understand.

I am aware that this sounds harsh and I know that it is also human nature but at some point and time we all have to be honest with ourselves. Do you care that black women are forced to spend double on beauty products if you're not footing the bill? No. Do you care that the Rotterdam police just came up with some new way to fight crime by asking citizens dressed in expensive clothes to prove that they obtained the item they are wearing legally? Not if you're white because technically white people do not fit the profile of being poor. So if you're white you cannot care because this will in no way affect you. If you do not have to speak to your child about how to act in a white neighborhood and how they should not wear a hoodie, walk in groups or by themselves why should you care? You cannot care that good schools systematically shut out minorities by raising their school fees. These conditions and unspoken rules simply do not apply to you.

Here's the funniest thing, you either read that last paragraph nodding or feeling attacked. If you felt attacked please know that you're not racist, you just place your race above others. If you are white and you're not willing to stand up for one cause that does not impact your race or if you can't even think of one you are a part of the problem and I see you as person who chooses to hurt minorities. It's really simple. If you hear your neighbor yelling at his kids and you hear things being thrown and you turn up the television you're not a bad person. Unless, the neighbor ends up raping and killing his kids one day all because you never turned down the TV, knocked on his door and called the police. Your silence can make you a killer, rapist or racist. Your silence can make you complicit.



November 9, 2017

My PREGNANCY and other important info

If by some miracle you missed it here's my tummy again.
If you came here from my Facebook you all can tell the world that this is true. Anyway if you are done examining my belly, leh we staht.
This picture was taken yesterday at a steak restaurant. I had the best nachos of my life and feeling stuffed I expelled my stomach, something I have always been able to do. When I did it my boyfriend looked at me with an odd face and I realized that I looked EXTREMELY pregnant. Being the type of person that I am it was important to snap and share this picture. I intended to talk about a food baby but as I stared at the picture I looked even more pregnant. When I shared it social media went wild! I started receiving nice congratulatory messages and doubtful responses as well. As that happened I began to think about women in general and how pregnancy is such a huge part of our existence.  No I am not pregnant but I need you to read this.
Half of all pregnancies do not result in babies. Most pregnancies actually go unrecognized by the female body. The uterus is so smart that she say "nah sometin rong, dis was bad sperm. Leh we staht ova." This means that most women will be pregnant at some point in their lives but this should not be expected. At some point and time it was a woman's job to reproduce. Fortunately this is not the case in 2017 yet there is a constant silent pressure for women to have children. A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I went to church and people actually asked about a wedding. At age 23 I see no reason for marriage. I do not need one. I also see no reason to have children now or in 10 years or even in 20 years. Yes in 20 years I will be 43 and that is considered old which leads me to my next point.
WOMEN CAN HAVE CHILDREN WHEN THEY PLEASE! If a woman decides to freeze her eggs and continue with her career she should not be seen as selfish. If she says that she wants to adopt instead of carry what is essentially a human parasite that should be fine as well. Often times men do not understand the gravity of pregnancy and they do not have to because they are men. Last night while stuffing my gut yet again my boyfriend and I discussed our birth control  experiences. For him it was extremely rough. He never knew what I wanted, I would change moods within seconds and I was completely out of touch with reality. He said that for him it was difficult to see me suffer and be helpless to fix it. While I now understand his frustrations at the time I truly did not care. I was on hormones that I could not get out of my body and he was fine. My world was upside down and he was fine. I could not stop bleeding and he was FINE. In comparison to everything women go through physically and mentally in regards to reproduction men are FINE. The fact that they pity themselves so much is a huge part of the problem.
How often have you seen men protesting in the streets for their right to paternity leave? How often do you see men speaking out about women's rights to choose abortions? These same men are the first to suggest abortions to their girlfriends, mistresses and even wives yet they cannot stand up and speak out? Never have I heard the men in my life talk about women's rights of their own free will. Black lives matter? Sure. The government needs to stop lying to us? Hallelujah. Birth control should be free? Umm... Feminine products should not be taxed as every woman in the world will need them at some point and time? Silence. If a man is unaware of these problems he is a part of the problem.
This is not just about the men though because women are awful as well. We teach our daughters to grin and bare the same mess we did. We frown at women who speak out on the unfair subject because really who needs to see female breasts on television. Who needs to see shirtless men? We sexualize our daughter's nudity and therefore give men license to do the same and I could go on and on but it is almost 8pm and we have to go get dinner.
No I'm not pregnant. If I was, that would be great. I'm not and that is fantastic! There is no right or wrong. If you are pregnant and you do not want to be, feel free to terminate the pregnancy. If it is too late for that adoption is an option. If you never want to have children that is ok too. If you are having trouble conceiving, I am sorry and I hope it happens soon. If you have a rounder tummy please do not allow anyone to shame you. If you are like me and capable of overextending her diaphragm please start singing and belting those notes. Whatever your situation is it is your tummy and no one gets to tell you anything about it.
Choose your life, love yourself.

October 20, 2017

Interracial Couple Chronicles: The Backfire of the Hasty Assumption Trap

Ah done tell ahyou dat Dutch people just racist. For absolutely no reason! No I don't want to generalize but at some point and time somebody gotta tell me why de hell dis does happen so much man. Leh we staht see!

On a stormy afternoon in Rotterdam my boyfriend and I decide to have lunch at a wonderful diner called By Jarmusch. We then crossed the street to do some grocery shopping for our movie night. We both live near this grocery store so we are regular customers. While standing in the check-out line we chatted and when our turn came I started packing the bag. Suddenly the white middle-aged cashier leaned over to my boyfriend and said "you should speak Dutch to her if she lives here, otherwise they never learn it." My boyfriend was stunned and I in awe. Why would anyone look at two people and assume all of this. I could not grasp any of it. I turned to her and said and said in Dutch that I speak the language just fine. For a split second I saw her swallow her pride but it was unfortunately far too strong so it came right back up. If you know me then you know that I detest vomit and the words that came out of her mouth seemed to be just that.

"I get people all the time who only speak English and we speak to them in English but we should speak Dutch to them. " I marveled at the woman. How did she come to the conclusion that my boyfriend was the Dutch one? Was it because he said that the cheese was his? 'Het is van mij.' Couldn't anyone say these words? Why did I have to be a foreigner? Why couldn't I be practicing my English or more likely that he was practicing his? She assumed all the things she did because I am black and my boyfriend looks as white as they come. What bothered me the most was the way the lady defended her point as if she had not just made a huge mistake. I even told her that I could just as well be an American on vacation. Yet she continued to spew more babble while all my boyfriend wanted to say is "lady just mind your business". Instead, we both walked away.

I left the Dirk van den Broek on the Goudsesingel angry, hurt and disappointed. One would think that living in a city as big as Rotterdam would  not come with prejudice at every turn. Unfortunately I left the shop feeling let down yet again. It feels as if every time I give Dutch caucasians a chance, they prove to me that they cannot do better. I do not want to put anyone in a box but the fact that a woman felt comfortable enough to speak about me as if I was not there, in a language that she assumed I did not understand shows how much thinks about people who look like me. The message she sent was a clear one and that is we do not want you here unless you act how we think you should. 

I wonder if that is what I should be teaching my students. I wonder if this is what the Dirk intended when they put her at the register. I wonder if she will think about what she did. I wonder if anyone will read this and actually understand why I am emotional about this. I wonder if this will change anything.



P.S. Bae chose today's title. Please let us know what you thought about it.

September 21, 2017

7 Days a Slave part 1

After I heard of my aunt's passing a deep sadness set in as there was no way I could afford a trip for $1000. I cried everyday dreading the thought of saying goodbye via a live-streamed video but there was nothing to be done. I cried and cried and then my brothers both found tickets for half the price and I was finally awarded funds that I had been waiting on for months. So on Saturday September 2nd I bought a ticket and everything felt right. Buh nothin in my life does go easy so Irma come n mash up errybody plans. Leh me tell yuh bout mah slaveship journey.

Hurricane Irma seemed harmless at first but by Wednesday my family on St. Thomas had decided to postpone Auntie's funeral as there was simply no way to get everyone safely there with not one but two hurricanes on the way. The rebooking process began and as I called the travel agents I would keep getting new and different stories. After two days and 13 hours of working on the tickets for my three siblings as well I was done. I felt as if I had just run a marathon. Could nothing good happen? The answer was a simple: no.

It turns out that St. Thomas was devastated by Irma and that everything would become more complicated. The airport having lost all contact with the outside world would not be open to commercial flights. So now we had tickets to a place we could not fly to. Yet American Airlines did not enlighten us about this fact. We were scheduled to leave Amsterdam in the afternoon, catch a flight from London to JFK, sleep there one night and then fly on to St. Thomas. As luck would have it the North Sea began to churn out its own storm, thus all Schiphol flights were delayed. When we finally arrived at London Heathrow our connecting flight was long gone and this is where the drama truly began.

By then I was positive that there were no flights to St. Thomas and that I needed to fly to Puerto Rico where my uncle would pick us up with his plane. When I told the British Airways agent this they insisted that their were flights available and was booked on a flight to Atlanta and from Atlanta I would travel to St. Thomas. Please note that this was an America Airline ticket and up to that point I had never spoken to an AA ground agent. So when we got to ATL we were put up in a nice hotel and I thought that everything would be fine, until I checked my flight before I went to bed. The flight that would be operated by Delta had been cancelled. The next morning Delta explained that American Airlines was still selling tickets knowing that there is no airport. If you have lost track of what day we are on it was day 3, Friday. Delta informed us that there were no flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico but after much, crying and begging they found us a seat for Saturday morning. Stuck in ATL for another day we met up with our mom's good friends and had a wonderful day.

We made it to Puerto Rico and my fabulous uncle picked us up and flew us over to St. Thomas but there is much more to this story. Stay tuned for part 2.



September 20, 2017

My Aunt Shirley: A Glorious Death

I was returning to school when I got a call that my aunt had taken a turn for the worst. It had only been a week or two before that I learned of her illness, cancer. She had kept this a secret for a very long time, even from my mom whom she had seen months before at a camp. My aunt was 39 years old and dying. Having lost two aunts to breast cancer (2008, 2010) I could not imagine losing another, so I sank. My spirit seemed to ebb away at the news. How could God be so cruel to me? How could he do this to my family? My grandfather lost his brother in April and now this? Was he bound to lose the daughter he always hoped for? Should my grandmother bury her baby? In all my questioning and lamentations I never thought about her. I was selfish.

A GoFundMe page was started for my aunt and though I had previously sentenced her to death somewhere in my mind, hope began to blossom. As I looked at the page I kept thinking that she might just make it. God would listen and prolong her life. He would let not ignore so many people. Again, I thought only of myself and my feelings.

On August 22nd I was returning to school when I got a call that my aunt had taken a turn for the worst. Auntie Shirley was dying. Daddy (grandfather) and Uncle Geoff were trying to get to her before she left this world. She left before they made and heartbroken I woke at 4am to hear that she was dead on August 23rd. 

A lot happened after that but the most incredible thing was the outpouring of grief and love that I saw on social media. It was as if everyone on my timeline had lost her. That is when I was reminded of a movie called 300. It tells of the Spartans that fought against the tyranny of the Persian king who thought himself a god, Xerxes. The Greeks craved death that meant something and Xerxes sook to threaten that.  As he spoke to the Spartan king Leonidas he told that he would destroy them, no songs would be sung about Sparta, and no artist would sculpt or paint them. The historians would lose their tongues if they ever uttered the name.

The enemy tried to do that to my aunt, but here I am writing. Shirley touched and inspired so many lived that she will live forever. My aunt the go getter, lover of God and all of his creation closed her eyes and died the most glorious death. She died knowing that she was loved and that it was well with her soul. She died knowing that if she had stayed here longer she would have suffered too much. God gave her what she could bare and kept her smiling through it all. The best thing about her death is that one day she will have the most glorious event. God will tell his angels to go break the beautiful tomb in which she now lays. On that day He will say “Shirley Amorette Fleming you’ve had enough rest come be reunited with your family and live gloriously, forever.”


July 30, 2017

I hate the Fruit

Sometimes I talk about issues with poetry. Enjoy this!

The garden was beautiful when there were no snakes. I'm afraid of snakes.

Snakes introduce you to fruit.
We walk to the tree and we look.
Strange fruit indeed and am I to love this?
Give me knowledge?
Show me good and evil?
I only see evil and pain.
The images now etched in my brain.

Food, exercise, so hungry...
I love chocolate, everyone does.
But chocolate is bad, all the carbs you know.
Small waist, small backside no need for more.
Chocolate makes your brain slow
Chocolate leaves nasty stains
And pimples cause pains

Magnolia trees are strong
Magnificent trunks, pop it quick.
Gorgeous white flower why are you here.
Are you ok ma'am? BE STILL BOY!
Pretty flower has fallen in the mud.
Hide flower, lie, hide your shame.
Dirt is nothing, dust in chains.

Curves, cotton hair, thick lips.
Suck, mock, fuck.
Love is light, who loves the night?
What happens in dark but sin?
Legs open, promise nothing, run home at dawn.
Look at the beauty the light and night have created.
Mixing, sin, light and darkness cannot dwell together.

July 24, 2017

Adventures with GP: I Rebuke YOU! pt.2

Jesus be a fence! I am writing this and hoping that I get it right. Pray for me.

After the speaker by the name of John Anosike left we decided that we would have to break our word and not return to the conference. I firmly believe that the greatest sin we can commit is working against our conscience. We sat down with a local pastor who invited us there and explained the situation. Leo Davelaar & G-Project is not just a choir but a group of Christians and we could not serve God in an atmosphere in which we did not think He would be pleased. On the other hand I felt bad for the pastor. I mean where would he find a praise team on such short notice. Lesson: NEVER allow your human emotions to deter you from doing what you think is right spiritually. After an hour of pleading with us our director decided that we should go home, pray and see what the morning brought.

Well revelations come in the morning! On Saturday we found out that the organizer was not the local pastor but rather the charlatan John Anosike. He who had treated us so horribly without any type of apology expected us to return. Now there is a vast difference between service and work. We felt that if we returned it would be work and not a service to God, that hurt me. I never joined the choir for it to be a job. I just enjoy blessing others with the gift God has given to me. So we had a dilemma do we go and work or do we stay home. We decided to work because even in our work people could find TRUTH in the den of lies.

On Saturday afternoon I beat my face, got dressed and paid (public transport) to get there. I was happy to see my other GP sisters there as well though some from the night before refused to return. We sat and waited and as we sat there the pastor who spoke to the night before came and said nothing to us. When our director arrived he was unable to look him in the eye to tell him that our services were longer needed. WE GOT FIRED!!! The painful thing was that this pastor Nosa allowed us to show up, sit and wait only to say go home. This was the most insulting experience I have ever had with G-Project or any group for that matter. However, God is big.

I am sharing this because I want you to know that. We needed to experience this so that we can know what type of world we are living in. There are people hungry for hope. They are searching for something to hold on to and unfortunately there are people who are lying to them. We saw people who were thirsty and they drank but were never told how to get the living water so that they can never thirst again. I googled the charlatan and found that his followers call him Papa. Isn't God our father? I saw a video of him telling people that we can be gods because we are righteous (fast-forward to 5:45 if you don't want to watch every lie). Yet the bible says in Romans 3:10 "There is no one righteous, not even one;" (NIV).

After the entire ordeal we did not know what to do so we prayed. We prayed for the deliverance of those being led astray. We prayed claiming the victory over every evil spirit that tried to harm us. We praised God even before it happened that we will be able to turn what the devil meant for bad to become good. These blogs were not just to bash the crazy people we worked with but to share what God can do.

He kept me calm when it is in my nature to lose my cool. He kept the choir standing when we were insulted. He kept us praying knowing that prayer is what we needed. God provides! He taught us to tell the devil I REBUKE YOU, in the name of Jesus!