Do you know how much power your story holds?

Happy Sunday!

If you are someone who is into celebrating holidays, October 10th is the observance of the following:

  • World Mental Wellness Day
  • World Homeless [Awareness] Day
  • Pastor Appreciation Day
  • National Hug-A-Drummer Day (Who knew?)
  • National Handbag Day
  • National Cake Decorating Day

Regardless of whether you recognize any of these holidays/causes/days of appreciation, I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe today and always.

Today’s message is likely the shortest I’ve ever written to you.

Ummm, didn’t you say that about a previous newsletter? Whatever, I’ll let you slide today.

As always, my Inner Critic with the raw-uncut feedback.

Our Stories Are Powerful. Period.

I released the last interview of the first season of my podcast, “More Than Metaphors” last week. The conversation was with a college friend of mine who has gone on to do tremendous things, which includes being a father and husband. Some of what he shared was expected given what I knew/know of him. However, a few stories he told gave me pause and had me challenge some major assumptions I had about him and his work. His story also helped me challenge a few assumptions I had about myself.

In this conversation, “Weekend Philosopher,” Husband, Girl Dad (times 4), and NASA Astronaut, Navy Commander, Victor J. Glover, Jr. reflects on the various lessons he has learned from his elders and contemporaries. He also shares the inspiring exchange between his younger self and the person he is now that has helped him “propel” his career, as well as support the “launch” of his firstborn child into college.
 

Since I am regaining my inquisitive nature (Read: I have gotten my nosy back), I found I was left with more questions that I wished I asked during our chat. Then it dawned on me: Isn’t that what the cycle of discovery/self-discovery is supposed to do? Lead us to more questions and more discoveries?

That said, I would like to provide you with the questions I usually ask my guests. Feel free to have fun with them and answer them as if you were a guest on the podcast (you never know…). For those who have been a guest on the podcast previously, feel free to revisit the questions to see how, or in what ways (if at all) your responses have changed.


7-Questions: The Power of Your Story: The Interview

1) Tell us about yourself. What do you do and why you do all that you do?

2) What have been your biggest lessons? What have been some of the best and worst pieces of advice you have received?

3) Could you talk a bit about what grounds you/reconnects you to your humanity? What are some of the lessons you would like to share with our next generation leaders as they are looking to change the world?

4) What have been some of your “Aha!” “Oh-Yes” and/or “Wait-What?” Moments you have experienced as you support others?

5) The BIG Question - As you know, the purpose of this podcast is to explore how, or in what ways has poetry/the power of words helped people find the courage to live their “poetry” out loud (poetry in all of its many forms). With that said, what piece of writing/words of encouragement/lyric would you like to share? or Do you have a particular poem, quote or a song that motivates you or gets you in “The Zone?”

6) Given everything you have experienced, what words of encouragement would you give to your younger self as you grappled with all of the feelings, experiences, concerns, expectations you may have been balancing at the time?

7) What do you think that same young person would say to the person you are now about everything you have accomplished and are looking to accomplish?

Do you have any idea of how much power your story holds? Your story may be just what someone needs to hear to get through a trying time, go to the next level, or allow themselves to dream again.

And maybe that person is you.

Sending you thoughts of love, justice and liberation!

In Solidarity.

Poem: The Me of Now

I am becoming more and more clear on who I am becoming.
This means I have to be patient with others 
as they shift their understanding of who I am.
This time is not a journey back to me anymore.
It is me being introduced to my new self.
The Me of Now.

The Me of Now is comfortable with the way 
she wears her brand of womxnhood.
The Me of Now gets excited when she respects her own boundaries
and demonstrates to others how to respect them as well.
The Me of Now gets downright giddy each time we say “No” 
in all of the splendiferous ways we are learning to say it.

The Me of Now takes responsibility for the hurt she has caused
while simultaneously holding others accountable for their actions 
(versus self-blaming or shaming others).
The Me of Now finally understands that while 
“Hurt people, hurt people,” that 
“Healing people are hurt people working towards a do-over,”
so compassion for self and others is crucial.

The Me of Now is still a bit clunky and shaky, 
like the legs of a baby colt.
However, the Me of Now is becoming more steady.
More focused.
More ready.
More available to Loving Guidance 
during the next part of this journey.

I see you, Me of Now.
Welcome Home.

A Word of Gratitude: From You to You

Can you believe that July is almost over! Before you know it, it will be 2022 (hopefully it won’t take any notes from 2020 & 2021)!

So before there are any more surprises, let me jump into my reflections for this week:

I have been thinking about what I learned  from my three-part conversation with educator, entrepreneur, and “space curator,” Alisa France. During her interview, Alisa reflected not only on the professional decision made by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones; she also talked about a workplace trauma that showed up in how she engaged and performed in future roles (career trauma) and how she has made peace with it.

Your Majesty: Nikole Hannah-Jones pictured here. Image Credit: nikolehannahjones.com | John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation | Copyright: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

It has been a few weeks since we recorded Episode 19 and I am still reflecting on what Alisa’s story has inspired in me on a personal level. Something that immediately comes to mind is that we can (and often do) continue to make great strides while still making sense of painful situations that happened in our past. 

As functioning adults with families and other responsibilities, we don’t always get the opportunity to sit, reflect, process, gain support, question our thoughts and destructive patterns, etc. We just keep on going like the Energizer Bunny (even that rabbit ran out of energy at some point). 

Processing past traumas takes time. Whether we are talking about personal  trauma, professional trauma or both. Here is a personal example of how better understanding our experiences can provide an opportunity for us to become better advocates for ourselves (and others).


I recently had a great session with a therapist that afforded me an opportunity to pause as I move forward in this next phase of my personal development journey. The therapist asked me about my earliest recollection of a particular trauma I want to dismantle in my family (and for the generations to come). I could not recall the origin of the trauma at that moment, so I interrogated myself as I drove home from my session. Not only did thinking back to the first time I experienced that specific trauma help me see the patterns created from that experience; it also helped me uncover an aversion and consequently, my reaction when people have something difficult to tell me (or even an otherwise pleasant surprise) and are working out how to say it to me while I am in front of them (I am sure most people feel weirded out in those moments, but I digress). To this day, I cannot stand when someone has something difficult to share with me and they do that awful pregnant pause as they gather their words.

“Oh dear God! Spit it out, will you? Rip the damn bandage off already!”

Yes, Nicey Nash! Hurry up and cut to the chase, please!

I realized that my reaction stems from my childhood and the day I was told my father had died. Understandably, my mother was searching for the right words to explain to a seven-year-old child that her father had died. However, while she searched her head and her heart for the right words to say, I was just standing there for what felt like hours. Finally, my mother’s best friend broke the news to me.

Had I not been asked about and had the willingness to think back to my earliest memory, I would not have 1) learned the source of an area of emotional discomfort that shows up for me now and how I respond to others; thus 2)  allowing me to communicate with others what I need in order to respond best to them in similar situations (self-advocacy). 


I share this story as an example of challenging our taken for granted assumptions and ways of engaging in order to have you think about an area of your life (personal, professional or both) where you may hold additional angst or anxiety (be reminded of what Anthony Parham explained during our episode about anxiety triggers being a part of society long before we were born). Here is a selfwork exercise that I often use with my clients that may be a useful tool for you: 

  • Think back to a time when a personal or professional trauma took place and the stories that you created about the experience.
  • Write down the various meanings/stories created from the experience and their impact (if any) on you now.
  • After reviewing the list of stories you have created to keep yourself safe (physically, psychologically, spiritually, etc.), consider any healthy/helpful lessons that can be derived from the incident (even if it is simply learning how to spot red flags).
  • Last, write a letter of gratitude to your past self (the one that experienced the traumatic incident) from the space of where you are now (who you became post-incident), then switch and have your past self write a letter of gratitude to who you are now.

Disclaimer: For some people, reviewing these origin stories may cause additional distress or trauma. I strongly encourage you to seek out a licensed counselor / therapist who can support you in this process. 

I hope this exercise is useful and helps you as you continue to move towards love, justice and liberation in your life.

Thank you for taking the time to read this entry. I look forward to hearing from you regarding any Aha’s that come to you after watching/listening to this 3-part episode with Alisa France entitled: The Nikole Hannah-Jones Effect: The Black Woman’s Artistry in Flipping Scripts and Tables. Feel free to listen on your favorite podcasting platform or watch all three parts on YouTube.

In closing, to anyone who needs to have a difficult conversation with me OR if you have a surprise you want to share with me, please do so expeditiously. I’d greatly appreciate it! 🙂

Sending you all love and blessings.

In Solidarity,

Find my posts amusing, the 7 Questions thought-provoking, or just want to help someone close to you read something new? Feel free to forward this post (or any of my posts) to anyone who may find it/them useful. 

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Ep. 17 Video: Couples and Parenting Advice

I am sharing the YouTube video of my interview with Dr. Santira Streeter Corbitt with you here.

This conversation was centered on the premise of looking back on our experiences in order to inform and direct our future experiences. Moving towards the future requires just that, movement. Not staying comfortable and certainly, not staying stuck. And sometimes, not even moving in the same direction all of the time. An example of that came up for me as I reflected on the interview again the other day.

While watching this interview, I heard something that I have yet to say out loud. As Dr. Satira talked about the 4 Horsemen: The communication pitfalls that doom relationships, and I chimed in about “Fred, the 5th Horsemen of Resentment,” it dawned on me that my resentment has not been solely focused on my ex-husband. No, the resentment I hold most strongly is towards myself.

Emotional abuse notwithstanding, I have realized that my self-abandonment, dishonoring of my “No,” and over commitment to people pleasing set me and the marriage up for failure. Now, I am focused on learning healthy ways to show up unapologetically for myself first in order to show up for those I love. I am developing diverse ways to say “No” to people and situations that are not healthy for me. And yes, people pleasing is slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past.

As I continue this journey of accountability and critical self-reflection, I would love to hear from you about your healing journey. Feel free to email me directly at dr.kecia@drkeciab.com and share your story. I am also looking forward to bringing you more conversations to usher in greater introspection for us all.

Saying “We’re in this together” is one thing. Actually holding each other accountable and cheering each other on for those every day wins AND setbacks is something else. Please know I am cheering for you no matter where you are in your journey!

Let’s keep on healing, thriving and working towards liberation!

Much Respect,

7 QUESTIONS: Your Mental Health Continuum

Happy Father’s Day to all dads and dad-like adults who serve as supporters of our next generation leaders!

I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe on this post-Juneteenth Sunday! 

If you are unfamiliar with Juneteenth, it was first recognized by newly emancipated African Americans in 1865 and now has now been recognized in the United States as a national holiday. You can learn more about the holiday celebrating the emancipation of our African American Foremothers and Forefathers from the institution of slavery that was instated in this country. One of my personal favorite resources and one that has helped me explain the holiday to my 11-year old in “TikTok Timing” is this video clip from the Show “Black-ish” by one of my favorite bands, The Roots.


My goal for my message to you today is to be nice and concise (such a Poet)! 

I have had so many conversations that are examining what it means to thrive and go beyond all of the destructive, toxic and debilitating confines created by ourselves and others; whether from an individual, group or institutional level, that I felt the need to share a few of the concepts and questions that come to mind:

THE MENTAL HEALTH CONTINUUM

I was working with one of my brilliant scholars at the University of San Diego a few months ago regarding their research on thriving for Black Queer and Trans students. As we were researching existing frameworks on Thriving in general, we came across a model of the Mental Health Continuum by the organization, Delphis Learning:  

The folx at Delphis Learning clearly do not know that “COVID Crunching” and “Processing-by-Pantry’ is a response to when we are in crisis mode.

Our conversation went in a number of directions, including what survival versus thriving may look like for those communities that have dealt with various forms of trauma and complicated grief, as well as how “excelling” may be defined differently by various communities based on their experiences.

Love this quote by my “Mentor-in-my-mind” Oprah Winfrey: “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” Image source – Thrive Global 2019 article: The True Face Of Women Empowerment: Oprah Winfrey

LIFE: A VERY PATIENT TEACHER (Notice I did not call it a “nice” teacher)

I think we can agree that we have all lived through something, right? Regardless of the emotional weight of the experience/experiences, Life is a very patient teacher and has a way of calling on all of us regardless of our roles in society. 

As a way to think through Life’s Lessons as they relate to our mental health and wellbeing, I would love for you to take some time to think through these 7 Questions with me:

  1. What are some of the ways I have been taught (intentionally or unintentionally) to deal with crises? Who did I learn my crisis management lessons from and what (if anything) would I change about how I deal with crises?
  2. How do I react when I am struggling emotionally? Who or what do I turn to or turn away from when I feel overwhelmed, fearful, etc.? Again, where did I learn this strategy? What if anything would I do differently?
  3. What does “Surviving” look, sound and feel like to me? What are some of the messages I have learned about what it means to survive as the person I am and/or the communities I represent (write out the messages)? Do these messages help, hinder, harm or support my healing?
  4. What does “Thriving” mean to me? (I asked this and several related questions in my post 7 Questions: Thriving. Feel free to take a look back).
  5. Has thriving been something that has been discussed in my family or other circles I frequent? If so, what are the messages and if not, what impact (if any) has the omission of what it means to thrive had on me as I move towards healing?
  6. How would I define “Excelling” for myself and my situation? What is my vision for excelling in my family, intimate relationships, work relationships, etc. that I want to actualize in the short-term and in the long-term? 
  7. What role, if any, does love, justice and liberation play in how I navigate through the continuum towards my vision?

Again, I am walking this road right along with you! Matter of fact, I have an upcoming episode of my podcast with Dr. Satira Streeter Corbitt, Executive Director of Ascensions Psychological Services, Inc., where we talk about mental health, our wellbeing and so much more! I look forward to sharing the episode with you!

Ok, ok! I said I was going to keep it short! Sending you and your loved ones love and light! I look forward to sliding in your Inbox again soon!

In Solidarity.

Related Videos

Episode 13: Love & Liberation Beyond the Vortex

Episode 10: A Poetic Love “After the Snap”

Poem: Love’s Shores

First, I would like to send love to all of the readers in the United States, India, Pakistan, Canada, Ecuador, Romania, Russia, Croatia, Sweden and Denmark, who read the poem moments after it was published!

I was inspired to write this poem after receiving my inspirational Bible verse of the day. I use these verses to right set my day and provide a positive word when everything else we hear is the direct antithesis of positive.

For those of you who do not read the Bible or are unfamiliar with the “Love Chapter” I Corinthians 13, please find verses 4-7 form the New Living Translation for your reference:

“Love is patient and kind, not jealous or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no records of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out…Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

I Corinthians 13:4-7

It was these words that inspired me to write an interpretation of added attributes of Love. I hope you enjoy it:

Side Note: If it is vicious, vindictive or destructive, it is not, never was and never will be love. 


Love has a swag all its own.

Love says

“I Am with you. You are not alone when I Am here.”

Love says

“Things may not be perfect, but when we’re together, what we have will always be enough.” 

Love says

“Others will do everything they can to destroy us. And I will protect us at every turn.”

Love says

“I will show you how to trust again and again and again…”

Love says

“No matter what may come, only I can withstand time, space and circumstance. Come. Take a chance and walk these shores with me.”

Reflections: Endings, Beginnings and Gentleness

Before I begin, I would like to say Happy Pride Month to all of the LGBTQ+/Same Gender Loving readers/listeners in the 30+ countries my blog/podcast has reached thus far! I am deeply grateful and appreciate you for letting me encourage and amuse you with my reflections during my healing journey. 

Now that we are filled with so much gratitude, let’s dive into the reflections for this week:

ENDINGS & BEGINNINGS

The past two weeks have been filled with lessons on Endings and Beginnings. So much so that one of the videos that is now in heavy rotation with my colleagues and clients is one entitled A Meditation on Endings. Check it out if you are in the midst of a transition of any kind.

Whether we are talking about endings/beginnings related to a job/project, health or relationships; endings and beginnings require our attention. However with the constant distractions, we may not give the proper time to acknowledge, celebrate, or mourn situations that end, begin or that we expect to happen but do not (Nancy Schlossberg calls this a “nonevent”). Examples of a nonevent are the job offers we expect, but do not occur; the child that was expected to be born, but is not; or waiting to be asked out on a date, but they ask Marcia instead (Brady Bunch reference).

What I am also reflecting on is the very human response to harden from these experiences. We can become guarded, if you will: Protecting our mind, heart and resources.

Can you relate? 

Yes! The situation ended! Whether it was an unhealthy relationship, moving from one state to another, or the end of cancer treatment. However, there is always a tiny voice in our heads that asks: 

What if this move was a bad idea? 

What if this relationship is like the one before it or worse? 

What if the cancer returns? 

I don’t know about you, but even as I give praise for all of the blessings I have experienced, there’s a part of me that says, “I don’t care what happens, I am not going through THAT again!”

And it is in those moments when I begin my job as a bricklayer and begin building walls around my heart, my health, my family and my business. 

Whether we are talking about endings/beginnings related to a job/project, health or relationships; endings and beginnings require our attention. However with the constant distractions, we may not give the proper time to acknowledge, celebrate, or mourn situations that end, begin or that we expect to happen but do not.

Taking refuge behind walls has become commonplace during this pandemic. Clearly, there are times when it is wise to have healthy boundaries (BTW, I am still giving folks air hugs…stay away from me!). In addition to healthy boundaries that could be developed, sometimes our hearts harden a bit and we lose our ability to be gentle with ourselves and others. I would like to share a recent experience of my (re)learning to connect to my gentleness for your consideration:

TRY A LITTLE GENTLENESS

During our family therapy session, my daughter and I re-learned how important gentleness is to us in our ability to end difficult conversations and begin to transition to a point of psychological safety. After a difficult conversation, our therapist gave me a small tube of lotion and asked me to lotion my daughter’s hands. 

Sounds easy enough right? 

So I, being a Black mother who has navigated personal and historical trauma; having been raised by a Black mother who navigated personal and historical trauma (and so on), went about my task. I proceeded to apply the lotion to my daughter’s hands with such vigor and purpose that the top two layers of her skin were likely being rubbed off. Our therapist, seeing me go into exfoliating mode, said one word to redirect me: “Gently.”

At that moment I thought “What? This is how I’ve always…ohhh. Got it.”

My daughter of course looked at me in that moment to telepathically communicate “See, this is EXACTLY why we need to be here!”

My eyes softened and so did my grasp. I focused on rubbing my daughter’s hands gently and communicating, without words, that everything was ok. The hard part was over and healing begins with acts of gentleness.

I am sharing this experience with you because we live in a world that is constantly training us away from our gentleness. Think about the last time you heard one of these (or similar) sayings:

  • “You need to develop a thicker skin!”
    • “You have to be ruthless in this field/role!”
    • “We go for the jugular in this family! You better get used to it if you want to be successful in life!”
    • “Mama said knock you out!” 

Ok, so the reference to LL Cool J’s 1990 album was a bit much, but you get the point. 

As you reflect on the previous messages, how many times have you been told to be gentle with yourself or with others? Have you ever been told to be gentle in relation to ending/beginning experiences in your life? 

Whether you are a graduate who is transitioning from one learning environment to another; someone with a new work opportunity (even if you are newly “liberated” to explore other endeavors); or a shift in a relationship with a family member or intimate partner, how might you be able to add gentleness to your ways of engaging in the world?

No matter what we have heard or what we have experienced, let’s not let anyone or anything rob us of our ability to be humane to one another. AND,  even if we have hardened our hearts or ways of engaging with others in order to navigate our circumstances, we can find our way back to being intentionally gentle to those who matter to us while creating rest for our souls. 

I thank God for your healing, thriving, loving and liberation! Looking forward to continuing on this journey with you!

In Solidarity,

Poem: The Future is Waiting for You

Updated: May 21, 2021

The inspirations for this piece were my daughter Makaila, the graduate students completing their Action Research requirement at the University of San Diego (especially the 1st year students I have been blessed to engage this semester), and all of our next generation leaders.

A special Thank You to Dr. Nydia Sanchez and Jessica López for the encouragement to do what I do!

Feel free to share this poem with any graduate or person who is moving to the next level in their lives. Also, feel free to reframe the poem into the first person and use it as an affirmation for yourself!


The Future Is Waiting For You

Our world is calling you now
to lead at a time when innovation must lock arms with compassion.


Call and response: The future is waiting for you.

When we have called for change
Your brilliance, power and hope have responded unapologetically “We are here.”

Call and response: The future is waiting for you.

Your Ancestors stand proud as you represent a mosaic of possibilities
and our community stands together as we see a loss of learning and the violent taking of lives.
In the midst of it all, you have steadied your hearts with courage, power and purpose
and have confidently continued your stride towards excelencia.

Call and response: The future is waiting for you (read 2 times).


The Future.
Is waiting.
For You.


May you all continue to thrive and keep moving towards liberation!

In Solidarity,

7 Questions: Thriving

It’s May! Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

So, this is the first post (I believe) where I start off with the 7 Questions. Given EVERYTHING that is going on around us, the idea of healing and thriving have been center-stage for me. I asked Yolanda the “thriving” question during our conversation (Timestamp 7:26 – 11:03) and now I am digging deeper. I would love for you to dig deep with me and ask yourself these questions:

  1. How do I define “Thriving?” Do I know what thriving is for myself? Others? 
  2. Have I ever seen people thriving, i.e. do I recognize what thriving looks like (No, not InstaThriving/social media-esque thriving, the real thing)? 
  3. As I continue to interrogate myself (Cornel West via A. Rafik Mohamed Ep. 12 timestamp 31:22 – 32:11) and exorcize the internalized messages of oppression – stereotype threat, impostor syndrome, etc.), what hard truths do I need to hear in order to embrace what it means to thrive? 
  4. Who do I trust in my Circle of Support who will tell me these hard truths in order to help me/us move forward?
  5. If thriving is new to me, what can I do to not self-sabotage out of fear of experiencing something outside of the toxic, trauma-filled norm?
  6. What are ways I can support the thriving of those dearest to me? 
  7. How am I celebrating with those who are thriving and not letting my Inner Critic dampen the moment out of fear or questioning my worthiness to thrive?

Last week, my clients and students reminded me what thriving in spite and despite the oppressive conditions surrounding us looks like. My students found a way to enjoy each others joy and brilliance in a socially distant way and reflected on what it means to be Scholars of Color. My clients are confidently redefining what success and wealth building look like to them, and my daughter is finding great joy in making her racist teacher more upset as she is progressing in her schoolwork (Hey, motivation is motivation).

However you define your “win,” let it empower you to dream bigger and dream in honor of those who are thriving through you: 

Ma’Khia Bryant, Jacqueline Polk, Sandra Bland, Atatiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor, Andrew Brown, Jr., Daunte Wright, George Floyd, Adam Toledo, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and way too many/too painful to list.

As Beyoncé said in her beautiful song Bigger “life is your birthright they hid that in the fine print.”

Because it’s Beyoncé

Not only is living your birthright, but so is the audacity to radically love, thrive and liberate while being liberated. 

 Hold fast to your Birthright.

In Solidarity,

P.s. For anyone in the mood for a little poetry, take a look at one of my latest pieces for my 4th book “Emancipation Papers.” The poem is titled “The Road Home.”

Reflections from Episode 13: Love and Liberation Beyond the Vortex

I hope my post finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe.

Last week had many emotional moving parts for us to feel and learn from as we move forward on our love, liberation and thriving journey. Here are my reflections along with my beloved 7 Questions (and by “beloved” I mean loved by me). Please be aware that all of the headings today are a nod to songs by the late great artist Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016):


Colonized Mind

I believe it was Prince who supposedly said that “Hate is an upset love.” If that is true, we are surely seeing an inordinate amount of “upset love” being displayed around us. As I contemplate what is going on nationally and internationally; I am reflecting on how acts of hate and abuse hit closer to home. While using this time of hyper-awareness of State violence against my community and other oppressed communities, I am also actively interrogating the abuser within. I know I/we did not start out this way. Neither did the people I love, both past and presently. 

Abuse is about power, especially for those who have felt powerless in some area(s) of their life. Whether we are talking about family and community members who are causing harm, or power craving colleagues in the workplace. When we are taught/indoctrinated in the rhetoric of exclusion and dehumanization (via white supremacy) and told the only way to have power is to steal, destroy, and exact harm on those we feel hold less power and “matter less” than we do; we end up with a growing list of dead Black people under the age of 50. If we step out of the convenience of othering, the growing list of murdered Black Women, Femmes, Men, Children, Gender Non-Binary, Gender Non-Conforming and Trans Folx at the hands of police officers would have us all screaming in horror and fighting for change, not just a subset of us.

Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)

As I have been engaged in selfwork related to Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz’s work Archaeology of the Self, I have been actively interrogating the abused and abuser in me. Whether unpacking some of the generational messages from well-intentioned, loving, disenfranchised, oppressed loved ones in my family (see the coexistence of love and destruction?) or “Know your place messages” within the workplace. Along the same lines as the previous messages are degrading messages in the form of emotional abuse from lovers who see themselves as powerless in a world that hate them for any of the identities they hold/claim. I am in a place of heightened awareness that those messages and behaviors have been well-recorded and live in my mind and body. My work, and I choose to accept it, is to examine and exorcize these ways of thinking and acting to disrupt the systems of white violence in my life and in the lives of those I love.

Fury

Those who know me well, know that I am a big fan of DC/Marvel movies. However, what those same folx don’t know is that I spend the entire movie identifying with both the heroes and villains (that’s what happens when you have a degree in Psychology). One of my favorite characters in The Avenger films is the Hulk (She-Hulk is supposed to be coming out on Disney+! Wait for it!). 

One of my favorite scenes that I identified with right away was in The Avengers when Captain America turned to Dr. Bruce Banner/Hulk out of desperation for help in order to fight off the ugliness that surrounded them and quickly coming towards them. You hear Captain say “Dr. Banner, now might be a really good time for you to get angry.”  To which Dr. Banner replies, “That’s my secret Captain, I’m always angry.” Then, in cinematic brilliance, he transforms instantaneously into the Hulk:

TRIGGER WARNING: VIOLENT CONTENT. View Timestamp 1:10-2:03 only.

As epic as this scene is, there is a painful familiarity I have as it is indicative of my experience as a Black woman. 

Black Sweat

As a Black woman existing in a number of intersecting identities I, like my green friend the Hulk, am always angry. What is even more infuriating is when people who do not share my identities try to rob me of the very natural emotion of anger by calling me angry, as if to question the legitimacy of my anger (or my mental wellbeing or both). Because of my past propensity for people-pleasing, I would lie (knowing good and well I was lying) and say I was not angry to put them at ease. Meanwhile, my inner Hulk was serving me internal body blows.

So, here it is. I am angry. I am pissed off to the highest levels of pisstivity. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CN6clpPjRle/?igshid=1c8i6sbt1x5i6

I am enraged by social injustice we have collectively experienced, as well as those intimate experiences that have caused and taught me to harm. I am particularly aware of this latter point as I am transforming my relationship with my daughter. Since my ex-husband and I have not quite learned how to be “People” to one another, becoming “Co-Parents” is taking a bit more time. It’s almost like we are operating in similar forms of destruction, but in different franchises: He is Lex Luthor and I am operating more like Erik Killmonger. We have realized once again that the anger, resentment, and toxicity we exact on each other is having a direct effect on the one person that matters the most to us: Our daughter. This realization has forced us to stop everything in the midst of all the anger we both feel about the world around us and the world we created together.

I Feel For You 

As I reflect on the world I am creating for myself and my daughter, I am having to be compassionately honest versus brutally honest (there’s enough brutality in this world) about ways my “Harm Training” has/is showing up. While listening to my sisterfriend, Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz talk in our upcoming More Than Metaphors episode “Love & Liberation Beyond the Vortex,” I recall what she says about how to liberate ourselves from the ways of pain and trauma we have been taught:

Clip from the upcoming More Than Metaphors Ep. 13: “Love & Liberation Beyond the Vortex” with Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz

The Question of You

As I continue my critical self-reflection and engaging in new practices towards being a more conscious and compassionate parent to a Black/Biracial Girl, while dislodging all of the destructive messages and behaviors hurled at us Black/Brown Women and Girls, AND simultaneously embracing my rage around the murder of a Black Girl: Ma’Khia Bryant, 16 #sayhername; my selfwork consists of these 7 Questions (and many more):

7 QUESTIONS

  1. What historic and/or personal traumas am I carrying and/or find myself passing on to my daughter or other Black Women/ Women of Color in my life?
  2. In addition to therapy, what nurturing practices can I engage in to interrupt the passing on of historic and/or personal trauma to my daughter or other Black Women/ Women of Color in my life?
  3. How or in what ways can I understand, value and embrace my anger, while harnessing that angry energy towards constructive work?
  4. How will I disrupt and dismantle internalized white supremacist notions in myself and in those I care about, with a focus on addressing misogynoir in the Men of Color I love in my life?
  5. What are some of the cultural scripts I need to revise and act out differently that better fit with the Love and Liberation I crave to embody for myself, my daughter, and my work?
  6. How will I go about developing boundaries that are compassion-centered vs. boundaries rooted from a “This is what you’re not gonna do” stance, which is born from a place of self-preservation stemming from fear of a loss of self?
  7. How will I utilize the collective wisdom, imagination, power and spirituality of my ancestors to focus my gaze and actions towards what Robin D.G. Kelley writes about in Freedom Dreams into my home, work, community, and in the world (both the external and my internal world)?

While we are fighting for substantive change in the world, we cannot forget what I am constantly saying to myself and people around me: Justice starts at home. Let’s continue creating/re-creating environments where we feel loved, liberated and where we can continue to thrive. Looking forward to continuing to walk this road together!

In Solidarity,

P.s. #justiceforMakhiaBryant #sayhername #untiljusticejustis