We have jumped in the timeline again. Entry 2 went back a few years, but now we have returned to the present day. This entry takes place a little over a month after Monique and Andre had their not-date and after Camille had her incident with Donald. In this entry, see how those events will overlap and unfold.
February 1st, 2018:
“Heritage!” Monique exclaimed aloud. She got out of bed and pulled out her laptop and started working away. Her roommate, who was in the next room, came over several times asking Monique to turn down the music. Once Monique got in her zone, there was no stopping her. It was 3 AM, her body was tired, and her eyes were peeling, but she was determined. “Heritage,” she repeated before finally falling asleep. The next day, Camille studied Monique carefully. “Did you sleep at all last night? You look like you’re on your second divorce and he’s trying to get custody of the kids.” Monique laughed and shook her head, pulling out a picture she had drawn overnight. “I know what I want my debut product collection to be: heritage.” “Is this based on that poem you heard at Genesis?”
“Yes,” Monique said emphatically. “It was so good and it brought things into perspective because you’ll think she’s talking about her hair when she says roots, but she was also talking about the injustice that is rooted in our Black American culture, unfortunately. Then, our hair is political. It just makes sense. Hair-itage..”
“You were really moved by that piece,” Camille noted. “But I’m surprised you’re not calling the collection Kin-folk since that’s the piece your boo did.” Monique rolled her eyes. “Girl, please. That man is not my boo.”
“Not yet but soon.”
Monique sighed. “Just because we got coffee doesn’t mean anything.” “Then, y’all had lunch then y’all went back to his place and ‘studied’.” Monique smiled as she thought about it. “No need for air quotes. We really did study.”
“What subject: chemistry?”
Monique blushed and Camille caught it. “Damn girl. What did y’all do?” “We cuddled on the couch while we were studying, but I told him I’m not looking to move too fast.” Camille cautioned, “Listen here, girlie, don’t get wound up in his tricks, now. You know these men ain’t no good ouchea.”
Monique laughed aloud. “You sound like grandmama Amina.” “Why do you always call me Amina?” “I just think it’s interesting that your mom gave you that middle name, considering everything else.”
Camille shook her head, responding. “Interesting? No. Crazy? Hell yes. It’s like she wanted me to remember that I was Black.” “That doesn’t always have to be a bad thing," Monique chimed. Camille thought about why she was so distant from her mom’s side. She revealed, “It doesn’t…until it does. It’s like she wanted to have black babies to unleash her frustrations with Black people.”
Monique looked at Camille and said, “That’s so miserable to contemplate.” Camille nodded. “Yeah. Remember how I said they never let me wear my hair curly around them?” Monique nodded this time and waited to hear the story that followed.
Camille continued, “They were so determined to make us more like them. Even after Amy ditched us, my grandma still tried to control us. Raj and I would ask for money and she’d give it, but it always came with stipulations and lectures.”
Camille recalled her grandmother Athena’s lectures. “Don’t ever let people know where you come from. Speak like a lady, not a welfare Queen, and they won’t even ask if one of your parents is Black,” Camille reflected, remembering the last time she’d been in Willowsville. Monique sighed and put her feet up. “It sounds just like stories my mom used to tell me. She said Mama Rose hated my mom and Charletta carried that pain with her almost her whole life.” The friends sat in silent contemplation. Then, Monique’s phone rang. She gave the screen one glance and denied the call.
“What are you doing?” Camille badgered confusedly.
“Ignoring a call I don't want to answer. I'm about about to throw myself into a new thing.”
Camille told Monique, “I can understand your reservations, but he likes you.” “I know, but…” Monique didn’t finish the sentence. She knew what was holding her back. “You’re scared it’ll be just like Tomas,” Camille guessed.
“Exactly. Do you know how embarrassing that shit was?”
“You gotta be careful with these pseudo men.”
Monique shook her head. “I can’t help but think that he probably cheated on me too while we were together.” “Did she really come to your class?” Monique sat up as she was remembering. “Girl, yes. This girl was sitting outside the door waiting on me to see who was ‘the bitch’ Tomas was messing with.”
“How did she even know what class you were in?”
“A little birdie told her,” Monique replied. “Chirp, chirp.”
Camille laughed aloud. “He is a bird because males out here are so damn foul.” “I feel like it’s my fault, though,” Monique admitted. “All that back and forth nonsense just confused things, so I’m making myself very clear with what I want with Andre.”
“And what’s that?”
Again, Monique was silent. “Exactly,” Camille observed. “You don’t even know what you want.” Monique looked at the missed call on her screen with Andre’s name on top of it. “I'm scared that I'll end up like my mom.”
“Charletta’s fine.” “She’s just trying to put her kids through college. I bet she leaves once I graduate," Monique pessimistically vocalized. “Why do you sound hopeful of that,” Camille wondered. “Don’t you want your parents to be together?”
“I mean, of course I do, but I feel like my mom could have and should have done more. My parents are trying to convince me to get married and settle down straight out of college, but I have visions beyond being someone's wife.” “Who says marriage can't be a part of your visions?”
“You’re right,” Monique agreed. “It can be, but I’m not making it an end-all goal. If I don’t get married, I canstill find happiness.” “Do you want to get married?” Camille asked next, now curious. Monique thought on the question the said, “I did - until I saw what it’s doing to my brother. He’s out here like Khalid: young, dumb, and broke.”
Camille paused at the mention of James’s marriage. Monique, not noticing, continued, “Any way, what were we talking about before we got on the topic of marriage?” “Our families, but that’s irrelevant. We need to figure out what we’re wearing to Genesis tonight,” Camille responded with excitement in her voice. She was deciding to carry on the conversation and participate in Monique’s willful naivety. “I know you have to look good for your man," Camille commented knowingly.
Monique rolled her eyes. “Stop calling him that.” Camille was determined though. She told Monique, “I’m telling you - I saw him eyeing you last time we were there with Kendra and T.” Monique shook her head, replying, “Your mind is making things up because you’re really on this Andre thing.”
“He’s cute and his head is on straight. If you don’t go for him, I will.”
“Uh-uh,” Monique responded with some jealousy in her tone. Camille smiled. “Exactly. You like him. Remember we got into that whole debate about it after the thing?” “I remember,” Monique noted as she found her sexy dress. “You think I should wear this?”
“Hell yea! Even if you don't pull Andre, you're going to pull someone in that.” Monique laughed and started to put the dress on. As she thought about what Andre might think about the dress, she too thought about when she’d seen him last.
“You really cut it?” Caleb rubbed his hand over Andre’s scalp. “I thought women were feeling the whole ‘racially ambiguous coils’.” Andre shook his head. “Which is exactly why I cut it. I’m so tired of getting questions.”
Caleb looked at Andre, so Andre elaborated, “It seems like everyone wants me to be something else. My mamma wants me to embrace being Italian, one side of my dad’s folks want me to ‘start acting Jamaican’ and the other side wonders why I don’t speak Spanish. It’s like…I just want to live. All my life, I’ve only known Black. Yeah, I have these other things in me, but I’ve grown up Black.”
Caleb asked, “Is it fair that you would only claim Black?”
“Fair?” Andre questioned with slight defensiveness.
Caleb maintained his position. “Yeah. Is it fair? I'm not trying to take anything away from you and I love you as brother, but you’re not just Black.” Andre nodded because he embraced healthy debate. “I can see where you’re coming from and I definitely understand your point. I’m not just Black and I don't claim to be, but I also don’t see myself as Italian or Mexican. I see myself as Black. I’ve grown up around Black people and I went to an HBCU so I could be educated around intelligent Black people.”
“True.” Attendees were starting to come in, so Andre and Caleb cut their conversation short. “It was good talking to you, bro," Caleb stated. Andre and Caleb clapped hands. “Yeah - you too. We gotta continue the conversation.” Andre noted.
“Well, if you showed up to the club meetings, maybe we could,” Caleb responded with playful shade in his tone.
Andre laughed. “I’ll try to be better. I love what y’all do, but I never have time.” “Hey,” Shay greeted, taking Andre’s attention away. “Hey.” “Are you performing tonight?” Shay asked eagerly. She and Andre sat down at one of the tables while Caleb finished setting up. “I just might be. Isn’t that why you came?” Shay giggled but rolled her eyes. “Boy, bye. I came here for Caleb’s fine ass.”
Andre felt a little salty that Shay had blocked his shot so easily, but he kept his cool. Still he asked, "Didn’t he just get out of a year-long relationship like yesterday?”
“What that got to do with me?” With a drink in her hand, Shay made a bee line to Caleb while Andre looked for someone he knew. He found his associate Will and they sat together. Will asked, “Are you excited about performing?” Andre shook his head. “Nervous is the better word. You?”
“I’m good. My girl is here to support me.”
“Last I checked, you was single.”
Will smiled. “Well, my girl who’s not really my girl. You see her over there?” Will nodded toward a table that contained Monique, Camille, Tara and Kendra. “Yeah. Kendra’s cute,” Andre stated, trying not to stare too hard at Monique while speaking. “I’m not talking about Kendra. I’m talking about the other one.”
“Monique?” Andre said, anxiety flooding his tone. Will scrunched his face. “No, bro - Camille. She a redbone and I heard Donald talk about the thangs she can do with her tongue.” Andre shook his head. “It’s 2018, bro. We still on that redbone shit?”
“I can’t have a preference?”
“Yeah, of course you can, but it seems more like a sick infatuation.”
Will waved Andre off. “Man, whatever. I don’t care what you think this is, but she’s beautiful. All I gotta do is serenade her and she’s mine.” “You sure it don’t take more than that?” Andre noted skeptically. “I’m sure,” Will stated assuredly. “Heard she let one of Donald’s roommates smash, so I’m just waiting on my turn.”
“Girls like her are pass arounds. These hoes are for everybody. So, like I said, I'm waiting for my turn to ride her Ferris wheel.” Andre was turned off by Will's speech, so he stared at Monique. She was who he wished he was talking to. Picking up on it, Will asked, “You gone talk to her or continue being a creep?”
“What you talking about?”
“You been staring at Monique this whole time and I noticed the way you got red when you thought I was talking about Monique,” Will noted. Andre didn’t say anything and Will knew he was right. He chuckled. “Damn, you must like her or something. You hit yet?”
Andre shook his head. “Naw, I didn’t hit.” “But, wasn’t y’all kicking it?” “We kicked it a couple times,” Andre admitted. “I took her out to coffee once and then I invited her for lunch then I invited her to my spot to study."
Will groaned. “You mean to tell me you invited her to the crib and didn’t hit? What’s wrong with you?” Andre answered, “She told me she wants to take it slow." Will laughed. “You sound crazy! If she wanted to take it slow, she wouldn’t have gone back to your place. These females be lying, bruh.”
“After I cuff her, we can talk about it. It’s about what she wants at the end of the day.”
“Oh, y’all can talk about it,” Will repeated in a mocking tone. “You funny. You should’ve told her to stop playing games and let you hit.” “So, she could think I was trying to force her into something? Nah I’m good on that.” Will raised his eyebrow. “Aw, you on that shit."
“Gotta be, bro. We're not entitled to women's bodies."
"I ain't say all that. I just said if you come to my place and don't smash, what you there for?"
"To study," Andre emphasized. "I don't want her to think I'm no good like her ex." "Who's her ex," Caleb wondered.
"Tomas. I heard him talking about it at the barber shop."
"You talking about respecting women's space, but you sound like a real deal stalker right now and you know these females hate that too nowadays. If you pursue them, you harassing them."
"You should know when to back off and if you're making someone uncomfortable, but I wasn't stalking. I saw them together a couple times,” Andre pointed out, “Tomas said he was just trying to smash and go, but Monique was clingy and forced him into the relationship. That's what Nate told me."
Will wrinkled his face. “That’s really who you want?” “Nate stay lying for his boys, so I’m not about to trust what he says.” “Aw, you don’t want him to destroy the image of your wittle crush?"
Will laughed. “You buggin, man.” “We all have baggage,” Andre continued, still on the last comment. Will and Andre finally agreed on something. “Facts only. Bree still hitting you up?” Will asked. Andre said, “Nah - not anymore. I think she's focusing on herself or something."
“You fresh out of a relationship and already trying to jump into a new one.”
“I’m not jumping into anything,” Andre explained. “I’m getting to know Monique.” “Why,” Will questioned. “We don’t get to know these females. We smash and we pass. You tweaking.” Andre raised his eyebrow. “So, I’m tweaking because I see her as a human and not an object of male desire?”
Will could tell Andre was upset. He replied, “Naw, you tweaking because you not realizing that these hoes run in packs. Her friend a hoe, they friend Tara a hoe, her momma probably a hoe, so she must be a hoe too.” Andre curiously wondered, “Has it been confirmed that these women you speak of are hoes or are you just going off of what one nigga who got rejected said?” Will sighed and inhaled a hookah nearby. “You sound bout gay as hell right now.”
Andre stared blankly and didn’t say anything for a few minutes. “Why you get so quiet?” Will finally asked, voice blurred by the hookah pen in his mouth. “I’ve told you not to joke like that around me,” Andre reminded him.
Will sighed. “I’m sorry. I forgot about your brother.” Andre shook his head and responded, “Even though I’ve said multiple times, ‘my brother is gay’.”
Will looked at him. “It was a bad joke. I didn’t know you were so sensitive.” Andre didn’t respond, so Will continued, “I guess it’s the white in you.” Will meant it as a joke, but this comment caused Andre to go outside to get some fresh air. “I left something in my car.”
Andre left, but the only thing he was looking for was fresh air and a good poem. He had planned on doing a piece about being a first-generation college student with an immigrant parent, but he had a change of plans after that tense conversation. While Andre racked his brain for material, his eyes fell upon the sign to the hookah bar: Genesis. Suddenly, the conversations with both Will and Caleb inspired Andre.
“Look they have tenders.”
“Tenders sound good,” Camille said.
Monique bent down to check her purse and see how much money she had, but it wasn’t next to her. “I think I left my purse in the car.” Tara, who was looking over her menu, handed Monique the keys. “I’m parked right outside.”
“Let the white man tell it,
I’m a mutt.”
Monique raised her eyebrow as she walked out. She thought it was one of the local hoteps about to go on a spew, but it turned out to be Andre. “My Black sisters--” His voice fled when he saw that he was joined.
“What are you doing?” Monique asked.
“Thinking out loud.”
Monique smirked, kind of turned on. “Okay, Harvard. I must say I’m impressed. I didn’t think you had it in you.” Andre smiled. “Are we still on that?” “I can’t believe you thought Harvard was a type of alcohol.”
“I was 8 and I wish I’d never told you that story.”
Monique smiled. “Why didn’t you tell me you did poetry slams?” “Maybe I was getting around to it,” Andre pointed out. Monique nodded and started toward Tara’s car. Then, she thought about something. “I really enjoyed the food by the way.”
“I told you that you would.”
“Now, I believe you.”
“Maybe that’s not the only thing I can put you on to.” Andre stated. Monique raised her eyebrow and Andre thought that meant he was coming on too strong. “I’ma continue practicing and you go get whatever you need from the car.” Monique laughed and walked off. Andre watched her for a little bit then went back to his phone.
A while later, music played in the background. By this time, Tara was gone and the night was slowly winding down. There was one scheduled performer left and after that performance he would take last minute sign ups, Caleb said. First, though, he was going to play his new favorite song. Monique wasn’t paying attention to the music until she heard a familiar flow. “Ooh, can you turn that up,” she asked eagerly. Caleb nodded. “See? She 's vibing to it."
The song was “Spar,” which also happened to be Monique’s currently favorite song. After 6lack’s part, Monique touched Camille’s arm. “Girl, here it comes. Dreezy went in on this part.” Monique listened closely until one of her favorite parts of the verse came on. “They take our culture, our blueprint and pay the knock off to come model us,” Monique rapped along with Dreezy. Kendra scoffed. “Ugh I wish he would turn that back down. I’m tired of hearing Black women whine about cultural appropriation.”
Monique stopped rapping and scrunched her face. “Is that really what you think we’re doing? Or are we spreading awareness that our culture is not a commodity?” Camille could sense that this was about to be an argument, so she started to intervene. “Kodak was so lazy on his verse.”
Alas, Kendra was not backing down that easily. “What is ‘Black culture,’ anyway? Y’all complain about them taking ‘our’ hairstyles yet get weaves to look whiter.” Monique raised her eyebrow and commented, “I doubt any self-respecting weave-wearer is searching for bundles from the Mississippi lice collection.” Kendra rolled her eyes. “And then there’s that. Y’all claim the Kardashians are so problematic but say stuff like that.”
“It’s a joke.” “It’s ignorant,” Kendra noted. “If they made jokes about our naps, y’all would be trying to get someone fired from their job.”
Monique shook her head, wondering, “How can you, as a self-proclaimed Black woman, admire the Kardashians?” “Why not? They’re go-getters. Kim K came up off her sex-tape and used it to launch herself into a career as an internet icon. I would expect you as a feminist to revere that, not revile that.” Monique shook her head again. “I don’t subscribe to the label ‘feminism’.”
“Oh, that’s right - womanist. I just don’t see why we have to tag race onto everything.”
“It’s not tagging race onto everything. It’s recognizing that there were historic policies that banned Black women from wearing the same styles these culture vultures put on and take off like accessories. In February of 2017, the army just deregulated our protective styles, but in November of 2016, a woman in Alabama was denied a job for refusing to cut off her locs.” Monique caught her breath then continued, “So we’re not whining. We’re telling culture vultures, such as your beloved dark white Kardashians, that our culture is not a commodity. When, in the history of the world, has a non-Black woman been told her hair needs to be curlier to be more ‘professional’? I’ll wait.”
Kendra didn’t have an answer and Monique knew she wouldn’t. “I rest my case.” Kendra got up and went to another table while the chorus continued in Monique’s head. Camille shook her head and looked at her friend. “See, this is why people say you’re mean.” Monique sighed. “I wasn’t trying to be mean, but she had Black women fucked up. I know she likes to claim her 8% when it’s convenient for her, but I’m not having it.”
Camille tried to suppress her imminent laughter. “You’re a trip. Both Kendra’s parents are Black, though.” “Barely,” Monique replied in a comical voice. “What about me, then?” Camille wondered. “My mom’s white.” “Yeah, but you’re not out here bashing other Black women and saying that we’re ‘whining’ about cultural appropriation. There’s a difference between skin-folk and kin-folk.”
“Ooh, girl. Preach it.”
Caleb got on the mic. “The next piece will be ‘Roots’.” Tha Poet introduced herself then began her piece:
My roots are my HAIR-itage
Nappy hair, caramel skin
I wonder who I’d be back then
I feel pain for a cause I don’t fully know
I go insane because they took it as a joke
A boy was dead.
You stole his life
You know you made his mother cry.
You know you made that poor lady weep
Back 5 years from 1950.
How could you? How dare you?
Why would you laugh?
Show some remorse – all that I ask
No thanks to you, he was torn away.
A 14-year-old couldn’t see another day.
Not only murder, but you beat him to death.
I wish oh I wish I could put a gun to your head
But by now you’re probably dead
Burning each night. I'll never forgive. You robbed a life from a kid.
What'd he do that was so morally wrong?
There was no way he could’ve known.
Chicago and Vaiden were not one in the same.
You played with his life like it was a game.
300 odd years you got away with crime.
It was just a matter of time.
Rest in paradise young Bobo Till
And though they’ll never feel what we feel, we honor your soul so our own can heal.
- Jay. Tha Poet.
"Thank you for allowing me to share," she stated graciously. Tha Poet exited the stage gracefully and Monique nodded. “Powerful.” Camille joked, “Yeah, so you going up next?” Monique scoffed. “What? No. I been told you I don’t have bars.”
“Do you think Lil Kim came out the womb spitting? Do you think that Rapsody did not have to practice her rhymes? Have you heard Cardi B’s ‘Cheap Ass Weave’? It takes practice and patience.”
“I appreciate how you shouted out so many women rappers.”
“You know I’ve been slacking on my recognition of women’s raw talents, so I’m trying to do better.”
“I feel it. The lack of recognition for women, not female, emcees is the trickle-down effect of a patriarchal society.”
Camille snapped about 5 times. “See? That right there was bars.” “No, I was just talking.” “But, the way you just phrased that was kind of poetic,” Camille complimented. Monique thought, “Thanks, but I’m not emotionally raw enough to be a poet. I would get on that mic and spit some shit like, ‘My name is Mo. I like books. Fuck Trump cause I hate crooks.”
“Shook!” Camille exclaimed. Caleb, who heard the friends chatting, came to the table. “Will either of you ladies be gracing the stage? It’s open sign-ups.” Monique shook her head. “Unfortunately, no. I don’t have anything prepared.”
“I’ll drop a beat if you’ll drop some bars.”
Monique smiled. “That’s going to be one lonely beat, then.” Caleb sighed because Monique wasn’t budging. “Fine - you don’t perform, but would you like to accompany me to the SGA Spring concert?” Monique raised her eyebrow at Caleb’s boldness. “That’s a bold offer.”
“Text me your reply.”
Caleb went back to the stage and Camille made a “sizzle” sound. “Is it hot in here or is it just you?” “I don’t take Caleb seriously. He’ll be back with Georgia before the month is out.” “Mo, I’m tryna get some of your juice cause these males are completely fawning over you.”
“It’s because they’re all fawns - childish as hell.”
Camille smacked her lips. “That’s it! You need to get on that mic. Caleb, I think she wants to go next.” Caleb raised his eyebrow and looked at Monique. “Word?” “Nah,” Monique mouthed back. Caleb chuckled and asked the audience if anyone else wanted to get on the mic. “I will.” Monique’s head pivoted because the voice was so familiar.
Andre got on the stage. “I go by the stage name ‘Erudite’.” Caleb nodded. “Let’s give it up for Erudite.” Can I be the Malcolm to your Betty, Monique heard in her head. “Cam, that’s him.” “Him? Him who?” “That’s Andre.” Camille gasped. “Ooh. He looks even finer in person.”
“Girl, shut up before he hears you.”
They were on the front row, so Andre heard every word. He smirked as he adjusted the mic. Monique wanted to hide her head because she was so embarrassed. “This goes out to all my Black people who like black people. I call it, ‘For The Kinfolk’.” This intro elicited many snaps from the audience. Andre articulated:
Let the white man tell it,
I’m a mutt.
My Black sisters are deemed sluts
And voodoo Queens.
What does that mean?
You look at my face
And see the obscene realities of my daddy’s war demons -
The virulent venom pumping in his sable veins.
Let the white man tell it,
He’s crazy mane
Cause ain’t shit Gucci
With the way this country is divided into gangs,
Like that movie about New York.
I’m a mutt.
I’m a York.
I’m a mixed breed,
But that makes me a hybrid of grace and greed,
Stealth and speed.
Let the white man tell it,
I need his approval,
His policing of my identity,
But have I created an enemy within my family?
Let the white man tell it,
I’m his great-grandchild.
His loving kin filed for divorce from
Her daddy’s Eurocentric norms
And formed bonds with Africa’s sons -
The same place they pillaged with guns.
From my heritage, I don’t run.
I’ve absorbed power from the sun,
For I am the son who will shine.
You see, my Blackness is not derived
From this skin of mine
But from my mind.
I do not define me through the lens of others.
I believe we must unify our darker sisters and brothers,
But do we need another Stacey to Dash from her Blackness when she pleases?
Do we need another Uncle Tom to uphold their white Jesus?
This is for the sista who teases her curls because she loves the pattern.
This is for the brotha who knows we reflect Saturn.
This is for the kinfolk - light and dark,
Old and new.
My family, this is for you.
- Jay. Tha Poet. (Created for this short story series)
Andre thanked the audience for listening and the audience thanked him for sharing. They had enjoyed Andre’s painfully honest piece. “I liked it, but I don’t get why he calls himself a mutt," Camille said. Monique explained, “He's multicultural.” Camille raised her eyebrow and Monique continued, “He told me over coffee that his mom his Ethiopian and Italian and his dad is Jamaican and Mexican.”
“Ah - on your not-date.”
“Yep and I’m glad you’re calling it what it was: not a date.”
“I was about say damn your stalking skills are on that level?”
“Ignoring that.” Monique rolled her eyes. “But did you catch when he said ‘My Black sisters are deemed slut / Yet angelic / Aliens / And voodoo Queens?” “Oh!!!!”
Camille was extra in her realization. “I see now. He was playing on the stereotypes about each culture - Black American women are always depicted as whores, white women are viewed as angels, Mexicans are called aliens, and Jamaican people are associated with voodoo.”
“Yes, Camille,” Monique replied sardonically. Camille sighed. “You know it takes me longer to grasp things.” “Oh, I know, but it’s okay because you can do that crazy mental math.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Girl, what’s 85x13?”
“1,105. That’s easy.”
Monique stared blankly. “For you, yes. For an average Joe…excuse me, an average Jane like myself, it’s not.” “I’ll take that.” Andre joined Monique and Camille at this point. “I’m not surprised to see you here,” he told Monique.
“Oh? Why not?”
“The most prominent of us has been immersed in our oral culture.” “Us meaning Black people?” Camille interjected. She too was attracted to Andre’s palpable consciousness. Yet, it wasn’t in a sexual context. “Yes - exactly.” “I feel it. I’m Camille, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Andre.” They shook hands and Monique felt an unexplained blitz of jealousy. “You know, I enjoyed your piece. I was kind of thrown off when you kept calling yourself a ‘mutt,’ but I think I got the point at the end.”
“I’m glad and I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
“What inspired you to write it?”
Andre sighed. “I was out shopping with my mom, who’s light enough to pass for white, and she started speaking Italian and this racist white man walked past murmuring, ‘mutt’ and I was like, ‘Oh bet. I got your mutt.” Camille laughed. “Welcome to the south.”
“Where day after day, they constantly remind you that you’re not from here.”
“That goes for this part of America and the country in general," Camille added. Andre nodded and finally looked at Monique, who was awkwardly silent. “How about you? I know you have an analysis of the piece.” Monique half-smiled. “I thought it was good.” “Any specific lines that stuck out?”
Monique could recall most of the poem in her head, but she wasn’t admitting that. “Well, I’m glad you liked it.” “Yep.” Camille, who was eager to avoid the tension, said, “Hey, Mo, we need to work on that project, so why don’t we head out?” “I think that’s a good idea.”
“See you later, Monique.”
Andre and Monique shared one last glance before she disappeared. On the walk home, Camille pondered how to start the conversation. “I’m sorry?” Camille stated. “What are you talking about?” Monique replied.
“You’re obviously mad about something,” Camille pointed out. Monique, who was frustrated by the way Camille and Andre had just hit it off, admitted, “I’m kind of irritated that you completely monopolized that conversation with Andre.”
“Whoa there, Socrates. Use English, please.”
“Monopolized is an English word,” Monique pointed out dryly. “And I’d rather you not compare me to some dead white man.” Camille made a “rawr!” sound. “Someone’s on the feisty side this evening.” “I’m being so serious, though.”
Camille sighed because she knew she’d upset her friend. “Well, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to monopolize the conversation. I just thought it was nice to talk to someone who shares my experiences of being mixed. I was not trying to step on your toes.” “See, I would believe you if you haven’t been clocking this man ever since I showed him to
“I mean, he’s a good-looking guy, Mo. That’s an observation. That doesn’t mean I’m trying to move in on him, though. If you wanted to say something, you could have.” Monique sighed because she knew Camille was right. Yet, she was too prideful to admit that. “I’ll see you later.” They were at the apartments, so Monique started going to hers.
“Are we still on for tomorrow morning?”
“What’s tomorrow morning?”
“The appointment, Mo. You forgot already?”
Monique exhaled because, in all the irrational jealousy and underlying insecurity, she had forgotten about Camille's extremely important appointment. “Yeah, I did. Yes, we’re still on for that.” “Do you promise to be in a better mood?” Camille wondered.
“I’m sorry you felt like I stepped on your toes.” “Okay.” Monique started to go into her apartment but realized she was being childish. “I’m sorry for getting bitchy.” Camille gasped dramatically. “Was that an apology that just emerged from her prideful lips?”
Monique shook her head. “You’re so irritating.” Camille on the banister and tried to offer her good friend some wisdom. She said, “Look, he’s a nice guy, Mo, and he’s got something to say. I wish you the best of luck with him.” “Thanks, Cam. Call me when you’re ready to go.” “I will.” As the friends parted ways, Camille felt her phone vibrating. She pulled it out and saw that it was an unknown number. “Stop calling me!” She hollered while ignoring it. It was about the 5th called she’d gotten from an unknown number in a few short days.
Her roommate, who was doing hair in the living room, looked at Camille strangely. “Everything good?” Camille shook her head. “I can hear my ex calling,” Camille murmured, thinking about 6lack's song. Camille's roommate scoffed. “Guys know everything except when to give up.” Camille laughed as she opened the refrigerator, but her laugh was bittersweet. “Yeah. Exactly.”
“Hey, do you want the rest of my liq that's in the freezer? My girl told me they’re doing random apartment checks, so I’m trying to get rid of it like today.”
“Yeah, girl, I’ll…” Camille paused. “Actually, never mind. I’m supposed to be taking a break from drinking.”
“Understandable. Can you pour it out?” "I got you." Camille disposed of the alcohol then grabbed one of her lemonades from the fridge. “Nina pay the bill yet?”
“You know she didn’t. I bet she be spending her bill money on all that weed she be smoking.”
“I doubt it. Half the time, she’s letting dudes smoke her out.”
The client, who was reading a book, paused to hear Camille and Tia spill the roommate tea. Tia chuckled a little bit. “Damn, Camille, we ain’t no good talking about sis like this.” “Okay, but she’s always late on the bill and I’m tired of the housing office harassing us for that money. I’ma march down and tell that director, ‘Look, Beatrice, I paid my portion, so you can miss me with all that indignation’.”
Tia stomped her feet as the laughter moved through her whole body. “I ain’t playing with you, Camille.” Camille smirked and grabbed something to heat up. “All this sass is gone come back to bite me in the ass on judgment day.”
Once Camille’s food was done, she went to her room and locked the door. Although she was able to feign normalcy with Tia, Camille was breaking down every second on the inside. She looked at her closet and remembered when feeling was fleeing from her body as it crashed into Donald’s armoire. “Bitch, are you pregnant?!”
He had been having one of his moments. Camille had worked to pick herself back up and that’s when he put her in a chokehold. “Answer me!” Camille looked at the blood on her heel that had come from hitting Donald over the head with it. If it hadn’t been for that shoe, she wasn’t sure she would’ve escaped. Suddenly, Camille was in the hallway of Donald’s dorm again, passing out. “Somebody call an ambulance!”
Andre was watching a cooking demo when Nate knocked at the door. “Yo, Dre.” “What’s good?” “Bree’s here.” Andre groaned and pulled on some shoes. He planned to handle his business outside. “Yes, Bree?” “So it’s true, right?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I was at the open mic, Dre. I saw you talking to her!”
“Bree, I’m sorry it didn’t work out between us. My heart is in a different place.” Breanna shook her head. “I’m so over this. Whatever.” She started walking away and Andre asked, “Can I still get that $50, though?”
Breanna turned around. “You’re not serious, are you?” “You said you had me.” “Yeah - before you went and started seeing other bitches!”
“Whoa, calm down. I’m not seeing her. She’s not a bitch. And we just got coffee once.”
Bree shook her head. “That’s how it starts. No, I’m not giving you that damn $50. Better ask your new bitch for it!” Bree left in her car, madder than ever that Andre was really ditching their 2-year relationship. Andre told her that he was beginning to feel smothered and he wanted to end it before they ruined their chance at a friendship.
Bree thought about Andre’s betrayal as she got ready that night. “Bree, slow down,” her friend warned. “You know you gotta drive.” “I’ll be fine!” Bree finished the bottle and was off to the club. Before they even made it to the main street, Bree’s friend had to take over. “I think we should turn around.”
Although Maya had a couple drinks in her system, she felt like she was in a better state than Bree to drive. Andre, who knew about Bree’s habits, worried about her. He didn’t want to be in a relationship with her, but he did still care for her and her safety. “She’s good,” Maya told him over the phone. “She kind of overdid it, but she’s good.”
“I’ll tell her you were checking on her.”
“Please get Bree some help. You know she needs it.”
Maya sighed. “Lord knows we all do, but I’ll talk to her.” “Alright. You have a safe night.” “You too.” Andre hung up the phone and continued his search for some food. Nate, who was in the living room rolling up, asked, “Was that about Bree?” “Yep.”
“I think it’s a good thing you left her alone. She got problems.”
“Hey, we all have problems.”
Nate shook his head. “Nah, not like that. She had mental problems.” “Mental diseases can be developed when you suppress traumatic experiences,” Andre noted, reflecting on stories Bree had shared with him about her childhood. “I guess. I had an aunt like that.”
“Did your family get her help?”
“Nope. They just denied it until they couldn’t anymore. Now, her suicide is a hole in my family.” “Damn.” Nate nodded. “Shit is tragic.” “Is that why you smoke - to block stuff like that?” “You the Feds? You asking a lot of questions.”
“I’m just wondering.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Nate told Andre while he lit a blunt to bury deep-seated anguish. “I won’t, but I just want you to know there are other outlets.” “Yeah, whatever. You got my money?” Andre sighed because it was bill time. “I’ll have it tomorrow.”
“Ok. Don’t make me start charging interest.”
“That wasn’t discussed when the loan was given.”
Nate pointed his lighter at Andre. “Oh, I forgot you was a law school nigga and business law at that, but guess what? I’m a street nigga and when I give you money and you take too long to pay it back, I add to it.” Andre laughed. “If you were really a street nigga, you would be out in the streets, nigga. You soft.”
Nate looked seriously at Andre. “Don’t say that shit again.” “I grew up around real street niggas and college was never in the plans for them, so what are you doing here?” “It’s a good market.” Andre shook his head. “You ain’t nothing but a business man. Don’t let the trap music you blast so loud give you amnesia.”
Nate stood up. “Andre, where’s my money?” “I said I’d have it for you tomorrow.” “Aight. And not a minute too late.” Andre knew his words wouldn’t sit well with Nate, but he had to say them. In the room, Andre thought about ways he was about to get that money and nothing came to him.
Monique groaned because her arm was tired. “How much longer is this going to take,” she asked herself. Even though she’d cut her hair off, it was still a hassle. “You don’t have that much hair, they said. It’ll be easier to manage, they said. Well, they lied.” She parted another section and began another two-strand twist. As the oil ran through Monique’s palms onto the hair, she thought about the opening poem from the open mic night. My roots are my hair-itage.
“Oh!” Monique realized aloud. “Her hair-itage - like the roots in her hair.” Monique laughed vibrantly as she came to the realization. Then, Camille called. “Hey. Tara’s going to be here in 15.” Monique looked at her clock. “Wow. I thought I had more time," she said. “To do what?" Camille questioned. "You got somebody there and you gotta find a way to kick him out?” Monique found that prospect laughable. “Girl please. No.” “So, what are you doing?”
Camille nodded. “I’m glad I don’t have to worry about that right now.” “What are you talking about? You know your hair grows back in like 2 seconds.” Camille exhaled and stated, “I hope this 2 seconds will be long because I get tired of dealing with my hair.”
“Why not just leave it short?” Monique asked.
“You know, I’m thinking about it. We can make this BBBA a real thing.”
Monique smiled. “BBBA, Incorporated.” “Knowing you, you would really try to make that happened,” Camille noted. “If this Mo’s Mix thing don’t work out, that could be a back-up plan,” Monique guessed. “I’m sure it will work out,” Camille assured Monique. “You got Dr. Wade to let you use the labs to test your stuff and everything. Plus, you’re probably going to get that grant to start working on building your business.”
“I appreciate that you’re so optimistic for me.”
“I wish I had dreams like that. Dr. Young was telling me she wants me to be her apprentice for the spring, but I don’t know.”
Monique wondered, “Is it paid?”
“Yeah. I’m thinking about it.”
“Don’t think about it. Do it. That could be a job when we get out of here.”
“That’s true.” Camille looked at the pictures on her wall. “Guess what my latest app is?” “I’m listening,” Monique said while selecting a scarf to put on since her hair was nowhere near finished. “Okay so I call it ‘4C,’ which is 4C like the hair texture and foresee like the word. It would basically analyze your curl pattern and designate which products would be most beneficial for you. It would also develop a suggested hair regimen and have videos tailored to your texture and length.”
Monique nodded, a little impressed by the idea. “That could be a good partnership with Mo’s Mix if you stuck with it.” “I probably won’t,” Camille admitted. Tara pulled up, so Camille said, “Her highness here.” “I’m going to ignore your purposeful sarcasm. I'll be down in a minute.” Monique chuckled while she hung up the phone.
As soon as Camille got inside the car, she looked at Monique’s head. “Why are you wearing a scarf?” Monique shrugged. “For style purposes?” Alas, Camille was unconvinced. “Yeah sure. Let me see your hair.”
Camille tried to see under the scarf and Monique swatted Camille’s anxious hand away 3 times. “Ow!” “Somebody needs to make a scarf or that says, ‘keep out’ for vultures like you.” Camille smiled, replying, “Whatever. I’ll bet it looks cute.” “I’ll bet it does too, but it’s not done.” “Are they girlfriends or something,” Tara’s boyfriend Rashaad tried to whisper.
Camille stuck her head in the front. “We’re not, but it’s still impolite to whisper and make assumptions about people.” “Y’all act like y'all some lesbians.” “We’re just close friends," Camille informed him. Rashaad still shook his head. “I’m not close like that with my homeboys.”
“Okay, but what does that have to do with me?” Camille pestered.
“Shit is weird, man.”
“It’s weird for me to interact with my best friend in the way I see fit?”
Tara looked at Rashaad. “Just drop it, ok? I’m not in the mood to hear an argument right now.” “It’s not an argument,” Camille noted. “I wasn’t asking you,” Tara quickly fired back. Monique and Camille looked at each other then continued their sidebar. Once they were at the destination, Tara said, “Call me when you’re ready for me to come back.” Then, she sped off. Tara's behavior was strange and Monique would get some context for the behavior later in the day. In the meantime, she and Camille entered the clinic.
“We’re going to be here all day,” Monique complained while scanning the room. Camille sighed as she took in all the strange, scared faces of other women in her predicament. “Looks like it. It’s like 50 people ahead of me.” Camille huffed and signed in. Although Camille had been talkative on the way over, she was now quiet. Her leg started shaking, so Monique took her hand. “You’re brave,” Monique reminded her friend.
They sat talking for what seemed like forever as the door opened and closed and the waiting room atmosphere changed rapidly. Then, finally, the nurse called, “Camille Harrison?” Camille froze when she heard her name. “It’s okay, Cam.” Camille let Monique’s hand go and embarked down the long hallway.
It was strange because she had just been in the hospital a few months before. Now, she was back and the catalyst was the same: Donald. “Put this gown on for me.” “Ok.” “And now sign this.” “Ok.” Camille, who was barely there, scribbled something like a signature on the page. “Now, I need you to lay on the table. This may hurt a little bit…” The doctors voice faded out as Camille’s mind faded to black. This would be her second time on the operating table and it made her fearful of if she’d ever have kids. I’ve let all of them go.
Monique was nearly at the end of her book when she got a call. “Hello?” “Hey, Mo.” “Hey, James.” “How are you?”
“I’m well. Why are you calling me?”
James scoffed. “Dang. I can’t call to check on my little sister every so often?” Monique laughed. “My bad. I just don’t hear from you much anymore since I went away to school.” “I know. We gotta fix that when you come back.” Monique nodded. “Definitely.” She asked, “What’s up? How’s the apartment?”
James exhaled and said, “Laila redecorated again. She said it’s not quite the vision that she wanted.” Monique chuckled. “That’s a woman for you. If it’s not the way we see it in our heads, we have to constantly change it.”
“Yeah - true. I still can’t believe it, though. I’m a married man.”
“It’s different to think about,” Monique admitted.
“How’s school going for you?” James asked to change the subject.
“It’s going well. I’m just ready to finish up. How’s the shop?” “Still stressful,” He revealed. “I think grandpa Jerry is going to bring Bo in so it won’t be so much pressure on me.” “That should be fun,” Monique insisted.
“Maybe. How is Camille?”
“See, I was waiting for that. That’s probably what you really called about.”
James sighed. “Guilty.” Monique wondered, “Have you tried contacting her directly?” “She won’t answer my calls.”
“Hmm. I wonder why.”
James exhaled. “She’s still mad about the wedding.” The door opened and Camille walked out like a ghost. Monique knew Camille needed a friend. “I think it’s more than that, but I’m going to call you back later.” “Alright. Bye sis.” “Bye.” Monique hung up as Camille sat back down. “I can’t do this anymore. It’s too draining. I can’t believe I just did that.”
Camille started crying hysterically and Monique couldn’t do anything but sit there in support. “I’m sorry that you had to go through this again." Camille shook her head and told herself, “We gotta do better.” “You just have to find a way to make peace with what your uncle did to you.”
Camille nodded and continued crying. Monique let Camille cry into her shoulder while Monique called Tara. After the 3rd attempt, Monique grew frustrated. “I know this bitch did not just leave us in…” Monique’s voice trailed off as her thumbs moved with swiftness to send Tara a mock dissertation critically analyzing Tara’s insensitive behavior.
“Can we at least get out of here,” Camille pleaded. The longer she stayed in that environment, the more Camille thought about what she’d just done. “Yeah. Let’s go,” Monique said. They walked to a nearby diner while Monique tried to figure out how they were getting back to campus. Neither one had a car and they were 45 minutes out.
As Camille was staring at a full plate, Monique was contacting everyone she knew. Andre, who was in the area, was completing an assignment. “I think you would be a good fit for the program,” David Morrison, a partner from Markson, LLC, told Andre. Andre raised his eyebrow. “Oh, really?” Morrison nodded. “Yes. You did splendid with the mock trial.” “Thank you, sir.”
Andre stuck out his hand and Morrison gave Andre a firm handshake. “You’re welcome. Here’s your check.” Morrison pulled a checkbook from his jacket pocket and retrieved a golden piece of paper with a professional seal that said “Markson LLC.” To Andre, it was like the golden ticket from Willy Wonka. Andre looked down at the heavenly $500 gift. Gas. Rent. Food. “I didn’t know there would be compensation.” “We use these analyses for actual cases, so we pay students for their work.”
Andre nodded graciously. “Thank you so much, sir.”
“Not a problem. We know how hard, and expensive, law school can be, so we try to help where we can.”
Andre nodded. “Yes. Thank you.” “Treat yourself to a nice meal. You deserve it.” “I will," Andre promised truthfully. Andre left the courthouse and stopped at a local diner, where he spotted Monique and Camille.
“Is she okay? She didn’t say anything the whole way here and rushed out.” Andre observed.
“It’s been a long day for her.” Andre figured that meant it was something private. “Ah. How about you? How are you?” “I’m okay.” “Why just okay?”
“It’s been a long day for me too," Monique admitted.
Andre nodded. “Can I share something with you?” Monique shrugged. “I guess.” “I was really inspired when you were telling me about your business plan and I wrote something for you,” Andre mentioned. Monique raised her eyebrow. “We hardly know each other.”
“I feel like that can change.”
“Ok. What did you write?”
“It’s 2 haikus that are based on each other,” Andre explained. Then, he read them:
Only Black by hair
she is lost in a world where
Heritage is denied.
Andre paused for effect then continued:
Very Black by hair,
she is the brave soul
who will bring my mamma home.
“Those are beautiful,” Monique complimented. “Thank you. The first was one for my mamma.”
“Your Italian and Ethiopian mamma?”
Andre nodded and smiled. “You remembered. Her only defining ‘Black’ characteristic is her hair.” “Why do you say that I’m the brave soul who will bring your mamma home?” Monique questioned. Andre told her, “Your mission is brave- to create hair care products tailored to Black hair. I feel like that can make people like my mamma love their hair and their heritage.”
“That opening poem,” Monique said, “The opening line said my roots are my hair-itage and it took me days to grasp it.” “The truth is in the pudding,” Andre stated. Monique laughed. “I like that. The truth is in the pudding. Thank you though - for the haiku. It's beautiful.”
"A fan, is she?"
Monique smirked. "Quite possibly. Also, thanks for helping us out. We were SOL for a second." Andre said, “No problem. You two looked like you needed help, so I tried to help where I could.” "Your gesture didn't go unnoticed," Monique told Andre.
She started to leave but realized she forgot something. “I really liked your poem at the open mic night too. Your delivery and message were both excellent.”
Monique smiled and went into her apartment. While she thought about her brief conversation with Andre, her phone rang. “Hello?”
Tara: Hey, where are you?”
Monique: I’m on campus.
Tara: Oh. You didn’t need a ride back?
Monique (rolling her eyes): We did - hours ago.”
Tara: Girl, I’m sorry. Me and Rashaad were into it and then he stole my car and I was stuck at my mom’s house and--
Monique: (interjecting) You are really something else. (pauses) Camille just got a baby sucked out of her body and you could not put away your selfish tendencies for one second to help her?
Tara: I just told you my car got stolen!
Monique: Tara, I saw your car when I pulled up to campus.
Tara: (sighing) Okay. Maybe I didn’t want to help her abort her baby. So what?
Monique: A real friend does not judge her friend’s choices. Camille needed you.
Tara: (chiming) What Camille needs is professional help.
Monique: Yeah? Well, guess what? We all do.
Monique hung up the phone because she didn’t want to hear any more of it. While Monique was trying to calm down, her roommate came home. 3 minutes later, Monique got a text message that the bill was on the table. She went to retrieve it then placed a phone call.
Mrs. Ross exhaled. “Baby, we don’t have it right now. James sucked us dry with this apartment.”
Monique sighed and said, “Mom, the bill’s due soon.” “I wish we could help. Call your auntie.” “Okay. Bye.” Monique hung up and dialed the number to her uncle’s house. “Hello?”
“Hey, sweetie. What’s up?”
“Can I borrow some money?” Monique asked, cutting to the chase. Monique’s uncle exhaled. “I wish I could help, but you know your auntie just had her surgery and our deductible is $9,000.” “I understand, but I really need money. It’s for a bill.” Another sigh. “I’m so sorry, baby girl. We don’t have it,” he told Monique.
“Okay. I’ll talk to you later.” Monique tried her brother Daniel next. He picked up but was silent for several minutes. “Daniel?” “Hello? Who’s this?” “It’s me, Daniel. It’s Mo.”
“Monique, they’re trying to take her away!” Daniel yelled. Monique raised her eyebrow. “Take who away? And who’s trying to do this?” “Auntie Pam,” Daniel uttered. “They’re convincing her she has cancer so they can take her away just liked they’ve done all our people.” After the day she’d had with Camille, Monique wasn’t in the mood for Daniel’s conspiracies. “Danny, have you slept at all today?”
“How can I sleep when the government is trying to keep us asleep?”
Monique exhaled. “Are you sure you don’t want mom to get you some help?” “I don’t need help!” Daniel yelled. Monique pulled the phone away from her ear so it wouldn’t be too loud. “I’m not crazy!” “No, you’re not crazy. I’m sorry for suggesting you were.”
Then, Daniel switched back to his regular mood. “I made a lot of sales today. Malcolm said we’re doing good.” “Who’s Malcolm?” “He’s my partner…business partner.” Monique wasn’t sure why Daniel emphasized the last part but didn’t question it. “I’m glad to hear it,” she said, “Tell me more about it.”
Monique had wanted to ask him for money, but she had just borrowed from him when she had gone on the date. Plus, she just wanted to have a conversation with her brother to make sure he was okay.
“We have to start caring more about our health. If we let the government control our food, we’ll be feeding into another form of their population control. It’s just like with Planned Parenthood.” Monique sighed because Daniel’s words were bringing up ugly thoughts from earlier. “I’m glad you have a vision,” she mentioned.
“Malcolm studied a lot of Dick Gregory in undergrad and did his senior thesis on health disparities in the Black community with special focus on people like Gregory and Dr. Sebi. This was really his vision.” Daniel noted with affectionate admiration flooding his tenor.
“Are you and Malcolm close?” Monique wondered.
Daniel could tell that Monique was trying to pry into his personal life, so he switched the subject. “Mom called me a little bit ago. You need some more money?” He’s still hiding from himself, Monique realized. “Yes,” she replied.
“Okay. I’ll send it to you.”
Monique said, “Thank you, Daniel. You didn’t have to do that." Daniel sighed. “I just want our family to break the cycle of poverty they’ve inflicted upon us and I think you can be the one to do it with that business you want to start.” “I appreciate you saying that. I want you to get some sleep so your thoughts don’t get ahead of you, okay?” Monique told him.
“I can’t sleep, Monique. They’ll try to take me in my sleep.”
Daniel’s phone started clicking. “It’s Malcolm. I have to go.” Daniel hung up and Monique sighed. She called her mom back and shared what Daniel had said. “He’s spiraling,” Mrs. Ross noted. “He just needs to go to church more often and they can get that demon out of him, but he’s afraid of the church.”
“I think he needs to see a psychologist.”
“But who can afford that?” Charletta challenged.
Monique sighed. “I don’t know, but I’m worried.” “Trust me. I am too. I don’t want you to worry about that, though. You have enough to deal with.” “Mom?” Monique’s voice broke as she shared the news about Camille. Although Camille had been the one on the table, Monique felt Camille’s pain too. Mrs. Ross exhaled upon hearing of Camille’s pain. “I will be praying for her just like I’m praying for Daniel and I’m praying for you and for James.”
“We just need to send a universal prayer to lift up the whole community.”
“I agree.” After a 3-hour conversation with her mother, Monique turned on her music and let it take her away:
We pouring Henny cause we all bottled up.
Ever wondered about the tension between Camille and James? The "hurdles" Andre and Monique professed to have climbed over? Why we meet Earl's family and not Charletta's? What led up to Daniel and Malcolm's heartbreaking split?