Growing Up Haitian

A Letter to CDC: Stay Out Our Kitchens

Disclaimer. As a Haitian-American woman, I rank in the lower percentile of women who actually cook Haitian food on a regular. Scratch that. I cook next to NO Haitian food in the home. Don’t come for me or try to take my Haitian card. I’m just keeping it real. With a great cookbook and proper tutelage, I’ve tried my hand at it over the years—but yeah. We not all able.

That being said, I hear that the word out in these ‘white washed streets’ is that the CDC, also known as the Center for DISEASE CONTROL has put out a warning that we should NOT, and I repeat NOT wash our chicken. Pause. Inhale. Exhale. Stare blankly onto my cellphone screen.

One thing my late mother made sure I learned was to clean my meat. I was immediately triggered back to memories of a large bag of chicken (with the skin still on it!) that I’d watch her unpack. Once she did that, I was responsible for cleaning out every crevice of every thigh meat of the gooey red stuff that was caught up in between the bones. Then on to stripping the drumsticks of their fat was another task. By the time the chicken was done, it had lost ten pounds of fat and was ready to be cleaned. The smell of chicken under your nails is no joke! Lemon and more lemon would be the only thing to take it out.

Again, I’m only speaking for the Haitian culture when I say that what we consider “cleaning meat” is nothing to be played with. But for most, if not all of the cultures in Hispanic and Caribbean households—yo we don’t play about our meat cleaning! My timeline is lit with Trini, Black and Peruvian friends (to name a few) getting a good laugh about this CDC Game of Thrones “white walker” mess!

Some of you may remember my Thanksgiving 2018 Facebook post about the turkey that nearly took me out. The anxiety of cleaning a bird that size! To properly do my ancestors justice. To save face during the holiday season. There was no showing up with a pale turkey that hadn’t bathed in the sink in vinegar, orange, lemon and then heated through with a hot bath before being seasoned to perfection. By the time that turkey was done with me, it had confused holiday prep with a pelvic exam!

Suffice to say CDC, we over here in the banana republic will continue to rinse and utilize citrus and acidic products to kill the germs of your supposed Grade A meat. Do not ask me the science behind it. Just know I do it because my maman told me to; and because Wakanda would kick me out! I just cooked a rack of lamb the other day. Do you think that I just rinsed it off and threw it in the oven?! Pitit! Child! All the Haitian mothers alive would come and take turns smacking me with a wooden spoon for my insolence!

There’s no getting around a perfectly rinsed and seasoned meat. Who does not recall the grocery bags doubling as ziplock bags in the freezer? Each perfectly proportioned with the right amount of meat for each of that week’s meals. Each drenched in seasonings that would become the essence of the sauces and gravy that would make the meal that much tasty.

But wait! It doesn’t stop there! This is where I think some folks get it wrong. When my mama had me done with the meat, she would have me take Clorox and wash down all counters and the entire sink with nothing but hot tap water. Yeah yeah. I know we trying to “seventh generation” our way into heaven but I’m not giving up Clorox or Fabuloso. You can hang that notion up.

By this time, meat cleaning in my mom’s kitchen had evolved to using gloves as part of the process. Once upon a time, a Haitian mami’s battle scars were seen in her raised cuticles and raw hands. Thank goodness my mama knew that a college education and raw hands would not be a good fit.

During those meat cleaning sessions, I’d mumble (in my head) all the while wondering what my friends were doing on a Friday or Saturday afternoon while I was in this non AC kitchen (or house for that matter) laboring like a Hebrew slave. I’d promise myself to hire a chef when I grew up and I’d never have to be in the kitchen ever again. Turns out many of us, were doing Saturday ‘lesiv’ (chores) in lock step. You can tell a lot about a Haitian-American woman based on her level of cleanliness. Some of us had tyrants for mothers!

Mama would eventually release me from my duties once the kitchen was up to her expectations. Hindsight being what it is, she didn’t really have me in the kitchen beyond the sous chef role. Thus, why there are gaps in my Haitian culinary skills. I’d go back to my books or whatever, happy to escape the kitchen. “Sigh” is another word for regret ya’ll. Maybe she knew that I’d turn out to be a cookbook type of cook. Or that Haitian food would be the foundation but not the “all” of my palate. She figured as long as I knew how to get the first part done, no meat regardless of the recipe would stand a chance in my kitchen. My kitchen. I’m grown ya’ll!

I tear up just thinking of those years as a child, watching her pressure cook meat, grate coconuts for the sos poi (bean sauce). She’d eventually create short cuts but her effort and diligence in the process remained the same. No food poisoning in her kitchen! These days, my lemon juice and sour orange comes in a bottle. No shame in my game. I cannot be rolling lemons around on the counter to generate the extra juice for meat cleaning; it’s all about pouring for me.

So CDC, spare us the meat cleaning instructions, or lack thereof. Entire developing nations have managed to survive salmonella and other food borne diseases just fine. If memory serves me correct, diseases have been INTRODUCED not generated in third world countries.

The children of those people are still doing just fine without your well intentioned (but thoroughly misguided) input.

Growing Up Haitian

Growing up Haitian: Lakay, Lekol, Leglise

I’ve been MIA for a few. Working solo practice as a Psychotherapist has created more space for my professional life and less space for my writing life. Since both are on my vision board by choice, I’ve gotta do better in creating the balance for each of my priorities, assuring equity and compassion for myself along the way.

That being said, I wanted to highlight Haitian Heritage Month (in May) with the three concepts that have guided most Haitian households as a culture. Lakay (home), Lekol (school), Leglise (church). Not sure if I’ve got them in the ‘official’ order of importance but I think it’s all relative. Suffice to say, if these things were not priority, then you had no priorities.

In this upcoming three part series on “Growing Up Haitian”, I’ll touch on how these aspects of Haitian life impacted me. Disclaimer: I do not speak for the culture, I can only speak for me. That’s why it’s MY blog and not The Haitian People All Over The World blog. But many similar experiences run through the veins of our culture. With the advent of more Haitian-American comedians taking front and center in social media, we have come to realize our similarities crossed the Caribbean Sea and also crossed geographical differences once we found ourselves elsewhere, in particular the U.S. As a people, we’ve got more in common than we don’t and I pray this blog finds the happy medium.

“Lakay” will focus on home life, particularly as a first generation immigrant and the nuances of immigrant life abroad. “Leglise” will speak to our faith in God as a people, keeping in mind our country’s religions runs the gamut, I can only speak for my faith in Christ Jesus. Remember, it’s my blog. Regardless of where you stand with religion, there is no denying the impact it has had on the Haitian people. “Lekol” will highlight what education’s role has been in the lives of a people to whom struggle has been a main course meal. There is much debate to be had on the relevance of education, particularly a college education in this day and age. But you’d be hard pressed to find an old school Haitian parent (and Gen-Exer truth be told) who does not hang their hat and hope on pursuing post secondary learning.

I look forward to nibbling on some “pate” and washing it down with some “jus cerises” with you in these upcoming blogs or better yet some Fritay with accra and fried pork (or turkey if you’re on that healthy tip)!

traveling while noire, Uncategorized

Traveling While Noire: The Devil Is In The Details

For those who have read my blogs over the years, you already know I’m the bookish type.  I was reading my set of World Book Encyclopedia while some were probably outside playing street football or watching MTV back in the day.  Taking French also went against the grain because most of my peers opted to take Spanish as a foreign language course. I was a history buff and it only made sense for me to study the language my mother rarely spoke. French was/is a language taught in schools in Haiti.  But in more homes, than I care to admit to, the language will most likely die with our elders. For me taking French was yet another way I could connect with my introvertish mom. I’d go home and practice the fancy pronunciations with her and she’d repeat them (correctly) back to me.  I’d be too excited to double back to her about some new French culture thing I’d learn.  Education was a valued experience, but it was usually not a shared one in some Haitian homes.  When the opportunity came to travel to Paris recently, it literally took me about four weeks to get flights and hotels confirmed.

To me, the adventure in traveling always begins in the planning stages.  I’m an organizer by nature and I enjoy working out a plan from scratch. I nearly lost some locs in the planning, but I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed looking up hotels, train schedules, tour information and comparing the cost of everything; all for the sake of getting a good deal.  This blog will highlight what to keep in mind in the traveling planning phase, specifically for a trip abroad. Petty disclaimer: abroad at this point in life needs to translate to *any trip that takes you away from the North American continent*. I’m all for Cozumel but we have a whole entire country north of us and others well beyond our wall-less borders that we can visit within our lifetime.  So here goes!

Research Flights and Lodging

I know, I know.  Asking anyone to take the time to read through reviews, blogs and tour options may sometimes be a drag, but how else will you know where to go, what to do and what to avoid?  Websites that I used included the usual (Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak) and a new one shared by a friend,  Google up some other options and let your fingers do the haggling.  Keep in mind, the cheaper the tickets, the less wiggle room you have if you need to change and upgrade pass the 24 hours from purchase cut off time. Invest in business class if your pockets allow or in the row right before business class.  Pay attention to the plane’s layout and you’ll be able to see that somewhere up front is a row that faces the wall before the first class. When I tell you! That row saved my knees. I was even able to stand up and host an entire one person yoga stretch class and all!  Either way, count yourself among the number whatever seat you end up choosing.  Our pockets ain’t all the same and there’s no shame in that.  

Now if you have the plug with chain hotels, feel free to lean on those friendships now and butter them up for more opportunities to save.  People who work for chain hotels, don’t come for me.  I’m just trying to make you new “fake friends” in 2019! Lol!  If you’re into the “live like the natives” experience, feel free to review what’s shared about non-chain hotels. I knew that after 10-12 hour days out and about, I needed the comfort of a space that somewhat reminded me of home.  So chain hotels worked for me. In reading blogs, I even discovered opportunities to rent intimately sized homes where you sneezed and the window curtains moved. Nah… I’m good.  But do you boo!

While you’re doing this, read up on what the State Department has to say about where you’re going.  France is in a maelstrom right now. People are asking for the president’s resignation. Taxes are high and patience is running low.  Sorta like the French Revolution… I kept checking weekly and listening to NPR and others as the days went by. If you’re not listening to reliable international news source, (not to be confused with American media), you’re shortchanging yourself in life.  Period.

Research What You’re Going To Do

Think about who you’re traveling with and what you plan to do.  Face it, are you willing to travel with someone (paying all your hard earned dollars) who will eat Five Guys burgers every day because they won’t try anything new?  At the very least travel with people who are willing to explore beyond the norm.  Keep into account your fellow traveler(s). Introverts aren’t too keen on spending the entire time in location-packed spaces.  Extroverts could care less about walking down quiet streets with minimal interactions. Stretch your fellow trip travelers a bit without making it a taxing experience.  I’m a history buff but I didn’t count on my husband being sooo *eyes rolling* into the experience that I was just tired of looking at him go to and fro taking photos and daring me to dare him to sit on thousands of year old statues. Note to self: Don’t think you can conquer Louvre in one day.  We did three hours and only conquered Venice de Milo, Monna Lisa, and Egyptian antiquities. I was only to happy to slip into a quiet French cafe thereafter and decompress with a glass of mulled wine. Suffice to say, Louvre does owe me a couple more days of walking, among other places we visited.  We visited during winter, and I can only imagine what Paris looks like in the Spring. When you travel, don’t just do the usual. As much as I love to plan in advance, I’ve learned to land in the city, get a feel for the locale and chat it up with the hotel people, the street corner vendor, the random person on the train or the ever-reliable Uber drivers.  They usually give the best suggestions that will never make its way onto a sponsored website.  I got a couple of tours purchased on Trip Advisor but not before I went onto those tour websites directly and compared prices right down to the taxes.  Sometimes you save with the options and sometimes you don’t. And don’t sleep on Groupon!  

Flights are booked.  Lodging is handled. Tours are situated.  In the interim between anxiously waiting to “be out” and landing there, you can always read up on some blogs, look up the weather forecasts (the Farmer’s Almanac is also helpful), and if you’re extra like that, start putting your Pinterest travel outfits together.  Lemme tell you! French women don’t play about fashion. As cold as it was in Paris, the ladies were not afraid to rock the heeled boots, the short skirts with tights and their signature outerwear. You can always tell a woman’s taste by the type of coats and scarves she prefers to wear.  Derailed thought aside, read up on the culinary options. There are even websites that can direct you to private home parties. I had a friend who traveled to Lyon that was invited to a morning of fresh market shopping for his meal. Later that evening he wined and dined with total strangers in a beautiful kitchen, cooking up his personal favorites, that he personally shopped for earlier in the day.  

Your homework:

Each blog will end with homework.  I’m a social worker, so humor me.

  1. If you do not have a passport, get one. It’s been said 80% of African-Americans do not have passports.  That’s problematic, to say the least.  Your worldview is constricted to the square miles it takes you to go to work and back home with the usual activities in between.  There’s a whole world of folks out there who aren’t hung up on your skin color and your hair.  They’re more concerned about your mind and your heart.  There’s a whole world of folks out there who are curious about you and sometimes it comes across as outright fear.  How else are you going to experience either, if you don’t first extend yourself?  
  2. If you have a passport, double check and ensure it’s not going to expire in less than two years (which is typically about as much time as it will take to plan for a great abroad trip).  Make sure your fellow travelers are up on game.  There’s nothing worse than dealing with a “Johnny-come-Lately” who neglected to mention his passport has expired and he wants his half of the money back.  Or better yet, he didn’t bother to pay you back, to begin with.  Trust me when I say, you don’t want them kinda troubles in your life. 
  3. If you’re good with the above, invest in getting a Global Entry Pass.  That covers you for TSA PreCheck and International Re-entry for five years.  What is Global Entry Pass you say? Visit the U.S. Customs Border and Protection for more details.  I think of it as a carte blanche that blesses your very tired soul when you come down from an international flight via Miami International.  As you see other international travelers fly in from all over get cramped up in those lines, you will seamlessly and graciously bypass all of that.  Disclaimer: if you have some stuff on your dossier that you aren’t too proud of,  you may wanna save your coins and endure the long lines.  No need in having Customs Border Patrol revisit your past and thereby place you on some newly formed “Imma be fresh if the Feds watching” list.  

We’ll chat it up more about my first trip to Europe (Paris and Germany).  Bear with me while I still adjust to the six-hour time difference.

Every Day Living

Traveling While Noire: Know Your Role

It’s peak travel season for me and the level of brain space it takes to pack for five trips in five weeks… I promise you it all looked good on paper but.

Group trips can be a bit easier to manage. What helps in traveling with your squad is assigning everyone a responsibility in the planning. There are several people you want on your travel team. Not just for the cute T-shirt’s and shorts Instagram photos, but rather for making sure everyone enjoys themselves, remains safe and returns to their loved ones in one peace. With no bail money spent. So think about your crew and figure out if it’s worth traveling miles away just to incur massive migraines or in my case, memorable moments. Here’s who can make your trip go from bust to banging.

The Planner

This person is a type A personality who lacks trust in others. They are the control freak of the group and has strengths in the area of research, creating itineraries and actually reading the fine print. You want them on the front leg of the trip planning. If you opt out of having a planner, you’ll be staying at a roach infested Air BnB because no one took the time to read the reviews and ask a gazillion questions. They call the trip meetings, download the event apps, and sends texts every morning with reminders for what outfits need to be packed.

The Holder of the Purse

In the past, this person has scored your crew Lauryn Hill tickets at fraction of the price so you’ll only be disappointed at only a fraction of the cost. She’s always scouting for the tour deals and has multiple tabs active on her smartphone. No deal is final without her haggling. When you get there, she’s still on some app trying to get meals at a cheaper price depending on what position the sun is in, or however she seems to get those deals. Let her take the wheel when it comes to bargain shopping on your travels. And don’t ask any questions when she’s gotten the price down to a third of the cost.

The Free Spirit

Now this person is only let loose once you land at your destination. You keep her caged and muzzled because you can’t account for whatever rash decisions that can potentially ruin your trip before you get there. Tape her hands to keep her from posting on social media all your business to the house burglars. She’s spontaneous and not afraid of taking risks. Whether it’s convincing the group to sky dive or leading you to perdition in one fell swoop, she is the LITeral life of the party and she will make it her mission to have you step out of your comfort zone at least once during trip. Her motto: you only live once.

The Archivist

She’s the one with the fancy camera or the high end smartphone. With a smartphone in her hands, the Insta-Stories will be epic. With a camera, she will take the best photos for your Travel photo books. She is functioning as the keeper of these wondrous memories. She’s taking meal photos, outfit photos, weird people photos, room photos–you name it. She considers it her purpose in life to document your friendship so when you’re in the nursing home many moons from now, you will have the photo books to share with the nurses. After all, diaper changes will be something they look forward to with you. There is however one caveat to this role. Your group’s archivist must know what discretion means in spirit and in truth. No one wants to explain to the pastor of First Church of the Sanctified and Formerly Ratchet Saints why their twerking videos went live on Snapchat. The saints are always watching!

The UN Peacekeeper

Your travel buddies may dance on your nerves a few times while away. You forgot how long they took showers. You didn’t realize their hair weaves shed like a whole pet! When personalities collide for a moment in time, fireworks may pop off. Side note: traveling with problematic people should be seriously REconsidered. If you can’t deal with them on any other day, you may opt to forgo traveling with them any other time. The peacekeeper isn’t here for war time measures. She’s here for the mini flare ups because she knows her friends well enough to run interference. She’s usually the one taking you for a walk or texting you some silly meme to make you laugh. Her job is to make everyone holla and bring us back to the purpose of your time together–making memories.

Whether it’s a crew of two or twenty, try and be sure you’ve at least identified one person to fit these roles. The memories mean more when you’ve arrived at your destination safely, you had a fantabulous time and you can honestly say you would do it again in a heartbeat.

Lord knows I hate packing for trips, yet knowing the caliber of friends I travel with, I cannot wait to share this finite time with them. Here’s to catching flights this summer season with your friends!


Sistah Take A Seat: Where Are Your Receipts?

I shared the Mother’s Day message with my home church this year entitled “Who Is On Your Couch?” In a conversation with someone the other day, she shared how important it was to find a space in every city she moved to where she can be herself. That space is on both the couch of a therapist and then the couch of a friend. I’ll talk about the former comment in a later blog: how to choose a therapist.

Naturally, this led me to reflecting on who was on my couch, what role they played and how did they enrich, challenge, and benefit my wellbeing. Wisdom, Accountability and Friendship were the three values I felt were necessary to keep my couch balanced. So as I chop up this speaking series into written form, allow me the license that speakers don’t necessarily have; to delve a little deeper. That’s why writing is my primary go to. There’s no timer included.

Let’s unpack this whole wisdom thing. The word wisdom is losing it’s appeal as the years advance. We live in a time where people want quick fixes and they’re not interested in the process of marinating in information, testing it out and then applying it. Heck! Half the time they’re not even interested in hearing the information to begin with! I encounter people who only want to hear the first minute of what you have to say and tune out thereafter.

It’s happened to me on the receiving end. If it’s in person, they start fidgeting with their phone, their eyes glaze over and it’s a wrap. If it’s over the phone, they ask you a question to break up your conversation in the middle of what you’re saying. Subtle hints that you didn’t give them what they needed in 59 seconds or less. Warning, if you don’t like to read anything with potential for added value to your life and you don’t care to read this, stop right here and go back to living your life business as usual.

Job 12:12 reminded me that wisdom is found among our elders and that living a long life brings with it understanding. We’ve lost that concept along the way. We think our contemporaries have the answers and we neglect the counsel of the (aging) wise. We’ve ditched mentorship for tolerance and ill advised behavior. I remember when one of my mentors and I were talking about homeownership and the cost of everything going up. It wasn’t too long after the housing crash. As new homeowners, hubby and I were skating on some tough times financially so she mentioned the concept of amortization and making bi-weekly payments. She also mentioned NACA (do your research) I had never heard of it and if I was that person who let things go in one ear and have it ooze out the other, I would have missed out on some wise counsel. We refinanced for the sake of our interest rate and it was the best advice she could ever give me. She’s my go to person on all things financial. From her I learned about creating a trust. It’s something I need to get around to doing and I can never say she didn’t tell me and that she doesn’t have the proof that she knows what she’s talking about.

Which leads me to the title of this blog. Where are the receipts? When people tell me something, I do this mental chewing of sorts. Earlier in Job 12, it says and I paraphrase, “Aren’t you testing out first what you hear? Aren’t you taste testing first what you eat?” Or are you the one that gobbles down the food without a thought and wonder why you end up with heartburn? So yeah…I chew on what’s shared with me. I look for the wisdom in it, the practical application in it. This particular mentor owns multiple properties, isn’t afraid to continue investing even in her advancing years and isn’t afraid to take risks. See, she has receipts. Her receipts read to me like this: she’s been in this game of life for several minutes more than me, she has loved and lost and loved again, she’s made mistakes and learned from them and she’s mindful of her financial prowess.

So yeah… I need to see that when somebody opens their mouth to speak on anything, they are backed up with facts. When the college student does a literature review, the professor is not looking for opinions, they are looking for facts from journals not what some YouTube vlogger is trying to sell.

How do you check receipts? Line them up with the Word of God—The Bible. Yeah, I guess you expected me to get all progressive on you and keep it PG. Welp! Nope. I read and learn from a lot of books. But the one book that stands heads taller than them all continues to be the infallible Word of God. Enough said.

How do you check receipts? By actually sitting with people and get this—conversing with them. What a novel idea!!! This whole mentorship via YouTube and Instagram or Facebook is a farce! A farce I say! I follow people I admire on the Gram but I can’t call them when I’m in a bind. I’m lucky to get them to even notice when I tag them! Lol! It’s a sad state of existence when we think that just watching people live life is going to be enough to infer on how to live ours.

You can’t identify counterfeit receipts unless you’re up close and personal with others. You need to be able to take a pen to their 100 dollar bills of values and principles to see if it’s the real deal or if it’s fake. It takes a lot of work to identify the real versus the counterfeit. Yeah, you can start by looking at patterns and behaviors, but unless you have studied and work in the fields human behavior and psychology and call out a fake a mile away (fringe benefit of my profession and Godly discernment) you have to take the risk to get to know who can pour into your life and who can’t.

I get paid to mentor people in the mental health profession. I automatically bring my best to the experience. But the fact that they are a consumer reminds me I owe it to my interns to be more than my personal best. Mentorship is not a paid experience. For each person you check receipts from, they have to demonstrate that they have cleared the path you’re trying to get on.

You looking for marriage mentors? Check receipts for years of marriage, transparency in conversations and the fruits yielded from their relationship with each other. One of my mentors was married and divorced and remarried to her husband again! Now she’s got receipts of all sorts from which I have learned from. You looking for professional mentors? Check receipts that include their resume, their line of work, their endurance in the profession, their level of ambition. You looking for a mentor period? Check their receipts for values, principals, integrity, relationships with others in the community, testimonials from other mentees. Above all, pray and ask God to lead you to the right person. I did. And He did.

Checking receipts makes you realize what and who you can then accept counsel from. There’s a right fit for everyone. I realized a long time ago, can’t just anybody handle my sauce! Some find it too spicy. I can be direct. Some find it too bland. I can be methodical. Some find it too rich. I can be altruistic (or use big words like altruistic). Lol! The one with cleared receipts is not going to change who they are to accommodate the one checking receipts. Like relationships, there is someone for everyone out there. If you don’t like what they’re selling, move on to the next person. Just. One. Thing. Though. Don’t allow your pride, your insecurities or your fears to be the reason why you missed out on sitting at someone’s feet.

Your homework (should you be brave to accept it):

Identify three real life people that you know and admire (work, church, organization, etc.) Invite them out for a meal. Be intentional in speaking to them about this season in your life and if the Holy Spirit is leading, ask the one you feel led to ask to be your mentor. Be specific in what you are looking for in a mentor and what you feel they can offer in the way of counsel, advice and challenges.

Now I know some of us have some deep rooted issues with rejection. It may not be the right time for that person or they know it may not be a good fit. But you won’t know unless you ask. People are not mind readers. It’s not fair for anyone to know they were your “pretend” mentor when you never gave them the opportunity to apply for the job. There is a level of intimacy in the mentor/mentee relationship that isn’t all roses and tulips. It may not be the right timing for them, but don’t look at it as a form of rejection. Rather receive it as you doing something fearless on your way to personal growth.

So go out there! Be brave. Check receipts and take the next steps to becoming a transformed and evolved version of you.


Blogger’s Block

I’m a firm believer that if I don’t have anything to blog about, I won’t blog. New followers on the site won’t hype me up. Which got me wondering who are these new people and how did they find me? Introvert writer’s issues… A casual comment about my absence on WordPress won’t wake the sleeping dragon either. So yeah… there’s something percolating in my mind right now. It’s around the concept of mentorship, women in leadership roles, sisterhood. But I’m asking the Holy Spirit to show me some other things before I put fingers to typing.

In the mean time, do what I do. Read some of the old stuff, let it sit in your spirit for a few. Read a book. I’m like on five. One on spiritual awakening. One on how not to be a wife to a boyfriend. So yeah I’m married but there’s a summer book club that literally morphed into something unexpected. That’s usually God doing his thing. Who knows? I might get hyped after that! Lol!

Sometimes my own words come back to encourage (or haunt) me from a past season in my life. May is a tough month emotionally for me, so I go back and read the grief and loss blogs because I’d like to check my emotional pulse and see where I am with the whole missing my mom thing. There’s no getting around this month. So I might as well bulldoze through it.

Sooo much has gone on of late in my life. Some material for the blog and some for this book I really need to get back into writing. It’s true what they say. Summer bodies are made in the winter. Started on this quest for fitness again and I like the way I feel and look.

Oh yeah! I cut my sisterlocks. It’s this asymmetrical bob thingy. No I’m not going through a crisis. I just got up one day, didn’t tell anyone and just went to the barber. Now I have to get used to people staring at me when I first meet them after this hair cut. Introvert issues…sigh.

Enough about me. Do enjoy this spring, mom, grads and dad season. I know I plan to! Make new memories along the way.

Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Black Does Crack

I’m a month shy of another birthday and I still get the “well you don’t look it” comments followed by a quick side eye. Not sure if it’s my stature, face or choice in clothes that lead people to say what they say, but I take it with a grain of salt. Flattery gets you nowhere with me. A young client said she looked me up on Psychology Today and her friend asked “Well how old is she?” My client’s response was “You know Black women. Their black don’t crack. She can be anywhere between twenty and eighty years old for all I know!” That made me laugh. Close enough. I’ll be forty-three and proud of it.

But it got me to thinking. For the most part, they’re right. Black does not crack. Women of other cultures (albeit reluctantly) agree that there’s something about our skin that belies our age. Our energy speaks to that of younger years. We’ve got that “go getter” aura about us. No wilting flowers here! What we project to others lead many to think we will one day be just like Elijah, where God will simply pluck us up from the earth in a blaze and carry us to glory.

But our black does crack. There are cracks in our collective spirits as women of color that go unseen. Our husbands and children are oblivious to it. Our parents have no clue. Our closest friends would be shocked to see the leakage taking place in our lives.

Yes our black does crack. Each time you have to over advocate at the doctor’s office for a mammogram a few years earlier than your insurance requires, a crack is created. You fill each cancer question with a yes and they still want to deny you the biopsy because “you’re not old enough”. You come in with twenty questions about your health and damned if only two get answered! The minute you start “WebMD-ing” your health care provider, their eyes glaze over and you stop because your mama raised you to be polite and not cuss.

Yes our black does crack. Each time we have to overcompensate in leadership positions. There’s that impatience from others when we speak. We are too intense, too serious, too angry. What do we know? We’ve only been educated and qualified to do our jobs. The suppressed looks of surprise when we talk through doors for the first time and our voices don’t match the locs/hair weaves/or mountains of curls on our head. Bill collectors voice meets Black skin and the world screeches to a sudden halt.

Yes our black does crack. Each time we have to teach our children how to protect themselves from the evils of this world; to know the difference between overt and subliminal attempts to demean them. Each time our Black husbands come home with yet another story of how he was passed over for something or other and you can’t help but wonder why. Where you have to be his number one cheerleader each and every day because the media and society (as the slave masters before them believed) say he should be good for nothing but breeding and breaking his back in the fields.

Yes our black does crack. When we’ve committed to living in our communities but the health food store is way out yonder. You drive and see everything that can be fried is just a few dollars within reach and everything that’s broiled or baked is not. Knowing that just one generation before, your ancestors plucked what they needed from the earth and needed no modern medicine to heal them. Fast forward to now and everything’s suddenly become “holistic” and suddenly out of reach. Them same leaves grandma used to mash up in the bowl before she boiled and gave to you now cost a pretty penny sitting in pretty bottles–in the store.

As our faces continue to age backwards, our body, mind and soul continues to come under attack. There is nothing easy about being a Sistah in a world that loves you via appropriation of your natural beauty. Your hair looked like Medusa when you were growing out your baby locs; it now looks like something cute and fashionable on someone else. Nostrils and lips that were once parodies in cartoons are now the number one requests at the plastic surgeon’s office. The derrières of our mothers which were (honestly) earned from heavy lifting and hard work are now what sends many in droves to the gym! All poor and lackluster attempts at seeking the eternal youth they believe we possess.

Where are the cracks in your life? Is your soul barren? Is your health compromised? Is your spirit suffering from the silence that’s threatening to snuff it out? Don’t spend your lifetime perpetuating a lie.