#SWAAYthenarrative

An Open Letter to Nicki Minaj

6 Min Read
#ShareBlackStories

Dear Nicki,

I do not know you; I won't even profess to knowing your music. But, that Queen album made a believer out of me. Yes, I've liked songs here and there in the past but my overall exposure to you had been limited. These days, however, "The gonads on this nut," is something that I periodically intone! Fun fact: I am writing this while "Barbie Dreams" is on pause on my television screen. From time to time, I play the video for comic relief and its overall good vibes — and anyone who is wondering why I refer to Nicki as a "nut" can soak in its screaming ardor of "I don't give a shit" — six different ways — for clarity. Today though, I find myself reflecting on you, your presumed plight, and your recent absence from the spotlight.

Before we go any further, some things about me: I am a master's level, forensic psychologist amongst other things, with distinct taste in music. I like fervor and attitude, as music is where I let loose. Thus, it is through these traits that you, Ms. Minaj, tickle my fancy, as I have a passion for words and a mean delivery, and I resound particularly when a woman speaks her ever-loving, (and hopefully evolving) brazen, mind.

You impress me with your depth, transparency, and your ability to firmly hoist those gonads while simultaneously correcting the masses with an authentic feminine persona. You do all this with charm, audacity, and oomph that keeps the boys dizzily afloat and the girls conscious and obsessed with more. You are both an open book and a mystery, and you have successfully penned your way into our history books with your brutal sass.

Yes, others blazed the trail but you lead us through the forest, into a clearing, and then you built us a grand lodge. Now we're all housed and seated — waiting for you, expecting you to deliver the wine, the cheese and the grapes--the telltale signs of our giddy arrival.

Yes, it is unrealistic and sadomasochistic to wait in expectancy, but this is the culture that we have collectively honed and hustled and you're its chic maven. It is your fault that you've pushed the mantle thus far; you've done it all, and it cannot be finessed or repeated. There truly is no way to top you, so I hope that you seat yourself in the conscious satisfaction that you have nothing more to prove.

So, Nicki, this is an important question… How are you? You are human and "being human is hard, on the boulevard!" You must be tired. What you have done is no small task, so you must be weary of the press and the sometimes merciless throng. Plus, you have left us on the edge thinking a lot of things: she is a new wife, a potential mom…she's finding out that it all leads to nowhere…yes, I said it, nowhere.

As the world gasps and grapples with the imperative that Black people should be living unbothered and carefree in this time and age—many are wanting to bother you to juxtapose on their front — on their terms — oblivious to the fact that you're a woman that is smarting and in need of your own intervention.

You've peddled the fantasy of a self-driven fairytale and of girls having "coral pink" fun, and as a woman that's staring down the barrel of a for-two-and-forever situation, I have a strong feeling that you're on the beginning side of finding out that the thing entails very little fun. Plus, with a husband with baggage that requires TSA handling — your life my friend, is not an easy road.

Do not get me wrong, I think marriage is the ultimate sacrifice that bodes the promise of unspeakable reward, but on its face, it is a sacrifice — a difficult and daily one at times — which is why some of us run around before getting sucked into its irresistible and inevitable realm.

You know, with God being a male and all and the toe under which we all profess to marry, there is a specific role for the female that immediately becomes a requiem for us to imbibe — which leaves you, my dear at the door of a wicked conundrum: pivot and flee or admit that it is not the fluffy pillows that you dream on — and soberly carry on in its, sometimes jarring, dimension.

See, ideas of marriage are often incomplete to the reality of marriage, and I see this moment as time to publicly normalize the ill-fitting crux that we women can find ourselves in — especially when we've shown that we can do it all. Many women enter marriage with their own plans of forward movement — as if marriage is a bucket at the store and life is the bathroom that they are anxious to scrub clean. Oftentimes, women see marriage the same way a man sees an attractive woman — as something to own — with no consciousness of the fact that it entails a whole human being with its own mind and muscling motivations.

Women are often anxious for a man that satisfies their desire for intimacy and companionship and they are frequently ready to lead the way in their marriage when this happens — without taking into account the terms of the agreement that they have entered into. As much as women can see miles above a man's head, sitting back and allowing him to discover and lead the way is its own challenge — a necessary and meaningful one when you know that you've picked a partner that you trust — or else, your constant intervention would likely turn him into a churlish and feckless child — and your marriage into a joyless, suffocating logjam.

Marriage is a realm that is always unknown for those who embark on it, as no two marriage is alike. Thus, there is no real script on its success; a person just has to be willing to recognize his/her role in it — which varies from time to time — and be true to its calling of unyielding commitment.

It takes a lot of holding back and letting go to build a successful marriage; silence and mental restraint become your best friends as you learn to build a new persona that is now the "wife," as wifehood is a role that is separate onto itself. The point is that it necessitates a new way of thinking and being, which is only upheld by an acceptance of its role.

The deal here Nic, is that you need us, the public, but not in the way that you have before. In the past, you have stunted on us, dropped bars on us, left us whipped and wussed and agreeably anxious for more and the fact is, we are your mess to clean up — while you are our mess to witness.

We are ready to see the softening up of your steely nerves, as you wilt and cocoon into a being that is self-assured yet, unsure of herself — and able to don a new pose. Regardless of what is next, my hope is that you are able seat comfortably in this new phase — fearless of the prying eyes and the sordid details that may seek to keep you chained in discomfort. Although you may be conscious of some of the losses you must now tow, I am looking forward to you shattering stereotypes, fitting molds and soldiering on glibly as you model for us the obvious rewards of a woman that is tied down and befitted for marriage. We are waiting, Nicki, 'ronaed up in this grand lodge, thinking of grapes, wine (if you have any), and extra cheese because, this is America and all eyes are — mistakenly — on you!

This article was originally published June 29, 2020.

3 Min Read
Business

Five Essential Lessons to Keep in Mind When You're Starting Your Own Business

"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.

Find A Need And Fill It

I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.

Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.

Have Working Capital And Credit

There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.

I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.

Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.

My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.

Know Your Product Thoroughly

I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?

My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.

My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!

More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.

Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth

I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.

I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.

Delegate From The Bottom Up

I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.

In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.