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

Special Spotlight – Annie Blanc, Esq.

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Annie Blanc, Esq.

Annie Blanc, Esq., 27, is a native of Miami, (Dade County) Florida and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Annie currently lives in Altamonte Springs, Florida. She graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2013 with a bachelors of arts degree in criminal justice. In high school, she was enrolled in a Dual Enrollment program that allowed her to transfer in college credits from Miami-Dade College. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Annie then went on to law school at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, GA and later transferred to Florida A & M University’s College of Law. She graduate from Florida A & M in 2017 with her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. She is currently a Dependency Attorney for a government agency that was created by the Florida Governor to alleviate the overwhelming caseload handled throughout the state regarding certain legal issues. These offices are broken down into districts and she works for the office located in Central Florida. As an attorney, she handles Dependency and Guardianship matters for the agency. She represents parents in legal actions brought on by the Department of Children and Families and she also represents incapacitated persons by making sure their interests are protected from those seeking to make permanent life decisions for them. One fun fact about Annie is she is currently on a fitness journey. She’s lost a total of 40 pounds in her process. Another fact is she loves to dance. She says, “Performing puts me in a different space, which is needed for the type of work I do.”

Talk about what you do as a Dependency Attorney? As a Dependency Attorney, I represent parents in legal actions brought on by the Department of Children and Families. I ensure that their due process rights are protected and that my clients get the services they need to keep their families together.

How did you become interested in this role? In reality, this type of law was not my first choice. My office handles criminal matters as well and that’s what I originally applied for. My boss, however, gave me a chance when no one would at the time so I was gracious to take the opportunity as it’s office policy to start new attorneys in Dependency.

What inspired you to begin studying law? Wow. Where do I begin? I come from an area of Miami that was not the richest so to speak. There was a lot of activity that my parents tried to shelter me from, being that I was Haitian, the youngest of four and the only girl. But sadly, they couldn’t keep the world and everyone in it from showing me its true colors. In my lifetime, I have seen and endured a lot. AND I MEAN A LOT. By the age of twelve, I found myself wanting to save people and to keep bad things from happening to them so they wouldn’t have to suffer because I was so sure the concept of suffering was something that could be changed. For me that meant changing the environment and changing the way society worked for people…My People. And what better way to start than with the crfullsizerender 2iminal justice system and the law.

What pressures, if any, do you believe you face as a Black female attorney? As a black female attorney, I often feel as if I have something to prove. I mean, African Americans make up about 5 percent of the attorney population here in the United States. Black female attorneys make up even less than that. When I walk into a courtroom, when I’m speaking to a client, or when I’m sitting at my desk prepping an argument for a motion hearing I am representing every black woman who ever got a chance to step foot in this country. That’s because when they see me, they see you, they see my mother, they see Cyntoia Brown. I acknowledge it. I understand it. Most importantly, I am not ashamed of it. Why? Because I try my best to represent the black woman in a light that screams “WE ARE IT”.

What are some challenges and triumphs that come with your line of work? Some of the challenges I face usually come from being probably one of the few people who truly understand what clients have been through and how they perceive the world. It can get frustrating attimes because I can’t force people to see that the world just doesn’t hand a life free of problems. Some people are just born into situations that is damn near impossible to get of, hence why we have situations that are bred from cycles. This can get frustrating when it seems as if the State is condemning your client for something you know stemmed from centuries of generational curses.

My triumphs, however, come from the same fact that I am one of the few people who truly understands. Because of this I feel like I connect with my clients on another level. I am able to advocate for them from their prospective but in way aligns with the law because I went to school to speak legalese. This is what makes it all worth it.

Why is it important for Black people to understand law, politics, and policies? It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for Black people to understand law, politics, and policies because these three concepts determine our very existence in this country as a people. Everything that has affected us culturally, from slavery to integration in public places to the stand your ground era, has been deep rooted in law, politics, and policies. We as a people need to pay close attention to what makes this society function, as we do not want to be on the losing side of history again, when we have the opportunity to actually mold them to our benefit. Many people have this misconception that we don’t need to understand these concepts because “it doesn’t work for us”. But the gag is, it can work for us. Only if we understand how to make it work.

What advice do you have for young, Black people who may want to become a lawyer? Do it! We are in dire need of more black attorneys, so I am here for it all! There is nothing that can stand in your way. Your thoughts create your reality so if you believe that you have what it takes, then you have what it takes. This is coming from a Haitian American girl who grew up in  a part of Miami where the palm trees and sandy beaches were not part of her reality.

Do you see yourself working in this area of law long term or do you have other career goals? If you have other goals, how will you take what you’ve been doing in this role to your next position? No. Not at all. I’m the type of person who believes that purpose is comprised of a series of life tasks that are meant to be conquered. There is nothing earthly that should take hundred percent of your life’s work. I plan on influencing society in a number of ways and this chapter of my life will push me forward and carry me through the next.

img_0903Anything else you want readers to know? YES! Follow my Instagram blog page @legallyinspired2. I have a few projects coming out this year and I would love for everyone to be a part of this journey with me ! Looking forward to this new year already

! Thank you for letting me apart of this HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Follow Annie on Instagram at @she_inspires2 and @legallyinspired2

 

Red Table Talk’s Convo on Race Relations Missed Some Marks…

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I enjoy watching the Red Table talks. They’ve been very open on domestic abuse, drug use, and overall hard conversations. However, with the two segments on race, specifically between white and black women, I can say that something is missing from the conversation. I understand the intention behind bringing women of color and white women together to try and bridge gaps between the societal separation, however the language being used at the table is missing some depth and in some cases, facts, about the our ownership in the systems that drive these relationships. There are deep rooted reasons behind the divide in the first place and those reasons should be addressed alongside the lived experiences of both block women and white women. However without further inspection into the systematic divide, the lived experiences only seem like surface level conversations.  – Tiara Cash, 2018

 

(Shout out to my dear friend/Soror, Cash $chmoney$ for the quote!)

I love Red Table Talk. If you don’t know what Red Table Talk is, please do yourself a great service, log into Facebook, and head over to the Facebook Watch icon and search Red Table Talk (RTT). RTT is hosted by Jada Pinkett-Smith, her daughter Willow, and her mother, Adrienne. They have various discussions about various topics that highlight Black women’s intersectional identities. Topics have ranged from drug abuse, to mending old relationships, to most recently, conversations about race.

Now, those who know me, know I love a good conversation about race. I love hearing others’ opinions about how race plays a role in just about everything that goes on in this country. Our country was founded on the basis of racism. When the second season of RTT premiered a number of weeks ago, I was ready. I loved season one so I knew season 2 was going to be just as good. After the first episode, they previewed clips from the upcoming shows that season and the two that caught my attention the most were the episodes that featured Jane Elliot, a white woman, well-known for her work with children in the mid-1900s about how segregation worked in America, and Ellen Pompeo, a white woman, the star of one of my favorite shows, Grey’s Anatomy (I feel like there were hella commas in that sentence but…oh well).

I purposely mentioned that they were both white women because it is important in this context. Jada asked them on the show because she believed that they were white women who “get it” and are advocates for the rights of all people in this country, but specifically, advocates for people of color. The RTT episode with Jane, was not my first time hearing about her work with teaching white people about their privilege in America and how white people socially control just about everything. I admired Jane’s work, but I also had my reservations about it. We will get into that a bit later. Ellen, has been monumental in the movement for equal pay, women’s rights, and the rights of people of color. She is a woman who I admire and believe that she truly means what she says.

On the episode with Jane, Jada, Adrienne, and Willow discuss the relationship between white women and Black women in America. Jada was curious to know why white and Black women are basically arch nemesis. Adrienne shared stories about growing up during the era of segregation and why she still holds anger towards white people. Jada agreed. She recalled an experience she had in Virginia with the police. Pain has been passed down through generations from the way whiteness has impacted their lives.

Here’s where I felt the conversation went from pretty decent to sort of missing the mark. When Jada said she was surprised that white women and Black women have issues because white women know the struggle of being oppressed because they are women. Jada missed a mark here because while white women are oppressed in a patriarchal system, they still benefit from white privilege. This is a privilege that Black women are unable to possess. Black women hold two dually oppressed identities: being Black (race) and being a woman (gender). Their oppression is at the intersection of racism and sexism. This is why white women have the power to oppress Black women.

Another mark that was missed was when the women brought out one of their white female producers. The producer went on to talk about how she’s never been in an experience to know when she had privilege and when a Black woman didn’t have privilege. She said that no one had ever checked her on it before. Then she said she doesn’t know what to do about racism and that she tries to be Black women’s friend. At that moment, one of the hosts could have said multiple things but here’s two:

  1. Fixing racism isn’t about going out and being Black women’s friend.
  2. A starting point is being an active bystander and if you hear someone say something racist or offensive towards people of color, talk to them about why what they said was hurtful.

I know I heard myself screaming “GO READ A BOOK!” “Open up the news and read about police brutality!” These were simple steps to figuring out “what to do” about racism. You have to educate yourself and make yourself comfortable being uncomfortable. Talking and learning about racism is very uncomfortable.

The last mark missed was when Jane came out talkin’ ’bout some, “there is no race but the human race”. Okay, yes, race is a social construct. This means that race is not a biological thing. People created races. So, while yes, Jane is absolutely correct, but to yell that statement that loud without more context, does nothing for the purpose of the conversation. What I mean is, this is a time for Jane to follow that statement up by saying something like, “Although we are all one race, we cannot ignore that socially, race exists and we have to acknowledge that people of color in this country have experienced traumatic events and have endured systems of dominance since colonization.” Jane’s “color blind” rhetoric is one of the reasons why some white people can’t see their privilege. When you say or imply that you don’t see color, you ignore the unique experiences that people of color have faced and you really don’t see them. Their color is part of who they are and the world treats you very differently when your melanin is poppin’. I know the episodes aren’t long enough to go into much detail but key pieces like that have to be aired so people don’t get the wrong idea. With Jane being the “expert” in the space, that was her role to ensure those things were mentioned.

Nonetheless, I was eager to watch the next episode with Ellen Pompeo. I knew Ellen was going give the people the real talk about race. I felt like she was a white woman who was down with the movement for Black rights. I believe she is down. I enjoyed her appearance and I had a couple moments where I felt myself making a face that probably read, “huh?” I cringed when Ellen was telling the story about how when she was growing up, she was curious to know why white people didn’t like Black people so much. She became friends with them because she wanted to know more about them. Then she said that she would invite her Black friends over to swim in the pool so when her dad got home, she was see if he would get mad. “You know, when he came home, see a pool full of Black boys…cuz ya know, when you’re a teenager, you have to rebel a little”. That statement right there had me like “EXCUSE ME?! Soooo, you exploiting Black boys for entertainment….?” But, that was 30 years ago and I’m sure Ellen has evolved and was telling that story to probably show her growth. After I processed that to myself, I moved on with the video.

The conversation continues and Ellen moves on to talk about “reverse racism”…you know what? I’m still processing this segment so, I actually can’t form a full opinion yet.

Lastly, I think the conversation about interracial marriage had a potential to go another route. Jada prefaced that conversation with a quick history lesson about Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and Black woman who were in love and secretly got married in the 1960s. They were arrested and jailed because interracial marriage was illegal. Their case went to the Supreme Court and they won changing history and changing the law. This was a cute touch. I think they could have went further back in history and had a conversation about slavery and the institution of the marriage. But also how white people sexually objectified and abused Black bodies. One of the reasons why people have an issue with interracial marriage stems from pieces of that history. Again, all that would have been too much for a short episode.

I would be remiss if I did not speak to Black women as well. Black women, we have to ensure that we take time to not automatically assume that white women are around to harm us. We need to be open to getting to know them and learn about their cultural as well. The key to better communication is learning how to talk across cultural differences and see diverse perspectives.

I say all of that to say that we have to continue to have these conversations and check each other. Feel free to check me if you disagree. That’s the beauty of learning. When you bring multiple ideas and ways of knowing to the table it brings out more opportunity for growth and conversation. These two RTT episodes definitely made me want to continue to the growth.

With Love,

Queen T

Cyntoia Brown – A Black Life That Matters

 

News: Cyntoia Brown Clemency Hearing
Cyntoia Brown

This story really makes me upset. Yet again we see our unjust justice system has failed another woman of color who chose survival over being sexually mistreated. This is yet a prime example of how the safety of a woman is of minimal concern to the court system. Ms. Brown has been incarcerated for almost a decade for murdering a man who purchased her as a sex slave and made her fear for her safety, when she was 16-years-old. She made a choice to protect herself and the system failed to protect her.

Now, the first time this story became news to me was late last year when I saw it circulating around social media. I was unaware that Ms. Brown was already serving a life sentence and her supporters and attorneys were fighting her length of her incarceration. If my understanding of the facts of the case were right, then they were arguing that Ms. Brown’s sentence was excessive because it was unlawful to give a minor a life sentence for a crime. News recently broke that Ms. Brown will not be released from jail and that she must serve 51 years of her sentence before she is eligible for release.

I could be totally off here but this story is also an example of the credibility of a woman of color was called into question. It’s as if this ruling is saying that the mistreatment of Black and brown female bodies is invalid, like we are just supposed to accept abuse because that’s what we deserve. That if she would have just continued to be be sexually abused she would not be in prison.  

We live in a country where statistically, Black and Latino/Hispanic people are incarcerated higher than white people. According to the NAACP’s website, 32% of the children arrested in 2014 were Black. You didn’t need me to tell you that though, this is not a new topic. Prisons were designed to find a new way for slavery after Emancipation.  

I feel as if this ruling is a slap in the face for the fight for social justice. I’m not saying that giving up the fight for social justice, that will always continue, I’m saying that its situations like these that gives us a constant reminder about why we must continue. The five judges that unanimously ruled in favor of Ms. Brown serving 51-years, I wonder if they have daughters. Or little grandchildren. I wonder if they had to make the same decision on their lives like they did Ms. Brown, if they would feel the same. If their daughters or granddaughters had to make the same decision Ms. Brown had to make at 16-years-old, if they would unanimously vote to keep them behind bars for 51 years.

I’m just going to end this by saying that Cyntoia Brown is a SHero and we must not let her name get lost in a sea of hashtags. Let her continue to remind you that there is still tremendous work that needs to be done in country and in our unjustified justice system.

❤ Queen T

“Affirmative Action Didn’t Grant You Access To This Space”

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This isn’t another piece about “code-switching” because quite frankly, I do that well. This is a piece about how I almost let my separation from a former employer strip away my confidence in myself. This is a piece that for many Black people, but especially Black women, know all too well. I was too “Black” and too much of a “Black woman” for the all-white office I worked in long ago.

I was hired to implement a diversity program to teach folks about how to talk about identity and inclusivity. I accepted the job offer with the impression that I would be working in an office with people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds. I felt comfortable in that space during my interview. All of that changed the day I started work. I was told that the organization had did some restructuring and that I would now be working out of a different office: an all-white office. I admit, my vision of what my professional life would be at this new place in a new city quickly became obfuscated. However, I told myself to embrace this change and go in with a positive mind.

My supervisor at the start of my job told me she was leaving after my first week and that my new supervisor who would also be working in the new office, would be starting at the end of the month. She told me he identified as Latino and I felt a slight pressure lift off of my shoulders because I felt comfortable knowing I wasn’t going to be the only person of color in my new office. Let me tell you, I couldn’t have been more WRONG. But we’ll get to that part.

I took the initiative to slowly open up to a couple of my co-workers who identified as white women and who gave the impression that they recognized their whiteness and their privilege. It was cool at first. I started getting comfortable, let my sew-in down a bit, so they could believe that I was relatable and not an “angry Black woman”. My new supervisor soon started, and I trained him on how to do part of his job (yes, I trained my boss) and tried to get to know him a bit.

As the weeks flew by, everyone in the office seemed comfortable with each other. People would be on their phones and computers during staff meetings, one of my co-workers would let a cuss word slip in meetings all the time with no correction, I started hearing them have inappropriate conversations during work hours. The two white women who I thought I was “cool” with, even came in my office one time talking about the porn websites they like to visit. Yeah, it was like that.

Our walls in the office were super thin so you could hear basically everyone’s conversations. I would have my music playing in my office, so I could concentrate on the work I was doing and not have to listen to others’ conversations. One day, I was on the phone in my office, chatting with a colleague who worked at another company. I was envisioning launching my very own blog that would be a place where I could share stories about things I’ve been through and have conversations that centered around Black womanhood. I told her that I was interested in writing about Black women’s sexuality and how it has been demonized since slavery and Black women have been labeled as sexual objects.

My co-worker that shared a wall with me (one who was talking about porn in my office a few weeks prior), was listening to my conversation, went and told the director of our office that I was talking about oral sex in my office. The director passed that information down to my boss and my boss brought it to me. He believed that I was actually having an inappropriate conversation. There was no support from him. I was angry. I decided to go report my co-worker and my boss to human resources. I told them they I felt targeted in my office space and I did not feel comfortable being there. Of course, I wasn’t granted permission to work in another office.

Weeks passed, and I made it my duty to stay to myself. I did my work (because regardless of the lies they told on me, I ran that entire program by myself), I kept my door closed, and only communicated with others in my office when it was time to work on a project together. I remained professional and decided to not have any personal conversations with anyone.

Others in my office soon started telling my boss that I didn’t inform them on an event or send them an email. Just making up things about me. My boss, again, believed them, and when I showed him proof that they received all communication (and he was CC’d on every single email!) he still didn’t apologize. I was clearly upset, and I professionally told him that I don’t feel supported by him and that he was presuming that I was incompetent as a Black woman in the office. I told him how for weeks, he was taking the sides of the people in my office and neglecting the fact that I was his supervisee and that he should know that I was doing my job.

All while the little microaggressive things were happening to me in the office, I started going to therapy. I was depressed and unhappy with my work situation. One time, I had a break down in my office because I was so overwhelmed, I told my supervisor that I needed to go home and take a sick day…but I marched straight to my therapist because I was going to lose my shit.

One day, I saw my supervisor crying in one of his co-worker’s offices and by the end of the day, he had gone home and that was the last time I saw him. The next week, human resources comes into my office and places me on paid administrative leave while they conducted a workplace investigation against me. They would not tell me why I was being investigated but I figured it had to do with everything going on in the office. My allies at the company informed me that my supervisor had returned to work the very next day of my administrative leave. I knew something was up.

For over three weeks, I sat at home not knowing what was going on with the investigation. I found a lawyer and was ready to head to court if need be. When I received communication about the investigation, it was found that I violated the “anti-bullying” policy by creating a hostile work environment for my supervisor and co-workers, I was insubordinate and did not complete assigned tasks given to me by my supervisor, I was unprofessional, and the list goes on of the encrypted words of discrimination they hit me with. I was livid.

At my investigative hearing, the hearing officer hit me with all the lies my boss and co-workers made up about me. They weren’t prepared for all the receipts I had, though. I had saved every email communication between me and my supervisor, me and the director, me and HR, me and co-workers. I had a timeline of events typed out that proved that I was the victim of discrimination by those in my office and that the only reason why I was being investigated was because I was the only Black woman in the office and this was their way to get me out. The hearing officer wasn’t prepared for me to have any type of rebuttal. He said he was going to need another week to go back and speak with the ones in my office again. He made sure to reiterate the company’s retaliation policy to ensure I didn’t speak to anyone in the office.

Long story short, the company and I parted ways after me working there for 7 months. They packed up my office and mailed me a box full of my things that I had left. One of the items included a shirt that said, “Affirmative Action Did Not Grant You Access To This Space”. Mind you, the shirt wasn’t mine. They purposely placed that shirt in my box of things to let me know, I wasn’t welcomed.

I am thankful that God saw fit for me to go through that situation, so I can use that to be better, to continue to fight for social justice, and to have a testimony for when I things started to look up. I wish no hard feelings on anyone in that company. My job was to run a diversity program and the only thing I regret was not trying to educate those in my office more about cultural competence.

I urge all Black women to make sure that when you are interviewing for jobs, that you ask questions to know about the work environment you are going to be a part of. We can’t control organizational changes but be cognizant of your environment. Be watchful of the relationships you begin to build. Understand that just because you may have another person of color in the office, they may not have your best interests in mind. Find allies in other departments or in other areas. Build a community of support outside of your workspace. Don’t let the stress of a hostile work environment be a strain on your mental health. Seek therapy as an option and find ways to take care of yourself. Recognize that you are not held to the same standards as your white counterparts. KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS. Save every email, write down everything. But always remember what the Great Beyoncé once said:

Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper

❤ Queen T

Red Table Talk: Black Women and Sexuality

 

IMG_8007Jada Pinkett Smith hosts a Facebook show every Monday with her daughter, Willow, and her mother, Adrianne. I tune in faithfully to listen to the candid conversations they have. Topics range from depression, to body insecurities, to forgiveness, to most recently, sex.  All are centered around Black womanhood. Obviously, that was the reason I was so drawn to the show. Anything that is showing Black women in a positive light, I want to know more.

IMG_8009The topic about sex, especially coming from Black women, has been viewed as deviant. We were raised to not be sexual beings, stay away from men, and to hide ourselves. Jada’s Red Table convo gave me the courage to write this piece. This is a topic I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while now. I remember dreaming up this conversation with my good friend, Tekita, a while ago on the phone while we were at work. This conversation is so taboo, that one of my former white female coworkers made up a lie and told my supervisors that I was having a conversation about sex in general, in my office. She turned an educational conversation that I was having in my private office with a friend into a shameful, lie-filled story. So, thanks to her, I decided not to write about the topic on my blog.

But I no longer feel scared to hide. Jada, Willow, and Adrianne (although they can talk about what they want because they are rich and nobody can withhold opportunities from them like they could me) had a very in depth conversation looking at sexuality as Black women from three different standpoints and generations. Below is what I was discussing with Tekita. It is my hope that you take this and be comfortable with yourself and understand that there is nothing wrong with you.

Black women’s sexuality in slavery: During the times of slavery in America, Black women have been the most targeted people. Slave owners beat their husbands and brothers in front of them to break the Black man down. To show that he was weak in front of the family. This actually is why there are some strain between Black men and women in the households or why some or absent from households today. Anyway, Black women have been victims of rape and sexual exploitation at the hands of the people who enslaved them. Because they were considered property, they had no rights so resisting was a death sentence or worse. White women blamed Black women for their husbands raping them. Black women were responsible for birthing children to increase the cash flow for their owners. From the beginning, we’ve been told how to behave and denied the choice of having our bodies to ourselves.

IMG_8008Growing up: In most Black households, the conversation about sexuality either doesn’t happen or it’s split between the gender norms. Most Black boys are just told “don’t get anybody pregnant and use a condom”. Black girls, however, are made to feel ashamed. Black girls can’t have boys come to the house until a certain age, they can’t wear anything too short or too tight, there is an expectation that she is to remain a virgin…forever, the list goes on. Because most of our households were like this, we were scared to have conversations about sex out loud with our friends. Some were nervous to talk about their experiences in fear of being labeled a “ho”. But only women were called those names. Guys could do whatever they wanted with whoever and no one batted an eye. Black women have to hide our bodies so we don’t attract too much attention. It’s not our job to make you feel comfortable. If you can’t control yourself because a woman has on shorts or a tight dress, that is YOUR problem. Do not blame Black women for your issues.

Body count matters: I’ve heard many guys talk about how they would never date a girl if she has had multiple partners. It is like he sees her as disposable and easily tossed around. You rarely hear women say that about men. There is an expectation that men had multiple partners. This type of rhetoric is detrimental. It’s deficit thinking. It places the blame on Black women.

Talk about experiences: One thing I wish I would have had coming up was someone to keep it real with me about sexuality. I think if I would have had honest and open conversations about it, I would have made better life choices for myself. I urge parents or those raising children to begin having these conversations. Talk about the good things, the bad things, good and bad consequences. It is important for healthy relationships. Yes, you want your children to make good decisions but it should not come at the extent of shaming Black women for having emotions. If I’m ever blessed with a child, this is what I hope to do. One of my nieces already feels slightly comfortable with me talking about her feelings. Honesty is key.

Of course, in whatever decisions you make for your life, be safe. Protect yourself. Get tested every 6-months if you are sexually active. I say this because your partner could say that you’re the only one they are with, but you never know. They could be lying most of the time lol. You have to be an advocate for your own sexual health.

Thank you Jada, Willow, and Adrianne.

❤ Queen T

Guest Writer: Tanisha King-Taylor

I am so pleased to introduce you all to my first guest writer! Tanisha King-Taylor! Tanisha is my soror and such a driven and wonderful woman. I am excited for you to get to read her piece. Without further ado…

Tanisha King-Taylor Headshot.jpg

Black girl Black girl, you just a Black girl
You pretty to be dark skinned
Black girl Black girl, you just a Black girl
You stuck up, cuz you light skinned – (black community)

Black girl Black girl we’ll never let you win
We constantly remind you of Eve’s sin – (the church)

Black girl Black girl, I see you as older
starts by laying my head on your shoulder – (any man in or outside your house)
Black girl Black girl, what’s going on with your hair
I want to touch it cuz it’s so different, but do I dare
Black girl Black girl, you just a Black girl
For everything you have, had to fight tooth and nail
All while Trying to make sure men in OUR life don’t end up in jail – (but told your skin and womanhood gives you an advantage, strength)

Black girl Black girl, try to kill your magic
They don’t know you it repels them like magnets
Black girl Black girl becomes a woman and it’s just the same
They don’t even respect me if I have fortune and fame
Black woman Black woman, you just a Black woman
That used to be a Black girl – (Serena Williams)

The intersection of my race and gender as a Black woman never separates. My experience is unique to me due to characteristics unduly placed upon me. The stereotypes; whore, angry black woman, welfare queen, are unique to me and collectively unique to us. To battle these stereotypes I often put on a cape and mask, consciously and unconsciously. I prepare for battle to fight against the stigma of the Black woman.

Often Black women are “strong” but mostly to their detriment. I’m noooot your super woman! (In my Karen voice). As I constantly allowed people to take advantage of me, in the same breath I noticed I was overexerting myself. Saying yes to everyone’s request left me depleted and not focusing on myself or my goals. My days began to fill up with my family stuff and other requests I agreed to. It got to a point where I was over- and double- booked because I had forgotten what I said yes to. At one point, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t stop crying. I cried uncontrollably for hours, literally. I was on the move so much that I hadn’t paused to rest at all which obviously impacted my emotional well-being.

I remember having emergency surgery due to an ectopic pregnancy on a Friday. I got home around dinner time and headed straight to the kitchen to make dinner. I made something simple, like oatmeal for the kids. It’s one of their favorites. But clearly, that could have waited. My husband could have cooked or we could have ordered out. But NO. I decided, fresh out of surgery, to do it anyway.

The next day, I even had the nerve to attend a Black Sorority’s screening of the movie “Annie” at a local theater! I took my oldest daughter, then regretted it because before the movie ended I was in pain. I couldn’t move too fast, actually had to walk very slowly. My friends had to tell me to sit and wait so that they could pull the car up for me.

But wait…there’s more

I remember being injured accidently, I had a cut on my left leg right above the fold of the knee which required multiple stitches. It just so happened that a week later I had a conference to attend. Often, I prep meals for my family prior to attending conferences so they can heat and eat out of convenience, that convenience though was for everyone else except me.

While still limping a day before the conference, I decided to prep the food despite my injury. I actually took it further and grilled outside. Why couldn’t I just make something else? They could have eaten pizza while I was gone. There were definitely other options. Not only did I end up tiring myself out but I got an infection in the cut. Prior to grilling, my husband cautioned me “Maybe you shouldn’t grill. Don’t worry about that”. Some of my colleagues even suggested I not go to the conference given my injury. Both suggestions, I willfully ignored. I had to be in a wheelchair through the airport and for the duration of the conference. I despised it.

It’s not our job to take care of everything, but the message has been and remains pervasive that we are supposed to. The genesis of this mentality dates back to slavery; back in the day when the master decreed that the Black woman was mentally and physically stronger than everyone else, that we are capable of enduring inordinate amounts of stress, unbreakable (in my Alicia Keys voice). That mentality has become the norm in the Black community and is expected of the Black woman, especially in the church. Therefore, embedded within Black families where the children find it okay, the spouse finds it okay and we have internalized it and believe that we are obligated to do everything and be everything to and for everyone. Not only does family depend on you, but society as a while depends on the labor of Black women. We are often the ones left to do the work in multiple spaces – church, home, office – and it has become an expectation; one we have accepted because we don’t say no.

It’s now become what’s comfortable, and that’s what it is until we choose to say otherwise. Everyone is benefitting greatly from us so we have to save ourselves, become super for us. Once you do, those that have come to expect your labor will have no choice but to accept the change. We become afraid of losing people if we say no because we often receive some level of value and worth from this service and acts of giving. It makes us feel good in a world that tears Black women down repeatedly. But at the same time it’s unhealthy for us mentally and physically.

As Black women due to this conditioning of being strong and independent, we’ve developed a savior like complex. Being a superwoman translated for me to all areas of my life, friendships, relationships etc., I noticed that it was a collective experience. I have witnessed the choices of Black women, one in particular comes to mind that I was contracted to life coach for a period of time. She was involved with a man who openly disclosed that he had a sexually transmitted disease, was an alcoholic, and he was still married even though they had been separated for years. He also couldn’t drive because he had a DUI. She was very supportive to him but it was not reciprocal. He wasn’t involved in the relationship in the way that she was there for him. He was simply using her and enjoying the fruits of her labor.

So, we had to talk about that, and I asked her “I can hear what you think of him, how high you hold him, how do you feel about you? She held him in such high regard yet he treated her so poorly. She had not chosen to set boundaries for herself in relationships and I believe she thought that because of her goodness, awesomeness, fabulousness, and all this #BlackGirlMagic we have, we just get to sprinkle it on people and they become new. But absolutely not. It doesn’t work like that.

People only do to you what you allow, and folks can only see growth and change in themselves if they do the work and make it happen. We can help and be supportive but the action is going to be their own. You being amazing and present in their life, isn’t going to do much. They will just take advantage of how awesome you are. The savior complex it seems, is very much a part of the superwoman syndrome.

So how do we stop pushing ourselves to the limit, how do we interrupt that fake super human version of ourselves?

Getting rid of the superwoman won’t be easy. That’s because we’re scared. We don’t know who we are without being the superwoman. The cape has become our point of pride because it stems from the messages that we’re getting from everyone about self-value and self-worth. Women are often praised for doing for others, conditioning us to only serve outside of ourselves. And if we stop trying to be the superwoman, we are still worried about how other women will look at us. What will they think about us? That is about perfection. Being a Black superwoman is tied not only into having a savior complex but also being perfect. But we have to be okay and comfortable in who we are and the decisions we make. We can’t be worried about other folk. They are not worried about us until they are no longer benefiting from us. It’s not our job to live for others, it’s our job to live for us! We have not chosen to embrace that enough. We have to hold back from giving so much of ourselves, in all areas of our lives.

You’re almost making a conscious decision. Not a decision to sabotage yourself, but you’re choosing not to rise too much because not everyone is rising in the same way. You are conscious of that and you don’t want to be seen. You’re not ready for that light to be on you in that way because you want everyone else to have that light too. You’re sacrificing yourself and your potential for the sake of others, and that’s not okay. Black women are the heart of society; having contributed greatly to the betterment of all. Yet, we are often unheard, invisible, dismissed and undervalued. In response to this treatment, we silenced ourselves, masked our pain then put on a cape to prove our value and worth. This has impacted our psychological and physical health. Black women are dying- dying form diseases, social ills and cause; heart disease, obesity, hypertension, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and physical violence.

How does a Black woman stay health in a society that denigrates her at every level, we are suffering in so many ways but you don’t have to. Choose you, start saying no and be a super woman for yourself, because if not you, then who?

 

 Tanisha King-Taylor is a two-time alumna of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign earning a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Social Work. She is currently a PhD Candidate in the College of Education at Illinois, researching Black women experiences of Racial and Gender Microaggressions and the relationship to the myth of the Black Superwoman or Strong Black woman. She also serves as an Adjunct Lecturer in the School of Social Work and has taught General Curriculum and Inter-group dialogue courses. She is an Author, Speaker, Consultant and Advocate. She also works with public and private agencies to facilitate diversity and inclusion training’s. Her inaugural book “Out of Battle into Freedom” was accepted into the 2017 NAACP Author Pavilion. She has been featured on WEFT 90.1 FM more than once, has appeared as a panelist on a Black Lives Matter news special which aired on WCIA 3 and is also the Democratic Nominee for Champaign County Board (she had 62% of the vote!). Most importantly, Tanisha is a wife and mother of three who desires to teach full time at a college or university while continuing to publish books and speak.

Letter to the “Jennifers” Out There

 

 

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Image from Adjust Yo Crown official Facebook Page

Dear Jennifer,

I said what I said.

Jennifer, I first want to thank you for taking the time out to check out my blog. Actually, I am unsure if you did or not but I am going to take a shot in the dark and believe that you did. You saw that my blog was marketed towards Black women and then you and your privilege felt left out, I guess. You wrote on my blog’s Facebook page and said “Why can’t it be for all women? Why the separation?” Well, Jenny, let me provide you first with some context on Black women to ease your curiosity.

You see Jenny, although I highly encourage everyone to read my blog posts and feel empowered, I chose my target audience as Black women for a reason. Black women are the most disenfranchised, disrespected, yet envied group of people in this country. Let’s take a flashback to slavery really fast. While Black women cleaned and labored to take care of you and massa’, they would return home at night and be nurturers to their children-while they still had the opportunity to be. Black women raised your children. Black women had to watch while their massa’ tried to emasculate their sons and husbands right before their eyes…while you sat and watched in amusement. Black women had to suffer in silence while their massa’ raped them and used their bodies as sexual objects. Black women had to sit and watch you abuse and disrespect their biracial children because you were jealous.

 

Jen Jen, as a white woman, you don’t have to wake up and think about being white on a daily basis because everything in this country was designed to protect you. Black men have been killed and/or sent to jail because of lies white women have told on them (rest in power to Emmett Till). You can walk on a predominantly white college campus and not have to worry about if there are spaces for you. You can give birth to a white child and the hospitals will ensure you have the best care provided for you. Black women, we bare the burden of telling the doctors what we need them to do for us and birthing the “wrong” children into the country (Patricia Hill Collins, 2000). You don’t have to think about how your race and your gender intersect on a daily basis. For example, if you get mad, no one is going to question you and label you as an angry white woman. Me, on the other hand, all I have to do is frown and I automatically have an attitude and I’m angry.

Jen, not all heroes wear capes. Black women, we are heroes. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson sent people to space using mathematics. Henrietta Lacks’ cancer cells were stolen from her in 1951 and were used to revolutionize medicine to this day. Lena Waithe won an Emmy for telling her coming out story to set a precedence of the need for Black Queer women to be represented. Black women own businesses, write books, sing, dance, and take care of everyone else all while still holding on to our crowns. We watch women like the Kardashian/Jenners and Rachel Dozal appropriate us. White women get to steal our hair styles and our vernacular, make millions off it, and Black women are still looked at as less than. Viola Davis in all her glory and Queen Mo’Nique are asking to be paid fair wages for the work that they do and still, people believe they don’t deserve it. Regular Black women like myself, are disrespected by white men in positions of power because they question our competence levels. We are told not to be sexual beings and be sexually free because society will label us as “hos, thots, runners”.  

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Writer, Producer, Actor Lena Waithe and Me
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Henrietta Lacks, Image obtained from Google Images

J, until white women are comfortable talking about intersectionality when it comes to gender and race in the conversation about feminism, then I don’t see why you believe everything has to be for “all women”. We have created our own spaces for healing so when we are in spaces for “all” people, we can make an effort to navigate them.

You see how throughout this letter I took letters from your name as if I was stripping away at your identity? That’s the same way how you tried to “All Lives Matter” the target audience of MY blog. So, again to answer your questions, “Why can’t it be for all women? Why the separation?” Black women undeniably need to be protected at all costs, and I chose to do that via my platform.

 

With love and Black Pride,

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The Editor-in-Chief of Adjust Yo Crown, a Black Woman.

Countless Times #MeToo

 

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Image retrieved from Google Images

*The following contains sensitive information regarding sexual assault*

I was going to wait until March to post this but there’s no better time than the present. 2017 was a year of countless allegations against high profile celebrities regarding sexual assault and rape. Both men and women have come forward recounting the horrifying experiences they had at the hands or words of these celebrities. I resonate with the people who were brave enough to come forward. Sexual assault and rape culture is nothing new. Its been happening since the beginning of time.

I think about how back during slavery in the U.S., Black women’s bodies were property and their owners could rape and do as they pleased with them. Or how Oprah mentioned a woman named Recy Taylor on the Golden Globes. Recy was kidnapped by 7 white men back in 1944. They took turns raping her and dropped her back off on the street like nothing happened. She saw no justice, either. We’ve all read countless articles about how it could take years for survivors to tell their story because of the fear they had of being silenced. We live in a country where men like Brock Turner can sexually assault an unconscious woman, get caught, and the justice system believing that HE was the victim and gets a slap on the wrist. We live in a world where men like Roy S. Moore can still receive votes for the Alabama Senate even though he is a pedophile. We live in a world where staple men of the Black community (Bill Cosby, Russell Simmons, and Tavis Smiley, etc.) are facing consequences of their actions for sexually assaulting women. WE LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE THE PRESIDENT HAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED WOMEN AND BRAGGED ABOUT GRABBING THEM BY THE P*SSY and is, unfortunately, still president (and unfortunately still president even outside of that). We live in a world where regular women, like myself, have been victims of sexual assault and abuse multiple times over their lifetime and have had to stay silent for the sake of protecting image. But no more.

I want to first thank Tarana Burke. Tarana is the founder of the #MeToo Campaign that has since taken off with people coming forward about the sexaul assault they experienced.

Before I knew what sexual assault and abuse was, I was a victim of it. When I was younger, I used to dread going on family trips to visit my dad’s side of the family. Not because I didn’t love them (I LOVE my dad’s side of the family so much), but because I was fearful of one of my male cousins. My cousin was a few years older than me and it was always weird that he even knew what he was doing at such a young age. Some summers, my brother and I would have to stay down there for a few weeks and I would die a little inside because I knew what was going to happen to me. When the adults would leave, I would sit in one of my cousin’s old room (she was older than me and in college already so she was never home) and play by myself. My brother would be with my guy cousins hanging out. But at least a few times a day, the cousin I dreaded, would come in the room and touch me inappropriately. I remember vaguely him touching on my developing breast and between my legs and trying to kiss me. I knew it felt wrong and I cried often about it. I don’t know when I got the courage but I finally told my dad. Once I told, the touching stopped. But even when we would go back down there, I couldn’t even look at him. I haven’t seen him in years but even as a adult, I still get a knot in my stomach when I see him. That experience had a major effect on how I view sexuality and my own sexuality. I felt nasty and uneasy because not only did I know it was wrong that he was touching me, I definitely knew it was wrong because…you know, we were first cousins.

I really debated with myself about if I should share that story. My biggest fear is the backlash I might receive from my family. I’m scared that they won’t believe me and I’m scared that I might cause some friction. That is not my intent. My purpose is to shed light on the epidemic that is sexual abuse/rape culture/harassment etc…especially in Black families. I’ve heard numerous stories from other Black women who were sexually abused as young girls by close friends of the family or an aunt’s husband and were too scared to tell anyone for fear of not being believed. Or fear that their abuser will hurt them more.

As a maturing woman, I can’t count how many times a man has approached me in a public setting and touched me without consent. How they felt the need to place their hand on my thigh and then have the audacity to call me a “bitch” after I ask him to remove his hand from MY thigh. “Why can’t I touch you?” they ask, “Because it’s MY body. So, stop touching me.” ‘Well f*ck you then, bitch.” Are men raised to feel entitled to a woman’s body? Like, we OWE them something for being a man?

There was a time in college when I was in a situation with a guy and though I was alone with him, I didn’t consent to him having sex with me. And when I told him to get off me and stop, he looked at me like I was crazy. Or just a few weeks ago, a guy told me that I “owed him some” sex. like , excuse me?

During an interview with my favorite morning shows, ‘The Breakfast Club’, Rick Ross said that he won’t hire a woman to work for him because he would have to have sex with her because that’s the kind of man he is. He’s spending all this money on them for photoshoots and whatever else comes with the business so he has to have sex with them.  I engaged in a conversation with some other guys about it and was shocked to see that some of them were defending Ross’ comments by saying he is protecting himself by not hiring these women. He’s protecting himself from allegations of sexual assault. I called BS on that. So, just because a man is spending money on a woman, it is expected that she has sex with him? A man could just be human enough to work with a woman and not try to have sex with her.

This type of behavior is ingrained in our culture. I offer 3 ways we can start making changes, now.

  1. We need to start teaching our children (not just boys, girls, too) about consent and rape culture. We pass it off as if it’s not a big deal and ultimately the victim gets blamed. When your sitting your children down to talk about sex and STDs, talk about sexual assault, too.
  2. Unlearn. Unlearn everything you thought was “cool” growing up. Grabbing butts, cat-calling, taking off the condom without permission, etc.
  3. Check your friends. If you see your friends engaging in such behavior, check them and tell them what they’re doing is wrong. If they’re really your friend, they’ll know you’re speaking to them out of love and respect for the person they may be harassing.

Like Oprah said at the Golden Globes this past Sunday, “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool you have.” Speak your truth. Our society wants us to stay silent. That’s how systematic oppression works.

In March, I am hoping to dedicate my blog to those of you who want to share your story. If you want to share your story, complete this google doc link Time’s Up! Share Your Story . Using your name is optional, only if you are comfortable doing so. I would be honored to help give you a platform to share your story right here on this blog. Time’s Up! We will no longer stand for this.

sexual assault hotline is 24/7 –

1-800-656-4673 (via Google).

❤ Queen T