3 Things I Learned From Lip Service Live

 

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Moderator: Frankie Robinson of WGCI Radio & panelists.

 

 

This past weekend, I had the honor of attending the 24th annual Black Women’s Expo! Held at Chicago’s McCormick Center, this 3-day event is a celebration of Black Womanhood that features black-owned businesses, performances, and plenty of panel discussions and seminars.

On Sunday, I attended the Lip Service Live panel discussion which was moderated by WGCI’s Frankie Robinson, featuring Angela Yee of the Breakfast club, Charmaine Walker of Black Ink Crew Chicago, Phor of Black Ink Crew Chicago, Van Johnson of Chicagorilla, GiGi Maguire of Lip Service Podcast, Lore’l of Lip Service Podcast and doctors Maya Green and Toya O. from the Chicago Department of Health.

This seminar was unfiltered AF but that is to be expected. Everything from UTI’s, fellatio tips and vaginal myths busted was discussed. The audience and panelists were highly engaged with each other and while the attention was mostly on the celebrity panelists, the doctors impressed me the most.

Here are 3 things I learned from them to live our best happy and healthy, and unfiltered sex lives.

How do you prepare for intimacy?

We live in a world where many men are uncomfortable and straight up REFUSING to go to the doctor and get tested for STD’s. Panelist Dr. Toya said that it is important for men to do these things because most black women who contract HIV tend to do so from their heterosexual male partners. Dr. Maya said that “we need to make it okay for men to love their bodies and be sexually whole like women are.” and I couldn’t agree more! The doctors went on to say that the best way to prepare for intimacy is to go get tested with your partners, though special circumstances are considered such as one night stands. It was refreshing to be in a space where alternative lifestyles were considered and absolutely no shaming was going on.

PrEP can be taken by women as well.

6 out of 10 HIV cases are black women. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is an anti-viral drug that reduces your chance of contracting the disease. If you look at advertisements, you will see that PrEP is primarily marketed to and for gay men, but Dr. Maya cleared that misconception up. An audience member also had a question about why is there no cure for HIV yet a prevention and Dr. Toya answered and said that is because the HIV virus changes every time it replicates which makes it hard to cure. They did go on to say that PrEP is 90% effective and highly recommend for women to take it if they feel they may be at high risk for contracting HIV.

So, What exactly is squirting?

Recently on social media, I’ve seen debates about whether or not the hoopla around a woman squirting is actually just urine. Frankie Robinson joked and said that squirting is like a Long Island Iced Tea, you never know what exactly is in it. Dr. Maya and Dr. Toya cleared it up and said that squirting is simply urine mixed with a combination of liquids from the vagina. It is not to be confused with female ejaculation, which is the culmination of liquid from the vagina and can happen with or without an orgasm. The crowd went wild at that answer lol, I’m sure the answers cleared up a lot of misconceptions.

Want to see more of my recap of the Black Women’s Expo? Follow my Instagram @KiaSmithWrites for videos. Thank you so much to the Chicago chapter of Black Bloggers United for letting me share my coverage of this weekend long event!

Missed the expo in Chicago? No worries, the Black Women’s Expo is touring this year to Atlanta and Dallas, stay tuned to the website for dates.

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#WriteYourselfALoveLetter: 1 Year Later

#WriteYourselfALoveLetterChallenge (1)

1 year ago, I was a taking a summer class based on social media. While in the class, my classmates and I had to create a social media campaign using any social media platform we chose. Around this time last year, challenges on Facebook were a big thing. You had everything from the #NoMakeUpChallenge, the #RealHairChallenge and everything in between. Since I already had a blog, I decided to create the #WriteYourselfALoveLetterChallenge which was centered toward anyone who wanted to publicly celebrate themselves for once.

Since I already had a blog and enjoyed writing about self-love, I decided to create the #WriteYourselfALoveLetterChallenge which was centered toward anyone who wanted to publicly celebrate themselves for once.

The challenge did really well on Facebook, and I had people left and right tagging me in their love letters. It was eye opening seeing people be so vulnerable with themselves and the public. It was also heartbreaking to see how so many struggled to affirm themselves because they have been burdened with low self-esteem and negativity for so long.

The challenge was so impactful that this past Valentine’s Day I was invited to lead and host a workshop for the Women’s Center in Carbondale, IL where I was asked to speak on self-love, positively affirming yourself and of course, write love letters with them.

So here we are one year later and I decided to do an update letter. If you want to read my original letter, you can read it here. 

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Power Up Your Position: Major Keys From The #NABJRegionIIChi Conference

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The greatest investment is always the one you make in yourself.

In my most recent post, I talked about my experience at my first NABJ Conference that I attended in Chicago and I’m back again with some major keys that I picked up. Enjoy!

On Money Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make in the Gig Economy

“You have to crawl before you walk.” – Micah Materre

Moderator: Micah Materre, WGN-TV Chicago

Panelists: Khoa X. Ho, Vice President of Investor Services of Ariel Investments and Darryl Newell, Vice President of Seaway Bank

So as we know, the world of journalism/writing/media is based on gig after gig. You have to hustle. You will switch jobs often unless you’re lucky enough to find stability. Regardless, you want to be as financially literate as you can. The panelists discussed everything from paying off student loans to investing in stocks. They said a journalist needs 3 things to survive in the gig economy, such as

A) Time on your side (start budgeting and saving early)

B) You need to be disciplined when it comes to spending.

C) You cannot succumb to momentary greed.

As far as debt, both panelists suggested tackling debt with the highest interest rate first. They also suggested getting a credit card that has the lowest interest rate as possible, as well as making at least two payments a month on your credit card bill to reduce your principle. If you are looking to build credit, they suggested on starting out with a secure credit card.

Other tips included:

  • Don’t spend more than 15% of your gross income (money after taxes are taken out) on consumer debt (loans, credit card debt, etc.)
  • No more than 28% of your gross income should be spent on housing. Fellow attendees shared tips on saving on housing in different places including searching on Craigslist for apartments of rooms in a home that have utilities included.
  • You should have at least 6 to 9 months of an emergency saved up and don’t be afraid to save for retirement once you save up.
  • When it comes to stocks, you should only invest in what you know. Think of yourself as a business partner whatever company you invest in. And remember, when you are investing, the results will not be fast.

On the Student and Early Career Journalist Forum

Moderator:

Tonya Francisco, Anchor/Reporter WGN-TV

Panelists:

Audrina Bigos, Reporter from CBS 2

George Lara, Director of Internships and Mentorships at Chicago Public Media

Leah Hope, Reporter from ABC7

Darleen Glanton, Columnist from the Chicago Tribune

This panel was all about ways to build a solid career in the ever-changing journalism world of journalism and some really great advice was given. Since (most)  internships are now legally mandated by federal law to be paid, that means they are even more scarce. Below are some tips on how to get your name out there.

“Start out small and gradually work your way up.” – Darleen Glanton

“Pitch. Pitch. PITCH. That’s how you get better.” – George Lara

“In this business, you are NOT a single entity, so stay connected.” – Tonya Francisco

Audrina Bigos, the youngest on the panel talked a little bit about ageism.

“Even though I am the youngest, I bring something to the table. So don’t be discouraged by your age, because experience outweighs that,” she said.

We also discussed the work that goes into getting a great story. Darleen Glanton said that “You have to be able to talk to people and try to grab the essence of who they are. Be apart of that community and dig.”

“Think about what is the best medium for this story.” – George Lara

“Remember that every story has a different pace and different emotion.” – Audrina Bigos

“Create stories within your lives, your families, your communities. Start small and develop your voice.” – Leah Hope.

One of the attendees in the room asked a question about journalists pursuing graduate school after receiving their bachelors. Here’s what our panelists had to say.

“Grad school is an option if you missed your opportunity in undergrad, such as internships.” – Tonya Francisco *personal opinion*

“More than a degree, they want to see your experience.” – Leah Hope

“A lot of times, its fear that makes people go to grad school. If you’re driven by fear, turn that fear into action.” – Audrina Bigos.

 On New Jobs In The Digital Age and What You Need to Get Them

Moderator: Art Norman, from NBC 5

Natasha Alford, Deputy Editor of TheGrio.com

Kathy Chaneym Managing Editor-Print of EBONY Magazine

Felecia Henderson, Assistant Managing Editor of the Detroit News

Arionne Nettles Digital Managing Editor of the Chicago Defender

*Special guest: Dr. Renee Ferguson

This panel was full of Black Girl Magic and by far my favorite. You can watch the Facebook Live recording I did of it by clicking this link here.

Some major keys:

“Learn how to do everything, and learn the business side of the business.” – Kathy Chaney

“Understand all platforms. Be comfortable in WordPress and other content managing systems.” – Arionne Nettles

“Success has many different paths, it does not look the same for every person.” – Dr. Renee Ferguson

I’m so grateful to have been able to attend this conference. There is nothing more inspiring than being in the same room as those who started exactly where I am as a student of the craft and to see them excel and progress in their own ways. ♥

Were you at the #NABJRegionIIChi Conference? 

What did you learn while there? 

Who did you connect with?

Make sure you either answer in the comments or tweet me your feedback @KiaSmithWrites

We Are Not OK

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I am so tired of us getting murdered.. 

So on my way to work this morning, I tweeted this:

It is literally exhausting being Black at a PWI right now. To navigate these classrooms day by day surrounded by those who just don’t understand why we are upset, angry and feeling hopeless.. to have to comfort fellow classmates, colleagues and friends from having mental breakdowns cuz they are just so tired of the bs. 

It’s so easy for other folks to tell us to oh turn off the tv, get off social media, choose not to see color, etc.

But we can’t ignore it.

How can we ignore constant images and videos of our people getting senselessly murdered for simply existing?  How are we supposed to sleep peacefully at nigh knowing that at ANY given moment one of us or one of our friends/fam could be next?

We don’t HAVE the PRIVILEGE of ignoring this shit. So fuck you if you don’t get it.

Ya’ll tell us all lives matter but what the hell are you doing on behalf of everybody else?

And then to navigate this campus and these work spaces and having to hear people try to justify these murders…

That’s the sickest part.

And then ya’ll wanna bring it up in casual conversation, asking me what I think. Watching me to see if Imma explode. But of course I have to hold my composure cuz I’m either at work or in class and I can’t break down or be angry in public.

But they just go back to smiling and laughing and ignoring stuff. I guess that’s how it is when you know your life matters.” @KiaSmithWrites

I’m not gone lie to ya’ll. I am all out of answers. In some instances, I feel completely hopeless. To see people who look like me death’s constantly get regurgitated on my timelines is enough to make me go insane. It’s like no matter what we do or say, if a cop wants to kill us, he or she will and to make matters WORSE, absolutely NOTHING will happen to them… Except paid leave. Protection from society. And the best lawyers that money can buy to get them off error free.

Meanwhile, the rest of us black folks are just in SHAMBLES, trying to keep our composure around people who don’t even get it. And its not that we are seeking sympathy but I just wish people would stop telling us that we are making a big deal out of nothing and then give us reasons why all these men, women and children basically deserved to die.

That’s insulting!

It’s infuriating!

And quite frankly,

It’s bullshit.

I’m not sure why the world hates us. I’m not sure what type of sick ass satisfaction the world gets from killing us. We done marched, fought back, protested and did everything in the book to try and stop this and its like nothing is working.

We can’t say that the system is broken, its actually working exactly like it was intended to.

I’m not okay ya’ll. We aren’t okay. I commend us for trying to be strong and resilient like we’ve always been, but something truly has to give.

May you all practice self care and unplug if necessary,

I’m out.

Death To The Black Super Woman

Graphic by: Peter Palmer || Contact: peterpalmererii@hotmail.com
Graphic by: Peter Palmer || Contact: peterpalmererii@hotmail.com

Growing up, I’ve always witnessed Black women be strong. No matter how hard life gets, black women have been able to press forward, shed little to no tears and smile as if everything is ok.

The ability to exude strength in dire situations used to be a trait I admired, but now I think about the cost that comes with being strong all the time. I can’t help but wonder, is being strong about EVERYTHING helping or hurting us?

While you ponder on that, I’ll be the first to say it if no one else will: this Super Woman mentality that has been conditioned into Black women since birth is damaging as fuck. See… while we’re so busy being strong for everyone else, I can’t help but wonder who is strong for us?

I’ve watched countless of Black girls and women literally have to talk themselves out of sadness and depression, because to show any other sign of emotion is apparently a sign of weakness in everyone else’s eyes.

I wonder how many more times throughout the rest of my life do I have to see Black girls and women force themselves to smile and think positive when things are destroying them on the inside……

Mental health among black women is something that often gets ignored, and the journey to battling racism, sexism, and defining your own womanhood can be a burden that leaves many of us weary.

But for some strange reason, society advocates for us to suppress our emotions, otherwise we’re too angry, too loud, too opinionated, too EVERYTHING.

I’ve known this Black Superwoman for a very long time…. I’m sure you have too.

She has saved me from a lot, but at the same time, she has been the reason for a lot of pain and suffering as well… and I guess you can say our relationship is very toxic.

& Enough is enough…. I need to put this Black Super Woman to death.

Dear Black Super Woman,

I’m putting you to death because I’m tired of walking around like everything is ok.

Don’t I get room to be human too?

Dear Black Super Woman,

I am TIRED of saving everyone else.

Who is going to save me when my time comes?

Dear Black Super Woman,

I’m putting you to death because I am tired of my anger being used as something to oppress me. Why is my anger being used as a weakness? Why is my anger being used as something to dehumanize me? If I endured a lifetime of pain and anguish, don’t I deserve to be angry sometimes too?

Dear Black Super Woman,

I’m putting you to death because I really want to know why everyone, including US thinks that we are incapable of being depressed? Some days I feel really good, and other days I feel like getting out of my bed is one of the worst things I can do. I’m putting you to death because I want the mental health of black women to be something that is taken seriously, and no longer have taboo, or “white people problems” like other black and brown people like to proclaim. I’m putting you to death because I believe black women deserve access to adequate mental healthcare, and I don’t think I’ll ever get that if I’m forcing myself to be Super Woman all the time.

Dear Black Super Woman,

I’m putting you to death because so many people think that they can define my womanhood for me. No I won’t wear my hair like this or that, dress like this or that, speak like this or that, or fit into YOUR box of what you think my womanhood should be. If I have to change myself just so the world can respect me, then I don’t believe they respected me in the first place.

Dear Black Super Woman,

The most important reason why I am putting you to death is because I don’t think you understand that it is okay to be both strong and vulnerable. I don’t blame you for your tough exterior but I want you to understand that it is ok to be both resilient and emotional. Hear me loud and clear: EMOTIONS AREN’T A WEAKNESS. Since I get this, why are they still trying to force me to act like a robot sometimes?

To all my Black Super Women reading this, I want you to know a few things:

Remember that it’s ok to take off your cape.

Remember that it’s ok to be your emotional, complicated, multi-dimensional self.

Remember that even though you may feel like falling apart some days, you’re still worthy enough to press forward on other days…

Remember that it’s ok to talk to someone, whether it is yourself, a therapist, religious leader, etc.

Remember that silence is not okay.

Remember that if you find yourself unable to play Super Woman any longer, then that doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you… it means you’re human.

& on this day, May 5th, 2015…. Black Super Woman was laid to rest.

I encourage you all to share your thoughts with me in the comments, or connect with me on Instagram or Twitter to share @KiaSmithWrites