Interview Mistakes

All the Interview Mistakes I’ve Made So Far…

Making mistakes in the job search and interview process

In my youth,  *adjusts readers*  and recently I have made some pretty incredible interview mistakes. Some of them I was able to recover from and with others… I was just happy for it to be over so I could get home and lick my wounds. It’s awful but I am willing to rehash these painful lessons for your entertainment so let’s get into it!

Winging it. I have come to know that anytime I am doing anything and a voice in my head says “you can wing it”, it’s the devil with his devil wings.  The first mistake I made very early on when interviewing was not properly researching the company. Y’all I am a marketer, the first thing I should have done was go to the website … I didn’t. I assumed because I had heard of the company that I knew what they did. Don’t rely on your layman’s logic about a company as so many of the giants are turning the corner into surprising new industries.

Example, What do you think of when I mention the company, Xerox? If you hear this name you think paper, copy machines, ink maybe… but they doing Parking now.  (I didn’t interview with them but a great example). Google is free and you do not want to be blind sighted by free information when you just wrote a whole resume about being a knowledgeable, self-starter, who takes pride in their work cause guess what? You just showed them that it’s all a lie.

Not bringing/taking notes. I used to not take notes into an interview or take notes in the interview. I assumed that it would make it look like I had a script if I came in with a notebook full of notes and that if I took too many notes during the interview I was missing the conversational piece. This ended when I was laid off and had 20 interviews in a month. I couldn’t keep it all straight otherwise. I am a writer so I would come in the door with pages of notes and questions. It actually helped my interviewing skills because I had a few talking points with me but more importantly I had literally pages of questions that I got to really examine the night before. Hiring Managers were impressed by the thoughtfulness of my inquiries and how much research I had done. The whole time I was worried about nothing. Side note: I recently heard a story of a person not getting the job because they didn’t have a notebook or anything at an interview. That was actual feedback. The manager thought she “didn’t really want to job” because of a lack of note-taking.  A very odd thing to assume but it’s an easy fix. 

Not considering the people I was interviewing with. When you get to a certain point in your career you’re no longer interviewing once with your direct manager, more people are required to “buy in” to you as you move up the chain. My most recent experience was with 5 people with completely different viewpoints based on their job and how I was going to interact with them. The best thing to do is ask who you will be meeting with when the in-person interview is scheduled, find them on Linkedin and just take a peek at their backgrounds. I like to look at things like their current role, how long they have been in that role or at that company and if there is some kind of pattern. Patterns for me are has the person been able to do a lot at the company (do people moved up a lot), how long have most people stayed, do you have anything in common with them (same schools, experience, sorority etc). Consider all of this when you’re asking questions. And if you forgot to ask who you are interviewing with before the interview, adjust your general questions to fit the person you are talking to at the moment. The goal is to ask them questions that are in their scope to answer. 

Not following up. I JUST started doing this in the last 5 years or so. I never sent a follow -up before that. Honestly, I knew it was a thing but I thought it didn’t matter. It totally does and because there are so many people like the old me out there – it gives you a competitive edge. How I do it? At the end of an interview with each person I ask for a business card and I also write down something specific that they said that I can connect to later. After the interview, I write a quick and personal “Thank you” email, including that specific thing I wrote down. Also, use their lingo in the email. If everyone mentioned the term “hit the ground running” … add something about your ability to “hit the ground running”. All of this just keeps you top of mind. Plus people are looking for a “good fit” for their team. Show them you are the “best fit”.

Pssst… The next step up from the email is the handwritten thank you note, just depends on what you’re going after and how quickly you’re moving. 

Assuming the interview was for them, not me. This is a point that became clear to me in my moving from place to place. Companies have some crazy cultures and it doesn’t matter how much they pay… if someone is yelling at you daily or calling you all day and night, the cost to your peace it too high. Be sure to be completely clued into how the interviewer is speaking about the team, listen to the body language of the people around her. Consider the kind of person you are talking to. Also, ask about challenges and turn over in the role. Why is there an opening? It’s ok for the questions to go back and forth and if it’s NOT, you definitely don’t need to be there. Also, search the title on LinkedIn at the company… you can see who else had your role and if they all left after 6 months. Ask detailed questions about expectations, challenges, and exactly what does a successful person in this role look like? I also like to know what does 5 years ahead look like… what’s the company goal? Listen and closely examine the answers. If they don’t know – it’s a red flag to consider. 

I could tell you stories of all the red flags I have missed in interviews. whew! I think that is going to a post on here soon…

And the biggest mistake... Not fully reading the job description in detail. I, like a lot of people, looked primarily at the title, company, and requirements. This is a BIG mistake. A lot of the gems are right there in bullets. I look for things like what the day to day functions are of the role, what kind of person are they asking for, do they list benefits or perks, and does the person they are looking to hire sound realistic? If the day to day functions sound like 5 people’s job or the type of person they are looking for sounds like a unicorn, you should ask about it in the interview. Employers often list benefits, perks, and clues about the culture. If you have trouble finding questions… ask about this stuff. A lot of the time what you need to decide if the company is a right fit for you is written.

Today,  I print off the entire description (or paste it into a word doc) and highlight the what I like vs dislike so that I can be crystal clear in the interview. Onboarding and getting “up to speed” is always a sucky process, I want to make sure when I accept the offer it’s a job that I actually want (unless my motives are different like coming off a lay off).

This was a lot and I had so many more that I couldn’t get into to today. Interviewing is a skill that can only be mastered by doing it. If you are desperate to find of job or find yourself in the wrong job, its a costly mistake not to do it well. Think of the interview as a two-way street, don’t be so wrapped up in being likable and getting hired that you forget that you are also hiring them.

If you have any interview fails, I really want to hear about them in the comments below! 

 

Worst Relationship Advice Part 2

Worst Relationship Advice| Part 2

Remember my post from a few weeks ago? This is Part 2, because there is a lot of bad relationship advice out there, apparently.

Once I asked the black girl group chat the list got longer. If you missed Worst relationship advice part 1, read it here. Let’s dig in!

Anything that suggests there is a perfect match. People never come perfect. There will ways be things you have to discuss and work through together. It easy to think that your girlfriend has the “perfect relationship”. That does not exist. People are picking their battles all the time. You are two full-grown adults from two households and two experiences. There will be things to overcome. (This still does not mean build a bear, sis.)

You will be each other’s everything. I have met people who are actually each other’s everything and I still don’t think its healthy. People are complex and there is just no way that you can get everything you need from one person. I also don’t think its fair to ask that of one person. Your partner should be your go-to but you need friends and family as well. Don’t drop your friends and family because you have a boo, they keep you interesting. And certain groups of people feed different parts of your spirit and you can hear things from them in a way you may not be able to hear them at home.

Personal example: My love of “comfort” has gone a bit far a few times. My sister has pulled me aside to gather me on “being too comfortable”…remember my sweatpants intervention? I can hear that advice from her in a way I am not ready to hear from a man in any capacity. Doesn’t mean we don’t roll our eyes and say “whatever” but I know if she felt the need to say it, it’s real and I need to change it up.

I do think this is one of those things that maybe when you’ve been married a while can change though. Like if I have been married to a person for like 20 years, got kids, mortgage, taxes, etc then you can be everything but I still believe in girls trips and separate hobbies etc.

Let them go, if it’s meant to be they will come back. This was like the high school mantra for breaking up because someone is moving away. None of those people ever came back and its the best thing I never had. Better advice: Let them go because what you want at 17 will not be what you want at 27, let’s do some living and then see if you even remember each other in a couple years. 

You should wait for him to get himself together. Nope. We’re not doing this. If you are young, single (not married) and fly, keep it moving. You do not have years to wait for a person to get it together. Remember Issa and Lawrence from Insecure? Nah. Don’t do that.

When you love someone, You’re supposed to fight for it. Whew child! A girlfriend who had a borderline abusive relationship (meaning he never hit her but the uncontrolled bursts of anger suggested it could happen) shared this one with me. She was in fear of physical violence from a partner and this is the advice she was given. Who raised yall?  This is not a fight you want to have, you will pay with your life.

I do believe in fighting for your relationships in the general sense like going to counseling, communication, showing empathy and active listening. I do not think you should “fight” for a relationship that is diminishing to your personhood.

This was fun! The group chat loved this conversation and hopefully, you all did as well. Looking back, I don’t think relationship advice is as terrible as it is incomplete. People kind of let these sayings roll off the tongue and don’t offer any context or nuance.

I am not the relationship guru. I am not going to write a book after being married just 90 days. And I don’t have all the answers but I wanted to hold up some of this advice to the light so we can actually examine it before we just repeat it to the next generation. 

If you agree, disagree or feel like we missed some advice, I want to hear about it in the comments below. 

Serena Williams, Lean In and other Career Advice that Does Not Work for Black Women

Serena Williams, Lean In and other Career Advice that Does Not Work for Black Women

Like many of you, I have been sitting on what happened with Serena Williams this past weekend. All of this and the media response lead me to think about all the things I know of that happened to and because of Serena in tennis lately.

To bring you up to speed, Serena played against Naomi Osaka in the U.S Open. It was a huge match for both ladies. Serena was accused of receiving coaching because of an ill-timed thumbs up to her coach. She was then docked points for cheating. Serena lost to Naomi and things just got messy.

If this were the only thing that happened we can maybe see past a terrible rep call but when we look at all the things that swirl around this woman who is at the top of her game, its hard to let it go.

After enduring a tennis world rife with racism and racist acts against her, this sister has come to completely own the sport. However, she is consistently the only female player drug tested at nearly every “random” drug screen, she is constantly depicted as a “monster” in the media, they banned her cat-suit (meant to help with her blood clots), she is touted as too aggressive, too strong, too big, too loud and on and on.

All of this brings me back to career advice we get from nice white ladies about leaning in, taking a seat at the table, advocating for yourself, self-promotion etc and how incomplete that rule took is for black women.

What is the advice when you are seen as a threat no matter what you do? Mellody Hobson, a black woman, a fav, and the president of Ariel Investments, says “Sometimes when you are a black woman you have to crouch to conquer“. What I take that to mean in theory is that sometimes you have to shrink yourself and be more tactical and strategic in approach to get what you want. I don’t like what that implies either.

As black women in any business, we are judged by a completely different set of rules. Leaning In makes us a target and as much as I get Hobson’s idea of crouching to conquer … I am not sure all that slumped posture is good either.

We have no rule book and I am coming to see that as a good thing. It’s an opportunity to blaze a new trail. When Serena is done, I am sure people will pretend they loved her all along like they do Muhammad Ali. But, for now, she is winning on her own terms, in a tutu, and not accepting anything less than respect.

We are navigating new spaces every day and all we can do is kick down the doors and hold them open with an instruction manual for the girls that follow us.

If I asked about why I write this blog… this is it. It’s my instruction manual for the black girls that will follow me.

If you have another perspective or comment, let’s talk about it in the comments below.

 

 

Are Interracial Relationships Harder than Same Race Relationships?

Over the past week I have witnessed or been party to two conversations about interracial relationships and in both cases, people discussed how much harder they are than same or intraracial relationships.

The first instance was watching an episode of The Grapevine on Youtube where a panel discussed interracial dating in the UK (check it out, Part 1 & Part 2) and the second instance was standing in line at an event chatting with a woman who was writing a Novel about it (she didn’t have an interracial relationship but the premise of her book an interracial relationship) . After listening to her talk about her book, I came clean about the makeup of my relationship.

In both cases, I failed to gather clear thoughts on the subject but now that I have sat on the question a while, I am going to share “what I should have said” with you.

A short answer is Yes & No.

Yes. Statistically, interracial relationships have a higher divorce rate than same couples but factors such as age when married, social class, education and how outside factors affect the relationship (i.e Family) play a huge role in that determination.

In my particular case, being a black woman married to a white man, I am actually less likely to divorce than even two white people. Although the numbers work in my favor I do think it’s a little bit harder at times.

What I find hard within interracial relationships are that there is no expectation of an implied understanding of blackness. When I watch Aretha’s homegoing and get chills … there is no expectation of sharing in that particular feeling. When a cop killed Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old, we can both think “that’s fucked up” or be mad but there is a way I feel it on a cellular level that is not transferable if you are not a black person with black nephews, godchildren, siblings or could birth black sons. Yes, people can understand and empathize but it’s deeper. These moments are few but they do exist.

I also cannot come to the table with assumptions or half-truths if I want to discuss an issue. It’s forced me to actually learn the history for myself and not just pass on stuff that someone else said or stuff we just suspect because we have witnessed so much injustice. Sometimes it’s frustrating. I just wanna be mad…sometimes irrationally mad … sometimes “Free O.J mad”… and I want a mad partner. 

The “No” part. One of the things that annoyed me when I watched the grapevine videos was when one of the girls said she was annoyed with all the interracial YouTubers because they falsely make the relationship look easy and she didn’t find it easy at all. I felt like her comment made the assumption that all black people are grappling with race issues and that it would be front stage all the time.

As I have said before you can be black and unconcerned – we have so many examples. And also race is a comma in our lives, not a period or even an explanation point. No one is having race debates daily, weekly or even quarterly.

When I look at my partner, I see the absolute love of my life. This person loves the absolute shit out of me and proves it daily. My relationship is easy…and supportive…and joyous…and hilarious…and honest. I was ruffled by the notion that because you aren’t the same, not being the same is what you think about all the time. Let people live.

You know what I think about all the time “Why is our TV always on sports?” It’s like the default channel all year. How does a person wanna watch all sports all year, no matter the sport? Seroiously … soccer, basketball & football. I like housewives shows but even I, select a certain franchise. Just because I watch Atlanta, does not mean I also wanna watch Orange County. This is maddness.

Anyway, Y’all. Instead of having that “what I should have said” moment in my head I had it with you. In the end, I feel like nothing is perfect. All relationships take work, empathy, understanding, patience and unlucky us, we never get to stop explaining not even to other black women. 

If you agree, disagree, have a personal story, I wanna hear about it in the comments below.

 

 

 

Worst Relationship Advice

All Worst Relationship Advice I’ve Ever Received| Part 1

Love and relationship advice is everywhere when you’re first married but even before you’re thinking about marriage people want to give you advice and a lot of it is terrible or incomplete.

People love to give relationship advice. Even people who have never had a healthy relationship that lasted longer than 90 days wanna tell you what you should be doing. This impulse to offer advice only increases when people find out that I am a newlywed. I think this must be rooted in patriarchy because I am sure hubby is not getting the same level of feedback. Every tip offered is not trash but about 70% of it is and I want to list for you all the truly bad relationship I have ever received and why I found it problematic. This is just part 1 cause once I surveyed the black girl group chat, the list got SUPER long. 

Love is unconditional. This is the marker of immature love but doesn’t it sound nice? Now I truly believe in for rich, poorer, sickness and health to death do us part but there are still conditions. The relationship has to be healthy and both people have to be working to keep it going. I do not believe that you should expect a conditions free relationship from another fully grown adult. Conditions are boundaries that you need to keep it the relationship healthy. Those conditions should be respect, honor, honesty, support, etc. The conditions are whats happening on the inside of you both to keep it going.

Opposites Attract. Raise your hand if you thought this was true! *Raises everything* This is a flat out lie for the most part. In order for a romantic relationship to work, you have to be the same on a lot of things. I am not talking about how you look, hobbies, social habits, money, etc. I am talking about the big stuff like Values! What is important to you?

Personal example: A friend of mind is a full-on church girl. I mean she barely misses a Sunday, speaks in “The lord saids…” and values her personal religion more than anything in her life. She likes to have fun and get loose but the core of her is deeply religious.  She kept dating people who were “open to religion” because she was afraid she wouldn’t find a person like her… someone who is fun, open-minded, accepting of others but loves the lord too. None of these people worked out because in the end their “open to it” was not real. She has finally relized that in order for her to feel completely whole in a relationship (enough for marriage), she needs to find her same. This is a value.

You can have separate hobbies, you can have different approaches to life but you must be the same on things that are central to your identity. Are you family oriented? Do you want kids? Is educational background important to you? How important is peace in your home, I know a lot of folks addicted to drama?

Anything around being a “Ride or Die Chic”. Nope. I feel like there has been a revelation on this on twitter so I will not belabor the point. It’s a lie. Ride or Die Chic seems to only apply to women and I am not here for it.  #Thatsall The only man to ever Ride or Die is Papoose. If you can get to mutual Ride or Die, I am open to it but otherwise… I’ll ride trauma-free.

You have to cook and clean to keep a man. Again, Nope. I saw the Amara Le Negra’s post on cleaning your man’s apartment. I have a better idea, partner with another full grown and responsible adult and you won’t have to be the maid only for him to still leave you. Stay true to the things you enjoy and he will do the same.

Personally, I have to admit, (because someone that knows me is rolling their eyes right now) I am domestic as hell. It bucks all my feminist feelings but I get personal satisfaction from cooking and cleaning, truly. I am a true auntie…house dress, music playing and elbows deep in some cleaning supplies or cookbook. But Bae enjoying my weekend pastime is a byproduct, not a focus and he definitely helps out.

Marry someone who loves you a more than you love him. This was told to me by an older woman and at first, I felt like sis had the keys to the streets. But, now that I have sat on this while, its super manipulative and how exactly can you measure another person’s love level? I think a better piece of advice is to marry a person who puts as much work into the relationship as you do. 

Relationships are 50/50. Relationships are 110/110 in effort and fairness is not gonna happen all the time. Sometimes you will feel like is 70/30, other times it feels like 40/60 because life happens and sometimes you become the person who needs more support and other times the roles reverse. If you are committed to giving 110% to it, that means even when you have moments of taking more than you can give you are still trying to show up for them in a way that shows respect, appreciation and mutual care.

He should be paying all the bills and your money should just be your money. This can be true for someone but I have never been this kind of girl. I like being a contributor because, like my cooking for you, pitching in feels like a love offering. We are in this together and we are in the same income bracket. Plus, women outlive men and I want an active roll in the household finances and the only way I know to get a true vote is to contribute. (I also watch way too many lifetime movies where the women have no idea whats happening with the family money and the man gets in trouble, now they are all in court or on the run). 

Sidenote, If you are the type to keep your money and spend his… KIDDOS! I have met these women, they can spot a high earner from across the room. It’s a gift I do not possess and I give props to those of Y’all with the skill. No shade here. 

People Change. NOPE! This is where we get tricked into staying with a man because you believe he can be something else later. We are done with build-a-bear men, sis. Whatever his pattern is, that is who he is. I do think people can evolve if they have the will to do so but you cannot implant WILL. Evolving is making small changes that make a big impact like… going from paying a little more than the minimum balance on your credit card each month to paying it off month to month. You were still paying it, you just upgraded your thinking.  A great celebrity example is that Ciara and Future moment where she thought he would be different cause she was “better” and she finally had to level up to Russell.

They say hindsight is 20/20 and relationships yield lots of hindsight advice but before you go taking it as gospel, we have to dissect it fully.  I have so much more to share but honestly, we were getting a little long.

Stay tuned for Part 2. And I want to hear about your worst relationship advice in the comments below.

Best Wishes for 2018

Glam, Goals and Good Wishes: Wishes for Girls in the New Year 2018

My Best Wishes for Girls in the New Year 2018

I can say with certainty that I have never felt so out of sorts in my life. For an entire 12 months, I was both living my best and worst life. Best because personally, the year has been amazing. I got engaged, new blog (and blog girlfriends), new friends, better connections, and best travel ever! Worst because I have been feeling like the world is on fire all year. It was so much crazy out there, it felt like it was threatening all the good stuff in my life at times. But guess what? I won. We still here and better than ever.

Enough about me, let’s dig into some 2018 toasts for the girls or as I like to say Glam, Goals and Good Wishes.

Glam. Let your freak flag fly, ladies. I am breaking all my dumb rules this year. As much as I like to tell y’all I live boldly, I am pretty uptight on appearance. But if Solange, Thick Beyonce and Cardi B have taught me anything it is to let go… a lot more.

My glam wish for you all is to do all the stuff you said you “don’t do” … all the shades of lipstick, blonde wigs,  glitter everything, crop tops (body or not), undefined curls… EVERYTHING. Let’s step out and just turn heads for the sake of fly in 2018.  

Goals. Just do it.*raises hand*  I am Lisa and I would like to admit that I am an over-thinker. I will “kick an idea around” in my head until I have thought myself out of it. 2018 is going to be the year of leap first and question later.

Doing things on safe footing is well… safe. But for some of us, it means never doing things you really want to do because the time never seems right. My goal for 2018 is to be less measured – just launch it, write it, and do it! 

My good wish for 2018 is love. I wish love on everyone. I am not saying just romantic love but just people around you who really love you. I spent years stomping around telling people how independent I was … suffering in silence and trying to prove something. Girl Bye. Let people in, tell them your troubles and let them help and support you. Let’s just spend the entire year as an open book to those we love and be open to receiving their love in return. 

Well, that is all I got for now. I want to hear about your Glam, Goals and Good wishes to black women in the new year as well. Comment below.

signature_xd1d3qpbai29p9qzxk

Black Women and Self Care

Why Black Women Need Self-Care and How I am Doing it

Self-Care is a Non-negotiable for Those of us Who are Both Black and Female

Self-care is a hot topic right now and everyone has an opinion on how to do it correctly. It’s basically the process of giving yourself what you need at the moment, whatever that may be.

Self-care is critical, especially for black women.  It feels like the world is on fire. And the more “woke” you are, the heavier the weight gets to carry and women tend to try to carry other people’s weight for them …. so there is that. I am not going to lie to you all, life was easier when I was “sleep”, I could at least watch a movie and not be thinking of how the “patriarchal, capitalist, rape culture is being manifested through this year’s favorite magical negro film”. *long sigh* I am literally tired of myself. 

It occurred to me that I may need self-care when I decided to watch the Vice News Special on Charlottesville for the second time (I thought I missed something) and as I was queuing it up when my love said to me “Are you getting ready to watch your rage porn?”  I was ready to #clapback but then I thought “shit, he is right”.  I was coming home from work night after night immersing myself in all the awful of the day then, after I making myself sufficiently angry, I would be stomping around ranting about things I can not control. It was time to get back to the center with some self-care.

How I decided to do self-care? 

  • I am on a break from the headlines, the white house speeches, and all videos of people being killed, hurt, or harassed. I am intentional about how much of the world I am taking in right now. 
  • I am being constructive by working on myself and continuing the process of unlearning.
  • I am both singing and dancing more. Noone ever tells you how therapeutic a good twerk session is to the soul.
  • I am reading trashy books about nothing. (I am almost done with a book called Drama is Her Middle Name, by Wendy Williams …so terrible but I needed it) 
  • I am skipping the serious podcasts and listening to more Trap Music and 90’s/00’s R&B in the car or just riding in silence. I arrive at work a lot less charged and I get my best ideas during this time…oddly enough.
  • I am lighting more candles. Candles do not get enough credit for their calming magic.
  • I am brushing up on my makeup skills and trying something new. Nothing like a good beat to lift the spirits.
  • I am doing a lot less social media these days. I even took facebook off my phone for a while. The worst place you want to get your news from is facebook…it is basically rage porn and petty porn central.
  • I am spending more time in gratitude, especially for the black women in my life and those who are just out in the world glowing up and showing us the way. We stand for so many who did not have the chances we have today.

So far I am feeling a lot better and it is getting easier to pick and choose when my rage is necessary versus just humming with anger all day, every day. I hope that you all are practicing self-care as well. I want to hear about your techniques for focusing on yourself in the comments below. 

 

Black Hair in Corporate America

Black Hair in Corporate America

Do you find yourself wondering how black is too black when it comes to hair in the office?

We are in the dog days of summer (aka peak protective style season). It is that time of year where all the black girls at work start whispering in groups about how acceptable the new hair trend would be in the office. All of this whispering got me thinking about my experience with black hair in Corporate America.

As an Atlanta Native, I know I live in a bubble of blackness…people who are used to black people being present and their whole beautiful selves….mostly. So when I stopped relaxing my hair, I was surprised by the response.

I was not a person carrying out an agenda with my hair. I saw the movie good hair (like all of you) and my stylist suggested I give up the “creamy crack” in the same week, it was hair synergy.

Leaving the house for the first time as a fully kinky curled girl was nerve racking but people loved it and I got lots of compliments on it. All was right with the world until y’all aunties chimed in with their respectability warnings.

They said things like… “You will never get a job like that”, “Are you going to press it for interviews”, “Are you afraid you look unprofessional” and plenty of variations of “it makes white people uncomfortable”. I did not take their ‘advice’ into consideration mostly because I was feeling liberated and fly. There was no way I was returning to my boring flat hair with a side part. I felt more myself than ever before (and still do).

The aunties were wrong and right.  I have had lots of interviews and jobs but I have also dealt with my fair share of microaggressions from white girls (I would say non-black people but nope it’s always the same kind of person) offering “compliments” every time I change it up.

If I straighten it or wear a straight weave they say “you look so professional” or “you should always wear your hair like that” …If I get braids or just wear it wet/with tight curls “Your hair is such a mystery” and let’s not forget the uncomfortable “I wish my hair could do that”. Oh… and the forever awkward questions about hair mechanics like their favs have not been wigged and weaved for millennia. #IamMagicNotGoogle

Wait… Can I also add my braids being compared to Bo Derek or any of the Kardashian/Jenner as if my ancestors have not been braiding for 1,000 years?

*Sigh*. I often have a quick comeback these days just to make people stop and think more but I often just give a look and move on. They don’t want to be saved y’all.

Overall, When it comes to black hair in Corporate America – just live your truth. Do not bait and switch or modify yourself. We are in the office more than we are at home…if the place you interviewing has some anti-black views in hiring, it’s a clue that the culture is ugly anyway. The last place I want to be educating people on white supremacy is at the place I have to be present at 40 hours a week for survival.

I am curious about your experience. What was the craziest thing anyone ever said about your natural/braided/weaved hair in the work place?

 

Questions Black Women in Interracial Relationships are Tired of Hearing

Questions Black Women in Interracial Relationships are Tired of Hearing

Interracial relationships aren’t the problem, it’s all the problematic folks with assumptions

As a black woman in an interracial relationship, I get questions all the time and I am happy to answer most of them but there are a few things that often leave me … perplexed (or whatever that feeling is when you are offended but not sure if it was intentional).

I am not sure if it is because I am black or female but bae never gets the level of questioning I receive. People ask me the very loaded “Well how did you meet?” or “How did parents/family feel” and sometimes they ask/comment in ways you would not expect.

It is kind of like when natural hair was a big thing and black women would stop me on the street to ask about my products, touch my hair or give that backhanded compliment “It’s cute but I don’t know how you do it” as if genetics…ok..wait… I digress. 

Without further ado, here are some of the craziest responses/questions about my relationship and why they are problematic as hell.

“Oh snap girl, your babies bout to have good hair” 

This happened years ago and every time I tell this story I feel the tension all over again. I am sitting there Nigerian, natural curls popping, and freshly oiled melanin thinking to myself… is this real? Do I look like a person looking for “good hair”? The implications that I hate myself so much I would enter into a relationship just for hair… I know it happens but not me.

I know colorism is real but comments like this and so many thinly veil “anti-black” sentiments about babies are not why most people enter interracial relationships. I am always surprised by it in 2017. Bottom line…my babies will be cute because I am cute…chocolate, brown, mocha, or latte.  #stopfetishizingkids

“You got you a rich white man”

I have heard this so many times …it is always meant to be a joke but jokes are never just jokes. I am still looking under the Ikea couch cushions for all this money he is supposed to have. We are just out here living… paying student loans, and dreaming of winning the lotto, just like you. I am not sure where this comes from… if you have some ideas I wanna hear about it. Comment girl, I need to know. 

 “Oh Yes Girl, I am tired of black men too”

Sis, I love you but let us not make assumptions. I am not dating outside my race because I am “tired of black men”,  my problem is I like ALL the men. When it comes to relationships, you attract the energy you put out. If all the men you date are shitty, just because they happen to black does not mean it’s a problem with black men. It’s you, not them. (all shade intended)  Trash men come in all shades. 

“Are you trying to be white?” 

Yes, someone said this to me and I really believe the person who said it thought they were having a Hotep Iyanla moment. I had no idea that white male privilege was a transferable power? But in all seriousness, you do not know blackness until you are tossed up against a white (or other) wall.  I know you are always looking to call out people who date outside their race these days but we are not all hanging out in the sunken place. (Beleive it or not, you can both be black and be in the sunken place (See: Ben and Candy Carson) 

In conclusion, we have to think about the things we say to people. I am telling you these stories in jest because they are my best party stories (in certain circles). But all too often the crazy questions I get asked in tones of kindness and earnestness say more about the person asking than they do me. When it comes to love, the kind that sends your heart spilling over, you should be honored to receive it no matter the color of the package. 

If you are in an interracial relationship or any kind of relationship, I would LOVE to hear some of the things people have asked you in the comments below. 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Live Well Blog, Black Women in Personal Finance, Black Girl Magic in Money

Magical Black Girls in Personal Finance to Follow Right Now

Finding your footing in good money management is often about finding representation.

 Some people have close friends and family to help them make great financial decisions and others have to learn from the experts. Either way, one of the best decisions you can make is to find a person who can offer you some frank financial solutions.  In my search, I often looked to online gurus for not just tips but for examples what financial security looks like. The more I heard these passionate women paint a picture of financial wellness, the clearer it became that I was not doing something right. Because this meant so much to me, I have the breakdown on 4 black women in personal finance you can follow right now.  (warning: these “breakdowns” are just my personal assessment of what these dynamic women bring to the space – links available so you can draw your own conclusions)

Money May Guru, Lisa Live Well

Patrice C. Washington

Patrice C. Washington is the author of the book, Real Money Answers for Every Woman and the online guru for all your money needs. She offers coaching and advice on credit, investments, saving more, navigating relationships and money plus so much more. I personally love her perspective on knowing your Money Personality. She is energetic, fresh and passionate about helping us have a more positive relationship with money. Check her out here: http://realmoneyanswers.com/about/

Money May Guru, Lisa Live Well

Tiffany Aliche, The Budgetnista

Tiffany Aliche is all about budgeting and saving. Tiffany teaches credit management, debt management and how to finally save more so we can live out our dreams. She has the heart of an educator and the dedication of a saint. She is a personal fav of mine. Check her out here: http://thebudgetnista.com

3

Kara Stevens

Kara Stevens is a wealth coach and author. Her approach is female-centered and comes from a place of healing. Her perspective on minimalism, both the less stuff and the less debt kind, are refreshing. Kara wants you to do more than just get your money right, she wants you to change your life so you can look at it differently. Check her out here: http://www.thefrugalfeminista.com/

Money May Guru, Lisa Live Well

Marsha Barnes

Marsha Barnes’ approach to money management is both for women and couples which are important because often there are two parties that need to financially come together to “right the ship”. In a world of red bottoms and pricey bags, she is encouraging us to think bigger – avoid bad habits, be smarter about the use of tax refund and be financially savvy! Check her out here: http://www.thefinancebar.com

Its hard to envision yourself in a place without a great example and the women I outlined aim to be that for other women. They all have different voices and approaches so you can find a person in your lane. Bookmark their websites, follow them online … maybe get some coaching for the long term. As always, feel free to let the Live Well crew know which guru you loved and why in the comments below.

 

 

 

Saving Money

How to Save More Money This Year

Chasing the bag is only half the battle, its keeping that will make it all worth it. Save more money with these quick tips.

Whenever people talk about getting financially fit, the first thing they recommend is to save. It’s basically the low hanging fruit of adulting but telling someone with bad money habits to “just save some money” is not the best way to help.

For starters, taking the money you have come to depend on and saving it is a hard adjustment. Even if you manage to get some money put away, it almost always gets taken back out before you have amassed anything real. I was one of these people – you get a few hundred bucks stashed finally and one financial hiccup sends you back to the savings account to retrieve your hard-won savings. It’s a revolving door but there are a few tips that helped me get some money saved and keep it that I want to share with you.

All Savings Accounts Are Not Created Equal. Of all the things I am going to tell you, this the one that was most important to changing my financial behavior. When most people start out they have one savings account and no goal other than to save something. It’s a doomed approach. Instead of having one catch-all account – have accounts with goals attached and segment the money.

For example, you have determined that you can afford to save $150 per month. Instead of directing the total $150 to one account for an emergency fund, break it up to cover multiple purposes. To start, try directing $75 to a mishap fund and $75 to an emergency fund. What is a mishap fund? It’s a savings account for things that are inevitable but low level like car repairs, covering unexpected bills, traffic tickets, etc. The biggest threat to our savings account is always the mishap stuff, right? So plan for it. Keep this account at $500 – $1000 (more if you can or have a family… cause kids).

Then you can take the other $75 and have an emergency fund for the really big stuff like a loss of a job or illness (it’s untouchable otherwise). As you earn more you can have more accounts with other goals like a travel fund.

The point is to save for the smaller things that used to wipe out your total savings and still have money for the big issues should they happen. Yes, it will grow slower but at least it’s happening and because you have a fund for that traffic ticket or blown out tire, they will not devastate all your efforts. 

Automate it. The worst way to start to save when you have never done so before is to assume you are going to move money manually. It’s 2018 and a better life exists so get with it. Set up a direct deposit to a savings account with your bank or employer. It’s super easy and on payday, you will have saved money before you buy that round of drinks at happy hour! For more on this read my post, 4 Quick Ways to Break Bad Money Habits.  

Pay yourself FIRST… no… really. When I say pay yourself first, I mean when you get more money put more money away before you determine that new car is “doable”. The worst mistake we make is spending more because we make more.

At this age, we are relatively early in our careers and just starting to climb the ladder and with that comes more money.  Once you have gotten out of the check to check and value meal phase of your life – start to think about how much more you are spending with every increase. Enjoy the spoils but remember the more we earn, the bigger that 6-9 month emergency fund should be.

I am under no illusion that this goal is easy to reach but it took me 8 years to be laid off one time. Think about that, for 8 years I could have been putting away money every paycheck to get to this emergency fund. Start working towards this goal today, even if you only get to 2 or 3 months – at least you know for 2 or 3 months you are ok

Like many of us, it took me a long time to realize I was living life wrong financially and I have still not mastered it (I do not expect to either). It’s hard because the older you get your needs change, you want more – you tell yourself “I deserve this”… more. The turning point for me was being faced with medical bills and later being laid off as I mentioned. My head was totally in the sand – I looked around and noticed I was maxed out and blowing money fast on things I either could not remember or was bored with already.

When you are thinking about your goals for 2018 making sure you have a plan to save more is critical because it supports all other goals. New businesses, better travel, better fitness all work better when you have made plans to be able to afford them.

If you have used these or other methods to save more in 2018, let us know in the comments below.  

 

Lisa Live Well, Book Review of Zadie Smith Swing Time Book Image

Black Girlhood Friends, Class, and Being Robin | A Review of Zadie Smith’s Swing Time

 

Zadie Smith writes about the intimacy of black girl friendships and its brilliant

British writer Zadie Smith’s new novel, Swing Time is a book about girlhood friendship and self-identity. It’s basically for all of us who have complicated relationships our besties from middle school. The book follows two girls, the unnamed narrator, and her best friend Tracy who meet in Ms.Isabelle’s Dance Class. Although the two girls share the same space, mixed-race identity and love of dance, they are very different. Tracy is the striking beauty, effortless dancer, and show pony. She is described is the beautiful girl who owns every room she enters. The narrator is the sidekick… always Robin to a Batman. She basks in others light, never really finding her own, even though you get the impression that she too, is beautiful and has her own unexplored talents.

Through the narrator, we learn about the girl’s interesting upbringings. Tracy is the daughter of a chronically institutionalized Jamaican man, who she says is “away” because he is one of Michael Jackson’s backup, dancers. She is the light in her mother’s world and her mom uses her to live vicariously. You can think of her mom as a pageant mom, using her daughter’s talent and beauty to fill something empty for inside herself. Tracy can watch as much TV as she wants and has all the latest and greatest stuff. The narrator’s mother is a Jamaican intellectual type and her doting father is a white. But, the father’s commitment to mediocrity clashes with the mother’s ambitions. Narrator’s life is filled with books and structure. Because her mother is “woke”, she snuffs out her daughter’s light, in an effort to make her daughter ready for a racist and sexist world where any “girlish light” is a weakness. You can almost say the two, Tracy and the Narrator,  are friends out of needing what the other’s life offers. Tracy yearns for the father and stable family the narrator has and the narrator yearns to not only have the freedom a single parent upbringing allows children, but she wants to be made the center of her mother’s life like Tracy’s mother makes her. She, the narrator, often complains about how her mother would read serious books and grow impatient at dance class while the other mothers looked on at their children with a kind of exhalation.

The book goes on the follow the girls through a rather interesting childhood as they grow up, grow apart, reconnect and then are separated by what the narrator sees as “a bridge too far”. As adults, their lives are very different but their roles are the same – Tracy is still the center of the universe and the narrator is still playing Robin but this time as the assistant to an international pop star.

While reading the book, one could not help but think of the girlfriends you had growing up, how different people’s lives turned out. It’s odd. Have you wondered how did you become friends with them in the first place considering how much you truly had in common even as kids? But truthfully, kids do not need real things in common and even though you never speak to those long-ago friends, there is still a bond that connects you.

The book was wonderful. Zadie Smith peppers the story with not just the reality of girlhood friends but with all the nuances of race, class, and colonialism. It is rare that a work of fiction uncovers so much truth. The novel is a great pick for books clubs and solo reads. But as always, let me know your thoughts?

You can get it here::

THE 3 BEST PIECES OF RELATIONSHIP ADVICE I EVER GOT FROM MY MAMA

The 3 Best Pieces of Relationship Advice I Ever Got From My Mama

We get lots of trash relationship advice in our 20s and one day I am going to make a list of the absolute worst of it but right now let’s talk about the advice we receive from our mothers that, if we had listened, would have saved us so much drama.

The relationship between mothers and their adult daughters can be a complicated one. You go from being a 16-year-old child, who thinks your parents cannot possibly understand you or what you are going through, to a 20 something single girl who cannot believe how often your mother was right. I will be the first to admit, my mama was right about a lot… more than I would ever admit to her face. She was right about friends, foes, and men – even these new age ones because, girl …still men. Since she has been so right about the ways of the world I have started to listen (better late than never) and there are a few lessons about relationships that have proved to be true more often than not. 

Let it Break. People change under pressure, especially when you introduce the weight of kids, aging families and new debt where there was none before – its life basically. I asked my mom “how you do get a glimpse of how a partner will handle the hard stuff?” After nearly a year of perfectly crafted dates and fun times, how can you see how the relationship will handle the possible bumpy road ahead when it has really been sunshine and rainbows up to that point? Her answer to me was “Let it break”. She does mean throw it out the window, she was saying “take the kids gloves off” and let life happen a bit. Be less of the “Stepford Wife” we tend to be when it’s all new and shiny. Let the arguments play out, have the more hard conversations, share some of the ugly stuff and let the uncomfortable happen– all while paying close attention. The point is not to cause harm to the relationship intentionally. Again, you are not causing fights to watch the other person squirm, you are just doing less of the dancing around touchy subjects that we do to “keep it chill” when we are still trying to be “the cool girlfriend“. You can be “cool” later in the relationship if you wish but right now you want to get a glimpse of who you are dealing with long-term and be watching for red flags. Does this person fight fair? Is he explosive or simmering? When you are discussing certain topics, is it an equal exchange of ideas or is he talking at you? Do you feel judged? When you are both angry, are you still a team or has it turned into something else? What kind of language does he use to talk about other women? And then, are the outcomes red flags for you? Doing this does not ensure perfection down the road of course, but it at least allows you to get a better sense of who a person is when things are not as easy.

It’s never too late to change your mind. This is one I carry in my back pocket all the time – for everything! It was one of those afternoons where mom was chatting on about things from her college years, I was half listening but perked up at this self-reflection, she said “as a young woman, she felt like she had to “go along to get along’ and she wanted me to know that I can always change my mind…even at the last-minute”. I stewed on this one and thought about all the times, I wanted to back out but felt committed to a date that did not feel right, a party that did not feel right and now as an adult a job/task that did not feel right. I am not sure if this is a girl thing but the ideas of “not making a fuss”, not waiting to spoil the fun and “going along to get along” sure feel like things women struggle with more than men. For the rest of 2017, let’s do less of that. The word “NO” is a complete sentence even if you previously said yes. This should be on a post-it someplace.

You have to teach men how to treat you. I encounter this less now because the older you get the more natural it becomes to just stand in who you are and let them either rise to it or not. But as a young woman dealing with young men, this was pivotal. I was a teen going on group dates at the mall when my mom pulled me aside one day to tell me “When you are going out with a guy, make sure you demand the respect of meeting his parents properly – don’t let him sneak around with you”. This small lesson yields to so much of what we want girls to know today. You set the tone of the relationship with what you accept from another person. To an adult woman,  this means speaking up when you’re offended, not responding to “u up?” texts at 2 am when you want a relationship, and being ready to walk when the red flags go up because… loving another adult human into submission it not a thing (see: #HurtBae).

These are just a few of the many things I learned and held on to as I grew up. They have proved to be true beyond romantic relationships but hearing them in this context allowed me to begin having more healthy relationships. Feel free to share some of the pearls of wisdom you gained from your mother in the comments below.

Why I Love Having a Sister

13 Reasons Why Sisters are Amazing

 

It’s National Siblings Day and although I am the oldest of 4 kiddos, my most interesting relationship is with my sister.

My sister is a generally awesome asset in my life as an adult but as kids… not so much. We fought about everything, we were jealous of everything and it was not until I was in college that I really started to appreciate having a sister at all. But now that I am older and wiser here are 13 things I love about having a sister:

  1. We can hold an entire conversation without speaking. You can be at a party, event, nightclub or whatever but with one look we know exactly what the other is thinking.
  2. The term “Ride or Die” is a compliment for sisters and we do it proudly. If I ever needed to rob a bank, sis would drive the getaway car.
  3. We have infinite clothing options. There is no lifesaver like needing a dress, because you already took pictures in all of yours, and being able to do a quick dress swap with your sister.
  4. Sisters make the best “wing women”. Because your sister knows your approach, she knows exactly how to play it cool and help you catch the eye of the delicious French/Cameroonian at the bar…ayyyee!  
  5. The inside jokes are the best because they are have been brewing your entire life. You can utter just a few words and both dissolved into side-splitting laughter.
  6. They get all into your junk in the best way. Sisters are not afraid to broach those touchy subjects with you. Literal “Sweat Pants Interventions” have happened… I am in recovery. 
  7. They call you on your bullshit, even the bullshit you have convinced yourself is not bullshit. Your sister will not sit by and let you lie to yourself about anything and there is no sugar to coat the comments.
  8. They get your perspective without context. Your sister is the only person you can sorta tell a story to and she will know all the stuff you skipped on purpose. Plus she can completely understand why you are so mad or just side with you because …sisters.
  9. You have a built-in ally against all family members asking about marriage and babies. It’s must be a crime to be over 25, unmarried and Nigerian/Southern.
  10. She knows all your baggage and has even helped you pack it and unpack it a few times so there is not need to be coy with the dirty details.
  11. You have in instant dance partner. Have you ever been out dancing, looking cute and feeling like a “show pony” so you jump on stage? Guess who will come too? Sis. Because we have to show out as a unit.
  12. Before venturing into the unknown, your sister has the complete rundown of plans and who you have them with. You are meeting a guy you met online for dinner – before the date, you make sure sis has screenshots of his profile, his first and last name, all the stuff you googled about him and the details of the date – you know,  in case she needs to ride out. This also applies to traveling to new countries because “riding out” is a global duty.
  13. Sis is always there for a micro-loan. Ever need a few bucks or simply been down at the Sushi bar enjoying life and when the bill came… noticed you forgot your wallet? uh…me neither. But Sis is the perfect person to come to the rescue even when she lives over 30 min. away.

In short, sisters are amazing. Honestly, siblings are amazing (shout out to my two brothers). They are there to rescue you, support you, burst your ego and encourage you to “do better”. I am grateful that even when I wished to be an only child, I had sis by my side getting in the way of my plans for mischief (saving me trauma) and being my biggest cheerleader. In the comments below tell me about your sister, bestie like a sister or brother. I want to hear the stories.signature_xd1d3qpbai29p9qzxk

What Ride or Die Chicks Teach us about relationships

What “Ride or Die Chicks” Teach Us About Relationships

 

What Tiny and other ride or die chicks teach us about relationships

Tiny Harris (maybe not a Harris anymore because …divorce) is the very long time romantic partner of Atlanta rapper, T.I.P Harris. We have been watching the Harris family for years off-screen, and then the last few years on-screen. On-screen, their TV show highlights their cute kids and T.I.P is the Huxtable-like dad but, off-screen, we see the many mug shots, other women, and rumors of drug-fueled alterations. As much as their manufactured message was confusing, there was one thing we are absolutely sure of – Tiny was “ride or die” (this is not a compliment or an insult). This woman gave up her career as a singer, raised 7 kids, took a charge or two, and endured countless affairs and other scandals. It’s shocking what women will forgive for love knowing their men would never do the same for them.

We all know women who do this? #HurtBae, Amina and Tara, Tori Spelling, Huma Abedin, karrueche Tran, Porsha Williams…your mama, your sister, and your friends the list is long. It happens to everyone. The fascinating part of this is not the staying but it’s when they finally leave. The glow up is too real. You start to wonder if this the same person as before. We watch them fall in love with themselves again and plug into life like never before. I love it. I am here for it but how can we never lose ourselves in the first place? After observing them flourish after the break-up, I have a few ideas on how we can maintain that personal happiness and balance without the break-up. 

Be very honest about what you want and the kind of girl you are. Whether we realize or not we let a lot of bs cloud our perspective. Media tells us we should be everything to everyone.We have to be Olivia Pope, Whitely Gilbert and Rainbow Johnson all at once. It is a constant struggle to find your own baseline again and again. Turn off the TV and find out who you are and who you want to be independent of anyone else. Be completely selfish and unapologetic. If you want to stay home and nurse kids? Do it. Wanna travel full-time with a few lovers in a few continents? Do it. Are you independent or do you need a sidekick? The worst mistake we make is trying to find ourselves through another person – it is not fair to the person and it leaves you open to other people’s ideas of who you should be and what you should want. It’s exactly what leads you to…waking up 15 years and many kids, feeling regret.

Have conversations about relationship identity with your partner. When you are in the beginning of a romantic relationship and you are discussing the big stuff – kids (or not), money, family, goals…also talk about roles and identity within the relationship. Talk about independence, parenting, and how you want to feel personally in the context of this new love. Is it important for you to have time and experiences with friends independent of him/her? Are you a family person? Are you looking for a true partnership like a Bey and Jay or are you ok being in the background like Denzel and Pauletta? Do not assume he feels the way to you feel and one conversation will not be enough – you have to keep enforcing who you are and what you want over time. 

Take a solo day/weekend to just focus on yourself. (I like to call these “baseline” days thanks to a singer I love, Choklate.) Whether it is quarterly or bi-annually take some time to march to your own beat – no friends, no bae, and no hard set agenda. I am not talking about a day watching daytime TV and running errands. This is a day for you to personally reset. You want to do things like Yoga, long walks, hikes, coffee shops, personal pampering and/or just some light music and a journal. The idea is live in your own head, be silent, and think about what is important to you right now. Because we live so much of our lives on the go and at the whim of bosses, kids, lovers, partners etc – it can be hard to “Just Be”. But do it! Put it on the calendar right now, send in that time off request and enjoy!

Hold on to your friendships with intention. This is hard for everyone because when you have a great boyfriend/husband/Partner, it’s really easy for them to be the default friend. Single friends think it’s on purpose – it almost never is. We fall into it, like all bad habits as you get older and busier. You have to get intentional about connecting with people. Set up standing brunch dates, schedule girl’s nights, and take “staycations” together. Make time for your great girlfriends. They are just as important as your romantic relationship – these are the women who will call you on your shit, remind you of the dreams you gave up on, plan all your showers (bridal, baby, and sometimes divorce) and be there to catch you. Unlike a romantic relationship, the agenda for them is just about you not how you make them feel within a commitment. They know when you have lost yourself and how to get you back.

Love yourself more than anyone else. I am not going to go into the story people like to tell about the oxygen mask on airplanes but it’s the same message. You have to love yourself first. It’s the broken record of self-help but it’s a classic. #Keepthatshitonrepeat Fall in love and give it freely but love yourself more. Loving yourself more gives you freedom. When you know who you are, take time for yourself, and understand your value, the love you give is better and clearly focused. You are not showing up to a relationship needing a better half – you are a 100% whole and a happy girl seeking another 100% whole and happy partner. And since you are emotionally healthy, you can see the 48% person coming a lot sooner and avoid some drama.

Relationships are never perfect. People are never perfect. We enter them at different stages in life. At 20ish, you think about love completely different from you do at 30ish – mistakes are made by all. Beating yourself up will not change anything so “let that shit go” (my favorite phrase these days) and start today. If you are thinking the relationship you have right now is not healthy – this is not a call to break up or be ashamed. This is a call to take some baby steps towards the life you want and who you want to be. Start with a journal, record your feelings day-to-day – go back and read it after 6 months. The decisions you need to make will become unavoidable the more you focus on your own happiness. If you are single, you have a game plan. And if you are happy, *high five girl*!  In the comments below, tell us how you keep it centered and blissful.

Bound for the promise land, kate clifford larson, harriet tubman, american hero

Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman: Portrait of an American Hero by Kate Clifford Larson | A Review

You thought you knew her but you had no idea and neither did I, by the way

We have been learning about Harriet Tubman aka Moses since grade school. She is one of those black history month staples that people think they know but, we have no idea what she did outside of the underground railroad and even that was not explained well. Kate Clifford Larson’s book, Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman: Portrait of an American Hero did an amazing job of shedding some light on not just Tubman’s life but also the institution of slavery on the eastern shore and the vibe of the nation as a whole before and after emancipation. I could go on and on about this book but I do not want to spoil it for you so here are some “themes” I am still stewing on. (but you have to read it and tell me your thoughts too) 

Harriet Tubman is the pioneer of black girl magic. Tubman was one of those simple women like the grandmas down south. She spoke plainly and had no agenda other than to do what she set out to do.She was not looking for fame or fortune in her pursuits.  Her entire journey started with not wanting her or her family to be sold. She found a way to free herself through the underground railroad and simply decided she was going back for her family. That is it. There was no ego except that she knew she could do it. This is a small, illiterate woman who was prone to blackouts making trips back and forth into slavery to free her family, other people’s family, friends, and kids- how? I  was just overcome with just how brave she had to have been to do this and keep doing it…even after slave patrols, punishments and rewards for capture increased.

White Allies and Abolitionists. A lot of the conversations people had about the role of white allies and white abolitionist back in the 1800’s persist today. Don’t get me wrong, if were not for the white allies on the Underground Railroad I am not sure we would be talking about Tubman the way we do today. Their role was pivotal but I was struck by the words “It’s for her people” and not people. Even though they were against slavery, the idea of full personhood for black people was still something out of their reach. For some, it was easier but for many, it was not helping fellow Americans or humans but rather “those poor unfortunate darkies” need our help. This kind of thinking is the foundation of how people talk about race today.

Harriet and the Civil War. Harriet Tubman’s role during the civil war was paramount. We know that she helped the Union win. The part I was interested in was gender. I had great trouble processing Tubman, Moses if you will, having to be given passes and constantly assert herself as more than a woman. She was rarely paid and often looked down on for her gender ….even more than her race in a war. The work of black women, like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman were all catalysts for the civil war and given the least respect. Even after the war, the government would recognize Harriet only as a nurse, ignoring the role she played in intelligence gathering and the recruitment of black soldiers.

Post-war and the lies we still tell ourselves. After the war, the backlash and resentment heaped on black people in the North was surprising to me. These are places that were anti-slavery and fought against fugitive slave laws and helps slaves evade re-capture. What changed? Was it fatigue of war or were they never “for black people” to begin with? I have questions. I was also shocked by how soon we wanted to soften the war, the institution of slavery and flatten the lives of black abolitionist leaders. We see this in 2017 but to think it started to happen almost immediately after the war was won. It makes you wonder how much progress have we actually made on the hearts and minds front.

The book was really good – it was hard to not just gush about all the things that happened and spoil it for you. It was one of those reads that left me with the screw face a lot. Harriett Tubman is one of the most amazing women in our history – she was incredibly strong and giving to a literal fault. There were so many times where I just wanted her to take care of herself but she had bigger plans and we are grateful for her sacrifice.

Pick it up for yourself!

Lisa Live Well, Interracial love story

An Interracial Love Story | How It Began…

Let’s start by saying, I am in a warm, loving, soul-satisfying interracial relationship with one of the greatest men I have ever known. But when it started (5 years ago), I had questions. I vividly remember cruising online blogs for information to validate all that I was feeling at the time. I heard from a lot of people who either had been married a long time or had some ax to grind in favor or against it but no one spoke to how I was feeling.

I wanted to know how they navigated the start of it. I had casually dated interracially before but this time it was different. Our relationship felt like home – I was thinking about kids, families and our day-to-day lives in this America. Because I had those feelings and questions then, now I want to answer them for someone else.

Where did you meet? We met online… OKCupid.com, to be exact. I had been single for over a year at the time. After being in a long-term relationship since college, I was on a quest to figure out my own ish… “doing the work“, as Iyanla would say. I had started online dating not too long before I met my now, hubster. One day I got a message and messaged back… a week later, we had a drink. After the drink, I was intrigued and here we are. 🙂

How did I feel when it all started? Like any other new relationship, I was excited and scared but what I feared was different this time. Any girl dating after 28 will tell you, you start to wonder if the guy you are dating is “forever bae” as soon as it’s serious. And in this situation, I had to completely recast the vision of what my kids would look like and the things I wanted to tell my daughter about her coiled hair, dark skin, and full lips. I now know that those things don’t change but for a moment I wondered about it. I marveled at the differences in culture, I mean… He didn’t know SWV and 90’s R&B is an American treasure but I had never seen a Star Wars movie so… we both had our things.

How did I talk about it with friends and family? I didn’t for a while just because I wanted to be sure before I pulled them into it, more so because I was 30ish and they didn’t need to meet anymore “friends”. But I also had no idea what the response would be. My mom is a Black American, raised in Mobile, Alabama. My father is a Nigerian expat who just does not like anyone. But I eventually told them or maybe I just let them find out because… that’s an awkward announcement. My dad didn’t care, my mother asked a few problematic questions about my intentions and my siblings well … they have come to accept that I am going to march to my own beat. In all, no blow ups and no one cared. By the end, everybody likes everybody.

How did his family feel about me? Great, I was really scared of this because I had heard the stories from friends in similar relationships where, parents were refusing to come to weddings, accept grandkids or just being super racists. But in my case, it’s been nothing but bliss. I got REALLY lucky as far as in-laws are concerned. Race aside, I actually like them all as people apart from the relationship. #BLESSED

Did I encounter any notable experiences in public? Well, I live in Atlanta (ITP). It’s a city of diversity that actually mixes and no one seems to care. I will say it has worked in our favor a couple times from black women who just seemed to like us together and granted us extra pours after cut off at bottomless brunch. But nothing bad has happened – no “hotep” confrontations on the street.

How has the relationship changed me? I went through a little internal transformation of how I saw myself. I started to think about my kids and the questions they may have about their heritage, so I have made it my business to learn more about not just being Black American, but Nigerian too. This transformation was coming anyway but it’s like being thrown up against a white wall – you are forced to find yourself and get grounded. Bottom line, I am blacker, “womaner” and firm in my truth.

I think when you both look alike, you assume you feel the same way on issues. But in our case, we are having the hard conversations and listening to each other – we agree sometimes and table it other times.

At this point, it’s like any other relationship. We are still having those conversations and still incredibly in love. We have learned a lot from each other but I am still working on him knowing more R&B and he is trying to convince me that U2 is the greatest band ever.

Finding a lasting connection with anyone is hard so my biggest lesson to anyone is to just leave the door open. Put your focus on finding a person with good character, values, and overall good vibes. All the other stuff doesn’t matter.

If you are lucky enough to be on the cusp of a love of any kind of love… swirl, black love, brown love, Gay love… whatever, dive in and hang on. In the end, people are really just people.

International Womens Day, March 8, Women, Ursala Burns, Mellondy Hobson, Lupita, Chimamanda

My Favorite Professional Women and Their Best Advice to Us

Happy International Women’s Day

Mellody Hobson on Passion

“Be a Fanatic and Own that YOU have to convince them.”

Tracee Ellis Ross on Full Womanhood

“I just want to say this. I love being a woman. I love playing a woman. I love being a whole and full woman. I am more than my parts, and we all are. And we all, as women, need to continue to change our gaze from how we are seen to how we are seeing. We are full and beautiful women. And let us live in that.”

Ursala Burns on Speaking up

“I didn’t learn to be quiet when I had an opinion;  the reason they knew who I was is because I told them.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Being Your Self

“All over the world, girls are raised to make themselves likable, to twist themselves into shapes that suit other people. Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are.

Lupita Nyong’o on Beauty

“You can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion, for yourself and those around you. That kind of beauty inflamed the heart and merchants the soul.”

Shirley Chisholm on Service

“Service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth.”

Zora Neale Hurston on Discrimination 

“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”