The Ten Commandments of The Black Church

Growing up in a black church, lets just say it was an experience!  Therefore, I’ve created the Ten Commandments of the Black Church.  These will help you if you’re ever visiting a black church and believe me, they will apply to you at some point in the service…….(study to show thyself approved).

1. Thou shall put up one finger and tiptoe out of service if you’re leaving early.

2. Thou shall bring a snack. Continue reading

Protecting our Daughters!

I remember growing up and often feeling like my sister and I really couldn’t do as much as our friends or cousins did.  There were times when we would beg and plead to stay over someone’s house and the answer was always, NO!  Eventually we got use to the word NO and stop asking to stay places or to even go certain places.  My mother always stated that our friends could come visit us and that was it.  I really didn’t understand why at the time but that was our life.

Just so we are clear, I come from a two parent home, but whatever momma said is what the final rule was.  If we ever tried to out talk my mother all she had to do was say my daddy’s name and my dad would give us a look, as if to say, you heard what your momma said! LOL

Now that I’m older, I understand my mother’s logic quite well and I’m actually very thankful that such guidelines were in place.  I now know that my mother was protecting me from being exposed to potential situations I had no business being in at such a young age.  I also realize that my parents only wanted what was best for my sister and me.

What it boils down to is, a person doesn’t know what goes on at another person’s house behind closed doors.  Not saying that everyone is doing bad things but you just don’t know.  Another parent might have rules that are totally different from what are currently in place at your house.  It’s better to not have a child placed in an environment that could be totally foreign to them.

All of this came to mind after I was watching the “Surviving R. Kelly” docuseries that recently aired on Lifetime.  In case you didn’t watch the series, this man has preyed on younger girls for most of his music career causing mental, physical, and sexual abuse to young girls and women as they told their personal stories.  The docuseries highlighted his actions from a young child all the way up to today–where it is said that he had a sex cult.  I watched the show with my daughter as it was very hard to do so, but being that I too, have a 14 year old child, I felt it was necessary and important.

I remember listening to him in heavy rotation as a teenager, not really knowing or putting two and two together.  Now when I think about some of the songs that he made they seem to all be centered on him targeting young naïve children.  Songs like Bump & Grind, and the lyrics stating “His mind is telling him no…but his body is telling him yes!”  Imagine him, as a 28 year old man singing this to a 14  year old girl.

What’s even more disgusting are the parents who act like they couldn’t do anything to protect their children.  I remember listening to the show and this one couple stating that their child who was 14 at the time, threatened them if they didn’t let her go away with R. Kelly.

Really!

Are you kidding me?

Who’s the parent and who’s the adult in this situation?

I wish my daughter would come to me and tell me she’s running off with some guy and if I don’t let her she’s going to threaten me.  Honey, you better send all your threats then because my number one mission and goal is to always protect my child whether she likes it or not.  I hate to see parents not protecting their children and just letting them do whatever they want.  It’s time for us to take back the parent role in our households.  I tell my daughter all the time, you will thank me when you get older and that’s that.

I also believe that it is our responsibility to not only protect our daughters but to also have the best interest of other children that may cross our paths at heart.  During this R. Kelly docuseries so many people were helping and assisting him with getting way with being a predator and no one ever stood up for these young girls.  No one came to their rescue.  No one had enough balls to tell R. Kelly NO!  They were all smitten by his fame and celebrity lifestyle that they allowed a grown man to take advantage of innocent girls.

So the current question floating around social media is can you separate the artist from art?  I believe in this instance, there is no way to separate the two.  Time after time he wrote and sung songs that were centered on having sex with young girls and WE as a culture have ignored every single solitary sign that has come across our TV’s and radio. It’s time that we do better.  We can start by not listening to his music!

I want to publicly ask my generation to stop listening to R. Kelly’s music as protecting our daughters should be more important than listening to his music.  How about we not give him wings so that he can fly any more.  How about we step in the name of love and protect our daughters.   Lets also teach our daughters the importance of self worth and self love.  That no man should ever be able to take their power or voice away from them.

LETS PROTECT OUR DAUGHTERS.  YOUNG BLACK GIRLS ARE IMPORTANT TOO!

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Itoja’s Top 5 Blogs of 2018

Hey Friends!

For starters, check out my shirt in the featured picture.  I ran across it online and I just had to order it.  It’s such a conversation starter; with those who know I’m a blogger and also to those who have no clue!

So when I’m wearing the shirt, I typically respond with, yes, I am a blogger plus so much more!  As you all know, I recently celebrated my one year blogging anniversary (you can find that post HERE); this past year has been a blast and I’ve posted a ton of blogs! 🙂  Today, I’m sharing my top 5 blogs of the year with you.  It’s my year-end wrap-up!

At Last….My Love has come along! Here I share my last blog before getting married.  I also share some of the anxieties I was having as we got closer to the big day!

The Black community needs therapy too! Therapy is something that is not often talked about in the black community–Here I share why it IS needed.

My Top 5 Mystery Podcast I love Podcast. It literally helps my work day go by faster. Here are my top 5 mystery podcast. I can’t wait to share more with you in 2019.

5 reasons to read “The Face of Expression” By Aaron Woodson My first book review. Find out why you should read “The Face of Expression.”

I Have Beef With Our Black Brothers Earlier in the year I spoke about why I was upset with Black men. (FYI: Meek Mill, whom I reference in the post is no longer in jail).

Were one of these blogs on your top favorite list?  If you have your own personal favorite, be sure to share it below.

Also, share your favorite podcast–I’m eager to listen.

Be sure to stay tuned for what’s to come from Itoja in 2019.  I can’t believe this year has gone by so fast.  Love what you’re reading?  Click the SUBSCRIBE button and follow me on Social Media!

Your Virtual BFF,

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How “woke” are you?

“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.

The most unprotected person in America is the black woman.

The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” ~ Malcolm X

Just how “woke” are you?  The term “being woke” stems from the ideology of being aware and informed from a sociological aspect.  Particularly in reference to the black culture.

Many will claim that they are “woke” or “woke-ish” – if you want to give someone the benefit of the doubt.

However, I’m starting to question one’s ability to be “woke” when we (myself included) tend to put people on pedestals as if they could do no wrong.  From preachers to entertainers to family members and so on.  These people are humans just like the rest of us and it’s time to for us to stop being so naïve.

I also question one’s ability to be “woke” when the value of black females is not a concern of the culture or the human race.  We are quick to cover and defend African-American men but we do not do the same for African-American women.  For decades R. Kelly has had inappropriate relationships with black women and young girls and nothing has been said.  The culture has ignored allegations because we don’t want to bring another “Brother” down, BUT on the flip side Kelly is abusing African American women and no one is on their side.  Instead, you’re continuously going to his concerts and throwing panties on the stage.

Black people stood beside OJ Simpson like they’ve never stood beside anyone else before and we all know OJ is a murderer.  Let’s stop sugar-coating crimes and violations just because it’s a black man that’s committing them.  Let’s stop acting like certain people, because of their public figure status, aren’t subject to doing wrong.  Some of us have yet to separate Bill Cosby from his CHARACTER on the Cosby Show.  I’ll be the first to admit that at one point, I didn’t believe the stories of rape that individuals were coming out with.  But after a while I had to go deep down inside to reevaluate myself and my thoughts.  How could I take away someone else’s truth?  I only knew him based off of his CHARACTER that he portrayed on his show.  A person can have the greatest intentions but still do bad.  A person can be a great actor but still a bad person.  Or a great Pastor in the pulpit but a bad person once outside the church double doors.

But furthermore, when was I going to stand up for women?  While I’ve never been raped, I have been in some uncomfortable situations.  I have felt the pressure coming from men on a number of occasions all because they thought they were entitled.  As a mother to a teenage daughter, no longer could I continue to ignore and make excuses for such behavior!

If we’re really “woke”, lets stand for all people no matter race or gender.  Wrong is wrong and right is right.  We have to stop supporting people who takes advantage of the weak, the underdog, and just women in general.

Women should be valued too!

 

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Have you been to the underground?

Knowing your history is important.  Whether it’s your families medical history, your credit history, or the history of your ancestors–when you are in the “know” you’re allowing yourself the opportunity for growth.  In addition to growth, you’re preparing yourself for any obstacles that may come your way in advance.

This is why I’m not quite sure why it is being asked that the black culture should forget about slavery and forget about the many roadblocks that black people have had to endure over time.  I ranted about this a little on Facebook but figured this was the better platform to vocalize my opinion.

Let’s face it, we are ONLY 54 years out of segregation.  Meaning, my living parents and grandparents have all lived through a divided world and are all here to share their stories and experiences whenever they feel the need to.  The life of a black person isn’t a made up thriller story that people are fabricating just for the heck of it.  It’s easy for people to say that we (black people) should forget about “color” whenever black people decide to talk about slavery, the past, or racial issues but do you see white people forgetting “color” when blacks are harassed for being in a store for too long?  Or for being killed for having a toy gun?  This all boils down to fairness.  Equality.  Checks and balances.

Just because a person may not experience racism/oppression/bondage (or whatever it is that you have endured) doesn’t mean it is not true.  The fact that people are trying to say that slavery didn’t exist, that it was choice, and that we should forget about it, truly baffles me.

This brings me to the gist of this blog.  While hanging out in Northern Virginia for a quick weekend trip my family and I made our way to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), located in Washington, DC on the National Mall.

img_3976I’ve been itching to make it to this museum since it opened in September of 2016.  I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried to get tickets online to no avail.  One year and 7 months later this museum is still one of the hardest museums to get into due to its popularity and the length of time attendees are spending inside.

Instead of attempting to get tickets online, we thought we would just try on a random Saturday since we were already in town.  We arrived at the museum midday with no tickets.  While the men searched for a place to park, the ladies approached the gentleman working and asked if there were any day passes left.  He gave us what he had, which were only three passes but we needed seven!  He advised us to try back in a few hours.  Taking his advice, we took the three tickets that were available and decided to venture around to other museums.  Before heading back to NMAAHC we enjoyed lunch at Ben’s Chili Bowl and enjoyed the beautiful Spring day in the States Capital.

Once we returned, they had exactly four passes available.  With those four passes plus the three we had from earlier, we were now ready to go inside!  We took a chance and luckily, it worked in our favor.

So here I was.

Ready and anxious to explore.  I had an idea of what to expect but at the same time I really wasn’t sure.  The museum was ten years in the making.  Not ten years to build but ten years to go from a thought, federal laws, funding, and to finally being able to build.  Another few years would pass as they began construction and collecting over 35,000 artifacts.

We were advised to start from the bottom floor and to work our way up to the higher levels.  I would also advise others to do the same if they are ever visiting the museum; I think that was a great idea looking back.  We all (my family plus other attendees) gathered on a huge elevator and traveled downed to the bottom floor, which is actually underground.  The elevator was glass with a black wall behind it.  As we traveled down to the underground floor we began seeing the years printed on the walls.  The years would scroll down in descending order as if we were going back into time. 1900s, 1800s, 1700s, 1600s, 1500s, 1400s!  Then the elevator stopped.

img_3950.jpgWe were dropped off in slavery.  It was dark and gloomy.  Dark in spirit and dark in light.  The area was tight, which I believe was done on purpose.  As you walked around you felt a sadness all around you.  So many words to read, so many things to see, with a double dose of heartache.  I’d stand there stunned trying to comprehend but really I couldn’t.  I could barely fathom the pain and to think that for hundreds of years MY ancestors had to live through this.

img_3949Slaves were traded for goods. They were beaten and abused and owned by slave masters.  Auctioned off like old cars.  Slaves were not given the privilege to learn how to read or write because slave masters were afraid the slaves would figure out how to escape.  Viewing the shackles and the mistreat that was bestowed upon our ancestors made me feel like I was living in that moment for just a second.  Everything felt ten times more real just by walking through exhibits in a museum.

img_3951Imagine actually living during those times.  Nothing about being a slave was a choice.  When they came over on ships, tied together and malnourished, many didn’t even make it over.  Some jumped off ships as dying was better than having to suffer.  They didn’t know the language and had nothing.  Slave masters left slaves in their wills as if they were pieces of property passed down through the family.

img_3956It was a lot to take in.  So much so, that we chose not see the entire slavery portion of the museum.  We wanted to have the chance to see the other floors within the museum and decided to move out of that era.  We also decided to skip the next floor which was the Jim Crow segregation floor and the Civil Rights era.

We headed our way up to the 70s and 80s.  The era of “I’m Black and I’m Proud.”   We strolled as we “ahhed” in amazement.  The progression that black people had made over the years was substantial.  For once, it felt good to see positive images of the black culture.

img_3970We kept moving up into the 90s and the 2000s steadily progressing but at times feeling like our black culture had become stagnant, again.

We strolled around the sports section…..

Film…..

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Music…..

and just black people at its greatness, in every genre and facet imaginable.

Indeed, the culture has come far.  The museum also highlights President Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United States.

img_3964There wasn’t enough time to really take in every aspect of the museum.  We needed more than the 2.5 hours we allotted ourselves.  I’ve read that many people have spent around 8 hours in the museum.  With its own Café, plus a theater, I can see how easily this could happen.

I would advise anyone to visit this museum.  I guarantee you will leave with a different perspective on things.  I remember seeing some white people browsing the museum as I was.  I thought to myself, “maybe they get it.” Maybe they understand the importance of knowing the real story.  No matter your color you should visit this museum and allow it to be educational for you.

img_3962As a proud black woman I realize how far we have come but at the same time I realize the additional steps we must take in order to continue to move forward.  The NMAAHC does a great job of chronologicalling the Aftrican American history.  It is up to all of us to continue to strive for complete freedom.

My heart has been heavy since our museum visit because I just don’t understand why or how individuals could be so ignorant of the black struggle.

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The term, “started from the bottom; now we’re here” fits the mold of most black people’s life as well as this museum.  Which is why starting from the bottom underground floor and working your way up is key.  And yes, there is a lot of pain associated with those dark days of slavery.  Century after century we’ve taken two steps forward and then are somehow knocked back one.  But one of the greatest assets of black people is that we never give up.  Even when we have to start from the bottom, we make a way out of no way and we rise up!!

 

 All opinions in this post are of my own!

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The Black community needs therapy too!

For centuries, it was unheard of, that black people would go to a therapy session.  Or to see a shrink as some would like to put it.  The black communities therapist was the prayer line or going to talk to your pastor about your problems; but what was so wrong about going to see a therapist?

I’m not sure what the problem was back then.  I believe for most people they figured if they didn’t dwell on the situation that their problems would just fade away like dust in the air.  I suspect that’s why they’re so many generational curses in the black community as well as hurt and unforgiveness that hang over many of our heads.  No one has taken the time to talk things out in order to gain a clearer understanding of what has transpired in their lives.  Past hurts, depressions, secrets, shames, and faults have all been swept under the rug.  I could also say that money has probably played some part in the fact that black people hasn’t always been willing to see a therapist.  Which is understandable.

Whether a person decides to visit a therapist or not, it is often great to have someone you can talk to without judgement.  Which is something you may encounter when trying to talk to a friend or family member about whatever it is that you may be going through.

I talked briefly about the time I decided to go visit a therapist after a terrible breakup in THIS post.  For me, I wanted an outsider to give me their unbiased opinion about my situation.  I wanted to figure out where things went wrong and where I went wrong.  I didn’t want to feel ashamed or bad for the way that I was feeling.  I also didn’t want the dreaded “I told you so” from my family or friends.  It just wasn’t the time for all of that.  So I went to a therapist without anyone knowing.  Within only a few sessions I was feeling better and more confident about myself and my situation.  I felt at peace and hopeful.

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Having someone to vent to is almost a necessity in today’s life.  Whether, it’s a family member, a friend, or a therapist.  Or someone you don’t really know but they are able to give you effective feedback and advice.  I remember as if it was yesterday, being at work and just sitting at my desk crying.  I suddenly heard a lady, that I did not know at the time, and who had no idea why I was so upset, speaking to me giving me the most sound advice.  From that day forward we’ve had a number of one-on-one sessions and I consider her to be a great friend.  I refer to her now as my Iyanla Vanzant.  She can give it to you straight with no chaser and can sense when something isn’t right with you.

It’s also important to know that when a person gives you effective feedback it is usually not what you want to hear.  That’s how you know it’s real.  It’s up to you at that point if you are willing to accept it.

At times, I think we all need tools for processing life as well as an outside perspective on very important and personal subject matters; which we can gain these tools from a therapist or from someone who has traveled in your same shoes.

If you find yourself unable to go to a therapist, you may know or be able to find someone who is willing to give you a listening ear or great feedback.  Today, you can even find a licensed therapist through apps and have chatting sessions.  It is important to not let situations escalate or build up especially if those situations can cause more damage down the line.  Life is too short.

My motto is to Live my life in Peace; and not Pieces!

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Kirkland’s New Cotton Trend is Humiliating….check out the pic!!

You know, I am really unsure of what type of world we live in today.  But what I do know is the fact that the chain store Kirklands, yes your favorite decorating store, has the nerve, the audacity, the bravery to come out with balls of COTTON as decorations is beyond me.img_2803-1

Let’s be clear.  This isn’t just some pillows made out of cotton.  This is cotton that looks like it’s been freshly picked out of the nearest field.  How degrading, hurtful, and humiliating.  I need to know who is over this design department.  Who is the owner and CEO of said store because I have never seen anything like this.  We don’t need any reminders of slavery, we don’t need reminders of what our ancestors had to go through.  We have constant reminders every single day.  This is just pouring salt over a wound that hasn’t even began to heal yet.

You mean to tell me you couldn’t find anything else to use for your Spring collection or whatever you want to call it.  Besides, you tell me what is cute about having cotton hung up on your wall?  Or what’s cute about having a garland of cotton crawling down the rails of your steps?  Moreover, who approved this nonsense??  The fact that you didn’t even think to perhaps color the balls, make them out of ceramic or ANYTHING proves that you really don’t give a crap about how this would make blacks feel.

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I need answers and I need them fast.  Kirklands????????  Where the hell are you?  Am I the only one who feels this way?

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