Showing posts from October, 2015

Such A Woman

Aunt Lorraine said, "We always knew you won't gon' work hard. We knew you would have a job like a school teacher."  "But teaching is hard work..." Was my rebuttal, said in a more asking than defensive manner.  "Yea.. But I mean hard work like cleaning house or some things like that."  "Well, of course not. My granny didn't leave the south and drop out of middle school to work on a sleep-in job just for me to be doing the same type of house work. Y'all did that so I wouldn't have to." "I know that's right!" "I don't think you or my granny realize how much of what I do is simply because I honor you. My work is your legacy."  Aunt Lorraine said she was proud of me. "You're really a woman now, Val... Really, such a woman." 

Ta-Nehisi Coates Says He Has No Advice for Baltimore's Youth

Big, nappy, bush-fros, wisdom-lengthed locks, Fulani-inspired tribal jewels, and conspicuous waves of self-worth flooded the endless yet orderly line on 135th St. Sprinkles of light colored eyes above pale pink lips boasting about getting their tickets way back in August, began to induce an inkling of inquiry from within. Not identical to the sensational curiosity that lures the descendants of a people who wouldn’t have dared to be caught on this side of town 90 years ago, when this segregated library was first established; I am more so struggling with figuring out what caused this sudden urgency, not only to hear a Black man speak on the ugly truths of race and inequity but also to settle here in Harlem, a place that was once unfathomable and unfitting for them to inhabit. I wonder what their parent’s grandparent’s parents would think. I wonder what Malcolm X, who this very street was named after would think…
I was alone but amongst my people. Black and brown hands gripped Paper Mate …

Dear Students: Remember, You Cannot Control the Environment that You Live In

When a student comes to school with a bed bug crawling on his collar, do you still greet him with the same hug that you usually do every morning? When you have to remove him from the classroom, and he doesn't understand why, how do you explain it to him? I tried. And when we talked about it, he said he has seen them all over his house. My immediate thought was that he probably has the bedbugs confused with roaches. I told him they may need to get rid of the furniture. He said his mom never throws anything away. He said she's a hoarder. I could see so much of little me in his face. Of all of the life experiences that I have been able to relate to when it comes to my kids, living with a hoarder is one of the most traumatic ones. Its not just stuff - it's a projection of everything that is psychologically damaged within the minds of our parents. 

Waking up with bugs and rodents is a sure sign that something is not right in the home. I began to tell him that I grew up with a ho…

via Instagram 10.15.15

someone asked me if i am bipolar today. No, i am not bipolar. i have what's called, mood disorder. it's in the severe-depression family but it's not the same as being bipolar. I don't have multiple personalities. Instead, I experience really high highs and the darkest of lows. They can happen within minutes, days, weeks.. Just depends. I don't experience manic episodes but certain things trigger my lows and when I am in the darkness, if I don't reach out for help, it's often quite difficult to see my way out. Most times, I don't even see the low moods coming but when they do, I try to reflect on what caused it. Once I figure that out, I learn more about myself as a woman. It's an interesting process of growth. But no matter the titles, living with a mental illness is scary as hell sometimes. it can cause you to lose yourself if you don't get help. I write about my sanity, for one because it keeps me sane, and two to inspire others to know: you a…


Author’s Note for First Time Valencia's Garden Readers: This is part 6 of a series of memoirs that have been published about my recent trip to Cuba. Click here to start with the Preface.
Day 1 – Monday, June 15th, 2015  7:31PM

My eyes trace journeys across seas. I read tangerine painted walls with black Sharpie-inked tags written and drawn by hundreds of Casa de Linda’s former inhabitants. Colliding countries left visible remains of the foisted wars fought between their people long before they were born: “ISRAEL” crossed out and covered with “PALISTINE” strike-marked and re-veiled with “ISRAEL” and then, a small but bold, open mouthed sad-face and word-bubble saying, "Equality for ALL!” underneath the silent battle. I sit alone. Writing in my black, Italian leather journal that he surprised me with last weekend when he met me at the Bolt Bus stop on 33rd and 11th. I hear his voice through the texts he sent me this morning after we FaceTimed, "Sorry I couldn’t be there today …

Leave it to Me to Fall into Some Racist BS After Meeting Raquel Cepeda

1:47 AM
Supposed to be finishing the next part of my Cuba story so I can post it in the morning. Wishing I would've Ubered home. It took like 30 minutes for this A and now that I'm on it, I'm annoyed. A real life Radio Raheem just got in this car. Wearing a pair of Jordan flip flops with Puma socks. All black everything, even the duffle bag used to house the speaker that's blasting the wackest trap music ever. I want to tell him to stop being inconsiderate and turn it off or at least he can play some Future or Drake, sh't, anybody but whom ever this is saying, "Tell this b^tch to give me some head tonight!" Every-freaking-line ends with with b^tch. Why sir? Why? 

I just want to write my feelings about meeting Raquel Cepeda at the Brooklyn Museum tonight, while they're still fresh. Her energy was piercingly infectious. I keep looking at our picture and I know it will be a legendary poster in some teacher's classroom one day. Seriously, now I know how…

Guns and Rings