GUEST BLOGGER RENEE – MY TRANSGENDER CHILD

On June 14, 1996 I had my first child, he was the perfect boy you can ever meet. Well raised by me only. I knew he was special at the age of 5. When they say mothers know first, yes they do. I knew at that age he was different but kept it to myself. 


His father only donated his sperm, he hated me because when I was pregnant I wouldn’t get an abortion. I remember going to a clinic doing an ultrasound and the doctor telling me I’m at the weeks where we need to talk about the procedure that will be done in 2 days, and you have to take 2 pills. One pill will open the cervix and the other pill will push the fetus down enough so the doctor can perform the procedure. I looked at my cousin and said, “I’m out of here.”  From that day on forward he never took care of his son financially, never given him a talk, never took him to a ball game, or hugged him. 


At the age of 6, I lost a custody battle to the father. He took me through hell and back. At age 11, I regained full custody. From this incident he refused to see or be a part of his life. During my son’s high school years he became more comfortable with himself, his father really stopped acknowledging him because he was gay. When my son was sent off to his prom, his father never came to see him off or attend his graduation. For some reason, I think that hurt me more than my son. After high school my son began taking hormone pills. It was hard for me at first, but I still stood by him. A year after my son graduated, his brother by another woman graduated from high school. My son and I went to see him off to the prom and their father was there as well. I watched and overheard their father discuss how expensive the prom was that he paid for it.  At that moment I was so hurt knowing he helped the other mother but not me. My son for the past 14-16 years will still go over his father’s family house but the father will never speak or acknowledge him. 
As of today, his father still doesn’t  accept the fact his son is a transgender and now he won’t acknowledge his other son who happens to be gay.  I’m doing my best to make this long story short, my life is like a book with my son. It has been a journey. Some times I beat myself up, and I still don’t know why it hurts me so bad that my son’s father won’t accept my son. He’s really a great person and I love him unconditionally.

GUEST POST: SEXUAL ABUSE CHRONICLES

Warning: For sensitive readers, this guest post was written by a sexual abuse survivor and some readers may find the details to be upsetting.

My name is Infiniti, I’m now 22 years old with a 1-year old child. I am a survivor of sexual molestation.

I am remembering my life based off elementary school, to middle school and high school because I can’t remember my age at these times in my life. I tried to forget honestly, but I can’t. In elementary school my stepdad touched me, he would wipe his penis across my butt back and forth while gripping on to my waist. I was just a young girl, but I knew it was wrong.

When I was in middle school my mother met my second stepdad. He was beyond disgusting he would wait until my mom would leave and answer her room door naked intentionally. He also touched me and showed me his penis, he walks in the kitchen and swiped his penis on my butt, he use to look at my butt and his penis would get hard, he tried to get me alone with him multiple times but I never would and then he brought me my first phone and started texting me at night asking me to come out my room. Every time I knocked on my mom’s door to ask her for something, he would answer naked.

He tried to rape me while home alone with him. It’s something I don’t think I will ever heal from. It’s hard to digest because today she’s (My Mother) is married to him.  My own Mother didn’t believe me. When I tried to tell her what he did.

Then there’s my dad… I used to live with him one morning before school he told me to lay with him until it’s time to go and I’ll never forget what we were watching Sponge Bob he laughed and reached his hands inside my shirt then squeezed and gripped tightly on my breast and brought me closer to him and pulled out his penis. He placed it on my butt then he pushed me off the bed and took me to school. He tried to bribe me with $5 not to tell I didn’t take the money and I got out the car and ran.

I acted out in school that whole day as a cry for help and the school called my mom and told her I was acting up. She beat me!  I told her why I was acting the way I was, and I could still feel those welts on my arms, legs and back. I told her that dad touched me, she called and asked, he lied. He lied to me, he lied to himself, he lied to my mom, he lied to god, he lied!  He said he didn’t do it and for me not to talk to him ever again. It hurt my soul cause I always wanted a bond with him.  I always wanted to be daddy’s little girl. I deserved that. I didn’t do anything wrong. I was a child.

Still to this day, I always felt like I messed that up by telling my mom what happened when I should have kept my mouth closed.  I still feel the same way I shouldn’t have even said anything.

 

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Note from Cherie: Reading this story broke my heart. I met this beautiful, talented young lady earlier this year but never knew the struggle she was living with. I need you to know telling was the right thing, love! I apologize your mother went into denial and didn’t have your back. Unfortunately, we see this cycle time and time again. Mothers internalize the situation and instead of defending their child they get defensive against the child and refuse to believe they could have made a bad choice in men.

60% of all black women are sexually abused by the age of 18! That means that there is a LARGE PERCENTAGE of predators in this world!

Infiniti, I need you to know first, I believe you! Second, I love you. Third, you are not alone in this world. Your hurts will be forever scars you will carry that will one day make you into the resilient Warrior Queen you are becoming! Stay strong for your child and let’s be the generation who breaks the cycle of abuse. Thank you for sharing this story. I know there is a reader out there who has lived the same reality with you. Many Blessings, Cherie’s World loves you!

GUEST BLOG: AN AUTISM JOURNEY – WHY I CHOSE TO HOMESCHOOL

My 13-year-old son, Johnny, was diagnosed with autism when he was 4-years -old. Johnny started Pre-K and attended the brick and mortar school until the second grade. By the second grade, I was done with both schools! They were doing the most {messed} up in school! My son was secluded from the kids in his classroom and wasn’t allowed to sit at his desk. His teacher was allowed to decide if she wanted him as a student in her classroom after he was already assigned to her class. He also wasn’t allowed to play at recess with his peers. He was placed in a storm shelter that the school used as a classroom for him along with his special education teacher. I sat inside the Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting fighting for my son to be able to be in a classroom with his classmates and I was told, “No!” I refused to sign an IEP! Parents, please be aware that it is your legal right to refuse to sign an IEP! Do not allow the school to bully you into signing something you don’t agree with. They will be upset but who cares?! Their reasons for being upset are because most of the time they don’t like doing the work that is required in the IEP because it is too much like asking them to do their ACTUAL job! I thought that my IEP team would be more supportive and knowledgeable about what we needed to better serve my son. The lack of support from both schools proved that I was the only advocate for my son. Dealing with the school system was extremely overwhelming. I even found us as an autism advocate, who like myself, the school hated to see coming. She would attend all of my son’s IEP meetings with me and would speak on my behalf we would have a list of things that we thought would be beneficial to Johnny’s education. The way that she fought for my son’s rights was admirable and I will never forget her. She was my inspiration to become an autism advocate!
The school called the Department of Children and Families (DCF) on me and opened a false case against me stating that I was “neglecting” my son because I decided to take him off of his Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder (ADHD) medicine (the meds were causing him to grow female breast and it started to become difficult for his teacher to wake him up from his naps). They also stated that Johnny was seen walking on our main highway at 3:00 am. SMH! The lies that were said about me were outrageous and for months I was investigated DCF would do random pop-ups at my home. She took us to the autism center where he had to be retested for autism for her records. She also took us to the JD McCarthy treatment facility for children with autism to see if he could be accepted for a 30-day “monitoring” I had already decided against that as I wasn’t leaving my son in a facility. I cooperated with the caseworker. I had nothing to hide nor had I committed any crime. I was doing what I thought was best for my son. My caseworker was extremely resourceful and begin to point me in the direction to link me to services that were beneficial to us. I was investigated by DCF for months before the case was closed due to a lack of evidence that supported their claims of child neglect or abuse.
I took back the reigns of control and unenrolled my son out of school in October of 2014 – he had just started the second grade. The principal bought the forms to our home, I signed them and that was it! Johnny currently homeschools with me and he attends Epic Charter School an online academy that we love! He meets with his teacher once a week here at our local library and is getting ready to go into the 7th grade! He receives occupational therapy once a week and speech therapy twice a week through teletherapy which is convenient because it’s done through the Zoom video chat app, it also saves us a drive every week to Oklahoma City. His teacher is amazing! And so is our IEP team. This is the first time where I have felt like our team cares and we finally fit in somewhere. Homeschooling and autism are challenging because of the way that Johnny learns I have to always come up with ways to fit his specific learning style whether that is cutting his school day from two hours a day back to thirty minutes a day or using counters to help him learn addition and subtraction. But it is not the end of the world or punishment to any parents because I have spoken with parents who blame themselves for their child’s autism. Keep fighting the good fight for your children as you’re their biggest advocate!
                                                                                                                       Lashanda Wallace, Inc.
                                                                                                                             Autism Advocate

Guest Blogger: Tia M. Ivy

My name is Tia M. Ivy, around 2010/2011, I begin to notice nodules in my armpits then later in other areas of my body. It was not until 2017, that my Primary Care Physician diagnosed me with Hidradenitis Suppurativa. My Primary Care Physician did a physical examination, prescribed antibiotics and advised me to follow up with a dermatologist. During my dermatology visit, a boil was swabbed to rule out any other skin conditions or infections. Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes painful lumps and nodules to develop in the armpits, groin, breast, thigh and anal regions. It is believed that the disease is caused by an obstruction to the hair follicles and inflammation of the sweat glands. Hidradenitis Suppurativa is  more prevalent in women and African-Americans. Some studies have found that 30 to 40 percent of affected individuals have at least one family member with the disorder. On the average there is a 7-year delay in diagnosis.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa usually develops around puberty because this is when sweat glands are activated by hormones called sex hormones which increases during puberty. I believe I have had this disease my entire life. Around age 12 or 13, I began to have issues with deodorant. My underarm perspiration was stronger in smell than most young girls my age. There were many years of trying to find deodorants that would prevent or reduce perspiration to help with the odor.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa affects every aspect of your life. I frequently deal with bouts of depression, anxiety and severe pain due to the lumps and nodules. There are days when I do not want to get out of bed or go to bed around 6 p.m. and not wake up until the next morning. Going to the grocery store and shopping for groceries is difficult. Running simple errands is exhausting.

While there is no cure for the disease, there are treatments which help manage pain, reduce and prevent the formation of lumps and nodules. In September 2015, the Food and Drug Administration approved Humira for the treatment of moderate to severe Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Other treatments for Hidradenitis Suppurativa are antibiotics which help to reduce inflammation and stop new breakouts; corticosteroids that are injected into the lumps; pain medications that help relieve discomfort and surgical excision that removes the area affected by Hidradenitis Suppurativa. In October 2018, I underwent surgical excision to remove Hidradenitis Suppurativa from both my left and right thighs. In August 2019, I will undergo surgical excision to remove Hidradenitis Suppurativa from both my left and right underarms.

My advice to any that is suffering from Hidradenitis Suppurativa is to be hopeful and maintain a positive outlook. Learn everything you can about Hidradenitis Suppurativa, just maybe you might be able to help someone get an early diagnosis. Get emotional support for yourself, seek out other individuals who are also dealing with a chronic disease and find a new hobby.

GUEST BLOG – GOING TO WAR FOR MY BLACK CHILD

This week we are featuring a guest blog from Serrieh H. of It’s Hard out Here for a Hippie.  Read about her experience raising a Black child in America.

 

I am of Lebanese and German decent. My daughter is Black.  I can say this even though my heritage is not African American. Because in this society having one Black parent means she is Black.

Why is that? There is a saying in the Black neighborhood I used to live, “Black blood is so strong because Black people were the first race on this earth.” It’s a positive idea that can empower our Black youth, and I do acknowledge the scientific fact that the first people that walked this earth were African. It’s sad to say, I do not personally think that is why my child is considered Black in America.

There are some deep rooted stems of systematic racism that exists in our society today that no one can deny. Facts are indeed facts. I say all of this so that a complete picture is painted when I give you my perspective on raising a Black child as a non- black woman in America. It doesn’t just stop at educating yourself on how to brush those beautiful wondrous black curls or how to keep their skin from getting ashy but you must also be ready for WAR.

Ready for the war that American society has raised on the Black woman. A war that no matter how much we as fair skinned women empathize or fight with our black sisters, we will NEVER get the full scope of understanding on what they go through on a daily basis. So if we do not have that complete understanding, how we will give our daughter or son the tools she/he really needs in order to cope with being Black in America.

Now don’t get the two confused.  I love my daughter just as much as a Black mother would. I want the best for her and want her to have all of her dreams come true. I suffer when she suffers and when she is in pain I want to take it away from her. I can teach her right from wrong and how to be kind and generous to all creations on this earth. I can teach her to think for herself and be courageous and proud to be a strong woman, giving her a sense of independence and self-esteem that so many of our young women lack today. I can give her the understanding of something greater than us, that we humble ourselves to teaching her deep spirituality while also showing her how to have some fun too!

If you are not a person of color and you are reading this, I am almost sure you are probably thinking, well damn isn’t that enough? Any child would be blessed with a parent that can give them all of that. But the truth is, I can give her even more, but I cannot teach her how to be Black in America.

They day I figured this out I hate to tell you was not some epic moment when I was spiritually awakened with this self-knowledge. I was actually at Mc Donald’s in a white part of town and it was winter which in Los Angeles may not be considered winter at all for most. It was a time that the beaches became empty and that natural tan that fair skinned Southern Californians are known for was fading away.

My baby, who was almost four at the time, although pretty fair skinned for a bi-racial child held her tan tightly around her body and kept her deep caramel glow for most of winter.  We just finished ordering and all of the sudden this White lady who was about forty came up to me. She made her way through the crowd and left the line to approach me and say, “Wow, your baby’s skin is sooo amazing, how do you keep her that color, does she tan?”, in a shrill pitched voice which I noticed caught the attention of several other patrons.

I am looking at this damn lady waiting for her to smile or laugh because I know she had to be telling me a really distasteful joke that she must have thought was appropriate to tell. But she didn’t move a muscle, instead she just stared at me in my face as I was knelt down adjusting my daughter’s coat looking up at her. She was dead serious and was almost demanding an answer from me as if I was her child. She looked down at my daughter with such disdain and disgust, that I knew her comment came from a much darker place than just not knowing any better.

It was at that moment I knew I could prepare my daughter to conquer the world but I could NOT prepare her to be black in America.  I could not prepare her for what it would feel like when someone like this lady went to war with the color of my child’s skin.

As much as I felt like physically pushing this lady out of my face and really going to war, I knew I had to teach my daughter ways to handle racism without her fists. As a Black person in America, a physical altercation could lead to much more than just night in jail. I had to give her an arsenal of words to use as weapons to protect herself from the undeniable fact of what she would be facing as a Black woman in America. I needed to show her how to defend herself without losing herself in the process as she entered the battle field of American society.

I shot a few choice words back at this lady to show my daughter not to ever accept such racism when it is fired directly at her. I stood up slowly, fiercely facing her woman to woman, got really close to her and said in a calm and steady voice, “Are you f**king kidding me, do I take my kid to tan? How ignorant could you really be and who the hell would take their four-year-old child to a tanning salon?” I then yelled so everyone could hear me that was already trying to listen, “Her skin is so amazing because she is mixed with beautiful strong black blood!” I swung my daughter onto my hip, grabbed my food and stared at everyone in the eyes daring them to say something to me as I stormed out. I was shaking trying to get in the car and to be honest I was bewildered, upset and then completely enraged. It was my first of many wars that I would battle for the color of my child’s skin.

I realized it would not be enough just to teach her not to see the color of someone’s skin and give her the knowledge that we are all created equal although it seemed the right thing to do. The cold hard truth was it would actually be a disservice to my child as she would not have the privilege of just not seeing color.

I now knew how important and crucial my role as a non-black mother would be to my Black child. I was going to have to fight for my child, go to war for my Black child and make sure she had the tools to know how to be black in America.

How did I do that? The first step was to accept the fact that it is ok to need a village and that I could not do this alone. I had to give her some sense of black community. She needed to feel her roots with other black people. She needed not only her strong mother in her life as role model but she needed strong black women and men in her life as role models too. I realized by not providing this environment to my child, I was actually taking away more from her than I could ever give her in replace.

I also taught her about her heritage and what black people went through in the time of slavery. The triumphs and battles they fought so she could be here and feel like she actually might have a fighting chance. I never let her forget she was black but also showed her the strength and beauty of that part of her heritage. It is important to make sure to highlight the great positivity and unity that the black community had and has today. This is something you cannot get from the main stream media but I promise it is there, you just need to be open to seeing and seeking it. I showed her that I loved all people and especially had a respect for my black brothers and sisters, embracing the magic that they have in them which in turn empowered her. I filled her with knowledge of not only the oppression black people went through but also the amazing accomplishments and the great attributes they contribute to society as a whole.

In essence I celebrated her blackness.