My Everyday Racism; MSN Town Hall Meeting

Yesterday I had the displeasure of watching MSN’s Everyday Racism; Town Hall Meeting. The meeting wasn’t bad or inaccurate, it just angered me. I don’t need anything else to bring out my rage, intolerance and hopelessness regarding systemic, institutional racism. But as much as the conversation brought out emotions, it also made me think deeply and reflect. One topic was about the things that we as black people do to not rattle, scare or make the white folks uncomfortable. I started to think back…far back into my twenties and thirties.

I worried about what white people thought at all times. I worried that if I took too many samples in Sam’s Club or Cub’s, I would look broke and hungry. I loved the different colors that could spice up my hair, but I would only do dark reds that you only see in the sun. I didn’t want to be the “ghetto black girl” with the orange, purple or blue hair. When I would speak, instead of speaking the King’s English the way my voice comes out of my mouth, I would talk one octave higher and sharpen my words.

As I moved into the workplace, I would never speak up for myself. To add insult to injury, my self esteem was very low. Instead of having opinions in performance reviews; I would do passive aggressive things like talk to the other black women about our white supervisors. I would perform the way I thought they wanted me to perform, and my conversations were geared toward the topic that interests them. None of this made a difference in my performance reviews or paychecks.

As I entered my thirties my children’s education and getting into good universities was my focus. When my son would act up, the first thing I would address is how he’s making me look to our white neighbors, instead of addressing his actual behavior. If a white mother brought my children home, I would feel queasy when they pulled up to my home. I would prepare to be “on”. That meant discussing the things going on in their lives and pretending to care. Behind our doors we were sacrificing and working our asses off just to stay in the school district, but I’m in my driveway talking about how her husband never puts his suit jackets away.

After my children were accepted to top Universities, I told every white person I knew. And I mean EVERYONE OF THEM. My mindset was look over here at what my children have done. They succeeded and did better than your privileged children. My daughter received a full academic scholarship to The Ohio State University.

Once I turned forty, things changed drastically. My two close friends, white women( Hey Dawn and G) began to have conversations with me regarding race and privilege. We would have hour long conversations on the phone and one day out of the blue, I was told that I was fine the way I am. I was told that although I talk a lot and come into the room with lots of noise, I was loved. They said I shouldn’t be working for the approval of anyone who doesn’t have love for me, whether white or black.

These last two years I have made it a priority to be my authentic self. I do exactly what I want to do. I don’t live my life to make sure someone who gives zero thought about me is comfortable. I take samples when I want them and wear my hair however the heck I want-my life is not run by trying to fit in with my oppressors. I am a black woman ; strong, courageous, intelligent, funny and proud. I am free to be who I am with not one apology. Tomorrow morning I plan on mixing a few colors and having fun with my hair. And this weekend I’m gonna spend time with the people who love and appreciate every single part of me.

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Mother’s Day( late blog) 

  
Mother’s Day weekend is always a good time for me. Last year my mom, oldest daughter and I went to church, brunch and exchanged gifts. We had so much fun bonding and loving on each other. This year was no different, I was with my family and had a wonderful time. This year we celebrated a graduation and Mother’s Day together.

We were all in Syracuse to support, and party with my little cousin Tyler. And that we did. There were a total of fifteen family members there to celebrate. After the graduations( homie… there were two) we attended a graduation party. My cousin had control over the whole event. She didn’t really want all of us to fuss and try to help her. She had my youngest daughter as her personal assistant -which is a big deal this because child never assists with anything. The party well planned and everyone enjoyed themselves . There was spaghetti, cupcakes, cake and sliders, my favorite burgers. The spaghetti of course was from Olive Garden, the girls favorite restaurant. The place was decorated stylishly and she even gave us gifts which I didn’t want to take. We’re supposed to be giving her gifts.  

We came out in huge numbers to support Tyler and it also made me remember how important family is to me. During the visit I was able to meet Tyler’s mom’s, side of the family. I met the sisters, cousins, and aunts who were all there to show love and support. On Sunday we had dinner and all of the mothers were wishing each other a Happy Mother’s Day. We fellowshipped and laughed for hours.  

My 89 year old Nana even made the 12 hour trip to come and see her granddaughter walk across that stage. We traveled from Dallas to New York and her mom and family came from Louisville and Atlanta. Tyler’s parents haven’t been together in years but when it comes to Tyler they are family. We are Family ( queue the music).  

As we all packed up to leave and took our final bathroom breaks, we exchanged hugs. Some of us hugged each other twice. I feel like I have more friends and family after this weekend. Another cool part of this weekend was being with my youngest Ana. I must have kissed and hugged her 10 times and her Dad did the same. I was able to FaceTime with my oldest and chat with her. I talked up a storm with my middle boy; and I heard from my bonus kiddos too.  

I promise you readers, I couldn’t have prayed, asked for, or imagined a better Mother’s Day or family celebration. For all of you who graduated and had family who did, congratulations. To those who are mothers, have mothered, mentored and nurtured; Happy Mother’s Day!  

Suga Momma Goes to Syracuse 

Now in order to understand this blog you need to either watch a show called The Proud Family or have your own Suga Momma. The show was popular on Disney in the early 2000’s. It starred Kyla Pratt as the voice of the main character Penny Proud. Suga Momma was played by Jo Marie Payton who also played the Mom on a show called Family Matters. If you haven’t seen that show watch that too.

Anywho Suga Momma is the feisty grandma of the Proud’s and she doesn’t hold her tongue -EVER. She also……….. Let’s just break it down, she doesn’t give a damn and isn’t scared of anyone. Now this is the part where I talk about Nana.

Nana is feisty. This weekend while attending a graduation at Syracuse University ; I tried to hold her 89 year old hand and help her up three sets of stairs. She shooed my hand away. Her response was and I quote, “ I know how to and I can walk.”

Nana doesn’t hold her tongue, EVER! She was getting restless so I told her we could walk around for a while. I’m sorry I can’t tell her nothin’. I asked her if she wanted to walk around. Outside of the stadium there are no seats anywhere. So we were trying to find place to rest after taking a stroll to the concession stand. Nana flagged down three police officers and explained to them that they needed to find some seats for the elderly. When they provided their explanation, she walked away before they could finish thus leaving me to look like a fool.

You know what’s next? Nana doesn’t give a DAMN. We were at the graduation party and she said she needed something. I said oh what do you need, to use the restroom? She shook her head. I said do you need to go to sleep?. She shook her head. I asked if she needed food. She said I again quote, “ I need a glass of red wine.” And of course me being the dutiful granddaughter I found her a nice merlot.

If I told you anymore stories this blog would go on for two days. I adore my Nana.I mean she is my favorite person in the entire world. She can be a feisty, fussy, hot mess but she helped me to become the woman I am. This blog is part of her always debating me and showing me how to speak my truth and challenge others. I may have been called a feisty firecracker a few times. I am working on my filter and I keep folks around me who will hold me accountable. My children, my friends & family are good at it.

Although Nana is a trip, she fiercely loves her family. She has helped me with my children and helped raise my youngest daughter from a newborn. Now my daughter at age 21 is able to take care of her. She has helped us financially even as she was retiring. Once she placed $300 in my hand and walked away. Nana is 89 years old and has all of her mind; her faculties are in check. She is in good health and she would slap me if she knew I wrote this blog so please don’t tell anyone. Shhhhhhhh

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Graduation Season 

Last weekend had to be one of the best times of my life. My lil cousin who is more like my niece, graduated from Syracuse University. She is the second of her cousins who have graduated college. My daughter graduated from Ball State in 2016 and is now teaching fourth grade. But this ain’t about her.

My little cousin Tyler was always quiet and you never knew what she was thinking. Even as a child, she had multiple talents. I first noticed her acting skills and she played roles in pretend stories. Tyler also sings and has been covering songs since she was a middle schooler. She comes from a family of singers on both sides. More importantly she is smart and works hard so hearing that she got into a great school was no surprise.

She left Atlanta, GA to go to the cold and snow in upstate New York. And when Miss Tyler arrived she turned that place out. She began working and getting involved on campus. She worked at an art gallery and would come home to work at Baskin- Robbins. Then this kid decided that she would go to summer school and graduate in 3 years. And she did!!!

When her name was called in that arena we all celebrated. Our girl made it! When your family, you’re proud and happy when someone you love succeeds. Tyler is a black woman who defeated all odds and anything that stood in her way. So in two months the next chapter of her life begins as she starts graduate school.

My little cousin has the world at her feet, and I know it’s cliché but it’s facts. The sky is not the limit. She can advance high above what she ever hoped or dreamed. We could see her in movies or shows or she could be writing for a publication. Tyler could write screenplays or interview politicians and celebrities. That focus and determination keeps her on track, and of course it does, she comes from good stock.😉😉

FULLY FOCUSED MAN

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A few days ago I turned 41 years old and that marks a year since I’ve REstarted my educational journey. Getting this far hasn’t been easy for me in the least. From age 9-12 I was molested and that trauma left me a tormented soul. I battled with depression and PTSD throughout adolescence and into young adulthood. By the time the room stopped spinning I was a 25 yr old divorced mother of three. The focus was no longer on me but on my children. Every move I made had to have them in mind. Where I would live? Where I would work; who I would date?

Over the last 5 years my children have graduated from college, entered the job market and began traveling the world. My oldest is a 4th grade teacher. My middle child is studying abroad in France, and my youngest is a junior at The Ohio State University. I looked up and no one needed feeding, or dressing; the nest was empty. I realized that I had been living my life for my children and they were gone.

I have always been one to help others. I would see the need often before the individual saw it. As a former teen mom, I had a heart for teen mothers, and for preventing teen pregnancies. I was also a domestic violence survivor and suffered PTSD from that and the childhood abuse. My goal was to help others by showing them what has helped me to push through. Having time to myself helped me to learn the practice of self- care and teach it to others. I began by volunteering at my local YWCA. This gave me the opportunity to reach women right where they were.

So now I am in my first year of school. I am determined to finish. I want to obtain a Masters in Social Work. I want to help women but also be paid to do so. I want to achieve some of my dreams and goals now that I have helped my children to become successful. It’s my turn to take care of me.  This semester I have 2A’s & 1B. I don’t plan on slowing down or stopping. I’m fully focused man.IMG_3433[1]

LEAPS OF FAITH

ZIP 2018

 

All of my life I have been frightened by things many aren’t afraid of. At the age of 9 I was hit by a car and that trauma has stayed with me for most of my life. In the same year I was molested by a close family friend. It continued until I was around twelve and moved away.  That led to depression and suicidal ideations during my early teens. I was often scared of older men, paranoid of being hurt or killed and I was always looking out for my safety and the safety of those around me. With all of those traumas I never was the one to take risks or live on the wild side. I had to be peer pressured into riding roller coasters; and I quickly regretted it as the feeling of that days sweets swelled up in the pit of my stomach.

In 2015 on a trip to Cabo, Mexico I zip lined for the first time. Again I was peer pressured. As I walked the 5 mile hike I hoped something would go wrong and the excursion would be cancelled. Bad weather. A fallen wire. Jesus’ return. My sister- in- law went first, my husband second and there I was. “UP NEXT”. I listened to the instructions of the staff member, closed my eyes and soared through the sky.

Once I felt the breeze along my arms and legs, I opened my eyes and saw the beauty of the Pacific Ocean. The fluffy clouds, the sun and that glistening blue water caused me to shed a tear. I began to thank God. This had to be HIS artwork. There were 12 zips and we completed 8. I completed 8. I never got stuck on a line. I was able to stop myself and land smoothly. So it would have been easy for me to say, ” I zipped 3 years ago. I am gonna sit out this time.”

But I didn’t, there I was along with my best friend, hiking up a steep canyon. Not as steep as the mountain in Mexico, but more jagged. This excursion was in  Roatan, Belize in a jungle setting. This time I led the group. I wasn’t afraid at all, but excited to tell the ones who hadn’t zipped what fun it would be.  I listened to the staff member who chatted and teased us. “Ready, set go.” I screamed at the top of my lungs. I sang the Destiny’s Child song Survivor. There were 8 zips and we completed them all. Again I finished 8 zips. On the 7th one I yelled like Tarzan as I swept through the deep jungle.  I was so proud and it showed as I posed for pictures. I Rhasha Hoosier have zip lined twice; once over the Pacific Ocean and once in a beautiful lush jungle with insects and reptiles. I am just starting my LEAPS OF FAITH. What are your plans to challenge yourself and confront your fears?

ZIP AMANDA

 

Western Caribbean Paradise:Girl’s Trip 2018

 

 

Last week I had the pleasure of cruising to Conzumel, Belize, and Honduras. I’m still an infant in traveling.  I’ve been to the Bahamas, Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, and France. I didn’t begin traveling out of the country until around 2015. It started as a result of my daughter wanting to travel instead of having a grad party.

After just one cruise I had the bug. After seeing the movie Girls Trip my best friend planned our own PG version. On March 4th we sailed out of Galveston which was great for me since I’m up north in DFW. All of our saving and planning was coming together.  As soon as we stepped upon the Carnival Breeze we went into party mode, smiles and laughter followed us onboard.

We checked out the room and hit the BBQ spot. The pulled pork and Mac n cheese wasn’t bad.  We sat and talked under the sun for a while and then we started our own tour of the boat. It was set up like past cruise ships; lido deck with food and a pool, casino, dance clubs, a comedy club,the Ovation Theatre and a huge water slide that  opened into another pool. We treked to the very top deck and felt the powerful breeze. A feeling of warmth came over me. I knew we were gonna have a wonderful time.

If I told you everything we did, this blog would turn into a thesis. Let’s just say this. We danced, sang karaoke, ate all day long, visited private beaches, zip lined, we took a cave  tube tour, we slept in( well I did), attended a foodie tour, shopped and make great memories while feasting our eyes on overwhelming beauty.

I am gonna attach some pictures that will tell most of the story. Not only did we experience everything Cozumel, Belize, and Honduras had to offer, we bonded as six powerful, intelligent, talented, beautiful women. Four of us stayed in a room and the other two shared a cabin. We had no drama, no arguing, we respected each other’s space and personal items. We looked out for each other.

No matter what activities we did alone or in cliques of two, we came together every night for a fine dining meal. We had a ball with the restaurant staff, and each other. We learned our food likes and dislikes. Some of us tried foods we never had before and will never try again( lol).

We prayed together, laughed together, danced and sang together. I truly love these ladies and my best friend for planning the trip. We came up with a name for our crew. Two of us are 40, and two of us are 41. So we are #4041. We are already encouraging each other as we return to work and school. And pretty soon we will plan another great adventure.

I have so much gratitude to be able to travel, to have the freedom to go where I choose. And thankful to have sisters who will listen to me, tell me when I am right, or totally wrong. So now we shall prepare for Girls Trip 2019.

* And hell no, I was not paying $246 for the carnival Picts. Those watermarks are just fine.*