Facts and Opinions

Am I Next?: How many more will go through what Uyinene went through?

TRIGGER WARNING:

I’ve been logged out of social media for a little bit so I was a little out of the loop on some things that have happened recently. Going through the normal bar bathroom selfies, inspirational quotes, and random rants, one story made me furious. It made me grow angry with each word that I read. I’m tired. I’m tired of seeing stories like this. I’m tired of slowly being desensitized by these stories because they happen so often. I’m tired of being fearful for the people that I know. I’m tired of begging my friends to put their locations on so I can check and make sure they’re where they are supposed to be going. I’m tired of carrying around mace because I don’t know if some lunatic is going to randomly feel enticed to tackle me to the ground and assault me. I had thought of carrying around a taser, but they aren’t legal in Illinois. I do plan to carry a pocket knife with me at some point. I shouldn’t have to do that! No one should have to do that! I should be able to get to my destination safely with no interference. Anyways, I could get stuck on this topic for days, but I’m going to get on to the point of this article.

Uyinene Mrwetyana. Uyinene; a South African name meaning gift of God. Reading about her I got a chance to get a glimpse of her personality. She seemed intelligent, warm, and widely loved. Her skin was so radiant and that smile…her smile was captivating. She was just nineteen years old, making strides and efforts towards living her dream. She attended the University of Cape Town. She was a film student. Who knows, we could’ve seen one of her films on the big screen one day. Well, that won’t happen. We may never get to see her creativity in motion. We may never get to see her artistry. Uyinene Mrwetyana was raped and killed by being hit in the head with a scale by 42 year old Luyanda Botha (allegedly) inside a post office. She went there to get a package, and the man told her to come back later. She was said to be missing August 30th. That’s when he brutally attacked her. I was scrolling through her Instagram and nearly cried. She was beautiful…my God she was so beautiful. The man’s trial is set for November 5th according to The South African. He seemed to have no remorse in regards to what he did. I really hope he rots in prison.

The hashtag #AmINextProtest has been trending. People carry signs through the streets of South Africa pleading with people to stop killing their peers and loved ones. South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, addressed the nation Thursday, admitting that there is an uproar of sexual violence against women. He proposed numerous ideas to try and combat this issue. Will these proposals be enough though? Words are just words…they are nothing without action.

Women in South Africa are at risk for being attacked. According to Al Jazeera, a woman is murdered every three hours. Rape is just as rampant. In a 1994 journal by S. Armstrong, it goes into how rape is the assertion of male power. Under apartheid, rape of white women was the only rape that mattered; they found black women rape to just be apart of the struggle. In the journal, it also states that one out of four women have been sexually assaulted before the age of fourteen. These numbers are on the rise…more and more women are going through this treachery.

Will it be me? Will I be the next one to die? Will a situation like this be my fateful demise? Will it be my best friend’s? My Mother’s? My aunt’s? My future daughter’s? I couldn’t fathom sitting at home waiting for my baby girl to come home…only to have the police approach me, telling me that she’s been bludgeoned and raped to death. So many people are apart of the “sexual assault club” and frankly, I don’t want any new members. I think back to my experience, and I thank the Lord that I am still alive, because I didn’t have to be. I’m starting to lose faith in humanity. I’m thinking that there will never be change. And if there is, things will get a lot worse before it gets better.

Uyinene could’ve been me. It could’ve been anyone. So…who’s next?

Standard
Facts and Opinions

Back to the Basics

Hello to that one person who may be reading my blog. I really haven’t been on it too much. I guess there really is no explanation as to why. School could be one. School has been kicking my butt ever since kindergarten, but this last semester of my junior year of college is making me wonder why I didn’t drop out yet. It could be my wavering time management. I think honestly it has to do with laziness. But the summer is nigh, and I feel like I will have more energy, as well as more creativity throughout the warmer months. I plan to write more poetry, speak about more issues that are not only affecting me but others, and most importantly have fun with blogging. So expect to see more posts from me in the months to come!

Peace and blessings 🕊❤️

Standard
Journaling, Uncategorized

Three Podcasts for the Black Girl’s Soul

The internet can be a marvelous and intriguing place. The endless opportunities to be connected to one another bring about the sharing of different experiences, stories, and information; enlightening ourselves about the world around us and the people inhabiting it. There are so many modes of sharing on the world-wide web; video, print, and audio. It gives people who crave to express creativity an outlet.
Through different avenues of media, I was able to educate myself on the perils that come with mental health neglect, as well as how many people in the African diaspora fall victim to not getting the help that they deserve. I’ve read psychology journals about black mental health and read novels about one’s journey to find themselves and better their thinking. I’ve scoured the internet and watched countless YouTube videos on young women and men sharing their experiences with mental health and professionals trying to give their expertise on how to heal deep wounds. However, I never really ventured into media that was solely audio.
I hadn’t started getting into podcasts until earlier this year. A friend of mine and I were having one of our weekly conversations about working through certain issues. Although she is around the same age as me, I see her as a mentor of some sort. Our emotions sync up like a menstrual cycle (sorry for the comparison). We will feel the exact same thing around the exact same time. Past trauma? If I’m thinking it, she’s thinking it as well. Ex-boyfriend trouble? There she is feeling the same pain. As we sat and sipped hot chocolate, she asked me how I was doing. With some people if I’m asked the same question, I’ll just lie and say, “oh yeah, I’m good.” With this girl, I am able to tell her how I’m really feeling, and nine times out of ten, she’s felt the same way at some point. I was pouring out my heart to her, talking about all the feelings that were trapped in my head waiting to exhale. She told me that I needed some peace of mind; that sometimes it was okay to sit down, breathe, and listen. She then mentioned these podcasts that she had started listening to earlier in the week that had really given her food for thought.
Therapy for Black Girls
This podcast is hosted by Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D. She’s a licensed psychologist and breakup coach. The fact that she is a black woman in the psychological field promotes representation in this community. There are black psychologists, and there are black women in the field. The first podcast I listened to of hers was on mindfulness. All of her topics are about a wide array of topics such as “slaying” your anxiety, setting boundaries, and healing intergenerational trauma. With each episode, I took out a pen and paper wrote down what really stood out to me. In the mindfulness episode, she was talking with Shawna Murray-Browne, a LCSWC, about her journey to mindfulness and how she teaches others about it as well. As a healing justice consultant and mind-body medicine practitioner, she is the best person to ask when trying to get some peace of mind. One thing that she said really resonated with me and my situation, and I’m pretty sure it would spark a nerve in anyone who listened. It was a powerful statement, yet so simple: focus on what you can change. Whew! That hit me like a ton of bricks. That made me re-evaluate the importance of my thoughts. She was saying how stress destroys the body and destroys are health, and I am pretty sure the thoughts that I was allowing to infiltrate my brain were slowly killing me. I need to listen to that one again, because the mind is a stubborn instrument. Another one that I enjoyed was her one on setting boundaries. Implementing the popular HBO show Insecure into her lesson caught my attention, and helped me envision a better mental picture because I love the show Insecure, and sometimes it’s hard to picture me in certain scenarios. Setting boundaries is something everyone could probably improve, including myself. Put yourself first is basically the point that she was making, as well as not going back on your word. Listening to this podcast has really put some of my problems into perspective. I have more power than I think. Healing starts with yourself. It starts with how you think. The mind is so powerful…I tend to forget that.
2. Inner Hoe Uprising
I love this podcast so much! It is so real, raw and unfiltered. Four black women talk about themselves, the news that they have seen, and their love lives. Sometimes it’s just a discussion amongst themselves, and other times they interview people who are experts in whatever topic that they’re talking about. This podcast is one of the most open podcasts I’ve heard. They are not shy when it comes to expressing sexuality. They do not shame anyone for the sexual practices that they enjoy (unless they are unethical). It gives four different perspectives about love and lust. They educate others on sex and sex workers, as well as reasons why we enjoy certain things that we do. This is the only podcast that I found on my own, and I am so glad I did. They say what people think, but are too bashful to speak out loud. As black women, I feel there are certain things that the community is taboo to talk about, and sex is definitely one of them. When women talk about sex in general, it is taken as a negative. The stereotype when it comes to sex and black people is that we are over-sexual, so talking about sex in the black community may seem taboo. Talking about sex, sexuality, and sexual behavior is normal and very healthy.
3. Shades of the Soul Meditation Series
After a poem, a quote, and daily mediation, I feel at peace and at ease. Her voice is therapy within itself. In Give thanks for the blessings, she almost made me cry with the words that she cast into the atmosphere. This podcast is perfect to do early in the morning as the sun just comes up (or whenever you decide to get out of bed). Faith Hunter’s demeanor is so calm and positive. In the most recent episode that I listened to, it detailed what I really needed to tackle in my daily life: my trauma is not my life. The unfortunate circumstances that I have gone through are not my sole defining factor. There is so much more to me. In this case, I was able to let my thoughts run wild and free. At first, some of them were scary and negative, but the more I listened to the podcast and meditated on her words, those thoughts slowly melted away. They were replaced with positive affirmations.
After listening to these podcasts for a few weeks, I came back together with my friend and discussed what I learned from them. Comparing notes and pinpointing lessons that we learned throughout the shows let me know that there is strength in numbers. Knowing that there are other people out there who have gone through what I’ve gone through, made it out alive, and are helping others get over their pain make me hopeful for the future. One day, I hope to be able to do the same

Standard
Journaling, Uncategorized

Junior Year….

Warning: Slightly triggering, and incredibly long

In the middle of the road a few houses, my Dad hits the breaks with a vengeance, jolting him and everyone else in the car with him forward.

“Now you have to not only be truthful with me, but with yourself.” He had noticed me in his rear view mirror. I was holding my jaw, staring into the pattern of the passenger’s seat silently crying; but these tears were powerful. They came out of nowhere, like when you witness the first kiss at a wedding. They are unexpected, but significant. These tears had meaning. These tears represented fear. They represented embarrassment. They represented past mistakes I wish I hadn’t made. They represented many a struggle. But, I assured him that it was because of my butchered hair cut that I had no idea what to do with. It looked absolutely atrocious. I smoothed out the bandana on my head that would be my constant companion for the months to come and sat back calmly as the car was put back in drive and we headed on our way.

A few days prior I had a great decision to make: venture back to school and face my fears or stay at home and ponder what to do during the Fall semester. I am not going to lie to anyone: college is not easy. At all! Nowhere close to being that way. There’s a lot of stress, and pain, and confusion, and all those other things. Don’t get me started on the weight gain. Dominos was my best friend my second semester my freshman year, and so on. I was “this” close to owning a six pack I kid you not, but I became too reliable on my friend, and I sport a nice pouch instead. Anyways, (I go on tangents regularly) college is interesting to say the least. The things that I expected to happen in college did happen, you know? Making friends? Check. Losing some of them…..check. Parties? Probably more than I should have gone to. Heartbreaks? I don’t want to talk about it. Overall however, besides those setbacks, everything would be pretty okay. I would overcome these challenges and laugh at them as I stare each one in the face. Well, it was like that…up until my second semester my freshman year.

I had recently completed my first semester. My grades were fairly good. I had met new people and I was enjoying myself immensely. From the beginning of the second semester on, my whole life just changed. It wasn’t for the better; it was far from it. Now, I won’t say for the worst either. It just changed. Bare with me. I know things are getting a little lengthy.

It started with a party. I went to one like most college students do. I knew the workload was going to kick my ass later on in the year, one party wouldn’t hurt. I don’t want to get into detail, but I was the victim in a non consensual sexual act. I feel more comfortable saying it that way; sounds less menacing. I don’t like saying victim either, I don’t want to sound like I’m asking for sympathy. I still have trouble with the whole ordeal; processing it and understanding everything. I have forgiven the other person, for I still believe he knew he made a mistake and was remorseful. I’m not saying do this in every case, but it gives me serenity. After this point, I started my downward spiral. I really didn’t know it at the time. I remember coming home and laughing about the situation the night it happened, brushing off the severity. To be quite frank, I still don’t really take it seriously. I hear other people and their stories and how gruesome it may be, and I instantly think of how whiny I sound. But, no one should compare a circumstance; if it hurt you it hurt you. Point. Blank. Period.

I became a mess. I grew this sense of not caring about anything. I cared about nothing. I didn’t care about school. My grades were awful. I didn’t care about people’s perceptions of me. I didn’t care about myself. I just didn’t care. I hated everything about myself. As a child I was this way. I was very self conscious about many things. That was very debilitating, considering that I thought I had cured that part of me. It’s like building a house of cards, only to have a strong gust of wind knock them over as soon as you’re finished. I nitpicked over my body, my skin started to break out more, and my weight started to drop. I would go days without eating, always no more than three. Yes, I had a lot downfalls, but one of them was my morals. When I said I didn’t care, I literally mean I didn’t care. I’m being relatively honest. It’s embarrassing, but I did it so….can’t turn back now! I used to be a person who use to value my virginity. Before I go any further, I just want to state that I think women should do whatever the hell they want to do. Lose your virginity (I like the term sexual debut), keep it, doesn’t matter. Do what you want and always stay safe. I never really had an interest in having sex. I wanted to wait until marriage until I first had sex, or at least with someone that I had been with for a while. I envisioned my first time being romantic; champagne, satin sheets, and rose petals, that type of stuff. Well it was none of that. It was in a dark dorm room. The guy smelled like weed. There was no champagne. I think he had Gatorade though. I slept with more people than I ever thought I would sleep with in my lifetime. It’s not an astronomical number, but it still shocks me. I feel like I was trying to fill some void. I wanted to feel wanted, you know? I felt lost. I felt like being some guys “hit it and quit it” was the only thing I was worth at that time. It was a very dark time. A second “incident” would take place, but it would not involve intercourse, just me fighting the guy off for about seven minutes as he is prying my legs open, trying to get me to have sex with him. Like the first incident, I didn’t take it that seriously, but now I realize it was wrong of him. A third one came about a month or so later. I froze up that was the main thing. He genuinely did not know how uncomfortable I was, so I don’t put any blame on him for that. It was just an unfortunate event. I’ve made many mistakes during this time, and as well as getting hurt, I hurt people too. I would rather get hurt than hurt other people. I just feel guilty. I don’t feel like me anymore.

Fast forward a few months, I’m laying in a hospital with an IV in my arm. I had just attempted suicide, and failed as you can see. I’m not typing this from the grave. I had let a friend go because I thought I was hurting him. He became entangled in my drama, and I don’t want anyone’s pain to be caused by me. Should I have given more of a warning? Probably, but it was the right thing to do. That sent me over the edge. It was like every little thing I had done was wrong. I couldn’t take it. That was a few months ago. All that happened within a year.

I was struggling. Thinking about all of that and coming back to the place where all of that happened frightened me. It brought back all of those memories. It makes me fear what could happen. However, I can’t let that paralyze me. I can’t let fear cripple me. I refuse to let all of those setbacks effect my life and what I want to do with it. Of course I’m not going to just try and begin my healing cold turkey. No I go to therapy. I take time to myself. I don’t rush things. I know that things won’t change over night. I know that it will take a while to fully recover from thing that happened back then, and the things that I did because of them. I have to continue. I will learn many things a long the way. I will have hardships, I will be in pain. Somedays I’ll want to go back to my old ways. But I am going to keep moving forward. I could have told my Dad to turn the car around. We would have unpacked the car, unpacked my belongings, and sat in my bed imagining how this school year would have turned out. By the grace of God go I (I think that’s the scripture). I don’t know what will happen. I hope to be able to finish the rest of the semester, but I also know not to push myself too hard. I’m nervous to see how this year will go, but I have faith. That’s all I have for myself right now. I guess there really wasn’t much of a reason for this. Maybe it was a healing for me. I plan to detail more about what I learn throughout this year. I hope to continue on my journey through self love and acceptance.

Standard