Here’s a topic I’ve been avoiding.
This was the poster on my bedroom wall for most of my childhood
If you know me, or even if you just know the earlier version of this blog, you know I’m all about Prince. Since the earliest of my days, I’ve been moved by Prince’s funk. Long before I knew what he was talking about, I was choreographing song-specific dances in my bedroom for an audience of none. Before I started choosing my own controversies, I lived for all of his.
Oh, Prince. Continue reading
It’s been one of those years. You know the type. When you’re like, “Oh, I’m gonna get this super duper important thing done in February, after I recover from the holidays.” Then you’re like, “Oh damn, it’s already April? I gotta get that pretty important thing done next month.” Next thing you know, you’re like, “What month is it now? July? Time’s passing quickly, huh?” Then finally you’re like, “I never got that thing done, and it’s November. It was somewhat important, so it’ll definitely get done after the holidays.”
Is this a thing? Or just me?
So, what’s that important thing that I keep meaning to address?
Fix yo life. Continue reading
Dating. Bleh. It’s not my favorite topic. So when The Black Expat asked me to write something about my dating experiences in the Netherlands, I tried to get out of it. I’d rather write about almost anything else. Well, as long as it’s a less personal topic. And preferably related to something I’m doing less wrong.
My primary defense against this proposed dating piece: I don’t have anything to write about.
My inconsistent participation in the dating game wasn’t even interesting to me – much less the jet-setting readers of The Black Expat.
The compromise: go on three more dates, write about something, and stop being so whiny.
So I picked up the Tinder (again). Had a revelation or a few. And I wrote about one of them.
“On a deeper level, I want to be understood without explanation. On a first date, I don’t want to explain why it’s difficult to trace my ancestry beyond the United States. He could be a stranger, but he needs to understand that Prince is, and will always be the dopest. He should never question why I do or don’t feel comfortable in certain spaces or around certain people. On a shallower level, I’m attracted to brown skin, thick lips and coarse hair…”
Read Dating without Compromise over at The Black Expat.
My eyes pop open just as the sun peaks over the horizon. With the soft glow of morning overtaking my serene bedroom, a deep stretch is enough to toss the previous night and its warm covers aside. Hopping out of bed with a smile on my face and a pep in my step, I embrace the good fortune of the day ahead. As I sit by the window to sip on green tea and read through the latest news, I’m warmed by the sun that continues to rise. Ah, next: yoga. The bright orange mat that was neatly stored beside the bookcase is now stretched across the living room floor, inviting me for daily practice. I clean, dry and put away my tea mug, then ease into several sun salutations. The calm and meditative practice takes my mind away from the stresses of the news and the to-do list that I’ll tend to later. I focus now only on my well-being and strength.
Yes, this is how a boss starts her morning – in stardust pajamas. Continue reading
Yeah, I forgot how to write.
No, I never knew how to write. I used to know how to think, I think. But writing thoughts down – that never made any sense.
Words, yes. I know plenty of words. Sentences, yes. I can make those – an occasional gem among the basics. Ideas, sure. I can come up with a few. But writing, no. No.
What do these buttons do, huh?
Even in response to basic emails, requiring little more than a simple reply and maybe a time or date confirmation, I drain myself to ponder word choice, tone, and all of my childhood insecurities. Because, quite unfortunately, everyone I email has the potential to be the one who exposes me as the phony I hope I’m not. So tread lightly, I tell myself. Take your time and choose wisely. Will it be “Best regards” or just “Best”? Delete. Delete! “Love always.” Continue reading
Although the United States of America became an independent nation in 1776, those “freed” Americans continued to enslave my ancestors for nearly 100 more years.
While I see the Declaration of Independence as irrelevant to me and my history, several measures were passed between 1776 and 1865 (when the Civil War concluded) that did have a bearing on the lives of my ancestors.
12th of July 1787 – Three-fifths Compromise
In 1787, 11 years after US independence, Delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia approved James Madison’s recommendation for determining a state’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Although northerners believed enslaved Black people should be regarded as property, warranting no representation in Congress, southerners argued that Black people enslaved in their states should be counted along with the whites (in an effort to increase southern representation rather than an acknowledgement of a Black person’s humanity).
The “Three-fifths Compromise” clause allowed a state to count three fifths of each Black person in determining political representation in the House. In political effect, a Black person was equal to three fifths of a white person.
This is a cross-post from my Ancestors unKnown blog. Visit Ancestors Blogging for the complete post.
I was in Charleston, SC last week.
A road trip that my friends and I planned with half an effort was meant to end in Charleston. But weeks before the trip, our plans started to waver, and we began throwing out other options for our domestic exploration. Making matters less enthusiastic, my work efforts in Charleston had become challenging and started to hurt my feelings. So I may have been the first to suggest alternatives to our road trip itinerary.
Then, a week before we were to begin our journey, nine people were murdered at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church. Charleston was attacked. With few words exchanged, we agreed on our destination. We might find no more important time to show up – just to be present. And since we were in a position to do so, we had no choice but to be in Charleston. Continue reading
I’ve been wanting to break the code on what it takes to sit with the cool kids since I was 35 (didn’t matter so much before). Countless professional development books, articles, newsletters and (free) courses point a budding entrepreneur toward networking, pitching, and generally “getting out there.” Then, tossing the essential social media into the mix, blehhhh. Networking and outreach efforts are resembling talent shows and popularity contests more each day. So as I hope for Ancestors unKnown to be noticed within a sea of noticeable work, I’ve occasionally wished for a louder voice and bolder approach. And maybe some street cred?
Short of changing my personality from introvert to extrovert, and significantly upping my coolness factor, I’ve been looking for input on how to play a better entrepreneur game.
One consistent piece of advice: be a speaker. If you give talks and host workshops, you build and share expertise, gain an audience and credibility, and (appreciated bonus!) earn some money.
Replanting your roots shouldn’t mean losing them
In March 1920, my grandmother lived with her parents and siblings in Jacksonville, FL. They shared a home with the parents and younger brother of A. Philip Randolph. She was attending Boylan-Haven School for Girls, a private school for Black girls that Zora Neale Hurston attended about 20 years earlier (and coincidentally my Mom would attend years later). She had just turned 12. Her mother had just died.
Her mother’s death was most likely a significant factor, but not the only reason for her father’s difficult decision to migrate north – just a few years before his own death in 1926. My grandmother and her family left behind the remarkable life they established in Jacksonville and moved to Philadelphia, PA.
Until I was in college and became keenly aware of my shortcomings in the study of chemistry, I planned to be a veterinarian. When I was in high school, we had two weeks for special, off-campus study for an internship or travel abroad experience. I always found a veterinarian to follow around and envy. From the emergency room to castrations and teeth cleanings, I was fully immersed in my future professional life. I was all, “shucks, this life thing is pretty much figured out.”
I had no idea I would end up living in another country, building a business that centers on forgotten family histories. But now that I think of it, there were some hints of an entirely different purpose from what I intended.
High school nerding in English class