We Are One

Christmas Eve is my great grandmother’s birthday. She had five children and would make breakfast for her children in the morning. Her kids and family would be busy during the day. Quite often, they did not get a chance to eat the breakfast until the evening (at least that’s the story that was told to me). All my life, the tradition has been that my family would get together on the evening of Christmas Eve and eat breakfast. People are assigned foods to bring/cook and we just enjoy fellowship with one another. Over time, however, the family tradition has changed…

My name is Bridgette. My name is a tribute to my grandmother’s maiden name “Bridges”. She was one of five, and all but one of them have passed on. Those people were the heads of our family units and when my great aunt passed during the holiday season in 2016, we as a family had to rethink a lot.

What happened to us?

Why don’t we spend enough time?

Why aren’t we coming out to the events we traditionally have?

My cousin Carlton (or Cowboy or Orrustus or insert other family nicknames we have for him) put a stop to the “what ifs'” and “why’s'” over the summer and coordinated a family reunion for us during Mother’s Day weekend. The picture you see above is the family shot. It felt really good to see us together– laughing and dancing and playing cards. Things started to feel better. I remember telling Cowboy that I can’t wait to visit him in Miami since I have never been before. He told me anytime I wanted to visit, his place was open. I never took up the offer.

October 2018, my cousin, Cowboy, transitioned.

The questions. The “why’s”. The “what if’s”. The “I should haves came to play”. Cowboy was older than me and we didn’t have the closest relationship, but the impact he had on our family was so strong and deep. Our family continues to mourn heavily his physical absence. We are still trying to figure it out.  I know I am trying to be more intentional about communicating with my cousins. We are calling more. We are making time to try and seeing one another more frequently. We are trying to celebrate each other in small and big ways. I recognize it, and I am praying we continue it.

Christmas Eve came and brought some laughter into our lives and love in our spirits. My aunt texted everyone and instead of just eating, we also made our annual breakfast a game night as well. We danced and laughed. I introduced the family to For the Culture (the black version of Heads Up). We had such a good night of fellowship.

So, basically the story goes my great grandmother decided to change up her birthday just so that she can be around her family. I often wonder if she knew that the tradition would continue years after she passed. Did she think of how much her grandchildren and great grandchildren would cherish this day because of the feeling it gives them?

As the night settled, we agreed that we need to make game nights happen more. We need to schedule bowling outings. I plan to keep my word and take them up on that offer.

We are One.

#FlyHighCowboy

The List

Have you written down the list?

You know which one I am talking about. The list of things you want in a mate.

The wish list of romance. The list of hopes and dreams of love.

I haven’t written that list.

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A few weeks ago I was talking with Dr. Joan about love and whatnot and she challenged me to really write that list out. And here we are weeks later… I still haven’t written the list.

Why?

What is so scary about writing down the things I want and desire and have thought about for a while? I know Brittany is going to kill me for not being on time with my deadline. But I have literally been frozen trying to write this… The struggle is REALLLLLLLLLLL.

Am I scared to write this down and be disappointed that it won’t come to light?

Are the things on my list too lofty? Am I wanting too much? This list is not about salary or credit score or height, but truly about how I want my interactions to be with a partner. Last month I wrote about intimacy and that is easy for me. To be poetic and metaphorical, but concrete, letting it out plain…welllll

So here is this list…. It is not fully a poem. It is just something I need to get out. Shoutout to Dr. Joan for pushing me and Brittany for the gentle nudge to finish. I am writing this list as a manifestation of what is to come. I am writing this list as an affirmation of what I deserve. I wrote this list to face the fear and embrace that it can happen. It will happen. Here’s to love:

  1. I want to laugh. Brother make my stomach hurt from laughing so hard at the nonsense. Let’s make corny jokes that only we know and
  2. I want to pray with you and for you and you pray for me. There is intimacy in knowing that God is a provider for all of our desires and you want that for my life.
  3. I want to dream together. Let’s talk about our passions and how we can help one another accomplish them.
  4. I want to question together. The world, the Bible, all the isms, all the problematics.
  5. I want to have great sex. Like I think about it afterward and gets chills sex. Like you want to please me before yourself sex. Like we try out all the kinky sex. Like we can’t get enough of each other… SEX.
  6. I want someone who wants to travel and experiences new places.
  7. I want someone who appreciates the arts. You don’t have to be an artist (although that would be nice) but appreciate it so we can go to concerts and open mic nights and museums and ish together.
  8. I want transparency. I want us to share and be vulnerable. Even if it is uncomfortable. I want to tear down masculinity with our vulnerability.
  9. I want someone who looooovvvesss to listen to music. Like to the point we can share new music with each other. (Because that’s foreplay duh)
  10. I want someone who is good with money (in terms of budgeting and planning so we can do all the stuff I want to do) I can learn from someone else.
  11. I want someone who is patient. Because I can be stubborn and I can snore. So your patience in those two things is greatly appreciated.
  12. I want someone who challenges me and inspires me to be better. Someone who wants to be in my corner cheering me on. And of course, I would be doing the same.
  13. I want someone who can be social. I am involved in a lot and I be doing a lot. LOL. But if we go to an event, you can mix with folks. If we are with my family, you can mix in with them. (I got a lot of cousins)
  14. I want someone who cares about people. Someone who understands that liberation is in love and daily we should strive towards loving more and more.

To my future love: With this list, I will match you with all these and more. I am open to whatever more you bring outside of this list as well. I hope that we have a love that complements the badass people we already are and that with our love we make the world better.  -BCB

“You Are Built For This”: Countering Imposter Syndrome

Getting into a doctoral program was the most exciting part of my educational journey because there was a time when I felt that it was an unobtainable goal. After all, I was kicked out of school due to poor grades, and the president of the institution told me I wasn’t “college material” and that I should pick up a trade.Although potentially quite lucrative, picking up a trade would not have worked for me because nothing in trade school reflected my passion. I wanted to work in a field where I could make a difference in the lives of our youth with a specific focus on African American students who looked like me. I wanted to work with the ones that people passed off because they were “rough” and “not scholars”. I had a particular passion for the ones who came from neighborhoods like mine where the odds were against them before they were even given a chance to show what they’re made of. It’s my mission to change the narrative.

For as long as I could remember, I have always wanted to work in a field where I could make a difference in the lives of our youth–a goal that has a specific focus on African American students who looked like me. I wanted to work with the students that people passed off because they were “rough” or not seen as “scholars”. I have a particular passion, you see, for the students who come from neighborhoods like mine where the odds are stacked against them well before they were even given a chance to show the world what they’re made of. It’s my mission to change the narrative. 

I consider it my mission to change the narrative around these students because I am one.  

Wasalu Jaco and I attended the same high school:  Thornton Township High School in Harvey, IL. One of my favorite quotes he ever spoke was, “This ain’t a pen, it’s paintbrush and I intend to rearrange how they paint us”.  Perhaps you know Wasalu Jaco better by his stage name “Lupe Fiacso”, but when he penned those very lyrics, they resonated with me and have since become my mantra. 

So, I started my first week of school. I remember being so happy and excited to be on the road to Dr. Randolph, but as the weeks rolled by, I began to question if I was supposed to be there. I didn’t understand some of the words my classmates spoke, and I would, at times, ask for words to be repeated so I could write them down and look them up. The papers and writing expectations have grown longer, and there have been many times I have run out of words before reaching the page minimum.  As I have moved closer to doctoral completion, I have found myself questioning if I was built for this and began feeling like an imposter. Never mind the application process, interviews, writing sample and everything it took to get to this point; I felt I wasn’t worthy. 

So, how am I overcoming these feelings?  How can you if/when you find yourself faced with feelings like mine?

  1. Remind yourself that you are built for this. You’ve played a role in your success and there’s no way you could’ve made it this far by being an imposter.
  2. Lean on your friends, family, students, etc. There’s something energizing about how proud loved ones are of you.  My grandfather (called Hot Poppie, not Grandfather), to this day, answers the phone saying “Dr. Randolph!” whenever I talk to him, and it gives me a surge of excitement to hear how proud he is. He tells people “We have a Dr. in the family.” Loved ones (by blood or bond) will be your cheerleaders, accountability partners, and at times, will know when you need to just talk.
  3. Ask yourself what is making you feel like an imposter and write it down. There are always things we could work on to be better. For me, I noticed that I felt like an imposter because I wasn’t completing my assignments early and I had struggles. I faced it and asked members in my cohort for help and tips. Sometimes simply writing things out and taking action, if needed, can make self doubt disappear.
  4. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again, your journey is YOURS and YOURS alone! It’s so easy to be in class and start comparing yourself to the person who knocked out that 30 page paper with ease and, in turn, it makes you feel you should be done too.  Focus on you, and stay on the path to your own journey to Dr.(insert name).

Overcoming imposter syndrome is a lifelong journey–in those moments where you feel alone, remember you have me and the rest of the Cite A Sista family in your corner. Happy fall 2017 graduate students, this year is yours for the taking!

All of this winning…*Beyonce’ Voice*

Greetings all,

Today’s friendship post comes just after the 1-year anniversary of the release of Beyoncé’s iconic #Lemonade. While an exhaustive review of this body of work is beyond the scope of this post, I wanted to use Beyoncé and Serena’s friendship as a metaphor for other Black women’s friendships.

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Now, we do not know if Bey and Serena are besties in real life, but we can all hope and assume (I mean, the world’s greatest athlete AND Queen Bey? It just makes sense at this point).

Nevertheless, both women rocked the internet this year by announcing the impending arrivals of their baby bundles. Because #misogynoir is REAL, we have witnessed folks tear them both apart for bearing their growing bellies and being unapologetic Black women in public (i.e., #WhiteWomenRespond).

However, I think Bey and Serena (can) represent what happens when Black women win together in friendship, regardless of what winning may mean to you.

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Which brings me to the question for today’s post: How do you celebrate the wins of your Black girlfriends/sista-friends?

Society is here to remind us that Black women will be taunted, bullied and outright disrespected for sharing and celebrating our successes and wins. A necessary component of #BlackGirlFriendship is being able to root your girl on (think #CiteASista), especially while patriarchy and White supremacy are trying to tear her down.

So, I say to you all today and always, congratulations on all that you have achieved! Be it getting out of bed, telling someone NO, or defending your bomb dissertations (shoutout to DRS. Collier, Lacy and Anderson!!!!), I celebrate you and hope that your #SistaCircles are celebrating you, too.

Don’t (let anyone) try to…slow you…down!

Bey cheering

In #BlackGirlFriendship,

Raven

P.S. Please leave me comments with things you would like to see from this column! Also, feel free to tweet me your thoughts @brilliantblkgrl.


Did you like this piece? Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments and let us know how you feel. Have a piece you want to share of your own? Submit to CiteASista@gmail.com with a bio, headshot, and your text/ photos.

An Open Letter to Joy Lane

Our Dearest Sista Joy,

Repeat after us:

I deserve love.

I deserveD better.

This is NOT and was NOT my fault.

Say these words. Write them. Post them. Text them. Tweet them. Remember them.

We know that nothing we’re about to say will bring you immediate resolution. For that, we offer our apologies… But some of us felt compelled to ask that you remember these three sentences in the coming days, weeks, and months as you work through the series of emotions you’ve no doubt been left with. To remind you that no matter how many horrible social media messages, texts, phone calls, etc. you receive(d) saying otherwise, that you deserve(d) better and if you have no one else, you have us.

To be quite honest, as a community and a society, we have failed you…

Toxic masculinity is and remains one of the greatest threats to Black love, Black relationships, and Black joy, PERIOD.

As a collective of Black women, we know that the work of unpacking toxic masculinity in our communities are the responsibility of those who enact it. We do, however, feel that it is our responsibility as sistas to be here for you at what may pan out to be one of your darkest hours due to no fault of your own. As the rest of the U.S. populace rushes to place the blame of yesterday’s horrible crimes on someone (statistically, this person will be you) we want to remind you that you don’t owe a man you left, decided not to call, whatever–anything.

It is not your responsibility to coddle a grown man because he was emotionally and/or psychosocially unable to process that things can not and will not always go his way. It is also not your responsibility to stay in an abusive situation for the good of anyone else. If the situation was unhealthy for you, it was unhealthy for all of us.

We know there are people on a social media witch hunt to find you. We also know these people hate women. That many of them will spend half their time minimizing the impact of this man’s actions as being your fault and/or make tasteless jokes about what you gave and had to offer. Guess what? Fuck them. Period.  There’s nothing you could have done to prevent what happened.

There’s nothing you could have done to prevent what happened!!!

The incessant need to blame a crisis on someone is a coping mechanism by and from people who cannot rationalize that bad things happen to good people and that people who enact them can be callous, cold, and calculated. He was certainly the latter and all of you who’ve been victimized by him the former. For this day, for the moments that led up until this day, for the long days you’ll have beginning today, we apologize.

Our communal and national failure to address violence against women makes all of us as culpable for today’s travesty as the person who enacted them.

Remember this when you struggle to do things that once felt normal. When you rightfully question how and why this happened, remember the 650 or so words in this letter.

Remember he and only he alone is responsible for this travesty.

We know this isn’t a super “deep letter.” For one, this isn’t about that and second, we honestly don’t care about philosophizing your pain. We write this to say directly to you and to every other Joy Lane out there, that while we’ve never met you, we see you, we love you, and we support you.

You deserve love.

You deserveD better.

This is NOT and was NOT your fault.

Sincerely,

Team Cite A Sista

*** Editor’s Note ***

This letter was written exclusively by Brittany on behalf of Team Cite A Sista and Black women everywhere who bare the brunt of feeling responsible for someone else’s actions. There may be members of the team (and elsewhere) whose views do not align with those expressed here, but we doubt it.

#CiteASista Recap: Digital Sisterhood & Communities

On Wednesday, at the start of Women’s History Month, the Cite A Sista Team held our March cite-a-sista-march-2017-12017 #CiteASista chat. Over the course of the discussion, we bonded over digital communities and sisterhood by and among Black women. After spending a third of the chat on the topic at hand, the Cite A Sista Team went on to reveal several key announcements:

There is more on these announcements on the Cite A Sista Welcome Post and throughout the site. Did you catch Wednesday’s chat? Feel free to relive the moment and let us know what you thought. If you missed it, check out the storify below and drop us a comment to add your input.

Storify: #CiteASista: Digital Sisterhood(s)


We’re Social!

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Cite A Sista is available on the web as well as Instagram & Twitter.