Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed [and other things I learned the hard way]

Now I’m not sure if it’s a Southern thing, a Black thing, or a growing up around older people thing but I’ve heard a lot of adages in my day. And one of them is “Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed”, which basically is the equivalent of you have not because you ask not. Which is very, very true. You can’t expect people to read your mind and do for you what you were too shy/scared/modest to ask for yourself. I had to learn this as I grew because I’m a big proponent of doing for myself and not inconveniencing others which is a great mindset to have if you’re careful. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up going out your way and breaking your back doing stuff that people would’ve been more than happy to help you with. So to hopefully save you party people any further heartache or wasted effort, here’s a list of a few lessons I’ve learned in my 23 years.

Speak For Yourself and Yourself Alone

So i’m the type that hates unresolved conflict. HATE IT. If there are issues bubbling under the surface between me and someone and the situation is getting out of hand I’ll be the first to call a meeting and try to either:

1. work things out

OR

2. Just get all of it off my chest AND on to their conscience (*evil laugh*).

Well having worked a few jobs that involved group dynamics and direct, frequent interaction with a supervisor I’ve encountered times when the workers (US) weren’t so happy with the boss and decided to talk about it amongst ourselves. So in these random times when the boss did something crazy or annoying we, being petty I’ll admit, would kinda just rant and share about different ways the boss may have been out of hand. So it seems like everybody is on the same page regarding the way things are, right? Right! So why when the boss (or whoever the person whose agitating the situation)  calls a meeting to hash out some of the tension and asks somebody to step up to speak I always end up by my darn self?

I learned that when I want to address someone about group issues to start using ‘I’ and ‘me’ and to talk about how I’m directly affected because when i get to using ‘we’ and ‘us’ and trying to speak for everyone and they mama when it come time for my “Can I get a AMEN?!!” moment everybody else looking like :

Whhhhaaaat?
*crickets*

Like y’all wasn’t just ‘yeah girl”-ing and “I know right”-ing back when we was in the other room??!!

Nope, don’t be left outchea fooling with folks trying to “get out their feelings” through you so that way if there are any negative consequences you take the fall and they’ll be around here prancing and being unjudged and whatnot.

This is not to say you can’t advocate on behalf of people or speak for a consensus in the role of delegate in the appropriate environment. Just don’t try to be the hero and voice everybody’s complaints and worries when there hasn’t been an understanding that y’all are in this together. Just saying.

You Can’t Save Folks

If folks have it in their mind that they don’t have a problem, even after numerous attempts of you showing them the light, then leave it be. This can apply to major life decisions, friends and their relationships, a family member battling some type of addiction, etc. You can’t be Wonder Woman all the time, you got to let people deal with themselves and their issues when they’re ready. Otherwise they will drag you, and everything you love, down with them. I am not even joking.You get so emotionally involved in their mess and drama that you become more stressed and on edge and it affects everything else and everyone around you. Before you know it you won’t know whose in trouble, you or them. When they’re ready to work through whatever issue you feel they need saving from, well you as a friend/sister/cousin/father/mentor/next door neighbor, can be there for them but you can’t take their burden on as your own, it won’t fit, it’s not meant to fit. So unless they’re ready to fix their own life or call Iyanla then you need to be like:

Juvie the Great
Ya, understand?

Stick With Your Gut Regardless of Popular Opinion 

Slavery and Jim Crow were real cool and popular once.

And look how that turned out for all the non-Whites. So no, you should not ignore the voice in your head and the feeling in your gut that is telling you something is wrong or off or stupid just because something contradictory is popular or hip or in right now. Don’t do it. That’s the EASIEST way to be an indirect perpetuator of injustice. Guess what? There is blood on each and every one of the hands of a person who stands by and lets something bad happened that they could’ve actively stopped. Whether that horror is a lynching, someone being abused mentally or physically in public, a kid being jumped, a person being mocked or discriminated against, any one of those horrors and more. If you let it happen because you don’t want to be a troublemaker or cause a scene well you’re as much to blame as the direct perpetrator.

Stop Telling People They Can Always Do Stuff

In the spirit of hospitality and friendship sometimes you over speak your own bounds. Best example I can think of is when folks say to a friend, when they ask if they can spend the night or use your sugar or borrow your natural hair leave in conditioner, “Yeah sure, Feel free, you can always [insert thing they asked to do here]. It’s no problem”. STOP SAYING THAT. Because guess what it will be a problem one day! IT WILL.

Possibly, after a long day of work you’re gonna come home and wanna just have the house and your space to yourself but just as you mentally prepare yourself for some mental relaxation you hear a knock on the door. And it’s your friend, who just got into it with her boo thang and wants to prove a point so she leaves for the night and is now asking to kick it by you because there was an open invitation. Now tell me you won’t be like:

Evelyn Shade

Exactly! I’m not saying don’t be hospitable, just maybe think twice before giving folks an open invitation to any and everything because once you renig on it they’re gonna hit you with that “but I though you said..” and you don’t want that to happen. Because that statement ends friendships sometimes.

Critiquing Does Not mean Opposition

I don’t think people of America have fully grasped this concept. I personally used to take people disagreeing with me so personal up until recent. Like I truly believed if you didn’t wholeheartedly agree with the majority of something i said, you clearly had issues with me and that was unacceptable. Looking in hindsight, that was a really, really stupid way of looking at life (If that’s your current mentality, my bad for me just saying it was really stupid…errrr, oops?).

But what I’ve found, being the anti-racist, feminist that I am, is that when you challenge or critique popular norms or oppressive structures, even if you don’t personally attack or fault any one person in particular, folks come out the woodwork with personal offense and indignation.

Example: A friend of mine posted a very good article regarding the racist nature of Miley Cyrus’, and many cultural appropriators like her, VMA performance. The author made some valid critiques to the White supremacist power structure and the patriarchy, both which are ever working hand in hand, and wouldn’t you know men, of various colors, came out the boondocks of the Facebook jungle to berate him and the author for “whining about racism and sexism”. Like not even joking. I encounter this reaction, to a much lesser degree, when I’m speaking to Black men (some, most definitely not all by any means) about oppression and when I talk about racism and the struggle they’re all “yasssssss sista, I know. I, too, am daily fighting the struggle” but then when i move on to sexism and the ways women are oppressed, specifically Black women within and without their own race, the hands fly up and the defensive wall shoots up. All of sudden the choruses of “yeah we gotta work hand in hand” turn into “well it seems like you’re being a bit sensitive” or “are you sure you aren’t reading too much into it?” It is absolutely amazing to watch.

Just because someone is critiquing a greater system that you may be benefitting from doesn’t mean they hate YOU. Just listen for two seconds to what they’re saying (unless it’s some racist, sexist nonsense, then shut your ears and flee lest your mind catch the ignorance, y’all know it’s contagious) and think on it. Think if you have been actively trying to fight this oppression and if not well hey, work on it and do better for next time.

Well that’s all I gots folks, stay spreading love, fighting the struggle, and going with God,

-Bri aka the Bri-ster aka the chocolate one standing over there aka @kewl_briize

“Here is something I am still sure of. I will see the Lord’s goodness while I’m still alive”-Psalm 27:13

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