Things to Leave in 2017: The Kultured Edition
As 2017 comes to a close we find ourselves staring into the horizon of a new year and another opportunity for fresh starts, goal setting, and personal improvements. In addition to pondering what may lie in the year ahead, many of us also find ourselves in a period of reflection over the trials and triumphs we overcame this year. In my reflection of self and society, I’ve found the following 5 key things, listed in no certain order, that we need to leave in 2017.
#1. Uncle Tom-Foolery
To understand what I call “Uncle Tom-foolery,” one must first understand the term Uncle Tom. After the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), this term came to represent African Americans with behavior like the title character—the overly subservient, doing anything for approval from their oppressor(s), stereotype perpetuating, and basically sell-out individuals whose actions often violate trust from the Black community. If you need a more contemporary example, think of Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Django Unchained. In 2017, we saw Uncle Tom-foolery play out far too many times in the media. In December alone, we saw it three times back-to-back.
Omarosa was an avid Trump cheerleader turned White House Senior Staff member, who once proclaimed that everyone (including Black Americans) should “bow down” to him. While in her position, she defended her president’s racist remarks. She was given a position to do supposed outreach to African Americans, had no successes as the token Black person in the White House, and was fired. She suddenly wanted to claim African Americans as her people after making a fool of herself and being terminated. It’s funny how folks want to separate themselves from the culture until white circles remind them that no amount of ass-kissing cancels your Black subscription. I feel like Robin Roberts, “Bye, Felicia.”
Within days of Omarosa’s firing, we also watched two Black men in media make out of line statements about Black people. First, Charles Barkley’s seemingly good-natured pledge of $1 million toward startups for Alabama’s Black women, went left when he added, “That does not mean hair salons and restaurants, Black women. That means startups.” Then, Bay-area reporter Henry Wofford decided to make racially charged jokes about Diddy after the music mogul expressed interest in buying the Carolina Panthers when the NFL team went up for sale. While on the air, Wofford laughed with his white co-host and stated that Sean”Diddy” Combs looked “like he just smoked a blunt and drank a 40,” adding that he couldn’t take the artist seriously. Joking or not, these men clearly didn’t learn that you should never speak down upon your race to gain attention. When it’s all said and done, you may crack jokes at our expense today and need us tomorrow. Ask Omarosa how well that works out. Spoiler: It doesn’t. Leave Uncle Tom-foolery in 2017.
#2. Raw Cotton Home Decorations
It is 2017. As a Black woman, I am appalled that this should even have to be mentioned. But, the fact that I saw no less than 10 different displays of cotton decorations in various Hobby Lobby locations this holiday season, proves that the issue needs to be addressed.
Only in America could a substance symbolizing centuries of an entire race’s oppression be sold as a home accent. I don’t see raw cotton and think “Ohhh that would be a cute Christmas ornament! Let me pick up a few stalks to make a cotton floral arrangement! And what a cute welcome sign for the hall!”
No. I see cotton and I see blood; that which was shed by my ancestors in the process of being forced to pick it, beaten when they didn’t pick it fast enough, mutilated when they didn’t meet impossible quotas, and killed when they resisted being worked harder and treated worse than animals. I see slaves and sharecroppers, who were basically slaves called by a new name. Invite me to any home with cotton decorations, and be prepared for me to redecorate for you. The area in question will go from “Country Chic” to Country Shambles real quick. Raw cotton should not be glorified as anything other than a fabric for clothes, medical supplies, and other life products in 2018. Unless you’re weaving your own cotton products, raw cotton in a home has no other purpose than education about what it stands for historically in this country.
#3. People Pleasing
Let me tell you something that I have learned by watching others try and fail at people pleasing:
This is your life. LIVE IT.
Don’t lose yourself trying to do things the way other people pressure you to do them. Stop trying to impress everyone. People are going to love you or hate you no matter what you do, so you might as well be true to yourself and live your best life. The ones who have you bending over backwards for their approval will likely never be pleased because half of them aren’t even pleased with themselves. That is why they feel the need to pick with everybody else’s life but their own.
Yes, some people may give you genuine advice and mean well in doing so. But ultimately, you have to learn to make the decisions that are best for you, the pursuit of your goals, and your well-being, no matter what anyone else has to say about it. God gave you one life. Don’t waste it living for anyone but you and Him (or whom/whatever you believe in).
I’m not saying to be completely unreceptive to advice from those who care about you, but there must be balance in weighing advice and ultimately doing what’s best for you. And for those who still try to pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do, remember that “No,” is a complete sentence. Period. The last thing you want to do is look back on your life one day and realize you spent more time trying to please everybody else than yourself. All people pleasing does is make you miserable.
#4. Trying to Force Life into Dead Situation(ship)s & #5. Begging people to Stay in Your Life
2017 was a very trying year for many of us in the relationships department. Many of us went through a season of relational shifts, in one way or another. Listen Kings and Queens. I know it hurts to hear this, but it’s time to stop trying to breathe life into relationships that are supposed to die.
I get it. When things turn bad in a long-term relationship, it’s not easy to just pick up and walk away from it. You love him/her. You care. You have been through a lot together, and helped each other through multiple obstacles. You’ve supported each other as you both pursued goals, and been present for every milestone since your relationship began. You’ve both grown together. It’s possible that nobody knows you like they do.
But, somewhere down the line, things still changed. The vibe started to feel different. The commitment changed. You or they started paying less attention. Somebody may have cheated. Someone violated the other’s trust. Or somehow, you just grew apart. But no matter how hard it gets, you still don’t want to let go.
What if they’re “The One?” What if I don’t find someone else? What can I do to make them stay?
Take it from me, sometimes things just don’t work out no matter how hard you try to make them. It is very painful and disappointing when you put a lot of energy and effort into something, only to see it not work out. For lack of a better term, it sucks. But, that doesn’t mean you’re meant to stay in an unhealthy situation.
If they find fault in you no matter what you do, leave.
If they keep cheating on you, apologizing, and promising that this was the last time (even though it’s the 47th time), leave.
If they refuse to communicate or take accountability for the messes they make, leave.
Not only are these behaviors unhealthy for both parties, they are also indicators of manipulation and abuse. A relationship is a partnership and both partners deserve to be respected. Know your worth and don’t compromise it to keep those around who can’t see it. This advice applies to all relationships: those with family, romantic partners, and friends alike. Chances are, if the bad in your relationship outweighs the good, then it’s time to let go. “The One” won’t make you question your presence in their life. Lean on the good individuals in your life for support, and take the steps needed to move forward.
2018 is the year of new opportunity, new achievement, and unprecedented levels of growth/success. Shed the bad, keep the good, and move forward without apology. It’s time to work toward being the best version of you; you can’t do that dragging dead weight. Don’t hinder progress by holding on to those who aren’t holding on to you. Leave the mess in 2017, and don’t look back.
Take this advice, and experience a turnaround beyond expectation in the upcoming year. Happy New Year Kings and Queens!