To the Mothers Who Were Almost Mothers

 

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Today, we celebrate you, too.

Today we celebrate amazing mothers around the world. We celebrate women who have spent countless sleepless nights taking care of their children, have experienced their bodies transform in multiple ways, who have worked extra hours to ensure we wanted for nothing. We celebrate the humans that literally birthed the world.

Last year, I wrote a pretty vulnerable Letter to my Mother on my blog. In that letter, I told her that the first time that I felt that she loved me was when she sat in the bathroom with me for 8 hours when I was having my miscarriage when I was 21. A few months before I wrote that letter, I wrote a Letter to My Unborn Child where I wrote about how that experience was gruesome and traumatizing for me. Every year after my miscarriage, approximately four people send me a “Happy Mother’s Day” text message. I take this as their way of acknowledging that there was a point in time that I would have given birth to a child. They make me feel seen. 

As I reflect back on what could have been, I decided to write this for other women who may have experienced a miscarriage. Losing a child is a feeling that is unexplainable. But many of us suffer in silence about the pain we still have about it. Sometimes, I still feel triggered if I’m watching a movie or TV show and someone has a miscarriage. It feels like my heart is stinging and I can feel my insides sink to my gut.

Mother’s Day brings out a range of emotions for me. Many of my friends who are mothers always post pictures of them with their children. But on Mother’s Day, the pictures mean something different. I feel something different when I see them on this day. I have a heightened admiration for them because I know the sacrifices they’ve made and I know how much they love their children. And today is the day that honors them.

Although I am happy for all the mothers with physical children, I can’t help but to think about other women like myself who have experienced miscarriages. I try to imagine if they feel forgotten about or content with not having a child. I wonder if this day triggers a range of insurmountable emotions for them like it does for me.  I yearn to talk to another woman who have experienced a miscarriage just to feel like I have a support person. I want to talk about how this day makes me feel but it’s awkward bringing this up to women who have physical children. I don’t want to take away from their special moments on this day. Because of this, year after year, I go through the cycle of unexplainable emotions alone and then smile through the day if I see people.

According to the March of Dimes, between 10 and 15 percent of pregnancies of women who know their pregnant end in miscarriage. I knew I was pregnant when I had mine. This statistic also makes me think about women who have miscarriages without knowing their pregnant. How do they feel? What emotions, if any, do they have on Mother’s Day? Who consoles them if they’re triggered by something?

I feel as if open conversations about losing a child in any form is still seen as taboo. Rarely, do I see women talking about their miscarriages. When I do, it’s a celebrity, and even then it’s still few and far between. Is the silence about this topic the reason I rarely see “Happy Mother’s Day” posts on social media for women who’ve had miscarriages?  Maybe that’s why I stay silent about it. Maybe that’s why approximately four people acknowledge me on this day. Maybe that’s why I feel guilty when I have these feelings because I don’t take care of a child everyday and I’m not losing sleep worrying about someone else. I’m not thinking about daycare costs and babysitters. In this case, I recognize that I feel grateful for not having that responsibility at this time in my life. God knew I wasn’t ready. I just don’t want to shut out those mixed emotions I still feel about it.

I want other women who have experienced this loss to know that you are not alone. Be honest with yourself. If you have mixed emotions today, don’t try to hide those emotions from yourself. Sit with them and reflect through them. Feel them and remember whatever you need to remember. After you’ve processed those emotions, turn your attention to the life blessings you have right now. Give thanks for the other things that are going right in your life. That will help you stay encouraged. But in case you needed to hear this…

Happy Mother’s Day.

❤ Queen T

Acrimony: Villiain or Victim?

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Written By Mesha G. – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series 

I’m incredibly late but since it was suggested in my Hulu app, I decided to finally watch Acrimony.  This was a movie I wanted to see in theatre, but I honestly, I’m not the biggest movie person, so I always make the plan to go and never follow through with it. Regardless, I watched the Acrimony and I had the greatest inclination to write about it.

Acrimony is a story about a scorned woman named Mel. Mel nurtures a man basically from the day they met until she decided to divorce him. This man happened to be draining in every single capacity; he found ways to use all of her inheritance from her mom’s passing by purchasing a car, financing his last year in college, paying for things he broke around the house and anything else that came up. He didn’t help her financially, he didn’t support their household, and truly lived off the dream that one day his research and invent of a battery will work.  It also doesn’t help that her family didn’t support the idea of their relationship, let alone marriage, so there was the constant reminders with the vibes of “he ain’t shit” from her sisters.

So they divorced, and the battery idea actually paid off and he gives Mel a check for $10 million and buys back her mom’s home that was foreclosed on because she couldn’t keep up with the bills.  Mel didn’t think that that was enough especially after she saw that he was with the lady that he cheated on her with toward the beginning of their relationship. Mel became crazy obsessive with her ex-husband’s new relationship, so much so that she killed herself being revengeful towards him.

Although there was a lot dramatization in the movie, it reminded me of real life. I empathize with Mel. I personally never invested as much as she did in a person but I know the feeling of giving someone your all and for whatever reason, it ends up not working. Your investment doesn’t pay off throughout all of the loyalty, support, and unconditional love; what you did just doesn’t muster what you thought that it should be. The movie chucks this up as a woman with a mental illness, which I wholeheartedly find fault with. And Mel was villainized for her feelings

As I realize I am no relationship coach, I did think of a few viable takeaways that we as women should think of when jumping into relationships (and staying until we’re scorned).

  1. Relationships are two-way streets.  Teddy Pendergrass says it best, not 70/30, not 60/40, but talkin’ bout a 50/50 love. Relationships should be give and take – it’s toxic to be a giver and never receive anything in return.  AND conversely, it’s just as toxic as hell to be a receiver and never a giver. Mel was an incredible giver and her husband was a user. He also used his new wife but her “pay off” was way quicker than Mel’s.
  2. Potential has an expiration date. We all date with expectation of what someone will be.  We anticipate how this person will be as a spouse, a parent, and a partner because there’s a little uncertainty how this person will be in the future.  I know you probably have seen a ton of IG quotes that say don’t fall in love with someone’s potential, but I feel like that’s impossible…it does take some vision to anticipate how this person you’d want your potential spouse to be.
  3. My last point is more of a rhetorical question when is enough, enough?
    1. I ask this question because how much do we as women have to tolerate, have to suffer with, have to ride for before people see the value in us, or even for us to see the value in ourselves?

It was hard for Mel to move on because of how much time, effort, LOVE, and money she spent with Richard, had she not stayed as long as she did, I really truly do believe she would have had the capacity to live a normal, healthy life.  

I’m not exactly sure of what is the message that Tyler Perry and his team wanted to portray in this movie. But if we as the audience were to look at Mel as the villain of the story; he didn’t win me over with the anti-black woman rhetoric.  

Mesha G., Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Representation Matters

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Written By Aspen S. – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series 

As of late, I’ve been thinking more and more about the idea that representation matters. While I wholeheartedly agree and I think my more recent experiences have allowed me to discover, really, just how important it is to see yourself in the spaces that your enter.

I should start off by saying that I never gave this much thought to the idea until I started working in higher education. Growing up, I lived in a racially diverse city but attended a private school where I was one of three Black children in my year and probably contributed to a total of no more than twenty Black students in the entire school.  When I was eight, my parents moved to the wealthiest county in Maryland and with this wage gap came a clear racial disparity as well. After a painful summer of leaving my friends , I came back in the fall enrolled in the new county’s public school system.

Oddly enough, I feared the change because nobody wanted to be the new kid but I loved school so I put my best foot forward. At first glance, not much had changed for me in the academic environment, as I was still one of very few Black children in my grade and in the school. But the real difference was that I no longer had the diverse neighborhood to come home to every afternoon. And my interactions with students certainly reflected that. I vividly remember my first day of school and getting on to the packed school bus, something that I had never done ever before (parent volunteers drove us on field trips at the private school). I was greeted with all of the kids staring at me, and one girl in particular whipping her neck back and forth to look at me and then my white-passing mother standing at the bus stop before asking, “Are you adopted?!?” loud as heck. As someone who naturally hides from the spotlight, this was the absolute worst-case scenario on my first day at a new school. More importantly, although we were all kids at the time, it showed me more than anything that to those kids I was different. It told me that the idea of a mixed race couple was foreign to them, let alone the sheer diversity in appearance that defines non-White people in this world. Furthermore, it taught me not to expect to see many other people like me and my family in this new place that I was expected to call home.

Moving forward, things only got worse when my peers realized I was smart. At the private school, I was placed in a very small, accelerated math class with five other students. It was celebrated by the teachers and even my classmates. At this new school, they assumed that I was not likely to excel. So, when I began receiving 100% on all of the assignments because I had already learned the material a year or two ago, the educators were stunned. I was forced to take a series of tests to prove that I belonged in the Gifted and Talented (G/T) courses. And even worse, when my neighborhood was redistricted the following year, they made me take the tests again even though I was attending a school five minutes away and within the same county. My academic file was all the proof they should have needed but I guess they needed to be sure before placing a Black student in the G/T courses.

So, all of this backstory leads to me back to who I am today. As I reflect on my educational experiences, going as far back as elementary school, I’m starting to think about the smaller details that I was not able to realize in the moment. Most notably, I think about how I did not have a Black teacher until I was in the 7th grade.  Ms. Johnson taught my G/T US History course and she was a force. She brought a sense of authenticity to her classroom that quite frankly scared my white peers. They complained that she was mean and graded too harshly, and while Ms. Johnson was serious about the work we handed in to her, my vision of Ms. Johnson was never that she was mean. In fact, my memory of Ms. Johnson was meeting her and her colleagues, fellow teachers of color that taught at other schools in the county, at the local library on weekends to interview for my National History Day Project about education policy and reform. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Ms. Johnson was going out of her way to invest time in me and my educational experience, and to create a network for me with other women of color.

In high school, I had one other Black female teacher. Several years after graduating, I would go back to visit her whenever I went to the school. In college, my undergraduate worked focused on Biology. There, it was very rare to have a professor that identified as a woman, let alone a woman of color. I distinctly remember a Chemistry professor that I had that was phenomenal. She was new and a lot of the students talked negatively of her teaching methods because they were different than that of the old, white men who taught the course in all the years prior. I guess my learning style meshed well with her teaching style, because I loved her course but she very quickly left for maternity leave just after the first half of the semester.

I say all of this because I think that my experiences would have been drastically different had I saw more Black women as teachers during my own educational experiences. I come from a family of educators so surely I knew that Black teachers existed my entire life. All of my grandparents worked in the K-12 public school system as either teachers or guidance counselors, and my aunt is a high school math teacher. Matter fact, one of the things I looked most forward to every summer was when August would roll around and it was time to decorate her classroom with colorful math posters and inspirational quotes. It marked the end of summer and reminded my siblings and I that the school year was coming.

Despite this, I never realized the true value that teachers like Ms. Johnson had in my life and in my educational success. It is teachers like her that have allowed me to really see the role that I can have on students as an administrator in higher education. I am currently in the job search process within student affairs. At an on-campus interview, I was interviewed by a student employee at a large public institution. The student was a Black woman and when I asked her what she was looking for in a supervisor, we both suddenly got emotional. It seemed as though tears were starting to well up in her eyes (and mine!) and she quietly said that she wanted someone who understood her. We both knew what she meant and although she didn’t need to say anything else, I could tell that she felt the need to clarify herself to her White, male counterpart who was also interviewing me.  She said that all of her former supervisors were men and that even though one of them has been great in providing her with staff development opportunities, she just wanted more. I knew exactly what she meant without her even saying it because it was something that I had unknowingly longed for for quite some time and only just recently received what I have been looking for through my graduate internship experience where I am blessed to interact with four Black women who inspire and/or supervise/mentor me in ways that I never could have imagined. It was in that moment that my job search truly became more than just about me.

Now there is no guarantee that I will be working at that particular institution next academic year, but no matter where I end up I realize that I have a unique opportunity in my work. I have the opportunity and the responsibility to be my authentic self in order to serve as a source of encouragement and more importantly, empowerment, in the young Black women that I will be supervising, advising, and even just interacting with each and every day. I have the ability to use my identities as a platform to advocate for them and affirm their experiences, and to serve as a resource that is there to guide them towards the opportunities that they still seek. I’m sure that such a role will pose challenges and yield an emotional impact, but it is a challenge that I must accept. Here’s to hoping that I don’t let them or myself down!

Aspen S., Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Her Name Was Nicole…

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When I was in the second grade, I had two best friends, Cheryl (pronounced: Sher-REL) and Nicole. Now, I don’t remember much from my childhood but I explicitly remember the second grade because of my friendship with those two girls. We were some of the only Black girls in Mrs. Churchill’s class. I remember that I used to think Mrs. Churchill was a witch because she was pale white with bleach blonde hair and red lipstick. She was skinny as a twig and wore a lot of Black. Cheryl, Nicole, and I loved when our assigned seats would sometimes be next to each other.

We played together at recess, sat in groups together in class, and shared secrets that only second graders share (whatever that was). Nicole, was the “popular” one out of our little group. She always felt that she was prettier and just an all around leader…even though, I was older than both of them. Neither I nor Cheryl ever argued with her, though. We were just happy that she was our friend. Nicole was our Regina George and we were her Karen Smith and Gretchen Weiners, before there were actual characters of the movie, Mean Girls. We did whatever she told us to do. When it was time to move from one part of the playground to the next, we followed. If she was done coloring, we moved on to the next activity.

Nicole was my first abusive relationship. As we know, abuse comes in many forms. Physical, emotional/verbal, sexual, financial, etc. Nicole was an emotional abuser as a second grader. Now, we didn’t know it at the time, and who would think to label a child an abuser. But that’s the only word I can think of that describes the next portion of this story.

Nicole would sometimes come to school and decide that she didn’t want to talk to me and Cheryl. She would ignore us no matter how hard we begged her attention. The day would go on and then she would start talking to only one of us while the other would sit and look miserable wondering why we were left out of the group. Nicole would convince us to not speak to the other. When Nicole deemed it appropriate to communicate with one of us again, she was initiate the reconciliation by not apologizing but talking to us again.

One day, it was my turn to be on “punishment” with Nicole. The whole class time, I sat in my desk in the corner and felt sad. I remember the pain in my heart vividly. I hated being left out. The principal came on over the intercom and announced the second place and winner of the school wide, Young Authors Contest. I entered that contest. The principal announced the person who won second place. I then heard “…winner is Tristen Johnson of Mrs. Churchill’s class.” I was very surprised I had won. I was sure that someone else wrote a better story or drew better pictures. But nope, I won. Mrs. Churchill told the class to congratulate me by clapping. Nicole then walks over to me and says, “I’m only talking to you now, not Cheryl”. I was more happy that Nicole was “my friend” again than I was winning Young Authors.

Fast forward to today (4-10-19), I had an anxiety attack. I usually have them from time to time, I chat with my therapist about them but this one didn’t happen until I was in a full conversation about how I was feeling while on the phone with my best friend Dominique. I was sharing with Dom about how confident I was to do my TEDTalk tomorrow (4-11-19) but not confident in the way I was going to look on camera. Dom, being the inquisitive person she is, began asking me questions to help me disset why I was feeling the way I was. After she instructed me to calm down by breathing and putting cold water on my face, I admitted to her that I was feeling inadequate and that I often felt this way about myself. I also told her that I feel like the people I care about don’t actually care about me. Dom, then, did what she does best, analyzed my situation and pointed out some things. She told me in so many words that in the past friendships I’ve had, most of them negatively ended with no reconciliation. But during those friendships, I was in a position where the people I cared about (“my friends”) were actually talking about me behind my back. She described friendships from high school to the beginning of my first-year of college.

I reflected on those past friendships as she spoke to me. During that reflection, those were the next emotionally and verbally abusive relationships I had. I allowed microaggressive comments about my skin complexion skate past me like they didn’t bother me. I went along with drama because I didn’t want to be left out. I started drama to fit in. The “leader” of our group would get mad at me for no reason  and not speak to me. She would then threaten to send people to my house and say she would “beat my ass”. It was a hot mess. And I sat and took it all.

And of course, I was in a physical and emotional abusive relationship with an ex-boyfriend when I was 19-years-old. That’s all I’m going to say about it because, I’ve spoken publicly about it twice but still can’t bring myself to write it down.

But those aren’t the only instances where I’ve allowed someone to treat me any kind of way.  Dom helped me realize that the inadequacy I feel as an adult could stem from all of the times people made me feel that way. Many of the reasons why I doubt myself even though I’m flourishing.

I told Dominique that story of Nicole and she said, “You know, in all the years we’ve been friends, you’ve never told me that story.” And she’s right. I don’t think I have told anyone that. But I realized that experience has always been a trigger for me. I didn’t realize how that first situation really traumatized me as a child. It was the starting point of why I experienced many similar situations as I grew up. The fact that I don’t have negative people in my circle now as an adult, is foreign territory. I have no reason to feel small anymore because I am no longer the person who will allow myself to be treated with anything less than respect.

We all have times where we feel like we aren’t enough. Don’t stay in it too long. Because you are enough. One of my very first blog posts was about the importance of having a sister circle. I am thankful that the friends I have now are all ones who want to see me succeed. My friends now uplift me. They offer me the type of constructive criticism that is meant to encourage me, not belittle me. My friends now would never threaten me or talk negatively about me behind my back. In fact, most of my friends are my biggest supporters. It took me time to escape from those abusive relationships to find those who genuinely love me.

Thank you, Dom.

❤ Queen T

The Art of “Other Mothering”

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Tristen, do you have a minute? I need to talk to you about something.

These words are ones I hear maybe, four to five times a week from my students. They usually accompany a knock on the door while I’m in the middle of working on something. The interruptions rarely ever bother me, though. I love being available to listen to the stories they share with me about things they have going on in their lives. I consider myself their own personal journal where they can release their purest emotions in a way where they don’t feel like they have to sugarcoat their words.

Recently, I’ve been hearing “Tristen, do you have a minute? I need to talk to you about something,” quite often from many of my students. It seems as if all of them are going through something at the same time. What’s interesting is, it’s not just my students at my current university, but it’s also my students from a previous university – a few of them texted me wanting to talk, recently.

I work in the student affairs field in higher education. Student affairs practitioners are those who work in areas that assist in student development outside of the classroom. Departments include (but not limited to) university housing/residential life, student activities, student conduct, multicultural affairs, health and counseling services, etc. Although we have various functional areas, we all hold one thing in common, we all assist students in some type of counseling capacity. Most student affairs professionals do not hold counseling degrees but we offer advice, time, and comfort for students in multiple facets of their lives. We literally spend majority of our days being sounding boards for them.

As a Black woman, this notion of “other mothering” is nothing new. Scholar Patricia Hill Collins (2000) describes “other mothering” as the roles Black women have historically taken on to others in the community outside of their immediate family. In the higher education realm, “other mothering” is sometimes a common practice for Black women. I’ve spent countless hours listening to students, comforting them, offering advice, whatever they’ve needed. To be honest, I recognize that this part of my job is one of the things I most enjoy. I love that my students trust me enough to share personal things that sometimes, they’ve never told to anyone before me.

Now, I’ve heard and have experienced “other mothering” being used as a negative description for Black women’s labor in predominantly white settings. Meaning, Black women are asked to mentor or assist many of the students of color more than their white colleagues are asked. Sometimes I’ve felt pressured to be available to all of my students of color. I’ve seen white colleagues in the past overlook students of color or ignore their concerns. The flip side of that is some of these students who feel rejected by white faculty and staff look to faculty and staff of color for help. And when there’s only a few Black women on campus, we end up having multiple mentees to manage. But we love it because we love helping students and we love learning from them.

In recent years, there have been more white female students who feel comfortable with me just like my students of color. They seek me out for advice, they share their personal life stories with me, they’re open. This has been an interesting change that I am so happy has happened. As much as I advocate for great mentorships with other people of color, I also value having white mentors and mentees in my development circle.

I’m not going to lie. Other mothering takes a lot out of someone. I know there have been times where I’ve gone home after work exhausted from conversations with my students. Not because I was tired of talking to them, but because some of the things they deal with are really tough situations. Sometimes, heartbreaking. And hearing all of those emotions from so many different people, can be a lot on a person. I literally feel drained. I don’t see how psychologists and therapists do this full-time.

I chatted about this with my supervisor and asked her for a little advice. She told me that I need to ensure that I am taking time for myself. I definitely am doing that. Most times when I get off work, I eat dinner and then prepare for bed. But outside of that, I think figuring out your own boundaries and ways to navigate those heavy times will vary from person to person. I’m still figuring out how to work my way through it while giving the best support I can to those who count on me.

Now that I think about it, outside of me wanting to sleep after work, I think I excel at being transparent with my students. Here’s what I mean. I think there’s a connotation with other mothering that you can’t be honest with how you feel when you are taking care of others. Simply saying, your needs have to be pushed to the side for the sake of the students who need you. With this, I’ve never agreed. If there’s something pressing going on with me, I would be doing my students a disservice if I did not let them know that I was going through something. Now, I’m not saying I tell them everything, but I will let them know if something is stressing me or if I have a lot on my mind. Everything is on a need to know basis, of course. If they ask me what’s wrong, I’ll usually respond by saying, “I had a rough weekend,” or “I’m sort of stressed right now. But what’s up?” I wouldn’t be authentic if I pretended that things were also okay. Perfection is a false narrative.

I believe in success of students and I am overjoyed that I get to be one of the people they feel they can depend on.

 

❤ Queen T

Dear Raz B, I Believe You

 

Celebrities Visit Build - March 11, 2019
Image, Google Images

Like millions of millenial Black women, I was a STAN for the group B2K back in the early 2000s. B2K was a girl’s dream. They were the imaginary boyfriends we argued with other young girls about. Each member “belonged” to somebody and you better not think otherwise. J Boog was definitely “mine” back in the day.

I remember how heartbroken I was when I heard the news that they had broken up. I felt like my world was crashing down. This was one of the hardest things I had to deal with as a pre-teen. How was my favorite group breaking up with no possible explanation? How was I supposed to grow up without them? I remember in the months to follow, we heard pieces about the break up from J Boog, Raz B, and Lil Fizz collectively and from Omarion and their former manager, Chris Stokes, collectively. Omarion then went on to flourish as a solo artist while we heard very little from the other three until Fizz popped up with Omarion on Love and Hip Hop Hollywood. In between the break up and the current times, Raz B was off in Asia performing and doing other functions.

As you can see, my almost 30-year-old self was ecstatic when my cousin sent me the flyer that B2K was reuniting and going back on tour together. The 12-year-old me came out of my almost 30-year-old self. I instantly texted my best friend DaNae and we decided that we were going together. B2K was the reason we became friends.

Earlier this week, Raz B released a video on Instagram saying that he was off the tour because B2K’s former manager, Chris Stokes, was allegedly at the show or something of the sort. Some years ago, Raz B, released a video saying that Stokes molested him growing up. I know I was still sort of young when I watched the video but I been thought Chris Stokes was a creep anyway. I felt bad for Raz B but like many others, I dismissed it.

When Raz B said that he was off the tour and I heard his reason why, I remembered that video and instantly said “I would have left the tour, too”. Who would want to be around their abuser? But being the comment reader that I shouldn’t be, I went and read of the comments in the ShadeRoom’s comment section when they posted the video of Raz. Many comments were supporting him but others were just rude. Some were saying that they weren’t going to the concert to see him anyway, or laughing at the situation. It was ridiculous.

It’s hard for society to believe that men can experience sexual assault as well. Sexual assault is not just limited to women at the hands of men. It can happen to men by other men. Women by other women. Men by women. It’s doesn’t matter. And the fact that Chris Stokes, like many other predators we’ve witnessed in the entertainment industry (R. Kelly, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby) have somehow skated under the radar for years. We as a community allowed this to happen. We turned a blind eye because they created good content for the culture. Chris Stokes gave the culture B2K. And in that we failed as a people and we failed Raz B.

How would things have been different if the community would have taken Raz’s claims seriously the first time? B2K collectively released a video the next day saying that Raz was staying on the tour and they worked things out privately. I’m curious to know what the conversation was. If Raz B was that scared for his life, I would hope that it wouldn’t have been a question as to whether or not Chris Stokes needed to stay away from the tour. He should be gone, period. Who invited him in the first place? If other members of B2K are still cool with Stokes, why? If they all agree that they will not perform any of their songs written by R Kelly after the tour concludes, why stay in contact with Stokes, who is your group member’s abuser?

Our society stays silent, for the most part, when it comes to young boys, but especially Black boys, being sexually assaulted. We pass it off because of the implicit bias we hold for men. There’s a notion that men are sexual beings and hyper masculinity allows us to think that men should be able to defend themselves. These ideals prevent us from believing that harm can come to them. We don’t know what kind of emotional trauma Raz may had to deal with from his past but for people to still dismiss him today is beyond me. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center 27.8% of men were sexually assaulted at age 10 or younger and about 96% of child abusers are male. I’m not sure how old Raz was when he was molested but these statistics are real. Abuse does happen to our boys and it’s time for us to speak out in support of it.

❤ Queen T

Still Feeling Like Superwoman on this International Women’s Day

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Black women, we do it all. We feel it all. We take it all in. The world could not function without us. But this is because we’ve endured so much and have been expected to take so much. For this International Women’s Day, I reflect on how I’ve been feeling since the end of January. I reflect on how I’ve been trying to manage multiple things at once, taking in other people’s successes while trying not to compare myself to them, and still working through my depression. I hope this post can keep you encouraged, Black girl, Black woman. If this resonates with you, I want you to know that you are not alone.

This superwoman complex we have Black women have is not a new concept. In fact, my good friend Tanisha wrote about this for my blog last year. But today is a good day to revisit as we celebrate all good things about being a woman. As a refresher, the superwoman ideology refers to our feelings and societies unwritten expectations that we as Black women have to be able to be everything to everyone, accept pain and be resilient through it, put others’ needs before our own, etc. That’s a simplistic way of explaining it. Black women we are powerful and magical, but we have so much on our shoulders. Lately, I’ve been feeling that pressure more than I have in a while.

After I finished my comprehensive exams for my Ph.D. program in December, it was time to move to dissertation phase. Once I received feedback from my dissertation chair about my chapter one, I instantly began feeling thAT pestering feeling that I get when my anxiety begins to rise. Needless to say, the feedback I received is requiring me to really start over with reading and gathering more information. I was good, at first, though. I saw that some of my classmates were already in the process of getting ready to defend their proposal or working on soliciting participants for their research study. That’s when my anxiety finally decided to come out. I felt behind. I am behind. I realized that recreating my chapter one was going to take lots of time and I am still slightly confused about how to begin. I feel like I have to be perfect because my chair is a very distinguished, admired, and bomb professor and I don’t want to let her down. I’m to the point where I do not want anyone asking me how my dissertation is going. It’s going to be a while before I get some momentum.

Right when I started drowning in the muddy waters of this dissertation, I picked up a second job for a few hours on the weekend to help offset the costs of this wedding I’m in and to help pay down this growing debt I still have. As soon as I got this second job, things started picking up at my full-time job. This week alone I’ve worked every night. I’m not complaining because I love my job, but I feel guilty if I told someone that I needed a moment to recharge or breathe. One of my mentors told me to step away from something but it’s like I honestly cannot. Everything that I’m doing has a purpose and if I quit, that means I failed.

I place tons of pressure on myself when it comes to this blog. I want to make it better and see it grow. I look at other blogs and how they’re progressing and started to think I wasn’t going to get to that point. Marketing was becoming an issue. I looked at my blog’s Instagram and saw the lack of traction I was getting. I thought that after a year, it was going to be further along than it is.

I’ve been feeling pressure to try and date. I wrote about being patient and recognizing worth a couple of posts ago. And I still believe that. No one is pressuring me, this pressure is self-inflicted. The colleagues that I work closely with are all in relationships, the guys in the area I live in are all married or in relationships, my friends in South Florida are mostly all in relationships. I’m truly happy for everyone who is with someone they love. With all the success I have and am still working towards, I feel like I’m climbing with no one to climb with me. I’m scared that the older I get and the more I focus on my career, I won’t have anyone to share the other part of my life with. My best friend Dom gave me some great advice the other weekend about becoming whole and it really was a word.

Many people see me as “having it together” or “doing big shit” or they tell me I’m “goals”. I’m happy I can be a role model to others and a blessing. I live to bless others in anyway I can. But because I am a people pleaser, that adds to the pressure I put on myself. Because if I fail or show weakness, I feel like I’m letting people down or people won’t see me as their “hero” anymore.

I do think, that I’ll feel a little better after my next therapy appointment at the end of the month. I haven’t seen my therapist since beginning of February. I’ve been holding everything in and refuse to talk to my friends anymore about the things I’m going through because I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining or whining. After I was telling one of my friends about how I was feeling about my dissertation process, I received a response from them that made me not want to talk about any of my woes after that. From that moment, however, I’ve been making an effort to ensure I’m encouraging others to see the light in all of their situations.

Rest assured, my energy bank is running on fumes right now. Black women, we have to “pause” (as my Dad says) and take time for ourselves. Self-care is not something that we just say just to say it. We have to incorporate this into our daily lives without remorse. For me, I workout in the mornings and try to be in bed by 9:30 so I can get some needed sleep. For others, reading for fun, or hanging with friends may be self-care. Whatever it is, do it. Drop the thoughts of being something for others all of the time because then you’re left with the fumes I’ve had for the past two months. It’s not a good feeling. I’ve been working to try and “pause” every day.

And look, all that worrying I was doing about everything didn’t benefit me at all. All it did was cause me to break out, give me lower back pain, and have restless thoughts. But God always shows out. He’s blessed me with two new writers for my blog and a marketing/content specialist. I will be introducing them soon!

On this International Women’s Day, take a pause and reflect on you. Take yourself out because you deserve it. Celebrate the magic you posses. Admire how your melanin glows in the sun. I know I will.

 

❤ Queen T

Your President, a Bucket of white Tears & a Fake Superhero Cape

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Image obtained from Google Images

I still think that we are in a terrible low budget movie starring the the guy who came after Obama, 45. Everyday, I grow more annoyed by the doings of this administration. But what I’ve noticed the most is how 45 is one of the greatest actors to probably ever live. Honestly, who can spew hate speech one day and then turn around and accuse others of being hateful all in the same breath? Your celebrity-in-chief can do this in his sleep. This Many-faced God (Game of Thrones reference), is so good at being multiple people at once, that it starts to become a little confusing. I’m unsure if real actors have tools that they utilize to help them perfect their craft, but 45 most definitely has two. The first, a bucket of white tears. Second, a fake superhero cape. Both of have been key in his election in 2016 and currently as president.

A Bucket of White Tears

In 1989, five young boys of color, known as the Central Park Five, were falsely accused of beating and raping a white woman in New York City. Your celebrity-in-chief called for the death penalty of these boys labeling them as “crazed misfits”. After another man confessed to the crime, 45 has yet to apologize for his role in how the media and country handled this case.

Fast forward to present day, 45’s rhetoric is still the same when it comes to people of color. His entire campaign focused on building a wall on the American-Mexican border to keep out “drug dealers”, “rapists”, “thugs”, you name it. He’s sided with law enforcement when police unjustly kill unarmed Black and brown people.

He’s failed to address his supporters when they physically have harmed protestors at his rallies. He’s even supported the All Lives Matter social campaign, a slogan that was probably created by white people who opposed the Black Lives Matter Movement. He insisted that former president Barack H. Obama produce his birth certificate to ensure he was an American citizen.

His hate train doesn’t stop at people of color. We saw him publicly mock a person with a physical disability on his campaign trail. He takes pleasure in grabbing women by the “p****” in his spare time and opposes immigration…while married to immigrant who enjoys plagiarizing. There are multiple other cases of 45 being a pompous bigot but all of that seems to be irrelevant when people have negative things to say about him or when people speak facts. It is at this moment, when he pulls out his bucket of white tears to garner sympathy from his army of supporters. It is important to define “white tears” in this context. According to a 2015 article by Damon Young, a writer for VerySmartBrothas, white tears “is phrase to describe what happens when certain types of White people either complain about a nonexistent racial injustice or are upset by a non-White person’s success at the expense of a White person. It encompasses (and makes fun of) the performative struggle to acknowledge the existence of White privilege, and the reality that it ain’t always gonna go unchecked.”  

(Read it here: https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/white-tears-explained-for-white-people-who-dont-get-i-1822522689)

I’d like to think of this as an example of “white fragility” as well. Robin DiAngelo’s 2011 article says that white fragility is a, “state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include
the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such
as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.”

(Read it here: https://libjournal.uncg.edu/ijcp/article/viewFile/249/116)

Here are two recent examples of this.

IMG_2790The first, comes from the murky Jussie Smollett case. Put your personal feelings about what Jussie did or didn’t do to the side for a moment. Jussie allegedly staged an attack on himself and blamed MAGA supporters for the attack. After Chicago police conducted an investigation and found that Jussie allegedly made up his story, 45 and his twitter fingers, went to social media to blast Jussie and said that his comments were “racist attacks” towards his followers. 45 had time to address an alleged false claim about his supporters but from what I recall, he has yet to publicly denounce the hateful things that his supporters have done.

IMG_279145’s tweet about Spike Lee’s Oscars speech from last night’s Academy Awards Ceremony where Director and Filmmaker, Spike Lee won his very first Oscar, is the second time 45 had his bucket of tears at his bedside. During Lee’s speech, he referenced how it has been 400 years since the first African landed on U.S. soil in 1619 as a slave. He also encouraged voters to be “on the right side of history” in the next election. Lee, obviously nervous and excited from winning his first freaking Oscar, stumbled over his words a bit as he paid homage to our ancestors who literally built this country on their backs and were the financial stability of this country. Other award winners stumbled over their words during their acceptance speeches but 45 had to point it out in Lee’s speech.  Why? Because Lee was doing nothing but telling the truth about the social injustices Black people have experienced at the hands of white people and the system of white supremacy. 45, in response tweeted, Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!

Both of these situations are examples of how a white person complained about “a non-existent racial injustice”. Although Jussie allegedly lied, there is no racial injustice here. There were no white people harmed in the making of this alleged hoax. Where was that energy when there were Black people who were attacked at a few rallies during the 2016 election? Spike Lee outlining the facts of this country’s ugly history with slavery was not an injustice to white people. White people treating Black people as chattel was injustice to Black people. Telling voters to be “on the right side of history” was not an injustice, it was a direct response to the divisive rhetoric of 45 and his administration. In terms of white fragility, 45’s tweets were a form of defensive moves.

You can’t spew out hate speech and then turn around and play victim…it’s the pot calling the kettle Black.

Annnnnnnd, last thing. I honestly can’t stand when people call Black people racist. Black people do not benefit from the system of racism because they are a group of people that are oppressed under such a system. The correct term to use when wanting to call out Black people for an alleged injustice involving race would to be “prejudice”. Any race can have a prejudice towards another race. People of color just cannot be racist. White people benefit from racist structures because they created them.

A Fake Superhero Cape

45’s antics at the State of the Union Address (SOTU) this year was the icing on the cake to his role as a fake savior to Black people in this country. He loves to remind us that he’s done more for Black people in this country than any other president by providing us poor, pitiful, Black folks more jobs. Well, 45 had that cape on tight during the SOTU address. I watched as he paraded around Alice Johnson and Matthew Charles, both previously incarcerated for various unjust reasons. He spoke not about how unlawful their sentences were, but mostly about himself and how he’d done a good job getting them out. This white savior complex is the bread and butter of white supremacy. It’s this idea that a non-white person needs saving and the reward is for the white person’s personal gain. I mean, it would be the first tenant of the white supremacist 10-point system if there was one. Colonization is proof. White people decided to stop minding their own business and go to other people’s lands and mess shit up. They saw natives of that land and decided that they needed to be trained. White people enslaved the natives, raped the women, and brought disease and famine to their lands. They killed and forced natives out of their homes. In the end, white’s conquered lands that weren’t theirs for their own personal gain. This is our history, people. Just because 45 tried to make his words sound colorful, we heard him loud and clear.

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None of these concepts I explained are new. I have a feeling that most people of color have experienced this in their daily lives in encounters with some white folks in their office environments or classrooms. It’s important that we challenge this behavior.

 

❤ Queen T

Guest Writer – Tarrin Morgan II

My Bio Pic (1)
Tarrin Morgan II

The Rebirth of the Phoenix

For 30 years of my life I have been afraid of heights.
However, that changed on one of my darkest nights.
I remember crying on that couch with a plan to end it all.
I was tired of being lied to,
exhausted from attempting to pour from a cup that was rusted through,
and was begging God for a sign that there are bright days ahead.
She responded,
“Yes, but first you must take flight.
The sky is not the limit, it is just the view.
You are meant to soar and make an impact on the world.
Your fiery passion has the power to warm the coldest hearts.
Your wings gracefully flow in a humble way that inspires hope
in the most pessimistic of individuals.
You were born with a calling that you will soon fulfill.
You are a Phoenix but over the years you forgot.
So, I had to put you through this journey to remind you.
You are dead inside now but consider this your rebirth.
Take flight my Phoenix because you are now ready for
what I have been preparing you for.”
– Tarrin Morgan II
Founder & Content Creator of the #RealTalkSessionSeries

 

Tarrin’s Bio:

Tarrin Morgan II is a man of many talents and possess wisdom beyond his years.  He is a tried and true student affairs professional that has been working in the higher education field for nine fulfilling years.  “Students are not an interruption to our work, students are our work” is Tarrin’s professional philosophy which is backed with his actions of putting students first, advocating for them at all times, and his reputation of exceeding expectations of students and colleagues.  In addition to being an educator, he has been doing videography for over 10 years.  He has interned for Emmis Communications (specifically with radio station, Hot 97), done multiple videos for Morgan State University, and does freelance work such as weddings, commercials for businesses, etc. 

Tarrin originally created the Real Talk Session Series to address the issues that students and staff of color face at a private higher education institution in New Jersey.  The Real Talk Session Series was birthed on November 15, 2017 when he held a conversation surrounding race, gender, and leadership with award-winning researcher, political commentator, and professor, Dr. Wendy Osefo.  The Real Talk Session Series evolved into what it is today when Tarrin faced an extremely tough battle with depression and anxiety all throughout 2018.  He was able to turn a negative situation into positive as well as figure out a way to fuse his passions of education and videography in his own unique way in efforts to maximize his positive impact on the world.  

Tarrin holds a Masters degree in Higher Education Administration from Morgan State University (Baltimore, Maryland), a Masters degree in Administrative Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University (Teaneck, New Jersey), and a Bachelors degree in Communication with a minor in Sociology from William Paterson University (Wayne, New Jersey).  He aspires to obtain his Doctorate degree in Education in the near future.  

Black Women, It’s You > Him, Sis.

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“This is one of the reasons I stopped saving people’s numbers in my phone…”

Bare with me because I’m sure I’m about to tug on some heart strings. If your heart strings are tugged, more than likely, you’ve experienced the things I’ll be writing about at some point in time or even right now.

The topic of relationships is one I sort of teeter-tot around when I write. This is mainly because I’ve been scared to be honest with myself and writing it down would make it real. But it is real. I was watching Yvonne Orji’s TED Talk called, “The Wait is Sexy” that was released in 2017. I know I’m about a year and a half late on watching this but I’m glad I did.  Her “idea worth spreading” was her story about being a virgin as an adult Black woman. Obviously, that’s not my story, but what she discussed towards the end of her talk resonated with me. She left us with 5 main points that you should be ready to wait for when it comes to a relationship. Those points were:

  1. Wait for someone who sees you, for you, and loves you regardless
  2. Wait on the one who sees value in what you value
  3. Wait on purpose and not on fear
  4. Wait on the one who makes you a priority
  5. Wait on the one who meets your standards

I’m not eem gonna lie, I felt some type of way because my own heart strings were pulled when I listened to her explain the points. The reason I decided to write this piece was to hopefully encourage single Black women who find themselves giving more than they receive when dating, to have a safe space to process. Many of the things I’m going to cover are personal experiences and things I’ve talked about with my Black women friends – most who are single but also a couple that are married. Some of the points were hard for me to come to terms with once I finally allowed myself to reflect on my past relationships or guys I currently “talk to” or “text with”, rather. Nonetheless, Yvonne’s points clearly communicate things that I’ve neglected in my experience with men. So, here goes…

It’s almost been two years since my last relationship ended and this has been the longest I’ve ever gone without being in a relationship since I was 18-years-old. Now, at age 29, dating is very hard, in my opinion. Yvonne address this slightly, in her 3rd point about waiting on purpose and not fear. She briefly said that we have fear that we may be single because the ratio of Black women to Black men in America is disproportionate due to mass incarceration and there are differences on educational levels. This very well could be a fear for most Black women. It’s sort of one of my fears. I do believe there is a shortage because of our prison system and the numbers get even smaller when I think about men who have have the same number of degrees or at least one degree as I do. The world is big but depending on your situation or geographical location, you may not find a Black man that has a degree and if he does, more than likely he’s engaged or already married. Every serious relationship I’ve been in, I’ve been the one with a degree or two and my partners only had high school educations. Now, I value a person’s hustle and I totally agree that college access and a desire for a post-secondary degree is not in everyone’s future, so dating someone who did not have a degree didn’t bother me too much when I was in my early 20s. It started to get more difficult when I was trying to explain something and my partner was unable to connect with what I was saying. Or when I wanted to help my partner do something but was nervous to do it because I didn’t want him to think that I was smarter than he was because I had more educational experience. It started to get a little overwhelming sometimes.

Point 4, wait on the one who makes you a priority, I think struck me the hardest out of all 5 points. I don’t think there’s been a time where I’ve fully felt as if I was a priority for any guy I’ve dated or have talked to or are talking to now. I’ve never received the same energy back from guys that I put in. I’m always the one asking how things are going without the person asking me it in return. Or I’ve noticed that guys have only tried to make me a priority when they’ve come to the decision that they may want to sleep with me. I’m a grown woman who has lots of things going for herself but guys will literally meet me, ask me for my number, text for a brief moment and pretend like their interested, and then nothing for some weeks, and then he come out the blue saying he miss me. It’s getting old and one of the reasons I stopped saving people’s numbers in my phone. I’m now smart enough to sense when the conversation isn’t going anywhere after the first few minutes of us communicating. Anywho, many of my friends that talk to me about their situations with men, all have similar stories. They feel as if the guys they are interested in aren’t making them a priority but they continue to let him back into their lives. I still don’t know what we do this.

When I accepted my first job out of graduate school, it was at a school about thirty minutes away from my hometown. I did this because I was trying to make things work with my boyfriend at the time who was back home. I had finally given up on job searching out of state because I knew he didn’t want me to go because he couldn’t come with me, one of the main reasons was because he had a child. He knew he couldn’t take his child with us because how would his child’s mother see her kid? I remember him calling me selfish for wanting to move out of state knowing he had a child. I felt guilty so I stayed close to home so we could be together. We ended up breaking up like four months later. I made him and his situation a priority over what I desired to do to advance my career.

Same thing happened with my second job. I took my second job because it was in the same city as my next boyfriend. I wanted to live in the same city because I felt like he was the one. Again, I made someone else a priority over myself. He didn’t ask me to move there, I assumed that moving would make us closer and I later found out I was more invested than he was. Annddd that was my last relationship…two years ago :).

I think that we don’t spend enough time making ourselves a priority when we’re single. We spend so much time dwelling in our singleness and slight envy for others who are in seemingly happy relationships. It’s been instilled in us that our purpose in life is to find a man (I’m speaking from the perspective of a heterosexual woman) and that if we don’t have a man by a certain age that means nobody wants us or we’ve done something wrong. We have to move away from that mindset and love ourselves first. Do you know who you are without that man? What’s your value outside of him? If it’s tough for you to answer those questions, that probably means you truly don’t know. You have to do some self reflection. During this time of being single, I recently realized that I want more than just sporadic text messages here and there or guys only being interested in me for the physical and nothing past that. Now, that I’m getting all of this down, I guess I’ve been working on making myself a priority longer than I thought. I met this guy this summer when I was interviewing for jobs around the country and I was instantly into him. Long story short, I decided to accept a job in Florida and not in the state he lived in. I took the Florida job for many reasons but I knew that if I took the job where he lived, part of me would have been doing it just so I could see what was up with him. A job that I felt was right for me was my priority at the time. I found it here in Florida :).  Figure out your worth and value and I truly believe that the one is going to come who is going to make you his priority.

Wait on the one who meets your standards, is point 5. Social media has disgusting way of trying to make Black women feel guilty about having expectations. I’m one who has felt like I sacrificed many of the things that I desired in partner.  Why do we feel as if we have to lower our standards for someone when we are the actual prize to be won and valued? For Black women with degrees, we’re told we’re too picky because there’s certain things we won’t budge on. Society places the blame on us for our singleness. Yvonne said that sometimes when people can’t meet your standards, they try to diminish them, “you’re still single because your standards are too high”. I see nothing wrong with recognizing what you’re willing to accept and not accept. And no longer should we feel guilty about it.

I think what I’m trying to say is always keep yourself first, stop trying to do wife-like things for someone who texts you every three weeks, and know the value you hold.

 

❤ Queen T