Introducing: The Black Women’s Studies (BWST) Booklist by Dr. Stephanie Evans

Dr. Stephanie Evans (you may know her from her hit book Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850-1954: An Intellectual History– among others), of Clark Atlanta University’s Department of African American Studies, Africana Women’s Studies, and History undertook a herculean effort: to compile a list of books by, for, and about Black women that are based within women’s studies and/or those that fall within the women’s studies knowledge tree.

The culmination of her efforts has resulted in a 1400+ list of books by, for, and about Black women from theories and identities to activism and social location. The book list is broken down into themes/ disciplines as pictured in her image below, and the website also boasts an alpha order version of the project.

(Evans, 2019, https://bwstbooklist.net/)

We appreciate Dr. Evans for situating the work of #CiteASista as part of a long tradition of Black women’s studies (pp. 9-10) and for chronicling the inspirations and commitments we offer to academe and beyond (pp. 3-5) through the #CiteASista project which was the first of its kind in 2016 when we bagan.

Visit the Black Women’s Studies Booklist online *Here*!

Ciara’s #GreatestLove: Our Valentines Day Weekend & Summer Bop

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

If you’re like most of us on Team CiteASista you were too busy working or writing or parenting or some combination to make things happen in full force. But that’s what weekends are for and we’ve got a sure hit to get yours popping.

Team #CiteASista’s fave and fellow Metro ATL native Ciara released her new song and video “Greatest Love.” The song has a very sultry yet upbeat vibe and after watching/ listening to it way too many times in a row, we are both fans of the song and video. As you start to get your summer 2019 vibes playlists together, make sure you add this one to it.

Check out the song and video below & sound off in the comments with your thoughts on Ci-Ci’s new jam.

Books about Black Women to Add to Your Black History Reading List

Let our society tell it, Black women have never had an impact on history.  Black women have no stories to tell.  Black women’s roles are to support – but never overshadow –  their husbands, sons, brothers and white counterparts.  History tends to leave Black women’s stories untold or flatten their stories into a bite-sized, one-dimensional tales of piety, sacrifice, or perfection.

The truth is that Black women have always been innovators, strategist, radical thinkers, and pillars of every community. Yet, somehow, so many amazing stories of Black women have been lost to time.

Here’s a short list of compelling books about Black women for your Black History Month reading list that aren’t Michelle Obama’s Becoming (which I assume is on all our “to read” or “read” lists).

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics by Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore with Veronica Chambers

colored girls cover

Photo credit: Macmillian Publishers

This book tells the stories of four women who have been major players in American political systems.  These women met early in their careers and have helped each other navigate work dynamics, personal tragedies, career mistakes and more by creating a support system for themselves and the other black women around them. They, individually and collectively, have been driving forces in some of the major Democratic campaigns and political moments, including both Jesse Jackson’s and Hilary Clinton’s historic presidential campaigns and the Clinton Administration. In addition to recapping their biographies and careers, the women provide thoughts on the importance of building and nurturing your networks and finding mentors and allies who can push you forward and keep you sane.

Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry

lorraine

Photo credit: Beacon Press

Most are familiar with Lorraine Hansberry’s play “A Raisin in the Sun”, the first Broadway play written and produced by a Black woman.  This book chronicles Hansberry’s short life before she died from cancer when she was 34 years old and proves that her famous play is just the tip of the iceberg.  Hansberry was dedicated to living a life true to her ideals.  Hansberry grew up the daughter of a prominent Black businessman in a middle-class Black family in Chicago.  She was an outspoken lesbian, feminist and Black rights activist who never shied from expressing her thoughts. Her crew included the who’s who of the day, including James Baldwin, Nina Simone, and Paul Robeson.   Hansberry was revolutionary.

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

terrist.jpg

Photo Credit: Macmillian Publishing

In the relatively few years since the Black Lives Matter movement started, it has forever changed our language around the systemic abuse and deaths of black people by police officers. The casual BLM fan may not realize that that the organization was started by women who wanted to make a change in their communities.  This book serves as the author’s biography and to the events that lead to the start of the BLM and how the movement changed the lives the author and her family.

The World According to Fannie Davis by Bridgett M. Davis

fannie davis little brown

Photo credit: Little, Brown and Company

This book is at the top of my personal list, so – full disclosure- I haven’t read it but am extremely excited for my copy to reach my doorstep.  The author tells the story of how her mother made ends meet, bought a house and paid for her college education by running the Numbers.  The Numbers was something like a lottery system that was prominent in black communities.  Though this is a story of one woman, the greater story displays examples of Black entrepreneurship and black people creating wealth and investing in their communities through underground economies.

This list is just a flake on the tip of the iceberg and there are so many black female experiences not represented in this extremely short list.  What books would you add to the list?

Developing a Healthy Sexual Ethic

It’s no secret in my friend circles that I was the last one to start having sex of any kind. I squandered my would be heaux years because of raggedy ass purity culture, never exploring myself as a sexual person, ashamed of any and all desire to know another person beyond a kiss or nipple play (which I was already going to hell for lol), developing performance anxiety about sex I wasn’t even having (*boxes self in the throat*), and foolishly thinking myself better than all of the other women (barely) getting their orgasms.

Luckily for me, my delay has not been my denial lol. I used my early 30’s to create a metric beyond “married=good/unmarried=bad” when it came to navigating how I functioned as a sexual person. I developed my sexual ethic through conversations with friends, prayer, intuitive knowing, and in consultation with life experiences because a truth I know for myself is that I need an ethic about my #poontivities regardless of if I’m practicing celibacy, #schoonchin here and there and everywhere, or if I’m in a relationship (thanks for the fun language Danyelle.#UnfitChristian).

For now, Ms. Kitty and I have settled on the follow ethic for #poontivities.

Keep it consensual. Consent is baseline, like basement/bottom floor. All parties must be in agreement that we agree to engage in some touching and other grown folks things *and* that that agreement (i.e., consent) can be withdrawn at any time for any reason. No one owes anyone their body or their touch.

Keep things as safe as desired or needed. Take whatever precautions all parties need or desire in order to be as close to safe as possible given the inherent vulnerability of #poontivities and protected against undesired pregnancy and diagnosis.

Body & sex positive. I’m a fat-bodied, Black woman with a hard fought and healthy sense of self. I had to learn to love myself and value myself as a fat-bodied Black woman in a society that values me for little to nothing at all. Affirmation is a practice that applies in all areas of my life, including this bawdy and the life and times of Ms. Kitty. That I would consider sharing my body and the pleasures thereof with someone is an honor for them. Therefore, this body is only shared with people who can honor, affirm, take joy in, and appreciate her. If you can’t appreciate this boom boom ka-pow, then you can’t have access to this boom boom ka-pow. Church, say amen.

Pleasurable. Sexual intimacy can be a lot of things, and what it should be, for me (and all parties), is pleasurable. Said another way, all parties should experience pleasure, including me. I have zero incentive to share my body with anyone who does not provide me pleasure. Pleasure can include orgasms, joy, excitement, agreed upon pain, and whatever else brings my partner(s) and I consensual, safe(r) pleasure. Please, and thank you.

Do as little to no harm as possible. Off top, I am not my best self when I don’t understand what’s happening or if I feel (intuitively) that I’ve been wronged. Because of that knowledge, I strive to be emotionally intelligent and honest in my dealings with folks when it comes to sharing bodies and experiences and ask for reciprocity on that front. (e.g., If I know that someone is feeling me [connection] but all I want is a good time [carnality], then I have need to reconsider #poontivities with them). Miscommunication(s) happen, and in those instances, the goal is for harms to be acknowledged and reconciled, if possible. I appreciate a good time, but I appreciate a good ethic even more.

Honor relationship agreement(s). This one is connected to not causing harm, but needed its own artiuclation. Regardless of relationship type (poly, monogamous, open, etc.), engagements should respect the agreed upon boundaries and process my parter(s) and I have relating to intimacy (i.e., who and how we can engage people beyond our relationship; e.g., We monogamous? It’s just us. We poly? We us and some more). If I’m single and living my best life, this means that I shouldn’t knowingly engaging folks who have partners who believe that their partners are practicing monogamy. In trying to do no harm, I shouldn’t be complicit in another person’s potential heartache.

Reconcile it with faith/spiritual/religious belief and practice Align your practice with your beliefs and traditions. I’m a christian who rejects any inherent shame, guilt, or sinfulness of sexuality and sex because I sincerely believe that God is concerned with how we engage folks in our sexual practice(s). I wholeheartedly believe that God cares about if we are we honest, caring, and doing as little harm to no harm as possible in our sexual intimacies with folks.

As we all (continue to) work through our own ethics around #poontivities, remember that our journeys are our own and that (optimally) we have people who support us as we craft and refine our ethical commitments. I, like Sway, don’t have all the answers, but I share what I’ve grown to know for myself in an attempt to help folks think through how we’re engaging ourselves and other folks in #poontivities.

To fun, to play, to connection, to self love, to affirming touch, to touch that turns us on, to touch that turns us out, to being worn all the way out, to being re-energized, to moments that feel like magic, to learning more about our likes and loves, to tension released, to feeling like a brand new person, to knowing another and ourself more deeply, to moments of ecstasy, to doing it without the fear of danger or harm, to doing it how we like it… to a sexual ethic that causes little to no harm and yields affirmation and pleasure.

New Year, New Me: Reflections on My Resolutions

2019 is well underway!  If you’re like me, you look forward to the new year.  After the rest and relaxation that comes with the holidays, the new year provides the opportunity for renewal.  With that comes the time to make resolutions.  You either want to begin a new habit, set a new goal or finally release whatever has been weighing you down.  I’m no stranger to setting resolutions in January and realizing in December I’ve made little to no progress.

The past couple of years have been a rollercoaster for me mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I gave birth to my son, experienced unemployment due to a layoff, and underemployment.  I was so focused on my family and put myself and everything I needed second.  As 2018 came to an end, I realized I lost my sense of self and wanted to become reacquainted with parts of me I lost.  I declared 2019 would be the year I focused on self-care in several facets of my life.  As Audre Lorde stated, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”  (Lorde, 1988).  I’ve accepted that self-care is not selfish, but necessary to sustain myself in all facets of my life.

The first thing I did was write down the areas of my life that I wanted to focus on in 2019.  The areas that could use the most attention for self-care: family and health.  I then thought of words and phrases that would guide me through the year.  Several came to mind, however two resonated with me: consistency and courage.  I want to be a different person on December 31st than I was on January 1st.  The only way for this to happen is through consistent action and the courage to do what is necessary to achieve my goals.    

I have two goals for 2019 that are centered on my family: finding friends who are mothers and monthly date night with my husband.  As I navigate motherhood, I realize how important it is to have friends who are mothers, especially mothers who have children the same age as my son.  I absolutely cherish the friendships I have with the woman in my life.  However, there is something to be said about having a supportive group of mothers who can reaffirm me, as motherhood is a role I have to learn as I go.  There is no handbook to raising children.  I have joined a virtual mom’s group where I can ask questions, find resources, and receive support from other mothers.  Like myself, my husband has an unpredictable schedule.  As an entrepreneur, he makes himself available seven days a week and countless hours during the day.  It’s very seldom we have time to spend with one another.  Because of this, we have to be intentional about scheduling time to reconnect as husband and wife.  While we haven’t had our date night for January, we have remained committed to one of our favorite past times- watching all of the Oscar nominated movies, including Black Panther for the umpteenth time #wakandaforevereva.    

Another resolution for 2019 is to focus on my health.  Like most people, I want to lose weight by working out and healthy eating.  My health has been an afterthought the past couple of years.  Going through the fast food drive thru was more convenient than grocery shopping.  Working out before the break of dawn or after I put in a full day’s work was not an option.  Prior to having my son, I was a runner.  In fact, I was 10 weeks pregnant when I ran my first (and last) marathon.  Since then, I have had a hard time fitting running back into my lifestyle.  Training for a race is like a part-time job.  There is a training schedule you must maintain to complete a race successfully and injury free. 

So, far this year, I have managed to workout 3-4 times a week and I have scheduled time with a personal trainer twice a week.  I have to wake up at 4:30am to do it, but it’s a sacrifice I can manage in order to reach my goal.  I have also managed to meal prep a few meals each week.  Right now, I prepare 2-3 meals for dinner for my family.  My husband and I have unpredictable schedules.  Sometimes we’re not home until 7:00pm.  Having dinner already prepared allows more time to spend with our son and have a healthy dinner. As for running, my feet have yet to hit the pavement. I’m still included in my running groups Group Chat. My running group’s leader texts me to check on me, understanding the challenges I’m having working running into my schedule.

I personally believe 2019 is off to a great start.  I’ve identified the goals I want to reach and what I need to do to achieve them.  I’ve also learned to allow myself grace when I’d rather sleep in than go work out or eat a chicken biscuit instead of the green smoothie my husband made for me. By consistently making changes and having the courage to get up when I miss a target, I know that I’ll accomplish the difference I set for myself by December 2019.