By now I'm sure you've heard about the viral story surrounding digital marketing and media strategist Karen Civil and comedian, influencer, and media personality Jessie Woo. If not, I'll give you a quick recap.
Things got tense when Jessie Woo claimed that Karen Civil "pretended" to book her for an event in order to "obtain personal information" and serve her with "an extortion case for the sum of three million dollars at the fake booking and had it recorded it order to pass the video around the industry with the goal to embarrass and intimidate" her. Then, things began to spiral even more into a frenzy when Karen Civil responded via the Clubhouse app, stating that Jessie is just looking for attention and has been publicly defaming her for months, which was her reasoning for the defamation suit. During this conversation, an artist and popular media personality also weighed in sharing that Karen had committed wrongful acts toward them as well.
During this conversation, an artist and popular media personality also weighed in sharing that Karen had committed wrongful acts toward them as well.
To be honest, when this story initially dropped I was hoping it was released in error. Karen Civil has worked with notable artists, politicians, and more. She's someone I've followed for years, and dare I say, even looked up to. And although I was introduced to Jessie Woo more recently, I've grown to truly enjoy her content and music. In case you didn't know, sis can SING.
Karen Civil lost a lawsuit to Jessie Woo & owes her a more than a few bags 💰💰💰 after trying to extort Jessie & hinder future developments and earning in the industry. Good for her ass!! Talking all that Haitian empowerment crap when behind the scenes you the opposite.— 🇭🇹👑 Pash (@AlwaysPash) September 16, 2021
It's truly unfortunate to see two Haitian, talented, and creative women at odds so publically, yet here we are. While I'm still not sure who is right or wrong in this situation, I can say, the whole debacle has taught me a few things.
1. "There’s No Friends In the Industry"
Nah, I have to disagree with Drake on that one. I have a few friends in the industry. But, what I mean by that is, it's important not to confuse business and networking relationships with true friendship. If these women had genuine camaraderie, a conversation would have occurred before things escalated to this level. Remember, just because you share similar interests with someone, that does not always equate to friendship.
2. Your Reputation Will Always Follow You
Cam'ron, Jessie Woo and other people have been warning people about Karen Civil for years, but because she aligned herself up with people like the game and Nicki Minaj or people just didnt like some of her accusers she got off easy. Now Joyner Lucas and Jason Lee speaking...😳 pic.twitter.com/UeKr8pQEca— Tae Tae (@4everTae) September 18, 2021
One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes says, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." We're all going to make mistakes and maybe even do or say things we shouldn't. But, when actions are taken that cause others to question your integrity, that is when situations become more complicated. Even when stuff is falling apart, make sure your character remains intact.
3. People Can’t Take Away Your Work
No matter anyone's personal feelings toward you, one thing people can't take away is your work ethic. By not putting your best foot forth professionally, you leave yourself open to business and personal scrutiny. But, when you put time and effort into your skill, your work will continue to thrive even through personal adversity and shortcomings.
I hope both women are able to resolve their issues or at least keep it off the internet. To learn more about the Karen Civil and Jessie Woo debacle, check out The Grio.
Featured image via Getty Images
When I think about actresses who have been cultural figures throughout my lifetime, Gabrielle Union-Wade is truly one of the first names that come to mind. I can recall being on the playground in grade school urging my friends to learn the cheer routines from Bring it On just as easily as I can remember a few years ago watching Being Mary Jane, crying from the relatability of Mary Jane's life struggles (a story for another day). It's inspiring to watch a powerful black woman whose art has been a consistent source of entertainment and influence. Although I must say, I think many of us have grown to cherish her personal journey and stories just as much.
Through avenues like social media and her first book, We're Going to Need More Wine, Gabrielle has shared her highs and lows, life-changing moments, and more. Now in her latest novel, You Got Anything Stronger?, she continues to let audiences into other intimate details of her life, including her journey to motherhood.
In 2018, Gabrielle Union welcomed her first child via surrogate. After publicly sharing her issues with fertility, many of us felt a sigh of relief and genuine happiness from the announcement. However, in her latest memoir, she shares the complete truth behind what we saw online. Yes, she was elated, but there's a lot more to the story. From questioning the validity of her motherhood to healing after her now husband's 'break baby' years before, she details her surrogacy journey.
Time Magazine shared an excerpt from the new release, and all I'm gonna say is, I understand the realness of the title. Because I would need a shot.
Unfortunately, a lot of us have dealt with the fall-out of infidelity. The feeling of deceit and hurt is indescribable. But for most of us, we're able to heal privately. Sure, we may talk to friends and family, but no one knows except the people we choose to tell. Obviously, as a prominent star, it was different for Gabrielle Union. Imagine having millions of people aware of your situation while you are still processing the intensity of the pain. She writes:
"The experience of Dwyane having a baby so easily—while I was unable to—left my soul not just broken into pieces, but shattered into fine dust scattering in the wind."
According to studies, Black women are almost twice as likely to experience infertility than white women. Gabrielle Union is no different, she suffered what she describes as, "more miscarriages than she could confidently count" and an adenomyosis diagnosis, frequent pain, and heavy bleeding that is associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. She knew something had to shift, but when her doctor recommended surrogacy, Union was determined to find another outcome. This resulted in multiple IVF cycles and losses. She was even willing to try Lupron, a drug that had only a 30% success rate and dire side effects.
"Why was I so willing to risk myself for a chance? If there was another way for me to bring my baby into the world, and have my health, why was it so hard for me to make peace with that?"
This decision led to initial insecurity meeting the surrogate, feeling the grief of prior miscarriages, and ultimately a complex sea of emotions and gratitude for Kaavia's birth.
"If I am telling the fullness of our stories, of our three lives together, I must tell the truths I live with. And I have learned that you can be honest and loving at the same time."
As a woman who desires motherhood one day, I think stories like this are needed. Motherhood doesn't look one way, and Gabrielle Union's authentic way of sharing the emotions that come with this, is part of why I and so many others gravitate toward her.
Anyway, I'm excited to add her book to the fall reading list, but I can tell it's going to be intense. If you're interested in checking it out, it's available for purchase here.
Read more of her Time Magazine essay here.
Featured image by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images
Venus Williams is one of the highest-regarded athletes of our time. She has multiple trophies and Grand Slams, she competes at a high level that many of us will never understand, and she's related to one of the most important sports figures that changed the shape of the history of sports as we know it: Mr. Richard Williams.
Oh, and Serena too.
And, when she's not expanding her widely successful tennis career, you can catch Venus building businesses, advocating for wage equality, and raising awareness about mental health and self-care. Because Venus is so busy, and if you were to look to her sister, who has married and has a precious four-year-old daughter, this struck the need for people to feel like they can chime in on when she plans to settle down and have kids, which sis was notttt feeling at all.
In fact, when asked how she deals with social pressures to have children and settle down with someone long-term, she said:
"I like my life and I don't want to change it for any reason."
Bloooop. She added:
"I have a lot of friends who don't believe me when I say that I like my life and I don't want to change it for any reason. I'm not desperate and they don't believe me. They say things like, 'You're going to miss your window.' I'm like, 'Please, relax. You might feel this way, but I don't. I promise you I don't.'"
Lord, how many times do we have to talk about this? Mind your own uterus! And if you don't have one, guess what? Guess what?! What society says is for women, may not be what that woman wants and that is OK. Venus has taken on many roles, and if she doesn't want to be a mother, that is her choice.
Instead, she chooses to focus on supporting a balanced mental health for female athletes, which has been under the spotlight in recent months, after fellow-queens Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles opened up about their experiences. Venus revealed her own struggles at points during her career, where tough took on a whole new meaning. She detailed her struggles in an opinion piece for the New York Times, she said:
"I used to think that winning depended on my physical health. Then my mother told me, that was only the half of it.
"It doesn't matter who you are... you can't divorce mental health from anything you do. It impacts your physical well-being, your decision-making, your ability to cope with difficult moments. Admitting you're vulnerable is no joke. It isn't easy to ask for help or confide in people about having emotional struggles."
This echoed the sentiments of both Osaka and Biles, who famously prioritized their own well-being over any performative expectation in front of them, which is key to taking care of yourself whole-heartedly, no matter what.
In the meantime, my good sis Venus said she'll be over here on vacation, reading, relaxing, and taking care of her damn self. And I ain't mad at it.
Watch the clip of her discussing what's next (her way) below:
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It was 48 years ago when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a 7-2 decision in the case of Roe v. Wade. This single case granted women in the United States the fundamental right to choose whether or not to have abortions without excessive government restriction. And it was four months ago when Texas state Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that makes abortion procedures illegal six weeks into a pregnancy. Thus, making it one of the nation's strictest abortion measures.
How? Most women don't even know they are pregnant at six weeks.
At the bill signing ceremony, Governor Abbott stated:
"Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion."
And recently, SCOTUS ruled in support of the Texas abortion ban.
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The Supreme Court justices once ruled Texas abortion bans as unconstitutional and now, they have ruled Texas's newest abortion ban as constitutional. If this doesn't scream contradictory, I don't know what does. I want to clarify that abortion is not illegal in the state of Texas nor is it illegal nationwide. But abortion is becoming less accessible.
Other states can regulate and limit the use of abortion. States with "trigger laws" or unenforced pre-Roe abortion bans written into their laws include Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah. If Roe v. Wade was overturned, these laws can take immediate effect, making abortion illegal within the first and second trimesters.
What is even scarier is the Supreme Court is scheduled to consider the constitutionality of abortion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. This case concerns a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This same case can ultimately upend Roe v. Wade, leaving abortion rights unprotected in 34 states and five U.S. territories.
What The Texas Abortion Ban Means
The Texas abortion ban, also known as Senate Bill 8, almost prohibits abortion completely, as 85 to 90 percent of abortions happen at the sixth week of pregnancy in Texas. The law states if a doctor can detect a heartbeat, then they cannot perform an abortion. The only exception is for women with medical emergencies. However, Whole Woman's Health, a clinic in Texas reports 90 percent of women who come into their clinic are more than six weeks into their pregnancy. This also means that a woman has six weeks from the first day of their last period to end their pregnancy. This leaves women with at least one to two weeks to make a difficult and emotional life decision. But we all know biology doesn't work that way.
What is different about this specific law is the way it is structured. It was designed to make it difficult to fight abortion cases in court. It also incentivizes abortion providers to comply with the law. According to the Texas Tribune, Senate Bill 8 relieves the government from enforcing the law and allows private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps someone get an abortion after a fetal "heartbeat" has been detected.
And here is the plot twist: the law doesn't require the person suing to be someone who is connected to the person who had the abortion or connected to the provider. So, basically, anyone who is anti-abortion can sue anyone who is in support of abortion.
Yes. You read that correctly.
Because of the broad language of the bill, family members, abortion funds, rape crisis counselors and medical professionals could be open to a lawsuit. What this also means if an abortion case is brought to court, and a judge sided with the plaintiff (the person suing), he or she would be awarded at least $10,000 and costs for attorney's fees. While Senate Bill 8 doesn't allow rapists to sue, it shows no mercy to victims of rape or incest.
Women who are victims of rape, sexual assault, and/or incest are equally subjected to this law too. But the problem is most women do not report rape or any type of sexual violence when it happens.
In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to Abbot's comments about eliminating rapists and allowing women reasonable time to get an abortion.
"I'm sorry we have to break down Biology 101 on national television, but in case no one has informed him before in his life, six weeks pregnant means two weeks late for your period. And two weeks late on your period ... can happen if you're stressed, if your diet changes, or for really no reason at all. So, you don't have six weeks."
The Texas abortion ban would also require doctors that are sued to report the lawsuit upon renewal of their medical licenses. And 24 hours before the law went into effect in Texas, patients were waiting five to six hours to have their procedures done at one of the Whole Woman's Health Texas locations.
The Supreme Court’s Decision
We should all be able to make our own decisions about our health & future. We have to fight for everyone’s reproductive freedom. Join me in standing with the women of Texas, sign the petition https://t.co/7A7e6TokUw #BanOffOurBodies pic.twitter.com/kNLkXksdW5— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) September 1, 2021
"The applicants now before us have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issues. But their application also presents complex and novel questions antecedent procedural questions on which they have not carried their burden."
The written opinion goes onto explain:
"And it is unclear whether the named defendants in this lawsuit can or will seek to enforce Texas law against the applicants in a manner that might permit our intervention. The state has represented that neither it nor its executive employees possess the authority to enforce the Texas law either directly or indirectly. Nor is it clear whether, under existing precedent, this Court can issue an injunction against state judge asked to decide a lawsuit under Texas's law."
Translation? It means that the case brought before the Supreme Court did not strongly meet the burden requirement so that SCOTUS can intervene.
The dissenting justices also filed opinions. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, "The court's order is stunning. The court has rewarded the state's effort to delay federal review of a plainly unconstitutional statute, enacted in disregard of the court's precedents, through procedural entanglements of the state's own creation." Justice Sotomayor further stated, "The court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law."
Chief Justice Roberts wrote, "The statutory scheme before the court is not only unusual but unprecedented. The legislature has imposed a prohibition on abortions after roughly six weeks, and then essentially delegated enforcement of that prohibition to the populace at large. The desired consequence appears to be to insulate the state from responsibility for implementing and enforcing the regulatory regime."
Chief Justice Roberts did not deny the constitutionality of the Texas law either. He explains, "Although the court denies the applicants' request for emergency relief today, the court's order is emphatic in making clear that it cannot be understood as sustaining the constitutionality of the law at issue."
Justice Elena Kagan points out that the court's practice of deciding important issues in rushed decisions is problematic. She states that the court's shadow docket decision-making is "unreasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend." For context, shadow docket decision-making is when the court believes an applicant will suffer "irreparable harm" if the request is not immediately granted. This means decisions are at least a paragraph long, unsigned, and without a full briefing or oral arguments.
Can you imagine a court deciding an issue without hearing oral arguments? Because I cannot, but it does happen.
On a positive note, the Supreme Court's ruling is provisional.
According to the New York Times, challenges to the new Texas law is pending in the lower federal courts and they are able to work through complex issues of the case. I find it interesting that a 1973 abortion case that protected our abortion rights originated from Texas. Now a 2021 Texas abortion case limits access to abortion. And soon a Mississippi abortion case may overturn the same landmark case.
I asked a friend of mine, a local prosecutor, who wants to remain anonymous, their thoughts on the Texas abortion ban. This is what they had to say, "It's mean-spirited nonsense that should be found unconstitutional." My friend wasn't too sure on the procedural questions that the Supreme Court decided on, but agrees that their recent decision "definitely violates their precedent."
I have so many words, yet no words at all. Throughout our country's history, women have fought for their rights in multiple systems, industries, and spaces. We have fought for equality and our voices to be heard. And now in 2021, we are still being told what we can and cannot do with our bodies not only by men but by a system that does not understand the biology of a woman's body or respect a woman's bodily autonomy.
In the words of Tupac Shakur, "Since a man can't make one, he has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one."
Featured image by Getty Images
As a Black child growing up in America, Blackness can look like many different perspectives based on different locations. Oftentimes, cultural conversations are had in separate rooms with only one culture in the room – making it very easy to see Blackness subconsciously as a monolith. I'm from Brooklyn, NYC, the home of the second-largest Afro-Caribbean migrated community in America, second to Florida, according to the Migration Information Source. So as a child, the first massively Black population I was exposed to was the Afro-Caribbean community.
Then, I moved during the middle of middle school to a predominantly white neighborhood in P.A., and it was a complete culture shock. I immediately felt out of place and missing referencing Caribbean cultural topics with my friends back home. In high school, my family moved to a mixed neighborhood, and it exposed me to other types of Blackness, Afro-Latinas, Black Americans, Africans, etc. It wasn't until after college that I thought to myself, wow, I really only know one Black community in-depth, and that's the Afro-Caribbean culture because of how I was raised and moving back to Brooklyn, and it's still my main friend group.
Looking back to what I learned in my history classes, there was very little information given regarding Black history, that's only taught about 8-9% of the school year. So, 1) we're robbed about learning about majority Black American pioneers; and 2) Black immigrants' stories are often misrepresented from Black media and literature, which leaves our learning about each other through who we grew up around, self-educating ourselves, and traveling, which is another luxury in itself.
For way too long, we have been learning about every aspect of whiteness, from Italian, French, British, Germans, etc., and they are all allowed to take up space and be celebrated as separate white cultures globally. But when it comes to Blackness, we're often looked at as homogeneous and robbed the access to all those resources and tend to go off of stereotypes of each other or comparing struggles of each other's journey.
So let's be open to healing from these stereotypes and learn about our actual cultural journeys. Take a look at some of the resources below to be more informed about the collective Black women experience through the lens of various Black cultures like Black American, African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latinas, Bi-racial black women, and transracial Black women experiences.
How To Learn More About The Afro-Caribbean Experience In America
The Afro-Caribbean community in America started increasing in the 1960s throughout the country. Many immigrants moved here thinking the "American dream" is accessible to everyone, when in reality, it's just a scam. Back in the 60s- 90s, it wasn't cool to be from the Caribbean; they were often told to go back on their banana boats to their countries because, in Black Americans' eyes, they were robbing their opportunities, but that was never their goal. They fled from their home countries that didn't face many racist issues but faced classism and economic issues.
Unfortunately, many people weren't educated enough regarding how the Black American community was treated at the time; Afro-Caribbeans heard stories of how intense segregation and Jim Crow Laws were, but hearing about it and living it are two different experiences. Like many immigrant communities, they tend to flee from their countries to spaces that many other people from their communities are, so some of the biggest Caribbean communities in the States are in Florida, NYC, and Atlanta, but they are also sprinkled throughout the nation as well.
Some books to read to familiarize yourself with the Afro-Caribbean experience in America are Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream by Christina M. Greer and Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities by Mary C. Waters. You can also check out a phenomenal documentary series called Small Axe, directed by Steve McQueen, based on the initial migrating Afro-Caribbean community in the U.K. called "Windrush generation."
How To Learn More About The Black American Experience In America
You would think learning about the Black American experience is easy because they are the dominant Black community in America. However, we live in a timeframe where Black culture is celebrated more than Black history. And often, Black history is ostracized from American history, so it's harder to access it if you aren't self-learning.
The community that deserves the most flowers for paving the way for all Black people in America is Black Americans – for all the doors they've opened thus far.
I think it's essential to read some older books based on the Black American experience from the past few decades prior to be more effective with combating issues in the present. Frequently, patterns of oppression repeat themselves but through new ways in a different generation.
Some of my recommendations for every Black person to read is The Autobiography of Malcolm X, written by Malcolm X, and Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by Bell Hooks, which is an informative read about the history of Black feminism in America. There are countless recommendations regarding the modern-day Black experience, like Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The latter thoroughly explains today's modern-day slavery in the nation's mass incarnation system that disproportionally targets Black men.
How To Learn More About The Afro-Latina Experience In America
The Afro-Latina experience feels like such a new age sub-culture of Blackness because for so long, I just heard several Latinas say they were just 'Latina' as if it's a race, or they would say they are Black, but they just speak Spanish based on where they come from. But the truth is, Afro-Latinos collectively have existed for generations. According to Pew Research Center, "for a long time, several Latin countries didn't collect official statistics on ethnicity or race, especially from populations with African origins." It was only within the last few years it's been recorded because of the high demand of minority groups requesting it. This means that many people aren't fully aware of their racial background from those countries.
Afro-Latinas, like Haitians, have another layer of an intersectional Black experience in America because their first language is Spanish, French, or Portuguese. Anyone coming from Hispanic countries, inclusive of the Caribbean, Central America, South America, that comes from African descent are Afro-Latinos. Their race is Black, and their ethnicity is Latinx.
An educational documentary series I watched recently called Black in Latin America opened my eyes to the lineage and discrimination of Afro-Latino communities in Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic, and Brazil. And a great read to get acquainted with to learn more about the Afro-Latina experience in America is The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States by Miriam Jiménez Román.
How To Learn More About The African Woman Experience In America
African women are a unique group of Blackness because they aren't included in the Black diaspora because they come from the motherland. So to all my African-American sistas, you aren't the only ones that don't know where you come from. Afro-Caribbeans and Afro-Latinas also don't know our full roots because we were brought to these western countries based on colonization and slavery.
Don't let our new flags, foods, and cultures fool you; we have always been digging to learn about our African roots too.
They also come from predominantly Black countries that are more fixated on classism and don't deal with as many racist issues as Afro-Caribbean countries. Africans have another intersectional Black experience to deal with in America; many of them speak languages other than English as their native language, like Igbo, Hausa, Oromo, Yoruba, Portuguese, Francophone Africa, etc. An enlightening read to start with is Voices of African Immigrants of Kentucky: Migration, Identity, and Transnationilty by Francis Musoni, Iddah Otieno, and Angene Wilson.
How To Learn The Black Bi-Racial Woman Experience In America
Being a Black Bi-Racial woman in America is a subjective experience based on how you were raised, if both partners were in your life, and what race you look more like. Black bi-racial women are perceived and treated very differently in society based on how dark or light their complexion is, as well as what their hair and facial features like. What could be perceived as two people from different backgrounds in a loving relationship and having a child in the world brings forth a range of conflicting issues to deal with once this child is born.
Most individuals in the world aren't mixed, and they often want their child to choose their race more than their partner's race. I've been there myself because I'm a bi-racial Black woman, that has always identified as more Black based on how I was raised, the parent I was closest to, and what I look like more. But my experience isn't apples to apples with other bi-racial black women that may look less Black or identifies more with her non-Black side.
Then, there is the you're never Black enough to lead the protest, or you can't speak to the Black women experience because you're not "fully" black conversation. And there is a long list of bothersome fetishes as if we chose our racial ethnicities or our existence is some hip trend. Overall most bi-racial people never feel like they truly fit, and we're interrogated of whether or not we are being Black enough or enough of our other race. An informative read exploring the Black bi-racial journey is Half and Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural by Claudine Chiawei O'Hearn. You can also check out this documentary called Armor: Biracial in the Deep Douth directed by Sarah Gambles.
How To Learn More About The Transracial Adopted Black Woman Experience
Transracial adopted Black women are Black women that are adopted by non-Black families. This experience isn't often spoken of in-depth, and it was brought to my attention when I listened to an episode on the Therapy for Black Girls podcast where Dr. Joy Bradford interviewed Judith Sadora about the transracial adoption process. People often see adoption as something to be grateful for, but it's more responsibility to adopt a child outside of your race. It becomes the adopted parents' responsibility to teach and provide resources for their children based on how the world sees them and is going to treat them.
However, many people aren't aware of the additional responsibility and just raise them as their race. And because of that, transracial adoptees often grow up with a lot of identity issues, having no biological parents to reference for things that speak to their direct racial issues.
Some good resources to inform yourself about this particular journey are tuning into the bonus episode of Therapy for Black Girls podcast interviewing transracial adoptee Angela Tucker. You can also tune into her podcast, the Adoptee Next Door Podcast. Also, one of my favorite shows currently streaming on Hulu, called This is Us, is a heartfelt show that features a transracial Black man growing up searching to connect with his Blackness all throughout his life.
There is so much power with learning our stories! It's an unfortunate reality that the world is currently complacent with obsessing over Black culture rather than they are about learning about all the beautiful layers of the Black lineage. The more we are open to learning about each other's specific journeys allows space for less criticizing and the more empathy that we can extend to each other. No more crabs in a bucket lifestyle; we need to change the narrative because it's always gone against us with every other culture working together to help each other, not hold each other back. We all have unique qualities to contribute to the collective Black lens.
As brother Malcolm would say, "Without education, you're not going anywhere in this world." Without learning about each other, it limits our collective growth when staying in segregated cultural Black communities, so be the pan-Africanist you want to see in the world.
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At the end of August 2020, I quit my job and took a leap of faith to pursue my creative passions of writing and connecting Christian women. This wasn't an easy decision for me because 1) I have worked since the age of 15. With the exception of my freshman year of college, I don't know what it's like to not have a steady income. And 2) I worked for a very prestigious government agency and had accomplished a lot during my time there. I wasn't walking away from a small thing; this was security, especially in a time where many experienced unstable employment.
However, my husband had just graduated from dental school and got a job in Dallas, TX. I truly believed God had shown me that this was the perfect time to transition. And although I knew the unknown wouldn't be easy (new city, new experience of defining work for myself), I could've never imagined just how difficult this change would be.
I've read a lot of inspirational blog posts about leaving your 9-to-5 and pursuing your passions, entrepreneurship, and #blackgirlbosses. They usually tell us to push fear aside, chase after our dreams, and be OK with failing because the process is worth it in the end. But in all my reading, I've never seen anyone talk about the other struggle that comes with entrepreneurship, specifically that of an independent black woman.
You see, when I left my job, I didn't have a set plan. I had just launched a blog with an idea to parlay that into a larger business, but the logistics weren't there. So, I used the first few months of unemployment to seek God and gain clarity and direction for my vision. Then, I began to work toward it: writing blog posts, promoting content on social media accounts, adding in YouTube videos, and creating a monthly newsletter. And all the while, my income remained at zero. Sure, I had a few final checks roll in from my previous job, but after they were deposited, it was nada.
For the first time in a very long time, I didn't have an income.
And I quickly realized that this was challenging for my independent self.
But, I know you're thinking, you mentioned that your husband graduated from dental school, right? Yes, my husband is a dentist, which is another reason why the timing of the transition worked out. He was now going to have an income to support us both, so I truly had the opportunity to not work traditionally or be concerned about making money so that I could focus on starting my business.
You would assume that provision would put me at ease, but I have to be honest: it did the opposite. I know there are many women who would love for a man to fully provide for them, and although I understood that it was a blessing, I wouldn't quite say my feelings toward it were joyous.
I continued battling with these feelings one evening as my husband and I talked. I was discouraged by the different expenses that came along with starting my own business and even more so by the fact that I needed to keep spending without contributing financially to our household. Now, this type of conversation wasn't new for us. I'd cry about my no-income insecurities and my husband would remind me that although he's working, it's our money; I am working toward something greater that will benefit us in the future, and I contribute in so many ways beyond the finances. And even though, mentally, I knew all these things were true, emotionally my heart couldn't accept them.
"Maybe I'll get a real job," tears filled my eyes as I spoke. "That way I can bring money in and not feel like a leech." My husband looked at me lovingly and asked, "Babe, why can't you just let me take care of you?"
It was at that moment that I realized a profound but sad truth: I didn't know how.
I don't know how to be taken care of. It hurts to write this, but I need to let it sink in.
I'm newly married and now in a position to be taken care of, but I don't know how to allow my husband to do that.
And I realized it's because throughout my life, I have rarely had that luxury. When I was younger, I used to love singing along with Ne-Yo to "She Got Her Own". It wasn't until I got older that I realized she had no other choice.
How many black women are independent because they've had to be? Because as a child, you saw your single mother struggling to raise you and your siblings, so you made it a point to take the pressure off her, at least when it came to providing for you? In my hometown, we could start working at age 15 and a half, and six months after my 15th birthday, I had my first job at Kroger. Of course, I didn't make much, but I was able to use my little paychecks to buy my school clothes and take a small burden off my mother.
In college, I saw those around me receive financial help from their parents, yet I was solely responsible for all my expenses. I applied for every scholarship available to help pay my tuition, bought a used car with my refund check, and worked multiple internships to pay my rent and cover books, food, and gas. I had no other choice.
And not only have I continued providing for myself, but I am also the one who usually financially supports my family. So, it makes sense that being a "receiver" is foreign to me when I've been used to my "giver" role—marriage included. When my husband and I first got married in 2018, he was in dental school while I worked. Although he contributed financially from his tutoring gigs or DoorDash runs (bless his heart), I was the real breadwinner for the first two years of our marriage.
Although my husband constantly reminds me that I supported us then so that now he can, it's still so easy for me to feel uncomfortable in this position.
There is a sense of comfort that comes with knowing you're fully taken care of and you don't need to hustle and grind to make ends meet. Many black women have given themselves that comfort because they didn't have other dependable options.
I have prided myself on being an independent black woman. I'm proud that I was able to take care of myself and still can if need be. But, I am coming to realize that if left unchecked, this self-sufficiency can hinder me from experiencing a different type of freedom.
There is so much power in having a choice, and for so long, my only choice was to depend on myself. But this season is teaching me that I can provide for myself in a new and much-needed way: by allowing someone else to support me.
Working so much to provide for my financial needs caused me to neglect many personal aspirations. But now I am able to support a different part of myself because I'm choosing to receive.
Accepting support is a form of self-care, something even the most Destiny's Child-esque independent women need. And it's more than OK to embrace this option when you're blessed to have that choice—sometimes it's the best way to truly look out for you.
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