I’m the Beholder And All I See Is Beauty

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This morning, I stood in the mirror and wept as I digested the lyrics of this song for the trillionth time.

I cried because I am a new woman.

I cried because I kept my promise to myself to love me the way I deserve to be loved.

I cried because I’ve spent A LOT of time alone, but moments of loneliness are so few these days.

I cried because God hears.

I cried because God answers.

I cried because God restores.

I cried because I remember looking in this same mirror with a smaller body, longer hair, less acne and still hating my reflection.

I cried because the woman looking back loves me more than anybody.

I cried because I don’t have the words to adequately express the gratitude in my heart.

I cried because I’m the beholder and all I see is beauty and that’s new for me, but I love it.

This Is Us, But Mainly Kevin

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Kevin Addiction Pic

This is Us, But Mainly Kevin…

Kevin is a straight rich white man who has straight rich white man problems.

OhCAE, the end.

You still here?

Ok, There’s more to his story, but I can’t get into it really without first acknowledging that Kevin Pearson is the EPITOME of white male privilege. To be honest, of the three, this is the hardest one to write because I don’t relate to Kevin AT ALL.

He’s white. I’m Black. He’s a man. I’m a woman. He’s rich. I’m pre-rich. You see? I’m struggling, because I’m watching a man who was raised by two loving parents who worked super hard to show him and his two same aged siblings equal attention. Somehow, though, he was jealous of his adopted Black brother and overweight low self-esteem sister.

His sister grew up in his shadow and literally didn’t make her own life outside of him until he told her to when they were 36 years old. His brother grew up just wanting to be accepted by him instead of disdained and teased by Kevin and his friends.

Now… after watching how Kevin was a bully and a brat as a child, seeing him run through women and a ruin a marriage with his childhood love in his 20s, we see him having a breakdown and battle addiction as an adult. This will sound bad, but I struggle to care.

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He made a scene and quit his job mid-episode. He was still able to land a new acting gig despite the very public unprofessional meltdown. On the holiday, he had to ability to choose the woman he’d spend it with. After crushing one, he crushed the chosen one when he chose his ex wife over her. THEN he messed everything up with her.

But listen, I get it. I understand children need attention and he felt left out as a child. But I need answers as to why he still acts like that looked over kid as an adult with a successful acting career. Literally, all I can think of is he’s white and white people feel entitled to the best of everything.

That’s all I have for real.

This Is Us, But Mainly Randall

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Randall

When I say I *LOVE* Randall I am reminded of the power and limits of language because I am not fully conveying how moved I am by this character.

I read once that people who cry on movies and TV shows tend to be sensitive people, in general. I read it and totally agreed, because clearly I am a thug.

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(yes, the use of a white man’s face to illustrate “thug” is intentional.)

But let me tell you how This Is Us challenges my identity as a thug ALL the time! One character who consistently tugs on my heart is Randall. His story is so layered and I can’t help but get sucked in.

Let’s start with the fact that he’s adopted. Black kids make up nearly 40% of the foster care system despite the fact that Black people are less than 15% of the total population of America. Black babies are less likely to get adopted and the likeliness only lessens as they get older. So Randall being adopted as newborn sets the stage for the unique life he’s going to live.

randall pool

Look at little Randall. This beautiful little boy begged his parents to go to this particular pool on a super hot day. Later we find out that it’s because this pool always has lots of Black people. We also learned in this scene that he’s been breaking out because his barber doesn’t know how to cut Black hair.

Foster and adoptive parents (and those of you who might do it in the future), you can wholly love your child, but that doesn’t mean you know what they need. Most times adoptive families are able to provide their child a “better” life than their bio parents would’ve been able to. However, the best way to love them is to honor the fact that they are different from you. Honoring those differences makes everybody’s lives better.

Jack had to argue with his wife about the importance of their son having Black mentors. Randall started going to random Black people to see if they could roll their tongues in hopes that he’d find a genetic connection. Rebecca lived with the lie that her love to him was enough to fill the void, but it wasn’t.

Enter the devastation we all felt when we found out that Rebecca knew William all along. Adoption provides a new way of life, but it doesn’t replace the other life that would’ve emerged. That’s why I loved Number 3’s episode where we got to see William dream about sharing big moments with Randall and his family.

Admittedly, this is hard for most people to get though. I mean, look at how hard it was to give Deja back to her mom.

It was even harder to watch her struggle to go back. It was so impactful to hear her say that even though she wanted to go back with her mom, that didn’t mean she didn’t wanna stay with the Pearsons. It shows the struggle a lot of kids go through who are adopted or in the system. It’s part of why Randall visited Howard University.

He loved the family that chose him, but he wanted a deeper connection to the culture that created him.

OhCAE, I’m done for now.

This Is Us, But Mainly Kate

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This Is Us is the best show I’ve ever seen. I know that sounds extra, but I’m pretty sure I’m telling the truth. The show follows the lives of three adult siblings with complicated lives. 

I have a DEEP appreciation for amazing portrayal the Black character, Randall. His backstory, his current story, his family #Swoon. The whole show could just be about his family and I would still be as invested.

As much as I love all the richness that is Randall and Beth Pearson, I can’t help but admit how much Kate’s subplot speaks loudly to a fat girl in me who is constantly healing.

This Is Us - Season 1

All the people reading this who relate to this scale moment, exhale. You’re not on the scale in front of people any more. It’s ok. I totally get how seeing this pic could cause anxiety, but breathe. OhCAE… moving on.

Recently, I’ve reached a new place in my weight loss journey. Or maybe we could call it my journey to changing my relationship with my body. In a 2010s world of body positivity there are still women like me and Kate who grew up in a world that hated fat people. It’s hard to not internalize some of that hate. It’s SUPER hard to push some of it out when it’s been part of a person for so long.

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Look at kiddo Kate in her Care Bears bikini! Cute! She’s 8 and hasn’t learned to see herself through other’s eyes yet. I have a bikini pic from around the same age and size. (I’ll find it and update this later, maybe.) In the pic, I was having a super fun time at Wheels Inn. (RIP Wheels)

Pig Kate

So here’s Kate enjoying her life with her bikini, then her friends laugh at her and explain that they no longer want to be friends because she looks like a pig. This, of course, devastates her. But it’s not just the note. It’s a combination of the note and her mom’s constant pressure for her to lose weight. She makes her eat cantaloupe while her brothers eat sugary cereal. 

People wrap their encouragement to lose weight in fake concern for fat people’s health, but never discuss health choices with trash eating people in slim bodies. Kate couldn’t eat what she wanted, but her brothers could even though it wasn’t good for them. 

Now, lemme clarify. This isn’t my story. But I definitely know how lonely it can be to feel like you’re the only kid you ever see who has to be concerned with food intake. It’s an unfortunate and sobering moment to realize you’re a 7 year old and sitting at a fat doctor. Going to your pediatrician because you have a cold and he scoffs when your dad asks if it’s safe for you to take the prescription at 11 because “she’s 200 pounds” is an unforgettable experience.

Thinking about this stuff makes me reassess why I’m so comfortable only acknowledging Randall’s family line. Randall’s life reminds me of the current me. The one who has taken my trials and built the life I want despite the difficulties. Kate’s inability to move beyond her childhood hurts makes me face the fact that I still have work to do to heal little Cae.

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Autistic Autonomy 

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The Social Learning Theory basically suggests that people learn by watching other people do things. Typically, we observe and imitate others’ behaviors. This is seen with in almost every facet of society, from adults at a bar for the first time to toddlers in the toy kitchen.

But what do we do when there are people who can be in the same room as other people or even be very physically close to them and not notice them at all? What do we do when  there are people who have to be taught how to observe behaviors? Why do we feel like we have to teach them to be like us?

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with people on the autism spectrum. A few of them are labeled as “non-verbal” so my definition of communication has been stretched more than I thought possible. I’ve had to learn to understand what that longing look means. It has taken work to figure out why they smile when they hear certain sounds.

It is interesting how much external motivation plays a role in our everyday behaviors. I never realized that until I wanted to motivate a child who didn’t notice me in the room. It left me frustrated at the beginning until I reevaluated the situations. After changing my perception and my focus, I gained an appreciation for their ability to completely escape whenever they want to. I learned to be comfortable when they distanced themselves when they were only sitting a foot away.

In reality, I wasn’t frustrated because the kids didn’t listen. I was frustrated because I wish I could live in a world where no one could influence me to do or be something I didn’t want to do or be.

So many times I have done and said things or NOT done or said things because of the social implications of being rude for not speaking or for speaking.

I’m the educator and I have been all of my post pubescent life. I always learn from my babies. So, I’m taking a page from my newest children. I will do what I want. I will not do what I don’t want, regardless of social implications.

I’m looking for the autistic autonomy.

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Remain in Peace

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Dealing with death is weird because someone you’ve known all of your life is suddenly gone and you’re left to deal with the fact that they’re never coming back. 

You get lots of prayers and condolences and you expect sudden emotional outbursts when the death first happens. But no one really knows how to prepare to live normally after that. 

There’s really no blueprint to deal with moments like walking into work for a meeting and you hear “Disco Lady”. At that point, you have no choice but to acknowledge that it’s July 23, 2017 and your aunt, Johnnie Taylor’s number 1 fan, has been gone for 5 years today. 

No one really tells you about the times you have to walk yourself off the emotional ledge every time you see an older Black woman with a cane or walker and it makes your mourn your paternal and maternal grandmothers like they’ve just died. Like it hasn’t been almost 8 or 1.5 years, respectively.  

No one tells you that 11 months after watching your granny slowly pass away while in hospice care, that you’ll have to hear those words again. So you pre-mourn your uncle’s death for a few days then he silently goes. And after owning the same car for 5 years, it suddenly does things that you have to pay someone to fix when you know he could’ve fixed it over the phone. There’s no instructions to tell you how to keep fully functioning while you can smell him and you’re trying to ask and answer questions about the car’s situation. 

There are lots of things I don’t understand as I go through this grieving process. But I do know that peace is a place and He has a name. Since I’m left here to remain as they rest, I will remain in peace. 

Thanks, Tom

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Cognitive dissonance… it’s that uncomfortable state we experience when something we’ve been trained to believe in gets proven wrong, but we still can’t let go. 

Like when you first discovered the truth about Santa or the tooth fairy. Or the first time you admit that college isn’t necessarily the best choice for post high school. Or when you tell people that Jesus was Black. Or when a Black man is a cop assigned to keep white people safe at an anti-Black rally. 

Since the murder of Mike Brown, I have consistently wondered about what it feels like to be a Black cop in Amerikkka because in my mind “Black cop” is an oxymoron. 

When Black people are the most common targets of racial profiling and police brutality, how does someone grapple with being Black in blue? 

That’s one of the first questions I had when this guy took coffee out to the National Guard as they were stationed on the streets of riot filled 1967 Detroit. 

There was a moving scene where he uses his uniform privilege to rescue a Black teen who was caught outside after curfew. The teen was anything but grateful because he had clearly decided he was ready to go toe to toe with the officers. 

After the Black US Marshall walked him into safety, the teen looked at him with contempt and said “Thanks, Tom.” Alluding to “Uncle Tom” the catchall term used for Black people who are knowingly pandering to white people. 

This Black Marshall needed a job. The 1960s were hard for Black people. No one blames him for trying to provide for his family. But when and where do we draw the line? When do we decide to put our Blackness back in front and say no to participating in the demise of our people?

The guy in the film watched these white officers torture, brutalize, torment and murder young Black men and still was on their side. It wasn’t until he became their victim that he rethought his stance. This is him being interrogated as a suspect for the crimes he watched. I felt everything but sorry for him. 

How many stories of Black officers being shot at or treated harshly when they were out of uniform do we need before we acknowledge that a seat at the table doesn’t help if it isn’t your own table?

Sitting at the table with your oppressor doesn’t mean you’re welcome there. See how dumb that logic is? More Black police officers doesn’t mean more opportunities for justice. It means more Black people positioned against their people. 

#OhCAE, I’m done for now.