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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#womenwithgoals June 2018 Success Feature – Rhonda J. Lowe of BuffaLowe PR, Flagrant City + Rhonda Jane [Interview]

Screenshot-2018-6-20 June 2018

Thank you to Women With Goals for selecting and interviewing me for their June 2018 Success Feature.  Sometimes it’s hard not being recognized for you efforts and strides in your career field, mines being journalism, entertainment media and PR.  It was extremely refreshing to be highlighted and acknowledged, in addition to being able to share my experiences with others.

To view the full interview, please take a moment to visit the #WWG website here: https://women-with-goals.org/sf/rlowe/

-BuffaLowe

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

How Audre Lorde’s Uses of the Erotic Improved how I Masterbate

After returning home from BOLD’s National Gathering I spent the following week feeling deeply into the amazing power and joy of black people. BOLD, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity, is a network of Black Organizers from across the country that bases it training in political education, somatic practices, and building conections across the country. Among the most cherished experiences that I had was the lunch conversation with Adrienne Maree Brown on Pleasure Activism. “Adrienne Maree Brown is author of Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements. She is a writer, social justice facilitator, pleasure activist, healer and doula living in Detroit.”(brief bio, Adrienne Maree Brown) . Being committed in healing journey and bridging the gap of what I desire to actually embodying in my activism drew me to Adrienne and also just me wanting to fangirl over one of my favorite black femmes in this movement.Adrienne suggested, and I suggest to y’all listening to the youtube video of Audre Lordre’s Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as power. In this speech and released publication Audre speaks to a deeply powerful energy that lies within femmes that has been demonized by patriarchal society. This has been done through suppression of our erotic selves within our oppression in a dominate male world and gaze, denying us power that in many ways and times while manipulate us for men to be on the receivingof it.Audre goes on to define eroticism as “the measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos and power of our deepest feelings, it is our internal sense of satisfaction that once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire … this depth of feeling and recognizing its power and self-respect we can require no less from ourselves”.(Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic I listened to this daily at work on my break as I took brisk laps around my school. I listened to her words to inspire and affirm my commitment to growing black folks through the resources of education for our collective liberation before returning to work. I feel the importance from the students I work with of my presence mattering, but struggle within feelings of obligation of service to other areas of my job. By feeling more into those areas of discomfort while looking for the pleasure of being in the current moment has improved my sense of fulfillment. With each passing day I felt that fullness deeper, amazed by it I wondered what that pleasure would feel like sexually in relation to myself . “the erotic offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to any woman that .. Hasn’t succumbed to the belief that sensation is enough”- Audre Lorde, Uses of th Erotic: The Erotic as Power.Until this past week I used masturbation just to get myself off when experiencing sexual tension or frustration but, then I realized I had denied myself touch in a way that truly fulfills my needs. My sexual performance with partners has been more passionate in using ways that I know will best pique my own arousal in relation to heighten my partner’s experience.

Last month for the first time I used those same tricks and techniques in service of me: I played the music I like to hear, moved at the pace, rhythm that felt best to me and switched to the positions I wanted when needed accurately. I loved on myself in a way that up until then I still struggled with due to its taboo nature that was projected on to me. I still battled with shame attached to it from growing up in a conservative Christian household that ruled by sexual ignorance in hopes that would deaden any sexual exploration. For the first time I committed to being in the fullness of eroticism for me. I orgasmed from myself for the first time and felt love for myself differently, from the tender and caring lover that I had been complimented as by partners but never knew personally. I know now that this feeling was never given to me through any other person than me- that is empowering. It felt empowering to carry that joy of self into my job performance, into my creative writing process and embracing being in love with me. I felt a rare level of intimacy with myself that was both intoxicating and healing. The uses of eroticism in connection to self-love is radical AF and yet so necessary to femmes and folx across the gender spectrum just do to for ourselves, to discover more of our identity and seeing ourselves in our full dignity.

Black Girl in Om: Healing the woman I am within

I wanted to create space to speak a mini testimony of what has been a successful practice for me to manifest greatness and appreciate the greatness in my life : listening and being inspired by black women/ femmes.

Last January I was struggling to find my voice as writer, how to become an active part of the change I wanted to see in my City, and finding, loving me. For each challenge that I stumbled through somewhat blindly there was a black woman there to help guide me back on to my path.

My Writing

My dear friend and talented poet, Eve routinely sent me invites to poetry events, readings, her featured shows until I began to show. Listening to her truth spoken boldly and feeling that connection to her spiritual left me in tears many of time and inspired to honor my own truth through my voice. As our relationship grows she challenges me to improve my writing in ways I didn’t know were possible. Im so grateful of having that experience of someone in my same medium. Some months into 2017, one of my closest friends, Taylor suggested me to a mutual friend that owns a site called FlagrantCity that was looking for bloggers, which led me to Rhonda. Rhonda has provided me the creative freedom to express on a platform while also giving me advise on how to build my own brand,and I deeply grateful for this. From this experience had led me to my most recent accomplishment of being hired as a freelance writer for Vocally!

Organizing & Self Awareness

I was in awe of Shaketa’s leadership and Natasha’s strategy: their combined efforts is black girl magic to me. As I continued working with them and growing closer to them; the experience of their patience, their love, their ability to see me in my fullness in a way I had yet to see in myself was affirming for me which led me to BOLD Praxis .BOLD was an experience that shifted my inner narrative of my life. This past Friendsgiving I shared the experience of how BOLD affirmed my worth, dignity, abilities. How, in the future, I wanted to carry healing our traumas and self care through words/ art into my organizing when Linda asked if I had listened to Black Girls in Om, it was a Chicago based podcast run by black women, that centered self care – she strongly suggested that I listen to it.

Black Girls In Om

From their first episode Lauren’s soft voice over subtle instrumentals speaking BGIO’s mission: “To promote holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color, encouraging self care, self love, and self empowerment for communities of color” was an affirmation of the exact mission I have been envisioning. To the present with the episode number 30: “Intentional living with Roe of Brown Kids” .

There were several things that Roe said that resonated deeply with me. On creating a capsule wardrobe, a wardrobe that can be carried throughout the year and importance of buying quality clothing . Coming home from my experience at both Bold and Just Resisting retreat, I have come to terms within myself that I did not feel up until then worth period – Let alone luxuries of expensive clothing . After twenty four years of living in Buffalo, NY I did not own a down coat or bought good winter boots in at least five years, because I did not think I was worthy of those new things. I realized that stemmed from conditioning: my parents treated shopping as a reward and growing up in generational poverty. As an adult when I did splurge on anything self indulgent it was lingerie, something super sexy, maybe a casual thing – but never my essentials that would actually care for my body.

What Roe and Lauren spoke to about living in a limbo state is something I have been struggling within my own space. Since my breakup a year ago with my daughter’s father, I struggled financially that constantly left me questioning where my family will be each month. Now as I gain stability I’m adjusting to how to have a functional and comfortable space for a toddler and school aged child. This episode like the previous connect with me on levels that I am actively trying to unlock within myself that leaves me amazed each time. Lauren’s work with partynoire as a yoga instructor grounded in spiritual awareness and Deun’s creative works rooted deeply in spiritual gratitude strengthens me daily to continue on with my current collaborative projects with H.E.A.L and Black Magnolias.

If you have not listened to Black Girls in Om, I very much suggest that you give them a listen!

*The top two that I have on repeat currently are episode #29 and #18 (Five Challenges in Creative Entrepreneurship) and strongly advise all black women and femmes listen to #1, #13, #27 and of course the latest #30 .

On and On an’ On and On: Afro Spiritualism and black millennials

In the January Vogue Erykah Badu will be unleashing a spread that has been long fermenting among black millennials – return to Afro Spiritualism.

In the article released before the hard print, Erykah is photographed kneeling in front of her altar that is covered in crystals, gems, and idols. Her face is serene as her eyes are focused on the crystal she is holding in her hands- looking at this I can feel the connection between the two and her Goddess presence.

There is a meme of this picture sparking a conversation among Afro spiritualist Practicers, that after this January release there will be a wave of crystal toting black magic girls dabbling in spiritual practices making it 2018’s first pop culture trend. The cynical tones about this are concerning since as we all know that have a spiritual practice- that there is enough space for all who want to explore and experience new ways of connecting and spiritual awareness.

There is enough crystals, sage, palo santo, candles and rituals for every black person that’s ready to begin their spiritual practice with it. This is not an erasure of those of us who have been on this journey for a bit longer, more so highlighting that we here and are growing in numbers.

I see this more as an introduction to those who have maybe not been exposed to it or seen it presented in this way, a way that they now feel is something they can actually participate in.

It wasn’t until this past year that I began learning and incorporating more practices that center my ancestry, heightening my own appreciation of myself and my own journey. Learning more about spirituality outside of religion opened worlds of consciousness and connections that I had no idea I had been blind to.

There is a mythology in the black community about African Spiritualism – mostly stemming from Christian religions- that it is “demonic” or carries negative/ dangerous powers. I know this to be true because from my religious upbringing I was taught to never experiment with any of this. For a long time I had harbored feelings of fear and curiosity towards it, until I began to find out Afro Spiritualism truth. It journeyed over the Atlantic in Slave Ships practiced, taught, and preserved by generation to generation to find me here- the power, love, and connection felt from that can’t be compared.

Afro-Spiritualism has always been around, ready to reveal itself to those who are ready to experience it. I hope this spread does inspire people to not only talk about spiritualism but, also experience it in a beneficial way.

Cover art :Erykah Badu at home in Dallas, Texas

Photographed by Mark Borthwick, Vogue, January 2018