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Today I Remember

6 Feb

First I want to congratulate the New York Giants for winning the Super Bowl and both teams giving us a good game, particularly in terms of defense.  I also want to shout out Madonna for putting so many women of color dancers to work last night and featuring two very different female emcees.  I must say I wasn’t very surprised by all the crotch shots, particularly after having watched a Nicki Minaj video marathon, but I was shocked by M.I.A’s “da Brat moment.”  I’m assuming she was giving the U.S. the finger because she was previously banned from entering the country.  Either way, good times, good food, good beer, a good end to the weekend.

The beginning of the weekend was not so good.  I went to the memorial service for childhood peer, Stacey English, the beautiful Atlanta woman who was missing for nearly a month.  Stacey English

Her body was found in the woods.  She was my age.  She had been in my class in elementary school.  I attended the service with my mother, who attended church with Stacey and is close friends with Stacey’s godmother. The entire time I simply wanted to leave the room where her closed casket was placed.  I did not know what to say to her parents.  I knew if I allowed my feelings to rise to the surface I would lose control and all of the fears and anxieties I hold daily would spill over.  So I stayed quiet and comforted my mother.

For a while I thought this was the first time someone close to me had been murdered.  It amazes me how much the brain can suppress until triggered.  Well Stacey’s death was certainly a trigger because I remember now.  I remember the last memorial service I attended for Jason Bowser, a high school student who was shot in his car.  I remember Johnny Johnson, a senior in high school who committed suicide thinking he might be sent to prison for stealing a pair of sneakers.  I remember Brandon Williams, a senior in high school who was shot at a high school football game.  I remember Sharon Davis, my stepmother who was shot during my father’s basketball game when I was eight years old.

I often think how blessed or privileged I am that I have not suffered as I believe others do.  Upon reflection I think I do not allow myself to suffer, which means that when it is time to feel I do everything possible to avoid it.  This is not self-care this is denial.  Last week I cried because I saw a powerful connection in my work, but it was not tears of joys, it was just uncontrollable tears.  I know tears are for healing, but I rarely feel I have time for my own tears.  Today I choose to cry.  Today I choose to heal.  Today I remember.

Umoja means Unity!

26 Dec

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa and I am having a few friends and family over to celebrate Umoja, which means UNITY.  I was first introduced to Kwanzaa as a child when my mother volunteered me to work the slideshow at a black arts museum in Atlanta.  I was so irritated then, but I am so thankful now.  Now that I am a full grown Black feminist I want to take the opportunity to reflect on CFC posts from 2011 that I think of as part of Nguzo Saba–Seven Principles of Kwanzaa.

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Image taken from http://www.lasentinel.net/UserFiles/File/122211/1Kwanzaa-kinara.jpg

UMOJA means Unity and it is my favorite day because it is simple.  Gather together and rejoice, remember, and recommit yourself to your ancestors, friends, family and community.  There are four posts highlighting this principle of unity on several levels from the very intimate to mass organizing.  They demonstrate the power of unity to change our world and our-selves.

Feminism 101 for Girls A Report Back

The Revolution Televised

Somewhere between Black Power and White Rage

KUJICHAGULIA means self-determine/self determination and this is my second favorite day (you will start to see a pattern) because I love saying koo-jee-jha-koo-lee-ah.  I also love it because I believe that is the greatest gift of black feminism.  Through Audre Lorde I learned the importance of naming/defining oneself and the power of determining your path for yourself.  The following are posts that I admired and taught this year precisely because I believe they express this principle.

Praise the Lorde

The Zen of Young Money

Ode to Dark Skinned Girls

UJIMA is really my favorite because I am a fan of collaboration and service in all areas of life.  It means “collective work and responsibility” and this is something we at the CFC truly believe in.  It is not enough to think about change, we must act! Whether is it recognizing the importance of care/self-care, the necessity of organizing, all of our responsibility to support mothers (parents) in childcare, or fighting to defend our right to exist—we must Act!  Troy Davis we continue to speak your name.

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The Immediate Need for Emotional Justice

Musings on the day after Mother’s Day

Lynching Remixed

UJAMAA is cooperative economics and this year it wins my CFC “top choice award” because without this community supporting our vision for doing a workshop specifically to introduce feminism to girls we would not have been to do it (meaning provide resources, goodie bag, and a healthy meal) for 10 teenage black girls in Atlanta.  When there are so many people undervaluing the importance of girls, particularly black girlhood, you supported us and let us know that there are many around the globe that do value girls.  For that we sincerely thank you.  We must continue to support one another financially and emotionally in our immediate communities as well as our virtual ones.

Feminism 101 for Girls

A Love Poem for Single Mothers

Help Support “To the Other Side of Dreaming”

‘Tis the season for a different type of giving”

NIA means purpose.  My mother took this name a few years ago (favorite).  I believe that this day is about being bold, being reflective and being open to listen to voices that you may not usually hear in order to move forward with “inclusive” political purpose for advancing justice in the lives of so many people who are marginalized and exploited.

Conflict is forever

Confessions of a Backslider

From Margin to Center: Health for Brown Bois

KUUMBA is the best because it means creativity and the only way to be a united, self-determined, collective, cooperative, purposeful, person is to bring your full creative (free) self to everything you do, and I do mean EVERYTHING!

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How talking to your girls can liberate your sex life

Sexy, Self-conscious, Sanctified, Sassy & Single

It Gets Wetter

10 Crunk things for spring

IMANI means faith.  Faith is what I wish for each of you as we journey into this brand new year.  Have faith in yourself and your abilities and your community and your spiritual source.  You have everything that you need.  Trust yourself.  I feel blessed to be part of this community and I have faith that in this community we are doing good work.

The Joys of Being a Black woman

We Created A Circle

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Reed-ing Gender Between the Lines

1 Dec

So if you need a break from job applications and dissertation writing try watching The Original BET series Reed Between the Lines; it has me hooked.

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I particularly like the progressive gender politics and the representation of a “blended” family.  Kasi and Kenan are Carla’s teenage twins from a previous relationship and Alexis is the youngest child of Carla and Alex Reed.  As co-producers, Tracee Ellis Ross and Malcolm-Jamal Warner are definitely modeling alternative gender roles.  Carla is a working mother and initially Alex was a stay-at-home/working dad.  For a minute I wanted to be like “Alex you ain’t got no job” (shout out to Martin) because he was home-schooling his daughter Alexis and not working as an NYU professor.  To be clear, I know home schooling is work, but he was introduced as a professor, so I he must have been on sabbatical.  But I digress.

For the first few weeks of watching I was perplexed because I’m so used to the male being the central person in family sitcoms I was shocked that his character seemed underdeveloped.  The more I thought about it I realized I just wanted to know more about his work because I expected to see scenes of him at work.  Alex being at home and not “working” outside of the home or explicitly working from home threw me off.  In a world of formula television this depiction of black masculinity rarely never happens and it’s nice.  The fact that the writers deliberately developed Carla and the children’s lives before actually delving into Alex suggests that the show is not about Alex and “his wife and kids” (still got love for Damon Wayans).

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Now I’m clear this is A (Hetero)Black Feminist F(ordin)airytale, but I can’t remember seeing a television show this deliberate about promoting progressive gender politics and good communication between partners.  Alex prepares all the meals including lunches for his wife and kids.  He helps Alexis with homework, joins Kasi in a school protest against her principal, is active with the “mocha mom” crew, and supports his son doing rhythmic gymnastics.  This is really pushing it for BET, they are really going there.  I also love that Carla and Alex present a united front with their kids, but that they also have disagreements, miscommunications, hurt each other’s feelings, hold each other accountable, and throw in a few sexual innuendos to let you know they really like each other.

It is a twist for the family sitcom to follow a professional woman to work each episode.  Carla, a psychiatrist, is the primary breadwinner in the family and usually the professional black women we see in the workplace on television do not have a supportive partner and children at home.  Speaking of the workplace, there’s Gabby the Spanish-speaking acupuncturist who can switch from sweet to looking you up and down like she switches between languages (aka badass Afro-Latina who rocked in The Best Man).  Then there is Ms. Helen, the administrative assistant who provides  “old-school” wisdom to round out the all-black female workplace.

Reed Between the Lines is definitely corny but I love it because I’m corny and I feel like I show up because I see a bit of myself in Alex, Carla, and their oldest daughter, Kasi.  It’s a refreshing break for a working feminist mommy such as myself.

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Reed Between the Lines

1 Dec

Reed Between the Lines

Feminism 101 for Girls: A Report Back

17 Nov


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Dear CFC Community,

Sunday November 14th was a day I had dreamed about for sixteen years.  I took my first Women’s Studies courses second semester senior year at Spelman College with the formidable feminist scholars and teachers Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Dr. Johnetta B. Cole, and Dr. Kim Wallace-Sanders. The entire semester I thought why am I learning about this “feminism” now when I needed it in high school.  Well, this past Sunday we were able to introduce “feminism” to ten black teenage girls from Atlanta and it was more amazing than I could have ever dreamed. Image

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Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall was there to see a generation of scholars, some of whom she trained in black feminism, share the way we view the world with the next generation of girls.  Even more important, these young ladies shared their ideas and perspectives with us on a range of issues and then thanked us for letting them speak their minds.  How great is that!

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Thank you, all the supporters who contributed financially, reposted the blog, and sent kind words and well wishes.  I want to thank the facilitators: Mashadi Matabane, Chanel Craft, and Asha French for your fantastic patient thoughtful facilitation.  Thank you Nicole Franklin and Lorraine McCall for making arrangements for the participants to come and for the continuous work that you do with young black girls in your work and spare time.  Shout out to Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown and SolHot for modeling good pedagogy and your ongoing commitment to girls.

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I want to thank NWSA for allowing us to bring young girls into this powerful space.  I am not certain, but I think this may have been the first time there were girls included in the schedule of the National Women’s Studies Association conference. Thank you CFs and allies for participating and providing much needed support prior to, during, and after the workshop. Everything was fabulous, especially the dance circle close-out.

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I feel so blessed and I can’t wait to do it again.  Next up–Feminist Saturday School for Girls!

Sheri Davis-Faulkner

A Daughter Named Beautiful

by Asha French

It doesn’t take long to return to your mother-tongue. I learned that when, after a long journey through academia (read: lessons of the white fathers), Professor Beverly Guy Sheftall opened the door to black feminism for me.

ImageFrom this ideological stance, I was able to more clearly articulate the way that my mother had taught me to survive as a grown up black woman and the ways that the academy had tried to make me forget. I believe that when we teach feminism to young girls and women, we affirm and encourage the very best of the mother-wit they already own.
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On Saturday, we tried to open the doors. In a small period of time, girls went from spouting Moynihanisms to writing messages of encouragement to Amber Cole as members of her “crew.” Many of the girls sounded like our mothers. They said things like, “We are all fully human, no matter our skin color” and “It’s okay to have a voice” and “You think I ain’t smart because of the way I talk, but I AM” and “I only have a mother and I am VERY loved.” One girl had a daughter named Beautiful, and I believe that says it all.

We Are The 99%: O.U.R. Walmart

13 Oct

OUR Walmart Associates, the 99% Strive to Change Walmart and Change the Economy!

Guest Post By:Treston Davis-Faulkner

This week, as Walmart hosted Wall Street analysts and investors for a week of discussion regarding the company’s financial health and outlook, nearly 100 members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), part of the 99% returned to Walmart’s “Home Office” in Bentonville, AR to demand an “open door” meeting, per the company’s policy, with CEO Mike Duke.  In June of this year, OUR Walmart made its first visit to the corporate headquarters seeking a meeting with the CEO in order to deliver the organization’s Declaration for Respect, which members developed in order to identify priority concerns including: a desire for more respect and dignity on the job, more flexibility in scheduling, addressing rampant understaffing and excessive workloads at Walmart among others.


Walmart Associates holding signs on sidewalk

OUR Walmart associates and allies in front of Home Office

As a groundswell of occupations and demonstrations challenging corporate and Wall Street greed continue to gain momentum across the US, the OUR Walmart members approached the front entrance of the Home Office at roughly 12pm on October 12, 2011 carrying signs that read: “Stop Cutting Hours”, I Want to Work Full-Time” and “Ask Us How to Solve Walmart’s Problems”, it was clear the company had called for an increased police and security presence anticipating this visit.  The so-called associates, accompanied by allies from social and economic justice organizations across the country, and locally in Arkansas including Jobs with Justice, NOW, National Domestic Workers, the Northwest Arkansas Worker Justice Center, and the United Church of Christ were stopped by police and company security in the parking lot and told that they would not be allowed to send a united delegation of associates to meet with anyone, and that only individual “associates” with the proper company name tags and identification would be allowed to enter the facility.  OW members were not going for this game and refused to play while pointing out to the security staff that this is in violation of the company’s own “open door” policy that supposedly allows for “associates” and a person of their choosing to meet with management upon request.

All the while, the organized associates and their allies were also being told by security that the parking lot is private property and they need to return to the sidewalk, or be arrested.  As this was going on, OUR Walmart member and associate at a Walmart in Crenshaw, CA, Greshriela Green yelled to security personnel, “why don’t you ask for our Welfare cards too?”, implying that the low wages and sparse benefits the company offers its employees, too often lands “associates” on public assistance.


NOW President – Terry O’Neill

The members then gathered on the sidewalk and were addressed by Venazi Luna who works at a store in Southern California.  Venanzi declared:  “Mike Duke and this company do not respect us enough to meet with us after we traveled all the way to Arkansas to talk about how we can work together to improve employee relations, customer service and Walmart’s success!  What he doesn’t understand is that we are not going to stop!”  Terry O’Neill – President of the National Organization of Women also addressed the group affirming the leadership the members of OUR Walmart are demonstrating by engaging each other and the company’s management nation-wide and vowing that NOW would be with them “every step of the way”!

The associates and their supporters chanted on the sidewalk for roughly 15 minutes holding signs so that those driving by could read them and chanted:  What do we Want?  Respect! When do we want it?  Now!” and “We are the 99%!”  As they returned to their buses, they let Home Office know:  “We’ll be back, We’ll be back!”

As OUR Walmart members and allies ate sandwiches after the visit to Home Office, and reflected on what just happened, they were fired up and angry that their employer treated them this way.  Angie Rodriguez, an associate from Southern CA, mocked the fact that the Company refers to its employees as “associates”:  “They call us associates!  If we are associates, we would be partners.  How they treated us today is not how you treat partners.  We are workers!  We are the 99%!”

Sarita Gupta, Executive Director of National Jobs with Justice celebrated the courage and leadership being demonstrated by OUR Walmart in taking on the huge task of changing the policies and practices of the countries largest private employer:  “In an era of insecurity, OUR Walmart is a part of a fast growing movement of workers who are standing up to rebuild the economy the right way—by creating and maintaining good, union jobs, a strong social safety net, and all at the expense of the banks on Wall Street who stole it from us in the first place.”  “While Congress debates a jobs program, we stand united, not merely demanding jobs, we are demanding jobs with justice!  We want jobs with decent pay, good benefits and jobs with dignity and respect!”

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The Choices We Make

26 Sep

Story #1- Last Monday I picked my son up from his afterschool program and was met with a full on tantrum.  He was upset that I would not allow him to eat the gummy Starbursts given to him by his chess coach and informed me that he had already had some at “snack” time.

Story #2-On Saturday my mother asked me to pick up some food for my stepfather who is diabetic and paralyzed from the waist down.  My stomach cringed because I knew he was going to ask me to pick up something from a fast food restaurant.

Story #3-Last night I was reviewing literature for America Recycles Day in preparation for my son’s school event which is scheduled for November 15th.

Yes, I’m one of those mothers who don’t want to go along and get along. I regulate my son’s high fructose corn syrup (chemically processed corn) intake, I do not want to purchase fast food for an advanced stage diabetic, and social marketing campaigns always get the side eye (to borrow from my sisters).  Each of these stories raise concerns for me because it is damn difficult to function in this ridiculous culture of consumer capitalism because at every turn you have to suspend common sense to make decisions like purchasing school pictures and selecting the pose before your child actually takes the picture.

Here are the primary issues with each story, I had to have a 45 minute conversation with my son’s coach about the inappropriateness of giving children 25g of sugar (HFC) for an afterschool “snack.”  Food prices are increasing significantly, yet my stepdad’s double burger and fries costs $2.36.  I can barely get a cup of tea or a half-gallon of milk for $2.36, so how can I pursue a discussion about changing food habits with a family member on a fixed income.  $2.36 is not affordable food, that’s damn near free in comparison with the costs of slow food.

Finally, I want to be an active parent so I joined the Green and Healthy committee at my son’s school.  So why is America Recycles Day sponsored by Pepsico, Disney, Nestle Waters, Johnson and Johnson, LG (appliances and electronics), and Glad (plastics)?  Their investment in global supply chains that destroy natural resources and people’s lives globally is precisely the problem.

When I was young a school fundraiser was a bake sale of homemade goods or chocolates that had actual sugar not HFC.  Now a school fundraiser means talking with parents that work for Coca-Cola Inc. and online jewelry and magazine sales.  Having a 45 minute conversation every time these situations present themselves would not only usurp all of my time but it would also make me a pariah in my son’s school, afterschool, and in my family.  So I get screamed at by my son for taking away the 25g of HFC sugar, quietly hand over the bagged $2.36 meal, and hold my nose while planning an America Recycles (for a) Day activity with leading corporate plastic, aluminum cans, and energy polluters.  You may think these are minor but this is one week and simply the stories I choose to share.  I know I have “choices” and that I need to “choose my battles” but really it’s the same limited choice day in and day out—engage or resist, and I’m getting a bit worn out.

Atlanta Music Scene Coming Back: The Chronicle Reunion

26 Jul

Please understand that before there was crunk there was The Chronicle; before there was Bone Crusher there was Lyrical Giants; before there was India Arie there was Donnie and Joi, before Janelle Monae there was Edith’s Wish. Atlanta was bursting with musical creativity and at the center of the live music scene was a band called The Chronicle.

I have been privileged to grow up in Atlanta with the National Black Arts Festival for what seems like a lifetime. If you have not experienced it you need to make arrangements immediately for 2012 because the visual arts exhibits, the dance performances, the theater, the parties, the markets, the films, the people, and the concerts ohh the concerts are not to be missed in Hotlanta in July.

But this year was special. This year there were two events that transported me back to Atlanta, circa 1994, the summer leading to my sophomore year in college. For nearly a decade Jason Orr brought Black Atlanta together to vibe through every sensory outlet of our collective bodies through the Funk Jazz Cafe. People came from all over sprawled out “Atlanta” and stood in line for hours without knowing who was going to perform. It was electric. Orr, a creative genius, developed a phenomenal documentary about the state of black music over the last two decades called Diary of a Decade. He premiered his documentary at the NBAF film festival to sold out audiences who not only watched the two hour flic, but stayed for the post-film discussion. We left the film like we had been to a Funk Jazz Cafe event, drenched with nostalgia for an era we have been trying to explain since it ended.
The film chronicles amazing performances by Jill Scott, Dionne Farris, Omar, Me’shell N’degeocello, Goodie Mob, Bilal, Doug E Fresh, Janelle Monae, and sooo many more folk who in the early days jammed to the legendary house band, The Chronicle.

In the late 1990’s Yin Yang Cafe was the place to get your true caffeine every Thursday night via The Chronicle. It was an open mic night, there was no rehearsal…all improvisation…live music flow…dancer’s heaven. And we danced like we might fall out if the music stopped. Bone Crusher and, comedian, Zooman were the hosts and they didn’t let just anyone get on stage.

This year the NBAF featured The Chronicle Reunion after nearly a decade. The original members Billy Odum, L-roc Phillips, DJ Kemit, Phil Davis, Avery Johnson, and Lil’ John Roberts pumped out hits, like “The Rock Song” that only Yin Yang Cafe (now Apache Cafe) regulars would know. All I know is I couldn’t move my neck or talk for days but I felt like a burden had been lifted by the end of the night. It was the spiritual experience–the release–I have been looking for since 2005.

Both Funk Jazz Cafe and the Chronicle presented artists like they were already stars and you just didn’t know it yet, like singer/songwriter Donnie (The Colored Section) and Joi (Star Kitty’s Revenge). In true form The Chronicle presented artists like lyricist Kev Choice out of the Bay area and my favorite of all, a true “wildchild,” Phillipia, who was so bad ass that The Chronicle ended up handing their instruments over to her band to close out the night at Apache Cafe. You know you bad when one band brings you up to play with them and you bring it such that they relinquish the stage to you and yours.

Now youtube can never recreate the feeling of being there, but it can give you a taste. So here goes…

I’m just relishing in the fact that the Atlanta Music scene is coming back and on Wednesday night I will be rocking to Phillipia at Centennial Park for the Wednesday WindDown. If you’re here I urge you to be there. I’ll be the one with the big hair bobbing back-n-forth in the front. Give Thanks.

Did you say lesbians? I love lesbians!

29 Jun

So I’m sitting in a coffee shop talking with a brother about a trip he took to Africa to work in a village. I was a little annoyed by his comments that more black kids should be taken to Africa so they can see how good they have it in America, but I decided not to intervene on that point. (Good is a relative term and entitled US urban/suburban black youth can go to plenty urban and rural places in the US and see that they have greater access to basic needs. No global gawking is necessary).

Then he proceeds to explain that one of the participants was a lesbian and that she started to become more feminine the more she got into the gender roles established in the community that hosted them. He continued to talk about this woman reconsidering her “lesbianism” having had this experience in Africa until I explained that I did not agree with his perspectives on lesbianism as something wrong.

In hindsight I wish I had just said, “Did you say lesbians? I love lesbians. They are so awesome!” Then followed that up with my long list of why I LOVE lesbians.

Lesbians founded my alma mater—I’m pretty sure of it.

Lesbians taught me about Marx in their spare time in Ohio.

Lesbians gave me a place to stay in DC, Oakland, Southern California, Ohio etc.

Lesbians are deliberate about having a relationship with my son.

A lesbian groomed my partner for his current position and still has the shit we left behind when we moved in her basement—MB we will handle our business soon.

Lesbians taught me about heterosexual privilege, homophobia, and heterosexism in addition to racism, sexism, ageism, ableism etc.

Lesbians played guitar and sang and danced with me

Lesbians write some really good fiction

Lesbians go door knocking with me on Get Out The Vote campaigns

Lesbians go marching and rallying with me

Lesbians fight for justice everywhere

Lesbians taught me about public policy, labor rights, women’s rights activism and advocacy

Lesbians helped me paint and pack my house when we moved away

Lesbians brought me honey and took me out to dinner.

Lesbians created black women’s studies

In short lesbians have always shown me and mine lots of love.

Did you say lesbians? I LOVE LESBIANS, will be my first response next time someone wants to think that we might think alike because we are both, I dunno, black, speaking English, fancy the same coffee shop at the same time of day, whatever. Next time I will be ready with a list of ALL the fly lesbians I love: Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Sapphire, Cheryl Clark, Me’shell Ndegeocello, JenRose, MaryBeth, Laura and Katie (shout out to your new beautiful baby girl), Moya, Nancy, Monique, Bonji, Donna Troka, Sile Singleton, Taising and Jen, Carol, Smiley, just to name a few. Do you love lesbians too? Name your list of favorites and tell us why. (Please be considerate, do not out anyone!)

These Days I Hate Going to the Gynecologist

30 May

Oftentimes women complain that they hate going to the gynecologist because they don’t like the procedures.   Sometimes it is likened to going to the dentist but more uncomfortable and personal.  I can’t say that my reasons are related to the procedures.  In fact, what makes me most uncomfortable about the speculum is the historical exploitation of black women whose bodies were violated as subjects in the development of this tool.

I also cannot say that I dislike the intimate discussions about my personal life and habits.  Ideally this space should be like going to a mental health therapist where I would have an opportunity to learn about my body, my habits, and my emotional well-being without feeling less than or abnormal.  Unfortunately this is not what happens.

Why do I have such idealistic notions regarding the possibilities of a gynecological visit, you might ask?  Well I have had phenomenal experiences early in my life that suggest that my ideas about gynecological safe spaces could be the norm.  I want to take a quick moment to shout out three good experiences out of numerous horrific encounters.  Nurse Fuqua at Spelman College Health Center, a black woman who taught me to feel powerful as a sexual being and to be cautious.  Dr. Martin Dukes, a retired black male doctor who always made sure to have another person present and was deliberate about making me as comfortable as possible in the exam room.  The Feminist Women’s Health Clinic in Atlanta has been a “breath of fresh air.”  I engaged in real-talk with the white female nurse practitioner (whose name I cannot remember) and was treated like a grown up worthy of dialogue and not health-insurance-speak.  Unfortunately I the FWHC cannot function as my primary health provider.

The Feminist Women's Health Center Logo

So I have told you the good, now here are three ridiculous scenarios I have experienced myself and one disturbing story I have been told by many friends, who are black women.

1.  Most recently I went to a gynecologist at a clinic and the black female doctor was so extremely rude and rough that I literally left in pain and with an unhealthy fear of returning.  When I came back to get test results I brought a friend, who at one point actually asked the doctor to leave the room.  I wanted to do violence, and those who know me know that is out of character.

2.  In 2009 I went to black female doctor and during my examination I requested an AIDS test, and she replied, “but aren’t you married.” (Strike one, two, and three–you cannot be my doctor).

3.  In 2008 I was having pain in my uterine area and was going to “holistic” black female doctor who gave me an ultrasound which indicated that my ovary was attached to my uterine wall.  Even though the pain was on the opposite side of my uterus she suggested outpatient surgery.  The background story is that she had identified that my estrogen levels were high and that I drank soymilk regularly.  It turned out nothing was wrong, I stopped drinking soymilk and the pain went away instantly, and realistically as second ultrasound (which is cheaper and less invasive) would have revealed that my ovary was not attached to my wall.  Needless to say that was my last visit there.

4.  Over the past few years I have been having this discussion about finding a good gynecologist.  I am very disturbed that one of the main reasons why many women I know indicate that they stopped going to the gynecologist altogether is because they would go for an annual exam and get a lecture on weight loss and BMI.  Now it is one thing for a doctor to have a holistic discussion about healthy bodies.  It is something totally different to peddle weight loss programs and pharmaceutical drugs in a gynecological space, especially if it has no bearing on the concerns that bring women into the space.

What am I looking for in a gynecological relationship?

1.  Access–I don’t want to wait 6 months to see my doctor about a yeast infection.

2.  Dialogue–I need them to respect me enough to give me non-scripted explanations provided by pharmaceutical and insurance companies.  I want to know why you are asking particular questions about recreational drug use and how that is related to my uterine health.

3.  Be gentle and kind–Recognize that internal investigations and treatments are intimate and have emotional costs.

4.  Be supportive–If I am in good health, don’t target me for weight loss products and leave my body esteem intact.

5.  Respect me–If I have particular concerns address them to the best of your ability and refer me to someone else if you cannot.  Furthermore, don’t require me to fit into a normalized lifestyle to receive excellent care, know your craft and treat me as an individual.

As you can see, I have a commitment to supporting black female and women-of-color doctors, but honestly my best experiences have been with female nurse practitioners.  It is not my intent to suggest that black female doctors are not good gynecologists, my experiences suggest this but I simply refuse to believe it. Ultimately, I want to open up some dialogue about the right to have good gynecological experiences.  What are some of your good/bad/ugly stories?  What are you looking for?  What have you found?

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