Use Your Words

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. Audre Lorde

Our most powerful tool in society is our voice. Through our words, intonation, and inflection we can express a myriad of emotions, ideas, and beliefs. We can profess love or spew hatred. We can offer support or sully ones reputation. We can help or harm. We can be the revolution or be the cause of resistance. But within our voice, freedom lies.

I have never been afraid of my voice. I often wished it sounded better on answering machines, as I sound to myself like Wolfman Jack after a few shots of bourbon and pack of Newports. Mine is not a sweet and soft voice or that of a proud feminine orator… but it is mine and it aims to speak my existence. I have come to learn that with it I should tell my story, if for no other reason than to help other people realize the power of their own verbalized experiences.

Once, in the midst of some workplace bullshit… pause, curse words are valid and valuable words and do not portray ignorance or lack of vocabulary depth, using them well is an art form and a skill… I was asked by a co-worker what she could do to help. My answer… speak! I don’t need anyone to tell my story for me, and I’m not afraid to bring the pain, but an anthology of unilateral stories is what brings down every threat. It’s historical. Watergate, the fall of Nazi Germany, and the end of the Roman Empire were all predicated by human voice, and it’s rise against the status quo. #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter are examples of using ones voice to combat injustices.

Yet, said Rumi…”In silence there is eloquence!” But I would argue that he didn’t mean silence in matters of humanity, but rather as juxtaposed to compulsive verbalizing for the sake of hearing oneself. Silence is never preferred in the face of human suffering. The voice is a revolutionary machete. We must use it to tear through the fields of thick discrimination and tall insecurity that those who fear your truth will grow to trap you and insulate themselves. Then other times, you simply need to end what they started…

Use your voice to speak freedom, compassion, and truth!

Open Letter to Emotionally/Socially/Professionally Abusive Black Women

Being black, female and intelligent is to be constantly questioned by folks afraid you might outshine them. Being Black and female in the workplace is to be the vessel into which to heap everyone else’s frustration, lack, weakness, and failures in the form of discrimination, abuse, harassment, and stereotyping. In too many professional spaces, the top rungs are filled with individuals seated at the right hand of Satan. Rooted only in the promise of money and power, not the cultivation of innovation or the development of human talent. God often puts demons in your path so you know what they look like, smell like, how they breathe, and how to spot their venom. When the most objectified and mistreated person in the world trades their blackness and womanhood for red horns and a pitchfork… it does so without any transference of power. She is a powerless demon.

I am far from a perfect person. However there are some things that I do exceptionally well… gift giving, taking care of and tending to people I care about, writing, accessorizing, handling my business, organizing, keeping a neat and clean home, doing my job, and I can cut a mean rug every now and then. Of the things I do not do well, top of that list are allow you to mistreat me and watching you mistreat others. There is no excuse for either. I don’t bother anyone, ever… I make sure of it. Besides professing my love of Michael B. Jordan, Michael Jackson, and candy corn… I try hard not to bother anyone. Because I don’t care to be bothered by anyone, ever.

So when someone has specifically targeted me as their whipping post to bear the pain of their own self-hatred and misery, I have to draw a line in the sand. I am not your mirror image. I am not your peer. I am not your competition. I come from a long line of Black, proud, educated, articulate, and cultured ancestry. My folks were in college when few of us were there. My folks had titles when you were but a spermatozoa and ovum waiting to meet. My folks came out of slavery and demanded excellence of their free progeny. I come from excellence, and excellent I am. My folks begat me… and I’m real beasty out here in the world. I don’t boast or talk about my accomplishments, because I serve others with this magna cum laude and dean’s list big gargantuan brain as humbly as I possibly can. But make no mistakes, I am beasty out here. Real beasty. And I keep excellent receipts.

But back to my point, we have nothing in common, nothing. I wear my womanhood proudly, speaking out against patriarchy and sexism every chance I get. I wear this Blackness as a robe of honor , and I won’t rest until I see some glimmers of real freedom and I resist against even my own people subjugating us to the levels of “baboons and monkeys” and “being so black that…” jokes. Maybe your blackness is a joke, but mine is a privilege. Your Blackness and womanhood you use as a weapon, to mask your attempts at stereotyping the rest of us who don’t bow down to your feet. I’ll never bow down to Satan’s minion!

It is typical that the most evil apparition will feign godliness. But ain’t no God in you!

God is love, not putrid vials of insecurity and thinly veiled attempts to destroy those you cannot consume. God is pure, not a wasteland of grandiose boasting surrounded by mounds of yesteryears garbage. God is all knowing, not ignorant tongue wagging and lessons in sabotage and deceit to your class of dunces.

In closing… while I have prayed for you to heal and do your work, I realize now my prayers were wasted on the faithless. Only a woman who has no constitution would ever show more loyalty to her abusers than the abused. I operate by the law of love, which understands that compassion, understanding, active acceptance, and consistency are the only real statutory provisions of humanity. My humanity is intact, so I sit in my seat by choice, God has shown me other options. You sit in your seat because you are stuck between the armrests, and no one will help pull you out. You will rot there. I will thrive no matter where I sit…

“until you do right by me, everything you even think about is gonna fail”..

Signed, a Black Woman

The Souls of Black Folks

If you rock with William or Robert because of Harvey and Donald … this is for you!

My Grandmother used to drive me insane with this idea that as Black people, many of us could not excel because we were not pleasing to White folks. She was a financial whiz, but a sociopolitical scholar she was not.

My Grandfather, on the other hand, was like the Dick Gregory of the house. He understood that Black culture and traditions were different but not less than those of other, particularly the dominant, cultures. Our secret to success was to find our own personal freedom from the bonds of racism and to embrace our otherness, because through true diversity and inclusion America would be better for our innovation, creativity, and ancestral traditions.

Seeking to be judged by the standards of elitist White supremacy will always find us defeated. All of us! It’s a toxic and hostile way to view the world!

Wanting Bill Cosby or any Black man, Black woman, or person of color to be judged by the same elitist White supremacist, toxic male patriarchal, and racist standards as those white male rapists who get off is counter intuitive and dangerous. It is most likely that your Black child, Black relative, or Black friend will be victimized by a Black person. So this messaging that a Black male rapist should get off because White men do… will only serve to keep your kids, wife, sisters, mother, friends, cousins SILENT! They most likely are coming into contact with more threatening Black men than White men because of proximity. That’s just a fact! (Cuz you probably talk about Black on Black crime too…)

But this idea that we should insulate vile Black men because the supremacist White system insulates vile White men… and even some non-supremacists who don’t know any better… goes against the fight for freedom we have marched, protested, and DIED for! Freedom from systematic racism is not just about lynching, lunch counters, and school integration. The Civil Rights movement was also about the systems of hate that permeate our lives, and become apart of our rubic when we are forced into subjugation by these White supremacist ideals. Stand up against patriarchy, supremacy, and racism. Stand up against ignorance. The movement cared about The Souls of Black Folks as much as our financial, educational, housing, and social equity.

Speak through your soul, not through your anger and bitterness about how far we still have to go based on equality. We need to care more about equity than equality, our souls more than our pockets, and embrace our own difference. Our standard should not be Harvey or Donald, but Malcolm, Martin, Marcus, and W.E.B.!

Check yourself!

This Woman’s Work: Part II

“Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.” -Eckhardt Tolle

Picture it, 2018, Detroit, three scenarios:

Two professional Black Women discussing a disturbing incident with a customer during lunch, the victim says, “…I didn’t want to make a big deal about it and be the Angry Black Woman.”

Similar environment, two sistas discussing career development, the older woman says to the younger woman, “Be careful with all those ideas and opinions or they’ll label you the “b” word.”

One Black female supervisor speaking to her Black female team member on talking to White male managers…”You can’t lead with your intelligence because that is intimidating.”

But …. I am Black, I am a woman, I am opinionated, intelligent, and sometimes I am angry… especially in the one place I spend most of my waking hours that gives me zero respect despite the fact that it thrives off my intellect… Work.

I am who I am… and I don’t need to be less than that to ever get what I have worked hard for… even if I’m Black, female, opinionated, and sometimes angry. I have just as much right to be my authentic brilliant, compassionate, but take no shit self as:

these sexist and racist White men get to use work to play out their gestapo porn fantasies, shouting out authoritarian demands like orders at a fast food joints while trying to feel on your ass;

these racist White women get to prance around without a care in the world, except the hands going up their skirts which they payback (to the wrong people) in the form of harassment and discrimination of people of color;

these turncoat Black people get to act like they have assumed some privilege by selling their souls to do the racist’s dirty work, but as Jay-Z said “still nigga”.

Whether we know it or not, our presence is vital in every space and place, especially professionally, as we are representative of the people who use and purchase the services and goods we are in the business of providing or selling… whatever our role. We are their mouthpiece. And despite what insecure co-workers, supervisors, and managers might believe… we are often the leaders others look to for guidance and expertise… or perhaps it is the reason they dislike us. If those people get to be all they can be… then surely my whole authentic self is welcomed… no?

According to a 2018 survey of 100 Professional Black Women, 59% report feeling like they have to be less of themselves to be accepted in the workplace. While 58% reported co-workers who are not Black females are treated better than they are. 71% reported being discriminated against in the workplace. 72% reported being talked down to by a man, and 56% reported having a power struggle with another Black Woman. (1) Similarly, a study by the Perception Institute in 2016, tested bias of Black Women and their hair. It showed that Black Women had more anxiety about their hair than their White counterparts and that the majority of people had negative towards Black women with natural styles, particularly white women (2).

The writing is on the wall, that who Black Women are is looked down upon by people that they see and interact with daily, even to our own. And while we are capable and creative and innovative enough to break the glass ceiling, we can do it with our Afros, braids, sass, and round asses despite anyone’s prejudice. But that prejudice is a weighty issue.

Black Women are judged based on negative stereotypes that have no roots in the truth… assumptions about our hair and grooming, marital status, parental abilities, health, bodies, and community. We must be dirty if our hair is natural, singularly raising kids if we are parents, have undisciplined children, be unhealthy because we are curvy, and from violent and dangerous neighborhoods. Our personal lives are not considered our private business, and we are subjected to questions and demands that would never be made on White men or women. When your worth and lives are considered of minimal value it’s common for others to treat you as less than the professional you are… and instead treat you like a child in need of correction or a servant to take their orders.

It’s not our professionalism that should be being questioned. I assure you, the sistas I know are not only professionally responsible, but they can take care of their kids, mates, homes, selves… then come into work and deal with levels of harassment, discrimination, and privilege unlike any other group.

But we don’t have to deal with it!

We have earned the right to be exactly who the fuck we are… curly and kinky hair, big personalities, opinions, big ass brains, and yep, sometimes anger… because we carry the weight of the world’s -isms on our backs. Both Black and woman, marginalized and disenfranchised. Not just misogyny but misogynoir. Living at the intersection of racism, classism, sexism, and often, colorism. Let’s not forget our LGBTQ sister’s dealing with homophobia and transphobia, and our disabled sisters being discriminated against because of their physical limitations. I see it everyday, a Black woman with MS is treated like she has a learning disorder because she walks with a limp, and the sista with the big butt is talked to like she’s an idiot. Our brains are in our heads just like all other humans. WTF! Whose the idiot in this scenario?!?

We have to embrace our Blackness, and disallow anyone from making us believe that we have to conform to standards outside of ourselves to fit in… we don’t have to fit in. We were born to stand out! In a world full of thigh gaps ours were made to touch. In a world full of flat hair, ours waves, curls, and coils towards the heavens. In a world full of hateful and narrow thinkers, we continue to be compassionate because were meant to make them uncomfortable. Only in discomfort do people change.

In the workplace, we have to continue to assert ourselves, have confidence in ourselves, promote ourselves, stand up for ourselves, and be ourselves! And when it’s a detrimental environment, remove ourselves. Our voices, creativity, opinions, intelligence are necessary. We matter just the way we are… now go out with your fro out!

Update: I’m currently embarking on a bigger project about the lives of Black Women in the Professional space. If you would not mind doing a short phone interview or filling out a brief questionnaire about your professional experiences, please contact me at info@karyndeshields.com. Thank you.

(1) The Balancing Act.www.karyndeshields.com

(2) The Good Hair project. The Perception Institute, 2016. http://www.perception.org/good hair/

Dear Bryson, Don’t!

I came across an Instagram post yesterday by a beautiful Black woman, with a crying child sitting next to her, that talked about the very real reality of an unplanned pregnancy.  It happens, ALL THE TIME.  Anyway, I did something I almost never do on posts like these… yep, you guessed it, I read the comments.

One comment stood out:

Sorry not sorry Bryson, but you are an asshole! And this right here is a lesson to the likes of you:

1. NO WOMAN IN HISTORY… in HISTORY… was really ready to be a MOTHER!

Lemme say it once more time… NO WOMAN IN HISTORY was really ready to be a MOTHER.

Even those of us who dreamed of our lives with a family, a dog, and a white picket fence.  Even those of us who loved on our Cabbage Patch Dolls and changed our Baby Alive with tenderness, like she was real.  Even those of us who doodled the names we wanted to scar our children with. Even those of us who held our baby sisters, brothers, cousins, whatever… and even those of us whose parents used us as stand in parents for our siblings (another topic for another day)… whether you pushed the baby through that tiny canal, were split open from here to there, and even if you signed the adoption papers.  Let me tell you what is real, there is no preparation for it.  After you have had one or two, sure, you have a much better idea of the reality of motherhood.  But with your first child, no matter if the child was planned or unplanned, ready is not a word I would EVER use to describe that mother.

I was certainly not ready.  I thought on several days that I’d be happy if he made it out of infanthood alive and with all his limbs.  I remember him falling off the bed, and thinking for sure I was going to jail because his little skull was crushed, panicking as I looked over the edge, to see him smiling and showing that one little tooth.  I picked him up and made sure everything worked, and he just went on telling me about his day in baby talk.  I forgot once that I had him in a sling, and caught the grocery store door with my hip… really his head.  Again, he was there cooing and smiling. I was sure he was going to be learning disabled because of my frequent mishaps. It’s amazing he’s as smart as he is.  And as much of a joy as he was, and really a great baby in retrospect, at that time, I was overwhelmed. I think he was about 2 when I finally felt like I had things under control, and even that readiness did not last.  I was unprepared for 8, when he started to be a whiner and each and every single day, I realized the many more decibels my voice could go.  I am currently unprepared for teenage-hood… and I am stuck right at the beginning.  He mumbles when he talks to me yet yells about everything else, in fact everyone is always yelling. He’s still too attached to bodily noises yet not attached enough to a shower. I’m still concerned he’s gonna be brain dead, but now from Fornite, as he’s too big for me to drop at this point… shit, I am still not ready.

BUT as unready as I am, I am there. EVERYDAY.  Every single day. And based on that, I am free to say whatever is true about my experience. If no one has taken up residence in your body for 3/4ths a year, your boobs have never leaked, your nipples haven’t been gnawed raw, your tummy is forever striped, peas and carrots stains can be found on all your favorite blouses, and your name hasn’t been replaced by what eventually becomes an annoying ass two syllable words (Mama, mommy, etc)… don’t let patriarchy get you embarrassed.

2. When the OPEN sign lights up, there is no short of folks tryna get in!

When a woman’s legs open, chances are there is someone positioning himself to take up residence. And that someone is JUST AS responsible for any life that is conceived as the person who has to carry that life.  The misconception is that it is the woman who is primarily responsible. Wrong! We are often forced to take on the primary responsibility… but that in no way relegates us to a life of parental servitude and fathers to a life of judging our actions, especially when they don’t know a thing about projectile poop, the stench of 10 year old socks, or the multitude of eye rolls a 12 year old girl can launch at you at one day. While I signed up for servanthood, servitude is an entirely different matter, one in which I am completely uninterested.

The other misconception is that being a MOTHER is in some way more important than being a WOMAN. WRONG AGAIN.  One does not give up her womanhood to be anyone’s mother.  A mother is both a caregiver and one in need of care. A lover and a person in need of love. She gives as a mother but also needs to be given to as a woman. We are both. And while perhaps in the Gilead of your mind, Ofbryson opens her legs to you on call to bear your children… no woman under His eye who has read that garbage, with prints, florals, or colors other than red in her closet, will be opening her legs to you anytime soon! (I love a The Handmaid’s Tale reference… can you tell?)

Patriarchy is built upon male insecurity, and misogyny is built upon male sexual/emotional insecurity. Anything that speaks up for women and their sexual/emotional health is considered a battle threat to insecure men… and their only weapons are name-calling, belittling, oppression, and toxicity. But we shall not be pushed into silent depression because you are too weak to support us. Speak up and tell your stories ladies… it is amazing the support and camaraderie you can feel simply from being in a number of other women who share your story. And the men who are about something will listen and support you as well.

3. Motherhood is…

it’s an ever evolving set of monolithic hurdles that you seem to get over sometimes in perfect form and other times by falling, on your face. It’s a relationship, a reality, a vocation, a spiritual journey, and a lifestyle. It tends to get a bit easier with time, but it isn’t just new mothers who feel unprepared, lost, confused, and like running away. I need a solid two days of alone time per month to do whatever I want, quietly, and child-free. I won’t apologize for it, and I’m going to ask for it. 48 hours out of 720 is not too much to ask. But there are people who think that as a mother my entire life and every single second of it, should be 100% dedicated to my child. I say NO! No one would ever make that comment or demand on his father. Mothers are women, with needs, wants, desires, and dreams beyond motherhood, first and foremost. We are also the bearers of life… and we give ourselves over to bring life into the world. Motherhood is not just this thing that women do… it’s a commitment of body, heart, mind, spirit, money, time, energy, and love that is complicated and fantastic and stressful. But it’s our experience and our commitment. We shall not be silenced.

So Bryson, keep your mouth closed until you are ready to be a man!

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This Woman’s Work: Part I

At least we aren’t handmaids….

living in the fictitious, but eerily and oddly relatable -given the current state of things- Gilead in post war America. A country taken over by men, using divine law to subjugate women and the poor into servitude. Of particular disturbance is the work of the handmaid. The “lady in waiting” each leader, or commander, with an infertile wife employs, her sex and womb for room and board. Her job, to birth children for the couple, in the way of Rachel’s handmaid Bilhah in the Bible. Luckily it is confined to the Hulu menu of great acting that is hard as hell to watch. A twisted dystopian This is Us. Even as I applaud Offred’s attempts to escape on the edge of my seat, I can’t help but wonder how she will ever be mentally and emotionally healed.

But when we cut off the tv, and really look at the lives of working women… much of what is portrayed and endured by Offred, the Martha’s, and Aunt Lydia is applicable modern day, we just pick our own clothes and keep our same names. So much of our reality in the private and public workplace is controlled by men, who take license to act in ways very similar to fiction. In a recent study, 38% of women reported being sexually harassed at work. (1) We all know this reality creates lifelong traumas from which many of these women forever suffer.

Imagine now, the lives of Professional, Black, and educated women… who come with their own set of very real and very intersectional concerns, race and culture based traumas, and historical wounds. From blatant racial discrimination to patriarchy, and everything in between… the lives of sistas who collect a paycheck are fraught with issues that not only create trauma but cause us to relive unhealed and past trauma all the time. But at least we aren’t handmaids…

When 100 random Black Women working in professional (non blue collar or service industry) jobs with at least a college degree were surveyed (2), the results were not shocking but definitely painted a bold and unquestionable picture of the professional lives of these women. 71% indicated they had experienced discrimination at their job. 79% felt race, gender, or both contributed to negative attitudes about them at work. 72% indicated they had been talked down to by a man, and 65% reported hearing offensive comments about Black people at work. Clearly, Black Women are subjected to pervasive racism and sexism in the workplace.

While Black men are seen as far greater victims of racism, and sexism is generally identified as a White woman’s issue, it is the intersectionality of these issues that are the bitch that Black Women go toe to toe with daily. Since these intersectional concerns are not shared simultaneously with most groups and not as pervasive for other women of color, we often get labeled as having bad attitudes or being “angry” for no reason at all. When in fact, our reasons are front and center. We will always be Black and always be female. When combined with the naturally occurring childhood and adult traumas, most of us have never fully healed from, intersectionality in the workplace is a beast most of us are not properly prepared to handle, but must handle nonetheless. But at least we aren’t handmaids…

Take Kelsey, a teacher in the suburbs of the inner city. Kelsey grew up with demanding parents who made her feel her best wasn’t enough. Not only did she live with the “you have to be 10x better” lesson most Black children learn about themselves in relation to White children early on… her own familial demands were hard to bear. So in both her professional and social life, Kelsey overextended herself. She went above and beyond the duties she was paid for, spreading herself too thin, and not even acknowledged for her efforts. While she was definitely the best teacher in her school district, the most reliable daughter, the most loyal friend, the most steadfast wife, and all with the best twist-out west of Woodward… she brought with her the pain of being labeled “not good enough” to a workplace that didn’t appreciate her skill and hard work. Her employers, in the business of educating, which she was stellar at, had no problem taking advantage while never giving her the props she deserved!

Black Women are often the diving board for other people’s dreams and success…and systematically limited from realizing our own.

Jessica is similarly reminded of childhood conflict with other Black girls when she’s harassed and mistreated by Black Women in the office, the real life Aunt Lydias, and the abuse she’s experienced when spoken to in a patronizing manner and set up for failure at the hands of Black men at her job. It’s as if they are overseers for the powers that be, preparing her to walk the green mile to her professional fate, because she’s not a “good gal.” Constantly under his eye. Jess has to quell her fight response every single time… and since her mouth is much mightier than the sharpest sword, she just straps on her invisible muzzle to secure the bag… at least until something better presents itself.

So many sistas I know have taken pay cuts for peace.

Maya is haunted by her own family’s experiences with mental illness, and their failure to heal or even acknowledge it, when she encounters children and their parents struggling with emotional disturbances in her role as a school psychologist. So much so she has a visceral reaction to the work. Have you ever been traumatized to illness… I know a gang of sistas who have.

Like Maya , Monique faces the same trauma related setbacks when she handles family legal issues in private practice. Guardianship and power of attorney processes remind her of the pain her family put her through when a loved one was no longer able to care for herself. Jumping hurdles over familial patriarchy, youthism, and the “White is right” brainwashing that many of us have accepted as fact, is yet another hump we must traverse.

Young Black Women often carry our race and gender as badges of pride, bridled to our education and talent, that others often see as a threat. Thinly veiled disrespect, even at the hands of our own people, is commonplace in these instances.

In addition to these very real issues we carry with us from personal experiences, Black Women have a very real historical reality that makes navigating the workplace, often dominated by White men and a much more protected space for White women, painful. You might not be like Monique, Jessica, Kelsey, or Maya, but perhaps you are just Jane-, yep Jane is Black- who is reminded of her ancestor’s enslavement, involuntary servitude, and the hurt and pain of Jim Crow, lynching, systematic racism, and her own ancestral trauma in her workplace. Jane took on union work as an act of service, but living out the modern vestiges of White supremacy is a very real source of trauma.

For Jane, it isn’t her personal experiences but our collective reality that wells up in her soul when she listens to the stories of her co-workers, women spoken down to and inappropriately propositioned by the men in her office. Qualified people of color being passed over for opportunities they are the most qualified for, and Black overseers serving the supremacy by setting up those with whom they are in competition. Like Jane, so many of us hold this history in our bosom, and in an oppressive workplace, it’s realization mimics asphyxiation.

The very real wounds that Black Women cover, depriving of air, so they can scab over with our own protective shield and heal by our own strength, have a way of seeping when we face stress in areas of our lives that we take personally. For the woman who has gathered together more student loans in her name than prayers, vacations, or shoes… her career is a very important part of her life, and the very real fact is that it often serves as a reminder of her most tragic memories. Therefore, it is imperative that she deal with and heal from those tragedies. Whether through therapy, meditation, prayer, or some combination of healing mechanisms. You see… we may not be handmaids, but we have wings, and we only activate them if we lay down our burdens, under His eye.

Praise be.

(1) stopstreetharassment.org

(2) karyndeshields.com

Black Women are Unicorns

Black Women are magical

We are at the bottom of the totem pole but we don’t age, don’t crack… cuz crack is wack, and we were the definition of lit before DTJ used the word and buried it from our brains eternally. I guess it wasn’t enough to take “whoop there it is” and “my bad” … although neither of those were as well liked as “lit”… but whatever!  Upon our wooden shoulders we carry the weight of all the burdens that everyone else piled on top of us, but despite it all,  we keep a fresh beat!

Whose got it harder than us?

No one. But we are among the most highly educated and the lowest paid for our skill, value, knowledge! We are the most worked, often keeping a home, mate, kids, job, and maybe even school and several other obligations to organizations and caregiving on lock!

Internally, in the Black community, our bottom rung status is challenged, often! I once was talking to a Black male co-worker about my plight at work as a highly educated, experienced, and God forbid opinionated and proud Black Woman… and his comment… “Stop doing that Black Woman Stuff, just be a woman!”

Jigga what? Jigga who? And NO, I am not making that up. Needless to say I spazzed on his ass, but it was after work at the bar so I didn’t do it in front of company!

Similar topic, and another Black male commented to me, “So Black Women have it harder than Black men?” Hmmm let’s see. In the street my body gets unwanted attention, at work my mind doesn’t get enough respect, and you are asking me this crap…. so?!????! I acknowledge your plight even though it is not mine, acknowledge mine even if you don’t understand it.

Trust me brothas, we do such a good job at caping for y’all… all the time… I think sometimes you forget that while you were picking cotton, we were picking cotton, having babies in the field then attaching Little Chicken George to our nip to gets back to picking more cotton, and then having to visit Massa and his ole shriveled dry ass for some late night slavery. You got it bad. We get it. But let’s not have a competition in hard knocks. Mmmkay!

Externally, we are invisible. Unless it’s our hair, our ass, our style, or some negative stereotype… very little else seems to make waves. It’s a fight of the stereotypes that personally I’m not going to engage in… but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. We aren’t hard working in the home like Hispanic and Latino Women, we aren’t smart like Asian women, we aren’t princesses who need to be rescued or brutish, Sarah Huckabee Sanders type, White women.  Unless of course you are Beyoncé… and then y’all go apeshit!

We are entering a time in history, American history, where humanity is being pushed aside by power. If you believe in the value of all human life, evaluate your personal spot on the totem. We can accomplish more when we break down the power hierarchy and acknowledge each other’s unique skills and talents as humans! And if that fails…

Black Women, be Beyoncé…“Pay me in equity”

The Children are Our Future

There are many programs available to help adults navigate their health and change their eating and living habits to promote wellness. The Black Health Academy, the brainchild of founder, Lisa A. Smith, is one of the most comprehensive of these programs, offering masterclasses in exercise, plant based eating, mental health, and community education to assist African-Americans to eradicate chronic health concerns and live healthy lives. For the many of us who use coaches, trainers, nutritionists, and sites like The Black Health Academy. (1)

Dr. Latisha N. Carter-Blanks, MD, MPH is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics The University of Michigan Medical School and a Pediatric Clinician at Michigan Medicine Northville Health Center. Dr, Carter-Blanks is a Black Woman who was educated in Detroit Public Schools and received her medical degree at Wayne State University, so she is well versed in the urban experience and the importance of promoting health to children in our community. I spoke with Dr. Carter-Blanks about promoting health and wellness, and her medical opinion was right on par with the research.

What made you want to be a doctor?

LNCB: I always knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was around age 3 years old.

What called you to pediatrics?

LNCB: I had an awesome pediatrician growing up, Dr. William C. Heath. I think he played a role in me wanting to become a pediatrician.. I almost did Med/Peds which is the practice of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, but I fast realized that I didn’t like non-compliant adults. I am also a big advocate of preventive care/medicine and that is 99% of what we do in pediatrics.

When you see a child patient, what is your ultimate goal for them?

LNCB: My goal is to grow up healthy children who will in turn become healthy adults.

Is there a formula for promoting healthy children that parents can follow or seek to improve in their child’s life?

LNCB: To have a healthy child, you must first nurture them. I think being active in your child’s life and showing them through actions that you care about them makes a world of difference in terms of healthy development. Without this a child cannot grow physically or emotionally. Secondly a healthy child is one that is active. We have to encourage our children to become more active. Whether it’s having a dance party in your living room or playing on a sports team, active bodies help sustain active minds. Finally healthy children must be safe. Children can’t be healthy if they don’t feel safe. If you can’t go out and play because they are shooting on your block you can’t get active. If you don’t feel safe your mental and physical health will suffer.

If you had to define a healthy child, what characteristics would that child have?

LNCB: A healthy child is one who is physically and mentally sound. One that has someone to nurture them, a safe environment to grow in and a healthy amount of activity.

So there you have it, the tools to ensuring our future doctors, lawyers, wellness professionals, and writers live a happy and healthy life! Nurturing your children by being an active parent who shows them the power of making positive decisions and the joys of life through your actions, protecting them from harm, and encouraging physical activity to keep their minds and bodies strong and healthy are the keys of health to opening a fruitful life! Additionally, being adults who promote health, much like founder Lisa A. Smith and Dr. Carter-Blanks, we provide our children with models of Black professionals who are dedicated to the improvement of our community health! The Black Health Academy “loves the kids”, and Dr. Carter-Blacks is “for the children”!!!!

“Teach them well, and let them lead the way”
(excerpt from the Greatest Love of All written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed)

1. BMC Public Health, 2015, https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/1471-2458-13-1100

 

First Publushed at The Black Health Academy site.