This Is Us, But Mainly Kate

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This Is Us is the best show I’ve ever seen. I know that sounds extra, but I’m pretty sure I’m telling the truth. The show follows the lives of three adult siblings with complicated lives. 

I have a DEEP appreciation for amazing portrayal the Black character, Randall. His backstory, his current story, his family #Swoon. The whole show could just be about his family and I would still be as invested.

As much as I love all the richness that is Randall and Beth Pearson, I can’t help but admit how much Kate’s subplot speaks loudly to a fat girl in me who is constantly healing.

This Is Us - Season 1

All the people reading this who relate to this scale moment, exhale. You’re not on the scale in front of people any more. It’s ok. I totally get how seeing this pic could cause anxiety, but breathe. OhCAE… moving on.

Recently, I’ve reached a new place in my weight loss journey. Or maybe we could call it my journey to changing my relationship with my body. In a 2010s world of body positivity there are still women like me and Kate who grew up in a world that hated fat people. It’s hard to not internalize some of that hate. It’s SUPER hard to push some of it out when it’s been part of a person for so long.

Kate bikini

Look at kiddo Kate in her Care Bears bikini! Cute! She’s 8 and hasn’t learned to see herself through other’s eyes yet. I have a bikini pic from around the same age and size. (I’ll find it and update this later, maybe.) In the pic, I was having a super fun time at Wheels Inn. (RIP Wheels)

Pig Kate

So here’s Kate enjoying her life with her bikini, then her friends laugh at her and explain that they no longer want to be friends because she looks like a pig. This, of course, devastates her. But it’s not just the note. It’s a combination of the note and her mom’s constant pressure for her to lose weight. She makes her eat cantaloupe while her brothers eat sugary cereal. 

People wrap their encouragement to lose weight in fake concern for fat people’s health, but never discuss health choices with trash eating people in slim bodies. Kate couldn’t eat what she wanted, but her brothers could even though it wasn’t good for them. 

Now, lemme clarify. This isn’t my story. But I definitely know how lonely it can be to feel like you’re the only kid you ever see who has to be concerned with food intake. It’s an unfortunate and sobering moment to realize you’re a 7 year old and sitting at a fat doctor. Going to your pediatrician because you have a cold and he scoffs when your dad asks if it’s safe for you to take the prescription at 11 because “she’s 200 pounds” is an unforgettable experience.

Thinking about this stuff makes me reassess why I’m so comfortable only acknowledging Randall’s family line. Randall’s life reminds me of the current me. The one who has taken my trials and built the life I want despite the difficulties. Kate’s inability to move beyond her childhood hurts makes me face the fact that I still have work to do to heal little Cae.

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Autistic Autonomy 

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The Social Learning Theory basically suggests that people learn by watching other people do things. Typically, we observe and imitate others’ behaviors. This is seen with in almost every facet of society, from adults at a bar for the first time to toddlers in the toy kitchen.

But what do we do when there are people who can be in the same room as other people or even be very physically close to them and not notice them at all? What do we do when  there are people who have to be taught how to observe behaviors? Why do we feel like we have to teach them to be like us?

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with people on the autism spectrum. A few of them are labeled as “non-verbal” so my definition of communication has been stretched more than I thought possible. I’ve had to learn to understand what that longing look means. It has taken work to figure out why they smile when they hear certain sounds.

It is interesting how much external motivation plays a role in our everyday behaviors. I never realized that until I wanted to motivate a child who didn’t notice me in the room. It left me frustrated at the beginning until I reevaluated the situations. After changing my perception and my focus, I gained an appreciation for their ability to completely escape whenever they want to. I learned to be comfortable when they distanced themselves when they were only sitting a foot away.

In reality, I wasn’t frustrated because the kids didn’t listen. I was frustrated because I wish I could live in a world where no one could influence me to do or be something I didn’t want to do or be.

So many times I have done and said things or NOT done or said things because of the social implications of being rude for not speaking or for speaking.

I’m the educator and I have been all of my post pubescent life. I always learn from my babies. So, I’m taking a page from my newest children. I will do what I want. I will not do what I don’t want, regardless of social implications.

I’m looking for the autistic autonomy.

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Remain in Peace

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Dealing with death is weird because someone you’ve known all of your life is suddenly gone and you’re left to deal with the fact that they’re never coming back. 

You get lots of prayers and condolences and you expect sudden emotional outbursts when the death first happens. But no one really knows how to prepare to live normally after that. 

There’s really no blueprint to deal with moments like walking into work for a meeting and you hear “Disco Lady”. At that point, you have no choice but to acknowledge that it’s July 23, 2017 and your aunt, Johnnie Taylor’s number 1 fan, has been gone for 5 years today. 

No one really tells you about the times you have to walk yourself off the emotional ledge every time you see an older Black woman with a cane or walker and it makes your mourn your paternal and maternal grandmothers like they’ve just died. Like it hasn’t been almost 8 or 1.5 years, respectively.  

No one tells you that 11 months after watching your granny slowly pass away while in hospice care, that you’ll have to hear those words again. So you pre-mourn your uncle’s death for a few days then he silently goes. And after owning the same car for 5 years, it suddenly does things that you have to pay someone to fix when you know he could’ve fixed it over the phone. There’s no instructions to tell you how to keep fully functioning while you can smell him and you’re trying to ask and answer questions about the car’s situation. 

There are lots of things I don’t understand as I go through this grieving process. But I do know that peace is a place and He has a name. Since I’m left here to remain as they rest, I will remain in peace. 

Thanks, Tom

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Cognitive dissonance… it’s that uncomfortable state we experience when something we’ve been trained to believe in gets proven wrong, but we still can’t let go. 

Like when you first discovered the truth about Santa or the tooth fairy. Or the first time you admit that college isn’t necessarily the best choice for post high school. Or when you tell people that Jesus was Black. Or when a Black man is a cop assigned to keep white people safe at an anti-Black rally. 

Since the murder of Mike Brown, I have consistently wondered about what it feels like to be a Black cop in Amerikkka because in my mind “Black cop” is an oxymoron. 

When Black people are the most common targets of racial profiling and police brutality, how does someone grapple with being Black in blue? 

That’s one of the first questions I had when this guy took coffee out to the National Guard as they were stationed on the streets of riot filled 1967 Detroit. 

There was a moving scene where he uses his uniform privilege to rescue a Black teen who was caught outside after curfew. The teen was anything but grateful because he had clearly decided he was ready to go toe to toe with the officers. 

After the Black US Marshall walked him into safety, the teen looked at him with contempt and said “Thanks, Tom.” Alluding to “Uncle Tom” the catchall term used for Black people who are knowingly pandering to white people. 

This Black Marshall needed a job. The 1960s were hard for Black people. No one blames him for trying to provide for his family. But when and where do we draw the line? When do we decide to put our Blackness back in front and say no to participating in the demise of our people?

The guy in the film watched these white officers torture, brutalize, torment and murder young Black men and still was on their side. It wasn’t until he became their victim that he rethought his stance. This is him being interrogated as a suspect for the crimes he watched. I felt everything but sorry for him. 

How many stories of Black officers being shot at or treated harshly when they were out of uniform do we need before we acknowledge that a seat at the table doesn’t help if it isn’t your own table?

Sitting at the table with your oppressor doesn’t mean you’re welcome there. See how dumb that logic is? More Black police officers doesn’t mean more opportunities for justice. It means more Black people positioned against their people. 

#OhCAE, I’m done for now. 

It Was Never Just About You

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I had a conversation recently and while we were talking, I immediately felt more peace. Because in that moment, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me “It was never just about you.”

That was an insanely profound moment for me. One of my repeated prayers has been to just understand the purpose for some of the things I have dealt with. I’ve let the scripture replay in my mind that “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” But I lived in a constant place of wondering “Where is the good?”

Then suddenly, after a decade of asking, I received and experienced the purpose. In that moment, a life of pain and 10 years of prayers made sense for me. It all made sense when I understood that the situations were never about me.

I can’t get my time back and I actually don’t want it. I have my peace and I have made a difference.

Free People, Free People

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The other morning, I woke up with some special people on my mind. Those people are people like me who never fit into gender stereotypes and have felt less womanly or manly because of it. So, like most millennials I took to Facebook to express.

It was a stream of thoughts. I’m gonna post them here the same way I posted them on my profile.

If your kid cries a lot, try saying “use your words” instead of “stop crying.”
1. It’s ok to express emotions.
2. Tell them what you want instead of what you don’t want.

Your son has tear ducts. He’s supposed to cry sometimes. That doesn’t make him like a girl because he does it.

Let’s agree to stop using “like a girl” as an insult to little boys who we want to grow up and respect girls and women.

Playing with dolls and enjoying hanging with girls doesn’t make a boy gay. Stop listening to your emotionally inept family members.

If doll play is so damaging, girls shouldn’t play with them either. A four year old girl doesn’t “need” to practice mothering either.

Let’s raise children who don’t have to heal from their childhoods.

Respect =/= fear.
Take that out of your parenting tool belt.

The things that damaged you as a kid will probably be harmful to your children. Break the cycle.

Learn your child’s love language and love them how they need to be loved.

You can prepare your son for the harsh realities of the world without crushing his spirit. In fact, you should.

Let that boy play with dolls. You might have a playwright in your womb if you don’t extinguish the gift.

Let your daughter play basketball if she wants. I know it sucks, but odds are she wouldn’t grow up to be a princess anyway.

This morning’s messages come to you from a woman who hates dresses and who hated dolls and who has spent literal decades (20 of my 28 years) trying to figure out how to perform “girl.” Ever since a girl told me that girls don’t play the drums when I taught myself. Her words coupled with the stares I received until I started again at 25 (thank God for my time spent at Shekinah) crippled me.

Your words have power and they shape your children’s lives.
Your silence is also meaningful.

I woke up feeling liberated this morning so I thought I’d pass that on.
Free people free people.

“This is a true confession of a life learned lesson I was sent here to share with y’all.” India.Arie

Our Mother Who Art In Heaven 

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So the verdict is in, Octavia Spencer is my favorite actor. 

And yes, I used “actor” on purpose even though she’s a woman. (I’m a proud gramma nazi with an English degree. I know how to use words good. 🙃)

Any who, I used a gendered term because it serves my purpose when examining her role, as Papa, in her most recent big screen feature The Shack based on the New York Times Best Seller by the same name. 


I first came in contact with the novel in 2011. I was going through [what my 22 year old self thought was] a very rough season of transition. 

I was unloading to my friend, who’s one of my spiritual mentors, (a lot of people’s salvation can be traced back to sacrifices she made as a Michigan State University undergraduate). My dear sister in Christ, Elon, listened to my concerns. She heard my desperation, confusion and hopelessness.  

At the time, I thought I needed a car and a boo to make my life better. Elon knew I needed a shift in my understanding of God and who He is. She suggested I read The Shack and I did. 

Ever since, I’ve had a recurring picture in my mind of a big Black woman facing the sink singing and dancing to rock music whenever I think of God’s love for me. So when I saw that familiar image on the movie screen, I was again reminded of how God meets us where we are. He meets us where we are to take us where we need to be. 

The Shack is a great depiction of that. The shortened storyline is this. A white man, Mack, has a traumatic childhood. He grows up, marries, has children and has a life altering experience as an adult that made him feel distant from God. One day he goes to the shack and has a supernatural encounter with God, the trinity. 

He meets God the Father, played by Octavia Spencer, who’s affectionately referred to as Papa. He meets Jesus, played by a man who looks to be of Middle Eastern descent. He also meets the Holy Spirit who’s personified as an Asian woman. 


So like the main character, Mack, and probably every other reader I was stunned that God the Father was not just a woman, but a Black woman. 

But then again… why is that shocking? Many of the Black women I know and have heard of collectively consistently embody the characteristics of God. 

This is a powerful image of humility and strength. The woman pictured was not the only descendent of captured Africans who breastfed their masters’ children. It’s a commonly known fact that after slavery Black women could only find jobs that forced them to serve their oppressors. Black women have shown the character of Christ by doing something that is extremely difficult for the proud, serve someone who may never understand who you really are. Jesus died for people who will never acknowledge Him as Lord.
More than likely, even the most ignorant person recognizes the person in this photo. Here’s Rosa Parks. A woman who, like Christ, KNOWINGLY went into a situation that cost her life as she knew it. She, like Christ, was arrested and abused.  Because of her sacrifice and her willingness to be crucified, the course of history was changed forever.  If you haven’t already, meet Ella Baker. Ella was a leader who built leaders who built leaders. Like Christ had disciples who made disciples who make disciples. She is known for leaving a legacy that ensured the generation after her would be equipped to do more work than she did. Like, the Lord did.  

My granny… widowed mother of 8 who raised each of them and their children to understand how love overshadows every hurtful word and every offense and that it is what enables us to press through the hardest times in life. She taught us that life happens and sometimes it hurts, but the happenings and hurts cannot break the bonds of love when it’s pure. Just like Christ’s love for us fueled His ability to be cursed, whipped, spat on and nailed to a cross. 

These Black women in this picture remind me that life should be enjoyed and shared with a core group of people who understand your plight. 
These Black women who have mentored and discipled me. Some of these women’s shoulders have been soaked with my tears. All of their phones have had texts with my questions. All of them have shown me the importance and impact of laying down your own life for the purpose of seeing other people be freed. Like Jesus. 
My fellow Black women, for your resilience, for your healing hands, for your supernatural ability to forgive, for your humility, for your ability to love without expecting, for your ability to give without the expectation of reciprocity, for lying down your life for others, thank you for being a shining tangible example of our Father who art in Heaven.