Saturday, November 2, 2013

12 Years a Slave- 20 Questions +1



20 Questions +1
  1. The emotional scarring from the forcible rapes endured by our ancestors are "tatted" in our DNA (I think). What of our current sexual practices originate from those experiences?
  2. How do we reproduce those dynamics in our Black love relationships?
  3. What toll does this ancestral remembrance have on our capacity to experience love?
  4. When families got ripped apart during Hurricane Katrina-kids ripped from their mothers arms, loved ones forcibly separated by both man and God, did it trigger in Black folks the memory of that trauma of slavery all over again (it's part of our ancestral memory)?
  5. When that sista forced Solomon to "pleasure" her (there was limited choice for Solomon), was it in an effort to experience pleasure (I don't think so), or was she using it as a tool to release the angst and horror she endured daily (or something else)?
  6. Was her exercising "choice" in that moment (there was no choice for African women and men regarding sex) at the expense of Solomon's choice an act of power or was his compliance with her "aggression" (for lack of a better term- I am having difficulty framing and interpreting that moment) an act of compassion?
  7. Is desensitization to violence an act of survival? The scene of the would-be lynching conjured up intense emotions for me given the response of other enslaved Africans in the background. What was the impact of "overseers" control of our reactions (e.g., through force and the threat of force and retaliation) to violence against our brethren? What did we lose by NOT reacting or by "ignoring" these acts of violence (there was no ignoring- but rather "getting the message"-stay in your lane)?
  8. If our ancestors internalized (although I think we all lose a bit of our humanity when we don't internalize these experiences) all those experiences of violence endured during our enslavement, could they have survived (I imagine there were many who couldn't- those that did internalize and still survive, how did they experience that and cope with that)?
  9. Was the mama's inconsolability an act of resistance and catharsis?
  10. Will people grasp the complexities of suffering endured by "Patsy" or will they somehow write off parts of her suffering like they do the experiences of "house slaves?"
  11. Did anyone else struggle with the movie's postscript as it said that Solomon Northrup helped "fugitive slaves" in the Underground Railroad? The connotation of "fugitive" fucked with my spirit- can you really be a "fugitive" when the fools breaking the law of humanity are the one's that kidnapped you and forced you into slavery?
  12. What the fuck is a slave? Slaves aren't people. Slavery is a condition. My ancestors were enslaved Africans. Calling them "slaves" diminishes their humanity and endorses the view of them as property?
  13. Will white patrons of this film see the connection between their present-day privilege and their ancestors' experiences with/participation in the enslavement of African people?
  14. Will Black patrons of this film see the connection between their ancestors' experiences with chattel slavery and their present-day oppression (at least the connection to our response to our oppression)?
  15. Is it me, or did the use of Christianity to justify slavery and indoctrinate African people to be subordinate to white people make Black Christians shutter just a little bit (and maybe even reconsider their connection to Christianity)?
  16. Is Tibeats' (Paul Dano) disdain and contempt for Solomon (clearly based on Tibeats' inadequacy) a reflection of the impotence experienced by white men when they encounter the virility and ingenuity of black men? 
  17. Is this feeling of impotence the underlying motivation for the development of such dehumanizing and evil practices of chattel slavery (who comes up with an entire system of slavery built on the destruction of the physical and psychological oppression of an entire people)? 
  18. Does Epps' practices regarding productivity on the plantation look eerily like structural functionalism (the foundation of many American business practices)?
  19. Did that "time to dance" scene trigger a memory for brothers and sisters in fraternities and sororities? And does the reproduction of some of these practices in our pledge processes make you feel some type of way right now?
  20. Do you get that these shitty ass, European last names many of us acquired during our ancestors' enslavement are a daily reminder of our condition as property of white people? WTF
  21. How do we reconcile the suffering of our brethren while enjoying the niceties of life (i.e., the Black middle class vs. the Black poor-"free people of color" vs. enslaved Africans)? Had Solomon Nortrhup not been kidnapped, would he have been invested in the liberation of Black people?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lent Reflection 2013

I'm giving up self-doubt and shame for Lent. I am enough. I am capable.

Several days ago I posted this status to Facebook. The status reflects the focus of my fast during Lent this year. Before the Lenten season begins I must reflect and process what that status and this season really means to me.

I have been in a bit of a transition. Many things have been going well in my life that have been difficult for me to see. Yet when I pause for a second and I look at where I am today as opposed to where I was a year ago, I have to give thanks. This pause also helps me put into perspective any hardships I'm facing today, because I am confident that I can overcome anything with God's help. 

With that said, I see an incredible opportunity before me. I feel like I'm at a crossroads. I can keep operating at this pace, achieving and operating with relative success, or I can invest in myself deeply and excel and reach heights that are beyond the scope of my imagination. Where I am is safe. Where I can be requires me to leave behind some things that prevent me from being whole.

Two things (well actually three) stand in the way of me developing into the woman I must be in order to continue on the path God has set before me. Self-doubt, shame and fear must be removed from my life. They are holding me back from achieving the life I am meant to live. I am hopeful that this Lenten season I am able to focus my energy on replacing these thoughts and behaviors with something more positive and productive. 

First things first...I have to embrace my power and brilliance (not my intellect but rather my Light). In order to do this, I must accept myself "as is" and honor the fact that who I am (today) is exceptional and special and valuable. I have to say "thank you" to compliments and believe them when I hear them. I have to stop doubting myself and my ability to conquer any task before me. I have proven time and time again that I am a conqueror and that I am able. Self-doubt is the loose string in my garment of life, that if pulled, can unravel all that I have worked hard to obtain. Once I clip that string, I will be able to weave a tighter, more beautiful and vibrant life for myself that is reflective of the God that resides within me. Right now, my constant battle with my insecurities prevents me from living the life of abundance and joy God wants for me because I am acting like I know better than God. I'm trying to overtalk God with my messages of self-doubt, when God is telling me all along that I am able. Time to get out of my own way. 

Next, I have to stop worrying. I am so afraid of everything. Afraid I will fail. Afraid I will be alone. Afraid of what people think of me. Afraid I am not good enough. Afraid I won't have children (give birth). Afraid I can't make it on my own. All of these crazy thoughts enter my mind. They are irrational. Some of the things I fear are evidently untrue. I can make it. I am lovable. God shows me love all the time. But I trick myself into believing that other people's opinions of me are more important than God's love for me and my love for myself. WTH? God is always beside me, so I'm never alone. God has also been very generous with me and has placed incredible friends and family in my life who love and accept me wholly. Everyone cannot say that. God has always provided for me all that I've ever needed. So, why I do I doubt the Creator on these things? What is this about? I have the next 40 days to really dig in and think about it. It's time to extract this fear from my life. "God is too good for us to have fear."

Finally, shame is definitely in my way. I struggle so deeply with seeing myself in a positive light. I often have confidence in parts of my life, but I feel totally "less than" in other parts of my life. I harbour so much shame for things that I've experienced or the faults that I possess, many of which are unknown or unseen by most of the folks who know me. I walk around with these invisible scars that are so prominent to me. I feel like a fraud most days because I can't see what others see in me. That's why I constantly make disparaging remarks about myself and why I can't take a compliment. I think, "If they knew this, then they couldn't think that about me." But I'm no less wonderful because of my wounds. They don't define me. But so often I feel broken and damaged inside.  But no one is perfect and there are lessons I am to learn from all of these experiences. In some cases, these moments in my life that bring me shame have also inspired my work with girls and women. They have unveiled to me my passions and my path. In other cases, it's hard to see the lesson that I am to learn from these scars. But they're there nonetheless.  I would much rather be rid of these scars than carry them for the rest of my life. But they're here, constantly reminding me of the shame I carry from the significant and harsh experiences in my life. I have no idea how to overcome or shift my perspective. But again, I am hoping the Lenten season provides me the space, time and support needed to move through the process of releasing the self-doubt, fear and shame from my life. 

It's getting crowded in here. As long as I spend any energy on the foolishness I will not be able to attract all that I want for my life and all that God wants for me. So, for Lent, I will be giving up self-doubt, fear and shame. I am capable. I am guarded by God. And I am lovable.  Ase'

What needs to change in my life if I am to live in the fullness of God?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fuck Isaac- Alone Through the Storm

Living in New Orleans has been something of an awakening for me.  I hate hurricane season and it seems that the past year and some change of my life has been just that. I have endured great struggles and am still standing, but in what condition?  I am over this.

I am battered and bruised, isolated and angry. Isaac just amplified that for me. The outages, a mere metaphor for the areas of my life in which I feel empty and alone. Just like New Orleans, I appear to be a big ass party, but beneath the surface shit is a mess. My soul is impoverished and I feel like my life is a big ass show. 

People ask me why I don't just evacuate, but there is a great cost to running. My resources are depleted and my energy is drained (literally and figuratively). I am facing my storm like the Beasts of Southern Wild. Crazy. Determined. Defiant. And Alone. 

Now, my life hardly mirrors that of so many that are actually suffering physically (and beyond). People have lost their homes and in some cases loved ones. Their entire way of being compromised by this asshole, Isaac. I actually feel like a dick complaining at all. Yet here I am. 

If none of this makes any sense, let me make it plain. I am 36 and single (and I don't want to be). I have no children that I bore. My life is full of stuff  (job, people, material things) but yet it feels totally empty. I have worked and worked to create the life I want for myself, yet still I am alone. 

And, yes, I am aware that most of what I'm saying is irrational. I know that there are people in this world who love me and care about my well being. I know there are people who wish they had power right now or one of these fucking degrees or a family who loves them. I know I sound like a total douche for complaining.  But I'm tired of pretending that shit is all good.  I know hurricane season is an annual occurence, but I do not want  to endure these storms alone for the rest of my life. 

Well, there it is. I said it. I mean it. And I don't care who wants to judge. This is where I am. 

*Praying for peace and partnership and the kind of love that can squelch life's storms.*

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Forgiveness

"Everyone wants joy in their lives but few people are ready to commit to truly joy filled ideals. The ideal you need to cultivate today is forgiveness. You're holding on to something needlessly. Even if you get even you won't feel any better. Let it go."- Daily Soul Vibration


Dear God:
I am going through a little something right now and I am trying to sort out how I feel and what I want to do going forward. I feel angry, hurt and betrayed. At the same time I am hopeful and still feel remnants of love. I'm definitely challenged by these conflicting emotions. But, here I am, nonetheless, thinking and trying to sort it all out. 
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, here it is. I've been hurt once or twice in my life and it is very easy to spit venom at the person who hurt me. I am extremely good at it, particularly when my own insecurities prevent me from seeing situations clearly. Insecurity can cost me a great deal if I let it. It can make me assume the worst in people when it's not the case. Worst yet, insecurity can make me think the worst of myself. Similarly, anger can prevent me from moving forward, and can keep me in a dark and lonely place. Forgiveness is essential to the process of moving forward and it is at the center of my process of sorting out my next steps.
Before I can even begin the process of figuring out what I want to do about my situation I had to commit to a few things. 
  1. Release all anger and fear regarding the situation with which I[m faced.
  2. This requires that I am  honest with myself and it also requires that I face my fears head on. In this process I must look beneath the anger and fear and see what's at it's root. Usually I struggle with feeling hurt and feeling loss. No matter what it is that holds one back from, one must face it.
  3. Exchange insecurities for affirmations. I learned this step from the law of attraction. The law of attraction posits that the Universe doesn't understand positive or negative. So, words like fearless, and phrases that start with "I don't want" won't work to attract the blessings I deserve. In fact, I will attract the very thing I wish to avoid. So, I started by putting my insecurities into sentences and translating them into positive affirmations. "I am afraid to love because I am afraid to be hurt" translates into "I love freely." 
  4. Call on God to give you everything you need to find forgiveness.
  5. No matter what decision I make, I know forgiveness is an important part of my process. Forgiveness, even towards my worst enemies, is critical for my emancipation. Forgiveness makes me free to experience the joys of life and eliminates those thoughts that compromise my wholeness. I ask God to give me what I need to let go and forgive. I ask for strong faith, bravery, protection, guidance, and strength (to name a few). So, no matter the outcome, I know I can forgive and that win, lose or draw, I will be okay with God's love and favor.


All that having been said, forgiveness is not always an easy road. But I know that it is an important path to happiness and restoration. Most of the things that cause me this kind of pain were significant and special at one point, leading me to believe some aspects of the situation are worthy of restoration. Plus, I can't stand the idea of anything besides my own will and God's Will controlling my actions. Thus, forgiveness is a MUST for me. Please pray for me as I take this journey to decide my next steps and pray that I am able to forgive and be forgiven as well. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Letting Go!

Dear God:

It seems the time has come for me to do what I said I was going to do. I've needed to let go of this situation a long time ago. I mean, really. If I'm not getting what I want and if it isn't helping me to get to a long term goal, it's just getting in the way. No amount of temporary happiness is worth the anxiety and insecurity I feel when settling. I have to let this go.

One of the things I know about myself is that I struggle with my confidence. Lots of folks think I have that so together, but it's not at all true. Sometimes I feel strong in myself, but it's work. I have to remain grounded in positivity and surrounded by people who support me in order for that confidence to remain strong. But I haven't. I have spent entirely too much time in situations and with people who do not cherish and respect me and all my gifts. In not being fully loved and embraced in these situations, I've begun to allow terrible thoughts to creep in my head; thoughts I've worked to remove from my psyche for years. But, here I am struggling nonetheless.

I watch as others establish strong boundaries to ensure their own happiness while I blur the lines of my boundaries just to keep them around. All the while I sacrifice my own happiness just for a moment of joy (but it isn't even real). I deserve better. I can do better. But often I doubt that very possibility. WTF?

Throughout my life I have encountered many highs and lows, all of which have made me stronger (but not immediately). I have been battered and bruised and believed, in those moments of trial, that I was damaged goods. I remember being in an abusive situation that had me believing I couldn't do any better than that half life. I really believed I didn't deserve more. I hit rock bottom and finally got out when God brought me a sign that there was something better out there. I hope I get another one of those signs soon.

Anyway, I am really battling to take my own advice. My biggest offense as a woman is keeping things past their expiration date. I outgrow situations and people or keep folks around even when they are not useful (i.e., when they begin to do me harm). I'm like a people hoarder. It's ridiculous. I need to throw some of this ish out immediately. It is in the damn way. I feel claustrophobic and constrained by the madness that is these bs people. But somehow when the time comes to get rid of the mess I clam up like those hoarders on tv. It's like I'm so steeped in foolishness that it begins to feel like it belongs there. But any self-respecting and sensible human being could look at the chaos and realize it's time to purge.

So, here I am. Doubtful, insecure and irrational. I have been telling myself that if this person doesn't want me or can't reciprocate all the love I give, then I must not be worth it or something is wrong with me. If this person can't see how fantastic I am, maybe I'm not that great. If this person can't love me knowing my faults and shortcomings, who will. But that's all bull. Even my shortcomings have purpose. Even my frailties are beautiful, only adding to the allure and mystique that are uniquely me.

On the real, these insecurities are creeping up into my work, a space where I always thrive. I am exceptional at what I do whether I am rewarded or acknowledged for it or not. I am still a queen and I am still Divine whether he sees it or not. In fact, if he can't see my divinity then it's very likely that he cannot see his own. That really means that he has no place in my life at all.

His presence is the only remaining thing in my life that makes me unhappy. It would be a sin to let this amazing moment in my life be less joyful because I CHOOSE to keep people in my space that prevent me from fully embracing and celebrating this incredible blessing God has bestowed upon me. That is what I'm most afraid of (squandering my blessings). I am also really afraid that continuing to keep this person in my life is unraveling all the hard work I have done to be the strong, centered, amazing woman that I am. I actually had difficulty coming up with those accurate adjectives to describe myself because I am constantly reminded that I am "difficult," "fine" (as in "okay"), and "good for the moment" in his eyes.

Let me be very clear. I'm a beautiful sister who is intelligent, incredibly caring and loving, generous, committed, and blessed. If I would just pull back from my situation and look at it from a different view I would ask myself "What the hell am I doing? Are you kidding me? Have I seen me? I don't belong here." But I haven't seen me in quite some time. I have been looking at myself through other people's eyes, eyes that are clouded by their own shortsightedness. Oh well. I may be near sighted, but I can damn sure see that I am special; too special to settle for less than the absolute best that God has to offer me- and I know this isn't it). It is not possible that God would deliver me in so many ways and then leave me to deal with this nonsense. It's no way. God would never and has never done that to me. This is not God's gift to me. This is my own foolishness.

That's why it's so important to allow God to fill the spaces in your heart and mind. I could never dream of or conceptualize the blessings that God has in store for me. I don't have the capacity. So, I'm going to get out of my own way and acknowledge the God in me and the way the Divine is working in my life. I'm going trust in myself and my God that I will get what I want in this life. No naysayers have power over me and my life. None but God can stop me and God is moving me forward.

So, peace to the problem people in my life. You have to go. In fact, I have to go. My life is moving forward without you. I love you, but I love me more (and I always will). Even if I forget my worth sometimes, or have to say aloud how spectacular I am, I will not allow you or anyone else to convince me (through your words or actions) that I'm not better than this situation before me. I'm out. Be easy.

God, please come lift me. I'm ready to fly. I'm ready for that big blessing you've been preparing for me. I am remembering who I am and what I'm worth and it won't allow me to settle. I promise to do my part to affirm my awesomeness and I will only surround myself and acknowledge the things and people and experiences that affirm me. Thank you for all that You do in my life. Thank You in advance for the blessing that is my future family and thank You for continuing to order my steps and move me to my destiny. All this we ask in the Divine Order for the Highest Good. Ase'.

Love Always,
Rashida Hiba
(righteous, gift from God)


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Transitions

Dear God,

It's been a really long time since I've written. I should know better than to avoid my obvious anchor, but I've been going through some changes. Now, (of course) we talk every day because I couldn't have made it to this point without you. But there is a huge part of me that has been locked away, hiding from the reality I am facing. I need to write today to let my voice out and tell my truth. I have a long road ahead of me and I need to be at my best in order to navigate my next steps properly.

Well, I finally did it. A little over a month ago I turned in my letter of resignation. I had been thinking about it for a long time. I was doing well on the job, but internally I was struggling with lots of things about the work. I hadn't been happy at work for a long time and that's where I spent most of my time. I prayed on this situation for quite some time. Many days I drove to work with my stomach in knots. I knew this wasn't my destiny, but what could I do?

I searched for work and found very few things that sparked my interest or matched my level of experience. I also knew I wouldn't "jump out of the pan into the fire" just to have another "job." I reminded myself that I earned my doctorate so I wouldn't have to continue working on others' dreams, but rather so I could pursue my own dreams. Problem was (and still is), I can't really name my dreams. I am the queen of vision boards, facilitate workshops on them, and yet my vision for my future is blurry. Honestly, all the things I've wanted to do seemed unattainable. But I would never know if I stayed put. I knew I needed to give myself the time, mental energy, and chance to discover what I want for myself. It's high time I honor my gifts and my needs and desires. So, that's what I'm doing.

That day, about six weeks ago, I was sitting in my office filled with anxiety. I was miserable and it was impacting me physically. I remember being at a staff meeting and just walking out a week prior. I had an anxiety attack and no one knew. I walked the block and called my parents and said "I have to quit! I can't do this anymore." Both of my parents supported me in my decision. So, that day when I felt my emotional baggage impacting my physical wellness I said "Not again. No more!" I walked in my office, played Keyshia Cole's "Let it Go" and I wrote my letter of resignation. I had no idea where I was going or what I would do, but I knew it was time. When I handed that letter to my boss, I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. Even with the stress of not knowing what I would do next, I felt relieved to know that my dissatisfaction with my current situation was coming to an end.

I drove to work with my girls at my rites of passage program, Project Butterfly New Orleans, and I knew I'd done the right thing. I was fully present for them and consequently, present for myself. My eyes were wide open and I could begin to see the possibilities. All the things I've been teaching them became real for me at that moment. I could feel my life turning around the moment I put trust in God and myself.

So, what's next? Well, I'm making changes in all facets of my life. In the next week my daughter will be moving out and on to Texas to pursue her next steps now that she's graduated from Dillard University (go Tai!). I will once again be riding solo at the crib, forcing me to reflect deeply and spend more time focusing on myself. Next, I am slowing down with all my work. To prepare for my transition, I worked five jobs (one full time and four part-time). I have been extremely tied up with work and almost every day has been filled, including weekends. I now have three jobs. I'm teaching part-time at the University of New Orleans, I'm the project director for an international study (they're taking me to South Africa in January!), and I'm working as the project director for Girl Up NOLA, a new initiative spearheaded by First Lady, Cheryl Landrieu to support girls in the city of New Orleans.

I can't even believe I am doing all these things. I am so passionate about each of these areas. I am fortunate to be able to do the things I love and get paid for it. I know opportunities abound, and I am open to whatever God intends for me to do. I am readying myself for my Divine Work and God's Divine Plan for me. I am committing myself to my overall well-being and happiness, and I'm only spending my time and energy on things that feed me. So, there you have it. My future is uncertain to some degree, but I AM certain that I will be fine (Actually better than fine). I will thrive!

Thank you for indulging me, God. I needed to tell you the truth. I still wake up feeling anxiety, but never regret. I am working on building my faith stronger so I can eliminate all this fear in my life. I know it's not real. And I am also building my courage so I can stand stronger and firmer in my values and in self-love. There are still a few things and people who need to go in my life. I know I'm closer to doing that, but I need to build up my faith so I can believe something better is on the horizon. That's real. I've seen what You can do when I have faith. That should be enough. I know it's ridiculous that somehow I need more assurance than what you've given me my whole life. I've never really been alone. You've always been there, guiding me and protecting me. What am I thinking?

Anyway, as I take this next step, God, I ask that you cover me and protect me. Please give me all the faith, commitment and belief in self and You to go for it! Please continue to bless me with reminders and lessons to keep me on my path and please let me be a blessing to others. Please don't let me fall, and meet all my needs so I am well physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially and in all other facets of my life. I know I am rightly guided so I know I am moving in accordance with Your Will. Please don't let me forget that for one minute. I also ask that you bless those around me and help me contribute to the betterment of my community and especially the healing of hearts (starting with mine). All this we ask in the Divine Order for the Highest Good. Ase'

Love,
Rashida Hiba

P.S.-Thanks in advance for answering my prayers.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Protect Black Boys

Dear God,

I continue to be troubled by the murder of black boys in our communities. It feels like we're sending black boys into the world with targets on their backs. If it's not young brothers killing each other, it's police and other vigilantes bringing them harm. I am deeply troubled because I am not emoting at all. I am definitely angry, sad and concerned, but I'm unable to express it. The Trayvon Martin murder is outrageous enough. Add to that, in the last few weeks, the NOPD has murdered several unarmed, young brothers. I am really disappointed that I'm not more alarmed. It's almost as if I expect it. I have many black boys and men in my life who are my loved ones including my students, father, godchildren, uncles, cousins, friends, companions, co-workers, etc. and I fear for their lives daily. The birth of black boys should be a celebration, but often it generates the sentiment, "how can I protect him" for parents. That's an awful existence for any human being. Anyway, I am moved to action and will continue working on this project with young brothers in the city. Hopefully, telling their own story will bring to light the impact of the awareness of their endangered status has on black boys.

Love You Always,
Rashida