A Cure Within the Contagion

(Revised: 3/28/21)

This post was originally written on March 21st, International Day for the Elimination of Racism or the UN’s #FightRacism Day. Thank you in advance for your commitment to eradicating the other pandemic that we are working to uproot. There have been so many opportunities to deepen our learning and commitment to fighting for our overall wellbeing in the form of liberation and justice within the last two weeks. I would love to share with you some of my reflections and questions:

What happens when we are working towards being a better version of ourselves and support from those around us feels destructive? Reflecting on this question, I began to think about times when I have received various forms of feedback throughout my life: some of it constructive at the time, while other feedback felt more oppressive in its purpose. There are two experiences in particular that resonate with me: The first came during a time when I was working while emotionally broken and receiving feedback on a workshop. The second time was recently as an educator. Now that I am firmly in a Renewed place, feedback informs me; it does not form me.

The reason why feedback was difficult for me to take when I was navigating brokenness was because macro and micro aggressions were landing on me at the same time. It felt that way because 1) I was concurrently experiencing microaggressions from others personally and professionally during a time when folx in this country were…you already know and 2) I began to internalize those messages and eventually began to tear myself down. 

It is very hard to distinguish constructive feedback from well-meaning others, against the “You Suck” pit that has been intentionally dug for many of us by those who mean us harm. Once in said pit, if you are unable to claw yourself out; you are likely to get hit by what others are hurling down at you…even if what they may be hurling in your direction could potentially help you out of the pit. When guilt and shame team up with the scripts of white supremacist misogynistic heteronormative ableist capitalistic patriarchy, then even a simple evaluation of how you are showing up in an environment can turn into a form of damnation.


Justice for Breonna Taylor, Xiaojie Tan and all
whose lives were taken as a result of white violence.

As I reflected on the significance of what is called the Convoy Model of Social Relations in my own experience, I am reminded of how “…people create convoys to match their personal needs and experiences, but personal and situational characteristics play a role within circumstances that may promote or constrain an individual’s ability to create the convoy that would be maximally beneficial to them (Fuller, Ajrouch and Antonucci, 2020).”

What the hell does that even mean?

Said in a different way, what’s going on inside of us and what’s going on around us play a part in how well we can create circles of support that are best for us.

“…people create convoys [of support] to match their personal needs and experiences, but personal and situational characteristics play a role within circumstances that may promote or constrain an individual’s ability to create the convoy that would be maximally beneficial to them.

Fuller, Ajrouch and Antonucci, 2020

I became deeply curious about circles of support as Meghan Markle described her treatment during her time with the Royal Family. Additionally, I wondered about the quality of support for the 21-year old white man chose to do by killing women he fetishized in Atlanta, Georgia. Don’t get it confused, the reality of the mental health crisis we have on our hands should not be lost on anyone. And, let’s not denounce the nuanced work that is directly connected to white violence and access to guns and other mechanisms of physical, spiritual and mental assaults (miss me with the whole “guns don’t kill people…” programmed track). An overarching question that comes to my mind is: What are the roles those who are engaged and invested in us have with regard to our wellbeing? 

When I think about the word “invested,” I think about those who have benefited from our more toxic behaviors like people pleasing, self-abandonment, need for external validation over internal evaluation, those who take advantage of our vulnerabilities for their socio-political and personal gain…those assholes. We also have to be accountable for our own toxic tendencies. It is incredibly difficult to acknowledge when we have benefited from someone else’s toxicity and have also been that toxic person (In other words, we have also been the asshole in someone’s story). Trust, I know from experience how jarring that realization can be. 

You better go ‘head and own it, Sis!

It is sobering to realize that the same destructive and narcissistic ways of engaging that I experienced in personal and professional settings that were detrimental to my mental health and wellbeing, I now embody in some form.

If we use the coronavirus as an example (I’m sure you’re thinking “Please, don’t”) it may paint a more vivid and relatable picture. Here are 2 points to consider:

  1. Say you are reasonably healthy and you engage with someone with the virus. You will become infected with the virus. Whatever is going on with your immune system will determine how well your body is able to fight it and which symptoms you will display (if any). 
  2. If your immune system has already been compromised prior to becoming infected, the internal fight back to health is a harder and longer one. For some, the attacks from the virus is more than their system can bear. Others may recover with lingering effects from the impact of the virus, while others still may have little to no impact at all.

The reason why I chose to liken our mental health crisis to our current health crisis is to show the inextricable link of the two: 

  • When we surround ourselves with those who are committed to their wellbeing and we are also committed to our wellbeing, compromising moments may still happen, yet we have more resources towards recovering from those setbacks (Wellbeing Champions).
  • When we surround ourselves with those who have a lackadaisical relationship with their wellbeing, the level and quality of support will not necessarily be that plentiful or even helpful (Wellbeing Passivists). 
  • When we surround ourselves with sick folx who could care less about our wellbeing or even actively work against it, we are going to get sick or even more sick than we were initially (Wellbeing Obstructionists).

In reality, we engage with all three of these groups without knowing it, sometimes simultaneously. Additionally, somewhere in our lives we have been in each of these three groups in someone else’s life. We have been the mental health and wellbeing Champion, Passivist, and Obstructionist. Our complexities, stories, and lived experiences play out in different ways and given our socialization in this world, we act accordingly. It is only when we engage in critical self-reflection and work with those who can help challenge our assumptions in healthy ways, that we have those glorious aha! moments that foster transformative learning and liberation.

These are the thoughts that are swirling around in my mind as I am trying to make sense of, and learn from Meghan Markle’s experiences (more to come in my next post), while examining what can be known and gleaned from someone’s decision to murder eight people, six of whom were Asian women. Here are my 7 Questions to support us in deepening our learning. Feel free to reframe them so that you may work through them for yourself: 

  1. Who was around them and what level of support did they have versus what kind of support did they need? 
  2. What were the stories they each were telling themselves about their value, their worthiness, their purpose? What lies were the most salient and what were the sources of those lies? 
  3. In their moments of decision, what added support would have helped them make a decision that would have supported their mental health and wellbeing? 
  4. If they could rewrite their Liberation stance based on what they know now, what would it be? 
  5. Moving forward, what might dismantling the oppressive thoughts, conversations and ways of being in their internal and external lives look like as they continue on their respective paths? 
  6. How are in what ways (if at all) will they engage the various wellbeing groups in their lives now? What will they need in order to be able to recognize which groups they are operating in with others (i.e. How will they know when they are being Champions, Passivists and/or Obstructionists)? 
  7. How will they break the guilt/shame cycle when they have that realization? What (if anything) will they do differently as a result of breaking that cycle?

These two stories seem so very different. They are different. Yet, they have a common denominator: White violence as a direct byproduct of white supremacy. 

Shout out to the adults who are supporting students with math. I know you cringed when you read the words “common denominator.” I pray your response to white supremacy and violence is met with even greater revulsion.

Just as the current vaccine for the coronavirus has elements of the virus itself (respect to Onesimus, the enslaved person who shared his knowledge about inoculation and to whom we should honor for what the U.S. uses as its immunization process), a cure can exist within the contagion. Our intentionality behind what we do, how we do it, and with whom we surround ourselves as we are moving towards our welbeing and liberation, can create a turn of events for the better, if we do not succumb to the damage.

Sending you thoughts of Love, Justice and Liberation in recognition of International Day for the Elimination of Racism #FightRacism Day.

In Solidarity,

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Source: Fuller, H. R., Ajrouch, K. J., & Antonucci, T. C. (2020). The Convoy Model and Later-Life Family Relationships. Journal of family theory & review12(2), 126–146. https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12376.

F*ck Your Bad Day

I am still sickened from the the news of the murders of 6 Asian women and 2 men by a 21-year old, disenfranchised white man this past Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia. Someone (who was taken alive by police) who claimed his murders were not based on race, but because he had a sex addiction. A spokesperson for the police department (also a white man) when describing the murderer indicated the the murderer “had a bad day.”

As a Black woman, I have known a few bad days in my time. Yet, I never went out and killed anyone to express my pain or as a cry for help. This kind of pass for white violence stems from the white supremacist heteronormative misogynistic capitalistic patriarchy that allows for such an asinine excuse (spoken by an ass) to permeate in our society.

Yes, keep working towards liberation AND know that the fight for liberation belongs to us all.

Here’s a piece I wrote to help me fully feel my rage about this heinous crime and others it represents:

Your excuses are so dependable 

As you show the world how expendable

Women of Color are.

So far 

you have had the wrong door

wrong day

wrong person 

wrong name. 

Yet, you have no restriction 

of blaming us for your 

privileged position:

He had a porn addiction.

He had a bad day.

They had the wrong apartment.

At least he stayed and prayed

…before he sprayed.

It has gotten way more than old 

as body after body after body grows cold

while families have to piece together

a Gofundme page for those you have slain

while your delusion, once again

earns you more pity than the lives taken

families forsaken 

while the news “circus” has your story 

on instant replay.

BIPOC Folx are beyond tired of the bullshit you relay.

Keep your manifestos.

Keep your watered down apologies.

And very much, fuck your bad day.

Fire Lit: The More Than Metaphors Podcast

As we “close out” Black History Month and welcome Women’s History Month, I am excited to announce my new podcast! I have been incubating this idea since summer 2019 with an anticipated launch of November 2019. By the time the holidays came in the U.S., I redirected my energy towards finishing out the rest of the year with a focus on my family and recommitting to new projects for 2020.

You don’t even have to say it…

For those of you who read my post “When Regret Teaches, Take Notes,” you already know that the lesson of waiting until I have everything in order, hit hard. Just as I tell my students and my clients, do not wait until you have everything “perfect.” Have a plan, absolutely. Do your research, without question. AND there will be times when you have to step out and trust that even if you do not have everything figured out now, opportunities, resources and people will greet you on your path (some call that taking a risk, others may say you’re stepping out on faith, while others call it stepping into the flow). So shine up those shoes, Dorothy and get to moving down that yellow brick road!

That is what I am doing right now, “easing on down the road” and I am looking forward to bringing you the podcast “More Than Metaphors.” Here’s the description:

“More Than Metaphors” is a virtual love space for those poetic and poetic-ish voices to examine the question: What happens when we find the courage to live our poetry out loud? A conversation led by Author, Educator, Entrepreneur and Poet Dr. Kecia Brown (“Dr. Kecia”); More Than Metaphors combines guest interviews and posts from Dr. Kecia’s blog which focuses on transformative learning, love, justice, and liberation. Each episode of this podcast will provide encouragement for leading more meaningful, spirited and poetic lives.

I want to thank my Sisterfriend, Author, Poet, Scholar and full-time Goddess, Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz for lighting a fire under me. She has been talking to me about all the things I can do to support the learning of others on a larger scale for quite some time now. The ideas sounded amazing…and time consuming. However, when you watch other people making the moves that you are “too tired” to make, a few things happen to you: 1) you become inspired, 2) you become afraid, or 3) you become a hater. Since I had been hanging out in the “afraid” category for a minute, I had two more choices. Since Yolie (as she is known by those close to her) has spoken into my spirit more times than I can count, being a part of her hateratti didn’t appeal to me. So, inspired and afraid is what we are working with for now.

I will be selecting a few posts from the blog to get us started. It would be great to hear from you on the ones that you want to see brought into the podcast! feel free to leave a comment below or email me directly: dr.kecia@drkeciab.com with your suggestions.

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In the meantime, enjoy my intro music created by Tim Moor.

Thank you all for your support! Let’s continue learning, thriving and moving towards liberation, together!

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How Dare You, Will Smith!

Welcome back! I pray you and your loved ones are healthy and safe. I also hope that you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day week! Some of you read my impromptu gift I sent out to everyone on Valentine’s Day. Like Love itself, that inspiring post is still available to you whenever you need it (I have read it a few times myself to get a little additional motivation). 

Speaking of love, we are sending love and resources to those in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and other states that have been hit by winter storm Uri. There are a number of mutual aid fund platforms collecting donations to support the hardest hit communities in these areas. Personally, I have donated to Feed The People DFW, led by Black & LatinX women. If you feel compelled to help out in some way, make sure you learn as much as you can before making a donation of any kind.


Now, I would like to share with you my latest learnings which involve me ending my “entanglement” with Will Smith…in my imagination.

Good Will

How it started (in my dreams)…

I had a dream about Will Smith. I have to be honest, me and Will have had a love thing going on in my dreams for decades. Not consistently. He only shows up when I am utterly disenchanted with my current, or in this case, future prospects. In this dream though, something had changed. He was not the usual fun-loving, daring, and sensual character he had always been in my dreams. Will had been through some things: Enter Jada. No actual shade to Mrs. Pinkett Smith (only nocturnal disrespect), but she never showed up in my dreams with Will.

Regardless, in this dream she and I were talking about what they had lived through in recent years. At some point, Will walked in looking worn and gave me the weakest ass hug: A hug that no one wants and only the jankiest of humans deserve. You have seen it before; The hug where the person thrusts their hip forward to serve as a block to their full being (maybe I am the only one that does it)? Yes, that hug. Plus, he gave me the pat-pat…patted me lightly on my shoulders to communicate to me, “There, there, Little Mama. You will get over us eventually. You have to move on because I’m not the same anymore.” 

…how it’s going (not so dreamy)

How dare you Will Smith! 

I have finally realized that Will is the surrogate for an actual person in my life. That person had essentially given me that weak send off virtually. He is both my forever and never at the same time. At some point, I have to let him go in my head. He is not available to me now. What is available and sustaining to me is my daughter’s love, our dog’s love, my family’s love and my love for myself. There is enough love around me to sustain and teach me how to love in healthy and restorative ways.

I am learning more each day to embrace that love and how best to turn it towards those who mean the most to me. So yes, I have to say goodbye to the Will in my life and that’s okay. I wish that person all the joy and laughter and sensual experiences that his dreams and real life can hold. It’s time for me to embrace what is really real. No more fantasies about what I wish and imposing those dreams on what is in order to make my actual relationships seem better than they actually are. That was one of the many dynamics that showed up in my relationship with my ex even before we were married. 

No Good Will

The man in my head and the man in our home were two very different people. There was always the possibility (and expectation) for change with the person in my head. The person in our home never got the memo and because I outwardly acted like the person in our home was in fact the person in my head (or some would say the person of my dreams), then he reaped some of those benefits…along with the frustrations when reality would set in. “These actions of yours are not inline with who you are in my head!” I would think, loudly. And so, I would act accordingly. I’ll just give this sage advice: Do not ever give someone you are dating your login credentials for your email account, then ask them to check your email for you. It is a really, really, REALLY bad idea (what were you thinking, 2Ex?). 

I sure did, Erykah Badu! I sure did!

It became very clear that I was in an unhealthy relationship, I finally had the courage to move on in the summer of 2008. I literally called Tyrone and moved all my stuff into my dearest little brother/friend’s home and lived with him in New Jersey as I worked on my plans. I began to plan how I would move back to California, acknowledging that I gave my long-distance relationship a shot, but it did not work out. Just as I was preparing to move back home, my ex-boyfriend/now ex-husband’s father died.

My ex’s father was very dear to me: A gruff working class older man of Irish ancestry, who valued hard work and hard working people more than anything in the world. Contrary to popular belief, I was closer to him than I was his son! He was the one that told 2Ex (my new name for my ex-husband) that “if you don’t marry her, you’re an idiot.” Yes, that was what fatherly advice from his generation sounded like. whenever 2Ex would upset me and I would question my better judgment, I would call and chat with his father to regain a glimmer of hope.

That glimmer of hope died in September of 2008. 

This man became like a father figure to me and having lost my own father at the age of 7 to stomach cancer, 2Ex’s father’s untimely passing was hard to take in. Even though 2Ex and I were in the process of going our separate ways, we had this weird dynamic (still do) of if the other person was in need, the other would always be there to help in some way, while still filled with all of the anger, disgust, distrust and jealousy of any normal high functioning toxic relationship. 

He told me he needed me, so I went back. 

We got married in 2009. We worked on getting a whole house built from 2008-2012, gave birth to a whole amazing child in 2010, made sure we got his mother in her dream home by 2012, the place where she died in January 2019. Earned a doctorate in 2012, built two businesses in 2013…all of it on the shoulders of two brokenhearted people who kept it all together when they should have been apart. And, we did it all with a smile on our faces and moments of laughter to conceal what we felt every waking morning. I am telling this story now because this is the hidden truth, not my having an emotional relationship with someone as my marriage was ending. No, I am telling this story because many people are having to create entire lives built on a foundation of pain, destructive tendencies, emotional abuse, self-deception, and self-abandonment, especially if kids or dependent others are involved.

And…

  1. What happens when death reminds you that tomorrow is not promised?
  2. Who have you shared your love with and why? Was it love or was it a love imposter: Toxic bond, obligation, dependency, fear of being alone, etc.?
  3. What unresolved resentments choke out any goodwill in your relationships faster than Deebo in the movie Friday (R.I.P. Thomas Duane “Tiny” Lister)? Name them.
  4. What self-crafted lies are you committed to upholding in order to save face in front of people who seem more invested in your unhappiness than your wellbeing?
  5. What impact, if any, does historical trauma play in your sustaining oppressive structures and ways of engaging in your relationships?
  6. If you were able to love fully (and we are all capable of doing so), how would that love be demonstrated to yourself and others around you?
  7. Who do you need to let go of in your mind and heart in order to make room for a healthy relationship with yourself and others?

Even during these times of distress, uncertainty, trauma, pain and loss, we can still uphold love in our lives. 

Sis, those incense fumes and all that lemon ginger tea has you all the way messed up! We are losing our minds out here*!?@#!

Whether personal or professional, whether long-distance via Zoom, in our physical living spaces, or even during disasters–Love fuels Liberation. And those two together can help fuel our possibilities. 

And to my very dear Fresh Prince I say: It is well. Go in good health, Will Smith.

I look forward to checking in with you again in 2 weeks! In the meantime, keep learning, keep thriving and keep moving towards liberation!

Peace & Blessings,


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My Valentine’s Gift to You

Coming in hot to you out of today’s journal entry!

you are important

May we reclaim this day set aside to celebrate romantic love, as a day to celebrate how much we have overcome in the face of everything that has attempted to destroy our ability to love. All of the hate, delusion, cowardice, complacency, nihilation, corruption, psychosis, neurosis, hypocrisy, rejection, micro and macro aggressions, and plain old unkindness and disrespect. You are still here! Despite and in spite of decisions that could have destroyed you or even the selection of partners that were (or are) undeserving of the exceptional love you / we have to give, you are still here and you are still loved. Regardless of who has tried to use you in the past or who may be plotting to use you in the future, you are still loved. 

Now is the time to own your love. All that “in spite of” love. That enduring love. That “I-waited-20-years-for-you-because-you-are-that” kind of love. Own your “I-have-been-through-the-gauntlet-of-attacks-and-got-my-mind-back” kind of love. Show out because you’re standing up to injustice with every fiber of your being with that love. You…up here representing those that others have tried to kill mentally, physically and spiritually; yet you are up here still standing like an Elton John remix. Look at you, you and your magnificence! Your power! Your resilience exists even when you don’t feel resilient at all! You are the most amazing being we h ave ever encountered and we love everything about you! 

You have so much ahead of you. Don’t get sidetracked by the naysayers or those who wish you and themselves the worst. See yourself fully even on those days when you wish you were never born. Yes, we all have those days; I know I have had them as an adult. Then, at that precise moment when I’m questioning the reason for my existence, the Lover and Creator of my life reminds me of my purpose by sending me you: My loved ones, my students, my clients, my neighbors, my Ministry.

And so, on this Valentine’s Day in the year after a year like no other, I wish you the love that you deserve. I wish you the love that you conjure in your mind and spirit that you dare not speak aloud. I wish you the love that continues to endure time, circumstance and space. May the love that brings you joy in the secret recesses of your mind and that reminds you that you are so much more than your titles, degrees, or other accolades could ever detail, continue to abide and give you strength. You are blessedly you… and that has always been enough! 

May you continue learning, thriving and moving towards liberation!

In Solidarity,

When Regret Teaches, Take Notes

Aside

The last two weeks, I have been meditating on the lessons that regret can provide. Like some of you, I have been engaged in a form of functional grief during this time of racial and political division paired with a pandemic that is generating more variants than the roles played by Eddie Murphy in any of his films (Coming Soon: Coming to America 2).

Part of my reflections on regret stem from the death of legendary actor and trailblazer, Ms. Cicely Tyson. I, like so many others have long admired the majestic ways of Ms. Tyson and her awareness of her power as a Black woman in an industry that is known for misogynoir both in front of and behind the camera.

The sadness I felt upon her passing was compounded by the fact that I missed an opportunity to work with Ms. Tyson due to my own self-doubt.

FEAR OF SUCCESS & FEAR OF FAILURE AT PLAY

In the early months of 2020, I spoke with an old friend about wanting to broaden the impact of my children’s book, The Love of 10,000. I remember telling him how powerful it would be to have THE Cicely Tyson narrate the poem with her divine precision. My friend, who happens to be in the entertainment industry not only gave me advice on how best to approach Ms. Tyson’s manager, he also gave me her manager’s email address. I had the golden egg right there in my WhatsApp account! That was in March. Two months later, my friend emailed me to follow up on my progress:

Receipts can be a painful reminder of self-sabotage.

I choked. Fear of Success and Fear of Failure came for me and I relented. Who was I to approach a woman of Ms. Tyson’s caliber? Even worse, what if she agreed to my project? Am I prepared for that kind of success given all of the transition I am just now settling into? I needed time to get my stuff together before I could approach Ms. Tyson. 

Sis, Ms. Cicely was well into her 90’s. How much time were you banking on here?!? 

Even Tami Roman couldn’t make sense of me dragging my feet. Image Source: VH1

What made my reflections on the situation even harder to stomach was listening to the interview she did with Gayle King. When Ms. Tyson mentioned that she felt like she still had work to do and that is why she was still here, I placed my hands over my face. 

Ms. Cicely Tyson’s final interview with Gayle King. Rest well, Queen. Source: Gayle King/CBS.

REGRET: A FORMIDABLE TEACHER

Please understand, I am not delusional in my thinking that this remarkable woman was tied to this plain because of my children’s book. I am sure Tyler Perry had at least five more projects slated for her. However, what if I had stepped forward into the dream I allowed myself to speak to someone who just happened to have a key to unlock a door?

Do you have any stories of regret versus risk and what have you learned from them? For me, I can recount situations where I truly regretted the outcomes (clearly not reaching out to Ms. Tyson is pretty high on my list). I also can relive those times I have taken a risk and was better for it. What I am going to encourage myself to do moving forward (and would love for you to try it out with me), is to use regret in a more concrete way in order to actualize my liberation and further embrace my purpose. Here are a few questions I would like for us to play with (you know you missed my 7 Questions!): 


  1. What are the stories I am telling myself about stepping into this opportunity? Are they my stories or stories passed on to me for safety’s sake (physical, psychological or both)? 
  2. Who do I have in my circle of support that can talk me off the Fear of Failure/Success ledge in the moments where my Inner Critic seems to be most convincing?
  3. What role, if any, does my spirituality play in me stepping into and preparing for opportunities outside of my comfort zone?
  4. Speaking of preparation, what role, if any, does perfectionism have in the emotional paralysis that occurs when I am preparing for a large-scaled opportunity?
  5. What have I learned, embodied and enabled in myself and those around me about taking risks and what needs to change/be dismantled (if anything) to accommodate opportunities that align with what I see as my purpose?
  6.  What are examples of living a life of regret that I can visualize in those moments of making the commitment to follow through on my goals that will shake me out of complacency?
  7. How can I use my story of regret to inspire others to have the courage to step out of their comfort zones (while relinquishing the shame associated with the experience)? 

In closing, I would like to leave you with the words of Ms. Cicely Tyson as she talks about the journey to writing her autobiography, Just As I Am:

Thank you Ms. Cicely for your lessons, spoken and unspoken.

Thank you Ms. Cicely for your lessons on Love, Peace and Liberation!

The Poem I Will Never Write

Periodically, I will post poetry and prose in order to process what is on my mind or heavy on my heart. You have been forewarned.

You will forever be that forbidden poem that I will never write, 

but whose words will dance and sing in my heart. 

I will go on to write many pieces, 

for that is what makes me feel connected to humanity. 

But that poem is sacred. 

That poem remembers me. 

That poem’s stanzas enliven me 

and causes blood to circulate faster, 

with more force and greater purpose. 

Yes, that poem reminds me of the purpose 

coursing through my veins! 

That poem acknowledges my personhood. 

That poem sees my mind, heart and spirit 

through tear-filled eyes and holds them with precision

between its smile and its laughter. 

The cadence of that poem I will never write 

will always inspire me to do my best, 

even when my best is shadowed by what will never be. 

That poem will always bring me butterflies of anticipation. 

Yes. Butterflies as if MJ and Marsha did a duet in Paradise. 

That intricate, serene flutter during a Jill-inspired Long Walk

on a crisp, clear Southern California winter day. 

The poem I will never write will always keep me grounded. 

That poem will always give me the strength to take risks, 

because no risk can match the weight of daring to write that poem. 

That poem with matchless intellect. 

That poem that exudes resilience in the face of destruction. 

There are those who may experience bits and pieces of that poem, 

but not one of them will ever recite that poem in its entirety. No. 

Only I have the full poem engraved on my heart.

That poem will always remain an inspirational piece 

for I will never release its passion into a world that aims to destroy it. 

And so, to the poem I will never write, 

in the spirit of Syd’s toast to your cousin, hip hop 

in the experience of Brown Sugar I say to you:

To the greatest poem I will never write, 

I will never regret not experiencing you in this life 

for it is you who will continue to hearten me.

To you, that poem I will never write 

I loved you then. 

I love you now. 

I will love you always. 

A New-ish Day

Happy 2021 to you! I pray that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe.

Whew! Am I glad I took a few weeks off to process 2020, because it was starting to look like 2021 was coming through with some of that “hold my coat” energy! The Georgia Dream followed immediately by the Capitol Conundrum were so disorienting that it made this amazing artist turn her songwriting gift to a plea for the extraterrestrials to do a fly-by and take her away from this planet that we are destroying 

You have to admit, it is a catchy tune.

Processing the Destruction

After a number of social media posts, and conversations with friends, families and colleagues processing the insurrection, I began to resist the urge to blame Time for the chaos we humans have created. Yes, people are responsible for the decisions that have led to the destructive, chaotic, psychotic, oppressive conditions we are living in. The Earth and Time are not responsible for the lies we tell ourselves and others to create systems of mental, physical, spiritual, and economic destruction. We all have played a part in the destruction we are seeing–and yes, some of us are much more responsible for the destruction than others.

I am not going to delve into the destruction of January 6th. There has been and continues to be enough commentary and indoctrination that the news cycles are carefully disseminating. Plus, as someone who intimately understands the inverse relationship of Black joy to White rage/disenchantment that exists in dysfunctional relationships, I made a conscious decision to stay firmly planted in the joy of celebrating the wins in Georgia and preparing for the Inauguration. 

“She Leads, She Inspires, She Slays” Meredith Koop, Stylist for Forever First Lady Michelle Obama

Maybe you have seen this inverse relationship play out at work, in the community or even in families: Whenever one person is living their best life, the other person seems to be on the brink of ruin? Yes, that is one of the dynamics that play out in dysfunctional/delusional dependent relationships. We had a chance to watch it play out while a group of adults worked towards their Spider-Man club badges scaling up the side of the nation’s Capitol, while others were finding ways to hold virtual galas.

Leading Ourselves In Order to Dismantle Delusion

As I reflect on these events, I have been focusing on how, or in what ways leadership can play a part in moving our country forward, specifically Conscious Leadership, Self-Leadership and Transformational Leadership.

I had the pleasure of being a part of a podcast discussion recently (Available on Apple podcast and Spotify) where I talked about…well, everything. However I mostly elucidated on some of what I meant in my last post around reclamation resistance. I also talked about how white supremacist delusion is antithetical (or at least it should be) to conscious leadership.

If we are truly focused on being spiritual and spirited leaders, we cannot concurrently champion those ways of being and doing that are spiritually destructive. Essentially what I am saying is if we are going to be followers of [insert a spiritual Teacher, or practice], then we cannot be followers and agents of oppression. Said another way: If we are clear that the flesh is “temporal and the spirit is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18), then divesting from systems of oppression would be an active part of our practice. 

The Battle (Fatigue) is Real

As for those who are knowingly or unknowingly (with a wink) contributing to racial/oppression battle fatigue, they need to focus on cultivating authentic and meaningful relationships and stop making “The Work” they need to be doing so transactional. An example I gave is when you are in an intimate, loving, nurturing and mutual relationship (so reciprocity has to be actualized in the relationship), you care about how that person is doing. You are tuned into their needs AND what they have in their reserve. You have a sense of when they are depleted and that depletion matters to you and vice versa. Again, that is when you are tuned in. 

Part of the problem is The Work has become traumatically transactional. Those of the dominant culture are not tuned in and have allowed themselves to be tuned out for more than 400. Now that white sisters and brothers are seeing that their survival is dependent on those people forced into the margins, they want a Cliff Notes-like summary on the experiences of marginalized communities. They give the perception that they are only working to understand others and their experiences to earn their “Certificate of Wokeness” and they want to earn it now, “chop-chop!

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

So please, don’t engage with others with your transactional need to know about what it is like to be a Black Woman from the ‘hood, when you already know the atrocities Black people have faced in this world. If you come to me with your NEED to know in order to check off your Woke Box, I’m going to quote blessed brother James Baldwin and tell you quite simply “I am not your negro” and finish sipping on my homemade Decaf Vanilla Chai. I am not at your service. I am here to serve my Creator and love on others and receive love in return. Periodt.

Oppressed people do not have to ask about what it is like to be part of the dominant culture. Our study of whiteness came and comes as part of our survival of the traumatically interdependent nature of our relationship(s)…and of course colonization. I recommend reading any of the works by Psychoanalyst and Political Philosopher, Frantz Fanon to gain a better understanding of these dynamics. 

Analogy: Power and Abuse

To use an analogy that may illustrate the sociopolitical dynamics, I have heard the relationship of the dominant culture and exploited communities being likened to that of the abuser-abused. I think it is important to think critically about that comparison for its applicability. For instance, those who have been abused learn to anticipate the ways of their abuser, because forecasting the ways of the abuser is a trauma response and doing so keeps them safe (or safe-ish). Sounds familiar?

Considering the abuser, in order for them to end their dependence on the power gained from abusing others, they will need to live through some disorienting dilemmas. They will need to realize they are not alone in their identity as an abuser, critically examine the identity built (and awarded) for abusing others, and so on. If what I am listing sounds a bit like the work done in Alcoholics Anonymous, great. That connection is intentional. I am also directly connecting the journey towards becoming more aware, more humane and more just (what I believe the real Work should be) to what we in the adult learning and leadership community refer to as Transformative Learning theory developed by the late scholar, Jack Mezirow. Along with the video I have shared with you, here are Mezirow’s 10 Phases of Perspective Transformation:

  1. Disorienting dilemma
  2. Self Examination
  3. Critical assessment of role assumptions
  4. Recognizing that you are not alone
  5. Exploring options for new ways of acting
  6. Building competency in new role(s)
  7. Planning a course of action
  8. Acquiring knowledge and skills for new role
  9. Trying out new roles and assessing feedback
  10. Reintegration

Take some time when you can to research Transformative Learning theory online. It is a pragmatic theory and may prove useful as you are navigating the various realities you are experiencing.

Back to the lecture at hand…” (To quote the misogynoir of “Ain’t Nuthin’ But a G Thang” by Snoop and Dr. Dre)

Back to dismantling white supremacist delusion…

Bernie and those mittens have shown up everywhere!

If we are going to move forward as a nation, The Work needs to be done to dismantle our relationship, dependency and identities formed through white supremacist delusion as well as:

  • oppression of women birthed from delusion 
  • oppression based on SES birthed from delusion 
  • oppression of those persons with disabilities birthed from delusion 
  • oppression of people in the LGBTQIA+ community birthed from delusion 
  • oppression of people who are gender nonconforming/gender expansive birthed from delusion 
  • oppression based on religion birthed from delusion 
  • oppression based on language birthed from delusion 
  • oppression based on immigration status birthed from delusion 

You get the picture. Add any group of people who have been oppressed as a way to sustain the destructive, delusional dependence of the superiority narrative to maintain power. 

Opportunity Knocks Hard

We have an opportunity for transformative learning of epic proportion in this country. January 20, 2021 is proof of that opportunity:

As I took this time of rest to reflect and prepare for the road ahead, I am inspired by the possibilities and the power that are bubbling up around the country. I am not naive or ignoring the undercurrent of rage and fear that exists. To the contrary, what I am choosing is to not go into caretaking or placating mode, thus hindering this opportunity for a transformative learning experience.  

Plus, I have canceled my subscription to enable destructive behaviors in others. I am not your enabler, nor am I your “Lives of the Oppressed” tour guide. Like Vanessa Williams sang, we all have “work to do” (slurps tea unapologetically). Mmmmm, tastes like joy!

Love, Justice and Liberation (With extra caramel)!

Goodbye, 2020…Please be Gentle, 2021!

For those who celebrate Christmas, I hope you found a creative and safe way to celebrate the holiday with your loved ones! Although this year required some strategy, we have amazing ways of figuring out how to make celebrations happen no matter the circumstances. Yes, we can make the miraculous happen when we set our minds to it.

Revisiting Miracles

Speaking of “the miraculous,” there are times I am led to write about issues and ideas that may not immediately resonate with me. Last week’s post was one of those times. Writing about Miracles during a dual pandemic and when my daughter is 3,000 miles away on holiday with her father, doth not make for a miraculous morn. Quite frankly, my mood and what I was inspired to write last week were at odds. However what I learned in real time is that when it comes to our spiritual responsibilities, our feelings have little bearing on what already exists (regardless of whether we can see it with our physical eyes or not). Shortly after I finished writing last week’s post, I received two testimonies of actual miracles in the lives of people I know. One was a friend whose entire family came down with COVID, with her husband battling for his life due to underlying health conditions.

Her story of being told that her husband “had a 50% chance of surviving” then being informed that she should do her best to take care of him at home due to the volume of patients at the hospital, was unbearable. However, she did it and not only fought for his life with some cultural remedies from her family, she fought with all of the love she had in her. You see, both their wedding anniversary and his birthday were quickly approaching and even though her feelings questioned whether he would see either of those significant dates, her spirit focused beyond the virus. With oxygen levels once down in the low 50’s, he now has oxygen levels in the low to mid 90’s (out of 100). This is not a story to shame any person or family that lost their loved one(s) by saying all they needed to do in order to save them from this horrible virus was to get their “Care Bear Stare” on. Not hardly. I am sharing this story as a reminder that even in the face of oppressive circumstances, miracles still happen and that love and miracles go hand-in-hand.

The other story came from a friend who unexpectedly dropped by to leave Christmas gifts for me and my daughter. She came by only moments after I finished ugly crying with my friend who told me about her husband’s health. I apologized for looking like a boiling hot mess and shared with her how my pity party was interrupted by a love story. She told me she completely understood and went on to share with me about how her elderly father, who had been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, finally had the life-saving surgery. She spoke about the impact the wait and the uncertainty had on their family’s wellbeing and how she is thankful that his body is accepting the new organ with no complications.

So instead of a toast, we cried to that.

Kecia, these stories are moving AND at the same time are kind of depressing. We know folks have had a helluva year. Sis, 2020 has royally sucked! BTW, I still can’t stand you for that post from earlier this year talking about 2020 “is an amazing year” and it is here to teach us and bring out the best in us! GTFOHWTS! You better have something good on the inspiration tip to make up for it…you know the whole peace, love, Soul Train vibe!

Redefine. Reclaim. Resist. 

What I am talking about is, yes, we need to dismantle oppression. Period (or “Periodt” depending on your spelling/pronunciation preference). If we take a critical eye to the stories I shared, we can have a whole discussion focused on oppression’s ugly hold given the disproportionate impact coronavirus is having in the Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, disparate care based on race and socioeconomic status, our overworked essential workers, the superwoman complex that calls for Women of Color to take care of sick loved ones as they are attempting to navigate their own wellness and wellbeing (oft times neglecting themselves in the process), etc. Oh yes, we can problematize everything I shared here today. We can also examine and learn from the good. Let me take that back…not just examine it, relish in it, just for a moment. 

No matter what hell was unleashed or elucidated in our lives this year (some of us were navigating some hefty life lessons prior to 2020), we can still reclaim what is innately ours…our humanity through love.

As we prepare/brace ourselves for 2021, I encourage you to explore reclamation resistance. I borrow this way of being from my Black and Indigenous family. Reclamation resistance is a way to regain ‘“psychic equilibrium’ created by invisibility and misrepresentation,” as academician A. Rafik Mohamed states in his book Black Men on the Blacktop: Basketball & the Politics of Race. Oppression and chaos diminishes us. However, what happens when we reclaim our full personhood through love? Personally, I have been engaging in my own reclamation by way of my 3-years (and counting) celibacy journey.

Sis, T.M.I.! T. M.I.! Your readers don’t need to know your business like that!!! Oh Lord! Thank God your mother doesn’t have internet access!

Look, I am an almost 50-years old divorcee, who had a child some 10 years ago…and it was NOT the Immaculate Conception. My ex-husband was not named Joseph and the closest I get to “Mary” is my mother’s middle name “Marie.” Plus, I am a poet and a die-hard Prince fan. Uh duh.

In a time when young Women of Color are asserting and fully embracing their sexuality (W.A.P. anyone?), I honor myself by also reclaiming my being through love. Loving ourselves, seeing ourselves, defining ourselves, and relishing in the power of our own being (and ownership of our “Yeses’ and “No’s”) are forms of resistance, freedom, and self-love that we can declare in a world that is actively trying to silence and erase us.

If you haven’t caught on yet, there will ALWAYS be a Black woman in the center of my posts.

Since this will be my last post for a few weeks, I want to leave you with 7 questions as you consider the possibilities to come in 2021:

  1. Whose definition of me do I hold as true and why?
  2. What ways of being have I adopted in order to make others feel comfortable and why?
  3. How, or in what ways have I used silence to dishonor myself or those I love, if at all?
  4. Outside of society’s definition of who they think I am, who am I, really?
  5. What do I love about myself? Like, really, REALLY love?
  6. Which parts of myself/my humanity do I need to reclaim?
  7. Given everything I have witnessed in 2020, how will I re-member (put together again) and recommit to loving myself, loved ones, and communities I hold dear?

Thank you all for being a part of my learning experience this past year! Please feel free to email me or visit my blog and post your comments. In addition, feel free to forward this post to anyone who may find it useful.

Peace, Love and Liberation!

Out of Mayhem, Miracles

In this season when those of us who seek to follow the teachings of Jesus are symbolically celebrating the miracle of his birth (Yes, I already know scholars have proven that Jesus was not born in December–don’t come for me), I would like to have you ponder with me about our receptivity to Miracles.

I always thought the duet by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey was called “There Can be Miracles.” Oops. Source: YouTube.

Not simply acknowledging the miracles that exist in our respective lives, but how, or in what ways we are in tune with ourselves, our community, the God/universe in order to be vehicles for miracles to travel throughout the world around us.

Kecia, you might be making some folks uncomfortable with this talk about “Miracles.”  Hurry up and tell them what you mean before they unsubscribe (angry eye roll inserted here)! 

My Internal Critic is not only harsh, but she’s incredibly impatient. 

That is why I have learned to have words of affirmation at the ready to help me regain my emotional and spiritual equilibrium. Today, I share with you the wisdom of the miraculous and regal Cicely Tyson who celebrated her 96th birthday on December 19th (2 videos-click arrow on right to advance):

Ms. Cicely Tyson: 96-years young and still the epitome of elegance! Source: Netflix on Instagram – @Strongblacklead

In lieu of my usual reflection prompts, I will leave us with 7 descriptions of miracles that I selected from the book A Course in Miracles recorded by Drs. Helen Schuchman and Bill Thetford . Please note: There are far more than 7 descriptions/principles in the chapter, The Meaning of Miracles. I chose these 7 as they thematically resonated with me given our transformative learning journey together (Yes, you all are “journeying” with me):  

  1. Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle (T-1.I.3) .
  1. Prayer is the medium of miracles. It is a means of communication of the created with the Creator. Through prayer love is received, and through miracles love is expressed (T-1.I.11).
  1. Miracles are natural signs of forgiveness. Through miracles you accept God’s forgiveness by extending it to others (T-1.I.21).
  1. Miracles honor you because you are lovable. They dispel illusions about yourself and perceive the light in you. They thus atone for your errors by freeing you from your nightmares. By releasing your mind from the imprisonment of your illusions, they restore your sanity (T-1.I.33).
  1. A major contribution of miracles is their strength in releasing you from your false sense of isolation, deprivation and lack (T-1.I.42).
  1. Miracles are healing because they supply a lack; they are performed by those who temporarily have more for those who temporarily have less (T-1.I.8).
  1. A miracle is never lost. It may touch many people you have not even met, and produce undreamed of changes in situations of which you are not even aware (T-1.I.45).

Even with 2020 being the longest 93-month known to humanity (Seriously, 2019 & 2020 have been the longest years of my life),  I still believe, have witnessed, and am grateful for miracles. We. Are. Miracles! Always remember: There is someone waiting to experience you in a miraculous way. Allow it.

May you and your loved ones, no matter how near or far they may be, bask in miracles this holiday season.

Peace, Love and Lberation,