My 2013 Wrap Up

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2013 was a crazy year… But I like who I’ve became so far, and I’m looking forward to whom I’m becoming. (Does that make sense?)

I’ve learned multiple things about myself and others this year. Some were great lessons… And others I feel like I could’ve done without.

Some of the top 3 lessons I’ve learned this year:

1. You MUST face yourself, including the “bad” and the ugly that you would rather pretend doesn’t exist. Once you face yourself, you can face anything.

2. Understand that NO ONE is perfect. Not your mother, not your father, not even the love of your life. Allow people the room to make mistakes AND eventually fix. Don’t let your unrealistic ideals of how people should act hinder them from growing. That’s unfair, & unhealthy.

3. You don’t HAVE to fix everything… One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that everyone can’t be helped, saved or have all their questions answered. You must get comfortable in the unknown. It’s okay. You will drive yourself crazy trying to be everyone’s savior. The most you can do for people is listen. But to try & fix everything? Nah Sway, you ain’t got the answers.

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I’ve done some pretty great things this year… My top 3 are:

1. I launched this blog on August 1st! Thought I’ve been blogging for two years now, in August I’ve decided to switch things up. And I’ve been happier ever since.

2. I got myself off of academic probation! Those who remember my post  about how hard I struggled my freshman year of college, know that this is a BIG DEAL. I was stressed out this whole semester but my hard work paid off finally.

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3. I trained to be a rape crisis volunteer for the Women’s Center down in Carbondale. This means a lot to me because going thru this training helped me face a lot of fears & come to terms with a lot of my own struggles when it came to sexual abuse. Those 10 days with 5 hours dedicated each day were totally worth it!

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My friends (old & new) and family really have helped me grow as a person this year! I’m so thankful for these people in my life. All the laughs, the tears, the encouraging words, the prayers, & the support have shaped me into a fine young lady. I’ve learned to appreciate genuine people in my life, & love unconditionally with no remorse.

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I can say that in 2013, I became more of an individual… I started defining the terms in which I wanted to live in, and I’ve been considerably happier since doing so. I challenge and question almost everything, I’m more open-minded, more positive, more supportive of others & overall more genuine.

As 2014 approaches us, I just wanna say that I am GRATEFUL for all the lessons, and the blessings. I’m grateful for all the people I have met and even the crazy situations I have been in… For 2014, I just want wisdom and balance in everything that I set out to do….and to continue to grow into the person that I am supposed to be.

Happy New Year everyone!

– Kween K

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Girls In The Hood…

Before I begin writing this post, I would like to issue a small trigger warning… The very true story I’m about to tell is one that is likely similar to lots of women, and I would hate for you all to read something that puts you into a sudden state of sadness and/or depression. I do understand if you do not complete reading this post, but if you proceed, please practice some self care to the best of your ability afterword…

With that being said…. Here we go.

I have recently came home for my Christmas break from college, and at first I couldn’t be more happier. Being back at home with loved ones, no worrying about classes or finals, and REAL home cooked meals after months of nasty dorm food is definitely something to count my blessings about.

But if it’s one thing I DON’T like about being home, is these men in the hood. Granted, my mother doesn’t live in the WORST area on the Southside of Chicago, but there are still some shenanigans around that would make a sane woman lose it.

Growing up in the hood can really make you hate men sometimes..

And when I say hate men, I think I really mean you’ll become afraid of them…

Growing up, I’ve seen and personally experienced some pedophiles harass and scam their way in between the legs of girls they KNOW are too young for them. But I think I’ll save that issue for another day, because right now I would like to discuss the verbal sexual harassment us black girls have to experience in our own hoods.

My mom sent me to the store for her. I couldn’t even make it across the street without some grown ass low life’s stopping their cars, slowing down to “talk” to me… I really wanted to tell these fools that my name is NOT baby, no I will NOT smile for you, hell NO you can’t have my number, and most importantly, your dick will come nowhere NEAR me, you fucking pedophiles.

Instead, I fumed in silence, thinking about how IRRITATING it is to have men you don’t even WANT to know verbally harass me, making comments on everything– from the way I wear my hair to the way I walk. It’s infuriating that I can’t even walk past a group of guys without getting hollered at like I’m some type of animal; and lets not even speak on the ones who are bold enough to come up and grab your arm when they tire of you ignoring their verbal remarks.

I often wonder what gives these men the audacity to sexually harass a woman just because of the way we may be shaped, or how “mature” they think we are…. It’s unfair… And it makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong just by stepping out the house. Which is unfair, because I KNOW I’ve done nothing wrong, but still.

I’ve had men go as far as follow me ALL the way home from the store, damn near to my doorstep just to get my number… When I was younger, sometimes I would oblige, because I was so afraid that they would do something to me if I didn’t. I eventually got smarter, and started coming up with fake names and numbers to deflect from the abuse, but day after day, the routine was still the same.

I would go outside, get harassed.
Go outside, get harassed.
It was never ending.

After a while, I became very used to it… Desensitized even. Nothing no dude ever said to me got to me, I made myself numb to it. I’m sure many of us have too….

But this past day was the first time in a long time I had experienced sexual harassment in a long time.

College had really sheltered me, because you don’t have all type of characters hanging out on corners all hours of the day and night, thinking of the next vulgar thing they can say to get your number out of you.

To be perfectly honest, I just wanna go to the store bruh. Not talk to your ashy ass.

But then of course, I get called all types of bitches and whores when I ignore the harassment. I’m stuck up. I’m this. I’m that. It’s ridiculous!

News flash! I’m not stuck up by a long shot, but I am NOT obligated to talk to your ignorant ass when the only intelligent thing you can say is “Aye Shawty” loud as fuck so the whole hood can hear you.

While many of us black and brown girls know we are attractive, we don’t need or ask for the harassment of you weak ass motherfuckers in the hood to prove it.

It’s hard being a girl in the hood. Sure boys growing up in the hood have it rough as well, but they are least likely to experience sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault by men who are right in their own hoods.

But this isn’t a battle between who has a more worse plight, because I am highly aware of the police harassment, the gang violence, the death rates, the high incarceration rates, etc that keep our black boys from prospering.

It’s fucked up, I get it. But countless of black girls like myself face the issue of dealing with our womanhood in the hood.
How are we to feel confident in ourselves after our body parts are reduced to nothing but tools for sexual satisfaction by men who should KNOW better?

I had an Arab man tell me that if I fucked him, he’d pay my tuition…. He said it so casually, like he was talking about the weather. Why is it open season on black girls in the hood????? If we aren’t dealing with the black men, then we gotta deal with the bullshit these foreigners who own all the stores in our neighborhoods dish out too. IT’S UNFAIR!!!!!!!

Can us black girls EVER catch a break, or nah?

Why are we taught to be flattered by unwarranted attention? I don’t think there’s anything cool about older men wanting to fuck me. I never have…and I probably never will.

It’s funny to me…. I see so many rallies and marches to “Save Our Black Boys” but where’s the saving of the black women? I would LOVE to see a rally for “Stop Raping Our Black Women” but when it comes to the atrocities committed against little black girls, it is often ignored, y’all don’t think it’s that serious, and we are often forced to be silenced.

Meanwhile, the cycle of this abuse is continued, and our self esteem is continuously lowered.

After all, it is proven over and over again that no one REALLY gives a fuck about black girls.

And of course, close minded people say, “Well y’all need to speak up on it more, put more guys in their place, and then they will stop doing it.”

Or my favorite “You can’t expect anyone one to stand up for you if you don’t stand up for you.”

Easier said than done… In the hood, some men have some very unpredictable personalities, and don’t know how to handle rejection well. So yeah, I could curse a guy out and embarrass him, but I also don’t want to get hit in the mouth either. [I’ve seen this happen before too.]

We are scared…. People already think it’s impossible for sexual assault to happen to black girls, so they would damn near have a cow if we bravely stood up for ourselves.

The solution to this problem is way more complex than most of us are willing to explore… I don’t have all the answers.

But right now in this post…. I’m taking a stance… If not for me, then for the millions of girls who are getting harassed right now, or sexually assaulted, or enduring sexual abuse and are silenced…

Silenced by friends and family members that think it’s not that serious.

Silenced by community members who just don’t understand. And don’t want to either…

Silenced by fear.

But me? I can’t stay silent for any longer…. Not when the same thing has happened to me, and is happening to millions of girls in hoods daily….

We are tired dammit. And that’s all I have to say about that.

~ Kween K

Why EVERYONE Should Be Donating To True Star Magazine

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My loyalty to True Star runs deep. Simply because without them, where would I be? At 15 years old, I was a troubled young teen on the verge of destruction in desperate need of a creative outlet. I always knew I loved to write, but my high school didn’t have a newspaper or creative writing workshops I could get into.

One day, a friend of mine brought up True Star Magazine, something I had seen lots of kids at school reading from time to time. The friend plugged me with someone who plugged me with Na-Tae Thompson, the co-founder of the organization.

The email she sent me was so warm hearted, and I was excited to try something new.

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So that day after school, I hopped on the train and made my way downtown, and the rest as they say is history…..

From the moment I walked into that office, I felt at home. There was an office full of kids and young adults, all working, all creating.

Through True Star, I’ve met some life long friends, instructors, mentors, and I also developed a passion behind everything I do now. I learned how to be a journalist, how to market, how to promote, how to interview, how to edit, how to network, and how to discover myself, ALL through this great program.

As a young black girl, it is truly inspiring to see two black, college educated women, who are also wives and mothers put so much into an organization. For the last 10 years, DeAnna McLeary-Sherman and Na-Tae Thompson have motivated the city of Chicago in ways that can’t even be put into words.

These are two women who truly embody the spirit of giving, they give great advice, they give fantastic support AND their work ethic is untouchable!

I’m not sure about ya’ll, but I want to be just like them when I grow up. And hopefully even greater.

So, you ask… why should you help True Star raise $20,000?

The answer is simple:

  • They provide realistic and meaningful employment opportunities to youth who normally wouldn’t get the chance to do the things we do, unless they went to college and graduated.
  • It keeps us out out of TROUBLE! Throughout the years, I’ve seen the most troubled folks make miraculous changes about themselves as soon as they entered a True Star program
  • Not only does True Star help the youth, but they also help the schools, and overall communities around them.

‘Tis the season to give…. But when is it ever not?

Click this link to learn more about how you can contribute! http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/on-the-job-training-apprenticeship-programs-for-at-risk-youth and even if you can’t contribute monetarily, share this opportunity to give with any and everyone you know.

Happy holidays everyone, and bless you all if you decide to contribute! xoxoxo

-Kween K