Sexual Abuse and the American Culture

Women_SpeakUPThe last month has been a world wind of news and accusations of sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men resulting in men like Louie CK, Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, Russell Simmons, Senator Al Franken and Senator John Conyers losing jobs, opportunity and their titles.   On the other side of this coin, we have women who have been holding and re-living these atrocities for years, finally having their voices heard; finally getting validation for their pain and suffering. Each day, I wake up wondering who will be next to fall. 

It is heartbreaking to hear the stories and see the pain on the faces of the women as they talk about those they accuse. I do not think there is one woman in America that can say she has not at the least experienced inappropriate or undesired sexual advances. And some too many unfortunate women have experienced far worse and have been made to carry guilt, shame, and pain along with it.  Maybe, just maybe this is changing. Perhaps America is shifting.

There is this reality. How women and men engage with each other, how men of power at times treat women is culturally ingrained in the psyche of America. Our laws, our words, and actions have said for centuries that America sees women as unequal to men. It is as systemic and genetically infused in what America is as racism, and just like racism, we need to have some open and honest conversations and make extreme changes to fix these messes. 

In 1991/92 I recall seeing the trials of Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill.  I remember how Ms. Hill was made a villain, ridiculed and became the butt of jokes. Many people believed she encouraged Thomas' lude acts upon herself, that her feelings and experience was not valid or worthy of getting in the way of history as Clarence Thomas was under consideration for the supreme court.  I am sure that case scared many victims from speaking up about their own experiences with sexual abuse and harassment. 

Today, the punishments seem swift. There are men scared right now that they are next to lose the comfort of their lives because of actions that they didn't think twice about.  How do we, women and men of America, react and take action as we as we progress?


First of all, let's say this real clear. If a person says no, I am not interested, I do not want, or any other statement similar to no, move on. I know that can be an ego buster but better your ego than your lifestyle. No one is your object to do what you want with, sexually or otherwise. 

Secondly, we must openly declare how women have been treated unfairly and unequally in this country; define our equality and live it.  

Lastly, we must continue to treat all fairly in our day to day lives and by law, regardless of gender, race, culture, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. 

As a black woman, I would like America to consider expanding this conversation.  My truth is my ancestors, my grandparents, parents and myself are the result of racism and a rape-based society. Centuries and generations of pain and shame are part of my African American history and a considerable part of the original sin that is glossed over when we talk about racism, women inequality and redemption. These heinous acts need to be added to the conversation as we see more women speak up about their abuse. 

We are at a crossroads in America. We are lead by people who hold dear the things that are breaking us such as racism, inequality, religious freedoms, sexual freedoms and economic disparity.   The American conscious must choose what our next 200 years will be. We make that decision today by how we treat and relate to women moving forward. 

Balloon

I had a dream about a balloon a few nights ago. I can't tell you the details of the dream. Frankly, I do not remember them. Just the balloon. Red, of course, like in the movie, IT.  I am not a fan of balloons nor clowns so a balloon in my dream was very disconcerting.  I thought about this damned balloon all day. What did it mean, why was it in my dream. Why is it in my head several hours after the dreams is completely over. No clue but it is distracting and to remove it from my psyche I did what all artists do, took it out of my head and brought it into my reality. An illustration and a poem. 

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Floating above
Connected to the world
Only by a string and your hand
You look down at your feet, wishing you could fly, then
You looked up and with a mischievousness grin you
Released it into the blue sky. 
It will travel in your place – but where will it go?
Well first, it will sail over the grit of your city into the suburbs where everything is the same boring;
Tracking its way to the more exciting locations of the world. 

Maybe to Ghana's Accra or Egypt's Alexandria. 
London? Everyone goes there
Paris? It must go there
Berlin? Maybe there
Havana? Yes Havana

You wish it adieu and pray that it sees it all before it burst. 

Colorful Women Series: Love, Hope and Grace

This is the third of six collections of writings in the Colorful Women Series. It is about love, hope and grace. Love hope and grace are probably three of the most beautiful words in the English language. They are filled with the things we want in life. To love one another, to be loved. To be gracious about the things we have and hopeful about what is to come.  This collection is about these experiences of love, grace and hope. Some profoundly moving, others painful as love and hope can sometimes be.  

Read and enjoy.

 

Colorful Women Series: Body Parts

This is the second collection of a six-part Colorful Women Series called Body Parts. This was a very difficult one to write. I try very hard for my writings and art to help transcend us beyond the body, but to do that, you have to know your body, its power and limitations.  I think that this collection expounds on those things. I hope you enjoy. 

 

Colorful Women Series: Stay Woke

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Colorful Women is not about skin color. It is about the colorful personalities and experiences of women. But, the last few months have been filled with racial and prejudice events that I must use the Colorful Women platform to speak on the subject.  Sometimes having dark skin in America can be hard. It can be the difference in living an amazing life or not. It can be the difference in life or death at times. 

I kind of tear up thinking that someone may think less of me because of my skin tone which God the Creator gave me.  It could not be wrong or bad if it came from the universe. For me, my skin has been beyond a blessing. Everyday, I live beyond the definition this world has placed on my skin. I am lucky to have family and friends and the upbringing that says be proud to be Black, be proud to be human and to be most proud that I am a child of God. We all are children of God, equal and just as important as anyone. I know there are many people of color that did not have my upbringing and have been torn down by the American narrative of the Black person. 

How can we change what is going on in the world. Easy. Love is the answer. Treat others as you will have them treat you. Be proud of who you are inside and out and live respectively and a Black person or whatever type of person you are blessed to be. We MUST – all of us, know our history and how we became the country we are so that we can fix it. We MUST share our knowledge to other generations. We MUST stay aware. I love the saying STAY WOKE. They are amazing words. It is like the Matrix. Once you take the pill there is no looking back. Your eyes are open, keep them open. My eyes are open and with each day, each book, each conversation, each newscast, my eyes are open wider. 

WOMEN: A special request for you. We have gotten to a place where we tear down each other, men, our loved ones. Let us go back to our nature and comfort our children, our men and each other. Let us TEACH love. That is our womanly power. We have given it away to show our independence and some weird type of strength that really has created a toxic space. We can be independent and nurturing at the same time.

I write this with peace and love – STAY WOKE my friends. 

 

Colorful Women Series: Wallflower

fullsizerender_5This world is not always kind to introverts. Us that sometimes choose reading a book at home over the bar or an intimate conversation with one person over hundreds in a room laughing, drinking and dancing. Us that are sometimes called party poopers when really we like to party differently. Though one day, we will rule the world, today, I wish I was more extroverted. Invitations to bars and clubs usually go in the trash. I have come to grips that most of that is not for me. I end up standing in some corner or sitting in some chair like a wallflower. I don't want to be a wallflower at anyones even, but I could not trash this particular invitation. It was from you. I needed to go. I hadn't seen you in months but have thought about you everyday. 

If I was an extrovert, I imagine that I could, without thought, go into this club looking amazing, smiling at everyone and, as I look across the room and see my friends, holler without fear of judgment,  "Hey! Whadup!!" But instead, I have come to this club, alone and for the past 10 minutes have sat in my car. I must say, I look amazing in my off white dress and black heels, but even amazing can start to look terrible when you are nervously sweating. 

Time for the pep talk.

I am a grown ass woman and I can do this! I have paid $20 for parking and I want my money's worth. 

I got out of my car and into the bar I went.

Actually it wasn't as bad as I thought. It never is, but  what is fear if not an over exaggeration of the unreal and untrue?  I grabbed a drink and looked around for you. I did not see you anywhere so I did what most people like me do. Find a good place to stand or sit and look like I fit in.  A few people smiled as they walked by me.  Some said hello, but mostly I got stares. I am indeed wallflower-ing it tonight.  I so wish I invited someone to just chat with, but I didn't want to screw up a chance to talk to you alone and freely. 

I am crawling out of my skin. Every fiber of me is saying, "get the hell out of here" and it takes everything in me not to listen. If I do not see you in the next 10 minutes, I will call it a draw and try again next time. Will there be a next time? 

I took a sip of my drink and looked down at my shoes wondering why I picked them for this outfit and when I looked up, you were standing in front of me. A smile so wide and beautiful. You greeted me with a tight hug and warm kiss, and just like that, the anxiety, the nervous sweats, the fears disappeared.  We talked for a few moments and then, someone grabbed you. I was alone again but smiling. 

An hour later, I am driving home and just as I put the car in park in my driveway, my phone beeped. It was a message from you. It was a picture that you had taken of me standing on the wall and underneath it you text "A beautiful wallflower." 

 

Colorful Women Series: Colorful People

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Close your eyes and see the world differently. We have removed the brown hues, olive skin, pinks and porcelain whites and traded them for reds, greens, blues and bright yellows. Can you see me with my green skin and magenta locks walking down the street with orange men, yellow women, pink children and purple elders. How can the world not smile and love and be happy with happiness walking around saturated in beauty.  

Now open your eyes.  

Those colorful people exist. On the outside our beauty has been tainted by judgmental and prejudice stories and beliefs. On the outside we may be brown, black, beige, olive, tan, white – but truly open your eyes and you see that real US. The inside that sparkles bright like rainbow colors. Our true source of our beauty. Do you see that.  

NOW, you can enjoy the beauty of our browns, blacks, beiges, olives, tans and whites. We are colorful people inside and out. Uniquely and equally so. All we have to do is keep our eyes and hearts open. 

 

Colorful Women Series: She’s Better for You

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Hmmm, I hoped that you pick me, but I took a look at her. She is beautiful. She is a go getter. She is smart, focused and driven. I put her photo next to yours and even I had to admit you look good together. I am on Facebook and I see that you like her status, over and over and over again. I do too. She is amazing and I cannot help but compare. I am amazing too, but I am not good at telling my narrative. Not enough photos, events, posts or successes to brag about. I sit every day in my meditation chair and your face always comes between the gaps of nothing.  I think…one day, when time is right, we will cross paths and share paths – but fear that may never happen with such beauties, like her around. No, I am not jealous. I was disillusioned to think that I had a chance. My beauty only peaks outside of my bodily shell every once in a while. It can go unnoticed and it has. No, I am not jealous. I am sad. My relationship with you is just as real as the one I have created with you and her  but if I was God and I had to use my magical powers to connect people in human bliss. I would pick her for you. 

Colorful Women Series: Do You See Me?

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You read a lot. A LOT. 

I know. 

Put the books down and LIVE you say.  

Write the BOOKS – Don't read them.

You don't know. Reading helps me live. 

See, the last book I read, told me not to sweat the small stuff. 

The book before that, showed me how to think BIG. 

Two weeks ago I was reading this novel and I learned how to tell someone you love them 

AND

then how to murder who I love and get away with it.

Being shy (and sometimes shy still)

Books open me up and help me form words when nothing else would

Stories connect me to people. They have connected me to you. 

What is your favorite book?

Google.com isn't a book

What am I reading now? 

A Shakespeare play. My favorite. King Lear.

Fathers and daughters and bad relationships.

No, King Lear doesn't remind me of my father. 

You say good bye and walk away

I look beyond the pages of my book to see you get further away from me.

What would our novel be about. A girl in love and a guy with no clue. 

Oh my gosh. He looked back!

Did he see me gazing?

Does he see me at all?

Colorful Women Series: Neck Roll

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A short walk around the corner and I was at my fav cafe with a hot coffee and a book. It was after lunch but before dinner, so not that many people were there. Just the way I like it.  A guy on his laptop was watching  video smiling and silently laughing. A couple having a quiet conversation and one other person on the phone. The girl on the phone was beautiful. Long hair – most of it hers, flawless makeup and dressed to the nines. She sparkled. Her boisterous laughed filled the cafe. Every now and then she realized that she was disturbing the rest of us and would quiet down. 

Whoa. Her demeanor changed. She got up out of the chair and walked to the door like she was marching to war. You could hear the anger in the syncopation of her sandals slapping the back of her heels.

She didn't get completely out of the threshold of the door before her hand went to her hip and she began to point as if a person was standing right in front of her. Her words became shorten and rough. She is mad. And then, I see it. The neck roll, moving side to side with each word she says as though there is not a vein or bone in it.

"I don't need you." I don't need no man. I am an independent woman. Who the hell do you think you are?"

I was wondering what the guy on the phone was saying. We could only imagine. But we didn't have to imagine her responses. They were filled with derogatory names and expletive language.  After about five minutes of that, she pushed the red button on her smart phone, looked at it for a moment and with tears in her eyes she looked into the cafe. She realized we all saw and shame came across her face. She quickly turned her heard and with the same angry walk she left out the cafe with, she walked to her car. We all heard the car door slam and the screeching of tires out of parking lot.

I sighed, glanced around at the other observers of that episode and went back to reading my book. 

She was hurt. How many times have I heard women say how independent they are and what man they don't need. It is a mantra of a lonely and fustrated. What does independents have to do with wanting to be loved, honored and held. What do it has to do with sharing moments and life with anyone. Nothing. 

The neck roll tells no lies. She was mad. Maybe she will go home and have a good cry, or bitch to a girlfriend over red wine. She look like the kind that will take a bat to a car.