Black Feminism/Collaborative Heart

There are wide degrees of ideals and philosophies surrounding the term feminism. Feminism or to be a feminist has become (or always was) somewhat of a dirty word. It carries an ominous connotation which includes recklessness, boldness, defiance, egocentricity, obnoxious, strong-willed, demeaning of men, Lesbian, man-haters, ball-crushers, Bitch, and the list goes on…something which seemed to be important in the development of womanhood-to empower and embrace self has become a place of judgment. This judgment is served from our male counterparts, partners, women alike and even other feminists, and even feminists of other “colors”…so it becomes this tangle web of layers, from micro to macro aggressions which we face head on, in this labyrinth of being and existing.

My question then is, how do I walk in my strength and power without diminishing the efforts of my partner? My philosophies surrounding the greatness of women does not include keeping or placing my partner in the position of a footstool. Neither do I wish to have such a partner. For I think, whether your partner is of the same or opposite sex, what (at least for me) remains attractive and sexy, is confidence. What I love in a person is the spirit. I love a shining spirit which is fearless, kind, loving, humble, easy-going, funny and yet, powerful…and when that person knows this, I’m liable to lose my mind! It is indeed sexy to have a mate who understands the worth and contribution brought to your world, without having to hear about it in a nagging, bitchy way. The balance is: Be confident. But not obnoxious. Be secure and grounded, but not too passive. Be gregarious, but don’t behave as a 4-year-old who needs to be the complete center of attention and my world. Be assertive, but not overbearing and overpowering. And don’t you dare think that you can control or manipulate me.

So, can I be a bold feminist, and still exhibit some femininity? And will my graceful swag of being a woman (Slithering wiley with one leg gently before the other, gracefully allowing my arms to sway in it’s own dance with the wind, accentuating the sway of my hips in the figure 8, and allowing my eyes to smile and curve into an almond shape, half closed, but piercing-to pull you in, while the soft pillows of my lips pour deliciously sweet and richly articulated language that hypnotizes your senses) diminish my intelligence? Position? Am I still not a feminist when I decide to stop-pick my battles, let you win this one? Have I succumbed to the subjugation of an abusive relationship? (I’m always testing and analyzing my relationships to ensure that I’m not indeed in one)

Nevertheless, my answer is no. All relationships deserve some type of compromise, collaboration. There are indeed deal breakers. But, for the most part, through communication and having a bad memory, we can survive it. My goals surrounding relationships include to never lose myself. I will love you with every fiber in me; but you will not overpower my life. For in essence: I belong to no one. And you do not belong to me. Every day together is a gift unto each other. And that to me, is the present. And, a partner who NEEDS constant attention, and is threatened by the friendships I have with other people either needs to be trained or let go.

It is healthy to have friends. Friends are a necessary and valuable addition to your life. Choose your friends wisely. And cut the bad ones, the parasites, QUICKLY. Friendship is about give and take-after all, it is indeed a relationship. Friendship (and I’m not talking sex here) is intimate, passionate, and supportive of each other’s growth. This is why, in any marriage, or sexual relationship, the friendship component is crucial. It is the foundation to a life long partnership. So, appreciate and nurture the friends in your life which are compartmentalized into sections of your life which serves you and them. While your friends don’t share your bed, they share your lives. And the same rules of balance and respect applies.

So, did I go off into a deep tangent? Not really. I was pleasantly surprised this weekend. I needed my sisters. My friends. And I’m usually a private person, and don’t often discuss my relationship issues. However, I learned that we all go through the same things; and a strong word of advice from a friend, a sister can really help. I learned, that sometimes, all you can do is cry. And a good sister/friend will hold you. And let you cry. I learned that a friend who loves you will not join in and bash your partner-she will come and respectfully listen to both sides, and provide solid objective advice. Her heart is pure, without envy for you. She wants you to be happy. She wants your partner happy. She wants what you want. And will tell you when you’re wrong. That is true Black feminism.

So, to go back to the initial train of thought…Black Feminists, we can be strong. We can be bold. And yes, we can compromise, and collaborate. We can uplift our partners, and humble ourselves. We can let ’em win. We can work things out. And let go. No fighting. We can be silent. And that is true power.

Highlight on Chief, Professor Jim Babcock

Highlight on Chief, Professor Jim Babcock

In addition to his extraordinary contributions to society and meritorious life, Jim is by far an outstanding soul/individual. He is Love personified. He is as pure and as genuine as they come. I am honored to know him; I am honored to be able to call him a friend. Congratulations, Jim! Much deserved!

My children make me sick!

So I’m not the best mother in the world. I have an administrative professional position at a non-profit, private university. I’m an artist, musician, singer, writer, and Ph.D. student. I volunteer in the community; love my community. I love people, and care about the world. My heart is with my people in Haiti. I feel their struggle and wish to help anyway I can. I try to teach my children social responsibility, love for self and people, kindness, respect. I teach them how to love; how to appreciate art, history and music. I let them be. I like to flow. So we flow-we have fun! I like a peaceful house. But lately, my home has not been peaceful. It’s been a tyrannical energy of me being sick and tired of their bullsh*t. You’d think that at 13, my daughter would just clean her room without my swearing, ultimatum promising, lamenting, crying and finally making physical threats. You’d think my once sweet 8-year old would not cry just to avoid her evening bath. You’d expect my once very creative 11-year-old would just do her goddamn homework and submit it to her teacher so I wouldn’t have to get phone calls about how poorly she’s doing due to NEVER submitting homework. They make me sick. And it seems, no matter how much support, stability and firmness they receive, they’ve decided that they’re going to do it their way. So, I’m so sick of them right now. They’ve taken my love and attention for weakness and really utilize it to manipulate the hell out of any situation. They would make fine lawyers! I see them starting their own firm.

And that’s the fine line in parenting: Cultivating their talents by guiding them, even in reprimand, and to not suppress or put down their spirit. And this is a conscious decision I make; I’m very careful how I curse my daughters out. This is for several reasons. I’m not just raising girls. I’m raising African Haitian American girls. I’m demonstrating how to move about this world which treats us as the Other. I’m teaching them self-governance, choice, responsibility, and most of all, love for self-pride in self. I’m teaching them how to not depend on anyone, how to work for what they want. I want them to care about me, my efforts. I want them to show gratitude for the quality of life I ensure they enjoy. But all they’re exhibiting is entitlement and apathy.

So this morning, after I had awakened them up, and lovingly reminded them where I had neatly hung their clothes, I proceeded to get myself ready. I had taken my shower, gotten dressed, coifed my afro, applied make-up, gotten my bags together before realizing that my youngest was just getting out of the shower; my second was still in bed-with the dog! My eldest put aside the beautifully embellished sweater I laid out for her for a disgusting and stained (I should add-which hasn’t been washed in weeks) NIKE hoody/sweatshirt! Aren’t girls supposed to be dainty and clean? All the princess talks of old was apparently for the birds! They’re disgusting. Yeah I said it! Just plain…Big Sigh. So, with only five minutes left for me to walk into my office, and realizing that an additional second spent on the horrors of this morning would render me dead due to an unavoidable coronary or stroke, I said, “You girls have a nice day. I’m leaving.” And with that, I walked out of the house.

I started my car, lit a cigarette, and listened to the garbage talk on the urban radio station. I saw red. But imagined yellow. And I said a prayer of thanks, that my girls are okay. They’ll be okay. I’ll be okay. Deep breath. Fuck it.

From 78 degrees to -11 degrees-The Art of Flexibility

I flew from Miami, FL to Cleveland, OH on January 2nd for my 3rd Ph.D. residency which is being held at the Mets Center in Erlanger, KY. My friend and fellow cohorter, Kathy lives in Cleveland, and I flew into her town to help her drive down the icy, snowy weather. Mind you, I’ve never driven in the snow; in fact, I had only seen and experienced this weather once in Novemeber 2012 when I attended the Haitian Studies Association conference in New York the previous year. You can imagine that I was both scared, stressed out and upon arriving and putting on the remaining clothes in my little carry-on luggage, COLD!

It was 11 degrees when I arrived to Cleveland. Nevermind the beautiful barren trees covered in white snow! Nevermind her lovely home, peacefully situated in front of an enchanting forest of snow-capped trees; nevermind her tastefully decorated home, beautiful family and the delicious spaghetti dinner she treated me to. It was COLD!

With the absence of sun and the continuous storm, I felt myself begin to fall into a generative depression. It doesn’t mean that I’m not a happy person; it means that I found myself really missing my 78 degree weather and my warm children, and my hot kitchen, and my humid backyard, and my sweltering streets of Miami.

Deciding that I would be grateful for the experience, I took another look. I took a deep breath and reminded myself why I was there. I was there for a dear friend who deserved my time. And she would do the same for me…and she is lovely and so hospitable. I was happy to be there with her and with the warmth of her kindness and love, I was warm. I felt good. I was calm. And truth be told, there’s something very calming about the auspicious dark woods, covered in snow, with its ground white and unadultered; and in its innocence, I found peace and a willingness to be flexible.

Yes, I can live anywhere because I am flexible.