Tag Archives: TheBackToBlackList

Why BHM Is Still Relevant

My daughter is four. Just yesterday, we were calculating the number of states she’s visited and how it pales in comparison to the number of countries she’s traveled.  Being an expat kid afforded her opportunities and exposure most kids her age never experience, especially most black American kids.  She is, or at least she was when practiced daily, fluent in Mandarin and the colloquial language of Singlish.  Singlish-SamanthaHanna-722x500She can count in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and French. She can recognize the difference between Asian cultural nuances and people; a characteristic most adult Americans lack. (They do NOT all look alike.)  She is well versed in globalization, and is accepting, loving, and inclusive of everyone. Never has she met a stranger when it comes to other children. This is not, however, because of her exposure to multi-cultures. Her ability to engage cross-culturally is due to the foundation of her education being rooted in a love for her own culture.

A few weeks ago, we were asking questions about Ida B. Wells and President Obama in a casual conversation. She rattled off answers and was able to compare their contributions without hesitation. She ended the dialogue with the statement, “I know all about my heroes because you teach me everyday.” It was a proud moment as her mother and first educator.

She began learning of our “Heroes” as a part of her daily curriculum once she turned 14-months-old.  We would introduce her to a new hero through flash cards and teach her facts about each one.  If I was feeling ambitious, I’d couple the introduction with an activity that cemented who the hero was and what they contributed to society, not just black society, but their impact on the world. She understood the importance of offering reverence to our ancestors and the difference between our ancestors and the ancestors of our counterparts. She learned to appreciate our history, culture, beauty, and contributions at the very beginning of her educational cultivation.  This was intentional and imperative because “culture is elemental, not supplemental.”  Now, each hero serves as a reminder of her own ability and greatness. 

Whenever she feels timid about performing, we remind her of Lena Horne or Paul Robeson or Janell Monae.  When she’s frustrated by math or science, she hears encouragement from the strides of Mae Jemison, Benjamin Banneker, the creator of Mathematics, our ancestor Imhotep, or her uncle who holds a Masters in Applied Mathematics. http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/wohist.html When she’s in need of inspiration, we echo the poignant words of our legends Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, and Countee Cullen. nat_maya-angelou_52814_539_332_c1We do this so often, she understands that it’s a part of our regular exchange. During Black History Month this year, we’ll be highlighting even more living heroes like Eunique Jones and our recent contributions, so that she understands that our greatness is still relevant and being displayed. Not only does this teach her the importance of loving ourselves, it gives her the confidence to walk in any setting anywhere in the world and know that she can hold her own, while appreciating the other cultures represented; appreciation without assimilation. In every great obstacle she’ll face in her life, she’ll know that someone, someone that shares her history, lineage, and culture, has already conquered something similar, and therefore,victory is simply hers to obtain.  This is why…..image008.jpg

 

2015, The Reflection

So many thoughts as  I reflect on 2015. It was a time of heartbreak for me and many very dear to me. This year took a friend’s son, paralyzed another, a friend’s brother, my last two grandparents, and a friend from her son in the most painful way.

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The Lifeblood of Atlanta

It was a year of shifts. It shifted my entire family from one side of the world to another. It shifted my husband into entrepreneurship. It shifted family members into unemployment or underemployment. It shifted our collective paradigm from being complacent bystanders in the face of systemic injustices to being vocal advocates for social change. 

Charleston-Emanuel-AME-Church-Shooting-Victims-with-Names1It awakened our consciousness, and in many, our fears. It reminded us of the fragility of life and the devaluation thereof by many in positions of man-made power. It tested us. Some failed, but many of us found purpose in the wake of tragedies. 

Even in this, I am grateful. I am grateful that I’m still here. It means my work is not done and because I’m clear about my life’s work, I’m more focused on its execution. I’m grateful that those I know who’ve transitioned, some peacefully and others violently, are on the side of justice and are now guiding forces in our fight for it. I’m grateful that my marriage and my children, my infant son especially, survived my functional depression and state of melancholy at long stretches this year. I’m thankful that joy is still at the root of it all. I’m thankful that I have a direct line of communication with the Divine, and that I can be used as a vessel for Its work. I’m thankful that I have black friends who are aware of all that means and take pride in it, take an active role in our quest for liberation, and recognize the importance of coming together within ourselves first to heal and restore before we continue to offer our culture, traditions, and greatness to everyone else while being excluded from power by everyone else. I’m thankful for my very few white and non-black friends who get it; I mean really get it and support the fight for justice despite their inherited privilege. I’m thankful that we’ve finally found a pastor and a church that’s ’bout that life! 

Most of all, I’m thankful for the spirit of gratitude in the midst of the chaos of the world. Farewell 2015. May we all learn from your lessons so they need not be repeated; gain from your blessings, and move forward renewed and ready to face all that 2016 has to offer. 

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Fuck You and Your Simple Ass

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Guest Blogger 

All ya’ll simple, handkerchief head, funky-breath, sell-out, booty clinchin’, holes of ass that think the girl being flung like a dingy wife beater at a pick up game was deserving can suck loose shit from a straw and die!

We got rebel flag waving, third-grade level reading, squinty-eyed, slimy motherfuckas with bowl haircuts shooting up our history in a black church, and our leader, and our aunties, and our uncle, and our brother, and our grandmas,  and he gets a double Whopper with cheese. Prolly’ got fresh fries and pop. And you think the little black girl SITTING in her desk deserves a wrestling match with the Incredible Fuck because she… wait for it….decided to be a teenager and defy some shit?!Charleston-Emanuel-AME-Church-Shooting-Victims-with-Names1

Did she blow a motherfucka up?!  Was she packing weapons of mass motherfuckin’ destruction?!  Did she shoot up a fuckin’ movie theater while folks tryin’ to watch the Batman?! (Best Superhero Ever) Hell nawl! And, THAT crazy motherfucka got to walk back to his car before his peaceful arrest!

Ya’ll backwards ass motherfuckas out here believing it’s ok to suspend a black man from work because he put hands on his own damn child or that another one should go to FUCKING JAIL for some FUCKING DOGS, but this swollen motherfuckin’ rent-a-cop can body slam a sitting teenage girl in front of an entire classroom and arrest her ass for disrupting the peace.  You gotta be fuckin’ kidding me!

vick71I know kids in a classroom ain’t nothin’ nice in high school. And, some of them shits is bad as fuck.  But, this was beyond the call of duty boy scout. And, I don’t give two fucks or a bag of Flamin’ Hots about what racist ass white motherfuckas gotta say about any fucking thing. They been saying the same dog shit since they drug, maimed, raped, killed, and stole our asses to bring us here and build this whole fuckin’ country!

I’m talking to your ignant black, brown, wanna-be special-black ass!  We gotta protect our kids from motherfuckas who think they can do any fucking thing they want to them. Unless you motherfuckin’ feed a child, unless you motherfuckin’ clothe a child, unless you motherfuckin’ LOVE a child, you ain’t got right the first to put your motherfuckin’ hands on a child…unless they drop kick your ass. Then, that’s a different story.

Signed,

Motherfuckin’ Rose

 (Because sometimes civility doesn’t get the point across.) 

Freedom Papers

The Beginning of the End 

js-watch-co-reykjavik-via-hodinkeeJanuary marked nine years that my husband has worked for the same company.  I think he got a watch or something. Nine is his favorite number; his number of completion. He called it a sign, a confirmation.

For the past few years, he’s contemplated walking away from Corporate America to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. He’s started companies, (www.madalihair.com), invested, researched franchising. He even quit his job months after our first child was born citing his discontent with the monotony and lack of growth; a faithful <<insert terrifying>> move that proved to be rewarding.  The company brought him back in a global role thirty days later, which eventually led us to our wonderful life here in Singapore.

Luck of the Irish 

clifden-castle-irelandLike clockwork, when our son was born last October, he once again expressed the same discontent and desire to leave. Something about having another mouth to feed and  greater expenses ironically makes him want to quit his job. This time, the company offered him a new, but vague position in Europe.  Once our stint in Singapore is over in early summer, we could pack up and move to Ireland so that he could start an undefined role.

Let’s just say that doesn’t sit well with either of us. It isn’t the prospect of moving from the never-ending tropical weather of SE Asia to the bleak and wintry days of Dublin. (Well, it’s partly that for this Southern girl.) It isn’t just that we’d be leaving the firstDublin Marked on Map community we’ve felt a part of since we’ve been married, or the idea of not having anyone to help us with our daily tasks. Though, those are huge factors. But, it’s more the idea of being asked to blindly trust the company to create a position that will be equally challenging and fulfilling for a man whose ambition has always been greater than any fear or even logic at times.

P.S., I’m Out! 

It’s hard to work for someone else when you have your own dreams and you’re not afraid to pursue them.  Both of us have felt this way, but his desire to learn alfunny_worlds_greatest_wife_gifts_sticker-rc7f4cc7d02fc4f599597947f9aa38a0c_v9waf_8byvr_324l he could from his corporate experience and to be in a stable position to provide for his family has kept the man I love punching the proverbial clock for nearly a decade. Through every transition, from Rochester, to Clearwater, to Tampa, to Singapore, I’ve encouraged his commitment and made some sacrifices. Yet, I couldn’t hold my “World’s Greatest Wife” Award and watch him agree to take on a role they couldn’t even define for him in a country we’ve only seen in movies.

Though the lush green rolling hills of Ireland made me weep for romance in P.S., I Love You, they aren’t enough to uproot our family knowing that he’ll be discontent with the company as soon as we land. The plan to work towards a way out was implemented last quarter. He tried to be mediocre, a feat he couldn’t master. Dean Mobley just didn’t train us that way. He tried to hint at the idea of saving the company money by leaving and they dismissed everyone else on his team.  The lone ranger was offered new projects and positions instead of means to leave. The company was just not speaking exit strategy… at first.

“The bird has left the nest!” The text was as cryptic as it was unexpected. He sent the message while at dinner with his regional president. With a baby nursing on one side and a toddler pulling on the other, I had no idea what he meant…at first.

As of the end of Spring, my husband will no longer work for the company!  For the first time since he graduated, he is free to completely chart his own course and decide whether he’ll answer to anyone other than himself (and me). We have had the desire to just go anywhere we want in this world and see what happens. And, now we have the freedom to do it. spin-the-globe-wherever-it-lands-thats-where-well-go 

Up In Arms

Talitha
Feeling Full of Life

I stay woke
Like for real
It’s 3am
And I can’t sleep
Because I feel my son
Kicking and swirling
Flipping and shifting
Readying himself for this world
And, fear has me wondering
If it’d be easier for him
If he was a girl.
If he wasn’t seen
As criminal before human
As violent,
As a threat,
As a suspect,
As a target
In Wal-mart,
As a nuisance
On the BART,
As a thug
In his ‘hood-ie,
As an animal
To choke,
As a disturbance
To silence,
As a reason
To provoke
His own murder,
As a weapon
To disarm
when his arms are up
In surrender.
I wonder,
While he’s cradled in my womb,
Unseen and unheard,
As it will be until he makes his presence known
By birth and simply living,
If it’s the safest place for him.

#blackgirlspeaks #JohnCrawford #TrayvonMartin #OscarGrant #EricGarner #JordanDavis #MikeBrown

How I’m Coming to Terms With My Husband’s Mistress

In-all-the-world-there-is-noToday marks twelve years of friendship with my husband, and eleven years of dating (much more on than off that is). We began hanging around each other my last year at Florida A&M University and started dating exclusively a year to the day later when I was graduating. We have literally grown up and spent our twenties together. We look back on it now in complete disbelief honestly, because to many (even us at one point), we were the unlikely couple, “Dwayne and Whitley” from “A Different World.” But, it works, literally and figuratively.

Throughout this decade plus, we’ve had many of the normal challenges relationships engender, and some uncommon ones as well. We’ve weathered many changes and storms, and so far we’ve made it through each one stronger, wiser, and closer because of it. So far….

This past year of transitioning as wesep_26_oct_16_2007_sin_ewr_sin_us_garmin moved from the U.S. to Singapore certainly came with a few bumps in the road, but nothing we couldn’t handle, and the shift definitely showered us with more blessings than burdens. So far, in terms of our marriage, living abroad and being exposed to so many new opportunities and people has been nothing but beneficial and blissful for us. That is, until she came along.

He told me he wanted one years ago. When we were younger and discussing our dreams and goals and fantasies, he told me, in so many words, that he’d be as faithful as his ambitions and desires allowed, and that eventually he’d have to have a little something on the side. I didn’t discourage or dismiss the idea, because I wasn’t sure if I’d ever want a little something on the side myself, and I knew when we had a family, he would no longer be my only relationship focus. He could possibly need a distraction I thought.

We were striving to build something like we’d never seen and that would likely require different compromises and concessions. It was an agreement and understanding we made long before we took vows. We would never hold the other person back from whatever could bring them their full happiness and fulfillment, and neither of us would settle for unhappiness in the relationship. So, when he mentioned her a few months ago, I wasn’t as surprised by the fact that she was coming into our lives as much as I was by who she is and what she represents.

The Back Story

12016153-black-girl-speaksIn 2005, I began a company called BGS Productions, Inc. that produces my original theatrical performance Black Girl Speaks, along with a lecture series, a host of spoken word products, and a curriculum for adult and teen workshops.  The whole premise behind the company and the movement is to love your authentic self, embrace who you are fully and naturally, and heal by SPEAKing your truths in whatever form you’ve been gifted. At the debut performance, I revealed the dismissal of my relaxer and my newly shaved head to the shock of a full audience, and I’ve been echoing the power of embracing your natural beauty ever since.

My husband was and has been my most devoted supporter, companion, cheerleader, investor, mouthpiece, etc.  He has worn the banner for Black Girl Speaks at times when I was discouraged, has led projects under its umbrella successfully and fully and completely believes in its mission, purpose, and impact. Black Girl Speaks was truly our first born, and we have nurtured her together throughout our entire relationship.

Yet, it has never been my sole focus. I’ve never robbed time or attention from my family to devote to Black Girl Speaks. It’s a shared time. It’s a part of the fabric of our family. Our daughter is even a part of it. I juggle it along with the roles of wife and mother as opposed to putting one down to pick up another, (which could be why its growth has not been consistent.) I see it figuratively as a child for these reasons.

My husband, on the other hand, has to focus solely on one thing at a time.  We learned through counseling early in our marriage that men tend to be more concerned with things and are task-oriented, while women tend to be more relationship-oriented and better multi-taskers. Of course, this is generally speaking as men and women can manage both, but each gender tends to lean more towards one than the other.  My husband is certainly one of those men. He is driven by his ambition and less by relationships.

For example, I asked him recently why he worked so incessantly. I wanted to know his joy factors, his push to always do more in every facet of his life. Mine are to please God, spend quality time with my family, and to help and bring joy to others. It took a little while for him to answer because he never really thought about it, but his big payoffs were going to football games & concerts (he wants to have enough money to travel to go to any game or concert he wants anywhere in the world), and providing for his ailing mother, because “every ghetto boy wants to eventually be able to take care of his mama.” Every one of them is a task that requires his sole focus to complete.

black-man-with-two-womenI knew, if I was going to be dividing his time, attention, energy, and focus with another, I wanted it to be with one I approved of or at least could see myself in a little bit. But, this one is not what I expected at all. There have been others who were equally disappointing to both of us, and they didn’t stick around for long. This one, however, appears to be the one; the one that’ll be woven into our family and seen as respectable even. This one is the one who beckons his call at all odd hours of the night, keeps him from sleeping with and “entertaining” me, and for whom he’ll travel to devote time to on our anniversary. This is THAT ONE, ….and I’m actually happy he’s found her.

The Evolution of Thought

I didn’t like her at all at first. Everything she symbolized was in stark contrast to my personal beliefs. I found her to be superficial and self-loathing.  I thought she was needy and a poor example for my daughter. The fact that she’s Filipino was also surprising because I at least expected her to be Indian or Chinese considering our location and that’s what’s most common here. download

My feelings are evolving though. I can see now that she not only brings my husband joy and lights a passion in him that nothing else could, but she actually is a great asset to us and essential to reaching the collective goals we have. She has already broadened our network and is much more savvy than  I gave her credit for in the beginning. She actually is more a tool for convenience than detriment as I thought.

So, I’m embracing her, long weave, high maintenance, and all. I’m welcoming my husband’s mistress into our family because it would be cruel to make him choose between two fantasies; because this fantasy is actually a part of his destiny and every other one before was ripening him for this one. I am not only going to allow and tolerate her existence, but fully acknowledge and support it as he has supported every dream of mine. This is the greatest gift I could offer him on this our decade plus one anniversary.

The Gift 

Today, I am becoming an (unlikely) advocate and spokesperson for my husband’s mistress, his latest and greatest entrepreneurial venture, Madali hair extensions! (If you know me, you knew better.) 

He is a leading pioneer in this industry already as Madali is the premier hair extensions company to exclusively offer the finest quality of 100% Virgin PURE Filipino human hair.  Madali is also one of a handful of black-owned and operated companies in the beauty and hair care industry, which is comprised of mostly black consumers. (Another problem with our economics, but I digress. #TheBackToBlackList) I not only can vouch for the quality of the product and the service, but I can definitely attest to the ingenuity, passion, drive, intellect, and prowess of the company’s CEO.  

If you wear weave, you should be wearing Madali, and this is coming from the “biggest hater” as I was labeled. I realize that not all women wear weave because they hate their hair, but rather for the versatility and to add ease in the transition to embracing their natural hair. Many professional women wear weave to add ease in their corporate matriculation, because sadly, our hair can still be seen as a deterrent and threat. These women just want the ease and convenience of grooming.   In fact, the name Madali itself means “ease” in Tagalog, a language of the Philippines.

I also realized that more than any other role I play, my most important is helpmate, queen to my king. And, to be that, I must offer the most in spousal support, else I could be on the receiving or giving end of it. He needs me to support this vision, or it’ll perish. He needs me to SPEAK in its favor, or he’ll get discouraged. He needs me, and this relationship is the most important one I have, so I’m stepping up to my responsibility.

Madali has been a challenge and benefit, a risk and reward. She has tested our faith and relationship and has actually made me a better wife in the process.  I’m supporting my husband, his dream, his destiny, his vision to empower others through economics, and yes, his side chick, Madali, wholeheartedly. And, you should too! http://www.madalihair.com  logo