by James Horton on December 1
As the story has been told, sixty-one years ago today, a Thursday, Rosa Parks, a tailor’s assistant at the Montgomery department store, left work in the late, cold evening, to catch the bus home. Sore and tired, Parks boarded and took an aisle seat, in the row immediately behind the whites only section. At each stop, more passengers boarded, until finally every seat was taken, leaving one white male standing. It was the era of Old Jim Crow, blacks were a class of lives that Segregation customs in 1955 Montgomery stipulated that Blacks must relinquish their seats to whites when the situation is required. This was a situation. When Parks, however, was asked to give up her seat, she did the opposite of what was required. She kept seated.
She proudly stepped into criminal terrain where she was arrested and jailed. Her calm labor pains, so the story goes, birthed a boycott, a movement, and a young Martin Luther King, Jr. to the world.
Today is Rosa Parks Day. (Well, technically speaking, two days are set aside to observe Mrs. Parks. One on Dec. 1, the other on Feb 4, her birthday) After facing such a pivotal election, I want to honor the occasion by inviting everyone to reconsider the scope of history we’ve faced.
Rosa Parks was the result of ancestors, and her ancestors the work generations before her. She was the product of the communal frustration that had been churning in black southerners since the end of Reconstruction; of scarred slaves and apprehensive free persons who had spent their lifetime fighting and dying for the great cause of human equity for black lives and, by extension, all lives. Many of their names are lost to time. Her life WAS activism, and for that reason on December 1955, we can never forget Rosa Parks Day!
On Friday, July 22, 2016 Get Smart B4 U Get Sexy partnered with UCLA to facilitate a sexual health and healthy relationship workshop entitled All Da Game: Tools to See Through Smooth Talking for twenty-six eleventh graders. During the workshop we discussed sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptive methods and the ingredients of healthy and unhealthy relationships.
The goal of this workshop was to dispel myths around sexual health and contraception and to empower the students to be able to tell the difference between smooth talking and the truth. We made the workshop fun and lively by using current memes as a guiding force in our presentation
The text in each meme was a common bedroom “line”. For example, hasty partners might say “condoms don’t expire” when they only have an old condom left in their wallet. Or another partner might claim that ‘lambskin condoms feel better and are just like real condoms’. In the heat of the moment it might be hard to distinguish a myth like this from fact without Google’s help.
The goal of this workshop was to dispel myths around sexual health and contraception and to empower the students to be able to tell the difference between smooth talking and the truth. We made the workshop fun and lively by using current memes as a guiding force in our presentation. The text in each meme was a common bedroom “line”. For example, hasty partners might say “condoms don’t expire” when they only have an old condom left in their wallet. Or another partner might claim that ‘lambskin condoms feel better and are just like real condoms’. In the heat of the moment it might be hard to distinguish a myth like this from fact without Google’s help.
To learn more about our workshop or how we can come to your school contact our Outreach Coordinator at Lasheabwwla@gmail.com.
I don’t know about you but i’ve felt sad, overwhelmed and anxious these past few days. This could be because there are videos of innocent Black men being executed on my Facebook newsfeed or it could be the ominous feeling that I always have…waiting for the next hashtag… waiting to hear that another Black man or woman has been executed by an officer and nothing will be done about it. This type of grief can be short term or chronic. Nonetheless, we must find ways to process it. There are seven stages of grief: 1. Shock/Disbelief 2. Denial 3. Anger 4. Bargaining 5. Guilt 6. Depression 7. Acceptance/Hope.
This week at Sisters of the Yam we focused on grief and identified the places in our lives where we are grieving, and the places inside us where there is perpetual grief. We identified the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that let us know we are in a particular stage of grief. For instance, some women stated that they knew that they were in stage 2: denial when they started to distract themselves or tune out/disassociate.
In many ways our grief becomes an unconscious habit. This exercise asked participants to become more conscious of the way we move through sadness, as it shows the way we move toward healing.
We ended up seeing that our ways of moving through grief didn’t always make us feel amazing or nourished. We also identified the stages of grief we often get stuck in. Some of us stay angry. Some of us stay depressed. It is important to know that these are all steps to healing. All coming closer to acceptance and hope.
Afterwards, we all made custom designed grieving plans. We asked ourselves, in ideal circumstances how would we move through our sadness, restlessness and anger? For instance, if we have the urge to lay in bed all day long because we feel depressed, how else might we honor that lack of energy. Could we take a long bath, instead of sleeping all day, as an act of self care and soak till the water gets cold. After brainstorming for a while we each shared our plans for grieving consciously.
Look on the site to see our 7 stages of grieving chart and check out our “conscious grieving plans” here:
Valuing ourselves is a key ingredient in any relationship.
When we value ourselves, we believe we deserve respect, kindness and honesty. We must know this when entering a relationship. If we don’t know this when we enter a relationship, it is easy to believe we just got “lucky,” or that we hit the jackpot by finding a person to love us. But that is not the truth, you are valuable with or without a date, partner or boo. And when you do find someone, their love and affection is a response to who You are…not what you can give sexually, financially or emotionally.
We must learn to balance the love we have for ourselves with the love we have for our partners.
I crawled into his embrace as I tried to think of us as something normal.
But in fact we weren’t even an “us” – a couple, partners or some form of a unit. We only lived in the moment together; casual friends who also happened to move together in similar and different ways through breathing, friction and moans. We didn’t have sex all the time but when we did either one of us would leave afterwards to return home, or depending on how tired we were, we would make room for the other in the bed that we had just fooled around in. On this particular night I felt more and wanted there to be more between us but knew that this fantasy could not be a reality because there was nothing more at hand. I had already been objectified, rejected for someone else by this person, but somehow every 3 months there was a text, an invitation or a social media conversation that had us right back at square one – hanging out again as new friends, getting to know each other and maybe eventually we would find ourselves in a passionate “friends with benefits” kiss.
He had told me “Damn, I have been messing around with white girls for too long; Black girls are the real deal.” I felt flattered by his compliment and it was great to have an attractive brotha-who-should-be-dating-the-sistahs acknowledge that he wasn’t giving us any love, but in the end he was only using me and my body for an exchange – for him to feel pleasure without any real commitment to me or my feelings. I thought that after this comment he would choose me, but his idea of love and relationships was only reserved for someone or something else and I was left in the shadows. After a night of hooking up and me initiating a conversation about relationships and him addressing that he wasn’t ready for one, I laid back in bed thinking that he needed space and that I was being respectful by accepting and acknowledging his needs. However, when I invited him to hang out the next day, he texted back saying the idea of hanging out was tempting but he couldn’t. Tempting? I was confused. We had acknowledged that we were friends last night,friends that may enjoy conversations and hanging out even after having sex…why would it be tempting to hang out? I thought about it with no reason as to why he would use this language except for trying to be playful. I responded, “Tempting?” His response: “I just can’t justify hanging out with other women.” “What?” Was this some riddle I needed to find the answer to? “Explain,” I shot back. To my astonishment he responded that he couldn’t justify hanging out with other women because he was in a relationship with someone else. I was flabbergasted. Had we not just spoken the night before about relationships and had he not stated he wasn’t ready? What had I misread or misheard from the previous night? I was confused, shocked and felt used. How could someone lie blatantly to someone else? We had acknowledged our relationship as friends who sometimes hook up, so why was it hard for him to say there was someone else in the picture, especially if that other person didn’t want him seeing other women. At that moment I was thankful we had always used condoms. I know that even by using condoms during penetrative sex there is still a risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but that was a low risk we were both open to since we had previously talked about our STI testing history and current situation.
I was hurt– no lie- because I felt I had put more energy into our friendly exchanges than he had. I felt stupid and kept thinking that I should have known better, that I could have avoided this. Yes, I could have had more hindsight, but I didn’t. What did I learn? That you can’t control other people’s emotions, nor their actions. That at the end of the day we can’t put ourselves down if someone doesn’t give us the respect that we know we deserve. We can only state what we want and be prepared for the affirmation of yes, or no, and move accordingly. And that begins by not being afraid to ask for what we want.
I am worthy of love, respect and enjoying my sexuality.
How do I get smart b4 I get sexy?
By acknowledging my needs at the moment and asking myself questions to make me more aware of how I will and want to be involved with someone. Am I open to casual sex? Do I want an open relationship? Do I know their relationship or STI status? Do I prefer a committed relationship at the moment? Asking myself some of these questions prepares me before I get sexy, so that I know I am always making the right decision based on my needs and wants.
Send writing submission or call 323.290.5955 to learn more about the Get Smart Get Sexy Writers team within Black Women for Wellness’ Get Smart B4U Get Sexy campaign.
Get Smart B4U Get Sexy is a movement that wants to know how can we support one another in being smart and sexy, and to make sure that we are creating a sexual and reproductive health culture that is safe, consensual, affirming, nonjudgmental, pleasurable and addresses all our diverse needs, as we are the ones in charge of our reproductive, sexual health and well-being.
By Monica Groves
A major personality trait of many women is the “want” to be liked by everyone.
It stems from not wanting to disappoint or let down their friends and loved ones. This “want” to be accepted leads to us compromising and stretching ourselves too thin. This causes a lack of self-preservation that throws us off our center.
Wanting to be liked comes at a price; the price of your peace of mind and freedom to just BE. As I transition into this new phase in my life, I am learning to say NO. Not only am I saying NO; I am saying No without Explaining.
1. If you are called on to do favors for people repeatedly and it has begun to stress you out, say NO. Love yourself enough to distance yourself from people and circumstances that do not bring you peace.
2. If you are invited out to events at the last minute and would rather stay home or do something else, say NO. It’s inconsiderate for someone to habitually invite you to things at the last minute. It does not allow you time to prepare. Maybe your hair isn’t done or you haven’t de-haired. Now you have to run through the house like Taz trying to get ready for something that isn’t necessary to your peace. It’s ok to decline and if they ask why…don’t even dignify them with a response. You do not have to explain yourself.
3. A major thing that women do is appease; especially in sexual relationships. There are conscious and subconscious undercurrents of sexism when it comes to gender roles. In an effort to be liked and please their man, women will concede to sexual encounters that they don’t want to have. She becomes a body with no voice.
According to the University Health Center at the University of Georgia’s Consent is Sexy, consent is:
• A voluntary, sober, imaginative, enthusiastic, creative, wanted, informed, mutual, honest, and verbal agreement
• An active agreement: Consent cannot be coerced
• A process, which must be asked for every step of the way; if you want to move to the next level of sexual intimacy, just ask
• Never implied and cannot be assumed, even in the context of a relationship. Just because you are in a relationship does not mean that you have permission to have sex with your partner
• An important part of healthy sexuality
To start a change in perception, reality and action take inventory. Write down the things about yourself that you value and like and defend them. Stand tall and firm in who you are. Once you value who you are and what you are, you are less like to let others storm the citadel of your temple. The valuing of your temple is how you empower yourself. You are making yourself stronger from the inside out so that when you are asked to do something you don’t want to do you have the confidence to say no. And with confidence comes peace and that freedom from disturbance by outside influences brings happiness.
So say NO if it brings you happiness because in the end you are solely responsible for it. Don’t feel that you have to explain because you don’t need to justify your happiness.
Have a narrative or article to share with Get Smart B4U Get Sexy?
Send writing submissions to Krissy@bwwla.com or call 323.290.5955 to learn more about the Get Smart Get Sexy Writers team within Black Women for Wellness’ Get Smart B4U Get Sexy campaign.
Get Smart B4U Get Sexy is a movement that aims to end sexual and reproductive health disparities through creating a community of smart and sexy women who are creating a sexual and reproductive health culture that is safe, affirming, nonjudgmental, pleasurable and addresses all our diverse needs in order to maintain autonomy over our own reproductive, sexual health and well-being.
We cannot love ourselves if we do not know ourselves.
The Vagina is very special and a central part to our womanly selves and being so lets start taking more than a peak, exploring ourselves and knowing our power.
Females Know Your Power / Know your V Power: 7 Fun Facts
1. Clitoris = Greek for “divine and goddess like” The clitoris is only in female mammals. The clitoris is the most sensitive part of the female genitals and the only organ in the body that exists solely for sexual pleasure. The clitoris has more nerve endings than anywhere else on the body and more nerve endings than the penis. The clitoris can become erect oftentimes looking bigger and feeling hard.
2. Your vagina actually expands during sex a.k.a vaginal tenting. Vaginal tenting is when the inner two-thirds of your vagina increase in length and width when you’re aroused.
3. The Vagina is the queen of self-sufficiency and takes good care to clean itself. Your vagina does not need any special vaginal products nor washes and in fact those washes can actually do more harm than good often times causing yeast and/or bacterial infections. Let your vagina breathe and just use water. No douching is necessary! Also choose tampons without deodorant since these too can affect your vagina’s climate.
“Like the eye, the vagina is a self-cleaning organ. During a normal menstrual cycle, a woman’s vagina will spew forth a total of two to six tablespoons of blood. During ovulation, her punani will burp up one or two teaspoons of liquid discharge in order to clear the cervix of dead cells. The rest of the month, her cooter will spit forth only a half-teaspoon of fluid per day.”
– Thought Catalog, Fun Facts About the Vagina
4. The vagina is not an opening to the abdominal cavity. The cervix located at the top of the vagina lies between the vagina and uterus. If you feel for your cervix it feels like the tip of your nose. In the middle of the cervix is a small round opening called the os which leads to the uterus. The opening of the cervix is tiny and opens more during the menstrual cycle but don’t worry it is so small that only microscopic sperm can travel through. Both tampons and condoms can not fit through your os, so it is impossible to lose anything in your vagina!
5. Vaginal discharge is normal; there are changes to our discharge that occur before and after both the ovulation and menstruation cycles. Discharge can be clear and sticky like egg whites during ovulation and thicker and whiter later on in your cycle.
6. The back ⅔ of the vagina has essentially no sensitivity, which is why sometimes someone can put a tampon in and hours later, realize they completely forgot about it. The lower ⅓ of the vagina and the vaginal opening are quite sensitive, though: the outer one-third of the vagina contains nearly 90 percent of the vaginal nerve endings. – Scareleteen, With Pleasure: A View of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body
7. Orgasms relieve stress and cramping. During orgasms the brain releases oxytocin which produces feelings of warmth and relaxation.