Can we keep the BLACK in Black History Month?

During black history month we recognize the accomplishments, contributions, and indelible mark black Americans had in our lives. It’s important that we don’t try to erase or change that narrative.

There are plenty of space to celebrate the contributions white Americans have made to the civil rights in America but to the point of this original post, February is not the time and Black History Month is NOT the place!

I saw the image below making its rounds on Facebook. It has the following caption:
“Why is this white man relevant to Black history? He was one of the Freedom Riders. In 1960, he was on a bus full of Freedom Riders who arrived in Montgomery Alabama where an angry white mob was waiting for them. He volunteered to get off the bus first and take the brunt of the mob’s violence, which left him beaten and bloody. His name was James Zwerg.”

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Do we need to know or remember James’s name?

I argue that the answer is no.

I argue that circulating an image of him during Black History Month covered in blood as a martyr for the Civil Rights Movement is centering whiteness and his “allyship”.

Its great, if this story is true, that he stepped off the bus first and put his body on the line. But…

View original post 277 more words

The Truth About Breastfeeding*

Breastfeeding seems to be a polarizing and controversial subject for some reason. It’s weird that people care so much about how I feed my kid. Hypocrisy abounds around the politics of the breast. I’m not really wanting to open that can of worms but I just feel it needs to be acknowledged. I especially want to acknowledge Westernized conceptions around breastfeeding and how it erases women of color especially but that’s for another day and another post.

*Ok, second of all… every woman has their own unique experiences around breastfeeding and there is literally no wrong path through it. This is about the truth of breastfeeding for me. This is for my daughters and maybe other women just beginning their journey. To have another side. As with everything else on these pages, it centers my own perspective.

I have six kids, three of them came out of my body, I breastfed all three to varying degrees of success and failures but the journey I’m here to talk about is with my youngest, she’ll be 1 tomorrow and what a year it’s been!

I want to say that I encourage breastfeeding, it’s an inexpensive way to keep your baby healthy and well fed. I will provide plenty of resources at the end of this for your reference and review.  I think every woman should try to if they are able but, if you don’t or can’t, that’s cool too. I’m not here to be sanctimonious.

G took to nursing from day one. Her latch, though shallow, was solid and she produced plenty of wet diapers to show for her efforts. I felt really grateful for this because I know, from my own experiences, this is a struggle sometimes.

I took a baby led approach to nursing, she let me know when she was ready and my body adjusted. That is how it has gone all these months. We fell into a pretty solid routine naturally and unless she is sick or something else is off, we stick to it regularly. She nurses a couple of times morning, afternoon, and night.

At 6 months we introduced solid foods, which she also took to enthusiastically.

I began to take a baby led approach to weaning. She tells me when she is ready.

I never expected, her being my last child, I’d want to stop before she did.

A year later, juggling 5 other children and a husband with a chronic, at times debilitating condition, has complicated this journey. I’m tired and there are times, I just don’t want to relinquish control of my body to a part-time nipple terrorist, who is entering mischievous toddlerhood and inclined to give me a good bite!

Sometimes she fights sleep and thrashes in my arms, with breast in her mouth, I’ve received several fat lips from head butting while breastfeeding. I’m tired y’all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been ready to be done with a feeding and she’s like, “nah, I’m gonna hang here with your titty for a quite a bit longer, you may want to cancel the rest of your day.”

*sigh*

The guilt just reading that back to myself, for saying it out loud, it eats at me. She’s my last child, I will never have this experience again. Shouldn’t every moment be magical?

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That’s not how this works, that’s not how anything in life works, at least not for me. It’s bittersweet. For the most part I am prepared to sit and nurse, happily cuddling my baby while she nestles down to nurse. Often, I move in to kiss her forehead and silently thank the universe for the moment.

Other times (most especially at 2AM), I grit my teeth through the experience, bone weary from a long day, from a year without a full night’s sleep. I grit my teeth and want her to be done….in those times her suckling grates on me. Making me, all of a sudden, possessive of my body, my breast, my nipple.

When she is fighting sleep, whining in my arms, irritated but unwilling to self-soothe, demanding I be at her beck and call. When her belly is full and she doesn’t need to nurse for hunger, rather for comfort, so she keeps popping on and off the breast like it’s a pacifier.

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It’s hard to admit this. I don’t want to discourage women from this path. I just need to be honest, this path isn’t always easy. It demands things of not just my physical self but psychologically too. I’m not necessarily, the most naturally, selfless person. I have to work at that. Even as a mother, a role that requires tons of sacrifice. I resent that sacrifice sometimes. That’s real talk. breastfeeding isn’t divorced from that.

It’s not always rainbows and butterflies and while, I’m not pushing her off the breast, I am trying to figure out how I can gain more control of my own body. I have a tremendous support system in my husband and my children and my village is amazing. That helps. When embarking on this journey, it is so important to build a support system. It helps get you over the bumps in the road. There will be some.

 

As promised here are some great breastfeeding resources to help you along your journey!

Kellymom

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Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine

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World Health Organization – Breastfeeding

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The Leaky Boob

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Medela

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Black Women Do Breastfeed

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Lactation Matters

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NAPPLSC

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Over all this has been a rewarding experience, I have been allowed to bond with my girl in deeply meaningful ways. I’m proud of my working breasts!

Maya Angelou — Black History Month

Developing a love of truth, standing for civil rights, enjoying life itself and recording the experience, our matriarch became an inspiration. Maya Angelou’s words, spoken, on the printed page or r…

Source: Maya Angelou — Black History Month

Why Are You So Angry?

In my previous life I was a nice person. I was full of “all lives matter,” rhetoric and respectability politics. I was helpful to white folks and kept my ratchet to a minimum, especially in professional settings. I lived my life through a distinctly white gaze.

While I have plenty of my own set of privileges, ethnic ambiguity can only take one so far and the way my pride and self-love is set, I could never really denounce my culture.

Yo soy Boricua, siempre.

I was just young and careless with my self and my ancestors. Eventually, I began to recognize how the world centers whiteness and in return, whiteness, somehow validated the world. If you can “pass” among them, the temptation to revel in the privilege is deep. Especially in those who internalize the supremacy and patriarchy.

Fast forward to present day. I am a woman much more centered in my identity.I am blessed and proud to be raising 6 of the most beautiful children in the entire world. I am standing with a partner who would lay down and die for us all. My village is strong and our bonds unbreakable. Happiness is knowing who you are and living your truth.

So, Why am I so angry?

Well, to be very honest, the state of our society, in general, is really making it hard for me to pull myself, my disabled husband (a veteran), and our 6 children (including a baby) up by our boot straps and get our shit together.

My life as a writer, believe it or not, is not very glamorous. Self-employment turns to unemployment really quickly when you can’t write because you are literally stressed about healthcare, light bills, rent, and fucking food!

Then comes the Orange Menace and his selfish supporters, more privileged than I, insisting if we just trust them, all of this will be juuuuuuuuust fiiiiiiiiiine. Then a bunch of grown ass men, met, like thieves in the middle of the night to rob 30 million people, children included, of their health care.

Recently I took to Facebook to vent my frustrations with the state of things. It’s fucking personal and I’m taking very personal. I am having a hard time engaging in civil discourse with those who put this into action. Their political leanings – greedy, self-serving, bigoted, xenophobic, homophobic – threatens the fabric of my life and the lives of those more vulnerable than us.

“Why are you so angry?” acquaintances slip into my DMs to ask me all the time.

“Why are you so angry?” opponents on the other side of the aisle ask me.

“Why are you so angry?” the “sensible” supporters of this Presidency ask.

“Why are you so angry?” white liberals ask in dismay at my divisive tone.

WHY THE FUCK AREN’T YOU ANGRY?

FUCK OFF!

I have to question why you are so calm while this administration feed us the bullshit that things like healthcare and education are privileges. I have to question why you are trying to convince me that everything is just status quo and this is nothing more than civil, political discourse.

Here’s a few of the most recent headlines from this fuckshit group y’all are calling a political party.

According to PBS Newshour, “President Trump has taken 10 executive actions since entering office.”

President Trump has ordered that federal dollars cannot go to organizations that provide abortion services.

The president has told agencies they cannot fill any vacant positions nor open new ones, with two exceptions: military personnel and critical public safety positions.

President Trump ordered that permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline be approved in an expedited manner

 

 

Those are the highlights. This administration will see many marginalized groups suffer.

Not convinced? Take a look at this rundown of the past few days. The highlights here include:

On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs

On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ

On January 20th, 2017 roughly 230 protesters were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics

On January 24th, 2017, it was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on January 20th, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients and sources

credit for compilation: Karen Cornett-Dwyer

He has removed civil and LGBTQIA rights pages from and added a page about protecting law enforcement to the .gov website even though there is no evidence law enforcement need protecting.

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US officers killed as the result of crime, 1970-2015

All this among other immediate, and telling, changes.

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photo courtesy Leslie Mac – co-founder Safety Pin Box

I am angry as fuck. As angry as any adult who is actually paying attention should be and I refused to be gaslit. I refuse to allow any type of normalization of an administration, fully endorsed by the KKK and sponsored by corporate villains.

I am looking at you sideways if you can’t comprehend the threat we are facing as American citizens. I think it’s time to stop being polite and start getting real.

Check your privileges, thoroughly and extensively before you fix yourself to ask me to keep calm, be united, give this thing a chance, or any of tone deaf rhetoric. I AM NOT HERE FOR THE BULLSHIT.

Now isn’t the time to discuss the threat calmly over tea and crumpets. The time for civil discourse, in my heart at least, has passed. I no longer care to sit at the table with any of you supporting the Orange Menace. Your vote has shown me your care for me and mine.

Thank you, now kindly go fuck yourself or if you happen to be poor, wait for your president to do it. You will NOT be waiting very long.

xoxoxox

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Five Things I’m Leaving in 2016

I don’t do New Year resolutions for a bunch of reasons. My life is in constant flux and change doesn’t wait until the new year, it just happens.

Still, I like neat endings with all my loose ends tied and every to-do list checked off and completed in full! HA! I’m just kidding, that’s not how anything in my life works.

I want to be more organized. I even tried to start, keep, and maintain a bullet journal but kept forgetting to take time to actually update it. My bedroom looks like a closet exploded over everything.

I still have boxes in the garage I’ve yet to unpack since we moved in….6 years ago.

I’m not a type A. I’m more like a type Z. If I’m being perfectly honest with myself…I probably have adult ADD. I only complete projects I’m absolutely passionate about and even then…it’s a push.

That is neither here nor there however…all this is to say, the end of the year compels me to assess. I’m thinking about what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and naturally where I would like to go.

I am of course limited by economic hardships and lack of resources but, personal growth isn’t so much about having and more about being. I can’t really say what I might want in the year to come. Who the hell knows what is waiting down the road. I do, however, know exactly what I don’t want/need in the year to come.

Here’s my list of shit to leave behind in 2016….

Picking the wrong battles.

In a world lit up with all kinds of distractions, I’ve had a hard time staying focused. For someone who claims to want no drama, I find myself embroiled in it quite a bit. I could say, “I don’t look for drama, it just finds me,” and while that is technically true, when it comes I’m choosing to engage. This isn’t to say I should stop fighting. Hell no! Rather, I am choosing to be more selective about where and when and to what end I engage. I don’t need all of that stress.

My energy is more powerful when I focus it, instead of spreading myself so very thin.

Working for free

When I first began my writing career, I was eager to get my name out there. I had no issue writing for exposure or writing just for the byline. While, I still want to get my name and work out there, I am no longer inclined to do it for free. I deserve to be paid and I deserve it to be a livable wage. I deserve to make an income off of my intellectual property. Chasing money doesn’t make me greedy, it makes me smart. Demanding I be valued doesn’t make me selfish, it makes me savvy and if I were a man everyone would be much more willing to agree.

Well, I have come to realize my value and I wont be short-changing myself anymore.

Apologizing for my boundaries

Over the past year I made strong efforts to communicate my limits and set appropriate boundaries. Even with my children. It wasn’t easy. Some literally cussed and villainized me for standing my ground. This was upsetting but, it was important for me to end unhealthy patterns of behavior in certain relationships. I found myself apologizing often for this, “No, I’m sorry, I just can’t allow/handle/manage that.” followed by lengthy explanations about why this is. Having 6 kids, a disabled husband, no money etc.

“No.” really is a complete sentence and if you know me and love me, you don’t need an explanation or an apology.

Denying or delaying my own feelings 

Beyond mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, writer, I am a whole entire person with an identity completely separate from the roles I take on in my life. The way my life is set up, exploring who I am as an entire person, sometimes, feels impossible. There are needs that must be met before mine. I am ok with that, I love my children, I love my responsibilities and the love that oozes from my life is real and wonderful.

However, taking care of 7 people is exhausting. Sometimes I can even resent it and when I do I know it is because I am not being honest about my own needs. While it may feel impossible to take the time I need to connect with my own feelings, it isn’t actually impossible.

Impostor Syndrome

I have a voice. I have influence. I am a great writer and I plan on doing so much more in the years to come. In the past I would have laughed after each of those sentences in more than just self-deprecating humor. I would have mocked myself bitterly, regretful that I didn’t know this before deciding not to go to college. Really though, the only regret I have is treating myself and my talents so poorly.

I may not be everyone’s cup of tea and I may have come into my own by unconventional methods but, I belong.

Letting go of the things that no longer serve me is good. Letting go of things that hurt me is even better. I am committed to doing both, owning my greatness, and leaving the bullshit behind! Happy New Year!

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On Being Safe Space Post-Truth

Since the Orange Menace, my posts are really revolving around social issues and how I am navigating through it. Being a vocal advocate to marginalized people isn’t charity, it is me actively working to make the world better for all of us. I’m not saving anyone but myself. Therefore, I’m standing with those groups, not for them. I’m an accomplice, a co-conspirator and an ally. I am willing to incur risk in order to support and amplify more vulnerable people than me.

Most of the smarties reading this understands the art of collaboration. I wont get into the differences between ally and accomplice. Rose Hackman explains the concept brilliantly in her piece for the Guardian.

Today I want to talk about how I work to be an effective accomplice and how important it is for me to turn myself (and any space I’m in) into safe space for marginalized people. It is especially important that my friends facing extreme amounts of oppression in their daily lives, to have someone who will love and listen to them. They deserve many someones which is why I am here talking about how I work at this. Daily.

These things are coming from my unique perspective, I’m not a monolith, beyond this and with all things, dig deeper.

Here we go:

Believe the lived experiences of marginalized people

When women say they don’t feel safe, believe them. When black people say they don’t feel safe, believe them. When gay and transgender people say they don’t feel safe, believe them, When people with disabilities say they don’t feel safe, believe them. When children say they don’t feel safe, believe them.

Support them, give them the room to react. Without responding or judging and especially without policing the reaction. Hold space for them to be themselves entirely. Whether or not it aligns with your own ways of being is irrelevant.

Open your heart to the fact that the experience is still valid and real even tho you can’t relate to or understand it yourself. In this way, you make yourself instantly safer and more trustworthy.

Identify and address your implicit biases.

Occurring outside of conscious awareness, implicit bias manifests itself in the form of nonverbal thoughts, behaviors and actions that influence an individual and that are suggestive of unequal treatment. – An Analysis of Implicit Bias in Medical Education

The ways in which we view the world are unavoidably influenced by cis-hetero, white supremacist, patriarchal power structures. The way to combat this is to recognize it is there, find it, and kill it. Burn it with fire.

This is a rough step because it means being brutally honest with oneself in order to “unlearn” the things you’ve been taught. It means admitting all the ways in which you may have oppressed others. It means admitting there is safety in your privilege and casting it aside.

It means admitting your isms and phobias and then actively working to destroy those biases, instead of becoming complicit in them.

Learn to listen

Understanding comes from paying close attention. Listening is a special skill and not everyone is endowed with the patience it takes to be good at it. I am not a natural born listener. I am a loud-mouth. I love the sound of my voice and I love giving my opinion (you are welcome to disagree in the comments). So listening was a learned skill for me.

I got good at it (you can disagree with me in the comments) with practice by going into spaces where I knew nothing and therefore had nothing to say. I listened and followed and listened some more. Now, I love shutting the fuck up. The people in my circle, the love I have cultivated, it’s all very brilliant and humbling.

Do your own homework

I opened books I’d never considered reading before, by authors never introduced to me in schools or by the NY Times bestseller’s list. I diversified my media and sought out resources not written by the same power structures negatively influencing us.

Google is my best friend. With it I can search both scholarly and non-scholarly articles on any topic imaginable. I’m only limited by the information available. Public libraries have long since gotten with the times and I can take out books online and read.

Lastly, I started to follow people not part of mainstream media that were reliable resources, not post-truth talking heads working over-time to perpetuate useless dogma.

I am still in this phase of re-education. The only thing I’ve fully learned so far is how much I really don’t know.

Pay reparations 

The best way to really create lasting change is to help redistribute wealth. Money is power and marginalized groups have been, thus far, barred from enjoying upward mobility. Those who can, absolutely should find ways to support black and non-black people of color. You can do that by supporting businesses owned by people of color. You can buy a subscription to safety pin box. You can donate to organizations working to bring about change.

You should tune into media that centers marginalized voices, written by marginalized people, telling diverse stories. Go see movies created by non-white filmmakers. In this way can make a statement about your priorities as a consumer.

Please understand, how you spend your money is how advertisers (and then the brands they represent) know what we want as a collective. Your searches, social media usage, web subscriptions are all collected for brands to serve you with better ads.

If you are buying from and tuning into these types of sources as a consumer, they will notice!

Be Generous with your Love

Love is a verb. It is not a prayer, it is not an idea, it is not a concept or an imprint. Love is ACTIVE, fluid, alive, and limitless. Love will not save us, nor is it the answer to societal ills. Instead, it’s the energy from which we draw our strength. Tap into and share it often and generously.

Be an earnest cheerleader. Not everyone can do everything. There are some people with the stuff to organize and lead…there are some who support and follow. I am the latter. I work to protect and support the organizers and leaders in every way I can. I brag about them to my friends and coworkers. I write about them and hang out with them and love them to pieces!

Show love to the people speaking to your spirit on this journey. Do that by amplifying and centering their voices and cheering them on, loudly and publicly!

Uplift the vulnerable among us

My privileges keep me safe. They make it so I can get away with a lot of things, under the radar, or with little to no effort. My able-bodied, cis-hetero, light-skinned self, walks through the world with much less fear than my dark-skinned, disabled, lgbtqia+, counterparts.

In matters of oppression, my perspective is limited. That means, under no circumstance should I be speaking for a vulnerable group I am not a part of. That means in order to be an effective accomplice to these people, I must amplify them.

We must center their voices, their lived experiences, their perspective.

Walk the walk

Practice makes perfect. An effective accomplice knows there is no rest for the wicked and therefore there is no rest for the weary and therefore no break for the rest of us.

The most vulnerable among us are being oppressed, maligned, endangered, and preyed upon daily. Everyday is an opportunity to collaborate with these groups in order to make the world a better place. Reach out. Your voice is needed.

If you are calling yourself an ally, you are committing yourself to all of the above in both idea and practice. SHOW YOUR WORK! By this I mean, people should know where you stand. Stop playing the fence and being vague about your opinion.

Get up. Stand up. In your own circles

Work your groups. Know where you have influence and use it to stand up for marginalized people. This is scary as fuck. It means being a squeaky wheel. One must be willing to be ostracized and isolated and even blocked from certain circles.

Silence is violence, don’t be quiet about racism, sexism, and other types of discrimination. If you have yet to speak out against the Orange Menace, for example, you have probably already been marked as unsafe to those people in your circle who are also part of the groups being targeted.

Uncover/rediscover – the business of unlearning

For me, all of the above was a process. I’m still on the journey, I’m still learning/unlearning. I’m still realizing my implicit biases.

I have dedicated myself to the business of collaboration. I am determined to make myself into safe space for my friends and family. I truly want to become and effective accomplice in the fight for equality.

There are a ton of articles, books, essays, poems, movies, etc…

On Safe Spaces for White People

Life after the Orange Menace (OM) has been…interesting. The response from white women have been especially revealing. It’s almost like they only just realized how very fucked up this nation is and are desperately trying to figure out what to do.

Hence, the rise of, “Safe spaces for white people,” to work through racism in the shadow of the OM. I know what y’all are thinking…I bitch when privileged folks don’t do anything, then I bitch because I don’t like the efforts privileged folks are making.

That is true, this is America and my right to bitch is my right! Deal with it.

I’ve received two invitation to “heal whiteness” in as many weeks. These “workshops” challenge participants to examine the meaning of whiteness and white privilege while resolving the guilt and shame of white supremacy.

Sounds good right? White people need to do this type of work, post-haste.

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However, in the case of this particular workshop, it is neither run by or even using content created by people of color. At least not directly. However, for $200 you can get to the business of working through personal biases in “safe” (ie white only) spaces. Without any help (or interruption) from actual marginalized people.

This is like asking the fox to guard the hen-house.

Like, asking police to investigate their own brutality.

Where are the checks and balances?

Why do white people need safe space to work through the trauma they are inflicting (consciously or not) onto black people?

When a friend of mine reached out to the organizers they refused to engage. Her questions were not aggressive, they simply asked about the need for “safe space” while doing this work and how they planned to assess progress if there were no people of color to defer to:

Is your assertion that white people are strong enough to be racist, but not strong enough to talk about the racism that they do?

You have acknowledged that the ethics of doing this work might be challenged on the basis of your whiteness and the fact that you are charging money, my question is more essential. What are you healing? What part of white people has been traumatized and by whom?

Is your assertion that if white people receive healing, they will become nonviolent? What evidence/criteria are you using to measure this?

Does this healing work translate to patriarchy/sexism? Can men become nonviolent by these methods?

These are valid, legitimate questions that were left unanswered. Which makes me questions the validity of this entire endeavor.

I’d argue that the world is overflowing with safe white spaces and there is no need for these retreats either way. Every time one turns on the TV, sits down to watch a movie, or read, whiteness is centered in almost all of it constantly. The world has been made a safe space for white people.

 

The truth is, this well-intentioned effort looks like nothing more than a self-centered, self-congratulatory cash grab. I see you.

For the record, oppressed groups don’t have the privilege of “safe space” to learn about their oppression.

1,094 Bias-Related Incidents in the Month Following the Election – Southern Poverty Law Center

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Working to dismantle white supremacist systems is grueling and uncomfortable. It requires drifting further and further from our comfort zones into truly diverse spaces. Mistakes will be made and we will be checked for those mistakes. Sometimes, without any care for our personal feelings because, the truth is, my personal feelings are not more critical than actual people, facing actual dangers.

It took me rejecting a lifetime of dogma and replacing it with new, more accurate information to get this. I am still unpacking a lot of internalized misogynoir, sexism, and yes, white supremacist attitudes. I learned to shut the fuck up long enough to listen and learn from groups of people more oppressed than me.

Anything, I know about anti-racism work, any awareness I’ve gathered, any understanding I have found, has come to me by the grace of black voices, almost always women, willing to document, write about, and explain their oppression.

As a woman of color, who has experienced my fair share of racism, I still benefit from a hell of a lot of privilege. Acknowledging my privileges keep me safe and then using them to center marginalized people is how I redistribute my power. AMPLIFYING BLACK WOMEN means I am centering them, not myself in this movement. A movement they birthed.

My pantsuit nation post is filled to the brim with indignant people asking why Safety Pin Box owners think they should profit from their advocacy. Meanwhile, white women, a demographic which already enjoys an abundance of safe spaces and opportunities, to choose from, are lining their pockets with profits from these “white healing spaces.” Without being asked where the profits are going or why they deem themselves worthy of profiting from their advocacy in the first place.

So basically, fuck your double standard.

White women should be supporting safe spaces for oppressed groups, instead of self-segregating for profit. White women should be working, daily, to turn themselves into safe spaces by first and foremost, centering vulnerable groups in their social justice efforts. White women should be paying black women for the educational content necessary to make these workshops effective.

Finally, and I can’t emphasize this enough, white women need to learn how to play the best supporting role, not the lead, in this fight for liberation. Anything less is uncivilized and narcissistic as fuck.

My Identity: A Journey – Part Two

I finally got my Ancestry DNA results! Scroll down to jump into a video where I talk about it. I began this journey a long time ago but I only just started documenting my process. The first part of this series is here for your reading pleasure.

Ok…so first, my sincerest thanks are in order. Activists for Ancestry gifted me this kit. The organization raises funds to purchase DNA kits for activists engaged in social justice work. I am humbled by the prize and excited to share my results.

Ancestry DNA is nothing new but for those curious about the process…

The kit included a collection cup for my sample, a mixing solution, and the return shipping packaging. You spit into the cup, mix it with the solution, put it into the envelope and box and send it to the lab. There was email communication throughout, I was notified when my sample was received and when it was sent to the lab for processing. Once complete, I received an email notification with a link to my results. All and all it took about a month to receive my “Ethnicity Estimate.”

Which is a breakdown of your DNA by region.

My breakdown was as follows:ee

ee_reg

I expected there to be more Spain/Portugal but surprisingly, Italy/Greece is most prominent. I also anticipated much more West African and much less native American DNA. So while there was nothing very shocking about my results, there are a few surprises!

My mix is interesting and I’m still trying to figure out what it means and how I can use this to connect some dots. While this has certainly given me some answers, it leaves me with many questions too.

Ireland? Where does that even come from?

I don’t know my biological father and I never cared or needed him. I have always had a beautiful foundation and safe place to land in my parents. My journey toward self discovery was never a journey to finding or knowing him or “that side” of myself. What I am looking for he could never provide anyway.

I am looking for wholeness. I am searching for the stolen pieces. Language, traditions, undiscovered spirituality and an ancestral home.

Where did I come from? What am I made of?

With a little spit and some solid science, I have actual answers…my bits of DNA tell me my personal history. This has given me something I’ve searched for always, a place to start with plenty of breadcrumbs to follow.

Ok! My video…My thoughts were rushed and scattered and I’m overly excited. I don’t apologize but, if you have any questions ask away in the comments!

On Living Life in Survival Mode

I have been sitting here for a full five minutes trying to figure out how to lay this down without sounding like a bitter bitch! How can I truly capture the edge of my seat existence without sounding every bit as angry about it as I am? Years of societal condition has taught me that failure at finding financial security is because I just haven’t worked hard enough.

Bootstrap mentality has made it so my worth as a person is tied to my financial success and poverty is attributed to my own failings as a human being and not the parasitic corporate structure sucking the life out of good, hard working people like my husband and I.

Hard work and gumption will makes your dreams come true is the mantra of the bootstrapper and he picks himself up and dusts himself of with his trust fund money just to prove his point. I believed that too though. I truly believed that. I started working as a teenager and I have not stopped since. There has not been a job beneath me. I have bussed tables, slung wares on the street, cleaned toilets, dedicated countless hours to hard work. My corporate career is no exception. I have built an incredible network of colleagues over decades. My resume is legit. Not a single lie on it!

I’m a hard working woman, I should be a millionaire.

Hard work + “gumption” is not a secret formula to economic prosperity.

I’ve got both and all it’s given me is a stubborn and persistent will to live. It keeps me surviving.

I think about that a lot. In fact, I’m obsessed with it. I can’t stop doing it.

Surviving.

Lord knows that looks different for everybody. Surviving for me looks like happy children not feeling the weight of our financial stresses.

survival-chart-1That takes a ton of masterful surviving. I am an artist at surviving. I make it look effortless. Like a ballet. Balanced and finessed, the perfect lighting, full of flair. A masterful show intended to make all the heavy things feel light as air. It’s slight of hand. I recognize the extra I have to be to pull it all off and I put the spotlight there, instead of my pain over never having enough. That’s the trick to surviving. Making the pain wait until there’s time. The pain believes me but what a fool because there is never time for that. Survival mode means there is always something to do, some plans to make, some move to orchestrate to make it through the day.

I know what you’re thinking…but, I promise you, I love my life and I regret none of my choices. I am not in a happy deficit. On the contrary…I laugh easily, I find joy in every place…that’s another trick of surviving…forcing yourself to see joy in things most find annoying.

The wind in my hair. The rain on my face. The chaos of raising six kids.

Incredibly gifted, insightful, intuitive and compassionate kids. They are my super power.

The truth is living in survival mode is bitter business. The absolute truth is, hardworking people are always one illness or catastrophe away from falling apart. I envy folks who have it “together.” All their entire needs met always and consistently without thinking too much about it. The truth is, I’ve had a few periods in my life where the work was abundant and I didn’t have to worry about silly things like bills. I had free time then too. I made plans.

I know many, many people in my circle who can relate to this. They are brilliant, intelligent, talented people. None of us getting what we are worth. That’s exactly how I know existing in survival mode has less to do with my own personal failings and more to do with the deck being stacked unfairly against a working, woman of color like me.

That’s just the truth and it was a truth I am grateful to have come to, cos that’s the last trick to living life on survival mode, knowing my worth and holding to it without compromise, without apologizing for my existence ever. My basic needs can’t be met because society is flawed as fuck and uncaring and critical of my poverty.

That’s not my fault. I’m fucking fabulous. Fight me!

My Self-Care Check List

I rest on the seventh day. Sunday, fun day is my self-care day. Before I go into what that’s all about, I’ll give you a quick peak into a day in my life:

Up at 6:00am (sometimes before if baby hates me)

High Schoolers out before 7a

Middle Schooler out before 8a

Third Graders up – their morning routine begins – out the door before 9. Continue reading “My Self-Care Check List”