I’m a work in progress and I haven’t always been aware of life’s shea butter. I was raised in an old-fashioned Black ass Christian church, so up until my early thirties, I was on some “hate the sin, love the sinner” shit when it came to the LGBTQ community. Granted, I thought all the hatred was stupid and unwarranted and I abhorred violence against the community, but a life of conditioning still had me convinced they were ultimately doing the wrong thing.

When I was 19 or so, I questioned a naturally thin woman about why she was taking an exercise class because she didn’t seem to need it. I didn’t know shit about body positivity or body shaming so in my uninformed mind, I was complimenting her on being thin without ever considering her general health and well-being or whether or not she preferred looking the way she did.

Until I was in my late twenties, I held to some really stupid patriarchal and misogynistic respectability nonsense about women and sexuality. Misogynistic men talking about bitches and hoes didn’t bother me because they weren’t talking about me. Oh no. They were talking about those “other” types of women.

I bring up these issues just to show how ridiculous and clueless I have been during parts of my life. And I’m far from alone. Many of us have embraced some pretty shitty ideologies based on religion, on parenting, and on misguided beliefs about who and how we should be. Now, in my forties, I would never do or think any of these things. Years of learning, listening, and discovering how to get rid of some of what I was taught brought me to a much better state of mind. And aside from investing in thinking for myself and learning from others, I had something everyone doesn’t always have on the way to self-improvement– I had time.

For weeks, folks have been talking about the life and the murder of Nipsey Hussle – and rightly so. One of the repeated topics of conversation was about homophobic rhetoric on his part which lead folks who were never fans to determine his death wasn’t as tragic as it was made out to be because after all, he said some ashy shit. And I get it. Folks don’t have to advocate for or grieve someone who possibly would have mistreated them. But for a lot of people, that decision to disengage turns into a type of harsh judgment that doesn’t stop at addressing accountability, but instead turns into ugly, hateful, alienating actions that serve to further divide folks. It’s like we’re so quick to throw folks out without ever considering our own brushes with ashiness.

What if I’d died at 31? I would have left here as a body shaming, respectability peddling, sexuality policing pile of dust. Imagine how many of us could’ve died at our ashiest. No opportunity to evolve, no time to learn and do better. No chance for meeting new people to encourage us to think differently. Just umoisturized and departed. I’m glad I’m still here to keep learning but hope in my personal evolution,  I remember to give just a little grace to those cut down in the midst of what could have been the ultimate transition. I can call out the ash without throwing everything away. In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to keep my life smooth and supple. ©

Malikka RogersComment