Monday, March 25, 2013


It took a long time to allow my emotional mind the freedom to write the essay A Correspondence Between Strangers; I spent countless hours over a number of years toying with what I would write if I were to write such an essay - and of course I would never write such a thing. But if I did...??  And like so many things that we fear needlessly the writing was one of the more pleasant and easy things I've ever done. I had a terrible time allowing it to stay written however. Every so often a panic would rise in me and a wicked notion to delete the essay would seize me. So in order to keep myself from that danger I would find some activity to occupy me until the panic passed.  

However there were also passing flights of euphoria at having emptied my mind and heart of such dreck. I've cried a lot. Tears for broken love affairs mostly and for  opportunities I missed out of low self-confidence. Tears for too much time spent as a wall flower when I should have been in the sun blooming. But these weren't bad tears. They were just tears of compassion I believe. Because I don't feel the same kind of ache  and despair with these tears, these are clean and refreshing tears. Not that I have much to compare them with: I didn't used to cry very often, in the past, after all one can't squeeze a flow of tearfall from a frozen lake.

Random thoughts come to me. The boy Malik Richards who was charged with the rape of the Steubenville girl, collapsed into his lawyers arms upon sentencing and sobbed "My life is over! No one will want me now!!''

Ironic considering that is exactly how a rape victim feels on most days when she is consumed with dreadful thoughts of the life that is passing her by because she cannot participate though it is a non-participation against her will. But fear is a deeply powerful motivation, even when it functions as un-motivation.

I find myself thinking again and again the soda machine room where I had to tell the Chief of Security about how the guard in my dorm assaulted me. I find myself wondering why the hell the man didn't usher me to sit down in an office. Why would he stand there and watch a frightened and hysterical girl cry like that as she reported such a humiliating assault? Who does that? I can't understand if perhaps he too was in shock or if he was just clueless. Was it sheer unkindness? I remember how I spoke barely above a whisper. I don't even remember if he asked me questions or not. But everytime I think of standing in the room with the soda machine, the man's office only steps away, I see that young girl and I get so fucking angry.  I get so angry that no one was kinder to her. It took a great deal of courage to come forward even if that courage was born out of the fear that in less than 24 hours that sick man who was meant to guard my dorm would be on duty. I was so terrified of seeing him again that I felt a burst of courage that propelled me to tell someone quickly.

Interestingly enough though it was my T-- best friend who insisted I report that incident. He was the only person I told besides C--- my other best friend who had also been assaulted and too afraid to tell. T--- insisted I tell and he was probably the smartest and most logical person I knew. If he said to tell I knew that it was the right thing to do. That and oh god....I could never dream of walking past that awful man again. Seeing him everytime I wanted to enter my own residence? No. NO.  NO!

We educate girls and boys that the word NO is a magic word. Once you say the magic word well, that's it isn't it? What else need be said? Hard-ons disappear and two people decide that instead of fucking, let's have a spirited game of gin rummy instead, eh? And of course a gentleman doesn't resent a woman's late last minute decision even if he did only just put the tip in....

And ladies only say NO when they really mean NO and not YES. Sometimes ladies get confused though and leave the NO-ing a little late. Well  if they are ladies and not that other kind of woman of course.Because if they are that other kind of girl then NO is just a teasing way to make it hotter and soon enough they'll be screaming YES YES YES. But NO means NO. Even when the NO feels like a wrong kind of YES, it's the right thing to do to STOP because NO means  NO.

My favorite mis-speak this past election season was the politician who said "Some girls rape easy." Meaning (I think) Yeah some chicks take things real hard don't they? It was just a fuck I thought. But I don't know. You'd have to ask him what the hell he meant. As I recall he said this was advice that his dear ole dad had given him during Man Talk About Women-Folk.

It's only been in the past three years that I first told about my experience of sexual assault. Oddly enough I fell in love with a cop. He was such an easy person to talk to. He was a character out of a strange fairy tale or something. A very pure intellectual type who translated medieval Latin prayers in his spare time.  I thought.... Whatever I thought I thought wrong.  I had fallen very in love. Though not successfully. 

 One more shameful chapter of failed and tainted love in my own private annals to be hidden away and kept secret, even from me.

The things that hurt us most are often the very things that make us feel ashamed. But why do we feel shame for things done to us against our will. That shouldn't reflect upon you but on the person who did the cruelty, be it a heartbreaker or a rapist.

An ugly pairing those two actors, not remotely similar of course. But heartbreak is a truth that we hide and bury, only digging up the bones of the dead love to mull over privately, in secret. To remind us why we are still so unwanted. Un-wantable.

A sexual assault is also buried so deeply, so effectively hidden that it often disappears into the psyche. It disappears but remains active upon the heart and the mind and the emotions.  It continues to do its dirty work upon you, inside you until you dig it up, show it the light and tell it in a loud voice that you don't want any part of it near you ever again.

NO! NO! NO!.
You aren't welcome here anymore, you rape!! Go away! Go away!! Go away!!

I don't know yet if it will obey. But this is the method I am using until I know more.

I haven't felt the waves of rape anger since I wrote A Correspondence Between Strangers  but of course rape anger is tricky and devious and cruel. It sneaks up on you on a sunny day when you are having  a lovely picnic with your loved ones. It comes out of the blue sky for no reason at all and seizes you in a hot flash with a rush of energy that gives you the strength of ten men. You could walk to the corner of your own house and lift that house off the ground and throw it five miles. You could leap up on your own feet and fly away in rage. There is no object on which to direct these mysterious, mischievous angers. There is no reason in the anger. It is a tornado that sneaks up on you  on a sunny day when you are having a lovely picnice with your loved ones and destroys you on the inside, though it leaves everything else just as it is. And your loved ones don't know why you've gone distant and cold. Nor do you.

Malik Richardson cried "My life is over!! No one will want me now!" I presume he was thinking of football. The impossibility of pursuing college football since that is reportedly the only way OUT of that town. I do feel for those two boys. They were privileged drunk bastards who raped and humiliated a defenseless and unconscious girl but I feel sorry for them. Juvenile detention is home to hardened rapists and they will be fresh meat.

But that girl. That girl. Her life is over. Who will want her now?          

Promiscuity is always a tempting rut to fall into after sexual assault. Rape  destroys any residual  mystery to sexuality after all. There isn't much left to fear. To actually obtain pleasure  out of the act is something of a reward. Sex is an act that is life affirming after all.

However  joyous return to the domain of sexual experimentation where she begins to re-instruct her body in passionate  release, the rapture of orgasm, and the exploration of pleasuring  her body with her chosen,  consensual  partner -- or alone -- can earn a girl a bad name. There is no winning.  Girls who do it too much, enjoy it too indecently, experiment with unseemly gusto become Whores; and girls who have not yet crossed into the comfort zone of return to sexual appetite can be judged unkindly as well, being called Frigid, or Ice Queens. These are petty, simplistic, ugly judgements. These soul destroying burdens and dismissive attitudes   hobble the healing process for survivors by denying women the right as human beings to recover, to re-discover themselves in a healthy manner  as sexual beings after enduring and surviving the humiliation, the torture of sexual assault.

Nevertheless this is the reality and nature of the  Get Well gifts from a misogynistic rape culture that refuses to face the enormity and severity of the damage done not only to individual souls, minds, bodies, and emotions, but to all of human nature  without regard to gender. Rape destroys the essential sanctity of the human body. Until we as humans recognize this fact and relentlessly dis-allow men to rape we shall go on destroying women and men generation after generation.

 In the lonely, quiet lulls between a survivor's rages and storms of anger that blow her hard won yet fragile peace apart again and again until healing is achieved, every survivor of sexual assault ponders the same question over and over, the very thing, in fact, that struck Malik Richardson immediately after his sentencing: What will become of me? Who will want me now?        


Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Correspondence Between Strangers/Women Surviving Victimhood and Rape

Recently I began corresponding a woman whom  I will call "Anna".  We started exchanging correspondence in a forum to express outrage at CNN's poor coverage of the Steubenville rape case. It brought up a lot of complicated emotions for many women who have been raped. Anna wrote a very passionate comment about the consequences and specifics of rape trauma. Together we began to parse out the ways in which rape violation permeates every single aspect of the human soul.

Rape culture is about men who rape. But it is also about the debilitating trauma that possesses and dogs a victim throughout the rest of her life; she knows that the judgments of her society will be harsh and unforgiving. We don't live in a remote outpost where rape is used as a tool of war to destroy a woman's humanity. In the United States we accomplish full destruction of the raped woman's soul by amplifying her fears and trauma a million million times more than what her own assaulted mind and heart will do on its own. Steubenville has demonstrated how Americans have "improved" rape culture. Right here in the good ole US of A. we have made rape culture farther reaching, more damaging and invasive, and more destructive. Steubenville is like a microcosmic example of how the personal and private elements in a sexual violation  actively become public; and what it says about us a  country is not good. Because rape is more than a violation of the body. It is the full scale violation of the soul. And when a single woman's soul becomes the ground of defilement by the state, the legal system, social media, news media, vigilantes, police, and regular citizens  it is little wonder why rape goes unreported. It is little wonder that a woman's healing from such an evil violation  is complex and long term for those who achieve it. 

I might never have met Anna if not for the troll in that forum who roused the ire of hundreds with a comment that was sympathetic to the plight of the rapists from Steubenville.  The troll was deeply moved by the rapists tears and the "life sentence" they had been dealt. The Troll asked others in the forum  why they had so little compassion for the boys:

{You) have no room for any empathy at all, then, for these two children? Whose lives, regardless of the heinousness of their acts, are in fact quite ruined? More ruined, by any concrete measures, than the life of the poor girl they took advantage of? What if they were your sons?

It was this comment which led Anna to respond:

"More ruined by any concrete measures, than the life of the poor girl"? That girl may NEVER recover from this. I know I didn't. I wasn't drunk like this poor girl was but I was the same age when a smilar thing happened. I am now 30 years old and I have only been in one relationship in my whole adult life. I don't have a husband or a family though I want one very much. I don't trust people and I'm frightened by intimacy. When I'm walking I'm scared of having men walk behind me so I slow down to let them pass, I'm terrified to be alone forever but even more scared to let anyone near me. I have no self esteem and I spend most of my days in a pit of self loathing, hating myself for being weak that I can't just "get over it". Is that "concrete" enough? Because that is likely what will happen to this girl. Her life IS ruined. Hopefully she will get help and she won't be like me but the fact is that many rape victims can't deal with what happened and turn to alcohol and drugs to find a small measure of peace. Perhaps it is your myopic view of what a victim goes through that makes you feel empathy for these "children" that I would call monsters. You're right the whole case is very sad but what saddens me is that there are people defending these guys and it angers me that we still live in a world where people still blame the victim for being too drunk or dress "too slutty". THAT is what is wrong with the world today.
Out of the four hundred responses that the troll received I was deeply struck by this comment because Anna was expressing with a clarity I could never have managed all the symptoms I myself had experienced over the years with one exception: after years of keeping my rape secret I began to find a measure of peace with intensive transcendental meditation and yoga practice. Slowly the iced over emotions began to melt. Interest in life became genuine rather than feigned. I had spent ten years practicing "normal" human activities like dating, maintaining friendships, going to work with an enthusiasm I did not feel. It took a long time and a lot of hard work to find that enthusiasm again. But finally refusing to keep the secret I found a small measure of peace from giving voice to the truth. I knew what Anna felt like because it was everything I had felt. 

Dear Anna:

I feel the same way some days. But there are things you can do to take back control in your life. Yoga meditation is one thing that helped me start to deal with the frozen emotions. Your joy and trust can re-flower. I promise. Talk to a therapist. Look into simple meditation. Very simple, five minutes a day. Write. It will take awhile but these are things that can begin to awaken the life inside you....the rest will come. Truly. 

I didn't think anymore of this reply. In fact I forgot I had ever written it. Until I received a reply two days later from Anna.

Thank you for your kind respond. Although my real name was not attached to that post I immediately regretted posting it. I felt like in my rush to share a different point of view in order to make a point I was taking away focus from the story by sharing mine. Despite that I came back and saw your post and I just wanted to say how much I appreciated it. Since reading it I have tried meditation for the first time and found it to be a wonderful experience. I am grateful for your suggestion. As for writing I DO. I write quite often and indeed find it very therapeutic. But when it comes to a therapist that is a step I have not been able to take. I tried it once and never went back. It is also awfully expensive for someone like me who has a hard time holding down a job in part because of many underlying issues.Once again thank you for your kind words. I will continue the meditation! I don't know if it every truly goes away but I sincerely hope that you find complete freedom from those awful days that can plague us.

To me I felt a fragile beauty in her reply. The small victory of her first successful yoga meditation just affected me so powerfully. I felt so happy for this stranger. 

And, then, when thinking about how therapy was a tool that she has no access to because her finances won't permit it I got angry. There's been so much talk this week since the conviction of the Steubenville rapists about rape culture and far too little discussion of the reality of rape trauma. It's such a common  trope in America to refer a person to therapy. As if "therapy" is someplace located near Starbucks on every corner. One would think that obtaining this magical therapy is as easy as Dorothy clicking her red-rubied shoes together three times. Dorothy is as much a myth as is the idea that therapy is possible for anyone who desires it or needs it.   But the fact is that the people most in need of it are least likely to receive it because mental health services are inaccessible to those without the financial means or the health insurance. Therapy is one more example of the privilege of wealth in this country. Rape culture in itself is a primary privilege of patriarchy where rape is little more than a violent sexual encounter that causes no harm to the woman ; after all if she had been harmed wouldn't she have said so? And the truth is that so many women, myself included, don't say a word for fear of being mistreated, called a liar, shamed, shunned. The boy from Steubenville who laughs hysterically and jokes that the victim "is so dead. She  is so raped. She got raped faster than Mike Tyson raped that girl!!" He is literally a raped woman's nightmare.  

I remember thinking "I got raped. I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people, doing the wrong thing.  Therefore it is my bad." One of my favorite ecards from says "You can fix anything with a straw. How? By sucking it the fuck up!" That's what I did. 

My bad, my problem. 

In college, I got jacked up by a security guard who pushed me into a corner against a wall and proceeded to molest me. He smelled funny. His mouth was slobbery. He didn't put his hands inside my clothes, but he only let me go after pressing himself all over me, touching me and feeling me up and down, kissing my face. I don't remember the episode very clearly now. Only just enough of it. I went to my dorm room and locked the door. Then I put two heavy trunks up to the door so that if he decided to come finish the job by keying in perhaps the trunks would make it impossible to open it up. When I finally went to report the incident it was six days after. That  next seventh day was that guard's duty night and I was terrified. I went to the head of security on the sixth day before having to see that man again. 

The Chief of Security was very friendly. He was coming out of his office as I approached. 
"Well hey there young lady!! What can I do for you?" he boomed with a smile in his voice. I could not look at his face, you see. He said, "I'm on my way to get a soda, come on and follow me!!" 

He led me to a tiny cramped room up the hall. He was such a big man. I swear he was seven feet tall. I never looked in his face. I remember, I can still feel the position of my body. Shoulders deeply hunched inward. Chin down nearly touching my chest. My back was to the entrance of the  little room and the man was in front of me at the soda machine. I told him about the security guard. Tears were pouring down my face uncontrollably and the front of my shirt was visibly wet. Soaked through. That security guard who groped me had done the same thing to one of my best friends. But she had been too afraid to tell. 

The truth is that I don't remember anymore about what happened while I was telling the security chief what happened to me. I only remember the terror, the clenching feeling in my throat and at my belly. Physical sensations like someone holding my throat or as if a fist was at my belly. I don't remember what that man looked like, the man I was talking to in the soda machine room. I never saw him. I never looked at him in the eye. Not once. He told me not to worry or be afraid that he would see to it that man was fired. He called some time later to let me know that I was safe and that the guard was barred from campus. Interestingly enough I don't remember that chief of security ever telling me to talk to a campus therapist or anything. It's only been since the whole Penn State scandal that I realized he could have been sued. Had my parents known, I know they would have sued the school. 

That experience had been so draining and exhausting that when I was actually raped two years later during my Senior year, I simply couldn't deal with telling the cops. All I wanted was a shower and my bed. (The instinct to wash after a sexual assault is extremely powerful; I cannot explain the force of that imperative instinct that overwhelms the body and mind when one has been sexually defiled. The desire to feel clean hot water is nearly primal.  I did not fight this instinct. I immediately went to wash.) I was tired and scared and wanted to be left alone.To answer questions by medical professionals and police was out of the question; it was beyond the few capabilities I possessed at that moment. Incidentally it was also the last thing on my mind.  I don't know how long it was until I recalled that the rape should be reported. 

Today, however, I deeply regret  that  I did not report that rape. That man who raped me may have raped other women since that time. And because I never reported it...because I let him get away with what he did to meit is likely that there are other women, other victims who  suffer. I had a power that I did not make use of. It was in my power to report the rape to the police who then would have performed the rape kit; that could have identified the rapist and prevented other rapes perhaps. He was a stranger to me, I did not know him prior to the rape.  Maybe this would have put him in jail and far away from harming other women.  I feel deeply guilty for my negligence. To me it is a great failing that I didn't think of the consequences of my non-action. It weighs heavy on my mind and heart now and always will. 

 Other reasons I didn't speak out: I feared that if I told my parents they would have made me come home and I so loved living in New York City. I didn't want to leave my life and my friends. That would have been punishment on top of punishment. They would have made a big deal out of an already bad situation. The immediate thoughts of a woman who has just been raped are a whirlwind of madness and horror and fear. Her thoughts are a nightmare of the ways she will be punished if she tells, of the suffering she has just endured. The mind is on a kind of loop repetition on the words, sights, sounds, smells that one encountered as your body was unwillingly touched and forced into sexual submission. Even without consciously understanding it a survivor is constantly thinking of punishment, of how this one act was a punishment that will be relived all her life. Not telling is a the act of taking control in the only way that makes sense in that moment; it is a way of controlling and stopping the punishment, not knowing, in fact, that not telling will extend, compound and increase the punishment in new ways. 

To heal you must first give voice to the terror. You must.     

I didn't tell anyone. I didn't tell the cops. Or my parents. Or my best friend. Or any friends, mentors, no one at all. I didn't tell my therapist years later because.....well, I had sucked it up. I was over it. It was done. What else was there to do but move on.

The effects of rape trauma sneak up on you. Even as a rape survivor you cannot have any idea of the infinite ways in which that violation will effect your mind and your soul and your body and your emotions. It is a violation of such profound evil that it poisons even the simplest, most innocent ways in which one perceives the world. It poisons the way one perceives one's self . 

Therapy is the  environment  to explore the areas of your Self that have been violated, even those aspects of the soul one did not realize were tainted. So when one does not have the privilege to utilize psycho-therapy to begin the process of healing that counts as one more aspect of the immensity of rape culture and how it  envelops the survivor and compounds the  trauma. The immediate period following a rape is a time when irreparable damage to the victim can be caused as she tries to negotiate her new outlook on the world. Of course it is not the world that has changed, it is the woman who has changed through no will of her own.  

I wrote back to Anna about healing. How it comes. That it DOES come no matter how bad  the damage is. Survival and recovery go hand in hand.

Dear Anna
I write as well. And meditation has been a very powerful positive influence in my life. It has given me so much...and taken away so much as well. Yoga does both. At a certain point you will know how much progress you've made by looking at all the useless, un-necessary, pain and superfluous shit that will fall away like wheat and chaff... 

Every symptom of rape trauma that you mentioned above is exactly what I have experienced over the years. However I could never has expressed it so clearly and cogently. I know what you mean when you said about the Sender's Regret that you experienced. But the thing is (another yoga lesson) the passion and the despair and the anger that lead you to fire off such a powerful reply is the very indication that you are capable of healing. That passion can be turned into a positive fire of love that will call out to a lover when you are ready in body and soul and mind. Those fears that surface when a stranger walks near you (I still have that) can be harnessed, and you can use the energy  to learn self-defense. Learning self defense can be a step toward training your body  as an exercise and as a way to physically release the frustration and rape anger.
As you become more comfortable and knowledgeable about your body and physicality....all these things will guide you and awaken the body to sensations in loving sexual experience, both alone and with a partner.
The suffering you've endured from rape and the trauma it caused can be redeemed into a victory. You will win. But you must FIGHT. And never STOP fighting. When you get scared in a situation around strangers let yourself feel that anger. Let it boil up and up and up!! Then WRITE about it. After you write MEDITATE.( Use whatever name for the Force that works for you. There's many paths up the mountain and they all lead to the top you know?)
Ask for protection. Ask for help. Ask for peace and joy and companionship. The Universe will hear will see will be fueling all your enegies. Ask for HEALING. This and more will come.

I am overjoyed that you had such a good experience in meditation. That is so wonderful and I am so happy for you!! ...
Until then....FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT in any way you can. Never deny yourself the need to scream out in pain. Never deny yourself the opportunity to express that pain if you feel it. 
You will win if you fight. I am sorry for such a long long rambling letter. But your words moved me. And I want to you to fight and win. I hear the passion in your words and I believe you can heal. I promise you I suffer the same symptoms you wrote about.... 
Do not silence yourself. Meditation is the scream from your soul. Exercise is the fight your body needs, perform it as an act of defiance,as well as to gain strength. Writing is mental defiance that expresses your emotions and reaches others like me; it proves you are more than a victim:you are a SURVIVOR. Fight and keep fighting. JOY will come back. You haven't forfeited your life. Your life is only waiting for your body/mind/soul to heal sufficiently that you can continue on in control.Bless you and keep you well. <3    

Healing comes, like Springtime, even if it comes slowly. If you survived you will begin to thrive. You aren't a rape VICTIM. You are a rape SURVIVOR.  The symptoms may never fall away entirely but they do lose the power to deny you joy . 

This is for Anna, whose scream of anger and despair reached me through the internet. Whose first yoga meditation was a joyful experience. Anna who gave me courage to write this essay. Time is a circle, it is a wheel that goes round and we must help each other hang on for those down times when it seems certain we will all fall off. It was the story of a girl's rape in Steubenville, Ohio profiled on CNN that brought us together in the same internet forum, to anonymously share our experiences of outrage and trauma.

Understand me: I am  a survivor. It is the third day of Spring and I am thriving.

La Jolie Femme Noire
March 23, 2013 3:49pm 


Friday, March 22, 2013

Musings on Friendship from La Jolie Femme Noire

2013 has given me a re-connection with some old, dearly treasured friends. It's been so unexpected and so satisfying; the happiness of it is overwhelming. And it's so much better now because we're not kids and we can talk with the ease of knowing one another at heart without the insecure, self-conscious anxieties of teenagers. Nearly 20 years after setting foot on a college campus here we are asadults who've been through dark and light.

The sheer harshness of those private trials and lessons, good and bad, that we've undergone out of sight from one another have stripped away the veneer that was so critical as adolescents to our survival and self-image when we only wanted to be part of the gang. To be accepted and liked. These reunions of renewed affection and affirmation remain illuminated by an after-glow of fierce and poignant beauty long after the phone is put down, the chat window closed

First impressions count. To be able to meet again -- having no idea what memories stand out in the other's minds, hoping that whatever asshole mistakes you made back in the day don't color a person's mind all these years later -- and finding that it's almost as if no time has passed at all.

It feels as if I stepped out of my dorm room to cross the hall to talk to a friend....only to realize that the journey took more than a decade. And upon finally arriving at that cross- the- hall-friend's destination, the conversation picks up exactly where it left off. It's the the same as it ever was and better.

What makes these renewed friendships so special is the absence of self-consciousness and insecurity this time around. The trust and comfort of being allowed to display your vulnerabilities, secrets, hopes, flaws and all. And still being loved for it anyway. Being interrupted by life in mid-sentence, resuming the conversation, without missing a beat, years later with the same affection, patience, excitement, and joy .

Only this time I have gained so much more. There is compassion in place where casual fear of rejection in the name of coolness once reigned; insight and wisdom replace youthful ignorance and lack of lived experience; expressing fear is met with a bracing shoulder to lean without judgement. But the best and last element of these happy unplanned restorations is that the pretentious posturing of adolescence has melted away you speak to your old friend's heart because you know what it is, where it is; beaten and bruised you know that it is no less full for the passage time. Old friends and wine mature slowly for the joy of savoring the fruits.

La Jolie Femme Noire
4:07am Friday Morning
March 22, 2013

Trixie Raconteur: La Maitresse en Titre

Trixie went and lit up the half finished blunt. Poured herself another glass of wine and sat thinking before the fireplace. It was after midnight but she knew he'd be awake. She'd missed their nightly call tonight dealing with Savannah. If he wasn't awake he wouldn't answer.

He picked up on the first ring.

"Where were you?" he asked.

"Here. Home. Something came up," she said, exhaling smoke. This stuff was way too strong.

They held the phone for awhile just listening to each other and the night sounds outside.

"I need a favor," she said without preamble.


"I know. I know. I'm sorry. You said I could ask and I got a situation," she said gently. Coaxing. Ideally she would have asked him in bed. But she was seriously worried and couldn't wait. His schedule was so busy that she spent half her life waiting for him to free up so they could see each other. She filled up that time running back and forth as an informal Ambassador  of Problem Solving on his behalf. So she was owed any favor she asked and more.

He didn't answer for a long time. This was their way. Just feeling each other through the phone lines when close proximity wasn't possible.

"What?" he asked finally. She heard the clink of ice cubes in the cut crystal glass he was drinking from.

"My girl Savannah? Who's been staying here with me? She needs a job," Trixie said. She ran down Savannah's resume to him. It didn't really matter because Trixie knew what job she wanted for Savannah and  he knew what job she wanted him to offer so this was merely a formality. But they both enjoyed the formality of hustling and bartering and bargaining. They were both excellent at the game even though they occupied such different spaces and roles on the chess board.

"Uh-huh," he said non-noncommittally. She waited.

"You know I've been interviewing for that position for weeks Trix," he said. She nodded into the phone. Drew off the blunt. Rolled her eyes. It's not that he was pretending to be difficult. He wasn't a difficult man. But like so many men he preferred complete mastery in his work domain, and he disliked having his hand forced.

Who didn't? she thought. She was busy considering how to square a few other of her business deals as he harrumphed and bitched under his breath. The fact was that she wasn't the nameless, powerless tart she had been all those years ago when they'd first met.

It's not that the balance of power was shifting so much as her own power had begun to rise. And this wasn't truly a favor, they both knew, because he owed her hugely and this was only the merest deposit in any sense.

"Let me see what I can do, Trix," he said.

"Mm-hm," she said low and pleasantly. She was hi-i-i-i-i-gh. There was no pain.

"Are we on for tomorrow?" he asked after a few quiet moments. The clink of crystal against crystal. He was pouring another drink from the decanter.

"Mm-hm," she answered from very far away.

"Go to sleep baby. Don't crash out in the living room. Get up and go to your bed," he said softly.

"Kay," she said.

"Put down the phone. Now," he told her. She cut the line and floated all the way back to her bed.

She was hoping to score Press Secretary for Savannah. But if he didn't wrangle that then she knew she could count on him to find a Legislative Aide spot. But really Savannah was great at press. He better come correct with that Press Sec position she thought.

And then she was asleep.


Junkie's Revenge

Savannah was sitting on a small, comfy pouf as Trixie braided her hair sitting on top of a bar stool. Savannah had decided that it was too risky going to Donna's to get her hair done knowing she didn't have enough money to maintain a perm and weave and all, so she was keeping it braided.  Trixie thought she was being silly because she'd already to Savannah she'd pay for it and not to worry.

But Savannah couldn't help but worry. It had been five months and she was still unemployed. She'd applied to TJ Maxx and gotten rejected. She applied to the phone company and failed their evil online personality test. It kept asking the same damn questions over and over again until she was utterly confused. How many times is it necessary to deny being a thief? The whole process had been an excerise in over-thinking and predictably she'd been rejected. When she applied to the local bodega that afternoon and the Eritrean dude said they weren't hiring Savannah came home and burst into tears.

She couldn't even make it to the couch when she blundered in. She just sat right down in the foyer and sobbed. Savannah was crying so hard and with that abandon that overtakes one in the most desperate black moods. Trixie went to the kitchen brought back two wine glasses and a chilled red, sat right next to her and forced to her to gulp the wine. By the time they finished the second bottle Savannah was able to make her way into the living. It was too difficult to get up and walked so she half-scooted and crawled her way into the room.

Trixie made several trips in and out of the room but Savannah was staring at the ceiling attentively and never bothered to look at what her friend was doing. How was it that she'd done everything right only for everything to be so goddamned wrong? She hadn't gotten pregnant when her other friends did. She stayed in school. She'd always worked and supported herself. She tithed to her church every week. And here she was virtually homeless but for the generosity of her party girlfriend. Trixie and she had been cool before but not exactly tight like all that.

Trixie sat on the couch and positioned Savannah between her knees as she sat on the floor. She hadn't spoken a word at all since Savannah walked in. She began combing Savannah's hair out. Massaged her scalp and oiled it. And little by little these ministrations combined with the wine made her muscles begin to unclench. Trixie stopped briefly to light a fat blunt, drew off it and passed it to Savannah.

She could sense the rhythmic movements of Trixie's hands braiding her hair but Trixie was very gentle. Savannah didn't flinch once.

"Who taught you to braid?" Savannah croaked. Blunts were so damn harsh but that's all Trixie smoked.

"My Auntie," she said, clicking on the radio with the remote. The rapper group Junkie's Revenge was playing.

Yeeah I'm crunk
Nigga don't touch my junk
When I'm sky high I ride that blunt
Nigga betta not touch my junk

My bitch be crunk
She be sucking all on my junk
Bitch don't spit cuz that's bunk
Bitch swallow cuz she ain't no chump

I flow
You follow?
Just like yo' faggoty ass be hollow...

The room was a blue fog of blunt smoke and Savannah was floating high up toward the ceiling.
Trixie was braiding with the blunt hanging from her mouth. "My bitch be crunk. She be sucking all on my junk. Bitch swallow cuz she ain't no chump. I flow. You follow---" she sang mindlessly, keeping the beat in time as as she braided.

"Girl don't you dare say another line of that fucked up nasty ass song!! I'm so tired of hearing that shit!! And what the hell kind of name is JUNKIE'S REVENGE!!! Oh I hate EVERYTHING!! EVERYTHING!!" Savannah hadn't meant to scream but it came out as a primal roar.

Trixie stopped in mid-plait, stunned, blunt hanging from her lip. Savannah was a quiet meek type. She spoke softly. Trixie had never  heard her raise her voice even at the severest provocation. Not that time the man on the train drinking Miller High Life tried to feel up her tits. Not in the all the years they'd been hanging out. And not once in the past few months since she'd been staying here. But all that unvoiced frustration came up and out and it echoed throughout the apartment. Savannah leaned over on the floor and started to keen like an animal.

Trixie put the blunt out and got down on the floor. Held Savannah tightly as an inside spoon until she stopped the unearthly wailing.

Junkie's Revenge was still singing. "You follow? Just like you punk asshole is hollow. I'm crunk. But nigga don't touch my junk--"    

"I hate that goddamn song," Savannah whispered. Between the grief and the blunt she had no voice left. It didn't matter. There was no one to hear her anyway. If her voice disappeared today who would remember it?

"It's got a phat beat though," Trixie said conversationally. Savannah rolled around and gave her a wild look.

"I'm just playing witchu girl. Calm down damn. You gonna be alright," Trixie said bracingly. Savannah sat up and it looked like she was contemplating a fight.

"NO. Look at me," Trixie commanded. "Savannah! It's going -- to --be--alright. I promise you. It will be alright." She hugged her friend tightly until the resistance went out of her body. The wine and weed and head massage had done their work.

Only half Savannah's head was braided so she looked like an escaped mental patient. One half neatly cornrowed, the other standing out all wild. Savannah felt like a escaped mental patient. Exiled. Isolated. Alone.

Trixie hauled her up and bundled her into bed the way one does for babies. Savannah was asleep before her head hit the pillow. Trixie shut the bedroom door softly

That damn song by Junkie's Revenge was caught in Trixie's head now. It really did have a fly beat.      



Friday, March 15, 2013

Trixie Taxes That Ass

Savannah came into the kitchen early Sunday morning to start a special pancake breakfast for Trixie. She regularly did the cleaning, laundry, cooking anything as a way to help out and say thank you at the same time. Not many friends are so dedicated as to let you live rent free but she'd been at Trixie's for three months now, though it didn't seem so long. The job market was dead. Her most frequent activity was trying to keep up with the wild rhythm of Trixie's busy life.    

However she had yet to determine any exact profession that Trixie plied. She was as flighty as ever. There were as many men about as ever yet still there was something that held Savannah back from fully settling on the prostitution thesis; it just didn't fit. She was making a lot of money for sure but  ultimately the  sense of freedom the she emanated dissuaded Savannah that Trixie  was involved in that lifestyle. Not that Savannah knew what "that lifestyle" was really like. She'd seen Pretty Woman but that was about it.

So when she got to the dining room and saw Trixie poring over reams and reams of paper work, keying in data into her Macbook she was startled. Trixie was only coming home at 7am on many days, so Savannah would serve her breakfast in bed. Then she'd settle next to her on the bed next to her and get the details of whatever latest gossip and drama that Trix had to rundown before she went to sleep for a few hours.

"Trix what are you doing, girl?"

"Hey girl!!" Trix looked up and smiled warmly, ducked her head back down to her work. "It's tax time, girl. I gotta get all this stuff to my accountant ASAP. He told me not to leave out anything. To look over all my investments and stuff.  I gotta keep on top of the market. Shit's too hectic right now. Got a bitch nervous as hell.   You know I love me some Barack but if he make me lose all my money I'm gonna be one mad black bitch. I cannot lie," she said. 

"Oh, well if you need help then say something. You know I did the books at my old office. I could have done that for you for free, Trixie! You don't have to spend a whole lot of money on somebody," Savannah said, feeling very distressed that she hadn't offered without being told.

"Oh baby don't worry about that. You're on vacation. You don't have to be doing all that. And this guy--" Trixie broke off, seemed to be distracted before speaking again. "Anyway, I'm not worried about the cost. Some things take care of themselves, you know?" 

Savannah agreed amiably but with little understanding, as usual, to the machinations of her friends life. And then an unusual thing happened. Trixie's phone rang. That wasn't unusual but she answered the phone in her regular voice, not her Party-Girl Voice, or her White People Job Interview Voice but her real voice though she never identified the caller by name.

"-----Hey. No I'm working on that stuff Joel told  me to ----- What? Hang on my signal is-----I SAID HANG ON KRISTOFF---!!"

Savannah didn't make a habit of memorizing the endless comings and goings from the apartment but as she flipped pancakes she seemed to remember meeting a 

Kristoff? Kristoff? Kristoff? She ran it through her mind. 

He was the man who had been in the apartment that night watching TV!! The one who waved and seemed so unconcerned!! But she'd never seen him again and had forgotten to ask Trixie about him

"---Mh." Trixie was  saying in  a sullen voice. "We'll talk about it. You know. Later, okay. Baby?  --- Alright" she said as she hung up. Trixie went back to making her notations as Savannah finished making breakfast. 

The atmosphere had changed so Savannah didn't pry but for all the world she could swear that Trixie had been talking to a lover.  


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Today's Warsan Shire Moment....

"For Women Who Are Difficult To Love"

~A Poem by Warsan Shire ~ from her collection ~ The Seven Stages of Loneliness~

Please Click Link:

POLITRIXIE will be featuring Ms Shire's works frequently and discussing the meaning and impact of her poetry. Additionally, we will be working hard to secure an interview with the important and talented poet, so keep watch for that event. In the meantime savor the words read by the poet herself. If you're anything like us here at POLITRIXIE then you will not be the same afterward.... ;@

Who's Afraid of Michelle Obama: A Black Woman's Search for Conscious Glamour

 It is The Eye That Rolled All Over the World: Michelle Obama’s disgusted, contemptuous reaction to the man who has spent four years leading the Republican Party’s obstructionist tactics against every piece of legislation proposed by the President of the United States of America. Like everything that Michelle does this, too, was gracefully performed. No Jerry Springer antics here. No hand-in-face. The head roll was controlled, pert, yet subtle. The mouth pursed in disapproval. It was perhaps the most eloquent non-verbal comment on John Boehner ever made, the entire performance enacted without a sound issuing from the First Lady’s lips. I loved that moment. So. Much.

Somehow one cannot imagine a similar exchange involving Jackie Kennedy. This ain’t your mama’s First Lady. Except that she is.

Watching that exchange of non-verbal rebellion by the most visible black woman in the world produced a frisson of glee that rippled throughout my whole body for the rest of the day. More elegant than a raised third finger, less vulgar than a Fuck You, and unmistakably Black, the First Lady communicated her opinion through side-eye, her meaning clear to all watching. Clearest of all to a nation of black women, the secret army laying in wait to come to her defense if called. Millions. We are an indomitable force.
I sat at home (unemployed), while watching the Inaugural celebrations on television (NBC – cable is too expensive). I was about to reach for the phone (unpaid – disconnected) to call my girlfriends but luckily mom was there next to me and we laughed and laughed.


Boys with small talk and small minds
Really don’t impress me in bed
She said “I need a man’s man, diamonds and furs
Love would only conquer my head.”

She wants the glamorous life
She don’t need a man’s touch
She wants to lead the glamorous life
Without love it ain’t much
“The Glamorous Life” – Sheila E.

Olivia Pope is marching to President Fitzgerald’s hospital room as she removes her three-quarter length kid skin gloves one finger at a time. She catches her breath bravely, preparing herself to see the tragic inert body of her secret lover as he lays connected to the many tubes from the life support machine. She pauses. Enters. The First Lady is sitting dutifully at his bedside. The two women take a moment to size-up one another like the rivals and sisters-in-mourning that they are.

I’ve developed an addiction to Scandal. As a commentary on  American history and politics it is a travesty, and the romance is ridiculous at best. But Kerry Washington’s portrayal of the sorrowful wise-eyed yet amoral Olivia Pope is riveting. And her wardrobe is absolutely divine. She has as many as six or seven wardrobe changes per episode. I was never able to afford clothes of such elegance  during my time as a Congressional staffer, but of course as a Staff Assistant and Legislative Correspondent I never made the big bucks that Olivia Pope the Fixer does. Still the chemistry between Tony Goldwyn and Kerry Washington is electric.

Shonda Rimes being Shonda Rimes she can’t NOT mention the Thomas Jeffersonian-overtones of the relationship:

Olivia: “No! This is…I smile at her and I take off my clothes for you. I wait for you. I watch for you. My whole life is you. I can’t breathe because I’m waiting for you. You own me. You control me. I belong to you…”

“You own me! You control me. I belong to you… I love you. I’m in love with you. You’re the love of my life. My every feeling is controlled by the look on your face. I can’t breathe without you. I can’t sleep without you. I wait for you. I watch for you. I exist for you. If I could escape all of this and run away with you…there’s no Sally or Thomas here. You’re nobody’s victim, Liv. I belong to you. We’re in this together.”

None of my white boyfriends ever said anything so drippy or passionate.  But I admit that I also watch Scandal to discover what this Shonda Rimes interracial relationship will look like. Will there be something there that resembles what has transpired in mine and my black girlfriend’s lives? While Olivia Pope was given a hyper-emotional love sonnet from a somewhat insecure and confused lover with a cheating wife I got a climactic shout of “Oh my god I love beautiful black pussy.” This made me feel very confused. Should I be concerned that he qualified the beauty of my pussy? Was it the blackness that was problematic? Should this ode to the joy of  pussy just be taken as an in the moment I’m-Coming-And-I-Say-Things-Like-This-In –That-Climax-Moment kind of thing? What would Olivia Pope have done?  As for me, overthinking the implications of the statement in the moment, I missed. 

Not to be all Taylor Swift but the Samuel Jackson re-mix of We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together is exceptionally poignant and relevant here.

And while it may seem like Shonda Rimes’ creation is over the top and far more wishful of a world that is equal in terms of sexuality and multi-culturalism it was certainly awkward to be a “good-girl” dating a white man in the world of politics. This is Chocolate City of course and from my view it didn’t seem quite the done thing to be dating outside the fold.

(Perhaps if I had been getting Presidential favors things would have been different? Except the President at the time was Bill Clinton so I’m sure it would have been very different indeed, if the Starr Report is to be believed. It was actually quite a head turning thing in those long-ago heady days to see interracial couples in Washington DC, on the Hill.) 

Scandal is Shonda Rimes at her most idiosyncratic,  and she has once again created riveting television made for drinking games and Kleenex tax havens. But she has also created a new mythical figure in a narrative where there are precious few heroines for black women to identify with.

Olivia Pope may be an adulterer who fixes lies for bad rich people but she’s a smart and glamorous fixer. She is crafty and clever like the tricksters of folklore from such classics as the Signifying Monkey and Br’er Rabbit. She outsmarts the Man, makes him love her and still goes home to her other (black) man at the end of the story. At least until Shonda Rimes decides to stop teasing us and decides to throw the star-crossed lovers together for a serious go at monogamy as she’s done in the past with MerDer and all her other cheaters-heroines. But that will take at least four seasons and more likely five for the win.

Enter The Power Broker into the lexicon of American race narrative and mythology. Olivia Pope’s background has not yet been revealed to us so we can’t blame her career choice and love affairs on her upbringing  Does it really matter if she is a bougie high-class dame or a round the way girl? Whether she is Ivy educated like Michelle Obama or an alum of a historically black college may add some dimension to the so far single dimensioned character remains to be seen. Nevertheless, as Dave Chappelle says, “All black people are bilingual: we speak job interview and street.” Race isn’t Scandal’s primary preoccupation beyond the mild eyebrow raising prompted by the inter-racial love affair, which frankly is barely worth an eyebrow raise anymore; this is Shonda Rimes.

The Glamorous Power Broker trope allows us to add to the limited scope of fictional narrative concerning black women. This goes beyond Terry MacMillan and Waiting to Exhale. Olivia Pope is morally flawed and that flaw informs both her professional choices and her love affair but it doesn’t take anything away from her other distinguishing characteristics. She’s an extraordinarily capable and talented woman for whom, we are told many times, other talented people would kill for the chance to be one of her “gladiators in a suit.” For once, a black woman in fiction can possess flaws and talent without one diminishing her as an individual. Indeed it is her emotional vulnerability is part of her attractiveness, a point which Kerry Washington plays skillfully, tantalizing the viewer by her quivering full lips and soft brown eyes. Her portrayal has all the memorable elements of a signature role.

While there is a rich literary tradition that expresses the struggle of the black man from W.E.B DuBois to The Invisible Man there is little that imagines black women and their struggle. Or perhaps there is little imagination of what she could be without the struggle. Even the fictional stories told about black women rarely stray outside the established parables of struggle. For once in a country that spins fairy tales endlessly, fiction has failed to provide a figure to foretell  the class and elegance of Michelle Obama. It is not that figures of style, grace, charm and poise are absent in real life, they exist prominently – Oprah, Michelle Obama,  Condeleezza Rice, Beyonce, Serena Williams.

 Yet it seems that so many have difficulty in accepting a positive intellectual real life heroine if she does not first exist as a fictional creation or at least an entertainer.

I have to be forgiving of myself for enjoying Scandal as poor as it is at reflecting any true semblance of politics and culture because there are still so many rules of engagement among professional black women about how to behave; what to say and not to say; how not to be perceived the Angry Black Woman; how not to seem to culturally intense that it is enjoyable to see Kerry Washington rock her thing; even if it is in the Shonda Rimes pretend world. But one must also consider that so often the pretend world has only depicted the reflections of women who have lived in great sorrow.   The Miss Celies and the Preciouses of the world. Scandal may have little to do with real life but its standards of glamour remain a plane of existence that has been rarely accessible to black women.

Dr. Mark Naison co-founder of the Urban and African-American Studies Department of Fordham, the Bronx African-American History Project and author of White Boy: A Memoir comments that, “Being black in America is paradoxical, ironic, and absurd. And [for blacks] dealing with this weirdness is going to be unpredictable. You can’t control black glamour, the insurgent creativity because you don’t know what form it will take. Black people are with people but they are the part of white people that white people don’t know.”

Much of Dr. Naison’s memoir White Boy discusses his love affair with a black woman during the turbulent Sixties, an affair that moved him to seek out the Communist Party which was the only political party that provided a race critique that made sense to him at the time. But the memoir is also very powerful in its treatment of the strange dynamics of love between white men and black women and the heavy weight of history attached.

As we discussed Michelle Obama and Scandal’s Olivia Pope he mused “Glamour gives black women power. People looking through the lens of the White Gaze at black women, that can fuck you up. Which is why black art and creativity in America is always so powerful and unpredictable. Black creativity is designed to create something that they can’t touch. You’ll never see a hair out of place on Michelle Obama.”
“Yet still,” mused Dr. Naison, “I see such wonderfully intelligent and beautiful black women whom black men don’t appreciate and white men are totally afraid of!!”

I know you think I don’t know nothing
But singing the blues but Sister
Have I got news for you
I’m something and I hope you think
That you’re something too
~The Color Purple “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)”

The site Vintage Black Glamour run by writer Nichelle Gainer is one glimpse into a world of black glamour that is entirely intriguing for the surprising content one finds both in the history of the  photographs and  in the images themselves.The historical background of each image presents a world of depth that has been often overlooked.If the story of the black odyssey in America is simply one of tragedy the Vintage Black Glamour fits into a space that challenges that narrative and the nature of what we think we know. The photos show startling glimpses of life. The mind boggles.  Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis marching with signs around their necks demanding equal rights. A photograph of Eartha Kitt and Sammy Davis Jr. taken when they were engaged to be married.

A Jet cover of Ebony Fashion Fair’s premier model Terri Springer “recalls the grace and beauty of the regal, mocha-colored model…. during a day and age when women with dark skin weren’t eager to wear bright colors.” Ms. Gainer, who celebrated the second anniversary of her tumblr site this January, offers nearly a century of hidden treasures within Vintage Black Glamour.

I asked Ms. Gainer about her site’s focus on glamour and what it meant to the more traditional narrative of black history. “This is absolutely outside the narrative and I’m changing the narrative,” she said. “It’s not that this stuff isn’t out there but [as black people] there’s so much we don’t know about our own history.

“I’m showing people what they don’t know. So often I get comments on my page where people say “I never saw this before” or “I never knew this before”. Because this stuff was not shown to us.  There was no value placed on it. Glamour exists in fictional narrative. We understand and appreciate the contributions [that we didn’t know about it before]. I’m thinking of Diahnn Caroll and her beauty, style and class.”

Once one begins to truly study Vintage Black Glamour then it becomes clear that many performers, though unknown today, inspired greater acts of the Silver Screen. Gladys Bentley, the openly gay, singer-cabaret performer sported the tux, top hot and cane look that pre-dated Marlene Dietrich. The life and times of celebutantes like Blanche Dunn show that the errant, lavish living we attribute to Paris Hilton and the Kardashians existed decades earlier  in black culture as well. Richard Bruce Nugent, an openly gay pioneer of the Harlem Renaissance, is chronicled along with many enthralling images of Langston Hughes, a writer and poet who appears frequently in the images in Vintage Black Glamour.

“I love the white divas. I’m wild about Jean Harlowe, Marlene Dietrich. They show that there’s something of value to tell the story behind the picture” says Ms. Gainer.

“Do you feel that you have a responsibility to show the dark side of glamour?” I asked.

“Why do we have to “justify” the word glamour? I’m presenting these images and deliberately not showing the dirty, seedy under-side of glamour. We know that story. We’ve been inundated with that. People were scandalous and tacky back then [which isn’t changed because] they took a pretty picture. Vintage Black Glamour is not limited to one element; it is a diverse glamour. It’s not just about fashion, not limited to one element. But [a pretty picture] also doesn’t mean that morality was any better. But I’m not showing the poor and downtrodden. And I’m not placing a value judgement. There has to be a certain beauty to the picture.”

Vintage Black Glamour is a marriage of politics, history, entertainment, and artistic consciousness through still imagery. Its allure goes beyond pretty pictures however into a subversive tone that becomes clear with close study. Chronicling the glamorous from 1900 – 1980 one frequently finds images with disparate personalities politicians and actors and literary figures in one photo. These people are united by race of course but also in the struggle to be recognized as equal Americans.

A simple post from 2011 is a quote by actress Rosalind Cash who played Mary Mae Ward on the daytime soap opera General Hospital: “There are a lot of us who would like to assimilate all the glamour and fluff, but the hard truth is, were all out here trying to make a living.” The narrative of celebrity tells us that it is one big club of rich folks being happy and skinny and rich together. But the reality for black entertainers, politicians, and artists was complicated by the times in which they lived when freedom was qualified by one’s color. The Cause can be detected even in this enthralling catalogue of the glamorous; for blacks high and low the right to make a living freely and fairly is applied to the glamorous ones.

Vintage Black Glamour proves that a search to achieve consciousness in the cause of equality is not trivialized by the prideful spice of glamour. In particular,  Conscious Glamour  is the black woman's ultimate achievement of success in her professional life as well as balance in her personal wellbeing. It is realizing and implementing the goal of spiritual fulfillment, health in body and peace of mind in a racist and sexist society. It is freedom from the belief that saving the world, her family and everyone but herself is merely a form of multi-tasking. It is emancipation from the attitudes and habits that kill more black women through HIV/AIDS, strokes, heart disease, obesity and stress. 

It is not merely their race that make Michelle and Barama unique figures to black American women: it is the determined principles by which they raise their family, their dual degrees from Harvard Law School, their mutual and unwavering support to seeing each other succeed in their careers, their commitment to living a healthy lifestyle. Michelle Obama is the First Lady in the hearts of so many black women because she has all the elements of the Total Package that so many women, black and white, aspire to. But that Total Package that is Michelle Obama is not as visible as the Total Packages of our white sisters. Michelle has inherited from rich parents or acquired her success through any means other than hard work, unwavering courage and commitment

Against all the odds in a society that is still not post-racial, where black women compromise their own dreams due to economic and social inequalities,  succumb to defeatthat ultimately destroys bodies through hard, low paying work, where minds are blunted by depression and battered by despair until the spirit becomes accustomed to the darkness that always seems to be lurking just outside the door because there is no white knight to save them, so many black women’s dreams die hard while still deep in REM stage. 

Yet here is Michelle, the most visible woman in the world, standing in the spotlight of news/reality TV with the support of her husband, her mother presence and wisdom guiding her, two daughters entering their teens. Michelle is considered the Total Package because she has not lost her sanity; she has not lost her health; she has not lost herself.. Michelle is the epitome of Conscious Glamour

Olivia Pope is introducing the Black Power Broker into the tropes of Black American fictional characters. Led by the powerful example of Michelle Obama, it is about time.