Love, tho.

Just 4 days before Election Day. This image is my last reminder/plea to you to vote [Image reads: VOTE! We Died for This]. Please be safe in all the ways you must enact safety during this election season.

Given everything going on in our world, I thought I would make a slight departure in this week’s post. I want to examine some of the positive things that still exist in our COVID-world. So today, I am going to examine Love.

How are you going to go from telling people to be safe during an election that is riddled with white supremacist, zenophobic, hate-filled rhetoric AND practices, to wanting to talk about Love, Sis? HOW?!?

I am going to focus on Love because as a Poet, it is a bonafide job requirement. So sit back on this Halloween-eve, pause from all your Zoom-ing and explore with me.


A former student and a dear friend of mine got married last Saturday. She and her partner have been together for 18 years and have seen each other through countless life experiences, including surviving breast cancer. She called me the Friday before her wedding as she was rounding the corner into Bridezilla-mode.  She hadn’t quite gotten there yet, but you could hear in her voice that if pressures continued to mount, we would have a full on Bridezilla moment on our hands.

I was glad she called me when she did. I was in a really good place in my mindspirit because I just had a great call with one of my clients only moments prior. In addition, I was still celebrating my talk for the University of San Diego’s virtual Homecoming event. The panel discussion was entitled, “Living Beyond the Limits: Stories of Success and Opportunities.”

“Beyond the Limits: Stories of Success & Opportunity.” Video courtesy of the University of San Diego’s Office of Alumni Relations. The 3rd speaker is my favorite!

All four panelists told stories of not only resilience, but also times when we have had to stand against conventional ways of operating to make change for the better in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. This way of rejecting old societal scripts of relationships and building anew was also the case for my dear friend who was preparing for her wedding. 

During our call, I asked her to talk about what works well in her relationship as a way to have her refocus her energy away from the wedding dress issue she was attempting to fix (trying to solve any problem when you are highly frustrated is rarely optimal). Something my friend said made me very curious. She began reflecting on a number of experiences and said that her relationship with her partner has never been hard. She mentioned how she would often hear those around her say that relationships are hard/hard work. She pushed back on that idea and said that her relationship with her mate has been one of the least challenging areas in her life.  She began to talk about who he was to her, how he was with her and how they worked as a couple. Then she dropped this gem on me  “Kecia, he answers the call I never have to make.”  

“You said what now?” was the thought that ran through my head when she said that statement. Instead of asking the question in that way, I asked her to give me  an example of what that statement looked like in their relationship. She told me a beautiful story about how the words she chose to describe her relationship was a literal description.

She told me about a time when she was battling cancer and had grown violently ill as she was driving alone during a trip for work and had to be rushed to the hospital.A time when she was battling the cancer in her body and had grown violently ill as she was driving alone during a trip for work and had to be rushed to the hospital. Without anyone notifying her partner or the use of cell phone tracking, he met her at the hospital because “he felt something wasn’t right, he knew where I was heading, he knew what I was dealing with and when he didn’t hear from me he got worried. The doctors came to me and said, ‘Miss, there is a man here to see you.’’’ At that point she turned to find it was her partner! Wow! Talk about a bond!

While I could tell she had mentally and spiritually gone back to that moment when he showed up at the hospital for her without her having to call him,  I told her to step away from her wedding dress and to sit in gratitude for what they had. I told her that I appreciated what she shared about how relationships don’t have to be hard because life already was challenging enough. Even when you are in a good place in your life, have a partner where nurturing each others wellbeing is a thing, are in the right role in your life and you’re doing what feeds your soul, challenges still occur. Yet your energy and ways of coping are very different when your internal world is in alignment. Unfortunately, some of us have been encouraged by well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) people in our lives to live completely out of alignment and create Trauma Bonds that impersonate Love.    

Wait! That’s what you’re supposed to do as an adult: Work hard, have hard relationships, handle hard problems and eat hard food (ok that last one is optional, but you understand where I am going here). Said another way, we have resigned to the societal and generational toxicity that work, relationships, life in general is supposed to be traumatic and oppressive. 

As we are in the process of re-imagining and redesigning our society, and we are blessed to have a generation around us that is not only questioning EV-ERY-THING, they are also working towards dismantling structures that are antiquated, destructive and downright unhealthy; I would love for you to ponder with me about the messages we have received about Love and Happiness (Not the Al Green song, though). 

I say this often and will continue to do so; I am in no way shape or form discounting the very real forms of oppression that exist around and within us. In spite and despite all of the hate, and man-made barriers to health, wealth and liberation, what would happen if we were committed to re-imagining everything…especially our loving relationships with others?

Why must suffering be the litmus test to so many parts of our lives? I know from my own religious upbringing in Christianity, that Jesus’ suffering on the cross is a critical part of our doctrine. Thankfully, I have a mother who could rival any religious scholar and she often points out that most people only focus on the suffering that occurred on our behalf. However, there was a point where the suffering ended and the REAL miracle, what Christians call The Resurrection–the transformation that came after the suffering was done and the Promise was fulfilled. 

Do you feel like you are fulfilling your promise in your life and in your relationships? Here are a few more questions for us to consider as we head into the weekend:

  • (Since tomorrow is Halloween) What, if anything, scares me about Love?
  • What are some of the trauma scripts that I have been taught related to Love?
  • Am I able to identify when I am acting from trauma that is masking as Love? 
  • How or in what ways am I committed to disrupting and dismantling trauma bonds in myself and/or supporting that work in others around me?
  • Have I found ways to show genuine love at work, at home and in my community during 2020? 
  • What am I committed to doing in 2021 to bring love more fully into my interactions with myself and others?

This lesson is a BIG one for me and one I am still working through, especially as a mother who wants her daughter to live a far more liberated life filled with love and far less trauma connected to it. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Feel free to comment on this post or email me and tell me your thoughts about this Love thang.

Congratulations, Tiffany! BTW, thank you for letting me help you create a playlist for your special day! I love you and wish you and your beloved a love so powerful that its force rivals any waterfall (inside joke). 

Love, Justice & Liberation

Justice First

Recapping everything that has occurred since my last post seems futile. It almost feels as if the character Thanos from the Avengers is snapping his fingers, however his fingers are wet so he just keeps snapping because he’s not getting the full effect. We’re not seeing a loss of half of humanity. Yet, with every inaudible snap there is more loss and more injustice to dismantle. 

Supreme Court Justice and voice for justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, died on September 18th. Five days later, Attorney General Daniel Cameron in Louisville, Kentucky delivered another blow to justice: Not one of the 3 officers responsible for the death of Breonna Taylor would be charged with her murder. Breonnna Taylor was a First Responder who was asleep in her home when officers tore through her home shooting, looking for someone they already had in custody. One officer was indicted on first-degree wanton endangerment charges; he was accused of blindly firing shots that went through Breonna Taylor’s home and penetrated the walls of a neighbor’s apartment.

If the walls could talk, they would say Breonna deserves justice. They would manage just fine with some stucco and a good paint job.

Devastation, heartbreak, hopelessness and betrayal encapsulate only a few of the feelings of grief expressed as Daniel Cameron, a Black man by birth, regurgitated the decision for the world to hear. Calls for his resignation and cancellation were swift, given his affiliation with those who have a proven record of activating injustice against the Black community specifically and communities of color in general. Personally, I was grappling with how I was going to explain this decision to my 10-year old daughter who had just returned home from being with her father on the East Coast for a month. In a world that has been abundantly clear what “they” think about us (that Black Lives do not Matter and are detested, defiled and are expendable); I, like so many grown-ups are trying to turn the Truth Narrative volume up even louder in order to drown out all that hate noise. Black Lives Matter. They always have and they always will.

Something else I was wrestling with is how I too have unintentionally caused harm to my own community in the form of seeking solidarity as a form of justice. Or working to have Black Folx included in organizations and institutions that I know full well are so toxic that you can feel your humanity draining from you when you step through the door. No, I have never done a D. Cameron. However, I have inadvertently done damage.

Sis, you actually gon’ put that in writing for people to read? Are you trying not to work again or…?

I have always intended for my blog to be about love and liberation. Part of that goal is realized by excavating how and what we learn, challenging unhealthy thoughts and actions, while leading ourselves and others out of oppression and into liberation, both personally and professionally. You know, the stuff our Ancestors fought and died for and want for their descendants. So yes, this requires me being honest with you AFTER I have been honest with myself, because we know that substantive healing happens in community with others. 

So yeah, I messed up during what I will call my “Emergence from the Sunken Place:” 1 Part leaving a toxic relationship and 1 Part re-learning that Justice, true Justice is the foundation of DEI work.

Justice first.

Once, I thought I was being useful by trying to help bring Black and Brown students to work together in solidarity to combat White Supremacist Delusions (see @sonyareneetaylor on IG for her brilliant views on W.S.D.). I was a part of solidarity work during my time at USD where we conducted these educative, cathartic and life changing experiences with a diverse group of student leaders called Human Relations Workshops (HRWs). They were dope! Surely bringing these students leaders together after a botched student election to re-imagine leadership and liberation on this campus would be just what the institution needed, right? 

Crash and burn. I learned that before solidarity can ever be truly realized, there must be…

Justice first.

The 2nd time came when I was asked to support a department-wide conversation examining the impact of Anti-Black racism perpetuated by the department and the institution at-large. Due to my strong familiarity with the institution (my way of qualifying that I intimately know the pain caused to Black minds, bodies and spirits by said institution), I was slow to re-injure Black community members on that campus by talking with them first about their pain. “I know their pain and I know it is valid. Let’s get to work so we can make sure they are heard and give the organization their marching orders. The department needs to get busy in order to transform the experiences of Black community members, which will also make a better living/learning/working experience for everyone else.”  

Yes, I said that *bleep* out loud.

Add to my decision to not talk with members of the Black community being a single mom and being strapped for time, you can imagine the reception during the community discussion. 

Sidebar: Something I tell all of my emerging and seasoned leaders to make time for are Listening Tours. “Listening tours are not about you” I say. “They are all about you making space for those who have been voiceless, they must be heard and seen.” Listening, seeing, and loving on others is a form of…

Justice first.

Yes you guessed it, that discussion was cringe. Luckily, the Associate I had working with me was so amazing that she was able to create a brave space for the community that was in real pain, while I was able to observe the leadership to provide next steps to lead the department into the new millennium.

Breonna, your life and dreams were stolen from you. You would have been an amazing nurse, Sis. We will continue to fight for what was rightfully yours. #JusticeforBreonnaTaylor #JusticeFirst. | Image: Family of Breonna Taylor, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Back in my early 30’s, I remember being reprimanded for providing too much support to Black students on a university campus (I kid you not) and not providing enough support to our Asian/Asian American students. My supervisor at the time was someone who identified as a woman of Asian/Pacific Islander heritage. She led an office that was designed to support students from various cultural backgrounds. I recall a particularly contentious meeting where she informed me that there were “places for people like me” whose primary focus was supporting Black students.

“Word?” I thought. “There’s a place for people like you who have a problem with people like me. It is very, very, VERY hot there. Let me help you pack a sack lunch for the ride.”

I eventually quit that job.

We all have our biases. And, if our biases get in the way of justice for those who experience the most extreme forms of injustice, then we have to rethink our relationship to social justice, possibly time for a new line of work. As The Notorious B.I.G. astutely pointed out “UPS is hiring.” Go do that; don’t call yourself a social justice activist if you are not about…

Justice first.

To be clear, my goal in this post is not to try and garner sympathy. I have sown enough good seed in my community during the past 3+ decades that I haven’t been cancelled. Maybe I was on a “Cultural Time Out.” Nonetheless, my goal is to have you, the reader, think critically and honestly about ways that you may have unintentionally and/or intentionally worked against justice: Justice within your own family, community, places of worship, work environments, the gas station…wherever. A few questions you may consider asking yourself:

  • Do I know what justice is for myself? My community? Those communities different than my own?
  • Do I know what injustice looks like for the various communities around me?
  • What is hindering me from being able to actively hear, understand, appreciate and bridge the Justice Gap for those who may not be empowered or privileged in areas where I have power and privilege?
  • What stories have I been taught about what might happen if a particular group receives justice?
  • Am I doing true justice work, or am I engaging in covert-oppression exercises for those who have historically been in power?
  • If I am really about that Justice Life, am I learning and doing more to support the work that needs to be done?

One of my favorite quotes by Dr. Cornel West (that I often transpose) is “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Justice is still calling out too many names of loved ones whose lives have been taken, unjustly. #JusticeforBreonnaTaylor #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd #JusticeforTooManytoName #JusticeforReal #JusticeFirst.

Voting Resources: 

  • Check your state and local election sites for registration deadlines and voting details. 
  • There are a number of states that offer ballot tracking technology