Ladies, Let’s Vow To Pay As Much Attention To Our Breasts As Men Do…

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I am 44. I am funny. I am 5’5″. I am married. I am opinionated. I am a medical professional and have been for (holy cow; you don’t realize how time flows until you start counting) 23 years. I am a mom. I am a great daughter. I’m a delightful friend. I mind my own damned business unless someone asks for my opinion. I love the way the sun feels on my skin. I hate the way cold wind pinches my skin. I am no longer the size 2 as I was in my 20’s; but I still quite like what I see in the mirror. I am loyal as all hell. I laugh frequently and like the sound it makes. I have ‘cheese’ on my thighs. I say all that to say, I’m a pretty regular girl.

So why the hell would a regular ‘ol girl like me be randomly diagnosed with breast cancer?

I don’t know either. But by the time I was 42, I was.

Cousin has this amazing blog. She came up with this incredibly necessary idea to address women’s issues, questions and concerns – from the trivial to the taboo; a place for us to hold ‘virtual hands’ so that we may share actual laughs, smirks, tears, groans, teeth-sucking, eye-rolling and head-nodding. A hang out without the caffeine highs or alcohol lows.

So when she approached me to contribute to this love-project by sharing the breast cancer experience (notice I called it “the” not “my”? We can talk about that in one of these here posts!), I was elated, horrified, excited, reluctant and jittery. I mean, I don’t want it to define me; but I damn sure can’t pretend it hasn’t changed me. So my intention will be to periodically share some of the chapters of my story. Sometimes in retrospect. Sometimes in real time. Sometimes forecasting.  Always from my heart.

This is the first installment.

 Susan

Let’s Address This: I don’t know about you all, but there is lots to say about this! First, “thank you” my darling Cousin; my best friend and travel-companion through this thing called ‘life’; for being brave, strong and an amazing example of courage to all who know you – the very least of whom is your daughter.

For the rest of you who may have something to say, please ‘click’ on those three dashes above my logo, then scroll down until you see the title of the post you would like to comment on. Select that individual post, scroll to the bottom and share away!

Ladies, feel up yourselves! Touch. Check. Examine. Scrutinize. Ask. Question. Talk. Stay Healthy. We have soooooo much more living to do and things to address! Me.

 

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor…”

This morning, I am compelled, for reasons yet unknown to me, to highlight this enraging reality. The young woman who’s picture is depicted with this post is Ms. Renisha McBride. When Renisha was murdered last year, she was 19 years old; a ‘baby’. I call her that because we have all been that age and, because we are fortunate to have lived past it (some of us, well past it), we recognize that at that age we knew so very little, were fearless, risky, depended on others to help us out of the situations we put ourselves in, ran too fast, talked too loud, shit, spit up and wet our pants when we drank too much. Just like a baby.

I know nothing about Renisha’s life; only what is reported (and much/some of that needs to be taken with the proverbial “grain of salt”); so, I will not presume to speak with authority on same. But, the next statement I will make is this (and I am willing to answer only to God for): this young lady, only a few years younger than my child, than many of your children, did not deserve to die on someone’s porch; the victim of a shotgun blast!

Naturally, the murderer’s defense is claiming this-that-and-the-other reason; none of which I will dignify with my words or your time; we’ve heard the excuses from murderers, racists, bullies and cowards before. But, let’s address this: how many of our children must die before our leaders, politicians, policy-makers and jurists send a very clear and unambiguous message that it will no longer be tolerated?! What the hell needs to happen!?!? I don’t know about you, but I am so sick and tired of seeing the small caskets! My heart shatters when I see and hear the grief of parents who are struggling to determine not only the ‘why’ in the situation, but certainly the ‘how’ – “how am I supposed to bury my child and continue to live?” My soul bleeds when I realize “there but for the grace of God go I”.

Sadly in this situation, the best that can be hoped for is that Renisha finally gets what she deserves through her death that was denied to her in her life – justice. I pray to my God for eventual peace for her family and for understanding and clarity in the lives of her peers. I implore all the Gods to please protect our children; keep them safe even from themselves. For the murderers, racists, bullies and cowards … nope, won’t print it.

Rest in Eternal Peace Renisha.untitled

 

Do you drink your coffee Black or with lots of Milk?

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On Saturday I had a conversation with a man – a conversation about women. As good conversations do, it bounced from interracial relationships; predominantly the differences in treatment from black, opposed to Caucasian men. Then it touched on the differences in behavior between black American vs. ‘other’ black women. It was fantastic!

My discussion partner was a black Nigerian Londoner who has some very definitive ideas about black women in general and black American women in particular. Coincidentally, so do I. My first opinion is this: there are very distinct differences that distinguish women based on both where they were born and who raised them. Being a black woman from Trinidad, I have to say that not only do I not see color; I am also not influenced by the color of someone’s skin. As a result of this, I am always surprised when/if someone finds it necessary to point out that I may be dating someone white. Yes..?

I remember years ago, a Caucasian man thought he was complimenting me when he said: ‘you are a very beautiful black woman”; he was surprised at my reaction. My response was in the form of a question: “why is it necessary to state “black” in there? When complimenting a Caucasian woman, do you similarly say, ‘you are a very beautiful white woman?'” I’m sure he still wishes he had kept his mouth shut (and probably even thought that I was one of those quintessential “angry black women”; ha-ha).

I am not; so, let’s address this. What I am, is a woman who refuses to get caught in the color-coding that exists, seemingly to keep everyone in their given place. I refuse to be stereotyped. But, I digress – I do readily admit that I know in many circumstances I am treated differently that my American counterparts; in part because I have an accent. I accept that. However, I would also like to think that I am afforded seemingly more opportunities because I work hard (as a lot of Immigrants do), readily ‘pay my dues’ and understand the undeniable value in the way I carry myself and present to the world.

In no way am I stating that that makes me better than black American women; that would be disrespectful and untrue. But, what I am saying, is that because I come from a place and a society that simply calls each of their citizens Trinidadians, as opposed to ‘Black Trinidadians’ or ‘Caucasian Trinidadians’ or ‘Asian Trinidadians’ or ‘Indian Trinidadians’ (because yes, we do have all those cultures), we instead focus on the person; not their color (or at least, most of us do). So, because our own ethnicity becomes a non-issue, we are forced to concentrate on displaying the characteristics that truly matter.

Conversely, I have found that black America is in a constant state of being reminded of just where they are positioned on the color wheel; and, we all know those wheels start off with the lightest in the front and the darkest, well…. Because this is (still) not my reality, I can only imagine what it must be like when the first thing about you that is noticed or spoken about, is the color of your skin. Maybe that’s why consciously or not, so many women are seemingly trying to divert attention from their ethnicity – straight-hair weaves, colored contacts and for some, the full-time job and eternal quest to catch the attention of, snag and hopefully marry a white man. Please, don’t shoot the messenger – I am an equal opportunity lover – I am only speaking about those that do it in the hope it would sufficiently dilute their heritage enough to soften their off-spring’s hair and misguidedly assume a white man at their side elevates their status and differentiates them from their counterparts.

There is so much more to address on this; but feeling as if some of you may need a minute. Let’s pick this up another day…

 

 

 

 

“Be the kind of Woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning, the Devil says: “Oh Crap, She’s Up…”

Good Morning Ladies (and the few men who dare to ‘follow’ me).

Stopping by to tell you that I am taking the weekend off from here; I’ve got shit to do – laundry, Target shopping, hair, cleaning, dry-cleaners, etc etc. Woman-stuff.

I wish you all a fantastic weekend! Squeeze every drop of anything you want out of it! It’s yours; ride it hard and sure!!

See you Monday? In the meantime, remember that life is to be enjoyed, savored, marveled at, tasted, sipped, stroked … you get it. Let’s keep that in mind. So, when the situations arise that confuse, anger, perplex, flabbergast, shit, downright piss you off, don’t yell, never lose your girl-swag; calmly, clearly, lovingly pull up a chair, cross your legs, look life directly in the eye, smile and say; ‘let’s address this…”

Me.

 

 

MTA does not stand for: ‘Man-Taking Asshole’…

 

20140724_170432Whew! Yesterday’s topic was quite heavy. But, no one has ever accused me of tip-toeing; especially not around the important aspects of life. But, today, I will lighten the topic; but not the importance; okay?

As part of my commute to work, I take the #4 train at Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. Those who know that area will know where this is headed; for the others, follow me – Utica Avenue is a little West Indies and predominantly, Trinidadians (where I am from). But, every morning, every God-send morning, these women look me up and down, lips curled and eyes all squinty … they look at me as if I either (1) owe them money; or (2) they just got home and caught me climbing off their man’s, well, you know 😉

Why, why in God’s name are we so very catty, ugly, antagonistic and denigrating to each other?! Why is our default setting positioned to “competition”? There is no need! I mean, let’s address this: I suppose I could unearth the fact that somewhere way under there the underlying reason I get such negativity is because, unknowingly, I pose some sort of unwarranted threat. But truly ladies, this is not only the United States of America, this is New York! If you sneer and turn your nose up at every woman you perceive as either a threat to your security as a woman or as having the ability to steal ‘your’ man, your noses will be in a perpetual state of an upward curl!

Listen, the bigger issues are these: (1) if the way I carry myself threatens you in any way; my apologies, I am a confident woman who walks with pride. (2) if the way I look does/can appeal to your man and you need to keep an eye on me and/or him in an attempt to keep him, ladies, you don’t have enough eyes; lose him.

But, I get it – there are women who mistakenly think that their ability to ‘borrow’ or ‘take’ another woman’s partner proves their prowess; so, you stand guard. I get it. But, only when we stand together, empower each other, uplift each other and refuse to accept anyone’s foolishness (including our own), will we then get to the place where we get the type of partners, respect and security we truly deserve.

Ladies, you don’t have to work so hard; you truly don’t. And, if you feel as if you do, then you are in the wrong place. No woman should inspire fear in your heart. No man should imbed insecurity to your soul. There is a great quote (told you I loved them) that says: “A real man does not make his woman jealous of other women. He makes other women jealous of his woman…”

So, when you see me coming, try saying “good morning”; I am no threat to you.

A Most Unusual “Thank You” Note

photo 3Your desire was to break me; to destroy my will, my strength, my peace of mind and finally, my body. You failed.

Many years ago, I was involved with a man whom I initially thought was “too good to be true”; It turns out that he personified the other adages that denote evil. He terrorized, bullied, belittled and ultimately attempted to take my life.

For so many moments in that ‘other life’ both before and after his final attempt, I admit that I thought of assisting him in that quest; silence and death seemed preferable to the noise I was living. Thankfully, I failed.

Okay…let’s address this: like so many other prevalent, important and epidemic realities, abuse, whether verbal or physical, is something that we do speak about; but mostly in whispers. It is time to erase the shame that the victims feel and lend them your voices, the strong voices, so that they can feel confident to speak up, speak out and expose those that attempt to silence them.

Because and only because I have erased his name from my lips, will I not call it, the name of my abuser; but suffice it to say that I let him in; he got very close to my most prized possession, my daughter, Aneesa (and yes, her name will always be on my tongue). And, I truly believe that it was because of her, in understanding the very damaging lesson I was unwittingly sharing with her, that I found the resolve to begin the process to safely leave that man. So, thank you, my love.

I left; and here I am. It was not easy; in fact, it was dangerous, painful, fearful, tearful and destructive. It was the stuff that insecurities are made of. It is no mistake that I have chosen to seemingly gloss over many of the details and those who know me well may be shocked at my reticence. Let me explain that decision – my reserve is not borne of fear or risk of threat, it is simply that what he tried to do, what he did manage to do, is no longer the part of the story that matters.

This is a “thank you” note: Dear MF (and even though it is appropriate, it does not stand for mother fucker), I thank you sincerely for happening to me. You see, a very big part of the woman I am today is because of your actions. All those years ago you chose to attempt to break my will, my spirit and to extinguish my light; but what you have succeeded in doing instead, is to have infused me with an indomitable will to survive, to succeed and to live. You and your actions have borne in me a purpose to live my life, sharing my life. You have given me a voice; my voice. Now, because of the path you have set me on, I will carry on and have dedicated myself to helping and one day healing other women who have come across other men like you.

So, in conclusion, I sincerely thank you. I thank you for your evil, your wicked and your destructive sides. I pray that you too seek the healing that you so need. I finally offer you forgiveness for what you have done. I pray that I never cross paths with you again; but if you ever dare to look in my direction, be proud of the legacy that I now live in your name.

 

 

 

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