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New Mommy Monday! Jamie M. Williams, PhD, LCPC

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Happy Monday Mocha Moms! We're starting something new over here! I am a strong advocate of Ubuntu: "I am because we are." 
It is important for Black and Brown mothers to know they have a community behind them. Every Monday we will be shouting out a new Mocha Mommy! I've had my eye on some bomb ass Black and Brown moms doing their thing every single day and deserve to be recognized! My goal is to build a strong network for new Mocha Mommies so that us vetted Mocha Moms can shower them with love and support! With that being said, allow me to introduce our inaugural New Mocha Mommy: Dr. Jamie M. Williams! 

I've had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Jamie (Ashanti) for over three years! She is the epitome of Black Girl Magic! She is definitely one of the real ones in my corner and has become a big sister to me! 

Dr. Jamie originally from Oxford, MS. graduated from Mississippi Valley State University with a bachelors degree in Sociology. She received her Masters in Counseling Psychology from Bowie State University and Ph.D in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Mississippi State University . Dr. Jamie currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland and works as a Clinical Milieu Manager at Sheppard Pratt. 

   Introduce yourselves! 

 Ashanti Williams and Marley Simone Williams

 How long have you been a mommy? 

  6 Weeks! 

  What is your favorite thing about motherhood so far?

    Learning something new about her everyday. Learning her personality, her likes and dislikes, what works and what doesn’t work. Everyday she surprises me.

   What are you struggling with right now? 

Get a load of this cuteness! Hi Marley! 
 My biggest struggle right now is my anxiety. I find that I constantly wake up in the middle of the night to check on her, she’s never out of my sight and I have a hard time entrusting others to care for her.

What is your goal as a Black mother?

    As a Black mother, my ultimate goal is to raise a daughter who is unapologetically black and proud. I want her to be outspoken, brave and a leader amongst her peers. I want her to carry on the plight of the people in the same way my mother and father taught me to do. She was named after two of the most influential entertainers of my lifetime: Bob Marley and Nina Simone. Both who were unapologetically Black and selfless in the fight for equality, using their platform to bring awareness. I want her to live up to her namesakes. Most importantly, I want her to always be herself regardless of what expectations society place on her.  It took me 19 years to learn that and my job is to cut her time in half.  

How are you balancing your roles now that you have added motherhood?

Thankfully my boyfriend has been a huge help. Whenever I have to perform any of my usual tasks, he quickly swoops in and takes care of Marley. I’m still on maternity leave, but I imagine balancing will get a lot more difficult when I go back to work as my job can be very demanding of my time.

 Are there any experiences that are shaping your approach to motherhood?

 I have 5 older sisters, four of whom are moms also. I have watched them raise their children and I reach out to them daily for advice and support. My mom is my number one go-to. So, they have all been instrumental in my approach to motherhood.


  If you have any advice for a mother of color to be what would you tell them?

" It takes a village. Allow your village to help you. "

Are you a new Mocha Mommy or have one in your life? Send and e-mail to barbara.sherrod@icloud.com with subject MochaMommyMonday for a feature! 
Have a great week Mocha Moms! 
#IllBeInTouch

Happy Monday Mocha Moms! We're starting something new over here! I am a strong advocate of Ubuntu: "I am because we are." 
It is important for Black and Brown mothers to know they have a community behind them. Every Monday we will be shouting out a new Mocha Mommy! I've had my eye on some bomb ass Black and Brown moms doing their thing every single day and deserve to be recognized! My goal is to build a strong network for new Mocha Mommies so that us vetted Mocha Moms can shower them with love and support! With that being said, allow me to introduce our inaugural New Mocha Mommy: Dr. Jamie M. Williams! 

I've had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Jamie (Ashanti) for over three years! She is the epitome of Black Girl Magic! She is definitely one of the real ones in my corner and has become a big sister to me! 

Dr. Jamie originally from Oxford, MS. graduated from Mississippi Valley State University with a bachelors degree in Sociology. She received her Masters in Counseling Psychology from Bowie State University and Ph.D in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Mississippi State University . Dr. Jamie currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland and works as a Clinical Milieu Manager at Sheppard Pratt. 

   Introduce yourselves! 

 Ashanti Williams and Marley Simone Williams

 How long have you been a mommy? 

  6 Weeks! 

  What is your favorite thing about motherhood so far?

    Learning something new about her everyday. Learning her personality, her likes and dislikes, what works and what doesn’t work. Everyday she surprises me.

   What are you struggling with right now? 

Get a load of this cuteness! Hi Marley! 
 My biggest struggle right now is my anxiety. I find that I constantly wake up in the middle of the night to check on her, she’s never out of my sight and I have a hard time entrusting others to care for her.

What is your goal as a Black mother?

    As a Black mother, my ultimate goal is to raise a daughter who is unapologetically black and proud. I want her to be outspoken, brave and a leader amongst her peers. I want her to carry on the plight of the people in the same way my mother and father taught me to do. She was named after two of the most influential entertainers of my lifetime: Bob Marley and Nina Simone. Both who were unapologetically Black and selfless in the fight for equality, using their platform to bring awareness. I want her to live up to her namesakes. Most importantly, I want her to always be herself regardless of what expectations society place on her.  It took me 19 years to learn that and my job is to cut her time in half.  

How are you balancing your roles now that you have added motherhood?

Thankfully my boyfriend has been a huge help. Whenever I have to perform any of my usual tasks, he quickly swoops in and takes care of Marley. I’m still on maternity leave, but I imagine balancing will get a lot more difficult when I go back to work as my job can be very demanding of my time.

 Are there any experiences that are shaping your approach to motherhood?

 I have 5 older sisters, four of whom are moms also. I have watched them raise their children and I reach out to them daily for advice and support. My mom is my number one go-to. So, they have all been instrumental in my approach to motherhood.


  If you have any advice for a mother of color to be what would you tell them?

" It takes a village. Allow your village to help you. "

Are you a new Mocha Mommy or have one in your life? Send and e-mail to barbara.sherrod@icloud.com with subject MochaMommyMonday for a feature! 
Have a great week Mocha Moms! 
#IllBeInTouch

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The last two years, women have come forward about the sexual assault/harassment they have experienced within the industry.  Most of the women who are coming forward about sexual assault/harassment are white women. While writing this piece, I googled famous black women who have come out about sexual assault. My google result came up short and all that popped up was the ongoing investigation about Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault against women he worked with. Never mind that Gabrielle Union spoke out about her rape, never mind that Oprah Winfrey has come out about her rape as a child.

Not that this is shocking but the #MeToo campaign was created ten years ago by Tarana Burke a black woman, an advocate, consultant and blogger (Just So we're clear, Me too was started by a black woman ten years ago). Latina women have also come forward since 2016, with #NoEsNo (No means no)  and #MiPrimerAcoso (My first harassment.)

When we speak about sexual assault/violence we forget about one particular group that experiences sexual assault/violence more than any other group; Native American women and girls. According to a Huffington post article released back in April, 17.7 Million women have been sexually assaulted since 1998. Native American Women have the highest number of reported sexual assaults followed by Black and Latina women with white women  just falling 1% under black women. These are the cases reported, I am afraid to hear the number of incidents that go unreported.

There are many misconceptions and stigmas that come with sexual assault. We know the largest influencer of sexual assault is not only the men and women who inflict sexual violence but rape culture. Rape culture is telling women "boys will be boys." as a response to an incident that has left them uncomfortable and/or traumatized at the hands of a man/boy. Rape culture is saying that "The clothes you wear, will determine how much people respect you." Rape culture is telling women to "protect yourself and be more selective of who you are alone with." Even though more than 30% of all sexual assault survivors know their attacker (family member or close friend.) Rape culture is suggesting that men/boys cant be raped because masculinity has been tied to sexuality and the use of their penis.

Rape culture is telling little girls to change their shorts or flattering clothes because "uncle so and so" is coming over. Rape culture is sexually assaulting LGBTQIA women because they "never been with a man before." Rape culture is assaulting LGBTQIA men because "they need to feel what its like to be a woman." Rape culture is the violence women face when declining unwanted advances from men on the street. Rape culture is hyper sexualizing black and brown girls because they experience puberty earlier than their white counterparts. The list is endless. Speaking out against sexual assault/violence is another movement within itself that requires Intersectionality. Too often, women of color that are heterosexual, Cisgender and LGBTQIA are minimized, ignored and overlooked when it comes to sexual violence.

Women of color carry the guilt, shame and pain of sexual assault for all of our lives like our white counterparts except we are less likely to receive any support especially support that ties to our mental health with it still being a taboo in the black community. It is said that when you experience trauma that is life changing, you mentally remain the age at which you were traumatized. Its also important to know that there are two times in your life where trauma can be most significant; when you are age two and in your teenage years.


I was 13. 

I was two months in to my eighth grade year. My rapist was 16, he was close to me. My rapist was one grade ahead of me as he was left back two years. Prior to my assault he was my boyfriend which ended because of his mental and physical violence towards me. I was going through a lot of changes during my middle school years, to no fault of my parents I was ill-equipped to handle most of my close friends being sent to private schools, not being black enough for some of the black students and not being "good" enough for some of the white/non-black students. I responded with fighting, skipping school and at times stealing. I wanted someone to see me and hear me. The only thing every saw was my behavior. Even my own parents couldn't verbalize or make sense in my sudden change.

There is this idea that children who come from two-parent, middle class homes are don't experience wretched things like sexual assault but I did. I experienced bullying, intimate partner violence and peer pressure. Unbeknownst to me I was simple projecting years of racism, sexism and hyper-sexuality forced on me not by my family but from those around me. My parents were married and still are. My parents encouraged for us to come to them but I couldn't. I had been silenced so much that by the time I got to them at the end of my day I was depleted and was helpless.

I was 13. 

I waited two days and then I reported my sexual assault, it was eating away at me. I never wore those jeans again. I smelled my vomit on them every time I saw them, no matter how many times my mother washed them.

 I spoke up. Only my parents, my sister,  my three closest teachers and the school resource officer heard me. They believed me. My trauma went ignored by school support staff and I spent the rest of my eighth grade year up until February of 2006 skipping school, fighting, distancing myself from my family. I was ashamed. I was told that it was because of "who I was" that I called this onto myself. It wasn't until I auditioned and admitted into performing arts school in another part of the county that would allow me to distance myself and start over fresh.

I was able to start over fresh at 14. Everything was fine until the last part of our Young teen segment in Literature at the end of ninth grade. We read Speak which is about a 13 year old girl who was raped the summer before her freshman year of high school. I asked to be excused from watching the movie. "I would feel better just reading the book" I told Mr. E. "Why?' He asked confused. I just stared down. Mr. E caught on. "Sorry, just take your stuff and go next door. Don't worry about the assignment I had for the movie, you're excused and go speak to Mrs. Geigley if you need to Barb, ok?" I never went. I was too busy replaying that night in my head.

Reading Speak brought some healing to me.

I still have my copy.

I spent ten plus years unable to cope and move forward. My senior year of college I glossed over my rape to my former therapist. I still did not want to address it, I just wanted it to be known.


I was 13. 

At 25, in front of my work colleagues when asked why do we do this work, I came clean. 13 Year old me was tired of living in shame. Little Barb wanted to tell her story. Little Barb wanted to speak after 12 years of silence. I gave her the room to speak, she shared her part and peacefully let go. I cried the tears that I wanted to cry 13 years ago, I clinched to some of my colleagues like I wanted to be held that night 13 years ago. Our facilitator looked me in my eyes and said, "You've been carrying that weight for a long time and I think you've been waiting so long because you weren't being heard." Avis was right and for the first time in a long time people were seeing AND hearing me. I remember when I finally spoke up and my father came home and asked me, "are you okay?" "Yes, I'm good." He knew I was lying, we both were too afraid to talk about it. For him it meant he failed me and for me I was embarrassed.


This past week, two months after I finally freed myself from my sexual assault I made a visit back to my old middle school. I spoke with the SRO (school resource officer) who I confided in,  became a father figure to me and we talked about that day and the pain that came with it. We talked about my growth as a person who I initially reported my sexual assault to and how relevant that experience is to my role as a mother and a role as a member of my community and my work. I spoke to my teachers that knew and responded accordingly and they spoke so much love on me and bragged about how they knew I would be the one student that would have the success that I have. They saw me then and they knew that I would be who I am now. I hadn't realized it but I had been avoiding that school, it brought me so much hurt. It also brought me resilience and people who have nothing but unconditional love for me. I am glad I went back, I believe that was a field trip 13 year old Barb and I needed.

I was 13. 

I understand how the weight of my sexual assault impacted my experiences with motherhood. My ongoing fear of someone harming my children. My agitation with people making comments about my oldest daughter breasts developing, her developing figure and the size of her butt grows daily, yet I remain patient as I ask family, friends and even strangers to not make comments or point out her growth. Not because I am denying it but because we need to understand how we inadvertently sexualize black and brown girls bodies, "that girls got a shape on her!" "Wow, where is the time going?! She has titties!" *cringe*

 We need to move away from that.

Why do I do the work of restorative practices and pushing for cultural competency in schools? My story- long and complicated is the answer. I want society to stop criminalizing black and brown girls while policing and mistreating our bodies. I want society to stop saying women need to protect themselves and instead say, "men need to understand that  regardless of relationship status you are not entitled to her body." I want women and girls who have experienced sexual assault to know they are not alone. I see you and I hear you.

I was 13. 

Kenneka Jenkins

LaVena Jackson

Charneshia Corley

Janese Talton-Jackson

My sisters that have spoke up

My sisters that remain silent

Me too. 

For more information about sexual assault and ways to help/educate you can visit these websites:

Me Too

Women of Color Network - Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault

FORGE FORWARD

Sexual Assault and The LGBTQ


Me too

by on 1:27 PM
The last two years, women have come forward about the sexual assault/harassment they have experienced within the industry.  Most of the...


COMING TO YOU LIVE FROM THE BENCH......



Happy Cuffing season ya'll! 

 Yes that's right, your girl is single.  I have been single for about a year and a half now! It wasn't until this year where I started to date, even deeper it wasn't until this month your girl decided to stop being standoffish and be open to guys who aren't "my type" while trying dating sites (Gotta love my pushy ass LS and Best Sandz *rolls eyes*).  My type is cliche, yes baby; Tall, DARK and Handsome! I get that right but he usually comes emotionally unavailable, impulsive, has a history of  bread crumbing or ghosting. Needless to say, I may need to change my type.......

Or.....

Kidding, Kidding...I think.

One actualization I had over the past 7 months was that I need to change my inner-self to attract who it is I believe I deserve. I also need to change how I spoke about myself and work on my confidence. Now, hear me out I ain't no "Pick Me" (See: thirsty jawns on twitter who willfully perpetuate patriarchy) but I do believe you call experiences and people onto you life for wherever you are in your journey. My last serious relationship didn't go/end so well. The beauty that came out of that was Jahara, life lessons and most importantly I learned how important it is to love yourself. I also understood and saw firsthand how toxic my own actions/words are. I realized how insecure and jealous I was because I had no definition of self. I was the relationship. Point. Blank. Period. This year has been the first year where I proudly show my inner and outer self (all 284lbs) off to the world! With that being said, I found all of this confidence to be myself and yet none to open up to date. So with all of the journaling, meditating, self-reflecting, working out and striving to be a better, kinder, more loving and gentler person to ME; I know that sooner or later my soul will call out to the soul that will love me the same way I love and honor myself. 

I also realize that I am naturally a lover and nurturer. I  attract men who need healing and love. These are the ones who typically have no clue how to reciprocate said love. It is up to me to identify them and choose how to move forward..meaning do I want to teach them or do I want to leave them for the next woman who wants to take on that project.

I also attract Virgo men and for the life of me I cannot understand why. One thing is for sure and two things are for certain...

1. A Virgo man is the demise of a Gemini woman. 

2. Ya'll are sociopaths. Don't @ me and do better. 



Bitch, as bomb as you are! What's the deal?

First of all, I don't even like meeting people family! I'm slowly getting over that and once I get over that I THINK I should be okay. Picture this, it took my ex's mother to run up on me while I stopped past their house one day and we were 3 months in....I still think he set me up but whatever. It's just weird and I've been in those relationships where mom (hell even dad once or thrice) doesn't like me and it makes for an awkward situation. I just didn't want to go down that road again. I was wrong about her however and now me and Ladybug (thats my nickname for her) are tight as ever and I love her soooo much!

(Actual footage of me trying to escape the day his mom pulled up.)


Okay, its not a dance team but you get it.
Second, I have internalized that men will be turned off or shy away because I have two children. I also get anxiety when I think about the possibility of bringing someone around my children and the heavy WHAT IF it doesn't work out. I know ya'll, Kimora Lee Simons has a whole Bring It Dance squad and is married once a year so it is safe to say that there is someone out there for me. At 25, I understand why it is important to date to figure out whats best for you and I also understand as a mother how exhausting it can be on the dating scene. 

I also have two little girls that I need to protect and I'm afraid that I will miss the signs and put them into harms way. For example, a good friend of mine invited me to her birthday party a while ago and I went with my youngest daughter. While there, one of her guy "friends" *more on that later* and I sparked up a conversation. He slid in with the whole "Your daughter is so beautiful and has such a great personality she gets it from you I can tell. [Inner Barb] Boy, you full of sh*t. [Outer Barb] "Awe, thank you!"

We did the typical ASL (Age, state, location for you post AIM kiddos *eye rolls*) and talked about our careers, family, how we knew our mutual friend. He even offered to take me out and teach me about football since I have little knowledge about it. If I had a 1.00 for every time a man led with "teach me how to follow football" line I'd be rolling in dough. This is the part where some of ya'll who know me are like, "Barb...Didn't you.."

Yes I dated a professional football player and I still dont' know shit about football, I just know the man ran the ball and dassit.

Speaking of which:

But Anyway...

We exchanged numbers and he walked me and my daughter to my car, said goodnight and off to Baltimore we went. A few days later we texted and it was nothing deep. 

My friend later asks if I had talked to him and I said briefly, at this point I'm not totally open to dating but I felt that God was pressing pause on things with him and for good reason. A few weeks later her and I catch up in-between our snapchat, text, IG convos via FaceTime.

YA'LL

This man had turned himself in that day for having sex with a student at the high school where he was coaching football. Both of us in shock and in disbelief, he initiated a sexual relationship with a girl 13 years younger than him. My friend kept apologizing and was so upset that she had let him in her home where all of those young girls were running around. We were so grateful that God had covered me, her and those babies in her house. I kept thinking what IF I would've pursued something with him? Luckily, that was the first AND last time I saw him but we were both in shock. Disgusted, angry and in shock. 

So yes, I'm unpacking a lot as I finally relish in my singleness however the anxiety of what ifs often paralyze me and I shut down knowing that I have all of this love to give. Also, I hardly have the time to date. You only get me one day a week and every other weekend. I don't know what kind of relationship can be built with that limited time but God bless you if you are willing to try it out. I've been trying to figure out how to write this for awhile because I was like, "how can I do this without airing my business." But shit, ya'll know I ain't perfect. Especially if you've been reading and subscribed (side eye if you haven't thus far.) I haven't given up on love, I am still unlearning the idea that when it comes to romance, I am no longer qualified to be someones girlfriend, fiancé or wife. 

I also am learning that there is more to me than being a girlfriend, fiancé or wife. Even now, as I see many friends becoming girlfriends and wives I remind myself that I am not in that part of my journey. Right now my journey is to define who I am while discovering my likes and dislikes. I made the mistake of putting my life on hold for a relationship that didn't have a solid foundation and spent more days bad than good.

 I was playing wife to men who didn't  feel comfortable with making plans with me let alone making me their girlfriend.


I realized I was so invested in a relationship that was no longer  because that was the only identity I had and I clung it to like my life depended on it.  I wanted to be married and hadn't even seen let alone imagined the power, success and life I could have just being ME. I realized that was my biggest lesson to be learned. So this year, I made it a point to be uncomfortable, share my insecurities and stories to the universe, as one of my favorite black women says, "It is your story to tell and it is the universe's to own." Now, I dress up, do my makeup and take myself on weekly dates. I hang out and travel with my best friend(s),  I openly take advice from black women around me that I consider aunties, sister and extended mommies. I don't shrink myself to make men feel comfortable in my presence. I don't apologize for "knowing it all." I'm just living for me now and I wasn't doing that when I was in relationships.  Out of all I have been through in the last 18 months, choosing to pick me everyday has been the best decision ever.

 I know that there is someone out there for me and when he comes it will be beyond everything I imagined. 

Right now, I am dipping my toe in the dating pool. So far, the temperature feels just right. 

Oh yeah, If you have a brother 27+, 5'10+, successful, Black as a pit from pole to pole,  stable job, emotionally secure and loves children...send him my way.

What's your dating life like? drop some comments/love below.

#IllBeInTouch


Ya'll....I disappeared again! I'm sorry! I've been *Whispers* working and playing! Okay, no excuses. To be honest, I haven't been sure about what content to provide that would be super helpful for Millennial mommies. However, I woke up this morning and realized it is October 1st and its a new month which means it is time for new affirmations and a new opportunity to speak things into your life!

What are affirmations Barb?
Affirmations are positive assertions. Affirmations have been around for like ever and go hand in hand with meditation, deep breathing and other spiritual/self-care actions. Author Alexandra Elle (who has a bomb podcast: theyheygirlpodcast) posts daily affirmations everyday. Her IG can be found here (Alex_elle).

Alex_elle


How long do affirmations have to be?

Affirmations can be a list or or just one sentence. The goal is to say/think them everyday and speak them into your life. To be clear: your actions have to match your words. If your affirmation is: I honor my body internally and externally, ask yourself what does that look like? Are you eating right, wearing clothes that make you happy, taking time for your mental health? Do just talk the talk, walk the walk!

Pray, affirm, do the work and manifest!

God cannot be the only person in your life that brings change! There is power in your words, thoughts and actions!



Here are my Five Affirmations for October:

I am honoring my body internally and externally.

I am slow to speak, faster to listen.

I am healing.

My actions are intentional and they bring me closer to my goals.

My presence brings love, light and joy.


I will write them in my affirmations book and with every journal entry I post! Still need more inspiration? You can look here:
Affirmations on Pintrest

Happy October!
#IllBeInTouch

What are your affirmations? Post them below!




Yesterday while scrolling on Instagram in the middle of transitioning in work, I saw a post that caught my eye. Lets be clear, it caught my eyes then influenced me to roll them....HARD.

I need ya'll to understand how bullshit this statement is..



We need to get away from this mentality that black women cannot feel or else the world will cease to move. Too much responsibility is on us and this statement implies that unlike our counterparts we are not allowed to FEEL or have FEELINGS much less embrace them with actions like crying. I was weakest when I was in spaces where I had to "suck it up" and not show emotion. I believed it instead of understanding that those people were truly not safe spaces and were simply afraid of what happens when you are connected to your soul and what happens when you listen to your soul crying out how much power you release when you answer. Stop encouraging the silencing of black women and our pain. Stop encouraging and praising black women being in a state of chaos instead of sitting with herself and obtaining peace. Stop reinforcing the toxicity that KILLS our spirits, minds, and hearts. Stop praising the rhetoric of how loyal we black women are to everyone but our own selves. Stop praising black women for loving black men that don't love us and protect us back. Stop stifling yourself and other black women, instead give your sister and yourself the space to take the weight of the fucking world off of her shoulders so she can love on and heal herself. We cannot raise healthy, stable, secure and confident daughters when we are still concealing open wounds, projecting our unstable, insecure thoughts and intentions on ourselves and our sisters. 



"Its Not about you anymore, its about your children." 


First off your grandmother and your mother is wrong and if they tell you this hang up on them and let them know I told you to do it, I will gladly take the heat. It is still about you, in fact its about you even more now because you are a mother. My colleague made a great point Monday as I cried into her arms over my ongoing situation as she told me straight up, "If you are not taken care of emotionally, spiritually and physically then neither are your children." Just because you have children together doesn't mean you need to be together. Black women pride ourselves on pouring into every one but ourselves. That's not healthy and its not cute. Looking back, I wish my mother would've taken those trips with her girlfriends or left my sister and I with my father because she needed not to mention EARNED the time she needed to herself. 

I have boundaries when it comes to my children's fathers and my needs. I have and continue to make it very clear that being a mother is a round the clock job and I need days and weekends to myself as well. In the beginning I felt guilty as hell for having two weekends out of the month to myself and one day a week but I NEED THAT. I need that time to be alone, to cry, binge on junk food, watch movies, go out with my friends whatever makes me feel good and will help me recharge. Yes your life is your child(ren) but you do not have to give up living just because thats what the beautiful black women did before us. Having that space between my children and I who are just as vibrant as me gives me time to miss this and unpack things that I believe stand in the way of me being a great mom. Plus, hell moms should be able to sleep in regardless of whatever age their children are. Sending your child away with their father,  trusted friend or family member will not make them resent you and it will not make you a bad mother, just a refreshed and relaxed one. 

"You just have to give him time, be patient with him. He will change, thats just how men are."



Uh, first off if you're in your twenties like me the consensus is whatever he is doing that is hurting you is this: We are too fucking old and you deserve better. Stop letting these men tear you down for the fact of calling yourself loyalty. Why does someone have to tear you down to realize how much more you are worth? Do not accept that. Black women don't owe anyone, especially men shit. We've paid our debts and we have every right to be loved and treated and respected just like the non-black women so often placed higher than us. There are enough beautiful black men out here that will not manipulate you or take from you emotionally. Decide what are your non-negotiables and stick to them. If Tyrone can't get out the car, knock on the door and open your car door for you then you don't need to be going out with Tyrone. Simple. No more doing the work for the men, let them do the work and show you how much you are worth to them. Loyalty is earned and as far as I'm concerned one-sided. I felt guilty for deciding to date a year after I had a split from my ex and he made sure I felt the guilt. Yet, for men we are constantly told we cannot question their intentions and their actions when we are not around. No thank you. You are single until he asks and is reciprocating loyalty, love and monogamy. simple. Your mental health and your heart is priority, no more jeopardizing that for men who don't even care to call you to see how your day was. 
I'm saying all of this to say,

We deserve better and we need to start giving ourselves better. Cry, scream, fall the fuck apart if you need to. Black women BEND Not Break. Trust me, your soul, your heart and your mind will thank you for finally taking that uncomfortable ass mask off. You can FEEL and get shit done. You think Oprah got to where she was by masking her pain and trauma especially as a sexual assault survivor? uhhh, I think the fuck not. Lemonade is the shit because Beyonce, a bomb ass black queen and powerhouse came out and told ya'll, I've been falling apart, standing strong, telling this nigga I'm not putting up with his shit and he better get it together or I'm out and I'm still going to be bomb. They gave themselves space to feel so they could be elevated. Sit with yourself sis, you need it. The world needs you WHOLE. Not broken and giving from an empty ass cup. Pour into your best girlfriends, children and man and tell them to do so unto you.

Last but not least,
Beloved, I assure you that crying for ten minutes will get you further and more shit will get done than if you shelter your hurt and resent while faking the funk. Sincerely, 
Your sister that is still healing and learning to trust herself too.

P.S. I wrote this post listening to CTRL by SZA best album to heal and feel too if you're in your 20somethings like me. 

Leave some love and light below. 
#IllBeInTouch


I think I can speak for many black women, myself included on how stressful it can be growing up as a black girl. At age 25, I realize I'm still facing some things from my childhood and teenage years that are hindering me becoming a better woman. To be a black girl and woman in this country is draining. We are constantly being observed, poked and prodded for our mental, emotional and most importantly physical state. We don't realize that the room we give ourselves (black people) to be free and experience life as they see fit is small but the room for black girls and women is even smaller. 

My passion in conflict resolution is to bring together our community and work together as we heal, teach and learn to love one another. My passion lies further into creating safe spaces for black children, especially black and brown girls to be who they want to be. For them to show and communicate emotion,  and to become human again as they once were before they were old enough to have their own experiences with people. The work that I do calls for me to be restorative not just with other adults and children but with myself, my family and my children specifically. 

So imagine my surprise last week, when my oldest daughter Tatiyana sent me a video of her riding her bike successfully as my mother cheered her on. I felt so proud I thought my heart would burst. I instantly thought back to when I, at age 7 learned how to ride my bike (my amazing sister taught me.) I remember the joy I felt, the freedom and thinking about how much fun I was going to have riding up down different alleys, the wind blowing through my ballies and barrettes. Then I got sad, because I thought about how in this day and age black girls are constantly facing more threats than black boys at home, in their neighborhoods and their schools and how the only way my daughter could feel that freedom is as long as I'm outside and she's in my eyesight. Simply because the fear of someone taking her or worse, being assaulted by a police officer who thought she was older or agressive is stronger than the desire to let her truly feel that freedom i felt. 

To put things into perspective a report published in 2014 by the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) addresses the wide discipline gap created in the school system between girls of color and their white counterparts. To date, black girls are 5.5 times more likely to be suspended than their white counterparts and 3 times more likely to be suspended than black boys (NWLC, 2014). They make up 18% of the U.S. school system, yet 35% percent of the law referrals and 31% of school based arrests. Thats 29% higher than their white counterparts. The reason for suspension? 'willful defiance' which is coded language for they were being "loud", "aggressive" or "threatening." which are characteristics typically assigned to black girls and women. This is problematic for many reasons including the girls missing school, being alienated from their class and also become more at risk to being entered into the justice system (school to prison pipeline.) 


We see the impacts of rape culture on black girls because we experience puberty faster. From an early age many of us are conditioned and taught we have no say in our body. As society would have it, black women and girls are only here to do the emotional and physical labor of everyone. We are Americas workhouse and sex slave. We are told "go kiss Uncle Buck!" Regardless how uncomfortable we feel, our family forgetting we have a right to our body, our personal space and deciding who comes into our bubble even if it is mommy and daddy, regardless of our age. We are taught early on that our bodies, are our fault and never mind that we've been put in harms way but that we somehow wanted it. We looked GROWN and acted FAST.
 Black women are associated with voluptuous assets and so our girls yet again face the issue of policing and body shaming for wearing clothing deemed "too short" or "revealing" that their white counterparts wear and are accepted. This idea that black women and girls must live a life of modesty whether intentional or not to assimilate into the standards of western feminism (which is centralized in white womanhood.) This is also an 'indicator' of our value and innocence *eye roll*. 

Another report recently released by Georgetown Law this past June, presents data on Black girls seen less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers. Black girls specifically between the ages of 5-14 are believed to need less nurturing, protection, know more about adult topics and to "know more about sex" the researched was gathered based on a survey given to 325 adults of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. As a black woman and as a black mother this is troubling because I see my sweet baby as a beautiful angel curious and ever growing in this cruel world, adults who are supposed to protect, teach and love her in my absence project onto her the image of a young sexual, deviant prowess. That scares me.

It's time we have a conversation. It's time we start calling out problematic friends and family members who do not understand that black girls have a right to their bodies. It's time we start calling out toxic masculinity that damage the image of black women and girls. It's time we stop making excuses and staying silent out of fear. 

While some of this information is new much of it is not as these assumptions and biases are rooted in slavery and white supremacy , I wonder if we as black girls and women will ever be able to get to a place where we can be vocal without being labeled angry (even if we are angry, rightfully so), demand space without being labeled aggressive, love our bodies without them being sexualized and monitored. Most importantly, be able to learn, grown and experience what it means to be a child without having that taken away.
I say all of this to say, black girl love on yourself today. Love on another black girl today. We need it. Most importantly, we need each other.
Drop some love below.
I'll be in touch 


 
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines vulnerability as "Capable of being wounded" and "open to attack or damage." It also says that weakness is "the inability to withstand attack or damage." Brené Brown, MSW, Ph.D says "One could argue that weakness often stems from a lack of vulnerability- when we don't acknowledge how and where we're tender, we're more at risk of being hurt.( Daring Greatly)" Okay Barb, cool shit..what are you getting at?

Let me explain.

A few months ago I had a huge breakdown in the middle of my bedroom floor. It was UGLY. I was crying, screaming, gurgling, face was hot and I was shaking uncontrollably. Where were the girls? Right there, my oldest daughter helping the youngest get dressed. All of this was the result of dealing with finishing graduate school, suppressing MANY emotions which include guilt, shame, overwhelm, emptiness, anxiety, etc. etc., being on bad terms with my youngest daughters dad and my laundry list is endless.

My mother burst into the room because she didn't know what was going on. She looked at me strangely and the first thing she did (out of panic, fear and because it is engrained in us) was yell, "Get up! The girls are looking at you! What kind of example are you setting for them?!" Uhm, mom hello...the one where I have a kid at 16 finish high school, go to college, have another kid then beast graduate school..duh, thats the kind of example I'm setting. I didn't answer with that though, instead I said in between my gasps for air, tears and snot I said "I cannot right now! Everything is too much and everything and everyone is suffocating me!" I wasn't lying. School, motherhood, work, being a black woman there was a lot of shit happening that I couldn't grasp.
As we like to call it in the conflict management/resolution field, interrole conflict. Interrole conflict is when the needs of all of the roles a single person plays overlap. When you experience this conflict you A.) exhaust yourself by working tirelessly to meet the needs of all your roles, B.) ignore them and act like everything is fine while you enjoy a cup of tea in a room engulfed in flames or C.) breakdown in the middle of wherever you are no matter who is around because physically you can't handle everything that is now coming up against your will emotionally.  As well all can see, I chose C.

"Well right now you don't have a choice! Suck it up, it is what it is and do what you need to do!" I got up 10 minutes later, washed my face, apologized to the girls and remained on autopilot for the rest of the day. Later on that night I thought about the interaction between my mother and I and the girls and myself. I asked myself four questions:

1. Am I horrible or human for breaking down in front of the girls.
2. What kind of message did I send to Tatiyana?
3. Do I want to learn to embrace my emotions or escape them?
4. Doesn't she care enough to ask whats wrong and be here for me?

Asking myself those three questions led to bigger questions:

Why aren't black mothers allowed to break when they have been bent beyond their comfort and control?

Why are black mothers and ultimately black females as a group not allowed to be soft? 

To answer my first question, initially I thought I was horrible and a bad person for being so emotional in front of my children (How dare I be human?!) Then I realized I was reacting humanly and that its okay to see that I had been wounded because it means that all along in order to better myself at school, work, with my children I had to understand the risk associated with that, vulnerability. 
Secondly, the message that I think I sent to Tatiyana was, "mommy isn't perfect, I f*ck up, I'm doing the best I can but the sometimes the world still brings you to your knees, literally." Most importantly, I was telling her no matter what society or your mother tells you, you have a divine right to your emotions and taking a minute to acknowledge that you don't have to be strong all the time. Even if it means being perceived as weak. I was weak for not asking for  help, I was weak for being resentful of those who did not understand the struggles that I face daily with taking care of two children alone. I was weak for thinking that I could do everything on my own. That was the message I sent her.


I know that embracing my emotions will help me long term versus escaping them and having them catch up to me like they did that day on my bedroom floor. So yes, I did which required me to turn my focus inward and look at all the things that I have done that got me there (toxic behavior in my romantic relationship, doubling up on coursework, forgetting important dates/carrying for my children, etc.) most importantly, the suppression of my emotions and my unfair expectation for important people in my life to become vulnerable at MY request and not their comfort.

My mother cares, without a doubt. Growing up in the south during Jim Crow era, basically raising her seven younger siblings she had to learn to suppress her wants and needs for her siblings. That also included her emotions, but thats the narrative for black women. We are conditioned to believe that we have to be strong, nothing can penetrate the force field we created. Our children, our spouse, no one can see that we break. When we want security we (myself included)  fail to articulate it because many of us come from homes where we keep what happens wherever it happens without fully acknowledging the hurt or trauma and the emotions that come with it.
Black mothers "aren't allowed" to break because we have been programmed to believe that showing emotion which is to be vulnerable is weak. Motherhood is not for the weak and black women are not weak. So we pack up our emotion which brings on shame and we project what we believe are our shortcomings out on things and sometimes people. As Brené says, guilt is I did something bad and shame is I am bad or simply I am not worthy...

I am still a work in progress. I am unpacking years of hurt and trauma, sitting with it and using it to tell my story but not define me. I am allowing it to reshape for the better how I think and how I see myself and others. I am changing how I love and focusing on what I've done and how to make things right. I am no longer seeking outside validation, I seek connection but I am becoming so grounded in who I am and who I can be that even rejection from potential connection will not take any value from me. I am enough. I. AM. ENOUGH. So are you and don't @ me on it either.

This is a vulnerable moment for me because whenever I speak with people they say, "You're so bomb!" "So many of our peers look up to you!" "You have it going on!" and on the outside I smile and say thank you but on the inside I'm screaming "NO I DON'T, I WAS ALMOST LATE FOR WORK, MY ROOM IS A MESS, JAHARA WON'T FALL ASLEEP BEFORE 10 PM AND I JUST WANT TO TAKE A DAMN BREATH WITHOUT A CHILD HANGING OF MY F*CKING SHIRT!" I wanted to tell everyone how the last half of 2016 and beginning of 2017 I cried myself to sleep, wallowing in sadness and fighting the gremlins in my head that was so confident and sure of my worthlessness.  But I didn't for fear of being judged labeled a bad mother or worse, weak. Weak because I'm human and I too need moments to myself to process where I am and redefine boundaries for who I am and how my roles come into play.

So in light of my breakdown what could I have done differently?
Talked to Tatiyana afterwards and explained as best I could that sometimes mommy can't do it all even when she thinks she can. Reiterated to her that emotions are great and you have every right no matter what society says to be soft. That strength is not in avoiding emotion but understanding, embracing and control how you react to things. Tell her that is weak to walk around as if you are invincible because the pain is four times worse than just acknowledging and sitting with it for awhile.


Now looking back and talking to my mother she said to me, "Sometimes I wish I had the courage you have when you both were younger. I don't blame anyone but myself for not fighting for me and demanding my space in my house and work. At first I didn't understand but I see how great of a mother you are because you take all of your hats off and just are who you are, mothers need that. Black women need that. You define your roles, you don't let them define you."

I want my mother to know I wouldn't have loved her any less (I am CRAZY about my mom) if she  set boundaries between who she is as a person and who she is as a mother.  I learned from her still and she's successful because I am seeing and choosing not to walk down that dangerous past. Mothers are not perfect and we are constantly building upon the many mothers in our family that came before us.

I say all of this to say, its okay to ask for help. Its okay to tap out for a few minutes. Its okay to fall apart in front of our children, it is a chance to show them that you are human and you hurt like everyone else. You can be strong and vulnerable, take these opportunities and embrace them because your children will learn how to cope with life from you. Am I saying to break down in front of your children all the time? No. I do make it a point now to share my day with my children when we speak about theirs so they can connect to me, learn empathy and can say "mommy has feelings and her feelings need love too."


To the others that are reading, sit down and talk to a mocha mom you know. Ask her what she needs, physically, emotionally and mentally. Give her a break. Basketball can wait sometimes fellas ( I know ball is life LOL) but your superhero needs a moment in her telephone booth. Be there for her and if she can't tell you what she needs listen to her when she's speaking. Watch for change in tone, volume and her physical expression.

After all, mommies, Mocha moms especially just want to be heard.

Comment section is as always open to all.

I hope my vulnerability will help you explore yours.

Light and Love