How I Overcame the Myth of Singleness

Soon I will be celebrating my second year of singleness! In this time I have enjoyed this opportunity of discovering parts of myself: articulating the ways in which I give and accept love, accepting my sexuality, to exploring more of my political identity. In this past year I have become enthralled with Audre Lorde- mostly due to how deeply I identify with her.

Audre Lorde, a queer black woman writer and mother of two, dissected society through her experiences in her literature. She often created terms for the systematic forces that have long gone unnamed like “mythical norms”.

“Somewhere, on the edge of consciousness, there is what I call a mythical norm, which each one of us within our hearts knows “that is not me.” In america, this norm is usually defined as white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, christian, and financially secure. It is with this mythical norm that the trappings of power reside within this society.” (Audre Lorde, sister outsider)

As a practice while I explore where my political identity lie as a feminist or womanist; both or neither- I view society through the lens of mythical norms that I encounter, seeing the intersection of my privilege and oppression.

Everyday I enter the world I am treated differently depending on what I wear, on how I speak and who is with me.Wheather I am alone or with my children, there is a stigma attached to the stares from strangers that is constant: that I am lacking or missing something since a man is not present.

In our society women’s  worth and value are linked to our relationship with men. As young girls and women we are conditioned to believe that whatever treatment we can sustain and how much labor we can give men determines our value or strength. Our worth then depends on our relationships that we have with them – as romantic partners, in the workplace, in friend circles, etc… Subconsciously in the minds of most, women are still seen and judged in this regard.

When I became pregnant at eight-teen I dealt with the prejudices that people within my religious and general community projected onto me. Since I defied the expectation of preserving myself for a man in marriage by exploring my sexuality and using my body for my own pleasure in my youth, my son was a punishment fitting of my moral crime. I internalized for a long time feelings of worthiness and dutifully responsibility attached to this identity.

Over these past two years, I since discovered the power of my self-worth and know those myths of worthlessness I had internalized are untrue. I, like everyone else have inheritable worth. I am deserving of the love I give myself and those around me. I am deserving of all those who love me. I exercise my power by asserting my wants, my need, my desires for a potential relationship and not accepting less than that. I maybe alone in single statues, but I am not lacking or lonely.

Here’s a list of a few tips that have helped me along this journey that I want to pass along to y’all :

  • Be in relationship with you : set a side time to do things that bring you joy- whether that be things you already enjoy and experiment with new things you’ve never tried before.
  • Learn your love language: do you know how you accept love that makes you feel whole ? Do you know how you enjoy giving love to others? – take the time to write that down, or discover it if you don’t know.
  • Honor your commitments : set scheduled time for self care and follow through. Care for yourself in specific ways – clean your house, tackle your insecurities, go to bed at a set time, eat and drink what will keep your body whole, healed, and healthy.

My femme singleness is just one of the many intersecting pieces of my identity. Being black, queer, a mother, and non-Monogamous add layers of confusion to the outside world. Me being something that is different from what has been defined as normal means living in a state of nothingness constantly subjected to all forms of unjust violence. I am rarely extended the protection or care from folks that are not woman, or black/ of color, or queer, or poor.

There are many folx that exist with me at the intersection of multiple identities. We empower ourselves and each other through love and affirmations. By imagining a world where we are not governed by mythical norms that oppress us and using our power to create them.

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The Sweetness of Life

Over my posting hiatus I dedicated my time to reflecting on my life’s experiences, wrote fiercely, and had the opportunity to perform in shows that aligned with my core beliefs as a queer black femme dedicated to the liberation from oppressive systems. I was literally riding this high celebrating when I was attacked and violated by a stranger. The days and now weeks that have followed since this incident have tested my abilities that I have written about in the past : loving myself and my spirituality. In the wake of the trauma I was cared for by the women and femme folk that I am blessed to call my community. This experience has inspired me to write again in a public space about the transformative power of love, survival and sisterhood.

I woke up completely sore trying to shake the feeling of a night terror that clings on after sleep. Without moving I looked at the disheveled state of my room, house then down at my body that confirmed what I had feared to be true. Still in shock, I reached out to two of my close friends one of which before leaving the club we were at the night before told me to let her know when I had made it home safe, which was not the case. At some point in my drunkness I accidentally called two more of my friends, one who called me the next day and I told her what happened. I am extremely thankful at how quickly everyone moved into action to guide me into a recovery process that I am currently still undergoing.

Over the next two weeks I spent time sharing living spaces with friends as I still felt unsafe in my apartment. Among themselves they organized their availability to when they could be present with me when I was fearful of being alone. Each friend I stayed with and supported me during this time poured their loving energy into me as I began this new phase of my healing journey. They each passed along to me essentials for thriving through healing that I had forgotten in the wake of the most recent incident.  

Natasha and Ebony reminded me of the importance and simplicity of self care and spiritual balance. They both had their own unique takeNatasha reminded me to trust and return to my body through affirmations like ‘my body is doing what it knows to keep itself safe’, taking me to the hospital, and pushing me to take time to sit and rest. Ebony reminded me the importance of my connection to nature by going on walks and spending time with me in the park. The warmth of Shaketa and Zoe’s support reminded me of the feelings of my family that I longed so much for that is absent in my life and restored that love inside of me. Jayden restored my hope of my future self, that the care I dedicate now does extend to the me of tomorrow and thereafter. Eve and Rachel reminded me that coping can be unorthodox even messy, but writing will always be healing.

‘my body is doing what it knows to keep itself safe’

So many more of my dear friends imparted their love,wisdom and magic  that has nourished my soul. They all collective came together at my home to celebrate my twenty fifth solar return. With sage, paleo santo, candles we set intentions and reclaimed my space. Before bed that night I did a separate ritual where I reflected on my life’s course. I can honestly say I love my life.I cherish the experiences I have had and am excited for my future.

Coming forward with this new chapter of my story is a struggle. Grappling with flashbacks, triggers and unhealthy habits is harder than I remembered. I get angry and frustrated with myself for not progressing at a rate I aspire to in my mind. But each day I have to accept the fact that these wounds are fresh and new – I have to be gentle with myself.

If any of this resonates with you- if you are overcoming a trauma, a hardship of any form let me remind you of this: patience is key on this journey.

Love and self compassion will restore and recharge you continually.

When fear feels larger than life itself, shrink it by connecting with someone who genuinely cares for and loves you.

You are not alone in your battle for reclaiming your birthright of a peaceful liberated life. I hope my posts will remind you of this as I recount pieces of my own journey.

The Xxxtentacion Effect [Editorial]

When I heard of the death of X, I broke my social media hiatus to see how the news was effecting everyone. I have learned from Bill Cosby, Chris Brown and R Kelly that when bad things happen to notorious abusers, black folks still weep. X like Chris, Bill and Kelly represents our relationship with black men. And Xxxtentacion dying in a drive by in broad daylight is a reminder that no matter the wealth, fame, or clout one gets does not make anyone immune from gun violence that plagues our black community. His fans and family that survived him that are currently mourning his death, I am committed into feeling more deeply with them.

I want to be clear that I by no means condone the vicious violence of this young man or am I a X sympathizer.

Xxxtentacion expressed his emotions in his music that he was unable to do in a healthy way in his interactions in his personal life. His music was his safe place where his creation released his pain and traumatic experiences that he took pride in sharing so others would not feel alone. When I look at the lyrics of Xxxtentacion’s music I understand that it is relatable to folks, young boys especially – that battle through the same emotions of feeling sadness and anger without knowing how to sort through it in a healthy way. I look to these as reminders of how much farther we have yet to go. If its not our personal relationship with unprocessed pain and emotions, it is our proximity to folks in our lives that experience it.

`Xxxtentacion music was relatable to so many folks for its emotional content.’

I work with young black boys that have similar life experiences as Xxxtentacion – mothers that feel more like older sisters, fathers that are barely existent, and grandparents, family members or foster parents that have had to take of care taker roles. I see how they let their relationship with their parents and the community that is still active in their lives shapes them into the men they are growing into. I see how their sadness that they are not allowed to feel into leads to frustration of not exploring these feelings of rejected which in turn morphs into anger that cannot be tamed.

I’m more concerned about the impact of X’s  life and the current wave of new rappers  have on our youth that look up to them as leading role models of success. Black children seeing young black men that look like their older cousins and on their social media platforms portray lives that are similar to their current day to day lives with the illusion of more money  inspire them to live their lives in the same manner.

As an adult I forget the impact that celebrities, musicians especially have on children. I grew up loving Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, and singers like that who inspired me to aim to define my own version of greatness.Today children look for the same.

It is our duty as adults to hold our youth’s idols accountable for their role they have on this new generation. Call them in more on their behaviors and call them out when their actions become problematic. X is dead, and all I have positively to say on his legacy creates a safe place for young male listeners to begin to explore their emotions. My hope is that we can let that door that has opened for boys to admit to feeling sadness and pain to us exploring more where this is coming from and introduce how to heal through their past traumas.

I am more focused on the future of our black community and how we are shaping the children that will become the leaders of that reality. I do not have the energy to imagine the possible future of Xxxtentacion  living a reformed life as a healed person in our community, I rather accept and learn from his tragic reality : X let the trauma of his childhood shape him into an unapologetically violent person which lead to his early death. He was aware of his transgressions and knew that much of it came from his troubled past which was why he felt the need to focus on the youth.

 “If worse thing comes to worst, and I f***ing die or some s*** and I’m not able to see out my dreams, I at least want to know that the kids perceived my message and were able to make something of themselves and able to take my message and use it and turn it into something positive and to at least have a good life.

 

“If I’m going to die or ever be a sacrifice, I want to make sure that my life made at least five million kids happy or they found some sort of answers or resolve in my life regardless of the negative around my name.” – Xxxtentacion, The Sun

Let us focus on raising our youth in healthy healing communities. Let’s focus on the women and femme survivors of the existing abusers in our own cities and communities- providing resources for access to safe havens, education on alternative interventions that do not require the police/law enforcement such as restorative justice and additional healing support. Let our black men work towards healing themselves and traumas while calling each other in when exhibiting toxic masculinity. This is the way we can at least begin to create our own sustainable community.

*resources :https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6566828/xxxtentacion-dead-rapper-predicted-own-death-video-miami-shooting/ 

It’s Time We Get Honest About Suicide

I am two months away from my twenty fifth birthday, and I can honestly say I didn’t think I would live to see this. I tried more than once to end my time on this earth. At those times I lost all hope . I lost myself in memories that harmed my mind and body . I lived in a state of constant fear and pain , there was no escape. I did try to pray it away, I begged God to remove the thoughts from my head that I was better off dead- yet they persisted. I tried to lose myself in pleasure that had been weaponized against me, and found myself even more empty.

The night of my first attempt was on a Sunday, my sister and father were sitting on the living room floor in front of the couch I was laying on laughing at whatever movie we were watching. I got up dazed, walked to the kitchen, opened my medicine bottle for my chronic migraines and took fistfuls until the bottle was empty. When I went back to join my family I laid down relieved that this would be my last memory and completely okay with it. I woke up to an ambulance moving my body and my sister and mother in tears. I was angry that even at dying I failed. Even when trying to bring peace to my mind I brought on more chaos and destruction. I never forgot that feeling . Or the ones that followed . The doctors telling me that I should be thankful that I had parents and a family that loved me. The children that I met while admitted in the mental health facility that had similar stories to mine and the ones who struggled with different illness of the mind . I was sixteen. I rarely cried during that stay or the one after . I did have an awakening- literally when I woke up on the third day of being admitted. That if something inside me continued to fight this hard so that I might still wake up and live to see another day then maybe I am not worthless , maybe I do actually have a purpose. Life carried on and did bring me to that . Still now I struggle with cycles of depression and anxiety. Still now do I have to remind myself of who I was when I tried to end who I am: a con man . I had built a persona of myself that my parents , Family, and community saw that was actively healing through my trauma and following through with treatment plans , I was going to graduate and go off to college and I was building myself up as a spiritual person. My inner reality was different, I punished myself for not living up to the image I made for the people around me to the point where suicide was indeed the only way out. In my mind then I rationalize that if I die now they wouldn’t have to see me for who I really was : broken and scared, dirty and worthless, sad and hopeless. Post suicidal attempt, my life had shifted from my family and people around me pushing that I follow through with my treatment to being treated like a fragile infant. I felt the pressure of living, differently and for many years after I lived in that. I didn’t know how to switch out of survivor mode to living whole .

Even after successfully processing some of my most traumatic sexual abuse, I struggled with seeing worth in myself beyond what I was capable of creating or adding to life . I felt indebted for each breathe I took, each joy I felt, each life that came into mine that dared to love me. Somewhere in repaying those “debts” for enjoying life I lost myself again to causes and people (mostly men) that were just as harmful as my suicidal bouts . I had redesigned the image of myself and was wilting away in the body of it . So when I say I appreciate and love the community I made for myself it’s because they have saved my life. They saw me for me : That I was struggling and weak And strong And Resilient. That I am worthy and dignified and still imperfect. That I am love.

When we as a country and community talk about suicide know the battle is different for each person and know that it is important to view it as such . See people that are struggling, really SEE THEM and LOVE THEM. See past their social media persona or work persona, or what have you to who they are underneath it.

I’m telling y’all from experience It’s hard when going through it to ask for help , to pick up a phone and call a loved one or anyone when your own mind has convinced you that there isn’t a person that cares or loves you. Don’t wait to hear from folx that you already know have a history or struggle with depression or mental illness. Be the love they need and see them . Offer them help with caring for themselves (grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, etc.) or take them out to do something or just sit quietly with them. Be creative about how you show up and see them in their entirety. I’m telling you that alone can save a life.

Remembering Jose

On this day one year ago Jose Hernandez-Rossy was murdered by police officer Tedesco. Jose in death was crucified by media outlets whose platform feed the city lies about who he was and the actions leading to his untimely death. Jose was driving home enjoying the final break in our temper mental Buffalo seasons when he was stopped by the police. The traffic stopped turned violent when one officer reached into Jose’s car causing him to hit a street pole. Jose attempted to leave the scene by getting out of his car to run when he was shot and killed by officer Tedesco. That day and the ones that followed the media reported that he shot a police officer (which was false), that he had a criminal record, that he was smoking weed. The local media’s stance to discredit Jose, the victim of a heinous crime, that by 2017 had played out once in this city before in the case of Meech and dozens of time across this country was an eerie reminder of how American society treats the death of men of color as criminals first before human.

I saw him as human. I saw him in the face of his daughter who still didn’t understand why her father was not returning home as he always did. I saw him as a family man in videos that his cousins’ shared on their social media as they mourned their loss of him. I hear his humanity and his loving kindness in the stories from his brother- in- law of how he helped support him and his sister’s family. I see the strength of him live on in his sister and mother as they fight through a crooked judicial system with lawyers that have other agendas yet they still hold true to their convictions for justice. I have had my heart and soul break open with his family at the place of this death, as we held direct actions and in frustrating meetings.

One particular moment that stays burned in my mind and body’s memory was the day of his memorial at the site of where he was killed. I felt my body shake with sadness, anger, and grief and overwhelmed with hurt when I looked down to see my son crying beside me. Zaire cried because he too felt the overwhelming emotion of when the immediate family came to the pole on the corner of the street where Jose’s car initially crashed and the ground felt radiant of Jose’ blood that was still visible on parts of the street. There was a sad chaos in the street when his mother cried terribly before her body gave way and the male family members had to hold on to her. When the fire department and ambulance pulled up and Zaire began to cry more I decided that it was time for us to go. He asked me why he died and who killed him in the car ride home, I told him because of the color of his skin and by officers that said they were scared of him. My voice trembled as I said this as I felt guilt for exposing this harsh reality to my children. I let it hurt just enough before remembering that taking him and Kelila to Jose’s memorial did not make me a bad parent opening my children up to trauma. I am a parent that is exposing my children to their reality before they grapple with the horrors of it on their own but now with the tool to heal from it.

Now today a year later we will come together once again to remember the life of Jose. We still hold the rage from the not guilty verdict from the AG case in our bones as we reclaim this memorial site. Our emotions are raw on this day and we honor the unspoken power of them that has fueled us this far in our collective journey. My heart is still full despite the pain and I am sending out love in these words, in prayer, and in healing vibes to the survivors of state sanctioned violence.

20 Femme Rap/ Hip Hop artists You Need to be Listening to

Spring 2018 has already blessed us with new releases from Cardi B to Nicki Minaj to our beloved Janelle Monàe who are some of the biggest female rap artists/ lyricists in the Hip Hop game currently. Beyond the debate who is more talented amoung them, the Real question is what other femmes are out killing it in this genre? And as Scandals pop up each day, I have gotten tired of  trying to figure out if its still okay to listen to your problematic fave, so I ‘ve composed a list of some talented femme MCs out that are perfect for your spring to summer playlist!

Nitty Scott

New York City native, Nitty Scott is an Afro – Latina rapper / poet that infuses her cultural identity in the sound of her music. She uses her lyrics to promote femme empowerment using a fun sound you can’t help but move to. Listen Here!

Princess Nokia

Afro Latina rapper Princess Nokia has an underground cult following of her unique style that incorportates alternative music scene with hip hop. In her music she tells the stories of her youth and praises black women across the diaspora with catchy hooks. Give her latest EP a listen !

Cam & China

Cam & China are a black american femme duo that make what can best be described as femme trap. These two spit rhymes that validate black femmes and we can relate to that while incorporating the sounds we have all grown to love in trap. Give them a listen Here!

Junglepussy

Another New York City native on the list!  This sex positive femme raps about femme empowerment and self love for black women in lyrics that are as smooth as the beats she gives us to bounce our asses to. Listen to her latest single Trader Joe!

BbyMutha

BbyMutha is a Mother of four that does not let that piece of her idenity police her content of her artistry. She puts her experinces as a baby mother in her music that vaildates so many women like herself (myself included!) Don’t let that fool you though! She does not shy away from  speaking on  her sexuality explicitly  in her lyricism. Give her a Listen !

Sydanie

Mother and Tornoto native mixes Grunge sounds into her own style of reggeaton / hip hop. Her lyrical content reflect her experiences of being a black femme in the Black Diaspora and her feels that move her into her activism. Listen to her latest single Flirt!

DonMonique

DonMonique has already began to expand beyond her base and brand as a black fem trap rapper. With popular hits like “Pilates” and “Drown” DonMonique is the music will make you feel an even badder b*tch. Listen to her latest single 30 Block!

HopHop

Alabama native based out of Buffalo, NY Hop Hop uses classic Hip Hop flows for her new wave sound. Her music range from fun storytelling to addressing topics of racial tension, politics, and femme empowerment. Check out her latest single Scratch!

iRawniQ

This LA based raper puts the rawness of queerness into music by addressing sexuality and gender with iRawniQ unique sound of electro- Hip Hop. Listen Here!

Noname

Chi town native, Noname has gotten her acclaim in the local scene in beyond for her melodic voice and flow. Noname gives the perfect narrative for the bittersweet black experiences and the feels encompassing this, Give her listen Here!

Dreezy

Chicago native Dreezy has been holding down the hip hop scene with her confidence that drips all through her music. Her east coast flow and lyrics with some of the most enjoyable punchlines make for a great listen. Listen to Here!

Rico Nasty

D.C native Rico Nasty is a High energy freestyle/ rapper that has dubbed her own sound as sugar trap. In her music she incorporates her bold persona with 90’s pop culture and unapologetic blackness. Listen to her latest single Hit That !

Big Freedia

Although she is not new, I had to do an honoray mention to this Queen. Big Freedia reps New Orlean’s Bounce Music scene, a sub-genre composed of queer black folks that were not accepted into the Hip Hop community because of their idenity. Bounce fuses traditional rap with adlibs and House music to create this iconic sound that has made brief appearences in mainstream music (Beyonce Formation & Drake’s Nice for what ).Listen to her latest single Rent !

Kari Faux

“The hottest thing out of Little Rock” LA based rapper Kari Faux’s sweet voice over R&b and 90’s inspired beats is a vibe of its own. Her relatable lyrics about dating and millienial life will make you laugh and her music enjoyable, Listen Here.

Angel Haze

New York rapper Angel Haze uses her poetic experience in her music with her lyrics that encourage femme unity / empowerment with a rawness that will leave you reeling. Listen to her Here !

Audra the rapper

Self described as soulful ratchet uses electro sounds and hip hop beats in her high energy sound. Listen to her Here!

CupcakKe

Known by most for vuglarity, CupcakKe is a dymanic MC from Chi town that has made her rise to fame by her unapologetic reclaiming black sexuality. With hits like “Deep Throat” to  “Pedophile” CupcakKe uses her platform to normalize sexual positive for femmes while also highlight the sexual voilence in our communities. Listen to her latest single Quiz!

Leikeli47

This femme leaves much of herself to her listeners imagination , Leikeli47 use fun hooks and lyrics over different sounds that are great to hype yourself up with. Listen to her Music here!

Dai Burger

Another great turn up artists uses R&B/ pop music sounds into her music with lyrics that highlight femme experiences in high energy fun delivery. Listen Here!

Kamaiyah

Unapologetic femme rapper spits lyrics about being open sexually and being proud of her identity in her music that is also great to pregame and turn up to. Listen Here !

MaDamn Noire Reclaims the ‘Angry Black Woman’

On March 31st at the closing ceremony for FREE AGENT, MaDamn Noire strolled up to the stage with a white Barbie doll on a leash in tow. I was eager for the performance as I already knew that it would be the representation of MaDamn Noire frustration of whiteness. In preparation MaDamn Noire , Obsidian, Curtis Luvell, and I held a ritualistic ceremony where each of us gave a blessing over MaDamn Noire and her performance. I’ve come to love and cherish my relationship with each of these beauitful black femmes, we poured that love over her as a reminder that her life long dance career aligned with her knowing her fullness in her idenity that she was more than ready for this. It was scared, intimate and healing space that we held just for ourselves among the others preparing for the show.

As the music started so did she, MaDamn Noire was the embodiment of the rage black women feel and the liberation from letting it free not afraid of who may see. On the stage she moved fiercely with a sexiness that felt natural to the raw anger energy. Over the music and the crowd roaring their delight of consuming her vibrant dancing, her body screamed its disgust from the treatment that white folks have put her through. Challenging major Grace Jones vibes she bites then spit out the head of the Barbie in the face of a woman in the front row that sent the crowd into a louder uproar. In that moment my heart swelled with pride for her boldness and it ached for her sacrifice she had made performing this in a predominately white space.

Black folks in the audience knew that with each twirl MaDamn Noire swung that Barbie above her head represented what she really wanted to do after every unwarranted hair grab by a white woman that just wanted to feel it. Black folks knew that with each shake she gave that Barbie was for each time she was harassed by a white coworker that went unnoticed, for each condescending comment made to her face and every stereotype that had been nailed to her back. She danced for every slight and large injustice, mircoagression, and hidden racism that black femmes face daily that looks at us with thin lipped smiles and eyes that willingly go blind to black violence. She danced to communicate that we will not idly play along with your games. We will not entertain without forcing you to see what you have done to me, to my people, and our collective ancestors. We will disrupt all aspects to your lily lives as ours has been until you work to correct the harm that we are currently in.

She trotted off the stage and out the door giving the perfect end to the event. I felt joy of her releasing so much of the pain we suffer through, I felt her soul being free as she let her artistry channel who she was physically. I felt healed watching her reclaim what I had been told until now was some far off mythology of liberated black femme sexuality.

Photo cred. @pjeightyeight/instagram.com