Tag Archives: women’s friendship

Rituals , Spells, and Intuition

5 Sep

I come from a world where you don’t mess with your ancestors, dreams have meaning, seashells give advice, upside down coffee cups tell stories, and practicing black magic has severe consequences. As a child, I would sit between my mother and aunties’ legs witnessing women tipping stained coffee cups to the side, preaching of ills and/or prosperity yet to come. I would listen intently to them speak of cleansing rituals and baths that needed to be performed to keep evil spirits and negativity at bay. They would mesmerize me recounting dreams where lottery numbers, impending pregnancies, and cheating husbands were part of encrypted messages. They’d talk about so-and-so’s future, what she needed to do to whip it in the right direction, and sometimes who the no-good person was to blame for “puttin’ somethin’ on her.”

My childhood memories are full of elders’ stories recounting all types of experiences with spirits and countless inexplicable events. Though, at the time, my young/Americanized self often questioned the logic of it all, I knew two things: some things you just don’t mess with; and our ancestors were more powerful than we could ever imagine. I learned that you could talk to the spirits that always protected you and rebuke the ones that were up to no good. It was clear that just because you didn’t see it, it didn’t mean it didn’t exist, and that some things you just couldn’t explain.

Is this too cryptic? Okay, I will give you a personal account. In college I was fortunate enough to study folkloric dance in Cuba for a month, with two of my closest friends. While there, we happened to meet a guy who told us that his uncle practiced Santería. We all came from similar backgrounds (i.e. we believed) and decided to visit the Santero. While in the waiting room, a woman (related to the Santero and a practitioner) looked at me and said “your ovaries are sick.” I looked at her in disbelief. She looked me in the eyes and repeated in a stern voice, “your ovaries are sick.” Later on during my actual session, I was told that my mate was cheating on me. I went back to the states, scheduled an appointment with my gynecologist, and found out that I had a medical condition. My ovaries were indeed sick.  My mate also proved to be a  hot – trifling – mess. Needless to say: I believe.

Years later I read The Secret and came to the conclusion that the quantum physics theory had nothing on the stories I would hear as a child and my first hand experiences as an adult. Yes, you do have the power to control your surroundings with positive thought. However, the reality is that if you aren’t on top of your shit (that includes living a positive life & listening to your intuition), other people’s ill intent will inevitably effect you. Sometimes people just put stuff on you. For those of you that still don’t understand that last statement, I will be clear: sometimes people put spells on you, or like my people like to say, practice the brujería.

So, what is a feminista to do? I really don’t know. What I can tell you is what I do. I try to live a positive life. I love. I pray. I made a vision board that inspires me daily. I also have a shrine to Yemaya (because the Santero told me she was always with me). I honestly just try to be the best person/daughter/sister/friend/girlfriend/earthling that I can be.

So, for those that continue to hate on me (and I am thinking of a few individuals in particular…probably reading this right now) you should know that I pray for you every night. I pray for your health, your emotional well-being, your success and your happiness. I know (because my intuition tells me) that you are up to no good.

You should stop.

Seriously.

Stop.

Bathing in Florida water, honey and rose petals right now,

Crunkista

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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!)

Females: You Just Can’t Trust ‘Em and Other Lies Women Believe

19 Sep

Distrust among women is at epidemic proportions, especially among women of color.  I am always amazed at the number of women I encounter who declare proudly, that they don’t hang with other FEMALES, preferring the company of males whom they are quick to assert are less prone to gossip, back-stabbing, and emotionalism. Side Note: Y’all know dudes gossip! Stop frontin! For many women, it’s a badge of honor to be “one of the guys.”

Ironically, I have never heard a man declare that he doesn’t “kick it with other dudes, because men are generally not to be trusted.” In fact, such a notion sounds absurd on its face, doesn’t it?

I’m not trying to be clever or dismissive. I get it.  Many of us have been hurt by other women. Deeply. I certainly have. I have had girlfriends to smile in my face and then talk behind my back, sometimes while I was still in earshot. Because I’m more of a nerdy, home-body, I continue to be the friend easily left on the back burner when more glamorous, exciting people come along. I have had knockdown drag out arguments with homegirls, nursed terrible break-ups of what I thought would be life long friendships, and cried more than a few tears over unreciprocated acts of platonic love.

As one friend told me in the midst of hurting me deeply, “I’m not used to expending this kind of energy on girls. I only expend this kind of energy on men.” She was insinuating that my love for her, my commitment to our friendship, must have signaled that I was lesbian. The statement was insulting, not because it questioned my sexuality, but because it reduced my love to the sexual and suggested that women who love one another deeply must be sleeping together, as if sex is ever a guarantee that the love is good.  Lesbian sisters will tell you that it ain’t easy for them either. But it is precisely our homophobia, our fear that loving other women actively exposes the falsity of the strict boundaries of straight and gay identity that keeps many of us from loving one another with our full selves.

Perhaps what is more troubling is that many straight women believe deep down that in matters of happiness women are as expendable as men are indispensable. Hence my friend’s conclusion that only men are worthy of her relational energy.  But a life without sister-friends is a miserable and unhappy life.

Why is it that when women hurt us, the entire lot of us ceases to be trustworthy? And yet, men daily commit humiliating, heart-wrenching, soul-gutting acts of insensitivity, inconsideration and violence toward us. And we get up again and again and commit to loving them. Something is wrong with this picture.

Our thinking must change.

Let’s revisit and revise the messages that we got from our personal experiences, men, and even the women in our families that told us not to trust other women. Adulthood demands that we deal with our daddy issues and issues with men in general; Grown womanhood demands that we unpack the bullshit that we have with other women, that we name it, process it, and begin to heal.

Every time we use the word “female” in a derogatory manner, we strip women of their humanity. Cats can be female. Dogs can be female. Women are people. And no woman, be she cis or transgendered, should be reduced to her biology or discredited because of it. And as female dogs go, surely we don’t need anyone else to refer to us as bitches. For those of you who think your use of the term is innocuous, consciously check to see if you are ever saying anything positive about women when you refer to them as “females.” (E.g. “I don’t associate with females.” Substituting women in this statement doesn’t really make sense; although substituting the term “bitches” makes the most sense of all. So what are you really saying when you call women “females”?)

And can we also just be honest? If you can’t trust “females” as a group, can we trust you? The notion that every woman including you is not implicated in her own sweeping denouncements of other women is just as faulty as the woman who tells herself that her favorite rap star, “ain’t talking about me,” when he refers to all women indiscriminately as bitches and hoes.  Trust is like respect. To get it, you gotta give it.

In the last few years, I have been blessed with many women friends, after many lonely years of wondering if I would ever have close girlfriends. These women have loved me fiercely, even in moments when I didn’t love myself. They have talked me through countless heartbreaks and romantic disappointments. They encourage me and challenge me to grow. I am a better me because of the women I (have) know(n,) love(d), and share(d) this walk with; without them, it would have been a spiritually truncated journey.

A friend’s blog post reminded me recently, “I’m not only my sister’s keeper; I am my sister.” That one is worth taking to the bank.

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