Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad by Betty Deramus truly illustrates that love conquerors all. Even is a despicable system such as Slavery, black people were able to find hope in love, marriage, and freedom.
You can purchase this book recommendation here: https://kit.co/Lifestylebyky/books-by-ky
Quarantine during the month of June proved that what I thought was bad could get worst. The month began with a desire that I could not shake, to bake…so I did. I baked red velvet cupcakes with buttercream icing. I remember baking in the midst of listening to the escalation of protests across the country on CNN. Baking was meant to calm my nerves and even distract me. I couldn’t answer another text from non-black friends, asking for resources. I could not stand to see people label the protestors as thugs. I could not fathom that Breonna Taylor’s murderers were still free and I could not process the death of Elijah McClain in Aurora, CO. The fact that he had to defend his humanity while being murdered by police for “walking while black” is heart-wrenching, proving that the current state of affairs is in dire need of disruption. I was angry, hurt, and exhausted, so baking was my escape. The cupcakes came out delicious.
I work in Diversity and Inclusion, so this month has been extra intense. Sending major prayers to all of the D&I professionals out there. The spotlight and pressure is on us and it can be very overwhelming but keep pushing, you got this! It’s bigger than us and this is the time we’ve been preparing for; being a change agent comes with a lot of responsibility but it’s so worth it at the end of the day.
Things went from bad to worst on June 7, 2020. My dog, Charlie, the love of my life, passed away suddenly on that day and I have been battling with grief and depression ever since. I am taking this really hard and I am struggling. The void of him no longer being here is so big, nothing seems to be able to fill it. He was so loved. And he showed us, unconditional love. There were so many plans we had for him and now, he’s gone. Pray for me and my family because we are not okay.
On a brighter note, about half-way through the month, I was able to post some new content on my YouTube channel and get creative with my writing. I am still on my hair and skin journey, which are both a work in progress but I have faith. Also, my TV journey is going strong.
Happy Pride Month!!!!!!!I discovered POSE, which is my new favorite show. It allowed me to go down a rabbit hole of ballroom culture culminating with the Paris is Burning documentary. So much of pop-culture is appropriated from the LGBTQ community. I also watched an amazing documentary on Netflix called Disclosure about the portrayal of the transgender community in media. There are black trans lives that are being murdered at alarming rates. I am proud of our movement for making space for All Black Lives because they matter. Check out the other shows I watched this month:
7 PM is one of the few things during this quarantine that gives me joy. I appreciate that every day at that time, my neighborhood gathers together to ring bells, clap, bang, and make a loud noise in celebration for our essential workers. It’s actually something I look forward to and a reminder that we are all in this together.
Thank you essential workers!
Thank you protestors!
Yall are the real MVPs.
The only thing that gives me comfort in your sudden passing is that I know you knew how much I loved you and I knew how much you loved me. You showed me unconditional love. You showed me reciprocal love. You mended broken relationships in our family. People who didn’t talk, talked because of you. I loved you more than you would ever know. I loved your kisses. I loved how smart you were. I loved how much affection you showed. I loved how protective you were. I loved your discernment. I loved how much you trusted me. You were the most beautiful dog. Your fur, when grown out, made you resemble simba. Your ears were like butterfly wings. You were special. We were not dog people at all but you changed us instantly. You were bougie, your walk was confident. You were even a little shady and who doesn’t love a shady dog? I loved catching you stare lovingly at me. I loved when you turned on your back for a tummy rub. I loved your puppy dog eyes when you wanted some of my food and the way you held your foot up in anticipation of it. I loved that we had a secret bond/connection that no one could break. I was protective over you. I sometimes spoiled you. Whatever you wanted, I was giving it to you. You spoiled me too. All I would say is “gimmie kisses” and you would give me all the sweet kisses in the world. In the Bible 7 is the year of completion and on June 7 at just 7 years old you went on to be with the lord. I pray to be reunited with you again, one day. My dream last week told me it would happen but I didn’t want to believe it. Although I would kill for 7 more years with you, I am comforted that you are at peace. Your coughing was progressively getting worst and pained my heart because there was nothing I could do for your heart. The meds were not working. This pain, of losing a dog, I wish on no one. I’ve screamed and cried out to you in hopes you would return back to life when I saw you in the hospital. I’ve cried so much I’ve made myself sick but you wouldn’t want that. I love you and am obsessed with you as I always told you. Charlie you were a blessing! Thank you for the purpose your life have served.
Part 3 of my career journey is finally a look into how I broke into media after five years. Two years after that I was promoted into a management role. It’s been a long journey, but the best part is, I am just getting started. Check out the final part of my career journey and how Mara Brock Akil sharing her own professional story pushed me into the industry of my dreams, but not without first humbling myself during the process.
PASSIONS. I spent a lot of years during my career journey figuring out where I fit. I experimented with everything! I traveled, visited museums, directed and produced a talk show called Reserved, worked for TravelNoire, created lifestyle and travel blogs, applied to law school, got rejected from law school, you name it, I did it. What I didn’t know at the time, all of my experiences were shaping me into the career professional that I always dreamed of being and ultimately would help me land a job in the industry of my dreams. A lot of people frown upon working for free or following passions, but I am the number 1 advocate for this because it ultimately leads you to your purpose.
For someone who used to struggle reading the Bible, this NLT Illustrated Bible by Tyndale priced at $35 is a real treat and makes me hungry to read the word. The Bible has illustrations, timelines, maps, historical context to guide you and commentary bullets. This is great for anyone! The baby Christians, the non-Christians wanting to learn more, the mature Christians…literally anyone!
You can purchase this bible recommendation here: https://kit.co/Lifestylebyky/books-by-ky
I am obsessed with Pam Grier. This is actually a throwback book review from 2018 when I was first trying to start a book youtube, but never actually did it. I had just completed Pam’s memoir “Foxy: My Life in Three Acts” and it was the best book I read that year. She’s been through A LOT! Some of which pained me to read but I couldn’t put the book down. It was a true page-turner from beginning to end.
You can purchase this book recommendation here: https://kit.co/Lifestylebyky/books-by-ky
Last month, I wrote about the bright side of quarantine and looking at quarantine through a positive lens. It’s been a really great opportunity for me to get back to ME and build a routine that pours more time into me and not just work and other obligations. I am still writing and still shooting videos for my YouTube channel. I was also asked to shoot some Tribute videos for people, which have been really encouraging for me to pour into others and show how much they mean to me. I’ve been attending a new bible study, attending virtual events and I even had time to check out this YouTube show that I had no idea existed, called The Same Room (by The Shade Room)which is a talk show hosted by Stephanie Ike, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Woman Evolve in 2018. All of the episodes are captivating to me.
I am still watching TV. Below are some of the shows I’ve been watching for the month. During quarantine, I am also making the conscious decision to get serious about my finances. Having them under control is no longer enough. I want to financially thrive. More on this journey coming soon. Other journey’s I’ve embarked on is a skin and hair journey (both have been struggles for me since I can remember). I am using this time to drink my water daily, wash my hair weekly, and moisturize my skin during the day and at night. I’m so proud of myself.
However, my mental health and productivity took a turn for the worst two weeks ago when I heard about Breonna Taylor, a 26-year old black woman who was fatally shot by police in Kentucky, while serving a no-knock warrant on March 13th. It turns out that the suspect they were looking for was already in custody. Taylor was a health care worker and died senselessly at the hands of police, who was supposed to “protect” her. My heart sank. I was unproductive when I should’ve been working and quite frankly sad. I would even go so far as to say I was depressed. I looked at her face and saw me. She was a regular black girl just like me and if her family didn’t work so hard to garner social media exposure, her story would’ve been dusted under the rug like so many others. This was coupled by only a week before hearing about Ahmaud Arbery who was lynched while jogging. It is alleged that on his daily jog, he went into a construction site or “trespassed.” He didn’t take anything, just looking around, being inquisitive. You know, black people can be curious too. Two white men, father, and son, confronted Arbery and killed him. He was jogging! He tried to run away. He left the encounter DEAD. It took over 70 days for the state of Georgia to do anything. The Attorney General did not deem the crime warranted for an arrest. Just another black man dead, big deal right? That was until social media got a hold of it. Within days, the father/son murder duo’s lawyers were pleading for folks to have mercy on them; the exact words being “Don’t Rush to Judgement”… yes, this is a thing and if you know the full scope of the story then you know the irony of this too.
Some say death comes in threes. On Monday, May 25, two egregious acts of violence and white supremacy came across our TV and phone screens. The first, I saw as soon as I woke up because there was a twitter notification on my phone from Ava DuVernay. DuVernay was asked to do a documentary on White women weaponizing their color and privilege against black people. Ava replied that she didn’t think any streamer would make a 100-part documentary (HA!) I thought that would be a dope documentary but I was wondering why such a packaged question so early?
Then I saw it on the news Amy Cooper aka “Central Park Karen,” weaponized her race and privilege against bird watcher Christian Cooper. A black man. You know why this hurt? Because women like Amy are all around us. We encounter them, we work with them, they are lethal and dangerous. Emmett Till was mutilated and butchered because of a white woman like Amy Cooper. This stung deep because you don’t have to have a KKK hood to be racist, you can be a white woman in central park with a dog and be a racist and no one will ever know! WOW!
If that wasn’t enough, that same day, video footage of George Floyd came across every TV screen and social media post. We watched as Mr. Floyd screamed for his life exclaiming he could not breathe as a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, put his knee on his neck in an attempt of restraining him. He was handcuffed. He was not resisting arrest. He was dying and I had to watch repeatedly, his slow and agonizing death. I had to hear his cries. 8-minutes of someone pinning their knee on your neck, like it’s a sport. This was haunting and deflating. I am exhausted, I am hurt, I am sad, I am heartbroken. A mind-numbing migraine began when I heard the news and has not stopped. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what else I need to read or learn about my history to give me hope because I’ve learned enough to know that history is repeating itself. The only thing that is keeping me sane is my belief in God, that’s it.
What has always bothered me about racism is that black people have been painted out to be the monsters, the kidnappers, the thugs, the looters, the angry ones, the uncivilized ones, the rapists, and the murderers but the gag is, historically racist white people are the monsters, the kidnappers, the thugs, the looters, the angry ones, the uncivilized ones, the rapists and the murderers. When I think about the act of slavery and how human beings were kidnapped from their countries, stripped from families, a whole culture lost, just to come on a boat and be packaged like sardines, murdered and raped during the middle passage, sold off on an auction block and chained like animals at the hands of white people…all the while being whipped, tortured and dehumanized in a system where the workers did not profit, I am baffled. Blacks have worn the burden and taken the brunt for the atrocities of racist white people since the first slave ship landed on American soil. The other night I had to ask myself, why am I sitting here arguing with my black boyfriend about racism and when it will end, when we are not the problem, we are not racist, we are victims of racism and therefore cannot determine when it will end. When will racism end is a question that racist white people need to answer. When are white people going to argue until their blue in the face with their significant others, families, and friends about these issues of race that their ancestors caused and that they continue to perpetuate when they threaten to use their privilege to lie on a black bird watcher or use their knee to kill a man whose only crime was using a fake $20 bill? The fact that we have to bear the responsibility of teaching white people why racism is bad and how it impacts us when we’re not the racists is insanity, especially when they don’t understand or recognize their racism. This and everything else I outline in this paragraph is gaslighting 101 and I am fed up.
So while quarantine has it’s good times, being black in quarantine rings a whole new bell and brings with it a new burden and we are not okay.
Life is ambivalent. There is a time for everything, according to Ecclesiastes 3. My notion of life has left me with conflicting feelings this past year. Let me explain why.
A few months before turning 30, I met someone. After spending years of writing in my journal and praying about the type of partner I wanted, he appeared when I least expected and where I least expected as well. Up until a week before meeting him, I have a note in my phone exclaiming “I wonder what my future partner is doing right now. Who is he? What are his fears? What are his goals? Will I recognize him? The story of how we met is one I will save for the future, but from the start, we both knew we wanted to be intentional. He was truly a blessing and the first of a wave of change and answered prayers in my life. A few months after that, I celebrated an epic 30th birthday with my friends and family and when I returned from my travels, I was officially promoted. When I became a Manager of a department at a major TV network, my colleagues thought it was meteoric. For me, it meant the world and I was excited but I wouldn’t use the words meteoric. You see, when I broke into the media industry, I had worked for a financial technology company for five years as the CEO’s assistant. I did not want to be an assistant anymore, but I was having a hard time breaking into media, so I had to start over, in this new industry as an assistant….again. To learn more, watch my Career Journey video. Throughout this whole time, I wondered if I would ever escape the entry-level administrative role and move into management. I was afraid that I was being pigeonholed and that assisting was going to be my fate. But after 7-years, I moved up and was on the track to being an executive, which is my ultimate goal. 5+2=7 and 7 is the biblical year of completion. This was a cause for the utmost celebration, but I barely told a soul. I was afraid. Fear seeped into me and told me it was not real; that It would be taken from me at any moment.
In the midst of this immense harvest season, I was simultaneously dealing with three sick immediate family members. Two out of three dealing with cancer, radiation, and hospitals. Hearing someone you love ail in pain every night and there’s nothing you can do about it is agonizing. This pain resulted in a loss of a few friendships because I did not have room for anyone who added more of an emotional burden on my life. It was just that simple.
These conflicting situations are the epitome of ambivalence in life. I was unhappy when all of the things I prayed for came to fruition. I felt guilty about celebrating when I had a sick family member back at home. I thought the good that I had would be removed from my life the minute I got too comfortable with it. I developed a skeptic mindset. But skepticism shows a lack of faith. I wish I had the solution but I am still working through this. Sometimes acknowledging there is a disconnect is the first step towards building in an area that you are weak in. That weak area for me is understanding that with God, no matter how bad the situation is, he always works things out for good…so celebrate through the good and celebrate through the not so good. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we are told to, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” It’s going to take a lot of spiritual maturity for me to fully grasp this concept but I am working on it.