I was sitting on the edge of my bath tub. I stared down at my knees and glanced up at the clock. Those three minutes seemed like three days. I had just taken a pregnancy test. I was going through the previous events that happened to me. I have told this story many times (if you really want to hear about it, it’s the first post that I’ve ever written on here). My first sexual experience was not consensual. Despite the person not necessarily going deep enough to consider what he did as penetrative, I was freaked out by the whole experience. My period was late, and the first thing that came to my mind was…oh shoot…I’m pregnant. I have since educated myself and now know the ins and outs of sex more so. I now realize that it would have been a tad hard for me to get pregnant. But I was eighteen, a freshman in college, and a complete and utter mess. I had a friend of mine buy a pack of pregnancy tests, and even though I told him that he didn’t need to stay to wait for the results, but he wanted to. He was a huge support system and I owe him the world for that. Three minutes were up. I said a quick prayer, and picked up the test. It came out negative. I was not expecting. When I tell you I had never praised the Lord as hard as I did that day! I ran down the stairs and told my friend the news. A difficult situation went over my head…but what if it hadn’t?
What if I was pregnant? What if this guy had gone deep enough? During the current abortion ban that’s going on, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Georgia’s governor signed something called a “Heartbeat” bill recently. This bill indicates that whenever the doctor is able to detect a heartbeat, an abortion is no longer able to be performed. Women typically don’t know their pregnant until after six weeks after conception. How fair is that? And there are no exemptions….none. Incest, rape, pre-existing conditions…none. According to a few sources, a young girl in Ohio is pregnant at eleven years old. This child…emphasis on child…was taken advantage of, and now because of something that she didn’t ask for, she may have to carry out the pregnancy to term if she stays where she is. How stupid is that? Ohio isn’t the only place that reckons that this ban is a good idea for their people. Alabama, Missouri, Ohio, and Georgia are the states that have passed this legislation to ban abortions. People have babies at the age of eighteen all the time, but having a child during those circumstances would have been a disaster. I had just gone through something quite traumatic. I had just started experiencing a real taste of independence. My college career had just started. Mentally I was not ready to bring a child into this world. I live in a state that is more so liberal leaning, so abortion is still considered a fundamental right.
Imagine if abortions became obsolete. Imagine that any person who was pregnant who didn’t want to be, whether it be health reasons, rape, or just because you slipped up, would be turned away from having an abortion. If they try to get an abortion, they will face serious legal trouble. I really don’t think that legislators are thinking about this logically. Abortion may be banned, but that does not mean that it will never happen again. Ever heard of wire hangers? That method is going to become popular again. Women will resort to going to the black market to buy drugs to induce abortions. Women will be frantically searching natural home method abortions, and wonder why they are still pregnant weeks later. There will be more babies that are put into the foster system. The foster system can be quite corrupt and mentally damaging towards the children that are suffering through it. This means more children going through neglect and abuse. What if the woman who is pregnant is trying to leave domestic violence situation? Women would probably be more likely to stay in those relationships. Not to mention the psychological turmoil it would take on these women. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts would skyrocket.
This is scary. The fact that women (and especially women of color) aren’t seemingly seen as human beings with minds of their own is surprising only because of where we are at. Women are doctors, lawyers, business owners, whatever…and they’re still seen like all they are good for is staying in the kitchen bare foot and pregnant. This is just pure hatred towards women. Old, white, cisgendered men can not tell me what to do with my body….point blank period.
This whole week has been stressful, but as a college student, what do you really expect? You’ve got homework to turn in, projects to create, course work to study, and extracurricular activities to partake in. Life…life is never set in stone. You might think you have a plan, but life has something else completely different in store, shifting your what could’ve been easy going week into a smorgasbord of chaos and confusion.
This week was one of those weeks. Of course I had the usual school work and homework assigned to me, but I had events to help assemble, work to attend, as well as just going through the psychological roller-coaster that is my emotions. I needed a break. I needed a small period of time in order to rejuvenate and come back to center.
I have just recently gotten into doing this earlier in the year. I’ve found that not only does it calm me down, but it gives me something to hope for in the future. I like to write down what I want to happen in my life down the road; my manifestations. Manifestations are events, actions, or objects that clearly show or embody something, especially a theory or abstract idea. In my case, I manifest by action. I express my dreams, goals, and aspirations through my writing. I love to write. As a child, if I was frustrated and had trouble getting my point across, I would pull out a notebook and pencil and scribble to my hearts content. It has followed me into my adulthood.
Writing isn’t the only way to bring your hopes into fruition. Some people like to verbally say them aloud. Others may enjoy meditating on their affirmations; whatever is more comfortable and more powerful for you. When I write them down, I am able to go back and re-read what I wrote and what I wanted to happen. When the manifestation actually comes true, reading over it makes it that much better! With writing, I remain focused and can actually map out a concrete way of how I would love my life to go. Since organization is something I struggle with at times, writing gives me the sense order that I need in my life (one of my manifestations is becoming more organized).
Today, I wrote out some bullet points of what I wanted to happen throughout my livelihood. Every day, I write these out. Some are persistent, while others may be written down because of something I want to happen within a smaller span of time. For instance, one of my life long goals is to win a Pulitzer one day. That is probably going to be one that I’m going to write down for a while, right? But the manifestation about the pimple I want gone off my cheek? Maybe I’ll only write that down for a few days.
Writing them down, saying them, or meditating on them every day might be tedious at first to some, but it becomes routine after awhile. If you really don’t feel like doing daily manifestations, do them at the beginning of each month! I also like to do that too. I ordered a new planner for the 2018-2019 year, and inside of it there’s a section to jot down notes. I wrote down what I want to see during the month of October. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to stay focused and remain stress free. There were a few others, but some of those are pretty personal. I felt excited to see what the rest of the month could bring!
If you believe that it can happen, and you want it to happen, do what you can to make it possible. Of course, you have to put in some effort. Manifesting only does so much. You have to actually work towards your goals too. Manifesting is only one part of the equation. It keeps you focused on what you want to accomplish. Manifestations have really made me hopeful for my life. I know I have the ability to have a bright future. If I envision what I want to happen and work towards the goal, whose to say I can’t achieve it!?
“Why are you making it a race thing?” “It’s not always about race!” “It’s all in your head.” Usually, when a person has to assure another that something isn’t about race…it is about race. We are living in a racially charged environment during this new Trump era, where two differing political opinions can create a mental detonation. Yes We Can and the presidential election of the first president of black descent in 2008 glossed over the fact that racism is still very much alive and thriving. I will say, Donald J. Trump is not my favorite person; he never will be, and I am not the fondest of people who agree with his ideologies. However, I will have to give him credit where credit is due. He exposed the racists in America! As people of color were a tad more relaxed during President Obama’s….sorry, former president Barack Obama’s presidency, they are on their pins and needles now more than ever before. I mean, out of 200 to 230 million registered voters, around 46.1% of votes went to Trump. To me, and plenty of others, that’s more than enough. That many people approve of what he believes in. That many people are against me and my basic human rights.
The black community is not a meek community. When an injustice occurs, they are right there on the front lines, giving their time, protesting the wrong doings of the government, and making it known that they will not take the disrespect that their community has endured for far too long. Being a person of color in America has it’s disadvantages, and no one can tell me otherwise. As a black woman from the city of Chicago, I am instantly seen as some ghetto, ratchet hood rat. I am seen as unintelligent and improper; un-ladylike. No, I do not sell drugs, and I do not know anyone who does. I have never met Chief Keef…no, I cannot give him your mixtape. I have not been shot at, nor have I fired a gun off myself. I don’t have sickle cell believe it or not. Those were all things that I have had to tell my non-poc counterparts. I decided to ignore it and grit my teeth, but now being older I wish I hadn’t. If I could go back to the conversation all over again, I would read them on the blatant stereotypes that conjured up as facts to depict the black race.
I was just reading about Serena Williams and her incident at the U.S Open. I watched the video, I saw what went on. Serena was mad! And rightfully so! Serena Williams is arguably one of the best athletes in the world right now. She’s confident in what she does; she knows she’s good. She has overcome a lot of adversity and ridicule, only to come out on top at the end. When she was being accused of cheating by the umpire appointed during the game, her response was warranted. I’m sure that if you were being arraigned for some type of cheating, you would not take it with a smile and a grain of salt. You’d be pissed! When Serena confronted the umpire on what he had done, now she’s seen as irate. The umpire’s call has nothing to do with her being a black woman, right? But when the majority white male tennis players curse at the umpire, throw their rackets down and spit, they’re deemed passionate and driven. Serena didn’t even do all of that! And she’s still being portrayed as this angry black woman. Soon after, Mark Knight, an Australian illustrator, drew a cartoon about the incident. A blind person could see that the comic was racist. The way he drew Serena reminded me of a Jim Crow era caricature. She looked like a mammy; jumping up and down on the tennis court with a pacifier laying next to her. Why was she so exaggerated? The umpire in the comic looked fine, and Naomi Osaka (her opponent), looked like a white woman! They basically white washed her to make Serena look like a brute. When confronted about his art, Knight claimed that it “wasn’t about race” and that “people are becoming crazy.”
That, my friends, is called gas lighting. Gas lighting is the manipulation of a person into questioning their own sanity. When it comes to the black community, in terms of racial inequality, it’s not a rarity to be questioned on how we feel or how we’re treated. When a person has a privilege, I assume it would be hard to put yourself in another person’s shoes. It may be difficult to realize that other human beings do not get the same treatment. Being seen as the “right” kind of American might come with a set of rose colored glasses. That’s one of the biggest arguments that I’ve ever been in is explaining why white privilege exists. I brought up the fact that due to stereotypes and notions that have already been established about the black community, white people are seen as better equipped than a black person. She retorted with the fact that she once lived in a trailer and struggled financially, claiming that she did not have white privilege because money was tight for her and her family at one point. White privilege knows no class. If you’re white, in America, and practically any place that has people of color, you’re alright. That was not the only time that black issues were questioned into actually existing, and I had the honor of being in the midst of it all. Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter. Remember that debate? Ignorance was exposed when more and more people began to side with ALM, saying that all lives are cherished and valued. Do I agree that they should all be cherished and valued? Yes. In this political climate, are all lives being treated that way? No. Absolutely not. I have gotten into a few verbal wars about Black Lives Matter, dispelling the myth that it is a terrorist group, and that it’s a hate organization towards other races. “If you don’t believe that all lives don’t matter, then you’re racist!” one girl said in one of my political science classes. I was shocked. This girl has also said previously that trans-gendered people were mentally ill, so I knew that we would never ever get along. BLM focuses on the issues that black people face on a day to day basis. It has never wished death upon other races of people, and if people within the movement have, then they are not true BLM followers. They want equality, not superiority.
Another instance that happened to me was during my freshman year of college. I was apart of my college choir. Attending a PWI (predominantly white institution), it’s not odd to be the only black person in the class, or one of the token few. It was me and four other black people in the choir. One of the pieces that we were given was titled, Death Is Gonna Lay Its Cold Icy Hands On Me. The fact that a chorus of 85% white people is singing a Negro spiritual irked me very much so, but the fact that they completely disregarded what the song is about was icing on the cake. One of the directors stated that he wanted us to sound “sexy” as we sang about slaves being afraid that they would die fleeing to freedom. That was terribly insensitive of them. One of the other black girls in the group began to cry because it affected her so much. My friend and I approached the director about it, and how continuing to sing the song was not a good idea. He instantly tried to relate it to himself, saying that he was made fun of as a child because he was Catholic. Nice try, but you can hide a religion, it’s a bit harder to hide your race. I am not saying that you should hide your religion, but it would be easier for me to hide the fact that I’m a Christian than hide the fact that I’m black. Our plight fell on deaf ears. On the day of the concert, my and I closed our books and refused to sing in protest.
Those are just a few times that I came in contact with gas lighting, and I’ll probably come in contact with it. My Health Matters writer Dennis R. Upkins gave a few more examples of gas lighting that he’s heard. “The reality is whenever you’re a person of color speaking out against racism and white supremacy, it’s a safe bet that you will be on the receiving end of gaslighting” says Upkins. And I completely agree with him. It’s funny how non-poc people think that they know people of color better than people of color know themselves, huh?
Gas lighting is being told that you’re being rude when telling a white person that you don’t want them touching your box braids that are still sore. Gas lighting is saying that white people get killed by police more often that black people, when there are less black people in America, and their percentage of police brutality deaths are a larger population. Gas lighting is saying that Michael Brown being gunned down in the middle of the street was justifiable because he was a big, menacing looking guy. Gas lighting is neoliberal multiculturalism. It’s thinking that black people are complaining and not putting effort into the things that they do. Gas lighting is all around us. Stay strong and stay aware…and no….YOU ARE NOT CRAZY!
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.