The Day I Thought About Becoming a Stripper

The Day I Thought About Becoming a Stripper

It was Monday morning.

Like every other Monday, that meant it was time to visit the grocery store. The sun kissed the Earth like any other beautiful day, but this time felt different. I held that black and hot pink piece of plastic in my hands, wishing the amount of George Washingtons linked to it were as high as the pressure within my core. 

$30.

That was it. That’s what I had to work with to feed my family of five--and it was all my fault. 

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The Fight to Prove My Blackness

The fight to prove my identity was never-ending. This fight to prove my Blackness became absurd--impossible even. Like expecting a camel to fit through the eye of a needle kind of impossible.

White girl. 

That’s what my eight-year-old African-American neighbor called me. It was 1991 and I was six years old. That is the first time I can recall having someone call me by another ethnicity to my face. 

I had never stood up for myself before, but I felt such anger within as if fire consumed my core. Before I came to my senses, I spouted off a stream of words that must have gotten her attention. 

Although she never bothered me again, her words left me scarred for years. 

White girl. 

Her words echoed in my head.

She told me I thought I was better than everyone else.

Why would she think that? 

Was it because I spoke proper English? 

Was it the way I behaved?

It’s rather difficult for a six-year-old to comprehend the answers to any of these questions. It’s even more difficult when your family and friends echo that eight-year-old girl next door throughout the rest of your life. 

Needless to say, over the years, Self-conscious and Shame became my middle names. 

The light skin versus dark skin wars never helped much either. You know what I’m talking about. The whole “light skin is in” concept and the belief that light skinned Blacks had it easier because they were closer to being White than their darker skinned counterparts. 

I was never Black enough. No matter what I did.

I didn’t have power like Aretha or Mahalia. I didn’t belt runs like Kelly Price. I didn’t have the stereotypical “Black girl booty” or hair. And I certainly couldn’t dance.

The fight to prove my identity seemed never-ending--until that one time in high school. 

Not only did I find the courage to try out for the school’s step team (despite my rhythmically challenged reputation), but I actually made it. 

I was finally wanted. 

I was finally accepted--at least for that moment in time.

Do you know what that feels like? To be accepted as you are?

It’s never fun feeling like the kid picked last for kickball. 

It’s also never fun feeling inadequate and as if you must fight to prove your Blackness. To earn your “Black Card” so to speak. 

When someone new questions your right to claim your place in the Black community, you often find yourself searching for similarities--or stereotypes--you share with “the average Black person”. You find yourself taking pride in knowing how to play Spades, knowing how to use the latest colloquialisms correctly, keeping up with the latest entertainment news, and your near-perfect potato salad, collard greens, and macaroni recipes.

This fight to prove your Blackness becomes absurd--impossible even. Like expecting a camel to fit through the eye of a needle kind of impossible.

I may never fully earn my “Black Card” or be accepted, but the real question is: Will I ever learn to fully accept myself? 

Will I finally find the courage to rock my curls, embrace my body, and genuinely love the woman God made me into--unapologetically?

Clinging to Unrealistic Expectations

Stock photo courtesy of Createherstock

Stock photo courtesy of Createherstock

Unconditional love. It’s what we all want--crave even. 

I’m not talking the “I scratch your back and you scratch mine” kind of love. 

I’m talking that “I’m the reason we can’t get pregnant, but you don't ridicule me” kind of love. Or that “I’m going to love you and call you my dad even though you never helped my mother raise me” kind of love. 

As I sit here, nostalgically looking at old photographs, I come across one that catches me off guard. Like when an uninvited guest rings your doorbell.

There he is. The man who is half the reason I exist. Smiling with his chin resting upon his pale hand.

I’m good.” I think to myself. “I can handle this. I’ve prayed and forgiven him. It’s just a picture.

Or is it just a picture?

Is it just an immortalized moment in time?

I try to look away, but it’s too late. Woman down. I’ve been hit by a train. A train of shame, hurt, confusion, and blame. So many people tried to warn me. They told me stories about him from back in the day. Called him a living, breathing Rolling Stone. 

It didn’t matter to me because I knew I was different. He wouldn’t treat me the same way they said he did all those women--including my mother. He would love me unconditionally because I am a product of him.

I talk too much--like him. I eat fresh fruit in my cereal--like him. I am insecure--like him.

I look back at the photograph wondering what went wrong. 

I mean, what kind of person would reject his own flesh and blood?

Better yet, why did I fool myself into thinking this Rolling Stone would be different than the stories I've heard and actually love me unconditionally? Why did I think he would finally make my heart whole after all those years of brokenness?

His photograph becomes a blur as a stream flows down my cheeks. 

Just as I decide to pull myself together, I hear a voice asking me, “Why look for a mere man to make you feel whole?

My heart almost stopped.

I’m not gonna lie. This question hit me like that left hook Evander Holyfield gave George Foreman in the 1991 heavyweight championship fight. 

It never dawned on me that I have been putting so much responsibility on one man to make me feel whole, loved, and valuable. There’s only one man who can do those things, and that’s the Man Above. 

So, as I put away my photographs, I decide that maybe--just maybe it’s time to put away my unrealistic expectations, too. 


Have you been angry with someone and later realized those feelings weren’t justified because of unrealistic expectations you placed on him or her? Tell us about.

Remember, there’s no need to worry, friend. This is a no stone casting side of the Internet.

The Time I Decided to Stop Casting Stones

It's so easy to judge others and to justify why we should treat someone badly. Can any of us really throw stones at anyone else?

I ordered my usual Earl Grey with 2% steamed milk and two sugars before spotting the largest table I could find near a wall charger. Quickly, I Cha Cha slide to the left of a fellow customer, hoping no one would lay claim to what I consider the most coveted spot in my absolute favorite place to write. I proudly wear my badge of victory as I set up my mobile office. 

As I sit, relishing in the warmth of my tea, memories from long ago flood my mind. Memories of Friday tea time with Dr. Black in AP English. Memories of my parents picking me up from boarding school. Memories…

It’s funny how certain memories seem to stay with you for years, isn’t it? Especially the ones that have a way of bringing you to your knees. You know, like the one where your biological father blamed you for your strained relationship, but also admitted he had been intentionally ignoring your phone calls and voicemails. Why do those memories stick to you like that annoying piece of lint that won’t come off your favorite pair of slacks?

I catch sight of Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes in my work bag as I take another sip of tea.

Are Shonda and I kindred spirits? Have I, too, just been laying track all these years? Have I been so focused on the hurt and on what hasn’t worked that I’ve been oblivious to the complete picture? To the pain and the beauty? 

I slowly swallow another sip of my tea and exhale. 

Well? Am I going to continue justifying my perception and behavior towards others based on single moments of history? 

Then it hits me. 

Did Jesus? Did Jesus focus on the hatred He experienced and decide He wasn’t going to die for you and me?

God knows I do not want to think about how Jesus would handle this right now. All I want to do is sit here with my Earl Grey and stew in my pot of despondency.

I’m human, okay. So don’t cast any stones my way. There won’t be any stone casting allowed on my side of the Internet.

But seriously, as I look across this wooden table, I know what I need to do. I just don’t want to do it. Believe it or not, these painful memories are familiar and comfortable--like my favorite blanket and sweatpants. These memories justify my stance. 

Yet, I realize these memories are also blocking me from change. The kind of change I’ve been needing to break down the parasite-filled walls of my heart. 

As I finish the last drop of my beloved tea, I know it’s time. 

I’m just afraid I may die if I rip off this bandage completely (yes, I’m exaggerating). 

Guess I’ll have to start with baby steps. 

Just let me grab a bigger bag and start gathering all the stones I’ve casted. 


Have you ever recognized when you were casting stones against someone? What did you do about it?

[No worries, friend. You can share. This is a no stone casting side of the Internet. :o) ]

Love Me; Don't Judge Me

Have you ever feared being judged for who you are or for who you want to be? No one wants to be rejected. All we want is to be loved. How do you handle being judged by those closest to you?

It always amazes me how a parent can fail to show up to a child’s event one hundred times, and that child still manages to have hope that things may be different next time. Maybe it’s because God just gave children an extra scoop of hope. Or maybe, it’s because we all want to be loved and love can make us do things we can’t even explain.

Things like call a parent faithfully, knowing your calls and voicemails have never been returned. You shrug it off, thinking everyone gets busy, you know? Only to find out later that your calls and messages were deliberately ignored, tossed away like snotty tissues and forgotten. 

Should you keep trying to reach out? Or should you accept that you may never really know the other half of yourself?

You decide life’s too short to hold onto negativity--no matter who’s generating it. You made it this far anyways with only one-half of yourself. What’s wrong with going without for at least another four or five decades? 

I’ll tell you what’s wrong. 

What’s wrong is never truly living because you desperately want to please the other parent in your life. Because let’s face it. That’s exactly what you are--a people pleaser. You fear being different from the person you’ve been molded into. Changing who you are could lead to disappointing the remaining parent in your life, and you don’t want that. You can’t handle that. You can't handle such rejection.

You fear being judged instead of loved. Judging means you’re not understood and just maybe, maybe it indicates something’s wrong with you. Could it be that something really is wrong with you for wanting to believe differently, think differently, and do life differently?

Judging means you are alone and maybe even unloved. You’re not sure you can live knowing this may be true. So, you do your best to conceal your thoughts and questions. You instead become the people pleaser they all want you to be. You mirror their mannerisms and nod quietly in agreement with their thoughts. All the while, you wonder how much longer you can last walking on this bed of glass before it breaks. 

All you’ve ever wanted is to be loved unconditionally by them, and to feel like you have their blessing and permission to explore life. To discover who you are and who you are not. What you want, and what you do not want. 

The problem is, if you color outside the lines, you may lose ties to both halves of yourself. You tell yourself this is possible considering one-half already bailed on you. 

Life is short, but loneliness feels like an eternity. An eternity that kills slowly like carbon monoxide. 

Decades go by, and you still yearn for the same things: to be loved and to be free to find yourself. With a heavy heart, you decide this is the year to rip off the band-aid and search for love above and within. You are tired of being a prisoner to your past, and you decide to welcome the unknown. 

You cannot control the decisions of others. So you pledge to love yourself unconditionally and to refrain from judging your blemishes. 


Have you ever feared being judged? Comment below by telling us how this has affected you. 

Why the Holidays Make Me Cringe

Why the holidays make me cringe

Turkey and homemade dressing. Colorful candy canes and vanilla spice eggnog. Children laughing and playing while Grandpa tells the same stories he shares every year. So many sweet aromas, memories, and love fill homes this time of year. 

Except for mine.

I don’t have a home--a childhood home, that is. 

My home was taken away from me without my consent. Like a shattered piece of bone Chinaware, brokenness entered my life more than ten years ago. 

I should have expected it. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, really. I could see the way this hand was being played for years. 

Silence. Separate rooms. The need to avoid eye contact. 

The king and queen of our castle welcomed the partition between them.

The warmth within our castle walls slowly faded away. Love and happiness faded away, leaving behind scarred hearts and unanswered questions. Questions that still haunt me. 

Why does brokenness exist? Why do we grant him permission to penetrate our inner lair?

Every year, as I reflect on gratitude and listen to cheery Christmas carols, I try to suppress the distant memories that should have been filled with laughter and love. Some memories are harder to bury than others. Like the one where on Christmas morning, the king and queen of the castle could not bear to remove the partition between them. 

The queen chose to remain in her chambers while the king slowly made his way downstairs. 

Despite the divided front before me, I sat hopeful and wondered what the day could bring. As my brother opened his gifts, I was greeted with a box of blue basketball shoes, the same ones I wrapped for myself weeks earlier--you know, just to have an extra box to open. I'm glad I wrapped those shoes because I would have been greeted with empty hands. 

I drank heavily from the cup of brokenness that day. Not merely because I felt forgotten, but because it seemed as if my family had died--not literally of course, but figuratively speaking. We were merely individuals sharing air--air that would soon run its course.

The day came when we all removed our oxygen masks and permanently draped ourselves in a cloak of brokenness.

We became as one--brokenness and me--and remained as such even long after I moved away and became the queen of my own castle.

The funny thing about brokenness is that he doesn’t leave voluntarily--even when you strive to create your new castle from a place of wholeness.

No. If you let him, he will hang onto you for dear life, year after year, reminding you of all the memories your family did not make. Reminding you of all the love your family could have had. Reminding you of the bitterness and confusion, and the anguish and sorrow that still lives vibrantly in your bones. 

Gazing into the starry heavens above, the search for answers continues. Answers to those unanswered questions from long ago. 

Will I ever be healed? Will I ever be whole?


Are the holidays tough for you because of something that happened in the past? Share with us below how you have been coping so far this holiday season.

Instant Gratification: An Ode to Creatives

As creatives, we want the entire world to welcome our creative expressions with open arms. Sadly, this is usually not the case when we make our first attempt. The key is to persevere, grow, and enjoy the journey instead of falling prey to instant gratification.

It’s funny how so many of us enter a new realm
Not expecting to endure the pain that comes with building our name.
Somehow I’ll be different.”
That’s what we all say. 
And it never dawns on you and me how it’s the journey
Not the “one hit wonders”
That sets us apart.

Growing pains
Rage on like a woman giving birth--
And despite
The lonely days and nights
I know for what it’s worth, I must walk with my head held high.
For if
I choose not to, there’s no way I
Could ever be worthy of the title
And reward
That’s reserved for The Greats.
In due season, my time will come.
Opportunities upon opportunities lie in store for me, but
Now is the time for me to pay my dues. 


As a creative, have you ever experienced this? Did you think the world would welcome your creative expressions with open arms when you first arrived on the scene? Tell us about it in the comments below. 

A Nation Divided

America was shocked to find out the 45th President of the United States will be Donald Trump. What does this mean for our country? Will our divided nation be able to heal?

“It's hard to be a parent tonight for a lot of us. You tell your kids, don't be a bully. You tell your kids, don't be a bigot. You tell your kids, do your homework and be prepared. Then you have this outcome and you have people putting children to bed tonight. They're afraid of breakfast. They're afraid of, how do I explain this to my children?” - Van Jones

Van Jones brought up a real concern for many in America, including myself. How can I tell my children they live in a culture that embraces bullying, bigotry, and hatred? How can I tell them they live in a country where unconditional love does not abound? Better yet, how can I get them to believe that having good morals and character is still the way to go?

Being a double minority in the United States puts me in a unique position. I am not upset that Trump won the election per se. The pill that is difficult to swallow, however, is knowing how he won. To know my new commander in chief won based on a campaign that showed disregard for people of color, individuals with disabilities, women, Mexicans, Muslims, and the LGBTQ community, speaks volumes. I heard a Trump supporter indicate his elation because he felt Trump embodies and speaks for all Caucasian men in the U. S. Pardon me if I do not share elation in this privilege--a privilege many minorities are still not afforded. 

To know my new commander in chief has been a proponent of violence (as was demonstrated at several rallies) really makes me question the safety of my fellow Americans who do not look like our President-elect. I was saddened to know Trump threw out minorities at his rallies, only to find later that some of these individuals were, in fact, among his supporters. How is it 2016, and we are, again, being judged by the color of our skin? Political preference should not be assumed based on an individual’s physical characteristics. 

How can I believe my new commander in chief (and especially many who look like him) will not continue to judge based on the color of skin, religious beliefs, and more? I have already heard reports this morning from fellow African Americans who were told to “go back to Africa”. Many Muslims and immigrants alike woke up wondering if they need to leave before being forced to do so. This is not the direction our country needs to head in. This is not the way to bridge the divide. Our country has a lot of work to do if we ever expect to become unified.

Let me be clear: I am not a sore loser. I am not losing my faith in God’s ability to protect my family and friends. I am merely voicing some concerns that many share within the communities that were targeted in the past eighteen months. At the end of the day, I recognize God as the Ultimate King. However, I am not naive to think we don’t have some important questions to answer now. So, I ask you, America:


Where do we go from here?

How do we heal from a wildly shocking Presidential election? 

How do we make those of us who were targeted in this election feel welcomed, wanted, and loved now that the same man behind the hatred will be the 45th President of our country? 

How can we bridge the divide in our nation?


I don’t have all the answers, but I will say what I’ve said before: Love is the key. 

Proverbs 10:12 (NIV) tells us: Hatred stirs up conflict but love covers all wrong. 

Regardless of my views, I have always told my children that no matter the outcome of this election, God is still in control. We will not live our lives in fear because fear is not of God. We will, however, continue to love and treat ALL people with kindness and RESPECT. I can only pray the same is extended to my family and me. 

A Moment of Honesty

We all know no one is perfect, but do we still expect perfection from ourselves? Here's an honest reflection of struggle and realizations.

There’s an old song some church mothers used to sing called, “God is a Good God.” It is the kind of song you just can’t help singing. I can still hear the sound of hands clapping and feet stomping on those old floor boards. I can’t quite understand why that song made an impression on me at such a young age. 

Now that I’m older, I can attest that God really is a good God. My family is healthy. We have a home to live in, and a car to drive. Yet, if I’m honest with myself, I haven’t always felt like a recipient of God’s grace. Many days, I’ve wondered how the heck I even got here. It’s a pretty tough pill to swallow when you wake up one day and realize you aren’t even close to reaching your goals.

All of a sudden, a decade vanished. You’re married, with children, and the dreams you once held seem to float further away. What happened to that young, passionate, forward-thinking woman? Somehow she got lost in the hustle and bustle of life. 

Life is definitely a journey. At times, a rat race even. The more I try to get ahead, the more I’m greeted by brick walls. I’ve run into these walls so many times that you can probably see my indentation forming. I keep telling myself there must be a reason why these brick walls continue to appear.

I’ve always been told that everything happens for a reason. Whether good or bad, each experience has a purpose. That purpose will ultimately lead me to where I am meant to be. Not only does every event have a purpose, but God is not surprised by anything. 

I know God has His reasons, but I’ve wondered many times why He would allow bad things to happen to me. I know I’m not Job but dang. Does He not know how hard it is when you only have $30 to buy groceries--for a family of five? Does He not know how disheartening it is when your spouse earns $55 more than the cut-off to receive assistance? Does He not see that childcare tuition means you can’t afford to get a job?

It’s difficult to stay on the straight and narrow when you’re constantly choking on defeat. Yet, no matter how many times I want to throw in the towel, I can’t. Something keeps telling me to hold my head up, to put my trust in God, and to remember the rain won’t last always. 

It hurts. The struggles do not make sense at this moment. But I was chosen for this journey because I can endure it. Victory doesn’t come without lessons learned, joy doesn’t exist without sorrow, and pain precedes beauty. 

Even at my lowest point, God gives me strength. No matter how little my situation seems to change, my story still ends with victory. No matter how unconnected every event in my life seems, my story still ends with victory. No matter how much anguish permeates my body, I am convinced my story still ends with victory. 

I’m reminded that my struggles could always be worse, and they aren't only for my benefit. Even in the toughest moments, I must see the truth that stretches beyond what my natural eyes can see: God is good. 

What truths have you found in your struggles?

The War Within - a personal essay

Stock Photo: Createherstock.com

Stock Photo: Createherstock.com

Like magic, my aura is sometimes an illusion--an illusion of the woman I want to become, not necessarily the woman that I am in that present moment. My smile, my spunk, my swag, they all make up a reflection of the strong, confident woman I long to be every single day. Some days I am one with this woman and other days, I cannot find her. Learning to deal with her sporadic appearances is far from pleasant, but necessary. 

Being unable to find this strong, confident woman is like groping around for my glasses in a well-lit room. She’s there, clearly, but something or someone still manages to obstruct my view of her. Life would be much easier--near perfect, even--if she would just reveal herself, and stay forever. Instead, I’m left to wrestle and wage war against “the troubled woman.”

This troubled woman has many guises. She yells, thinks irrationally, is insecure, and lives in fear of everything. When she’s around, I feel a weight upon me like that of the turbulent ocean, which drowns out my voice and suffocates the very life out of my soul. Why must she stir up so much conflict within me?

I’ve never liked conflict--even as a child. In fact, it takes every ounce of strength within me to face conflict head on. Yet, in those moments of disarray, invaluable lessons are revealed. Ironically, when I cease to fight using my own strength, growth emerges, clarity sprouts, and finally, the woman I long to become appears. 

As I soak in the rays of her presence, I am reminded that there is a purpose for everything. Conflict and harmony, complexity and simplicity, comprehension and enigma--even rain and rainbows. As much as I loathe turmoil and dysfunction, I admit they have helped in removing the scales before my eyes. 

The illusion of the woman I long to become is in fact not an illusion at all. She is a part of me, just as gold hidden within the rough ore. Even gold, in all its beauty, had to endure brokenness and repeated encounters with scorching fire in order to achieve its coveted state. Like gold, I too must endure the fiery furnace, the inexplicable storms, the conflicts, and the revelations in order for the strong, confident woman within me to shine brightly. This process of refining is not to be feared or despised but welcomed with joy. 

Comment below with a time when you've felt like this.