All posts filed under: Culture

No Easy Answers: Untangling My Ancestral Web | TaRessa Stovall

When I honor my Ancestors with shoutouts and praisesongs, I always begin with my mother. Then I honor her mother, my Baubie. Move on to Baubie’s mother and father. Then on to Baubie’s father’s mother and father and that’s as far as I know the names to call on that side. Names of Jews (maybe Ashkenazi, maybe Sephardim, maybe a mixture) who fled the pogroms of Russia as children to the frozen state of Minnesota, where they put down roots on the northern side of the Mississippi, learned English and carved out a living in North Minneapolis where the Black people lived. Where my mother grew up with a crush on her elder’s brother’s good-looking tap-dancing Black friend who became my father. When I shout out my father and his parents, whose stories I don’t much know, I ask them to come through my dreams, plant seeds of their journeys so I can better understand the swirl of African, German, and Native American that they contributed to my DNA. My mother was the middle of …

Overcoming stigma and shame: Seeking therapy as a Black Woman to improve my life, embrace my true self | Cara Tait-Fanor

A wave of guilt rushes over me before I call to let her know I am only one block away. Kai is definitely loudly calling for me in the background, and not making it any easier for her sister. I begin to wonder if my weekly therapy sessions are selfish. If it is wrong to leave my two-year-old with her fourteen-year-old sister for my 45-minute sessions. Maybe this is putting too much stress on the family. Maybe I should switch to biweekly. Maybe I shouldnʼt be spending this money, since it is an added expense. And then I recall life before therapy. The weekends that I did not get out of bed. The panic attacks in the morning before work. The moments of inexplicable sadness I felt in the middle of the night when I cried quietly, not wanting to disturb my husband. And I know that to not take care of myself, to not begin to find ways to do more than endure, or pretend … that is actually the more selfish act. For …

Legacy | The Face and Sound of Power

I approached my Jetta in the small Credit Union parking lot after using the ATM. My daughter and her best friend were chasing each other around the car, laughing. “Get in the car.” I said. They kept running around, playing their own version of tag. “Get into car or I will have to hurt you.” I said mockingly, knowing they understood I was playing. “Don’t hurt your child.” Startled, I turned to look at a woman standing at a nearby car. I had not seen her. My back tightened and I couldn’t form any words. The girls stopped too. As if under a microscope, I felt myself being examined. Forcing a smile, I said: “I was just kidding.” Who was she to decide what my intent was? On the one hand I get it – taken out of context it could sound menacing. It reminded me of how little we really know about what any of us does or why. In this case it became a funny story that my daughter still loves to repeat. …

Post-election: Mothering in the moments after

There’s a homeless man who collects cans and bottles by my workplace. His right knee is in need of surgery, which causes him to walk with a limp. He is exactly 11 years and 20 days older than me, but he looks like he could be my dad. He has an American flag tied to the side of his cart. I typically run into him on the street corner when I’m leaving my shift to pick my daughter up from school. If I have a few extra minutes to spare, we’ll shoot the shit for a bit, and if I have a few extra dollars, I’ll buy him some lunch. A couple of months ago, I walked out of work to find him visibly upset. “Man, I’m SICK of all these Trump supporters!”, he said to me with a slight crack in his voice. Before I continue my story, it should be noted that I live in the Bay Area. Oakland, to be exact. We’re so liberal here, we give all the other liberals raging …

Children Question the Bully’s Right to the Presidential Seat

I was in 6th grade, that era of awkward limbs and suffocating self-consciousness, when a strange man told me I could not see. “Young lady,” he said, “I don’t see how you’ve been walking around here all this time without running into stuff.” The optometrist turned to my mother, who stood on the side of the room, her big brown leather purse hanging from her right shoulder; her shoulder bending under the pressure. “This girl needs glasses,” the optometrist said. “Immediately. “You know— she is what we declare as ‘legally blind.’” I could see shame descending on my mother. She covered her mouth with her hand. “Sand, why haven’t you told me?” She turned back to the optometrist, exasperated. “She doesn’t talk. She doesn’t say what’s going on with her, so you just never know.” A divorcée stringing together a living on an entry-level government job salary, Mama spent her days and evenings working on a military base just outside our small Louisiana town. While her job provided health insurance, there really was no time …