Being a Black woman is a double-edged sword that is skillfully crafted and delicately balanced. On the one hand, we have been honed and sculpted into powerful, independent women who can look after ourselves and our loved ones, while still creating significant works of art. On the other side, there are times when the pain of our forced invincibility and independence pierces so deeply that an endless stream of blood, sweat, and tears flows.
Overuse has made us dull, but we still shine. After all, Black women are the only things to grow without nourishment. Yet, despite our incredible achievement, this precarious balance shouldn't have become our norm. With protection on one end and potential danger lurking around the other, we shouldn't have accepted this balancing act as the ultimate truth. If we stop considering the blades of this sword as an inevitable outcome, it may lose its edge.
Therefore, rather than being content with the fact that we were injured one moment and recovered the next, we should want to fully heal ourselves to avoid engaging in this dangerous balancing act. To make sure our healing is effective and less risky, here are the top self-help/self-development books to help every Black woman set these blades aside to become someone where their overuse is never necessary.
'Daring Greatly,' 'Atlas of the Heart,' and 'The Power of Vulnerability' by Brené Brown
'Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead' by Brené Brown
Brené Brown's holy trifecta, in my opinion, are these three books. These self-help books detail how shame and fear have influenced our behaviors and, in turn, our lives, with each book building on the one before it. However, these books don't only bring to light our flaws or fear of being flawed, but they provide us with information on how to escape its stifling hold. Whether it is daring to be great (Daring Greatly), choosing vulnerability in moments of uncertainty (The Power of Vulnerability), or understanding our emotions and why they are felt (Atlas of the Heart), Brown's readings will help you develop by finally allowing you to understand yourself and why you behave the way you do.
'Atomic Habits' by James Clear
'Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones' by James Clear
Atomic Habits is a self-help book that I admit took me a while to get to, but as time passes, I find it's one I love the most. Atomic Habits offers readers suggestions on how to maintain easy habits that will gradually add up to the impact they desire for the life they desire. It is an essential guide for eradicating bad habits and establishing good ones in just four easy stages. It illustrates how minor, consistent alterations to daily routines over time can result in considerable, beneficial change. This book won't make fun of you for the behaviors you already have or how you even started developing them. Instead, it highlights the things that we have accepted as part of ourselves through normalization and shows us why changing it might help us for the better.
'Hood Feminism' by Mikki Kendall
'Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot' by Mikki Kendall
Another novel I would recommend reading for self-development is Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall. This reading addresses the feminist movement's current blind spot: women. Despite the fact that Black women (and women of color) experience food insecurity, a lack of a livable salary, restricted access to high-quality healthcare, and limited access to excellent education, these issues are never brought up when the feminist movement is discussed. Consequently, the feminist movement hasn't made much progress. Kendall highlights the various issues that affect Black women on a long-term basis, such as race, class, and sexual orientation, and how these overlap with gender. This book will inspire you to become the feminist you've always been and wanted to be; it inspires everyone to embody the true goals of the feminist movement in words and actions.
'The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love' by Sonya Renee Taylor
'The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love' by Sonya Renee Taylor
"The Body Is Not an Apology" is a global movement that proclaims to be driven by love, and focuses on how to heal wounds brought on by other people's beliefs, morality, and bodies. This book, written by eminent activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor encourages readers to rediscover the revolutionary roots of their minds and bodies to celebrate the enduring power of community. Taylor exhorts people to disrupt the institutions that support body shame and oppression against all by putting aside ingrained body shame. This reading will transform your life in realms that you'd never believe. I discovered countless ways to be more sympathetic toward my body and the container that houses my spirit through reading The Body Is Not an Apology. With the help of this text, I developed a softer gaze when I looked in the mirror.
'Unf*ck Yourself' by Gary John Bishop
'Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life' by Gary John Bishop
The excellent self-help bookUnf*ck Yourself discusses how we could be getting in our own way. This book, which I think should be listened to as an audiobook, frankly deconstructs the numerous ways we've managed to screw ourselves over and the ways in which other things are just beyond our control. Gary John Bishop explains to readers how to escape our minds and begin living our most fulfilling lives through insightful advice and vulgar language, just as he would if he were speaking to a friend.
'Your Next Level Life' by Karen Arrington
'Your Next Level Life: 7 Rules of Power, Confidence, and Opportunity for Black Women in America' by Karen Arrington
Karen Arrington's Your Next Level Life makes me want to grab my sisters and exclaim, "Giiiiiirrrrll, do I have a book for you!" This book offers seven ways for one to start living their best lives in their work, lifestyle, and wealth with the legacy of Black greatness in mind. It tells Black women that we don't have to accept an existence of inferiority and obscurity. Instead, we can make large plans, aim for greater chances, and have confidence in our ability to fight for what is rightfully ours. A quick read, this book will have you return to it over and over, again.
'You Are a Badass' by Jen Sincero
'You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life' by Jen Sincero
Whether you want to listen to it as an audiobook or flip through the pages quickly, any way you decide to devour this book, you won't be sorry. Jen Sincero's book You Are a Badass effectively educates you on the fact that you are a badass. And despite the fact that society and life can show you the opposite, this book serves as a reminder of all the different ways you are magnificent. This self-help book demonstrates the various methods we might start believing in ourselves to accomplish our goals, as opposed to doubting our abilities. The book is humorous, light on difficult subjects, and ultimately wonderful in that it lays out easy steps for living the lives we were designed to live.
'The Body Keeps the Score' by Bessel van der Kolk
'The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma' by Bessel van der Kolk
The book The Body Keeps the Scoreexplores how trauma shapes and controls how people live their lives. It is likely the most significant book on this list for me because of how my mental health has changed. Bessel van der Kolk explains how numerous traumas we have endured in our lives are still influencing us today in this book using research and actual situations. He illustrates the numerous ways our interactions with others shape our relationships with ourselves, regardless of whether our problems began with our parents or developed as a result of constant struggles. Bessel van der Kolk demonstrates how the horror and isolation at the center of trauma literally transform the brain and body. This book will leave readers in awe of their resiliency and the ability our connections have to both harm and heal.
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Taysha Robinson is a writer and high school English teacher, based in metro-Atlanta. A self described philomath, you can find her reading books and articles of every genre, attending educational conferences, and hiking wherever the terrain will allow.
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From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
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