The Risky Business of Being a Woman

Trigger Warning: violence and sexual assault will be discussed**

This past week, the news and social media were in a frenzy about all of the horrible things happening in our country (well, there’s always horrible things happening in this country). The topics that resonated the most with me, however, are all of the stories that involved women, be it Black women, Asian women, other women of color, or white women and the harm men have caused them. Each story triggered an emotion that I’ve felt in the past with men. The events were: 1.) the six Asian women murdered in Atlanta, 2.) the rape and death of Christine Englehardt, the woman from Pennsylvania who was visiting Miami, Florida for spring break, and 3.) Da’Naia Jackson, the wife of self-proclaimed relationship guru, Derrick Jackson.

Living in a patriarchal society, we’ve been socialized to believe that men are the end all be all when it comes to power. We see how men, regardless of race, are treated in various settings versus women. Look at what’s happening at the NCAA Tournaments for March Madness. The male athletes have state-of-the-art workout equipment while the women have a few free weights and open space. Women still make less than men across a number of careers with Black women being paid less than white men and Black men. By design, our nation was built for men and women continue to fight for our rights and our right to be safe. All while the fight for equity is still happening, we continue to see men abuse and harm women in some of the worst ways possible. The three aforementioned situations are just a few examples.

Now, before I get into these, I want to acknowledge something. The way Black women experience life is not fully the same as other women due to our race, gender, and life experiences. Not  all of the women I reference here are Black but I resonate with them from the standpoint of our one shared identity of being women. 

  1. The Murders of Six Asian Women: Since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, there have been approximately 3,800 hate crimes committed against Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities around the United States. As we all know, that number is probably significantly higher but there may be fear of reporting these acts of violence. Xenophobia is as American as baseball. It existed long before COVID-19. Google can tell you some cliff notes on what happened but I urge you to do your own research. But what stood out to me most was that many of these stories about these attacks were about women, not all of them, but many. I began to think about how sexism played a role in these attacks. In a patriarchal society, we believe women to be the weaker sex and unable to defend and fend for ourselves. Because of these messages being fed to us literally every day, our biases towards women play out in the violence against them. These attackers may have thought these women were an easy target. And it’s terrible to think about. Then the news about the six Asian women who were gunned down in their salons by a white male terrorist really broke me. Why would this cowardes man kill them? I wondered if those women felt helpless or if they had time to think at all. I mourned and I thought back to the times I’d been violently attacked by a man and how helpless I felt in those moments. I’m anxiously waiting for the state of Florida to mail me my concealed carry license so I can carry my legally purchased firearm with me to protect myself when I’m out.
  2. Christine Englehardt, the woman from Pennsylvania who was visiting Miami, Florida for spring break: Christine Englehardt was a 24-year-old white woman from Pennsylvania who traveled to Miami, Florida this spring break. She was alone and met two, young, Black men who ultimately drugged her, raped her, robbed her, and probably killed her. An autopsy is underway to determine if the drugs they gave her aided in her death. They met her at a restaurant, drugged her, went back to her hotel room as she was stumbling, and committed erroneous crimes against her. Those men belong under the jail forever. I think about how many times I’ve traveled alone or been out by myself and have been approached by men. I recall how nicely I try to let them down and communicate that I’m not interested. I remembered a time when I was at a bar in Wisconsin, this man kept touching my thighs while he was talking to me. I politely asked him to stop and he proceeded to call me “bitch” and he questioned why he couldn’t touch me. He berated me some more after I told him he doesn’t have a right to my body and then he finally walked away. I then thought back to the sexual violence I experienced in my past. The type of violation that no one else can feel. I mourn for Christine the same way I do those Asian women in Atlanta.
  3. Da’Naia Jakcson, the wife of self-proclaimed relationship guru, Derrick Jackson: First of all, when I saw people on twitter talking about Derrick Jackson the other day, I rolled my eyes so hard. If you don’t know who Derrick Jackson, just Google him and go on YouTube to watch him give trash advice to women about what type of man they need in their lives. This man has been around for years making these videos and I never fell into the trap. I knew it was all cap all along (“It was Agatha All Along”). So, Derrick allegedly got caught cheating, he made a video saying it was a sexual relationship with one of his former women but it wasn’t a sexual relationship. It sounded as strange as I typed it. But then he comes out with an apology video with his wife, Da’Naia, by his side. I mean he was squeezing the hell out of this woman’s hand. Da’Naia was dressed in a Black shirt, some sweatpants, a bonnet, and had this uncomfortable look in her eyes. And I’m watching this video and feeling a tremendous amount of second-hand humiliation. I was humiliated because I’m listening to Derrick parade his actual sexscapades around, barely letting Da’Naia speak, and I’m feeling all around angry at the entire situation. First, it’s like, “don’t you dare film me with my bonnet on while you over here ‘cleaned up’ for the ‘Gram.” And then it’s like Black women we do not have to stay in relationships with serial cheaters. We don’t have to take them back. I understand, I’m single, I probably shouldn’t have an opinion on this, BUT, I do have an opinion. There’s no rule saying that you have to stay with someone or in a marriage after infidelity. Every relationship I’ve been in, I’ve been cheated on and I chose to stay. I remember how hard it was to work through that situation and how diminishing it felt. I stayed because I thought I had to because good women are supposed to stand by their man. But we don’t have to stand by and pretend we’re fine with what happened. You can forgive someone and still not continue to be with that person. I get that it works for some and many couples can bounce back. Beyonce and her husband, for example, went through a whole situation and no one knew about it until she forgave him. The Queen is a strong one for that, to be honest. But I’m saying that there’s no reason for us to have to stay. I genuinely believe cheating is a choice and if you chose to cheat on me, then you don’t respect me. But, in that same breath, I mourn for Da’Naia’s ultimate healing within herself and whatever she decides to do moving forward.

Although these are only three instances, there are so many more. I know that all men aren’t like the filth we’ve seen from these three instances but the conversation has to be had. The physical and emotional abuse women have to endure at the hands of men is tired.

I love being a woman, a Black woman, at that. It’s a privilege AND it’s risky business.

We have a lot at stake as far as safety and our reputation. Regardless, we need to be protected at all costs. We’re going to always try and protect ourselves but parents who have male identifying children need to assist in teaching non-violence, consent, and respect.

❤ Queen T

 

#StayHome: Reflections + Lessons One Year Later

 

Written By Breigh, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Do you remember where you were when your state announced the Stay-at-Home Order? 

I mean, let’s face it– you were probably at home. But what were you doing? What were you thinking?

The Stay-at-Home order felt like a huge relief for me, personally. I was so damn excited to have an excuse to not work… to not have to commute to campus… to attend class and meetings with pajama pants on… to be able to cook an entire meal in between therapy sessions… to finish that load of laundry during class breaks— it felt like a dream. 

In those first few months, I didn’t even think twice about how this was fundamentally changing our world— changing me. I even feel a sense of guilt for that initial bout of relief, knowing that it came at the expense of thousands of people losing their lives. 

If you’re reading this, that means you’re over 365 days in… 

It means that you’re surviving through this pandemic and have experienced one of the most bizarre, dramatic, disheartening years of your life. 

I think throughout this year, I’ve navigated most of it on autopilot– trying not to put too much thought into things… trying not to future-trip so much… trying not to get too ahead of myself because there were so many things outside of my control. 

I think we can all relate to how difficult it’s been to remain present and engaged in life with this context. 

And now, one year later… I think I can actually come up for air after I’ve been holding my breath for so long. Scared to breathe. Terrified to relax. Uncomfortable with being present because the world around me felt so chaotic. 

And now that I can breathe a little clearer, I just want to reflect on what I think I learned over the course of a year. Hopefully some of these resonate with you.

  • It’s okay to rest.

I have always felt immense pressure to always be productive– always be doing something. I was able to give myself permission to just not do anything (mostly because that was forced upon me) and I enjoyed every second of it. 

  • Abnormal reactions to abnormal situations are normal reactions.

We have literally never lived through a pandemic before– so the behaviors that we exhibit, the way we navigate and understand the world, and the way we move can be different than what we are used to. We can’t hold ourselves to standards that were in place when everything was “normal.” We have to adjust to the times and give ourselves grace for how we are navigating the current world. 

  • Your job doesn’t deserve your everything. 

I really observed this year that things will be okay without me. For so many years, I shamed myself for taking breaks or off-days because of this false perception that I was the only person who could do my job… or that my job or clients wouldn’t be able to function without me. We don’t exemplify how committed or effective we are by draining all of our energy on work. The more we take care of ourselves and prioritize ourselves, we’re more efficient in our roles. You first though. 

  • Relationships cannot survive on convenience alone.

Did y’all realize how hard it was to stay connected to people over this year? I mean, picking up the phone and calling people was a whole thing. I had to start scheduling facetime dates and phone calls with my people which I did not appreciate. I was so spoiled pre-pandemic times when it came to maintaining relationships– when I had the luxury of spontaneity and “pulling up.” As I reflect, I realize that a lot of my relationships were based on convenience and that when it came time to put in more work/time/energy to staying connected, I wasn’t willing/able to do that. I love the spontaneity that comes with organic plans, but I also realize that I have to make intentional time for the people I love and care about. If not, it’s only natural that you drift apart. 

  • You are capable of whatever you put your mind to. 

I bet if you told your past self what you’d be going through over the next year, you wouldn’t believe yourself. Whatever has transpired for you over this past year, you got through it– you’re getting through it. That’s huge. This year has been hard for arguably everyone and yet you’re here reading this blog post… reflecting on where you were a year ago. That’s a win to me. Hopefully moving forward, we won’t question our ability to do hard things. 

Whew, that felt good… to reflect on what I’ve learned this past year. It’s so tempting to want to call this last year a wash— to say I’m happy it’s over and that the entire year was a loss. But in all actuality, it’s probably given me a lot more than what it’s taken away as I reflect on what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown. These are life lessons that I know will comfort me when shit hits the fan again. 

N****, we made it (barely).

P.S. We are still very much in the middle of a pandemic. It’s not over. Keep surviving. 

– Breigh, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

We’ve All Been Meghan Markle

I am everywhere but I am nowhere.

I didn’t need the Oprah CBS special interview with the former Duchess, Meghan Markle and former Prince, Harry to know and understand that Meghan Markle was at the center of a tangled web called racism and sexism. You see, Meghan is just like me. She’s just like you. She’s a Black woman (of mixed race) who experienced insurmountable discrimination, microaggressions, and prejudice that many of us have a hard time explaining for a few reasons. The first, is that it’s very hard to name it and pinpoint it. Especially if you haven’t been versed in the hidden messages of racism and sexism but also because microaggressions and bias happen so subtly, that it goes over your head. The second reason is the fear of retaliation. We never know what will happen to us if we report the harm that’s been done to us. And finally, we often are not believed when we report these erroneous experiences. Meghan wasn’t believed when she was going through it and after the interview, many still don’t believe her. 

I am everywhere but I am nowhere.

When you’re a Black woman in an all white space (or any space, if we’re being honest) you are highly visible and invisible at the same time. It’s fascinating really. Researchers Hodges & Welch (2017) would call this concept “a fly in buttermilk.” We easily stand out. As a diversity and inclusion practitioner, I teach my clients about implicit biases all of the time. One of the things we talk about in my sessions is about how easy it is for biases to form and show up in our daily lives. For example, if you have the same type of people in one space and bring in someone who identifies differently, you will begin to say, do, and make biased decisions about that one person. Meghan was the first Black person to enter into the Royal Family in England. For centuries, this family has maintained their “pure” whiteness and have been the example of what royalty should look like. Meghan, was not their idea of a royal. She may be of mixed race, but what have we learned in the U.S. when it comes to Blackness? If you have one drop of Black blood…you know the rest. And anti-Blackness isn’t confined to the U.S. Anti-Blackness is deeply rooted in Europe and European practices. Hell, do we need to take a journey down history lane about the trans-Atlantic slave trade, global capitalism, and white supremacy? 

But for Black women, the discrimination against us is different. We aren’t just marginalized because we are Black or because we are a woman. We get the brunt of both of those simultaneously and it’s hard to name the oppression we face. Like Meghan, I’ve been in plenty of predominantly white spaces where I was the only Black person and Black woman and was at the forefront of all of the horrific biases. I’ve been lied on. I’ve been told that I was always angry. Colleagues would CC my supervisor on emails all of the time. I’ve been criticized for how I wear my hair. I’ve been told I was hard to work with and not a team player. I’ve been asked to do extra amounts of work for no extra pay. I’ve been offered low paying wages for jobs even though, at the time, I had two degrees. The list goes on. I remember how hard it was to finally get the courage to report what was happening to me to human resources at one particular job. And I remember not getting any support. I remember not being believed. I remember the pain and anxiety I felt about returning to a hostile work environment. When Meghan and Harry spoke about not receiving support, all of those painful memories flooded back to me. 

I am everywhere but I am nowhere.

Do you know what it’s like to constantly have to shrink yourself down? To know that you’re Black but try hard to not “show” that you’re Black? It got to the point where Meghan didn’t want to live anymore. Do you know what it’s like to get to that point because of the blatant and covert racism and sexism others are inflicting on you? Do you know what it’s like to feel like “you’re everywhere but nowhere” at the same time? For many Black women, this is our story. While we may not be married into “royal blood,” we’ve been socialized to shrink ourselves down and not draw too much attention to ourselves. We’ve been told to just be quiet or we’ve been silenced in our work spaces or even home lives for the sake of not disrupting too much of the norm. 

But the reality is, the world cannot exist or operate without Black women. We are the standard. We are what everyone wants to be and emulate. The way you dress, they way you have to tan to get dark, the style of music you like, the best food you’ve had in your life, the beauty you wish you possessed all comes from Black women. And more! Meghan brought some life into that royal family and the way the world embraced her, I’m sure brought up some jealousy from members of the royal family and staff. They drove her and Harry away, not the other way around. And it was disheartening to hear that they were willing to stay in the family despite the egregious things happening to Meghan. How often have we as Black women sacrificed our dignity and stayed in situations that were bad for our mental health? We do it in relationships and our work environments and other areas of our lives.

And for the folks saying “she knew what she was getting into when she married a white man…married into the royal family…etc. etc.” y’all can be quiet. The victim blaming has to stop. 

This isn’t a piece to give you some call to action on how to support Black women and check your racial biases, I’ve given you plenty of that advice over the years. You figure out how to do the work.

I see you, Meghan. I believe you. It’s happened to me, too. Don’t ever dim your light for anyone ever again.

❤ Queen T

 

New Year, New Content, Same Me

Written By Aspen, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

As it seems, 2021 has rolled into the world without a single hesitation in sight. Basically two weeks in and the chaos that we hoped would be left behind has instead re-upped and metaphorically asked us to hold its beer. Despite the 2020 Remix that 2021 is giving so far, I’ve been looking to find small pieces of joy through my consumption of creative media.

Being the introspective Scorpio that I am, I’ve been thinking alot about how I spent 2020. In hindsight, I feel like I didn’t experience enough — which given the circumstances makes complete sense. But I don’t want that to be the case in 2021 and given that we are still living in a hellscape currently I will have to get creative. So I’m bringing back a modified version of a past resolution. In 2018 I decided that each week I would do something that I never done before, particularly because I was afraid to do it. Some things were very small like standing on something very far from the ground just to shake up my acrophobia or going out in a wig that I impulsively bought at the beauty supply store. Other things were more significant but all led to the same point of trying something new to go out of my comfort zone. This time around I don’t have as much of a need to stray out of my comfort zone but I hope to continue the trend of doing something new and exciting — this time in the comfort of my own home. 

I’ve begun this small personal challenge by watching Bridgerton. I am usually not a fan of period pieces at all so starting it was my biggest challenge. On top of that, I am a very stubborn person who likes what I like when it comes to content that I engage with in my free time so watching just because of the popularity seemed unlikely. But my best friend was absolutely swooning over it for days so I finally decided to indulge just to humor her. As it turns out, I was sold by the second episode and here I am now wishing for the Duke of Hastings to burn for me as he does the female protagonist. And the bookworm that lives in my brain is itching to read the eight book series just to tie me over before the next season. Plus, once some of the hype dies down I hope to share my thoughts on the show’s color-blind casting, which I really enjoyed from a viewing standpoint but question from a plot development standpoint.

The second piece of media that I’ve intentionally checked out was Jazmine Sullivan’s new album Heaux Tales. Now I have not listened to Jazmine Sullivan since the “Lions, Tigers, & Bears” era but Twitter was swarming with commentary so I decided to try it. Well, I did it and I would just like to say that she gave me more than I deserved. The candidness and authenticity that comes through the lyrics gets me excited every time, making every listen just as exciting as the first. The album feels like it was literally written for girls like me — girls in their late 20s and early 30s who are really just trying to figure their stuff out and learn how to put themselves first when it comes to navigating relationships. I’m officially a Jazmine Sullivan stan and very much hoping that the collaboration conversation between her and Issa Rae means a visual interpretation of the album is coming to a screen near me.

Next up, the bookworms of Tik Tok have led me to start reading a steamy romance novel. My newly purchased iPad means that I’ll be moving into this century and giving eBooks a try. But nothing beats the smell and sound of opening a new book so even though I’m giving it my best effort, I might cave on that part and have to check out the curbside offerings of Barnes & Noble. After that, I’ll give Tenet a try. And seeing that I never finished Inception after multiple pieced together attempts, I hope that my appreciation for David Washington will allow me to finish it in its entirety. 

In all honesty, I imagine that little goals like this seem silly in the grand scheme of things. But with so much uncertainty lying ahead I’ve found solace in knowing that I am only capable of acting on things within my own locus of control. Spending so much time at home doesn’t have to be all bad. So with that, I theoretically invite you all into my home by asking for suggestions of things that I should explore this year. Drop your favorite shows, blogs, movies, music, books, or even recipes in the comments!

– Aspen, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

It’s the Representation, for Me

Written By Breigh, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

I know… it’s kinda wild that it’s 2021 and we’re still experiencing “firsts” in this country.  And now we have the FIRST Black Female Vice President in office! 

I just want to take the time out to reflect on my own personal moments where the beauty of representation influenced me in powerful ways and hopefully you can resonate with some of this. 

I think the first and most profound representation for me was my mother. You see, my parents divorced when I was still in diapers so I mostly just remember being raised by a single, Black mother. And she did not minimize or hide her independence and strength. 

While working full time at the post office, she came and sat with me for the entire school day on her off-days, enrolled me in every sport and extra-curricular you could think of (even figure skating), and did not miss ONE beat. 

Growing up around such a strong Black mama really helped me internalize what being a Black woman means– an embodiment of strength, independence, nurturance, sacrifice, connection and love. I’m so grateful to have had this representation at a really young age. 

I also have a creative as a father who played drums for a rock band for most of his life, so I was able to internalize a sense of fluidity and flexibility in my Blackness as well. 

But the reality is, that representation was still limited. 

I still went to a majority Black school with majority White teachers. I still competed in figure skating where I was the only little Black girl. I still could only count on one hand the amount of family members that pursued education beyond high school– let alone higher education. And when I turned on the television, I barely saw any characters that looked like me… (at least any that I liked anyways). 

But then, in middle and high school, I developed a friend group where their parents were lawyers and doctors and pilots and government officials and my worldview completely changed. Then there was That’s So Raven…

then there was Penny Proud… 

Then there was Oprah..

Then there was Beyonce…

Then there was Barack Obama. 

For me and how I’ve developed, each Black person that I’ve met or witnessed that is seemingly defying the odds of what this country allows us to be gives me permission to be better– to stop limiting myself. 

They teach us as children to “shoot for the stars” but what happens when you’ve never seen anyone who looks like you land on the moon? Or what happens when you’ve witnessed people who look like you attempt to shoot for the stars but get their gun stolen and then shot with it? 

There’s both so much fear and so much power in doing things that have never been done. I’ve been personally crippled and debilitated by that fear. 

But it’s the Kamalas and the Black Panthers and the nurturing Black mamas and the Black doctors and the Katherine Johnsons that keep me going– that keep me motivated… 

That keep me evolving. 

They help me know and see that I can’t limit myself to what this country wants me to be or who this country has painted my people out to be. That there’s more to me than what I see in the media or DON’T see in the media. 

I’ve seen so many people say “It’s not about the representation, it’s about the work” in reference to Kamala Harris and I think we’re minimizing the power of representation. 

Of COURSE it’s about the work. 

But the work is so much more powerful because of what she represents. 

Black women everywhere get to see a Black woman in one of the highest positions in this country and I have so much hope that this will ignite a movement of elevation for us. 

Because seeing is believing. 

And we need to believe in ourselves right now and forever more. 

Welcome to the White House, Madam Vice President. 

You’re the first, but we KNOW you won’t be the last. 

That’s the power of representation

– Breigh, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Damn, Where is the Wonder in the Woman?

Written By Ca$h, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

I am a comic book fan! Have been since I was a little girl. I used to sneak up to the “attic” in our old house, open my dad’s comic book boxes and read until my heart was content. DC became a staple in my household. Needless to say I was excited to hear that DC was trying to make a comeback through live action films after Justice League. On December 25th, I curled up under my bob’s burgers blanket, got my glass of wine, made a charcuterie platter, and let my eyes well with excitement to watch Wonder Woman 1986 with my sister-friend. By minute 47 I was in utter disappointment and by the end of the movie I was actually angry. Wonder Woman, half Amazonian woman/half literal goddess, had been reduced to a common fairytale princess in need of rescue from her love-twisted story – foundationalized by her powers being defined by a man. And listen, it wasn’t that we didn’t like the fact that Steve Trevor came back to life. We just wanted him to be an ass-kicking side kick and not the plots center to Diana’s story.

To be fair, I had a similar reaction to the first movie as well. DC is known for creating slow-moving origin stories; this part didn’t bother me. I understood that she was “new” to the world in this plot and so could be considerably naive; this didn’t bother me either and the action was GREAT. However, Wonder Woman – Diana MF Prince, didn’t learn or accept her true power until the end of the movie when her beau was killed. Many people didn’t catch it, many people weren’t bothered by it. I allowed myself to be content. Fast forward to 2020 (1986) and you give us an entire movie with little action, a sorry plot, and once again a story line based on romantic love. This lasso wielding goddess became weak, lost her powers, and had to be convinced to “give up” her dead boyfriend that she knew for all of 5 days in another man’s body in order to defeat the Mayan God of trickery. The invisible plane (that I knew was coming and was excited to experience) came from a comedic relief scene where a man was the pilot. Wonder Woman, who was granted flight by another god, learned that she could fly in a love-drenched scene on her way to battle by remembering a quote that her partner said about a plane. Come on man! Did the writers of this movie ever even pick up a comic book? Who was this written for? BUT, that’s beside the point. 

The point my ladies and gents is this:

Why we always gotta have a man to define our powers?

I am a woman. I am strong, independent, graceful, and badass. I am allowed to be a woman all on my own. As little girls, we grow up being told in every form of media, books, poetry, that our roles in life are secondary and that we are designed to give birth, create family, and be content in life with these roles. Although men may not see this, it’s true. This movie is the perfect example. Watching this with another woman, all we could comment on was how disappointing it was to see the movie show a heroine, who is phenomenal in her own right, repeatedly defined in a story line by another man. The saddest part about this is the covert societal imprint that keeps getting washed into our brains over and over, so much so that we don’t even realize that we are willing pawns in this patriarchal scheme. Our messaging is constantly telling us that women’s roles need to be romanticised and that we are immoral for fighting against it. Our culture continues to spew these sometimes hurtful and harming lies that make it seem as though we as women cannot achieve the full joy of life without a partner, a family, or simply giving in. Wonder woman – the Amazonian warrior, crowned queen of the justice league, badass superhero was truthfully willing to give up her power for “love”. And, no one saw the hypocrisy? Barbara, or more accurately Cheetah, this amazing villain who they don’t give us enough of supposedly loses her humanity in a scene where she was almost harassed by the same man who tried to assault her not days earlier. And, no one saw the hypocrisy?

Movie writers, producers, creatives, here’s some advice – stop romanticizing women’s story lines. Romcoms and romantic novels are made for that. We will read or watch those if and when we choose! But we want movies that tell a story, that’s it. We want superheroes that beat odds and beat up bad people, that’s it. Every woman does not want to be reminded every time she watches a film that romantic love is needed in order to have a full life. That’s simply not true and in some cases actually damaging. Want to help us demolish the pains of patriarchy? Just write a story – DAS IT. We deserved an ass-kicking Wonder Woman from jump to end, period. We deserved all the glory of Carol Davers with the added bombshell Goddess worthy of gallantries that Diana Price embodies. Next time, give us a movie that shows us why girls run the world and why women are the first world wonders.

– Ca$h, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Black Folks Laugh at Tragedies to Survive

January 6, 2021 will forever go down in history as one of the most egregious, deleterious, and ignominious displays of white supremacy and tackiness. The attack on the Capitol due to the fallacious statements voter fraud over the 2020 presidential election was the United States of America on full display. The savagery we witnessed live was the epitome of what happens when white people see their power being stripped awey (*in my Zuri from Black Panther voice*). White supremacists be BIG MAD (typed it the way I meant to type it) when change is near because they believe they will no longer be in control. Well…good. It’s been time for a change.

One thing that most Black people in this country agreed on yesterday was that the display of filth had nothing to do with us (their anger and destruction that is) and we were happy to mind our business and drink our water. But the election had everything to do with us and every other marginalized group in society. Yesterday was the feature film of what happens when we use our right to vote. Voter suppression has been a long standing blemish in the U.S. purposely designed to keep us from having a voice and having agency in the decisions that directly impact us the most. Let’s be clear, Stacey Abrams and her team in Georgia deserve all of the flowers for helping get Black people out to vote in Georgia after the governor election was stolen from her in 2018. 

Not going to lie, while yesterday’s circus was one for the history books, – just like the whole year of 2020 – I still felt a sense of anger, fear, and sadness about what I watched. I remembered the peaceful protests this summer after Ahmad Aubery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, and countless other unarmed Black people who had their lives taken or permanently altered and how law enforcement and the shitty 45th clown-in-chief handled the protests. Heavy riot gear, tear gas, rubber bullets, and lethal force were all brought out for peaceful protesters this summer. The entire world watched protesters beg the government and law enforcement to stop killing unarmed Black people, give us the right to vote, and charge & indict the police officers/civilians who committed these heinous crimes. The entire world watched inciters loot Targets and Walmarts and watched how law enforcement, state and federal government officials called actual Black Lives Matter activists everything but children of God. But yesterday, the entire world watched as domestic white terrorists destroy federal property, trespass and fight police all because of fraudulent accusations of election dishonesty…and they saw no consequences. This is what really had Black people pissed. No consequences but if these rioters and thugs were Black, they would have been shot down instantly. No one would have been able to get through police barricades and gates. 

Although Black people are used to experiencing tragedy at the hands of white supremacy in this country, it is in our nature to laugh to keep from crying. As you can see from the screenshot tweet that is the cover photo for this blog post, “Black people making a joke out of every serious event>>>>,” social media and Black Twitter has a field day with what was going on. We knew deep down how bad yesterday was but we still found a way to make light of the situation.

It’s what we do. Examples of us making jokes out of fucked up situations are as follows:

  1. Coronavirus Pandemic: Black people nicknamed it “Lil Rona,” “Rona,” and “the Rona.” When speaking of just the pandemic, Black people call the pandemic everything but a pandemic: “we’re in a pandemonium,” “they partying like we ain’t in a whole panoramic still,” “it’s a whole polaroid outside.”
  2. Stimulus checks: The first round of stimulus checks in 2020 was $1,200. This time, the checks were $600. Because the amount was significantly lower, Black people nicknamed it “Stimmy.”

These are just two instances of our humor but we’ve done much more. Yesterday was no different. The memes and GIFs were raining down from Black folks to provide us an alternate form of entertainment. 

Please note: WE DO NOT TAKE YESTERDAY’S THREATS OR THE THREATS ON THE LIVES OF THE DC COMMUNITY MEMBERS LIGHTLY. That is not what I am trying to say. We know that this situation is NOT a game and that the attack on this nation, Black folks, and other POCs should be taken seriously. And we do.

You may not understand why we use humor. Well, it’s a mechanism we’ve adapted across generations to survive. It’s our way of staying resilient when the world and society harms us. Without humor, I’m unsure how we would get through the tough times. Our humor during times of unrest isn’t taken lightly. This is how we support and show love to each other. It’s imperative to our longevity. We know how to come together as a collective for healing just like our ancestors had to do.

An interconnected community of people who understand your pain and struggle is why we as Black people will not succumb to the wombs white supremacy has left us with and why we haven’t since we were brought to this country.

So, keep laughing brothers, sisters, and non-binary Black folks. We need each other. It’s been inherently clear for centuries that we live in two different countries: One for the people and one for white supremacy.

As we once again figure out how to heal from this tragedy, check out this piece, “Let Freedom Reign” written by Ca$h, mindfulness practitioner and official contributor of The Crowned Series blog ❤

Let Freedom Reign

Let freedom reign.

Two Americas. One divide.

Two different experiences. One side.

Two constitutions. One brother.

Two races. White and other.

Two perceptions. Liberated and free.

Two Americas. You and Me.

Two Nations. First and colonized.

Two liberties. Justice and Justified.

Two voices. Shut up and privileged.

Two households. Verses and village.

Two Americas. Your truth and mine.

Two fights. Moral and unkind.

Two tears. One reflection in vain.

All the while shouting: Let freedom reign.

Tiara Cash

❤ Queen T and Ca$h, official contributor of The Crowned Series

 

Do You Want an Evolution?

Written By Breigh, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

This post is for my “new year, same me” folks. No shade, but if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t stay the same. We can’t move the same. Think the same. Be the same. 

I get it– the idea behind “new year, same me.” It’s this tendency and deep desire to have a sense of constancy… a sense of consistency. Because so much in the world around us is constantly changing, we desperately try to hold on to some sense of sameness. 

But truth is, as humans… we are meant to evolve.

You may recognize evolution as the concept some white guy came up with that told us we came from apes. I’m still pretty skeptical about that premise, but I think Charles Darwin was onto something. 

The theory of evolution is based on the idea that all species are related and gradually change over time. As humans, that is especially true… Let me give you an example. 

Aging. 

We go through so many phases of development and growth throughout our life– from a literal egg to a fully functioning, independent being with thoughts, opinions, body parts, and abilities. 

We know that we physically change and evolve, but why is it hard to grasp onto and accept that our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, personality, and ways of being evolve? What’s the luxury of staying the same? What’s the benefit? 

I think as a community, we’ve been socialized to prioritize “staying true” or “staying down” rather than prioritize growth. We hate to hear from someone that we’ve “switched up” or that we’re “too good” for things that we used to accept and tolerate. 

We’re so obsessed and fixated on feeling accepted that we stay stagnant– we stay stuck in the same thought patterns and behaviors because dealing with what’s familiar feels better than the uncertainty that lies ahead if you “switch up” or change. 

I remember writing in so many people’s yearbooks in high school “keep being you, don’t ever change.” What does that even mean? I quickly learned that my advice to my high school peers was not only ill-informed, but limiting. Yes, there may have been qualities about those people that I admired and wanted them to keep throughout their lives… but the very essence of that statement is not conducive to ultimate growth, enlightenment, and fulfillment.  

It’s perfectly okay, acceptable, and necessary for you to switch up. It’s perfectly okay, acceptable, necessary, and (scientifically supported) for you to evolve

But evolution doesn’t just happen. There’s some intentionality that comes with it. 

If your environment is the same, you will most likely move the same. 

If your thinking is the same, you will most likely move the same. 

So, we have to be intentional about being present with ourselves and realize when environments, thoughts, relationships, behaviors no longer serve us. Just because you’ve done something for a decade, doesn’t mean that you have to continue that for the rest of your life. 

Just because you’ve thought a certain way for most of your life, doesn’t mean that you have to think that way forever. When you gain new insight, information, or experience something differently that broadens your horizon, it’s okay to change your mind. 

This has been an extremely hard, but valuable lesson for me throughout my life. I’ve always felt this sense of pressure to be who and what people expect me to be because of how I’ve shown up historically. But in reality, people’s expectations of me are about them, not me. And people’s expectations of me are limiting. 

So, now the “you’ve switched up” is followed with less guilt and more gratitude. That’s a compliment to me and a reminder that I’m giving myself a chance to be better– to elevate. 

Stop fighting change. Stop fighting evolution. 

Because as we know, the world around us will continue to change and you don’t want to be left behind. 

Let’s go with the flow and evolve in 2021. 

Blessings to you in this new year. 

– Breigh, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

 

Moving Mindfully Through a Pandemic New Year

Written By Ca$h, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

The New Year can serve as a symbolic ritual of shedding old habits, thoughts, and people, and moving into a newer space. We usually see mountains of posts and photos in our media feeds commemorating this parabolic transition shouting “new year, new me,” “summer body loading,” and “cutting people off.” I, in no way, am against people leading their minds with new affirmations into brave spaces. This is part of what I teach! However, this New Year symbolizes something deeply important that I hope we are all looking to remember as a part of our resolutions – resilience and care. As a practitioner, I hope to share some mindful ways of grounding, settling, and moving into 2021 with renewed spirit.

First and foremost, it is immensely important that I mention to you that if you are not in space to do anything but “be” as we make this transition, that is your divine right. No where in the handbook of life were we given a manuscript on how to survive multiple pandemics at the same time and thrive. I do believe that no matter what everyone’s current circumstances are, we as a people are built to be strong and buoyant. You will thrive and I am wishing that into your journey. But, if it’s not your time BAYBE I am affirming that! Rest. Sleep. Do nothing.

If you are looking to add some different ingredients to your resolution repretuare, here are 3 mindful suggestions to get you started:

  1. Sit STILL. This one is going to come as a shock for a lot of people, but the best way to ground yourself and begin fresh for the next chapter is to sit down, be still, and listen. Listen to your emotions. Allow yourself to be silent and in the dark. You will have revelations that you probably have never considered. They might be painful, and this okay! Healing starts with awareness. However, I guarantee you that if you allow yourself to listen to what you’ve been too “busy” to sit with, you will find some of the greatest business plans, inventions, art, and creativity that you hadn’t given yourself space to manifest. Which brings me to number 2. 
  2. What have you learned?: Take the time to jot down some thoughts of what you have learned this past year as a survivor. Are there any particular things that you never considered that were shown to you? Take those notes and create a vision board or journal about your learnings and how they can translate into what might come next for you! However (and this is important) do not try to take on too many things at once. Change comes moment by moment. It is a choice, and if we bog ourselves down with too many choices we become overwhelmed. Let your vision manifest by first seeing it and naming it. If that’s all you can do over these next few months that will be more than enough to get your vision moving.
  3. Listen to your body. Your body is a tool that was created so that you can be the best human being possible. It is jam packed with SO many antennas, languages, and physical “stimulus packages”. Our bodies are constantly trying to speak to us and give us signals as to what we need. When you’re hungry, you should eat. When your body is figgity, go on a walk or dance. When you’re sad, try reaching out to friends (as studies have shown that social relationships, especially now, are one of the most important components to our happiness). Let your community nourish you…The main lesson here is to connect with your body and allow it to show you what you need. We spend so much time trying to fix our bodies, by eating correctly or going to the gym. As a master of kinesiology, I would remiss to tell you those things aren’t important. However, as a human being who studies the body, mind, and spirit – what you need the most right now is to just give yourself the best possible platform to thrive. And, caring for your body by giving it what it needs can help you do that. So, my suggestion would be to stay away from weight or eating specific resolutions and instead just open your life goal this year to listen and be in touch with what your body needs.

My charge to you as we transition into this new year is to try these three things, if you have the capacity ,and see what comes from it. Take time to make this a part of your schedule over the next few weeks, watching yourself and giving your body, mind, and spirit time to make meaning of the past year, sit with things that come up, and settle into what will come. 

Much love to you all and Happy New Year!

– Ca$h, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Why Now?

Written By Aspen, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, I’ve been finding myself in my own head more than ever before. As is usually the case for me, I’ve been burying myself in tasks non-stop as a way to avoid the self-talk, but at times I occasionally slip up. As a result, I’ve been doing some planning of my future and despite coming a long way with getting comfortable with uncertainty, my need for control is what centers me when the uncertainty becomes just too…well, uncertain. The irony of it all is truly my planning of the future when the future itself is constantly changing. The truth of it all comes from my need to think about more tasks that I can take on in the future as a means of validating myself in an attempt to prove myself to none other than myself.

This is one of the many symptoms of my classic case of imposter syndrome and sadly, the more that people praise me (both professionally and personally), the deeper I dive into feeling like I am not the person they think I am and therefore am not deserving of this praise. This week alone, I can count six different occasions where people expressed their predictions that I will go far in life because people like me. As someone who is often told by close friends that I was once intimidating to them, I always chuckle a little inside when people tell me that they really like me. I’m very much like a pomegranate, frustratingly hard to crack but soft, sweet, and fragile once you finally get to the good part. So, while I am flattered at the notion of this validation on six separate occasions this week all I can wonder is: why? Why now? Why me? Is this genuine or am I just being told this as a way to pacify me when I accidentally spill too much about the future accomplishment I hope to one day reach?

Imposter syndrome comes and goes in waves and as I am sure that you can see, it just so happens to be hitting extra hard these days. Almost as if it’s fate, I came across an article about Black women facing increased feelings of imposter syndrome since the increased attention, both genuine and performative, towards Black people in response to centuries-old racial injustice in America gaining so much public attention this year. The article listed the newfound influx of validation feeling overwhelming as we try to parse through the constant praise to determine whether it is real or just another performance, especially when coming from non-Black people in our lives. The article described exactly how I’ve been feeling! It went on to list what the means for America that so many Black women are experiencing this but what it really boiled down to is that there is much work to be done for America and for Aspen. 

This week’s praise might stem from race-based guilt or it might truly be genuine that those around me find my personality and work ethic comforting and nice company. But I may never know which is which. So I need to find ways to talk myself out of this spiral created by Imposter syndrome. On my best day, I carry on with the hope that I can be an inspiration to those around me. I want to motivate others to be their best self and if I am successful in doing that then they must trust me. I then force myself to remember that this trust is built upon the foundation of my honest disposition and/or knowledge-based expertise. I have the charisma. I am reliable and hard-working. I have the degrees. I have the experience. If others see it, then I need to acknowledge it for myself even if that means telling myself over and over again. I have worked hard to achieve my prior accomplishments and I will continue to work hard to narrate the story that I want to tell about myself and my road ahead. 

– Aspen, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series