As a black woman working with predominately white women; I often feel like the gentleman pictured below, minus being a man. Day in and day out, I am often overlooked; not in presence, but in ability. The ability to be a valuable asset in the workplace.
After watching Season 2, Episode 10 of NBC's This Is Us, I saw Randall Pearson (played by Sterling K. Brown), walking onto the campus of Howard University and seeing so many black faces in one place, I couldn't help but to think of how I felt on a daily basis. When I was growing up, I had the pleasure of living in a black neighborhood and going to school with black students; therefore, I know what it is like to be surrounded by all blacks. But the workforce isn't as cut and dry as enrolling in a school in your designated zone. You can't always choose your preferred work environment, unless you can afford to be picky and wait around for that 'perfect' gig.
Being an educator in a predominately white area with predominately white teachers, and predominately white students, I can't help but physically feel the draft of white women breezing right by me without a simple 'hello' or even the slightest grin. I cannot make a suggestion or recommendation without being challenged by having my ideas put down or overlooked. Simply put, my opinion does not matter when it comes to them. My ideas and suggestions cannot and will not overshadow theirs.
This is how I feel walking into work everyday. As if whatever I say and do does not matter. I feel as though I'm walking alone most days and no one even sees me.
It's funny to me how blacks can get educated, make money, live a decent life, and still be overlooked and unaccounted for in society? Black people are seriously devalued in contribution in certain areas. This does not apply to all situations, or all black people. But from my experience, we are often stepped over; regardless of our accomplishments and input. Many black people may disagree. They may not even see the issue themselves, but know that it happens more often than you think. Just consider the other blacks that are constantly surrounded by whites, not by choice but by chance, and just imagine the sacrifices that we have to make for our voices to be heard.
I said that I wouldn't make this long because I just wanted to sort of vent to you guys because I know you understand. But it is hard for me sometimes, and this is why I come here to blog, so that I can express myself in a way that people like me can relate. I'm not here to put white people down, and not all white people think this way about blacks; however, there are plenty of white people out there that still walk around with this superior attitude. I'm not looking for validation from white people, but consideration would be a nice gesture.
Everyday I feel like Rick and the rest of Alexandria when they are under attack by zombies during the apocalypse. If you watch the Walking Dead, then you know what I'm talking about. It's like being surrounded by people quietly trying to take you down without saying much of anything. They just sort of charge at you, in hopes that you'll fall. They look at you as though you are some sort of foreign creature that magically appeared on earth and they're trying to figure out why you're here and what your plans are while in their territory. Everyday is a new experience for me and an eye opener. It shows me just how much they value me and my knowledge. And it you think I'm lying, just think about the way they treated President Obama for the 8 years he served as POTUS; and they still treat him with disrespect now, even after he's completed his term.
Comment down below and let me know what you think. And don't be afraid to share your own experiences as well. It's an open discussion to vent the struggles of being black in a white world.
Mental health is a topic that has been popping up all over television lately. There are prescription drug advertisements about it, reality TV stars are meeting with therapists on their shows, and there are even a few reality shows designated to watching people go through the therapeutic process. This is sort of the norm in the white community, but recently it is becoming a new trend in the black community as well. And I will be the first to admit that I'm glad mental health has finally began to scratch the surface as an issue in black families, and it's time that we address it and be real about it. My willingness to seek therapy has changed my life, which is also what inspired me to began my blog.
Growing up, I lived in a two-parent household, something that was kind of rare in my neighborhood. Most of my friends didn't live with their mother and father in the same household, so they would tease my about my "perfect" family; if only it really was. My dad (God rest his soul) was an alcohol and drug abuser. My mom worked at night so she wouldn't have to be around him because he would get drunk and high, then argue with her and call her names. My sister and I never knew this sort of relationship was a problem because that is all we knew. But now as adults in our 30s, were both like "what the f**k!" Who knew that as a 35-year-old, I could finally figure out why I stayed stuck in a crappy marriage for 12 years? Who knew that my parents taught me how to stay in a bad marriage? That was all I knew. But what I never imagined is scheduling my first therapy session with a black female therapist for the first time in my life at 35-years-old was all that needed to be done, years ago.
Growing up, I always wanted to talk about the problems and issues that I was having with friends at school, in the neighborhood, boys, and even teachers. Unfortunately, whenever I did, I would get a cut and dry answer like, "you worry too much," "girl just get over it," or "just stop thinking about it." No one ever took the time to listen and tried to offer guidance and support. As black people, I'm sure you all know, we were pretty much told to "mind our business and stay out of other folks business." But I have an issue with this because black folks can be real nosy and messy when it comes to household issues or relationship issues, however, when it comes to individual issues, things get real hush-hush. What I'm trying to say is that people assume what they see to be reasoning without trying to get to the core of the problem. For example, you don't have failed relationships repeatedly because of him or her, your relationships have failed because of you! Not being able to tolerate your mother is not simply because she "talks too much" or she "is always trying to tell you what to do." These types of problems occur because there is an underlying issue somewhere that needs to be addressed, and it is one issue that black people fail to confront. Now we have a cycle of repeat behaviors being passed down from generation to generation.
Relationships in the black community aren't failing because of society per say, society wants to keep us down relatively speaking, but by keep us down, they don't promote the need for psychology to us because they know that we have a history of not speaking on our issues. As quiet is kept, a phrase commonly used in the black community in attempt to not spread rumors and speculations, has done us more harm than good. It seems easier to gossip and discuss things among ourselves rather than offer support. We would rather tear down and shame another sister for our own personal gain. But what is even more frustrating is that we struggle to work together in our community as a whole. Black men disrespecting black women. Black women shaming other black women. Black parents offering extreme discipline to their children as opposed to talking to them, our lacking any sort of discipline at all because there is no attempt to parent. These are just some of the issues in the black community that we need to work on. Now I'm not saying take a page from the white community's book. But we do need to develop ways to offer success to one another in our community for the sake of our youth, because regardless to what you want to believe, we only know what we see.
When you look at black-on-black crime, you have to ask yourself, what is the purpose? I mean really, how comfortable are we to just kill one another? Jealousy, envy, the unwillingness to agree to disagree? Is it that a lot of fathers were alcoholics or drug abusers, like mine? Is it that we grew up in a household with anger and hostility? Were mothers running the streets instead of being at home nurturing their children? Thanks to therapy, I am starting to question these things. I have three children of my own and for their sake, the best decision I made was to divorce. My children witnessed anger and hostility. They saw a father in the house physically, but not mentally. Thank God I made the decision to break that cycle. But there are so many women and men like me in this situation, that don't even view this as a problem because they were always told that things are okay. As long as he's still there, then it's okay. This is why so many black people, specifically women, sit in silence. These problems we have are not problems in our community [sarcastically speaking]. No one wants to hear that because you're just complaining at this point. Now we have all of these bottled issues that get poured out into the streets because we are silenced among ourselves. Frustration builds over time and we were never taught to workout our problems. There is poor communication or no communication in the black community, which then results to abuse and hostility, that often results to death and murder.
Killings in areas like south side Chicago and Compton is a result of gang activity no doubt, but why do these kinds of organizations and crimes happen in our neighborhoods? My theory is that we have no real sense of family, belonging, acceptance, and support in our community. We're so busy trying to survive on a day-to-day basis, we don't have the mental capacity to deal with our issues. The government threw all of us into one area where we are forced to fight for survival with almost nothing offered. No hope, no opportunity. The Feds declared a war on drugs in an effort to incarcerate the black man, and leave the black family without male presence. Black men struggle to find work in order to provide an adequate living for their families. Let's face it, we just weren't dealt the same cards as the white community. So not only are we at a loss of support from one another, the government has no interest vested in the black community either; therefore leading to more anger and viewing each other as the enemy.
Now comes religion, which is the staple of the black community. Christian, Baptists, Catholic, Jehovah, Muslim, anything but Atheists is all you need to be well off in the black community. Find a church, grab a Bible, scream, shout, and pray your worries away. "Just pray about it." While I am a firm believer in praying and building a relationship with God, I do think that having someone to talk to without judgement and condemnation is important to the black community. Pastor's and ministries should open their doors to people in the community seeking someone to just talk too. Religious organizations in the black community have to reach out to the masses in an attempt to help black families and individuals find a calming balance in their lives, regardless of the pressures and oppression's we face in our daily lives. Prayer is good, don't get me wrong. I pray all day everyday. I pray while walking, driving, watching TV, eating lunch, whenever I see something or a thought crosses my mind, I talk to God about it. And with the help of my black female therapist, I have learned to spend time with myself AND God.
Spirituality, in addition to religion, is a balance that we need. We must learn to connect with ourselves on a spiritual level. Church is good. Congregations are great for the social aspects of joining in unity with a specific religion. But what about your individual understanding of God and all living things? This is another hurdle that black people are struggling to jump. We have been programmed to join the church and listen to the pastor, memorize Bible scriptures and sing-a-long to all of the hymns and Negro Spirituals. Again, I have no problem with these things either, but it's almost like saying just hum and quote your worries away; however, this has not been proven helpful. Many women in the black community feel shamed when something happens to them. If their marriage failed, the pressure is on the woman and she feels the burden; therefore on the outside she's fine and "just praying about it," but truthfully, she suffers silently because she knows no one can offer her the mental support she needs because black people haven't been taught that. If a black woman is sexually assaulted, she says nothing because she does not want to be blamed for it. She does not want to viewed as a "hoe that put herself into that situation." These are the things we have been taught to believe; another example of the lack of support from the black community. It's okay that we rape and shame our women. It's okay if a black man is struggling to find work and keep their family together due to incarceration or lack of opportunity. If only we could convince ourselves that we must seek mental health in order to restore the black community. The only time we seem to come together is when we are torn apart by injustice, yet we continue to let systematic oppression rule our judgement of one another.
After about 10 months of therapy, reading, writing, research, and self-help assessments, I decided to create a tranquil home environment. After my divorce, I decided to move me and my kids out of our neighborhood of 10 years and into a new home in a different area. I knew that I wanted to start over physically, but I also knew that physical relocation was only a band-aid. I had to work on this transition mentally as well. I turned to aromatherapy to help stimulate and nurture my mind, in addition to the other work I had to do. It has helped me to inhale mental peace, and exhale creativity and positivity. When I was a kid, people that loved incense and earthly fragrances were "weird" or "crazy," which was a stigma in the black neighborhood. Those kind of people practiced voodoo and were gypsies or fortune-tellers of some sort. The things taught to the black community decades ago, have somewhat hindered our progress today. I have a 19-year-old brother who I practically raised, and for the first time in almost 10 years, he actually looks forward to visiting my house. Without asking him, I know that the air in my home is different and all negative spirits and tensions are gone. Unfortunately it took my marriage to finally crumble for this to happen, but it did help me realize that my life wasn't as "peachy" what I thought.
After my parents divorce, I watched my mother try to replenish that void by dating different men, further neglecting the impact of her divorcing from my father, and looking back, she didn't make things better. She never sought counseling of any kind, nor thought that my sister and I needed it. I vowed not to do that to my children, but more importantly, I vowed not to let another man into my life without knowing myself so that I can have more to offer. I felt compelled to share with you today how serious it is to lack support from our own community. I want mental health awareness to become more of a trend in the black community, and less of a shame. Misogynistic lyrics in rap music has led the black community down a path of disrespect, neglect, and lack of intellect. The white community is now entertained by our music and fashion, without living that life, because this is our reality. It is not a trend. It is not a Grammy. It is not 10 million subscribers on YouTube and 3 million Likes. Black culture is our life and our struggle, and it is real. We are suffering as a community and have somehow made suffering look cool instead of addressing the problem head-on.
I want to get into more of my life and struggles for the past 35-years, which I plan to do throughout my blog over time. I didn't come to preach today, but I did plan on raising awareness about the underlying issue in the black community, the silence of suffering and what can be done about it. I look to my therapist, Dr. Valjean Whitlow, and women such as Iyanla Vanzant to continue to stress the importance of being important and deserving of much more. We have to lose this stigma that everything will be just fine. Pray about it AND work on it. I will be sharing more on my life struggles in weeks to come so look out for that. There is so much plaguing the black community that I don't have time to really reflect on what is most important; therefore I'm just jotting down issues as they come. If you want to discuss a topic that is frustrating to you or anything that you would like to vent about, please leave it in the comments below. I would love to hear from you so we can get through it together. Please click on the links below for more insight. Be Blessed!
You may or may not know Keegan Von Roberts, and to be honest with you, I didn't know him either until now. I was doing research earlier today on a different topic that I wanted to discuss when I stumbled across this young man's story. As I gather more information on this tragic incident, I came across even more disturbing information surrounding this family's story which I will share later. But my question in regards to all this is: why was this not a featured news story? I did not see this in the national news, nor did I hear any protest on this matter across the nation. I was actually in Jacksonville, FL on vacation during the time this young man was murdered and I still didn't hear any noise being made about this. Could it be that America has become numb to the murders of our black men? Well if you feel that way, think again because after you find out the details of this story, you may consider starting a protest of your own.
On July 20, 2017, 22-year-old Keegan Von Roberts was murdered by his neighbor regarding a nonsensical dispute. As the series of events surrounding this story unfolds, it seems that the "stand your ground" act in the State of Florida is very alive and well. Remnant of the murder of Trayvon Martin in February 2012 by non-incarcerated George Zimmerman, Roberts killer was not charged with murder and used the "stand your ground" law in his defense in order to eliminate jail time. Keegan Von Roberts was murdered in cold blood shortly after midnight, leaving behind a pregnant wife and child. Roberts alleged killer was taken in for questioning, but later released after police officials determined that he had no reason to be charged.
The media really dropped the ball on this one. They have been so preoccupied with Donald Trump in that it is keeping everyone else fixated on him, to the point that all other relevant information is ignored; just look at what happened to Puerto Rico. America is so wrapped up in football that they are giving critical news stories the side-eye. Where was all of the other black news outlets to report on Mr. Keegan? I'm not blaming anyone or blasting anyone, but what I do know is that another young black man has lost his life at the hands of a white supremacists of some sort, and there was no outrage or protests. Barely over 2 weeks ago, Jason Stockley was acquitted in the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith; even after saying "we're killing this motherfucker!!" I mean you can't get anymore raw than that, yet our black men keep getting killed while their killers go home and enjoy a nice meal with their families.
There is some severe systematic oppression in this country we call home. Donald Trump expects us to stand at attention with our hand over our hearts as we recite a lie!! We cannot honor something that does not honor us. If you disagree, look back at the Buffalo Soldiers and all that they accomplished for this country as black men, yet in 2017 we are still second hand in a white man's land; this is just modern day segregation. If anyone can honestly sit here and say that there is no issue, I challenge you to have a conversation with the mother of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Oscar Grant, Keegan Von Roberts, and any other black man killed at the hands of the oppressor that I failed to mention, see how they feel; hear what they're thinking. Could you imagine how they would react if it were their children being murdered at the hands of those that are supposed to protect, the hands of those that are supposed to "love thy neighbor." I don't know what it feels like to lose a son, let alone a child. But what I do know is that if things keep going at the rate they're going now, black mothers across the nation will come close to that feeling everyday.
What I want from the black community is for us to make noise every time the lives of our black men are taken without justifiable cause. Regardless as to what the national media and local news outlets are reporting on, we still have to commit to getting the word out on tragic incidences that occur in our community and invade our families. Keegan Von Roberts story deserves to be told, because Trump and his antics do not deserve this much attention. We have to put our time and efforts into strengthening our communities, despite what is being addressed in the national news. We cannot let our voices die down. We have to be the voice for our people. We have to continue the fight for justice and exercising our First Amendment right. Continue to protest this fabricated salutation to the United States of America, because "justice for all" has yet to be proven. In the words of Bob Marley:
"Get up, stand up; stand up for your right. Get up stand up; don't give up the fight."
I want to leave you with a comment left by Keegan Von Roberts mother, Sissi J. Shepard; surprisingly there was no reply or additional comments left to his mother. We cannot let his death go in silence. Follow the link below to read the full story including a news clip on Roberts for yourself. You can also find his GoFundMe posting down below as well. Be Blessed!
My son Keegan Von Roberts was killed by Michael centanni IV on July 20th a piece of paper blue in his yard he left the safety of his home came over to my son’s car where he and his pregnant wife of five months we’re having date night shot and killed him 3 times .Keegan begged him to leave them along as the were parked in front of Elainy’s mom housee. he is still not arrested per the state attorney they don’t have enough evidence.Eliany has since lost the baby .Thea funeral for my granddaughter is on Monday the 21st at 1 pm.at West Lawn here in Jacksonville he is claiming stand your ground and self defense go to Justice 4 Keegan or sissi j Shepard Facebook page.
~Cited: www.blacktalkradionetwork.com; Sissi J Shepard on 08/20/2017 at 11:33 AM
For many decades, it has been said that welfare, food stamps, medicaid, and any other government-funded program is to blame for the dysfunction or non-existence of black families. It is believed that the only way to qualify for assistance when in dire need, is to be a single mother. Despite these claims being placed on the system, I have reason to believe this is true, and not based off of the account of other people, but through my own personal experience.
A few years back, when I was still married, my husband lost his job. I had just given birth to our son 2 weeks prior and was naturally unable to go back to work. All of this happened during the recession when work was hard to come by. I had no choice but to apply for aid. For the first time, I had filled out an application to apply for food stamps and medicaid. I had no idea what I was doing, meaning that I did not know that placing a father in the home on the application automatically puts you in a situation to be denied. I was told that as long as there was an able body in the home, then there is no reason we cannot afford food. Let's be honest here, he was working a minimum wage job for a telemarketing firm 30 hours a week, that was barely enough money to pay the light bill.
I later found out from a friend that state-aid should not be applied for with the mention of a father in the home. I thought to myself, why? What do you do when your source of income is automatically snatched from under you and your cushion is gone? I sat and thought about that moment. A system made to keep fathers out of the home could just be the reason why so many fathers are out of the home. I could dive deeper and talk about how we should just go to school and get an education so that we can get a decent job that pays well. Of course that's a good idea, but realistically, not all of our people can afford to go to college, let alone pay for school lunch everyday. If anyone out there is familiar with how this system works, you have to be within a certain poverty level to qualify for assistance. Regardless as to how much each parent earns on their job. Two convenience store clerks married with a child would not qualify for government assistance, but a secretary with 2 kids and no husband would get all the assistance she needs. Why? Because there is no father present.
The problem with all of this is that black families were never given that foundation to stand on. Black people did not build up, but rather built for. It all dates back to slavery, which I won't get into in this particular blog. But let's be honest, we were never given the same opportunities as others. We were expected to find our own place on this land with the promise of 40 acres and a mule. Black men are struggling to climb to the top in the corporate world because we live in a white washed society, a society designed to defeat us. Black women are battling to prove they are educated enough to compete in the corporate world. And at what cost? The price we pay is losing ourselves and one another in the process, and at the end of the day we are still what they think we are, just another black person. If you don't believe me, look at how the president was disrespected for 8 years. Barack Obama, an educated black man married to an educated black woman, raising two beautiful daughters, was still unable to convince the white man that he's just as good as they are, if not better.
Bottom line is, we have to take back our families and find ways to beat this system that was never designed for us anyway. This is not to say that black men are absent from the home for the sake of welfare, but black men are battling their own self-esteem issues in a world that looks down on them. Black women too! We all need uplifting, but we cannot count on them to bring us up, we have to lift one another. This starts by staying grounded and not buying into what they are trying to sell. Unfortunately, so many of my people have been brain washed into this "white American" way of thinking that we can't even see ourselves for who we really are. We have to find our way back to loving one another and holding each other down, and stop buying into this system. We are being controlled, and what they fear most is us figuring this out and freeing ourselves from their mental prison.
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