What’s My Name?

Rasha, Tasha, Ratasha, Russian, Soviet Union, these are all of the names that I have been called over the years. As a child I absolutely hated my name. I would often ask my mom why the heck she named me that and her response was always the same.”Your dad named you, I wanted to name you Ayanna.” I am glad she didn’t because my childhood bully was named Ayanna and that may have made it worse. Anywho that’s another blog for another day.

I was made fun of just as most kids were. I made it easy by walking around as Rhasha Halliburton. So I was Russian Hamburger and in my adult years I was ‘oh like the Texas rich money Halliburtons? ‘No like my daddy and momma are in social work and live in Indiana. As I left high school and started at a local community college kids started to tell me how cool my name was. There was a family friend who said the “S” like a “J” and made it sound really exotic and when I met my friend Mikel ( now husband) he told me how much he loved my name. He said he wanted to name his youngest daughter Rhasha but her mom didn’t like it.

My marriage and travels led me to Columbus, OH where everyone loved my name and always complimented me on it. Then I started getting the question about where my Dad found this name and what did it mean. I started to realize my name was dope as hell! Matter of fact I started realizing my name is just like me, different, uncommon, and my husband’s word exotic. I don’t think like most people. I am kind of weird and strange. My name fits me.

Whenever someone tells me that they love my name I text my dad and tell him thanks. It took me thirty years to appreciate the precious name he gave me as a baby. Now at almost forty my name has been said on the radio; once on a national show. My name is on a published book, and my last daughter was praised on a news show for her name, Ana Hoosier. Just like my dad I think her name fits her. I gave it to her because my Great Grandmothers name was Anabelle and she was so sweet and her skin was beautiful. Ana is not sweet at all but she is proud that her name means something.

It’s funny I always wanted to be named April, or Amber. I am sure there are MANY of those in the world, but so far I have only found two Rhasha’s with the same spelling as mine and I hope they are as proud of their name as I am, thanks Daddy.

Fly

It’s often said that as parents we raise our children and after raising them we are to let them fly. They don’t tell you that’s easier said than done. For some it’s losing control over their children. For others it’s the need to keep their children close to them. For me it’s very simple-fear. The fear of my daughter being hurt by those who don’t love her. The horror of some evil person trying to extinguish the great light that is inside of her. I even worried about her choosing her first post college apartment. And Oh Lord how will she pay for a house full of furniture? And what about her fifth roomate? Here we go again…

This weekend God showed me that as much as I love my sweet Brittany, he loves her more. I was able to spend the weekend with her. Brittany is living out not only his plan for her life, but her plan. She has said she would be a teacher since I can remember. So last week she began her journey as a 2nd grade teacher in her new city Houston, TX. She decorated her classroom and had her lesson plans all together. She found a very nice luxury apartment in a sprawling neighborhood with trails and beautiful trees. She has a couch, a dining room table, dishes, and all of her needs. We were so happy to purchase her a bed and a lamp to complete her list. Brit has her stuff together and I quickly learned this is no longer my college student. 

She has a reliable vehicle that she looks so cute driving. Her backseat is full of items for her classroom and a couple of Brittany spills. I guess driving while eating breakfast is harder than she thought. Brit is not a kid to miss any meals. She lives close to work and church. She is excited about joining a small group within her church community. I was able to visit her church on Sunday and enjoyed myself. 

My baby even has her own group of friends. Some of them are friends from Ball State where she attended school. Some are teachers who mentored her when she was student teaching. They have been like a small family. They have helped her along her path, helped her with home furnishings and showed her the ropes about what areas of town to stay away from. 

My little premature baby girl who weighed 4 pounds 9 ounces and had to live in an incubator for weeks is now a 22 year old teacher. The kids call her Ms. Hoosier. This is my Britsy who had a rare cancer at age 6 and went through almost a year of chemo and radiation. She is now a working tax paying real job having adult. I respect her vision. I have always supported her goals. I have her back the same way my mom always has mine. So after the 4 hour drive from Houston to Dallas I rested and slept like a baby. God has her in his arms. I am gonna stand back for a second…until I find her a husband and have some grandbabies. But for now I am going to let this beautiful bird fly.  

  
   
  

Hidden Figures & Fences

*Summary no spoilers*

Believe it or not these are two different movies. Even though the Golden Globes red carpet interviewers didn’t seem to notice. There were some similarities, for instance both movies had stellar performances by black actors. Hidden Figures and Fences had great storylines and invoked emotion. They were both nominated for Golden Globe Awards. But they are two different films. I enjoyed them both for different reasons.

First you must know that I am sick of slave movies. Yes I said it. I am very aware of our ugly, gruesome history and how we arrived to this country. I know all about Harriet Tubman and the slaves she led to freedom. I have seen Django and didn’t enjoy it at all. I have no desire to see twelves years or thirteen years or still a slave. I know the narrative all to well.

What I didn’t know about was the story of the three black woman who worked for NASA. I don’t want this blog to be a spoiler I want it to entice you to go and see these movies. Hidden Figures tells the story of three math and science geniuses. Katherine Johnson (Taraji Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) were the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history. Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer and the brilliant Taraji Henson (who I love seeing outside of her ‘ round the way girl role) were wonderful at bringing this story to life.

The movie filled me up with so much pride. I thought about all of the little black STEM girls. I thought of the assets those woman were to NASA. Not just the three men portrayed in the movie but all of the women in the “colored” computing department. When John Glen went to the moon he did so because of my sistas. My beautiful, intelligent wonderful sistas. The movie was phenomenal and I can’t wait to take 5 girls from the YWCA to see it this weekend.

Fences was also very good and the actors did a wonderful job of bringing August Wilson’s play to the screen. Denzel Washington who is not my favorite actor in the word was outstanding. The chemistry between Washington and Viola Davis was red hot. Fences is about a poor man named Troy Maxson (Washington) who worked as a garbage man. He takes care of his wife Rose (Davis), and his sons Lyons and Cory. The oldest son Lyons is a musician who thinks his dad’s line of work is beneath him. The youngest son Cory has dreams of playing football. His dad thinks he should learn a trade and be more sensible. The movie shows how the mistakes of the father led to the way he raised his son. He ruled with tough love but still love no doubt.

Viola Davis is quickly becoming my favorite actress period. Her body of work thus far is epic and this film is no different. Denzel also continues to show us why we need to put some “ Respeck” on his name.

Both films were excellent. One showed the brilliance that comes from a love for learning and the other the tumultuous relationship between the father and son as he transforms from boy to man. Both made you proud and left you wanting to know the stories behind the films. The settings were different. But what both of these films shared was my head being held high as I left the theatre. The warmth that came over me seeing all the black girl magic that Hidden Figures was laced with. The great passion and fire that exudes through both Washington and Davis in Fences. I advise you to go see both movies as soon as you can and tell me how they make you feel.


  
  

MAD 

imageI am still vibing to Solange’s new album, A Seat at the Table that came out late summer. I was never a huge Solange fan. I always saw her as a pretty girl with a few cute songs. I enjoyed her song, “ I Decided” and fan favorite “ Tony”. What mystified me was her personality. I love the chill bohemian black panther hippie chick that she seems to be. She’s a fighter; protector of her sister and child. Everything I admire in a person and some of what I am made of. I enjoy most of the songs on her album and I have already done a review of her song “Cranes in the Sky”.

Instead of doing a review of the album in its entirety I wanted to review those songs that speak directly to me. “Mad” was another stand out for me. In this uptempo song she talks about the obvious; things that make her mad. The hook asks why you always gotta be mad. Her response is I got a lot to be mad about. Well let me clap back cause Ms. Knowles- I feel your pain.

So let me be the mad rapper/singer and tell you why I’m mad. I am mad because we have a bigot for a president. I am mad because there are Pastors who sit in pulpits scared to tell their members the truth. I am mad that children are abused and some parents have children only to abuse them. I am mad that some women think it’s cute to see how many babies they can have to keep a man even though I’ve warned them that never works. I am mad because I lost a child in 2005 that would now be 11. I often wonder what he or she would have been like and looked like. I know one thing they would have been unconditionally loved.

I’m mad because black men are being killed by the people who are sworn to protect. When Ray Ray kills someone he goes to jail for life when Officer Wilson kills someone he gets a walk. I’m mad that pedophiles are protected within families and their victims often blamed for being abused.I’m mad that my ancestors were kidnapped by their own people, made to be slaves, freed, not really freed and now are being asked to go back to Africa.

I am mad that I have student loans in my name and my daughter’s name. I am mad that it’s hard to get rid of this pooch but when I was 25 I wore belly shirts and had six pack abs. I am mad that polygamy is a sin and not allowed in this country. Sometimes my husband pisses me off. He doesn’t dance, he’s getting old and snores all night. I can’t have another husband who is a great dancer, young and sleeps quietly.

I’m mad that education in American isn’t free; neither is healthcare. I’m mad that there are parents who don’t talk to their children and families who never eat dinner at a table. I’m angry that men can have as much sex as they want but women should play coy. I’m mad because men can get haircuts and we have to spend hours looking good only be judged. Men can walk around looking like they are about to deliver a child but we have to keep it right and tight.

It pisses me off that I can’t see Jesus nor ask him direct questions and get an audible answer.. Why the mystery with a man who is my Heavenly Father? I have many questions for him. Like why are children raped? How come I never see this vengeance that he rains upon the bad people of the world. When does karma come or does it even exist? Why are some people born and seem to be pure evil and hate like serial killers and sociopaths. Why do good people always die young?

There are many other things I’m angry about but I can’t type a ten page blog and you don’t have time to read it. Just know that just like Sista Solo said…I got a lot to be mad about.

http://youtu.be/BTqNemB6mio

     President Elect Donald Trump

I have now had five days to process the results of last Tuesday’s election. It usually takes time for me to fully process anything of this magnitude. For some people, it simply “ Is what it is”. I have never been that type of person. I always ask questions and analyze things. I love to research and find out why things happen the way they do and why people do what they do. I was in shock on Wednesday and most of Thursday. I was sad Friday and went to see a comedy that evening. Saturday I was angry. Sunday;tired. Today I am ready to get busy.

No matter what side you were on you must admit this election was polarizing. Many of us learned the true character of our friends and family and in my case, the pastor of a local church I’ve been attending. For me I really was never with either of the candidates. I would never support a bigot like Trump and it’s hard to support a woman I can’t feel look at directly in the eyes. I never fully trusted her. Still I figured she would win once Bernie was off the table. If I could wave a magic wand he would have been my choice.

I was texting and on the phone with my children Tuesday night and come 7am Wednesday I finally went to sleep.It was hard to sleep peacefully when the president elect doesn’t like my kind. I mean he doesn’t like any parts of me. He would like to defile my lady parts and he feels I am poor and live in the ghetto. Let’s start with the latter. I don’t feel poor at all. My husband makes good money as an engineer. I work with women and children and have since 2009. We just bought a home and a BMW. We are able to help our children often. We support seven children, five are currently college students. One is a teacher and one is a high school sophomore We are able to travel to France, Mexico and visit our family in the Midwest a few times a year.

He also feels like black people are lazy. This morning I woke up at 4:30am. I started my daily prayer line at 5:30 along with my husband, aunt and mother. I had a quick breakfast and now I am headed to volunteer at my former employer YWCA in Dallas, TX. I will work on a book I’m writing this afternoon. I will attend a support group I attend and a yoga class at the gym this evening and end my night with dinner and a little television. I don’t think I am lazy at all.

Donald Trump has managed to debase and devalue minorities, women, Muslims, homosexuals, veterans and handicapped people. The only group he doesn’t insult are wealthy white men. But last week he won the vote for President of the United States. Many black people want to leave this country and are making plans to do so. I am wondering why we would leave a country that we helped build. Ever researched the institution of slavery? The operating word is institution, money made off the blacks of Afrikan people.

I have always wanted to live in another country but when I decide to do that it will be of my own volition. It won’t be because some racist son of a bitch scared me away. Also where would I go? Where on earth are black people wanted? Where is the place where racism doesn’t exist?

Now that my roller coaster of emotion is complete I can take action. What is my stance. I will continue to love people of all races, all sexual orientations, religions, party affiliations, and classes. I will continue to be vocal when I see injustice and never be silent. I will exercise my right to vote especially on the local level where it counts. I will stay informed on politics secretly hoping we do away with this age old electoral college. I heard someone say that the forefathers started the electoral college, so what. The forefathers also said African Americans and Jews were 3/5 a person. Fuck the forefathers.

The change I want to see starts with me. I am not a protester rally type person. I am not a politician. What I am is a writer. I will write my officials. I will also make phone calls and make them often. I love to research so if there is something to be learned or studied I am all over it. Most of all I am a fighter. I will never stand by and allow people to hurt. The poorest black person is my brother. The pregnant and scared teenaged girl who was raped and is pregnant is my sister. Why she should she be made to have a child that is unwanted? If two men want to get married and experience the horror that is marriage let them have at it.

My opinion on Donald Trump is that he is an evil bigoted scum of the earth man. He is everything that this country was founded on, thievery, hate, and pure evil. When is the last time you saw a Native American? Trump is everything about this country coming to bite us in the ass. So what better choice for a president right? Maybe we are getting exactly what we deserve. Again I don’t know what the future holds for me or where I will end up. But at some point karma must come back to the right people. Then again maybe not, John F. Kennedy was killed and he was said to be one of America’s finest presidents, sure could use him right now.

His Hair Feels Like Mine 

Our time with President Barack Obama as our CEO is coming to an end. After 8 years of seeing a black man and his family in the White House things will now change. We will go from a classy man who seems calm at all times; to a man who seems angry and red in the face ( actually more like orange). President Obama was nowhere near perfect. Matter of fact I didn’t agree with everything he said and certainly not everything he did. But it was great to see a man I was proud to have as a president and a beautiful woman First Lady Michelle who was always by his side. 

This blog is not about politics or the issues it’s about the little boy who wanted to touch Obama’s hair to see if it felt like his. It was wonderful to have a president who reflected my skin color. I was so dang proud. So many of the values shared by the Obama’s where also shared amongst people of color. Lady Michelle’s mom had a spot in the home right there with her family. Our favorite pastime of playing basketball was reflected in our president.. All of the cute hairstyles the Obama girls wear many little black girls wore too. But what touched my heart so much was that little boy. 

His name was Jacob Philadelphia of Maryland. He was at The White House with his father who was leaving the administration as a former marine who was on the national security council. His father asked for a picture with Mr. President. The soft spoken little boy then asked President Obama if he could feel his hair and see if it’s felt like his own. President Obama’s response, “ Go ahead feel it dude.” Jacob felt it and lit up with excitement as he told onlookers that it did feel the same.  

That was one of the sweetest moments for me. Never in a million years would I have thought that one day we would celebrate a black president. Others were angry and enraged. Not those who didn’t like his policy I understand those people. There are those who hated his skin, one of the characteristic that I loved the most. I will miss the Obama’s a lot. I don’t think anyone would ever want to touch Donald Trump’s hair. Not even the kids who would be cursed to have hair like his. 

For another two months I can say my president looks like me. That gives me a good feeling in these depressing times. Salute to little Jacob Philadelphia. 

  

Cranes in the Sky

I’ve had weeks to listen to Solange’s new album A Seat at the Table. Cranes in the Sky is one of my favorites. It puts into words and melody what it feels like to be depressed. You see I have dealt with depression since age 14 due to sexual abuse at age 9, and continue to deal with it as an adult due to low self worth, guilt, and shame. The lyrics to the song could be my soundtrack.

As the song states I try to drink it away. I started drinking at age 16 but didn’t start drinking on a regular basis as a way to medicate until I was around 23 and was going through a divorce. I would drink at night to sleep and go to the local BW3’s after work each night. I began smoking weed at around 15 and use it to calm down my anxiety. I never got into a full weedhead as a teen because I was pregnant from age 16 until 20; having 3 children. I started smoking again during my marriage when I would become depressed and also smoked off and on with my husband and his friends. No matter how calm the marijuana made me feel, I would always come back to the feeling of emptiness, hopelessness, loneliness.

On the weekends my girls and I would go shopping. Sometimes I would take the money that was meant for bills and I would spend it on dresses. We would go out and I would wear those dresses to the club. Even when I was married I would often get attention from other guys and take their affection, but it was never enough…There was always something missing.

At one point I was working two jobs, I worked during the day at a restaurant and at night I worked in a fast paced, high energy environment. I tried to stay busy working to keep my mind off of the lowered feelings I had for myself. I tried to create distractions from the empty darkness I felt daily. Then at that second job I meet a man named Robert.

I was still married to my children’s dad but was seeing Robert also. I would even spend the night at Robert’s and trample back home in the morning like nothing happened. Robert treated me like I was the most beautiful girl on earth. He always told me how sexy I was. But only when we were in the bed. When I saw him at work he treated me just like he treated all the other chicks. I found out later he was sleeping with at least two of my coworkers. That meant I was sleeping with them too.

On one of my most depressed days I came home and grabbed the utility scissors and cut off all of my hair. I looked like a boy named Billy. The cut was raggedy and didn’t have any form to it. It made me feel free and I was good for a minute, but pretty soon I was in the hospital and more broken than ever.

I moved so many times but realized that no matter where I lived; I was still taking ME with ME! Atlanta, Evansville, Columbus, Dallas, no matter where I move, here I am. Eventually the sun would go down, the rain would began and I would be sad all over again.

I did anything to not have to face the depression. Like Cranes in the Sky I don’t wanna feel those metal clouds. For years I ran from my reality. I tried to take my life; sleep my life away. But one day I found someone who saw how valuable I was. I also began to see how valuable I was to God, the father.

I started attending a Healing Church called Healing Streams Word & Worship Center. What a coincidence. I started taking care of my body. I began walking and working out. I started doing yoga and unlike Solange running and riding my bike actually helped me. I started working on my mind. I started by changing my thinking. That’s the first part of recovery. I began support groups and self care classes. The dizziness I felt and the high strung energy began to dissipate.

I was in an intensive outpatient group that taught me how to deal with depression. It showed me what happens within mind and body and how to control things. Spiritually I am learning how to replace the shame and guilt with love and purpose. It’s very hard. It’s hard to unlearn something you have lived with forever. I am learning God’s plan for my life. I am volunteering and helping others who had my same story. It’s still very hard. It hurts it does feel like metal cutting through you, it’s a dark hole that seems to have no end. But I won’t give up.

I’m sorry I didn’t edit this or anything. I just don’t have the clarity to proof it. The end.

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