Living Your Best Life While Doing Life Afraid

Imagine this…You are living in Atlanta, Donald Trump has just won the election. You are shocked, you are in disbelief. You look over at your young son, his Black life matters more than anything in the world to you. Like so many Black mothers in the US, you worry for his future, you stress at the education systems private and public that are failing him, you worry about the preconceptions about his Black body that could cut his life short,  so the next day, you wake up and put in an application for a passport. In a year, you’ll be on a plane headed for mexico, scared, but sure that at least for now, you’re making the right decision.    Meet Aja Rutledge.  This is her story.

AJa
Aja Rutledge

In her own words, ‘Aja is a former corporate, working mom who ditched it all and left the hustle and bustle to explore the world with her son. They see the world as their teacher and their travels as their lessons. Through fear, Aja travels and pushes boundaries to live her dreams while teaching her son to live his through example. Aja is an advocate for travel as an education, solution and lifestyle. She documents her journey on her blog, Doing Life Afraid, helps single moms move abroad through her online course, The Single Mom’s Path to Freedom: How International Living Can Change the Game and fulfills others travel dreams through her travel agency, bTripping.

On this week’s podcast, I chat with Aja about her story, how she made the move to Mexico, her plans for the future and her story.

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The Secret Lives of Black Mothers

When I scheduled this latest conversation for the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast. It was meant to be three people talking about the idea of achievement being equated to ‘acting white’ and the phrase ‘Oreo cookie’ that is hurled at Black kids who don’t fit the ‘stereotype.’   This episode does talk about that issue, but my conversation with fellow blogger, Trish Frempong of Confessions of a Hustling Mama, is also about so much more.  It captures all of the complications, uncertainty, joy and pain of parenting and living as a Black mother.

“My kids are not safe in their school”
“I would make myself small in social situations”
“A colleague called me a bounty bar, because they said I acted white”Just a few nuggets from this episode the Woke Mommy Chatter Podcast. If you listen to only one episode – this is the one to listen to.Trish

Listen as we explore education and learning while Black, working while Black and just the experience of living and existing in a Black body and how that impacts the way we parent our kids.

This isn’t an episode to miss.

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

Libsyn: http://wokemommy.libsyn.com

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/wokem

The one where we talk about Princess Truly…because representation matters

I don’t know any black parent who doesn’t struggle to find books with characters that their child can relate to.  So that’s why when I came across the book I am Truly.  I snapped it up. I picked it purely on instinct. I looked at the cover and saw a little black girl and thought, that looks like my girl…I am getting this book. It was that basic.  Never could I have imagined that the words on the inside would be just as striking, just as powerful, just as inspiring as the picture on the front cover.

I am Truly, ‘truly’ is one of my favorite books.   I actually enjoy reading it…(I am not trying to skip pages on this one).

Truly

So that’s why I was so excited to speak to the author of the Princess Truly series, Kelly Greenawalt on this episode of the Woke Mommy Chatter Podcast.

We talk about how the book came to be, why she wrote it, how kids react when she reads it to them in school and we touch on her busy life as a mom of six children.

In the Episode 8 of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast, Kelly and I will continue our conversation and talk Transracial adoption.

Visit Kelly’s website to find out how you can order your Princess Truly book and you can also follow her Facebook page.  You can also check out Amariah’s website and see more f her beautiful illustrations.

 

Listen now and Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

 

NO- I will never just ‘move on’ from Slavery.

Who the hell does David Cameron think he is? If I hear one more person say that black people should move on from slavery I’m going to loose my mind.

Would he dare say to a Jewish audience that they should get over the holocaust? Which occurred for a shorter period of time than slavery?

Black people were enslaved for centuries. And it wasn’t just a loss of liberty, we lost our languages, our culture, our religions, our traditions, our connection to family, our very sense of identity. All of these things were stripped from us and it’s these connections that new immigrants to the west are able to maintain, that allows them to thrive. That allows them to join forces with people like Cameron in saying, we made it- move on from Slavery.

The transatlantic slave trade took place over 300 years. 300 years. I’ll repeat 300 years. In the Caribbean countries like Jamaica and Barbados only got their independence from the UK in 1962 and 1966 respectively.

The Civil Rights Movement in the states took place in the 60s. In the Caribbean colonialism is entrenched in every aspect of life, in every system TO THIS DAY. In the UK, where I was born, they still refered to black babies as golliwogs until 25 years ago. (As an aside- A Golliwog is a black minstrel type doll- and you’ll never guess what I saw in the corner of my local ‘British shop’ in CaNADA a few years ago- u tim I asked them to remove it). And even though people like David Cameron would say there’s no proof, the UK is also the place where signs saying No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs hung. The proof is in the stories of people like my parents and many others. These things don’t exist in isolation. They are the product of a lifetime of colonialism and anti- black sentiment perpetuated from centuries of slavery.

We are living with the legacy of slavery and colonialism held up by the ancestors of people like Cameron. Today, Black children in the US, U.K. and Canada are being ripped from their homes, put in foster care or group homes or being made wards of the state and given to white families. THAT’s the legacy of slavery and colonialism. Black kids are struggling in schools, they are being suspended at higher rates, they are being over medicated and over diagnosed with ADHD and a host of other behavioural issues. THATs a legacy of slavery and colonialism. Black kids today are being locked up for minor infractions like marijhuana possession at the same time as white people build businesses and invest in marijuaa dispenseries. THAT is a legacy of slavery and colonialism.

Many people of all colours do not want to face or understand the history and sheer trauma that has been inflicted on black people across the world. This isn’t about victim hood- because black people have proven time and time again how resilient and strong we are. And that’s the problem. That resilience and the fact that some of us have ‘made it’ despite these insurmountable barriers allows people like Cameron to say ‘get over slavery.’

I will never get over Slavery and I will make damn sure my children never forget it either. Do some bloody research and actually read the accounts of slaves, read the horror stories, not the American fairy tale we see in movies. Read the accounts and then come back and say get over it. That trauma is in our DNA. It’s not going anywhere.

Cameron would do better to shut his mouth and open his eyes to the Libyan Slave trade or should they just get over it too?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/30/jamaica-should-move-on-from-painful-legacy-of-slavery-says-cameron?CMP=share_btn_fb

On Homeschooling…

The face of homeschooling is changing across North America as more and more black parents choose to educate their children in order to give them the best possible schooling possible.

On episode 5 of the Woke Mommy Chatter Podcast, I am talking to Eva Greene Wilson author of  the blog  socamom.com and Yolanda Newton, Director of EducationRevolt.org.

We talk about the reasons why homeschooling works for their family, why black families in particular can benefit from homeschooling and what some of the limitations of the public education system are.

Last week, I wrote my own  piece for Today’s Parent magazine on how and why black parents to advocate for their children in order to help them succeed.  We’ve had great teachers so far and the education system seems to be working for my kids, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about homeschooling, especially after talking to these amazing homeschooling mothers.

im-not-a-pushy-helicopter-mom-1280x960-1-1024x576

Listen to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast….Episode 5 – The one where we talk about homeschooling.

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts to get automatic downloads of new episodes every Tuesday.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

 

There’s more…..Want to know more about Charter Schools?  Listen to 

Woke Mommy Chatter- The Podcast: Episode 2

The one where we talk about interracial dating and identity.

Don’t forget to subscribe and download the latest episode of the Woke Mommy Chatter Podcast. This week I continue my conversation with fellow Woke Moms Rochelle and Carla. We talk mixed race kids and identity, perception and micro-aggressions. Be sure to tune in, like and share.

You can subscribe from apple podcast using the link below or download anywhere yu you get your podcast.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/woke-mommy-chatter-the-podcast/id1293971353?mt=2

On Black Mom Groups

Yes, I belong to black only moms group. They have been a sanctuary for me. Before I found these groups I was struggling. My son was struggling with identity issues. He didn’t want to be ‘brown’ he hated his hair and waited ‘straight yellow hair.’

I knew what was missing….his village. We have a huge family, but they all live in far flung places of the globe, so aside from my immediate family, my kids really don’t have many other black people around. We live in a PW (predominately white) town, they go to PW school. Everything in their world is PW and that is a struggle because for them, there is never representation, they are always different. And if you think kids don’t notice differences then you are not a parent, because they do.

So, I did what moms of the digital age all over the world do. I turned to the internet and I started a group called the Afrocentric Kids Club, I was hoping it could become a place where black kids could get together and socialize with other kids that look like them. Once i had made the group, I needed members so I turned to local moms groups to advertise. I explained why I had created the group and needless to say the response was not well received. The pair filled up with comments about reverse racism, and kids not seeing colour and all sorts of other misnomers. In fact I was kicked out of the group that I had posted in. I sat at my kitchen table crushed, upset, crying, feeling alone. Somehow between all that I stumbled across the Black Moms Connection group. This group has been my lifeline and I am grateful everyday that I’ve found a moms group where I can discuss the specific issues that come with raising black children in a safe place. The founder of this group (which is 9000 strong) wrote an article for Today’s Parent recently, and the comments reacting to the article are just so ignorant.

The bottom line is that mainstream Facebook groups are not safe places for women of colour. All moms need a space where they can ask questions, raise concerns and discuss their issues with a group that understands them without feet of prejudice or racism. I’m now a member of a number of black moms groups and I love them. I don’t care if it’s self segregation, these groups have been a life saver for me and my mental health and the tips, advice and support I receive in these groups is helping me raise confident, loving, proud and resilient black children and I’m grateful for that.

There’s nothing wrong with being proud to be black

So apparently black pride is a threat the FBI feels the need to name and deal with. I know some people hate the term Woke. It’s overused. It’s also used in the wrong context and yes it’s become commercialized. I’m sure you’ve seen the t-shirts. But despite that I still like it. And for me at least, it truly describes my experience. I’ve always been proud to be black. I was raised to know and appreciate my history, but even so I feel like I’ve spent most of my life apologizing for my blackness. And I don’t mean feeling bad about being black, I mean apologizing in the sense of toning down who I am so that other people (white people) feel comfortable around me.

That has meant code switching, speaking differently, talking about race, black issues and ‘keeping it real’ only with my black family and friends- for everyone else it was surface discussions, smile, don’t talk about politics, don’t talk about race, don’t get angry (you don’t want to be the angry black women), don’t conform to any black stereotype they may have. Don’t call out blatant or subtle racism. Ignore it, second guess it, maybe it’s not what you think. Smile and engage when they ask about your hair.

But having children has changed this for me. I don’t want my kids to live like that. I don’t want them to divorce their race from who they are in order to live in a mainstream world. I want them to be unapologetic in their blackness.

My Woke moment came last year, in the midst of all the black lives being taken by police force, my son was grappling with his own identity and I realized that we had to do things differently. We had to talk about race, because there was no getting away from it. There’s no transcending it- and that is OK. The point is you don’t need to transcend it.

I’m going to talk about being black, I’m going to surround myself with black people. Yes, on occasion I self- segregate and I do that for my own mental health, because dealing with consistent micro-aggressions can be draining. I want to build a career that will help improve the lives of black people.

I want my kids to have black friends, I want my daughter to go to a black dance school, because I want her to feel comfortable in her body, in her skin and I would like for there to be one place, where she isn’t different, where she doesn’t have to worry that her hair won’t be ‘flat enough.’ I want to find a black scouts group for my son, because I want him to feel confident in who he is and be around others that look like him. If I could, I would send my children to an all black school that can cater to their specific needs and build them into the resilient people that they will need to be to survive this world. Because in our society, there are so few spaces where they can truly be accepted as they are. That doesn’t mean I don’t like white people. It doesn’t mean I don’t like my white friends anymore. It doesn’t mean I don’t value the friendships my children have made with kids of other races. It doesn’t mean any of that.

What it means is that I no longer care to make other people comfortable at my expense. What it means is that my comfort, my well being and that of people like me is now a priority. And that doesn’t make me an extremists. But my pride in being black is what makes me and others like me, whose eyes are open, who are unapologetic in their blackness…a threat. Because we are no longer playing the game. Because we no longer have the patience for understanding. Because we no longer care whether others feel comfortable with who we are. Because we are putting black first. Because we are betting on black and shopping black and rooting for black and living black proudly and loudly. And that’s a threat.

http://www.theroot.com/fbi-launches-cointelpro-2-0-targeting-black-identity-ex-1819222532?rev=1507315003716&utm_source=theroot_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow