Posted in Blog, Mental Health

I’m a Pro-Black Rock Chick; Why Is That A Hard Concept to Grasp?

I grew up listening to rock and indie music, not because I grew up in a white centric environment, but because it was the music I grew up with and resonated with my own narrative. My father loved rock music and most of my favourite bands now are many of his own favourite bands. I even have some of his old LPs which I managed to salvage from the collection my mum threw out after he left.

 

When I suffered from bullying because of racism last year, I was extremely conflicted by my music choices. For the first time in my life, I began listening to hip hop music; for the first time in my life, I realised that white men like Thom Yorke and Robert Smith were not the same colour as me and probably didn’t care about me, perhaps didn’t even care about racism and what fans like me were going through as a young Black woman. As you’re reading this, if you’re white you’re probably saying/thinking

 

“what does race have to do with it?”

 

“why does it matter that I am a different colour to these bands? Or from a different culture?”

 

Well it does. Especially when you are constantly being abused for the colour of your skin and told that you don’t belong.

 

I say this time and time again and I will forever say it: Kendrick Lamar literally saved my life last year.

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One of my tattoos (The Blacker The Berry, by Kendrick Lamar)

 

I had always been a fan, but I had never really sat down and listened to his lyrics, until I went through what I went through last year; he spoke to me in a way a musician had NEVER spoken to me before; he allowed me to be unashamedly angry for the first time in my life. Another rapper I find similar to Kendrick so resonated with is Open Mike Eagle: he also speaks about violence against the black community and how his perceptions of blackness have developed from childhood to adulthood. I love him because he’s a great storyteller as well as visual artist. I never knew that hip hop could do this, probably because I’d never given it the chance; throughout my childhood, my mother had always told me that Tupac was just a thug, until last year I discovered he was a better poet than any of the classics I’d taught as an English teacher.

 

For many months, I stopped listening to rock music, and invested my time into hip hop, because these were people who looked like me and could see where I was coming from.  However, recently I’ve now found a good balance where I can still enjoy my rock and indie music, while also embracing hip hop (old and new), so essentially marrying the new me with the old me, and while my black comrades have finally fully embraced this, because they can still see that I’m a pro-black woman who just fucking loves music from different genres, many white people – including my girlfriend – find it difficult to wrap their heads around this concept. I’ve been accused by white people of giving them a free pass for racism because I listen to “white music”; that I’ve forgiven white people for the racial torture they frequently put me, and my brothers and sisters through, just because I’ve started listening to The Cure again and am currently obsessing over DIIV (both white rock bands). Listening to rock music, also doesn’t mean that I’m going to visit some white artist at the Tate (Jenny Holzer), just because she thinks her anti-patriarchal art is progressive, when she refuses to acknowledge intersectionality in her “progressive” feminist pieces.

 

WTF?

 

Listening to rock music doesn’t make me any less pro-black; it doesn’t change the fact that I think that all white people are born with racial biases and many are unwilling to accept that they are born with privilege. In fact, I find it beautifully ironic that every day as I walk through the streets of North West London, I am being judged for the colour of my skin and sometimes verbally and physically abused, whilst listening to Led Zepplin or Roxy Music on my phone through headphones. Which is why when white people say to me “colour doesn’t matter” well actually it does because white people perceive me as lower and “other” just because of the colour of my skin and furthermore, I AM FUCKING DIFFERENT TO YOU so have some respect for my skin colour and culture by recognising that. However, the irony of othering me while I’m listening to the bands you also may like, is that we still have things in common which most white people refuse to acknowledge.

 

I cannot change who I am, God knows I’ve tried. However, the point I’ve now come to is that I am no longer ashamed of who I am. I’ll always be a rock chick, but I’ll also always be pro-black.

XOXO

Posted in Blog

I Am Black British, I Will Not Get Out of Here

I had my last session with my private therapist this week.

It’s the end of an era.

#celebration #turnup

She’s been a blessing to me, truly. An inspiration. And I’ll always be thankful to her for helping me to create the woman I am today.

I have come a long way. I’m back in part-time work now, which I never would’ve had the courage to do without her help and I’m more motivated than ever to finish my MSc, now that I’ve seen where it can take me!

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(My back-to-work selfie)

Before going back to work, I almost had a back slide, following a racially traumatic trip to the North of England. My girlfriend and I rented a motorhome and took a road trip through the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. I noticed that the further North we went, the more people would stare (and glare), and become less friendly, until they were ignoring me completely to pretend that I didn’t exist. In a café in Cumbria in the Lake District, the staff refused to speak to me and kept me waiting longer than other white customers who had ordered long after me. The waitress also didn’t bring me any cutlery with my food, like Black people are savages and therefore always eat with our hands. Then later on the same day, I was asked to leave a pub, while my white girlfriend sat peacefully undisturbed by the staff in the corner. I was asked to leave because as a Black woman, clearly not from the area, I made the manager uncomfortable thus she made me uncomfortable on her land. I sat at a bus stop crying for half an hour, just wishing to be back home in London, even if I do live on an all white street where the neighbours think I’m going to rob their properties or pull a gun out of my handbag each time I reach into my handbag to pull out my keys.

Psychologically, this experience made me want to retreat back into myself. I knew that I was returning to work the following week too, but I very nearly called to say that I’d changed my mind, or that I could no longer work for whatever reason.

But after ranting on social media about my experiences and finding solidarity in my Black sisters online, I found the strength to not give up. One friend even DM’d me to make sure I was ok when she saw my tweets about how upset my holiday was making me.

#Blacksistersgotmyback

It’s a shame that racism marred the trip, because I saw some majestic waterfalls, glorious moors and stunning horizons. England truly is a beautiful country.

(Left image: Peak District; Top right image: Aysgarth Falls, Yorkshire Dales; Bottom right image: Cumbria, Lake District.)

 

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(Image: Yorkshire Dales)

Part of me was initially angry with myself for having put myself into the situation, because “I should’ve known or expected to be racially abused” and I felt that I shouldn’t have made myself go on the trip in the first place. However, it was during my therapy session after the trip where I suddenly realised that (a) I had no right to make myself feel like that, burdened with guilt and shame and (b) I am British as well as Black Caribbean and I have EVERY RIGHT to go wherever the fuck I want in my OWN COUNTRY, my OWN home. Nobody has the right to dehumanise me, but DEFINITELY NOT in my own fucking home. I’m not going to apologise for being alive or being the colour I am just because certain people perceive the colour of my skin to be the wrong colour either.

Which brings me to Love Island, my new reality TV addiction (hence all the random hashtags in this post!)… Samira, the only Black woman contestant has been single since the season launched, because every guy’s type appears to be blonde hair and blue eyes (white), which is not the issue here because this is also Samira’s type. The issue is, as the only Black woman on the island, none of the men find her desirable. At first, when I started watching, my initial thoughts were, “well what did she expect, going on a show like Love Island she’s guna get rejected!” However, upon reflection, I suddenly realised that I was wrong for thinking this way. Why shouldn’t Samira go on a show like Love Island? She’s fucking hot, she’s British and she has every right to go on a dating show like all of her white peers, looking for love, a fling or whatever. Seeing how the other contestants treat Samira, is just the epitome of British racism – the guys treat her like a leper because she’s that sexually undesirable to them, while the girls treat her like an agony aunt, forcing her to put aside her own problems (the fact that nobody fancies her or wants to couple up with her), to listen to the other girls whine about their petty boy dramas, simultaneously rubbing in her face the fact that they have boys to have drama with, while she doesn’t.

To be implicitly and explicitly told that you “don’t belong here”, is what racism is in our country.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Introduction to Personality Theory (Being Black is AWESOME)

personalities

(Image source)

Since starting my MSc, I’ve been thinking A LOT about labels and diagnoses, particularly when you’re Black.

When I was 28 I was diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (formally known as Borderline Personality Disorder). However, this diagnosis was based upon my past behaviour where I had no sense of self; I was unstable, impulsive, my moods would go from high to low and I could be extremely unsociable one day to belle of the ball to the next.  However, as a young, Black woman growing up in the UK amongst mostly white girls of course I was confused about my identity and therefore, had no sense of self. But now that I’m “woke” and I’ve finally found a sense of “Blackness”, does that mean that I no longer have mental health issues? Of course it doesn’t. But because I finally do have a sense of self, I was rejected from the NHS Mental Health services assessment team for being too “high functioning” and even though I’ve complained, it’s made no difference. I may get a meeting with a psychologist regarding a further explanation on my diagnosis as per my request, but that’s it, so I’ll have to continue to pay for private therapy. To be fair, my Therapist is awesome, she’s a beautiful Black woman, so woke, and she’s highly intelligent.

My current module is on Individual Differences, Personality and Intelligence. I’m only a week in and so far, it’s proving incredibly insightful: psychologists like to throw around the words “normal” and “abnormal” quite a lot, which doesn’t surprise me, therefore when they’re creating a hypothesis for behaviour, you can imagine why they look at a Black person and find our behaviour “abnormal” when their theories are based upon “normal [white] populations”. It also makes sense as to why they’re so frequently diagnosing Black women with Personality disorders and Black men with Schizophrenia. Go figure.

A term I’ve discovered is: Unconditional positive regard, which is where an individual becomes less reliant upon the opinions of others and becomes more confident in their own opinion of themselves, therefore having a more positive opinion of oneself. This is a construct which I feel that my generation of Black people are lovingly embracing and something older generations were never taught – in fact, they were taught to hate themselves. Black people were never taught about the concept of self, not in this way, in fact I know in Caribbean culture it was very selfish to be introspective. However, what the older generation didn’t realise was that not allowing themselves to be free of white opinions was a mental shackle.

My final thought is something I read which proves something I’ve thought for awhile: some people create a self-construct (image) as a crutch, which is not actually a true representation of themselves or the way they can behave all the time, so when a distortion takes place, they become aggressive because they’re suddenly unsure of how to behave. I’ve found this in situations when [white] people are pretending that they are intelligent in conversations, but I show them up (not on purpose), so they become aggressive towards me. When these situations initially used to happen, I would become upset because in my mind I’m thinking all we’re doing is having a conversation, and now you’re shouting at me and calling me stupid wtf! when actually I’m saying something intelligent and you’re the stupid one, however now I’m confident enough to know that they are the insecure one and they are the one who is lashing out because of their insecurities. Their behaviour is a reflection of their own insecurities and a denial of any incongruence between their self-image and own behaviour.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Poetry

They Were My Babes

 

They were my babes

But you called them retards

Because of your black hearts

They called me fam

Coz God had a plan

They were my babes

But you gave them hell

Coz they were under my spell

You treated them like savages

Like discarded packages

They were my babes

But I was torn away

In that black month of May

Like a mother torn from her babes

They were my babes

They were my babes

I still bear the scars

But no longer are they a mask

To cover the miscarriage

The racial attack and injustice

Of when I lost my babes

Resilence

 

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

My 1:1 Tarot Reading with Leona Black

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(Image source)

In my rejection of Christianity, I’ve begun seeking other sources for spiritual guidance and comfort. As a child, I’d always been drawn to astrology, so I decided to return back to this which then led me to tarot.

A Little About Me

My star sign is Cancer, however my rising sign is Taurus. Crabs (Cancer), tend to be internal and receptive, with a heavy dose of initiative (cardinal), and strong, emotional awareness.

Leo, which lives next door to Cancer, boasts a very different personality (as is always the case with adjacent signs). Leo, is a sign of positive fixed fire. This means that it natives tend to be outgoing (positive), determined (fixed) and full of flash (fire).

As I am a Taurus rising, I stand firmly on my feet. I therefore look for stability in the people around me, security and the feeling of security. They are social and love to socialise – given by their precious skill to communicate and focus requests. I have also had to learn how to handle changes and experiences – to accept them positively. I can become obstinate and stubborn when pressure and stress dominate my life or my way to act.

How I Came to Meet Leona

Leona Nichole Black was recommended to me by a friend of mine, Kelechi 

Leona is a Tarot Reader, Intuitive Counsellor, Writer & Cultural Theorist. As well as this, she’s also currently studying for a PhD in Black Consciousness, which I was immediately drawn to as an Black academic myself. I initially requested for an MP3 Tarot Reading, back in January; I didn’t give much away, only because I didn’t really know what to ask:

How can I move on from the conflict with my mother and sister?

At the time, my mother and I had not yet reconciled and I was having mad dreams about both her and my sister. I was ready to walk away and I wanted to know how, however Leona had a very different answer for me. She told me that my mother and I were going to move past our conflict. She could see that my mother loved me immensely, but was stuck in the middle. My sister, on the other hand, could not be trusted.

Leona gave me an incredibly in depth reading and it was also incredibly on point! I was shooketh!

So much so, that I decided to go and see her in person, where she gave me another in-depth reading, followed by advice and counselling regarding my situation with my mother and it is thanks to her that my mother and I are now talking, on my terms.

The session began with a simple prayer, to bless the space, as well as the cards, and then the reading began. Unfortunately, I didn’t start taking notes until further into the reading (I didn’t know I could actually take notes!), but I do remember the Source Card coming up and we spoke about breaking the generational cycles within my family, which is something that I am incredibly passionate about – mostly in regards to female mental health, but also abusive familial relationships. My grandmother is currently living in relational poverty and my aunt and uncles have stopped my cousins and I from going into the house. Last month, when one of my cousins and I tried to go and visit, they stalked the house to intimidate us, and then tried to beat me up. One of them is also keeping her finances from her. The house has no proper electricity running through it. My aunt who lives with her has an undiagnosed mental health condition. Social services are aware of this, however have been been more inclined to be helpful to the older generation (not believing me or my cousins even though I’m more educated and my cousins have evidence of abuse against my grandmother). We’ve even reported threats made by my uncles towards me, to Social services, and deterioration in my Grandmother’s mood however, we still haven’t been heard. The Ten of Pentacles came up, which indicates stress, (I did have my first tonic clonic seizure in 9 months last week), however there were other cards pulled to indicate that there will be success. My cousins and I just need keep on persevering.

Advice

Leona pulled the following cards for me for advice:

  • The High Priestess card – to trust my intuition, which is something I am very good at – except with my mother (perhaps because she’s my mother?)
  • The Sun in Reverse – Mum’s thoughts can overshadow mine. My mum and sister were both very negative and judgemental – both intentional and unintentional, which had a severe impact upon my mental health, confidence and creativity growing up and in my early twenties. Therefore, now is the time for honouring my own emotions which is a process I have already begun. Now is the time to be my own warrior. 
  • Three of Ones – I am now looking for a return on my investment and I have been waiting at a distance, with my barriers up, especially during these early stages of the rekindling of our relationship. In hindsight, I guess this also will eventually apply to the situation with my Grandmother and the work my cousins and I are putting in on her behalf for her welfare.
  • However, there was the Two of Swords, indicating that I am not seeing the situation clearly, and this could also apply to my uncles because up until January, I thought that the sun shone out of their arses.
  • The Ten of Pentacles in Reverse came up, reminding me that my blood are not my family. They continue to hurt me, devalue me (I’m talking about my mum, sister, uncles and aunt here), when I have people who aren’t blood, who perceive me as the little girl and woman who deserves all of the love I’ve always craved.
  • The Nine of Pentacles in Reverse – indicates that I haven’t been seeing myself clearly. I’m a 10/10, but I’m only seeing myself as a 9/10. I’m the shit!

  • The Magician – reclaiming my energy, which is something that I am working on for 2018 and not draining myself for the sake of others.
  • The Temple Card – I’ve built my own temple, on my own, without the help of anybody. I look back on where I was this time last year and I just cannot believe how far I’ve come. Nobody can tell me anything now about my journey, because they haven’t been through it and they don’t know and therefore, nobody can ever gaslight me about my intelligence ever again because my foundation is now too strong.
  • The Grief Card – reminding me that I will be let down and therefore, I need to have outlets for pain. This is so important as a Black woman to allow myself to feel pain.
  • The Strength Card – I will need courage and I will need to take back power from the source. The source is me.
  • The Chariot Card – the triumph and overcoming will be in sticking it out. So many times with my family, I’ve just upped and left, however just leaving isn’t the way. I have to show up and remind them that I am the child, and they will be held accountable for certain things and that’s where the healing is for me. Do not compromise. This worked. After this session, I meditated on this advice, before sending my mother a message, pretty much outlining my “terms and conditions” for our relationship going forward (LOL). We are yet to meet in person again, but at present, we now speak on a weekly basis.

Outcome

Queen of Wands – This will be mum, who will finally see the suffering she has caused, however she will find it very difficult to deal with, so she will flee. Whether or not she will return, only time will tell.

And she has. 

 

I cannot recommend Leona’s services enough, not only for spiritual guidance, but also for counselling. I’m looking forward to returning!

The MP3 reading was £28 and the one-to-one session was £60.

http://www.nicholeblack.com/services/

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

My Mother & I… Freedom

After my last blog post which you can read here, I spoke to my mother and we finally addressed our past. It’s been a looooooong time coming. We finally openly spoke about what it was like for me growing up after my father left, but also what it was like for me before. While talking, it also dawned upon me that I never ever told her about the final conversation I had with my father on the phone and his final words to me:

You need to be an adult now.

Words that I had carried for twenty years. I didn’t realise the weight behind the meaning of these words, until I uttered them to my mother last weekend. My father wasn’t just telling me to be the adult, to be the second parent; he was telling me to bear the burden of his sins and to keep my mouth shut. For so many years, I blamed my mother for not being able to talk about what happened to me and for the memories that I repressed however, what we both came to realise in those words was that he was just as much to blame for both of us not being able to speak to each other.

Black women are burdened with carrying so much pain – it’s a curse.

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(Image source)

I watched the visuals for Beyoncé’s album, Lemonade last night (finally (!) – if I’m honest, I’ve always been more a fan of her sister Solange – who to me was more woke and more real, however lately I feel like Beyoncé’s been calling out to me lol). The visuals are stunning, but the lyrics and the spoken word parts are incredibly more resonating, because she speaks about Black female pain and its curse – the curse being that we as Black women are never permitted to feel pain. This is why Lemonade spoke to soooooo many Black women.

The exclusive world premiere of Beyonce's 'Lemonade' on HBO

(Image source)

I’ve often thought to myself, why did B stay with Jay-Z when he treated her so badly? He cheated on her, he caused her such psychological stress that she had multiple miscarriages. There’s a lyric that resonates with me in one of her songs, where she sings:

Let me see your scars/ show me your scars

Again, this is breaking the curse.

Yes, she could’ve left him, but then they may never have addressed their issues.

She had to stay with him, to compulse him to address his own issues, and this would’ve taken an incredible amount of stamina from both of them. But especially her. And the fact that he submitted himself to her, considering where he’s from and who he is, is again breaking that curse and breaking down so many barriers here not just in relationships, but for Black mental health simultaneously. Hopefully, they have finally re-created a relationship where both man and woman are now on the same platform, where man is no longer above woman, where woman is no longer inferior to man.

And I really do need to write up my piece on the self-care event I went to (I’ve been unwell, so I’m behind on my tings), because this is one of the things we discussed, and it’s also something my mum and I discussed, and why she couldn’t permit me to talk to her about certain things, for so many years. My mother would shut me down when I tried to open up to her about what my father had done to me, especially so when I was older and the repressed memories began to resurface. In fact, when my father left I originally went to a family friend about the abuse, because I couldn’t talk to my mother.

On Sunday, my mother apologised for not permitting me to address these memories with her, because she acknowledged that she hadn’t yet dealt with her own pain. Through prayer and therapy, she’s now done that and I’m incredibly proud of her because she’s broken the curse in our family. Just like Beyoncé did. Beyoncé had to allow herself to feel pain that perhaps no woman in her family had permitted herself to feel before. This then breaks the cycle of the curse, so that her own daughters will go on to have healthier relationships with themselves, as well as their significant others.

My mother has now permitted me to see her own scars, which is something that has not been done in our family before.

My mother had, and still does have a terrible relationship with her own mother, because of this curse, because it wasn’t broken. In fact, they presently have no relationship. My nan carried her pain; my mum carried her’s; both refused to acknowledge each other’s pain and address each other’s pain, until it festered into an incredibly abusive relationship and now they unfortunately no longer talk. I’ve come to realise that this is not uncommon within Black communities.

Hopefully, my mother and I can continue to progress down this healthy road of mother-and-daughter-relationship.

XOXO