The Secret Life of The Strong Black Woman

What’s the criteria?

Like seriously, how much stuff are we supposed to take on silently, muscle through and overcome? 2016 had me wanting to call in Black, and the election had me wanting to call in Woman… but considering those options have never existed… I, like everyone else in my shoes, toughed it out no matter how exhausting it’s been.

Maybe I’m just tired because I started to write this post in January and now it’s December of 2017.
Maybe I’m in a mood because it took Hidden Figures to come out to realize that there are people in the world that are more apt to receive the Moon Landing as a conspiracy than the byproduct of Black Women making a way out of no-way like we’ve been forced to do over years of having to show up with twice as much no matter how qualified we find ourselves.

Maybe I’m exhausted because over the past year I’ve witnessed the least qualified employee ever, keep the highest-ranking job in the country despite every reason under the sun that he should have been marched out Call-Center “you didn’t meet your goals” style. While the only small victories have been the firings of the ever-growing list of “Creeps on TV” followed by R.Kelly and his alleged sex dungeons of Atlanta getting robbed blind.

Either way, as we close out 2017 (which has proven to be 2016X) having I’m reflecting on the power of Sisterhood. From the start of the Black Lives Matter movement to our Alabama sisters showing up and saving the day at the polls. We’ve been ingrained with this sense of duty to pick up the pieces, take the lead and use what we have to make everything alright.

 We lean on one another, pick up the phone in the middle of our hellish days and find refuge in the emphatic exchanges of “Giiiiiiiiiirl, let me tell you…” We get behind each other’s dreams, find out the scoop on the other’s behalf, keep the secrets and take the lead on speaking up when it’s needed.

It’s the Grandmothers and Aunts that don’t charge us for babysitting. The work friends that cover our shifts when tragedy strikes. We can and have organized over the years in coalitions as small as the block or as large as a united front on behalf of all of the women of the world… even when there are still parts of the world don’t affirm us. It’s the out loud “Oh no, not today!” from across the room that gives us the strength to speak up for ourselves. The text messages under the table coaching appropriate responses to blatant disrespect.

But here’s the thing. We can’t be left to be the pit bull forever. It will literally kill us. We are allowed to feel every human emotion. There’s no shame in needing to take some time to cry, get centered, regroup or heal. We have to find a way to normalize our need for help without letting others make us feel as though we’ve robbed them by not being 100% ready to bear the weight of the world.

I know I’ve been away for a while, and from my last post, you know about my Grandmother’s fight. Well, she gained her freedom from the prison her body turned into on December 3rd, the day that marked 30 weeks in my current pregnancy. By all means, I should have had a pass to just sit down somewhere and cry, and while I did, I couldn’t help but feel guilty about not staying “Strong”. A few people had to talk me down from refusing any help from the people that love me, and I’ll forever be grateful that I eventually listened.

Can we suck it up and push silently through to the next obstacle? Yep, we’ve done it for centuries.

Should we have to? Absolutely not. Let’s move into this next year and the rest of our existence, adding to our strength the permission to unapologetically take care of ourselves first. A lesson that was interestingly taught to me throughout carrying this child. If I don’t take care of myself (rest, eat well, decompress) he can’t grow properly. The same can be said of the relationships in our respective communities. When we suffer it’s evident in the absence of our light in the dark times. It takes a lot to be “strong”, life is too short to try and keep that up daily. Let’s be better to ourselves.

Update: Since this was first posted we have lost Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, activist and new mother. We can’t put off self-care one more day. This sister carried the burden of fighting for the last and next generation and it proved to be too much to handle at once. Let her story be the last of its kind.

Black Alzheimer’s

I’ve been holding on to this thing for a while now, and I think that I’m ready to discuss where I am in the process. Keep in mind, the experience that your family may be having may not be anything like the account I’m about to give you. Hell, my perspective of it all may not reflect how anyone else in my family feels right now… but I know that I can’t be the only one that feels this way among the community of people with family members that have Alzheimer’s.  As a community (I’m talking about Black people now), we don’t share these stories so every time one of us goes through it, it’s brand new and none of the information available has our cultural context applied. For all these reasons, and the fact that my Grandma is in no shape to make me pick a switch for a whipping, (I think she’d laugh at that) I share this story.

Watching your loved one lose their mind is a frustrating, borderline infuriating process. There’s one side of it where optimism lives, and you go on as if everything either is or will be ok. Then there’s the side of reality where all of that is a lie. Everything is not ok, and also, there’s nobody to blame, nothing to protest, and nowhere to boycott. You just have to live in that thing. Each day is an additional goodbye to what’s left of the person that you once knew.

People talk about waiting for the “lights” to turn on, and how exciting or happy it is when they have a lucid moment, but it’s excruciating… why? Because they seem to have those moments just before you come to terms with the idea of them not being all there.  It’s also extremely sad because you know that just as quickly as they came back to you, they’ll be gone again.

Then you think about what they would want you to do in these situations. I can’t help but think back to when my grandmother would travel to see her brother that had Alzheimer’s and Dementia and how she refused to give up on him no matter how long he sat without recognizing her. The whole family would be dead dog tired after riding in the everlasting heat of Alabama for hours and we would just wait until she’d had enough of asking him if he knew who she was. Then she would get in the car and say

“He’s not a throw away. We don’t throw our family away. There’s still something there.”

So now that it’s time to walk this road with her, every moment of considering giving up, is haunted with her words… so you rip the band aid off and try to get her to come out again. I’ll admit that I don’t believe that I’ve been the best grandchild that I could be. It’s so hard for me to come back to the world if I see her on a bad day that I double-dutch the contemplation of each visit. “Well, how’s she doing today?” “Is anybody with her right now?”.

Visiting was easy when she was in the super-plush tricked out rehabilitation facility after a recent fall. Grandma is not a fan of strangers, so while she didn’t warm up immediately, she eventually established a routine and became comfortable. Now, she’s back home and we had to make improvements to the house to assure her safety. This means her environment is different AND there’s a bunch of strangers around the clock to keep her safe. Strangers that she’s ready to fight to get them to leave her house.

I want to cry so badly because I know that she’s scared (because when she comes out, that’s what she tells me) but I am so grateful that the strangers are available because I promise she couldn’t have picked a worse time in the life of the family to be ill. Everybody is booked to capacity. From people making professional and personal shifts and transitions, we don’t even hang out like we did in years past. It’s nearly impossible to get us all in one place on a non-holiday.

With the family dynamic comes the frustration of wanting to be able to effect more change. I’m the only grandchild, which in many times puts me in the placeholder as the 4th kid. When I was living with my Grandmother trying to get my life back, I couldn’t wait to use my Paralegal degree to help organize her estate prior to taking the information to an Attorney. Now that we actually have to use some of the things I helped locate and file, I have to fall back and just hope that the kids make great decisions about their mom… even though I owe my life as I know it to her and Jesus.

The up-side is the fact that we’re all forced to figure out how to work together while Grandma’s still here. I’ve been through the death of my other grandmother and watched how it shook my other side of my tiny family out of socket. From petty fights during the grieving process to a complete overhaul of the order of dependency. I know that facing the hard times, while there’s still work to do is going to help us be a tight unit whenever Grandma goes to Jesus… but that requires us all to kick in where we can so that nobody gets the flake title.

In all, I’m just scared, and not for myself, but for my Grandma that once ruled the family with an iron fist and would strike fear and reverence into all who dare cross the threshold. She’s no longer in charge of the house that she was able to help her husband purchase by using coupons and saving the money he gave her as allowance while she took care of the children. She can no longer tell me the stories of how she dreamed of making it out of her hometown, and made it happen despite not having the approval of her father. Our times in the kitchen, have come to a close as the knobs have gone away from the stove to make sure she doesn’t forget to turn off the pilot. These changes are the ones that I don’t really believe anyone could have warned us about, the emotional shifts that happen inside of handling the business that needs to be handled for the safety of your loved one.

I walk away feeling like I know exactly where she is, but it just takes a while to find her.

No matter how sad we get, how long we can keep her home, or how difficult the road may be ahead.. she’s not a throw away. We don’t throw our family away. I just miss her so much already.

Still Podcasting… (Audio)

I’m so grateful to be back blogging on a regular basis. There’s a post scheduled to release tomorrow for those of you that are waiting on something of mine to read… until then, make sure you subscribe to the podcast I told you about a while ago.

Click here to find the latest from T&M Podcast. If you don’t have SoundCloud you can follow us here on Google Play .

Never been so excited to be in the Medium Place until today…

Hey yall… I know I’ve been away for a while. We can talk about that next time, but TODAY we need to really get into what our current pResident has been up to. Overnight he put on a production that reeked of the 90s, Outkast song inspiring theatrics of war by dropping almost 60 bombs on Syria in response to the gas attacks (FLINT STILL NEEDS CLEAN WATER).
Nevermind the fact that in 2013 when our current pResident was just a Reality TV personality with a common term catch phrase, President Obama was catching a Twitter lashing regarding his need for Congressional Approval. 



Fast-forward to today, and how my heart goes out to my military brothers and sisters that have been dragged into a pump fake that on the surface, seems like “the right thing to do”, but is steeped in what the rest of us believe to be a deflection from corruption.  All the while pissing off Russia (at least that’s what they said to the people)… you know, beat us to space @$$ Russia (Ain’t nobody got time for that!).
This brings us back to the title, and the conversation that prompted this post. I have friends that are rightfully afraid of what all of this means for the citizens of the United States. Let’s be very clear, the majority of us did not vote for the man in power and do not agree with him just busting moves all willy-nilly without getting -his words “Congressional Approval”(see above).
This is why I’m glad that there’s nothing worth attacking in this medium place I call home.

We have 2 major international companies…but they have so much of the world on the payroll, that nobody is trying to do anything that will put their coins on halt.

Rupees, Euros, Lira, Pounds, Pesos, Renminbi and Yen!

Related imageNot just that but there’s nobody caping for Corn these days as a crop record label or a crew, and honestly, that’s all that we have in-between the city limits. People have been trying to kill the dairy industry since Oprah issued a vegan challenge, so there’s nothing to gain from taking out the cows. Seriously, there’s nothing here, we just love one another enough to hang out and do fun stuff in the middle of nowhere together like throw bean bags as wooden boards with holes in them. The costs of living in most of the cities here are comparable to living in Vegas with exponentially fewer reasons to be in town. Why you think people started burning fires when LeBron left?
At the end of the day, we just need to stay engaged and make sure that we hold this administration accountable for every decision, action, and inaction until we’re free from the reign. Get on the phone with your elected officials and make sure that they know exactly how you feel about what’s going on right now. The last thing we need is to get frozen by fear and forget that we’re supposed to be a part of a greater conversation that only works when we can all be heard.