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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Getting real….talking black lives, Trump and parenting

As an outsider looking into to the mess that is the United States, more often than not I am left speechless.  Beyond that though, as a mother, as someone with family in the US, there is a deep sense of solidarity with black folk and the struggles that they face, because although to a lesser extent, these are the same struggles of black people in nearly all western countries.

Whether it is a President whose disdain for black people and black lives is evident in his daily comments, attitudes, policies, silences, or the Flint water crisis, or the consistent use of deadly force against black men, women and children by police, or the crisis in inner city schools, or the fact that this lists could go on and one, the fact remains that despite the multitude of black millionaires gracing our screen daily, black people in America are not living a life based on equality.

As a mother, I can’t imagine the stress that all of this places on your existence and that of your children.

Black bodies are continually exploited in America, even by those who claim to do good.  In episode 4 of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast, the Clinton Foundation is referenced as trying to steal breast milk from black women.  This sounds like a conspiracy theory right…but it’s not, there is truth here.   With breast feeding rates already very low in the black community, the Clinton Foundation’s apparent misguided approach to increasing rates was to encourage black women to sell their breast milk. It makes no sense. Based on the fact that:

  1. black women are having a hard time breast feeding already
  2. there’s already a history of exploitation and forced wet nursing in the African American community
  3. who has the money to buy breast milk anyway, likely not the black women who aren’t breast feeding, more than likely white women.  So what is really going on here?

I think I’ve said a couple of times. Anyone with an interest in African American history, contemporary history…read the book Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington.

It details the medical experimentation that has taken place on black bodies throughout American history- right up until present day, nearly always without consent. If you read anything in the next few months. Read this.

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In this episode of the Woke Mommy Chatter Podcast, we get real and talk Black Lives Matter, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin.  We talk about what it’s like to tell your child they will not be allowed to walk to the store alone and how you protect your kids, and your mental health in a world where you are under siege.

Listen to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast….Episode 4 – The one where we get real, talking Trump, black lives and parenting.  

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

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Don’t let John Kelly re-write History

I’m pretty sure it’s blatantly obvious that I’m no conservative. So typically, when I see the asinine, ignorant and tone deaf comments made by some conservative politicians, across the western world,I generally roll my eyes. Needless to say, I’ve been in a perpetual state of eye-rolling since Trump has been elected. But some things just defy eye-rolling and lead to a general mouth drop. John Kelly saying that a ‘lack of compromise’ led to the American Civil War is one those mouth dropping occasions.
I like to think i’m a bit of history buff, it was my minor in University, American History in particular. But you don’t need to be a history buff to know that the American Civil War was fought over slavery. Slavery…as in the ownership and enslavement of an entire race of people for hundreds of years. Slavery…as in the routine practice of separating families, working people to death, ripping babies from their mothers to be sold, whipping people bloody, raping women, essentially doing whatever you please to an entire race of people. Slavery. The civil war was fought over that. Over slavery. So where exactly in the narrow republican world was the compromise supposed to be?

Oh you can whip your slaves but don’t kill them? You can own these groups of people, but let’s free these ones? Where was the compromise? What exactly were the North and South supposed to compromise about? I’ve heard many people over the last year or so say that slavery could return to the US and honestly, I roll my eyes at that too. But the fact that the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States gets on national TV and justifies and defends the slave owning south and states that slavery was something to compromise over is scary as heck. You don’t need to ask him twice what he thinks of black people. Unbelievable.

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