Self Care in Color

A few weeks ago, I attended a virtual self-care retreat for Black women (how cool is that!) It was an amazing experience. The only drawback, the daily videos were scheduled 8 am eastern time, which meant I had to be up by 5 am Pacific. Of course, it wasn’t that difficult for me to get up.  I have a toddler. Those with small children know kids are usually breathing in your face at the crack of dawn. So, I was semi-awake for this inspiring event.

I enjoyed all the guest speakers, but especially the conversations on what is self-care (Tara Pringle Jeffersonand Black motherhood and self-care (Danielle Faust).

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Bloom Beautifully Self-Care Box

Jefferson talked about the importance of thinking deeper about self-care practices. The rhetoric tends to be go get a manicure or go to the spa, and all will be well. Jefferson encouraged Black women to take a more holistic approach. It could mean getting rid of toxic people in our lives. Or cutting out destructive habits (overextending ourselves, smoking) etc.

Faust discussed the challenges of finding time for self-care, especially as  Black mothers. In/outside the Black community, there is expectation of Black women sacrificing themselves for everyone else. The pressures triple, once we have children. We are raising Black children in an anti-black world. We have to protect our children differently than non-Black mothers. How can Black mothers indulge in self-care without feeling guilty or judged?

Recently, I celebrated my birthday. A good friend gave me a gift card to one of my favorite stores. I had to force myself not to buy my son a new outfit. It was a struggle to only spend the card on myself. Honestly, I kind of failed. I did get him a t-shirt. It’s this dilemma as Black mothers of knowing it’s okay to self-indulge, sometimes.

The self-care retreat was interesting and fun. When the organizer asked about ideas for next year’s gathering, I suggested more interactive opportunities. But she did a wonderful job for her first time!

She sent a link of Black women owned businesses that include coaching, counseling, products, etc. Personally, I’ve got my eye on Jefferson’s self-care boxI will make self buy it. I will make myself buy it… 😉

Support Black businesses this holiday season!!

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Blogcation

Whew! I’ve never been so happy to see the end of summer. Usually, I dread the fall. Unlike most folks, I don’t get giddy over pumpkin anything or smothering sweaters. But between Trump’s antics, celebrity wackiness, and the tomfoolery of the weather. I am done. I’m looking forward to the new season.

I need a break. Lawd knows I do. Plus, I have some things going on these next few weeks I need to focus on.

PDX March For Black Women

I’m taking a short blogcation. If anything major happens, I might make a post. I’ll be back sometime next month! 😉

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Time to rest the fingers…Image from wocintechchat.com

 

New Year’s Giving #2

Sorry about that y’all. I’ve been a bit neglectful keeping the blog updated. Thank goodness the holidays are over. That was such a stressful time. HAPPY NEW YEAR!! (I hope you got your spoonful of black-eyed peas 🙂 Unfortunately, we are starting 2017 with the inauguration of a President who has made it clear he is anti-people of color/women (don’t be fooled by the celebrities of color who are kissing azz for their own benefit). I encompass both, so Trump will be no ally to me.

It’s more important than ever to support marginalize voices/communities, as these groups will not be able to look to the new administration to align with those who aren’t  white, male, and wealthy.

As someone who is a big lover of DIY (Do It Yourself) culture…I urge folks to financially/promote alternative forms of media/activism, as we will need these resources to keep ourselves safe and heard these next four years.

Here are a FEW to connect with:

Black Girl Dangerous: “Amplifying The Voices of Queer & Trans People of Color.”

Black Women’s Blue Print: “Black Women’s Blueprint envisions a world where women and girls of African descent are fully empowered and where gender, race and other disparities are erased.”

Feminist Wire: “The mission of The Feminist Wire is to provide socio-political and cultural critique of anti-feminist, racist, and imperialist politics pervasive in all forms and spaces of private and public lives of individuals globally.”

Brown Recluse Zine Distro:“Zine culture is not white culture. D.I.Y. culture is not white culture. Punk is not inherently white culture. So in the spirit of resistance, in the spirit of visibility and in the spirit of celebrating our cultures and intersectionality: Brown Recluse Zine Distro.”

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The Black Girl Magic Lit Mag Horror Issue

One of my writing goals for 2016 was to do more fiction writing. I’ve been having several short stories swirling around in my head. I’ve received a lot of rejection emails. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Black Girl Magic Lit Magazine accepted one of my stories…this past summer. It was a dream come true. I tried again for their horror submissions call, but alas it was not meant to be. I’m not hurt, though. Reading some of the excerpts from the latest issue, I can tell the competition was stiff! So grab their first horror edition. It’s a great way to get some early Halloween scares in 🙂

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Black Future Month #2

When I first learned I was going to become a mother, I wondered how it would impact my work as an activist. The reality is, mothers tend to sacrifice the most of ourselves/time even if we have supportive allies in our lives. Then I came across the article “Claudia De la Cruz: Motherhood As a Part of Her Revolutionary Process.” Cruz, who identifies as Black Dominican or Afro-Caribbean, wrote about how motherhood influenced her role as a community activist. Motherhood doesn’t have to hamper one’s political goals. If anything, it can be used as a valuable tool.

It’s easy to forget the power of mothering. We live in a society that gives lip service to honoring mothers,  but only on the surface. Particularly, when it comes to mothers of color.  The Revolutionary Mothering Book Tour seeks to give space to marginalized mothers. The co-editors (Mai’a Williams, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and China Martens) have created a gofund account to support their work.

“Our goal is to raise $10,000 to create a series of events, through a national tour,  that will truly embody the legacy of radical Black feminists and move their visions forward, because marginalized mothers are at the center of a world in need of transformation. We are now so excited to bring this vital work to your communities with readings, and a national tour, where we will do not only revolutionary readings, but also motherful community events, presentations, conference panels, and interactive workshops” https://www.gofundme.com/8qqthgbc

How we raise our children. What we teach them. And the wisdom/legacies we leave for our children is an integral part of the future of communities of color. The Revolutionary Mother Book Tour aims to remind us of that.

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Revolutionary reading with my little one (“A is for activist” and “Counting on Community” By Innosanto Nagara).

 

Street Violence Against Black Women

Initially, I wasn’t going to write about the street harassment video controversy. I felt there were enough articles that summed up my feelings on the subject. But I was recently moved by blogger Carol H. Hood’s story. In her article, “I Was Taught To Be Grateful For Catcalls,” Hood eloquently writes about the specific impact of street harassment on black women. Because we occupy two identities that are degraded under white supremacy, black women are frequent targets of violence from white men/men of color.

“The truth is that women of color are disproportionately affected by street harassment — often, we’re victimized not just for being women but for being Black. I’ve had men of all races ask me to ignore harassment from Black men for the sake of Black male lives, while Black women are abused and even killed for being Black and woman.”  https://medium.com/the-archipelago/i-was-taught-to-be-grateful-for-catcalls-b37bc462d85c

There are two cases that illustrate her point. First, is the disturbing murder of Mary “Unique” Spears. Spears had politely turned down a man who asked for her phone number. The man kept harassing her until her partner intervened. It was then Spears was killed.

“According to witnesses, the man’s advances would not stop. Reportedly, when the group finally decided to leave at 2 a.m., the man grabbed Spears and hit her. Spears’ fiancé  got physically involved, and a fight broke out. That was when the stranger pulled a gun and fired into the group. Spears was reportedly hit once, and then tried to run. While she was trying to flee, that was when a bullet hit her in the head.” http://crimefeed.com/2014/10/detroit-mother-three-shot-killed-stranger-rejected-advances/

And the alarming abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither caught on surveillance video.

“Carlesha, 22, was abducted by an unknown man on Coulter Street near Greene just after 9:30 p.m. Sunday. She was returning home from visiting her godson and had gotten off a bus a few blocks away when her abductor approached her on Greene Street and pulled her down Coulter Street to his car.” http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20141105__Just_come_home.html#Yoi7AKm0uJJeec3s.99

There has been speculation Gaither’s abductor is someone who has been obsessed with her. Another man who refused to take no for an answer. I pray that this young woman is found safe.

It’s disappointing that so many men don’t take the issue of street harassment/violence against women seriously. Men are bemoaning “I can’t even say hi to a woman anymore,” while women are worried about dying/getting snatched off the street. Which issue is more important? I hate to break out the rhetoric of asking men to think about the women in their lives (mothers, daughters, sisters, etc.) and if they would want them to be stalked, harassed, or physically harmed. I’d rather go with the quote: “men should be against violence of women, not because they have mothers, sisters, etc., but because women are human beings.”

 

Photo from: 7mileradio.com
Spears and family. Photo from: 7mileradio.com
Carlesha Freeland-Gaither and puppy. Photo from: www.nydailynews.com
Carlesha Freeland-Gaither Photo from: http://www.nydailynews.com

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (2)

When I got together with fellow black women feminists, we talked about the ways people tend to think about domestic violence (DV). As one attendee stated, “Obviously if someone came at you with a bat on the first date, you would know right away they are someone to avoid.” The reality is, abusers are manipulative people. They tend to take their time (sometimes years) grooming their victims before they ever physically assault them. If it even goes that far.

The idea that all abuse is extreme, is what I call the “Lifetime Movie” syndrome. You know how in lifetime movies they tend to over dramatize everything. Not to say that it isn’t true for many women, but a lot of abuse tends to be more subtle/calculated.  Because of the “Lifetime Movie” syndrome, many people have bought into the idea that domestic violence is only “real” if a woman has visible scars.

In her article, “Domestic Violence is Not Just Physical,” Gloria Malone writes about the complexity of DV in women’s lives.  She argues that the conversations on DV has been limiting and harmful to women. “[However] these conversations are very narrow. They focus primarily on direct physical violence through a form of direct impact. Focusing the conversation on this very narrow impression of what DV/IPV is omits the different forms that DV/IPV can take which include but are not limited to emotional, economic, psychological, and sexual abuse. These forms of abuse are just as violent, hurtful, difficult to leave, and can be precursors to possible physical violence.” http://mommynoire.com/270415/domestic-violence-just-physical/

When you look at the range of abusive tactics, the majority of women have been in some type of controlling relationship. Even if the incident happened one time. There is the belief that domestic violence is a daily occurrence. If a woman has been harmed just one time, that is domestic violence.

Malone made this point with K. Michelle, a singer who has talked about abuse she has suffered.  “Recently Michelle took to her Instagram account to explain that although Memphitz did not directly punch her that she too is a survivor of domestic violence… Michelle states “I was not punched in the isolated assault and never claimed to be. But what I was, was drug across the room and smothered with a towel, loosing conscience to the point of a black out[…]and having to fight my way out the room screaming for help. I almost lost my life.” http://mommynoire.com/270415/domestic-violence-just-physical/

Michelle’s story is similar to many women who may not have been hit, but terrorized in other ways. Often times, it’s hard for women to talk about this type of abuse because people don’t take it seriously.  Michelle has been openly criticized about the incident.
The complicated matter of what constitutes abuse is something we all need to be more educated about. With over 90% of domestic violence victims women, we will have a woman in our lives (family, friend, etc.) dealing with this issue.
  • Physical abuse such as slapping, kicking, hitting, shoving, or other physical force.
  • Sexual abuse including rape, sexual assault, forced prostitution, or interfering with birth control.
  • Emotional abuse such as shouting, name-calling, humiliation, constant criticism, or harming the victim’s relationship with her or his children.
  • Psychological abuse including threats to harm the victims’ family, friends, children, co-workers, or pets, isolation, mind games, destruction of victims’ property, or stalking.
  • Economic abuse such as controlling the victim’s money, withholding money for basic needs, interfering with school or job, or damaging the victim’s credit.

Happy August!

Hey all! I thought I would do a quick check-in.

I hope the summer has been treating folks right. I’ve had several ups and downs, so far, but keep pushing ahead :O/

If you’ve been watching/reading the news, I’m sure you have heard about a few police abuse cases that have happened in the black community.  It just goes to show that racism doesn’t stop because the sun is shining. Sometimes it exacerbates it.

Police brutality is nothing new in the black community. As a matter of fact, it has been argued that current policing polices, came out of slavery. First starting with the role of the overseer, and later slave patrols.

“The use of patrols to capture runaway slaves was one of the precursors of formal police forces, especially in the South. This disastrous legacy persisted as an element of the police role even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In some cases, police harassment simply meant people of African descent were more likely to be stopped and questioned by the police, while at the other extreme, they have suffered beatings, and even murder, at the hands of White police.” http://www.plsonline.eku.edu/insidelook/brief-history-slavery-and-origins-american-policing

If you don’t know about the murder of Eric Garner, do a Goggle search..NOW. The police’s unnecessary violence against Garner (who himself had stopped a fight between two people), started a heat wave of a blatant anti-black agenda by the police.  After the Garner case, a video surfaced of a white police office viciously beating a 59-year-old grandmother. Like Garner, her offense was not on a level to constitute such brutality.  Next, came another account of police using the same method that killed Garner, the banned chokehold on a pregnant black woman.  And just recently, a black woman was dragged, pulled and pushed half-naked out of her apartment. Her offense. Nothing. The police had broken into the wrong home.

In the article, ‘Mistaken Identity,’ The Violent Un-Gendering of Black Women, and the NYPD,’ it discussed the hostility exhibited by the police against the black community. It also touched on how neither gender or even age, protects black folks. Black women, children, and the elderly are routinely beaten, sprayed with mace, or shot.

“The speaker on the video’s question “Where the female cops?” belies how the cops are in our heads. We don’t question their necessity even as they are brutalizing us in the hallways of our apartments. The question should always be “Why are you here?” We must train ourselves to ask it. More black police officers, more women cops will not alter the fact that policing is oppressive.” http://www.usprisonculture.com/blog/2014/08/04/mistaken-identity-the-violent-un-gendering-of-black-women-and-the-nypd/

Stay safe out there, y’all. I will officially be back in September!

Summer Eats/Drinks #1

As y’all know, I love collecting recipes. Whether I actually get around to making the yummy treats, is another thing.  Like most folks these days, I am on the go.  However, I am going to make an effort to kick out a dish or two.  This past Saturday marked the first official day of summer. What better time to try out fun recipes for upcoming late night socials, BBQs, etc.

This week I am dedicating the blog to some of the recipes I have collected. Get ready to grub!   😉

Besides collecting recipes, I also enjoy watching the Food Network.  I don’t have cable, so I have to catch up on the latest episodes on Hulu. The thing I have noticed about these shows, is the lack of Black women on them. Particularly, food competitions. The Black women contenders are usually weeded out during auditions. If they do make it through, they are shown as incompetent or the angry black woman stereotype.

This fascinates me, because the majority of black women I know are creative in the kitchen.  I think about my mom, grandmas, and aunties who could throw a meal together in a minute. Also, this country exploited the African woman’s knowledge of cooking, baking, and spices during slavery. It was the hard labor of black women that kept white families feed, at the expense of their own families.

It’s bizarre we are shown not even knowing how to handle a fork.

The fact these shows don’t feature many black women, is why I love finding blogs where black women are displaying their culinary skills.  One of my favorite black women food bloggers, actually focuses on cocktails. Whiskeysoaked is a mouth-watering inducing blog:

“Whiskeysoaked is everything you want to know about whiskey in one place. Here you’ll find whiskey reviews, cocktail recipes and other fun things.” http://whiskeysoaked.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/hello-world/

The blogger has started to make videos of the cocktails she mixes up. Check out this video where she makes a delicious Lavender Whiskey Sour.

  A great drink to put on your summer recipe list (if you grown)  🙂

Black Feminist Film School Fellowship Fund

I love interesting DIY (Do It Yourself) crowdfunding projects.  I came across the Black Feminist Film School Fellowship Fund on Facebook. They are so close to their goal. Support if you can 🙂

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“The answer, the vision, the liberation. Black Feminist Film School is an initiation journey that will transform all involved toward love and light. I invite you to join in and support in the ways that make sense for you….Black Feminist Film School Summer Session (bffs Summer Session) will take place June – August 2014. We will be focusing on building skill and practice as Black Feminist storytellers using the filmmaking medium and accompanying art forms. Within the three month session we will cover all phases of filmmaking including research and writing, pre-production, production and post-production.” http://www.alexispauline.com/apgblog/cause-view/support-the-black-feminist-film-school-fellowship-fund/

I have a lot of respect for Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs. She’s an amazing young artist/organizer/radical activist. She is also a fellow zinester.  I have the SPEAK! CD that she and fellow women of color zinesters created a few years ago.   It should be added to folks DIY collection. Check out this great interview with Dr. Gumbs: