Category Archives: THE TROLLS

The internet has given people the comfort to be disrespectful behind the mask of a device. Most of the time I ignore them but, sometimes you simply have to Slay the Trolls!

BLACK FEMINIST

I will never understand how some people can love one part of a person’s anatomy, but when people organize and ban together to support that shared anatomy, it becomes the most hated thing in the world. This thing is pussy-power, AKA feminism, or for my specific purpose BLACK-FEMINISM OR BLK-FEM. 

I’m a member of various social groups, so I witness the human unfiltered audacity on a daily basis. I get to witness the shit that most people wouldn’t say in mixed company, but behind the safety of a screen, these people feel emboldened to express their toxic opinion as fact ¬—Welcome to the digital age! — And when this happens, I feel it’s my duty to set them STRAIGHT!

A few weeks ago, I entered a back-and-forth debate with a keyboard-gangster on the topic of feminism. He posed the question, why do black women support feminism when the movement wasn’t originally for them. I responded with, the same reason why black men support patriarchy and the nuclear family, despite both being pillars and symbols of white supremacy. —He did not like that.—  We went back and forth a few times, then he blamed feminism for why the black family is broken and they don’t care for black women. That’s when I had to hit him with the facts.

For those who are unfamiliar with the origins of the feminist movement, he is correct. In the 1920s, the movement was predominately for white women to gain some semblance of independence from their white husbands. To achieve this independence, they joined with black women (strength in numbers, AKA pussy power) to push for change. We marched together, lobbied together, and when some of the battles were won, they closed the door on black women issues. As the movement continued to grow over the decades, the feminist movement as an ideology continued to focus on white issues, ignoring those issues that affected black women. 

Despite decades of fighting, it wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s that black women started to draw a line and call out the fact that white-feminists had, for decades, dismissed black issues. But, the damage was already done, and black women began forming their own organizations that focused on issues that plagued black families. We saw a new wave of feminism that wasn’t white-washed. The new wave was UNAPOLOGETICALLY BLACK —BLACK FEMINISM—

Feminist ideals, at their core, are universally about fairness and equality. I sincerely believe that if you lay out scenarios of what feminism fights against, most people would fight for those same things. But, mention the word F-word, and people go running.

1. Your daughter/sister/mother has a job, and they find out that their salary is $20K less than their male co-worker, even though they do the same exact job. 

2. Your daughter/sister/mother graduates top of her class, with honors, and goes for a top company job to get turned down by a man who lacks her credentials.

3. Your daughter/sister/mother is sexually harassed at work, and they take the issue to HR, and HR dismisses and minimizes the case. 

4. You want your daughter/sister/mother to have ownership over their bodies and what they can do with it.

5. Your daughter/sister/mother is getting abused by their male spouse, you’d want them to be free and safe to press charges for their safety. 

The above issues are about fairness, equality, and safety. None of them are about casting aside men (especially black men), as some would push you to believe.

It’s difficult for people to consider the fact that some women don’t want to have kids. I mean, it’s been pushed down our throats since birth that our only goal in life, as females, are to get married and have kids. It is okay if a female wants the above for herself. But feminism makes it clear that if you choose to not have kids or get married, that is also okay. There is nothing wrong with a woman that wants to work instead of having kids. It’s her body, so it’s her choice. 

While all the above is fine and dandy, black feminism kicked in the door waving the four-four, screaming, “Hold up! Wait a minute!”

Black feminism shines an even brighter light on all the issues that affect black men, black women, and thus, black families; while also calling out those female-women who don’t acknowledge our problems because they don’t see through our glasses. 

Yes, we are in an era where black men and women are making more money than ever before (minus the pandemic). From black CEOs to black COOs, we’re doing the damn thing. But the reality is we are still earning less, even within our highly decorated fields. The order often goes White Man, White Woman, Black Man, Black Woman. My race and gender shouldn’t correlate to my salary. If I do the damn job, pay me my money. 

He argued that feminism tears down the black family dynamic, and that liberals are the problem. This is not the first time I’ve seen (what I consider) weak men use this argument. They, and those women who are also anti-feminism, often refer to the old-school nuclear family ideology. This was when the husband would work and support his family while the wife stayed home, and dinner would be on the table by 5pm. That vision is lovely, but as stated before, it’s very white and not realistic for the world we currently live in. Even higher earning working-class black families, with no kids, need two incomes to survive, depending on where they are. And our original cultural upbringing was more ‘a village to raise a child’ than ‘every man for himself.’

He then blamed welfare and black feminist women for black men not being in the home instead of looking at the real and undeniable data on systemic issues. 

He didn’t mention the lack of black male presence due to gun-violence, drug-use, alcoholism, spousal abuse, mass incarceration, and the fact that some men simply don’t want the responsibility of being a father. He ignored all the above, but make feminism his focus of animosity. Because of his animosity, he didn’t care to learn that the new wave of black-feminism is in full support of the black family (despite the lies that others push).

When a black son or husband gets locked up, who do you think takes on the family’s financial and emotional burden? Who do you think is the person putting money on his books, answering his phone calls, and making the visits? The black woman.

He didn’t care that black-feminists are actually the women marching on the front lines for so many of the black lives lost at the hands of law enforcement and random gun violence. Their marching is for black lives and black families.

He didn’t care to research the fact that many black-feminists, for decades, have been pushing for criminal justice reform, to altogether abolish the prison system. We know that people who go to prison, have a higher chance of becoming repeat offenders. Prison does not rehabilitate the person: what it actually does is put a scarlet letter on their back while making it harder for them to get back on their feet after they have been released. Add to that the over-sentencing of black men compared to white offenders being under-sentenced. This disparity creates years of broken black families. And black feminists, by fighting these injustices and if they succeed, can restructure and restabilize black families.

He didn’t care to research that black-feminists call attention to and are combatting the systemic injustices regarding health. He brought up the abortion rate amongst black women as a tactic, completely disregarding the black woman’s choice. But he remained silent when I brought up the fact that black women are 4x more likely to die during childbirth, and black children whose mothers experience trauma during birth have a higher infant mortality rate, which directly impacts black families. He also didn’t know the numbers that show black women are often diagnosed with more aggressive types of heart disease and various cancers, while the many ailments that affect black men (high blood pressure, colon cancer, heart disease) cause them to die younger than their white male counterparts. 

These are all pivotal issues for black-feminists, as these issues don’t plague the white community like it does ours. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of the matters that black-feminists fight for. 

Another follower expressed his disdain in dealing with difficult feminist women as justification to not support the (black) feminist movement, which I found amusing. Black women continue to support black men. We support and fight for the same black men that verbally, mentally, and physically assault us, day in and day out.  We put our feelings aside because we know that we’re fighting the injustice that may be forced upon them, and that’s not okay. 

And as with any group pushing for change and equality, there will always be some extremists. But the same way we don’t paint a broad-stroke and hold a grudge against all black men based on the actions of the few, we should receive the same support. And the actions of the few should never overpower the truth of the movement. 

So next time someone tries to make you feel bad for being a feminist or black-feminist, do your job and school them with the facts.

SLAVERY DID A NUMBER ON US

It seems like the entire world has come together to show solidarity for the racial injustices that we face, and it breaks my heart to see so many black people still divided.   

From classism, to colorism, to LGBTQIA+ rights, this shit has got to stop. We will never get anywhere if we continue to fight the differences that exist between us. A unified black fist can do severe damage; but, if we remain separate and battle amongst ourselves, a weak ass slap is all we’re delivering to our oppressors. If we genuinely investigate the reasons, we remain divided, it all points back to slavery. And, Boy! Slavery did a number on us.   

Slavery not only stole us from our land, but it also robbed us of our knowledge, our wealth, and our beliefs. Captors of our ancestors pushed lies into their brains, by preaching, to once kings and queens, that they were heathens, and needed to be retrained. They couldn’t handle seeing a brown society living in harmony alone; so, they turned us against one another, made a sale on our lives, and forced us into servitude. The captors of our ancestors raped our men, women, and children; forced sons to mate with mothers; and forced fathers to mate with daughters on breeding farms. If you ever wonder where the phrase “mother fucker” or “put a paper bag over the head” came from, it came from forced incest rape during slavery.   

From field nigger to house nigger, light skin to dark skin, black men versus black women, wealthy black to poor black, and the strongest, the hatred within the black community against LGBTQ+ blacks; the mental fuckery of slavery still runs ripe within our community. Slavery did a number on us.   

Educated blacks can have a logical conversation about colorism and how that affects black people in society and the media. But those same people won’t acknowledge how that tool is still used against each other, by each other. It’s no longer the slave master driving the wedge. They simply planted the seed for hundreds of years, and we’re too brainwashed to stop watering the tree. Both light-skinned blacks and dark-skinned blacks are guilty of continuing to contribute to the division. Let’s be real; if the members of the KKK put on their robes and ran through our communities, neither one would be exempt from the lynch mob. It’s time we stop giving power to an oppressive system and fight the same fight.   

***  

Slavery did a number on us when it robbed us of our riches. We come from kings and queens, so why do we not support our own? Why do we continue to give all of our hard-earned dollars to a system that oppresses us? Why? Because we no longer associate success with ourselves from our lineage of kings and queens, we associate our progress, success, and status with theirs. That is why we give hundreds of dollars to various European designers but ask for discounts with our own. A white Gucci shirt for $200, take my money; but, that same white shirt for $50 from a black-owned company, it’s too much. We don’t take pride in our own, because many don’t see the value in our endeavors.  

I won’t stand on a soap-box and say that I’ve never given my money to a corporation that doesn’t care about my black life. But during these times, when faced with so many injustices, and with so many companies donating toward the fight for equality, we have to do our part. We may not be able to donate millions to the cause, but we can push our dollars back into our communities. So, for myself, I have been and will continue to support my local shops, my local restaurants, and buy black. Stop fighting with our fists, and start fighting with our dollars.   

***  

Slavery did a number on us when I ripped us from our beliefs and forced onto us a god of hate. I saw a meme that read, ‘black people hate everything about slavery, except for religion.’ I decided to attempt to explore that.  

Who were our ancestors, before Christianity came to their land? How did we worship? What did we believe was right and wrong? I’ve asked this question to many god-fearing-Christians, and none of them can ever answer me, because all that they know has been taught to them by their ancestor’s captors. Just think about it, the Bible is simply a collection of stories; but the power interpreted by those stories, by the reader, has caused more harm than good. Think of all the wars waged in the name of religion. Think of all the invasions of civilizations in the name of religious expansion. And when it comes to slavery, the stories in the Bible were used as tools by slave masters to teach blacks that slavery was where they belonged. Hell, the only reason blacks get dressed up for church on Sunday is the tradition of showing off your slaves. As a slave owner, how your slaves looked on Sunday showed your status. So, the better the slaves looked, the more high-class you seemed. And, despite being released from slavery, we held onto that slave mentality. If the Lord indeed said,” come as you are,” you don’t need a large-brimmed hat and new pastel suit to praise.   

***  

Slavery did a number on us when it took symbols and acts of love and procreation and used them to break us down. What is the reason why so many blacks have a problem with homosexuality? We didn’t have the language before slavery. So, why is there so much dislike and hate now? The answer is slavery.   

Simple research will inform you that are places that historically had buck-breaking camps, butt-breaking camps, have the highest level of hatred for homosexuals. Just think of the damage done to a black man, when the white slave owners, or overseers, would rape the men in front of the entire black population. And despite all their resistance, they were forced into submission. Think of how that mentally impacted them for generations. Then, consider how the women and children had to stand by and see their once strong protective man forced into submission. These heinous acts, put on full display for all to see, is why there is such hatred within the black community against homosexuals. And despite finally getting our freedom, our minds remained enslaved.  

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a proud supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. I was finally able to acknowledge my own (B)Bisexuality in my 30s, despite the fact that I have a very liberal family. I can only imagine the struggles for those whose family is religious and conservative to live their truth. 

Being a member of many Facebook groups, I often find myself in a thumb battle trying to break down the nuances on Black LGBTQ+ rights, and how if Black Lives really do matter, then All Black Lives should matter too (not just the straight black lives). I find myself arguing against comments like; gays have more rights than we do, or they’re forcing their lifestyle on us.  

I tell them that the civil rights for black people and other religions, etc. have been in the constitution since the 60s. Decades later, under Obama, there was an extension to include the LGBTQ+ community at large; but that is not MORE, that’s EQUAL. I tell them that, just because a bill is signed into office does not mean justice will always be served. If that were the case, the country wouldn’t be protesting for black rights 50 years later. I remind them not to conflate the more significant LGBTQ+ movement to be inclusive of the blacks and POCs within the movement. The first gay pride can be credited to two trans-women of color (Marsha P Johnson & Sylvia Rivera). But, the movement of then did not acknowledge trans rights along with gay rights. Sadly enough, the movement today has all but white-washed that history from its beginnings.   

Merely wanting to be free to exist is not a force. Wanting to see like representation in the media, is not a force. Wanting to walk down the street without being harassed or assaulted, is not a force; it is a fundamental human right. And the same goes for being black. You don’t have to like me, but I’m here, so you should respect me.   

***  

Again, black people, slavery did a number on us. But we have to stop giving it power today. We have to stop watering the trees planted by racists. We have to come together and march for every injustice thrown our way; because that’s the only way, we’ll make and see change. 

DEAR AMERICA, SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE

Dear America,   

I am a black woman, and I am tired.   

I am tired of seeing people that look like me choked, beaten, gunned-down, stop and frisked, over-policed, racially profiled, and murdered. I’m tired of seeing people that look like me receive harsher prison sentences, and I’m tired of seeing people that look like me presumed guilty before they get a chance to prove their innocence.   

Last week the world watched George Floyd die slowly for 8 minutes. One cop held his knee to George’s neck, two others held his body down, and the last one stood by to make sure bystanders didn’t stop the MURDER that was in progress. The cops were called in the first place because a store owner accused him of using a counterfeit $20 bill. I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely not worth an execution by suffocation. George didn’t die because he was hurting anyone, he didn’t die because he killed anyone, he didn’t even die because he used a bill that he may, or may not have known, was counterfeit. He died because the officers of the law that were supposed to protect and serve (whose salaries are paid by the very citizens the abuse) took it upon themselves to be the judge, jury, and executioners. George simply didn’t die; he was murdered because they didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt. He was murdered because, to them, his life, freedom, and rights didn’t matter.   

Year after year and decade after decade, black people are murdered by the very people that are in place to protect us.  

Something has to change.   

***  

Dear America,   

You stole our ancestors from their native land, raped and beat our men, women, and children. You ripped apart our families and made postcards of our dead and burning bodies hanging from trees. You manipulated the words of The Bible to keep us enslaved. You offered us a glance at freedom, then changed laws to re-enslave us all over again, under the 13th amendment. You bombed our homes (Tulsa, Oklahoma; Black Wall Street). You hosed us, burned down our churches, murdered our leaders, and you released dogs on us (Civil Rights Era). You sent us to the front lines of many wars to be killed, for a country that hates us. You ran experiments on us and stole our DNA (Tuskeegee and Henrietta Lacks). You allowed your racist leaders to take off their white robes, put on uniforms and suits, and infiltrate all government levels (google that yourself). You wrote laws that were supposed to be fair and just, but black and brown people often get the short end of the stick compared to their white counterparts.   

This country was built on the backs of slaves. The contributions of African-Americans to this country are immeasurable. From gardening, science, to technology, much of what we all use today is due to an ancestor that looked like me; but you don’t care. 

When we didn’t know the language to speak, you killed us. When we learned to read, you killed us. When we marched peacefully, you killed us. When we fought back, you killed us. When we took a knee, you hated us; and you’re still killing us.   

Something has to change.  

***  

Dear America,  

It’s time for the police and elected officials to be called out and held accountable for sitting on the sidelines and allowing so many injustices to happen. As a tax-paying citizen, I have a right to walk down the street and feel safe knowing that my skin color will not be a reason I may not make it home.   

Well, what about black on black crime? You ask. — Here’s the deal. — If Pookie from across the street murders Ray-Ray, Pookie is getting arrested, tried, and convicted. Pookie will not be able to say, “I thought I saw a gun” or “I feared for my life,” then go home to a meal with his family.   

There is a lack of justice when the murder is committed by a person who wears a badge. And in more recent cases, had a badge, or is a friend of someone with a badge.   

Ahmaud Arbrey was going for a run, minding his own business, when three racists (retired officers) took it upon themselves to consider him a criminal worthy of being shot; because they claimed, he fit a description. This murder happened in February, but the local department and the elected officials felt no need to question their motives. Only after the video was leaked, and social media rained down a fiery hell-storm, were the men arrested. It later surfaced that there was no report out or description.  

A coward of a man murdered Trayvon Martin. That man left the safety of his vehicle, pursued Martin on foot, called 911 (and the dispatcher told him, he didn’t need to pursue him). He continued to follow Trayvon and started an altercation that ended with him shooting and murdering Trayvon. And despite his prior history of being prejudice, despite the fact that he initiated the entire incident, despite the fact that Trayvon Martin was defending his own life (with his bare hands), his murderer was found not guilty. Because the law said that, all that matters was a few lost minutes of a fight. And because the murderer may have experienced fear (during a fight he caused), he walked away, a free man.    

Something has to change. 

***  

Dear America,   

Officers and people with badges have to stop using fear as an excuse when they take an innocent life. The fact that cop after cop fears for their life, over a gun that is, often, never there means one of two things. Officers need to get their eyes examined, so they can be sure that what they see is a gun, or they should go back to school to pursue a different line of work. If defending a community of people is too scary for you, go back to school and become an accountant or a dentist. I’m tired of people in uniforms that carry badges, are armed with a taser, a baton, and a gun using fear as an excuse for the murder of an unarmed black or brown person. I’m tired of these same people in uniforms, having little to no fear when the perpetrator is white. They could’ve just shot up a school, a church, or a synagogue, but, for some reason, the fear the officers had when the perpetrator was black, disappears into thin air.    

Why are cops able to apprehend a white mass-shooter, for them to have their day in court. But a black man coming out of a night club (Sean Bell), a kid playing in the park (Tamir Rice), a black man selling a cigarette on the street (Eric Garner), and so many more, are not worthy of the same due-process?  

Early in May, a white man (Joshua Kelsey), who had multiple run-ins with the law since 2007, and had been in front of numerous judges, went on a killing spree and murdered three individuals. The details on how they apprehended him are still unclear. But you know what didn’t happen, they didn’t murder him. Despite killing three people, he’s still alive to see his day in court.   

And here are just a few more that fit the same profile.  

Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Florida; 17 dead, suspect arrested and charged with premeditated murder.  

Walmart in El Paso, Texas; 22 dead, suspect arrested and charged with capital murder  

Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, 11 dead, suspect arrested and faces multiple charges  

Santa Fe High School, Texas; 10 dead, suspect arrested and faces capital murder charges  

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, South Carolina; 9 dead, suspect arrested, tried, and sentenced to death.  

These above, white murderers, were led away from the incident with their lives intact, despite the lives they had just stolen. Where is the fear when the threat is undeniable? And why are officers so scared when the only danger of a weapon is all in their heads?  

Something has to change.  

***  

Dear America,  

Like I said in the beginning, I’m tired of seeing the gross amount of injustice. I know that it is not all cops, but if you’re silent and complacent with the officers that are corrupt and go too far, you’re guilty by association. I know that not every elected official and politician is corrupt. If you don’t address the issues of all people within your jurisdiction, or don’t do your part to set right the wrongs that happen, you’re guilty by association. Lastly, I know that not every white person is prejudice or racist. From my work to school, to my extracurricular groups, and in my dating life, the white people that I know empathize with the difficulties we face while being black; they also want to see a change.   

But, here’s the problem, if you don’t acknowledge the terrible things done to our people, and you don’t want to learn, your complacency is a problem. If video surfaces of an unarmed black person being held down and beaten by cops, and your first response is, “We don’t know the whole story,” you’re willful and blind arrogance is a problem. If you commented on riots and looting, but said nothing about George Floyd’s death, that the world is outraged by, that’s a problem. If, after everything, you still don’t understand why Colin Kapernick took the knee. You’re a problem, and I don’t know what else to say.  

It’s up to lawmakers and elected officials to make changes and hold others accountable for their actions and poor judgment. It’s time for all of us to ban together and put our collective knee on the neck of the government to push for change. We pay their salaries, so we have the power; we just have to learn to wield it. Here are a few suggestions.  

  • Let’s work to rebuild trust between the community and the officers within the community.   
  • Let’s stop trying to find excuses, and start prosecuting killer cops.   
  • Mandate periodical psychological evaluations and drug tests.   
  • Perform thorough background checks on all officers.  
  • Make it illegal for an officer not to have a body-cam and a dash-cam (on and functioning) in all 50 states.  
  • Re-train and remind officers that they work for the people, and they’re paid to serve the people.   
  • Train all officers in all 50 states, to respond with the least amount of force.  
  • Start making the officer and their precincts responsible for the crimes they commit against unarmed and innocent civilians. If officers know they’ll be liable and they can’t hide behind a badge and a lie, they’ll start thinking before they shoot.    

The change doesn’t stop there. Beyond the officer, above the precinct, sits the elected officials. It’s time for them to be responsible for their lack of action as well. Your mayor, governor, senator, congressperson, etc.. Again, your tax dollars pay for their salaries, so they work for you. When the headlines shift, the work must continue. Organize a petition, write, call, show up at your elected official’s office, and push for a change. If they appear complacent with the tragedies you and your community face, vote them out and elect someone else. Do not sit by silently and wait for the next headline or election to get in the fight. For too long, the oppressed have been playing defense and losing. Now, it’s time to ban together, execute a plan, and play offense; because I’m tired of being on the losing team.   

Something has to change.  

Sincerely,   

A tired black woman. 

WHAT IF…

A few years ago, I found my first herpes support group on Facebook, and on the façade, it seemed very supportive. Messages of “Keep your head up!” Be strong, you’ll find someone!” and “It wasn’t meant to be.” seemed to flood the daily feed. Even though I knew I wasn’t the only person living with herpes, it was great to finally see and hear other people’s stories. The overall morale of the chats was positive and uplifting, which for a newly diagnosed individual can be essential. However, every so often, I would come across a post asking for advice and support.   

I feel terrible, and I need your advice. Last week, I was drinking, partying, smoking (whatever) with my friend. Things got out of control, we had sex, and I forgot to tell them about my herpes status. I feel terrible, and I want to tell them, I just don’t know how to.  

It didn’t take long for me to realize that once the comments have been disabled, it was safe to assume that the poster was virtually attacked. Similar posts often bring out, what I like to call, The Bully-Brigade. The Bully-Brigade is the barrage of people that come together to virtually bully anyone whose actions and views don’t align with theirs. With comments like, “You’re a terrible person.” “How could you forget…” and “People like you should be locked up!” — The Bully-Brigade has struck again.  

The comments and attacks vary, but the one that sticks out the most is the one of blame. It’s the person that says, “You know, many of us wouldn’t be here if our partner had told us. If my partner had told me that they had herpes, I never have had sex with them. You should’ve given them a choice.”   

This one always bugs me, because they so conveniently forget that they, in fact, did have a choice. To have consensual sex, without knowing your partner’s sexual health status, was a choice. The power to control the sanctity of my body is my responsibility, and the same for your body. Do you not eat when you’re hungry, drink when you’re thirsty, or sleep when you’re tired? So, why when it comes to sex, is it only the other person’s responsibility to protect you? I don’t say this to point blame, I say this to take accountability.  

Think of your body as a new car you just bought. You wouldn’t give the keys for your new car to a person whose driving record you didn’t know and whose license you haven’t seen, would you? No! You wouldn’t! But if you did, and they crashed it, was it not your choice to hand your keys over to them, in the first place? We don’t take that risk with material things, but we assume that risk with our bodies every day. From the moment I laid eyes on my partner, once I know I want to have sex with him, the responsibility to ensure my sexual health is mine, and mine alone. It was my responsibility to make sure that he posed no threat to me, and the choice I made to not verify his status was, in fact, A CHOICE.   

Over the years, I learned to stop arguing with The Bully-Brigade; because they had already made up their mind that their positive diagnosis was someone else’s fault. What I try to do now is pose the question, what if…  

You say — “If they had told me they had herpes…” I pose the question — “What if you had asked…?”  

What if they told you they were clean, because the test they took didn’t include herpes? Therefore, they had no way of knowing they had the virus.   

What if they had the test that included herpes, but because they recently acquired the virus, the antibody test came back negative? (It took 9 months for my antibodies test to detect herpes).  

What if you had used condoms? (I used condoms when herpes was transmitted to me).  

What if they told you they had a history of cold sores? Marketing doesn’t make it clear that cold sores and herpes are the same virus. Many people don’t think that their cold sores are herpes or that they can impact their partner’s genital region. What if this information was made clear to the masses?  

What if doctors did a better job of educating patients before, during, and after their diagnosis? What if they pointed patients to support groups after their diagnosis, instead of giving them a prescription and sending them on their way?  

What if sex education was clear and transparent, and inclusive of all sexual behaviors, sexualities, and sexual health? What if consent and boundaries were mandated? What if the stigma was never able to exist because people were educated on the truth of all sexually transmissible and non-sexually transmissible viruses?  

What if testing were made easier for all to access? What if when I asked to be tested for everything, I was tested for EVERYTHING?  

What if we stopped shaming sex, sexuality, and people with STD/STIs?  

What if you’re herpes positive, you disclose to your partner, but you don’t ask to see their results in return? (Is that not, once again, handing someone the keys to your car without checking their license, all-over again?)  

What if asking about a person’s sexual health was as easy as saying hi? What if asking to see a person’s test results (and getting them), was as easy and pleasurable as having sex?  

What if they never assaulted me?  

What if the dad, the aunt, the uncle didn’t kiss the toddler, and pass them the herpes virus?  

What if the mother didn’t kiss her child and pass them the herpes virus?  

What if you had waited another 3-9 months to get re-tested before having sex?   

What if you had waited to go and get tested together?  

What if you had asked your partner their sexual health status?  

While the what-ifs are endless, none of them can guarantee that you still wouldn’t have ended up with herpes virus. With all the precautions that you could’ve taken in your adolescent or adult life, you still could’ve acquired the virus before ever taking your first steps. At the end of the day, we’re all here. So, instead of focusing on what if, focus on the future. A lot of why we feel what we feel is stigma. So, instead of trying to change others, maybe we can change our perception. And with that, we can change the stigma. 

POSITIVELY DETACHING

There is much joy to be found when I detach from the world. Of course, I never fully detach, but going a few hours without looking at a device does have its benefits.  

It was a summer day, a few years ago, and I wanted to get out of the house. I got on the train, walked around a bit downtown, went to see a movie; then my phone died. To my surprise, I didn’t care. I ended up getting dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and walking some more, before I took the bus home. Even with the mediocre actions of the day, I still remember it as one of the best days I had. When my phone died, there was no anxiety to get to the nearest charger, and with no need to check in; I just went about my day.  

Today, I won’t leave my house unless my phone is above 95% and before walking out of the door, I make sure my phone is on low power mode, just in case. My life, like many others in this day and age, revolves around devices. From using my computer at work, to listening to a podcast or playing a game during my commute on my phone. I don’t know what it’s like to not have a phone on me. There have been a few times when I left my house, and made it to the train, only to go all the way back home when I realized my phone was not with me. I refused to listen to the conversations of other commuters, or eat my lunch without visual stimulation. And let’s not forget my daily Instagram upload, because my followers would be lost without me.  

In the fall of 2019, my life almost ended. I went to sleep with my phone plugged in and I woke up to my phone only being at 25% I figured the wire came undone in my sleep, so I plugged it back in and prepared to get ready for work. When I got out of the shower it was at 20%, I got so frustrated I started to cry. I went to work and experimented with various chargers, cords, wireless pads, and none of them worked. I watched as my phone went from 5 to 1, and when my phone died, I felt like my life was over. That day I missed lunch because I was at the apple store trying to get it fixed. That night I went to a Broadway show; but I couldn’t fully enjoy it because all I could think about was my phone. The next morning, I went to the AT&T and send for a replacement that had to be ordered. When the doorbell rang Saturday morning, I ran downstairs. I didn’t even grab my precautionary knife from the drawer, in case it was an intruder. (Yes! I watch way too many cop shows). None the less, I opened that box with the same excitement that a kid opens a present on Christmas morning. I charged it up, swapped over my information, and all was right with the world again.  

As I scrolled through my Instagram, Facebook, and emails, I couldn’t help but think back to a simpler time. I thought back to that day in the summer; and there was a peace of mind in knowing that the inability to connect to the digital world is only temporary. It would’ve been easy to get a charger and fuel up, but I chose to enjoy the peace of the silence. However, when that silence was forced upon me, I found no peace.  

I realized then that my connection with devices was unhealthy, to say the least. So, I started limiting my interactions with them, in the best way I knew how. Instead of listening to podcasts during my commute, I would read a book (Yes… an actual printed – book). I read hundreds of books on my phone over the years, but eventually, it took a toll on my vision; and considering I stare at a computer at work all day, anytime away from bright light proved to be highly beneficial.  

The next thing I did was limit the amount of time I spent on social media (Twitter & Instagram). I would allow myself a few minutes every few hours to scroll and like, and once time was up, I had to stop. When it came to Facebook it was a tad more difficult. As an activist, I felt the need to comment on the posts that resonated with me. But I learned to pick and choose my battles, thus limiting my screen time and overall drained energy from random hater.  

The final thing I did was limit the amount of texting and messaging I did; I applied the same logic as I did with Facebook. Not every text required an immediate response, and some things could wait for later. The world would not implode if I didn’t respond yes that instant, and my alone time was very important to me. I had to release the self-induced anxiety from my being, because no one was causing it but me. I can now go hours without looking at my phone and it’s been a huge relief, especially considering that I don’t always want to talk or communicate. I get deep into my moods of self-preservation and my need to personally re-power up on positivity is of the utmost importance. 

I challenge everyone to take some time, every day to detach and see how you feel.