June 19, 2015

#realtalkfridays: Juneteenth And Self Care

It has been a super rough week. We need to take a damn break!



For more about Juneteenth, go to www.JuneTeenth.Com  

June 4, 2015

Say it Loud: I'm Black and Repressed



Black people need to get free.

If you based your judgment on rap music, porn, television, movies and covers of King magazine, you would think black folks are the most liberal, sexually free group of folks in the world. They show our  bare, tribal breasts in the pages of National Geographic. We twerk on stage with big butts in front of millions. We make Instagram posts grabbing massive a massive premise while singing slow jams. We are half naked at Carnival. We can talk about taking the dick and sucking the clit.... But we can't talk about the beauty of sex? Just the animalistic nature of it. The Primal. The Base....


And we are bold faced liars. And they wanna keep us that way. 


Black people are so closed minded about sex/sexuality because the oppressor stripped that beautiful thing out of you, replacing it with shame. They browbeat us with religion, making us ashamed of our bodies. Calling all own black skins a curse. How on earth were we to be healthy and happy and whole about our sexuality in a hostile environment that labeled you beastly, wantonly, temptresses and used your bodies as economic breeding grounds?  Used your bodies like you would a wash rag? Took advantage of you in any way possible and dared for you to tell! That labeled you black bucks and Sapphires.  We've relinquished power so much so over our bodies that the oppressor has now co-opted out looks: the lips, butts and such.  And had us fooled the entire time thinking it was worthless when in reality it was priceless. Biggest con is ever. 

Carribeans and Africans burn gays in the streets. Call them "batty boys" and condemn them. They have to hide. And be ashamed. My husband told me his home island of St Kitts has banned sex toys. Why?? Now it's illegal to get your rocks off in the privacy of your own home. Colonialism is the real winner.

Church and society told us to cover up. That black bodies were ugly and nasty. Boys told to button up. Girls told to lengthen hem lines. They told us to hide who we loved for fear of eternal damnation.  We could lead the choir but not get married to our partners because "it's an abomination". You became part of a community that damned you at 8 am service and praised you during choir rehearsal. You've been fed this puritanical ideal of being chaste and modest... when in reality... no one was thinking about your blackness when they created this model. Blackness automatically means unchaste and immodest.  

Black girls get sent to the principal  office more times than white girls for wearing the same outfits but because they have curvy bodies, are suspended or sent home more. Black boys are told to shrink and become small because their powerful, looming presence causes alarm and discomfort. 


And with a rise of the new movement of trans rights, black folks are left utterly confused and mostly unsympathetic. That's so odd how a group of oppressed people so easily succumb to group think. 

We think it's all one in the same : gay, straight, bi, trans, asexual, queer, intersex and drag.  We refused to learn the proper terms or be compassionate for fear of being labeled "one of them."  We look ignorant and uneducated. The same oppressive logic our oppressors gave us when we had allies in our movement. You must be a "nigger lover"  if you want equal rights for black people. You must be a homo if you want rights  for those sexually different than you.You cant fight for HIV/AIDS awareness unless you are gay and with the disease???  Can't you just be a compassionate human being?

But what's so funny is that black folks are doing it all behind closed doors and thinking "that's some white people shit" and it's not. Sexual ritual and sexual difference  have been around and apart of the African diaspora long before we entered this hemisphere.  We've gotten it beat out of us by the bible, Quran and the law of westernized, colonized lands.
Don't get me wrong. We love us some us ... As long as that "us" fits within the binary the hegemony has presented to us to with within. But everyone doesn't work that way. Including black folks.  And we are blind to that.


So for every meme our there poking fun at a trans celebrity  every dumb article, every stupid video, it pushes black folks back further and further. We claim we want to be seen as equals yet cannot demand equality for our LBGTQIA brothers and sisters hurting .  We lambaste them, saying "your blues ain't like mine"  as we fail to recognize that Blues comes with various shades of intersectionality. 

We frown up at anything other than the norm: BDSM, polyamorous relationships, gender non-conformity.We cant even celebrate the differences of body type within our community. Not every woman is a coke bottle. Not every man is a hulking brute.  Yet, we will allow others to exploit our bodies, creating an image of the "ideal",  and we will exploit them too in the name of the dollar. We allow the "gaze" of others to dictate how we feel about ourselves and how we function as sexual beings. We aren't allowed to function outside of the paradigm of "wench/mammy.breeder/field hand buck" so often presented to us.

We can gyrate our ass. Pussy pop in a  handstand. Twerk it for some dollars. But can't speak openly and honestly about what makes you tick. About who you love. And why any and all of that among consenting adults is ok. 

We are a sad, repressed people. Until we can do better in addressing these issues, we will do future generations of young men and women a disservice by not allowing them to find their true, authentic sexual selves.

I hope one day we will get free and release ourselves from the bonds of sexual repression. It isn't 1815 anymore..........

But you wouldn't know it.



May 12, 2015

Lone Wolf Workplace Syndrome

(Source: BET.Com ) 


I've worked my current job for about 10 years now. No... 10 years exactly. I have been a pretty autonomous worker. And trying to balance school, work and home life is challenging.

I cannot say that I was/am particularly close to anyone at work. Well... I was. I had a girlfriend named Lydia and when my job sorta consolidated into her department, she embraced me with  open arms. She was 10 years older than I was, had two kids, but it felt as though she was a peer and my older sister. We'd have lunch often. She gave me tons of advice. She let me vent to her and she would vent to me. And when I started dating my husband, she was rooting for me.

Lydia passed away about 2.5 years ago from breast cancer. And I miss her at work everyday. Sometimes I think I hear her laughing but I know she isn't here. She was my ally. She was the person I bounced ideas off of. She was my rock at work.. This loss has been magnified now that my mother is gone too. I would call my mother on my lunch breaks and we'd talk and catch up. Sometimes my mother and I talked 3-4 times a day. Lydia and I were the same way at work and apart from work.

But they are both gone. And I am isolated here. There are two other black women at work. One has two children  (and is a bit on the "alternative"/hippie/grunge side) and the other is a bit older. While they are both kind, we just do not have much in common (at least I do not think). The rest of my coworkers are white women or gay white males. I certainly do not have much in common with them.  The other two black women who used to worked here were far older and both retired about a month ago. One dubbed herself my "work mother" and we would share things. She even came to my wedding and mother's funeral.

Most days I have lunch in my office alone. Or I will go out with co-workers who work in different divisions of my job. But internally... I am alone. I keep my door closed, my music or YouTube playlist playing, and keep my head down and work until the clock strikes 4. It's isolating. No one understands. So I just keep to myself. People are sorta nosy and intrusive. I am pretty private. They go to lunches without me. They order food without me. They have loud and obnoxious conversations right outside my door as if I am invisible.  Some even hang out after hours....

I wonder if this is the same feeling that most black women (married/single/kids or no kids/gay or straight or etc) feel.  There is no one in my age group to relate to my experiences. I feel isolated. Not quite like an impostor... but definitely like an outsider. The idea of fraternizing with my coworkers bothers me. especially if alcohol is involved. I've been on a couple of work trips and remained conscious of the fact that I shouldn't drink too much. I shouldn't order this or that. I need to "present" myself a certain way outside of work.

I feel stuck. I feel alone. I feel like there isn't a network of support system in my office. Sure... OUTSIDE my office. But not inside my office. I often feel tense and brace myself for the microaggression.  I brace myself for the coldness and the lack of empathy. Even after I came back from grieving my mother, the first thing out of their mouths was "So such and such....work related". Fuck off.   I do speak and I do not shut myself off totally. But nothing connects. It is as if I am alien.

As black women of a certain age... how do we balance this? How do we break out of this?  Am I alone in this??

April 1, 2015

Love, Sex, and Losing my Mother

"She taught me the birds and bees! She taught me how to be a woman. When it was that time of the month, I didn't go to my mom. I felt comfortable going to my big sister".

My aunt Kerri said those words at my mother's funeral March 21. She stood there in her regal church lady's hat and suit, talking about her relationship with her older sister.  They shared secrets and things I didn't with my mother: parents, clothes, and heartache. My aunt spoke with tears in her eyes about her sister teaching her about sex. About love. Poignantly in the funeral home amongst others who nodded and appreciated her candor.

Mama died March 13.  Heart failure. A combination of things associated with her 35 plus years battling Lupus. But she was more than that. She was a survivor. Tiny but mighty. My father said she fought it until the very end.

She had only been married to one man but I got the feeling from our intimate conversations that she had fallen in love more than once. Although her marriage was no fairy tale by any means, she stood by his side. "My reward will be in heaven" she would say.  She often said that I was her "miracle baby"  (the pregnancy and delivery were complicated. Lupus was new and births rare)...and the best thing she ever did.  She schooled me on how to nurse a broken heart, how birth control worked, how to empower myself, that masturbation was ok, that love will happen more than once,  and by all means, that "no means no".

My mother was my best friend. I shared things with her and she never made me feel ashamed about anything. Love. Sex. My mother. Seems like an odd pairing. Most daughters don't share that. When my ex husband had an affair, it was her arms I cried in. When I was starting back on my feet, it was her love that sustained me. When I started the PhD program, she would sneak into my house and cook entire meals and leave. Sometimes with a note. Sometimes not. But even as I turned the key, I knew she had been there.

Love.

Love was our standing Saturday hair appointments, usually accompanied by Denny's when I was a little girl. Love was hustling Girl Scout cookies in front of the grocery store even though I knew she was sick.  Love was teaching me about makeup and being girly. And even how to use curse words properly. Love was fostering in me a love of music, arts and most of all, books. She let me read anything. No questions asked.

I had my first real love in high school. I was head over heels.She cautioned me that "this will not be the last man you love...".  I didn't believe her. And when we broke up before college she told me "It's ok... college will be an adventure". and it was. I loved and lost and loved again. I found myself and she allowed that space. She never judged me. She listened to my guy stories and laughed and shook her head. I got married and divorced. She was the first person to tell me I was brave. My mama, the lupus survivor, telling me I was brave.  When I traveled she would listen to my stories and close her eyes, imagining every detail. She would say "you've gone places I've never imagined". I would shrug it off and say "Mama it was just DC" but that was big to her, this woman who had only been on a plane twice in her life. When I met my current husband, she knew before I did that I loved him. Because she loved him. He cared for her like his own mother. He met her and took great lengths to handle her fragile body with care. Pushing her wheelchair. Opening her door. Never rushing her slow, paced walking with her crutch or cane. Taking her to doctor's appointments. Even they started to have secrets. Secret lunch dates. Secret talks. They started to grow into love. When my husband first met my mother, she had just had heart surgery (a very risky procedure given her health). My aunt Cherry, seeing this care my husband had, said "Keep that one! He loves your mama already".  When I got engaged, I grabbed her and hugged her teary eyed and she said "oh don't cry!".  And when I picked out my wedding dress, she was there, taking her face in my hands asking "is this the one, baby?" and walked with her cane to the register to pay the deposit. When I said my vows, I looked over and saw her smile.  She got to see that. She saw me love again. She taught me how to love. Mama , not my high school boyfriend, was my first love.

Sex
She was my best friend. She taught me the proper names for my private parts  very early because "you need to  know just in case". Just in case something happened to me. I got the feeling maybe my mother had experienced hurt or come close. Black girls often go unprotected.  But that was one secret she never told me. And she fiercely protected me. When I had my period, she was celebratory. She told me, just like my aunt, the blunt truth about the birds and the bees. There was no sugar coating it.  Mama told me being a woman was special and being a black woman was unique. She told me sex and having it was ok. She never used words like "whore or "slut". When I lost my virginity, she only asked was I safe. She took me to get my first birth control pills and exams.  She said girls carry condoms too.  She was on me about breast exams, having two sisters diagnosed. And when my aunt died, she was even more fervent about mammograms. She was with me when they thought I had blocked ovaries which would make me incapable of having children. She said quite fiercely "that's not gonna happen". She told me stories of her own mother, and my great-grandmother having children well into their 40s to put me at ease. She was proud of that.  Tests were negative. And she was there the entire time. She and I shared that secret.

When I started this blog and told her it was about sex positivity, my journey through divorce and dating, she was the first person to subscribe. She would say "I  liked that post about..." or "you never told me about..." or "You taught me something! I always wanted to know about..." She came to my Pure Romance party and had everyone laughing. She made raunchy jokes about my honeymoon. Hilariously bawdy.... my mother.

As I cleaned out her bedroom, I found things a daughter probably shouldn't. But I wasn't grossed out. I laughed and it made me happy to know hat despite the illness, despite her handicapped status, she was still a sexual being.  Capable of pleasure both emotional and physical. She loved and she got mad. She taught me to revel in that. She taught me that it was ok. She was ok. She still loved. She still had passion.

Loss

My mother didn't lose her battle. I didn't lose her either. Lupus didn't win. Heart Failure didn't win. I gained a role model. I often tell myself if I can be half the woman that she was then I know I have lived a good life.  I lost the last person I talk to at night but I think of her now morning, noon and night. I listen to her voicemails when I want to hear her voice. And despite the tears. Despite the anguish. I am not filled with loss.

I didn't lose my mother.

I won because I had the best mother in the world.




Marcelle Chaney Mathews
5/30/53-3/13/15




Copyright © 2015 T. Michelle Richardson

February 24, 2015

Random Thoughts of a Black Newlywed Woman.....

I do not know where I went wrong with this blog. I got married. (LOL). I dunno... I guess this blog was supposed to document my "reinvention" after divorce. And it did...but what now? Where do I go from here? Am I still "reinventing" myself? Where am I going in this 36th year of life? I do not want to be that girl that "vlogs" and documents every bit of minutia in her marriage.Because shit just gets boring. And I am not going to do that. I learned my lesson the first time I got married with sharing too much. I wont be documenting my pregnancy (if I get pregnant) or anything like that. I want it to be about me... but where do I go from here. What can this blog be about? Can it be about sex positivity with a "soul"? Or something else.........I dunno.When I started this blog, I also focused on different self-improvement/spiritual improvement and thoughts for the year. I had an entire "Bliss" movement. Now...I am not sure where to go with that. We all can use constant improvement. Whats my next step? Where do I go?

*****

I am plagued with feelings of self-doubt. I am still in my PhD program but everyday I want to quit. Everyday I am tired. I get up at like 4:45 every morning to get to work by 6:30 am. I leave at 4 pm, get home by 6 and I am exhausted. Over 12 hr days... I read for school at lunch (or try to). I read when I get home. (or try to).  But most days I want to veg-out on the couch, reconnect with my husband and just chill. To even get caught up..I'd have to take some vacation days from work. So..something has to give. I feel like this is in the way of my life now. I got other shit to do. Like get my house together. Care for my family. Get my finances together. Work on my vehicle situation. Right now I just want it over. And I don't even think I'm that smart or good of a student anymore. Each time I talk with my advisors...I feel dumb all over again.

*************
I don't even get it..........I feel like my feelings get dismissed for just being "overly panicked" about things. I do not feel that's the case. And if that is so... I'd much rather just keep my feelings to myself. Sometimes everything doesn't need a "solution" or "fix". Just let it be. Let me work it out.

****
I am bored with myself. I cut about 6 inches from my locs  (mostly because I had ragged, color-damaged ends), experimented with new styles, and I still feel like I need a makeover. Maybe I will color my hair dark brown all over. Maybe I just need to get off my ass and get back into the gym  but.. (SEE ABOVE). I am just tired most of the time. There is not even enough time in the day. My makeup stays beat..that much I can attest to Partly because makeup always "fits". I do not have to worry about making it "work" or wearing a "girdle" or some other fat-sucking undergarment.. But the rest? My clothes look boring but I am trying to be much more of a saver....  So..I can't just be walking in the house with a bag of clothes because I'll get a side-eye. Maybe I just need a new routine. Speaking of looks...wassup with the attacks on black women's looks and bodies these days?? Our hair. Our skin color. Our body-types.  It's draining...

****

I think when you become a newlywed (even for the second time)..your single girlfriends think you don't wanna hang with them. That's not true! We married women still need girl time. I hate finding out about cool places my "friends" and even my family members. It's lonely. I do not even hang out with my own mother anymore (but at least her issue is health related/logistics and not just avoidance)... I mean..I cannot talk to my husband about everything. He doesn't get the things I enjoy. Women need women-circles for support. (See my previous blog on BFFs ). Nothing has really changed. I do have a husband but I am still me...ya know?

***
Speaking of lonely, what do you do when you are one of the youngest minority women in your work environment? I have no children. I am in a different "educational" level than some of my colleagues. It feels isolating. Once a close co-worker passed away several years ago from Cancer, I lost a work ally. You feel left out of even the most mundane of news if the culture of your work environment is female, white and fairly older. And the younger, white women co-workers tend to stick together. I feel like a unicorn at times. DO not get me wrong..I have colleagues outside of my immediate department that I conenct with on a professional and personal level. But it would be nice to just sit and have a lunch with someone IN my department. I am sure someone can relate to that..........


****

I turn 36 in a month and 4 days. I am not excited as I usually am for my own personal holiday. I do not want any particular gifts. I do not want a party. Last year I combined my 35th w/ my bachelorette party so that was fun.  I get very introspective around this time of the year. I start to evaluate everything I did post-undergraduate (because let's face it...after college is when the real decisions start happening).  Where do I go right? Where did I go wrong? Often times the Wrongs outweigh the Rights. 2014...a lot of rights were going on. I got married. I settled into a new home. I got a raise at work...a lot of rights. So tell me why I still feel like I haven't done anything? Maybe because those weren't necessarily my goals for my 35th year. I havent accomplished half of what I wanted to do in 2014.... I am not done with this degree. I havent gotten back on track in the areas I wanted to focus. I didn't travel to the places I wanted to go (aside from a lovely Mexican honeymoon).  I am lacking focus. I wonder how I get there. Maybe I need to yoga or meditate or something.........

February 16, 2015

Our #FiftyShades Movie Review





My normally camera-shy husband and I review Fifty Shades of Grey. Needless to say...we weren't truly feeling it! LOL.

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
 

Blog Design By: Lucky Girl Design Studio © All Rights Reserved. | Graphic: iStockphoto