I have been excavating other ways of being lately. Other ways of being together too. Other ways to imagine interior lives seldom shared. This unending murmur is part of the noise I narrate. Of motherhood, for example, for mother’s that are black, mothers in academia, mothers with little children, mothers finding themselves still, while being nurturing, as we navigate this space we find nourishing, note-worthy too.

Sometimes, my desire to write about my experience is clear. Inspirations come from all angles too. Like my children, or flowers, like Dahlias and their thick opulent petals, that unfurl, ever so softly with every swirl.

Sometimes, I am moved by the scent of life, the power of meaningful experiences etched in my memories. Like my baby’s first crawl, or his first steps. His first words too, in repetition, over and over again, like da da, or ma ma, unlocks feelings that I have to air in some way, of the multitude of ways learning with life occurs, especially when you stop and kiss the ground, like babies do when crawling or walking.

Sometimes the words come to me, like a whisper. I am obedient to the power of language. Words are supposed to be useful, supposed to move you. So I listen, and dig deeper, down to the hole where the message resides, where the sightings of water, like in a deep well, becomes clear. I listen to tell you about this interior life, full of knowledge that flows through me with words I put together. Though I have no time to tell you everything, I am an overflowing oasis, open and obedient to opportunities, that are opulent, like Savannahs after rain, opportunities that offer to help me move onward in ways that are truly outstanding. So we move and organize possibilities way beyond our abilities. The sound and action of all the possibilities I have, my silence transformed to action, my survival taught as strategies, my stories in the making, those told and still formulating, all of them is so you hear me differently, see me differently too, beyond the spaces you choose or the mirrors you use to shape what you think I am becoming. I need not respond to anything. For my fears are not new, they are not old, even though they are not told.

This constant state of remaking, restorying too, is so you see and feel the story I am becoming. The stretching of my mind, the injection of creativity, of flowers and birds, of trees, and their hidden stories, all help to tell the stories that rally, stories that sustain, stories that oppose all you think about black mothers in light. To be one, to become one, to clear the path towards light, in the middle of darkness is an audacious task. Even if what I write, what I say only touches your soul one time, I have won. For to transform this silence, to use words to bring it out, and pour it in a space, not constrained by others is transformative. I am transformed in process. You are too.

Hence the purpose of this keep. To help you, me, express what I already know but may fail to say. That to be silenced is not without voice. To lack funds to is not without will. There is a way. Another path exists, however muted the path you wanted may seem today. The potential for light, the potential to rise from darkness to light resides in you. It is in you and always has. So keep rising. Your words, your light is the first opening of possibilities. You are important. You are valuable. Your light is inevitable. Keep creating art and words with your life.

Dahlias are intense flowers like mother.

A league on their own, each petal is a colorful ray, of doubled flowers, in yellow or purple-ray florets, whites, ivories, and scarlet rays too. All in multiple whorls of ray flowers, all forming circles, forming clusters, forming bunches so compact, that it can only be described as motherhood. Dahlias are like mothers to me, so intense is the experience to me.

Their golden round and its countless petals, are like countless stars, that circle my being, with a stillness, so formless, so nameless, and so restless. The sighting of Dahlias are like mothers on days things are barely fathomless, days things are formless, even days we feel so flawless.

Dahlias indeed are stars. The blind see nothing. Both those who see, open their hearts. Their minds too open. To a stillness that is forever dazzling, forever haunting, each glimpse, forever brilliant, forever etched in memories as with days forever mesmerizing or days forever feeling helpless, or forever full of deep thoughts, that maybe forever inspiring while at the same time, make your feel forever dreamless, until moments become once more forever captivating, forever full of passion, in the midst of wild terrains that are forever demanding, even as you stay forever looking, yet feel like everything is forever in vain. Dahlias and their intricate whorls are forever full of surprises with every whorl which summarizes all that motherhood forever epitomizes.

The mere sightings of Dahlias galvanizes you to become one with all you desire, all you despise, all you disguise, even all you downsize as your journey from your base to your inner interior, the space where you hide your deepest desires, first for you, the place where all your dreams resides, all for you.

I have been there before. Of feeling lost, yet finding myself, of knowing how to proceed, yet loosing my way, but everything slowly making sense once my eyes greeted Dahlias.

Time stood still for Dahlias. They invite you in, invade your being, demand that you literally stop to recognize them, greet them, with all you possess, all within your power to soar as you devise ways to harmonize being one with your inner strength, one with this intricate flower. This is what Dahlias are known for. An inner strength so haunting, that you may fail to recognize the moment you give your self away to all the flower symbolizes. You may have been here before. Every time your eyes meet Dahlias. The sighting burrows deep in your soul. Like the soft kiss of a breeze. Dahlia’s kiss are forever captivating, forever etched in memories, that are forever lasting.

Yellow Dahlias gently kissed me while taking my baby to his daycare this week. Red ones too, ushered a tenderness so divine, gently caressing my restless heart, like fine wine. Slowly, I pressed forward, running out of excuses to delay this moment. He was supposed to start last week. It was his first time, and my heart and speech where rambling in chaos. Even though this was the day we have been waiting for.

I have been here before, with three other children. But something about baby number 4 made me nervous, made our day restless. Nothing was packed properly. Not his snack, not his water bottle, not his bag. Nothing was labeled properly either, not his diapers, not his wipes, not his bag. I should be happy. I should be pleased. No troubled mind, no demanding time. No breastfeeding, not restless feeding. Finally, all my children will be out of the house. Finally, all time, would be mine to claim. Sleep too. Yet, I was restless, nervous too. I fought through pain, until Dahlias met my eyes. With their sweet embrace, they encircled my being, forcing me to rise, to open to the sweet tenderness of this moment. Like the warmth of deep blue skies, I opened to their sweet embrace.

These are some of the secrets that I tend to keep hidden until now. Tend to ignore, dismiss too, until now. Stopping to recognize the power of opening up, was the gift I got from Dahlias. That and letting go. Of all the pains and joys of motherhood. The hopes and dreams we have that slowly dissipate, when we put others first. Slowly die, when we fail to put ourselves first. Even when we give our children the will to fly. We forget to fly too, afraid we will fall. I should be happy. I told myself 100 times, it will be okay. I knew this. We have been here before. Letting go, was painful. Unleashing a power, that made me rethink this moment, this freedom, this time that I knew would come one day. All children have to grow up. My baby, my last born, the one I bore during the pandemic was slowly walking to embrace all that life has to offer. I should be happy. Yet I felt lost.

I was lost, until Dahlia found me.

I was lost in its petals. This ethereal beauty, filled my restless soul with ease. Our greeting was gentle, a soulful ease. Like lovers we caressed each other, gently took hold of each other. With stillness so profound, so earth shaking. Time stood still, and Dahlias held me captive. We held on to each other. Afraid to blink, our eyes remain captivated by each other. Letting him go became easy. Watching him go with such reverence, became easy. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and caught him as he looked back. I saw something. Movements he initiated. Eyes locked with mine. As if to say are you coming. I am, always and forever, behind you, looking at you, loving you, captivated by you, inspired too by you, my baby, even as your journey through this world, through life. Keep Dahlia’s in mind for your journey through motherhood.

An entourage went with him to daycare on day 1 by the way. Here he walks forward to life.
Here he looks back! I’m behind you always!

My mental health is my priority always. I learnt that the hard way when others and their state of mind almost subsumed mine. I chose me. I am pleased and applaud Simone Biles for choosing herself too. I think there is no other black young woman that personifies visually what audacity truly entails. She tells a visual story of being young, gifted, and black with grace and triumph at time when the wisdom, the strength, even the perseverance of black and brown people, our young girls in particular are under assault. Simone Biles rises above them all and will forever be one of the great players that ever graced us with her human capacity to fly. And she is brilliantly flying, soaring above us all even these moments when becoming, fulfilling, living, is her bull’s eye. She is on target.

Simone Biles

I remember watching one of her daring moves in the air recently. She was as flawless as a glistening moon on an equally flawless evening. Every land, every turn, every single move was divine. Every split in the air equally sublime. To think she is only 24 keeps me in awe of her audacity to defy and surprise every single inch of her design with every incline. She is audacity personified. Something we mere mortals will never truly understand, how she dares to align herself with things as distal as the sky and its lines. She gives flights to our hopes, our timeless desires to remain hopeful in a state where being full of hope is a quest long denied to children born out of hope. Her staying power will remain long after she steps out of the limelight. She will still delight, still defy, still be as distal as skylines. She is more than a gymnast, more like a national treasure who glory will forever last.

Things that combine intellect and instinct are rare. They are like a string bean. Tall, but compact, yet full of insights that would make you green. Their seeds are not only clean, but desirable and plump in pods that are always ready for transportation, transformation too. That everything that combines intellect and instinct will under favorable conditions develop into something worthy of praises, with desirable qualities worthy of embracing, emulating even, is my keep for today. Radiant Health Magazine with its fruitful marriage of intellect and instinct is a rare magazine.

I personally know the Editor in Chief. So I can see why some may think that I write these words to please her. On the contrary, despite being in production for seven years, despite knowing all her struggles, all her resilience, I never bought a copy until 3 weeks ago. I am her biggest supporter, but I didn’t include my finances into all her hardwork until recently. Granted, it was a motherhood issue. If you have being following my blog, you will know I have a soft spot for all things black and motherhood, especially things that highlight our possibilities and not our deficits, things that combine our intellect and instinct with sweetness and tenderness worthy of praises. Her motherhood issue turned me into a firm believer and subscriber. Over 184 pages in premium silk paper. Let me repeat that again, paper made with premium silk materials adorn the pages of Radiant Health Magazine.

Ben Okri once described resilience as being weird, with a future bristling with possibilities. And when you heal from the process, when tomorrow comes and you flower and bear fruit, like a Savannah after rain, you will amaze. Radiant Magazine is like a rain-filled Savannah. All it brings into being, possibilities, philosophies, motherhood, or even self-care, are unexpected gifts that keep giving long after one issue is closed and another begins. It’s combination of intellect and instinct transcends the limitations we impose on the possibilities of health for black women by black women. There is always something beautiful, there is always something vulnerable, there is always something straight-up, all spoken with an eloquent grace, tailor-made to soothe all aches black women face like a restorative balm. Grab a copy for yourself to see and feel what I mean.

Let me close with this, James Baldwin once said that the precise role of an artist, is to ‘blaze roads through a vast forest.’ Audre Lorde said something similar about the necessity to ‘journey towards a deeper self, to express the power of our knowledge and experience, as we find the courage to tell the truth.’ ‘To become more appealing and rewarding with every reading, always starting new ripples of significance’ is what Chinua Achebe described as the hallmark of work with a heightened sense of life. While Adrienne Rich would suggest that ‘as women, we have our work cut out for us if we are to usher the possibilities of change from a Western male-dominated world.’

Radiant Health Magazine is blazing roads as it makes its purpose known one issue at a time. It pulls us all in, probing deeper and deeper to help us rediscover and know the meaning of our journey as women, black women, and our discerning self, our intersectional selves too. The special gifts are the combination of intellect and instinct, a combination so deft that the outcome is a haunting beauty that resonates with clarity. You keep taking good care to ensure that black women are not invisible, that we are not silent, that we are not ignored, that we are not dismissed, that we are not forgotten. Your vision is clear, like a fine crystal glass that is equally sterling. Keep being dedicated to the discerning black woman, keep accelerating knowledge of her ways, her being, keep illuminating paths to her wellness, her health, her beauty, her culture. You do it so well, that all I can say is keep being Radiant. I applaud you!

We come home to ourselves. Our realized desiring selves. We also come home to spaces that are loving, spaces that are giving, spaces that are nurturing, spaces full of awareness, spaces that enable looking. Of all these spaces, looking is my keep for today.

Bell Hooks once described a power in looking. A power also with choosing to stop looking. She described it as a gesture of resistance. And when you return to looking, when you return after turning away, an oppositional gaze emerges. I am in this space, these days.

Not to be confrontational or difficult or even disrespectful, I am finally understanding the pleasure of saying no. I understand now what it means to say no to structures which had asked so much from me when I assumed a posture of subordination. Saying no is a radical gift that I gift myself these days, a gift that I use to nurture and protect me.

In the past, I was the first with ideas. I still am in circles that value my intellect. I was the first to say yes, to give myself fully to such spaces because we were all fighting the same beast. The truth is, our battle was personal and we wanted to come out victorious and unharmed. Until the fight turns on you. Until you realize you are now the beast and your head is on the chopping block. Hence why looking becomes critical.

Bell Hooks described this as having an oppositional gaze. Mainstream research circles in no way acknowledges that black women can thrive on their own. You don’t have to ask me, just do a quick search on who gets funded and you will see that they are not black or female. Look also at those in power in whatever space you find yourself in and again, whether at a grocery store or at a hospital, chances are that your leader isn’t black or female.

It’s for this reason that an oppositional gaze becomes vital, viral even if you are black and female.

Mainstream circles will remain ‘aggressively silent on the subject of blackness and representations of black womanhood,’ noted Bell Hooks. Many disallow the ‘possibilities of spaces, places even that include black women’s voices. It is also difficult to talk when you feel no one is listening, when you feel a special narrative has been created that only the chosen can understand’ she states. Yesterday, I was in such a space.

I know I shouldn’t be using this medium to air personal grievances. But I want growth and I need to continually gift myself the freedom to just say no to spaces that fail to enable me to discover or uncover all that I have. I did that internally, silently too when demands were asked. Not because I could not speak, but because it is difficult to speak when no one is listening. It’s is also difficult to speak when you are not valued.

So I stayed mute and looked. I stayed mute and applied Bell Hook’s oppositional gaze. I shared my thoughts with friends and they said, staying mute doesn’t help you grow. I disagreed. It helps me. That’s all that matters these days.

After going through this pandemic (we are still in it too), after going through moments of chaos with homeschooling, moments of stress with raising children, all I want these days are moments of healing for myself.

Even though silence will not protect me, and Ms. Lorde would want for me to transform it to action, I am, but for myself. I am learning to say no for myself first. This gesture protects me from whatever they think they have in store for me. I say yes always and all the time to spaces worthy of my yes. I say yes to spaces and people that know my worth.

I keep learning this every day. The power of saying no, the power of saying yes. It’s mine to gift first, to spaces that nurture and protect me. Spaces unafraid to affirm my subjectivity. My yes these days belong to people that are not afraid to hear me speak. People that know that my words are just that, words, with no desire to harm but to help them grow. People that don’t make me speechless. I was not born to be speechless.

This power that I gift myself, this power of oppositional gaze is to protect myself for the violence perpetuated and advocated in spaces that would rather I stifle my growth. And if I describe it as violence, it’s because this is still a battle, and the goal remains being victorious and unharmed. Writing in this way, about the power of oppositional gaze, makes my healing possible. I am also learning that there is more to looking. Keep it for yourself, especially in spaces where you gift yourself the power of saying no.

I said what the f…k today. I rarely curse and not in writing. I get it. Space matters. So does money. Being rich is a privilege. And yes you have the right to spend your hard earned money however you like.

So I woke up cheering for you, cheering for your blue origins, cheering for your space exploration, cheering for this defining moment. My son loves space. I showed him New Shepard as it made it way up to space and back down to earth. I clapped for humanity. I clapped for you. This is no small feat.

Our ways are truly inspiring. The fact that we can reach for space is astounding. So too is the audacity. I mean who can say they have ever been out of space. They have ever even been outside earth. So I applauded the feat. The next generation is off to a great start. A pandemic, check. Space tourism, check. Billionaires and their friend paving the way, check.

But then it dawned on me. It’s only for people that do not look like me. As in, for now space is out of limits for black and brown folks, and especially black women like me. We have also been here before. We have been out of spaces and places that would rather we put our faces to the ground rather than set it up boldly to uncover all that makes us graceful.

And we are graceful. It’s in our stride. Black women in stride are as graceful as wombs that gave birth to you. We are life givers, culture bearers, truth tellers, storytellers, eloquent ragers, with divine crowns that are stunning for every wearer. We are also blessed beyond these words we use to speak to you. That’s the power of a black woman’s stride. The power of one who knows the significance of her stride.

We are born to thrive even when places reject our audacity to step ahead of any race. Our audacity to be graceful. But we are audacious. It’s in our stride. Have you ever since the way we embrace storms that showcase our ability to harness that which was meant to displace us, even embarrass us?

We literally embrace storms with grace.

We are also always ready to tie up our shoe lace and run whatever race we find ourselves in at the sound of any chase. His grace is always sufficient for any race.

And our race, the way our feet embraces the earth, with every pace in place is so full of grace. We run our race in a stride that would make others retrace their own pace. To see a black woman run, so swiftly like a gazelle is too bless God for being our hiding place. He knew what he was doing when he created us to literally bare his face.

Hence why I was so confused watching a man give $100 million to another for simply being courageous and civil. To whom I ask? For what? You have $100 million to spare and you give it to men?

If invisibility was a cloak, it was used on black women today. The very same day humanity took a space tourism flight. The very same day humanity walked on moon years ago. This was also the day humanity choose to keep the faces of black women invisible. Our graceful faces.

I am reclaiming this narrative for own good and for all the other brown and black little girls that need to tie up their shoe laces and run their own race in stride. We can use stories to rightfully ask for our place in space. Like why are there no black women on this space race or giving race? Why do we still lack representation in moments where time seems to stop for outer spaces and other races? Does my sass really, really offend you? Or is it truly the curve of my back? Why do you choose to render us invisible?

A black woman in stride. Reclaiming the narrative is even for their outer spaces.

Our invisibility in spaces we did not create is appalling and I don’t blame anyone. Not even us. We are in the trenches afterall, doing all the work we need to do for our people with grace. The fact that we are never seen, never praised, never taken to outer space and never embraced in minds and souls makes me feel like like illuminating this our graceful invisibility for good, with precision and clarity.

I know whose I am and I will tell my story, our story with grace. I shutter at this thought not because I want your money or even to sit on your spaces. I know that I am not invited to places that would rather I hide my face rather that arch my back with grace. I am graceful after all and it’s your space. So I don’t want your embrace. I would rather build my own space. My own brown girl dreaming is to turn places and spaces into things that nourish our being, our shared humanity.

I shudder because you continue to deny yourselves the ability to live in our stride, live in our grace, live in spaces and places that desperately need our sense of clarity, our precise understanding of what needs to happen now for the whole humanity. I shudder because your world isn’t illuminated by our grace.

Which is why I ask what if black women ruled the world? Just what if we were at your tables, your homes, your schools, your offices, your agencies, your institutions, your structures, however oppressive and suffocating you have made them all to be for me.

What if black women were better represented and at the table to speak from our heart and soul of places in need of light, our light, our heart, our soul, whether outer space or in places where our grace remains hidden.

We are graceful after all like gazelle. What if I told the story of our graceful stride? Ohh what a sassy stride we will take if only we ruled the world, if only we illuminated your outer spaces with grace.

When generations look back at the history of this nation, they will ask questions? Like why is the story of this country so incomplete? Why do we know so little of what it truly meant to be enslaved? Or why did it take 156 years for us make Juneteenth a holiday? They will also ask tough questions too? Like why were people so scared of critical race theory? Or why were black women absent in leadership spaces in academia? Or better yet, why did they leave academia? Of course only time will tell, how our generation chooses to answer these questions but for today I want to dwell on excellence. That’s the story I want to leave for generations to come.

That the black women who remained focused on being excellent. Even those that left did the same. We did so knowing that our efforts may not be praised or celebrated. We did so staying true to our vision, our sanity, and what matters first to us. We did so lifting others as we climbed. We did so because we knew that through us, our humanity, our presence will reverberate for generations to come. We did so knowing that our lives, and those of our children’ children matter. Which is why I want to keep Clef Club in mind for any woman, black woman in academia today.

In 1912 James Reese Europe (what a name by the way) and his Clef Club orchestra made musical history by performing at Carnegie Hall on the 12th of May. It was a remarkable orchestra raved the critics. One splendid in its rhythm, swing, power and singing of its gifted members. Their goals: ‘to preserve music of the Colored Race,’ the only musical production led by Black people at that time. Not only were they bold, the choose to be daring at a time when there were no others. That’s how I liken being black and a woman in academia. You are bold. Chances are you will go along this journey alone. As you go, be daring in your swing and temperament. Do everything with pride knowing you are a leader, an innovator and you will doubtless grow to become the necessary light destined to lead people to higher grounds. Your boldness will transform lives. Clef Club did so in 1912 against all odds. You can do it today you bold and beautiful black woman in academia. ( Ref; The Black Book).

James Reese Europe and Clef Club. (Picture courtesy The Black Book).

Pandemic hair. It’s a thing. And for many people, it’s personal. Full of stories. Some that are cringe worthy. Some that are truly part of this moment we find ourselves in, even grounded in the need for an anti-racist lens. My family has it own story too. Early in the pandemic, around this time last year, my daughter had the grand idea that cutting her own hair would be fun. So she did what most kids her age do, grabbed a scissor and trimmed the front of her hair. We have since spent a year trying our best to get the front grow back out and it has. My own story is well messy. I basically gave up on my own hair. Not only did I not regularly shampoo or even condition my hair, if I am being honest, I simply didn’t care for it. I figured if I was going to be home anyways why bother. So I pat my hair into 3 and gave myself 3 braids, a stocking cap and a wig. I spent the year falling in love with all sorts of wigs and pretended I didn’t have actual hair. Fast forward to yesterday. A moment of reckoning. I faced my hair for the first time in a year.

My pandemic hair!

My hair must have been disappointed in me as I was disappointed in me as well. I booked an appointment at the Paul Mitchell school for my daughter and myself. We both needed a proper iron work and a hair cut. Something about going to this school brings a smile to my face always. Maybe it’s because of the many young women of color that I come across as students. Many just starting their journey through figuring life on their own terms. Others, in need of something else, something different, for themselves, their families, and on their time. I met one such brilliant young woman yesterday. Not only does she work as a mail-carrier, gets up 4am in the morning everyday by the way for her regular job, she also manages to find the time to come to school all while not being home to her seven year old son, her crown, her reason for being. Her support system is excellent though, especially with one of her aunt who promised to give her shop to her once she gets her license. I asked why not something else, why hair. She emphatically restated why not hair. She loves doing hair, has always loved to do hair, just needs the license now to set herself up for the future on her own time. I was proud. It’s for women like her that I gladly patronize the school.

My phenomenal black hairstylist for the day!

So we set out to do magic to my hair. I apologized profusely as I knew she would be so disappointed in me. I was disappointed in myself too. She used the best Paul Mitchell products on my hair, and spent close to 30 minutes removing so many tangles. It’s like I was receiving a new birth. Untangling myself from the tensions and stress caused by the pandemic all from a hair therapy. She intuitively knew what my hair needed and my soul was full. By the time she was through with my hair, what I felt was dead to me, came alive for the first time in over a year. If my hair could speak, it would say a vote of thanks to her for a job well done. I wish this is where the story ended. But it isn’t.

Her magic hours (yes hours) later!

My daughter’s experience was something else. This was the first time at the school and well, it didn’t go as planned. For starters it began with some that, well never handled black hair before. It went downhill from there. I didn’t mind at first because the teacher in me felt the need to give her a chance to learn. She didn’t seize the opportunity. It’s been said that black people are forever willing to give others a chance but others never really try. So I’m learning now to trust people to be and see them for who they are. Those willing to try will show themselves for who they are too. My daughter’s learner didn’t. It took close to 4 people to try to get my daughter the treatment she deserved and when all else failed, my own learner came to the rescue once she finished my hair.

Sis tried to teach fellow learner!

Being anti-racist has signs that imitate actions. These signs are a representation of who we are and they society we want to live in. These signs are also the basis and the process of how we choose to evolve as a group. They are inseparable from ourselves and if we choose to live in an anti-racist world, trying is not an option. I learnt that yesterday at a hair school of all places. It’s my keep for today. We don’t need those willing to try. We need people ready to stand in the gaps to demand an end to racism in all forms and manner and especially from the hair follicles down to the soles of our feet. I made the mistake of trying yesterday to be open. It cost my daughter unnecessary stress that we black people endure only to find strength in ourselves. I’m done doing that. I will still return to the school but I know who I’m booking with next time. No use pretending we are all in this together. Some of us have life goals worth celebrating at the school and for them I’ll be back. Keep an anti-racist lens even with black hair.

When Sis took over!

As I type this, I am sleepy. Tired too. I almost didn’t write today. I let work and all it’s intricacies take control. I am writing now given the commitment I made to myself. That I would write not only in joy but also in pain. Not just when alert, but also when sleepy.

Bell Hooks once shared in her book Sisters of the Yam, that when we speak the truth of our lives, we begin to heal. Telling the truth, a flat-footed one, as Patricia Bell Scott would suggest, is a crucial step in any process of self-recovery. Telling the truth releases the burden of hiding. Telling the truth helps to shape and determine my destiny. Telling the truth keeps me alert. It’s also a reminder of the powers that lie deep within me and a commitment to honor that power. And so writing has become a space where my truths are uncovered, where my feelings are expressed, and my thoughts are listened too.

Writing for me is also a place of hope. An intense one. It’s the one place I am free to be myself. Free to touch my core self. Free to let it be. Free to let it move as I want. Free to let it speak as it feels. Writing is hope for me. A space where my soul is restored, where my mind is recovered, where my being is redeemed even while sleepy. Keep telling your truth.

My middle name is Isioma. It’s what I am called within my inner circle and family. It’s from my Igbo language. ‘Isi’ literally means head, symbolic of one’s aura and destiny, while ‘oma’ means good. Isioma, then put together means- one with good head on their shoulders and a good destiny. I have always wondered why I was given such a name at birth. It’s true meaning evades me at times. The idea of one’s name being their destiny is not only inspiring but can be overwhelming. So to are concepts of gender as a black woman in the US. That we are inspiring is often invisible, hidden or ignored, even though many of us are. Rather, what overwhelms mainstream discussions is our inferiority or ignorance, our marginalization or disempowerment. Yet concepts of gender, like our names, are critical not only for black women’s identity but also for the spaces that support and empower our existence.

Isioma in all her glory!

Gender for example in Igbo thought, meant girls named Isioma, have a strong place within the society. Not only were we destined to be knowledgeable from birth, but our parents and ancestors knew for the beginning that learning, studying, even the gift of gab or ability to persuade others effortlessly would be our portion if we followed our ‘chi,’ our guide in Igbo cosmology. Our name is quite literally our destiny, with knowledge, intellect, placed at the center of our existence from the beginning. Therein lies the dignity of my existence, one placed on me from birth and not dictated by society. Before I crawled or walked the earth, before I spoke words or understood what they meant, my family radically saw me. They reoriented their consciousness to prescribe what they felt should be my guide through life, my desire. They informed me of my dignity, my knowledge, my intellect, long before society had a say in how I would describe or defend myself. What is in a name? With a name like Isioma, everything.

My name gave me permission to see myself as my people first saw and continue to see me. My name allows me to write, to tell the story of myself, and by so doing, my history. My name forces me to put words together, to uncover deeply buried ideas from my past, to tell the history and story of being a woman, to radically break the silence on what it means to be an Igbo woman, a black woman. The task of living out my name is one this blog fosters for me on a daily basis. I am propelled to pen my existence because my existence knew I would do so from the beginning. My existence knew I would work to push boundaries, forge new avenues, agitate or resist ideas, especially racist ones that seek to define my being. Racist ideas based on Western, Eurocentric standards of being, are and continue to remain antithetical to what I am destined to become. And my name set out to guide my understanding of self, long before the world had any say. That in essence is the power of one’s name, one’s destiny. Keep ‘Isioma’ in mind whenever you think of your unique journey through life. It has been and continues to remain my guide.