Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Black Women and Wellness

I am reading Bell Hook's "Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery." Anyone who knows me well knows that I am in recovery.

I am in recovery from growing up in a broken environment. I am in recovery from an eating disorder. I am in recovery from mental ailments. I consider myself in recovery.

Writing those sentences made me think of Geneen Roth's book "Women, Food, and God." She talks about this obsession with fixing one's self. Whenever I speak about recovery I have to remind myself that recovery is different from fixing. I need to make a space between those two.

Black women and recovery. Black women and self-recovery. Black women and wellness. Black Women, Food and God. I should write a book of the latter. It is so hard to talk about Black women and recovery. This is because by nature I want the answers. I want all the anwsers to all the questions that pertain to helping my sisters. I need to be able to heal my sisters. Me too! I need to heal me too but I would like to heal my sisters from the shit we go through. There is a very important statement in "Sisters of the Yam":

"Living as we do in a white supremacist capitalistic patriarchal context that can best exploit us when we lack a firm grounding in self and identity (knowledge of who we are and where we have come from), choosing "wellness" is an act of political resistance."

When I read this the other day it sat with me. It sat with me in a positive and a negative way. I felt like there was a connection and that someone finally understood but I also felt saddened that my desire to be self-actualized is a political statement. Getting well is so complicated by itself.

Because of my Blackness, everything I do is political. I am a Black, Bisexual Woman who grew up in poverty. Every move I make is political; an example, a story, etc. I wish it weren't. Maybe my wellness would come sooner if their wasn't so much that went with it.

I wonder when I will be well. I wish every sister I ever encounter and do not encounter wellness. I wish everyone wellness as a matter of fact. I will die if I do not become well. I may be physically living (or not) but I will be dead honey. Dead.


I was walking back to the office. I work at a University. Many times in the summer there are packs of children and teens because they do programs. As I was walking by I passed a pack and one of the young boys thought it would be hilarious to yell at me "Hey Precious!"

Now. I wanted to say something back. But I am 23 years old. I am far too old to argue or verbally assault a young person but unfortunately it does not work that way the other way around.

I just looked back but I went back to hear all the OOOHHHHsssss and AAAWWWWWssss and just went into the office.

What would I have said anyways? Hey! Dont you call me fat! Or hey, yo mamma! Am I hurt? Yes. Do I want to be? No. I do not want to be hurt because I have experienced it so many times. I do not want to be hurt because Gabby is pretty damn awesome and to be offended to be called her is an insult to her, women who look like her and women who love her. Although, being called precious is something a little different. But essentially I was being called fat and unattractive. Am I hurt? Yes. Because I am tired of that. And because it seems like no matter how much I gear myself up to think of myself as a young beautiful intelligent Black women, to society, I am still a fat A-Sexual Black woman. That is what I am before I open my mouth.

The nature of this situation is complex being that these were middle school aged kids and that they were Black and they know plenty of people who look like me. I am sure I am their mother, their aunt, their best friends sister, etc. It still doesn't matter. I grew up with them. And it just seems like I will never get away from the ridicule, whether it be from magazines and books and tv shows and dating websites and people at bars or middle school aged kids waiting for their school bus.

Being fat is exhausting. It really is. Trying to find a treatment plan for a non-socially acceptable ed is even more exhausting, especially when your trying to do HAES and FA and all that good stuff. I am just a bit exhausted.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Get Busy

I have decided to start taking dance classes. To be honest I am a bit frightened by the idea of my very plump self exercising in front of skinny people. I also hate that I will probably have to dance in front of a mirror. What the hell is that? Why do they put those huge mirrors up?

Ultimately, I am workong on body acceptance and self acceptance so I am excited. I want to become more fit and I would like to restructure my relationship with exercise. Having an eating disorder as an obese person can be rough but I really need to stop thinking of being active as punishment for being fat because that is why I dont do it. It is so weird but I could not figure out why I felt guilty when I exercised. I now know.

It is because I feel such a sense of shame. And because exercise is supposed to right my wrong right? No. Not so. Gotta change my mind.

I do feel like I am exercising for weight loss though. I do not want to expect an amount. I do believe in HAES and fat acceptance but I also believe in gravity and statistics about Black women. Especially Black women from poverty. And having BED is more than just oh I have to accept my size. I absolutely do but the weight on me is more than genetics. It is an ED and I have to reverse some of what I have done. I just dont know what my set weight is. It is all so confusing.

Bottom line. I would like to get more active.


That is exactly what I have. I have no idea why I just thought to myself that I could write my first thing in graduate school 3 hours before it was due. What was I thinking? I have no idea.

There is this thing that happens when too many people praise you. You start thinking you dont have to work for things as hard. It is quite the ridiculous. I think it happens to me a lot. I think that I can't take praise and I can't take critism. People praise me and I think I am the best. SOmeone critisizes me and I think I am the worse person in the world. It is the problem of a Black and White thinker. Of a person with anxiety and depression. It is quite the ridiculous.

I have a new cat. Her name is Sunny Dubois. I adopted her Sunday. I have another cat named Tabby and she is grown. Sunny is grown. At the moment they do not like each other. They will hopefully get over it.

Any of my readers add a cat to their household? A grown cat with another grown cat.

Oh. She is Russian Blue and I love her.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Police Brutality and Black Children

Across from my apartment is a playground. A playground that belongs to the Catholic Church attached to it. Nicely enough the Catholic church allows people from the community to use the playground on the weekends, otherwise it is electronically gated. I enjoy looking outside some days and seeing kids screaming and yelling and having fun.

Yesterday I see an older boy and what probably is a brother and cousin playing outside. Black. They are playing with lightening bugs. Of course the older fellow is trying to squash a lightning bug that the younger boy had in his palm and they are arguing and doing what kids do when its starting to get dark and they hanging around playing.

Today I was having an okay day. I went to two medical appointments that I had and on the way home I stopped at a flea market and got some vintage clothing and an interpretation of the Koran. On my way to my car I see a woman that lives in my building. I give her a ride back to the apartment.

When I am taking my goodies out of my car a cop car passed by me. Of course I was a little startled because I accidentally spilled organic rice cake pieces all over the ground and I wasn't sure if they were going to pull over and arrest my Black ass for littering. But of course, I was just being paranoid. They went into the park. I thought nothing of it because a lot of times cops cross through the park. I continue to get things out of my car and then another car passes. Then a van. Then another van. All cops. I turn around to see what is going on just as a cop (white) is pulling the older Black boy I saw yesterday off of his swing and slamming him into the ground. I see a white woman and 5 white children surrounding the police and the young boy. Then I see the little boy (who is 9 because he cried and screamed, I am only 9 years old!) in hand cuffs. They are yelling and grabbing and slamming into the car these young Black boys. I am becoming enraged and tears are welling up in my eyes and I can't believe that these boys could do something so wrong to warrant this treatment. Then I see the gun. The gun that the older boy had in his possession.

And I do not know how to feel. Now. I am confused and even more enraged and incredibly sorrowed. What is a young boy, who still enjoys playing with lightening bugs and swinging on tire swings doing with a hand gun? And why are these cops filled with so much hate for these young boys without question. I can feel it. Particularly two cops. I have so many thoughts and questions running through my mind. They let the young 9 year old boy go when they realize he knew nothing about the gun. Then I see family arrive. I see another young Black boy (relative I presume) who is being hard and tough and then I see a police officer slam him against the white van and yell things at him such as "You want to be hard, you want to be tough. I will show you tough." Then he is handcuffed and placed in a car. Roughly. And little ones ages 4 to 10 surround this. A police officer has to move a young 4 year old out the way. I should state that that white family mentioned before is long gone after witnessing so much.

All I can think about the young Black children (friends and family) that witnessed this. And a young black girl who sticks in mind who was just a little too grown. I could hear her yelling and telling the other children (who are confused) what is going on. I think, what about that little 9 year old boy who had nothing to do with the gun who was thrown around and yelled at and treated badly? What is the message that he has received? What about that 4 year old little girl who had to be pulled out the way? Most importantly what about the older boy who could be no older than 13? What about him. Where did he get this gun? Did he have plans to do something with it?

Of course I just watched across the street feeling voyeuristic and unproductive. I needed to watch though just in case something went wrong, which happens frequently. There are so many holes in my understanding of course. How did they know about the gun? Did someone call? Did the boy show it to the family that was at the playground? Where were the adults in this young boys life? Why weren't they at the playground as well, watching over everyone.

I am still confused and compartmentalizing my emotions. I know that having a gun is serious so these police officers had to be serious. But there is a treatment of Black people, especially Black men that is so familiar. My best friend has told me about his experiences. I have seen it in person so many times before. And what bothers me is that I saw it today. I saw this angry manly aggressive racist treatment of this young boy that only someone of color I think can understand. You have to grow up seeing it. You have to be seasoned in it. You have to see police a lot (in many situations) to understand it. So today my heart felt broken for so many reasons. And I just needed to let the Internet know about it.