Friday, December 30, 2011

Update about updates!

I rarely update here, but I am writing over at The Intersection of Madness and Reality!

Find me there and support the blog!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Post on Rape

I don't know if you know this about me, but I was raped. I was raped just after my 19th birthday; without getting into the aspects of it, I'll explain that it was one of the darkest and most traumatic times of my life. I never saw the guy again, thankfully. Let's be clear though: he raped me at gunpoint, acknowledged that he did it, and may well have killed me that night.

Subsequent to my rape, I ran away to the university from which I would eventually graduate; however, in the time between my fleeing as far away as I could then stand and college graduation, I drowned in a pool of emotion. I became self-destructive. I was depressed and suffered terrible anxiety and panic attacks. I was imploding.

By graduation, I was rebuilt. Somehow, I rose above it all. I graduated with honors; in fact, I was the student of the year. I had the support of the people I cared most about, but they were not the people that most would suspect. Now, of course, the depression seems like a flash. It seems like I woke up one morning and with the blink of an eye, I am where I am. Having experienced the trauma, heartache, and internal death, I realize that the process of rebuilding was by far the most difficult struggle I've ever endured.

Moving back to the city which the rape occured was never part of a plan for me. In fact, since my graduation not-that-long-ago, I have been fortunate enough to travel about briefly, and it was just by chance that I landed back here with a career.

I implore you to understand, reader, that my life is very pleasant now. I hardly ever reflect to my personal experiences with rape. I don't want sympathy because I am a survivor; I fully acknowledge this experience and know that I grew to be a stronger warrior woman after it happened.

And so, my friends, life went on. Happily.

Very lately, I have been out and about and wondered if I would ever run into him again. I've been out and seen someone that looks familiar to him and had to process the idea that he may still be in the city. Call it intuition or something stronger, but I thought that I was bound to bump into him again eventually, and wondered how well equipped I would be to deal with the situation if it ever happened.

And it happened yesterday. I was in the market to pick up a can of peas, and I saw a man on a cell phone pushing a baby. Yet, he turned his head and I saw his face but he did not see me -- until I rushed to another isle to keep myself from having a mental avalanche. And he followed me. And I froze facing canned goods while he pushed a baby in a cart and spoke on the phone. And I could feel him slow down, and even though he hasn't seen me since I was 19 years old and a completely different person, he recognized me. And I felt sick to my stomach and disgusted. And I trembled as he spoke a 'hey, (my name)!'

I didn't look at him. I said 'hey' and ran to the other side of the market for check-out, feeling naked, terrified, vulnerable, and angry. What gives this horrible excuse for a human being the right to live, have children, speak to me as if he didn't -- in everyway imaginable except for the literal -- kill the 19 year old me?

I don't know. I don't have the answers. I am safe and collected; yet, I wonder why the universe is injust. It was a hassle to contact any person for any support; it was a struggle to avoid an internal whirlwind, and an external explosion. And I still feel like my internal London Bridge is falling down.

The thing that is keeping me going today is knowing this: I am better than him and that he does not/did not/will not get the satisfaction of seeing me fall apart.

Finally, my first of several counselors post-trauma told me that I was numb and unemotional. (I still hear this very often today when I don't react to situations the way that people anticipate I should. I am rational and reflective, and that does not make me unemotional. That does not mean I am not reacting, it means that I have my own system to process emotions and it is right for me). The counselor explained the concept of "righteous anger" to me; and I tried to be angry that he raped me then. It was not right for me. I truly learned and experienced, only years later, just yesterday, what righteous anger feels like. I don't feel like I am betraying my true self in being angry. I don't feel like I am a coward, or that I am less strong for being emotional yesterday and at this instant. I don't feel wrong in questioning why the imbalance in the universe resulted in the theft of my life, my virginity, and why he is allowed to live. And I recognize that I'll never know or understand, but I feel it.

And I also feel thankful for the few people who were able to help me breathe and process.

Be Righteous(ly angry with me).

The first counselor I saw is the actual reason I end my posts with "be righteous". Whatever I do, righteousness minus a connotation based in religion, is my motivation.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June. Even More Amazing.

I know; after such an amazing Mayo, after the wonderful experiences and all the love, how could June be more amazing a mere 11 days in? After going on my first cruise, my first experiece out of the country, my first real vacation in ages, how on earth could a-little-over-a-week-into June be that much better? Well, for one thing, I got to see my favorite band, The Legendary Roots Crew, live again. This time was a little different from the others. This time was something like a hip-hop fairy tale.

I had been discussing going to Philadelphia for this year's Roots Picnic for months. I love hip-hop, and as mentioned in previous posts, I love seeing The Roots live and ?uestlove is among my favorite people alive because of his talent, drive, intelligence, and contributions to the music world. It's all respect. (Admittedly, my post from last year's show was a bit of an exaggation on my crush. I read back on it and realzed that my sarcasm doesn't always shine through clearly in my writing. D'oh.)

After coming back from the Bahamas, and spending far more money than I intended, I actually worried that going to Philadelphia was not feasible. And quite honestly, had my travel companion not already purchased her tickets and made arrangements to go, I'd have talked myself out of it. You only live once, though, and I decided to go for it. In the interest of saving money, we decided to fly to Philadelphia. Neither of us had ever been on an airplane before; and the day before the trip, we both got butterflies.

The flight was fine. It was smoothe. It was beautiful. It was..short. We landed in Philly about 45 minutes after take-off. We shuttled our way to the hotel, and went to a casino for a while before retiring for the evening. Let's just fast-forward to the show, shall we?

12pm. Saturday, 6/4/11. We walked around, and bounced from stage to stage. We networked and spoke with Phillyfolk.

We bought t-shirts for the music festival. Duh.

We noticed that okayplayer was having a contest. To enter, one either tweeted or signed up for their mailing list. I'm not one for things like this; I don't gamble because I'm not fond of the disappointment you feel when you've not won. However, the winners of the drawing won the opportunity to watch The Legendary Roots Crew and Nas from onstage. We'd be foolish not to try, right?

So we tweeted. And signed up. And had people retweet.

And enjoyed the show. Saw some people I didn't know of. And some people that I did. Some soul, rock, rap. Donn T. Yelawolf. Oh, and did I mention Esperanza Spalding performed with The Roots? With all apologies - I was so excited, I didn't get a much better photo than this:

Sometime during the course of the day, my companion and I tweeted about how amazing we thought Amanda Diva to be. And she tweeted us back. I am fully aware of how nerdy that sounded.

The performances were great. Wiz Khalifa had several special guests that included Freeway and Beanie Sigel. Wiz's set was over at 8:30pm. Once that was over..the winner of okayplayer's contest would be announced.

They only picked two winners.

Amanda Diva came on stage to announce the winners.

My companion wanted to listen. I didn't want to get my hopes up.

Questlove snare roll..

She announced my companion. And I was excited! But I won't front like I wasn't a little salty. I mean, we came from NC together. We signed up on everything together. I know that it was a supposed random drawing, but it didn't seem likely that the odds were in my favor. So I stood. And waited for the announcement of the second winner.

Questlove snare roll..

Me. I won. I froze. I screamed. I waved. People rejoiced for me. RIGHT HERE. I WON. OH MY GOD. THAT'S ME. IWONIWONIWON. I ran to the side entrance of the stage.

Nas rocked. The Legendary Roots Crew rocked. As expected. They are my favorite live hip-hop act. They're utterly and always amazing. Did I mention that I met Kamal Gray and James Poyser as they walked to their keyboards?

And that Questlove and I kept making eye-contact during his set? Which, I know is probably a typical fanatic thing to say since he was lookign in my direction and I wanted it to happen. I know that it sounds ridiculous. I'm a very rational human being and I don't feel the need to defend myself. I know what happened.

Great show. We hung out, excited, processing the events of the day, when my comrade pointed out Questlove leaving the stage. My thought was, "damn. My only chance to meet him." Yet, who could even be mad after such an awesome day? Not me. Not at all.

Then we saw Black Thought. And talked to him. And took a photo with him. I'd be ruining my no-photos-of-myself-on-the-blog rule if I posted it. And then we saw Yelawolf. And talked with him. And took a photo with him. And I got felt up by him. There was far too much energy for me to process what was going on.

I was hot and sweaty and wanted to go back to the hotel to change clothing before attending the official after-party.

I was tired from standing up all day long. While I pledge allegiance to the fashion, and am quite flexible in what I wear, I'm generally a dress wearing gal for parties. However, I wore ripped jeans, a tank-top, and Converses to the show.

And our hotel was on the other side of Philadelphia.

And we'd been having the time of our lives.

So, screw it. Let's go to the official after party wearing the same clothing that we wore to the festival. We'd be fools to miss the party because I wanted to get pretty! Onward we went.

We sat and ate fish and grits with Phillyfolk. We talked about our excitement.

We watched Questlove walk right into the venue. And I respect the artistic zone, so I was not going to be that girl to disturb his music high while he was on the way to the dj booth. Nope.

We entered the club to party. We intentionally moved near the dj booth. And I lost my five-foot-tall protege among the people inside. I'm standing by myself, listening to the music, just a few feet from Questlove. And a guy unintentionally bumps into me and I nearly fell. I was caught. He was face to face with me and apologized. It was Captain Kirk Douglass. Guitarist of The Legendary Roots Crew. I was stunned. He apologized and moved to talk to Questlove; on his way out, he bumped me and apologized again.

We partied. We went outside for air. We went back inside for a moment, and I danced with a guy from another state for a while, while my homegirl had to handle some business. And while this guy is in my ear, my friend comes back and grabs my arm and takes me over to Questlove. She introduces herself and explains that we took our first flight ever to see him. And that I love him.

And then he grabbed my hand. And I blushed. And he smiled at me, and made his way out.

I wish the story ended with me losing a glass slipper, but I wore Converses to the party. I didn't give him my phone number or scream out my level of devotion to him. Instead, I was civil. Classy.

And it was the best weekend of my entire life.

April Showers bring...MAYCATION!

With the winding down of my incredibly active April, I was quite satisfied - and exhausted - with all of my groundwork and advocacy for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Though, May was very busy and quite lovely because my best friend/cousin turned twinny-five. Yes, that's right. We're reaching a whole new realm in adulthood.

To kick off her birthday, we saw Mint Condition and Raheem DeVaughn and it was a fabulous show. Raheem-the-dream just don't know!

The next night, we partied. Hard. A bit too hard. I'd bore you with the details of our club hopping and all that but...some things stay just 'tween us girls. It was a success. A very wild and exciting success.

A week later, I traveled out of the country for the first time. That's right folks; she and I went to the Bahamas. And it was an amazing trip.

We bummed. We learned. We tanned. We shopped. We partied. We ate. We had the time of our lives.

There are no real words, but there are photos worth thousands.

To top it off, cousinbestfriend got engaged at the end of the month. It was a good one.

Peace, love.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Coming Up!

Over the last thirty days, I've been incredibly busy. I've seen a few live shows. I've traveled out of the country. I've taken my first plane ride to a state I've never visited. I've seen my favorite band again - except this time, things are different.

I think that the best way to handle this is to break my last thirty days into many mini episodes over the course of the next few days. Be very afraid.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Also, feel free to follow @otherwomynism on Twitter! Tweet me thoughts, comments, and suggestions!
Unfortunately, the disrespect in the comment section of the blog has become excessive and comments are being heavily moderated. At least for now.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Conspiracy Theories: Pro-Choice and Eugenics

It is entirely possibly to discuss the choices in reproductive freedoms and birth control without entertaining the ideas of eugenics and genocide. I don't praise or worship Margaret Sanger for her classist, and subsequently racist, stance on eugenics and birth control. Similarly, let the record reflect that I'm not thrilled about positive eugenics propoganda handed over by the conspiracy theorist militant Negroes of our communities.

Okay. I understand that this might sound harsh. I also understand that people specify desirable qualities they look for in their mate, which may support a degree of positive eugenics in future family planning. Let's ignore the minor degrees of positive eugenics theories and jump right into the extreme ones. For example, I have an associate that I very much value for a lot of different reasons and opinions. However, in our initial correspondances, he made it clear that he was impressed with my beauty as a young Black woman; aside from my physical beauty, he made it clear that I am very intelligent, knowledgable, and resourceful. And so, in complimenting my personal characteristics, his solution to our friendship was this: we should have children together to improve the quality and condition of the entire Black community, and so that the Black race could better compete with the world. And I did not find this to be brilliant, but instead insulting. Positive eugenics is the practice of encouraging the so-called "genetically advantaged" to procreate. Before, during, and after my dear mixed-up associate identified me as genetically desirable, I leaned away from the idea of having a family. And so, the feeling in my stomach when discussing such theories as his pushed me further and further away from the idea of being a mother. As I often say, not in the forseeable future.

In my veryveryvery not-so humble opinion, when minority communities embrace pro-positive eugenic theories, it not only detracts from the work and responsibility of parents and community in raising children (nurture), but it validates the things that white slave masters actively practiced and believed in with regard to the reproductive exploitation of women slaves in America (nature).

In the early 1900s, Margaret Sanger did fully support negative eugenics - or using birth control to limit fertility as a means to eliminate those deemed genetically unfit - and she did birth the American Birth Control League. As a Black woman, I do not deny nor excuse any of this. This is factual, despite my personal ideologies. She, however, raised a substantial amount of positive points not specific to eugenics, that bleed into different realms of reproduction and human sexuality.

While I am becoming better at respectfully disagreeing and not using what I deem to be, well, just wrong and using it to invalidate all of a person's opinions, it has always been difficult for me to not look at a person and judge them based on their evils. Yet and still, I will respect and defend my mixed-up associate as I will certain aspects of Margaret Sanger in being pro-choice.

The idea that I am supposed to procreate with the aforementioned associate is an inside joke that often comes up between us. When recently joked about, my response was simply that the world is overcrowded and beyond capacity in terms of human population, and that I'd rather not be part of the problem. And while the joking response of my assicate turned my stomach, the theme that anti-choice sentiment included sparked a teeny tiny debate. Yes, there is such a thing. "Our child might be the solution," he says, "with my ferocity and your attitude, he could one day kill millions." I sighed a 'no thanks' to avoid what could have been a match of repartee, and he continued, "I don't think you could make a greater contribution to the resolution of over-population." Laugh, "He could be deadlier than Planned Parenthood."

My response, quick and simple, "Planned Parenthood has helped many women. Not having Planed Parenthood is 'deadlier' than Planned Parenthood. Word." Word. I often think that people like starting with me to see my fire and passion. To see my mind work. To see if I'll back down. (As recent as this morning, my dad tried his best to set me off and then told me that my eyes were really pretty when I am angered.) And so, here we are:

Him, "I thought that would enliven you." Laugh, "But what is the ethnic breakdown of abortion in America and the world. If a people have an adversarial perspective of us, isn't it easier to kill a warrior as an embryo than kill him later on the battlefield?" That was poetic.

Me, "Abortion, unless it isn't a choice to have or NOT have one, is a choice that women make. The problem with anti-choice sentiments is that they don't take into account the choice, and on the other end -- the nonsafe abortions that have and will continue as a result of limiting our resources. One could argue that limiting our resources and having anti-choice billboards specific to the Black community is their way of having us kill ourselves." This is the problem with conspiracy theories.

Him, "What Black people don't consider is demography and the correlation between population shifts and power on our planet. That's why China is such a beast now. They outnumber Americans 5 to 1." Well now, what's that got to do with the price of tea in China? Oh wait.

Me, "That's a separate issue to genocide and certainly to the population overcrowding. And also, poor exdample as China has a limit on children they can birth. And since male children are socially more desirable, female children are adopted out, abandoned, or killed. Which goes back to anti-choice in issues of reproduction and women's bodies. Boom." Boomboomboom.

Him, "I'm talking about birth control as a part of a genocide policy. What are your views on that?"

Me, "I think that if you aren't considering the idea of choice in birth control tactis, you're missing the point. And it isn't genocide unless mandated and/or institutionalized."

Him, "So the issue of choice is tantamount, even in a mass murder plot? Restrict resources and promote pro-choice billboards as part of a genocide campaign? Pretty crafty, but the people are awakening today. And since when does Congress vote on a genocide resolution? The demographers say that at the present rate of birth, Blacks and latinos will be the majority in America by 2050. And you don't think a racist mind would employ and fund Planned Parenthood regardless of its mission statement, to prevent the rise in our numbers?"

Instead of addressing each and every impassioned point that he point he made, the bells sounded and I brought the conversation to a halt. Scrrrrrrrrrrrch. Do I find conspiracy theories interesting? Absolutely. I do not entertain every one thrown at me, of course, but the ones that are detailed enough to illustrate any level of serious reflection at their own inception should be entertained for the amount of effort utilized. I don't know that this was one of those moments. Looking back on it, the response was so well articulated that it may have deserved more than I gave it.

Me, "You can't have it both ways -- you can't say the enemy is plotting and then suggest we are too awakened to fall for it. You're contradicting yourself and eery argument you've ever made. That you suggest the 'enemy' is plotting against us, but then say that my argument [about the pro-choice billboards encourages us to kill ourselves with back-alley abortions] is unappealing because we're awakened. One cancels out the other. Your argument provides that the level of consciousness be qualified, and that is subjective. You can't cancel out my argument in using the 'awakening' but allow your argument to still be valid." Research: unsafe/illegal abortions.

While the debate did not turn ugly and emotional, it did end as they often do: with my being told to step by game up in order to identify "evil machinations executed from high levels of power" and questioning whether or not I truly identify that there is an opponent.

More than anything, I oppose themes and ideologies; if I opposed people instead, my associate and I would not have any interest in speaking to one another for the fiery debates in the past that often ended in name-calling. (I'm not a namecaller.) I'd have to considering turning away from people much more for their choices and beliefs that are anti-me. It would be difficult to survive in our world, and I would be forced to be alone. My work would be destroyed; I've reluctantly advocated for people who hated me more than the forces that are against us.

I'm learning. Respect. Be Righteous.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Subliminal Messages in Internet Advertising

In searching for the right things to write, especially among my own internal reflections and contemplations, I recently decided to work on independent research projects for myself. In essence, I decided that I'd continue my involvement in academia in this way, and accomplish the things that I'd like to accomplish on my own time; and so, your favorite nerd-activist will be submerged in the depths of academic research, purely for leisure, and hopefully reporting any interesting findings to the masses.

In the midst of researching reproductive exploitation during US slavery, I stumbled upon a page about slave breeding. The page was brief and fairly informative, but featured on the left hand panel was an advertisement. I will add that I have no idea how internet advertising actually works (what goes where and when), but I found it ironic, insulting, and powerful to the point. Screenshot below.

It reads: "AfroRomance: Where Love is More Than Skin Deep" and features a white man appearing to lay on top of a Black woman. Not captured in the screenshot is the "search for interracial singles". Interesting to have appeared on the "slave breeding" site.

Take from it what you will. Be righteous.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sugar, Spice...Everything Nice

I’ll be honest, I have a stubborn streak. I know this may come as a surprise to you, dear reader; what – with my gung-ho progressive causes and my work right in the ground zero of womanism. I get how it could be difficult to view me as someone who gets stuck in her own frame of mind. You don’t understand. Even my online friends acknowledge this stubborn streak. Just the other morning, I polled my twitter friends on how long they thought it would be before I got sick of my curly hair flopping in my face. I usually pin it back but I felt pretty good about the style I had going on. Anyway, one tweeter had an entire method to her prediction: she bet that I would be tired of it later in the day, because if people were better against me, I’d try that much harder to win the bet. Clever.

I thought about my stubborn streak just the other night, actually. I thought about my home-life and what makes a “home” versus a “place I live.” It sounds silly. Nit-picky, even. I moved right back to the lovely comforts of my home town in the South, and yet it was only until last night when I unpacked my groceries that the place where I live began feeling like my “home”. The trick? Apparently the trick was finally getting around to buying real spices for my spice cabinet.

I cook often, and I’m damn good at it, thanks; but I’ve maintained a very limited collection of spices and I have a theory as to why: to make myself feel like I’m not “stuck” here. Committed and all. I know that might not make sense but I’ve done this with a number of things: lease signing, long-termany relationships, new friendships and socializing, becoming connected to my new-old place of residence. I mean, honestly, my full-time job is the absolute only absolute with my current place.

I wonder, though; if I decided to really grow to love the place where I live – to find other square pegs to not fit-in with – will the new-old place where I live begin feeling more like home?

Call it an challenge to grow masked as an exercise only for the sake of my sanity, but I’ve had thoughts about feeling wanted, needed, valued, or even at the bare minimum liked. I’d like to make more connections to people I genuinely like and have things in common with, and I’ve recently made progress. In the bigger scheme of things, and to be painfully cliché, I’m looking or the spice of (my) life.

I thought it would be really neat, though, if I began making my actual physical address a bit more like my home. Sure, I live here. And I’ll give it to ya, it’s got style. But I want to make it mine. It’s so standard and typical right now and it doesn’t really fit my personality. It’s like the straight-haired version of me; people loved my straight hair. I waltzed into my workplace like a blast from the past as a result of pure spontaneity and I received so many compliments on my hair. I even liked it a little bit, but it wasn’t me. One coworker talked about how gorgeous and lengthy my hair was, but told me that it was so plane and tame for me. She felt like I’m not me unless I put time and effort into creating a chaotic twist to my style all for the sake of fashion. That’s fair. And very much how I view my home. I have a cute and conservative den and photos of my family about. I have my record player and piano, and a nice vintage kitchen, complete with a stove that dates to the 50s. My bedroom is quite bland. Even my bathroom, though tiny, is very put together and neat. And it all isn’t rockin’ enough for me to call it my own.

As such, I’m coming back to life and illustrating more of me in every aspect of my 2011-life. Does that make sense, or does it just seem plum frivolous? I say, you’ve got to start somewhere and making my home a little more artsy and fitting of who I am is the first step.

I'm going to take a step back from the being stubborn, simply to enjoy my life where I am. They're only things; and if being comfortable means feeling "stuck", there's something else I need to work on: a little thing called perception.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I've come to a crossroads of realization in my life. What a way to just jump right back into the blog after I apologized for the lack of consistancy in my updates. After I promised to do better. I know, right? Just hear me out.

In all of my moving about the eastern US over the last year, I've done some soul-searching. I've had horrible experiences in the world of dating. I've immersed myself into the world of twitter for a second time. I've straightened my hair for the first time in 5 years, temporarily though. I'm working in the perfect career for me, and I love the work that I do. More recently, I've stared at a lunar eclipse, pondering where I am in life. I've spent so much time planning "what's next" in my life that I've become consumed in where I want to go instead of just going. A silly defect I've struggled with for years.

I've dscovered that in order to be good to myself, I have to enjoy life outside of my career. I know this sounds like a rather simple revelation but I've found that working on the front lines all day long and then coming home to nothing but myself can be relieving if you allow it to be. However, reading news, ranting on twitter, blogging (eh, when I updated more often), diving into news channels...doesn't give much time for an effective emotional detox. This does not mean I'll stray away from social and poltcal commentary while blogging (/micro-blogging). But for the sake of it all, I have to breathe and enjoy life. And so, in my 2011 blogging career, I fully intend to discuss more than social justice.

Now, I'm not one for New Year's Resolutions. It is completely embedded in my beliefs about human nature that if people truly desire to make a change, they do it then and there instead of deciding to wait until the year roll's over and then lapsing into old habits. Color me cynical. I say that to say this: I have to stop planning and start doing. As such, I have goals for myself that I am working toward. These include being more open about new experiences and people, and about who I am. Traveling, forgiving, learning, volunteerng. Much of the same old me, but with a major twist: I must breathe.

So, here's to new experiences! Thanks for sticking with me, dear (few) readers. Cheers.