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☕️ That Tea Might Be Too Hot 🔥

Disclaimers: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of guest blogger, Crystal Belcher, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of any other party that may be mentioned, and organization or companies in which I am affiliated. I am not, nor do I claim to be a licensed therapist or psychologist, rather I am only providing my personal opinion based on information provided to me, requested of me and based on my own personal experiences. As well, there may be periodic uses of expletives and if you are not receptive to them you are advised to wait for the summary from other viewers. With that being said, welcome to my edition of #CovidConversations.

So like many of you, I have become privy to the tea that has been running rampant on the Instagrams. And I want to expound on and hopefully provide some clarity in regards to the most recent conversation that has been broadcasted in our community. I have a number of people reach out to me to play this Iyanla Vanzant role which is flattering but indeed bears a heavy toll that I don’t do in jest. So I took a few days to breakdown what was being posted, shared and inquired of so that I could find words appropriate and relative to this matter. Because as y’all know this ordeal has indeed spun a web of controversy! Clearly we all got time, honey. 


The focus of the conversation is not to discuss the definitives of Carmine’s and Kia’s issues but rather a means to discuss our responsibility as influencers and viewers alike. In all actuality, it is not my business to delve that deep into their relationship, or lack thereof, despite me knowing them on a professional and personal level. This is also not an attack on either party. But what it has brought to the forefront are some key topics that we as a community of artists, athletes and fitness enthusiasts should feel free to openly discuss. I’m hoping that at the conclusion of this post that we feel more compelled to communicate responsibly.  

Using your words have consequences. All persons have a right to voice their opinions, feelings and concerns, but remember in doing so that you leave yourself open for concurrence as well as ridicule and criticism. Your words have power regardless of how many internet followers and real-life friends you may have. We all can go viral at any time for any reason. If you don’t remind yourself of these things before you press send or utter it aloud, you are doing a disservice to yourself and your community and sparking flames that can turn into a wildfire. Get you some real friends who can buffer your life, IJS. 

I understand that I have a position where my words can reflect more than just myself, they are considered an extension of the companies and organizations I work for and the people whom I represent. As a host, not only do I try to practice mindfulness, but I have been reminded a few times that I have had moments where I unintentionally failed to honor and respect all bodies in the space. Though my words meant no harm and only enforced specific things, it was still suggested that I may have acknowledged my audience in a tone that they could not appreciate. And as much as I knew that they were doing the most in their critique of me, their interpretations of what I said was still valid, and it was my job to find alternative ways to maintain their attention and speak towards their comprehension. 

There has been a mention of Toxic Positivity being too prevalent in our community and how that may be a hindrance to our progression. I want to first open with speaking to those who feel as if the pole community is a monolith curated only of glitter, unicorns, sunshine and daffodils. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but that indeed is a false narrative. Now don’t get me wrong many of us celebrate the accomplishments and good vibes that we gain from our personal, performance and studio spaces. And that is true, relevant and necessary to uphold. We need that good juju, especially now. But the opposite of that lives ego, narcissism, privilege, insecurity, jealousy, belittlement, impersonation, burnout, depression, etc. And this happens EVERYWHERE frens! It’s not that unique of a space. Ask any cheerleader you’ve ever known!

There was a recent article posted in the Washington Post by Alyson Chiu that read, “While cultivating a positive mind-set is a powerful coping mechanism, toxic positivity stems from the idea that the best or only way to cope with a bad situation is to put a positive spin on it and not dwell on the negative,” said Natalie Dattilo, a clinical health psychologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “It results from our tendency to undervalue negative emotional experiences and overvalue positive ones.” What that says is we are human beings who have real ass fucking feelings and problems. And we are not always ok. There is space for us to not only recognize that but share it with others who may be experiencing the same thing. Every route to healing is unique, not always covered in paved roads and has varying distances. 

Both Nadia and Carmine agreed that it’s sometimes necessary to make people aware when issues are not aligned or when moments go awry in personal and professional spaces, a.k.a. airing dirty laundry. I agree with that sentiment because it creates balance amongst our community. Yet and still, the information you put forth has to be considered with responsibility and accountability. There is a time and place, and if that is the interwebs, realize that it has consequences. Be prepared for whatever follows. And at the end of it all, especially in front of the masses, you will be charged, if you don’t seek first, with finding a conclusion.     

With the mention of responsibility and accountability we have to face ourselves, especially in the age of virtual/digital receipts. If you are so emboldened to air your dirty laundry about any matter, the least you should do is acknowledge both sides of an issue. In case you need to reminded, all private matters don’t need public opinion. TBH some of us could give nary shits about you and what you going through. No shade, we all got on our own shit. But if you are willing to air it out, be mindful of the backlash that will follow, especially if you’re omitting information. Context is necessary to proving your point, otherwise, it’s a one-sided prose that can lack validity. You’ll end up either looking like a victim or an aggressor, which unfortunately leaves an audience in a space of distortion. If you aren’t ready for that, take responsibility and dead the conversation. 

I also found fault in wanting to discuss disparities between people and business’ views and actions, but lack the willingness to speak with those entities when requested or prior to your posts of discontent. It’s the same as our parents and partners using the empty expression, “Because I said so.” It’s not an answer with resolution and certainly no accountability. In many ways, it is a cop-out to taking the necessary steps behind the scenes to further the comprehension of others. No matter how many times a person says, “You already know, I’m not telling you again, I don’t have anything to say,” you are failing to communicate clearly when a person or entity is trying to understand you. The onus is on you to make it crystal clear, even if it is the 2nd, 3rd or 100th time saying. Say it with your chest. Word to Nene Leakes, “I said what I said!” 

Now before you got your chest all greased up and protruding, let’s assume you sought advice from outside entities. Your first duty is to identify if this is a consult or a means to vent with a friend in confidence. Because we all should know that all skinfolk, ain’t yo kinfolk. If you don’t precede your conversations with the intent to purge or to gain perspective, you again do yourself a disservice. This applies to your friends as well. You have to preface them with your need of emotional support or judicial viewpoint. And to reiterate, the onus is on you to disregard their offerings or adhere to them for your benefit. No one lives your life for you unless you know about some high-level, classified government cloning shit that out in these proverbial streets. I mean let a sistah know, because I’m definitely trying to see if I have one more life to love, I can hit up the Caribbean ASAPtually while the other part of me can stay quaratined! YanawImean?!

And while I’m at it, let me just throw out my sincerest apologies to the world at large, but specifically to these ladies, for possibly being a wood chip thrower to the flames. A few days ago I posted a story that few viewed in response to the comedic characterizations of two of my homegirls. Now I was here for all the jokes and only knew very little of the issues that were brewing in the background. Nevertheless, my post could have made either of these ladies feel attacked and/or I’m sure they may not have been amused by it. And I take accountability and full responsibility for being adjacent to this matter because I truly know what it’s like to have your character on blast and misunderstood on the social mediums. Luckily for me, after almost 36 hours of one-sided banter, the individual who began the posts of dissatisfaction finally reached out to me privately, where we were able to find understanding and squash the foolishness.  

Now for those who have the audacity to be a purveyor of these circumstances, I am truly judging you. First off, TOO FUCKING SOON! But most importantly, to reach out to these ladies and to offer a real-life space for them to battle this out as if they are the real housewives of pole dance, for the sake of traffic and sensationalism, you are a new breed of sadness. Last time that I checked Don King ain’t checking for or writing checks for pole dancers! Y’all really need to step up and step off. These are real-life individuals who are experiencing real-life emotions for the sake of our entertainment,and I can say unequivocally that I’m sure don’t need any additional mess. Hell, these tv execs and producers ain’t paying nowhere near enough for this. And if you want to see anything as close, P-Valley is still streaming on the STARZ network. 

So clearly I need to wrap this up and want to offer these last jewels. As dismal as this situation has been for two specific individuals, it really does offer a chance for us all to clean house. This has proven to me to be bigger than just them. They are essentially a microcosm of what we deal with in our professional, platonic and romantic relationships.

Professionally, instructors as myself reside in this ven diagram where we share a wealth of clients and are in hopes of gaining new ones to sustain our individual businesses. And you know how hard that shit is right now globally. I miss y’all! But I digress. When we don’t consider the actions we take, there is a strong possibility that we not only lose out on our premier investors, but we can leave such an ill taste in their mouth that they close their pocketbooks to the industry at large. We all can be affected by the actions of a few. 

We all offer something explicitly unique yet similar to one another. We are creatures of habit, immersive in the movements of others, inspired how the world moves daily and ultimately should always be/and never forget that we are students as well. It is our obligation as instructors to provide clients with proper technique, refreshing conversations of movement and to regurgitate the combinations, flows and holds of others. We are creators, but we don’t have to boastfully chokehold an idea that all things are because of our own doing or invention. Dance is a universal language that speaks and moves on global frequencies. Many of times we have seen others post what we have done every day without thought. It doesn’t mean that others are leeching off of your creativity, but just maybe there are others in this world that moves just like you. And when we are teachers, we encourage and are invited to offer our clients a little piece of us. They do invest in our essence, so they can reinterpret it and reimagine it in their own voice. That is the truest form of flattery. That is the reward.

These ladies, if they so choose, will meet at their own time to hopefully dissolve their own issues. But even if they don’t, it’s their business as well as their choice. There is no need for us to keep @’ing them from this point. It’s been an enjoyable ride, unfortunately at the expense of others, but let’s show them some grace and push forward. Now of course if they keep slanging shit at each other, I’m just going to grab me a snack. But hopefully, I was able to offer some perspective that enlightened you and empowered us all to be more vigilant in our verbal spaces. Speak with the intent to inform, to engage and to find resolve. Inquire with humility and with the expectation that work has to be done even after the conversation or debate is over. Be aware that you influence many and have the ability to affect others both positively and negatively. And before you assume “who gon’ check me boo,” know that folks out here ready and willing to shut yo shit down with red markers and all the receipts. 

Thank you for joining me for this edition of #CovidConversations. Feel free to speak your peace, emphasis on PEACE in the comments below. Tell a friend to share with a friend and if you got questions, I’ll work to find you an answer. Peace and Light Buds!!!